Enter Sir Robert (1955)

Picture of the front cover and spine of Enter Sir Robert

References for the novel Enter Sir Robert by Angela Thirkell.

‘Relusions’ for the Hamish Hamilton 1st edition

Chapter 1

6 sweets of freedom – In 1781 Cato, a newly freed slave, petitioned the Pennsylvania legislature saying “Our lots in slavery were hard enough to bear but having tasted the sweets of freedom, we should now be miserable indeed.”

Dark Rosaleen – title of an Irish ballad by James Clarence Mangan, 1803-1849.

Orontes does not flow into Tiber – “iam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes”- (The Syrian Orontes already flows into the Tiber) Juvenal opposing the influx of foreigners into ancient Rome. See also Never Too Late 198.

Saxon and Norman and Dane are we – “Sea-Kings’ daughter from over the sea, Alexandra! /Saxon and Norman and Dane are we, /But all of us Danes in our welcome of thee, Alexandra!” Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, ‘A Welcome’ (March 7, 1863). Princess Alexandra of Denmark married Queen Victoria’s eldest son, later Edward VII, in 1863.

7 it made one think of Othello – ie dark-skinned people. Perfectly normal to comment in this way at the time, but even George Knox finds Mrs Morland’s remark rather foolish.

passing the foolishness of women – presumably a reference to David’s lament over Jonathan, “passing the love of women” 2 Samuel chapter I verse 26 also What Did It Mean? 73.

KCMG – Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael & St George, satirically known as “Kindly Call Me God” and awarded for services to the Empire.

8 golden dream of permanent war on earth and universal bad will to men – as opposed “on earth peace, goodwill to men.” St Luke chapter 2 verse14.

10 immortal longings – “Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have immortal longings in me” Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act 5 scene 2.

dainty rogue in porcelain – Description of the character Clara Middleton in George Meredith’s novel The Egoist, 1879, Chapter 5. Also Jutland Cottage 109 and others **

In her salad and rather stout days – “My salad days, When I was green in judgement” Cleopatra from Antony and Cleopatra, Act I scene 5.

Assembly Room at Harefield – See Happy Returns.

14 If we had no sin we deceived ourselves – Mr Choyce has missed out an important bit here: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” The First Epistle General of John chapter 1 verse 8.

15 Her children do rise up and call her blessed – Mr Choyce knows the source and gives it further down the page. It is Proverbs chapter 31 verse 28.

Arundel prints – High quality prints after Italian old master frescoes, published by the Arundel Society for Promoting the Knowledge of Art 1848-97.

framed in what is known as an Oxford frame – “The barbarism called an Oxford frame”. J T Micklethwaite, Modern Parish Churches 1874. Or as the Oxford English Dictionary more temperately describes it, “a picture frame, the sides of which cross each other and project some distance at the corners”.

The Other Place – ie Cambridge.

Guardian – Nothing to do with the Manchester Guardian or its successor, The Guardian, but a church newspaper, now defunct.

16 Many daughters have done virtuously – Mr Choyce quite rightly gives as the source, Proverbs chapter 31 verse 29.

Paley’s Evidences – In A View of the Evidences of Christianity 1794), William Paley, the philosopher-natural theologian, argued for the truth of Christianity based on his understanding of historical evidence.

18 But there were chords in the human mind – in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House (chapter 20) Mr. Jobling ventures on the question, “How is SHE?” This Mr. Guppy resents as a liberty, retorting, “Jobling, there ARE chords in the human mind –” at which Jobling begs pardon. Also page 65 and Close Quarters 34.

19 intromissions – Mr Macpherson, the old agent at Rushwater, being Scottish, was accustomed to use this word which in Scottish law means the assuming of possession or management of someone else’s property with or without their permission. In Lady Emily’s case they were usually without it. Sounds more polite than ‘interference’.

23 Dear Dead Days beyond Recall – From the first line of ‘Just a Song at Twilight’ by J Clifton Bingham, melody by James L Molloy, 1884.

Domett – Domett (or domet) flannel (also known as “outing flannel”) is a cotton fabric in a plain or twill. Robert Browning wrote an amusing poem ‘Waring’, about his friend, Alfred Domett, who was the fourth Prime Minister of New Zealand.

25 The willingness is all -“The readiness is all.” Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 5 scene 1.

26 the bots and the strangles – Bots (bot flies) are a parasitic insect affecting horses; strangles is a bacterial infestion of the respiratory tract, also known as equine distemper. Also page 217.

Furrina, Robigus and lost deities – Furrina was a Roman goddess, her function unknown, but she may have been a spirit of darkness. Robigus was a Roman god who protected the corn against diseases.

27 Square paper hat, Mr Chips the Carpenter – As in the Tenniel illustration of the Walrus and the Carpenter in Through the Looking Glass. Also Never Too Late 236.

Hobo-Gobo and the Fairy Joybell – Probably refers to the works of Enid Blyton.

insigne as the singular of insignia – insigne is Latin for badge or ensign so strictly speaking ‘insignia’ is plural.

30 amour propre – a sense of one’s own worth.

Scene from Domestic Life – Chapter 7 of Bureaucracy by Honoré de Balzac is entitled Scenes from Domestic Life.

31 Elephant’s Child – One of Kipling’s Just So Stories.

32 ‘Just as I am without one plea‘- Hymn by Charlotte Elliot, 1835

33 So has Babylon vanished,so Palmyra and the Cities of the Plain -The Cities of the Plain included Sodom and Gomorrah. Angkor Wat (not Watt) is in Cambodia.

