Dr Thorne, Chapters 1 - 4
The Maligned Prologue; The Prologue: A Masterful Daring Story Rooted in Time, Memory, Culture, Circumstance; A New and Distinctly Different Book; Beatrice & Mary: Is it Gush, Is it Bearable?; The War of Wit Between Drs Fillgrave & Thorne -- in the Newspapers!; Wet Nurses; Dr Thorne's Fee; Don't Send for Dr Fillgrave; Dr Thorne as Trollope's Alter Ego

To Trollope-l

September 26, 1999

Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 1-3: Prologue: A Masterful Daring Story Rooted in Time, Memory, Culture, Circumstance

We open this third Barsetshire book with what have been possibly the most maligned opening chapters in any Victorian novel. There's no doubt it's partly Trollope's fault. I have repeatedly told my college students in classes where I ask them to do short talks, never apologise for yourself and never describe the talk you are about to give in dismal terms: as you frame or describe yourself, so many people will frame or describe you And I tell them lots of people don't get irony. While I don't think Trollope is ironic, merely uncomfortable as for the first time he takes a deep breath and prepares himself for la longue haleine (one that will take this plus three more books), I have heard and come across many readers who accuse these opening chapters of tedium because they tell and don't show.

I find that distinction unreal. Lines in Trollope pointed out as telling not showing are often lines which move along the folds of a character's mind as seen by the narrator, and along the narrator's consciousness too, viz.,

'Let it not be thought our doctor was a perfect character. No, indeed, most far from perfect. He had within him an inner, stubborn pride, which made him believe himself to be better and higher than those around him, and this from some unknown cause which he could hardly explain to himself (Houghton Mifflin Dr Thorne, introd EBowen, p. 26).

The narrator goes on to follow Dr Thorne's thoughts through the half-prism of the narrator's nuanced description.

Far from deprecating these chapters they are strong and necessary, indeed the very point of the book in some ways, part of the basis of Trollope's art. Trollope's method is not to take universal types, but to pull character out of particular circumstance, milieu, and class, to let them emerge also as a result of historical forces. The Macdermots could only have taken place in the late 1830s in Ireland; The Kellys and La Vendée are precisely set; The Warden was written as a result of an immediate controversy but that derived from how reality and not documents had changed over the centuries. Dr Thorne takes us into a private smaller world, one of a particular interlocking group of families in a single place; that's a new move on Trollope's part.

Rooting these characters in time, telling their history is the only way to get at how people are what they are. Memory is reality. How can we understand why the present Squire Gresham is such a disappointed, frustrated man, why Frank must marry money, without bringing memories forward? George Eliot does the same thing in a number of openings in her books; I can think of many Trollope books which give us opening histories (The Belton Estate, Lady Anna, Ayala's Angel); the difference is after Dr Thorne Trollope does't apologise to us for it.

Chapters 1-3 should have been labelled Prologue. We are getting to know what events made Dr Thorne what he is today, and what his nature was that made his react to them in the way he did. This definition includes high humorous retellings in the manner of Fielding: the flame war of Dr Fillgrave and Dr Thorne which is personally and professionally motivated. I love Dr Thorne for his not being a phony, but I know that such kinds of caste arrogance as the medical doctors practised, probably did bring them patients, as today there are people who like to think they are necessarily getting a better doctor or procedure if they pay more. (Trollope makes a joke out of that in Dr Wortle's School where he says if only Wortle would have charged £50 he would have been truly respected and gotten even more pupils). The droll tone in which the doctor's war is described is a carry-over from The Warden and BT. It includes the happy comedy of the doctor readying his home for the joyful introduction of his young niece:

'The doctor painted -- for the first time since the commencement of his tenantcy -- he papered, he carpeted, and curtained, and mirrored, and linened, and blanketed, as though a Mrs Thorne with a good fortune were coming home to-morrow; and all for a girl of twelve years old. "And how", said Mis Umbleby, to her friend, Miss gushing, "How did he find out what to buy?" as though the doctor had been brought up like a wild beast, ignorant of the nature of tables and chairs, and with no more developed ideas of drawing-room drapery than a hippopotamos' (p. 35).

