in Three Clerks

Chapter 38 – Tribulation

halcyon notes

Harry and Linda must put off their wedding again, and Linda has to “counter-write those halcyon notes” which had announced their marriage. For more information on the Classical ties of the word halcyon see the commentary for Chapter 8. Here Trollope retains the marital connotations of the word. [RR 2017]


Pity personified

As we learn about the consequences of the delay of Harry and Linda’s wedding, the narrator invokes Pity personified, which singles out Linda with its “unpitying finger.” Beyond the many difficulties of the delay already known to Linda, she must also accept the pity of many people who wish to express their sadness for her situation. While these people may think that they are showing sympathy to Linda, it is as if she must re-encounter the delay and her grief about it over and over because of their pity. Ironically, however, because of this episode we as readers may now have more pity for Linda than we ever had before. [GZ 2016]


many slips between cup and lip

This phrase is used by the narrator to suggest that bad things can happen before the conclusion of an otherwise assured outcome. The delay of Harry and Linda’s wedding was unexpected by everyone, and the wording of this common saying in the plural here suggests that other surprises may await the couple before they are wed. For the Classical origin of this saying, see the gloss from Chapter 9 of Small House at Arlington. [GZ 2016]