33 graven images – “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” is one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible. Exodus chapter 20 verse 4. Used here and elsewhere in the novels as referring to false teeth.

34 Mr Scatcherd’s studio or atterleer as he preferred to call it – his day trip to France has taught him that ‘atelier’is a better word for an artist’s studio.

Mr Krook’s Rag and Bottle Warehouse – Dickens, Bleak House.

35 there was another Objy Dar which was not broken – objet d’art. Strictly speaking this is not just any work of art but a three-dimensional object, usually small.

36 Sheepshanks/Gaiters – as everywhere in the novels, Woolworths/Boots.

36 Opening one’s feet to everyone who passed and multiplying one’s whoredoms -“And thou dost make thy beauty abominable, And dost open wide thy feet to every passer by, And dost multiply thy whoredoms,” Ezekiel chapter 16 verse 26.

the shay-derve to which I was reluding to to your ladyship – Mr Scatcherd is certainly overdoing the prepositions in his attempt to speak elegantly while explaining his chef-d’oeuvre or masterpiece. He is also echoing Mr Adams in speaking of ‘reluding.’

Chapter 2

34 lest folk should think her proud – “The morning came, the chaise was brought, But yet was not allow’d To drive up to the door, lest all Should say that she was proud. William Cowper, The Diverting History of John Gilpin (1782).

38-9 Days of man were three score years and ten – “The days of our years are threescore years and ten” Psalm 90 verse 10.

39 may vanish with Nineveh and Tyre – Reminiscent of Kipling’s poem ‘Recessional’: “Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!”.

Clarissa …turning anything she touched to favour and to prettiness -“Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself, she turns to favour and to prettiness.” Laertes of his sister Ophelia in Hamlet, Act 4 scene 5.

40 So does the old order change – ‘The old order changeth, yielding place to new, /And God fulfils himself in many ways,/Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King (1842-1885), The Passing of Arthur, 1.407
Brave New World – “O brave new world,/That has such people in it.” Miranda’s words in Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 5, scene 1.
Also used by Aldous Huxley for the title of his 1932 novel.

the spider lays hold with her hands – “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” Proverbs chapter 30 verse 28. The clinging capacity of barley with its spikes is a good parallel.

41 swept… and garnished – “Then he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.” St Matthew chapter 12 verse 44, also St Luke chapter 11 verse 25.

42 Master’s boots are the best muck (and on page 78 as Farmer’s boots) – meaning that if the farmer puts in the work, he gets the results. Edith explains this on page 78.

44 Guster announcing the Chadbands – Dickens, Bleak House, Chapter 19.

45 ‘Pigs in Clover’ – a good play on Aubrey Clover’s stage-name and also on the traditional “happy as pigs in clover.”

47 makes a horrid trinity of I, non-I and sub-I – an approximation of Sigmund Freud’s model of the psyche as Ego, Super-Ego and Id (1920).

Some day the prince would come – Perhaps a reference to ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come’, a popular song from Disney’s film of Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs
(1937).

48 “Well, if it prove a girl …” – This quotation from Tennyson’s poem ‘Maud’ appears elsewhere in the novels. **

49 The most just and the most generous of men – sounds like a quotation, but as yet untraced.

50 Man Friday saying O – ‘“Oh, joy!” says he; “Oh, glad! There see my country, there my nation”. I observed an extraordinary sense of pleasure appeared in his face, and his eyes sparkled, and his countenance discovered a strange eagerness, as if he had a mind to be in his own country again.’ [Man Friday seems to say “O” rather often. In the same chapter we are told that he calls saying prayers “went to say O.”] Daniel Defoe novel related in the first person, Robinson Crusoe (1719), ch.15 ‘Friday’s Education’. See also page 217, and Jutland Cottage 261

Out of God’s blessing into the warm sun: – 1. “Out of God’s blessing into the warm sun.” One of Ray’s proverbs, meaning from good to less good; there were several editions of John Ray’s Collection of English Proverbs between 1670 and 1817. 2. “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.

clothed and in his right mind – “And they came to Jesus, and behold him that was possessed with demons sitting, clothed and in his right mind, even him that had the legion and they were afraid.” St Luke chapter 8 verse 35 and St Mark chapter 5 verse 15. Very irreverent of Lord Mellings!

51 Minor like the cigarette advertisements – De Reszke’s Minors carried the slogan “Mine’s a Minor”.

52 Literae Humaniores – what Classics is known as at Oxford University

a thorn in the flesh – ie a constant irritation. From II Corinthians chapter 12 verse 7.

53 a green note – a £1 note was green at this time, a ten-shilling note was red-brown (more or less the colour of the present day £10 note), while the large white £5 note remained in circulation until 1957.

54 Commination Service – Prayers including a list of God’s judgements against sinners, in the office for Ash Wednesday. A typical piece of exaggeration by David Leslie.

55 with feathers preened and glittering eye – “with skinny hand and glittering eye” in the poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Sibylline: Sibyls in the the ancient world were prophetesses who often spoke in a frenzy, unlike the gentle chaos of Agnes Graham’s utterances. Now applied to any prophetess or woman fortune-teller. See also page 236

58 Rabbits about which it was better to ask no questions – presumably they had been poached. Meat rationing did not end until 1954, while this book was being written. See also page 235.

58 Gampish – Mrs Gamp the midwife, from Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit. Also pages 62, 81. See also What Did it Mean? 8 and The Old Bank House 110.

59 Lovely was as lovely did – A variation on “handsome is as handsome does.”

61 a special very large cup – Burne-Jones had a very large cup kept for his use when visiting William Morris. The cup is on view at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow.

