Autobiography of Anthony Trollope
Anthony Trollope

Part 2 out of 5

the writer of the notice had been instigated by the merits or demerits
of the book instead of by the friendship of a friend. And I made
up my mind then that, should I continue this trade of authorship,
I would have no dealings with any critic on my own behalf. I would
neither ask for nor deplore criticism, nor would I ever thank a
critic for praise, or quarrel with him, even in my own heart, for
censure. To this rule I have adhered with absolute strictness, and
this rule I would recommend to all young authors. What can be got
by touting among the critics is never worth the ignominy. The same
may, of course, be said of all things acquired by ignominious means.
But in this matter it is so easy to fall into the dirt. Facilis
descensus Averni. There seems to be but little fault in suggesting
to a friend that a few words in this or that journal would be of
service. But any praise so obtained must be an injustice to the
public, for whose instruction, and not for the sustentation of the
author, such notices are intended. And from such mild suggestion
the descent to crawling at the critic's feet, to the sending of
presents, and at last to a mutual understanding between critics
and criticised, is only too easy. Other evils follow, for the
denouncing of which this is hardly the place;--though I trust I
may find such place before my work is finished. I took no notice
of my friend's letter, but I was not the less careful in watching
The Times. At last the review came,--a real review in The Times. I
learned it by heart, and can now give, if not the words, the exact
purport. "Of The Kellys and the O'Kellys we may say what the master
said to his footman, when the man complained of the constant supply
of legs of mutton on the kitchen table. Well, John, legs of mutton
are good, substantial food;' and we may say also what John replied:
'Substantial, sir,--yes, they are substantial, but a little coarse.'"
That was the review, and even that did not sell the book!

From Mr. Colburn I did receive an account, showing that 375 copies
of the book had been printed, that 140 had been sold,--to those,
I presume, who liked substantial food though it was coarse,--and
that he had incurred a loss of 63 19S. 1 1/2d. The truth of the
account I never for a moment doubted; nor did I doubt the wisdom
of the advice given to me in the following letter, though I never
thought of obeying it--

November 11, 1848.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I am sorry to say that absence from town and other
circumstances have prevented me from earlier inquiring into the
results of the sale of The Kellys and the O'Kellys, with which the
greatest efforts have been used, but in vain. The sale has been,
I regret to say, so small that the loss upon the publication is
very considerable; and it appears clear to me that, although in
consequence of the great number of novels that are published, the
sale of each, with some few exceptions, must be small, yet it is
evident that readers do not like novels on Irish subjects as well
as on others. Thus, you will perceive, it is impossible for me to
give any encouragement to you to proceed in novel-writing.

"As, however, I understand you have nearly finished the novel La Vendee,
perhaps you will favour me with a sight of it when convenient.--I
remain, etc., etc.,


This, though not strictly logical, was a rational letter, telling
a plain truth plainly. I did not like the assurance that "the
greatest efforts had been used," thinking that any efforts which
might be made for the popularity of a book ought to have come from
the author;--but I took in good part Mr. Colburn's assurance that
he could not encourage me in the career I had commenced. I would
have bet twenty to one against my own success. But by continuing
I could lose only pen and paper; and if the one chance in twenty
did turn up in my favour, then how much might I win!




I had at once gone to work on a third novel, and had nearly
completed it, when I was informed of the absolute failure of the
former. I find, however, that the agreement for its publication was
not made till 1850, by which time I imagine that Mr. Colburn must
have forgotten the disastrous result of The O'Kellys, as he thereby
agrees to give me 20 down for my "new historical novel, to be
called La Vendee." He agreed also to pay me 30 more when he had
sold 350 copies, and 50 more should he sell 450 within six months. I
got my 20, and then heard no more of a Vendee, not even receiving
any account. Perhaps the historical title had appeared more alluring
to him than an Irish subject; though it was not long afterwards that
I received a warning from the very same house of business against
historical novels,--as I will tell at length when the proper time

I have no doubt that the result of the sale of this story was
no better than that of the two that had gone before. I asked no
questions, however, and to this day have received no information.
The story is certainly inferior to those which had gone before;--chiefly
because I knew accurately the life of the people in Ireland, and
knew, in truth, nothing of life in the La Vendee country, and also
because the facts of the present time came more within the limits
of my powers of story-telling than those of past years. But I read
the book the other day, and am not ashamed of it. The conception
as to the feeling of the people is, I think, true; the characters
are distinct, and the tale is not dull. As far as I can remember,
this morsel of criticism is the only one that was ever written on
the book.

I had, however, received 20. Alas! alas! years were to roll by
before I should earn by my pen another shilling. And, indeed, I
was well aware that I had not earned that; but that the money had
been "talked out of" the worthy publisher by the earnestness of
my brother, who made the bargain for me. I have known very much
of publishers and have been surprised by much in their mode of
business,--by the apparent lavishness and by the apparent hardness
to authors in the same men,--but by nothing so much as by the ease
with which they can occasionally be persuaded to throw away small
sums of money. If you will only make the payment future instead of
present, you may generally twist a few pounds in your own or your
client's favour. "You might as well promise her 20. This day six
months will do very well." The publisher, though he knows that the
money will never come back to him, thinks it worth his while to
rid himself of your importunity at so cheap a price.

But while I was writing La Vendee I made a literary attempt in
another direction. In 1847 and 1848 there had come upon Ireland
the desolation and destruction, first of the famine, and then of
the pestilence which succeeded the famine. It was my duty at that
time to be travelling constantly in those parts of Ireland in which
the misery and troubles thence arising were, perhaps, at their
worst. The western parts of Cork, Kerry, and Clare were pre-eminently
unfortunate. The efforts,--I may say, the successful efforts,--made
by the Government to stay the hands of death will still be in the
remembrance of many:--how Sir Robert Peel was instigated to repeal the
Corn Laws; and how, subsequently, Lord John Russell took measures
for employing the people, and supplying the country with Indian
corn. The expediency of these latter measures was questioned by
many. The people themselves wished, of course, to be fed without
working; and the gentry, who were mainly responsible for the rates,
were disposed to think that the management of affairs was taken
too much out of their own hands. My mind at the time was busy with
the matter, and, thinking that the Government was right, I was
inclined to defend them as far as my small powers went. S. G. O.
(Lord Sydney Godolphin Osborne) was at that time denouncing the
Irish scheme of the Administration in the Times, using very strong
language,--as those who remember his style will know. I fancied
then,--as I still think,--that I understood the country much better
than he did; and I was anxious to show that the steps taken for
mitigating the terrible evil of the times were the best which the
Minister of the day could have adopted. In 1848 I was in London,
and, full of my purpose, I presented myself to Mr. John Forster,--who
has since been an intimate and valued friend,--but who was at that
time the editor of the Examiner. I think that that portion of the
literary world which understands the fabrication of newspapers
will admit that neither before his time, nor since, has there been
a more capable editor of a weekly newspaper. As a literary man, he
was not without his faults. That which the cabman is reported to
have said of him before the magistrate is quite true. He was always
"an arbitrary cove." As a critic, he belonged to the school of
Bentley and Gifford,--who would always bray in a literary mortar
all critics who disagreed from them, as though such disagreement
were a personal offence requiring personal castigation. But that
very eagerness made him a good editor. Into whatever he did he put
his very heart and soul. During his time the Examiner was almost
all that a Liberal weekly paper should be. So to John Forster I
went, and was shown into that room in Lincoln's Inn Fields in which,
some three or four years earlier, Dickens had given that reading of
which there is an illustration with portraits in the second volume
of his life.

At this time I knew no literary men. A few I had met when living
with my mother, but that had been now so long ago that all such
acquaintance had died out. I knew who they were as far as a man
could get such knowledge from the papers of the day, and felt myself
as in part belonging to the guild, through my mother, and in some
degree by my own unsuccessful efforts. But it was not probable that
any one would admit my claim;--nor on this occasion did I make any
claim. I stated my name and official position, and the fact that
opportunities had been given me of seeing the poorhouses in Ireland,
and of making myself acquainted with the circumstances of the
time. Would a series of letters on the subject be accepted by the
Examiner? The great man, who loomed very large to me, was pleased
to say that if the letters should recommend themselves by their
style and matter, if they were not too long, and if,--every reader
will know how on such occasions an editor will guard himself,--if
this and if that, they should be favourably entertained. They were
favourably entertained,--if printing and publication be favourable
entertainment. But I heard no more of them. The world in Ireland
did not declare that the Government had at last been adequately
defended, nor did the treasurer of the Examiner send me a cheque
in return.

Whether there ought to have been a cheque I do not even yet know.
A man who writes a single letter to a newspaper, of course, is not
paid for it,--nor for any number of letters on some point personal
to himself. I have since written sets of letters to newspapers, and
have been paid for them; but then I have bargained for a price. On
this occasion I had hopes; but they never ran high, and I was not
much disappointed. I have no copy now of those letters, and could
not refer to them without much trouble; nor do I remember what I
said. But I know that I did my best in writing them.

When my historical novel failed, as completely as had its predecessors,
the two Irish novels, I began to ask myself whether, after all,
that was my proper line. I had never thought of questioning the
justice of the verdict expressed against me. The idea that I was
the unfortunate owner of unappreciated genius never troubled me. I
did not look at the books after they were published, feeling sure
that they had been, as it were, damned with good reason. But still
I was clear in my mind that I would not lay down my pen. Then and
therefore I determined to change my hand, and to attempt a play.
I did attempt the play, and in 1850 I wrote a comedy, partly in
blank verse, and partly in prose, called The Noble Jilt. The plot
I afterwards used in a novel called Can You Forgive Her? I believe
that I did give the best of my intellect to the play, and I must
own that when it was completed it pleased me much. I copied it,
and re-copied it, touching it here and touching it there, and then
sent it to my very old friend, George Bartley, the actor, who had
when I was in London been stage-manager of one of the great theatres,
and who would, I thought, for my own sake and for my mother's, give
me the full benefit of his professional experience.

I have now before me the letter which he wrote to me,--a letter
which I have read a score of times. It was altogether condemnatory.
"When I commenced," he said, "I had great hopes of your production.
I did not think it opened dramatically, but that might have been
remedied." I knew then that it was all over. But, as my old friend
warmed to the subject, the criticism became stronger and stronger,
till my ears tingled. At last came the fatal blow. "As to the
character of your heroine, I felt at a loss how to describe it,
but you have done it for me in the last speech of Madame Brudo."
Madame Brudo was the heroine's aunt. "'Margaret, my child, never
play the jilt again; 'tis a most unbecoming character. Play it
with what skill you will, it meets but little sympathy.' And this,
be assured, would be its effect upon an audience. So that I must
reluctantly add that, had I been still a manager, The Noble Jilt
is not a play I could have recommended for production." This was a
blow that I did feel. The neglect of a book is a disagreeable fact
which grows upon an author by degrees. There is no special moment
of agony,--no stunning violence of condemnation. But a piece of
criticism such as this, from a friend, and from a man undoubtedly
capable of forming an opinion, was a blow in the face! But I
accepted the judgment loyally, and said not a word on the subject
to any one. I merely showed the letter to my wife, declaring my
conviction, that it must be taken as gospel. And as critical gospel
it has since been accepted. In later days I have more than once
read the play, and I know that he was right. The dialogue, however,
I think to be good, and I doubt whether some of the scenes be not
the brightest and best work I ever did.

