(No uses of Classics identified.)
fighting against the poet’s pretences
The chapter begins with John Gordon’s departure to London, and in describing his state of mind Trollope tells us that Gordon’s understanding of Mary’s feelings is accurate, but partial, while of Mr. Whittlestaff’s character John comprehends nothing. Trollope notes two arenas of Mr. Whittlestaff’s struggle, Horace and Mrs. Baggett, which John Gordon would never imagine. What are the poet’s pretences that Mr. Whittlestaff fights against? We know that Mrs. Baggett defines Mr. Whittlestaff’s social power as the reason for him to have whatever he wants, just as her social powerlessness means she herself cannot have what she wants; he rejects this as damnable, the teaching “by which the world was kept going in its present course” (Chapter 16). Horace too, perhaps, is too much of the world and not enough of the right. Did Horace, the Emperor Augustus’ poet of the Golden Mean, ever really love a girl? Probably not thinks Mr. Whittlestaff, and he probably did “care for jewels, marble, and ivory, as much as any one” (see the gloss in the commentary for Chapter 16). Horace has been one of Mr. Whittlestaff’s companions and sources of wisdom, we infer, since the crisis of Catherine Bailey, but the poet specifically now arises in Mr. Whittlestaff’s mind as one who also has indulged himself quite as much as the world would have it. Horace’s lessons, like Mrs. Baggett’s, perhaps do not “run smoothly with those of Jesus Christ” (Chapter 16), however much Mr. Whittlestaff enjoys picking to pieces the Rev. Lowlad’s Christian theology (Chapter 17). The Augustan poet pretends, Mr. Whittlestaff intuits, to a philosophy that he never practiced. Fighting with Horace’s pretentions, in his battle to find the just path with Mary Lawrie, seems to mean that Mr. Whittlestaff must even temper his love for his favorite poet. [CMS 2018]
In his description of earth that holds diamonds Trollope creates a playful contrast between the Latinate adjective gemmiferous (gem-bearing) and the more direct English noun dirt. [RR 2018]
Fitzwalker Tookey and Classics
Trollope tells us that Mr. Tookey received the “education of a gentleman,” which would have included the study of Classics. Mr. Tookey enlists that education and the bond between gentlemen which it presumes when he quotes an “old Roman saying” to John Gordon: “Never be conscious of anything within your own bosom.” This seems to refer to a passage from Horace’s Epistles used elsewhere by Trollope: nil conscire sibi (“be conscious of no wrong in oneself”). This sentiment appears in the context of Horace counseling against the valuation of money over ethics, and so Mr. Tookey’s invocation of it here seems reflective of its original context. And yet there is an irony in that Mr. Tookey is himself putting material profit over ethical considerations in trying to convince John Gordon that it’s his duty to sell his mining shares. [RR 2018]
Source: Horace, Epistle 1.1.61.
Mr. Whittlestaff and quotations from Horace
Trollope directly quotes the first poem of Horace’s fourth (and last) book of Odes, as if his readers may know it: Intermissa, Venus, diu / rursus bella moves? Parce, precor, precor. / Non sum qualis eram…“ (Venus are you starting up the wars again, left off so long ago? I beg of you, I beg, spare me. I am not the man I once was…”). Mr. Whittlestaff chooses a poem devastatingly apt for his own situation, since Horace goes on to say he is near fifty years old and is not able to love as when he was young (he is too toughened with age to bend to Venus’ “soft commands”), while he protests against Venus’ apparent urgings. The poet recommends to Venus that she go where young men of a suitable age send their prayers to her, and he even recommends one Paulus Maximus, who is distinguished, wealthy, and handsome. Horace takes a posture of desperate pleading, which is of course hopeless against Venus—he already is in love. Mr. Whittlestaff’s ruminations stop at the poem’s first line to critique Horace, calling him crafty or vain for harking back to his past life when the pleasures of Venus were right for him. But this irritation with Horace takes him to the next line, “I am not the man I once was,” and then to Catherine Bailey. Then the difference between himself and Horace (was Mr. Whittlestaff ever that man? No, he thinks) and his shame at having been jilted makes him pocket the book of poetry. [CMS 2018]
Source: Horace, Ode 4.1.1-3.
