Cornhill Magazine,  7 (1863), 145–71.

Romola Ch. 38–41  [8/14]

[George Eliot]


Novel, Serial


Scientific Practitioners, Ancient Authorities, Psychology, Morality, Sociology, Organicism, Positivism

    The pavilion of the Rucellai family has been frequented by many eminent philosophers and thinkers of the past, most notably 'Leon Battista Alberti [...] a robust, universal mind, at once practical and theoretic, artist, man of science, inventor, poet' (151). Notes that 'so distinct sometimes is the working of a double consciousness within us, that Tito himself, while he triumphed in the apparent verification of his lie, wished that he had never made the lie necessary to himself' (161). The amoral Tito, however, feels 'the effect of an opposite tradition' than that in which 'Our lives make a moral tradition for our individual selves, as the life of mankind at large makes a moral tradition for the race; and to have once acted greatly seems to make a reason why we should always be noble' (158). Savanorola, who Romola encounters whilst attempting to flee Florence, is, as Sally Shuttleworth notes, an embodiment of Auguste Comte's Priest of Humanity, and he preaches that she must obey her obligations to the larger social organism of which she forms a part [Shuttleworth 1984; 100–01]. He argues persuasively that she is 'a child of Florence' who must altruistically 'fulfil the duties of that great inheritance' (169), and, in adherence to the unchangeable 'law that lies at the foundation of the trust which binds man to man', must return to her home (165).


Eliot 1863

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