Still the droll and mock-heroic distancing tone is not characteristic of most of Dr Thorne and certainly not characteristic of how the narrator tells the events of Mary's illegitimate birth, the murder of her father, and imposed exile of her mother. The history of Henry Thorne and Mary and Roger Scatcherd is rather dramatically and emotionally told. There are traces of Biblical language; the tone is firm, rotound; the cadences just right. The literal events of it seem to be a reconfiguration of similar events in other Trollope novels, especially the brother's rage and murder of the seducer by hitting him with a big stick (this recalls the core act of The Macdermotsclosely). There is a full-throated emotion just held in check as the narrator tells this story of Mary Scatcherd, a young strong-minded woman lied to, seduced, impregnated by Henry Thorne, our Dr Thorne's brother. Roger Scatcherd, her brother, becomes so enraged he rushes off and attacks Henry, a apparently blatantly insouciant seducer. Henry's skull is crushed by the attack; a trial ensues in which Roger is convicted of manslaughter and given a 6 month prison sentence.

Most readers will probably be as non-judgemental about Mary Scatcherd as our narrator, and the young Dr (Thomas) Thorne's determination to do the right thing by everyone marks him out as our good hero. Even his pride is attractive as it is part of his desire to be independent and strong on his own terms, and derives from a refusal to be disloyal to a brother, even a profigate brother. On the other hand, maybe some of us will find ourselves at odds when our narrator asserts that a six month prison sentence will be regarded as too severe for a murder by most of his readers (p. 23). I am in general opposed to capital punishment, but unlike Trollope I do not find justification for such an act in the fact that a brother has the right to punish the man who sullied the honour of his sister and family. Here we see Trollope as a man with roots in an earlier family and reputation-based notion of honour which equates it for a woman with her virginity and with a man for his willingness to beat someone else up who he deems has 'shamed' the family name or shamed him in public. Also today in the US at least among many people illegitimacy has lost its stigma.

All that said I think the basic emotions of the history of what happened 20 years ago are still fundamentally ours, and the sequence powerful. I was particularly moved by the words with which young Dr Thorne offered to take Mary Scatcherd's child as his own, and the climax of Chapter 2 which tells of how the young woman he loved was not brave or in love enough to marry someone caught up in a sordid murder trial who has no independent income or solid connections to fall back upon

then indeed the young lady's friends thought that she was injudicious, and the young lady had not spirit enough or love enough, to be disobedient. In those stormy days of the trial she told Dr Thorne, that perhaps it would be wise that they should not see each other any more.

Dr Thorne so counselled, at such a moment, -- so informed then, when he most required comfort form his love, at once swore loudlythat he agreed with her. He rushed forth with a bursting heart, and said to himself that the world was bad, all bad. He saw the lady no more, and if I am rightly informed, never made matrimonial overtures again (p. 29).

The first time I read that I was unbearably moved, and remembered it ever after. I don't know why. Maybe it was because Trollope convinced me Thomas Thorne had endured so much. Or the restraint of the indirect language. That Trollope tells rather than shows it, and in the impersonal third person. Ah, to be rejected out of hand. I wanted him never to marry again. He should show the world he didn't need it; it had not bowed and conquered him.

Less emotionally told, but just as dramatic is the story of the present Squire Gresham. Trollope offers us a nutshell of an explanation for why Gresham has become a worried man. When his father, John Newbold Gresham, died,

'it was accordingly decided, at a meeting held at the George and Dragon at Barchester, that Frank Gresham should fill his father's shoes.

But Frank Gresham could not fill his father's shoes (p. 7).

I remembered this phrase for a long time after first reading this book too. It carried conviction. It too is quiet.This Frank, now our present Squire has allowed his large income and solvent estate to to tempt him into debts much larger than that income could ever have supported. He let his and Lady Arabella de Courcy, his wife's ambition take him into two more elections than he should have, altogether three which he really couldn't afford. He forgot that what was important was getting people to think he was one of them. He has not been able to stop his wife from going to London and living high there; half in spite, half out of a desire to get some enjoyment out of life, he also took on the expense of the country hunt for years. So nowadays his living expenses eat up his principle and land. The result of all this is he has lost the respect of his peers, and in a daily way allows his small-minded foolishly snobbish and competitive wife to make his life a continual misery.

