Monday, October 10, 2011

Slow Read: Middlemarch Book 7

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (Broadview Editions)BOOK VII. TWO TEMPTATIONS. 
I presume the two temptations are a continuation of the story of the widow and the wife.

CHAPTER LXIII. These little things are great to little man.--GOLDSMITH.

Mr. Farebrother noticed that Lydgate seemed bored, and that Mr. Vincy spoke as little as possible to his son-in-law. Rosamond was perfectly graceful and calm, and only a subtle observation such as the Vicar had not been roused to bestow on her would have perceived the total absence of that interest in her husband's presence which a loving wife is sure to betray, even if etiquette keeps her aloof from him.
Poor Mr. Farebrother.  Is he who notices the subtle details of the relationships of others doomed to have no intimate relationships for himself?
"Ah, there's enormous patience wanted with the way of the world. But it is the easier for a man to wait patiently when he has friends who love him, and ask for nothing better than to help him through, so far as it lies in their power." "Oh yes," said Lydgate, in a careless tone, changing his attitude and looking at his watch. "People make much more of their difficulties than they need to do." He knew as distinctly as possible that this was an offer of help to himself from Mr. Farebrother, and he could not bear it. So strangely determined are we mortals, that, after having been long gratified with the sense that he had privately done the Vicar a service, the suggestion that the Vicar discerned his need of a service in return made him shrink into unconquerable reticence.
Ah, the control.  For some it is easier to dispense help rather than receive.  To receive help means one is not in control and on top of things. To give help means others are obligated to you, to receive help means you are obligated to others.  I don't think that bothers Lydgate so much as that his life is out of control, but if he can take care of it himself he maintains the illusion of control.

CHAPTER LXIV. 1st Gent. Where lies the power, there let the blame lie too. 2d Gent. Nay, power is relative; you cannot fright The coming pest with border fortresses, Or catch your carp with subtle argument. All force is twain in one: cause is not cause Unless effect be there; and action's self Must needs contain a passive. So command Exists but with obedience."

Who has the power?  And even if they have the power, it cannot exist without those who are obedient.  So do the obedient ones have the power, as without their passivity, the power could not exist?
It was because Lydgate writhed under the idea of getting his neck beneath this vile yoke that he had fallen into a bitter moody state which was continually widening Rosamond's alienation from him. After the first disclosure about the bill of sale, he had made many efforts to draw her into sympathy with him about possible measures for narrowing their expenses, and with the threatening approach of Christmas his propositions grew more and more definite.
It appears Rosamond has the power, and Lydgate gives it to her.  She would go to London, a pie in the sky idea, but there's no getting around her will.
"To do what? What is the use of my leaving my work in Middlemarch to go where I have none? We should be just as penniless elsewhere as we are here," said Lydgate still more angrily. "If we are to be in that position it will be entirely your own doing, Tertius," said Rosamond, turning round to speak with the fullest conviction.
While we, the reader, can see that she had a big hand in it with her spending on her trousseau, no one in the book, that I can remember, tells Rosamond she needs to take responsibility.
He had long ago made up his mind to what he thought was her negative character--her want of sensibility, which showed itself in disregard both of his specific wishes and of his general aims. The first great disappointment had been borne: the tender devotedness and docile adoration of the ideal wife must be renounced, and life must be taken up on a lower stage of expectation, as it is by men who have lost their limbs.
Rather than talk about this, Lydgate bears it all silently as his lot.  What he thinks is her negative character is her stubborn willfulness.  He doesn't get that she willfully does what she does, and that she has no respect for him. I wonder if the mere case of his falling in love with her due to her distress would make this inevitable.

CHAPTER LXV. "One of us two must bowen douteless, And, sith a man is more reasonable Than woman is, ye [men] moste be suffrable. --CHAUCER: Canterbury Tales.

This is about the power again...since one must bow before the other, and a man will be more reasonable, he must bow before the unreasonable woman?  Or he's operating on a different system than she is, so he gets the shorter end?  This seems to be the case with Tertius and Rosamond.  He shouldn't underestimate her.
 Lydgate paused in his movements, looked at her again, and said, with biting severity-- "Will this be enough to convince you of the harm you may do by secret meddling? Have you sense enough to recognize now your incompetence to judge and act for me--to interfere with your ignorance in affairs which it belongs to me to decide on?"
Lydgate shouldn't consider Rosamond incompetent.  That seems more benign than she deserves.  She wouldn't care about her ignorance, she thinks she can make things happen the way she wills.
Lydgate flung himself into a chair, feeling checkmated. What place was there in her mind for a remonstrance to lodge in? He laid down his hat, flung an arm over the back of his chair, and looked down for some moments without speaking.
Darn right he's checkmated.
"It is so very hard to be disgraced here among all the people we know, and to live in such a miserable way. I wish I had died with the baby." She spoke and wept with that gentleness which makes such words and tears omnipotent over a loving-hearted man. Lydgate drew his chair near to hers and pressed her delicate head against his cheek with his powerful tender hand. He only caressed her; he did not say anything; for what was there to say?
And her conquest is complete.

CHAPTER LXVI. " 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, Another thing to fall." --Measure for Measure.
Some of that twice-blessed mercy was always with Lydgate in his work at the Hospital or in private houses, serving better than any opiate to quiet and sustain him under his anxieties and his sense of mental degeneracy. Mr. Farebrother's suspicion as to the opiate was true, however. 
Will Dr. Lydgate fall from this?  I find it hard to believe. Is this one of the two temptations?

