Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 1880
Genre Fiction
Origin UK
Publisher Oxford
My Copy Oxford paperback
First Read November 02, 2022

The Duke's Children

By page 600 the duke is learning to not get his way! This is so much like the long-running conversation I’ve been having with friends about the question: "how do you keep learning as an old person?" Not like, learning facts, but like, learning things that old people have trouble with, like culture or ethics!

Noted on January 4, 2023

Reading The Duke's Children this week while my wife is out of town and I'm home with the kids: the story of a man who fails to emotionally connect with his children without the aid of his wife is... a cautionary tale for sure.

Noted on December 6, 2022

Ugh: I was very moved by the way the Duke thinks over Mary’s engagement and compares it to the events of the first book, where Cora is in love w someone else and wants to marry this guy who is beneath her - but is prevailed on to resist and marry the duke instead. He starts to wonder if she was really happier with him (and they DID have a happy marriage! He’s just a melancholy dude and is being extra mopey because he’s still grieving her death) or if Cora should have been allowed to marry the other guy (who was a scoundrel!) and if it would have been better for him to remain single, devote his life to work, never be troubled by a family. You KNOW he’s wrong but he’s always been so hard on himself! Duke! It’s so sad, and in no small part because I of course identify so strongly w the Duke, so upright, so cold to others even when he doesn’t mean to be, always trying to do what’s right but causing himself such trouble because he’s actually so self centered he has trouble listening to the wisdom of others. I want to give him a hug.

Noted on November 15, 2022

The notes/jokes around the In Media Res bit had me laughing out loud. Trollope is such a sneaky little guy with these authorial inserts, I love them.

Noted on November 2, 2022

Also: the first page of this book shocked me because of a... plot development. I was so surprised and sad! Felt silly, but I did not realize how 'invested' I was in this group of characters. And Trollope just STARTS the book there, with this big development having already happened.

Then a hundred pages later he complains about other writers starting things 'in media res' and jokes about how he can't really pull that off.

Noted on November 2, 2022

Coming back to my boy Trollope after a string of disappointing books. I'd been saving this one, as the last in a series I've enjoyed so much. It's funny; I'm reading this at the same time as a 2022 scifi book about magical necromancer zombies and THIS is the page turned, while the bone-magician book puts me to sleep. What have I become?

Noted on November 2, 2022

The breakfast was of course given by Mr. Boncassen at his house in Brook Street, where the bridal presents were displayed. And not only were they displayed; but a list of them, with an approximating statement as to their value, appeared in one or two of the next day's newspapers;—as to which terrible sin against good taste neither was Mr. or Mrs. Boncassen guilty. But in these days, in which such splendid things were done on so very splendid a scale, a young lady cannot herself lay out her friends' gifts so as to be properly seen by her friends. Some well-skilled, well-paid hand is needed even for that, and hence comes this public information on affairs which should surely be private. In our grandmothers' time the happy bride's happy mother herself compounded the cake;—or at any rate the trusted housekeeper. But we all know that terrible tower of silver which now stands niddle-noddling with its appendages of flags and spears on the modern wedding breakfast-table. It will come to pass with some of us soon that we must deny ourselves the pleasure of having young friends, because their marriage presents are so costly.

Quoted on January 13, 2023

… they so belarded each other with praise in all their public expressions that it was quite manifest that they had quarrelled. When any body of statesmen make public asseverations by one or various voices, that there is no discord among them, not a dissentient voice on any subject, people are apt to suppose that they cannot hang together much longer. It is the man who has no peace at home that declares abroad that his wife is an angel. He who lives on comfortable terms with the partner of his troubles can afford to acknowledge the ordinary rubs of lite.

Quoted on January 4, 2023

'My opinion is to go for nothing, in anything!' The Duke as he said this knew that he was expressing aloud a feeling which should have been restrained within his own bosom. It was natural that there should have been such plaints. The same suffering must be encountered in regard to Tregear and his daughter. In every way he had been thwarted. In every direction he was driven to yield. And yet now he had to undergo rebuke from his own son, because one of those inward plaints would force itself from his lips!

Quoted on January 4, 2023

But it was the Duke who made the greatest efforts, and with the least success. He had told himself again and again that he was bound by every sense of duty to swallow all regrets. He had taken himself to task on this matter. He had done so even out loud to his son. He had declared that he would "let it all pass from him." But who does not know how hard it is for a man in such matters to keep his word to himself? Who has not said to himself at the very moment of his own delinquency, "Now,—it is now,—at this very instant of time, that I should crush, and quench, and kill the evil spirit within me; it is now that I should abate my greed, or smother my ill-humour, or abandon my hatred. It is now, and here, that I should drive out the fiend, as I have sworn to myself that I would do,"—and yet has failed?

