in Three Clerks

Chapter 32 – How Apollo Saved the Navvy


The title of this chapter alludes to Horace’s Satire 1.9, in which the poet is drawn into a long and unwanted conversation with someone he meets as he walks around Rome; he is finally rescued when he and his interlocutor are intercepted to appear in court—Horace as witness and his interlocutor as defendant. Horace attributes his deliverance to Apollo, patron god of poets. Charley feels similarly trapped by the idea of a marriage to Norah, but when he enters the Cat and Whistle he learns that, in Charley’s absence, Norah has married Mr. Peppermint. Charley thus feels the relief that Horace did, and freed from a marriage to Norah Charley recommits himself to his writerly aspirations. There is a somewhat ironic difference between the Horatian satire and Charley’s situation: while Charley’s position may be most like Horace’s, it also recalls that of Horace’s interlocutor, since both Charley and the interlocutor find themselves in legal straights, the interlocutor with the court case and Charley with his debts. In fact, Charley’s earlier run-in with the bailiff (see Chapter 27 commentary) becomes a kind of deliverance in retrospect, in that it saved him from cementing his betrothal to Norah. Viewed in this light, the bailiff’s hand upon Charley echoes the touch on Horace’s ear by which he is formally designated a witness and thus “saved” from his tedious conversation. [RR 2016]

Source: Horace, Satire 1.9, especially 73-78.


gifts of Bacchus

In Chapter 20 Trollope had described the Cat and Whistle as one of the “tranquil shrines of Bacchus,” the Roman god of wine. In celebration of Norah’s marriage, the “gifts of Bacchus” are being dispensed freely by Mrs. Davis as she mixes port punch for the gathered crowd. [RR 2016]



Sir Gregory does not understand why Alaric, whose position on the board is secure, would want to run for parliamentary office, but Alaric again exhorts himself to look beyond his current job with “Excelsior,” or “Higher.” [RR 2016]