For our last dally (for now, at least) into Anthony Trollope’s novel The Prime Minister, we’re ending with two of the (in my opinion, ‘natch) great characters in Trollope’s oeuvre, and perhaps in English fiction itself, Plantagenet Palliser and Glencora Palliser, his wife (Lord and Lady and then Duke and Duchess if you’re feeling formal). Their marriage and early days kick off the whole Palliser series of novels, and they surface here and there throughout the series, sometimes as bit parts, sometimes more supporting, sometimes starring. Which means it’s only fitting we end with a little brandy banter between them (don’t, of course, miss the earlier The Prime Minister Cocktail Talks, part I, part II, and part III, to learn more about the book, and for that matter, why not spend some with all the Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks – you’ll have fun. Promise)!
“If you ask me, Plantagenet, you know I shall tell the truth.”
“Then tell the truth.”
“After drinking brandy so long I hardly think that 12s. claret will agree with my stomach. You ask for the truth, and there it is,—very plainly.”
“You asked, you know.”
“And I am glad to have been told, even though that which you tell me is not pleasant hearing. When a man has been drinking too much brandy, it may be well that he should be put on a course of 12s. claret.”
For our third jaunt into the politics, romance, customs, and (most importantly) drinking in the upper-middle-and-upper-classes as shown in the Anthony Trollope book The Prime Minister, we go on a little vacation. This takes us back into contact with Sexty (!) Parker (for more on Sexty, see The Prime Minister Cocktail Talk Part II), and with his wife, and with Emily Wharton, here using her married name, Mrs. Lopez (for more on Emily and for a brief overview of the whole book, be sure to see The Prime Minister Cocktail Talk Part I, and don’t miss the past Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks). The below quote is a bit long, forgive me! But I didn’t want to miss the so-called bubbly or the not-called (but still seems to be) whiskey toddy. You deserve both – and deserve to read the book, so do if you haven’t.
It was all his ordering, and if he bade her dine with a crossing-sweeper she would do it. But she could not but remember that not long since he had told her that his partner was not a person with whom she could fitly associate; and she did not fail to perceive that he must be going down in the world to admit such association for her after he had so spoken. And as she sipped the mixture which Sexty called champagne, she thought of Herefordshire and the banks of the Wye, and,— alas, alas, — she thought of Arthur Fletcher. Nevertheless, come what might, she would do her duty, even though it might call upon her to sit at dinner with Mr. Parker three days in the week. Lopez was her husband, and would be the father of her child, and she would make herself one with him. It mattered not what people might call him, — or even her. She had acted on her own judgment in marrying him, and had been a fool; and now she would bear the punishment without complaint.
When dinner was over Mrs. Parker helped the servant to remove the dinner things from the single sitting-room, and the two men went out to smoke their cigars in the covered porch. Mrs. Parker herself took out the whisky and hot water, and sugar and lemons, and then returned to have a little matronly discourse with her guest. “Does Mr. Lopez ever take a drop too much?” she asked.
“Never,” said Mrs. Lopez.
“Perhaps it don’t affect him as it do Sexty. He ain’t a drinker; — certainly not. And he’s one that works hard every day of his life. But he’s getting fond of it these last twelve months, and though he don’t take very much it hurries him and flurries him.
For our Prime Minister Cocktail Talk the second, one of the best-named characters in the book pops up: Sextus Parker, nicknamed Sexty. Not at all what you might expect from the modern usage, or near-usage, of the word or words contained within. He’s a chap who works with Ferdinand Lopez – be sure to read The Prime Minister Cocktail Talk Part I to learn more about the book, the main characters, and my take on it in short form (cause who has time for long form?), and such. Anyway, back to Sexty. In the below you see he likes both sherry and brandy (who doesn’t?), and that the consumption of such effects his confidence, much like it does for modern folks.
Sextus Parker still thought that things would come round. Ferdinand, – he always now called his friend by his Christian name, – Ferdinand was beautifully, seraphically confident. And Sexty, who had been in a manner magnetized by Ferdinand, was confident too, – at certain periods of the day. He was very confident when he had had his two or three glasses of sherry at luncheon, and he was often delightfully confident with his cigar and brandy-and-water at night. But there were periods in the morning in which he would shake with fear and sweat with dismay.
Another Anthony Trollope novel I can’t believe hasn’t been featured here with a Cocktail Talk quote already (considering how many Trollope Cocktail Talks there are), The Prime Minister is one of the Palliser series of novels, which revolve in the main around the 1800s political scene. Fictional, I suppose I should say, though many non-fictional personages are mentioned, too. And with characters coming in and out of the novels, if you read a few in a row, or even over a series of years, they become as lifelike to you as any historical figure, perhaps (and perhaps that was part of Trollope’s genius). This book, like many of his, has multiple plot lines running, and he weaves them together fairly well, but not, for me, as well as my favorites of the Palliser books, Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux – though our friend Phineas does show in The Prime Minister, which made me happy! Not that this isn’t a grand read (and some like it as much or more than any Trollope – Tolstoy, for one, and he knows thing), but, and I can admit it could be that I re-read it recently directly after re-reading Phineas Redux, I personally don’t love it as much as other Trollope’s. I love it, much of it, don’t get me wrong. Just not as much! It centers around our old friend Plantagenet Palliser (who, along with his awesome wife Glencora, star in the book that kicks off the series, and then show throughout), who becomes Prime Minister, for better or worse. And then also centers for much of the book around a man named Ferdinand Lopez (a foreigner by birth, or so thought, and whose characteristics and ethnicity are often discussed in a manner that while mirroring I’d guess the manner of the time, doesn’t sit well often in our time – Trollope was a very accurate mirror, for better or worse I suppose), who might not be as savory as a gentleman should be, though I don’t want to give away too much, and his wife-to-be and then wife, Emily Wharton. The plots intermingle and outer mingle, and I found myself wishing for more of the former, but that may vary on the reader. What won’t vary is a wish for the time when everyone had sherry for breakfast, as in the below quote.
