County Chronicle (1950)

Picture of the dust cover of "County Chronicle"

References for the novel County Chronicle, by Angela Thirkell.

‘Relusions’ for the Hamish Hamilton edition.

Chapter 1

8 If there had been a garden path – see Dickens, David Copperfield, chapter 13. Also page 128 below, [garden path and Mr Dick references] The Headmistress 43, Love Among The Ruins 341, Never Too Late 11, 266, Jutland Cottage 126, A Double Affair 58, 71, 274, Love At All Ages 178. (And King Charles’s head, What Did It Mean? 182).

9 Your son marries a Duke’s daughter… or forges a cheque – this is from Trollope.. Mark Robarts signs promissory notes in Framley Parsonage. Frank Tregear marries Lady Mary, daughter of the Duke of Omnium, in The Duke’s Children.

10 That feller Cripps – Sir Stafford Cripps, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1945 Labour Government. (see 136)

jumped-up Welshman – Aneurin Bevan, Minister of Health in the 1945 Labour Government, when the National Health Service began.

12 Hepplethwaite & Crowther – Can’t associate this to any old-established wine-merchants that I know of.

13 The emotion it recollected in tranquillity – Wordsworth, Preface to the Lyrical Ballads. See also Jutland Cottage 38, Love At All Ages 12.

16 Leave your old father… – Old Testament: Ruth, chapter 2 verse 11.

24 MacPhairson Clongocketty Angus M‘Clan – W S Gilbert, Bab Ballads, Ellen M‘Jones Aberdeen.

24 David I – King of Scotland 1084-1183. Known as the Saint, uncle of Matilda, claimant to the English throne, but I can’t trace “ane sair member”.

Chapter 2

32 A raven in the wilderness – Elijah was fed by ravens when he was hiding from Ahab’s army in the desert. Old Testament, 1 Kings chapter 17, verses 1-17.

34 Unconsidered trifles – Autolycus in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale.

I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart – poem ‘Renouncement’, by Alice Meynell, 1837-1895.

Hokey-Pokey, winky, wum – from a song ‘King of the Cannibal Islands.’ “His subjects sharpened their teeth with files”, as in Mngangaland, see page 342 below.

36 We all wear our rue with a differenceHamlet, Act 4, Sc 5, Ophelia says to the Queen “You may wear your rue with a difference”, meaning that the Queen should be wearing hers as a sign of repentance for having been complicit in her husband’s death whereas Ophelia is wearing hers in mourning.

From gold to gold of my girdle – can’t trace this, but it sounds like a ballad.

37 His little bark attendant sailed – Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, epistle 4, l. 385: “Say shall my little bark attendant sail/Pursue the triumph and partake the gale.” (thanks to AE and RB). Also Northbridge Rectory 331.

46 Rosa Dartle – Steerforth’s mother’s embittered companion, in Dickens’s David Copperfield.

51 Most unadmir’d disorder – AE thinks that Angela Thirkell just added ‘un’ to Lady Macbeth’s ‘most admir’d disorder’ in the Banquo’s ghost scene when she scolds Macbeth for ‘displacing the mirth’ and so on. The reference to the old dining table on p.51 strengthens this possibility, since Banquo’s ghost interrupts a banquet. Also Private Enterprise 68, Love Among The Ruins 339,

Chapter 3

62 References to Trollope’s The Small House at Allington – Also pages 103 and 235.

Chapter 4

73 In fang and out fang – the right of a landowner to hang one of his men or someone else’s if caught wrongdoing on his property (or anywhere if one of his own men). Also What Did It Mean 214.

74 cheval de charrue and cheval pur sang – cart (lit. plough) horse and thoroughbred.

75 The Great Harry: Henry VIII’s warship, launched in 1514.

84 Katherine Barlass – put her arm through the bolt fastenings of the door at the siege of Perth Castle in 1437. Also The Duke’s Daughter 224, Cheerfulness Breaks In 128 where she is ‘Catherine.’

