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Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope - lyzard tutoring souloftherose

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Oct 28, 2012, 7:18pm Top

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1857)

Welcome, all! Following on from our tutored read of The Warden (thread here), Heather and I will now be reading the second volume in Anthony Trollope's "Chronicles Of Barsetshire".

Barchester Towers was a huge success, and the novel that established Anthony Trollope's professional reputation; it remains perhaps his most popular work, although some people prefer the more serious, social / political novels of his later career.

Trollope began writing Barchester Towers shortly after the publication of The Warden. However, while The Warden was ultimately a success, it was not so immediately; it took some time to find its audience. When Trollope told his publishers that he was working on a sequel*, they strongly discouraged him from pursuing it. Disappointed, Trollope did stop working on his new novel, and put his uncompleted manuscript aside.

(*Anthony Trollope was the first novelist to write "sequels" and "series" as we now understand them. Thank or blame him as you see fit.)

However, subconsciously Trollope must have realised that he was "onto something" with his examination of the mid-century religious establishment, because in the end he couldn't leave it alone. Furthermore, the novel that became Barchester Towers, which initially Trollope had intended to be effectively a simple re-working of the themes of The Warden, emerged from its longer incubation an altogether more complex and wide-ranging story.

(Amusingly, there is a chronological error in the plot of Barchester Towers, which mirrors how long the manuscript sat in a drawer, rather than how much time has passed for the characters. Trollope didn't revise his early chapters when he resumed writing, and you can almost feel where the creative hiatus took place.)

The fact that Barchester Towers is a comedy should not be allowed to obscure the fact that it is dealing with subject matter that many of Trollope's readers would have taken very seriously indeed. The 19th century was a time of religious conflict in England; but unlike the more familiar Protestant / Catholic or Christian / Jewish conflict, this was largely about factional in-fighting amongst the Anglicans. On one hand there was the increased importance and prominence of the dissenting factions, with the new urbanised working-class drawn to the Methodist and Unitarian sects; on the other, there was a struggle between the "High Church" and "Low Church" factions of the established church. At the same time, with the removal of various legal and social restrictions, the Catholic church was also more prominent; and there were a series of high-profile conversions to Catholicism, most notably that of John Henry Newman, who had been an important figure in the "Oxford Movement", which tried to restore many older, more traditional forms of worship to the Church of England.

It was also a matter of church vs state. Parliament had the power to make and enforce laws about the operation of the Church of England, which was a state of affairs that many found intolerable, since the reform of Parliament itself across the 19th century meant that there were Members of the House of Commons who belonged to other churches and religions, or who were of no religion at all, forcing the reform of the established church. (That Irish Catholics were involved was considered by many an outrage.) However, as Trollope makes clear in The Warden, there were certainly practices that needed reforming, including absenteeism, pluralism, and the misuse of church funds. The functioning of Oxford University, which was the stronghold of the High Church faction, was another target for the reformists.

These were matters that many people viewed with deadly earnestness; few novelists dared tackle them. The ones that did usually did so in a spirit of confrontation and sabre-rattling, and the results are more like lectures than novels. In contrast, in Barchester Towers, as John Kenneth Galbraith puts it, Anthony Trollope managed to write "...a topical novel on a contentious subject which from the first seems to have aroused amusement and affection rather than controversy."

The main action of Barchester Towers revolves around the consequences of the arrival of a Low Church bishop in what has been a High Church enclave. (Briefly, as we discussed with respect to The Warden, the "High Church" faction was a part of the traditional, aristocracy / gentry hierarchy, and allied politically with the Conservatives; the "Low Church" faction was in favour of a simplification of worship, with less emphasis upon ritual and more individualism, and was allied with the Liberals.)

Trollope is fully in sympathy with the High Church faction; but he is nevertheless perfectly aware of the errors and absurdities to be found on that side of the fence. The beauty of Barchester Towers is that he finds quite as much to laugh at in the people with whom he is siding as in those he is opposing.

Now---if you are new to this novel, don't let the religious / political framework of this novel worry you or frighten you off! Above all, Barchester Towers is a novel of characters - and the novel that established the reputation of Trollope as a writer of characters, with, in my opinion, four of the 19th century's greatest appearing in the one novel: not only does he bring back Mr Harding and Dr Grantly (and of course, Mrs Grantly) from The Warden, but he introduces Mrs Proudie, the new bishop's wife, truly one of English literature's Immortals, and also the unforgettable Obadiah Slope.

However, my favourite stroke in Barchester Towers is the Stanhope family, of whom the chatty narrator has this to say:

Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so often be exceedingly improper...?

Oct 27, 2012, 8:41pm Top

Before anyone panics, I should mention that although I took the opportunity of a gap in my schedule to start the thread for Barchester Towers, the tutored read proper probably won't be beginning until the middle of the week. Heather has a chunkster to finish off first. :)

In the meantime, any intending lurkers, please identify yourselves - and if you have any questions about the background of the novel, or would like more explanation of anything I've said so far, please feel free to ask.

Oct 28, 2012, 5:20am Top

I read this earlier, not being able to wait after finishing The Warden, but I shall be following this thread as there were points that I would have liked clarified. It didn't mar my enjoyment of the book but I shall look forward to your explanations.

For any other readers I must recommend the audio version read by Timothy West. I listened to that and then read along with the print version. He is a wonderful reader and has done the whole of the Barchester Chronicles.

Oct 28, 2012, 7:31am Top

I'm in! Looking forward to this.

Oct 28, 2012, 5:28pm Top

Hi, Kerry and Laura - great to have you along! I hope we can clear up those points for you, Kerry. :)

Oct 28, 2012, 5:40pm Top

Hi Liz and Heather (and everybody else :) ), I'll be joining in again, I'm really happy you are doing this follow-up on The Warden, I've been looking forward to it!

Oct 28, 2012, 6:31pm Top

Hi, Britt! Good to have you back!

Oct 28, 2012, 7:15pm Top

I read this earlier this year and loved it. I'll be lurking - I loved your intro post Liz. I had figured some of what you wrote out while I read the book, but not in a systematic way.

Oct 28, 2012, 7:22pm Top

Welcome, Cushla! I hope, like Kerry, if there is anything you'd like clarified you'll let us know.

Oct 29, 2012, 6:02pm Top

In endeavouring to depict the characters of the persons of whom I write, I am to a certain extent forced to speak of sacred things. I trust, however, that I shall not be thought to scoff at the pulpit, though some may imagine that I do not feel all the reverence that is due to the cloth. I may question the infallibility of the teachers, but I hope that I shall not therefore be accused of doubt as to the thing to be taught.

---The Narrator, perhaps anticipating a more hostile reception for his story (or his way of telling it) than he ended up getting.

Oct 30, 2012, 10:32am Top

Thanks for setting this up Liz and a big welcome back to Kerry, Laura, Britt and Cushla :-)

"Heather has a chunkster to finish off first."

Actually, I got stuck at the train station for two hours yesterday without said chunkster (which is unfortunately a paper book) and read the first four chapters of BT once I'd finished my current ebook. Now, Liz, I'm aware your tutored read of The Monk hasn't finished yet - would you like me to wait until later in the week to post my questions. I can try to hold off carrying on with BT (although I really want to read more right now) until you've got less on your plate.

"he introduces Mrs Proudie, the new bishop's wife, truly one of English literature's Immortals, and also the unforgettable Obadiah Slope." Only four chapters in and I predict that I will love Mrs Proudie and Obadiah Slope :-)

Edited: Oct 31, 2012, 6:05pm Top

Hi, Heather!

The Monk will be ongoing for quite a while yet, I imagine, but hopefully I'll be able to juggle the two tutored reads simultaneously (she said, optimistically). So, if you're ready to start - let's start!

The only point we might need to discuss is how you prefer our lurkers to participate - do you want intermissions, or are you okay with ongoing questions as long as people don't rush ahead of where you're up to?

The other thing, I guess, since you've plunged ahead, is if you're okay with back-tracking a bit to make sure everyone's comfortable with those first few chapters, which (like the opening of The Warden) do plunge into contemporary issues that Trollope's readers would have been familiar with, but which are a bit baffling these days.

Oct 31, 2012, 6:02pm Top

I'm in! I'm in! And ready and willing to follow any rules you care to impose. This is making November look very bright.

Oct 31, 2012, 6:07pm Top

Whoo! Hi, Peggy! :)

Oct 31, 2012, 9:26pm Top

I'll be following along too, and looking forward to a re-read of an old favourite. I have an e-copy downloaded onto my smartphone ready to take with me on holiday next week.

Oct 31, 2012, 9:42pm Top

That's great, Genny! I look forward to having you along as a consultant - and to hearing your opinion of Trollope's opinion of a woman's place in church matters! :)

Nov 1, 2012, 7:44am Top

I just finished a book and I'm now ready to dive in! I started this book once before but never finished, so the first part should be familiar.

Nov 1, 2012, 5:12pm Top

Somehow I forgot to star this thread after commenting on it and only found it again today - oops.

I'm happy for there to be ongoing questions rather than formal intermissions (I guess we could rethink that if it gets too overwhelming but I don't think it will). I'd prefer it if people didn't ask questions ahead of where I've got to in the book though.

#12 "if you're okay with back-tracking a bit to make sure everyone's comfortable with those first few chapters" No that's fine, I was planning to post questions for those chapters (I highlighted bits as I was reading) but I didn't want to surprise you with them ahead of schedule without checking. And then I lost the thread anyway so now we're back on schedule!

And welcome Genny and Laura :-)

Edited: Nov 3, 2012, 1:53am Top


Hi, Laura!

I started this book once before but never finished

I know, those first few chapters are killers, aren't they? :)


I'm glad you found us - I was about to send out a search party!

Anyway---I'm ready to start whenever you are. Lurkers, please feel free to add questions or comments regarding the chapters that Heather identifies.

Nov 1, 2012, 5:35pm Top

Chapter 1: Who Will be the New Bishop

1. "The death of old Dr. Grantly" Oh no!!! :-(

2. took place exactly as the ministry of Lord –––– was going to give place to that of Lord ––––. The illness of the good old man was long and lingering, and it became at last a matter of intense interest to those concerned whether the new appointment should be made by a conservative or liberal government."

Is there something more significant here than just a change in government? Had there recently been a change in government when this was published?

3. "There is a proverb with reference to the killing of cats"

I feel like I should know what this proverb is but I can't remember it and I'm a bit scared of what a google search might bring up...

4. "Such a whisper had been made, and was known by those who heard it to signify that the cures of the diocese of Barchester should not be taken out of the hands of the archdeacon."

Is cure a church word (something to do with curate) rather than a medical cure here?

5. "The then prime minister was all in all at Oxford, and had lately passed a night at the house of the Master of Lazarus. Now the Master of Lazarus—which is, by the by, in many respects the most comfortable as well as the richest college at Oxford"

I'm reasonably certain that there is no such college at Oxford - is a particular college being parodied here?

6. "Dr. Grantly returned from Oxford, happy and elated, to resume his place in the palace and to continue to perform for the father the last duties of a son, which, to give him his due, he performed with more tender care than was to be expected from his usual somewhat worldly manners."

And this from later in the passage:

"Thus he thought long and sadly, in deep silence, and then gazed at that still living face, and then at last dared to ask himself whether he really longed for his father's death.

The effort was a salutary one, and the question was answered in a moment. The proud, wishful, worldly man sank on his knees by the bedside and, taking the bishop's hand within his own, prayed eagerly that his sins might be forgiven him."

Nuanced characters :-) I was beginning to feel a bit annoyed with the younger Dr Grantly before Trollope said this.

7. "Sir Lamda Mewnew and Sir Omicron Pie, the two great London doctors"

I love the names! Is Trollope parodying anyone in particular here? The names are made up of Greek letters but beyond that I'm baffled.

8. "He had brought himself to pray for his father's life, but now that that life was done, minutes were too precious to be lost. It was now useless to dally with the fact of the bishop's death—useless to lose perhaps everything for the pretence of a foolish sentiment."

I guess we couldn't expect it to last too long.

9. "For the Earl of ––––, Downing Street, or elsewhere."

The Earl of --- is the Prime Minister?

10. "how he all but swore as he remembered how much too clever one of them had been—my creative readers may imagine"

Does Trollope have a particular politician in mind?

11. "For the Earl of ––––,
With the Earl of ––––'s compliments"

It would be much less confusing if he could use something other than --- for people's names...

12. "The names of many divines were given in the papers as that of the bishop-elect. "The British Grandmother" declared that Dr. Gwynne was to be the man, in compliment to the late ministry. This was a heavy blow to Dr. Grantly, but he was not doomed to see himself superseded by his friend. "The Anglican Devotee" put forward confidently the claims of a great London preacher of austere doctrines; and "The Eastern Hemisphere," an evening paper supposed to possess much official knowledge, declared in favour of an eminent naturalist, a gentleman most completely versed in the knowledge of rocks and minerals, but supposed by many to hold on religious subjects no special doctrines whatever. "The Jupiter," that daily paper which, as we all know, is the only true source of infallibly correct information on all subjects, for awhile was silent, but at last spoke out. The merits of all these candidates were discussed and somewhat irreverently disposed of, and then "The Jupiter" declared that Dr. Proudie was to be the man."

The Jupiter is The Times. What were the other papers supposed to represent?

13. "nolo episcopari"


14. "He was his father's only child, and his father had left him great wealth. His preferment brought him in nearly three thousand a year. The bishopric, as cut down by the Ecclesiastical Commission, was only five. He would be a richer man as archdeacon than he could be as bishop."

But, if he became Bishop then wouldn't he have both (eight thousand)? Even just the bishopric on its own would be more than his three thousand?

As an aside, it felt a bit funny reading this chapter when there's also a lot of discussion in the media at the moment about who will be the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Although there are still lots of questions I felt like I understood this much more than the first chapter of The Warden :-) Thank you!

Nov 1, 2012, 5:53pm Top

I think I have fewer questions for the second chapter so I'll post them now and then leave the next two chapters for tomorrow.

Chapter 2: Hiram's Hospital According to Act of Parliament

1. "his daughter Mrs. Bold, now, alas, a widow"

They're dropping like flies! Poor Eleanor.

2. "It is singular enough that no adverse letter appeared at all, and, therefore, none of course was written."


3. "reformers of church charities were not slack to make known in various places their different nostrums for setting Hiram's Hospital on its feet again"

What is a nostrum?

4. "The first threatenings of a huge war hung heavily over the nation"

Erm, the only war I can think of is The Crimean War and I can't remember if that was the 1850s or not.

5. "The bill, however, did pass, and at the time at which this history is supposed to commence, it had been ordained that there should be, as heretofore, twelve old men in Barchester Hospital, each with 1s. 4d. a day; that there should also be twelve old women to be located in a house to be built, each with 1s. 2d. a day; that there should be a matron, with a house and £70 a year; a steward with £150 a year; and latterly, a warden with £450 a year, who should have the spiritual guidance of both establishments, and the temporal guidance of that appertaining to the male sex."

At this point I tried to go back to The Warden to see how this compared with the state of affairs before everyone started trying to improve things. The bedesmen are still on 1s. 4d. a day and they don't have the extra twopence a day Mr Harding gave them (or the extra £100 a year they were promised). I am pleased they've opened it up to women too although, of course, they don't receive as much money as the men do.

6. "The baby was really delightful; he took his food with a will, struck out his toes merrily whenever his legs were uncovered, and did not have fits."

Well, no-one likes a baby who has fits. Was this something a lot of babies suffered from then?

7. "He had bequeathed to her all that he possessed, and that comprised an income much exceeding what she or her friends thought necessary for her. It amounted to nearly a thousand a year"

By bequeath, does this mean she could touch the capital or did she just get the interest? If she had access to the capital was this normal for this period?

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 6:28pm Top

Whoo! We're off!

Or to put it another way---eek! So many questions!

Chapter 1: Who Will be the New Bishop

2. & 9. & 10. The first thing we need to note here, particularly for the benefit of anyone who might be thinking of going on to Trollope's political novels (she said, suggestively), is that it is always dangerous to read his political allusions as simple roman à clef. Certainly he references real events and real people, but he only rarely directly transcribes them.

We get an example of that in this first chapter. The outgoing Prime Minister, who is sketched as spending his last hours in office in a comfortable armchair reading the form-guide for the Newmarket races, is meant to be the Earl of Derby, who was Conservative Prime Minister (one of three times in office) during 1852. The incoming Liberal Prime Minister is meant to be Lord Palmerston - a Viscount, not an Earl - was indeed responsible for the appointing of a wave of Low Church bishops during his premiership. But Palmeston didn't become Prime Minister until 1855; there was a coalition government led by the Earl of Aberdeen in between, which Trollope ignores.

The significance of the change of government is that the Conservatives, who would appoint a High Church bishop (i.e. Dr Grantly), are being replaced by the Liberals, who will appoint a Low Church bishop.

Trollope's politicians, like his other characters, are real people not heroes - so he has to admit that instead of making noble speeches and swearing vengeance on his enemies, and plotting their overthrow, the Prime Minister is spending his last few hours in office with his feet up, taking it easy.

3. There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream...which somehow mutated into There's more than one way to skin a cat. (There isn't really.)

4. "The cure of souls" is an archaic way of say "the care of souls" - that is, the exercise of your duties as a minister. The use of "cure" in this sense means the care of a district.

5. Lazarus is indeed a fictional college; whether praising or criticising, Trollope avoids referring to any real Oxford college. (You might recall that they did the same thing - probably copying Trollope - in Yes, Minister.)

6. & 8. The presentation of Dr Grantly here highlights what I love about Trollope's writing - the way he manages to gently pull apart the mixed-up motives and tangled good and bad impulses of his characters. This passage with Dr Grantly is beautiful and painful and funny all at once, and adds new depth to someone who in The Warden was basically a comic character.

Of course Dr Grantly can't help having his worldly thoughts in spite of the situation, and his moving in and out of frustration and horror at himself and regret and sorrow and then back to frustration is wonderfully done, I think.

7. I don't think Trollope is parodying anyone in particular with his doctors, just having a little fun.

11. It was standard novel practice - particularly if you were referring to real people.

12. The other papers don't represent anything specific, this is just Trollope highlighting how factional the media was, and the different agends being pushed by different papers.

Yes, The Jupiter is back, though interestingly Trollope refers to The Times by name a bit later, presumably because he's just mentioning it, not criticising it.

13. When someone was offered a bishopric, it was traditional for him to reject the offer the first time by saying nolo episcopari - "I do not want to be a bishop." It didn't mean you actually didn't want to be a bishop. :)

14. His income as bishop would be two thousand a year more than as rector of Plumstead, but this would be counterbalanced by a very significant increase in expenditure associated with his new position. (We later find the Proudies fretting over the budget, and cutting corners.)

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 6:52pm Top

Ahhh!!! Chapter 2!!!

Chapter 2: Hiram's Hospital According to Act of Parliament

1. BTW, you should get used to the expression "Poor Eleanor!". We have not yet begun to feel sorry for her.

2. Ah, yes, The Jupiter is back, all right...

3. A remedy - particularly in the sense of a quack remedy.

4. Yes, that's a reference to the Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856), which dates the story for us.

5. ...while completely violating the terms of John Hiram's will, after all that. Typical.

6. Illnesses that might bring on fits in a baby - anything that caused a bad fever, for example - were certainly far more common and a lot harder to treat.

7. She has access to her capital, which is VERY unusual: John Bold has taken the outrageous step of actually leaving Eleanor with access to her entire income, instead of tying it up and putting trustees in charge of it. He was a man a little ahead of his time, we infer. :)

It's interesting that there was no clause in his will about the possibility of a child, which suggests he would have trusted her with his estate even if he'd known she was pregnant.

(Get ready for lots of snide remarks from other characters about how you can't trust a woman with that much money...)

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 6:53pm Top


Okay, lurkers - if you have anything to add about Chapters 1 and 2, please feel free! In the meantime, I'll look back over them and see if there's anything else I meant to say...

ETA: Ah, yes, there is - a very important thing!

Lots of novelists at this time were happy to show off their classical education by throwing around Greek and Latin, but Anthony Trollope seems to have been the first to happily expose himself as a novel-reader. There are all sorts of references to other novels and writers in Barchester Towers, starting with:

A young diplomat entertains a fair ambition when he looks forward to be the lord of a first-rate embassy; and a poor novelist, when he attempts to rival Dickens or rise above Fitzjeames, commits no fault, though he may be foolish.

This might require explanation, though certainly not the part about Dickens (which suggests that Trollope may have repented somewhat the harshness of his criticism of "Mr Popular Sentiment" in The Warden). "Fitzjeames" is a reference to William Makepeace Thackeray, who early in his career wrote a number of comic works - usually, supposedly, by footmen - in which the narrator also poses as the author. For example, Thackeray's The Diary Of C. Jeames de la Pluche is presented as being by one "Fitz-James De La Pluche".

