Page 28. " she felt quite a Malthusian towards her mother for thoughtlessly giving her so many little sisters and brothers "
Thomas Malthus
Public DomainThomas Malthus

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) was a scholar who proposed that population growth must be limited by how much food it was possible to produce on the earth. He wrote widely about the dangers of unthinking population expansion.

Page 28. " Druidical mistletoe "
Mistletoe berries
Public DomainMistletoe berries

Mistletoe has been associated with Druid practices since Roman times, and is thought to have played a key role in rituals such as human sacrifices. Because of this, it was banned from most churches for many years.

A parasitic plant, it grows on other trees, particularly apple, lime, poplar and hawthorne trees.

Page 43. " humming like a top "

Page 47. " It reminded Tess of a Confirmation "

A confirmation is a church service in which Christians confirm their commitment to their faith in front of a bishop. The rite is supposed to be an affirmation of the baptismal vows made on behalf of babies.


Page 49. " sitting like Im-patience on a monument "

Alec here corrupts a quotation from Act II Scene 4 of Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night.

The original quotation is a description by Viola of her "friend" (really herself) sitting "like patience on a monument smiling at grief", an image which comes from the fact that many tombs of this era bore statues representing the virtue Patience.

Page 49. " Take, O take those lips away "

A song from another Shakespeare play, Measure for Measure.

Listen on Spotify: Take, O Take Those Lips Away