Truth and Falsehood; Lord Petty Bag?; More on Griselda; Who is Lord Dumbello's father?; The Chaldicotes set and Mrs. Proudie; Framley Parsonage: The Gods and Goddesses; Political Analogies; Framley Parsonage: Griselda and Lord Dumbello; Politics, Chaldicotes and Mrs Proudie; Dramatic Readings of Anthony Trollope: Timothy West, David Case, Donalda Peters; Period Piece by Gwen Raverat; Raverat, Darwin, Trollope, and Austen: The Same Milieu

To Trollope-l

January 23, 2000

Re: Framley Parsonage, Chs 19-24: Truth and Falsehood

As subject matter truth and falsehood are at the center of most good books, so it's banal to point out that they are central to FP. Still I can't find a better pairing to cover the thematic ground of this week's two instalments. Further, Trollope explores the opposition or continuum between truth and falsehood in life in an adult way.

For example, it could be said that Josiah Crawley is a figure of utter integrity, of solidity, but in the scenes we have we see that he carries his truth-telling too far. He will not unbend from the highest of ideals for a moment, whether or not they are appropriate to his circumstances or the needs of his children and wife. We can also see that his intense refusal to accept anything the world will not give him as earnings derives from his exacerbated pride and shame. The Robarts' ladies take on the role of sneaks when they come to Crawley's house, but they are sneaks in a good cause (Penguin FP, Ch 8, pp. 267-74). There are books on how necessary lying, deviations from the truth, taking what the world does not say you have earned, and so are part of our every day lives. We all accept how necessary tact sometimes is, even if it leads us into lies, but the lying and deviations from independence of everyday life are often not as obviously justified by the morality that is preached to us.

This theme of truth as what is not really wanted may be seen in when Mrs Harold Smith approaches Miss Dunstable with the absolute truth about Nathaniel Sowerby's motives for wanting to marry her. It may be that in principle Miss Dunstable detests lies, and if Sowerby pretended to love her, he would not be able to win her hand in marriage, because she would see through him, and she would use as her excuse his lying to her about his motives. However, this does not mean that the truth pleases her. People may in principle say they want to be told about how others feel about them, but when what is to be told pains them, they are angered. Miss Dunstable does want the man who marries her to love her; to be sure that he is marrying her for love, she wants someone who is 'indifferent to money' (Ch 24, p. 300). Mrs Smith says there is no such person. Miss Dunstable counters then she doesn't want to marry at all.

This is not to say that Framley Parsonage gives us any simple advice that we must always colour the truth with tactful kindness or deviations or that we must not strive to remain independent of others. For we have some contrasting chapters this week which show us how dangerous it is to lie to oneself, to accept lies from others, to live by continually deviating from the truth. Sowerby gets through life by telling people what he knows they want to hear. The lesson Mark has yet to learn is that safety for him as a married man on a small income is to remain independent of wealthier men, to live within and on his income even if it means doing without, living a dull unvaried life, submitting to the domination of a woman (Lady Lufton). Mark thinks he has cleared his name in front of Lord Lufton and can now take his prebendary without anyone suspecting there has been a quid-pro-quo, but he fails to understand that the tiniest hint will be read by others who are concerned as showing he is bought and paid for. Lufton does not fail to connect the 'hint about the horse' with Mark's new place and added income (ch 19, p. 247).

Part of the presentation of this theme is Trollope's idea that people see everything out of their own perspective. We hear what we can hear given our own interests and passions. This is a favorite inference of his throughout his books. So Lord Lufton will read Mark in terms of his own relationship with Sowerby. Not fair, but what people do. Miss Dunstable hears Mrs Smith ouf of a corner of her heart which is hurt and bitter at the way she is accepted because she is so rich. Not fair thinks Mrs Smith. Mrs Smith though responds to Mr Smith out of her psychology and life experience: she is a sister first, an ambitious woman second.

Lady Lufton is emerging as a partly blind woman. She can see Mark's deviations clearly enough. However, she cannot see what Griselda is or that her ideas of what love is needed as the basis of a marriage are not her sons. Her son wants more than a sexy object.

