Group read: Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope

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Group read: Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope

Déc 3, 2021, 5:24pm

Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope (1863)

    "Must I lose him?"
    "She says so. She says that he doesn't mean it, and that it's all nonsense."
    "I don't believe her. Nothing shall make me believe that, mamma."
    "She says it would be ruinous to all his prospects, especially just now when he has quarrelled about this brewery."
    "Ruinous to him!"
    "His mother says so."
    "I will never wish him to do anything that shall be ruinous to himself; never;---not though I were broken-hearted, as you call it."
    "Ah, that is it, Rachel, my darling; I wish he had not come here."
    Rachel went away across the room and looked out of the window upon the green. There she stood in silence for a few minutes while her mother was wiping her eyes and suppressing her sobs. Tears also had run down Rachel's cheeks; but they were silent tears, few in number and very salt. "I cannot bring myself to wish that yet," said she.

Modifié : Déc 3, 2021, 5:54pm

Welcome to the group read of Anthony Trollope's Rachel Ray!

This was a far more successful novel than its predecessor, The Struggles Of Brown, Jones And Robinson, and a contrast to that in almost every way: a female-focused, country-town set novel intended for the most part seriously (though not without a certain humour); though the two do have one thing in common, as we shall see.

Rachel Ray was originally commissioned for serialisation in Good Words, a serious, often religiously-focused magazine edited by Norman MacLeod. However, the serialisation did not happen: at the time of the intended publication, Good Words - a Scottish-Protestant enterprise - was under attack by the Record, a Calvinist / Evangelical publication which accused MacLeod, in effect, of irreligion and promoting "ungodly sentiments"---this in the face of the declared manifesto of good Words, that "the devout must be able to read it on Sundays without sin".

Exactly how conservative were the views of the Record may perhaps best be judged by the fact that in its attack upon Good Words, it accused Anthony Trollope of writing "sensation fiction": ironic - and rather amusing - given Trollope's own disapproval of that form of writing.

In light of this, MacLeod took the precaution of reading the proofs of Rachel Ray---and rejected it for publication on the grounds that its unflattering portrait of its Evangelical characters and, to an extent, its Low Church clergyman would be offensive to some of the magazine's readers (and perhaps more to the point, provide further grounds for attack by the Record).

Trollope subsequently sold the novel rights to Rachel Ray to Chapman & Hall; though he insisted upon being paid the £500 loss he would otherwise have suffered as a result of the non-serialisation. However, neither this nor the rejection interfered with the professional or personal relationships between Trollope and MacLeod; they remained friendly, and Trollope continued to write for Good Words once the Record controversy had died down.

Rachel Ray subsequently appeared in a two-volume edition, late in 1863. It was popular and on the whole well-received; although (its one point of comparison with B., J. & R.) it was subjected to some snobbish criticism because its characters are predominantly tradespeople and those on the fringe of the lower middle-class. Its anti-Evangelical views, on the other hand, attracted no mainstream criticism (and nor did one other potentially objectionable touch, which we will discuss in due course).

Modifié : Déc 3, 2021, 6:04pm

Rachel Ray has remained in print since its initial appearance, and is readily available both in print and as an ebook, including a free version through Project Gutenberg.

In spite of its two volumes, Rachel Ray is not a long novel, only thirty chapters; however, different editions begin numbering the chapters again in the second volume, and we must remember to note this as we go ahead.

This is not a complex novel, but rather one full of character observation (and a rather devastating portrait of the pains of small-town life).

I would suggest a reading pace of two chapters per day. I will allow the weekend for everyone to check in and get organised, and we can start formally on Monday.


As for the group read itself, the usual guidelines apply:

1. Whenever commenting, always start by listing the chapter to which you are referring in bold.

2. Be mindful of others: use spoiler tags if you have read the book before, or get ahead of other readers.

3. If your edition has an introduction, or end- or footnotes, please don't read them before you read the book! (Though that said, Rachel Ray is less spoil-able than some of Trollope's other works).

4. If you have a question, a comment or just a thought, please post it! The more contributions we get, the better and more rewarding this group read will be.

Modifié : Déc 20, 2021, 8:19pm

Cast of characters:

Mrs Ray - a widow
Mrs Dorothea Prime - her widowed elder daughter
Rachel Ray - her younger daughter

Mr Tappitt - a brewer
Mrs Tappitt - his wife
Miss Martha Tappitt
Miss Augusta Tappitt
Miss Cherry Tappitt

Luke Rowan - a connection of the Tappitts
Mrs Rowan - his mother
Mary Rowan - his sister

The Reverend Charles Comfort - a Low Church clergyman
Mrs (Patty) Cornbury - his daughter
Mr Butler Cornbury - her husband
Walter Cornbury - Butler Cornbury's cousin

Mr Samuel Prong - an Evangelical minister
Dr Harford - a clergyman

Miss Pucker - a friend of Mrs Prime

Mr Honeyman - a lawyer

Mr Griggs - a young local man; a wine merchant

Mr Hart - the Liberal candidate for Baslehurst

Baslehurst - a town in Devon
Cawston - a village near Baslehurst
Bragg's End - a rural area between Baslehurst and Cawston

Déc 3, 2021, 6:05pm

Please check in and let us know if you will be participating (or just lurking). :)

Déc 3, 2021, 8:16pm

I'm in!

Déc 3, 2021, 8:29pm

Me too.

Modifié : Déc 3, 2021, 8:37pm

>6 kac522: I should mention that I have the Oxford World's Classics edition from 2008, which is based on the first edition (1863) of Chapman & Hall. The chapters are numbered I through XXX.

Déc 3, 2021, 8:54pm

I'm in. My copy is an old Oxford edition, one of the cute little blue books. I'm guessing the chapters will be numbered I through XXX, but when I pull it off the shelf this weekend I'll confirm.

Déc 3, 2021, 10:06pm

I'm in! I have a free Kindle version.

Déc 4, 2021, 6:44am

I will participate! I've downloaded the book to my kindle and I check out how the chapters are laid out this weekend. I should be ready to start on Monday.

Déc 4, 2021, 11:04am

I've got an ebook and will read along.

Déc 4, 2021, 5:14pm

Hi, Kathy, Jean, Ninie, Carrie, Jennifer and Kerry---wonderful to see you all here! :)

Modifié : Déc 5, 2021, 3:24pm

I thought some of you might find this useful.

Rachel Ray is set in Devon, in the southwest of England. Baslehurst and Cawston are fictional, but there are hints in the text of their intended location. Exeter is the nearest city, accessible by rail (and close enough to be visited in a day-trip); while later in the novel there is mention of Torquay as a suitable place in which to retire.

Modifié : Déc 5, 2021, 3:45pm

Rachel Ray is often called a "deceptive" novel, sometimes "deceptively simple", and to an extent I think that is correct.

This is one of those novels in which "not much happens", however that "not much" is subjected to close observation and even dissection.

This is true socially as well as personally. This is an unusual novel for its time (and as I said above, was criticised for it by some snobbish critics), in that it deals with people situated on the thin grey line between the lower middle class and those in trade.

The social gradations in Baslehurst and Cawston are minutely sketched by Trollope, and we see that - at least at this end of society - money was beginning to take precedence over birth.

The late Mr Ray was a lawyer, and therefore a gentleman; but poverty has banished Mrs Ray and her daughters to a tiny country cottage not even within the bounds of Baslehurst. Their situation places them "below" even the Tappitts from the brewery who, if lacking a certain refinement, are comfortably well off in the financial sense. The Rays are considered "beneath the touch" of the Cornburys, who are the local squires: a detail that becomes important in the narrative.

Tacitly, at least, one of the most important questions that this novel asks is---is Rachel Ray (in the social sense) a lady?

Déc 5, 2021, 3:56pm

One other point before we start, because it's important in understanding how this novel was intended, and how people reacted to it at the time.

In one respect Rachel Ray is a simple novel about a girl falling in love. It is the framework of that natural event that caught people's attention at the time.

Trollope makes the simplicity and narrowness of Rachel's life quite clear. She has been raised away from the usual influences, she does not socialise or go out (a walk after dinner is her greatest luxury, and even that gets criticised), she's never been to a party---and she explicitly doesn't read novels.

So she hasn't been "taught" how to respond to a young man's courtship; she just responds

Some people have gone so far as to call this the story of Rachel's sexual awakening; and while that may seem absurd from one perspective, that's very much how critics and readers viewed it at the time---even to the point of being a little shocked.

From our perspective, it is important that we pay attention to the way in which Trollope conveys Rachel's physical as well as emotional reaction to being courted, particularly when she finally does get to attend her first party.

Because those shocked critics and readers were quite right... :D

Modifié : Déc 5, 2021, 4:37pm

>14 lyzard: My edition indicates that the first half of Trollope's original manuscript has the town called Kingsbridge, before being changed to Baslehurst. Kingsbridge is a real town, just north of Salcombe on this map.

Déc 6, 2021, 5:06am

Found you! I have the 2008 Oxford World Classics edition and will start this evening. Thanks for the introduction and the map!

Modifié : Déc 6, 2021, 3:24pm

>17 kac522:

Thanks for that, Kathy. It's clear from the narrative that Baslehurst is well away from the coast; I should think we're somewhere between Crediton and the edge of Dartmoor.

>18 MissWatson:

Welcome, Birgit!

Modifié : Déc 6, 2021, 3:41pm

In Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Rachel Ray, Trollope delineates the quiet and terribly narrow lives of Mrs Ray and her two daughters:

Chapter 1

It was a pretty place, with one small sitting-room opening back upon the little garden, and with another somewhat larger fronting towards the road and the green. In the front room Mrs Ray lived, looking out upon so much of the world as Bragg's End green afforded to her view. The other seemed to be kept with some faint expectation of company that never came...

It is striking how much suffering and struggle are casually revealed here: both Mrs Ray and Mrs Prime are widows, the latter within a year of her marriage; while Mrs Ray has lost at least two children.

What we need to take away, however, is the very different ways that the two widows respond to their losses, which is one of the points of the novel.

Mrs Ray is presented to us as well-meaning and kind, but vacillating and easily influenced---influenced by whoever has last been in her ear, with (at least at this point) very little capacity to think and act for herself.

She has been dominated in recent years by the stern Dorothea; but while Trollope puts the coming upheavals in the Rays' lives down to an imminent rebellion on the part of Rachel, it is clear how this will have its effect upon Mrs Ray too.

Chiefly, though, we need to note that in spite of everything, Mrs Ray has retained her capacity for simple happiness and enjoyment---when she's given the chance:

Chapter 1

No word had been said on a subject so wicked and full of vanity, but Mrs Ray knew that her evening meal would be brought in at half-past five in the shape of a little feast,---a feast which would not be spread if Mrs Prime had remained at home. At five o'clock Rachel would slip away and make hot toast, and would run over the Green to Farmer Sturt's wife for a little thick cream, and there would be a batter cake, and so there would be a feast. Rachel was excellent at the preparation of such banquets, knowing how to coax the teapot into a good drawing humour, and being very clever in little comforts; and she would hover about her mother, in a way very delightful to that lady, making the widow feel for the time that there was a gleam of sunshine in the valley of tribulation.

Déc 6, 2021, 4:07pm

The other striking thing about Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 is the reiteration of words like wickedness and sin.

This is fascinating coming in the wake of our reading of Salem Chapel: there we were given an inside view of a Dissenting community; here we have a High Church author's view of Low Church / Evangelical life.

Anyone who has read any Trollope will know his fondness for the phrase "good things". It was the High Church view that the good things of life had been put on Earth by God to be enjoyed, and that there was nothing wrong with that as long as it was in moderation.

The Low Church / Evangelical view was that the same "good things" were worldly and even sinful, a lure from religious duty. We saw in Salem Chapel the very mild pleasures that were permissible, and that there was a rejection of most forms of leisure including play-going and novel-reading, for example.

It was not uncommonly contended by High Church people that Low Church / Evangelical people not only enjoyed being miserable, but liked to make everyone else as miserable as themselves.

We see this in Trollope's characterisation of Dorothea Prime, for whom happiness is a sin.

As he says, there no hypocrisy about it; but Dorothea has reacted to her widowhood by banishing from her life anything that might give to it the faintest touch of earthly happiness---and she is determined to force the same barren, joyless existence upon her mother and sister.

No hypocrisy, no: but on the other hand it is clear that Dorothea does enjoy (perhaps not consciously) the sense of being in power; and we see this too in her running of the Dorcas Society, and will again later in another way, when she reaches a crisis in her life.

Against this Trollope places Rachel, who is in every way a healthy-minded girl with a normal capacity for happiness---and love. The collision is inevitable, and only needs a trigger...

Déc 6, 2021, 4:11pm

One more point that I think needs to be made:

It is a weakness in Trollope's writing that he tends to make his Evangelical people physically unattractive.

We saw this with Mr Slope in Barchester Towers. We see it here with Miss Pucker and her squint, and later we will meet Mr Prong, the minister, who is also described in very unflattering terms.

Dorothea Prime deliberately making herself old before her time is one thing: that is psychologically believable; but these other pot-shots are cheap and nasty.

Déc 6, 2021, 4:20pm

But we're here to discuss Rachel's great sin:

Chapter 1

Then Dorothea had seized up her huge basket angrily, and had trudged off into Baslehurst at a quick pace,---at a pace much too quick when the summer's heat is considered;—and as she went, unhappy thoughts filled her mind. A coloured dress belonging to Rachel herself had met her eye, and she had heard tidings of---a young man!

Both Mrs Ray and Dorothea seem to have forgotten that they both got themselves married, and how they went about it! (It's hard at this point to imagine Dorothea being courted.)

Presumably both the late Mr Ray and the late Mr Prime were sufficiently "churchy" to remove any hint of sinfulness from the business.

"The young man from the brewery" is another matter altogether.

Rachel Ray is very much about the family's exaggerated response to this very normal situation, and the reasons for that response.

What we need to keep in mind going forward is that Luke Rowan is literally the first young man that Rachel has ever has any significant contact with---the strangeness and newness of the situation leading to an almost painfully heightened awareness on her part of each detail of their interaction.

Modifié : Déc 7, 2021, 4:24pm

Chapter 2 ends with the revelation that, in spite of Rachel's earlier declaration---

    "No, mother, she is not with the Miss Tappitts:" and her voice, as she said these words, was dreadful to the mother's ears.
    "Isn't she? I thought she was. Do you know where she is?"
    "Who is to say where she is? Half an hour since I saw her alone with---"
    "With whom? Not with that young man from the brewery, for he is at Exeter."
    "Mother, he is here,---in Baslehurst! Half an hour since he and Rachel were standing alone together beneath the elms in the churchyard. I saw them with my own eyes."

Chapter 3 then naturally goes back to tell us how such a shocking state of affairs, plus Rachel's apparent fib, could have arisen.

First, however, it clarifies Luke Rowan's background and situation, which is important in understanding the reaction of his relatives, his mother in particular, to his interest in Rachel.

We should be clear about his relationship with the Tappitts. Although the Miss Tappitts are referred to subsequently as his cousins, the connection is much more distant---one of marriage only. Mr Tappitt was the nephew of the late Mr Bungall, and Luke is the great-nephew of the late Mrs Bungall.

This is important because, as becomes evident, in spite of his involvement in the brewery Luke is of a higher social standing than the Tappitts. Note this detail---

Luke Rowan at the time was articled to a lawyer in London...

---remembering that the late Mr Ray was a solicitor.

Articled, however, indicates that Luke or his family have some money of their own; enough, in fact, for Luke to be able to abandon his law studies when something more congenial comes along.

This point is confirmed in the dispute between Mr and Mrs Tappitt over Luke's desirability as a partner in the brewery. Though Mr Tappitt takes offence at Luke's somewhat domineering ways, Mrs Tappitt has her eyes on the prize---

He was a well-grown, good-looking young man for whom his friends had made comfortable provision, and Mrs Tappitt had three marriageable daughters.

All in all then, and despite some potentially objectionable points in his character, Luke Rowan is a catch.

Modifié : Déc 7, 2021, 4:29pm

Further clarification:

Chapter 3

    When she was informed about a fortnight after Rowan's arrival in Baslehurst that Rachel Ray had been walking with the party from the brewery, she could not prevent herself from saying an ill-natured word or two. "Rachel Ray is all very well," she said, "but she is not the person whom you should show off to a stranger as your particular friend."
    "Why not, mamma?" said Cherry.
    "Why not, my dear! There are reasons why not. Mrs Ray is very well in her way, but---"
    "Her husband was a gentleman," said Martha, "and a great friend of Mr Comfort's."
    "My dear, I have nothing to say against her," said the mother, "only this; that she does not go among the people we know. There is Mrs Prime, the other daughter; her great friend is Miss Pucker. I don't suppose you want to be very intimate with Miss Pucker." The brewer's wife had a position in Baslehurst and wished that her daughters should maintain it.

(Although there is a note of Trollope's own here: he is implying that the further you go in the Evangelical direction, the less you are dealing with "ladies" and "gentlemen". That was true enough socially, but he is speaking from his own High Church snobbery in suggesting that Mrs Ray and Rachel are thus "tainted" by Dorothea and her associates.)

Déc 7, 2021, 5:22pm

>24 lyzard: He was a well-grown, good-looking young man for whom his friends had made comfortable provision, and Mrs Tappitt had three marriageable daughters.

Reminds me of Mrs Bennet....

Déc 7, 2021, 5:23pm

Of course the critical importance of Chapter 3 is Rachel's walk alone with Luke Rowan, and the interlude of the clouds:

"Look," said he, pointing to the west; "did you ever see such a setting sun as that? Did you ever see such blood-red colour?" The light was very wonderful, for the sun had just gone down and all the western heavens were crimson with its departing glory. In the few moments that they stood there gazing it might almost have been believed that some portentous miracle had happened, so deep and dark, and yet so bright, were the hues of the horizon. It seemed as though the lands below the hill were bathed in blood. The elm trees interrupted their view, so that they could only look out through the spaces between their trunks. "Come to the stile," said he. "If you were to live a thousand years you might never again see such a sunset as that. You would never forgive yourself if you missed it, just that you might save three minutes."


"Rachel," said he, after they had remained there in silence for a moment, "live as long as you may, never on God's earth will you look on any sight more lovely than that. Ah! do you see the man's arm, as it were; the deep purple cloud, like a huge hand stretched out from some other world to take you? Do you see it?"

This is important for two separate reasons, the second of which is the light it throws upon Luke Rowan's character. For much of the novel he will show himself as a rather hard-headed young businessman with a bit of a ruthless streak (personally as well as professionally); but this sudden revelation of his almost poetic appreciation of the natural world off-sets and softens that aspect of his nature.

But most important is Rachel's emotional response to this moment:

The sound of his voice was very pleasant. His words to her young ears seemed full of poetry and sweet mysterious romance. He spoke to her as no one,---no man or woman,---had ever spoken to her before. She had a feeling, as painful as it was delicious, that the man's words were sweet with a sweetness which she had known in her dreams.

We know enough already to understand how very narrow and unbeautiful much of her life is, but we learn here that she too has a similar depth of appreciation. She is already in a state of heightened awareness, full of guilty pleasure, and her reaction to the scene before her becomes inextricably tangled with her reaction to Luke:

She looked down into the flood of light beneath her, with a full consciousness that he was close to her, touching her; with a full consciousness that every moment that she lingered there was a new sin; with a full consciousness, too, that the beauty of those fading colours seen thus in his presence possessed a charm, a sense of soft delight, which she had never known before...


But he bade her look into the clouds for new worlds, and she seemed to feel that there was a hidden meaning in his words. As she looked out into the coming darkness, a mystery crept over her, a sense of something wonderful that was out there, away,---of something so full of mystery that she could not tell whether she was thinking of the hidden distances of the horizon, or of the distances of her own future life, which were still further off and more closely hidden. She found herself trembling, sighing, almost sobbing, and then she ran again. He had wrapped her in his influence, and filled her full of the magnetism of his own being...

Modifié : Déc 7, 2021, 5:25pm

Meanwhile there is Dorothea:

Chapter 3

Words of romance! Words direct from the Evil One, Mrs Prime would have called them! And in saying so she would have spoken the belief of many a good woman and many a good man. She herself was a good woman,---a sincere, honest, hardworking, self-denying woman; a woman who struggled hard to do her duty as she believed it had been taught to her... Words of romance, indeed! Must not all such words be words from the Father of Lies, seeing that they are words of falseness? Some such thoughts passed through her mind as she walked home, thinking of her sister's iniquity,---of her sister who must be saved, like a brand from the fire, but whose saving could now be effected only by the sternest of discipline...

And so the battle lines are drawn.

Déc 7, 2021, 5:28pm

>26 kac522:

Exactly the same situation, just at a different social stratum (and under less financial urgency). That particular reality hadn't yet changed, despite the intervening five decades.

Déc 7, 2021, 6:05pm

It's hard (for me anyway) to remember how circumscribed and dull women's lives were then. Not allowed to meet people without censure following them, and how little they are allowed for pleasure (at least the non-wealthy women). Even the wealthier women are cocooned, though. Even books being so proscribed.

Déc 7, 2021, 6:32pm

>30 majkia: I'm curious sometimes if this was really the case in real life? And how many women submitted to the rules? Not even being allowed to walk with a man seems extreme. As we've talked about with other books, it's so harsh for it to be frowned about to show any interest in a man or get to know him at all before you have to decide on marriage!

I've read the first two chapters and will get to chapters 3 and 4 tonight. I'm already very interested in the different female personalities we've been introduced to.

Modifié : Déc 8, 2021, 4:29pm

>30 majkia:, >31 japaul22:

It was true in the broader sense - certainly by our standards! - but varied very much according to social standing, income and geography.

The Rays are impacted by their poverty - which has dictated their isolated cottage - the lack of a man in the house, and their religion; or rather, Dorothea's religion. These things together have led to a state of extreme sensitivity and almost hysterical overreaction.

