Thomas Adolphus Trollope.

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"ah! we have been looking for that many a year; but I am beginning to
doubt whether I shall live to see it." My assurances that matters were
not altogether so bad as they supposed in England of course met with
little credence. Still, they listened to me, and did not show angry
signs of a consciousness that I was audaciously befooling them, till
the talk having veered to London, I ventured to assure them that
London was not surrounded by any _octroi_ boundary, and that no impost
of that nature was levied there.[1] Then in truth I might as well have
assured them that London streets were literally paved with gold.

[Footnote 1: It may possibly be necessary to tell untravelled
Englishmen that the _octroi_, universal on the Continent, is an impost
levied on all articles of consumption at the gates of a town.]

On the 30th of May, 1840, I returned with my mother from Paris to
her house in York Street. Life had been very pleasant there to her
I believe, and certainly to me during those periods of it which my
inborn love of rambling allowed me to pass there. But in the following
June it was determined that the house in York Street should be given
up. Probably the _causa causans_ of this determination was the fact of
my sister's removal to far Penrith. But I think too, that there was
a certain unavowed feeling, that we had eaten up London, and should
enjoy a move to new pastures.

I remember well a certain morning in York Street when we - my mother
and I - held a solemn audit of accounts. It was found that during her
residence in York Street she had spent a good deal more than she had
supposed. She had entertained a good deal, giving frequent "little
dinners." But dinners, however little, are apt in London to leave
tradesmen's bills not altogether small in proportion to their
littleness. "The fact is," said my mother, "that potatoes have been
quite exceptionally dear." For a very long series of years she never
heard the last of those exceptional potatoes. But despite the alarming
deficit caused by those unfortunate vegetables, I do not think
the abandonment of the establishment in York Street was caused by
financial considerations. She was earning in those years large sums
of money - quite as large as any she had been spending - and might have
continued in London had she been so minded.

No doubt I had much to do with the determination we came to. But
for my part, if it had at that time been proposed to me, that our
establishment should be reduced to a couple of trunks, and all our
worldly possessions to the contents of them, with an opening vista of
carriages, diligences, and ships _ad libitum_ in prospect, I should
have jumped at the idea. A caravan, which in addition to shirts and
stockings could have carried about one's books and writing tackle
would have seemed the _summum bonum_ of human felicity.

So we turned our backs on London without a thought of regret and once
again "took the road;" but this time separately, my mother going to
my sister at Penrith and I to pass the summer months in wanderings
in Picardy, Lorraine, and French Flanders, and the ensuing winter in
Paris.

I hardly know which was the pleasanter time. By this time I was
no stranger to Paris, and had many friends there. It was my first
experiment of living there as a bachelor, as I was going to say, but I
mean "on my own hook," and left altogether to my own devices. I found
of course that my then experiences differed considerably from those
acquired when living _en famille_. But I am disposed to think that the
tolerably intimate knowledge I flatter myself I possessed of the Paris
and Parisians of Louis Philippe's time was mainly the result of this
second residence. I remember among a host of things indicating the
extent of the difference between those days and these, that I lived
in a very good apartment, _au troisième_, in one of the streets
immediately behind the best part of the Rue de Rivoli for one hundred
francs a month! This price included all service (save of course a tip
to the porter), and the preparation of my coffee for breakfast if I
needed it. For dinner, or any other meal, I had to go out.

"Society" lived in Paris in those days - not unreasonably as the result
soon showed - in perpetual fear of being knocked all to pieces by an
outbreak of revolution, though of course nobody said so. But I lived
mainly (though not entirely) among the _bien pensants_ people, who
looked on all anti-governmental manifestations with horror. Perhaps
the restless discontent which destroyed Louis Philippe's government
is the most disheartening circumstance in the whole course of recent
French history. That the rule of Charles Dix should have occasioned
revolt may be regrettable, but is not a matter for surprise. But that
of Louis Philippe was not a stagnant or retrogressive _régime. "La
carrière_" was very undeniably open to talent and merit of every
description. Material well-being was on the increase. And the door
was not shut against any political change which even very advanced
Liberalism, of the kind consistent with order, might have aspired to.
But the Liberalism which moved France was not of that kind.

