BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
3. CHAPTER III.
"Say, goddess, what ensued, when Raphael,
The affable archangel . . .
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."