September 5, 2000
Re: The Last Chronicle, Chs 56-61: The Importance of Paper (I)
As we all know for some 513 pages (at least in my Houghton Mifflin edition of The Last Chronicle) poor Rev Mr Crawley just cannot remember what he did with a piece of paper. It seems this piece of paper got into his wallet and he gave it to someone else. This person took it to a bank and was told he couldn't get money or (if he had an account in this particular bank), the equivalent in the form of a number put in a ledger which gives him the right to hand about paper of his own.
Paper. It is important in our society and Trollope's. I have not been going into the letters in this novel very much in my weekly posts as I did have a section on the novel in my "Partly Told in Letters" (the lecture I gave to the Trollope Society) where I went into multi-way correspondence between Bishop Proudie and Dr Temple, which is next week going to form a central part of the instalments when the Rev Crawley gets into the act. Crawley writes magnificent letters,as monumental and penetrating and sharp and to the point as the clearest of minds. In fact we might say there's something improbable about his ability to write an impressive eloquent letter and his inability to remember what he does with pieces of paper in his wallet. But of course Crawley doesn't care about money. He has not lived his life to make money, to pile it up, and buy things. He lives in a world of the spirit -- and that is one place from which magnficent letters which mirror the heart can flow. If anyone wants to see what I wrote about Crawley's letters, my lecture is at:
I bring his letters up twice in phase two, but take my example from a letter of Julius Mackenzie which is used in the same way as Crawley's but is unhappily not well known.
This week's instalment, though, has another kind of letter that I didn't go into in detail in my "Partly Told In Letters" (because I had to select and omit), but which is important in Trollope. The anonymous letter which cleverly, insidiously defames someone. In my "Partly Told in Letters" I referred to four other novels and have a footnote on a fifth where they are also used in the way we find in The Last Chronicle: The Macdermots of Ballycloran, Phineas Redux, Popenjoy, Marion Fay, and Landleaguers. What this spread shows is is that anonymous and unsigned letters occur from the first novel to the last in Trollope. These are not the only five stories in which anonymous letters show up, but as with The Last Chronicle, when they do, they make a crucial change in the narrative, a turning point, provide some rational for a character to do something or feel something irretrievable. And in all six of these and all the others I could find the way it is done is nasty. Anonymous and unsigned letters are always ugly in Trollope.
People have asked me what I think Trollope might have thought of writing on the Net. I don't think it's important what decision we speculate on, but rather our reasons for speculating. I speculate Trollope would have been drawn to the Net because he loved to write, was a man who lived in a world of words, loved to read, was aggressive; but at the same time he would have been deeply distrustful, aware of how a written word is a document and can be used against you, how people interpret what they read according to their own self-involved passions, and he would especially have been wary of the ability of people to be anonymous on the Web, to use pseudonyms, false names. Trollope conducts a one-man campaign to get people to sign their names to what they wrote in public so as to make them accountable. His essays on anonymity are worth reading as acute comments on writing in social situations which are public.
Trollope makes it plain that Lily was herself half-looking for some reason to reject John Eames. He makes it plain that she is one of the world's walking wounded. The two scenes where she encounters Crosbie in public show just how deep the pain has gone. Yet her own sexual nature, a real fund of quiet common sense which we see in her witticisms, and time were doing their work; so too John's success in society. So too the disillusioning reality of Crosbie himself. She was beginning to move towards him.
Why then is this letter such poison? I solicit comments. What do others think?
I presented part of my take last week, which I see as reinforced by the narrator's comments this week in language like "she let it drop from her, as though the receiving and opening, and reading it had been a stain to her" (Houghton Mifflin Last Chronicle, ed AMizener, Ch 59, p. 483). A little later Lily says "no gentleman should become intimately acquainted with a woman who could write such a letter as that" (p. 484). Emily has said, well you know men go with such women, and that's the way it is. We may think to ourselves that had it been Bernard, she would not have been so complacent :). It is the sex; Lily is slightly sickened by Johnny's taste; by his going to M.D. and then coming to her and then back to M.D., she is involved in this scabrous sex. As I tried to argue last week Trollope has obliquely through Johnny Eames presented the reality of the bourgeois well-brought up male who can't get sex easily before marriage unless he goes to such women, and whose wife may well have been trained to remain somewhat cold towards him, who may not have known any other man before him, while he is trained to put her on a pedestal and distrust 'wanton' behavior. All of which could in sensitive shy individuals put quite an obstacle before them in achieving sexual fulfillment.
