Hunting just like the gentle jousting in Ivanhoe; Sir George and Lord Rufford; Letters as Actors; Larry Twentyman and The Hunt; Arabella a good wife for Rufford?; Cruelty to and Cruel Women in Trollope; Mrs Masters and Reginal Morton; Mary Masters and Arabella a Study in Contrasts; Why is Larry Twentyman not a Gentleman?

To Trollope-l

Re: Hunting just like the gentle jousting in Ivanhoe

All this while we have been ignoring hunting as such. Lord Rufford's description of a typical hunt (which he looks at as commonplace) is just such a passage as Scott's in Ivanhoe about that noble "gentle" sport of jousting:

We had such a day yesterday, -- an hour and ten minutes all in the open, and then a kill just as the poor fellow was trying to make a drain under the high road. There were only five of us up. Surbiton broke his horse's back at a bank, and young De Canute came down on to a road and smashed his collar bone. There or four of the hounds were so done that they couldn't be got home. I was riding Black Harry, and he won't be out again for a fortnight. It was the best thing I've seen these two years. We never have it quite like that with the U.R.U. (American Senator, ed JHalperin, Ch 31, pp. 212- 13)

Trollope recognizes the pain and sordid misery of this. It's plain even to Rufford. Nonetheless, Trollope was apparently for hunting, himself revelled in it, himself landed on his head (but did not die, at least not immediately like Caneback).

What could he have thought of that animal man? He's alive to the presence of the desperate agricultural worker making a drain while these men are destroying horses, themselves, in pursuit indeed of the unspeakable.

Sometimes I cannot fathom Trollope beyond seeing him as a Swift who could look calmly on human life and enjoy it while seeing it in all its absurd cruel phases. He writes comic novels out of a Swiftian understanding and lived his life that way too. The vent was the writing. If only he had not uphead the rich and powerful and patriarchal establishment.


Subject: [trollope-l] Trol: The AS: Sir George and Lord Rufford

:From: John Mize

:I found it interesting and amusing how much contempt Sir George Penwether seems to have for his brother-in-law, Lord Rufford. He regards Lord Rufford as his wife's idiot younger brother who deserves to pay for his stupidity, but he will help the young fool out for his wife's sake. He seems to prefer Arabella to Lord Rufford, since she, at least, is no fool. Sir George can't resist teasing Lord Rufford about Rufford's imprudence and Arabella's wit. If Lord Rufford weren't family, Sir George would probably be amused by Arabella's trapping him into marriage. Lord Rufford doesn't help his own cause by wanting to tamper with his brother-in-law's letter. He is, at least, clever enough to know he needs help if he is to escape Arabella. When Arabella receives the letter, she immediately wonders who wrote it for him. She knows her man. That is more than enough reason for Lord Rufford to run away from her as fast as possible. He is not a person who should be married to anyone who understands him.

John Mize

April 27, 1999

Re: The American Senator: Chs 45-50: Letters as Actors (I)

There's a dissertation topic waiting for someone who has the stamina to read through all Trollope's novels, study the uses and qualities of all the letters, and write about Letters in Trollope's Fiction.

Although we have a number of important face-to-face encounters, letters carry some of the central matter of this week's and last week's chapters and lead or are a result of the dramatic scenes we have this week. First they are actors and carry meat much. They force other letters upon people (Arabella's two force Rufford to write). They thwart people (Sir George Penwether outwits Arabella -- note his name: pen, as in Penfold the Mouse). They overpower people (Mary Master bypasses her stepmother). They send people on errands (Lady Ushant to Reginald who visits Mrs Masters and then Mr Masters). They appeal to people's emotions and offer other options (John Morton announcing a serious illness to Arabella and inviting her to come to him).; They are vehicles by which people vent their souls (Elias Gotobed). They are in in these chapters instrument and weapons, mirrors of the heart and walls one builds round the self.

