Book II: Old and Young
Chapter 13 (XIII)
The opening lines are thought to be written by George Eliot.
Mr. Vincy is eager to speak to Mr. Bulstrode about Fred, but the latter already has a visitor, Mr. Lydgate, who is there to discuss the building of a new hospital. Mr. Bulstrode is enthusiastic about the new venture, saying that in his opinion the local doctors, although respectable, lack knowledge and skill. He then raises the question of addressing the patients’ spiritual needs, and asks that Lydgate appoint a Mr. Tyke as the hospital chaplain. Lydgate dismisses this notion as being out of his area, and the two part in disagreement.
Mr. Lydgate is pleased to see Mr. Vincy arrive, as this brings back pleasant thoughts of Rosamund, while Mr. Bulstrode is glad to be rid of Lydgate and his blunt comments.
Mr. Vincy explains that Mr. Featherstone has heard rumours that Fred has been borrowing money on the strength of his presumed inheritance from Featherstone, and Vincy would like Bulstrode to write a letter denying such rumours and attesting to Fred’s good character. Bulstrode is reluctant to do this, and instead he criticises Vimy’s business, the way he brought up his children, his partiality to wealth, his lack of spiritual direction, and says that a quarrel will be painful to his wife, Harriet (Vimy’s sister). Vimy points out that Bulstrode is profiting from businesses that are not run by saints, and that he takes his religion a bit too seriously, and both he and Harriet will be disappointed if Bulstrode cannot do Fred a good turn.
As Vimy leaves, Bulstrode reflects on what Vimy has said, realising that he has come across in a less than perfect light, and he says that he will reflect on the matter, discuss it with his wife and perhaps send a letter.
Bulstrode seems to wield a position of power (or is it only social standing?) to be able to demand the appointment of a certain person as chaplain
I liked the way Lydgate was honest with his opinions – I look forward to seeing more of him
Presumably Bulstrode has to write the letter about Fred because Fred would have borrowed money from the bank – is that it? ()
I hope that Bulstrode considers all requests for bank loans on the merit of their business cases and not on the spiritual vibes coming from the borrower.
Thanks for the summary, DLT. When Bulstrode was first mentioned a couple of chapters ago, there was a comment about people not knowing his background. That was mentioned again in this chapter (something about no one knowing any Bulstrodes before he came to town whatever number of years ago). That makes me wonder what might have happened in his past or who his family might be and why it's such a mystery to everyone in town. I suspect we'll learn about it at some point and given his comments shaming others about religion, I would guess that it will be somewhat scandalous, but that is just a guess. Have we heard of Mr. Tyke before? I wondered why Bulstrode wanted him so specifically to be the hospital chaplain. It could just be that he has similar religious beliefs and he wants his form of religion to be central at the hospital. But, I wondered whether there might be more to it.
DLT - Like you, I thought Featherstone wanted a letter from Bulstrode because he would know if Fred tried to borrow money from the bank based on his expected inheritance. Of course, Bulstrode was right in that Fred could have borrowed from somewhere else, too, but I think Featherstone was just being manipulative.
At the end of the last chapter, Fred was thinking about how he might be able to get his father to see his uncle so he wouldn't have to, and obviously he managed that. Do you think it was better this way because his father might have been more effective talking to his uncle? Or do you think Vincy is just continuing to let Fred be lazy by taking this task on rather than making Fred do it himself?
I agree that it's good that Lydgate expresses his opinions and that he might reform things. I'm also glad that he didn't let Bulstrode bully him. And, of course, the invitation to dine with the Vincys will allow the possible romance between him and Rosamond to progress.