Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/202

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188
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

not venture into regions of old romance; nor discover ideal excellence in Utopias of the future; or even observe that the most commonplace houses may be the background for great passions or tragedies. He always kept, as he says, to the probable. His imaginary world was conterminous with that in which he lived. As he tramped along the high road he saw wayside cottages or vicarages, or perhaps convenient hunting-boxes, and provided them with a charming girl to flirt with, and one or two good fellows for after-dinner talk; and made himself an ideal home such as might be provided by the most ordinary course of events. This meant such day-dreaming as just repeats the events of the day—only supplying the touch of simple sentimentalism. A good many men of business, I fancy, are sentimentalists in secret, and after a day of stockbroking or law conveyancing enjoy in strict privacy a little whimpering over a novel. Trollope had abundant tenderness of nature and his sentimentalism is perfectly genuine, though he did find it convenient to bring it to market. That was a main source of his popularity. There were—as the public held—such nice girls in his stories. Once, he tells us, he tried to write a novel without love.