November 07, 2002
More Trollope

Having just passed the half-way point of The Way We Live Now, I thought I'd quote a couple of nice passages from chapter 50 (of 100). The subject is the loathsome baronet Sir Felix Carbury, who has convinced an heiress to elope with him, allowed her to steal the passage money from her father, then gambled it all away. He is now heading for his mother's house in Welbeck Street:

There could hardly have been a more miserable wretch than Sir Felix wandering about the streets of London that night. Though he was nearly drunk, he was not drunk enough to forget the condition of his affairs. There is an intoxication that makes merry in the midst of affliction -- and there is an intoxication that banishes affliction by producing oblivion. But again there is an intoxication which is conscious of itself though it makes the feet unsteady, and the voice thick, and the brain foolish; and which brings neither mirth nor oblivion. Sir Felix trying to make his way to Welbeck Street and losing it at every turn, feeling himself to be an object of ridicule to every wanderer, and of dangerous suspicion to every policeman, got no good at all out of his intoxication.

A bit later:

Most of my readers will not probably know how a man looks when he comes home drunk at six in the morning, but they who have seen the thing will acknowledge that a sorrier sight cannot meet a mother's eye than that of a son in such a condition.

I'd never read any Trollope before, and am now kicking myself for that shameful omission.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at November 07, 2002 08:09 PM

This makes endless more sense to any American who has spent some time in London -- land of the street guide -- and much less to those who have not.

Trollope is great, in my very limited experience of dipping. There is so much, and I've read so comparatively little.

I did have confusing conversations, as a born New Yorker, about "blocks" of streets, with British friends, before I spent a month in, alas, only England, a few years ago.

Posted by: Gary Farber on November 8, 2002 09:25 PM