Barchester Towers, Chapters 23 - 27
Mr. Arabin Reads Himself In At St. Ewold's; Mr. Slope Manages Very Cleverly at Puddingdale; The Basis of the Manipulation; Fourteen Arguments in favour of Mr. Quiverful; Curiously Touching Moments (Mrs Quiverful); Mrs. Proudie wrestles and gets a Fall; Madeline and Obadiah; Gentlemen Once Again; Bawdy Moments between La Signori Neroni and the Rev Mr Slope; Eleanor as Iphigenia (Once Again) and What Was Mrs Proudie's First Name?

Jill started us off again:

Subject: [trollope-l] BT Volume II, Chapter IV (XXIII) , Mr. Arabin Reads Himself In At St. Ewold's


Mr. Arabin was a bundle of nerves as he rode with Dr. and Mrs. Grantly to Ullathorne Court; strange situations precipitated attacks of shyness which were disconcerting to say the least. The Archdeacon was less than sympathetic.

"He could not conceive that Miss Thorne, surrounded by the peasants of Ullathorne and some of the poorer residents of the suburbs of Barchester, could in any way affect the composure of a man well accustomed to address the learned congregation of St. Mary's at Oxford, and he laughed accordingly at the idea of Mr. Arabin's modesty." (OUP Barchester Towers ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 225)

Mr. Arabin vainly tried to explain by an allusion that Dr. Grantly teasingly threatened to tell Miss Thorne. Eleanor tried to defend Mr. Arabin, who again tried to explain by offering as an example a self possessed girl, who had no trouble playing a difficult piece of music on the piano before a room full of strangers, would be struck speechless if put upon a box and told to expound upon any chosen subject, even if before a group of intimate friends. This Eleanor disputed, claiming to be able to hold forth upon a box without difficulty about "dresses, or babies, or legs of mutton". (p. 226) Interesting subjects!

Mr. Arabin promised to put Eleanor to the test. Dr. Grantly was sure she would be struck dumb. And Mr. Arabin was diverted from his discomfiture all the way to the home of the Thornes.

Dr. Grantly was a favorite of the Thornes, who welcomed him warmly, and all the visitors cordially. They all went to church together, the ladies going ahead into the church while Mr. Thorne introduced Mr. Arabin to some of his parishioners.

The critical eye which Mr. Arabin's new parishioners were too apparently casting upon him, was daunting, but he manfully got through the readings. When he came to his sermon, he warmed to his work, and spoke well, and only for twenty minutes.

Lunch at Ullathorne came next, and the happy Miss Thorne devoted herself to welcoming Mr. Arabin, and coddling the young widow, who was filled with chicken and port wine,

"to support yourself". AT in an aside commented how interesting it was that prosperous widows needed to be "coshered up" while "poor men's wives, who have no cold fowl and port wine on which to be coshered up, nurse their children without difficulty". (p. 230)

I would guess that an ill nourished poor man's wife would also have difficulties in nursing their children, in spite of what Anthony might say. Reminds me of the statement that since a peasant woman can squat and give birth in a ditch, sling the baby over her shoulder, and finish her day's work in the field, that we coddled westerners are just a bunch of whiners. My guess is that, as often as not, that peasant woman would topple over and die of hemorrhaging after that unattended birth.

Next the ladies discussed the interesting subject of teething, which little Johnny Bold was currently suffering through. Miss Thorne offered her favourite sovereign remedy, and offered her own, and her grandmother's, healthy teeth as testimony.

Poor Mr. Thorne tried to converse with his clerical guests about ecclesiastical subjects, but Dr. Arabin was determined to discuss "turnip-drillers and new machines for reaping" (p. 252) and sources for unadulterated manure.

After lunch, Miss Thorne pottered among her flowers, Mr. Thorne "had it out with the archdeacon about the Bristol guano" (p. 233), and Mrs. Bold and Mr. Arabin happily discussed the differences between dryads and naiads.

For the afternoon service, Dr. Grantly preached while Mr. Arabin only had to read the lessons, "and on the whole it was neither dull, nor bad, nor out of place." (p. 233) It was a service that lasted only half an hour, and soon the quartet found themselves on their way back to Plumstead.

Jill Spriggs

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume II, Chapter V (XXIV) Mr. Slope Manages Very Cleverly at Puddingdale

August 14, 1999


It was a congenial group that gathered at Plumstead. Mr. Harding played his cello, his daughters accompanying him. Little Johnny successfully cut his first tooth. Dr. and Susan Grantly seemed to loosen up enough to not damp everyone else's fun. Eleanor had been put upon her box, and found herself mute. The Thornes came for dinner, and in turn invited the group to their home. Mr. Arabin, while he did spend much of his time acquainting himself with his new parishioners, rejoined them each evening. Even Susan Grantly began to warm to him.

They had gone to a dinner party at the home of the Stanhopes, and Mr. Arabin "moth-like, burnt his wings in the flames of the signora's candle". (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 235) Interesting that, while she had regarded Mr. Slope's flirtation with the Signora Neroni with mild amusement, Eleanor "felt somewhat displeased with the taste, the want of taste she called it, shown by Mr. Arabin in paying so much attention to Madame Neroni." When Mr. Arabin showed the ill judgment to praise the lame lady on their way home, "Eleanor by no means liked to hear the praise." (p. 235) That was scarcely fair, because she had spent an enjoyable evening being entertained by the charming Bertie Stanhope. But all the same, Eleanor was rather snappish with the priest on their return trip.

Did Eleanor remember how, in the days after her husband died, she was sure she would grieve inconsolably the rest of her life? And yet, less than two years later, she was mentally contrasting the manners of her lovers.

Things ran on smoothly at the Plumstead home until the fateful letter arrived.

