Have you seen much of your scientific phoenix, Lydgate, lately? said Mr. Toller at one of his Christmas dinner-parties, speaking to Mr. Farebrother on his right hand.
Not much, I am sorry to say, answered the Vicar, accustomed to parry Mr. Tollers banter about his belief in the new medical light. I am out of the way and he is too busy.
Is he? I am glad to hear it, said Dr. Minchin, with mingled suavity and surprise.
He gives a great deal of time to the New Hospital, said Mr. Farebrother, who had his reasons for continuing the subject: I hear of that from my neighbor, Mrs. Casaubon, who goes there often. She says Lydgate is indefatigable, and is making a fine thing of Bulstrodes institution. He is preparing a new ward in case of the cholera coming to us.
And preparing theories of treatment to try on the patients, I suppose, said Mr. Toller.
Come, Toller, be candid, said Mr. Farebrother. You are too clever not to see the good of a bold fresh mind in medicine, as well as in everything else; and as to cholera, I fancy, none of you are very sure what you ought to do. If a man goes a little too far along a new road, it is usually himself that he harms more than any one else.
I am sure you and Wrench ought to be obliged to him, said Dr. Minchin, looking towards Toller, for he has sent you the cream of Peacocks patients.
Lydgate has been living at a great rate for a young beginner, said Mr. Harry Toller, the brewer. I suppose his relations in the North back him up.
I hope so, said Mr. Chichely, else he ought not to have married that nice girl we were all so fond of. Hang it, one has a grudge against a man who carries off the prettiest girl in the town.
Ay, by God! and the best too, said Mr. Standish.
My friend Vincy didnt half like the marriage, I know that, said Mr. Chichely. He wouldnt do much. How the relations on the other side may have come down I cant say. There was an emphatic kind of reticence in Mr. Chichelys manner of speaking.
Oh, I shouldnt think Lydgate ever looked to practice for a living, said Mr. Toller, with a slight touch of sarcasm, and there the subject was dropped.
This was not the first time that Mr. Farebrother had heard hints of Lydgates expenses being obviously too great to be met by his practice, but he thought it not unlikely that there were resources or expectations which excused the large outlay at the time of Lydgates marriage, and which might hinder any bad consequences from the disappointment in his practice. One evening, when he took the pains to go to Middlemarch on purpose to have a chat with Lydgate as of old, he noticed in him an air of excited effort quite unlike his usual easy way of keeping silence or breaking it with abrupt energy whenever he had anything to say. Lydgate talked persistently when they were in his work-room, putting arguments for and against the probability of certain biological views; but he had none of those definite things to say or to show which give the waymarks of a patient uninterrupted pursuit, such as he used himself to insist on, saying that there must be a systole and diastole in all inquiry, and that a mans mind must be continually expanding and shrinking between the whole human horizon and the horizon of an object-glass. That evening he seemed to be talking widely for the sake of resisting any personal bearing; and before long they went
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