Barchester Towers, Chapters 33-37
Mrs Proudie Victrix; Dean Slope?: Not With Scent and Red Hair; A Festival Event; Oxford - The Master and Tutor of Lazarus; A Chapter Whose Pace Marks the Time & A Clue; Miss Thorne's Fete Champetre: An Eight Chapter Party; Quintain and the De Courcy family; Trollope's Not-so-Festive Comedy; Ullathorne Sports, Act I; The Three Ladies Meet, or Three Heroines Converge

Jill Spriggs was still writing the weekly facilitating posts:

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume II, Chapter XIV (XXXIII) Mrs. Proudie Victrix


Did anyone doubt that Mrs. Proudie would ultimately be the winner in the battle for the bishopric of Barchester? As Dr. Proudie himself realized, " If indeed he could have slept in his chaplain's bed-room instead of his wife's there might have been something in it. But ..." (OUP Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 53) It appears that Dr. Proudie had been emasculated in more ways than just one.

A week had passed. The dean still lived, and the bishop was still visiting the archbishop. Mr. Slope had had no reply to either of his letters, but the reason was both Sir Nicholas and Tom Towers were out of town on holiday.

Eleanor Bold was becoming more intimate with the Stanhopes. She found them to be much more fun than the stuffy Grantlys, and Bertie played his hand well, never scaring the widow off with talk of romance. I was caught by a statement our narrator made, some chapters later:

"From the first moment of his acquaintance with her he had liked Eleanor Bold. Had he been left to his own devices, had she been penniless, and had it been quite out of the question that he should marry her, he would most probably have fallen violently in love with her." (p. 160)

It was his being compelled to regard the widow pragmatically, as a cash machine, that robbed her of any desirability.

Charlotte Stanhope did her best to ensnare Eleanor so thoroughly she would have no way to extricate herself. But Eleanor was not so easily entangled, and in spite of Charlotte's machinations, the widow was still heart whole (at least as regarded Bertie). Eleanor enjoyed herself thoroughly at the home of the Stanhopes. I agree with our narrator when he commented:

" Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so often be exceedingly improper? and that those who are never improper should so often be dull and heavy?" (p. 63)

For all his uprightness, Theophilus Grantly had a name that well suited him; dull as dishwater.

While the widow Bold was being courted by Messieurs Slope and Stanhope, she could not keep her thoughts from returning to the truly sexy man (IMHO), Francis Arabin. She had not lost her taste for doing battle with the vicar of St. Ewold's; she only wanted the fun of making up again. There would be an opportunity soon; Miss Thorne was having a fete in honor of her new parson, and the spinster was doing it up properly.

"There were to be tents, and archery, and dancing for the ladies on the lawn, and for the swains and the girls in the paddock. There were to be fiddlers and fifers, races for the boys, poles to be climbed, ditches full of water to be jumped over, horse-collars to be grinned though ... and every game to be played which, in a long course of reading, Miss Thorne could ascertain to have been played in the good days of Queen Elizabeth" (p. 64)

Every one in the area with any pretension to gentility was to be invited, as well as the tenants of Ullathorne parish. Mr. Slope had not been invited, although the bishop and his wife had. Madeline Neroni had really put Miss Thorne on the spot when she asked if she could bring the chaplain along. Miss T knew the animosity that existed between the honoree and the chaplain, and as soon as the opportunity presented, she apologized to Mr. Arabin for the inclusion of one presumably so disagreeable. She was reassured upon being told

" ... that he should meet Mr. Slope with the greatest pleasure imaginable and made her promise that she would introduce them to each other." (p. 65)

Eleanor was not so easily reconciled to the presence of the bishop's chaplain, especially when she was told that he would be sharing her carriage. The last thing Eleanor wanted was to add fuel to the flames of gossip by being seen so publicly with him. Ever since the widow had returned to Barchester, she had instructed her servant to tell all visitors she was out, being reluctant to specify Mr. Slope as the undesirable one. This did restrict her social circle.

Meanwhile, the wooing of Eleanor by the entire Stanhope family proceeded apace. But, as I said in my post yesterday, the normally vigilant Charlotte let a wrinkle in the plan slip by. The lapse was never explained, only dealt with after the fact. In spite of Mrs. Bold's all too apparent aversion to the chaplain, the decision to send Mr. Slope in the carriage with Dr. Stanhope and Charlotte (and what about Mrs. Stanhope? She had gone to Mrs. Proudie's reception ... ) was made. I think this whole incident was awkwardly contrived.

Eleanor could not easily make an issue of Charlotte's arrangements, and at first suggested that she go to the party alone. She could also have asked her father to accompany her. But Charlotte insisted on carrying on as she had planned, and Eleanor reluctantly complied, with predictable results.

Dr. Proudie had returned from his visit with the archbishop in time to accompany his family to the party. With great relief, he noted that his wife was

"affectionately cordial ... the girls came out and kissed him in a manner that was quite soothing to his spirit; and Mrs. Proudie ... squeezed him in her arms, and almost in words called him her dear, darling, good, pet, little bishop." Mrs. Proudie (or perhaps I should say, Augusta?) had decided to give her husband a little demonstration of how agreeable she could be " ... when allowed to get the better of everybody, when obeyed by him and permitted to rule over others ... She could furnish his room for him, turn him out as smart a bishop as any on the bench, give him good dinners, warm fires, and an easy life; all this she would do if he would be but quietly obedient". (p. 68)

To insure that her husband had made the proper mental connections, she cozily joined her husband in his study, toasty warm with the first fire of the season. She asked if he had enjoyed his visit with the archbishop, Dr. Proudie assured her he had, and Mrs. Proudie cooed a little longer to her lord and master.

