I finally remembered to share this tidbit from Middlemarch (we’re over two-thirds of the way through the novel, and will soon have to start thinking about what to follow it with for our nightly readings); it’s from Chapter 48:
But Mr Casaubon’s theory of the elements which made the seed of all tradition was not likely to bruise itself unawares against discoveries: it floated among flexible conjectures no more solid than those etymologies which seemed strong because of likeness in sound, until it was shown that likeness in sound made them impossible: it was a method of interpretation which was not tested by the necessity of forming anything which had sharper collisions than an elaborate notion of Gog and Magog: it was as free from interruption as a plan for threading the stars together.
The section I have bolded shows a grasp of the (then brand-new, and revolutionary) theory of the regularity of sound change that is still rare today. I am coming more and more to think that if I could have dinner with a novelist from the past, it would be Ms. Evans. (Forget Tolstoy: I can get harangued by overexcited hypocrites in my own time.)