The Latin phrase means “rare birds.” Trollope says that in recent memory liberal clergymen would have been considered rarae aves. That is to say that liberal clergymen were rare. Dr. Proudie is considered a liberal clergyman. However, by the time this story takes place it was not so abnormal or disdainful to be so. Also see gloss in commentary for Doctor Thorne Chapter 18. [TH 2005]
Regius is the Latin word for “royal.” Trollope claims that it was a sign of change for liberal clergymen when Dr. Hampden was made regius professor. A regius professor is one who holds a position created by the crown. The position was originally created by King Henry VIII. Since the monarch must approve each regius professor it is a sign of change to see a liberal clergyman receiving royal approval. [TH 2005]
Sources: Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
Latin for “royal gift.” Dr. Proudie is said to have “something to do” with the regium donum. The regium donum was an annual grant issued to Presbyterian ministers in Ireland. After his conflict with King James II, William III used the regium donum to reward his supporters amongst the Ulster Protestants. Barchester Towers was published in 1857 but the grants were not abolished until 1871. Its appearance in association with Dr. Proudie seems to indicate his level of religious tolerance and reflect the respect of his peers who put him in such an important position. [TH 2005]
eyes of Argus
Argus was a monster from Greek mythology with multiple eyes. Mrs. Proudie is considered Argus-eyed in reference to Sabbath offenders. It marks her superhuman level of vigilance. [TH 2005]
Sources: Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.