Chapter 38 – Tribulation

halcyon notes

Harry and Linda must put off their wedding again, and Linda has to “counter-write those halcyon notes” which had announced their marriage. For more information on the Classical ties of the word halcyon see the commentary for Chapter 8. Here Trollope retains the marital connotations of the word. [RR 2017]


Pity personified

As we learn about the consequences of the delay of Harry and Linda’s wedding, the narrator invokes Pity personified, which singles out Linda with its “unpitying finger.” Beyond the many difficulties of the delay already known to Linda, she must also accept the pity of many people who wish to express their sadness for her situation. While these people may think that they are showing sympathy to Linda, it is as if she must re-encounter the delay and her grief about it over and over because of their pity. Ironically, however, because of this episode we as readers may now have more pity for Linda than we ever had before. [GZ 2016]


many slips between cup and lip

This phrase is used by the narrator to suggest that bad things can happen before the conclusion of an otherwise assured outcome. The delay of Harry and Linda’s wedding was unexpected by everyone, and the wording of this common saying in the plural here suggests that other surprises may await the couple before they are wed. For the Classical origin of this saying, see the gloss from Chapter 9 of Small House at Arlington. [GZ 2016]

Chapter 37 – Ticklish Stock

Alaric as a god

Though Alaric’s aspirations to climb socially, economically, and politically may be in jeopardy, he has ascended the heights of his wife’s regard and undergone an apotheosis of sorts: Gertrude worships him as a “human god.” [RR 2017]

Chapter 36 – Mrs. Val’s New Carriage

Mrs. Val patronizing Gertrude

See the gloss for “patronized by Mrs. Val” in Chapter 33. [GZ 2016]



As Gertrude, Mrs. Val, and company discuss Alaric’s desire to run for office, Ugolina says that Sir Gregory Hardlines “had put his veto” on Alaric’s participation in the election. In ancient Rome the veto was a special power of the tribune of the plebs to prevent an abuse of power by any other elected official. The association of Sir Gregory’s opinion with the inviolable power of the tribune of the plebs suggests that Sir Gregory will have his way and that Alaric will not run for office. Additionally it reinforces the strong and positive imagery that readers have likely come to associate with Sir Gregory. [GZ 2016]

Chapter 35 – Westminster Hall

in extenso

After the committee investigation about the Limehouse bridge, it is said that the testimony given by Mr. Blocks “was published in extenso” (Latin meaning “at full length”), leading to an increase in the price of the Limehouse bridge shares. Trollope’s use of Latin emphasizes the fact that those who read the full testimony had reason to believe that the construction of the bridge had been saved (for now). The use of Latin is a linguistic gesture that elevates the newspaper’s presentation of Mr. Blocks’ remarks. [GZ & RR 2017]


cent per cent

The Latin ending –um on centum is dropped in the phrase, but the meanings of the Latin words are retained: 100 for 100, or 100%. [RR 2017]


Fortune favoring Alaric

Alaric urges Undy to repay his share of the money “borrowed” from Clementina’s trust to buy stock. He explains to Undy that “Fortune has so far favoured” him in that the stock has risen in value, making repayment of the money possible. Trollope may here be recalling the Latin phrase audentes Fortuna iuvat (Fortune favors the bold), found in Vergil’s Aeneid. Though Fortune has so far favored Alaric’s audacity, it will not continue to do so, belying the Latin sentiment. [RR 2017]

source: Vergil, Aeneid 10.284.



Alaric’s Latin exhortation of Excelsior—higher—is in tension with several mentions of falling in this chapter and is explicitly contrasted with images of his own imprisonment and his family harmed by his actions. [RR 2017]

Chapter 34 – To Stand, or Not to Stand

Roman echoes

At various points in this chapter Trollope uses language which uses resonates with ancient Roman office-holding and other public honors. The acquisition of senate membership was part of the Roman cursus honorum (course of honors/offices), and Trollope refers to Alaric’s aspirations “to parliamentary honours.” The word ambition occurs, whose etymology reminds us of the Roman practice of going (it) around (ambi) to muster political support. Trollope also presents Alaric’s walk across the Park as an ironic solitary non-victory parade: despite his public successes, Alaric is beset by cares. [RR 2017]



Alaric’s Latin mantra—higher—pushes him on to seek a place in parliament, even as his financial goings-on have much that is not lofty about them. Mrs. Val, too, has “her ideas of ‘Excelsior,’” though her hopes are fixed on prominence in her social circle. [RR 2017]


When it first dawns on Alaric that he might be in trouble for abusing his powers as overseer of Clementina’s trust, he worries that he might be accosted by a “myrmidon.” The Myrmidons were a mythic people of ancient Greece who fought in the Trojan War alongside their leader Achilles. Trollope often uses this word to refer to policemen and henchmen, but here the reference to such a warrior underscores Alaric’s realization that misusing Clementina’s funds was a serious mistake. [GZ 2016 & RR 2017]


black Care behind him

As Alaric contemplates his recent successes—a job on the Examination Board and his coming participation in parliamentary elections—he is not free from worry. Trollope signals Alaric’s concerns with a personification of care: “black Care would sit behind him, ever mounted on the same steed.” This image is found in Horace’s Ode 3.1, in which Horace depicts Care as an entity looming vigilantly over people, whether they are in a trireme or on a horse. This ode is about how the troubles of life affect everyone. In effect, Trollope’s sentence cues the reader in to the fact that Alaric’s continual ascent throughout the narrative will likely soon plateau or perhaps even begin to descend. [GZ 2016]

source: Horace, Odes 3.1.38-40


patronized by Mrs. Val

The relationship between Mrs. Val and Gertrude seems to be a power play. Throughout the narrative Mrs. Val tries to “patronize” Gertrude. The meaning of this word in context comes from the ancient Roman sociopolitical construct of patrons and their clients. With their social, monetary, and political influences, patrons would reward their dutiful clients. It doesn’t seem that Gertrude wants to play the role of client to Mrs. Val, either because Gertrude doesn’t seem to think that Mrs. Val is a worthy patron or because Gertrude has never liked being told what to do. [GZ 2016]

head and chief

Trollope may be engaging in some etymological play here: Sir Gregory fears that Alaric will “climb above his head,” and Alaric is “more gracious than ever to his chief.” Chief is derived from the Latin word caput, which itself means head. [RR 2017]