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Title: An Autobiography of Anthony Trollope
Author: Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Autobiography of Anthony Trollope" ***

and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.





       I. MY EDUCATION, 1815-1834.
      II. MY MOTHER.
      IV. IRELAND--MY FIRST TWO NOVELS, 1841-1848.
       V. MY FIRST SUCCESS, 1849-1855.
          AMERICA_--_ORLEY FARM_.
          EDITOR'S TALES_--_CÆSAR_.


It may be well that I should put a short preface to this book. In
the summer of 1878 my father told me that he had written a memoir
of his own life. He did not speak about it at length, but said that
he had written me a letter, not to be opened until after his death,
containing instructions for publication.

This letter was dated 30th April, 1876. I will give here as much of
it as concerns the public: "I wish you to accept as a gift from me,
given you now, the accompanying pages which contain a memoir of my
life. My intention is that they shall be published after my death,
and be edited by you. But I leave it altogether to your discretion
whether to publish or to suppress the work;--and also to your
discretion whether any part or what part shall be omitted. But I
would not wish that anything should be added to the memoir. If you
wish to say any word as from yourself, let it be done in the shape of
a preface or introductory chapter." At the end there is a postscript:
"The publication, if made at all, should be effected as soon as
possible after my death." My father died on the 6th of December,

It will be seen, therefore, that my duty has been merely to pass the
book through the press conformably to the above instructions. I have
placed headings to the right-hand pages throughout the book, and I
do not conceive that I was precluded from so doing. Additions of any
other sort there have been none; the few footnotes are my father's
own additions or corrections. And I have made no alterations. I have
suppressed some few passages, but not more than would amount to two
printed pages has been omitted. My father has not given any of his
own letters, nor was it his wish that any should be published.

I see from my father's manuscript, and from his papers, that the
first two chapters of this memoir were written in the latter part of
1875, that he began the third chapter early in January, 1876, and
that he finished the record before the middle of April in that year.
I state this, though there are indications in the book by which it
might be seen at what time the memoir was being written.

So much I would say by way of preface. And I think I may also give in
a few words the main incidents in my father's life after he completed
his autobiography.

He has said that he had given up hunting; but he still kept two
horses for such riding as may be had in or about the immediate
neighbourhood of London. He continued to ride to the end of his life:
he liked the exercise, and I think it would have distressed him not
to have had a horse in his stable. But he never spoke willingly on
hunting matters. He had at last resolved to give up his favourite
amusement, and that as far as he was concerned there should be an end
of it. In the spring of 1877 he went to South Africa, and returned
early in the following year with a book on the colony already
written. In the summer of 1878, he was one of a party of ladies and
gentlemen who made an expedition to Iceland in the "Mastiff," one of
Mr. John Burns' steam-ships. The journey lasted altogether sixteen
days, and during that time Mr. and Mrs. Burns were the hospitable
entertainers. When my father returned, he wrote a short account of
_How the "Mastiffs" went to Iceland_. The book was printed, but was
intended only for private circulation.

Every day, until his last illness, my father continued his work. He
would not otherwise have been happy. He demanded from himself less
than he had done ten years previously, but his daily task was always
done. I will mention now the titles of his books that were published
after the last included in the list which he himself has given at the
end of the second volume:--

   An Eye for an Eye,                 1879
   Cousin Henry,                      1879
   Thackeray,                         1879
   The Duke's Children,               1880
   Life of Cicero,                    1880
   Ayala's Angel,                     1881
   Doctor Wortle's School,            1881
   Frau Frohmann and other Stories,   1882
   Lord Palmerston,                   1882
   The Fixed Period,                  1882
   Kept in the Dark,                  1882
   Marion Fay,                        1882
   Mr. Scarborough's Family,          1883

At the time of his death he had written four-fifths of an Irish
story, called _The Landleaguers_, shortly about to be published; and
he left in manuscript a completed novel, called _An Old Man's Love_,
which will be published by Messrs. Blackwood & Sons in 1884.

In the summer of 1880 my father left London, and went to live at
Harting, a village in Sussex, but on the confines of Hampshire. I
think he chose that spot because he found there a house that suited
him, and because of the prettiness of the neighbourhood. His last
long journey was a trip to Italy in the late winter and spring of
1881; but he went to Ireland twice in 1882. He went there in May
of that year, and was then absent nearly a month. This journey did
him much good, for he found that the softer atmosphere relieved his
asthma, from which he had been suffering for nearly eighteen months.
In August following he made another trip to Ireland, but from this
journey he derived less benefit. He was much interested in, and was
very much distressed by, the unhappy condition of the country. Few
men knew Ireland better than he did. He had lived there for sixteen
years, and his Post Office work had taken him into every part of
the island. In the summer of 1882 he began his last novel, _The
Landleaguers_, which, as stated above, was unfinished when he died.
This book was a cause of anxiety to him. He could not rid his mind
of the fact that he had a story already in the course of publication,
but which he had not yet completed. In no other case, except _Framley
Parsonage_, did my father publish even the first number of any novel
before he had fully completed the whole tale.

On the evening of the 3d of November, 1882, he was seized with
paralysis on the right side, accompanied by loss of speech. His mind
also had failed, though at intervals his thoughts would return to
him. After the first three weeks these lucid intervals became rarer,
but it was always very difficult to tell how far his mind was sound
or how far astray. He died on the evening of the 6th of December
following, nearly five weeks from the night of his attack.

I have been led to say these few words, not at all from a desire to
supplement my father's biography of himself, but to mention the main
incidents in his life after he had finished his own record. In what I
have here said I do not think I have exceeded his instructions.

September, 1883.



In writing these pages, which, for the want of a better name, I shall
be fain to call the autobiography of so insignificant a person as
myself, it will not be so much my intention to speak of the little
details of my private life, as of what I, and perhaps others round
me, have done in literature; of my failures and successes such as
they have been, and their causes; and of the opening which a literary
career offers to men and women for the earning of their bread. And
yet the garrulity of old age, and the aptitude of a man's mind to
recur to the passages of his own life, will, I know, tempt me to say
something of myself;--nor, without doing so, should I know how to
throw my matter into any recognised and intelligible form. That I, or
any man, should tell everything of himself, I hold to be impossible.
Who could endure to own the doing of a mean thing? Who is there that
has done none? But this I protest;--that nothing that I say shall be
untrue. I will set down naught in malice; nor will I give to myself,
or others, honour which I do not believe to have been fairly won.

My boyhood was, I think, as unhappy as that of a young gentleman
could well be, my misfortunes arising from a mixture of poverty and
gentle standing on the part of my father, and from an utter want on
my own part of that juvenile manhood which enables some boys to hold
up their heads even among the distresses which such a position is
sure to produce.

I was born in 1815, in Keppel Street, Russell Square; and while a
baby, was carried down to Harrow, where my father had built a house
on a large farm which, in an evil hour he took on a long lease from
Lord Northwick. That farm was the grave of all my father's hopes,
ambition, and prosperity, the cause of my mother's sufferings, and of
those of her children, and perhaps the director of her destiny and of
ours. My father had been a Wykamist and a fellow of New College, and
Winchester was the destination of my brothers and myself; but as he
had friends among the masters at Harrow, and as the school offered
an education almost gratuitous to children living in the parish, he,
with a certain aptitude to do things differently from others, which
accompanied him throughout his life, determined to use that august
seminary as a "t'other school" for Winchester, and sent three of
us there, one after the other, at the age of seven. My father at
this time was a Chancery barrister practising in London, occupying
dingy, almost suicidal chambers, at No. 23 Old Square, Lincoln's
Inn,--chambers which on one melancholy occasion did become absolutely
suicidal.[1] He was, as I have been informed by those quite competent
to know, an excellent and most conscientious lawyer, but plagued
with so bad a temper, that he drove the attorneys from him. In his
early days he was a man of some small fortune and of higher hopes.
These stood so high at the time of my birth, that he was felt to be
entitled to a country house, as well as to that in Keppel Street; and
in order that he might build such a residence, he took the farm. This
place he called Julians, and the land runs up to the foot of the hill
on which the school and church stand,--on the side towards London.
Things there went much against him; the farm was ruinous, and I
remember that we all regarded the Lord Northwick of those days as a
cormorant who was eating us up. My father's clients deserted him. He
purchased various dark gloomy chambers in and about Chancery Lane,
and his purchases always went wrong. Then, as a final crushing blow,
an old uncle, whose heir he was to have been, married and had a
family! The house in London was let; and also the house he built at
Harrow, from which he descended to a farmhouse on the land, which
I have endeavoured to make known to some readers under the name of
Orley Farm. This place, just as it was when we lived there, is to
be seen in the frontispiece to the first edition of that novel,
having had the good fortune to be delineated by no less a pencil than
that of John Millais.

   [Footnote 1: A pupil of his destroyed himself in the rooms.]

My two elder brothers had been sent as day-boarders to Harrow School
from the bigger house, and may probably have been received among the
aristocratic crowd,--not on equal terms, because a day-boarder at
Harrow in those days was never so received,--but at any rate as other
day-boarders. I do not suppose that they were well treated, but I
doubt whether they were subjected to the ignominy which I endured. I
was only seven, and I think that boys at seven are now spared among
their more considerate seniors. I was never spared; and was not even
allowed to run to and fro between our house and the school without a
daily purgatory. No doubt my appearance was against me. I remember
well, when I was still the junior boy in the school, Dr. Butler,
the head-master, stopping me in the street, and asking me, with all
the clouds of Jove upon his brow and all the thunder in his voice,
whether it was possible that Harrow School was disgraced by so
disreputably dirty a little boy as I! Oh, what I felt at that
moment! But I could not look my feelings. I do not doubt that I was
dirty;--but I think that he was cruel. He must have known me had he
seen me as he was wont to see me, for he was in the habit of flogging
me constantly. Perhaps he did not recognise me by my face.

At this time I was three years at Harrow; and, as far as I can
remember, I was the junior boy in the school when I left it.

Then I was sent to a private school at Sunbury, kept by Arthur Drury.
This, I think, must have been done in accordance with the advice
of Henry Drury, who was my tutor at Harrow School, and my father's
friend, and who may probably have expressed an opinion that my
juvenile career was not proceeding in a satisfactory manner at
Harrow. To Sunbury I went, and during the two years I was there,
though I never had any pocket-money, and seldom had much in the way
of clothes, I lived more nearly on terms of equality with other boys
than at any other period during my very prolonged school-days. Even
here, I was always in disgrace. I remember well how, on one occasion,
four boys were selected as having been the perpetrators of some
nameless horror. What it was, to this day I cannot even guess; but
I was one of the four, innocent as a babe, but adjudged to have
been the guiltiest of the guilty. We each had to write out a sermon,
and my sermon was the longest of the four. During the whole of one
term-time we were helped last at every meal. We were not allowed to
visit the playground till the sermon was finished. Mine was only
done a day or two before the holidays. Mrs. Drury, when she saw us,
shook her head with pitying horror. There were ever so many other
punishments accumulated on our heads. It broke my heart, knowing
myself to be innocent, and suffering also under the almost equally
painful feeling that the other three--no doubt wicked boys--were the
curled darlings of the school, who would never have selected me to
share their wickedness with them. I contrived to learn, from words
that fell from Mr. Drury, that he condemned me because I, having
come from a public school, might be supposed to be the leader of
wickedness! On the first day of the next term he whispered to me
half a word that perhaps he had been wrong. With all a stupid boy's
slowness, I said nothing; and he had not the courage to carry
reparation further. All that was fifty years ago, and it burns me now
as though it were yesterday. What lily-livered curs those boys must
have been not to have told the truth!--at any rate as far as I was
concerned. I remember their names well, and almost wish to write them

When I was twelve there came the vacancy at Winchester College which
I was destined to fill. My two elder brothers had gone there, and the
younger had been taken away, being already supposed to have lost his
chance of New College. It had been one of the great ambitions of my
father's life that his three sons, who lived to go to Winchester,
should all become fellows of New College. But that suffering man was
never destined to have an ambition gratified. We all lost the prize
which he struggled with infinite labour to put within our reach. My
eldest brother all but achieved it, and afterwards went to Oxford,
taking three exhibitions from the school, though he lost the great
glory of a Wykamist. He has since made himself well known to the
public as a writer in connection with all Italian subjects. He is
still living as I now write. But my other brother died early.

While I was at Winchester my father's affairs went from bad to worse.
He gave up his practice at the bar, and, unfortunate that he was,
took another farm. It is odd that a man should conceive,--and in this
case a highly educated and a very clever man,--that farming should be
a business in which he might make money without any special education
or apprenticeship. Perhaps of all trades it is the one in which an
accurate knowledge of what things should be done, and the best manner
of doing them, is most necessary. And it is one also for success in
which a sufficient capital is indispensable. He had no knowledge,
and, when he took this second farm, no capital. This was the last
step preparatory to his final ruin.

Soon after I had been sent to Winchester, my mother went to America,
taking with her my brother Henry and my two sisters, who were then
no more than children. This was, I think, in 1827. I have no clear
knowledge of her object, or of my father's; but I believe that he had
an idea that money might be made by sending goods,--little goods,
such as pin-cushions, pepper-boxes, and pocket-knives,--out to the
still unfurnished States; and that she conceived that an opening
might be made for my brother Henry by erecting some bazaar or
extended shop in one of the Western cities. Whence the money came
I do not know, but the pocket-knives and the pepper-boxes were
bought, and the bazaar built. I have seen it since in the town of
Cincinnati,--a sorry building! But I have been told that in those
days it was an imposing edifice. My mother went first, with my
sisters and second brother. Then my father followed them, taking my
elder brother before he went to Oxford. But there was an interval of
some year and a half during which he and I were at Winchester

Over a period of forty years, since I began my manhood at a desk
in the Post Office, I and my brother, Thomas Adolphus, have been
fast friends. There have been hot words between us, for perfect
friendship bears and allows hot words. Few brothers have had more of
brotherhood. But in those school-days he was, of all my foes, the
worst. In accordance with the practice of the college, which submits,
or did then submit, much of the tuition of the younger boys from the
elder, he was my tutor; and in his capacity of teacher and ruler, he
had studied the theories of Draco. I remember well how he used to
exact obedience after the manner of that lawgiver. Hang a little boy
for stealing apples, he used to say, and other little boys will not
steal apples. The doctrine was already exploded elsewhere, but he
stuck to it with conservative energy. The result was that, as a part
of his daily exercise, he thrashed me with a big stick. That such
thrashings should have been possible at a school as a continual part
of one's daily life, seems to me to argue a very ill condition of
school discipline.

At this period I remember to have passed one set of holidays--the
midsummer holidays--in my father's chambers in Lincoln's Inn. There
was often a difficulty about the holidays,--as to what should be done
with me. On this occasion my amusement consisted in wandering about
among those old deserted buildings, and in reading Shakespeare out of
a bi-columned edition, which is still among my books. It was not that
I had chosen Shakespeare, but that there was nothing else to read.

After a while my brother left Winchester and accompanied my father
to America. Then another and a different horror fell to my fate.
My college bills had not been paid, and the school tradesmen who
administered to the wants of the boys were told not to extend their
credit to me. Boots, waistcoats, and pocket-handkerchiefs, which,
with some slight superveillance, were at the command of other
scholars, were closed luxuries to me. My schoolfellows of course knew
that it was so, and I became a Pariah. It is the nature of boys to
be cruel. I have sometimes doubted whether among each other they do
usually suffer much, one from the other's cruelty; but I suffered
horribly! I could make no stand against it. I had no friend to whom I
could pour out my sorrows. I was big, and awkward, and ugly, and, I
have no doubt, skulked about in a most unattractive manner. Of course
I was ill-dressed and dirty. But, ah! how well I remember all the
agonies of my young heart; how I considered whether I should always
be alone; whether I could not find my way up to the top of that
college tower, and from thence put an end to everything? And a worse
thing came than the stoppage of the supplies from the shopkeepers.
Every boy had a shilling a week pocket-money, which we called
battels, and which was advanced to us out of the pocket of the
second master. On one awful day the second master announced to me
that my battels would be stopped. He told me the reason,--the battels
for the last half-year had not been repaid; and he urged his own
unwillingness to advance the money. The loss of a shilling a week
would not have been much,--even though pocket-money from other
sources never reached me,--but that the other boys all knew it! Every
now and again, perhaps three or four times in a half-year, these
weekly shillings were given to certain servants of the college, in
payment, it may be presumed, for some extra services. And now, when
it came to the turn of any servant, he received sixty-nine shillings
instead of seventy, and the cause of the defalcation was explained
to him. I never saw one of those servants without feeling that I had
picked his pocket.

When I had been at Winchester something over three years, my father
returned to England and took me away. Whether this was done because
of the expense, or because my chance of New College was supposed to
have passed away, I do not know. As a fact, I should, I believe, have
gained the prize, as there occurred in my year an exceptional number
of vacancies. But it would have served me nothing, as there would
have been no funds for my maintenance at the University till I should
have entered in upon the fruition of the founder's endowment, and my
career at Oxford must have been unfortunate.

When I left Winchester, I had three more years of school before me,
having as yet endured nine. My father at this time having left my
mother and sisters with my younger brother in America, took himself
to live at a wretched tumble-down farmhouse on the second farm he had
hired! And I was taken there with him. It was nearly three miles from
Harrow, at Harrow Weald, but in the parish; and from this house I was
again sent to that school as a day-boarder. Let those who know what
is the usual appearance and what the usual appurtenances of a boy at
such a school, consider what must have been my condition among them,
with a daily walk of twelve miles through the lanes, added to the
other little troubles and labours of a school life!

Perhaps the eighteen months which I passed in this condition, walking
to and fro on those miserably dirty lanes, was the worst period of
my life. I was now over fifteen, and had come to an age at which I
could appreciate at its full the misery of expulsion from all social
intercourse. I had not only no friends, but was despised by all my
companions. The farmhouse was not only no more than a farmhouse, but
was one of those farmhouses which seem always to be in danger of
falling into the neighbouring horse-pond. As it crept downwards from
house to stables, from stables to barns, from barns to cowsheds, and
from cowsheds to dung-heaps, one could hardly tell where one began
and the other ended! There was a parlour in which my father lived,
shut up among big books; but I passed my most jocund hours in the
kitchen, making innocent love to the bailiff's daughter. The farm
kitchen might be very well through the evening, when the horrors of
the school were over; but it all added to the cruelty of the days.
A sizar at a Cambridge college, or a Bible-clerk at Oxford, has not
pleasant days, or used not to have them half a century ago; but his
position was recognised, and the misery was measured. I was a sizar
at a fashionable school, a condition never premeditated. What right
had a wretched farmer's boy, reeking from a dunghill, to sit next
to the sons of peers,--or much worse still, next to the sons of big
tradesmen who had made their ten thousand a-year? The indignities I
endured are not to be described. As I look back it seems to me that
all hands were turned against me,--those of masters as well as boys.
I was allowed to join in no plays. Nor did I learn anything,--for I
was taught nothing. The only expense, except that of books, to which
a house-boarder was then subject, was the fee to a tutor, amounting,
I think, to ten guineas. My tutor took me without the fee; but when
I heard him declare the fact in the pupil-room before the boys,
I hardly felt grateful for the charity. I was never a coward, and
cared for a thrashing as little as any boy, but one cannot make a
stand against the acerbities of three hundred tyrants without a
moral courage of which at that time I possessed none. I know that I
skulked, and was odious to the eyes of those I admired and envied. At
last I was driven to rebellion, and there came a great fight,--at the
end of which my opponent had to be taken home for a while. If these
words be ever printed, I trust that some schoolfellow of those days
may still be left alive who will be able to say that, in claiming
this solitary glory of my school-days, I am not making a false boast.

I wish I could give some adequate picture of the gloom of that
farmhouse. My elder brother--Tom as I must call him in my narrative,
though the world, I think, knows him best as Adolphus--was at Oxford.
My father and I lived together, he having no means of living except
what came from the farm. My memory tells me that he was always
in debt to his landlord and to the tradesmen he employed. Of
self-indulgence no one could accuse him. Our table was poorer, I
think, than that of the bailiff who still hung on to our shattered
fortunes. The furniture was mean and scanty. There was a large
rambling kitchen-garden, but no gardener; and many times verbal
incentives were made to me,--generally, I fear, in vain,--to get
me to lend a hand at digging and planting. Into the hay-field on
holidays I was often compelled to go,--not, I fear, with much profit.
My father's health was very bad. During the last ten years of his
life, he spent nearly the half of his time in bed, suffering agony
from sick headaches. But he was never idle unless when suffering. He
had at this time commenced a work,--an Encyclopædia Ecclesiastica, as
he called it,--on which he laboured to the moment of his death. It
was his ambition to describe all ecclesiastical terms, including the
denominations of every fraternity of monks and every convent of nuns,
with all their orders and subdivisions. Under crushing disadvantages,
with few or no books of reference, with immediate access to no
library, he worked at his most ungrateful task with unflagging
industry. When he died, three numbers out of eight had been published
by subscription; and are now, I fear, unknown, and buried in the
midst of that huge pile of futile literature, the building up of
which has broken so many hearts.

And my father, though he would try, as it were by a side wind, to
get a useful spurt of work out of me, either in the garden or in the
hay-field, had constantly an eye to my scholastic improvement. From
my very babyhood, before those first days at Harrow, I had to take
my place alongside of him as he shaved at six o'clock in the morning,
and say my early rules from the Latin Grammar, or repeat the Greek
alphabet; and was obliged at these early lessons to hold my head
inclined towards him, so that in the event of guilty fault, he might
be able to pull my hair without stopping his razor or dropping his
shaving-brush. No father was ever more anxious for the education of
his children, though I think none ever knew less how to go about the
work. Of amusement, as far as I can remember, he never recognised the
need. He allowed himself no distraction, and did not seem to think it
was necessary to a child. I cannot bethink me of aught that he ever
did for my gratification; but for my welfare,--for the welfare of
us all,--he was willing to make any sacrifice. At this time, in the
farmhouse at Harrow Weald, he could not give his time to teach me,
for every hour that he was not in the fields was devoted to his monks
and nuns; but he would require me to sit at a table with Lexicon and
Gradus before me. As I look back on my resolute idleness and fixed
determination to make no use whatever of the books thus thrust upon
me, or of the hours, and as I bear in mind the consciousness of great
energy in after-life, I am in doubt whether my nature is wholly
altered, or whether his plan was wholly bad. In those days he never
punished me, though I think I grieved him much by my idleness; but
in passion he knew not what he did, and he has knocked me down with
the great folio Bible which he always used. In the old house were
the two first volumes of Cooper's novel, called _The Prairie_, a
relic--probably a dishonest relic--of some subscription to Hookham's
library. Other books of the kind there was none. I wonder how many
dozen times I read those two first volumes.

It was the horror of those dreadful walks backwards and forwards
which made my life so bad. What so pleasant, what so sweet, as a walk
along an English lane, when the air is sweet and the weather fine,
and when there is a charm in walking? But here were the same lanes
four times a-day, in wet and dry, in heat and summer, with all the
accompanying mud and dust, and with disordered clothes. I might have
been known among all the boys at a hundred yards' distance by my
boots and trousers,--and was conscious at all times that I was so
known. I remembered constantly that address from Dr. Butler when I
was a little boy. Dr. Longley might with equal justice have said the
same thing any day,--only that Dr. Longley never in his life was
able to say an ill-natured word. Dr. Butler only became Dean of
Peterborough, but his successor lived to be Archbishop of Canterbury.

I think it was in the autumn of 1831 that my mother, with the rest
of the family, returned from America. She lived at first at the
farmhouse, but it was only for a short time. She came back with a
book written about the United States, and the immediate pecuniary
success which that work obtained enabled her to take us all back to
the house at Harrow,--not to the first house, which would still have
been beyond her means, but to that which has since been called Orley
Farm, and which was an Eden as compared to our abode at Harrow Weald.
Here my schooling went on under somewhat improved circumstances. The
three miles became half a mile, and probably some salutary changes
were made in my wardrobe. My mother and my sisters, too, were
there. And a great element of happiness was added to us all in the
affectionate and life-enduring friendship of the family of our close
neighbour, Colonel Grant. But I was never able to overcome--or even
to attempt to overcome--the absolute isolation of my school position.
Of the cricket-ground or racket-court I was allowed to know nothing.
And yet I longed for these things with an exceeding longing. I
coveted popularity with a covetousness that was almost mean. It
seemed to me that there would be an Elysium in the intimacy of those
very boys whom I was bound to hate because they hated me. Something
of the disgrace of my school-days has clung to me all through life.
Not that I have ever shunned to speak of them as openly as I am
writing now, but that when I have been claimed as schoolfellow by
some of those many hundreds who were with me either at Harrow or at
Winchester, I have felt that I had no right to talk of things from
most of which I was kept in estrangement.

Through all my father's troubles he still desired to send me either
to Oxford or Cambridge. My elder brother went to Oxford, and Henry to
Cambridge. It all depended on my ability to get some scholarship that
would help me to live at the University. I had many chances. There
were exhibitions from Harrow--which I never got. Twice I tried for a
sizarship at Clare Hall,--but in vain. Once I made a futile attempt
for a scholarship at Trinity, Oxford,--but failed again. Then the
idea of a university career was abandoned. And very fortunate it
was that I did not succeed, for my career with such assistance only
as a scholarship would have given me, would have ended in debt and

When I left Harrow I was all but nineteen, and I had at first gone
there at seven. During the whole of those twelve years no attempt had
been made to teach me anything but Latin and Greek, and very little
attempt to teach me those languages. I do not remember any lessons
either in writing or arithmetic. French and German I certainly was
not taught. The assertion will scarcely be credited, but I do assert
that I have no recollection of other tuition except that in the dead
languages. At the school at Sunbury there was certainly a writing
master and a French master. The latter was an extra, and I never had
extras. I suppose I must have been in the writing master's class, but
though I can call to mind the man, I cannot call to mind his ferule.
It was by their ferules that I always knew them, and they me. I feel
convinced in my mind that I have been flogged oftener than any human
being alive. It was just possible to obtain five scourgings in one
day at Winchester, and I have often boasted that I obtained them all.
Looking back over half a century, I am not quite sure whether the
boast is true; but if I did not, nobody ever did.

And yet when I think how little I knew of Latin or Greek on leaving
Harrow at nineteen, I am astonished at the possibility of such waste
of time. I am now a fair Latin scholar,--that is to say, I read and
enjoy the Latin classics, and could probably make myself understood
in Latin prose. But the knowledge which I have, I have acquired
since I left school,--no doubt aided much by that groundwork of the
language which will in the process of years make its way slowly, even
through the skin. There were twelve years of tuition in which I do
not remember that I ever knew a lesson! When I left Harrow I was
nearly at the top of the school, being a monitor, and, I think, the
seventh boy. This position I achieved by gravitation upwards. I bear
in mind well with how prodigal a hand prizes used to be showered
about; but I never got a prize. From the first to the last there was
nothing satisfactory in my school career,--except the way in which I
licked the boy who had to be taken home to be cured.



Though I do not wish in these pages to go back to the origin of all
the Trollopes, I must say a few words of my mother,--partly because
filial duty will not allow me to be silent as to a parent who made
for herself a considerable name in the literature of her day, and
partly because there were circumstances in her career well worthy
of notice. She was the daughter of the Rev. William Milton, vicar
of Heckfield, who, as well as my father, had been a fellow of New
College. She was nearly thirty when, in 1809, she married my father.
Six or seven years ago a bundle of love-letters from her to him fell
into my hand in a very singular way, having been found in the house
of a stranger, who, with much courtesy, sent them to me. They were
then about sixty years old, and had been written some before and some
after her marriage, over the space of perhaps a year. In no novel
of Richardson's or Miss Burney's have I seen a correspondence at
the same time so sweet, so graceful, and so well expressed. But the
marvel of these letters was in the strange difference they bore to
the love-letters of the present day. They are, all of them, on square
paper, folded and sealed, and addressed to my father on circuit; but
the language in each, though it almost borders on the romantic, is
beautifully chosen, and fit, without change of a syllable, for the
most critical eye. What girl now studies the words with which she
shall address her lover, or seeks to charm him with grace of diction?
She dearly likes a little slang, and revels in the luxury of entire
familiarity with a new and strange being. There is something in that,
too, pleasant to our thoughts, but I fear that this phase of life
does not conduce to a taste for poetry among our girls. Though my
mother was a writer of prose, and revelled in satire, the poetic
feeling clung to her to the last.

In the first ten years of her married life she became the mother of
six children, four of whom died of consumption at different ages.
My elder sister married, and had children, of whom one still lives;
but she was one of the four who followed each other at intervals
during my mother's lifetime. Then my brother Tom and I were left to
her,--with the destiny before us three of writing more books than
were probably ever before produced by a single family.[2] My married
sister added to the number by one little anonymous high church story,
called _Chollerton_.

   [Footnote 2: The family of Estienne, the great French printers
   of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, of whom there were
   at least nine or ten, did more perhaps for the production of
   literature than any other family. But they, though they edited,
   and not unfrequently translated the works which they published,
   were not authors in the ordinary sense.]

From the date of their marriage up to 1827, when my mother went to
America, my father's affairs had always been going down in the world.
She had loved society, affecting a somewhat liberal _rôle_, and
professing an emotional dislike to tyrants, which sprung from the
wrongs of would-be regicides and the poverty of patriot exiles. An
Italian marquis who had escaped with only a second shirt from the
clutches of some archduke whom he had wished to exterminate, or a
French _prolétaire_ with distant ideas of sacrificing himself to
the cause of liberty, were always welcome to the modest hospitality
of her house. In after years, when marquises of another caste had
been gracious to her, she became a strong Tory, and thought that
archduchesses were sweet. But with her politics were always an affair
of the heart,--as, indeed, were all her convictions. Of reasoning
from causes, I think that she knew nothing. Her heart was in every
way so perfect, her desire to do good to all around her so thorough,
and her power of self-sacrifice so complete, that she generally
got herself right in spite of her want of logic; but it must be
acknowledged that she was emotional. I can remember now her books,
and can see her at her pursuits. The poets she loved best were Dante
and Spenser. But she raved also of him of whom all such ladies
were raving then, and rejoiced in the popularity and wept over the
persecution of Lord Byron. She was among those who seized with
avidity on the novels, as they came out, of the then unknown Scott,
and who could still talk of the triumphs of Miss Edgeworth. With the
literature of the day she was familiar, and with the poets of the
past. Of other reading I do not think she had mastered much. Her
life, I take it, though latterly clouded by many troubles, was easy,
luxurious, and idle, till my father's affairs and her own aspirations
sent her to America. She had dear friends among literary people, of
whom I remember Mathias, Henry Milman, and Miss Landon; but till long
after middle life she never herself wrote a line for publication.

In 1827 she went to America, having been partly instigated by the
social and communistic ideas of a lady whom I well remember,--a
certain Miss Wright,--who was, I think, the first of the American
female lecturers. Her chief desire, however, was to establish my
brother Henry; and perhaps joined with that was the additional object
of breaking up her English home without pleading broken fortunes
to all the world. At Cincinnati, in the State of Ohio, she built a
bazaar, and I fancy lost all the money which may have been embarked
in that speculation. It could not have been much, and I think that
others also must have suffered. But she looked about her, at her
American cousins, and resolved to write a book about them. This book
she brought back with her in 1831, and published it early in 1832.
When she did this she was already fifty. When doing this she was
aware that unless she could so succeed in making money, there was
no money for any of the family. She had never before earned a
shilling. She almost immediately received a considerable sum from the
publishers,--if I remember rightly, amounting to two sums of £400
each within a few months; and from that moment till nearly the time
of her death, at any rate for more than twenty years, she was in the
receipt of a considerable income from her writings. It was a late age
at which to begin such a career.

_The Domestic Manners of the Americans_ was the first of a series
of books of travels, of which it was probably the best, and was
certainly the best known. It will not be too much to say of it that
it had a material effect upon the manners of the Americans of the
day, and that that effect has been fully appreciated by them. No
observer was certainly ever less qualified to judge of the prospects
or even of the happiness of a young people. No one could have been
worse adapted by nature for the task of learning whether a nation
was in a way to thrive. Whatever she saw she judged, as most women
do, from her own standing-point. If a thing were ugly to her eyes,
it ought to be ugly to all eyes,--and if ugly, it must be bad. What
though people had plenty to eat and clothes to wear, if they put
their feet upon the tables and did not reverence their betters? The
Americans were to her rough, uncouth, and vulgar,--and she told them
so. Those communistic and social ideas, which had been so pretty in
a drawing-room, were scattered to the winds. Her volumes were very
bitter; but they were very clever, and they saved the family from

Book followed book immediately,--first two novels, and then a book on
Belgium and Western Germany. She refurnished the house which I have
called Orley Farm, and surrounded us again with moderate comforts. Of
the mixture of joviality and industry which formed her character, it
is almost impossible to speak with exaggeration. The industry was a
thing apart, kept to herself. It was not necessary that any one who
lived with her should see it. She was at her table at four in the
morning, and had finished her work before the world had begun to be
aroused. But the joviality was all for others. She could dance with
other people's legs, eat and drink with other people's palates, be
proud with the lustre of other people's finery. Every mother can do
that for her own daughters; but she could do it for any girl whose
look, and voice, and manners pleased her. Even when she was at work,
the laughter of those she loved was a pleasure to her. She had much,
very much, to suffer. Work sometimes came hard to her, so much being
required,--for she was extravagant, and liked to have money to spend;
but of all people I have known she was the most joyous, or, at any
rate, the most capable of joy.

We continued this renewed life at Harrow for nearly two years, during
which I was still at the school, and at the end of which I was nearly
nineteen. Then there came a great catastrophe. My father, who, when
he was well, lived a sad life among his monks and nuns, still kept a
horse and gig. One day in March, 1834, just as it had been decided
that I should leave the school then, instead of remaining, as had
been intended, till midsummer, I was summoned very early in the
morning, to drive him up to London. He had been ill, and must still
have been very ill indeed when he submitted to be driven by any one.
It was not till we had started that he told me that I was to put him
on board the Ostend boat. This I did, driving him through the city
down to the docks. It was not within his nature to be communicative,
and to the last he never told me why he was going to Ostend.
Something of a general flitting abroad I had heard before, but why he
should have flown the first, and flown so suddenly, I did not in the
least know till I returned. When I got back with the gig, the house
and furniture were all in the charge of the sheriff's officers.

The gardener who had been with us in former days stopped me as I
drove up the road, and with gestures, signs, and whispered words,
gave me to understand that the whole affair--horse, gig, and
harness--would be made prize of if I went but a few yards farther.
Why they should not have been made prize of I do not know. The little
piece of dishonest business which I at once took in hand and carried
through successfully was of no special service to any of us. I
drove the gig into the village, and sold the entire equipage to the
ironmonger for £17, the exact sum which he claimed as being due to
himself. I was much complimented by the gardener, who seemed to think
that so much had been rescued out of the fire. I fancy that the
ironmonger was the only gainer by my smartness.

When I got back to the house a scene of devastation was in progress,
which still was not without its amusement. My mother, through
her various troubles, had contrived to keep a certain number of
pretty-pretties which were dear to her heart. They were not much, for
in those days the ornamentation of houses was not lavish as it is
now; but there was some china, and a little glass, a few books, and
a very moderate supply of household silver. These things, and things
like them, were being carried down surreptitiously, through a gap
between the two gardens, on to the premises of our friend Colonel
Grant. My two sisters, then sixteen and seventeen, and the Grant
girls, who were just younger, were the chief marauders. To such
forces I was happy to add myself for any enterprise, and between us
we cheated the creditors to the extent of our powers, amidst the
anathemas, but good-humoured abstinence from personal violence, of
the men in charge of the property. I still own a few books that were
thus purloined.

For a few days the whole family bivouacked under the Colonel's
hospitable roof, cared for and comforted by that dearest of all
women, his wife. Then we followed my father to Belgium, and
established ourselves in a large house just outside the walls of
Bruges. At this time, and till my father's death, everything was
done with money earned by my mother. She now again furnished the
house,--this being the third that she had put in order since she
came back from America two years and a half ago.

There were six of us went into this new banishment. My brother Henry
had left Cambridge and was ill. My younger sister was ill. And though
as yet we hardly told each other that it was so, we began to feel
that that desolating fiend, consumption, was among us. My father was
broken-hearted as well as ill, but whenever he could sit at his table
he still worked at his ecclesiastical records. My elder sister and I
were in good health, but I was an idle, desolate hanger-on, that most
hopeless of human beings, a hobbledehoy of nineteen, without any idea
of a career, or a profession, or a trade. As well as I can remember
I was fairly happy, for there were pretty girls at Bruges with whom
I could fancy that I was in love; and I had been removed from the
real misery of school. But as to my future life I had not even an
aspiration. Now and again there would arise a feeling that it was
hard upon my mother that she should have to do so much for us, that
we should be idle while she was forced to work so constantly; but we
should probably have thought more of that had she not taken to work
as though it were the recognised condition of life for an old lady of

Then, by degrees, an established sorrow was at home among us. My
brother was an invalid, and the horrid word, which of all words were
for some years after the most dreadful to us, had been pronounced.
It was no longer a delicate chest, and some temporary necessity for
peculiar care,--but consumption! The Bruges doctor had said so, and
we knew that he was right. From that time forth my mother's most
visible occupation was that of nursing. There were two sick men in
the house, and hers were the hands that tended them. The novels went
on, of course. We had already learned to know that they would be
forthcoming at stated intervals,--and they always were forthcoming.
The doctor's vials and the ink-bottle held equal places in my
mother's rooms. I have written many novels under many circumstances;
but I doubt much whether I could write one when my whole heart was by
the bedside of a dying son. Her power of dividing herself into two
parts, and keeping her intellect by itself clear from the troubles of
the world, and fit for the duty it had to do, I never saw equalled. I
do not think that the writing of a novel is the most difficult task
which a man may be called upon to do; but it is a task that may be
supposed to demand a spirit fairly at ease. The work of doing it with
a troubled spirit killed Sir Walter Scott. My mother went through it
unscathed in strength, though she performed all the work of day-nurse
and night-nurse to a sick household;--for there were soon three of
them dying.

At this time there came from some quarter an offer to me of a
commission in an Austrian cavalry regiment; and so it was apparently
my destiny to be a soldier. But I must first learn German and French,
of which languages I knew almost nothing. For this a year was allowed
me, and in order that it might be accomplished without expense, I
undertook the duties of a classical usher to a school then kept by
William Drury at Brussels. Mr. Drury had been one of the masters at
Harrow when I went there at seven years old, and is now, after an
interval of fifty-three years, even yet officiating as clergyman at
that place.[3] To Brussels I went, and my heart still sinks within
me as I reflect that any one should have intrusted to me the tuition
of thirty boys. I can only hope that those boys went there to learn
French, and that their parents were not particular as to their
classical acquirements. I remember that on two occasions I was sent
to take the school out for a walk; but that after the second attempt
Mrs. Drury declared that the boys' clothes would not stand any
further experiments of that kind. I cannot call to mind any learning
by me of other languages; but as I only remained in that position for
six weeks, perhaps the return lessons had not been as yet commenced.
At the end of the six weeks a letter reached me, offering me a
clerkship in the General Post Office, and I accepted it. Among my
mother's dearest friends she reckoned Mrs. Freeling, the wife of
Clayton Freeling, whose father, Sir Francis Freeling, then ruled the
Post Office. She had heard of my desolate position, and had begged
from her father-in-law the offer of a berth in his own office.

   [Footnote 3: He died two years after these words were written.]

I hurried back from Brussels to Bruges on my way to London, and
found that the number of invalids had been increased. My younger
sister, Emily, who, when I had left the house, was trembling on the
balance,--who had been pronounced to be delicate, but with that
false-tongued hope which knows the truth, but will lie lest the heart
should faint, had been called delicate, but only delicate,--was now
ill. Of course she was doomed. I knew it of both of them, though I
had never heard the word spoken, or had spoken it to any one. And my
father was very ill,--ill to dying, though I did not know it. And my
mother had decreed to send my elder sister away to England, thinking
that the vicinity of so much sickness might be injurious to her. All
this happened late in the autumn of 1834, in the spring of which
year we had come to Bruges; and then my mother was left alone in
a big house outside the town, with two Belgian women-servants, to
nurse these dying patients--the patients being her husband and
children--and to write novels for the sustenance of the family!
It was about this period of her career that her best novels were

To my own initiation at the Post Office I will return in the next
chapter. Just before Christmas my brother died, and was buried at
Bruges. In the following February my father died, and was buried
alongside of him,--and with him died that tedious task of his,
which I can only hope may have solaced many of his latter hours. I
sometimes look back, meditating for hours together, on his adverse
fate. He was a man, finely educated, of great parts, with immense
capacity for work, physically strong very much beyond the average of
men, addicted to no vices, carried off by no pleasures, affectionate
by nature, most anxious for the welfare of his children, born to fair
fortunes,--who, when he started in the world, may be said to have had
everything at his feet. But everything went wrong with him. The touch
of his hand seemed to create failure. He embarked in one hopeless
enterprise after another, spending on each all the money he could at
the time command. But the worse curse to him of all was a temper so
irritable that even those whom he loved the best could not endure it.
We were all estranged from him, and yet I believe that he would have
given his heart's blood for any of us. His life as I knew it was one
long tragedy.