poet draining the dregs
The “poet” here is presumably Horace, whom Mr. Whittlestaff has just consulted and whose Ode 4.1 Trollope has just quoted. The image of drinking to the dregs perhaps recalls Ode 3.15, in which Horace finds fault with Chloris, an older woman who remains interested in parties and love affairs despite her age. Horace closes the poem with the admonition: “Citharas do not befit an old woman, nor the purple blossom of the rose, nor jars drunk to the dregs.” Although Horace criticizes Chloris for interests that he finds unseemly due to her age, we have seen that in Ode 4.1 an older Horace himself feels the pull of love’s battles. Mr. Whittlestaff here seems to be turning Horace’s critique of Chloris against the poet himself; Mr. Whittlestaff, by contrast, curtailed his romantic ambitions after his disappointment with Catherine Bailey and is again readying himself to give up his interest in love and Mary Lawrie in favor of a younger man. [RR 2018]
Source: Horace, Ode 3.15 esp. 14-16.
August, Augustus, and auspicious
Mr. Blake recalls a connection between the first of August and the Roman emperor Augustus. The entire month of August was named in honor of Augustus, and the first of the month is the anniversary of his conquering of Alexandria in 30 BCE. The defeat of the forces of Marc Antony and Cleopatra consolidated Augustus’ power. It seems appropriate that Mr. Blake is eager to invoke Classics but doesn’t have the specifics to back up the gesture—and if he did, he might realize that a military anniversary is not necessarily auspicious for a wedding. Even Mr. Blake’s use of auspicious has a Classical ring, since it refers to the Roman practice of bird-watching and prognosticating via omens. Mr. Blake’s bride-to-be finds his Classical citation unusual for a clergyman. [RR 2018]
Mrs. Baggett describes Mary Lawrie as “philandering” with John Gordon. The Greek etymological components of this word are phil (love) and andr (man), and the English word usually refers to a man’s flirtatious or promiscuous behavior. Mrs. Baggett’s reverse usage—to refer to loving a man rather than a man loving—reflects the force of the Greek adjective philandros (man-loving or husband-loving). [RR 2018]
Mr. Whittlestaff and Horace
We are told that Mr. Whittlestaff weighs what he reads in Horace’s works, pondering whether or not the poet incorporated the wisdom of his words into his own life. Gemmas, marmor, ebur…Sunt qui non habeant; est qui non curat habere comes from Horace’s Epistle 2.2 (“There are those who do not have jewels, marble, ivory; there is he who does not care to have them”), and Me lentus Glycerae torret amor meae comes from Ode 3.19 (“A slow desire for my Glycera burns me”). Despite Horace’s poetic protestation of love and versified praise of moderation, Mr. Whittlestaff supposed that the actual Horace cared more for wealth and less for Glycera than his writing suggests. Trollope presents a dynamic relationship between ancient author and reader here: while Horace holds pride of place as Mr. Whittlestaff’s favorite Classical author, Mr. Whittlestaff also interrogates him, questioning the relationship between fine-sounding words and lived life. [RR 2018]
Sources: Horace, Epistle 2.2.180-182 and Ode 3.19.28.
not unsuccessfully and not unhappy
Trollope twice uses litotes—the ancient rhetorical technique of asserting something by negating its opposite—to good effect in this chapter. When Mary Lawrie dines in the company of John Gordon, Mr. Whittlestaff, and those who know her story, she attempts to hide her self-consciousness “not unsuccessfully.” Later she declares to Mr. Whittlestaff that she is “not unhappy.” The use of litotes strikes an ambivalent note, consonant with Mary Lawrie’s own mixed and conflicted feelings about her situation. [RR 2018]