Happy Returns (1952)

Picture of the dust cover of "Happy Returns"

References for the novel Happy Returns, by Angela Thirkell. Hamish Hamilton. Published in the US as Happy Return.

Chapter 1

5 Va pour les Marlings – I agree about the Marlings.

9 the Southron intellect – Southron a Scottish word for the English.

11 Horatius – He kept the bridge in Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome. Also A Double Affair p.87, Close Quarters p.182.

Roosevelt’s telegrams – sent by President Roosevelt to Winston Churchill, throughout the war but most notoriously to hasten the African campaign in 1942, the impact of which was deemed to affect the election in the US.

12 The cuckoo of a worse July – Angela Thirkell uses various versions of this stanza from Tennyson’s poem ‘Midnight, June 30, 1879’. This is the original, others are more inventive; for instance she renders ‘The cuckoo of a joyless June/Is calling out of doors’ as ‘The cuckoo of a sunless June was singing in the dark/rain’! For the various versions see Private Enterprise p.89, p.113, p.273, Jutland Cottage p.61, Love At All Ages p.10, p.270, Three Score and Ten p.5.

She never would desert Mr Micawber – the words of the loyal Mrs Micawber in Dickens, David Copperfield, chapter 12. Also A Double Affair p.267.

13 The lads who will never grow old – perhaps a general expression rather than a quotation?

14 Wherever The Waring sat was the head of the table – Scottish saying ‘Whaur The Macnab [ie the head of the clan] sits, [is] the head of the table’ (also said of The MacGregor). Also Three Score And Ten p.80 (Mackintosh)

Benedick the married man – Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing, Act 5 scene 4. Also see page 151.

Petite voix de compositeur – more a hackneyed phrase than a quotation, perhaps, meaning that the voice is only as good as a composer’s might be, not that of a professional performer. But perhaps Angela Thirkell knew the ‘clever man who wrote songs’? cf. Sur la qualité de la voix, Love Among the Ruins p.371.

Manypeeplia Upsidedownia – is a plant in Edward Lear’s Nonsense songs… of 1871 [actually Upsidownia]. Also The Old Bank House p.123. Similar Lear Relusions continue on p.17 and p.35.

16 The willingness is all – Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 5 sc. 2 ‘if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all’. A mixture of readiness and willingness also in

The Headmistress p.31, Jutland Cottage p.105, A Double Affair p.127, Love At All Ages p.190, What Did It Mean p.151, Enter Sir Robert p.25, Close Quarters p.23.

moult gent monstran cortez, iceluy mostran cor – sounds like authentic Provencal! Is mostran an error for monstran (or vice versa)? Also de cortez tout confaict.

17 Jinglia Teakettlia – another plant from Edward Lear’s More nonsense... of 1872 [actually Tinkettlia]

Scots pint and tappit hen – a Scots pint was the equivalent of four English pints; a tappit hen was a large drinking-vessel with a knobbed lid, thence a glass of whisky served after dues for supper had been paid.

19 Monstrous regiment – the ‘infamous reign’ referred to in the pamphlet ‘The first blast of the trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women’ by Protestant reformer John Knox (1505-1572). Also [of Lady Bond, boys, etc] Before Lunch p.173, Summer Half p.53, The Old Bank House p.355, Jutland Cottage p.261, Close Quarters p.186, p.224, Love At All Ages p.70.

Auchsteer, Ben Gaunt, Loch Gloom – a recurring joke about Scottish place-names.

20 great Duke of Omnium, Planty Pal, Lady Dumbello – these are all from Trollope’s Barsetshire novels, as are Griselda Grantly (p.35), Grace Crawley, Squire Thorne and Miss Monica Thorne (p.42), Mr Arabin, Archdeacon Grantly and Plumstead Episcopi (p.43), Clem Stringer in Silverbridge (p.55); the Marchioness of Hartletop, Madame Max Goesler (p.88,p.90), the Lady Lufton who had been the parson’s sister at Framley (p.172); Griselda Grantly’s similarity to Clarissa (p.176); Finn an MP in the Duke of Omnium’s letters: he murdered somebody or something (p.222); Framley Parsonage (p.279).

21 Trilby – heroine of George du Maurier’s novel of the same name, hypnotised by Svengali into singing like an angel. Also Three Score and Ten p.120.

22 Crail Toun – traditional Scottish song ‘Oh were you e’er in Crail Toun?’

27 the queen in Hamlet – Lady Lufton gives an accurate version of Gertrude’s lines in Hamlet act 3, sc.4. Other Hamlet references in Love Among the Ruins p.325, The Old Bank House p.288, County Chronicle p.291, Love At All Ages p.201.

30 For Europe he might be desirous now and then to read England – George Canning twice served as Foreign Secretary and died in 1827, the year he became Prime Minister. He contributed to the Anti-Jacobin satires in 1797-8 [see Relusions for The Headmistress]. Also Love Among The Ruins p.338.

Road to Tarsus – in fact Saul of Tarsus was on the road to Damascus when he had his heavenly revelation (Acts of the Apostles ch.9).

35 Palafox (also p.205) – a mystery, see Relusions for The Old Bank House. One Palafox was the subject of a sonnet by Wordsworth, the other a Mexican tennis player! Also The Old Bank House p.23, p.55, The Duke’s Daughter p.13.

Quangle-Wangle – Edward Lear’s elderly creature who had to cook the dinner in The story of the four little children who went round the world. Also The Duke’s Daughter p.315.

