Different Editions; Cambridge and Lowell (Harvard College); The Rights of Women; Emily Faithful; Trollope and the Superego; Crinolines; Trollope and Feminism

Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002
Re: North America: Different Editions

Dear All,

This is to thank Judy for typing the chapter titles since anyone who is reading the Knopf edition (which does not reprint the State Constitution of New York) will in the next few weeks be reading a slightly different set of chapters. Surely no harm done, at any rate for this week the "extra" or different chapter (one ahead) is, like Chapter 16, on education.

As will be seen, the Knopf edition lacks Volume 2, Chapter 9 (The Constitution of the United States), 10 (The Government), and 11 (The Law Courts and Lawyers of the United States) listed by Judy directly below.

First, here are Judy's chapters (from I believe the DaCapo edition) for last, this and the two next weeks:

April 7: Volume 1, Chapters 13 (An Apology for the War) to 15 (The Constitution of the State of New York).

April 14: Volume 1, Chapters 16 (Boston) to 18 (The Rights of Women).

April 21: Volume 1, Chapters 19 (Education and Religion) to 20 (From Boston to Washington).

April 28: Volume 2, Chapters 1 (Washington) to 2 (Congress).

Then, for these four weeks, here is what we who have the Knopf and are reading or writing along can read so as to stay at the same trot:

April 7: Chapters 13 (An apology for the War), 14 (New York) and 15 (Boston).

April 14: Chapters 16 (Cambridge and Lowell), 17 (The Rights of women) and 18 (Education and Religion)

April 21: Chapters 19 (From Boston to Washington) and 20 (Washington) April 28: Chapter 21 (Congress).

For what's coming after that, here is a summary: the Knopf edition has a Chapter 30 (Literature and which would be in Judy's edition Volume 2, Chapter 15). The Knopf "Literature" comes between Judy's "American Hotels" (for her Volume 2, Chapter 14, for us with the Knopf Chapter 29) and Judy's "Conclusion" (for her Volume 2, Chapter 16, for us with the Knopf Chapter 31). I will type the relevant titles when we get closer so we can all see the difference.

Over the course of the whole book the Knopf people have a chapter the Da Capo skipped; and Da Capo has four chapters the Knopf skipped; the Knopf is consecutively numbered and the DaCapo volumed and then numbered within volumes. For myself instead of reading the Constitution, Government, Law Courts &c, I'll read the Appendices in the Knopf (which include descriptions and quotations from Trollope's manuscript, itinerary of his 1861-62 trip, of his first trip and of his visit to California in 1875). If someone is willing to type a comparison of chapter headings for the Trollope Society edition, and summarize the differences, that would be helpful.


Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002

Dear all

This is to thank Ellen for explaining the differences between the editions - I will make sure that in future I post a concise calendar each week giving all the headings of that week's chapters in my edition, which is actually the Granville Publishing one (based on the third English edition of 1862 from Chapman and Hall), so that people know which chapters I'm talking about!

It is very helpful to have Ellen's different set of chapter numbers and headings and I agree it would be good to know the line-up in the Trollope Society edition, if somebody can help.

Just to add I don't think anybody has missed much by not having the chapter 'The Constitution of the State of New York' in their edition - this is a very short factual chapter and to be honest I can't think of much to say about it beyond that!

Judy Geater

Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002
Re: Cambridge and Lowell: Harvard College

Dear all

Here are a few more comments on this week's section of 'North America'.

Chapter 17

Trollope was clearly impressed by Harvard and writes in detail about the system there, contrasting it with Cambridge and Oxford in England. He shows that characteristic even-handedness we have come to expect by now, with praise for both systems, arguing that at Harvard the general level of achievement is higher, but "the greatest incentives to high excellence" are at Cambridge and Oxford because of the special honours for the top students there.

Some of the terms he mentions, "senior wrangler", "senior and junior optime" are specific to the Maths tripos at Cambridge - wranglers are students who graduate in Maths with first-class honours, and the senior wrangler is the top student. Senior optime is a second-class degree and junior optime is a third.

I was interested to see that it seems as if 19th-century students at Harvard were kept on a tighter rein than those at Oxbridge colleges, with a patron supervising how they spent their money, and a ban on alcohol - similar to the sort of rules we have already seen in the section on West Point. Trollope comments that such a system "has its advantages". When you look at some of the Oxbridge students in his novels, who spend all their money on drink and gambling, run up huge debts and never study at all, it certainly seems as if a patron could have helped! Thackeray's Cambridge career was like this in real life, as reflected in 'Pendennis'.

