In the course of last century, Anthony Trollope's fictional county of Barset has become one of English literature's most 'real', most celebrated landscapes. Framley Parsonage—the fourth of his engrossing Barsetshire novels—concerns itself with the drastic misjudgements of an amiable but naive and overly ambitious young clergyman. Through its shrewd and excellent social comedy and subtle, sometimes wicked, grasp of political and ecclesiastical manoeuvering, Trollope brings a whole local universe to convincing and triumphant life.
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About the Author
Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was born in London to a bankrupt barrister father and a mother who, as a well-known writer, supported the family. Trollope enjoyed considerable acclaim both as a novelist and as a senior civil servant in the Post Office. He published more than forty novels and many short stories that are regarded by some as among the greatest of nineteenth-century fiction.
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By Anthony Trollope
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
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"Omnes Omnia Bona Dicere"
When young Mark Robarts was leaving college, his father might well declare that all men began to say all good things to him, and to extol his fortune in that he had a son blessed with so excellent a disposition.
This father was a physician living at Exeter. He was a gentleman possessed of no private means, but enjoying a lucrative practice, which had enabled him to maintain and educate a family with all the advantages which money can give in this country. Mark was his eldest son and second child; and the first page or two of this narrative must be consumed in giving a catalogue of the good things which chance and conduct together had heaped upon this young man's head.
His first step forward in life had arisen from his having been sent, while still very young, as a private pupil to the house of a clergyman, who was an old friend and intimate friend of his father's. This clergyman had one other, and only one other, pupil — the young Lord Lufton; and between the two boys, there had sprung up a close alliance.
While they were both so placed, Lady Lufton had visited her son, and then invited young Robarts to pass his next holidays at Framley Court. This visit was made; and it ended in Mark going back to Exeter with a letter full of praise from the widowed peeress. She had been delighted, she said, in having such a companion for her son, and expressed a hope that the boys might remain together during the course of their education. Dr. Robarts was a man who thought much of the breath of peers and peeresses, and was by no means inclined to throw away any advantage which might arise to his child from such a friendship. When, therefore, the young lord was sent to Harrow, Mark Robarts went there also.
That the lord and his friend often quarrelled, and occasionally fought, — the fact even that for one period of three months they never spoke to each other — by no means interfered with the doctor's hopes. Mark again and again stayed a fortnight at Framley Court, and Lady Lufton always wrote about him in the highest terms.
And then the lads went together to Oxford, and here Mark's good fortune followed him, consisting rather in the highly respectable manner in which he lived, than in any wonderful career of collegiate success. His family was proud of him, and the doctor was always ready to talk of him to his patients; not because he was a prizeman, and had gotten medals and scholarships, but on account of the excellence of his general conduct. He lived with the best set — he incurred no debts — he was fond of society, but able to avoid low society — liked his glass of wine, but was never known to be drunk; and, above all things, was one of the most popular men in the university.
Then came the question of a profession for this young Hyperion, and on this subject, Dr. Robarts was invited himself to go over to Framley Court to discuss the matter with Lady Lufton. Dr. Robarts returned with a very strong conception that the Church was the profession best suited to his son.
Lady Lufton had not sent for Dr. Robarts all the way from Exeter for nothing. The living of Framley was in the gift of the Lufton family, and the next presentation would be in Lady Lufton's hands, if it should fall vacant before the young lord was twenty-five years of age, and in the young lord's hands if it should fall afterwards. But the mother and the heir consented to give a joint promise to Dr. Robarts. Now, as the present incumbent was over seventy, and as the living was worth £900 a year, there could be no doubt as to the eligibility of the clerical profession.
And I must further say, that the dowager and the doctor were justified in their choice by the life and principles of the young man — as far as any father can be justified in choosing such a profession for his son, and as far as any lay impropriator can be justified in making such a promise. Had Lady Lufton had a second son, that second son would probably have had the living, and no one would have thought it wrong; — certainly not if that second son had been such a one as Mark Robarts.
