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
"Oh dear!" Celia said to herself, "I am sure Freshitt Hall would
have been pleasanter than this." She thought of the white
freestone, the pillared portico, and the terrace full of flowers,
Sir James smiling above them like a prince issuing from his
enchantment in a rose-bush, with a handkerchief swiftly
metamorphosed from the most delicately odorous petals—Sir James,
who talked so agreeably, always about things which had common-sense
in them, and not about learning! Celia had those light young
feminine tastes which grave and weatherworn gentlemen sometimes
prefer in a wife; but happily Mr. Casaubon's bias had been
different, for he would have had no chance with Celia.
Dorothea, on the contrary, found the house and grounds all that
she could wish: the dark book-shelves in the long library, the
carpets and curtains with colors subdued by time, the curious old
maps and bird's-eye views on the walls of the corridor, with here
and there an old vase below, had no oppression for her, and seemed
more cheerful than the easts and pictures at the Grange, which her
uncle had long ago brought home from his travels—they being
probably among the ideas he had taken in at one time. To poor
Dorothea these severe classical nudities and smirking
Renaissance-Correggiosities were painfully inexplicable, staring
into the midst of her Puritanic conceptions: she had never been
taught how she could bring them into any sort of relevance with her
life. But the owners of Lowick apparently had not been travellers,
and Mr. Casaubon's studies of the past were not carried on by means
of such aids.
Dorothea walked about the house with delightful emotion.
Everything seemed hallowed to her: this was to be the home of her
wifehood, and she looked up with eyes full of confidence to Mr.
Casaubon when he drew her attention specially to some actual
arrangement and asked her if she would like an alteration. All
appeals to her taste she met gratefully, but saw nothing to alter.
His efforts at exact courtesy and formal tenderness had no defect
for her. She filled up all blanks with unmanifested perfections,
interpreting him as she interpreted the works of Providence, and
accounting for seeming discords by her own deafness to the higher
harmonies. And there are many blanks left in the weeks of courtship
which a loving faith fills with happy assurance.
"Now, my dear Dorothea, I wish you to favor me by pointing out
which room you would like to have as your boudoir," said Mr.
Casaubon, showing that his views of the womanly nature were
sufficiently large to include that requirement.
"It is very kind of you to think of that," said Dorothea, "but I
assure you I would rather have all those matters decided for me. I
shall be much happier to take everything as it is—just as you have
been used to have it, or as you will yourself choose it to be. I
have no motive for wishing anything else."
"Oh, Dodo," said Celia, "will you not have the bow-windowed room
Mr. Casaubon led the way thither. The bow-window looked down the
avenue of limes; the furniture was all of a faded blue, and there
were miniatures of ladies and gentlemen with powdered hair hanging
in a group. A piece of tapestry over a door also showed a
blue-green world with a pale stag in it. The chairs and tables were
thin-legged and easy to upset. It was a room where one might fancy
the ghost of a tight-laced lady revisiting the scene of her
embroidery. A light bookcase contained duodecimo volumes of polite
literature in calf, completing the furniture.
"Yes," said Mr. Brooke, "this would be a pretty room with some
new hangings, sofas, and that sort of thing. A little bare
"No, uncle," said Dorothea, eagerly. "Pray do not speak of
altering anything. There are so many other things in the world that
want altering—I like to take these things as they are. And you like
them as they are, don't you?" she added, looking at Mr. Casaubon.
"Perhaps this was your mother's room when she was young."
"It was," he said, with his slow bend of the head.
"This is your mother," said Dorothea, who had turned to examine
the group of miniatures. "It is like the tiny one you brought me;
only, I should think, a better portrait. And this one opposite, who
"Her elder sister. They were, like you and your sister, the only
two children of their parents, who hang above them, you see."
"The sister is pretty," said Celia, implying that she thought
less favorably of Mr. Casaubon's mother. It was a new opening to
Celia's imagination, that he came of a family who had all been
young in their time—the ladies wearing necklaces.
"It is a peculiar face," said Dorothea, looking closely. "Those
deep gray eyes rather near together—and the delicate irregular nose
with a sort of ripple in it—and all the powdered curls hanging
backward. Altogether it seems to me peculiar rather than pretty.
There is not even a family likeness between her and your
"No. And they were not alike in their lot."
"You did not mention her to me," said Dorothea.