89 Fluvius Minucius – Can’t trace this. Fluvius = river, Minucius =

94 The first hundred thousand – military volunteers were recruited in the first two weeks of World War One.

94 Lord Kitchener was Secretary of State for War .

Be courteous to women, but no more – “You are ordered abroad as a soldier of the King to help our French comrades against the invasion of the common enemy..In this new experience you may find temptations both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy. Do your duty bravely. Fear God. Honour the King.” Lord Kitchener: A message to the soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force, 1914, to be kept by each soldier in his Active Service Pay- Book. Thanks to RB for finding this. Also (frivolously of schoolmasters) in Summer Half 40 , A Double Affair 81.

Chapter 5

97 Todgers’s could do it – Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, chapter 9. Refers to dinner laid on at Todgers’s boarding-house to entertain the Pecksniffs.

98 Good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow – Bottom asks Titania for “a bottle [bundle] of hay. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’ s Dream, Act 4 scene 1.

100 nearly had a libel action – Angela Thirkell was threatened with a libel action in 1948 by a Miss Vera Telfer, whom she had portrayed as “Miss V Lefter” in Love Among the Ruins. She also lampooned Sir Stafford Cripps as Kripps in later novels, but was persuaded to delete these references.

101 The creature had glimmerings of reason in her – in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels the Houyhnhnms think that Gulliver, although a Yahoo, has glimmerings of reason, Also “the creature has glimmerings of sense”, The Old Bank House 302.

105 Out of God’s blessing – ‘Out of God’s blessing into the warm sun.’ One of Ray’s proverbs (there were various editions of John Ray’s Collection of English Proverbs from the first in 1670 to the last in 1817) meaning from good to less good. “Ab equis ad asmos When the king says to Hamlet “How is it that the clouds still hang on you?” the prince answers, “No, my lord, I am too much i’ the sun,” meaning, “I have lost God’s blessing, for too much of the sun”- i.e. this far inferior state. “Then out of heaven’s benediction comest/To the warm sun.” Shakespeare : King Lear, Act 2 scene 2. Also: “Let me leap out of the frying-pan into the fire; or, out of God’s blessing into the warm sun” – Miguel de Cervantes, 1547-1616. Can’t trace anything in the Bartlett’s entry for Lyly, who was an English playwright (1544-1606), author of Euphues and his England, and used as source material by Shakespeare.

106 Hippocampus, Bishop of Rhinoceros – presumably this is a parody of St Augustine of Hippo, though he was 4th century, and the Nestorian heresy was a 5th century heresy taught by Nestorius of Antioch, holding that Jesus was not only two natures, but two persons, human and divine, and that Mary was the mother only of the human person.

the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ is a classic of Gothic horror. The collapse of the house is supernatural and is partly the consequence of the illicit relations between Roderick and Madeline Usher. Presumably there is no equivalent in the relationship of old Canon Thorne and his unmarried sister?

Yorick, nothingnessHamlet, Act 5, scene 1 is the obvious source, but there is no mention of nothingness. Thanks to AE, who adds: “I’m puzzled by Yorick and nothingness. I can’t find the word ‘nothingness’ in Hamlet V:1 and, though the Prince often muses in the play on the concept of nothingness, does he ever use the word? Isn’t the word a later coinage – about the time of the Romantics? Eg Keats’s poem ‘Endymion’ ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever,/Its loveliness increases,/It will never pass into nothingness.’” There is however a great deal on the internet about Hamlet and the idea of nothingness. Oxford being depressed and ‘Nuffielded into nothingness’ is an allusion to the New Bodleian Library on Broad Street, provided by William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, and much derided for looking like a factory building. As far as Thirkell was concerned, Lord Nuffield was to be despised for having earned his barony as a result of manufacturing cars. She would also have been annoyed that he had the same name as the William Morris who was a friend of her grandfather Edward Burne-Jones.

113 Earthly Paradise – given capital letters because it is a poem by William Morris (1834-1896).

Miss Pleasant Riderhood – Dickens, Our Mutual Friend. Her hair kept tumbling down and she kept twisting it up again.

Gaiters’ – Boots, whose lending libraries always stocked the latest Angela Thirkell.

114 Happy Thoughts – by Sir Francis Cowley Burnand, English humorist and regular contributor to Punch. Author of Cox and Box, with music by Arthur Sullivan. Also page 161 and Never Too Late page 78.