Equally bad -- for our story, our secondary hero (or primary if we prefer), young Frank Gresham will inherit an estate badly in debt. The father or Squire is actually blamed more for his condition than the narrator blames Roger Scatcherd who after all rose to become a wealthy railroad magnate after getting out of prison. He is depicted as a man who doesn't understand his own or the psychology of others very well; he looks down on our Dr Thorne. Yet he needs Dr Thorne, for Thorne helps his family medically, economically (secures loans for him from Roger Scatcherd) and by his firm tactful fellowship.

There is so much said in these three chapters. We have a depiction of an older county in desuetude but beautiful partly because of it, a county nonetheless proud and full of life and its own rich customs. The opening nostalgic bit about the inn hits the right note: Trollope is beginning to understand what is guaranteed to please his reader. We get the detailed map of Barsetshire, East and West for the first time. They have been artificially divided and now the people in the two halves begin to look upon themselves as having different or opposed differences. A political lesson here.

We have the politics of Whig versus Tory which is show to be not a matter of people on behalf of the vulnerable and powerless and people on behalf of hierarchy and money. No the difference between the two groups seems to be that Whigs derive their money from business or have not had that money that long. Tories are landed aristocrats, and perhaps their paternalism will do as much for tenants as the Whigs's liberal policies (intened to make money for the bourgeois after all). We see the irrational basis on which the ordinary person joins a party: his father belonged to it. That times change and circumstances might have for him does not come to the average voter's mind though that's what moved the present Squire from being a true blue Tory like his father to a wishy-washy half Tory, half Whig in cohoots with his wife's arrogant useless family of drones, the de Courcys.

Like our narrator I have saved our heroine for last. The young Mary Thorne, a bastard with no money. No history or family to back her up -- just her uncle who paradoxically is such a firm believer in lineage. Who would have thought it? And because of her uncle's pride brought up as an equal to the De Courcy girls, one of whom has become her close friend and apparent equal. In education they are; in wit Mary is much sharper. In fact Mary can embarrass Beatrice De Courcy by enacting the supplication and obeisance Beatrice likes from others but wants offered up subtly.

This book is off to a wonderful start.

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] Doctor Thorne : Chs 1-3: Prologue.

From: "Judy Warner"

My reaction to the opening chapters was to take the author's apology as tongue-in-cheek--perhaps it's a reminder that this is a story, and gives a sense that we're now comfortably in the company of a story teller and ready to be entertained, but there's a digression that will set the scene and also introduce us to the narrator as well. He sets the stage. I love these openings--I especially remember the beginning of the Vicar of Bullhampton. I believe I've read that there was a Trollope revival around WW2--I think it's passages like this that are so reassuring.

Subject: [trollope-l]Dr Thorne, Chs 1-3: Prologue, A New Book

From: Sigmund Eisner

The prologue to Dr. Thorne, as Ellen says, is a delight. I don't quite feel that Trollope should not apologize for the shortcomings of his tale. These primary apologies highlight the coming novel just as much as comedy in an unexpected place highlights the grim tragedy of Macbeth. The lower you are when you start to climb a hill, the higher the hill seems.

The characters of Dr. Thorne are all new to Trollope's reading audience. Although there is peripheral mention of such Barchester standbys as the Thornes of Ullathorne, the Dean of Barchester Cathedral, and the Archdeacon, we sail happily away with new people, that is the Greshams, Scatcherds, and Thornes. Although Dr. Thorne is, in a sense, a continuation of Barchester Towers, it is a new book, and we should savor it.


Subject: [trollope-l] Dr Thorne, Chs 1-3: Prologue

From: "Robert J Wright"

I also think the opening chapters of Dr Thorne are good, despite the author's apologies and his own appearance (again) at the start of chapter two.

My confession is that I was listening to Timothy West reading from "Cover to Cover" as I was cooking duck this evening. I was struck by how often the son of a successful man fails in any attempt to fill his father's footsteps.

