He had dined in town, and by the time that his chamber had been stripped of its appendages, he was nearly ready for bed. Before he did so, he was asked to take a glass of sherry.
‘Ah! sherry,’ said he, taking up the bottle and putting it down again. ‘Sherry, ah! yes; very good wine, I am sure. You haven’t a drop of rum in the house, have you?’
Mrs. Woodward declared with sorrow that she had not.
‘Or Hollands?’ said Uncle Bat. But the ladies of Surbiton Cottage were unsupplied also with Hollands.
‘Gin?’ suggested the captain, almost in despair.
Mrs. Woodward had no gin, but she could send out and get it; and the first evening of Captain Cuttwater’s visit saw Mrs. Woodward’s own parlour-maid standing at the bar of the Green Dragon, while two gills of spirits were being measured out for her.
— Anthony Trollope, The Three Clerks
I thought about having just one Cocktail Talk from this mighty book, just because it seemed fitting, and I did go on a tiny bit – heck, go read The Way We Live Now, Part I, Cocktail Talk and see what I mean. Good, you’re back. However, when thinking on it, I decided I wanted another. Because this other has such a good line about curaçao, that I had to spread it around. The characters here aren’t main characters per se (though the book is big and vast enough in its ambitions and scope that there are many important characters), but they are important, and this scene, near the end, shows them grabbing a little deserved happiness, and some welcoming curaçao.
She and Herr Croll had known each other for a great many years, and were, she thought, of about the same age. Croll had some money saved. She had, at any rate, her jewels, — and Croll would probably be able to get some portion of all that money, which ought to be hers, if his affairs were made to be identical with her own. So she smiled upon Croll, and whispered to him; and when she had given Croll two glasses of Curaçao, — which comforter she kept in her own hands, as safeguarded almost as the jewels, — then Croll understood her.
–Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now
Trollope, how I love thee, let me count the ways . . . okay, that would take too long. But just check out all the past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks, and you’ll read about my swoons until you are blue in the face. Or at least a light shade of pea flower. Anyway. The Way We Live Now is for many THE Trollope book, the big one, the masterwork of all his masterworks. Me, I love it. But it’s not my favorite. But I see where they’re getting to, as it’s a big book, and incredibly insightful, and less happy (which many like) than some of his others, less friendly, more calling-people-out. Which makes it the perfect book for today’s world, in some way. Really, re-reading it (third time? fourth time?) I was struck by how relevant and right on target it was considering the, oh, self-interested spot we’re all within. I strongly suggest it. Though reading it, you may well (as Lord Nidderdale below) find yourself needing a bottle of bubbly. Hopefully you have more luck than he:
“A bottle of Champagne!” said Nidderdale, appealing to the waiter in almost a humble voice, feeling that he wanted sustenance in this new trouble that had befallen him. The waiter, beaten almost to the ground by an awful sense of the condition of the club, whispered to him the terrible announcement that there was not a bottle of Champagne in the house. “Good G — — ,” exclaimed the unfortunate nobleman. Miles Grendall shook his head. Grasslough shook his head.
“It’s true,” said another young lord from the table on the other side. Then the waiter, still speaking with suppressed and melancholy voice, suggested that there was some port left. It was now the middle of July.
“Brandy?” suggested Nidderdale. There had been a few bottles of brandy, but they had been already consumed. “Send out and get some brandy,” said Nidderdale with rapid impetuosity. But the club was so reduced in circumstances that he was obliged to take silver out of his pocket before he could get even such humble comfort as he now demanded.
–Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now
When dinner was over, Burton got up from his seat. “Harry,” said he, “do you like good wine?” Harry said that he did. Whatever women may say about wild fowl, men never profess an indifference to good wine, although there is a theory about the world, quite as incorrect as it is general, that they have given up drinking it. “Indeed I do,” said Harry. “Then I’ll give you a bottle of port,” said Burton, and so saying he left the room.
“I’m very glad you have come to-day,” said Jones, with much gravity. “He never gives me any of that when I’m alone with him; and he never, by any means, brings it out for company.”
“You don’t mean to accuse him of drinking it alone, Tom?” said his sister, laughing.
“I don’t know when he drinks it; I only know when he doesn’t.”
The wine was decanted with as much care as had been given to the concoction of the gravy, and the clearness of the dark liquid was scrutinized with an eye that was full of anxious care. “Now, Cissy, what do you think of that? She knows a glass of good wine when she gets it, as well as you do Harry, in spite of her contempt for the duck.”