115 Great Pilot at the helm – AE writes: “The use of Pilot for Christ goes back at least to Milton (‘Lycidas’ 1.109, ‘The Pilot of the Galilean lake’) but it became very common indeed in 19th century hymns…Christ the Pilot at the Helm is the subject of an unfinished painting by Holman Hunt (in 1894) and he used the words ‘great’, ‘pilot’, and ‘helm’ in correspondence about the painting. There’s an interesting article about this by George P Landlow, and Watts painted a similar subject which he called ‘Love steering the boat of humanity’”.

116 Triumph of hope over experience – said by Dr Johnson about marriage. Also page 134.

118 Bohun – The Reverend Thomas Bohun, Canon of Barchester 1657-1665 is a wonderful parody of John Donne, the best of the metaphysical poets. Thirkell has chosen a name whose pronunciation attracts attention, as ‘Donne’ is pronounced ‘Dun’ and ‘Bohun’ is pronounced ‘Bun.’ Also pages 220-221, 240-241.

119 Bombast Paracelsus – The poem, ‘Consequences’, is a chapter heading in Plain Tales from the Hills, by Kipling. Paracelsus’s name was Theophrastus Phillipus Aureolus Bombastus von Paracelsus.

Chapter 6

127 The base Indian who threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe – Shakespeare, Othello, Act 5, scene 2.

127 the circumambient air – a much-used expression, but possibly, given AT’s upbringing, from the Loeb translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “not yet did the earth hang poised by her own weight in the circumambient air, nor had the ocean stretched her arms along the far reaches of the lands.’ Also The Headmistress 248, A Double Affair 61.

127 They – a short story by Kipling from Traffics and Discoveries (1904). The reference on page 128 is to Kipling’s marked tendency to sue for breach of copyright.

128 Henry Fielding – author of the novel Tom Jones (1749)

128 Mr Dick… – Dickens, David Copperfield, chapter 14. On being asked by Miss Trotwood what she was to do with the child, Mr Dick said “Have him measured for a suit of clothes directly”.

129 Miss Banks had taught them to say Uraynus – See The Old Bank House

130 Knights – Barts (the nickname for St Bartholomew’s Hospital) is also an abbreviation of baronets, to match knights.

131 Nation spoke to a Throne – see Kipling poem ‘Our Lady of the Snows’ (1898). Also notes to The Duke’s Daughter 18.

132 Restrictions….on food – After World War 2 Food Rationing didn’t end until 1954. Petrol was also in short supply.

133 Wicked fairy at a christening – the fairytale of the Sleeping Beauty. Also Close Quarters 279.

134 Honka-Tonka-Bodyline – Derived from the great bodyline bowling cricket furore of the 1930s? But fits well, as Patricia T. O’Conner wrote in the Literary Review December 2020, with “steamy productions like Burning Flesh, …One Night in the Vatican, Legs Round Your Neck.”.

136 Sir Stafford Cripps – a teetotal vegetarian, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and responsible for much of the post-war austerity measures.

138 Sally Brass and Richard Swiveller – two very different characters in Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop.

139 Analects of Procrastinator – Still trying to trace the relusion here. In view of the author of the Analects perhaps the chances of publication are remote.

141 Paul Sabatier – won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1912. Why he should have been lecturing on St Francis is a mystery.

141 Scottish Students’ Songbook – edited by A.G. Abbie, published in 1891, then again in 1929 until a limited company had to be formed. The list is not a particularly racy one, including titles such as ‘Abdul the Bulbul Ameer’, ‘British Grenadiers’, ‘Hail, Columbia!’ and ‘Sally in our Alley.’

141 St Sycorax – Sycorax was a witch, and mother of Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

141 a very present help in trouble – from Psalm 46, verse 1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

145 the waters closed over the heads of the young Brandons – Possibly another biblical reference: Lamentations chapter 3 verse 54: “Waters flowed over mine head; then I said I am cut off.”

146 New Look – important change in fashion post war as fabric became more readily available: nipped-in waists, flared over the hips, with longer, fuller skirts.

146 Amethyst – In April 1949 HMS Amethyst was attacked by Chinese Communist forces and ran aground in the Yangtze River. With her commanding officer and many others dead, she eventually fought her way to freedom three months later in a legendary act of courage.

147 Sister Helen – this predates the “Dead Men Walking” Nobel prizewinner, might be a Canadian nurse from WWI, but unlikely, as she married!

