The Warden by Anthony Trollope - lyzard tutoring souloftherose

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The Warden by Anthony Trollope - lyzard tutoring souloftherose

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Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2012, 12:30 am

The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1855)

Hello, all! This time around I will have the fun and privilege of tutoring Heather (souloftherose) in The Warden, the first novel in Anthony Trollope's "Chronicles of Barsetshire", a six-novel series set in the fictional county of Barsetshire (based upon Dorset), and centred about the cathedral town of Barchester (based upon Salisbury).

The Warden was Trollope's fourth novel. His first three were almost deliberately anti-popular: he published The Macdermots Of Ballycloran and The Kellys And The O'Kellys in 1847 and 1848, when "Irish novels" (particularly sympathetic Irish novels) were almost guaranteed a hostile reception in England, and followed these with La Vendee, an historical novel set in France.

Although the Irish novels in particular are being re-evaluated today, it is generally considered that The Warden, published in 1855, is the novel in which Trollope "found his voice".

The story concerns the ramifications of an accusation of abuse of monetary privilege made against a clergyman: a situation based upon a real-life incident at the St Cross Hospital in Winchester during the 1840s, in which it was alleged that church funds intended for charitable purposes had been misappropriated by the hospital's warden.

The central tension in the novel is that between Trollope's awareness of widespread fiscal misconduct within the Church of England on one hand, but his dislike of "professional reformers" on the other. In particular - a topic only too relevant today - he felt that the newspapers of the day wielded far too much power and too often misused their influence over public opinion. In perhaps the most resonant part of this novel, Trollope gives the reader a moving portrait of a very private individual who suddenly finds his life and work subject to minute scrutiny in the media.

My experience is that modern readers do struggle somewhat with The Warden, I think because of the specificity of its central conflict, which is very much of the time and place in which the novel was written. Barchester Towers, in contrast, although it likewise centres around church institutions and functions which can be difficult to grasp these days, is more accessible because the power-struggles and factional in-fighting that make up much of its story are all too familar!

However, The Warden is a good introduction to the style of Anthony Trollope, and to the world of the Barset books. It is also the novel that introduces Septimus Harding, one of 19th century literature's greatest characters (with Archdeacon Grantly not too far behind).

I would also contend that a single chapter in this novel, A Long Day In London, is one of the best things that Trollope ever wrote.

heinäkuu 29, 2012, 6:59 am

Thanks for the introduction Liz - I'm going to try and read the first chapter today.

I first read The Warden several years ago after some friends recommended Trollope to me. I don't remember much about it but I do remember being quite underwhelmed by it the first time around. I'm hoping that having the support of someone like Liz who appreciates Trollope and understands some of the social background to the novel will help me understand and enjoy this book more on this reread.

Liz - have you read any of the three Trollope novels you mention above?

heinäkuu 29, 2012, 7:26 am

The Warden is kind of Trollope in embryo: if you're familiar with his later career, you can see a lot of its roots here. It's a book perhaps best appreciated after the event, in other words; but it does have virtues of its own, perhaps most on the level of character but also in the way Trollope sees both sides of the situation he was describing. That is a talent he would develop very much later on - particularly with respect to his ability to suddenly put the reader inside the head of his "villains" and show them as complex, cross-purposed human beings, like the rest of us. :)

I have read the Irish novels, but many years ago. They were essentially dismissed at the time of their publication - English people just weren't interested in Irish problems (the view being that Ireland was an English problem) - but they have undergone a critical reassessment recently, both as regional literature and with respect to Trollope's position as an Englishman sympathetic, although not uncritically, with the Irish position.

Heather, as I said, the reading / tutoring is quite at your pace. I'm not sure how our posting times will work - we'll have to see what works best for both of. us. How do you feel about lurkers? Would you prefer formal intermissions, or are you happy for people to ask questions at any time, as long as there is avoidance of spoilers?

heinäkuu 29, 2012, 12:38 pm

#3 Yes, posting times could be interesting - just reply/comment whenever works best for you.

I'd be happy for lurkers to ask questions without a formal intermission as long as spoilers are avoided. Although I have read this before, I can't remember what happens!

And I've made it through Chapter 1. It was a bit of a battle but I often find it takes me a little while to get into a 19th century novel.

Chapter I: Hiram's Hospital

In which Heather gets confused by the Church of England...

1. "The Rev. Septimus Harding was, a few years since, a beneficed clergyman residing in the cathedral town of ––––;"

What's a beneficed clergyman?

2. "...for many years he performed the easy but not highly paid duties of a minor canon. At the age of forty a small living in the close vicinity of the town increased both his work and his income, and at the age of fifty he became precentor of the cathedral."

What's a canon?

Precentor - the notes to my edition were less than helpful at this point. They said that this term was 'used in its old sense of the cleric who chants the litany - a duty nowadays falling to the succentor'. Unfortunately, I have no idea what a succentor is either! When it says chants the litany, does this mean he leads the sung responses in the services at Barchester cathedral? (This would seem to be the case from Trollope's later comment about Hiram appointing the precentor as warden because he had "a soul alive to harmony") Was this quite a prestigious role to have in the cathedral?

3. "...married the Rev. Dr Theophilus Grantly, son of the bishop, archdeacon of Barchester, and rector of Plumstead Episcopi"

Archdeacon - in charge of something a bit bigger than a parish but smaller than a diocese (the area a bishop looks after)?

Rector - my husband says the difference between a rector and a vicar was that the rector got more of the income from the living whereas for a vicar, some of it went to the person who holds the living (and with it the right to appoint the vicar).

I was surprised to see that someone was both an archdeacon and a rector but apparently it's quite common.

4. "In the year 1434 there died at Barchester one John Hiram, who had made money in the town as a wool-stapler, and in his will he left the house in which he died and certain meadows and closes near the town, still called Hiram's Butts, and Hiram's Patch"

Butts - I feel like I should know this but I can't remember what this means. Is it a piece of land which backs onto some water?

5. "...such an arrangement being in stricter conformity with the absolute wording of old Hiram's will: but this was thought to be inconvenient, and to suit the tastes of neither warden nor bedesmen, and the daily one shilling and fourpence was substituted with the common consent of all parties, including the bishop and the corporation of Barchester."

This reminded me of the scene at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility where John and Fanny Dashwood talk themselves into an easier interpretation of John's father's will :-)

What were bedesmen? Reading on, it seems the bedesmen were the 12 old men supported by the charity. 1 shilling and fourpence a day doesn't sound like a lot to buy food and clothes with.

I couldn't decide whether the wording here was meant to imply that the 12 old men hadn't really been asked to give their consent although I can't imagine their feelings were really going to be given much weight here.

6. "The stipend of the precentor of Barchester was eighty pounds a year. The income arising from the wardenship of the hospital was eight hundred, besides the value of the house."

£800 a year was quite a nice income for that time wasn't it? Would a precentor normally need a second income to supplement the precentorship? £80 seems quite a small income.

7. "Mr Harding was an open-handed, just-minded man, and feeling that there might be truth in what had been said, he had, on his instalment, declared his intention of adding twopence a day to each man's pittance, making a sum of sixty-two pounds eleven shillings and fourpence, which he was to pay out of his own pocket."

Which still leaves Mr Harding a nice £700 for himself.

8. "Beyond this row of buttresses, and further from the bridge, and also further from the water which here suddenly bends, are the pretty oriel windows of Mr Harding's house, and his well-mown lawn."

Very pretty:

9. "he {Mr Harding} always wears a black frock coat, black knee-breeches, and black gaiters, and somewhat scandalises some of his more hyperclerical brethren by a black neck-handkerchief."

What are hyperclerical brethren and why are they scandalised by his black neckerchief? My notes say it means Mr Harding was an old-fashioned dresser and then mentions the Low Church Evangelical 'seriousness' and the High Church Oxford Movement. I take it Mr Harding was not part of either of those movements - do you know anything about them? What sort of neckwear would they have approved of?

I'm sorry there are so many church questions....

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2012, 12:33 am

To quote Archdeacon Grantly - "Good heavens!" :)

Not hard to see why modern audiences are often put of this novel at the outset, is it? It's important that we get the terminology and (perhaps even more) the implications of all that's being said here right from the start, because it will impact all the way through.

This may take a while...but I have in fact recruited Genny to keep an eye on things here and make sure I get my facts straight.

Fun fact: Genny used to be a precentor!

Muokkaaja: elokuu 23, 2012, 7:57 pm

Okay! Let's see how far I get with this - and how many mistakes I make! (The tutees aren't the only ones on a learning curve here!)

1. A beneficed clergyman is one holding a living with certain defined assets - usually a house and a fixed income.

2. A canon is one of the body of clergymen attached to cathedral (who don't have any higher duties, as deans do); collectively they are called "a chapter".

A minor canon - as Mr Harding is - is not part of the chapter, but rather is responsible for the singing at the cathedral services.

The precentor is in charge of preparing the cathedral services, including managing the choir. He ranks second to the dean. The succentor was the precentor's assistant.

When it says chants the litany, does this mean he leads the sung responses in the services at Barchester cathedral?

Yes, I think that's right.

3. There is a distinction between ranks with administrative duties, and ranks with clerical duties. Dr Grantly has both. As archdeacon he is responsible for the welfare of the clergymen in the diocese and their families, the implementation of diocesan policy, and for looking after church property. As rector he is minister of a parish.

The distinctions between rectors, vicars and curates was all about the source and size of income. Rectors were the best off - so we're not surprised that Dr Grantly is a rector. :)

One of the main forms of abuse of privileges in the Anglican church at this time was "pluralism", that is, one person holding (and receiving the income from) multiple livings, without personally fulfilling the duties involved. Absenteeism was also a common problem: ministers took the main income and then left a curate (on a much smaller salary) to do the work. Trollope draws attention to this throughout the novel. One of the worst offenders in Barchester is Dr Stanhope, who spends all his time in Italy studying butterflies. (He is called home in Barchester Towers, with significant repercussions!)

4. "Butt" just seems to mean a small piece of anything, but it does have a secondary meeting of "remnant" or "leftover", so it might be a reference to an awkward piece of land.

5. Originally, almshouses such as these were Catholic. (So would this one have been.) One of the conditions of entry was that the beneficiary said prayers for the soul of the founder - i.e. "tell his beads", so "bedesman".

I think it should remind you of Sense And Sensibility! Trollope is being ironic when he says that matters were settled with the consent of "all parties". He means all important parties - "including the bishop and the corporation of Barchester". The bedesmen may in fact have preferred not to have to take every meal with the warden, however, even if that decision was made for the warden's benefit.

One shilling and fourpence is certainly not much, but the economics of the time were almost unimaginably different from ours, and this sum may have gone further than we suspect. (Even in my novel reading in the 1920s, what seem amazingly small sums of money are exchanged.)

6. Eight hundred pounds a year was a very comfortable income - which is one of the points of the novel. :)

Eighty pounds was less than what was considered necessary for a "gentlemanly" existence; around one hundred and fifty pounds a year was the cut-off for an acceptable income. It's around what a curate would be paid, though (such as a curate left to do all the work while the holder of the living was holidaying in Italy).

7. Indeed.

8. Trollope likes oriel windows. And later on in the series, he introduces some characters called "Oriel". :)

9. Oh, my goodness, here we go!

The factional definitions and differences within the 19th century Church of England is one of the very hardest things for modern readers to get their heads around. Briefly - very briefly, and we will certainly revisit the issue - people who were "High Church" tended to be part of the conservative, aristocracy / gentry / country hierarchy: the services retained traditional features and rituals, with authority vested in the ministers and an emphasis on sermons and preaching.

"Low Church" represented a simplification of worship, with more individual choice over how services were conducted, and movement away from ritualism and externals like wearing vestments. The terms "Low Church" and "Evangelical" are sometimes used interchangeably, but that's not strictly accurate: they overlapped in some things and differed in others.

