Yeah, the fox hunts....God help us. They're tedious, and they're a cheap plot trick on those occasions when Trollope wants to kill off a character, or give someone a long recuperation in the home of the person he wants them to fall in love with. I didn't mention them because — well, I figured I'd let people discover them on their own.Well, not always. I'm re-reading Can You Forgive Her?, because I plan to read all of the Palliser novels this year, and just stumbled across the fox hunt, which comes at about page 200 in the print edition I'm reading. There's more to it than cheap tricks, at least this particular fox hunt.
This fox hunt introduces Burgo Fitzgerald, a major character in the novel; he was the first serious suitor for Lady Glencora, who is now married to Plantagenet Palliser. And we learn a good deal about Burgo's character and that of George Vavasor, the first serious suitor for the hand of Alice Vavasor, his cousin, the character who may or may not be forgiven by the novel's close. Burgo rides his horse to death; Vavasor keeps to himself on the hunt, far from the pack of both dogs and men, and is among those who are in for the kill. He also rides, then sells, a fine horse for less than its value because of its bad reputation.
Those things are not insignificant. Perhaps the other Trollope fox hunts are cheaper and more tedious!