The Warden, Introduction
A Crisis of Conscience Embedded in a Political Fable; Archbishop Grantly v John Bold; The Twelve Old Men and the Will; Mr Harding's Cello

Gene Stratton began the first week's postings during the read (and several thereafter) Subject: [trollope-l] The Warden: Chs. 1-4

The first 4 chapters introduce us, directly or by mention, to most of the characters in the story. We learn how Hiram's charity came into being; the role of the Warden in general and the character of the incumbent Warden; the basic characters of the good-natured Bishop and his dynamic no-nonsense son, the Archdeacon; the background and desires of the 12 bedesmen; and the somewhat perplexing motivation of the good doctor, Mr. Bold.

In this, as in a discussion of all books, I'm sure that we readers will take various sides, but always in our good-natured way and with a view to defending to the death the right of others to hold opposite views. So please hold your stones and consider that devil's advocates have their places in society, and perhaps I could apply for the position on this list.

For example, I like Archdeacon Grantly, and if we draw a line in the sand, that simple statement alone puts me decidedly on the minority side. The man is, in Trollope's words, "judicious" and "diligent." That he would not "give his coat to the man who took his cloak" is not necessarily a fault. And how many of us would honestly "forgive his brother ... seven times"? And in my humble opinion, any man who does not like reformers, committees, and commissions, cannot be all bad.

I don't like the pusillanimous John Bold. He could have done far more good in the world if he'd spent more of his energy on his doctoring. Keeping in mind that Bold's attack on Dr. Harding's 800 pounds per annum is hardly a revelation of Church abuses, his action is not so much public-spiritedly as it is a mean-spiritedly attack on a very decent man whom Bold intends to have as a father-in-law.

Placarding the incomes of bishops began a quarter-century before The Warden was written, and was, according to Owen Chadwick, "the simplest form of attack." Pampleteers claimed that one bishop "bequeathed 700,000 pounds, an archbishop left more than a million." Bishop Sparke of Ely promoted his own son and his son-in-law so that the two of them had a church income of 31,000 pounds. The Bishop of London was due for an increase to 100,000 pounds, and the Archbishop of Armagh would receive 140,000 pounds.

It is impossible to compute precisely how much the pound of 1830-1855 would be worth today because inflation did not treat every item equally (On the Victoria List today there is an article showing that in 100 years, the price of the Times newspaper had gone up 10 times, of a pound of bread 16 times, average wages 83 times, and a pint of beer 190 times). But I've seen 50 times used as a respected average multiplier, and if we use that for Mr. Harding's 800 pounds, we get some 40,000 pounds today, or in dollars around 65,000. A good income by today's standards, but not an outrageous income. (You can use 83 as a multiplier and come up with a higher salary, but I doubt that clergymen in the Church of England have enjoyed that "average" 83-fold multiplier for their increase of emoluments todays -- perhaps someone has accurate figures on how much clergymen's salaries have increased.)

In any event, Mr. Harding's 800 pounds in the 1850s were not an eye-opener, and taking that money away from him would not have been a significant blow in the battle against church abuses. With church reform on the march for some time past and some time to come, Mr. Harding's income probably would have been adjusted in some general way that would not have singled him out for punishment and national disgrace. Fie on you, Mr. Bold!

In Harold Bloom, editor, Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers and The Warden in the Modern Critical Interpretations series, there is an excerpt from Hugh Hennedy, Unity in Barsetshire in which Hennedy states that The Warden "has but two plots, The first and major plot bears the central action," which I'll paraphrase loosely so as not to be a spoiler, as the predicament of Mr. Harding. Hennedy gives the second plot as the romance between Bold and Mr. Harding's daughter.

I agree completely with Hennedy. The plot is not the exposure of Mr. Harding as the recipient of ill-gotten gains from a church sinecure. Church abuses are not the plot. The plot is the effect of a problem, which can easily be seen from two viewpoints, in the mind of the man affected by that problem. Trollope's plot need not have involved a church charity. It could have had to do with an indiscretion from Mr. Harding's past, or in a revelation that Harding was not the real father of Eleanor, or in someone blackmailing Mr. Harding, etc. Trollope was using the Hiram charity not as a revelation to his reading public -- they already knew well enough about church abuses in a big way. Hiram's charity was merely a novelistic device to create suspense in the minds of the readers and to keep them interested in Mr. Harding both as a person and as someone who had to make a powerful personal decision. The emphasis should be on "personal."

Changing the subject, I want to mention from the Introduction of my World's Classics edition, David Skilton's view that Trollope "denies the existence of perfect heroes or total villains." I think we can all agree with this statement. But I wonder if the success of The Warden and Barchester Towers, as Trollope's 4th and 5th novels, might not have influenced him greatly in his subsequent highly successful portrayal of characters in this most judicious and realistic way. We can recall from La Vendée, the novel immediately prior to the Barchester novels, that Trollope did not begin with a denial of perfect heroes or total villains; enough (not all) of his characters in La Vendée seemed to lack a three-dimensional effect and were portrayed as too-too heroic or villainous, so that we might consider The Warden as the beginning of the formula that made Trollope great. (On reading my own words, this part seems a bit trite, since it's hardly original with me, but I'll let it go anyway.)

