in Small House at Allington

Chapter 17 – Courcy Castle

shillings and pence…pence and shillings

Use of a Latin rhetorical device found in Roman poetry called chiasmus, in which the order of similar elements in a sentence or line are repeated in reverse order, such as AB…BA.  [AM 2006]


paternal horses, paternal wines, maternal milliner

Latinate words are used for elevated speech with comic effect.  [AM 2006]



This is an allusion to Rumor in Book 4 of Vergil’s Aeneid.  According to Aeneid 4.174-175, “no evil is swifter” than Rumor or Fama, who “flourishes in movement and gains strength by going.”  Rumor in the Aeneid is the ill that spreads the word about the relationship between Dido and Aeneas.  Trollope uses this allusion to the Aeneid’s Rumor to convey how the news of the break-off of Lady Alexandrina’s engagement spread to others and became exaggerated in the process.  [AM & RR 2006]

Sources:  Vergil, Aeneid 4.174-175.


He believed himself to be a great man because with world fought for his wife’s presence….

This sentence may be alluding to the pride of Paris because the Trojan War was caused by his capture of and marriage to Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.  In Homer’s Iliad 3.156-158, the old men on the wall of Troy see Helen and state that no one could blame the Greeks and Trojans for fighting over such a woman.  In our text, Lady Dumbello’s beauty has been taken great note of by the social circle at Courcy Castle.  In fact, it is her beauty that is greatly emphasized in any reference to her, just as beauty was Helen’s primary feature.  The “world fighting” for the presence of a beautiful lady may recall the Trojan War.  Reference to the pride of Paris at the struggle over Helen occurred in a previous chapter regarding Cradell’s internal joy that his close intimacy with Mr. Lupex’s wife had generated chaos in Burton Crescent.  See the commentary for Chapter 11.  [AM 2006]

Sources:  Homer, Iliad, 3.154-160.


By Jove

John De Courcy uses this interjection, referring to the king of the Roman gods, to stress his opinion that he would not have taken George De Courcy’s wife as his wife even if she had “ten times thirty thousand pounds.”  [AM 2006]