She then came out with the real purpose of her visit. Mrs. Proudie wished to ascertain what her husband intended to do about the soon to be vacant deanship. He uneasily told her he had briefly discussed the matter with his archbishop, proposing Mr. Slope as a candidate for the office. His wife's disapproving eye caused him to quickly backpedal. The bishop suggested that, since his wife " and Mr. Slope did not get on quite so well as you used to do," (p. 71) that it might be expedient to get the chaplain out of the house. Mrs. Proudie made it clear that she did not wish to reward her enemy with making him a dean with a comfortable stipend, to get him out of her house. Utter vanquishment and destruction of the ingrate was the only option the bishop's wife would find palatable. Mr. Slope would leave the palace, not for the deanery, but as an unemployed cleric.

Since the bishop had shown himself to be docile to his wife's behests, he was again coddled and cosseted. Never again would the worm turn.

Jill Spriggs

In response Angela wrote:

From: "Angela Richardson"

I'm falling a bit behind in my reading and have not long passed the first love scene. In preparation for that, Trollope tells us that Slope wears a clean neck tie and hankie as well as new gloves. Then he goes on to say he added

"a soupcon of not unnecessary scent"

from which I deduce that Slope needed perfuming.

It's interesting from our "is he a gentleman or not?" debate angle that Slope wore scent. Trollope also emphasises these (the tie, hankie, gloves and scent) are the only possible adornments for a clergyman making a morning visit. Though this is for ironic effect, it got me thinking about what references I had read to men in Victorian fiction wearing scent. Can anyone recall any others in other Trollope novels?


I answered Angela:

August 24, 1999

To Trollope-l

Re: Barchester Towers: Scent and Red Hair

In Dr Thorne where Trollope shows a flagrant class bias against non-gentlemen with respect to Sir Louis Scatcherd, we are told both Sir Louis and his father, Sir Roger, had red hair. I wondered if anyone who lives in the British Isles could enlighten us as to why Trollope seeks to uglify men with red hair? Sir Louis also wears scent.

Ellen Moody

Then I responded to Jill's post and the text:

Re: Barchester Towers: Dean Slope? A Festival Event

It is interesting how an idea that is at first shocking is easily turned into the blasé and banal. So it is with the notion first bruited about by Slope, that he is the right candidate for Dean. Mrs Proudie is at first stunned, and, as Jill says, she finds has nonetheless to proceed to argue the Bishop out of the idea. The Bishop then shifts ground: he thought Mrs Proudie found Slope objectionable, and would be glad to get rid of him on any grounds.

How little the Bishop knows of his wife.

There is something of the contrivance in the way Eleanor is maneuvred into going to Miss Thorne's festival with Slope. It's not quite probable -- she had other options beyond the refusal to go at all.

I wonder if the reason the people who are thought proper are dull and heavy is part of properness is denial of many aspects of our natures that make us human. Respectability somehow demands a facade of stolid invulnerability; the Stanhopes know better than this.

I love the description of the upcoming 'traditional' party. Trollope did not have to read modern historians to know that traditions are often recent developments which answer to some contemporary need. The footnote about the tournament the Earl of Eglinton was so egegriously naive and foolish to stage was rained out. The absurdities and expense of this Ullathorne-like attempt to bring back the medieval world became proverbial in this period.

Ellen Moody

August 26, 2001

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume II, Chapter XV (OUP XXXIV) Oxford - The Master and Tutor of Lazarus


In my experience I have found that some people of great intellect can be quite uncomplicated emotionally. The first few years of our marriage (we have been married 26 years), I was convinced that my husband was hiding something, perhaps some terrible emotional trauma he was unable to face. It took a long time for me to realize that he is one of those people with no hidden depths; every emotion is instantly on the surface. I think that Francis Arabin could be another of this type. Since he himself was so above board, it was difficult for him to understand how appearances could be deceiving. When Eleanor did not give a satisfactory response to his simple question, Francis only saw the surface, that since Eleanor refused to answer, the answer must have been " ... that [she] did not care a straw for him, and that very probably she did care a straw for his rival." (OUP Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 74)

Digression: why is it that when men are complex emotionally, they are "moody", whereas if women are emotionally complex, they are "just PMSing"?

Mr. Arabin was cursed with an overactive conscience, and accustomed to the High Church (and Roman Catholic) habit of examining one's conscience, too frequently would find cause for discomfort. Motes in his own eye too frequently had the appearance of logs. After he had with difficulty acknowledged to himself that he did love Eleanor Harding Bold, he questioned whether it was Eleanor Bold's money that he loved, in addition to her own charming self. He sold himself short when he answered in the affirmative:

"...his love for her had crept upon him without the slightest idea that he could ever benefit his own condition by sharing her wealth." (p. 73)

Mentally Mr. Arabin compared the widow Bold with the matrimonially questionable Signora Neroni, and after acknowledging the latter's superiority of beauty and apparent pliability:

"The signora had listened to him, and flattered him, and believed in him, at least she had told him so. Mrs. Bold had also listened to him, but had never flattered him; had not always believed in him ..." (p. 74),

came to the conclusion that nevertheless, it was only Eleanor Bold that he could love.

Mentally, Mr. Arabin shook himself, scolding that he had ill spent the afternoon mooning after a lover in an adolescent fashion. He would behave like a man, not " ... an ancient love-lorn swain, dejected and sighing, full of imaginary sorrows and Wertherian grief." (p. 74) Unfortunately, the determinedly perky Arabin aroused the resentment of Mr. Harding, who " ...thought that the archdeacon and Mr. Arabin had leagued together against Eleanor's comfort. ... it appeared as though he were triumphing at Eleanor's banishment" (p. 75)

Mr. Arabin was the only cheerful member of the party. Dr. Grantly was facing the prospect of

" ... an end to his life as far as his life was connected with the city of Barchester ... with Mr. Slope ... in the deanery, he felt that he should be unable to draw his breath in Barchester close."

