BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
9. CHAPTER IX.
1st Gent. An ancient land in ancient oracles
Is called "law-thirsty": all the struggle there
Was after order and a perfect rule.
Pray, where lie such lands now? . . .
2d Gent. Why, where they lay of old--in human souls.
Mr. Casaubon's behavior about settlements was highly satisfactory
to Mr. Brooke, and the preliminaries of marriage rolled smoothly along,
shortening the weeks of courtship. The betrothed bride must see
her future home, and dictate any changes that she would like to have
made there. A woman dictates before marriage in order that she
may have an appetite for submission afterwards. And certainly,
the mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our
own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it.
On a gray but dry November morning Dorothea drove to Lowick
in company with her uncle and Celia. Mr. Casaubon's home was
the manor-house. Close by, visible from some parts of the garden,
was the little church, with the old parsonage opposite.
In the beginning of his career, Mr. Casaubon had only held
the living, but the death of his brother had put him in possession
of the manor also. It had a small park, with a fine old oak here
and there, and an avenue of limes towards the southwest front,
with a sunk fence between park and pleasure-ground, so that from the
drawing-room windows the glance swept uninterruptedly along a slope
of greensward till the limes ended in a level of corn and pastures,
which often seemed to melt into a lake under the setting sun.
This was the happy side of the house, for the south and east looked
rather melancholy even under the brightest morning. The grounds here
were more confined, the flower-beds showed no very careful tendance,
and large clumps of trees, chiefly of sombre yews, had risen high,
not ten yards from the windows. The building, of greenish stone,
was in the old English style, not ugly, but small-windowed and
melancholy-looking: the sort of house that must have children,
many flowers, open windows, and little vistas of bright things,
to make it seem a joyous home. In this latter end of autumn,
with a sparse remnant of yellow leaves falling slowly athwart the dark
evergreens in a stillness without sunshine, the house too had an air
of autumnal decline, and Mr. Casaubon, when he presented himself,
had no bloom that could be thrown into relief by that background.