in Last Chronicle of Barset

Chapter 40 – Mr. Toogood’s Ideas about Society

Had conquered him by her charms, and he was now a slave

William Summerkin, the clerk who is engaged to Polly Toogood, is described with this phrase.  The practice of making conquered people become slaves was common in ancient Greece and Rome.  Summerkin is also described as anticipating “matrimonial sacrifice,” an image which recalls the parallels drawn in The Small House at Allington between the engaged Crosbie and a calf prepared for sacrifice.  See, for example, the commentary for Chapter 7 of The Small House at Allington.  [EB 2006]


The world has been heavy on him

This phrase, used by both Mr. Toogood and John Eames when discussing Mr. Crawley, may refer to the mythological figure Atlas, a Titan who was punished for rebelling against the gods by being made to hold up the sky for all eternity.  In some Roman and Hellenistic art he is portrayed as holding up the entire globe rather than the sky.  Crawley’s self-loathing nature makes him feel as if he, like Atlas, holds up the weight of the world alone.  [EB 2006]

Sources:  Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology.