An Old Man's Love

Trollope's Works

Book 1
谷月社
1
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MRS BAGGETT. 

Mr William Whittlestaff was strolling very slowly up and down the long walk at his country seat in Hampshire, thinking of the contents of a letter which he held crushed up within his trousers' pocket. He always breakfasted exactly at nine, and the letters were supposed to be brought to him at a quarter past. The postman was really due at his hall-door at a quarter before nine; but though he had lived in the same house for above fifteen years, and though he was a man very anxious to get his letters, he had never yet learned the truth about them. He was satisfied in his ignorance with 9.15 a.m., but on this occasion the post-boy, as usual, was ten minutes after that time. Mr Whittlestaff had got through his second cup of tea, and was stranded in his chair, having nothing to do, with the empty cup and plates before him for the space of two minutes; and, consequently, when he had sent some terrible message out to the post-boy, and then had read the one epistle which had arrived on this morning, he thus liberated his mind: "I'll be whipped if I will have anything to do with her." But this must not be taken as indicating the actual state of his mind; but simply the condition of anger to which he had been reduced by the post-boy. If any one were to explain to him afterwards that he had so expressed himself on a subject of such importance, he would have declared of himself that he certainly deserved to be whipped himself. In order that he might in truth make up his mind on the subject, he went out with his hat and stick into the long walk, and there thought out the matter to its conclusion. The letter which he held in his pocket ran as follows:—


St. Tawell's, Norwich, February 18—.

MY DEAR MR WHITTLESTAFF,—Poor Mrs Lawrie has gone at last. She died this morning at seven o'clock, and poor Mary is altogether alone in the world. I have asked her to come in among us for a few days at any rate, till the funeral shall be over. But she has refused, knowing, I suppose, how crowded and how small our house is. What is she to do? You know all the circumstances much better than I do. She says herself that she had always been intended for a governess, and that she will, of course, follow out the intention which had been fixed on between her and her father before his death. But it is a most weary prospect, especially for one who has received no direct education for the purpose. She has devoted herself for the last twelve months to Mrs Lawrie, as though she had been her mother. You did not like Mrs Lawrie, nor did I; nor, indeed, did poor Mary love her very dearly. But she, at any rate, did her duty by her step-mother. I know that in regard to actual money you will be generous enough; but do turn the matter over in your mind, and endeavour to think of some future for the poor girl.—Yours very faithfully,

Emma King.

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About the author

About Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Among his best-loved works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote perceptive novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters.

Trollope's literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century.

Trollope's first major success came with The Warden (1855)—the first of six novels set in the fictional county of "Barsetshire" (often collectively referred to as the Chronicles of Barsetshire), dealing primarily with the clergy and landed gentry. Barchester Towers (1857) has probably become the best-known of these. Trollope's other major series, the Palliser novels, which overlap with the Barset novels, concerned itself with politics, with the wealthy, industrious Plantagenet Palliser (later Duke of Omnium) and his delightfully spontaneous, even richer wife Lady Glencora usually featuring prominently (although, as with the Barsetshire series, many other well-developed characters populated each novel, and in one, The Eustace Diamonds, the Pallisers only play a small role).

Trollope's popularity and critical success diminished in his later years, but he continued to write prolifically, and some of his later novels have acquired a good reputation. In particular, critics who concur that the book was not popular when published, generally acknowledge the sweeping satire The Way We Live Now (1875) as his masterpiece. In all, Trollope wrote forty-seven novels, as well as dozens of short stories and a few books on travel.

After his death, Trollope's Autobiography appeared and was a best-seller in London. Trollope's downfall in the eyes of the critics stemmed largely from this volume. Even during his writing career, reviewers tended increasingly to shake their heads over his prodigious output, but when Trollope revealed that he strictly adhered to a daily writing quota, he confirmed his critics' worst fears. The Muse, in their view, might prove immensely prolific, but she would never ever follow a schedule. Furthermore, Trollope admitted that he wrote for money; at the same time he called the disdain of money false and foolish. The Muse, claimed the critics[who?], should not be aware of money.

Julian Hawthorne, an American writer, critic and friend of Trollope, while praising him as a man, calling him "a credit to England and to human nature, and ...[deserving] to be numbered among the darlings of mankind", also says that "he has done great harm to English fictitious literature by his novels".

Henry James also expressed mixed opinions of Trollope. The young James wrote some scathing reviews of Trollope's novels (The Belton Estate, for instance, he called "a stupid book, without a single thought or idea in it ... a sort of mental pabulum"). He also made it clear that he disliked Trollope's narrative method; Trollope's cheerful interpolations into his novels about how his storylines could take any twist their author wanted did not appeal to James' sense of artistic integrity. However, James thoroughly appreciated Trollope's attention to realistic detail, as he wrote in an essay shortly after the novelist's death:

    His [Trollope's] great, his inestimable merit was a complete appreciation of the usual. ... [H]e felt all daily and immediate things as well as saw them; felt them in a simple, direct, salubrious way, with their sadness, their gladness, their charm, their comicality, all their obvious and measurable meanings. ... Trollope will remain one of the most trustworthy, though not one of the most eloquent, of the writers who have helped the heart of man to know itself. ... A race is fortunate when it has a good deal of the sort of imagination—of imaginative feeling—that had fallen to the share of Anthony Trollope; and in this possession our English race is not poor.

