Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Slow Read: Middlemarch Book 8 and Finale


CHAPTER LXXII. Full souls are double mirrors, making still An endless vista of fair things before, Repeating things behind.

 "I feel convinced that his conduct has not been guilty: I believe that people are almost always better than their neighbors think they are," said Dorothea. Some of her intensest experience in the last two years had set her mind strongly in opposition to any unfavorable construction of others; and for the first time she felt rather discontented with Mr. Farebrother.
Dorothea will be a champion for the buffeted Doctor.  She also defies Sir James.
But Sir James Chettam was no longer the diffident and acquiescent suitor: he was the anxious brother-in-law, with a devout admiration for his sister, but with a constant alarm lest she should fall under some new illusion almost as bad as marrying Casaubon. He smiled much less; when he said "Exactly" it was more often an introduction to a dissentient opinion than in those submissive bachelor days; and Dorothea found to her surprise that she had to resolve not to be afraid of him--all the more because he was really her best friend. He disagreed with her now. "But, Dorothea," he said, remonstrantly, "you can't undertake to manage a man's life for him in that way. Lydgate must know-- at least he will soon come to know how he stands. If he can clear himself, he will. He must act for himself."
I like Sir James, but I can't help but feel he is too unkind here.  I guess he's more concerned for harm Dorothea might experience, than that a man's life could be ruined over something he didn't do.  Or would his compassion allow him to let a man sink or swim in a pool full of sharks?
Besides, there is a man's character beforehand to speak for him." "But, my dear Mrs. Casaubon," said Mr. Farebrother, smiling gently at her ardor, "character is not cut in marble--it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do." "Then it may be rescued and healed," said Dorothea "I should not be afraid of asking Mr. Lydgate to tell me the truth, that I might help him. Why should I be afraid?
Whereas once Dorothea was innocent and passionate, insisting on a course that would inevitably be harmful, now she seems to be the only reasonable person due to that same passion tempered by experience.  Why should she be afraid?
People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors." Dorothea's eyes had a moist brightness in them, and the changed tones of her voice roused her uncle, who began to listen. "It is true that a woman may venture on some efforts of sympathy which would hardly succeed if we men undertook them," said Mr. Farebrother, almost converted by Dorothea's ardor.
I wonder if this is a key passage.  Is this the difference between men and women in the public sphere?  The difference between a savvy cleric and a saintly heart?  Why would this kind of effort of sympathy be unlikely to succeed if men undertook them?

CHAPTER LXXIII. Pity the laden one; this wandering woe May visit you and me.

Lydgate mulls greatly, how to present himself?
He would not retreat before calumny, as if he submitted to it. He would face it to the utmost, and no act of his should show that he was afraid. It belonged to the generosity as well as defiant force of his nature that he resolved not to shrink from showing to the full his sense of obligation to Bulstrode. 
CHAPTER LXXIV. "Mercifully grant that we may grow aged together." --BOOK OF TOBIT: Marriage Prayer.

How Middlemarch lets a wife know her place, thanks to her husband's actions:
Candor was one. To be candid, in Middlemarch phraseology, meant, to use an early opportunity of letting your friends know that you did not take a cheerful view of their capacity, their conduct, or their position; and a robust candor never waited to be asked for its opinion. Then, again, there was the love of truth--a wide phrase, but meaning in this relation, a lively objection to seeing a wife look happier than her husband's character warranted, or manifest too much satisfaction in her lot--the poor thing should have some hint given her that if she knew the truth she would have less complacency in her bonnet, and in light dishes for a supper-party. Stronger than all, there was the regard for a friend's moral improvement, sometimes called her soul, which was likely to be benefited by remarks tending to gloom, uttered with the accompaniment of pensive staring at the furniture and a manner implying that the speaker would not tell what was on her mind, from regard to the feelings of her hearer. On the whole, one might say that an ardent charity was at work setting the virtuous mind to make a neighbor unhappy for her good.
Catty, dark, mean, this gossip thing. Cue Kristen Bell, Gossip Girl narrator.  Kristen, read this for me, please?  No one could do it more justice.

