The Warden, Chapters 13 - 19
Mr Harding's Long Day in London, Trollope in One of his Finest Moments; In Defense of The Jupiter; Trollope's Attitude Towards Newspapers; His Satire on Dickens, Carlyle and Pre-Raphaelite Art

NB: Anyone reading the following has to keep in mind that a number of the writers were reading Dickens's Bleak House at the same time as they were reading The Warden.

To Trollope-l

July 5, 1999

Re: The Warden, Chs 13-16: Focusing on Mr Harding (I)

As in just about each set of 4 chapters we have read in this book, this week we have two which concentrate almost wholly on Mr Harding's inner turmoil. The second of these, 'A Long Day in London' is one of my very favorite chapters in all Trollope: the first time I read it I felt that sense of surprise one gets when a work of art conveys touching beauty and truth. How few people ever tell the truth about such endurance trials which I daresay we all have known; how few authors could convey it as simply, unexaggeratedly and with such quiet ordinary fellow-sympathy. The chapter is Trollope's serious rebuke to the sentimental falsity of books like The Almshouse (Dickens is not the only author who has written such books) or the useless rant of Modern Charity (such pamphlets are still with us too).

The first of the two chapters is analogously paired with 'Mr Bold's Visit to Plumstead' on the one side, and 'Mount Olympus' on the other. As Mr Bold discovers that once you give other human beings some rational or cause by which they can vent their egos, protect their territories, or simply use up energy self-righteously in cohoots with others against 'the enemy' (one reason a lot of people become politicians -- how exhilarating it all is), you cannot just order them to stop because you think it's the decent or prudent thing to do; so Eleanor discovers that because she has stopped the initiator or most active instigator of the present goading of her father that does not mean he will rest satisfied or can return to peace. Mr Harding has been persuaded he has no right to the amount of income or house he enjoys -- or at least he has found that no one can come up with an argument that can persuade him he has such a right. Indeed, they have ignored the crux of the issue morally speaking altogether. They seem not to care about the moral grounds of his entitlement.

A neat political lesson here. Does the average person ever really care about the moral grounds of their income or comfortable life? Do people normally or ever examine the origins of their present comfortable state? On whose misery elsewhere it may also depend? In our own time the global economy keeps those who work in factories across the world for tiny sums making things we may buy in the US for very little out of sight. Some of us may notice people much closer to us on whose endurance of some burden our comfort also depends. Do we care enough to reciprocate or be grateful? Gratitude has never been an enjoyable virtue

The point of the story is Mr Harding cares. There are some people who do care. If we call him a saint, we have to have a rather low opinion of human nature, unless it be that the indifference most people feel towards everything but themselves is acceptable because it's common. Mr Harding is not a Mrs Jellyby pretending to care about those people across the world out of sight; the problem is one that centers on him -- we may note in passing that Mrs Jellyby doesn't care on whose misery her way of life clearly immediately depends (Caddy and her children). Mr Trollope seems also to care. He has bothered to write this sort of book -- which as he says did not sell very well and he would have done better from the point of view of money breaking stones. Admittedly Trollope's concern is more distanced: he wants us simply to recognise and define for ourselves where we fit in on the paradigm of attitudes he has laid out before us.

One of the more beautiful things about this laying out is its lack of sentimentality. It is a misreading of Mr Harding's comment to Eleanor that 'Mr Bold may do as he pleases about his suit, but I hope he will not abandon it for my sake' to think it simply shows the old man's generosity of spirit that he acknowledges Bold may be in the right. Mr Harding also says this because what Bold does is not important to him personally. What's important is the source of his agony: that is the public excoriation he will have to endure while believing he is probably in the wrong. What made Mr Harding decide to give up the Wardenship is Sir Abraham Haphazard's way of winning the case. Mr Harding refuses to hold on to income based on legal games, based on a technicality. In this chapter he keeps pointing to the Jupiter's latest argument:

'An action has been taken against Mr warden Harding, on behalf of the almsmen, by a gentleman acting solely on public grounds, and it is to be argued that Mr Harding takes nothing but what he receives as a servant of the hospital, and that he is not himself responsible for the amount of stipend given to him for his work Such a plea would doubtless be fair, if any one qustions the daily wages of a bricklayer employed on the building, or the fee of a charwoman who cleans it; but we cannot envy the feeling of a clergyman who could allow such an argument to be put in his mouth' (Oxford The Warden, ed DSkilton, Ch 13, p. 171).