But it is important that we understand what is "real", that is, genuine social convention, and what is being imposed---by themselves, and by others---and where criticism is provoked by issues other than right or wrong; where other people have a vested interest.

Probably Cherry Tappitt is our best guide here: she's the only one involved who doesn't have an axe to grind (even if her mother thinks she should!), and to her it is clearly natural that Luke and Rachel want to walk together, and that there is nothing wrong in them doing so.

Déc 8, 2021, 8:36am

>25 lyzard: (Although there is a note of Trollope's own here: he is implying that the further you go in the Evangelical direction, the less you are dealing with "ladies" and "gentlemen". That was true enough socially, but he is speaking from his own High Church snobbery in suggesting that Mrs Ray and Rachel are thus "tainted" by Dorothea and her associates.)

I was planning to ask about this, so thanks for clarifying!

Modifié : Déc 8, 2021, 4:31pm

>33 japaul22:

To massively oversimplify a hugely complex situation, High Church people tended to be middle-class and up, in comfortable circumstances, and for them it was natural to enjoy God's bounty (Trollope's "good things"); whereas Evangelical people tended to be tradespeople and workers, and for them it was all vanity and wordliness and sin.

High Church people had a tendency to accuse the Evangelicals of hypocrisy, suggesting that they would take the good things fast enough if they could get them. The other accusation, as we have already mentioned, is that they were miserable people who wanted to make everyone else as miserable as themselves. There are touches of both in Rachel Ray.

(Noting that thirty years before this, Frances Trollope wrote an overt anti-Evangelical novel, The Vicar Of Wrexhill.)

In this novel we are in the greyer area of a country Low Church parish, with more social overlap and less clear-cut distinctions. This is the basis of the slightly jokey presentation of Mr Comfort and his total failure to practice what he preaches, and poor Mrs Ray's subsequent confusion.

Déc 8, 2021, 4:47pm

To bring things back to the immediate point, all this background contributes to the depth of Rachel's response to Luke and his clouds. She has grown up under Dorothea's grim rule and his words of "romance" and "poetry" are completely outside even her theoretical experience of life.

Modifié : Déc 8, 2021, 4:54pm

Of course you know this means war...

Chapter 4

    "If mother thinks it right," exclaimed Mrs Prime, "that you should be standing alone with a young man after nightfall in the churchyard, then I have done. In that case I will say no more. But I must tell her, and I must tell you also, that if it is to be so, I cannot remain at the cottage any longer."
    "Oh, Dorothea!" said Mrs Ray.
    "Indeed, mother, I cannot. If Rachel is not hindered from such meetings by her own sense of what is right, she must be hindered by the authority of those older than herself."
    "Hindered,---hindered from what?" said Rachel, who felt that her tears were coming, but struggled hard to retain them. "Mamma, I have done nothing that was wrong. Mamma, you will believe me, will you not?"
    Mrs Ray did not know what to say. She strove to believe both of them, though the words of one were directly at variance with the words of the other.
    "Do you mean to claim it as your right," said Mrs Prime, "to be standing out there alone at any hour of the night, with any young man that you please? If so, you cannot be my sister."
    "I do not want to be your sister if you think such hard things," said Rachel, whose tears now could no longer be restrained. Honi soit qui mal y pense. She did not, at the moment, remember the words to speak them, but they contain exactly the purport of her thought...

Déc 8, 2021, 5:05pm

We see Trollope's opinion of the Evangelicals in Dorothea's immediate and almost eager assumption of the worst:

Chapter 4

    "You cannot suppose that I want to make her out worse than she is. She is your child, and my sister; and we are bound together for weal or for woe."
    "You talked about going away and leaving us," said Mrs Ray, speaking in soreness rather than in anger.
    "So I did; and so I must, unless something be done. It could not be right that I should remain here, seeing such things, if my voice is not allowed to be heard. But though I did go, she would still be my sister. I should still share the sorrow,---and the shame."
    "Oh, Dorothea, do not say such words."
    "But they must be said, mother. Is it not from such meetings that shame comes,---shame, and sorrow, and sin? You love her dearly, and so do I; and are we therefore to allow her to be a castaway?"

But Dorothea's threat of leaving is a very two-edged sword. It is an admission that she herself has no authority over Rachel, which for one of her temperament is galling; while she must know (if she admits it to herself) that leaving Mrs Ray alone with Rachel will have the opposite effect from the one she desires. And indeed---

How could any mother refuse such a caress as that, or remain hard and stern against such signs of love? Mrs Ray, at any rate, was not possessed of strength to do so. She was vanquished, and put her arm round her girl and embraced her. She spoke soft words, and told Rachel that she was her dear, dear, dearest darling. She was still awed and dismayed by the tidings which she had heard of the young man; she still thought there was some terrible danger against which it behoved them all to be on their guard. But she no longer felt herself divided from her child, and had ceased to believe in the necessity of those terrible words which Mrs Prime had used.


The project of the party was also told to Mrs Ray, and Rachel, sitting now with her head upon her mother's lap, owned that she would like to go to it. "Parties are not always wicked, mamma," she said. To this assertion Mrs Ray expressed an undecided assent, but intimated her decided belief that very many parties were wicked. "There will be dancing, and I do not like that," said Mrs Ray. "Yet I was taught dancing at school," said Rachel. When the matter had gone so far as this it must be acknowledged that Rachel had done much towards securing her share of mastery over her mother...

Modifié : Déc 8, 2021, 10:06pm

Chapter 4 also introduces Mr Prong:

Mr Prong was an energetic, severe, hardworking, and, I fear, intolerant young man, who bestowed very much laudable care upon his sermons. The care and industry were laudable, but not so the pride with which he thought of them and their results. He spoke much of preaching the Gospel, and was sincere beyond all doubt in his desire to do so; but he allowed himself to be led away into a belief that his brethren in the ministry around him did not preach the Gospel,---that they were careless shepherds, or shepherds' dogs indifferent to the wolf, and in this way he had made himself unpopular among the clergy and gentry of the neighbourhood.


Rachel had, of course, stuck to her mother in this controversy, and had said some sharp things about Mr Prong. She declared that Mr Prong had been educated at Islington, and that sometimes he forgot his "h's."

Trollope is imbuing Rachel with his own class prejudice here. Whether High or Low Church, gentlemen went to Oxford; those who were not gentlemen went where they could, which in this case is the Church Missionary College which was established in Islington for the training of Evangelical ministers. As its name implies, the institution was chiefly intended for preparation for missionary work overseas but also provided general education in Latin, Greek and mathematics along with its divinity studies.

(Those of you with us for Salem Chapel will remember that Mr Vincent's substitute, Mr Beecher, also committed the heinous crime of dropping his h-s, even though he had attended the longer established and better respected Independent College at Homerton, like Vincent himself.)

Modifié : Déc 8, 2021, 10:08pm

And before we leave this very busy chapter, we should probably note Trollope's much more judicious and clear-eyed summation of his leading man:

Chapter 4

He was a young man, by no means of a bad sort, meaning to do well, with high hopes in life, one who had never wronged a woman, or been untrue to a friend, full of energy and hope and pride. But he was conceited, prone to sarcasm, sometimes cynical, and perhaps sometimes affected. It may be that he was not altogether devoid of that Byronic weakness which was so much more prevalent among young men twenty years since than it is now. His two trades had been those of an attorney and a brewer, and yet he dabbled in romance, and probably wrote poetry in his bedroom. Nevertheless, there were worse young men about Baslehurst than Luke Rowan.

Déc 8, 2021, 10:14pm

Meanwhile, this is a fairly realistic if selectively negative summation of the Rays' social situation:

Chapter 5

    "Rachel Ray is all very well, but considering all things I am not sure that she will quite do for Tuesday night. It's not quite in her line, I think."
    "But we have mentioned it to her already, mamma," said Martha.
    "Of course we did," said Cherry. "It would be the meanest thing in the world not to ask her now!"
    "I am not at all sure that Mrs Rowan would like it," said Mrs Tappitt.
    "And I don't think that Rachel is quite up to what Mary has been used to," said Augusta.
    "If she has half a mind to flirt with Luke already," said Mrs Tappitt, "I ought not to encourage it."
    "That is such nonsense, mamma," said Cherry. "If he likes her he'll find her somewhere if he doesn't find her here."
    "My dear, you shouldn't say that what I say is nonsense," said Mrs Tappitt.
    "But, mamma, when we have already asked her!---Besides, she is a lady," said Cherry.
    "I can't say that I think Mrs Butler Cornbury would wish to meet her," said Mrs Tappitt.

(Note that Rachel gets the blame for whatever flirting might have gone on; typical! Cherry knows better, of course.)

Déc 8, 2021, 10:36pm

Just so I'm clear . . . is Mr. Prong Church of England?

Modifié : Déc 9, 2021, 1:02am

>41 NinieB:

Yes, though Evangelicalism is considered "lower" than Low Church.

BTW the dig about Islington is implying that he's a Dissenter in disguise, which indicates how far away from mainstream Anglicanism he is perceived as being.


Here are a few quotes from the Wikipedia entry on 19th century Evangelical Anglicanism which might be helpful (in case I'm not being clear, which is entirely likely!):

- Evangelical Anglicans share with other evangelicals the attributes of "conversionism, activism, biblicism and crucicentrism".

- In contrast to the high-church party, evangelicals emphasise experiential religion of the heart over the importance of liturgical forms.

- Evangelicals stress the supremacy of scripture; the majesty of Jesus Christ; the lordship of the Holy Spirit; the necessity of conversion (either instantaneous or gradual) and a new birth.

The latter two are what separates them from the mainstream and allies them more closely with the Dissenters, though strictly they were still within the Church of England.

Déc 9, 2021, 3:39am

>39 lyzard: And what would the Byronic weakness be?

I am liking this very much, and of course those speaking names of Bungall and Tappitt make me smile.

Modifié : Déc 9, 2021, 5:21am

>43 MissWatson:

Good to hear!

The Byronic weakness would be looking upon himself as an outsider, a rebel, even a bandit; someone who doesn't adhere to the conventions of society. A romantic figure in theory, but the fact that Trollope adds that tag after telling us that Luke is "sometimes cynical, and perhaps sometimes affected" indicates that it's a pose, or even just in his own mind.

Déc 9, 2021, 9:53am

>44 lyzard: Thanks! The footnote for this refers to the introduction which I don't want to read until after I have finished the novel.
I'm also wondering about Mrs Prime's unusual first name: Dorothea. I've never encountered this in English except in Middlemarch. It's always Dorothy.

Modifié : Déc 9, 2021, 4:44pm

>45 MissWatson:

I think both variants were fairly common. Dorothea was the original Greek form, though, so perhaps a bit more "formal" or reflective of the level of education?

Trollope has an important Dorothy in He Knew He Was Right, which was published six years after Rachel Ray.

Déc 9, 2021, 5:12pm

After the dissection of the Rays quoted above, Chapter 5 deals with the arrival of Rachel's invitation to the Tappitts' party and the reactions of each member of the family.

What's striking here - and we must stop and acknowledge what a shock it must have been to Mrs Ray and Dorothea - is all the new shades to her character that Rachel suddenly exhibits, including an ability to argue rather shrewdly (even with a touch of sophistry) for what she wants, in spite of her proffered deference to her mother's opinion.

I particularly like her riposte to Mrs Ray's suggestion that dancing is wicked: why are girls taught dancing if they're not supposed to dance?

The other thing we might feel is that she has---if not quite the patience of a saint, admirably high tolerance under provocation:

    "Do you particularly want to go, my dear?" Mrs Ray said, after a pause.
    "Yes, mamma; I should like to go." Then Mrs Ray uttered a little sound which betokened uneasiness, and was again silent for a while.
    "I can't understand why you want to go to this place,---so particularly. You never used to care about such things. You know your sister won't like it, and I'm not at all sure that you ought to go."

Did she ever before have the chance to care about such things? And of course it's a very small step from there to here:

It would be necessary to tell everything; how Rachel had become suddenly an object of interest to Mr Luke Rowan, how Dorothea suspected terrible things, and how Rachel was anxious for the world's vanities.


The more she thought over it, the more sure she felt that Mr. Comfort would put an embargo upon the party. It seemed but yesterday that he had been telling her, with all his pulpit unction, that the pleasures of this world should never be allowed to creep near the heart.

But Mrs Ray has no concept of how significant a tactical blunder she has committed when she decides to place the matter before Mr Comfort for arbitration---supposing that his opinion will coincide with his pulpit persona, rather than his social persona.

Instead, Trollope offers up this rather devastating character portrait:

That he was sincere, too, no one who knew him well had ever doubted,---sincere, that is, as far as his intentions went. When he endeavoured to teach his flock that they should despise money, he thought that he despised it himself. When he told the little children that this world should be as nothing to them, he did not remember that he himself enjoyed keenly the good things of this world. If he had a fault it was perhaps this,---that he was a hard man at a bargain. He liked to have all his temporalities, and make them go as far as they could be stretched.

He's another of Trollope's humanly flawed clergymen, in other words---not quite on a level with the Archdeacon of Barchester Towers, but a Low Church variant.

The scene between Mr Comfort and Mrs Ray is wickedly funny, with the minister responding to the situation in entirely secular terms, much to his devoted parishioner's consternation:

    "The young man has got something, I suppose," said he.
    "Got something!" repeated Mrs Ray, not exactly catching his meaning.
    "He has some share in the brewery, hasn't he?"
    "I believe he has, or is to have. So Rachel told me."
    "Yes,---yes; I've heard of him before. If Tappitt doesn't take him into the concern he'll have to give him a very serious bit of money. There's no doubt about the young man having means. Well, Mrs Ray, I don't suppose Rachel could do better than take him."
    "Take him!"
    "Yes,---why not? Between you and me, Rachel is growing into a very handsome girl,---a very handsome girl indeed. I'd no idea she'd be so tall, and carry herself so well."
    "Oh, Mr Comfort, good looks are very dangerous for a young woman."
    "Well, yes; indeed they are. But still, you know, handsome girls very often do very well..."

Leaving us to to conclude that Mrs Ray is that rarest of rarae aves: a 19th century literary mother who is NOT thinking about how to get her daughter married!

And we must say this for Mr Comfort: it's about time someone stood up for Rachel!---

    "I don't like night walkings in churchyards, certainly, but I really think that was only an accident."
    "I'm sure Rachel didn't mean it."
    "I'm quite sure she didn't mean anything improper."

Déc 9, 2021, 5:15pm

And Rachel?

Chapter 5

Then she gave a long sigh, and a bright colour came over her face,---almost as though she were blushing. But she said no more at the moment, but allowed her mind to run off and revel in its own thoughts. She had indeed longed to go to this party, though she had taught herself to believe that she could bear being told that she was not to go without disappointment. "And now we must let Dorothea know," said Mrs Ray. "Yes,---we must let her know," said Rachel; but her mind was away, straying, I fear, under the churchyard elms with Luke Rowan, and looking at the arm amidst the clouds...

It was little moments like this that 19th century readers found rather shocking; the implications are clear enough.

Déc 9, 2021, 5:33pm

So, not shocked at the thoughts but at the acknowledgement of them?

Déc 9, 2021, 6:42pm

>49 majkia:

Yes, exactly. Trollope himself, though he has his heroines properly in love, usually doesn't get into that aspect of it. And really, I'm wondering if it was because Rachel is of a lower social class than his heroines usually are that he let himself do it here?

I was thinking of how, in Orley Farm, we discussed the fact that Mrs Furnival calls out her husband's bad behaviour, and threatens to leave him, and does briefly do so; and how a woman of the upper classes wouldn't get away with behaviour like that.

Déc 10, 2021, 4:56pm

Chapter 6 represents an opening up of the narrative, with several parallel plot-threads.

We have the Tappitts' preparations for their party ball; the arrival at the brewery of Mrs Rowan and Mary Rowan; the escalating tensions in the Ray family over Rachel's attendance; and finally the proper introduction of Mr Prong:

Mr Samuel Prong was a little man, over thirty, with scanty, light-brown hair, with a small, rather upturned nose, with eyes by no means deficient in light and expression, but with a mean mouth. His forehead was good, and had it not been for his mouth his face would have been expressive of intellect and of some firmness. But there was about his lips an assumption of character and dignity which his countenance and body generally failed to maintain; and there was a something in the carriage of his head and in the occasional projection of his chin, which was intended to add to his dignity, but which did, I think, only make the failure more palpable. He was a devout, good man; not self-indulgent; perhaps not more self-ambitious than it becomes a man to be; sincere, hard-working, sufficiently intelligent, true in most things to the instincts of his calling,---but deficient in one vital qualification for a clergyman of the Church of England; he was not a gentleman. May I not call it a necessary qualification for a clergyman of any church? He was not a gentleman.

It is perhaps worth remembering that the Nonconformist and Dissenting factions grew and expanded so enormously during the 19th century chiefly because the working-classes felt that there was no true place for them within the social hierarchy of the Established Church.

Modifié : Déc 10, 2021, 5:03pm

In Chapter 7 we discover that Mrs Butler Cornbury, aka Patty Comfort, is very much her father's daughter:

    "I'm delighted,---quite delighted," said Mrs Cornbury. "It's so good of you to come with me. Now that I don't dance myself, there's nothing I like so much as taking out girls that do."
    "And don't you dance at all?"
    "I stand up for a quadrille sometimes. When a woman has five children I don't think she ought to do more than that."
    "Oh, I shall not do more than that, Mrs Cornbury."
    "You mean to say you won't waltz?"
    "Mamma never said anything about it, but I'm sure she would not like it. Besides---"
    "I don't think I know how. I did learn once, when I was very little; but I've forgotten."
    "It will soon come again to you if you like to try. I was very fond of waltzing before I was married." And this was the daughter of Mr Comfort, the clergyman who preached with such strenuous eloquence against worldly vanities! Even Rachel was a little puzzled, and was almost afraid that her head was sinking beneath the waters.

Déc 10, 2021, 5:18pm

But of course the critical aspect of these two chapters dealing with the ball is Trollope's minute dissection of Rachel's experiences, behaviour and feelings.

We must keep in mind at all times that Rachel has never before been at a party of this magnitude; she doesn't even know what a dance card is, until Cherry explains it; so she is, in a way, very much at the mercy of the people around her.

In fact she is very fortunate, in that Patty Cornbury turns out to be an excellent chaperone---properly watchful, but determined that Rachel will have a good time, and arranging a very good first partner for her in the form of her cousin-in-law.

This becomes critical later, as it is her opinion that becomes the yardstick by which Rachel should be measured.

Déc 10, 2021, 5:25pm

As a side-note---

Trollope remains the only 19th century author I know of to admit that dancing was hard work. All that graceful gliding around you tend to hear about gives a very skewed idea of what really went on in ballrooms.

Likewise, contrary to what you tend to see in films and TV, people did not waltz continuously: they started and went on for a while and then stopped to get their breaths back. Trollope acknowledges this most amusingly in Framley Parsonage, via a gasping conversation between Lord Lufton and Griselda Grantly.

We see this again here, as Rachel has her first ever public waltz with Walter Cornbury:

Chapter 7

    Rachel, with her heart in her mouth, was claimed by her partner, and was carried forward towards the ground for dancing, tacitly assenting to her fate because she lacked words in which to explain to Mr Cornbury how very much she would have preferred to be left in obscurity behind the wall of crinoline.
    "Pray wait a minute or two," said she, almost panting.
    "Oh, certainly. There's no hurry, only we'll stand where we can get our place when we like it. You need not be a bit afraid of going on with me. Patty has told me all about it, and we'll make it right in a brace of turns." There was something very good-natured in his voice, and she almost felt that she could ask him to let her sit down.
    "I don't think I can," she said.
    "Oh yes; come, we'll try!" Then he took her by the waist, and away they went. Twice round the room he took her, very gently, as he thought; but her head had gone from her instantly in a whirl of amazement! Of her feet and their movements she had known nothing; though she had followed the music with fair accuracy, she had done so unconsciously, and when he allowed her to stop she did not know which way she had been going, or at which end of the room she stood. And yet she had liked it, and felt some little triumph as a conviction came upon her that she had not conspicuously disgraced herself.
    "That's charming," said he. She essayed to speak a word in answer, but her want of breath did not as yet permit it.
    "Charming!" he went on. "The music's perhaps a little slow, but we'll hurry them up presently." Slow! It seemed to her that she had been carried round in a vortex, of which the rapidity, though pleasant, had been almost frightful. "Come; we'll have another start," said he; and she was carried away again before she had spoken a word...

Modifié : Déc 10, 2021, 6:09pm

>54 lyzard: Not quite gasping, but I was almost as exhausted after reading this dancing scene last night from "A Christmas Carol", Stave II:

But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been twice as many, -- four times, -- old Fezziwig would have been a match for them and so would Mrs Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of the dance. You couldn't have predicted, at any given time, what would become of 'em next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs Fezziwig had gone all through the dance, -- advance and retire, turn your partner, bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again to your place, -- Fezziwig "cut," -- cut so deftly, that he appeared to wink with his legs.

Déc 10, 2021, 6:04pm

I'm enjoying the back and forth between Mr and Mrs Tappitt--quite the pair.

Déc 10, 2021, 7:40pm

>55 kac522:

Ha! - yes, thanks for posting that! :D

>56 kac522:

Stick around...

Déc 10, 2021, 7:49pm

Eventually, of course, Rachel encounters Luke, and is properly introduced to Mary Rowan:

Chapter 7

    "I have heard a great deal about you, Miss Ray," said Mary Rowan.
    "Have you? I don't know who should say much about me." The words sounded uncivil, but she did not know what words to choose.
    "Oh, from Cherry especially;---and---and from my brother."
    "I'm very glad to make your acquaintance," said Rachel.
    "He told me that you would have been sure to come and walk with us, and we have all been saying that you had disappeared."
    "I have been kept at home," said Rachel, who could not help remembering all the words of the churchyard interview, and feeling them down to her finger nails. He must have known why she had not again joined the girls from the brewery in their walks. Or had he forgotten that he had called her Rachel, and held her fast by the hand? Perhaps he did these things so often to other girls that he thought nothing of them!