One might almost add that it is undesirable in most cases for a son to succeed his father in any family business. He most often disappoints. Perhaps that is because the son never had to strive against all odds as did his father. Too much fell into his lap. The result was that he did not value money in the same way. He took it for granted. Nor does he value and nurture those from whom the money is to be made, but takes them for granted as well.

The other aspect of the opening which struck me was the open admission of seduction. This surely is rare. Sometimes we can deduce sexual relations outside marriage, or only speculate. I do not recall many instances in Trollope where seduction is so clearly stated. Mudie's eat your heart out.

Robert Wright

From: Dagny

I quite enjoyed the style of the opening chapters of Dr. Thorne; and do agree with Ellen about Trollope's apology for the boring bits. By now I have gotten used to the author stepping into the narrative and telling us things, but when I read those phrases I wondered why he was telling us this, didn't he want us to like the opening of the book.

Just a few days ago it was mentioned to me by someone that enjoyed The Warden and Barchester Towers that he had never been able to get through Dr. Thorne. Perhaps he took Trollope at his word and gave up right then.

My only difference of opinion with Ellen's entire post comes with the relationship of the current Squire and Dr. Thorne. I'm not sure that the Squire does look down on Dr. Thorne. I believe he only thinks he is "supposed" to and doesn't in fact. Other readers could get a different connotation from:

"But the squire of Greshamsbury was a great man at Greshamsbury; and it behoved him to maintain the greatness of his squirehood when discussing his affairs with the village doctor. So much he had at any rate learnt from his contact with the De Courcys."

I think that in his heart he really enjoys the Dr. and considers him a boon companion, and perhaps an astute person.


To Trollope-l

September 28, 1999

Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 1-3: Prologue

I agree with Sig it is significant that Trollope has introduced a new group of personages and for a time dismissed all the others. This is a new book. We are taken to another area of Barsetshire, and another tiny world of people delineated.

It's also no longer ecclesiastical satire: like Mrs Gaskell's Wives and Daughters we have a country doctor and squire. The mood is dramatic with the comedy as yet on the edges. The characters are not distanced from us, not caricatures. While BT opened with telegrams and the speed of modern government and changes, here we have a nostalgic paean on behalf of the world before railways.

I agree with Robert the seduction is treated explicitly and in some ways unusually graphically: though in The Macdermots the sex is closer to taking place on stage through fade-outs, and hinting paragraphs, and here the sex takes place off-stage. It's the violence and aftermath we get. On the other hand, unlike Dickens, there are so many liaisons outside marriage in Trollope, and many in which the woman is not innocent, was not promised marriage, was not a virgin. Think of the couples in Sir Harry Hotspur, Is He Popenjoy?, George Vavasour and Jane in CYFH?. And then it is more graphic and on-stage almost in An Eye for An Eye. There's Trollope explicit argument on behalf of not exiling a prostitute forever in The Vicar of Bullhampton.

Robert makes interesting points about the relationships between fathers and son. When we lived in NYC, my husband and I visited a girlfriend of mine and her husband. Her husband's father had been a US senator, had done all sorts of things, and my husband remarked he was a guy driven by his father's achievements. For the first time my husband could see that someone with the father who is supersuccessful can sometimes have as much difficulties through life and the son with the father whom he is ashamed of. Trollope was ashamed of his father in part, though highly sympathetic to him.

I do agree with Dagny that Squire Gresham respects the Dr Thorne and relies on his friendship. At the same time he has a brusque way about him when Thorne is talking, the kind of fleeting slight signs of disrespect and dismissal that go with Gresham feeling the difference in their 'stations'.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Re: Dr Thorne: Ch 4: Time Begins to Amble Forward

Maybe Dagny's friend was put off by Trollope's self- conscious apology. It is bad rhetorical technique to apologise for a speech just as you are about to give it. Peope take you at your valuation of yourself. I suggest Trollope does this because this is the first book of many rooted in memory and time. The introductory chapters to many novels (The Belton Estate and John Caldigate come to mind) give us the same backward abysm of time scene setting.

I see the difference between Chs 1-3 and 4 as time moving backwards and then in stasis as all is pictured for us, and then forwards again in great leaps and bounds; now we will move forward in tiny steps.