Gene Stratton

RE: The Warden, Chs 1-4: A Crisis of Conscience Embedded in a Political Fable

In the spirit of friendly debate, I'll take a differing view from Gene's. I see the center of the story as Mr Harding's conscience: he has to make the decision whether to accept what the world has given him. It's not only that it's legally his, and that most people would have done the same or not blame him for accepting a comfortable position and income, especially considering he is living up to his duties as far as human nature and the circumstances and actual characters of his pensioner allow; it's that he would be blamed, mocked, derided, thought wrong were he to give it up. Yet he wants not to do the thing others think is right; he wants to do what is right. There's an important line in this week's chapters which is echoed throughout the book: 'He was not so anxious to prove himelf right, as to be so' (Oxford The Warden, ed Skilton, Ch 3, p 36). So he could make the decision to give up the income because he has it from an austere moral point of view wrongly, because it is one of the abuses of an all-powerful caste and establishment (these words come from Sadleir who takes this view too), because he has no right to it if we look at what the founder intended. But then what? Shall he starve? On the hinge of this dilemma chapter after chapter will unroll and our man agonize in front of us.

We love him. Well I love him. In his commentary on Bold and Archbishop Grantley Gene forgot the beautiful nature of this man at the heart of the book. He looks forward to Plantangenet Palliser in the way his morality is not that of worldly accommodation or selfish ambition, but one of integrity which the world scoffs at. I see in Mr Harding and Plantagenet Palliser's an attempt on Trollope's part to redefine what a hero ought to be.

Imagine making an old man who can't make ends meet, scholarly, fastidious, one who no one ever accused of being too aggressive or active, sweet, shy, awkward your hero. It's an unusual book. I see the love story as to the side; there to bolster for us what is the relationship between Eleanor and Mr Harding.

I can't make too much of a defense of the young surgeon gentleman, Mr Bold, though I don't think Trollope is as hard on him as Gene is. Trollope presents Bold as a a very young man who has not thought out what the results of his abstract principles will be; as the story progresses we see Bold learns that people will not obey principles but act in accordance with their ties to one another, not caring for the right or wrong of an issue. In the introductory paragraph describing Bold Trollope insists on how Bold is not money-hungry, binds up the wounds of the poor for nothing, has done some good even if only in a tiny way (as that is all one ever can do -- something Bold has to learn). Trollope's tone combines comedy with sympathy with a sense that Bold is too proud, not thoughtful enough of individuals, not thinking things through. My counter-debate to Gene would be stronger if I could tell what decisions Bold makes half-way through, but they are in line with a good man with a good heart who didn't understand what he was getting himself into.

Bold is, to me, nowhere as mocked or shown to be as dense and selfish (and later arrogant) as Archdeacon Grantly. Again it is later that I can make the stronger case against Grantly (he will gloat and preen when he wins a round); here I will have to content myself with the sense Trollope gives us of a mindless proud upholder of the establishment. The reviewers at the time were angry at the portrait of this man and saw it as a satire on powerful churchmen who had large incomes and no religious feeling; Sadleir sees in Grantly the picture of caste-arrogance. I would like to suggest that in these early chapters he is Bold's opposite number: equally thoughtless of the inward truth of what is right or good; more dense, more cold and hard towards others, though doing his duty because he does think cant and cant for him includes doing one's Christian duties (like paying your father-in-law's bills). Grantly is the man who intimidates others in our world, an instrument that is always coming to hand.

Why do I say it's a political fable? I agree with Gene that it need not be rooted in church reform -- though it is. What makes it universal is that we watch how human nature responds in the situation and find that behaviors we see today in the political arena are those Trollope is emphasising in many scenes. Take Chapter Four: it's an old argument I have heard so many times, don't rock the boat. The poor and powerless are not only told but themselves believe they had better hold on to what little they have or they'll lose that. The powerful in their society will take that away. When did a lawyer ever do a poor man any good, asks Grantly? He later threatens the old men. But they think this way too. Bunce's central argument in Chapter Four is that since they are nobody, nothing, have no connections, they will only make things worse for themselves. It's the argument for settling, for accepting minor palliations. Let's not here in the US radically reform our non-existent health care system so it is not based on money; no, let's add a voucher here, pass a law to forbid the insurance company from forcing people out of the hospital too soon there.

