BOOK II. OLD AND YOUNG.
13. CHAPTER XIII.
1st Gent. How class your man?--as better than the most,
Or, seeming better, worse beneath that cloak?
As saint or knave, pilgrim or hypocrite?
2d Gent. Nay, tell me how you class your wealth of books
The drifted relics of all time.
As well sort them at once by size and livery:
Vellum, tall copies, and the common calf
Will hardly cover more diversity
Than all your labels cunningly devised
To class your unread authors.
In consequence of what he had heard from Fred, Mr. Vincy determined
to speak with Mr. Bulstrode in his private room at the Bank
at half-past one, when he was usually free from other callers.
But a visitor had come in at one o'clock, and Mr. Bulstrode had so
much to say to him, that there was little chance of the interview
being over in half an hour. The banker's speech was fluent,
but it was also copious, and he used up an appreciable amount
of time in brief meditative pauses. Do not imagine his sickly
aspect to have been of the yellow, black-haired sort: he had a pale
blond skin, thin gray-besprinkled brown hair, light-gray eyes,
and a large forehead. Loud men called his subdued tone an undertone,
and sometimes implied that it was inconsistent with openness;
though there seems to be no reason why a loud man should not be given
to concealment of anything except his own voice, unless it can be
shown that Holy Writ has placed the seat of candor in the lungs.
Mr. Bulstrode had also a deferential bending attitude in listening,
and an apparently fixed attentiveness in his eyes which made those
persons who thought themselves worth hearing infer that he was seeking
the utmost improvement from their discourse. Others, who expected
to make no great figure, disliked this kind of moral lantern turned
on them. If you are not proud of your cellar, there is no thrill of
satisfaction in seeing your guest hold up his wine-glass to the light
and look judicial. Such joys are reserved for conscious merit.
Hence Mr. Bulstrode's close attention was not agreeable to the
publicans and sinners in Middlemarch; it was attributed by some
to his being a Pharisee, and by others to his being Evangelical.
Less superficial reasoners among them wished to know who his father
and grandfather were, observing that five-and-twenty years ago nobody
had ever heard of a Bulstrode in Middlemarch. To his present visitor,
Lydgate, the scrutinizing look was a matter of indifference:
he simply formed an unfavorable opinion of the banker's constitution,
and concluded that he had an eager inward life with little enjoyment
of tangible things.