Oddly, though, no one wished to tell Mrs. Bulstrode.  They didn't want to be mean to her. And when she does find out, first she mourns, then she stands by her man. One of the most touching moments in the book, I think.
He sat with his eyes bent down, and as she went towards him she thought he looked smaller-- he seemed so withered and shrunken. A movement of new compassion and old tenderness went through her like a great wave, and putting one hand on his which rested on the arm of the chair, and the other on his shoulder, she said, solemnly but kindly-- "Look up, Nicholas."
And in that simplicity, there is still complexity:
They could not yet speak to each other of the shame which she was bearing with him, or of the acts which had brought it down on them. His confession was silent, and her promise of faithfulness was silent. Open-minded as she was, she nevertheless shrank from the words which would have expressed their mutual consciousness, as she would have shrunk from flakes of fire. She could not say, "How much is only slander and false suspicion?" and he did not say, "I am innocent."

CHAPTER LXXV. "Le sentiment de la fausset? des plaisirs pr?sents, et l'ignorance de la vanit? des plaisirs absents causent l'inconstance."--PASCAL.
The sense of the falsity of present pleasures, and ignorance of the vanity of absent pleasures, cause inconstancy.
Meanwhile, Rosamond courts Ladislaw.
She even fancied--what will not men and women fancy in these matters?-- that Will exaggerated his admiration for Mrs. Casaubon in order to pique herself. In this way poor Rosamond's brain had been busy before Will's departure. 
CHAPTER LXXVI. "To mercy, pity, peace, and love All pray in their distress, And to these virtues of delight, Return their thankfulness. . . . . . . For Mercy has a human heart, Pity a human face; And Love, the human form divine; And Peace, the human dress. --WILLIAM BLAKE: Songs of Innocence.

Dorothea follows through:
"Not because there is no one to believe in you?" said Dorothea, pouring out her words in clearness from a full heart. "I know the unhappy mistakes about you. I knew them from the first moment to be mistakes. You have never done anything vile. You would not do anything dishonorable." It was the first assurance of belief in him that had fallen on Lydgate's ears. He drew a deep breath, and said, "Thank you." He could say no more: it was something very new and strange in his life that these few words of trust from a woman should be so much to him. "I beseech you to tell me how everything was," said Dorothea, fearlessly. "I am sure that the truth would clear you."
She is like a balm on his heart.  She even will help him with his marriage, though I wonder at the good that will do.
 following the impulse to let Dorothea see deeper into the difficulty of his life, he said, "The fact is, this trouble has come upon her confusedly. We have not been able to speak to each other about it. ... "May I go and see her?" said Dorothea, eagerly. "Would she accept my sympathy? I would tell her that you have not been blamable before any one's judgment but your own. I would tell her that you shall be cleared in every fair mind. I would cheer her heart. Will you ask her if I may go to see her? I did see her once." "I am sure you may," said Lydgate, seizing the proposition with some hope. ".... I will not speak to her about your coming--that she may not connect it with my wishes at all."
CHAPTER LXXVII. "And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot, To mark the full-fraught man and best indued With some suspicion." --Henry V.
There was evidently some mental separation, some barrier to complete confidence which had arisen between this wife and the husband who had yet made her happiness a law to him. That was a trouble which no third person must directly touch. But Dorothea thought with deep pity of the loneliness which must have come upon Rosamond from the suspicions cast on her husband; and there would surely be help in the manifestation of respect for Lydgate and sympathy with her.
Oh...if only Rosamond were as Dorothea imagines.

