Gold mining; Mrs Smith and gold; SS Great Britain; Of ships & housemaids without brooms; Mrs. Smith and the other ship passengers; Gold Mining in Australia; Mademoiselle Cettini and Mrs Smith; Work in Victorian England -- and Victorian Novels; Third class(?); What is wrong with that fellow?; Shipboard Romance; Daniel Caldigate; Mrs. Smith's attractions; What's wrong with Euphemia?; The Vampirish Female and Colonel Osborne

Charles Joseph Staniland (1838-1916), Emigrant Ship (1913?)

Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Gold mining

Trollope's description of the gold fields is probably based on his visit there in 1871. He describes 'Nobble' and 'Ahalala', which the Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope identifies with Grenfell and Currajong. My very small scale map of Australia does not show either of these places, but they are probably north of Wagga Wagga and south of Forbes and Bathurst. The nearest that I have been to this region is the Blue Mountains, which certainly showed no sign of gold mining. Much as I would like to, I don't think that I shall be in a position to extend my exploration of the fens to the area on the other side of the Blue Mountains! In a posting last Sunday Michael [] referred to his visit some decades ago to 'Caldigate country'. Can he identify the precise location of either of the above two places?

In chapter VIII of the section of Australia and New Zealand dealing with New South Wales, Trollope describes the Australian miner, and says 'The Australian miner when he is in work never drinks, - and seems to feel a pride in his courtesy.' Clearly he must have conceived Mick Maggott and Dick Shand as exceptions. He first went to Gullgong, but when he found that the 'rush' there was over, he moved on to Currajong, about 150 miles away, where a new rush had started. He found that Currajong was 'new, and a more wretched spot I never saw in my life'.

Incidentally, I wonder why John Caldigate and Dick Shand went to 'Nobble' and 'Ahalala' through Melbourne, rather than through Sydney and over the Blue Mountains, which seems the more obvious route to the gold fields.

If list members are interested in seeing some pictures of gold mining and gold miners of the 1870s, I would recommend the New South Wales Government's web site at, which gives some splendid photographs of everything that Trollope wrote about. There are in fact nine pages of photographs, and the URL will take you to the sixth page, which I think shows what 'The Old Stick-in-the Mud' might have looked like. All the other pages are also repay examination.

Regards, Howard

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Gold mining

Howard Merkin wrote in part:

"Trollope's description of the gold fields is probably based on his visit there in 1871. He describes 'Nobble' and 'Ahalala', which the Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope identifies with Grenfell and Currajong. My very small scale map of Australia does not show either of these places, but they are probably north of Wagga Wagga and south of Forbes and Bathurst. The nearest that I have been to this region is the Blue Mountains, which certainly showed no sign of gold mining. Much as I would like to, I don't think that I shall be in a position to extend my exploration of the fens to the area on the other side of the Blue Mountains! In a posting last Sunday Michael [] referred to his visit some decades ago to 'Caldigate country'. Can he identify the precise location of either of the above two places?"

I was unaware of the Oxford Readers' Companion reference to Grenfell and Currajong, as I have only the Penguin Companion (sniffle!) . You're not far off the mark with your placement of Grenfell - west of the Great Divide (of which the Blue Mountains are part), still on the Western Slopes, about 150 kms NE of Wagga, as the crow flies, almost due west of Bathurst (abt. 160kms) and due south of Forbes (abt. 65 kms). I've not heard of Currajong in this locale, although there is a Currawong about 60 kms due south of Grenfell and just south of Forbes.

Coincidentally, in an exchange of posts on-list with Teresa Ransome last September, I wrote at the time:

"I am unfamiliar with AT's journey(s) in Australia, but have studied his novel "John Caldigate" a few times. Recently, I searched the text for clues as to the location of Nobble and Ahalala, and am reasonably certain they are in a small triangle of country NSW bounded by Murrumburra, Boorowa and Young, part of an extensive gold-mining territory last Century."

Currawong sits in the forementioned triangle, but Grenfell is well outside. So, it is nice to know that the Oxford RC people agree with me. Amongst the many small pieces of evidence that gave me a measure of comfort in my original analysis was the fact that Trollope's "Nobble" sounds like a variant of "Nubba" - a small village just out of Currawong.

Also in my earlier note to Teresa, I wrote:

"This caused me to ask myself why AT would have Caldigate disembark in Melbourne from the vessel that continued to Sydney with Mrs Smith, only to have the hero travel two-thirds the land distance toward Sydney to reach Nobble rather than travelling more swiftly and directly from Sydney, especially when Caldigate was single-minded as to his. I had considered this aspect of the story to be somewhat incongruous, in a novel where the Australian angle seemed forced anyway, to as to set up the novel's ultimate development."

So, Howard, is this a case of great minds think alike, or is it the flip side? .


Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate: Pictures of 19th Gold Mining in New South Wales

This is to thank Howard for finding the appropriate website with pictures of gold-mining in New South Wales. I am struck by how accurately Mosley's picture of the rickety-erections are; he also got the sombreness of the places right. These do not look like places where people are enjoying themselves with alcoholic beverages, but places where they are intently serious about the object of making money. They do look grim. On the other hand, when the lights are out and people go to sleep, even in exhaustion after hours of work in a place where the "ordinary rules" of life are not visibly enforced by social activities, one can see extra- marital relationships springing up and sticking very easily.

Actually I wonder if there are websites with pictures of typical ships of the period. It would be interesting to see if the pictures of these by Mosley are as accurate. It would be interesting to match up Trollope's descriptions of life aboard such ships (not only in this novel but in the travel books and short stories) against the information provided by such sites.

Ellen Moody

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Gold mining

Michael, I think that it's not so much a case of great minds thinking alike as of lesser minds having a greater recall of content than of source! . I clearly read your posting last September, which I have now retrieved from the archives, since I made exactly the same point in my posting yesterday as you did about Caldigate's journey to Nobble and Ahalala. I am now delighted to attribute the original thought to you.

Thank you for locating Grenfell, and probably Currajong more precisely. I have made some research into the site at which gives access to a wonderful collection of parish maps covering the period from the 1890s to the 1930s. There are two Grenfells, in different districts, and about five Currajongs! I have looked at the most likely Grenfell, which for 1891 has a Main Street, Camp Street and a Middle Street, and gives the names of the occupiers or owners of each property. Since Trollope is unlikely to have had access to such a map, there does not seem much point in researching further, If one was going to write a novel about such a town, this map would form an excellent basis for writing a convincing background. Imagine writing about one's characters calling at Hall & Allen's premises at 7 & 8 Main Street!