I hope I don't get anyone too excited if I take on some of these terms and say John does have sort of low tastes. Note how Lily suddenly remembers Amelia Roper. We are told that episode pained and offended her too. Note how Trollope is careful to say "She had believed that John Eames had in that case behaved cruelly to a young woman, and had thought that her offence had come simply from that feeling" (p. 484). To put it that way is to hint her offence did not come simply from pity for Amelia. If we listen to her words, we hear sexual distaste rippling through: "there is something very disagreeable in the whole thing". Now Emily is inclined to take the brutal strong line: this is a world where aggressors win out; slide over it, and grab: "why should you not stand in her way". People like Crawley are the world's losers because they are squeamish. Lily is just the sort of person who will not lower herself to take anyway she can: "I will stand in nobody's way". Pride or integrity or distaste for competition, refusing to battle? This does remind me of Mr Harding too. And like Mr Harding, Lily goes on to say, what she is supposed to battle for suddenly seems less than worth it.
There is something else. Lily has been jilted before. And in the way she talks about M.D. she might just be talking about Lady Alexandria de Courcy: "'Interfere with me ... nobody has the power to interfere with me; nobody has the power to do so" (p. 485). That's an interesting way to put it. But of course everyone has had the power to interfere. The De Courcys interfered; her uncle, the Squire, interfered; she was interfered with everywhere she turned, and she was powerless to hold onto to Crosbie. Trollope's intuitive understanding of her motives comes out in this use of language.
He reinforces the weight of this slip of paper in the particular circumstances of a girl now depressed, a girl who has been jilted by a man to whom she gave herself, now beginning to be ready to give herself to another in the more commonplace general language of his narrator towards the end of the chapter:
"Poor Johnny. He had stood in much better favour before the lady had presented her compliments to Miss L. D. It was that odious letter and the thoughts which it had forced upon Lily's mind, which were now most inimical to his interests. Whether Lily loved him or not, she did not love him well enough to be jealous of him. Had any such letter reached her respecting Crosbie in the happy days of her young love, she would have simply laughed at it. It would have been nothing to her. But now she was sore and unhappy, and any trifle was powerful enough to irritate her" (p. 492).
When Lily's mind was strong, before the blow, she would have laughed off such a letter. She would have seen the essential powerlessness of an M.D. She also is not jealous of Johnny; that is, she doesn't care enough to fear a rival. She doesn't want him that way, meaning sexually. Trollope has several novels where he studies sexual jealousy: it is always bound up with the desire to possess, and fear of losing the other person, anxiety over losing face lest you lose the other person in front of others. Alas, Lily feels nothing of this for Johnny; had she felt it, she might actually have had the animal response of standing in M.D.'s way. Instead all it does it add another knife to move around in a wound that has not yet formed a scab. We may identify this way: you go to work, have a hard day, are not promoted, people give you a hard time, you come home and discover some thing happening which further hurts you in some small way. You blow up because your spirits are weakened before you got to it.
I have gone on too long probably because this instalment with the scenes of Lily meeting Crosbie and her reaction to the letter are a kind of culmination of a two book long development which has many different strands, all of them of social, sexual, psychological and moral interest today still. In those places where we differ from Trollope's generation this and last week's chapters in London are of interest. For example, the idea that Crosbie should somehow have vanished himself, that he never should have spoken to Lily. I assume many people today would not respond to his behavior as insulting Lily. People today might even be sympathetic to his desire to remarry, and marry Lily. Is there anyone on this list brave enough to say this? Why should he not? Except of course then he would not respect Lily ever, given how much she has shown she needed him; he would be too dominant, and as Trollope has shown from the beginning, he is not a generous male.
I'll stop here and put the rest of this posting in a Part Two.
Re: The Last Chronicle, Chs 56-61: The Importance of Paper (II)
If I may stretch my definition of paper to include more than the thin letter-kind, I have three more to mention from this week's instalment.
