BOOK V. THE DEAD HAND.
45. CHAPTER XLV.
It is the humor of many heads to extol the days of their forefathers,
and declaim against the wickedness of times present. Which
notwithstanding they cannot handsomely do, without the borrowed help
and satire of times past; condemning the vices of their own times,
by the expressions of vices in times which they commend, which cannot
but argue the community of vice in both. Horace, therefore, Juvenal,
and Persius, were no prophets, although their lines did seem to indigitate
and point at our times.--SIR THOMAS BROWNE: Pseudodoxia Epidemica.
That opposition to the New Fever Hospital which Lydgate had sketched
to Dorothea was, like other oppositions, to be viewed in many
different lights. He regarded it as a mixture of jealousy and
dunderheaded prejudice. Mr. Bulstrode saw in it not only medical
jealousy but a determination to thwart himself, prompted mainly
by a hatred of that vital religion of which he had striven to be
an effectual lay representative--a hatred which certainly found
pretexts apart from religion such as were only too easy to find
in the entanglements of human action. These might be called the
ministerial views. But oppositions have the illimitable range of
objections at command, which need never stop short at the boundary
of knowledge, but can draw forever on the vasts of ignorance.
What the opposition in Middlemarch said about the New Hospital
and its administration had certainly a great deal of echo in it,
for heaven has taken care that everybody shall not be an originator;
but there were differences which represented every social shade
between the polished moderation of Dr. Minchin and the trenchant
assertion of Mrs. Dollop, the landlady of the Tankard in Slaughter Lane.
Mrs. Dollop became more and more convinced by her own asseveration,
that Dr. Lydgate meant to let the people die in the Hospital,
if not to poison them, for the sake of cutting them up without
saying by your leave or with your leave; for it was a known "fac"
that he had wanted to cut up Mrs. Goby, as respectable a woman
as any in Parley Street, who had money in trust before her marriage--
a poor tale for a doctor, who if he was good for anything should know
what was the matter with you before you died, and not want to pry
into your inside after you were gone. If that was not reason,
Mrs. Dollop wished to know what was; but there was a prevalent feeling
in her audience that her opinion was a bulwark, and that if it were
overthrown there would be no limits to the cutting-up of bodies,
as had been well seen in Burke and Hare with their pitch-plaisters--
such a hanging business as that was not wanted in Middlemarch!