Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

06 Apr 2008, 22:29 p.m.

19th Century Slang Help Request

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I'm reading Trollope's autobiography and need help understanding this passage:

The [clerical] critic, however, had been driven to wrath by my saying that Deans of the Church of England loved to revisit the glimpses of the metropolitan moon.

What's a "metropolitan moon"? Ever since I heard that you can anagram "subtext" to "butt sex" I feel slightly more foolish for assuming things I don't understand are about sex, but -- is this about sex?


06 Apr 2008, 22:32 p.m.

FWIW "metropolitan" seems to be the name of a position in the Anglican church.

07 Apr 2008, 11:38 a.m.

Your best bet I think will be to read (if you can find it) the text in question, "Clergymen of the Church of England". From what I've researched it sounds like his most damning charge against the Deans is that they were basically patricians; elevated to a status which gave them a great salary and no responsibilities, while the lesser clergy doing the actual work got a pittance. There could be more, of course.

08 Apr 2008, 11:44 a.m.

Theory! A dean is the head of a cathedral, and a metropolitan is like an archbishop. So the deans are nostalgic about the time the archbishop came to their cathedral, or envious of the archbishop's position, or something.

08 Apr 2008, 18:36 p.m.

There's a big excerpt from Trollope's article on the clergy in this article, and the context doesn't particularly suggest slang - "profanely" seems like it's perhaps just referring to being rude about members of the church, rather than specifically being slang-related:

"That the idea of an endowment should be very pleasant to a learned dean, revisiting, as I ventured profanely to remark, the glimpses of the metropolitan moon, and looking with well-pleased eyes on the pleasant things around him, is natural enough. But to the people who want the services of a clergyman, a married curate,-or a married incumbent of a district,-with �150 per annum for all his wants, is not a pleasant sight."

The article is a big grumpy one on how members of the clergy under the jurisdiction of a senior clergymen aren't paid enough. Maybe he does just mean "metropolitan"? The airy dean, wandering around in a city looking at the sky and thinking how pleasant it is, and being paid well, while back in the country the young clergymen under his command struggle to get by on meagre salaries?

09 Apr 2008, 18:32 p.m.

It's TOTALLY about sex.

The Editors
10 Apr 2008, 21:45 p.m.

FWIW "metropolitan" seems to be the name of a position in the Anglican church.

So's "missionary". We're definitely talking about sex.