Farebrother assures Mary that her refusal to burn Featherstone's second will made no difference in Fred's lot. It would have been valid regardless. He asks Mary about her feelings for Fred. Mary states that she won't marry Fred if he becomes a clergyman and if he doesn't settle on a steady occupation. Farebrother hints that he himself loves her. Mary says that she loves Fred too much to give him up for another. Feeling pained for his loss and proud for having done his duty, Farebrother leaves to deliver the message.

John Raffles interrupts a conversation between Caleb Garth and Bulstrode. Garth senses that Bulstrode is not pleased to see Raffles. He leaves them alone because he doesn't want to eavesdrop. Raffles learns that Bulstrode purchased Stone Court from his stepson, Rigg Featherstone. Bulstrode bribes Raffles to stay away from Middlemarch. Raffles could damage Bulstrode's reputation as an eminent Christian by revealing the fact that Bulstrode contrived to prevent his first wife from finding her missing daughter and grandchild. The missing daughter's married name was Ladislaw.

Commentary

Brooke and Sir James connive to conceal Casaubon's humiliating codicil. Again, men discuss and manage a woman's welfare without including her in the process. Casaubon represents the regrettable failure of a human life to realize the ambitions that governed it. The dichotomy between Casaubon's private paranoid self-doubt and his dignified, confident public face is too much to overcome in the end. His ambition to do his duty by Will ends in failure, because he virtually re-enacts the very measure taken against Will's grandmother. Her family stripped her of her inheritance as punishment for governing her own life by marrying the man of her choice against their wishes. Casaubon threatens the same punishment if Dorothea should marry the one man he dislikes. Moreover, his codicil is doubly ironic. He disinherits Will as well by proxy. He dies without finishing his life-long project.

Casaubon's tragedy is an ordinary human tragedy. Petty jealousy and the small failures of character make his end almost pathetic. However, it is difficult not to sympathize with his struggle to maintain his moral system until the very end. He justified the idea of adding the contemptible codicil by telling himself he was only doing his duty as a husband by providing for Dorothea's protection after his death. He lived continually with the fear that others would discover his self-doubt, and he dies leaving behind the glaring evidence of those very doubts. Not only does he fail to realize his ambitions, he fails to keep his deepest secret.

Lydgate, however, manages a small triumph. He once deprived Farebrother of a much-needed boost in income. When he voted against Farebrother for the chaplaincy, he furthered his own personal interests and the interests of a wealthy man at the expense of a poor man. In a manner of speaking, Lydgate repays a debt when he speaks with Dorothea on Farebrother's behalf. He secured the financial resources offered by Bulstrode by denying much-needed financial resources to Farebrother, so he now goes against Bulstrode's wish to secure the Lowick parish for Tyke. Lydgate's debt to Farebrother doesn't involve money directly, but money is nevertheless deeply entangled in it.

There is a great deal of irony in Lydgate's redemption. He himself has had a chance to experience the anxiety that minor debts can entail. Lydgate's experience with small financial needs modifies his earlier contempt for the manner in which small, unmet financial needs govern a man's actions. Lydgate himself must now contend with the responsibility of supporting a woman in times of financial troubles. Lydgate felt safe enough to marry once he secured Bulstrode's financial backing with his vote. Farebrother couldn't marry because he simply couldn't afford to do so. Moreover, his sister couldn't marry either because Farebrother couldn't afford the expense of her wedding.