Except Mr Harding will not allow it. He will go up to London, find out exactly what Sir Abraham Haphazard has in mind, and put a stop to this shameless exploitation of the wording of a document. Mr Harding would not last one minute in Dickens's Chancery: he cannot bear 'such a plea:'

'They shall not put forward this plea on my behalf,' continued the Warden. 'Whatever may be the truth of the matter, that at any rate is not true, and the man who wrote that article is right in saying that such a plea is revolting to an honest mind. I will go up to London, my dear, and see those lawyers for myself, and if no better excuse can be made for me than that, I and the hospital will part ... there are some things that a man cannot bear, -- I cannot bear that' (p. 174)

The worm turns not because he is upset at the sarcastic personal remarks in the Jupiter but because he will not allow himself to be a party to an amoral procedure. He would have to agree with The Jupiter were he to sit still.

Mr Harding's decision is not, however, put forward in an unqualified way. He is not simply an exemplar -- indeed to some, especially to the Archdeacon and to Sir Abraham, he is a fool, a cowardly fool, a nervous nelly (to use a phrase which became in the Vietnam war a popular way to bad-mouth those who didn't want to carry on bombing the place). Says Mr Harding, it is necessary that he act

'before the archdeacon can -- can interfere ... He'll say I want moral courage, and strength of character, and power of endurance, and it's all true ...' (p. 175).

There is tension here and distancing. The tension arises from the perception which Mr Harding acknowledges that some will say he's a coward, a man without strength of character and power of endurance. I suggest the chapter called 'A Long Day in London' is written to counter this idea: endurance Mr Harding has; the chapter in which he defies Sir Abraham who stands for the world's opinion is written to show us Mr Harding's strength of character. It takes great strength of character to buck the world's opinion. I will hold on that one until next week. What Mr Harding does show is intense stress. He knows he can be bullied when it come to a face-to-face confrontation. So he runs away and works hard to avoid this confrontation until he can reach the man who is said to be his attorney in court, working on his behalf. He wants to reach him to tell him to desist -- and he can and does manage this. The reason we don't dislike Mr Harding as a martyr or false exemplar or scorn him is Trollope's next chapter tells us the truth: the Warden's behavior is mean in the sense of unheroic as heroes have normally been thought of. Trollope's definition of hero is much different from that of the warrior ideal.

The question is, Is Mr Harding right to give up the income? Mr Harding never argues this; what he argues is, I am right for me. 'Everyone knows where his own shoe pinches!' (P. 175). Given his notions of what is ethical decent and humane behavior, what one human being owes to others and to himself truly (not in law), he would be in the wrong to keep that income. It would scorch him to be presented as an exemplar of shameless ruthlessness on behalf of some group of men. He's not that. Maybe others are and will call him Quixotic. As Tom Towers says, if Mr Harding gives up the income, so what? Another man will simply take it. Mr Harding will not change the established hierarchy of his world by his act. Not for a moment does he kid himself he is doing these particular old men any good at all.


RE: The Warden, Chs 13-16: Focusing on Mr Harding (II)

There have been so many critics who have written about Mr Harding's 'act of conscience' as Trollope's ironical presentation of a moral victory. Robert Polhemus says

'For Trollope, the health of society and peace of mind rest ultimately on the strength of personal conscience and the ability of men to act unselfishly ... Our next reaction ought to be to ask ourselves what kind of thing an act of conscience is. Moral courage does not usually mean making a grand gesture of universal signficance or championing some cause that everyone around you believes in. Most often, it means upholding a poit of veiw when those close to you, who have the power to hurt you, disagree with you. Harding is funny -- a few proud thoughts and a splurge on a cab can make a celebration for him -- but he is also admirable. He can do that difficult thing of 'holding to his own purpose' (The Changing World of AT, pp. 25-34).

The above is typical of the way people who have written about The Warden have read the significance of Mr Harding's decision.

The only place where I disagree with the above is Polhemus doesn't sufficiently into account the irony or comedy that is created through allowing us to see Mr Harding as the world would also see him: he's sneaking about, a runaway schoolboy, an 'old cock' who is an innocent and absurd (Oxford Warden, ed Skilton, Ch 16, p. 225), someone who is just a tiny cog in the huge world of the city which he has to fit into somehow or other (and yet not spend much -- a common problem in spending a long day in the city). It's funny, he and the waiter whispering together (pp. 216-217). Why should they whisper? How many times does Trollope refer to Mr Harding as our 'poor friend.' It made me remember sweet Mr Woodhouse in Emma who refers to everyone with the compassionate epithet 'poor' (poor Emma, poor Harriet, poor Miss Taylor that was).