— Anthony Trollope, The Claverings
“I have heard a great deal about Mr. Stumfold,” continued Mr. Rubb, not appearing to observe the lady’s altered manner, “not only here and where I have been for the last few days, but up in London also. He is quite a public character, you know.”
“Clergymen in towns, who have large congregations, always must so be, I suppose.”
“Well, yes; more or less. But Mr. Stumfold is decidedly more, and not less. People say he is going in for a bishopric.”
“I had not heard it,” said Miss Mackenzie, who did not quite understand what was meant by going in for a bishopric.
“Oh, yes, and a very likely man he would have been a year or two ago. But they say the prime minister has changed his tap lately.”
“Changed his tap!” said Miss Mackenzie.
“He used to draw his bishops very bitter, but now he draws them mild and creamy. I dare say Stumfold did his best, but he didn’t quite get his hay in while the sun shone.”
–Anthony Trollope, Miss Mackenzie
Anthony Trollop and I hang out, usually over some port. It’s a swell time, and as a long-time reader of this blog (which you are, right? Right?), you probable already know this, cause of past Trollope Cocktail Talks (which I know you’ve read, right? Right?), and my general fawning over him. I recently just re-read the first of the awesome Palliser novels, a book called Can You Forgive Her. Not the tops of that series of his (to me, the Phineas books are best), but still amazingly good. And it has this quote, which tells about how a good whiskey drink is a swell mood-changer.
And when he got to his club the waiters found him quite unmanageable about his dinner, which he ate alone, rejecting all proposition of companionship. But later in the evening he regained his composure over a glass of whiskey-toddy and a cigar. “She’s got her own money,” he said to himself, “and what does it matter? I don’t suppose she’ll marry her cousin. I don’t think she’s fool enough for that. And after all she’ll probably make it up again with John Grey.” And in this way he determined that he might let this annoyance run off him, and that he need not as a father take the trouble of any interference.
–Can You Forgive Her, Anthony Trollope
You know this, because you’re a regular reader: I love books by Anthony Trollope. I believe there are more Trollope Cocktail Talk posts than any other type. So, I’m not going to go in deep into the whys and such here (go read the older posts, if you’ve missed any, which you probably haven’t, because you’re a regular reader). Here, instead, we’re diving in quick to a quote from Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite, a shorter, lesser-known Trollope sparkler. Actually, though it sparkles in some ways, it’s also probably one of the top five most-depressing-ending Trollope books. Still worth a read, but don’t expect it to be all smiles once that last page is turned. Maybe you’ll even need a drink?
Early on the morning after George’s return he was run to ground by Mr. Boltby’s confidential clerk, at the hotel behind the club. It was so early, to George at least, that he was still in bed. But the clerk, who had breakfasted at eight, been at his office by nine, and had worked hard for two hours and a half since, did not think it at all early. George, who knew that his pheasant-shooting pleasure was past, and that immediate trouble was in store for him, had consoled himself over-night with a good deal of curaçoa and seltzer and brandy, and had taken these comforting potations after a bottle of Champagne. He was, consequently, rather out of sorts when he was run to ground in his very bedroom by Boltby’s clerk.
– Anthony Trollope, Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite
Hey, I think everyone in the world knows this, but if you’re one of the few that don’t, well, I am here to tell you – I love me some Anthony Trollope. I wonder where I rank, now that I’m pondering the whole thing, on the world’s list of Anthony Trollope fans. I’ll bet I’m in the top 100! Really! I’ve read nearly everything (and that’s saying something, cause he was one prolific mid-1800s English writer) and many things twice. I’ve read so much Trollope I’m amazed when I find one of the few books I’ve missed. Amazed and happy, as when I picked up John Caldigate recently. Most of those I haven’t read aren’t considered “major” Trollope works (whatever that means), but damn, I believe John Caligate should get some consideration. One of the more epic Trollope’s I’ve read, it has a huge cast of characters, a sea voyage, some time spent in the Australian gold mines, a bigamy trial, and lots of the English countryside-ing that Trollope is so known for. I loved it. And not just because of the below quote, which describes how a certain farmer drinks his wine.
Then the tray was brought in with wine, and everybody drank everybody’s health, and there was another shaking of hands all round. Mr. Purvidge, it was observed, drank the health of every separate member of the family in a separate bumper, pressing the edge of the glass securely to his lips, and then sending the whole contents down his throat at one throw with a chunk from his little finger.
– Anthony Trollop, John Caldigate