Lady Lufton herself was a woman who thought much on religious matters, and would by no means have been disposed to place any one in a living, merely because such a one had been her son's friend. Her tendencies were High Church, and she was enabled to perceive that those of young Mark Robarts ran in the same direction. She was very desirous that her son should make an associate of his clergyman, and by this step she would insure, at any rate, that. She was anxious that the parish vicar should be one with whom she could herself fully co-operate, and was perhaps unconsciously wishful that he might in some measure be subject to her influence. Should she appoint an elder man, this might probably not be the case to the same extent; and should her son have the gift, it might probably not be the case at all. And therefore it was resolved that the living should be given to young Robarts.
He took his degree — not with any brilliancy, but quite in the manner that his father desired; he then travelled for eight or ten months with Lord Lufton and a college don, and almost immediately after his return home was ordained.
The living of Framley is in the diocese of Barchester; and, seeing what were Mark's hopes with reference to that diocese, it was by no means difficult to get him a curacy within it. But this curacy he was not allowed long to fill. He had not been in it above a twelvemonth, when poor old Dr. Stopford, the then vicar of Framley, was gathered to his fathers, and the full fruition of his rich hopes fell upon his shoulders.
But even yet more must be told of his good fortune before we can come to the actual incidents of our story. Lady Lufton, who, as I have said, thought much of clerical matters, did not carry her High Church principles so far as to advocate celibacy for the clergy. On the contrary, she had an idea that a man could not be a good parish parson without a wife. So, having given to her favourite a position in the world, and an income sufficient for a gentleman's wants, she set herself to work to find him a partner in those blessings.
And here also, as in other matters, he fell in with the views of his patroness — not, however, that they were declared to him in that marked manner in which the affair of the living had been broached. Lady Lufton was much too highly gifted with woman's craft for that. She never told the young vicar that Miss Monsell accompanied her ladyship's married daughter to Framley Court expressly that he, Mark, might fall in love with her; but such was in truth the case.
Lady Lufton had but two children. The eldest, a daughter, had been married some four or five years to Sir George Meredith, and this Miss Monsell was a dear friend of hers. And now looms before me the novelist's great difficulty. Miss Monsell, — or, rather, Mrs. Mark Robarts, — must be described. As Miss Monsell, our tale will have to take no prolonged note of her. And yet we will call her Fanny Monsell, when we declare that she was one of the pleasantest companions that could be brought near to a man, as the future partner of his home, and owner of his heart. And if high principles without asperity, female gentleness without weakness, a love of laughter without malice, and a true loving heart, can qualify a woman to be a parson's wife, then was Fanny Monsell qualified to fill that station.
In person she was somewhat larger than common. Her face would have been beautiful but that her mouth was large. Her hair, which was copious, was of a bright brown; her eyes also were brown, and, being so, were the distinctive feature of her face, for brown eyes are not common. They were liquid, large, and full either of tenderness or of mirth. Mark Robarts still had his accustomed luck, when such a girl as this was brought to Framley for his wooing.
And he did woo her — and won her. For Mark himself was a handsome fellow. At this time the vicar was about twenty-five years of age, and the future Mrs. Robarts was two or three years younger. Nor did she come quite empty-handed to the vicarage. It cannot be said that Fanny Monsell was an heiress, but she had been left with a provision of some few thousand pounds. This was so settled, that the interest of his wife's money paid the heavy insurance on his life which young Robarts effected, and there was left to him, over and above, sufficient to furnish his parsonage in the very best style of clerical comfort, — and to start him on the road of life rejoicing.
So much did Lady Lufton do for her protégé, and it may well be imagined that the Devonshire physician, sitting meditative over his parlour fire, looking back, as men will look back on the upshot of their life, was well contented with that upshot, as regarded his eldest offshoot, the Rev. Mark Robarts, the vicar of Framley.
But little has as yet been said, personally, as to our hero himself, and perhaps it may not be necessary to say much. Let us hope that by degrees he may come forth upon the canvas, showing to the beholder the nature of the man inwardly and outwardly. Here it may suffice to say that he was no born heaven's cherub, neither was he a born fallen devil's spirit. Such as his training made him, such he was. He had large capabilities for good — and aptitudes also for evil, quite enough: quite enough to make it needful that he should repel temptation as temptation only can be repelled. Much had been done to spoil him, but in the ordinary acceptation of the word he was not spoiled. He had too much tact, too much common sense, to believe himself to be the paragon which his mother thought him. Self-conceit was not, perhaps, his greatest danger. Had he possessed more of it, he might have been a less agreeable man, but his course before him might on that account have been the safer.