How many old men there are in this book. How unmacho almost all the men in it are. Maybe that's the origin of the great joke about Sir Abraham's clause which demands all the nuns be searched to the skin 'for Jesuitical symbols' by 'aged clergymen' (Ch 16, p. 214)

A. O. J. Cockshut writes of Mr Harding in the context of Trollope's later novellas (Cousin Henry) and other novels in which the act of moral courage is to walk away from what everyone says is desirable -- and must therefore be good. Cockshut's words apply to Mr Harding's long day in London: Trollope shows us 'things are not what they seem; the calm and ordinary mask violence and despair; and yet the calm and ordinary are not a sham'. (Trollope need not create a Miss Flite to get beneath the calm and ordinary.) Mr Harding is Trollope's first 'moral touchstone' in a series of many others (I think of Mrs Orme in Orley Farm). More, Mr Harding 'stands for everything the Victorian was supposed not to admire: he continually apologises for himself all the while he casts doubt on validity of ambition and importance of money'. Says Cockshut, Mr Harding's act is justified because through Trollope's presentation of his and other similar cases Trollope shows us an amoral 'void at centre of things' (Cockshut, _AT_, pp 151-53) -- which I would add can only be compensated for by an attempt at loving those who truly love. That's what Mrs Orme does; Mr Harding too.

I suppose Mr Harding's long day in London is also a comedy of loneliness. It is the vision of the outsider -- Mr Harding reminds me of Candide at moments, with just a touch of Pangloss. We get continual satiric perceptions about our world undercut by Mr Harding's nervousness and humility or lack of certainty about the universal applicability of his judgements.. For example, Mr Harding registers no illusions about Westminster Abbey: what show can carry on for years with an inadequate and uninterested audience. No wonder it doesn't come off (The Warden, pp 217-220).

Mr Harding doesn't dread illusions because he seems not to have any (as do both Bold and Grantly). The picture of him on the omnibus is quite similar to that of Father John's trip to Dublin on behalf of Thady Macdermot (where he too is going to see a Big Man, a lawyer for advice). Mr Harding may not know about the secret dens of iniquity hidden away in corners of a shell-fish house; he orders a pint of sherry because he thinks he ought to. I have done that sort of thing. Then it comes and of course it's foul. He takes his punishment pretty well -- which is also to pay for it. On the other hand, Mr Harding realises the world doesn't have all that much to offer better than to be left alone with 'a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee' -- as long as one has the money for these (p. 227)

Maybe, as Cockshut says, the essence of the situation is that Mr Harding acts alone. I agree: we all must act alone finally. It's no good saying you were taking orders from someone else. That's the moral level. Psychologically, Cockshut shows us that in so many characters in Trollope we see that 'loneliness is inherent in certain natures and little influenced by circumstances' (Cockshut, pp 151-53). Yet he makes us not reject this insight because the chapter is written in such a way that we are led to identify. No false pride here.

Ellen Moody

Re: The Warden, Chs 13-16: The Satire

Earlier this week someone said he (or she) simply enjoyed the literary satire of 'Mount Olympus' and 'Mr Sentiment'. Me too. It was funny. I grinned. Perhaps it's my 18th century background. I have seen editions of Tom Jones which leave the introductory essay-chapters to each book by the satiric narrator (a face of Fielding) out. To me that's leaving out the high points of the book. I can better see leaving out the plot chapters and just providing the introductory essays. They are what I remember best, their sharp, bitter, melancholy, hilarious send-ups. A book is a meal; Fielding is our cook; love is an appetite.

On the other hand, I don't think it's just my reading of many 18th century novels which unashamedly pause and provides all sorts of literary treats before the action and characters resume their merry or not-so-merry doings. Many modern novels -- in fact the more erudite and respected kind people study in universities -- just stop the action to play games with us. Of course there's Ulysses; Pynchon's books. There's a whole French school of such writers whose books are extraordinary: the man who wrote a book in French without an e. I have read most of George Perec's Life: A User's Manual: each chapter is supposed to be the equivalent of some part of a building; short ones are the stairs. Some of these remind me of chapters in Alice in Wonderland. Then there's Umberto Eco's disquisitions upon medieval philosphy in The Name of the Rose. As James said (though himself did not practice), there are many houses in fictions; there are also many kinds of rooms; some of these provide humor, and some of the most enjoyable humor is of the lashing kind. Satire is aggressive; it meant to offend.