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 10:17pm Top

Oh! And one more important thing! :)

Especially for people who are not broadly familiar with Trollope: here right at the outset we see his habit of toggling between third-person omniscient narrator, and a kind of first-person, eyewitness to the story he's telling. This breaking of the fourth wall drives some people nuts, I know, but it tends to be confined to the comic novels and, I think, adds to the humour.

On a related note, we see here also the way that Trollope separates himself from his characters - as if they were real people and he is therefore not responsible for their actions: I cannot say that with me John Bold was ever a favourite...

On the other hand, sometimes his breaking of the fourth wall takes the form of a reminder that it's just a novel - though again, this sort of thing is confined to the comedies.

The other thing that Trollope does - and he discusses this directly with the reader in the course of Barchester Towers - is that sometimes he gives away his endings, which is another thing that drives some people crazy. That is, he might tell you at the outset that Person A and Person B will get married in the end. This is because he considers his novels to be about the journey, not the destination - so the issue is not whether Person A and Person B get married, but how it comes about. This habit, too, tends to confine itself to the comic novels. We should also note that he only tells you things he thinks are self-evident, and that he certainly doesn't tell you everything.

In Barchester Towers, for example, he doesn't tell you who one character will marry, but he does tell you who that character will NOT marry - on the grounds that if you thought otherwise, you have completely misunderstood that character. :)

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 10:18pm Top

Don't let me stop anyone from commenting upon Chapters 1 and 2, but I wanted to make a few prefatory remarks about Chapter 3, since this is where we meet Dr and Mrs Proudie (and Mr Slope), and where we need to begin to understand the ideological gap between the two Barchester "parties".

The Barchester incumbents, as we have seen, are all High Church - that is, they are part of the aristocracy / gentry country-based hierarchy, they are affiliated with Oxford University and the Conservative Party, and they employ the older, more traditional forms of church practice, including externals such as wearing vestments, and with services that include music, singing and chanting. They believe in the broad authority of the church as an institution.They are also afflicted with such long-standing "sins" as absenteeism (some parishes have been abandoned to the curate, some ministers preach only on rare occasions).

The newcomers, on the other hand, are Low Church, more likely to be city-based and affiliated with Cambridge University and the Liberals. They are in favour of simplification of worship and the stripping away of the externals; they also put more emphasis on the individual experience of religion. The 19th century reform movement saw many of the entrenched High Church privileges weakened or stripped away, and with the Liberals in power for extended periods, many traditional High Church enclaves (like Barchester) changed hands and practices.

But there's another degree of difference here: Dr Proudie is Low Church in the sense that he is tolerant of pretty much everyone; whereas Mrs Proudie and Mr Slope are Evangelical, which means (at least in Trollope's opinion) that they are intolerant of just about everyone. The High Church view of the Evangelicals were that they were a bunch of killjoys who never enjoyed life and didn't want anyone else to. Dr Proudie, obviously, would be happy to adopt a live-and-let-live philosophy if he could...but with Mrs Proudie and Mr Slope around, that won't be possible.

Trollope, as we have said, is squarely on the High Church side---and one consequence of this is the occasional unfairness of his presentation of the Low Church party. In his opinion, the men and women of the High Church were gentlemen and ladies, while Low Church people were often rather under-bred. There is more than a little class snobbery on display here, particularly in the handling of Mr Slope, who is condemned primarily not for his frequent deceit and duplicity, but because he is not a gentleman...though no doubt we are supposed to conclude that the former stems from the latter. (Trollope is also unnecessarily rude about his physical appearance.)

Nov 2, 2012, 8:01am Top

I read the first 4 chapters yesterday, so I'm right on track with you! I really enjoyed chapters 1 & 2 because I could reconnect to old friends from The Warden. And then meeting Mrs Proudie and Slope ... well, this is going to be really good fun! I have no idea why this book didn't work for me the first time.

Nov 2, 2012, 3:58pm Top

well, this is going to be really good fun! I have no idea why this book didn't work for me the first time.

That's what I like to hear! :)

Nov 2, 2012, 6:08pm Top

Thanks Liz!

#22 "particularly for the benefit of anyone who might be thinking of going on to Trollope's political
novels (she said, suggestively)"

:-) What are your plans for 2014?

"The significance of the change of government is that the Conservatives, who would appoint a High Church bishop (i.e. Dr Grantly), are being replaced by the Liberals, who will appoint a Low Church bishop." Ok, got it.

When someone was offered a bishopric, it was traditional for him to reject the offer the first time by saying nolo episcopari - "I do not want to be a bishop."

Reminds me of the (British?) overpoliteness around food: 'No, no I couldn't possibly take the last cake.'

#23 "...while completely violating the terms of John Hiram's will, after all that. Typical."

Good point, I'd forgotten about that.

#25 Interesting points about Trollope toggling between narrators. I hadn't really picked up on that so far - I'll look out for it.

#26 Bearing that in mind, ch 3 questions shortly

#27 "well, this is going to be really good fun!" It is, isn't it? :-)

Nov 2, 2012, 6:23pm Top

Ch 3: Dr and Mrs Proudie

1. "I will not describe the ceremony, as I do not precisely understand its nature. I am ignorant whether a bishop be chaired like a member of Parliament, or carried in a gilt coach like a lord mayor, or sworn like a justice of peace, or introduced like a peer to the upper house, or led between two brethren like a knight of the garter; but I do know that everything was properly done, and that nothing fit or becoming to a young bishop was omitted on the occasion."

Did Trollope really not know how a bishop was installed or was he being humourous?

2. "Some few years since, even within the memory of many who are not yet willing to call themselves old, a liberal clergyman was a person not frequently to be met. Sydney Smith was such and was looked on as little better than an infidel; a few others also might be named, but they were rarae aves and were regarded with doubt and distrust by their brethren."

What does rarae aves mean? And I've forgotten who Sidney Smith was (if we covered it last time). A famous liberal clergyman?

3. "When, however, Dr. Whately was made an archbishop, and Dr. Hampden some years afterwards regius professor, many wise divines saw that a change was taking place in men's minds, and that more liberal ideas would henceforward be suitable to the priests as well as to the laity."

Were Dr. Whately and Dr. Hampden both liberal clergymen again?

4. "Clergymen began to be heard of who had ceased to anathematize papists on the one hand, or vilify dissenters on the other."

Gothic novels would never be the same again... This also made me think of Mrs Gaskell who included a lot of dissenters and Roman Catholics in the short stories I read recently.

5. "Dr. Proudie was one among those who early in life adapted himself to the views held by the Whigs on most theological and religious subjects. He bore with the idolatry of Rome, tolerated even the infidelity of Socinianism, and was hand and glove with the Presbyterian Synods of Scotland and Ulster."

The Whigs were the Liberal party? Do you know what Socinianism is/was? Were the Presbyterians considered Liberal at that time or just not Church of England?

6. "he had had something to do with both the regium donum and the Maynooth grant."

Do you know what either of these things were?

As it's late here I'm going to leave Ch 4 and Mr Slope for tomorrow.

Edited: Nov 3, 2012, 2:00am Top

What are your plans for 2014?

To be right here, in front of my computer...sigh...

I'm going to leave Ch 4 and Mr Slope for tomorrow.

Good, because I have some introductory remarks there, too! :)

Did Trollope really not know how a bishop was installed or was he being humourous?

I'm sure he knew, but he chooses to treat the ceremony as "secret church business", probably because that's how his characters liked to look at it.

What does rarae aves mean? And I've forgotten who Sidney Smith was (if we covered it last time). A famous liberal clergyman?

"Rare birds".

Yes, he was a very famous liberal clergyman - possibly because he never wanted to be a clergyman at all, but his father insisted. :)

Smith became an extremely popular preacher in the early 1800s, and campaigned for better education for women, Catholic emancipation and the abolition of slavery---and so of course was regarded as a dangerous radical by some people, if not outright insane. He was also unpopular with in clerical circles because of what was considered the overly secular nature of the doctrine he preached. He was firmly against religious extremism of any description, and attacked both the Methodists and the Puseyites (the leaders of the Oxford Movement) on that basis.

Were Dr. Whately and Dr. Hampden both liberal clergymen again?

Yes. Whately, like Smith, was a strong campaigner for religious tolerance and Catholic emanicpation, and so was equally despised by the High Church and the Evangelicals. He was made Archbishop of Dublin. Hampden was condemned by the High Church faction for his views, but (under various Whig / Liberal governments) was first appointed Professor of Divity at Oxford - to the horror of the Oxford Movement - and then Bishop of Hereford.

Gothic novels would never be the same again...

HA! Correct - although the final nail in their coffin was the founding of Anglican convents, which Trollope also touches upon.

The Whigs were the Liberal party?

The Liberal Party evolved out of the Whigs (who had been born in the first place as an opposition to Charles II, or rather to the possibility that he might be succeeded by his Catholic brother, James, which is a tad ironic), while the Conservative Party evolved out of the Tories, who were the supporters of the monarchy and the upholders of the Divine Right of Kings. The Tories / Conservatives were (along with the High Church faction) part of the aristocracy / gentry / country / agricultural system, while the Whigs / Liberals (and the Low Church faction) were associated with the middle-classes who had risen to prominence and power through the industrial revolution and the shift to a city-based, manufacturing economy.

Socinianism (after Laelius and Faudtus Socinus) rejected the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Christ; the Unitarians (like Elizabeth Gaskell, since you mention her) expressed many of the same views.

Protestant but not Church of England, as emphasised by the reference to Dr Proudie being hand-in-glove with "Scotland and Ulster".

he had had something to do with both the regium donum and the Maynooth grant

The regium donum ("royal gift") was originally a fund for supporting the poorer nonconformist ministers and/or their widows, but many nonconformists objected to it because they felt that nonconformists by definition shouldn't be receiving state funds, and it was abolished in 1851. Maynooth College was founded in Ireland at the end of the 18th century as a training seminary for Roman Catholic priests, since they couldn't train in France any more because of the Revolution. During the 1840s the Irish clergy were viewed as growing dangerously powerful, and the government increased funding to Maynooth as a way of buying them off, which was generally a very unpopular move.

Edited: Nov 3, 2012, 4:01pm Top

At the very beginning of Chapter 4, we find Trollope indulging in a rather complicated literary joke. The reference here (another of his many allusions to novels) is to Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, in which Tristram himself is delivered by a "man-midwife" called Dr Slop. Trollope suggests here that Dr Slop is a direct ancestor of Mr Slope (thus giving the latter an appropriately "low" origin), but since Dr Slop is explicitly Catholic, he follows up with the remark about a change of religion. The name "Obadiah" is also from Tristram Shandy; he is the Shandys' servant - thus lowering Mr Slope even more.

The second half of the joke, about the gentrification of the name "Slop" by adding an 'e', is more personal. Trollope suffered miseries as a schoolboy because of his surname, and no doubt the suggestion that he had added an 'e' was made on numerous occasions. It's interesting, seeing how Trollope portrays Mr Slope throughout the novel, that here he chooses to identify with him, even empathise with him.

Nov 3, 2012, 1:53am Top

Okay, all you lurkers! Don't let this rushing ahead put you off, but feel free to ask anything you like about the first three chapters - or just let us know where you're up to!

Nov 3, 2012, 8:00am Top

>32 lyzard:: thank you for that explanation! I didn't get the joke at all but could tell he was making one.

I've read through Chapter VI. I hoped to make more progress last night but I was very sleepy!

Nov 3, 2012, 10:17am Top

#32 I thought that passage was a reference to Tristam Shandy in some way but wasn't aware of all the detail so thank you Liz.

Chapter 4: The Bishop's Chaplain

1. "He had been a sizar at Cambridge"

My notes say a scholarship student? And Cambridge rather than Oxford makes sense given your comments about low church and high church in msg #26.

2. "With Wesleyan-Methodists he has something in common, but his soul trembles in agony at the iniquities of the Puseyites."

You mentioned the Puseyites were leaders of the Oxford movement above so they were very high church and Wesleyan Methodists I think were lower church (and so more acceptable to Mr Slope)?

3. "His aversion is carried to things outward as well as inward. His gall rises at a new church with a high-pitched roof; a full-breasted black silk waistcoat is with him a symbol of Satan; and a profane jest-book would not, in his view, more foully desecrate the church seat of a Christian than a book of prayer printed with red letters and ornamented with a cross on the back."

I'm guessing that the objects which attract so much aversion from Mr Slope are all associated with the high church again?

4. " To him the revelation of God appears only in that one law given for Jewish observance. To him the mercies of our Saviour speak in vain, to him in vain has been preached that sermon which fell from divine lips on the mountain—"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"—"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." To him the New Testament is comparatively of little moment, for from it can he draw no fresh authority for that dominion which he loves to exercise over at least a seventh part of man's allotted time here below."

Is this one of the places where Trollope shows that he's more supportive of the high church movement?

5. "His hair is lank and of a dull pale reddish hue."

I think the Miss Proudie's were described as having auburn hair in Ch 3. Was auburn hair a more acceptable colour than 'red' hair?

6. "I never could endure to shake hands with Mr. Slope. A cold, clammy perspiration always exudes from him, the small drops are ever to be seen standing on his brow, and his friendly grasp is unpleasant."

This reminded me ever so slightly of Uriah Heep from David Copperfield. I can't remember whether Uriah Heep was described as having clammy hands but I always imagined he would have.

7. the fulminations of an Ernulfus: "Thou shalt be damned in thy going in and in thy coming out—in thy eating and thy drinking,"

Who or what was an Ernulfus?

Edited: Nov 3, 2012, 4:42pm Top

Chapter 4: The Bishop's Chaplain

1. No, it's not exactly surprising to discover that Mr Slope went to Cambridge. Sizars were poor students given financial assistance in return for doing performing work (often menial tasks like cleaning) for their college; usually this meant their degrees took four years instead of three. This aspect of it was phased out during the 19th century, and now at Cambridge sizarships are offered in return for support of branches of the arts.

2. Trollope is doing here what I've been trying to do: separating out the various factions to compare and contrast.

The members of the Oxford Movement were sometimes called "Puseyites", after Edward Pusey, and more commonly "Tractarians", after their publication of Tracts For The Times. "Puseyites" was considered a derogatory term for them, so no doubt that's why Mr Slope thinks of them that way

The Movement happened in reaction to the first attempts to reform the church, under the (Whig) reforms of the early 1830s. Their contention was that the Anglican church was a branch of the Catholic church, and they promoted a return to older, more ritualised forms of worship and the use of various externals symbols.

Low Church people and the Evangelicals in particular viewed this as a covert attempt to re-establish Catholicism in England, and felt vindicated when some of the Tractarians, like John Henry Newman, did in fact end up converting to Roman Catholicism.

There ended up being a kind of sliding scale, if you like, from High Church to very High Church to Anglo-Catholicism (which did not recognise the saints or the authority of the Pope) to Roman Catholicism.

(This becomes important later in delineating the character of someone we haven't met yet.)

3. As above. These are some of the externals that the Low Church faction abolished, and which they viewed as essentially Catholic. Crosses and candles were especially offensive to them.

"A book of prayer printed with red letters and ornamented with a cross on the back" must have been a real bone of contention in one of the church conflicts, because that specific comes up again later on.

4. He's suggesting that in the case of Mr Slope, he uses his religion as an excuse for bullying and pushing people around and making himself feel important and powerful; he's not much interested in forgiveness or meekness.

Trollope doesn't spell it out, but in context this sets him up in opposition to the gentle Mr Harding. We can't say that this is necessarily a Low Church / High Church thing, as meekness and forgiveness are hardly the Archdeacon's leading characteristics, for example.

5. & 6. Ohhhh, yes! I meant to mention the red hair!!

Sorry to say, but in the 19th century red hair was anathema for some reason - it was almost viewed as a deformity. Trollope, obviously, starts to say of Mrs Proudie and her daughters that they have red hair, but then stops himself and uses the euphemism "auburn". In the case of Mr Slope, he doesn't bother being polite.

You are dead on the mark with your observation about Uriah Heep, and in fact the similarity of language used by Dickens and Trollope might even have intended us to see Mr Slope as a grown-up Uriah.

7. And to end the chapter, we have another Tristram Shandy joke. :)

Ernulfus was the Bishop of Rochester in the 12th century and the author of a very long and very terrible curse, which Sterne reproduces in full in his text under the guise of Dr Slop cursing Obadiah.

Nov 4, 2012, 2:50pm Top

"in the 19th century red hair was anathema for some reason"


Ch 5: A Morning Visit

1. "no one for a moment thought that he could appoint any other than Mr. Harding."

I feel like we're being set up for a fall here (I know, wait and see!)

2. "he was well aware of all Dr. Proudie's abominable opinions as regarded dissenters, church reform, the hebdomadal council"

Do you know what the hebdomadal council was?

3. "Our friends found Dr. Proudie sitting on the old bishop's chair, looking very nice in his new apron"

Was this part of a Bishop's costume (rather than evidence that he had been doing some home baking in the kitchen?)

4. "Dr. Grantly was no doubt aware that the bishop was at present much called upon by the "University Improvement Committee:" indeed, the committee could not well proceed without him, as their final report had now to be drawn up."

Do you know what the University Improvement Committee was and what they were investigating?

5. ""There is one point I would like to mention, Mr. Archdeacon. His lordship asked me to step through the premises, and I see that the stalls in the second stable are not perfect."

"Why—there's standing there for a dozen horses," said the archdeacon.


Mr. Slope was going on with his catalogue of grievances, when he was somewhat loudly interrupted by the archdeacon, who succeeded in explaining that the diocesan architect, or rather his foreman, was the person to be addressed on such subjects, and that he, Dr. Grantly, had inquired as to the comfort of the palace merely as a point of compliment. He was sorry, however, that so many things had been found amiss: and then he rose from his chair to escape."

There were several laugh out loud moments for me here :-)

Ch 6: War

1. "Good heavens!" exclaimed the archdeacon

I've missed these :-)

2. ""Did you ever see any animal less like a gentleman?" asked Dr. Grantly."


3. "The clergymen of the city and neighbourhood, though very well inclined to promote High Church principles, privileges, and prerogatives, had never committed themselves to tendencies which are somewhat too loosely called Puseyite practices. They all preached in their black gowns, as their fathers had done before them; they wore ordinary black cloth waistcoats; they had no candles on their altars, either lighted or unlighted; they made no private genuflexions, and were contented to confine themselves to such ceremonial observances as had been in vogue for the last hundred years. The services were decently and demurely read in their parish churches, chanting was confined to the cathedral, and the science of intoning was unknown. One young man who had come direct from Oxford as a curate to Plumstead had, after the lapse of two or three Sundays, made a faint attempt, much to the bewilderment of the poorer part of the congregation. Dr. Grantly had not been present on the occasion, but Mrs. Grantly, who had her own opinion on the subject, immediately after the service expressed a hope that the young gentleman had not been taken ill, and offered to send him all kinds of condiments supposed to be good for a sore throat. After that there had been no more intoning at Plumstead Episcopi."

This is the distinction between high church, very high church and anglo-catholicism again?

4. "We are not forced into church! No: but we desire more than that. We desire not to be forced to stay away. We desire, nay, we are resolute, to enjoy the comfort of public worship, but we desire also that we may do so without an amount of tedium which ordinary human nature cannot endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God without that anxious longing for escape which is the common consequence of common sermons."

I feel like Trollope is speaking from the heart here. And another passage a little further on made me smile,

"I have preached nine sermons this week," said a young friend to me the other day, with hand languidly raised to his brow, the picture of an overburdened martyr. "Nine this week, seven last week, four the week before. I have preached twenty-three sermons this month. It is really too much."

"Too much, indeed," said I, shuddering; "too much for the strength of any one."

"Yes," he answered meekly, "indeed it is; I am beginning to feel it painfully."

"Would," said I, "you could feel it—would that you could be made to feel it." But he never guessed that my heart was wrung for the poor listeners.

Things aren't looking good for Mr Harding at the end of this chapter :-(

Edited: Nov 15, 2012, 10:47pm Top

Ch 5: A Morning Visit

1. I know, wait and see!


2. The Hebdomadal Board was a committee consisting of the heads of the colleges at Oxford, which oversaw the running of the university. As part of the Oxford University Reform Act of 1854 the Board was replaced by a Council on which the teaching staff were more strongly represented, to try and reduce the exclusive power of the clergy.

No doubt Dr Proudie's "abominable opinion" was that this was a good thing.

3. Heh! The bishop's apron was a purple knee-length cassock which was usually only worn on formal occasions. Obviously Dr Proudie feels he has to shore up his position through the external signs of his authority, in the face of a meeting with the Archdeacon - a bit ironic, considering the Low Church focus on stripping away the externals.

4. It was a commission instituted to implement the provisions of the Oxford University Reform Act.

5. Yes, you hardly know whether to feel sorry for the Archdeacon, or feel that he's getting a rightful dose of his own medicine. :)

Edited: Nov 4, 2012, 4:53pm Top

Chapter 6

...in which we find one of the great rude jokes in Victorian literature - anyone spot it?? :)

(Not surprisingly, being a rude joke in Victorian literature, you do have to search...)