36 Immortal longings, also immortal longings to be a bookseller p.79 – Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, final scene (Act 5 sc.2) in which Cleopatra says ‘Give me my robe, put on my crown, I have/Immortal longings in me.’ Also August Folly p.107, Miss Bunting p.148, Peace Breaks Out p.9, The Old Bank House p.85, p.157, Enter Sir Robert p.10, A Double Affair p.272, Three Score and Ten p.139.

hospital libraries – many references to St John and Red Cross Libraries, possibly as a result of May Gaskell’s interest; she was a close friend of Edward Burne-Jones and had Kipling’s support with the library (See Josceline Dimbleby’s A Profound Secret.).

37 Ouida – pen-name of Marie Louise de la Ramée (1839-1908), an English novelist who wrote romantic adventures featuring upper-class characters.

Burnt with a hard gem-like flame – Walter Pater, in Studies in the History of the Renaissance, on the need for intensity of experience: ‘To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life’.

Thinking of the old un – also p.139 and p.227 – Mrs Gummidge’s depression was accounted for by this in Dickens’s David Copperfield chapter 3. Also Miss Bunting p.16, Private Enterprise p.216, A Double Affair p.188, Close Quarters p.223.

38 Tropically – that is, in a trope or metaphor [the previous owner of my copy has marked it as a typographical error for ‘topically’!]

Watson Gordon – 1788-1864, leading portrait painter in Scotland, much influenced by Raeburn who was a family friend. Became President of the Scottish Academy.

Chantrey bust – Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841) was a sculptor patronised by royalty who bequeathed his fortune (‘the Chantrey Bequest’) to the nation to purchase ‘works executed in Great Britain’.

Raeburn – Angela Thirkell alludes to both Raeburn and George Richmond as portraying their sitters with a highlight on their nose. Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) painted mainly society figures.

George Richmond – (1809-1896) originally influenced by William Blake, then gradually turned to conventional portraiture of figures such as Charlotte Bronte and Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose portraits seem to have slight highlights to show the modelling of the face rather than shiny noses..

40 Kornog – possibly a joke, eg a cross between Kellogg and Cornflake.

Lord Mickleham and Dolly Foster – continues on p.41. From Anthony Hope’s The Dolly Dialogues; also p.269 where Miss Dolly Foster’s grandfather had called [it] a most suitable alliance. More to the point he sent his granddaughter a cheque. Also Before Lunch p.86, Love At All Ages p.137.

Chapter 2

42 Corn growing where Troy town stood – Ovid, Heroides I in which Penelope writes to Ulysses ‘Iam seges est ubi Troia fuit’ – it had been destroyed in the Trojan Wars ten years previously. Interestingly in an era of The Da Vinci Code, a book by I. J. Wilkens (Where Troy once stood) claims that Troy was sited in Britain! A similar phrase is used in High Rising p. 166, only the corn has become seven cities.

44 The Lord had him blessed in his latter end – Book of Job, chapter 42 verse12, ‘So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning’. Also p.292 and Never Too Late p.230.

45 Gampish – from Dickens’s Mrs Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewit, an unhygienic drunk who positively looked forward to her patients dying; usually used by Angela Thirkell in connection with midwifery. Also Northbridge Rectory p.344, Private Enterprise p.374, The Old Bank House p.110, p.375, Jutland Cottage p.21, What Did It Mean p.8, Enter Sir Robert p.58, p.62, p.81, p.221, Never Too Late p.202, p.236, Close Quarters p.270, p.281, Love At All Ages p.30, p.85, p.167.

46 the shadowy third (also page 61) – Browning’s poem ‘By the fire-side’ contains the lines ‘If two lives join, there is oft a scar,/They are one and one, with a shadowy third’ – which appears to mean that husband and wife together constitute a kind of third party, rather than referring to a baby. Also Enter Sir Robert p.131.

Mrs Amos Barton – this large placid lady appears in George Eliot’s story of the clergyman Amos Barton in Scenes of Clerical Life. Described as being rather than doing, was she the original for Rachel Dean? Also Jutland Cottage p.97, Close Quarters p.275.

47 When two or three of the clergy… were gathered together – ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (St Matthew’s Gospel chapter 18 verse 20).

Keats’s grave – Keats died in Rome and was buried in the Protestant cemetery there.

48 St Praxted [sic] – Browning, ‘And have I not Saint Praxed’s ear to pray/Horses for ye, and brown Greek manuscripts,/And mistresses with great smooth marbly limbs?/That’s if ye carve my epitaph aright’ in poem ‘The Bishop orders his tomb’, hence Mrs Joram’s remark.

An acharnement of ultra-viresity – a wonderful Angela Thirkell phrase, acharnement being French for fierce determination and ultra vires Latin for ‘beyond the powers’ (eg of a committee). In other words the Dean is a terror for meddling in things that are not his business. It is not clear if this is an original expression of AT’s or a quotation/parody.

49 Some were Buff, some were Blue – Politics at Eatanswill in Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers chapter 51. Also later, p. 306. Other Pickwick Relusions in

The Headmistress p.254, Jutland Cottage p.119, What Did It Mean p.278,

A Double Affair p.152, Love At All Ages p.295.

50 Lesser breed without the law – Kipling’s poem ‘Recessional’, ‘Such boasting as the Gentiles use,/Or lesser breeds without the law’. Also (as ‘lesser sheets without the law’) Miss Bunting p.208, and ‘lesser breeds’ in Love Among the Ruins p.133.

54 Snatching brands from the burning – Bible, Book of Amos, chapter 4 verse 11, ‘and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning’.

Beyond the dreams of avarice – Edward Moore (1712-57) in his play The Gamester, ‘I am rich beyond the dreams of avarice’, later used by Dr Johnson [in Boswell’s Life] ‘the potentiality of growing rich, beyond the dreams of avarice’. Also ‘silly beyond the dreams of avarice’, below, p.102.

55 Every day’s most quiet needs by sun (when available) and electric light – from the Elizabeth Barrett Browning sonnet that begins ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’. ‘I love thee to the level of every day’s/Most quiet needs, by sun and candlelight’. Also Close Quarters p.116.