Remember back in Chapter XVIII when the bishop, after his momentary foray into assertiveness, decided that, after all, Rev. Quiverful was to succeed to the wardenship of Hiram's Hospital? Dr. Proudie had agreed to see Archdeacon Grantly, intending to offer the wardenship to Mr. Harding, but did not feel up to seeing him and telling him the contrary, so he requested Mr. Slope to see him and communicate the unpleasant news. Dr. Grantly predictably had refused to see Mr. Slope, but had no intention of giving up so easily. When he discussed the matter with Mr. Arabin, he suggested that they go to Dr. Gwynne, the Oxford potentate, for his assistance. Dr. Proudie could not well refuse to see Archdeacon Grantly when he was accompanied by the master of Lazarus. Reluctant to admit that he could not fight this battle unaided, Dr. Grantly all the same did write to both Dr. Gwynne and Dr. Proudie, the latter to ask that he postpone the final appointment of a warden until he had thought it over. Unfortunately, Dr. Gwynne was ill with the gout, and could not travel, but he promised to come lend his presence as soon as he improved.

In spite of appearances, Mr. Slope had not given up his endeavor to place Mr. Harding back at the hospital, and with the good will this engendered, to win the widow. The chaplain did not view Mrs. Proudie's having promised the appointment, as an insurmountable obstacle, and he realized it was only a matter of time before they must duke it out. The present was as good a time as any, and Mr. Slope had had enough of being under the lady's thumb.

After Dr. Grantly had left the palace in high dudgeon, Mr. Slope rode over to Puddingdale to have a conference with Mr. Quiverful. It had not been easy for him since word got out about the imminent appointment. Partisans of Mr. Harding had cast upon him the icy eye and the cold shoulder. He consoled himself with thoughts of " ... the comfortable house in Barchester, of the comfortable income, of his boys sent to school, of his girls with books in their hands instead of darning needles, of his wife's face again covered with smiles, and his board again covered with plenty." (p. 240) Let those in more comfortable circumstances eye him askance. They had not fourteen children to feed and launch.

Word has about the prospective had also gotten out to the neighborhood merchants, who once again smiled upon him and his. Mrs. Quiverful and her three eldest daughters found themselves the owners of spanking new clothes. The long suffering woman shuddered when she thought of how close her husband had come to squandering the only chance they had for comfort for their tribe.

Poor Mr. Quiverful was caught between a rock and a hard place. The frowning faces of his fellow clerics, versus the raggedy persons of his numerous offspring. When the horse of Mr. Slope was seen coming up their lane, Mrs. Quiverful, sure the chaplain was about to formally offer her husband the wardenship, hastily gathered up her mending, the better to leave the two men alone.

Mr. Slope must have had a heart of stone to approach the Quiverful home, not shamefaced as the SOB should have been, but with face wreathed with smiles. Mr. Quiverful was quick enough to realize what was coming when Slope began, " that he had ridden over because he thought it right at once to put Mr. Quiverful in possession of the facts of the matter regarding the wardenship of the hospital." (p. 242) His worst fears were confirmed:

" ' I am sure you will do me the justice to remember that you yourself declared that you could accept the appointment on no other condition than the knowledge that Mr. Harding had declined it.'

' Yes,' said Mr. Quiverful; ' I did say that, certainly.'

' Well; it now appears that he did not refuse it.'

' But surely you told me, and repeated it more than once, that he had done so in your own hearing.'

' So I understood him. But it seems I was in error. But don't for a moment, Mr. Quiverful, suppose that I mean to throw you over. No. Having held out my hand to a man in your position, with your large family and pressing claims, I am not now going to draw it back again. I only want you to act fairly and honestly.' " (p. 245)

Mr. Slope would not know fairness and honesty if it bit him in the ass.

Mr. Slope did hold out the carrot of possible future preferment, but poor Mr. Quiverful could only think of his wife's reaction to the news. He did recognize the fact that no amount of protest on his part could help his cause. His position was even more awkward than the one that made him suffer before.

And the letter?

Jill Spriggs

Re: Barchester Towers, Ch 24 (2:5): The Basis of the Manipulation

In response to Jill's post on this chapter, I'd like to say how strikingly it is brought home to us by Trollope that the basis of Slope's manipulation of Quiverful is Quiverful's reluctance to say in words how he did indeed believe he had the position as a result of Slope's words. Why? Why not buck the man? Well, Quiverful would be in a you said-I said argument. Slope would say he, Quiverful, had misunderstood, and would probably to intimidate him to stop further argument manage to imply that Quiverful misunderstood because Quiverful so badly wants the position. Now Quiverful is even more reluctant to put this in words. Slope depends on Quiverful's unwillingness to admit his need openly, given our society's unshamedly hard values, to say his need is strong and counts. Mrs Quiverful is not so ashamed in front of Mrs Proudie because Mrs Proudie gives off nuances which show she will not imply any contempt for Mrs Quiverful's poverty -- and thus lack of status. This lack of status is what Slope plays upon too. Paradoxically, while depending on Quiverful not to admit it, he depends on Quiverful not to come on aggressively because Quiverful lacks status in comparison with Slope as the Bishop's Chaplain and (presumably, possibly) a favorite of the Bishop's wife.

How much in life works like this. How many situations there are where more ruthless people are able to control and manipulate others based on their reluctance to talk truth. There's a book by Sisela Bok in which she says lying is central to society -- lying being deviations from an objective truth all recognize. All recognise the Quiverful's fourteen arguments. It is not to our advantage to tell all kinds of truths, only those which appear to put us in an invulnerable position or present us as strong in some way. Domestic life is even a stage performance.