The title of the chapter is 'The Lessons from Courcy Castle". The apparently respectful term is ironic. They are lessons all right, but not moral ones. The chapter is set up in two ways: first we are taught in emphatic terms that Frank Gresham has fallen in love, even if it is puppy love, with Mary Thorne. The narrator gives the line a separate paragraph to make us pay attention: 'But, alas! alas! Frank Gresham had already made a fool of himself' (Houghton Mifflin Dr Thorne, ed EBowen, p 45). Who is it? Why Mary of course who has no money (or seems not to have any).

We are shown Frank and his father, Frank and his mother: a decent half-broken resigned man who hadn't the full self-definition and sense of self that characterised his father. His mother is mean and small but loving. This pair is contrasted with the De Courcys who would make anyone look worse.

But it's not just Frank we are to get to know: it's Mary. I am made uncomfotable by Mary's way of teasing Beatrice. She bends her head before the other's 'rod'; she kneels. All this is supposed in satire, but I find her supplicatoin before Beatrice cloying, and her jokes about her lowness are not funny given the depth of feeling that emanates from Mary.

There's also the squire in his negotiations first with his wife, then with Dr Thorne telling Dr Thorne about yet further negotiations. He must give up the title-deeds. Of course he can't see that.

There are some good realistic descriptions, circumstances, and a full feel to this opener.

Ellen Moody

Howard Merkin replied:

Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 1-3: Prologue

From: "Howard Merkin"

I can't see where Mary's teasing of Beatrice is either cloying or unfunny. What this section shows to me is how close the two are, without any barriers appearing because of what the reader might consider to be a class difference. I simply see this as part of the scene-setting for the rest of the novel.

I do accept what Ellen says about the drop in Trollope's income. I should be interested to know where I can find the series of articles by Sutherland on Trollope's income etc. she mentions, since I am always interested in financial surveys of people's lives.

Howard Merkin.

To Trollope-l

September 30, 1999

Re: Dr Thorne: Beatrice & Mary: Is it Gush; Is it Bearable; The Not-so-Merry War of Wit between Drs Fillgrave & Thorne -- in the Newspapers

In response to Howard, People often respond to texts differently and one person's response will simply be different from that of another depending on their different histories and natures. Probably I have a distaste for emotionalism and dislike anything that smacks of self-abasement which comes from lower status.

Still I'll say why I find this and other scenes between Mary and Beatrice unfunny and cloying with an analysis in order to make for talk and interest.

I cringe, find it distressing and embarrassing when Mary puts her neck down low enough so Beatrice can step on it. I cringe for her. She is just pointing out to us -- or her creator, Trollope, is -- how in fact Beatrice ultimately regards her from point of view of their positions. Beatrice is against Mary marrying Frank later in the book because it is inconceivable to her her brother would marry such a girl. What kind of girl? One beneath them. What seems to Mary and maybe to Trollope a mild sort of rebuke is to me an excruciating gesture.

It's cloying when at the same time Mary rushes to put her arms about Beatrice and declare she loves her like her own arms. Sentimentality is when we avoid the real; it is a substitute for the real which people fear. If Mary has worked out just how she is regarded, she would not then cover the other girl with kisses. Yuk. Who would cover someone with kisses who we know looks at us as lower, as therefore unacceptable? Are we to take it that Mary is that desperate. But she is presented as otherwise spunky, with real self-esteem.

I would like to see Trollope nodding in this scene, pleasing the crowd of his young female readers who like to imagine they love their friends and their friends love them. Maybe they liked to gush before one another and of course themselves. Maybe I can't bear gush. Gush is a sign someone is hiding something. They are removing themselves from some reality in their minds. In the US today this is trivialized as smooching which is seen as an aspect of networking.

There are critics who suggest the emotional scenes between Mary and Beatrice are put there because Trollope has to fill a void made by the impossiblity of his presenting Mary's love for Frank and his for her in anything but delicate and rare moments. I dunno.