In person he was manly, tall, and fair-haired, with a square forehead, denoting intelligence rather than thought, with clear white hands, filbert nails, and a power of dressing himself in such a manner that no one should ever observe of him that his clothes were either good or bad, shabby or smart.
Such was Mark Robarts when at the age of twenty-five, or a little more, he married Fanny Monsell. The marriage was celebrated in his own church, for Miss Monsell had no home of her own, and had been staying for the last three months at Framley Court. She was given away by Sir George Meredith, and Lady Lufton herself saw that the wedding was what it should be, with almost as much care as she had bestowed on that of her own daughter. The deed of marrying, the absolute tying of the knot, was performed by the Very Reverend the Dean of Barchester, an esteemed friend of Lady Lufton's. And Mrs. Arabin, the dean's wife, was of the party, though the distance from Barchester to Framley is long, and the roads deep, and no railway lends its assistance. And Lord Lufton was there of course; and people protested that he would surely fall in love with one of the four beautiful bridesmaids, of whom Blanche Robarts, the vicar's second sister, was by common acknowledgment by far the most beautiful.
And there was there another and a younger sister of Mark's — who did not officiate at the ceremony, though she was present — and of whom no prediction was made, seeing that she was then only sixteen, but of whom mention is made here, as it will come to pass that my readers will know her hereafter. Her name was Lucy Robarts.
And then the vicar and his wife went off on their wedding tour, the old curate taking care of the Framley souls the while.
And in due time they returned; and after a further interval, in due course, a child was born to them; and then another; and after that came the period at which we will begin our story. But before doing so, may I not assert that all men were right in saying all manner of good things to the Devonshire physician, and in praising his luck in having such a son?
"You were up at the house to-day, I suppose?" said Mark to his wife, as he sat stretching himself in an easy-chair in the drawing-room, before the fire, previously to his dressing for dinner. It was a November evening, and he had been out all day, and on such occasions the aptitude for delay in dressing is very powerful. A strong-minded man goes direct from the hall-door to his chamber without encountering the temptation of the drawing-room fire.
"No; but Lady Lufton was down here."
"Full of arguments in favour of Sarah Thompson?"
"Exactly so, Mark."
"And what did you say about Sarah Thompson?"
"Very little as coming from myself; but I did hint that you thought, or that I thought that you thought, that one of the regular trained schoolmistresses would be better."
"But her ladyship did not agree?"
"Well, I won't exactly say that; — though I think that perhaps she did not."
"I am sure she did not. When she has a point to carry, she is very fond of carrying it."
"But then, Mark, her points are generally so good."
"But, you see, in this affair of the school she is thinking more of her protégée than she does of the children."
"Tell her that, and I am sure she will give way."
And then again they were both silent. And the vicar having thoroughly warmed himself, as far as this might be done by facing the fire, turned round and began the operation à tergo.
"Come, Mark, it is twenty minutes past six. Will you go and dress?"
"I'll tell you what, Fanny: she must have her way about Sarah Thompson. You can see her to-morrow and tell her so."
"I am sure, Mark, I would not give way, if I thought it wrong. Nor would she expect it."
"If I persist this time, I shall certainly have to yield the next; and then the next may probably be more important."
"But if it's wrong, Mark?"
"I didn't say it was wrong. Besides, if it is wrong, wrong in some infinitesimal degree, one must put up with it. Sarah Thompson is very respectable; the only question is whether she can teach."
The young wife, though she did not say so, had some idea that her husband was in error. It is true that one must put up with wrong, with a great deal of wrong. But no one need put up with wrong that he can remedy. Why should he, the vicar, consent to receive an incompetent teacher for the parish children, when he was able to procure one that was competent? In such a case, — so thought Mrs. Robarts to herself, — she would have fought the matter out with Lady Lufton.
On the next morning, however, she did as she was bid, and signified to the dowager that all objection to Sarah Thompson would be withdrawn.
"Ah! I was sure he would agree with me," said her ladyship, "when he learned what sort of person she is. I know I had only to explain;" — and then she plumed her feathers, and was very gracious; for, to tell the truth, Lady Lufton did not like to be opposed in things which concerned the parish nearly.
