CLASSIC READ: Middlemarch - Book 4, Chapter 38

Published 1871, George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community.

CLASSIC READ: Middlemarch - Book 4, Chapter 38

Lady Jayne
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 7:41 pm

July 11th, 2018, 4:36 am #1

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Chapter 38
 
The epigraph at the beginning of this chapter is by François Pierre Guillaume Guizot and translates to “Men’s judgement on human actions is a serious thing; sooner or later it takes effect.” Guizot was a French historian, orator, and statesman who was a dominant figure in French politics prior to the Revolution of 1848. Brooke should take note of his words.

 
Sir James is visiting the Cadwalladers without Celia in order to spare her feelings and to complain about Mr. Brooke's political involvement as a Whig. Most of the old, wealthy families, like the Brookes and the Chettams, are conservative Tories. The Whigs want gradual change, and the Radicals want even more drastic changes to occur. The fact Brooke has bought the liberal newspaper is just adding insult to injury at this point for Brooke isn't just publishing the paper, he is also thinking of running for Parliament as a Whig. They don't think he stands a chance against Bagster, the other Whig candidate, even though Bulstrode is campaigning for Brooke, and his opinions are very influential in Middlemarch. With her usual flair, Mrs. C. proclaims she has always been convinced Brooke would end up making “a splash in the mud.”
 
Next, Sir James brings up "young Ladislaw," Casaubon's relative and Brooke's newspaper editor, as “a quill-driven alien, a foreign emissary” (362 BN hardcover). Mrs. C. calls him “a dangerous young sprig." If Casaubon says nothing about the situation with Ladislaw and isn't inclined to ship him off to India, there is not much anyone can do about it. Mr. C. is not concerned and thinks Brooke will change his mind about running for Parliament. Dorothea is no help in persuading her uncle, especially since Casaubon has kept her busy with his recent illness. Sir James thinks Brooke is a stingy landlord, and the opposition newspaper, called the Trumpet, has already started printing negative stories about the state of the cottages on Brooke's property. 
 
Right on cue, Brooke appears, and the group tries to dissuade him from running for Parliament. Mr. C. points out the article in the Trumpet that criticizes Brooke's estate management and calls him “the most retrogressive man in the county” (365). Sir James hints that Brooke should consider putting in new gates on his estate and suggests he hire Caleb Garth to do the work. Brooke dismisses the idea as “fancy farming.” Bribery can also be rather expensive. As Mrs. Cadwallader points out, running for Parliament will be even more expensive than repairing the farms. But Brooke dismisses that notion as well, saying there isn’t much one can do to protect himself from calumny. Mr. C. suggests Brooke take Chettam’s advice and hire Garth to add the gates and make repairs on his farms. Brooke is having none of it and has his own ideas about the matter. He then leaves in a hurry to avoid further criticism.
 

There is more talk about politics in this chapter, which seems to be preparing the reader for a turning point regarding the town of Middlemarch. One would think Bulstrode might fare better than Brooke in the election since he has many connections. Is Bulstrode setting him up to fail?  If only Brooke would listen to his friends! Maybe he will.
 
Chettam does not like Ladislaw one bit. Could he be upset about Will's friendship with Dorothea?

It was interesting that Chettam brought up Dorothea and how she is too wrapped up with Casaubon to be of any help with her uncle. Normally, she could easily be persuaded to talk with Brooke to improve the condition of the farms for the tenants.
 
What to do you make of the heated exchanges in this chapter?
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

July 11th, 2018, 1:34 pm #2

Thanks Lady Jayne for another wonderful summary and your questions.  

I'm not sure what Bulstrode's motives are for bringing Brooke as a candidate.  it might be that there is no one else as motivated to run or that Bulstrode may be able to manipulate Brooke more.  

If they only knew of Dorothea's preoccupations with her husband and his jealousies towards the dangerous sprig; and how dangerous said sprig is in disrupting no only the marriage between Dorothea and Casaubon, but of possibly disrupting a community, they'd be quite surprised.  The fact that Brooke is using Ladislaw is questionable for them.  I wonder what they would think, other than being surprised, about Casaubon's dislike of his young cousin and why he does. 

