In the very first chapter of The Warden, shortly after he has introduced Septimus Harding, Trollope provides a careful physical description of his protagonist and his manner of dress before proceeding to other matters. As you read the following passage, ask yourself both how Harding's physical qualities characterize the man and also what happens between the first and second paragraph.

Mr. Harding is a small man, now verging on sixty years, but bearing few of the signs of age; his hair is rather grizzled, though not grey, his eye is very mild, but clear and bright, though the double glasses which are held swinging from his hand, unless when fixed upon his nose, show that time has told upon his sight: his hands are delicately white, and both hands and feet are small; he always wears a black frock coat, black knee-breeches, and black gaiters, and somewhat scandalizes some of his more hyperclerical brethren by a black neck-handkerchief.

Mr. Harding's warmest admirers cannot say that he was ever an industrious man; the circumstances of his life have not called on him to be so; and yet he can hardly be called an idler. Since his appointment to his precentorship, he has published, with all possible additions of vellum, typography, and gilding, a collection of our ancient church music, with some correct dissertations on Purcell, Crotch, and Nares. He has greatly improved the choir of Barchester, which, under his dominion, now rivals that of any cathedral in England. He has taken something more than his fair share in the cathedral services, and has played the violoncello daily to such audiences as he could collect, or, faute de mieux, to no audience at all. [Chapter 1, "Hiram's Hospital"]

Why does Harding's "black neck-handkerchief" scandalize some of his more "hyperclerical brethren"? To begin with, how would you go about finding out what an Anglican clergyman was supposed to wear, and if this costume changed throughout the nineteenth century?


Victorian Web Overview Anthony Trollope The Warden

Last modified 22 December 2006