"And, Fanny," said Lady Lufton, in her kindest manner, "you are not going anywhere on Saturday, are you?"
"No, I think not."
"Then you must come to us. Justinia is to be here, you know" — Lady Meredith was named Justinia — "and you and Mr. Robarts had better stay with us till Monday. He can have the little book-room all to himself on Sunday. The Merediths go on Monday; and Justinia won't be happy if you are not with her."
It would be unjust to say that Lady Lufton had determined not to invite the Robartses if she were not allowed to have her own way about Sarah Thompson. But such would have been the result. As it was, however, she was all kindness; and when Mrs. Robarts made some little excuse, saying that she was afraid she must return home in the evening, because of the children, Lady Lufton declared that there was room enough at Framley Court for baby and nurse, and so settled the matter in her own way, with a couple of nods and three taps of her umbrella.
This was on a Tuesday morning, and on the same evening, before dinner, the vicar again seated himself in the same chair before the drawing-room fire, as soon as he had seen his horse led into the stable.
"Mark," said his wife, "the Merediths are to be at Framley on Saturday and Sunday; and I have promised that we will go up and stay over till Monday."
"You don't mean it! Goodness gracious, how provoking!"
Excerpted from Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope. Copyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Readers have many choices as to which is the best of Anthony Trollope's nevels. The Pallisers, as a group are all favorites, and most readers like Phineas Finn the best even though he makes sense only if you read the preceding novels in the series. For stand-alone novels, modern taste seems to prefer The Way We Live Now, and I admire it very much. Framley Parsonage is within the group of novels about the imaginary county of Barsetshire. This is a deceptive story. It appears to be the story of a country clergyman who stupidly helps out a friend by guaranteeing a loan. Very soon the story becomes the hopeless love story of a young woman who knows that she can't marry the local lord. Then you are involved with the London antics of a marble-hearted beauty. Then, switch, a rich spinster asks a poor doctor to mattu her for the comforts she can afford to give him. And switch again, the Lord wants to marry the maid, and she refuses. And then, the proud mother of the Lord asks the maid to kindly marry her son. This deceptively calm story has all the convolutions of a modern soap opera. It entirely anticipates the technique of soaps, and was in fact, a novel that was published in installements of three chapters each over a hundred thirty years ago. Quite aside from the extrordinary technique of this novel, is the charm of the characters. Not one is an unreleaved villain, and not one is without the selfishness that most humans have mixed with their virtues. Every character here has dimensions that a modern novelist can envy. This under-rated book deservives new recognition as among the best of Trollope. The print in the paperback edition is a trial of squinting and adjusting the lights, so prefer one with larger type faces.
2007, Blackstone Audiobooks, Read by Simon VanceFramley Parsonage is the best yet of Trollope¿s Barsetshire series! At the center of this fourth novel is Reverend Mark Robarts, who, as a young man, was awarded the comfortable Framley living by his friend¿s mother, Lady Lufton. Much to his benefactor¿s dismay, Mark naively becomes involved in the suspect dealings of notorious gambler, Nathaniel Sowerby; and the results of his actions are near financial ruin. Politics, a constant theme in Trollope¿s work, also feature largely in Framley Parsonage. Through political maneuvering and rivalry, seats are gained and lost, alliances forged and betrayed, governments formed and dissolved. Social class distinctions, another Trollope staple, are set aflutter when Lord Lufton falls for Lucy Robarts, Mark¿s younger sister. And Doctor Thorne has a delightful surprise! Other known and loved Barchester characters also appear: Archdeacon and Mrs. Grantley, Miss Dunstable, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gresham, and the ever-disagreeable Mrs. Proudie.Trollope¿s much loved trademark humour continues to entertain throughout Framley Parsonage. At a ¿wild¿ dance held by Mrs. Harold Smith of Barchester, young Griselda Grantley finds herself the object of attention of both Lords Lufton and Dumbello. The latter takes not kindly to being outdone by his rival, and hilarity ensues:¿Lord Dumbello, in the meantime, stood by observant, thinking to himself that Lord Lufton was a glib-tongued, empty-headed ass, and reflecting that if his rival were to break the tendons in his leg in one of those rapid evolutions, or suddenly come by any other dreadful misfortunes, such as the loss of all his property, absolute blindness, or chronic lumbago, it would only serve him right.¿ (7/16)Highly recommended! As for this Blackstone Audiobook, I can¿t say enough about the reading genius that is Simon Vance. His recordings of Trollope¿s Barsetshire novels have provided hours of delightful entertainment.