57 He means well – and a more damning remark you couldn’t make – Damning with faint praise! More specifically, Disraeli wrote of the Furies ‘They mean well; their feelings are strong, but their hearts are in the right place’ in his novel The Infernal Marriage (1834).

61 shadowy third – see note above for page 47.

Chapter 3

66 anyone who blesses his friend with a loud voice… – Mrs Morland gives the source: the Book of Proverbs, chapter 27 verse 14. Also Close Quarters p.48.

Braying a fool in a mortar with a pestle – here braying means crushing. Bible, Proverbs, chapter 27 verse 22.

Make her foolishness depart from her – is a continuation of the previous Relusion: ‘Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him’.

My desire is that mine adversary had written a book – Bible, Book of Job chapter 31 verse 35: ‘behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book’.

67 Tittymouse and Tattymouse – one of Angela Thirkell’s beloved terrifying fairy tales. Also The Old Bank House p.191.

Oh that my words were written, oh that they were printed in a book – again the Book of Job, chapter19 verse 23.

68 Prove all things – ‘Prove [ie test] all things; hold fast that which is good’, Bible, I Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 21.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley’s novel about a future totalitarian society (itself an ironic quotation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 5 scene 1). Also Northbridge Rectory p.236, Marling Hall p.37, Private Enterprise p.190, Love Among The Ruins p.195, The Old Bank House p.120, p.182, Enter Sir Robert p.40, Love At All Ages p.15, p.54, Three Score and Ten p.137.

70 Zeal for her house – ‘the zeal of thine house hath even eaten me’, Psalm 69 verse 9.

72 Charles Ravenshoe and Duck’s Mews… – from Henry Kingsley’s novel Ravenshoe. Other Kingsley Relusions August Folly p.85, Old Bank House p.351, Jutland Cottage p.97, County Chronicle p.203, The Duke’s Daughter p.147, Enter Sir Robert p.239, p.240, Love At All Ages p.228.

At war under her Great Leader and at union with herself – an echo of ‘Jerusalem is built as a city: that is at unity in itself’ (Psalm 122 verse 1).

73 Mr F’s aunt – in Dickens’s Little Dorrit. Also The Duke’s Daughter p.83, Love At All Ages p.17.

76 Thomas A Tattamus – Mother Goose rhymes. Other Mother Goose Relusions abound, eg see Relusions for The Old Bank House pages 353 and 354.

77 Onesiphorus – his name means ‘bringing profit’ and he was a great supporter of St Paul in Rome (Bible, II Timothy, chapter 1, verses 16-18). Also Enter Sir Robert p.232, Close Quarters p.21.

Away with such a fellow from the earth: Bible, Acts of the Apostles, chapter 22, verse 22.

80 Ancient Mariner look – Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, ‘long grey beard and glittering eye’. Also Jutland Cottage p.211, Close Quarters p.140.

81 Cardinal Wolsey: ego et rex meus – Wolsey appears to be saying ‘I and my king’ as if he were the more important, although this was normal order of words in Latin.

Chapter 4

83 Benefits forgot – Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 2 scene 7: ‘Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,/That dost not bite so nigh/As benefits forgot’.

85 Decline and Fall of the British Empire – cf Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

We were Persia’s washpot and over us Egypt had cast out her shoe – Psalm 60 verse 7; ‘Moab is my wash-pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe’. Also Enter Sir Robert p.79, Love At All Ages pp. 21, 216, Three Score and Ten p.5.

86 Jubilee Ballyhoo – said by Sir Stafford Cripps of George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1936. Also County Chronicle p.137.

Noiseless but to itself extremely satisfactory tenor of its way – Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy written in a country churchyard’: ‘Along the cool sequestered vale of life/They kept the noiseless tenor of their way’. Also Jutland Cottage p.23, Love At All Ages p.156, Three Score and Ten p.89.

Parish pump more important than St Stephen’s – ie local politics being more interesting than national ones – St Stephen’s Tower being the one in which Big Ben is housed.

That bourne from which few travellers return without something wrong with them – Shakespeare, Hamlet, ‘The undiscovered country[death] from whose bourn/No traveller returns’. Also A Double Affair p.263.

87 The solicitoring lay – slang (or Romany) for ‘line of business’.

89 Librarians’ Association – should of course be the Library Association.

92 Littler/Dean FarrarEric, or Little by Little (1858) was a moral tale of school life by Frederic William Farrar (1831-1903). Emil Littler was indeed an impresario who backed London shows and pantomimes, then set up the television company Associated Rediffusion.

Oh my lungs and liver – Goroo! – Words spoken by the terrifying character to whom David tries to sell his clothes in Dickens’s David Copperfield, chapter 13.

Touched a chord in the human breast… may I shake hands? – Yes, Uncle Pumblechook. A blend of two Dickens Relusions. In Bleak House, chapter 20 Mr Guppy says ‘Jobling, there are chords in the human mind’; in Great Expectations (chapter 4) Mrs Joe Gargery says every Christmas, ‘Oh, Un-cle Pum-ble-chook! This is kind!’ in gratitude for a bottle of port and one of sherry. ‘Pumblechookian’ is used in Private Enterprise, p.117.

93 Sit on a cushion and pretend to sew a fine seam – nursery rhyme ‘Goldilocks, Goldilocks, wilt thou be mine?/Thou shalt not wash dishes nor yet feed the swine,/But sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam/And feed upon strawberries, sugar and cream’.

Old times have changed, old manners gone – Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel. It is, incidentally, quoted in Trollope’s novel (1883) Mr Scarborough’s Family.

Bonnie Dundee – Sir Walter Scott play The Doom of Dervorgoil, 1830, ‘And it’s room for the bonnets of Bonny Dundee!’ or, more famously, ‘It’s up with the bonnets of Bonny Dundee!’

