It may be well that I should put a short preface to this book. In the summer of 1878 my father told me that he had written a memoir of his own life. He did not speak about it at length, but said that he had written me a letter, not to be opened until after his death, containing instructions for publication.
This letter was dated 30th April, 1876. I will give here as much of it as concerns the public: “I wish you to accept as a gift from me, given you now, the accompanying pages which contain a memoir of my life. My intention is that they shall be published after my death, and be edited by you. But I leave it altogether to your discretion whether to publish or to suppress the work — and also to your discretion whether any part or what part shall be omitted. But I would not wish that anything should be added to the memoir. If you wish to say any word as from yourself, let it be done in the shape of a preface or introductory chapter.” At the end there is a postscript: “The publication, if made at all, should be effected as soon as possible after my death.” My father died on the 6th of December, 1882.
It will be seen, therefore, that my duty has been merely to pass the book through the press conformably to the above instructions. I have placed headings to the right-hand pages throughout the book, and I do not conceive that I was precluded from so doing. Additions of any other sort there have been none; the few footnotes are my father’s own additions or corrections. And I have made no alterations. I have suppressed some few passages, but not more than would amount to two printed pages has been omitted. My father has not given any of his own letters, nor was it his wish that any should be published.
So much I would say by way of preface. And I think I may also give in a few words the main incidents in my father’s life after he completed his autobiography.
He has said that he had given up hunting; but he still kept two horses for such riding as may be had in or about the immediate neighborhood of London. He continued to ride to the end of his life: he liked the exercise, and I think it would have distressed him not to have had a horse in his stable. But he never spoke willingly on hunting matters. He had at last resolved to give up his favourite amusement, and that as far as he was concerned there should be an end of it. In the spring of 1877 he went to South Africa, and returned early in the following year with a book on the colony already written. In the summer of 1878, he was one of a party of ladies and gentlemen who made an expedition to Iceland in the “Mastiff,” one of Mr. John Burns’ steam-ships. The journey lasted altogether sixteen days, and during that time Mr. and Mrs. Burns were the hospitable entertainers. When my father returned, he wrote a short account of How the “Mastiffs” went to Iceland. The book was printed, but was intended only for private circulation.
Every day, until his last illness, my father continued his work. He would not otherwise have been happy. He demanded from himself less than he had done ten years previously, but his daily task was always done. I will mention now the titles of his books that were published after the last included in the list which he himself has given at the end of the second volume:—
|An Eye for an Eye,. . . .||1879|
|Cousin Henry,. . . . ..||1879|
|Thackeray,. . . . . . .||1879|
|The Duke's Children,. . . .||1880|
|Life of Cicero,. . . . .||1880|
|Ayala's Angel,. . . . .||1881|
|Doctor Wortle's School, . . .||1881|
|Frau Frohmann and other Stories,.||1882|
|Lord Palmerston,. . . . .||1882|
|The Fixed Period,. . . . .||1882|
|Kept in the Dark,. . . . .||1882|
|Marion Fay,. . . . ..||1882|
|Mr. Scarborough's Family, . . .||1883|
At the time of his death he had written four-fifths of an Irish story, called The Landleaguers, shortly about to be published; and he left in manuscript a completed novel, called An Old Man’s Love, which will be published by Messrs. Blackwood & Sons in 1884.
In the summer of 1880 my father left London, and went to live at Harting, a village in Sussex, but on the confines of Hampshire. I think he chose that spot because he found there a house that suited him, and because of the prettiness of the neighborhood. His last long journey was a trip to Italy in the late winter and spring of 1881; but he went to Ireland twice in 1882. He went there in May of that year, and was then absent nearly a month. This journey did him much good, for he found that the softer atmosphere relieved his asthma, from which he had been suffering for nearly eighteen months. In August following he made another trip to Ireland, but from this journey he derived less benefit. He was much interested in, and was very much distressed by, the unhappy condition of the country. Few men know Ireland better than he did. He had lived there for sixteen years, and his Post Office word had taken him into every part of the island. In the summer of 1882 he began his last novel, The Landleaguers, which, as stated above, was unfinished when he died. This book was a cause of anxiety to him. He could not rid his mind of the fact that he had a story already in the course of publication, but which he had not yet completed. In no other case, except Framley Parsonage, did my father publish even the first number of any novel before he had fully completed the whole tale.
On the evening of the 3rd of November, 1882, he was seized with paralysis on the right side, accompanied by loss of speech. His mind had also failed, though at intervals his thoughts would return to him. After the first three weeks these lucid intervals became rarer, but it was always very difficult to tell how far his mind was sound or how far astray. He died on the evening of the 6th of December following, nearly five weeks from the night of his attack.
I have been led to say these few words, not at all from a desire to supplement my father’s biography of himself, but to mention the main incidents in his life after he had finished his own record. In what I have here said I do not think I have exceeded his instructions.
Henry M. Trollope.
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