BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
5. CHAPTER V.
"Hard students are commonly troubled with gowts, catarrhs,
rheums, cachexia, bradypepsia, bad eyes, stone, and collick,
crudities, oppilations, vertigo, winds, consumptions, and all such
diseases as come by over-much sitting: they are most part lean,
dry, ill-colored . . . and all through immoderate pains and
extraordinary studies. If you will not believe the truth of this,
look upon great Tostatus and Thomas Aquainas' works; and tell me whether
those men took pains." --BURTON'S Anatomy of Melancholy, P. I, s. 2.
This was Mr. Casaubon's letter.
MY DEAR MISS BROOKE,--I have your guardian's permission to address
you on a subject than which I have none more at heart. I am not,
I trust, mistaken in the recognition of some deeper correspondence
than that of date in the fact that a consciousness of need in my
own life had arisen contemporaneously with the possibility of my
becoming acquainted with you. For in the first hour of meeting you,
I had an impression of your eminent and perhaps exclusive fitness
to supply that need (connected, I may say, with such activity of the
affections as even the preoccupations of a work too special to be
abdicated could not uninterruptedly dissimulate); and each succeeding
opportunity for observation has given the impression an added
depth by convincing me more emphatically of that fitness which I
had preconceived, and thus evoking more decisively those affections
to which I have but now referred. Our conversations have, I think,
made sufficiently clear to you the tenor of my life and purposes:
a tenor unsuited, I am aware, to the commoner order of minds.
But I have discerned in you an elevation of thought and a capability
of devotedness, which I had hitherto not conceived to be compatible
either with the early bloom of youth or with those graces of sex that
may be said at once to win and to confer distinction when combined,
as they notably are in you, with the mental qualities above indicated.
It was, I confess, beyond my hope to meet with this rare combination
of elements both solid and attractive, adapted to supply aid
in graver labors and to cast a charm over vacant hours; and but
for the event of my introduction to you (which, let me again say,
I trust not to be superficially coincident with foreshadowing needs,
but providentially related thereto as stages towards the completion
of a life's plan), I should presumably have gone on to the last
without any attempt to lighten my solitariness by a matrimonial union.