Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/207

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193
ANTHONY TROLLOPE

followed out any series of events which happened to be involved. In one of his stories, if I remember rightly, the love affairs of four different couples get mixed up, and each of them has to be followed out to a conclusion. He simply looks on, and only takes care to make his report consistent and intelligible. To accept such writing in the corresponding spirit implies, no doubt, the confession that you are a bit of a Philistine, able to put up with the plainest of bread and butter and dispense with all the finer literary essences. I think, however, that at times one's state is the more gracious for accepting the position. There is something so friendly and simple and shrewd about one's temporary guide that one is the better for taking a stroll with him and listening to gossiping family stories, even though they be rather rambling and never scandalous. One difficulty is suggested, indeed, by Trollope's sacrifice of all other aims to the duty of fidelity. We begin to ask whether it can be worth while to read a novel which is a mere reflection of the commonplace. Would it not be better to read genuine biographies and narratives of real events? One answer might be suggested by Walpole's famous remark about history, which, as he said,