And Fred?  Is gambling to be his temptation again? He had...
ten pounds which he meant to reserve for himself from his half-year's salary (having before him the pleasure of carrying thirty to Mrs. Garth when Mary was likely to be come home again)-- he had those ten pounds in his mind as a fund from which he might risk something, if there were a chance of a good bet.
Nope, not Fred, but Lydgate, gambling.
Fred felt a shock greater than he could quite account for by the vague knowledge that Lydgate was in debt, and that his father had refused to help him; and his own inclination to enter into the play was suddenly checked. It was a strange reversal of attitudes: Fred's blond face and blue eyes, usually bright and careless, ready to give attention to anything that held out a promise of amusement, looking involuntarily grave and almost embarrassed as if by the sight of something unfitting; while Lydgate, who had habitually an air of self-possessed strength, and a certain meditativeness that seemed to lie behind his most observant attention, was acting, watching, speaking with that excited narrow consciousness which reminds one of an animal with fierce eyes and retractile claws.
And Mr. Farebrother seals the deal of Fred's reformation.
Perhaps Mr. Farebrother's might be concentrated into a single shrug and one little speech. "To think of the part one little woman can play in the life of a man, so that to renounce her may be a very good imitation of heroism, and to win her may be a discipline!"
CHAPTER LXVII. Now is there civil war within the soul: Resolve is thrust from off the sacred throne By clamorous Needs, and Pride the grand-vizier Makes humble compact, plays the supple part Of envoy and deft-tongued apologist For hungry rebels.

Lydgate asks for Bulstrode's help with his money owed.  He is declined.

CHAPTER LXVIII. "What suit of grace hath Virtue to put on If Vice shall wear as good, and do as well? If Wrong, if Craft, if Indiscretion Act as fair parts with ends as laudable? Which all this mighty volume of events The world, the universal map of deeds, Strongly controls, and proves from all descents, That the directest course still best succeeds. For should not grave and learn'd Experience That looks with the eyes of all the world beside, And with all ages holds intelligence, Go safer than Deceit without a guide! --DANIEL: Musophilus.

Gah, these old wordings can be difficult to interpret.  To think that once upon a time I read the original Chaucer and apparently understood it.  This chapter is about Bulstrode...that gives me a clue.  Ahh.  His fortune begun in vice, in the end, he will get his, even though he wore the suit of virtue, to cover up, or repent, of his ill-gotten beginnings.

CHAPTER LXIX. "If thou hast heard a word, let it die with thee." --Ecclesiasticus.

While Bulstrode hoped Raffles spoke to no one else, the man did, and consequently Mr. Garth quits.
"No," said Caleb, lifting his hand deprecatingly; "I am ready to believe better, when better is proved. I rob you of no good chance. As to speaking, I hold it a crime to expose a man's sin unless I'm clear it must be done to save the innocent. That is my way of thinking, Mr. Bulstrode, and what I say, I've no need to swear. I wish you good-day."
In other news, Lydgate seems to have hit bottom.

CHAPTER LXX. Our deeds still travel with us from afar, And what we have been makes us what we are."

The chapter in which Bulstrode repents of his treatment of Lydgate, and he somehow needs to shut up Raffles. Dr. Lydgate treats Raffles (with no knowledge of the true connection to Bulstrode) and Bulstrode gets instructions on the man's care.  The innocent view: Bulstrode repents and helps Lydgate with his money problems, and the mistake with the instructions is just a mistake.  The guilty view: Bulstrode bribes, and Lydgate looks the other way.  The truth: somewhere in between, with a bit of unconscious desires mixed in.

CHAPTER LXXI. Clown. . . . 'Twas in the Bunch of Grapes, where, indeed, you have a delight to sit, have you not? Froth. I have so: because it is an open room, and good for winter. Clo. Why, very well then: I hope here be truths. --Measure for Measure.

Hmmm. The second quote from this Shakespeare I have not read.  Oh well.  Maybe I'll get a chance to read it before I read Middlemarch again someday.  If gossip is involved, little chance of truths here.
Hence, in spite of the negative as to any direct sign of guilt in relation to the death at Stone Court, Mr. Hawley's select party broke up with the sense that the affair had "an ugly look." But this vague conviction of indeterminable guilt, which was enough to keep up much head-shaking and biting innuendo even among substantial professional seniors, had for the general mind all the superior power of mystery over fact.
You can't get more public than a town meeting. So were the two temptations more about these men than about Fred or Rosamond?  If they yielded to temptation, it doesn't appear to have been entirely conscious...and if unconscious, can it be said they did yield to temptation?  And does it matter if the public has tried them in the gossip and found them guilty?
Lydgate felt sure there was not strength enough in him to walk away without support. What could he do? He could not see a man sink close to him for want of help. He rose and gave his arm to Bulstrode, and in that way led him out of the room; yet this act, which might have been one of gentle duty and pure compassion, was at this moment unspeakably bitter to him. It seemed as if he were putting his sign-manual to that association of himself with Bulstrode, of which he now saw the full meaning as it must have presented itself to other minds. He now felt the conviction that this man who was leaning tremblingly on his arm, had given him the thousand pounds as a bribe, and that somehow the treatment of Raffles had been tampered with from an evil motive.
Lydgate seals his fate as an accomplice, yet as a doctor he still cannot turn away from a man in distress.

No comments: