CLASSIC READ: Middlemarch Book II Chapter 13 (XIII)

Clan Fraser
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

April 16th, 2018, 6:46 am #1


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.

Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

April 16th, 2018, 12:54 pm #2

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.

Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

April 18th, 2018, 10:23 pm #3

Thank you for the summary, DLT. 
I loved Lydgate's confidence and verve.  He doesn't seem like he will be manipulated. 

Audiobooklover, I was thinking along the lines of a scandal as well, especially since no one has heard of this man.  Usually everybody knows where everyone is from.  Perhaps Balustrode is protesting so much in order to obfuscate the Middlemarchers from questioning his origins.  If there is something to his past, talking about others will cast light elsewhere, not on himself.  
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?
Great question, audio.  Of course that the father going to Balustrode is more effective short term, but long term Fred will continue to think he will always be able to get out of scrapes.  It won't build character.  Perhaps that's not important to the Vincys.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings

Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

April 19th, 2018, 7:53 pm #4

Great summary, DLT. Bulstrode seems very full of himself, so sure of his own morality and judgment that he wants to impose his view on everyone else. His refusal to write the letter for Fred seems mean-hearted and petty. I liked that Vincy seemed to have the upper hand by the end of the chapter.

Lydgate promises to be an interesting character, devoted to modernity and medical reform. It'll be interesting to see what his influence will be on the country folk.
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Clan Fraser
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 25th, 2012, 9:08 am

April 20th, 2018, 11:52 pm #5

Just catching up! Everyone so far seems to have little else to do but think they have the right to interfere and comment upon everyone else’s business - small town syndrome.
Bulstrode is full of his own importance, I think being a bank manager in those days was seen as an important position with social standing in the community and that, allied with his spiritual beliefs had led Bulstrode to put his own ideas forward regarding the hospital chaplain.
I agree that Lydgate is becoming more interesting but although his medical practices seem more enlightened I’m not sure his romantic ones are yet.

Clan Fraser
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:19 pm

April 22nd, 2018, 7:25 pm #6

Bulstrode seems like the master chess player of this town.  He charms Lydgate with the appointment as head of the hospital over the long standing medical community and then turns around and asks him to support his choice on someone that seems to be controversial if he'll need his support and someone that Lydgate doesn't know at all.

As for Mr. Vincy approaching Bulstrode over Fred, that is a mistake.  I think that Featherstone was testing Fred and having his father do his dirty work is going to be a strike against him.  Bulstrode, however, admits that Fred hasn't approached him for money so what is the big deal in his giving an affidavit to that effect.  

There's mention again when Lydgate was leaving that while hoping for an invitation from Vincy to be near Rosamond again, he wouldn't be a potential suitor for her.  I'm not clear on what the Vincy standing is compared to that of Lydgate but I would hope that if he is the hospital's administrator, he would hold a position high enough to suit her.  

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

April 30th, 2018, 5:19 am #7

Great summary, DLT. I agree with everyone's comments about Bulstrode. He really is a "Bul-ly." He reminds me of Mr. Potter, the banker in It's a Wonderful Life. He clearly wields a good deal of power so it is saying quite a bit about Lydgate that he doesn't accept B.'s nomination of Mr. Tyke as chaplain of the hospital.

Fred's father appears intimidated by B. at first, but he stands his ground, having met with resistance from his brother-in-law in the past. 

Good catch, ABL, about the fact that not much is know about B. and where he came from prior to settling in Middlemarch. Makes me wonder what secrets he may be hiding.

Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

April 30th, 2018, 5:22 pm #8

I liked Lydgate here. He seems to represent the young progressive doctor. He makes me think of Dr. Ennis from Poldark. Only it would seem that he has dark hair and bushy eyebrows (what an odd thing to admire) so I guess he should resemble Aidan Quinn as a young darkly handsome hero.

Bulstrode seemed like quite the hypocrite. Great catch about his being a newcomer to town. Actually then his entire standing depends on his relation to Mr. Vincy. This might explain why it sounded like Vincy was going to get what he wanted in the end. As for the question of whether Fred should have made the request himself, I agree that it wouldn't tend towards making Fred more responsible but there's a good argument for having his father do it for him: 1) his father has a relationship with Bulstrode not him and clearly has more influence over him and 2) considering that Fred risks losing his inheritance over this matter, it is too important to take any chances so his father has to do it for him.

Does anyone else think that there are an awful lot of clergymen? First we heard about Casaubon, then we learn that Fred is studying for that and now we hear about this Mr. Tyke. I wonder part of the point of the first conversation was to let us learn that there are three clergymen in such a small area.
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