1. Towards the end of the novel, Dr Grantly lets fly with a whole barrage of "Good heavens!"-es, and Trollope stops to analyse the meaning of each individual one. :)

2. Oh, they have not begun to insult Mr Slope...

3. It's illustrating the differences between them that manifested in practice. From this we learn that Barchester is "High", but not too High - certainly not tending towards Anglo-Catholicism, unlike the intoning young clergyman. The fact that he did this immediately after leaving Oxford indicates the state of things at the university at that time.

4. Trollope has his whole heart in this sermon upon sermons, I think!

5. You have no idea what Mr Harding is yet to suffer...

Nov 4, 2012, 10:11pm Top

Yippeee and Oh My! Or maybe even "Good Heavens!" I will hope to read at least chapter 6 tonight. I'm at least staying with you, and Heather is doing me the favor of asking my questions too. Many thanks to you both!

Nov 4, 2012, 10:18pm Top

Hi, Peggy - great to have you here!

Nov 5, 2012, 9:40am Top

I'm impatient with myself. I've read chapter 6 about 3 times now and can't spot the rude joke. Give me a hint, please.

Nov 5, 2012, 1:37pm Top


"...in which we find one of the great rude jokes in Victorian literature - anyone spot it?? :)

(Not surprisingly, being a rude joke in Victorian literature, you do have to search...)"

I've searched and haven't a clue (Peggy, I'm relieved you couldn't spot it either).

Edited: Nov 5, 2012, 2:58pm Top

Heh! Given how very discreet most Victorian novels are over people swearing, even to the point of pretending that they don't, I just love that Trollope not only has the Archdeacon call Mrs Proudie a rude name, but lets us know (albeit in a very circumlocutious way) what it was. :)

Nov 5, 2012, 5:05pm Top

Hope you don't mind if I lurk here - I have three books on the go already so dare not start another one just yet. But I'm interested in how tutored reads work ....and hope to join one in the future

Nov 5, 2012, 5:10pm Top

Hi, Karen! Mind!? We love lurkers!

There are no set rules about how tutored reads work - it's just what suits the tutee and tutor. For this particular work, as you see, Heather (souloftherose, the main tutee) is posting her questions chapter by chapter, which I try to answer, and then we have broader discussions when they are needed. In this case, lurkers are free to ask questions too, as long as they don't go past the point where Heather is up to.

Nov 5, 2012, 10:10pm Top

Well, I thought it might have something to do with the Archdeacon's calling Mrs Proudie a rude name, but I'm going to have to reread yet again to be able to guess what it was. I did enjoy the fact that it was loud enough to resound through the cathedral close.

Nov 5, 2012, 10:40pm Top

This is the bit that cracks me up:

There was a pause, during which the precentor tried to realize the fact that the wife of a Bishop of Barchester had been thus designated, in the close of the cathedral, by the lips of its own archdeacon; but he could not do it.

Nov 6, 2012, 6:20am Top

#45 Welcome Karen. As Liz said, we love lurkers :-)

#44 "Given how very discreet most Victorian novels are over people swearing, even to the point of pretending that they don't, I just love that Trollope not only has the Archdeacon call Mrs Proudie a rude name, but lets us know (albeit in a very circumlocutious way) what it was. :)"

This passage?

"The archdeacon hereupon forgot himself. I will not follow his example, nor shock my readers by transcribing the term in which he expressed his feeling as to the lady who had been named. The ravens and the last lingering notes of the clock bells were less scrupulous and repeated in correspondent echoes the very improper exclamation. The archdeacon again raised his hat, and another salutary escape of steam was effected."

I still can't work out what the archdeacon called Mrs Proudie. (It's like being back at school again - I was always the last person to understand any rude jokes then too)

Nov 6, 2012, 6:35am Top

Chapter 7: The Dean and Chapter Take Counsel

1. " Mr. Harding crept forth solitary and unhappy; and, slowly passing beneath the elms of the close, could scarcely bring himself to believe that the words which he had heard had proceeded from the pulpit of Barchester cathedral. Was he again to be disturbed? Was his whole life to be shown up as a useless sham a second time? Would he have to abdicate his precentorship, as he had his wardenship, and to give up chanting, as he had given up his twelve old bedesmen? And what if he did! Some other Jupiter, some other Mr. Slope, would come and turn him out of St. Cuthbert's."

Poor Mr Harding! :-(

2. "No man—that is, no gentleman—could possibly be attracted by Mr. Slope, or consent to sit at the feet of so abhorrent a Gamaliel."

Another ouch. Gamaliel was St. Paul's teacher I think.

3. "Wilkes was most fortunate as a lover"

Do you know who Wilkes was?

4. "Dr. Grantly declared that the power rested with the dean and chapter, observing that no clergyman out of the chapter had a claim to preach there, saving only the bishop himself. To this the dean assented, but alleged that contests on such a subject would be unseemly; to which rejoined a meagre little doctor, one of the cathedral prebendaries, that the contest must be all on the side of Mr. Slope if every prebendary were always there ready to take his own place in the pulpit. Cunning little meagre doctor, whom it suits well to live in his own cosy house within Barchester close, and who is well content to have his little fling at Dr. Vesey Stanhope and other absentees, whose Italian villas, or enticing London homes, are more tempting than cathedral stalls and residences!

To this answered the burly chancellor, a man rather silent indeed, but very sensible, that absent prebendaries had their vicars, and that in such case the vicar's right to the pulpit was the same as that of the higher order. To which the dean assented, groaning deeply at these truths. Thereupon, however, the meagre doctor remarked that they would be in the hands of their minor canons, one of whom might at any hour betray his trust. "

I want to check that I've understood this properly. Mr Slope could only preach in the cathedral if one of the prebendaries (ministers?) were absent and not able to preach. But if the prebendary was absent then they had a vicar under them who should preach in their place so as long as all the vicars refuse to allow Mr Slope to take their slots they should be safe?

Except we already know a couple of vicars have decided which way the wind's blowing and approached Mr Slope on their own as the doctor seems to suspect.

Why did the dean groan deeply at these truths? is it because he fears the confrontation that would come from refusing such a request?

5. "But, Mr. Dean, thank God, that pulpit is still our own: your own, I should say."


Nov 6, 2012, 6:37am Top

Chapter 8: The Ex-Warden Rejoices in His Probable Return to the Hospital

Oh dear, don't count your chickens Mr Harding. No real questions about this chapter unless any lurkers want to add anything?

1. "My readers will guess from what I have written that I myself do not like Mr. Slope"


2. "Could Mr. Slope have adapted his manners to men as well as to women, could he ever have learnt the ways of a gentleman, he might have risen to great things."

Trollope does seem to keep reiterating Mr Slope's lack of gentlemanliness.

Edited: Nov 6, 2012, 8:19am Top

>48 lyzard:, 49: I loved that passage although I am not sure what word/phrase was actually used!
I nominate our illustrious tutor to break away from Victorian sensibilities and dare to utter the word!

Poor dear Mr. Harding. I am so glad I read The Warden first because I have a soft spot for him that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Nov 6, 2012, 9:25am Top

#52 "Poor dear Mr. Harding. I am so glad I read The Warden first because I have a soft spot for him that I wouldn't have otherwise." Yes, definitely.

Nov 6, 2012, 3:44pm Top

>52 lauralkeet: Me too - of course that was compounded by watching Donald Pleasance ( at least I think that was his name) in the role in BBC version. He had just the kind of rosy cheeked face I had imagined.

Nov 6, 2012, 3:46pm Top

>46 lyzard:, 49 Thanks for the warm welcome. I know I will be itching to get involved.....

Nov 6, 2012, 4:38pm Top

>>#47, 49, 52:

Okay - we know that the ravens are "echoing" what Dr Grantly says:

The ravens...were less scrupulous, and repeated in correspondent echoes the very improper exclamation...

...and we know that the ravens say, "Caw!"

The ravens cawed their assent...

...and that's all I have to say on the subject!

(Except that it took me several reads before the penny dropped!)

>>#52, 53, 54:

I always tell people that The Warden is best appreciated after the event. :)

The casting of Donald Pleasence is brilliantly counterintuitive - he's perfect, yet he spent so much of his career making horror films and playing villains - though from all accounts Mr Harding is much closer to his real personality.

Edited: Nov 7, 2012, 8:33pm Top

Chapter 7: The Dean and Chapter Take Counsel

2. Yes, that's correct - but the name is used generically to mean "one who gives spiritual instruction".

3. He was a radical journalist and MP during the second half of the 18th century (he supported the Americans in the War of Independence), and had a lot of success with the ladies in spite of being physically unattractive. (He was once called, "The ugliest man in England.")

4. Yes, yes, and yes - Mr Slope can only get back into the cathedral if someone lets him in - and as you say, there are those who are wavering to the new power faction...

The dean groans because of his forced recognition that from now on the cathedral will be occupied as a matter of policy, not religion, and because as dean he is going to be where the buck stops.

5. At least he didn't say "My own". :)

Nov 6, 2012, 4:50pm Top

Chapter 8: The Ex-Warden Rejoices in His Probable Return to the Hospital

Trollope does seem to keep reiterating Mr Slope's lack of gentlemanliness.

Yes, he does overdo it a bit.

They actually do this better in the TV adaptation, I think, because they capture Mr Slope's moral sliminess without harping on his birth or his appearance.

Edited: Nov 6, 2012, 4:57pm Top

....aaaand at this point Anthony Trollope shoved his manuscript into a drawer and went off in a huff.

He might never have written Barchester Towers! - or the other Barset novels - how appalling a thought is that!?

If you look carefully at the text, you can see various signs that he re-thought the novel at this point. He says clearly that Dr and Mrs Proudie will be spending most of their time in London, so the first thought was obviously that the focus would be on the Archdeacon's battle with Mr Slope, left behind as their proxy. Then he must have realised that there were more possibilities in having them - or at least, Mrs Proudie - on the spot.

The other significant addition is the sudden prominence of the entire Stanhope family in the text - when to this point we've really only heard of Dr Stanhope - which adds a whole new dimension to the story.

Anyway, the tell-tale chronological error occurs at this point. After the business with the Archdeacon's rude word, dare I say - who can spot it...? :)

Nov 8, 2012, 2:53am Top

#56 Thank you! I've got it now (quite shocked actually). I was sort of on the right lines but got distracted by trying to think of an insult that would rhyme with "the last lingering notes of the clock bells".

#59 "Anyway, the tell-tale chronological error occurs at this point."

I've spotted it but only because my notes pointed it out so I'll wait to see if anyone else managed it unaided.

I managed to get some reading done yesterday but didn't have time to post any questions. So here's:

Chapter 9: The Stanhope Family

1. "As is so often the case, she had married the very worst of those who sought her hand. Why she had chosen Paulo Neroni, a man of no birth and no property, a mere captain in the Pope's guard, one who had come up to Milan either simply as an adventurer or else as a spy, a man of harsh temper and oily manners, mean in figure, swarthy in face, and so false in words as to be hourly detected, need not now be told. When the moment for doing so came, she had probably no alternative. He, at any rate, had become her husband, and after a prolonged honeymoon among the lakes, they had gone together to Rome, the papal captain having vainly endeavoured to induce his wife to remain behind him."

I was going to ask whether the underlined passage was implying that Madeline was getting married because she was pregnant and then I read on to find:

"Six months afterwards she arrived at her father's house a cripple, and a mother."

and realised that it must mean that.

2. "Her copious rich brown hair was worn in Grecian bandeaux round her head, displaying as much as possible of her forehead and cheeks."

What are Grecian bandeaux?

3. "He again wrote home, to say that Moses was the only giver of perfect laws to the world, that the coming of the true Messiah was at hand, that great things were doing in Palestine, and that he had met one of the family of Sidonia, a most remarkable man, who was now on his way to western Europe, and whom he had induced to deviate from his route with the object of calling at the Stanhope villa."

Who, or what, was Sidonia? I felt like I was missing the joke in the passages about Ethelbert Stanhope's many conversions.

I really enjoyed the chapter about the Stanhopes :-)

Edited: Nov 8, 2012, 4:34am Top

Thank you! I've got it now (quite shocked actually).

Whoo hoo! Well done, Heather! You understand now why he had to bury it so deep!?

I can't remember how many times I'd read this novel before it suddenly leapt out at me. :)

Chapter 9: The Stanhope Family

1. This is an extraordinary passage.

When people are talking up the Brontes and arguing Emily vs Charlotte, I always have to put in a good word for Anne on behalf of The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall, which although it is a very flawed novel is also an amazingly courageous one for the way it just smashes through three of the most significant taboos with respect to what you could and could not address in a Victorian novel.

And yet, in this single passage, we have Anthony Trollope equally defiant, albeit in a much quieter and oblique sort of way, with pre-marital sex and pregnancy, domestic violence, and a woman leaving her husband - and being taken in by her parents, which some people probably found the most shocking - piled into a breathless back history.

2. I can't find a decent illustration at the moment, but I'll keep looking.

It means she wore her hair pulled back and confined at the back of her head, with plaits and ribbons. It was a style based on images from ancient Greece.

Something like this:

3. That's another novel reference, and a euphemism: Sidonia the Jew is a character in Benjamin Disraeli's Coningsby, through whom he worked out many of his own feelings about Judaism. The reference is a positive one, although again (in spite of Bertie's conversion) we find Jewish people chiefly associated with money-lending.

(Fun fact: I picked up a copy of Coningsby at the book fair!)

The Stanhopes were a stroke of genius. :)

Nov 9, 2012, 6:02am Top

#61 "And yet, in this single passage, we have Anthony Trollope equally defiant, albeit in a much quieter and oblique sort of way, with pre-marital sex and pregnancy, domestic violence, and a woman leaving her husband - and being taken in by her parents, which some people probably found the most shocking - piled into a breathless back history."

It certainly wasn't what I was expecting from Barchester Towers - I'd somehow got the impression that Trollope was not the sort of author who would mention things like that.

"The reference is a positive one, although again (in spite of Bertie's conversion) we find Jewish people chiefly associated with money-lending."

Ah ok, when Trollope described the jew as a 'dirty old man' I'd read it as a negative portrayal of a Jewish person

Edited: Nov 9, 2012, 6:20am Top

Early in his career, Trollope was a more daring writer than we realise these days, but after losing too many fights with his publishers he reined it in. (One of his Irish novels originally dealt frankly with an unmarried, pregnant woman, and included a scene of her suffering a miscarriage in the middle of a courtroom; the later editions were re-edited to remove / tone down this material.) He did tackle more contentious issues later in his career, but those works were never a critical or popular success.

Trollope's general reputation as a "comic" novelist belies the frequent seriousness of his subject matter; Barchester Towers, though it is his most popular work, is not representative of his career.

Sidonia himself is a positive character, and the reference carries positive overtones, yet the impressions we receive are negative, yes. Trollope was, unfortunately, sometimes guilty of this kind of automatic anti-Semitism, if I can call it that, where he didn't even seem to realise that he was saying anything that someone might find offensive: this was "just the way people talked". At any rate, he was hurt and surprised when later accused of anti-Semitism, and made a deliberate effort to include more positive Jewish characters in his novels.

Nov 9, 2012, 6:21am Top

Chapter 9: Mrs Proudie's Reception - Commenced

1. "And now there arose considerable agitation among the Grantlyites whether or no they would attend the episcopal bidding. The first feeling with them all was to send the briefest excuses both for themselves and their wives and daughters. But by degrees policy prevailed over passion. The archdeacon perceived that he would be making a false step if he allowed the cathedral clergy to give the bishop just ground of umbrage. They all met in conclave and agreed to go. They would show that they were willing to respect the office, much as they might dislike the man. They agreed to go. The old dean would crawl in, if it were but for half an hour. The chancellor, treasurer, archdeacon, prebendaries, and minor canons would all go, and would all take their wives. Mr. Harding was especially bidden to do so, resolving in his heart to keep himself far removed from Mrs. Proudie. And Mrs. Bold was determined to go, though assured by her father that there was no necessity for such a sacrifice on her part. When all Barchester was to be there, neither Eleanor nor Mary Bold understood why they should stay away."

I'm sure none of them felt even the slightest curiosity about the reception...

2. "Mr. Finnie, the attorney, with his wife, was to be seen, much to the dismay of many who had never met him in a drawing-room before."

I din't really understand this - is Trollope saying Mr. Finnie wouldn't normally be invited to social gatherings like this? Was this because an attorney was almost a tradesman and so not a gentleman?

Chapter 10: Mrs Proudie's Reception - Concluded

1. "She was beginning to be stately, stiff, and offended, when unfortunately the castor of the sofa caught itself in her lace train, and carried away there is no saying how much of her garniture. Gathers were heard to go, stitches to crack, plaits to fly open, flounces were seen to fall, and breadths to expose themselves; a long ruin of rent lace disfigured the carpet, and still clung to the vile wheel on which the sofa moved."


2. "The bishop had heard of the last of the Visigoths, and had floating in his brain some indistinct idea of the last of the Mohicans, but to have the last of the Neros thus brought before him for a blessing was very staggering."

I've heard of (and read) The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. Is the last of the Visigoths a reference to another book?

3. "Well, Mr. Archdeacon, after all, we have not been so hard upon you at Oxford."

"No," said the archdeacon, "you've only drawn our teeth and cut out our tongues; you've allowed us still to breathe and swallow."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the bishop; "it's not quite so easy to cut out the tongue of an Oxford magnate—and as for teeth—ha, ha, ha! Why, in the way we've left the matter, it's very odd if the heads of colleges don't have their own way quite as fully as when the hebdomadal board was in all its glory; what do you say, Mr. Dean?"

So they're talking about the effects of the Oxford University Reform Act of 1854 that you mentioned in msg #38. Mr Proudie would have been involved in the reform in some way and the archdeacon and dean would have preferred things left the old way.

Why on earth did Mr Proudie think this would be a good way to start a conversation with people he already knows he's upset?

3. "German professors!" groaned out the chancellor, as though his nervous system had received a shock which nothing but a week of Oxford air could cure.

"Yes," continued Ethelbert, not at all understanding why a German professor should be contemptible in the eyes of an Oxford don.

Is this to do with the church again? I think Germany was much more low church than England after the reformation?

4. "Of course," continued the bishop; "there can be only one man whom I could wish to see in that situation. I don't know what your own views may be, Mr. Harding—"

Surely it can't be this easy and starightforward??

5. "There were some few circumstances which would in a slight degree change the nature of the duties. Mr. Harding was probably aware of this, and would, perhaps, not object to discuss the matter with Mr. Slope. It was a subject to which Mr. Slope had given a good deal of attention."

Hmmm. Perhaps not so straightforward.

6. "Was she not horribly bedizened with velvet and pearls, with velvet and pearls, too, which had not been torn off her back?"

Is this a reference to Mrs Proudie's dress being torn earlier or something else?

7. "Had she been as active as Grimaldi, she could probably have taken no better revenge."

Who was Grimaldi?

I was almost starting to feel sorry for Mr Proudie after these two, very enjoyable chapters.

Nov 9, 2012, 6:32am Top

#63 " At any rate, he was hurt and surprised when later accused of anti-Semitism, and made a deliberate effort to include more positive Jewish characters in his novels."

That seems to have happened to more than one 19th century writer - I've read Dickens was taken to task for his portrayal of Fagin in Oliver Twist and tried to make amends with Riah in Our Mutual Friend (although he was still a money-lender).

Edited: Nov 9, 2012, 3:23pm Top

Chapter 9: Mrs Proudie's Reception - Commenced

1. Ohhhhhhh, no, none at all. :)

2. Yes. There were strict (if usually unspoken) rules about who would be invited to what, and as an attorney Mr Finnie is on the borderline of socially unacceptable. You might expect to meet him at something more general like a fete, but not in a drawing-room in the evening. (If he'd been a barrister, that would be different.)

In her determination to have a crowd and capture Barchester, Mrs Proudie has thrown her net a little wider than people are accustomed to, including not only the Finnies but even "the retired Apothecary and tooth-drawer". There is is a suggestion here of a lack of breeding that doesn't understand where to draw the social line.

Chapter 10: Mrs Proudie's Reception - Concluded

1. Hee, hee!

2. The Visigoths were one of the branches of the Goths, nomadic Germanic tribes who spread throughout Europe in the first century. They eventually moved from a monarchy to a kind of electoral system. There was a famous poem by Robert Southey calledRoderick: The Last Of The Goths, which is what is being referred to here - although oddly, Roderick was not the last at all.

3. Yes. This is of course a blanket allusion to the effects of the Oxford Reform Act, but is particularly a reference to the reform of the Hebdomadal Board into the Hebdomadal Council. In fact, Dr Proudie is right to say that not too much changed as a consequence - in practice, this reform had a lot less effect than had been intended - but to the Archdeacon any loss of clerical power is unacceptable.

(Oops! You have double number in there - I'll keep going sequentially.)

4. German universities were at this time considered the best in the world academically, and Germany was the hub of many areas of leading scholarship. (You might remember in Middlemarch, when Will first hears about "The Key To All Mythologies", he responds that the Germans had done that work years earlier.)