CHAPTER LXXVIII. "Would it were yesterday and I i' the grave, With her sweet faith above for monument"

In which Rosamond makes a move for Will, who is thoroughly disgusted, and Dorothea happens upon them at just the wrong moment.  Well, even though he hasn't been cleared in the eyes of his wife, Lydgate shines at what he does best.
"...Rosamond! has something agitated you?" Clinging to him she fell into hysterical sobbings and cries, and for the next hour he did nothing but soothe and tend her. He imagined that Dorothea had been to see her, and that all this effect on her nervous system, which evidently involved some new turning towards himself, was due to the excitement of the new impressions which that visit had raised. 
CHAPTER LXXIX. "Now, I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended their talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough, that was in the midst of the plain; and they, being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Despond."--BUNYAN.
We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our future selves, and see our own figures led with dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement. Poor Lydgate was inwardly groaning on that margin, and Will was arriving at it. It seemed to him this evening as if the cruelty of his outburst to Rosamond had made an obligation for him, and he dreaded the obligation: he dreaded Lydgate's unsuspecting good-will: he dreaded his own distaste for his spoiled life, which would leave him in motiveless levity.
I wonder if any other of the men would have felt this obligation after a burst of cruelty.  Mr. Garth perhaps.  Would others have even realized how they were cruel?  Not Sir James. Not Mr. Brooke. Mr. Farebrother wouldn't have got himself in that position: I think he'd see enough clues to avoid it.

CHAPTER LXXX. "Stern lawgiver! yet thou dost wear The Godhead's most benignant grace; Nor know we anything so fair As is the smile upon thy face; Flowers laugh before thee on their beds, And fragrance in thy footing treads; Thou dost preserve the Stars from wrong; And the most ancient Heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong. --WORDSWORTH: Ode to Duty.

Ahh...some comic relief via Miss Henrietta Noble.
...when suddenly some inarticulate little sounds were heard which called everybody's attention. "Henrietta Noble," said Mrs. Farebrother, seeing her small sister moving about the furniture-legs distressfully, "what is the matter?" "I have lost my tortoise-shell lozenge-box. I fear the kitten has rolled it away," said the tiny old lady, involuntarily continuing her beaver-like notes. ..."Oh, if it is Ladislaw's present," said Mr. Farebrother, in a deep tone of comprehension, getting up and hunting. ..."That is an affair of the heart with my aunt," said Mr. Farebrother, smiling at Dorothea, as he reseated himself. "If Henrietta Noble forms an attachment to any one, Mrs. Casaubon," said his mother, emphatically,--"she is like a dog--she would take their shoes for a pillow and sleep the better." "Mr. Ladislaw's shoes, I would," said Henrietta Noble. 
Dorothea resolves something in herself that night.
She was vigorous enough to have borne that hard night without feeling ill in body, beyond some aching and fatigue; but she had waked to a new condition: she felt as if her soul had been liberated from its terrible conflict; she was no longer wrestling with her grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.
CHAPTER LXXXI. "Du Erde warst auch diese Nacht bestandig, Und athmest neu erquickt zu meinen Fussen, Beginnest schon mit Lust mich zu umgeben, Zum regst und ruhrst ein kraftiges Reschliessen Zum hochsten Dasein immerfort zu streben. --Faust: 2r Theil.

Google translate and free ebooks to the rescue again...Faust speaking:

And thou, O Earth !—for nature still is true—
Didst, this night, of the common boon partake;
And, breathing in fresh vigour at my feet,
Already, with thy charms of new delight,
Dost in my heart the earnest wish awake
To strive towards Being's unascended height.
Dorothea visits Rosamond, who, thinking others would be like herself, thinks Dorothea comes with a mean purpose.  But Dorothea comes to heal.
"...And I have told Mr. Farebrother, and Mr. Brooke, and Sir James Chettam: they all believe in your husband. That will cheer you, will it not? That will give you courage?" Dorothea's face had become animated, and as it beamed on Rosamond very close to her, she felt something like bashful timidity before a superior, in the presence of this self-forgetful ardor. She said, with blushing embarrassment, "Thank you: you are very kind."
And they share a moment.  A rare true moment.
[Rosamond] withdrew the handkerchief with which she had been hiding her face, her eyes met Dorothea's as helplessly as if they had been blue flowers. What was the use of thinking about behavior after this crying? And Dorothea looked almost as childish, with the neglected trace of a silent tear. Pride was broken down between these two.
And Rosamond gives Dorothea the gift of truth, that Will rejected her due to another woman, Dorothea.
Rosamond had delivered her soul under impulses which she had not known before. She had begun her confession under the subduing influence of Dorothea's emotion; and as she went on she had gathered the sense that she was repelling Will's reproaches, which were still like a knife-wound within her. 
...   "Mrs. Lydgate and I have chatted a great deal, and it is time for me to go. I have always been accused of being immoderate and saying too much." She put out her hand to Rosamond, and they said an earnest, quiet good-by without kiss or other show of effusion: there had been between them too much serious emotion for them to use the signs of it superficially.
CHAPTER LXXXII. "My grief lies onward and my joy behind." --SHAKESPEARE: Sonnets.