Mrs. Grantly felt that her guest was exhibiting an unseemly levity; " ... he was not affected as he should have been by all the sad circumstances of the day" (p. 75)

Mr. Harding had not the heart for male bonding, so he left the room soon after the ladies. Dr. Grantly returned to the subject of the troublesome letter, and Mr. Slope's apparent offer of the wardenship of the hospital to Mr. Harding. The archdeacon thought that Mr. Harding should not allow his aversion for Mr. Slope to hinder him from seeing the bishop about resuming his former position. " ' It would be foolish to let the thing slip through our fingers because Mrs. Bold is determined to make a fool of herself.' " (p. 76) Mr. Arabin mildly remarked that he was not so sure that Mrs. Bold was going to do any such thing. The archdeacon was eager to know what had made his protege think this, but Mr. Arabin evaded his queries. A consensus was reached that Mr. Harding should not act until Dr. Gwynne should come, and they could consult with him.

Dr. Grantly's greatest fear was that Mr. Slope would "out-general" him by giving the appearance of putting Mr. Harding into the wardenship until he should succeed in gaining Eleanor Bold's hand, when he would about face and put his own candidate, Mr. Quiverful, into the office. Gaining the deanship would only complete his rout of the formerly powerful archdeacon. Dr. Grantly's greatest hope was in Dr. Gwynne, but " ... how can vice and Mr. Slope be punished, and virtue and the archdeacon be rewarded, while the avenging god is laid up with the gout?" (p. 77)

A few days after Eleanor left, Mr. Arabin went to Oxford to confer with his mentor. Dr. Gwynne was not optimistic about the chances of thwarting the election of Mr. Quiverful to the wardenship, but agreed to accompany his friend back to Barchester. Dr. Gwynne did try to reassure Mr. Arabin that he doubted Mr. Slope had any prospect of being offered the deanship. Tom Staple, the tutor of Lazarus, agreed, giving as his reason,

" ' ... the last two deans have been Cambridge men; you'll not show me an instance of their making three men running for the same University. ... we must have at least one out of three.' " (p. 80)

Tom Staple did, however, agree that Mr. Quiverful would be warden of Hiram's Hospital. He did find one consolation; Tom suggested that the deanship would be offered to Mr. Harding. Dr. Gwynne noted the suggestion.

Jill Spriggs

August 27, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, II:15 (34): A Chapter Whose Pace Marks the Time & A Clue

This is an interesting chapter technically: in it we find something that didn't occur in novels or shorter narratives before the end of the 18th century: nothing very much happens. We pass a little time slowly. In earlier novels novelists were not concerned to give us an imitation of real time so that we enter imaginatively into a realm of consciousness that resembles our own sense of reality which is actually heavily time-oriented (at least that's one of the ways in which we consciously make sense of it). If you read Fielding or Prevost, you find authors who skip years and years in a paragraph, and chapters where the events are just about always heavily emblematical and plot-driven. They don't meander. Meandering is important when it comes to creating the sense of felt real life: in a short book, you do it concisely; in a medium length one like this you give it a few pages.

The first half of the chapter takes place in Plumstead Episcopy. Trollope first traces the emotions of Arabin, shows us the people at table now sadly 'all at cross-purposes' (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p. 319). I agree with Jill that these after dinner drinking cliques strictly for the men are male bonding rituals. I never thought of it that way before. The other men in the room unfortunately do not see the cogency of Arabin's comment: 'If the bishop really menas to confer the appointment of Mr Harding he will take care to let him have some other intimation than a message conveyed through a letter to a lady' (p. 320). This is accurate: when a man wants something to happen, he will not depend upon another man's insinuations to a lady in a love letter. Such a mind can see through pretense. Myself I see Arabin's failure to see through Elinor's facade as plot-driven. Trollope has given us several chapters in which he explored as he has done thus far for no other character but Slope Arabin's hidden depths. Trollope has to have Arabin not understand to keep the plot going; his reasoning is that just in the area of sex, Arabin is an innocent. Elsewhere Arabin has folds in his mind and can convey many meanings and ironies.

The second half of the chapter is curious because of the character Tom Staple. It's as if Trollope began a new character, meant to make much of him (after all the chapter heading has 'tutor' in it) and then dropped whatever idea or use for Staple he had in mind. I have wondered if Staple was originally meant to have more to do with the final appointment of the character who gets to be Dean (at the end of the novel).

In this second half of the chapter Trollope uses Staple in a couple of ways. One is to introduce yet another attack on what Trollope regards as the unfair power of newspapers over people's minds, people being sheep and apt to believe that what they are told is everyone's opinion or way of life actually is. Trollope here stands for a value I have seen him stand for before: he suggests it is good for students to be allowed to get into debt. The struggles, agonies and hard lessons learned that way are part of education. This reminds me of many modern Americans' way of talking about school: they seem to regard it primarily as a social training ground where the strong and tough get ahead, and others are somehow coerced into being stronger and tougher. Academics come secondarily -- this is really Deweyism (educating the citizen not the mind). I want to come out on the side of the Jupiter. Not everyone grows stronger and tougher from troubles, and for some the troubles can become so bad they can take a long time to retrieve. To put this in modern terms, I would not encourage my 21 year old daughter to get herself a credit card and start buying as this might teach her a lesson. So in this little turn of the story -- in which our narrator marks time too -- while I still agree with Trollope that newspapers can often have a strong effect on the thinking and even behavior of readers, and that can be unfortunate, in this particular instance I'm with the Jupiter. We are told Tom Staple in his heart approved of students' getting credit easily. A man of the 'old school' who is comfortable with human nature then.

