by Professor Steven Amarnick
Originally published in 2015 as part of the Commentary to the First Complete Edition of the extended version of The Duke’s Children by the Folio Society, in two limited fine edition formats.
The Introduction: Notes on the cuts are available as a 28pp pdf to download.
Notes on the cuts
But now I will accept that as courage which I before regarded as arrogance.
With that sentence, The Duke’s Children comes to an abrupt end. Except not quite. Sixty-four words follow in the manuscript—words that Anthony Trollope had intended to publish but reluctantly left out. Preceding this sentence are some 65,000 other words that were cut—over twenty-two per cent of the manuscript. Now in 2015, in the two hundredth year of Trollope’s birth, The Duke’s Children can be read in full for the first time. By restoring his cuts, we restore his original vision, and present the book in a version that is as close as possible to the one he would have sanctioned had he been able to publish it in his typical fashion.
It is only in The Duke’s Children (1880), the sixth and final novel of the Palliser series, that the Pallisers actually dominate the narrative. One of the two “her”s in Can You Forgive Her? (1864) is Alice Vavasor, who after much vacillation finally marries. The eponymous hero of Phineas Finn (1869) is a young Irishman who moves to London and fails to marry—though not for lack of trying. He does succeed, at first brilliantly, as a politician, but at the end he returns to the girl waiting for him back home in Killaloe. Lizzie Eustace lies about her jewels, and plenty of other things, in The Eustace Diamonds (1873), and Phineas Finn, now a widower, returns to London, rises, falls, then rises again in Phineas Redux (1874). The head of the Palliser family is indeed the head of government in The Prime Minister (1876), but half the book is about the marital and business woes of the odious Ferdinand Lopez, who eventually, like Anna Karenina, throws himself in front of a train.
Yet if, in The Duke’s Children, there is more of the Pallisers than in the earlier novels, there is also a conspicuous absence. The Duchess of Omnium—previously known as Lady Glencora Palliser—dies suddenly, and the grieving Duke must just as suddenly pay attention to his two sons and daughter, each of whom is practically a stranger to him. All three cause him heartache. Lord Silverbridge, the heir, had been sent down from Oxford for painting the Dean’s house scarlet; now, at twenty-two, he no longer partakes in such youthful pranks, but he still gets into trouble, most notably when he runs up an astonishing debt betting on a horse that he owns. When Silverbridge decides to go into politics, it is as a Conservative, even though the Pallisers have always been Liberal. And when he decides to marry, he chooses Isabel Boncassen, an American “whose grandfather had been a porter” (Chapter 43), even though he has already declared himself to be in love with the blue-blooded Lady Mabel Grex. The middle child, Lord Gerald, also gets thrown out of university and also gambles recklessly. And while the youngest, Lady Mary, has always behaved impeccably, she distresses her father when, at age nineteen, she engages herself secretly to Frank Tregear, the extraordinarily handsome second son of a “comfortable” (Chapter 3) but not hugely wealthy squire. Because Frank wants to live among the rich and has neglected to train for a profession, he is obliged to find a wife with money—and the Duke sees him as another Burgo Fitzgerald, the dissolute charmer whom Glencora loved in her youth before she was torn away from him by her elders.
The father finally yields and gives his blessing to the two marriages. It helps that he genuinely likes Isabel, and that Silverbridge has returned to the Liberal fold. He also—slowly—comes around to acknowledging that Frank is “a worthy young man” (Chapter 64). Yet the Duke is hardly light-hearted, despite outward appearances, as we see in the concluding chapter:
Perhaps the matter most remarkable in the wedding was the hilarity, or, at any rate, the good humour, of the Duke. One who did not know him well might have said that he was a man with very few cares, and who now took special joy in the happiness of his children,—who was thoroughly contented to see them marry after their own hearts and make themselves happy in their own fashion. And yet, as he stood there on the altar steps giving his daughter to that new son and looking first at his girl, and then at his married son, he was reminding himself of all that he had suffered, and reflecting how seldom it had happened that he to whom so many good things had been given had been allowed to have his own way in the affairs of life. (Chapter 80)
In the final paragraphs, he continues to make the best of the situation, but we are reminded that, with one child still unmarried, fresh woes might await him:
“Well, sir,” said Silverbridge to the Duke when they were out together in the park that afternoon, “what do you think about him?” Silverbridge since his marriage seemed even to his father to be much more of a man than he had been before.
“I think he is a manly young man.”
“He certainly is that. And then he knows things and understands them. It was never a surprise to me that Mary should have been so fond of him.”
“I do not know that one ought to be surprised at anything. Perhaps what surprised me most was that he should have looked so high. There seemed to be so little to justify it. But now I will accept that as courage which I before regarded as arrogance. Who knows, he may live yet to be a much greater man than his father-in-law. I am certainly very glad that he has a seat in Parliament.”
“It will be my turn next,” said Gerald, as he was smoking with his brother that evening. “After what you and Mary have done, I think he must let me have my own way whatever it is.
It is the restored italicized passages above, and so many thousands more, that make this new edition of The Duke’s Children vastly different from any that the reading public has known.
Trollope took six months to write The Duke’s Children in 1876. He came to it immediately after finishing An Autobiography, a book that he always intended to put in a drawer and publish posthumously. He put The Duke’s Children away too, but not for the same reason. Rather, his writing had not sold well in recent years; perhaps he hoped for a better deal if he waited awhile. Instead, the dreadful reviews and sales of The Prime Minister in 1876 sank his reputation further. In 1878, Trollope must have been relieved that the prestigious All the Year Round, edited by Charles Dickens Jr., was willing to serialise the novel in weekly instalments. Yet Dickens was apparently not willing to publish such a long work, and to accommodate him Trollope made massive cuts. The novel appeared every week in All the Year Round for nine months beginning in October 1879. When Chapman & Hall published the first edition in 1880, it was in three volumes, not the four volumes that Trollope had originally written.