One of my most charming friends of those days, Rosa Stewart, who
afterwards became and was well known to literature as Madame Blaze de
Bury, was both too clever and too shrewd an observer, as well as, to
me at least, too frank to pretend any of the assurance which was then
_de mode_. She saw what was coming, and was fully persuaded that it
must come. I hope that her eye may rest on this testimony to her
perspicacity, though I know not whether she still graces this planet
with her very pleasing presence. For as, alas! in so many scores of
other instances, our lives have drifted apart, and it is many years
since I have heard of her.

One excursion I specially remember in connection with that autumn was
partly, I think, a pedestrian one, to Amiens and Beauvais, made
in company with the W - - A - - , of whom my brother speaks in his
autobiography; which I mention chiefly for the sake of recording my
testimony to the exactitude of his description of that very singular
individual. If it had not been for the continual carefulness
necessitated by the difficulty of avoiding all cause of quarrel, I
should say that he was about the pleasantest travelling companion I
have ever known.

In the beginning of April, 1841, after a little episode of spring
wandering in the Tyrol and Bavaria (in the course of which I met my
mother at the château of her very old friend the Baroness de Zandt,
who has been mentioned before, and was now living somewhat solitarily
in her huge house in its huge park near Bamberg), my mother and I
started for Italy. Neither of us had at that time conceived the idea
of making a home there. The object of the journey, which had been long
contemplated by my mother, was the writing of a book on Italy, as she
had already done on Paris and on Vienna.

Our journey was a prosperous one in all respects, and our flying visit
to Italy was very pleasant. My mother's book was duly written, and
published by Mr. Bentley in 1842. But the _Visit to Italy_, as the
work was entitled (with justly less pretence than the titles of either
of its predecessors had put forward), was in truth all too short. And
I find that almost all of the huge mass of varied recollections which
are connected in my mind with Italy and Italian people and things
belong to my second "visit" of nearly half a century's duration!

We made, however, several pleasant acquaintances and some fast
friends, principally at Florence, and thus paved the way, although
little intending it at the time, for our return thither.

Our visit was rendered shorter than it would probably otherwise have
been by my mother's strong desire to be with my sister, who was
expecting the birth of her first child at Penrith. And for this
purpose we left Rome in February, 1842, in very severe weather. We
crossed the Mont Cenis in sledges - which to me was a very acceptable
experience, but to my mother was one, which nothing could have induced
her to face, save the determination not to fail her child at her need.

How well I remember hearing as I sat in the _banquette_ of the
diligence which was just leaving Susa for its climb up the mountain
amid the snow, then rapidly falling, the driver of the descending
diligence, which had accomplished its work and was just about entering
the haven of Susa, sing out to our driver - "_Vous allez vous amuser
joliment là haut, croyez moi_!"

We did not, however, change the diligence for the sledges till we came
to the descent on the northern side. But as we made our slow way to
the top our vehicle was supported from time to time on either side by
twelve strapping fellows, who put their shoulders to it.

I appreciated during that journey, though I was glad to see the
mountain in its winter dress, the recommendation not to let your
flight be in the winter.




CHAPTER V.


I accompanied my mother to Penrith, and forthwith devoted myself heart
and body to the preparation of our new house, and the beautifying
of the very pretty paddock in which it was situated. I put in some
hundreds of trees and shrubs with my own hands, which prospered
marvellously, and have become, I have been told, most luxuriant
shrubberies. I was bent on building a cloistered walk along the entire
top of the field, which would have afforded a charming ambulatory
sheltered from the north winds and from the rain, and would have
commanded the most lovely views, while the pillars supporting the
roof would have presented admirable places for a world of flowering
climbing plants. And doubtless I should have achieved it, had we
remained there. But it would have run into too much money to be
undertaken immediately, - fortunately; for, inasmuch as there was
nothing of the sort in all that country side, no human being would
have given a stiver more for the house when it came to be sold, and
the next owner would probably have pulled it down. There was no
authority for such a thing. Had it been suffered to remain it would
probably have been called "Trollope's folly!"

