Scenes of Clerical Life

By George Eliot

Page 36

had ascertained, by tentative
residences, that the kind of bite she was angling for was difficult to be
met with at watering-places, which were already preoccupied with
abundance of angling beauties, and were chiefly stocked with men whose
whiskers might be dyed, and whose incomes were still more problematic; so
she had determined on trying a neighbourhood where people were extremely
well acquainted with each other's affairs, and where the women were
mostly ill-dressed and ugly. Mr. Bridmain's slow brain had adopted his
sister's views, and it seemed to him that a woman so handsome and
distinguished as the Countess must certainly make a match that might lift
himself into the region of county celebrities, and give him at least a
sort of cousinship to the quarter-sessions.

All this, which was the simple truth, would have seemed extremely flat to
the gossips of Milby, who had made up their minds to something much more
exciting. There was nothing here so very detestable. It is true, the
Countess was a little vain, a little ambitious, a little selfish, a
little shallow and frivolous, a little given to white lies.--But who
considers such slight blemishes, such moral pimples as these,
disqualifications for entering into the most respectable society! Indeed,
the severest ladies in Milby would have been perfectly aware that these
characteristics would have created no wide distinction between the
Countess Czerlaski and themselves; and since it was clear there _was_ a
wide distinction--why, it must lie in the possession of some vices from
which they were undeniably free.

Hence it came to pass that Milby respectability refused to recognize the
Countess Czerlaski, in spite of her assiduous church-going, and the deep
disgust she was known to have expressed at the extreme paucity of the
congregations on Ash-Wednesdays. So she began to feel that she had
miscalculated the advantages of a neighbourhood where people are well
acquainted with each other's private affairs. Under these circumstances,
you will imagine how welcome was the perfect credence and admiration she
met with from Mr. and Mrs. Barton. She had been especially irritated by
Mr. Ely's behaviour to her; she felt sure that he was not in the least
struck with her beauty, that he quizzed her conversation, and that he
spoke of her with a sneer. A woman always knows where she is utterly
powerless, and shuns a coldly satirical eye as she would shun a Gorgon.
And she was especially eager for clerical notice and friendship, not
merely because that is quite the most respectable countenance to be
obtained in society, but because she really cared about religious
matters, and had an uneasy

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Text Comparison with How Lisa Loved the King

Page 0
Transcribed from the 1884 D.
Page 1
Young Lisa saw this hero in the king; And as wood-lilies that sweet odors bring Might dream the light that.
Page 2
I have no music-touch that could bring nigh My love to his soul's hearing.
Page 3
jpg} "For were I now a fair deep-breasted queen A-horseback, with blonde hair, and tunic green, Gold-bordered, like Costanza, I should need No change within to make me queenly there: For they the royal-hearted women are Who nobly love the noblest, yet have grace; For needy suffering lives in lowliest place, Carrying a choicer sunlight in their smile, The heavenliest ray that pitieth the vile.
Page 4
So, laying her small hand within his palm, She told him how that secret, glorious harm Of loftiest loving had befallen her; That death, her only hope, most bitter were, If, when she died, her love must perish too As songs unsung, and thoughts unspoken do, Which else might live within another breast.
Page 5
" He needed not to pause and first devise How he should tell the king; for in nowise Were such love-message worthily bested Save in fine verse by music rendered.
Page 6
Whether the words which that strange meaning bore Were but the poet's feigning, or aught more, Was bounden question, since their aim must be At some imagined or true royalty.
Page 7
" Meanwhile the king, revolving in his thought That innocent passion, was more deeply wrought To chivalrous pity; and at vesper-bell, With careless mien which hid his purpose well, Went forth on horseback, and, as if by chance Passing Bernardo's house, he paused to glance At the fine garden of this wealthy man, This Tuscan trader turned Palermitan; But, presently dismounting, chose to walk Amid the trellises, in gracious talk With this same trader, deigning even to ask If he had yet fulfilled the father's task Of marrying that daughter, whose young charms Himself, betwixt the passages of arms, Noted admiringly.
Page 8
" Those words, that touch upon her hand from him Whom her soul worshipped, as far seraphim Worship the distant glory, brought some shame Quivering upon her cheek, yet thrilled her frame With such deep joy she seemed in paradise, In wondering gladness, and in dumb surprise, That bliss could be so blissful.
Page 9
Soon came the king On horseback, with his barons, heralding The advent of the queen in courtly state; And all, descending at the garden gate, Streamed with their feathers, velvet, and brocade, Through the pleached alleys, till they, pausing, made A lake of splendor 'mid the aloes gray; When, meekly facing all their proud array, The white-robed Lisa with her parents stood, As some white dove before the gorgeous brood Of dapple-breasted birds born by the Colchian flood.
Page 10
" {King and Lisa: p42.
Page 11
L'ENVOI.