A Conclusion, in which Little is Concluded: Lily and Johnny at Tale's End; The Lighter Side: Hopkins the Gardiner; The Barsetshire novels; Trollope's Reputation and Readership; Trollope v Balzac: Trollope and Family Stories: What Père Goriot is not; The Barsetshire Series Thus Far; Barsetshire: Linking Themes, Religion? The Landscape, Region, Recurring Characters; Trollope and Work; The Tale of Two Offices; Trollope and Today's World Work in Offices and Servants.

To Trollope-l

May 29, 2000

Re: The Small House, Chs 55-60: A Conclusion, in which Little is Concluded: Lily and Johnny at Tale's End

I love the ending of The Small House. It is one of the few endings in the Barsetshire and Palliser series or double intertwined cycle which I find fully satisfying. It does not sweep under the rug or ignore what has gone before in the way of Can You Forgive Her?; it is also like life, open-ended and disillusioned. The other Barsetshire novel whose ending I find fully satisfying is The Warden: it fulfills all that has gone before and makes the political fable complete. (It is very like the ending of An Old Man's Love whose content is erotic and personal.)

I didn't have time to write a facilitating post during the week we read the chapter in which Adolphus Crosbie marries the Lady Alexandrina (Ch 45). The desire for some ostentation without any sense that there should be some heart, some loving commitment to give rise to the vows of the couple, and the lack of money or willingness to spend anything to back up this one desire was dramatised in the hollow proceedings. For this week what counts is the moment in the coach where we see that the Lady Alexandrina has no sexual desires whatsoever. Mr Crosbie again becomes a happy man because he rids himself of his wife. It is hard to do justice to the scenes in this chapter (56), they are so true to life, so unexaggerated. How many novelists could get as much meaning and reality as such moments are truly experienced:

"'You can go with your mother if you like it', he then said.

'I think it will be best', she answered.

'Perhaps it will. At any rate you shall suit yourself'.

'And about money?'

'You had better leave me to speak to Gazebee about that'.

'Very well. Will you have some tea?' And then the whole thing was finished" (Everyman The Small House, ed DSkilton, p. 534).

We don't bring things out the way people do in plays like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. A world of inner emptiness and boredom -- ennui which earlier became a subject of debate between RJ and me -- has been explored. Also of heartlessness, perversion of natural feelings.

There is also something we are supposed to get which, unlike Balzac's text, Trollope must only imply. Had Crosbie and the Lady Alexandrina at least had a sexually satisfying life together offstage, the marriage might have developed into something pleasurable, something with real emotion, and into something with goals for each. I take all the references to Crosbie in his dressing-room apart from Alexandrina and to her lack of a pregnancy to refer to this.

He gets off easy -- as we would say. This is such a modern book, so 21st century. "The Countess had to a log time refused to let Lady Alexandrina go with her on so small a pittance as four hundred and fifty; -- and then were not the insurances to be maintained?" So he recommences his older comfortable social life, free of responsibility, a bachelor able to mingle as he pleases, not on six hundred a year, but five. As ever in this book, our narrator has it right: "But I think he would have consented to accept his liberty with three hundred a year, -- so great to him was the relief" (p. 535).

Poor Cradell does not do as well. I see an analogy in contrasts set up between Cradell and Crosbie, and it is conscious with Trollope. Consider the phrase: "And then, above and almost worse than all the rest, to find himself saddled with the Lupexes in the beginning of his career! Poor Cradell indeed!" (Ch 59, p. 554). The comic and satiric plot reinforces the poignant and serious or melancholy and grave one. When Miss Sally Spruce consents to have her bags taken back to her bedroom, for the truth is she can nowhere find as comfortable a place, one she will be taken better care of, one with people who know and minister to her needs as she does to theirs -- she is a pattern of Mrs Dale and her daughters. They too consent to stay for similar reasons.

What other Victorian novelists comes near this depiction of the breakup or startup of marriages as they are conducted in this world? Perhaps Thackeray in his Vanity Fair. I know of marriages begun out of spite (where the person cut off her nose in the proverbial way only to end in a predictable divorce), helplessness as you are pulled in, and people meaning to move but never doing it because it is against every interest and good feeling of their hearts, though irritation and some irritable desire after something less entrapping and compromising keeps them hankering after it.