Though his letters about The Duke’s Children do not survive, we can easily surmise how Trollope felt about shortening it. In An Autobiography he tells how he “refused to make even the attempt” (Chapter 6) to cut Barchester Towers at his publisher’s request two decades earlier. At that point he was a brash, younger (though middle-aged) author whose career was finally taking off, whereas by the late 1870s he no longer believed he could make such refusals. Indeed, when he was looking to sell John Caldigate to Blackwood’s Magazine, only a few months after having edited The Duke’s Children, he misunderstood what John Blackwood had told him and offered to provide substantial revisions: “I will make the reduction accordingly,—but with an aching heart!” (11 October 1878). Blackwood wrote back that no reductions were necessary.
Trollope had explained in An Autobiography why he was opposed to major cutting: “I am at a loss to know how such a task could be performed. I could burn the MS., no doubt, and write another book on the same story; but how two words out of every six are to be withdrawn from a written novel, I cannot conceive” (Chapter 6). Given how he constantly tried to keep his mind, and thus his writing, fresh by looking for new challenges, it is conceivable that he took satisfaction in devising ways to cut The Duke’s Children without fatally damaging it. But he would not have fooled himself into thinking that he was thereby improving the novel.
Trollope did not delete any of the eighty chapters; in some places, he removed consecutive paragraphs, but more often he looked for individual sentences, or phrases, or single words; sometimes he would even replace one word with another that was just a letter or two shorter. As he wrote to Blackwood not long after revising The Duke’s Children: “I am bound to say that I have never found myself able to effect changes in the plot of a story. Small as the links are, one little thing hangs on another to such an extent that any change sets the whole narrative wrong. There are so many infinitesimal allusions to what is past, that the whole should be rewritten or it will be faulty” (12 September 1878). Trollope may have been able to edit The Duke’s Children so that the narrative did not go “wrong”—and that he was able to do so is a remarkable achievement—but the thousands of cuts did tremendous damage. Some of them are harmless enough, and occasionally might even be welcome, casting away verbiage and fat (especially in places that are repetitive because of the demands of serialisation). And for those who don’t like Trollope much anyhow, a more compact version might be preferable. But it is hard to imagine many readers, faced with the massive accumulation of details now included for the first time, who won’t agree that the restored novel is richer, more complex, more Trollopian—a clearly superior book to the one that has always been published.
We can get a sense of the difference between the two versions by looking at the passages in Chapter 80 quoted above. “Hilarity” is an odd word to use in association with the Duke; Trollope deftly acknowledges this with an immediate qualification (“or, at any rate, the good humour”). “Their own fashion” makes an elegant complement to “their own hearts.” Moreover, the restored words in this sentence remind us of the generational change: young people in the nobility now feel much more entitled to “make themselves happy” when they marry. If the Duke merely reminded himself that he suffered, it would be easier to imagine him moving beyond the suffering. Instead, we get a sense of his lingering self-pity, as he specifically thinks about how “seldom” he has got “his own way.” His comment soon after about Frank’s manliness is now motivated by his observation about Silverbridge’s growth; we may wonder if the Duke has been comparing the two young men and marvelling at how far his son has come. We may also wonder why the Duke even mentions the possibility of Frank becoming “a much greater man than his father-in-law.” Is it because the Duke has been truly humbled, and has a deeper understanding of Frank’s potential? Is he being sarcastic? Is he trying to suggest that no matter how far Frank rises, there would always be something unpalatable about his start? Trollope leaves the answer up to the reader.
Most notable are the two endings. Given the title, it is apt that the final paragraph now in fact focuses on the Duke’s children, rather than on Frank. The humour of the restored ending also contains a genuine warning: Gerald really could make his father miserable—though probably not permanently, as he comes across as good-hearted and intelligent, especially with the cuts restored. And what occurs in this paragraph goes for the novel as a whole: the restored version has many more humorous touches and also has a darker edge.
We see, then, in just the last few pages of the book, how those cuts change the novel. In any single place, that change may be quite subtle. But, spread through eighty chapters and over a thousand pages of manuscript, the cumulative effect is enormous. What follows now is a discussion of the cuts, and why their restoration matters.
The Palliser novels as a whole are frequently referred to as Trollope’s “political” series. And if we return to the very start of The Duke’s Children—in fact, to its opening paragraph—it is evident how much greater a role politics will play in the longer version. Rather than simply learn that the Duke “had ceased to be Prime Minister” and then went abroad, we get a detailed reminder of “political changes” that occurred with the coalition government. Later, Trollope originally began Chapter 53 by saying, “During the next day or two the shooting went on without much interruption either from politics or from love-making.” He kept the love-making but not the politics, necessitating a long cut. Here is the paragraph in full:
During the next day or two the shooting went on without much interruption either from politics or from love-making. In politics there was not in truth very much to be done. The general conclusion among the politicians assembled seemed to be that if sufficient rope were allowed to that chief enemy, Sir Timothy Beeswax, he would probably hang himself, and that therefore it was desirable to give him as much rope as possible. Nothing could be done till the next spring. There was no chance that either Sir Timothy or Lord Drummond would resign till they had encountered the accidents of another session. Should the accidents of the session drive Sir Timothy from his position, then, it was thought, Mr. Monk must be selected as the only person in the House capable of forming a government. In that event the Duke would, if at the moment he found it possible, lend his cooperation to any arrangements that might be made. The meaning of this was that in the event of the party coming into power he would consent to be President of the Council and to fill the office which his old friend the Duke of St. Bungay positively refused to occupy again. In achieving this Mr. Monk, Phineas Finn, and Barrington Erle thought that they had achieved very much. The nucleus of a Liberal Cabinet was again made. There was no doubt that Lord Cantrip would join such a party. Barrington Erle and Phineas Finn, as they walked about the grounds on the second Sunday, previous to their departure on the Monday following, were able to fill up nearly all the important offices. Mr. Monk and the Duke were, perhaps, more intent upon the measures which they thought ought to be proposed to Parliament.
