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“with his back to the fire” (Anthony Trollope's Tic)

December 1, 2013
New York, N.Y.

The following passages from Anthony Trollope's 47 novels (in chronological order as listed in Wikipedia) were generated from an analysis of texts available from Project Gutenberg.

The Macdermots of Ballycloran (1847)

Thady said nothing to this, but stood with his back to the fire, looking as grim as death.

It had never occurred to him, in his indignation, to think of these difficulties, and he now stood with his back to the fire, looking awfully black, but saying nothing.

There he stood with his back to the fire, his old and dirty hat pulled low over his brow, his hands stuck into the pockets of his much worn shooting coat, his strong brogues and the bottoms of his corduroy trowsers covered with dirt and dry mould, with the same heavy discontented look about his face which he always now wore.

Myles stood still, with his back to the fire, trying to look as if he were not disconcerted.

The Kellys and the O'Kellys (1848)

It was a nasty, cold, February day, and he walked up and down the damp muddy walks till he was too tired and cold to walk longer, and then turned into the parlour, and remained with his back to the fire, till the man came in to lay the cloth, thinking on the one subject that occupied all his mind--occasionally grinding his teeth, and heaping curses on his father and sister, who, together, had inflicted such grievous, such unexpected injuries upon him.

When Anty opened the door, he was again standing with his back to the fire, his hands in his pockets, the flaps of his coat hanging over his arms, his shoulders against the mantel-piece, and his foot on the chair on which he had been sitting.

"... But I've too many troubles of my own to think of just at present, to care much about hers;" and the son and heir got up, and stood with his back to the fire, and put his arms under his coat-laps.

Lord Cashel was standing with his back to the fire-place, and Fanny had never seen his face look so black.

When Blake mentioned the loan Frank got up, and stood with his back to the fire; then bit his lips, and walked twice up and down the room, with his hands in his pockets, and then he paused, looked out of the window, and attempted to whistle: then he threw himself into an armchair, poked out both his legs as far as he could, ran his fingers through his hair, and set to work hard to make up his mind.

The widow seemed to be in great doubt and perplexity, and continued whispering with Martin for some time, during which Daly remained standing with his back to the fire.

"Come, Mr Lynch, I will give you five minutes more, and then I go;" and he pulled out his watch, and stood with his back to the fire, looking at it.

The Warden (1855)

On entering this sacred room he carefully opened the paper case on which he was wont to compose his favourite sermons, and spread on it a fair sheet of paper and one partly written on; he then placed his inkstand, looked at his pen, and folded his blotting paper; having done so, he got up again from his seat, stood with his back to the fire-place, and yawned comfortably, stretching out vastly his huge arms and opening his burly chest.

Barchester Towers (1857)

"I have no alternative left to me, Mrs. Bold," said he, standing with his back to the fire-place, looking down intently at the carpet pattern, and speaking with a slow, measured voice, "but to tell you plainly what did take place between me and Dr. Grantly...."

Mr. Arabin the while was standing with his back to the fire, his coat-tails under his arms, gazing at her with all his eyes--not quite in vain, for every now and again a glance came up at him, bright as a meteor out of heaven.

Arabin, when he entered, stood awhile with his back to the fire in his usual way, merely uttering a few commonplace remarks about the beauty of the weather, while he plucked up courage for more interesting converse.

The Three Clerks (1858)

'Well, Mr. Embryo,' said he, speaking to the new junior, and standing with his back to the fire in an easy way, as though there was nothing wrong under the sun, or at least nothing at the Weights and Measures, 'well, Mr. Embryo, how do you get on with those calculations?'

Doctor Thorne (1858)

It was the first of July, and of course there was no fire in the grate; but, nevertheless, the doctor was standing with his back to the fireplace, with his coat-tails over his arms, as though he were engaged, now in summer as he so often was in winter, in talking, and roasting his hinder person at the same time.

The doctor during this little outburst had stood quite silent with his back to the fireplace and his coat-tails hanging over his arms; but though his voice said nothing, his face said much.

The Bertrams (1859)

"Quarrel!" said his uncle, getting up and standing with his back to the fire.

Sir Henry, who had not sat down, began walking up and down the room, while Bertram stood with his back to the fire watching him.

Castle Richmond (1860)

And thus, though he remained there for half an hour, with his back to the fire and his hands in his pockets, his deliberations had done him no good whatever,--had rather done him harm, seeing that he had only warmed himself into a firmer determination to go on with what he was doing.

Prendergast was standing with his back to the fire.

"Come, Mr. Mollett," said Mr. Prendergast, now getting up and standing with his back to the fire, "I do not know that you and I need beat about the bush much longer.

Framley Parsonage (1861)

"Ah! I understand," he said; and rising from his chair, he stood against the chimney-piece with his back to the fire.

He made no immediate answer, but standing on the hearthrug with his back to the fire, looked up the whole length of the room.

Orley Farm (1862)

"Yes," he said; "I do hear;" and as he spoke he came round so that he was standing near to her, but with his back to the fireplace.

In the mean time Sir Peregrine got up and stood with his back to the fire.

Peregrine again got up, and standing with his back to the fire, thought over it all again.

He was still there, standing with his back to the fire and thinking over the work of the day.

He was still standing with his back to the fire, leaning against the mantelpiece, and thinking over the occurrences of the day that was past.

When he entered the drawing-room Lady Staveley was there, and the judge with his teacup beside him, and Augustus standing with his back to the fire.

The Small House at Allington (1864)

He was ushered into the earl's room, and found the great peer standing on the rug, with his back to the fire, and his hands in his breeches pockets.

Sir Raffle Buffle was leaving his late colleagues, and was standing with his back to the fire-place, talking very loudly.

