Cornhill Magazine,  6 (1862), 145–86.

Romola Ch. 6–10  [2/14]

[George Eliot]


Novel, Serial


Entomology, Ancient Authorities, Physiology, Morality

    The scholars Bartolommeo Scala and Politian conduct a learned and pedantic squabble in their 'letters, which were the literary periodicals of the fifteenth century'. Fastidiously correcting each other's Latin epigrams on 'the culex (an insect well known at the revival of learning)', they are both equally unaware that all their conceits are 'unhappily founded partly on the zoological mistake that the flea, like the gnat, was born from the waters'. (159) At this time, however, 'for [...] the damp origin of the flea, there was the authority of Virgil himself, who had called it the "alumnus of the waters"' (160). Once Tito Melema has made a conscious decision not to seek out his adoptive father Baldassare Calvo, his amoral instincts will in future be made habitual by the physiological channels etched in his mind by his earlier behaviour; 'the little rills of selfishness [...] united and made a channel, so that they could never again meet with the same resistance' (177) [see Shuttleworth 1984; 108].


Eliot 1863

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