BUT---German universities were entirely secular. Bertie has just effectively told a group of clergymen that if they really want to fix their universities, they need to rid them of the clergy.

During the attempted reform of Oxford, many people had held up the German universities as a model, so that the very word "Germany" in this context was almost an insult.

5. Yes and no. It could be that easy and straightforward...

6. ...but it won't be.

7. Yes - that unlike Mrs Proudie's best dress, Madeline's is still intact. (Also a suggestion, I think, that Mrs Proudie is fantasising about ripping the dress off Madeline's back.)

8. Joseph Grimaldi was a famous clown and dancer, who appeared in pantomimes.

Is she always like this?" said the signora.

You might want to reserve your reactions to Mrs Proudie. :)

Edited: Nov 9, 2012, 3:35pm Top


Yes, I don't think it was really intentional, or conscious - I think that anti-Semitism and the use of anti-Semitic language was so deeply engrained that people didn't even realise they were doing anything untoward in speaking like that. However, over the course of the 19th century the position of Jewish people in English society began to change, and there was a greater willingness to push back against that kind of thing.

Still, these men had to be told before they saw they'd done something wrong. On the other hand, we have George Eliot writing Daniel Deronda, and even Jane Austen putting the objectionable phrase "as rich as a Jew" into the mouth of the odious John Thorpe, and nowhere else. Interesting. :)

This is not to say that there was not genuine, vicious anti-Semitism out there, only that this kind of thing is the other end of the sliding scale---similar to the moronic way that some people use the word "gay" as a generic term of criticism today. ("That's so gay!")

Nov 9, 2012, 4:53pm Top

I'm going to go catch up, having only begun the first of the Proudie reception.
I'm dense. Somebody is going to have to PM me what the word is - I can't think of anything but "cow," and that isn't pretty, but even so....
And I don't have any notes, and can't spot the chronological error by myself and don't want to spend any more time thinking about it. Tell, please.

Edited: Nov 9, 2012, 6:57pm Top

Okay. Sorry. Didn't mean to be exasperating! :)

The rude word rhymes with "caw" and in other contexts may have been appended by the words "---of Babylon."

The chronological error stems from the fact that the novel explicitly opens in July. Dr Proudie receives the bishopric shortly afterwards, and we get an account of the early doings of the Proudies and Mr Slope before the Proudies return to London for "two months", until "the London season was over". The London season ended in late June, so this makes no sense.

If we want to be generous, we could assume that the "little season" was meant, which was October to December. This puts the Proudies back in Barchester at the end of the year. Yet clearly the action is not taking place in winter - there is too much easy visiting and walking - and there is no mention of Christmas or the associated religious duties.

Next thing we know (you're not quite up to this bit), Mr Harding is dating a letter "August 185--"

In short, the narrative suddenly loses about four months - or gains about eight. This may reflect Trollope's belated realisation that he needed to be able to stage outdoor scenes (moonlight walks, for example; while the novel's climax is staged at a garden-party). Some critics, however, think he unconsciously used his own dates and months, and that the gap is reflective of the period that the manuscript was sitting neglected.

Nov 10, 2012, 8:34am Top

THAT word rhymes with "caw"????? Not in this neck of the woods! So I'm entertained and a bit surprised too.
I would never, ever have caught the time discrepancy. It's all right with me. I read a bit yesterday, so now I'm in chapter - 12, maybe? - with everybody making plans for poor Mrs. Bold. Now I'll go back to see what else I missed.
Thanks, Liz!

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 9:39am Top

Doesn't rhyme in my accent either! But thanks for clearing up the mystery!

I've just finished Chapter XXII and am enjoying it very much. I'm going to set it aside and follow the tutoring up to that point before reading more. There are a few things requiring illumination!

Nov 10, 2012, 12:33pm Top

#66 "(Oops! You have double number in there - I'll keep going sequentially.)"

Oops, very embarrassing for a maths graduate!

#67 Added Daniel Deronda to my wishlist (although I was thinking of making my next Eliot her early Scenes of Clerical Life).

#70 Peggy, I can never spot things like that either.

#69 - 71 Glad we managed to clear up that particular puzzle!

I read quite a few chapters yesterday so I'll look through and see how many questions I had.

Nov 10, 2012, 1:14pm Top

Chapter 12: Slope vs. Harding

Chapter 13: The Rubbish Cart

No questions about either of these chapters but it seems like the question of who will be warden is getting rather complicated...

Chapter 14: The New Champion

1. "These two gentlemen had never seen each other, but they had been extremely bitter in print. Mr. Slope had endeavoured to strengthen his cause by calling Mr. Arabin an owl, and Mr. Arabin had retaliated by hinting that Mr. Slope was an infidel."

I understand why calling Mr Slope an infidel would be an insult but why was it insulting to call someone an owl?

2. "Is Mr. Arabin married, Papa?" asked Griselda.

"No, my dear, the fellow of a college is never married."

"Is he a young man, Papa?"

"About forty, I believe," said the archdeacon.

"Oh!" said Griselda. Had her father said eighty, Mr. Arabin would not have appeared to her to be very much older.


3. "They therefore went into the drawing-room in good humour with each other, and the evening passed pleasantly in prophetic discussions on the future wars of Arabin and Slope. The frogs and the mice would be nothing to them, nor the angers of Agamemnon and Achilles."

Agamemnon and Achilles fought in the Trojan Wars but I don't remember any frogs or mice featuring?

Chapter 15: The Widow's Suitors

4. "Let the personages of the drama undergo ever so complete a comedy of errors among themselves, but let the spectator never mistake the Syracusan for the Ephesian; otherwise he is one of the dupes, and the part of a dupe is never dignified."

Ephesus was a city in what was Asia Minor and that's all I know about this reference. Any clues?

Poor Eleanor! I worry that she's too kind-hearted to stand up well to scheming.

"But let the gentle-hearted reader be under no apprehension whatsoever. It is not destined that Eleanor shall marry Mr. Slope or Bertie Stanhope."

But at least we know she comes out of it ok in the end! I enjoyed Trollope's musings on the 'deceit' of not telling readers what will happen at the end of a novel (and also the Udolpho reference).

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 4:26pm Top

>>#70 & #71;

THAT word rhymes with "caw"????? Not in this neck of the woods!

Well, you have to imagine it being said with an English accent!! :D

Or an Australian one, I guess - it rhymes here. Now I'm wasting time trying to imagine your accents!

Anyway, you understand now why Trollope had to bury it so deep in the text.

Please do ask questions if you have them, Laura!


Hmm. There have been a few different rumblings about Daniel Deronda. Maybe a potential tutored read...?

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 4:28pm Top

#74 "Now I'm wasting time trying to imagine your accents!" Tee hee! I did that too.

ETA: Missed your comment about Daniel Deronda. Definitely!

Nov 10, 2012, 4:39pm Top

Chapter 14: The New Champion

1. The implication is that Mr Arabin spends all of his time in study and theory and avoids the "real" work of a minister.

2. Oh, to be only forty again... :(

3. Proving that there is nothing new under the sun, around about 500 B.C. someone wrote a parody of The Iliad (which features "the angers of Agamemnon and Achilles") called The Battle Of The Frogs And The Mice.

Chapter 15: The Widow's Suitors

4. It's a reference to Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors, which features two pairs of twins and lots of mistaken identities and confusion among the characters; the audience is supposed to know better.

And yes, here we have Trollope reassuring everyone about Eleanor. He's right, of course: we should know better than to think she would marry either of them; but that doesn't stop many readers getting cross with him at this point. :)

Nov 10, 2012, 4:41pm Top

...and on the horizon sits Chapter 16, in which we are confronted by---


A full eight years before Bella Wilfer's curls, too! :)

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 7:41pm Top

I find it funny that the reason it took me so long to get the joke was all down to accent! On imagining American accents, I believe our crows would have to say "core" in order to achieve the required rhyme.

Nov 10, 2012, 7:48pm Top

I have made it past Eleanor's curls, and I really don't expect to see them displayed so prominently again. Also, she didn't shake them at an adult, so pass Eleanor.
(À propos that word. When my 12th grade English students read in Macbeth}, "Help! Ho! The lady faints!" {Or whatever the line is}, they demanded to the very last person to know who the Ho was. A sadness if it were not funny.)

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 7:58pm Top

So how do you pronouce "caw"? Because we pronounce it "core"! :)

(All this reminds me of the film Blood For Dracula, in which Dracula is looking for virgins - pronounced "were-gins" - and his adversary - in a broad Brooklyn accent - refers to some unqualified ladies as "hoo-ers". But at least all that was intentional!)

Eleanor's curls in fact become a major plot-point!

Nov 11, 2012, 6:36am Top

>79 LizzieD:: yesterday the hubster and I were out working in the garden and he said, "I'm going to go get a hoe" and, no doubt inspired by this whole exchange, I just fell over laughing.

(Explanatory note for friends in other lands: we are talking here about a slang word for the word that rhymes with caw)

>80 lyzard:: So how do you pronouce "caw"? Because we pronounce it "core"! :)
Oh my, curiouser and curiouser. We pronounce "caw" something like "cah".

Nov 11, 2012, 2:39pm Top


Well, that explains everything and I beg your pardon. And I'm sure Anthony Trollope begs your pardon too! :)

Nov 11, 2012, 4:28pm Top

#82 I second Liz's ohhh :-) Also chuckling away at the ho/hoe stories - thank you ladies!

I've survived Eleanor's curls and have read another 4 chapters this afternoon. Liz - if I start going too fast through BT and bamboozling you with too many questions at once then please say so and I can try to read in smaller sections (it will be hard to stop reading though...)

Chapter 16: Baby Worship

1. The thanks, the humility, the gratitude, the surprise of Mrs. Quiverful had been very overpowering; she had all but embraced the knees of her patroness, and had promised that the prayers of fourteen unprovided babes (so Mrs. Quiverful had described her own family, the eldest of which was a stout young woman of three-and-twenty) should be put up to heaven morning and evening for the munificent friend whom God had sent to them.

Fourteen children? 'Good heavens!' to quote Dr Grantly. Was this (partly) because Mrs Quiverful was using a wet nurse?

2. The conversation between Eleanor Bold and Mr Slope was making me squirm. I'm glad Trollope told us she isn't going to marry him because otherwise I think I would have been a little bit concerned.

Chapter 17: Who Shall Be Cock of the Walk?

3. "If you are busy, another time will do as well," continued the bishop, whose courage, like Bob Acres', had oozed out now that he found himself on the ground of battle.

Who was Bob Acres?

I'm definitely feeling sorry for Mr Proudie now.

Chapter 18: The Widow's Persecution

4. The archdeacon was never ill himself, and did not therefore understand that anyone else could in truth be prevented by illness from keeping an appointment. He regarded all such excuses as subterfuges, and in the present instance he was not far wrong.

I used to work for someone like this :-( In this case, as Trollope points out, he was pretty spot on.

5. "I see it all," said the archdeacon. "The sly tartuffe! He thinks to buy the daughter by providing for the father.

What's a tartuffe?

Nov 11, 2012, 4:35pm Top

Now that is funny, and Ho-story notwithstanding, down here "caw" rhymes with "law" - unless you say "lore" too...... Do you?
Thanks for asking my questions, Heather. I know about Tartuffe, but Bob Acres has me baffled.

Nov 11, 2012, 4:37pm Top

Chapter 19: Barchester by Moonlight

6. "Has he your bill for £700?" said the father, speaking very loudly and very angrily.

"Well, I believe he has," said Bertie, "but all the money I ever got from him was £150."

"And what became of the £550?"

"Why, sir, the commission was £100 or so, and I took the remainder in paving-stones and rocking-horses."

"Paving-stones and rocking-horses!" said the doctor. "Where are they?"

"Oh, sir, I suppose they are in London somewhere—but I'll inquire if you wish for them."

So, Bertie was lent £700 by his Sidonian friend, but the friend deducted £100 as his commission and of the rest Bertie received £150 in money and £450 in rocking-horses and paving stones? Couldn't he have sold the rocking horses and paving stones if they were worth £450? Or, is the point that they aren't worth £450?

7. They all met together in the drawing-room at nine o'clock, in perfect good humour with each other, and about that hour Mrs. Bold was announced. She had never been in the house before, though she had of course called, and now she felt it strange to find herself there in her usual evening dress, entering the drawing-room of these strangers in this friendly, unceremonious way, as though she had known them all her life.

Two questions:

a) If Eleanor had called before but not entered the house does that mean she just called to leave her visiting card in the hallway?

b) When Eleanor mentioned a tea party in the previous chapter I imagined it would be at around 4pm but this sounds like it's starting at 9pm in the evening. I'm now remembering there were different conventions around meal-times and what they were called and I half remember discussing it at some point but I can't remember where. Could you remind me how it works please?

8. "Are you a Whewellite or a Brewsterite, or a t'othermanite, Mrs. Bold?" said Charlotte, who knew a little about everything, and had read about a third of each of the books to which she alluded.

I have no idea what she's talking about.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 4:45pm Top

#84 Hee hee! Yes, I pronounce law as lore (so law rhymes with caw in my book). But, how do you pronounce law then? Lah?

Whilst I've been puzzling over different pronounciations I've found this website which has recordings of people from different countries (mainly the US and the UK so far) which has been quite enlightening! I think I can hear the different pronounciations of law/lore and law/lah here:


I would pronounce law the way bananaman does on the link above (maybe not quite as posh). Peggy, would you be more like snowcrocus?

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 4:53pm Top


You're averaging one question a chapter at the moment, so I think I'll cope. :)

(But have you seen what Madeline has been handing me over at The Monk!? Good heavens!!)

Chapter 16: Baby Worship

1. It was not unusual for a woman of this time to give birth to fourteen children; it was very unusual to have so many survive - and their mother too, for that matter. I'm not sure if we should consider Mrs Quiverful lucky or unlucky. :)

She may have had a wet nurse in the early days but as time went on I doubt she could afford one.

2. You're meant to squirm, but you're certainly not meant to misjudge Eleanor to that extent! (Although if you do, you won't be alone!)

Chapter 17: Who Shall Be Cock of the Walk?

3. Ah! Yet another reference to Sheridan's The Rivals, which Trollope made use of in The Warden, as you may remember. Bob Acres is challenged to a duel and feels his courage "oozing out as it were through the palms of my hands".

I'm definitely feeling sorry for Mr Proudie now.

Get used to hearing, "Well, my dear..." almost as often as you hear "Good heavens!"

Chapter 18: The Widow's Persecution

4. He felt himself not very well just at present; and began to consider that he might, not improbably, be detained in his room the next morning by an attack of bile. He was, unfortunately, very subject to bilious annoyances...

I bet he is. In fact, I'm only surprised that he doesn't have an ulcer. :)

5. He's the central character of Moliere's comedy Tartuffe - and a religious hypocrite.

Nov 11, 2012, 4:53pm Top


Good heavens!!

I'm with Heather on this one, too - yes, indeed we do say "lore". :)

Peggy, you'll find both Bob Acres and Tartuffe in #87.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 7:27pm Top


Chapter 19: Barchester by Moonlight

6. Money-lending at exhorbitant interest and bill-discounting were common (though not exactly legal) practices at the time and you will find a great many of Trollope's young men falling into this trap. In this case, Bertie was apparently so desperate for money he signed an IOU for 700 pounds, but received only 250 - 150 personally - and the rest in goods (which he doesn't want, and which isn't worth the difference, but which allows the money-lender to argue a fair exchange); it reduces the interest charges, but in the end he still owes 700 pounds on the 250 he received.

7a. Yes, there would have been an exchange of cards between the Stanhopes and Eleanor - theirs would have indicated that they were settled and ready to receive visitors, hers back would have been signalling her willingness to be acquainted.

7b. Generally, hours for the middle- and upper-classes were skewed from what we're used to today. People rose and breakfasted much later. In the country, the main meal was at about 4.00pm; then there was "tea" at around 9.00pm. If you invited evening guests, you would serve supper at around midnight (as Mrs Proudie did at her reception).

Things were different in London, usually pushed later again, with breakfast between 10.00am - 11.00am. "Morning calls" usually took place between 3.00pm - 6.00pm. Dinner would be around 8.00, and evening visits after that. Balls often didn't start until 10.00pm, and didn't break up until 4.00am.

8. In the 1850s there was a great deal of popular interest in astronomy and even debates about the possibility of life on other planets - this is what Charlotte is referring to. The most famous debate was between William Whewell (author of the essay Of The Plurality Of Worlds), who denied the possibility of life in space, and David Brewster who argued otherwise (and published a book called More Worlds Than One). There were other writings by other people with a variety of opinions, and these would be Charlotte's "t'othermanites".

Nov 11, 2012, 7:24pm Top

Whewellites and Brewsterites ... that's what I was waiting to hear more about. Thanks!

Nov 11, 2012, 8:49pm Top

Very good! Thanks again.... I'm about to start Chapter 21, so I'm not far ahead at all.
Heather, that was a very entertaining link. I'm guessing that Laura would sound more like snowcrocus. I'm closer to babsrocks, but she really doesn't have the drawl that I do.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 11:25pm Top

Chapter 20 (or Volume II Chapter 1, according to which edition you have) brings us back to the point of religious factional conflict at this time. In the portrait of Mr Arabin's career we have a potted history of the Oxford Movement and also a sketch of the different layers of "High Church" that could be found.

We also find Anthony Trollope's personal philosophy that asceticism (not to mention celibacy), far from being a mark of the sincerity of your faith, is a rejection of pleasures that God meant people to have and enjoy, and therefore rather silly:

The case of Mr Arabin was the more singular, as he belonged to a branch of the Church of England well inclined to regard its temporalities with avowed favour...

According to Trollope, an ascetic High Churchman is not often to be met with... :)

Nov 11, 2012, 9:10pm Top

Hello everyone! This is the first time I've visited the thread, and just read the introductory comments so far, as I ended up starting on The Hobbit a couple of days ago. This will delay me further before I can start on BT and I fear Heather will be all done with it by then, but I know I'll find plenty of interesting material here.

I was glad to see Kerry recommending the Timothy West version on audio, because that's precisely the one I got! I guess I'll be back in 3 or 4 days, or however long it takes me to get through the Tolkien.

Looking forward to it!

Nov 11, 2012, 9:21pm Top

Hi, Ilana!

Well, we're only at the end of Volume I at the moment, so you never know! Anyway, glad to have you here whenever you can make it. :)

Nov 12, 2012, 5:10pm Top

Thanks for the responses Liz - I got home a bit later tonight so although I'm still planning to curl up with some Trollope I think it will be when I'm in bed so I'll post my questions tomorrow.

Hi Ilana :-) Join us! (when you're ready)

Nov 12, 2012, 9:47pm Top

Yes, I'll most definitely jump in as soon as I'm done with The Hobbit. I just got so excited about the movie coming out (only found out about it a couple of weeks ago), so as soon as I found out I reserved the audiobook from the library, copied it onto my HD and downloaded it to my iPhone and started listening to it within the hour. Something I've NEVER done before.

Anyway, after reading your intro about the novel Liz, I'm quite excited about getting into it.

Nov 13, 2012, 4:14am Top

I only managed to read one chapter last night before falling asleep!

Chapter 20: Mr Arabin

1. From Winchester he went to Oxford, and was entered as a commoner at Balliol.

Is this the equivalent of a Cambridge sizar?

2. He utterly eschewed the society of fast men, gave no wine-parties, kept no horses, rowed no boats, joined no rows, and was the pride of his college tutor. Such at least was his career till he had taken his little go, and then he commenced a course of action which, though not less creditable to himself as a man, was hardly so much to the taste of the tutor.

What is a little go?

3. How great an amount of good of this description has followed that movement in the Church of England which commenced with the publication of Froude's Remains!

What was Froude's Remains?

4. As a boy young Arabin took up the cudgels on the side of the Tractarians, and at Oxford he sat for a while at the feet of the great Newman.

I had to go back up to msg 36 to remind myself what Tractarians were. They were very High Church and Newman and some others eventually left the Anglican church and joined the Roman Catholic church. I think I even have a copy of Newmans' autobiography (unread of course).

5. Griselda was surprised to find that he looked so young


6. It did not occur to Mr. Arabin that he was spoken of at all. It seemed to him, when he compared himself with his host, that he was a person of so little consequence to any, that he was worth no one's words or thoughts.


7. He had professed himself indifferent to mitres and diaconal residences, to rich livings and pleasant glebes

I know mitres are the funny hats bishops wear. Are diaconal residences are the residences of deacons? And what is a glebe?

Phew - I found that chapter quite hard going (perhaps I shouldn't try to read this late at night). So, Mr Arabin is another man with not quite enough money looking for a wife. Hmm.

Nov 13, 2012, 5:13am Top

Hello, I'm a little behind in the reading (just past the sermon, not yet at the Stanhopes, but I wanted to catch up on this thread. I love the discussion of law/lore etc and trying to imagine everyone's accents. I didn't get the rude word without Liz's hint even with an English accent so there's no way I'd have managed if I pronounced it differently.