Trollope ends his novel on how Lady Alexandrina is "to be seen in the one-horse carriage with her mother at Baden-Baden" (Ch 60, p. 571). A quiet ending which images realistically the far from quiet, the intensely emotional "shivering" of her and Crosbie's "barque" as it first set out, the desperate affairs of the Ropers, Lupexes, and poor Miss Spruce. What is it Austen says about maiden ladies? They are so prone to be poorish, despised, used. We might add dependent upon strangers (if they've got the cash).

I am drawn to the ending which comes just before: the smash-up of Lily and Johnny Eames. I put myself firmly in the camp of those who understand why Lily cannot accept Johnny now and why she may not be able to accept him later. Later will happen in our next book, The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire. For now she is too broken. This again depends upon hints about sex and an attitude towards sexual experience which some people today might find hard to share. It is caught up in Lily's speech which Mrs Dale finds unanswerable:

"'If you really understood my feelings, my doing as you propose would make you very unhappy. I should commit a great sin, -- the sin against which women should be more guarded than against any other. In my heart I am married to that other man. I gave myself to him, and loved him, and rejoiced in my love. When he kissed me I kissed him again, and I longed for his kisses. I seemed to live only that he might caress me. All that time I never felt myself to be wrong, -- because he was all in all to me. I was his own ... I cannot be the girl he was before he came here. There are things that will not have themselves buried and put out of sight, as though they never had been. I am as you are, mamma, -- widowed'" (ch 57, p. 541)

Whether we agree with Sig and others who argued (earlier in our read) that Lily lost her virginity altogether, it's clear Lily has been sexually awakened by Crosbie, sexually aroused, and given that which she cannot forget having given. We are also given hint after hint that Lily is not sexually attracted by John. He is to her a boy. Trollope sees sex as the firm basis of love. Marriage without sexual attraction is a form of bleak compromise in all his books.

For those who don't share this sacralization of sex, I offer an analogy: if you are betrayed emotionally, deeply wounded, and look out on the world humiliated and not wanting to participate any more because there's nothing out there worth it, but rather see yourself as freer, more independent, less likely to be coopted into something in which you will betray others, you might make a decision such as Lily's and call it integrity. I also see her as such another as Mr Harding and Lady Mason as I wrote early in the read.

There are quietly powerful scenes of Lily to reinforce this reading that she did the right thing. For example,

"And she walked on eagerly, hardly remembering where she was, thinking over it all, as she did daily; remembering every little thought and word of those few eventful months in which she had learned to regard Crosbie as her husband and master. She had declared that she had conquered her unhappiness; but there were moments in which she was almost wild with misery. 'Tell me to forget him!' she said. 'It is the one thing which will never be forgotten'" (Ch 57, p. 543).

All the other characters agree that Johnny was precipitate: Lady Julia teaches the Earl de Guest to entertain this idea; Mrs Dale and Bell believe it. Of course (cynic that I am) in this maneuver Trollope leaves room for another book with these two characters as central to one of its plots. But the deeper meaning here is the irretrievability of some human decision; the sense that some things we do count, have consequences and are real even if they are not accompanied by public reinforcements or codes which justify them. This theme of irretrievability works its way throughout this book.

Trollope's later famous irritating words about Lily as a prig should be understood as a response to readers who had misread her decision not to marry him as emboding some sentimental notion of sexual constancy and purity. Which is one of those curious slight distortions readers often make that overturn the central meaning of a text.

The upbeat quality of the ending comes from the gallantry with which everyone endures the ending. The Earl de Guest gets to articulate the idea: it is the moral inference of the fable in which the boy is gnawed under his frock by the wolf and never shows it (Ch 58, pp. 549-50). It's a hard demand, backed up by an unkind or "ill-natured word". But it's one which protects people from others and does keep them going. Control the surface and you shape if not change the depths (that's my way of putting this idea). So not only does Johnny eat his dinner and drink his brandy and smoke his cigar with whatever he can muster of cheer, which becomes cheer in a way (Ch 58, pp. 551-52), but so does Lily play her part as gay bridesmaid at Bell's wedding"

"though she was a man whose right arm had been taken from him in the battle, still the world had not gone with that right arm. The bullet which had maimed her sorely had not touched her life, and she scorned to go about the world complaining either by word or look of the injury she had received" (Ch 60, p. 570).