As old or tired as these themes seem, they are worked out so refreshingly and with real subtle nuance and piquancy. The chapter where Lucy gives away her heart by her sudden bitterness at Fanny's insisting Lucy listen to the probability (as Fanny sees it) that Lord Lufton will marry Griselda is very good. The scene where Sowerby holds his own against Mark and Lufton is superb. Sowerby maintains just the right facade of cheer and confidence; he has also retrieved Lord Lufton's bill. The thinking reader will ask, How did he do that? Will Mark have to countersign yet another bill? He goes to his banker to pay Sowerby for the horse.

I am continually aware that this is not one of Trollope's later books, but a relatively early one. There is no sense of tiredness. The dialogue and gestures and costumes and landscape details are just right: nothing too coarse, nothing too generalised, all believable, down to Griselda sitting staring into the fire saying nothing because she has nothing to say -- except the truth that Lord Lufton doesn't care for her. The girl has the cunning instinct of the grasping animal she is.

I have but one criticism to make of this week's chapters: 'The Triumph of the Giants' seems to me heavy-handed. This is Trollope's first venture into picturing for us Parliamentary politics and he resorts to vague analogies with Gods and Giants. The whole thing is tedious and somewhat mystifying. I don't know enough about the politics of the moment. Perhaps Trollope unravels this strained metaphor into an allegory because he didn't want to name names or describe a current political situation too directly? At any rate there was a rare moment of tedium for me as I tried to remember which side the Giants stood for and which side the Gods.

And I am still wondering why Trollope uses the phrase 'Lord Petty Bag'? Is this supposed to show the veniality and pettiness of a typeical cabinet office. The word 'bag' is the venal part: Mr Smith is like someone who can put his hand in the bag of plums for himself and others.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: Chapters 19 - 24

From: Sigmund Eisner

Again, I am impressed by Ellen's posting in which she discusses the lying, the truth, the half lies, and the diplomacy in this week's assignment in Framley Parsonage. Unlike Ellen, however, I was favorably impressed with Trollope's parallel of the gods and the giants (in Chapters 20 and 21), especially the gods. Apparently no one went to Harrow who hated it more and retained more of his instruction than did Trollope. His parallel to the gods is downright Homeric. Homer used the gods as metaphors for the day to day events in his narrations. For instance, when Homer tells, in The Iliad, us that Apollo unleashed his bow and slaughtered thousands of the Achaeans, Homer is telling us that a plague hit the Greek army. Plagues have harrassed mankind throughout history. But it is Homer who uses metaphor to tell us that a plague happened. Trollope uses the same metaphor when he discusses the contest between the two leading parties who are contending for a majority in Parliament and consequently the leadership of the country. The gods and the giants are way above you and me. They fight with each other, and the best thing you and I can do is hide our heads. If we don't hide our heads, we suffer as poor Harold Smith suffered when he was bounced from the Cabinet after the shortest of all terms as a Cabinet officer. The metaphor is a good one. Trollope, I think, is having a bit of fun with us when he uses it. But, as Ellen hinted, it is done with the skill and facility that only Trollope, among the many products of Harrow, was able to manipulate.

Sig

Gene Stratton replied to Sig:

Sig, it's also interesting that Trollope uses Gods for the Whigs and Titans for the Conservatives, showing his belief that the Conservatives have had their day, but the Whigs will ultimately overthrow them and control the future.

Also, Ellen mentioned the office of Petty Bag. Trollope uses this because there was such an office in the Court of the Chancery. However, the head of this office was by no means a cabinet position.

