in Three Clerks

Chapter 05 – Bushey Park

philanthropist, democrat, vulgar

Uncle Bat considers himself a “philanthropist” (literally “lover of the people”) and “democrat” (literally “one who believes in rule by the people”) as he enjoys walking in the crowds at the park. Harry, however, thinks of the captain as “vulgar” (literally “pertaining to the crowd”). Trollope uses Greek-derived terms with a positive connotation to convey the captain’s self-image but a Latin-derived term with a negative one to convey Harry’s view of the captain. [RR 2016]


Norman and Gertrude as Mentor

While Harry and Gertrude are walking with each other through Bushey Park, Harry intimates that the arrival of Captain Cuttwater has changed the dynamics of Surbiton Cottage. Gertrude is quick to rebuke him, and the two of them have a back-and-forth, each one playing the role of Mentor. In book 2 of Homer’s Odyssey, Athena helps Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, while she is disguised as Mentor, Odysseus’ long-time friend. If both Harry and Gertrude act as Mentor, it is no wonder that they aren’t compatible. Additionally, it is ironic that they each take up the role of someone made wise by a long life, while they themselves are still young. [GZ 2016]


far-seeing, prudent

Trollope describes Alaric as “a far-seeing, prudent man” who knows that marrying a woman without a dowry would hamper his ambitions. Prudent is derived from Latin providens (literally, “seeing ahead”), so Trollope’s phrasing provides, in essence, parallel descriptors of Alaric, one English-based and the other Latin-based. [RR 2016]


conjugating the verb to love

Being short and regular, the Latin verb amo, amare (love) is often used to practice basic verb conjugation. Here Trollope uses the phrase “conjugating the verb to love” as a clever way of saying that Alaric–despite his prudence–cannot resist some love-making talk with Linda. Compare Trollope’s use of “amo in the evening” in Chapter 14 of Dr. Wortle’s School. [RR 2016]


the quarrels of lovers

When Alaric and Linda discuss Harry and Gertrude, Alaric suggests that the two are sharing a tender moment, but Linda counters that they are probably arguing instead. To that Alaric responds: “Oh! the quarrels of lovers–we know all about that, don’t we?” Here Alaric is invoking a well-known Latin phrase from Terence: amantium irae amoris integratio (“the quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love”). Trollope uses the full Latin phrase as the title of Chapter 5 of Framley Parsonage; see the commentary on that chapter for more information. In 19th c. British society the exchange of Classical quotations can be used to build community because they consolidate a sense of shared cultural ground, so Alaric’s partial quotation followed with the question “we know all about that, don’t we?” seems intended to create a sense of intimacy between himself and Linda. [RR 2016]


pelican feeding its young with its own blood

When it is made clear to readers that Alaric is not wholly committed to the idea of marrying Linda, the narrator chastises Mrs. Woodward for allowing her daughter to be mistreated. However, he is quick to call her “the pelican,” a comparison that draws on the traditional depiction of pelicans found in the ancient text of the Physiologus. This text—a collection of moralizations of animals and nature—has its roots in ancient Greek, and it was later translated into Latin in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its scope was expanded. In the Physiologus, the behavior of the pelican to feed its flesh and blood to its young was likened to an act of extreme motherly devotion. Here we witness one of many reminders of the magnitude of Mrs. Woodward’s love for her children. [GZ 2016]