Jill noted that our volume ends on a remark that focuses our attention on who will get the hospital appointment: Mr Quiverful or Mr Harding. Trollope also uses Staple's conversation cleverly to intertwine a clue about the coming of a new Dean. First if there is a new Dean, the cards will be shuffled differently than they had been shuffled before. Thus whoever is the new Dean will affect who becomes the new Warden. As Jill wrote, Tom Staple thinks that Slope will not be Dean because these appointments are often given out in what would appear to be irrelevant mechanical manners: one party got it three times, so another party must get it now. Never mind the particular individual's fitness. I'm afraid that is how these things often still work. If not Slope, who? Someone from Oxford. He would probably put Harding in.

Now who do we know that went to and has been attached to Oxford for lo these many years? Our novelist has thrown out a quiet clue for those who follow the line of Staple's thought and make inferences from it. The reader's mind needs to be as sneaky as the novelists's to get his little plant.

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume III, Chapter I (OUP XXXV) Miss Thorne's Fete Champetre


This is going to be some party, lasting for eight chapters!

It seemed that all Barchester was coming for the grand fete; Dr. Proudie returned from his visit to the archbishop, and Mr. Arabin arrived with the Master of Lazarus, Dr. Gwynne, being picked up from the station by the archdeacon. Eleanor Bold was to arrive in the carriage with the distasteful companion already mentioned. Miss Thorne was all aflutter, a feeling that any of us who has thrown a large party, has shared. Mr. Thorne had done his share of the work. But most of the burden had fallen on Mr. Plomacy (makes me think of diplomacy, something which the steward surely had to practice regularly). Mr. P had experience with keeping his head in times of stress, having done a little of the cloak and dagger during the time of the French Revolution, in an effort to assist the royals. While he was inclined to indolence,

" ... on occasions such as the present Mr. Plomacy came out strong. He had the honor of the family at heart; he thoroughly appreciated the duties of hospitality; and therefore, when gala doings were going on, always took the management into his own hands and reigned supreme over master and mistress." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 84)

The logistics were planned exhaustively. The gentry were to have a breakfast, and the working class was to have a dinner. The "quality" were to have their breakfast in a marquee on the "garden side of a certain ha-ha; ... [and] an auxiliary banquet was prepared in the dining room" (p. 84). The peasantry were to have their dinner in another marquee on the paddock side of the ha-ha, with an additional spread laid on tables in the open air.

How to divide the sheep from the goats was a serious problem. Where was the line between gentry and non-gentry to be drawn? And also, how to divide between those dining in the marquee, from those in the parlor? Poor Miss Thorne was well aware that if she put the countess, bishop, barons and baronettes in the parlor, no one would want to go to the marquee, and vice versa. The hostess "determined if possible to put the bishop on the lawn and the countess in the house, to sprinkle the baronets, and thus divide the attractions." (p. 86)

The Lookalofts presented a special problem. They were tenants, and as such, belonged with the proletariat, but they had social pretensions and just might resist being classed with good Farmer Greenacre. Mr. Plomacy had made it clear in the invitation that all the tenants were to be invited, and he hoped that if the Lookalofts did not wish to rub elbows with the hoi polloi, they would stay at home.

Miss Thorne had dedicated much thought to the recreations of the day, having a soft spot for an activity called the quintain, which I never was able to understand clearly. She was worried that some of the men might come unsuitably attired for sports, and that the others would hesitate to compete if the lavender gloved ones hung back. Mr. Plomacy thought that the young people would be more interested in flirting than in sporting, which discouraged Miss Thorne; " Why should she take on herself to cater for the amusement of people of such degraded tastes?" (p. 87)

The morning of the party all Ullathorne was topsy turvy. The staff stirred early to begin preparations, and Miss Thorne wandered about, useless and fidgety. Her brother joined her in his study for a lean breakfast. "The tea was made without the customary urn, and they dispensed with the usual rolls and toast. Eggs also were missing, for every egg in the parish had been whipped into custards, baked into pies, or boiled into lobster salad. The allowance of fresh butter was short, and Mr. Thorne was obliged to eat the leg of a fowl without having it devilled in the manner he love." (p. 88) Makes me think of eating over the sink in an effort to avoid dirtying dishes that would be needed for the feast.

Miss Thorne tried in vain to interest her brother in the sports she had so exhaustively prepared for. She pushed him so persistently to give her quintain a try, that he snapped at her, immediately regretting it. He placatingly reminded her that he was too old for such frolics; " ' If I was five-and-twenty, or thirty ... I should like nothing better than riding at the quintain all day.' " Not knowing when to stop, Miss Thorne reminded her brother that he still hunted, and jumped over fences and hedges.

" ' But when I ride over the hedges, my dear, ... there isn't any bag of flour coming after me. Think how I'd look taking the countess out to breakfast with the back of my head all covered in flour.' " (p. 91)

Miss Thorne gave up. She pinned all her hopes on her favorite, Farmer Greenacre's oldest son, Harry. He had promised to be the first to ride at the quintain, and surely the other young men would follow his lead.

Mr. Plomacy, in spite of the early hour, already had young people clustering in the park, eager to begin the festivities. Some were trying to crash the party, and Mr. Plomacy had to keep an alert eye for interlopers. Miss Thorne had urged him not to be too strict, and he let in area children and girls with their local lovers. But all inhabitants of the city were turned away; "Miss Thorne wasn't going to take in the whole city of Barchester ..." Efforts to stem the tide proved to be futile, and Mr. Plomacy and his deputies " ... transferred [their care] to the tables on which the banquet was spread." (p. 93)

The party was proving to be a lot of work!

