June 26, 2000
Re: The Last Chronicle of Barset: Chs 1-6: As We Begin ...
I agree with Rory that we read Trollope for character, motivation and the narrator's presence more than we do for story. While Trollope achieves closure of the series at the end of this book, the closure is open-ended. People die who are very old, and the rest carry on. It's like life :) While Trollope has a striking adieu, still he left the countryside intact, open-ended and he did return to Barsetshire country a couple of times and also refers to it as a real place. It is also true of all the Barsetshire and Palliser books that Trollope wrote them to stand alone. You can begin anywhere, and stop after the particular book. On the other hand, if you have read the previous 5, this one means more. As each old character makes his or her appearance, you feel more for them because you know whence they have come. Someone who has read The Small House will react more deeply to Lily's letter and the reappearance of Lily in this week's chapters than someone who has never heard of the character. Part of the depth of the Crawley presentation is it has been going on since Barchester Towers when Mr Arabin first told of him.
We could also be a bit cynical about the reappearing characters, or put it charitably, say that like a cliff-hanger at the end of an instalment manipulates the reader into buying the next number, so the thought of re-seeing our old friends, makes us buy the next book. As some of us know, it's also hard to get into a book from 3 chapter or even 6. Instalment buying was done because it was a way of getting the book cheaply and before others; there were middle class people who waited for the whole volume. So reappearing characters who had already become part of your consciousness made it easily to read an instalment from a new book and move right into the imaginative realm. You've been there for a whole book or more already.
Judy asks if there were other novels who used reappearing characters besides Trollope and Balzac. Yes, Margaret Oliphant in the Carlingford Chronicles has the same cast of character reappear and in different formations, with new ones at the center and the old moving out to the margins for a while or staying in the center as the case may be. The Carlingford tales are imitations of Barsetshire, except they are set among the lower clergy, poorer people, and evangelicals. In the 20th century we have Proust, Dorothy Richardson, Anthony Powell; the Canadian novelist, Robertson Davies had cycles of 3 novels; A. S. Byatt has written 4 novels which have the same set of characters: these include The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower. There's another but I forget the title. I think Arnold Bennet used the technique. Some novelists like to be playful and just bring back a character as an old friend for a cameo appearance at the end: Fielding has Parson Abraham Adams from Joseph Andrews turn up at the close of Tom Jones. As Trollope said in his statement on Balzac, novelists enjoy bringing back their old friends too.
I noticed a few themes which stood out and differentiate this book from The Small House. Continually all the characters and the narrator are intensely aware of everyone's status. We are told Mr Walker was so comfortable because he was so respected, well-to-do, felt he was judged as a success. So he did even better even life as he went along. As each character comes on board we are made to feel how they respond to their perceived status. I don't say Trollope doesn't do this elsewhere, but he is stressing it here.
This of course frames our understanding of Crawley. What man can easily endure knowing others around him feel sorry for him, look upon him as beneath them? What man can feel pride when he owes money for what the community regard as the necessities to keep a respectable clergyman's life going and yet do not give him a salary to sustain it? While Trollope tells us Mrs Crawley has the more magnanimous spirit, is finer, he makes us feel for Crawley and enter into his anguish at how the world doesn't value him, won't pay him, gives him a harassing situation. Yet at the same time we are made to feel how Crawley is such an unpleasant difficult man to be around. It's hard to understand quite why Mrs Crawley fell in love. There is a depiction of a young genteel woman falling in love with a inflexible clergyman in The Claverings (Rev Saul and Fanny Clavering) which gives insight into what was perhaps the original aspiration in herself that a Mr Crawley appealed to.
The theme of status is played out in the Grantly household. Again Griselda is the one who shoots poison into the situation. It is she who gives her father the idea of withdrawing Major Grantly's allowance. Trollope tells us Grantly can't resist using this weapon; it is the worst thing he could do. It gets his son's back up because it's profoundly unfair. The son gave up a profession on the strength of the promised income. Trollope treats Mrs Grantly's half unacknowledged dismay at her daughter with delicacy.
I thought a truly great passage occurred right at the opening of the book. People are always talking about the greatness of the conception of Crawley. Have a look at the paragraph in Chapter 1 which begins 'But before the circumstances of the alleged theft are stated, a word or two must be said about Mr Crawley's family' (in the 1964 Houghton Mifflin Last Chronicle, ed. AMizener, pp. 10-13). Mr Crawley's family resolves itself into a partial inward partial third person narrative presentation of Mrs Crawley. It is brilliant; it is matched by the penultimate paragraph of the chapter where she is thinking about Mr Walker. Then we have the intense scene between them where he refuses to go to court (Chapter 4, pp. 32-33). He cannot be worse degraded than he is; if they want him, and mean to humiliate him further, he's not going to make it easy for them, even if it makes it harder for him too. The dialogue is simple yet eloquent and true to life. It's prefaced by the description of the desperate abject room which nonetheless holds the man's dreams in his books. It's followed by another long inward meditation on the part of Trollope as he enters the wife's mind. Since Crawley is so exacerbated as to be nearly half-mad, in a kind of continual trauma from his station and perceived mortification, to allow us to see his situation sanely, with balance from within, Trollope chooses to enter the wife's mind (pp. 33-35). Again the language moves to the basics of life so directly: "Could she have lain on the man's bosom for twenty years, and not learned the secrets of the heart beneath?" (p. 34). Insufficient justice is done in the criticism to the presentation, space, and role given Mrs Crawley in this book.
A small point: it begins in medias res which is not common with Trollope.
Anyone want to say some of the themes that struck them?