Our first letter is the masterpiece concocted by Lord Rufford's brother-in-law. Lord Rufford decides he is 'being hunted and run down [by Arabella], and, with the instinct of all animals that are hunted, he prepared himself for escape' (Oxford The American Senator ed JHalperin, Ch 45, p. 307). Indeed when we have read this letter we know why it is said Sir George is 'one of those few human beings who seem never to make a mistake' (p. 311). I think it shows a remarkable grasp of what tone cannot be easily called hypocritical as well an instinctive self- control which does not give the other part any handle. We are told Rufford wanted to make additions, suggestions, to ask the lady whether he should keep Jack for the season. Sir George knows the last thing to be mentioned is Jack: apparently such an expensive present to a lady can be taken as suggesting serious intentions, e.g., marriage (pp 326-27). Sir George had admired Arabella's compositions; it would seem he might have been the better match for her.

Our second is Arabella's counterthrust. She knows it will have feeble powers, but her cousin would not act, and the querulous tone of her father's shows us he has no ground from which to force the man to marry his daugther (pp. 339-41). We might say her and her father's letter have the effect of icing on the cake, since they follow hard upon the subtle scene in which Arabella fails to persuade her cousin, Mistletoe (what a name) to act for her and the scene between her and her mother. The long interior monologue of her thoughts is remarkable: she loaned her lips out, she dislikes most people; her problem is she must live. This melancholy way of looking at it almost defeats her, but she swerves round (like the good fox or hound she is) and decides she will 'not yet abandon the hunt' (p. 339). I doubt that Lady Augustus is ten times worse than Arabella. So what if you feel bad that you doing wrong; if you do wrong, you have done it. Maybe being aware you are wrong makes it all the worse.

It is Mary and Lady Ushant's two letters (last week's chapter) that bring Reginald into the presence first of Mrs Master and then Mr Masters. Again two splendid strong scenes of contrast. The stepmother may rationalise her motives as concern for Mary; she is actuated by envy, jealousy, rage her power over Mary is thwarted. Of course it is Mr Masters who allowed the letter to go forward, and Mr Masters who will say Yes to Reginald. And it is Reginald who ignores Lady Ushant's hesitation. In Mr Masters we see the worm turn. This reminds me of Dorothy Stanbury suddenly refusing to be bullied and going out for what she wants precisely because her Aunt Jemima is unfairly bullying her out of a desire to make her submit. Mrs Masters wants to go further: she longs somehow to pull Mary down. She wants even more to get back at her husband for not making enough money for her. I think that it is which makes me dislike her. She thinks she has the right to demand the man make oodles of money for her, and holds it against him that he doesn't. She can twist the knife into him by continually harping or hinting about his small earnings. This motive is certainly still with us and today might lead directly to divorce not merely a life of acrimonious quarrels and having to live with someone despising you (Mrs Masters despises Mr).

There is a hard realism in Trollope's suggesting that Reginald continues to be jealous of Mary and distrustful and at the same time himself unaware that it is important for her to marry someone.

The Senator's Second Letter is in next week's installment so suffice just to say it brilliantly brings out explicitly what Elias Gotobed has had to confront all along: no one gives a hoot for principle; everything is seen by everyone though the personal lens of their own self-interest; everything is read as the result or mirror of personalities and any assertion that there is something here which you care about beyond your appetite or ego is disbelieved.

I will break this post up into two as it is getting a bit too long.


Re: The American Senator, Chs 45-50: Larry Twentyman and The Hunt (II)

Even Larry has his qualified moment of triumph as the result of a letter. The irony here is that what Larry cares so much about -- an invitation to shoot and then to dine together is by Lord Rufford scribbled out (there is no other word) 'with a pencil, on the back of an old letter' (Oxford The American Senator, ed JHalperin, p. 310). How wonderful it is when the least crumb from your table is a pearl to those who normally don't get to sit down at that table with you.