In the 17th century people still spelt the word 'satyr' and with good reason. The central device of satire is invective. Its mood is burlesque and parody. The idea is to mock and deride. When someone writes a satire, he is not supposed to be fair. If we look at our greatest satirists we find them to be wholly unfair. Swift argues that his contempoary Englishmen and women are doing the equivalent of cooking and eating up every and each child born in Ireland. Devouring them. He says each and every child in Ireland would be better off were it so eaten. The rage of the man turns to rant and when it does his texts are at most effective. Satirists don't mean to be nice; they don't mean to have their testimony taken into a court and examined by the cool light of balanced judgements. Pope is making points about what he sees as the coming domination of dunces (half-educated, cant-ridden, 'tame' writers) over an earlier ideal which was elitist, non-commercial, and about writing for a chosen few. To complain that Trollope is unfair to Tom Towers and the Jupiter is to read The Dunciad and and feel sorry for Colley Cibber, Lewis Theobald and Eliza Haywood. I hazard a guess at least Cibber wasn't in the least bothered; Dickens, Carlyle and the journalists of Trollope's day kept going to the bank unbothered because unimpeded by Mr Trollope's satire of them in his The Warden. Of course you had better watch out who you hurt and if they really feel threatened: Defoe ended up in the pillory and he was actually badly hit by the mob.

Naturally, if you are earnestly attached to something that you don't want to be mocked, if the satirist manages to hit some sacred cow of yours, you might not be amused. Those who have written justifying satire say that's the point. Dryden says the satirist has succeeded when he cuts the head of someone off (metaphorically of course), they are bleeding, and it takes a few minutes for them to realise it, and then get very mad. I suppose Shadwell never forgave Dryden. There are points being made in Chapters 14 and 15, but the fun -- let us admit it -- is not in the morality but in release. One of the best books on satire I know is by Gilbert Highet, An Anatomy of Satire: he takes us from the beast fable, through diatribe, parody, distorting mirrors. He disagrees with those moralists who want to defend satire by saying how it makes the world a better place because it has a moral point. Highet writes that satire 'must pretend to be a photograph and in fact be a caricature ... display the more ridiculous and repellent qualities of what is exposed, exaggerate, disparage, and especially treat whatever is being examined as hypocrisy. At the same time, he argues that the best satirist or ironists are those who play with morality and lose themselves in the joy of their language, in the vehicle (forgetting the supposed jusification).

From this point of view the problem with these two chapters is they are relatively short, controlled within the terms of the fiction: Bold visits Tom Towers, finds a copy of Modern Charity, buys the first number of The Almshouse. They also fit the themes of the story: Trollope's main complaint against The Jupiter and Tom Towers in the chapters is that Towers is not accountable and is using a pretense of disinterest to make himself powerful and rich. In a couple of serious articles Trollope published elsewhere he inveighed against anonymity. Trollope's secondary complaint is that this newspaper is so dominant and people accept what is written as true, do not think for themselves, and it can foster a sort of mob-as- majority rule. In The New Zealander he says the newspapers as mass media was a wholly new element in politics in the 19th century, and I think much he says there is relevant and still true as long as we substitute the letters TV for The Times. The first thing regimes who fight civil wars do when they take over is seize the TV station. Media is a powerful tool not for education but propaganda.

Still that's not why I laughed -- though admittedly Trollope was not upsetting or bothering any convictions of mine here. I am sceptical and pessimistic about people's professed virtuous motives. I know it seems to most liberals conservative to want to see information disseminated whatever it is, even when it's distorted. I fear this idea depends on the notion the truth will set us free. Many liberals persist in the notion the reason people vote conservatively is they are deluded; they just don't have the information they need; somehow they are being tricked. The history of the 20th century will not bear this out. Told much truth about many things and people will not vote for a humane decent arrangement. I need not instance how it takes thousands to run concentration camps, and thousands upon thousands to remain silent and indifferent about them.