First, there's the cardboard placard on which Archdeacon Grantly's son announces to the world he is selling up, selling out, reveals in public that he has to give up his position and live in a smaller way somewhere else. Thomas in his picture captured how gingerly the Archdeacon approached that paper; Dagny mentioned how he then
"raised his umbrella and poked angrily at the disgusting notice. The iron ferule caught the paper at a chink in the post, and tore it from the top to the bottom. But what was the use? A horrid ugly bill lying torn in such a spot would only attract more attention than one fixed to a post" (Ch 57, p. 465).
He will now have to guarantee to his son that he will not remove the money at his will if he is to have the son yield to him. He has shown his trump card (that he had the ability to withdraw the income), and thus lost the game :). Life's not a game of cards because human psychology bypasses these tricks.
Only in a modern society where people buy and sell at a distance -- the same world which passes £20 notes from hand to hand and so values respectability and 'face'. Our next 'paper' is also attached to money: had Dalrymple not torn his canvas he could have gotten several hundred pounds for it. Alas, too bad the Rev Crawley doesn't paint (joke alert, joke alert). He doesn't even carry around little cards with his name on it so he can be fit into the hierarchy. He won't be compromised in this way. He won't buy into this use of paper, even if it means each time he comes to a house he is subjected to nonsensical indignities. Thus my second instance. I like him for this, though I suppose he can't afford little cards either.
My third instance is the canvas which Conway Dalrymple tears up. I know it's not quite paper, but never mind; it functions as a represention of reality which is fungible and can mean money. Why does Dalrymple tear his canvas up? Money. He won't be taken as the kind of person Mrs Van Siever is or takes him for. Another instance of pride. In fact Crawley, Lily, Archdeacon Grantly and now Dalrymple provide scenes which can be linked as the complicated forms pride takes in our society.
I agree with Dagny that we are not given enough of Dalrymple and Clara to care about them. I see this as part of Trollope's obliqueness: as he can't really present the sex that would have gone in between Dalrymple and Maria Clutterbuck, he is stymied in dramatising the full implications of the picture which I suppose is supposed to be a kind of vague allegorical representation of the characters as betraying one another sordidly. It is an odd choice. Clara plays Jael who first succoured the fleeing Canaanite general Sisera, gave him milk to drink and then drove a nail through his head. Not very nice of Jael :). Dalrymple takes the role of. Sisera. Maybe Trollope merely wants us to see the absurdity of these superexpensive allegorical pictures aristocrats and wealthy people would have done of themselves from time to time. But there is something suggestive here. In medieval tales when people commit suicide, they drive nails through their heads. Dobbs Broughton is on the edge. Jael is capable of betrayal. There's Maria and Mrs Van Siever, the latter of whom is hammering away at poor Dobbs. Why have the young couple stand in for them? Freud might have said here's a slip: Trollope embodies his obliqueness by an oblique picture, but then that's too clever by half.
Cheers to all,
Subject: [trollope-l] LCB: Rev. Crawley and Calling Cards
Until Ellen mentioned it I hadn't thought of Rev. Crawley's lack of calling cards as another "paper" example, but it certainly is. Of course that poor man can not afford calling cards and since he has no ambitions regarding society, there is no need for him to take food off the table in order to have some cards printed for himself. The only times he has even been asked to produce them is when he has been asked to appear on a matter of business, appear at the Bishop's, appear at Dr. Tempest's. Can any one feature the residents of Hogglestock or the brick-maker's requesting a card? I laughed right out loud at the scene where the Bishop's butler was asking for a card and Crawley told him that he would write his name on a piece of paper if the man was unable to remember it.
As an aside about calling cards, in a book I read by P. G. Wodehouse an intrepid female reporter gained entry to someone who had been refusing her requests for an interview by taking a well-known person's calling card from a tray in the hall of someone else's house and writing on the back of it that they would consider it a great favor if an interview would be granted. Worked like a charm. The power of paper.
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 11:57:14 -0700
Subject: [trollope-l] Paper, Greek, and a Rejection of Modern Society
Ellen Moody's remarks a few days ago on Crawley's rejection of the world of paper make me think of the passage in Plato where the invention of writing is bewailed as disastrous for the integrity of human life. It seems that Crawley is more attached to the Greek classics than to the Scriptures, and while he is proud of knowing more Hebrew than Dean Arabin and conscientiously devotes his Saturdays to writing his weekly sermon, we see again and again that it is the knowledge of ancient Greek and its classics that is dearest to his heart of hearts. The reference to that poetry prize -- one given for writing Greek poetry, I believe? -- is very telling.
