in Claverings

Chapter 36 – Captain Clavering Makes His Last Attempt

string to my bow

Archie and Doodles are discussing Archie’s chances with Julia, and they weigh Julia’s attachment to Harry.  Archie reckons that his new status as Hugh’s heir might be a point in his favor over Harry’s claims on Julia’s affections:  “It’s my son who’ll have the Clavering property and be the baronet, not his.  You see what a string to my bow that is.”  Archie here uses an English turn of phrase whose origin rests in the fact that an archer would carry an extra bowstring.  Although this image is not of Classical origin, Trollope often uses it in the context of courtship, which conflates the bow with Cupid’s love-inspiring weapon of choice.  [RR 2013]

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


as beautiful as a Phoebus

Phoebus is another name of Apollo, god of the sun and the ideal of young male beauty in ancient Greece.  Apollo was often associated with the higher intellectual parts of civilization, so the ongoing comparison between him and Harry Clavering, who is fit to be a gentleman and not a working man, is further apt.  This particular comparison to the god is made by Sophie Gordeloup in a letter to Lady Ongar.  After reading it, Lady Ongar considers Sophie’s argument and decides that Harry is indeed “qualified to shine” as Phoebus the sun god.  [SH 2012]


by Jove

This emphatic exclamation calls on Jove, another name for the Roman god Jupiter.  Although it has a literary pedigree (it occurs in Shakespeare and Pope), Trollope most often puts it in the mouths of non-literary male characters.  [SH 2012 & RR 2013]