Someone asked for a good map; this Houghton Mifflin includes as Appendix A a beautifully detailed map which could not have been drawn until this 6th book was closed. It includes the whole terrain of the 5 and much of the details. Mizener says it was drawn by Lance O. Tingay and can also be found in The Trollopian_ 3 (June 1948), p. 20. The Trollopian is of course alive and well today as Nineteenth Century Literature. It is a central Victorian periodical, much respected. Its former name was Nineteeth-Century Fiction and before that The Trollopian. It was begun by Bradford Booth partly out of love for Trollope. So there he is ever the man who creates intense respect and ever somehow overlooked after a while.
Cheers to all,
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 14:09:55 -0700
Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Griselda again
I probably missed the relevant novel, but did not the dreadful Griselda have a sister who died? People had to take the loss of a child from illness etc. more in stride in the 19th century, but would not that loss have made a difference in the way her parents brought up Griselda? Or did Trollope forget about the sister's death?
Subject: [trollope-l] the child who was still living
Andrea - Trollope refers to Mrs. Crawley's dead children several times. I think in early days in Cornwall there was a child that died. Early in LCB Trollope makes reference regarding Mrs. Crawley to "the children who were still living" or something like that. I have to look up the passage. The reference is stunning, because it is almost off-hand, like a slap in the face. The inference is that the death of a child was something that was "of course" - something to endured and accepted as part of life. Trollope lost two sisters while he was a young man. Emily Trollope died a lingering death of TB, and I think Cecelia did also. There is a passage in one of Trollope's books about a church yard. There is a wedding taking place, I think, and yet the author makes an aside about the sorrows this same church yard has seen. I'm sure somebody remembers this passages. This passage in another example of Trollope's skillful narrative voice adding nuance to a scene.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 15:17:20 -0700
Subject: [trollope-l] The Child who was Still Living
Yes, as to Mrs. Crawley's dead children -- there were two or more -- , but don't you think that he forgets about Griselda Grantly's dead sister? There is a very brief mention of the fact that one of the daughters has died in one of the later series. It is almost as if to say that this family is so materialistic that they do not miss the girl. Either that, or they are putting all their emotional eggs into Griselda's basket. I like to think that part of Mrs. Grantly's spiritual growth, visible in The Last Chronicle, is due to that death, as she wonders what the girl would have grown up to be... but this is never mentioned.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 20:51:06 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] The Missing Children
Trollope is pretty good about keeping the right head count in his fictional families. It must have been challenging. There is the case of the missing Palliser -- little Lady Glencora, Plantagenet's daughter is mentioned once in The Prime Minister and referred to in several other places (books) but not by name. ("There were two girls ..") By the time we get to The Duke's Children the two boys and Lady Mary remain. What happened to little Lady Glencora? Is it in Barchester Tower that Trollope gives a satirical portrait of the young Grantly boys? My foot notes told me that each boy's behavior when a visitor arrived was supposed to be a send-up of somebody. I often wonder if Trollope didn't think , "Rats, why did I do that?" as he was LCB. The Grantly family did have more than one daughter originally. (Can you imagine having Griselda as a sister?) Mrs. Grantly probably did put all her eggs in one basket when she groomed Griselda for the marriage market. She lived to regret the remorseless practicality of her offspring. Mrs. Grantly was proud of "the elevated sphere" that her daughter achieved. But the bitter tears Mrs. Grantly shed in this week's reading were very bitter indeed.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 21:16:14 -0700
Subject: [trollope-l] The Child who was Still Living
This discussion reminds me, whatever happened to young Johnnie Bold? Eleanor (Harding) (Bold) Arabin and her husbnd the Dean, appear early in LCB, and young Johnnie must be fully grown by now if he lived, but so far I see no mention of him.
June 28, 2000
Re: The Last Chronicle, Ch 1-6: Missing & Altered Characters
I suggest that in his linked novels Trollope will lop off characters and alter others no longer to his purpose. The mood and design of a book affects how the character is treated and so how we respond to them. The Grantlys are a good case of this. The Warden is a satiric book, often unrealistic, and the Archdeacon is given some savage moments which occur on a continuum in which John Bold is given some dense dumb ones: all over the issue of whether Mr Harding ought to regard his holding of his large salary and comfortable house as a moral issue for him personally. Ought he to give up these things because it's wrong to have them; ought he to keep them because he's just a cog in an age-old machine which has been manipulated by an institution (in this instance the church) for its benefit. The characters are given realistic enough presences that we believe in them, but they are continually shaped by Trollope's purpose to write a political fable.
This moral or political pattern descends to the presentation of the children. The Grantlys are given three of the most egregiously awful sons anyone ever had and two of the sappiest most absurdly simpering daughters. We take it because we don't believe in the trio or the duo for a moment. We know it's caricature: in this case of three clergymen whose positions and posturing in public are without integrity, or absurd.
Moving on through the occasional appearances of this couple in the intervening books, these children don't come up. They are not to the purpose at all because the Grantlys are in the margins of the story. Instead one of the girls, Griselda, is brought forward and shaped to be the epitome of all that pretends to be virtuous (which includes submissiveness to all) but is actually nasty (she dominates through manipulative hypocrisy). She is also given far more psychological depth and probability so we do believe in her; find her to be like people we have met. Now here again in The Last Chronicle the couple and two of their original children now grown up, one married, are brought to the center. Griselda doesn't change much from Framley Parsonage: in this week's chapters she has appealed to the worst elements in her father's nature, she's a kind of Satan at the ear of Adam (in this case the Archdeacon). Henry is brought back too, but even more than Griselda in the earlier book and here he's going to be given an inner life we can believe in and it's sympathetic.
It's instructive to see how Trollope treats both the Archdeacon and his wife. It is morally wrong, tactically stupid, useless bullying for him to threaten his son with loss of money. It has the opposite effect he desires. This is our old dense Archdeacon from The Warden and also Barchester Towers. However, instead of simply fixing us on this moral reading of the character, Trollope goes behind this to make us understand why the man behaves this way -- not in this chapter so much but as The Last Chronicle goes on. To understand is to sympathize and to forgive. Also to identify. The Last Chronicle is not a satirical book but a realistic one in which mixed motives and much of the mess of life, its disagreeableness, pettiness, people's helplessness against one another's needs, vanities, pride, bang up against one another, and the occasional nobility and sensitivity of others is also torn to bits or exhausted or simply struggles on. This is what we see in the Crawleys.