Just at this time another literary project loomed before my eyes,
and for six or eight months had considerable size. I was introduced
to Mr. John Murray, and proposed to him to write a handbook for
Ireland. I explained to him that I knew the country better than
most other people, perhaps better than any other person, and could
do it well. He asked me to make a trial of my skill, and to send
him a certain number of pages, undertaking to give me an answer
within a fortnight after he should have received my work. I came
back to Ireland, and for some weeks I laboured very hard. I "did"
the city of Dublin, and the county of Kerry, in which lies the
lake scenery of Killarney, and I "did" the route from Dublin to
Killarney, altogether completing nearly a quarter of the proposed
volume. The roll of MS. was sent to Albemarle Street,--but was never
opened. At the expiration of nine months from the date on which it
reached that time-honoured spot it was returned without a word, in
answer to a very angry letter from myself. I insisted on having
back my property,--and got it. I need hardly say that my property
has never been of the slightest use to me. In all honesty I think
that had he been less dilatory, John Murray would have got a very
good Irish Guide at a cheap rate.

Early in 1851 I was sent upon a job of special official work, which
for two years so completely absorbed my time that I was able to
write nothing. A plan was formed for extending the rural delivery
of letters, and for adjusting the work, which up to that time had
been done in a very irregular manner. A country letter-carrier
would be sent in one direction in which there were but few letters
to be delivered, the arrangement having originated probably at
the request of some influential person, while in another direction
there was no letter-carrier because no influential person had exerted
himself. It was intended to set this right throughout England,
Ireland, and Scotland; and I quickly did the work in the Irish
district to which I was attached. I was then invited to do the same
in a portion of England, and I spent two of the happiest years of
my life at the task. I began in Devonshire; and visited, I think
I may say, every nook in that county, in Cornwall, Somersetshire,
the greater part of Dorsetshire, the Channel Islands, part of
Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire,
Monmouthshire, and the six southern Welsh counties. In this way I
had an opportunity of seeing a considerable portion of Great Britain,
with a minuteness which few have enjoyed. And I did my business
after a fashion in which no other official man has worked at
least for many years. I went almost everywhere on horseback. I had
two hunters of my own, and here and there, where I could, I hired
a third horse. I had an Irish groom with me,--an old man, who has
now been in my service for thirty-five years; and in this manner I
saw almost every house--I think I may say every house of importance--in
this large district. The object was to create a postal network
which should catch all recipients of letters. In France it was, and
I suppose still is, the practice to deliver every letter. Wherever
the man may live to whom a letter is addressed, it is the duty of
some letter-carrier to take that letter to his house, sooner or
later. But this, of course, must be done slowly. With us a delivery
much delayed was thought to be worse than none at all. In some places
we did establish posts three times a week, and perhaps occasionally
twice a week; but such halting arrangements were considered to
be objectionable, and we were bound down by a salutary law as to
expense, which came from our masters at the Treasury. We were not
allowed to establish any messenger's walk on which a sufficient
number of letters would not be delivered to pay the man's wages,
counted at a halfpenny a letter. But then the counting was in our
own hands, and an enterprising official might be sanguine in his
figures. I think I was sanguine. I did not prepare false accounts;
but I fear that the postmasters and clerks who absolutely had the
country to do became aware that I was anxious for good results.
It is amusing to watch how a passion will grow upon a man. During
those two years it was the ambition of my life to cover the country
with rural letter-carriers. I do not remember that in any case a
rural post proposed by me was negatived by the authorities; but I
fear that some of them broke down afterwards as being too poor, or
because, in my anxiety to include this house and that, I had sent
the men too far afield. Our law was that a man should not be required
to walk more than sixteen miles a day. Had the work to be done been
all on a measured road, there would have been no need for doubt as
to the distances. But my letter-carriers went here and there across
the fields. It was my special delight to take them by all short
cuts; and as I measured on horseback the short cuts which they would
have to make on foot, perhaps I was sometimes a little unjust to

All this I did on horseback, riding on an average forty miles a
day. I was paid sixpence a mile for the distance travelled, and it
was necessary that I should at any rate travel enough to pay for
my equipage. This I did, and got my hunting out of it also. I have
often surprised some small country postmaster, who had never seen
or heard of me before, by coming down upon him at nine in the
morning, with a red coat and boots and breeches, and interrogating
him as to the disposal of every letter which came into his office.
And in the same guise I would ride up to farmhouses, or parsonages,
or other lone residences about the country, and ask the people how
they got their letters, at what hour, and especially whether they
were delivered free or at a certain charge. For a habit had crept
into use, which came to be, in my eyes, at that time, the one sin
for which there was no pardon, in accordance with which these rural
letter-carriers used to charge a penny a letter, alleging that the
house was out of their beat, and that they must be paid for their
extra work. I think that I did stamp out that evil. In all these
visits I was, in truth, a beneficent angel to the public, bringing
everywhere with me an earlier, cheaper, and much more regular delivery
of letters. But not unfrequently the angelic nature of my mission
was imperfectly understood. I was perhaps a little in a hurry to
get on, and did not allow as much time as was necessary to explain
to the wondering mistress of the house, or to an open-mouthed farmer,
why it was that a man arrayed for hunting asked so many questions
which might be considered impertinent, as applying to his or her
private affairs. "Good-morning, sir. I have just called to ask a
few questions. I am a surveyor of the Post Office. How do you get
your letters? As I am a little in a hurry, perhaps you can explain
at once." Then I would take out my pencil and notebook, and wait
for information. And in fact there was no other way in which the
truth could be ascertained. Unless I came down suddenly as a summer's
storm upon them, the very people who were robbed by our messengers
would not confess the robbery, fearing the ill-will of the men. It
was necessary to startle them into the revelations which I required
them to make for their own good. And I did startle them. I became
thoroughly used to it, and soon lost my native bashfulness;--but
sometimes my visits astonished the retiring inhabitants of country
houses. I did, however, do my work, and can look back upon what I
did with thorough satisfaction. I was altogether in earnest; and
I believe that many a farmer now has his letters brought daily to
his house free of charge, who but for me would still have had to
send to the post-town for them twice a week, or to have paid a man
for bringing them irregularly to his door.

This work took up my time so completely, and entailed upon me so
great an amount of writing, that I was in fact unable to do any
literary work. From day to day I thought of it, still purporting
to make another effort, and often turning over in my head some
fragment of a plot which had occurred to me. But the day did not
come in which I could sit down with my pen and paper and begin
another novel. For, after all, what could it be but a novel? The
play had failed more absolutely than the novels, for the novels
had attained the honour of print. The cause of this pressure of
official work lay, not in the demands of the General Post Office,
which more than once expressed itself as astonished by my celerity,
but in the necessity which was incumbent on me to travel miles
enough to pay for my horses, and upon the amount of correspondence,
returns, figures, and reports which such an amount of daily travelling
brought with it. I may boast that the work was done very quickly
and very thoroughly,--with no fault but an over-eagerness to extend
postal arrangements far and wide.

In the course of the job I visited Salisbury, and whilst wandering
there one mid-summer evening round the purlieus of the cathedral I
conceived the story of The Warden,--from whence came that series of
novels of which Barchester, with its bishops, deans, and archdeacon,
was the central site. I may as well declare at once that no one
at their commencement could have had less reason than myself to
presume himself to be able to write about clergymen. I have been
often asked in what period of my early life I had lived so long
in a cathedral city as to have become intimate with the ways of a
Close. I never lived in any cathedral city,--except London, never
knew anything of any Close, and at that time had enjoyed no peculiar
intimacy with any clergyman. My archdeacon, who has been said to be
life-like, and for whom I confess that I have all a parent's fond
affection, was, I think, the simple result of an effort of my moral
consciousness. It was such as that, in my opinion, that an archdeacon
should be,--or, at any rate, would be with such advantages as
an archdeacon might have; and lo! an archdeacon was produced, who
has been declared by competent authorities to be a real archdeacon
down to the very ground. And yet, as far as I can remember, I had
not then even spoken to an archdeacon. I have felt the compliment
to be very great. The archdeacon came whole from my brain after
this fashion;--but in writing about clergymen generally, I had to
pick up as I went whatever I might know or pretend to know about
them. But my first idea had no reference to clergymen in general.
I had been struck by two opposite evils,--or what seemed to me to
be evils,--and with an absence of all art-judgment in such matters, I
thought that I might be able to expose them, or rather to describe
them, both in one and the same tale. The first evil was the
possession by the Church of certain funds and endowments which had
been intended for charitable purposes, but which had been allowed
to become incomes for idle Church dignitaries. There had been more
than one such case brought to public notice at the time, in which
there seemed to have been an egregious malversation of charitable
purposes. The second evil was its very opposite. Though I had been
much struck by the injustice above described, I had also often
been angered by the undeserved severity of the newspapers towards
the recipients of such incomes, who could hardly be considered
to be the chief sinners in the matter. When a man is appointed to
a place, it is natural that he should accept the income allotted
to that place without much inquiry. It is seldom that he will be
the first to find out that his services are overpaid. Though he be
called upon only to look beautiful and to be dignified upon State
occasions, he will think 2000 a year little enough for such beauty
and dignity as he brings to the task. I felt that there had been
some tearing to pieces which might have been spared. But I was
altogether wrong in supposing that the two things could be combined.
Any writer in advocating a cause must do so after the fashion of
an advocate,--or his writing will be ineffective. He should take up
one side and cling to that, and then he may be powerful. There should
be no scruples of conscience. Such scruples make a man impotent for
such work. It was open to me to have described a bloated parson,
with a red nose and all other iniquities, openly neglecting every
duty required from him, and living riotously on funds purloined
from the poor,--defying as he did do so the moderate remonstrances
of a virtuous press. Or I might have painted a man as good, as sweet,
and as mild as my warden, who should also have been a hard-working,
ill-paid minister of God's word, and might have subjected him to the
rancorous venom of some daily Jupiter, who, without a leg to stand
on, without any true case, might have been induced, by personal
spite, to tear to rags the poor clergyman with poisonous, anonymous,
and ferocious leading articles. But neither of these programmes
recommended itself to my honesty. Satire, though it may exaggerate
the vice it lashes, is not justified in creating it in order that
it may be lashed. Caricature may too easily become a slander, and
satire a libel. I believed in the existence neither of the red-nosed
clerical cormorant, nor in that of the venomous assassin of the
journals. I did believe that through want of care and the natural
tendency of every class to take care of itself, money had slipped
into the pockets of certain clergymen which should have gone
elsewhere; and I believed also that through the equally natural
propensity of men to be as strong as they know how to be, certain
writers of the press had allowed themselves to use language which
was cruel, though it was in a good cause. But the two objects
should not have been combined--and I now know myself well enough
to be aware that I was not the man to have carried out either of

Nevertheless I thought much about it, and on the 29th of July,
1853,--having been then two years without having made any literary
effort,--I began The Warden, at Tenbury in Worcestershire. It was
then more than twelve months since I had stood for an hour on the
little bridge in Salisbury, and had made out to my own satisfaction
the spot on which Hiram's hospital should stand. Certainly no work
that I ever did took up so much of my thoughts. On this occasion
I did no more than write the first chapter, even if so much. I had
determined that my official work should be moderated, so as to allow
me some time for writing; but then, just at this time, I was sent
to take the postal charge of the northern counties in Ireland,--of
Ulster, and the counties Meath and Louth. Hitherto in official
language I had been a surveyor's clerk,--now I was to be a surveyor.
The difference consisted mainly in an increase of income from about
450 to about 800;--for at that time the sum netted still depended
on the number of miles travelled. Of course that English work
to which I had become so warmly wedded had to be abandoned. Other
parts of England were being done by other men, and I had nearly
finished the area which had been entrusted to me. I should have
liked to ride over the whole country, and to have sent a rural
post letter-carrier to every parish, every village, every hamlet,
and every grange in England.