Chettam would dislke Ladislaw.  As a young man who was rejected in favor of Casaubon, Chettam probably knows what Ladislaw is about.  He probably imagines that Ladislaw is besotted with Dorothea, is my guess.  Ladislaw certainly seems to be the fly in the ointment and they'd rather see him gone away.  But India? 
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

July 11th, 2018, 2:56 pm #3

Thanks Lady Jayne for summarizing.  I'm finding that I get bogged down in the politics and lose my focus when listening to some of these chapters that focus on it.  At least this one was shorter.  I didn't expect this book to be quite so political. Though I can handle it in small doses, when it gets a bit more than that my mind tends to drift a bit.  Alas.

What surprised me most in this chapter was that Brooke's farms aren't in very good shape and that earlier Dorothea was so focused on getting Sir James to improve his cottages and she ignored the state of her own uncle's farms.  Shouldn't she have been pushing her Uncle to improve the lot of the poor for whom he was "responsible"?

Brooke does not seem like a very good candidate, so perhaps ND is right about Bulstrode thinking he can manipulate him from the background, so he'd support him.  Why are there so many B names?  Bulstrode, Brooke and his opponent Bagster.  Do Whigs need to have names that start with B?

I thought that Chettam didn't like Ladislaw because he's apparently a Whig - editing the liberal newspaper - and Chettam and many of the old rich families are conservative Tories.  I didn't get the impression that he thought there was anything with him and Dorothea.  They talked about Dorothea being wrapped up in Casaubon's health, and if she doesn't have time to talk to her uncle about his run for office, why would they think she has time to spend with Ladislaw?  I suppose a lot of people have been interested in Dorothea, but I don't get the impression they have any evidence of such with Ladislaw.  He's been staying with Brooke and kept away by Casaubon, so I don't think they are making the connection there, but who knows.

I love the idea that everyone trusts Garth to do a good job and keep the farms and the finances in better order than Brooke is.  I like the Garth family and hope things will go their way at some point, since it hasn't so far.
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Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

July 11th, 2018, 8:38 pm #4

Wow, thanks for the summary and explanations. I got really bogged down with the politics and then I just started skimming through it. I never learned much about that period in English history and what little anyone tried to teach me I didn't pay attention to.

I think Brooke will win with Bulstrode's backing because Bulstrode seems quite influential. But it will be a case of "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it" and he will live to regret it. Bulstrode is sneaky. I don't like him.

I don't think that Sir James knows anything about Ladislaw's relation with Dorothea. My impression is that he doesn't like him for who is he: an outsider, unsettled, something of a dilettante, a liberal. I thought it was interesting too that he brought up Dorothea's absence. That was the part that interested me the most actually - the most telling about her current situation.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
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Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

July 11th, 2018, 10:56 pm #5

audiobooklover wrote: What surprised me most in this chapter was that Brooke's farms aren't in very good shape and that earlier Dorothea was so focused on getting Sir James to improve his cottages and she ignored the state of her own uncle's farms.  Shouldn't she have been pushing her Uncle to improve the lot of the poor for whom he was "responsible"?
Yes, this is a good point. Did Dorothea know that her uncle's farms were not in good shape? Maybe not, because the tenants are able to keep their rents low, and Dorothea would not know that new tenants would not accept the terms. It is interesting that Brooke dismisses the notion that he should improve his farms.

Thanks for the summary, Lady Jayne, and for explaining the political details which totally baffled me. It is hard reading a book set in a different era without some contextual explanation. (Perhaps all this was in the introductions, but, if so, I have already forgotten it all.)

I liked the way the three friends planned to dissuade Brooke on three separate fronts. It looks like they will not succeed. 