Crosbie went into the sitting-room, ordered the tea and bread-and-butter, ordered also the dinner, and then stood himself up with his back to the fire, in order that he might think a little of his future career.

Lord Dumbello took the letter and read it very slowly, standing, as he did so, with his back to the fire.

Can You Forgive Her? (1865)

On this day it was fated that Mr. Bott alone should represent the sterner sex, and when Alice entered the room he was standing on the rug with his back to the fire, waiting till the appearance of some other guest should give him the sanction necessary for the commencement of his morning meal.

Then he got up from the sofa, and stood himself on the hearthrug, with his back to the fireplace.

When all was finished, he stood for awhile with his back to the fireplace contemplating his work.

The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867)

Miss Prettyman paused before she replied, and, when she did speak, Major Grantly had risen from his chair and was standing with his back to the fire.

And John gave them an elaborate description of Sir Raffle Buffle, standing up with his back to the fire with his hat on his head, and speaking with a loud harsh voice, to show them the way in which he declared that that gentleman received his inferiors; and then bowing and scraping and rubbing his hands together and simpering with would-be softness,--declaring that after that fashion Sir Raffle received his superiors.

Sir Raffle was still standing with his hat on, and with his back to the fire, and his countenance was full of wrath.

He was standing on the rug, with his back to the fire, and his heavy ecclesiastical hat was placed on the middle of the round table.

He sipped his tea to the end, and then, having got up to put his cup down, stood on the rug with his back to the fire.

The Claverings (1867)

"Halloa, Clavering," said Walliker, who was standing with his back to the fire, "I thought we had lost you for good and all...."

Then he closed the room door, and standing up with his back to the fire-place, so that he might be saved from the necessity of asking her to sit down, he declared himself ready to hear anything that his visitor might have to say.

Phineas Finn: The Irish Member (1869)

"I mean it on every ground," said Mr. Turnbull, rising on his legs and standing with his back to the fire.

When the morning came, at half-past eleven, the son, who had been standing for half an hour with his back to the fire in the large gloomy dining-room, suddenly rang the bell.

"Violet, this is very good of you," said Lord Chiltern, standing with his back to the fire, and not moving from the spot.

Then he was off, and Lord Brentford was left there, standing with his back to the fire.

Ralph the Heir (1871)

"What's all this about?" he said, standing with his back to the fire, and still holding Neefit by the arm.

The Eustace Diamonds (1873)

(both occurrences in same paragraph)

As he sat signing letters at the India Board, relieving himself when he was left alone between each batch by standing up with his back to the fire-place, his mind was full of all this.

"A peasant can marry whom he pleases," said Lord Fawn, pressing his hand to his brow, and dropping one flap of his coat, as he thought of his own high and perilous destiny, standing with his back to the fire-place, while a huge pile of letters lay there before him waiting to be signed.

Phineas Redux (1874)

Phineas, when he was alone, could not help standing for awhile with his back to the fire thinking of it all.

Mr. Maule rose almost impetuously from his chair, and stood with his back to the fire, contemplating the proposition that had been made to him.

"I won't part at all," he said, standing his ground with his back to the fire.

The Way We Live Now (1875)

When he had read so far he stood up with his back to the fire-place, leaving the letter on the table.

"It's always waiting till next week with you," said Sir Felix, getting up and standing with his back to the fire-place.

Melmotte then stood with his back to the fire-place in his wife's sitting-room, with his hands in his pockets, contemplating what might be the incidents of the coming interview.

The Prime Minister (1876)

The Duke stood over her in her own room upstairs, with his back to the fireplace and his eyes fixed upon her while she was reading this letter.

The American Senator (1877)

Mr. Gotobed placed himself on the rug with his back to the fire and immediately reverted to the Church.

At this moment he had a cigar in his mouth, and when he entered the room he stood with his back to the fire ready for conversation and looking very unlike a clerk who intended to do any work.

During all this time Mounser Green was smoking his cigar with his back to the fire, and the other clerks looked as though they had nothing to do but talk about the private affairs of ministers abroad and their friends.

"Poor old Paragon!" exclaimed Archibald Currie, as he stood with his back to the fire among his colleagues at the Foreign Office on the day after John Morton's death.

Is He Popenjoy? (1878)

He was standing with his back to the fire, looking at his boots.

He was standing with his back to the fire, which was burning though the weather was warm, and the tails of his coat were hanging over his arms as he kept his hands in his pockets.

The Duke's Children (1880)

Then the Duke, who had been sitting, got up from his chair and with his back to the fire made a final little speech.

He paused for a moment, while the Duke stood with his back to the fire looking at him.

Doctor Wortle's School (1881)

"The Bishop has been bothering me about you, Peacocke," he said, standing up with his back to the fireplace, as soon as the other man had shut the door behind him.

Marion Fay (1882)

Then the Marquis bowed graciously as he still stood with his back to the fire, and Mr. Greenwood left the room.

"Then my horse took the wall in a fly, and old Amblethwaite crept over afterwards," continued Crocker, standing with his back to the fire, utterly disregarding Mr. Jerningham's admonitions.

Mr. Scarborough's Family (1883)

He thought it over as he stood there with his back to the fire, and he told himself that with Florence the first year would be possible, and that after the first year the struggle would cease to be a struggle.


Comments:

If you're outdoors on a bright sunny day and you want to see someone's face, or read your watch or whatever, you have to position yourself between the big ball of fire and the object you want to look at, and you have to turn your back to the big ball of fire.

In the old days, before turning back to the future, if you were indoors at night, a smaller, nearer, fire provided illumination.

— Marty McFly, Sun, 1 Dec 2013 18:01:50 -0500


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