Mrs Grantly doesn't change much. She is not that caricatured in the earlier books. She is the wise voice to her husband. But she is deepened. From Framley Parsonage on she has realised she has a moral monster in this daughter. She brought the daughter up through the world's cant, but she didn't expect the girl really to live in accordance with it. Without thinking about it or understanding it much, Mrs Grantly understands that what we pay lip service to for real (the getting of money, the intense concern with rank) is not supposed to be what in our souls we live for. Not if we are decent and want some real happiness in life through our private relationships with others. Griselda though is indecent at her core. In Framley Parsonage and again here Mrs Grantly turns away from the daughter rather than look and think about it. This is the way the world goes on: we turn away and try not to think about some of the results of our own actions. Mrs Grantly is not to blame for Griselda: the personality of people is the result of education, but also innate nature.
So in the case of the Grantlys the original children are lopped away. Trollope hopes we have forgotten, and if we remember, will not care.
The missing children of other characters comes from others motives. It's clear from this week's text that Trollope wants us to remember the deaths of the young Crawleys as deaths. He treats this loss seriously here -- as he did in their first introduction. In every one of their appearances the Crawleys carry the full burden of humanity. They are deeply seen psychologically. There are a lot of reasons Trollope assumes we will infer: first child mortality was high in the Victorian period, especially among the poor. The Crawleys are wretchedly poor; they haven't been able to provide a strong diet for their young ones. The house has been an anguished one throughout. Psyche and soma are intermixed: the household is a depressed one and children will thrive less readily if their parents are themselves not sure they can bear life. Mr Crawley is an ascetic: he has overburdened himself, and so too his wife and his children. He would not think an extra blanket anything but a luxury.
The deaths of these children have further sapped the spirit of Mrs Crawley. There is a strong physicality in their relationship. I thought Catherine developed that beautifully. Alas our modern language is too crude to pick up how physical flesh is also spiritual.
Trollope's choices on how to deal with his 'puppets' (a term many novelists use for their characters), how to develop them depends on the book they are in and his purposes in a given scene of it. So there are other depictions of loss of children which are done seriously: Mr and Mrs Gresham have lost 4 girls. Through the depiction of Lady Arabella's attempts to bring up many children, Trollope makes us feel the passage of time, and that Lady Arabella is not simply something of a figure of fun who can be a moral monster and ruin people's lives (as for example an earlier version of her in Austen's Mrs Bennet). And there are children who disappear as excessive, not needed, in the way. Such is the second daughter of Lady Glencora: in The Duke's Children had the Duke had two daughters, the intensity of emotion he felt for Mary would have been less, would have been divided. Little Johnny Bold is simply forgotten about for a time; if he's needed he can be taken out of his box in another book.
From Hugh Osborne:
The bill of exchange, as featured in FP and The Last Chronicle works as follows:
i) It was virtually impossible to obtain either credit or an overdraft facility from the banks; consequently, if post-obits were not an available, i.e. if one couldn't raise cash on the strength of one's future inheritance (be it land, property, money etc.), then virtually one's only recourse was to the money-lenders, where one would sign a bill of exchange.
ii) The bill of exchange was, in effect, a promissory (sp.?) note, wherein I the impoverished undersigned promise to pay you the unscrupulous money- lender stlg100 (say) on such-and-such a date.
iii) In return, the unscrupulous money-lender advances me money on the strength of the bill, say stlg20, which money is known as a 'discount'.
iv) The bill now having been discounted, I the impoverished undersigned now have to repay you the unscrupulous money-lender stlg120 (original sum + discount) on the date agreed on the bill; in other words, you have made me a loan of twenty quid with interest at a whopping 500%. Nice work if you can get it.
v) Such-and-such a date arrives, and I am still strapped for cash. I go to you and explain that I am unable to repay the stlg120. 'I do wish you would be punctual,' you chide reprovingly, but after much wrangling, you eventually agree to 'renew' the bill; in other words, I make out another bill, for the same amount (stlg100), with a new date for repayment, in order to stave off the evil hour. I now owe you stlg220 (the original bill, the discount, and the renewed bill), still having only received stlg20. Consequently, interest on the loan now stands at 1000%
vi) Time Passes. I am still penniless. I need readies. PLEASE lend me a tenner. You reluctantly agree. I write out a new bill for, say stlg50, which you discount for stlg5. So on this new bill, I am -again- effectively paying interest of 1000%.
vii) The date for the ORIGINAL (i.e. renewed) bill rolls up, for which I still owe stlg220. Where am I supposed to find that sort of money, when I'm just an impoverished clerk at Somerset House? I am also aware that I will not be able to pay you the later bill (+ discount) of stlg55. On my bended knees, I beg for another renewal. You agree, but with the proviso that, for simplicity's sake, we combine the two existing bills. I now owe you stlg550 ([stlg100 + stlg20 + stlg100 + stl g50 + stlg5] times 2), having received a grand total of stlg25 for the privilege. Interest = 2100%. Ad infinitum.
viii) If only I had found a gullible clergyman to accept liability for the amount by countersigning the original bill...
Best Wishes (hope my maths is OK)
School of English Communications and Philosophy
From Bruce Toor
I think the "little bills" did not refer to accounts rendered or sales slips. In the common law "bills and notes" were a form of negotiable instrument. Signing the back of a bill was a form of commitment to guaranty repayment in the event the debtor defaulted. Someone more familiar with Trollope's life can comment in more depth, but I noted that one of his favorite techniques for creating tension was to have a character stupidly endorse the bill of another, worthless, debtor. Come to think of it, didn't Thackeray use the same device in Vanity Fair, for gambling debts? And Dickens had his characters doing indeterminate sentences in the Marshalsea for the same thing--assuming the debts of another by endorsing his bills. The big problem this created was that the bills, being negotiable (saleable) were promptly transferred at a discount to a money-lender. It wasn't quite like Mafia interest and knee-capping, but it was close!
From Rory O'Farrell:
Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2000 20:25:54 +0100 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Anthony Trollope's Attitude towards a Credit Economy
At 11:43 00\07\07, Ellen Moody wrote:
"Here is a belated response to one of Howard's comments: I agree with you that the prosperity and comfort many people in Western Society derive from the availability of credit."
It might not be out of place to remind the list of how certain forms of credit worked (and now generally don't work; because of widespread abuse and electronic communications the systems have been changed).
In purchasing shares on the Stock Exchange (my knowledge is London/Dublin Stock Exchange based), shares were dealt in a two week period called "the account". If you had credit (i.e, were a "gentleman", or belonged to the right clubs), you could instruct your Broker to buy shares for you, to an almost unlimited sum. These shares were supposed to be paid for within ten days from the end of the "account" period in which they were purchased. If you sold shares, similarly you received payment within the same time scale. If you bought shares early in the account, and sold them before the end of the account, you had to pay only the loss, if you sold at a loss, or received the profit, if you sold at a profit. You didn't need any capital to finance your purchases - just the appearance of being credit worthy. It was possible to come to an arrangement with your broker to defer the payment you should make (for which facility he charges you interest). Because of increasing abuse by the less credit worthy, this system has now changed, and in general a broker will not deal for a client without cash unless he knows that client, and the payment period has reduced to five calendar days after the transaction.
One can see the beauty of the old system - one bought shares in a rising stock - whether a genuine stock or a hyped up stock - at the beginning of the account period, and sold them just at the end of the two weeks, when they had (hopefully) increased in value. Ten days later, the money arrived! As you didn't need any capital, just a good name, the temptation to speculate was tremendous! In 1927, at the time of the Great Crash, many ordinary people were so speculating; such speculation works well on a rising market, because the money keeps rolling in, but when the market falls, the speculator can be utterly wiped out. A similar system is currently happening with many "dot.com" stocks, but brokers now demand money up front in many cases. On a shorter time scale, one can still speculate as a "day trader", buying and selling shares on the Internet within the day.
I only know of the above system from a historical perspective - why do they change such admirable systems? :-)
Later in the day he wrote again:
I omitted to mention that often (especially in fiction, which is our field of interest) principals of businesses were rewarded with what we would now term "share options", where they were either given, or more usually, permitted to purchase at advantageous rates, shares in the company. They then sold these to reap substantial gains. In some cases, if the market was rising, they would simply receive the difference between the purchase price (which they hadn't paid) and the sale price, but in some cases the company registrar held out for cash before permitting the shares to be sold. One example that comes to mind is Ferdinand Lopez in The Prime Minister, and if I am remember correctly there is some financial chicanery later in The Last Chronicle (watch Dobbs Broughton/Musselboro/Mrs van Siever), although I don't recollect just what the scam was in that case.
It used be the case also that those involved in a business could purchase shares on a partially paid basis - where they perhaps paid 10% of the value. For example, for £100 cash, they could get 1000 £1 shares (partially paid). This was very risky, because if the company needed money it could "call" the remaining 90%, amounting to £900 - a sum that would break any person who only had £100 ready money, which had already been spent on the 10% initial payment for the shares.
Wasn't it that great American philosopher PT Barnum who said "there's one born every minute!"?
From Lisa Guardini:
Re: Last Chronicle: Attitudes Towards the Clergy
I read the first 4 or 5 chapters of Last Chronicle last evening, and as I'm near to finishing Fanny Trollope's Vicar of Wrexhill I couldn't help but note the similarity in some of the attitudes toward the clergy. In VOW Mr. Cartwright is a reprehensible character, granted, but in both books there is an underlying negative feeling about the clergy that took me a bit by surprise. Not all of AT's clergy are painted with a black brush, but they seem very real and down to earth. It seems both AT and FT don't take it for granted that the clergy are better than the rest of us, which I find quite refreshing. In fact, the clergy often take a good amount of abuse and aren't immune from prosecution.
I've been enjoying the posts re: AT and his style of writing. He is definitely distinctly different from some of his contemporaries, and I'm thinking mostly of Charles Dickens, who seems at the opposite end of the spectrum. Next to Dickens, Trollope seems to me a much more modern sort of writer. He doesn't seem to go on as many digressions as Dickens, but at the same time his characters are not as animated. I find the characters in Dickens jump out at me and I remember them for much longer than those in Trollope. Dickens' novels have such complex plots I can sometimes barely keep up with them, but Trollope is much more straight-forward. There's a benefit to both styles of writing, I think, and I definitely enjoy both writers for what they bring to fiction.
Comparing Anthony to his mother, thus far I find a bit more humour in FT than AT (keeping in mind my sampling is extremely limited at this point). However, they seem similar in so many ways that I can tell they had influence on each other. Both seem to enjoy revolving plots around the clergy, and neither puts the clergy on a pedestal, as previously mentioned. Relationships aren't quite so melodramatic as in some other Victorian novelists, and neither is there sentimentality or so far any elements of the gothic. I do wonder if either FT or AT attempted to write a gothic novel? If so I'd enjoy reading their approach to the genre.
I responded to Lisa:
Re: The Last Chronicle: Realistic Assessments of Clergymen
Realistic treatment of clergy and hard-hitting and sympathetic satire aimed at them are typical, indeed common in 19th century art. Balzac has a novel about a Vicar; Fanny Trollope has several novels in which she confronts religion and the church as an institution head-on. Teresa can fill us in there. Hi, Teresa! Welcome back!