At about nine the Duke had returned, and was eating his very simple dinner in the breakfast-room – a beefsteak and a potato, with a glass of sherry and Apollinaris water. No man more easily satisfied as to what he and and drank lived in London in those days. As regarded the eating and drinking he dined alone, but his wife sat with him and waited on him, having sent the servant out of the room. “I have told her Majesty that I would do the best I could,” said the Duke.
“Then you are Prime Minister.”
“Not at all. Mr. Daubeny is Prime Minister. I have undertaken to form a ministry, if I find it practicable, with the assistance of such friends as I possess. I never felt before that I had to lean so entirely on others as I do now.”
We have one more stop in Ireland, via Anthony Trollope’s novel (one of five he wrote set there) of upper-ish class romance, mystery, and such during the beginnings of the Irish famine. If you’ve missed the Castle Richmond Part I and Part II Cocktail Talks, then please, take a trip to them now (and for that matter, why not try out all the Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks). Once back, take a step through the below quote into the Kanturk Hotel (and bar, moreso), where you’ll meet the charming Fanny O’Dwyer, and learn some charming phrases for drinks.
Behind the coffee-room was the bar, from which Fanny O’Dwyer dispensed dandies of punch and goes of brandy to her father’s customers from Kanturk. For at this, as at other similar public-houses in Irish towns, the greater part of the custom on which the publican depends came to him from the inhabitants of one particular country district. A large four-wheeled vehicle, called a long car, which was drawn by three horses, and travelled over a mountain road at the rate of four Irish miles an hour, came daily from Kanturk to Cork, and daily returned. This public conveyance stopped in Cork at the Kanturk Hotel, and was owned by the owner of that house, in partnership with a brother in the same trade located in Kanturk. It was Mr. O’Dwyer’s business to look after this concern, to see to the passengers and the booking, the oats, and hay, and stabling, while his well-known daughter, the charming Fanny O’Dwyer, took care of the house, and dispensed brandy and whisky to the customers from Kanturk.
To tell the truth, the bar was a much more alluring place than the coffee-room, and Fanny O’Dwyer a more alluring personage than Tom, the one-eyed waiter.
Our second delving into this lesser-read (probably? I feel overall Anthony Trollope should be read more, and this novel isn’t one of those read even partially enough atm) Irish-set Trollope tale takes us into a space Trollope wrote about better than anyone, the house of an English rector. While our man of the cloth here isn’t one of the book’s main characters, he has enough page time that you’ll come to enjoy his company (his wife’s too, though mostly for her sometimes ridiculousness). The fact that he likes a whisky punch in an evening, certainly makes liking him easier. Oh, don’t miss the Castle Richmond Cocktail Talk Part I, for more book background and brandy (and all the Trollope Cocktail Talks for even more).
But the parlour was warm enough; warm and cosy, though perhaps at times a little close; and of evenings there would pervade it a smell of whisky punch, not altogether acceptable to unaccustomed nostrils. Not that the rector of Drumbarrow was by any means an intemperate man. His single tumbler of whisky toddy, repeated only on Sundays and some other rare occasions, would by no means equal, in point of drinking, the ordinary port of an ordinary English clergyman. But whisky punch does leave behind a savour of its intrinsic virtues, delightful no doubt to those who have imbibed its grosser elements, but not equally acceptable to others who may have been less fortunate.
Hello Anthony Trollope fans! Which is everyone! Who likes to read, at least (which is also hopefully everyone)! Speaking of reading, long-time readers of this blog (which is everyone!) know that I love reading Trollope novels in the main, and know this due to the many many Trollope Cocktail Talks from years past. A long list that includes one Can You Forgive Her? Cocktail Talk. However! I was re-reading this book – the first in the amazing Palliser series, or series-esque – recently, and realized I needed way more in the way of Cocktail Talks from it. So, another is happening today, with the below quote. First a quick note: the novel is about a lady who goes a bit back-and-forth, not in her affections per se, but in how she decides to deal with them and her life, with a few other stories intertwined (including one which introduces Glencora Palliser, who shows up in most of the other books, and re-introduces Plantagenet Palliser, who shows up even more in them). All good Trollopian stuff! Including the below.
On the night before Christmas Eve two men were sitting together in George Vavasor’s rooms in Cecil Street. It was past twelve o’clock, and they were both smoking; there were square bottles on the table containing spirits, with hot water and cold water in jugs, and one of the two men was using, and had been using, these materials for enjoyment.
You may have thought it couldn’t be done, but we’re back to Orley Farm after our cinematic sidestep last week, and I’m going to have one more Mr. Moulder Cocktail Talk from the Trollope novel (I may have more Cocktail Talks from the book that don’t feature him, too. Only time will tell pals, and even it might not know!). But we’ve had a few of him in his higher moments, and so I only felt it was right to have one when he’s snoozing away after a long day shilling for Hubbles and Grease and swilling brandy and water (and perhaps other potent potables, too). However, it’s the description of his waking in the below quote that does the most for me. Oh, before I forget! Don’t miss the Orley Farm Cocktail Talks Part I, Part II, and Part III for more about the book itself, and all the Anthony Trollope Cocktail Talks (there are a few!) for more Trollopean fun.
Soon after that Mr. Kenneby saw Mrs. Smiley home in a cab, and poor Mrs. Moulder sat by her lord till he roused himself from his sleep. Let us hope that her troubles with him were as little vexatious as possible; and console ourselves with the reflection that at twelve o’clock the next morning, after the second bottle of soda and brandy, he was ‘as sweet as sweet.’
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More