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Chapter 30
"Qui veut delasser hors de propos, lasse."--PASCAL.
Mr. Casaubon had no second attack of equal severity with the first, and in a few
days began to recover his usual condition. But Lydgate seemed to think the case
worth a great deal of attention. He not only used his stethoscope (which had not
become a matter of course in practice at that time), but sat quietly by his patient
and watched him. To Mr. Casaubon's questions about himself, he replied that the
source of the illness was the common error of intellectual men--a too eager and
monotonous application: the remedy was, to be satisfied with moderate work,
and to seek variety of relaxation. Mr. Brooke, who sat by on one occasion,
suggested that Mr. Casaubon should go fishing, as Cadwallader did, and have a
turning-room, make toys, table-legs, and that kind of thing.
"In short, you recommend me to anticipate the arrival of my second childhood,"
said poor Mr. Casaubon, with some bitterness. "These things," he added, looking
at Lydgate, "would be to me such relaxation as tow-picking is to prisoners in a
house of correction."
"I confess," said Lydgate, smiling, "amusement is rather an unsatisfactory
prescription. It is something like telling people to keep up their spirits. Perhaps I
had better say, that you must submit to be mildly bored rather than to go on
"Yes, yes," said Mr. Brooke. "Get Dorothea to play back. gammon with you in the
evenings. And shuttlecock, now--I don't know a finer game than shuttlecock for
the daytime. I remember it all the fashion. To be sure, your eyes might not stand
that, Casaubon. But you must unbend, you know. Why, you might take to some
light study: conchology, now: it always think that must be a light study. Or get
Dorothea to read you light things, Smollett--`Roderick Random,' `Humphrey
Clinker:' they are a little broad, but she may read anything now she's married,
you know. I remember they made me laugh uncommonly--there's a droll bit about
a postilion's breeches. We have no such humor now. I have gone through all
these things, but they might be rather new to you."
"As new as eating thistles," would have been an answer to represent Mr.
Casaubon's feelings. But he only bowed resignedly, with due respect to his wife's
uncle, and observed that doubtless the works he mentioned had "served as a
resource to a certain order of minds."
"You see," said the able magistrate to Lydgate, when they were outside the door,
"Casaubon has been a little narrow: it leaves him rather at a loss when you forbid
him his particular work, which I believe is something very deep indeed--in the line
of research, you know. I would never give way to that; I was always versatile. But
a clergyman is tied a little tight. If they would make him a bishop, now!--he did a
very good pamphlet for Peel. He would have more movement then, more show;
he might get a little flesh. But I recommend you to talk to Mrs. Casaubon. She is
clever enough for anything, is my niece. Tell her, her husband wants liveliness,
diversion: put her on amusing tactics."