First published in 1884, An Old Man’s Love was the last novel completed by the Spiked Punch’s pal Anthony Trollope, published after his death (there’s one more unfinished novel, too – oh, and check out all the Trollope Cocktail Talks to learn more, in an overall way, while having oodles of reading fun), and also one of the few novels by him that I’d yet to read, until recently! It’s a short novel, and almost could have slipped into novella size, though I’d hate to miss all but a few of his last words. I wouldn’t put it into the super-awesome tier of Trollope, as it’s fairly one-path’d as opposed to his thicker, more layered pieces. But it’s a good study of just what the title would have you believe: an older gentleman falls for his younger ward and nearly marries her – but then a past love of her’s shows up, and stuff ensues, as you’d expect. There are a few other pertinent characters, including the old man’s (Mr. Whittlestaff, that is), housekeeper, with whom he has some funny exchanges, and her drunken reprobate of an estranged husband. The latter is featured in the below quote, which itself also features one of my favorite phrases, “drunk as a lord.” This phrase usage is really why the below makes it to Cocktail Talk status. Drunk as a lord! I’ve been there, my friends.
On the next morning, when John Gordon reached the corner of the road at which stood Croker’s Hall, he met, outside on the roadway, close to the house, a most disreputable old man with a wooden leg and a red nose. This was Mr. Baggett, or Sergeant Baggett as he was generally called, and was now known about all Alresford to be the husband of Mr. Whittlestaff’s housekeeper. For news had got abroad, and tidings were told that Mr. Baggett was about to arrive in the neighbourhood to claim his wife. Everybody knew it before the inhabitants of Croker’s Hall. And now, since yesterday afternoon, all Croker’s Hall knew it, as well as the rest of the world. He was standing there close to the house, which stood a little back from the road, between nine and ten in the morning, as drunk as a lord. But I think his manner of drunkenness was perhaps in some respects different from that customary with lords. Though he had only one leg of the flesh, and one of wood, he did not tumble down, though he brandished in the air the stick with which he was accustomed to disport himself. A lord would, I think, have got himself taken to bed. But the Sergeant did not appear to have any such intention.
— Anthony Trollope, An Old Man’s Love