in Small House at Allington

Chapter 43 – Fie, Fie!


This is a term applied to the affection and intimacy between Palliser and Lady Dumbello. The term “platonic” refers to the 5th/4th century Athenian philosopher.  A platonic relationship is one characterized by a purely spiritual nature, free from sensual desire. Trollope describes Lady Dumbello and Palliser’s relationship as “platonic,” signaling that their relationship in non-sexual.  See the commentary for Chapter 16 of Framley Parsonage. [AM 2006]

Sources:  OED.


ad valorem

A Latin phrase literally meaning “toward value.”  This is a name of a kind of tax Lady Dumbello and Palliser are discussing.  The fact that Lady Dumbello asks for an explanation of this relatively dry subject (when she usually does not talk to anyone at length) shows the special interest she takes in Palliser.  [AM & RR 2006]


ignis fatuus

A Latin phrase literally meaning “foolish fire” and referring to a will-o’-the wisp.  Trollope uses this Latin phrase to describe people’s undecided view of Palliser at this point in his career; he might become a leading and able politician, or he may prove to be misleadingly promising.  [AM & RR 2006]



Trollope uses this term to convey the ambiguous information contained in the newspapers.  The use of the term “oracles” suggests that revealed information is doubtful and uncertain in its interpretation. The ambiguous nature of revealed information recalls the misunderstood oracles in Herodotus’s History and in Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus.  [AM 2006]

Sources:  Herodotus, History (especially book 1).
Sophocles, Oedipus.


Amaryllis in the shade

Amaryllis is a name found in the pastoral poetry of Vergil and Theocritus.  This phrase comes directly from Milton’s Lycidas, Milton’s homage to ancient pastoral poetry. Trollope uses this phrase to demonstrate how Palliser, in spite of his political promise and ambitions, thinks himself to be entitled to a moment of respite and happiness with Lady Dumbello.  [AM & RR 2006]

Sources:  Vergil, Eclogue 1.
Theocritus, Idyll 3.
Milton, “Lycidas” 68.


complimenting his possible future patron

Fothergill, a gentleman who manages the Duke of Omnium’s affairs, compliments Palliser on his speeches and predicts for Palliser his future political power.  By referring to Palliser as a “patron,” Trollope is not only recalling the Roman patron/client relationship but also asserting how Fothergill is socially below and subservient to Palliser.  [AM 2006]