An important theme in the Larry Twentyman story derives from his 'foible to be esteemed a gentleman, and his poor ambition to be allowed to live among men of higher social standing than himself' (p. 328). It is part of his failure to win Mary: she is attracted to a man who is more the gentleman. Larry is not quite the thing apparently, though it is to be noted he owns his own land and is as well educated (maybe better) than Rufford and as well mannered too. His story takes us into that area of Trollope's art where we are made alert to forms of address. The Botseys were always invited and addressed Larry by his first name, yet we are told that 'Larry looked on Fred as in no way better than himself' (p. 329). Somehow others don't agree though quite why I don't see. Larry's triumph is not unalloyed because at its end the landlord is still calling him by his Christian name (p. 333). Among the things that save this scene for me is the narrator's comment that Larry's is a 'poor ambition.' So it is.

Amanda Vickery's study of the lesser gentry in The Gentleman's Daughter relates directly on why Larry Twentyman is so miserable so often. Ms Vickery argues that all the people who belonged to the lesser gentry mingled intimately with one another, and that there was great mobility and flexibility between those just on the fringe of 'gentility' (an income of 100 a year, so she means fringe) to men and women with control or access to wealth on the level of Reginald Morton through land, trade, manufacturing or one of the professions (e.g., attorney) or acceptable positions bought for gentleman or younger sons in the establishment (e.g., army, church). She also argues that the outer reaches of the lesser gentry included people like Lord Rufford and would have us think Rufford intemingled without much barrier with the Larry Twentymans of the world. One way she proves this is to show outward visits, calls; another is marriage: the daughter or son of a very wealthy merchant or tradesman or even farmer could marry the daughter or son of a similarly wealthy (or much poorer -- do note that) member of the landowning class. However, I think she loses the nuances of the thing which Trollope shows so clearly in Larry Twentyman. Larry hits a glass wall wherever he goes.

Another interesting aspect of this chapter is 'spill over':" Trollope dramatizes a scene which makes visible his insight into human relationship or nature which is focused on in another plot is seen in this one. The point of the Elias Gotobed story is how obtuse, narrow, and stubborn are most people; how they will lie consciously and unconsciously about what happened so as to serve their own self- interest and vanity, and how there is no way to break what to Gotobed feels like a conspiracy of liars and people who just don't care about anything but what hits them personally and then only to make sure they are justified, hold firm to what they have, flatter others and generally do whatever is necessary to keep what they have including a proud self-image. How many times I have gone somewhere and seen people not having a good time, and then listened to them talk about what a good time they are having. It comes down to such small irritating lies. So after the hunt is over and a failure, no one admits this for a moment, or, if it is implicit, what they say is, 'the 'thing' had been so slow that it had not been worth riding to; -- a conviction not uncommon with gentlemen when they have missed a run' (p. 331).

As everyone knows, and Elias Gotobed refuses to recognise, there's no use arguing with people determined to pretend to something, be it that that things are wonderful the way they are, or they are content with them anyway, or the next best thing after that, the assertion that contentment is not worth it. Why people need to pretty things up even down to this level is a grave question about the nature of our actual existences I will not attempt to plumb here.

Glomax will take over the role Caneback had earlier in the book? We may be allowed to hope he doesn't get it in the head too.

Ellen Moody

: Arabella a good wife for Rufford?

I agree, Ellen, there is something sleazy about Arabella's comments. Yet, I think those comments might have been sincere. She definitely prefers Lord Rufford to the dull, respectable Morton. She accepts his vices -- as long as the upper-class lifestyle & all its trappings accompany those vices. What kind of wife would she be? A remote one, to be sure, but accommodating as long as she gets luxury and status. I think she'd be happy for him to pursue his vices as long as she could pursue her own without him looking over her shoulder. At least, that's how I see her. I think at some level they both recognize they are attracted to those who offer little chance for true intimacy. In other words, I think in the long run they would be quite comfortable with each other.

Janice Durante

Re: The American Senator: Cruelty to and Cruel Women in Trollope

In response to Janice,

IN truth I see much cruelty towards women in Trollope. He also half-revels in presenting cruel women. Often these cruel women are rationalized by him as driven to cruelty because of the way the world operates. But he does often show women inflicting the worst harm on other women and men standing back wishing these women wouldn't. He does not connect the power structure which supports the man and makes him finally boss is controlled by and for men, and that these women are dupes.