94 The minster clock has struck two and yonder is the moon – Wordsworth poem ‘Lucy Gray’, ‘The minster-clock has just struck two,/And yonder is the moon!’. Also Jutland Cottage p.207.

95 High hopes faint on a warm hearthstone – used by Kipling in his poem ‘The winners’, followed by the line ‘He travels the fastest who travels alone.’ Probably proverbial. Also Miss Bunting p.259, Jutland Cottage p.79.

96 Waking dream – ‘Was it a vision, or a waking dream?’, Keats’s poem ‘Ode to a nightingale’.

Chapter 5

98 Rowton Houses founded by Lord Beaconsfield’s friend and secretary – this was Lord Rowton (1838-1903) who had been Disraeli’s private secretary and set up hostels to provide better living conditions for the homeless, all but one of them in London.

99 Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Assurance Company – from Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, chapter 5. Also Love At All Ages p.6.

100 Science is no pursuit for a gentleman – ‘I have concluded that Literature is no proper pursuit for a gentleman’, H. P. Lovecraft, 1925.

101 Kilmeny – in ‘The Queen’s Wake’, poem by James Hogg, in which ‘Late, late in the gloamin’ Kilmeny came home!’, also page 309. Also Love Among the Ruins p.290.

102 Silly beyond the dreams of even sublieutenants: parody of ‘rich beyond the dreams of avarice, see note on p.54 above.

105 All would be gas and gaiters: Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby ch.49. Also The Old Bank House p.157.

106 Puling: sounds like a word Angela Thirkell might have made up, but it exists, meaning wailing.

Old Jenkinson in the commonroom – more commonly known as ‘old Bill in the dugout’. Appears in various versions, may be based on ‘Old Grouse in the gun-room’ from Oliver Goldsmith’s play She Stoops to Conquer, Act 2. Also Private Enterprise p.290, Enter Sir Robert p.156, p.264, Jutland Cottage p.998, p.152.

108 I was adored once – in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night Act 2 scene 3, Sir Andrew Aguecheek says ‘I was adored once too’. Also Jutland Cottage p.88.

109 Made to stand and deliver – the classic challenge of the highwayman.

Raze out the written troubles of the brain with any sweet oblivious antidote -Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 5 scene 3: ‘Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, /Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,/Raze out the written troubles of the brain,/And with some sweet oblivious antidote/Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff/Which weighs upon the heart?’

111 More artist allusions, but a very mixed bag – J. M. W. Turner, mainly known for landscapes and a strong influence upon (eg) Whistler and Monet; Claude (Lorrain) (1600-82) who produced landscapes that often had a biblical or classical theme; Thomas Bewick (1753-1823), a wood engraver who was so good at birds [like Effie Arbuthnot!] that a swan was called after him.

112 Darkened counsel – Bible, Book of Job, chapter 38 verse 2, ‘Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?’ Also Miss Bunting p.223.

113 Pleasing anxious inmates – Thomas Gray’s ‘Elegy written in a country churchyard’, ‘For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,/This pleasing anxious being e’er resigned,’ Also Before Lunch p.94, Marling Hall p.174.

In the eye of the beholder – a traditional saying normally applied to beauty.

115 Lord! What fools these mortals be: Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, scene 2.

In love not for more than three whole days together – ‘Out upon it, I have loved/ Three whole days together’ (Sir John Suckling, 1609-42). Also The Old Bank House p.222, County Chronicle p.317.

119 Don’t be so deucedly condescending: final scene of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Gondoliers, in which the Duke sings: ‘Now to the other extreme you’re tending,/Don’t be so deucedly condescending!’

120 Speaking countenance – a much-used phrase, eg in a translation of Ovid and in the play Arden of Feversham. Most likely Angela Thirkell borrowed it from Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. Silas Wegg says (ch.7) ‘What a speaking countenance is yours’, whereat Mr Venus ‘smoothed his countenance and looked at his hand, as if to see whether any of its speaking properties came off’. Also Marling Hall p.70.

Chapter 6

122 I have tried them in French and I have tried them in German and I can’t find anything in them – echo of Charles II’s words about his nephew-in-law of Denmark. Difficult to track down unless one knows it already, as it is clearly not a direct quotation! Charles I (father of Charles II) was of course married to Anne of Denmark, but whether the families remained connected until the Restoration is hard to pinpoint.

Wasn’t Thou a man really? – Edward Fitzgerald’s poem ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’: ‘And Thou beside me in the wilderness’.

123 Colette and bath in a theatre – baignoire is the lowest level of box in a French theatre!

125 Pre-Grombolian pottery...Chankly Bore – In Edward Lear’s nonsense verse, the great Gromboolian plain appears in ‘The daddy-long-legs and the fly’ and ‘The Dong with a luminous nose’; presumably pre-Gromboolian pottery antedates these. The hills of the Chankly Bore are in both ‘The Jumblies’ and ‘The Dong with a luminous nose’. Also Private Enterprise p.228.

127 Naturally set in authority over them – an echo here of the Catechism? ‘To honour and obey the Queen and all that are put in authority under her’.

131 Chill penury – which ‘repress’d their noble rage,/And froze the genial current of the soul’ in Thomas Gray’s Elegy in a country churchyard. Another line, ‘Even in their ashes live their unwonted fires’ may have influenced the references to fires in the same paragraph. Also The Old Bank House p.226, Love At All Ages p.90.

136 It’s all my own invention – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 8: ‘It’s my own invention – to keep clothes and sandwiches in. You see I carry it upside-down, so that the rain can’t get in.’ Also Jutland Cottage p.34.

139 ‘Thinking of the old ‘un’ – see note above for page 39.