After his death my mother moved to England, and took and furnished a
small house at Hadley, near Barnet. I was then a clerk in the London
Post Office, and I remember well how gay she made the place with
little dinners, little dances, and little picnics, while she herself
was at work every morning long before others had left their beds. But
she did not stay at Hadley much above a year. She went up to London,
where she again took and furnished a house, from which my remaining
sister was married and carried away into Cumberland. My mother soon
followed her, and on this occasion did more than take a house. She
bought a bit of land,--a field of three acres near the town,--and
built a residence for herself. This, I think, was in 1841, and she
had thus established and re-established herself six times in ten
years. But in Cumberland she found the climate too severe, and in
1844 she moved herself to Florence, where she remained till her death
in 1863. She continued writing up to 1856, when she was seventy-six
years old,--and had at that time produced 114 volumes, of which the
first was not written till she was fifty. Her career offers great
encouragement to those who have not begun early in life, but are
still ambitious to do something before they depart hence.

She was an unselfish, affectionate, and most industrious woman,
with great capacity for enjoyment and high physical gifts. She was
endowed too, with much creative power, with considerable humour, and
a genuine feeling for romance. But she was neither clear-sighted nor
accurate; and in her attempts to describe morals, manners, and even
facts, was unable to avoid the pitfalls of exaggeration.



While I was still learning my duty as an usher at Mr. Drury's school
at Brussels, I was summoned to my clerkship in the London Post
Office, and on my way passed through Bruges. I then saw my father
and my brother Henry for the last time. A sadder household never was
held together. They were all dying; except my mother, who would sit
up night after night nursing the dying ones and writing novels the
while,--so that there might be a decent roof for them to die under.
Had she failed to write the novels, I do not know where the roof
would have been found. It is now more than forty years ago, and
looking back over so long a lapse of time I can tell the story,
though it be the story of my own father and mother, of my own brother
and sister, almost as coldly as I have often done some scene of
intended pathos in fiction; but that scene was indeed full of pathos.
I was then becoming alive to the blighted ambition of my father's
life, and becoming alive also to the violence of the strain which my
mother was enduring. But I could do nothing but go and leave them.
There was something that comforted me in the idea that I need no
longer be a burden,--a fallacious idea, as it soon proved. My salary
was to be £90 a year, and on that I was to live in London, keep up my
character as a gentleman, and be happy. That I should have thought
this possible at the age of nineteen, and should have been delighted
at being able to make the attempt, does not surprise me now; but that
others should have thought it possible, friends who knew something
of the world, does astonish me. A lad might have done so, no doubt,
or might do so even in these days, who was properly looked after and
kept under control,--on whose behalf some law of life had been laid
down. Let him pay so much a week for his board and lodging, so much
for his clothes, so much for his washing, and then let him understand
that he has--shall we say?--sixpence a day left for pocket-money and
omnibuses. Any one making the calculation will find the sixpence
far too much. No such calculation was made for me or by me. It was
supposed that a sufficient income had been secured to me, and that
I should live upon it as other clerks lived.

But as yet the £90 a year was not secured to me. On reaching London
I went to my friend Clayton Freeling, who was then secretary at the
Stamp Office, and was taken by him to the scene of my future labours
in St. Martin's le Grand. Sir Francis Freeling was the secretary,
but he was greatly too high an official to be seen at first by a
new junior clerk. I was taken, therefore, to his eldest son Henry
Freeling, who was the assistant secretary, and by him I was examined
as to my fitness. The story of that examination is given accurately
in one of the opening chapters of a novel written by me, called _The
Three Clerks_. If any reader of this memoir would refer to that
chapter and see how Charley Tudor was supposed to have been admitted
into the Internal Navigation Office, that reader will learn how
Anthony Trollope was actually admitted into the Secretary's office
of the General Post Office in 1834. I was asked to copy some lines
from the _Times_ newspaper with an old quill pen, and at once made a
series of blots and false spellings. "That won't do, you know," said
Henry Freeling to his brother Clayton. Clayton, who was my friend,
urged that I was nervous, and asked that I might be allowed to do a
bit of writing at home and bring it as a sample on the next day. I
was then asked whether I was a proficient in arithmetic. What could
I say? I had never learned the multiplication table, and had no more
idea of the rule of three than of conic sections. "I know a little
of it," I said humbly, whereupon I was sternly assured that on the
morrow, should I succeed in showing that my handwriting was all that
it ought to be, I should be examined as to that little of arithmetic.
If that little should not be found to comprise a thorough knowledge
of all the ordinary rules, together with practised and quick skill,
my career in life could not be made at the Post Office. Going down
the main stairs of the building,--stairs which have I believe been
now pulled down to make room for sorters and stampers,--Clayton
Freeling told me not to be too downhearted. I was myself inclined
to think that I had better go back to the school in Brussels. But
nevertheless I went to work, and under the surveillance of my elder
brother made a beautiful transcript of four or five pages of Gibbon.
With a faltering heart I took these on the next day to the office.
With my caligraphy I was contented, but was certain that I should
come to the ground among the figures. But when I got to "The Grand,"
as we used to call our office in those days, from its site in St.
Martin's le Grand, I was seated at a desk without any further
reference to my competency. No one condescended even to look at my
beautiful penmanship.

That was the way in which candidates for the Civil Service were
examined in my young days. It was at any rate the way in which I
was examined. Since that time there has been a very great change
indeed;--and in some respects a great improvement. But in regard
to the absolute fitness of the young men selected for the public
service, I doubt whether more harm has not been done than good. And
I think that good might have been done without the harm. The rule
of the present day is, that every place shall be open to public
competition, and that it shall be given to the best among the comers.
I object to this, that at present there exists no known mode of
learning who is best, and that the method employed has no tendency
to elicit the best. That method pretends only to decide who among a
certain number of lads will best answer a string of questions, for
the answering of which they are prepared by tutors, who have sprung
up for the purpose since this fashion of election has been adopted.
When it is decided in a family that a boy shall "try the Civil
Service," he is made to undergo a certain amount of cramming.
But such treatment has, I maintain, no connection whatever with
education. The lad is no better fitted after it than he was before
for the future work of his life. But his very success fills him with
false ideas of his own educational standing, and so far unfits him.
And, by the plan now in vogue, it has come to pass that no one is in
truth responsible either for the conduct, the manners, or even for
the character of the youth. The responsibility was perhaps slight
before; but existed, and was on the increase.

There might have been,--in some future time of still increased
wisdom, there yet may be,--a department established to test the
fitness of acolytes without recourse to the dangerous optimism of
competitive choice. I will not say but that there should have been
some one to reject me,--though I will have the hardihood to say that,
had I been so rejected, the Civil Service would have lost a valuable
public servant. This is a statement that will not, I think, be denied
by those who, after I am gone, may remember anything of my work.
Lads, no doubt, should not be admitted who have none of the small
acquirements that are wanted. Our offices should not be schools in
which writing and early lessons in geography, arithmetic, or French
should be learned. But all that could be ascertained without the
perils of competitive examination.

The desire to insure the efficiency of the young men selected, has
not been the only object--perhaps not the chief object--of those who
have yielded in this matter to the arguments of the reformers. There
had arisen in England a system of patronage, under which it had
become gradually necessary for politicians to use their influence for
the purchase of political support. A member of the House of Commons,
holding office, who might chance to have five clerkships to give away
in a year, found himself compelled to distribute them among those
who sent him to the House. In this there was nothing pleasant to the
distributer of patronage. Do away with the system altogether, and
he would have as much chance of support as another. He bartered
his patronage only because another did so also. The beggings,
the refusings, the jealousies, the correspondence, were simply
troublesome. Gentlemen in office were not therefore indisposed to rid
themselves of the care of patronage. I have no doubt their hands are
the cleaner and their hearts are the lighter; but I do doubt whether
the offices are on the whole better manned.

As what I now write will certainly never be read till I am dead, I
may dare to say what no one now does dare to say in print,--though
some of us whisper it occasionally into our friends' ears. There are
places in life which can hardly be well filled except by "Gentlemen."
The word is one the use of which almost subjects one to ignominy. If
I say that a judge should be a gentleman, or a bishop, I am met with
a scornful allusion to "Nature's Gentlemen." Were I to make such an
assertion with reference to the House of Commons, nothing that I ever
said again would receive the slightest attention. A man in public
life could not do himself a greater injury than by saying in public
that the commissions in the army or navy, or berths in the Civil
Service, should be given exclusively to gentlemen. He would be defied
to define the term,--and would fail should he attempt to do so. But
he would know what he meant, and so very probably would they who
defied him. It may be that the son of the butcher of the village
shall become as well fitted for employments requiring gentle culture
as the son of the parson. Such is often the case. When such is the
case, no one has been more prone to give the butcher's son all the
welcome he has merited than I myself; but the chances are greatly
in favour of the parson's son. The gates of the one class should be
open to the other; but neither to the one class nor to the other can
good be done by declaring that there are no gates, no barrier, no
difference. The system of competitive examination is, I think, based
on a supposition that there is no difference.

I got into my place without any examining. Looking back now, I think
I can see with accuracy what was then the condition of my own mind
and intelligence. Of things to be learned by lessons I knew almost
less than could be supposed possible after the amount of schooling I
had received. I could read neither French, Latin, nor Greek. I could
speak no foreign language,--and I may as well say here as elsewhere
that I never acquired the power of really talking French. I have been
able to order my dinner and take a railway ticket, but never got much
beyond that. Of the merest rudiments of the sciences I was completely
ignorant. My handwriting was in truth wretched. My spelling was
imperfect. There was no subject as to which examination would have
been possible on which I could have gone through an examination
otherwise than disgracefully. And yet I think I knew more than the
average of young men of the same rank who began life at nineteen.
I could have given a fuller list of the names of the poets of
all countries, with their subjects and periods,--and probably of
historians,--than many others; and had, perhaps, a more accurate idea
of the manner in which my own country was governed. I knew the names
of all the Bishops, all the Judges, all the Heads of Colleges, and
all the Cabinet Ministers,--not a very useful knowledge indeed, but
one that had not been acquired without other matter which was more
useful. I had read Shakespeare and Byron and Scott, and could talk
about them. The music of the Miltonic line was familiar to me. I had
already made up my mind that _Pride and Prejudice_ was the best novel
in the English language,--a palm which I only partially withdrew
after a second reading of _Ivanhoe_, and did not completely bestow
elsewhere till _Esmond_ was written. And though I would occasionally
break down in my spelling, I could write a letter. If I had a thing
to say, I could so say it in written words that the readers should
know what I meant,--a power which is by no means at the command of
all those who come out from these competitive examinations with
triumph. Early in life, at the age of fifteen, I had commenced the
dangerous habit of keeping a journal, and this I maintained for
ten years. The volumes remained in my possession unregarded--never
looked at--till 1870, when I examined them, and, with many blushes,
destroyed them. They convicted me of folly, ignorance, indiscretion,
idleness, extravagance, and conceit. But they had habituated me to
the rapid use of pen and ink, and taught me how to express myself
with facility.

I will mention here another habit which had grown upon me from still
earlier years,--which I myself often regarded with dismay when I
thought of the hours devoted to it, but which, I suppose, must have
tended to make me what I have been. As a boy, even as a child, I
was thrown much upon myself. I have explained, when speaking of my
school-days, how it came to pass that other boys would not play with
me. I was therefore alone, and had to form my plays within myself.
Play of some kind was necessary to me then, as it has always been.
Study was not my bent, and I could not please myself by being all
idle. Thus it came to pass that I was always going about with some
castle in the air firmly built within my mind. Nor were these efforts
in architecture spasmodic, or subject to constant change from day
to day. For weeks, for months, if I remember rightly, from year to
year, I would carry on the same tale, binding myself down to certain
laws, to certain proportions, and proprieties, and unities. Nothing
impossible was ever introduced,--nor even anything which, from
outward circumstances, would seem to be violently improbable.
I myself was of course my own hero. Such is a necessity of
castle-building. But I never became a king, or a duke,--much less
when my height and personal appearance were fixed could I be an
Antinous, or six feet high. I never was a learned man, nor even a
philosopher. But I was a very clever person, and beautiful young
women used to be fond of me. And I strove to be kind of heart, and
open of hand, and noble in thought, despising mean things; and
altogether I was a very much better fellow than I have ever succeeded
in being since. This had been the occupation of my life for six or
seven years before I went to the Post Office, and was by no means
abandoned when I commenced my work. There can, I imagine, hardly be
a more dangerous mental practice; but I have often doubted whether,
had it not been my practice, I should ever have written a novel. I
learned in this way to maintain an interest in a fictitious story, to
dwell on a work created by my own imagination, and to live in a world
altogether outside the world of my own material life. In after years
I have done the same,--with this difference, that I have discarded
the hero of my early dreams, and have been able to lay my own
identity aside.

I must certainly acknowledge that the first seven years of my
official life were neither creditable to myself nor useful to the
public service. These seven years were passed in London, and during
this period of my life it was my duty to be present every morning
at the office punctually at 10 A.M. I think I commenced my quarrels
with the authorities there by having in my possession a watch which
was always ten minutes late. I know that I very soon achieved a
character for irregularity, and came to be regarded as a black sheep
by men around me who were not themselves, I think, very good public
servants. From time to time rumours reached me that if I did not
take care I should be dismissed; especially one rumour in my early
days, through my dearly beloved friend Mrs. Clayton Freeling,--who,
as I write this, is still living, and who, with tears in her eyes,
besought me to think of my mother. That was during the life of Sir
Francis Freeling, who died,--still in harness,--a little more than
twelve months after I joined the office. And yet the old man showed
me signs of almost affectionate kindness, writing to me with his own
hand more than once from his death-bed.

Sir Francis Freeling was followed at the Post Office by Colonel
Maberly, who certainly was not my friend. I do not know that I
deserved to find a friend in my new master, but I think that a man
with better judgment would not have formed so low an opinion of me
as he did. Years have gone by, and I can write now, and almost feel,
without anger; but I can remember well the keenness of my anguish
when I was treated as though I were unfit for any useful work. I did
struggle--not to do the work, for there was nothing which was not
easy without any struggling--but to show that I was willing to do it.
My bad character nevertheless stuck to me, and was not to be got rid
of by any efforts within my power. I do admit that I was irregular.
It was not considered to be much in my favour that I could write
letters--which was mainly the work of our office--rapidly, correctly,
and to the purpose. The man who came at ten, and who was always still
at his desk at half-past four, was preferred before me, though when
at his desk he might be less efficient. Such preference was no doubt
proper; but, with a little encouragement, I also would have been
punctual. I got credit for nothing, and was reckless.

As it was, the conduct of some of us was very bad. There was a
comfortable sitting-room up-stairs, devoted to the use of some one of
our number who in turn was required to remain in the place all night.
Hither one or two of us would adjourn after lunch, and play _écarté_
for an hour or two. I do not know whether such ways are possible
now in our public offices. And here we used to have suppers and
card-parties at night--great symposiums, with much smoking of
tobacco; for in our part of the building there lived a whole bevy of
clerks. These were gentlemen whose duty it then was to make up and
receive the foreign mails. I do not remember that they worked later
or earlier than the other sorting-clerks; but there was supposed to
be something special in foreign letters, which required that the men
who handled them should have minds undistracted by the outer world.
Their salaries, too, were higher than those of their more homely
brethren; and they paid nothing for their lodgings. Consequently
there was a somewhat fast set in those apartments, given to cards and
to tobacco, who drank spirits and water in preference to tea. I was
not one of them, but was a good deal with them.

I do not know that I should interest my readers by saying much of
my Post Office experiences in those days. I was always on the eve
of being dismissed, and yet was always striving to show how good a
public servant I could become, if only a chance were given me. But
the chance went the wrong way. On one occasion, in the performance of
my duty, I had to put a private letter containing bank-notes on the
secretary's table,--which letter I had duly opened, as it was not
marked private. The letter was seen by the Colonel, but had not been
moved by him when he left the room. On his return it was gone. In the
meantime I had returned to the room, again in the performance of some
duty. When the letter was missed I was sent for, and there I found
the Colonel much moved about his letter, and a certain chief clerk,
who, with a long face, was making suggestions as to the probable fate
of the money. "The letter has been taken," said the Colonel, turning
to me angrily, "and, by G----! there has been nobody in the room but
you and I." As he spoke, he thundered his fist down upon the table.
"Then," said I, "by G----! you have taken it." And I also thundered
my fist down;--but, accidentally, not upon the table. There was there
a standing movable desk, at which, I presume, it was the Colonel's
habit to write, and on this movable desk was a large bottle full of
ink. My fist unfortunately came on the desk, and the ink at once flew
up, covering the Colonel's face and shirt-front. Then it was a sight
to see that senior clerk, as he seized a quire of blotting-paper, and
rushed to the aid of his superior officer, striving to mop up the
ink; and a sight also to see the Colonel, in his agony, hit right
out through the blotting-paper at that senior clerk's unoffending
stomach. At that moment there came in the Colonel's private
secretary, with the letter and the money, and I was desired to go
back to my own room. This was an incident not much in my favour,
though I do not know that it did me special harm.

I was always in trouble. A young woman down in the country had taken
it into her head that she would like to marry me,--and a very foolish
young woman she must have been to entertain such a wish. I need
not tell that part of the story more at length, otherwise than by
protesting that no young man in such a position was ever much less to
blame than I had been in this. The invitation had come from her, and
I had lacked the pluck to give it a decided negative; but I had left
the house within half an hour, going away without my dinner, and had
never returned to it. Then there was a correspondence,--if that can
be called a correspondence in which all the letters came from one
side. At last the mother appeared at the Post Office. My hair almost
stands on my head now as I remember the figure of the woman walking
into the big room in which I sat with six or seven other clerks,
having a large basket on her arm and an immense bonnet on her head.
The messenger had vainly endeavoured to persuade her to remain in the
ante-room. She followed the man in, and walking up the centre of the
room, addressed me in a loud voice: "Anthony Trollope, when are you
going to marry my daughter?" We have all had our worst moments, and
that was one of my worst. I lived through it, however, and did not
marry the young lady. These little incidents were all against me in
the office.

And then a certain other phase of my private life crept into official
view, and did me a damage. As I shall explain just now, I rarely at
this time had any money wherewith to pay my bills. In this state of
things a certain tailor had taken from me an acceptance for, I think,
£12, which found its way into the hands of a money-lender. With that
man, who lived in a little street near Mecklenburgh Square, I formed
a most heart-rending but a most intimate acquaintance. In cash I once
received from him £4. For that and for the original amount of the
tailor's bill, which grew monstrously under repeated renewals, I paid
ultimately something over £200. That is so common a story as to be
hardly worth the telling; but the peculiarity of this man was that he
became so attached to me as to visit me every day at my office. For a
long period he found it to be worth his while to walk up those stone
steps daily, and come and stand behind my chair, whispering to me
always the same words: "Now I wish you would be punctual. If you only
would be punctual, I should like you to have anything you want." He
was a little, clean, old man, who always wore a high starched white
cravat, inside which he had a habit of twisting his chin as he
uttered his caution. When I remember the constant persistency of his
visits, I cannot but feel that he was paid very badly for his time
and trouble. Those visits were very terrible, and can have hardly
been of service to me in the office.

Of one other misfortune which happened to me in those days I must
tell the tale. A junior clerk in the secretary's office was always
told off to sleep upon the premises, and he was supposed to be the
presiding genius of the establishment when the other members of the
Secretary's department had left the building. On an occasion when
I was still little more than a lad,--perhaps one-and-twenty years
old,--I was filling this responsible position. At about seven in the
evening word was brought to me that the Queen of,--I think Saxony,
but I am sure it was a Queen,--wanted to see the night mails sent
out. At this time, when there were many mail-coaches, this was
a show, and august visitors would sometimes come to see it. But
preparation was generally made beforehand, and some pundit of the
office would be at hand to do the honours. On this occasion we were
taken by surprise, and there was no pundit. I therefore gave the
orders, and accompanied her Majesty around the building, walking
backwards, as I conceived to be proper, and often in great peril as
I did so, up and down the stairs. I was, however, quite satisfied
with my own manner of performing an unaccustomed and most important
duty. There were two old gentlemen with her Majesty, who, no doubt,
were German barons, and an ancient baroness also. They had come
and, when they had seen the sights, took their departure in two
glass coaches. As they were preparing to go, I saw the two barons
consulting together in deep whispers, and then as the result of that
conversation one of them handed me half-a-crown! That also was a bad

I came up to town, as I said before, purporting to live a jolly
life upon £90 per annum. I remained seven years in the General Post
Office, and when I left it my income was £140. During the whole
of this time I was hopelessly in debt. There were two intervals,
amounting together to nearly two years, in which I lived with
my mother, and therefore lived in comfort,--but even then I was
overwhelmed with debt. She paid much for me,--paid all that I asked
her to pay, and all that she could find out that I owed. But who in
such a condition ever tells all and makes a clean breast of it? The
debts, of course, were not large, but I cannot think now how I could
have lived, and sometimes have enjoyed life, with such a burden of
duns as I endured. Sheriff's officers with uncanny documents, of
which I never understood anything, were common attendants on me. And
yet I do not remember that I was ever locked up, though I think I was
twice a prisoner. In such emergencies some one paid for me. And now,
looking back at it, I have to ask myself whether my youth was very
wicked. I did no good in it; but was there fair ground for expecting
good from me? When I reached London no mode of life was prepared
for me,--no advice even given to me. I went into lodgings, and then
had to dispose of my time. I belonged to no club, and knew very few
friends who would receive me into their houses. In such a condition
of life a young man should no doubt go home after his work, and spend
the long hours of the evening in reading good books and drinking tea.
A lad brought up by strict parents, and without having had even a
view of gayer things, might perhaps do so. I had passed all my life
at public schools, where I had seen gay things, but had never enjoyed
them. Towards the good books and tea no training had been given me.
There was no house in which I could habitually see a lady's face and
hear a lady's voice. No allurement to decent respectability came in
my way. It seems to me that in such circumstances the temptations of
loose life will almost certainly prevail with a young man. Of course
if the mind be strong enough, and the general stuff knitted together
of sufficiently stern material, the temptations will not prevail. But
such minds and such material are, I think, uncommon. The temptation
at any rate prevailed with me.

I wonder how many young men fall utterly to pieces from being
turned loose into London after the same fashion. Mine was, I think,
of all phases of such life the most dangerous. The lad who is
sent to mechanical work has longer hours, during which he is kept
from danger, and has not generally been taught in his boyhood
to anticipate pleasure. He looks for hard work and grinding
circumstances. I certainly had enjoyed but little pleasure, but I had
been among those who did enjoy it and were taught to expect it. And
I had filled my mind with the ideas of such joys. And now, except
during official hours, I was entirely without control,--without the
influences of any decent household around me. I have said something
of the comedy of such life, but it certainly had its tragic aspect.
Turning it all over in my own mind, as I have constantly done in
after years, the tragedy has always been uppermost. And so it was as
the time was passing. Could there be any escape from such dirt? I
would ask myself; and I always answered that there was no escape.
The mode of life was itself wretched. I hated the office. I hated
my work. More than all I hated my idleness. I had often told myself
since I left school that the only career in life within my reach was
that of an author, and the only mode of authorship open to me that of
a writer of novels. In the journal which I read and destroyed a few
years since, I found the matter argued out before I had been in the
Post Office two years. Parliament was out of the question. I had not
means to go to the Bar. In official life, such as that to which I
had been introduced, there did not seem to be any opening for real
success. Pens and paper I could command. Poetry I did not believe to
be within my grasp. The drama, too, which I would fain have chosen,
I believed to be above me. For history, biography, or essay writing I
had not sufficient erudition. But I thought it possible that I might
write a novel. I had resolved very early that in that shape must the
attempt be made. But the months and years ran on, and no attempt was
made. And yet no day was passed without thoughts of attempting, and a
mental acknowledgment of the disgrace of postponing it. What reader
will not understand the agony of remorse produced by such a condition
of mind? The gentleman from Mecklenburgh Square was always with me in
the morning,--always angering me by his hateful presence,--but when
the evening came I could make no struggle towards getting rid of him.

In those days I read a little, and did learn to read French and
Latin. I made myself familiar with Horace, and became acquainted with
the works of our own greatest poets. I had my strong enthusiasms,
and remember throwing out of the window in Northumberland Street,
where I lived, a volume of Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_, because he
spoke sneeringly of _Lycidas_. That was Northumberland Street by the
Marylebone Workhouse, on to the back-door of which establishment my
room looked out--a most dreary abode, at which I fancy I must have
almost ruined the good-natured lodging-house keeper by my constant
inability to pay her what I owed.

How I got my daily bread I can hardly remember. But I do remember
that I was often unable to get myself a dinner. Young men generally
now have their meals provided for them. I kept house, as it were.
Every day I had to find myself with the day's food. For my breakfast
I could get some credit at the lodgings, though that credit would
frequently come to an end. But for all that I had often breakfast to
pay day by day; and at your eating-house credit is not given. I had
no friends on whom I could sponge regularly. Out on the Fulham Road I
had an uncle, but his house was four miles from the Post Office, and
almost as far from my own lodgings. Then came borrowings of money,
sometimes absolute want, and almost constant misery.

Before I tell how it came about that I left this wretched life,
I must say a word or two of the friendships which lessened its
misfortunes. My earliest friend in life was John Merivale, with whom
I had been at school at Sunbury and Harrow, and who was a nephew of
my tutor, Harry Drury. Herman Merivale, who afterwards became my
friend, was his brother, as is also Charles Merivale, the historian
and Dean of Ely. I knew John when I was ten years old, and am happy
to be able to say that he is going to dine with me one day this week.
I hope I may not injure his character by stating that in those days I
lived very much with him. He, too, was impecunious, but he had a home
in London, and knew but little of the sort of penury which I endured.
For more than fifty years he and I have been close friends. And then
there was one W---- A----, whose misfortunes in life will not permit
me to give his full name, but whom I dearly loved. He had been
at Winchester and at Oxford, and at both places had fallen into
trouble. He then became a schoolmaster,--or perhaps I had better say
usher,--and finally he took orders. But he was unfortunate in all
things, and died some years ago in poverty. He was most perverse;
bashful to very fear of a lady's dress; unable to restrain himself in
anything, but yet with a conscience that was always stinging him; a
loving friend, though very quarrelsome; and, perhaps, of all men I
have known, the most humorous. And he was entirely unconscious of his
own humour. He did not know that he could so handle all matters as to
create infinite amusement out of them.

Poor W---- A----! To him there came no happy turning-point at which
life loomed seriously on him, and then became prosperous.

W---- A----, Merivale, and I formed a little club, which we called
the Tramp Society, and subjected to certain rules, in obedience
to which we wandered on foot about the counties adjacent to
London. Southampton was the furthest point we ever reached; but
Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire were more dear to us. These were
the happiest hours of my then life--and perhaps not the least
innocent, although we were frequently in peril from the village
authorities whom we outraged. Not to pay for any conveyance, never to
spend above five shillings a day, to obey all orders from the elected
ruler of the hour (this enforced under heavy fines), were among our
statutes. I would fain tell here some of our adventures:--how A----
enacted an escaped madman and we his pursuing keepers, and so got
ourselves a lift in a cart, from which we ran away as we approached
the lunatic asylum; how we were turned out of a little town at night,
the townsfolk frightened by the loudness of our mirth; and how we
once crept into a hayloft and were wakened in the dark morning by a
pitchfork,--and how the juvenile owner of that pitchfork fled through
the window when he heard the complaints of the wounded man! But the
fun was the fun of W---- A----, and would cease to be fun as told by

It was during these years that John Tilley, who has now been for many
years the permanent senior officer of the Post Office, married my
sister, whom he took with him into Cumberland, where he was stationed
as one of our surveyors. He has been my friend for more than forty
years; as has also Peregrine Birch, a clerk in the House of Lords,
who married one of those daughters of Colonel Grant who assisted
us in the raid we made on the goods which had been seized by the
Sheriff's officer at Harrow. These have been the oldest and dearest
friends of my life; and I can thank God that three of them are still

When I had been nearly seven years in the Secretary's office of the
Post Office, always hating my position there, and yet always fearing
that I should be dismissed from it, there came a way of escape. There
had latterly been created in the service a new body of officers
called surveyors' clerks. There were at that time seven surveyors
in England, two in Scotland, and three in Ireland. To each of these
officers a clerk had been lately attached, whose duty it was to
travel about the country under the surveyor's orders. There had been
much doubt among the young men in the office whether they should
or should not apply for these places. The emoluments were good and
the work alluring; but there was at first supposed to be something
derogatory in the position. There was a rumour that the first
surveyor who got a clerk sent the clerk out to fetch his beer; and
that another had called upon his clerk to send the linen to the wash.
There was, however, a conviction that nothing could be worse than
the berth of a surveyor's clerk in Ireland. The clerks were all
appointed, however. To me it had not occurred to ask for anything,
nor would anything have been given me. But after a while there came
a report from the far west of Ireland that the man sent there was
absurdly incapable. It was probably thought then that none but a man
absurdly incapable would go on such a mission to the west of Ireland.
When the report reached the London office I was the first to read
it. I was at that time in dire trouble, having debts on my head and
quarrels with our Secretary-Colonel, and a full conviction that my
life was taking me downwards to the lowest pits. So I went to the
Colonel boldly, and volunteered for Ireland if he would send me. He
was glad to be so rid of me, and I went. This happened in August,
1841, when I was twenty-six years old. My salary in Ireland was to
be but £100 a year; but I was to receive fifteen shillings a day for
every day that I was away from home, and sixpence for every mile that
I travelled. The same allowances were made in England; but at that
time travelling in Ireland was done at half the English prices. My
income in Ireland, after paying my expenses, became at once £400.
This was the first good fortune of my life.



In the preceding pages I have given a short record of the first
twenty-six years of my life,--years of suffering, disgrace, and
inward remorse. I fear that my mode of telling will have left an idea
simply of their absurdities; but in truth I was wretched,--sometimes
almost unto death, and have often cursed the hour in which I was
born. There had clung to me a feeling that I had been looked upon
always as an evil, an encumbrance, a useless thing,--as a creature of
whom those connected with him had to be ashamed. And I feel certain
now that in my young days I was so regarded. Even my few friends who
had found with me a certain capacity for enjoyment were half afraid
of me. I acknowledge the weakness of a great desire to be loved,--of
a strong wish to be popular with my associates. No child, no boy, no
lad, no young man, had ever been less so. And I had been so poor; and
so little able to bear poverty. But from the day on which I set my
foot in Ireland all these evils went away from me. Since that time
who has had a happier life than mine? Looking round upon all those
I know, I cannot put my hand upon one. But all is not over yet. And,
mindful of that, remembering how great is the agony of adversity, how
crushing the despondency of degradation, how susceptible I am myself
to the misery coming from contempt,--remembering also how quickly
good things may go and evil things come,--I am often again tempted to
hope, almost to pray, that the end may be near. Things may be going
well now--

   "Sin aliquem infandum casum, Fortuna, minaris;
    Nunc, o nunc liceat crudelem abrumpere vitam."

There is unhappiness so great that the very fear of it is an alloy to
happiness. I had then lost my father, and sister, and brother,--have
since lost another sister and my mother;--but I have never as yet
lost a wife or a child.

When I told my friends that I was going on this mission to Ireland
they shook their heads, but said nothing to dissuade me. I think it
must have been evident to all who were my friends that my life in
London was not a success. My mother and elder brother were at this
time abroad, and were not consulted;--did not even know my intention
in time to protest against it. Indeed, I consulted no one, except
a dear old cousin, our family lawyer, from whom I borrowed £200 to
help me out of England. He lent me the money, and looked upon me with
pitying eyes,--shaking his head. "After all you were right to go," he
said to me when I paid him the money a few years afterwards.

But nobody then thought I was right to go. To become clerk
to an Irish surveyor, in Connaught, with a salary of £100 a
year, at twenty-six years of age! I did not think it right even
myself,--except that anything was right which would take me away from
the General Post Office and from London.

My ideas of the duties I was to perform were very vague, as were also
my ideas of Ireland generally. Hitherto I had passed my time, seated
at a desk, either writing letters myself, or copying into books those
which others had written. I had never been called upon to do anything
I was unable or unfitted to do. I now understood that in Ireland I
was to be a deputy-inspector of country post offices, and that among
other things to be inspected would be the postmasters' accounts! But
as no other person asked a question as to my fitness for this work,
it seemed unnecessary for me to do so.

On the 15th of September, 1841, I landed in Dublin, without an
acquaintance in the country, and with only two or three letters of
introduction from a brother clerk in the Post Office. I had learned
to think that Ireland was a land flowing with fun and whisky, in
which irregularity was the rule of life, and where broken heads were
looked upon as honourable badges. I was to live at a place called
Banagher, on the Shannon, which I had heard of because of its having
once been conquered, though it had heretofore conquered everything,
including the devil. And from Banagher my inspecting tours were to
be made, chiefly into Connaught, but also over a strip of country
eastwards, which would enable me occasionally to run up to Dublin. I
went to a hotel which was very dirty, and after dinner I ordered some
whisky punch. There was an excitement in this, but when the punch
was gone I was very dull. It seemed so strange to be in a country in
which there was not a single individual whom I had ever spoken to
or ever seen. And it was to be my destiny to go down into Connaught
and adjust accounts,--the destiny of me who had never learned the
multiplication table, or done a sum in long division!

On the next morning I called on the Secretary of the Irish Post
Office, and learned from him that Colonel Maberly had sent a very
bad character with me. He could not have sent a very good one; but
I felt a little hurt when I was informed by this new master that he
had been informed that I was worthless, and must in all probability
be dismissed. "But," said the new master, "I shall judge you by your
own merits." From that time to the day on which I left the service,
I never heard a word of censure, nor had many months passed before
I found that my services were valued. Before a year was over, I had
acquired the character of a thoroughly good public servant.

The time went very pleasantly. Some adventures I had;--two of which
I told in the _Tales of All Countries_, under the names of _The
O'Conors of Castle Conor_, and _Father Giles of Ballymoy_. I will not
swear to every detail in these stories, but the main purport of each
is true. I could tell many others of the same nature, were this the
place for them. I found that the surveyor to whom I had been sent
kept a pack of hounds, and therefore I bought a hunter. I do not
think he liked it, but he could not well complain. He never rode to
hounds himself, but I did; and then and thus began one of the great
joys of my life. I have ever since been constant to the sport, having
learned to love it with an affection which I cannot myself fathom
or understand. Surely no man has laboured at it as I have done, or
hunted under such drawbacks as to distances, money, and natural
disadvantages. I am very heavy, very blind, have been--in reference
to hunting--a poor man, and am now an old man. I have often had to
travel all night outside a mail-coach, in order that I might hunt the
next day. Nor have I ever been in truth a good horseman. And I have
passed the greater part of my hunting life under the discipline of
the Civil Service. But it has been for more than thirty years a
duty to me to ride to hounds; and I have performed that duty with a
persistent energy. Nothing has ever been allowed to stand in the way
of hunting,--neither the writing of books, nor the work of the Post
Office, nor other pleasures. As regarded the Post Office, it soon
seemed to be understood that I was to hunt; and when my services
were re-transferred to England, no word of difficulty ever reached
me about it. I have written on very many subjects, and on most of
them with pleasure; but on no subject with such delight as that
on hunting. I have dragged it into many novels,--into too many no
doubt,--but I have always felt myself deprived of a legitimate joy
when the nature of the tale has not allowed me a hunting chapter.
Perhaps that which gave me the greatest delight was the description
of a run on a horse accidentally taken from another sportsman,--a
circumstance which occurred to my dear friend Charles Buxton, who
will be remembered as one of the members for Surrey.

It was altogether a very jolly life that I led in Ireland. I was
always moving about, and soon found myself to be in pecuniary
circumstances which were opulent in comparison with those of my past
life. The Irish people did not murder me, nor did they even break
my head. I soon found them to be good-humoured, clever--the working
classes very much more intelligent than those of England--economical,
and hospitable. We hear much of their spendthrift nature; but
extravagance is not the nature of an Irishman. He will count the
shillings in a pound much more accurately than an Englishman, and
will with much more certainty get twelve pennyworth from each. But
they are perverse, irrational, and but little bound by the love of
truth. I lived for many years among them--not finally leaving the
country until 1859, and I had the means of studying their character.

I had not been a fortnight in Ireland before I was sent down to a
little town in the far west of county Galway, to balance a defaulting
postmaster's accounts, find out how much he owed, and report upon his
capacity to pay. In these days such accounts are very simple. They
adjust themselves from day to day, and a Post Office surveyor has
nothing to do with them. At that time, though the sums dealt with
were small, the forms of dealing with them were very intricate. I
went to work, however, and made that defaulting postmaster teach me
the use of those forms. I then succeeded in balancing the account,
and had no difficulty whatever in reporting that he was altogether
unable to pay his debt. Of course he was dismissed;--but he had been
a very useful man to me. I never had any further difficulty in the

But my chief work was the investigating of complaints made by the
public as to postal matters. The practice of the office was and is
to send one of its servants to the spot to see the complainant and
to inquire into the facts, when the complainant is sufficiently
energetic or sufficiently big to make himself well heard. A great
expense is often incurred for a very small object; but the system
works well on the whole as confidence is engendered, and a feeling is
produced in the country that the department has eyes of its own and
does keep them open. This employment was very pleasant, and to me
always easy, as it required at its close no more than the writing
of a report. There were no accounts in this business, no keeping of
books, no necessary manipulation of multitudinous forms. I must tell
of one such complaint and inquiry, because in its result I think it
was emblematic of many.

A gentleman in county Cavan had complained most bitterly of the
injury done to him by some arrangement of the Post Office. The
nature of his grievance has no present significance; but it was
so unendurable that he had written many letters, couched in the
strongest language. He was most irate, and indulged himself in that
scorn which is so easy to an angry mind. The place was not in my
district, but I was borrowed, being young and strong, that I might
remember the edge of his personal wrath. It was mid-winter, and
I drove up to his house, a squire's country seat, in the middle
of a snow-storm, just as it was becoming dark. I was on an open
jaunting-car, and was on my way from one little town to another,
the cause of his complaint having reference to some mail conveyance
between the two. I was certainly very cold, and very wet, and very
uncomfortable when I entered his house. I was admitted by a butler,
but the gentleman himself hurried into the hall. I at once began to
explain my business. "God bless me!" he said, "you are wet through.
John, get Mr. Trollope some brandy and water,--very hot." I was
beginning my story about the post again when he himself took off my
greatcoat, and suggested that I should go up to my bedroom before
I troubled myself with business. "Bedroom!" I exclaimed. Then he
assured me that he would not turn a dog out on such a night as that,
and into a bedroom I was shown, having first drank the brandy and
water standing at the drawing-room fire. When I came down I was
introduced to his daughter, and the three of us went in to dinner. I
shall never forget his righteous indignation when I again brought up
the postal question on the departure of the young lady. Was I such
a Goth as to contaminate wine with business? So I drank my wine,
and then heard the young lady sing while her father slept in his
arm-chair. I spent a very pleasant evening, but my host was too
sleepy to hear anything about the Post Office that night. It was
absolutely necessary that I should go away the next morning after
breakfast, and I explained that the matter must be discussed then. He
shook his head and wrung his hands in unmistakable disgust,--almost
in despair. "But what am I to say in my report?" I asked. "Anything
you please," he said. "Don't spare me, if you want an excuse for
yourself. Here I sit all the day,--with nothing to do; and I like
writing letters." I did report that Mr. ---- was now quite satisfied
with the postal arrangement of his district; and I felt a soft regret
that I should have robbed my friend of his occupation. Perhaps he was
able to take up the Poor Law Board, or to attack the Excise. At the
Post Office nothing more was heard from him.

I went on with the hunting surveyor at Banagher for three years,
during which, at Kingstown, the watering-place near Dublin, I met
Rose Heseltine, the lady who has since become my wife. The engagement
took place when I had been just one year in Ireland; but there was
still a delay of two years before we could be married. She had no
fortune, nor had I any income beyond that which came from the Post
Office; and there were still a few debts, which would have been paid
off no doubt sooner, but for that purchase of the horse. When I had
been nearly three years in Ireland we were married on the 11th of
June, 1844;--and perhaps I ought to name that happy day as the
commencement of my better life, rather than the day on which I first
landed in Ireland.