There are numerous passages such as this one about political manoeuverings and shenanigans—though not usually as long—in the reconstructed text.
With the political aspect of the novel more prominent, two major strands of the narrative are bolstered: the Duke’s gradual movement towards resuming an active role in the Liberal party, and Silverbridge’s gradual movement away from the Conservatives and towards the Liberals. Or perhaps we should call this one strand, in the way that the father and son move so much closer to one another. When in Chapter 67 Silverbridge writes a letter turning down an offer to second an address to be made by the Conservative Leader of Parliament, Sir Timothy Beeswax, he does it all by himself. Yet in a struck passage at the chapter’s end, Sir Timothy says, “I can trace the Duke’s hand in every word of it.” On a certain level, Sir Timothy is right: Silverbridge at this point has studied his father so closely that he can sound somewhat like him. Not long after, Trollope kept in a reference to “his father’s political badinage” (Chapter 71). But in the fuller version Silverbridge has participated in that badinage as well, telling about the “droll” proceedings. It is a light moment of father-son bonding before they get to the serious topic of Silverbridge’s marriage to Isabel, to which the Duke finally gives his consent. And if the Duke is quietly able to rejoice in his son’s political awakening, it is because he has had an awakening, or re-awakening, himself. Various restored passages show this transformation, such as when he becomes so “pleasantly excited” talking about politics with Phineas Finn that he offers to delay his travel plans just so they can talk more (Chapter 41), or when he causes the Conservative Lady Mabel Grex to say to Silverbridge, “You can’t think how many political secrets he has taught me. I am beginning to tremble in my shoes lest he should make me a Liberal” (Chapter 59).
The Duke does change gradually—if by change we mean his willingness to return to public life and to go along with what his children want. To some extent, he realises that he has been wrong—and not just about his children. In one especially poignant moment, omitted from the shortened novel, he reflects on how he took Glencora for granted: “In those former days many a long evening he had passed all alone in his library, satisfied with blue-books, newspapers, and speculations on political economy, and had never crossed the threshold of his wife’s drawing-room; but now, when there was no longer a threshold that he could cross, he felt himself to be deserted” (Chapter 27). Yet even here he does not tell himself explicitly that he should have behaved differently; it may be that he mostly just feels sorry for himself. He suffers immensely, but whether he is a much different person at the end of the novel is debatable. With his son Lord Silverbridge, however, there is no doubt: starting out as little more than a boy, he grows up bit by bit. That maturation is more fully rendered in the complete text—so much so that the title Lord Silverbridge, which Trollope considered (along with The Ex-Prime Minister and The Duke and His Children) before settling on The Duke’s Children, would be entirely fitting.
It is especially valuable to notice how much care Trollope takes, in the early chapters, to show us Silverbridge’s potential. When Silverbridge decides to tell the Duke about his joining the Conservative Party, he plans on a quick entrance and exit, not because he was “afraid,” but because “he had taught himself to think that fixed conversations with his father were disagreeable and should if possible be avoided” (Chapter 7). The Duke complains about what he sees as his son’s impetuous choice, saying, “You have never spoken to me on the subject in your life before,” to which Silverbridge has a sharp rejoinder: “Nor you to me, sir” (Chapter 7). Silverbridge here is wiser than we might have expected. No doubt he believes at this point that he has chosen conservatism because it is superior to liberalism, but he also understands on some level that he might have chosen differently if his father had ever given him any guidance. And though he still advises his brother, relatively early in the edited novel, to “stick to the Liberals. I’ve made an ass of myself,” the simple cut that follows is telling. For Silverbridge says, “I can see that already” (Chapter 25). Without this short sentence, Silverbridge might appear to be speaking disingenuously, claiming to have been “an ass” only because he wants to convince Gerald to be more obedient. It is unlikely that Silverbridge has yet thought about switching parties, but he does show that he has already done some soul-searching.
Silverbridge also comes alive more fully in the way that we see him falling in love with Isabel. After he first meets her, a restored section shows them talking about “the Phrenological Society,” a “great Dutch traveller,” and “a grand meeting of vivisectors” (Chapter 28). Isabel’s father says, “You mustn’t believe all the nonsense that my girl talks,” and Silverbridge “cheerfully” replies, “Oh yes, I do” (Chapter 28). A few days later he declares that “Americans are not foreigners” (Chapter 29), setting off a spirited debate. It suits him to think this way about Americans—if already, unconsciously, he is thinking about Isabel as his future wife. Unlike Mabel, who thinks of him as a boy who must be moulded, Isabel already treats him as a grown-up equal—and thus helps to bring out the best in him with each new encounter. Whereas in the reduced novel Isabel still might seem to have a sharper mind, the complete text suggests that she and Silverbridge will turn out to be intellectual equals as well.
In the second half of the novel, Trollope cut many details that depict Silverbridge’s growing maturity. Despite betting so rashly, and losing seventy thousand pounds—millions in today’s money—when his horse is maimed and can’t run the Leger, “he congratulated the winner with a pretty grace, and went down to look at the horse when he was stripped” (Chapter 44). When he arrives at an awkward dinner party—both Isabel and Mabel are in attendance—and shakes hands with everyone, he is calm and confident, “regarding them almost as being his own guests” (Chapter 52). And well he should, given how much more socially adept he is than his father. Later, when the hapless Dolly Longstaffe convinces himself that he is in love with Isabel, he asks Silverbridge to stop flirting with her. Since no one knows about the hoped-for nuptials—the couple is still awaiting the Duke’s blessing—Silverbridge has to figure out how to answer Dolly. “But in such a crisis he must be careful not to make a fool of himself. Before he ventured to speak he warned himself that as her name was in question he must be very careful. Therefore at the moment he said nothing” (Chapter 69). Soon, to prevent himself from losing his temper, “he got up and poked the fire, and altered the position of half-a-dozen things on the chimney-piece” (Chapter 69). The Silverbridge that we see here is more of a thinker, a strategiser, less boyishly impulsive than he was earlier. And because the political framework of the complete novel is so much more sturdy, Silverbridge’s increasing dissatisfaction with Sir Timothy Beeswax comes across as more thoughtful too—more insightful about the system and how leaders may fail.
This journey to manhood does not progress in a straight line, and Silverbridge continues to have moments, even late in the book, that show him to be young and unsure of himself—moments that are more prominent in the restored version. When he finally announces to Dolly his plans regarding Isabel, he does so by “drawing himself into some unintended assumption of dignity” (Chapter 69). The declaration that he will marry makes him feel like a grown-up, and so he assumes what is an exaggerated dignified pose. Only weeks earlier, when he tells his sister about his proposal to Isabel, and about the Duke’s opposition, he says, “It seems to me that nothing ever is right. I am always in hot water, and suppose I always shall be….We are all in the black books now and I don’t see how we are ever to get out again. I shall emigrate to the States and set up there as a politician” (Chapter 61). Like a child, he can’t see much beyond the present moment. Yet if he grows up in fits and starts, he does still grow. As Trollope had written in Phineas Redux, an ideal man will be “faithful to his friends, unsuspicious before the world, gentle with women, loving with children, considerate to his inferiors, kindly with servants, tender-hearted with all,—and at the same time be frank, of open speech, with springing eager energies” (Vol. 2, Chapter 68). Silverbridge by the end gives every indication of being such a man—one who, in his marriage with a vibrant American, can embrace a new world at the same time as he remains respectful of tradition.
“Though some lads will be men at twenty, others are then little more than children. The fruit that ripens the soonest is seldom the best” (Chapter 61). This passage, retained in the published version, had particular resonance for Trollope: he had just written about his own late ripening in An Autobiography. In The Duke’s Children, if Silverbridge emerges as “best” by the end, it is in contrast to his friend Frank Tregear, who is certainly a man, not a child, from the moment we meet him.
Frank is no villain; yet with the restoration of some passages in the early chapters, we are initially given cause to wonder, and a certain degree of ambiguity about his character lingers even at the end. One deleted paragraph is especially harsh: we learn about all the professions he has rejected and how, by the time he finished school, becoming a barrister was the best option. “But to the bar he made many objections. He did not, he said, like the duplicity. He did not, in truth, like the labour. He liked to be a gentleman at large, having certain vague ideas as to a future career in Parliament; and he tried, very much in vain, to satisfy himself by thinking that he could be content to live among gentlemen as a poor man” (Chapter 3). Not only is Frank averse to work, he also has a strong capacity for self-delusion, since he will never be content to remain poor and still live among the wealthy.
Though Frank has mentored Silverbridge and helped woo him to the Conservative Party, he is not unwilling to see his friend join the Liberals. His reasoning is understandable enough, as he recognises how his political alliance with Silverbridge might make the Duke all the more angry, and thus all the more opposed to him as a son-in-law. What is striking, though, is the deleted passage about how “the sacrifice would not be very great” to him (Chapter 4). Frank’s scorn for Silverbridge comes through here, as if the young Lord is so negligible a figure that to lose him as a political ally would be barely a sacrifice at all. At the end of the chapter, Frank sends a “chilly” message to Mrs. Phineas Finn (not “chilling,” which has always been erroneously printed), telling her about his plans for approaching the Duke and asking for Mary’s hand. For while the mother had known, and approved of, Frank and Mary’s romance, the father had been kept entirely in the dark; when Mrs. Finn learns the secret, she threatens to tell the Duke unless Frank goes to him immediately. Trollope omitted her reaction to Frank’s note: “ ‘Silly boy!’ she said to herself as she read the effusion. ‘Even if he had money he would not be fit to marry her’ ” (Chapter 4). If we remember Mrs. Finn as Madame Max Goesler from previous novels in the Palliser series, we know that she is never wrong. It so happens that she later does change her mind about Frank. Still, there is a difference between being “fit” and being truly admirable and likable, and these early glimpses of Frank contribute to the darker picture we get of him in the complete novel.
Frank’s unappealing side is on display in a cut section at the end of Chapter 9. He is deeply misleading when he tells Silverbridge that he and Mabel “have known each other so long that she is almost like a sister to me.” This may be technically true, but he leaves out something crucial: only a couple of years before, he was in love with Mabel and would have married her, but he had no prospects of an income that would support them in the manner in which they both wished to live. In the same conversation, Frank also says, “I look at her just as I would at a picture, and in that way I think she is the most beautiful thing to be seen in London.” We can perhaps understand better why he is so surprised to learn that she is upset about his new love. Mabel is a “picture” and a “thing,” not a full-fledged human being.
Later in the novel, Frank accompanies Silverbridge to the house of Reginald Dobbes to help make up a hunting party—except that Frank only hunts when he is in the mood to do so. His resistance to his host’s entreaties remains in the edited book; what’s missing is the full flavour of his hostility. He tells Dobbes, “It’s like the insanity of a man who keeps china cups and saucers and thinks that every moment of life is lost in which he is not looking after cups and saucers” (Chapter 38). Frank may have a point, but he is also being particularly abrasive to his host.
In urging Silverbridge to accept Sir Timothy’s offer to speak in Parliament, Frank tells him to disregard the fact that the offer never would have come if Silverbridge hadn’t been the son of the Duke of Omnium. However, Trollope cut something crucial: Frank’s words of wisdom about how a man “should be continuously taking steps upwards” (Chapter 67). And so the reader loses an opportunity, late in the book, to reflect on Frank’s lack of self-awareness: the main step upwards that this ambitious man took for himself was to find a very rich young woman to marry. No wonder that, even at the end of the novel, Frank still needs to convince himself that he did not fall in love with Mary because of her money, even though he knows that he never could have married her without her wealth. As he tells Mabel in a deleted section of a letter, his “conscience is not quite clear,—and yet when I argue the matter with myself I think that it ought to be clear. I do at any rate so far trust myself as to think that I shall make her a good husband” (Chapter 77). He may indeed turn out to be a good husband—or not; the complete version of the novel allows for more uncertainty. If we can be more confident about the future happiness of Silverbridge and Isabel, that’s because we’ve seen them fall in love; we recognise that their rapport is genuine. On the other hand, we know little about why Frank and Mary are drawn to each other. Their courtship takes place in Italy before the novel begins, and they are separated from one another for almost the entire story. Once the novelty of the marriage and his new social position wears off, it is conceivable that Frank’s surliness, and arrogance, and other troubling aspects of his personality will become predominant.
As can be expected with a novelist as attentive to psychology as Trollope, the cuts diminish all his characters—often softening some of their harder edges. To return to the Duke, he belittles his son to his face, after Silverbridge speaks confidently about his chances in the parliamentary election:
“You see,” said Lord Silverbridge, apparently thinking that he would receive all his father’s sympathy, “I have your influence and my own politics to support me.”
“My influence ought to be worth nothing,” said the angry Duke, “and your politics worth less.”
“Less than nothing!” exclaimed the son.
“As belonging to you. The facts that you are my son and that being so you call yourself a Conservative ought, together, to debar you from receiving a single vote. But of course I shall not interfere.” (Chapter 11)
And though the Duke has sought out Lord Popplecourt in a doomed attempt to find another lover for Mary, he struggles to be pleasant: “The young man was to him one who, perhaps, might be a son-in-law, but probably would not, and with whom he was already almost prepared to be angry as being a matter of annoyance,—a thorn to him” (Chapter 46). Even passages that might seem redundant can be meaningful. After Silverbridge insists that he is not “weak” in having changed his mind about whom to marry, the Duke responds by making the same point three times: “Did you not say exactly the same about Lady Mabel? When I questioned you, did you not assure me that you knew your own mind? Was it not so?” (Chapter 61). Only the first of these sentences was printed—obscuring how the Duke badgers his son.
There are similar harsh or steely moments with other characters in the longer novel. Mabel thinks about how she “would exact some penalty” to punish Frank “for his absolute desertion” (Chapter 56). Mary is unable to be generous towards Lady Cantrip, who had done her father’s bidding in putting forth Lord Popplecourt as a suitor; “though she had replied only by a look,” she shoots down the Duke’s request that Lady Cantrip be invited to the wedding (Chapter 80). Mrs. Finn rebukes the Duke, even after they are friends again, when she pointedly says, “I did what was best” with Mary and not merely what she thought was best. “There was a self-assurance about this which startled him”—and perhaps it startles the reader too, given that we have never seen her speak in quite this way to him (Chapter 41). On the other hand, Isabel shows less self-assurance, and more self-consciousness about her class background, telling herself that “they should all know the story of her grandfather, the porter” and then later in the same chapter telling Mary, “My father’s father was a labouring man,—a porter on the quays” (Chapter 47). Though this is information we’ve already been given, Isabel’s need to keep thinking about it is revealing. Her mother, Mrs. Boncassen, is surprisingly self-aware about her compromised status within her own family, as she “completely understood that it was her duty in life to be a sort of upper servant to Isabel” (Chapter 31). And Dolly Longstaffe may be joking, for the most part, when he remarks to Popplecourt, “Upon the whole fathers are mistakes. I don’t want to get rid of mine, but I never could see that he was of any good to me. If I hadn’t had a father perhaps some feminine swell would have jumped down my throat” (Chapter 46). But he is licking his wounds after Isabel has rejected him; comparing himself to Popplecourt, who has already come into his inheritance, he does imagine that he would be more successful with his preferred “swell” if his own father were not in the way.
