in American Senator

Chapter 02 – The Morton Family


The “oe” in “oeconomies” is reproducing the sound of oi in its Ancient Greek etymon, oikonomia–“management of the household.”  Trollope here makes use of the Classical meaning of the word and more contemporary connotations of general financial thriftiness:  the squire, in the way his household was run, disliked small ways of cutting costs.  [CD & RR 2012]

Source:  OED.



Trollope is having some fun here by using a Classically derived combining form, “-archy,” meaning “rule by.” “Squirearchy” refers to the property and privileges John Morton will obtain by virtue of taking up the position of a country squire.  [CD & RR 2012]

The OED cites occurrences of the word in other 19th c. sources; most often it is used to refer to a collection of landed gentlemen.  (Trollope himself uses it in that sense in Chapter 33 of The Claverings.)  Here, however, it points to the status, power, and responsibility which one man, John Morton, will assume once he takes on the role of squire.  The OED identifies this application of the word as rare.  [RR 2013]

Source: OED.



Trollope describes the connection between the Masters and the Morton family as one of client and patron.  In ancient Rome wealthy members of the elite would sponsor various members of the classes below them, creating a relationship where the patron provides support for the client, and the client provides services for the patron.  The Masters are like clients to the Morton family because they owe their beginning in the legal profession to the family, and for many generations have conducted their legal business.  [CD 2012]

Source: OCD.


the whole order of things

”The order of things” is a translation of the common Latin phrase rerum ordo.  It was used in 19th century English to refer to the general structure of the world or the way in which it operates.  Trollope brings attention to the fact that the death of the old squire upset the way in which the Masters family conducted business.  [CD 2012]

Source:  A search of the phrase “the order of things” in English books between 1800 and 1899 at Google Books.


palmy days of his reign

”Palmy” is an English adjective meaning “triumphant, flourishing.”  It alludes to the Roman practice of awarding a victorious gladiator or military leader a palm branch.  The old squire’s ”reign” brought prosperity to Dillsborough, a flourishing which declined after his death and the subsequent near-abandonment of Bragton.  [CD 2012]

Source:  OED.