One of the reasons I like Thackeray's Becky Sharp is she is willing to break the taboos. There's a scene between herself and George Osborne where she practically floors him by the simple expedient of saying the flat truth he dislikes her because she's beneath him, and is treating her the way he does because she has no money. There is a danger in this procedure: the other side may be willing to take this truth-telling farther than you expect. That happens in Trollope's The Claverings in a scene between Sir Hugh Clavering and Julia Lady Ongar. She had not counted on quite how brutal the man's tongue could be and is herself unable to respond as strongly in kind . In comparison with Becky, George Osborne is a weakling: because he's conventional and himself relies on conventions to get through life.

I agree with others that our period has strong links with the Victorian. To my mind, there is a clear change between the era before WWI and the era afterwards: the catastrophic nature of the war, the destruction of many private fortunes in Europe, the new technologies with took off -- including the car which I see as infinitely multiplying for the average young couple places to have sex comfortably for the first time before marriage, and without a chaperone. There is also a slight change from Victorian to Edwardian in the sense that the Labour Party made itself felt in the years coming up to the War, and important social laws were put into place which led to fundamental changes in some important expectations (like a state pension when you hit your sixties) and daily ways. Nonetheless, we have not changed altogether -- that's why Victorian literature and art remain so popular.

And yet the scene quoted by Jill between Mr Slope and Mr Quiverful is, I would think, a universal experience once people live in a subtly hierarchical society, and that has been going on for centuries, probably before history was written down.

Cheers to all,

PS: If anyone should write me off-list in the next couple of days, and wonder why I don't answer, it's because I will be away from shortly after I finish this e-mail until late Sunday afternoon.

Subject: [trollope-l] BT_ Volume II, Chapter VI (XXV) Fourteen Arguments in favour of Mr. Quiverful

August 15, 1999


This is the last post for this week.

One could have predicted that Mrs. Quiverful would not take the news well.

"There was nothing poetic in the nature of Mrs. Quiverful. She was neither a Medea nor a Constance. When angry, she spoke out her anger in plain words, and in a tone which might have been modulated with advantage; but she did so, at any rate, without affectation." (OUP Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 247)

When her husband urged the wisdom of waiting to see what other good thing the bishop might have in store, Mrs. Quiverful scorned this tack; " ' Wait! Shall we feed the children by waiting? Will waiting put George, and Tom, and Sam, out into the world? Will it enable my poor girls to give up some of their drudgery? Will waiting make Bessy and Jane fit even to be governesses? Will waiting pay for the things we got in Barchester last week?' " (p. 248)

Mr. Quiverful had been thoroughly beaten down by all his troubles. He quietly responded,

" ' It is all we can do, my dear. The disappointment is as much to me as to you; and yet, God knows, I feel it more for your sake than my own.' " (p. 248)

When Mrs. Quiverful more closely looked at her husband, she saw two tears trickle down his worn cheeks. She realized he was not the proper target for her wrath, and repentantly "seizing him in her arms, sobbed aloud upon his bosom." (p. 249)

The anger soon returned. Since Mrs. Proudie had been the one to tell her of her family's prospects, Mrs. Quiverful assumed that she had sent the chaplain to give the bad news, lacking the courage to do it herself. Did not everyone know that Mrs. Proudie was the real bishop of Barchester, and Slope merely her tool? Mr. Quiverful tried to explain that the bishop's wife, and his chaplain, were not allies, but opponents. This gave rise to a new possibility for justice in Mrs. Quiverful's mind. Perhaps Mrs. Proudie knew nothing of Mr. Slope's visit. In that case, would it not be prudent to let her know?

With the assistance of a helpful neighbor, Mrs. Quiverful lost no time in making her way to the palace. Predictably, the servant answering the door regarded the rather ragged woman's story as being questionable. Desperate situations call for desperate measures, and Mrs. Quiverful bravely offered her last half-crown as a bribe. She did gain access to the lady bishop.

Mrs. Proudie was in a triumphant mood. Earlier that day, she had firmly put down an idea her husband had ventured. Dr. Proudie had received an invitation from the archbishop, for a visit of a few days. This invitation did not include his wife.

"The bishop, with some beating about the bush, made the lady understand that he very much wanted to go. The lady, without any beating about the bush, made the bishop understand that she wouldn't hear of it." After a pitched battle, the happy lady saw her husband write a note declining the honor of the visit. In a complacent mood, the bishopess asked Mrs. Quiverful, " '... is it yet decided when you are to move into Barchester?' " (p. 254)

Recognizing that this was no enemy, Mrs. Quiverful's demeanor became filled with pathos. She told her story well, recognizing that emphasizing the name of Mr. Slope produced ever blacker brows on the angered lady. Mrs. Proudie would again have to enter into battle. And to remind her, Mrs. Quiverful's words followed her out the door as she left,

" ' Oh, Mrs. Proudie, it's for fourteen children -- for fourteen children.' " (p. 255)

And still nothing about that letter! Guess it must come up next week.

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l August 15, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, Ch 25 (II:6); Curiously Touching Moments

I'll add to Jill's commentary by picking up on an undercurrent in the chapter: there are a number of curiously touching moments. Jill quoted the sentence which tells us that when Mrs Quiverful saw tears on her husband's furrowed cheeks, it was 'too much for her woman's heart' (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p. 223). She loves the man -- an emotion we have not seen anyone demonstrate in the marital vein in this book as yet. Mrs Quiverful looks at her husband and says

"'You are too good, too soft, too yielding ... There men, when they want you, they use you like a cat's-paw; and, when they want you no longer, they throw you aside like an old show. This is twice they have treated you so'" (p. 223).

Even if she is biased, which of us cannot think of an instance we know of from life which is not in this pattern.

I don't like to disagree with Trollope but I find Mrs Quiverful poetic. Niobe. He himself admits she plays a part fit for Mrs Siddons. Scott's Jeannie Deans may have walked farther, but she was in better condition. And did she set forth in a shabby shawl to tell a Bishopess off. How about Trollope's aside to us: 'Think of it, my reader, think of it, her last half-crown [went] into the man's hand (p. 227). In the next chapter Mrs Proudie herself actually ends up sitting down confidentially to Mrs Quiverful, and asking sympathetically to know how her husband had been such a fool 'as to take the bait which that man threw to him' (p. 238).

