Barchester Towers, Chapters 38 - 46
The Bishop Sits Down to Breakfast; Rather like a Farce, or Musical Chairs; The Lookalofts and the Greenacres; Social Stratification is the Truest Happiness; It was Philidor pitted against a school-boy; Ullathorne Sports, Act II; Eleanor Confides Her Sorrow to Charlotte; Eleanor Delivers a Blow; Ullathorne Sports -- Act III; The Last of Bertie; Our First Long Letter: From "The Epistolary Trollope"; Three More Letters; 3 Letters & An Article in the Jupiter; The Three Close-Up Acts; The Stanhopes at Home

This was Jill Spriggs's last week in leading us off:

Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume III, Chapter IV (OUP XXXVIII) The Bishop sits down to Breakfast

September 1, 1999


This chapter commenced with in intriguing juxtaposition between the sparkling social atmosphere of the Thorne fete, and the ebbing away of the life of Dr. Trefoil:

"The bishop of Barchester said grace over the well-spread board in the Ullathorne dining-room; and while he did so the last breath was flying from the dean of Barchester as he lay in his sick room in the deanery. When the bishop of Barchester raised his first glass of champagne to his lips, the deanship of Barchester was a good thing in the gift of the prime minister. Before the bishop of Barchester had left the table, the minister of the day was made aware of the fact at his country seat in Hampshire, and had already turned over in his mind five very respectable aspirants for the preferment." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 117)

The cadence of the preceding is lyrical, and to me suggests the endless rhythmical revolution of time, the inevitability of the cessation of life, and the fatuity of the inevitable conviction each of us have, that we are the sun around which our world revolves, when we are in reality only satellites under the gravitational pull of forces larger than us.

Word of the dean's death did not reach Ullathorne until the merrymaking had pretty much run its course, fortunately for the hard working Thornes. But there was one person who did not give a thought to the soon-to-be vacant deanship. Mr. Arabin, for all his fascination with Madeline Neroni, was tormenting himself with the vision of Mr. Slope handing Mrs. Bold out of the Stanhope carriage.

After spending his first night in his newly renovated parsonage, thoughts of the Widow Bold would intrude uninvited. Susan Grantly had been correct in her assertion that he would want a wife, a helpmeet for his new duties. Mr. Arabin had decided to make it up, if possible, with Eleanor at the Ullathorne fete, and any such reconciliation "must have had ended in a declaration of love." (p. 118)

The next day the distracted Arabin found it impossible to sympathize as he ought with Mrs. Clantantrum's mishap with the carriage and her shawl. The sight of Eleanor being handed out of the carriage caused him to leap to conclusions; " Had he seen her handed into a carriage by Mr. Slope at a church door with a white veil over her head, the truth could not be more manifest." (p. 119) The unhappy man restlessly paced until he was met by Dr. Grantly, who asked him if it were true that Eleanor had arrived at the party with Mr. Slope. Mr. Arabin was forced to acknowledge the accuracy of his observation. Dr. Grantly responded with a notable lack of charity;

" ' It is perfectly shameful,' said the archdeacon, ' or I should rather say, shameless. She was asked here as my guest; and if she be determined to disgrace herself, she should have feeling enough not to do so before my immediate friends. I wonder how that man got himself invited. I wonder whether she had the face to bring him.' " (pp. 119 - 120)

Dr. Grantly was not proving to be much of a comfort to Mr. Arabin. With the perversity of most of us, while he was willing enough to abuse Mrs. Bold in his inner thoughts, Francis did not like to hear anyone else abusing her. Since it was apparent that the archdeacon would not soon have his fill of invective, Mr. Arabin fled into the house, where he was distracted by the presence of the lovely Signora.

It must have been rather distasteful for the Signora Neroni to be aware of the fact that no less than two of her admirers were also carrying a torch for the Widow Bold. It was so easy for her to ensnare Mr. Bold and Mr. Thorne; Madeline saw in Mr. Arabin a prey more elusive than most. Mr. Arabin, in the depths of misery, was well willing to be diverted by the interesting invalid. Madeline, with her usual perceptiveness, immediately found his painful spot.

" ' Why, what ails you, Mr. Arabin? ... here you are in your own parish; Miss Thorne tells me that her party is given expressly in your honour; and yet you are the only dull man at it. Your friend Mr. Slope was with me a few minutes since, full of life and spirits; why don't you rival him?' " (p. 122)


Madeline went on to soliloquize on the differences between the two clergymen, predicting that someday Mr. Slope " ' ... will gain his rewards, which will be an insipid useful wife, a comfortable income, and a reputation for sanctimony.' " When asked to predict the future of himself, the signora promised

" ' ... the heart of some woman whom you will be too austere to own that you love, and the respect of some few friends that you will be too proud to own that you value. ... Oh, you are not to look for such success as awaits Mr. Slope. He is born to be a successful man. ... He will have no scruples, no fears, no hesitation. His desire is to be a bishop with a rising family, the wife will come first, and in due time the apron. You will see all this and then --- ... you will begin to wish that you had done the same.' " (pp. 122 - 123)

Unerringly, Madeline Neroni had "read the secrets of his heart, and re-uttered to him the unwelcome bodings of his own soul". She tried to inspirit him:

" ' Is not the blood in your veins as warm as his? does not your heart beat as fast? Has not God made you a man, and intended you to do a man's work here, ay, and to take a man's wages also? ... The greatest mistake any man ever made is to suppose that the good things of the world are not worth the winning. And it is a mistake so opposed to the religion which you preach! Why does God permit his bishops one after another to have their five thousands and ten thousands a year if such wealth be bad and not worth having? Why are beautiful things given to us, and luxuries and pleasant enjoyments, if they be not intended to be used? ... You try to despise these good things, but you only try; you don't succeed. " (pp. 124 - 125)

Madeline found Mr. Arabin to be just as captivating as he did her. He did not gush flattery as most men did, and the signora was pleased by this. To show her pleasure, she inserted the needle even deeper:

" ' Let us see. There is the widow Bold looking round at you from her chair this minute. What would you say to her as a companion for life? ... Come, Mr. Arabin, confide in me, and if it is so, I'll do all in my power to make up the match.' " (p. 125)

Bull's eye!

At that moment Eleanor was mutely suffering from her proximity to two of her would-be lovers. And seeing Mr. Arabin so deeply in conversation with Madeline Neroni only added to her discomfort. When he came into the dining room under orders from the signora to eat, Miss Thorne, dismayed to see him standing without food, asked Bertie to vacate his seat to give it to Mr. Arabin. Eleanor was about to leave, when Miss Thorne urged her back into her seat, promising that Bertie would stand at her back "like a true knight". (p. 128) She introduced Mr. Slope to Mr. Arabin, and Eleanor found herself surrounded on all sides by her prospective suitors. Mr. Slope watched the widow closely; when she left the table, he intended to pursue her and pop the question. Mr. Arabin ate without tasting, being lost in thought. Bertie, while intending to propose eventually, intended to procrastinate as long as possible, so he stood behind Eleanor's chair with equanimity. Feeling like a hunted animal, Eleanor fled, but was followed by the romantically inclined chaplain.

Madeline Neroni, alone with her thoughts, considered whether to really try to facilitate the match between Mr. Arabin and Eleanor Bold. She had been pleased when he acknowledged that she was both more beautiful and more clever than the Widow Bold, and magnanimously decided to make a gift of Mr. Arabin to her. Of course, her brother Bertie must have the first crack at her, but she suspected the widow would not be susceptible to his plea. Of course, there was still Mr. Slope as a competitor, but "with her it would be a labor of love to rob Mr. Slope of his wife." (p. 130)

It appeared that Eleanor Bold, like her father, was often felt to be a pawn without any say in her destiny.

