in Three Clerks

Chapter 24 – Mr. M’Buffer Accepts the Chiltern Hundreds

halcyon days

A Classically inspired phrased that Trollope often uses in the context of marriage or betrothal is again employed to underscore Undy Scott’s desire for political life. For more information, see the commentary for Chapter 8. [RR 2016]


being and seeming

Alaric wonders if the movers and shakers of his world are truly honest or only try to appear honest. In de Amicitia Cicero laments that some men of his time prefer the appearance of seeming good to actually being good: “in fact, not so many men wish to be  possessed of virtue itself than to seem to be.” [RR 2016]

source: Cicero, de Amicitia 98.



Alaric invokes his Latin motto—Higher—but Trollope immediately and explicitly presents the ironic possibility that some people lower themselves by trying to rise. The phrasing is such that Trollope may be suggesting that Alaric himself is considering the problem of this paradox. [RR 2016]


the names of the goddess money

Undy Scott delivers a litany of synonyms for money and concludes it with the blanket statement “or by what other name the goddess would be pleased to have herself worshipped.” Money’s elevation to the divine emphasizes Undy’s prioritization of it, and there are Classical precedents for calling a divinity by multiple names and even for including a blanket statement covering all possible names in an invocation (for instance, Catullus 34, a poem which takes the form of a hymn to Diana). [RR 2016]


pelican feeding her young

This is another reference to the moralized nature of the pelican, found in the ancient Greek work Physiologus. However, unlike the earlier comparison of Mrs. Woodward to the pelican (see the gloss in the Chapter 5 commentary), which the narrator makes with admiration, Undy Scott compares his father to the pelican with bitter sarcasm. To expect his own father to lend him money would be like expecting a goose to feed its own young like a pelican does—an unthinkable idea. [GZ 2016]