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A PAINTER OF ACTUAL MEN AND MANNERS.
NTHONY TROLLOPE was the most productive writer of fiction of his time; and it is the judgment of most critics that perhaps a dozen of his best novels are exceeded in merit only by three or four of the best works of Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot. He differs from these great writers in selecting for his characters, not unusual or strangely individualized personalities, but ordinary men and women. There are no deep-dyed villains in his books and no astonishing prodigies of intelligence or virtue; his characters are the men and women, particularly clergymen and their families, who can be met with every day in English society.
He was the son of Mrs. Frances Trollope, a somewhat successful novelist, and by her influence obtained a position in the postal service. Here he showed unusual capacity, and rose to a position of considerable importance. He was a keen sportsman, and delighted in combining his duties as inspector of the postal service with the enjoyment of the hunt, and he tells in his "Autobiography" some interesting stories of the devices by which he could bring this about.
He wrote several books of travel, describing the countries which he visited in the postal service, among which are, "The West Indies and the Spanish Main," "North America," and "Australia." The first of his novels to come into general notice was "The Warden." which was followed by some forty others, among which, perhaps, "Orley Farm," "La Vendée," "The Bertrains, "Is He Popenjoy?" and the so-called "Clerical Series," beginning with "The Warden" and closing with "The Last Chronicle of Barset," and including "Barchester Towers," represent his best works. He died in 1883.
A LESSON IN PHILOSOPHY.
FROM THE LAST CHRONICLE OF BARSET."
E was sitting saturated with rain,-saturated also with thinking,-and was unobservant of anything around him, when he was accosted by an old man from Hoggle End,
because it's raining." "Thee be teeming o' wat. Had n't thee better go whome?" "And are not you wet also?" said Mr. Crawley, looking at the old man, who had been at work in the brickfield, and who was soaked with mire, and from whom there seemed to come a steam of muddy mist. "Is it me, yer reverence? I'm wat in course. The loikes of us is always wat, that is, barring the insides of us. It comes to us natural to have the rheumatics. How is one of us to help hisself against having on 'em? But there ain't no call for the loikes of you to have the rheumatics." "My friend," said Crawley, who was standing on the road,-and as he spoke he put out his arm and took the brickmaker by the hand, "there is a worse complaint than rheumatism, there is indeed." "There's what they call the collerer," said Giles Hoggett, looking up into Mr. Crawley's face. "That ain't a-got a-hold of yer?" "Ay, and worse than the cholera. A man is killed all over when he is struck in his pride; and yet he lives." "Maybe that's bad enough, too," said Giles, with his hand still held by the other. "It is bad enough,' said Mr. Crawley, striking his breast with his left hand; "it is bad enough." "Tell 'ee what, Master Crawley, and yer reverence must n't think as I means to be preaching,there ain't nowt a man can't bear if he'll only be dogged. You go whome, and think o' that, and mabe it'll do ye a good yet.
It's dogged as does it. It ain't thinking about it." Then Giles, Hoggett withdrew his hand
"IT'S DOGGED AS DOES IT."
from the clergyman's, and walked away toward his home at Hoggle End.
be in his power to get the good things in the Bishop's gift without troubling himself about the Bishop's daughter; and he found himself able to
endure the pangs of rejected love. As he sat himself down in the railway carriage, confronting the Bishop and Mrs. Proudie, as they started on their first journey to Barchester, he began to form in his own mind a plan of his future life. He knew well his patron's strong points, but he knew the weak ones as well. He understood correctly enough to what attempts the new Bishop's high spirit would soar, and he rightly guessed that public life would better suit the great man's taste than the small details of diocesan duty.
He, therefore, he, Mr. Slope,—would in effect be Bishop of Barchester. Such was his resolve ; and, to give Mr. Slope his due, he had both. courage and spirit to bear him out in his resolution. He knew that he should have a hard battle to fight, for the power and patronage of the see would be equally coveted by another great mind; Mrs. Proudie would also choose to be Bishop of Barchester. Slope, however, flattered himself that he could out-maneuver the lady. She must live much in London, while he would be always on the spot. She would necessarily remain ignorant of much, while he would know everything belonging to the diocese. At first, doubtless, he must flatter and cajole, perhaps yield in some things; but he did not doubt of ultimate triumph. If all other means failed, he could join the Bishop against his wife, inspire courage into the unhappy man, lay an axe to the root of the woman's power, and emancipate the husband.
Such were his thoughts as he sat looking at the sleeping pair in the railway carriage, and Mr. Slope is not the man to trouble himself with such thoughts for nothing. He is possessed of more than average abilities, and is of good courage. Though he can stoop to fawn-and stoop low indeed, if need be he has still within him the power to assume the tyrant; and with the power he has certainly the wish. His acquirements are not of the highest order; but such as they are, they are completely under control, and he knows
the use of them. He is gifted with a certain kind of pulpit eloquence, not likely indeed to be persuasive with men, but powerful with the softer sex. In his sermons he deals greatly in denunciations, excites the minds of his weaker hearers with a not unpleasant terror, and leaves the impression on their minds that all mankind are in a perilous state-and all womankind, too, except those who attend regularly to the evening lectures in Baker Street.