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l

September 1, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, III:4 (38): Rather like a Farce or Musical Chairs

Reading Jill's post made me thing of Alan Ayckbourn's comedies where he will show 3 scenes which are all going on at the same time but have different actors in them, all of whom have come together to attend a party, dinner, or share a weekend. We will first see characters A,B, & C in the kitchen; then we move to the living where characters D,E, & F are acting out their comic trauma while discussing A,B, & C; then we go to the garden to meet G,H & A (A has by now gone into the garden) and round again after this back to the kitchen where things and people have changed. We watch Mr Slope from afar, and won't see this exact scene but another much like it in the next chapter so that we get something of the same effect of moving from place to place seeing the actors close up and then moving away and seeing others close up who watch the first set.

There's also something of the old Restoration-Farce bedroom comedy feel here. You can also come across this kind of thing in Fielding's Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones. It's not that people are popping in and out of bed with one another, but they are pressing in on one another, especially, as Eleannor feels it at any rate, on Eleanor herself. Jill is right: it seems that the flies who are attracted to Madeline's honey-pot are only momentarily allured. To switch metaphors, the woman they really want is this chaste gentry-level English woman with her modest fortune and good health. Trollope's Madeline takes it very good-naturedly I'd say. She is even at this point contemplating helping Arabin and Eleanor get together.

It's very realistic to have Arabin allured in spite of himself. Probably many people on this list might think of Madeline as the far less duller woman to spend long periods of time with. There is a parallel then between Slope and Arabin. The difference is Arabin is not a hypocrite. He does not pretend to anything he does not feel; he does not pose.

The opening paragraph is slightly elegiac while at the same time it accepts how in one place while all are celebrating in another, someone is dying, how the ultimate loss for one person (death) makes a small step on the ladder called success (a niche) available for another. There's a poem by W. H. Auden about a Renaissance painting in which in the sky we see the son of the Sun god dropping out of the sky as he fails to control his chariot, while in other parts of the picture other characters quietly and unconcernedly get on with their lives. Says Auden there's also a dog somewhere getting on with his doggie life. As Trollope presents it, it feels ironic: rather like musical chairs, a fitting analogy for the switching of the perspectives and parallels we have in the love stories.

There are many satisfying aesthetic patterns in this book. Ellen Moody

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 13:23:20 EDT
Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume III, Chapter V (OUP XXXIX) The Lookalofts and the Greenacres


In Barchester Towers, we have the Greenacres and the Lookalofts. Same amount of money, same rung on the social scale. But the Lookalofts had higher aspirations. The Lookaloft women and their ostentatious attire reminds me of some women who only wear or tote expensive designer labels. The clothes are supposed to shout, "Upper Crust!" but often only obtain, at the best, pitying smiles, and at the worst, sniggers of derision. It seems to me that Mrs. Lookaloft did not really care about moving in exalted social circles; she knew well enough that these would be closed to her. Dame Lookaloft only cared about giving the appearance of moving in exalted social circles. Her aspiration was to be regarded as superior socially by her compatriots, to "lord it over" them.

We have already seen that the pushing Lookalofts were treated with frosty civility when they transgressed the boundary of the ha-ha. Mrs. Lookaloft regarded a couple hours' discomfort as a small investment to make, with the prospect of great social dividends. Too bad Mr. Plomacy was not at hand when the Lookalofts intruded; one feels that he is the only person who could have been firm with them.

The idea of the Lookalofts' exalted social status was "wormwood to Mrs. Greenacre". The Greenacres were indeed what Miss Thorne regarded as the cream of British yeomanry. Instead of spending their money on clothes, the Greenacres believed in "putting money aside to stock farms for [their] sons." (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 132) Mrs. Greenacre regarded the inclusion of the Lookalofts in the inner circle, as an affront to her and hers. She had often made fun of their pretensions in the past, sometimes even to their faces. The fact that the Thornes had apparently put their seal of approval on these aspirations, was galling.

Mrs. Greenacre did receive some comfort from Betsy Rusk, a waiting maid who had seen the treatment received by the Lookalofts during their incursion. The catty spirit of the exchange that followed reminded me very much of the exchange between Mrs. Proudie and Lady De Courcy two chapters ago. Ladies' conversation seems to be much the same, no matter the social class.

" ' There they all swelled into madam's drawing-room, like so many turkey cocks, as much to say, "and who dare say no to us?" and Gregory was thinking of telling of 'em to come down here, only his heart failed him 'cause of the grand way they was dressed. So in they went; but madam looked at them glum as death.'

' Well now,' said Mrs. Greenacre, greatly relieved, ' so they wasn't axed different from us at all then?'

' Betsy says that Gregory says that madam wasn't a bit too well pleased to see them where they was, and that, to his believing, they was expected to come here just like the rest of us.'

There was great consolation in this. Not that Mrs. Greenacre was altogether satisfied. She felt that justice to herself demanded that Mrs. Lookaloft should not only be encouraged, but that she should also be absolutely punished." (p. 134)

One suspects that Mrs. Greenacre would see setting the dogs on the invaders, as an appropriate punishment.

While Mrs. Greenacre may have been somewhat mollified by hearing of the frigid reception the Lookalofts received, it was a cold comfort. "Let the Lookalofts be treated at the present moment with ever so cold a shoulder, they would still be enabled to boast hereafter of their position, their aspirations, and their honor" (p. 135) But Dame Greenacre then complained to the wrong person, her husband.

I like Farmer Greenacre. He seems so pleasant, so contented. Remember, it was he that intervened on behalf of the plasterer Bob Stubbs who had obtained illegal admission into the Elysium of Ullathorne Park. When informed that the Lookalofts had pushed their way into the drawing room, he easily responded, " ' Well, and what for shouldn't they?' " Mrs. Guffern pointed out that they were not of a social class suitable for such hallowed company. Mr. Greenacre was not to be dismayed:

" ' Well, if they likes it and madam likes it, they's welcome for me. ... Now, I likes this place better, cause I be more at home like, and don't have to pay for them fine clothes for the missus. Every one to his taste, Mrs. Guffern, and if neighbor Lookaloft thinks that he has the best of it, he's welcome.' "

Mrs. Greenacre, somewhat reconciled by her husband's sensible speech, began to eat the good food before her, but her husband was not yet finished.

" ' And I'll tell 'ee what, dames, ... if so be that we cannot enjoy the dinner that madam gives us because Mother Lookaloft is sitting up there on a grand sofa, I think we all ought to go home. If we greet at that, what'll we do when true sorrow comes across us? How would you be now, dame, if the boy there had broke his neck when he got the tumble?' " (p. 135)

Mrs. Greenacre was utterly vanquished and had nothing more to say.

The idea of the distastefulness of someone from the lower classes trying to ape their betters was something I could not relate to, until I looked at it with a slightly different perspective. I live in a small town about an hour's drive southeast of Cleveland, Ohio, and even here one sees strongly delineated social stratifications. The level you occupy has less to do with the amount of money you have, than how long you have lived here, and the part your family has played in city affairs. Two friends of mine who would definitely be put on the middle middle class rung of an economic scale, are what I would call Massillon aristocracy. Both Joel and Sarita are natives, graduates of the city high school. They own a small business (very small) and have long been very active in city politics. Joel is a former school board member, and there is no aspect of the city that he is not privy to. As an example, a few years ago I had a small house fire when a candle left unattended in my daughter's room set her CD player on fire. Leaving my husband to cope with the fire fighters, I took the kids to a friend's house, to see that half of the neighborhood was there waiting for me. Hearing the sirens, Joel had called the fire chief, found out where the fire was, and knowing that I would go to this friend's for sympathy and a stiff scotch, went with Sarita there to meet me. Seeing them walk down the street, neighbors asked Joel where the fire was. He told them, and increasing numbers of neighbors joined them, until I was met by the crowd mentioned before.

