Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slow Read: Middlemarch Book 3, Chapters 28-33

CHAPTER XXVIII. 1st Gent. All times are good to seek your wedded home Bringing a mutual delight. 2d Gent. Why, true. The calendar hath not an evil day For souls made one by love, and even death Were sweetness, if it came like rolling waves While they two clasped each other, and foresaw No life apart.

CHAPTER XXIX. "I found that no genius in another could please me. My unfortunate paradoxes had entirely dried up that source of comfort."--GOLDSMITH.

It is an uneasy lot at best, to be what we call highly taught and yet not to enjoy: to be present at this great spectacle of life and never to be liberated from a small hungry shivering self-- never to be fully possessed by the glory we behold, never to have our consciousness rapturously transformed into the vividness of a thought, the ardor of a passion, the energy of an action, but always to be scholarly and uninspired, ambitious and timid, scrupulous and dim-sighted.

Casaubon is a small man, who managed to land a great wife.

CHAPTER XXX. "Qui veut delasser hors de propos, lasse."--PASCAL.
Translation, thanks to this blogger: Whoever tries to divert us at the wrong time tires us out
Lydgate would have taken no notice of these words as anything more than the Vicar's usual way of putting things. They seemed now to convey an innuendo which confirmed the impression that he had been making a fool of himself and behaving so as to be misunderstood: not, he believed, by Rosamond herself; she, he felt sure, took everything as lightly as he intended it.

Or not. Clueless. Everyone is clueless.

CHAPTER XXXI. How will you know the pitch of that great bell Too large for you to stir? Let but a flute Play 'neath the fine-mixed metal listen close Till the right note flows forth, a silvery rill. Then shall the huge bell tremble--then the mass With myriad waves concurrent shall respond In low soft unison.
That moment of naturalness was the crystallizing feather-touch: it shook flirtation into love. Remember that the ambitious man who was looking at those Forget-me-nots under the water was very warm-hearted and rash. He did not know where the chain went; an idea had thrilled through the recesses within him which had a miraculous effect in raising the power of passionate love lying buried there in no sealed sepulchre, but under the lightest, easily pierced mould. His words were quite abrupt and awkward; but the tone made them sound like an ardent, appealing avowal. "What is the matter? you are distressed. Tell me, pray."

So how it happens...a crystallizing moment. Words unfold, love awakened. So seemingly inconsequential, but that enormous fullness of love was just shimmering beneath a thin skin, ready for a single moment to allow it to burst out.

CHAPTER XXXII. "They'll take suggestion as a cat laps milk." --SHAKESPEARE: Tempest.
For the old man's dislike of his own family seemed to get stronger as he got less able to amuse himself by saying biting things to them. Too languid to sting, he had the more venom refluent in his blood. Not fully believing the message sent through Mary Garth, they had presented themselves together within the door of the bedroom, both in black--Mrs. Waule having a white handkerchief partially unfolded in her hand--and both with faces in a sort of half-mourning purple...

The vultures circle, waiting to feast on the old man's remains.

CHAPTER XXXIII. "Close up his eyes and draw the curtain close; And let us all to meditation." --2 Henry VI.
In a very little while there was no longer any doubt that Peter Featherstone was dead, with his right hand clasping the keys, and his left hand lying on the heap of notes and gold.
This death scene was so Dickensian, was it not? Mary Garth alone with the old man, who would pull his puppet strings of the people around him to his last breath, but she would not be put in that spot.

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