Then came the moment of the evening which, of all the moments, was the most trying to her. Luke Rowan came to claim her hand for the next quadrille. She had already spoken to him,---or rather he to her; but that had been in the presence of a third person, when, of course, nothing could be said about the sunset and the clouds,---nothing about that promise of friendship. But now she would have to stand again with him in solitude,---a solitude of another kind,---in a solitude which was authorized, during which he might whisper what words he pleased to her, and from which she could not even run away. It had been thought to be a great sin on her part to have remained a moment with him by the stile; but now she was to stand up with him beneath the glare of the lights, dressed in her best, on purpose that he might whisper to her what words he pleased. But she was sure---she thought that she was sure, that he would utter no words so sweet, so full of meaning, as those in which he bade her watch the arm in the clouds...


    "I never knew anybody before called Rachel," said he.
    "And I never knew anybody called Luke."
    "That's a coincidence, is it not?---a coincidence that ought to make us friends. I may call you Rachel then?"
    "Oh, no; please don't. What would people think?"
    "Perhaps they would think the truth," said he. "Perhaps they would imagine that I called you so because I liked you. But perhaps they might think also that you let me do so because you liked me. People do make such mistakes."

Modifié : Déc 11, 2021, 4:16pm

Then we get the manoeuvring around the supper dance.

Chapter 8

    When he had got as far as that Luke Rowan played him a trick,---an inhospitable trick, seeing that he, Rowan, was in some sort at home, and that the people about him were bound to obey him. He desired the musicians to strike up again while the elders were eating their supper,---and then claimed Rachel's hand, so that he might have the pleasure of serving her with cold chicken and champagne.
    "Miss Ray is going into supper with me," said Cornbury.
    "But supper is not ready," said Rowan, "and Miss Ray is engaged to dance with me."
    "Quite a mistake on your part," said Cornbury.
    "No mistake at all," said Rowan.
    "Indeed it is. Come, Miss Ray, we'll take a turn down into the hall, and see if places are ready for us." Cornbury rather despised Rowan, as being a brewer and mechanical; and probably he showed that he did so.
    "Places are not ready, so you need not trouble Miss Ray to go down as yet. But a couple is wanted for a quadrille, and therefore I'm sure she'll stand up."
    "Come along, Rachel," said Cherry. "We just want you. This will be the nicest of all, because we shall have room."

As is implicit here, the point of securing the supper dance is that, once it was over, you also had the privilege of escorting your partner in to supper. Whoever did the one automatically got to do the other.

Given that he started out just obeying Patty Cornbury's instructions, it is interesting that Walter chooses to secure - or "secure" - Rachel for that particular dance. This gives us an outside glimpse of how successful she is being at the ball, in spite of her own confusion and doubt.

On the other hand, Luke's manoeuvring tells us a bit more about him than merely his determination to take Rachel to supper: this incident shows us that he is not only in the habit of getting his own way, but perhaps willing to be a little unscrupulous in the methods he employs to get it.

Also interesting is Cherry's tendency to side with Luke and Rachel against her family, as it were. She must understand what her mother intended: is this hostility against Augusta, a measure of her friendship for Rachel, or a sense of romance at work?

Modifié : Déc 11, 2021, 4:23pm

The evening ends for Rachel, appropriately enough, in Cinderella fashion: she literally flees the ball:

Chapter 8

    "Do you know, I think you are very cruel." As she made the accusation, she looked down upon the floor, and spoke in a low, trembling voice that almost convinced him that she was in earnest.
    "Cruel!" said he. "That's hard too."
    "Or you wouldn't prevent me enjoying myself while I am here, by saying things which you ought to know I don't like."
    "I have hardly thought whether you would like what I say or not; but I know this; I would give anything in the world to make myself sure that you would ever look back upon this evening as a happy one."
    "I will if you'll come up-stairs, and---"
    "And what?"
    "And go on without,---without seeming to mind me so much."
    "Ah, but I do mind you. Rachel---no; you shall not go for a minute. Listen to me for one moment." Then he tried to stand before her, but she was off from him, and ran up-stairs by herself. What was it that he wished to say to her? She knew that she would have liked to have heard it;---nay, that she was longing to hear it. But she was startled and afraid of him, and as she gently crept in at the door of the dancing-room, she determined that she would tell Mrs Cornbury that she was quite ready for the carriage...

Modifié : Déc 11, 2021, 4:41pm

Meanwhile, we discover that while all this has been going on, Dorothea has made good on her threat and moved out.

From the structuring of these scenes, with the ball presented first so that we can see for ourselves how harmless is the event, and the behaviour, that Dorothea considers so "wicked", Trollope wants us to understand how silly she is being---how determined to think evil of her sister. It is another tacit criticism of the Evangelicals.

But Dorothea's punishment comes soon enough, via life with Miss Pucker:

Chapter 9

Mrs Prime was used to Miss Pucker, and was not therefore grievously troubled by the ways and habits of that lady, much as they were unlike those to which she had been accustomed at Bragg's End; but on the next morning, as she was sitting with her companion after breakfast, an idea did come into her head that Miss Pucker would not be a pleasant companion for life. She would talk incessantly of the wickednesses of the cottage, and ask repeated questions about Rachel and the young man. Mrs Prime was undoubtedly very angry with her mother, and much shocked at her sister, but she did not relish the outspoken sympathy of her confidential friend. "He'll never marry her, you know. He don't think of such a thing," said Miss Pucker over and over again. Mrs Prime did not find this pleasant when spoken of her sister. "And the young men I'm told goes on anyhow, as they pleases at them dances," said Miss Pucker, who in the warmth of her intimacy forgot some of those little restrictions in speech with which she had burdened herself when first striving to acquire the friendship of Mrs Prime. Before dinner was over Mrs. Prime had made up her mind that she must soon move her staff again, and establish herself somewhere in solitude...

Nevertheless---Dorothea can hardly have expected to find another potential refuge quite so soon, if "refuge" is the right word:

    "My friend," said he,---and as he spoke he drew his chair across the rug, so as to bring it very near to that on which Mrs Prime was sitting---"our destinies in this world, yours and mine, are in many things alike. We are both alone. We both of us have our hands full of work, and of work which in many respects is the same. We are devoted to the same cause: is it not so?" Mrs Prime, who had been told that she was to listen and not to speak, did not at first make any answer. But she was pressed by a repetition of the question. "Is it not so, Mrs Prime?"
    "I can never make my work equal to that of a minister of the Gospel," said she.
    "But you can share the work of such a minister. You understand me now. And let me assure you of this; that in making this proposition to you, I am not self-seeking. It is not my own worldly comfort and happiness to which I am chiefly looking."
    "Ah," said Mrs Prime, "I suppose not." Perhaps there was in her voice the slightest touch of soreness.
    "No;---not chiefly to that. I want assistance, confidential intercourse, sympathy, a congenial mind, support when I am like to faint, counsel when I am pressing on, aid when the toil is too heavy for me, a kind word when the day's work is over. And you,---do you not desire the same? Are we not alike in that, and would it not be well that we should come together?"

(Miss Pucker or Mr Prong? Talk about Scylla or Charybdis!)

Déc 11, 2021, 5:00pm

The business of Dorothea's money is interesting, all the more so because it isn't quite clear what Trollope wants the reader to think.

Though things did change over the course of the 19th century, it was a fact that the only way a woman could entirely control her own property was by being a widow.

This was a consequence of the overhaul of the English property laws during the late 17th and early 18th century, which progressively stripped women of nearly all their legal rights. (We have discussed this elsewhere with respect to the marriage laws and women being "sold" into marriage by their families.) Even when a woman had money or property she had no right to use it as she wished; and if she became engaged, her fiancé immediately acquired a degree of right to what she owned, so that legally there could be no disposal of property between the engagement and the wedding.

The flip-side of this, as I have said, is that the only women who could legally control their own property were widows---because widows were the only women not subject to the legal authority of a man, whether that be a husband, a father, a brother, or even a son.

Men were of course responsible for the laws that made this so---but it seems they didn't consider the potential consequences until after the event: and in fact, you can find an entire subgenre of 17th and 18th century literature that deals with men living in terror of being married and murdered for their property!

Because a woman's property automatically became her husband's until the passing of the Married Women's Property Act, it was the responsibility of the woman's family to ensure that she was financially protected if she married. "Settlements" were to secure to her an income should she be widowed, and depending upon how much money and/or property she brought to the marriage, to give her a proportion of that to her own use during the marriage.

Dorothea, we learn, has £200 a year of her own---and in spite of Mr Prong's protestations about a minister's work and being companions and so on, it is evident to her from the first word that he has his eyes on her prize.

But as I say, it isn't quite clear what Trollope intends here. Certainly not that she should just hand her money over to Mr Prong! But on the other hand, it is clear to the reader that this is another aspect of Dorothea's desire to be in control: she likes the feeling of power that her money gives her, a motivation that isn't exactly in accordance with her usual insistence upon "unworldliness".

Déc 12, 2021, 4:39am

>62 lyzard: can find an entire subgenre of 17th and 18th century literature that deals with men living in terror of being married and murdered for their property!
Now that could be fun to explore. Do you have any titles at hand?

I confess that I have finished the book already, it was such a pleasure to read that I couldn't stop myself. I'll reserve comments til later.

Chapter 7+8
Young Mrs Cornbury's behaviour at the ball is very generous and considerate, given that she was roped in against her will at first. I think she's my favourite character.

Déc 12, 2021, 5:15am

Cet utilisateur a été supprimé en tant que polluposteur.

Déc 13, 2021, 5:05pm

>63 MissWatson:

Heh! - I should be clear that there was no whole book dealing with that (or not that I'm aware of), but rather it was a recurrent subplot or detail through the late 17th and early 18th century in male-authored fiction and the pseudo-non-fiction "truth about women" scandal-writing that was popular at the time. Again and again you come across a man lured into marriage despite the warnings of his friends and dead a month later, while his widow enjoyed the proceeds. (Bonus points if the woman in question was already a widow! - apparently there were a lot of female serial killers around at the time...) I can't think of any specific titles off the top of my head, but now that I've reminded myself I'll keep an eye out and report any examples I find.

Déc 13, 2021, 5:06pm

>63 MissWatson:

Yes, it's a nice sketch of a situation we don't see much of, with a young-ish chaperone doing her best for her charge...and encouraging her to have a good time rather than running interference. :D

No worries, Birgit, but please do remember those comments!

Modifié : Déc 13, 2021, 5:30pm

Chapter 10 clarifies the situation between Mr Tappitt and Luke.

It's an awkward arrangement---somewhat unfair on Mr Tappitt, although he's had the benefit of a previously uninterested partner; and certainly not Luke's fault. Nor can we blame him for wanting what's legally his. But it is very obvious very quickly that these two cannot blend...though perhaps we do not anticipate the nature of the ultimate sticking-point:

(NB: noting a currently throwaway detail for future reference:)

    Rowan had a way with him that was not exactly a way of submission, and Tappitt would certainly not have dared to encounter him on any such matter as his behaviour in a drawing-room. When the time came he had not even the courage to allude to those champagne bottles; and it may be as well explained that Rowan paid the little bill at Griggs's, without further reference to the matter. But the question of the brewery management was a matter vital to Tappitt. There, among the vats, he had reigned supreme since Bungall ceased to be king, and for continual mastery there it was worth his while to make a fight. That he was under difficulties even in that fight he had already begun to know. He could not talk Luke Rowan down, and make him go about his work in an orderly, every-day, business-like fashion. Luke Rowan would not be talked down, nor would he be orderly,---not according to Mr Tappitt's orders. No doubt Mr Tappitt, under these circumstances, could decline the partnership; and this he was disposed to do; but he had been consulting lawyers, consulting papers, and looking into old accounts, and he had reason to fear, that under Bungall's will, Luke Rowan would have the power of exacting from him much more than he was inclined to give.
    "You'd better take him into the concern," the lawyer had said. "A young head is always useful."
    "Not when the young head wants to be master," Tappitt had answered. "If I'm to do that the whole thing will go to the dogs." He did not exactly explain to the lawyer that Rowan had carried his infatuation so far as to be desirous of brewing good beer...

Speaking of which, I meant to note this point from Chapter 3:

Mr Tappitt wished that Rowan should learn brewing seated on a stool, and that the lessons should be purely arithmetical. Luke was instructed as to the use of certain dull, dingy, disagreeable ledgers, and informed that in them lay the natural work of a brewer. But he desired to learn the chemical action of malt and hops upon each other, and had not been a fortnight in the concern before he suggested to Mr Tappitt that by a salutary process, which he described, the liquor might be made less muddy. "Let us brew good beer," he had said; and then Tappitt had known that it would not do. "Yes," said Tappitt, "and sell for twopence a pint what will cost you threepence to make!" "That's what we've got to look to," said Rowan. "I believe it can be done for the money,---only one must learn how to do it." "I've been at it all my life," Tappitt said. "Yes, Mr Tappitt; but it is only now that men are beginning to appreciate all that chemistry can do for them."

The 19th century was a time of an exploding awareness of science of all kinds, and it was very common to find young men of all walks of life - and women too, despite the inevitable discouragement - taking an interest, either professionally or as a hobby, in the new branches of knowledge that were opening up.

Here we find Luke among their number---applying chemistry to the problem of making good beer instead of bad beer, much to the horror of Mr Tappitt!

Chapter 10

    "I've no doubt you're a very clever young man, but I am quite sure we should not do together; and to tell you the truth, Rowan, I don't think you'll ever make your fortune by brewing."
    "You think not?"
    "No; never."
    "I'm sorry for that."
    "I don't know that you need be sorry. You'll have a nice income for a single man to begin the world with, and there's other businesses besides brewing,---and a deal better."
    "Ah! But I've made up my mind to be a brewer. I like it. There's opportunity for chemical experiments, and room for philosophical inquiry, which gives the trade a charm in my eyes. I dare say it seems odd to you, but I like being a brewer."
    Tappitt only scratched his head, and stared at him. "I do indeed," continued Rowan. "Now a man can't do anything to improve his own trade as a lawyer. A great deal will be done; but I've made up my mind that all that must come from the outside. All trades want improving; but I like a trade in which I can do the improvements myself,---from the inside."

The growing antagonism of Mr Tappitt towards Luke is illogical but psychologically convincing: it is not the fact of it, but the manner in which Luke unwittingly challenges all the things upon which Mr Tappitt, rightly or wrongly, prides himself---including his bad beer!

Mrs Tappitt, meanwhile, has previously been inclined to champion Luke against her husband; but now we see that all that is changing---

If that nasty girl, Rachel Ray, had not come in the way all might have been well...

Poor Rachel!

Déc 14, 2021, 1:59am

>67 lyzard: I can't help wondering how the brewery stayed in business this long if the product was so mediocre (or worse). I think at some point it is mentioned that the inns in town serve his beer, would that have been a monopoly contract? Transport across long distances would surely have been a problem in those days.

Déc 14, 2021, 3:56pm

>68 MissWatson:

Lack of competition would be the short answer: it probably wasn't a monopoly in the formal sense, just a matter of proximity.

I think the implication is that the Devonshire people are so cider-focused that they don't know bad beer from good (it's a bit chicken-and-eggy, though). Luke, down from, absolutely does!

I guess you can understand with Mr Tappitt's resistance to change: if you've been profiting off rubbish for thirty years, where's the incentive to improve?

Modifié : Déc 15, 2021, 1:30am

Chapter 11 is a critical one, from its delightful title onwards, so we need to take a careful look at it.

We get a shift here to Luke's point of view. Given that he has, in general, a very good opinion of himself, this was rather striking:

He felt sure that he was right in his views regarding the business, and could not accuse himself of any fault in his manner of making them known to Mr Tappitt; but, nevertheless, he was ill at ease with himself in that he had given offence. And with all these thoughts were mingled other thoughts as to Rachel Ray. He did not in the least imagine that any of the anger felt towards him at the brewery had been caused by his open admiration of Rachel. It had never occurred to him that Mrs Tappitt had regarded him as a possible son-in-law, or that, having so regarded him, she could hold him in displeasure because he had failed to fall into her views. He had never regarded himself as being of value as a possible future husband, or entertained the idea that he was a prize.

We can only assume that Mrs Rowan has been more tactful to date in talking to him than she later is talking about him. :)

Meanwhile, poor Mrs Ray and Rachel are in agonies:

    "I suppose that we can't have tea till he's been," said Mrs Ray, just at that hour; "that is, if he does come at all."
    Rachel felt that her mother was vexed, because she suspected that Mr Rowan was not about to keep his word.
    "Don't let his coming make any difference, mamma," said Rachel. "I will go and get tea."
    "Wait a few minutes longer, my dear," said Mrs Ray.
    It was all very well for Rachel to beg that it might make "no difference." It did make a very great deal of difference.
    "I think I'll go over and see Mrs Sturt for a few minutes," said Rachel, getting up.
    "Pray don't, my dear,---pray don't; I should never know what to say to him if he should come while you were away."
    So Rachel again sat down...

But when the critical moment comes, they both rise to the occasion---as indeed does Luke:

    "I wonder whether Mr Rowan would come in and have some tea," said Mrs Ray.
    "Oh, wouldn't I," said Rowan, "if I were asked?"
    Rachel was highly delighted with her mother, not so much on account of her courtesy to their guest, as that she had shown herself equal to the occasion, and had behaved, in an unabashed manner, as a mistress of a house should do. Mrs Ray had been in such dread of the young man's coming, that Rachel had feared she would be speechless. Now the ice was broken, and she would do very well. The merit, however, did not belong to Mrs Ray, but to Rowan. He had the gift of making himself at home with people, and had done much towards winning the widow's heart, when, after an interval of ten minutes, they two followed Rachel into the house...

I don't know that we can justly accuse Rachel of deliberately leaving Luke alone with her mother - this is certainly a special occasion, warranting Mrs Sturt's cream, after all! - but ether way he doesn't waste the moment:

"Mrs Ray," said he, "I think your daughter is the nicest girl I ever saw in my life."

After all the angst and agonising that has preceded this moment, the lightheartedness and humour of the tea-scene is almost shocking---and I love this tiny intimation that Rachel, dazzled as she is, isn't entirely taking Luke at his own estimation:

    He had another object in life. He intended to put down cider.
    "I beg you won't do anything of the kind," said Mrs Ray, "for I always drink it at dinner." Then Rowan explained how that he was a brewer, and that he looked upon it as his duty to put down so poor a beverage as cider. The people of Devonshire, he averred, knew nothing of beer, and it was his ambition to teach them. Mrs Ray grew eager in the defence of cider, and then they again became comfortable and happy. "I never heard of such a thing in my life," said Mrs Ray. "What are the farmers to do with all their apple trees? It would be the ruin of the whole country."
    "I don't suppose it can be done all at once," said Luke.
    "Not even by Mr Rowan," said Rachel.

But a crisis is reached when Luke takes his leave---also offering us an insight into social usages: one call is an accident, meaning nothing; two calls means everything:

    "Good night, Mrs Ray."
    "Good night, Mr Rowan."
    "And I may come and see you again?"
    Mrs Ray was silent. "I'm sure mamma will be very happy," said Rachel.
    "I want to hear her say so herself," said Luke.
    Poor woman! She felt that she was driven into a position from which any safe escape was quite impossible. She could not tell her guest that he would not be welcome. She could not even pretend to speak to him with cold words after having chatted with him so pleasantly, and with such cordial good humour; and yet, were she to tell him that he might come, she would be granting him permission to appear there as Rachel's lover. If Rachel had been away, she would have appealed to his mercy, and have thrown herself, in the spirit, on her knees before him. But she could not do this in Rachel's presence.

An almost perfect evening; almost---

    "But there's a lady coming in, so I'll tell you the rest of it to-morrow. I want you to know it all, Mrs Ray, and to understand it too."
    "A lady!" said Mrs Ray, looking out through the open window. "Oh dear, if here isn't Dorothea!"
    Then Rowan shook hands with them both, pressing Rachel's very warmly, close under her mother's eyes; and as he went out of the house into the garden, he passed Mrs Prime on the walk, and took off his hat to her with great composure...

Déc 15, 2021, 1:42am

...and of course, to Dorothea this is practically The End Of Days.

Chapter 12

She had taught herself to look on Rowan as the personification of mischief, as the very mischief itself in regard to Rachel. She had lifted up her voice against him. She had left her home and torn herself from her family because it was not compatible with the rigour of her principles that any one known to her should be known to him also!

**** it was, she had resolved that Luke Rowan was a black sheep; that he was pitch, not to be touched without defilement; that he was, in short, a man to be regarded by religious people as anathema,---a thing accursed; and of that idea she was not able to divest herself suddenly. Why had the young man walked about under the churchyard elms at night? Why, if he were not wicked and abandoned, did he wear that jaunty look,---that look which was so worldly? And, moreover, he went to balls, and tempted others to do the like! In a word, he was a young man manifestly of that class which was esteemed by Mrs Prime more dangerous than roaring lions...

But why has she so taught herself? Where is this coming from? What is Luke's particular sin? Is it London? Is it the brewery? Or is it just the churchyard?

This, however, is rather telling (if, from our perspective, also rather humorous):

Could any serious young man have taken off his hat with the flippancy which had marked that action on his part? Would not any serious young man, properly intent on matrimonial prospects, have been subdued at such a moment to a more solemn deportment?

So because he is "flippant" - or, more correctly, joyous - instead of solemn, in Dorothea's mind he cannot be sincere.

Can we assume that Trollope intended the associated irony? - because Dorothea will have a full measure of Mr Prong's "solemnity" before she's much older...