Every now and then, new people would come into town. I am technically considered to be "new"; I have only been here 21 years, but my friendship with people like Joel and Sarita have given me the Massillon stamp of approval. Anyway, some of these newcomers would assume that because they have money, they are entitled to lord it over those who have less money, but are quite possessive of their perquisites. The newbies would assume that they have the right to be listened to with deference by the mayor, and their behests attended to without delay; as an example, that they have the right to demand that the school busses pick up their children at a time convenient for them. To say that these pretensions are frowned upon, and that these interlopers are given the frosty cold shoulder, is putting it mildly.

Back to Ullathorne ...

Mr. Plomacy had had no time for relaxation. Endlessly vigilant, he scolded screaming children, and shooed the boys and girls together who were tending to cluster together in sexually segregated clumps. It was only his friendship with Mr. Greenacre that caused him to relent from his intention of ousting the plasterer.

The tent on the grounds was becoming merrier, aided by the social lubrication supplied by the champagne. Toasting right and left, with sometimes a notable lack of sense in the accolades. Toasting was also going on in the drawing room, but with more decorum.

"And so the banquets passed off at the various tables with great eclat and universal delight." (p. 139)

But the party was far from over ...

Jill Spriggs

Re: BT, II:5 (39): Social Stratification is the Truest Happiness?

In response to Jill's post, I'd say social stratification seems to be built into human communities, and certainly it's visible at Ullathorne, with its four different places for feasting. There's the indoor dining room and tent for the uppers, and the paddock and park for the lowers. I imagine in many communities far more than your income serves to place you: how long you've been there is probably an important measurement; that is connected to who your grandparents were (knowing which is always important in Trollope's books). There's your education or tastes, your demeanour and manners; that connects to money as well as genes and family history. In many human communities it is also simply true that religion, race, and ethnic background form part of the mix that leads people to judge one another. Whether people are married or not can become a marker.

It's interesting though that the most generous act among the guests, and the man who voices the richest large sentiment is Farmer Greenacres. I have a feeling Trollope has done this deliberately. Farmer Greenacres is in fact the hero of this chapter, and we are told through the description of Mr Plomacy's happiest hours that Farmer Greenacres is a lucky, happy man:

'[Mr Plomacy's] moments of truest happiness were spent in a huge armchair in the warmest corner of Mrs Greenacre's beautifully clean front kitchen. 'Twas there that the inner man dissolved itself, and poured out in streams of pleasant chat; 'twas there that he was respected and yet at his ease; 'twas there, and perhaps there only, that he could unburden himself from those ceremonies of life witout offending the dignity of those above him, or incurring the familiarity of those below' (Penguin _BT_, ed RGilmour, p. 378).

The paragraph is so lovely in tone because it testifies warmly to the idea that what counts is the inner soul expanding out to others. There are some lines from Pope which express the above sentiment beautifully: 'the feast of reason, and the flow of soul' begins the passage.

It does seem as if the drink and the food are helping to provide the geniality too. What must the movie have made of these scenes?

Ellen Moody

From Michael Powe:

September 4, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers: It was Philidor pitted against a school-boy

Here's one that probably only a chess player would notice.

"What chance has dead knowledge with experience in any of the transactions between man and man? What possible chance between man and woman? Mr. Slope loved furiously, insanely, and truly; but he had never played the game of love. The signora did not love at all, but she was up to every move of the board. It was Philidor pitted against a school-boy."

Philidor was a late 18th C French chessplayer, principally known to chessplayers for his famous aphorism, "pawns are the soul of chess."

I find it interesting that Trollope actually would know Philidor. I suppose there would be some chess news in 1857 ... the Romantic era of international chess matches amongst aristocratic devotees of the game was just coming in.

Subject: [trollope-l] Barchester Towers: It was Philidor pitted against a schoolboy

From: Ellen Moody

In response to Michael,

Time and again I come across references in Trollope which have ended up by persuading me the man was enormously well-read, and acutely observant about all that went on about him. Here we have to remember that through his mother he met all sorts of people when he was young. He had a sort of 'flypaper' mind which caught up knowledge (on the fly). At the same time he studies away. I am also often half-surprised at how he seems to know how things work politically in many very apparently different situations -- out of his own observations of the way people interact. He could extrapolate accurately. His travel books are mines of information and intelligent observation -- often very truthful when the truth is also unpleasant or unpalatable.

He had his failures of the imagination too -- or in his books one finds gaps. He doesn't present people below a certain class: he doesn't want to see their case, their side of things. It's a threat to his way of life. He erects barriers against showing us sexual experience beyond a certain point: he seems intent on presenting a narrow view of women's sexual experience as if it were the whole of it. I sometimes wonder if these gaps are unconscious and self-defensive self-censorship or the result of writing for money which meant he had to please and to appeal to his readership (a relatively narrow swathe of people in some ways), and to produce texts his publishers would believe would be profitable.

Ellen Moody

From Jill Spriggs

Re: BT, Volume III, Chapter VI (OUP XL) Ullathorne Sports -- Act II

Mr. Slope would have done well to remember just who uttered the phrase he uttered in an effort to encourage himself, " ' That which has made them drunk, has made me bold.' " (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 140) He could scarcely wish to suffer her fate.

Reading about Mr. Slope's giving himself liquid encouragement, made me think of how such measures almost inevitably had disastrous results in novels I have read. Can anyone who has read P.G. Wodehouse forget Gussy Finknottle's ordeal when he was roped into presenting prizes at the Market Snodsbury Grammar school, and attempted to give himself courage with copious draughts of gin and orange juice? While Gussie narrowly escaped unscathed from the wrath of the offended mothers, Mr. Slope did not get off so easily.

Eleanor did not long think she had escaped from the discomfort she experienced in the Thornes' dining room. While most of the grounds of Ullathorne were unoccupied, the partiers busily chowing down, Eleanor felt that there was one inhabitant too many, when she realized that she had been pursued by the bishop's chaplain. She turned and prepared to face her tormentor.

Mr. Slope had noticed that Eleanor had treated him that day, with something less than her usual civility, but he attributed this to the wrong cause. "He saw that she was angry with him. Might she not be so because he had so long tampered with her feelings, -- might it not arise from his having, as he knew was the case, caused her name to be bruited about in conjunction with his own, without having given her the opportunity of confessing to the world that henceforth their names were to be one and the same? Poor lady!" (p. 141)

Mr. Slope was about to have his erroneous suppositions corrected.

Eleanor braced herself for what promised to be a long flowery speech. She would hear him out, before she set him straight. However, Eleanor's frigid aspect began to annoy Mr. Slope. "She clearly had no idea that an honour was being conferred on her." (p. 143) He soldiered on, sure of his verbal prowess, until he unwisely attempted to put his arm around her waist and give her a kiss. Eleanor unthinkingly " ... sprang from him as she would have jumped from an adder, but she did not spring far; not indeed, beyond arm's length; and then, quick as thought, she raised her little hand and dealt him such a box on the ear with such right good will, that it sounded among the trees like a miniature thunder-clap." (p. 144)

That reaction, at any rate, was conclusive. There was no way Mr. Slope could put a positive slant on Eleanor's reaction. Eleanor ran away, and Mr. Slope furiously nursed his anger. He much wished he had her in a pew, and he was in the pulpit, "fulminat[ing] such denunciations as his spirit delighted in". (p. 147) His spleen then directed itself at

" ... such a vanity fair as this now going on at Ullathorne ... he began to feel a righteous disgust at the wickedness of the doings around him. He had been justly chastised for lending, by his presence, a sanction to such worldly lures. The gaiety of society, the mirth of banquets, the laughter of the young, and the eating and drinking of the elders were ... without excuse in his sight. He had consorted with idolaters around the altars of Baal; and therefore a sore punishment had come upon him." (p. 147)

Lord help us all! Mr. Slope as a Puritan!

