BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
7. CHAPTER VII.
"Piacer e popone
Vuol la sua stagione."
Mr. Casaubon, as might be expected, spent a great deal of his time
at the Grange in these weeks, and the hindrance which courtship
occasioned to the progress of his great work--the Key to all
Mythologies--naturally made him look forward the more eagerly
to the happy termination of courtship. But he had deliberately
incurred the hindrance, having made up his mind that it was now time
for him to adorn his life with the graces of female companionship,
to irradiate the gloom which fatigue was apt to hang over the intervals
of studious labor with the play of female fancy, and to secure in this,
his culminating age, the solace of female tendance for his declining years.
Hence he determined to abandon himself to the stream of feeling,
and perhaps was surprised to find what an exceedingly shallow rill
it was. As in droughty regions baptism by immersion could only be
performed symbolically, Mr. Casaubon found that sprinkling was
the utmost approach to a plunge which his stream would afford him;
and he concluded that the poets had much exaggerated the force
of masculine passion. Nevertheless, he observed with pleasure that
Miss Brooke showed an ardent submissive affection which promised
to fulfil his most agreeable previsions of marriage. It had once
or twice crossed his mind that possibly there, was some deficiency
in Dorothea to account for the moderation of his abandonment;
but he was unable to discern the deficiency, or to figure to himself
a woman who would have pleased him better; so that there was clearly
no reason to fall back upon but the exaggerations of human tradition.
"Could I not be preparing myself now to be more useful?"
said Dorothea to him, one morning, early in the time of courtship;
"could I not learn to read Latin and Greek aloud to you, as Milton's
daughters did to their father, without understanding what they read?"
"I fear that would be wearisome to you," said Mr. Casaubon, smiling;
"and, indeed, if I remember rightly, the young women you have
mentioned regarded that exercise in unknown tongues as a ground
for rebellion against the poet."