Trollope’s affection for most of the characters mentioned above is palpable, with the darker touches serving to add more nuance. Such affection may seem to be missing in his portrayal of Major Tifto, whose resentment towards Silverbridge causes him to put a nail into the foot of their horse Prime Minister on the eve of the Leger. Yet the restored novel presents an altered picture, with many more details that humanise him. For instance, we can understand better why Tifto, after being insulted by Silverbridge, is so pleased by the Duke’s light-hearted response, for “To have had a joke made for his express behoof by the Duke of Omnium,—a fact of which he could talk in all societies without lying for the next two years,—was more than consolation to him for his friend’s ill nature” (Chapter 27). Of course Tifto wants to brag; what is especially poignant here is how it matters to him that he do so without fibbing. He does wish to be an honest man, and finally gets to be one at the end—but only in the complete text. Instead of disappearing in shame, and accepting one hundred pounds a year from Silverbridge, “In process of time Tifto married a publican’s daughter under the name of Henry Walker, and, having inherited his father-in-law’s business, lived to be able to tell his noble patron that the pension was no longer needed” (Chapter 75). We may doubt whether the name change was made legally—so there are limits to this new honesty—but the larger point is evident: Tifto, or Walker, is able to make a living in a legitimate business, and he has enough integrity to reject money from a man whom he had cheated.
Finally in discussing Trollope’s characterisations, it is fascinating to see how even very minor figures make more of an impression in the restored version. Miss Cassewary, who acts as a kind of guardian to Mabel—but a guardian without any power—is an example. Mabel’s father, Lord Grex, says “very nasty words” about her after complaining that their London house is too expensive—as if his paying room and board for Miss Cassewary is a major factor in his financial woes (Chapter 20). Later in the chapter Trollope did not delete most of the conversation between Mabel and Miss Cassewary, or how the latter was prepared to go to Mrs. Montacute Jones’ ball but was glad to be able to sleep instead. Yet various details were cut, such as how much “trouble she had thus taken” in getting dressed and how she “had begun to strip herself of her finery” at the time that Mabel enters her bedroom. Later, in Chapter 58, instead of just having “a brother,” that brother is given a profession (he is the Rev. Mr. Cassewary) and a parish (Stogpingum). Though she is always in the background, Trollope wants us to remember that the Miss Cassewarys of the world are as fully human as anyone else. We get a deeper sense of the difficulty of her life when her tyrant of a benefactor derides her, or when she has to take trouble to dress well for a social gathering at which she can hardly feel comfortable, or when she has only been able to begin to undress before she must make herself available to her benefactor’s daughter.
The accumulation of small details matters not only in making the characters more vivid, but in evoking echoes and associations throughout the novel. When Silverbridge, in a deleted passage, tells Tifto in a letter that “I am obliged to decline any further correspondence with you on this subject,—and perhaps I had better say on any other” (Chapter 58), this reminds us of the Duke’s own earlier letters to Mrs. Finn and to Frank. A small restored cut—how Silverbridge uses “his own phraseology” (Chapter 67) when writing Isabel to say that he has finally spoken to his father about wanting to marry her—makes us more likely to recall how, earlier, an older friend, Mr. Lupton, had “dictated the answers” (Chapter 58) when Silverbridge had to write both Tifto and Jeremiah Jawstock regarding the Major’s guilt or innocence. In Chapter 68, Trollope’s cuts make it less clear that Silverbridge is dining alone at the Beargarden, when “he had of course expected to lunch” with Isabel. Like father, like son: as we know, the Duke dines alone often himself. And we saw above how Silverbridge fretted about being permanently in “the black books” (Chapter 61)—which may make us remember the “blue-books” that the Duke was so consumed with that he rarely crossed the “threshold” to spend time with his wife in the evening (Chapter 27). Later, in another deleted passage, the Duke goes on a train and “occupied himself with his newspapers and parliamentary documents,—blue-books and returns, with the contents of which he thought it necessary that he should be familiar before the next session” (Chapter 50). By the end, Silverbridge is fully out of the black books, while the Duke, as a member of the new government, is fully into the blue-books—though perhaps this time, if he has learned anything, the Duke won’t ignore the living members of his family quite so much.
Those tiny “links” and “infinitesimal allusions,” then—the kind, as we saw earlier, that made Trollope unwilling to risk any changes in the plot, or to reduce the novel from eighty chapters—still were compromised when he removed so many details from the text. Sometimes such links and allusions occur in the way Trollope framed his chapters. For instance, in “Polpenno” (Chapter 55), we see how the candidates must degrade themselves in order to be elected—most powerfully, in the last few pages, when the umbrellas come out. The first two restored paragraphs help set this up: not only do we get a glimpse of past shenanigans, we also see how the seat shouldn’t still exist, as “most politicians were agreed that it ought to have been abolished by some Reform Bill.” Still, “the Liberals had at any rate retained their hold on the borough down to the present date,” and now “Mr. Carbottle, coming whence nobody knew, or recommended by whom very few understood, was on his way down from London” to win the seat after the Liberal Simon Carstairs has died. “But it was known that Mr. Carbottle was a man of means. It was soon whispered about that he had made a large fortune in the indigo trade, and that he did not very much care what he spent so that he could get into Parliament.” Our knowledge at the beginning of the chapter makes the electioneering later seem all the more tawdry. Trollope, himself “an advanced, but still a conservative Liberal” (An Autobiography, Chapter 16), does take sides; Silverbridge’s shift in affiliation from Conservative to Liberal is a positive development, not only because it unites him with his father, but because his father’s political philosophy (espoused in Phineas Redux, and identical to Trollope’s own) is superior. But foolishness exists on all sides of the political spectrum, as this chapter demonstrates.
