[In chapter 27, “‘On my honour, I do not understand it ’” Trollope enables us to undetstand the Victorian English distinction between wealth and rank or social status as Lady Alexandrina de Courcy, a beautiful woman who has been on the marriage market for more than a decade, “endeavoured to realize to herself all the advantages and disadvantages of her own position”. In the course of her deliberations, she considers the relative importance in a potential husband of his being “a man of fashion,” a man of wealth, and a man of nobility — that is, a man with a title, such as she possesses. Emphasis added. — George P. Landow]
She had asked herself many times whether her present life was so happy as to make her think that a permanent continuance in it would suffice for her desires, and she had always replied to herself that she would fain change to some other life if it were possible. She had also questioned herself as to her rank, of which she was quite sufficiently proud, and had told herself that she could not degrade herself in the world without a heavy pang. But she had at last taught herself to believe that she had more to gain by becoming the wife of such a man as Crosbie than by remaining as an unmarried daughter of her father's house. There was much in her sister Amelia's position which she did not envy, but there was less to envy in that of her sister Rosina. The Gazebee house in St. John's Wood Road was not so magnificent as Courcy Castle; but then it was less dull, less embittered by torment, and was moreover her sister's own.
"Very many do marry commoners," she had said to Margaretta.
"Oh, yes, of course. It makes a difference, you know, when a man has a fortune."
Of course it did make a difference. Crosbie had no fortune, was not even so rich as Mr. Gazebee, could keep no carriage, and would have no country house. But then he was a man of fashion, was more thought of in the world than Mr. Gazebee, might probably rise in his own profession,—and was at any rate thoroughly presentable. She would have preferred a gentleman with £5,000 a year; but then as no gentleman with £5,000 a year came that way, would she not be happier with Mr. Crosbie than she would be with no husband at all? She was not very much in love with Mr. Crosbie, but she thought that she could live with him comfortably, and that on the whole it would be a good thing to be married.
Trollope, Anthony. The Small House at Allington. Project Gutenberg E-text prepared by Andrew Turek and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D., and an anonymous Project Gutenberg volunteer.
Last modified 23 September 2013