in Three Clerks

Chapter 45 – The Criminal Population is Disposed of

meum and tuum

The narrator claims that Undy Scott knew the difference between “meum and tuum,” Latin for “mine and yours.” Because of his upperclass education, Undy would certainly have known how to translate the Latin; nevertheless, Undy rejects the principle behind “meum and tuum.” The use of Latin here allows us to make our own judgments about Undy’s moral character, since Classical phrases and sayings are often used to moralize. [GZ 2016]



Trollope acknowledges that he would like to hang Undy Scott, but “Fate…and the laws are averse.” Trollope here alludes to both cosmic and human forces that prevent him from delivering such a punishment. [RR 2017]


Castalian rill

When alluding to the downfall of Undy Scott, the narrator hints that perhaps he did not go far enough in punishing Undy. The narrator specifically refers to “the Castalian rill,” or the sacred fountain of the Muses that inspires poetry, and he claims that he didn’t drink enough from the fountain’s “dark waters” to ruin Undy as much as we would perhaps like. [GZ 2016]


Mr. Chaffanbrass on his own dunghill

Because Mr. Chaffanbrass publicly embarasses Undy during the trial, Undy is eager to fight back for his humiliated honor. The narrator states that the courthouse is Mr. Chaffanbrass’ “dunghill,” which means that he is most confident there. Undy realizes this and thus thinks that it would be easier to counter Mr. Chaffanbrass at Undy’s club, which is more familiar to him. This reference comes from the writing of the ancient Roman author Seneca the Younger and was also used in Chapters 10 and 41. See the gloss in Chapter 10 for more information. [GZ 2016]

source: Seneca the Younger, Apocolocyntosis 7.


idle Elysium

Trollope gives us a glimpse of Undy Scott’s future as a poor man amidst the gaming resorts of Europe, here described as the part of the mythological underworld reserved for heroes. Gambling houses may be an earthly Elysium for the idle rich who can afford to lose money, but in Undy’s case the “idle Elysium” becomes an ironic one: he cannot enjoy the pleasures offered, and his punishment becomes his permanent marginalization on the edges of wealthy society. [RR 2017]


dark as Erebus

On the morning on which Gertrude, Alaric, and their family depart, Paradise Row is “dark as Erebus.” Trollope ironically juxtaposes the “paradise” of the street’s name with a simile likening it to the darkness of the Classical underworld. Trollope follows up this paradox with another, related one: the light of the prison “only made darkness visible.” Trollope’s phrasing here recalls the phrase “darkness visible,” used by Milton in Paradise Lost to describe the effect of the absence of light in Hell.

source: Milton, Paradise Lost 1.63.