In a way people in the 19th century in public were freer and more truthful about religion and the church as an institution that many a publication today. In modern newspapers the treatment depends on the political stance of the paper, but in art the artist mostly avoids the subject unless his subject is centrally political. Presentations of religion in art are rare in the 20th century; it's too explosive, too much overt atheism everywhere for those who believe to stand the heat the implications that a large part of an audience doesn't believe at all.
Trollope himself avoids a serious inward treatment (meaning about beliefs themselves and how these affect one characters) most of the time. Rare moments occur in Barchester Towers (there fundamentalism or evangelism is show to be a facade for trying to control the behavior of others); repeatedly in The Bertrams (George Bertram questions his belief and yet wants to lead the life of a clergyman if he should decide to believe) and Linda Tressel: an old woman who resents sexual experience, regards it as loathesome because it threatens her worldview and mercenary control over others drives her niece to death through insinuations about the girl's sexuality, an attempt to force her to marry someone whose embraces would be deeply distasteful to her; and Castle Richmond where Trollope asks how such a holocaust of people could have been permitted by a God.
I agree Trollope -- and so too other 19th century writers -- are refreshing in comparison with the hypocrisies of silence in art and in the papers too we have today. One of the ironies of the identification of the Barsetshire series as religious, or about religion, is that many readers therefore turn away from them as obsolete. Maybe they assume the treatment will be naive; however, the subject is not obsolute: religion as a force in political life around the globe is of serious concern today. Trollope knew it was in the 19th century too, though he too treats it socially and politically mostly in the Barsetshire series and his books generally (I outlined a few exceptions above) Mostly it's done inwardly, not from the point of view of how such a force in a psyche can shape someone's behavior. Here in The Last Chronicle he does do it idealistically in Mr Harding.
Cheers to all,
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 19:20:21 -0700
Subject: [trollope-l] LCB Crawley and Griselda
I get the feeling that Griselda epitomizes the prevailing standard of beauty -- she is a Victorian "supermodel" in looks. Shallow men are attracted to her, and shallow women are envious, but people of depth are not impressed. It's not so much the intensity of her beauty -- the "Contessa" Neroni from Barchester Towers, wasn't it, is a real stunner, not riselda -- but its perfection by the standards of the day. And the aristocratic perfection of her manners.
Lisa, I think this is where it is hurting you a bit in not having read about Rev. Crawley in Framley Parsonage.
I see him as stern, too stern for his family's good. He hated to take charity, even food, so much that people had sneak items to his wife. He always appeared very upright, honest, unyielding, unbending to me. Maybe pride played a part too, probably it did.
After reading about him before, I can not at all imagine his stealing the check, no way! Not stealing. Howevever, there is a possibility, and a strong one I think that he could have easily gotten confused about what it was, where it came from, etc.
What I can't figure out is how/why it laid around for several months before being cashed and used. Soames probably did drop it at the house somewhere, but that it didn't get noticed right away. At one point in the book someone said that Rev. had thought it was from Arabin an he was saving it and only going to use it as a last resort.
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 12:13:17 -0500
Subject: [trollope-l] Rev Crawley
Dagny wrote: "
"Lisa, I think this is where it is hurting you a bit in not having read about Rev. Crawley in Frameley Parsonage"
I do believe you're right!
"I see him as stern, too stern for his family's good."
That's the impression I'm getting. His wife is so very devoted, but seems reluctant to approach him. She also seems to handle him with kid gloves.
"He hated to take charity, even food, so much that people had sneak items to his wife."
Yes, I saw that alluded to in TLCB But my background with him is so sketchy I wasn't sure what the other details were.
"Maybe pride played a part too, probably it did."
He does seem very proud.
"After reading about him before, I can not at all imagine his stealing the check, no way! Not stealing."
Having not read much of him before, I'm still waffling! It sounds so damning, the more I read. And some are so ready to condemn him, as is usually the case.
"However, there is a possibility, and a strong one I " think that he could have easily gotten confused about what it was, where it came from ..."
The excuses he's making seem lame thus far. I wonder..
"What I can't figure out is how/why it laid around for several months before being cashed and used. I think Soames probably did drop it at the house somewhere, but that it didn't get noticed right away. At one point in the book someone said that Rev. had thought it was from Arabin an he was saving it and only going to use it as a last resort."
But didn't Soames drop his entire wallet? What happened to that?
July 2, 2000
Re: The Last Chronicle, Ch 6: The Adamantine Integrity of Crawley
While I realise people may think it's fun to pretend that Crawley really did take the money and might find the whole novel absurd and amusing because of the seriousness with which Trollope takes the initiating dilemma of Crawley, I thought I would equal Trollope in his earnestness in order to convey how Trollope develops a complex psychological presence for us out of what the daylight common sense mind would laugh at.
This is a belated posting about what we are to assume about Rev Crawley and why it's necessary we assume it. As Dagny remarked earlier this week in response to an initial posting by Lisa, any suspicion that the Rev Josiah Crawley could have in any way manner or form deliberately stolen the check is to be assumed from the first sentence of the novel to the last. When in He Knew He Was Right, Louis Trevelyan begins to imagine that the attorney Slow might be plotting with Colonel Osborne, perhaps suborned and paid by him to behave in ways that favor Emily's adultery or longing to commit adultery, we know Trevelyan has gone over the top. He is Mad. Slow could no more accept a bribe than think of accepting a bribe. It would be like imagining Mr Harding telling a lie. Mr Harding might because he is tactful not tell the whole truth to someone, but it would be such a truth as does no one any harm (about the person's character or an interpretation of something), and there would be left in the air even so some sense of what Mr Harding has implied through his silence that is truthful.