Among the beauties of this ending is a lesson in humility: how hard it is for people to admit to being wrong, to having done wrong, publicly to change their minds. We see the Dales all do it. This harks back to the first instalment (Ch 1) where we are told the outstanding characteristic of this clan is pride and stubbornness. Maybe we would all be a little happier if we could say to one another as Squire Dale says to his sister-in-law: "'But my heart has ever been kinder than my words'" (Ch 58, p. 540). Or realise this is so without the person admitting this to us. This too is upbeat or inspiriting in the sense that it comes home to us if we can get ourselves to read the text personally, as keenly alive today for each of us still.

I have omitted the riveting and memorable introduction of Lady Glencora McCluskie who was forced to return Burgo's plain gold ring and give herself to Plantagenet Palliser. In context she is forced to do what Lily refuses to do, forced to betray a sexual bond to marry another to satisfy the world and her reputation. In the next book she says she was driven like a beast to breed heirs. This is the seedling upon which Trollope builds the oaks of the Pallisers with. Even their appearances are kept up in the next book: a tall plain male presence, one with dignity; a small, petite blonde. As for Griselda's manipulation of her mother's letter to get herself off the hook and the bejewelled necklace that is her reward, what I am to say? At least Crosbie and Lady Alexandrina understood they ought to have some feelings for one another. Let us give them that.

I will not be playing the devil's advocate about this novel as I attempted to do a couple of times with Dr Thorne and Framley Parsonage. I really see its faults (classism, sexism) as more than outweighed by its insights and truthfulness to its originating sombre perceptions. Perhaps someone else would like to argue with Mr Trollope, say what he says is probable is only what we see most of the time in public. Or argue against some conception in the book. Or protest whatever you like. Or read this ending differently than I have done.

Ellen Moody

Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 19:34:56 -0700 (PDT)
 To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] SHA: The Lighter Side: Hopkins the Gardiner

Ellen has summed up the storylines. I'd like to comment on who is perhaps my favorite minor character in the entire novel--Hopkins the gardner.

Hopkins, the faithful family retainer, that is if a gardner can be called a "retainer." After 30 or 40 years service he qualifies in my mind.

I remember Mrs. Bagget from An Old Man's Love. She spoke her mind and spoke it plainly, Hopkins is the same, especially to Lily, his favorite.

And of course Hopkins took the credit for making Mrs. Dale and Lily see the light about remaining in the Small House.

When the quarrel broke out over the manure and Hopkins resigned he couldn't bring himself to leave all his plants. He even told the Squire that he would stay and tend the grapes until the Squire could make other arrangements. He complained to Lily that they were doing the "sparagus" all wrong.

When Lily went to her uncle to intercede in Hopkins' behalf over the manure quarrel I loved it when the Squire said "All the misfortunes in the world wouldn't stop that man's conceit." He was a favorite with the Squire too.


From: "Wayne Gisslen"
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 21:50:23 -0500
To: trollope-l@egroups.com Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House, Chs 55-60: A Conclusion

Ellen's long and wonderful post on the ending of The Small House has given us a lot to ponder. Understanding Lily seems to be a perennial, and perennially popular, problem with Trollope's readers, and I wonder if I understand her myself. I wonder if our reaction depends on whether we are women or men. Thinking back on posts from other members, I'm not sure I detected a pattern, but then I haven't saved them all so am unable to check.

Trying to understand Lily's experience, all of us must deal with the difficulty of living in a different world with different norms and mores, and half of us must deal with the difficulty of being men. I find that I agree with Ellen, however, and feel that Lily's stance is psychologically right and convincing, and it has to do with Johnny as well as with Crosbie. Trollope convinces me that she is simply not in love with Johnny, much as she likes him as a friend. I wonder if she would have married him if she had never met Crosbie, either because she wouldn't have questioned the arrangement (it might have seemed inevitable) or because family and social pressures moved her to it. And if she had married him, would it have been a soul-satisfying marriage. At any rate, it is refreshing, and somewhat unusual for a Victorian novel, not to find her neatly and automatically paired up with the obvious warm body for a conventionally happy ending.

