BOOK II. OLD AND YOUNG.
15. CHAPTER XV.
Lydgate stood mute, and unconsciously pressed his hat on while he
looked at her. He saw this woman--the first to whom he had given
his young adoration--amid the throng of stupid criminals.
"You are a good young man," she said. "But I do not like husbands.
I will never have another."
Three days afterwards Lydgate was at his galvanism again in his
Paris chambers, believing that illusions were at an end for him.
He was saved from hardening effects by the abundant kindness
of his heart and his belief that human life might be made better.
But he had more reason than ever for trusting his judgment,
now that it was so experienced; and henceforth he would take
a strictly scientific view of woman, entertaining no expectations
but such as were justified beforehand.
No one in Middle march was likely to have such a notion of Lydgate's
past as has here been faintly shadowed, and indeed the respectable
townsfolk there were not more given than mortals generally to any
eager attempt at exactness in the representation to themselves
of what did not come under their own senses. Not only young virgins
of that town, but gray-bearded men also, were often in haste to
conjecture how a new acquaintance might be wrought into their purposes,
contented with very vague knowledge as to the way in which life had
been shaping him for that instrumentality. Middlemarch, in fact,
counted on swallowing Lydgate and assimilating him very comfortably.