Socially, the conventions - or stereotypes (and Trollope pretty much takes all this for granted; other novels of course have very different points of view!) - were that High Church people were ladies and gentlemen, Low Church people not necessarily so. High Church ministers were social animals who enjoyed drinking wine and dancing and hunting and fishing and sometimes playing cards, while Low Church people were a bunch of killjoys who disapproved of everything frivalous and tried to stop everyone else's fun.

The characters in The Warden are all High Church. However, Mr Harding's choice of a black neckcloth, which he certainly wears because it is less ostentatious than a white neckcloth, seems to the "hyper-clerical" people to be too much like the Low Church rejection of vestments.

(All of this is much more important in Barchester Towers, if we get that far!)

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 29, 2012, 9:04 pm

I thought long and hard about whether to do this---and I promise I won't make a habit of it!

I'm going to give you some "homework" in the form of a blog post I wrote a while back, reviewing a book about the 19th century English religious novel. I spent some time in it working out the terminology of the different religious factions, and you might find it helpful:

The church in a state.

heinäkuu 29, 2012, 9:37 pm

I hope you don't mind if I lurk along! I read The Warden and Barchester Towers last year. I quite enjoyed both, but I think I just let all of the above incomprehensible bits wash over me, and inferred from context what they meant as much as I was able. I plan to continue reading the series at some point, so maybe reading your discussion here will help refresh my memory and encourage me to pick up the third book.

heinäkuu 29, 2012, 9:53 pm

On the contrary, delighted!

I can imagine that the two most common responses to this stuff is either, as you say, to let it wash over and just keep going, or to throw your hands in the air and give up! I did the former on my first readings, too, until my OCD developed to the point where I had to know! :)

heinäkuu 29, 2012, 10:43 pm

Those of you who might be struggling with the first chapter of The Warden, having just re-read it myself I can only stress how important it is to really absorb what Trollope tells us here. My suspicion is that these details tend to escape the reader, as s/he struggles with the religious terminology; but in fact Trollope let's us know very clearly that when Mr Harding's wardenship is attacked later in the novel, his attackers are not without cause:

From that day to this the charity had gone on and prospered - at least, the charity had gone on and the estates had prospered. Wool-carding in Barchester there was no longer any; so the bishop, dean, and warden, who took it in turn to put in the old men, generally appointed some hangers-on of their own...

So not only has the charity stagnated while the church's income has grown, but the churchmen are using the almshouse as a way of getting their own pensioners off their hands (and purses)!

In this manner the income of the warden had increased; the picturesque house attached to the hospital had been enlarged and adorned, and the office had become one of the most coveted of the snug clerical sinecures attached to our church...

...while the bedesmen are on one shilling fourpence a day.

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 7:52 am

Another lurker here. I gave up on Barchester Towers once before but have always felt badly about doing so. Last week I picked up a Kindle edition of the complete chronicles (for $0.99, how could I resist?) and whenever I dive into it, I'll start at the beginning with The Warden. I now consider this thread a necessary prerequisite.

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 8:28 am

I will be lurking along. I hope to start the book today.

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 4:38 pm

Welcome, welcome! The more lurkers, the better!

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2012, 5:55 pm

And here I am, having bravely forged on through chapter 4. Very helpful, Liz!!! My only question about the first chapter is whether the 1 and 4 is meant to buy the beadsmen's (ea in my edition, so I guessed about the prayers for the benefactor) necessities or whether it is over and above room, board and clothing. I was thinking the latter, but I don't know why.
I confess that I'm having a hard time coming down from Dickens's fun with words to good, serviceable prose. I'll get over it.
And I confess that I spent all of $2.99 to get the complete works of Trollope on my Kindle. Why not? It's well-formatted and even has pictures!

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 6:39 pm

While I am finding Trollope rather a relief after Dickens. Different strokes! :)

It isn't quite clear from the text what the bedesmen's stipend covers (possibly this was assumed knowledge) - certainly lodging, probably clothing; however, the bit about them getting an increase in exchange for not having sit-down meals with the warden suggests they may now be paying for their own food.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 30, 2012, 7:34 pm

Liz has asked me to chip in with any additional info or clarifications on the church side of things especially. I will do what I can. I know more about the medieval church and the modern church than about mid-Victorian era - a lot of the ecclesiastical terminology (eg names of different roles) remained the same through all those eras thanks to the church's inherent conservatism, but the context and the reality of what those names are used for has changed a great deal in many ways.

Picking up on a few points above:

Bedesmen - yes, the residents of the almshouse, historically provided with food and shelter in return for their prayers. In fact the root of the word is the Anglo Saxon/Old English 'bed' or 'gebed' - prayer. So a bedesman is literally a prayer person. I had assumed it was just a coincidence that the word 'bead' (as in 'small round object threaded on string') sounds similar to 'bede' prayer, but in checking this I have discovered that rosary beads which developed as an aid to prayer in the later middle ages derived their name from their function. So rather than bedesmen getting their name from the beads they used, it was the other way round. Which makes me wonder what 'beads' were called in England before they were called beads! (since all kinds of beads were in use well before the invention of the medieval prayer beads).

Precentor - as Liz mentioned above, I was one - for 5 years I was Precentor of Chelmsford Cathedral. I used to dread being asked at parties what I did for a living, as no-one knew what a precentor was! Liz' description above covers it in a nutshell. The origin of the word in Latin: prae cantor - the one who sings before - points to one core aspect of the precentor's role. In my job description it said I was to be the 'main singing priest', and that involved on a daily basis singing the call-and-response verses that are part of choral evensong. Here's a recording of one of my favourite settings of the responses by Bernard Rose - listen for the cantor singing (he's rather faint in the recording) and then the choir responding with the second half of the prayer, and imagine Mr Harding in that role. Actually in my case singing within the liturgy only took up a small proportion of my working time - most of it was to do with planning of services and all the associated admin, and managing all the staff and volunteers associated with the worship in the cathedral, in particular the choir.

I also played a part in the overall governance of the Cathedral as a member of Chapter, and was involved in training and giving talks about music and worship to groups in the wider church community in the Diocese (ie the area under the care of a particular Bishop). In larger, wealthier and more ancient cathedrals than ours, the precentor often had/has an assistant - the succentor (from sub-cantor) and in those cases, the precentor may not actually do much or any of the singing (some I know cannot sing at all) and other routine duties but might concentrate on the more prestigious aspects of the job, leaving the junior to do all the hard work! Nowadays there is an annual conference for all the precentors in England, and comparing notes with the others shows that the precise range of responsibilities varies a great deal from cathedral to cathedral. (There is a similar conference for Bishop's Chaplains, known as the Slope Club, for reasons which will be clear to those who have read Barchester Towers!).Cathedrals have undergone quite a bit of change and reform since Trollope's day - the standard of music was generally very poor for a start, and specialised training for the clergy was non-existent (a degree from Oxford or Cambridge was regarded as appropriate and sufficient preparation). And of course there would not have been female precentors back then...

I don't think there is any mention of a succentor at Barchester, so Mr Harding, like me, was responsible for the whole range of tasks, though it does all sound rather more leisurely in his day - I seem to recall he had time for things like editing a scholarly edition of the music of a church composer. We don't hear very much about his precentorly duties in the novel, as I recall - it is mostly about his role as warden of the almshouse.

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 7:38 pm

How about a big hand for our Resident Expert, ladies and gentlemen!!

So, no mistakes yet? Phew! That's very interesting about the beads - I did not know that.

There is a similar conference for Bishop's Chaplains, known as the Slope Club, for reasons which will be clear to those who have read Barchester Towers!

THAT is hilarious!!

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 8:47 pm

I'm lurking, too. Big Trollope fan! Thanks, Liz and Genny!

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 9:41 pm

As far as the 19th century goes, I'm far from the expert - things really have changed almost out of recognition in some ways in the church since then, and the difficulty for someone familiar with the present situation is knowing which bits were the same in the past and which were not... I hope I won't confuse issues with contemporary info that is anachronistic.

I'm glad you like the Slope Club!

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 10:02 pm

I'm lurking too but I probably won't start the book until next week sometime.

heinäkuu 30, 2012, 10:04 pm

Following along at your own pace is just fine, Bonnie - feel free to ask more questions if you need to!

heinäkuu 31, 2012, 7:12 am

#5 "To quote Archdeacon Grantly - "Good heavens!" :)" Sorry!

"Fun fact: Genny used to be a precentor!" Cool!

#6 Thank you Liz - very helpful answers.

"One of the main forms of abuse of privileges in the Anglican church at this time was "pluralism", that is, one person holding (and receiving the income from) multiple livings, without personally fulfilling the duties involved. Absenteeism was also a common problem: ministers took the main income and then left a curate (on a much smaller salary) to do the work." I think I've heard of this issue before although I can't remember where. Anyway, it's helpful to be reminded!

"Mr Harding's choice of a black neckcloth, which he certainly wears because it is less ostentatious than a white neckcloth, seems to the "hyper-clerical" people to be too much like the Low Church rejection of vestments." Thank you, that makes more sense now.

"(All of this is much more important in Barchester Towers, if we get that far!)" :-)

#7 Homework is fine! I'll try and read that this afternoon.

#8 Welcome foggidawn!

#10 "So not only has the charity stagnated while the church's income has grown, but the churchmen are using the almshouse as a way of getting their own pensioners off their hands (and purses)!" I hadn't quite realised that the hangers-on mentioned would be people they would otherwise have had to support from the church's purse (or their own purse) so that's helpful - thank you.

#11 & 12 Welcome Laura and Anne!

#14 Welcome Peggy! My edition has illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. Given he was born in 1900 they can't have been originally included in the text though.

#15 "While I am finding Trollope rather a relief after Dickens." You mean you aren't missing the dimples and curls?!

#16 Thank you for the background on precentors and succentors Genny. The sung responses in the link are beautiful.

"though it does all sound rather more leisurely in his day" - busy clergyman do seem quite rare in 19th century novels whereas all the clergymen and women I know nowadays are always busy...

#17 Well done Liz and Genny!

#18 Welcome to Nancy and Bonnie!

I din't manage to read any further in The Warden yet but hope to get through chapter 2 this afternoon.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 31, 2012, 7:26 am

Trust me, you'll have picked up the "Good heavens!" habit by the end of the novel. (And when you've watched the TV adaptation, you'll hear it in perpetuity in Nigel Hawthorne's voice!)

You mean you aren't missing the dimples and curls?!

The dimples and curls are in Barchester Towers, too! The curls, certainly; strictly speaking, I can't recall if there are dimples also. :)

Most novels dealing with clergymen followed Trollope's lead by placing them in rural communities and focusing upon the social side of things amongst the gentry; rarely do we see a clergyman labouring amongst the poor - particularly the urban poor. Mary Humphry Ward's Robert Elsmere is the only novel I know of, off the top of my head, to do the latter, but that was the 1880s. (It also deals with a crisis of faith, so it's not really representative in that respect, either!)

heinäkuu 31, 2012, 7:32 am

I'm rediscovering all sorts of wonderful quotes here. The thing with Trollope, I think, is that his jokes and satire are sometimes so low key that you only recognise them for what they are on a re-read.

Dr Grantly, who has as many eyes as Argus, and has long seen how the wind blows in that direction, thinks there are various strong reasons why this should not be so. He has not thought it wise as yet to speak to his father-in-law on the subject, for he knows how foolishly indulgent is Mr Harding in everything that concerns his daughter; but he has discussed the matter with his all-trusted helpmate, within the sacred recess formed by the clerical bedcurtains at Plumstead Episcopi.

