in Bertrams

Chapter 29 – Mrs. Leake of Rissbury

footsteps heavier than Camilla’s

Sir Lionel has been denied the opportunity to walk with Adela Gauntlet and Miss Todd. As Miss Todd fetches her bonnet, Trollope states that her footsteps are “heavier than Camilla’s.”  In Roman mythology, Camilla is the daughter of King Metabus, who dedicated her to the goddess Diana.  Following in the footsteps of her divine patron, Camilla does not marry; in this regard, she is like Miss Todd.  But there the similarity ends.  Camilla was also a huntress and fighter notable for her quick feet.  At the end of book 7 of the Aeneid, Vergil offers a detailed description of Camilla’s swiftness.  Trollope seems to be poking fun at Miss Todd by commenting on her gait and (presumably) weight.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Vergil, Aeneid 7.803-817 (description of Camilla’s running) and 11.535.-594 (Diana’s recapitulation of Camilla’s history).



Trollope is describing Mrs. Leake and notes that she has some sort of relationship with the “county-ocracy,” which is the cause for admiration from the other women of Littlebath.  Trollope employs this word for some linguistic humor. The suffix “-ocracy,” comes from the Greek element krat-, which means “power” or “rule.”  By referring to the county society as “county-ocracy,” Trollope seems to elevate its importance.  Trollope attempts to elevate it because that is how Mrs. Leake and the women of Littlebath would make it out to be, but its importance is somewhat undermined by Trollope’s linguistic absurdity.  [KS & RR 2012]


being at Rome, did as Romans do

This expression dates back to antiquity.  St. Ambrose is said to have written this in reply to St. Augustine:  “When I am at Milan, I do as they do at Milan; but when I go to Rome, I do as Rome does.”  Miss Todd is described as someone who does not enjoy visiting Mrs. Leake, but since she is in Littlebath, she intends to do as the people of Littlebath do.  There is humor in the juxtaposition of the seat of the Roman empire and the modest resort of Littlebath.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  Entry in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.



Sir Lionel is described as someone who is thought about by the “Lucretias” of Littlebath.  Lucretia was the wife of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus and was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the then-king of Rome.  Lucretia committed suicide because of the shame she felt, and the event is often presented as one of the driving forces behind the overthrow of the monarchy in early Rome.  Lucretia’s extreme adherence to an ideal of female purity caused her to be admired by many.  In likening the women of Littlebath to a bunch of “Lucretias,” Trollope creates a sense of irony because they are willing to leave behind their “maiden meditations” and give up their chastity for Sir Lionel.  [KS & RR 2012]

Source:  OCD.