63 Listener’s LureListener’s Lure, a Kensington Comedy, by E V Lucas, 1906.

64 kicked against the pricks – Originally a Greek proverb, but also known by other nations’ farmers using goads to direct their animals when ploughing or travelling. As the driver would use the goad more if the animal resisted this is a metaphor for useless resistance to the inevitable. “Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts chapter 24 verse 14.

64 The sword might outwear the sheath – “For the sword outwears its sheath,/ And the soul wears out the breast,/ And the heart must pause to breathe,/ And Love itself have rest. Poem ‘So, We’ll Go No More a Roving’, Lord Byron.

64 Bolder’s Knob – There is a Neolithic site, called Belas Knapp, near Winchcombe, Glos, not far from Stanway. Thirkell will have known it. Also page 82.

64 Balder – one of the Norse gods, hence the comment that the place may just as probably not be called after him.

65 there are chords in the human mind – See above page 18.

Mark Antony’s oration – “Friends, Romans, countrymen …” from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

66 An air that sweetly recommends itself – over the downs in Barsetshire as near Rottingdean where Thirkell spent childhood holidays. From Shakespeare’s Macbeth Act 1 scene 4: “the air/Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself/Unto our gentle senses.”

Into my heart an air that kills/ From yon far country blows:/What are those blue remembered hills,/What spires, what farms are those?” – A. E. Housman poem ‘A Shropshire Lad’.

67 “Into the breast that gave the rose …” – Poem ‘The Spirit of Earth in Autumn’, by George Meredith: “Death shall I shrink from, loving thee?/Into the breast that gives the rose/Shall I with shuddering fall?”

68 Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth – Proverbs chapter 3 verses 11-12. Other refs and Hebrews chapter 12 verse 6.

68 [Mr Halliday] surprised in himself both positions – Count Smorltork, a guest of Mrs Leo Hunter in Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers, Chapter 15.

72 Tarquin unmasked – George really need not feel like this when he has only banged on the door of the bathroom where Edith is. Tarquin, the last Roman king, was overthrown after his son Sextus raped Lucretia.

all is Vanity – From Ecclesiastes 1: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

Chapter 3

74 Glamora Tudor – Glamora Tudor = Gloria Stuart, but who is Washington Swop?

74 Mr Feeder and Mr Traill – They must be an allusion to Hugh Walpole’s 1938 novel Mr Perrin and Mr Traill. They appear in many of the novels.

75 like Mother Carey in the Water Babies – Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, 1863. Mother Carey is known for making millions of creatures out of sea-water, but tells Tom, “I am not going to trouble myself to make things…I sit here and make them make themselves.”

76 Memory hold the door – Title of John Buchan’s 1940 ‘journal of certain experiences’ which he said specifically was not an autobiography. It was one of President J. F. Kennedy’s favourite reads, having been published in the USA as Pilgrim’s Way. Buchan attributed his success in life to having studied Greek and Roman literature, presumably a view which Professor Mackail would have endorsed. But where does the title come from?

79 Tractors were his washpot and over potato-spinners he cast out his shoe – “Moab is my washpot; over Edom shall I cast out my shoe,” Psalm 108. See also The Duke’s Daughter 144-5

79: Aladdin – from The Arabian Nights, a popular subject for pantomime.

80 “if some the birds devoured and some the season marred,… but here and there shall flower the solitary stars”– A. E. Housman poem ‘A Shropshire Lad’, 63. Linked to the parable of the sower, St Luke chapter 8 verses 4-8 and St Matthew chapter 13.

83 Water on high ground between Thirlestone and Watendlath – Angela and Lance used to spend holidays in the Lake District so no doubt this is correct.

Esther Summerson – heroine of Dickens’s novel Bleak House (1852-3).

It is a great help to have your Dickens with the original illustrations. They show you what Dickens meant – Dickens died half way through writing The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The illustrator, Luke Fildes, was pursued to the end of his life for clues as to the intended ending of the novel.

85 Harry Hotspur talking of Merlin and his prophecies – Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I, Act 3 scene 1.

89 Milton’s Allegro – Milton wrote ‘L’Allegro’ in 1632, in Horton, Bucks, according to the Oxford Book of English Literature.

90 Old Barum – Old Sarum is a prehistoric earthwork just outside Salisbury, one of several cathedral cities thought to be the original for Barchester.

91 Wear’em and tear ‘em good body – From ‘Mouse and Mouser’, to be found in Joseph Jacobs’s collection of English Fairy Tales, as many other references throughout.

Lifebuoy and Lux – two well-known brands of soap.

94 Bohun / Oliver Marling – Referenced throughout the novels. Bohun is pronounced “Bun”, as Donne is pronounced “Dun”.

Chapter 4

96 Old Tinkler – the swans of Wells Cathedral ring a bell. Demonstrates that Barchester is an amalgam of cathedral cities.

98 dead as old Crummles – Vincent Crummles is the head of the theatrical family, father of the Infant Phenomenon in Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby. Doubtful if Thirkell was referring to a real Huntingdonshire brewery with a name similar to Crummles.

100 Bishop Proudie – Bishop of Barchester in many of Trollope’s Barsetshire novels, dreadfully oppressed by his wife.

102 the throne of the heavenly grace – Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace… Evening Prayer, from Book of Common Prayer.

even to hymn six hundred and sixty-six – Thirkell again deplores modern hymn-books with too many hymns in them, 666 being the biblical Number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation 13, verse 18.

a generation that knows not Joseph – “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” Exodus 1, verse 8

which round of hope deferred does make the heart sick – Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. Proverbs 13, verse 12

unto doomsday with eclipse – “Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse” Horatio in Hamlet Act 1, Scene 1.

103 Brother Ass and Brother Swallow – St Francis of Assisi described his body as Brother Ass and would probably have approved of Thirkell’s addition of Brother Swallow for the wandering mind.

104 Prayer for Charles, King and Martyr and the anathema or commination against Guy Fawkes – Taken from a very old prayerbook; it seems these passages were removed from the Book of Common Prayer in the mid-19th century.

Heave-offerings – an expression frequently found in the Bible, meaning an offering lifted or set apart.

106 were this wild thing but wedded – From George Meredith poem ‘Love in the Valley’ (1878): “When her mother tends her before the laughing mirror,/Tying up her laces, looping up her hair,/Often she thinks, were this wild thing but wedded, /More love should I have, and much less care.”

107 Prince Hal trying on the crown – Shakespeare, Henry IV Part II, Act 3, scene 4.

110 enough to try the patience of a graven image, trying the patience of – Hetty Scatcherd is mixing up “try the patience of a saint” with the graven image from the ten commandments. An example of Dickens’s influence on Thirkell’s comic characters.

112 Circumlocution Department – Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

114 Noble Lie – In Plato’s Republic, The Noble Lie is a religious lie fed to the masses to keep them under control and happy with their situation in life.

Emotion recollected in tranquillity – Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, second edition, 1800.

Tradesman in its proper meaning – a craftsman, rather than a shopkeeper.

116 Lion lying down with the lamb – A popular misquotation from Isaiah chapter 11 verse 6 – “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

116: Guelf and Ghibelline, Montagu and Capulet – The Guelphs and Ghibellines were two rival factions in mediaeval Italy, derived from two rival German factions of the 12th century. Montagu and Capulet are the rival families in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

117 Terminological inexactitude – a euphemism for a lie, first used by Winston Churchill in 1906. It is a convenient way for Members of Parliament to accuse each other of lying without offending the rules of the House.

119 Friends of Gerard, and Gerard’s Herball – John Gerard’s Herbal, first published 1597, is still available today though there doesn’t appear to be a Friends organisation.

Stinking Pisswort – Another of Angela Thirkell’s inventions, like Palafox Borealis.

120 Vache en Foin, Vache en Etable – Translate as Cow in the hay, Cow in the stable, though they sound like genuine French village names.

124 Wordsworth – A poet of the English Lake District.

124: Barnes – William Barnes, rector of a Dorset country parish, who wrote a number of poems in the Dorset dialect.

Grandmother was a witch – Jasper Margett’s grandmother, in Growing Up.

125 Bigamy in the reign of James II – In the reign of James the Second, It was generally reckoned / As a rather serious crime / To marry two wives at a time – Sung by the Counsel in Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera Trial by Jury.

128 Kamerad – meaning Comrade. Used by the Germans in World War I. Equivalent in English is “I surrender”.

129 sighed as one who…and obeyed as a prospective land-owner – ‘I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son’, from Edward Gibbon’s Autobiography.

130 Sherlock Holmes outfit – Sherlock Holmes is always portrayed in the illustrations to the Strand Magazine as wearing a deerstalker hat and an Inverness cape.

DraculaDracula, the story of a vampire, by Bram Stoker, 1897.

Chapter 5

131 the shadowy third – “If two lives join, there is oft a scar,/They are one and one, with a shadowy third;/One near is one too far.” Robert Browning poem, By the Fireside, verse 46. Is Thirkell being slightly dismissive, calling Browning ‘that writer of plays’? Also the title of a short story by Ellen Glasgow, 1923.

133 a-hollering and a-bellering – Giglio’s landlandy says,”What are you a-hollaring and a-bellaring for here, young man?” in Thackeray’s Rose and the
Ring
, Chapter 14.

133: when – in the words of a great poet – a Throne speaks to a Throne – “A Nation spoke to a Nation, A Throne spoke to a Throne.” Kipling poem ‘Our Lady of the Snows’ (referring to the Canadian Preferential Tariff, 1897).

138 Niobe and her children – Niobe, daughter of Tantalus, wife of the King of Thebes, was the mother of fourteen children, who taunted Latona, mother of Apollo and Diana, because she only had two. They avenged the insult by killing Niobe’s sons and daughters and Niobe, inconsolable, wept herself to death and was changed into a stone, from which ran water. Also **

139 Danegeld – A tax on land originally raised to buy peace from the Danes in the reign of Ethelred II (978-1016), but notoriously the Danes kept demanding more.

140 These Foolish Things and hi-lilly, hi-lilly, hi-low -‘A Song of Love is a Sad Song, Hi Lili, Hi Lili, Hi Lo’, from the film Lili, featuring Leslie Caron, 1953. ‘These Foolish Things’ was a song by Jack Strachey, 1931.

143 Widdy widdy wen – “Widdy widdy wen! /I–ket–ches-Im–out–ar–ter–ten,/ Widdy widdy wy! /Then–E–don’t–go–then–I–shy – /Widdy Widdy Wake-cock warning!” chanted by the hideous small boy in Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood Chapter 5.

144 Sherlock Holmes’s Street Arabs – The Baker Street Irregulars were a gang of street urchins recruited by Sherlock Holmes to perform various missions, usually in parts of London where he could not go himself.