Wayne Gisslen

Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 17:58:07 -0700 (PDT)
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House, Chs 55-60: A Conclusion

Wayne wrote:

"Trollope convinces me that she is simply not in love with Johnny, much as she likes him as a friend. I wonder if she would have married him if she had never met Crosbie, either because she wouldn't have questioned the arrangement (it might have seemed inevitable) or because family and social pressures moved her to it."

And there is another reason that Lily might have married Johnny had she not met Crosbie. It sort of ties in with Wayne's reason that she wouldn't have questioned the arrangement. Lily wouldn't have known passion and therefore she would not have known what to expect and would not have known what she was missing.

I can't think of any marriages that Lily has held up to her as a model. Her mother was a widow early on. Johnny's mother was a widow. Her Uncle Dale never married and there was apparently no contact with her mother's family.


Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 23:18:18 -0000
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope reading

I have read most of Trollope's novels and short stories, but not any of his non-fiction books. The novels I haven't read are some of the ones that were discussed on this list before my time (Dr. W's School and An Eye for an Eye.) One of the things that slows me down is that I love to reread Trollope's novels. I have read Ayala's Angel five times, and most of the others two or three times.

One of the things that has struck me during this Barsetshire marathon is how "constant" Trollope is. I would like to say that I can see Trollope "develop" as we go along, but I really don't. The only big change I see is between The Warden and the rest of the series. Trollope's consistency of tone (for lack of a better word) is illusory, though. Books such as The Fixed Period, and An Old Man's Love and Cousin Henry are not "marmalade in the hidden-in-the-basket" style Trollope. Nor yet are they Palliser-esque. It is a conundrum to me because while Trollope has a recognizable voice, he has more range than one would suppose. My biggest question right now is what was going on in Trollope's mind and in his world at the time he finished SHA? What intervened before he started The Last Chronicle of Barset? Surely events in his family and in the world at large affected him. I am always startled to read, in the introductions of some of his novels, that Trollope started writing a novel a day after finishing a travel book. How could he switch gears so quickly? I get the sense in the Barsetshire novels that Trollope was dealing with a world that was intensely real to him - a world where he wandered quite frequently. He *lived* in Barsetshire with those people. Yes! I call them people and not characters! Sorry for the rambling. It's good to be back.

Catherine Crean

Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 20:09:28 -0000
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] The Barsetshire novels

I have reconsidered my post about the "sameness" that Trollope appears to show in the Barsetshire novels we have read to date. In thinking about Lily and her plight, I realize I have overlooked Trollope's bravery in creating such a character. Conventional and popular wisdom would dictate a happy ending, with the marriage of Lily and Johnny Eames. Trollope seems almost stubborn about denying us the conventional ending. This is the end of the "marmalade in the basket." Reconsidering the Barsetshire series, I do see change In Trollope's voice. He is certainly surer of himself - he has found hi stride. He is fully inhabiting the world he created. Trollope is at home in his world, and more important, he is at home with the reader. I see the relationship Trollope had with the reader changing a great deal. Trollope is so secure that he can be true to his idea of Lily Dale. I didn't understand, or even notice Trollope's development in the Barsetshire series until I recently finished hearing David Case read The Prime Minister. At the end of this novel, there is a scene between Madam Max and the Duchess of Omnium, Glencora Palliser. I felt so sad listening to this scene because I knew that at the very start of the next book in the series (The Duke's Children) Trollope announces that Lady Glencora has died. I still remember how upsetting this was the first time. Yet Trollope was being true to his artistic vision. My feelings about Glencora Palliser caused me to reexamine the progress in the Barsetshire Chronicles. There is a good deal here to think about, but the change in Trollope's relationship with his readers over time is of great interest to me. At the very end of the line, in An Old Man's Love for example, Trollope is engaging his reader in yet another form of narrative. To simplify, Trollope is writing a type of morality tale. Trollope is true to his own instincts even when he decides to go against the grain. Yet Trollope never condescends. His balancing act is quite something to see, and I look forward to reading the novel many say is Trollope's masterpiece - - The Last Chronicle of Barset_.

Catherine Crean

Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 19:08:26 -0700 (PDT)
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's Reputation and Readership

Rory wrote:

"I think that the received picture of the Barsetshires as a series involving clergymen suggests to people that they are "religious" and hence they shy away from reading them for fear of being involved in "boring" religious expositions."