I love the Grantlys!

heinäkuu 31, 2012, 10:19 am

>22 souloftherose: As to busy clergymen, I'm also reading (and have been and will be at about 5 pages a day) The Diary of a Country Parson. I've just begun the year 1777, and Woodforde is genuinely busy on his parishoners' account. My favorite thing is that he notes every penny that he spends; he literally does. I especially liked his Christmas entry for 1776 where he had 7 or 8 of the old men to eat before evening service and gave each of them a shilling. He tells us this and what they had (plumb pudding), and then he makes a list. His list goes like this : Old Richard _____ 0 1 0 Old Richard _____ 0 1 0 Old John _____ 0 1 0. I'm wondering how old a man had to be to be "Old."

>24 lyzard: Liz, I enjoy that too, but I still miss the CD turn of phrase.

heinäkuu 31, 2012, 6:45 pm

Dickens is a rich, creamy desert: fabulous, but a small serving is enough.

Trollope is a bag of chips: as your fingers touch the bottom of the empty packet, you say guiltily, "Did I eat all that!?"


Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 31, 2012, 6:48 pm

On a slightly more sensible note, I imagine the contemporary definition of "old" would have been "unable to support himself through his own labour any more".

We know that the bedesmen in The Warden are from sixty to eighty years of age.

elokuu 1, 2012, 12:04 am

I'm lurking too - and I need to go back and read all the posts above. I read and loved The Warden last year (and just let the stuff I didn't quite get wash over me, but it all kind of made sense) and now I'm just over halfway in Barchester Towers. I had no idea that Trollope was funny till I started reading his books - they have sat here for years unloved!

elokuu 1, 2012, 2:58 am

Liz, I've read the blog post you linked to in message #7 - it was very helpful, thank you.

#24 I wrote that quote down too - the sacred recess - brilliant. I thought the whole scene with Dr Grantly and his wife was very humourous.

#25 Thanks Peggy. I'll look out for The Diary of a Country Parson.

#28 Welcome Cushla! I'm starting to get Trollope's humour more

Chapter II: The Barchester Reformer

In which Dr Grantly says "Good heavens!"

1. "The well-known case of the Hospital of St Cross has even come before the law courts of the country, and the struggles of Mr Whiston, at Rochester, have met with sympathy and support."

I was going to ask whether these were real life scandals but remembered to check the notes in my edition first. The St. Cross scandal was one where the holder was estimated to have derived £300k from the Mastership of the Hospital and some other offices that he wasn't supposed to hold at the same time. Mr Whiston at Rochester was trying to act against the trustees of the school he was headmaster of - presumably the trustees were felt to be making too much money from their positions again?

2. I noticed a lot more passages that make me smile this time around. As well as the one you quoted above there was this one:

"Probably Dr Grantly forgot, at the moment, that the charity was intended for broken-down journeymen of Barchester."

3. "Bold has all the ardour and all the self-assurance of a Danton, and hurls his anathemas against time-honoured practices with the violence of a French Jacobin."

Both references are to the French Revolution?

4. "In the world Dr Grantly never lays aside that demeanour which so well becomes him. He has all the dignity of an ancient saint with the sleekness of a modern bishop; he is always the same; he is always the archdeacon; unlike Homer, he never nods."

Do you know what this reference to Homer nodding means?

5. "could he have his way, he would consign to darkness and perdition, not only every individual reformer, but every committee and every commission that would even dare to ask a question respecting the appropriation of church revenues."

Whilst I don't think I share Dr Grantly's feelings regarding questions being asked about church revenues but I probably agree with him about committees in general....

6. "Twas thus he was accustomed to argue, when the sacrilegious doings of Lord John Russell and others were discussed either at Barchester or at Oxford."

My notes just say John Russell was a Whig politician and Prime Minister but do you know if he did anything in particular that would be considered sacrilegious by Dr Grantly?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 1, 2012, 6:36 pm

1. Yes - and the extra importance in terms of the novel is that Robert Whiston, who was the 'whistleblower' in the St Cross case, was supported by The Times, which Trollope mocks here as The Jupiter. He was, as I have said, worried over the increasing power of the newspapers generally and The Times in particular. In the case of St Cross it's hard to say it wasn't right, but Trollope's concern was that the paper could (and did) influence opinion for a cause whether it was right or wrong.

The warden at St Cross was the Earl of Guilford, who is mentioned at various points, sometimes just as "the earl". (All this was terribly topical while Trollope was writing, and wouldn't have needed explaining to his readers.)

2. ...and tonight, on the train going home, I embarrassed myself by laughing out loud at something. :)

3. Yes, they are. Strictly, a Jacobin is someone who supports a republic with centralised government, but in the 18th and 19th centuries the terms Jacobin and Jacobite were used simply (and negatively) to mean a revolutionary.

The Jacobin Club was a political association whose members led the French Revolution, but finally there was a division between the moderates and the extremists with the extremists gaining power. Georges Danton was an extremely important figure in the early stages of the Revolution, but in the long term he was convicted of corruption and treason (with what justice, I can't say) and executed.

4. From Horace: "quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus" - roughly, "even Homer nods (sleeps)", meaning the even the wisest men make mistakes, or even the greatest can sometimes be below their best. Not Dr Grantly, however: he is always the same; he is always the archdeacon; unlike Homer, he never nods.

5. Many would!

6. All through the 1840s and 1850s there were political battles fought over church reform in many respects, and a number of the people who headed the attacks on the establishment get name-checked in this novel. The issue wasn't just religious, but political with the Tories siding with the church and the Whigs with the reformers. Oxford was the heart of the High Church faction (and of course the site of the "Oxford Movement", which I explained, or at least tried to explain, in my blog post).

Lord John Russell was Prime Minister from 1846 to 1852, and campaigned very strongly for church reform, particularly with respect to redistribution of church revenues. In 1850 he set up a Royal Commission to inquire into conditions at Oxford University. Either one of those (but particularly, we feel, the former) would have been considered "sacriligious" by Dr Grantly.

elokuu 1, 2012, 6:18 am


I just came across a curl on page 94!! (In Chapter 11, anyway, for those of you with a different edition.)

No dimples, though. Phew!

elokuu 1, 2012, 11:57 am

Laugh out loud moment on curls, but it's in one of the later Barchester novels. Framley Parsonage? The plain looking but incredibly wealthy Miss Dunstable remarks that curls will always do, especially when they are done up with bank notes!

elokuu 1, 2012, 1:57 pm

#30 Thanks Liz. I did see your comments about the Oxford movement on your blog - I might need to reread that to try and fix it in my head.

" ...and tonight, on the train going home, I embarrassed myself by laughing out loud at something. :)" :-)

#31 As long as the curls weren't being shaken at anyone!

Muokkaaja: elokuu 1, 2012, 7:41 pm

If it was Miss Dunstable, it was probably Dr Thorne.

It was only one curl. Trollope is easing us into it.

For the record, I was laughing at the passage about Crabtree Canonicorum and Dr Stanhope in Chapter 13.

elokuu 1, 2012, 7:57 pm

Chapter 3 is a very important chapter both in terms of the novel's central conflict, and Trollope's approach as a writer.

He has made it very clear that his sympathies are with the church party, against the "busy-bodies"; yet having made that clear, he immediately turns around and shows us that in spite of his taking sides, the members of the church party are at fault in this matter---and then delineates for us the various ways in which they are at fault.

Most critically, we get this description of Mr Harding:

...his mind turned unhappily to his son-in-law: he knew how strongly he would be supported by Dr Grantly, if he could bring himself to put his case into the archdeacon's hands, and to allow him to fight the battle; but he knew that he would find no sympathy there for his doubts, no friendly feeling, no inward comfort. Dr Grantly would be ready enough to take up the cudgel against all comers on behalf of the church militant, but he would do so on the distasteful ground of the Church's infallibility. Such a contest would give no comfort to Mr Harding's doubts; he was not so anxious to prove himself right, as to be so.

elokuu 2, 2012, 4:10 pm

#35 I zoomed through chapter 3 without any questions so went ahead and read chapter 4 last night too. I really enjoyed the way Trollope presented the opposing sides of the argument over the two chapters.

So, not really questions but some comments about passages I noted down.

Chapter III: The Bishop of Barchester

1. "Then, my dear fellow, I can tell you nothing, for I'm as ignorant as a child." - echoes of Harold Skimpole from Bleak House?

2. ""Mr Bold," said the other, stopping, and speaking with some solemnity, "if you act justly, say nothing in this matter but the truth, and use no unfair weapons in carrying out your purposes, I shall have nothing to forgive. I presume you think I am not entitled to the income I receive from the hospital, and that others are entitled to it. Whatever some may do, I shall never attribute to you base motives because you hold an opinion opposed to my own and adverse to my interests: pray do what you consider to be your duty; I can give you no assistance, neither will I offer you any obstacle."

Probably complements the passage you quoted above about Mr Harding.

3. "The bishop did not whistle: we believe that they lose the power of doing so on being consecrated; and that in these days one might as easily meet a corrupt judge as a whistling bishop" My first laugh out loud moment :-)

Chapter IV: Hiram's Bedesmen

1. "Poor old men: whoever may be righted or wronged by this inquiry, they at any rate will assuredly be only injured: to them it can only be an unmixed evil. How can their lot be improved? all their wants are supplied; every comfort is administered; they have warm houses, good clothes, plentiful diet, and rest after a life of labour; and above all, that treasure so inestimable in declining years, a true and kind friend to listen to their sorrows, watch over their sickness, and administer comfort as regards this world, and the world to come!" Back in sympathy with the church party.

elokuu 2, 2012, 7:29 pm

Yes, it's mostly character stuff at this point.

echoes of Harold Skimpole

Oh, yes! And we know from later in the book that Trollope had just read Bleak House! I don't think he means that the bishop is "just a child" in the same sense that Skimpole is "just a child", though. :)

The novel's attitude to the bedesmen's claim is a bit discomforting. There are certainly a lot of class-ist assumptions here about what is "proper" for the lower classes, and what the relationship of the lower classes and the upper classes should be.

From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, you might well ask what the bedesmen would do with one hundred pounds a years, since it is made progressively clearer that they are supplied with lodging, food and clothes, and that part of the criteria for being taken in is that they have no family to to support them - or to inherit their money. (The unspoken answer is "drink it", which was one of the reasons the upper classes thought the lower classes shouldn't have too much spare cash. All right for the upper classes to drink as they liked, though...)

On the other hand, anyone here going to reject one hundred pounds just because you don't specifically need one hundred pounds??

The church argument is that John Hiram never imagined his land being so profitable, and never meant his bedesmen to have so much money as his will, properly interpreted, would now provide - to which we might be inclined to answer that he never meant the church to have so much money, either. :)

elokuu 4, 2012, 2:11 pm

#37 I"The church argument is that John Hiram never imagined his land being so profitable, and never meant his bedesmen to have so much money as his will, properly interpreted, would now provide - to which we might be inclined to answer that he never meant the church to have so much money, either. :)"

Agreed. Couldn't they increase the number of bedesmen the hospital provides for if the land is producing more money? I suppose they may not have enough rooms in the current hospital but they could build or rent another building. Of course, the church would have less money so they'd face the same obstacles but I was surprised that Bold hadn't considered this.

I've been too sleepy to read any more before today (watching people compete in the Olympics must be very tiring!) but I did read a couple of chapters this afternoon.

Chapter V - Dr Grantly Visits the Hospital

1. " it would be expedient to consult that very eminent Queen's Counsel, Sir Abraham Haphazard."

I thought at first that this was a Dickensian made-up name but when they later refer to Haphazard having been involved in the earl's case and the Rochester case I wasn't sure whether he was a real-life lawyer or not.

2. There were some more references to contemporary politicians who seem to have been involved in the reform debates (courtesy of my notes).