We were at this time very much unsettled as regards any residence.
While we were living at Clonmel two sons had been born, who certainly
were important enough to have been mentioned sooner. At Clonmel we
had lived in lodgings, and from there had moved to Mallow, a town
in the county Cork, where we had taken a house. Mallow was in the
centre of a hunting country, and had been very pleasant to me. But
our house there had been given up when it was known that I should
be detained in England; and then we had wandered about in the western
counties, moving our headquarters from one town to another. During
this time we had lived at Exeter, at Bristol, at Caermarthen,
at Cheltenham, and at Worcester. Now we again moved, and settled
ourselves for eighteen months at Belfast. After that we took a
house at Donnybrook, the well-known suburb of Dublin.

The work of taking up a new district, which requires not only that
the man doing it should know the nature of the postal arrangements,
but also the characters and the peculiarities of the postmasters
and their clerks, was too heavy to allow of my going on with my
book at once. It was not till the end of 1852 that I recommenced it,
and it was in the autumn of 1853 that I finished the work. It was
only one small volume, and in later days would have been completed
in six weeks,--or in two months at the longest, if other work had
pressed. On looking at the title-page, I find it was not published
till 1855. I had made acquaintance, through my friend John Merivale,
with William Longman the publisher, and had received from him an
assurance that the manuscript should be "looked at." It was "looked
at," and Messrs. Longman made me an offer to publish it at half
profits. I had no reason to love "half profits," but I was very
anxious to have my book published, and I acceded. It was now more
than ten years since I had commenced writing The Macdermots, and
I thought that if any success was to be achieved, the time surely
had come. I had not been impatient; but, if there was to be a time,
surely it had come.

The novel-reading world did not go mad about The Warden; but I soon
felt that it had not failed as the others had failed. There were
notices of it in the press, and I could discover that people around
me knew that I had written a book. Mr. Longman was complimentary,
and after a while informed me that there would be profits to divide.
At the end of 1855 I received a cheque for 9 8s. 8d., which was
the first money I had ever earned by literary work;--that 20 which
poor Mr. Colburn had been made to pay certainly never having been
earned at all. At the end of 1856 I received another sum of 10
15s. 1d. The pecuniary success was not great. Indeed, as regarded
remuneration for the time, stone-breaking would have done better.
A thousand copies were printed, of which, after a lapse of five or
six years, about 300 had to be converted into another form, and sold
as belonging to a cheap edition. In its original form The Warden
never reached the essential honour of a second edition.

I have already said of the work that it failed altogether in
the purport for which it was intended. But it has a merit of its
own,--a merit by my own perception of which I was enabled to see
wherein lay whatever strength I did possess. The characters of the
bishop, of the archdeacon, of the archdeacon's wife, and especially
of the warden, are all well and clearly drawn. I had realised to
myself a series of portraits, and had been able so to put them on
the canvas that my readers should see that which I meant them to
see. There is no gift which an author can have more useful to him
than this. And the style of the English was good, though from most
unpardonable carelessness the grammar was not unfrequently faulty.
With such results I had no doubt but that I would at once begin
another novel.

I will here say one word as a long-deferred answer to an item of
criticism which appeared in the Times newspaper as to The Warden.
In an article-if I remember rightly--on The Warden and Barchester
Towers combined--which I would call good-natured, but that I take
it for granted that the critics of the Times are actuated by higher
motives than good-nature, that little book and its sequel are spoken
of in terms which were very pleasant to the author. But there was
added to this a gentle word of rebuke at the morbid condition of the
author's mind which had prompted him to indulge in personalities,--the
personalities in question having reference to some editor or manager
of the Times newspaper. For I had introduced one Tom Towers as being
potent among the contributors to the Jupiter, under which name I
certainly did allude to the Times. But at that time, living away in
Ireland, I had not even heard the name of any gentleman connected
with the Times newspaper, and could not have intended to represent
any individual by Tom Towers. As I had created an archdeacon, so had
I created a journalist, and the one creation was no more personal
or indicative of morbid tendencies than the other. If Tom Towers
was at all like any gentleman connected with the Times, my moral
consciousness must again have been very powerful.




It was, I think, before I started on my English tours among the
rural posts that I made my first attempt at writing for a magazine.
I had read, soon after they came out, the two first volumes of
Charles Menvale's History of the Romans under the Empire, and had
got into some correspondence with the author's brother as to the
author's views about Caesar. Hence arose in my mind a tendency to
investigate the character of probably the greatest man who ever
lived, which tendency in after years produced a little book of
which I shall have to speak when its time comes,--and also a taste
generally for Latin literature, which has been one of the chief
delights of my later life. And I may say that I became at this time
as anxious about Caesar, and as desirous of reaching the truth as
to his character, as we have all been in regard to Bismarck in these
latter days. I lived in Caesar, and debated with myself constantly
whether he crossed the Rubicon as a tyrant or as a patriot. In
order that I might review Mr. Merivale's book without feeling that
I was dealing unwarrantably with a subject beyond me, I studied the
Commentaries thoroughly, and went through a mass of other reading
which the object of a magazine article hardly justified,--but which
has thoroughly justified itself in the subsequent pursuits of my
life. I did write two articles, the first mainly on Julius Caesar,
and the second on Augustus, which appeared in the Dublin University
Magazine. They were the result of very much labour, but there came
from them no pecuniary product. I had been very modest when I sent
them to the editor, as I had been when I called on John Forster,
not venturing to suggest the subject of money. After a while I did
call upon the proprietor of the magazine in Dublin, and was told
by him that such articles were generally written to oblige friends,
and that articles written to oblige friends were not usually paid
for. The Dean of Ely, as the author of the work in question now
is, was my friend; but I think I was wronged, as I certainly had
no intention of obliging him by my criticism. Afterwards, when I
returned to Ireland, I wrote other articles for the same magazine,
one of which, intended to be very savage in its denunciation, was
on an official blue-book just then brought out, preparatory to the
introduction of competitive examinations for the Civil Service. For
that and some other article, I now forget what, I was paid. Up to
the end of 1857 I had received 55 for the hard work of ten years.

It was while I was engaged on Barchester Towers that I adopted a
system of writing which, for some years afterwards, I found to be
very serviceable to me. My time was greatly occupied in travelling,
and the nature of my travelling was now changed. I could not
any longer do it on horseback. Railroads afforded me my means of
conveyance, and I found that I passed in railway-carriages very
many hours of my existence. Like others, I used to read,--though
Carlyle has since told me that a man when travelling should not
read, but "sit still and label his thoughts." But if I intended
to make a profitable business out of my writing, and, at the same
time, to do my best for the Post Office, I must turn these hours
to more account than I could do even by reading. I made for myself
therefore a little tablet, and found after a few days' exercise
that I could write as quickly in a railway-carriage as I could at
my desk. I worked with a pencil, and what I wrote my wife copied
afterwards. In this way was composed the greater part of Barchester
Towers and of the novel which succeeded it, and much also of others
subsequent to them. My only objection to the practice came from
the appearance of literary ostentation, to which I felt myself to
be subject when going to work before four or five fellow-passengers.
But I got used to it, as I had done to the amazement of the west
country farmers' wives when asking them after their letters.

In the writing of Barchester Towers I took great delight. The bishop
and Mrs. Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles
of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr. Slope. When it was done,
Mr. W. Longman required that it should be subjected to his reader;
and he returned the MS. to me, with a most laborious and voluminous
criticism,--coming from whom I never knew. This was accompanied
by an offer to print the novel on the half-profit system, with a
payment of 100 in advance out of my half-profits,--on condition
that I would comply with the suggestions made by his critic. One
of these suggestions required that I should cut the novel down to
two volumes. In my reply, I went through the criticisms, rejecting
one and accepting another, almost alternately, but declaring at
last that no consideration should induce me to cut out a third of
my work. I am at a loss to know how such a task could have been
performed. I could burn the MS., no doubt, and write another book
on the same story; but how two words out of six are to be withdrawn
from a written novel, I cannot conceive. I believe such tasks have
been attempted--perhaps performed; but I refused to make even the
attempt. Mr. Longman was too gracious to insist on his critic's
terms; and the book was published, certainly none the worse, and
I do not think much the better, for the care that had been taken
with it.

The work succeeded just as The Warden had succeeded. It achieved
no great reputation, but it was one of the novels which novel
readers were called upon to read. Perhaps I may be assuming upon
myself more than I have a right to do in saying now that Barchester
Towers has become one of those novels which do not die quite at once,
which live and are read for perhaps a quarter of a century; but if
that be so, its life has been so far prolonged by the vitality of
some of its younger brothers. Barchester Towers would hardly be
so well known as it is had there been no Framley Parsonage and no
Last Chronicle of Barset.

I received my 100, in advance, with profound delight. It was a
positive and most welcome increase to my income, and might probably
be regarded as a first real step on the road to substantial success.
I am well aware that there are many who think that an author in his
authorship should not regard money,--nor a painter, or sculptor, or
composer in his art. I do not know that this unnatural sacrifice
is supposed to extend itself further. A barrister, a clergyman, a
doctor, an engineer, and even actors and architects, may without
disgrace follow the bent of human nature, and endeavour to fill
their bellies and clothe their backs, and also those of their wives
and children, as comfortably as they can by the exercise of their
abilities and their crafts. They may be as rationally realistic,
as may the butchers and the bakers; but the artist and the author
forget the high glories of their calling if they condescend to make
a money return a first object. They who preach this doctrine will
be much offended by my theory, and by this book of mine, if my theory
and my book come beneath their notice. They require the practice
of a so-called virtue which is contrary to nature, and which, in
my eyes, would be no virtue if it were practised. They are like
clergymen who preach sermons against the love of money, but who
know that the love of money is so distinctive a characteristic
of humanity that such sermons are mere platitudes called for by
customary but unintelligent piety. All material progress has come
from man's desire to do the best he can for himself and those
about him, and civilisation and Christianity itself have been made
possible by such progress. Though we do not all of us argue this
matter out within our breasts, we do all feel it; and we know that
the more a man earns the more useful he is to his fellow-men. The
most useful lawyers, as a rule, have been those who have made the
greatest incomes,--and it is the same with the doctors. It would
be the same in the Church if they who have the choosing of bishops
always chose the best man. And it has in truth been so too in art
and authorship. Did Titian or Rubens disregard their pecuniary
rewards? As far as we know, Shakespeare worked always for money,
giving the best of his intellect to support his trade as an actor.
In our own century what literary names stand higher than those of
Byron, Tennyson, Scott, Dickens, Macaulay, and Carlyle? And I think
I may say that none of those great men neglected the pecuniary result
of their labours. Now and then a man may arise among us who in any
calling, whether it be in law, in physic, in religious teaching,
in art, or literature, may in his professional enthusiasm utterly
disregard money. All will honour his enthusiasm, and if he be
wifeless and childless, his disregard of the great object of men's
work will be blameless. But it is a mistake to suppose that a man
is a better man because he despises money. Few do so, and those few
in doing so suffer a defeat. Who does not desire to be hospitable
to his friends, generous to the poor, liberal to all, munificent
to his children, and to be himself free from the casking fear which
poverty creates? The subject will not stand an argument;--and yet
authors are told that they should disregard payment for their work,
and be content to devote their unbought brains to the welfare of
the public. Brains that are unbought will never serve the public
much. Take away from English authors their copyrights, and you
would very soon take away from England her authors.

I say this here, because it is my purpose as I go on to state what
to me has been the result of my profession in the ordinary way in
which professions are regarded, so that by my example may be seen
what prospect there is that a man devoting himself to literature
with industry, perseverance, certain necessary aptitudes, and fair
average talents, may succeed in gaining a livelihood, as another man
does in another profession. The result with me has been comfortable
but not splendid, as I think was to have been expected from the
combination of such gifts.