Rory, I think you are exactly right. It kept me away--I didn't even watch the mini-series when it was shown in the U.S. And boy am I sorry now!


To Trollope-l

May 31, 2000

Re: Trollope v Balzac: Trollope and Family Stories: What Père Goriot is not

I just read Dagny's posting on the sturdy presence of the ornery but loyal and kind Hopkins the gardener in The Small House, a man who will not yield an inch when it comes to what he cares about intensely (even if it is a trivial thing when looked at from large perspectives) and whose service is all the more prized because he is a truth-teller, and anything but a politician. After that her posting on "Trompe-la-Morte" in Père Goriot about which she wrote:

"I like the old translation of Cheat-Death better, especially in the context of this story. As when Poiret hears this nickname he says: "Dear me, he is very lucky if he deserves that nickname" and Gondureau answers: "They call him so because he has been so lucky as not to lose his life in the very risky businesses that he has carried through."

I have been thinking that one reason some people prefer Trollope to Balzac is not simply the focus on kinder emotions of the heart within people. Hopkins's story is an analogy to what we see in the Dales and Eames stories. After all Adolphus and Lady Alexandrina has stood firm for some central spirit in themselves which they want some fulfillment for; they may not understand it very well, but it's there and it cries out for some sustenance. The Dales have stood firm and been loyal and shown integrity too, and have been rewarded, albeit grudgingly by a Squire who admits to himself he is lonely and the heart's needs for companionship and affection trump everything else, pride, money, desire to aggrandize land. These are family stories, stories about people in their private relationships. Yes we see them in the outer social world interacting with people outside the family and friend network to some extent, but all the deep and long scenes keep up within private familial life among people related to one another by the deepest of blood ties and time. Time is a strong binding force.

The only place we go outside this ambit is the Ropers' Boarding House. Is this not where Balzac begins? And then Trollope treats the boarding house in isolation and the people therein as they appear to one another in a private and therefore not exploitative light. Their emotions are torn insofar as the outer world impinges on them.

Not Balzac. He shows us the world outside the family, outside the private sphere. We might make an analogy with a play that shows us the business world, how people behave to one another in cutthroat organizations, where it is dog-eat--dog, where there is little identication of interests. And he does it through a perspective which highly sophisticated and cynical, a kind of disillusioned point of view of motives which is generally shunned in families (denied when brought up or qualified by the assertions of how we all love another, at any rate need one another). This makes Balzac harder to read for many people. They go to work and don't see what is happening beyond what is said to be people's motives. It is a fearful slippery way of looking at the world: as a bunch of strangers out to get from one another what they can. Who cares what happens to the Chinaman millions of miles away is a nice way of saying, Who care what happens to the man sitting in that desk next to me? Let me one-up him. The hard world outside the home from a strikingly amoral point of view is what Balzac dramatizes. And he does it allegorically, suggestively. He must do this because people don't admit such motives to themselves. I never thought of this but it suddenly strikes me that this level of motiviation is the equivalent of the dream nighttime world of the mind which also escapes the world's cant and pretenses of morality. So here do we see where Balzac holds hands with Proust. We also see why Balzac is less appealing, less universally applicable to reader's understood experiences.

As we shall see (I guess), Trollope's strength is not in a depiction of the amoral world of political maneuvring outside the private and familial. He is intensely interested in politics, but, curiously, as something of an idealist, from an idealistic point of view. His characters -- the good and sympathetic ones -- often really care about issues; they will actually allow some principle to motivate their actions. And of course fall from power because of it. And we are asked to mourn, to feel hard irony then. Balzac gives us a Vautrin response to ponder.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

June 5, 2000

Re: The Barsetshire Series Thus Far

I agree with those who have said there is a sameness in Trollope's books. He has left us none of his juvenilia. With Shakespeare we have his Henry VI plays, Austen's Juvenilia are hilarious but disjunctive, thin, out of control; Dryden has a poem to one Hastings his most fervent admirers wish had been lost. Trollope tells us he kept a diary; his story "The Panjandrum' suggests he was writing stories well before he produced his first novel; we know he had a naively ambitious plan to produce a gigantic work of criticism on all literature. None of this survived except in scraps or as tales for him to talk about later on.