Now, this knowledge aspires to be independent of any paper-based culture. Though Arabin's possession of beautiful books does inspire bitterness, deeper down Crawley is proud of the fact that he keeps his Greek *alive* with only a few well-worn texts, and even more proud of the fact that he knows *by heart* so much of the original Greek (as well as Greek-inspired English poetry). (I found the evolution of his thought about Hoggett's "It's dogged as does it" lesson somewhat difficult to follow, but it seems to me that one way to approach it would be to argue that Crawley twists what is really an injunction to Christian (or even pre-Christian) humility and endurance and faith into a call to a summons to inner and essentially Greek nobility, reaching a conclusion that Hoggett would not approve.) What we see in Crawley is an attachment to "profane" literature that in other cultural contexts would be seen as problematic for a Christian preacher -- though not, apparently, in England in the 1860s, where the Greek classics were such a well-entrenched basis of the higher learning.
To return to the theme of *paper*, Crawley's practical problems also come from his disdain for modernity in the form of the money economy. He refuses to look inside the envelope which contains the charitable gift from the Arabins because of his distaste for such things and everything they represent, and so comes to make his second false statement about where he found the twenty-pound check. Here again his embrace of an ideal of proud and 'noble' independence could be seen as inappropriate in a Christian preacher and more in accord with the aristocratic culture of the Greeks than with the leveling message of the Hebrew Scriptures. (I am thinking of the contrasting values described in the opening chapters of Auerbach's *Mimesis*.)
And this is not the only way in which Crawley hates modernity. His assurance that it can never be proper for any woman to be involved in authoritative ecclesiastical deliberations, leading to his dramatic exclamation to Mrs Proudie ("Peace, woman!"), is part of the ideology that he has embraced.
It seems to me that many of the reservations I feel about Crawley's tragic stance are linked to my sense that the only society in which he would be truly content would be a traditional theocratic state of the kind envisioned by, say, the 17th-century Puritans, where the spiritual authority that he feels ought to be his would be recognized and exalted. This, of course, is *not* a Greek ideal -- the Greeks never embraced theocracy. Rather, Crawley seems to feel that a Greek sense of nobility should inform a Christian priesthood exercising real power -- and imagining a society where power is delivered into the hands of men like Crawley makes me shudder. (Perhaps I am extrapolating excessively here, since these thoughts are never attributed to him.)
Of course, Trollope emphasizes that Crawley's excessive "self-consciousness" is also to blame in his demise -- his problems derive not only from his ideas, but, even more, from his psychological characteristics, which have no doubt predisposed him toward the values he embraces.
I wish the effect upon the Crawley girls of reading so much Greek had been explored by Trollope.
Perhaps I should "introduce" myself, since I'm long-time lurker on this list who has quietly profited from the excellent contributions found here but hasn't contributed a thing to them for several years now. I've rarely been able to keep up with the reading but have this summer finally found myself doing a little better in that regard. I'm 49 years old and have been a teacher of French at Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA) for going on 12 years now -- our first day of classes is tomorrow. I have long had an interest in the 19th-century -- the first half of the century, and French literature, is my principal focus. I wrote a dissertation on Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863) and recently translated Paul Benichou's *The Consecration of the Writer, 1750-1830* (U. of Nebraska Press, 1999). I'm pretty much self-taught when it comes to British literature, but love reading the Victorians. I began to read Trollope in the late 1970s after enjoying the BBC Palliser series, and have read about a dozen of his novels over the past twenty years (though almost none of the Palliser series). What brings me back to Trollope again and again is his insight into human character, and I must say that I find Ellen Moody's explorations of them (e.g. in recent discussions of Lily Dale) particularly insightful. I find even his minor characters to be 'rounded' in a way that dazzles me, and I find that I come to care about even minor characters like Clara von Siever and Dalrymple and Hopkins and Fletcher Pratt. *The Small House at Allington* was wonderful in that respect.
Best to all,
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2000 12:28:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] LCB -- It's dogged as does it
Mark, I agree. I thought it was just me, but when I saw what Crawley was doing with the advice "It's dogged as does it," I thought he was taking it in the exact opposite direction than it was meant.