- Edward Horsman (Trollope spells it Horseman) who thought Lord John Russell's reforms (msg #30) were too favourable to the church.

- Sir Benjamin Hall - MP and reformer

Is there anything else I should know about these two?

3. "And who has not felt the same? We believe that Mr Horseman himself would relent, and the spirit of Sir Benjamin Hall give way, were those great reformers to allow themselves to stroll by moonlight round the towers of some of our ancient churches. Who would not feel charity for a prebendary when walking the quiet length of that long aisle at Winchester, looking at those decent houses, that trim grass-plat, and feeling, as one must, the solemn, orderly comfort of the spot! Who could be hard upon a dean while wandering round the sweet close of Hereford, and owning that in that precinct, tone and colour, design and form, solemn tower and storied window, are all in unison, and all perfect! Who could lie basking in the cloisters of Salisbury, and gaze on Jewel's library and that unequalled spire, without feeling that bishops should sometimes be rich!"

If nothing else this book is making me realise how few of the great cathedrals of Britain I've visited...

4. "He had very often been moved to pity,—to that inward weeping of the heart for others' woes; but none had he ever pitied more than that old lord, whose almost fabulous wealth, drawn from his church preferments, had become the subject of so much opprobrium, of such public scorn; that wretched clerical octogenarian Crœsus, whom men would not allow to die in peace,—whom all the world united to decry and to abhor."

Is 'that old lord' the Earl of Guilford, the warden of St. Cross?

Chapter VI - The Warden's Tea Party

No questions but I enjoyed Trollope's descriptions of the party and the analogy he draws between the interactions of the gentlemen and ladies at the party and a battle between two opposing forces.

"The party went off as such parties do. There were fat old ladies, in fine silk dresses, and slim young ladies, in gauzy muslin frocks; old gentlemen stood up with their backs to the empty fire-place, looking by no means so comfortable as they would have done in their own arm-chairs at home; and young gentlemen, rather stiff about the neck, clustered near the door, not as yet sufficiently in courage to attack the muslin frocks, who awaited the battle, drawn up in a semicircular array. The warden endeavoured to induce a charge, but failed signally, not having the tact of a general; his daughter did what she could to comfort the forces under her command, who took in refreshing rations of cake and tea, and patiently looked for the coming engagement: but she herself, Eleanor, had no spirit for the work; the only enemy whose lance she cared to encounter was not there, and she and others were somewhat dull.


How comes it that now, when all should be silent, when courtesy, if not taste, should make men listen,—how is it at this moment the black-coated corps leave their retreat and begin skirmishing? One by one they creep forth, and fire off little guns timidly, and without precision. Ah, my men, efforts such as these will take no cities, even though the enemy should be never so open to assault. At length a more deadly artillery is brought to bear; slowly, but with effect, the advance is made; the muslin ranks are broken, and fall into confusion; the formidable array of chairs gives way; the battle is no longer between opposing regiments, but hand to hand, and foot to foot with single combatants, as in the glorious days of old, when fighting was really noble. In corners, and under the shadow of curtains, behind sofas and half hidden by doors, in retiring windows, and sheltered by hanging tapestry, are blows given and returned, fatal, incurable, dealing death."

elokuu 4, 2012, 5:33 pm

The specification in the will of twelve bedesmen is the only part of it that the church party seems to interpret literally. :)

Chapter V

No, Sir Abraham is made up by Trollope - and we see too much of him later in the novel for him to be a portrait of a real individual. It is interesting that he ties this fictional character to the real-life individuals involved in the investigations into church procedure, though.

Like Dickens, Trollope had a thing for names, but in place of oddness he usually goes for character-appropriate. Later on, for example, we'll meet a clergyman with twelve children called Mr Quiverful. :)

Both Edward Horsman and Sir Benjamin Hall were members of Parliament and very strongly involved in the push for church reform, again, particularly in the area of the handling of church revenues and incomes. The point about the Bishop of Beverley's income was that there was no longer a Bishop of Beverley...but there was still an income...

Yes, that's the Earl of Guilford being talked about here. It's the old question of when it becomes tasteful to leave someone alone. He was elderly and ill...but he was also the embezzler of hundreds of thousands of pounds. He became the "poster child" for this sort of abuse and every time another case was raised in the papers, that of St Cross was dragged out and gone over again. It went on for many years.

Chapter VI

One by one they creep forth, and fire off little guns timidly, and without precision. Ah, my men, efforts such as these will take no cities, even though the enemy should be never so open to assault. At length a more deadly artillery is brought to bear; slowly, but with effect, the advance is made; the muslin ranks are broken...

And is Trollope implying that the girls are finally forced to make the decisive move? Gasp!! :)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 4, 2012, 5:38 pm

And in Chapter VII, Trollope follows up that last passage with this:

They say that faint heart never won fair lady; and it is amazing to me how fair ladies are ever won, so faint are often men's hearts!


...but most of this chapter is Trollope beginning his attack upon the over-influence of the newspapers, particularly The Times. There's also some now obscure parliamentary satire.

elokuu 5, 2012, 5:06 pm

#39 Thanks Liz.

"we see too much of him later in the novel for him to be a portrait of a real individual" Yes, I was starting to think that.

#40 "There's also some now obscure parliamentary satire." I think that may have gone straight over my head because I only had one question about Chapter 7.

Chapter VII - The Jupiter

In which Heather gets confused by nuns and whiskey...

1. Not really a question but as Liz mentions in msg #40, The Jupiter seems to be a reference to The Times which was also known as The Thunderer

2. "Sir Abraham Haphazard was deeply engaged in preparing a bill for the mortification of papists, to be called the "Convent Custody Bill," the purport of which was to enable any Protestant clergyman over fifty years of age to search any nun whom he suspected of being in possession of treasonable papers or Jesuitical symbols; and as there were to be a hundred and thirty-seven clauses in the bill, each clause containing a separate thorn for the side of the papist, and as it was known the bill would be fought inch by inch, by fifty maddened Irishmen, the due construction and adequate dovetailing of it did consume much of Sir Abraham's time. The bill had all its desired effect. Of course it never passed into law; but it so completely divided the ranks of the Irish members, who had bound themselves together to force on the ministry a bill for compelling all men to drink Irish whiskey, and all women to wear Irish poplins, that for the remainder of the session the Great Poplin and Whiskey League was utterly harmless."

The Convent Custody Bill is a reference to the Recovery of Personal Liberty in Certain Cases Bill which was something to do with allowing convents to be inspected so that nuns could be liberated according to my notes. And Irish = Catholic so I an understand why they would be fighting Trollope's spoof bill but after that I was lost... Any help appreciated!

Chapter VIII - Plumstead Episcopi

1. "The reader must now be requested to visit the rectory of Plumstead Episcopi; and as it is as yet still early morning, to ascend again with us into the bedroom of the archdeacon. The mistress of the mansion was at her toilet; on which we will not dwell with profane eyes, but proceed into a small inner room, where the doctor dressed and kept his boots and sermons; and here we will take our stand, premising that the door of the room was so open as to admit of a conversation between our reverend Adam and his valued Eve." The scenes with Dr Grantly and his wife are my favourites :-)

2. "Dr Grantly was blessed with a happy, thriving family. There were, first, three boys, now at home from school for the holidays. They were called, respectively, Charles James, Henry, and Samuel."

I would have had no idea about this without my notes but apparently the children were named after prominent bishops of the time. Do the character sketches which follow match the bishops' characters?

3. "The second was the archdeacon's favourite son, and Henry was indeed a brilliant boy. The versatility of his genius was surprising, and the visitors at Plumstead Episcopi were often amazed at the marvellous manner in which he would, when called on, adapt his capacity to apparently most uncongenial pursuits. He appeared once before a large circle as Luther the reformer, and delighted them with the perfect manner in which he assumed the character; and within three days he again astonished them by acting the part of a Capuchin friar to the very life. For this last exploit his father gave him a golden guinea, and his brothers said the reward had been promised beforehand in the event of the performance being successful. He was also sent on a tour into Devonshire; a treat which the lad was most anxious of enjoying. His father's friends there, however, did not appreciate his talents, and sad accounts were sent home of the perversity of his nature. He was a most courageous lad, game to the backbone."

I assume Henry was impersonating Luther and the Capuchin friar satirically which was why Dr Grantly enjoyed it so much? Why did the Devonshire friends not enjoy this?

4. "On entering this sacred room he carefully opened the paper case on which he was wont to compose his favourite sermons, and spread on it a fair sheet of paper and one partly written on; he then placed his inkstand, looked at his pen, and folded his blotting paper; having done so, he got up again from his seat, stood with his back to the fire-place, and yawned comfortably, stretching out vastly his huge arms and opening his burly chest. He then walked across the room and locked the door; and having so prepared himself, he threw himself into his easy-chair, took from a secret drawer beneath his table a volume of Rabelais, and began to amuse himself with the witty mischief of Panurge; and so passed the archdeacon's morning on that day."

This passage made me chuckle. I assume Rabelais was not the sort of book people would expect an archdeacon to read?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 6, 2012, 11:44 pm

Chapter VII

Yes, this is the bit I was referring to. Trollope makes satirical reference here to something that really went on during the 19th century: there were Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants in the House of Commons, and whenever they started banding together to force action on some Irish issue, an English member would introduce a Bill dealing with religious issues. This would set the Catholics and the Protestants against each other and usually stop them from collaborating on the original issue.

It was often taken for granted by Protestants that no-one would ever want to enter a convent, which were looked upon as prisons where girls were held against their wills. (The first Anglican convents were not introduced until the middle of the 19th century, after which the "convent as prison" stereotype died away.)

Chapter VIII

Yes, the character sketches of the three boys are satires of three bishops who were well-known public figures at the time. Charles James is C. J. Blomfield, the Bishop of London, who had a reputation for "looking out for number one" at all times. Henry is Henry Philpotts, Bishop of Exeter, who was an extremely conservative anti-reformer who was so generally unpopular he once got himself burned in effigy. He was even unpopular with the clergy because of his interference and dogmatic views. Samuel is Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, who was known as an equivocator who never expressed an opinion or took sides on anything, and was indeed nicknamed "Soapy Sam" as a consequence.

Fascinating to consider that Trollope's readers would have just known all this stuff!

Henry's "characters" appeal to his father's prejudices; we can imagine they weren't flattering to their models. Probably, however, the "astonished" guests at Plumstead were just being polite, while the people Henry was visiting in Devonshire didn't feel the need to encourage him.

The (accidental) joke here is that in a much later book, Trollope brings back Henry Grantly as a "good" character. Apparently his grew out of his boyhood faults. :)

At this time, Rabelais was viewed basically as pornography for educated people, so this is absolutely not what an archdeacon would be expected to read!

The reference to Panurge tags the archdeacon's book as Gargantua And Pantagruel.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 6, 2012, 11:43 pm

And in Chapter IX, we get Trollope's ironic rumination upon the difference between being right, and being right under the law - poor Mr Harding!

If it were necessary for him to suffer, he felt that he could endure without complaint and without cowardice, providing that he was self-satosfied of the justice of his own cause. What he could not endure was that he should be accused by others, and not acquitted by himself. Doubting, as he had begun to doubt, the justice of his own position in the position in the hospital, he knew that his own self-confidence would not be restored because Mr Bold had been in error as to some legal form; nor could be be satisfied to escape, because, through some legal fiction, he who received the greatest benefit from the hospital might be considered only as one of its servants.

The archdeacon's speech had silenced him - stupefied him - annihilated him - anything but satisfied him...

elokuu 7, 2012, 3:35 pm

Wow - thanks Liz!

#42 "there were Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants in the House of Commons, and whenever they started banding together to force action on some Irish issue, an English member would introduce a Bill dealing with religious issues. This would set the Catholics and the Protestants against each other and usually stop them from collaborating on the original issue." Oh my - I'd never heard of that before. Effective but nasty...

