In his Autobiography, Trollope described his aim in creating Mark Robarts, the central character of Framley Parsonage, as being the depiction of ‘an English clergyman who should not be a bad man, but one led into temptation by his own youth and by the unclerical accidents of the life of those around him’.1 Robarts is the vicar of Framley, in the diocese of Barchester, the fictional setting for Trollope’s series of novels that began with The Warden (1855) and concluded with The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867). While on a visit to Chaldicotes, seat of Nathaniel Sowerby, Whig MP for the Western Division of Barsetshire, Robarts has received an invitation from the grand Duke of Omnium to join a party at Gatherum Castle. He has been told that the bishop will be there, furnishing an attractive opportunity to develop an acquaintance and so enhance his career prospects. Mark has gone to bed, determined to resist temptation. However, his ‘first thoughts’ on waking ‘flew back’ to the invitation. Trollope precedes his hero’s reflections — so really his second thoughts — with a general comment on human vulnerability to the vice of ambition: And there is nothing viler than the desire to know great people — people of great rank I should say; nothing worse than the hunting of titles and worshipping of wealth. We all know this, and say it every day of our lives.
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