in Old Man's Love

Chapter 07 – John Gordon and Mr. Whittlestaff

a paternal providence, a God-sent support in lieu of a father

The phrase somewhat over-determines how John Gordon happily imagines Mr. Whittlestaff as one who, as father-figure to Mary (not a lover), would block other suitors and preserve Mary for her lover. Providence and God have lent their backing to the doubly-stated paternal force of Whittlestaff-as-father, paternal and father belonging to a common Indo-European root, though paternal is Latinate and father Anglo-Saxon. This linguistic variety in Trollope’s narration of John Gordon’s thinking emphasizes the comfort of uncompetitive, rather than amorous, feelings. [CMS 2018]