Lady Augustus is pondering her meeting with Lord Rufford, questioning whether there ever was an offer of marriage. She realizes that Lord Rufford does not intend to be forced to marry Arabella. In that regard, he won’t approach the “hymeneal altar.” Trollope is referencing the god Hymen, Greek god of marriage, who is associated with the marriage song. [CD 2012]
as deep and as black as Acheron
Lady Augustus, having explained Lord Rufford’s offer of an economic settlement to Arabella, thinks back to questionable behavior that both she and Arabella have exhibited during Arabella’s quest to marry. Yet, when Lady Augustus suggests she take the money, which would be both more unscrupulous than previous behavior and more beneficial than previous exploitations, Arabella balks. The Acheron, a river associated with pain in Greek mythology and often indicative of a gruesome and evil image of the underworld as a whole, is invoked in order to draw a comparison between the many small deceits they performed before and the magnitude of taking Rufford’s bribe. Trollope may be alluding particularly to Milton’s description of the river: “Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep.” [CD & RR 2012]
Milton, Paradise Lost 2.578.