Though Trollope did cut out a number of chapter beginnings, more often it is their endings that disappeared. We already saw this with Gerald’s comments, at the close of the novel, about his turn coming next; with Mrs. Finn’s thoughts on Frank’s worthiness (Chapter 4); with Sir Timothy’s sneering remarks about Silverbridge’s letter (Chapter 67); and with Major Tifto’s thoughts about his annuity (Chapter 75). Another example is the conversation Silverbridge and the Duke have about fixing a wedding date for Mary. The Duke says “gravely” that he “will think about it” (Chapter 78)—thus ending the chapter on a very different tone, as in the edited version he is “laughing” about Silverbridge’s “republican bride-elect.” The sombre tone is more appropriate, for though the Duke is capable of lighter moments, his heart is still heavy. Whereas in the following chapter, the edited version ends on a more serious note than the restored version does: in the latter, Isabel provides reassurance to her mother by saying that “It is but ten days across the Atlantic. The years in which you won’t come to us we will go to you” (Chapter 79). Isabel’s remarks lighten the mood while reaffirming her devotion to her mother, for Mrs. Boncassen no doubt does fear that she is losing her for ever.
Trollope’s manipulation of tone is a crucial part of his artistry. Often, his injection of humour into a sombre scene serves as a kind of comic relief. When Mabel has to navigate a difficult task—keeping her promise to advance Frank’s cause without hurting her own chances—we are told in the complete text that “the Duke devoted some period of his afternoons to Lady Mabel, and instructed her also in the beauty of tenths, and in the hideous deformity of dozens” (Chapter 56). Or, even in chapters that retain much of their humour—as is the case with “A Family Breakfast-Table”—some sterling moments are lost. For instance, while we still learn that Gerald was sent “headlong among his kidneys” when the Duke speechifies, we lose how “Silverbridge sat back in his chair prepared to listen with filial patience” (Chapter 25). And though Trollope retained Gerald’s remark about enjoying the kidneys, the young man may indeed sound, in the shortened version, as if he is responding “pertinaciously.” Instead, in the longer text, the father “almost angrily” rebukes him, saying, “It all began about that breakfast which your brother had ordered. Though you add luxury to luxury you will not really gratify your taste,” to which Gerald replies, “I did enjoy the kidneys, sir” (“at any rate I have enjoyed the kidneys” in the edited version). Not only does Gerald’s remark come across as more humorous, it makes more sense psychologically, too, for with the Duke almost losing his temper, Gerald attempts to defuse the tension by mentioning the food.
Intrusive, sometimes digressive remarks by the narrator—a major part of Trollope’s arsenal earlier in his career, more selectively intertwined later—also often add colour. The edited text keeps one sentence explaining that “convivial lunches” are a bad idea; the complete text tells us, at length, exactly why (Chapter 70). Similarly, while the edited version informs us that a bride-to-be will have great interest in first visiting the house where she will live, the restored text contains a long, entertaining explanation (Chapter 72). And in the final chapter, the narrator apologises for continuing to use the name “Isabel”: “she shall be so called in these last few pages, although the reader is well aware that even in such a chronicle as this, young ladies’ Christian names should not be treated with freedom after marriage” (Chapter 80). In this case, the break with tradition regarding names matches the spirit of the ending, for in their union, Isabel and Silverbridge blend the old world with the new, and point the way toward a less stiff, less formal future.
Other details that do relatively little to advance plot or characterisation still make the novel more animated; at the same time, they often create small differences in the novel’s pacing and dramatic tension. As Captain Green woos Major Tifto, convincing him to bet against, and maim, his own horse, “the Captain paused, emptied his glass, refilled it, and lit his pipe, which had been allowed to extinguish itself in the heat of the argument with the groom” (Chapter 36). This deleted sentence, coming before the one that Trollope retained about Tifto “meditating,” slows down the scene, giving TIfto more time to contemplate a move that will go against his better nature. Or as Tifto’s position as Master of the Runnymede Hunt is discussed, many restored details bring the gathering at “The Bobtailed Fox” to life. One omitted paragraph includes a conflict about who gets to attend the meeting. Given how difficult it is to figure out who is a member and who is not, almost everyone is let in. However, “On one occasion there was a little noise. ‘You ain’t a penny paid these two years and I’m blowed if you shall go in,’ said one of the young farmers at the door, and then the impecunious sportsman was thrust rather rudely down the stairs” (Chapter 57). Later, when the vote is taken, “there was squabbling; one man was alleged to have held up two hands, and another to have attempted to oblige both parties by holding up the same hand twice” (Chapter 57). Trollope’s writing might seem somewhat perfunctory in the edited chapter—but not when so many rich details are now included.
For the reduced novel, Trollope also cut many details related to time and space and place. In the edited version of “Miss Boncassen’s River-Party, No. 1,” we are told, in general terms, how “thrice within the next three weeks did Lord Silverbridge go forth to ask Mabel to be his wife” (Chapter 31). The complete version is more satisfyingly concrete: “Twice before the expiration of that June month, and once early in July, did Lord Silverbridge sally forth from his own house, or from the club, or from the House of Commons with the full intention of asking Mabel Grex to be his wife.” When the tables are turned, and Mabel seeks an opportunity to speak with Silverbridge privately to try to change his mind, we learn in the edited text that “On the next day, he managed so that there should be no walk with Mabel” (Chapter 60), instead of how “On the next day, the Friday, he managed to be out among the coverts, or in the stables, or about the park the entire day, so that there should be no walk with Mabel.”
Though such details add colour, and help orient the reader, they are not strictly necessary; it bears repeating that Trollope did an impressive job of editing. (If he hadn’t, and the published version of The Duke’s Children had been an utter mess, someone surely would have been impelled to restore the novel decades ago.) Still, there are various places where the cuts do create awkward gaps. Early in the novel, Silverbridge says to Frank “You needn’t preach” when Frank advises him to rescind an invitation to Tifto. Except there is no preaching in the shorter version; that preaching occurs with Frank’s deleted comment: “The matter is important, and therefore I have no hesitation in saying that it would be a very foolish thing to do” (Chapter 14). When Frank lies in bed after a serious hunting accident, the doctor gives “a by no means good account of the state of the patient” (Chapter 64). Yet the next sentence in the edited version sounds good enough: “The doctor had declared him to be out of immediate danger, and had set the broken bones.” Missing is the remainder of that sentence: “but had not given a cheerful view of his patient’s condition.”