His ascetic bent did not last long. Soon the chaplain came upon his bishop deep in conversation with the Master of Lazarus.

" ' This is very pleasant -- very pleasant, my lord, is it not?' said Mr. Slope with his most gracious smile, and pointing to the tent; ' very pleasant. It is delightful to see so many persons enjoying themselves so thoroughly.' " (pp. 147 - 148)

Seeing that his bishop had no intentions of introducing him to Dr. Gwynne, Mr. Slope took matters into his own hands and directly asked Dr. Proudie to introduce him. Mr. Slope's victory was somewhat alloyed by the nature of Dr. Proudie's introduction; " ' My chaplain, Dr. Gwynne, ... my present chaplain, Mr. Slope.' " (p. 148) The chaplain was not much hurt by the slur, however; he fully intended to be free of the bishop and his wife, and ensconced in a much more comfortable position soon.

The three were interrupted by a servant coming with the news that the dean had died. Mr. Slope began to walk home, buoyed in spite of his late embarrassment, with the knowledge of the dean's death, and by the letter in his pocket.

Eleanor had fled toward the house, but was forced to pause when she gave way to a shower of tears.

Jill Spriggs

Re: BT, Volume III, Chapter VII (OUP XLI) Eleanor Confides Her Sorrow To Charlotte

The Widow Bold was having quite a day! Fighting off the men left and right! A problem I have never had, but then, I have never had the modern equivalent to a thousand pounds a year to recommend me, in addition to my good looks and charm. ;-)

As Mrs. Bold stood hesitating on the walk, Charlotte Stanhope came into sight and the widow regarded her friend's arrival as a parched person in the desert might react to being handed a pitcher of ice water. Struggling with tears, still overwrought from her recent encounter, the only impression Charlotte could gain at first was something about "a horrid man". (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 150) Eleanor managed to communicate the fact the Mr. Slope was the cause of her disquiet. I did laugh out loud when I read Charlotte's response to Eleanor's threat to tell the bishop about Mr. Slope's sin; " ' Believe me, if you want to do him an injury, you had far better tell Mrs. Proudie.' " Charlotte was sounding a bit like Mr. Harding when she acknowledged, when speaking of Mr. Slope, " ' Well, I must confess he's not very nice.' " And even the worldly Charlotte must have been surprised when the mild Eleanor spurted, " ' He is the most fulsome, fawning, abominable man I ever saw. What business had he to come to me? ... I that always hated him, though I did take his part when others ran him down.' " (p. 151) It was not very pleasant to the indignant woman, to be told by her friend that was precisely why everyone, especially the bishop's chaplain, thought she was carrying a torch for him. To have to acknowledge that arrogant bossy Dr. Grantly was right! Ugh!

Eleanor was also mortified by Charlotte's reaction to hearing about the slap she gave Mr. Slope; hearty laughter. Her friend poorly understood the widow, who she thought "indeed was entitled to some sort of triumph among her friends." (p. 152) Charlotte, wishing not to lose any opportunity to further her brother's cause, asked if there was anything Bertie could do to prevent any further indignity. Eleanor, horrified, asked that no one be told of her shameful loss of control. Reluctantly, Charlotte agreed, but did come up with a brainstorm that would insure that both Eleanor would avoid having to return to Barchester in the same carriage with Mr. Slope, and would give her brother an opportunity to assist the widow. The carriage would leave first with the Signora Neroni with only Charlotte and the servants, and the second trip would carry Eleanor, Bertie, and Dr. Stanhope, Mr. Slope having been warned off by Bertie.

Charlotte recognized that it might not be wise to subject the widow to a second marriage proposal on the same day, but it was apparent that she was such a hot commodity that no time was to be lost.

Eleanor, while grateful for her friend's intervention, felt there was something not quite right about it. She felt she should go to her father, who no doubt could find her a place in Mrs. Clantantrum's carriage. But Eleanor did not wish to offend her well meaning friend.

Searching for Bertie, the two entered the drawing room to find Mr. Arabin alone with the signora. Madeline had been diverting herself with the hapless Arabin. She first almost got him to confess his love for Mrs. Bold, and then proceeded to tease him into owning "a passion for herself." (p. 155) Mr. Arabin was so dazzled he hardly knew which end was up. But unlike Mr. Slope, he "had no more thoughts of kissing Madame Neroni, than of kissing the Countess De Courcy." (p. 156) The sight of Mrs. Bold threw some cold water on his enthrallment, but Eleanor was still too discomposed to note any in Mr. Arabin.

Charlotte was immediately in conference with her sister, explaining the need to a change in their arrangements, while Mr. Arabin attempted to converse with the widow. Again I had to smile at their exchange.

" ' We have had a pleasant party,' said he, using the tone he would have used had he declared that the sun was shining very brightly, or the rain falling very fast.

' Very,' said Eleanor, who never in her life had passed a more unpleasant day.

' I hope Mr. Harding enjoyed himself.'

' Oh, yes, very much,' said Eleanor, who had not seen her father since she parted from him soon after her arrival." (p. 157)

There was an awkward pause between the unknowing lovers, while Charlotte continued to try to explain to her sister the necessity for a change in arrangements. "And yet these two people were thoroughly in love with each other ... " (p. 157) Since we are approaching the end of the book, we can safely surmise that soon all will work out.

Jill Spriggs


I must admit I was stunned when Eleanor delivered the blow. I think Eleanor herself was probably surprised at herself. But truly, AT had so managed Eleanor's unease that such a dramatic exclamation point to it was needed. Ah, now, I thought, Slope will reveal his true colors to all. Well, he comes near to it in pushing himself on Dr Gwynne.

But back to Eleanor. Charlotte laughs. One can imagine a very different reception to the news of the slap had it been Mary Bold our Eleanor had first confided in.

Such a painful dance!!!

best wishes,

From Joan Wall on the same day, a few minutes later:

That's funny, I was absolutely delighted! I know I'm thinking as a modern woman but who deserved it more than He who would not stop? I do agree that Charlotte's laugh was awful but Mary Bold must really grow up some time and get to know the characters in this book as well as Trollope writes them out. Joan

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


Reading Trollope's assertion that morning (really meaning afternoon) parties are always failures, I searched in my memory to determine the truth of this premise. I cannot agree. I have attended, and given, parties that qualify, and I fail to remember one that I regret. Family reunions meet this time constraint, as do brunches, and my children's graduation and first communion parties. Admittedly, three of these were family parties, and such are by definition more relaxed. I have evaded the problem of holiday parties with brunches; these are (to me) much less scary and intimidating than more formal entertaining. Besides, my house would not accommodate the numbers which can be, by dining more informally. Also, less imbibing of alcoholic beverages is usually found in the earlier parties, decreasing the chances of being compelled to wrestle car keys from intoxicated guests (as I had to, once).

So I think that the different ways we function socially, at the end of the twentieth century instead of the middle of the nineteenth, renders Trollope's proclamation invalid. Does anyone have a differing opinion?

Just as the party did not really begin until the Countess De Courcy and her family arrived, when they left, signaled the time for departure. Mrs. Proudie could no longer see any purpose for her prolonging her presence, and sent her daughter's clerical suitors to summon her now submissive husband. The Grantly group, including Dr. Gwynne and Mr. Harding, prepared to depart, but not before Mr. Harding whispered a reassurance to his daughter that he would set the Grantlys straight. Eleanor hastened to veto that idea, telling him that all would out within a few days, and she had more to tell him when he returned home. Mr. Harding was puzzled, but resolved to remain silent without question, to atone for his misjudgment of his daughter.