If we keep in mind the idea that this book is partly an examination of the church as an institution, surely it is right to devote at least one chapter to The Wife of Vicar with Not Enough Income.

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume II, Chapter V (XXVI) Mrs. Proudie wrestles and gets a Fall


Now, this was really a bit much. "Mrs. Proudie began to feel that if every affair was to be thus discussed and battled about twice and even thrice, the work of the diocese would be too much even for her." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 255) That snake Slope was inciting rebellion among the peasants, er ..., in her husband. As if it weren't enough work running the diocese, without her husband's chaplain undoing her work every time she turned around! Filled with righteous indignation after her conference with Mrs. Quiverful, Mrs. Proudie's wrath only increased when she invaded her husband's sanctum unannounced, to see the two traitors start guiltily back, revealing the very letter her husband had just written to the archbishop, saying that he would be unable to come for a visit, as requested. "Yes, [Mr. Slope] had actually violated the seal which had been made sacred by her approval." (p. 255)

Mrs. Proudie unfortunately allowed her fury to cloud her judgment. She faced her husband, and demanded to know " ' What is this, bishop, about Mr. Quiverful?' " Mr. Slope answered for him, and smoothly told her that he had seen Mr. Quiverful that morning, who had resigned the wardenship when he became aware that Mr. Harding wanted it. The angry woman denied that Mr. Quiverful had done any such thing, and turning to the bishop, told him his word had been pledged " ' ... and it must be respected.' " (p. 256) The Pillar of Strength, er ... the bishop, was silent.

Mr. Slope expressed his hesitance to interfere (Mrs. Proudie snappily responding essentially,

"Then don't!"), but he felt he must tell his patron what he must do, or risk encountering " ' ... much ill will, not only in the diocese, but in the world at large.' " (p. 257)

He told Mrs. Proudie that Mr. Harding had dropped his objections to the Sabbath-day School, and that negotiations regarding services to be held at the hospital could wait until after the appointment had been made. Slope also told her that he had misunderstood Mr. Harding when he thought the precentor had said he did not want the wardenship. Mrs. Proudie's comeback:

" ' And it is equally clear that you have misunderstood Mr. Quiverful. ... What business have you at all with these interviews? Who desired you to go to Mr. Quiverful this morning? Who commissioned you to manage this affair? Will you answer me, sir? -- who sent you to Mr. Quiverful this morning? ' " (p. 257)

When Mrs. Proudie lost her temper, she lost the battle. While Mr. Slope became angry, he never lost control. And the bishop hoped that the skirmish could be conducted without his having to intervene, so he could know, once and for all, "by whom it behoved him to be led." (p. 258) Wasn't this man's passivity amazing?

When the irate lady continued to demand who had told Mr. Slope to act as he did, he assumed a mantle of injured dignity, and declined to answer, saying that he did not recognize her authority over him. His only master was the bishop. Mrs. Proudie then demanded that he leave the room. Mr. Slope refused, saying that only his superior, the Dr. Proudie, could tell him to leave the room and expect to be obeyed. The gauntlet had been thrown. Mrs. Proudie then fixed her husband with her gimlet eye, and demanded that he order Mr. Slope to leave the room. When he did not respond, she once again erred.

" ' ... is Mr. Slope to leave the room, or is I? ' " Dr. Proudie had his opportunity. " ' Why, my dear, ... Mr. Slope and I are very busy.' " (p. 260)

The termagant had been vanquished. Mr. Slope cast upon his foe an ill-judged look of triumph, which she would not forget or forgive. Mrs. Proudie without further comment left the room.

Mr. Slope then sought to put the finishing touches on his victory. He warned his patron that it was generally known that he was wife-dominated, and that caused him to have very little credibility in the diocese. If he wished to put the lie to this, he must immediately set about putting an end to Mrs. Proudie's interference in diocesan matters. He reiterated his regret that he was being driven to go against a lady who had been one of his earliest friends, who had indeed called him to the attention of the bishop in the first place, but he must make the interests of his primary patron paramount.

Dr. Proudie celebrated his new found autonomy by writing another letter to the archbishop accepting his invitation, but refused to immediately write to Mr. Harding ratifying his appointment. While the bishop felt he had been liberated from the tyranny of his wife, he was not yet ready to take Slope as his new master. Dr. Proudie told his chaplain to ask Mr. Harding to come see him. Knowing better than to push too hard too soon, Mr. Slope settled for carrying away Dr. Proudie's letter to the archbishop and posting it himself, something Mrs. Proudie should have thought of doing. Of course, she had no way of knowing a mutiny was in the works.

Mrs. Proudie still had a painful interview in front of her. Mrs. Quiverful was still waiting in her office. At first the bishopess, depressed by her defeat, considered not returning and sending a letter telling the result of her conference with the bishop. One shudders when thinking of the revenge Mrs. Proudie was meditating when "her eye fell on her husband's pillow." (p. 263) This woman was obviously dangerous when thwarted!

Her courage renewed, Mrs. Proudie faced Mrs. Quiverful and to deflect the expected attack, made one of her own.