Modifié : Déc 15, 2021, 1:47am

However, the highlight here is Mrs Ray's unexpectedly spirited defence of Rachel (and high time, too!):

Chapter 12

"So it is very ill-natured. I can't bear to have these sort of quarrels; but I must speak out for her. I believe he's a very good young man, with nothing bad about him at all, and he is welcome to come here whenever he pleases. And as for Rachel, I believe she knows how to mind herself as well as you did when you were her age; only poor Mr Prime was come and gone at that time. And as for his not intending, he came out here just because he did intend, and only to ask my permission. I didn't at first tell him he might because Rachel was over at the farm getting the cream, and I thought she ought to be consulted first; and if that's not straightforward and proper, I'm sure I don't know what is; and he having a business of his own, too, and able to maintain a wife to-morrow! And if a young man isn't to be allowed to ask leave to see a young woman when he thinks he likes her, I for one don't know how young people are to get married at all." Then Mrs Ray sat down, put her apron up to her eyes, and had a great cry.

Pity about the anti-climax:

"I said he had come to ask leave, and that I should be glad to see him when he did come, but I didn't say anything of having told him so. I didn't tell him anything of the kind; did I, Rachel? But I know he will come, and I don't see why he shouldn't. And if he does, I can't turn him out. He took his tea here quite like a steady young man. He drank three large cups..."


Déc 15, 2021, 8:41am

>71 lyzard: Yes, I do wonder how Dorothea ended up with this worldview. One thing I noticed (I didn't go back and count, though) is that Rachel is the only one who calls her Dolly. So there must have been a time when the sisters were closer, and actually fond of each other? Is the age gap big enough for Rachel to have admired her as a mother figure, or a role model, once?

Déc 15, 2021, 8:49am

>68 MissWatson: >69 lyzard:

I keep thinking about my own generation and our love of "craft beers" - small batch brewed beers with a ton of flavor and character vs. what my parents' generation drinks - pale lagers that all taste the same, like Budweiser, Coors, Miller. Maybe that's an American thing, but it sounds like the same argument to me!

I'm loving this book and am in the second volume. I'll probably have a few questions about the election in chapter 2, volume 2, but I'll see if you address it first.

Déc 15, 2021, 12:24pm

>72 lyzard: He took his tea here quite like a steady young man. He drank three large cups...

Yep, I love this recurring assessment of Mrs Ray!

I have also finished, and enjoyed it--bad beer and all.

I also get a kick out of the three Tappitt girls every time they voice their diverse opinions on various topics--they remind me of the "three little maids from school" in Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado.

Déc 15, 2021, 3:57pm

>73 MissWatson:

From one point of view it is entirely understandable: let's not forget that she was married and widowed before she was as old as Rachel is now; that would be enough to sour anyone.

What we're not given is any proper explanation of her slide into a taste for general misery and all things being "wicked". Trollope isn't really fair here: he uses her as an example of what he disliked about Evangelicalism without really assessing her mental and emotional state, which isn't like him---he's usually more even-handed than that.

There's a seven or eight year age gap, so Dorothea would certainly (voluntarily or otherwise) have had some responsibility in Rachel's upbringing. Not "motherly", exactly, but properly big-sisterly. It's hard now to imagine her enjoying or being happy about anything, but we shouldn't assume it was a duty rather than a pleasure.

And the fact that Rachel still calls her by a nickname suggests that things were once much better than this between them---though maybe she's doing it now to annoy or "deflate" her sister. As for Mrs Ray, the new unimproved Dorothea may have insisted on it---or maybe she's doing the "full name" thing, like parents do---or maybe it's a hint that she's a little afraid of her daughter?

Modifié : Déc 15, 2021, 4:08pm

>74 japaul22:

That's a really good point! While we're puzzling over the bad beer of Baslehurst, we shouldn't forget that people do voluntarily drink Bud all their lives! :D

(Disclosure: I've had Bud, but not the other two; I'll take your word about them being indistinguishable.)

I agree, that's a nice bit of sketching.

Déc 15, 2021, 4:09pm

>75 kac522:

Well done, Kathy---please keep the comments coming! :)

Yes, unfortunately there are some things to talk about there...

Déc 15, 2021, 4:35pm

Chapter 13 is a split chapter, with Luke finding himself under attack - and vice-versa - on two different fronts.

As we pointed out in >70 lyzard:, it is interesting that Luke has never thought of himself as a marital catch; in fact it's clear that before meeting Rachel he hadn't thought much about that aspect of his future at all.

Mrs Rowan, however, absolutely has.

In one sense Mrs Rowan it quite right: in social terms, this would be a terrible marriage; Rachel has nothing, no money, and no connections.

We will see subsequently some of the negatives in Luke's personality, so we should be quite fair to him here: not only has he no ego about himself in that respect, he cares nothing for the potential advantages of marriage, which his circumstances would justify him in seeking. He just wants Rachel for herself; her only general qualification is that she is "a lady", and that's enough.

But Mrs Rowan's reaction goes beyond mere disappointment that Luke is not "marrying to his advantage": she has been infected with Mrs Tappitt's resentful and, by now, rather spiteful, attitude towards Rachel, and taught to think the worst.

This is a rather remarkable exchange, and wholly to Luke's credit:

    "And it is Miss Ray?"
    "Yes, it is Miss Ray."
    "Oh, Luke, then indeed I shall be very wretched."
    "Why so, mother? Have you heard anything against her?"
    "Against her! well; I will not say that, for I do not wish to say anything against any young woman. But do you know who she is, Luke; and who her mother is? They are quite poor people."
    "And is that against them?"
    "Not against their moral character certainly, but it is against them in considering the expediency of a connection with them. You would hardly wish to marry out of your own station. I am told that the mother lives in a little cottage, quite in a humble sphere, and that the sister---"
    "I intend to marry neither the mother nor the sister; but Rachel Ray I do intend to marry,---if she will have me. If I had been left to myself I should not have told you of this till I had found myself to be successful; as you have asked me I have not liked to deceive you. But, mother, do not speak against her if you can say nothing worse of her than that she is poor."
    "You misunderstand me, Luke."
    "I hope so. I do not like to think that that objection should be made by you."

Déc 15, 2021, 4:47pm

The rest of Chapter 13 deals with the rapid escalation of the feud between Luke and Mr Tappitt over the brewery.

We first get clarification of the the legal situation, emphasising that circumstances have given Tappitt a longer run than the will of Mr Bungall intended, and that Luke is wholly within his rights in seeking a share, one way or the other.

The shifts in tone here are rather extraordinary---from the outbreak of anger and even a threat of physical violence, to this amusingly bathetic conclusion (mirroring Mrs Ray and the tea!)---

Growling inwardly Tappitt deposited the poker within the upright fender, and thrusting his hands into his trousers pockets stood scowling at the door through which his enemy had gone. He knew that he had been wrong; he knew that he had been very foolish. He was a man who had made his way upwards through the world with fair success, and had walked his way not without prudence. He had not been a man of violence, or prone to an illicit use of pokers. He had never been in difficulty for an assault; and had on his conscience not even the blood of a bloody nose, or the crime of a blackened eye. He was hard-working and peaceable; had been churchwarden three times, and mayor of Baslehurst once. He was poor-law guardian and way-warden, and filled customarily the various offices of a steady good citizen. What had he to do with pokers, unless it were to extract heat from his coals? He was ashamed of himself as he stood scowling at the door. One fault he perhaps had; and of that fault he had been ruthlessly told by lips that should have been sealed for ever on such a subject. He brewed bad beer...

This is more like what we expect from Trollope. We can see where both men are right and wrong. Both have their legal rights and their personal ambitions; but Mr Tappitt is unreasonable and Luke is tactless.

Ultimately, it is not the brewery as such but personal animus (further fueled by Mrs Tappitt and her resentment with respect to her daughters and Rachel) that will drive Mr Tappitt's actions from this point

Déc 15, 2021, 5:29pm

>80 lyzard: Very brief summary of Rachel Ray: It's all about good tea-drinking and bad beer.

Déc 15, 2021, 10:03pm

>81 kac522:

Good Tea And Bad Beer: The Baslehurst Story. :D

Déc 16, 2021, 1:11am

Modifié : Déc 16, 2021, 6:02am

Hmm. It must be a man thing. Or at any rate, a British man thing:

From The Alington Inheritance by Patricia Wentworth:

They were just finishing the plate of biscuits and the cake, and Richard was drinking his third cup of tea, when there came a tapping at the door...

Déc 16, 2021, 6:49am

Cet utilisateur a été supprimé en tant que polluposteur.

Déc 16, 2021, 3:45pm

In Chapter 14, Mrs Ray sets out on her errand to Dorothea (supposing that she is to be scolded some more), meaning that Rachel is alone when Luke pays his second visit:

    "Nay, but, Rachel, you shall speak, or I will stay with you here till your mother comes, and she shall answer for you. If you had disliked me I think you would have said so."
    "I don't dislike you," she whispered.
    "And do you love me?" She slightly bowed her head. "And you will be my wife?" Again she went through the same little piece of acting. "And I may call you Rachel now?" In answer to this question she shook herself free from his slackened grasp, and escaped away across the room...

Funny how being called by her first name is the greater intimacy.

In terms of the Trollopean world, this is very interesting:

    He sat there for two hours, telling her of all things appertaining to himself. He explained to her that, irrespective of the brewery, he had an income sufficient to support a wife,---"though not enough to make her a fine lady like Mrs Cornbury," he said.
    "If you can give me bread and cheese, it's as much as I have a right to expect," said Rachel.
    "I have over four hundred a year," said he: and Rachel, hearing it, thought that he could indeed support a wife...

We may recall that, with respect to The Bertrams, which is a novel very much about under what circumstances men and women should and shouldn't get married, we deduced that £400 was Trollope's idea of a sufficient income upon which to marry---and in that case we were speaking of ladies and gentlemen living in London. Here we learn that Luke has "over" that figure, aside from the brewery, which would indeed justify him in looking much higher (or richer) for a wife. His complete disregard of this aspect of the matter is unusual in Trollope (whose young men were more likely to be out on the catch), and another mark in his favour.

This revelation also tends to explain his mother's attitude, if not her subsequent behaviour.

Déc 16, 2021, 3:52pm

It has been a remarkable morning all around in the Ray family.

There's a note of unkind humour here, on the back of Luke's blithe disregard of Rachel's circumstances: Dorothea can't boast so disinterested a suitor:

Chapter 14

    "Marry Mr Prong! I suppose she may if she likes. Oh dear! I can't think I shall ever like him."
    "I never spoke to him yet, so perhaps I oughtn't to say; but he doesn't look a nice man to my eyes. But what are looks, my dear? They're only skin deep; we ought all of us to remember that always, Rachel; they're only skin deep; and if, as she says, she only wants to work in the vineyard, she won't mind his being so short. I dare say he's honest;---at least I'm sure I hope he is."
    "I should think he's honest, at any rate, or he wouldn't be what he is."
    "There's some of them are so very fond of money;---that is, if all that we hear is true. Perhaps he mayn't care about it; let us hope that he doesn't; but if so he's a great exception. However, she means to have it tied up as close as possible, and I think she's right. Where would she be if he was to go away some fine morning and leave her?"

Rachel does finally get to tell her own news; but happy as she is, the first cloud is hovering over her horizon: a cloud much bigger and darker than she initially has any conception of...

At four o'clock a note came from Rowan to his "Dearest Rachel," saying that he had been called away by telegraph to London about that "horrid brewery business." He would write from there...

Déc 16, 2021, 4:19pm

Luke has time before is departure for London to absorb the fact that his mother disapproves of his engagement; telling himself optimistically that she will "come around".

He has no idea what he is leaving Rachel to face.

Mrs Rowan's alliance with Mrs Tappitt exposes the weakness of her position---and she knows it, too:

Chapter 15

    They agreed together at that meeting that Rachel Ray was the head and front of the whole offence, the source of all the evil done and to be done, and the one great sinner in the matter. It was clear to Mrs Rowan that Rachel could have no just pretensions to look for such a lover or such a husband as her son; and it was equally clear to Mrs Tappitt that she could have had no right to seek a lover or a husband out of the brewery. If Rachel Ray had not been there all might have gone smoothly for both of them. Mrs Tappitt did not, perhaps, argue very logically as to the brewery business, or attempt to show either to herself or to her ally that Luke Rowan would have made himself an agreeable partner if he had kept himself free from all love vagaries; but she was filled with an indefinite woman's idea that the mischief, which she felt, had been done by Rachel Ray, and that against Rachel and Rachel's pretensions her hand should be turned.
    They resolved therefore that they would go out together and call at the cottage. Mrs Tappitt knew, from long neighbourhood, of what stuff Mrs. Ray was made. "A very good sort of woman," she said to Mrs Rowan, "and not at all headstrong and perverse like her daughter. If we find the young lady there we must ask her mamma to see us alone." To this proposition Mrs Rowan assented, not eagerly, but with a slow, measured, dignified assent, feeling that she was derogating somewhat from her own position in allowing herself to be led by such a one as Mrs Tappitt...

But that is not to say she hasn't the capacity to do a lot of damage.

It is poor Mrs Ray who has to face the barrage---though once again we find her devotion to Rachel allowing her to rise above her usual timidity and weakness:

    "And therefore it isn't so easy to ask him," said Mrs Rowan, ignoring Mrs Tappitt and the partnership. "But of course, Mrs Ray, our object in this matter must be the same. We both wish to see our children happy and respectable." Mrs Rowan, as she said this, put great emphasis on the last word.
    "As to my girl, I've no fear whatever but what she'll be respectable," said Mrs Ray, with more heat than Mrs Tappitt had thought her to possess.


    "I hope Miss Rachel didn't know he was coming in your absence," said Mrs Rowan.
    "It would look so sly;---wouldn't it?" said Mrs Tappitt.
    "No, she didn't, and she isn't sly at all. If she had known anything she would have told me. I know what my girl is, Mrs Rowan, and I can depend on her." Mrs Ray's courage was up, and she was inclined to fight bravely, but she was sadly impeded by tears, which she now found it impossible to control.
    "I'm sure it isn't my wish to distress you," said Mrs Rowan.
    "It does distress me very much, then, for anybody to say that Rachel is sly."
    "I said I hoped she wasn't sly," said Mrs Tappitt.
    "I heard what you said," continued Mrs Ray...


    "From the way in which things have turned out it's not likely that he'll settle himself at Baslehurst."
    "The most unlikely thing in the world," said Mrs Tappitt. "I don't suppose he'll ever show himself in Baslehurst again."
    "As for showing himself, Mrs Tappitt, my son will never be ashamed of showing himself anywhere."
    "But he won't have any call to come to Baslehurst, Mrs Rowan. That's what I mean."
    "If he's a gentleman of his word, as I take him to be," said Mrs Ray, "he'll have a great call to show himself. He never can have intended to come out here, and speak to her in that way, and ask her to marry him, and then never to come back and see her any more! I wouldn't believe it of him, not though his own mother said it!"


    "What is it you want me to do, Mrs Rowan?" asked Mrs Ray.
    "I want you and your daughter, who I am sure is a very nice young lady, and good-looking too,---"
    "Oh, quite so," said Mrs Tappitt.
    "I want you both to understand that this little thing should be allowed to drop. If my boy has done anything foolish I'm here to apologise for him. He isn't the first that has been foolish, and I'm afraid he won't be the last. But it can't be believed, Mrs Ray, that marriages should be run up in this thoughtless sort of way. In the first place the young people don't know anything of each other; absolutely nothing at all. And then,---but I'm sure I don't want to insist on any differences that there may be in their positions in life. Only you must be aware of this, Mrs Ray, that such a marriage as that would be very injurious to a young man like my son Luke."
    "My child wouldn't wish to injure anybody."
    "And therefore, of course, she won't think any more about it. All I want from you is that you should promise me that."
    "If Rachel will only just say that," said Mrs Tappitt, "my daughters will be as happy to see her out walking with them as ever."
    "Rachel has had quite enough of such walking, Mrs Tappitt; quite enough."


    "Good-bye, ma'am," she said to Mrs Rowan. "I suppose you mean to do the best you can by your own child."
    "And by yours too," said Mrs Rowan.
    "If so, I can only say that you must think very badly of your own son."

Déc 16, 2021, 4:28pm

Over the final paragraphs of Chapter 15, Trollope foreshadows the second half of his novel by emphasising Rachel's isolaton and powerlessness:

    "But he has gone away, and what can you do if he does not come again?"
    "Do! Oh, I can do nothing. I could do nothing, even though he were here in Baslehurst every day of his life..."

Déc 16, 2021, 4:29pm

Which brings us to the end of VOLUME I.

We're behind, which is on me; it's been a bit of a rocky week here; apologies for that, and I'll try to pick up the pace.

Can I get everyone to check in and let me know how it's going?

Déc 16, 2021, 4:35pm

Just finishing volume II chapter 7. I'm really enjoying this one!

Déc 16, 2021, 4:36pm

I just finished volume 1 myself. Enjoying this novel very much. Although I keep wanting to smack a few people upside the head to knock some sense into them. Modern violence! What would Trollope think!

Déc 16, 2021, 4:41pm

I'm just starting chapter 4 of volume 2 and will get another chapter or two in this evening. I really like this novel.

Déc 16, 2021, 5:53pm

I finished a couple of days ago.

Déc 17, 2021, 12:19am

Déc 17, 2021, 1:49pm

>88 lyzard: I love Chapter XV--from the title "Maternal Eloquence", to that great scene with the 3 mothers. As I was reading it, I was trying to imagine what it would be like on the screen, and who would play the parts! To give Trollope credit, I think the dialogue tells us so much about each woman's personality and I can easily hear in my mind the inflections of their voices.

Déc 17, 2021, 4:30pm

>96 kac522:

Oh, yes! I was particularly struck by Mrs Ray's I heard what you said: it seems like such a modern retort. And you can absolutely hear the three women's voices. I always think it's a sign of realism in dialogue when scenes play out in your imagination like that.

Déc 17, 2021, 4:44pm

But alas! - Mrs Ray may have risen to the occasion, but as always she is swayed by the last person to get into her ear. In this case, she buys into a belief in Luke's perfidy---and holds it all the more since Rachel, sensing this, isn't talking.

The situation is so dire, Dorothea fails to take advantage of it---yike!

Ironically, Rachel's secret thoughts here exactly echo those of her mother when she was confronting Mrs Rowan; though being made of sterner stuff, she holds to her opinion when Mrs Ray crumbles:

Chapter 16 / Volume II Chapter 1

Could it be that all this should have passed over her and that it should mean nothing?---that the man should have been standing there, only three or four days since, in that very room, with his arm round her waist, begging for her love, and calling her his wife;---and that all of it should have no meaning? Nothing amazed her so much as her mother's firm belief in such an ending to such an affair. What must be her mother's thoughts about men and women in general if she could expect such conduct from Luke Rowan,---and yet not think of him as one whose falsehood was marvellous in its falseness!

On the other hand we have this marvellous (albeit completely exasperating) summation of Mrs Ray's mental processes:

Mrs Ray was disposed to doubt people and things that were at a distance from her. Some check could be kept over a lover at Baslehurst; or, if perchance the lover had removed himself only to Exeter, with which city Mrs Ray was personally acquainted, she could have believed in his return. He would not, in that case, have gone utterly beyond her ken. But she could put no confidence in a lover up in London. Who could say that he might not marry some one else to-morrow,---that he might not be promising to marry half a dozen? It was with her the same sort of feeling which made her think it possible that Mr Prong might go to Australia...

Thanks so much. :D

Déc 17, 2021, 5:01pm

But we need to take a closer look at Luke's letter, also in Chapter 16 / Volume II Chapter 1.

Rachel is perhaps justified is wanting more mushy stuff, but the truth is Luke is paying her a very rate compliment---treating her, as he says himself, like "a man friend". It is extraordinarily rare in Victorian fiction to find a man treating his romantic partner like a friend - like an equal - speaking out to her about his concerns and his business interests, instead of assuming she won't be interested or won't understand, or giving her the "don't worry your pretty head" attitude.

You see I write to you exactly as if you were a man friend, and not my own dear sweet girl. But I am a very bad hand at love-making. I considered that that was all done when you nodded your head over my arm in token that you consented to be my wife. It was a very little nod, but it binds you as fast as a score of oaths. And now I think I have a right to talk to you about all my affairs, and expect you at once to get up the price of malt and hops in Devonshire. I told you, you remember, that you should be my friend, and now I mean to have my own way.

And again, I doubt we'd find this from Trollope if we was dealing with people in a higher social sphere (unless perhaps with regard to politics).

Most of this is lost on Rachel because what she's seeking at the moment is reassurance---and she is too inexperienced to recognise the letter for the reassurance it actually is; though she does see he's taking their future together very much for granted.

In its way this letter is as revealing of Luke as the conversation in the previous chapter was of the three women. It isn't all good, some of it verging on arrogance and disrespect; but it is honest all through. Unfortunately both Rachel and Mrs Ray are too frightened to absorb its implications.

And this---well, we're probably inclined to sympathise with Luke just at the moment, but we can understand the negative impact this has on the others:

You must tell me exactly what my mother has been doing and saying at the cottage. I cannot quite make it out from what she says, but I fear that she has been interfering where she had no business, and making a goose of herself. She has got an idea into her head that I ought to make a good bargain in matrimony, and sell myself at the highest price going in the market;---that I ought to get money, or if not money, family connexion. I'm very fond of money,---as is everybody, only people are such liars...

But things go badly from here. In fact, Mrs Ray commits a serious injustice to her daughter here by carrying her business to Mr Comfort. Things have gone too far for such outside interference. Having given her consent, she needed to stand by her daughter. Her lack of spine here will cause Rachel great misery.

Déc 18, 2021, 8:05am

>99 lyzard: I LOVED this letter for the reason you stated - a man finally treating a woman as a partner and talking about real life issues and even money issues with her right from the start in a Victorian novel! It got mereally excited about this novel. Of course, it isn't received the way I would receive it :-) but it would be a pretty boring novel if it was!

