BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
3. CHAPTER III.
Dorothea was altogether captivated by the wide embrace
of this conception. Here was something beyond the shallows
of ladies' school literature: here was a living Bossuet,
whose work would reconcile complete knowledge with devoted piety;
here was a modern Augustine who united the glories of doctor and saint.
The sanctity seemed no less clearly marked than the learning,
for when Dorothea was impelled to open her mind on certain themes
which she could speak of to no one whom she had before seen at Tipton,
especially on the secondary importance of ecclesiastical forms
and articles of belief compared with that spiritual religion,
that submergence of self in communion with Divine perfection
which seemed to her to be expressed in the best Christian books
of widely distant ages, she found in Mr. Casaubon a listener
who understood her at once, who could assure her of his own
agreement with that view when duly tempered with wise conformity,
and could mention historical examples before unknown to her.
"He thinks with me," said Dorothea to herself, "or rather, he thinks
a whole world of which my thought is but a poor twopenny mirror.
And his feelings too, his whole experience--what a lake compared
with my little pool!"
Miss Brooke argued from words and dispositions not less unhesitatingly
than other young ladies of her age. Signs are small measurable things,
but interpretations are illimitable, and in girls of sweet,
ardent nature, every sign is apt to conjure up wonder, hope, belief,
vast as a sky, and colored by a diffused thimbleful of matter in
the shape of knowledge. They are not always too grossly deceived;
for Sinbad himself may have fallen by good-luck on a true description,
and wrong reasoning sometimes lands poor mortals in right conclusions:
starting a long way off the true point, and proceeding by loops
and zigzags, we now and then arrive just where we ought to be.
Because Miss Brooke was hasty in her trust, it is not therefore
clear that Mr. Casaubon was unworthy of it.
He stayed a little longer than he had intended, on a slight pressure
of invitation from Mr. Brooke, who offered no bait except his own
documents on machine-breaking and rick-burning. Mr. Casaubon was
called into the library to look at these in a heap, while his host
picked up first one and then the other to read aloud from in a
skipping and uncertain way, passing from one unfinished passage
to another with a "Yes, now, but here!" and finally pushing them
all aside to open the journal of his youthful Continental travels.