I was especially interested to see Trollope's account of Lowell, because Dickens also visited the mills here and wrote about them in 'American Notes'. A Dickens conference has just been held in Lowell and Martha Rosso of the Dickens Fellowship has just written a piece about it which was posted on DICKNS-L - I'll just quote one passage, about CD's visit to the mills:

"Another panel had to do with economic and environmental concerns during Lowell's factory heyday. The topics discussed were, among others, "Working Conditions in the 19th and 20th Centuries," and, probably of most interest to Dickensians, the talk by Robert Forrant of the University of Massachusetts titled "Did Dickens See The Real Workers?" In his talk, Professor Forrant answered his own question with "Probably not." Dickens was in Lowell for only four hours. His hosts were the mill owners, and they took him to see what they claimed was a representative factory. Dickens got all his information from these owners; thus the glowing report he made about how well-taken-care-of the factory girls were, how happy they were, etc. What Dickens didn't mention (probably didn't know about) was that there were industrial strikes both before and after his visit, the strikers concerned about low wages, of course, but even more than that the unsafe working conditions and the heartlessly long hours the workers had to put in on their jobs."

I see that Trollope's report is also glowing, making me wonder how long he spent in Lowell and whether his hosts were the mill-owners too. Does anybody know? (He does quote at length from an official handbook.) He certainly paints a picture of the mill-workers being relatively well-paid, fed and cared for, and calls Lowell "the realization of a commercial Utopia". I get the impression, however, that his visit was more thorough and wide-ranging than Dickens's - he visited two factories and went and looked around a boarding-house where he even inspected the bedrooms, although we have no way of knowing whether this landlady was typical.

I can't find a mention of the hours worked, but it may well be that things had improved in between Dickens's and Trollope's visits. It's also noticeable that Trollope is contrasting the lives of these workers with those he has observed in Manchester. Whatever the problems with working conditions in Lowell, he clearly thought they were vastly preferable to those he had seen at factories in Britain.

Trollope does show a sensible scepticism when he is assured that the factory hands suffered no real hardship during a recent factory closure. He warns readers that things at Lowell may not always be as positive as they appeared on his visit.

"I was assured, with something of a smile of contempt at the question, that there had been nothing like hunger. But, as I said before, visitors always see a great deal of rose colour, and should endeavour to allay the brilliancy of the tint with the proper amount of human shading. But do not let any visitor mix in the browns with too heavy a hand!"

I'll write separately about Chapter 18.

Judy Geater

Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002
Re: Rights of Women

Hello all

Here are a few thoughts on Trollope's chapter on the rights of women in 'North America'. Presumably the subject partly arose in his mind at this point in the book because of his observation of the factory girls in Lowell. He wrestles here with the question of whether women should be allowed/encouraged to take up paid work - and, if so, what kind of work is suitable. He doesn't ignore working-class women, the majority of whom I believe did work in some way at this period (taking in washing etc), but he seems to focus mainly on middle-class women, I suppose in line with his probable readership.

Trollope takes a practical view in arguing that young women are unwilling to take on long apprenticeships because it could interfere with marriage prospects. At a time when an unmarried woman was "on the shelf" by her early 20s - and when marriage often meant a baby every year - this must indeed have been the case. How could a woman take on a long training when her marriageable period was so short?

But he never really faces the question of what to do with all the women who don't marry - the "Odd Women" as George Gissing called them. From what I've read elsewhere, I believe it is true that, for whatever reason, there were many more young unmarried women than unmarried men in Britain during most of the 19th century (I don't know whether this was also the case in America), so providing employment wasn't a question of women being "withdrawn from the marriage market".

He also seems to overlook the argument that women should have a choice of whether to marry, rather than being forced into it by financial necessity. It is odd that he does overlook this here, because in his novels it is clear he does believe that women should have a choice. Trollope is very unusual among mid- Victorian novelists in writing about beautiful and spirited heroines who could marry and yet decide not to. I find it hard to think of a counterpart to Lily Dale in any other novelist's works of the period - of course, there may well be plenty I haven't thought of! Most 19th-century heroines either marry or die, but Trollope shows us women who do neither. In 'He Knew He Was Right', there is the interesting figure of Priscilla, who does not even want to marry - and Trollope at one point says she should have been his heroine. "Old maids" of course feature in many Victorian novels, but Trollope is unusual in showing some women who make a conscious choice not to marry.

Of course, though, many of his women have no choice. It seems to me that he is perhaps the novelist who shows the grim bartering of the marriage market most forcefully - I think of Arabella in 'The American Senator' (a forerunner of Lily Bart in 'The House of Mirth'), desperately setting out to win a man she does not even like because time is running out and any marriage is better than none. There are so many women in the same situation. In our current read, 'The Way We Live Now', Georgiana insists she will marry the first man who asks her, whatever he is like, simply as a means of leaving home. Again, in the novels, Trollope writes with great sensitivity about unhappy marriages, and shows women forced to work to support their families - Lady Carbury with her 'Criminal Queens' is a case in point.

Thinking of all the unhappy and desperate women in his novels, and of his parents' disastrous marriage, it seems strange that he can say in this chapter of 'North America':

"The best right a woman has is the right to a husband, and that is the right to which I would recommend every young woman here and in the States to turn her best attention."

This might have been his ideal, but the experiences of many couples in his fiction show he knew that marriage didn't always work out like that in practice. Perhaps all this shows again that he could sometimes speak out more forcefully under the veil of his fiction than in a travel book.

I get the impression this chapter is mainly aimed at men, but that Trollope is aware some of his readers will be women, and he is at least trying not to be too patronising. The chapter doesn't have the angry and sometimes aggressive tone of his earlier passage about the crinolines.

