Chapter 48 – Conclusion

Literary Censor

Charley’s literary efforts are recognized by the Literary Censor, a periodical whose name recalls the Roman office of censor charged with overseeing public morals (among other things). The Classically resonant name adds authority to the journal’s stamp of approval. We might also want to remember that Charley referred to the press as a censor morum (censor of morals) in Chapter 19 (see commentary), and Trollope referred to Charley himself as a censor in Chapter 22 (see commentary). [RR 2017]


Lucina, a man-deity, and a rocking shrine

At the end of the novel, the narrator mentions Lucina, the Roman goddess of childbirth, and thereby intimates that Charley and Katie will soon increase their family. Echoes of ancient religion continue with Trollope’s playful identification of the cradle as a “rocking shrine” and the baby as a “man-deity.” [GZ 2016 & RR 2017]


Antipodes and Excelsior

Trollopes refers to Australia with this Classically derived name: Australia being opposite (anti-) the feet (podes) of people in the northern hemisphere. We might contrast Alaric’s desire to rise higher (Excelsior!) with his migration to a country often presented as “down under.” [RR 2017]


the heroism of a Roman

Trollope praises Gertrude’s fidelity by contrasting her (and any woman acting similarly) with the legendary Roman, Marcus Curtius. When a chasm opened in the Roman Forum and the gods required the Romans to dedicate their most valuable possession, Marcus Curtius lept into to the cleft with his horse, declaring that Rome’s most valuable possessions were its weapons and bravery. Trollope often uses the Romans as ethical exemplars, and here some women’s excellence trumps even theirs. [RR 2017]

source: Livy, History of Rome 7.6


nod and thunder

Trollope’s description of Alaric’s old self and ambition quietly channels imagery associated with the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter. Alaric’s “approving nod” may recall Jupiter’s numinous authority (see commentary for Chapter 1 of Dr. Wortle’s School), and the “thunder” Alaric imagines spreading through the Times links him to Jupiter via one of the god’s main attributes. This depiction underscores the heights of former aspirations. [RR 2017]



When Charley’s latest work is published his publisher identifies him as “the author of ‘Bathos’.” Bathos is a Greek word meaning depth or altitude, and the use of it here gently underscores the motif of highs and lows prevalent throughout the novel. [RR 2017]


aliter non fit, amice, liber

During the mock review of Charley’s latest book read aloud by the three Woodward women, Charley scoffs at the fact that the reviewer included large parts of Charley’s own text to add to the column. Essentially, the reviewer was stuffing his column to make it a more appropriate length. Harry is quick to reply to Charley in Latin: “aliter non fit, amice, liber,” which translates as “otherwise, friend, it does not become a book.” Harry’s Latin phrase is an adaptation of the Latin found in an epigram written by the Roman poet Martial. In his poem, Martial tells someone named Avitus that any book contains good, average, and bad things in it—“otherwise, Avitus, it does not become a book.” As elsewhere in the novel, Harry’s ties to Classical learning are stronger than the other characters’, and here his adaptation of Martial’s verse shows a quick substitution of amice (friend) for Avite (Avitus) that suits the current context without disrupting the meter of the original. [GZ 2016 & RR 2017]

source: Martial, Epigram 1.16.



Earlier in the novel Charley had reported his editor’s insistence that his story have a “Nemesis”—that is, some sort of righteous retribution, so-called after the Greek goddess; see commentary for Chapter 19. In the Woodward women’s mock review they take Charley to task for including no such Nemesis in his most current work, and this reveals their practical joke to Charley.  Trollope himself usually imparts a kind of moral balance or nemesis in his novels: characters often seem to get what they deserve. In The Three Clerks, however, Charley seems largely to escape punishment, so the charge of “no Nemesis” may be as fitting for Trollope’s novel as for Charley’s. [RR 2017]

Chapter 47 – Mr. Nogo’s Last Question


When Charley is said to have been accepted to work at the Office of Weights and Measures, the narrator uses the words “better auspices” to describe such a positive turn of events for Charley’s life. Auspices are the divine signs of natural phenomena (bird patterns most commonly) interpreted by augurs, a select group of priests in ancient Rome. The use of the word “auspices” here suggests that Charley’s path is guided by a higher power. [GZ 2016]


&c., &c., &c.

An abbreviated form of the abbreviation etc., from the Latin et cetera (and the other things): the ampersand derives from a combination of the letters E and T. [RR 2017]


black into white

The ability of Mr. Chaffanbrass to turn “black into white” was mentioned by Trollope before in Chapters 41 and 42. Now, Mr. Whip Vigil is given the same ability. The notion of interchanging blackness and whiteness comes from Juvenal’s Satire, in which a character decries the current state of the city of Rome and foists the blame on public persons who turn “black into white.” Just as in a similar gloss from Chapter 41, we are made to feel glad that Mr. Whip Vigil can turn Charley’s “blackness” into whiteness. This is ironic because Juvenal in his Satire is complaining about the very people who can alter the perception of blackness and whiteness. See also the glosses from Chapters 41 and 42. [GZ 2016]

source: Juvenal, Satire 3.30.