On the other side, we have the Bold school of thought. If you have a real case with real grievances and the law can be made to work for you (which is possible here), don't allow the bastards of this world to frighten you. Fight. Looking at it in minor instances, we all know the squeeky wheel gets the most grease. It's not quite that these old men have nothing to lose but their chains of course for Trollope has presented them as very ancient, sick, ignorant. Still the side is presented -- and I think is central to the way the book is structured. I see contrasts in people's public behavior governing the choice and disposition of the scenes. For example, Bold visits Mr Chadwick and Chadwick knows how to manipulate words, how to cut Bold off; this is contrasted to Mr Harding who does not have the density and determination which allows people to ignore questions put to them. So Harding answers. These two little scenes contrast how people manipulate and are manipulated; politics is not a sincere act; it's a game.

I will say that when I read the book though I am fascinated by the way the politics of the encounters between strong and weak, nervous and dense, moneyed and moneyless works out, that's not what moves me: what is moving is what Skilton identifies as the emotional core of the book: a resignation or withdrawal which has the outlines of 'a classic tragic pattern' (p. xiv). Now this is caught up in the lovely atmosphere of the hospital, its beauty and still grace. The description of the grounds, the gate, the water, the close inside are all so suggestive of peace. I think of Marvell's line: Fair Quiet have I found thee here? We should not forget the lovely atmosphere in which the story is bathed; it too is part of the meaning of what's will be won and lost in this book.

Ellen Moody

John Mize now wrote in:

From: John Mize

My sympathy is with the other devil, John Bold, as opposed to Dr. Grantly. I can't help but admire the fact that Bold is willing to make trouble for the father of the girl he wants to marry. He has no personal interest in the fight. In fact it's in his own best interest to keep quiet. I like the sort of pig-headed obstinacy that makes someone refuse to ingratiate himself with the powerful and influential.

I agree that Bold is attacking a gnat with an assault weapon, but I have no sympathy with Dr. Grantly and his friends. They have theirs, and, therefore, they want things to stay as they are. They wink at abuses, large and small, because any changes might be dangerous to their own interests. In the 1830s in the US the main-line churches and the established business interests in the free states not only refused to attack slavery, but they bitterly attacked those trouble-makers who did do so. The rich and prominent didn't want to give up their lucrative connections with Southern slave-holders. William Lloyd Garrison and the other abolitionists forced them out of their moral complacency by refusing to shut up and "go along to get along." Garrison is a neglected figure in American history and is often portrayed as a self-infatuated, conceited trouble-maker. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that he could never admire Garrison, because Garrison was willing to destroy the social fabric to satisfy his own moral conceit. Maybe, but a world filled with Grantlys and Hardings would never change. The Grantlys would defend their own interests to the death, and the Hardings would go along out of a good-natured, diffident humility. I am not sure that moral conceit isn't sometimes necessary, although perhaps Bold perhaps should be advised to pick on larger targets.

John Mize

Re: The Warden, Chs 1-4: A Crisis of Conscience Embedded in a Political Fable

This is written in response to Gene's and John's postings earlier today and also something Gene wrote on Sunday. He remarked that with the The Warden Trollope finds himself. I would partly dispute that and partly agree strongly. For the dispute: if you look at the structure of the book (single plot), its size, its strongly patterned quality (it's not realistic and has many allusions and games), the single minded kind of intent gaze on a single mind (typical of a few of the novellas) you find it is atypical. I would argue that Trollope's first typical Trollopian book is The Kellys and O'Kellys. Not enough people have read this marvellous book: it has the double plot; the complicated creation of a world of many classes and intersecting hierarchies; we trace the development of a consciousness over a period of time; it ends comically but has much darkness. It is political but in the manner of The American Senator: one part of it is and that affects the other parts, but they stand alone too.

No. The Warden is actually anomalous in a number of ways if you look at Trollope's development and the novels as group. I suspect the reason one reads Trollope found himself with The Warden is it was the first one where he had a success and often critics begin with it as if Trollope didn't write anything before it. It did begin to make him a name and he realised that the book and milieu and landscape he created in it would sell. He didn't give up Irish books or tragedies; he didn't even persist in Barsetshire kind of books (he wrote The Three Clerks and The Bertrams between Barsetshires and these are very different kinds of books). Still he had learned the public wanted middle class English people in intricate social situations and amusement and comedy, were also drawn to stories of church politics.

Yet I also think there is a kind of finding himself in The Warden, a laying bare of what Trollope is doing . Ruth apRoberts says that there is something in The Warden which makes it a paradigm for people looking to understand Trollope. She locates its centrality in the use of a dilemma where both sides are partly right and wrong. While I'm emotionally with John Mize over Dr Grantly, it seems to me that what Trollope has presented to us is an array of attitudes: at one end is Grantly, standing for the status quo as safe (especially for him, but also because it's what's known), intensely sure he is right, no self-doubt; Sadleir's caste arrogance is a good phrase. Near him is the Bishop. Sweet old man, but he's an upholder of the establishment. On their side of the court is Sir Abraham Haphazard a man who would win a case by technicalities -- he would be right at home in Jarndyce v Jarndyce. In the middle we find no one. I would say Mr Harding is not in the middle. Mr Harding doesn't believe there's a middle. There is the right thing to do and he's got to find it. Moving to the left (these are French terms) we find Bold; to the left of Bold we find the demagogue Towers. Bold remember believes he is doing good; Towers is closer to a conscious hypocrite out for power. They are supported by lawyers who are in their grasping desperate ways the equivalent of Haphazard: Finny and Chadwick are amoral; they are willing instruments of money and power.