I would suggest, Michael, that you shouldn't feel too sad at not owning the Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope. While it contains a host of interesting material, it has too many long-winded academic articles about the novels, and is really not a patch on Mullen and Munson in the Penguin Companion. I also prefer the Gerroulds' A Guide to Trollope when it comes to identifying the novel in which a character or place appears. Nevertheless, The Oxford Companion is a very useful third port of call. It did give an indication of the likely whereabouts of Nobble and Ahalala.

Regards, Howard

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] JC - Mrs Smith & gold

I wonder how Trollope would have got Mrs Smith into such a powerful position if he had not used the class system on the boat. At times Trollope seems to imply that John Caldigate and Mrs Smith are the only intelligent and thoughtful people, who can read and converse, amongst all the second class ticket holders.

I like the way her appearance changes during the voyage and she appears to better advantage, gradually improving her image, as she sees the opportunity that John Caldigate offers. At least, this is how I read her, as a superb actress, able to sustain a character and wonderfully in charge of her life. She reminds me of Miss Gwilt in Collins' Armadale.

Thanks very much for all the gold mine information. I don't know of any other Victorian novelist who travelled as far as Trollope. He must have been very tough. Something of that self congratulation on survival comes through in the narrative of the two Englishmen, especially when they are shown able to walk much further and with more stamina than their local guide.


Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Gold Mining

I second Angela's thanks to Howard and Michael for the Australia gold-mining info and especially the link. My husband will love seeing the pictures too! In the western U.S. we do not have many historical sites to view, no Colonial ruins, no civil war sites, we do have a few abandoned gold mines though.

One thing that struck me when Caldigate and Shand first arrived in gold-mining country was the mud, the wet weather. I always picture Australia as coastal country with the entire interior sheep-ranching/outback country. I forget that because it is so large it must have other climates. (I should have known about the rain from watching the recent episode of Survivors.)

As to why our hopeful, would-be miners travelled out from Melbourne rather than continuing to Sydney by boat, I think one of them made reference to cost. I don't know how it works geographically but it seems their rather miserable three day land journey might have been less expensive than the other route. They did though send their heavy luggage on through Sydney. On the surface this seems a waste, to have to journey to Sydney later to collect it. But practically speaking, they could not very well cart it all around with them when they didn't even know where they would end up.

Thanks to Ellen for the illustrations. I can easily picture the frontispiece. Perhaps too, one of the photos at the New South Wales site will be very similiar.

On a side note, I have seen on exhibit some Australian gold nuggets, they are gorgeous! Australian gold is much brighter and lovelier in color than our western U.S. gold. Possibly this is because it is purer, I don't know.

Hello all

Happy Easter, and many thanks to Howard for finding all the wonderful pictures of Australian gold mining. I especially liked the old photograph of the man holding the largest nugget ever found, which appeared to be almost as big as him!

Judy Geater

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate: Mrs. Smith

I am another fan of Mrs. Smith (at least at this point). She has made some mistakes though. I think it was a foolish on her part to be so aloof and snooty-seeming to the other passengers on the ship. Sure I can see where it could be incredibly boring to converse with some, probably most of them, but still, a pleasant word now and again would make things much more pleasant. And there were a few women who tried to befriend her. If nothing else, they might have made good contacts in port for job-hunting, etc.

Now, what I didn't like about her was how she sort of tricked John into considering them engaged. Yes, he should have known better, and indeed, it seems he did, but still, it just didn't seem quite cricket on her part.


Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 16:40:08 +0100 Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] SS Great Britain

Ellen wondered whether there were any interesting web sites dealing with the types of ship that John Caldigate, Dick Shand and Euphemia Smith travelled out on to Australia. I had to regard this as a challenge.

My researches, employing Google, did not prove very fruitful until I looked at Mullen's biography of AT, and learned that he and Rose went out to Australia in 1871 on the SS Great Britain. This is a ship with a marvellous history. When she was built in Bristol in 1843 by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the great Victorian engineer, she was the first propeller driven iron ship. After a few voyages to New York, carrying immigrants, she grounded off Northern Ireland in 1846, and was not salvaged until 1847. In 1852 she commenced sailings between Liverpool and Australia. She then completed 32 round trips to Australia, before being laid up in 1876. She was sold in 1882, her engines were removed, and she was converted into a three-masted sailing ship. In 1886 she became a coal and wool hulk in the Falklands until 1937, when she was beached there.

In 1970 she was refloated, and towed on pontoons to the dock in Bristol where she was built. Over the past thirty years she has been completely restored, and is open to the public. I visited it about 10 years ago, when the restoration of the interior was not far advanced. I would now like to visit it again when I go down to the West Country later in the year. The web site at gives some photographs of it in its current condition, but these are only overall views, and do not give much indication of what conditions were like for passengers. However, another site,, gives a drawing of her in six-masted configuration, a superb poster giving details of the fares in 1873, and, at last, a drawing by a passenger, showing life on board in 1863. It is not clear whether this shows the first or second class sections, but since the passenger worked in Melbourne as a silk-merchant, it is likely that it is the first class. There are no steamer chairs, or any concessions to comfort, apart from an ample space to promenade. The fare list goes from 70 Guineas for the After Saloon poop deck down to Steerage at 15 Guineas, with children under 12 at half price, and infants under 12 months free. The passengers are promised every possible convenience, including Ladies' Boudoirs, Baths, etc., and 'her noble passenger decks, lighted at intervals by sideports, offer unrivalled accommodation for all classes'.

We know that Anthony and Rose Trollope sailed in May 1971, so that they must have travelled on voyage no. 37, which took 64 days, and carried 153 crew and 391 passengers. Someone has compiled an alphabetical list of the surnames of all the passengers on all of the trips, and sure enough, between Tristread and Tromencie, we find Trollope! No indication is given of the fame of any of the passengers, since the list appears to have been prepared for the use of people who want to determine whether their ancestors travelled on the ship as immigrants.

There is probably a great deal more to be learned from the web, but the only further picture that I have been able to find is a picture on a family visit web site of the recently refitted first class saloon. Unfortunately, the only item that appears clearly is the piano.

We know that Trollope went again to Australia in 1875, and did not write John Caldigate until 1879, but he travelled on his own, changing ships at various points, so it seems probable that it was his journey on the SS Great Britain that he drew on for the shipboard episodes in the novel.

I will now pass the hunt on to other list members to see whether further pictures or accounts can be found.

Regards, Howard

Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] SS Great Britain

Hello all

Many thanks to Howard for all the fascinating information about the SS Great Britain and the great links.

For some strange reason, when I clicked on the link you gave for the historic pictures, it said the page did not exist.

However, when I went to the home page for the same site, I was able to click on a link to the pictures with no problem.

It looks as if this site will be a wonderful one to explore in greater detail. Thanks again.