I have certainly always had also before my eyes the charms of
reputation. Over and above the money view of the question, I wished
from the beginning to be something more than a clerk in the Post
Office. To be known as somebody,--to be Anthony Trollope if it be
no more,--is to me much. The feeling is a very general one, and
I think beneficent. It is that which has been called the "last
infirmity of noble mind." The infirmity is so human that the man who
lacks it is either above or below humanity. I own to the infirmity.
But I confess that my first object in taking to literature as a
profession was that which is common to the barrister when he goes
to the Bar, and to the baker when he sets up his oven. I wished to
make an income on which I and those belonging to me might live in

If indeed a man writes his books badly, or paints his pictures
badly, because he can make his money faster in that fashion than
by doing them well, and at the same time proclaims them to be the
best he can do,--if in fact he sells shoddy for broadcloth,--he
is dishonest, as is any other fraudulent dealer. So may be the
barrister who takes money that he does not earn, or the clergyman
who is content to live on a sinecure. No doubt the artist or the
author may have a difficulty which will not occur to the seller of
cloth, in settling within himself what is good work and what is
bad,--when labour enough has been given, and when the task has been
scamped. It is a danger as to which he is bound to be severe with
himself--in which he should feel that his conscience should be set
fairly in the balance against the natural bias of his interest. If
he do not do so, sooner or later his dishonesty will be discovered,
and will be estimated accordingly. But in this he is to be governed
only by the plain rules of honesty which should govern us all.
Having said so much, I shall not scruple as I go on to attribute
to the pecuniary result of my labours all the importance which I
felt them to have at the time.

Barchester Towers, for which I had received 100 in advance, sold
well enough to bring me further payments--moderate payments--from
the publishers. From that day up to this very time in which I am
writing, that book and The Warden together have given me almost
every year some small income. I get the accounts very regularly,
and I find that I have received 727 11S. 3d. for the two. It is
more than I got for the three or four works that came afterwards,
but the payments have been spread over twenty years.

When I went to Mr. Longman with my next novel, The Three Clerks,
in my hand, I could not induce him to understand that a lump sum
down was more pleasant than a deferred annuity. I wished him to
buy it from me at a price which he might think to be a fair value,
and I argued with him that as soon as an author has put himself into
a position which insures a sufficient sale of his works to give a
profit, the publisher is not entitled to expect the half of such
proceeds. While there is a pecuniary risk, the whole of which must
be borne by the publisher, such division is fair enough; but such
a demand on the part of the publisher is monstrous as soon as the
article produced is known to be a marketable commodity. I thought
that I had now reached that point, but Mr. Longman did not agree with
me. And he endeavoured to convince me that I might lose more than
I gained, even though I should get more money by going elsewhere.
"It is for you," said he, "to think whether our names on your
title-page are not worth more to you than the increased payment."
This seemed to me to savour of that high-flown doctrine of the
contempt of money which I have never admired. I did think much
of Messrs. Longman's name, but I liked it best at the bottom of a

I was also scared from the august columns of Paternoster Row by
a remark made to myself by one of the firm, which seemed to imply
that they did not much care for works of fiction. Speaking of a
fertile writer of tales who was not then dead, he declared that ----
(naming the author in question) had spawned upon them (the publishers)
three novels a year! Such language is perhaps justifiable in regard
to a man who shows so much of the fecundity of the herring; but I
did not know how fruitful might be my own muse, and I thought that
I had better go elsewhere.

I had then written The Three Clerks, which, when I could not sell
it to Messrs. Longman, I took in the first instance to Messrs.
Hurst & Blackett, who had become successors to Mr. Colburn. I had
made an appointment with one of the firm, which, however, that
gentleman was unable to keep. I was on my way from Ireland to Italy,
and had but one day in London in which to dispose of my manuscript.
I sat for an hour in Great Marlborough Street, expecting the return
of the peccant publisher who had broken his tryst, and I was about
to depart with my bundle under my arm when the foreman of the
house came to me. He seemed to think it a pity that I should go,
and wished me to leave my work with him. This, however, I would not
do, unless he would undertake to buy it then and there. Perhaps he
lacked authority. Perhaps his judgment was against such purchase.
But while we debated the matter, he gave me some advice. "I hope
it's not historical, Mr. Trollope?" he said. "Whatever you do,
don't be historical; your historical novel is not worth a damn."
Thence I took The Three Clerks to Mr. Bentley; and on the same
afternoon succeeded in selling it to him for 250. His son still
possesses it, and the firm has, I believe, done very well with the
purchase. It was certainly the best novel I had as yet written.
The plot is not so good as that of the Macdermots; nor are there
any characters in the book equal to those of Mrs. Proudie and the
Warden; but the work has a more continued interest, and contains
the first well-described love-scene that I ever wrote. The passage
in which Kate Woodward, thinking that she will die, tries to take
leave of the lad she loves, still brings tears to my eyes when I
read it. I had not the heart to kill her. I never could do that.
And I do not doubt but that they are living happily together to
this day.

The lawyer Chaffanbrass made his first appearance in this novel,
and I do not think that I have cause to be ashamed of him. But this
novel now is chiefly noticeable to me from the fact that in it I
introduced a character under the name of Sir Gregory Hardlines, by
which I intended to lean very heavily on that much loathed scheme
of competitive examination, of which at that time Sir Charles
Trevelyan was the great apostle. Sir Gregory Hardlines was intended
for Sir Charles Trevelyan,--as any one at the time would know who
had taken an interest in the Civil Service. "We always call him
Sir Gregory," Lady Trevelyan said to me afterwards, when I came
to know her and her husband. I never learned to love competitive
examination; but I became, and am, very fond of Sir Charles Trevelyan.
Sir Stafford Northcote, who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer,
was then leagued with his friend Sir Charles, and he too appears
in The Three Clerks under the feebly facetious name of Sir Warwick
West End.

But for all that The Three Clerks was a good novel.

When that sale was made I was on my way to Italy with my wife,
paying a third visit there to my mother and brother. This was in
1857, and she had then given up her pen. It was the first year in
which she had not written, and she expressed to me her delight that
her labours should be at an end, and that mine should be beginning
in the same field. In truth they had already been continued for
a dozen years, but a man's career will generally be held to date
itself from the commencement of his success. On those foreign
tours I always encountered adventures, which, as I look back upon
them now, tempt me almost to write a little book of my long past
Continental travels. On this occasion, as we made our way slowly
through Switzerland and over the Alps, we encountered again and
again a poor forlorn Englishman, who had no friend and no aptitude
for travelling. He was always losing his way, and finding himself
with no seat in the coaches and no bed at the inns. On one occasion
I found him at Coire seated at 5 A. M. in the coupe of a diligence
which was intended to start at noon for the Engadine, while it was
his purpose to go over the Alps in another which was to leave at
5.30, and which was already crowded with passengers. "Ah!" he said,
"I am in time now, and nobody shall turn me out of this seat,"
alluding to former little misfortunes of which I had been a witness.
When I explained to him his position, he was as one to whom life
was too bitter to be borne. But he made his way into Italy, and
encountered me again at the Pitti Palace in Florence. "Can you
tell me something?" he said to me in a whisper, having touched my
shoulder. "The people are so ill-natured I don't like to ask them.
Where is it they keep the Medical Venus?" I sent him to the Uffizzi,
but I fear he was disappointed.

We ourselves, however, on entering Milan had been in quite as much
distress as any that he suffered. We had not written for beds,
and on driving up to a hotel at ten in the evening found it full.
Thence we went from one hotel to another, finding them all full.
The misery is one well known to travellers, but I never heard of
another case in which a man and his wife were told at midnight to
get out of the conveyance into the middle of the street because the
horse could not be made to go any further. Such was our condition.
I induced the driver, however, to go again to the hotel which was
nearest to him, and which was kept by a German. Then I bribed the
porter to get the master to come down to me; and, though my French
is ordinarily very defective, I spoke with such eloquence to
that German innkeeper that he, throwing his arms round my neck in
a transport of compassion, swore that he would never leave me nor
my wife till he had put us to bed. And he did so; but, ah! there
were so many in those beds! It is such an experience as this which
teaches a travelling foreigner how different on the Continent is
the accommodation provided for him, from that which is supplied
for the inhabitants of the country.

It was on a previous visit to Milan, when the telegraph-wires were
only just opened to the public by the Austrian authorities, that
we had decided one day at dinner that we would go to Verona that
night. There was a train at six, reaching Verona at midnight, and
we asked some servant of the hotel to telegraph for us, ordering
supper and beds. The demand seemed to create some surprise; but
we persisted, and were only mildly grieved when we found ourselves
charged twenty zwanzigers for the message. Telegraphy was new at
Milan, and the prices were intended to be almost prohibitory. We
paid our twenty zwanzigers and went on, consoling ourselves with the
thought of our ready supper and our assured beds. When we reached
Verona, there arose a great cry along the platform for Signor
Trollope. I put out my head and declared my identity, when I
was waited upon by a glorious personage dressed like a beau for a
ball, with half-a-dozen others almost as glorious behind him, who
informed me, with his hat in his hand, that he was the landlord of
the "Due Torre." It was a heating moment, but it became more hot
when he asked after my people,--"mes gens." I could only turn round,
and point to my wife and brother-in-law. I had no other "people."
There were three carriages provided for us, each with a pair of
grey horses. When we reached the house it was all lit up. We were
not allowed to move without an attendant with a lighted candle. It
was only gradually that the mistake came to be understood. On us
there was still the horror of the bill, the extent of which could
not be known till the hour of departure had come. The landlord,
however, had acknowledged to himself that his inductions had been
ill-founded, and he treated us with clemency. He had never before
received a telegram.

I apologise for these tales, which are certainly outside my purpose,
and will endeavour to tell no more that shall not have a closer
relation to my story. I had finished The Three Clerks just before
I left England, and when in Florence was cudgelling my brain for
a new plot. Being then with my brother, I asked him to sketch me a
plot, and he drew out that of my next novel, called Doctor Thorne.
I mention this particularly, because it was the only occasion in
which I have had recourse to some other source than my own brains
for the thread of a story. How far I may unconsciously have adopted
incidents from what I have read,--either from history or from works
of imagination,--I do not know. It is beyond question that a man
employed as I have been must do so. But when doing it I have not
been aware that I have done it. I have never taken another man's
work, and deliberately framed my work upon it. I am far from
censuring this practice in others. Our greatest masters in works
of imagination have obtained such aid for themselves. Shakespeare
dug out of such quarries whenever he could find them. Ben Jonson,
with heavier hand, built up his structures on his studies of
the classics, not thinking it beneath him to give, without direct
acknowledgment, whole pieces translated both from poets and
historians. But in those days no such acknowledgment was usual.
Plagiary existed, and was very common, but was not known as a sin.
It is different now; and I think that an author, when he uses either
the words or the plot of another, should own as much, demanding to
be credited with no more of the work than he has himself produced.
I may say also that I have never printed as my own a word that has
been written by others. [Footnote: I must make one exception to
this declaration. The legal opinion as to heirlooms in The Eustace
Diamonds was written for me by Charles Merewether, the present
Member for Northampton. I am told that it has become the ruling
authority on the subject.] It might probably have been better for
my readers had I done so, as I am informed that Doctor Thorne, the
novel of which I am now speaking, has a larger sale than any other
book of mine.