I wonder why Casaubon did not ship Ladislaw off to India, where he would have been out of sight, out of mind and out of the way.
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Lisa SF
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Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

July 12th, 2018, 3:25 am #6

I was surprised about the state of Brooke's farm as well. Perhaps there's been a change since Dorothea left to get married, because otherwise I'd think she'd have been aware of the concerns.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
NigheanDubh
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Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

July 12th, 2018, 11:55 pm #7

Great point about Brooke's farms.  I hope that Sir Chettam will not follow his example and let them go to poor condition.  I wonder if Brooke did let the cottages fall into disrepair after Dorothea left.  He seems too busy with newspapers, campaigns and disrupting his community.  I hope Bulstrode doesn't betray him.  Wouldn't surprise.  
I wonder what position Lydgate will take on this, if any.  So far he doesn't seem to stand by his plans.
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Pauline
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:19 pm

July 13th, 2018, 10:30 am #8

I agree with everyone that LJ did a fine job of explaining the political connections in this chapter because I completely lost focus with the exception of the conversation at the Cadwallader house and Sir James.  Bulstrode likes to be the puppeteer so it doesn't surprise me that he would rather be the man behind the scenes as opposed to being the face out front.  The state of the farms was surprising but I'm wondering if it is mainly a smear campaign by the opposing newspaper.  Perhaps the tenants are fine with the state of the gates in exchange for low rents.  I don't think that everything went to rack and ruin upon her short time away and she would have been all over this with her architect drawings, etc., that she was preoccupied with prior to her marriage.  Rather, it seems that it was Sir James properties that needed the most amount of attention earlier in the story since we know that Casaubon's tenants were in excellent shape.  Didn't Sir James say that he wasn't using Garth but an inferior builder now or did I get that wrong?

The person that is most suspect to me in this story is Sir James for some reason.  Not sure why but I really don't trust him as much.  I wonder what Celia would have thought had she overheard his comments about Mr. Brooks, Dorothea, and Ladislaw?  He seems like a pot stirrer to me.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
NigheanDubh
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Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

July 14th, 2018, 2:05 am #9

More great insights, Pauline. To answer your question:
Didn't Sir James say that he wasn't using Garth but an inferior builder now or did I get that wrong?"
I went to find what the text said: 
 
"He got rid of Garth twelve years ago, and everything has been going wrong since.  I think of getting Garth to manage for me--he has made such a capital plan for my buildings; and Lovegood is hardly up to the mark." (p. 363 Tp, Barnes &Noble)

So it sounds like Sir James is actually considering Garth because he must have discovered that Lovegood is inferior.  So, one can interpret it that Sir J. is not using Garth, but may take him on.  On the other hand it could be interpreted that Sir James is making an observation about Garth.  He makes no commitment to take on Garth, only that he is giving Garth consideration.  

Brooke also keeps the rents low and doesn't bother the tenants when they are in arrears.  

It sounds like Casaubon is the one whose cottages are in tip top shape.  He seems to have a conscience to keeping then so while the other two gentlemen are not as careful.  

I do find that Ladislaw has done some damage to Casaubon.  Even Mrs. Cadwallader is referring to Casaubon as Thomas Aquinas.  I laughed when I heard it but I also felt bad that there was derision towards Casaubon.  

There is another reference which somewhat derides Mr. Casaubon:  Mr. Cadwallader comments that at least Brooke hasn't gotten it into his head to marry.   
I wonder if Mrs. Cadwallader's response would have been the author's take on older men marrying, but she has an opinion on older men marrying, it would seem:
"He may do that afterwards, said Mrs. Cadwallader-- "when he has come out on the other side with an ague."  (360)

The person that is most suspect to me in this story is Sir James for some reason.  Not sure why but I really don't trust him as much.  I wonder what Celia would have thought had she overheard his comments about Mr. Brooks, Dorothea, and Ladislaw?  He seems like a pot stirrer to me.
Another great point and you're probably right.  Definitely an instigator.  

I believe that Sir James will always hold a bit of a grudge against Mr. Brooke for not stopping Dorothea's marriage to Casaubon.  
I didn't like that he was talking about Brooke behind Celia's back, and being unnecessarily critical.  Not nice. 
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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