in Old Man's Love

Chapter 03 – Mary Lawrie

Mary as simplex munditiis

Trollope says of Mary Lawrie: “her hair was dark, worn very plain, but with that graceful care which shows that the owner has not slurred over her toilet with hurried negligence.” Considering how deep and important Whittlestaff’s knowledge of Horace is, perhaps this is an echo of Horace Odes 1.5 which famously describes the seductive Pyrrha tying up her auburn hair, simplex munditiis, “simple in elegance.” The poet asks what boy Pyrrha is seducing, for whom she has tied up her hair, and the poem implies that Pyrrha will leave the boy undone; Horace has learned to stay away. The specific characteristics of Pyrrha and Mary are superficially very different, but perhaps Trollope hints here at the world-shattering effect Mary will ultimately have on Mr. Whittlestaff. [CMS 2018]


thoughtful and contemplative

These are synonyms, one derived from Anglo-Saxon, the other from Latin (by way of French); the doubling of the idea enforces the character of one who would, “study a lady’s eyes,” but also give thought to the results of study. [CMS 2018]