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by George Eliot

Middlemarch Book 4, Chapter 38 Summary

  • Sir James is visiting the Cadwalladers' house, complaining about Mr. Brooke's going into politics as a Whig.
  • Remember, Sir James has married Celia, Mr. Brooke's niece, so he has a family interest in keeping Mr. Brooke from making a fool of himself.
  • Context Time: most old, wealthy families, like the Brookes or the Chettams, were conservative Tories. They had an obvious interest in maintaining the status quo – after all, the status quo meant that they got to continue being rich and powerful.
  • The Whigs wanted gradual change, and the Radicals wanted, well, radical change.
  • So the fact that Brooke has bought the liberal newspaper is just adding insult to injury.
  • Mr. Cadwallader and Mr. Farebrother say that Brooke isn't just publishing the liberal newspaper now; he's actually thinking about running for Parliament as a Whig.
  • But they don't think he stands much of a chance against Bagster, the other Whig candidate.
  • Bulstrode, though, is campaigning for Brooke, and Bulstrode's opinions carry a lot of weight in Middlemarch.
  • Sir James then brings up "young Ladislaw," Casaubon's relative and Brooke's newspaper editor.
  • Mrs. Cadwallader calls him a "troublesome sprig."
  • Sir James doesn't want Brooke to run for Parliament for all kinds of reasons – Brooke is a bad landlord, and the opposition newspaper, called the Trumpet, has already started dredging up bad stories about the state of the cottages on Brooke's property.
  • Brooke walks in just then, and Mrs. Cadwallader points out the article in the Trumpet that criticizes Brooke's estate management.
  • Sir James hints that Brooke should consider putting in new gates on his estate, at least, and suggests that he hire Caleb Garth to do the job.
  • Brooke dismisses the idea as too expensive, and Mrs. Cadwallader points out that running for Parliament will be even more expensive.
  • But Brooke dismisses that, too, and then leaves in a hurry to avoid more criticisms from his friends.

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