145 Caldecott beauty – Randolph Caldecott, 1846-86, artist and illustrator of children’s books.

146 snobbism even if it is only having been to what are known as World Premières more often than other people – Does AT mean that the shared appreciation of ordinary woodwork done well is at the other end of the spectrum from seeing films before they go on general release? Her use of ‘snobbism’ rather than snobbery is a French expression.

148 Browning’s villa-gate – “As I leaned and looked over the aloed arch /Of the villa-gate this warm March day /No flash snapped, no dumb thunder rolled /In the valley beneath where, white and wide /And washed by the morning water-gold, /Florence lay out on the mountain-side.” Poem ‘Old Pictures in Florence’ by Robert Browning.

151 Beauty in Distress – “Beauty in distress is much the most affecting beauty.” Edmund Burke (1729–1797), from the Introduction to The Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756).

He was at Saumur for a time as you must know – The cavalry officer training establishment at Saumur now trains officers in armoured vehicles. Probably still training cavalry in Robert Graham’s time.

153 not that she was a shadow of a shade – a Victorian ghost story, published in Bow Bells, 1869, by Tom Hood (1835-74) son of the poet Thomas Hood.

155 with a parapidge in case of fire – “‘A little dull, but not so bad as might be,’ Mrs Gamp remarked. ‘I’m glad to see a parapidge, in case of fire, and lots of roofs and chimley-pots to walk upon.’” It will be seen from these remarks that Mrs Gamp was looking out of window. From Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.

156 Old Bill in the Dugout – Old Bill was a World War I cartoon character drawn by Bruce Bairnsfather. Also page 264

Becky Sharp – the principal character in Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

158 The arch never rests – “The arch never sleeps” is a Muslim proverb. The form of the arch gives it elasticity, enabling it to reach a balance corresponding to the thrust of the load it supports.

161 A.A. man – The Automobile Association employed uniformed representatives who until the late 1960s days saluted members identified by the badges displayed on their cars, though in this case Jimmy is directing the car out into the main road.

Chapter 6

163 it ever was, is and … ever shall be – “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen” (The Lord’s Prayer, Book of Common Prayer.

164 brawling in church or coveting our neighbour’s maidservant – according to an Act of 1551, in the early stages of the Reformation, when this sort of thing was likely to occur “if any person shall, by words only, quarrel, chide or brawl in any church or churchyard, it shall be lawful for the ordinary of the place where the same shall be done and proved by two lawful witnesses, to suspend any person so offending, if he be a layman, from the entrance of the church, and if he be a clerk, from the ministration of his office, for so long as the said ordinary shall think meet, according to the fault.” Coveting the maidservant is prohibited by the Tenth Commandment.

The readiness is all – “If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.” Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 5 scene 2.

167 works of supererogation – tasks carried out in excess of what is required by the Ten Commandments. Mr Choyce is quoting from Article 14 of the 39 Articles: “they cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety.”

169 O.U.T. spells Out – from the now politically incorrect counting rhyme, “Eeny meeny miney mo /Catch a nigger by the toe / If he squeals, let him go, /Eeny, meeny, miney mo. / O U T spells out, so out you must go / because the King and Queen say so.”

170 Titian’s ‘Bacchus and Ariadne‘ – A painting in the National Gallery, London. The followers certainly look very enthusiastic, except for one man who is having trouble wrestling with a large serpent. The painting can be seen on the Gallery’s website.

171 Europa – In Titian’s The Rape of Europa she is sprawled in a very unladylike position on the bull’s back, but certainly holding on by one horn. In Guido Reni’s version, in the National Gallery, London, she is seated beside him cuddling him round the neck.

172 Rogue and vagabond – Rogues and vagabonds is a term used since 1572 to denote beggars and vagrants.

173 Living and partly living – We do not wish anything to happen. /Seven years we have lived quietly, /Succeeded in avoiding notice, /Living and partly living. T.S. Eliot play Murder in the Cathedral (1952).

BBC pronunciation – One of Angela Thirkell’s chief complaints – she gave talks on it. Also a complaint of her brother, the novelist Denis Mackail.

174 exordium – The introductory part or beginning, especially of an oration or discourse.

175 Maud – “I kiss’d her slender hand,/She took the kiss sedately, /Maud is not seventeen, /But she is tall and stately.” From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Maud.’

176 the perfect witness of all-judging Jove – from Milton’s poem ‘Lycidas.’

Lady de Courcy, George de Courcy … in prison for …money matters – characters in Trollope’s Barchester Towers and The Small House at Allington.

177 Like the French Revolution – presumably the aristocracy taking no notice of the peasants revolting around them.

skipjacks -“a toy made from the merrythought of a fowl and so contrived that it can be made to skip” Shorter Oxford Dictionary [Penny Aldred adds: My grandmother used to call it the merrythought, nowadays it’s usually called a wishbone.]

The Hill Difficulty – Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. See also Love At All Ages 265.

Thracian women …preparing to tear Orpheus to pieces – Orpheus’s prolonged grief after the loss of Eurydice so enraged the Thracian women that they tore him to pieces in one of their Bacchanalian orgies.

179 What a story George Eliot would have made of it – In her Scenes of Clerical Life, no doubt.

Vicar’s Warden, People’s Warden – each parish in the Anglican Church has two churchwardens to assist the parish priest in secular matters, a People’s Warden and a Vicar’s (or Rector’s) Warden.

The young in a loomp (as Lord Tennyson almost wrote) are bad – “Taake my word for it, Sammy, the poor in a loomp is bad” Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘Northern Farmer, Old Style.’

