BOOK VIII. SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
75. CHAPTER LXXV.
"Le sentiment de la faussete' des plaisirs presents, et l'ignorance
de la vanite des plaisirs absents, causent l'inconstance."--PASCAL.
Rosamond had a gleam of returning cheerfulness when the house was freed
from the threatening figure, and when all the disagreeable creditors
were paid. But she was not joyous: her married life had fulfilled
none of her hopes, and had been quite spoiled for her imagination.
In this brief interval of calm, Lydgate, remembering that he had
often been stormy in his hours of perturbation, and mindful of the
pain Rosamond had had to bear, was carefully gentle towards her;
but he, too, had lost some of his old spirit, and he still felt it
necessary to refer to an economical change in their way of living
as a matter of course, trying to reconcile her to it gradually,
and repressing his anger when she answered by wishing that he
would go to live in London. When she did not make this answer,
she listened languidly, and wondered what she had that was worth
living for. The hard and contemptuous words which had fallen from
her husband in his anger had deeply offended that vanity which he
had at first called into active enjoyment; and what she regarded
as his perverse way of looking at things, kept up a secret repulsion,
which made her receive all his tenderness as a poor substitute
for the happiness he had failed to give her. They were at a
disadvantage with their neighbors, and there was no longer any
outlook towards Quallingham--there was no outlook anywhere except
in an occasional letter from Will Ladislaw. She had felt stung and
disappointed by Will's resolution to quit Middlemarch, for in spite
of what she knew and guessed about his admiration for Dorothea,
she secretly cherished the belief that he had, or would necessarily
come to have, much more admiration for herself; Rosamond being one
of those women who live much in the idea that each man they meet
would have preferred them if the preference had not been hopeless.
Mrs. Casaubon was all very well; but Will's interest in her dated before
he knew Mrs. Lydgate. Rosamond took his way of talking to herself,
which was a mixture of playful fault-finding and hyperbolical gallantry,
as the disguise of a deeper feeling; and in his presence she felt
that agreeable titillation of vanity and sense of romantic drama
which Lydgate's presence had no longer the magic to create.
She even fancied--what will not men and women fancy in these matters?--
that Will exaggerated his admiration for Mrs. Casaubon in order
to pique herself. In this way poor Rosamond's brain had been
busy before Will's departure. He would have made, she thought,
a much more suitable husband for her than she had found in Lydgate.
No notion could have been falser than this, for Rosamond's discontent
in her marriage was due to the conditions of marriage itself,
to its demand for self-suppression and tolerance, and not to the
nature of her husband; but the easy conception of an unreal Better
had a sentimental charm which diverted her ennui. She constructed
a little romance which was to vary the flatness of her life:
Will Ladislaw was always to be a bachelor and live near her,
always to be at her command, and have an understood though never
fully expressed passion for her, which would be sending out lambent
flames every now and then in interesting scenes. His departure
had been a proportionate disappointment, and had sadly increased
her weariness of Middlemarch; but at first she had the alternative
dream of pleasures in store from her intercourse with the family
at Quallingham. Since then the troubles of her married life
had deepened, and the absence of other relief encouraged her regretful
rumination over that thin romance which she had once fed on.
Men and women make sad mistakes about their own symptoms, taking their
vague uneasy longings, sometimes for genius, sometimes for religion,
and oftener still for a mighty love. Will Ladislaw had written
chatty letters, half to her and half to Lydgate, and she had replied:
their separation, she felt, was not likely to be final, and the change
she now most longed for was that Lydgate should go to live in London;
everything would be agreeable in London; and she had set to work
with quiet determination to win this result, when there came a sudden,
delightful promise which inspirited her.