The Duke’s Children Chapters 41-45

The second half of the book starts with the largest single restoration of a cut so far: a full page and a half at the start of chapter forty-one is restored, reminding readers of the Duke’s painful apology to Mrs Finn. It goes on to describe how she finally told her husband, who responded in typical hot-headed Phineas fashion but whose initial outrage she calmed down, reminding him that the demands of politics required him to remain the closest of allies with the Duke. She was ever the more strategic thinker of that couple.

All this serves as a preface to an accidental meeting of the Finns with the Duke of Omnium and Lady Mary in the Austrian resort of Ischl. Here we see another full page cut restored with details of the discussion of politics by the Duke and Phineas and Mrs Finn (in which she takes an active part) after dinner together at the hotel. This lays important groundwork for their subsequent party political moves which serve as a backdrop to the latter part of the book.

There follow a number of small restorations in the dialogue between the Duke and Mrs Finn about Lady Mary’s illness – one cut shows the Duke is aware that it is largely psychosomatic, brought on by her unhappiness at being separated from Tregear. Another restoration has the Duke refer to the Biblical example of Lazarus and the rich man and Trollope specifically mentions that this is an odd illustration for him to use and that he in no way implied that he or his daughter were the equivalent of the rich man in that example. Is this a case of Trollope saying one thing and meaning another.  Is he trying to demonstrate that the Duke is blind to certain aspects of his character – that he is unconsciously averse to Tregear for purely snobbish reasons? The restoration begs this question and thereby introduces a further interesting twist in the exploration of the characters involved.

Mrs Fin also points out to the Duke in a third restoration that “if [Lady Mary} be  of a nature so little prone to change…either by absence or by her submission to you” then in the end he will have to concede. This strengthens the argument Mrs Finn puts to him that he should consider this possibility seriously.

We learn too that the Duke “almost felt that he should despise his girl if she fell into the Popplecourt trap.” Coupled with Mrs Finn’s earlier reference to Mary’s constancy, this shows the beginnings of the Duke’s growing respect and almost admiration for his daughter’s strength of purpose that will eventually lead to his change of heart, though at this point he still wishes to avoid “some outburst of womanly pity [in which] he would feel himself disposed to send for the objectionable lover.”

And in a final restoration in the conversation when the Duke acknowledges now that Mrs Finn did what she thought best in the events that led to his anger at her (my italics),  Mrs Finn responds:”‘I did what was best.’ There was a self-assurance about this which startled him…” Few people would have the courage to so directly put him down by contradicting his view of a matter so close to his heart.  It shows how highly Trollope regards Mrs Finn that he has her do this and has the Duke accept the rebuke without demur.

In chapter forty-two, we see Mabel is still in a muddle over what she thinks about Silverbridge and her prospects with him in a cut which makes clear that “rather she had bouyed herself with hopes in that direction in opposition to her thoughts.” Her actions were often contrary to her best matrimonial and financial interests so that when she had put him off asking her to marry him “she hardly knew why”. In fact Trollope is making it clear, and the restorations make it even more so, that she is sub-consciously sabotaging her own efforts to get him to ask her to marry him.

Silverbridge is noticeably embarrassed that his woo-ing of Isabel Boncassen had become the subject of public gossip and almost ridicule even by people who were practically strangers to hims such as the man in knickerbockers from his previous visit to Killancodlem who had paid court to Mabel (unsuccessfully) and whom he now cut dead, in a restored cut, when teased by him that it would be better “Only if Miss Boncassen were here.” And in another cut “He certainly did not like having Miss Boncassen thrown at his head by everybody that spoke to him.”

In a decisive moment now restored we learn that when Silverbridge in the acrimonious conversation with Mabel in which she again tells him the ring he had given to her should go to his future wife and he returns it to his pocket, “He certainly would not tell her now that she might take it in that capacity.” So Trollope, in the full version, wishes to remove all possible doubt at this point as to who Silverbridge will eventually marry and to rule Mabel out of consideration whereas there remains more doubt in the shorter version – though there is, I think, very little “wriggle room” left in even that version by this point.