180 It’s rather lonely, To be an only – Evidently W S Gilbert, but where?

180: Doggerel bard – EMILY JANE was a nursery maid, / JAMES was a bold Life Guard, / JOHN was a constable, poorly paid / (And I am a doggerel bard). W S Gilbert, Bab Ballads ‘John, James and I. A Derby Legend.’

183 Letters patent – Documents from the Sovereign or a crown office conferring a title, right, privilege etc … or sell for a number of years some new invention.

Chancellor of the Exchequer being Butler – R. A. Butler was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative Government from 1951 – 1955.

184 bricks without straw – Exodus 5 and 6: ‘Bricks without straw’ is a phrase that refers to a task which must be undertaken without appropriate resources.

185 Yahoos and Cocqcigrues – Yahoos, vicious brutes in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. François Rabelais in Gargantua uses the phrase “à la venue des cocquecigrues to mean “never.” “A great many things too, which nobody will ever hear of, at least until the coming of the Cocqcigrues, when man shall be the measure of all things.”

186 and give you P and O – P&O stands for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, founded in 1837. Thirkell is making a joke, as M and B was a sulphonamide drug developed in the 1930s to treat bacterial infections. At this time it was just about to be superseded by penicillin and the other antibiotics.

Terra Incognita – unexplored land. Inhabited by “Anthropophagi and men whose heads/Did grow beneath their shoulders.” Shakespeare, Othello, Act 1 scene 3.

188 Blunderbore – The legendary giant from the tale of Jack the Giant-killer

Old Gunder – There is a Norwegian legend in which Børse-Gunder, the gun-smith, shot a sea-serpent in lake Åbborvatnet. Possibly from one of the Norse tales that the Mackail children used to read.

190 joy was unconfined – “On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet” Byron, Childe Harold, canto 3, 22

191 Depuis quon m’a opérée…..où trouverait-on des Osbond ici? – “Since my operation, Mr David —“ “I know, I know, my poor Conque. You are always tired; it’s like an enormous weight pressing on your stomach; you have terrible, terrible headaches; migraine never leaves you; one of your legs is so swollen that you keep tripping up; food disgusts you; you can’t sleep, and when you do manage to sleep a little you have nightmares that milady is calling you and you can’t answer her. And Reverend Father Ossquince [Hoskins] doesn’t understand, being English, so that you don’t know whether the good Lord has pardoned you or not.” “As for that, Mr David, I’ve sorted everything out with the good Lord. He knows the value of a good lady’s maid, that he does, you know. If not, what use is he?” ….”And where is she going to find a husband here?”

191 – Il sera baron après la mort de son père – “He’ll be baron after his father dies. That’s something already. They both appreciate the country”.

192 Les enfants, ça vient du bon Dieu – “Children come from the good Lord….. Listen, Mr David, to what I’m telling you. There is a way of arranging it…Well, a marriage between cousins isn’t forbidden here. They are nearly the same age. They’ve got a bit of money. They would make beautiful children. And to think that milady won’t be able to see her great-grandchildren!”

193 Ce n’est pas au père Ossquince …. Si vous le désirez” – “I don’t discuss family business with Father Hoskins… He must content himself with my little sins. And if he isn’t happy with that, I know well enough how to make up others for him!” “Well, that’s funny, honour among sieves, Mr David, but if that’s what you want…” Conque’s English is certainly very poor, as she confuses sieves and thieves.

a Hireling Shepherd – title of a painting, 1851, by Holman Hunt, depicting a shepherd neglecting his flock to dally with a pretty girl, pretty much as described here.

195 Feather bed ‘twixt castle wall And heavy brunt of cannon ball – Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I, canto 2 (1663).

196 Porridge’sClaridge’s, in Brook Street, Mayfair – originally founded in 1821 as Mivart’s, changed its name when it was bought by Mr and Mrs Claridge in 1854. Bought by Richard d’Oyly Carte and rebuilt in the 1890s. Also page 232.

198 In the station of life to which it had pleased the death of his predecessor to call him – “and to do my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall please God to call me.” Book of Common Prayer, The Catechism.

Song of Solomon, Chapter Two, Verse Fifteen – “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Solomon chapter 2 verse 15.

199 The infant crying in the night – “But what am I ? / An infant crying in the night / An infant crying for the light / And with no language but a cry.” Tennyson poem ‘In Memoriam’, 54.

200 Easter Vestry – In the Anglican church, a vestry is a meeting of all the members of a parish or their representatives to transact official and administrative business. Easter is the beginning of the church year when the elections for churchwardens take place.

202 In August away I must – “In April/I ope my bill / In May / I sing all day / In June/ I change my tune / In July/ Away I fly/ In August/ Away I must.” Old rhyme about the cuckoo.

Chapter 7

205 Spade guineas – a guinea (21 shillings) coin decorated with a spade-shaped shield, minted during the reign of George III.

208 Ptolemies – Kings of ancient Egypt who were frequently married to their sisters.

209 An eye like Mars to threaten and command – Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3 scene 4.

210 In the Room we was always equal numbers – Peters means the housekeeper’s room, where etiquette demanded that servants took the same order of precedence as their masters and mistresses (see the film Gosford Park 2001)

Maginot Line – a line of defence built by France to defend its border with Germany prior to World War Two – it proved ineffective, hence came to mean any line of defence in which blind confidence is placed.

211 Zoetrope or wheel of life – Before the invention of the cinematograph, this was a cylinder with slits in the side and individual drawings or pictures inside which spins round and gives the illusion of movement to anyone looking in. Later used to project images through a magic lantern.