Gene Stratton
gwlit@worldnet.att.net

From: "Catherine Crean"
Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: More on Griselda

From: "Catherine Crean"

There are so many thing to talk about in this weeks reading of Framley Parsonage. I would like to make a few comments on Griselda Grantly. In this week's installment we learn that the ice maiden does have a few passions, and odd ones at that. I was surprised at her mentioning Lucy Robarts to Lord Lufton. A bitchy streak? Later, when Mrs Grantly is explaining the political goings on, all Griselda cares about is the possibility of snubbing the Proudie girls if her father becomes an archbichop. We see the first of several references to Griselda's concern about clothing. After the majestic Lady Lufton tries to thaw the ice maiden out in front of the fireplace in my lady's private sitting room, Griselda leaves (unthawed) to check on the wear and tear of her ball gown. Surprisingly, Griselda loves to dance, which seems a bit out of character. Trollope paints Griselda with few brush strokes, yet how vivid she is! Was there ever a more fully realized portrait of "vis inertiae"? I love Trollope's acerbic aside about Griselda in the scene between Griselda and her mother. They have been discussing the Archdeacon's possible advancement and lording it over the Proudies. Trollope (don't have the book with me now) commends Griselda for her interest in the church.

Catherine Crean

Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Who is Lord Dumbello's father?

From: "Catherine Crean" I understand that the Lady Hartletop, Lord Dumbello's mother, is the mistress of the Duke of Omnium. There are hints about the relationship in Framely Parsonage and more in the Palliser novels. Who is Lord Dumbello's father? Is it possible that his father is the Duke of Omnium? If this is so, how does it affect our reading of the book.

Later in the book, the Duke extends himself a great deal for Lord Dumbello. Is there a reason for this, other a wish than to indulge his mistress's son? Is Lord Dumbello the duke's son also? There is not any evidence of such a relationship, but it is an intriguing possibility. Do we ever hear of Lady Hartletop's husband, or her other children?

Catherine Crean

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: More on Griselda

From: "Judy Warner"

I was surprised that Griselda was so perceptive and sure that LL has no interest in her. I would have predicted that she might think all men were in love with her--but she's much more accurate and less willing to be misled than her mother and Lady L. I have a hard time picturing her though -- I can't decide who to cast in my Masterpiece Theatre of the mind -- any ideas anyone. Beautiful, statue - like, slow moving. Statuesque has acquired a different meaning these days.

Judy Warner

Sig replied to Judy:

Judy: Not statuesque, but fraily beautiful and like a statue, Emily Mortimer would be superb for the role. If you saw her mostly silent, poignant sadness in Sharpe's Sword, you'd know what I mean. Daughter of a famous father, she'll be a top star one of these days, and she can act, too.

Gene Stratton
gwlit@worldnet.att.net

Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 05:54:14 +0000
From: "Angela Richardson"
Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: Re: [trollope-l] FP and politics

From: "Angela Richardson"

I think the Gods and Giants section must be one of those points where the Englishness of Trollope surfaces. I have to confess to Catherine and others, that I loved this section when I first read FP and read it aloud to my partner who even put down his Wilkie Collins to comment that Trollope had some good moments. Praise indeed. And I loved reading it again - it still seemed fresh and applicable to UK politics now.

But, Gene - are you really sure there was a Lord Petty Bag - its such a great joke title.

Angela

From: "Peter Chitty"

Angela,

Your Demon address would seem to indicate that you should know better that to regard our treasured institutions as jokes!!

"Petty Bag, petty-bag. Obs. exc. Hist. [See quot. 1658.]

An office formerly belonging to the Common Law jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, for suits for and against solicitors and officers of that court, and for process and proceedings by extents on statutes, recognizances, scire facias, to repeal letters patent, etc.

O.E.D. 2nd Ed.

(I had to look it up myself - though I think Dickens mentions him.)

This was written months later but I thread it in here as relevant:

Date: Thu, 04 May 2000 06:39:32 +0100
Reply-To: trollope-l@egroups.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Lord Petty Bag again

You may remember I dared to suggest that Lord Petty Bag was a joke by Trollope but was kindly put right with lots of erudite information. I am seeking more now on the Queen's Remembrancer.

Because, I must tell you, that I have now actually seen him. Isn't it just extraordinary? He was wearing the full Georgian outfit, wig, tricorn hat, pantaloons to the knees, silk stockings and little patent leather shoes with silver buckles.

