Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/215

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201
ANTHONY TROLLOPE

energetic, gives a thrashing, for example, to the man who has jilted a girl, we are carefully informed that he does it in a blundering and unsatisfactory way.

By the excision of all that is energetic, or eccentric, or impulsive, or romantic, you do not really become more lifelike; you only limit yourself to the common and uninteresting. That misconception injures Trollope's work, and accounts, I suspect, for the decline of our interest. An artist who systematically excludes all lurid colours or strong lights, shows a dingy, whitey-brown universe, and is not therefore more true to nature. Barsetshire surely had its heroes and its villains, its tragedy and its farce, as well as its archdeacons and young ladies bound hand and foot by the narrowest rules of contemporary propriety. Yet, after all, Trollope's desire to be faithful had its good result in spite of this misconception. There are, in the first place, a good many commonplace people in the world; and, moreover, there were certain types into which he could throw himself with real vigour. He can appreciate energy when it does not take a strain of too obvious romance. His best novel, he thinks, and his readers must agree with him, was the Last Chronicle of Barset.