Mark, thanks for the introduction. No wonder you know all that French. I have never read anyting by Vigny. Aside from Paul and Virginia most of my French novel reading has been 19th century.
Re: The Anonymous Letter Sent to Lily
Ellen wrote last week about letters and asked of the anonymous letter :
"Why then is this letter such poison? I solicit comments. What do others think?"
I've only just caught up on these chapters but my thoughts are that its the way that her private difficulties are so very public which causes Lily extra pain and digs her further in the mire (to use a Trollope phrase). The anonymous letter appears to know a lot about her and she is made aware that a particularly spiteful person whom she does not know, has this private information about her. That is painful. The scene where she meets Crosbie for the second time reinforce this public airing of private shame. Everyone sees and everyone knows. In the carriage on the way home, she is lectured about her private life in a way, as Lily comments, that only her mother has a right to do, no-one else should know or feel able to speak. They wouldn't speak to her and tread on her agonised toes in this way, if the knowledge about her was not public. It is this element in the letter which gives it its power.
From Rory O'Farrell
It wasn't that long since Dr Johnson said "Hearing a woman preach is like seeing a dog walking on its hind legs - the wonder is not that 'tis done well, but that 'tis done at all". Within the Church of England and closely associated churches, it wasn't until very recently that a woman could be ordained (early 1990s?), and within the Roman Catholic Church it is still not permissible that that should happen. In Crawley's time, the church was definitely a male preserve - only in some of the (very) nonconformist churches, such as the case of Ann Lee, who founded the Shakers, had women been involved at higher levels, and these would be extremely scandalous (not to mention almost heretical) examples which I doubt Mr Crawley would entertain.
September 11, 2000
Re: Last Chronicle of Barsetshire: Crawley and Lily: Tragic Figures Why for many readers does Crawley emerge as the tragic figure and not Lily Dale? In Lily's case those around her are persuaded that it is her feeling which is limited not the life in which she has been imprisoned. Mrs Thorne who has become a tonic choral voice articulates the idea: 'It may be that some memory of what has gone before is allowed to stand in your way, [but] it should should not be so allowed. It sometimes happens that a morbid sentiment will destroy a life'. Since Mrs Thorne realises this is a painful criticism for anyone to hear, she immediately apologises: 'Excuse me, then, Lily, if I say too much to you in my hope that you may not suffer after this fashion' (Houghton Mifflin, Last Chronicle, Ch 49, p, 491). But the sentence stands and it is not qualified for the world of Allington is not presented as a prison, or at least Lily's part of it is not. Rather, the small house is an asylum to which she retreats. Mrs Thorne does not deny that feeling will destroy some lives, but argues that in Lily's case, given her family and new choice, this need not be so ("if the thing fairly comes in her way, and if her friends approve, and if she is fond of the man who is fond of her", p. 491). I have deliberately excised all the references to love and marriage so that we can see this paradigm as more generally applicable to us all. For the 20th century reader the bad experience which can be overcome is perhaps more likely to occur in a school, in some public place where we are carrying on a career.
With Crawley, the case is reversed. It is not his feeling which has limited him, but a life (a position in society) in which he has been imprisoned and whose hard walls and degrading routines have. By degrading routines l mean keeping off butcher bills, teaching in a school no one respects or cares. Repeatedly in his novels Trollope teaches us what the world thinks of what we are doing will strongly shape our evaluation of ourselves and those closest to us. Crawley's house and life despite the kindness of his family is his prison, for their lack of comprehension does not soften his plight but exacerbates it. It does for Lily, but as her plight is about her private life, she can bear it better (except of course when she meets the man in public). The scene between Hoggett and Crawley occurs at the edge of a tragic pattern we see in other of Trollope's novels too. Lady Mason in _Orley Farm_ is in a number of ways the closest character to Crawley in all Trollope's novels.
