The following quotation is from Anthony Trollope's The Small House at Allington:

That she was a lady, inwards and outwards, from the crown of her head to the sole of her feet, in head, in heart, and in mind, a lady by education and a lady by nature, a lady also by birth in spite of that deficiency respecting her grandfather, I hereby state as a fact mea periculo.

I have trouble in understanding the pair inwards and outwards in this context but I think it may refer to both physical and mental qualities of that lady.

As regards mea periculo, I know this is a Latin phrase, but I would like to know its meaning in English, particularly in the cited context as the online dictionaries didn't help me.

  • 2
    Yes, mental and physical (including blood lineage). The Latin phrase would mean nothing to 99.44% of native speakers of American English. Jun 13, 2015 at 14:49

2 Answers 2


The person is a "lady", ie a sophisticated and refined woman. She presents the outward characteristics of a "lady" (her speech, dress and appearance are refined and sophisticated). Moreover, this isn't an act. Internally she really has an elegant mind and heart. Furthermore, she is from a refined and sophisticated family (and this would have been very important at that time). Hence "inwardly and outwardly"

The term "lady" has very little to do with her sex. She isn't being compared with men, but with coarse rude women.

"Mea periculo" (or should that be Meo?) means "at my risk" It's a Latin phrase that is generally understood by English speakers.


In that sentence, "inwards and outwards" means that the 'lady' they are referring to is intrinsically a woman. Rather, she is a woman because of the fact that she is a "lady by nature." "Inwards and outwards" is a fancier way of saying "inside and out" if that makes more sense.

  • Decidedly it makes a lot more sense (to me). Would you mind including in your answer @TRomano's comment about the Latin phrase? Just for the completeness's sake. So I could upvote and accept your answer. Jun 16, 2015 at 12:58
  • 1
    This answer is basically correct; but the passage has almost nothing to do with her sex (her being a woman). At the time Trollope was writing, any reader would have understood him to be referring to her having the "breeding" or refinement of a "lady".
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 31, 2021 at 17:31

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