My Lesbia has a roving eye – refers to a poem by Sappho, paraphrased by Catullus, and later by Byron. Or, see What Did It Mean 305,

Thomas Moore – Irish Melodies

My sister, my spouse – Song of Solomon, chapter 4 verse 12. Much more in Miss Hampton and Miss Bent’s line!

148 Florence Nightingale – Cecil Woodham Smith was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her biography of Florence Nightingale in 1950.

149 Pantellaria (sic) – Pantelleria is a small Italian island between Sicily and Tunisia. On 11 June 1943 Combined Operations successfully carried out Operation Corkscrew (just the thing for Mr Wickham!) as a preliminary test before the planned invasion of Sicily and Italy.

153 Mr Traill – Hugh Walpole wrote Mr Perrin and Mr Traill , a story of two feuding schoolmasters, in 1911. Why Mr Feeder, I don’t know.

155 I wish I were the Devil, with a rat that could speak on my shoulder – Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveller (1861) ch. 15, Nurse’ s Stories.(Thanks to Sue J and RB for this)

Chapter 7

157 Taffy…Welshmen – Aneurin Bevan was Minister for Health.

159 Sir Isaac Newton and Descartes – both were mathematicians.

160 Chevaux-de-frise – a defensive structure made of barbed wire or spikes on a moveable wooden frame, used to obstruct cavalry.

161 Lars Porsena – How Horatius Kept the Bridge, by Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay. What with……the end of the sentence: one of Angela Thirkell’s tours de force, but she’s forgotten to include a main clause!

163 Arshy, booshy… – Sir Francis Cowley Burnand, 1837-? English humorist and contributor to Punch, and editor of Happy Thoughts. Can’t find it in more detail. (see also page 114 above)

163 Bacchante – Priestesses of Bacchus, the god of wine and drinkers.

167 The devil a monk would be – “The devil was sick, the devil a monk would be/ the devil was sick – the devil a monk was he.” Rabelais. Said of those who make pious promises in times of danger or sickness, but forget them once things get better.

175 Pelican – the pelican, a Christian symbol of piety, was said to feed its young with its own blood.

Chapter 8

185 Kipling – the quotation is from ‘Soldier, Soldier’ (Barrack Room Ballads).

187 That peculiar service – Agnes is referring to the 1928 Prayer Book, which was called the Deposited Book, twice offered to Parliament in 1927 and 1928 and rejected both times as returning to Roman types of doctrine and worship. The new (and ‘objectionable’) bits had black lines printed down the side so that MPs could recognise them more easily. After Parliament’s rejection the House of Bishops still had it printed again with a disclaimer in the front that Parliament had rejected it, with the unspoken implication ‘but we are saying that you can use it’.

190 Nelson’s brother received a pension – but Emma Hamilton did not. After Nelson died at the battle of Trafalgar, George III gave his brother William an earldom, Trafalgar House in Salisbury and a pension of £5000 (whew! £3.7 million per annum) to last as long as there was a Lord Nelson. Attlee’s government passed the Trafalgar Act 1947, removing the pension (by then worth £403,000 a year) but allowing the family to keep the house.

Two of Them whose names … sound exactly alike – Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, and Aneurin Bevan, Health Minister.

193 Hiram’s Trust – Appears in Anthony Trollope’s The Warden.

198 Ice Hell of Pitz Palu – White Hell of Pitz Palu, German silent film of 1929, directed by G W Pabst.

200 Strarkie – John Strachey was Minister of Food.

201 Ecrasez l’infame – Voltaire’s motto “crush the infamous thing” (Christianity)
Holy League: in Italian history, alliance formed (1510-11) by Pope Julius II for the purpose of expelling Louis XII of France from Italy.

203 Henry KingsleyThe Boy in Grey, 1871, a children’ s book. Angela Thirkell often mentions Kingsley’s Ravenshoe, and a preliminary draft for an article on Kingsley is among her papers in the Brotherton Collection.

206 Fleet marriage – Fleet Marriages were clandestine marriages that took place in London between 1667 and 1777. They were performed by a clergyman without banns or licence, and took place in the Fleet Prison, the Mayfair Chapel, and the Kings Bench Prison, among others.