On Mr and Mrs Quiverfull, I wonder if people have picked up the origin of the name? So far I've only come across a brief reference to Mr Q, so maybe Trollope spells out the name more later, but for those who know psalms, its a reference to Psalm 127 verses 4 & 5, in which children are described as a blessing from the Lord, and like arrows 'Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them'. Mrs Quiverfull is perhaps not so happy, managing such a full quiver on such a small budget (and having had to give birth to them all to begin with).

Edited: Nov 14, 2012, 7:01pm Top

Chapter 20: Mr Arabin

1. No, almost the opposite; an Oxford 'commoner' is someone who does not hold a scholarship, who paid their own fees.

2. 'Little go' was the first examination sat by someone studying for a B.A.

3. Hurrell Froude was a Tractarian and an early leader of the Oxford Movement who died in 1836. He was one of those who called for the revival of the older traditiions of the church. His writings were published posthumously as Remains Of The Late Reverend Richard Hurrell Froude. This was not technically the start of the Oxford Movement, but it was a very significant event that gave the Movement a whole new impetus. (Though on the other side of the fence the writings were interpreted as Froude's secret longing for the re-establishment of the Catholic church.)

4. Yes, that's correct. Newman and Froude were both at the very forefront of the Oxford Movement. (I have Newman's Loss And Gain, which is a fictionalised account of his conversion.) And here we see that Mr Arabin was very close to that 'inner circle'.

7. 'Diaconal' is the adjectival form of 'deacon'; in context the 'diaconal residence' that Mr Arabin is {*cough*} not coveting is Plumstead, the Archdeacon's home. A glebe is the portion of land granted to a clergyman as part of his living.

That's the last of the hard-going religious chapters, I think. The necessity of being specific about Mr Arabin is to show not just that he is Mr Slope's polar opposite, which we knew, but how far he is at the same time from the Archdeacon's comfortable way of proceeding. We're still having the degrees of the Church of England dissected out for us, to show how much factionalisation there was even within the same faction. Trollope is sympathetic with those who go 'too High' (as long as they don't 'topple over'), but on the whole (and we see this in some of his other novels, too) he thinks it's something likely to afflict the young and enthusiastic, and that at his age Mr Arabin really should have gotten over it... :)

Nov 13, 2012, 7:43am Top

#98 I hadn't picked up the origin of the Quiverful's name - thanks for sharing that Genny!

#99 and that at his age Mr Arabin really should have gotten over it... Well, Mr Arabin was very old as we've been told :-)

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 8:31am Top

>98 gennyt:, 100: I love the Quiverful origin!
>99 lyzard:: very helpful explanations of Froude's Remains, which I couldn't help thinking of in the dead person sense.

I will resume reading later today, having taken a break and finished a short book.

Nov 13, 2012, 11:40am Top

Chapter 21: St Ewold's Parsonage

1. She began to think that she was getting tired of clergymen and their respectable, humdrum, wearisome mode of living

Hold up Eleanor, we've still got two volumes to go!

2. "It is so easy to condemn," said he, continuing the thread of his thoughts. "I know no life that must be so delicious as that of a writer for newspapers, or a leading member of the opposition—to thunder forth accusations against men in power; to show up the worst side of everything that is produced; to pick holes in every coat; to be indignant, sarcastic, jocose, moral, or supercilious; to damn with faint praise, or crush with open calumny! What can be so easy as this when the critic has to be responsible for nothing? You condemn what I do, but put yourself in my position and do the reverse, and then see if I cannot condemn you."

Very true.

3. "Arabin," said he, speaking in his usual loud, clear voice and with that tone of dictation which was so common to him, "you must positively alter this dining-room—that is, remodel it altogether. Look here, it is just sixteen feet by fifteen; did any man ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions!" The archdeacon stepped the room long-ways and cross-ways with ponderous steps, as though a certain amount of ecclesiastical dignity could be imparted even to such an occupation as that by the manner of doing it. "Barely sixteen; you may call it a square."

I thought at first Dr Grantly thought the dining room was too small (it's bigger than any of the rooms in my apartment) but reading further on it seems he's more bothered by it being square. Presumably this made it difficult to fit in a long narrow dining table? A round table to be avoided at all costs.

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 12:28pm Top

Chapter 22: The Thornes of Ullathorne

This chapter really lost me :-( I have some specific questions but in general I don't understand why the Thornes have suddenly been introduced or what Trollope is trying to do here. HELP!!

1. Wilfred Thorne, Esq., of Ullathorne, was the squire of St. Ewold's—or, rather, the squire of Ullathorne, for the domain of the modern landlord was of wider notoriety than the fame of the ancient saint. He was a fair specimen of what that race has come to in our days which, a century ago, was, as we are told, fairly represented by Squire Western.

Is Ullathorne near Barchester? I couldn't see that it had been mentioned before.

Who was Squire Western?

2. His favourite authors were Montaigne and Burton

Who were Montaigne and Burton and what is this supposed to tell us about Thorne?

3. He would gently sigh if you spoke of the blood of the Fitzgeralds and De Burghs; would hardly allow the claims of the Howards and Lowthers; and has before now alluded to the Talbots as a family who had hardly yet achieved the full honours of a pedigree.

Are these old aristocratic families? Why does Thorne feel their claims aren't quite good enough (or as good as his)?

4. In politics Mr. Thorne was an unflinching conservative. He looked on those fifty-three Trojans who, as Mr. Dod tells us, censured free trade in November, 1852, as the only patriots left among the public men of England. When that terrible crisis of free trade had arrived, when the repeal of the Corn Laws was carried by those very men whom Mr. Thorne had hitherto regarded as the only possible saviours of his country, he was for a time paralysed.

Can you give me a bit of background about this?

5. She spoke of Addison, Swift, and Steele as though they were still living, regarded Defoe as the best known novelist of his country, and thought of Fielding as a young but meritorious novice in the fields of romance. In poetry, she was familiar with names as late as Dryden, and had once been seduced into reading "The Rape of the Lock;" but she regarded Spenser as the purest type of her country's literature in this line.

I think these are all 18th century authors. Miss Thorne isn't a fan of contemporary (19th century) work?

6. Genealogy was her favourite insanity. Those things which are the pride of most genealogists were to her contemptible. Arms and mottoes set her beside herself. Ealfried of Ullathorne had wanted no motto to assist him in cleaving to the brisket Geoffrey De Burgh, and Ealfried's great grandfather, the gigantic Ullafrid, had required no other arms than those which nature gave him to hurl from the top of his own castle a cousin of the base invading Norman. To her all modern English names were equally insignificant: Hengist, Horsa, and such like had for her ears the only true savour of nobility. She was not contented unless she could go beyond the Saxons, and would certainly have christened her children, had she had children, by the names of the ancient Britons. In some respects she was not unlike Scott's Ulrica, and had she been given to cursing, she would certainly have done so in the names of Mista, Skogula, and Zernebock. Not having submitted to the embraces of any polluting Norman, as poor Ulrica had done, and having assisted no parricide, the milk of human kindness was not curdled in her bosom. She never cursed therefore, but blessed rather. This, however, she did in a strange uncouth Saxon manner that would have been unintelligible to any peasants but her own.

Why does Miss Thorne admire the Saxons so much? (I think Hengist and Horsa are Saxon names anyway).

Who was Ulrica? Is this a character of Walter Scott?

7. If asked whom she thought the Queen should take as her counsellor, she would probably have named Lord Eldon, and when reminded that that venerable man was no longer present in the flesh to assist us, she would probably have answered with a sigh that none now could help us but the dead.

Who was Lord Eldon?

8. She was accustomed to speak of Cranmer as though he had been the firmest and most simple-minded of martyrs, and of Elizabeth as though the pure Protestant faith of her people had been the one anxiety of her life. It would have been cruel to undeceive her, had it been possible; but it would have been impossible to make her believe that the one was a time-serving priest, willing to go any length to keep his place, and that the other was in heart a papist, with this sole proviso, that she should be her own pope.

I get the impression Trollope doesn't like Cranmer or Elizabeth I. Were these views common at the time? I thought Cranmer was considered to be a martyr - he recanted but then withdrew his recantation and was killed for it.

9. We know what was the custom of the lady of Branksome—

Nine-and-twenty knights of fame
Hung their shields in Branksome Hall.

Who was the lady of Branksome?

10. What, not an oriel? says Miss Diana de Midellage

Who was Diana de Midellage?

11. The hall was hung round with family female insipidities by Lely and unprepossessing male Thornes in red coats by Kneller, each Thorne having been let into a panel in the wainscoting, in the proper manner.

Lely and Kneller were artists?

12. Ullathorne Hall - what am I supposed to understand from the descriptions of the Hall? It seems a bit old-fashioned and odd but I'm not sure why.

Nov 13, 2012, 12:21pm Top

I am curious about the Thornes as well. I found Chapter 22 amusing but wondered where Trollope was going with these folks. I see the next book in the Chronicles is called Dr Thorne, so ... ??

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 2:21pm Top


Hi, Genny! I missed your post last night. I think Trollope makes reference to the origin of the Quiverfuls' name when he introduces them towards the end of The Warden.

Well, Mr Arabin was very old as we've been told :-)

One thing I should have mentioned before this--- Trollope was (and is) very unusual as a professional writer, as he didn't publish his first novel until he was forty. You therefore tend to find moments in his novels when he starts shaking his head ruefully over the foolishness of men of that age (what we would probably call a mid-life crisis). I'm sure Mr Arabin's age is no coincidence.

As for Heather's other questions---good heavens!! I shall have to tackle those when I have a bit more time on my hands.

Yes, when I said we were over the difficult religious stuff, I was right, but then I forgot about the Thornes lurking around the corner... :)

Nov 13, 2012, 2:31pm Top

#105 I shall have to tackle those when I have a bit more time on my hands. That's fine - no rush. :-)

Nov 13, 2012, 4:24pm Top

Chapter 21: St Ewold's Parsonage

1. But do we blame her?? :)

2. Like being the Opposition rather than the Government.

3. Yes, but this is more about delineating the Archdeacon's character than about the pros and cons of dining-tables. The very reason that King Arthur introduced a round table, so everyone would be equal, is also the reason why the Archdeacon objects to them: he likes a tables with a definite 'head' and someone in charge. Also, the Archdeacon is so comfortable in his wealth that as soon as he sees an inconvenience his first thought is to throw money at it. Of course this goes back to the text of The Warden as well as of this novel, regarding the different incomes within the church and what people were asked to do in exchange for them.

Edited: Nov 15, 2012, 6:21pm Top

Just a few remarks before I answer your questions, Heather.

Trollope is doing at least four different things in this chapter. In the first place, simply, he is enjoying himself as a writer with detailed character sketches. That leads into point two, which is that he's sketching a type of person, and a way of life, that in the mid-19th century was rapidly fading away. It's a sympathetic portrait, but it also serves (in connection with the novel's main themes) as a reminder that hanging onto the past in all things, and at all cost, is not necessarily desirable or practical. Some of Mr Slope's "rubbish of the past" is just rubbish, after all. There needs to be a careful sifting of the valuable from the habitual.

The deeper significance of this chapter is that it's our first real look at the world outside Barchester - Trollope is starting to sketch Barsetshire for us, to give us an idea of its geography and to populate it with the various families who will become recurrent figures in the rest of the 'Barset' novels and some of the Palliser novels. (Most modern editions of these novels provide a map as a frontispiece.) This suggests to me that he'd had a sort of artistic epiphany, and realised the greater possibilities of the world he was inventing.

Chapter 22: The Thornes of Ullathorne

1. Ullathorne has not been mentioned before; it is an important and quite ancient family estate some distance (in country terms) outside Barchester.

Another novel reference: Squire Western is the heroine's father in Tom Jones, the very model of the old fox-hunting, hard-drinking, hard-swearing country squire. Trollope is making the point that English people - particularly country gentlemen - have come a long way in the past 100 years in terms of manners and behaviour.

2. & 5. That, like his sister, he lives in the past mourning "the good old days" (some things never change). Montaigne was a famous French essayist of the 16th century; Burton published The Anatomy Of Melancholy in the early 17th century. These would have been standard works in any gentleman's library - but then the next passage tells us, with regard to his collections of The Rambler, The Idler and The Tatler, all famous periodicals, that Mr Thorne's library goes no further than the first half of the 18th century. Miss Thorne, likewise, only admires writers of the previously century or earlier. The reference here to Fielding takes us back to the opening remark about Squire Western.

3. & 6. Think back to Robin Hood and Ivanhoe! :)

In England there were the Saxons and the Normans: the Saxons were the descendants of the Germanic tribes that settled England in about the 5th century and who gave England its first kings; the Normans were the descendants of the French who ruled England after William the Conqueror defeated and killed King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (and all that!).

So there were families of Saxon descent and families of Norman descent. The Normans gave rise to most of the English aristocracy but people of Saxon descent (often "the gentry") had older ancestry and prided themselves on being the "true English", as opposed to a bunch of foreign Johnny-come-lately-s.

The Thornes are of Saxon descent and additionally pride themselves on the fact that their ancestors successful defended the family castle against a Norman attack. The families that the Thornes shake their heads over were considered the oldest nobility in England, with titles dating back centuries, but that's not good enough for true Saxons.

Ulrica is a character in Ivanhoe - a Saxon, obviously, who goes mad after terrible things are done to her by the dastardly Normans.

4, Okay, this will take some explaining. In short, the Corn Laws were at the centre of a very familiar debate over tariffs and free trade.

Throughout the 19th century there were many periods of economic depression in England, particularly agricultural depression, and other upheavals caused by the shift towards a manufacturing economy. The Corn Laws were a "protectionist" policy introduced in 1815 (at the end of the Napoleonic Wars) that put a high tariff on imported grain in order to discourage importation and force up prices for home-grown grain. They were controversial because, although they were intended to protect English farmers, they discouraged importation even when the local crops failed, and when periods of famine made importation necessary (or at least highly desirable).

There were political arguments either way - the Corn Laws were seen to favour the agricultural interest that was tied to the landed gentry / aristocracy, in opposition to the manufacturing interest, and it was argued that local prices were too high for many working-class people - although there was a counter-claim that the manufacturing interest wanted the price of grain to drop so it could get away with cutting wages. As you can tell from the language I'm using, politically the Conservatives favoured the retention of the Corn Laws while the Liberals were in favour of free trade. The Conservatives in this case were viewed as standing up for the agricultural section and were therefore very popular with the large land-owners (who were traditionally Conservative / Tory anyway).

There were moves to repeal the Corn Laws from the late 1830s onwards. In 1844 Sir Robert Peel was elected Conservative Prime Minister, and in 1845 there was a severe crop failure that resulted in the Great Famine in Ireland and high prices and scarce goods in England. Late in 1845 Peel recalled Parliament and repealed the Corn Laws, introducing a program to roll back their provisions over the next three years. To cut a long story short, the decision split the Conservatives and brought down the government, which was replaced by a Liberal government led by Lord John Russell...who of course began inquiring into such things as church revenues, and the reformation of Oxford University.

Over the next decade, free trade became increasingly a matter of reality, much to the disgust of traditional land-owners like Mr Thorne: we hear that Mr Thorne was "paralysed" by the repeal of the Corn Laws under a Conservative government. In 1852 there was a Parliamentary resolution that passed in favour of free trade by a count of 468 - 53. Mr Thorne's "53 Trojans" are those who voted against the measure.

7. Lord Eldon was a politician who served as Lord Chancellor in the very early 19th century and had been dead for about twenty years at the time Miss Thorne wanted to recruit him. He was a Whig of the old-fashioned sort, and probably appealed to Miss Thorne as being, like her, somewhat anachronistic.

8. Elizabeth is extremely unkindly handled in English literature of the 18th and 19th centuries (as opposed to sympathetic portraits of Mary, Queen of Scots), for reasons I haven't yet been able to figure out. I get the sense here that Trollope disapproves of her as a woman who maintained autonomous power by refusing to marry, and who was therefore "unwomanly" - like Mrs Proudie but even worse!

Probably Miss Thorne's view of Cranmer as "single-minded", when in fact he vacillated and shifted position and recanted several times, is to show her rather simple, black-and-white way of thinking.

9. More Walter Scott! Trollope was an admirer of Scott, as is evident throughout these passages. The Lady Of Branksome appears in The Lay Of The Last Minstrel, which is quoted here.

10. Heh! Try reading it "Midell-age". Any spinster of uncertain years.

(Oh, and note the oriel window! Trollope loves those!)

11. Lely and Kneller were the leading artists during the Restoration and painted many famous portraits of the Stuarts (and of the various mistresses, mostly Nell Gwyn).

12. Ullathorne is a Saxon fortress, built on feudal principles, and very little effort has been made to introduce modern comforts - the Thornes would rather be traditional.

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 7:42pm Top

Good heavens!!

Likewise, phew! :)

Nov 13, 2012, 8:37pm Top

Bless you, Liz! And also you, Heather for asking some of the questions I wanted asked. I get all of the pleasure and insight and none of the work - wow!
I do get completely tied up with Whigs and Tories. Here, I had assumed that Miss Thorne would be a Tory, but Liz, you say that Lord Eldon was an old-fashioned Whig. Did the two sides change names or positions or am I just confused? If you can straighten me out on that, you will have done me an immense favor.
My only question was about the verb "cosher," which again, I'm too lazy to look up in the OED. The meaning is clear from context (Miss Thorne is being especially caring toward Eleanor); it's just an interesting word that I had never seen. Never mind. I'll take that one and report back. I'm a little ahead - about to start chapter 27. The plot is thickening very nicely!

Nov 13, 2012, 8:55pm Top

>110 LizzieD:: I get all of the pleasure and insight and none of the work - wow!
Oh, I agree! This is wonderful. Heather is asking all of my questions and Liz, your answers are so wonderfully illuminating. I've read these chapters and gotten the gist of it but much prefer the deeper understanding.

And I wondered about "cosher" too. I'm reading on Kindle which has provided definitions for several of the more antiquated words, but not this one.

Nov 13, 2012, 9:27pm Top

Thank you, people - much appreciated!

Miss Thorne would be a Tory, like her brother, but the very old-fashioned views held by Eldon (who, like the Thornes, seems to have suffered a kind of arrested development politically, never making it out of the 17th century) may have appealed to her.

"Cosher" is actually an Irish-ism, which is interesting; Trollope spent a number of years living and working in Ireland, and his first two novels are set there. The English equivalent is "cosset": to pamper or indulge someone.

Nov 14, 2012, 2:50am Top

Phew, good heavens and thank you very much Liz! :-)

I think I'll reread chapter 22, bearing in mind your answers above.

#110 - 112 I must have blinked and missed cosher so thank you for asking and Liz for answering again.

Nov 14, 2012, 4:34am Top

When I read this chapter in my recent re-read I knew enough to understand what Trollope what meaning to convey but it is good to have all the details explained - without taking the bother of asking! so thank you Heather as well as Liz.

Nov 14, 2012, 1:07pm Top

To do my part (and thank you for "cosher," Liz), I'll say that you will soon come across the verb "boody" which means "sulk." It was rare, says the OED, and they even quote Trollope's sentence from *BT*.

Nov 14, 2012, 1:19pm Top

So many interesting words! Interesting how language shifts and evolves isn't it?

Nov 14, 2012, 4:16pm Top

Well, I'm happy to say that I reread chapter 22 today and it made a lot more sense thanks to Liz's answers - thank you again!

#108 Most modern editions of these novels provide a map as a frontispiece.

You're right, I do have a map. It doesn't have Ullathorne on which confused me initially but on rereading the chapter I realised we were told right at the beginning that Ullathorne is next to St Ewold's which is on my map.

This isn't the map in my edition but I found a nice colourful one (click on the image to go to a larger one):

which was replaced by a Liberal government led by Lord John Russell...who of course began inquiring into such things as church revenues, and the reformation of Oxford University.

A strange coincidence, I've just noticed Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (which I'm also reading) is dedicated to Lord John Russell. I suspect Dickens and Trollope would not have agreed about politics.

Elizabeth is extremely unkindly handled in English literature of the 18th and 19th centuries

Was it her hair? :-(

Oh, and note the oriel window! Trollope loves those!

I remember the oriel windows from The Warden :-)

#115 & 116 I'm going to have to start trying to use some of these new words in conversation!

Nov 14, 2012, 4:39pm Top

I promise I have fewer questions about the next few chapters...

Chapter 23: Mr Arabin Reads Himself in at St. Ewold's

1. He had always been an opponent of free trade as long as free trade was an open question, and now that it was no longer so, he, being a clergyman, had not been obliged, like most of his lay Tory companions, to read his recantation.

I'd hoped I would be able to puzzle this passage out in light of your comments above but I think I still need a little help.

Is the reference to recanting Tories the 468 who voted for free trade in 1852? Why was Dr Grantly excluded as a clergyman?

2. The two ecclesiastical officers touched their hats, and each made a leg in the approved rural fashion

Does this mean they bowed?

