in Last Chronicle of Barset

Chapter 56 – The Archdeacon Goes to Framley

Presiding genius

Lady Lufton is described by the narrator as the “presiding genius” at Framley.  In Roman times, the genius was an honored household deity who was believed to protect the household and the members of the family. The Roman genius had a male association which was parallel to the paterfamilias (male head of household).  This Roman term applied to Lady Lufton conveys that she protects her household and her family members.  Perhaps this term is also likening Lady Lufton to a paterfamilias because it is she who protects the well-being of her house and her family.  [AM 2006]

Sources:  OCD.


He could not drop into Framley as though he had come from the clouds

This statement is referring to Archdeacon Grantly’s doubt about how to approach Grace Crawley at Framley and urge her not to marry his son.  This sentence may recall the device used in Greek theater called the deus ex machina or “god from the machine” by which an actor portraying a god was lowered onto the stage.  The deus ex machina was used in a play when earthly characters could not solve a conflict among themselves and a god needed to come from above to resolve the conflict and to restore harmony.  This sentence conveys that Archdeacon Grantly feels that he–unlike a god–cannot simply appear at Framley; the archdeacon also understands that his visit will not easily restore harmony in his household or bring him peace of mind.  [AM & RR 2006]


Ruat coelum, fiat justitia

A Latin proverbial statement meaning, “The world may fall, let justice be done.”  Trollope uses this Latin phrase in conjunction with his comments on the observation that people, when they speak in public gatherings, espouse certain ideals and convictions. However in smaller, more intimate groups what they say differs from the convictions that they stated in public. Trollope remarks that this Latin phrase is the sentiment spoken from an outside balcony to a group of people, conveying how people profess their external convictions and ideals when they are in larger settings.  See the commentary for Chapter 4 of The Warden.  [AM 2006]


Rem, si possis recte, si non, quocunque modo

This is a Latin phrase meaning, “If you are able to do a thing honestly, [do it honestly], but if not, [do it] in whatever way you can.”  The Latin phrase comes from Horace’s Epistles. This phrase continues Trollope’s discussion of how people’s public convictions differ from what they reveal when they are in small groups of people or among friends. This Latin phrase, as Trollope states, is whispered into an ear in a smoking-room. This shows how people in small settings with friends will diverge from their externally professed ideals and reveal to their friends their true and perhaps selfish ideas.  In making this generalization about the difference between publicly and privately articulated views, Trollope uses Latin phrases to emphasize the fact that this is a time-proven pattern of human behavior.  [AM & RR 2006]

Sources:  Horace, Epistle 1.1.66.