in Dr. Wortle's School

Chapter 14 – Everybody’s Business

tuptō in the morning and amo in the evening

When a writer for the newspaper Everybody’s Business learns of the Peacockes’ story and Dr. Wortle’s defense of the couple, he submits a humorous article that sets off a chain of reactions among the characters in Dr. Wortle’s School.  In mocking Dr. Wortle, the author of the article uses the Greek tuptō (“I strike”) and the Latin amo (“I love”) to suggest the conjugation of verbs, a typical schoolboy exercise.  The article associates Greek (the more difficult of the two languages) with daily work in the school, and the choice of Greek verb reminds readers of the possibility of physical discipline meted out to students by teachers.  By contrast, the Latin verb is used to suggest romantic improprieties undertaken by Dr. Wortle with Mrs. Peacocke during Mr. Peacocke’s absence.  By using Classics in his article, the contributor to Everybody’s Business is perhaps elevating himself while also mocking the values of the higher classes.  [JE & RR 2014]

In discussing the use of these verbs, Mick Imlah further notes a possible play between verb conjugation and sexual “conjugation” or union.

Source:  Trollope, Dr. Wortle’s School. Ed. Mick Imlah.  London:  Penguin, 1999.  See note on p. 220.


vulgar and instant

In his letter to the bishop, Dr. Wortle calls the newspaper article a “scurrilous and vulgar attack.”  “Vulgar” seems to have a double resonance here, signifying both “crass” and “common.”  English “vulgar” is related to Latin vulgus, “the crowd,” “the common people,” and its deployment here resonates with the name of the newspaper which printed the offending article, Everybody’s Business.  Later in the letter, Dr. Wortle refers to the bishop’s letter “of the 12th instant.”  Such a use of “instant” to refer to the current month is derived from the Latin adjectival stem instant-, “present.”  Trollope has Dr. Wortle choose words which attest his Classical credentials.  [RR 2014]