BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
11. CHAPTER XI.
"But deeds and language such as men do use,
And persons such as comedy would choose,
When she would show an image of the times,
And sport with human follies, not with crimes."
Lydgate, in fact, was already conscious of being fascinated by a
woman strikingly different from Miss Brooke: he did not in the
least suppose that he had lost his balance and fallen in love,
but he had said of that particular woman, "She is grace itself;
she is perfectly lovely and accomplished. That is what a woman
ought to be: she ought to produce the effect of exquisite music."
Plain women he regarded as he did the other severe facts of life,
to be faced with philosophy and investigated by science. But Rosamond
Vincy seemed to have the true melodic charm; and when a man has seen
the woman whom he would have chosen if he had intended to marry speedily,
his remaining a bachelor will usually depend on her resolution
rather than on his. Lydgate believed that he should not marry for
several years: not marry until he had trodden out a good clear path
for himself away from the broad road which was quite ready made.
He had seen Miss Vincy above his horizon almost as long as it
had taken Mr. Casaubon to become engaged and married: but this
learned gentleman was possessed of a fortune; he had assembled his
voluminous notes, and had made that sort of reputation which precedes
performance,--often the larger part of a man's fame. He took a wife,
as we have seen, to adorn the remaining quadrant of his course,
and be a little moon that would cause hardly a calculable perturbation.
But Lydgate was young, poor, ambitious. He had his half-century
before him instead of behind him, and he had come to Middlemarch bent
on doing many things that were not directly fitted to make his fortune
or even secure him a good income. To a man under such circumstances,
taking a wife is something more than a question of adornment,
however highly he may rate this; and Lydgate was disposed to give
it the first place among wifely functions. To his taste, guided by
a single conversation, here was the point on which Miss Brooke
would be found wanting, notwithstanding her undeniable beauty.
She did not look at things from the proper feminine angle.
The society of such women was about as relaxing as going from your
work to teach the second form, instead of reclining in a paradise
with sweet laughs for bird-notes, and blue eyes for a heaven.