Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope has that one thing necessary to be a good novelist - a sense of everyday evil. What could be wrong with networking? Everybody’s at it. There are people to be cultivated and there are people to be shunned, usually described as losers. Sometimes those that ought to be avoided, in Victorian terms scoundrels, cads and bounders; may be well placed to give a judicious push up the ladder of preferment. Mark Robarts’s friendship with young Lord Lufton through a crammer to Harrow to Oxford and a gentleman’s third has gained the living at Framley the gift of Lady Lufton the widowed mother of said Lord. Not only has he gained the good living from her but Robarts was fixed up with an excellent wife who has borne him two fine children. Yes of course Lady Lufton is a managing sort of woman and one chafes under a sense of obligation albeit soothed by a growing sense of entitlement. Enter the sulphurous gentleman in the form of dangerous new associates. Lord Lufton is I fear being prepared for a chaste and elegant rooking and Robarts may be drawn into it.

That’s where I am at the moment. Trollope as well as having a refined sense of ‘he who contemneth small things falleth by little and little’ can bolt from his Tory covert from time to time:

The Chaldicotes set, as Lady Lufton called them, were in every way opposed to what a set should be according to her ideas. She liked cheerful, quiet, well-to-do people, who loved their Church, their country, and their Queen, and who were not too anxious to make a noise in the world. She desired that all the farmers round her should be able to pay their rents without trouble, that all the old women should have warm flannel petticoats, that the working men should be saved from rheumatism by healthy food and dry houses, that they should all be obedient to their pastors and masters—temporal as well as spiritual. That was her idea of loving her country. She desired also that the copses should be full of pheasants, the stubble-field of partridges, and the gorse covers of foxes;—in that way, also, she loved her country. She had ardently longed, during that Crimean war, that the Russians might be beaten—but not by the French, to the exclusion of the English, as had seemed to her to be too much the case; and hardly by the English under the dictatorship of Lord Palmerston. Indeed, she had had but little faith in that war after Lord Aberdeen had been expelled. If, indeed, Lord Derby could have come in!
And then, when he had duly marked the path of the line through Borneo, Celebes, and Gilolo, through the Macassar strait and the Molucca passage, Mr. Harold Smith rose to a higher flight. "But what," said he, "avails all that God can give to man, unless man will open his hand to receive the gift? And what is this opening of the hand but the process of civilization—yes, my friends, the process of civilization? These South Sea islanders have all that a kind Providence can bestow on them; but that all is as nothing without education. That education and that civilization it is for you to bestow upon them—yes, my friends, for you; for you, citizens of Barchester as you are." And then he paused again, in order that the feet and hands might go to work. The feet and hands did go to work, during which Mr. Smith took a slight drink of water.
He was now quite in his element and had got into the proper way of punching the table with his fists. A few words dropping from Mr. Sowerby did now and again find their way to his ears, but the sound of his own voice had brought with it the accustomed charm, and he ran on from platitude to truism, and from truism back to platitude, with an eloquence that was charming to himself.

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