His first published book, The Macdermots of Ballycloran appeared when he was 32, and a fully mature man. When we read it in a group read, people were surprised to see how good it was, how well sustained. Trollope does vary his approach; later books are more psychological, but there is no shift in quality rather a development in specific directions.

The books are also equally a mixture of dark and light throughout his career.

Still there is change, and some of the variation comes as a response to the mood and specific events occuring during the time he was writing as well as a specific book's subject matter and setting.

The Barsetshire itself shows great variety, and reading them in a row suggests it was only later, say by the time of Framley Parsonage, that Trollope understood he had written himself into a cycle of books. The Warden is a political fable with a tragic or poignant pattern; Barchester Towers is high-spirited burlesque comedy with a serious underlying religious theme; Dr Thorne shifts to detailed realism and an exploration of class. This last one, The Small House has some serious tragic themes about the nature of life and our choices; Trollope is serious about his concern with how individuals relate to and function in their society, meaning one another. It seems more mature than the others since it is so much more complicated. While I don't deny the richness, it is an aesthetic element we are talking of here, one of complication, parallels and antithesis. The Small House is also frank about sex and why women are sexually attracted to the Burgo Fitzgerald type. All this and politics are at the center of the Palliser, the series which came next. Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

June 10, 2000

Re: Barsetshire: Linking Themes, Religion? The Landscape, Region, Recurring Characters

Not only is religion associated with the Barsetshire books by people who may not have read them, it has been written about as a unifying theme by people who have studied the books carefully. Sometimes too the motif works to unify the books. Hugh L Hennedy's thesis that religious themes unifies the Barsetshire books (Unity in Barsetshire [The Hague: Mouton, 1971]) is strained when it comes to the chapters on Dr Thorne and The Small House of Allington but it produces interesting readings of the other four novels. I think he doesn't treat the religion sufficiently politically (as church politics), but much that he says can be found in the books if you are looking for some repeating motifs.

I would say what unites them is the countryside, the region, the landscape. This landscape gives rise to a mood and a group of interlocking reappearing characters. After all it is the Barsetshire series. Trollope has a unified Irish landscape for his Irish books, a unified landscape develops in the later books (The American Senator and Ayala's Angel), and it is said he meant to write a sequel or sequels to Lady Anna which would be set in Australia. So landscape is one key to his art or way of imagining an interlocking cycle of stories.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 23:42:06 -0000
Reply-To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope and work

One of the things I enjoyed about The Small House at Allington was Trollope's portrayal of Johnny Eames at work - or I should say "at the office." Trollope seems to use every aspect of his own life as grist for his creative mill. I often recall that Trollope was a civil servant, and probably put up with his share of Mr. Butterwells in his day. ("Tact! Tact!") I loved the characters of Mr.. Kissing and Mr. Love in Chapter 66. Okay, so Trollope is playing the name game again with the feuding "Love" and "Kissing" and maybe their office antics are a bit over the top, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. The power struggles over trifles, the petty quarrelling and fault-finding are true to life. Johnny Eames is bullied by Mr. Kissing while reading a letter - Kissing is sure that Eames is reading a novel. I was thinking about Mr. Kissing and Mr. Love today when I was telling my husband about an ongoing battle at my place of work. In the middle of my detailed account of the quarrel at the office, I stopped myself. Thackeray said something along the lines of "A tempest in a slop basin is absurd." And so it is. One of the great joys of reading Trollope is he finds the little things, the pebble in the shoe, the twig under the wind screen/shield wiper, the broken parking meter - that annoy - and builds scenarios around them. We identify, and we laugh. Maybe we gain some perspective too. No other writer could create the office purgatory that Trollope does. For a man who enjoyed life so much, Trollope understood its miseries.

Catherine Crean

Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000 20:56:18 -0700 (PDT)
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope and work

As a counterpoint to Catherine's post about Johnny Eames and his office is Crosbie's office. I really don't remember much about it--aside from his wanting to lie low when he had the black eye. What I did notice was his office hours--or lack there of. If he ate breakfast and left for work around 10:00 in the morning and was generally home by around 5:30 that doesn't leave much time for working hours after travel time is taken into account. This was after his marriage. I don't recall any mention of when he left in the mornings prior to that.


Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 00:17:43 -0000
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] The Tale of Two Offices

What a great point, Dagny! I had forgotten about Crosbie and his office. If I ever read The Small House at Allington again, I will have to compare the two offices. Here is a point to consider though - both Crosbie and Eames are fearful of how their personal lives will get them in hot water in the office. Eames gets called on the carpet for his fist fight with Crosbie at the railway station, and Crosbie is humiliated by his black eye and fears to show his face at the office. If I recall correctly the police notify Eames' employer of the incident! Ellen has pointed out many times that "respectability" in Victorian times was a serious matter. Not being respectable could cost you a job, and cost you in other ways too. The degree to which this was true is, I think, almost incomprehensible to a modern reader. I also noticed the fact that business hours for both Crosbie and Eames seemed short by our standards. There was a line in one of Trollope's novels where one character remarks on having "early hours" at his office and it turns out he is referring to 9:30 AM. There used to be an expression in use in the States called "banker's hours." I forget exactly what it meant, but since most banks here used to close at 2:30 or 3:00, I guess it meant a short working day.

Catherine Crean

Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 11:18:50 +0100
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] The Tale of Two Offices

I found Catherine's post on the above interesting. I suspect that like most of the non-academics on this list, I spent all my working life in an office, and I find Trollope's references to what appears to have gone on in Eames's and Crosbie's offices fascinating. Like everyone who has commented on this, I find that the hours appear to have been incredibly short.

What I think is more interesting, is what function these offices performed. We know that Johnny was employed in what Trollope calls the Income-tax Office. This was what was almost certainly known as the Board of Inland Revenue, as it is to this day, although since only the relatively wealthy paid income tax, there were not the country-wide tax offices that we know (and love?) today. Johnny and Cradell were employed in the general office, where their job was presumably writing and transcribing correspondence, although it is not clear who generated the correspondence in the first place. Johnny later became the private secretary to Sir Raffle Buffle, who was chairman of the Income Tax Office, and therefore a Commissioner, a title which still instils fear into the heart of a humble taxpayer in the UK. Lady Julia De Guest thought that a private secretary never had anything to do, but we see that Johnny had his work cut out to write Sir Raffle's letters of excuse and apology, and to avoid having to fetch his boots.

When we come to Crosbie's office, we are told that he became the secretary at the General Committee Office. Nowhere in The Small House are we given any hint as to what this Office does. Its Board, after the departure of Sir Raffle, appears to be a refuge for second-raters, who enjoy the comforts of the Board Room, and no doubt the fees, but as far as I can see are never called upon to take any decisions. If Crosbie is engaged in preparing agendas and minutes for meetings, we are not given any opportunity to know anything about them, and it appears that the short hours that he is able to enjoy are seldom stretched by an excess of work.

I wonder if this is because Trollope never had any experience of this level of activity at the Post Office? His early years in London were spent in a general office similar to the office where Johnny and Cradell worked, and when he was moved to Ireland he was engaged in the work of the Surveyor's Department, which was practical and outdoors. On his return to England he continued in the Surveyor's Department, and was given a variety of jobs involving overseas visits arising out of his experience as a Surveyor. While he undoubtedly had close connections with members of the Post Office Board, including his brother-in-law John Tllley, he does not appear to have been directly involved in the work of the Board, and probably thought of them as somewhat remote characters, of whose precise functions he was not aware.


Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 19:38:57 -0400
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope and work

There's an article about government offices in Tucker, Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture, by Robert Newsom. In it he says....

"the atmosphere in most offices was nearly club-like, though the quality of that atmosphere might range from the almost magnificent, at the Treasury, to the relatively shabby, at the Post Office. Office hours were as a rule ten to four, and even so there was in many departments plenty of time for reading and card playing."

He also talks about the smallness of the group who worked in administrative offices--the limited number of people who had the education and status and the tiny scale of administrative offices --don't think about the endless rows of desks, or buildings like the Pentagon, instead picture the local English department. In the mid-century, the entire staff of the Colonial Office numbered 30.