Judy Geater

To Trollope-l

April 17, 2001

Re: John Caldigate, Chs 7-12: Of ships & housemaids without brooms

I too went over to look at the site for the SS Great Britain. It reveals a good deal about Victorian society well beyond emigration. How ironic that it exists to help individuals make genealogical tables. The history of ships reveals all sorts of things about the societies they serve: they have sufficient individuation to keep a character, yet they cross so many barriers physically and otherwise that they are iron microcosms. I wondered why the voyage was taking so long: it's interesting to see that the ship the Trollopes travelled on went on was first a "propeller driven iron ship" and then was converted to a "three-masted sailing ship. Among the "fifteen amazing facts" offered to the visitor which include all sorts of boasts and statistics, this was striking:

"The SS Great Britain never made any money for the men who built her, despite contributing greatly to the social, economic and engineering dominance of Great Britain in the nineteenth century.

It is repeatedly said that people who run businesses on the Net don't turn a profit is said to run continual losses. Software companies go out of business repeatedly. Yet without a doubt the World Wide Web is among the most important innovations of our era. One can repeat this statistic of loss -- of no profit -- for hospitals, schools, so many of our institutions and things we are most proud of in our culture.

I do enjoy reading about ships. One of the most readable books about Darwin's voyage round the world in the Beagle is by Keith Stuart Thompson: The History of Darwin's Ship. It tells you about far more than the individual Darwin who rode her for one of her many voyages.

Actually only 2 chapters of this week's 6 take place on board ship. Those of us who have posted have said much that may be sensibly said of this opening experience. As Sig and a few others have commented, Trollope plants many hints that Mrs Smith is not the woman an upper class English gentleman wants for his wife. He makes the taboo about unchastity explicit at one point:

A man brought up among soft things is so imbued with the feeling that his wife should be something better, cleaner, sweeter, holier than himself, that he could not but be awestruck when he thought that he was bound to marry this all but nameless widow of some drunken player -- this woman who, among other women, had been thought unfit for all companionship (Folio Society John Caldigate, Ch 8, p. 59).

Language like "cleaner, sweeter holier than himself" marks the books as not only Victorian but written by a male of the gentry class for an ideal construct of its females. We are expected to assume all right-minded or good women want to socialise with other gentry women. Mrs Smith doesn't. They bore and irritate her. She sees them as uncharitable hypocrites. Which they are.

At the same time she is made interesting. She is a rare Trollopian woman for having literary tastes and engaging in a literary conversation. Her witty dialogue with Caldigate over novels is meant to amuse. Michael Sadleir who was among the first to identify the Northanger novels in Jane Austen's NA as real books, find and describe them thoroughly, wrote a essay on "The Caldigate Novels" for TLS in which he speculated on the novelists alluded to: they include Trollope himself (as Thompson whose _Four Marquises_ gives away its ending from the first chapter) , Oliphant, George Eliot (who writes novels filled with "hard work" which are "very thoughtful"), Rhoda Broughton. According to N John Hall in the Oxford edition of John Caldigate, William Coxe is Wilkie Collins; Lock Picked at Last, The Two Destinies.

The likening of Mrs Smith to the housemaid who is not allowed to have followers while her mistress is works to make her sympathetic. And it is supposed to. The remark about her "present outward woman" refers to her worn older clothes: these are the equivalent of the housemaid's broom (Ch 6, p. 39). They mark her as someone who is not acceptable for men to follow; who herself, given her class and needs (a job in service in a lady's house), ought not to allow herself a boyfriend (as we would say). Trollope's narrator compares Miss Green's freedom to the disapproval and distrust all display towards Mrs Smith in words which suggest how unfair the treatment of Mrs Smith is. Here he says of Mrs Smith that she is "brave enough to set opposition at defiance" (Ch 7, p. 51). When she says "a woman has to show a little spirit or she will be trodden absolutely into the dirt" she recalls Miss Viner of "Journey to Panama" -- and many of Trollope's more socially acceptable heroines, from Lady Glen to Violet Effingham.

Mrs Smith recalls Mrs Hurtle -- without having Mrs Hurtle's violence. She is presented as having much courage, as sincere in her love for John Caldigate. Her manipulations of Caldigate work because he allows them to, and she gives him a full chance to get away from her. We get as close to a downright love scene where the couple is supposed to end up in bed as we ever do in Trollope when Caldigate comes to visit her in Sydney (Ch 12, pp. 89-991). She is as capable and daring as Caldigate himself, as self-contained.

Still throughout this opening Trollope's narrator makes it clear that Caldigate is being unwise in allowing himself to be so caught; his sympathies are such that he doesn't really regard Mrs Smith as "one of us" or "his kind". Thus although he repeats the idea that it is "unmanly" of the Captain to badmouth "a forlorn woman", he doesn't care: his concern is first for the gentleman to keep himself in his class, not for the woman who needs someone to be a partner and yearns for loving companionship.

Beyond that the more casual off-the-cuff remark about Mrs Smith's behavior gives away Trollope's instinctive adhesion to safety within his class where there is civility, comfort, behavior that is dependable and provides safety. Take this individual wariness towards the non-conformist: "She is good-looking, clever, well-educated, and would be well-mannered were it not that she bristles up against the ill-usage of the world too roughly" (Ch 6, p. 42). It's okay to bristle up some, but not too baldly or aggressively. Not because the world does not ill-use people, but because to come out too strongly against it is to endanger your position with these very ill-users. Again the narrator says "The woman herself had not only been able but had been foolish enough to show that despite her gown she considered herself superior to them all" (Ch 7, p. 46). It's often said that Dickens feared the mob; Trollope does too, but in more subtle ways. One can make distinctions about merely obeying outwardly the conventions and keeping one's view of the world free of cant, but behavior is after all how we get what we want.

I imagine Trollope enjoyed travelling immensely because it did free him for the space and time that he was aboard a ship. He liked living in the liminal when it was allowed him.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Mrs. Smith

At this point in our reading of John Caldigate I don't particularly dislike Mrs. Smith. She is charming, affable, and intelligent. All she does on the ship is stroll about with John, and that's no crime. But toward the end of the current reading assignmnet, we learn that she has been on the Australian stage under the name of "Mademoiselle Cettini.." John meets her in Sydney and wants to know if "Cettini" is her father's name. She puts him off with no answer at all.

But supposing that "Cettini" was really her father's name? Now we have an Italian girl attempting to squeeze her way into an English upper-class family. And most of you will recall that we had something very similar in Is He Popenjoy?. The English had two views toward Italy. It was a great place to visit and even rent a villa. But one should go no further, or else one might have to deal with the Italians. And everyone knows that they are swarthy, their names end in vowels. and accordingly they are not to be trusted. The dark Mediterranean type does not make good spouse material for a fair English person, as we have seen over and over again in The Prime Minister, Is He Popenjoy?, and The Eustace Diamonds. Therefore, if Mrs. Smith is really Miss Cettini, John should beware of her, mainly because her name ends with a vowel.