Déc 18, 2021, 8:20am

Finished! :-)

Déc 18, 2021, 10:07am

>99 lyzard: >100 japaul22: Yes, that was my reaction also!

Déc 18, 2021, 6:18pm

>100 japaul22:, >102 MissWatson:

I think we can reasonably infer that the very strangeness of the letter plays its part in what follows: however much we like it, a few more declarations of passion would probably have done Rachel more good. :)

Déc 18, 2021, 6:19pm

>101 cbl_tn:

Well done, Carrie!

Hope you have lots of comments pending...? :)

Déc 18, 2021, 6:48pm

Chapter 17 / Volume II Chapter 2 is - though they finally overlap - a chapter of two parts, which we need to consider separately.

The most important aspect of it with respect to the overall narrative is Trollope's account of the blackening of Luke Rowan's reputation in the wake of his departure from Baslehurst.

As Homer Simpson once rightly observed, it takes two to lie: one to lie and one to listen. :)

Probably the Tappitts don't think they are lying, but their different but equally prejudiced views of Luke's conduct - and their eagerness to impart those views to anyone who will listen - are enormously and unjustly damaging to him---and indirectly, to Rachel.

There is, perhaps, more excuse for Mr Tappitt, who feels his entire life threatened by Luke and who genuinely believes what he says about him:

As for Tappitt himself, he certainly believed that Rowan was so base a scoundrel that no evil words against him could be considered as malicious or even unnecessary. Is it not good to denounce a scoundrel? And if the rascality of any rascal be specially directed against oneself and one's own wife and children, is it not a duty to denounce that rascal, so that his rascality may be known and thus made of no effect? When Tappitt declared in the reading-room at the Dragon, and afterwards in the little room inside the bar at the King's Head, and again to a circle of respectable farmers and tradesmen in the Corn Market, that young Rowan had come down to the brewery and made his way into the brewery-house with a ready prepared plan for ruining him---him, the head of the firm,---he thought that he was telling the truth.

Trollope makes it clear, however, that Mrs Tappitt is activated chiefly by malice---and that her motivation is not primarily what we might expect, and might have been prepared (somewhat) to excuse.

Because it is not on behalf of her husband or her daughters that Mrs Tappitt conceives her own hatred of Luke, but because she has to date taken great pleasure in patronising Rachel:

Had there been no Augusta on whose behalf a hope had been possible, the predilection of the young moneyed stranger for such a girl as Rachel Ray would have been a grievance to such a woman as Mrs Tappitt. Had she not been looking down on Rachel Ray and despising her for the last ten years? Had she not been wondering among her friends, with charitable volubility, as to what that poor woman at Bragg's End was to do with her daughter? Had she not been regretting that the young girl should be growing up so big, and promising to look so coarse? Was it not natural that she should be miserable when she saw her taken in hand by Mrs Butler Cornbury, and made the heroine at her own party, to the detriment of her own daughters, by the fashionable lady in catching whom she had displayed so much unfortunate ingenuity? Under such circumstances how could she do other than hate Luke Rowan,---than believe him to be the very Mischief,---than prophesying all manner of bad things for Rachel,---and assist her husband tooth and nail in his animosity against the sinner?

This is not only malice, it is malice of a particularly damaging kind.

But t a piece of carelessness from Mr Griggs that does Luke the most harm (remembering, though, that he too has reason to bear a grudge, after he was cut out at the ball):

"He'll soon find where he'll be if he tries to undersell me," said young Griggs. "All the same, I hope he'll come back, because he has left a little bill at our place."

Now---as noted in >67 lyzard:, Trollope makes it quite clear in Chapter 10 that Luke has paid his bill (for the champagne served at the ball); and in fact Griggs learns his error shortly after this statement---but doesn't bother correcting it:

That wine had been ordered in some unusual way,---not at the regular counter, and in the same way the bill for it had been paid. ...

Trollope then gives us an object lesson in exactly how gossip spreads and grows:

In that affair of the champagne Rowan was most bitterly injured. He had ordered it, if not at the request, at least at the instigation of Mrs Tappitt;---and he had paid for it. When he left Baslehurst he owed no shilling to any man in it; and, indeed, he was a man by no means given to owing money to any one.


Griggs, when he made his assertion in the bar-room at the King's Head, had stated what he believed to be the truth. The next morning he chanced to hear that the account had been settled, but not, at the moment, duly marked off the books. As far as Griggs went that was the end of it. He did not again say that Rowan owed money to him; but he never contradicted his former assertion, and allowed the general report to go on,---that report which had been founded on his own first statement. Thus before Rowan had been a week out of the place it was believed all over the town that he had left unpaid bills behind him.

Bills, not bill.

And the next thing---

"I am told that young man is dreadfully in debt," said Mr Prong to Mrs Prime. At this time Mr Prong and Mrs Prime saw each other daily, and were affectionate in their intercourse,---with a serious, solemn affection; but affairs were by no means settled between them. That affection was, however, strong enough to induce Mr Prong to take a decided part in opposing the Rowan alliance. "They say he owes money all over the town."

Which of course leads to---

    But, in the mean time, she did agree with Mr Prong that Rowan's proper character should be made known to her mother, and with this view she went out to the cottage and whispered into Mrs Ray's astonished ears the fact that Luke was terribly in debt.
    "You don't say so!"
    "But I do say so, mother. Everybody in Baslehurst is talking about it."

Unfortunately, as we shall see presently, that "everybody" includes Mr Comfort---who as a minister ought to be practising a little more charity.

He should also know his congregation better than that...

Modifié : Déc 18, 2021, 6:58pm

Before we move on, we should note the revelations made about the local beer situation in Chapter 17 / Volume II Chapter 2.

We were puzzling over the success of Tappitt's beer up-thread (>68 MissWatson:. >69 lyzard:, >74 japaul22:) and we get answers of a sort here:

    But that idea of a rival brewery was distasteful to them all. Most of them knew that the beer was almost too bad to be swallowed; but they thought that Tappitt had a vested interest in the manufacture of bad beer;---that as a manufacturer of bad beer he was a fairly honest and useful man;---and they looked upon any change as the work, or rather the suggestion, of a charlatan.
    "This isn't Staffordshire," they said. "If you want beer like that you can buy it in bottles at Griggs'."

So from this we can deduce that Mr Tappitt sells barrels of his beer to the local pubs that cater mostly to working men; while Griggs and his father, who are the local wine-merchants catering to the gentry, import and stock bottles of a better quality beer for those households.

Mind you, none of this answers the fundamental question of why any customer ever buys Tappitt's beer!

(Anyone here have any insight into what we can only take to be a pot-shot at Staffordshire? Just county rivalry, Staffordshire's lack of interest in cider, or something more sinister??)

Modifié : Déc 18, 2021, 7:35pm

The other half of Chapter 17 / Volume II Chapter 2 deals with the upcoming election.

I'll be honest here: I'm not sure what Trollope intended us to take away here; and frankly, this business can be read in two very different ways.

We know that, sadly, Trollope sometimes did buy into the antisemitism that was very much prevalent in Victorian society: we see this most clearly in The Prime Minister, in the subplot of Ferdinand Lopez.

But though I might be choosing to overread here, this business about Mr Hart seems more like an exposé of how prejudice could be used to advantage, rather than an expression of prejudice---if that makes sense? That is, I don't get a sense here of Trollope agreeing with the things that are being said.

Mrs Butler Cornbury's pitch to Mr Tappitt seems to me a piece of calculated cynicism, rather than something she actually believes: she has calculated that an appeal to his prejudice against a Jewish candidate is her best chance of swaying Mr Tappitt from voting Liberal to voting Conservative; and she fails, not because she has misread him, but - perhaps being outside the Baslehurst gossip circle - she makes the fatal error of speaking the 'p'-word.

Mr Tappitt, conversely, though he has called Mr Hart "a low impudent Jew" in conversation with his wife, counters Mrs Cornbury's pitch in a way that may or may not be sincere: we know he resents Mr Cornbury, and prides himself upon his independence, and expresses both by refusing to display any prejudice:

    "I'm afraid I shall be called upon in honour to support my party," said Tappitt.
    "Exactly; but which is your party? Isn't the Protestant religion of your country your party? These people are creeping down into all parts of the kingdom, and where shall we be if leading men like you think more of shades of difference between liberal and conservative than of the fundamental truths of the Church of England? Would you depute a Jew to get up and speak your own opinions in your own vestry-room?"
    "That you wouldn't, T.," said Mrs Tappitt, who was rather carried away by Mrs. Cornbury's eloquence.
    "Not in a vestry, because it's joined on to a church," said Tappitt.
    "Or would you like a Jew to be mayor in Baslehurst;---a Jew in the chair where you yourself were sitting only three years ago?"
    "That wouldn't be seemly, because our mayor is expected to attend in church on Roundabout Sunday." Roundabout Sunday, so called for certain local reasons which it would be long to explain, followed immediately on the day of the mayor's inauguration.
    "Would you like to have a Jew partner in your own business?"
    Mrs Butler Cornbury should have said nothing to Mr Tappitt as to any partner in the brewery, Jew or Christian...

And then we get this:

There are many things which such a woman will do to gain such an object. She could smile when Tappitt was offensive; she could smile again when Mrs Tappitt talked like a kitchenmaid. She could flatter them both, and pretend to talk seriously with them about Jews and her own Church feelings.


"And him a gentleman!" said Tappitt. "If those are to be our gentlemen I'd sooner have all the Jews out of Jerusalem."

How do the rest of you read this section of the novel? I'd would really like to hear your takes on this.

Furthermore - and I say this with great regret, as something that pertains far to frequently here - we also get here an exposé of how often people vote on petty, selfish, personal grounds, rather than with regard to the greater good.

This is interesting from Trollope, because we know how passionately he felt about the English political system and the privilege of least in theory. Yet clearly he understood how often the system was abused, and how often votes were thrown away.

Here is Mr Tappitt in theory:

Mr Tappitt was a man who thought much of his local influence and local privileges, and was by no means disposed to make a promise of his vote on easy terms, at a moment when his vote was becoming of so much importance.

And here is Mr Tappitt in practice:

But we, who know Tappitt best, may declare now that his vote was to have been had by any one who would have joined him energetically in abuse of Luke Rowan.

And Mrs Butler Cornbury, of course, commits the fatal error of speaking enthusiastically about Luke and Rachel.

To her credit, though, it's in for a penny, in for a pound---or perhaps more correctly, the realisation that she may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb:

    But she could not give up the girl she had chaperoned, and upon whom, during that chaperoning, her good-will and kindly feelings had fallen. Rachel had pleased her eye, and gratified her sense of feminine nicety. She felt that a word said against Rowan would be a word said also against Rachel; and therefore, throwing her husband over for the nonce, she resolved to sacrifice the vote and stand up for her friend. "Well, yes; I do," said she, meeting Tappitt's eye steadily. She was not going to be looked out of countenance by Mr Tappitt.
    "She thinks he'll come back to marry that young woman at Bragg's End," said Mrs Tappitt; "but I say that he'll never dare to show his face in Baslehurst again."
    "That young woman is making a great fool of herself," said Tappitt, "if she trusts to a swindler like him."
    "Perhaps, Mrs Tappitt," said Mrs Cornbury, "we needn't mind discussing Miss Ray. It's not good to talk about a young lady in that way, and I'm sure I never said that I thought she was engaged to Mr. Rowan. Had I done so I should have been very wrong, for I know nothing about it. What little I saw of the gentleman I liked;" and as she used the word gentleman she looked Tappitt full in the face; "and for Miss Ray, I've a great regard for her, and think very highly of her."

Déc 18, 2021, 8:39pm

>106 lyzard: Apparently the Staffordshire reference was an acknowledgment that Staffordshire, specifically the town of Burton upon Trent, dominated the British beer industry. According to the entry "Brewers of Burton" in Wikipedia, "Burton upon Trent has a long history of brewing, at one time exporting beer throughout the world and accounting for a quarter of UK beer production; emulation of Burton water in brewing is called Burtonisation. Much of the town was given over to the industry throughout the 19th century and brewers dominated it politically and socially."

Déc 18, 2021, 8:40pm

>106 lyzard: Also, I think they bought the beer for the same reason they bought the dreadful dinner that's described one or two chapters later.

Déc 18, 2021, 10:18pm

>107 lyzard: I don't get a sense here of Trollope agreeing with the things that are being said.

I wondered about that as well, especially in light of Volume II, Chapter 10, where Trollope seems to be commenting on attitudes toward Jews in a way that seems like it might be his true opinion:

Strong love for the thing loved necessitates strong hatred for the thing hated, and thence comes the spirit of persecution. They in England who are now keenest against the Jews, who would again take from them rights that they have lately won, are certainly those who think most of the faith of a Christian.

I'm still not quite sure how to take it. I read it as both disapproval of and rationalization for the prejudices held against Jews.

I know I'm jumping ahead here, but it seems relevant to the question.

Déc 19, 2021, 1:31am

>106 lyzard:, >108 NinieB: My book's note indicates that "Burton-upon-Trent, in Staffordshire, was famous as the home of Bass ale, the most popular beer in Britain."

And, in fact, it is still the headquarters of the Bass Brewery today. There is another reference in the novel to "Bass", but I don't recall which Chapter/page. I think it was earlier than Chapter XVII.

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 2:07am

>110 cbl_tn: Yes, initially I was very uncomfortable with the attitudes expressed in Chapter XVII, but then that particular passage you've quoted in Chapter XXV/Volume II, Chapter 10 (which is clearly the narrator), made me think that it was Trollope's true opinion. Even more so from the two lines that follow:

The most deadly enemies of the Roman Catholics are they who love best their religion as Protestants. When we look to individuals, we always find it so, though it hardly suits us to admit as much when we discuss these subjects broadly.

Which reminded me of Trollope's generally positive attitudes about Catholics, and priests in particular, that we found in Castle Richmond. So it seems that Trollope is acknowledging religious prejudice as a "given", whether it is right or wrong. (Sort of re-stating in a different way what Liz said in >107 lyzard:.)

I also thought it was interesting that Trollope made Mr Hart the outsider, and it seems to me in other Trollope novels I've read (especially the Pallisers), Trollope does not particularly like "non-locals" (for lack of a better term) who run in a local election. So I'm wondering if the "Jewish question" was rolled up in an outsider (both by residence and by religion), to purposely blur the lines as to whether it's about being a Jew or about being a non-local, or perhaps more about being an outsider in general.

Déc 19, 2021, 4:26am

>108 NinieB:, >111 kac522:

Thank you both for posting that!

Whatever else we're taking away from Rachel Ray, we sure are learning a lot about 19th century brewing. :D

I wonder if Devonshire went for cider because Staffordshire went for beer, or whether it was just circumstantial?

BTW the reference to Bass is in Chapter 3:

    ...nevertheless Bungall and Tappitt had been brewers in Baslehurst for the last fifty years, and had managed to live out of their brewery.
    It is not to be supposed that they were great men like the mighty men of beer known of old,---such as Barclay and Perkins, or Reid and Co. Nor were they new, and pink, and prosperous, going into Parliament for this borough and that, just as they pleased, like the modern heroes of the bitter cask. When the student at Oxford was asked what man had most benefited humanity, and when he answered "Bass," I think that he should not have been plucked...

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 4:54am

Before we go any further with our discussion of (so to speak) "the Jewish question", I thought it might be helpful to have a bit of history to refer to.

Basically non-Protestants had long been barred from holding public office or sitting in Parliament---among other reasons, taking your seat required an anti-Catholic oath. These restrictrictions were gradually rolled back over the course of the 19th century.

Catholic Emancipation came first, with the Roman Catholic Relief Act passed in 1829, more or less as an aspect of the First Reform Bill. This removed pretty much all of the restrictions (except that against Catholic attendance at Oxford or Cambridge, which didn't happen until 1871).

Seeing this, there was a parallel push for Jewish Emancipation, but that was much more vigorously opposed, particularly in the House of Lords. However in 1846 the Religious Opinions Relief Act removed pretty much all restrictions except that against Jews sitting in Parliament---where new members were required to swear an oath using the words "on the true faith of a Christian". If you didn't take the oath, you couldn't vote.

There was an absurd situation wherein Lionel de Rothschild was elected again and again but couldn't take his seat. But it was David Salomons, who was elected for Greenwich, who eventually staged a protest by entering the House of Commons and refusing to leave even when ordered out by the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell.

(It is interesting, and relevant in context, that the voters of London clearly had no problem with Jewish candidates, in fact on the contrary.)

Salomons made an effective speech pleading for the removal of the barrier words from the oath. It didn't happen then, but it did trigger a long battle between the two houses, with the Commons willing to accommodate and the Lords refusing, over and over. A committee was finally established to negotiate the matter---and kudos to whoever had the bright idea of inviting Lionel de Rothschild to sit on it, which he could do, to underscore the senselessness of maintaining the barrier.

Finally the Jews Relief Act was passed in 1858, which permitted Jewish members to omit the words in question when taking their oath. Lionel de Rothschild subsequently became the first Jewish MP in July 1858, substituting the phrase "so help me Jehovah" when he took his oath.

So all of this was very new when Trollope was writing, and we can imagine that there was a pretty savage backlash in certain quarters, as he seems to be acknowledging in Rachel Ray.

Déc 19, 2021, 5:02am

I will leave further discussion of this point, I think, until we reach Chapter 25 / Volume II Chapter 10, but I will say this:

My first thought was to wonder how exactly a Jewish clothier from London ended up as the Liberal candidate for Baslehurst in Devonshire?

We're not given any reason to suppose that any corruption or chicanery was involved; moreover, it is clearly going to be a knife-edge election (hence Mr Tappitt's self-importance over his vote). Furthermore, it seems that the tradespeople and working-class men of Baslehurst don't object to a Jewish candidate---or at least, they object to a Conservative candidate more.

It may be as simple as Trollope wanting the clearest possible division between the Liberal and Conservative candidates - Jewish tradesman from London vs local gentry - or perhaps (in a distinctly non-political novel) he couldn't help touching on the recent events described in >114 lyzard:.

It does seem a bit odd, though.

Déc 19, 2021, 7:06am

When we looked at parliamentary systems way back in school, it was always pointed out that the English vote for someone who represents the people in the borough, and thus is responsible to the voters for defending local interests (as opposed to voting for parties and lists with a defined programme). So I think local affairs matter much more to them than the greater good of the nation. But this emphasis that the MP must have the interests of his electorate at heart sits oddly with the habit of parachuting in complete strangers. To me it feels as if this was a point Trollope was trying to make here.

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 7:52pm

I will admit that I just really don't enjoy when books from this (or any) era include unabashed prejudice. I think that trying to parse out "true intentions" is sort of splitting hairs at this point. I suppose it's good for me to understand what things were like then, but it's not pleasant to read.

So I admit to not reading closely through some of this because I just would rather not engage with it. It's too bad, because otherwise I really like this book. I love the "beer talk", Rowan's entrepreneurship and treatment of Rachel as a partner, the relationship between the Rays - mother and sisters, and the community drama. I'm just bummed that anti-semitism was an accepted part of life at this time.

I suppose in a way it makes me think about where we are now and why our societies always seem to need an "other". So it's valuable to think about.

I will likely need to come back and edit this a bit . . .

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 4:48pm

>116 MissWatson:

Except that it was a common practice that people still took for granted in spite of the various reforms to the system, and which Trollope has dealt with elsewhere both positively (e.g. Phineas Finn being gifted a seat by Lord Brentford in Phineas Finn) and negatively (e.g. George Vavasor standing for a London borough despite knowing and caring nothing for its issues, in Can You Forgive Her?).

The question here, of why (and how) this particular parachute candidate, is never addressed.

British MPs were and are expected to represent their constituents on local issues as well as dealing with national governance (perhaps more like American Congressmen or Senators?). Though it wasn't uncommon for someone to be elected on a platform of addressing a certain issue and then be unable to do anything about it in practice (or even not trying to).

Déc 19, 2021, 5:32pm

>117 japaul22:

And that is a perfectly legitimate and understandable response.

But while I certainly don't "want" this material, I think it is an important historical truth that we need to keep in plain sight---as opposed to historical novels that give their characters overly modern sensibilities, or publishers editing out derogatory language. I think that sort of whitewashing is dishonest and ultimately much more damaging than the reality, however ugly that might be.

I disagree, though, with what you say about "parsing out the true intentions". That to me is the important part of it---figuring out what that reality was and what people really did think and feel on various issues. That's one big reason why I read "old books" instead of historical novels dealing with the same era.

For the most part I don't find any editorialisation from Trollope in this subplot of Rachel Ray: I think he was addressing the change to the laws and showing that there were a range of opinions---that some people were genuinely outraged, that some didn't care, that some were pragmatic; that there was no one response.

That said, I think he does something absolutely critical in Chapter 18 / Volume II Chapter 3.

Overtly this offers some of the nastiest material in the novel - BUT - look what Trollope does with that:

He juxtaposes the antisemitism of Dr Harford, Mr Comfort and the Cornburys with Dr Harford's mental denunciation of Mr Prong---

But perhaps hatred of Mr Prong was the strongest passion of Dr Harford's heart at the present moment. He had ever hated the dissenting ministers by whom he was surrounded. In Devonshire dissent has waxed strong for many years, and the pastors of the dissenting flocks have been thorns in the side of the Church of England clergymen. Dr Harford had undergone his full share of suffering from such thorns. But they had caused him no more than a pleasant irritation in comparison with what he endured from the presence of Mr Prong in Baslehurst. He would sooner have entertained all the dissenting ministers of the South Hams together than have put his legs under the same mahogany with Mr Prong. Mr Prong was to him the evil thing! Anathema! He believed all bad things of Mr. Prong with an absolute faith, but without any ground on which such faith should have been formed. He thought that Mr. Prong drank spirits; that he robbed his parishioners;---Dr Harford would sooner have lost his tongue than have used such a word with reference to those who attended Mr Prong's chapel;---that he had left a deserted wife on some parish; that he was probably not in truth ordained. There was nothing which Dr Harford could not believe of Mr Prong...