213 Julian Rivers…those pictures of his – see Pomfret Towers. Julian is the artist son of the author Hermione Rivers.

215 “Brothers and sisters have I none, Yet this man’s father is my father’s son” – “This man” is my son. See also High Rising 61.

216 Had to leave England in 1688 and settle in Rome – After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the Catholic James II fled to France and was succeeded by the Protestant William and Mary, many English Catholics went to France or Italy.

217 Tapped the offender’s claret – gave him a bloody nose. An example of Regency Buckish slang, as also used by Swan in Jutland Cottage 237.

Oh! …as Man Friday said it for the Unknown God – See page 50 above and Jutland Cottage 261.

Bots, warble-fly – two parasitic insects that lay their eggs under the skin of cattle, horses, etc. See also page 26 above.

218 Swan-neck – Edith Swan-neck, daughter of Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia, was the mistress or possibly wife of Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, who was killed at the Battle of Hastings, 1066. Also a nickname given to the young Angela Mackail.

A man’s a man for a’that – Robert Burns’s poem ‘For a’that and a’that.’ Another line from the same poem, “the rank is but the guinea’s stamp” is often quoted by Thirkell.

219 Kamerad – See p. 128 above.

Rearing up his spiral form (as Harriette Wilson wrote of Sir Charles Bampfylde) – Harriette Wilson was the mistress of The Duke of Wellington, among others. See Angela Thirkell’s biography of her, ‘The Fortunes of Harriette’.

220 Loamshire – a fictional county that appears in the works of George Eliot.

Stone dead has no fellow – a mid-17th century proverb meaning a dead man has no friends.

A very silly play called the Blue Bird by Maeterlinck… There are no Dead – Maeterlinck’s The Blue Bird (1906) is about seeking for happiness, and contains the line “There are no dead”.

221 exordium – See above, page 174.

involve yourself in your own virtue – (Fortunam) laudo manentem. si celeris quatit pennas, resigno quae dedit et mea virtute me involvo probamque Pauperiem sine dote quaero. (As long as she stays, I have good words for Fortune. If she spreads her swift wings, I abandon what she gave, wrap myself in my own virtue, and look for Poverty, decent and unrewarded.) Horace Odes 3, 3.

it is daily more difficult to remain just and tenacious of your own propositiontry to bear up impavidly among its ruins … as Miss Lydia Keith rendered it [See Summer Half -Thirkell is purposely rendering it there in the style of Lydia’s schoolgirl Latin translations.] – Horace, Odes, 3, 3: “Iustum et tenacem propositi virum non civum ardor prava iubentium non voltus instantis tyranni mente quatit solida, neque Auster.” Dux inquieti turbidus Hadriae: dux inquieti turbidus Hadriae, nec fulminantis magna manus lovis si fractus illabatur orbis impavidum ferient ruinae.”

The man who is just and sticks to his purpose – nor the passion of his fellow-citizens proposing evil, nor the frown of a threatening tyrant, shakes from his firm resolve, nor the South Wind, the troublesome commander of the restless Adriatic, nor the mighty hand of thundering Jove. If the world shattered and fell upon him, the ruins will strike him unafraid.”

Mrs Gamp’s great words – ‘”Some people …. ‘may be Rooshans, and others may be Prooshans; they are born so, and will please themselves. Them which is of other naturs thinks different.”‘ Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens, Chapter 19.

222 Incredible Morlandesqueness – George Morland, 1763-1804. English painter who specialised in rustic scenes. Also The Old Bank House page 187, and What Did It Mean? page 126.

223 Egypt in Israel – she means, of course, Israel in Egypt, as described in the Old Testament.

224 Brimstone and treacle – given to the pupils at Dotheboys Hall: Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, Chapter 8

Crosswords – Orlop = one of the decks of a ship. Eme = an Old English word meaning uncle. Society member Marguerite Woodward found the answer to this clue, which is EXTRAORDINARILY.

225 The devil has come among us having great wrath – the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath. The Revelation of St John the Divine, chapter 12, verse 12.

The land of Arminius – German chieftain who overcame the Roman legions in the year 9 CE.

The land of Ivan the Terrible – Russia. An ally in World War 2, but by now once more a threat.

The lands of the east where evil seed springs to quick growth … brought an Armageddon into being – Japan and the atomic bomb.

Upas branches – the upas tree is a poisonous Javanese tree which has come to represent a corrupting or pernicious influence.

Ghengis Khan – founder of the Mongol Empire (1162-1227).

226 Kubla Khan – poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I and my Franks – Clovis, King of the Franks in the 5th century CE, married a Christian. When told of the death of Christ on the cross he said “If I and my Franks had been there, we would have avenged the wrong.” Also Love At All Ages page 20.

227 Eights Week– the main annual rowing event at Oxford, held in May in the fifth week of the Trinity term.

Lord Lundy who became Governor of New South Wales – in the poem ‘Lord Lundy, Who was too Freely Moved to Tears, and thereby ruined his Political Career.’ Hilaire Belloc, Cautionary Tales for Children. (But who is meant by Frodsham-Forster and his book about Titus Andronicus is yet untraced.)

227-8 fall sounds like Milton and Adam and Eve – Lady Graham has moved swiftly from the American word for autumn to the Fall of Man: Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’

231 Prince Giglio – from Thackeray’s The Rose and the Ring

Simony – the buying or selling of spiritual benefits such as pardons – now regarded as a sin.