Charlotte and Eleanor then went in search of Bertie, who they found at his ease in the ha-ha, teaching a youth how to smoke a cigar. Bertie obeyed his sister's summons, knowing the time had arrived for his declaration, but not without feeling like a fox with his tail snagged by the teeth of a hound. The story of Mr. Slope's misbehavior was shared, and Bertie's assistance solicited, for sheltering the widow from the chaplain's unwanted attentions. With a lack of wisdom, Bertie assured the two, Eleanor was in no danger because Mr. Slope had been seen walking towards town. Charlotte bustled off before Eleanor could point out that it would not now be necessary for Bertie to forsake Madeline. When she mentioned this to Bertie, he easily responded,

" ' Oh, let Charlotte have her own way. ... She has arranged it, and there will be no end of confusion, if we make another change. Charlotte always arranges everything in our house, and rules us like a despot.' " ( OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 162)

Bertie then told Eleanor that Madeline would soon have to learn how to get along without him anyway, for he would be returning to Italy.

Bertie had decided not to comply with his family's behest to marry the widow, " ... in order that he might live on her instead of his father." The prospect loomed of settling

" ... down quietly at Barchester, keeping economical house ... His duty would be to rock the cradle of the late Mr. Bold's child, and his highest excitement a demure party at Plumstead rectory, should it ultimately turn out that the archdeacon would be sufficiently reconciled to receive him." (p. 163)

A prospect too grim to be contemplated!

But how to avoid marrying the widow without incurring the displeasure of Charlotte? Bertie must enlist the assistance of Eleanor in a little conspiracy. But this would be easier said than done. Eleanor's pride was more than a little hurt by the revelation that the Stanhopes had not been so pleasant without ulterior motives. It was even more difficult for Bertie to explain, and enlist Eleanor's compliance, with his plan for the deception of his sister.

Eleanor had had much provocation that day, and again relieved herself with a flood of tears. When Bertie thoughtfully offered to walk home, so she would not be subjected to a painful carriage ride with her supposedly rejected suitor, Eleanor was somewhat mollified. But her cooperation was not easily given; the idea of having been so openly discussed as a monetary commodity so easily secured, was galling. But the open sincerity of Bertie Stanhope reconciled her to him, and to his plan. He summoned the carriage, saw his father and Eleanor into it, and cheerfully took his pedestrian way home. Dr. Stanhope was less cheerful. It was apparent that something had gone very wrong, and the Widow Bold had not been kind enough to take his son off his hands.

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l

September 7, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, III:8 (42): The Last of Bertie

I suspect when Trollope inveighs against morning parties, he is thinking of lost working time. That's what he probably means when he says a morning party makes one 'give up the day which is useful'. He talks of the evening as 'useless' and uses the French word 'désoeuvré' (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p. 397). The literal meaning is idle; but one makes out the word for 'work' in the second half: he has been robbed of working time.

I can identify this way: I much prefer to teach in the later afternoon or evening. Once I have gone out for any extended period and spent my energy, I come home all at 'sixes and sevenes' and can't do serious work. I am ruined for the day. Most of the time if I work all day I am too tired ot work in the evening anyway, so I might as well go out in social way or to enjoy myself or to make money. Trollope seems to have been an early-day working person; it's not true that he just worked from 5 until 10, for he also wrote and read on trains, boats, and describes himself writing in the afternoons at home. One time he didn't work was evenings. So he can spare them.

I found the last picture of Bertie touching. He is the most profound subversive of the book. As Madeline is now a cripple, she must submit at least to her sister's conventional lifestyle. Not Bertie. He won't marry just for money. And he is frank about his sister's motives too. We are given enough by this time to feel that Eleanor was in no danger from him (she's in love with Arabin), but if she were, he is not going to take advantage. She was attracted towards the end of Volume I. Again I found her responses to Bertie's honesty filled with a complacency about herself. Trollope is careful to put it that Eleanor takes Bertie's truthfulness about how his sister, Charlotte, wanted him to marry Eleanor for money and he didn't this way:

'Mrs Bold .. was now really angry with the unnecessary insult which she thought had been offered her ...' (p. 407).

Trollope distances himself from this perception of Bertie's comment. When Bertie goes on to suggest he did have friendly feelings at one time, which could have turned romantic, she explodes. She's as bad as Ayala Dormer. What perfect love was she expecting? Trollope hints that her income helps Arabin's attraction to her along; he says Arabin begins to think how he wishes he had a larger income. Mrs Bold can only think how much she is above this man. She is right to say Charlotte will be angry anyway, but then Bertie knew that. What he knows Charlotte cannot do is undo his words: now he has admitted the truth, there can be no more pressure from Charlotte.

At the close of the scene Eleanor has become mollified by Bertie's tact. He now manipulates the drive so that she shall be let off first. And we get this picture:

'Eleanor, looking out of the window, saw him with his hat in his hand, bowing to her with his usual gay smile, as though nothing had happened to mar the tranquillity of the day. It was many a long year before she saw him again ... (p. 410).

Dr Johnson says we always hate to say goodbye to anyone forever as it becomes redolent of death. Here there's a curious nostalgia. I also find the wording interesting because Trollope leaves himself room to bring Bertie back after all. 'Many a long year' might have been 3 books from now ...


To Trollope-l

September 8, 2001

Re: Barchester Towers, II:8-10 (43-45): Our First Long Letter: From "The Epistolary Trollope"

Since I am embarked on a study of letters in Trollope, this posting has -- as it were naturally or as I wrote it -- become a description of characteristically Trollopian uses of letters in Slope's first letter to Eleanor. Thus this posting backtracks to an earlier part of the book.

Although Trollope does present letters which are mirrors of his character's innermost feelings and thoughts, ways for him to get beyond the narrator's conscious control, and which are to be read as documents which show little distance between the written word and the felt pressure of passion or thought; it is far more typical of him to use letters to expose people, as satirical devices. Trollope distrusts letters and sees them as most often occasions for rhetoric, as conscious performances for the eyes of the particular reader; they are incriminating evidence; they are weapons in many sorts of games. We enjoy letters like Slope's because we see the distance between what is professed and what we have learned about Slope through what the narrator tells us, and what we have seen Slope thinking (thanks to our kind novelist) and doing and saying elsewhere. They make us laugh -- though not always merrily.

Trollope also even here has a way of rearranging or telescoping time and making suspense by telling us about a letter well before he presents it to us. In this novel, we wait on tenterhooks to see what happened when the letter came. In later novels, he will rearrange the placement of letters (just like an epistolary novelist) and so rearrange time to suit himself and various effects he wants to achieve (suspense, irony, emotional buildups, character display over a period of time in which we retreat back to what happened earlier and then suddenly' jump ahead). Then he -- and Austen does this too -- shows us the character reading the letter. The characters' different ways of reading and responding to letters becomes as important as the letters themselves. This provides a good deal of psychological and moral and social commentary for him. In this novel we get first Eleanor's response, and then her father's, and then they discuss the letter (a third response in effect). To top that off we have the interview between Grantly and Eleanor, another semi-bullying session on Grantly's part where Grantly is off-base not so much because we disagree with the values he asserts but because he has inferred the letter is something which it isn't. There is also the interesting comment on Mr Harding's part that no one has the right to stop Eleanor from reading whatever letter she wants, nor does he see himself as having the right to forbid or punish her for marrying Mr Slope. Other characters in this novel also guess at this letter they have not seen from what others say (Arabin), and so reveal themselves to us not just by how far they are right or wrong and why they are right or wrong, but by their response to their judgement. Trollope is not for personal tyranny; he objects to a use of authority which is not based on genuine humanity and understanding of the individuals involved.

