Middlemarch OWC

Author(s): George Eliot; David Carroll (Editor); David Russell (Other)


BOOK I.MISS BROOKE.CHAPTER I. Since I can do no good because a woman, Reach constantly at something that is near it. --The Maid's Tragedy: BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown intorelief by poor dress. Her hand and wrist were so finely formed thatshe could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which theBlessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters; and her profile as well asher stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plaingarments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her theimpressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible,--or from one of ourelder poets,--in a paragraph of to-day's newspaper. She was usuallyspoken of as being remarkably clever, but with the addition that hersister Celia had more common-sense. Nevertheless, Celia wore scarcelymore trimmings; and it was only to close observers that her dressdiffered from her sister's, and had a shade of coquetry in itsarrangements; for Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixedconditions, in most of which her sister shared. The pride of beingladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though notexactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquiredbackward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuringor parcel-tying forefathers--anything lower than an admiral or aclergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritangentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, andmanaged to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of arespectable family estate. Young women of such birth, living in aquiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger thana parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster'sdaughter. Then there was well-bred economy, which in those days madeshow in dress the first item to be deducted from, when any margin wasrequired for expenses more distinctive of rank. Such reasons wouldhave been enough to account for plain dress, quite apart from religiousfeeling; but in Miss Brooke's case, religion alone would havedetermined it; and Celia mildly acquiesced in all her sister'ssentiments, only infusing them with that common-sense which is able toaccept momentous doctrines without any eccentric agitation. Dorotheaknew many passages of Pascal's Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart;and to her the destinies of mankind, seen by the light of Christianity,made the solicitudes of feminine fashion appear an occupation forBedlam. She could not reconcile the anxieties of a spiritual lifeinvolving eternal consequences, with a keen interest in gimp andartificial protrusions of drapery. Her mind was theoretic, and yearnedby its nature after some lofty conception of the world which mightfrankly include the parish of Tipton and her own rule of conduct there;she was enamoured of intensity and greatness, and rash in embracingwhatever seemed to her to have those aspects; likely to seek martyrdom,to make retractations, and then to incur martyrdom after all in aquarter where she had not sought it. Certainly such elements in thecharacter of a marriageable girl tended to interfere with her lot, andhinder it from being decided according to custom, by good looks,vanity, and merely canine affection. With all this, she, the elder ofthe sisters, was not yet twenty, and they had both been educated, sincethey were about twelve years old and had lost their parents, on plansat once narrow and promiscuous, first in an English family andafterwards in a Swiss family at Lausanne, their bachelor uncle andguardian trying in this way to remedy the disadvantages of theirorphaned condition.It was hardly a year since they had come to live at Tipton Grange withtheir uncle, a man nearly sixty, of acquiescent temper,


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General Fields

  • : 9780198815518
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : Oxford University Press
  • : 0.598
  • : April 2019
  • : 3.8 Centimeters X 13 Centimeters X 19.6 Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : George Eliot; David Carroll (Editor); David Russell (Other)
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 823.8
  • : 864