---and with the local gossip about Luke:

     "I believe that fellow is a scamp," said the doctor.
     "I hope not," said Mr Comfort, thinking of Rachel and her hopes.
     "We all hope he isn't, of course," said the doctor. "But we can't prevent men being scamps by hoping. There are other scamps in this town in whom, if my hoping would do any good, a very great change would be made."---Everybody present knew that the doctor alluded especially to Mr Prong, whose condition, however, if the doctor's hopes could have been carried out, would not have been enviable.---"But I fear this fellow Rowan is a scamp, and I think he has treated Tappitt badly. Tappitt told me all about it only this morning."
     "Audi alteram partem," said Mr Comfort.
     "The scamp's party you mean," said the doctor. "I haven't the means of doing that. If in this world we suspend our judgment till we've heard all that can be said on both sides of every question, we should never come to any judgment at all. I hear that he's in debt; I believe he behaved very badly to Tappitt himself, so that Tappitt was forced to use personal violence to defend himself; and he has certainly threatened to open a new brewery here. Now that's bad, as coming from a young man related to the old firm."
     "I think he should leave the brewery alone," said Mr Comfort.
     "Of course he should," said the doctor. "And I hear, moreover, that he is playing a wicked game with a girl in your parish."

And look at the language he puts into---well, the thoughts, if not the words, or Dr Harford: hatred, evil, anathema.

(---the same terms that Dorothea applied to Luke, just to underscore how unjust he is being---)

This ties into the quote that Kathy has already highlighted from Chapter 25 / Volume II Chapter 10:

Strong love for the thing loved necessitates strong hatred for the thing hated, and thence comes the spirit of persecution. They in England who are now keenest against the Jews, who would again take from them rights that they have lately won, are certainly those who think most of the faith of a Christian. The most deadly enemies of the Roman Catholics are they who love best their religion as Protestants. When we look to individuals we always find it so, though it hardly suits us to admit as much when we discuss these subjects broadly.

This strikes me as observation, not approval: They in England, not We in England, you notice. And isn't this exactly what we still see today? - that religion is so often used as an excuse, or a vehicle, for hatred and bigotry and discrimination, rather than being what it should be? So much for loving your enemies.

But in terms of just this novel---that dinner-table conversation, and the jumbling together of three different kinds of prejudice, is to me Trollope putting them on equal terms, and showing that all three - the antisemitism of these "gentlemen", Dr Harford's unchristian hatred of Mr Prong, and Baslehurst's willingness to think evil of Luke, the outsider - are all on a level, and all equally ill-founded, false and cruel.

Which is why I think parsing this stuff is important. :)

Déc 19, 2021, 5:33pm

...and now I'm going to have a bit of a lie-down... :D

Déc 19, 2021, 6:21pm

>120 lyzard: Well deserved!

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 6:50pm

>117 japaul22: Jennifer, I completely understand how you feel. I would say that as Liz points out in >119 lyzard:, Trollope is trying to show various sides of the question, which for the time, was a major step. There are authors from the 20th century that don't even come this far; even Agatha Christie has some blatant anti-semitism in some of her books.

The other thing for me is to realize that this was written in 1863--put that in U.S. terms, and we were fighting a war about enslaving human beings, and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was highly controversial and a huge step, but hardly touched the surface of the problem, which (like religious prejudice) we're still dealing with today.

Also as women, we acknowledge when female characters are treated in a stereotypical way, and work hard to find some inklings of a more enlightened point of view. If we were to only read books (by both men AND women) prior to the mid-20th century that seriously acknowledged that women are equal to men, we could probably count those books on one hand.

Déc 19, 2021, 7:05pm

Alas, where I live (deep bible belt) I hear the same prejudices nearly daily. So I can hardly fault Trollope for pointing them out. Upsetting as these prejudices are, we'll never get rid of them if we are afraid to confront them, including exploring their past.

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 7:54pm

>119 lyzard: Great post!

I completely agree that reading the words of the era rather than historical fiction is immensely important. And I also do like discovering all the intricacies of opinion that are being included in this book (and others) through the various characters and situations. That's why I do continue to read from various eras and regions even though it's sometimes very uncomfortable. And why I love your group reads so I can get more background info. (I also think often about what I accept that in 50 or a 100 years will be judged as harshly as I judge attitudes from past eras now!!) As you know I've read a lot of Trollope, so I know that he doesn't lightly throw in anti-semitism and I feel that when he includes difficult topics it is for a reason and to make some sort of point. So I keep reading him and learn a bit each time.

I think that I can't imagine ever truly knowing what Trollope himself thought and that's what I meant when I said that trying to parse out true intentions is not really possible. He's so clever about throwing in many different opinions AND differing reactions to the opinions AND then throwing in an authorial voice AND writing so many books, that I don't feel I'll ever know exactly what he thought and I don't think that matters to me.

>119 lyzard: "Strong love for the thing loved necessitates strong hatred for the thing hated, and thence comes the spirit of persecution. They in England who are now keenest against the Jews, who would again take from them rights that they have lately won, are certainly those who think most of the faith of a Christian. The most deadly enemies of the Roman Catholics are they who love best their religion as Protestants. When we look to individuals we always find it so, though it hardly suits us to admit as much when we discuss these subjects broadly.

This strikes me as observation, not approval: They in England, not We in England, you notice. And isn't this exactly what we still see today? - that religion is so often used as an excuse, or a vehicle, for hatred and bigotry and discrimination, rather than being what it should be? So much for loving your enemies."

I had the exact same reaction as you did to this passage.

And, I've finished the book and really enjoyed it overall.

I liked how long Trollope made us wait to know what Luke Rowan was feeling about Rachel's letter.

Déc 19, 2021, 7:32pm


The other thing that Chapter 18 / Volume II Chapter 3 does is highlight the fact that, much as they like to deny it, men are SHOCKING GOSSIPS. :D

Déc 19, 2021, 7:47pm

>122 kac522:

put that in U.S. terms, and we were fighting a war about enslaving human beings

Oh Kathy, that is a devastating observation!

I may say that as a fairly unreligious (as opposed to irreligious!) person, antisemitism is the prejudice I've always found hardest to understand. But it was so embedded and ingrained in England, most people genuinely didn't recognise it as a prejudice: it was just what everyone "naturally" felt. It was as if they didn't or couldn't see it for what it was.

And if we take immediate examples, both Trollope and Dickens were called out at various times over their Jewish characters, and both were horrified to discover that they had hurt and offended people with their depictions. (And both reacted by creating overtly good Jewish characters in later novels, with greater or lesser degrees of success.)

So the very fact that Trollope steps back here and takes a look at the range of prevailing attitudes and the reasons for them is important, I think.

>123 majkia:

Agreed, Jean!

>124 japaul22:

Thank you! I'm very glad you think so, because I wasn't at all sure I was making the points that were in my head---that dreadful gap between the brain and the fingers! :D

Modifié : Déc 19, 2021, 7:58pm

>125 lyzard: I wasn't at all sure I was making the points that were in my head---that dreadful gap between the brain and the fingers!

I'm feeling the exact same way! I can't seem to verbalize (in writing) what I feel about this.

Déc 19, 2021, 8:00pm

>126 lyzard: And if we take immediate examples, both Trollope and Dickens were called out at various times over their Jewish characters, and both were horrified to discover that they had hurt and offended people with their depictions. (And both reacted by creating overtly good Jewish characters in later novels, with greater or lesser degrees of success.)

I don't think I knew that.

Déc 19, 2021, 10:51pm

>128 japaul22:

Dickens didn't invent any of them, but Fagin in Oliver Twist is basically a crystallisation of every prevailing negative Jewish stereotype, and fed into the existing antisemitism of the time. The British Jewish community found it extremely hurtful and offensive; and there was a famous article in The Jewish Chronicle in 1854 that asked, "Why Jews alone should be excluded from the 'sympathizing heart' of this great author and powerful friend of the oppressed."

A woman called Eliza Davis began writing to Dickens directly on the matter and they had a lengthy correspondence that has since been published. He argued that Fagin was a portrait of a real person who was Jewish, and that he meant nothing against Jews generally - "I have no feeling towards the Jews but a friendly one. I always speak well of them, whether in public or private, and bear my testimony (as I ought to do) to their perfect good faith in such transactions as I have ever had with them" - whereas as she argued back that such characters - or caricatures - "Encouraged a vile prejudice against the despised Hebrew", and that they did the Jewish people "a great wrong." She finally convinced him to the extent that he edited later editions of Oliver Twist to tone down Fagin's "Jewishness" and to remove at least some of the many references to him simply as "the Jew". Later he included the character of Mr Riah in Our Mutual Friend, an honest man who speaks out against antisemitism, and who helps Lizzie Hexham and Jennie Wren.

With Trollope the matter is more complicated, since - as we've seen encapsulated in Rachel Ray - he had a range of Jewish characters and expressed a range of opinions about them. As is clear in The Prime Minister, he was hostile towards so-called "crypto-Jews" - people passing as not Jewish - and this may have fed into his dislike of Disraeli. He had a tendency to imply that someone was Jewish rather than saying so outright when he wanted to criticise them (which he does with respect to the late Max Goesler, before he revised his intentions for Madame Max!). A more blatant and offensive example is Mr Emilius in The Eustace Diamonds and Phineas Redux, who is obviously meant to be Jewish even though he's a clergyman. (An Evangelical clergyman, of course!) The implication seems to be that it wasn't Jewishness that bothered him so much someone pretending to be other than what they were.

There's no-one like Fagin in Trollope's novels, but there's enough nasty stereotyping and language to have attracted the same sort of criticism; and he too received letters protesting his depiction of Jews. He didn't react quite as Dickens did, but there is a greater tendency to treat his subsequent Jewish characters as real people...although the issue never went away, giving us (for example) The Way We Live Now, in which there are all sorts of nasty hints about the background of the financier Melmotte, and Mr Breghert, a thoroughly nice and honest Jewish man who is treated shamefully by the novel's high-society Christians: a subplot that is clearly intended to criticise their prejudice!

It's enough to do your head in! :D

Déc 19, 2021, 10:54pm


It's probably time to get back on track with the main narrative of Rachel Ray. I'll pick up the main narrative in my next posts.

However, don't let this discourage anyone from posting if there are more thoughts you'd like to share.

Déc 20, 2021, 7:51am

>129 lyzard: So interesting, thanks for posting. All of this does give a lot of context to anti-Jewish writing that has bothered me in many books/authors. And helps to temper some of my reaction.

Club Read is doing a Victorian era theme this year and I'll be interested to see if this topic comes up!

Déc 20, 2021, 5:55pm

>131 japaul22:

I'm glad it was helpful, you know me when I start banging on... :D

Déc 20, 2021, 6:20pm

The other critical point of the dinner-table gossip in Chapter 18 / Volume II Chapter 3 is that we know Mr Comfort has bought into the local condemnation of Luke before Mrs Ray consults him over Luke's letter.

We are not, therefore, surprised at the negative outcome of this consultation, in Chapter 19 / Volume II Chapter 4.

What is interesting here is the account Trollope gives us of Mrs Ray's inner thought processes---particularly her unacknowledged but growing exasperation over the way that Mr Comfort totally contradicts what he said at their last consultation:

Mrs Ray could not quite repress in her heart a slight feeling of anger against the vicar. She remembered the words,---so different not only in their meaning, but in the tone in which they were spoken,---in which he had sanctioned Rachel's going to the ball: "Young people get to think of each other," he had then said, speaking with good-humoured, cheery voice, as though such thinking were worthy of all encouragement. He had spoken then of marriage being the happiest condition for both men and women, and had inquired as to Rowan's means. Every word that had then fallen from him had expressed his opinion that Luke Rowan was an eligible lover. But now he was named as though he were undoubtedly a wolf. Why had not Mr Comfort said then, at that former interview, when no harm had as yet been done, that it would be desirable to know more of the young man before any encouragement was given to him? Mrs Ray felt that she was injured...


    "I'm afraid not, Mrs Ray. They were talking about him last night in Baslehurst, and I'm afraid he has behaved badly at the brewery. There were words between him and Mr Tappitt,---very serious words."
    "Yes; I know that. He told Rachel as much as that. I think he said he was going to law with Mr Tappitt."
    "And if so, the chances are that he may never be seen here again. It's ill coming to a place where one is quarrelling with people. And as to the lawsuit, it seems to me, from what I hear, that he would certainly lose it. No doubt he has a considerable property in the brewery; but he wants to be master of everything, and that can't be reasonable, you know. And then, Mrs Ray, there's worse than that behind."
    "Worse than that!" said Mrs Ray, in whose heart every gleam of comfort was quickly being extinguished by darkening shadows.
    "They tell me that he has gone away without paying his debts. If that is so, it shows that his means cannot be very good." Then why had Mr Comfort taken upon himself expressly to say that they were good at that interview before Mrs Tappitt's party? That was the thought in the widow's mind at the present moment...

Unfortunately Mrs Ray is incapable of accepting that this means that neither piece of Mr Comfort's advice should be listened to. Swayed as always by the last speaker, and aware that she committed herself by foisting her own responsibility for Rachel onto the clergymen, she - and much more importantly, Rachel - are stuck with the negative verdict.

Meanwhile---Trollope gives us the first intimation of one of this novel's most enjoyable touches.

We know that one of the most serious points against the Rays socially is their intimacy with Mr and Mrs Sturt, the farmers next door (as if they have a choice!); yet as the narrative unfolds we will find the Sturts proving worthy and sturdy friends---and what;s more, showing themselves much smarter and shrewder than the mean-spirited gossips in Baslehurst; Mrs Sturt in particular is a delight:

    "Mr Comfort has been with mamma,---about business; and as I didn't want to be in the way I just came over to you."
    "Thou art welcome, as flowers in May, morning or evening; but thee knowest that, girl. As for Mr Comfort,---it's cold comfort he is, I always say. It's little I think of what clergymen says, unless it be out of the pulpit or the like of that. What does they know about lads and lasses?"
    "He's a very old friend of mamma's."
    "Old friends is always best, I'll not deny that. But, look thee here, my girl; my man's an old friend too. He's know'd thee since he lifted thee in his arms to pull the plums off that bough yonder; and he's seen thee these ten years a deal oftener than Mr Comfort. If they say anything wrong of thy joe there, tell me, and Sturt 'll find out whether it be true or no. Don't let e'er a parson in Devonshire rob thee of thy sweetheart. It's passing sweet, when true hearts meet. But it breaks the heart, when true hearts part." With the salutary advice contained in these ancient local lines Mrs Sturt put her arms round Rachel, and having kissed her, bade her go.

But even though she is justly hurt and angry, Rachel feels obliged to obey her mother, even as Mrs Ray feels obliged to obey Mr Comfort.

Which makes me wonder: is this really a novel about thinking for yourself?

Modifié : Déc 20, 2021, 6:32pm

>133 lyzard: One of the things I love about this novel is Mrs Ray and how, as you say, she seems to be influenced by the last person's opinion. I found this frustrating, but at the same time such a wonderful character portrayal by Trollope; it felt like a real person. So when the few times she does speak her own mind, I was cheering her on!

This novel is more about the parents and adult community, than it is about the two lovers.

Déc 20, 2021, 7:34pm

>133 lyzard: Mrs Ray reminds me of several women I know. Brought up to doubt their own decision making ability, they vacillate and end up non-deciding, or choosing the last bit of advice they've solicited.

Trollope uses young people and romantic entanglements a lot. But the books are about so much more than that.

Déc 20, 2021, 8:17pm

Following on from my last point in >133 lyzard:, it occurs to me that both mothers, Mrs Ray and Mrs Rowan, are wrong; differently, but both wrong.

However, Luke is under no obligation to listen to his mother and just laughs off what she says to him; whereas Rachel is obliged to listen to hers, even though she knows doing so will probably wreck her life.

How infuriating is that?

(There's a further point I want to add here, but that's for later.)

>134 kac522:

It's about the extent to which parents and the community think they have the right to interfere with the young lovers, anyway. :)

>134 kac522:, >135 majkia:

Yes, she's frustratingly real!

Modifié : Déc 20, 2021, 8:44pm

Towards the end of Chapter 19 / Volume II Chapter 4, we have Rachel's realisation of what the effect of writing such a letter to Luke as she is now compelled to write is likely to be, and the injustice (and indeed dishonesty) of writing in such a way.

Perhaps most painful of all is Rachel's sense that she, herself, has nothing - and is nothing - that will bring Luke back (which is also clearly apparent when she does finally write to him):

    "But Rachel, my darling,---what can we do? If he has gone away we cannot make him come back again."
    "But he wrote almost immediately."
    "And you are going to answer it;---are you not?"
    "Yes;---but what sort of an answer, mamma? How can I expect that he will ever want to see me again when I have written to him in that way? I won't say anything about hoping that he's very well. If I may not tell him that he's my own, own, own Luke, and that I love him with all my heart, I'll bid him stay away and not trouble himself any further. I wonder what he'll think of me when I write in that way!"
    "If he's constant-hearted he'll wait a while and then he'll come back again."
    "Why should he come back when I've treated him in that way? What have I got to give him?"

This is also interesting in the context of the 19th century debate over how a young woman is "supposed" to respond to a proposal: if she "should" say 'no' at first so as not to seem over-eager...and the whole pernicious no-means-yes argument, which certainly hasn't gone away. Recall this from Mrs Rowan:

    "But what's a young lady to do? How's she to know whether a young man is in earnest, or whether he's only going lengths, as you call it?" Mrs Ray's eyes were still moist with tears; and, I grieve to say that though, as far as immediate words are concerned, she was fighting Rachel's battle not badly, still the blows of the enemy were taking effect upon her. She was beginning to wish that Luke Rowan had never been seen, or his name heard, at Bragg's End.
    "I think it's quite understood in the world," said Mrs. Rowan, "that a young lady is not to take a gentleman at his first word."

Déc 20, 2021, 8:46pm

In Chapter 19 / Volume II Chapter 4, Trollope deals chiefly with Rachel's state of mind as she tries to work herself up to actually writing.

Rachel spends the first half of this novel smothering or denying or running away from her feelings, but there's no hiding from herself now:

The stile, at any rate, was the same, and there were the trees beneath which they had stood. There were the rich fields, lying beneath her, over which they two had gazed together at the fading lights of the evening. There was no arm in the clouds now, and the perverse sun was retiring to his rest without any of that royal pageantry and illumination with which the heavens are wont to deck themselves when their king goes to his couch. But Rachel, though she had come thither to look for these things and had not found them, hardly marked their absence. Her mind became so full of him and of his words, that she required no outward signs to refresh her memory. She thought so much of his look on that evening, of the tones of his voice, and of every motion of his body, that she soon forgot to watch the clouds. She sat herself down upon the stile with her face turned away from the fields, telling herself that she would listen for the footsteps of strangers, so that she might move away if any came near her; but she soon forgot also to listen, and sat there thinking of him alone. The words that had been spoken between them on that occasion had been but trifling,---very few and of small moment; but now they seemed to her to have contained all her destiny. It was there that love for him had first come upon her---had come over her with broad outspread wings like an angel; but whether as an angel of darkness or of light, her heart had then been unable to perceive. How well she remembered it all; how he had taken her by the hand, claiming the right of doing so as an ordinary farewell greeting; and how he had held her, looking into her face, till she had been forced to speak some word of rebuke to him! "I did not think you would behave like that," she had said. But yet at that very moment her heart was going from her...

Rachel at least contemplates rebellion; though for a variety of reasons (some of them exasperating), she knows it will come to nothing.

And finally, she does write:

    I shall not forget you, and I will always be your friend, as you said I should be. Being friends is very different to anything else, and nobody can say that I may not do that.
    I will always remember what you showed me in the clouds; and, indeed, I went there this very evening to see if I could see another arm. But there was nothing there, and I have taken that as an omen that you will not come back to Baslehurst...

Déc 20, 2021, 8:52pm

Through all this, there have been two tiny rays of light. Rachel is getting no help at all from her family, but she does have two staunch allies---as different as they could be but, as it later turns out, equally useful!

This, from Mrs Sturt, in Chapter 18 / Volume II Chapter 3:

"If they say anything wrong of thy joe there, tell me, and Sturt'll find out whether it be true or no. Don't let e'er a parson in Devonshire rob thee of thy sweetheart..."

And this, from Mrs Cornbury, in Chapter 20 / Volume II Chapter 5:

    "But, Rachel, look here, dear." And Mrs Cornbury almost whispered into her ear across the side of the pony carriage. "Don't you believe quite all you hear. I'll find out the truth, and you shall know. Good-bye."
    "Good-bye, Mrs Cornbury," said Rachel, pressing her friend's hand as she parted from her. This allusion to her lover had called a blush up over her whole face, so that Mrs Cornbury well knew that she had been understood. "I'll see to it," she said, driving away her ponies.

Modifié : Déc 20, 2021, 8:58pm

That's a terrible thing to wish upon anyone, even Mr Prong!

Chapter 21 / Volume II Chapter 6

This was complimentary to Mrs Ray; but with her peculiar feelings as to the expediency of people having their own belongings, she almost thought that it would have been better for all parties if Mr Prong had gone to Geelong with the rest of the Prong family...