" ' Mrs. Quiverful,' thus spoke the lady with considerable austerity, ... ' I find that your husband has behaved in a very weak and foolish manner.' " (p. 263)

Overcome with woe, Mrs. Quiverful, with streaming eyes, wailed,

" ' Fourteen children, Mrs. Proudie, fourteen of them! and barely bread, -- barely bread! It's hard for the children of a clergyman, it's hard for one who has always done his duty respectably!' " (p. 264)

Even the stony hearted Mrs. Proudie was moved. She did not comfort her with conventional feminine remedies, but by simply stating, " ' she wouldn't have it done.' " (p. 266)

Mrs. Quiverful soon realized that her patroness intended to again take up the cudgel on the Quiverfuls' behalf. When asked by the great lady why her husband had been so weak as to do as Mr. Slope asked, Mrs. Quiverful came to his defense by saying that " ... of course he had taken Mr. Slope to be an emissary from Mrs. Proudie herself; and that Mr. Slope was thought to be peculiarly her friend; and that, therefore, Mr. Quiverful would have been failing in respect to her had he assumed to doubt what Mr. Slope had said." (p. 266)

Mrs. Quiverful could not have hit upon a more effective way to mollify Mrs. Proudie. Her sore heart warmed to hear of the respect the cleric and his wife, had for her. She would not give up the battle until her foe was defeated, and driven from the field.

Jill Spriggs

August 17, 2001

Subject: [trollope-l] Barchester Towers: Madeline and Obadiah

From: Ellen Moody

This morning John Mize wrote the following acute commentary:

I read the second scene a little differently. Slope definitely doesn't enjoy the experience, because Madeline won't allow him to evade the fact that he isn't acting as a respectable clergyman should. I agree that she is tormented, but I also think she takes a bitter pleasure in tormenting Slope. At times she toys with Slope as a cat toys with a crippled mouse. She is miserable, because her life is so limited. She can't even run off somewhere with Slope or anyone else, and she seems to enjoy making Slope suffer to revenge herself for her own suffering. She also makes herself miserable in the process, but I don't think she has any pleasures which aren't tinged with anger, regret and bitterness.
John Mize

As I sat down to send off this week's calendars, I was thinking precisely about this scene, and was going to send off an addendum to my comment on it in the context of Arabin and Eleanor's love scene. What I thought to do was justify my shrinking away or sense of distaste as I read the first. All along in the book thus far I have only felt for Madeline partly because she is, as John says, miserable, living the life of someone badly physically crippled. I liked because she was also brave under her difficulties, could use her imagination to live energetically, was gallant, did not complain but attempted not to burden others with herself beyond what was absolutely necessary for her to remain sane, cheerful, with a modicum of self-respect and minimal fulfillment.

In the love scene with Slope I agree her desire to punish him comes out of an irritation at the falseness of what he professes. It is obvious to the most common understanding he would never marry her. Yet here he is pretending. What could be more galling than this sort of lie. That people go about to assert such sorts of lies all the time is nothing to the purpose, for in this case he flies in the face of her affliction, of what makes her live in the Stanhope household when she would rather be almost anywhere else -- Venice, Rome, the lakes. I am with her in her instinctive distaste for the Eleanor type, for the complacency of such upper class virginal or chaste types in Victorian and modern fiction, for their self-esteem (whose basis beyond love of self and pride in rank and money and the unearned respect of others I have yet to discern). I am with her when she comments on marriage that 'she is free as the wind'. Hopes for nothing, means to get nothing from a relationship with a man but the moments with him: 'Come; will you take me as I am? Have your wish; sacrifice the world, and prove yourself a true man' I very much like her refusal to agree that mystical rationals is what keeps clergymen liking their jobs and comfortable houses and meals and positions, as well as her scorn for those among them who for whatever reason talk about self-sacrifice (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, II:8, pp. 251-2).

Nonetheless, what she is doing throughout most of the scene is enjoying making him squirm. She makes him cringe. She makes him jump to it. We see him writhe in her toils. And not only does Trollope show Slope making a total jackass out of himself, Trollope enters sufficiently into Slope's mind to make us feel his mortification, his pain, his humiliation and sense of his own absurdity. Is there anyone among us who has not at some point in his or her life found him or herself so acting without being able to pull back? Say before the boss as he or she is about to fire you? Then you cringe and hate yourself afterwards. Instead of spitting in his face and speaking your mind, you have agreed with him, justified the firm? But the boss may have fired you swiftly and you were out of that office in 2 minutes flat. Maybe the situation occurred before a teacher, or higher officer in a service, or before a lover. Madeline is not so kind; she is not the person who does not enjoy the experience (and some people are driven to behave this way by fear of others). Madeline enjoys skewering a victim. (It makes one wonder what her behavior to her husband was, and suspect maybe when he crippled her, there had at least been some provocation.) When she first brings out the hypocrisy of his proposals, one grimaces with pleasure; but when she goes on to turn the screw tighter and tighter, to make the puppet dance on the string, to mock, jeer, and needle, I part company with her. She is enjoying punishing him because she also simply enjoys punishing people.

In many scenes in his novels Trollope suggests that the basis of love is triumph, conquest, and I suppose ultimately knowing your power to pain someone else. He tells the male reader to insult women because women love to be forgiven; he shows men who jump to the whip, are excited by it (as in this scene). Trollope goes farther: he thinks dominance-submission is a key pattern to all human relationships. I see another parallel in this week's instalment beyond the Arabin-Eleanor and Slope-Madeline love scenes. At the opening of Archdeacon Grantly's interview with Eleanor, Trollope tells us he is the kind of person who delights in such interviews when he's on top. It's a great pleasure to him to inflict himself on someone else -- he of course rationalises this pleasure as teaching others to right way to be. If they don't come up to stuff, he throws them out, turns cold, snubs them. We all remember his delight in his scene with Bold in _The Warden_. Thus Madeline is acting in ways analogous to Grantly.

With this difference. Eleanor (in effect) spits at the Archdeacon. It is in such moments I like her pride. I can warm to her for a bit. Slope doesn't have this pride, which partly comes from rank. When I said yuk, it was because he squirmed and Madeline practically quivered and quietly exulted. Yuk, yuk, yuk. I can feel for Slope too.

