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Introduction by John Letts
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This memoir by Trollope, written between November 1881 and February 1882, the last year of the author’s life, offers the modern reader a vivid impression of Palmerston’s character and career. Fascinatingly the man is revealed as possessing most of the characeristics of a typical Trollope character from the author’s novels: indeed Plantaganet Palliser had already been given many of Palmerston’s attributes, particularly his stubbornness, his doggedness, and his diligence. Palmerston emerges as thick-skinned, an occasionally brilliant speaker, and playing a straight bat in his politics.
Trollope’s sympathies are clearly with his subject, but he uses the work to put forward his own opinions; in some ways this memoir is an account of the author’s own times. The Athenaeum called the book ‘a Liberal confession of faith’. Like his book on Cicero, this was a labour of love, a tribute to one of his heroes, and an already fading snapshot of a fast-disappearing era.