TROLLOPE, Anthony (1815-1882). A series of twenty-six unpublished autograph letters signed (four in full, the remainder with initials) and two incomplete autograph letters (lacking the first and last pages respectively) to John Lewis Merivale, various places in Ireland, Worcester (1), Waltham Cross (1), and n.p. (1), 18 February 1848 - 16 March 1857 and 'Easter Eve [7 April] 1862', approximately 141 pages, 8vo, and 9 pages, 4to (one letter partly cross-written, one annotated by Merivale and one backed on to card with a carte-de-visite photograph); [and] a letter to an unnamed correspondent in an unidentified hand signed 'Young Cincinnatus', n.p., 24 March 1846, 4 pages, 4to, and another letter to Merivale.
Provenance: John Lewis Merivale to his daughter Janet Louisa, wife of Antony Gibbs (d.1909); and by descent.
A remarkable series to Trollope's oldest friend. Irreverent, teasing and informal, the letters, written while Trollope was employed as surveyor for the Post Office in Ireland, reveal his extraordinary industry, his beginnings as a successful novelist (referring particularly to The Warden and the conception of Barchester Towers) and his relations with his publishers; giving news of his family (especially his mother, Frances Trollope and Thomas Adolphus, his eldest brother); describing his peregrinations and residences in Ireland; expressing robustly his views on foreign policy, the Crimean war and the Times reporting of it; referring to the drinking clubs with which he and Merivale were associated, and generally reproaching him for his failures as a correspondent. Three letters in 1850 include the names of 'great' historical figures with which they, and other friends, are vying for the best list. The letter by the unidentified 'Young Cincinnatus', partly in verse, refers to a meeting of the 'Goose and Harmony' club in Devon.
'My mother [is] wandering about the Pyrenees by herself writing an Irish novel. I suppose the fact of her being between 70 and 80 may be supposed to rescue her solitary vagabondizing from that reproach of indiscretion, to which ladies errant are generally subjected ... My La Vendée will be soon out, at least 1 & 2 vols. are printed' (undated )
'It is quite impossible that I should spend an evening in this room (you will recollect the room in which you treated the policeman & "the chief's" brother to whiskey & water) without my writing to you, the scene of your great trouble and your great triumph. I wish you were with me now. Wouldn't we have a tramp to Castletown tomorrow! whither as it is I must tramp by myself on an outside car in a most unsatisfactory manner' (12 November 1850)
'[Belfast] is a filthy, disagreable, unwholesome, uninteresting town, with bad water & worse inhabitants & nothing on earth to recommend it unless a man knows how to make linen: I don't' (26 October 1853)
'Our tyrant lord, our Ignaro[?] [William Maberly, Secretary of the Post Office, with whom Trollope enjoyed a stormy relationship] has left us in the Audit Office, & Rowland Hill has all the coast to himself. Mighty changes are in progress, all our salaries are to be changed & chopped & put on new footings, settled on the applepie system - as to my own I know it is to be fixed either at £200 or £700 ... I should myself prefer the latter' (1 May 1854)
'Ah! the Crimea. How impossible it is for anybody to be really happy, really at ease, while things are as they are. Not that I credit the Times throughout, not but that I think that waging a war with a corps of newspaper scribblers in one's camp is too great a lash for any one, but that I believe that had Caesar, Hannibal, Napoleon, Alexander or Wellington been so attended the same sort of things would have been written had our own correspondent of those days been scribbled by Julius Caesar or whichever it might have been ... Longman has [...] sent me my six copies here & I today send back yours thro' John Tilley. A voyage to India & back greatly improves Madeira. I hope that trip to Belfast may have the same effect on The Warden' (2 January 1855)
'I intended to portray the cares & troubles of an elderly gentleman prone to guilt on finding himself attacked by the Times. I did not mean to put down or to uphold hospitals. I see now that I should have meant to do either the one or the other ... However I am not the man for that. I cannot take a point and work it out hic fas aut nefas. Your idea of breaking the Warden's heart is very good. I wish I had. However that it is now too late to think of. My intention has been to continue the work to introduce other cathedral dignitaries - a new bishop - a vilainous low church chaplain - O indeed I have done the third of another volume & was going on steadily when I staid my pen on hearing from a friend of whom I think much that in his mind, the Warden was naught' (29 January 1855)
'I am beginning to feel myself quite a travelled gent. When we meet I will give you the whole history ... How I lost my hat and had to buy another at Aix-la-Chapelle, how I saw Mlle Rachel gambling at Ems, and made intimate relations with a young Russian who communicated to me the astounding fact that he put 25 leeches every week on his podex to draw the blood from his head. You would be quite surprised said he if you saw me here! putting his hand below. I dare say I should have been. How also I was entrapped into intimacy with a Dutch bagman who was very inquisitive. Aimez-vous gin? said he, by way of making conversation to an Englishman' (10 September 1856)
Trollope described John Lewis Merivale as his 'earliest friend in life' (An Autobiography, 1883). They met at Arthur Drury's clergyman's school when Trollope was ten and both attended Harrow School, where three members of the Drury family, friends of Trollope's parents and related to the Merivales, were masters. A convivial and somewhat eccentric man, John Merivale became a barrister, and rose to be Commissioner of Bankruptcy (the post held earlier by his father). He was chosen as godfather to Trollope's elder son, Henry Merivale Trollope, and it was through him that Trollope met William Longman who became his publisher. In the 1830s they formed a club together called the Tramp Society, and later were associated in drinking clubs such as the 'Goose and Glee Club' and its precursors, mentioned in the present letters. Trollope was walking with Merivale in Ireland in 1843 when he found the ruins of a country house which was to inspire his first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran. Two letters by Trollope to John Merivale are published, both from the Morris L. Parrish collection in Princeton University Library.
Few letters by Trollope for the years 1849-1857 appear to have survived (the Letters, ed. N.J. Hall (1983), include fewer than fifty). These 28 unpublished letters to Merivale therefore represent an important opportunity for the re-examination of this period of his life. (30)