James disliked Trollope's habit of addressing readers directly. However, Trollope may have had some influence on James's own work; the earlier novelist's treatment of family tensions, especially between fathers and daughters, may resonate in some of James' novels. For instance, Alice Vavasor and her selfish father in the first of the so-called Palliser novels, Can You Forgive Her?, may pre-figure Kate Croy and her own insufferable father, Lionel, in The Wings of the Dove.[citation needed]

Writers such as Thackeray, Eliot and Collins admired and befriended Trollope, and George Eliot noted that she could not have embarked on so ambitious a project as Middlemarch without the precedent set by Trollope in his own novels of the fictional—yet thoroughly alive—county of Barsetshire. Other contemporaries of Trollope praised his understanding of the quotidian world of institutions, official life, and daily business; he is one of the few novelists who find the office a creative environment. W. H. Auden wrote of Trollope as follows: "Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money. Compared with him, even Balzac is too romantic."
 

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Publisher
谷月社
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Published on
Jan 5, 2016
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Pages
498
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Classics
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Romance / General
Literary Collections / European / General
Literary Collections / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Who Will Be the New Bishop?

In the latter days of July in the year 185––, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways—Who was to be the new bishop?

The death of old Dr. Grantly, who had for many years filled that chair with meek authority, took place exactly as the ministry of Lord –––– was going to give place to that of Lord ––––. The illness of the good old man was long and lingering, and it became at last a matter of intense interest to those concerned whether the new appointment should be made by a conservative or liberal government.

It was pretty well understood that the outgoing premier had made his selection and that if the question rested with him, the mitre would descend on the head of Archdeacon Grantly, the old bishop's son. The archdeacon had long managed the affairs of the diocese, and for some months previous to the demise of his father rumour had confidently assigned to him the reversion of his father's honours.

Bishop Grantly died as he had lived, peaceably, slowly, without pain and without excitement. The breath ebbed from him almost imperceptibly, and for a month before his death it was a question whether he were alive or dead.

A trying time was this for the archdeacon, for whom was designed the reversion of his father's see by those who then had the giving away of episcopal thrones. I would not be understood to say that the prime minister had in so many words promised the bishopric to Dr. Grantly. He was too discreet a man for that. There is a proverb with reference to the killing of cats, and those who know anything either of high or low government places will be well aware that a promise may be made without positive words and that an expectant may be put into the highest state of encouragement, though the great man on whose breath he hangs may have done no more than whisper that "Mr. So-and-So is certainly a rising man."




Introduction.

At a private asylum in the west of England there lives, and has lived for some years past, an unfortunate lady, as to whom there has long since ceased to be any hope that she should ever live elsewhere. Indeed, there is no one left belonging to her by whom the indulgence of such a hope on her behalf could be cherished. Friends she has none; and her own condition is such, that she recks nothing of confinement and does not even sigh for release. And yet her mind is ever at work,—as is doubtless always the case with the insane. She has present to her, apparently in every waking moment of her existence, an object of intense interest, and at that she works with a constancy which never wearies herself, however fatiguing it may be to those who are near her. She is ever justifying some past action of her life. "An eye for an eye," she says, "and a tooth for a tooth. Is it not the law?" And these words she will repeat daily, almost from morn till night.

It has been said that this poor lady has no friends. Friends who would be anxious for her recovery, who would care to see her even in her wretched condition, who might try to soothe her harassed heart with words of love, she has none. Such is her condition now, and her temperament, that it may be doubted whether any words of love, however tender, could be efficacious with her. She is always demanding justification, and as those who are around her never thwart her she has probably all the solace which kindness could give her.

But, though she has no friends—none who love her,—she has all the material comfort which friendship or even love could supply. All that money can do to lessen her misery, is done. The house in which she lives is surrounded by soft lawns and secluded groves. It has been prepared altogether for the wealthy, and is furnished with every luxury which it may be within the power of a maniac to enjoy. This lady has her own woman to attend her; and the woman, though stout and masterful, is gentle in language and kind in treatment. "An eye for an eye, ma'am. Oh, certainly. That is the law. An eye for an eye, no doubt." This formula she will repeat a dozen times a day—ay, a dozen dozen times, till the wonder is that she also should not be mad.



Mr. Vavasor and His Daughter.

Whether or no, she, whom you are to forgive, if you can, did or did not belong to the Upper Ten Thousand of this our English world, I am not prepared to say with any strength of affirmation. By blood she was connected with big people,—distantly connected with some very big people indeed, people who belonged to the Upper Ten Hundred if there be any such division; but of these very big relations she had known and seen little, and they had cared as little for her. Her grandfather, Squire Vavasor of Vavasor Hall, in Westmoreland, was a country gentleman, possessing some thousand a year at the outside, and he therefore never came up to London, and had no ambition to have himself numbered as one in any exclusive set. A hot-headed, ignorant, honest old gentleman, he lived ever at Vavasor Hall, declaring to any who would listen to him, that the country was going to the mischief, and congratulating himself that at any rate, in his county, parliamentary reform had been powerless to alter the old political arrangements. Alice Vavasor, whose offence against the world I am to tell you, and if possible to excuse, was the daughter of his younger son; and as her father, John Vavasor, had done nothing to raise the family name to eminence, Alice could not lay claim to any high position from her birth as a Vavasor. John Vavasor had come up to London early in life as a barrister, and had failed. He had failed at least in attaining either much wealth or much repute, though he had succeeded in earning, or perhaps I might better say, in obtaining, a livelihood. He had married a lady somewhat older than himself, who was in possession of four hundred a year, and who was related to those big people to whom I have alluded. Who these were and the special nature of the relationship, I shall be called upon to explain hereafter, but at present it will suffice to say that Alice Macleod gave great offence to all her friends by her marriage. She did not, however, give them much time for the indulgence of their anger. Having given birth to a daughter within twelve months of her marriage, she died, leaving in abeyance that question as to whether the fault of her marriage should or should not be pardoned by her family.
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