in Claverings

Chapter 24 – The Russian Spy

a bona fide sporting transaction

Archie Clavering has some reservations about bribing Sophie Gordeloup to help him win Lady Ongar’s affection, but he decides to go through with it on the advice of his friend, Captain Boodle.  Trollope’s use of the Latin phrase bona fide, “in/with good faith,” is ironic because bribery is a course of action filled with subterfuge.  It is also ironic because Sophie’s actions are untrue to her word, and her motives are concealed:  she takes Archie’s money with no intention of helping him gain Lady Ongar’s hand.  [SH 2012]



“Triumviri might be very well; Archie also had heard of triumviri; but two were company, and three were none.”  Trollope records this thought of Archie’s after Hugh denounces the idea that Sophie Gordeloup is a Russian spy.  Archie decides not to include Hugh in his and Boodle’s plan to bribe Sophie, thus ruling out the possibility of triumviriTriumviri is a Latin word meaning “three men;” in ancient Rome, this meant men associated in power or authority.  The first triumvirate, consisting of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus in 60 BCE, was actually an unofficial coalition.  The second triumvirate was a true ruling group, consisting of Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian; they were appointed rulers in 43 BCE.  Even though a coalition of Archie, Boodle, and Sophie would be a three-person coalition, it still would not be triumviri because Sophie is a woman.  [SH 2012]

Although Archie acknowledges a Classical model for a three-man alliance, Archie dismisses it, citing to himself a version of a traditional proverb (“two is company; three is none”) as a higher authority.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.


seven thousands of pounds, what you call per annum

This is Sophie Gordeloup’s description of Lady Ongar’s fortune in her conversation with Archie Clavering.  Sophie has noticed and deployed the British custom of defining annual income with the Latin phrase per annum, “per year.”  By doing so, Sophie makes it clear that she has noticed the British use of Latin phrases such as per annum that would signal her an outsider if she could not employ them herself.  Although she does still mark her origin with the phrase “what you call,” she proves that she is clever, observant, and able to use British turns of phrase properly.  Such knowledge of Classicisms in British culture allows her to integrate herself into society and converse on a level field with Archie and others.  [SH 2012]


altogether of the harpy breed

The word “harpy” comes from the Greek verb harpazo and literally means “snatcher.”  In Greek mythology, harpies are winged female beings who carry off various people and objects and are especially known for plaguing Phineas by snatching away his food.  Here, Archie Clavering calls Sophie a harpy because she quite literally snatched his twenty pounds out of his glove when he attempted to bribe her.  With such a fantastical comparison, Trollope shows that Archie views Sophie as so cunning that she must not even be the same kind of creature as he is.  [SH 2012]

Source:  OCD.