Rosamond’s baby was born prematurely and died, and this is thought to have been caused by her going horse-riding during her pregnancy, against Lydgate’s wishes. This all took place during a visit from Captain Lydgate, a relative whom Tertius despised as a “vapid fop.” Rosamond was thrilled that the son of a baronet was staying at her house and was overjoyed to be able to introduce him to guests. Tertius was polite but distant in his interactions with Captain Lydgate, but admitted to Rosamond that he hated him and so did Will, who stopped coming to their house as soon as the captain appeared.
Rosamond is so dazzled by Captain Lydgate’s rank that she doesn’t see that, at least according to Tertius, the captain has a terrible personality. To Rosamond, a person’s characteristics don’t actually matter much, as the most important fact about them by far is their social status.
Rosamond believed Will was jealous of Captain Lydgate and secretly found this delightful. Tertius accused Rosamond of wishing he was more like his cousin, and privately lamented that she didn’t admire him. When Captain Lydgate asked Rosamond to come riding with him, she did so without telling Tertius. He found out anyway and was furious, forbidding her from going again. He said he was going to reprimand his cousin for taking Rosamond on such a dangerous excursion, but Rosamond pleaded with him not to.
It is difficult to evaluate who is in the right on the issue of Lydgate banning Rosamond from going riding. In general, men exercise excessive control over their wives’ decisions in Middlemarch society. Yet in this case, Lydgate has the medical expertise to back up his concerns about Rosamond’s riding while pregnant.
Rosamond went riding again, and this time her horse got spooked, throwing her and (perhaps) making her lose the baby. Rosamond maintains that the ride did not cause her miscarriage. While Lydgate is outwardly full of sympathy for his wife, he is also frightened by how easily Rosamond defied hm. In the past year and a half, Lydgate has been spending money on things he can’t afford, and now he finds himself suffocated by debt. Rosamond’s “extravagant” tastes are partly to blame, but so is Lydgate himself, who has been spending irresponsibly.
This passage paints Lydgate in a sympathetic light. The fact that Rosamond defied his warnings and then lost the baby could cause him to be angry at her, but instead he (at least outwardly) remains kind. This shows the strength of his love for her. At the same time, it remains to be seen if this love is powerful enough to see them through the increasing difficulties they face as a couple.
The horror of this debt is made worse by the fact that the bills are going to keep mounting. He approaches the silversmith, Mr. Dover, who agrees to take on the bill for Lydgate’s furniture in exchange for certain items Lydgate had previously bought—in particular, an amethyst necklace worth £30. He arrives home to find Will playing the piano with Rosamond. It has been a few weeks since Will went to Lowick to bid Dorothea goodbye, but for now he is still working in Middlemarch. Dismissing Rosamond’s protests, Will leaves.
The effort to keep up appearances has ended up costing Lydgate so much that he must now try to subtly sell some of his possessions in order to manage his debt. Of course, all of the things mentioned in the passage are nonessential, luxury items. However, it is unlikely Rosamond will see it that way because she sees wealth and social status as so important.
Lydgate thinks about Laure and wonders if Rosamond would ever kill him. He begins by saying to Rosamond that she has probably noticed his lack of money. He explains that someone is going to come and take an inventory of their furniture as security, and Rosamond is horrified. She says she will ask Mr. Vincy for money, but Lydgate replies that “it is too late for that.” Rosamond suggests they leave Middlemarch and go to London or Durham, but Lydgate refuses. He says that Mr. Dover will buy back some of their silverware and Rosamond’s jewelry.
Lydgate’s thoughts about Laure suggest that on some level, he is fundamentally frightened of women. Whether this fear already existed or was created by his infatuation with Laure is unclear. Either way, it has made it difficult for him to have a normal relationship with Rosamond; despite his efforts to be responsible, he will ultimately do anything to appease her.
Furious, Rosamond leaves the room and returns with her jewelry box. She says Lydgate can return whatever he wants and that she will go to her parents’ house the next day, saying she will be back by evening. He urges that it is important that they handle the inventory so the servants don’t know anything about their financial problems, and Rosamond reluctantly agrees to stay at home. Lydgate says he won’t return any of her jewelry, only pieces of silverware. Lydgate attempts to comfort her and gives her a kiss. He feels an inescapable sense of doom about the future.
This passage proves that Lydgate is paralyzed by his fear of Rosamond and thus cannot take the action that is necessary to get them out of debt. Rosamond herself displays expert knowledge of how to manipulate Lydgate through passive aggressive behavior. She makes a show of self-sacrificially giving in to his demands, when in fact she knows that this will actually make him give up those demands.