I don't think this is new. In The Macdermots, in _The Kellys_, even in La Vendée Trollope perpetually looks at all sides of a question. Even the dilemma is found in these early books. Trollope's heroes in these books are all driven by their conscience and have to make painful choices and take the mixed consequences of their acts. What is new and striking and has occasioned this dialogue is Trollope has put the political question at the center of his book for the first time. He has also done it so simply and clearly. He has found to hand the perfect example: a man given a position any one would take which is nonetheless the result of years of neglect and indifference by the authorities. The book has a beautiful clarity, a simplicity which explicates Trollope's the lines of the deep ambiguity of Trollope's moral stance. The stance is ambigous because ambiguity characterises every act of our lives -- even very bad ones can be ambiguous (like murder or rape or war). In The Warden no one's hands are clean. Mr Harding has led a supine existence, very comfortable. Because the church has not reformed itself at all, he has been very comfortable. Eleanor has a lovely carriage (among other things).

What we see debated through the lines of the book are issues that are still very hot and important today. The specific example is the church, but the way the characters respond to one another is exactly humanly and psychologically and morally speaking the way a politician might act today in the US over passing some aspect of a new health care reform bill. So Trollope has cut through to eternal verities.

We can also see in the lines of Mr Harding's story and the characters arrayed around him what Trollope in more complicated and less direct ways repeats as basic to political behavior in many of his books. John Bold looks forward to Elias Gotobed. Both are insisting on the rights and strict interpretation of the law. Both show that the rights of people are respected not as a result of some law or rule but as a result of who they are, who they are connected to. John Bold's trouble with Tom Towers later in the book -- and Mr Harding's anguish are repeated in the story of Plantagenet Palliser and Phineas Finn vis-à-vis Quintus Slide in the Palliser books.

So we see that The Warden is a little work of genius, an astonishing litmus test suddenly brought to vivid life. It lays bare an aspect of Trollope's way of working again and again.

Subject: [trollope-l] Fw: [trollope-l] The Warden, Chs 1-4: A Crisis of Conscience & Political Fable

From Gene Stratton:

On reading Ellen's message, I think we're in less disagreement on some issues than first glance might suggest, albeit more at variance on others. She writes:

"I see the center of the story as Mr Harding's conscience: he has to make the decision whether to accept what the world has given him."

In paraphrasing the words of Hugh Hennedy, I agreed that the first and major plot was "the predicament of Mr. Harding." Predicaments don't exist independently of the people who perceive them, and by this expression I meant essentially the same thing as Ellen. I agree completely that the center of the story is Mr. Harding's conscience.

In the Modern Critical Interpretations book on Barchester, Sherman Hawkins, too, points out that The Warden "turns upon 'scruples of conscience.'"

Ellen also wrote, "Gene forgot the beautiful nature of this man at the heart of the book." And again Ellen is right. I gave my views on Dr. Grantly and Mr. Bold, but neglected to state how I perceived Mr. Harding. I believe Trollope once referred to Harding as a man completely without guile. He was an honest man, blind to much of the corruption of others about him. We don't in ordinary life meet many people as innocent as Harding, but when we do they make a deep impression on us. This is getting ahead of the book, but as we learn more about Mr. Harding we can feel with certainty that "Goodness and mercy shall follow him all the days of his life and he shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." I can readily believe that Trollope wished to embody in Mr. Harding all the good he wanted to see in the human race.

On Mr. Bold, I can moderate my views on him somewhat, but only a little. He was a young man without much experience, and that's a partial excuse for his actions. Yet, it was he who endangered his prospective father-in-law, the innocent Mr. Harding, causing him great grief and torment, and I can't forgive him for it. The world is too full of people causing misery to others with the excuse that they did not intend their actions to lead to such consequences. Ellen says that she can't make too much of a defense about Bold, so we don't disagree much there.

One good thing about dialogue is that it cuts through issueless matters and helps us get down to the real bones of contention. And this is what we're now doing. I suppose that Ellen and I disagree mostly on Dr. Grantly. Of course, I expected I would be in a minority on the Archdeacon. I can't say that Grantly is without faults. I see him as a very human person, full of frailties and strengths, more of both of which will come out later. However, the basic issue here, as Ellen has brought out in her later paragraphs, is that we reach a point in the discussion where we can't separate character from politics; it comes down to conservatism vs. liberalism. I tend to be conservative and Ellen has already proclaimed her tendency to be liberal, and we both sincerely believe that humanity would be better off if our general views were put into practice and given an adequate chance to work.