3. Mr. Arabin's bright eye twinkled as he caught that of the archdeacon, and he smiled to himself as he observed how ignorant his officers were of the nature of their authority and of the surveillance which it was their duty to keep even over himself.

Why were the churchwardens supposed to keep Mr Arabin in order?

4. But for ourselves we must own that the deep affection which Dominie Sampson felt for his young pupils has not more endeared him to us than the bashful spirit which sent him mute and inglorious from the pulpit when he rose there with the futile attempt to preach God's gospel.

Who was Dominie Sampson?

Chapter 24: Mr. Slope Manages Matters Very Cleverly at Puddingdale

No questions! I think Mr. Slope is slippery enough to make a very effective politician.

Chapter 25: Mr. Slope Manages Matters Very Cleverly at Puddingdale

5. Medea and her children are familiar to us, and so is the grief of Constance.

Medea sounds like a Greek name so I think this might be a reference to a Greek legend?

6. E'en such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
So dull, so dead in look, so woe-begone,
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night.

Not sure about this one? Is it Scott again? (I need to read more Scott, don't I?)

7. If it were intended that she should be ill-used in the manner proposed by Mr. Slope, it should not be done under the rose.

What does under the rose mean?

8. having explained to his wife that most urgent business required her to go at once to Barchester, begged that Farmer Subsoil would take her thither in his tax-cart.

What was a tax-cart? Farmer Subsoil is a good name for a farmer :-)

Nov 14, 2012, 4:39pm Top

Heather, thank you for the map! My Kindle edition doesn't have one. And I loooove maps. BTW, Ullathorne is on the map, right next to St Ewold's as you said. And I see now we have many more geographies to explore as we work our way through the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

Edited: Nov 14, 2012, 7:14pm Top


That's beautiful, thank you!

I suspect Dickens and Trollope would not have agreed about politics.

Among other things. :)

I don't recall Dickens saying anything specific about church reform in his novels, although Peggy can probably answer that one better that I can.

Was it her hair? :-(

I really couldn't say - probably!! :) This is just an observation of mine, which I haven't had a chance to look into properly, but many novels of the period definitely cast her as the villain of the piece. Perhaps, like Trollope, they considered her "unwomanly", whereas Mary's romantic blundering was more properly feminine?

Nov 14, 2012, 4:42pm Top


...and the Palliser novels.

Just saying.

Edited: Nov 14, 2012, 7:17pm Top

Chapter 23: Mr Arabin Reads Himself in at St. Ewold's

1. Many Conservative politicians voted for and spoke in favour of free trade, even though they personally continued to disapprove of it, because it became party policy. This is of course the ridiculous thing - one of the ridiculous things - about party politics.

The Archdeacon, not being a politician, is free to go on voicing his disapproval of free trade.

2. Yes. Presumably there was a particular little ritual to be gone through - "the approved rural fashion".

3. Churchwardens sit on the parish board (if that's the right term - Genny?), and have both secular responsibilities such as looking after church property and keeping the peace on church land, and moral responsibilities such as acting as role models for the parish. Churchwardens were also supposed to keep an eye on the activities of the clergyman, and to report any deviations from strict ecclesiastical law to the bishop.

Mr Arabin is aware of the latter but clearly his churchwardens are not - they interpret his remark, "Not very severe, I hope?" as meaning he thinks one of their duties is to make the local children behave in church.

4. Still more Walter Scott! Dominie Sampson is a character in Guy Mannering.

Chapter 25: Fourteen Arguments {NB: title slip!}

5. These are famous angry / grieving mothers. Medea is a character from Greek mythology. She was deserted by Jason (as in "---And The Argonauts") so that he could make a political marriage, and in revenge she murdered their children. Constance appears in Shakespeare's King John, grieving for her son after he has been captured by his enemies.

6. Well, yes. :) But this one's Shakespeare again - Henry IV.

7. Sub rosa - "under the rose" - meaning secretly, or in confidence. The rose was traditionally a symbol of secrecy.

8. Carriage- and cart-owners were subject to taxation; a tax-cart was a two-wheeled cart used by farmers and people in trade, which attracted a lower tax than a four-wheeled cart.

Nov 14, 2012, 10:31pm Top

>120 lyzard: Robert Newsome (U.California-Irvine) says in my handy-dandy *Dickens Companion*: "...he heartily disliked church politics and any public display of piety. Since most forms of dissent were intensely interested in doctrine, in church politics, and in announcing their doctrines and politics to the world, it is safe to say that even though Dickens had no dislike for dissent in theory, he was certainly intensely hostile to it in its more evangelical manifestations." He goes on to quote the man himself on distinguishing "between religion and the cant of religion, piety and the pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and meanest affairs of life." I think we can safely conclude that CD had no interest in AT's territory.

Edited: Nov 14, 2012, 10:51pm Top

Not necessarily - from what you say they were entirely in agreement about the Evangelicals. :)

In fact it sounds as if in this respect they were in agreement on quite a lot, only one of them put it aside and the other turned it into novel-fodder.

Thanks for that!

Nov 15, 2012, 9:34pm Top

Just to say: I'm off to give Coco his evening walk, have BT loaded on my iPhone and starting to listen NOW. :-)

Nov 15, 2012, 9:39pm Top

Excellent! :)

Nov 15, 2012, 9:40pm Top

>124 lyzard: Well, yes and no. CD would never write a book about the ins and outs of C of E politics, but he did tear up the evangelical preachers and the old ladies they preyed on.
I'm in chapter 35 and looking forward to Heather's questions about the Lazarus College tutor. If she doesn't have any, I do!

Nov 15, 2012, 9:43pm Top

If she doesn't have any, I do!


Nov 16, 2012, 2:37am Top

Sorry for not posting yesterday - I was very tired after work. I got to the end of chapter 27 and will post some questions this evening.

#127 Peggy, as I'm a fair way behind you do you want to go ahead and post your questions on chapter 35 now rather than waiting?

Edited: Nov 16, 2012, 9:05am Top

No, thank you, Heather. It's nothing that touches understanding the story - just sheer curiosity. I'll happily wait. AND I hope that you got some good rest last night. I'm going to go ahead and finish in the next couple of days, I hope. Then I can sit back, relax, and have my comprehension expanded.

Nov 16, 2012, 9:27am Top

>130 LizzieD:: I'm around Ch 33 and taking the same approach.

Nov 16, 2012, 3:32pm Top

#125 Oh good! Please add any further comments or questions as you read.

I have a very quiet weekend with lots of resting and reading planned... BT is top of the list.

Chapter 26: Mrs. Proudie Wrestles and Gets a Fall

No questions.

Chapter 27: A Love Scene

Good heavens!

1. "Take my advice," said she. "Never mind love. After all, what is it? The dream of a few weeks. That is all its joy. The disappointment of a life is its Nemesis. Who was ever successful in true love? Success in love argues that the love is false. True love is always despondent or tragical. Juliet loved, Haidee loved, Dido loved, and what came of it? Troilus loved and ceased to be a man."

"Troilus loved and was fooled," said the more manly chaplain. "A man may love and yet not be a Troilus. All women are not Cressidas."

"No, all women are not Cressidas. The falsehood is not always on the woman's side. Imogen was true, but how was she rewarded? Her lord believed her to be the paramour of the first he who came near her in his absence. Desdemona was true and was smothered. Ophelia was true and went mad. There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel. But in wealth, money, houses, lands, goods, and chattels, in the good things of this world, yes, in them there is something tangible, something that can be retained and enjoyed."

These are all tragic love heroes and heroines I think. I can't place Haidee or Imogen though.

2. It was Philidor pitted against a schoolboy.

Who was Philidor?

3. "Come," said she, "don't boody with me: don't be angry because I speak out some home truths"

Ah ha! Thank you Peggy!

I had some thoughts about Mr Slope following this chapter but I have end-of-week brain and don't seem to be able to put them into words. I'll try tomorrow.

Edited: Nov 16, 2012, 4:20pm Top

Chapter 27: A Love Scene

Yes; this:

There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.

...which I think comes back to Trollope giving away his endings: "Come on, people! You know they're going to live happily ever after!" The ending isn't what matters; and in fact, the ending of this one finds Trollope bemoaning how hard endings are to write, and how no-one is ever satisfied with them anyway.

(Note, too, the distinction between English novels and those from anywhere else: this period saw the rise of the French and Russian novelists who were not so attached to the happy ending, to say the least; perhaps Trollope envied them their freedom from convention. Conversely, in Anna Karenina we have Anna reading an unnamed English novel which is clearly a Trollope pastiche: The hero of the novel had nearly attained to his English happiness of a baronetcy and an estate...)

While this is at least partially joking, it reminds me that I meant to draw attention to another remarkable bit of rebellion that Trollope puts into Madeline's mouth in Chapter 15:

"You know as well as I do in what way husbands and wives generally live together: you know how far the warmth of conjugal affection can stand the trial of a bad dinner, of a rainy day, or of the least privation which poverty brings with it: you know what freedom a man claims for himself, what slavery he would exact from his wife if he could! And you know also how wives generally obey. Marriage means tyranny on one side and deceit on the other..."

There are passages in later Trollope novels where he is so entirely the smug, narrow-minded, conventional Victorian male that you just want to punch him in the face; where his verdict on what constitutes a "proper" woman's life is stifling to the point of cruelty. So where did this come from? Or where did it go? He doesn't necessarily vindicate Madeline, but he doesn't go out of his way to dispute her assertions, either.

The most frustrating contradiction in Trollope is that while he wrote some of Victorian literature's most devasting portraits of unhappy marriages, and of women being pushed towards loveless marriages, he seems nevertheless to have been utterly unable to imagine any other fate for a woman but marriage. Even when he consciously set out to write about an unmarried woman's life in Miss Mackenzie, he finally threw up his hands and married her off. It's a strange failure of imagination in a man who in other contexts showed a marvellous capacity to put himself inside the head of people he was in profound disagreement with.

Anyway (sorry about that!)---

1. Haidee is from Byron's Don Juan; Imogen is from Shakespeare's Cymbeline.

2. Philidor was a French composer, who was perhaps even more famous for his treatise on chess. Trollope is comparing Madeline's manoeuvring to that of a first-class chess-player, while Mr Slope plays like "a schoolboy".

Yes, please do add your comments on Mr Slope!

Nov 16, 2012, 4:18pm Top

Then, of course, there's this:

I hope my darling little friend Johnny is as strong as ever---dear little fellow. Does he still continue his rude assaults on those beautiful long silken tresses?
---Obadiah Slope to Eleanor Bold


Nov 16, 2012, 5:03pm Top

>134 lyzard:: yeah, he's just gross.

Nov 17, 2012, 5:00am Top

#133 Thank you Liz, I noticed those two quotes in particular when I was reading but it's very helpful to get some more background (you do realise that every time you mention another Trollope book it makes me want to read it?)

#134 EWWWW!!!! Very much so.

Re Mr Slope in A Love Scene, I liked the way Trollope showed him doing something he felt was wrong (making love to Madeline) but didn't use this as an argument to say that Mr Slope didn't really believe in the principles he avowed (which I feel like Dickens probably would have done although I'm not sure what I'm basing that on). It made Mr Slope a much more real character in my eyes. I still don't like him but I believe in him more if that makes any sense?

Mr. Slope was startled and horrified, but he felt that he could not answer. How could he stand up and preach the lessons of his Master, being there, as he was, on the devil's business? He was a true believer, otherwise this would have been nothing to him. He had audacity for most things, but he had not audacity to make a plaything of the Lord's word. All this the signora understood, and felt much interest as she saw her cockchafer whirl round upon her pin.

I raced through about 6 chapters last night because I got so caught up in what happened next...

Nov 17, 2012, 5:09am Top

Chapter 28: Mrs. Bold is Entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Grantly at Plumstead

1. ""I do not wish her to marry him," said the perplexed father. "I do not like him, and do not think he would make a good husband. But if Eleanor chooses to do so, I shall certainly not think that she disgraces herself."

Good heavens!" exclaimed Dr. Grantly and threw himself back into the corner of his brougham. Mr. Harding said nothing more, but commenced playing a dirge with an imaginary fiddle bow upon an imaginary violoncello, for which there did not appear to be quite room enough in the carriage.

Go Mr Harding!

2. He could luxuriate in no society that was deficient in a certain feeling of faithful, staunch High Churchism, which to him was tantamount to freemasonry. He was not strict in his lines of definition. He endured without impatience many different shades of Anglo-church conservatism; but with the Slopes and Proudies he could not go on all fours.

Can you explain the reference to going on all fours here?

Chapter 29: A Serious Interview

3. "This comes of a man making such a will as that of Bold's," he continued. "Eleanor is no more fitted to be trusted with such an amount of money in her own hands than is a charity-school girl."

Ah ha!

Chapter 30: Another Love Scene

4. As he rode he kept muttering to himself a line from Van Artevelde

Who or what was Van Artevelde?

I was very annoyed with everyone except Eleanor in the last three chapters. Poor Eleanor!

Nov 17, 2012, 5:14am Top

Chapter 31: The Bishop's Library

No questions.

Chapter 32: A New Candidate for Ecclesiastical Honours

5. From Mr Slope's second letter:

I am writing now to save the post

What does this mean?

Chapter 33: Mrs. Proudie Victrix

6. Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so often be exceedingly improper, and that those who are never improper should so often be dull and heavy?


7. Medea, when she describes the customs of her native country (I am quoting from Robson's edition), assures her astonished auditor that in her land captives, when taken, are eaten.

"You pardon them?" says Medea.

"We do indeed," says the mild Grecian.

"We eat them!" says she of Colchis, with terrific energy.

Mrs. Proudie was the Medea of Barchester; she had no idea of not eating Mr. Slope. Pardon him! Merely get rid of him! Make a dean of him! It was not so they did with their captives in her country, among people of her sort! Mr. Slope had no such mercy to expect; she would pick him to the very last bone.

This is presumably Medea from Jason and the Argonauts again? What was Robson's edition? A translation?

8. "I don't want to save appearances; I want Mr. Slope to appear just what he is—a false, designing, mean, intriguing man. I have my eye on him; he little knows what I see. He is misconducting himself in the most disgraceful way with that lame Italian woman. That family is a disgrace to Barchester, and Mr. Slope is a disgrace to Barchester. If he doesn't look well to it, he'll have his gown stripped off his back instead of having a dean's hat on his head. Dean, indeed! The man has gone mad with arrogance."

Sounds like this means war between Mrs Proudie and Mr Slope...

Nov 17, 2012, 5:29am Top


you do realise that every time you mention another Trollope book it makes me want to read it?


EWWWW!!!! Very much so.

I told you Eleanor's curls become a major plot-point!

I still don't like him but I believe in him more if that makes any sense?

It makes perfect sense. One of the leading characteristics of Trollope is that he is always - nearly always - fair. That is, he will stop to dissect out the motives of a character he doesn't like, or doesn't intend us to like, just as scrupulously as he lays bare the motives of his heroes and heroines*. Usually the end result is that we end up seeing that the person in question isn't as bad as we thought...even when that person is Mr Slope.

*He doesn't really have "heroes" and "heroines", or only in a very small way. Just people. :)

Edited: Nov 17, 2012, 5:55am Top

Chapter 28: Mrs. Bold is Entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Grantly at Plumstead

Mrs Bold is "entertained", all right! :)

1. It's a twisting of the expression "it does not go on all fours", which means that something is not perfectly suitable for an occasion or use. The Archdeacon can "go on all fours" with other churchmen with whom he has certain doctrinal disagreements, but he cannot "go on all fours" - that is, get along with - the Proudies and Mr Slope.

Chapter 29: A Serious Interview

"This comes of a man making such a will as that of Bold's," he continued. "Eleanor is no more fitted to be trusted with such an amount of money in her own hands than is a charity-school girl."

Yes, what comes of it is that she is free NOT to marry Mr Slope.

Ever noticed how no-one ever retracts or apologises for remarks like this...? :)

Chapter 30: Another Love Scene

4. Philip Van Artevelde led a rebellion against Louis II of Flanders in the 14th century. The lines Mr Arabin is quoting come from a play about him by Henry Taylor, called simply Philip Van Artevelde.

I was very annoyed with everyone except Eleanor in the last three chapters. Poor Eleanor!

Poor Eleanor, indeed - not least because her loving family (and their houseguest) keep pushing her into defending Mr Slope!! This whole section is so psychologically acute, it just cracks me up.

On the other hand---

As she spoke she with difficulty restrained her tears; but she did restrain them. Had she given way and sobbed aloud, as in such cases a woman should do, he would have melted at once, implored her pardon, perhaps knelt at her feet and declared his love. Everything would have been explained, and Eleanor would have gone back to Barchester with a contented mind. How easily would she have forgiven and forgotten the archdeacon's suspicions had she but heard the whole truth from Mr Arabin. But then where would have been my novel?

Tsk! :)

Edited: Nov 17, 2012, 6:14am Top

Chapter 32: A New Candidate for Ecclesiastical Honours

5. It means finishing his letter quickly, so as to catch the next mail collection. He does this to get his letter to Tom Towers as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the Dean is dead.

Chapter 33: Mrs. Proudie Victrix

7. Yes, the same Medea; she was from Colchis, which is where the Golden Fleece was found, and where Jason met her.

But this is actually a joke on Trollope's part: there was a parodic version of the story of Medea written by Robert Brough and staged in 1856, which starred the actor Thomas Robson as Medea (!). I'm not exactly sure how you make a parody out of a mother's revenge killing of her children, but anyway the play was called Medea; or, The Best Of Mothers, With A Brute Of A Husband. (Which the touchstones seem to be confusing with Medea; at any rate, they have Euripedes listed as a co-author.)

Nov 17, 2012, 7:01am Top

>140 lyzard:: But then where would have been my novel?
I thought that line was hilarious!

Nov 17, 2012, 11:55am Top

#140 Ever noticed how no-one ever retracts or apologises for remarks like this...?

Indeed, I can't imagine Dr Grantly is very good at apologising.

But then where would have been my novel? :-) I am very much enjoying Trollope's 'voice' in this novel.

I had another bumper reading session this afternoon. Partly because BT is so good that I don't want to put it down and partly not feeling terribly well. Please take your time with any questions if there are too many.

Nov 17, 2012, 12:02pm Top

Chapter 34: Oxford—The Master and Tutor of Lazarus

Peggy, was this the chapter you had questions about? If so, ask away!

1. He should have spent this afternoon among the poor at St. Ewold's, instead of wandering about at Plumstead, an ancient, love-lorn swain, dejected and sighing, full of imaginary sorrows and Wertherian grief.

What does Wetherian mean?

2. I'm a bit confused by the Tom Staple section. In particular the following passages:

a. Could gentlemen of £10,000 a year have died on their own door-steps in defence of protection, no doubt some half-dozen glorious old baronets would have so fallen, and the school of protection would at this day have been crowded with scholars. Who can fight strenuously in any combat in which there is no danger? Tom Staple would have willingly been impaled before a Committee of the House, could he by such self-sacrifice have infused his own spirit into the component members of the hebdomadal board.

What protection are they defending?

b. Tom Staple was one of those who in his heart approved of the credit system which had of old been in vogue between the students and tradesmen of the university. He knew and acknowledged to himself that it was useless in these degenerate days publicly to contend with "The Jupiter" on such a subject. "The Jupiter" had undertaken to rule the university, and Tom Staple was well aware that "The Jupiter" was too powerful for him. But in secret, and among his safe companions, he would argue that the system of credit was an ordeal good for young men to undergo.

What's the system of credit referred to here? Is it the practice of buying things on credit? Were they going to stop students using such a system?

Chapter 35: Miss Thorne's Fête Champêtre

3. This last personage had, in the time of Mr. Thorne's father, when the Directory held dominion in France, gone over to Paris with letters in his boot-heel for some of the royal party, and such had been his good luck that he had returned safe.

What was the Directory?

4. "There's the Beelzebub colt," said his sister. "I know he's in the stable because I saw Peter exercising him just now."

This seems quite a strong name for a horse! Was he very badly behaved?

Nov 17, 2012, 12:14pm Top

Chapter 36: Ullathorne Sports—Act I

5. All the good soups are now tabooed, and at the houses of one's accustomed friends—small barristers, doctors, government clerks, and such-like (for we cannot all of us always live as grandees, surrounded by an elysium of livery servants)—one gets a cold potato handed to one as a sort of finale to one's slice of mutton. Alas for those happy days when one could say to one's neighbour, "Jones, shall I give you some mashed turnip? May I trouble you for a little cabbage?" And then the pleasure of drinking wine with Mrs. Jones and Miss Smith—with all the Joneses and all the Smiths! These latter-day habits are certainly more economical.

Again, I'm a bit confused by this. There wasn't any turnip or cabbage served at modern entertainments? (Personally I'd say that was a good thing)

6. "Oh, Miss Thorne, look here!" said she as soon as she found herself in the drawing-room; "do look at my roque-laure. It's clean spoilt, and forever.