What may have happened is through some confusion of mind, some bewilderment because the man's mind is so strained by wounded pride and the need to make ends meet (which he can't do) and yet appear respectable, the Rev Crawley did something which is now interpreted as stealing the money. (Think of his mind as being near, and almost but not quite toppling into a nervous breakdown.) That something that happened is left shrouded in mystery until the last pages of the book. It is a contrivance; Trollope admits that up front in his An Autobiography. However, we must all admit that Trollope has thoroughly shrouded it. And it will take quite a bit of doing on the part of a number of characters over a series of chapters to sort the whole thing out. I have sometimes wondered if not only in The Eustace Diamonds but in The Last Chronicle Trollope was having his little joke at Wilkie Collins. See I can do it too. Note that no one has reported seeing Crawley hand this check from one person to another to pay for something. It has ended up in a place where it is now put into a bank to be paid for. I think we are even given the real explanation in one of the clauses offered in explanation. Trollope is enjoying himself with us.
Why is it important to assume the adamantine integrity of Rev Josiah Crawley? Without it you lose much of the intense emotionalism and ironies of the book. You lose the critique of society, the presentation of how people's psychologies and attitudes towards one another are framed by not what we are but what we are reputed to be, and that is shaped by our worldly status, whether we can make our butcher's bills regularly or not. How fancy and plush is the rug on our drawing room floor -- the Crawley's is worn very thin indeed. Because of such things the town in general and obtuse characters will not give Crawley the benefit of the doubt. The good and decent characters who read him from what he is bow to the will of the majority; they must defend property rights. Then there are the spiteful and petty who will use this fall for their benefit; they wait around thirsty. Trollope presents us with the case of Crawley; in life people would think such a man might just steal a check; they would feel for him of course (I say that with an ironic grimace).
I bring the assumption of Crawley's motivational innocence up because in the chapter where Lily and Grace are introduced they exchange two letters. To get the full feel or meaning of these you need to assume Crawley is not guilty. For example, we are told by our narrator that he is giving us Grace's letter before the magistrates meet. Here is Grace giving up her position, giving up her love for Major Grantly even before her father is arraigned, and on top of that the arraignment is of a man she and we all know to be innocent. A letter is only understood fully in terms of its epistolary moment and situation. Lily Dale's response is similarly given before we go before the magistrates. So she becomes one of those people who, as she writes, 'know that the charge must be altogether unfounded'. She goes on to say that if Major Grantly is 'such a man as I took him to be from the little I saw of him, all this would make no difference to him. I am sure that it ought to make none'. I'm afraid had Lily had any doubt about Crawley's innocence she might not have written that. And then read the postscript:
"If you went home, people might say that you had left in some sort of disgrace. Come to us, and when all this has been put right, then you go back to Silverbridge ..." (Houghton Mifflin, Last Chronicle, Ch 6, pp. 43-46).
We are so used in the late 20th century to having characters who are not exemplary, it's difficult for us to assume a use of exmplariness such as Trollope is making here -- unless of course we had already gone through Barchester Towers and Framley Parsonage. Trollope has other things he is doing by having an exemplary character whose mind has nearly gone to pieces as we open the book. One is the sheer psychological study of the man and his wife we are going to journey through. Their trauma is better appreciated or understood if we realise he is innocent of all charges. Trollope has some roots in an older tradition of literature where all is not relative, all not psychologised. Mr Harding is a similarly exemplary figure though his exemplariness is used differently. I would argue a third complex male exemplary figure in Trollope's fiction is Plantagenet Palliser.
He is also able to make sardonic jokes implicitly. Take the money. Curious how impersonal a force it is. And how much power it has. A slip of paper and a man is almost destroyed. Everyone gets so excited. Other lives are interrupted, as we shall see, profoundly altered.
Whenever I think about this small bill whose existence and movements no one we have as yet met in the book can explain, I find myself remembering some lines by Alexander Pope on the power and fearful anonymity of paper money and how it can make for a far more easily corruptible situation:
In vain my Heroes fight, and Patriots rave;
If secret Gold sap on from knave to knave.
Once, we confess, beneath the Patriot's cloak,
From the crack'd bag the dropping Guinea spoke,
And jingling down the back-stairs, told the crew,
'Old Cato is as great a Rogue as you.'
Blest paper-credit! last and best supply!
That lends Corruption lighter wings to fly!
Gold imp'd by thee, can compass hardest things,
Can pocket States, can fetch or carry Kings;
A single leaf shall waft an Army o'er,
Or ship off Senates to a distant shore;
A leaf, like Sibyl's, scatter to and fro
Our fates and fortunes, as the winds shall blow
Pregnant with thousands flits the Scrap unseen,
And silent sells a King, or buys a Queen.
Oh! that such bulky Bribes as all might see,
Still, as of old, incumber'd Villany!...
A Statesman's slumbers how this speech would spoil!
'Sir, Spain has sent a thousand jars of oil';
Huge bales of British cloth blockade the door;
A hundred oxen at your levee roar . . .
(From Moral Essay III: To Allen, Lord Bathurst, "Of the Uses of Riches)
The world of Barsetshire is not the world of Shakespeare's Warwickshire. People are growing rich through maneuvring paper money. Lord Lufton is a rich man because his paper is at work for him. He need not like our Reverend trudge down to the bricklayers and preach to them. Suppose we couldn't have this wonderful paper credit on which our world seems to run today and people like Augustus Melmotte grow rich. Our Reverend would not have gotten into trouble. I like to think that faced with a money machine in a wall, Crawley would walk away, refuse to consort with something so inhuman. The modern world is too much for our poet- preacher -- as it was for Trollope's father.
Melmotte appears in a later novel, The Way We Live Now but Trollope's basic attitudes don't change all that much, just his emotional stance and patience in a given book. Politicians today of course further launder their paper. The bills in an envelope won't do any more either: you need to appear to have suddenly made vast sums through buying and selling in futures. And many politicians use this road, many.
