Anthony Trollope.

Autobiography of Anthony Trollope online

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E-text prepared by Jesse Chandler
and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.





I. MY EDUCATION, 1815-1834.
V. MY FIRST SUCCESS, 1849-1855.


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

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