Taking it as a whole, I regard The Last Chronicle of Barset as the best novel I have written. . . . Mrs. Proudie at the palace is a real woman; and the poor old dean dying at the deanery is also real. The archdeacon at his rectory 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 Athenaeum 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 not 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 . . . Since her time others have grown 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.
An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope (World's Classics edn., 1924), pp. 251-252.
I WILL now go back to the year 1867, in which I was still living at Waltham Cross. . . . 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. . . . 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 never was 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 anyone else for the success I have had. By beginning at that hour I could complete my literary work before I dressed for breakfast.
An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope (World's Classics edn., 1924), pp. 247-248.
APPROACHING his subject, not as a scholar or historian, Trollope treats it in a style lively and amusing throughout. The sympathy with Cicero, especially in exile, is as delightful and refreshingly genuine as if Trollope were describing the difficulties of Phineas Finn or the troubles, during his wife's absence, of Mr. Furnival in Orley Farm. There are the same enlightening good sense and shrewdness in the description of Roman political parties and their leaders as form the best portion of the novels describing the rivalries of Daubeny and Gresham, and analysing the personal or political situations so severely testing the wisdom and the patience of Mr. Palliser and the Duke of Omnium. Of course, Cicero brought criticisms from a few experts. T. A. Trollope, Anthony's elder brother, as well as severe disciplinarian in their Winchester days, had been a classical master under Jeune at King Edward's School, Birmingham. He had therefore cultivated a more exact kind of learning than Anthony. `You ought', he said after Cicero came out, `to have let me correct the Latin words in your proof. As it is, having, in your first volume, tried successively Quintillian and Quintilian, in your second you finally relapse into Quintillian. In another error you are at least consistent; for Pætus is always given for Pœtus. Indeed,' he continued, `these diphthongs have been among your worst enemies, because œdile is your standing version for ædile, while by Œschilus I know—what others could only guess—that you mean Æschylus.'
T. H. S. Escott, Anthony Trollope: his Work, Associates and Literary Originals (1913), pp. 290-291.
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