Having pointed out where I would like to think our Homer nods, I'll say how much I enjoyed Trollope's depiction of the 'merry war' between Drs Fillgrave and Thorne. This combat was another place in the novel I remembered for a long time afterwards. I had yet when I was 21 (when I first read this book) to understand the harder truths behind this flame war in public. Trollope depicts it at a distance; presents Fillgrave and Thorne from the point of view of someone slightly amused by their mutual helpless to stop flaming one another in public. The piece is long so I will content myself with quoting my favorite paragraph:

It is sometimes becoming enough for a man to wrap himself in the dignified toga of silence, and proclaim himself indifferent to public attacks; but it is a sort of dignity which it is very difficult to maintain. As well might a man, when stung to madness by wasps, endeavour to sit in his chair without moving a muscle, as endure with patience and without reply the courtesies of a newspaper opponent. Dr Thorne wrote a third letter, which was too much for medical flesh and blood to bear. Dr Fillgrave answered it, not, indeed, in his own name, but in that of a brother doctor; and then the war raged merrily. It is hardly too much to say that Dr Fillgrave never knew another happy hour' (Houghton Mifflin Dr Thorne, ed EBowen, pp. 31-32)

I wonder how it is that Trollope turns the vexations, miseries and ordeals of characters in books into vivid merriment for us? Maybe what makes the above and the whole sequence of paragraphs vivid and memorable is the sting in them. These two characters are stinging from within and thus stinging one another (wasps), and we have know such stinging ourselves.

Cheers to all,

Jill Spriggs now joined in once again.

From: Oldbuks@aol.com

Like many of our listmembers, this is not the first read of Dr. Thorne for me. Like most very good books, this reveals much on the second read that I missed the first.

Interesting that Frank Gresham the elder married an aristocratic wife that proved to be too much for him, as did Adolphus Crosbie her niece (Arabella and Alexandrina; again, both names that begin and end with "A"). Both were heedless spenders, both hammered it into their commoner husbands' heads how fortunate they had been to marry into the aristocracy.

On page two of my Penguin edition I see the Duke of Omnium mentioned as one of the "two great Whig magnates" to be found in West Barsetshire. Am I correct in feeling that this is the first mention of the Duke we will hear so much of, in future books?

In Chapter Three there was an incident I do not remember reading before, which is significant in understanding the temperament of Mary Thorne later in this book. Lady Arabella apparently was quite chuffed by the catch she had made in a French governess, fresh from Courcy Castle. The governess turned out to be a thief and when detected in her larcenous pursuits, planted the telltale locket on a servant girl, a daughter of one of the farmers on the estate. Outrage and recriminations were the order of the day, until Mary Thorne dared the wrath of Lady Arabella by defending the English girl, and insisting the French governess was the real thief. She convinced Frank Gresham, then "the potentates of the parish" (p. 43), and capped her triumph with a confession from the culprit. This understandably made her the heroine of the parish, and just as understandably, nettled the lady of the house (no one likes to be proven wrong, especially by a mere chit of a girl, and that girl a mere nobody).

The girl who would brave the disapprobation of the Great Greshams with a confident assertion of an injustice being done, was a girl of a quiet but steely strength. This is no Mary Lowther (from _The Vicar of Bullhampton_). I cannot imagine her being seduced, as was her mother; Mary Thorne resembled her uncle in being strong minded and willing to buck the consensus of the crowd. I think Mary Thorne is my favorite heroine yet (in the progression of the novels; Madame Max Goesler is still tops in my opinion); this girl, young as she is, is nobody's fool. So, I did not find it difficult to stomach the faux humility she displayed in chapter four; it was as obviously sarcastic to me, as it was to Beatrice. This is a proud young woman, and she would never stand to be regarded as a second class bridesmaid; better to be none at all.

Jill Spriggs

She wrote again quickly:

Re: Dr Thorne: Frank the younger

From: Oldbuks@aol.com Frank Gresham reminds me a little of another feckless young heir; Peregrine Orme. It would not surprise me to find Frank also enjoyed shooting rats. Frank did have better luck with romance than did his more noble compatriot.

Jill Spriggs

Subject: [trollope-l] Dr Thorne: Beatrice & Mary, the Drs Fillgrave & Thorne

From: Dagny

I can see both Howard and Ellen's point of view regarding the gushy scene between Beatrice and Mary. In the beginning I found it hilariously funny. But it went on too long for me and in the end I began to be rather disgusted by it and was thinking "enough is enough."

