in Bertrams

Chapter 24 – Bidding High

Labor omnia vincit improbus

In reference to Henry Harcourt’s various gifts to Mr. Bertram, George quotes from Virgil’s Georgics, 1.145-146.  This phrase translates as “persistent work overcomes all things.”  Harcourt has been visiting Mr. Bertram and bringing gifts in order to befriend him.  It is presumed that Harcourt is doing this in the hope that he may become heir to Mr. Bertram’s fortune.  The Georgics is an agricultural poem that recommends hard work in farming.  Harcourt is industrious so that he may be rewarded with a great fortune.  George’s likening of Harcourt to a hard-working farmer is humorous, since Harcourt’s labor isn’t physical, but lies in persuading Mr. Bertram to part with his money.  [CD 2012]

In the Georgics Vergil uses a perfect tense verb rather than a present tense one:  vicit rather than vincit, “has overcome” rather than “overcomes.”  The sentiment is often expressed with present tense, however, which gives it the ring of a motto or mantra.  [RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Georgics 1.145-146.


Mr. Bertram’s god

Mr. Bertram repeatedly attempts to convince George to re-engage himself to Caroline Waddington by offering him great sums of money.  Yet George does not accept these bribes.  Mr. Bertram, in offering this money, is offering the thing which has the highest value for him.  In this way, his money is a god to him.  Mr. Bertram believes that money in omnipotent in the affairs of the world, and feels heavily scorned when his nephew doesn’t worship money as he does.  [CD 2012]