Subject: [trollope-l] Mrs. Smith and the other ship passengers

Sig, yes, indeed, the English have to beware the swarthy Italians. And how about the family in the Barset stories that lived in Italy. It's dreadful, I have forgotten their names. The man was a churchman and went to Italy for his health and remained for years. Their poor daughter had an incredibly bad experience marrying an Italian.

But to return to the voyage out--I really got a kick out of the upper class ladies jealousy of John's attention to Mrs. Smith. One of them went so far as to say that they should do something to "save" him. And indeed one of them did attempt to warn him. And they didn't even know! :-)


Re: John Caldigate, Chs 8-12: Gold Mining in Australia

Howard and Michael's onlist conversation has made me think how interesting it would be to read Trollope's travel book about Australia. Of course it's preferable to go to Australia -- had we world enough, and time, which, as Benjamin Franklin told us long ago, is money. Saul Bellow says the poor boy's way of travelling is through books. The Oxford Companion has some good maps of where Trollope travelled. They are detailed enough to recognize some of the places named in our chapters -- or their equivalents (Wagga Wagga, Gulgong, Grenfell. For those who know very little about Australia's geography -- which includes me -- the University of Queensland Press edition of Trollope's Australia edited by P. D. Edwards and R. B. Royce has fuller maps which relate places to one another. It seems people lived along a southeast coast: Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra follow each other up the coast. The places Trollope names are inland in New South Wales going westerly.

These four chapters continue Trollope's dramatization of which individuals survive when the structures of ordinary society melt away from us. Who comes out on top? Who is a follower. We see that Mick Maggott has it in him to be a leader -- if only he can keep himself from yielding to the delicious oblivion offered by alcohol. Trollope's presentation of Mick's personality (his words, acts) suggests an inferiority complex: Mick lives down to his opinion of himself because it's easier. There is a beautiful humility about the man -- as well as the strength of an ox. Trollope presents Mick with more sympathy than he does Dick Shand.

The descriptions of these early outposts of civilized life, these places where money is to be wrested from the land at great personal sacrifice and risk should be of interest to people who live in the US too. The desolation, disorder, make-shift and rough nature of life in New South Wales is a variant on the western US at the turn of the 19th century.

Judy asked if we can think of novels where people are shown at work in offices or factories. There is a slew of US novels written at the turn of the century which do this; they are sometimes called "American (literary) naturalism -- after Zola who wrote "naturalism" in his Germinal. The Jungle, The Octopus, The Financier. There are also US novels which depict work on the land and in mines. Hamlin Garland's Main Travelled Roads, short stories by Stephen Crane and Jack London. And there are these chapters in John Caldigate. These chapters constitutre only the opening phase of the book but Trollope does describe something of real life of work -- the work which brings in the money which enables the ladies and gentleman in the great houses "at the center" (Europe) live such an elegant life. He also describes the hard work of sheep farming in Harry Heathcote.

Trollope wrote a series of travel letters to people in Liverpool urging working class people to emigrate because they could make more money and eventually -- even if it would take decades or more than one generation -- live a much better life. In this novel and other of his stories he tells of the hardships involved in colonialism. Often the story of colonialism is told from the viewpoint of the elite who took the cream off the profits; who were officials in high positions. Here it is told from the point of view of the worker who moves -- though to be sure these are two gentlemen disguised as workers. If there are people on our list who have never read "Returning Home" I recommend it the next time you come across a paranoid diatribe from a postcolonialist standpoint.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Re: John Caldigate, Ch 12: Mademoiselle Cettini

In his posting on this chapter Sig concludes: "Therefore, if Mrs. Smith is really Miss Cettini, John should beware of her, mainly because her name ends with a vowel." I can't resist saying what a prig of self-conceited superiority John Caldigate feels like more than once to this 20th century reader -- especially when I think of his behavior to Shand's sister, to his cousin Julia, she of the thick ancles. He is not one of Trollope's easily likeable male characters.

Ellen Moody

Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate: Mrs. Smith

I, too, like Mrs. Smith. I think it is in chapter 8 that she makes a short speech about how limited a woman's options were, and how a man can recover from a single indiscretion but a woman never can. She sounded like she was explaining why she had to do what she was about to do; that is, why it was necessary for her to entrap John Caldigate into marriage. Her best option to survive in the world was marriage; however, marriage was not her most desired option.

John Caldigate feels bound by his status as a gentleman. In Ch. 8: "The intercourse between our hero and Mrs. Smith had been such that, as a gentleman,he could not leave her without some allusion to future meetings." Then, later, in Chapter 12, John wishes that he could "... escape honestly from that trouble", the trouble of him having become engaged to Mrs. Smith. It is only the code of the gentleman that binds him to Mrs. Smith at this point. The world would not condemn John if he walked away from Mrs. Smith, indeed, alot of the world would applaud such an action.


Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate Illustrations

Ellen, thank you as always for taking the time to picture in words for us the illustrations. (And since you mentioned it yourself, I will say that I got a chuckle from the men around the campfire--good one!)

I don't actually know what the Rip into Hobson's Bay is either. One of our more nautically inclined listmembers might enlighten it. I think though that it could refer to the tide. I have heard the phrase rip tide, along with ebb tide. If this is the case then I can picture the ship cresting over the tide much as surfers do. How far off is my guess?


Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001
Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] Work in Victorian England -- and Victorian Novels

Angela wrote:

I'm reading about Victorian artists who concentrated on rural gardens and came across this quote about child labour. It fits in with the scene where Higgins discusses agricultural work and confirms Thornton in his view that some of the centralised legislation is anti-industry.

W. Cooke Taylor, writing in "Factories and the Factory System" in 1844 :

"Persons enter a mill, or suppose that they have done so, they see, or imagine to themselves, the figures of the little piecers and cleaners employed in their monotonous routine, when the sun is high in heaven...and they think how much more delightful would have been the gambol of the free limbs on the hillside, the inhaling of the fresh breeze, the sight of the green mead, with its spangles of buttercups and daisies, the song of the bird and the humming of the bee! But they should compare the aspect of the youthful operatives with other sights which they must have met in the course of their experience..we have seen children perishing from sheer hunger in the mud hovel, or in hedge by the way side where a few sods and withered boughs had formed a hut, compared with which a wigwam were a palace. The children engaeed in the mills are better paid, and work less.. there are no tasks imposed on young persons in factories that are anything near so laborious as hand weeding corn, haymaking, stone picking, potato picking or bean chopping."