For though during these three years I had been jolly enough, I
had not been altogether happy. The hunting, the whisky punch, the
rattling Irish life,--of which I could write a volume of stories
were this the place to tell them,--were continually driving from my
mind the still cherished determination to become a writer of novels.
When I reached Ireland I had never put pen to paper; nor had I
done so when I became engaged. And when I was married, being then
twenty-nine, I had only written the first volume of my first work.
This constant putting off of the day of work was a great sorrow to
me. I certainly had not been idle in my new berth. I had learned my
work, so that every one concerned knew that it was safe in my hands;
and I held a position altogether the reverse of that in which I
was always trembling while I remained in London. But that did not
suffice,--did not nearly suffice. I still felt that there might be a
career before me, if I could only bring myself to begin the work. I
do not think I much doubted my own intellectual sufficiency for the
writing of a readable novel. What I did doubt was my own industry,
and the chances of the market.

The vigour necessary to prosecute two professions at the same time is
not given to every one, and it was only lately that I had found the
vigour necessary for one. There must be early hours, and I had not as
yet learned to love early hours. I was still, indeed, a young man;
but hardly young enough to trust myself to find the power to alter
the habits of my life. And I had heard of the difficulties of
publishing,--a subject of which I shall have to say much should
I ever bring this memoir to a close. I had dealt already with
publishers on my mother's behalf, and knew that many a tyro who could
fill a manuscript lacked the power to put his matter before the
public;--and I knew, too, that when the matter was printed, how
little had then been done towards the winning of the battle! I had
already learned that many a book--many a good book--

                    "is born to blush unseen
   And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

But still the purpose was strong within me, and the first effort was
made after the following fashion. I was located at a little town
called Drumsna, or rather village, in the county Leitrim, where the
postmaster had come to some sorrow about his money; and my friend
John Merivale was staying with me for a day or two. As we were taking
a walk in that most uninteresting country, we turned up through a
deserted gateway, along a weedy, grass-grown avenue, till we came
to the modern ruins of a country house. It was one of the most
melancholy spots I ever visited. I will not describe it here, because
I have done so in the first chapter of my first novel. We wandered
about the place, suggesting to each other causes for the misery we
saw there, and while I was still among the ruined walls and decayed
beams I fabricated the plot of _The Macdermots of Ballycloran_. As to
the plot itself, I do not know that I ever made one so good,--or, at
any rate, one so susceptible of pathos. I am aware that I broke down
in the telling, not having yet studied the art. Nevertheless, _The
Macdermots_ is a good novel, and worth reading by any one who wishes
to understand what Irish life was before the potato disease, the
famine, and the Encumbered Estates Bill.

When my friend left me, I set to work and wrote the first chapter or
two. Up to this time I had continued that practice of castle-building
of which I have spoken; but now the castle I built was among the
ruins of that old house. The book, however, hung with me. It was only
now and then that I found either time or energy for a few pages. I
commenced the book in September, 1843, and had only written a volume
when I was married in June, 1844.

My marriage was like the marriage of other people, and of no special
interest to any one except my wife and me. It took place at Rotherham
in Yorkshire, where her father was the manager of a bank. We were not
very rich, having about £400 a year on which to live. Many people
would say that we were two fools to encounter such poverty together.
I can only reply that since that day I have never been without money
in my pocket, and that I soon acquired the means of paying what I
owed. Nevertheless, more than twelve years had to pass over our heads
before I received any payment for any literary work which afforded an
appreciable increase to our income.

Immediately after our marriage, I left the west of Ireland and the
hunting surveyor, and joined another in the south. It was a better
district, and I was enabled to live at Clonmel, a town of some
importance, instead of at Banagher, which is little more than a
village. I had not felt myself to be comfortable in my old residence
as a married man. On my arrival there as a bachelor I had been
received most kindly, but when I brought my English wife I fancied
that there was a feeling that I had behaved badly to Ireland
generally. When a young man has been received hospitably in an Irish
circle, I will not say that it is expected of him that he should
marry some young lady in that society;--but it certainly is expected
of him that he shall not marry any young lady out of it. I had given
offence, and I was made to feel it.

There has taken place a great change in Ireland since the days in
which I lived at Banagher, and a change so much for the better, that
I have sometimes wondered at the obduracy with which people have
spoken of the permanent ill condition of the country. Wages are now
nearly double what they were then. The Post Office at any rate is
paying almost double for its rural labour,--9s. a week when it used
to pay 5s., and 12s. a week when it used to pay 7s. Banks have sprung
up in almost every village. Rents are paid with more than English
punctuality. And the religious enmity between the classes, though it
is not yet dead, is dying out. Soon after I reached Banagher in 1841,
I dined one evening with a Roman Catholic. I was informed next day
by a Protestant gentleman who had been very hospitable to me that I
must choose my party. I could not sit both at Protestant and Catholic
tables. Such a caution would now be impossible in any part of
Ireland. Home-rule no doubt is a nuisance,--and especially a nuisance
because the professors of the doctrine do not at all believe it
themselves. There are probably no other twenty men in England or
Ireland who would be so utterly dumfounded and prostrated were
Home-rule to have its way as the twenty Irish members who profess
to support it in the House of Commons. But it is not to be expected
that nuisances such as these should be abolished at a blow. Home-rule
is at any rate better and more easily managed than the rebellion at
the close of the last century; it is better than the treachery of
the Union; less troublesome than O'Connell's monster meetings; less
dangerous than Smith O'Brien and the battle of the cabbage-garden at
Ballingary; and very much less bloody than Fenianism. The descent
from O'Connell to Mr. Butt has been the natural declension of a
political disease, which we had no right to hope would be cured by
any one remedy.

When I had been married a year my first novel was finished. In July,
1845, I took it with me to the north of England, and intrusted
the MS. to my mother to do with it the best she could among the
publishers in London. No one had read it but my wife; nor, as far
as I am aware, has any other friend of mine ever read a word of my
writing before it was printed. She, I think, has so read almost
everything, to my very great advantage in matters of taste. I
am sure I have never asked a friend to read a line; nor have I
ever read a word of my own writing aloud,--even to her. With one
exception,--which shall be mentioned as I come to it,--I have never
consulted a friend as to a plot, or spoken to any one of the work I
have been doing. My first manuscript I gave up to my mother, agreeing
with her that it would be as well that she should not look at it
before she gave it to a publisher. I knew that she did not give me
credit for the sort of cleverness necessary for such work. I could
see in the faces and hear in the voices of those of my friends who
were around me at the house in Cumberland--my mother, my sister, my
brother-in-law, and, I think, my brother--that they had not expected
me to come out as one of the family authors. There were three or
four in the field before me, and it seemed to be almost absurd
that another should wish to add himself to the number. My father
had written much--those long ecclesiastical descriptions--quite
unsuccessfully. My mother had become one of the popular authors of
the day. My brother had commenced, and had been fairly well paid for
his work. My sister, Mrs. Tilley, had also written a novel, which was
at the time in manuscript--which was published afterwards without her
name, and was called _Chollerton_. I could perceive that this attempt
of mine was felt to be an unfortunate aggravation of the disease.

My mother however did the best she could for me, and soon reported
that Mr. Newby of Mortimer Street was to publish the book. It was to
be printed at his expense, and he was to give me half the profits.
Half the profits! Many a young author expects much from such an
undertaking. I can with truth declare that I expected nothing. And
I got nothing. Nor did I expect fame, or even acknowledgment. I was
sure that the book would fail, and it did fail most absolutely. I
never heard of a person reading it in those days. If there was any
notice taken of it by any critic of the day, I did not see it. I
never asked any questions about it, or wrote a single letter on the
subject to the publisher. I have Mr. Newby's agreement with me, in
duplicate, and one or two preliminary notes; but beyond that I did
not have a word from Mr. Newby. I am sure that he did not wrong me in
that he paid me nothing. It is probable that he did not sell fifty
copies of the work;--but of what he did sell he gave me no account.

I do not remember that I felt in any way disappointed or hurt. I am
quite sure that no word of complaint passed my lips. I think I may
say that after the publication I never said a word about the book,
even to my wife. The fact that I had written and published it, and
that I was writing another, did not in the least interfere with my
life or with my determination to make the best I could of the Post
Office. In Ireland, I think that no one knew that I had written a
novel. But I went on writing. _The Macdermots_ was published in 1847,
and _The Kellys and the O'Kellys_ followed in 1848. I changed my
publisher, but did not change my fortune. This second Irish story was
sent into the world by Mr. Colburn, who had long been my mother's
publisher, who reigned in Great Marlborough Street, and I believe
created the business which is now carried on by Messrs. Hurst &
Blackett. He had previously been in partnership with Mr. Bentley in
New Burlington Street. I made the same agreement as before as to half
profits, and with precisely the same results. The book was not only
not read, but was never heard of,--at any rate in Ireland. And yet it
is a good Irish story, much inferior to _The Macdermots_ as to plot,
but superior in the mode of telling. Again I held my tongue, and not
only said nothing but felt nothing. Any success would, I think, have
carried me off my legs, but I was altogether prepared for failure.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of these books, I did not
imagine, when the time came for publishing them, that any one would
condescend to read them.

But in reference to _The O'Kellys_ there arose a circumstance which
set my mind to work on a subject which has exercised it much ever
since. I made my first acquaintance with criticism. A dear friend of
mine to whom the book had been sent--as have all my books--wrote me
word to Ireland that he had been dining at some club with a man high
in authority among the gods of the _Times_ newspaper, and that this
special god had almost promised that _The O'Kellys_ should be noticed
in that most influential of "organs." The information moved me very
much; but it set me thinking whether the notice, should it ever
appear, would not have been more valuable, at any rate more honest,
if it had been produced by other means;--if for instance 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, 10s. 1½d. 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--

   Great Marlborough Street,
   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 Vendée_, perhaps you will favour me with a sight
   of it when convenient.--I remain, &c. &c.


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 Vendée_."
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 _La Vendée_, 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 comes.

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 Vendée 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

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 Vendée_ 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 poor-houses 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 them.

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 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 midsummer 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 them.

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

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 then connected
with the _Times_, my moral consciousness must again have been very



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
Merivale'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 Cæsar. 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
Cæsar, 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 Cæsar, 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 Cæsar, 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 be
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 self-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 carking 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 comfort.

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 cheque.

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 _coupé_ 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 me 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 wherever 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.[4] 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.

   [Footnote 4: 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.]

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

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 lesson 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 next.

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 gentleman, 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
bullfighter, 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 requires 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.[5]
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.

   [Footnote 5: It was not abandoned till sixteen more years had
   passed away.]

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 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:--

   36 Onslow Square, S.W.,
   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 be 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

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 Macdonald.

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 at 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,[6]--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 open-handed as Charity itself.

   [Footnote 6: Alas! within a year of the writing of this he went
   from us.]

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 has 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

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



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

_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 without cards I should now be much at a loss.
When I began to play at the Garrick, I did so simply because I liked
the society of the men who played.

I think that I became popular among those with whom I associated. I
have long been aware of a certain weakness in my own character, which
I may call a craving for love. I have ever had a wish to be liked by
those around me,--a wish that during the first half of my life was
never gratified. In my school-days no small part of my misery came
from the envy with which I regarded the popularity of popular boys.
They seemed to me to live in a social paradise, while the desolation
of my pandemonium was complete. And afterwards, when I was in London
as a young man, I had but few friends. Among the clerks in the Post
Office I held my own fairly for the first two or three years; but
even then I regarded myself as something of a pariah. My Irish life
had been much better. I had had my wife and children, and had been
sustained by a feeling of general respect. But even in Ireland I had
in truth lived but little in society. Our means had been sufficient
for our wants, but insufficient for entertaining others. It was not
till we had settled ourselves at Waltham that I really began to live
much with others. The Garrick Club was the first assemblage of men at
which I felt myself to be popular.

I soon became a member of other clubs. There was the Arts Club in
Hanover Square, of which I saw the opening, but from which, after
three or four years, I withdrew my name, having found that during
these three or four years I had not once entered the building. Then
I was one of the originators of the Civil Service Club--not from
judgment, but instigated to do so by others. That also I left for the
same reason. In 1864 I received the honour of being elected by the
Committee at the Athenæum. For this I was indebted to the kindness
of Lord Stanhope; and I never was more surprised than when I was
informed of the fact. About the same time I became a member of the
Cosmopolitan, a little club that meets twice a week in Charles
Street, Berkeley Square, and supplies to all its members, and its
members' friends, tea and brandy and water without charge! The
gatherings there I used to think very delightful. One met Jacob
Omnium, Monckton Milnes, Tom Hughes, William Stirling, Henry Reeve,
Arthur Russell, Tom Taylor, and such like; and generally a strong
political element, thoroughly well mixed, gave a certain spirit to
the place. Lord Ripon, Lord Stanley, William Forster, Lord Enfield,
Lord Kimberley, George Bentinck, Vernon Harcourt, Bromley Davenport,
Knatchbull Huguessen, with many others, used to whisper the secrets
of Parliament with free tongues. Afterwards I became a member of the
Turf, which I found to be serviceable--or the reverse--only for the
playing of whist at high points.

In August, 1861, I wrote another novel for the _Cornhill Magazine_.
It was a short story, about one volume in length, and was called _The
Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson_. In this I attempted a style
for which I certainly was not qualified, and to which I never had
again recourse. It was meant to be funny, was full of slang, and was
intended as a satire on the ways of trade. Still I think that there
is some good fun in it, but I have heard no one else express such an
opinion. I do not know that I ever heard any opinion expressed on it,
except by the publisher, who kindly remarked that he did not think
it was equal to my usual work. Though he had purchased the copyright,
he did not republish the story in a book form till 1870, and then
it passed into the world of letters _sub silentio_. I do not know
that it was ever criticised or ever read. I received £600 for it.
From that time to this I have been paid at about that rate for my
work--£600 for the quantity contained in an ordinary novel volume, or
£3000 for a long tale published in twenty parts, which is equal in
length to five such volumes. I have occasionally, I think, received
something more than this, never I think less for any tale, except
when I have published my work anonymously.[7] Having said so much,
I need not further specify the prices as I mention the books as they
were written. I will, however, when I am completing this memoir,
give a list of all the sums I have received for my literary labours.
I think that _Brown, Jones, and Robinson_ was the hardest bargain I
ever sold to a publisher.

   [Footnote 7: Since the date at which this was written I have
   encountered a diminution in price.]

In 1861 the War of Secession had broken out in America, and from the
first I interested myself much in the question. My mother had thirty
years previously written a very popular, but, as I had thought, a
somewhat unjust book about our cousins over the water. She had seen
what was distasteful in the manners of a young people, but had hardly
recognised their energy. I had entertained for many years an ambition
to follow her footsteps there, and to write another book. I had
already paid a short visit to New York City and State on my way home
from the West Indies, but had not seen enough then to justify me in
the expression of any opinion. The breaking out of the war did not
make me think that the time was peculiarly fit for such inquiry as I
wished to make, but it did represent itself as an occasion on which a
book might be popular. I consequently consulted the two great powers
with whom I was concerned. Messrs. Chapman & Hall, the publishers,
were one power, and I had no difficulty in arranging my affairs
with them. They agreed to publish the book on my terms, and bade me
God-speed on my journey. The other power was the Postmaster-General
and Mr. Rowland Hill, the Secretary of the Post Office. I wanted
leave of absence for the unusual period of nine months, and fearing
that I should not get it by the ordinary process of asking the
Secretary, I went direct to his lordship. "Is it on the plea of
ill-health?" he asked, looking into my face, which was then that of
a very robust man. His lordship knew the Civil Service as well as
any one living, and must have seen much of falseness and fraudulent
pretence, or he could not have asked that question. I told him that I
was very well, but that I wanted to write a book. "Had I any special
ground to go upon in asking for such indulgence?" I had, I said, done
my duty well by the service. There was a good deal of demurring, but
I got my leave for nine months,--and I knew that I had earned it. Mr.
Hill attached to the minute granting me the leave an intimation that
it was to be considered as a full equivalent for the special services
rendered by me to the department. I declined, however, to accept the
grace with such a stipulation, and it was withdrawn by the directions
of the Postmaster-General.[8]

   [Footnpte 8: During the period of my service in the Post
   Office I did very much special work for which I never asked
   any remuneration,--and never received any, though payments for
   special services were common in the department at that time.
   But if there was to be a question of such remuneration, I did
   not choose that my work should be valued at the price put upon
   it by Mr. Hill.]

I started for the States in August and returned in the following
May. The war was raging during the time that I was there, and the
country was full of soldiers. A part of the time I spent in Virginia,
Kentucky, and Missouri, among the troops, along the line of attack.
I visited all the States (excepting California) which had not then
seceded,--failing to make my way into the seceding States unless I
was prepared to visit them with an amount of discomfort I did not
choose to endure. I worked very hard at the task I had assigned to
myself, and did, I think, see much of the manners and institutions
of the people. Nothing struck me more than their persistence in
the ordinary pursuits of life in spite of the war which was around
them. Neither industry nor amusement seemed to meet with any check.
Schools, hospitals, and institutes were by no means neglected because
new regiments were daily required. The truth, I take it, is that
we, all of us, soon adapt ourselves to the circumstances around us.
Though three parts of London were in flames I should no doubt expect
to have my dinner served to me if I lived in the quarter which was
free from fire.

The book I wrote was very much longer than that on the West Indies,
but was also written almost without a note. It contained much
information, and, with many inaccuracies, was a true book. But it was
not well done. It is tedious and confused, and will hardly, I think,
be of future value to those who wish to make themselves acquainted
with the United States. It was published about the middle of the
war,--just at the time in which the hopes of those who loved
the South were most buoyant, and the fears of those who stood
by the North were the strongest. But it expressed an assured
confidence--which never quavered in a page or in a line--that the
North would win. This assurance was based on the merits of the
Northern cause, on the superior strength of the Northern party, and
on a conviction that England would never recognise the South, and
that France would be guided in her policy by England. I was right in
my prophecies, and right, I think, on the grounds on which they were
made. The Southern cause was bad. The South had provoked the quarrel
because its political supremacy was checked by the election of Mr.
Lincoln to the Presidency. It had to fight as a little man against a
big man, and fought gallantly. That gallantry,--and a feeling based
on a misconception as to American character that the Southerners are
better gentlemen than their Northern brethren,--did create great
sympathy here; but I believe that the country was too just to be led
into political action by a spirit of romance, and I was warranted
in that belief. There was a moment in which the Northern cause was
in danger, and the danger lay certainly in the prospect of British
interference. Messrs. Slidell and Mason,--two men insignificant in
themselves,--had been sent to Europe by the Southern party, and had
managed to get on board the British mail steamer called "The Trent,"
at the Havannah. A most undue importance was attached to this mission
by Mr. Lincoln's government, and efforts were made to stop them. A
certain Commodore Wilkes, doing duty as policeman on the seas, did
stop the "Trent," and took the men out. They were carried, one to
Boston and one to New York, and were incarcerated, amidst the triumph
of the nation. Commodore Wilkes, who had done nothing in which a
brave man could take glory, was made a hero and received a prize
sword. England of course demanded her passengers back, and the States
for a while refused to surrender them. But Mr. Seward was at that
time the Secretary of State, and Mr. Seward, with many political
faults, was a wise man. I was at Washington at the time, and it
was known there that the contest among the leading Northerners was
very sharp on the matter. Mr. Sumner and Mr. Seward were, under
Mr. Lincoln, the two chiefs of the party. It was understood that
Mr. Sumner was opposed to the rendition of the men, and Mr. Seward
in favour of it. Mr. Seward's counsels at last prevailed with the
President, and England's declaration of war was prevented. I dined
with Mr. Seward on the day of the decision, meeting Mr. Sumner at
his house, and was told as I left the dining-room what the decision
had been. During the afternoon I and others had received intimation
through the embassy that we might probably have to leave Washington
at an hour's notice. This, I think, was the severest danger that the
Northern cause encountered during the war.

But my book, though it was right in its views on this subject,--and
wrong in none other as far as I know,--was not a good book. I can
recommend no one to read it now in order that he may be either
instructed or amused,--as I can do that on the West Indies. It served
its purpose at the time, and was well received by the public and by
the critics.

Before starting to America I had completed _Orley Farm_, a novel
which appeared in shilling numbers,--after the manner in which
_Pickwick_, _Nicholas Nickleby_, and many others had been published.
Most of those among my friends who talk to me now about my novels,
and are competent to form an opinion on the subject, say that this is
the best I have written. In this opinion I do not coincide. I think
that the highest merit which a novel can have consists in perfect
delineation of character, rather than in plot, or humour, or pathos,
and I shall before long mention a subsequent work in which I think
the main character of the story is so well developed as to justify me
in asserting its claim above the others. The plot of _Orley Farm_ is
probably the best I have ever made; but it has the fault of declaring
itself, and thus coming to an end too early in the book. When Lady
Mason tells her ancient lover that she did forge the will, the
plot of _Orley Farm_ has unravelled itself;--and this she does in
the middle of the tale. Independently, however, of this the novel
is good. Sir Peregrine Orme, his grandson, Madeline Stavely, Mr.
Furnival, Mr. Chaffanbrass, and the commercial gentlemen, are all
good. The hunting is good. The lawyer's talk is good. Mr. Moulder
carves his turkey admirably, and Mr. Kantwise sells his tables and
chairs with spirit. I do not know that there is a dull page in the
book. I am fond of _Orley Farm_;--and am especially fond of its
illustrations by Millais, which are the best I have seen in any novel
in any language.

I now felt that I had gained my object. In 1862 I had achieved that
which I contemplated when I went to London in 1834, and towards which
I made my first attempt when I began the _Macdermots_ in 1843. I had
created for myself a position among literary men, and had secured to
myself an income on which I might live in ease and comfort,--which
ease and comfort have been made to include many luxuries. From this
time for a period of twelve years my income averaged £4500 a year.
Of this I spent about two-thirds, and put by one. I ought perhaps to
have done better,--to have spent one-third, and put by two; but I
have ever been too well inclined to spend freely that which has come

This, however, has been so exactly the life which my thoughts and
aspirations had marked out,--thoughts and aspirations which used to
cause me to blush with shame because I was so slow in forcing myself
to the work which they demanded,--that I have felt some pride in
having attained it. I have before said how entirely I fail to reach
the altitude of those who think that a man devoted to letters should
be indifferent to the pecuniary results for which work is generally
done. An easy income has always been regarded by me as a great
blessing. Not to have to think of sixpences, or very much of
shillings; not to be unhappy because the coals have been burned too
quickly, and the house linen wants renewing; not to be debarred by
the rigour of necessity from opening one's hands, perhaps foolishly,
to one's friends;--all this to me has been essential to the comfort
of life. I have enjoyed the comfort for I may almost say the last
twenty years, though no man in his youth had less prospect of doing
so, or would have been less likely at twenty-five to have had such
luxuries foretold to him by his friends.

But though the money has been sweet, the respect, the friendships,
and the mode of life which has been achieved, have been much sweeter.
In my boyhood, when I would be crawling up to school with dirty boots
and trousers through the muddy lanes, I was always telling myself
that the misery of the hour was not the worst of it, but that the mud
and solitude and poverty of the time would insure me mud and solitude
and poverty through my life. Those lads about me would go into
Parliament, or become rectors and deans, or squires of parishes,
or advocates thundering at the Bar. They would not live with me
now,--but neither should I be able to live with them in after years.
Nevertheless I have lived with them. When, at the age in which others
go to the universities, I became a clerk in the Post Office, I felt
that my old visions were being realised. I did not think it a high
calling. I did not know then how very much good work may be done by
a member of the Civil Service who will show himself capable of doing;
it. The Post Office at last grew upon me and forced itself into my
affections. I became intensely anxious that people should have their
letters delivered to them punctually. But my hope to rise had always
been built on the writing of novels, and at last by the writing of
novels I had risen.

I do not think that I ever toadied any one, or that I have acquired
the character of a tuft-hunter. But here I do not scruple to say
that I prefer the society of distinguished people, and that even the
distinction of wealth confers many advantages. The best education is
to be had at a price as well as the best broadcloth. The son of a
peer is more likely to rub his shoulders against well-informed men
than the son of a tradesman. The graces come easier to the wife of
him who has had great-grandfathers than they do to her whose husband
has been less,--or more fortunate, as he may think it. The discerning
man will recognise the information and the graces when they are
achieved without such assistance, and will honour the owners of them
the more because of the difficulties they have overcome;--but the
fact remains that the society of the well-born and of the wealthy
will as a rule be worth seeking. I say this now, because these are
the rules by which I have lived, and these are the causes which have
instigated me to work.

I have heard the question argued--On what terms should a man of
inferior rank live with those who are manifestly superior to him? If
a marquis or an earl honour me, who have no rank, with his intimacy,
am I in my intercourse with him to remember our close acquaintance
or his high rank? I have always said that where the difference in
position is quite marked, the overtures to intimacy should always
come from the higher rank; but if the intimacy be ever fixed, then
that rank should be held of no account. It seems to me that intimate
friendship admits of no standing but that of equality. I cannot be
the Sovereign's friend, nor probably the friend of many very much
beneath the Sovereign, because such equality is impossible.

When I first came to Waltham Cross in the winter of 1859-1860, I had
almost made up my mind that my hunting was over. I could not then
count upon an income which would enable me to carry on an amusement
which I should doubtless find much more expensive in England than in
Ireland. I brought with me out of Ireland one mare, but she was too
light for me to ride in the hunting-field. As, however, the money
came in, I very quickly fell back into my old habits. First one
horse was bought, then another, and then a third, till it became
established as a fixed rule that I should not have less than four
hunters in the stable. Sometimes when my boys have been at home I
have had as many as six. Essex was the chief scene of my sport, and
gradually I became known there almost as well as though I had been an
Essex squire, to the manner born. Few have investigated more closely
than I have done the depth, and breadth, and water-holding capacities
of an Essex ditch. It will, I think, be accorded to me by Essex
men generally that I have ridden hard. The cause of my delight
in the amusement I have never been able to analyse to my own
satisfaction. In the first place, even now, I know very little about
hunting,--though I know very much of the accessories of the field. I
am too blind to see hounds turning, and cannot therefore tell whether
the fox has gone this way or that. Indeed all the notice I take of
hounds is not to ride over them. My eyes are so constituted that
I can never see the nature of a fence. I either follow some one,
or ride at it with the full conviction that I may be going into a
horse-pond or a gravel-pit. I have jumped into both one and the
other. I am very heavy, and have never ridden expensive horses. I am
also now old for such work, being so stiff that I cannot get on to my
horse without the aid of a block or a bank. But I ride still after
the same fashion, with a boy's energy, determined to get ahead if it
may possibly be done, hating the roads, despising young men who ride
them, and with a feeling that life can not, with all her riches, have
given me anything better than when I have gone through a long run to
the finish, keeping a place, not of glory, but of credit, among my



During the early months of 1862 _Orley Farm_ was still being brought
out in numbers, and at the same time _Brown, Jones, and Robinson_ was
appearing in the _Cornhill Magazine_. In September, 1862, the _Small
House at Allington_ began its career in the same periodical. The work
on North America had also come out in 1862. In August, 1863, the
first number of _Can You Forgive Her?_ was published as a separate
serial, and was continued through 1864. In 1863 a short novel was
produced in the ordinary volume form, called _Rachel Ray_. In
addition to these I published during the time two volumes of stories
called _The Tales of All Countries_. In the early spring of 1865
_Miss Mackenzie_ was issued in the same form as _Rachel Ray_; and
in May of the same year _The Belton Estate_ was commenced with the
commencement of the _Fortnightly Review_, of which periodical I will
say a few words in this chapter.

I quite admit that I crowded my wares into the market too
quickly,--because the reading world could not want such a quantity
of matter from the hands of one author in so short a space of
time. I had not been quite so fertile as the unfortunate gentleman
who disgusted the publisher in Paternoster Row,--in the story of
whose productiveness I have always thought there was a touch of
romance,--but I had probably done enough to make both publishers and
readers think that I was coming too often beneath their notice. Of
publishers, however, I must speak collectively, as my sins were, I
think, chiefly due to the encouragement which I received from them
individually. What I wrote for the _Cornhill Magazine_, I always
wrote at the instigation of Mr. Smith. My other works were published
by Messrs. Chapman & Hall, in compliance with contracts made by me
with them, and always made with their good-will. Could I have been
two separate persons at one and the same time, of whom one might have
been devoted to Cornhill and the other to the interests of the firm
in Piccadilly, it might have been very well;--but as I preserved my
identity in both places, I myself became aware that my name was too
frequent on title-pages.

Critics, if they ever trouble themselves with these pages, will, of
course, say that in what I have now said I have ignored altogether
the one great evil of rapid production,--namely, that of inferior
work. And of course if the work was inferior because of the too great
rapidity of production, the critics would be right. Giving to the
subject the best of my critical abilities, and judging of my own work
as nearly as possible as I would that of another, I believe that the
work which has been done quickest has been done the best. I have
composed better stories--that is, have created better plots--than
those of _The Small House at Allington_ and _Can You Forgive Her?_
and I have portrayed two or three better characters than are to be
found in the pages of either of them; but taking these books all
through, I do not think that I have ever done better work. Nor would
these have been improved by any effort in the art of story telling,
had each of these been the isolated labour of a couple of years. How
short is the time devoted to the manipulation of a plot can be known
only to those who have written plays and novels;--I may say also,
how very little time the brain is able to devote to such wearing
work. There are usually some hours of agonising doubt, almost of
despair,--so at least it has been with me,--or perhaps some days. And
then, with nothing settled in my brain as to the final development
of events, with no capability of settling anything, but with a most
distinct conception of some character or characters, I have rushed
at the work as a rider rushes at a fence which he does not see.
Sometimes I have encountered what, in hunting language, we call a
cropper. I had such a fall in two novels of mine, of which I have
already spoken--_The Bertrams_ and _Castle Richmond_. I shall have to
speak of other such troubles. But these failures have not arisen from
over-hurried work. When my work has been quicker done,--and it has
sometimes been done very quickly--the rapidity has been achieved by
hot pressure, not in the conception, but in the telling of the story.
Instead of writing eight pages a day, I have written sixteen; instead
of working five days a week, I have worked seven. I have trebled my
usual average, and have done so in circumstances which have enabled
me to give up all my thoughts for the time to the book I have been
writing. This has generally been done at some quiet spot among the
mountains,--where there has been no society, no hunting, no whist, no
ordinary household duties. And I am sure that the work so done has
had in it the best truth and the highest spirit that I have been able
to produce. At such times I have been able to imbue myself thoroughly
with the characters I have had in hand. I have wandered alone
among the rocks and woods, crying at their grief, laughing at
their absurdities, and thoroughly enjoying their joy. I have been
impregnated with my own creations till it has been my only excitement
to sit with the pen in my hand, and drive my team before me at as
quick a pace as I could make them travel.

The critics will again say that all this may be very well as to the
rough work of the author's own brain, but it will be very far from
well in reference to the style in which that work has been given to
the public. After all, the vehicle which a writer uses for conveying
his thoughts to the public should not be less important to him than
the thoughts themselves. An author can hardly hope to be popular
unless he can use popular language. That is quite true; but then
comes the question of achieving a popular--in other words, I may
say, a good and lucid style. How may an author best acquire a mode
of writing which shall be agreeable and easily intelligible to the
reader? He must be correct, because without correctness he can be
neither agreeable nor intelligible. Readers will expect him to obey
those rules which they, consciously or unconsciously, have been
taught to regard as binding on language; and unless he does obey
them, he will disgust. Without much labour, no writer will achieve
such a style. He has very much to learn; and, when he has learned
that much, he has to acquire the habit of using what he has learned
with ease. But all this must be learned and acquired,--not while he
is writing that which shall please, but long before. His language
must come from him as music comes from the rapid touch of the great
performer's fingers; as words come from the mouth of the indignant
orator; as letters fly from the fingers of the trained compositor;
as the syllables tinkled out by little bells form themselves to the
ear of the telegraphist. A man who thinks much of his words as he
writes them will generally leave behind him work that smells of oil.
I speak here, of course, of prose; for in poetry we know what care
is necessary, and we form our taste accordingly.

Rapid writing will no doubt give rise to inaccuracy,--chiefly because
the ear, quick and true as may be its operation, will occasionally
break down under pressure, and, before a sentence be closed, will
forget the nature of the composition with which it was commenced. A
singular nominative will be disgraced by a plural verb, because other
pluralities have intervened and have tempted the ear into plural
tendencies. Tautologies will occur, because the ear, in demanding
fresh emphasis, has forgotten that the desired force has been already
expressed. I need not multiply these causes of error, which must have
been stumbling-blocks indeed when men wrote in the long sentences of
Gibbon, but which Macaulay, with his multiplicity of divisions, has
done so much to enable us to avoid. A rapid writer will hardly avoid
these errors altogether. Speaking of myself, I am ready to declare
that, with much training, I have been unable to avoid them. But the
writer for the press is rarely called upon--a writer of books should
never be called upon--to send his manuscript hot from his hand to the
printer. It has been my practice to read everything four times at
least--thrice in manuscript and once in print. Very much of my work
I have read twice in print. In spite of this I know that inaccuracies
have crept through,--not single spies, but in battalions. From
this I gather that the supervision has been insufficient, not
that the work itself has been done too fast. I am quite sure that
those passages which have been written with the greatest stress of
labour, and consequently with the greatest haste, have been the most
effective and by no means the most inaccurate.

_The Small House at Allington_ redeemed my reputation with the
spirited proprietor of the _Cornhill_, which must, I should think,
have been damaged by _Brown, Jones, and Robinson_. In it appeared
Lily Dale, one of the characters which readers of my novels have
liked the best. In the love with which she has been greeted I have
hardly joined with much enthusiasm, feeling that she is somewhat of
a French prig. She became first engaged to a snob, who jilted her;
and then, though in truth she loved another man who was hardly
good enough, she could not extricate herself sufficiently from the
collapse of her first great misfortune to be able to make up her
mind to be the wife of one whom, though she loved him, she did not
altogether reverence. Prig as she was, she made her way into the
hearts of many readers, both young and old; so that, from that time
to this, I have been continually honoured with letters, the purport
of which has always been to beg me to marry Lily Dale to Johnny
Eames. Had I done so, however, Lily would never have so endeared
herself to these people as to induce them to write letters to the
author concerning her fate. It was because she could not get over
her troubles that they loved her. Outside Lily Dale and the chief
interest of the novel, _The Small House at Allington_ is, I think,
good. The De Courcy family are alive, as is also Sir Raffle Buffle,
who is a hero of the Civil Service. Sir Raffle was intended to
represent a type, not a man; but the man for the picture was soon
chosen, and I was often assured that the portrait was very like. I
have never seen the gentleman with whom I am supposed to have taken
the liberty. There is also an old squire down at Allington, whose
life as a country gentleman with rather straitened means is, I think,
well described.

Of _Can You Forgive Her?_ I cannot speak with too great affection,
though I do not know that of itself it did very much to increase my
reputation. As regards the story, it was formed chiefly on that of
the play which my friend Mr. Bartley had rejected long since, the
circumstances of which the reader may perhaps remember. The play had
been called _The Noble Jilt_; but I was afraid of the name for a
novel, lest the critics might throw a doubt on the nobility. There
was more of tentative humility in that which I at last adopted. The
character of the girl is carried through with considerable strength,
but is not attractive. The humorous characters, which are also
taken from the play,--a buxom widow who with her eyes open chooses
the most scampish of two selfish suitors because he is the better
looking,--are well done. Mrs. Greenow, between Captain Bellfield and
Mr. Cheeseacre, is very good fun--as far as the fun of novels is. But
that which endears the book to me is the first presentation which I
made in it of Plantagenet Palliser, with his wife, Lady Glencora.

By no amount of description or asseveration could I succeed in making
any reader understand how much these characters with their belongings
have been to me in my latter life; or how frequently I have used them
for the expression of my political or social convictions. They have
been as real to me as free trade was to Mr. Cobden, or the dominion
of a party to Mr. Disraeli; and as I have not been able to speak from
the benches of the House of Commons, or to thunder from platforms, or
to be efficacious as a lecturer, they have served me as safety-valves
by which to deliver my soul. Mr. Plantagenet Palliser had appeared
in _The Small House at Allington_, but his birth had not been
accompanied by many hopes. In the last pages of that novel he is made
to seek a remedy for a foolish false step in life by marrying the
grand heiress of the day;--but the personage of the great heiress
does not appear till she comes on the scene as a married woman in
_Can You Forgive Her?_ He is the nephew and heir to a duke--the
Duke of Omnium--who was first introduced in _Doctor Thorne_, and
afterwards in _Framley Parsonage_, and who is one of the belongings
of whom I have spoken. In these personages and their friends,
political and social, I have endeavoured to depict the faults and
frailties and vices,--as also the virtues, the graces, and the
strength of our highest classes; and if I have not made the strength
and virtues predominant over the faults and vices, I have not painted
the picture as I intended. Plantagenet Palliser I think to be a very
noble gentleman,--such a one as justifies to the nation the seeming
anomaly of an hereditary peerage and of primogeniture. His wife is
in all respects very inferior to him; but she, too, has, or has been
intended to have, beneath the thin stratum of her follies a basis of
good principle, which enabled her to live down the conviction of the
original wrong which was done to her, and taught her to endeavour to
do her duty in the position to which she was called. She had received
a great wrong,--having been made, when little more than a child, to
marry a man for whom she cared nothing;--when, however, though she
was little more than a child, her love had been given elsewhere. She
had very heavy troubles, but they did not overcome her.

As to the heaviest of these troubles, I will say a word in
vindication of myself and of the way I handled it in my work.
In the pages of _Can You Forgive Her?_ the girl's first love is
introduced,--beautiful, well-born, and utterly worthless. To save a
girl from wasting herself, and an heiress from wasting her property
on such a scamp, was certainly the duty of the girl's friends. But
it must ever be wrong to force a girl into a marriage with a man she
does not love,--and certainly the more so when there is another whom
she does love. In my endeavour to teach this lesson I subjected
the young wife to the terrible danger of overtures from the man to
whom her heart had been given. I was walking no doubt on ticklish
ground, leaving for a while a doubt on the question whether the lover
might or might not succeed. Then there came to me a letter from a
distinguished dignitary of our Church, a man whom all men honoured,
treating me with severity for what I was doing. It had been one of
the innocent joys of his life, said the clergyman, to have my novels
read to him by his daughters. But now I was writing a book which
caused him to bid them close it! Must I also turn away to vicious
sensation such as this? Did I think that a wife contemplating
adultery was a character fit for my pages? I asked him in return,
whether from his pulpit, or at any rate from his communion-table, he
did not denounce adultery to his audience; and if so, why should it
not be open to me to preach the same doctrine to mine. I made known
nothing which the purest girl could not but have learned, and ought
not to have learned, elsewhere, and I certainly lent no attraction
to the sin which I indicated. His rejoinder was full of grace,
and enabled him to avoid the annoyance of argumentation without
abandoning his cause. He said that the subject was so much too long
for letters; that he hoped I would go and stay a week with him in the
country,--so that we might have it out. That opportunity, however,
has never yet arrived.

Lady Glencora overcomes that trouble, and is brought, partly by her
own sense of right and wrong, and partly by the genuine nobility
of her husband's conduct, to attach herself to him after a certain
fashion. The romance of her life is gone, but there remains a
rich reality of which she is fully able to taste the flavour. She
loves her rank and becomes ambitious, first of social, and then
of political ascendancy. He is thoroughly true to her, after
his thorough nature, and she, after her less perfect nature, is
imperfectly true to him.

In conducting these characters from one story to another I realised
the necessity, not only of consistency,--which, had it been
maintained by a hard exactitude, would have been untrue to
nature,--but also of those changes which time always produces. There
are, perhaps, but few of us who, after the lapse of ten years, will
be found to have changed our chief characteristics. The selfish man
will still be selfish, and the false man false. But our manner of
showing or of hiding these characteristics will be changed,--as also
our power of adding to or diminishing their intensity. It was my
study that these people, as they grew in years, should encounter the
changes which come upon us all; and I think that I have succeeded.
The Duchess of Omnium, when she is playing the part of Prime
Minister's wife, is the same woman as that Lady Glencora who almost
longs to go off with Burgo Fitzgerald, but yet knows that she will
never do so; and the Prime Minister Duke, with his wounded pride and
sore spirit, is he who, for his wife's sake, left power and place
when they were first offered to him;--but they have undergone the
changes which a life so stirring as theirs would naturally produce.
To do all this thoroughly was in my heart from first to last; but I
do not know that the game has been worth the candle. To carry out my
scheme I have had to spread my picture over so wide a canvas that I
cannot expect that any lover of such art should trouble himself to
look at it as a whole. Who will read _Can You Forgive Her?_, _Phineas
Finn_, _Phineas Redux_, and _The Prime Minister_ consecutively, in
order that they may understand the characters of the Duke of Omnium,
of Plantagenet Palliser, and of Lady Glencora? Who will ever know
that they should be so read? But in the performance of the work I had
much gratification, and was enabled from time to time to have in this
way that fling at the political doings of the day which every man
likes to take, if not in one fashion then in another. I look upon
this string of characters,--carried sometimes into other novels
than those just named,--as the best work of my life. Taking him
altogether, I think that Plantagenet Palliser stands more firmly on
the ground than any other personage I have created.