It was at an arcane ceremony, started by Ethelbert the Unready (my favourite English King) called The Trial of the Pyx. This is now a legal testing of currency carried out by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. The Queen's Remembrancer is present when the verdict is read out, as is a rep of the Government. The jury is comprised of liverymen from the Goldsmiths, a group of whom wore red robes trimmed with brown fur. They all wore badges round their necks, the size of saucers, and I felt as if I was at some Trollopian Masonic ritual. I was fondly imagining they would be biting the currency with their teeth or ringing them on tables, but apparently they melt them down and test them. The verdict was long and tedius and we stood in respectful silence learning that our currency was "on the whole within the levels of variance" - apparently a favourite quip amongst workers at the Goldsmiths.

After that we had a huge lunch in the great hall. This was disappointingly tedius at times, though I enjoyed being required to stand every so often and drink a loyal toast the Queen and Country in the Goldsmith's excellent claret. Sadly I had to stagger away just as the port was passing as I still had a working afternoon and evening ahead of me.

What was I doing there? I had taken the Goldsmith's small cheque to help a community centre in the depths of Lewisham which the Goldsmiths had, in their munificence, built in the 1940s and allowed to decline. I found the contrast of those environments a matter of rather grim amusement.

Angela

From: Ellen Moody
Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: Griselda and Lord Dumbello

I loved Catherine's postings on Griselda and Lord Dumbello. Yes, Trollope is sardonic towards Griselda. She is mean and petty and spiteful too: however, the strokes which picture her this way are all delicate or conveyed through irony.

I had not put together Lord Dumbello, Lady Hartletop and the Duke of Omnium in the way Catherine has. This is my fourth or fifth time reading this book, and I am seeing connections I never saw before. I don't see any hints for the Duke's paternity, but the hints that Lady Hartletop has been the Duke's mistress are trumpet-peals. Perhaps the Victorian reader would have suspected the Duke had a closer interest in Lord Dumbello than merely the son of his mistress. I wonder if Trollope meant to develop his story this way in a stronger clearer light and then changed his mind.

Trollope allowed Framley Parsonage to be published in instalments before he finished it. Had he had time to have the whole manuscript before him, he might have made this opening clearer, either made sure the reader suspected paternity or made sure the reader understood the Duke was acting out of noblesse oblige to his mistress's son. We never do meet Lord Hartletop.

Now in The Small House at Allington Plantagenet Palliser is brought onto the stage and fills the role of the Duke's heir -- and therefore son. In this fifth Barset book Lord Dumbello wins the great prize, Griselda, but is displaced as a central player in the on-going narrative. Of course at this point, still early in Framley Parsonage, Trollope is nowhere near imagining Plantagenet, the Duke's nephew. Perhaps he was playing with some ideas for Dumbello which he never worked out once he invented the preferable honorable and decent exemplary type he began to see in Plantagenet in The Small House. Just a speculation, but an interesting one. I have always wondered if Trollope didn't develop some of his minor subplots on paper separately and then later slip them into a big book as needed.

Ellen

Re: Framley Parsonage: Politics, Chaldicotes and Mrs Proudie

To enjoy the political stories in Trollope's novels you have to know a good deal about the concrete politics of Trollope's time. The Barsetshire and Palliser novels do function as romans clef and the more you know about actual individuals, actual battles, the actual dialogue, hum and buzz, and what was really at stake in each political battle of Trollope's era, the more you can enjoy the books. Halperin's book opens up the politics of the Palliser books; it may be said Trollope's figures are far more than representative of an individual; they figure forth larger concerns and types. Nonetheless, they are the real and concrete too. I find I like the politics of Can You Forgive Her? and Phineas Finn because I have learnt the real specifics behind them; I probably am lost among the Giants and Gods because I don't know what's referred to by the allegorical details which are spun out.

Trollope's books are primarily political, about man and woman as political animals, but I use the word political in its broadest sense. People play politics in their office; they are politicians as they move through the marriage market; sex has its political manoeuvring. Trollope is also interested in politics in Parliament and in elections, and these stories can crystallise themes sharply. They are often highly disillusioned and sceptical in mood, while at the same time Trollope is measuring the behavior of his characters with an austere idealism. I enjoy all this; I read The Warden as a political fable. However, when allegory is used and no facts are given me and I don't know enough about what is being mocked or presented, I can find parts of the books puzzling.