232 Mr Parkinson – who said Oneasyforus instead of Onesiphorus: see Private Enterprise Chapter 3.

234 Delightful Austrian friend of Robert’s …thinks he went to South America – presumably a runaway Nazi!

235 Poachers – meat was still rationed in 1954, so poachers performed a useful service to country people. See also p. 58 above.

236 Delphic Sibyl – prophetess at the temple of Delphi in Ancient Greece. See also p. 55 above.

237 Stud bookBurke’s Peerage, ie the directory of the families of the nobility.

Chapter 8

239 Henry Kingsley’s three great books – His book Ravenshoe was one of Thirkell’s favourites, but the Oxford Companion to English Literature lists five others: Geoffrey Hamlyn, Austin Elliot, The Hillyars and the Burtons, Leighton Court, and Silcote of Silcotes. He spent part of his life in Australia, so together with her comments on the devilish ways of children, he may have been more of an influence on her writing than we realise.

The wind bloweth where it listeth – St John’s Gospel, 3, 8.

240 All his days were trances, all his nights were dreams – And all my days are trances, / And all my nightly dreams / And where thy grey eye glances, / And where thy footstep gleams. Edgar Allan Poe, ‘To One in Paradise’, I, 21.

Winged words – from Homer – one of the phrases he often used, such as “wine dark sea”, and “rosy-fingered dawn”.

241 The Sooner the Better Forgot

No wonder when now fifty-five,
You’re better than when but fifteen
‘Tis a pity you cannot contrive
To make yourself fit to be seen,
To Police Office when you were brought
By warrant, refusing to trot,
There was no one that saw you but thought,
“The sooner the better forgot”.

Ode to Harriette Wilson, alias Made. De Bouchere, alias Made. Rochfort, on her late appearance at the Marlborough Street Police Office (Angela Thirkell, The Fortunes of Harriette, p.256)

242 As punctually as the Count of Monte Cristo – from the novel of that name by Alexandre Dumas. In Chapter 85 the Count undertakes a journey of forty-eight leagues in eight hours. Is this what she means?

Broom / Brougham – Both are pronounced the same. Broom is also a yellow-flowered shrub – hence the implication of bawdiness. A brougham is a four-wheeled closed carriage. A dog-cart is a light open two- wheeled vehicle. So is a tilbury. So is a dennet, and also, apparently is a gig. As she says, very few people would have known about such things at that date.

243 Galloping withal – “I’ll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal, and who he stands still withal.” Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 3, scene 2.

246 Mr Murdstone – David’s very unpleasant stepfather in Dickens’s David Copperfield.

Hatz-Reinigen – There is a Duchy of Saxe Meiningen; also this could be rendered in English as “Clean Hats” or possibly “Clean Finger.” Cobalt is a parody of Coburg. Following Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert the British Royal family were called Saxe-Coburg Gotha until World War I.

Volumnia Deadlock – a poor relation of Sir Leicester Deadlock. Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, Chapter 28.

247 Mr Holt – A garden snob and a bore – see Wild Strawberries.

Monkey’s Paw – Horror story by W. W. Jacobs, 1902.

249 What the French call nul – Worthless, useless, but in this rare reference to such things Thirkell appears to mean impotent or infertile.

250 Cruscofer Export and Ullage Association – Ullage is the difference between the amount of liquid a vessel can contain and what it actually does contain, hence dregs or rubbish generally. Cruscofer is untraced.

251 Qui facit per alium – Qui facit per alium facit per se, usually taken to mean “He who does things for others does them for himself.”

254 Hound of the Baskervilles in the Strand Magazine – Conan Doyle’s novel was published in parts during 1901-2.

Dilly-dallied and shilly-shallied

“My old man said follow the van,
And don’t dilly dally on the way.
Off went the van wiv me ‘ome packed in it,
I walked behind wiv me old cock linnet.
But I dillied and dallied, dallied and dillied
Lost me way and don’t know where to roam.
Well you can’t trust a special like the old time coppers
When you can’t find your way ‘ome.”

Music-hall song sung by Marie Lloyd.

255 Children of a larger growth – “Men are but children of a larger growth; Our appetites as apt to change as theirs.” Dryden, All for Love, Act 4 scene 1.

256 That way madness lay – “Oh that way madness lies” Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 3 scene 4.

260 Plowtered from Three Jovial Huntsmen – Caldecott’s ‘Three Jovial Huntsmen’ doesn’t include “Plowtered”, though there is a query about the word “powlert”.

261 As we have said before and we know it – Lord Bond’s grandfather Jedediah Bond was a Yorkshire woollen manufacturer who worked his men harder and paid them less than anyone else in the South Riding. South Riding is also an imaginary county, and the title of a novel by Winifred Holtby. Also in Before Lunch.

262 Extreme politeness described by Saint-Simon – Duc de Saint-Simon, 1675-1755. His Mémoires are a vast account of the period 1694-1723, during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV.

263 Give me a ring …current pinchbeck phrase – Pinchbeck is an alloy of copper and zinc, used as imitation gold, hence spurious or cheap imitation.

264 Old Bill in the Dugout again – The World War 1 cartoon character drawn by Bruce Bairnsfather. Also page 156.

265 Decani and cantoris sides wrong in one of Mrs Morland’s books – also in one of Angela Thirkell’s? Lichfield Cathedral School tells us that these are the traditional Latin names for the two sides of the choir: Decani – “of the Dean”, who sits on the south side of the aisle and Cantoris – “of the singer”, i.e. Precentor, who sits on the north.

266 Increase and multiply – “Be fruitful and multiply” Genesis chapter 3 verse 28.

270 GWR…horrible initials B.R. -“They” nationalised the railways in 1948.


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