"My aunt made an unfortunate marriage. I never saw her."
Dorothea wondered a little, but felt that it would be indelicate
just then to ask for any information which Mr. Casaubon did not
proffer, and she turned to the window to admire the view. The sun
had lately pierced the gray, and the avenue of limes cast
"Shall we not walk in the garden now?" said Dorothea.
"And you would like to see the church, you know," said Mr.
Brooke. "It is a droll little church. And the village. It all lies
in a nut-shell. By the way, it will suit you, Dorothea; for the
cottages are like a row of alms-houses—little gardens,
gilly-flowers, that sort of thing."
"Yes, please," said Dorothea, looking at Mr. Casaubon, "I should
like to see all that." She had got nothing from him more graphic
about the Lowick cottages than that they were "not bad."
They were soon on a gravel walk which led chiefly between grassy
borders and clumps of trees, this being the nearest way to the
church, Mr. Casaubon said. At the little gate leading into the
churchyard there was a pause while Mr. Casaubon went to the
parsonage close by to fetch a key. Celia, who had been hanging a
little in the rear, came up presently, when she saw that Mr.
Casaubon was gone away, and said in her easy staccato, which always
seemed to contradict the suspicion of any malicious intent—
"Do you know, Dorothea, I saw some one quite young coming up one
of the walks."
"Is that astonishing, Celia?"
"There may be a young gardener, you know—why not?" said Mr.
Brooke. "I told Casaubon he should change his gardener."
"No, not a gardener," said Celia; "a gentleman with a
sketch-book. He had light-brown curls. I only saw his back. But he
was quite young."
"The curate's son, perhaps," said Mr. Brooke. "Ah, there is
Casaubon again, and Tucker with him. He is going to introduce
Tucker. You don't know Tucker yet."
Mr. Tucker was the middle-aged curate, one of the "inferior
clergy," who are usually not wanting in sons. But after the
introduction, the conversation did not lead to any question about
his family, and the startling apparition of youthfulness was
forgotten by every one but Celia. She inwardly declined to believe
that the light-brown curls and slim figure could have any
relationship to Mr. Tucker, who was just as old and musty-looking
as she would have expected Mr. Casaubon's curate to be; doubtless
an excellent man who would go to heaven (for Celia wished not to be
unprincipled), but the corners of his mouth were so unpleasant.
Celia thought with some dismalness of the time she should have to
spend as bridesmaid at Lowick, while the curate had probably no
pretty little children whom she could like, irrespective of
Mr. Tucker was invaluable in their walk; and perhaps Mr.
Casaubon had not been without foresight on this head, the curate
being able to answer all Dorothea's questions about the villagers
and the other parishioners. Everybody, he assured her, was well off
in Lowick: not a cottager in those double cottages at a low rent
but kept a pig, and the strips of garden at the back were well
tended. The small boys wore excellent corduroy, the girls went out
as tidy servants, or did a little straw-plaiting at home: no looms
here, no Dissent; and though the public disposition was rather
towards laying by money than towards spirituality, there was not
much vice. The speckled fowls were so numerous that Mr. Brooke
observed, "Your farmers leave some barley for the women to glean, I
see. The poor folks here might have a fowl in their pot, as the
good French king used to wish for all his people. The French eat a
good many fowls—skinny fowls, you know."
"I think it was a very cheap wish of his," said Dorothea,
indignantly. "Are kings such monsters that a wish like that must be
reckoned a royal virtue?"
"And if he wished them a skinny fowl," said Celia, "that would
not be nice. But perhaps he wished them to have fat fowls."
"Yes, but the word has dropped out of the text, or perhaps was
subauditum; that is, present in the king's mind, but not uttered,"
said Mr. Casaubon, smiling and bending his head towards Celia, who
immediately dropped backward a little, because she could not bear
Mr. Casaubon to blink at her.
Dorothea sank into silence on the way back to the house. She
felt some disappointment, of which she was yet ashamed, that there
was nothing for her to do in Lowick; and in the next few minutes
her mind had glanced over the possibility, which she would have
preferred, of finding that her home would be in a parish which had
a larger share of the world's misery, so that she might have had
more active duties in it. Then, recurring to the future actually
before her, she made a picture of more complete devotion to Mr.