Mr. Slope is tall, and not ill-made. His feet and hands are large, as has ever been the case with all his family; but he has a broad chest and wide shoulders to carry off these excrescences; and on the whole his figure is good. His countenance, however, is not specially prepossessing. His hair is lank, and of a dull, pale reddish hue. It is always formed into three straight lumpy masses, each brushed with admirable precision, and cemented with much grease; two of them adhere closely to the sides of his face, and the other lies at right-angles above them. He wears no whiskers, and is always scrupulously shaven. His face is nearly of the same color as his hair, though perhaps a little redder. It is not unlike beef; beef, however, one would say, of a bad quality. His forehead is capacious and high, but square and heavy, and unpleasantly shining. His mouth is large, though pale and bloodless; and his big prominent eyes inspire anything but confidence. His nose, however, is his redeeming feature; it is pronounced, straight, and well-formed; though I myself should have liked it better did it not possess a somewhat spongy, porous appearance, as though it had been cleverly formed out of a redcolored cork.
I never could endure to shake hands with Mr. Slope. A cold, clammy perspiration exudes from him; the small drops are ever to be seen on his brow, and his friendly grasp is unpleasant.Such is Mr. Slope.
WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS.
A GENIUS IN STORY-TELLING.
HAVE always held the old-fashioned opinion," says Wilkie Collins, "that the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story"; and it is as a story-teller that he achieved his success.
He was born in 1824, and received his education at Highbury. He lived in Italy, however, for two years in his teens, and during that time acquired a knowledge of French and Italian. His father was a distinguished landscape painter, and he was closely related to other noted artists. Collins tried business for a few years, and afterward studied law, but never practised the profession. His first novel was not successful, and it was not until he formed a close friendship with Charles Dickens that he really began to make his way in literature. Dickens invited him to join in the work upon "Household Words," and encouraged him in many ways. At one time he undertook to promote social reform, and wrote "Man and Wife," "The New Magdalen," and "Heart and Science," with this view in mind. They were not successful, either from a philanthropic or an artistic point of view, and the critic Swinburne has commented upon them in the jocular couplet:
"What brought good Wilkie's genius nigh perdition?
The intricacy of his plots is likened to a game of chess. His stories usually turn upon the discovery of a secret, the tracing of a crime, or the regaining of a fortune. His novels have two sets of characters-one pursuing, the other opposing the accomplishment of the purpose. The plan is well carried out, and perhaps no novelist has been read more widely or with greater pleasure. He died in 1889. Collins's masterpieces are "The Moonstone" and "The Woman in White." Some others are "No Name," "Armadale," "Man and Wife," "Heart and Science," and "I Say No!" A number of his books have been translated into French, Italian, Danish, and Russian, and continue as popular abroad as at home.
THE COUNT AND COUNTESS FOSCO. FROM "THE WOMAN IN WHITE."
EVER before have I beheld such a change produced in a woman by her marriage as has been produced in Madame Fosco. As Eleanor Fairlie (aged seven-and-thirty), she was always talking pretentious nonsense, and always worrying the unfortunate men with every small exaction which a vain and foolish woman can impose on long-suffering male humanity. humanity. As Madame Fosco (aged three-and-forty), she sits for hours together without saying a word, frozen up in the strangest manner in herself. The hideously ridiculous love-locks which used to hang on either side of her face are now replaced by stiff little rows of very short curls, of the sort that one sees in old-fashioned wigs. A plain, matronly cap covers her head, and makes her look, for the first time in her life, since I remember her, like a deClad in quiet black or gray gowns, made high round the throat, dresses that she would have laughed at, or screamed at, as the whim of the moment inclined her, in her maiden days—she sits speechless in corners; her dry white hands (so dry that the pores of her skin look chalky) incessantly engaged either in monotonous embroidery work, or in rolling up endless little cigarettes for the Count's own particular smoking.
On the few occasions when her cold blue eyes are off her work, they are generally turned on her husband, with the look of mute submissive inquiry which we are all familiar with in the eyes of a faithful dog. The only approach to an inward thaw which I have yet detected under her outer covering of icy constraint, has betrayed itself, once or twice, in the form of a suppressed tigerish jealousy of any woman in the house (the maids included) to whom the Count speaks, or on whom he looks with anything approaching to special interest or attention. Except in this one particular, she is always-morning, noon, and night, indoors, and out, fair weather or foul-as cold as a statue, and as impenetrable as the stone out of which it is cut.
For the common purposes of society, the extraordinary change thus produced in her is beyond
all doubt a change for the better, seeing that it has transformed her into a civil, silent, unobtrusive woman, who is never in the way. How far she is really reformed or deteriorated in her secret self is another question. I have once or twice seen sudden changes of expression on her pinched lips, and heard sudden inflections of tone in her calm voice, which have led me to suspect that her present state of suppression may have sealed up something dangerous in her nature, which used to evaporate harmlessly in the freedom of her former life. And the magician who has wrought this wonderful transformation-the foreign husband who has tamed this once wayward Englishwoman till her own relations hardly know her again-the Count himself! What of the Count?
This, in two words: He looks like a man who could tame anything. If he had married a tigress instead of a woman, he would have tamed the tigress. How am I to describe him? There are peculiarities in his personal appearance, his habits, and his amusements, which I should blame in the boldest terms, or ridicule in the most merciless manner, if I had seen them in another What is it that makes me unable to blame them, or to ridicule them in him?
For example, he is immensely fat. Before this time I have always especially disliked corpulent humanity. I have always maintained that the popular notion of connecting excessive grossness of size and excessive good-humor as inseparable allies, was equivalent to declaring, either that no people but amiable people ever got fat, or that the accidental addition of so many pounds of flesh has a directly favorable influence over the disposition of the person on whose body they accumulate. I have invariably combated both these absurd assertions by quoting examples of fat people who were as mean, vicious, and cruel, as the leanest and the worst of their neighbors. Here, nevertheless, is Count Fosco, as fat as Henry the Eighth himself, established in my favor, at one day's notice, without let or hindrance from his now odious corpulence. Marvelous indeed!