Chapter 7

144 Dainty rogue in porcelain – George Meredith’s novel The Egoist, chapter 5. Also Love Among the Ruins p.56, Enter Sir Robert p.10, p.93, p.97.

146 Legs Round Your Neck – sounds all too likely as the title of a vulgar film.

147 Fiends angelical – ‘Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical’, Shakespeare,

Romeo and Juliet, Act 3 scene 2. Also A Double Affair p.203.

149 I warrant it will prove an excuse for the glass – song in Sheridan’s play The School for Scandal, Act 3, scene 3, ‘Let the toast pass / Drink to the lass /I’ll warrant she’ll prove an excuse for the glass!’

Beggarly ushers – AT uses this expression often but the source is unclear. ‘[A]s the most beggarly poet of them’ occurs in George Chapman’s play The Gentleman Usher (1606), but this is perhaps a coincidence. Also Summer Half p.48 [Penguin], Private Enterprise p.53, County Chronicle p.273, Jutland Cottage p.237, p.242.

150 Old man with black pudding on his nose – fairy tale (Spanish in origin?) in which a couple are given three wishes. The old man’s wish is for a black pudding, which annoys his wife with its triviality; she thereupon wishes that the pudding were stuck on his nose. They end up wishing to return everything to normal.

Travellers must be content – Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act 2 scene 4. Also Three Score and Ten p. 90.

‘Hysterica passio – down, thou climbing sorrow’, in Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 2 scene 4. Other King Lear Relusions High Rising p.179-183, Northbridge Rectory p.206, Miss Bunting p.44, p.126, Peace Breaks Out p.33, The Old Bank House p.65, p.345, Close Quarters p.194, p.201, p.250, p.257.

152 A grown-up son at home – usually, of course, it was the grown-up daughter who remained at home.

153 I’ll tip the AP a nod – Dickens, Great Expectations, chapter 25, in which Mr Wemmick says of his Aged Parent, ‘Nod away at him….will you tip him one more?’

Dance at Nabob’s Arms like Emma – in Jane Austen’s novel Emma the dance at the Crown inn is the subject of much debate. Mrs Elton (p.159) is the tactless overbearing character in the same novel.

155 Politeness of Swan being taken round by Mr Belton contrasts with Belton children: The half was not told me – as Swan says, this occurs in I Kings chapter 10 verse 7, when the Queen of Sheba visits Solomon. The Chronicles version (II, chapter 9, verse 6) is indeed a lot weaker: ‘and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me’. Also Jutland Cottage p.27, Close Quarters p.228.

Fell on his neck and embraced him – possibly ‘And he [Joseph] fell upon his brother’s neck, and wept’, Bible, Book of Genesis, chapter 45 verse 14.

156 A kind of universal dovetailedness – in Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby (chapter 24) this is Mr Curdle’s (inaccurate) description of the dramatic unities.

158 Rung out the False, rung in the True – ‘Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky’ from Tennyson’s poem ‘In Memoriam’. ‘The year is going, let him go;/Ring out the false, ring in the true.’

Mrs Elton – see note on page 153 above.

162 Not so young neither – virtually a traditional expression, but appears in Joseph Harris’s Love’s a Lottery. Also Jutland Cottage p.64.

164 And leaves the world to darkness and to me – Thomas Gray, ‘Elegy in a country churchyard’. Also Northbridge Rectory p.290, What Did It Mean p.181.

165 William Tell and his ghastly friends – in H. E. Marshall’s Stories of William Tell and his friends; told to the children they all seem to spend their time oppressing peasants and attacking Austrians.

166 Further passing allusions to artists:

Jean-Antoine Watteau – (1684-1721), the French rococo painter with his charming courtly scenes;

Walter Pater – (1839-94), best remembered for his novel Marius the Epicurean, had a powerful influence on the visual arts of the romantic period represented by Rossetti through to the modernism of the early 20th century.

Nicolas Lancret – (1690-1743) was an admirer of Watteau and painted similar subjects but in a less tender way, perhaps because he trained as an engraver.

167 Beautiful woman with a more beautiful daughter – from Horace’s Odes Book I, 16. ‘O matre pulchra, filia pulchrior’ (O lovelier daughter of a lovely mother). Also The Headmistress p.106.

Snow Queen – from Hans Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name.

168 Scriptor Ignotus of Aterra – means Unknown Writer of No Land. Echoed in Love At All Ages by Pictor Ignotus (p.22): unknown painter.

169 Apollyon straddling right across the way – he thus intercepted Christian in the Valley of the Shadow of Death in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), a picture of which must have hung in many nurseries. Also High Rising p.11 [Penguin].

Chapter 8

171 Lady Graham has a black lace scarf – like Mrs Brandon and AT!

176 Pram Quad – presumably pun on Tom Quad in Christchurch College, the largest of the Oxford quadrangles..

177 Dastard in war – Oddly, Swan does not pick this up immediately, then comes back to it on page190: ‘For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,/Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar’ (Walter Scott, ‘Marmion’, canto 5). Also Marling Hall p.94 (‘in all the wide borders my car is the best’ for ‘Through all the wide Border his steed was the best’), p.174, The Old Bank House p.167, p.336.

Not so deep as a well nor so wide as a church-door – [conversation] Mercutio’s words about his fatal wound in Romeo and Juliet, Act 3 scene 1. Also page 230.

179 Becky Sharp – of the ball yes; of the dancing no – the commentary of the Parisian ladies on the pregnant Becky’s social success: ‘She is of all the societies, of all the balls – of the balls – yes – of the dances, no.’ Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, ch.34. Also Enter Sir Robert p.156.

180 In linked sweetness all drawn out – Milton, ‘L’Allegro’: ‘Such as the meeting soul may pierce/In notes, with many a winding bout/ Of linked sweetness long drawn out’.