Cheers to all,
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000 16:43:35 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle of Barset
My name is Ellen Massey; I've been lurking for a few weeks and enjoying the discussions. I read Last Chronicle a few months ago, and I'm looking forward to the discussion. I found the character study of Rev Crawley moving and impressive.
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle of Barset
Dear list: A question for the group, and apologies if this has already been asked, but are there any spoilers associated with reading Last Chronicle out of order? If one hasn't read all of the Barsetshire novels, would it be disruptive to the series? Just curious what the thoughts are on this.
To which Rory O'Farrell replied:
I think not - knowing the outcome of any earlier novel in the series will not materially affect one's enjoyment of it, in my opinion. A large part of the charm of Trollope is not the mystery of the plot, such as it is, but the actual telling of the story and the narrator's insight into the characters and their motivation.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 01:41:59 GMT
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle of Barset
Well, I started reading the first six chapters of Last Chronicle, but before I could get through them, I was compelled to reread all my favorite scenes in the middle, and the entire ending of the book. Now that I've done that I can begin again and read my way through very happily!
I blush to admit that I had mentally transposed an entire subplot of the book to The Way We Live Now I adore Trollope, but somehow, even with rereading except for certain scenes and characters, I find that his books turn into one giant Trollope novel in my brain. Perhaps Tolstoy had this problem when he wrote about Anna Karenina reading on the train!
However, I have not read all that many of his books, so it is possible that the more I read the more the books will stand out as individual works.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 16:42:28 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] Griselda again
Thank you, Ellen, for that marvelous phrase "injecting poison." That is exactly what Griselda does. There was a mirroring between the scene in Framley Parsonage where Lady Lufton tries to unthaw the ice maiden Griselda in front of a fire after a ball - and the scene in LCB where Griselda suggests cutting off her brother's allowance. In both scenes, Griselda is marboreally staring into the fire. Reading the Barchester novels in series allows us to appreciate such resonances. It broke my heart to read about Griselda's haughty attitude towards her mother. (Deigning to lay her head upon her mother's pillowcases etc.) But after all, Mrs. Grantly created that monster of a daughter, and we have been watching the molding process through several books. Griselda turns up in more books, I think, than almost any other Trollope character. It may be perverse on my part, but I enjoy Griselda.
I had forgotten how wonderful LCB is, and am looking forward to the discussion!
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 17:29:43 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] Man and Wife
In her introductory post about LCB Ellen cited a quotation that I, too found profoundly moving -- "Could she have lain on the man's bosom for twenty years, and not learned the secrets of the heart beneath?" This is a vivid, physical picture of the Crawleys. When is one more vulnerable than when one is asleep? For a man who is supposed by people to be ascetic, Crawley has a noticeably sensual relationship with his wife. (Sensual is not quite the right word.) This physicality is seen only tangentially, but it is there none the less. I recall the scenes in Framley Parsonage where Lucy was in the bedroom with the ailing Mrs. Crawley. I felt a miasma in the room. The bed upon which Mrs. Crawley lay dying was the same bed upon which she made love to her husband, and where her children were born. (Possibly where a baby of hers died too.) I can imagine Mrs. Crawley holding and comforting her husband in that be, through long bleak nights, giving him some of her own strength so that he could get up and live another day. Crawley himself seems to have regarded his wife's sick bed as sacred. Lucy entered the sanctity of that room only by dint of great respect, perseverance and tact. I cannot express what I mean to say here. It is to Trollope's great credit that he shows us the importance and dignity of "average" day to day life. Those of us who have read Framley Parsonage have an idea of the history of the Crawley marriage -- the idealism of their early years together, the babies who were born and the babies who died, the tired, shabby furniture and the battered books. What sustained the Crawleys through all of this? Trollope quietly and deftly builds the picture of the enduring quality of marital love in all of its manifestations.
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 17:59:46 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] Barset: Reading the books in order and the Crawleys
Ellen mentioned that this book, The Last Chronicle of Barset, will mean more to you if you have read the other five.
I think this is especially true in the case of the Crawley family. If I just started with this book and hadn't read of Mr. Crawley before, and suffered with the family during Mrs. Crawley's illness I doubt I would have cared one way or another about them during the saga of the 20 pound check. It seems such a paltry amount without knowing the history. Maybe I would have cared by the middle of the book, but certainly not right away.
I would also not have understood how Major Grantly could possibly be drawn to Grace Crawley. What could have been the attraction. Which reminds me--what a cliff-hanger at the end of the second installment. Just when Major Grantly has come to see Grace at the school!
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 11:48:41 -0500
Subject: [trollope-l] Griselda/Rosamund Vincy
Though not terribly familiar with Griselda, save from the first few chapters of Last Chronicle I was reminded of Rosamund Vincy-Lydgate from Middlemarch. Perhaps Griselda isn't as pretty as Rosamund, but there's something about the nature of how she's petted and coddled that makes them seem a bit similar. Also, the theme of the brother wanting to marry beneath him and the family opposition to it occurs in both books. Thus far Rosamund seems much more warm-blooded next to Griselda, I must say. Though Rosamund spends a lot of money on frivlous and pretty things, she's content being the wife of the small-town doctor (though she desperately hopes to get out of Middlemarch one day). But Griselda.. Shiver.. I've barely met her and I think her horrid! Amazing how Trollope is able to control how I feel about her in just a few words.
"It broke my heart to read about Griselda's haughty attitude towards her mother. (Deigning to lay her head upon her mother's pillowcases etc.) But after all, Mrs. Grantly created that monster of a daughter, and we have been watching the molding process through several books."
I shall really have to go back and do justice to the series. The holidays threw me off the reading completely, and by the time I recovered I was so far behind I despaired joining in.
I agree Griselda's attitude toward her mother is horrid, and wish I had the background of having read the other Barsetshire novels. I was somewhere in 'Doctor Thorne' before I lost track.
"It may be perverse on my part, but I enjoy Griselda."