Casaubon's aims in which she would await new duties. Many such
might reveal themselves to the higher knowledge gained by her in
Mr. Tucker soon left them, having some clerical work which would
not allow him to lunch at the Hall; and as they were re-entering
the garden through the little gate, Mr. Casaubon said—
"You seem a little sad, Dorothea. I trust you are pleased with
what you have seen."
"I am feeling something which is perhaps foolish and wrong,"
answered Dorothea, with her usual openness—"almost wishing that the
people wanted more to be done for them here. I have known so few
ways of making my life good for anything. Of course, my notions of
usefulness must be narrow. I must learn new ways of helping
"Doubtless," said Mr. Casaubon. "Each position has its
corresponding duties. Yours, I trust, as the mistress of Lowick,
will not leave any yearning unfulfilled."
"Indeed, I believe that," said Dorothea, earnestly. "Do not
suppose that I am sad."
"That is well. But, if you are not tired, we will take another
way to the house than that by which we came."
Dorothea was not at all tired, and a little circuit was made
towards a fine yew-tree, the chief hereditary glory of the grounds
on this side of the house. As they approached it, a figure,
conspicuous on a dark background of evergreens, was seated on a
bench, sketching the old tree. Mr. Brooke, who was walking in front
with Celia, turned his head, and said—
"Who is that youngster, Casaubon?"
They had come very near when Mr. Casaubon answered—
"That is a young relative of mine, a second cousin: the
grandson, in fact," he added, looking at Dorothea, "of the lady
whose portrait you have been noticing, my aunt Julia."
The young man had laid down his sketch-book and risen. His bushy
light-brown curls, as well as his youthfulness, identified him at
once with Celia's apparition.
"Dorothea, let me introduce to you my cousin, Mr. Ladislaw.
Will, this is Miss Brooke."
The cousin was so close now, that, when he lifted his hat,
Dorothea could see a pair of gray eves rather near together, a
delicate irregular nose with a little ripple in it, and hair
falling backward; but there was a mouth and chin of a more
prominent, threatening aspect than belonged to the type of the
grandmother's miniature. Young Ladislaw did not feel it necessary
to smile, as if he were charmed with this introduction to his
future second cousin and her relatives; but wore rather a pouting
air of discontent.
"You are an artist, I see," said Mr. Brooke, taking up the
sketch-book and turning it over in his unceremonious fashion.
"No, I only sketch a little. There is nothing fit to be seen
there," said young Ladislaw, coloring, perhaps with temper rather
"Oh, come, this is a nice bit, now. I did a little in this way
myself at one time, you know. Look here, now; this is what I call a
nice thing, done with what we used to call _brio_." Mr. Brooke held
out towards the two girls a large colored sketch of stony ground
and trees, with a pool.
"I am no judge of these things," said Dorothea, not coldly, but
with an eager deprecation of the appeal to her. "You know, uncle, I
never see the beauty of those pictures which you say are so much
praised. They are a language I do not understand. I suppose there
is some relation between pictures and nature which I am too
ignorant to feel—just as you see what a Greek sentence stands for
which means nothing to me." Dorothea looked up at Mr. Casaubon, who
bowed his head towards her, while Mr. Brooke said, smiling
"Bless me, now, how different people are! But you had a bad
style of teaching, you know—else this is just the thing for
girls—sketching, fine art and so on. But you took to drawing plans;
you don't understand morbidezza, and that kind of thing. You will
come to my house, I hope, and I will show you what I did in this
way," he continued, turning to young Ladislaw, who had to be
recalled from his preoccupation in observing Dorothea. Ladislaw had
made up his mind that she must be an unpleasant girl, since she was
going to marry Casaubon, and what she said of her stupidity about
pictures would have confirmed that opinion even if he had believed
her. As it was, he took her words for a covert judgment, and was
certain that she thought his sketch detestable. There was too much
cleverness in her apology: she was laughing both at her uncle and
himself. But what a voice! It was like the voice of a soul that had
once lived in an AEolian harp. This must be one of Nature's
inconsistencies. There could be no sort of passion in a girl who
would marry Casaubon. But he turned from her, and bowed his thanks
for Mr. Brooke's invitation.
"We will turn over my Italian engravings together," continued
that good-natured man. "I have no end of those things, that I have
laid by for years. One gets rusty in this part of the country, you
know. Not you, Casaubon; you stick to your studies; but my best
ideas get undermost—out of use, you know. You clever young men must
guard against indolence. I was too indolent, you know: else I might
have been anywhere at one time."