182 Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart [sic, for ‘part’] – Rudyard Kipling poem ‘The Song of the Cities – Auckland’ of the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

184 Crabbe-like moralisings – George Crabbe, 1754-1832, eg ‘I paint the cot/As truth will paint it, and as bards will not’. Crabbe Relusions also in The Old Bank House p.370, Love At All Ages p.90.

Her bread was bitter and other people’s stairs inhospitable – Dante, Divine Comedy (Paradise), ‘You shall find out how salt is the taste of another man’s bread and how hard is the way up and down another man’s stairs’ [Tu proverai si come sa di sale/Lo pane altrui, e com” duro calle/Lo scendere e’l salir per l’altrui scale.’]. Also [with variations] Cheerfulness Breaks In p.300, The Headmistress p.42, Close Quarters p.181.

186 Volleyed and thundered – applied to the cannon in Tennyson’s poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ rather than to dancing.

188 Mrs Wittitterly… would not remember her medical man – the sensitive soul, worried over by her husband, to whom Kate Nickleby went as companion in Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby.

Pylades … Pythias … Guildenstern – all these had a close male friend (Orestes, Damon, Rosencrantz respectively). The first two are classical references, the third slightly comic, as Grace realises. Also see above, page 11.

189 A thousand little shafts of flame are shivered in one’s not at all narrow frame – Tennyson’s poem ‘Fatima’. ‘From my swift blood that went and came/a thousand little shafts of flame/Were shiver’d in my narrow frame.’ (It continues ‘O Love, O fire! once he drew/With one long kiss my whole soul thro’/My lips, as sunlight drinketh dew.’, which forms a separate Relusion.) Also County Chronicle p.63.

190 Night of memories and of sighs (not) – Walter Savage Landor’s poem ‘Rose Aylmer’ was parodied by Mr Latimer in Summer Half, but Angela Thirkell uses this extract from it seriously in several places. In its totality it reads: ‘Ah, what avails the sceptred race!/Ah, what the form divine!/When every virtue, every grace,/Rose Aylmer, all were thine./Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes May weep, but never see,/A night of memories and of sighs I consecrate to thee.
Also County Chronicle p.339, The Duke’s Daughter p.277, What Did It Mean p.46, Never Too Late p.280.

A college fellowship … not an inheritance – also page 196 (he liked schoolmastering, but it wasn’t exactly an inheritance). Angela Thirkell is fond of this expression: it’s reading law in Summer Half p.48, teaching in Marling Hall p.13, poor relations in Private Enterprise p.378, the Red Cross in Love Among the Ruins p.98,
service in Love Among the Ruins p.278 and Never Too Late p.286.

Beauty and brains and kindness – Also beauty and brains and goodness page 227; beauty and brains and goodness page 275. Also The Duke’s Daughter p.108.

Charles his friend – sounds like the cast-list for a play. Perhaps also a reference to the male friendships on p.188? See below p. 199 and Swan his friend p.207.

Quick, thy tablets, Memory – Matthew Arnold’s poem ‘A memory picture’. ‘Ere the parting hour go by,/ Quick, thy tablets [ie notebooks], Memory!’

191 Star-crossed business, also p.232 so star-crossed by a girlhood in the uncertain postwar years – a doomed existence, as the ‘pair of star-crossed lovers’ (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, prologue).

Chapter 9

193 Tennyson’s ‘MaudPart I section 2 line 6 – ‘faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null’ Other Maud Relusions lower down the page. Also Miss Bunting p.211, Enter Sir Robert p.175, Close Quarters p. 235, Love At All Ages p.164, p.311.

The rest to some faint meaning made pretence but Shinwell never deviated into sense – Dryden’s satirical poem ‘Flecknoe’. ‘The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,/But Shadwell never deviates into sense’. Maud Part II, section 5, lines 5-6. ‘And another, a statesman there, betraying/His party-secret, fool, to the press’.

a lady’s name in the mess– it is against naval etiquette to mention a lady’s name in the mess-room; perhaps Swan was tempted to giggle at Mr Belton’s phraseology as well as his etiquette?

195 Elective Affinity, not as alarming as Wahlverwandtschaft [the German equivalent] Title of a novel by Goethe.

198 Intelligence does not always live with kindness – parody of ‘beauty lives with kindness’, from the song ‘Who is Silvia?’ in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 4 scene 2. Also Peace Breaks Out p.252, Jutland Cottage p.92, p.199, Close Quarters p.235, Love At All Ages p.54.

200 Next step a wrong one – as in [R. L. Stevenson’s] Kidnapped – where the third step of a flight is missing. Also Peace Breaks Out p.221.

201 Frederika Bremer’s visits to England – Angela Thirkell may have chosen the wrong person here. Fredrika Bremer was Swedish (1801-1865) and wrote letters to her sister on social issues arising from her trips abroad.
Frederika Bremer was a German dramatist/poet who lived from 1898-1956. Also Love Among the Ruins p.61.

204 One might as well try everything once – [Swan, seeing baby in bath]. Angela Thirkell may well be referring to the quotation by Sir Arnold Bax (1943) from an anonymous source ‘You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk-dancing’.

Burst their curb and bounded, rejoicing to be free – Lord Macaulay, Lays of Ancient Rome.

205 Blood, tears and sweat [sic] – Winston Churchill’s speech in the House of Commons 13 May 1940: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Also (with variations) Love Among the Ruins p.364, Never Too Late p.179.

Darkness had covered the land – although the exact phrase is not used, this appears to derive from the versions of the phenomenon accompanying Christ’s crucifixion described in the Gospels (St Matthew Chapter 27 verse 45; St Mark Chapter 15 verse 33; St Luke, Chapter 23 verse.44-45).

Palafox Borealis – see note on page 35 above.