Modifié : Déc 21, 2021, 3:58pm

Nothing remotely funny about this, however:

Chapter 21 / Volume II Chapter 6:

She barely rested in the churchyard, and then walked on between the elms at a quick pace, with a heart sore,---sore almost to breaking. She would never have been brought to this condition had not her mother told her that she might love him! Thence came her vexation of spirit. There was the cruelty. All the world knew that this man had been her lover;---all her world knew it. Cherry Tappitt had sung her little witless song about it. Mrs Tappitt had called at the cottage about it. Mr Comfort had given his advice about it. Mrs Cornbury had whispered to her about it out of her pony carriage. Mrs Sturt had counselled her about it. Mr Prong had thought it very wrong on her part to love the man. Mr Sturt had thought it very right, and had offered his assistance. All this would have been as nothing had her lover remained to her. Cherry might have sung till her little throat was tired, and Mr Prong might have expressed his awe with outspread hands, and have looked as though he expected the skies to fall. Had her Paradise not been closed to her, all this talking would have been a thing of course. But such talking,---such wide-spread knowledge of her condition, with the gates of her Paradise closed against her, was very hard to bear! And who had closed the gates? Her own hands had done it...

(This also emphasises how stiflingly narrow Rachel's "world" is.)

Déc 21, 2021, 3:23am

>134 kac522: Well said!

Déc 21, 2021, 3:27am

>141 lyzard: A heroine pining away in solitude is often found in 19th century novels and it always makes me furious. But here I understood for the first time that she doesn't have any other options and is literally trapped, and how this translates into physical sickness.

Modifié : Déc 21, 2021, 4:22pm

>143 MissWatson:

I'm glad you said that because I was going to comment on that too.

As you say, these scenes are common enough, and this one is particularly convincing; but the thing that enrages me is the calm acceptance of it. There is rarely any suggestion that a woman OUGHT to have options, or that she OUGHT to have something else to think about. It's even presented as "properly feminine" for a girl to make herself sick like this.

Noting, though, that Trollope wrote Rachel Ray in the wake of The Small House At Allington, which offers the first half of his depiction of Lily Dale, who he famously described as being "unable to get over her troubles". Lily's case is very different in its causes, but the juxtaposition indicates that he was interested in the psychology of his heroines' reactions---comparing an at-fault situation to a no-fault one here.

Modifié : Déc 21, 2021, 4:50pm

As Jean intimates in >143 MissWatson:, Chapter 21 / Volume II Chapter 6 offers a painfully detailed description of Rachel's suffering in the face of Luke's silence:

During the whole of these six weeks she did her household duties; but gradually she became slower in them and still more slow, and her mother knew that her disappointment was becoming the source of permanent misery. Rachel never said that she was ill; nor, indeed, of any special malady did she show signs: but gradually she became thin and wan, her cheeks assumed a haggard look, and that aspect of the brow which her mother feared had become habitual to her...

What is interesting and unusual here is Rachel's passive-aggressive punishment of her mother. She never complains and never criticises; but she has withdrawn herself and all her little acts of kindness:

In those days she was ever silent and stern. She did all that her mother bade her, but she did little or nothing from love. There were no more banquets, with clotted cream brought over from Mrs Sturt's...


...on such occasions as these Mrs Ray found that her speech was stopped by the expression of Rachel's eyes, and by those two lines which on such occasions would mark her forehead. In those days Mrs Ray became afraid of her younger daughter,---almost more so than she had ever been afraid of the elder one. Rachel, indeed, never spoke as Mrs Prime would sometimes speak. No word of scolding ever passed her mouth; and in all that she did she was gentle and observant. But there was ever on her countenance that look of reproach which by degrees was becoming almost unendurable...

Rachel's unspoken "reproach" is very different from the dutifully uncritical way that most authors have their girls react in such a situation---and much more believable.

Though of course Rachel is self-punishing too, by cutting herself off from everything; though in that there is also her consciousness that everyone else knows her business (as per >141 lyzard:); hence she only speaks to Mrs Sturt.

Mrs Ray gets a short reprieve when she has to go to Exeter on business - with Rachel refusing to go with her - but her relief is short-lived, when she has a painfully ambiguous encounter with Luke Rowan:

    During all this time not a word had been said about Rachel. He had not even asked after her in the ordinary way in which men ask after their ordinary acquaintance. He had not looked as though he were in the least embarrassed in speaking to Rachel's mother, and now it seemed as though he were going away, as though all had been said between them that he cared to say. Mrs Ray at the first moment had dreaded any special word; but now, as he was about to leave her, she felt disappointed that no special word had been spoken. But he was not as yet gone.
    "I literally haven't a minute to spare," he said, offering her his hand for a second time; "for I've two or three people to see before I get to the train."
    "Good-bye," said Mrs Ray.
    "Good-bye, Mrs Ray. I don't think I've been very well treated among you. I don't indeed. But I won't say any more about that at present. Is she quite well?"
    "Pretty well, thank you," said she, all of a tremble.
    "I won't send her any message. As things are at present, no message would be of any service. Good-bye." And so saying he went from her.

Of course Mrs Ray is unable to keep from revealing this encounter to Rachel; though their reactions to it are quite different:

    Mrs Ray had been looking away from Rachel during this conversation,---had been purposely looking away from her. But now there was a tone of agony in her child's voice which forced her to glance round. Ah me! She beheld so piteous an expression of woe in Rachel's face that her whole heart was melted within her, and she began to wish instantly that they might have Rowan back again with all his faults.
    "Tell me the truth, mamma; I may as well know it."
    "Well, my dear, he didn't mention your name, but he did say a word about you."
    "What word, mamma?"
    "He said he would send no message because it would be no good."
    "He said that, did he?"
    "Yes, he said that. And so I suppose he meant it would be no good sending anything till he came himself."
    "No, mamma; he didn't mean quite that. I understand what he meant..."

Does she? Or is Mrs Ray right? - as she sometimes is in her immediate responses.

Actually---in terms of the society depicted, the fact that Luke doesn't use Rachel's name - that he simply says "she" - is highly significant.

We might also care to note something Mrs Ray doesn't mention: his use of the phrase at present...

Déc 21, 2021, 5:15pm

Though Rachel's personal situation doesn't improve, in Chapter 22 / Volume II Chapter 7 we see things begin to shift for Luke.

In the previous chapter, we have a report of an awkward conversation between Mrs Ray and her agent, Mr Goodall, respecting Luke's purchase of the cottages at Baslehurst:

    Young Rowan, she told her friend, had been at the cottage more than once, but no mention had been made of his desire to buy these cottages. Was he well spoken of in Baslehurst? Well;---she was so little in Baslehurst that she hardly knew. She had heard that he had quarrelled with Mr Tappitt, and she believed that many people had said that he was wrong in his quarrel. She knew nothing of his property; but certainly had heard somebody say that he had gone away without paying his debts. It may easily be conceived how miserable and ineffective she would be under this cross-examination, although it was made by Mr Goodall without any allusion to Rachel.
    "At any rate we have got our money," said Mr Goodall; "and I suppose that's all we care about. But I should say he's rather a harum-scarum sort of fellow. Why he should leave his debts behind him I can't understand, as he seems to have plenty of money."

Well, yes. Funny that.

The perspective of the narrative then shifts to the Tappitts, who are getting no good news from their lawyer, Mr Honyman, regarding their legal and financial standing with respect to the brewery.

The focus is chiefly on Mr Tappitt's growing rage and frustration, but above all we should note this passing remark about Mrs Tappitt:

And Mrs Tappitt, when cool reflection came on her, had begun to dread the ruin which it seemed possible that terrible young man might inflict upon them. She had learned already, though Mrs Ray had not, how false had been that report which had declared Luke Rowan to be frivolous, idle, and in debt...

So the social isolation of the Rays leaves them mired in their misery, even as the wave of gossip about Luke recedes in Baslehurst.

Déc 21, 2021, 5:23pm

Chapter 22 / Volume II Chapter 7 also offers some fabulous dialogue from the female Tappitts---reminding us of Kathy's comparison (>75 kac522:) with the Three Little Maids From School.

Mrs Tappitt, however, needs a hard smack around the head:

    "I don't know what's come over your papa," she began by saying. "He seems quite beside himself to-day."
    "I think he is troubled about Mr Rowan and this lawsuit," said the sagacious Martha.
    "Nasty man! I wish he'd never come near the place," said Augusta.
    "I don't know that he's very nasty either," said Cherry. "We all liked him when he was staying here."
    "But to be so false to papa!" said Augusta. "I call it swindling, downright swindling."
    "One should know and understand all about it before one speaks in that way," said Martha. "I dare say it is very vexatious to papa; but after all perhaps Mr Rowan may have some right on his side."
    "I don't know about right," said Mrs Tappitt. "I don't think he can have any right to come and set himself up here in opposition, as one may say, to the very ghost of his own uncle. I agree with Augusta, and think it is a very dirty thing to do."
    "Quite shameful," said Augusta, indignantly.
    "But if he has got the law on his side," continued Mrs Tappitt, "it's no good your papa trying to go against that. Where should we be if we were to lose everything and be told to pay more money than your papa has got? It wouldn't be very pleasant to be turned out of the house."
    "I don't think he'd ever do it," said Cherry.
    "I declare, Cherry, I think you are in love with the man," said Augusta.
    "If I ain't I know who was," said Cherry.
    "As for love," said Mrs Tappitt, "we all know who is in love with him,---nasty little sly minx! In the whole matter nothing makes me so angry as to think that she should have come here to our dance."
    "That was Cherry's doing," said Augusta. This remark Cherry noticed only by a grimace addressed specially to her sister...


    "That can't be settled quite yet. It must be somewhere near, so that your papa might keep an eye on the concern, and know that it was going all right. Perhaps Torquay would be the best place."
    "Torquay would be delicious," said Cherry.
    "And would that man come and live at the brewery?" said Augusta.
    "Of course he would, if he pleased," said Martha.
    "And bring Rachel Ray with him as his wife?" said Cherry.
    "He'll never do that," said Mrs Tappitt with energy.
    "Never; never!" said Augusta,---with more energy.

But funny as much of this is, it underscores the point made in >146 lyzard:: that everyone knows what Rachel's prospects are .

Déc 22, 2021, 5:21am

Chapter 23 / Volume II Chapter 8 deals with the turning of the tide, in respect of Luke's reputation:

I'll say this for the people of Baslehurst: when they do something, they do it thoroughly:

It came to pass speedily that Luke Rowan was expected to build a new brewery, and that the event of the first brick was looked for with anxious expectation. And that false report which had spread itself through Baslehurst respecting him and his debts had taken itself off. It had been banished by a contrary report; and there now existed in Baslehurst a very general belief that Rowan was a man of means,---of very considerable means,---a man of substantial capital, whom to have settled in the town would be very beneficial to the community...

The news has finally reached Mrs Ray---

...but of what avail was it then? She had desired her daughter to treat the young man as a wolf, and as a wolf he had been hounded off from her little sheep-cot. She heard now that he was expected back at Baslehurst;---that he was a wealthy man; that he was thought well of in the town; that he was going to do great things. With what better possible husband could any young woman have been blessed? And yet she had turned him away from her cottage...

The upshot of this is Mrs Ray's belated acceptance of her own spinelessness: that she refused either to act on her own behalf, or to resist the interference of others.

Also, as we have seen before---when she has these moments, Mrs Ray is capable of unexpected insight:

    "You only did your duty, mother."
    "No; I didn't do my duty at all. It can't be a mother's duty to break her child's heart and to be set against her by what anybody else can say. She was ever and always the best child that ever lived; and she came away from him, and strove to banish him from her thoughts, and wouldn't own to herself that she cared for him the least in the world, till he'd come here and spoken out straight, like a man as he is. I tell you what, Dorothea, I'd go to London, on my knees to him, if I could bring him back to her! I would. And if he comes here, I will go to him."
    "Oh, mother!"
    "I know he loves her. He's not one of your inconstant ones that take up with a girl for a week or so and then forgets her. But she has offended him, and he's stubborn. She has offended him at my bidding, and it's my doing;---and I'd humble myself in the dust to bring him back to her;---so I would. Never tell me of her not thinking of him..."

Modifié : Déc 22, 2021, 5:27am

But while Chapter 23 / Volume II Chapter 8 is mostly "vanity and vexation", as poor Mrs Ray puts it, there is also a tiny ray of humour.

We learn that Rachel's two adherents, Mrs Cornbury and Mrs Sturt - or Mr Sturt at his wife's behest - have indeed played a part in restoring Luke's reputation, as they promised Rachel they would.

Interestingly, though the Rays are "tainted" by their association with the Sturts, socially speaking, Mrs Cornbury is high enough not to be touched by such interaction (in fact she doesn't think twice about it); and the co-conspirators discuss the business:

    "I suppose she does care about him," said Mrs Cornbury, sitting in Mrs Sturt's little parlour that opened out upon the kitchen garden. Mrs Sturt was also seated, leaning on the corner of the table, with the sleeves of her gown tucked up, ready for work when the Squire's lady should be gone, but very willing to postpone her work as long as the Squire's lady would stay and gossip with her.
    "Oh! that she do, Mrs Butler,---in her heart of hearts. If I know anything of true love, she do love that young man."
    "And he did offer to her? There can be no doubt about that, I suppose."
    "Not a doubt on earth, Mrs Butler. She never told me so outright,---nor yet didn't her mother;---but if he didn't, I'll give my head for a cream cheese. Laws love you, Mrs Butler, I know what's what well enough. I know when a girl's wild and flighty, and thinks of things as she oughtn't;---and I know when she's proper behaved, and gives a young man encouragement only when it becomes her."
    "Of course you do, Mrs Sturt."
    "It isn't for me, Mrs Butler, to say anything against your papa. Nobody can have more respect for their clergyman than Sturt has and I; and before it was all settled like, Sturt never had a word with Mr Comfort about tithes; but, Mrs Butler, I think your papa was wrong here. As far as I can learn, it was he that told Mrs Ray that this young man wasn't all that he should be."
    "Papa meant it for the best. There were strange things said about him, you know."
    "I never believes one word of what I hears, and never will. People are such liars..."

So maybe THAT is the moral of Rachel Ray?? :D

Déc 22, 2021, 5:57am

I would have liked to have seen more of the Sturts. Their common sense is such a relief.

Déc 22, 2021, 4:29pm

>150 MissWatson:

Yes, funny that the "proscribed" characters are so appealing!

Modifié : Déc 22, 2021, 5:20pm

Chapter 24 / Volume II Chapter 9 deals with the election---and all the petty, selfish and short-sighted motivations that, alas, tend to prevail in any election!

There are a number of wince-worthy moments here, but I think we've probably said enough on that subject in our discussions up above---except perhaps to note Trollope's rejection of all the stereotypes with respect to Mr Hart, and perhaps most importantly that he again says "they" rather than "we":

...and then the Jewish hero, the tailor himself, came among them, and astonished their minds by the ease and volubility of his speeches. He did not pronounce his words with any of those soft slushy Judaic utterances by which they had been taught to believe he would disgrace himself...

Personally I'm sorry that it doesn't work out for Mr Hart, after this piece of foolhardy courage:

    Perhaps his strength as a popular candidate was best shown by his drinking a pint of Tappitt's beer in the little parlour behind the bar at the Dragon.
    "He beats me there," said Butler Cornbury, when he heard of that feat.
    But the action was a wise one. The question as to Tappitt's brewery and Tappitt's beer was running high at Baslehurst, and in no stronger way could Mr Hart have bound to him the Tappitt faction than by swallowing in public that pint of beer. "Let me have a small glass of brandy at once," said Mr Hart to his servant, having retired to his room immediately after the performance of the feat. His constitution was good, and I may as well at once declare that before half an hour had passed over his head he was again himself, and at his work...

As we touched upon in >118 lyzard:, there was still a lot wrong with the English electoral system at this point in spite of various reforms, and Trollope alludes to a number of the problems in passing.

The exchange between Mr Tappitt and his foreman, Worts, highlights several of the most significant all at once. In particular, a major issue in England was the votes of tenants and workers being controlled through financial threat. (This is why the secret ballot was being advocated: Trollope was against that measure, but it was eventually introduced.) This was a practice generally associated with the powerful landowners, but here we see that problem was endemic:

    Now Worts had a vote in the borough, and it came to Tappitt's ears that his servant intended to give that vote to Mr Cornbury. "Worts," said he, a day or two before the election, "of course you intend to vote for Mr Hart?"
    Worts touched his cap, for it was the commencement of the day.
    "I don't jest know," said he. "I was thinking of woting for the young squoire. I've know'd him ever since he was born, and I ain't never know'd the Jew gentleman;---never at all."
    "Look here, Worts; if you intend to remain in this establishment I shall expect you to support the liberal interest, as I support it myself. The liberal interest has always been supported in Baslehurst by Bungall and Tappitt ever since Bungall and Tappitt have existed."
    "The old maister, he wouldn't a woted for ere a Jew in Christendom,---not agin the squoire. The old maister was allays for the Protestant religion."
    "Very well, Worts; there can't be two ways of thinking here, that's all; especially not at such a time as this, when there's more reason than ever why those connected with the brewery should all stand shoulder to shoulder. You've had your bread out of this establishment, Worts, for a great many years."
    "And I've 'arned it hard;---no man can't say otherwise. The sweat o' my body belongs to the brewery, but I didn't ever sell 'em my wote;---and I don't mean." Saying which words, with an emphasis that was by no means servile, Worts went out from the presence of his master.
    "That man's turning against me," said Tappitt to his wife at breakfast time, in almost mute despair.
    "What! Worts?" said Mrs Tappitt.
    "Yes;—the ungrateful hound. He's been about the place almost ever since he could speak, for more than forty years. He's had two pound a week for the last ten years;---and now he's turning against me."
    "Is he going over to Rowan?"
    "I don't know where the d----- he's going. He's going to vote for Butler Cornbury, and that's enough for me."
    "Oh, T., I wouldn't mind that; especially not just now. Only think what a help he'll be to that man!"
    "I tell you he shall walk out of the brewery the week after this, if he votes for Cornbury. There isn't room for two opinions here, and I won't have it."

This passage also provides an ironic echo of what we saw in Phineas Finn: it was the Liberal party pushing for electoral reform; but in the meantime, the Liberal politicians continued to exploit their privileges, as with Lord Brentford "giving" Phineas a safe seat.

Meanwhile, the election proves of unexpected importance to Dorothea.

This is rather fascinating. Trollope, as we have said, doesn't get into the rights and wrongs of it, but the engagement between Dorothea and Mr Prong has stalled on her refusal to give up control of her money.

But Dorothea finds a different excuse to break their engagement (and hold onto her money): namely, Mr Prong's voting intentions---albeit he is not so much voting for Mr Hart as against the Cornburys, Mr Comfort and Dr Harford:

    She told her betrothed to his face that he was going to commit a great sin, and that he was tempted to this sin by grievous worldly passions. When so informed Mr Prong closed his eyes, crossed his hands meekly on his breast, and shook his head.
    "Not from thee, Dorothea," said he, "not from thee should this have come."
    "Who is to speak out to you if I am not?" said she.
    But Mr Prong sat in silence, and with closed eyes again shook his head.
    "Perhaps we had better part," said Mrs Prime, after an interval of five minutes. "Perhaps it will be better for both of us."

Trollope's editorialisation makes the manoeuvring on both sides here perfectly clear:

Moreover he had the law on his side,---the old law as coming from the Scriptures. He could say that such a pecuniary arrangement as that proposed by his Dorothea was sinful. He had said so,---as he had then thought not without effect; but now she retaliated upon him with accusation of another sin! It was manifestly in her power to break away from him on that money detail. It seemed now to be her wish to break away from him; but she preferred doing so on that other matter. He began to fear that he must lose his wife, seeing that he was resolved never to yield on the money question; but he did not choose to be entrapped into an instant resignation of his engagement by Dorothea's indignation on a point of abstruse Scripturo-political morality...


While this is going on, out on the hustings, Luke and Mr Tappitt are slogging it out.

We have learned by now that Luke has allied himself with the Cornbury faction---or, given his new power and popularity in Baslehurst, vice-versa.

From the sounds of this, Luke would be right at home in politics himself:

Though absent from Baslehurst Rowan had managed to declare his opinions before that time, and was suspected by many to have written those articles in the "Baslehurst Gazette" which advocated the right of any constituency to send a Jew to Parliament if it pleased, but which proved at the same time that any constituency must be wrong to send any Jew to Parliament, and that the constituency of Baslehurst would in the present instance be specially wrong to send Mr Hart to Parliament.

And indeed, he brings his candidate home---

At the close of the poll on that evening it was declared by the mayor that Mr Butler Cornbury had been elected to serve the borough in Parliament by a majority of one vote.

Déc 22, 2021, 5:43pm

Chapter 25 / Volume II Chapter 10 deals with the various kinds of fallout from the election---news of which arrives at Bragg's End via Mr and Mrs Sturt (of course).

We see that Rachel is by this time conditioning herself to believe that she has severed herself from Luke forever: doing so is less painful than hoping. She discourages her mother's attempts to persuade her that things will work out; and even as she watches Luke's progress, she teaches herself that each step he takes is another step away from her:

Since that evening on which she had been bidden to look at the clouds she had regarded Luke as a special hero, cleverer than other men around her, as a man born to achieve things and make himself known. It was not astonishing to her that a speech of his should be reported at length in the newspaper. He was a man certain to rise, to make speeches, and to be reported. So she thought of him; and so thinking had almost wished that it were not so. Could she expect that such a one would stoop to her? or that if he did so that she could be fit for him? He had now perceived that himself, and therefore had taken her at her word, and had left her. Had he been more like other men around her;---more homely, less prone to rise, with less about him of fire and genius, she might have won him and kept him. The prize would not have been so precious; but still, she thought, it might have been sufficient for her heart. A young man who could find printers and publishers to report his words in that way, on the first moment of his coming among them, would he turn aside from his path to look after her? Would he not bring with him some grand lady down from London as his wife?

So things stand when Dorothea's severance from Mr Prong brings her back to the cottage.

Rachel's silent punishing of her mother has had its due effect: Mrs Ray has not only been forced to think clearly about her own conduct, she has taken up the parental responsibilities that her own weakness and Dorothea's managing ways had led her to relinquish---to Rachel's cost.