September 11, 2000
Re: Last Chronicle of Barsetshire: Troubled Individuals
For another group reading on another list I recently read George Meredith's Diana of the Crossways and for my latest project (a book partly on Jane Austen) have been listening to Peter Gay's biography of Freud and brilliant analysis of the pyscholanalytic movement in the context of Victorian times. Out of this I have another kind of comment to make on Lily and Crawley -- and yes Adolphus Crosbie, who has become a misfit and pariah, and the miseries of Bishop Proudie. Trollope's take on all these cases is very Victorian, very pre-1890s and the Freudian or psycholoanalytic movement. He seems to think that's what needed for troubled individuals is to integrate into their society. If only they can get good positions on the hierarchy, all will be well. He is not interested in their inner troubles beyond as indices of they have been rejected, humiliated or otherwise betrayed by their society and its mores. What goes on in the mind beyond this is not of interest: it's always remarkable how women seem never to have anything to do in his novels but visit one another, be courted and marry. They never read a book on their own, have no interests. The males too are only seen as they are in social situations; there is no inner life beyond this. In novels after 1890s when troubled individuals are presented, we are often show how their trouble stems from how their inner impulses, gifts, needs, have been stifled by society and that society has no need of these gifts, impulses, works hard to repress them, thus making the individual sicker. Phillis's brain fever in a modern novel would be the psychosomatic result of her repression and life as a prison. Although we can read that into Gaskell's novel, I doubt she saw it quite that way, or at least not consciously. In a Bloomsbury or 20th century novel troubled individuals move away from society as irrelevant, no help, a backdrop you can't ignore as you have to make a living from it, at best an indifferent structure, sometimes which is besides the point. This is true of Proust when it comes to the narrator's fulfillment. Often in serious 20th century novels which are not of the political social stripe (like Steinbeck's _Grapes of Wrath_ or Sinclair Lewis's _Elmer Gantry_) characters can't integrate in any conventional way. This is true of even such an apparently old- fashioned book as _A Dance to the Music of Time_. Powell differs utterly from Trollope in his angle of vision on the individual as he or she relates to society.
All this is to say that even where it is most interesting, The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire remains a very Victorian novel in its outlook, psychological matter, and solutions for our lives.
Re: Last Chronicle & Public Shame in Trollope
This is to agree with Angela when she writes:
'that its the way that her private difficulties are so very public which causes Lily extra pain and digs her further in the mire (to use a Trollope phrase). The anonymous letter appears to know a lot about her and she is made aware that a particularly spiteful person whom she does not know, has this private information about her. That is painful. The scene where she meets Crosbie for the second time reinforce this public airing of private shame. Everyone sees and everyone knows. In the carriage on the way home, she is lectured about her private life in a way, as Lily comments, that only her mother has a right to do, no-one else should know or feel able to speak. They wouldn't speak to her and tread on her agonised toes in this way, if the knowledge about her was not public. It is this element in the letter which gives it its power.'
Let me move out to generalise and suggest that many of Trollope's most powerful scenes and riveting characters are those who feel they have been shamed in public. Numbers of the original illustrations to the novels depict such a scene, interestingly often with male characters at the center: Crawley is not the only character to be asked to face a potentially deeply humiliating ordeal; in The Vicar of Bullhampton we have a cast of characters who have to face a 'mob', Fenwick at one point, Carrie and her father at another. Trollope casts his trial scenes as experiences in shaming for the defendents. Another source of power in such scenes is Trollope's perception that try as we might the private person does testify to his inner life in public; we can't hide ourselves to those able to see and to hear. The most poignant instance of this is the scene in 'The Spotted Dog' where Julius Mackenzie shows up for his interview, but Lily's second encounter with Crosbie comes close.
Probably one should not de-emphasise the sex either. Lily broke several taboos during her engagement with Crosbie (her willingness to appear in love with him very early on is more than mere incaution); she had some form of intimate sexual experience and everyone assumes that engaged couples do. When she reads M.D.'s letter, she begins to wonder if there is anywhere she can go, where no one will know about how she offered herself up just about freely, only to be rejected partly because she did offer herself so freely.
To Judy: I see a real parallel between the choice of life Lily is making and the one that in He Knew He Was Right Priscilla Stanbury, one of Trollope's most sympathetic old maids, makes.
Cheers to all,
From Angela Richardson:
Re: On Behalf of Dr Tempest
Lets hear it for Dr Tempest, the only character in the book so far who could make Mr Crawley take any sustenance!
I love his letter to Crawley and the movement in it from official to persuasive. Clearly this is bringing out the latent civil servant in me, but I've very much enjoyed the Dr Tempest scenes. They make a nice foil with Mr Toogood as they both operate with the same motive though in thoroughly different ways.
