in Claverings

Chapter 28 – What Cecelia Burton Did for Her Sister-in-Law

children gracious as young gods

Trollope gives Theodore Burton’s opinion of his children to show the reader how happy Theodore is with his life.  To think that the children are young gods is to think that they are perfect, and that they can only become more of a joy to Theodore as they grow.  This picture of a heavenly air at the Burton home makes for an even stronger contrast between Theodore’s typical outlook on life and his current anxiety about Harry’s conduct toward Florence.  [SH 2012]


sins which the gods should punish with instant thunderbolts

Zeus (or Roman Jupiter), the king of the gods, was often depicted in antiquity holding thunderbolts that he used to issue warnings or to strike down evildoers.  By referencing this ancient image of divine retribution, Trollope conveys Theodore Burton’s feeling that Harry’s offences toward Florence are great enough to deserve attention and even punishment from the heavens.  [SH 2012]


she has postponed her love of to you to love of money

When Cecelia Burton confronts Harry about Julia, she asks him:  “And is Florence to suffer because she [i.e., Lady Ongar] has postponed her love of you to her love of money?”  The English verb “postpone” is derived from the Latin postponere,  literally “to place after.”  Trollope’s use of “postponed” here reflects the word’s Latin etymological components:  in choosing to marry Lord Ongar, Julia put her affection for Harry after her concern for wealth.  The OED gives examples of this usage in English from the 16th through 19th centuries.  In Latin, forms of postponere could be followed by both an accusative direct object and a dative indirect object; Trollope uses the equivalent English syntax here, as do some of the analogous examples provided in the OED.

In English nowadays we most often use “postpone” to mean “put off until another time,” and a shade of that meaning could also be at work in Cecelia’s wording:  Lady Ongar delayed pursuing her interest in Harry until after she had acquired Lord Ongar’s wealth.  [RR 2013]

Source:  OED.