On Christmas day, 1863, we were startled by the news of Thackeray's
death. He had then for many months given up the editorship of the
_Cornhill Magazine_,--a position for which he was hardly fitted
either by his habits or temperament,--but was still employed in
writing for its pages. I had known him only for four years, but had
grown into much intimacy with him and his family. I regard him as one
of the most tender-hearted human beings I ever knew, who, with an
exaggerated contempt for the foibles of the world at large, would
entertain an almost equally exaggerated sympathy with the joys and
troubles of individuals around him. He had been unfortunate in early
life--unfortunate in regard to money--unfortunate with an afflicted
wife--unfortunate in having his home broken up before his children
were fit to be his companions. This threw him too much upon clubs,
and taught him to dislike general society. But it never affected his
heart, or clouded his imagination. He could still revel in the pangs
and joys of fictitious life, and could still feel--as he did to the
very last--the duty of showing to his readers the evil consequences
of evil conduct. It was perhaps his chief fault as a writer that he
could never abstain from that dash of satire which he felt to be
demanded by the weaknesses which he saw around him. The satirist who
writes nothing but satire should write but little,--or it will seem
that his satire springs rather from his own caustic nature than from
the sins of the world in which he lives. I myself regard _Esmond_ as
the greatest novel in the English language, basing that judgment upon
the excellence of its language, on the clear individuality of the
characters, on the truth of its delineations in regard to the time
selected, and on its great pathos. There are also in it a few scenes
so told that even Scott has never equalled the telling. Let any one
who doubts this read the passage in which Lady Castlewood induces the
Duke of Hamilton to think that his nuptials with Beatrice will be
honoured if Colonel Esmond will give away the bride. When he went
from us he left behind living novelists with great names; but I think
that they who best understood the matter felt that the greatest
master of fiction of this age had gone.

_Rachel Ray_ underwent a fate which no other novel of mine has
encountered. Some years before this a periodical called _Good Words_
had been established under the editorship of my friend Dr. Norman
Macleod, a well-known Presbyterian pastor in Glasgow. In 1863 he
asked me to write a novel for his magazine, explaining to me that
his principles did not teach him to confine his matter to religious
subjects, and paying me the compliment of saying that he would feel
himself quite safe in my hands. In reply I told him I thought he was
wrong in his choice; that though he might wish to give a novel to
the readers of _Good Words_, a novel from me would hardly be what
he wanted, and that I could not undertake to write either with any
specially religious tendency, or in any fashion different from
that which was usual to me. As worldly and--if any one thought me
wicked--as wicked as I had heretofore been, I must still be, should
I write for _Good Words_. He persisted in his request, and I came to
terms as to a story for the periodical. I wrote it and sent it to
him, and shortly afterwards received it back--a considerable portion
having been printed--with an intimation that it would not do. A
letter more full of wailing and repentance no man ever wrote. It was,
he said, all his own fault. He should have taken my advice. He should
have known better. But the story, such as it was, he could not give
to his readers in the pages of _Good Words_. Would I forgive him? Any
pecuniary loss to which his decision might subject me the owner of
the publication would willingly make good. There was some loss--or
rather would have been--and that money I exacted, feeling that the
fault had in truth been with the editor. There is the tale now to
speak for itself. It is not brilliant, nor in any way very excellent;
but it certainly is not very wicked. There is some dancing in one
of the early chapters, described, no doubt, with that approval of
the amusement which I have always entertained; and it was this to
which my friend demurred. It is more true of novels than perhaps of
anything else, that one man's food is another man's poison.

_Miss Mackenzie_ was written with a desire to prove that a novel may
be produced without any love; but even in this attempt it breaks
down before the conclusion. In order that I might be strong in my
purpose, I took for my heroine a very unattractive old maid, who was
overwhelmed with money troubles; but even she was in love before the
end of the book, and made a romantic marriage with an old man. There
is in this story an attack upon charitable bazaars, made with a
violence which will, I think, convince any reader that such attempts
at raising money were at the time very odious to me. I beg to say
that since that I have had no occasion to alter my opinion. _Miss
Mackenzie_ was published in the early spring of 1865.

At the same time I was engaged with others in establishing a
periodical Review, in which some of us trusted much, and from which
we expected great things. There was, however, in truth so little
combination of idea among us, that we were not justified in our trust
or in our expectations. And yet we were honest in our purpose, and
have, I think, done some good by our honesty. The matter on which
we were all agreed was freedom of speech, combined with personal
responsibility. We would be neither conservative nor liberal, neither
religious nor free-thinking, neither popular nor exclusive;--but we
would let any man who had a thing to say, and knew how to say it,
speak freely. But he should always speak with the responsibility of
his name attached. In the very beginning I militated against this
impossible negation of principles,--and did so most irrationally,
seeing that I had agreed to the negation of principles,--by declaring
that nothing should appear denying or questioning the divinity
of Christ. It was a most preposterous claim to make for such a
publication as we proposed, and it at once drove from us one
or two who had proposed to join us. But we went on, and our
company--limited--was formed. We subscribed, I think, £1250 each.
I at least subscribed that amount, and--having agreed to bring out
our publication every fortnight, after the manner of the well-known
French publication,--we called it _The Fortnightly_. We secured
the services of G. H. Lewes as our editor. We agreed to manage our
finances by a Board, which was to meet once a fortnight, and of which
I was the Chairman. And we determined that the payments for our
literature should be made on a liberal and strictly ready-money
system. We carried out our principles till our money was all gone,
and then we sold the copyright to Messrs. Chapman & Hall for a
trifle. But before we parted with our property we found that a
fortnightly issue was not popular with the trade through whose hands
the work must reach the public; and, as our periodical had not
become sufficiently popular itself to bear down such opposition,
we succumbed, and brought it out once a month. Still it was _The
Fortnightly_, and still it is _The Fortnightly_. Of all the serial
publications of the day, it probably is the most serious, the most
earnest, the least devoted to amusement, the least flippant, the
least jocose,--and yet it has the face to show itself month after
month to the world, with so absurd a misnomer! It is, as all who know
the laws of modern literature are aware, a very serious thing to
change the name of a periodical. By doing so you begin an altogether
new enterprise. Therefore should the name be well chosen;--whereas
this was very ill chosen, a fault for which I alone was responsible.

That theory of eclecticism was altogether impracticable. It was as
though a gentleman should go into the House of Commons determined to
support no party, but to serve his country by individual utterances.
Such gentlemen have gone into the House of Commons, but they have
not served their country much. Of course the project broke down.
Liberalism, free-thinking, and open inquiry will never object to
appear in company with their opposites, because they have the conceit
to think that they can quell those opposites; but the opposites will
not appear in conjunction with liberalism, free-thinking, and open
inquiry. As a natural consequence, our new publication became an
organ of liberalism, free-thinking, and open inquiry. The result has
been good; and though there is much in the now established principles
of _The Fortnightly_ with which I do not myself agree, I may safely
say that the publication has assured an individuality, and asserted
for itself a position in our periodical literature, which is well
understood and highly respected.

As to myself and my own hopes in the matter,--I was craving
after some increase in literary honesty, which I think is still
desirable, but which is hardly to be attained by the means which then
recommended themselves to me. In one of the early numbers I wrote a
paper advocating the signature of the authors to periodical writing,
admitting that the system should not be extended to journalistic
articles on political subjects. I think that I made the best of my
case; but further consideration has caused me to doubt whether the
reasons which induced me to make an exception in favour of political
writing do not extend themselves also to writing on other subjects.
Much of the literary criticism which we now have is very bad
indeed;--so bad as to be open to the charge both of dishonesty and
incapacity. Books are criticised without being read,--are criticised
by favour,--and are trusted by editors to the criticism of the
incompetent. If the names of the critics were demanded, editors
would be more careful. But I fear the effect would be that we should
get but little criticism, and that the public would put but little
trust in that little. An ordinary reader would not care to have his
books recommended to him by Jones; but the recommendation of the
great unknown comes to him with all the weight of the _Times_, the
_Spectator_, or the _Saturday_.

Though I admit so much, I am not a recreant from the doctrine I then
preached. I think that the name of the author does tend to honesty,
and that the knowledge that it will be inserted adds much to the
author's industry and care. It debars him also from illegitimate
license and dishonest assertions. A man should never be ashamed
to acknowledge that which he is not ashamed to publish. In _The
Fortnightly_ everything has been signed, and in this way good has,
I think, been done. Signatures to articles in other periodicals have
become much more common since _The Fortnightly_ was commenced.

After a time Mr. Lewes retired from the editorship, feeling that the
work pressed too severely on his moderate strength. Our loss in him
was very great, and there was considerable difficulty in finding a
successor. I must say that the present proprietor has been fortunate
in the choice he did make. Mr. John Morley has done the work with
admirable patience, zeal, and capacity. Of course he has got around
him a set of contributors whose modes of thought are what we may call
much advanced; he being "much advanced" himself, would not work with
other aids. The periodical has a peculiar tone of its own; but it
holds its own with ability, and though there are many who perhaps
hate it, there are none who despise it. When the company sold it,
having spent about £9000 on it, it was worth little or nothing. Now I
believe it to be a good property.

My own last personal concern with it was on a matter of
fox-hunting.[9] There came out in it an article from the pen of
Mr. Freeman the historian, condemning the amusement, which I love,
on the grounds of cruelty and general brutality. Was it possible,
asked Mr. Freeman, quoting from Cicero, that any educated man should
find delight in so coarse a pursuit? Always bearing in mind my own
connection with _The Fortnightly_, I regarded this almost as a rising
of a child against the father. I felt at any rate bound to answer Mr.
Freeman in the same columns, and I obtained Mr. Morley's permission
to do so. I wrote my defence of fox-hunting, and there it is. In
regard to the charge of cruelty, Mr. Freeman seems to assert that
nothing unpleasant should be done to any of God's creatures except
for a useful purpose. The protection of a lady's shoulders from the
cold is a useful purpose; and therefore a dozen fur-bearing animals
may be snared in the snow and left to starve to death in the wires,
in order that the lady may have the tippet,--though a tippet of
wool would serve the purpose as well as a tippet of fur. But the
congregation and healthful amusement of one or two hundred persons,
on whose behalf a single fox may or may not be killed, is not a
useful purpose. I think that Mr. Freeman has failed to perceive that
amusement is as needful and almost as necessary as food and raiment.
The absurdity of the further charge as to the general brutality of
the pursuit, and its consequent unfitness for an educated man, is
to be attributed to Mr. Freeman's ignorance of what is really done
and said in the hunting-field,--perhaps to his misunderstanding of
Cicero's words. There was a rejoinder to my answer, and I asked
for space for further remarks. I could have it, the editor said,
if I much wished it; but he preferred that the subject should be
closed. Of course I was silent. His sympathies were all with Mr.
Freeman,--and against the foxes, who, but for fox-hunting, would
cease to exist in England. And I felt that _The Fortnightly_ was
hardly the place for the defence of the sport. Afterwards Mr. Freeman
kindly suggested to me that he would be glad to publish my article
in a little book to be put out by him condemnatory of fox-hunting
generally. He was to have the last word and the first word, and that
power of picking to pieces which he is known to use in so masterly a
manner, without any reply from me! This I was obliged to decline. If
he would give me the last word, as he would have the first, then, I
told him, I should be proud to join him in the book. This offer did
not however meet his views.

   [Footnote 9: I have written various articles for it since,
   especially two on Cicero, to which I devoted great labour.]

It had been decided by the Board of Management, somewhat in
opposition to my own ideas on the subject, that the _Fortnightly
Review_ should always contain a novel. It was of course natural that
I should write the first novel, and I wrote _The Belton Estate_. It
is similar in its attributes to _Rachel Ray_ and to _Miss Mackenzie_.
It is readable, and contains scenes which are true to life; but it
has no peculiar merits, and will add nothing to my reputation as a
novelist. I have not looked at it since it was published; and now
turning back to it in my memory, I seem to remember almost less of it
than of any book that I have written.



_The Claverings_, which came out in 1866 and 1867, was the last novel
which I wrote for the _Cornhill_; and it was for this that I received
the highest rate of pay that was ever accorded to me. It was the same
length as _Framley Parsonage_, and the price was £2800. Whether much
or little, it was offered by the proprietor of the magazine, and was
paid in a single cheque.

In _The Claverings_ I did not follow the habit which had now become
very common to me, of introducing personages whose names are already
known to the readers of novels, and whose characters were familiar to
myself. If I remember rightly, no one appears here who had appeared
before or who has been allowed to appear since. I consider the story
as a whole to be good, though I am not aware that the public has ever
corroborated that verdict. The chief character is that of a young
woman who has married manifestly for money and rank,--so manifestly
that she does not herself pretend, even while she is making
the marriage, that she has any other reason. The man is old,
disreputable, and a worn-out debauchee. Then comes the punishment
natural to the offence. When she is free, the man whom she had loved,
and who had loved her, is engaged to another woman. He vacillates and
is weak,--in which weakness is the fault of the book, as he plays the
part of hero. But she is strong--strong in her purpose, strong in her
desires, and strong in her consciousness that the punishment which
comes upon her has been deserved.

But the chief merit of _The Claverings_ is in the genuine fun of some
of the scenes. Humour has not been my forte, but I am inclined to
think that the characters of Captain Boodle, Archie Clavering, and
Sophie Gordeloup are humorous. Count Pateroff, the brother of Sophie,
is also good, and disposes of the young hero's interference in a
somewhat masterly manner. In _The Claverings_, too, there is a
wife whose husband is a brute to her, who loses an only child--his
heir--and who is rebuked by her lord because the boy dies. Her sorrow
is, I think, pathetic. From beginning to end the story is well told.
But I doubt now whether any one reads _The Claverings_. When I
remember how many novels I have written, I have no right to expect
that above a few of them shall endure even to the second year
beyond publication. This story closed my connection with the
_Cornhill Magazine_;--but not with its owner, Mr. George Smith, who
subsequently brought out a further novel of mine in a separate form,
and who about this time established the _Pall Mall Gazette_, to which
paper I was for some years a contributor.

It was in 1865 that the _Pall Mall Gazette_ was commenced, the
name having been taken from a fictitious periodical, which was the
offspring of Thackeray's brain. It was set on foot by the unassisted
energy and resources of George Smith, who had succeeded by means of
his magazine and his publishing connection in getting around him a
society of literary men who sufficed, as far as literary ability
went, to float the paper at once under favourable auspices. His two
strongest staffs probably were "Jacob Omnium," whom I regard as the
most forcible newspaper writer of my days, and Fitz-James Stephen,
the most conscientious and industrious. To them the _Pall Mall
Gazette_ owed very much of its early success,--and to the untiring
energy and general ability of its proprietor. Among its other
contributors were George Lewes, Hannay,--who, I think, came up
from Edinburgh for employment on its columns,--Lord Houghton, Lord
Strangford, Charles Merivale, Greenwood the present editor, Greg,
myself, and very many others;--so many others, that I have met at a
Pall Mall dinner a crowd of guests who would have filled the House of
Commons more respectably than I have seen it filled even on important
occasions. There are many who now remember--and no doubt when this is
published there will be left some to remember--the great stroke of
business which was done by the revelations of a visitor to one of the
casual wards in London. A person had to be selected who would undergo
the misery of a night among the usual occupants of a casual ward in a
London poor-house, and who should at the same time be able to record
what he felt and saw. The choice fell upon Mr. Greenwood's brother,
who certainly possessed the courage and the powers of endurance. The
description, which was very well given, was, I think, chiefly written
by the brother of the Casual himself. It had a great effect, which
was increased by secrecy as to the person who encountered all the
horrors of that night. I was more than once assured that Lord
Houghton was the man. I heard it asserted also that I myself had been
the hero. At last the unknown one could no longer endure that his
honours should be hidden, and revealed the truth,--in opposition,
I fear, to promises to the contrary, and instigated by a conviction
that if known he could turn his honours to account. In the meantime,
however, that record of a night passed in a workhouse had done more
to establish the sale of the journal than all the legal lore of
Stephen, or the polemical power of Higgins, or the critical acumen of

My work was very various. I wrote much on the subject of the American
War, on which my feelings were at the time very keen,--subscribing,
if I remember right, my name to all that I wrote. I contributed also
some sets of sketches, of which those concerning hunting found
favour with the public. They were republished afterwards, and had a
considerable sale, and may, I think, still be recommended to those
who are fond of hunting, as being accurate in their description
of the different classes of people who are to be met in the
hunting-field. There was also a set of clerical sketches, which was
considered to be of sufficient importance to bring down upon my
head the critical wrath of a great dean of that period. The most
ill-natured review that was ever written upon any work of mine
appeared in the _Contemporary Review_ with reference to these
Clerical Sketches. The critic told me that I did not understand
Greek. That charge has been made not unfrequently by those who have
felt themselves strong in that pride-producing language. It is much
to read Greek with ease, but it is not disgraceful to be unable to do
so. To pretend to read it without being able,--that is disgraceful.
The critic, however, had been driven to wrath by my saying that
Deans of the Church of England loved to revisit the glimpses of the
metropolitan moon.

I also did some critical work for the _Pall Mall_,--as I did also for
_The Fortnightly_. It was not to my taste, but was done in conformity
with strict conscientious scruples. I read what I took in hand,
and said what I believed to be true,--always giving to the matter
time altogether incommensurate with the pecuniary result to myself.
In doing this for the _Pall Mall_, I fell into great sorrow. A
gentleman, whose wife was dear to me as if she were my own sister,
was in some trouble as to his conduct in the public service. He had
been blamed, as he thought unjustly, and vindicated himself in a
pamphlet. This he handed to me one day, asking me to read it, and
express my opinion about it if I found that I had an opinion. I
thought the request injudicious, and I did not read the pamphlet.
He met me again, and, handing me a second pamphlet, pressed me very
hard. I promised him that I would read it, and that if I found myself
able I would express myself;--but that I must say not what I wished
to think, but what I did think. To this of course he assented. I then
went very much out of my way to study the subject,--which was one
requiring study. I found, or thought that I found, that the conduct
of the gentleman in his office had been indiscreet; but that charges
made against himself affecting his honour were baseless. This I said,
emphasising much more strongly than was necessary the opinion which I
had formed of his indiscretion,--as will so often be the case when a
man has a pen in his hand. It is like a club or a sledge-hammer,--in
using which, either for defence or attack, a man can hardly measure
the strength of the blows he gives. Of course there was offence,--and
a breaking off of intercourse between loving friends,--and a sense of
wrong received, and I must own, too, of wrong done. It certainly was
not open to me to whitewash with honesty him whom I did not find to
be white; but there was no duty incumbent on me to declare what was
his colour in my eyes,--no duty even to ascertain. But I had been
ruffled by the persistency of the gentleman's request,--which should
not have been made,--and I punished him for his wrong-doing by doing
a wrong myself. I must add, that before he died his wife succeeded in
bringing us together.

In the early days of the paper, the proprietor, who at that time
acted also as chief editor, asked me to undertake a duty,--of which
the agony would indeed at no one moment have been so sharp as that
endured in the casual ward, but might have been prolonged until human
nature sank under it. He suggested to me that I should during an
entire season attend the May meetings in Exeter Hall, and give a
graphic and, if possible, amusing description of the proceedings. I
did attend one,--which lasted three hours,--and wrote a paper which
I think was called _A Zulu in Search of a Religion_. But when the
meeting was over I went to that spirited proprietor, and begged him
to impose upon me some task more equal to my strength. Not even on
behalf of the _Pall Mall Gazette_, which was very dear to me, could
I go through a second May meeting,--much less endure a season of such

I have to acknowledge that I found myself unfit for work on a
newspaper. I had not taken to it early enough in life to learn its
ways and bear its trammels. I was fidgety when any word was altered
in accordance with the judgment of the editor, who, of course,
was responsible for what appeared. I wanted to select my own
subjects,--not to have them selected for me; to write when I
pleased,--and not when it suited others. As a permanent member of a
staff I was no use, and after two or three years I dropped out of the

From the commencement of my success as a writer, which I date from
the beginning of the _Cornhill Magazine_, I had always felt an
injustice in literary affairs which had never afflicted me or even
suggested itself to me while I was unsuccessful. It seemed to me that
a name once earned carried with it too much favour. I indeed had
never reached a height to which praise was awarded as a matter of
course; but there were others who sat on higher seats to whom the
critics brought unmeasured incense and adulation, even when they
wrote, as they sometimes did write, trash which from a beginner would
not have been thought worthy of the slightest notice. I hope no one
will think that in saying this I am actuated by jealousy of others.
Though I never reached that height, still I had so far progressed
that that which I wrote was received with too much favour. The
injustice which struck me did not consist in that which was withheld
from me, but in that which was given to me. I felt that aspirants
coming up below me might do work as good as mine, and probably much
better work, and yet fail to have it appreciated. In order to test
this, I determined to be such an aspirant myself, and to begin a
course of novels anonymously, in order that I might see whether I
could obtain a second identity,--whether as I had made one mark by
such literary ability as I possessed, I might succeed in doing so
again. In 1865 I began a short tale called _Nina Balatka_, which
in 1866 was published anonymously in _Blackwood's Magazine_. In
1867 this was followed by another of the same length, called _Linda
Tressel_. I will speak of them together, as they are of the same
nature and of nearly equal merit. Mr. Blackwood, who himself read the
MS. of _Nina Balatka_, expressed an opinion that it would not from
its style be discovered to have been written by me;--but it was
discovered by Mr. Hutton of the _Spectator_, who found the repeated
use of some special phrase which had rested upon his ear too
frequently when reading for the purpose of criticism other works of
mine. He declared in his paper that _Nina Balatka_ was by me, showing
I think more sagacity than good nature. I ought not, however, to
complain of him, as of all the critics of my work he has been the
most observant, and generally the most eulogistic. _Nina Balatka_
never rose sufficiently high in reputation to make its detection a
matter of any importance. Once or twice I heard the story mentioned
by readers who did not know me to be the author, and always with
praise; but it had no real success. The same may be said of _Linda
Tressel_. Blackwood, who of course knew the author, was willing to
publish them, trusting that works by an experienced writer would make
their way, even without the writer's name, and he was willing to pay
me for them, perhaps half what they would have fetched with my name.
But he did not find the speculation answer, and declined a third
attempt, though a third such tale was written for him.

Nevertheless I am sure that the two stories are good. Perhaps the
first is somewhat the better, as being the less lachrymose. They were
both written very quickly, but with a considerable amount of labour;
and both were written immediately after visits to the towns in which
the scenes are laid,--Prague, mainly, and Nuremberg. Of course I had
endeavoured to change not only my manner of language, but my manner
of story-telling also; and in this, _pace_ Mr. Hutton, I think that
I was successful. English life in them there was none. There was more
of romance proper than had been usual with me. And I made an attempt
at local colouring, at descriptions of scenes and places, which has
not been usual with me. In all this I am confident that I was in a
measure successful. In the loves, and fears, and hatreds, both of
Nina and of Linda, there is much that is pathetic. Prague is Prague,
and Nuremberg is Nuremberg. I know that the stories are good, but
they missed the object with which they had been written. Of course
there is not in this any evidence that I might not have succeeded a
second time as I succeeded before, had I gone on with the same dogged
perseverance. Mr. Blackwood, had I still further reduced my price,
would probably have continued the experiment. Another ten years of
unpaid unflagging labour might have built up a second reputation. But
this at any rate did seem clear to me, that with all the increased
advantages which practice in my art must have given me, I could not
at once induce English readers to read what I gave to them, unless I
gave it with my name.

I do not wish to have it supposed from this that I quarrel with
public judgment in affairs of literature. It is a matter of course
that in all things the public should trust to established reputation.
It is as natural that a novel reader wanting novels should send to
a library for those by George Eliot or Wilkie Collins, as that a
lady when she wants a pie for a picnic should go to Fortnum & Mason.
Fortnum & Mason can only make themselves Fortnum & Mason by dint of
time and good pies combined. If Titian were to send us a portrait
from the other world, as certain dead poets send their poetry, by
means of a medium, it would be some time before the art critic of
the _Times_ would discover its value. We may sneer at the want of
judgment thus displayed, but such slowness of judgment is human
and has always existed. I say all this here because my thoughts
on the matter have forced upon me the conviction that very much
consideration is due to the bitter feelings of disappointed authors.

We who have succeeded are so apt to tell new aspirants not to aspire,
because the thing to be done may probably be beyond their reach.
"My dear young lady, had you not better stay at home and darn your
stockings?" "As, sir, you have asked for my candid opinion, I can
only counsel you to try some other work of life which may be better
suited to your abilities." What old-established successful author has
not said such words as these to humble aspirants for critical advice,
till they have become almost formulas? No doubt there is cruelty in
such answers; but the man who makes them has considered the matter
within himself, and has resolved that such cruelty is the best mercy.
No doubt the chances against literary aspirants are very great.
It is so easy to aspire,--and to begin! A man cannot make a watch
or a shoe without a variety of tools and many materials. He must
also have learned much. But any young lady can write a book who
has a sufficiency of pens and paper. It can be done anywhere; in
any clothes--which is a great thing; at any hours--to which happy
accident in literature I owe my success. And the success, when
achieved, is so pleasant! The aspirants, of course, are very many;
and the experienced councillor, when asked for his candid judgment as
to this or that effort, knows that among every hundred efforts there
will be ninety-nine failures. Then the answer is so ready: "My dear
young lady, do darn your stockings; it will be for the best." Or
perhaps, less tenderly, to the male aspirant: "You must earn some
money, you say. Don't you think that a stool in a counting-house
might be better?" The advice will probably be good advice,--probably,
no doubt, as may be proved by the terrible majority of failures. But
who is to be sure that he is not expelling an angel from the heaven
to which, if less roughly treated, he would soar,--that he is not
dooming some Milton to be mute and inglorious, who, but for such
cruel ill-judgment, would become vocal to all ages?

The answer to all this seems to be ready enough. The judgment,
whether cruel or tender, should not be ill-judgment. He who consents
to sit as judge should have capacity for judging. But in this matter
no accuracy of judgment is possible. It may be that the matter
subjected to the critic is so bad or so good as to make an assured
answer possible. "You, at any rate, cannot make this your vocation;"
or "You, at any rate, can succeed, if you will try." But cases as to
which such certainty can be expressed are rare. The critic who wrote
the article on the early verses of Lord Byron, which produced the
_English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_, was justified in his criticism
by the merits of the _Hours of Idleness_. The lines had nevertheless
been written by that Lord Byron who became our Byron. In a little
satire called _The Biliad_, which, I think, nobody knows, are the
following well-expressed lines:--

   "When Payne Knight's _Taste_ was issued to the town,
    A few Greek verses in the text set down
    Were torn to pieces, mangled into hash,
    Doomed to the flames as execrable trash,--
    In short, were butchered rather than dissected,
    And several false quantities detected,--
    Till, when the smoke had vanished from the cinders,
    'Twas just discovered that--_the lines were Pindar's!_"

There can be no assurance against cases such as these; and yet we are
so free with our advice, always bidding the young aspirant to desist.

There is perhaps no career of life so charming as that of a
successful man of letters. Those little unthought of advantages which
I just now named are in themselves attractive. If you like the town,
live in the town, and do your work there; if you like the country,
choose the country. It may be done on the top of a mountain or in the
bottom of a pit. It is compatible with the rolling of the sea and
the motion of a railway. The clergyman, the lawyer, the doctor, the
member of Parliament, the clerk in a public office, the tradesman,
and even his assistant in the shop, must dress in accordance with
certain fixed laws; but the author need sacrifice to no grace, hardly
even to Propriety. He is subject to no bonds such as those which bind
other men. Who else is free from all shackle as to hours? The judge
must sit at ten, and the attorney-general, who is making his £20,000
a year, must be there with his bag. The Prime Minister must be in his
place on that weary front bench shortly after prayers, and must sit
there, either asleep or awake, even though ---- or ---- should be
addressing the House. During all that Sunday which he maintains
should be a day of rest, the active clergyman toils like a
galley-slave. The actor, when eight o'clock comes, is bound to his
footlights. The Civil Service clerk must sit there from ten till
four,--unless his office be fashionable, when twelve to six is just
as heavy on him. The author may do his work at five in the morning
when he is fresh from his bed, or at three in the morning before he
goes there. And the author wants no capital, and encounters no risks.
When once he is afloat, the publisher finds all that;--and indeed,
unless he be rash, finds it whether he be afloat or not. But it is
in the consideration which he enjoys that the successful author
finds his richest reward. He is, if not of equal rank, yet of equal
standing with the highest; and if he be open to the amenities of
society, may choose his own circles. He without money can enter doors
which are closed against almost all but him and the wealthy. I have
often heard it said that in this country the man of letters is not
recognised. I believe the meaning of this to be that men of letters
are not often invited to be knights and baronets. I do not think that
they wish it;--and if they had it they would, as a body, lose much
more than they would gain. I do not at all desire to have letters put
after my name, or to be called Sir Anthony, but if my friends Tom
Hughes and Charles Reade became Sir Thomas and Sir Charles, I do not
know how I might feel,--or how my wife might feel, if we were left
unbedecked. As it is, the man of letters who would be selected for
titular honour, if such bestowal of honours were customary, receives
from the general respect of those around him a much more pleasant
recognition of his worth.

If this be so,--if it be true that the career of the successful
literary man be thus pleasant,--it is not wonderful that many should
attempt to win the prize. But how is a man to know whether or not he
has within him the qualities necessary for such a career? He makes
an attempt, and fails; repeats his attempt, and fails again! So many
have succeeded at last who have failed more than once or twice! Who
will tell him the truth as to himself? Who has power to find out
that truth? The hard man sends him off without a scruple to that
office-stool; the soft man assures him that there is much merit in
his MS.

Oh, my young aspirant,--if ever such a one should read these
pages,--be sure that no one can tell you! To do so it would be
necessary not only to know what there is now within you, but also to
foresee what time will produce there. This, however, I think may be
said to you, without any doubt as to the wisdom of the counsel given,
that if it be necessary for you to live by your work, do not begin by
trusting to literature. Take the stool in the office as recommended
to you by the hard man; and then, in such leisure hours as may belong
to you, let the praise which has come from the lips of that soft man
induce you to persevere in your literary attempts. Should you fail,
then your failure will not be fatal,--and what better could you have
done with the leisure hours had you not so failed? Such double toil,
you will say, is severe. Yes; but if you want this thing, you must
submit to severe toil.

Sometime before this I had become one of the Committee appointed for
the distribution of the moneys of the Royal Literary Fund, and in
that capacity I heard and saw much of the sufferings of authors. I
may in a future chapter speak further of this Institution, which I
regard with great affection, and in reference to which I should be
glad to record certain convictions of my own; but I allude to it now,
because the experience I have acquired in being active in its cause
forbids me to advise any young man or woman to enter boldly on a
literary career in search of bread. I know how utterly I should have
failed myself had my bread not been earned elsewhere while I was
making my efforts. During ten years of work, which I commenced with
some aid from the fact that others of my family were in the same
profession, I did not earn enough to buy me the pens, ink, and paper
which I was using; and then when, with all my experience in my art, I
began again as from a new springing point, I should have failed again
unless again I could have given years to the task. Of course there
have been many who have done better than I,--many whose powers have
been infinitely greater. But then, too, I have seen the failure of
many who were greater.

The career, when success has been achieved, is certainly very
pleasant; but the agonies which are endured in the search for that
success are often terrible. And the author's poverty is, I think,
harder to be borne than any other poverty. The man, whether rightly
or wrongly, feels that the world is using him with extreme injustice.
The more absolutely he fails, the higher, it is probable, he will
reckon his own merits; and the keener will be the sense of injury
in that he whose work is of so high a nature cannot get bread,
while they whose tasks are mean are lapped in luxury. "I, with my
well-filled mind, with my clear intellect, with all my gifts, cannot
earn a poor crown a day, while that fool, who simpers in a little
room behind a shop, makes his thousands every year." The very
charity, to which he too often is driven, is bitterer to him than to
others. While he takes it he almost spurns the hand that gives it to
him, and every fibre of his heart within him is bleeding with a sense
of injury.

The career, when successful, is pleasant enough certainly; but when
unsuccessful, it is of all careers the most agonising.



It is nearly twenty years since I proposed to myself to write a
history of English prose fiction. I shall never do it now, but
the subject is so good a one that I recommend it heartily to some
man of letters, who shall at the same time be indefatigable and
light-handed. I acknowledge that I broke down in the task, because
I could not endure the labour in addition to the other labours of
my life. Though the book might be charming, the work was very much
the reverse. It came to have a terrible aspect to me, as did that
proposition that I should sit out all the May meetings of a season.
According to my plan of such a history it would be necessary to read
an infinity of novels, and not only to read them, but so to read them
as to point out the excellences of those which are most excellent,
and to explain the defects of those which, though defective, had
still reached sufficient reputation to make them worthy of notice.
I did read many after this fashion,--and here and there I have the
criticisms which I wrote. In regard to many, they were written on
some blank page within the book. I have not, however, even a list of
the books so criticised. I think that the _Arcadia_ was the first,
and _Ivanhoe_ the last. My plan, as I settled it at last, had been to
begin with _Robinson Crusoe_, which is the earliest really popular
novel which we have in our language, and to continue the review so as
to include the works of all English novelists of reputation, except
those who might still be living when my task should be completed. But
when Dickens and Bulwer died, my spirit flagged, and that which I had
already found to be very difficult had become almost impossible to me
at my then period of life.

I began my own studies on the subject with works much earlier than
_Robinson Crusoe_, and made my way through a variety of novels which
were necessary for my purpose, but which in the reading gave me no
pleasure whatever. I never worked harder than at the _Arcadia_, or
read more detestable trash than the stories written by Mrs. Aphra
Behn; but these two were necessary to my purpose, which was not only
to give an estimate of the novels as I found them, but to describe
how it had come to pass that the English novels of the present day
have become what they are, to point out the effects which they have
produced, and to inquire whether their great popularity has on the
whole done good or evil to the people who read them. I still think
that the book is one well worthy to be written.

I intended to write that book to vindicate my own profession as a
novelist, and also to vindicate that public taste in literature which
has created and nourished the profession which I follow. And I was
stirred up to make such an attempt by a conviction that there still
exists among us Englishmen a prejudice in respect to novels which
might, perhaps, be lessened by such a work. This prejudice is
not against the reading of novels, as is proved by their general
acceptance among us. But it exists strongly in reference to the
appreciation in which they are professed to be held; and it robs them
of much of that high character which they may claim to have earned by
their grace, their honesty, and good teaching.

No man can work long at any trade without being brought to consider
much whether that which he is daily doing tends to evil or to good. I
have written many novels, and have known many writers of novels, and
I can assert that such thoughts have been strong with them and with
myself. But in acknowledging that these writers have received from
the public a full measure of credit for such genius, ingenuity,
or perseverance as each may have displayed, I feel that there is
still wanting to them a just appreciation of the excellence of their
calling, and a general understanding of the high nature of the work
which they perform.

By the common consent of all mankind who have read, poetry takes the
highest place in literature. That nobility of expression, and all
but divine grace of words, which she is bound to attain before she
can make her footing good, is not compatible with prose. Indeed it
is that which turns prose into poetry. When that has been in truth
achieved, the reader knows that the writer has soared above the
earth, and can teach his lessons somewhat as a god might teach. He
who sits down to write his tale in prose makes no such attempt, nor
does he dream that the poet's honour is within his reach;--but his
teaching is of the same nature, and his lessons all tend to the same
end. By either, false sentiments may be fostered; false notions of
humanity may be engendered; false honour, false love, false worship
may be created; by either, vice instead of virtue may be taught. But
by each, equally, may true honour, true love, true worship, and true
humanity be inculcated; and that will be the greatest teacher who
will spread such truth the widest. But at present, much as novels, as
novels, are bought and read, there exists still an idea, a feeling
which is very prevalent, that novels at their best are but innocent.
Young men and women,--and old men and women too,--read more of them
than of poetry, because such reading is easier than the reading of
poetry; but they read them,--as men eat pastry after dinner,--not
without some inward conviction that the taste is vain if not vicious.
I take upon myself to say that it is neither vicious nor vain.

But all writers of fiction who have desired to think well of their
own work, will probably have had doubts on their minds before they
have arrived at this conclusion. Thinking much of my own daily labour
and of its nature, I felt myself at first to be much afflicted and
then to be deeply grieved by the opinion expressed by wise and
thinking men as to the work done by novelists. But when, by degrees,
I dared to examine and sift the sayings of such men, I found them to
be sometimes silly and often arrogant. I began to inquire what had
been the nature of English novels since they first became common in
our own language, and to be desirous of ascertaining whether they had
done harm or good. I could well remember that, in my own young days,
they had not taken that undisputed possession of drawing-rooms which
they now hold. Fifty years ago, when George IV. was king, they were
not indeed treated as Lydia had been forced to treat them in the
preceding reign, when, on the approach of elders, _Peregrine Pickle_
was hidden beneath the bolster, and _Lord Ainsworth_ put away under
the sofa. But the families in which an unrestricted permission was
given for the reading of novels were very few, and from many they
were altogether banished. The high poetic genius and correct morality
of Walter Scott had not altogether succeeded in making men and women
understand that lessons which were good in poetry could not be bad
in prose. I remember that in those days an embargo was laid upon
novel-reading as a pursuit, which was to the novelist a much heavier
tax than that want of full appreciation of which I now complain.

There is, we all know, no such embargo now. May we not say that
people of an age to read have got too much power into their own hands
to endure any very complete embargo? Novels are read right and left,
above stairs and below, in town houses and in country parsonages, by
young countesses and by farmers' daughters, by old lawyers and by
young students. It has not only come to pass that a special provision
of them has to be made for the godly, but that the provision so made
must now include books which a few years since the godly would have
thought to be profane. It was this necessity which, a few years
since, induced the editor of _Good Words_ to apply to me for a
novel,--which, indeed, when supplied was rejected, but which now,
probably, owing to further change in the same direction, would have
been accepted.

If such be the case--if the extension of novel-reading be so wide
as I have described it--then very much good or harm must be done
by novels. The amusement of the time can hardly be the only result
of any book that is read, and certainly not so with a novel, which
appeals especially to the imagination, and solicits the sympathy of
the young. A vast proportion of the teaching of the day,--greater
probably than many of us have acknowledged to ourselves,--comes
from these books, which are in the hands of all readers. It is from
them that girls learn what is expected from them, and what they
are to expect when lovers come; and also from them that young men
unconsciously learn what are, or should be, or may be, the charms
of love,--though I fancy that few young men will think so little of
their natural instincts and powers as to believe that I am right in
saying so. Many other lessons also are taught. In these times, when
the desire to be honest is pressed so hard, is so violently assaulted
by the ambition to be great; in which riches are the easiest road
to greatness; when the temptations to which men are subjected dulls
their eyes to the perfected iniquities of others; when it is so hard
for a man to decide vigorously that the pitch, which so many are
handling, will defile him if it be touched;--men's conduct will be
actuated much by that which is from day to day depicted to them as
leading to glorious or inglorious results. The woman who is described
as having obtained all that the world holds to be precious, by
lavishing her charms and her caresses unworthily and heartlessly,
will induce other women to do the same with theirs,--as will she who
is made interesting by exhibitions of bold passion teach others to
be spuriously passionate. The young man who in a novel becomes a
hero, perhaps a Member of Parliament, and almost a Prime Minister, by
trickery, falsehood, and flash cleverness, will have many followers,
whose attempts to rise in the world ought to lie heavily on the
conscience of the novelists who create fictitious Cagliostros. There
are Jack Sheppards other than those who break into houses and out of
prisons,--Macheaths, who deserve the gallows more than Gay's hero.

Thinking of all this, as a novelist surely must do,--as I certainly
have done through my whole career,--it becomes to him a matter of
deep conscience how he shall handle those characters by whose words
and doings he hopes to interest his readers. It will very frequently
be the case that he will be tempted to sacrifice something for
effect, to say a word or two here, or to draw a picture there, for
which he feels that he has the power, and which when spoken or drawn
would be alluring. The regions of absolute vice are foul and odious.
The savour of them, till custom has hardened the palate and the nose,
is disgusting. In these he will hardly tread. But there are outskirts
on these regions, on which sweet-smelling flowers seem to grow, and
grass to be green. It is in these border-lands that the danger lies.
The novelist may not be dull. If he commit that fault he can do
neither harm nor good. He must please, and the flowers and the grass
in these neutral territories sometimes seem to give him so easy an
opportunity of pleasing!