Jill Spriggs

Subject: [trollope-l] Quintain and De Courcy family

From: Sigmund Eisner

Jill writes that she has never been able to understand the quintain. The word itself is as old as the Romans. The fifth street in a Roman encampment was devoted to shops, games, etc. The quintain (the word comes from fifth) consisted of a vertical post with a horizontal board pivoting on top. At one end of the board is a target designed to be smitten with a lance carried by a horseback rider, in the later Middle Ages a knight. From the other end was suspended a sand bag. The target and the sand bag had equal weight so that the horizontal board was evenly balanced. The object of the sport was to ride with a horizontal lance at the target and to smite the target with such speed that the sand bag did not clobber the rider on the back of the head. Miss Thorne, unwilling, I suppose, to stultify her guests, substituted a porus bag of flour for the sand bag. The flour would whiten the back of the unlucky participant's head, but no further damage would be done. She hadn't counted on young Greenacre being unable to handle a lance or a pole substituting for a lance.

The De Courcys are introduced to us rather gradually. We first hear about Lord George and Lord John along with their sisters, the Ladies Amelia, Rosina, and Margaretta. These people are accompanied by their mother, the Countess Rosina. Earl de Courcy stayed at home along with his other son, Lord Porlock, and his other daughter, the Lady Alexandria. The De Courcys are usually proud, disdainful, and unpleasant. They appear frequently in the rest of the Barchester novels, and Lady Rosina (not the Countess) appears as an old lady concerned about her shoes in The Prime Minister. We are going to see much more about these people.


Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Quintain and De Courcy family


Thank you so much Sig; I now have a visual picture which is much more clear than the one I had before. I am a little surprised that even Miss Thorne could think the quintain a sport suitable for contemporary young men unused to handling a lance. It would be as if I tried to use the very long two paddled oar for kayaking, when I am accustomed to the one paddled oar for canoeing, only it seems that use of the lance (or pole) could be much more dangerous.

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l

August 29, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, II:1(35): Trollope's Festival Comedy

Jill says Miss Thorne's 'fête champêtre' lasts 8 chapters. Since we have but 18 chapters left, that's almost half the rest of the novel given over to festival.

And what a festival. Everyone is gathered together in one place: rather like the end of a mystery, but more like the comedies of the Restoration through 18th century. At the end all the characters from the various plots would be brought together to give us some final climax or provide a dénouement after the climax. There's a book on Shakespeare's romantic comedies of the 1590's (Love's Labour's Lost through Twelfth Night) which is called Shakespeare's Festival Comedy and I thought of it as I read this week's chapters.

I also thought of several other novels where Trollope stretches a party or ball across several chapters and actually numbers them. Didn't we have this near the opening of Rachel Ray: Rachel went to the ball for 3 numbered chapters; I think there are similarly numbered Acts at Festival scene (including hunts) in other novels. Miss Thorne's great sporting traditional feast Barchester Towers rather resembles Lady Monk's party in Can You Forgive Her? because the acts are interrupted by interludes in which things only indirectly related to the party go on.

As I read it I also thought of the great tournament scene in Scott's Ivanhoe: surely Trollope had that famous set-piece in mind too.

I'll thank Sig too. I had a hard time visualising quite what was meant by the quintain. Adding a few thoughts to Jill's: the third paragraph where we are told how Slope responds to Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin's noncommitant nothings suggests that after all Slope is not the astute politician he thinks he is (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p. 330, paragraph beginnning: 'He had received that morning a very civil note ...')

I found the description and depiction of Mr Plomacy very funny: since reading La Vendée I have become aware of how often in little asides Trollope refers to the French revolution: in Can You Forgive Her? Mr Grey, we are told, is a great reader about the subject. I think we forget that Trollope's mother belonged to Jane Austen's generation, and he saw some of the people who had been involved through her when she peregrinated around Europe.

Like Jill I certainly feel for the Herculean efforts in the hard work and diplomacy department, the management and production line this party took. As someone who only twice in her life gave a party, and that for a young girl aged 8 and 9 on her birthday, very tiny affairs which nonetheless taxed my powers beyond their strength, I admire Miss Thorne and her faithful helpmeet. And then, as we shall see, to see there all dressed up waiting for half an hour after the time all is to start, and then wait again watching the clock in all her rigarmarole of finery, I mean here is a heroine. Shame on Lady de Courcy for arriving three hours late. I suppose when she gives a party she doesn't ready herself until well after it is supposed to begin?

Sig mentions the de Courcys . Trollope does name a number of people who will become very important and be given vivid individual life in Dr Thorne, some of whom will still be with us until late in the Palliser books. Quite a flow of time to come from this initial apparently effortless and unplanned inventiveness.

Having only given two birthday parties for said young girl, I have never had to manage who sits next to who, much less which group of people sits where. Even worse in this era where people did sit apart according to class and rank, Miss Thorne must deal with liminal types, of which in any society there will be a number. From the point of view of family history, property ownership, and how they make their money, the Lookalofts belong with the Greenacres and other tenants. They are not bourgeois, not gentry, certainly not county family. Yet this new branch on their tree has been educated and the wife, husband and daughter have somewhat different ways and certainly more aspirations than the Greenacres. The husband solves the problem by staying away. The wife and daughters overdress to the point that one would have a hard time insisting they sit with the plainer, coarser, rougher types.

I liked the scene between Monica and her brother because they showed kindness to one another. They are sensitive to one another's feelings. And yes I was reminded of how people will save things for the company that is coming.