True the satirist often has a personal motive. He is personally mad. He is sometimes jealous. Pope was jealous of Cibber. Swift raged that people didn't want to listen to him; they didn't care about corruption, the starvation of others. Satirists want to get back too. Thomas Nashe was not a nice guy in this respect: but funny, oh yes, very funny -- and salacious. Read his 'A Choice of Valentine -- or Nashe his Dildo'. Trollope writes The Warden as his alternative to The Almshouse technique knowing Dickens will make far more money than he. He admits that such novels make far more immediate effect than libraries of educated judicious papers on social problems and What Is To Be Done. Carlyle is thought a deep genius and he, Mr Trollope, isn't. Alas, alas, how unfair the world is. But he will get a few in.

I did get some jokes this time round I hadn't got before. I am better read in 19th century literature. (Satire is always contemporary and immediate in its surface references.) For example, I had never understood the paragraphs on despatch boxes. I have since last reading realised a despatch box was the 19th century word for briefcase. So Trollope is writing a parody of Carlyle in which Carlyle inveighs against the serene faces and briefcases of politicians who expect us to trust them because they are so confident, learned (all the papers in the briefcase you see), have things under control. In fact that's sort of funny and makes me like Carlyle. I loathe people who present a serene face and briefcase as their visibilia, their costume, their proof they deserve to be this year's flunky-statesman.

I use flunky because I like the word and it seems to have been a favorite word of Carlyle's. Witness his:

'This action of the English Regicides [the execution of Charles I, accompanied by the death warrant, signed first by John Bradshaw, then Thomas Grey, then Oliver Cromwell, and then 56 more] did in effect strike a damp like death through the heart of Flunkyism universally in this world. Whereof Flunkyism, Cant, Cloth-worship, or whatever ugly name it have, has gone about incurably sick ever since; and is now at length, in these generations, very rapidly dying.. ' Thomas Carlyle, Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, Vol II, p 94).

Yeah, I hate flunkism, cloth worship. I see 'cant' up there: a word I too like to use. Trollope puts the word toady into Mr Pessimist Anticant's rhetoric. Well I loathe toadies. Especially stuffy ones who demand respect. I arise from reading Trollope's send up of Mr Sentiment and Mr Anticant much amused. They have their faults -- Carlyle and Dickens -- though the amorality and unaccountability of newspapers are the more serious ones.

Cheers to all,

Subject: [trollope-l] Trol: The Warden, Mr. Harding's Day in London

From: John Mize

I agree with Ellen that the chapter in which Mr. Harding has to kill a day in London before meeting with Abraham Haphazard is one of the best in the book. Mr. Harding comes across as admirable and heroic, and at the same time, slightly ridiculous. He knows that he can't stand up to Dr. Grantly, but he refuses to let Grantly change his mind, so he has to hide from Grantly. He has no idea what to do with himself, because there is no place for him in London. In much the same way, no one really cares about his conscience or the reason for his decision to give up his position as warden. No one will respect his conscience. Both Tom Towers and Dr. Grantly see the controversy as just another battle for or against the power of the church. They don't really care too much about the merits of the particular case; they are more interested in who wins. Towers doesn't care who the warden is, and Grantly will view the warden's decision as a case of cowardice and lack of nerve.

Trollope really seems to have overstated his case against the Jupiter. He gives the paper much too much power. I can see Harding thinking that everyone will believe the Jupiter's opinion, but Trollope seems to accept Harding's belief as true. Doesn't the church have its own propagandists who will defend Harding and attack the old men? Harding, of course, would reject their defense, in much the same way he rejects Grantly's counsel, but he wouldn't be alone unless he did resign. If he does resign, his enemies won't thank him, and his friends will attack him. No one except his daughter will understand why he did what he did.

I did enjoy Trollope's attack on Carlyle and Dickens. I've never read Carlyle, mainly because from what I've read about him, I didn't expect to like the man. He sounds like the sort of angry, conceited blowhard Trollope makes him out to be. One of Carlyle's enemies once said that God was merciful in having Jane and Thomas Carlyle marry each other. That way only two people were miserable instead of four. I have read Dickens and tend to agree with Trollope. Dickens' novels do start out well and then fade. At least I tend to lose interest. I also agree that Dickens' secondary characters are almost always better than the primary ones. I will probably never forget Mr. Micawber, but about all I can remember about David Copperfield is his name. I think the reasons are much the same. Dickens tells us all there is to know about a character or a situation in a few words. When he continues, we usually don't learn anything new. We just get more of the same.