Re: Last Chronicle: The Ordinary Good Man
I too like Dr Tempest. Trollope's conception here may be caught up in the names: one man makes for decent behavior in others by strong adherence to high ethical codes; he will not manipulate them. Thus he can weather 'a tempest' and his strength of character is tempestuous. Trollope's little joke is the other man might as well have just sent their chairs to the meeting for all the weight their various opinions had in Dr Tempest's final determination.
He is somewhat different from Toogood though. Toogood is more idealised; he really seems to see into Mr Crawley, feel for him, and begin to see the world as Crawley does. He is our Sherlock Holmes with an intensely empathetic heart. He cares nothing for the outer visibilia of snobbery -- that's what he sees dinner à la Russe as. He wouldn't care if a man had a card or not. Dr Tempest is more the ordinary person, doesn't see so far into personalities and intangibles. He values the visibilia a good deal. But he has a grasp on the decent practicalities of life and understands justice. He does little about injustice personally, but he won't act so as to increase it. He doesn't lose his perspective on the essentials of life that count. This is actually a rare enough type in our world. He might be silent when bad things are going on, but he cannot be made to work to make for injust evils.
Re: Terror at Child Birth and Strong Reluctance to Become a Baby Machine
This is written in response to the thread on old maids and childbirth. I agree that most of the 19th century novels I've read do not present women's emotions about childbirth as such, much less the actual scene or how such fears could contribute to a woman choosing to remain single. This may stem from the singularly repressive nature of the texts of these English Victorian novels. In the 18th century this is not so at all. Richardson's Pamela is terrified of childbirth. There are letters where she talks of her fear of dying; Richardson intuitively goes into a feeling or mythic dread some women have before they have ever experienced childbirth: they fear that somehow there will not be room, they will explode or be torn apart. Richardson is remarkably frank, but I could cite a slew of novels by women from the later 18th century where these ideas reappear with equal clarity if less frankness. Charlotte Smith actually has a novella (not in print) where she describes a childbirth from the point of view of the woman experiencing it. No wonder. She had twelve. (This kind of description is still not common.; The only novel I can think of written recently which really goes into the experience is Still Life by A. S. Byatt. It's still daring, even in books which purport to be about love and marriage.)
The letters and memoirs of the 18th century, published and unpublished, also make it clear that women talked openly to one another or close friends about their fear of childbirth, and their comments swirl around the high mortality rate. No matter how many children you had had, the next one could kill you. And such deaths could be very painful. Consider Mary Wollstonecraft's (described in Claire Tomalin's biography of her). So much can still go wrong. The present high-rate of C-sections among middle class women in our society is not entirely the result of physicians' fear of lawsuit. A genre emerged in which women wrote letters to their present children about their wishes for their education, just in case they weren't there to supervise :).
Another aspect openly talked of in the 18th century is that women became baby machines. There seems to have been two choices for the chaste women in this repressive society with no contraception. You could not marry and have to live without sex altogether; or you could marry and be endlessly burdened with pregnancies. The basis for this was the economic system which still had a large substratum of people living on a subsidence level, and the reality that the gentry were not themselves so readily assimiliated into a network where an income was secured. Hence all these novels about how the young couple must wait ten years before they marrry. This forms one of the subplots of _The Bertrams_. It's interesting to note that Trollope himself did not wait to marry until he was absolutely secure or owned a house, so this waiting period was something of a myth, meaning not always practiced. But it was an ideal for the 'prudent' bourgeois.
However, to talk of the money angle is to miss the woman's point of view. She was given two choices, neither of which was desirable, the latter one would exhaust her. Sure this didn't come out explicitly in the didactic-sentimental books of the 18th century any more than subversive thoughts are stressed in those of our own day. Such books basically work hard not to offend whatever is the cant of the larger part of the audience at any time. But it does emerge in private letters -- and frequently. I will confine myself to one pithy quote by Jane Austen about her niece who in six years had been pregnant three times and endured two miscarriages, and was she saw pregnant once again:
Anna has not a chance of escape; her husband called here the other day, & said she was pretty well but not equal to "so long a walk; she must come in her "Donkey Carriage. -- Poor Animal, she will be worn out before she is thirty. --- I am very sorry for her. -- Mrs Clement too is in that way again. I am quite tired of so many Children. -- Mrs Benn has a 13th... (Jane Austen's Letters, ed. Le Faye 336, Letter dated Sunday 23-Tuesday 25 March 1817).