It would be a shame to exclude anyone even though Mr Plomacy seems to think it expected. My favorite sentence was quoted by Jill: 'on occasions such as the present Mr. Plomacy came out strong. He had the honor of the family at heart; he thoroughly appreciated the duties of hospitality; and therefore, when gala doings were going on, always took the management into his own hands and reigned supreme over master and mistress' (p. 330). The tone has a robust comfortableness, a sweeping all problems away before it that makes one smile. Such confidence must make all that is hoped for be realised.

I also liked the arch 'True, my unthinking friend; but who shall define these suchlikes? It is in such definitions that the whole difficulty of society consists' (p. 331).

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume III, Chapter II (OUP XXXVI) Ullathorne Sports -- Act I


As I have said before, I have had the experience several times of entertaining large polyglot groups, and the first line of the chapter really rang true for me.

"The trouble in civilised life of entertaining company, as it is called too generally without much regard to strict veracity, is so great that it cannot but be matter of wonder that people are so fond of attempting it. ... If they who gave such laborious parties, and who endure such toil and turmoil in the vain hope of giving them successfully, really enjoyed the parties given by others, the matter could be understood. A sense of justice would induce men and women to undergo, in behalf of others, those miseries which others had undergone in their behalf. But they all profess that going out is as great a bore as receiving; and to look at them, one cannot but believe them." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 93)

I cannot help but wonder if Trollope was alluding to Mrs. Proudie's economical approach to entertaining when he spoke of trusting

" ... to wax candles and upholstery ... and at the houses of one's accustomed friends, ... one gets a cold potato handed to one as a sort of finale to one's slice of mutton. ... These latter day habits are certainly more economical." (p. 94)

One gets the impression that AT preferred the old school, where one made " a positive effort to entertain her guests." (p. 94) Making such efforts too often proved to be a thankless job.

Poor Miss Thorne

"piped to them, but they would not dance. She offered to give them good household cake, made of currants and flour and eggs and sweetmeat; but they would feed themselves on trashy wafers from the shop of the Barchester pastry-cook, on chalk and gum and adulterated sugar." (p. 94)

Well do I know the feeling. Once, when my children were young, one had brought a small guest home from nursery school for the afternoon. All my ideas for possible lunches were firmly vetoed by this pint sized gourmand, until I in exasperation asked what she would like to eat. (I am much less pliable now; I would have taken the picky one straight home!) She requested spaghetti. So I got down some pasta and cooked it while I opened up and heated a jar of my husband's wonderful home-made and preserved spaghetti sauce and with a certain sense of accomplishment, set it in front of the little girl. She refused to eat it. It had not come out of a can.

Miss Thorne also had the quaint idea that when you asked people to come at twelve, they would actually come at the specified time. The first hour of so of a party can be such a grim experience. Our dearest friends would make a point of coming at the appointed time to keep us company, until the rest of the guests would actually come. The first gently born guest arrived at 12:45 PM, but wouldn't you know that it would be the slightly deaf Mrs. Clantantrum, who was in the full swing of one (tantrum). The horses drawing her chaise had started just as she was getting out, almost causing the lady to be run over. Her shawl was mud bespattered, and Miss Thorne hastened to offer one of her own to wear until the soiled one could be cleaned.

The guest of honor then arrived, to be treated to a full recitation of Mrs. Clantantrum's misfortunes. While she was still in full voice, a rustling outside signaled the arrival of some unwanted guests. Mrs. Lookaloft, with her daughters and son, had insisted on the footman's announcing them. Miss Thorne was not the type to "insult her own guests" but she did make her displeasure known as only a gently reared lady can. But frosty looks and cold shoulders meant nothing to the brassy broad, who only wanted bragging rights and was willing to put up with much discomfort to obtain them. Apparently Mr. Lookaloft, knowing his wife's intention and being unwilling to thrust himself where he was not wanted, had stayed at home, pleading a headache (one of the few times I can remember a man doing such a thing!)

The Grantly group came next; the archdeacon, Mrs. Grantly, their two daughters, Dr. Gwynne, and Mr. Harding. Unfortunately, while they were still in the courtyard, who should come but the Stanhopes in their carriage. Of course, Mr. Arabin was treated to the sight of Eleanor being handed from the carriage by the distasteful Mr. Slope. The dense widow had finally realized, on the journey in, that the bishop's chaplain showed every sign of intending to propose to her, and the confirmation this gave to the archdeacon's surmises, were hard for Eleanor to take. Next came the bishop's group, and the guests began coming very close together. Miss Thorne was reassured, and again began thinking of her sports. The female toxophilites were shepherded to the targets, bows, and arrows the spinster had so thoughtfully provided. She then drew her attention to the quintain, and her fear of the young men being reluctant to spoil their fine clothes, or to look foolish, was well founded. Her hopes would have to rest on her pet, Harry Greenacre, to spur at least the tenantry to action. Riding with a lance, however, was not one of his accustomed pursuits, and he allowed the lance to dip briefly and become entangled with his horse's legs, pitching him headfirst some distance. The young man's death was assumed, and sick at heart, Miss Thorne made her way, with some difficulty, through the crowd that surrounded her knight. Harry was unharmed, and only concerned that the fall had marred the legs of his horse.

Miss Thorne was greatly relieved, and gave up any further idea of the quintain.

Eleanor Bold had separated herself from the Stanhope party to go in search of her father. When she reached him, Mr. Harding asked her how she had come. Seeing Mr. Arabin's eyes upon her, she told her father that since the Stanhopes had needed the carriage twice, to accommodate Madeline and Bertie, she was obliged to come with the first group. When Eleanor mentioned Mr. Slope as being one of the party, the disheartened Mr. Arabin slunk away, and left father and daughter alone together. She defended herself to her father, making it clear that the arrangements were none of her doing. When her father expressed puzzlement that she would wish to have made different arrangements, Eleanor's feelings bubbled over.