Further, when Madeline does that, how can I be on her side when she brings forward the idea that what is not manifest in real signs does not exist? Trollope uses her behavior to suggest that the comment is not true. It is, but in the fiction, she is using the argument to pin her man down and amuse herself. She's right. The world is not a very nice place. She, however, is in this scene one of those who make it so ugly.

Which is to say I don't enjoy cruelty, even of Slope as worm. If memorable and vivid, the scene is queasy. Is it meant to make us uncomfortable? Partly.


Subject: [trollope-l] Gentlemen

From: Sigmund Eisner

Sometimes with just a word or two, Trollope can summon an attitude toward an entire class. I noted in Chapter Twenty-Seven of Barchester Towers the description of Mr. Slope donning his armor for his engagement with la signora Neroni. The donning of armor is always an important scene in medieval and especially Arthurian tales. In this particular scene, after explaining that Mr. Slope accoutered himself with a clean necktie, a clean handkechief, and new gloves, Trollope tells us that Mr. Slope indulged himself with "a soupcon of not unnecessary scent." Is Trollope telling us here that Mr. Slope smelled bad? If so, is he saying that all not-quite gentlemen smelled bad? I suggest he was. Human body odor is usually in the nose of the beholder. I remember some sixty odd years ago an older relative telling me that American blacks smelled bad. I suppose they did to him, and equally he smelled bad to the American black. Prejudice can be engrained. Mr. Slope has other faults which set him aside from the run-of-the-mill gentleman. He has red hair. Now red hair in Trollope, especially in a man, is not exactly a sign of distinction, in spite of Mr. Stubbs in Ayala's Angel. A red head, anyway at first glance, cannot be a real gentleman. One third of my children (two) and one third of my grandchildren (four) are red heads; therefore, I am rather partial in their favor. And, for all I know, we all smell bad to certain sensitive nostrils. Mr. Slope is a sleaze. He certainly is not a gentleman. No gentleman enjoys shaking hands with him. Neither of the two important ladies (Eleanor and Madeleine) in our novel have any respect for him. I am sure that dogs resent being petted by him. Yes, Trollope makes his point here very well. The "soupcon of not unnecessary scent" says it all.



Hmmm, interesting, Sig. I noticed the little slur from Trollope, too. So Slope *pongs*!!!!

Any chance that the prejudice about redheads (say I, a green-eyed redhead) has to do with the derrogation of the Irish by the English?


From: Sigmund Eisner

Well, Phoebe, it may. That is the 19th-century prejudice against redheads may well have something to do about the 19th-century (and twentieth too) British prejudice against the Irish. Perhaps you recall the Polish jokes that sullied our own culture for a while. The English still tell the same jokes about the Irish. Then, again, these are universal. Perhaps the Kenyans tell them about the Tanzanians and the Chinese against the Mongolians.


From: "Jeremy Godfrey"


The English tell jokes about the Irish. The Irish tell them about the Kerrymen. I don't know who the the Kerrymen pick on.

I wonder if they choose folk from Dingle, who pick on people from a particular street, who tell jokes about one family in the street and there is one member of the family who is always the butt of jokes and has no-one to laugh at.

Somewhat off-topic for Trollope-l so I am sending this privately.


From: "Robert J Wright" Hey, did you hear the one about the Irish Newfoundlander who visited Belgium and met this Pole in a pub there?

Subject: [trollope-l] BT - AT's Freudian Slip Showing?

From: "Jill D. Singer"

I’ve just caught up on the splendid BT postings so far, and I’m going to take the liberty of offering some comments about this week’s assignment and a previous one. I’ve never been one to easily catch sexual innuendos in any author’s work, let alone such respectable writers as AT. However, his language choices in describing Mrs. Proudie, her relationship with the Bishop, the Proudie-Slope contests, and Signora Neroni’s treatment of Mr. Slope reek of unconscious, conscious or even sly and quite intentional tongue-in-cheek off-color humour, at least to me.

Going back to Chapter 17, the title immediately sets the stage for some pretty risque double entendres: “Who shall be Cock of the Walk?” Per the OED, the cruder meaning for “cock” (beyond Mr. Rooster) has been around a long time, and it’s probably safe to assume Trollope was quite aware of the word’s reference to male equipment. The focus of the chapter is who has reason to wear the pants (trousers) in the family: Mrs. P. or the Bishop. Hence, it is not surprising that the Bishop enters his wife’s boudoir and finds her (a) dealing with family money while (b) “nibbling the end of her pencil”, a nice (albeit less-than-Lawrentian) phallic prop.

Our author then joins the group and addresses the Bishop, again with masculine symbolism, exhorting him to “call up all the manhood that is in thee,” to consider how much is as “stake” and to be “true to thy guns.” He also calls upon the Bishop to assert this masculinity against his wife, still using some double-meaning words: “Up, man, and at her with a constant heart.” His wife, however, was quite unmoved, and “still sat with her fixed pencil” and her accounting figures foremost in her mind.

This week, in Chapter 26, “Mrs. Proudie wrestles and gets a Fall,” returns to the Proudies’ husband-wife power struggle, this time allowing Mr. Slope to join the fray. Trollope again used words that can bring on a little blush-and-giggle if taken the “wrong” way.

In fact, these words may convey Mrs. P’s sexual dominance over her husband, and even give us some clear picture of their physical relationship, with Mrs. P. definitely being “on top” of things and eschewing the “missionary position.” For example, consider the words Trollope uses to describe the problems posed by the Bishop’s past failures: “It is so hard for the cock who has once been beaten out of his yard to resume his courage and again take a proud place upon a dunghill.” And the words describing what the Bishop faces after he had “screwed up to the pitch of asserting a will of his own,” relying on Mr. Slope, who will not be present later that evening “when those curtains are drawn, when that awful helmet of proof has been tied beneath the chin, when the small remnants of the bishop’s prowess shall be cowed by the tassel above his head.” It may well be that Trollope laughingly implied something beyond nightcaps here. [BTW, the myth of Lillith generally goes that she lost out to Eve and gave up her chance to be the first woman/Adam’s wife when she refused to take the bottom position during sexual relations.]

