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KEV67

Framley Parsonage

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This is the 4th book in the Barsetshire series by Anthony Trollope. Trollope was interested in the clergy more than most Victorian writers. A lot of the Barsetshire series revolves around characters who are paid too much or too little for their clerical/pastoral duties. Marc Roberts, who is the main protagonist in this book, is different in that he is difficult to admire. He is weak. No doubt he will win out in the end, because it is a Trollope book

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I am finding this a difficult book to read. I am getting so anxious for Marc Roberts, although he is such a weakling. I find the concept a bit difficult to believe. If you have a man like Mr Sowerby taking huge loans and making his friends and acquaintances liable for them, word would soon get around. There was a character in another Victorian book I read recently who was only reputed to have done this, and he was held in complete contempt. It is also strange that no one is giving him any better advice, not even the bank manager.

 

Another thing that puzzled me was Griselda Grantly. I seem to remember from a previous book that there were two Grantly girls, who were both quite lively and who took an interest in the unmarried clergy. Not much was written about them, but now Griselda is dull and uncommunicative, and the other girl has died. When did that happen? That must have ripped the heart out of the family, but it was just mentioned as background.

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I read a book several months ago called Victorian Clergy. I read it mainly because I was intrigued to find out what clergymen actually did, in addition to writing and preaching sermons, weddings and funerals. I wondered how much they got involved in poor relief, education, local authority type stuff. I wondered how much the disparities in pay were true. Some clergymen received quite a lot of pay. Farm labourers, according to Thomas Hardy, were paid about 10 shillings a week. Even curates generally earned over £100 a year. That is actually more than the majority of the population got, but the clergy was a middle class profession. I wondered whether the divergence of pay and the lack of fixed duties and responsibilities was bringing the clergy into dispute. I also wondered why they were expected to be university graduates, and what they studied there, and how that helped them in their profession.

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I am struggling to read this. It reminds me of Great Expectations in that the lead character is a fundamentally good man who goes wrong. Well, at least Marc Robarts is not a bad man. Nevertheless, Pip won my sympathy, and I was always on his side, even when his behaviour was painful to read. Pip had a lot of psychological issues from his childhood. Marc Robarts just seems venal and weak. You know a day of reckoning is coming, and it is painful to anticipate.

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I find it very odd that politicians in the Houses of Parliament had so much power over appointments in the church. Mind you, I also find it odd that the clergy was considered so important.

 

Back in the early nineteenth century the clergy was one of very few gentlemanly professions. There was the clergy, the law (although whether that included solicitors or only barristers, I am not sure), medicine (although there were surgeons, physicians and apothecaries and I am not sure whether they were all fit professions for a gentleman). Then there was the army and navy, but you had to enlist young for the navy. There must have been other jobs. Could you be a merchant, or is that trade? Could you work in banking and finance?

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Spoilers so don't read on if you have not already read it.

 

It's odd, I feel such relief now Marc Robarts has confessed everything to his wife. I don't know how this story arc will end. I wonder whether he will give his curate a pay rise.

 

So Dr Thorne is going to marry Miss Dunstable. He is 55 and she is 42, and neither have been married before. I wonder how they will take to married life.

 

The other curate, the one who does not like to receive help although he is poor. I think I read he gets £125 a year. It is not a lot. I think the average for a vicar was about £300, maybe a bit more. I think the a average for a curate was about half that, but it could take many years before a curate was promoted to vicar (beneficed I think the term is). Nevertheless, most working class people earned by a lot less than £125 a year. I am often perplexed by Victorian economics.

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