The 1833 Factory Act abolished child labour in factories, but not from work overseen by parents, such as farm work.


To which I'll add:

There is a great deal of sentimentality about life before factory work. Of course the deprivation, rigours, and downright misery of life for the children of agricultural workers before the industrial revolution doesn't make the lot of the children Fanny Trollope saw and described in Michael Armstrong any more justified. It is also rarely said that the parents of such children were among those who drove them to work at a young age. It will be said they were forced to drive their children; this is probably true. When Dickens goes into such ecstasies over a goose, and he has Mrs Cratchit stand breathless lest a pudding not come out right, he is assuming a subsistence economy and hard life we know little of in Western society today. George Clausen's paintings of children working in the fields are strikingly poignant; one which is often reprinted is Bird Scaring. Now and again as a kind of metaphor Trollope will refer to stone-breaking as a profession or very ill-paid remunerative (ha) work, sometimes done by children. It was Samuel Luke Fildes who illustrated Edwin Drood and his Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward is worth meditating. The novels we read on the Net here on this list (and they talk about on Victoria) are about a small percentage of people in Victorian England.

Just a thought: John Caldigate is a kind of self-made man. Trollope does describe his work and the characteristics that helped him succeed: insensitivity, self-control, determination, wariness He was also lucky.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Australian gold-mining

Hello all

I've just been reading a book about Dickens's two sons who emigrated to Australia: A Tale of Two Brothers: Charles Dickens's Sons in Australia by Mary Lazarus, and was interested to see that it includes some background about gold-mining which seems relevant to John Caldigate.

Lazarus writes:

"RH Horne, who had been on the regular staff of the magazine (Household Words) since its inception, had emigrated to Australia in the middle of 1852 hoping to make his fortune on the diggings. His account of going 'Off to the Diggings' tells of the horrors of the overcrowded emigrant vessels. Some years later Charles Dickens wrote a letter to Sir Archibald Michie in Australia describing this extraordinary man's plan to extract gold. 'You should have seen him as I saw him, when he was inventing an immense corkscrew with which infallibly to extract gold from any Diggings in those parts. He had only to find the spot where gold lay hidden; the corkscrew would then be worked by twelve men shipped to the Antipodes for the purpose, and after turning to with a will (unless they had run away) and when the corkscrew bit through, an enormous mass of gold could not choose but to come up; they would then all fall on their backs, and their fortunes would be made.'

But, alas for Horne, he made no fortune, though until September 1853 he continued to send articles to 'Household Words'... 'Digging is so very arduous and precarious a work,' he wrote, 'that very few excepting labouring men can continue it profitably - if they fail they can work on the roads, or at something else... But it is not work for men of education.' He went on to describe the plight of thousands of people, 'many of them females and children, daily landing on the wharf, who cannot either for love or money get places wherein to lay their heads... From every part of the world as well as from Great Britain, vessels are daily pouring in, filled with living cargoes to swell the houseless numbers."

Lazarus goes on to describe a huge canvas town set up on the south bank of the Yarra River, with about 6,000 people living in tents.

She writes: "There is an account in 'Household Words' of a scene on the Bendigo diggings, of confusion, noise of 'rattling cradles and shouting voices... elbowing, swearing, hacking, heaving and shovelling' and on a great space where 'not a tree was left standing... and the sun flamed down on unsheltered heaps and holes of gravel with a burning sweltering force.' Though there are stories of extravagant spending, of diggers who struck it lucky, the point was made more than once that there were better chances of making money by selling goods to the miners than by joining them."

From this sort of account, it seems as if John, Dick and Mick have good luck in being able to establish their claim without being pestered by a host of rival miners - although I suppose Trollope's novel is set at a slightly later date than these accounts, when the gold fever would have been dying down.

There are also a few interesting passages about Trollope and his son Frederic in the Mary Lazarus book, so I'll look those bits out and write another posting in the next day or two.

Bye for now
Judy Geater

Now I add from the earlier read of John Caldigate in 1997; these postings are on Chapters 1 - 10:

From: "Imme Mallin"
To: "trollope"
Subject: Third class(?)
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997

Ships used to have first class, second class and steerage. The latter had no individual cabins and few facilities. Passengers had to provide their own food. Most Irish emigrating during the Famine and afterwards to the USA came this way. The lack of hygiene and sustenance led to frequent outbreaks of contagious diseases, which necessitated the quarantining of arriving immigrants.

Recent research seems to confirm what mothers have known for centuries - boy children need to be socialized, most easily by contact with nice girls and women. AT stresses in The Small House, talking of John Eames, that therefore mothers should see to it that their sons have the company of nice girls. John Eames is socialized by contact with Lord de Guest and his sister Julia.

Now John Caldigate has no female relations - except the horsey, asinine Babington cousins- and is not subjected to any structured socializing, yet he is in no way awkward or shy with girls. In fact, his problem is the opposite, he falls for every skirt in sight, in the first 8 chapters he gets engaged 3 times (well, Maria Shand probably isn't quite an engagement) and dreams about the one girl he can't get easy access to, Hester Bolton. Particularly on board ship he hurls himself into an affair with a dubious lady, an affair that spells danger from the start, and he is completely aware of that, yet continues and intensifies it, and simultanously dreams about the inaccessible Hester. He is like a moth flying to every flame, yet we are supposed to think he is so much more careful and sensible than his friend Dick. What is wrong with the fellow?

Imme Mallin

Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997
Subject: What is wrong with that fellow?

After months of lurking, I've finally been able to join you Trollopians in your reading cycle. So, like Ellen and Imme, I'm too excited about JC to wait for Sunday to post a question.

In the chapter called "Mrs. Smith," Mrs. Smith talks to John C. about the state of women.She mentions that there are people who are "tabooed." Then she asks whether John C. has a mother,sister or housemaid., and mentions the expectation that the sister should have a follower (aspiring lover?), while the housemaid should not. Then Caldigate asks (rightly, as we are all perhaps exasperated by Mrs. Smith's mystery),

"But what does all this mean? You are not a housemaid, and you have not got a mistress?"

"Not exactly. But at present;--if I say my outward woman you'llknow what I mean perhaps."

"I think I shall."

"Well; my present outward woman stands to me in liewu of the housemaid's broom, and the united authority of the Captain and Mrs. Crompton make up the mistress between them...."

Can someone please explain to me what Mrs. Smith means when she refers to "her present outward woman"? I confess that, unlike John Caldigate, I haven't a clue.