But this reminds me of a discussion I once had in England at a small dinner party with two writers and their wives. One writer was very liberal and the other very conservative, and they shouted their views back and forth at top lungs, never hearing a word the other spoke. I was the moderate there, and when they occasionally came up for air and asked me for concurrence, on hearing my views they both castigated me. Of course, neither changed the views of the other one iota. It occurred to me that this was not dialogue, but individual psychological therapy.

And I fear at this point that if I say more on my conservative beliefs, I might be guilty of provoking the same type of counter-productive discussion. So I'll repeat that I like Dr. Grantly, but if it should be impossible to separate his Victorian character from 20th century politics, it would be better for me to say no more of him. Yet since the issue of politics has arisen here, I would not be true to my conscience if I did not at least state where I stand.

Gene Stratton

Tyler Tichelaar then wrote in:

Wonderful discussion so far.

I like Mr. Harding a great deal as well. Mr. Grantly I'm not so fond of, but it does sound like he is good at doing his job, indeed his job is his life and that kind of enthusiasm can be commendable. I also very much like the Bishop. While none of these three characters seems like they could do a great job of running the parish on their own, together they seem to balance one another out, as Trollope tells us the Bishop and Mr. Harding let Mr. Grantly basically run the parish, but they are there to step in and dissuade him when he is overly zealous. The system works so far, and I don't really see any reason for it to be changed, unless of course, the pensioners are being cheated of what is rightly theirs, something which the remainder of the novel will make clear.

As for the pensioners, how are we to regard their position. If they are cases of charity, then I feel they have no reason to complain and should be thankful for what they have. They rather remind me of those obnoxious people who suffer from muscular dystrophia and have the nerve to complain about Jerry Lewis after Lewis has spent decades helping them.

However, I'm not clear exactly what the pensioners position is. If they are regarded as their pensions being a reward for years of good service and something they are entitled to, then they should not be cheated from what Hiram originally intended for them. Could someone else possibly clarify just what position we are to regard these pensioners as holding?

Tyler Tichelaar

Gene had also written about the rights of pensioners (a posting which I cannot find) to which Tyler responded:

Thank you Gene for responding to my query about the rights of the pensioners. I was especially intrigued when you remarked:

"6th, I think that for lack of access to the wording of the original will, we have to assume that Hiram was leaving the Church a lot of discretion to handle the yearly income."

This question makes me wonder just why Trollope did not insert the text of the will into the novel. Does anyone think he might have considered doing so and then decided against it, or more likely, did it never occur to him.

The reason I ask is I wonder how this insertion would have changed, weakened or strengthened the novel. Of course, it would be difficult - one would have to capture not just the language of the fifteenth century, but worse, the legal language of the time, as well as know the historical facts of such a thing - perhaps Trollope could be charged with being a little lazy here, and not wanting to do his homework.

Another problem is the reader would then have the will to read and interpret for him or herself. Would there be any advantage to this? Most readers would not be lawyers or barristers, but even so, they could determine just what is clear and not clear. Then there's the question of whether the will would make any sense at all - think of the U.S. Constitution - does the right to bear arms mean solely for revolution against the British, or does it mean the right for teenagers to buy guns at gun sales - soemthing the founding forefathers never would have imagined. Neither, as Gene says, would Hiram have imagined the occurences of the nineteenth century.

Well, I could go on theorizing here, but I think it's an interesting fact that we don't have the actual will. Anyone else want to comment?

Tyler Tichelaar

I responded to Tyler and Gene:

RE: The Warden: The Twelve Old Men

I'd like to offer Tyler a different kind of answer than Gene did. Tyler suggests that the men are not entitled to anything for real because they are charity cases. That is, they didn't earn the right to the income for the farmland, so they should be grateful for whatever is given them. The problem is that in Trollope's society the whole idea of entitlement was very new or non-existent. While there were a few positions in government where after a lifetime of work a man could earn a pension, quit, and live off it for the rest of his life, for the most part the notion you could do something which entitled you to money after you were no longer working for it didn't exist. For the most part no one in Victorian England was entitled to anything he didn't inherit by his family or earn directly week by week or earn as a result of income he bought shares with.

Now in the 20th century I think we have gone farther than entitlement. We do have many programs and sets of people who are understood to be entitled to moneys or properties or rights for years at a time after they have finished working. These moneys remember are basically coming from a vast public fund which is created by a tax system. But we also provide care for people because they exist and are people -- just as we permit people to vote even though they don't own any property. Under this line of thought the old men would get social security not so much because they have earned enough over a lifetime to keep them in decency for the next 40 years when they are not working as because our society has decided people don't need to be entitled not to starve; people don't need to have an entitlement to medical care. And so on.