206 Tachmonite who sat in the seat [continues on p.207] – Bible, II Samuel Chapter 23 verse 8 (‘These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains’). He recurs in I Chronicles Chapter 11 verse 11 as ‘Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains’, which at least gives him a name!

Strachan-Davidson – (1843-1916) was a real Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Angela Thirkell had good reason to know this, as her father wrote a memoir of him, published by the Clarendon Press in 1925..

207 Red wine cheers the heart of woman (and man) – Biblical authority for this! – ‘wine that maketh glad the heart of man’, Psalm 104 verse 14.

211 Earl Percy sees my fall – said by Earl Douglas in the ballad ‘The Battle of Chevy Chase’, quoted by Scott in his novel The Heart of Midlothian. ‘Fight on, my merry men all!/For why, my life is at an end./Earl Percy sees my fall.’ Also Marling Hall p.143, Love Among the Ruins p.217.

About to be a happy father made – Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 1 scene 2, in which the County Paris says: ‘Younger than she are happy mothers made’. Various versions of this Relusion in The Headmistress p.176, Love Among the Ruins p.46, The Old Bank House p.11, Love At All Ages p.26.

215 Mistletoe boughed – The mistletoe bough was the melodramatic tale of Lord Lovel’s daughter who hid away during games on her wedding night and whose skeleton was found years later by her widower in a locked chest.

217 He did not fear his fate too much and his deserts were not particularly small.. put it to the touch – all from James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, poem ‘My dear and only love’: ‘He either fears his fate too much,/Or his deserts are small,/That puts it not unto the touch/To win or lose it all.’ Also The Old Bank House p.269, A Double Affair p.211.

Worth all the roses of Sharon – the only obvious source here is the biblical Song of Solomon, Chapter 2 verse 1: ‘I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys’.

Chapter 10

221 Heir of Redclyffe – the famous novel by Charlotte M. Yonge (1853). Also Wild Strawberries p.82, Growing Up p.59, A Double Affair p.210, p.256, Love At All Ages p.70.

222 Kate Greenaway – illustrated many books for small children; she must have been at the height of her reputation to be commissioned for this adult best-seller.

Looking homeward – Milton, ‘Lycidas’: ‘Look homeward angel now, and melt with ruth’.

223 Steadfast light – although this could well be an ordinary phrase, our knowledge of Angela Thirkell suggests extra depth. It occurs as a phrase in ‘A Heine love song’ by Eugene Field, ‘The image of the moon at night/All trembling in the ocean lies./But she, with calm and steadfast light,/Moves proudly through the radiant skies.’

225 Dumas – Henry III and mignons pinned toques on hair: Alexandre Dumas wrote a play about Henri III which is said to be the first costume drama. Other Dumas Relusions are Dumas and the frog Mlle Camargo Summer Half p.211, The Headmistress p.274, Miss Bunting p.35, The Old Bank House p.386, Enter Sir Robert p.242, Never Too Late p.150, Love At All Ages p.297.

‘Was that the first syllable?’– reference to charades.

227 Might make her think of the old un – see note to page 37 above.

Old wounds bleed anew – ‘And makes my old wounds bleed anew’, Edmund Waller (1606-87)’s poem ‘The self-banished’. Also (with variants such as ‘old wound bleed again’) The Old Bank House p.319, County Chronicle p.331, What Did It Mean p.154, Three Score and Ten p.132.

Earl P. Neck and Seth Starkadder – characters from Stella Gibbons’s novel Cold Comfort Farm. Other Cold Comfort Farm Relusions Growing Up p.178, The Old Bank House p.367, The Duke’s Daughter p.301, Three Score and Ten p.27.

229 Like Mr Frank Churchill… ‘a second, slightly, but correctly taken by Frank Churchill’ – Jane Austen, Emma, chapter 26. Also Marling Hall p.186, What Did It Mean p.116, p.311, A Double Affair p.161, Close Quarters p.154. p.229-30.

Schubert songs – Relusions also in Jutland Cottage p.264, Close Quarters p.116, Love At All Ages p.306.

237 George Meredith’s poem Love in a Valley – The Relusion is to the words ‘Often she thinks,Were this wild thing but wedded/More love should I have, and much less care’. Also Enter Sir Robert p.106, A Double Affair p.113, Love At All Ages p.30, Three Score and Ten p.136.

238 Dick Swiveller and was the old lady friendly – Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop. Other Dick Swiveller Relusions in The Brandons p.256, Private Enterprise p.198, County Chronicle p.138.

239 Ancestral voices prophesying woe – really ‘war’, as in Coleridge’s poem ‘Kubla Khan’.

Chapter 11

240 If spirits can steal from the region of air: although Angela Thirkell refers to a bard of lost Ireland, this appears in an Italian opera At the Mid Hour of Night. Also Love Among the Ruins p. 227.

245 Authors of Babylon Bruised [Bruis’d] and Mount Moriah Mended – seems to be a pamphlet by Frederick Brittain, ‘being a compendious and authentick narracioun of ye proceedings of ye Wm. Dowsing Societie. Mount Moriah is otherwise known as the Temple of the Mount, near Jerusalem, site of Abraham’s proposed sacrifice of Isaac and thus of great significance to the Christian church.

254 Prophets are without honour in their employers’ kitchens – parody of ‘a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country’ from St Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 13 verse 57.

256 Mr Baptiste through Bleeding Heart Yard – John Baptist Cavaletto in Dickens, Little Dorrit who cannot proceed down the street without helpful neighbours teaching him English vocabulary., Also What Did It Mean p.296. A Double Affair p.37.

Losing his own holiday but gaining his own soul – ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? St Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 8 verse 36.

Chapter 12

261 Clandestine Marriage – title of the 1766 play by George Colman (1732-94) and the actor David Garrick (1717-1779).

263 Walter Crane illustrations – painter and illustrator who lived from 1845-1915, well known for illustrating children’s books in colour. Worked with William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, influenced by Burne-Jones.