A roque-laure is a cloak? I could only find pictures of men wearing them but I assume women wore them too?

7. The Lookalofts

But he had not the courage to tell a stout lady with a low dress, short sleeves, and satin at eight shillings a yard that she had come to the wrong tent; he had not dared to hint to young ladies with white dancing shoes and long gloves that there was a place ready for them in the paddock.

"Oh, Mrs. Lookaloft, is this you?" said she. "And your daughters and son? Well, we're very glad to see you, but I'm sorry you've come in such low dresses, as we are all going out of doors. Could we lend you anything?"

Were low dresses evening wear rather than for an afternoon event? Had the Lookalofts overdressed as well as turning up to the wrong section of the party?

Chapter 37: The Signora Neroni, the Countess De Courcy, and Mrs. Proudie Meet Each Other at Ullathorne

8. In fact, the signora was a sort of lion; and though there was no drop of the Leohunter blood in Miss Thorne's veins, she nevertheless did like to see attractive people at her house.

Do you know what the reference to a Leohunter means?

9. But for real true love—love at first sight, love to devotion, love that robs a man of his sleep, love that "will gaze an eagle blind," love that "will hear the lowest sound when the suspicious tread of theft is stopped," love that is "like a Hercules, still climbing trees in the Hesperides"—we believe the best age is from forty-five to seventy; up to that, men are generally given to mere flirting.

Do you know what the quotations are from?

10. Eleanor had been right glad to avail herself of his arm, seeing that Mr. Slope was hovering nigh her. In striving to avoid that terrible Charybdis of a Slope she was in great danger of falling into an unseen Scylla on the other hand, that Scylla being Bertie Stanhope.

What are the Charybdis and Scylla?

Chapter 38: The Bishop Sits Down to Breakfast, and the Dean Dies

11. "'Twas merry in the hall when the beards wagged all," and the clerical beards wagged merrily in the hall of Ullathorne that day.

Again, do you know what the quotation is here?

12. "Pray, pray don't move," said Miss Thorne, almost forcing Eleanor back into her chair. "Mr. Stanhope is not going to leave us. He will stand behind you like a true knight as he is. And now I think of it, Mr. Arabin, let me introduce you to Mr. Slope. Mr. Slope, Mr. Arabin." And the two gentlemen bowed stiffly to each other across the lady whom they both intended to marry, while the other gentleman who also intended to marry her stood behind, watching them.

Oh, poor Eleanor!

Nov 17, 2012, 12:20pm Top

Chapter 39: The Lookalofts and the Greenacres

13. She had inquired with apparent cordiality of Mr. Lookaloft after "the woman that owned him," and had, as she thought, been on the whole able to hold her own pretty well against her aspiring neighbour.

Was the woman that owned him Mrs Lookaloft?

(And I've only just realised the pun in the Lookalofts' name...)

Chapter 40: Ullathorne Sports—Act II

14. "Beautiful woman," at last he burst forth, "beautiful woman, you cannot pretend to be ignorant that I adore you. Yes, Eleanor, yes, I love you. I love you with the truest affection which man can bear to woman. Next to my hopes of heaven are my hopes of possessing you." (Mr. Slope's memory here played him false, or he would not have omitted the deanery.) "How sweet to walk to heaven with you by my side, with you for my guide, mutual guides. Say, Eleanor, dearest Eleanor, shall we walk that sweet path together?"

Eleanor had no intention of ever walking together with Mr. Slope on any other path than that special one of Miss Thorne's which they now occupied, but as she had been unable to prevent the expression of Mr. Slope's wishes and aspirations, she resolved to hear him out to the end before she answered him.

"Ah, Eleanor," he continued, and it seemed to be his idea that as he had once found courage to pronounce her Christian name, he could not utter it often enough. "Ah, Eleanor, will it not be sweet, with the Lord's assistance, to travel hand in hand through this mortal valley which His mercies will make pleasant to us, till hereafter we shall dwell together at the foot of His throne?" And then a more tenderly pious glance than ever beamed from the lover's eyes. "Ah, Eleanor—"

Yuck, yuck, yuck!

15. She 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 a box on the ear with such right goodwill that it sounded among the trees like a miniature thunderclap.

I can't really condone hitting someone but I suspect I would have done the same thing in Eleanor's place.

Edited: Nov 17, 2012, 3:47pm Top

Chapter 34: Oxford—The Master and Tutor of Lazarus

1. It's a reference to The Sorrows Of Young Werther by Johann Goethe, in which a young man falls in love with a married woman, and tragedy ensues. It was perhaps the first "pop culture" work as we now know it, and many young people horrified their parents by behaving in a "Wertherian" manner.

2. The tariff system that we discussed with respect to the Corn Laws - the system that existed before free trade.

Tom is giving us a rather emotive view of the changing world. He, like the land-owners, would "fight and die" to protect what he believes in (a traditional Oxford, the tariff system), but you can't fight Parliamentary reform because it's a creeping thing with no face - there's no chance to "martyr" yourself against reform, even if you were willing to do it. Tom declares himself willing to "impale himself" if it would rouse the members of the hebdomadal board to revolt, but... (The hebdomadal board, remember, was in the process of being turned into a less clergy-dominated hebdomadal council. Tom, like the Archdeacon, finds this appalling.)

3. Before reform, Oxford was in some ways more like an expensive social club for young men rather than an educational institution, and many of the "members" got deeply into debt trying to keep up. (Recall Mr Arabin, who managed to avoid that trap: He utterly eschewed the society of fast men, gave no wine-parties, kept no horses, rowed no boats, joined no rows... The opposite was a more common fate for a young man at Oxford.) One of the reforms was an attempt to prevent the local tradesmen (particularly the wine-dealers, I imagine) from extending credit to the students. Tom Staple, being a traditionalist, objects to this as robbing the young men of valuable life experience (today he might say something about "the nanny state"), although of course he wasn't the one who had to pay off the debts...

And I'm going to move to a new post here, because that brings us to the end of Volume II!

Nov 17, 2012, 4:45pm Top

Chapter 35: Miss Thorne's Fête Champêtre

3. The Directory was the government in France after the Revolution but before Napoleon (1795 - 1799). The elder Mr Thorne was conspiring with the Royalists, who were attempting to re-establish the monarchy. Getting caught while carrying such messages would have cost Mr Plomacy's life.

4. I think it's safe to say he doesn't have a sweet temperament. :)

Chapter 36: Ullathorne Sports—Act I

5. The Narrator (who, we note, puts himself on the same social level as professional men such as clerks and doctors) is bemoaning the fact that people at "that level" are copying the gentry by staging dinners that are all show and no substance. Old-fashioned dishes like turnips and cabbage are now forbidden, but they have not been replaced by anything so substantial. Likewise the "good soups". And wine is only served occasionally, rather than copiously and all the time. What is the world coming to!? :)

Miss Thorne, on the other hand, has no notion of the noxious modern habit of economical entertaining.

6. A roque-laure is a knee-length cloak with a hood, worn by both sexes.

7. Not over-dressed, under-dressed. Low-cut dresses were for evening-wear only, and usually only amongst the gentry upwards, and at formal parties; the Lookalofts are inappropriately dressed in every respect. (Turning up like that at a daytime garden-party shows how little they know about the world they are aspiring to.)

Chapter 37: The Signora Neroni, the Countess De Courcy, and Mrs. Proudie Meet Each Other at Ullathorne

8. Dickens alert! - there's a Mrs Leo Hunter in The Pickwick Papers.

"Lion" was a contemporary term for "celebrity"; a "leohunter" was someone who (socially) courted anyone famous, and who drew guests to their homes by inviting "lions" to serve as the main attraction. It was a common expression for a potential guest to say that they had been "invited to see the lions being fed".

Miss Thorne, however, has had no thought like this in inviting the Signora, though she is certainly Barchester's reigning "lion".

9. All those quotes, I think, are from Love's Labours Lost.

10. These are from The Odyssey: Charybdis is a dangerous whirlpool; Scylla is a sea-monster. Odysseus had to steer his ship between them.

Someone "caught between Charybdis and Scylla" has certain destruction on either side, if they make one false move... Basically it means having only two choices, each worse than the other. (Other variants: "between the devil and the deep blue sea", "the dagger or the cup of poison", or even our local variant, "between a rock and a hard place".)

Chapter 38: The Bishop Sits Down to Breakfast, and the Dean Dies

11. From a 16th century work, Five Hundred Points Of Good Husbandry, by Thomas Tusser; a guide to running a proper household, including good old-fashioned hospitality (such as The Narrator was mourning).

Oh, poor Eleanor!

At least. :)

Nov 17, 2012, 4:58pm Top

Chapter 39: The Lookalofts and the Greenacres

13. Yes - she's suggesting to Mr Lookaloft that he ought to keep his wimminfolk in better order.

(And I've only just realised the pun in the Lookalofts' name...)

Oh, dearie! :)

Chapter 40: Ullathorne Sports—Act II

14. Which - after about three pages of hand-wringing and head-shaking - is exactly what The Narrator says... :)

And then Mr Slope's face, tinted with a deeper dye than usual by the wine he had drunk, simpering and puckering itself with pseudo-piety and tender grimaces, seemed specially to call for such punishment...

Nov 17, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Peggy, to reiterate what Heather said, if you have any questions beyond what has been discussed here, please do ask them.

And anyone else, of course!

Nov 17, 2012, 5:41pm Top

Just a final comment: the Ullathorne party is our first introduction to the awful de Courcy family, who will play a much more prominent role in some of the later Barset and Palliser novels.

Nov 18, 2012, 11:56am Top

What exactly is a Fête Champêtre? I think the explanation in the novel is that its a fashionable term for an outdoor picnic but where does the term originate? Anyone know?

Nov 18, 2012, 2:18pm Top

That's more or less the French term for the same thing - "country festival", I think - or "party in the country".

Using the French name for something instead of the English was a fairly common practice at the time, particularly with respect to meals and forms of entertainment.

Nov 18, 2012, 10:21pm Top

I'll have to look back at the Lazarus chapter to see whether there was anything beyond what Heather asked. Thanks, Liz. I finished this afternoon, and a very pleasant time I had of it too!

Nov 18, 2012, 10:32pm Top

Well done, Peggy! - I'm very glad to hear it. :)

Nov 19, 2012, 6:28am Top

I got a little behind but finished Ch 40 before bed last night. Well done, Eleanor!

Nov 19, 2012, 7:27am Top

I must get a move on, I'm only up to Chapter 13...

Nov 19, 2012, 9:28am Top

I just wrote this on my own thread in response to Bonnie's saying that she hopes to read *BT* next month and use this thread as a guide. Then it dawned on me that I should have said it here.
" Heather has asked all the right questions, and Liz has answered them in a highly professional, entertaining manner. It's an exemplar of what a tutored read should be. "
Thank you both again!!!
I'm off for an overnight to Columbia, S.C., taking Mama for a quick visit with her brother, so I still won't have looked at the Lazarus chapter.

Nov 19, 2012, 11:07am Top

Seconding Peggy's comment about Heather and Liz!!

Nov 19, 2012, 3:38pm Top

#147 & 149 Thank you so much Liz! It seems it's feast or famine with me and BT at the moment because after my marathon session on Saturday I didn't manage to post any questions yesterday.

#151 Just a final comment: the Ullathorne party is our first introduction to the awful de Courcy family, who will play a much more prominent role in some of the later Barset and Palliser novels.

I thought they might do - I spotted Courcy on the map :-)

#152 Good question Karen - I missed that so thanks for asking.

#154 I finished this afternoon, and a very pleasant time I had of it too! :-) It's been a lot of fun for me too.

#158 Three cheers for Liz!


Chapter 41: Mrs. Bold Confides Her Sorrow to Her Friend Miss Stanhope

1. There are some moments in life in which both men and women feel themselves imperatively called on to make a confidence, in which not to do so requires a disagreeable resolution and also a disagreeable suspicion. There are people of both sexes who never make confidences, who are never tempted by momentary circumstances to disclose their secrets, but such are generally dull, close, unimpassioned spirits, "gloomy gnomes, who live in cold dark mines." There was nothing of the gnome about Eleanor, and she therefore resolved to tell Charlotte Stanhope the whole story about Mr. Slope.

I like the way Trollope defends his characters when he feels they have done something someone might misinterpret. Do you know what the reference to gloomy gnomes is?

2. Mr. Arabin immediately withdrew to a little distance, and as Charlotte had in fact much to explain before she could make the new carriage arrangement intelligible, he had nothing to do but to talk to Mrs. Bold.

Awkward :-(

3. And yet these two people were thoroughly in love with each other; and though one was a middle-aged clergyman, and the other a lady at any rate past the wishy-washy bread-and-butter period of life, they were as unable to tell their own minds to each other as any Damon and Phillis, whose united ages would not make up that to which Mr. Arabin had already attained.

Are the names Damon and Phillis a reference to something?

Chapter 42: Ullathorne Sports—Act III

Poor Eleanor (again)!

4. To the old, such plots and plans, such matured schemes for obtaining the goods of this world without the trouble of earning them, such long-headed attempts to convert "tuum" into "meum" are the ways of life to which they are accustomed.

Does tuum into meum mean yours into mine? It looks like Latin to me (maybe this is question for Peggy).

Chapter 43: Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful Are Made Happy. Mr. Slope is Encouraged by the Press

5. But we must go back a little, and it shall be but a little, for a difficulty begins to make itself manifest in the necessity of disposing of all our friends in the small remainder of this one volume. Oh, that Mr. Longman would allow me a fourth! It should transcend the other three as the seventh heaven transcends all the lower stages of celestial bliss.

I think Longman were the publishers of Barchester Towers :-)

6. Dr. Gwynne made a simple reference to the bishop, and finding that the lady's statement was formally confirmed, he took his leave. "That comes of the reform bill," he said to himself as he walked down the bishop's avenue. "Well, at any rate the Greek play bishops were not so bad as that."

I'm guesssing that the Reform Bill Dr Gwynne refers to would have been the Oxford University Reform Act you mentioned above (or one of the other church reforms we've discussed). Do you know what the reference to the Greek play bishops means?

Nov 19, 2012, 3:40pm Top

Chapter 44: Mrs. Bold at Home

7. The note was as follows. It may be taken as a faithful promise that no further letter whatever shall be transcribed at length in these pages.

Trollope's just having too much fun now :-)

Chapter 45: The Stanhopes at Home

No questions and I will be reading on eagerly to find out what happens (even though I sort of know what happens).

Nov 19, 2012, 4:32pm Top

Thank you for all the kind comments, people! And while I can't agree that squealing "EWWW!!" at Mr Slope says much for my professionalism, I'm glad you've found it entertaining. :)

Edited: Nov 19, 2012, 4:52pm Top

Chapter 41: Mrs. Bold Confides Her Sorrow to Her Friend Miss Stanhope

1. That is a misquotation, and possibly a deliberate misquotation at that, since the original "the gloomy gnome / that dwells in dark gold mines", is less appropriate. It's from a poem by Thomas Moore, "Drink To Her".

3. "Damon and Phillis" is a poem by John Cunningham---or rather, "A pastoral eclogue in anapestic couplets." (!?) I'll have to take their word for that.

The poem involves a young man and woman working through their mutual jealousy and coming to a new understanding (in alternating verses). Trollope is laughing at the much older and more experienced Eleanor and Mr Arabin for having less sense than a couple of kids, but also using "Damon and Phillis" as a generic term for any young lovers.

Chapter 42: Ullathorne Sports—Act III

4. It does - this was a common way of describing a mercenary marriage.

Chapter 43: Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful Are Made Happy. Mr. Slope is Encouraged by the Press

5. They were. Trollope had to have a few more successes before he was allowed to graduate to the four-volume novel. :)

6. Yes, he is referring to the Oxford University Reform Act. The term "Greek-play bishop" refers to the fact that in the early Victorian era, some twenty years before, there had been a tendency to appoint bishops on the strength of their classical scholarship (i.e. their studies of "Greek plays") rather than their religious attainments. That was bad, says Dr Gwynne, but not as bad as having bishops like Dr Proudie.

Chapter 44: Mrs. Bold at Home

7. He may have stopped writing letters here, but many of Trollope's later novels are celebrated for their inserted correspondence. :)

Nov 19, 2012, 5:57pm Top

Also meant to point out - yet another Dickens reference!

And when he got home he had a glass of hot negus in his wife's sitting-room, and read the last number of the Little Dorrit of the day with great inward satisfaction. Oh, husbands, oh, my marital friends, what great comfort is there to be derived from a wife well obeyed!

Trollope fudges his dates in BT so as not to draw too many real-life parallels, so he uses the expression "the Little Dorrit of the day" to mean "the current best-seller", but in fact Little Dorrit was serialised from 1855 - 1857, when BT was being written.

Nov 20, 2012, 1:27pm Top

>153 lyzard: - presumably because all things French were considered more cultured?

Nov 20, 2012, 2:58pm Top

I finished this morning! I enjoyed it so much - a huge thankyou to Liz for helping me learn to love Trollope in advance of my last set of questions.

#163 many of Trollope's later novels are celebrated for their inserted correspondence. :)

I look forward to it!

Chapter 45: The Stanhopes at Home

Chapter 46: Mr. Slope's Parting Interview with the Signora

Chapter 47: The Dean Elect

No questions for any of these chapters but the passages from chapter 47 really made me chuckle.

"If you have anything of moment to tell us," said the archdeacon, "pray let us hear it at once. Has Eleanor gone off?"

"No, she has not," said Mr. Harding with a look of great displeasure.

"Has Slope been made dean?"

"No, he has not, but—"

"But what?" said the archdeacon, who was becoming very impatient.

"They have—"

"They have what?" said the archdeacon.

"They have offered it to me," said Mr. Harding, with a modesty which almost prevented his speaking.

"Good heavens!" said the archdeacon, and sunk back exhausted in an easy chair.

"My dear, dear father," said Mrs. Grantly, and threw her arms round her father's neck.

"So I thought I had better come out and consult with you at once," said Mr. Harding.

"Consult!" shouted the archdeacon. "But, my dear Harding, I congratulate you with my whole heart—with my whole heart; I do indeed. I never heard anything in my life that gave me so much pleasure;" and he got hold of both his father-in-law's hands, and shook them as though he were going to shake them off, and walked round and round the room, twirling a copy of "The Jupiter" over his head to show his extreme exultation.

I love the 'Good heavens!' and the image of Dr Grantly walking round the room twirling a copy of The Jupiter over his head :-)

And then this:

While these were the ideas downstairs, a very great difference of opinion existed above. As soon as the cloth was drawn and the wine on the table, Mr. Harding made for himself an opportunity of speaking. It was, however, with much inward troubling that he said:

"It's very kind of Lord ––––, very kind, and I feel it deeply, most deeply. I am, I must confess, gratified by the offer—"

"I should think so," said the archdeacon.

"But all the same I am afraid that I can't accept it."

The decanter almost fell from the archdeacon's hand upon the table, and the start he made was so great as to make his wife jump up from her chair. Not accept the deanship! If it really ended in this, there would be no longer any doubt that his father-in-law was demented. The question now was whether a clergyman with low rank and preferment amounting to less than £200 a year should accept high rank, £1,200 a year, and one of the most desirable positions which his profession had to afford!

"What!" said the archdeacon, gasping for breath and staring at his guest as though the violence of his emotion had almost thrown him into a fit. "What!"


Nov 20, 2012, 3:16pm Top

Chapter 48: Miss Thorne Shows Her Talent at Match-Making

It was but for a minute that they stood so, but the duration of that minute was sufficient to make it ever memorable to them both. Eleanor was sure now that she was loved. No words, be their eloquence what it might, could be more impressive than that eager, melancholy gaze.


And another smile for:

The next morning she returned to Barchester, and Mr. Arabin went over with his budget of news to the archdeacon. As Doctor Grantly was not there, he could only satisfy himself by telling Mrs. Grantly how that he intended himself the honour of becoming her brother-in-law. In the ecstasy of her joy at hearing such tidings Mrs. Grantly vouchsafed him a warmer welcome than any he had yet received from Eleanor.

"Good heavens!" she exclaimed—it was the general exclamation of the rectory.

Chapter 49: The Beelzebub Colt

No questions (or good heavenses)

Chapter 50: The Archdeacon Is Satisfied with the State of Affairs

Mr. Harding assured him that there was no mistake; that he would find, on returning home, that Mr. Arabin had been at Plumstead with the express object of making the same declaration; that even Miss Thorne knew all about it; and that, in fact, the thing was as clearly settled as any such arrangement between a lady and a gentleman could well be.

"Good heavens!" said the archdeacon, walking up and down Eleanor's drawing-room. "Good heavens! Good heavens!"

I feel like we should have counted Good heavenses in this book as you and Madeline counted melacholies.

Nov 20, 2012, 4:18pm Top

Chapter 51: Mr. Slope Bids Farewell to the Palace and Its Inhabitants

1. What novelist, what Fielding, what Scott, what George Sand, or Sue, or Dumas, can impart an interest to the last chapter of his fictitious history?