Chapter 9

217 The Bendor – Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, was known as “Bend Or” the “Golden Duke”. So the hotel must be either Grosvenor House or the Grosvenor, Victoria (probably the former, because it was much smarter).

223 Bishopsthorpe – palace of the Archbishop of York. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s palace is at Lambeth.

Chapter 10

226 Love’s Cross-Currents – novel by A C Swinburne – subtitled Lesbia Brandon.

230 De mortuis – de mortuis nil nisi bonum. Of the dead speak kindly or not at all.

237 Armour from Wardour Street – Wardour Street was formerly noted for the sale of antiques and mock antiques.

239 Isabel Boncasson – In The Duke’s Children, by Trollope.

244 The Carasoyn – fairy tale (1871) by George Macdonald, author of At the Back of the North Wind, etc. Thought by some to be the origin of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

245 That man at Oxford – C. S. Lewis, who created the world of Narnia in his children’s books.

248 Begum cooker – Aga (another high-ranking Asian title) is the real-life name of these useful pieces of kitchen equipment which combine heating, oven and hotplates.

257 Richard Hannay – hero of John Buchan’s The Thirty-nine Steps and subsequent novels such as Greenmantle and Mr Standfast.

258 Bishop of Rum-ti-Foo – The subject of two poems in WS Gilbert’s Bab Ballads. The Colonial Bishop was taught what sounds like an early version of breakdancing by a man he saw in the Borough Road but thought that the islanders of Rum-ti-Foo wouldn’t understand the joke if they saw their Bishop “land,/ His leg supported in his hand.”

Mr Frank Churchill – See Jane Austen, Emma.

The Cat and her Kittens came tumbling in – The children’s rhyme ‘A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go.’

261 263 Dr Joram takes his leave – on page 261 but is still there on page 263!

Chapter 11

267 The Fisherman and his Wife – from a tale by the Brothers Grimm where after wasting numerous wishes the couple end up back where they started. (Also see p.338)

275 Elisha – 2 Kings, chapter 4 verse 10.

278 Blackstone – William Blackstone, 1723-1780, Commentaries on the Laws of England.

281 The Heptarchy – The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms – Nortumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Sussex, Wessex, Essex and Kent. See also Before Lunch 41.

282 Golden boots and silver underclothing – From ‘The Periwinkle Girl’ in W. S. Gilbert’s Bab Ballads. “Duke Baily greatest wealth computes, and sticks, they say at no-thing,/ He wears a pair of golden boots, and silver underclothing.”

283 Naker – A kind of kettledrum, dating back to the Crusades and mentioned by Chaucer.

Chapter 12

291 Duke, duke – Why is there sometimes a capital and sometimes not?

301 Lay – gypsy language,

The man that was going to paint a picture… – Lucy must be referring to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

307 And then I would always have you remember … your affectionate father Omnium.” – From Trollope’s The Duke’s Children.

Chapter 13

314 We players know…. – “The rest may reason and welcome; ‘tis we musicians know.” Robert Browning, ‘Abt Vogler’ (1864), ix.

321 Jupiter in a shower of typewriters – Jupiter transformed himself into a shower of gold in order to seduce Danae, who had been locked up in a tower by her father.

322 Guibert le Biau – I think he is the hero of a French mediaeval epic, or is he a creation of Angela Thirkell’s? De cortez tout confait presumably means “all made of courtesy” (possibly “courtliness”, in the sense of our Old English “courtesie”)

323 Egeria – Roman nymph who inspired Numius Pompilius, king of Rome after Romulus. See also Jutland Cottage 82.

Félibriste – félibre means poet in the langue d’oc of Provençal poetry.

331 Hysterico passio – hysteria which causes choking, shortness of breath, thought to rise up from the stomach or womb; “hysterica passio” is the Latin medical term. See also notes on The Old Bank House.

334 Mrs Squeers – The evil schoolmaster’s wife in Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby.

340 Juggernaut – A large powerful force that cannot be stopped.

342 Teeth filed to a point – See page 34 above, ‘The King of the Cannibal Islands’.

344 N or M – from the Catechism, “What is your name, N or M”.

347 Dr Joram and Mrs Brandon’s guardian angels – Angela Thirkell’s brother Denis Mackail uses a very similar conceit in his novel Greenery Street where the hero and heroine’s household gods hold discussions.


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