Chapter 46 – The Fate of the Navvies

Hercules and the Augean stables

Because of its negative reputation in the network of offices that comprise the civil service, the Internal Navigation Office is likened to “the foulest in the whole range of the Augean stables.” This is a direct reference to the cleaning of the stables of King Augeas by the hero Hercules (Greek Heracles) as one of his twelve legendary labors. The stables were so foul that the hero rerouted the River Alpheus into the stables to clean them. The narrator says that Alaric’s replacement is a Hercules—that he is determined to make clean the civil service. Trollope had used the same image to characterize reform in his chapter on the civil service (see commentary for Chapter 28). On a minor note, it is ironic that such an office that deals with travel on rivers and waterways would be worried that it “was to be officially obliterated in the flood” of the redirected River Alpheus. [GZ & RR 2016]



Greek for “unmoved one.” This seems to be a reference to a character in the epic poem Orion, written by Richard Henry Horne and published in 1843. The poem takes its title from the Greek mythological hero, who is figured by Horne as a giant builder; Akinetos is another giant who sees no point in work. Once a mythological Hercules (see commentary for Chapter 11), Sir Gregory is now an epic Akinetos, sitting quietly unmoved by the zealous pursuits of the new commissioner. [RR 2017]


thundercloud and bolt

The dissolution of the Internal Navigation Office is announced from on high, and the news comes from the Lords of the Treasury as if a declaration from Jupiter, accompanied by his signature thunder and lightning. [RR 2017]


Cimmerian darkness

When the Internal Navigation Office is closed, its record are consigned to “Cimmerian darkness.” The Cimmerians are mentioned in book 11 of Homer’s Odyssey as living in a land at the edge of the earth where the sun does not shine. Odysseus and his companions travel there in order to talk with the spirits of the dead. Archival exile and bureaucratic oblivion are depicted in mythological terms. [RR 2017]


propitious fate and Elysium

The narrator says that Charley came to work at the Office of the Weights and Measures, “an Elysium,” by way of a “propitious fate.” Elysium was a location in the underworld that served as the final resting place of some of the greatest heroes of ancient mythology. In order to acquire entrance to Elysium, one would surely have to have “propitious fate,” and if one has “propitious fate,” it is likely that they would go to Elysium. In this way, Charley’s fate seems to be doubly safeguarded by a higher power. [GZ 2016]

Chapter 45 – The Criminal Population is Disposed of

meum and tuum

The narrator claims that Undy Scott knew the difference between “meum and tuum,” Latin for “mine and yours.” Because of his upperclass education, Undy would certainly have known how to translate the Latin; nevertheless, Undy rejects the principle behind “meum and tuum.” The use of Latin here allows us to make our own judgments about Undy’s moral character, since Classical phrases and sayings are often used to moralize. [GZ 2016]



Trollope acknowledges that he would like to hang Undy Scott, but “Fate…and the laws are averse.” Trollope here alludes to both cosmic and human forces that prevent him from delivering such a punishment. [RR 2017]


Castalian rill

When alluding to the downfall of Undy Scott, the narrator hints that perhaps he did not go far enough in punishing Undy. The narrator specifically refers to “the Castalian rill,” or the sacred fountain of the Muses that inspires poetry, and he claims that he didn’t drink enough from the fountain’s “dark waters” to ruin Undy as much as we would perhaps like. [GZ 2016]


Mr. Chaffanbrass on his own dunghill

Because Mr. Chaffanbrass publicly embarasses Undy during the trial, Undy is eager to fight back for his humiliated honor. The narrator states that the courthouse is Mr. Chaffanbrass’ “dunghill,” which means that he is most confident there. Undy realizes this and thus thinks that it would be easier to counter Mr. Chaffanbrass at Undy’s club, which is more familiar to him. This reference comes from the writing of the ancient Roman author Seneca the Younger and was also used in Chapters 10 and 41. See the gloss in Chapter 10 for more information. [GZ 2016]

source: Seneca the Younger, Apocolocyntosis 7.


idle Elysium

Trollope gives us a glimpse of Undy Scott’s future as a poor man amidst the gaming resorts of Europe, here described as the part of the mythological underworld reserved for heroes. Gambling houses may be an earthly Elysium for the idle rich who can afford to lose money, but in Undy’s case the “idle Elysium” becomes an ironic one: he cannot enjoy the pleasures offered, and his punishment becomes his permanent marginalization on the edges of wealthy society. [RR 2017]


dark as Erebus

On the morning on which Gertrude, Alaric, and their family depart, Paradise Row is “dark as Erebus.” Trollope ironically juxtaposes the “paradise” of the street’s name with a simile likening it to the darkness of the Classical underworld. Trollope follows up this paradox with another, related one: the light of the prison “only made darkness visible.” Trollope’s phrasing here recalls the phrase “darkness visible,” used by Milton in Paradise Lost to describe the effect of the absence of light in Hell.

source: Milton, Paradise Lost 1.63.

Chapter 44 – Millbank

walk in the fashion of a god

Alaric’s upward amibitions are here described as if he desired to present himself like a god on earth, his Excelsior mantra aspiring almost to apotheosis. [RR 2017]



In the wake of Alaric’s conviction Gertrude sees England as offering no opportunity for the advancement of Excelsior ambitions: she and Alaric will aim their sights on rising higher elsewhere, in Australia. [RR 2017]