Fielding = Henry Fielding
Scott = Walter Scott
George Sand I'd never heard of but seems to have been a French baroness who wrote novels. Was she quite well known at the time?
Dumas = Alexandre Dumas pere

Who was Sue??

I was trying to work out if there was anything linking these authors. Is it that they were all non-contemporary authors at the time Trollope was writing so he wasn't mentioning his contemporaries?

2. A late writer, wishing to sustain his interest to the last page, hung his hero at the end of the third volume. The consequence was that no one would read his novel. And who can apportion out and dovetail his incidents, dialogues, characters, and descriptive morsels so as to fit them all exactly into 930 pages, without either compressing them unnaturally, or extending them artificially at the end of his labour?

Do you know if he's making reference to any particular authors or works?

3. Some quotes I couldn't place:

Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue (black),
To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new.

Chapter 52: The New Dean Takes Possession of the Deanery, and the New Warden of the Hospital

4. At length an answer from the great man came. The Master of Lazarus had made his proposition through the Bishop of Belgravia. Now this bishop, though but newly gifted with his diocesan honours, was a man of much weight in the clerico-political world. He was, if not as pious, at any rate as wise as St. Paul, and had been with so much effect all things to all men that, though he was great among the dons of Oxford, he had been selected for the most favourite seat on the bench by a Whig prime minister.

There isn't a Bishop of Belgravia as far as I know - is this a reference to a real (but disguised) bishop?

Chapter 53: Conclusion

5. He sent down a magnificent piano by Erard, gave Mr. Arabin a cob which any dean in the land might have been proud to bestride, and made a special present to Eleanor of a new pony chair that had gained a prize in the Exhibition.

Is a pony chair a type of saddle?

6. She likes her husband's silken vest, she likes his adherence to the rubric, she specially likes the eloquent philosophy of his sermons, and she likes the red letters in her own prayer-book.

Ah ha - the red lettered prayer book that came up earlier! (msg 35 & 36)

7. She sent a handsome subscription towards certain very heavy ecclesiastical legal expenses which have lately been incurred in Bath, her name of course not appearing; she assumes a smile of gentle ridicule when the Archbishop of Canterbury is named; and she has put up a memorial window in the cathedral.

Do you know what had been occurring in Bath? Do I take it the current Archbishop of Canterbury was not a high church man?

8. Anathema maranatha!

Do you know what this means?

9. The author now leaves him in the hands of his readers: not as a hero, not as a man to be admired and talked of, not as a man who should be toasted at public dinners and spoken of with conventional absurdity as a perfect divine, but as a good man, without guile, believing humbly in the religion which he has striven to teach, and guided by the precepts which he has striven to learn.

*Contented sigh*


Nov 20, 2012, 4:27pm Top

Good heavens!

Because really, you can never say that too often. :)

Nov 20, 2012, 4:29pm Top


I don't know; that seems an odd thing for the English to be admitting. :)

We should note, though, that it is The Narrator (who has already ranked himself with the middle-class professional men of Barchester) who uses the French term. Miss Thorne would never use a French term for an old-fashioned English (i.e. Saxon) party.

Nov 20, 2012, 4:35pm Top

Chapter 45: The Stanhopes at Home

I just wanted to comment that it is absolutely typical of Trollope that in spite of disapproving of her in every way, he then turns around and makes Madeline his Deus ex machina.

Chapter 47: The Dean Elect

   "I may wish that I had your spirit and energy and power of combating; but I have not. Every day that is added to my life increases my wish for peace and rest."
   "And where on earth can a man have peace and rest if not in a deanery?" said the archdeacon.


Nov 20, 2012, 4:40pm Top

Chapter 50: The Archdeacon Is Satisfied with the State of Affairs

I feel like we should have counted Good heavenses in this book as you and Madeline counted melancholies.

Except that Trollope's "Good heavens!"-es were intentional, whereas I think Miss Roche's "melancholy"-s were the lack of a decent thesaurus. :)

Nov 20, 2012, 5:13pm Top

Chapter 51: Mr. Slope Bids Farewell to the Palace and Its Inhabitants

Eugene Sue was another 19th century French novelist who wrote rather strange - well, what would you call it? - sensational-socialist fiction. :) He also coined the expression "revenge is a dish best served cold".

George Sand aka Baroness Dudevant was a rather scandalous figure as well known for her love affairs (and her androgynous wardrobe) as for her novels.

We know that Trollope much admired Fielding and Scott; perhaps he are meant to infer that he admired the three French writers also, though their work was a far cry from his own. Unlike the English writers, they were, more or less, contemporaries of Trollope.

2. I think that is a reference to one of the "Newgate novels" of Edward Bulwer-Lytton or William Harrison Ainsworth, which were much criticised for making heroes out of criminals, but since I haven't read many of those I couldn't say which specific one.

The second comment is a note of personal exasperation about the publishers' preference for three-volume novels, which often caused novelists to have to cut or pad out their texts to make them the "right" length.

3. The first quotation is from As You Like It - following on from the opening "All the world's a stage..."; the second is from "Lycidas", a poem by John Milton.

Chapter 52: The New Dean Takes Possession of the Deanery, and the New Warden of the Hospital

4. No; the very fact that Trollope is giving full names and titles in this section indicates that he is not talking about real people, but has made up a bishop and a nobleman to serve his purposes. On the other hand, we also hear of "a distinguished person" at Windsor Castle, who may have been Prince Albert.

Chapter 53: Conclusion

5. No, it's a small one-person carriage, for Eleanor to drive herself about in.

6. Yes, Eleanor has "gone High" after her marriage - so much for She began to think that she was getting tired of clergymen and their respectable, humdrum, wearisome mode of living. :)

7. In 1856, the Archdeacon of Taunton preached about the Eucharist and was brought before the ecclesiastical court in Bath after a complaint by the local Evangelicals. He was tried and found guilty of breaching the Thirty-Nine Articles, but appealed and had his conviction overturned.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was (or tending towards) Evangelical.

9. It's a curse of excommunication...which seems an odd note to end on. :)

Nov 20, 2012, 5:16pm Top

...so perhaps I'll end on this one:

He is a studious, thoughtful, hard-working man. He lives constantly at the deanery, and preaches nearly every Sunday. His time is spent in sifting and editing old ecclesiastical literature, and in producing the same articles new. At Oxford he is generally regarded as the most promising clerical ornament of the age. He and his wife live together in perfect mutual confidence. There is but one secret in her bosom which he has not shared. He has never learned how Mr Slope had his ears boxed.

Edited: Nov 20, 2012, 5:23pm Top

Whoo-hoo!! Well done, Heather!!

BUT---you're not finished yet!!

You've got---homework...

And your homework is to find a copy of the BBC production of The Barchester Chronicles*, watch it, and then come back here and tell me what you think. :)

("Chronicles", because it's The Warden + Barchester Towers.)

Nov 20, 2012, 5:19pm Top

To the rest of you lurkers and anyone coming later, please do continue to use this thread to post any comments on questions - don't feel you have to stop just because Heather has finished.

Nov 20, 2012, 5:51pm Top

I'm so far behind in reading along... and I did have some thoughts/comments to add about the High Church / Low Church camps, in particular about continuities and differences today. I will try to remember what it was I wanted to say...

But just at the moment, I'm wondering what Trollope would have made of the ecclesiastical politics of today's Church of England, today in particular when the General Synod has just spent the day debating legislation to enable women to become bishops and to provide for those who don't agree with this development. The motion needed to be passed by 2/3 of the three separate 'houses' of the Synod: bishops, clergy and laity. It was passed by the Bishops 44 for, 3 against, 2 abstentions, by the clergy it passed 148 for , 45 against, no abstentions, but among lay representatives it lost: 132 for, 74 against, no abstentions was just 6 votes short of the 2/3 majority. So it is back to the drawing board to find a way ahead that will take another 5 years at least of reports, debates, consultations etc... There was no such thing as General Synod in Trollope's day, but the deep divisions and heart-felt convictions, and the jumble of politicking, ambitions, mixed motives, fear of change, underhand tactics and genuine faith and graciousness would all be familiar to him, I'm sure. These days it is the conservative Evangelicals and the traditionalist Catholics (High Church) who - while still in opposing camps in their views on most things - join forces in opposition to the change which is represented by including women in the ordained ministry; they are already opposed to women priests, and are doubly so to women bishops. But the majority of both Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, as well as all shades in between, are in favour - as indeed are the vast majority of ordinary church members, which shows that the elected lay representatives on Synod who have voted today are not truly representative of the majority view in the pews, but actually represent extremist party views. The Synod has already voted in principle in favour of women bishops, all they are trying to agree on now is how to make it happen without alienating those who disagree (something of an impossible task, it appears).

I'm still fuming at the outcome, as I know all my congregation and Anglican friends will be - the wider world if they notice this will probably just be mystified that we could even be still debating this as an issue... But imagining today's woes turned into an entertaining novel (with the RIGHT outcome in the end) is a helpful way of calming down!

Nov 20, 2012, 5:57pm Top

Hi, Genny. Yes, I was just reading about that outcome in the news reports - thank you for adding your comments. You're quite right, it is all very Trollope-esque, although not in a good way.

Nov 20, 2012, 6:49pm Top

Oh phooey on me. I found a "Good Heavens" earlier, outside the archdeacon's family and meant to call it to your attention, but I didn't mark it and it's gone.
Oh dear. Oh dear, Genny. I'm sorry. I think of my Presbyterian church's current squabbles (a word that minimizes the damage done to church unity) and throw up my hands.

Nov 20, 2012, 9:42pm Top

Genny, thank you for explaining today's outcome, which I agree is disappointing, like Peggy I'm Presbyterian and we too have divisive squabbles that move verrrry slowly. It's such a shame especially when one feels the issue so obviously shouldn't be an issue.

Nov 21, 2012, 4:48pm Top

I finished the book this morning. What a great ending! Even though the last few chapters were all tying up loose ends, it was done in such a satisfying way. Loved it.

Netflix does not have the TV series, but my library does and I've already informed the hubster that we will be watching it! It's just the sort of thing we love, so I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks Liz and Heather for the wonderful tutoring!!

Edited: Nov 21, 2012, 4:53pm Top

Thank you very much for participating, Laura - I hope you enjoy the TV version, too!

Nov 21, 2012, 5:01pm Top

The BBC series features a young Alan Rickman as Slope. . . .

Thanks again for an interesting and informative thread! I haven't had occasion to post, but I've been lurking away the whole time.

Nov 22, 2012, 2:05am Top

>183 foggidawn:. Rickman is masterful as the oleaginous Slope. He almost oozes off the screen. Hope those of you who get a copy of the series enjoy it as much as I did

Nov 22, 2012, 4:40am Top

In my household we were fond of saying, "He almost leaves a trail of slime!" :)

Nov 22, 2012, 4:45am Top

It was watching the TV adaptation in the early 80's that first prompted me to read the Barchester novels. I now have copy on DVD and can watch it whenever I want.

Nov 22, 2012, 2:34pm Top

#175 Homework I will be very happy to undertake! I haven't got a copy but I've added it to my Christmas list and will probably buy it myself if I don't get a copy for Christmas.

#177 Genny, I'm glad you commented on that subject because I'd been wondering myself what Trollope would have made of the current situation. Disappointing is an understatement but it's the best word I can come up with at the moment.

#181 Glad you enjoyed it Laura :-)

#184 - 186 Mmm, Alan Rickman.

So, who's up for Dr Thorne?

Edited: Nov 22, 2012, 4:33pm Top

#184 - 186 Mmm, Alan Rickman

I did tell you that you'd end up with a crush on Mr Slope...

So, who's up for Dr Thorne?

Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!

Nov 22, 2012, 3:04pm Top

Yes, I'm ready to move on to Dr. Thorne.

Nov 22, 2012, 3:17pm Top

>187 souloftherose: Me too. It's sitting on the bookshelf daring me to open it. I am resisting but not sure how long I can hold out.....

Nov 22, 2012, 3:29pm Top

Dr. Thorne is next in the series for me, too. It's been waiting patiently on my e-reader for a while now.

Nov 22, 2012, 4:38pm Top

Well, this is very encouraging! :)

I feel I should say, though, for the benefit of any newbies, that the next three novels in the series move right away from our clerical friends and their doings, and focus upon the other residents of Barset. The characters do reappear, but only in minor roles, until the final book, The Last Chronicle of Barset. Some readers are disappointed by this, while others are relieved. I'm just putting it out there so that either way, you guys are prepared.

Nov 22, 2012, 4:52pm Top

#192 I consider myself duly warned. :-)

Edited: Nov 22, 2012, 5:57pm Top

...and I suppose the corollory to what I just said is that Dr Thorne may not require a tutored read in the same way that The Warden and Barchester Towers did, because of the specificity of their subject matter. So perhaps an old-fashioned group read would be more appropriate? I'm happy to go either way.

Nov 27, 2012, 4:24pm Top

#194 Sorry for the delay in replying - it's been one of those weeks...

I say let's try a group read rather than a tutored read of Dr Thorne (unless anyone else would really like a tutored read instead in which case please say so). I think I feel a lot more comfortable with Trollope now thanks to all your help, especially if there will be fewer ecclesiastical references :-)

I can post something on the new 2013 group read suggestion threads at the weekend as I think there may be some interest beyond those who have been following this thread (I know Bonnie was interested but couldn't read BT this month so if we schedule late enough in 2013 then everyone has had a chance to catch up). I'll try and leave a pm comment with the link for anyone who's expressed an interest or posted on the tutored read threads directing them to the group read suggestion thread.

Would you join us for a reread? (please, please :-) )

Nov 27, 2012, 4:45pm Top

I am definitely up for a group read of Dr Thorne! I would like to work my way through the series and a group read is a helpful motivational device when I'm faced with a chunkster.

Nov 27, 2012, 4:52pm Top

Certainly in for a re-read, but I'm not very good at group reads, as I only read one book at a time and always end up tearing ahead and finishing ages before anyone else. Still, I imagine we'll work something out. :)

Is March too soon for people?

Nov 27, 2012, 9:28pm Top

March sounds about right to me. So let's see --- I'm committing to more Trollope, I. Murdoch with Lucy and crew and *Dance to the Music of Time* with Nathalie and crew done one per month. Yep. Entirely nuts and happy about it.

Nov 27, 2012, 9:58pm Top

Welcome to my world, Peggy! Just picked up a copy of A Tale Of Two Cities, BTW... :)

Nov 27, 2012, 10:38pm Top

March sounds good to me for Doctor Thorne.

Nov 28, 2012, 2:04am Top

I'll be ready for Dr Thorne in March. It'll be a re-read for me, though I've got an audio version now, and I hope to get more out of it than when I read it alone

Nov 28, 2012, 7:51am Top

March sounds good to me!

Nov 28, 2012, 3:33pm Top

Not sure I can wait till March - Dr Thorne is looking very sorrowfully at me for neglecting him so long. I'll try and keep him at bay as long as I can....

Nov 28, 2012, 3:42pm Top

March would be good for me too!

Peggy, I've been eyeing up the *Dance* read too (with similar 'are you mad' thoughts).

Dec 1, 2012, 5:53am Top

It sounds like March would work for everyone - I've mentioned our proposed group read on the 2013 group reads discussion thread Jim set up and added it to the group reads wiki here.

Dec 4, 2012, 2:34pm Top

I'll happily join in with a re-read of Dr Thorne in March. (Would also be interested in A Dance to the Music, but I've not got the first volume/omnibus of volumes yet, and I'm bad at sticking to group read schedules, so perhaps I'd just better wait and do my own thing).

Dec 4, 2012, 10:47pm Top

Genny, I predict that you'll enjoy *Dance* so much that you'll want to read ahead. The books are quite small and do-able in a month. Hope you'll join in after all!
Liz, *AToTC* is not in my first nor yet my second group of beloved Dickens. Good for Heather for hosting though!

Dec 11, 2012, 9:32am Top

>175 lyzard:: You've got---homework...

And your homework is to find a copy of the BBC production of The Barchester Chronicles*, watch it, and then come back here and tell me what you think. :)

Done! I loved it, and so did my husband who hasn't read the books. I checked the DVD out of my local library, with a one-week loan period (books are 3 weeks). 2 discs, 7 hours of programming. Good heavens! :)

On Friday night we decided to watch the first couple episodes. Something about it seemed slow, and less vibrant than more modern productions (think Downton Abbey or any of the Andrew Davies dramatizations). I thought the hubster would lose interest. But no, on Saturday morning he was chattering on about the characters and sure enough, on Saturday night we watched more episodes. And by Sunday, well, we just had to see it through to the end.

Several fun tangents came from the viewing experience:
- IMDB-searching the cast and finding surprises (like that Mrs Proudie would later be Miss Marple!!)
- Much breakfast-table conversation about who we would cast in a 2013 production. Jim Broadbent, Benedict Cumberbatch, etc.
- Frequently exclaiming "Good heavens!" about day-to-day events.

All good fun!

Dec 11, 2012, 4:07pm Top

>208 lauralkeet:, for a moment you had me scurrying to my dvd collection. Mrs Proudie became Miss Marple. I thought I'd missed something because I was sure I would have remembered seeing Joan Hickson (Miss Marple) as Mrs Proudie. But it was Geraldine McEwan you meant. Hickson was vastly superior to McEwan IMHO

Edited: Dec 11, 2012, 4:30pm Top


Good work, Laura! Glad to hear you enjoyed it, though of course I was sure that you would. :)

The 'Good heavens!"-es are pretty much unavoidable.

think Downton Abbey or any of the Andrew Davies dramatizations

And that's exactly what I dislike about those productions - or rather, what disappoints me anout them, their assuption that these stories have to be "jazzed up". It's inappropriate, sometimes to the point of being disrespectful to the material. (Andrew Davies insistence on sex scenes is particularly infuriating.) I tend to prefer Sandy Welch's adaptations; she seems to have a better grasp of the rhythms of the time.

I think the reason this hasn't been re-done is because it's an impossible act to follow. I wouldn't like to be the actors trying to outdo Donald Pleasence, Nigel Hawthorne, Geraldine McEwan, Susan Hampshire and Alan Rickman!

Speaking of which...


I agree she was better cast as Mrs Proudie! :)

Edited: Dec 12, 2012, 7:53am Top

>209 Mercury57:: well now that makes sense. I'm not much of a Miss Marple fan but I kind of had to squint to believe it was the same person. Because maybe it wasn't. LOL.

ETA: On the other hand, now that I have researched both Miss Marples, I realize I'm more familiar with Geraldine McEwan than Joan Hickson. Hmm.

Jan 25, 2013, 8:38am Top

Just bringing this up to the top of the queue as I'm finally starting the novel. I know it won't stay there for long.

Jan 25, 2013, 3:14pm Top

I hope you enjoy it, Bonnie! Please do use this thread if you have questions, or if you just want to chat.

Jan 25, 2013, 6:47pm Top

Thanks so much Liz. I've finished the first four chapters and am already really enjoying it but this thread is very helpful.

Jan 29, 2013, 12:13pm Top

I am at the halfway point in the novel and absolutely loving it. This thread has been so very helpful Liz and the questions Heather asked covered every question I had, and then some. I'm reading it on my iPad and I have the tab for this thread open so it's very easy to move back and forth between the two.

Obadiah Slope---what a name! In the same vein as some of Dickens'; Harold Skimpole comes to mind haha. I'm finding the character development to be the strongest part of the novel. They're all so complex.

Jan 29, 2013, 4:38pm Top

That's good to hear! :)

I agree with you about the character development. Those times when Trollope stops to dissect apart someone's motives (as with the Archdeacon with his dying father, or Mr Slope pursuing the Signora) are some of the strongest parts of his writing, I think.

Feb 1, 2013, 10:58pm Top

Done......and it was wonderful. I will try to put together some thoughts his characterizations were the best part of the book. I won't soon forget Mrs. Brodie, Obadiah Slope or the Señora.

All ready for Dr. Thorne next month. Did someone say something about Daniel Deronda? I picked up the book after I read and loved Middlemarch so I might be interested in that too.

I will echo everyone else's words about the wonderful job you did on this Liz. It was a great help to me as I made my way through the book so thank you.

Feb 2, 2013, 6:33am Top

I love the names some of those old novelists used. Slope just sounds exactly right. One of my favourites is Pecksniff In Martin Chuzzlewit

Jun 23, 2015, 3:03pm Top

Thanks for doing this. It was very helpful with my reading of BT. I recommended this thread to someone else also.

Jun 23, 2015, 6:18pm Top

That's great to hear - thank you!

Mar 12, 2017, 11:01pm Top


Apr 28, 2017, 11:28pm Top

Another vote of thanks from the future for Liz and Heather, who did a wonderful job tutoring and being tutored here. The early chapters especially were so much more enjoyable through knowing the details of the church split and other elements of the time. Thanks, ladies!

Apr 29, 2017, 7:22pm Top

Thank you, Julia! Very glad that you found the thread useful. Even more glad that you enjoyed the book. :)

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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