There is also a bit of phallic imagery in Chapter 26, Mr. Slope and Mrs. Proudie being watched by the Bishop as “each took up the cudgels” and Mrs. Proudie taking heart to go back to Mrs. Quiverful once she entered the bedroom and gained heart as Don Quixote did when “he grasped his lance.”

Chapter 27 immediately turns to Mr. Slope’s relationship with Signora Neroni, but Trollope continued to emphasize a female’s ability to gain the sexual upperhand, and again used words that can trigger a titter and place La Neroni in the posture of aggressor. For example: “Mr. Slope was madly in love, but hardly knew it. The signora spitted him, as a boy does a cockchafer on a cork, that she might enjoy the energetic agony of his gyrations. And she knew very well what she was doing.”

Once again, I assure you that I am not generally prurient in my perceptions, and certainly not when reading 19th-century novels, but some of these phrases simply sprang out at me (no innuendo intended!) Be it literary craft or Freudian obliviousness, Trollope certainly was clever in fitting his language to his subject matter.

Jill Singer
in Highly Respectable Overland Park KS (where we may not even teach evolution?)

Fom: "Robert J Wright"

Subject: [trollope-l] Mrs Quiverful

Although personally I have never found it easy to identify with Revd Crawley and the way the matter of the mislaid cheque was handled (it was not believable for me that anyone would have acted in such a way, even a daft prelate in his situation) I did very much relate to Mrs Quiverful and the negotiations with Mrs Proudie. The scheming of all the powerful characters contrasted well with the vulnerability of those whose minds were simpler, not because they were made that way, but because (unlike the Bishop and all those in authority and influence in the Church) their minds were set on God and not on politics and power. Here we find Trollope at his best. He takes time to lay out his characters in very great detail. He knows every one of them personally, lives with them, understands how they react, and best of all, their weaknesses, stupidities and follies are all there. Is it not this personal knowledge of his people in a very real way which forms the major attraction to us all for Trollope as a novelist and for his works?

Robert Wright
Kensington, London

From: "Jill D. Singer"

I admire Trollope's craft in now fleshing out, as it were, the Quiverful family and particularly Mrs. Quiverful. Up until this point, Trollope has directed our sympathies entirely toward Mr. Harding, and the reader really wants Mr. Harding to return to Hiram's Hospital. If that is not to be, it is important that we see the other side of the story, and these chapters presenting Mrs. Quiverful front and center as a brave and loving wife and mother pushes us toward acceptance of the Quiverful's possible usurping of Mr. Harding's place.

I also find Mrs. Quiverful one of the great collection of female role models that Trollope presents in BT. Consider the number of important women in this book: Mrs. Proudie*; Susan Grantley; Monica Thorne; Letitia Quiverful; Signora Neroni; Charlotte Stanhope; and even more stereotypically Eleanor Harding Bold. They possess discrete individual personalities -- unlike the much flatter Dickens women; they exercise power and influence and control over their worlds; and they cope with the problem of exercising such power and control within the 19th century strictures imposed on women. They make me like Trollope a great deal because he sees women as people.

Jill Singer
Overland Park, KS

*BTW, do we ever learn Mrs. Proudie's first name? If not, why not? And what would be a good first name for such a woman?

To Trollope-l

August 21, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers: The Lady Without A First Name & Other Related Matters

Jill Singer has made me realise for the first time that Trollope does not give Mrs Proudie a first name. I quickly skimmed BT; then I went to several guides; then I looked at a couple of discussions.

This is fascinating: it really is. It means we never see her in those intimate moments when married couples did address one another by their first names. Dr Grantly called his wife Susan in The Warden and in their first curtain scene we were told she addressed him as 'Archdeacon'; however, at some point, she or some other character speaks to him in a friendly equal enough private way to call him Theophilus. Or the narrator uses the whole name. How else would I know it? In literature a big-to-do is often made of those characters whose first names authors do not tell us: the second Mrs de Winter, the governess in The Turn of the Screw The author has in these and other cases deliberately withheld the first name. In Mrs Proudie's case it's more like Austen's never having a scene where we learn Mr and Mrs Bennet's first name; still the fact we never learn these tells us something about their relationship. In other of her novels, the husbands and wives do address each other familiarly.

There is indeed a great deal of bawdy bye-play in the scenes between Bishop and Mrs Proudie and Mr Slope and Madame Neroni. As with Shakespeare, it's got to be deliberate: it's too frequent, too consistent, and too funny and appropriate to the characters not to be. I also agree with Robert and others that Mrs Quiverful is beautifully done -- as well as all the interesting women in this novel. Eleanor is the most conventional, but even she is analysed sufficiently to make her real: as when she only reads or takes from the letter what she wants to see. The narrator remarks about her lack of apparent response to Mr Slope's unctuous brand of sexual innuendo: 'How hard it is to judge accurately the feelings of others' (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, II:9, p. 265). There in a nutshell is one of those remarks which shows us how well Trollope understands how difficult it is to understand other people. What follows is a sharp proof of his understanding: Eleanor appears not to discountenance Mr Slope's sexual advances because 1) she is so eager to accept his offer of the wardenship for her father -- shades of Mrs Quiverful for Mr Quiverful; and 2) it would be nauseous to her to admit to herself the man's vulgarity so she pretends not to see the obvious, and of course, as a lady, never mentions it (p. 265, the paragraph beginning: 'And yet it was the true feminine delicacy of Eleanor's mind which brought on her this condemnation ...').