John Mize

From: Judith Moore

I agree with Ellen's singling out of this chapter as exceptional -- I feel it all painfully -- the wandering around a city without having a home in it, the sense of being all wrong every place one goes. I did wonder, though, what sort of toilet facilities were available to Mr. Harding throughout this long day. Does anyone know? The present arrangements in Westminster Abbey at least seem to sate from the nineteenth century!

Judith Moore

Laurie Guilfoyle responded to one by Sig which I have (unfortunately) lost:


I agree with Sig re: the chapter on the Jupiter and Tom Towers. Trollope pastes it up so that it is "over the top," thus losing it's sting. Trollope also ignores the powerfully progressive nature of journalism-to shine a light on what is and not accept the status quo. After all, (even) Mr. Harding himself came to be unsettled and troubled by his wardenship. Laurie Reply-to: Subject: [trollope-l] The Warden: The Jupiter: SPOILER ALERT

From: "Ginger Watts"

I've had a change of mind about waiting until next week to post a few words of defense on the Jupiter, and instead will post them now. Since this is part of next week's chapters, it may seem a SPOILER for some.

I'll try to keep it short. First, I am not saying that the Jupiter served nothing but good purposes, any more than I made a complete defense of Grantly. I said that Grantly was rude in his last interview with Bold, and he's been rude and irascible at other times, along with a few more not so nice adjectives. To defend some aspect of a person or thing is not to defend the whole. I get the impression that Trollope tries to make the Jupiter seem all bad. This is unlike the later Trollope, who can usually see good and bad in everyone or thing. So I just want to point to one not-so-bad facet of the Jupiter. I

n Ch. 14 Trollope writes satirically about the Jupiter. The problem here is that it's effective when he keeps it general, but it can become strained as he gets down to more particular examples (isn't this similar to what he himself later says about Dr. Anticant?). Just one example should suffice. Trollope writes, "Look at our generals, what faults they make; at our admirals, how inactive they are. What money, honesty, and science can do, is done; and yet how badly are our troops brought together, fed, conveyed, clothed, armed, and managed. The most excellent of our good men do their best to man our ships, with the assistance of all possible external appliances; but in vain. All, all is wrong -- alas! alas! Tom Towers, and he alone, knows all about it. Why, oh why, ye earthly ministers, why have ye not followed more closely this heaven-sent messenger that is among us?"

And he was writing this around the time of the Crimean War! What a mess the generals made of that war. E. L. Woodward, The Age of Reform 1815-1870 in the Oxford History of England series, has this to say (in 1938), "The British public knew more about the horrors of the Crimea than they had known about previous wars. For the first time newspaper correspondents followed the campaign ... During the years of peace the standard of administrative efficiency in Great Britain had risen to an extent not realized at the time. The public expected more of its civil servants and departments of state ... The high command of the army and the civilian heads of the supply departments deserved much of the blame thrust upon them. The professional soldiers had done little to develop the scientific side of their profession; they had made few protests against inadequate conditions of training." And it goes on to compare mortality rates and monetary expenditures for convicts vs. the British soldier, to the detriment of the soldier serving in England (it was even worse abroad).

And later, World War I. Read what Barbara Tuchman says about England's politicians and generals (and those of other participants) at the beginning of WWI in The Guns of August. I think that Trollope goes too far in implying that the military should be beyond press observance.

More could be said, but I don't think it's necessary. Consider just this one point: In muzzling the press, Trollope is defending the status quo. I note, however, that Trollope learned with experience. In his later Palliser novels he concentrated his criticism of the press (in the person of Quintus Slide instead of Tom Towers) more on the gutter element, not the press as a whole, and he showed that even Slide's bark was greater than his bite, giving Slide much less power to control events than he ascribed to Towers.

Having said that, I'm now going to take a little self-imposed holiday from posting. I'll stay on the trollope-l list and read with interest all the contributions from you good people. But I've so much to read, so much to write, that I'll retire from posting for an indefinite time, with all good intention of returning to active participation later.

Gene Stratton

Gene, though, again posted on his view that The Warden is an immmature work, this time focusing on Trollope's satire of the Pre-Raphaelite painting in Tom Towers' room.