Thanks for your indulgence,

Suzanne Rosenthal Shumway

Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997
Subject: JC: Shipboard Romance

John Caldigate's shipboard friendship with Euphemia Smith was narrated in a non-committal style that makes me wonder if I'm hearing a major chord or a minor. Experience with our author has taught me which it's likely to be, but I enjoy the present ambivalence just the same. Trollope ejaculates upon the foolishness of John's attachment, but he presents Mrs. Smith so alluringly that the reader is hard pressed to feel any differently.

Ambivalence is also the keynote of the first visit to the Shands at Pollington. They're irresponsible people, but they're friendly, and everything's hunkey-dorey - is Trollope going to get laid back on us?

Since we have been promised 'crushing troubles' by the very first paragraph we are not unduly beguiled by these complaisant pleasures. But Trollope is playing his cards close to the vest.

RJ Keefe

Like RJ, I'm tantalized by those conversations on board ship that Trollope chooses NOT to report.

Tiny bombshells are dropped--it turns out at some point that John has learned Mrs. Smith's first name, and her former occupation. But we never "witnessed" those conversations. Trollope doesn't usually keep such secrets from his readers. What's up?

Has it struck anyone else as extraordinary that the Cromptons let their children travel second class while they themselves travel first? Obviously Mrs. Smith is not entrusted with the care of the children, otherwise she would not have so much free time. One must assume that there are more than three children, the remaining ones sleeping with the nurse or nanny in another (second class?) cabin. Of course for the parents it would have been quite handy, firstclass passengers had the run of the ship, so they could visit their children whenever they felt like it, but the children, being second class, could not pester them in first class. I wonder was that arrangement frequent? Since AT does not make any snide remark about it, it looks as if he took it for granted.

Imme Mallin

Subject: John Caldigate, Chs 1-8: Daniel Caldigate
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997

The way Trollope presents the story, it seems obvious to me that Daniel Caldigate is a very cold unloving father who bears the main responsibility for John's exodus from England. In my eyes, John is a wonderful person with great room for development. His only defects are his financial losses at college and his easy attraction to women. The first is very reminiscent of AT himself as a young man. But I can't find any excuses for Daniel and I just hope that he won't hand over the property to John's cousin. Someone talked earlier about how AT handles children and it seems to me that John is still a child in that he is yet untried in the real world. But the fact that women are so attracted to him bodes well for his future success. My reactions to Mrs. Smith are not exactly what AT's contemporaries probably felt. I find her absolutely fascinating esp. the fact that she's an actress. And I love the whole shipboard episode and will shortly read the short story Ellen mentions.


Is he unloving, or does he have trouble showing his love? He lost his two girls and his wife not very long ago (John was 15). He may withold affection as a result -- his coldness strikes me as a protective device.

John got himself in a scrape and determined to buy his way out. His ambition made it impossible for him to live idly with his father. He thought that he despised Folking. He could have had other alternatives if he had so desired. Going to Australia, if it is anyone's responsibility (with an implication of fault), is at least as much John's as Daniel's.

I love the way Trollope handles the mutual reticence of the father and the son. There relationship is founded on a misunderstanding. Each puts more blame on himself than he deserves, and as a result cannot break the ice with the other.


She's told him that she is not worthy of his attentions. She gave him an easy out by going her own way and leaving it up to him whether he should visit her or not. He visits her, and she supposes that he wants to be engaged and is grateful.

Where is her dishonesty? Suppose she were Miss Smith and not Mrs. Smith. Suppose there was not the suggestion of rumour about her. Wouldn't Caldigate appear as a scoundrel and Miss Smith be badly used by him?

At this point Trollope has not told us anything about her that makes her unworthy. Caldigate knows nothing against her. There is nothing to justify his treatment of her based on what he does know about her. Isn't that what should count?

If it turns out that all the rumours (whatever they might be) are false, and that the entire world has badly used her, then Caldigate will look like a scoundrel for deserting her. Even if it turns out later that she had been one of the leading prostitutes in Birmingham and aborted and eaten a child. should that make a difference for judging his actions.

Finally, he prefers Hester whom he has seen once. It strikes me he does not want a wife who will be a good companion (as Mrs. Smith has proved herself to be). Rather, he wants the image of a wife -- and Hester, about whom he knows nothing, seems perfectly to fit this bill.


Date: Wed, 18 Jun 1997
Subject: Mrs Smith

I think I agree with Duffy Pratt about Caldigate's treatment of Mrs. Smith. He is, after all, the one who crosses the line; it is Caldigate alone, by himself, who gets himself into trouble with Mrs. Smith, just as he alone is responsible for his involvement with Davis.

I look forward to finding out what happened between them during the interlude that was passed over.

From: Anthony Monta Subject: Mrs. Smith's attractions

Greetings to all from a lurker. I hate to jump into spotlights, but I spent an hour or so this beautiful summer afternoon reading the first 8 chapters of JC in my vegetable garden and I just love it. I was especially delighted with Mrs. Smith because she reminds me of some clever, splendid women I'd met in novels by Wilkie Collins. The burning question for me at the end of chapter 8, among others, was: will Trollope be able to imagine a satisfactory marriage for this woman?

But I am really writing to respond to RJ Keefe's recent question about JC's loitering with Mrs. Smith and Arthur Middleton's even more recent reply: "Even Victorians had urges!"

Of course they did, but surely Mrs. Smith has more going for her than sex appeal. She has more going for her to JC than her "mysterious" past. She even has more than the added pathos of being a Vulnerable Female, which even JC sees to some extent as a potential ruse and danger. Mrs. Smith has all these things, but she also has an ability to make what Ellen has called "dramatic irony" a real experience for JC. That's what I thought JC really admired about her: she cuts through the classist rind, and he enjoys sharing her view of things. (I certainly did!)

Does anyone else think that this latter attraction has something to do with JC's wanting to control, to affront, his destiny at this poitn? Mrs. Smith's intimacy allows him to feel that he shares her position above and outside high society, which helps to reinforce his feeling greater disgust for Dick and spurs his second thoughts about his mooning after Hester Burton. There's something of the good salty air of sheer candor, a real modernity, in Mrs. Smith's conversation. John wants to mature and make his way in the world -- what could be more attractive to him than to ally himself with such a lovely Voice of Experience? Trollope is showing him to be maturing, so I'm inclined to forgive him this romanticism... At least it's a step beyond the embarrassing lollings of a Dickens hero.

Anthony Monta
Madison, WI USA

From: "HILTON OR JUNE W. SIEGEL" Subject: Complicated

It took me a long time to read the first installment for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the book, and I've finally caught up with the week's postings also. Perhaps because I read so quickly and so late, I have let too many things go by, but my impression of all of the character s so far is that they are almost all contradictory, and far from simple to pin down.