Subsequently, but not immediately after we left it, the place - oddly
enough I forget the name we gave it - became the property and the
residence of my brother-in-law.

Of my life at Penrith I need add nothing to the jottings I have
already placed before the reader on the occasion of my first visit to
that place.

My brother, already a very different man from what he had been in
London, came from his Irish district to visit us there; and I returned
with him to Ireland, to his head-quarters at Banagher on the Shannon.
Neither of this journey need I say much. For to all who know anything
of Ireland at the present day - and who does not? worse luck! - anything
I might write would seem as _nihil ad rem_, as if I were writing of
an island in the Pacific. I remember a very vivid impression that
occurred to me on first landing at Kingstown, and accompanied me
during the whole of my stay in the island, to the effect, that the
striking differences in everything that fell under my observation from
what I had left behind me at Holyhead, were fully as great as any that
had excited my interest when first landing in France.

One of my first visits was to my brother's chief. He was a master of
foxhounds and hunted the country. And I well remember my astonishment,
when the door of this gentleman's residence was opened to me by an
extremely dirty and slatternly bare-footed and bare-legged girl. I
found him to be a very friendly and hospitable good fellow, and his
wife and her sister very pleasant women. I found too that my brother
stood high in his good graces by virtue of simply having taken the
whole work and affairs of the postal district on his own shoulders.
The rejected of St. Martin's-le-Grand was already a very valuable and
capable officer.

My brother gave me the choice of a run to the Killeries, or to
Killarney. We could not manage both. I chose the former, and a most
enjoyable trip we had. He could not leave his work to go with me, but
was to join me subsequently, I forget where, in the west. Meantime
he gave me a letter to a bachelor friend of his at Clifden. This
gentleman immediately asked me to dinner, and he and I dined
_tête-à-tête._ Nevertheless, he thought it necessary to apologise for
the appearance of a very fine John Dory on the table, saying, that he
had been himself to the market to get a turbot for me, but that he had
been asked half-a-crown for a not very large one, and really he could
not give such absurd prices as that!

Anthony duly joined me as proposed, and we had a grand walk over
the mountains above the Killeries. I don't forget and never shall
forget - nor did Anthony ever forget; alas! that we shall never more
talk over that day again - the truly grand spectacular changes from
dark thick enveloping cloud to brilliant sunshine, suddenly revealing
all the mountains and the wonderful colouring of the intertwining
sea beneath them, and then back to cloud and mist and drifting sleet
again. It was a glorious walk. We returned wet to the skin to "Joyce's
Inn," and dined on roast goose and whisky punch, wrapped in our
blankets like Roman senators!

One other scene I must recall. The reader will hardly believe that it
occurred in Ireland. There was an election of a member for I forget
what county or borough, and my brother and I went to the hustings - the
only time I ever was at an election in Her Majesty's dominions. What
were the party feelings, or the party colours, I utterly forget. It
was merely for the fun of the thing that we went there. The fun indeed
was fast and furious. The whole scene on the hustings, as well
as around them, seemed to me one seething mass of senseless but
good-humoured hustling and confusion. Suddenly in the midst of the
uproar an ominous cracking was heard, and in the next minute the
hustings swayed and came down with a crash, heaping together in a
confused mass all the two or three hundreds of human beings who were
on the huge platform. Some few were badly hurt. But my brother and I
being young and active, and tolerably stout fellows, soon extricated
ourselves, regained our legs, and found that we were none the worse.
Then we began to look to our neighbours. And the first who came to
hand was a priest, a little man, who was lying with two or three
fellows on the top of him, horribly frightened and roaring piteously
for help. So Anthony took hold of one of his arms and I of the other,
and by main force dragged him from under the superincumbent mass of
humanity. When we got him on his legs his gratitude was unbounded.
"Tell me your names," he shouted, "that I'll pray for ye!" We told him
laughingly that we were afraid it was no use, for we were heretics.
"Tell me your names," he shouted again, "that I'll pray for ye all the
more!"

I wonder whether he ever did! He certainly was very much in earnest
while the fright was on him.

Not very long after my return from this Irish trip, we finally left
Penrith on the 3rd of April, 1843; and I trust that the nymph of the
holy well, whose spring we had disturbed, was appeased.