Will is devastated but...
 But it is given to us sometimes even in our every-day life to witness the saving influence of a noble nature, the divine efficacy of rescue that may lie in a self-subduing act of fellowship. If Dorothea, after her night's anguish, had not taken that walk to Rosamond--why, she perhaps would have been a woman who gained a higher character for discretion, but it would certainly not have been as well for those three who were on one hearth in Lydgate's house at half-past seven that evening.
CHAPTER LXXXIII. "And now good-morrow to our waking souls Which watch not one another out of fear; For love all love of other sights controls, And makes one little room, an everywhere." --DR. DONNE.

Oh! Miss Noble again, with her tortoise-shell lozenge box from Will. She comes with a message from him for Dorothea.  How cute, that the little old spinster would be the messenger, and brings the two together at last.  Will takes her hand...
Still it was difficult to loose the hand, and Dorothea, withdrawing it in a confusion that distressed her, looked and moved away. "See how dark the clouds have become, and how the trees are tossed," she said, walking towards the window, yet speaking and moving with only a dim sense of what she was doing.
Methinks it is an internal storm brewing as well.
"We may at least have the comfort of speaking to each other without disguise. Since I must go away--since we must always be divided--you may think of me as one on the brink of the grave." While he was speaking there came a vivid flash of lightning which lit each of them up for the other--and the light seemed to be the terror of a hopeless love. Dorothea darted instantaneously from the window; Will followed her, seizing her hand with a spasmodic movement; and so they stood, with their hands clasped, like two children, looking out on the storm, while the thunder gave a tremendous crack and roll above them, and the rain began to pour down. Then they turned their faces towards each other, with the memory of his last words in them, and they did not loose each other's hands.
So classic...these days:
"...I meant to go away into silence, but I have not been able to do what I meant." "Don't be sorry," said Dorothea, in her clear tender tones. "I would rather share all the trouble of our parting." Her lips trembled, and so did his. It was never known which lips were the first to move towards the other lips; but they kissed tremblingly, and then they moved apart. The rain was dashing against the window-panes as if an angry spirit were within it, and behind it was the great swoop of the wind; it was one of those moments in which both the busy and the idle pause with a certain awe.
Cue big sigh.

CHAPTER LXXXIV. "Though it be songe of old and yonge, That I sholde be to blame, Theyrs be the charge, that spoke so large In hurtynge of my name." --The Not-Browne Mayde.

And so they will be married, despite the despicable will, or because of it.
"Oh, there is usually a silent exception in such cases," said Mrs. Cadwallader. "The only wonder to me is, that any of you are surprised. You did nothing to hinder it. If you would have had Lord Triton down here to woo her with his philanthropy, he might have carried her off before the year was over. There was no safety in anything else. Mr. Casaubon had prepared all this as beautifully as possible. He made himself disagreeable--or it pleased God to make him so--and then he dared her to contradict him. It's the way to make any trumpery tempting, to ticket it at a high price in that way."
What she said.