" ' ... you must know, you do know all the things they said at Plumstead. I am sure you do. You know all the archdeacon said. How unjust he was; and Mr. Arabin too. He's a horrid man, a horrid odious man, but --'

' Who is an odious man, my dear? Mr. Arabin?' [Mr. Harding could be positively dense sometimes!]

' No; but Mr. Slope. You know I mean Mr. Slope. He's the most odious man I ever met in my life, and it was most unfortunate my having to come here in the same carriage with him. But how could I help it?' " (p. 103)

The relief Mr. Harding then felt must have been intense. How could he have so misjudged his daughter, and her taste in men? But when he expressed his elation to his daughter, she realized with dismay that even he had been convinced by the damning circumstances of late. Tears burst forth, and Eleanor hid her face in her handkerchief. It was a rather public place to be giving full reign to one's feelings.

Mr. Harding was soon forgiven for his wrong headed thinking, and Eleanor promised " ... that whatever she did she would tell her father first". (p. 105) One might guess that she had something else in mind.

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l

August 30, 1999

RE: Barchester Towers, II:2 (36), More Festival Comedy, Act I

As Jill says, things are not all that festive for everyone in a festival, and maybe especially not for those organising and working at providing the means for others to have the good time:

"The trouble in civilised life of entertaining company, as it is called too generally without much regard to strict veracity, is so great that it cannot but be matter of wonder that people are so fond of attempting it. ... If they who gave such laborious parties, and who endure such toil and turmoil in the vain hope of giving them successfully, really enjoyed the parties given by others, the matter could be understood. A sense of justice would induce men and women to undergo, in behalf of others, those miseries which others had undergone in their behalf. But they all profess that going out is as great a bore as receiving; and to look at them, one cannot but believe them." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 93)

I remember in other Trollope novels how amazed he is that people go to such trouble to make elaborate or very fancy parties and to attend them. He does wax -- and seriously -- positively Carlylean and sardonic in The New Zealander about the spectacle for which everyone has to dress up and, as T. S. Eliot would say, make a face to meet other faces. Why people don't stay comfortably at home or meet casually is beyond him. Halperin says he was a man who disliked the lies of ceremonies. Here though he does make them a matter of fun. Some of the characters may be going through something of an ordeal, but other do enjoy themselves (or at least enter into the spirit of the thing) and, even more importantly, we the readers are enjoying ourselves. It's done through the tone and the continual good humour of the details that build up the pictures.

Still poor Harry Greenacre. He does however get up after his fall. And then poor Mr Lookaloft. Let us pause a moment over the character who doesn't come because it would be too uncomfortable for him. Not worth the vexation. He's home alone -- like one of Austen's heroines (Fanny Price or Anne Elliot). Better than not fitting in anywhere. So maybe the problem of 'suchlikes' is not simply our inability to define and place them. 'Such a headache' says Mrs Lookaloft. Poor man, he couldn't stir ((Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p 342). Then poor Mr Arabin who misunderstands the opening scene of Eleanor's arrival. Poor Eleanor misunderstood. It's true Act I seems to climax on her managing to convey to her father that far from thinking about marrying Mr Slope, he is personally distasteful to her, but this seems to take considerable energy, and is a slightly overwrought moment for her. And then, as the narrator says, what is it that 'Eleanor meant when she declared that whatever she did she would tell her father first? What was she thinking of doing?' .349).

I have left out a few sufferers and hard workers because the narrator has felt for them himself. There's the 'poor footman' who has to lead Mrs Lookaloft into the tent (p. 341). There's Charlotte Stanhope who realises her brother must waste no more time (given the aggression of Mr Slope). Something must be done and Bertie is dilatory. Our narrator is continually intoning 'poor Miss Thorne' (e.g, 346) so I need not include her.

The toxophilites don't seem to be getting on too badly. We see them from afar.

Ellen Moody

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume III, Chapter III (OUP XXXVII) Three Ladies Meet

August 31, 1999


Eleanor arrived in the drawing room just as the Signora Neroni was entering it, the center of all eyes. Madeline had been removed from the carriage to a sofa in the dining room, which was then transported to the drawing room with the assistance of Bertie and Charlotte, two servants, and Mr. Arabin. The signora was in her element; " ... so pathetically happy, so full of affliction and grace, ... so beautiful, so pitiable, and so charming ..." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 105) Miss Thorne had already been won by "two or three soft feminine words [whispered] into [her] ear." (p. 106) Mr. Thorne, having already heard some of the stories going around about the lady, was not quite so easily won. Of course, she had not aimed the full battery of her charms at him.

The Signora did not remain the center of attention for long.

Miss and Mr. Thorne left, with most of Madeline's admirers, for the more gorgeous display of a countess in full plumage. Aware that she had acted uncivilly by being three hours later than appointed, the Countess de Courcy apparently felt that the best defense is a good offense. She attacked the quality of the roads which, since Mr. Thorne was "way-warden for the district", he could not help regarding as a personal attack. Her argument was somewhat diminished in strength by her son's disputing her statement that they had left home at 11 AM. " ' Just past one, I think you mean ..." (p. 107)

In other novels, I have seen instances of the ill-breeding of the so-called upper classes, who felt that their position absolved them from conforming to the usual prohibition of staring. In this chapter this rudeness was witnessed twice. First by the Honorable John (does anyone else see a wee bit of sarcasm by Trollope here?), and then by his mother, both making the signora the object of their observations. Both were stared down by the indomitable Signora Neroni. The Honorable John demanded of his host, just who the interesting woman was. When he heard, he urged Mr. Thorne to introduce them, explaining, " ' I have heard no end of stories about that filly.' " (p. 107) Mr. Thorne was not quite comfortable of having such a notorious woman under his roof, and he resolved to warn his sister against her.