June 30, 1999

Re: The Warden: Trollope the Anti-Sybarite

I sincerely hope this will be my last disagreement with Gene. I enjoyed his comments on The Jupiter very much. But Trollope's satire on Pre-Raphaelite art is no sign that this novel is inferior or crude or juvenile work at all. Throughout Trollope's novels -- from first to last -- he includes such passages. I can think of book after book where Trollope drops his story and suddenly launches into a sermon or satire or parody of law, courts, newspapers, music, the organization of the church, how politics operates -- all sorts of things, and makes it all the more trenchant because the book is longer and has all sorts of complex kinds of art. Some of these in his most admired of books (Orley Farm, the Phineas books) and some of these in those very sections people pick out as remarkably original (the campaign in Ralph the Heir). Very late in his career Trollope is writing the same kind of satire of pictures in his novels.

Trollope also never gives up his tendency to drop the pretense we are reading a real history, never adverse to interrupting our reverie and reminding us we are reading a story and we are his story-teller, never adverse to mocking the pretentious and false. This typical procedure of Trollope's offended Henry James continually; he rated Trollope inferior because Trollope doesn't hold to the realistic illusion when it doesn't suit his purposes. He is no conventional writer holding to any rules and likes to play with reader's expectations. Nowadays writers are praised for this kind of "self-reflexivity" by critics like J. Hillis Miller.

In the case in point, Trollope's satire of the stylised pre- Raphaelite allegorical pictures on Tom Tower's wall, next week's chapters also include other satires and parodic imitations of what Trollope sees as false, as posturing, as what is 'humbug' created by 'self-satisfied prigs'. He uses these words of Towers; but the meaning of his satire of Carlyle and Dickens is the same. It is true that later in his career Trollope was delighted to have Millais do the illustrations for his books -- but in these Millais draws in a naturalistic way wholly different from the stylised work here mocked. The context is also appropriate: it is peculiarly ironic that Towers would have such a picture on his wall. Trollope is in agreement with those who think the religious allegoresis that some of the Pre-Raphaelites used as a justification of sexy pictures is hypocritical. Towers is, as we can see from all the other objects in his room, a Sybarite.

On the issue of illustrations to Trollope's novels, I'll just one of my chapters in my book is on these. Much as I respect N. John Hall's book, he is not thorough and only goes through a few of Trollope's books. Millais was only one of the illustrators of Trollope's books, and, as others have written (Michael Masson), we see in Trollope's choices a strong tendency to the realistic or graphic school which was a variant on the idyllic Pre-Raphaelites. Trollope also turned to Henry Woods, George Housman Thomas, Francis Arthur Fraser, Francis Montague Holl. Fraser and Holl are particularly interesting; the illustrations for Ralph the Heir about real life out of an originally Pre-Raphaelite mode. Trollope changed his tastes as he went through his career. I would say the only kind of art he showed a repeated distaste for was the caricature of the type he was faced with in the illustrations for the first half of Can You Forgive Her by Hablot Browne. Trollope's complaint was they were unreal and didn't present the full burden of human complexity in his texts. That Millais did. That's what he mocks in Tom Towers's taste on the wall: at least Grantly goes for an art that satisfies the appetite (Rabelais); Towers is a hypocrite even in his secret pleasures, even when he is alone. That makes me think of Slope who is similarly excoriated.

There are more ways to write a good book than to be consistently realistic. Throughout The Warden Trollope has made it plain he only uses realism up to a point in this short book. More important to him in this book is the pattern, the insoluble issue. In this The Warden is very like Trollope's other short books. They are all nouvelles in the the sense Edith Wharton uses and defines them: simplifications of what is believable. The Warden has its own quality. One aspect of this is Trollope's determination to argue the art of others is false, a lie, or wrong-headed because coming out of or appealing to small minds in one way or another. He, Trollope, will prove this by writing a book which replaces the false: The Warden is his answer to Dickens, to Carlyle, to the newspapers he has been reading, to the hypocrisy he sees all around him which he sees as inhumane or based on a wholly inadequate understanding of human nature and how people respond to the circumstances of their existence. Trollope's first two books are also attempts to show his fellow artists how better to do it: write real tragedy, don't pretty it up; put it in a political context to give a full explanation of what's happening (The Macdermots); write a comedy based on a real milieu of culturally-grounded characters (The Kellys). In fact, as Kincaid says, it is remarkable how Trollope challenged himself from the beginning to the end of his career. His historical novel (La Vendée) failed so he went on to write a political fable that is highly original and brilliant in its continuing relevance to our world today and vital felt life (The Warden).

Ellen Moody

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Page Last Updated 11 January 2003