There was also a complete lack of division between administrative functions and menial clerical task---secretaries did exactly what we think of as secretarial work, clerks were really clerks---"much of their daily business was simply the copying by hand of correspondence and documents" though senior members might do more "policy" work.

Altogether a fascinating article.


Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 00:06:30
To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope, Work in Offices, and Servants

While I agree with just about everything everyone has said about Trollope's depiction of work in The Small House of Allington, I can add something to Howard's posting. R. H .Super wrote a thorough-going study of just Trollope's life in the Post Office. Super demonstrates Trollope was closely involved in paper-work, decisions of the kind that arise from contentious to-and-froing in committee rooms, diplomacy and paperwork in his travels to Egypt and the US.

Perhaps Trollope keeps this aspect of Johnny's experience remote because it is inherently difficult to dramatize this sort of thing easily. First of all, much that occurs at this level is not said aloud: you are supposed to get what people mean without their having to say it. This would take considerable space in a novel, and Trollope knows he has to keep his love story moving too. I have rarely come across a novelist who presents this aspect of working life in any depth: I remember Anthony Powell making fun of Balzac for the detailed realism with which he presents life at a printing office.

A rare instance that comes to mind about money negotations occurs in Wm Dean Howells's The Rise and Fall of Silas Lapham; in Trollope's The Three Clerks the story is about embezzlement and it comes to a trial so there is some presentation of this more detailed aspect of work. Mostly though Trollope makes fun and his idea seems to be that it doesn't matter what exactly the work is, office politics, the competition for higher place on all sorts of conflictings hierarchies are everywhere the same.

Perhaps though 20th century novels present this working aspect of life in detail more. I haven't been reading 20th century novels for quite a while. (When I pick up a contemporary book it's often non-fiction). I wonder about Theodore Dreiser's Financier; maybe Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt? Mostly too I suspect 20th century novelists ignore the drudgery of work; novels about doctoring seem to dwell on doctoring only as it is viewed from the personal life of the doctor. There is an exception: novels about academic life. These are all about the realities and details. The result is black humor.

Hours in the 19th century for upper class people, meaning gentlemen seem to be much shorter. I believe Mr Vavasour (Can You Forgive Her?) complains because he has to come in three days a week. But not the working class: in 'The Telegraph Girl' Lucy Graham works 8 hours a day 6 days a week; she starts at noon and stays until 8. She makes 18 shillings a week for this and gets her dinner furnished cheaply (for eightpence) in a room next door to the room she works in. Her room is chock-full of girls like herself; in an article Trollope wrote about telegraph girls he described a large room with 800 girls in it, all at work. There is a young man who marries her at the end of the story; he works long hours too. So the short day in an office is a class privilege.

Outside the office of course, as Dagny says, people worked from dawn to dusk.

Joan mentions working hours in the US in offices in the 1930s and 1940s included half a day on Saturday. My mother-in- law who is English told me that in the 1920s she worked in Woolworth's (or some equivalent store) and worked something like 9 hours a day and half a day on Saturday. She thought this was comparative freedom to when she was an upper servant in a great house. There she said she hadn't a moment to herself. >From the minute she got up to the minute she went to bed someone was watching her or giving her work to do. She also got a much lower salary as a servant in a house. If she had had time off, she would not have had any money to spend for further enjoyments. She called being a servant servitude and would say shows like 'Upstairs Downstairs' presented an unreal picture of the relationships between masters and mistresses and servants. This does have to do with Trollope because although he only mentions servants in passing in the novels, their presence is assumed. Every once in a while Lily or Bell or Lady Julia will turn round and say to the servant, giving him or her a name, do this or that, and they are there to do it. Trollope doesn't register them as people to his reader except when he wants to make a thematic point, and then they are treated somewhat comically, as almost child-like. The gardener Hopkins is a case in point. This gives an important clue to who were his readers, and the attitudes of the time.

Of course come revolution, servants often acted out to wreck property and take revenges on their masters as a result of years of bitterness and resentments from slights. People are strongly influenced by hurt pride.

Since others have mentioned relatives, I'll mention my grandfather who came to the US in the 1910s. He had been a tailor in Poland. I have no idea what his hours were there. In NYC he got a job as a presser, hard physical labour, and worked at it 12 hours a day for 5 days a week and half a day on Saturday. He died at 42.

Ellen Moody

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