Cornhill Magazine,  6 (1862), 289–318.

Romola Ch. 11–14  [3/14]

[George Eliot]


Novel, Serial


Morality, Religion, Superstition, Natural Law, Organicism

    Tito Melema's deliberations on his responsibilities to his adoptive father Baldassare Calvo end with his mind being 'destitute of that dread which has been erroneously decried as if it were nothing higher than a man's animal care for his own skin: that awe of the Divine Nemesis which was felt by religious pagans, and, though it took a more positive form under Christianity, is still felt by the mass of mankind simply as a vague fear at anything which is called wrong-doing. Such terror of the unseen is so far above mere sensual cowardice that it will annihilate that cowardice: it is the initial recognition of a moral law restraining desire'. The 'guardianship' of fear may eventually 'become needless; but only when all outward law has become needless—only when duty and love have united in one stream and made a common force'. Tito, however, was 'nurtured in contempt for the tales of priests', and is now 'too cultured and sceptical' and 'in erudite familiarity with disputes concerning the chief good, which had after all, he considered, left it a matter of taste'. (291) Later, after learning that his beloved Romola is to enter San Marco to tend her dying brother (who he fears will disclose his betrayal of Calvo), Tito finds himself 'at one of those lawless moments which come to us all if we have no guide but desire, and the pathway where desire leads us seems suddenly closed; he was ready to follow any beckoning that offered him an immediate purpose' (307). Tito subsequently makes a sham marriage with the peasant girl Tessa, but 'the love which formed one web with all his worldly hopes [...] the love that was identified with his larger self—was not to be banished from his consciousness' (318).


Eliot 1863

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