The question Trollope's novel asks us through Bold is Are the old men being cheated? How does this question arise? Well they are (in effect) the heirs of John Hiram. He has left them the income from a small piece of farmland and that is to be theirs and those of other woolcarders after them. All laws are fictions we invent (even property rights). Now the line of thought Bold pursues is that the men have been left the income of this land and are not in control of it. They may be comfortable but the money is going to the church which then gives to them what it thinks they need.

The problem is the fiction is no longer sufficiently accurate. There is no farmland; there are no woolcarders. Bold says if that's so that does not mean the church should get this money. The old men should still get it -- like some heir whose father left him X thinking X wasn't worth something and now it turns out it is worth a great deal. John Hiram's money ought not to be filling the coffers of the Grantlys and Hardings of this world. It ought to be divvied up by someone (it needn't be the church) for the old men's benefit.

Now there's the rub, and it seems to me we see here that as in The American Senator Trollope has stacked the cards against Bold and the twelve old men. What is their benefit? Trollope has given us 12 old, sick, ignorant and mostly helpless old men. The best they can have happen to them is have someone spend money on their behalf. Is that being done. Well yes. In fact Trollope goes further and portrays these old men as stupid and rather nasty -- morally speaking there is little to choose between Abel Handy and Abraham Haphazard. It's realistic, but it doesn't make us long to see the old men given money they wouldn't know how to handle anyway. The reason Bold can't help these old men is they can't help themselves. And he's not out to help them; he never visits them. Mr Harding does. Bold is out to show that the church is pocketing money it should not have. Neither he nor Grantly give a damn about the old men.

But I would suggest that this doesn't mean we should look at them as not worthy or contemptible or people who ought to be grateful for after all they have no rights to the property. By Hiram's will they could -- though Haphazard would turn the case into a version of Jarndyce v Jarndyce and the men will never see anything but the grave. It seem to me harsh to speak of people in this way. I also fault Trollope for mocking the old men in the way he does. It is a piece with his portrayal of Goarly. Finally Trollope is not even-handed in either The American Senator or The Warden. Why? Because in these stories he doesn't identify with anyone beneath a certain level. They are not fully human to him. He can go so far in analysing the sides of a political question and can see quite far into the principles of what is at stake; he can see how much can be lost or hurt when people don't think in terms of individuals and circumstances.

There are stories where Trollope does identify with the lowest of the low and even make them heroes and heroines. Interestingly most of these are found in the short stories: 'Catherine Carmichael'; 'Aaron Trowe'; Malachi's Cove; the degraded alcoholic of 'The Spotted Dog'. Also the Irish novels: Thady Macdermot is very low in his way and so are a number of characters in the novel into whose full burden of humanity Trollope enters; there are scenes in Castle Richmond which show Trollope can extend his humanity very far indeed.

But The Warden and The American Senator are not such stories.

Ellen Moody

Lisa Guardini posted now:

Hello, Tyler! Interesting discussion re: Hiram's will. I personally think it would be extraneous to the plot to include the text of the will in the book, and that it would serve more to confuse than anything. Indeed, the language would be very difficult in itself, as well as the difficulties involved in interpretation. I'd bet Trollope meant to leave this as background and never intended to include the text of the will.

Having just finished the first four chapters this afternoon (I had to read many parts twice, as my children were playing a very odd game with me as the victim, pouncing on me and bellowing "shark attack"...), I must say I'm extremely entertained by this book. The humour is wonderfully subtle and I'm finding the characters extremely well-drawn and convincing. So far, if I had to sum this book up in one word it would be "charming."

I'm off for now to take another dip into Bleak House. As long as the children are sleeping there's no risk of being interrupted by jabs from their elbows and knees, and I intend to take full advantage of that.

Lisa G.

From: John Mize

I agree with Gene that the problem is a moral one for the church and that the "correct" answer would be to expand the number of pensioners rather than create a sinecure. The reason no one thinks of that sort of answer is explained by Trollope's view of the old men. The poor are dangerous and ignorant. They should be taken care of, but they would be corrupted by too much affluence. When I read Trollope's description of the old men, I think of contemporary American politicians talking about welfare Cadillacs and the dignity of work. With this sort of attitude toward the poor, it can't be expected that the institutional church would think of using a cash windfall to benefit those people. Such money should go to a worthy cleric who could use the money properly.

To me it seems almost inevitable that a state supported church should identity itself with the rich and powerful. Simone Weil said something to the effect that the Christian church sold its collective soul to Constantine when it became the state church of the Roman empire. From that point on, the needles widened considerably, and rich men and camels passed through easily. Of course my view is that of one who has a healthy distrust of both church and state. It may not be fair, but I can't help sympathizing with George Carlin's insistence that the separation of church and state is absolutely necessary, since either one of those institutions is capable of screwing you, but when they get together, all hope is lost.