"Fascinating to consider that Trollope's readers would have just known all this stuff!" Yes - I'd struggle to name more than 2 current bishops.

Chapter IX - The Conference
Chapter X - Tribulation

No questions (Liz breathes sigh of relief). I felt really sorry for poor Mr Harding in Chapter IX (Liz's quote is a good one) and really enjoyed Trollope's depiction of the father-daughter relationship in Chapter X (it was very refreshing after Our Mutual Friend).

I don't know how much reading and posting I'm going to be able to get done over the next few days as I'm out tomorrow and Thursday evenings (an unheard of level of social activity). So I thought I would open the thread up to anyone lurking and or reading along. Are there any questions you'd like to ask or comments you have on chapters I - X?

INTERMISSION (as Madeline would say)

elokuu 8, 2012, 8:17 am


elokuu 8, 2012, 6:43 pm

Hello, lurker! Good to see you here. :)

elokuu 9, 2012, 2:20 pm

Ooops. I have to catch up. I'm in chapter 7, so I will. Just saying so you won't think that I've deserted.

elokuu 9, 2012, 4:30 pm

Hi, Peggy! No hurry here - take it at your own pace.

elokuu 9, 2012, 9:06 pm

Liz, all the bishops satirized in chapter 8 - that's so funny! I would never, ever have found that out on my own even though I've heard of Wilberforce.
I need now to go back to the very beginning, and ask what you may have covered and I simply missed. If Bold wants each of the 12 beadsmen to receive 100£ apiece, that's quite a bit over the warden's 800£, and surely, they would expect to pay him something. What is happening to the extra money at the time of the story?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 9, 2012, 9:49 pm

Oddly enough, Samuel Wilberforce is the one I've heard of independently, too!

Please do post any other questions or comments, Peggy.

At the moment, ALL of the income from John Hiram's estate is going into the Barchester church coffers (as managed by Mr Chadwick, the steward, who is mentioned frequently). From that healthy fund, Mr Harding's eight hundred pounds and the bedesmen's one shilling and fourpence a day is paid; the rest stays invested as church property and is used for general church purposes. This would still be the case if the bedesmen got their increase, but the church's income would be reduced by twelve hundred pounds a year plus whatever Mr Harding's income was adjusted to (if it was adjusted).

elokuu 10, 2012, 6:58 pm

I'm just gonna say hi, and then go back up the thread; I've just started reading and will be reading the thread along with the book, so I'm going to be lagging behind a bit. I've read The Way We Live Now and really liked that, and I'm planning to read the entire Barsetshire series...

elokuu 10, 2012, 11:35 pm

Welcome, Britt! Good to have you here! Please post questions if you have them.

elokuu 10, 2012, 11:47 pm

Like Britt, I'm just saying hello for now and will start up at the beginning. I started this audiobook yesterday and by chapter 2, was ready to give up, and did in fact seriously consider abandoning the book. But then I thought of the rule of 50, which would mean 100 minutes of listening time, so I went back to it. I definitely see why modern readers would be put off by the clerical world the story is describing, but I told myself that most novels at the core are about human nature and that should be interesting enough. I finished chapter 4 today, and just now have read all of Heather's questions about chapter 1 and am very glad she was just as lost in this world as I am. It's late for me here, so I'll come back later to catch up!

elokuu 11, 2012, 12:13 am

Ilana, the specificity of the setting and the contemporary references and satire do make The Warden difficult to get into these days, but in the end it's a character study, and worth sticking with for that, I think.

elokuu 11, 2012, 11:43 pm

Heather raised this back up in #38, but I was also wondering about the 12 bedesman. I've found it hard not to think about this from the perspective of a modern charity, where if you had an unexpected growth in resources you would almost automatically seek to expand services in some way. Surely "the poor of Barchester" must be a rather large number?

If Mr. Harding were a more enterprising sort of individual would it have been possible to contrive a way to help more people with the hospital's resources, or was this just unthinkable at the time?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 13, 2012, 10:46 pm

John Hiram's will specifies "twelve men" and of course is is greatly to the church's financial benefit to stick to the letter of the law in that respect.

Charity in the 19th century was an odd, two-edged thing: many people argued, and most sincerely, that there were poor people in the world because it was God's will there should be, and that to help "raise" the poor was to act against His will.

Yet this was also the time that saw an infinitely greater awareness of the poor, particularly in terms of fundamental things like housing, sanitation and education; the argument that raising the overall standard was good for everyone. Many important charitable institutions were founded and funded at this time.

Mr Harding could not help the poor of Barchester with church funds, but he could using his own money. He is in many ways a very good man, but his tendency to live in his own, small, comfortable world and not question the construction of that world is certainly a serious fault. (Although I suspect it seems more so to us than to people in Trollope's day.)

elokuu 12, 2012, 10:04 am

#49 & 50 Oh good question, Peggy (and good answer Liz) - I think you've picked something I hadn't realised that I hadn't understood before.

#51 Welcome Britt.

#53 Hi Ilana - I found the first chapter to be quite a tough one too. It does get easier though - keep going!

#55 Good question Anne!

#56 "Mr Harding could not help the poor of Barchester with church funds, but he could using his own money." And he did give the bedesmen an extra two pence a day - I still find it difficult to get an idea of how much that might equate to in today's economy but that's about 8% of Mr Harding's £800 income. Liz, do you have an idea of whether contemporary readers would have felt that was a generous donation by Mr Harding?

I read through a few more chapters this morning - questions to follow...

elokuu 12, 2012, 10:49 am

Chapter XI - Iphigenia

No questions - with the help of the notes in my edition and The Song of Achilles I think I understood all the references in this chapter :-)

Liz, have you read Sheridan's play The Rivals?

Chapter XII - Mr Bold's Visit to Plumstead

1. "The church reformer soon found himself tête-à-tête with the archdeacon in that same room, in that sanctum sanctorum of the rectory, to which we have already been introduced. As he entered he heard the click of a certain patent lock, but it struck him with no surprise; the worthy clergyman was no doubt hiding from eyes profane his last much-studied sermon; for the archdeacon, though he preached but seldom, was famous for his sermons."

I don't think it was a book of sermons he was hiding!

2. "beginning from the early fathers in due chronological order, there were to be found the precious labours of the chosen servants of the church down to the last pamphlet written in opposition to the consecration of Dr Hampden; and raised above this were to be seen the busts of the greatest among the great: Chrysostom, St Augustine, Thomas à Becket, Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop Laud, and Dr Philpotts."

Dr Philpotts is the man Henry Grantly is modelled after whilst I think the other names listed are still theologians read today - is Dr Philpotts' inclusion here a joke?

3. "Few parish churches in England are in better repair, or better worth keeping so, than that at Plumstead Episcopi; and yet it is built in a faulty style: the body of the church is low,—so low, that the nearly flat leaden roof would be visible from the churchyard, were it not for the carved parapet with which it is surrounded. It is cruciform, though the transepts are irregular, one being larger than the other; and the tower is much too high in proportion to the church."

Does cruciform mean cross-shaped? What are transepts? As you've probably guessed by now, church architecture is not something I'm very knowledgeable on.

Chapter XIII - The Warden's Decision

No questions!

Chapter XIV - Mount Olympus

This made my head hurt a bit - there were so many references... I think I got the gist of it though.

For some reason I didn't expect to find social commentary like this in Trollope. He's expressing his concerns that the media of the day (The Times in this case) have too much power and aren't accountable to anyone for what they write, unlike the politicians and policy makers. Quite topical today really (maybe not the bit about politicians being held accountable).

1. "Should a stranger make his way thither at dull noonday, or during the sleepy hours of the silent afternoon, he would find no acknowledged temple of power and beauty, no fitting fane for the great Thunderer"

The Thunderer was the popular name for The Times - was Trollope trying to make his references to The Times more explicit or was this a pun on the Mount Olympus reference (Zeus was the god of thunder?) or both?

I only have 100 pages left :-(

Muokkaaja: elokuu 13, 2012, 10:48 pm

I will come back to your questions, Heather, but I've had a few more thoughts on the subject of charity and the poor in the 19th century. (I always do this - hesitate for fear of boring people with my lectures, then worry that I haven't said something I should have!)

We need to keep in kind that the 19th century was a time of enormous change for England as a result of the industrial revolution, which the huge migration of the population from the country to the cities and a shift from an agrarian to a manufacturing economy.

Traditionally, the bulk of English life was country-based, with a feudalistic system of a paternal church and aristocracy / gentry responsible for the welfare of the workers (who were mostly farmers and in associated professions). These people rarely owned property, and were therefore rarely independent. They were tenants and therefore answerable to their landlords, who in turn were supposed to keep an eye on their welfare and maintain their houses, etc. There were not really any "poor" as we now think of it, because someone was responsible. (Theoretically, at any rate; it was a system that assumed - often wrongly - that landowners would fulfil their responsibilities.) This is the world where you get "the lady of the manor" calling on her cottagers and seeing to their needs. It wasn't really viewed as "charity".

But the industrialisation of England much of that changed. It created a whole new class of urban-based workers, and a whole new class of urbanised poor - and a kind of extreme poverty that had only been seen before in London. These people had no conceptual place within the traditional English hierarchy - and no real place within the established church, either. This is one reason why the 19th century saw an explosion in the dissenting factions, the Evangelicals, the Methodists, the Unitarians - these were the religions of the new working-class, where they felt wanted as they did not under the traditional system.

And this is also where "charity for the poor", as we now understand it, became a necessary thing. The urban poor were disenfranchised and no-one was responsible: the relationship between "masters" and "workers" was a very different thing from that between "landlords" and "tenants". There was no social safety net if things went wrong.

Trollope's novels take place in rural areas where the traditional ways were still in place, so "the poor of Barchester" would have been the responsibility of the local landowners and not necessarily the church as such. It's not that he's closing his eyes to what was going on; he's simply writing about one particular cross-section of society.

In contrast, the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, particularly Mary Barton and North And South, show us conditions in the urban areas of England at the same time. Gaskell's husband was a Unitarian minister in Manchester, and as his wife she did a great deal of work amongst the urbanised poor. She put that first-hand knowledge into her novels. (Up to a point: she was repeatedly forced to censor and bowdlerise her novels in order to get them published.)

elokuu 12, 2012, 6:57 pm

I can do the church architecture question! Yes, cruciform means cross shaped. And transepts are the bits of a cross-shaped church building that form the cross piece. If you imagine the main body of the church (the nave at the west end and the chancel at the east end) as being like the upright of a cross, then the transept are like the crosspiece, cutting across at the point where the nave turns into the chancel - the middle bit then naturally is called the 'crossing'.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 12, 2012, 7:26 pm


Yes, I have read The Rivals. The reference here is to Lydia Languish's disappointment when she finds out that her forbidden lover is the man her family wanted her to marry all along. Eleanor is likewise disappointed that the great sacrifice she's made up her mind to isn't necessary. Love is no fun without barriers and difficulties to overcome! :)

I don't think it was a book of sermons he was hiding!

I think you're right!

greatest among the great: Chrysostom, St Augustine, Thomas à Becket, Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop Laud, and Dr Philpotts.

Oh, absolutely that's a joke! - Trollope suggesting that this is how Henry Philpoots viewed himself, perhaps? - greatest among the great.

All of those listed were famous for, in one way or another, defending the church against attacks by the state - but Philpott's rejection of the Reform Bill doesn't really rate with the actions of the others, most of whom suffered execution or exile for their defence of their church.

Cruciform does mean cross-shaped - in a church, this means a symbolic building design featuring a long main body with short jutting wings towards one end, which were called transepts.