Quoted on January 13, 2023

Parliamentary management was his forte. There have been various rocks on which men have shattered their barks in their attempts to sail successfully into the harbours of parliamentary management. There is the great Senator who declares to himself that personally he will have neither friend nor foe. There is his country before him and its welfare. Within his bosom is the fire of patriotism, and within his mind the examples of all past time. He knows that he can be just, he teaches himself to be eloquent, and he strives to be wise. But he will not bend;—and at last, in some great solitude, though closely surrounded by those whose love he had neglected to acquire,—he breaks his heart.

Then there is he who seeing the misfortune of that great one, tells himself that patriotism, judgment, industry, and eloquence will not suffice for him unless he himself can be loved. To do great things a man must have a great following, and to achieve that he must be popular. So he smiles and learns the necessary wiles. He is all for his country and his friends,—but for his friends first. He too must be eloquent and well instructed in the ways of Parliament, must be wise and diligent; but in all that he does and all that he says he must first study his party. It is well with him for a time;—but he has closed the door of his Elysium too rigidly. Those without gradually become stronger than his friends within, and so he falls.

But may not the door be occasionally opened to an outsider, so that the exterior force be diminished? We know how great is the pressure of water; and how the peril of an overwhelming weight of it may be removed by opening the way for a small current. There comes therefore the Statesman who acknowledges to himself that he will be pregnable. That, as a Statesman, he should have enemies is a matter of course. Against moderate enemies he will hold his own. But when there comes one immoderately forcible, violently inimical, then to that man he will open his bosom. He will tempt into his camp with an offer of high command any foe that may be worth his purchase. This too has answered well; but there is a Nemesis. The loyalty of officers so procured must be open to suspicion. The man who has said bitter things against you will never sit at your feet in contented submission, nor will your friend of old standing long endure to be superseded by such converts.

All these dangers Sir Timothy had seen and studied, and for each of them he had hoped to be able to provide an antidote. Love cannot do all. Fear may do more. Fear acknowledges a superior. Love desires an equal. Love is to be created by benefits done, and means gratitude, which we all know to be weak. But hope, which refers itself to benefits to come, is of all our feelings the strongest. And Sir Timothy had parliamentary doctrines concealed in the depths of his own bosom more important even than these. The Statesman who falls is he who does much, and thus injures many. The Statesman who stands the longest is he who does nothing and injures no one. He soon knew that the work which he had taken in hand required all the art of a great conjuror. He must be possessed of tricks so marvellous that not even they who sat nearest to him might know how they were performed.

Quoted on November 15, 2022

[this is practically a quote from my mom, advice to her daughters:]
You see I can be very frank with a real friend. But I am sure of myself in this,—that I will never marry a man I do not love. A girl needn't love a man unless she likes it, I suppose. She doesn't tumble into love as she does into the fire. It would not suit me to marry a poor man, and so I don't mean to fall in love with a poor man.

Quoted on November 15, 2022

"Would Lord Grex allow Percival to have his friends living here?" Earl Grex was Lady Mabel's father, Lord Percival was the Earl's son;—and the Earl lived in Belgrave Square. All these are little bits of the horse.

Quoted on November 2, 2022

Perhaps the method of rushing at once "in medias res" is, of all the ways of beginning a story, or a separate branch of a story, the least objectionable. The reader is made to think that the gold lies so near the surface that he will be required to take very little trouble in digging for it. And the writer is enabled,—at any rate for a time, and till his neck has become, as it were, warm to the collar,—to throw off from him the difficulties and dangers, the tedium and prolixity, of description. This rushing "in medias res" has doubtless the charm of ease. "Certainly, when I threw her from the garret window to the stony pavement below, I did not anticipate that she would fall so far without injury to life or limb." When a story has been begun after this fashion, without any prelude, without description of the garret or of the pavement, or of the lady thrown, or of the speaker, a great amount of trouble seems to have been saved. The mind of the reader fills up the blanks,—if erroneously, still satisfactorily. He knows, at least, that the heroine has encountered a terrible danger, and has escaped from it with almost incredible good fortune; that the demon of the piece is a bold demon, not ashamed to speak of his own iniquity, and that the heroine and the demon are so far united that they have been in a garret together. But there is the drawback on the system,—that it is almost impossible to avoid the necessity of doing, sooner or later, that which would naturally be done at first. It answers, perhaps, for half-a-dozen chapters;—and to carry the reader pleasantly for half-a-dozen chapters is a great matter!—but after that a certain nebulous darkness gradually seems to envelope the characters and the incidents. "Is all this going on in the country, or is it in town,—or perhaps in the Colonies? How old was she? Was she tall? Is she fair? Is she heroine-like in her form and gait? And, after all, how high was the garret window?" I have always found that the details would insist on being told at last, and that by rushing "in medias res" I was simply presenting the cart before the horse. But as readers like the cart the best, I will do it once again,—trying it only for a branch of my story,—and will endeavour to let as little as possible of the horse be seen afterwards.

Quoted on November 2, 2022

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