BOOK IV. THREE LOVE PROBLEMS.
42. CHAPTER XLII.
Against certain facts he was helpless: against Will Ladislaw's
existence his defiant stay in the neighborhood of Lowick, and his
flippant state of mind with regard to the possessors of authentic,
well-stamped erudition: against Dorothea's nature, always taking on
some new shape of ardent activity, and even in submission and silence
covering fervid reasons which it was an irritation to think of:
against certain notions and likings which had taken possession of
her mind in relation to subjects that he could not possibly discuss
with her. "There was no denying that Dorothea was as virtuous
and lovely a young lady as he could have obtained for a wife;
but a young lady turned out to be something more troublesome than he
had conceived. She nursed him, she read to him, she anticipated
his wants, and was solicitous about his feelings; but there had
entered into the husband's mind the certainty that she judged him,
and that her wifely devotedness was like a penitential expiation
of unbelieving thoughts--was accompanied with a power of comparison
by which himself and his doings were seen too luminously as a part
of things in general. His discontent passed vapor-like through all
her gentle loving manifestations, and clung to that inappreciative
world which she had only brought nearer to him.
Poor Mr. Casaubon! This suffering was the harder to bear because it
seemed like a betrayal: the young creature who had worshipped
him with perfect trust had quickly turned into the critical wife;
and early instances of criticism and resentment had made an impression
which no tenderness and submission afterwards could remove.
To his suspicious interpretation Dorothea's silence now was
a suppressed rebellion; a remark from her which he had not in
any way anticipated was an assertion of conscious superiority;
her gentle answers had an irritating cautiousness in them;
and when she acquiesced it was a self-approved effort of forbearance.
The tenacity with which he strove to hide this inward drama made it
the more vivid for him; as we hear with the more keenness what we
wish others not to hear.