You can (if you are so disposed) also almost pick up whole subplots by moving from letter to letter if there are enough of them by one character or one group of characters in a novel. I don't think this is quite true of _Barchester Towers_, but what is true is some of the notes provide impetus for crises (Slope's invitation to Mr Harding to come see him that morning, this one to Eleanor), and climaxes (I won't tell ahead but we'll get there).

There is also the icing on the cake. Some letters are just there for virtuouso performances. Come admire me says Mr Trollope. Could you do it? I have discovered Trollope is not the only 19th century novelist to have these extraordinarily convincing idiolects in texts that really are very like letters (e.g., Thackeray, Gaskell), but he is unusual in the many uses he makes of the letters and how convincing they are. There is always a strong element of rough caricature in Thackeray, and Gaskell can't seem to enter into as many kinds of people so intimately. This is not the Slope letter before us: I am talking here of letters as mirrors of our souls (there are some wonderful ones of this type in The Bertrams and The Claverings).

Trollope does talk about the art of letter writing in novels and epistolary novels as such in a couple of places. He wrote a couple of commentaries on Clarissa and I think the most interesting statement he makes in these which throws light on why there were so few epistolary novels in the 19th century and Trollope never wrote one is his statement that readers have to be very clever and patient to understand and enjoy an epistolary novel. In a letter to a friend, he writes in a way which shows he was aware of the distance between his own understanding of a text and his readers. On Clarissa he talks of how readers want action, and get restless at the slow pace of such novels, and won't take the time to see what the novelist is getting at in subtle ways. You need a narrator at the ear of the reader to help the reader interpret the document.

In Redgauntlet (a rare half-epistolary novel of the period), Scott adds to this his comment that novelists want to show us the Big Picture, the large world, society in its vastness and epistolary novels necessarily narrow down the perspective. My view is such novels are more passionate, but seem less sane because of the narrow subjective perspectives given by letters: thus it is interesting that first-person narratives which have some of the qualities of epistolary novels are often written by highly romantic or gothic novelists (e.g., the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, M.E. Braddon).

Now Trollope is not giving us this option in Slope's letter: Slope's letter is a satiric device: we are to see through it as an object inside a big picture, an attempt at manipulation. There is a tiny parallel in Slope and Madeline's love scene: is she not writing a letter to him? And there is much play over the writing-desk. Letters are traditionally associated with erotic novels (from Clarissa and La Nouvelle Heloise on); they were ways young adults could try to thwart or rebel against their families as well as objects ambitious families could use to sue other families (for breach of contract). It's not passion but a multifaceted satire on passion that we have here. There's passion to come -- but not between Slope and Eleanor nor really between Madeline and Slope, at least not on her part.

Finally I will remark that this is not the first time Trollope makes a complicated use of letters. We find them in The Kellys and O'Kellys, another multiplot novel which pictures a milieu and uses the love story as a central motif.

I promise I have not anticipated my lecture here, just thrown out a few thoughts which are relevant to see the Slope letter in the context of Trollope's art, that of his contemporaries and predecessors, and in the context of this novel.

Ellen Reply-to:
Subject: [trollope-l] BT, Volume III, Chapter IX (OUP XLIII) Three More Letters

September 9, 1999


Ellen's preparations for her talk on The Epistolary Trollope, and tantalizing hints about said lecture, has increased my awareness of the pivotal part letters play in Trollope's novels. An example is found in today's chapter, which began with the information that Dr. and Mrs. Proudie had each sent a letter to the Reverend and Mrs. Quiverful, which would insure that the fertile couple would have a happier day than Mrs. Bold had. Of course, the wardenship was not offered in so many words; the two were simply requested to call upon their respective patrons (or patroness) the next day.

Mrs. Proudie had determined to allow no grass to grow under her feet. There would be no further opportunity for Mr. Slope to incite her husband to rebellion, and both husband and wife could enjoy the fete in the comfort of perfect understanding. Dr. Proudie submissively signed the appointment, and basked for the remainder of the day " ... in the great comfort [there is] to be derived from a wife well obeyed!" (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 174)

Another very compatible couple, Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful had the interesting, and unspoken, policy of each opening the others' letters. When the important letters arrived, the hopeful couple read and exchanged them. Mr. Quiverful promised not to allow himself to be "talked over" again, and the two indulged in an affectionate embrace. Their importunate creditors would at last be paid, and peace and plenty would rule at the new parsonage, which had already had its windows measured at the imperative command of the bishopess.

Soon after the Quiverfuls had joyfully departed, another visitor was announced. Dr. Gwynne was given a cordial welcome. It was well that he had come alone; it was only with great difficulty that he persuaded the bellicose Dr. Grantly to allow him to come on this mission solo. In spite of the warning he had received about the intrusiveness of Mrs. Proudie, even Dr. Gwynne was startled at the matter-of-fact way that she took control of the meeting. When Mrs. Proudie graciously offered to inspect the Sunday (er, Sabbath-day) school Mrs. Grantly ran, Dr. Gwynne diplomatically told her he was sure the archdeacon's wife would be happy to see her at any time, that is, " ... if Mrs. Grantly should happen to be at home." (p. 180) Mrs. Proudie rightly took this to be a snub, and her warmth quickly dissipated, even to the point of directing her menacing forefinger at the good doctor. Dr. Gwynne realized that he must quickly get to the point of his visit, and tried to hint that he would appreciate seeing the bishop alone. Mrs. Proudie of course refused to take the hint, and guessing what the real purpose of the visit was, told Dr. Gwynne of the appointment of the Reverend Mr. Quiverful to the wardenship of Hiram's Hospital that very morning. Seeing no purpose to prolonging the call, Dr. Gwynne took his leave, figuratively shaking the dust from his feet as he left.

The letter which Mr. Slope had received just before his journey to the Stanhopes' and thence to Ullathorne, was as gratifying as it was short. Tom Towers of the Jupiter told his friend that he would do what he could, to promote the chaplain's appointment to the deanship. The presence of the letter in his pocket was Mr. Slope's only consolation to the indignity of the stinging slap from the enraged widow. Even better was to follow; the following morning the metropolis of London read breathlessly the word from on high (the editorial office, of course). Mr. Slope was to be the man. Who could presume to stand against such an august verdict? What did it matter that Mrs. Proudie's candidate for the wardenship of Hiram's Hospital had been appointed? He was glad that " ... the father of that virago who had so audaciously outraged all decency in his person ..." (p. 186) had been overlooked.

The happiness of the Jupiter's laudatory article was somewhat allayed when he recalled the exasperating Madeline Stanhope. An unreciprocated passion was most frustrating.

Jill Spriggs

To Trollope-l

September 9, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, III:9 (43): 3 Letters & An Article in the Jupiter

I here look at the Rev. and Mrs Quiverful's inattention to the style of the the offer of the Wardenship to Mr Quiverful by means of two letters, one from the Bishop to the husband, and one from Mrs Proudie to the wife, to whose actual words our narrator exhibits such profound indifference as not to bother give us the letters but rather the Quiverfuls' shared response:

'She had taken the letters from the man's hands between the folds of her capacious apron, so as to save them from the contamination of the stew, and in this guise she brought them to her husband's desk.

They at once divided the spoil, each taking that addressed ot the other. "Quiverful", said she with impressive voice, "you are to be at the palace at eleven tomorrow".

"And so are you, my dear", said he, almost gaspoing with the importance of the tiding: and then they exchanged letters ...'

The couple then reassure one another they have the place not on the basis of what they have read; rather the man remarks that this is the second offer and the woman that Mrs Proudie has invited Mrs Quiverful to come to the palace a second time, upon which they throw themselves warmly into each other's arms 'unmindful fo the kitch apron, the greasy fingers, and the adherent Irish stew' (43).]