The writer of stories must please, or he will be nothing. And he must
teach whether he wish to teach or no. How shall he teach lessons of
virtue and at the same time make himself a delight to his readers?
That sermons are not in themselves often thought to be agreeable we
all know. Nor are disquisitions on moral philosophy supposed to be
pleasant reading for our idle hours. But the novelist, if he have
a conscience, must preach his sermons with the same purpose as the
clergyman, and must have his own system of ethics. If he can do this
efficiently, if he can make virtue alluring and vice ugly, while he
charms his readers instead of wearying them, then I think Mr. Carlyle
need not call him distressed, nor talk of that long ear of fiction,
nor question whether he be or not the most foolish of existing

I think that many have done so; so many that we English novelists may
boast as a class that such has been the general result of our own
work. Looking back to the past generation, I may say with certainty
that such was the operation of the novels of Miss Edgeworth, Miss
Austen, and Walter Scott. Coming down to my own times, I find such to
have been the teaching of Thackeray, of Dickens, and of George Eliot.
Speaking, as I shall speak to any who may read these words, with that
absence of self-personality which the dead may claim, I will boast
that such has been the result of my own writing. Can any one by
search through the works of the six great English novelists I have
named, find a scene, a passage, or a word that would teach a girl to
be immodest, or a man to be dishonest? When men in their pages have
been described as dishonest and women as immodest, have they not ever
been punished? It is not for the novelist to say, baldly and simply:
"Because you lied here, or were heartless there, because you Lydia
Bennet forgot the lessons of your honest home, or you Earl Leicester
were false through your ambition, or you Beatrix loved too well the
glitter of the world, therefore you shall be scourged with scourges
either in this world or in the next;" but it is for him to show, as
he carries on his tale, that his Lydia, or his Leicester, or his
Beatrix, will be dishonoured in the estimation of all readers by his
or her vices. Let a woman be drawn clever, beautiful, attractive,--so
as to make men love her, and women almost envy her,--and let her be
made also heartless, unfeminine, and ambitious of evil grandeur, as
was Beatrix, what a danger is there not in such a character! To the
novelist who shall handle it, what peril of doing harm! But if at
last it have been so handled that every girl who reads of Beatrix
shall say: "Oh! not like that;--let me not be like that!" and that
every youth shall say: "Let me not have such a one as that to press
my bosom, anything rather than that!"--then will not the novelist
have preached his sermon as perhaps no clergyman can preach it?

Very much of a novelist's work must appertain to the intercourse
between young men and young women. It is admitted that a novel can
hardly be made interesting or successful without love. Some few might
be named, but even in those the attempt breaks down, and the softness
of love is found to be necessary to complete the story. _Pickwick_
has been named as an exception to the rule, but even in _Pickwick_
there are three or four sets of lovers, whose little amatory longings
give a softness to the work. I tried it once with _Miss Mackenzie_,
but I had to make her fall in love at last. In this frequent allusion
to the passion which most stirs the imagination of the young, there
must be danger. Of that the writer of fiction is probably well aware.
Then the question has to be asked, whether the danger may not be so
averted that good may be the result,--and to be answered.

In one respect the necessity of dealing with love is
advantageous,--advantageous from the very circumstance which has made
love necessary to all novelists. It is necessary because the passion
is one which interests or has interested all. Every one feels it, has
felt it, or expects to feel it,--or else rejects it with an eagerness
which still perpetuates the interest. If the novelist, therefore,
can so handle the subject as to do good by his handling, as to teach
wholesome lessons in regard to love, the good which he does will be
very wide. If I can teach politicians that they can do their business
better by truth than by falsehood, I do a great service; but it is
done to a limited number of persons. But if I can make young men and
women believe that truth in love will make them happy, then, if my
writings be popular, I shall have a very large class of pupils. No
doubt the cause for that fear which did exist as to novels arose from
an idea that the matter of love would be treated in an inflammatory
and generally unwholesome manner. "Madam," says Sir Anthony in the
play, "a circulating library in a town is an evergreen tree of
diabolical knowledge. It blossoms through the year; and depend on it,
Mrs. Malaprop, that they who are so fond of handling the leaves will
long for the fruit at last." Sir Anthony was no doubt right. But he
takes it for granted that the longing for the fruit is an evil. The
novelist who writes of love thinks differently, and thinks that the
honest love of an honest man is a treasure which a good girl may
fairly hope to win,--and that if she can be taught to wish only for
that, she will have been taught to entertain only wholesome wishes.

I can easily believe that a girl should be taught to wish to love by
reading how Laura Bell loved Pendennis. Pendennis was not in truth a
very worthy man, nor did he make a very good husband; but the girl's
love was so beautiful, and the wife's love when she became a wife so
womanlike, and at the same time so sweet, so unselfish, so wifely, so
worshipful,--in the sense in which wives are told that they ought to
worship their husbands,--that I cannot believe that any girl can be
injured, or even not benefited, by reading of Laura's love.

There once used to be many who thought, and probably there still are
some, even here in England, who think that a girl should hear nothing
of love till the time come in which she is to be married. That, no
doubt, was the opinion of Sir Anthony Absolute and of Mrs. Malaprop.
But I am hardly disposed to believe that the old system was more
favourable than ours to the purity of manners. Lydia Languish, though
she was constrained by fear of her aunt to hide the book, yet had
_Peregrine Pickle_ in her collection. While human nature talks of
love so forcibly it can hardly serve our turn to be silent on the
subject. "Naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret." There are
countries in which it has been in accordance with the manners of the
upper classes that the girl should be brought to marry the man almost
out of the nursery--or rather perhaps out of the convent--without
having enjoyed that freedom of thought which the reading of novels
and of poetry will certainly produce; but I do not know that the
marriages so made have been thought to be happier than our own.

Among English novels of the present day, and among English novelists,
a great division is made. There are sensational novels and
anti-sensational, sensational novelists and anti-sensational,
sensational readers and anti-sensational. The novelists who are
considered to be anti-sensational are generally called realistic.
I am realistic. My friend Wilkie Collins is generally supposed to
be sensational. The readers who prefer the one are supposed to take
delight in the elucidation of character. Those who hold by the other
are charmed by the continuation and gradual development of a plot.
All this is, I think, a mistake,--which mistake arises from the
inability of the imperfect artist to be at the same time realistic
and sensational. A good novel should be both, and both in the highest
degree. If a novel fail in either, there is a failure in art. Let
those readers who believe that they do not like sensational scenes in
novels think of some of those passages from our great novelists which
have charmed them most:--of Rebecca in the castle with Ivanhoe; of
Burley in the cave with Morton; of the mad lady tearing the veil of
the expectant bride, in _Jane Eyre_; of Lady Castlewood as, in her
indignation, she explains to the Duke of Hamilton Henry Esmond's
right to be present at the marriage of his Grace with Beatrix;--may
I add, of Lady Mason, as she makes her confession at the feet of Sir
Peregrine Orme? Will any one say that the authors of these passages
have sinned in being over-sensational? No doubt, a string of horrible
incidents, bound together without truth in detail, and told as
affecting personages without character,--wooden blocks, who cannot
make themselves known to the reader as men and women,--does not
instruct or amuse, or even fill the mind with awe. Horrors heaped
upon horrors, and which are horrors only in themselves, and not as
touching any recognised and known person, are not tragic, and soon
cease even to horrify. And such would-be tragic elements of a story
may be increased without end, and without difficulty. I may tell you
of a woman murdered,--murdered in the same street with you, in the
next house,--that she was a wife murdered by her husband,--a bride
not yet a week a wife. I may add to it for ever. I may say that the
murderer roasted her alive. There is no end to it. I may declare that
a former wife was treated with equal barbarity; and may assert that,
as the murderer was led away to execution, he declared his only
sorrow, his only regret to be, that he could not live to treat a
third wife after the same fashion. There is nothing so easy as the
creation and the cumulation of fearful incidents after this fashion.
If such creation and cumulation be the beginning and the end of the
novelist's work,--and novels have been written which seem to be
without other attractions,--nothing can be more dull or more useless.
But not on that account are we averse to tragedy in prose fiction.
As in poetry, so in prose, he who can deal adequately with tragic
elements is a greater artist and reaches a higher aim than the writer
whose efforts never carry him above the mild walks of everyday life.
The _Bride of Lammermoor_ is a tragedy throughout, in spite of its
comic elements. The life of Lady Castlewood, of whom I have spoken,
is a tragedy. Rochester's wretched thraldom to his mad wife, in _Jane
Eyre_, is a tragedy. But these stories charm us not simply because
they are tragic, but because we feel that men and women with flesh
and blood, creatures with whom we can sympathise, are struggling
amidst their woes. It all lies in that. No novel is anything, for
the purposes either of comedy or tragedy, unless the reader can
sympathise with the characters whose names he finds upon the pages.
Let an author so tell his tale as to touch his reader's heart and
draw his tears, and he has, so far, done his work well. Truth let
there be,--truth of description, truth of character, human truth as
to men and women. If there be such truth, I do not know that a novel
can be too sensational.

I did intend when I meditated that history of English fiction to
include within its pages some rules for the writing of novels;--or
I might perhaps say, with more modesty, to offer some advice on the
art to such tyros in it as might be willing to take advantage of the
experience of an old hand. But the matter would, I fear, be too long
for this episode, and I am not sure that I have as yet got the rules
quite settled in my own mind. I will, however, say a few words on one
or two points which my own practice has pointed out to me.

I have from the first felt sure that the writer, when he sits down to
commence his novel, should do so, not because he has to tell a story,
but because he has a story to tell. The novelist's first novel will
generally have sprung from the right cause. Some series of events,
or some development of character, will have presented itself to his
imagination,--and this he feels so strongly that he thinks he can
present his picture in strong and agreeable language to others. He
sits down and tells his story because he has a story to tell; as you,
my friend, when you have heard something which has at once tickled
your fancy or moved your pathos, will hurry to tell it to the
first person you meet. But when that first novel has been received
graciously by the public and has made for itself a success, then the
writer, naturally feeling that the writing of novels is within his
grasp, looks about for something to tell in another. He cudgels his
brains, not always successfully, and sits down to write, not because
he has something which he burns to tell, but because he feels it
to be incumbent on him to be telling something. As you, my friend,
if you are very successful in the telling of that first story,
will become ambitious of further story-telling, and will look out
for anecdotes,--in the narration of which you will not improbably
sometimes distress your audience.

So it has been with many novelists, who, after some good work,
perhaps after very much good work, have distressed their audience
because they have gone on with their work till their work has become
simply a trade with them. Need I make a list of such, seeing that it
would contain the names of those who have been greatest in the art of
British novel-writing? They have at last become weary of that portion
of a novelist's work which is of all the most essential to success.
That a man as he grows old should feel the labour of writing to be
a fatigue is natural enough. But a man to whom writing has become a
habit may write well though he be fatigued. But the weary novelist
refuses any longer to give his mind to that work of observation and
reception from which has come his power, without which work his power
cannot be continued,--which work should be going on not only when he
is at his desk, but in all his walks abroad, in all his movements
through the world, in all his intercourse with his fellow-creatures.
He has become a novelist, as another has become a poet, because he
has in those walks abroad, unconsciously for the most part, been
drawing in matter from all that he has seen and heard. But this
has not been done without labour, even when the labour has been
unconscious. Then there comes a time when he shuts his eyes and shuts
his ears. When we talk of memory fading as age comes on, it is such
shutting of eyes and ears that we mean. The things around cease to
interest us, and we cannot exercise our minds upon them. To the
novelist thus wearied there comes the demand for further novels. He
does not know his own defect, and even if he did he does not wish to
abandon his own profession. He still writes; but he writes because he
has to tell a story, not because he has a story to tell. What reader
of novels has not felt the "woodenness" of this mode of telling?
The characters do not live and move, but are cut out of blocks and
are propped against the wall. The incidents are arranged in certain
lines--the arrangement being as palpable to the reader as it has been
to the writer--but do not follow each other as results naturally
demanded by previous action. The reader can never feel--as he
ought to feel--that only for that flame of the eye, only for that
angry word, only for that moment of weakness, all might have been
different. The course of the tale is one piece of stiff mechanism, in
which there is no room for a doubt.

These, it may be said, are reflections which I, being an old
novelist, might make useful to myself for discontinuing my work, but
can hardly be needed by those tyros of whom I have spoken. That they
are applicable to myself I readily admit, but I also find that they
apply to many beginners. Some of us who are old fail at last because
we are old. It would be well that each of us should say to himself,

   "Solve senescentem mature sanus equum, ne
    Peccet ad extremum ridendus."

But many young fail also, because they endeavour to tell stories when
they have none to tell. And this comes from idleness rather than from
innate incapacity. The mind has not been sufficiently at work when
the tale has been commenced, nor is it kept sufficiently at work
as the tale is continued. I have never troubled myself much about
the construction of plots, and am not now insisting specially on
thoroughness in a branch of work in which I myself have not been very
thorough. I am not sure that the construction of a perfected plot has
been at any period within my power. But the novelist has other aims
than the elucidation of his plot. He desires to make his readers so
intimately acquainted with his characters that the creatures of his
brain should be to them speaking, moving, living, human creatures.
This he can never do unless he know those fictitious personages
himself, and he can never know them unless he can live with them in
the full reality of established intimacy. They must be with him as he
lies down to sleep, and as he wakes from his dreams. He must learn
to hate them and to love them. He must argue with them, quarrel with
them, forgive them, and even submit to them. He must know of them
whether they be cold-blooded or passionate, whether true or false,
and how far true, and how far false. The depth and the breadth,
and the narrowness and the shallowness of each should be clear to
him. And, as here, in our outer world, we know that men and women
change,--become worse or better as temptation or conscience may guide
them,--so should these creations of his change, and every change
should be noted by him. On the last day of each month recorded, every
person in his novel should be a month older than on the first. If the
would-be novelist have aptitudes that way, all this will come to him
without much struggling;--but if it do not come, I think he can only
make novels of wood.

It is so that I have lived with my characters, and thence has come
whatever success I have obtained. There is a gallery of them, and of
all in that gallery I may say that I know the tone of the voice, and
the colour of the hair, every flame of the eye, and the very clothes
they wear. Of each man I could assert whether he would have said
these or the other words; of every woman, whether she would then
have smiled or so have frowned. When I shall feel that this intimacy
ceases, then I shall know that the old horse should be turned out to
grass. That I shall feel it when I ought to feel it, I will by no
means say. I do not know that I am at all wiser than Gil Blas' canon;
but I do know that the power indicated is one without which the
teller of tales cannot tell them to any good effect.

The language in which the novelist is to put forth his story, the
colours with which he is to paint his picture, must of course be to
him matter of much consideration. Let him have all other possible
gifts,--imagination, observation, erudition, and industry,--they
will avail him nothing for his purpose, unless he can put forth
his work in pleasant words. If he be confused, tedious, harsh, or
unharmonious, readers will certainly reject him. The reading of
a volume of history or on science may represent itself as a duty;
and though the duty may by a bad style be made very disagreeable,
the conscientious reader will perhaps perform it. But the novelist
will be assisted by no such feeling. Any reader may reject
his work without the burden of a sin. It is the first necessity
of his position that he make himself pleasant. To do this,
much more is necessary than to write correctly. He may indeed
be pleasant without being correct,--as I think can be proved by
the works of more than one distinguished novelist. But he must
be intelligible,--intelligible without trouble; and he must be

Any writer who has read even a little will know what is meant by the
word intelligible. It is not sufficient that there be a meaning that
may be hammered out of the sentence, but that the language should be
so pellucid that the meaning should be rendered without an effort of
the reader;--and not only some proposition of meaning, but the very
sense, no more and no less, which the writer has intended to put into
his words. What Macaulay says should be remembered by all writers:
"How little the all-important art of making meaning pellucid is
studied now! Hardly any popular author except myself thinks of it."
The language used should be as ready and as efficient a conductor of
the mind of the writer to the mind of the reader as is the electric
spark which passes from one battery to another battery. In all
written matter the spark should carry everything; but in matters
recondite the recipient will search to see that he misses nothing,
and that he takes nothing away too much. The novelist cannot
expect that any such search will be made. A young writer, who will
acknowledge the truth of what I am saying, will often feel himself
tempted by the difficulties of language to tell himself that some one
little doubtful passage, some single collocation of words, which is
not quite what it ought to be, will not matter. I know well what a
stumbling-block such a passage may be. But he should leave none such
behind him as he goes on. The habit of writing clearly soon comes to
the writer who is a severe critic to himself.

As to that harmonious expression which I think is required, I shall
find it more difficult to express my meaning. It will be granted, I
think, by readers that a style may be rough, and yet both forcible
and intelligible; but it will seldom come to pass that a novel
written in a rough style will be popular,--and less often that a
novelist who habitually uses such a style will become so. The harmony
which is required must come from the practice of the ear. There are
few ears naturally so dull that they cannot, if time be allowed to
them, decide whether a sentence, when read, be or be not harmonious.
And the sense of such harmony grows on the ear, when the intelligence
has once informed itself as to what is, and what is not harmonious.
The boy, for instance, who learns with accuracy the prosody of a
Sapphic stanza, and has received through his intelligence a knowledge
of its parts, will soon tell by his ear whether a Sapphic stanza be
or be not correct. Take a girl, endowed with gifts of music, well
instructed in her art, with perfect ear, and read to her such a
stanza with two words transposed, as, for instance--

   Mercuri, nam te docilis magistro
   Movit Amphion _canendo lapides_,
   Tuque testudo resonare septem
      Callida nervis--

and she will find no halt in the rhythm. But a schoolboy with none
of her musical acquirements or capacities, who has, however, become
familiar with the metres of the poet, will at once discover the
fault. And so will the writer become familiar with what is harmonious
in prose. But in order that familiarity may serve him in his
business, he must so train his ear that he shall be able to weigh the
rhythm of every word as it falls from his pen. This, when it has been
done for a time, even for a short time, will become so habitual to
him that he will have appreciated the metrical duration of every
syllable before it shall have dared to show itself upon paper. The
art of the orator is the same. He knows beforehand how each sound
which he is about to utter will affect the force of his climax. If a
writer will do so he will charm his readers, though his readers will
probably not know how they have been charmed.

In writing a novel the author soon becomes aware that a burden of
many pages is before him. Circumstances require that he should cover
a certain and generally not a very confined space. Short novels are
not popular with readers generally. Critics often complain of the
ordinary length of novels,--of the three volumes to which they are
subjected; but few novels which have attained great success in
England have been told in fewer pages. The novel-writer who sticks to
novel-writing as his profession will certainly find that this burden
of length is incumbent on him. How shall he carry his burden to the
end? How shall he cover his space? Many great artists have by their
practice opposed the doctrine which I now propose to preach;--but
they have succeeded I think in spite of their fault and by dint
of their greatness. There should be no episodes in a novel. Every
sentence, every word, through all those pages, should tend to the
telling of the story. Such episodes distract the attention of the
reader, and always do so disagreeably. Who has not felt this to be
the case even with _The Curious Impertinent_ and with the _History of
the Man of the Hill_. And if it be so with Cervantes and Fielding,
who can hope to succeed? Though the novel which you have to write
must be long, let it be all one. And this exclusion of episodes
should be carried down into the smallest details. Every sentence and
every word used should tend to the telling of the story. "But," the
young novelist will say, "with so many pages before me to be filled,
how shall I succeed if I thus confine myself;--how am I to know
beforehand what space this story of mine will require? There must be
the three volumes, or the certain number of magazine pages which I
have contracted to supply. If I may not be discursive should occasion
require, how shall I complete my task? The painter suits the size of
his canvas to his subject, and must I in my art stretch my subject to
my canvas?" This undoubtedly must be done by the novelist; and if he
will learn his business, may be done without injury to his effect. He
may not paint different pictures on the same canvas, which he will do
if he allow himself to wander away to matters outside his own story;
but by studying proportion in his work, he may teach himself so to
tell his story that it shall naturally fall into the required length.
Though his story should be all one, yet it may have many parts.
Though the plot itself may require but few characters, it may be
so enlarged as to find its full development in many. There may be
subsidiary plots, which shall all tend to the elucidation of the main
story, and which will take their places as part of one and the same
work,--as there may be many figures on a canvas which shall not to
the spectator seem to form themselves into separate pictures.

There is no portion of a novelist's work in which this fault of
episodes is so common as in the dialogue. It is so easy to make any
two persons talk on any casual subject with which the writer presumes
himself to be conversant! Literature, philosophy, politics, or sport,
may thus be handled in a loosely discursive style; and the writer,
while indulging himself and filling his pages, is apt to think that
he is pleasing his reader. I think he can make no greater mistake.
The dialogue is generally the most agreeable part of a novel; but it
is only so as long as it tends in some way to the telling of the main
story. It need not seem to be confined to that, but it should always
have a tendency in that direction. The unconscious critical acumen of
a reader is both just and severe. When a long dialogue on extraneous
matter reaches his mind, he at once feels that he is being cheated
into taking something which he did not bargain to accept when he
took up that novel. He does not at that moment require politics or
philosophy, but he wants his story. He will not perhaps be able to
say in so many words that at some certain point the dialogue has
deviated from the story; but when it does so he will feel it, and the
feeling will be unpleasant. Let the intending novel-writer, if he
doubt this, read one of Bulwer's novels,--in which there is very much
to charm,--and then ask himself whether he has not been offended by
devious conversations.

And the dialogue, on which the modern novelist in consulting the
taste of his probable readers must depend most, has to be constrained
also by other rules. The writer may tell much of his story in
conversations, but he may only do so by putting such words into the
mouths of his personages as persons so situated would probably use.
He is not allowed for the sake of his tale to make his characters
give utterance to long speeches, such as are not customarily heard
from men and women. The ordinary talk of ordinary people is carried
on in short sharp expressive sentences, which very frequently are
never completed,--the language of which even among educated people is
often incorrect. The novel-writer in constructing his dialogue must
so steer between absolute accuracy of language--which would give to
his conversation an air of pedantry, and the slovenly inaccuracy
of ordinary talkers, which if closely followed would offend by an
appearance of grimace--as to produce upon the ear of his readers a
sense of reality. If he be quite real he will seem to attempt to be
funny. If he be quite correct he will seem to be unreal. And above
all, let the speeches be short. No character should utter much above
a dozen words at a breath,--unless the writer can justify to himself
a longer flood of speech by the speciality of the occasion.

In all this human nature must be the novel-writer's guide. No doubt
effective novels have been written in which human nature has been set
at defiance. I might name _Caleb Williams_ as one and _Adam Blair_
as another. But the exceptions are not more than enough to prove the
rule. But in following human nature he must remember that he does so
with a pen in his hand, and that the reader who will appreciate human
nature will also demand artistic ability and literary aptitude.

The young novelist will probably ask, or more probably bethink
himself how he is to acquire that knowledge of human nature which
will tell him with accuracy what men and women would say in this or
that position. He must acquire it as the compositor, who is to print
his words, has learned the art of distributing his type--by constant
and intelligent practice. Unless it be given to him to listen and to
observe,--so to carry away, as it were, the manners of people in his
memory, as to be able to say to himself with assurance that these
words might have been said in a given position, and that those other
words could not have been said,--I do not think that in these days he
can succeed as a novelist.

And then let him beware of creating tedium! Who has not felt the
charm of a spoken story up to a certain point, and then suddenly
become aware that it has become too long and is the reverse of
charming. It is not only that the entire book may have this fault,
but that this fault may occur in chapters, in passages, in pages, in
paragraphs. I know no guard against this so likely to be effective
as the feeling of the writer himself. When once the sense that the
thing is becoming long has grown upon him, he may be sure that it
will grow upon his readers. I see the smile of some who will declare
to themselves that the words of a writer will never be tedious to
himself. Of the writer of whom this may be truly said, it may be said
with equal truth that he will always be tedious to his readers.



In this chapter I will venture to name a few successful novelists of
my own time, with whose works I am acquainted; and will endeavour to
point whence their success has come, and why they have failed when
there has been failure.

I do not hesitate to name Thackeray the first. His knowledge of human
nature was supreme, and his characters stand out as human beings,
with a force and a truth which has not, I think, been within the
reach of any other English novelist in any period. I know no
character in fiction, unless it be Don Quixote, with whom the reader
becomes so intimately acquainted as with Colonel Newcombe. How great
a thing it is to be a gentleman at all parts! How we admire the man
of whom so much may be said with truth! Is there any one of whom
we feel more sure in this respect than of Colonel Newcombe? It is
not because Colonel Newcombe is a perfect gentleman that we think
Thackeray's work to have been so excellent, but because he has had
the power to describe him as such, and to force us to love him, a
weak and silly old man, on account of this grace of character.

It is evident from all Thackeray's best work that he lived with the
characters he was creating. He had always a story to tell until quite
late in life; and he shows us that this was so, not by the interest
which he had in his own plots,--for I doubt whether his plots did
occupy much of his mind,--but by convincing us that his characters
were alive to himself. With Becky Sharpe, with Lady Castlewood and
her daughter, and with Esmond, with Warrington, Pendennis, and
the Major, with Colonel Newcombe, and with Barry Lyndon, he must
have lived in perpetual intercourse. Therefore he has made these
personages real to us.

Among all our novelists his style is the purest, as to my ear it is
also the most harmonious. Sometimes it is disfigured by a slight
touch of affectation, by little conceits which smell of the oil;--but
the language is always lucid. The reader, without labour, knows what
he means, and knows all that he means. As well as I can remember, he
deals with no episodes. I think that any critic, examining his work
minutely, would find that every scene, and every part of every scene,
adds something to the clearness with which the story is told. Among
all his stories there is not one which does not leave on the mind
a feeling of distress that women should ever be immodest or men
dishonest,--and of joy that women should be so devoted and men
so honest. How we hate the idle selfishness of Pendennis, the
worldliness of Beatrix, the craft of Becky Sharpe!--how we love the
honesty of Colonel Newcombe, the nobility of Esmond, and the devoted
affection of Mrs. Pendennis! The hatred of evil and love of good can
hardly have come upon so many readers without doing much good.

Late in Thackeray's life,--he never was an old man, but towards the
end of his career,--he failed in his power of charming, because he
allowed his mind to become idle. In the plots which he conceived,
and in the language which he used, I do not know that there is any
perceptible change; but in _The Virginians_ and in _Philip_ the
reader is introduced to no character with which he makes a close
and undying acquaintance. And this, I have no doubt, is so because
Thackeray himself had no such intimacy. His mind had come to be weary
of that fictitious life which is always demanding the labour of new
creation, and he troubled himself with his two Virginians and his
Philip only when he was seated at his desk.

At the present moment George Eliot is the first of English novelists,
and I am disposed to place her second of those of my time. She is
best known to the literary world as a writer of prose fiction, and
not improbably whatever of permanent fame she may acquire will come
from her novels. But the nature of her intellect is very far removed
indeed from that which is common to the tellers of stories. Her
imagination is no doubt strong, but it acts in analysing rather than
in creating. Everything that comes before her is pulled to pieces so
that the inside of it shall be seen, and be seen if possible by her
readers as clearly as by herself. This searching analysis is carried
so far that, in studying her latter writings, one feels oneself to
be in company with some philosopher rather than with a novelist. I
doubt whether any young person can read with pleasure either _Felix
Holt_, _Middlemarch_, or _Daniel Deronda_. I know that they are very
difficult to many that are not young.

Her personifications of character have been singularly terse and
graphic, and from them has come her great hold on the public,--though
by no means the greatest effect which she has produced. The lessons
which she teaches remain, though it is not for the sake of the
lessons that her pages are read. Seth Bede, Adam Bede, Maggie and Tom
Tulliver, old Silas Marner, and, much above all, Tito, in _Romola_,
are characters which, when once known, can never be forgotten. I
cannot say quite so much for any of those in her later works, because
in them the philosopher so greatly overtops the portrait-painter,
that, in the dissection of the mind, the outward signs seem to have
been forgotten. In her, as yet, there is no symptom whatever of that
weariness of mind which, when felt by the reader, induces him to
declare that the author has written himself out. It is not from
decadence that we do not have another Mrs. Poyser, but because the
author soars to things which seem to her to be higher than Mrs.

It is, I think, the defect of George Eliot that she struggles too
hard to do work that shall be excellent. She lacks ease. Latterly the
signs of this have been conspicuous in her style, which has always
been and is singularly correct, but which has become occasionally
obscure from her too great desire to be pungent. It is impossible
not to feel the struggle, and that feeling begets a flavour of
affectation. In _Daniel Deronda_, of which at this moment only a
portion has been published, there are sentences which I have found
myself compelled to read three times before I have been able to take
home to myself all that the writer has intended. Perhaps I may be
permitted here to say, that this gifted woman was among my dearest
and most intimate friends. As I am speaking here of novelists, I will
not attempt to speak of George Eliot's merit as a poet.

There can be no doubt that the most popular novelist of my
time--probably the most popular English novelist of any time--has
been Charles Dickens. He has now been dead nearly six years, and the
sale of his books goes on as it did during his life. The certainty
with which his novels are found in every house--the familiarity of
his name in all English-speaking countries--the popularity of such
characters as Mrs. Gamp, Micawber, and Pecksniff, and many others
whose names have entered into the English language and become
well-known words--the grief of the country at his death, and the
honours paid to him at his funeral,--all testify to his popularity.
Since the last book he wrote himself, I doubt whether any book
has been so popular as his biography by John Forster. There is
no withstanding such testimony as this. Such evidence of popular
appreciation should go for very much, almost for everything, in
criticism on the work of a novelist. The primary object of a novelist
is to please; and this man's novels have been found more pleasant
than those of any other writer. It might of course be objected to
this, that though the books have pleased they have been injurious,
that their tendency has been immoral and their teaching vicious; but
it is almost needless to say that no such charge has ever been made
against Dickens. His teaching has ever been good. From all which,
there arises to the critic a question whether, with such evidence
against him as to the excellence of this writer, he should not
subordinate his own opinion to the collected opinion of the world of
readers. To me it almost seems that I must be wrong to place Dickens
after Thackeray and George Eliot, knowing as I do that so great a
majority put him above those authors.

My own peculiar idiosyncrasy in the matter forbids me to do so. I
do acknowledge that Mrs. Gamp, Micawber, Pecksniff, and others have
become household words in every house, as though they were human
beings; but to my judgment they are not human beings, nor are any of
the characters human which Dickens has portrayed. It has been the
peculiarity and the marvel of this man's power, that he has invested
his puppets with a charm that has enabled him to dispense with human
nature. There is a drollery about them, in my estimation, very much
below the humour of Thackeray, but which has reached the intellect of
all; while Thackeray's humour has escaped the intellect of many. Nor
is the pathos of Dickens human. It is stagey and melodramatic. But
it is so expressed that it touches every heart a little. There is
no real life in Smike. His misery, his idiotcy, his devotion for
Nicholas, his love for Kate, are all overdone and incompatible with
each other. But still the reader sheds a tear. Every reader can find
a tear for Smike. Dickens's novels are like Boucicault's plays. He
has known how to draw his lines broadly, so that all should see the

He, too, in his best days, always lived with his characters;--and he,
too, as he gradually ceased to have the power of doing so, ceased to
charm. Though they are not human beings, we all remember Mrs. Gamp
and Pickwick. The Boffins and Veneerings do not, I think, dwell in
the minds of so many.

Of Dickens's style it is impossible to speak in praise. It is jerky,
ungrammatical, and created by himself in defiance of rules--almost
as completely as that created by Carlyle. To readers who have taught
themselves to regard language, it must therefore be unpleasant. But
the critic is driven to feel the weakness of his criticism, when
he acknowledges to himself--as he is compelled in all honesty to
do--that with the language, such as it is, the writer has satisfied
the great mass of the readers of his country. Both these great
writers have satisfied the readers of their own pages; but both
have done infinite harm by creating a school of imitators. No young
novelist should ever dare to imitate the style of Dickens. If such a
one wants a model for his language, let him take Thackeray.

Bulwer, or Lord Lytton,--but I think that he is still better known
by his earlier name,--was a man of very great parts. Better educated
than either of those I have named before him, he was always able to
use his erudition, and he thus produced novels from which very much
not only may be but must be learned by his readers. He thoroughly
understood the political status of his own country, a subject
on which, I think, Dickens was marvellously ignorant, and which
Thackeray had never studied. He had read extensively, and was always
apt to give his readers the benefit of what he knew. The result has
been that very much more than amusement may be obtained from Bulwer's
novels. There is also a brightness about them--the result rather
of thought than of imagination, of study and of care, than of mere
intellect--which has made many of them excellent in their way. It is
perhaps improper to class all his novels together, as he wrote in
varied manners, making in his earlier works, such as _Pelham_ and
_Ernest Maltravers_, pictures of a fictitious life, and afterwards
pictures of life as he believed it to be, as in _My Novel_ and _The
Caxtons_. But from all of them there comes the same flavour of an
effort to produce effect. The effects are produced, but it would have
been better if the flavour had not been there.

I cannot say of Bulwer as I have of the other novelists whom I have
named that he lived with his characters. He lived with his work, with
the doctrines which at the time he wished to preach, thinking always
of the effects which he wished to produce; but I do not think he ever
knew his own personages,--and therefore neither do we know them. Even
Pelham and Eugene Aram are not human beings to us, as are Pickwick,
and Colonel Newcombe, and Mrs. Poyser.

In his plots Bulwer has generally been simple, facile, and
successful. The reader never feels with him, as he does with Wilkie
Collins, that it is all plot, or, as with George Eliot, that there
is no plot. The story comes naturally without calling for too much
attention, and is thus proof of the completeness of the man's
intellect. His language is clear, good, intelligible English, but
it is defaced by mannerism. In all that he did, affectation was his

How shall I speak of my dear old friend Charles Lever, and his
rattling, jolly, joyous, swearing Irishmen. Surely never did a sense
of vitality come so constantly from a man's pen, nor from man's
voice, as from his! I knew him well for many years, and whether in
sickness or in health, I have never come across him without finding
him to be running over with wit and fun. Of all the men I have
encountered, he was the surest fund of drollery. I have known many
witty men, many who could say good things, many who would sometimes
be ready to say them when wanted, though they would sometimes
fail;--but he never failed. Rouse him in the middle of the night, and
wit would come from him before he was half awake. And yet he never
monopolised the talk, was never a bore. He would take no more than
his own share of the words spoken, and would yet seem to brighten all
that was said during the night. His earlier novels--the later I have
not read--are just like his conversation. The fun never flags, and
to me, when I read them, they were never tedious. As to character
he can hardly be said to have produced it. Corney Delaney, the old
man-servant, may perhaps be named as an exception.

Lever's novels will not live long,--even if they may be said to be
alive now,--because it is so. What was his manner of working I do not
know, but I should think it must have been very quick, and that he
never troubled himself on the subject, except when he was seated with
a pen in his hand.

Charlotte Brontë was surely a marvellous woman. If it could be right
to judge the work of a novelist from one small portion of one novel,
and to say of an author that he is to be accounted as strong as he
shows himself to be in his strongest morsel of work, I should be
inclined to put Miss Brontë very high indeed. I know no interest
more thrilling than that which she has been able to throw into the
characters of Rochester and the governess, in the second volume of
_Jane Eyre_. She lived with those characters, and felt every fibre of
the heart, the longings of the one and the sufferings of the other.
And therefore, though the end of the book is weak, and the beginning
not very good, I venture to predict that _Jane Eyre_ will be read
among English novels when many whose names are now better known shall
have been forgotten. _Jane Eyre_, and _Esmond_, and _Adam Bede_ will
be in the hands of our grandchildren, when _Pickwick_, and _Pelham_,
and _Harry Lorrequer_ are forgotten; because the men and women
depicted are human in their aspirations, human in their sympathies,
and human in their actions.

In _Villette_, too, and in _Shirley_, there is to be found human
life as natural and as real, though in circumstances not so full of
interest as those told in _Jane Eyre_. The character of Paul in the
former of the two is a wonderful study. She must herself have been in
love with some Paul when she wrote the book, and have been determined
to prove to herself that she was capable of loving one whose exterior
circumstances were mean and in every way unprepossessing.

There is no writer of the present day who has so much puzzled me by
his eccentricities, impracticabilities, and capabilities as Charles
Reade. I look upon him as endowed almost with genius, but as one who
has not been gifted by nature with ordinary powers of reasoning. He
can see what is grandly noble and admire it with all his heart. He
can see, too, what is foully vicious and hate it with equal ardour.
But in the common affairs of life he cannot see what is right or
wrong; and as he is altogether unwilling to be guided by the opinion
of others, he is constantly making mistakes in his literary career,
and subjecting himself to reproach which he hardly deserves. He means
to be honest. He means to be especially honest,--more honest than
other people. He has written a book called _The Eighth Commandment_
on behalf of honesty in literary transactions,--a wonderful work,
which has I believe been read by a very few. I never saw a copy
except that in my own library, or heard of any one who knew the
book. Nevertheless it is a volume that must have taken very great
labour, and have been written,--as indeed he declares that it was
written,--without the hope of pecuniary reward. He makes an appeal
to the British Parliament and British people on behalf of literary
honesty, declaring that should he fail--"I shall have to go on
blushing for the people I was born among." And yet of all the writers
of my day he has seemed to me to understand literary honesty the
least. On one occasion, as he tells us in this book, he bought for a
certain sum from a French author the right of using a plot taken from
a play,--which he probably might have used without such purchase, and
also without infringing any international copyright act. The French
author not unnaturally praises him for the transaction, telling
him that he is "un vrai gentleman." The plot was used by Reade in
a novel; and a critic discovering the adaptation, made known his
discovery to the public. Whereupon the novelist became angry, called
his critic a pseudonymuncle, and defended himself by stating the fact
of his own purchase. In all this he seems to me to ignore what we
all mean when we talk of literary plagiarism and literary honesty.
The sin of which the author is accused is not that of taking another
man's property, but of passing off as his own creation that which he
does not himself create. When an author puts his name to a book he
claims to have written all that there is therein, unless he makes
direct signification to the contrary. Some years subsequently there
arose another similar question, in which Mr. Reade's opinion was
declared even more plainly, and certainly very much more publicly.
In a tale which he wrote he inserted a dialogue which he took from
Swift, and took without any acknowledgment. As might have been
expected, one of the critics of the day fell foul of him for this
barefaced plagiarism. The author, however, defended himself, with
much abuse of the critic, by asserting, that whereas Swift had found
the jewel he had supplied the setting;--an argument in which there
was some little wit, and would have been much excellent truth, had he
given the words as belonging to Swift and not to himself.

The novels of a man possessed of so singular a mind must themselves
be very strange,--and they are strange. It has generally been his
object to write down some abuse with which he has been particularly
struck,--the harshness, for instance, with which paupers or lunatics
are treated, or the wickedness of certain classes,--and he always,
I think, leaves upon his readers an idea of great earnestness of
purpose. But he has always left at the same time on my mind so strong
a conviction that he has not really understood his subject, that I
have ever found myself taking the part of those whom he has accused.
So good a heart, and so wrong a head, surely no novelist ever before
had combined! In story-telling he has occasionally been almost great.
Among his novels I would especially recommend _The Cloister and the
Hearth_. I do not know that in this work, or in any, that he has left
a character that will remain; but he has written some of his scenes
so brightly that to read them would always be a pleasure.

Of Wilkie Collins it is impossible for a true critic not to speak
with admiration, because he has excelled all his contemporaries in a
certain most difficult branch of his art; but as it is a branch which
I have not myself at all cultivated, it is not unnatural that his
work should be very much lost upon me individually. When I sit down
to write a novel I do not at all know, and I do not very much care,
how it is to end. Wilkie Collins seems so to construct his that he
not only, before writing, plans everything on, down to the minutest
detail, from the beginning to the end; but then plots it all back
again, to see that there is no piece of necessary dove-tailing which
does not dove-tail with absolute accuracy. The construction is most
minute and most wonderful. But I can never lose the taste of the
construction. The author seems always to be warning me to remember
that something happened at exactly half-past two o'clock on Tuesday
morning; or that a woman disappeared from the road just fifteen yards
beyond the fourth mile-stone. One is constrained by mysteries and
hemmed in by difficulties, knowing, however, that the mysteries will
be made clear, and the difficulties overcome at the end of the third
volume. Such work gives me no pleasure. I am, however, quite prepared
to acknowledge that the want of pleasure comes from fault of my

There are two ladies of whom I would fain say a word, though I feel
that I am making my list too long, in order that I may declare
how much I have admired their work. They are Annie Thackeray and
Rhoda Broughton. I have known them both, and have loved the former
almost as though she belonged to me. No two writers were ever more
dissimilar,--except in this that they are both feminine. Miss
Thackeray's characters are sweet, charming, and quite true to human
nature. In her writings she is always endeavouring to prove that good
produces good, and evil evil. There is not a line of which she need
be ashamed,--not a sentiment of which she should not be proud. But
she writes like a lazy writer who dislikes her work, and who allows
her own want of energy to show itself in her pages.