When Trollope complains that the working hours of 8am to 9pm in the library are unsuitable for women, he is right, of course. But these hours would also have been awful for men!

I know I've posted a lot for one day, but I won't be around tomorrow, so wanted to get together all my thoughts on this week's chapters of 'North America'. It would be good to hear other people's views on this part of the book.

Bye for now
Judy Geater

To Trollope-l

April 15, 2002

Re: Trollope's North America, Education and Women's Rights (I)

As Judy wrote, Trollope's travel-memoir is yet another book of this genre where finally its essential content remains autobiographical or at least deeply personal in structuring and content even when the author steadfastly refuses to allow us into the more intimate details of his life. She wrote:

"Trollope doesn't tend to give us this sort of material, but, increasingly, I'm feeling that his personality is strongly stamped on the book nonetheless, in his thoughtfulness and refusal to put up with cant or accept what he is told rather than thinking things through for himself."

The result of this seriousness of Trollope's -- which can be seen in his novels despite their adhering to the courtship- marriage plot upon which most of them are finally structured -- is a book in which he presents a view of the American character as independent in private, enterpreneurial in public and the society such a strongly-adhered pride and confidence in the self creates as more than simply egalitarian: it's a society which creates institutions which work at elevating the individual. One side result of this is the liberation of women as individuals which Trollope doesn't care for as it threatens the familial and patriarchal basis of conventional values and of course therefore these values themselves. As he writes in Chapter 17 (of the Knopf edition and entitled "The Rights of Women"), "It is the rights of man that we are in fact debating" (p. 261).

In the Chapters on the educational system as seen in Harvard, as Trollope was induced to idealize in a factory culture in Lowell, and as he saw in the public education system in the young and middle years of childhood in those states he visited (in the Knopf edition, Chapter 16, "Cambridge and Lowell", and Chapter 18, "Education and Religion"), Trollope discerns two important differences between the English and American systems of education which are still with us. At Harvard he sees that the student is perpetually supervised: they are not left to work by themselves over the year, and if they make it academically, fine, and if they don't they're out: "At Cambridge in Massachusetts the daily work of the men is made obligatory." This continual supervision made up of a series of repeated demands as the student moves along in his studies is accompanied by a system which mounts a less rigorous but very much there supervision of their social life. The result is

"the general level of the University education is higher there than with us"; Harvard "does really give to its pupils that education which it professes to give. Of our own Universities other good things may be said, but that one special good thing cannot always be said" (pp. 243, 246).

Today it may be that in the British system the serious student who wants to work is given much more time and a framework in which he (or nowadays she) can follow his bent, but equally he or she can do very little and just about pass, minimally pass, do what's necessary to get the good grade on that test, or he or she may drop out -- at least that is what I saw in Leeds and other British universities in the 1960s and early 1970s. In Trollope's day since the institution was made up of an elite whose children did not necessarily need to come out of college with a professional competence in something to make a living, that meant university life was making social connections for many, learning to live with adult mores and that's it. In the US system today the student takes 4 to 5 courses a term; each has continual tests and papers; at the end of each semester there are a load of small tests; at the end of the year this gradual system produces so many credits (often 32). The watchdog system serves the generality insofar as what is professed to be the purpose of such institutions is concerned: learning the subject matter or skills mean to be inculcated of the courses.

Trollope notes the same higher level of education throughout the population in the lower schools of the US compared with British children of the same age and class. Then and now education is a matter left to the individual state, and some set up institutions which are more successful than others, but Trollope says that in general there is a real not pretended set-up system (paid through general taxes) whereby the generality of the population really learns to read, write, think a bit, do arithmetic competently, and he notes that girls are included. One scene he describes is of girls having a serious discussion over Paradise Lost. The result says Trollope

"is to be seen daily in the whole intercourse of life. The coachman who drives you, the man who mends your window, the boy who brings home your purchases, the girl who stitches your wife's dress, -- they all carry with them sure signs of education and show it in every word they utter."

It's clear that British people have caught up with this in the sense that public education nowadays exists as firmly and throughout the population as it did in the states Trollope visited. I would say that the US schools have themselves lost out to values which are anti-progressive and intellectual so that schools are nowadays seen as places where social training and the problems of adult society (ethnic, racial, religious conflicts) are going to be solved. But there is a value in the US placed simply on an academic degree and a way of getting it that makes that academic degree when earned mean something I didn't see when I was in England. I would also say that it used to be that the more popular newspaper in the US shows a higher tone of mind and lexical capacity than the popular newspaper in the UK. This too is changing as US public schools drop their standards in the older subjects (English or reading and writing, history, foreign languages). It's interesting that Trollope suggests (and he's right) that the states with slavery probably did not have this sort of system -- and until recently the educational level of the south lagged behind, and on the grade level is still strongly influenced by local religions; the kind of egalitarian and secular set-up which began in the mid-19th century in the west and north of the US is newer in the south and because of the loss in progressive values in the last part of our century much less strong.)