Neither Major Tifto nor Silverbridge come out well from chapter forty-three. As the restorations make even more clear, both are in thrall to the machinations of Captain Green who decides both that it would be “expedient that His Lordship should yet risk some further sum of money on his favourite horse” and that in ensuring he does so, Major Tifto, on the night before the St Leger, “had obeyed Captain Green’s behest at any rate in this, – that he himself was completely sober.”

A restored cut also shows that Silverbridge “was quite determined to be open with the Major after that event.” And rehearsed the words by which he would separate himself from Tifto going forward, including an obvious intention to compensate Tifto financially for all the hard work he had put in to preparing the horse for the race which is not mentioned elsewhere. As a result of this cut, the reader of the shorter version is unaware of Silverbridge’s intended generosity which renders the subsequent events, motivated as much by Tifto’s financial concerns – the debts to Green – as by the sleights to his social standing he endured due to Silverbridge’s insensitive treatment of him, all the more ironic.

Chapter forty-four makes melancholy reading and the restorations add to this feeling. We see Major Tifto rue-ing the fact that “he would now, too probably, be estranged forever” from Silverbridge. And we also learn that Silverbridge after the initial meeting with Tifto, “had not spoken a word [to him]…but he would have spoken with kindness had Tifto come in his way.”

In the longest single restoration of a cut, we learn that Silverbridge ate a hearty supper before writing to Mr Moreton, “but…felt almost ashamed of himself for doing so, and manfully resolved that he would not allow himself a single cigar.” This almost childlike resolution shows that Silverbridge still has a lot of growing up to do if such a small sacrifice is felt by him to be in any way a sort of atonement for his monumental errors of judgment over the preceding days.

In my Oxford World’s Classics edition of the shorter text one of the excellent and most comprehensive notes appended to the text of the novel speculates that the Gilbert Villiers mentioned in this chapter might be the un-named gentleman from whom Silverbridge accepted a bet of £2,400 in the previous chapter. This note would be redundant in the full version as this is made clear in a restoration in the earlier chapter which explains that Tifto is surprised when Silverbridge does not recognise Villiers who is well-known, one might say even notorious in racing circles.

When he hears of his son’s misfortune, at the beginning of chapter forty-five, the Duke’s first thought, conveyed in a brief restoration, is that “he did not wish that his son should be subject to pity” as the victim of a swindle. This speaks of the Duke’s intense pride at his own and his family’s self-sufficiency. A slightly longer cut, now restored, reveals that Mr Moreton understood the Duke’s mind “better than the son did.” This is perhaps to be expected – as his trusted agent of long-standing he is likely to have more insight than the relatively immature Silverbridge but it is a sad reflection on the father and son’s relationship.

However, Silverbridge’s finer qualities are shown in a restoration of almost a paragraph’s length in which he retains his dignity and will take no part in the hounding of Tifto which others seem to take almost delight in carrying out.  Silverbridge at least has no wish to see his former friend brought down low – or put in his place as other gentlemen may see it. He even gives Tifto the benefit of the doubt over whether or not he nobbled the horse. Such generosity of spirit bodes well for his future.

We also see how Silverbridge is physically reduced by his father’s words as the Duke becomes inadvertently more severe than he intended to be when speaking with him as he “felt that propriety demanded”. The son is so much in awe of his father and the father would not hurt his son intentionally but cannot help the tone creeping into his voice which cows the younger man. So much is conveyed about both men in such a brief passage now restored.

The shorter version of the chapter ends at the conclusion of the interview between father and son. The longer version runs on for half a page or more with details of the political “chaffing” that went on between Silverbridge and Phineas Finn (in which, naturally the latter came off much the better being skilled in debates from his experience in the House of Commons). This extra few paragraphs gives a clear hint that Silverbridge will change sides later and return to the Liberal fold.





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