Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/204

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190
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

no girl has risen from the reading of my pages less modest than she was before, and that some may have learnt from them that modesty is a charm worth possessing.' The phrase reminds me of my favourite critic, who declared that there was not a word in Dr. Watts's sermons 'which could call a blush to the cheek of modesty.' Trollope certainly deserves that negative but by no means worthless praise. When a novelist courts popularity by appealing to a perverted taste for the morally repulsive, I consider him to be a blackguard—even though he may be an 'artist'; and, at the day of judgment, he will hardly, I suppose, be divided into two.

Trollope's moral purpose, however, led him into difficulty. The 'regions of absolute evil,' he says, 'are foul and odious'; but there is a 'border-land,' where flowers are mixed with weeds and where the novelist is tempted to enter. The 'border-land,' one would rather say, is conterminous with the world; and the novelist who will not speak of it will have to abandon any dealings with human nature. Trollope was confined within narrow limits. One of his novels was refused by a religious periodical because it spoke of dancing without reprobation. A dignitary of the Church