I was going to say that this novel, the fourth in Trollope's Barsetshire sequence, is one of my favorites in the series. But The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire is also very good and Barchester Towers is one of my all-time favorites. So in the top half? The main plot is sometimes annoying - clergyman Mark Robarts finds himself in debt and somehow keeps making it worse. However, the relationship between Lord Lufton and Mark's sister, Lucy Robarts, is wonderfully characterized. Mark starts out with everything one needs in life: a wife he loves, children, a secure and pleasant living as the vicar at Framley and the benevolent patronage of Lady Lufton. Of course, he can only go down from there. Mixing with a loose set leads him to debt. At times, his judgment is so bad, you just want to shake him, but the truth is that debt is still common today. Trollope sometimes seems to be writing the same romance subplot - class conflicted love. In this series, the men tend to be titled or well-off and fall in love with women from a lower social status. The formula changed a bit in the Palliser novels, where the women had the money/position and their loves were poor upstarts. Although Trollope repeats the theme here in his love side-story, I enjoyed the fact that he developed the relationship from its start to the inevitable happy conclusion, a departure from his usual depictions. A rather large generalization from both of his series, but it seems that the author has two kinds of romantic relationships - childhood sweethearts (so no need to describe how they fell in love, just assumed they grew up and in love) or a couple meetings at social events, then the pair is in love. He's more focused on the obstacles to marriage. In a couple instances, the author will simply state that the love is a fait accompli and readers only learn briefly about first meetings and impressions. Unfortunately, this sometimes lessens reader involvement in the relationship. However, in this novel, Trollope writes about Lucy coming to live with her brother, meeting the young lord of the estate (he's not too impressed at first), the gradual development of their friendship and the fits and starts to love. One of my favorite passages -"He had by no means made up his mind that he loved Lucy Robarts; nor had he made up his mind that, loving her, he would, or that, loving her, he would not, make her his wife. He had never used his mind in the matter in any way, either for good or evil. He had learned to like her and to think that she was very pretty. He had found out that it was very pleasant to talk to her; whereas, talking to Griselda Grantly, and, indeed, to some other young ladies of his acquaintance, was often hard work. The half-hours which he had spent with Lucy had always been satisfactory to him. He had found himself to be more bright with her than with other people, and more apt to discuss subjects worth discussing; and thus it had come about that he thoroughly liked Lucy Robarts."They meet resistance from his formidable mother, Lady Lufton. Although she's the main obstacle to marriage and happiness, Trollope doesn't make her one dimensional. She's generous, caring, loves her children and is always good-intentioned though she sometimes finds it hard to overcome her prejudices. She certainly tries to be just to her son and Lucy and imagines that she really has both of their welfare in mind. However, her main fault - and often her most prominent characteristic - is the need to, well, control everything (as is made clear in the wonderful last line of the novel).Lord Lufton and Lucy also have their faults, Lucy being too irreverent and perverse for the model Victorian wife, as well as not beautiful enough for Lady Lufton's ideal daughter in law. Lord Lufton can't be the ideal hero, either - he considers marrying another woman while Lucy is suffering at home. But Trollope novels always have the happy ending, so it's even more shocking to read somet
Framley Parsonage, the penultimate book in the Barsetshire Chronicles, covers familiar territory and brings back a number of characters from earlier novels: Dr. Thorne, his niece Mary (now Mary Gresham), Miss Dunstable (whom I was particularly glad to meet again), the Grantleys and the Arabins, for starters. Of course, new characters also appear, primarily the Ludlows and the Robartses, and the setting shifts between rural towns and London.While I enjoyed this novel, I need a Trollope break before going on to the final installment. I feel a bit overloaded with snobbish mothers who come between their sons and the worthy but common young women they love, male golddiggers trolling for wives, and cads who bring their friends to financial ruin.