It was then the Countess's turn to be humbled. As she allowed herself to be led to the lawn, she noticed Madeline and her entourage, and turned to survey her with more ease, pressing in among the signora's male admirers, and using her glass the better to see with, my dear. Of course, "it was ... impossible for mortal man or woman to abash Madeline Neroni ..." (p. 109) and it was the countess who dropped her eyes first. She could not escape before hearing Madeline's amused query;

" ' Who on earth is that woman, Mr. Slope?'

' That is Lady De Courcy.'

' Oh, ah. I might have supposed so. Ha, ha, ha. Well, that's as good as a play.' " (p. 110)

The affronted countess found a sympathetic ear in Mrs. Proudie. After abusing their hostess a little, they turned their attention to the woman reclining on the sofa, before one of the drawing room windows. Of course, Madeline could not fail to observe the women looking at her, and guessed that they had chosen to speak ill of her at a safe distance. The countess and the bishop's wife began enjoying themselves immensely.

" ' She's an abominable woman, at any rate,' said Mrs. Proudie.

' Insufferable,' said the countess.

' She made her way into the palace once, before I knew anything about her; and I cannot tell you how dreadfully indecent her conduct was.'

' Was it?' said the delighted countess.

' Insufferable,' said the prelatess. ... ' Her conduct with men is so abominable, that she is not fit to be admitted into any lady's drawing-room.'

' Dear me!' said the countess, becoming again excited, happy, and merciless." (p. 112)

The two discussed Madeline some more, the besotted chaplain who had fallen into her snares, Madeline's siblings, who were "infidels", and Dr. Stanhope, who although he was " ' a good quiet sort of man himself' " (p. 115) had utterly failed to exercise any control over his wayward offspring. Their conversation was interrupted by Mr. Thorne arriving to conduct Lady De Courcy to the tent so she could dine. Mr. Thorne was doing so later than he had planned. He had been detained by the signora.

Madeline had exerted herself to captivate her host, and captivated he was. She had shared her sad history, and left Mr. Thorne sure "the beautiful creature lying before him had been more sinned against than sinning." (p. 114) He found himself promising to call upon Madeline, and to meet her daughter. Mr. Thorne had been convinced that the Honorable George was "a coarse brutal minded young man ..." (p. 114), the like of which had destroyed the reputations of helpless ladies like the Signora Neroni, purely to amuse themselves. He would call on her, and after consulting with his sister, invite the lady for a visit to Ullathorne Hall.

Trollope then digressed to argue the superiority of men aged 45 to 70, as lovers; " ... up to that, men are generally given to mere flirting." (p. 115) Hmm, if my calculations are correct, Trollope was 42 when he wrote Barchester Towers. Could it be that he felt his sexiest time was yet to come?

The love-struck squire led the countess to dinner, leaving a disgruntled Mrs. Proudie behind. Finally a young baronet led her in, but the bishop's wife had had time to cultivate a little more hatred for her former protege, who obviously preferred the company of the crippled woman, to her own.

In the dining room Dr. Grantly was not having an easy time of it, being cornered by Mrs. Clantantrum, and treated to a lengthy monologue of the trials of her day. Charlotte appropriated Mr. Harding, to assist her brother in securing the widow. It was time he begin making love to his prey. Eleanor was happy to be offered the arm of Bertie; Mr. Slope was hovering dangerously near. The determined chaplain did take the seat on Eleanor's other side. The poor surrounded Eleanor could see, through the door, Mr. Arabin dancing attendance on Madeline Neroni.

Eleanor was doubtless the most miserable person at that party.

Jill Spriggs

RE: Barchester Towers, III:3 (37): The Heroines Converge

As Jill says, we have a convergence of heroines, young, old, formidable, and gracious. I really have only one thing I can add to hers. It is simply to direct attention to a comment made by Mrs Proudie which is often overlooked by those who don't like to see the kindness of hard view of humanity everyone concedes is in Trollope's late books in his early books. I mean Mrs Proudie's answer to Lady De Courcy's question 'why does she lie on a sofa?'

'"She has only one leg", replied Mrs Proudie.

"Only one leg!" said Lady De Courcy, who felt to a certain degree dissatisfied that the signora was thus incapacitated. "Was she born that way?"

"Oh, no", said Mrs Proudie -- and her ladiship felt somewhat recomforted by the assurance -- she had two. But that Signor Neroni beat her, I believe, till she was obliged to have one amputated. At any rate she entirely lost the use of it".

"Unfortunate creature!" said the countess, who herself knew something of matrimonial trials"' (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p. 355).

One comes across in numerous places the curious denial that the way the Signora Neroni came to be crippled was that her husband beat her. Mrs Proudie relies on hearsay, but in the case of the Signora's life in Italy that's all we've got. In most cases in the world that's all we've got. In the particular dialogue it is equally 'invigoratingly cold' (to steal a phrase from Kingsley Amis about Austen) that at first Lady De Courcy registers no sympathy whatsoever. She sees the couch as an advantage? a fortress? It's only when she can identify, see herself in the other that she can feel for her.

It is odd how many details we are given about the De Courcys here which Trollope puts to very good use in Dr Thorne and Small House. Lord De Courcy is a brute and his brutality becomes important in shaping Adolphus Crosbie's fate. Did Trollope imagine his characters so very thoroughly even from the beginning? Or is this just the tact of an artist over probabilities? It is probable such a woman would have a man who was hard to her for a husband. At least she wouldn't shy away from it. And then Trollope seized on this as well as possibilities suggested for the Honourable sons and daughters later.


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