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it twice over deservės her fate. But if she can marry blood, beauty, and bravery—the sooner the better.
Mr Bulstrode (pouring himself out a glass of water, and opening a sandwich box).— I cannot persuade you to adopt my regimen, Vincy?
Mr Vincy.—No, no; I've no opinion of that system. Life wants padding:
I've never changed : I'm a plain Churchman now, just as I used to be before doctrines came up. I take the world as I find it, in trade and everything else. I'm contented to be no worse than my neighbours.
If you come to religion, it seems to me a shouldn't want to carve out his meat to an ounce beforehand :-one must trust a little to Providence and be generous.
(To Bulstrode).-I never professed to be anything but worldly : and, what's more, I don't see anybody else who is not worldly. I suppose you don't conduct business on what you call unworldly principles. The only difference I see is that one worldliness is a little bit honester than another.
Mr Vincy.- I tell you the lad's an unlucky lad, Lucy. And you've always spoiled him.
Mrs Vincy.-Well, Vincy, he was my first, and you made a fine fuss with him when he came. as proud as proud.
Mr Vincy.—Who knows what babies will turn to ? I was fool enough, I daresay.
Mr Trumbull.—Now, ladies, I shall appeal to you. Here is a fender which at any other sale would hardly be offered without reserve, being, as I may say, for quality of steel and quaintness of design, a kind of thing that might not fall in with ordinary tastes. Allow me to tell you that by-and-by this style of workmanship will be the only one in vogue-half-a-crown, you said ? thank you-going at half-a-crown, this characteristic fender; and I have particular information that the antique style is very much sought after in high quarters. Three shillings—three-and-sixpencehold it well up, Joseph! Look, ladies, at the chastity of the design-I have no doubt myself that it was turned out in the last century ! Four shillings, Mr Mawmsey ?-four shillings.
Mrs Mawmsey.—It's not a thing I would put in my drawing-room. I wonder at Mrs Larcher. Every blessed child's head that fell against it would be cut in two. The edge is like a knife.
Mr Trumbull.—Quite true, and most uncommonly useful to have a fender at hand that will cut, if you have a leather shoe-tie or a bit of string that wants cutting and no knife at hand : many a man has been left hanging because there was no knife to cut him down. Gentlemen, here's a fender that if you had the misfortune to hang yourselves would cut you down in no time-with astonishing celerity-four-and-sixpence -five-five-and-sixpence-an appropriate thing for a spare bedroom where there was a four-poster and a guest a little out of his mind-six shillings-thank you, Mr Clintup-going at six shillings-going-gone!
Mr Clintup.-It was worth six shillings to have a fender
you could always tell that joke on.
Mr Trumbull.-Now, ladies, this tray contains a very recherchy lot-a collection of trifles for the drawing
room table and trifles make the sum of human things -nothing more important than trifles—(yes, Mr Ladislaw, yes, by-and-by)—but pass the tray round, Josephthese bijoux must be examined, ladies. This I have in my hand is an ingenious contrivance-a sort of practical nebus, I may call it : here, you see, it looks like an
Ι elegant heart-shaped box, portable-for the pocket: there again, it becomes like a splendid double floweran ornament for the table; and now—a book of riddles! No less than five hundred printed in a beautiful red. Gentlemen, if I had less of a conscience, I should not wish you to bid high for this lot-I have a longing for it myself. What can promote innocent mirth, and I may say virtue, more than a good riddle ?—it hinders profane language, and attaches a man to the society of refined females. This ingenious article itself, without the elegant domino-box, card-basket, &c., ought alone to give a high price to the lot. Carried in the pocket it might make an individual welcome in any society. Four shillings, sir ?-four shillings for this remarkable collection of riddles with the et cæteras. Here is a sample : ‘How must you spell honey to make it catch lady-birds ? Answer — money.' You hear? - ladybirds — honey - money.
This is an amusement to sharpen the intellect; it has a sting—it is what we call satire, and wit without indecency. Four-and-sixpence-five shillings.
Mr Trumbull.—Yes, Mr Ladislaw, yes; this in, terests you as a connoissure, I think. It is some pleasure to have a picture like this to show to a company of ladies and gentlemen—a picture worth any sum to an individual whose means were on a level
with his judgment. It is a painting of the Italian school--by the celebrated Guydo, the greatest painter in the world, the chief of the Old Masters, as they are called—I take it, because they were up to a thing or two beyond most of us—in possession of secrets now lost to the bulk of mankind. Let me tell you, gentlemen, I have seen a great many pictures by the Old Masters, and they are not all up to this mark—some of them are darker than you might like, and not family subjects. But here is a Guydo—the frame alone is worth pounds—which any lady might be proud to hang up-a suitable thing for what we call a refectory in a charitable institution, if any gentleman of the Corporation wished to show his munificence. Turn it a little, sir? yes.
Joseph, turn it a little towards Mr Ladislaw-Mr Ladislaw, having been abroad, understands the merit of these things, you observe.
Mr Trumbull.—Ah ! Mr Ladislaw! the frame alone is worth that. Ladies and gentlemen, for the credit of the town! Suppose it should be discovered hereafter that a gem of art has been amongst us in this town, and nobody in Middlemarch awake to it. Five guineas -five seven-six-five ten. Still, ladies, still! It is a gem, and 'Full many a gem,' as the poet says, has been allowed to go at a nominal price because the public knew no better, because it was offered in circles where there was- I was going to say a low feeling, but no !-Six pounds—six guineas-a Guydo of the first order going at six guineas—it is an insult to religion, ladies; it touches us all as Christians, gentlemen, that a subject like this should go at such a low figure-six pounds ten-seven
Mr Trumbull.—Now, gentlemen, you who are connoissures, you are going to have a treat. Here is an engraving of the Duke of Wellington surrounded by his staff on the field of Waterloo ; and notwithstanding recent events which have, as it were, enveloped our great hero in a cloud, I will be bold to say—for a man in my line must not be blown about by political winds—that a finer subject-of the modern order, belonging to our own time and epoch-the understanding of man could hardly conceive : angels might, perhaps, but not men, sirs, not men.
Mr Powderell.—Who painted it ?
Mr Trumbull.-It is a proof before the letter, Mr Powderell—the painter is not known.
Mr Powderell.—I'll bid a pound !
If I had not taken that turn when I was a lad, I might have got into some stupid draught-horse work or other, and lived always in blinkers. I should never have been happy in any profession that did not call forth the highest intellectual strain, and yet keep me in good warm contact with my neighbours. There is nothing like the medical profession for that: one can have the exclusive scientific life that touches the distance and befriend the old fogies in the parish too.
Trawley would have it, the medical profession was an inevitable system of humbug. I said, the fault was in the men-men who truckle to lies and folly. Instead of preaching against humbug outside the walls, it might be better to set up a disinfecting apparatus within.