But she makes up for a lot of her previous errors her, by unexpectedly putting her foot down:

    "If you do come back,---and I'm sure I hope you will; and indeed it seems quite unnatural that you should be staying in Baslehurst, while we are living here. But I think you ought to say, my dear, that Rachel behaved just as she ought to behave in all that matter about,---about Mr Rowan, you know."
    "Don't mind me, mamma," said Rachel,---who could, however, have smothered her mother with kisses, on hearing these words.
    "But I think we all ought to understand each other, Rachel. You and your sister can't go on comfortably together, if there's to be more black looks about that."
    "I don't know that there have been any black looks," said Mrs Prime, looking very black as she spoke.
    "At any rate we should understand each other," continued Mrs Ray, with admirable courage. "I've thought a great deal about it since you've been away. Indeed I haven't thought about much else. And I don't think I shall ever forgive myself for having let a hard word be said to Rachel about it."
    "Oh, mamma, don't,---don't," said Rachel. But those meditated embraces were continued in her imagination.
    "I don't want to say any hard words," said Mrs Prime.
    "No; I'm sure you don't;---only they were said,---weren't they, now? Didn't we blame her about being out there in the churchyard that evening?"
    "Mamma!" exclaimed Rachel.
    "Well, my dear, I won't say any more;---only this. Your sister went away because she thought you weren't good enough for her to live with; and if she comes back again,---which I'm sure I hope she will,---I think she ought to say that she's been mistaken."
    Mrs Prime looked very black, and no word fell from her. She sat there silent and gloomy, while Mrs Ray looked at the fireplace, lost in wonder at her own effort...

As are we all! :D

Modifié : Déc 23, 2021, 1:03am

In Chapter 26 / Volume II Chapter 11, Trollope finally allows us inside Luke's head.

Post-election, Mrs Cornbury makes a point of inviting him to Cprnbury Grange...although not necessarily on account of his services in her husband's cause. She has more important fish to fry:

    Mrs Cornbury again repeated her question, "Why do you not go to her?"
    "Mrs Cornbury," he said, "you must not be angry with me if I say that that is a matter which at the present moment I am not willing to discuss."
    "Nor must you be angry with me if, as Rachel's friend, I say something further about it. As you do not wish to answer me, I will ask no other question; but at any rate you will be willing to listen to me. Rachel has never spoken to me on this subject---not a word; but I know from others who see her daily that she is very unhappy."
    "I am grieved that it should be so."
    "Yes, I knew you would be grieved. But how could it be otherwise? A girl, you know, Mr Rowan, has not other things to occupy her mind as a man has. I think of Rachel Ray that she would have been as happy there at Bragg's End as the day is long, if no offer of love had come in her way. She was not a girl whose head had been filled with romance, and who looked for such things. But for that very reason is she less able to bear the loss of it when the offer has come in her way. I think, perhaps, you hardly know the depth of her character and the strength of her love."
    "I think I know that she is constant."
    "Then why do you try her so hardly?"


"I do not know what Rachel wrote to you, but a girl's letter under such circumstances can hardly do more than express the will of those who guide her. It was sad enough for her to be forced to write such a letter, but it will be sadder still if you cannot be brought to forgive it."

She may have her faults, but she's a very good friend.

She also puts her finger on exactly where Luke is in the wrong---not in being hurt and offended, and showing it by taking the Rays' at their word, but in not discriminating Rachel's part in all this finely enough. He must have known, or should have been able to tell, which parts of the letter were her speaking and which were not; that there was no doubt on her part; yet he has put the weight of the blame onto her.

It is possible - and this is what Mrs Cornbury is effectively saying - that he didn't quite realise how hard the blow would fall: in spite of everything, he really knows little of Rachel and her normal way of life. Furthermore, it was clearly always in his own mind that he would go back when matters were cleared up; it may not have occurred to him that she expects him to take her at her literal word.

Some of this, then, was unintentional; but some of it, as Trollope makes clear, was not:

Had he been severe to Rachel? He would answer no such question when asked by Mrs Cornbury, but he was very desirous of answering it to himself. The women at the cottage had doubted him,---Mrs Ray and her daughter, with perhaps that other daughter of whom he had only heard; and he had resolved that they should see him no more and hear of him no more till there should be no further room for doubt. Then he would show himself again at the cottage, and again ask Rachel to be his wife. There was some manliness in this; but there was also a hardness in his pride which deserved the rebuke which Mrs Cornbury's words had conveyed to him. He had been severe to Rachel. Lying there, with his full length stretched upon the grass, he acknowledged to himself that he had thought more of his own feelings than of hers. While Mrs Cornbury had been speaking he could not bring himself to feel that this was the case. But now in his solitude he did acknowledge it. What amount of sin had she committed against him that she should be so punished by him who loved her? He took out her letter from his pocket, and found that her words were loving, though she had not been allowed to put into them that eager, pressing, speaking love which he had desired.

This is why the scene in the churchyard comes first. Mostly through this novel we see the other side of Luke: ambitious, determined, even ruthless - a man with "hardness in his pride" - but he has that other side, the side he shows Rachel in the first place: the one that sees visions in the clouds and wants "eager, pressing, speaking love".

Look closely at the final implied complaint here: he didn't write one himself, but what he wanted back from Rachel was a mushy love-letter!

Déc 23, 2021, 2:24am

I think the fact that they have known each other for a few days only explains a lot of the misunderstandings.

On another note: I'll be spending the holidays at my sister's without internet, so I'll be checking on the comments to the last chapters in the New Year.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Déc 23, 2021, 4:24pm

>155 MissWatson:

I wouldn't call it a misunderstanding; certainly not in the way we usually use that term (i.e. authors creating difficulties where none exist!).

I would agree that the short acquaintance made it a lot easier for Mrs Ray to distrust Luke, on the back of her usual tendency to listen to the last speaker. What I think is that Luke should have written to Mrs Ray: it was her he addressed himself to in the first place, and who gave him her permission. He needn't have gone into detail, merely declared his ability to clear himself---and to say, perhaps, exactly what he did say in Exeter: that he thought she - not Rachel - was treating him badly.

Pride got in the way of that. Two kinds of pride, really, one that drove him to do as he did with respect to carrying on in Baslehurst, the other that wouldn't let him make the first sign. Without Mrs Cornbury we might have had a permanent rift, though you'd like to think that once established he would have had sense enough to relent.

It's hard to forgive him, though, when we know how little Rachel could help herself.

Modifié : Déc 23, 2021, 4:26pm

>155 MissWatson:

Thank you for letting us know, Birgit. have a lovely time, and please do check in again (with final comments??) when you get back.

Modifié : Déc 23, 2021, 4:43pm

Given that they serve Mr Tappitt's beer at the Dragon, can we really be surprised by the quality of the dinner?---

Chapter 27 / Volume II Chapter 12

A horrid mess concocted of old gravy, catsup, and bad wine was distributed under the name of soup. Then there came upon the table half a huge hake,---the very worst fish that swims, a fish with which Devonshire is peculiarly invested. Some hard dark brown mysterious balls were handed round, which on being opened with a knife were found to contain sausage-meat, very greasy and by no means cooked through. Even the dura ilia of the liberal electors of Baslehurst declined to make acquaintance with these dainties. After that came the dinner, consisting of a piece of roast beef very raw, and a leg of parboiled mutton, absolutely blue in its state of rawness. When the gory mess was seen which displayed itself on the first incision made into these lumps of meat, the vice-president and one or two of his friends spoke out aloud. That hard and greasy sausage-meat might have been all right for anything they knew to the contrary, and the soup they had swallowed without complaint. But they did know what should be the state of a joint of meat when brought to the table, and therefore they spoke out in their anger. Tappitt himself said nothing that was intended to be carried beyond the waiter, seeing that beer from his own brewery was consumed in the tap of the Dragon; but the vice-president was a hardware dealer with whom the Dragon had but small connection of trade, and he sent terrible messages down to the landlady, threatening her with the Blue Boar, the Mitre, and even with that nasty little pothouse, the Chequers. "What is it they expects for their three-and-sixpence?" said the landlady, in her wrath...

Déc 23, 2021, 4:58pm

Chapter 28 / Volume II Chapter 13

The election result, the dinner, and the post-dinner imbibing end in Mr Tappitt's capitulation---which in turn leads to Luke's return to Bragg's End.

What we have been suggesting about Luke's motivations is spelled out here:

    During the day many things had occupied him, and he had hardly as yet made up his mind definitely as to what he would do and what he would say during the hours of the evening. From the moment in which Honyman had announced to him Tappitt's intended resignation he became aware that he certainly should go out to Bragg's End before that day was over. It had been with him a settled thing, a thing settled almost without thought ever since the receipt of Rachel's letter, that he would take this walk to Bragg's End when he should have put his affairs at Baslehurst on some stable footing; but that he would not take that walk before he had so done.
    "They say," Rachel had written in her letter, "they say that as the business here about the brewery is so very unsettled, they think it probable that you will not have to come back to Baslehurst any more."
    In that had been the offence. They had doubted his stability, and, beyond that, had almost doubted his honesty. He would punish them by taking them at their word till both should be put beyond all question. He knew well that the punishment would fall on Rachel, whereas none of the sin would have been Rachel's sin; but he would not allow himself to be deterred by that consideration.
    "It is her letter," he said to himself, "and in that way will I answer her. When I do go there again they will all understand me better."

The impulse is understandable, but in the end he is quite as unjust to Rachel as he believes the Rays were to him.

Déc 23, 2021, 5:04pm

However - with all due respect to Luke and Rachel - the highlight of Chapter 28 / Volume II Chapter 13 is undoubtedly the apotheosis of Mrs Sturt:

    "And that's just the truth," said Mrs Sturt, triumphantly. "He's through there in the little parlour, and you must just go to him, my dear, and hear what he's got to say to you."
    "Oh, mamma!" said Rachel.
    "I suppose you must do what she tells you," said Mrs Ray.
    "Of course she must," said Mrs Sturt.
    "Mamma, you must go to him," said Rachel.
    "That won't do at all," said Mrs Sturt.
    "And why has he come here?" said Rachel.
    "Ah! I wonder why," said Mrs. Sturt. "I wonder why any young man should come on such an errand! But it won't do to leave him there standing in my parlour by himself, so do you come along with me."
    So saying Mrs Sturt took Rachel by the arm to lead her away. Mrs Ray in this great emergency was perfectly helpless. She could simply look at her daughter with imploring, loving eyes, and stand quivering in doubt against the dresser. Mrs Sturt had very decided views on the matter. She had put Luke Rowan into the parlour with a promise that she would bring Rachel to him there, and she was not going to break her word through any mock delicacy. The two young people liked one another, and they should have this opportunity of saying so in each other's hearing. So she took Rachel by the arm, and opening the door of the parlour led her into the room. "Mr Rowan," she said, "when you and Miss Rachel have had your say out, you'll find me and her mamma in the kitchen." Then she closed the door and left them alone...

Except perhaps for this---

    "You shall give me a fair open kiss, honestly, before I leave you,---in truth you shall. If you love me, and wish to be my wife, and intend me to understand that you and I are now pledged to each other beyond the power of any person to separate us by his advice, or any mother by her fears, give me a bold, honest kiss, and I will understand that it means all that."
    Still she hesitated for a moment, turning her face away from him while he held her by the waist. She hesitated while she was weighing the meaning of his words, and taking them home to herself as her own. Then she turned her neck towards him, still holding back her head till her face was immediately under his own, and after another moment's pause she gave him her pledge as he had asked it...

Déc 23, 2021, 5:18pm

That was one of the moments that got Trollope into trouble with the critics; and there are a couple more over the concluding chapters:

Chapter 29 / Volume II Chapter 14:

But why need she sleep now that every thought was a new pleasure? There was no moment that she had ever passed with him that had not to be recalled. There was no word of his that had not to be re-weighed. She remembered, or fancied that she remembered, her idea of the man when her eye first fell upon his outside form. She would have sworn that her first glance of him had conveyed to her far more than had ever come to her from many a day's casual looking at any other man. She could almost believe that he had been specially made and destined for her behoof. She blushed even while lying in bed as she remembered how the gait of the man, and the tone of his voice, had taken possession of her eyes and ears from the first day on which she had met him...

Chapter 30 / Volume II Chapter 15:

Luke and Rachel were married on New Year's Day at Cawston church, and afterwards made a short marriage trip to Penzance and the Land's End. It was cold weather for pleasure-travelling; but snow and winds and rain affect young married people less, I think, than they do other folk. Rachel when she returned could not bear to be told that it had been cold. There was no winter, she said, at Penzance...

Déc 23, 2021, 5:19pm


Thank you, everybody! Final thoughts?

Déc 23, 2021, 8:56pm

I really liked this one. I thought the characters, plot, and setting combined for a really interesting story. I felt for Rachel, and I had sympathy for Mrs. Ray as well. I think we all know a Mrs. Ray. It was exasperating when she allowed other people to make her decisions for her, and I cheered when she finally stood up to Mrs. Prime. I would have liked to see more of Mrs. Cornbury and Mrs. Sturt.

I am glad that Rachel got her happy ending. A fairy tale ending, really, since she made a much better marriage than she could have expected in that era. It's disturbing how many people thought ill of her, not because of anything she had done, but just because of who she was (or rather, who she wasn't).

By having his readers sympathize with Rachel, was Trollope trying to nudge society in a different direction?

Déc 23, 2021, 9:33pm

I really enjoyed this novel also. I do wish Luke might have learned a lesson or two about jumping to conclusions but I doubt it.

I loved Mrs Sturt and Mrs Cornbury and it was a relief to see two women who weren't led by social assumptions and who stood up for what they knew was right.

I felt sad for Mrs Prime. She's got a horrible life and I don't see any hope she'll let it get any better.

Modifié : Déc 24, 2021, 1:11am


What I meant to say, but completely forgot to, was that it is not uncommon in Victorian fiction to find a subplot of a young woman being compelled to do something by her parents---often, renounce a young man. Nor is it uncommon for the parents to later be proven wrong (or rather, to be excused by changing circumstances).

However, usually such a subplot is used, not to criticise the parents, but to demonstrate that the young woman is "dutiful" and "obedient" and therefore good wife material.

We get none of that here. That certainly isn't what Luke takes away from Rachel's renunciation, nor is he particularly forgiving of it even when they are reconciled. And meanwhile, Rachel is openly angry with her mother---who the narrative accepts is simply in the wrong.

Again, I question whether we would have this sort of material were the characters of a higher social standing; but as it is, it is not unrefreshing.

As for Luke, I think we have to put his reaction in the context of this from Chapter 20 / Volume II Chapter 5:

A wife does not cease to love her husband because he gets into trouble. She does not turn against him because others have quarrelled with him. She does not separate her lot from his because he is in debt! Those are the times when a wife, a true wife, sticks closest to her husband, and strives the hardest to lighten the weight of his cares by the tenderness of her love!

That is Trollope's opinion, and I think we are to take it as Luke's, too. From his point of view, having accepted him the Rays were obliged to stand by him, not to beat a rather cowardly retreat.

He's right in what he thinks; but he's wrong in how he handles it.

Modifié : Déc 24, 2021, 3:56am

>163 cbl_tn:

but just because of who she was (or rather, who she wasn't)

I think this goes with the exchange between Luke and his mother that we pointed out in >79 lyzard:, very much to his credit:

    "But, mother, do not speak against her if you can say nothing worse of her than that she is poor."
    "You misunderstand me, Luke."
    "I hope so. I do not like to think that that objection should be made by you."

Unfortunately I think Trollope was going more for the fairy tale here than for the social reform!

>164 majkia:

Not jumping to conclusions so much as nursing a grievance, I think. But still, perhaps Rachel is lucky Mrs Cornbery chose to interfere.

Perfectly agreed on our two real heroines! :D

We're not given enough information to know how far Dorothea was always like this, so similarly we can't tell if she's likely to change. We don't know what she was like when she was younger, nor what Mr Prime was like. We do know, though, that she doesn't like to admit she was wrong, so it may be a question of whether she can get over that hurdle, or chooses to.

Déc 24, 2021, 10:55am

I ended up really liking this. I think the shorter length and tighter focus was a nice change of pace from my other Trollope favorites. I liked that, even though their courtship is short and it's always hard for me to buy "true love" after so little time getting to know each other, that letter from Luke gave me a lot of hope for them to have a marriage built on mutual respect and willingness to treat each other as partners. I loved Mrs. Sturt and Mrs. Cornbury - two women from different social spheres that both have a good deal of common sense and are willing to stand up for it!

Though it caused a lot of trouble and probably wasn't fully intended in the way I took it, that letter from Luke will be one of my favorite of all time!

Since I cause all the trouble :-), I also want to say that the discussion of the portrayal of Jews in this novel and other Victorian era novels was really helpful to me and did help me nuance my view of this issue. I think it will also inform some of my issues with later 1920s lit that has similar problem areas. So thank you for all of that!

Déc 25, 2021, 6:52pm

>167 japaul22:

Thank you for all your discussion-prompting comments! :D

Déc 25, 2021, 6:58pm

Please continue to add any last comments, but in the meantime a couple of FYIs:

Our next Trollope read will be Miss Mackenzie, probably in the middle of next year (yike!).

Meanwhile, for those of you doing our Virago reads, the popular vote for the next was to go ahead with Margaret Oliphant's The Perpetual Curate. We didn't set a date for this but likely it would be February or March; I would personally prefer March, but I can do February if that suits the majority. If you are interested, please let me know which suits you better.

Déc 25, 2021, 7:11pm

I've never read (at least that I remember) Oliphant. I see The Perpetual Curate is part of a series. Will I be lost if I read it without having read earlier parts of the series? (I'm a bit - okay a lot - OCD about series).

Modifié : Déc 26, 2021, 1:51am

>170 majkia:

That's hard to answer in this case. These stories have the same setting and some of the same characters appear, but they don't follow on from one another in a major way; though there are references to earlier events that might be a bit spoiler-ish.

We have done previous group reads on the preceding short works (The Executor, The Rector and The Doctor's Family) and one novel (Salem Chapel), and you'll find the links through the Virago group.

Perhaps if we wait until March for The Perpetual Curate, you'll have time to catch up? :)

Déc 26, 2021, 7:19am

>171 lyzard: I'll do my best to catch up!

Déc 26, 2021, 7:26am

No rush for The Perpetual Curate; March is fine for me.

Déc 26, 2021, 1:52pm

March is fine for me, too--The Perpetual Curate is not a small book.

I read Miss Mackenzie earlier this year and I can't wait to re-read it--it was delightful and there were some laugh-out-loud moments for me.

Déc 26, 2021, 2:13pm

March is fine with me for The Perpetual Curate. My February list is fairly light, so I might start it early.

Modifié : Déc 26, 2021, 3:53pm

>172 majkia:

Don't feel pressured, though: the threads will all be there when it suits you. :)

>173 NinieB:


>174 kac522:
Thanks, Kathy, I hadn't looked into that side of it.

I actually wondered if we needed a group read for Miss Mackenzie as it seems to be one of the standalones that people read more, but on that basis it should be all good. :)

>175 cbl_tn:

That's sounding like a plan!

Déc 26, 2021, 4:32pm

I have The Perpetual Curate on my shelf so I really should join. March would work better for me. I fell behind and haven't read Salem's Chapel so I'll try to fit that in before the group read.

Déc 26, 2021, 5:27pm

>169 lyzard: Either is fine for me - I don't make reading plans!

Déc 27, 2021, 5:08pm

>177 japaul22:

That sounds good, Jennifer! :)

>178 CDVicarage:

Very sensible! Far too sensible for me. :D

Déc 27, 2021, 5:11pm

Okay---we may yet hear from Birgit when she gets back from her travels, but in the meantime:

Thank you everyone for your participation this year! I hope you've enjoyed our group efforts, and that I will see you all again in March. :)

Jan 5, 6:44am

Hello again, and a Happy New Year to all!

I really liked this novel, and I was most impressed with how well Trollope made me understand Rachel's situation.

I've got both the Perpetual Curatenand Miss Mackenzie downloaded and will happily join.

Jan 9, 3:58pm

>181 MissWatson:

Sorry, Birgit, missed this!

Thanks for checking in again; great to hear how you enjoyed this read. I hope our 2022 projects go as well. :)

Avr 1, 6:31pm

Hi, all.

I wanted to check in about our next proposed group read, which would be Miss Mackenzie.

We could do this in May or June: personally I would prefer June, but I can do May if that suits the majority better. Please check in below and indicate your preference.


Modifié : Avr 1, 6:43pm

Also, since we had the discussion up-thread of around the treatment of Jewish characters in 19th century English novels, I though I would note this here:

We touched on how both Dickens and Trollope were called out by Jewish correspondents over their handling of their Jewish characters, but evidently they were not the first to have this happen---nor the first to respond by consciously offering more positive characterisations afterwards.

For one of my other projects, I picked up a copy of Maria Edgeworth's Harrington, originally published in 1817, which carries a foreword by her father in which he observes that:

The first of these tales...was occasioned by an extremely well-written letter, which Miss Edgeworth received from America, from a Jewish lady, complaining of the illiberality with which the Jewish nation had been treated in some of Miss Edgeworth's works...

It's both interesting and dismaying that these intelligent and generally generous people had to have their "illiberality" pointed out to them. It shows, I think, how very deeply ingrained antisemitism was in 19th century England; and we should keep that in mind when examining material as we did here, for Rachel Ray. I'm not saying we should excuse the prejudice, of course, but there was clearly a long journey back.

Avr 1, 6:56pm

>183 lyzard: Hi Liz! I will join, and I would also prefer June.

Avr 1, 7:28pm

>183 lyzard: I'm available either month.

Avr 2, 3:02am

I'm due to move house in May so June would suit me better!

Avr 2, 8:31am

I'll join and June works for me.

Avr 2, 8:35am

Cet utilisateur a été supprimé en tant que polluposteur.

Avr 2, 11:05am

June works for me, too.

Avr 3, 4:51pm

Thanks for checking in, we will pencil in June. :)