I also add a few comments to Jill's on this chapter by remarking on the different uses and approaches to the three letters we find in this chapter and elsewhere in the novel.

As people who write about such things say again and again, one of the significant differences between memoir-, diary- and other first person narratives and epistolary narratives is the weight of the reader. A letter is always written to someone, even when it's not sent. In an intelligent or interesting use of letters, we the letter's other or external reader are made as much aware of the letter's internal reader as its internal writer (as opposed to Trollope, its external writer). So earlier in the book when Slope wrote his letter to Elinor, as much mileage was gotten out of all the readers, their commentaries, disagreements and responses to the letter as to the letter itself (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, pp. 239-40, 253-75).

In this chapter we have three letters whose style doesn't matter in the least: what matters is the real content, the firm offer of a position or real offer to help insofar as this is within the letter-writer's power. In the case of the first two Trollope doesn't even bother give us the letters because he wants us to concentrate on Quiverfuls' shared response to them, one we are to sympathise with very much:

'She had taken the letters from the man's hands between the folds of her capacious apron, so as to save them from the contamination of the stew, and in this guise she brought them to her husband's desk.

They at once divided the spoil, each taking that addressed ot the other. "Quiverful", said she with impressive voice, "you are to be at the palace at eleven tomorrow".

"And so are you, my dear", said he, almost gaspoing with the importance of the tiding: and then they exchanged letters ...'

Soon they are reassuring one another the offers in the letters are real. They wouldn't have been 'sent for' (shades of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern here), if the offers were not firm. At least not again. As they contemplate this inference, they cannot resist an embrace:

"Oh Letty!" said Mr Quiverful, rising from his well- worn seat.

"Oh Q.!" said Mrs Quiverful: and then the two, unmindful of the kitchen apron, the greasy fingers, and the adherent Irish stew, threw themselves warmly into each other's arms.

"For heaven's sake don't let anyone cajole you out of it again", said the wife.

"Let me alone for that", said the husband, with a look of almost fierce determination ... (pp. 411-12).

There's warm good feeling here. Here is an utterly unglamorous couple to whom neither time nor chance have been overly kind who judge each other by their inner life together. We see here it has been one to foster and deepen affection. We can identify: I suppose most of us have waited for a letter of acceptance? and gotten it. And I hope been congratulated by someone or other? and maybe even vowed not to let go this time.

We are given Tom Towers's letter to Mr Slope:


wish you every success. I don't know that I can
help you, but if I can, I will.

Yours ever,


Lest we dismiss this because it's short, our narrator tells us:

"There was more in this than in all Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin's flummery; more than in all the bishop's promises, even had they been ever so sincere; more than in any archbishop's good word, even had it been possible to obtain it. Tom Towers would do what he could" (pp. 418-19).

We are meant here to refer back to Slope's original two letters to Fitzwhiggin and Towers (pp. 303-6), and to Fitzwhiggin's which our narrator obligingly described and paraphrased for us (pp. 329). Slope's happy response to the latter showed us Slope's naivete: it was a flowery pretense of doing something at the same time as it asserted Fitzwhiggin could do nothing, using etiquette as the excuse. What can I say about people who tell you they can do nothing for you because etiquette gets in the way? If you can believe that, I have a bridge I can let you have, dead cheap, just step right this way ....

The problem for Towers though is after all journalists are not as powerful as our narrator himself appears to think. Towers does indeed write a long piece trumpeting to all who read it the Towers interpretation of what has happened and the Towers hope that Slope -- no better man for the job -- will get the position of warden. Problem is it's not in Towers's gift (pp. 419-21). It's of course true that the article is written in a way that if Slope doesn't get the job it won't hurt the Jupiter: there's only one paragraph on Slope and it's written as if this is not as important as the great reforms which the Jupiter helped carry out. Still Towers has stuck out the 'neck' of the paper a bit by putting Slope forward as its idea of the best man. So Towers's one line meant far more than Fitzwhiggin's.

Nonetheless, at the same time, as anyone who has gone for a position in university will tell you, what matters is who the individuals on the committee who actually have the power to give you the position actually are, what they think of you and what they are prepared to do. All else is words -- as far as the candidate is concerned. Towers has written an article which positions The Jupiter as important, and that's his reward. Slope again doesn't seem to see this. Slope's 'considerable satisfaction' again shows a certain naivete in the man -- like the one which led him to speak such a bellicose sermon when he first come to Barset in the first place. Slope will not get anywhere in this world because he is in fact a poor politician.

Trollope's most frequent approach to a letter is that it is a performance, not a mirror of the heart, and a performance which is not to be read at face value. One of the reasons he, Trollope, wouldn't write an epistolary novel, is he thinks it's necessary for the narrator to help the external reader (us) as well as his internal readers (his characters) along in understanding these complex imagined letters.

Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

September 9, 1999

Re: Barchester Towers, II:6-12 (41-46): The Three Close-Up Acts 3 Letters & An Article in the Jupiter I thought I'd respond to Jill's, Phoebe's and Joan's postings earlier this week by talking about a contrasting undercurrent of perception that unites and distinguishes the three numbered acts and from the several unnumbered entr'actes of Miss Thorne's morning-long fête champêtre: and that is a melancholy perception of vanitas vanitatem, of disappointment, dismay, and disillusion that one can trace through the experience of Eleanor and a few other of the characters to whom we get up close.

Act I occurs between Eleanor and Mr Harding (III:2 or Ch 36). While we find a meeting of the minds between our loving father and daughter (at long last), there is also much discomfort and at the close still some misunderstanding as well as a residual disappointment in Eleanor that her father should have misunderstood her. What's interesting about the scene is how Eleanor overstates the case against Mr Slope and not Mr Harding. To Eleanor's sudden insistence it would have been disgraceful for her to have even considered Mr Slope for a husband, and that somehow having been suspected of erotic feelings towards him somehow soils her and her relationship with her father, her father replies:

'"I don't know what you mean by suspicion, Eleanor. There would be nothing disgraceful, you know; nothing wrong in such a marriage ... (Penguin BT, ed RGilmour, p. 348).

But before he can offer a common sense view of the case, she interrupts him with a fit of crying, an insistence it would have been 'horrid' (which sexually speaking to her it would have been), and intense relief for which Trollope uses the word grief. She cannot show these emotions, nor does he give expression to the 'load off his heart' all that has happened has occasioned him, but there is quiet 'melodrama' (p. 349) here.

Entr'acte: three of our leading females converge, someone has breakfast while someone dies, and Lookalofts, Greenacres and De Courcys play musical chairs, with a little help from Mr Plomacy.

Onto Act II: while there is real comedy here, there is real discomfort. Trollope works to keep us at a distance by interjecting himself at intervals as narrator, e.g, 'And now it is to be feared that every well-bred reader of these pages will lay down the book with disgust...' (p. 384). I thought his summary of his own fiction very funny: 'At one moment she is romping with young Stanhope; then she is making eyes at Mr Arabin; anon she comes to fisty-cuffs with a third lover; and all before she is yet a widow of two years' standing' (pp. 384-85). Yet Eleanor's response inwardly is not funny: she is dismayed, for she has been 'entirely wrong'. The man has been after her after all. Her pride is hurt: she thought she was so above him. I like this lesson Trollope gives her.

As to Slope's response, his emotions are given realism through what Trollope takes to be their peculiarity, through what makes them individual to Slope. Mr Slope is the kind of man who cannot bear a blow. This also makes sense: he is a proud man precisely because he knows himself to have climbed from lower on the ladder than others:

'To him the blow from her little hand was as much an insult as a blow from a man would have been to another. It went direct to his pride. He conceived himself lowered in his dignity, and personally outraged. He could almost have struck at her again in his rage. Even the pain was a great annoyance to him, and the feeling that his clerical character had been wholly disregarded, sorely vexed him' (p. 385).