John Mize

From: "Lisa Guidarini"

She quoted John Mize:

"I agree with Gene that the problem is a moral one for the church and that the "correct" answer would be to expand the number of pensioners rather than create a sinecure. The reason no one thinks of that sort of answer is explained by Trollope's view of the old men. The poor are dangerous and ignorant. They should be taken care of, but they would be corrupted by too much affluence."

I suppose I wasn't reading this much into the description of the old men, as I found it more a straightforward depiction of the "me too" sort of attitude. It took little wheedling for the insinuating Finney to convince the followers of Abel Handy that they deserved more than the pittance they were currently receiving. Finney also very masterfully plays on the soft-hearted John Bold in signing him over to their cause. Finney is really quite the manipulator, and I wonder exactly what he stands to benefit from all this. I'm sure he expects to receive a fee, and I take it it must be a somewhat substantial one for him to be so concerned about the situation of the old men.

I thought it telling that Trollope mentioned these men were well taken care of and didn't actually need more money than they were currently receiving, though. That part did rub me a bit the wrong way. Something about the attitude, "they're fed and have a roof over their heads; what more could they want?", does bother me. However, I also think this is a truth, and they are fortunate to have places in Hiram's hospital at all, so why do they feel the need to grub for more? I suppose I am split on this issue.

She quoted John Mize again:

"When I read Trollope's description of the old men, I think of contemporary American politicians talking about welfare Cadillacs and the dignity of work. With this sort of attitude toward the poor, it can't be expected that the institutional church would think of using a cash windfall to benefit those people. Such money should go to a worthy cleric who could use the money properly."

This is sticky, and brings me back to the subject of Hiram's will. I'm not exactly clear on what Hiram originally intended for the men, but am pretty certain he wanted a custodian for the money. I see this as a good thing, in theory, assuming the person holding the money is fair and equitable. In this case, Harding is portrayed as quite a reasonable and amiable man, and I know he isn't doing anything underhand. He even starts questioning the situation himself after Bold's visit, showing he is open to what is just and fair. Again:

To me it seems almost inevitable that a state supported church should identity itself with the rich and powerful. Simone Weil said something to the effect that the Christian church sold its collective soul to Constantine when it became the state church of the Roman empire. From that point on, the needles widened considerably, and rich men and camels passed through easily."

It certainly does seem to follow that this would be the case, and seems to have been proven throughout history.

"Of course my view is that of one who has a healthy distrust of both church and state. It may not be fair, but I can't help sympathizing with George Carlin's insistence that the separation of church and state is absolutely necessary, since either one of those institutions is capable of screwing you, but when they get together, all hope is lost."

Yet another sticky wicket, but I'm on your side of the fence on this one!

Lisa Guidarini

Subject: [trollope-l] The Warden, Chs 1-4: A Crisis of Conscience & Political Fable

From: "RJ Keefe"

What, I ask myself, is special about the opening of The Warden? I'm not referring to the lengthy descriptions of Barchester and Hiram's will that have put off so many first-time readers of Trollope. I mean the atmosphere that is already fully on view when the archdeacon falls back into his pillows with a dismayed 'Good Heavens!' in the second chapter. Is there something special here, something that marks this novel and the next one in the series apart from Trollope's others? Or do I read it in?

In any case, The Warden seems special. Several years now, of participation in Internet reading groups devoted to Trollope, of reading novels both famous and obscure, of growing familiarity with Trollope's tricks and turns, do nothing to unseat this book's eminence in the catalogue. Pressing myself to explain what's different about The Warden, I think that I find it in those pillows at Plumstead Episcopi. Trollope regards the archdeacon and his good fortune with an eye that would grow colder and less smiling as his career progressed. He has also pulled the punch of Dr. Harding's potential destitution; the warden will always have the amplitudes of his son-in-law to fall back on, should he need them.

Dr. Harding, with his cello and his relics of sacred music, is the very genius loci of Hiram's Hospital; his character springs from it grounds like the autochthonous god of an Attic spring. Trollope strikes the note that eluded him when he wrote of the equally doomed pre-deluge world of the Lescures and the Larochejaquelins in La Vendée. The Warden begins with an elegy.

That's what's special to me, anyway: for The Warden is extraordinarily open to different interpretations, as postings from Gene Stratton and Ellen Moody show. It's possible to like Archdeacon Grantly, or at any rate it's possible not to hate him, an option, as I say, that I think Trollope would have closed off in his later work, where worldly and humorless people appear brittle and arid and seem only want to take the life out of things. The political issue at the heart of the main plot is difficult to determine, and Trollope seems to feel that it were better not raised in the first place. (My own solution, to be postponed until Mr. Harding's successor's incumbency, would be to increase the number of bedesman and diminish the warden's emolument - both gradually.) It's an immensely symbolic one, ready to serve as a focus for discontents and conservatives alike among Trollope's readers no less than his characters.