There is quite a lot of social commentary in Trollope - more in his political novels, perhaps - but later on he wasn't so "up front" about it; or perhaps it was more evenly distributed through a longer book. I doubt that any of us would feel too inclined to give him an argument over his view of the power of the media, and its abuses, and its lack of accountability. His other point here is that since the papers controlled what was printed, they could also control / silence dissenting views.

Plus ça change, huh?? :(

Both. The Times, as you say, was nicknamed The Thunderer; Trollope turns that into a joke by calling his paper The Jupiter - Jupiter was the god of the sky and the thunder, whose main weapon was the thunderbolt. And of course he lived on Olympus with all the other gods. Trollope suggests that modern newspaper editors saw themselves in this way, living above and untouched by the mere mortals whose lives they controlled and dispensing "thunderbolts" when they felt like it.

elokuu 12, 2012, 7:25 pm

Oops, cross-post! (So to speak!) Thanks for stepping in, Genny!

Muokkaaja: elokuu 12, 2012, 9:07 pm

Eep! - Chapter XV on the horizon.

I think most of us will have an opinion on the content of that.

I'll be particularly interested to hear Peggy's. :)

elokuu 13, 2012, 4:13 pm

I'm almost finished. One more chapter to go I think. And yes, chapter XV is "Eep!"-worthy indeed!

elokuu 13, 2012, 5:37 pm

Oh, can't remember what Chapter XV might be about. I'll have to wait for comments from Heather...

elokuu 13, 2012, 10:26 pm

So, I have been lurking. Mostly because I haven't read any Trollope and wasn't sure if I wanted to. However, what I've read here coupled with the lure of AR in a film adaptation has caused me to purchase The Warden. I will be working on catching up (without stress) and lurking with more purpose. :) This is better than a college class.

elokuu 13, 2012, 10:32 pm

Hi, Jenn! Lovely to have you here - I hope you enjoy it!

elokuu 13, 2012, 10:36 pm

Well, Liz... I finished the book earlier this evening and am sorry to say that it's doubtful I'll continue with the Chronicles of Barsetshire. It's not so much that I didn't like it, because it did have it's merits and your input and Genny's was very helpful, but... anyway, I do have some comments to make, but I'll wait until Heather is finished too of course.

elokuu 14, 2012, 9:21 am

Just checking in to say that I had stopped *TW* over the weekend, but I'll read today. Now I'm eager for chapter XV!

Muokkaaja: elokuu 14, 2012, 10:21 am

#59 - 61 Thank you Liz and Genny :-)

#59 "hesitate for fear of boring people with my lectures" Honestly, I never find them boring.

"This is the world where you get "the lady of the manor" calling on her cottagers and seeing to their needs." It always helps me to think of examples from books: Dorothea in Middlemarch, Emma Woodhouse in Emma and it's also mentioned in Persuasion.

"And this is also where "charity for the poor", as we now understand it, became a necessary thing. The urban poor were disenfranchised and no-one was responsible: the relationship between "masters" and "workers" was a very different thing from that between "landlords" and "tenants". There was no social safety net if things went wrong." Was this what led up to the introduction of the New Poor Law and workhouses etc (as attacked by Dickens)?

"Up to a point: she was repeatedly forced to censor and bowdlerise her novels in order to get them published." That Dickens character again...

#60 Wow, even a helpful diagram - thank you! We did cover this at school but none of the names for bits of the church building would stay in my head.

#61 "Love is no fun without barriers and difficulties to overcome! :)" :-)

"All of those listed were famous for, in one way or another, defending the church against attacks by the state - but Philpott's rejection of the Reform Bill doesn't really rate with the actions of the others, most of whom suffered execution or exile for their defence of their church." Thank you, I hadn't understood that.

#63 - 65 & 69 Chapter XV and I are about to curl up with some tea and see where we get to...

#66 Welcome Jenn!

#68 I'm even more keen to read more of the Warden now Ilana because I want to know what you think! I have a free afternoon so I'll see how far I get.

elokuu 14, 2012, 11:27 am

Oh my! I don't think eeep! does this chapter justice...

Ch XV - Tim Towers, Dr Anticant and Mr Sentiment

I have some questions about the first half of this chapter before I get on to the subject of Mr Sentiment in the second half.

1. "When one Esquimau meets another, do the two, as an invariable rule, ask after each other's health? is it inherent in all human nature to make this obliging inquiry? Did any reader of this tale ever meet any friend or acquaintance without asking some such question, and did anyone ever listen to the reply? Sometimes a studiously courteous questioner will show so much thought in the matter as to answer it himself, by declaring that had he looked at you he needn't have asked; meaning thereby to signify that you are an absolute personification of health: but such persons are only those who premeditate small effects."

This made me laugh - British people still use 'How are you?' to mean 'Hello' :-)

I didn't really understand the bit about those who premeditate small effects though - any ideas?

2. "Dr Pessimist Anticant was a Scotchman"

My notes say this is a reference to Thomas Carlyle, an historian and social critic. I think he wrote something quite important about the French Revolution which Dickens used as a starting point for A Tale of Two Cities but I hadn't heard of him as a social critic before.

3. "His allusion to the poet and the partridges was received very well. "Oh, my poor brother," said he, "slaughtered partridges a score of brace to each gun, and poets gauging ale-barrels, with sixty pounds a year, at Dumfries, are not the signs of a great era!—perhaps of the smallest possible era yet written of. Whatever economies we pursue, political or other, let us see at once that this is the maddest of the uneconomic: partridges killed by our land magnates at, shall we say, a guinea a head, to be retailed in Leadenhall at one shilling and ninepence, with one poacher in limbo for every fifty birds! our poet, maker, creator, gauging ale, and that badly, with no leisure for making or creating, only a little leisure for drinking, and such like beer-barrel avocations! Truly, a cutting of blocks with fine razors while we scrape our chins so uncomfortably with rusty knives! Oh, my political economist, master of supply and demand, division of labour and high pressure,—oh, my loud-speaking friend, tell me, if so much be in you, what is the demand for poets in these kingdoms of Queen Victoria, and what the vouchsafed supply?""

*Whoosh* - which is the sound of this paragraph going completely over my head. My notes say it's something to do with Robert Burns being made into a customs agent and I think Carlyl's point is that this won't leave him any time to write poetry but what do the partridges have to do with it? Help!

4. And then the despatch boxes - these were boxes MPs used to carry documents and were presumably velvet lined and lockable from the Chubb reference, but I have no idea what else he's trying to say here.

5. "A noble old man, my august inhabitants of Belgrave Square and such like vicinity,—a very noble old man, though employed no better than in the wholesale carding of wool."

Here, Anticant/Carlyle is contrasting the good man Hiram and the good man, the warden?

elokuu 14, 2012, 12:06 pm

Ch XV continued - Mr Sentiment

Mr Popular Sentiment = Charles Dickens. I'm still musing on the second half of this chapter and I might try rereading it again another day to see what if my initial reaction changes.

I think some of Trollope's criticisms of Dickens are valid - in Trollope's own words:

"his good poor people are so very good; his hard rich people so very hard"

and again:

"Mr Sentiment's great attraction is in his second-rate characters. {... They}are as natural as though one met them in the street: they walk and talk like men and women, and live among our friends a rattling, lively life; yes, live, and will live till the names of their calling shall be forgotten in their own, and Buckett and Mrs Gamp will be the only words left to us to signify a detective police officer or a monthly nurse."

(Mr Bucket was the detective in Bleak House and I think Mrs Gamp was in Martin Chuzzlewit).

Although I think Trollop intended the latter quote as a criticism, I see it as one of Dickens' strengths. But, in any case, if Trollope doesn't like Dickens' writing style, that's fine. I think there's room for writers like Trollope and writers like Dickens in the world.

The problem I have with this section is the way in which Trollope caricatures a Dickens' novel in The Almshouse; he seems to imply that Dickens exaggerated the social injustices he wrote about in his novels and that isn't the impression I got as I was rereading some of Dickens' earlier works this year and last. I'm only up to 1842 in my Dickens chronology and The Warden was published in 1855 but I don't remember Dickens' novels of the 1840s and 1850s being more extreme than his earlier works.

I can't help but feel that Trollope was jealous of Dickens' popularity and I can sympathise with that - it must be really frustrating to have an author whose style you dislike be so popular - but I don't think such a strong attack was warranted. I also think there were some class issues and a bit of snobbery here. In Trollope's eyes, Dickens' wasn't a gentleman, so Dickens couldn't have been a good author and how dare people prefer Dickens' books?

Anyway, end of 'the defence for Charles Dickens'. I would love to hear a defence for Trollope and any other comments anyone has on this chapter.

elokuu 14, 2012, 7:04 pm

Whoosh! indeed. :)

One thing at a time.

those who premeditate small effects

English literature is full of characters who are mocked for "rehearsing speeches" instead of just making conversation (even if it was pointless, ritualised conversation). In Pride And Prejudice, for instance, Mr Collins does it: he "studies" compliments to pay Lady Catherine. Here we have someone who tampers with the "How are you?" ritual also for the purpose of paying pre-conceived compliments.

So---Thomas Carlyle.

Carlyle was an historian and an essayist, a social analyst and critic who wrote on religion, the organisation of society, industrialisation, who was very influential in the 1830s and 1840s, but is generally considered to have "lost it" over the latter part of his career (at the time of The Warden, that is).

I'm not familiar with Carlyle's writings, but people who are consider that Trollope's parody of his later style of writing, particularly that in Latter-Day Pamphlets from 1850, is pretty on-the-mark. The specifics of the Carlyle parody are much less important than Trollope's apparently very accurate imagining of how Carlyle might have made an attack upon Mr Harding and the situation at Hiram's.

Carlyle had a fixation on country squires and their - to him - pointless "hunting / shooting / fishing / persecute the poachers" way of life, and criticisms of them tended to pop up in the oddest places in his writings; this is the significance of the passage you quote.

I think we should also note that "pamphleteers" were a common and popular target throughout Victorian literature; you might remember Miss Clack, one of the narrators of The Moonstone, who is always forcing her pamphlets on people. The inference is that Carlyle has gone from being a serious social critic who might be taken seriously and listened to with respect, to being just another crank.

It's interesting (and a little sad, I guess) that people these days seem to just pass over "Mr Anticant"...but everyone has an opinion on Mr Sentiment. :)

elokuu 14, 2012, 10:46 pm

As far as Trollope on Dickens goes, Heather, I don't read this passage as critically as you do; I think Trollope is letting us know both what he does and what he does not like about Dickens.

It's important to put this in its proper historical context, though: at the time that Trollope was writing, he and Dickens were in no way "rivals", except inasmuch as they were both English novelists; Dickens was in the final decade of his career, while Trollope was just getting started. They only went "head to head" for quite a brief period of time (the success of Barchester Towers in 1857 to the publication of Our Mutual Friend in 1865). So I don't think jealousy over their relative success levels really comes into it.

But it probably was a bit exasperating to Trollope that what seemed to him Dickens' greatest flaw as a writer was the reason for a great deal of his popularity.

Now, obviously, a number of the criticisms that Trollope makes here are the same ones that people have always made about Dickens. And really, it's just the way it is: either you buy into Dickens' world, or you don't. As a realist novelist, Trollope doesn't; and since that's pretty much how I feel, too, I'm disinclined to argue with him! :)

And really, Peggy and I had exactly this---not argument, but difference of opinion, during OMF: I say, I like this and this, but this is a deal-breaker for me; Peggy replies, I see what you're saying, but it doesn't bother me.

The contention that Dickens caricatures are more vivid and alive than his characters is a very old one. And actually, I don't think Trollope is criticising Dickens' secondary characters in the passage you quote; I think, on the contrary, that he is telling us what it is about Dickens that he likes. (Yes, Sarah Gamp is from Martin Chuzzlewit.) What he is criticising him for (and again I tend to agree) is having impossibly good and virtuous characters in situations that could not possibly spawn them - again, to him it's a lack of realism.

