in American Senator

Chapter 04 – The Dillsborough Club

Mr. Runciman as jovial tyrant

Mr. Runciman is described as a “jovial” man who acts as the “tyrant” of the club.  Both of these words have a Classical connection:  “jovial” recalls Jupiter or Jove, the Roman king of the gods, and “tyrant” refers to an ancient leader whose power is above the law.  There is humor in Trollope’s application of these words to Mr. Runciman, for although he is the leader of the club, his authority is relatively limited.  [RR 2012]


Lord Rufford was Mr. Runciman’s great friend and patron and best customer

There is a lot at work in this statement as Trollope invokes very different things simultaneously.  Lord Rufford is at first stated as a “great friend” of Mr. Runciman, which conveys a personal relationship between the two.  Next, he is called a “patron,” which calls to mind the Roman social system of patron/client and allows for a social hierarchy to be at play.  This is followed by “customer,” which points to financial exchange between the two.  [KS 2012]


Elysium of sport

As the club discusses Lord Rufford and Goarly’s affair, the members disagree about Dillsborough Wood and whether it is managed in a way that favors foxes or pheasants.  Some maintain that “everything that foxes could desire was done for them in that Elysium of sport.”  Elysium is an area of the underworld reserved for the heroic and the blessed.  Trollope’s invocation of it here as a sort of “paradise” for foxes is ironic in that foxes are fostered in the woods in order that they may ultimately be hunted.  [KS & RR 2012]