Chaldicotes is a good example of Trollope's presentation of men and women as political animals. We see all sorts of maneuvring for place, patterns of submissin and dominance, role-playing. The place itself is a plum. Does Mrs Proudie fit in? Catherine does seem to me right: if Lady Lufton doesn't fit, neither does Mrs Proudie. Both pride themselves on their overtly moral lives. I suppose Trollope just wanted to introduce this heroine and work her into his book. Mrs Proudie herself is a politician: she seeks power over others; she is unscrupulous, she deludes herself. She can be seen as the religious side of politics. However, realistically such a woman would probably not visit Sowerby or the Duke. But who knows? The way the Bishop rose to power was trimming.

Cheers to all,
Ellen

To Trollope-l

January 22, 2000

Re: Dramatic Readings of Anthony Trollope: Timothy West, David Case, Donalda Peters

This is not meant to criticise Timothy West's dramatic readings at all strongly. I very much enjoyed his reading of Dr Thorne; the voices there were differentiated enough, and the depth of emotional resonance which his tones carry, a certain controlled emotionalism and geniality of approach seemed right. He was good with Sir Roger Scatcherd; he was perfect as Dr Thorne except slightly too 'wet', not quite austere enough. Still, I didn't like his The Warden. He seemed to read the book in such a way as to justify criticisms I have come across: it is unsubtle, too broad, the humor too coarse. Timothy West turns Trollope into a 19th century version of Chaucer: Chaucer as he might have been read through the eyes of Dryden in 19th century dress. It's effective; he has studied the text, but I'm not sure he isn't overrated because of the respect automatically given Cover-to-Cover which often hires star actors.

My preference goes to David Case. I won't repeat what Catherine and Judy have said, just chime in agreement: Case is a theatre in himself. To this I'll add that in Trollope's case I think Case gives an interpretation of Trollope's texts which is endows them with the satire and disillusion and hard austerity as well as sardonic quality I miss in West. I'd love to hear Case read The Way We Live Now. He is clearly an important reader for Books-on-Tape. I have listened to all but the fourth volume of A Dance to the Music of Time and a number of othe great books form Books-on-Tape read by Case.

I also like Donada Peters. Now there I like the brightness of her voice; the alertness. She has a crisp delivery which can modulate into aching emotion. She reads Ayala's Angel for Books-on-Tape. She also reads _Miss Mackenzie & 'Christmas at Thompson Hall' by Trollope. Something for me to look forward to. Of course she reads other authors too: Daphne Du Maurier, Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life.

Cheers to all,
Ellen

Subject: [trollope-l] Period Piece by Gwen Raverat

From: "Judy Warner"

I am reading a very enjoyable book called Period Piece, A Cambridge Childhood. It is written by Gwen Raverat, a granddaughter of Charles Darwin, about her childhood and family around the turn of the century. From the little I could find about her on the web, I think she's (or was) an artist, (and she did study at the Slade school I know from the book.) It's a child's view of a world very like Trollope's I think, although I think later in time. Could anyone tell me more about Gwen Raverat? Has anyone else read this?

Judy

To Trollope-l

January 26, 2000

Re: Raverat, Darwin, Trollope, and Austen: The Same Milieu

Judy asks if anyone knows anything more about Gwen Raverat than that she was Charles Darwin's grand-daughter and wrote a memoir. I can add to this it was Gwen Raverat who first edited and published Darwin's personal memoir which is today known as his _Autobiography_ and is probably the most easily readable text by him. When she published it, she brought in material that was in Darwin's time thought private, and which he probably meant just for his family's eyes. Nothing scandalous, just playful, and about himself as a boy or young man personally. She did leave out things thought scandalous: his lack of religious belief, which he is frank about in this book, and some other hard comments about family members. These have been put back and an new edition based on her first version printed. It also contains letters which fill out the portrait.