Miss Broughton, on the other hand, is full of energy,--though she
too, I think, can become tired over her work. She, however, does take
the trouble to make her personages stand upright on the ground. And
she has the gift of making them speak as men and women do speak. "You
beast!" said Nancy, sitting on the wall, to the man who was to be her
husband,--thinking that she was speaking to her brother. Now Nancy,
whether right or wrong, was just the girl who would, as circumstances
then were, have called her brother a beast. There is nothing wooden
about any of Miss Broughton's novels; and in these days so many
novels are wooden! But they are not sweet-savoured as are those by
Miss Thackeray, and are, therefore, less true to nature. In Miss
Broughton's determination not to be mawkish and missish, she has made
her ladies do and say things which ladies would not do and say. They
throw themselves at men's heads, and when they are not accepted only
think how they may throw themselves again. Miss Broughton is still
so young that I hope she may live to overcome her fault in this

There is one other name, without which the list of the best known
English novelists of my own time would certainly be incomplete,
and that is the name of the present Prime Minister of England. Mr.
Disraeli has written so many novels, and has been so popular as a
novelist that, whether for good or for ill, I feel myself compelled
to speak of him. He began his career as an author early in life,
publishing _Vivian Grey_ when he was twenty-three years old. He was
very young for such work, though hardly young enough to justify the
excuse that he makes in his own preface, that it is a book written by
a boy. Dickens was, I think, younger when he wrote his _Sketches by
Boz_, and as young when he was writing the _Pickwick Papers_. It was
hardly longer ago than the other day when Mr. Disraeli brought out
_Lothair_, and between the two there were eight or ten others. To
me they have all had the same flavour of paint and unreality. In
whatever he has written he has affected something which has been
intended to strike his readers as uncommon and therefore grand.
Because he has been bright and a man of genius, he has carried his
object as regards the young. He has struck them with astonishment and
aroused in their imagination ideas of a world more glorious, more
rich, more witty, more enterprising, than their own. But the glory
has been the glory of pasteboard, and the wealth has been a wealth of
tinsel. The wit has been the wit of hairdressers, and the enterprise
has been the enterprise of mountebanks. An audacious conjurer has
generally been his hero,--some youth who, by wonderful cleverness,
can obtain success by every intrigue that comes to his hand. Through
it all there is a feeling of stage properties, a smell of hair-oil,
an aspect of buhl, a remembrance of tailors, and that pricking of the
conscience which must be the general accompaniment of paste diamonds.
I can understand that Mr. Disraeli should by his novels have
instigated many a young man and many a young woman on their way in
life, but I cannot understand that he should have instigated any
one to good. Vivian Grey has had probably as many followers as Jack
Sheppard, and has led his followers in the same direction.

_Lothair_, which is as yet Mr. Disraeli's last work, and, I think,
undoubtedly his worst, has been defended on a plea somewhat similar
to that by which he has defended _Vivian Grey_. As that was written
when he was too young, so was the other when he was too old,--too
old for work of that nature, though not too old to be Prime Minister.
If his mind were so occupied with greater things as to allow him to
write such a work, yet his judgment should have sufficed to induce
him to destroy it when written. Here that flavour of hair-oil, that
flavour of false jewels, that remembrance of tailors, comes out
stronger than in all the others. Lothair is falser even than Vivian
Grey, and Lady Corisande, the daughter of the Duchess, more inane and
unwomanlike than Venetia or Henrietta Temple. It is the very bathos
of story-telling. I have often lamented, and have as often excused to
myself, that lack of public judgment which enables readers to put up
with bad work because it comes from good or from lofty hands. I never
felt the feeling so strongly, or was so little able to excuse it,
as when a portion of the reading public received _Lothair_ with



Literary criticism in the present day has become a profession,--but
it has ceased to be an art. Its object is no longer that of proving
that certain literary work is good and other literary work is bad,
in accordance with rules which the critic is able to define. English
criticism at present rarely even pretends to go so far as this. It
attempts, in the first place, to tell the public whether a book be
or be not worth public attention; and, in the second place, so to
describe the purport of the work as to enable those who have not time
or inclination for reading it to feel that by a short cut they can
become acquainted with its contents. Both these objects, if fairly
well carried out, are salutary. Though the critic may not be a
profound judge himself; though not unfrequently he be a young man
making his first literary attempts, with tastes and judgment still
unfixed, yet he probably has a conscience in the matter, and
would not have been selected for that work had he not shown some
aptitude for it. Though he may be not the best possible guide to
the undiscerning, he will be better than no guide at all. Real
substantial criticism must, from its nature, be costly, and that
which the public wants should at any rate be cheap. Advice is given
to many thousands, which, though it may not be the best advice
possible, is better than no advice at all. Then that description
of the work criticised, that compressing of the much into very
little,--which is the work of many modern critics or reviewers,--does
enable many to know something of what is being said, who without it
would know nothing.

I do not think it is incumbent on me at present to name periodicals
in which this work is well done, and to make complaints of others
by which it is scamped. I should give offence, and might probably
be unjust. But I think I may certainly say that as some of these
periodicals are certainly entitled to great praise for the manner in
which the work is done generally, so are others open to very severe
censure,--and that the praise and that the censure are chiefly due
on behalf of one virtue and its opposite vice. It is not critical
ability that we have a right to demand, or its absence that we are
bound to deplore. Critical ability for the price we pay is not
attainable. It is a faculty not peculiar to Englishmen, and when
displayed is very frequently not appreciated. But that critics should
be honest we have a right to demand, and critical dishonesty we are
bound to expose. If the writer will tell us what he thinks, though
his thoughts be absolutely vague and useless, we can forgive him;
but when he tells us what he does not think, actuated either by
friendship or by animosity, then there should be no pardon for him.
This is the sin in modern English criticism of which there is most
reason to complain.

It is a lamentable fact that men and women lend themselves to this
practice who are neither vindictive nor ordinarily dishonest. It has
become "the custom of the trade," under the veil of which excuse so
many tradesmen justify their malpractices! When a struggling author
learns that so much has been done for A by the _Barsetshire Gazette_,
so much for B by the _Dillsborough Herald_, and, again, so much for C
by that powerful metropolitan organ the _Evening Pulpit_, and is told
also that A and B and C have been favoured through personal interest,
he also goes to work among the editors, or the editors' wives,--or
perhaps, if he cannot reach their wives, with their wives' first
or second cousins. When once the feeling has come upon an editor
or a critic that he may allow himself to be influenced by other
considerations than the duty he owes to the public, all sense of
critical or of editorial honesty falls from him at once. _Facilis
descensus Averni_. In a very short time that editorial honesty
becomes ridiculous to himself. It is for other purpose that he wields
the power; and when he is told what is his duty, and what should
be his conduct, the preacher of such doctrine seems to him to be
quixotic. "Where have you lived, my friend, for the last twenty
years," he says in spirit, if not in word, "that you come out now
with such stuff as old-fashioned as this?" And thus dishonesty begets
dishonesty, till dishonesty seems to be beautiful. How nice to
be good-natured! How glorious to assist struggling young authors,
especially if the young author be also a pretty woman! How gracious
to oblige a friend! Then the motive, though still pleasing, departs
further from the border of what is good. In what way can the critic
better repay the hospitality of his wealthy literary friend than
by good-natured criticism,--or more certainly ensure for himself a
continuation of hospitable favours?

Some years since a critic of the day, a gentleman well known then
in literary circles, showed me the manuscript of a book recently
published,--the work of a popular author. It was handsomely bound,
and was a valuable and desirable possession. It had just been given
to him by the author as an acknowledgment for a laudatory review in
one of the leading journals of the day. As I was expressly asked
whether I did not regard such a token as a sign of grace both in the
giver and in the receiver, I said that I thought it should neither
have been given nor have been taken. My theory was repudiated with
scorn, and I was told that I was strait-laced, visionary, and
impracticable! In all that the damage did not lie in the fact of
that one present, but in the feeling on the part of the critic that
his office was not debased by the acceptance of presents from those
whom he criticised. This man was a professional critic, bound by his
contract with certain employers to review such books as were sent
to him. How could he, when he had received a valuable present for
praising one book, censure another by the same author?

While I write this I well know that what I say, if it be ever noticed
at all, will be taken as a straining at gnats, as a pretence of
honesty, or at any rate as an exaggeration of scruples. I have
said the same thing before, and have been ridiculed for saying it.
But none the less am I sure that English literature generally is
suffering much under this evil. All those who are struggling for
success have forced upon them the idea that their strongest efforts
should be made in touting for praise. Those who are not familiar with
the lives of authors will hardly believe how low will be the forms
which their struggles will take:--how little presents will be sent to
men who write little articles; how much flattery may be expended even
on the keeper of a circulating library; with what profuse and distant
genuflexions approaches are made to the outside railing of the temple
which contains within it the great thunderer of some metropolitan
periodical publication! The evil here is not only that done to the
public when interested counsel is given to them, but extends to the
debasement of those who have at any rate considered themselves fit to
provide literature for the public.

I am satisfied that the remedy for this evil must lie in the
conscience and deportment of authors themselves. If once the feeling
could be produced that it is disgraceful for an author to ask for
praise,--and demands for praise are, I think, disgraceful in every
walk of life,--the practice would gradually fall into the hands only
of the lowest, and that which is done only by the lowest soon becomes
despicable even to them. The sin, when perpetuated with unflagging
labour, brings with it at best very poor reward. That work of running
after critics, editors, publishers, the keepers of circulating
libraries, and their clerks, is very hard, and must be very
disagreeable. He who does it must feel himself to be dishonoured,--or
she. It may perhaps help to sell an edition, but can never make an
author successful.

I think it may be laid down as a golden rule in literature that
there should be no intercourse at all between an author and his
critic. The critic, as critic, should not know his author, nor the
author, as author, his critic. As censure should beget no anger,
so should praise beget no gratitude. The young author should feel
that criticisms fall upon him as dew or hail from heaven,--which, as
coming from heaven, man accepts as fate. Praise let the author try to
obtain by wholesome effort; censure let him avoid, if possible, by
care and industry. But when they come, let him take them as coming
from some source which he cannot influence, and with which he should
not meddle.

I know no more disagreeable trouble into which an author may plunge
himself than of a quarrel with his critics, or any more useless
labour than that of answering them. It is wise to presume, at any
rate, that the reviewer has simply done his duty, and has spoken of
the book according to the dictates of his conscience. Nothing can be
gained by combating the reviewer's opinion. If the book which he has
disparaged be good, his judgment will be condemned by the praise
of others; if bad, his judgment will be confirmed by others. Or if,
unfortunately, the criticism of the day be in so evil a condition
generally that such ultimate truth cannot be expected, the author may
be sure that his efforts made on behalf of his own book will not set
matters right. If injustice be done him, let him bear it. To do so is
consonant with the dignity of the position which he ought to assume.
To shriek, and scream, and sputter, to threaten actions, and to swear
about the town that he has been belied and defamed in that he has
been accused of bad grammar or a false metaphor, of a dull chapter,
or even of a borrowed heroine, will leave on the minds of the public
nothing but a sense of irritated impotence.

If, indeed, there should spring from an author's work any assertion
by a critic injurious to the author's honour, if the author be
accused of falsehood or of personal motives which are discreditable
to him, then, indeed, he may be bound to answer the charge. It is
hoped, however, that he may be able to do so with clean hands, or he
will so stir the mud in the pool as to come forth dirtier than he
went into it.

I have lived much among men by whom the English criticism of the day
has been vehemently abused. I have heard it said that to the public
it is a false guide, and that to authors it is never a trustworthy
Mentor. I do not concur in this wholesale censure. There is, of
course, criticism and criticism. There are at this moment one or
two periodicals to which both public and authors may safely look
for guidance, though there are many others from which no spark of
literary advantage may be obtained. But it is well that both public
and authors should know what is the advantage which they have a right
to expect. There have been critics,--and there probably will be
again, though the circumstances of English literature do not tend to
produce them,--with power sufficient to entitle them to speak with
authority. These great men have declared, _tanquam ex cathedra_, that
such a book has been so far good and so far bad, or that it has been
altogether good or altogether bad;--and the world has believed them.
When making such assertions they have given their reasons, explained
their causes, and have carried conviction. Very great reputations
have been achieved by such critics, but not without infinite study
and the labour of many years.

Such are not the critics of the day, of whom we are now speaking. In
the literary world as it lives at present some writer is selected
for the place of critic to a newspaper, generally some young writer,
who for so many shillings a column shall review whatever book is sent
to him and express an opinion,--reading the book through for the
purpose, if the amount of honorarium as measured with the amount of
labour will enable him to do so. A labourer must measure his work by
his pay or he cannot live. From criticism such as this must for the
most part be, the general reader has no right to expect philosophical
analysis, or literary judgment on which confidence may be placed. But
he probably may believe that the books praised will be better than
the books censured, and that those which are praised by periodicals
which never censure are better worth his attention than those which
are not noticed. And readers will also find that by devoting an
hour or two on Saturday to the criticisms of the week, they will
enable themselves to have an opinion about the books of the day. The
knowledge so acquired will not be great, nor will that little be
lasting; but it adds something to the pleasure of life to be able to
talk on subjects of which others are speaking; and the man who has
sedulously gone through the literary notices in the _Spectator_
and the _Saturday_ may perhaps be justified in thinking himself as
well able to talk about the new book as his friend who has brought
that new book on the _tapis_, and who, not improbably, obtained his
information from the same source.

As an author, I have paid careful attention to the reviews which have
been written on my own work; and I think that now I well know where
I may look for a little instruction, where I may expect only greasy
adulation, where I shall be cut up into mince-meat for the delight
of those who love sharp invective, and where I shall find an equal
mixture of praise and censure so adjusted, without much judgment, as
to exhibit the impartiality of the newspaper and its staff. Among it
all there is much chaff, which I have learned how to throw to the
winds, with equal disregard whether it praises or blames;--but I have
also found some corn, on which I have fed and nourished myself, and
for which I have been thankful.



I will now go back to the year 1867, in which I was still living at
Waltham Cross. I had some time since bought the house there which
I had at first hired, and added rooms to it, and made it for our
purposes very comfortable. It was, however, a rickety old place,
requiring much repair, and occasionally not as weather-tight as it
should be. We had a domain there sufficient for the cows, and for
the making of our butter and hay. For strawberries, asparagus, green
peas, out-of-door peaches, for roses especially, and such everyday
luxuries, no place was ever more excellent. It was only twelve miles
from London, and admitted therefore of frequent intercourse with
the metropolis. It was also near enough to the Roothing country for
hunting purposes. No doubt the Shoreditch Station, by which it had to
be reached, had its drawbacks. My average distance also to the Essex
meets was twenty miles. But the place combined as much or more than I
had a right to expect. It was within my own postal district, and had,
upon the whole, been well chosen.

The work I did during the twelve years that I remained there, from
1859 to 1871, was certainly very great. I feel confident that in
amount no other writer contributed so much during that time to
English literature. Over and above my novels, I wrote political
articles, critical, social, and sporting articles, for periodicals,
without number. I did the work of a surveyor of the General Post
Office, and so did it as to give the authorities of the department no
slightest pretext for fault-finding. I hunted always at least twice a
week. I was frequent in the whist-room at the Garrick. I lived much
in society in London, and was made happy by the presence of many
friends at Waltham Cross. In addition to this we always spent six
weeks at least out of England. Few men, I think, ever lived a fuller
life. And I attribute the power of doing this altogether to the
virtue of early hours. It was my practice to be at my table every
morning at 5.30 A.M.; and it was also my practice to allow myself no
mercy. An old groom, whose business it was to call me, and to whom I
paid £5 a year extra for the duty, allowed himself no mercy. During
all those years at Waltham Cross he was never once late with the
coffee which it was his duty to bring me. I do not know that I ought
not to feel that I owe more to him than to any one else for the
success I have had. By beginning at that hour I could complete my
literary work before I dressed for breakfast.

All those I think who have lived as literary men,--working daily as
literary labourers,--will agree with me that three hours a day will
produce as much as a man ought to write. But then he should so have
trained himself that he shall be able to work continuously during
those three hours,--so have tutored his mind that it shall not be
necessary for him to sit nibbling his pen, and gazing at the wall
before him, till he shall have found the words with which he wants
to express his ideas. It had at this time become my custom,--and it
still is my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient to
myself,--to write with my watch before me, and to require from myself
250 words every quarter of an hour. I have found that the 250 words
have been forthcoming as regularly as my watch went. But my three
hours were not devoted entirely to writing. I always began my task
by reading the work of the day before, an operation which would take
me half an hour, and which consisted chiefly in weighing with my ear
the sound of the words and phrases. I would strongly recommend this
practice to all tyros in writing. That their work should be read
after it has been written is a matter of course,--that it should be
read twice at least before it goes to the printers, I take to be
a matter of course. But by reading what he has last written, just
before he recommences his task, the writer will catch the tone and
spirit of what he is then saying, and will avoid the fault of seeming
to be unlike himself. This division of time allowed me to produce
over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept up
through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of
three volumes each in the year;--the precise amount which so greatly
acerbated the publisher in Paternoster Row, and which must at any
rate be felt to be quite as much as the novel-readers of the world
can want from the hands of one man.

I have never written three novels in a year, but by following the
plan above described I have written more than as much as three
volumes; and by adhering to it over a course of years, I have been
enabled to have always on hand,--for some time back now,--one or two
or even three unpublished novels in my desk beside me. Were I to die
now there are three such besides _The Prime Minister_, half of which
has only yet been issued. One of these has been six years finished,
and has never seen the light since it was first tied up in the
wrapper which now contains it. I look forward with some grim
pleasantry to its publication after another period of six years, and
to the declaration of the critics that it has been the work of a
period of life at which the power of writing novels had passed from
me. Not improbably, however, these pages may be printed first.

In 1866 and 1867 _The Last Chronicle of Barset_ was brought out by
George Smith in sixpenny monthly numbers. I do not know that this
mode of publication had been tried before, or that it answered very
well on this occasion. Indeed the shilling magazines had interfered
greatly with the success of novels published in numbers without other
accompanying matter. The public finding that so much might be had
for a shilling, in which a portion of one or more novels was always
included, were unwilling to spend their money on the novel alone.
Feeling that this certainly had become the case in reference to
novels published in shilling numbers, Mr. Smith and I determined to
make the experiment with sixpenny parts. As he paid me £3000 for the
use of my MS., the loss, if any, did not fall upon me. If I remember
right, the enterprise was not altogether successful.

Taking it as a whole, I regard this as the best novel I have written.
I was never quite satisfied with the development of the plot, which
consisted in the loss of a cheque, of a charge made against a
clergyman for stealing it, and of absolute uncertainty on the part of
the clergyman himself as to the manner in which the cheque had found
its way into his hands. I cannot quite make myself believe that even
such a man as Mr. Crawley could have forgotten how he got it; nor
would the generous friend who was anxious to supply his wants have
supplied them by tendering the cheque of a third person. Such fault I
acknowledge,--acknowledging at the same time that I have never been
capable of constructing with complete success the intricacies of a
plot that required to be unravelled. But while confessing so much,
I claim to have portrayed the mind of the unfortunate man with great
accuracy and great delicacy. The pride, the humility, the manliness,
the weakness, the conscientious rectitude and bitter prejudices of
Mr. Crawley were, I feel, true to nature and well described. The
surroundings too are good. Mrs. Proudie at the palace is a real
woman; and the poor old warden dying at the deanery is also real.
The archdeacon in his victory is very real. There is a true savour
of English country life all through the book. It was with many
misgivings that I killed my old friend Mrs. Proudie. I could not,
I think, have done it, but for a resolution taken and declared under
circumstances of great momentary pressure.

It was thus that it came about. I was sitting one morning at work
upon the novel at the end of the long drawing-room of the Athenæum
Club,--as was then my wont when I had slept the previous night in
London. As I was there, two clergymen, each with a magazine in his
hand, seated themselves, one on one side of the fire and one on the
other, close to me. They soon began to abuse what they were reading,
and each was reading some part of some novel of mine. The gravamen
of their complaint lay in the fact that I reintroduced the same
characters so often! "Here," said one, "is that archdeacon whom we
have had in every novel he has ever written." "And here," said the
other, "is the old duke whom he has talked about till everybody is
tired of him. If I could not invent new characters, I would not write
novels at all." Then one of them fell foul of Mrs. Proudie. It was
impossible for me not to hear their words, and almost impossible
to hear them and be quiet. I got up, and standing between them, I
acknowledged myself to be the culprit. "As to Mrs. Proudie," I said,
"I will go home and kill her before the week is over." And so I did.
The two gentlemen were utterly confounded, and one of them begged me
to forget his frivolous observations.

I have sometimes regretted the deed, so great was my delight in
writing about Mrs. Proudie, so thorough was my knowledge of all
the little shades of her character. It was not only that she was a
tyrant, a bully, a would-be priestess, a very vulgar woman, and one
who would send headlong to the nethermost pit all who disagreed with
her; but that at the same time she was conscientious, by no means a
hypocrite, really believing in the brimstone which she threatened,
and anxious to save the souls around her from its horrors. And as
her tyranny increased so did the bitterness of the moments of her
repentance increase, in that she knew herself to be a tyrant,--till
that bitterness killed her. Since her time others have grown up
equally dear to me,--Lady Glencora and her husband, for instance; but
I have never dissevered myself from Mrs. Proudie, and still live much
in company with her ghost.

I have in a previous chapter said how I wrote _Can You Forgive Her?_
after the plot of a play which had been rejected,--which play had
been called _The Noble Jilt_. Some year or two after the completion
of _The Last Chronicle_, I was asked by the manager of a theatre
to prepare a piece for his stage, and I did so, taking the plot of
this novel. I called the comedy _Did He Steal It?_ But my friend the
manager did not approve of my attempt. My mind at this time was less
attentive to such a matter than when dear old George Bartley nearly
crushed me by his criticism,--so that I forget the reason given. I
have little doubt but that the manager was right. That he intended to
express a true opinion, and would have been glad to have taken the
piece had he thought it suitable, I am quite sure.

I have sometimes wished to see during my lifetime a combined
republication of those tales which are occupied with the fictitious
county of Barsetshire. These would be _The Warden_, _Barchester
Towers_, _Doctor Thorne_, _Framley Parsonage_, and _The Last
Chronicle of Barset_. But I have hitherto failed. The copyrights are
in the hands of four different persons, including myself, and with
one of the four I have not been able to prevail to act in concert
with the others.[10]

   [Footnote 10: Since this was written I have made arrangements for
   doing as I have wished, and the first volume of the series will
   now very shortly be published.]

In 1867 I made up my mind to take a step in life which was not
unattended with peril, which many would call rash, and which, when
taken, I should be sure at some period to regret. This step was the
resignation of my place in the Post Office. I have described how it
was that I contrived to combine the performance of its duties with my
other avocations in life. I got up always very early; but even this
did not suffice. I worked always on Sundays,--as to which no scruple
of religion made me unhappy,--and not unfrequently I was driven to
work at night. In the winter when hunting was going on, I had to keep
myself very much on the alert. And during the London season, when
I was generally two or three days of the week in town, I found the
official work to be a burden. I had determined some years previously,
after due consideration with my wife, to abandon the Post Office when
I had put by an income equal to the pension to which I should be
entitled if I remained in the department till I was sixty. That I had
now done, and I sighed for liberty.

The exact time chosen, the autumn of 1867, was selected because I
was then about to undertake other literary work in editing a new
magazine,--of which I shall speak very shortly. But in addition to
these reasons there was another, which was, I think, at last the
actuating cause. When Sir Rowland Hill left the Post Office, and my
brother-in-law, Mr. Tilley, became Secretary in his place, I applied
for the vacant office of Under-Secretary. Had I obtained this I
should have given up my hunting, have given up much of my literary
work,--at any rate would have edited no magazine,--and would have
returned to the habit of my youth in going daily to the General
Post Office. There was very much against such a change in life. The
increase of salary would not have amounted to above £400 a year, and
I should have lost much more than that in literary remuneration. I
should have felt bitterly the slavery of attendance at an office,
from which I had then been exempt for five-and-twenty years. I
should, too, have greatly missed the sport which I loved. But I was
attached to the department, had imbued myself with a thorough love of
letters,--I mean the letters which are carried by the post,--and was
anxious for their welfare as though they were all my own. In short, I
wished to continue the connection. I did not wish, moreover, that any
younger officer should again pass over my head. I believed that I had
been a valuable public servant, and I will own to a feeling existing
at that time that I had not altogether been well treated. I was
probably wrong in this. I had been allowed to hunt,--and to do as I
pleased, and to say what I liked, and had in that way received my
reward. I applied for the office, but Mr. Scudamore was appointed to
it. He no doubt was possessed of gifts which I did not possess. He
understood the manipulation of money and the use of figures, and was
a great accountant. I think that I might have been more useful in
regard to the labours and wages of the immense body of men employed
by the Post Office. However, Mr. Scudamore was appointed; and I made
up my mind that I would fall back upon my old intention, and leave
the department. I think I allowed two years to pass before I took
the step; and the day on which I sent the letter was to me most

The rule of the service in regard to pensions is very just. A
man shall serve till he is sixty before he is entitled to a
pension,--unless his health fail him. At that age he is entitled to
one-sixtieth of his salary for every year he has served up to forty
years. If his health do fail him so that he is unfit for further work
before the age named, then he may go with a pension amounting to
one-sixtieth for every year he has served. I could not say that my
health had failed me, and therefore I went without any pension. I
have since felt occasionally that it has been supposed that I left
the Post Office under pressure,--because I attended to hunting and to
my literary work rather than to postal matters. As it had for many
years been my ambition to be a thoroughly good servant to the public,
and to give to the public much more than I took in the shape of
salary, this feeling has sometimes annoyed me. And as I am still a
little sore on the subject, and as I would not have it imagined after
my death that I had slighted the public service to which I belonged,
I will venture here to give the reply which was sent to the letter
containing my resignation.

   General Post Office,
   October 9th, 1867.

   SIR,--I have received your letter of the 3d inst., in
   which you tender your resignation as Surveyor in the Post
   Office service, and state as your reason for this step
   that you have adopted another profession, the exigencies
   of which are so great as to make you feel you cannot give
   to the duties of the Post Office that amount of attention
   which you consider the Postmaster-General has a right to

   You have for many years ranked among the most conspicuous
   members of the Post Office, which, on several occasions
   when you have been employed on large and difficult
   matters, has reaped much benefit from the great abilities
   which you have been able to place at its disposal; and in
   mentioning this, I have been especially glad to record
   that, notwithstanding the many calls upon your time, you
   have never permitted your other avocations to interfere
   with your Post Office work, which has been faithfully and
   indeed energetically performed.

There was a touch of irony in this word "energetically," but still it
did not displease me.

   In accepting your resignation, which he does with much
   regret, the Duke of Montrose desires me to convey to you
   his own sense of the value of your services, and to state
   how alive he is to the loss which will be sustained by the
   department in which you have long been an ornament, and
   where your place will with difficulty be replaced.

   (Signed) J. TILLEY.

Readers will no doubt think that this is official flummery; and
so in fact it is. I do not at all imagine that I was an ornament
to the Post Office, and have no doubt that the secretaries and
assistant-secretaries very often would have been glad to be rid of
me; but the letter may be taken as evidence that I did not allow
my literary enterprises to interfere with my official work. A man
who takes public money without earning it is to me so odious that
I can find no pardon for him in my heart. I have known many such, and
some who have craved the power to do so. Nothing would annoy me more
than to think that I should even be supposed to have been among the

And so my connection was dissolved with the department to which I
had applied the thirty-three best years of my life;--I must not say
devoted, for devotion implies an entire surrender, and I certainly
had found time for other occupations. It is however absolutely true
that during all those years I had thought very much more about the
Post Office than I had of my literary work, and had given to it a
more unflagging attention. Up to this time I had never been angry,
never felt myself injured or unappreciated in that my literary
efforts were slighted. But I had suffered very much bitterness on
that score in reference to the Post Office; and I had suffered not
only on my own personal behalf, but also and more bitterly when I
could not promise to be done the things which I thought ought to be
done for the benefit of others. That the public in little villages
should be enabled to buy postage stamps; that they should have their
letters delivered free and at an early hour; that pillar letter-boxes
should be put up for them (of which accommodation in the streets
and ways of England I was the originator, having, however, got the
authority for the erection of the first at St. Heliers in Jersey);
that the letter-carriers and sorters should not be overworked; that
they should be adequately paid, and have some hours to themselves,
especially on Sundays; above all, that they should be made to earn
their wages; and latterly that they should not be crushed by what
I thought to be the damnable system of so-called merit;--these were
the matters by which I was stirred to what the secretary was pleased
to call energetic performance of my duties. How I loved, when I was
contradicted,--as I was very often and no doubt very properly,--to
do instantly as I was bid, and then to prove that what I was doing
was fatuous, dishonest, expensive, and impracticable! And then there
were feuds,--such delicious feuds! I was always an anti-Hillite,
acknowledging, indeed, the great thing which Sir Rowland Hill had
done for the country, but believing him to be entirely unfit to
manage men or to arrange labour. It was a pleasure to me to differ
from him on all occasions;--and looking back now, I think that in all
such differences I was right.

Having so steeped myself, as it were, in postal waters, I could not
go out from them without a regret. I wonder whether I did anything to
improve the style of writing in official reports! I strove to do so
gallantly, never being contented with the language of my own reports
unless it seemed to have been so written as to be pleasant to be
read. I took extreme delight in writing them, not allowing myself to
re-copy them, never having them re-copied by others, but sending them
up with their original blots and erasures,--if blots and erasures
there were. It is hardly manly, I think, that a man should search
after a fine neatness at the expense of so much waste labour; or
that he should not be able to exact from himself the necessity of
writing words in the form in which they should be read. If a copy be
required, let it be taken afterwards,--by hand or by machine, as may
be. But the writer of a letter, if he wish his words to prevail with
the reader, should send them out as written by himself, by his own
hand, with his own marks, his own punctuation, correct or incorrect,
with the evidence upon them that they have come out from his own

And so the cord was cut, and I was a free man to run about the world
where I would.

A little before the date of my resignation, Mr. James Virtue, the
printer and publisher, had asked me to edit a new magazine for him,
and had offered me a salary of £1000 a year for the work, over and
above what might be due to me for my own contributions. I had known
something of magazines, and did not believe that they were generally
very lucrative. They were, I thought, useful to some publishers
as bringing grist to the mill; but as Mr. Virtue's business was
chiefly that of a printer, in which he was very successful, this
consideration could hardly have had much weight with him. I very
strongly advised him to abandon the project, pointing out to him that
a large expenditure would be necessary to carry on the magazine in
accordance with my views,--that I could not be concerned in it on any
other understanding, and that the chances of an adequate return to
him of his money were very small. He came down to Waltham, listened
to my arguments with great patience, and then told me that if I would
not do the work he would find some other editor.

Upon this I consented to undertake the duty. My terms as to salary
were those which he had himself proposed. The special stipulations
which I demanded were: firstly, that I should put whatever I pleased
into the magazine, or keep whatever I pleased out of it, without
interference; secondly, that I should from month to month give in to
him a list of payments to be made to contributors, and that he should
pay them, allowing me to fix the amounts; and thirdly, that the
arrangement should remain in force at any rate for two years. To all
this he made no objection; and during the time that he and I were
thus bound together, he not only complied with these stipulations,
but also with every suggestion respecting the magazine that I made to
him. If the use of large capital, combined with wide liberality and
absolute confidence on the part of the proprietor, and perpetual good
humour, would have produced success, our magazine certainly would
have succeeded.

In all such enterprises the name is the first great difficulty. There
is the name which has a meaning and the name which has none,--of
which two the name that has none is certainly the better, as it
never belies itself. _The Liberal_ may cease to be liberal, or _The
Fortnightly_, alas! to come out once a fortnight. But _The Cornhill_
and _The Argosy_ are under any set of circumstances as well adapted
to these names as under any other. Then there is the proprietary
name, or possibly the editorial name, which is only amiss because
the publication may change hands. _Blackwood's_ has indeed always
remained _Blackwood's_, and _Fraser's_, though it has been bought
and sold, still does not sound amiss. Mr. Virtue, fearing the too
attractive qualities of his own name, wished the magazine to be
called _Anthony Trollope's_. But to this I objected eagerly. There
were then about the town--still are about the town--two or three
literary gentlemen, by whom to have had myself editored would have
driven me an exile from my country. After much discussion, we settled
on _St. Paul's_ as the name for our bantling,--not as being in any
way new, but as enabling it to fall easily into the ranks with many
others. If we were to make ourselves in any way peculiar, it was not
by our name that we were desirous of doing so.

I do not think that we did make ourselves in any way peculiar,--and
yet there was a great struggle made. On the part of the proprietor,
I may say that money was spent very freely. On my own part, I
may declare that I omitted nothing which I thought might tend to
success. I read all manuscripts sent to me, and endeavoured to judge
impartially. I succeeded in obtaining the services of an excellent
literary corps. During the three years and a half of my editorship
I was assisted by Mr. Goschen, Captain Brackenbury, Edward Dicey,
Percy Fitzgerald, H. A. Layard, Allingham, Leslie Stephen, Mrs. Lynn
Linton, my brother, T. A. Trollope, and his wife, Charles Lever,
E. Arnold, Austin Dobson, R. A. Proctor, Lady Pollock, G. H. Lewes,
C. Mackay, Hardman (of the _Times_), George Macdonald, W. R. Greg,
Mrs. Oliphant, Sir Charles Trevelyan, Leoni Levi, Dutton Cook,--and
others, whose names would make the list too long. It might have been
thought that with such aid the _St. Paul's_ would have succeeded.
I do not think that the failure--for it did fail--arose from bad
editing. Perhaps too much editing might have been the fault. I was
too anxious to be good, and did not enough think of what might be

It did fail, for it never paid its way. It reached, if I remember
right, a circulation of nearly 10,000--perhaps on one or two
occasions may have gone beyond that. But the enterprise had been set
on foot on a system too expensive to be made lucrative by anything
short of a very large circulation. Literary merit will hardly set
a magazine afloat, though when afloat it will sustain it. Time
is wanted,--or the hubbub, and flurry, and excitement created by
ubiquitous sesquipedalian advertisement. Merit and time together may
be effective, but they must be backed by economy and patience.

I think, upon the whole, that publishers themselves have been the
best editors of magazines, when they have been able to give time and
intelligence to the work. Nothing certainly has ever been done better
than _Blackwood's_. The _Cornhill_, too, after Thackeray had left
it and before Leslie Stephen had taken it, seemed to be in quite
efficient hands,--those hands being the hands of proprietor and
publisher. The proprietor, at any rate, knows what he wants and what
he can afford, and is not so frequently tempted to fall into that
worst of literary quicksands, the publishing of matter not for the
sake of the readers, but for that of the writer. I did not so sin
very often, but often enough to feel that I was a coward. "My dear
friend, my dear friend, this is trash!" It is so hard to speak
thus,--but so necessary for an editor! We all remember the thorn in
his pillow of which Thackeray complained. Occasionally I know that
I did give way on behalf of some literary aspirant whose work did
not represent itself to me as being good; and as often as I did so,
I broke my trust to those who employed me. Now, I think that such
editors as Thackeray and myself--if I may for the moment be allowed
to couple men so unequal--will always be liable to commit such
faults, but that the natures of publishers and proprietors will be
less soft.

Nor do I know why the pages of a magazine should be considered to be
open to any aspirant who thinks that he can write an article, or why
the manager of a magazine should be doomed to read all that may be
sent to him. The object of the proprietor is to produce a periodical
that shall satisfy the public, which he may probably best do by
securing the services of writers of acknowledged ability.



Very early in life, very soon after I had become a clerk in St.
Martin's le Grand, when I was utterly impecunious and beginning to
fall grievously into debt, I was asked by an uncle of mine, who was
himself a clerk in the War Office, what destination I should like
best for my future life. He probably meant to inquire whether I
wished to live married or single, whether to remain in the Post
Office or to leave it, whether I should prefer the town or the
country. I replied that I should like to be a Member of Parliament.
My uncle, who was given to sarcasm, rejoined that, as far as he knew,
few clerks in the Post Office did become Members of Parliament. I
think it was the remembrance of this jeer which stirred me up to look
for a seat as soon as I had made myself capable of holding one by
leaving the public service. My uncle was dead, but if I could get a
seat, the knowledge that I had done so might travel to that bourne
from whence he was not likely to return, and he might there feel that
he had done me wrong.

Independently of this, I have always thought that to sit in the
British Parliament should be the highest object of ambition to every
educated Englishman. I do not by this mean to suggest that every
educated Englishman should set before himself a seat in Parliament as
a probable or even a possible career; but that the man in Parliament
has reached a higher position than the man out,--that to serve one's
country without pay is the grandest work that a man can do,--that
of all studies the study of politics is the one in which a man may
make himself most useful to his fellow-creatures,--and that of all
lives, public political lives are capable of the highest efforts. So
thinking,--though I was aware that fifty-three was too late an age at
which to commence a new career,--I resolved with much hesitation that
I would make the attempt.

Writing now at an age beyond sixty, I can say that my political
feelings and convictions have never undergone any change. They are
now what they became when I first began to have political feelings
and convictions. Nor do I find in myself any tendency to modify them
as I have found generally in men as they grow old. I consider myself
to be an advanced, but still a Conservative-Liberal, which I regard
not only as a possible but as a rational and consistent phase of
political existence. I can, I believe, in a very few words, make
known my political theory; and as I am anxious that any who know
aught of me should know that, I will endeavour to do so.

It must, I think, be painful to all men to feel inferiority. It
should, I think, be a matter of some pain to all men to feel
superiority, unless when it has been won by their own efforts. We do
not understand the operations of Almighty wisdom, and are therefore
unable to tell the causes of the terrible inequalities that we
see,--why some, why so many, should have so little to make life
enjoyable, so much to make it painful, while a few others, not
through their own merit, have had gifts poured out to them from a
full hand. We acknowledge the hand of God and His wisdom, but still
we are struck with awe and horror at the misery of many of our
brethren. We who have been born to the superior condition,--for in
this matter I consider myself to be standing on a platform with
dukes and princes, and all others to whom plenty and education and
liberty have been given,--cannot, I think, look upon the inane,
unintellectual, and tost-bound life of those who cannot even feed
themselves sufficiently by their sweat, without some feeling of
injustice, some feeling of pain.

This consciousness of wrong has induced in many enthusiastic but
unbalanced minds a desire to set all things right by a proclaimed
equality. In their efforts such men have shown how powerless they
are in opposing the ordinances of the Creator. For the mind of the
thinker and the student is driven to admit, though it be awestruck by
apparent injustice, that this inequality is the work of God. Make
all men equal to-day, and God has so created them that they shall be
all unequal to-morrow. The so-called Conservative, the conscientious
philanthropic Conservative, seeing this, and being surely convinced
that such inequalities are of divine origin, tells himself that it
is his duty to preserve them. He thinks that the preservation of the
welfare of the world depends on the maintenance of those distances
between the prince and the peasant by which he finds himself to be
surrounded;--and perhaps, I may add, that the duty is not unpleasant,
as he feels himself to be one of the princes.

But this man, though he sees something, and sees that very clearly,
sees only a little. The divine inequality is apparent to him, but
not the equally divine diminution of that inequality. That such
diminution is taking place on all sides is apparent enough; but it is
apparent to him as an evil, the consummation of which it is his duty
to retard. He cannot prevent it; and therefore the society to which
he belongs is, in his eyes, retrograding. He will even, at times,
assist it; and will do so conscientiously, feeling that, under the
gentle pressure supplied by him, and with the drags and holdfasts
which he may add, the movement would be slower than it would become
if subjected to his proclaimed and absolute opponents. Such, I think,
are Conservatives;--and I speak of men who, with the fear of God
before their eyes and the love of their neighbours warm in their
hearts, endeavour to do their duty to the best of their ability.

Using the term which is now common, and which will be best
understood, I will endeavour to explain how the equally conscientious
Liberal is opposed to the Conservative. He is equally aware that
these distances are of divine origin, equally averse to any sudden
disruption of society in quest of some Utopian blessedness;--but he
is alive to the fact that these distances are day by day becoming
less, and he regards this continual diminution as a series of steps
towards that human millennium of which he dreams. He is even willing
to help the many to ascend the ladder a little, though he knows,
as they come up towards him, he must go down to meet them. What
is really in his mind is,--I will not say equality, for the word
is offensive, and presents to the imaginations of men ideas of
communism, of ruin, and insane democracy,--but a tendency towards
equality. In following that, however, he knows that he must be
hemmed in by safeguards, lest he be tempted to travel too quickly;
and therefore he is glad to be accompanied on his way by the
repressive action of a Conservative opponent. Holding such views,
I think I am guilty of no absurdity in calling myself an advanced
Conservative-Liberal. A man who entertains in his mind any political
doctrine, except as a means of improving the condition of his
fellows, I regard as a political intriguer, a charlatan, and a
conjurer,--as one who thinks that, by a certain amount of wary
wire-pulling, he may raise himself in the estimation of the world.