He is also callous in his way to Arabella. By making her so contemptuous, so without integrity, so manipulative and so suppliant to Rufford (at least before marriage) he leads us to cast aside our empathy. Arabella becomes the problem; she is paralleled to Goarly, to the American senator; someone who is the pariah and must be ejected or deserves the third-class whatever.

It's a masculinist and yes John Mize is right utterly conservative book. Conservatism as a political philosophy is complacent before injustice and cruelty to the powerless. Burke's tears for Marie Antoinette are crocodile's tears.


Subject: [trollope-l] The American Senator, Chs 45-50: Larry Twentyman & The Hunt (II)

From: "RJ Keefe"

Ellen Moody's posting about Larry Twentyman's aspirations reminds me of Robert Martin in 'Emma.' They would seem to be much the same sort of man, and arguing about how Robert's pursuit of Harriet crosses more or fewer 'lines' than Larry's of Mary would probably not get anyone anywhere; the salient difference is that Austen sees nothing wrong with Robert's hopes, and even puts some very commending lines in Mr Knightley's mouth. One would have to ask, then, what difference there is between Harriet and Mary. Too much, I think, for useful discussion.

Mary's claim to rank seems based not so much on her father's profession as on her mother's association with Bragton. This is never explored - as indeed most pedigrees at the upper-middle level don't bear much scrutiny. Mary certainly doesn't live like a lady. Not only is the house in which she lives tinged by her stepmother's vulgarity, but, more important, she will not bring any money with her when she marries. It's very hard for Americans to see why she refuses Larry without also judging her 'stuck-up.' Almost everything her stepmother says in complaint is literally true (although I wonder what 'slut' can possibly mean to her!). Just as some families - like the Twentymans - are on their way up, others, like the Masters, are going in the other direction, and the current Mrs Masters's fervent hope is to stem the decline of which, ironically, she's the living symbol.

Reginald Morton has got to be the most perplexing leading man in all of Trollope's romances.

RJ Keefe

Re: Mrs Masters & Reginald Morton

Mrs. Masters thinks Mary won't marry Larry, because he's not a gentleman. I don't think Trollope thinks that is why Mary won't marry him. She simply doesn't love him. Trollope does suggest that her family would eventually persuade her to marry Larry if she wasn't in love with someone else. Almost everyone in the novel assumes that no woman will turn down a passably decent man, unless she has the expectation to get someone better. A woman without a man must be looking for one. Many men still assume that a woman won't leave her house alone unless she is cruising for a guy. I remember meeting two women friends in a bar about 20 years ago. I was a little late and when I arrived, one of the women said something like "Good, now that you're here, the guys here will leave us alone. 'Mary' wanted to go outside, but I said, 'Why should we go outside and feel like hookers when we can stay in here and feel like hookers?'"

I don't find Reginald Morton perplexing at all. He's a quiet, slightly insecure, bookish nerd. He finds it hard to see what Mary would see in an old man like him. Sounds reasonable to me. Maybe it just takes one to know one.

John Mize

Mary Masters and Arabella a Study in Contrasts

I agree. I thought one of the things Trollope brought out very clearly in the novel was the way a woman *must* marry and it's assumed that love on her part isn't necessary. Arabella of course accepts this entirely and doesn't seem capable of feeling love or recognising it if she does feel it. Mary is contrasted with her at every level. She has a different conception of marriage. Trollope's very careful to show us that she has long friendship and affection for Larry, but these are not sufficient for marriage - sexual attraction is not spelled out but she has a physical as well as emotional response to Reginald. It might be possible to read the text as suggesting that part of Mary's lack of response to Larry is to do with his not-quite-gentleman status, or, more, the fact that dining with Lord Rufford is something he hankers after. I'm not sure though. It could also be that Trollope is showing that love can't be willed into existence - superficially Larry might appear the more attractive, full of energy and purpose, but Mary is attracted to Reginald's softer nature. I don't think this makes her a snob.