Judy's posting informed us that indeed Trollope was more than a little fooled by what he saw in the Lowell factories. There are hints that he wonders if even the original "Utopian" scheme was quite what it was presented to be: he cannot figure out how large profits can be made in such a pro-individual working girl system, and he refers several times through these chapters how the visitor is shown a rosy view of what's happening. The reality for factory girls was low pay, long hours, and thus gruelling supervision -- probably done through implicit caste intimidation which is the way such things work (the basis of the much heralded "success" of the changeover in welfare which demands the young woman with children and no husband go out to work all day and leave her children in day care, somehow paying for all this and caring for them and herself at the same time). Yet they are being treated as people, not just so many hands to run machines and get out if they can't manage that. Their human needs and potentials for social and educational improvement got a version of the supervised attention of colleges for boys at the same age. Trollope notes that factory work in the US is regarded with a respect equal to that of working as a servant in a great house. We might say that statement ought to have been voiced ironically by Trollope, but he speaks unironically because he accepts this system and thinks it a good thing that respect is paid to work which is independent, not a version of personal servitude ("in service" was the phrase British people used at the time). As I have written on this list and others, my mother-in-law's life and response to being "in service" in a great house exemplifies the much greater freedom and personal self-respect gained from a real salary from a company and a real space of your own to live in freely for the hours you need not work when you go out to factory or office work. It is no wonder as soon as these kinds of jobs became available, people fled "service" in great houses. John Crumb is indeed better to live with than the woman Mrs Pickens finds for Ruby to "work for" (drudge is the word) and we see what a continual bully she would have been.

To my mind Trollope's evident delight and respect for these systems and the result for the average person speaks so well of him. It shows why he keeps saying he is a liberal. In his own campaign at Beverley he was for public education. He repeatedly points out that underlying all this is the value for the individual, the lack of servility, the absence of a continual caste system in daily life. He is capable of seeing that his sufferings in such a system -- such as when his desk is not carried but thrown, and no one automatically defers to him as a gentleman -- are nothing when it comes to the numbers of people better off because they are happier in such a system: "I was badly off on that railway platform, -- worse off than I should have been in England, -- and all that crowd of porters were better off than our English porters" (Ch 18, p. 267). Earlier in the book he said that American workers were more driven than British ones (we can now see an analogy between the workplace in the US and its schools), but at the same time _more was expected from the individual_ and the individual came up to this expectation. He repeatedly suggests that US cities are prospering more in general than those in Canada (and produces numbers to back this), that the lifestyle of the US citizen is in general higher (e.g, a hot meal is expected each day; they dress better) than what is seen in the UK (let alone of course the European continent which is another basis of his comparisons).

I did not finish the section on religion in the US so leave that for next week, but as far as I got it is evident that Trollope continuals to follow this thread of strong individuality combined with a social structuring of implicit continual coercion that makes for a minimal level of respect for the chosen institutution and tone there, even when religious worship is not so "quiet" (it's "rowdy" says he -- having seen some of the results of baptist culture intermingling with immigrant cultures of various sorts and African-American ways).

In such a society how could half the population who are being educated similarly sit down to defer and lean on the other half, allow it to take the high prestige positions, control the income and so on. Trollope deals with what he sees happening to women in the US in an interleaved chapter in this week's three (in Knopf, Chapter 17, "The Rights of Women"). I'll write about that separately. Here I want to place a personal demur or a critique of my own as someone who recognizes the truth of what Trollope is saying and grew up in this society.

It is this: he too much discounts the tyranny of the social coercion which pushes the average level of the individual up to a minimal level of educational competence, social sophistication and economic know-how. He doesn't look to see how that affects personalities and what it means in the quality and feel of daily life, especially when, as he admits, the average person's understanding of how to measure his or her standing is through how much money he or she makes. Who could endure the lifestyle of that female factory worker presuming she was being educated on her off-hours. What is demanded of her is an appearance of respectability which most people would only be able to keep up where they genuinely to believe in its surface manifestations as a register of their self-worth. We can see the results of this in popular culture which is bourgeois and which is "low" today: a kind of hollowness.

There is also in the US educational system today and elsewhere a steadfast refusal to admit publicly that improving genuine education will increase not decrease inequalities that are intrinsic to individuals, by genuine education I mean not just getting a high grade on a test that had been manufactured to allow the generality to do well. The dumbing down in our schools, the disinterest in gifted individuals and in culture which appeals to a limited portion fo the population is often discussed in terms of how few good scientists the US produces, and the debasement of culture in public discourse, a considerable proportion of a school population with degrees who still can't read or think and don't see the point of it anyway. But I would say that the loss is also in individual daily experience and that counts perhaps more.

I leave it at that as I really don't want to get into a quarrel and realise some of the values I would now have to argue on behalf are very different from and run strongly counter to those Trollope is celebrating, which are intrinsic and important in American culture still.

Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002

Hello all

I've been thinking over Trollope's chapter on the rights of women a bit more and it strikes me I was getting slightly confused in my previous comments - my only excuse is that I often write postings quite quickly due to the pressures of life, as many of us do!