I am aware that this theory of politics will seem to many to be
stilted, overstrained, and, as the Americans would say, high-faluten.
Many will declare that the majority even of those who call themselves
politicians,--perhaps even of those who take an active part
in politics,--are stirred by no such feelings as these, and
acknowledge no such motives. Men become Tories or Whigs, Liberals or
Conservatives, partly by education,--following their fathers,--partly
by chance, partly as openings come, partly in accordance with the
bent of their minds, but still without any far-fetched reasonings as
to distances and the diminution of distances. No doubt it is so;--and
in the battle of politics, as it goes, men are led further and
further away from first causes, till at last a measure is opposed
by one simply because it is advocated by another, and members of
Parliament swarm into lobbies, following the dictation of their
leaders, and not their own individual judgments. But the principle
is at work throughout. To many, though hardly acknowledged, it is
still apparent. On almost all it has its effect; though there are the
intriguers, the clever conjurers, to whom politics is simply such a
game as is billiards or rackets, only played with greater results. To
the minds that create and lead and sway political opinion, some such
theory is, I think, ever present.

The truth of all this I had long since taken home to myself. I had
now been thinking of it for thirty years, and had never doubted. But
I had always been aware of a certain visionary weakness about myself
in regard to politics. A man, to be useful in Parliament, must be
able to confine himself and conform himself, to be satisfied with
doing a little bit of a little thing at a time. He must patiently
get up everything connected with the duty on mushrooms, and then be
satisfied with himself when at last he has induced a Chancellor of
the Exchequer to say that he will consider the impost at the first
opportunity. He must be content to be beaten six times in order that,
on a seventh, his work may be found to be of assistance to some one
else. He must remember that he is one out of 650, and be content with
1-650th part of the attention of the nation. If he have grand ideas,
he must keep them to himself, unless by chance he can work his way
up to the top of the tree. In short, he must be a practical man.
Now I knew that in politics I could never become a practical man. I
should never be satisfied with a soft word from the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, but would always be flinging my over-taxed ketchup in his

Nor did it seem to me to be possible that I should ever become a good
speaker. I had no special gifts that way, and had not studied the
art early enough in life to overcome natural difficulties. I had
found that, with infinite labour, I could learn a few sentences
by heart, and deliver them, monotonously indeed, but clearly. Or,
again, if there were something special to be said, I could say it
in a commonplace fashion,--but always as though I were in a hurry,
and with the fear before me of being thought to be prolix. But I
had no power of combining, as a public speaker should always do,
that which I had studied with that which occurred to me at the
moment. It must be all lesson,--which I found to be best; or else all
impromptu,--which was very bad indeed, unless I had something special
on my mind. I was thus aware that I could do no good by going into
Parliament,--that the time for it, if there could have been a time,
had gone by. But still I had an almost insane desire to sit there,
and be able to assure myself that my uncle's scorn had not been

In 1867 it had been suggested to me that, in the event of a
dissolution, I should stand for one division of the county of Essex;
and I had promised that I would do so, though the promise at that
time was as rash a one as a man could make. I was instigated to this
by the late Charles Buxton, a man whom I greatly loved, and who was
very anxious that the county for which his brother had sat, and with
which the family were connected, should be relieved from what he
regarded as the thraldom of Toryism. But there was no dissolution
then. Mr. Disraeli passed his Reform Bill, by the help of the
Liberal member for Newark, and the summoning of a new Parliament
was postponed till the next year. By this new Reform Bill Essex was
portioned out into three instead of two electoral divisions, one of
which--that adjacent to London--would, it was thought, be altogether
Liberal. After the promise which I had given, the performance of
which would have cost me a large sum of money absolutely in vain, it
was felt by some that I should be selected as one of the candidates
for the new division,--and as such I was proposed by Mr. Charles
Buxton. But another gentleman, who would have been bound by previous
pledges to support me, was put forward by what I believe to have been
the defeating interest, and I had to give way. At the election this
gentleman, with another Liberal, who had often stood for the county,
were returned without a contest. Alas! alas! They were both unseated
at the next election, when the great Conservative reaction took

In the spring of 1868 I was sent to the United States on a postal
mission, of which I will speak presently. While I was absent the
dissolution took place. On my return I was somewhat too late to
look out for a seat, but I had friends who knew the weakness of my
ambition; and it was not likely, therefore, that I should escape
the peril of being put forward for some impossible borough as to
which the Liberal party would not choose that it should go to the
Conservatives without a struggle. At last, after one or two others,
Beverley was proposed to me, and to Beverley I went.

I must, however, exculpate the gentleman who acted as my agent, from
undue persuasion exercised towards me. He was a man who thoroughly
understood Parliament, having sat there himself,--and he sits there
now at this moment. He understood Yorkshire,--or at least the East
Riding of Yorkshire, in which Beverley is situated,--certainly better
than any one alive. He understood all the mysteries of canvassing,
and he knew well the traditions, the condition, and the prospect
of the Liberal party. I will not give his name, but they who knew
Yorkshire in 1868 will not be at a loss to find it. "So," said he,
"you are going to stand for Beverley?" I replied gravely that I was
thinking of doing so. "You don't expect to get in?" he said. Again
I was grave. I would not, I said, be sanguine, but nevertheless
I was disposed to hope for the best. "Oh no!" continued he, with
good-humoured raillery, "you won't get in. I don't suppose you really
expect it. But there is a fine career open to you. You will spend
£1000, and lose the election. Then you will petition, and spend
another £1000. You will throw out the elected members. There will be
a commission, and the borough will be disfranchised. For a beginner
such as you are, that will be a great success." And yet, in the teeth
of this, from a man who knew all about it, I persisted in going to

The borough, which returned two members, had long been represented by
Sir Henry Edwards, of whom, I think, I am justified in saying that
he had contracted a close intimacy with it for the sake of the seat.
There had been many contests, many petitions, many void elections,
many members, but, through it all, Sir Henry had kept his seat,
if not with permanence, yet with a fixity of tenure next door to
permanence. I fancy that with a little management between the parties
the borough might at this time have returned a member of each colour
quietly;--but there were spirits there who did not love political
quietude, and it was at last decided that there should be two Liberal
and two Conservative candidates. Sir Henry was joined by a young man
of fortune in quest of a seat, and I was grouped with Mr. Maxwell,
the eldest son of Lord Herries, a Scotch Roman Catholic peer who
lives in the neighbourhood.

When the time came I went down to canvass, and spent, I think, the
most wretched fortnight of my manhood. In the first place, I was
subject to a bitter tyranny from grinding vulgar tyrants. They were
doing what they could, or said that they were doing so, to secure me
a seat in Parliament, and I was to be in their hands for at any rate
the period of my candidature. On one day both of us, Mr. Maxwell and
I, wanted to go out hunting. We proposed to ourselves but the one
holiday during this period of intense labour; but I was assured,
as was he also, by a publican who was working for us, that if we
committed such a crime he and all Beverley would desert us. From
morning to evening every day I was taken round the lanes and by-ways
of that uninteresting town, canvassing every voter, exposed to the
rain, up to my knees in slush, and utterly unable to assume that air
of triumphant joy with which a jolly, successful candidate should be
invested. At night, every night I had to speak somewhere,--which was
bad; and to listen to the speaking of others,--which was much worse.
When, on one Sunday, I proposed to go to the Minster Church, I was
told that was quite useless, as the Church party were all certain to
support Sir Henry! "Indeed," said the publican, my tyrant, "he goes
there in a kind of official profession, and you had better not allow
yourself to be seen in the same place." So I stayed away and omitted
my prayers. No Church of England church in Beverley would on such
an occasion have welcomed a Liberal candidate. I felt myself to be
a kind of pariah in the borough, to whom was opposed all that was
pretty, and all that was nice, and all that was--ostensibly--good.

But perhaps my strongest sense of discomfort arose from the
conviction that my political ideas were all leather and prunella
to the men whose votes I was soliciting. They cared nothing for
my doctrines, and could not be made to understand that I should
have any. I had been brought to Beverley either to beat Sir Henry
Edwards,--which, however, no one probably thought to be feasible,--or
to cause him the greatest possible amount of trouble, inconvenience,
and expense. There were, indeed, two points on which a portion of my
wished-for supporters seemed to have opinions, and on both these two
points I was driven by my opinions to oppose them. Some were anxious
for the Ballot,--which had not then become law,--and some desired the
Permissive Bill. I hated, and do hate, both these measures, thinking
it to be unworthy of a great people to free itself from the evil
results of vicious conduct by unmanly restraints. Undue influence
on voters is a great evil from which this country had already done
much to emancipate itself by extended electoral divisions and by an
increase of independent feeling. These, I thought, and not secret
voting, were the weapons by which electoral intimidation should be
overcome. And as for drink, I believe in no Parliamentary restraint;
but I do believe in the gradual effect of moral teaching and
education. But a Liberal, to do any good at Beverley, should have
been able to swallow such gnats as those. I would swallow nothing,
and was altogether the wrong man.

I knew, from the commencement of my candidature, how it would be.
Of course that well-trained gentleman who condescended to act as
my agent, had understood the case, and I ought to have taken his
thoroughly kind advice. He had seen it all, and had told himself
that it was wrong that one so innocent in such ways as I, so utterly
unable to fight such a battle, should be carried down into Yorkshire
merely to spend money and to be annoyed. He could not have said more
than he did say, and I suffered for my obstinacy. Of course I was
not elected. Sir Henry Edwards and his comrade became members for
Beverley, and I was at the bottom of the poll. I paid £400 for my
expenses, and then returned to London.

My friendly agent in his raillery had of course exaggerated the cost.
He had, when I arrived at Beverley, asked me for a cheque for £400,
and told me that that sum would suffice. It did suffice. How it came
to pass that exactly that sum should be required I never knew, but
such was the case. Then there came a petition,--not from me, but from
the town. The inquiry was made, the two gentlemen were unseated, the
borough was disfranchised, Sir Henry Edwards was put on his trial for
some kind of Parliamentary offence and was acquitted. In this way
Beverley's privilege as a borough and my Parliamentary ambition were
brought to an end at the same time.

When I knew the result I did not altogether regret it. It may be
that Beverley might have been brought to political confusion and
Sir Henry Edwards relegated to private life without the expenditure
of my hard-earned money, and without that fortnight of misery; but
connecting the things together, as it was natural that I should do,
I did flatter myself that I had done some good. It had seemed to me
that nothing could be worse, nothing more unpatriotic, nothing more
absolutely opposed to the system of representative government, than
the time-honoured practices of the borough of Beverley. It had come
to pass that political cleanliness was odious to the citizens. There
was something grand in the scorn with which a leading Liberal there
turned up his nose at me when I told him that there should be no
bribery, no treating, not even a pot of beer on one side. It was a
matter for study to see how at Beverley politics were appreciated
because they might subserve electoral purposes, and how little it
was understood that electoral purposes, which are in themselves a
nuisance, should be endured in order that they may subserve politics.
And then the time, the money, the mental energy, which had been
expended in making the borough a secure seat for a gentleman who
had realised the idea that it would become him to be a member of
Parliament! This use of the borough seemed to be realised and
approved in the borough generally. The inhabitants had taught
themselves to think that it was for such purposes that boroughs were
intended! To have assisted in putting an end to this, even in one
town, was to a certain extent a satisfaction.



In the spring of 1868,--before the affair of Beverley, which, as
being the first direct result of my resignation of office, has been
brought in a little out of its turn,--I was requested to go over to
the United States and make a postal treaty at Washington. This, as
I had left the service, I regarded as a compliment, and of course I
went. It was my third visit to America, and I have made two since.
As far as the Post Office work was concerned, it was very far from
being agreeable. I found myself located at Washington, a place I do
not love, and was harassed by delays, annoyed by incompetence, and
opposed by what I felt to be personal and not national views. I had
to deal with two men,--with one who was a working officer of the
American Post Office, than whom I have never met a more zealous, or,
as far as I could judge, a more honest public servant. He had his
views and I had mine, each of us having at heart the welfare of the
service in regard to his own country,--each of us also having certain
orders which we were bound to obey. But the other gentleman, who was
in rank the superior,--whose executive position was dependent on his
official status, as is the case with our own Ministers,--did not
recommend himself to me equally. He would make appointments with me
and then not keep them, which at last offended me so grievously,
that I declared at the Washington Post Office that if this treatment
were continued, I would write home to say that any further action
on my part was impossible. I think I should have done so had it not
occurred to me that I might in this way serve his purpose rather
than my own, or the purposes of those who had sent me. The treaty,
however, was at last made,--the purport of which was, that everything
possible should be done, at a heavy expenditure on the part of
England, to expedite the mails from England to America, and that
nothing should be done by America to expedite the mails from thence
to us. The expedition I believe to be now equal both ways; but it
could not be maintained as it is without the payment of a heavy
subsidy from Great Britain, whereas no subsidy is paid by the

   [Footnote 11: This was a state of things which may probably have
   appeared to American politicians to be exactly that which they
   should try to obtain. The whole arrangement has again been
   altered since the time of which I have spoken.]

I had also a commission from the Foreign Office, for which I had
asked, to make an effort on behalf of an international copyright
between the United States and Great Britain,--the want of which is
the one great impediment to pecuniary success which still stands in
the way of successful English authors. I cannot say that I have never
had a shilling of American money on behalf of reprints of my work;
but I have been conscious of no such payment. Having found many years
ago--in 1861, when I made a struggle on the subject, being then in
the States, the details of which are sufficiently amusing[12]--that
I could not myself succeed in dealing with American booksellers, I
have sold all foreign right to the English publishers; and though I
do not know that I have raised my price against them on that score,
I may in this way have had some indirect advantage from the American
market. But I do know that what the publishers have received here is
very trifling. I doubt whether Messrs. Chapman & Hall, my present
publishers, get for early sheets sent to the States as much as 5 per
cent on the price they pay me for my manuscript. But the American
readers are more numerous than the English, and taking them all
through, are probably more wealthy. If I can get £1000 for a book
here (exclusive of their market), I ought to be able to get as much
there. If a man supply 600 customers with shoes in place of 300,
there is no question as to such result. Why not, then, if I can
supply 60,000 readers instead of 30,000?

   [Footnote 12: In answer to a question from myself, a certain
   American publisher--he who usually reprinted my works--promised
   me that if any other American publisher republished my work
   on America before he had done so, he would not bring out a
   competing edition, though there would be no law to hinder
   him. I then entered into an agreement with another American
   publisher, stipulating to supply him with early sheets; and he
   stipulating to supply me a certain royalty on his sales, and to
   supply me with accounts half-yearly. I sent the sheets with
   energetic punctuality, and the work was brought out with equal
   energy and precision--by my old American publishers. The
   gentleman who made the promise had not broken his word. No
   other American edition had come out before his. I never got any
   account, and, of course, never received a dollar.]

I fancied that I knew that the opposition to an international
copyright was by no means an American feeling, but was confined to
the bosoms of a few interested Americans. All that I did and heard
in reference to the subject on this further visit,--and having a
certain authority from the British Secretary of State with me I
could hear and do something,--altogether confirmed me in this view.
I have no doubt that if I could poll American readers, or American
senators,--or even American representatives, if the polling could
be unbiassed,--or American booksellers,[13] that an assent to an
international copyright would be the result. The state of things as
it is is crushing to American authors, as the publishers will not pay
them on a liberal scale, knowing that they can supply their customers
with modern English literature without paying for it. The English
amount of production so much exceeds the American, that the rate at
which the former can be published rules the market. It is equally
injurious to American booksellers,--except to two or three of the
greatest houses. No small man can now acquire the exclusive right of
printing and selling an English book. If such a one attempt it, the
work is printed instantly by one of the leviathans,--who alone are
the gainers. The argument of course is, that the American readers are
the gainers,--that as they can get for nothing the use of certain
property, they would be cutting their own throats were they to pass
a law debarring themselves from the power of such appropriation. In
this argument all idea of honesty is thrown to the winds. It is not
that they do not approve of a system of copyright,--as many great men
have disapproved,--for their own law of copyright is as stringent as
is ours. A bold assertion is made that they like to appropriate the
goods of other people; and that, as in this case, they can do so
with impunity, they will continue to do so. But the argument, as
far as I have been able to judge, comes not from the people, but
from the bookselling leviathans, and from those politicians whom
the leviathans are able to attach to their interests. The ordinary
American purchaser is not much affected by slight variations in
price. He is at any rate too high-hearted to be affected by the
prospect of such variation. It is the man who wants to make money,
not he who fears that he may be called upon to spend it, who controls
such matters as this in the United States. It is the large speculator
who becomes powerful in the lobbies of the House, and understands how
wise it may be to incur a great expenditure either in the creation
of a great business, or in protecting that which he has created from
competition. Nothing was done in 1868,--and nothing has been done
since (up to 1876). A Royal Commission on the law of copyright is
now about to sit in this country, of which I have consented to be a
member; and the question must then be handled, though nothing done
by a Royal Commission here can affect American legislators. But
I do believe that if the measure be consistently and judiciously
urged, the enemies to it in the States will gradually be overcome.
Some years since we had some _quasi_ private meetings, under the
presidency of Lord Stanhope, in Mr. John Murray's dining-room, on the
subject of international copyright. At one of these I discussed this
matter of American international copyright with Charles Dickens,
who strongly declared his conviction that nothing would induce an
American to give up the power he possesses of pirating British
literature. But he was a man who, seeing clearly what was before him,
would not realise the possibility of shifting views. Because in this
matter the American decision had been, according to his thinking,
dishonest, therefore no other than dishonest decision was to be
expected from Americans. Against that idea I protested, and now
protest. American dishonesty is rampant; but it is rampant only among
a few. It is the great misfortune of the community that those few
have been able to dominate so large a portion of the population among
which all men can vote, but so few can understand for what they are

   [Footneote 13: I might also say American publishers, if I might
   count them by the number of heads, and not by the amount of work
   done by the firms.]

Since this was written the Commission on the law of copyright has sat
and made its report. With the great body of it I agree, and could
serve no reader by alluding here at length to matters which are
discussed there. But in regard to this question of international
copyright with the United States, I think that we were incorrect
in the expression of an opinion that fair justice,--or justice
approaching to fairness,--is now done by American publishers to
English authors by payments made by them for early sheets. I have
just found that £20 was paid to my publisher in England for the use
of the early sheets of a novel for which I received £1600 in England.
When asked why he accepted so little, he assured me that the firm
with whom he dealt would not give more. "Why not go to another firm?"
I asked. No other firm would give a dollar, because no other firm
would care to run counter to that great firm which had assumed to
itself the right of publishing my books. I soon after received a copy
of my own novel in the American form, and found that it was published
for 7½d. That a great sale was expected can be argued from the fact
that without a great sale the paper and printing necessary for the
republication of a three-volume novel could not be supplied. Many
thousand copies must have been sold. But from these the author
received not one shilling. I need hardly point out that the sum of
£20 would not do more than compensate the publisher for his trouble
in making the bargain. The publisher here no doubt might have refused
to supply the early sheets, but he had no means of exacting a higher
price than that offered. I mention the circumstance here because it
has been boasted, on behalf of the American publishers, that though
there is no international copyright, they deal so liberally with
English authors as to make it unnecessary that the English author
should be so protected. With the fact of the £20 just brought to my
knowledge, and with the copy of my book published at 7½d. now in my
hands, I feel that an international copyright is very necessary for
my protection.

They among Englishmen who best love and most admire the United
States, have felt themselves tempted to use the strongest language
in denouncing the sins of Americans. Who can but love their personal
generosity, their active and far-seeking philanthropy, their love of
education, their hatred of ignorance, the general convictions in the
minds of all of them that a man should be enabled to walk upright,
fearing no one and conscious that he is responsible for his own
actions? In what country have grander efforts been made by private
munificence to relieve the sufferings of humanity? Where can the
English traveller find any more anxious to assist him than the normal
American, when once the American shall have found the Englishman to
be neither sullen nor fastidious? Who, lastly, is so much an object
of heart-felt admiration of the American man and the American woman
as the well-mannered and well-educated Englishwoman or Englishman?
These are the ideas which I say spring uppermost in the minds of the
unprejudiced English traveller as he makes acquaintance with these
near relatives. Then he becomes cognisant of their official doings,
of their politics, of their municipal scandals, of their great
ring-robberies, of their lobbyings and briberies, and the infinite
baseness of their public life. There at the top of everything he
finds the very men who are the least fit to occupy high places.
American public dishonesty is so glaring that the very friends he
has made in the country are not slow to acknowledge it,--speaking of
public life as a thing-apart from their own existence, as a state
of dirt in which it would be an insult to suppose that they are
concerned! In the midst of it all the stranger, who sees so much
that he hates and so much that he loves, hardly knows how to express

"It is not enough that you are personally clean," he says, with what
energy and courage he can command,--"not enough though the clean
outnumber the foul as greatly as those gifted with eyesight outnumber
the blind, if you that can see allow the blind to lead you. It is
not by the private lives of the millions that the outside world will
judge you, but by the public career of those units whose venality is
allowed to debase the name of your country. There never was plainer
proof given than is given here, that it is the duty of every honest
citizen to look after the honour of his State."

Personally, I have to own that I have met Americans,--men, but more
frequently women,--who have in all respects come up to my ideas of
what men and women should be: energetic, having opinions of their
own, quick in speech, with some dash of sarcasm at their command,
always intelligent, sweet to look at (I speak of the women), fond of
pleasure, and each with a personality of his or her own which makes
no effort necessary on my own part in remembering the difference
between Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Green, or between Mr. Smith and Mr.
Johnson. They have faults. They are self-conscious, and are too
prone to prove by ill-concealed struggles that they are as good as
you,--whereas you perhaps have been long acknowledging to yourself
that they are much better. And there is sometimes a pretence at
personal dignity among those who think themselves to have risen high
in the world which is deliciously ludicrous. I remember two old
gentlemen,--the owners of names which stand deservedly high in public
estimation,--whose deportment at a public funeral turned the occasion
into one for irresistible comedy. They are suspicious at first, and
fearful of themselves. They lack that simplicity of manners which
with us has become a habit from our childhood. But they are never
fools, and I think that they are seldom ill-natured.

There is a woman, of whom not to speak in a work purporting to be a
memoir of my own life would be to omit all allusion to one of the
chief pleasures which has graced my later years. In the last fifteen
years she has been, out of my family, my most chosen friend. She
is a ray of light to me, from which I can always strike a spark by
thinking of her. I do not know that I should please her or do any
good by naming her. But not to allude to her in these pages would
amount almost to a falsehood. I could not write truly of myself
without saying that such a friend had been vouchsafed to me. I trust
she may live to read the words I have now written, and to wipe away a
tear as she thinks of my feeling while I write them.

I was absent on this occasion something over three months, and on
my return I went back with energy to my work at the _St. Paul's
Magazine_. The first novel in it from my own pen was called _Phineas
Finn_, in which I commenced a series of semi-political tales. As I
was debarred from expressing my opinions in the House of Commons, I
took this method of declaring myself. And as I could not take my seat
on those benches where I might possibly have been shone upon by the
Speaker's eye, I had humbly to crave his permission for a seat in the
gallery, so that I might thus become conversant with the ways and
doings of the House in which some of my scenes were to be placed. The
Speaker was very gracious, and gave me a running order for, I think,
a couple of months. It was enough, at any rate, to enable me often to
be very tired,--and, as I have been assured by members, to talk of
the proceedings almost as well as though Fortune had enabled me to
fall asleep within the House itself.

In writing _Phineas Finn_, and also some other novels which followed
it, I was conscious that I could not make a tale pleasing chiefly,
or perhaps in any part, by politics. If I write politics for my own
sake, I must put in love and intrigue, social incidents, with perhaps
a dash of sport, for the benefit of my readers. In this way I think
I made my political hero interesting. It was certainly a blunder to
take him from Ireland--into which I was led by the circumstance that
I created the scheme of the book during a visit to Ireland. There
was nothing to be gained by the peculiarity, and there was an added
difficulty in obtaining sympathy and affection for a politician
belonging to a nationality whose politics are not respected in
England. But in spite of this Phineas succeeded. It was not a
brilliant success,--because men and women not conversant with
political matters could not care much for a hero who spent so much of
his time either in the House of Commons or in a public office. But
the men who would have lived with Phineas Finn read the book, and the
women who would have lived with Lady Laura Standish read it also. As
this was what I had intended, I was contented. It is all fairly good
except the ending,--as to which till I got to it I made no provision.
As I fully intended to bring my hero again into the world, I was
wrong to marry him to a simple pretty Irish girl, who could only be
felt as an encumbrance on such return. When he did return I had no
alternative but to kill the simple pretty Irish girl, which was an
unpleasant and awkward necessity.

In writing _Phineas Finn_ I had constantly before me the necessity of
progression in character,--of marking the changes in men and women
which would naturally be produced by the lapse of years. In most
novels the writer can have no such duty, as the period occupied
is not long enough to allow of the change of which I speak. In
_Ivanhoe_, all the incidents of which are included in less than a
month, the characters should be, as they are, consistent throughout.
Novelists who have undertaken to write the life of a hero or heroine
have generally considered their work completed at the interesting
period of marriage, and have contented themselves with the advance
in taste and manners which are common to all boys and girls as they
become men and women. Fielding, no doubt, did more than this in _Tom
Jones_, which is one of the greatest novels in the English language,
for there he has shown how a noble and sanguine nature may fall away
under temptation and be again strengthened and made to stand upright.
But I do not think that novelists have often set before themselves
the state of progressive change,--nor should I have done it, had
I not found myself so frequently allured back to my old friends.
So much of my inner life was passed in their company, that I was
continually asking myself how this woman would act when this or that
event had passed over her head, or how that man would carry himself
when his youth had become manhood, or his manhood declined to old
age. It was in regard to the old Duke of Omnium, of his nephew and
heir, and of his heir's wife, Lady Glencora, that I was anxious to
carry out this idea; but others added themselves to my mind as I
went on, and I got round me a circle of persons as to whom I knew
not only their present characters, but how those characters were
to be affected by years and circumstances. The happy motherly
life of Violet Effingham, which was due to the girl's honest but
long-restrained love; the tragic misery of Lady Laura, which was
equally due to the sale she made of herself in her wretched marriage;
and the long suffering but final success of the hero, of which he
had deserved the first by his vanity, and the last by his constant
honesty, had been foreshadowed to me from the first. As to the
incidents of the story, the circumstances by which these personages
were to be affected, I knew nothing. They were created for the most
part as they were described. I never could arrange a set of events
before me. But the evil and the good of my puppets, and how the evil
would always lead to evil, and the good produce good,--that was clear
to me as the stars on a summer night.

Lady Laura Standish is the best character in _Phineas Finn_ and its
sequel _Phineas Redux_,--of which I will speak here together. They
are, in fact, but one novel, though they were brought out at a
considerable interval of time and in different form. The first was
commenced in the _St. Paul's Magazine_ in 1867, and the other was
brought out in the _Graphic_ in 1873. In this there was much bad
arrangement, as I had no right to expect that novel-readers would
remember the characters of a story after an interval of six years, or
that any little interest which might have been taken in the career
of my hero could then have been renewed. I do not know that such
interest was renewed. But I found that the sequel enjoyed the same
popularity as the former part, and among the same class of readers.
Phineas, and Lady Laura, and Lady Chiltern--as Violet had become--and
the old duke,--whom I killed gracefully, and the new duke, and the
young duchess, either kept their old friends or made new friends for
themselves. _Phineas Finn_, I certainly think, was successful from
first to last. I am aware, however, that there was nothing in it to
touch the heart like the abasement of Lady Mason when confessing her
guilt to her old lover, or any approach in delicacy of delineation to
the character of Mr. Crawley.

_Phineas Finn_, the first part of the story, was completed in May,
1867. In June and July I wrote _Linda Tressel_ for _Blackwood's
Magazine_, of which I have already spoken. In September and October
I wrote a short novel, called _The Golden Lion of Granpère_, which
was intended also for _Blackwood_,--with a view of being published
anonymously; but Mr. Blackwood did not find the arrangement to be
profitable, and the story remained on my hands, unread and unthought
of, for a few years. It appeared subsequently in _Good Words_. It was
written on the model of _Nina Balatka_ and _Linda Tressel_, but is
very inferior to either of them. In November of the same year, 1867,
I began a very long novel, which I called _He Knew He Was Right_,
and which was brought out by Mr. Virtue, the proprietor of the _St.
Paul's Magazine_, in sixpenny numbers, every week. I do not know that
in any literary effort I ever fell more completely short of my own
intention than in this story. It was my purpose to create sympathy
for the unfortunate man who, while endeavouring to do his duty to all
around him, should be led constantly astray by his unwillingness to
submit his own judgment to the opinion of others. The man is made to
be unfortunate enough, and the evil which he does is apparent. So far
I did not fail, but the sympathy has not been created yet. I look
upon the story as being nearly altogether bad. It is in part redeemed
by certain scenes in the house and vicinity of an old maid in Exeter.
But a novel which in its main parts is bad cannot, in truth, be
redeemed by the vitality of subordinate characters.

This work was finished while I was at Washington in the spring of
1868, and on the day after I finished it, I commenced _The Vicar of
Bullhampton_, a novel which I wrote for Messrs. Bradbury & Evans.
This I completed in November, 1868, and at once began _Sir Harry
Hotspur of Humblethwaite_, a story which I was still writing at the
close of the year. I look upon these two years, 1867 and 1868, of
which I have given a somewhat confused account in this and the two
preceding chapters, as the busiest in my life. I had indeed left
the Post Office, but though I had left it I had been employed by it
during a considerable portion of the time. I had established the _St.
Paul's Magazine_, in reference to which I had read an enormous amount
of manuscript, and for which, independently of my novels, I had
written articles almost monthly. I had stood for Beverley and had
made many speeches. I had also written five novels, and had hunted
three times a week during each of the winters. And how happy I was
with it all! I had suffered at Beverley, but I had suffered as a
part of the work which I was desirous of doing, and I had gained my
experience. I had suffered at Washington with that wretched American
Postmaster, and with the mosquitoes, not having been able to escape
from that capital till July; but all that had added to the activity
of my life. I had often groaned over those manuscripts; but I had
read them, considering it--perhaps foolishly--to be a part of my
duty as editor. And though in the quick production of my novels I
had always ringing in my ears that terrible condemnation and scorn
produced by the great man in Paternoster Row, I was nevertheless
proud of having done so much. I always had a pen in my hand. Whether
crossing the seas, or fighting with American officials, or tramping
about the streets of Beverley, I could do a little, and generally
more than a little. I had long since convinced myself that in such
work as mine the great secret consisted in acknowledging myself to
be bound to rules of labour similar to those which an artisan or a
mechanic is forced to obey. A shoemaker when he has finished one
pair of shoes does not sit down and contemplate his work in idle
satisfaction. "There is my pair of shoes finished at last! What a
pair of shoes it is!" The shoemaker who so indulged himself would
be without wages half his time. It is the same with a professional
writer of books. An author may of course want time to study a new
subject. He will at any rate assure himself that there is some such
good reason why he should pause. He does pause, and will be idle for
a month or two while he tells himself how beautiful is that last pair
of shoes which he has finished! Having thought much of all this, and
having made up my mind that I could be really happy only when I was
at work, I had now quite accustomed myself to begin a second pair as
soon as the first was out of my hands.



In 1869 I was called on to decide, in council with my two boys and
their mother, what should be their destination in life. In June of
that year the elder, who was then twenty-three, was called to the
Bar; and as he had gone through the regular courses of lecturing
tuition and study, it might be supposed that his course was already
decided. But, just as he was called, there seemed to be an opening
for him in another direction; and this, joined to the terrible
uncertainty of the Bar, the terror of which was not in his case
lessened by any peculiar forensic aptitudes, induced us to sacrifice
dignity in quest of success. Mr. Frederic Chapman, who was then the
sole representative of the publishing house known as Messrs. Chapman
& Hall, wanted a partner, and my son Henry went into the firm. He
remained there three years and a half; but he did not like it, nor
do I think he made a very good publisher. At any rate he left the
business with perhaps more pecuniary success than might have been
expected from the short period of his labours, and has since taken
himself to literature as a profession. Whether he will work at it so
hard as his father, and write as many books, may be doubted.

My second son, Frederic, had very early in life gone out to
Australia, having resolved on a colonial career when he found that
boys who did not grow so fast as he did got above him at school. This
departure was a great pang to his mother and me; but it was permitted
on the understanding that he was to come back when he was twenty-one,
and then decide whether he would remain in England or return to the
Colonies. In the winter of 1868 he did come to England, and had a
season's hunting in the old country; but there was no doubt in his
own mind as to his settling in Australia. His purpose was fixed, and
in the spring of 1869 he made his second journey out. As I have since
that date made two journeys to see him,--of one of which at any rate
I shall have to speak, as I wrote a long book on the Australasian
Colonies,--I will have an opportunity of saying a word or two further
on of him and his doings.

_The Vicar of Bullhampton_ was written in 1868 for publication in
_Once a Week_, a periodical then belonging to Messrs. Bradbury &
Evans. It was not to come out till 1869, and I, as was my wont, had
made my terms long previously to the proposed date. I had made my
terms and written my story and sent it to the publisher long before
it was wanted; and so far my mind was at rest. The date fixed was
the first of July, which date had been named in accordance with the
exigencies of the editor of the periodical. An author who writes
for these publications is bound to suit himself to these exigencies,
and can generally do so without personal loss or inconvenience, if
he will only take time by the forelock. With all the pages that I
have written for magazines I have never been a day late, nor have I
ever caused inconvenience by sending less or more matter than I had
stipulated to supply. But I have sometimes found myself compelled to
suffer by the irregularity of others. I have endeavoured to console
myself by reflecting that such must ever be the fate of virtue. The
industrious must feed the idle. The honest and simple will always be
the prey of the cunning and fraudulent. The punctual, who keep none
waiting for them, are doomed to wait perpetually for the unpunctual.
But these earthly sufferers know that they are making their way
heavenwards,--and their oppressors their way elsewards. If the former
reflection does not suffice for consolation, the deficiency is made
up by the second. I was terribly aggrieved on the matter of the
publication of my new Vicar, and had to think very much of the
ultimate rewards of punctuality and its opposite. About the end of
March, 1869, I got a dolorous letter from the editor. All the _Once
a Week_ people were in a terrible trouble. They had bought the right
of translating one of Victor Hugo's modern novels, _L'Homme Qui Rit_;
they had fixed a date, relying on positive pledges from the French
publishers; and now the great French author had postponed his work
from week to week and from month to month, and it had so come to
pass that the Frenchman's grinning hero would have to appear exactly
at the same time as my clergyman. Was it not quite apparent to me,
the editor asked, that _Once a Week_ could not hold the two? Would
I allow my clergyman to make his appearance in the _Gentleman's
Magazine_ instead?

My disgust at this proposition was, I think, chiefly due to Victor
Hugo's latter novels, which I regard as pretentious and untrue to
nature. To this perhaps was added some feeling of indignation that
I should be asked to give way to a Frenchman. The Frenchman had
broken his engagement. He had failed to have his work finished by the
stipulated time. From week to week and from month to month he had
put off the fulfilment of his duty. And because of these laches on
his part,--on the part of this sententious French Radical,--I was
to be thrown over! Virtue sometimes finds it difficult to console
herself even with the double comfort. I would not come out in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, and as the Grinning Man could not be got out
of the way, my novel was published in separate numbers.

The same thing has occurred to me more than once since. "You no doubt
are regular," a publisher has said to me, "but Mr. ---- is irregular.
He has thrown me out, and I cannot be ready for you till three months
after the time named." In these emergencies I have given perhaps half
what was wanted, and have refused to give the other half. I have
endeavoured to fight my own battle fairly, and at the same time not
to make myself unnecessarily obstinate. But the circumstances have
impressed on my mind the great need there is that men engaged in
literature should feel themselves to be bound to their industry as
men know that they are bound in other callings. There does exist, I
fear, a feeling that authors, because they are authors, are relieved
from the necessity of paying attention to everyday rules. A writer,
if he be making £800 a year, does not think himself bound to live
modestly on £600, and put by the remainder for his wife and children.
He does not understand that he should sit down at his desk at a
certain hour. He imagines that publishers and booksellers should keep
all their engagements with him to the letter;--but that he, as a
brain-worker, and conscious of the subtle nature of the brain, should
be able to exempt himself from bonds when it suits him. He has his
own theory about inspiration which will not always come,--especially
will not come if wine-cups overnight have been too deep. All this
has ever been odious to me, as being unmanly. A man may be frail in
health, and therefore unable to do as he has contracted in whatever
grade of life. He who has been blessed with physical strength to
work day by day, year by year--as has been my case--should pardon
deficiencies caused by sickness or infirmity. I may in this respect
have been a little hard on others,--and, if so, I here record my
repentance. But I think that no allowance should be given to claims
for exemption from punctuality, made if not absolutely on the score
still with the conviction of intellectual superiority.

The _Vicar of Bullhampton_ was written chiefly with the object of
exciting not only pity but sympathy for a fallen woman, and of
raising a feeling of forgiveness for such in the minds of other
women. I could not venture to make this female the heroine of my
story. To have made her a heroine at all would have been directly
opposed to my purpose. It was necessary therefore that she should
be a second-rate personage in the tale;--but it was with reference
to her life that the tale was written, and the hero and the
heroine with their belongings are all subordinate. To this novel I
affixed a preface,--in doing which I was acting in defiance of my
old-established principle. I do not know that any one read it; but
as I wish to have it read, I will insert it here again:--

   I have introduced in the _Vicar of Bullhampton_ the character
   of a girl whom I will call,--for want of a truer word that shall
   not in its truth be offensive,--a castaway. I have endeavoured
   to endow her with qualities that may create sympathy, and I
   have brought her back at last from degradation, at least to
   decency. I have not married her to a wealthy lover, and I have
   endeavoured to explain that though there was possible to her a
   way out of perdition, still things could not be with her as they
   would have been had she not fallen.

   There arises, of course, the question whether a novelist, who
   professes to write for the amusement of the young of both sexes,
   should allow himself to bring upon his stage a character such as
   that of Carry Brattle. It is not long since,--it is well within
   the memory of the author,--that the very existence of such a
   condition of life as was hers, was supposed to be unknown to our
   sisters and daughters, and was, in truth, unknown to many of
   them. Whether that ignorance was good may be questioned; but
   that it exists no longer is beyond question. Then arises the
   further question,--how far the conditions of such unfortunates
   should be made a matter of concern to the sweet young hearts of
   those whose delicacy and cleanliness of thought is a matter of
   pride to so many of us. Cannot women, who are good, pity the
   sufferings of the vicious, and do something perhaps to mitigate
   and shorten them without contamination from the vice? It will be
   admitted probably by most men who have thought upon the subject
   that no fault among us is punished so heavily as that fault,
   often so light in itself but so terrible in its consequences to
   the less faulty of the two offenders, by which a woman falls.
   All her own sex is against her, and all those of the other sex
   in whose veins runs the blood which she is thought to have
   contaminated, and who, of nature, would befriend her, were her
   trouble any other than it is.

   She is what she is, and she remains in her abject, pitiless,
   unutterable misery, because this sentence of the world has
   placed her beyond the helping hand of Love and Friendship. It
   may be said, no doubt, that the severity of this judgment acts
   as a protection to female virtue,--deterring, as all known
   punishments do deter, from vice. But this punishment, which is
   horrible beyond the conception of those who have not regarded
   it closely, is not known beforehand. Instead of the punishment,
   there is seen a false glitter of gaudy life,--a glitter which
   is damnably false,--and which, alas! has been more often
   portrayed in glowing colours, for the injury of young girls,
   than have those horrors which ought to deter, with the dark
   shadowings which belong to them.

   To write in fiction of one so fallen as the noblest of her sex,
   as one to be rewarded because of her weakness, as one whose life
   is happy, bright, and glorious, is certainly to allure to vice
   and misery. But it may perhaps be possible that if the matter
   be handled with truth to life, some girl, who would have been
   thoughtless, may be made thoughtful, or some parent's heart may
   be softened.

Those were my ideas when I conceived the story, and with that feeling
I described the characters of Carry Brattle and of her family. I have
not introduced her lover on the scene, nor have I presented her to
the reader in the temporary enjoyment of any of those fallacious
luxuries, the longing for which is sometimes more seductive to evil
than love itself. She is introduced as a poor abased creature, who
hardly knows how false were her dreams, with very little of the
Magdalene about her--because though there may be Magdalenes they are
not often found--but with an intense horror of the sufferings of
her position. Such being her condition, will they who naturally are
her friends protect her? The vicar who has taken her by the hand
endeavours to excite them to charity; but father, and brother, and
sister are alike hard-hearted. It had been my purpose at first that
the hand of every Brattle should be against her; but my own heart was
too soft to enable me to make the mother cruel,--or the unmarried
sister who had been the early companion of the forlorn one.