Jill Spriggs's posting on the Neroni -Slope encounter over the sofa reinforces Jill Singer's comments on the many bawdy pointed puns of the book. More seriously, we have in the depiction of Slope something of a male who would take the submissive position with a mistress (why she is called a mistress is brought out); Slope is excited precisely because Madeline conquers and punishes him. We also have in the innuendoes to Mrs Proudie's helmet and meditations upon the pillow a sense that in bed she too takes charge. By-the-bye the sofa has for a long-time been used in novels as an erotic object. Dideot (or perhaps it was one of the Crébillons) wrote a salacious novel about the adventures of a sofa. Almost as good as another in the same vein (in French) on the adventures of a necklace.

This brings me to comment on Sig's posting and that of others on the concept of gentleman in this book -- and of lady. Eleanor's behavior in the novel seems to us conventional and duller than that of the other women partly because in her Trollope is depicting an English 'lady'. Eleanor would never behave the way the Signora Neroni does. Madeline Stanhope long ago gave up any pretensions to such notions. I agree it is a matter of class and rank for Trollope and many of his 19th century readers; yet, we come repeatedly to this idea that it is also in one's inner nature to be a lady or gentleman and someone of higher class can be a brute or vulgar and someone of a lower class be a lady or gentleman in all but class. For myself I'd like to remark on their sofa scene that although up to this point I had been really enjoying Madeline and sympathising with her, in this scene I found myself put off, uncomfortable, disliking them both. There was something distasteful and mean (in all senses of the word) about their scene. Sorry to seem an elitist, but I felt a desire to 'put up my nose' -- I here allude to Sig's comments on bad smell being in the nostril of he or she who smells something as sour, rotten, yukky.

Ellen Moody

Gene Stratton returned to the analogy between Eleanor and Iphigenia Trollope had set up in The Warden

Subject: [trollope-l] BT: Deja Vu: Iphigenia

Somehow I have a feeling of deja vu as I read about Eleanor and her plight vis-a-vis Mr. Slope on the one hand and her relatives and friends on the other. In The Warden we had an attractive young lady pursued by a well-educated gentleman. Unfortunately, this gentleman, having a cause to pursue, did dirt to the young lady's father. Later, however, he reversed himself and sought his best to make it up to the father, even though it meant going against a person of great influence who had taken up his cause.

Eleanor's friends and relatives were then aghast that she was still on good terms with the man who had injured her father. The father himself, though, abstained from taking revenge against the man who had injured him. Freed of any need of going against her father's will, this young lady would not brook any interference in her affairs by anyone else, and she defied all others who had been close to her. She sacrificed herself, and married the gentleman in question. Does it seem to anyone else that Trollope appears to be getting double mileage out of these characters? In BT Eleanor is pursued by another well-educated gentleman* with a cause. Again, this man does dirt to her father. Again the man repents (admittedly for less-than-noble reasons) of the harm he has done, and he tries his best to make restitution to the father. And again this man does so at the certain risk of turning his previous powerful supporter against him. Again, the father refuses to instruct Eleanor how to behave toward this man who had harmed him. Again, the friends and relatives come down hard on Eleanor as she defies the conventions of her age and refuses to turn her back on Mr. Slope.

There is an important difference in this second case, because Eleanor "greatly dislikes" Mr. Slope. Essentially she feels the same way as all the others do about him. The last thing on earth she would do would be to entertain thoughts of marrying him. So her natural course should be to let the others know how she feels. But alas, this clergyman's daughter and activist doctor's widow apparently knows little of the world. Even her non-judgmental father can see on reading Slope's letter that "it was impossible Eleanor should have received such a letter ... without annoyance, unless she were willing to encourage him."

But now deja vu is returning, as Eleanor slips into her Iphigenia role again. She will once more sacrifice herself, this time for a man she clearly doesn't like. She will throw over her friends, although it will appear that they have thrown her over. She will turn her back to ties of family, and perhaps even lose a man to whom she is really attracted, one who would make a good father to her baby, in order to stand up for a principle: the right to receive insinuatingly intimate letters from a man she essentially can't stand. Well, at least that's better than marrying him -- of course, we don't know what is still to happen.

Trollope (as well as others) has re-used elements of plots before, but isn't this one a bit much even for him?

Incidentally, regarding the recent discussion about Trollope as a freemason, it's interesting to note in Chapter 28 that, according to Dr. Grantly, deficiency in staunch high-church feeling was tantamount to freemasonry.

*There will be those who argue, along with Trollope, that Slope is no gentleman. Again, it just shows how absurdly ambiguous the term had become by Trollope's time. Clearly, Slope is a gentleman by one of the meanings of the term. And clearly Slope is not a gentleman by another meaning of the term.

Gene Stratton

Subject: [trollope-l] Mrs. Proudie's First Name

August 23, 1999

Mrs. Proudie's first name was Augusta. We have a hint of this in that one of her daughter's had been given this name. More powerful though is the inductive reasoning that Mrs. Proudie could have accepted no other name than that bestowed on Rome's First Lady. Like Julia Augusta (aka Livia), she was born to rule her man. Like Julia Augusta, she was born to brook no opposition. And like Julia Augusta, after her death she was deified, in Mrs. Proudie's case by a host of critics and scholars who, along with the Geroulds, consider her as one "who vies with Lady Glen and Planty Pal as Trollope's greatest character." How could her first name be anything else?

Gene Stratton

To which I replied:

Good guess. Still not everyone in England called the first daughter after the mother, and the first son after the father or grandfather, not everyone did this. No one is called Arabella in the Gresham family in Dr Thorne; Trollope's families name their children in a varied fashion.

Trollope seems to names women he wants us not to like Augusta and Arabella. There's Arabella Trefoil. Come to think of it so does Austen: Mrs Augusta Elton.

Augusta had certain irrational connotations then we have lost.


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