The comments from the group on Mrs. Smith show divided opinion about her, and I think that that is probably what Trollope intended: to show people who are confounding, who no sooner go one way, then they turn and go another way altogether. Jan Reber's post today is very convincing and shows a clear line of evidence for a reading of Mrs. Smith as unsavory. Yet she is pleasant and clever and full of wit --- at times almost like one of Shakespeare's heroines, capable of assessing a situation and acting in her own best interests. Nor is she intended necessarily to be a siren, luring our John onto the rocks: instead, she's a person, neither pure nor simple, with an agenda of her o wn.

We see the same in John, in his father, in the array of relatives, in Shand, in Shand's family. The only unqualified character is Hester Bolton whose description (16-17) is luminous (Trollope may not mention children often, but he shows here, as elsewhere, very tender feeling for young girls) but whatever light she sheds is soon dimmed -- perhaps only temporarily as our hero's head continues to be turned over and over and over again, making this novel rich with comic possibilities.

The world of the ship is the reverse of the world where, for the time of the voyage, all rules are suspended, as the three failed attempts to invoke them show. The ship they are on seems at times to be a kind of ship of fools and John's character and his circumstances in life leave him trailing engagements and near-engagements and wished-for engagements which perhaps keep him and us from remembering how untethered he really is.

In that sense, perhaps this will turn out to be one of those novels where the hero has to reinvent things, or at least to start over again, like Robinson Crusoe or Lord of the Flies. Heroes in that position, usually find, however, that it's never enough, having made a mess in one place, simply to move on to a new place as the propensity for making messes tends to get packed along with the rest of the baggage.


Subject: Re: Mrs. Smith

This argument makes very selective use of quoting to give a distorted picture of the relationship between Caldigate and the fair Mrs. Smith

Trollope makes this comment after Mrs. Smith observes that Shand and Caldigate are "making a delightful experiment in roughing it, -- as people eat picnic dinners out in the woods occaisonally." It has nothing to do with the context you put it into.

Shand is the one who first said he would like to unravel Mrs. Smiths mystery, when he first talked about her to Caldigate. After one conversation with her, Trollope notes: "Dick had professed his intention of unraveling the mystery, but Caldigate almost thought that he would like to unravel it himself."

If she had been more successful in unravelling Shand's mystery, might that not be because there is not much depth to Shand? OTOH, the unravelling business is something that Shand and Caldigate set out to do.

This is not true. When Caldigate inquires about her aboard ship, his woman informant tells him that Mrs Smith "had seen better days, ,,, and that she was now going out to the colony, probably, -- so the old lady said who was the informant, -- in search of a sacond husband." This suggestion that Mrs. Smith is looking to remarry occurs before their is any relationship between her and Caldigate. But in their very first conversation, Mrs. Smith talks about how wonderful it is to have your dinners pre-arranged for you. Caldigate knew beforehand that this was likely a woman who was interested in marriage for mercenary reasons, and he allows himself to take advantage of Mrs. Smith's weakness.

After the night of the ball, Shand says to Caldigate: "You are much more likely to make her Mrs. Caldigate." That night he reflects on the women he has come to admire, and the merits and marriagability of Mrs. Smith. The possibility of marriage is directly put to Caldigate from the outset.

The next morning, Caldigate has a conversation with the captain in which he understands that the captain is warning him against keeping company with Mrs. Smith. He does not heed the warning.

Do you think here, as you've said before, that she is being dishonest? Has she not given John more than ample warning about what she is doing. Yet, he keeps coming back. He comes back in spite of the warnings given him by his first informant, Shand, the captain, and Mrs. Smith herself.

Caldigate justifies himself to Shand: "Here I am with nothing special to do and I like to amuse myself."

Mrs. Smith develops the relationship with John by isolating the two of them from everyone else on board.

Trollope seems to indicate that Caldigate has done the isolating: "Caldigate had driven off his persecuters valiantly, and had taught them all to htink that he was resolute in his purposes towards Mrs. Smith (The reader may wonder if Mrs. Smith knew what her occupation would be while still onboard and if this is one of the many aspects of her life that she has hidden from the man she has seduced.)

If the reader wonders this, it comes from not reading very closely: "He did in fact know nothing about her but what she told herself, and this amounted to little more than three statements, which might or might not by true, -- that she had gone on the stage in opposition to her friends, -- that she had married an actor, who had treated her with great cruelty, -- and that he had died of drink."

She probably did know that she would return to the stage (if she needed to). She certainly told Caldigate that she had been an actress.

When John visits Mrs. Smith in Sydney, her first inquiry is about gold, and she is careful to maintain a pose:

She throws herself into his arms, declaring "So you have come! Oh, ny darling, Oh, my love." We get this reaction before she has any idea whether he has been successful."

She is clever enough because she wants to marry him. What is wrong with this?

Subject: Mrs Smith

Duffy Pratt's posting today on Mrs. Smith requires me to distinguish between 'dishonesty' and 'maneuvering.' If flirting were dishonest, we would all be scoundrels. The net effect of Mrs. Smith's 'maneuvers' is that she makes herself very attractive to John Caldigate. She appeals to erotic sensibilities, of course, but she also appeals to something burgeoning in him, something that I don't think Trollope fully examines. Anthony Monta's posting points to what's new in John Caldigate.

Is John Caldigate going to make a new life out in Australia, or isn't he? Is he putting Folking and England behind him, or isn't he? He hasn't decided. He will let his fortune do the deciding. For the moment (aboard ship), he plays two games at the same time, a classic - perhaps *the* classic - Trollope posture for a hero. On the one hand he pines after an ideal Hester. He doesn't spend a lot of time on this, I don't think, because as Trollope says somewhat later, there's no point in building castles in Spain if they don't even have imaginary foundations. On the other hand, John Caldigate is setting out for a new life in a new world - a world in which, as Trollope makes clear in a handful of chapters, no Trollope novel could ever be set. ('The Vicar of Nobble' - just imagine!)

Mrs. Smith appeals to the 'new life' side of John Caldigate's outlook. Duffy says that nothing is known against her. I think the point is rather that nothing is known *about* her - except that she 'scandalizes' Mrs. Crompton, who's in a position to know a thing or two. In the world of Trollopian/Victorian respectability (Trollope really does make this clear), truly nice people have credentials to that effect. They have letters of recommendation (real or figurative). One knows where they were born, who their parents were, and all the rest. Insofar as one doesn't know, one assumes, if not the worst, then the least. It is ever thus in *socially* upwardly-mobile societies.

John Caldigate is thinking of leaving the world of respectability behind, forever. On ship, that is, before he's actually seen Australia. In the new world, men and women can be friends without a lot of tutting. But John is not as advanced as he thinks he is. At the key moment in Mrs. Smith's 'maneuvers,' John can't help acting like the gentleman he was brought up to be - even if this gentlemanly behavior is not, au fond, truly gentlemanly.