267 The silence grew…[continued further].. it must get rid of what it knew, its bosom did so heave. Robert Browning, ‘By the fire-side’ – ‘then the silence grows/To that degree, you half believe/It must get rid of what it knows,/Its bosom does so heave.’ Also What Did It Mean p.194, A Double Affair p.239, Love At All Ages p.135.

274 Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow – Oliver Goldsmith’s poem ‘The traveller’.

Chapter 13

287 Watts painting of Grace Crawley – George Richmond’s signature being highlight on nose, confused with Raeburn? Also Jutland Cottage p.266, A Double Affair p.136.

290 everything handsome about me – Dogberry in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing describes himself as ‘one that hath two gowns, and everything handsome about him’ while complaining ‘Oh, that I had been writ down an ass!’ (Act 4, scene 2).

292 And now abideth faith, hope and charity – Bible, I Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 1. ‘And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.’

Account for it at my latter end – see note on page 44 above.

Women are but the weaker vessel – ‘giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel’, Bible, I Peter, Chapter 3 verse7.

293 Women are kittle cattle – ie creatures of varying moods. A general expression, but Wilfred Wilson Gibson used it (‘Womenfolk are kittle cattle’ in ‘The Mugger’s Song’); it was set to music by Herbert Howells). Might it have been known to Angela Thirkell through James McInnes?

Three hands, Manx cats – the badge of the Isle of Man is three clasped hands.

297 A dead and useless sorrow – perhaps not a Relusion as it stands. The expression ‘useless sorrow’ is found in various sources including Scott’s The Antiquary and Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo.

Chapter 14

300 Apple of discord – the golden apple, marked ‘for the most beautiful’ made by Eris after she was snubbed by Zeus. Athena, Hera and Aphrodite contested for it, Zeus nominating the peasant Paris as judge. Also A Double Affair p.97.

303 Hope so often tells a flattering tale – again several sources for this, eg ‘Hope told a flattering tale/That joy would soon return;/Ah, naught my sighs avail/For love is doomed to mourn.’ (Peter Pindar, pseudonym of John Wolcott (1738-1810), song in opera Artaxerxes. He wrote satirically about Royal Academicians, which may have made him especially interesting to the Mackail household. But also Miss Wrother (c.1820): ‘Hope told a flattering tale,/Delusive, vain and hollow./Ah, let not hope prevail,/Lest disappointment follow’.

304 His name is Empson, I always remember because Matron is called Dudley: Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson were advisers to Henry VII who were tried for conspiracy under Henry VIII and executed in 1510.

306 Irruption of Don Ottavio – in the opera Don Giovanni [Don Juan] he is the fiancé – or perhaps we should say betrothed – of Donna Anna and comes charging in after Don Juan has killed Donna Anna’s father in a duel.

Mr Slumkey’s supporters at Eatanswill – see note on page 49 above.

All her days were trances and all her nights were dreams – Kilmeny will come home again. See note on Relusion above page101.

310 There is no armour against Fate – ‘The glories of our blood and state/Are shadows, not substantial things./There is no armour against Fate;/Death lays his icy hand on kings.’ James Shirley (1596-1666).

311 Plornish – the honest plasterer of Bleeding Heart Yard in Dickens’s Little Dorrit.

Comparisons are odious – a saying dating back to mediaeval times, probably as well known for Shakespeare’s making Dogberry say ‘comparisons are odorous’ in Much Ado About Nothing, ~Act 3 scene 5.

Colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady – Kipling, Barrack Room Ballads,’The Colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady/Are sisters under their skin’. Also Marling Hall p.175, Private Enterprise p.101.

Not yet identified:

15 Flüstern vom Bräutigam und vom nächsten Jahr – [Schumann]

17 Was George Schwartz a Times/Spectator (or similar) contributor?

29 Jarvie and Keelevin in Glasgow – is this a Relusion?

34 Washington’s Vimphos and similar products recur in Angela Thirkell; we have still to trace if they have any parallel in real life.

82 Beset by foes within – is this a Relusion ? [the foe without?]

90 Having confounded himself in thanks – sounds like a Relusion.

95 Crawl onto committees and curse conferences – sounds like a parody, but of what?

117 Brax and Kroda guns – a joke on real-life guns, no doubt, but what?

123 Reference to translation of Colette where they shared a bath at the Opera – can’t trace this.

159 Gunner Heppinstall when a guest at Faith and Works. -Seems to be one of those references you either know or you don’t!

161 Du mal qu’un amour ignoré Nous fait souffrir – me dechiré jusqu’à mourir: can’t trace this.

186 Charged em home again, seized his own again, rammed and sank the Carthaginian galleys, like Prince Rupert – is this a set of several Relusions?

209 Kronk gun – as page 117 above.

212 Hopes seemed pale, dying creatures now – one of several rather sad quotations about hope. Source?

216 Doing one’s duty in the state of life … pleased to call one. Should be ‘station’, I think: but where does the original appear? Also What Did It Mean? p.215, Enter Sir Robert p.198, Love At All Ages p.189, p.235.

230 Love had shot his arrow to the mark: a commonplace enough expression, may not be a Relusion at all.

239 Bury that short-lived hope: ? a Relusion.

270 Sound bottom of commonsense: Angela Thirkell ascribes this to Dr Johnson, but I have not been able to pin it down.

276 Dazzle the rash beholder’s eye: certainly sounds like a quotation, although ‘rash beholder’ is a common expression.

289 It is really all I have and I wish it were more: we are helped towards Swinburne – but whereabouts?

307 How she was manifest in her walk: Source? Also Jutland Cottage p.258, What Did It Mean? p.111.

309 Is now her living world: where in Tennyson does this appear?






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