I also find some horrible characters completely enthralling.. There's just something about watching the way their minds work that's fascinating. It may be perverse, but I also share this interest!
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 11:56:57 -0500
Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Rev. Crawley
I'm not quite sure how to feel about Rev. Crawley. Again comes the problem of not having the background to his character which I greatly lament. In some ways I find his character sympathetic and think him a man beaten down by life, in other ways I think he sounds almost sinister. But through whose eyes am I looking when I think that?
I read Catherine Crean's post re: the Crawleys with great interest. After reading that it made me wonder why I'm so conflicted about the man. He seems so terribly tortured and I get the impression he has so much repressed anger. But perhaps he's just not a simple character. The conflicts I'm feeling may be simply those of seeing his various sides exposed.
I haven't decided yet if he could have stolen the check.. Seems rather bad for him at this point, but I do have a small, nagging doubt.
Back to my Middlemarch comparison, Crawley is somewhat Casaubon-like. He appreciates classical literature, as I gleaned from Trollope's description of his well-worn books, but also has that dark and unapproachable side that makes his wife almost seem to fear him. But his wife has a devotion that's almost inspiration, just as Dorothea Brooke had for Edward Casaubon.
Why I keep associating these two novels I'm not sure. Middlemarch is a great favourite of mine and I've read it more than once, and this is my first read of TLC. There's just something about them that makes the parallels keep popping into my head.
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 19:05:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] LCB -- Griselda
Lisa, you are not the only one that finds Griselda a bit chilling. I have not been able to figure out the great attraction of Griselda. In Dr. Thorne we found out that not all men are attracted to her, even when their mothers wish it. Lord Lufton found her boring.
Then, and I forget which book, the stories are all running together for me, when Griselda was in London at the parties, she never really talked, said only half a dozen words. Is she is demand merely because of her looks? At this point she has not yet married and become Lady Hartletop. At least once she married you could chalk up part of her popularity to the fact that she is now higher on the social scale.
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 12:10:11 GMT
Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Rev. Crawley
I think that at one point in the book Crawley says something about keeping the check because he hoped he wouldn't have to use it. I think this was because of his pride and dislike of charity. On the other hand I can't remember where this scene takes place...
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2000 09:09:28 -0500
Subject: [trollope-l] transparent plot devices
"Oh, if only Arabin hadn't been away ..."
Of course, if Arabin had been in Barchester, it seems there would be no story and no novel. It's interesting how such a transparent plot device doesn't bother us at all in such a masterful artist as Trollope, while in a lesser writer reliance on such a creaky device as this coincidence would be only one more example of the novelist's weaknesses.
But then life is full of inconvenient coincidences.
From Lisa Guardini:
Ah, yes, sucking up to the upper classes.. I got the feeling that's what her family was doing, as they seemed to prostrate themselves before her. I noticed her mother poured out her heart to her re: the son wanting to marry Grace Crawley, and I don't recall Griselda deigning to reply, come to think of it.
Someone needs to knock that girl down a peg or ten..
I don't know who wrote the following, but it was meant as an explanation of Crawley's state of mind seriously taken:
Somewhere I remember hearing Josiah Crawley described as a member of the Methodist section of the Church of England. As I understand it (and don't wish to give offence, so please don't take any if I am in error) the Methodists, as founded by John Wesley about 100 years before the period in question, were originally members of the Church of England, who believed in _methodically_ preaching the Gospel to all men; as a result, they frequented places where people congregated, such as fairs, harvesting, docks, brickfields, and there preached in an ad hoc way (no church or formal apparatus of religion buildings). In his frequenting the brickworkers, Josiah Crawley does just this; he also abhors any outward show of luxury - partly, no doubt, because he hasn't got it, but also from philosophical principles. At some stage between Wesley and the mid Victorian period there was a formal split, leading to the establishment of Methodist congregations alongside CofE congregations when there was sufficient demand, but I understand that there continued within the formal structure of the CofE some very strict and methodical clergy; perhaps Crawley was one such.
Also, Crawley was a scholar and to quote ]Acts 26:24] "much learning doth make thee mad". I think we can see this demonstrated in much of his behaviour throughout the Last Chronicle. As with many poor men, he is proud, and his pride also leads him to extremes.
Now Rory answered Lisa Guardini:
At 18:13 00\06\29, Lisa Guidarini wrote:
"What I can't figure out is how/why it laid around for several months before being cashed and used."
In UK banking, validity of a cheque is for six months from its date. It was not unusual until very recently in rural Ireland that cheques were passed from person to person in settlement of accounts, and only presented for final payment when there was no space left on the back for signatures of the various people who handled the cheque.
Dagny thanked him:
Rory, thanks for this explanation. I have found the whole history of the cheque to be confusing. Of course as Wayne said, there wouldn't be a story otherwise. I couldn't figure out how Crawley wouldn't recall the cashing of the check if it was just a few days in the past but now I see that it could have passed from his hands much earlier.
Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2000 17:56:32 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Griselda again
I have to join in with Catherine and Ellen on the Griselda front. What a wonderfully awe-ful woman she is.
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000 07:25:16 -0500
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle of Barset: Ch 3: Major Grantly and His Father
I've gotten a little behind the group in rereading The Last Chronicle but will catch up shortly, I hope. Last night, before falling asleep, I read Chapter 3, depicting Major Grantly's interview with his father the Archdeacon. What a sheer delight to read! We often single out Trollope's extended paragraphs of description and exposition, because this is where we find much of the meat and substance that we are discussing. But what a master of dialog Trollope is! Here we have the give and take between two intelligent individuals at cross-purposes, and every remark rings true. Can any writer be as good at this, at least in the 19th century (well, Jane Austen, perhaps; but her dialogs, at a farther remove from our own language, often seem more "written" than spoken, even though we, or at least I, believe them completely while reading)? I am looking forward to much more of the same in this book.