Middlemarch (Chapter III, page 1 of 12)


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"Say, goddess, what ensued, when Raphael,
The affable archangel . . .
Eve
The story heard attentive, and was filled
With admiration, and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange."
--Paradise Lost, B. vii.


If it had really occurred to Mr. Casaubon to think of Miss Brooke as a
suitable wife for him, the reasons that might induce her to accept him
were already planted in her mind, and by the evening of the next day
the reasons had budded and bloomed. For they had had a long
conversation in the morning, while Celia, who did not like the company
of Mr. Casaubon's moles and sallowness, had escaped to the vicarage to
play with the curate's ill-shod but merry children.

Dorothea by this time had looked deep into the ungauged reservoir of
Mr. Casaubon's mind, seeing reflected there in vague labyrinthine
extension every quality she herself brought; had opened much of her own
experience to him, and had understood from him the scope of his great
work, also of attractively labyrinthine extent. For he had been as
instructive as Milton's "affable archangel;" and with something of the
archangelic manner he told her how he had undertaken to show (what
indeed had been attempted before, but not with that thoroughness,
justice of comparison, and effectiveness of arrangement at which Mr.
Casaubon aimed) that all the mythical systems or erratic mythical
fragments in the world were corruptions of a tradition originally
revealed. Having once mastered the true position and taken a firm
footing there, the vast field of mythical constructions became
intelligible, nay, luminous with the reflected light of
correspondences. But to gather in this great harvest of truth was no
light or speedy work. His notes already made a formidable range of
volumes, but the crowning task would be to condense these voluminous
still-accumulating results and bring them, like the earlier vintage of
Hippocratic books, to fit a little shelf. In explaining this to
Dorothea, Mr. Casaubon expressed himself nearly as he would have done
to a fellow-student, for he had not two styles of talking at command:
it is true that when he used a Greek or Latin phrase he always gave the
English with scrupulous care, but he would probably have done this in
any case. A learned provincial clergyman is accustomed to think of his
acquaintances as of "lords, knyghtes, and other noble and worthi men,
that conne Latyn but lytille."

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