Early in 1858, while I was writing Doctor Thorne, I was asked by
the great men at the General Post Office to go to Egypt to make a
treaty with the Pasha for the conveyance of our mails through that
country by railway. There was a treaty in existence, but that had
reference to the carriage of bags and boxes by camels from Alexandria
to Suez. Since its date the railway had grown, and was now nearly
completed, and a new treaty was wanted. So I came over from Dublin
to London, on my road, and again went to work among the publishers.
The other novel was not finished; but I thought I had now progressed
far enough to arrange a sale while the work was still on the stocks.
I went to Mr. Bentley and demanded 400,--for the copyright. He
acceded, but came to me the next morning at the General Post Office
to say that it could not be. He had gone to work at his figures
after I had left him, and had found that 300 would be the outside
value of the novel. I was intent upon the larger sum; and in furious
haste,--for I had but an hour at my disposal,--I rushed to Chapman
& Hall in Piccadilly, and said what I had to say to Mr. Edward
Chapman in a quick torrent of words. They were the first of a great
many words which have since been spoken by me in that back-shop.
Looking at me as he might have done at a highway robber who had
stopped him on Hounslow Heath, he said that he supposed he might
as well do as I desired. I considered this to be a sale, and it
was a sale. I remember that he held the poker in his hand all the
time that I was with him;--but in truth, even though he had declined
to buy the book, there would have been no danger.



As I journeyed across France to Marseilles, and made thence a
terribly rough voyage to Alexandria, I wrote my allotted number of
pages every day. On this occasion more than once I left my paper
on the cabin table, rushing away to be sick in the privacy of my
state room. It was February, and the weather was miserable; but
still I did my work. Labor omnia vincit improbus. I do not say that
to all men has been given physical strength sufficient for such
exertion as this, but I do believe that real exertion will enable
most men to work at almost any season. I had previously to this
arranged a system of task-work for myself, which I would strongly
recommend to those who feel as I have felt, that labour, when not
made absolutely obligatory by the circumstances of the hour, should
never be allowed to become spasmodic. There was no day on which
it was my positive duty to write for the publishers, as it was my
duty to write reports for the Post Office. I was free to be idle if
I pleased. But as I had made up my mind to undertake this second
profession, I found it to be expedient to bind myself by certain
self-imposed laws. When I have commenced a new book, I have always
prepared a diary, divided into weeks, and carried it on for the
period which I have allowed myself for the completion of the work.
In this I have entered, day by day, the number of pages I have
written, so that if at any time I have slipped into idleness for
a day or two, the record of that idleness has been there, staring
me in the face, and demanding of me increased labour, so that the
deficiency might be supplied. According to the circumstances of the
time,--whether my other business might be then heavy or light, or
whether the book which I was writing was or was not wanted with
speed,--I have allotted myself so many pages a week. The average
number has been about 40. It has been placed as low as 20, and has
risen to 112. And as a page is an ambiguous term, my page has been
made to contain 250 words; and as words, if not watched, will have
a tendency to straggle, I have had every word counted as I went. In
the bargains I have made with publishers I have,--not, of course,
with their knowledge, but in my own mind,--undertaken always to
supply them with so many words, and I have never put a book out
of hand short of the number by a single word. I may also say that
the excess has been very small. I have prided myself on completing
my work exactly within the proposed dimensions. But I have prided
myself especially in completing it within the proposed time,--and
I have always done so. There has ever been the record before me,
and a week passed with an insufficient number of pages has been a
blister to my eye, and a month so disgraced would have been a sorrow
to my heart.

I have been told that such appliances are beneath the notice of a
man of genius. I have never fancied myself to be a man of genius,
but had I been so I think I might well have subjected myself to
these trammels. Nothing surely is so potent as a law that may not
be disobeyed. It has the force of the water drop that hollows the
stone. A small daily task, If it be really daily, will beat the
labours of a spasmodic Hercules. It is the tortoise which always
catches the hare. The hare has no chance. He loses more time in
glorifying himself for a quick spurt than suffices for the tortoise
to make half his journey.

I have known authors whose lives have always been troublesome and
painful because their tasks have never been done in time. They
have ever been as boys struggling to learn their lessons as they
entered the school gates. Publishers have distrusted them, and they
have failed to write their best because they have seldom written at
ease. I have done double their work--though burdened with another
profession,--and have done it almost without an effort. I have not
once, through all my literary career, felt myself even in danger
of being late with my task. I have known no anxiety as to "copy."
The needed pages far ahead--very far ahead--have almost always
been in the drawer beside me. And that little diary, with its dates
and ruled spaces, its record that must be seen, its daily, weekly
demand upon my industry, has done all that for me.

There are those who would be ashamed to subject themselves to
such a taskmaster, and who think that the man who works with his
imagination should allow himself to wait till--inspiration moves
him. When I have heard such doctrine preached, I have hardly been
able to repress my scorn. To me it would not be more absurd if the
shoemaker were to wait for inspiration, or the tallow-chandler for
the divine moment of melting. If the man whose business it is to
write has eaten too many good things, or has drunk too much, or
smoked too many cigars,--as men who write sometimes will do,--then
his condition may be unfavourable for work; but so will be the
condition of a shoemaker who has been similarly imprudent. I have
sometimes thought that the inspiration wanted has been the remedy
which time will give to the evil results of such imprudence.--Mens
sana in corpore sano. The author wants that as does every other
workman,--that and a habit of industry. I was once told that the
surest aid to the writing of a book was a piece of cobbler's wax on
my chair. I certainly believe in the cobbler's wax much more than
the inspiration.

It will be said, perhaps, that a man whose work has risen to no
higher pitch than mine has attained, has no right to speak of the
strains and impulses to which real genius is exposed. I am ready
to admit the great variations in brain power which are exhibited by
the products of different men, and am not disposed to rank my own
very high; but my own experience tells me that a man can always do
the work for which his brain is fitted if he will give himself the
habit of regarding his work as a normal condition of his life. I
therefore venture to advise young men who look forward to authorship
as the business of their lives, even when they propose that that
authorship be of the highest class known, to avoid enthusiastic
rushes with their pens, and to seat themselves at their desks day
by day as though they were lawyers' clerks;--and so let them sit
until the allotted task shall be accomplished.

While I was in Egypt, I finished Doctor Thorne, and on the following
day began The Bertrams. I was moved now by a determination to excel,
if not in quality, at any rate in quantity. An ignoble ambition
for an author, my readers will no doubt say. But not, I think,
altogether ignoble, if an author can bring himself to look at his
work as does any other workman. This had become my task, this
was the furrow in which my plough was set, this was the thing the
doing of which had fallen into my hands, and I was minded to work
at it with a will. It is not on my conscience that I have ever
scamped my work. My novels, whether good or bad, have been as good
as I could make them. Had I taken three months of idleness between
each they would have been no better. Feeling convinced of that, I
finished Doctor Thorne on one day, and began The Bertrams on the

I had then been nearly two months in Egypt, and had at last
succeeded in settling the terms of a postal treaty. Nearly twenty
years have passed since that time, and other years may yet run on
before these pages are printed. I trust I may commit no official
sin by describing here the nature of the difficulty which met me.
I found, on my arrival, that I was to communicate with an officer
of the Pasha, who was then called Nubar Bey. I presume him to have
been the gentleman who has lately dealt with our Government as to
the Suez Canal shares, and who is now well known to the political
world as Nubar Pasha. I found him a most courteous gentlemen, an
Armenian. I never went to his office, nor do I know that he had an
office. Every other day he would come to me at my hotel, and bring
with him servants, and pipes, and coffee. I enjoyed his coming
greatly; but there was one point on which we could not agree. As
to money and other details, it seemed as though he could hardly
accede fast enough to the wishes of the Postmaster-General; but
on one point he was firmly opposed to me. I was desirous that the
mails should be carried through Egypt in twenty-four hours, and he
thought that forty-eight hours should be allowed. I was obstinate,
and he was obstinate; and for a long time we could come to
no agreement. At last his oriental tranquillity seemed to desert
him, and he took upon himself to assure me, with almost more than
British energy, that, if I insisted on the quick transit, a terrible
responsibility would rest on my head. I made this mistake, he
said,--that I supposed that a rate of travelling which would be
easy and secure in England could be attained with safety in Egypt.
"The Pasha, his master, would," he said, "no doubt accede to
any terms demanded by the British Post Office, so great was his
reverence for everything British. In that case he, Nubar, would at
once resign his position, and retire into obscurity. He would be
ruined; but the loss of life and bloodshed which would certainly
follow so rash an attempt should not be on his head." I smoked my
pipe, or rather his, and drank his coffee, with oriental quiescence
but British firmness. Every now and again, through three or four
visits, I renewed the expression of my opinion that the transit
could easily be made in twenty-four hours. At last he gave way,--and
astonished me by the cordiality of his greeting. There was no
longer any question of bloodshed or of resignation of office, and
he assured me, with energetic complaisance, that it should be his
care to see that the time was punctually kept. It was punctually
kept, and, I believe, is so still. I must confess, however, that my
persistency was not the result of any courage specially personal to
myself. While the matter was being debated, it had been whispered
to me that the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company had
conceived that forty-eight hours would suit the purposes of their
traffic better than twenty-four, and that, as they were the great
paymasters on the railway, the Minister of the Egyptian State,
who managed the railway, might probably wish to accommodate them.
I often wondered who originated that frightful picture of blood
and desolation. That it came from an English heart and an English
hand I was always sure.

From Egypt I visited the Holy Land, and on my way inspected the
Post Offices at Malta and Gibraltar. I could fill a volume with
true tales of my adventures. The Tales of All Countries have, most
of them, some foundation in such occurrences. There is one called
John Bull on the Guadalquivir, the chief incident in which occurred
to me and a friend of mine on our way up that river to Seville. We
both of us handled the gold ornaments of a man whom we believed to
be a bull-fighter, but who turned out to be a duke,--and a duke,
too, who could speak English! How gracious he was to us, and yet
how thoroughly he covered us with ridicule!

On my return home I received 400 from Messrs. Chapman & Hall for
Doctor Thorne, and agreed to sell them The Bertrams for the same sum.
This latter novel was written under very vagrant circumstances,--at
Alexandria, Malta, Gibraltar, Glasgow, then at sea, and at last
finished in Jamaica. Of my journey to the West Indies I will say
a few words presently, but I may as well speak of these two novels
here. Doctor Thorne has, I believe, been the most popular book that
I have written,--if I may take the sale as a proof of comparative
popularity. The Bertrams has had quite an opposite fortune. I do not
know that I have ever heard it well spoken of even by my friends,
and I cannot remember that there is any character in it that has
dwelt in the minds of novel-readers. I myself think that they are
of about equal merit, but that neither of them is good. They fall
away very much from The Three Clerks, both in pathos and humour.
There is no personage in either of them comparable to Chaffanbrass the
lawyer. The plot of Doctor Thorne is good, and I am led therefore
to suppose that a good plot,--which, to my own feeling, is the
most insignificant part of a tale,--is that which will most raise
it or most condemn it in the public judgment. The plots of Tom Jones
and of Ivanhoe are almost perfect, and they are probably the most
popular novels of the schools of the last and of this century; but
to me the delicacy of Amelia, and the rugged strength of Burley
and Meg Merrilies, say more for the power of those great novelists
than the gift of construction shown in the two works I have named.
A novel should give a picture of common life enlivened by humour
and sweetened by pathos. To make that picture worthy of attention,
the canvas should be crowded with real portraits, not of individuals
known to the world or to the author, but of created personages
impregnated with traits of character which are known. To my thinking,
the plot is but the vehicle for all this; and when you have the
vehicle without the passengers, a story of mystery in which the
agents never spring to life, you have but a wooden show. There must,
however, be a story. You must provide a vehicle of some sort. That
of The Bertrams was more than ordinarily bad; and as the book was
relieved by no special character, it failed. Its failure never
surprised me; but I have been surprised by the success of Doctor

At this time there was nothing in the success of the one or the
failure of the other to affect me very greatly. The immediate sale,
and the notices elicited from the critics, and the feeling which
had now come to me of a confident standing with the publishers, all
made me know that I had achieved my object. If I wrote a novel,
I could certainly sell it. And if I could publish three in two
years,--confining myself to half the fecundity of that terrible
author of whom the publisher in Paternoster Row had complained to
me,--I might add 600 a year to my official income. I was still
living in Ireland, and could keep a good house over my head, insure
my life, educate my two boys, and hunt perhaps twice a week, on 1400
a year. If more should come, it would be well;--but 600 a year I
was prepared to reckon as success. It had been slow in coming, but
was very pleasant when it came.

On my return from Egypt I was sent down to Scotland to revise the
Glasgow Post Office. I almost forget now what it was that I had
to do there, but I know that I walked all over the city with the
letter-carriers, going up to the top flats of the houses, as the
men would have declared me incompetent to judge the extent of their
labours had I not trudged every step with them. It was midsummer,
and wearier work I never performed. The men would grumble, and
then I would think how it would be with them if they had to go home
afterwards and write a love-scene. But the love-scenes written in
Glasgow, all belonging to The Bertrams, are not good.

Then in the autumn of that year, 1858, I was asked to go to the West
Indies, and cleanse the Augean stables of our Post Office system
there. Up to that time, and at that time, our Colonial Post Offices
generally were managed from home, and were subject to the British
Postmaster-General. Gentlemen were sent out from England to be
postmasters, surveyors, and what not; and as our West Indian islands
have never been regarded as being of themselves happily situated
for residence, the gentlemen so sent were sometimes more conspicuous
for want of income than for official zeal and ability. Hence the
stables had become Augean. I was also instructed to carry out in
some of the islands a plan for giving up this postal authority to
the island Governor, and in others to propose some such plan. I
was then to go on to Cuba, to make a postal treaty with the Spanish
authorities, and to Panama for the same purpose with the Government
of New Grenada. All this work I performed to my satisfaction, and
I hope to that of my masters in St. Martin's le Grand.

But the trip is at the present moment of importance to my subject,
as having enabled me to write that which, on the whole, I regard
as the best book that has come from my pen. It is short, and, I
think I may venture to say, amusing, useful, and true. As soon as
I had learned from the secretary at the General Post Office that
this journey would be required, I proposed the book to Messrs.
Chapman & Hall, demanding 250 for a single volume. The contract
was made without any difficulty, and when I returned home the work
was complete in my desk. I began it on board the ship in which I
left Kingston, Jamaica, for Cuba,--and from week to week I carried
it on as I went. From Cuba I made my way to St. Thomas, and through
the island down to Demerara, then back to St. Thomas,--which is
the starting-point for all places in that part of the globe,--to
Santa Martha, Carthagena, Aspinwall, over the Isthmus to Panama, up
the Pacific to a little harbour on the coast of Costa Rica, thence
across Central America, through Costa Rica, and down the Nicaragua
river to the Mosquito coast, and after that home by Bermuda and New
York. Should any one want further details of the voyage, are they
not written in my book? The fact memorable to me now is that I
never made a single note while writing or preparing it. Preparation,
indeed, there was none. The descriptions and opinions came hot
on to the paper from their causes. I will not say that this is the
best way of writing a book intended to give accurate information.
But it is the best way of producing to the eye of the reader, and
to his ear, that which the eye of the writer has seen and his ear
heard. There are two kinds of confidence which a reader may have
in his author,--which two kinds the reader who wishes to use his
reading well should carefully discriminate. There is a confidence
in facts and a confidence in vision. The one man tells you accurately
what has been. The other suggests to you what may, or perhaps what
must have been, or what ought to have been. The former require simple
faith. The latter calls upon you to judge for yourself, and form
your own conclusions. The former does not intend to be prescient,
nor the latter accurate. Research is the weapon used by the former;
observation by the latter. Either may be false,--wilfully false; as
also may either be steadfastly true. As to that, the reader must
judge for himself. But the man who writes currente calamo, who
works with a rapidity which will not admit of accuracy, may be as
true, and in one sense as trustworthy, as he who bases every word
upon a rock of facts. I have written very much as I have, travelled
about; and though I have been very inaccurate, I have always
written the exact truth as I saw it ;--and I have, I think, drawn
my pictures correctly.

The view I took of the relative position in the West Indies
of black men and white men was the view of the Times newspaper at
that period; and there appeared three articles in that journal, one
closely after another, which made the fortune of the book. Had it
been very bad, I suppose its fortune could not have been made for
it even by the Times newspaper. I afterwards became acquainted with
the writer of those articles, the contributor himself informing me
that he had written them. I told him that he had done me a greater
service than can often be done by one man to another, but that I was
under no obligation to him. I do not think that he saw the matter
quite in the same light.

I am aware that by that criticism I was much raised in my position
as an author. Whether such lifting up by such means is good or bad
for literature is a question which I hope to discuss in a future
chapter. But the result was immediate to me, for I at once went to
Chapman & Hall and successfully demanded 600 for my next novel.



Soon after my return from the West Indies I was enabled to change
my district in Ireland for one in England. For some time past my
official work had been of a special nature, taking me out of my
own district; but through all that, Dublin had been my home, and
there my wife and children had lived. I had often sighed to return
to England,--with a silly longing. My life in England for twenty-six
years from the time of my birth to the day on which I left it, had
been wretched. I had been poor, friendless, and joyless. In Ireland
it had constantly been happy. I had achieved the respect of all
with whom I was concerned, I had made for myself a comfortable
home, and I had enjoyed many pleasures. Hunting itself was a great
delight to me; and now, as I contemplated a move to England, and a
house in the neighbourhood of London, I felt that hunting must be
abandoned. [Footnote: It was not abandoned till sixteen more years
had passed away.] Nevertheless I thought that a man who could
write books ought not to live in Ireland,--ought to live within
the reach of the publishers, the clubs, and the dinner-parties of
the metropolis. So I made my request at headquarters, and with some
little difficulty got myself appointed to the Eastern District of
England,--which comprised Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire,
Huntingdonshire, and the greater part of Hertfordshire.

At this time I did not stand very well with the dominant interest
at the General Post Office. My old friend Colonel Maberly had
been, some time since, squeezed into, and his place was filled by
Mr. Rowland Hill, the originator of the penny post. With him I never
had any sympathy, nor he with me. In figures and facts he was most
accurate, but I never came across any one who so little understood
the ways of men,--unless it was his brother Frederic. To the two
brothers the servants of the Post Office,--men numerous enough to
have formed a large army in old days,--were so many machines who
could be counted on for their exact work without deviation, as
wheels may be counted on, which are kept going always at the same
pace and always by the same power. Rowland Hill was an industrious
public servant, anxious for the good of his country; but he was
a hard taskmaster, and one who would, I think, have put the great
department with which he was concerned altogether out of gear by
his hardness, had he not been at last controlled. He was the Chief
Secretary, my brother-in-law--who afterwards succeeded him--came
next to him, and Mr. Hill's brother was the Junior Secretary. In
the natural course of things, I had not, from my position, anything
to do with the management of affairs;--but from time to time I found
myself more or less mixed up in it. I was known to be a thoroughly
efficient public servant; I am sure I may say so much of myself
without fear of contradiction from any one who has known the Post
Office;--I was very fond of the department, and when matters came
to be considered, I generally had an opinion of my own. I have
no doubt that I often made myself very disagreeable. I know that I
sometimes tried to do so. But I could hold my own because I knew
my business and was useful. I had given official offence by the
publication of The Three Clerks. I afterwards gave greater offence
by a lecture on The Civil Service which I delivered in one of the
large rooms at the General Post Office to the clerks there. On this
occasion, the Postmaster-General, with whom personally I enjoyed
friendly terms, sent for me and told me that Mr. Hill had told him
that I ought to be dismissed. When I asked his lordship whether
he was prepared to dismiss me, he only laughed. The threat was
no threat to me, as I knew myself to be too good to be treated in
that fashion. The lecture had been permitted, and I had disobeyed
no order. In the lecture which I delivered, there was nothing
to bring me to shame,--but it advocated the doctrine that a civil
servant is only a servant as far as his contract goes, and that he
is beyond that entitled to be as free a man in politics, as free in
his general pursuits, and as free in opinion, as those who are in
open professions and open trades. All this is very nearly admitted
now, but it certainly was not admitted then. At that time no one
in the Post Office could even vote for a Member of Parliament.

Through my whole official life I did my best to improve the style
of official writing. I have written, I should think, some thousands
of reports,--many of them necessarily very long; some of them
dealing with subjects so absurd as to allow a touch of burlesque;
some few in which a spark of indignation or a slight glow of pathos
might find an entrance. I have taken infinite pains with these
reports, habituating myself always to write them in the form in
which they should be sent,--without a copy. It is by writing thus
that a man can throw on to his paper the exact feeling with which
his mind is impressed at the moment. A rough copy, or that which
is called a draft, is written in order that it may be touched and
altered and put upon stilts. The waste of time, moreover, in such
an operation, is terrible. If a man knows his craft with his pen,
he will have learned to write without the necessity of changing
his words or the form of his sentences. I had learned so to write
my reports that they who read them should know what it was that I
meant them to understand. But I do not think that they were regarded
with favour. I have heard horror expressed because the old forms
were disregarded and language used which had no savour of red-tape.
During the whole of this work in the Post Office it was my principle
always to obey authority in everything instantly, but never to allow
my mouth to be closed as to the expression of my opinion. They who
had the ordering of me very often did not know the work as I knew
it,--could not tell as I could what would be the effect of this
or that change. When carrying out instructions which I knew should
not have been given, I never scrupled to point out the fatuity of
the improper order in the strongest language that I could decently
employ. I have revelled in these official correspondences, and look
back to some of them as the greatest delights of my life. But I am
not sure that they were so delightful to others.

I succeeded, however, in getting the English district,--which
could hardly have been refused to me,--and prepared to change our
residence towards the end of 1859. At the time I was writing Castle
Richmond, the novel which I had sold to Messrs. Chapman & Hall
for 600. But there arose at this time a certain literary project
which probably had a great effect upon my career. Whilst travelling
on postal service abroad or riding over the rural districts
in England, or arranging the mails in Ireland,--and such for the
last eighteen years had now been my life,--I had no opportunity
of becoming acquainted with the literary life in London. It was
probably some feeling of this which had made me anxious to move
my penates back to England. But even in Ireland, where I was still
living in October, 1859, I had heard of the Cornhill Magazine, which
was to come out on the 1st of January, 1860, under the editorship
of Thackeray.

I had at this time written from time to time certain short stories,
which had been published in different periodicals, and which in due
time were republished under the name of Tales of All Countries. On
the 23d of October, 1859, I wrote to Thackeray, whom I had, I think,
never then seen, offering to send him for the magazine certain of
these stories. In reply to this I received two letters,--one from
Messrs. Smith & Elder, the proprietors of the Cornhill, dated 26th
of October, and the other from the editor, written two days later.
That from Mr. Thackeray was as follows:--

October 28th.

"MY DEAR MR. TROLLOPE,--Smith & Elder have sent you their proposals;
and the business part done, let me come to the pleasure, and say
how very glad indeed I shall be to have you as a co-operator in
our new magazine. And looking over the annexed programme, you will
see whether you can't help us in many other ways besides tale-telling.
Whatever a man knows about life and its doings, that let us hear
about. You must have tossed a good deal about the world, and have
countless sketches in your memory and your portfolio. Please
to think if you can furbish up any of these besides a novel. When
events occur, and you have a good lively tale, bear us in mind. One
of our chief objects in this magazine is the getting out of novel
spinning, and back into the world. Don't understand me to disparage
our craft, especially YOUR wares. I often say I am like the
pastrycook, and don't care for tarts, but prefer bread and cheese;
but the public love the tarts (luckily for us), and we must bake and
sell them. There was quite an excitement in my family one evening
when Paterfamilias (who goes to sleep on a novel almost always
when he tries it after dinner) came up-stairs into the drawing-room
wide awake and calling for the second volume of The Three Clerks.
I hope the Cornhill Magazine will have as pleasant a story. And
the Chapmans, if they are the honest men I take them to be, I've no
doubt have told you with what sincere liking your works have been
read by yours very faithfully,


This was very pleasant, and so was the letter from Smith & Elder
offering me 1000 for the copyright of a three-volume novel, to
come out in the new magazine,--on condition that the first portion
of it should be in their hands by December 12th. There was much in
all this that astonished me;--in the first place the price, which
was more than double what I had yet received, and nearly double
that which I was about to receive from Messrs. Chapman & Hall.
Then there was the suddenness of the call. It was already the end
of October, and a portion of the work was required to be in the
printer's hands within six weeks. Castle Richmond was indeed half
written, but that was sold to Chapman. And it had already been
a principle with me in my art, that no part of a novel should
be published till the entire story was completed. I knew, from
what I read from month to month, that this hurried publication of
incompleted work was frequently, I might perhaps say always, adopted
by the leading novelists of the day. That such has been the case,
is proved by the fact that Dickens, Thackeray, and Mrs. Gaskell
died with unfinished novels, of which portions had been already
published. I had not yet entered upon the system of publishing
novels in parts, and therefore had never been tempted. But I was
aware that an artist should keep in his hand the power of fitting
the beginning of his work to the end. No doubt it is his first
duty to fit the end to the beginning, and he will endeavour to do
so. But he should still keep in his hands the power of remedying
any defect in this respect.

"Servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerit,"

should be kept in view as to every character and every string of
action. Your Achilles should all through, from beginning to end,
be "impatient, fiery, ruthless, keen." Your Achilles, such as he
is, will probably keep up his character. But your Davus also should
be always Davus, and that is more difficult. The rustic driving his
pigs to market cannot always make them travel by the exact path
which he has intended for them. When some young lady at the end
of a story cannot be made quite perfect in her conduct, that vivid
description of angelic purity with which you laid the first lines
of her portrait should be slightly toned down. I had felt that the
rushing mode of publication to which the system of serial stories
had given rise, and by which small parts as they were written were
sent hot to the press, was injurious to the work done. If I now
complied with the proposition made to me, I must act against my
own principle. But such a principle becomes a tyrant if it cannot
be superseded on a just occasion. If the reason be "tanti," the
principle should for the occasion be put in abeyance. I sat as
judge, and decreed that the present reason was "tanti." On this my
first attempt at a serial story, I thought it fit to break my own
rule. I can say, however, that I have never broken it since.

But what astonished me most was the fact that at so late a day
this new Cornhill Magazine should be in want of a novel. Perhaps
some of my future readers will he able to remember the great
expectations which were raised as to this periodical. Thackeray's
was a good name with which to conjure. The proprietors, Messrs.
Smith & Elder, were most liberal in their manner of initiating the
work, and were able to make an expectant world of readers believe
that something was to be given them for a shilling very much in
excess of anything they had ever received for that or double the
money. Whether these hopes were or were not fulfilled it is not for
me to say, as, for the first few years of the magazine's existence,
I wrote for it more than any other one person. But such was certainly
the prospect;--and how had it come to pass that, with such promises
made, the editor and the proprietors were, at the end of October,
without anything fixed as to what must be regarded as the chief
dish in the banquet to be provided?

I fear that the answer to this question must be found in the habits
of procrastination which had at that time grown upon the editor.
He had, I imagine, undertaken the work himself, and had postponed
its commencement till there was left to him no time for commencing.
There was still, it may be said, as much time for him as for me.
I think there was,--for though he had his magazine to look after,
I had the Post Office. But he thought, when unable to trust his
own energy, that he might rely upon that of a new recruit. He was
but four years my senior in life but he was at the top of the tree,
while I was still at the bottom.

Having made up my mind to break my principle, I started at once from
Dublin to London. I arrived there on the morning of Thursday, 3d
of November, and left it on the evening of Friday. In the meantime
I had made my agreement with Messrs. Smith & Elder, and had arranged
my plot. But when in London, I first went to Edward Chapman, at 193
Piccadilly. If the novel I was then writing for him would suit
the Cornhill, might I consider my arrangement with him to be at an
end? Yes; I might. But if that story would not suit the Cornhill,
was I to consider my arrangement with him as still standing,--that
agreement requiring that my MS. should be in his hands in the
following March? As to that, I might do as I pleased. In our dealings
together Mr. Edward Chapman always acceded to every suggestion made
to him. He never refused a book, and never haggled at a price. Then
I hurried into the City, and had my first interview with Mr. George
Smith. When he heard that Castle Richmond was an Irish story, he
begged that I would endeavour to frame some other for his magazine.
He was sure that an Irish story would not do for a commencement;--and
he suggested the Church, as though it were my peculiar subject. I
told him that Castle Richmond would have to "come out" while any
other novel that I might write for him would be running through the
magazine;--but to that he expressed himself altogether indifferent.
He wanted an English tale, on English life, with a clerical flavour.
On these orders I went to work, and framed what I suppose I must
call the plot of Framley Parsonage.

On my journey back to Ireland, in the railway carriage, I wrote the
first few pages of that story. I had got into my head an idea of
what I meant to write,--a morsel of the biography of an English
clergyman who should not be a bad man, but one led into temptation
by his own youth and by the unclerical accidents of the life of
those around him. The love of his sister for the young lord was
an adjunct necessary, because there must be love in a novel. And
then by placing Framley Parsonage near Barchester, I was able to
fall back upon my old friends Mrs. Proudie and the archdeacon. Out
of these slight elements I fabricated a hodge-podge in which the
real plot consisted at last simply of a girl refusing to marry the
man she loved till the man's friends agreed to accept her lovingly.
Nothing could be less efficient or artistic. But the characters
were so well handled, that the work from the first to the last
was popular,--and was received as it went on with still increasing
favour by both editor and proprietor of the magazine. The story was
thoroughly English. There was a little fox-hunting and a little
tuft-hunting, some Christian virtue and some Christian cant. There
was no heroism and no villainy. There was much Church, but more
love-making. And it was downright honest love,--in which there was
no pretence on the part of the lady that she was too ethereal to
be fond of a man, no half-and-half inclination on the part of the
man to pay a certain price and no more for a pretty toy. Each of
them longed for the other, and they were not ashamed to say so.
Consequently they in England who were living, or had lived, the
same sort of life, liked Framley Parsonage. I think myself that
Lucy Robarts is perhaps the most natural English girl that I ever
drew,--the most natural, at any rate, of those who have been good
girls. She was not as dear to me as Kate Woodward in The Three
Clerks, but I think she is more like real human life. Indeed
I doubt whether such a character could be made more lifelike than
Lucy Robarts.

And I will say also that in this novel there is no very weak part,--no
long succession of dull pages. The production of novels in serial
form forces upon the author the conviction that he should not allow
himself to be tedious in any single part. I hope no reader will
misunderstand me. In spite of that conviction, the writer of stories
in parts will often be tedious. That I have been so myself is a
fault that will lie heavy on my tombstone. But the writer when he
embarks in such a business should feel that he cannot afford to have
many pages skipped out of the few which are to meet the reader's
eye at the same time. Who can imagine the first half of the first
volume of Waverley coming out in shilling numbers? I had realised
this when I was writing Framley Parsonage; and working on the
conviction which had thus come home to me, I fell into no bathos
of dulness.

I subsequently came across a piece of criticism which was written
on me as a novelist by a brother novelist very much greater than
myself, and whose brilliant intellect and warm imagination led him
to a kind of work the very opposite of mine. This was Nathaniel
Hawthorne, the American, whom I did not then know, but whose works
I knew. Though it praises myself highly, I will insert it here,
because it certainly is true in its nature: "It is odd enough," he
says, "that my own individual taste is for quite another class of
works than those which I myself am able to write. If I were to meet
with such books as mine by another writer, I don't believe I should
be able to get through them. Have you ever read the novels of Anthony
Trollope? They precisely suit my taste,--solid and substantial,
written on the strength of beef and through the inspiration of
ale, and just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of
the earth and put it under a glass case, with all its inhabitants
going about their daily business, and not suspecting that they
were being made a show of. And these books are just as English as
a beef-steak. Have they ever been tried in America? It needs an
English residence to make them thoroughly comprehensible; but still
I should think that human nature would give them success anywhere."

This was dated early in 1860, and could have had no reference to
Framley Parsonage; but it was as true of that work as of any that
I have written. And the criticism, whether just or unjust, describes
with wonderful accuracy the purport that I have ever had in view
in my writing. I have always desired to "hew out some lump of the
earth," and to make men and women walk upon it just as they do walk
here among us,--with not more of excellence, nor with exaggerated
baseness,--so that my readers might recognise human beings like to
themselves, and not feel themselves to be carried away among gods
or demons. If I could do this, then I thought I might succeed
in impregnating the mind of the novel-reader with a feeling that
honesty is the best policy; that truth prevails while falsehood
fails; that a girl will be loved as she is pure; and sweet, and
unselfish; that a man will be honoured as he is true, and honest,
and brave of heart; that things meanly done are ugly and odious,
and things nobly done beautiful and gracious. I do not say that
lessons such as these may not be more grandly taught by higher
flights than mine. Such lessons come to us from our greatest poets.
But there are so many who will read novels and understand them, who
either do not read the works of our great poets, or reading them
miss the lesson! And even in prose fiction the character whom
the fervid imagination of the writer has lifted somewhat into the
clouds, will hardly give so plain an example to the hasty normal
reader as the humbler personage whom that reader unconsciously feels
to resemble himself or herself. I do think that a girl would more
probably dress her own mind after Lucy Robarts than after Flora

There are many who would laugh at the idea of a novelist teaching
either virtue or nobility,--those, for instance, who regard
the reading of novels as a sin, and those also who think it to be
simply an idle pastime. They look upon the tellers of stories as
among the tribe of those who pander to the wicked pleasures of a
wicked world. I have regarded my art from so different a point of
view that I have ever thought of myself as a preacher of sermons,
and my pulpit as one which I could make both salutary and agreeable
to my audience. I do believe that no girl has risen from the reading
of my pages less modest than she was before, and that some may have
learned from them that modesty is a charm well worth preserving. I
think that no youth has been taught that in falseness and flashness
is to be found the road to manliness; but some may perhaps have
learned from me that it is to be found in truth and a high but
gentle spirit. Such are the lessons I have striven to teach; and
I have thought it might best be done by representing to my readers
characters like themselves,--or to which they might liken themselves.

Framley Parsonage--or, rather, my connection with the Cornhill--was
the means of introducing me very quickly to that literary world
from which I had hitherto been severed by the fact of my residence
in Ireland. In December, 1859, while I was still very hard at work
on my novel, I came over to take charge of the Eastern District,
and settled myself at a residence about twelve miles from London,
in Hertfordshire, but on the borders both of Essex and Middlesex,--which
was somewhat too grandly called Waltham House. This I took on
lease, and subsequently bought after I had spent about 1000 on
improvements. From hence I was able to make myself frequent both
in Cornhill and Piccadilly, and to live, when the opportunity came,
among men of my own pursuit.

It was in January, 1860, that Mr. George Smith--to whose enterprise
we owe not only the Cornhill Magazine but the Pall Mall Gazette--gave
a sumptuous dinner to his contributors. It was a memorable banquet
in many ways, but chiefly so to me because on that occasion I first
met many men who afterwards became my most intimate associates.
It can rarely happen that one such occasion can be the first
starting-point of so many friendships. It was at that table, and
on that day, that I first saw Thackeray, Charles Taylor (Sir)--than
whom in latter life I have loved no man better,--Robert Bell, G. H.
Lewes, and John Everett Millais. With all these men I afterwards
lived on affectionate terms;--but I will here speak specially of
the last, because from that time he was joined with me in so much
of the work that I did.

Mr. Millais was engaged to illustrate Framley Parsonage, but this
was not the first work he did for the magazine. In the second number
there is a picture of his accompanying Monckton Milne's Unspoken
Dialogue. The first drawing he did for Framley Parsonage did not
appear till after the dinner of which I have spoken, and I do not
think that I knew at the time that he was engaged on my novel. When
I did know it, it made me very proud. He afterwards illustrated
Orley Farm, The Small House of Allington, Rachel Ray, and Phineas
Finn. Altogether he drew from my tales eighty-seven drawings, and
I do not think that more conscientious work was ever done by man.
Writers of novels know well--and so ought readers of novels to
have learned--that there are two modes of illustrating, either of
which may be adopted equally by a bad and by a good artist. To
which class Mr. Millais belongs I need not say; but, as a good
artist, it was open to him simply to make a pretty picture, or to
study the work of the author from whose writing he was bound to take
his subject. I have too often found that the former alternative
has been thought to be the better, as it certainly is the easier
method. An artist will frequently dislike to subordinate his ideas
to those of an author, and will sometimes be too idle to find out
what those ideas are. But this artist was neither proud nor idle.
In every figure that he drew it was his object to promote the
views of the writer whose work he had undertaken to illustrate, and
he never spared himself any pains in studying that work, so as to
enable him to do so. I have carried on some of those characters from
book to book, and have had my own early ideas impressed indelibly
on my memory by the excellence of his delineations. Those illustrations
were commenced fifteen years ago, and from that time up to this
day my affection for the man of whom I am speaking has increased.
To see him has always been a pleasure. His voice has been a sweet
sound in my ears. Behind his back I have never heard him praised
without joining the eulogist; I have never heard a word spoken
against him without opposing the censurer. These words, should he
ever see them, will come to him from the grave, and will tell him
of my regard,--as one living man never tells another.

Sir Charles Taylor, who carried me home in his brougham that
evening, and thus commenced an intimacy which has since been very
close, was born to wealth, and was therefore not compelled by the
necessities of a profession to enter the lists as an author. But
he lived much with those who did so,--and could have done it himself
had want or ambition stirred him. He was our king at the Garrick
Club, to which, however, I did not yet belong. He gave the best
dinners of my time, and was,--happily I may say is, [Footnote:
Alas! within a year of the writing of this he went from us.]--the
best giver of dinners. A man rough of tongue, brusque in his manners,
odious to those who dislike him, somewhat inclined to tyranny, he
is the prince of friends, honest as the sun, and as openhanded as
Charity itself.

Robert Bell has now been dead nearly ten years. As I look back
over the interval and remember how intimate we were, it seems odd
to me that we should have known each other for no more than six
years. He was a man who had lived by his pen from his very youth;
and was so far successful that I do not think that want ever came
near him. But he never made that mark which his industry and talents
would have seemed to ensure. He was a man well known to literary
men, but not known to readers. As a journalist he was useful
and conscientious, but his plays and novels never made themselves
popular. He wrote a life of Canning, and he brought out an annotated
edition of the British poets; but he achieved no great success.
I have known no man better read in English literature. Hence his
conversation had a peculiar charm, but he was not equally happy
with his pen. He will long be remembered at the Literary Fund
Committees, of which he was a staunch and most trusted supporter.
I think it was he who first introduced me to that board. It has
often been said that literary men are peculiarly apt to think that
they are slighted and unappreciated. Robert Bell certainly never
achieved the position in literature which he once aspired to fill,
and which he was justified in thinking that he could earn for
himself. I have frequently discussed these subjects with him, but
I never heard from his mouth a word of complaint as to his own
literary fate. He liked to hear the chimes go at midnight, and he
loved to have ginger hot in his mouth. On such occasions no sound
ever came out of a man's lips sweeter than his wit and gentle

George Lewes,--with his wife, whom all the world knows as George
Eliot,--has also been and still is one of my dearest friends.
He is, I think, the acutest critic I know,--and the severest. His
severity, however, is a fault. His intention to be honest, even when
honesty may give pain, has caused him to give pain when honesty has
not required it. He is essentially a doubter, and has encouraged
himself to doubt till the faculty of trusting has almost left him.
I am not speaking of the personal trust which one man feels in
another, but of that confidence in literary excellence, which is,
I think, necessary for the full enjoyment of literature. In one
modern writer he did believe thoroughly. Nothing can be more charming
than the unstinted admiration which he has accorded to everything
that comes from the pen of the wonderful woman to whom his lot has
been united. To her name I shall recur again when speaking of the
novelists of the present day.

Of "Billy Russell," as we always used to call him, I may say
that I never knew but one man equal to him in the quickness and
continuance of witty speech. That one man was Charles Lever--also
an Irishman--whom I had known from an earlier date, and also with
close intimacy. Of the two, I think that Lever was perhaps the
more astounding producer of good things. His manner was perhaps a
little the happier, and his turns more sharp and unexpected. But
"Billy" also was marvellous. Whether abroad as special correspondent,
or at home amidst the flurry of his newspaper work, he was a charming
companion; his ready wit always gave him the last word.

Of Thackeray I will speak again when I record his death.

There were many others whom I met for the first time at George
Smith's table. Albert Smith, for the first, and indeed for the last
time, as he died soon after; Higgins, whom all the world knew as
Jacob Omnium, a man I greatly regarded; Dallas, who for a time was
literary critic to the Times, and who certainly in that capacity
did better work than has appeared since in the same department;
George Augustus Sala, who, had he given himself fair play, would
have risen to higher eminence than that of being the best writer
in his day of sensational leading articles; and Fitz-James Stephen,
a man of very different calibre, who had not yet culminated, but
who, no doubt, will culminate among our judges. There were many
others;--but I cannot now recall their various names as identified
with those banquets.

Of Framley Parsonage I need only further say, that as I wrote it I
became more closely than ever acquainted with the new shire which
I had added to the English counties. I had it all in my mind,--its
roads and railroads, its towns and parishes, its members of Parliament,
and the different hunts which rode over it. I knew all the great
lords and their castles, the squires and their parks, the rectors
and their churches. This was the fourth novel of which I had placed
the scene in Barsetshire, and as I wrote it I made a map of the
dear county. Throughout these stories there has been no name given
to a fictitious site which does not represent to me a spot of which I
know all the accessories, as though I had lived and wandered there.



When I had half-finished Framley Parsonage, I went back to my other
story, Castle Richmond, which I was writing for Messrs. Chapman &
Hall, and completed that. I think that this was the only occasion
on which I have had two different novels in my mind at the same
time. This, however, did not create either difficulty or confusion.
Many of us live in different circles; and when we go from our friends
in the town to our friends in the country, we do not usually fail
to remember the little details of the one life or the other. The
parson at Rusticum, with his wife and his wife's mother, and all
his belongings; and our old friend, the Squire, with his family
history; and Farmer Mudge, who has been cross with us, because we
rode so unnecessarily over his barley; and that rascally poacher,
once a gamekeeper, who now traps all the foxes; and pretty Mary
Cann, whose marriage with the wheelwright we did something to
expedite;--though we are alive to them all, do not drive out of our
brain the club gossip, or the memories of last season's dinners, or
any incident of our London intimacies. In our lives we are always
weaving novels, and we manage to keep the different tales distinct.
A man does, in truth, remember that which it interests him to
remember; and when we hear that memory has gone as age has come on,
we should understand that the capacity for interest in the matter
concerned has perished. A man will be generally very old and feeble
before he forgets how much money he has in the funds. There is
a good deal to be learned by any one who wishes to write a novel
well; but when the art has been acquired, I do not see why two or
three should not be well written at the same time. I have never
found myself thinking much about the work that I had to do till
I was doing it. I have indeed for many years almost abandoned the
effort to think, trusting myself, with the narrowest thread of
a plot, to work the matter out when the pen is in my hand. But my
mind is constantly employing itself on the work I have done. Had
I left either Framley Parsonage or Castle Richmond half-finished
fifteen years ago, I think I could complete the tales now with very
little trouble. I have not looked at Castle Richmond since it was
published; and poor as the work is, I remember all the incidents.

Castle Richmond certainly was not a success,--though the plot is a
fairly good plot, and is much more of a plot than I have generally
been able to find. The scene is laid in Ireland, during the famine;
and I am well aware now that English readers no longer like Irish
stories. I cannot understand why it should be so, as the Irish
character is peculiarly well fitted for romance. But Irish subjects
generally have become distasteful. This novel, however, is of
itself a weak production. The characters do not excite sympathy.
The heroine has two lovers, one of whom is a scamp and the other
a prig. As regards the scamp, the girl's mother is her own rival.
Rivalry of the same nature has been admirably depicted by Thackeray
in his Esmond; but there the mother's love seems to be justified
by the girl's indifference. In Castle Richmond the mother strives
to rob her daughter of the man's love. The girl herself has no
character; and the mother, who is strong enough, is almost revolting.
The dialogue is often lively, and some of the incidents are well
told; but the story as a whole was a failure. I cannot remember,
however, that it was roughly handled by the critics when it came
out; and I much doubt whether anything so hard was said of it then
as that which I have said here.

I was now settled at Waltham Cross, in a house in which I could
entertain a few friends modestly, where we grew our cabbages
and strawberries, made our own butter, and killed our own pigs. I
occupied it for twelve years, and they were years to me of great
prosperity. In 1861 I became a member of the Garrick Club, with
which institution I have since been much identified. I had belonged
to it about two years, when, on Thackeray's death, I was invited
to fill his place on the Committee, and I have been one of that
august body ever since. Having up to that time lived very little
among men, having known hitherto nothing of clubs, having even as
a boy been banished from social gatherings, I enjoyed infinitely at
first the gaiety of the Garrick. It was a festival to me to dine
there--which I did indeed but seldom; and a great delight to play
a rubber in the little room up-stairs of an afternoon. I am speaking
now of the old club in King Street. This playing of whist before
dinner has since that become a habit with me, so that unless there
be something else special to do--unless there be hunting, or I am
wanted to ride in the park by the young tyrant of my household--it
is "my custom always in the afternoon." I have sometimes felt sore
with myself for this persistency, feeling that I was making myself
a slave to an amusement which has not after all very much to
recommend it. I have often thought that I would break myself away
from it, and "swear off," as Rip Van Winkle says. But my swearing
off has been like that of Rip Van Winkle. And now, as I think of
it coolly, I do not know but that I have been right to cling to it.
As a man grows old he wants amusement, more even than when he is
young; and then it becomes so difficult to find amusement. Reading
should, no doubt, be the delight of men's leisure hours. Had I to
choose between books and cards, I should no doubt take the books.
But I find that I can seldom read with pleasure for above an hour
and a half at a time, or more than three hours a day. As I write
this I am aware that hunting must soon be abandoned. After sixty
it is given but to few men to ride straight across country, and I
cannot bring myself to adopt any other mode of riding. I think that


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