There's also this:

"Have you seen the first number of The Almshouse?... It's very well done, as you'll see; his first numbers always are."

This is Trollope at the beginning of his career, still writing short, single-volume works, not having made the leap to the three-volume novel, still less having had to write a novel under the pressures of serialisation - but recognising the challenges and Dickens' mastery of at least one of those challenges.

But the criticism of Dickens as a reformer is something beside. I think it's significant that this was written soon after the publication of Bleak House, where there was some criticism of Dickens for setting his novel in the past, as many of the abuses he highlights were already in the process of being reformed when he was writing: the Chancery in the 1850s wasn't the Chancery of the 1830s.

However, obviously Trollope had an issue with professional reformers - or perhaps with people who "dabbled" in reforming; he seems to see Dickens as a more powerful version of John Bold, butting into things for a time and then just moving on. This to me is a personal thing quite divorced from any criticism or praise as Dickens as a writer. I think these days we tend to take it for granted that Dickens was doing a good and right thing by exposing various abuses in his novels, but what we have here is a reminder that in Victorian times not everyone shared that view.

elokuu 15, 2012, 2:53 am

#73-74 Thanks Liz! I will try not to worry too much about the partridges (I remember Miss Clack - she was one of my favourite characters in a 'hope never to meet in real life' kind of way) and having slept on it, I feel a bit calmer about the Mr Sentiment passages :-) Thank you for explaining Trollope's point of view - I hadn't realised on my previous reads that Bleak House was set a couple of decades before it was written and you make good points about their lack of rivalry at the time Trollope was writing and the issue with professional reformers.

I agree about Dickens' characters but, like Peggy, most of the time it doesn't bother me.

elokuu 15, 2012, 11:03 am

I'm backtracking a bit because I just read this in chapter XII and don't get the reference. You guys must have it in your notes, but I don't have notes. Somebody help, please.... And. thank you!
"Eleanor was not at all addicted to the Lydian school of romance; she by no means objected to her lover because he came in at the door under the name of Absolute instead of pulling her out of a window under the name of Beverley;"

Muokkaaja: elokuu 15, 2012, 8:18 pm

That's something Heather and I touched upon in #58 and #61: in Sheridan's play, The Rivals, the heroine, Lydia Languish, is disappointed to discover that the poor but dashing Ensign Beverley, with whom she's planning on eloping, is actually the wealthy and guardian-approved Jack Absolute. She wants her love to be romantic and forbidden.

(This is the play that features Mrs Malaprop.)

Trollope is saying that although Eleanor isn't one to create love difficulties where they don't exist, or to prefer difficulties to plain sailing, she is still rather disappointed that the great sacrifice she's worked herself up to isn't necessary.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 15, 2012, 7:21 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 15, 2012, 7:21 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 15, 2012, 7:21 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 15, 2012, 8:17 pm

And after the controversy of Chapter XV, we get the delightful Chapter XVI, my favourite in the novel! :)

elokuu 16, 2012, 10:43 am

Woot! I am all caught up - at least as far as I know. I'm on Chapter XVI. I really enjoyed Chapter XV, in spite of the controversy. I had to read it twice though. First time through, I came to the end and thought maybe I missed a thing or two. I read it again and for sure, I had missed a thing or four.

It didn't help that it was midnight and a real-life drama was playing out next door as my neighbor kicked his 18 yr old son out of the house with attendant cursing and crying. Oh my.

Anyway, as a newcomer to Trollope and a general fan of Dickens, I was able to read it without getting too offended on behalf of Dickens and I especially enjoyed the discussion above. Thanks for letting me lurk. :)

elokuu 16, 2012, 12:46 pm

OK, this is all too intriguing. I'm going to read The Warden next month. I realize I'll be way behind, Heather will probably be finished by then, but this thread is a fantastic reference. Thanks!

elokuu 16, 2012, 3:46 pm

#76 & 77 Sorry Peggy, I think I got lazy about listing all the references my notes had mentioned.

#81-83 I finished last night! Jenn, I expect you will too because the story moves fairly quickly once you're past Ch XV. Laura - I hope you enjoy it!

I don't have any questions about Ch XVI to XXI although I would be interested in hearing from Liz why Ch XVI in particular is her favourite. I liked it a lot but it didn't immediately jump out at me as a favourite for some reason.

There were a couple of quotes from ChVI that made me smile:

From the beginning of the chapter (italics mine):

"he excused himself for giving Dr Grantly no earlier notice, by stating that his resolve was very sudden; and having entrusted this note to Eleanor, with the perfect, though not expressed, understanding that it was to be sent over to Plumstead Episcopi without haste, he took his departure."

And this one from somewhere in the middle which I only understood because of Liz's earlier explanations:

"This bill of Sir Abraham's had been read a second time and passed into committee. A hundred and six clauses had already been discussed and had occupied only four mornings and five evening sittings; nine of the hundred and six clauses were passed, fifty-five were withdrawn by consent, fourteen had been altered so as to mean the reverse of the original proposition, eleven had been postponed for further consideration, and seventeen had been directly negatived. The hundred and seventh ordered the bodily searching of nuns for jesuitical symbols by aged clergymen, and was considered to be the real mainstay of the whole bill. No intention had ever existed to pass such a law as that proposed, but the government did not intend to abandon it till their object was fully attained by the discussion of this clause. It was known that it would be insisted on with terrible vehemence by Protestant Irish members, and as vehemently denounced by the Roman Catholic; and it was justly considered that no further union between the parties would be possible after such a battle. The innocent Irish fell into the trap as they always do, and whiskey and poplins became a drug in the market."

And of course, a huge thank you to Liz and Genny for their help and to everyone else for dropping by or lurking :-)

elokuu 16, 2012, 6:03 pm

Whoo!! Congratulations, Heather!! :)

Glad to have you as a lurker, Jenn!

Welcome, Laura! Please feel free to refer to this thread, and to post your own questions here if you need to. (That goes for everyone else, too, of course!)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 16, 2012, 6:25 pm

Oh, Chapter XVI just makes me smile from beginning to end - it's such a funny and affectionate piece of character study.

I love Mr Harding's furtive escape, and the silent conspiracy between him and Eleanor, and his terror of the archdeacon. But most of all, I love the double layer in the description of how Mr Harding spends his day:

He was rather daunted by the huge quantity of fish which he saw in the window. There were barrels of oysters, hecatombs of lobsters, a few tremendous-looking crabs, and a tub full of pickled salmon; not, however, being aware of any connection between shellfish and iniquity, he entered, and modestly asked a slatternly woman, who was picking oysters out of a great watery reservoir, whether he could have a mutton chop and a potato. The woman looked somewhat surprised, but answered in the affirmative...

Mr Harding may not have been aware of any connection between shellfish and iniquity, but many of Trollope's readers would have been: Mr Harding has accidentally stumbled into one of the most disreputable corners of London. Supper-houses like this catered to the post-theatre and music hall crowd and usually operated from about ten at night until four in the morning. They were frequented by dissolute young men and were a prime hunting ground for prostitutes. No wonder the woman looks "somewhat surprised" when a clergyman wanders in! Mr Harding, of course, is no more than vaguely aware that something's wrong.

And this:

There were quantities of books, and long rows of sofas. What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?


Muokkaaja: elokuu 16, 2012, 6:52 pm

And from this comedy of Chapter XVI, we go to the poignancy of Chapter XVII, where Mr Harding and Sir Abraham find out that they speak different languages:

   "Did you see those articles in the Jupiter?" said Mr Harding piteously, appealing to the sympathy of the lawyer.
   Sir Abraham said he had seen them. This poor little clergyman, cowed into such an act of extreme weakness by a newspaper article, was to Sir Abraham so contemptible an object, that he hardly knew how to talk to him as a rational being.

   "But if this income be not justly mine, what if she and I have both to beg?" said the warden at last, sharply, and in a voice so different from that he had hitherto used, that Sir Abraham was startled. "If so, it would be better to beg."
   "My dear sir, nobody now questions its justness."
   "Yes, Sir Abraham, one does question it - the most important of all witnesses against me - I question it myself."

We see throughout The Warden something that was very common in 19th century literature: a belief that if you needed a lawyer, you must have done something wrong, and that "the law" had very little to do with "the right". In Bleak House, for example, Sergeant George is charged with murder and won't have a lawyer because he views it as an admission of guilt. We find the same situation nearly twenty years later, in Trollope's Phineas Redux, where the title character is also charged with murder. His friends finally persuade him to accept legal counsel, but he comes away from the experience feeling soiled and dishonoured.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 16, 2012, 9:03 pm

And---this, in Chapter XVIII:

   "Papa," she said, "it would be madness in you to throw up your preferment. What are you to live on?"
   "God, that feeds the young ravens, will take care of me also," said Mr Harding, with a smile, as though afraid of giving offence by making his reference to scripture too solemn.
   "Pish!" said the archdeacon.

elokuu 16, 2012, 10:52 pm

I'm off to bed, but I thought I'd drop in to say that I finished this afternoon, very happily. I'll come back tomorrow to try to say a word or two about chapter XV and anything else that occurs to me - always supposing that something will.
My thanks for clearing up the Beverly/? business. I had scanned your notes, but since you didn't mention the characters' names, I didn't apply them. Of course, his reading of Eleanor is spot on.
Meanwhile, many thanks, Liz and Heather and Genny, for letting me read with you!

elokuu 17, 2012, 10:43 am

I also finished last night. I really enjoyed my first Trollope. Great characterization, great humor. I appreciate the read-along. It added so much to the reading. Thanks for letting me lurk!

elokuu 17, 2012, 5:36 pm

Thank you both for joining in, and I'm very glad you enjoyed it! That's good to hear.

The Warden does pose some difficulties for the modern reader, particularly in terms of its content, but also because most people come to it not as a work in its own right, but because it is "the first book in the Chronicles of Barset" - and with their expectations adjusted accordingly - which is an awful lot weight for a little book to bear. It always needs to be remembered that this wasn't "the first book in the Chronicles of Barset" when it was written, just a short, standalone, semi-humorous take on a topical subject.

elokuu 18, 2012, 1:23 pm

I'll curtsy and say thanks again. You were all very helpful, and I look forward to Barset 2 at some point this fall....
About his take on Dickens, I can't disagree with anything that he says. CD was writing for the masses, or for the reading masses. He was sentimental. He did likely do more to influence popular opinion than any number of serious thinkers of the day. His secondary characters are better than his main ones, and his 2-or-3 sentences characters are possibly better yet. AT doesn't address, and probably couldn't, what for me is CD's great strength, and that is the effortless flow and beauty of his writing when he's not trying - or at least, that's how it seems to me in passages that I like best. For turn of phrase and creative energy, I still find him at the apex of writers of English prose. That's my taste, and I'm sticking to it!
(Liz, we have a basic disagreement here: "having impossibly good and virtuous characters in situations that could not possibly spawn them - again, to him it's a lack of realism." Time and time again, but not hundreds of times, I've seen kids from amazingly horrible life situations who have some sort of divine spark or the right help at the right time, and who emerge as complete human beings - kind, generous, useful, all that is good. I don't have trouble believing Lizzie Hexam at all, for instance, although a Prudence Riderhood is much more likely.)
As to Carlyle, I did read The French Revolution all the way through in various stages of consciousness. Trollope recalled the style perfectly or horrifyingly ...... I did think that if I read "sea green incorruptible" (Carlyle's famous description of Robespierre, which I thought was a mistranslation of something he had read when doing his research, but now I can't find that idea online) one more time, I was going to commit bookicide.
My copy has an afterward by Geoffrey Tillotson, which I didn't especially appreciate. He made much of the Biblical admonition that Christians should be innocent as doves and wise as serpents. His interpretation is that Harding's efforts to get his business done without interference from Grantly is an example of the the sneakiness that exemplifies this command. That left me with a bad taste in my mouth as cheapening both the thought and Harding.
(I need to read Sheridan!)

elokuu 18, 2012, 2:14 pm

Now I can't remember the comments I had in mind of course. Shucks.