"That is a seasonable admonition," said Mr. Casaubon; "but now
we will pass on to the house, lest the young ladies should be tired
When their backs were turned, young Ladislaw sat down to go on
with his sketching, and as he did so his face broke into an
expression of amusement which increased as he went on drawing, till
at last he threw back his head and laughed aloud. Partly it was the
reception of his own artistic production that tickled him; partly
the notion of his grave cousin as the lover of that girl; and
partly Mr. Brooke's definition of the place he might have held but
for the impediment of indolence. Mr. Will Ladislaw's sense of the
ludicrous lit up his features very agreeably: it was the pure
enjoyment of comicality, and had no mixture of sneering and
"What is your nephew going to do with himself, Casaubon?" said
Mr. Brooke, as they went on.
"My cousin, you mean—not my nephew."
"Yes, yes, cousin. But in the way of a career, you know."
"The answer to that question is painfully doubtful. On leaving
Rugby he declined to go to an English university, where I would
gladly have placed him, and chose what I must consider the
anomalous course of studying at Heidelberg. And now he wants to go
abroad again, without any special object, save the vague purpose of
what he calls culture, preparation for he knows not what. He
declines to choose a profession."
"He has no means but what you furnish, I suppose."
"I have always given him and his friends reason to understand
that I would furnish in moderation what was necessary for providing
him with a scholarly education, and launching him respectably. I
am-therefore bound to fulfil the expectation so raised," said Mr.
Casaubon, putting his conduct in the light of mere rectitude: a
trait of delicacy which Dorothea noticed with admiration.
"He has a thirst for travelling; perhaps he may turn out a Bruce
or a Mungo Park," said Mr. Brooke. "I had a notion of that myself
at one time."
"No, he has no bent towards exploration, or the enlargement of
our geognosis: that would be a special purpose which I could
recognize with some approbation, though without felicitating him on
a career which so often ends in premature and violent death. But so
far is he from having any desire for a more accurate knowledge of
the earth's surface, that he said he should prefer not to know the
sources of the Nile, and that there should be some unknown regions
preserved as hunting grounds for the poetic imagination."
"Well, there is something in that, you know," said Mr. Brooke,
who had certainly an impartial mind.
"It is, I fear, nothing more than a part of his general
inaccuracy and indisposition to thoroughness of all kinds, which
would be a bad augury for him in any profession, civil or sacred,
even were he so far submissive to ordinary rule as to choose
"Perhaps he has conscientious scruples founded on his own
unfitness," said Dorothea, who was interesting herself in finding a
favorable explanation. "Because the law and medicine should be very
serious professions to undertake, should they not? People's lives
and fortunes depend on them."
"Doubtless; but I fear that my young relative Will Ladislaw is
chiefly determined in his aversion to these callings by a dislike
to steady application, and to that kind of acquirement which is
needful instrumentally, but is not charming or immediately inviting
to self-indulgent taste. I have insisted to him on what Aristotle
has stated with admirable brevity, that for the achievement of any
work regarded as an end there must be a prior exercise of many
energies or acquired facilities of a secondary order, demanding
patience. I have pointed to my own manuscript volumes, which
represent the toil of years preparatory to a work not yet
accomplished. But in vain. To careful reasoning of this kind he
replies by calling himself Pegasus, and every form of prescribed
Celia laughed. She was surprised to find that Mr. Casaubon could
say something quite amusing.
"Well, you know, he may turn out a Byron, a Chatterton, a
Churchill—that sort of thing—there's no telling," said Mr. Brooke.
"Shall you let him go to Italy, or wherever else he wants to
"Yes; I have agreed to furnish him with moderate supplies for a
year or so; he asks no more. I shall let him be tried by the test
"That is very kind of you," said Dorothea, looking up at Mr.
Casaubon with delight. "It is noble. After all, people may really
have in them some vocation which is not quite plain to themselves,
may they not? They may seem idle and weak because they are growing.
We should be very patient with each other, I think."
"I suppose it is being engaged to be married that has made you
think patience good," said Celia, as soon as she and Dorothea were
alone together, taking off their wrappings.
"You mean that I am very impatient, Celia."
"Yes; when people don't do and say just what you like." Celia
had become less afraid of "saying things" to Dorothea since this
engagement: cleverness seemed to her more pitiable than ever.