Anyway, I said then that Trollope was trying not to be too patronising, really because I was relieved by the mellower tone compared with the anger against women which is only too evident in his passage about "dirty" crinolines. (Also I was writing in a fairly mellow mood myself after a pleasant and lazy Sunday.)

But, the more I look at the chapter in a more critical weekday frame of mind, the more I feel that it is indeed deeply patronising, above all in the very way in which it seems to be mainly aimed at men while arguing about whether women should go out to work.

In his political discussions, Trollope recognises that colonies are almost inevitably going to assert their independence eventually - but he does not see the equal inevitability of women wanting their independence. However, I do realise I am looking back from another age and it is dangerous to criticise Trollope for being in the mindset of the 19th century, and, as Ellen has said, I also like and respect his character as it comes across in his writings.

I forgot to mention his dismissal of women's right to a vote in my earlier posting, but this is a place where he is clearly on weak ground and knows it. Does anybody know whether Rose was keen on having the right to vote? I'll bet Kate Field was.

Does anybody know more about the printer Emily Faithfull, who I believe ran a printing firm entirely staffed by women? I have seen mentions of her in Dickens's letters (I think he was friendly with her), but don't know much about her.

Judy Geater

To Trollope-l

April 16, 2002

Re: Trollope's North America, Education and Women's Rights (2)

I just read Judy's second posting on these chapters just on the Trollope's discussion of women's rights. It is a curious chapter. The discussion of women's rights comes out of the discussion of how education is available to all in the US, how what is instilled in everyone (man and woman, upper and lower class) is a spirit of independence, egalitarian, and entrepreneurial. But note how the tone of this chapters is so different from the one before and the one afterwards. There is something coy about it. It's not direct in the same way at all. There's no sense of the revulsion Trollope displayed against women in crinolines and the Baroness Banmann in Is He Popenjoy? or the crude ridicule he subjected "Wally", the lecturing "old maid" of He Knew He Was Right to. While he produces an argument on behalf of men and the patriarchal order, one which demands that men go to work to support women and children, as their life's goal, Trollope maintains a tone of sweetness and light.

Throughout he takes the stance of someone who is speaking for women, not against them. And it's not just a rhetorical ploy for his strongest argument is one that is still brought forth today when people want to dismiss the women's desires to have a career as equal to or stronger than their desire to marry and have children. He argues that remunerative work is hard, often requires long hours, and is not at all necessarily fulfilling. Alas, for most or many jobs this is simply true. The word "career" is in fact something reserved for a middle class or professional occupation. It is also simply true that many women work because they feel they must; the family cannot live on one income.

He is also the realist. Women he says want to get married. Give them a chance and they will prefer this to long hard years of apprenticeship in a job. Before we dismiss this one as showing a man who couldn't foresee what women would do if really given a chance at education, we should concede that indeed today this argument that women really want to marry and have children above all (as the raison d'etre of their existence) is not gone from those who dismisss the feminist movement. But realism is also the downfall of the chapter. Trollope dismisses the equal reality today -- and not so uncommon in Victorian times -- that in fact women have to work because they have no one to support them or their family. Either the man makes very little or he has left them or died. His argument that this is a necessity which we should not make a principle won't wash since what is necessary becomes the basis of principles.

Why does he assume the man will be good and faithful to the woman? The world is filled with men who don't share their paypackets? Who spend it elsewhere? Who tyrannize and bully? Has anyone read Eleanor Rathbone's The Disinherited Family?

Trollope's curious tone also comes from the bland or neutered and almost child-like and de-sexed language he uses which de-fangs some of the rawer insights of his discussion. For example, he sees very clearly that a central aspect of what will free women from domination is sexual freedom. He opens the chapter with references to Caesar's wife who had to be above suspicion and Messalina. He talks of how women have made gains since the advent of "chivalry" by which he refers to a male's willingness to respect a woman and which he connects to women no longer behaving like the ladies of Rome. He closes the chapter with the assertion that whatever people may say about women's rights, in fact they are limited by the reality they are "the nursing mothers of mankind." They exist to make and feed and bring up babies and this writes their fate. The "best right a woman has is the right to a husband" says Mr Trollope and that's what he recommends to all women. No where is the word sex used in the rest of the chapter but it is implicitly what's referred to when Trollope objects to women doing work that "degrades" and "debases" them, when they are made hard instead of "soft, tender and virtuous". Such jobs are "undoing what chivalry has done."

I see in his idea that this chivalry may go a threat. Men will again become violent. Have they stopped being violent as a group to women? The statistics tell us very often they are violent.

An indirection and appearance of arguing for women slithers through an argument whose explicit words show Trollope understands he is arguing for keeping the power and control of the world's money and power in male hands. In my earlier post I quoted his line: "It is the rights of men that we are in fact debating." Trollope explicitly argues for the rights of of men to hold jobs without any competition from women. He says, "After all it is a question of money and a contest for that power and influence which money gives." In his novels time and again his heroes are glad when their wives bring no money to the marriage; the narrator more than once satirizes a male who cannot control his wife even though he has the power of the purse. What would he do had he not that power? asks the narrator.

