Throughout unfolding legal matters which bleed into his personal relationships, Mr. Harding endeavors to separate such "public" affairs from his private life. He extends a tea-party invitation to Mr. Bold, hoping not to spoil either the friendship between them or the romance between Bold and his daughter. Along with "kindness," Mr. Harding's desire to maintain coherence and continuity within everyday life stems from his introverted nature, his "sheer love of quiet — a horror of being made the subject of public talk" (70). When the archdeacon comes to discuss matters regarding John Bold's "offenses" and his unsuitability as a future son-in-law, Harding does everything in his power to avoid talking or thinking about a subject which could potentially tear apart a social relation which has thus far been peaceful.

The warden still looked mutely in his face, making the slightest possible passes with an imaginary fiddle bow, and stopping, as he did so, sundry imaginary strings with the constant consolation in conversational troubles. While these vexed him sorely, the passes would be short and slow, and the upper hand would not be seen to work; nay the strings on which it operated would sometimes lie concealed in the musician's pocket, and the instrument on which he played would be beneath his chair; but as his spirit warmed to the subject÷as his trusting heart, looking to the bottom of that which vexed him, would see its clear way out, — he would rise to a higher melody, sweep the unseen strings with a bolder hand, and swiftly fingering the cords from his neck, down along his waistcoat, and up again to his very ear, create an ecstatic strain of perfect music, audible to himself and to St. Cecilia, and not without effect. [60]

Questions

1. How do Mr. Harding and the narrator rely on music to serve their own purposes? (What does music mean to Harding, and how do allusions to music become a narrative tool for Trollope and/or the narrative voice?)

2. How does Harding's cello music transcend the bounds of "public" and "private," of Harding's "inner psyche" and his image as a prominent figure of Barchester?

3. Compare the passage above to Harding's performance as part of the quartet at his tea party, in terms of tone, narrative technique, and the relation between cello music and fantasy/realism in Trollope's text.


Victorian Web Overview Anthony Trollope Leading Questions

Last modified: 21 April 2003