As regards all the Brattles, the story is, I think, well told. The
characters are true, and the scenes at the mill are in keeping with
human nature. For the rest of the book I have little to say. It is
not very bad, and it certainly is not very good. As I have myself
forgotten what the heroine does and says--except that she tumbles
into a ditch--I cannot expect that any one else should remember her.
But I have forgotten nothing that was done or said by any of the

The question brought in argument is one of fearful importance. As
to the view to be taken first, there can, I think, be no doubt. In
regard to a sin common to the two sexes, almost all the punishment
and all the disgrace is heaped upon the one who in nine cases out of
ten has been the least sinful. And the punishment inflicted is of
such a nature that it hardly allows room for repentance. How is the
woman to return to decency to whom no decent door is opened? Then
comes the answer: It is to the severity of the punishment alone that
we can trust to keep women from falling. Such is the argument used in
favour of the existing practice, and such the excuse given for their
severity by women who will relax nothing of their harshness. But in
truth the severity of the punishment is not known beforehand; it is
not in the least understood by women in general, except by those
who suffer it. The gaudy dirt, the squalid plenty, the contumely
of familiarity, the absence of all good words and all good things,
the banishment from honest labour, the being compassed round with
lies, the flaunting glare of fictitious revelry, the weary pavement,
the horrid slavery to some horrid tyrant,--and then the quick
depreciation of that one ware of beauty, the substituted paint,
garments bright without but foul within like painted sepulchres,
hunger, thirst, and strong drink, life without a hope, without the
certainty even of a morrow's breakfast, utterly friendless, disease,
starvation, and a quivering fear of that coming hell which still can
hardly be worse than all that is suffered here! This is the life to
which we doom our erring daughters, when because of their error we
close our door upon them! But for our erring sons we find pardon
easily enough.

Of course there are houses of refuge, from which it has been
thought expedient to banish everything pleasant, as though the only
repentance to which we can afford to give a place must necessarily
be one of sackcloth and ashes. It is hardly thus that we can hope to
recall those to decency who, if they are to be recalled at all, must
be induced to obey the summons before they have reached the last
stage of that misery which I have attempted to describe. To me the
mistake which we too often make seems to be this,--that the girl who
has gone astray is put out of sight, out of mind if possible, at any
rate out of speech, as though she had never existed, and that this
ferocity comes not only from hatred of the sin, but in part also from
a dread of the taint which the sin brings with it. Very low as is the
degradation to which a girl is brought when she falls through love
or vanity, or perhaps from a longing for luxurious ease, still much
lower is that to which she must descend perforce when, through the
hardness of the world around her, she converts that sin into a trade.
Mothers and sisters, when the misfortune comes upon them of a fallen
female from among their number, should remember this, and not fear
contamination so strongly as did Carry Brattle's married sister and

In 1870 I brought out three books,--or rather of the latter of the
three I must say that it was brought out by others, for I had nothing
to do with it except to write it. These were _Sir Harry Hotspur of
Humblethwaite_, _An Editors Tales_, and a little volume on Julius
Cæsar. _Sir Harry Hotspur_ was written on the same plan as _Nina
Balatka_ and _Linda Tressel_, and had for its object the telling
of some pathetic incident in life rather than the portraiture of a
number of human beings. _Nina_ and _Linda Tressel_ and _The Golden
Lion_ had been placed in foreign countries, and this was an English
story. In other respects it is of the same nature, and was not, I
think, by any means a failure. There is much of pathos in the love
of the girl, and of paternal dignity and affection in the father.

It was published first in _Macmillan's Magazine_, by the intelligent
proprietor of which I have since been told that it did not make
either his fortune or that of his magazine. I am sorry that it should
have been so; but I fear that the same thing may be said of a good
many of my novels. When it had passed through the magazine, the
subsequent use of it was sold to other publishers by Mr. Macmillan,
and then I learned that it was to be brought out by them as a novel
in two volumes. Now it had been sold by me as a novel in one volume,
and hence there arose a correspondence.

I found it very hard to make the purchasers understand that I had
reasonable ground for objection to the process. What was it to me?
How could it injure me if they stretched my pages by means of lead
and margin into double the number I had intended. I have heard the
same argument on other occasions. When I have pointed out that in
this way the public would have to suffer, seeing that they would
have to pay Mudie for the use of two volumes in reading that which
ought to have been given to them in one, I have been assured that the
public are pleased with literary short measure, that it is the object
of novel-readers to get through novels as fast as they can, and that
the shorter each volume is the better! Even this, however, did not
overcome me, and I stood to my guns. _Sir Harry_ was published in
one volume, containing something over the normal 300 pages, with
an average of 220 words to a page,--which I had settled with my
conscience to be the proper length of a novel volume. I may here
mention that on one occasion, and on one occasion only, a publisher
got the better of me in a matter of volumes. He had a two-volume
novel of mine running through a certain magazine, and had it printed
complete in three volumes before I knew where I was,--before I had
seen a sheet of the letterpress. I stormed for a while, but I had not
the heart to make him break up the type.

The _Editor's Tales_ was a volume republished from the _St. Paul's
Magazine_, and professed to give an editor's experience of his
dealings with contributors. I do not think that there is a single
incident in the book which could bring back to any one concerned the
memory of a past event. And yet there is not an incident in it the
outline of which was not presented to my mind by the remembrance of
some fact:--how an ingenious gentleman got into conversation with me,
I not knowing that he knew me to be an editor, and pressed his little
article on my notice; how I was addressed by a lady with a becoming
pseudonym and with much equally becoming audacity; how I was appealed
to by the dearest of little women whom here I have called Mary
Gresley; how in my own early days there was a struggle over an
abortive periodical which was intended to be the best thing ever
done; how terrible was the tragedy of a poor drunkard, who with
infinite learning at his command made one sad final effort to reclaim
himself, and perished while he was making it; and lastly how a poor
weak editor was driven nearly to madness by threatened litigation
from a rejected contributor. Of these stories _The Spotted Dog_,
with the struggles of the drunkard scholar, is the best. I know now,
however, that when the things were good they came out too quick one
upon another to gain much attention;--and so also, luckily, when they
were bad.

The _Cæsar_ was a thing of itself. My friend John Blackwood had
set on foot a series of small volumes called _Ancient Classics for
English Readers_, and had placed the editing of them, and the
compiling of many of them, in the hands of William Lucas Collins,
a clergyman who, from my connection with the series, became a most
intimate friend. The _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ had already come out
when I was at Edinburgh with John Blackwood, and, on my expressing
my very strong admiration for those two little volumes,--which I
here recommend to all young ladies as the most charming tales they
can read,--he asked me whether I would not undertake one myself.
_Herodotus_ was in the press, but, if I could get it ready, mine
should be next. Whereupon I offered to say what might be said to the
readers of English on _The Commentaries of Julius Cæsar_.

I at once went to work, and in three months from that day the little
book had been written. I began by reading through the Commentaries
twice, which I did without any assistance either by translation or
English notes. Latin was not so familiar to me then as it has since
become,--for from that date I have almost daily spent an hour with
some Latin author, and on many days many hours. After the reading
what my author had left behind him, I fell into the reading of what
others had written about him, in Latin, in English, and even in
French,--for I went through much of that most futile book by the late
Emperor of the French. I do not know that for a short period I ever
worked harder. The amount I had to write was nothing. Three weeks
would have done it easily. But I was most anxious, in this soaring
out of my own peculiar line, not to disgrace myself. I do not think
that I did disgrace myself. Perhaps I was anxious for something more.
If so, I was disappointed.

The book I think to be a good little book. It is readable by
all, old and young, and it gives, I believe accurately, both an
account of Cæsar's Commentaries,--which of course was the primary
intention,--and the chief circumstances of the great Roman's life.
A well-educated girl who had read it and remembered it would perhaps
know as much about Cæsar and his writings as she need know. Beyond
the consolation of thinking as I do about it, I got very little
gratification from the work. Nobody praised it. One very old and very
learned friend to whom I sent it thanked me for my "comic Cæsar," but
said no more. I do not suppose that he intended to run a dagger into
me. Of any suffering from such wounds, I think, while living, I never
showed a sign; but still I have suffered occasionally. There was,
however, probably present to my friend's mind, and to that of others,
a feeling that a man who had spent his life in writing English novels
could not be fit to write about Cæsar. It was as when an amateur
gets a picture hung on the walls of the Academy. What business had
I there? _Ne sutor ultra crepidam_. In the press it was most faintly
damned by most faint praise. Nevertheless, having read the book again
within the last month or two, I make bold to say that it is a good
book. The series, I believe, has done very well. I am sure that it
ought to do well in years to come, for, putting aside Cæsar, the work
has been done with infinite scholarship, and very generally with a
light hand. With the leave of my sententious and sonorous friend,
who had not endured that subjects which had been grave to him should
be treated irreverently, I will say that such a work, unless it be
light, cannot answer the purpose for which it is intended. It was not
exactly a school-book that was wanted, but something that would carry
the purposes of the school-room even into the leisure hours of adult
pupils. Nothing was ever better suited for such a purpose than the
_Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, as done by Mr. Collins. The _Virgil_, also
done by him, is very good; and so is the _Aristophanes_ by the same



In the spring of 1871 we,--I and my wife,--had decided that we would
go to Australia to visit our shepherd son. Of course before doing so
I made a contract with a publisher for a book about the Colonies. For
such a work as this I had always been aware that I could not fairly
demand more than half the price that would be given for the same
amount of fiction; and as such books have an indomitable tendency
to stretch themselves, so that more is given than what is sold,
and as the cost of travelling is heavy, the writing of them is not
remunerative. This tendency to stretch comes not, I think, generally
from the ambition of the writer, but from his inability to comprise
the different parts in their allotted spaces. If you have to deal
with a country, a colony, a city, a trade, or a political opinion,
it is so much easier to deal with it in twenty than in twelve pages!
I also made an engagement with the editor of a London daily paper to
supply him with a series of articles,--which were duly written, duly
published, and duly paid for. But with all this, travelling with the
object of writing is not a good trade. If the travelling author can
pay his bills, he must be a good manager on the road.

Before starting there came upon us the terrible necessity of coming
to some resolution about our house at Waltham. It had been first
hired, and then bought, primarily because it suited my Post Office
avocations. To this reason had been added other attractions,--in the
shape of hunting, gardening, and suburban hospitalities. Altogether
the house had been a success, and the scene of much happiness. But
there arose questions as to expense. Would not a house in London be
cheaper? There could be no doubt that my income would decrease, and
was decreasing. I had thrown the Post Office, as it were, away, and
the writing of novels could not go on for ever. Some of my friends
told me already that at fifty-five I ought to give up the fabrication
of love-stories. The hunting, I thought, must soon go, and I would
not therefore allow that to keep me in the country. And then, why
should I live at Waltham Cross now, seeing that I had fixed on that
place in reference to the Post Office? It was therefore determined
that we would flit, and as we were to be away for eighteen months,
we determined also to sell our furniture. So there was a packing up,
with many tears, and consultations as to what should be saved out of
the things we loved.

As must take place on such an occasion, there was some heart-felt
grief. But the thing was done, and orders were given for the letting
or sale of the house. I may as well say here that it never was let,
and that it remained unoccupied for two years before it was sold. I
lost by the transaction about £800. As I continually hear that other
men make money by buying and selling houses, I presume I am not well
adapted for transactions of that sort. I have never made money by
selling anything except a manuscript. In matters of horseflesh I am
so inefficient that I have generally given away horses that I have
not wanted.

When we started from Liverpool, in May 1871, _Ralph the Heir_ was
running through the _St. Paul's_. This was the novel of which Charles
Reade afterwards took the plot and made on it a play. I have always
thought it to be one of the worst novels I have written, and almost
to have justified that dictum that a novelist after fifty should not
write love-stories. It was in part a political novel; and that part
which appertains to politics, and which recounts the electioneering
experiences of the candidates at Percycross, is well enough.
Percycross and Beverley were, of course, one and the same place.
Neefit, the breeches-maker, and his daughter, are also good in their
way,--and Moggs, the daughter's lover, who was not only lover, but
also one of the candidates at Percycross as well. But the main thread
of the story,--that which tells of the doings of the young gentlemen
and young ladies,--the heroes and the heroines,--is not good. Ralph
the heir has not much life about him; while Ralph who is not the
heir, but is intended to be the real hero, has none. The same may be
said of the young ladies,--of whom one, she who was meant to be the
chief, has passed utterly out of my mind, without leaving a trace of
remembrance behind.

I also left in the hands of the editor of _The Fortnightly_, ready
for production on the 1st of July following, a story called _The
Eustace Diamonds_. In that I think that my friend's dictum was
disproved. There is not much love in it; but what there is, is good.
The character of Lucy Morris is pretty; and her love is as genuine
and as well told as that of Lucy Robarts or Lily Dale.

But _The Eustace Diamonds_ achieved the success which it certainly
did attain, not as a love-story, but as a record of a cunning little
woman of pseudo-fashion, to whom, in her cunning, there came a series
of adventures, unpleasant enough in themselves, but pleasant to the
reader. As I wrote the book, the idea constantly presented itself to
me that Lizzie Eustace was but a second Becky Sharpe; but in planning
the character I had not thought of this, and I believe that Lizzie
would have been just as she is though Becky Sharpe had never been
described. The plot of the diamond necklace is, I think, well
arranged, though it produced itself without any forethought. I had no
idea of setting thieves after the bauble till I had got my heroine to
bed in the inn at Carlisle; nor of the disappointment of the thieves,
till Lizzie had been wakened in the morning with the news that her
door had been broken open. All these things, and many more, Wilkie
Collins would have arranged before with infinite labour, preparing
things present so that they should fit in with things to come. I
have gone on the very much easier plan of making everything as it
comes fit in with what has gone before. At any rate, the book was
a success, and did much to repair the injury which I felt had come
to my reputation in the novel-market by the works of the last few
years. I doubt whether I had written anything so successful as _The
Eustace Diamonds_ since _The Small House at Allington_. I had written
what was much better,--as, for instance, _Phineas Finn_ and _Nina
Balatka_; but that is by no means the same thing.

I also left behind, in a strong box, the manuscript of _Phineas
Redux_, a novel of which I have already spoken, and which I
subsequently sold to the proprietors of the _Graphic_ newspaper. The
editor of that paper greatly disliked the title, assuring me that
the public would take Redux for the gentleman's surname,--and was
dissatisfied with me when I replied that I had no objection to them
doing so. The introduction of a Latin word, or of a word from any
other language, into the title of an English novel is undoubtedly in
bad taste; but after turning the matter much over in my own mind, I
could find no other suitable name.

I also left behind me, in the same strong box, another novel, called
_An Eye for an Eye_, which then had been some time written, and of
which, as it has not even yet been published, I will not further
speak. It will probably be published some day, though, looking
forward, I can see no room for it, at any rate, for the next two

If therefore the Great Britain, in which we sailed for Melbourne,
had gone to the bottom, I had so provided that there would be new
novels ready to come out under my name for some years to come. This
consideration, however, did not keep me idle while I was at sea. When
making long journeys, I have always succeeded in getting a desk put
up in my cabin, and this was done ready for me in the Great Britain,
so that I could go to work the day after we left Liverpool. This I
did; and before I reached Melbourne I had finished a story called
_Lady Anna_. Every word of this was written at sea, during the two
months required for our voyage, and was done day by day--with the
intermission of one day's illness--for eight weeks, at the rate of 66
pages of manuscript in each week, every page of manuscript containing
250 words. Every word was counted. I have seen work come back to an
author from the press with terrible deficiencies as to the amount
supplied. Thirty-two pages have perhaps been wanted for a number,
and the printers with all their art could not stretch the matter to
more than twenty-eight or -nine! The work of filling up must be very
dreadful. I have sometimes been ridiculed for the methodical details
of my business. But by these contrivances I have been preserved
from many troubles; and I have saved others with whom I have
worked--editors, publishers, and printers--from much trouble also.

A month or two after my return home, _Lady Anna_ appeared in _The
Fortnightly_, following _The Eustace Diamonds_. In it a young girl,
who is really a lady of high rank and great wealth, though in her
youth she enjoyed none of the privileges of wealth or rank, marries
a tailor who had been good to her, and whom she had loved when she
was poor and neglected. A fine young noble lover is provided for her,
and all the charms of sweet living with nice people are thrown in her
way, in order that she may be made to give up the tailor. And the
charms are very powerful with her. But the feeling that she is bound
by her troth to the man who had always been true to her overcomes
everything,--and she marries the tailor. It was my wish of course to
justify her in doing so, and to carry my readers along with me in my
sympathy with her. But everybody found fault with me for marrying her
to the tailor. What would they have said if I had allowed her to jilt
the tailor and marry the good-looking young lord? How much louder,
then, would have been the censure! The book was read, and I was
satisfied. If I had not told my story well, there would have been no
feeling in favour of the young lord. The horror which was expressed
to me at the evil thing I had done, in giving the girl to the tailor,
was the strongest testimony I could receive of the merits of the

I went to Australia chiefly in order that I might see my son among
his sheep. I did see him among his sheep, and remained with him for
four or five very happy weeks. He was not making money, nor has he
made money since. I grieve to say that several thousands of pounds
which I had squeezed out of the pockets of perhaps too liberal
publishers have been lost on the venture. But I rejoice to say that
this has been in no way due to any fault of his. I never knew a man
work with more persistent honesty at his trade than he has done.

I had, however, the further intentions of writing a book about the
entire group of Australasian Colonies; and in order that I might be
enabled to do that with sufficient information, I visited them all.
Making my head-quarters at Melbourne, I went to Queensland, New South
Wales, Tasmania, then to the very little known territory of Western
Australia, and then, last of all, to New Zealand. I was absent in all
eighteen months, and think that I did succeed in learning much of the
political, social, and material condition of these countries. I wrote
my book as I was travelling, and brought it back with me to England
all but completed in December, 1872.

It was a better book than that which I had written eleven years
before on the American States, but not so good as that on the West
Indies in 1859. As regards the information given, there was much more
to be said about Australia than the West Indies. Very much more is
said,--and very much more may be learned from the latter than from
the former book. I am sure that any one who will take the trouble to
read the book on Australia, will learn much from it. But the West
Indian volume was readable. I am not sure that either of the other
works are, in the proper sense of that word. When I go back to them
I find that the pages drag with me;--and if so with me, how must it
be with others who have none of that love which a father feels even
for his ill-favoured offspring. Of all the needs a book has the chief
need is that it be readable.

Feeling that these volumes on Australia were dull and long, I was
surprised to find that they had an extensive sale. There were, I
think, 2000 copies circulated of the first expensive edition; and
then the book was divided into four little volumes, which were
published separately, and which again had a considerable circulation.
That some facts were stated inaccurately, I do not doubt; that many
opinions were crude, I am quite sure; that I had failed to understand
much which I attempted to explain, is possible. But with all these
faults the book was a thoroughly honest book, and was the result of
unflagging labour for a period of fifteen months. I spared myself
no trouble in inquiry, no trouble in seeing, and no trouble in
listening. I thoroughly imbued my mind with the subject, and wrote
with the simple intention of giving trustworthy information on
the state of the Colonies. Though there be inaccuracies,--those
inaccuracies to which work quickly done must always be subject,--I
think I did give much valuable information.

I came home across America from San Francisco to New York, visiting
Utah and Brigham Young on the way. I did not achieve great intimacy
with the great polygamist of the Salt Lake City. I called upon
him, sending to him my card, apologising for doing so without an
introduction, and excusing myself by saying that I did not like to
pass through the territory without seeing a man of whom I had heard
so much. He received me in his doorway, not asking me to enter, and
inquired whether I were not a miner. When I told him that I was not
a miner, he asked me whether I earned my bread. I told him I did.
"I guess you're a miner," said he. I again assured him that I was
not. "Then how do you earn your bread?" I told him that I did so by
writing books. "I'm sure you're a miner," said he. Then he turned
upon his heel, went back into the house, and closed the door. I was
properly punished, as I was vain enough to conceive that he would
have heard my name.

I got home in December, 1872, and in spite of any resolution made to
the contrary, my mind was full of hunting as I came back. No real
resolutions had in truth been made, for out of a stud of four horses
I kept three, two of which were absolutely idle through the two
summers and winter of my absence. Immediately on my arrival I bought
another, and settled myself down to hunting from London three days a
week. At first I went back to Essex, my old country, but finding that
to be inconvenient, I took my horses to Leighton Buzzard, and became
one of that numerous herd of sportsmen who rode with the "Baron"
and Mr. Selby Lowndes. In those days Baron Meyer was alive, and the
riding with his hounds was very good. I did not care so much for Mr.
Lowndes. During the winters of 1873, 1874, and 1875, I had my horses
back in Essex, and went on with my hunting, always trying to resolve
that I would give it up. But still I bought fresh horses, and, as
I did not give it up, I hunted more than ever. Three times a week
the cab has been at my door in London very punctually, and not
unfrequently before seven in the morning. In order to secure this
attendance, the man has always been invited to have his breakfast in
the hall. I have gone to the Great Eastern Railway,--ah! so often
with the fear that frost would make all my exertions useless, and so
often too with that result! And then, from one station or another
station, have travelled on wheels at least a dozen miles. After the
day's sport, the same toil has been necessary to bring me home to
dinner at eight. This has been work for a young man and a rich man,
but I have done it as an old man and comparatively a poor man. Now at
last, in April, 1876, I do think that my resolution has been taken.
I am giving away my old horses, and anybody is welcome to my saddles
and horse-furniture.

   "Singula de nobis anni prædantur euntes;
    Eripuere jocos, venerem, convivia, ludum;
    Tendunt extorquere poëmata."

   "Our years keep taking toll as they move on;
    My feasts, my frolics, are already gone,
    And now, it seems, my verses must go too."

This is Conington's translation, but it seems to me to be a little

   "Years as they roll cut all our pleasures short;
    Our pleasant mirth, our loves, our wine, our sport.
    And then they stretch their power, and crush at last
    Even the power of singing of the past."

I think that I may say with truth that I rode hard to my end.

   "Vixi puellis nuper idoneus,
    Et militavi non sine gloria;
      Nunc arma defunctumque bello
        Barbiton hic paries habebit."

   "I've lived about the covert side,
    I've ridden straight, and ridden fast;
    Now breeches, boots, and scarlet pride
    Are but mementoes of the past."



In what I have said at the end of the last chapter about my hunting,
I have been carried a little in advance of the date at which I had
arrived. We returned from Australia in the winter of 1872, and early
in 1873 I took a house in Montagu Square,--in which I hope to live
and hope to die. Our first work in settling there was to place upon
new shelves the books which I had collected round myself at Waltham.
And this work, which was in itself great, entailed also the labour
of a new catalogue. As all who use libraries know, a catalogue
is nothing unless it show the spot on which every book is to be
found,--information which every volume also ought to give as to
itself. Only those who have done it know how great is the labour of
moving and arranging a few thousand volumes. At the present moment
I own about 5000 volumes, and they are dearer to me even than the
horses which are going, or than the wine in the cellar, which is very
apt to go, and upon which I also pride myself.

When this was done, and the new furniture had got into its place,
and my little book-room was settled sufficiently for work, I began a
novel, to the writing of which I was instigated by what I conceived
to be the commercial profligacy of the age. Whether the world does
or does not become more wicked as years go on, is a question which
probably has disturbed the minds of thinkers since the world began to
think. That men have become less cruel, less violent, less selfish,
less brutal, there can be no doubt;--but have they become less
honest? If so, can a world, retrograding from day to day in honesty,
be considered to be in a state of progress? We know the opinion on
this subject of our philosopher Mr. Carlyle. If he be right, we are
all going straight away to darkness and the dogs. But then we do not
put very much faith in Mr. Carlyle,--nor in Mr. Ruskin and his other
followers. The loudness and extravagance of their lamentations,
the wailing and gnashing of teeth which comes from them, over a
world which is supposed to have gone altogether shoddy-wards, are so
contrary to the convictions of men who cannot but see how comfort
has been increased, how health has been improved, and education
extended,--that the general effect of their teaching is the opposite
of what they have intended. It is regarded simply as Carlylism to say
that the English-speaking world is growing worse from day to day. And
it is Carlylism to opine that the general grand result of increased
intelligence is a tendency to deterioration.

Nevertheless a certain class of dishonesty, dishonesty magnificent
in its proportions, and climbing into high places, has become at
the same time so rampant and so splendid that there seems to be
reason for fearing that men and women will be taught to feel that
dishonesty, if it can become splendid, will cease to be abominable.
If dishonesty can live in a gorgeous palace with pictures on all its
walls, and gems in all its cupboards, with marble and ivory in all
its corners, and can give Apician dinners, and get into Parliament,
and deal in millions, then dishonesty is not disgraceful, and the man
dishonest after such a fashion is not a low scoundrel. Instigated, I
say, by some such reflections as these, I sat down in my new house to
write _The Way We Live Now_. And as I had ventured to take the whip
of the satirist into my hand, I went beyond the iniquities of the
great speculator who robs everybody, and made an onslaught also on
other vices,--on the intrigues of girls who want to get married,
on the luxury of young men who prefer to remain single, and on the
puffing propensities of authors who desire to cheat the public into
buying their volumes.

The book has the fault which is to be attributed to almost all
satires, whether in prose or verse. The accusations are exaggerated.
The vices are coloured, so as to make effect rather than to represent
truth. Who, when the lash of objurgation is in his hands, can so
moderate his arm as never to strike harder than justice would
require? The spirit which produces the satire is honest enough, but
the very desire which moves the satirist to do his work energetically
makes him dishonest. In other respects _The Way We Live Now_ was,
as a satire, powerful and good. The character of Melmotte is
well maintained. The Beargarden is amusing,--and not untrue. The
Longestaffe girls and their friend, Lady Monogram, are amusing,--but
exaggerated. Dolly Longestaffe, is, I think, very good. And Lady
Carbury's literary efforts are, I am sorry to say, such as are too
frequently made. But here again the young lady with her two lovers is
weak and vapid. I almost doubt whether it be not impossible to have
two absolutely distinct parts in a novel, and to imbue them both with
interest. If they be distinct, the one will seem to be no more than
padding to the other. And so it was in _The Way We Live Now_. The
interest of the story lies among the wicked and foolish people,--with
Melmotte and his daughter, with Dolly and his family, with the
American woman, Mrs. Hurtle, and with John Crumb and the girl of his
heart. But Roger Carbury, Paul Montague, and Henrietta Carbury are
uninteresting. Upon the whole, I by no means look upon the book as
one of my failures; nor was it taken as a failure by the public or
the press.

While I was writing _The Way We Live Now_, I was called upon by the
proprietors of the _Graphic_ for a Christmas story. I feel, with
regard to literature, somewhat as I suppose an upholsterer and
undertaker feels when he is called upon to supply a funeral. He has
to supply it, however distasteful it may be. It is his business, and
he will starve if he neglect it. So have I felt that, when anything
in the shape of a novel was required, I was bound to produce it.
Nothing can be more distasteful to me than to have to give a relish
of Christmas to what I write. I feel the humbug implied by the nature
of the order. A Christmas story, in the proper sense, should be the
ebullition of some mind anxious to instil others with a desire for
Christmas religious thought, or Christmas festivities,--or, better
still, with Christmas charity. Such was the case with Dickens when
he wrote his two first Christmas stories. But since that the things
written annually--all of which have been fixed to Christmas like
children's toys to a Christmas tree--have had no real savour of
Christmas about them. I had done two or three before. Alas! at this
very moment I have one to write, which I have promised to supply
within three weeks of this time,--the picture-makers always require a
long interval,--as to which I have in vain been cudgelling my brain
for the last month. I can't send away the order to another shop, but
I do not know how I shall ever get the coffin made.

For the _Graphic_, in 1873, I wrote a little story about Australia.
Christmas at the antipodes is of course midsummer, and I was not loth
to describe the troubles to which my own son had been subjected, by
the mingled accidents of heat and bad neighbours, on his station
in the bush. So I wrote _Harry Heathcote of Gangoil_, and was well
through my labour on that occasion. I only wish I may have no worse
success in that which now hangs over my head.

When _Harry Heathcote_ was over, I returned with a full heart to Lady
Glencora and her husband. I had never yet drawn the completed picture
of such a statesman as my imagination had conceived. The personages
with whose names my pages had been familiar, and perhaps even
the minds of some of my readers--the Brocks, De Terriers, Monks,
Greshams, and Daubeneys--had been more or less portraits, not of
living men, but of living political characters. The strong-minded,
thick-skinned, useful, ordinary member, either of the Government or
of the Opposition, had been very easy to describe, and had required
no imagination to conceive. The character reproduces itself from
generation to generation; and as it does so, becomes shorn in a
wonderful way of those little touches of humanity which would be
destructive of its purposes. Now and again there comes a burst of
human nature, as in the quarrel between Burke and Fox; but, as a
rule, the men submit themselves to be shaped and fashioned, and
to be formed into tools, which are used either for building up or
pulling down, and can generally bear to be changed from this box into
the other, without, at any rate, the appearance of much personal
suffering. Four-and-twenty gentlemen will amalgamate themselves into
one whole, and work for one purpose, having each of them to set aside
his own idiosyncrasy, and to endure the close personal contact of men
who must often be personally disagreeable, having been thoroughly
taught that in no other way can they serve either their country or
their own ambition. These are the men who are publicly useful, and
whom the necessities of the age supply,--as to whom I have never
ceased to wonder that stones of such strong calibre should be so
quickly worn down to the shape and smoothness of rounded pebbles.

Such have been to me the Brocks and the Mildmays, about whom I have
written with great pleasure, having had my mind much exercised in
watching them. But I had also conceived the character of a statesman
of a different nature--of a man who should be in something perhaps
superior, but in very much inferior, to these men--of one who could
not become a pebble, having too strong an identity of his own. To
rid one's self of fine scruples--to fall into the traditions of a
party--to feel the need of subservience, not only in acting but also
even in thinking--to be able to be a bit, and at first only a very
little bit,--these are the necessities of the growing statesman. The
time may come, the glorious time when some great self action shall be
possible, and shall be even demanded, as when Peel gave up the Corn
Laws; but the rising man, as he puts on his harness, should not allow
himself to dream of this. To become a good, round, smooth, hard,
useful pebble is his duty, and to achieve this he must harden his
skin and swallow his scruples. But every now and again we see the
attempt made by men who cannot get their skins to be hard--who after
a little while generally fall out of the ranks. The statesman of whom
I was thinking--of whom I had long thought--was one who did not fall
out of the ranks, even though his skin would not become hard. He
should have rank, and intellect, and parliamentary habits, by which
to bind him to the service of his country; and he should also have
unblemished, unextinguishable, inexhaustible love of country. That
virtue I attribute to our statesmen generally. They who are without
it are, I think, mean indeed. This man should have it as the ruling
principle of his life; and it should so rule him that all other
things should be made to give way to it. But he should be scrupulous,
and, being scrupulous, weak. When called to the highest place in the
council of his Sovereign, he should feel with true modesty his own
insufficiency; but not the less should the greed of power grow upon
him when he had once allowed himself to taste and enjoy it. Such was
the character I endeavoured to depict in describing the triumph, the
troubles, and the failure of my Prime Minister. And I think that I
have succeeded. What the public may think, or what the press may say,
I do not yet know, the work having as yet run but half its course.[14]

   [Footnote 14: Writing this note in 1878, after a lapse of nearly
   three years, I am obliged to say that, as regards the public,
   _The Prime Minister_ was a failure. It was worse spoken of by
   the press than any novel I had written. I was specially hurt by
   a criticism on it in the _Spectator_. The critic who wrote the
   article I know to be a good critic, inclined to be more than fair
   to me; but in this case I could not agree with him, so much do I
   love the man whose character I had endeavoured to portray.]

That the man's character should be understood as I understand it--or
that of his wife's, the delineation of which has also been a matter
of much happy care to me--I have no right to expect, seeing that the
operation of describing has not been confined to one novel, which
might perhaps be read through by the majority of those who commenced
it. It has been carried on through three or four, each of which will
be forgotten even by the most zealous reader almost as soon as read.
In _The Prime Minister_, my Prime Minister will not allow his wife
to take office among, or even over, those ladies who are attached by
office to the Queen's court. "I should not choose," he says to her,
"that my wife should have any duties unconnected with our joint
family and home." Who will remember in reading those words that,
in a former story, published some years before, he tells his wife,
when she has twitted him with his willingness to clean the Premier's
shoes, that he would even allow her to clean them if it were for the
good of the country? And yet it is by such details as these that I
have, for many years past, been manufacturing within my own mind the
characters of the man and his wife.

I think that Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium, is a perfect
gentleman. If he be not, then am I unable to describe a gentleman.
She is by no means a perfect lady; but if she be not all over a
woman, then am I not able to describe a woman. I do not think it
probable that my name will remain among those who in the next century
will be known as the writers of English prose fiction;--but if it
does, that permanence of success will probably rest on the character
of Plantagenet Palliser, Lady Glencora, and the Rev. Mr. Crawley.

I have now come to the end of that long series of books written by
myself, with which the public is already acquainted. Of those which
I may hereafter be able to add to them I cannot speak; though I have
an idea that I shall even yet once more have recourse to my political
hero as the mainstay of another story. When _The Prime Minister_ was
finished, I at once began another novel, which is now completed in
three volumes, and which is called _Is He Popenjoy?_ There are two
Popenjoys in the book, one succeeding to the title held by the other;
but as they are both babies, and do not in the course of the story
progress beyond babyhood, the future readers, should the tale ever
be published, will not be much interested in them. Nevertheless the
story, as a story, is not, I think, amiss. Since that I have written
still another three-volume novel, to which, very much in opposition
to my publisher, I have given the name of _The American Senator_.[15]
It is to appear in _Temple Bar_, and is to commence its appearance on
the first of next month. Such being its circumstances, I do not know
that I can say anything else about it here.

   [Footnote 15: _The American Senator_ and _Popenjoy_ have
   appeared, each with fair success. Neither of them has
   encountered that reproach which, in regard to _The Prime
   Minister_, seemed to tell me that my work as a novelist should
   be brought to a close. And yet I feel assured that they are
   very inferior to _The Prime Minister_.]

And so I end the record of my literary performances,--which I think
are more in amount than the works of any other living English author.
If any English authors not living have written more--as may probably
have been the case--I do not know who they are. I find that, taking
the books which have appeared under our names, I have published
much more than twice as much as Carlyle. I have also published
considerably more than Voltaire, even including his letters. We are
told that Varro, at the age of eighty, had written 480 volumes, and
that he went on writing for eight years longer. I wish I knew what
was the length of Varro's volumes; I comfort myself by reflecting
that the amount of manuscript described as a book in Varro's time
was not much. Varro, too, is dead, and Voltaire; whereas I am still
living, and may add to the pile.

The following is a list of the books I have written, with the dates
of publication and the sums I have received for them. The dates given
are the years in which the works were published as a whole, most of
them having appeared before in some serial form.

                                       Date of    Total Sums
          Names of Works.              Publication.   Received.
          ---------------              ------------  -----------
   The Macdermots of Ballycloran,            1847    £48    6  9
   The Kellys and the O'Kellys,              1848    123   19  5
   La Vendée,                                1850     20    0  0
   The Warden,                               1855 \ /
   Barchester Towers,                        1857 / \ 727  11  3
   The Three Clerks,                         1858     250   0  0
   Doctor Thorne,                            1858     400   0  0
   The West Indies and the Spanish Main,     1859     250   0  0
   The Bertrams,                             1859     400   0  0
   Castle Richmond,                          1860     600   0  0
   Framley Parsonage,                        1861    1000   0  0
   Tales of All Countries--1st Series,       1861 \
                           2d    "           1863  } 1830   0  0
                           3d    "           1870 /
   Orley Farm,                               1862    3135   0  0
   North America,                            1862    1250   0  0
   Rachel Ray,                               1863    1645   0  0
   The Small House at Allington,             1864    3000   0  0
   Can You Forgive Her?                      1864    3525   0  0
   Miss Mackenzie,                           1865    1300   0  0
   The Belton Estate,                        1866    1757   0  0
   The Claverings,                           1867    2800   0  0
   The Last Chronicle of Barset,             1867    3000   0  0
   Nina Balatka,                             1867     450   0  0
   Linda Tressel,                            1868     450   0  0
   Phineas Finn,                             1869    3200   0  0
   He Knew He Was Right,                     1869    3200   0  0
   Brown, Jones, and Robinson,               1870     600   0  0
   The Vicar of Bullhampton,                 1870    2500   0  0
   An Editor's Tales,                        l870     378   0  0
   Cæsar (Ancient Classics),[16]             1870       0   0  0
   Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite,       1871     750   0  0
   Ralph the Heir,                           1871    2500   0  0
   The Golden Lion of Granpère,              1872     550   0  0
   The Eustace Diamonds,                     1873    2500   0  0
   Australia and New Zealand,                1873    1300   0  0
   Phineas Redux,                            1874    2500   0  0
   Harry Heathcote of Gangoil,               1874     450   0  0
   Lady Anna,                                1874    1200   0  0
   The Way We Live Now,                      1875    3000   0  0
   The Prime Minister,                       1876    2500   0  0
   The American Senator,                     1877    1800   0  0
   Is He Popenjoy?                           1878    1600   0  0
   South Africa,                             1878     850   0  0
   John Caldigate,                           1879    1800   0  0
   Sundries,                                         7800   0  0
                                                  £68,939  17  5

   [Footnote 16: This was given by me as a present to my friend
   John Blackwood.]

It will not, I am sure, be thought that, in making my boast as to
quantity, I have endeavoured to lay claim to any literary excellence.
That, in the writing of books, quantity without quality is a vice
and a misfortune, has been too manifestly settled to leave a doubt
on such a matter. But I do lay claim to whatever merit should be
accorded to me for persevering diligence in my profession. And I make
the claim, not with a view to my own glory, but for the benefit of
those who may read these pages, and when young may intend to follow
the same career. _Nulla dies sine lineâ._ Let that be their motto.
And let their work be to them as is his common work to the common
labourer. No gigantic efforts will then be necessary. He need tie
no wet towels round his brow, nor sit for thirty hours at his desk
without moving,--as men have sat, or said that they have sat. More
than nine-tenths of my literary work has been done in the last
twenty years, and during twelve of those years I followed another
profession. I have never been a slave to this work, giving due time,
if not more than due time, to the amusements I have loved. But
I have been constant,--and constancy in labour will conquer all
difficulties. _Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed sæpe cadendo._

It may interest some if I state that during the last twenty years
I have made by literature something near £70,000. As I have said
before in these pages, I look upon the result as comfortable, but not

It will not, I trust, be supposed by any reader that I have intended
in this so-called autobiography to give a record of my inner life.
No man ever did so truly,--and no man ever will. Rousseau probably
attempted it, but who doubts but that Rousseau has confessed in much
the thoughts and convictions rather than the facts of his life? If
the rustle of a woman's petticoat has ever stirred my blood; if a cup
of wine has been a joy to me; if I have thought tobacco at midnight
in pleasant company to be one of the elements of an earthly paradise;
if now and again I have somewhat recklessly fluttered a £5 note
over a card-table;--of what matter is that to any reader? I have
betrayed no woman. Wine has brought me to no sorrow. It has been the
companionship of smoking that I have loved, rather than the habit.
I have never desired to win money, and I have lost none. To enjoy
the excitement of pleasure, but to be free from its vices and ill
effects,--to have the sweet, and leave the bitter untasted,--that
has been my study. The preachers tell us that this is impossible. It
seems to me that hitherto I have succeeded fairly well. I will not
say that I have never scorched a finger,--but I carry no ugly wounds.

For what remains to me of life I trust for my happiness still chiefly
to my work--hoping that when the power of work be over with me, God
may be pleased to take me from a world in which, according to my
view, there can be no joy; secondly, to the love of those who love
me; and then to my books. That I can read and be happy while I am
reading, is a great blessing. Could I remember, as some men do,
what I read, I should have been able to call myself an educated
man. But that power I have never possessed. Something is always
left,--something dim and inaccurate,--but still something sufficient
to preserve the taste for more. I am inclined to think that it is so
with most readers.

Of late years, putting aside the Latin classics, I have found my
greatest pleasure in our old English dramatists,--not from any
excessive love of their work, which often irritates me by its want of
truth to nature, even while it shames me by its language,--but from
curiosity in searching their plots and examining their character. If
I live a few years longer, I shall, I think, leave in my copies of
these dramatists, down to the close of James I., written criticisms
on every play. No one who has not looked closely into it knows how
many there are.

Now I stretch out my hand, and from the further shore I bid adieu
to all who have cared to read any among the many words that I have

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