My mother and I had now "the world before us where to choose." She had
work in hand, and more in perspective. I also had some in hand and
very much more in perspective, but it was work of a nature that might
be done in one place as well as another. So when "Carlton Hill" (all
of a sudden the name comes back to my memory!) was sold, we literally
stood with no _impedimenta_ of any sort save our trunks, and
absolutely free to turn our faces in whatsoever direction we pleased.

What we did in the first instance was to turn them to the house of our
old and well-beloved cousin, Fanny Bent, at Exeter. There after a few
days we persuaded her to accompany us to Ilfracombe, where we
spent some very enjoyable summer weeks. What I remember chiefly in
connection with that pleasant time, was idling rambles over the rocks
and the Capstone Hill, in company with Mrs. Coker and her sister Miss
Aubrey, the daughters of that Major A. who needs to the whist-playing
world no further commemoration. The former of them was the wife and
mother of Wykehamists (founder's kin), and both were very charming
women. Ilfracombe was in those days an unpretending sort of fishing
village. There was no huge "Ilfracombe Hotel," and the Capstone Hill
was not strewed with whitey-brown biscuit bags and the fragments of
bottles, nor continually vocal with nigger minstrels and ranting
preachers. The "Royal Clarence" did exist in the little town, whether
under that name or not, I forget. But I can testify from experience,
acquired some forty years afterwards, that Mr. and Mrs. Clemow now
keep there one of the best inns of its class, that I, no incompetent
expert in such matters, know in all England.

Then, when the autumn days began to draw in, we returned to Exeter,
and many a long consultation was held by my mother and I, sallying
forth from Fanny Bent's hospitable house for a _tête-à-tête_ stroll on
Northernhay, on the question of "What next?"

It turned out to be a more momentous question than we either of us
imagined it to be at the time; for the decision of it involved the
shape and form of the entire future life of one of us, and still more
important modification of the future life of the other. Dresden was
talked of. Rome was considered. Paris was thought of. Venice was
discussed. No one of them was proposed as a future permanent home.
Finally Florence came on the _tapis_. We had liked it much, and had
formed some much valued friendships there. It was supposed to be
economical as a place to live in, which was one main point. For our
plan was to make for ourselves for two or three years a home and way
of living sufficiently cheap to admit of combining with it large plans
of summer travel. And eventually Florence was fixed on.

As for my mother, it turned out that she was then selecting her last
and final home - though the end was not, thank God, for many a long
year yet. As for me, the decision arrived at during those walks on
Exeter Northernhay, was more momentous still. For I was choosing the
road that led not only to my home for the next half century nearly,
but to two marriages, both of them so happy in all respects as rarely
to have fallen to the lot of one and the same man!

How little we either of us, my mother and I, saw into the
future - beyond a few immediate inches before our noses! Truly _prudens
futuri temporis exitum caliginosâ nocte premit Deus!_ And when I hear
talk of "conduct making fate," I often think - humbly and gratefully, I
trust; marvelling, certainly, - how far it could have _à priori_ seemed
probable, that the conduct of a man who, without either _oes in
presenti_, or any very visible prospect of _oes in futuro_, turns
aside from all the beaten paths of professional industry should
have led him to a long life of happiness and content, hardly to be
surpassed, and, I should fear, rarely equalled. _Deus nobis haec otia
fecit! - Deus_, by the intromission of one rarely good mother, and two
rarely good, and I may add rarely gifted, wives!

Not that I would have the reader translate "_otia_" by idleness. I
have written enough to show that my life hitherto had been a full
and active one. And it continued in Italy to be an industrious one.
Translate the word rather into "independence." For I worked at work
that I liked, and did no taskwork. Nevertheless, I would not wish to
be an evil exemplar, _vitiis imitabile_, and I don't recommend you,
dear boys, to do as I did. I have been quite abnormally fortunate.

Well, we thought that we were casting the die of fate on a very
subordinate matter, while, lo! it was cast for us by the Supernal
Powers after a more far-reaching and over-ruling fashion.

