in Bertrams

Chapter 26 – Hurst Staple


George Bertram is reflecting on the choices that he made in Jerusalem due to Caroline.  He turned away from his plan to join the Church because of Caroline, making himself an apostate.  The idea of George as an apostate is amplified by the fact that Caroline is so likened to the pagan queen of the gods, Juno.  In this, George is likened to a figure such as Julian the Apostate, a Roman emperor who attempted to turn the empire away from Christianity and back to the religion of old Rome.  Trollope uses this subtle nod to history to reinforce the image of Caroline as Juno.  For the first time, Caroline is seen as a bit of a temptress, in that she tempted George away from the Church.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  OCD.


no one becomes an infidel at once

George Bertram is reflecting on the abandonment of his plans to become an Anglican minister.  Trollope points out that no man becomes an infidel (loses their faith) all at once, but that once the first step is taken it is all downhill.  The phrase “no one becomes an infidel at once” is a play on a famous line of Juvenal’s–nemo repente fuit turpissimus–that says in English that no man becomes superlatively immoral all at once.  The theme of Juvenal’s satire in which this line appears is the hypocrisy of moralists without morals.  It is likely that Trollope is using the theme of this satire to poke fun at George Bertram, as his heart was never fully committed to becoming part of the Anglican clergy even without Caroline.  [CMC & RR 2012]

Source:  Juvenal, Satire 2.83.


Flora Buttercup

George and Arthur are arguing over the tenets of the Anglican faith.  To make a point, George invents a country girl whom he names Flora Buttercup.  Trollope is being humorous with this name, as flora is Latin for “flower” and a Buttercup is a type of flower.  [CMC 2012]


Caesar’s tribute should be paid to Caesar

George and Arthur are discussing the nature of faith and the literal truth of the Bible.  George says that for him, he must be able to take all of it as true or none at all.  He says that the sun standing still upon Gibeon must be as true as the wisdom of Christ stating that the people of Jerusalem should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s–namely, taxes.  Trollope is cleverly blending two common sources of allusion in the novel:  the Bible and Classics.  He combines them to give this quasi-essay portion of the novel special resonance with his Victorian audience.  British people during this age would have been quite attuned to issues of the Church of England, especially when intermixed with Classical and overt Biblical references.  [CMC 2012]

Source:  Matthew 22:21.