Trollope also assumes that "young women do marry, and the men pour their earnings into their wives' lap." He is forgetting all the many gentlemen in his novels who don't earn a dime but spend enormously. He seems to think that if the ideal remains a dependent women, men will be forced into supporting them. Women says Trollope should be left to be dependent on men; if they become independent, they will have to care for themselves. "Men, I fear, will be too willing to relieve themselves of some portion of their present burden, should the world's altered ways enable them to do so." In fact that's what is happening today. I wonder what Trollope would think of a man who divorces his wife after 30 years of marriage to marry a younger woman? I doubt he'd allow men to collect welfare.

The language is once again not politicized or hard: it is the language of domesticity and the people envisaged are the bourgeois not the working class nor agricultural or shop workers, not servants. His notion that switching the argument from some pre-feminist era where all that was discussed was what to do for distressed women to a desire that women should work for themselves comes out of a bourgeois ideal. He will only hear of work as what is necesary for women in want, not as "the idea that women will ennoble themselves by making themselves indpendent, by working fo rtheir own bread instead of eating the bread earned by men."

All the above is about a woman's right to hold a job which Trollope says is one half of the question and agrees is an important,wrothy, and grave subject. The other half is their right to participate in politics and to have political rights. This right he dismisses out of hand as not worthy consideration. The one place he returns to this demand of women -- to vote, to hold public office, to have a say in how the state will be run and fill out the professions -- is when he talks of how bad it is for a marriage if there is dissension in the house over politics. There must be one voice and Trollope clearly thinks (as a man) it should be the man's.

There is one insight hovering over the chapter, not made explicit, but there in all the discussions of how women want to marry and how it's necessary to set up a society where men will be forced to support them and they be deprived of the power to struggle against the male's control and dependence on him. It's that if the female and male are freed from economic interdependence, marriage will decline. Or at least the strength of the marriage bonds because they will no longer be necessary. Well that is true; this is happening. I suppose Trollope might be surprized at anyone questioning him why he supposes societies should be organized to force people into permanent marriage. He would not say the way people who defend marriage today (and decry divorce and non-marital children) that marriage is necessary to bring happy stable secure confident children up. To Trollope marriage and sexual abstinence outside marriage is at the center of the social order. The interest of his chapter is then to wonder or think about what has replaced marriage in our times as the center of society -- the cash nexus?

I think one reason for the coy tone, the sweetness and light, the indirection and domesticity of the imagery is instinctively Trollope knows he is saying things and demanding things of people they would rather not remember, ideals which are not followed. Johnson says somewhere that marriage is so unnatural that society has to build up endless constraints to force people to stay together. But then he's nowhere so coy, so bland, so apparently reasonable.

Ellen Moody

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 07:43:20 EDT From Teresa Ransom:

Judy wrote:

But, the more I look at the chapter in a more critical weekday frame of mind, the more I feel that it is indeed deeply patronising, above all in the very way in which it seems to be mainly aimed at men while arguing about whether women should go out to work.

In his political discussions, Trollope recognises that colonies are almost inevitably going to assert their independence eventually - but he does not see the equal inevitability of women wanting their independence. However, I do realise I am looking back from another age and it is dangerous to criticise Trollope for being in the mindset of the 19th century, and, as Ellen has said, I also like and respect his character as it comes across in his writings.

I forgot to mention his dismissal of women's right to a vote in my earlier posting, but this is a place where he is clearly on weak ground and knows it. Does anybody know whether Rose was keen on having the right to vote? I'll bet Kate Field was.

I'm not sure about Rose but Anthony's mother was.

In 'One Fault' written in 1840, Fanny introduces a character, Miss Christina Clark, a bluestocking with very strong views on the position of women.

'May we not hope to see the time when the equality which nature has established between the male and female intellect shall have fair play permitted to its exhibition; and that the senate, the pulpit, and the bar may all profit by the acknowledged brilliance of female eloquence?'

She also talks of women's lack of franchise and, 'the flagrant injustice of suffering millions of enlightened beings, who live and die as much devoid of all political rights as the beasts which perish.'


'There is a stirring spirit within us that leads us, as by inspiration, to the task, and were we listened to as we ought to be, many of the worst political blunders that still continue to exist would be speedily removed. . . My purpose is to show, that neither by her formation, nor her capacities, is she unequal to the duties of a Member of Parliament - I shall have previously proved her rights as a citizen.'

Strong words indeed.


Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002
Re: Emily Faithful

There is small paragraph on Emily Faithful in the Oxford Companion to Trollope, edited by R. C. Terry. Like the individual whose work Kristi found on the Net, this short piece tells us Faithfull was careful to limit her goals to finding work for gentlewomen in distress and did not branch out to support a principle of work for women as a right. Terry (who wrote this article) says "Trollope associated with them sympathetically, but never budged from his stand on the best woman's right being a husband."