Mary's'ladylikeness' I thought was grounded largely on the time she has spent with a lady. Her stepmother's apprehensions that this has rendered her too good for her realistic lot in life are of course confounded in the end, and of course are partly jealousy and a wish for control, but they have a truth in them. I like the way Trollope does so many things at once here, with Mrs Masters shadowing Arabella's mother as well.


From Gene Stratton

Re: Why is Larry Twentyman not a Gentleman?

I think the main question on Mary is, does she have the right to reject a most eligible suitor, Larry, who most likely would treat her well for her entire life, just because she doesn't love him? And I think this question could only arise in a time and place where land and inherited money are far more important (on the whole) than salaries or wages. However, that statement includes a lot of times and places, for only the 20th century has been notable for the emphasis on salaries over inheritance as the main means of support for most people, and then not in all places.

Prior to the 20th century, it was a cruel fact of life (certainly not unique to Victorian England) that land and inheritance were the distinguishing factor between living well and living poorly. An exception could be made for some merchants, but I don't think that Mary would have been any happier with a merchant than with Larry. Certainly there was no just right merchant on the horizon for her.

Let me digress a moment. In Greece I took supplemental Greek lessons from a attractive 21-year-old-girl who told me that her father could only afford to give her a university education or a dowry, and she took the education. Without the dowry her chances for a good marriage were slightly above nil. She wanted very much to marry, and she said she had decided that she would be willing to marry a young handsome man who had little or no money, and starve with him if necessary, if she could only find one who would have her without a dowry. Or she would marry someone she didn't love if not too old if he only had a house and a decent income, but again without the dowry she did not have much chance. Her most realistic chance was to marry a 60-year-old man who owned a grocery store and was considered somewhat well off. He had told her family that he wanted to marry her, and she would probably have to accept. Incidentally, I never found out what eventually happened. But it illustrates that even today in some parts of the world a young girl's chances for a good marriage may be limited, and she must make difficult choices. (It's not a coincidence that my experience above resembles one of the tales from Fiddler on the Roof, where one of Tevye's daughters was being pressured to marry an elderly butcher, because this has been a very common story all over the world.)

Still, I think the answer for Mary is yes, she has the right to reject Larry, if she is reasonably aware of the the probable consequences. I think she is aware. At best, someone she can truly love and who also has money, might come along, such as possibly Reginald. At worse, she would go through life unmarried and dependent on others, and the life of a dependent at any time can be a harsh one. In real life the latter possibility was far more likely than the former.

The unanswered, almost unanswerable, question is, why cannot Larry be considered a gentleman? He has the money, and it comes from the most prestigious source, land, and he has the education, and he hobnobs with right (hunting) crowd. He has the desire. What does he lack? Mainly birth. In my opinion this shows that being considered a gentleman (as was instinctively known to Trollope) depended mainly on the right birth. People were known to get over the birth hurtle, but they usually had to be outstanding in some feature to do so. Even the merchant who amassed a fortune and married the daughter of the nobility found it hard to be considered a real gentleman, although his children could do so. Some other rich merchant might for political reasons be ennobled by the Queen and thus become a gentleman, but this was a rare exception and followed from the maxim that all honor in England flowed from the Crown. I have no doubt that if Larry married Mary, their children would have been gentle-children. But Larry himself had the wrong birth and lacked any other extraordinary means to entitle him to gentrification.

For all that has been said about the nebulous quality of being a gentleman, birth was far more important than manners. It took a lot of badness for a born gentleman to be declassed, but the most well-mannered person in all England had a tough row to hoe if he aspired to be a gentleman without having been born one.

I feel sorry for Larry, but I respect Mary, like her very much, and approve of her behavior.

Gene Stratton

From: Sigmund Eisner

Gene: I feel sorry for Larry also, but the novel is not over, not on our schedule anyway. Trollope will not leave Larry in deep sorrow for the rest of his life, and he is still a young man. Also, Larry is a nice guy. Mary will find her way, Larry will find his way, and even Arabella will come to a well-deserved conclusion once the novel itself concludes. Bear with it.


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