Friday, June 20, 2014

Sir Robert Peel, et al.

This may be of limited interest, but as I read I wondered about the many references to Dorothea's Uncle Mr Brooke's politics, and what those might mean for Brooke's character and the type of family Dorothea hails from.  There is this, for example, from Book I Chapter 1:

"...if Dorothea married and had a son, that son would inherit Mr. Brooke's estate, presumably worth about three thousand a-year - a rental which seemed wealth to provincial families, still discussing Mr. Peel's late conduct on the Catholic Question, innocent of future gold-fields, and of that gorgeous plutocracy which has so nobly exalted the necessities of genteel life." 

Or this, in Book I Chapter 6 from Mrs. Cadwallader to Mr Brooke, discussing Casaubon and Mr. Brooke's politics:

"I suspect you and he are brewing some bad politics, else you would not be seeing so much of the lively man.  I shall inform against you: remember you are both suspicious characters since you took Peel's side about the Catholic Bill.  I shall tell everybody that you are going to put up for Middlemarch on the Whig side when old Pinkerton resigns, and that Casaubon is going to help you in an underhand manner: going to bribe the voters with pamphlets, and throw open the public-houses to distribute them."

I found an article in Ebsco Host, the Library's periodical article database, which I thought might help us with background information about the period of English Parliamentary Reform which is Middlemarch's setting:

Farrell, Stephen. "A First Step Towards Democracy." History Today 60.7 (2010): 10. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 19 June 2014.

To access the article, click on the link above; you will then be prompted to enter your library card number.  Then click 'PDF full text' on the left of the screen.  

Does any of this matter?  Do we need to understand the political backdrop to appreciate Middlemarch?  Comments, please!

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