Sunday, July 08, 2012

Elegant accomplishments

Middlemarch, book 3, chapter 27:
But Rosamond was not one of those helpless girls who betray themselves unawares, and whose behaviour is awkwardly driven by their impulses, instead of being steered by wary grace and propriety.  Do you imagine that her rapid forecast and rumination concerning house-furniture and society were ever discernible in her conversation, even with her mamma?  On the contrary, she would have expressed the prettiest surprise and disapprobation if she had heard that another young lady had been detected in that immodest prematureness - indeed, would probably have disbelieved in its possibility.  For Rosamond never showed any unbecoming knowledge, and was always that combination of correct sentiments, music, dancing, drawing, elegant note-writing, private album for extracted verse, and perfect blond loveliness, which made the irresistible woman for the doomed man of that date.  Think no unfair evil of her, pray: she had no wicked plots, nothing sordid or mercenary; in fact, she never thought of money except as something necessary which other people would always provide.  She was not in the habit of devising falsehoods, and if her statements were no direct clue to fact, why, they were not intended in that light - they were among her elegant accomplishments, intended to please.

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure this is quite the right term but the good bits in Middlemarch are so compelling in part because they are so ponderous -- Austen would have managed to imply all of that paragraph in a sentence; yet something is gained by the amplification. (Perhaps the "why" and the "mamma" are the false notes in this passage; it might have been wise for her to write less like Thackeray and more like Dr. Johnson...)