I may be wrong but I sense from the first line especially that Trollope himself would not have been so offended, and that behind Trollope's distance from this character is his boyhood at school where physical combats between upper class and wealthy boys were nothing, acceptable, even to the defeated, lies a security Trollope appreciates Slope cannot have. The narrator then distances us again: 'But how shall I sing the divine wrath of Mr Slope ...' (p. 386).

I agree with Jill that there is a hypocrisy in Slope's sudden disgust with this 'vanity as this now going on at Ullathorne' but the disgust here is also a product of disgust with himself. Trollope speaks of a 'deep agony of the soul' and means it: he has made a fool of himself with Eleanor as well as the Signora Neroni. He has come down in his own estimation and for what? Says the narrator:

'his soul within him was full of sorrow. He had an inkling, a true inkling -- that he was a wicked, sinful man; but it led him in no right direction; he could admit no charity into his heart. He felt debasement coming onto him, and he longed to shake it off ... ' (p. 387).

The emotionalism of Act I (Eleanor and Mr Harding) and the undercurrent of self-disgust, dismay, and the teaching of lessons of humility both characters stand in need of of Act II (Eleanor and Mr Slope) comes out more fully in Eleanor's entr'acte with Charlotte (prelude to Act III) and climaxes in Act III (Eleanor and Bertie Stanhope).

Eleanor has really been fooled. She has really thought that she was valued for herself and nothing else by the Stanhopes. She has taken all she saw at face value. In fact one of the things most riveting elements in the scene is Charlotte's blasé attitude, Charlotte's lack of shock, her assumption that Mr Slope would 'look up' to Eleanor. Who the hell does Eleanor think she is? Time to grow up is the moral here. Charlotte simply accepted Mr Slope's self-interested and mercenary motives as a reality of life. I would offer the idea that an important subplot and subtheme of this book is the education of this heroine. It's good for her to see Mr Arabin entangled by the Signora; it is salutary for her to see the mixed motives of the Stanhopes, though again, as in the scene with her father and the scene with Mr Slope, she overreacts.

The party coming to an end, and our narrator tells us nothing more fagging (his word) and frustrating than a morning party:

'Morning parties, as a rule, are failures. People never know how to get away from them gracefully. A picnic on an island [this makes me suspect Trollope is thinking of a Watteau picture], or a mountain or in a wood may perhaps be permitted. There is no master of the mountain bound by courtesy to bid you stay while in his heart he is longing for your departure. But in a private house or private grounds a morning party is a bore. One is called upon to eat and drink at unnatural hours. One is obliged to give up the day which is useful ... (p. 397).

How glad they all are to go home or fretting about how they are to get there. The Honourable George who had 'dined too well' is taken away -- much to the De Courcys' relief. Mrs Proudie cannot stay when the Countess is gone. It seems everything is a matter of pride, of pecking order. And so it goes.

Onto Act III: where we meet an honest man, a male counterpart to his sisters in more ways than one. I think Bertie comes out very well in this act, in some ways better than Eleanor. But let us wait until later in the week. Suffice to say here that it brings to the surface the melancholy undercurrent of disappointment and disillusion that provides a counterpoint to the comedy of all intelligently-presented or understood fête champêtres.

Duffy said he likes to imagine Watteau-like illustrations. The longing for the fête champêtre there is made more poignant because the people are always pictured leaving (or maybe it's arriving -- the art history scholars have not yet decided which it is). In Trollope's depiction we have all aspects of the festivity. Unlike Watteau though Trollope allows us to get up close; and whenever we do, it seems the thing is pleasanter in anticipation, in moments of exhilaration (helped on by wine and cheery talk and activity) and in memory than it was in the actual experience.

Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

From Jill Spriggs

September 9, 1999

Re: BT, Volume III, Chapter XI (OUP XLV) The Stanhopes at Home

The Stanhopes were not capable of feeling such immensities of emotion as Eleanor Bold, but they were unhappy in their own superficial way.

Charlotte saw immediately upon the return of her parents' carriage, that Bertie had failed in his bid to make the Widow Bold his own. Neither Bertie nor Eleanor were to be seen exiting the conveyance; only Dr. Stanhope making his depressed way to his home. Now his son would no doubt be an anvil around his neck indefinitely. An imperative command was sent for his oldest daughter, and Charlotte knew the worst must be faced.

Madeline was unsurprised by her brother's failure at romance; she had seen that his heart wasn't in it. Charlotte threw the blame on Bertie; " ' She was ready enough, I am quite sure ...' " (OUP Barchester Towers, ed. Sadleir and Page, p. 197) The two hundred pounds which was to go towards Bertie's creditors must be used for his flight to the Continent.

They were troubled waters which Charlotte had to throw oil upon. The angry father was ready to find fault with his entire family; first Bertie's incapacity to make his own way, then Madeline's expensive taste in accoutrements. But Dr. Stanhope had Austen's Mr. Bennet's awareness that "if they were all bad, who had made them so? If they were unprincipled, selfish, and disreputable, who was to be blamed for the education which had had so injurious an effect?" (p. 198)

At length Dr. Stanhope was brought around by his skillful daughter to agree that Bertie must have the two hundred pounds, but he must leave the next day. But the entrance of this hopeless Romeo almost upset Charlotte's careful plans.

Bertie is not unlike current youths who exasperate their long suffering parents with monosyllabic responses to their queries, and placid replies to their threats. "Where have you been this evening?" "Nowhere." "Who was there?" "I dunno." "You are really making me angry!" "So?" Dr. Stanhope's anger too apparently left his son unmoved, and this only made his father more furious. Wouldn't you be tiffed if, while you are attempting to give a richly deserved lecture to your wayward offspring, he would doodle on a handy memo pad? I could not help smiling at Bertie's response to his father's rant;

" ' You have disgraced me, sir; you have disgraced yourself, and me, and your sisters.'

' I am at least glad, sir, that I have not disgraced my mother,' said Bertie." (pp. 201 - 202)

Dr. Stanhope's fury escalated with the lack of response from his son, until Bertie narrowly avoided being completely cut off by the quick thinking intervention of his sister. " ' Is he only to blame? Think of that. We have made our own bed, and, such as it is, we must lie on it.' " (p. 202) Stopping her brother from drawing also helped.

Patient as she usually was with her inept brother, Charlotte was annoyed when she found out that not only had Eleanor refused him, but he had allowed the whole scheme for achieving monetary solvency, slip. The next day Bertie left the scene, soon to be followed by his family. Madeline was thoroughly tired of clergymen, and living was so much more reasonable there.

Eleanor arrived promptly on the day and time appointed. This was to be a most interesting meeting. Madeline had thoughtfully arranged that the widow should be escorted to her, without meeting any of the family. Eleanor was not exactly warm, but Madeline urged her to sit closer to her "the better to see you, my dear". Without much preamble, the signora got right down to it.

" ' ... if you know Mr. Arabin, I am sure you must like him much. Everybody that knows him must like him. ... How stiff you are with me, Mrs. Bold ... and I the while am doing for you all that one woman can do to serve another.' " (p. 205)

Eleanor gave what could only be called a stiff answer, and Madeline responded with quite a shocking speech.

Do you love him, love him with all your heart and soul, with all the love your bosom can feel? For I can tell you that he loves you, adores you, worships you, thinks of you and nothing else, is not thinking of you as he attempts to write his sermon for next Sunday's preaching. What would I not give to be loved in such a way by such a man, that is, if I were an object fit for any man to love!' " (p. 206)

Madeline promised that Mr. Arabin knew nothing of this planned meeting, but urged Eleanor not to throw away the love of such a man. Silently she left the Stanhope house for the last time.

The Signora Neroni had made quite an impression.

Jill Spriggs

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