So on the 2nd of September, 1843, we turned our faces southwards and
left London for Florence.

We became immediately on arriving in Firenze la gentile (after a
little tour in Savoy, introduced as an interlude after our locomotive
rambling fashion) the guests of Lady Bulwer, who then inhabited in the
Palazzo Passerini an apartment far larger than she needed, till we
could find a lodging for ourselves.

We had become acquainted with Lady Bulwer in Paris, and a considerable
intimacy arose between her and my mother, whose nature was especially
calculated to sympathise with the good qualities which Lady Bulwer
unquestionably possessed in a high degree. She was brilliant, witty,
generous, kind, joyous, good-natured, and very handsome. But she
was wholly governed by impulse and unreasoning prejudice; though
good-natured, was not always good-humoured; was totally devoid of
prudence or judgment, and absolutely incapable of estimating men
aright. She used to think me, for instance, little short of an
admirable Crichton!

Of course all the above rehearsed good qualities were, or were
calculated to be, immediately perceived and appreciated, while the
less pleasant specialties which accompanied them were of a kind to
become more perceptible only in close intimacy. And while no intimacy
ever lessened that regard of my mother and myself that had been won by
the first, it was not long before we were both, my mother especially,
vexed by exhibitions of the second.

As, for instance: - Lady Bulwer had for some days been complaining of
feeling unwell, and was evidently suffering. My mother urged her to
have some medical advice, whereupon she turned on her very angrily,
while the tears started to her beautiful eyes, and said, "How _can_
you tell me to do any such thing, when you know that I have not a
guinea for the purpose?" (She was frequently wont to complain of her
poverty.) But she had hardly got the words out of her mouth when the
servant entered the room saying that the silversmith was at the door
asking that the account which he laid on the table might be paid. The
account (which Lady Bulwer made no attempt to conceal, for concealment
of anything was not at all in her line) was for a pair of small silver
spurs and an ornamented silver collar which she had ordered a week or
two previously for the _ceremonial knighting of her little dog Taffy_!

On another occasion a large party of us were to visit the Boboli
Gardens. It was a very hot day, and we had to climb the hill to the
upper part of the gardens, from whence the view over Florence and the
Val d'Arno is a charming one. But the hill, as those who have been at
Florence will not have forgotten, is not only an extremely steep, but
a shadeless one. The broad path runs between two wide margins of
turf, which are enclosed on either side by thick but not very high
shrubberies. The party sorted themselves into couples, and the men
addressed themselves to facilitating as best they might the not
slightly fatiguing work before the ladies. It fell to my lot to give
Lady Bulwer my arm. Before long we were the last and most lagging
couple on the path. It was hard work, but I did my best, and flattered
myself that my companion, despite the radical moisture which she was
copiously losing, was in high good humour, as indeed she seemed to be,
when suddenly, without a word of warning, she dashed from the path,
threw herself prone among the bushes, and burst into an uncontrollable
fit of sobs and weeping. I was horrified with amazement. What had I
done, or what left undone? It was long before I could get a word out
of her. At last she articulated amidst her sobs, "It is TOO hot! It
is cruel to bring one here!" Yes, it was _too_ hot; but that was all.
Fortunately I was not the cruel bringer. I consoled her to the best of
my power, and induced her to wipe her eyes. I dabbled a handkerchief
in a neighbouring fountain for her to wash her streaked face, and
eventually I got her to the top of the hill, where all the others had
long since arrived.

The incident was entirely characteristic of her. She was furiously
angry with all things in heaven above and on the earth below because
she was at the moment inconvenienced.

Here is the beginning of a letter from her of a date some months
anterior to the Boboli adventure:

"Illustrissimo Signor Tommaso" (that was the usual style of her
address to me), "as your book is just out you must feel quite _en
train_ for puffs of any description. Therefore I send you the best I
have seen for a long while, _La Physiologie du Fumeur_. But even if
you don't like it, _don't_ put it in your pipe and smoke it. _Vide_
Joseph Fume."

A little subsequently she writes: "Signor Tommaso, the only revenge



Online LibraryThomas Adolphus TrollopeWhat I Remember, Volume 2 → online text (page 5 of 24)