Ah yes: I think it was something to do with how annoying I find holier than thou characters like our good Warden who can't leave well enough alone and must put himself through difficulties just to prove what a good person he is. I was going to say this was typical of 19th century characters, but I've just now remembered that in fact, I know people very close to me in RL who have been known to act this way, as have I in some instances, chosen difficulties over the more comfortable options just because "I couldn't live with myself otherwise". Pshaw!

I was however then immensely satisfied with how Trollope chose to end the story, with those bedesmen who'd rattled the cage realizing what a mess they'd made of things and as a result losing their extra little income as well as a good friend who was always there for them. Serves them right! Though I'm not sure I like the underlying message which to me sounds something like "you should be satisfied with your lot in life, no matter how humble your circumstances, because things could be much worse."

I'm a little bit ashamed to say I had not at all picked up on the fact that Mr Sentiment was meant to represent Dickens. Now I feel like I need to read that whole chapter again, because I've confused Mr Anticant and Mr Sentiment in my memory. Was Mr Anticant meant to represent a well known writer as well?

Liz, you said "It's interesting (and a little sad, I guess) that people these days seem to just pass over "Mr Anticant"...but everyone has an opinion on Mr Sentiment. "

Care to explain?

Muokkaaja: elokuu 18, 2012, 6:01 pm

Thanks for adding your comments, both of you.

Ilana, in answer to your last point, "Anticant" is Thomas Carlyle - there is some information about him in #73. What I meant was that when The Warden was written, Carlyle and Dickens would have been equally well-known to Trollope's readers, but today, while Dickens maintains his fame and reputation and is still widely read (so that most people can form an opinion of what Trollope says about him), Carlyle has fallen so far out of general fashion that Trollope's parody doesn't convey anything to us.

(I should possibly mention for the benefit of the newcomers that Trollope's Carlyle / Dickens passages are quite anomalous: he never did anything like that again in any of his writings, though he did eventually comment upon other novelists in a serious sense in his autobiography.)

There is a measure of "be satisfied with what you have" in this novel, I would agree, which was a very 19th century attitude (particularly when applied by the not-poor to the poor); but I would say there's a bigger dose of "look before you leap".

As a novelist, Trollope specialises in shades of grey: even his good and right characters and not always good or right; while later in his career he has some extraordinary portraits of "bad" characters, in which he suddenly turns around and shows us the complicated inner workings of a mind and all the different forces at work on it, and changes our entire perception. At this point he's still learning his craft, but his reaction to Dickens' main characters tends to show us which way that craft will develop.

Here we have an early work which takes the simpler route of - "Here's a situation: how do different people react to it?" No-one is completely right and no-one is completely wrong. It's about where individuals draw a line in the sand - and how one person's "right" is another person's "Pshaw!" :)

Muokkaaja: elokuu 21, 2012, 2:38 am

#86 Ah - I hadn't realised that supper-houses like that were considered so disreputable.

"There were quantities of books, and long rows of sofas. What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?


Amen indeed!

#89 & 90 Hooray - so glad you enjoyed it! It's been lovely having lurkers :-)

#91 "It always needs to be remembered that this wasn't "the first book in the Chronicles of Barset" when it was written" Mmm, that's a good point.

#92 "I was going to commit bookicide." Yikes!

I'm afraid I can't add any helpful thoughts on the snakes and the doves either as I've always found that passage quite confusing anyway.

"(I need to read Sheridan!)" (Me too)

#93 Ilana, I also found the underlying message to the bedesmen a bit unsettling - I think it's one of the 19th century attitudes I struggle with.

#92 - 94 Thank you Peggy and Ilana for adding your comments and Liz for responding and adding insights.

So, who's up for Barchester Towers? :-)

elokuu 20, 2012, 6:25 pm

So, who's up for Barchester Towers? :-)

Me! Me! Me!

elokuu 20, 2012, 9:52 pm

Me! I have it. Ready.

elokuu 20, 2012, 10:37 pm

I have it too, but right this minute???

elokuu 20, 2012, 10:52 pm

It's about where individuals draw a line in the sand - and how one person's "right" is another person's "Pshaw!" :)

I liked that! :-)

Heather, I'm up for Barchester Towers after countless visitors on my thread gave it a ringing endorsement. But I'm with Peggy... maybe not quite right now??

elokuu 21, 2012, 4:15 am

#96-99 No, not straight away. I think Liz might have other tutored reads lined up and I need to check whether people were still interested in a group read/tutored read of A Tale of Two Cities this autumn. Maybe December?

elokuu 21, 2012, 11:29 am

I'm looking forward to following along a tutored read of Barchester Towers whenever you decide on. I'd love to read it again, but that would be for the third time and I really must get round to reading the Palliser series for the first time, so for me that ought to be the priority.

elokuu 21, 2012, 4:26 pm

Ah, I meant to ask about A Tale Of Two Cities! I'm happy to pick up Barchester Towers any time, just let me know what suits.

I will be tutoring Madeline in Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk from early September - lurkers welcome!

elokuu 21, 2012, 6:44 pm

I'm only on chapter eight but I'm following your thread and find it absolutely vital Liz. I read a chapter or two then check to see what you said about it. Oh and yeah...I'm loving this book.

elokuu 21, 2012, 7:05 pm

>103 brenzi:: that's exactly what I'm planning to do Bonnie, when I start The Warden next month. Glad to hear you're loving it, that's always a good sign for me!

Muokkaaja: elokuu 21, 2012, 7:07 pm

That's great to hear, Bonnie! I hope you and Laura will continue to add any other questions you might have to this thread.

elokuu 21, 2012, 8:05 pm

I didn't mean to stress anyone out, LOL. Sorry Peggy!

I meant, I have Barchester Towers and would love to participate in a tutored/group read anytime. :)

elokuu 21, 2012, 8:09 pm

Jenn, with a grin, I think that December or so would be perfect! Or even earlier --- just not immediately!

elokuu 22, 2012, 4:39 pm

#102 I will definitely be lurking - I can't wait to see what Madeline makes of The Monk!

#103 Yay - glad you're enjoying it and finding the thread helpful Bonnie!

#106 & 107 Shall we pencil in December then if Liz agrees?

elokuu 22, 2012, 6:22 pm

You're going to make me wait until December!? You'd better fill in that time with A Tale Of Two Cities!!

I can't wait to see what Madeline makes of The Monk!

I'm a little apprehensive about that myself... :)

elokuu 23, 2012, 12:35 am

I'm a little apprehensive about that myself


elokuu 23, 2012, 12:37 am

...or to put it another way, all care taken, no responsibility accepted...

elokuu 23, 2012, 12:57 am

Well I just finished the book and I think I have found a new author to explore so I will be happy to join in on the Barchester Towers read in December.

In comparing AT and CD I have found one thing I like about AT...the length of his book compared to Dickens' door stoppers; or is this book an anomaly, Liz? I realize that Dickens was writing his books for serialization and should I assume that Trollope did not go this route? I just checked BT and it appears to be twice as long as The Warden but even at that, it's still relatively short in comparison to Dickens' books.

elokuu 23, 2012, 1:26 am

It became an anomaly, we might say. Trollope's novels vary in length quite a lot; some of them are the kind of tomes we tend to associate with 19th century literature, and some of them were indeed written for serialisation. However, he also continued to produce shorter, leaner works (sometimes when experimenting with the subject matter), which was unusual for a popular writer of his time.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 30, 2012, 9:35 pm

Well, I've also finally finished... Bit behind the rest of you, I'm afraid :)
I did enjoy the book and thought the tutoring very helpful, so if there are plans to do the rest of the Barchester series, I'd love to join in. And I also still have A Tale of Two Cities on my list, so I'd also be happy if there was a tutored or group read for that.

As for the book, I did feel very sorry for the warden, I mean, I think he really is trying to be a good person and to do what's right, he even gives his bedesmen some extra money, and it seems like everybody is against him. I'm glad he does have a good life afterwards and is happy with his new position...
As for the bedesmen, I do agree it's making a point of 'being happy with what you've got', and thinking about your actions before you do anything. In a way, it's saying that if you get too greedy and ask for too much, you'll end up with nothing... But aside from that, I thought it was really also a comment on how more wealthy, succesful people might 'abuse' the poor. Bold is really wanting to do good and make the world a better place, but it seems like the attorney who gets the signatures from the bedesmen and promises them 100 pounds a year (I forget his name) is really only out to get an important case that will get his name in the papers, and doesn't care at all about the bedesmen themselves. I feel like he is only using them, telling them about the 100 pounds a year, when it doesn't seem like there's any real reason to expect they will receive that kind of money. The bedesmen don't doubt his word simply because he's more educated than they are, and go along with him. And in the end, it's the bedesmen that suffer the consequences...

syyskuu 21, 2012, 9:29 pm

I read The Warden this week and enjoyed it sooo much! This thread was tremendously valuable, especially in the early chapters. I loved being able to come here and get all the churchy background.

I'm definitely up for Barchester Towers next.

syyskuu 23, 2012, 7:49 pm

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Laura, and very much looking forward to having you join us for Barchester Towers.

lokakuu 18, 2012, 7:43 am

Just a note to say that Liz and I have rejigged our schedules and will be doing the tutored read of Barchester Towers slightly earlier than originally planned in November. Liz or I will post a link to the new thread when it's set up at the end of this month. Hopefully that works for most of the people who were interested in reading along?

lokakuu 18, 2012, 11:01 am

Great! I'll try to actually read it at the same time this time around instead of lagging behind :/

lokakuu 18, 2012, 11:27 am

>117 souloftherose:: good to know! I would love to join in ... thanks.

lokakuu 18, 2012, 1:35 pm

I just read it last month, but will peek in and follow the thread.

lokakuu 18, 2012, 1:46 pm

I'll be peeking in too. Have fun!

lokakuu 18, 2012, 3:37 pm

I've just downloaded a free Kindle edition so I can take it with me on holiday in November and join in the read (a re-read for me).

maaliskuu 18, 2014, 9:33 am

Liz, Thank you, again, for pointing me to this thread. It has been most helpful in my understanding of the church terminology and hierarchy. I am almost finished with the book, and loving it.

maaliskuu 19, 2014, 1:09 am

I'm very glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Colleen - and that you accessed this thread - welcome! :)

joulukuu 31, 2015, 3:57 pm

Adding a post so this will show up on my Talk. I've just started The Warden and look forward to this thread.

joulukuu 31, 2015, 4:05 pm

>125 rebeccanyc: these tutored read threads are a great resource, Rebecca. Enjoy!

joulukuu 31, 2015, 4:07 pm

So glad you bumped this thread, Rebecca, because it both reminds me how much I appreciated this thread while I was reading The Warden (long after the group read finished) and that I need to get back to Trollope and finish the Barsetshire series.

tammikuu 1, 2016, 3:51 pm

I'm so pleased that people are still finding these threads useful! I'll be interested to hear what you think of The Warden, Rebecca.

tammikuu 1, 2016, 6:10 pm

Thanks for this thread, Liz, and so far I'm finding it harder to get into than the Palliser series, which I loved.

tammikuu 29, 2017, 10:04 pm

Just finished The Warden Liz. What a great resource this thread was. I loved the link to your blog explaining the High Church and the Low Church because it was not what I thought it was. Glad to have that cleared up.