RJ Keefe

From: "Robert Wright"
To: "Trollope Reading List"
Subject: What's wrong with Euphemia?
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997

So far we have seemed to concentrate on the extent to which Mrs Smith = has lured John Caldigate into her power, a beautiful though faded flower = with a powerful sexual attraction, whose ultimate goal is entrapment and = eventual disgrace to our hero.

We are first introduced to Mrs Smith with the words:

" Have you observed that woman in the brown straw hat?" Dick said to Caldigate, one morning, as they were leaning together on the forepart of the vessel against one of the pens in which the fowls were kept."

Trollope goes on to make us aware of the fact that Mrs Smith is not quite all she should be. What indeed was wrong with her, and why are we to believe she represented such a threat to Caldigate that even a paid employee of the shipping company, the captain, should feel it necessary to take time out to warn Caldigate of the fact he was about to disgrace himself.

The reasons are not persuasive ones.

1. Mrs Smith was not well dressed. The straw hat was old and battered. Her gown was poor.

2. She was travelling second class. She was not rich, and tells Dick she is going out to earn her bread.

3. She has been married, and although initially under the protection of the Compton family seemed not to have made a successful marriage.

4. She is good looking, and even in her ragged old hat and shoes not fit to be seen in, is prepared to approach two batchelor gentlemen and flirt with them.

5. She makes no attempt to be respectable. She does not put herself under the protection of another lady or gentleman, for example a sister a mother, or even a house maid.

6. There is a mystery about her which she almost seems to foster. She is clearly intelligent and well spoken, no longer a lady but having been one.

All these explanations can of course equally be applied to Caldigate and Shand. They themselves are not well dressed, deciding to appear as miners. They travel second class, and are not rich. They are going to earn their own bread, and are prepared to flirt with Mrs Smith.

They are evidently well educated and perceived to be gentlemen even though their appearance clearly differs from what might be acceptable.

There is also a mystery about them, which they do not seek to explain to other passengers.

Of course, a woman must take more care to be respectable than a man. The ladies in first class were quite ready to approach Caldigate, who was a handsome well mannered young man, and a gentleman. All the ladies in first class knew very well who he was, and some had spoken to him. They believed both men to be possessed of considerable means, and I suggest this was the reason why they became jealous of Mrs Smith, and found it a thing horrible to all of them that Caldigate should allow himself to be enticed into difficulties by such a creature as that Mrs Smith.

Euphemia is a character well drawn, but are we expected to believe that the thing became so serious that the captain was prepared to stick his neck out and become involved. It does not ring true, and reading John Caldigate for the second time in the last year, I find myself less at ease with some of the details of the story than I am entitled to be. Granted it is quite a good yarn, and the descriptions of mining operations in the colony of Australia make the book worthwhile as a pot boiler, suitable to be read on the train to work. But am I being unfair to Trollope? Why for example is Caldigate so ready to entrap himself, almost knowing what is about to happen at the close of the voyage on the Goldfinder? He already suspects he loves Hester Bolton. He knows what are the risks. Yet he seems so weak minded that with no real encouragement whatsoever apart from an attractive and mysterious woman, he seems prepared like a lemming to leap into the void and knowingly cause himself embarrassment and difficulty.

If I were to be uncharitable, I might almost guess the writer has made him act in this way merely for the purposes of the plot. But if this is so, having drawn Caldigate's character as a fairly strong and determined one, he might have given us a more persuasive account of why Mrs Smith was able to entrap him so easily, if indeed any entrapment took place at all.

Robert J Wright
Kensington London England

He should consider himself engaged to Julia Babington. He kissed Maria Shand, and she might consider this to mean something, but he does not. He has managed to escape these entanglements by leaving. Leaving should also be a convenient out for his entanglement with Mrs. Smith. The mines were not far enough from Sydney, but he might think that England will be.

So, my answer to your question: Experience has wrongly taught him that he can get away with this kind of behavior.


He thinks that Mrs. Smith is seedy, shabby, crass, tranistory, and unsavory. I disagree. She may turn out to be all of these things, but I don't think she has fully revealed herself to be so bad as yet.

He thinks that JC is weak and that Mrs. Smith is taking advantage of him. I agree to some extent. I don't think her taking advantage forecloses the possibility of her feeling a genuine affection for him. She clearly had the choice between JC and Shand. She prefers JC, though his future prospects (pun intended) are really no different than Shands.

She has hidden much about her past, but has been entirely straightforward about both her present position and her intentions. If she is a golddigger, does that make her any different than JC? She has to earn her living on her own -- what respectable options were available to women in that day??? I suppose she should have resigned herself to being a governess or a paid companion, if she had the credentials.

Caldigate, in his weakness, says that he likes to amuse himself with Mrs. Smith. He knows the dangers, everyone tells him what she is doing, including herself. He is taking advantage of her just as much as she is taking advantage of him. Shouldn't true love work to the mutual advantage of the lovers? ;-)


Re: The Vampirish Female and Colonel Osborne

"Mrs. Smith," the heartbreaker/homebreaker, has a parallel in a previous volume: Colonel Osborne in He Knew He Was Right. Both characters tread the outer limits of sexual discretion for specific reasons; and although those reasons are not identical, the two players coincide in the impact they have on their targets.

I just went back through some of the old discussions to see how Osborne was handled. It's interesting to me to note that the tone of moral disapproval directed toward Mrs. Smith is not found in the discussions of Osborne. A while back, mention was made of the "conventions" through which we view text and how those conventions filter that view of texts from the past. One convention that has survived almost intact from Trollope's time is a fascinated repulsion toward the vampish female. While the discussions of Osborne centered almost entirely on his effects on the characters around him, the discussion of Mrs. Smith centers on her character. Yet, the predatory Osborne was at least as well-drawn a character as Caldigate's frankly predatory shipmate.

I am always interested in the motivations which determine our views of individuals. In the modern state, we seem to find necessary a categorization of individual characters that was perhaps not needed nor known in times past. One of the main characteristics of Trollope's studies of characters is an emotional distance that allows him to maintain a benificent view even of those whom he does not particularly as a lack of passion. But the keen insight that cannot be escaped in Trollope's work is that unliked and/or unlikeable individuals are still human beings. Trollope is determinedly honest with himself in this regard.

A single fact, a single incident, can change our view, our self-defined "understanding" of a person's character in quite remarkable ways. Yet we are not often brought to caution by this realization, but rather are prone to carrying on in the same old patterns.

Michael Powe

If we can discern something of the author's intention, perhaps we will be coming closer to what it is we are trying to have an experience of.


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