Austen herself is also not the only woman conscious that were she to marry all writing of books would cease for her. Consider the long period of dependence of children, and women did not just turn their children over to the nursemaids. They were continually involved in their education and illnesses. This choice has by no means gone from us today. I know of numbers of women who have chosen not to have any children so they can pursue a career, and there is a real conflict. Where I teach I would say you can correlate whether a woman has become a full-time tenured professor or not with the number of children she has had -- or not had.
Lily's decision to remain an old maid is a radical choice, one which undermines the conventions and social structures of our society. She doesn't make her thinking behind it explicit, but the protests against her choice show it bothers people today who themselves have taken on burdens they don't always like and resent someone who has not. In He Knew He Was Right Priscilla Stanbury says she simply has never seen a man she liked -- there are those who suggest we have in Priscilla the outlines of a portrait of a closet or implicit lesbian, and Ruth apRoberts does not dismiss the notion in an article she wrote on sex in HKHWR at all.
Cheers to all,
From Judy Geater:
Fear of Childbirth in Other 19th Century Novels
Reading Ellen's fascinating post on fear of childbirth in 19th-century fiction, I was reminded that, in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Anna repeatedly speaks of her fear that she will die in giving birth to her second (illegitimate) child, and mentions that her time is drawing near. It seems as if, here as in other areas, a Russian writer could be more outspoken than an English or American one of the same period. Makes me wonder how the French writers handled this theme... Dagny?
In English novels like Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd and George Eliot's Adam Bede, as readers we are made to feel the rising panic of the desperate and lonely "fallen" women about to give birth (Fanny and Hetty) but I don't think we are ever told explicitly that either of them is pregnant - we are given strong hints and left to draw our own conclusions. In both these novels, too, the fear is not just of childbirth, but of *illegitimate* childbirth, with the accompanying shame and disgrace.
On a lighter note, in David Copperfield, Mrs Micawber is "in an interesting condition" almost every time she turns up - but she seems to be afraid not of the birth itself, only of finding the money to provide for the latest little Micawber once he or she arrives!
Dagny responded to Judy Geater:
Judy wrote (about fear of childbirth in literature):
"It seems as if, here as in other areas, a Russian writer could be more outspoken than an English or American one of the same period. Makes me wonder how the French writers handled this theme... Dagny?"
Hmmmm, I am thinking, and I can't really remember it coming up, I'm sure it must have in some of the French novels I've read. Surely somewhere.
Usually with Balzac stories the children are there, or a widower is mourning because his wife died in childbirth.
Zola wrote one with a horrific childbirth scene. I haven't read that novel and can't recall which one it was. I read in one of Colette's books, she said how as a child how her parents kept Zola's books locked up. The entire family were avid readers and all the books were available to all the children with the exception of Zola. Colette conned her mother into letting her read "some" of Zola's books. At this time she is maybe 10, give or take a couple of years. She was quite frightened by the childbirth scene and recalled it when her older sister was having a baby.
From Dagny Re: "The End of Jael" and "Archdeacon Goes to Framley"
The entire section for this week was great. The only chapter I didn't care much for was 60, The End of Jael and Sisera. I just haven't developed much of an interest in those characters.
In "The Archdeacon Goes to Framley" I couldn't help but compare his aversion to his son's proposed marriage to Lady Lufton's (the elder) aversion when she found her son bent on marrying Miss Robards. This is another instance where readers that have not read the entire series in order will miss out on a bit.
Remembering how Miss Robards would not marry Lord Lufton against his mother's disapproval and until Lady Lufton had asked her too, I wonder what will come to pass between the archdeacon and Grace Crawley.
I find that I'm more impressed by Lily's determination and independence on
this--my second-reading of this book. The first time I only remembered the
part of Lily that clung to Crosbie as godlike. Perhaps because I'm seeing
her as more sexually attracted (I hate this phrase but can't think of
another) this time, I understand better, and can also see her strong side as
well. She's going on with her life, and it's not an enviable future in her