Perhaps all that's special is the homecoming, the return to my first encounter with Trollope. But I think there's more to it than that.

RJ Keefe

To this I replied:

'The Warden (like Barchester Towers soom afterwards) is written in a key of drollery.

Then John Letts wrote in:

The Warden is a rare example of a really interesting book about a really good man (don't mistake heroes for good men). What other examples can anyone call to mind? Only Cousin Pons (Balzac) that I know of.

John Letts
p> PS It is very very difficult to make virtue interesting. By the way, I don't remember who did Esther Summerson in the BBC TV version of Bleak House, but I do remember she succeeded in making her human and not a plaster saint.

PPS I once read Bleak House between Second Hall and 12.25 and wrote an essay on it the same night. Is this a record?

Subject: [trollope-l] The Warden

From: Dagny

I am only through chapter 3, but so far I have nothing against Mr. Bold. In fact I like him and admire him for sticking to his principles. He believes (rightly or not) that the pensioners are not getting their just due. He decides to try and find out what the will exactly stated and see if he can set matters right. At a point in time, early on in his project, he realizes that this could impact very seriously, both financially and to the reputation of his friend and possible father-in-law. But he decides to proceed regardless. To me this shows his sense of fair-play more than any disloyalty to a friend.

As to why the will text is not printed, I'm only in chapter 3, so I could certainly be proved wrong later, but at this point I think maybe the will has been lost and nobody will be able to find out exactly what Hiram said. I agree with Gene that Hiram did not intend the pensioners to live a luxurious life, but would have wanted this much excess money to be spend in giving a simple living to more pensioners. I certainly don't think Hiram ever meant for the 12 pensioners to have more money than they could spend and for it to be left to their heirs, if any. It seems more like a trust, than an inheritance. A trust with the beneficiaries being more woolcarders on down the line, not the original woolcarders' descendents.

I really feel for Mr. Harding. He seems to genuinely like the pensioners and gives them personal attention in addition to administrative care. I don't think he ever meant to cheat them and he doesn't seem to live an extravangant life himself, although he is perhaps too indulgent with his daughter. He remarks on the value of some hymn books, but the pensioners actually benefit from that too, with his playing for them. He did mention that when there was not enough money for their stipends it was made up for the pensioners.

No opinion yet on the Grantlys.


So John Mize wrote on Mrs Grantly:

Trol: The Warden: Mrs. Grantly From: John Mize

I haven't seen much of Mrs. Grantly, but I like the little bit I've seen. She knows that her husband is something of an overly zealous fool, but she seems to love him anyway. She tries to moderate his foolishness without offending his pride or embarrassing him. I've been to a lot of parties where a man would say something foolish, and I would see his wife look at him with amused, affectionate contempt, as if to say "There he goes again." That's fine as long as the affection lasts. When s only the contempt is left, it's time to find some lawyers. I wouldn't quite say that Mrs. Grantly has contempt for the archdeacon, but she is certainly not awed by his office or his person.

John Mize

Then Sigmund Eisner replied to John Mize I don't agree with John Mize that Archdeacon Grantly is an over zealous fool. If he really were, Trollope would not like him, He is, of course, over zealous.

To which John Mize replied:

Calling him a fool, of course, betrays my own personal animus toward anyone who is convinced that his party, his sect, his country can do no wrong. I completely disagree with the statement, "My country, right or wrong," but I wouldn't be justified in calling Stephen Decatur a fool, although I might do so in one of my many uncautious moments. I still think Mrs. Grantly sees her husband as something of a fool. At the very least she thinks that his zealousness causes him to act foolishly on occasion, and she thinks that if he were more cunning and less impulsive, events would turn out better. I agree that Trollope likes Dr. Grantly more than I do, and I also don't think he completely approves of Mrs. Grantly's style of political expediency.

John Mize

PS; I still think Mrs. Grantly sees her husband as something of a fool.

Then Joan Wall entered the conversation:

I think perhaps that Mrs. Grantly sees her husband acting foolishly but does that make him a fool?


To which John Mize replied:

Maybe not, although there's a very thin line between acting foolishly and being something of a fool. Mrs. Grantly loves and respects Dr. Grantly, but she is not blind to his faults. She won't embarrass him in public, but she certainly seems to believe that he would be a much better archdeacon if he would only take her advice.

John Mize

Now Angela Richardson wrote in:

I've finally caught up with The Warden, and have enjoyed everyone's post thus far.

I always find starting a Trollope novel rather surprising, given that they were serialised and had to hold their own amongst serial literature. They are very slow at the start. (Or is that just me?)

But The Warden get to grips with the Big Issue quick enough. I particularly loved the scene with the Bishop and the moment when unable to speak the comfort Harding desired, he can do no more than indicate by physical contact that he sympathises with his friend's position.


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