The answer to Trollope's chapter may be found in the mildest of women's histories today. I was reading a brief history of "Women and the Family" from the 16th through early 20th centuries and came across a demonstration of the truth that the "history of women in general" is a "history of poverty" which "reflects their inferior status and the ultimate failure of the law to protect their interests." Strip Moll Flanders' life of the lurid sex and you have a typical woman's life at the subsidence and desperate level. The way to get law to protect the woman's interests is to get political power. And it's not really men's rights Trollope is debating since he is determined to support a system which he sees as forcing men to support and to be complicit in a system which controls, women.


To Trollope-l

Re: Trollope and the Superego/Crinolines

April 20, 2002

I just read Judy's posting on the sudden decline in the birthrate of bourgeois couples around the middle of the 19th century, how this freed women considerably, and how the occupational and remunerative niches they began to find outside the home were all related to the home and the gender roles of women there. The latter is still true in a number of professions; that is, within a profession, you will find the women appear to gravitate to -- or are over a number of years through subtle and not- so-subtle pressures pushed -- roles that are analogous to their imagined roles in the home as mother. Among physicians, women are nowadays obstetricians and gyneacologists (spelling?); they are still nurses in overwhelming numbers; they fill the grade schools. Another aspect of this is how women are understood to behave generally (whether this is cultural or instinctive/biological is hard to say -- probably it's both): so in factories they will be given piece-meal smaller jobs which take more patience. In the US there is said to be (and statistics back this up) a glass ceiling keeping the CEOs and other high pay high prestige also aggressive jobs to men. Some of this is changing -- as in law where women are now achieving equally to men in many areas -- but only very slowly. An interesting article by Andrew Hacker in the New York Review of Book showed how in schools -- that is where pay is not the reward and the organization creates hierarchies among children which reflect the status of their parents -- girls often do as well and much better than boys in all scholarly areas, but that when they go out into the "world outside" this does not translate into equal jobs for equal pay at all.

I didn't know that crinolines were associated with because generally worn by upper class women. That does shed another light on Trollope's indignation. Earlier in North America when he talks about laws which attempt to control the drinking of alcohol, he mentions that sumptuary laws are as difficult to enforce. In Venice most of those who brought action or tried to litigate were middling people who resented lower class people dressing very expensively when they went to church. Church was one place where all the classes (or orders) came together regularly. So too I suppose in nineteenth century New York omnibuses.

Throughout Trollope's discussion of women's desire and need to get remunerative employment he never once brings up the idea that they are looking for personal fulfillment this way, that they could get some personal satisfaction out of doing something beyond being a wife, mother, sister, daughter and the tasks such occupations offer in the home. In the case of employment outside the home he does not distinguish between upper, middle and working class women: none of them are talked about in a way which allows for their wanting intellectual and emotional satisfactions outside their gender occupations. That he understood women did want such things, had other capacities can be seen in his novels, but it does not translated into conscious thought when it come to writing non-fiction which is intended to have serious political or social content (no matter how namby-pamby is the language he uses in the chapter he is pretty serious about what he's saying). Crinolines are the equivalent of the ribbon the silly female horse who pulls a carriage wants to wear so longingly in Orwell's _Animal Farm_. The pigs (=communists and socialists) won't let her wear it because it's frivolous, useless and costs her and the community at large too much money (though not a hundred dollars or the worth of a farm). Such ribbons are also inconvenient say the pigs. The pony is therefore delighted when the pigs are overthrown and she can have her ribbon back. Orwell is very sardonic about this.

I bring this up because at the heart of Trollope's discussion is an attitude of mind which is not so different from that of social-planners (be they communists, socialists, fascists or people who seek to control social behavior from a religous standpoint and do things like outlaw abortion, certain forms of sex, like anal intercourse which because of a supreme court decision not so long ago remains illegal in the US for everyone until today -- another unenforceable law). What I was really struck by in his chapter on women's rights was Trollope's repeated comment that he was discussing the rights of men by discussing the rights of women. In a couple of paragraphs he discusses these opposed as in conflict: women will take jobs men would have; women will become emotionally and psychologically independent of men. But in several more he presents as the nub of his argument against women having the right to work outside the home and the world changing itself to offer such jobs to women the reality (as he sees it) that this will free men from having to support them. I will repost a central line from one of these pargraphs: "Men, I fear, will be too willing to relieve themselves of some portion of their present burden, should the world's altered ways enable them to do so."

Trollope seeks to control and limit the behavior of men as surely as he seeks to control and limit the behavior of women. He wants to see society to continue to be organized in ways that pressure men into supporting women and children and staying with them as fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. It is interesting that nowhere in all his books does he ever openly characterize as male as homosexual; those males who are his worst, the drone aristocrat who lives off his income and ruins the life of a son/ daughter that way receive his unmitigated scorn. They are not presented as weak, as not fitting in, as wanting to live some other way with a worthy goal, but simply as lazy, self-indulgent, useless. Trollope does not allow for men to have desires outside the family which trump the family: they can have them (as women cannot) but they must be reigned in. That a male might justifiably have a personality and desires that are not fulfilled which marital arrangements get in the way of is not a story Trollope ever tells.