An aside: I say again, in my illness, please do not send Dr. Fillgrave to attend on me.


Subject: Re: [trollope-l] A few thoughts on the first chapters

From: "Natalie C. H. Tyler"

Some of the things that struck me in the first four chapters included the assertion that Lady Arabella felt that "she would by degrees sink into nothing if she allowed herselt to sit down, the mere wife of a mere country squire." It helps to understand that pressures that she would have created for her husband and for her children also. No wonder her oldest daughter is so bloodless about her intended marriage with Mr. Moffatt. It seems that blood and money are the only two commodities of real worth to Lady A's point of view.

I was interested in Trollope's assertion that "Choose out the ten leading men of each great European people. Choose them in France, in Austria, Sardinia, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Spain (?), and then select the ten in England who names are best known as those of leading statesmen; the result will show in which country there still exists the closest attachment to, the sincerest trust in, the old feudal and now so-called landed interests."

I wondered whose point of view he was representing here and why the question mark after Spain?

Does anyone know the correct pronunciation of Gresham?

Also Mary was "farmed out" for the first 13 years of her life at a farm-house and then at school. Although the Doctor visited her frequently, I wonder how much this is typical of families in the 1830s and 1840s? When did the policy of sending a baby out to a wet nurse change?


Re: Wet Nurses

This is probably in the next section of the book--but not a spoiler. We already know that Lady Arabella did not nurse her children. However, in this case the wet nurse came to them and lived with them at the manor house. What really got me was that this wet nurse appeared to be from a stable of same kept by her wealthy relatives. I'm very curious as to the ins and outs of this "having them on-hand." Did they happen to be wives of tenants or something else?

As an aside, Honore de Balzac was sent, immediately upon his birth to a farm to be wet-nursed and raised. Two years later his younger sister joined him. I believe he stayed there at least four years, and was only home briefly prior to being sent away to school. This would have been France, 1799-1803.


Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] A few thoughts on the first chapters

From: RansomT@aol.com

I am intrigued by the status of doctors versus apothecaries as depicted by Trollope in chapter 3 of Dr Thorne.

' The guinea fee, the principle of giving advice and of selling no medicine, the great resolve to keep a distinct barrier between the physician and the apothecary, and, above all, the hatred of the contamination of a bill, were strong in the medical mind in Barsetshire.'

Am I right in believing that the guinea fee was standard for all visits. If so what happened to the poor? It appears that Dr Thorne was considered to have lowered himself by 'positively putting together common powders for rural bowels, or spreading vulgar ointments for agriculural ailments' (OUP World's Classics pp 30, 32).

It seems that the practice of medicine was governed by strict social rules. I would welcome some discussion on this. What were the differences in qualification between medical doctors and apothecaries for example?

I believe, in accordance with other reading I have done, that it was considered normal in manyb families in France to farm out a child for the first four years of its life.

To Trollope-l

Re: Dr Thorne as Trollope's Alter Ego

Although I'm sure many of us can think of characters who appear in Trollope's novels before Dr Thorne and who seem closely to embody a number of aspects of Trollope's inward experiences as a boy and young man as he himself explicitly outlines it in his An Autobiography, I'm wondering if Dr Thorne is not the first alter ego for Trollope in his oeuvre which he would not be embarrassed to acknowledge. He is the first alter ego who would be, whatever his flaws and however unconventional some of his attitudes, socially acceptable. Perhaps this connection could help explain why Dr Thorne seems to take off in the direction of the tender. In this novel Trollope can explore painful emotions and realities, conflicts on grounds that are English and middle class because his alter ego is one he knows others will accept. He can ground the novel in this character's vision of life.

This is not to say that other characters are not equally centrally Trollope -- and it's clear to me he was aware of this connection with himself. Thady Macdermot of The Macdermots comes to mind; in Ayala's Angel Tom Tringle seems to stand for aspects of Trollope himself. But the books cannot be built around them, and they are kept at a distance from us.

Ellen Moody

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Page Last Updated 11 January 2003