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Middlemarch

Chapter 22
"Nous causames longtemps; elle etait simple et bonne.
Ne sachant pas le mal, elle faisait le bien;
Des richesses du coeur elle me fit l'aumone,
Et tout en ecoutant comme le coeur se donne,
Sans oser y penser je lui donnai le mien;
Elle emporta ma vie, et n'en sut jamais rien."
--ALFRED DE MUSSET.
Will Ladislaw was delightfully agreeable at dinner the next day, and gave no
opportunity for Mr. Casaubon to show disapprobation. On the contrary it seemed
to Dorothea that Will had a happier way of drawing her husband into
conversation and of deferentially listening to him than she had ever observed in
any one before. To be sure, the listeners about Tipton were not highly gifted! Will
talked a good deal himself, but what he said was thrown in with such rapidity,
and with such an unimportant air of saying something by the way, that it seemed
a gay little chime after the great bell. If Will was not always perfect, this was
certainly one of his good days. He described touches of incident among the poor
people in Rome, only to be seen by one who could move about freely; he found
himself in agreement with Mr. Casaubon as to the unsound opinions of Middleton
concerning the relations of Judaism and Catholicism; and passed easily to a half-
enthusiastic half-playful picture of the enjoyment he got out of the very
miscellaneousness of Rome, which made the mind flexible with constant
comparison, and saved you from seeing the world's ages as a set of box-like
partitions without vital connection. Mr. Casaubon's studies, Will observed, had
always been of too broad a kind for that, and he had perhaps never felt any such
sudden effect, but for himself he confessed that Rome had given him quite a new
sense of history as a whole: the fragments stimulated his imagination and made
him constructive. Then occasionally, but not too often, he appealed to Dorothea,
and discussed what she said, as if her sentiment were an item to be considered
in the final judgment even of the Madonna di Foligno or the Laocoon. A sense of
contributing to form the world's opinion makes conversation particularly cheerful;
and Mr. Casaubon too was not without his pride in his young wife, who spoke
better than most women, as indeed he had perceived in choosing her.
Since things were going on so pleasantly, Mr. Casaubon's statement that his
labors in the Library would be suspended for a couple of days, and that after a
brief renewal he should have no further reason for staying in Rome, encouraged
Will to urge that Mrs. Casaubon should not go away without seeing a studio or
two. Would not Mr. Casaubon take her? That sort of thing ought not to be
missed: it was quite special: it was a form of life that grew like a small fresh
vegetation with its population of insects on huge fossils. Will would be happy to
conduct them--not to anything wearisome, only to a few examples.
Mr. Casaubon, seeing Dorothea look earnestly towards him, could not but ask
her if she would be interested in such visits: he was now at her service during the
 
 
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