Trollope speaks for what Freud called the superego in this chapter. This superego is a construction and in the year 2002 the kinds of mores which would not allow for personal fulfillment as a really felt goal for people who are of the working class (servants, agricultural and factory workers), for bourgeois and upper class women and men have been strongly questioned, indeed modified. But there are still intense struggles to break away from what is still stifling and unjust in both mores and laws (this occurs from within families to where the tide is felt in legislative assemblies).

It is, though, revealing that Trollope shows the roots of thinking lie in an adherence to the requirements of the superego, to those who repress in the name of the "group" social good, in the case of the crinolines. He himself was a man who could control himself, who was able to find a niche where he could fulfill his gifts and still support a wife and family; I take it from his short stories and the couple of hinting passages about this in _An Autobiography_ that he had his casual sexual encounters but did not let them go beyond the casual once he married. He's unlike Dickens in this way -- I bring Dickens up because he's known and Judy is so interested in him. Dickens may stand here for the man who cannot so control himself, who seeks something outside what the going superego of the moment allows.

Not that I'm on the side of the horse who was so happy when she could have a ribbon on her tail again; when it comes to spending huge amounts of money on showing the world that you have some meaning or place or prestige in the social order, I'm most unsympathetic, though not because it's socially useless. Looking at these things from the individual and social point of view, people gain social capital and individual satisfaction from ribbons, crinolines, and say fancy weddings no matter how inconvenient and expensive these things might be. There is some instinct in Trollope at work here which simply doesn't go for individual self-aggrandizement in this direction as silly. Like people playing dice, money-machines in great hotels, hunting in fancy dress, going to the race track all the livelong day, or having fancy parties & balls all night long. The mindlessness of the frivolity, the lack of seriousness is probably what gets him -- he really does not like the lies of ceremonies, the hollowness at the center of all these. He did, however, like to see those factory girls reading in their spare time, though not so it so infringe on the long hours of "work" for money for the boss -- and oh yes society. Mrs Thatcher's notorious remark that there is no such thing as society is what comes to mind to me here.

Cheers to all,

Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2002
Re: Trollope and Feminism

Hello all

I've enjoyed all the postings about Trollope and women. Many thanks to Rory, Kristi and Ellen for coming up with information about Emily Faithfull, who sounds like a very interesting person. After reading Rory's postings, I realised I was mistaken in thinking that she was a friend of Dickens - I was half-remembering references to her friendship with Trollope and getting mixed up. Sorry.

I liked the passage from Fanny which Teresa posted. I wonder if she and Anthony discussed the question of votes for women?

Harking back to the passage on crinolines, in my job as a journalist, the other day I interviewed a curator at a local museum about Victorian costumes, with reference to the new TV production of 'The Forsyte Saga'. The passage from 'North America' came up in conversation, and he told me that in England at this period it would not have been usual to see a woman walking any distance through the streets wearing a crinoline - he said that only upper-class and upper middle-class women wore this type of dress for everyday wear, and they would normally have been handed down from carriages, with the wheels covered over with wicker contraptions to stop dirt getting on to their skirts. So he thought Trollope was possibly surprised to see women walking out in this sort of dress in America, which would not have been the norm in England.

He pointed out that clothes were extremely expensive relative to income compared to nowadays - Trollope mentions a woman wearing "perhaps a hundred dollars on her back", which must have been a very large sum. In England apparently women were known to say "I'm wearing the price of a farm on my back." You wouldn't want to tread all this silk in the dirt if you could help it, but of course the dictates of fashion sometimes meant you had no choice.

There's an interesting passage on American middle-class women's education and employment in the period just before the US Civil War in 'Battle Cry of Freedom' by James McPherson. I thought I'd post part of this because it's so relevant to our discussion:

McPherson is writing about the simultaneous decline of the birth rate and rise of education in the 19th century:

"Fewer children meant that middle-class women in 1850 were less continuously burdened by pregnancy, childbirth and nursing than their mothers and grandmothers had been. This not only enabled them to give each child more affection; it also freed them for activities outside the home. For, in an apparent paradox, the concept of a woman's sphere *within* the family became a springboard for extension of that sphere beyond the hearth. If women were becoming the guardians of manners and morals, the custodians of piety and child-training, why should they not expand their demesne of religion and education outside the home? And so they did."

He goes on to discuss women's role in the church and in temperance and abolitionist movements, and then looks at the growth of women's colleges and the high number of women teachers.

"Another educating profession was opening to women during this era - writing for publication. The new emphasis on home and family created a huge audience for articles and books on homemaking, child-rearing, cooking and related subjects. Women's magazines proliferated to meet the need. A paying profession arose for female writers... Therefore while the notion of a domestic sphere closed the front door to women's exit from the home into the real world, it opened the back door to an expanding world of religion, reform, education, and writing. Inevitably, women who could write or speak or teach or edit magazines began to ask why they should not be paid as much as men for these services and why they could not also preach, practice law or medicine, hold property independently of their husbands - and vote."

There's a lot more on this - anyone who wants to know more can find the whole discussion of this question in Chapter 2 of McPherson's book. I'm finding 'Battle Cry of freedom' a slow read but useful to fill in some of the background to Trollope's book.

Bye for now
Judy Geater

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