CHAPTER LIXXV. "Then went the jury out whose names were Mr. Blindman, Mr. No-good, Mr. Malice, Mr. Love-lust, Mr. Live-loose, Mr. Heady, Mr. High-mind, Mr. Enmity, Mr. Liar, Mr. Cruelty, Mr. Hate-light, Mr. Implacable, who every one gave in his private verdict against him among themselves, and afterwards unanimously concluded to bring him in guilty before the judge. And first among themselves, Mr. Blindman, the foreman, said, I see clearly that this man is a heretic. Then said Mr. No-good, Away with such a fellow from the earth! Ay, said Mr. Malice, for I hate the very look of him. Then said Mr. Love-lust, I could never endure him. Nor I, said Mr. Live-loose; for he would be always condemning my way. Hang him, hang him, said Mr. Heady. A sorry scrub, said Mr. High-mind. My heart riseth against him, said Mr. Enmity. He is a rogue, said Mr. Liar. Hanging is too good for him, said Mr. Cruelty. Let us despatch him out of the way said Mr. Hate-light. Then said Mr. Implacable, Might I have all the world given me, I could not be reconciled to him; therefore let us forthwith bring him in guilty of death." --Pilgrim's Progress.

Pilgrim's Progress...never read it, and this doesn't make me want to.

Mr. Bulstrode is done for.  The sad part, Mrs. Bulstrode must be done for with him.  This is what harsh judgments do...they slay the innocent as well as the guilty.  No matter what, no matter who.  But together, they manage to do some good, and arrange for Fred to take over the running of the Stone Court estate, the very estate he thought he might inherit.

CHAPTER LXXXVI. "Le coeur se sature d'amour comme d'un sel divin qui le conserve; de la l'incorruptible adherence de ceux qui se sont aimes des l'aube de la vie, et la fraicheur des vielles amours prolonges. Il existe un embaumement d'amour. C'est de Daphnis et Chloe que sont faits Philemon et Baucis. Cette vieillesse la, ressemblance du soir avec l'aurore." --VICTOR HUGO: L'homme qui rit.
"The heart is saturated with love as a divine salt that preserves it; of the incorruptible adherence of those who are like the dawn of life, and extenders freshness of the old loves. There is an embalming of love. It's Daphnis and Chloe are made as Philemon and Baucis. This old age the likeness of the evening with the dawn. "- VICTOR HUGO: The Man Who Laughs.
And Mary indeed ends up with Fred.  Poor Mr. Farebrother.

Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness. It is still the beginning of the home epic--the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which makes the advancing years a climax, and age the harvest of sweet memories in common.

We get to find out what happens to everyone! I like that part at the end of dissatisfying to be left wondering.
When Fred was riding home on winter evenings he had a pleasant vision beforehand of the bright hearth in the wainscoted parlor, and was sorry for other men who could not have Mary for their wife; especially for Mr. Farebrother. "He was ten times worthier of you than I was," Fred could now say to her, magnanimously. "To be sure he was," Mary answered; "and for that reason he could do better without me. But you--I shudder to think what you would have been-- a curate in debt for horse-hire and cambric pocket-handkerchiefs!" 
Lydgate's hair never became white. He died when he was only fifty, leaving his wife and children provided for by a heavy insurance on his life. He had gained an excellent practice, alternating, according to the season, between London and a Continental bathing-place; having written a treatise on Gout, a disease which has a good deal of wealth on its side. His skill was relied on by many paying patients, but he always regarded himself as a failure: he had not done what he once meant to do. His acquaintances thought him enviable to have so charming a wife, and nothing happened to shake their opinion.
At least one good impulse from Rosamond over the years:
Why then had he chosen her? It was a pity he had not had Mrs. Ladislaw, whom he was always praising and placing above her. And thus the conversation ended with the advantage on Rosamond's side. But it would be unjust not to tell, that she never uttered a word in depreciation of Dorothea, keeping in religious remembrance the generosity which had come to her aid in the sharpest crisis of her life.
And Dorothea...

 Still, she never repented that she had given up position and fortune to marry Will Ladislaw, and he would have held it the greatest shame as well as sorrow to him if she had repented. They were bound to each other by a love stronger than any impulses which could have marred it.

Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful.  They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. A new Theresa will hardly have the opportunity of reforming a conventual life, any more than a new Antigone will spend her heroic piety in daring all for the sake of a brother's burial: the medium in which their ardent deeds took shape is forever gone. But we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorothea whose story we know.    ...
But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.       [The End]
Must go back and look at those beginning lines about Theresa...and maybe find out more about Theresa.

Must think about "unhistoric acts."

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