Judy says Raverat's world sounds like Trollope's. When I read about Darwin's world it sounds to me like Austen's. Perhaps our private lives change less than we like to think. Austen, Darwin, Trollope all came from the strata of English society called gentry. Darwin's father became rich, but he didn't start out that way. Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather, was part of the same fringe group to which George and Cassandra Austen and Thomas Anthony and Fanny Trollope belonged. All had many clergymen, naval officers, lawyers, and some learned people in the families (in Darwin's family scientists, in Trollope's inventors, in Austen's university people). All three nuclear families were connected to aristocrats and networked with people of means. These are families rooted in rural-like counties in southern England. The values and outer behavior which was approved of was the same. Probably this strata of English society has changed a good deal since World War One.

Ellen Moody

From: "Catherine Crean"
Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: Trollope's political analogies

From: "Catherine Crean"

I have always been put off by Trollope's political subplots. Even when I read the explanatory notes in the book, I can't keep the cast of characters straight, much less sort out Whigs, Tories, Radicals, the Reform Bill and the ins and outs of Parliamentary elections. Trollope seems to love the topic of politics, maybe more even more than he loves the topic of fox hunting. I'm usually naughty when I read Trollope and breeze through pages of political stuff. Then I feel guilty because I imagine Trollope getting up early in the morning and getting writer's cramp writing all those pages. I am listening to Framley Parsonage as read by David Case. Case's reading of the chapter about the Titans and the Giants, with all the mythological allegory made me sit up and take notice. Trollope was very clever when he wrote his allegory, but only David Case could make the passages bearable. Did Trollope's readers find this sort of thing interesting? Was it a sort of roman a clef exercise where people tried to guess which real politicians were the models for Trollope's characters? I don't know if I could endure Phineas Finn again, except that I love Madam Max and Lady Laura, among other characters.

Catherine Crean

From: "Catherine Crean"
Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: The Chaldicotes set and Mrs. Proudie

From: "Catherine Crean"

I am still trying to figure out what Mrs. Proudie is doing as a member of the Chalicotes set. I can understand, a bit any way, why Miss Dunstable might enjoy the company of Mrs. Harold Smith. I think Miss Dunstable could do better, but at least that relationship is plausible. But Mrs. Proudie as a member of the Chaldicotes set seems a stretch. I feel that Trollope had to put Mrs. Proudie in such company for purposes of the plot. Mrs. Proudie is consorting with the likes of Lady Hartletop ("who is no better than she ought to be") and the Gatherum Castle crowd. She actually allows travel on the Sabbath for Mark Robarts! This from a woman who would have a town decline postal service on Sundays! It doesn't wash. If the Chaldicotes set is supposed to be "with it" what are they doing with the likes of Mrs. Proudie? She's not a fun person and she doesn't even give good parties. In an earlier post, Ellen mentioned the possibility that Trollope put characters "in play" (my phrase) in his novels. He might not have known what he would do with a character in future, but he was setting a scenario up just in case. It is interesting to see how Trollope mixes new characters with old favorites. Most of the time I see the sense in what Trollope is doing, but sometimes I find his people combinations far fetched. I find Mrs. Proudie as a member of the Chaldicotes set not believable. It is an intriguing idea to think what plans Trollope might have had for Lord Dumbello and Griselda. There was an idea of a plot line there that Trollope didn't pursue, I think.

Catherine Crean

Reply-to: trollope-l@onelist.com
Subject: [trollope-l] Framley Parsonage: The Chaldicotes set and Mrs. Proudie

From: "Judy Warner"

I see what you mean and wonder why anyone would invite her to anything- not for her charm certainly. But maybe it's important to have the Bishop as a kind of status thing. After all it's an important rank. And Mrs. P is so ambitious she'd risk contamination by the likes of Lady H. to appear with her horses and carriage. Do we know how old she is?

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] The Chaldicotes set and Mrs. Proudie

From: "Joan F. Wall"

I wonder whether Mrs. Proudie was, as a fairly newly installed Bishop's wife, there as part of what she perceived as a rung of the upward moving life she wanted. She was at the Castle with the Duke after all. Bishops are still, but I think were in those days quite high in the ladder of society. Even the Chaldicotes set would probably have been happy to have the Bishop around and she certainly would have to be part of the baggage. Joan who is excedingly tired of looking out at our white landscape


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