Cornhill Magazine,  7 (1863), 681–705.

Romola Ch. 57–61  [12/14]

[George Eliot]


Novel, Serial


Physiology, Positivism, Organicism, Morality

    In recounting how the circumspect Tito Melema managed to 'secure his own safety with the fewest unpleasant concomitants' throughout the discoveries of the various Medicean plots, the narrator comments, 'It is agreeable to keep a whole skin; but the skin still remains an organ sensitive to the atmosphere' (682). This observation echoes the experimental findings of George H Lewes [alluded to in CM1/7/5/5] that small patches of skin left on the bodies of flayed frogs remain sensitive even after their brains have been removed [see Lewes 1860b]. Romola, having 'lost her trust' in the Comtean ideals seemingly personified by Savonarola, 'cease[s] to believe in our own better self' and begins to feel 'even the springs of her once active pity drying up, and leaving her to barren egotistic complaining' (703–04). After all, she reasons, 'few had cared for her, while she had cared for many', and now all she wishes for is to 'repose in mere sensation' (704).


Eliot 1863

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <> [accessed ]