Though there are a number of other such gaps, they are similarly subtle; page after page, the book flows smoothly despite the massive cuts. We could go further and say that some of the cuts improve the novel. Few readers will miss all the “very”s and “at any rate”s that were taken out. And although Trollope still left in a number of plot reminders, especially for those reading the book serially in All the Year Round, he also cut some of them. (No doubt it helped that All the Year Round was published weekly, not monthly, so that regular readers would not be as apt to forget what took place in the most recent chapters.) Very occasionally, too, Trollope was able to tighten a passage so as to make it crisper and more effective. One example is when Silverbridge ends a letter bemoaning the fact that he doesn’t have enough time to ride his horses. Though we still hear that “The last sentence gave rise in the Duke’s mind to the necessity of a very elaborate memorandum on the subject of amusements generally” (Chapter 56), we are spared details about what that elaborate memorandum would say. We already know how the Duke feels on the subject; by leaving in just the one-sentence paragraph and cutting the rest, Trollope is able to emphasise, humorously, how crotchety the Duke is.
Yet it should also be said that even when Trollope is redundant, he is rarely merely redundant. Here is the omitted section about amusements:
It was becoming, he thought, the great fault of the higher ranks in England to seek the means of expending their energy in useless play rather than in useful labour. Men such as his son could not be idle. Life was not pleasant to them unless they could work hard. To toil was a necessity to them. But, under the dominion of fashion, they sacrificed themselves to employments which could have no beneficial results. His son could not forgive himself because he had not hunted so many days,—as another young man might be angry with himself because he had not read so many hours! In this way the best energies of the country were being wasted. The Duke made a very strong memorandum within his own mind on this subject.
It is intriguing how the Duke shifts several times between thinking about his son and thinking about the larger matter of what his son represents. On the one hand, it is noble of him to be concerned with the societal implications of all these modern-day “employments.” On the other hand, at this moment he is still not treating his son as an individual, not understanding that Silverbridge in fact is moving towards a healthy balance of work and play. On yet another hand, he does care, and honestly believes that his son will be unhappy if he is idle. The humour created by the cut is lost, replaced by these earnest thoughts about “higher ranks” that are covered elsewhere in the novel. Yet the movement of mind that Trollope depicts is revealing—as it is elsewhere in the interior monologues that he shortened—so that even here it is questionable about whether the cut is an improvement.
Moreover, with physical books there is value sometimes in bulkiness itself. But, whereas The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867) announces its importance with its title (a “last chronicle” sounding quite momentous) and with its massive size, The Duke’s Children, in its lean version especially, makes a far more modest first impression. Trollope wrote in his autobiography that the “string of characters” (Chapter 10) from the Palliser series represented “the best work of my life.” (He was speaking of Can You Forgive Her?, Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, and The Prime Minister; he did not include The Eustace Diamonds, no doubt because Glencora and Plantagenet are comparatively minor figures in that work.) It is only appropriate that the conclusion to this series literally feels weightier when we hold the complete novel in our hands. Thematically, also, there’s a case against too much leanness. It becomes evident hundreds of pages before the end that the Duke will have to give in. Yet as he resists the inevitable closure, so too, in a sense, does The Duke’s Children, and the Palliser series, as a whole.
There is always the possibility that, had Trollope not died in 1882 and instead lived healthily for many more years, he would have written another Palliser novel. Certainly there is no grand farewell to preclude such a return, unlike in The Last Chronicle of Barset, which, to go along with its title, includes several elegiac final pages. The circumstances were different: by ending the Barsetshire series when he did, Trollope avoided the risk of falling into an artistic rut. It might have been too easy to cash in with more of these immensely popular novels, even if he had no burning desire to write them; by making such a public promise about this “last” novel, Trollope made it easier for himself to resist temptation. There was no need for any such promises when he wrote The Duke’s Children. Still, given how Trollope felt about the Palliser series, it is hard to imagine that he wouldn’t have written some sort of farewell if he were certain that this was the end. Yet even if Trollope only believed that this might be the last chronicle of the Pallisers, he was remarkably unsentimental about it. Had he been too sentimental, of course, he never would have been able to cut so much of the novel; but even in the original text from 1876, there is little on the surface to indicate that this book meant any more to him than the dozens of others that had come before.
Yet from the start the novel is imbued with deep feeling, and loss, and hunger for the past. One deleted passage in Chapter 1, about how utterly alone the Duke finds himself after Glencora’s death, directly reminds us of the very beginning of the series:
The friend whom he most trusted was a certain Mrs. Grey. She had been a distant cousin of his wife, and with her he had always maintained something like real friendship. He and his wife, who on such matters were often at variance, had agreed in valuing the society of this lady, and in the early days of the Duke’s married life she had been much with them; but any close social intercourse with persons so far above him in rank had hardly suited Mr. Grey’s views, and he had somewhat discouraged the near intimacy which the Duchess certainly would have liked. But the poor widower, when he looked about thinking where he might find assistance, turned his mind more frequently to Mrs. Grey than to any other female friend.
This is the longest of various deleted references to characters from the Palliser series. Surely now we can in fact forgive Alice Grey, the former Alice Vavasor, for dithering so much in regard to her marriage, as “Mr. Grey’s views” prevail, at least “somewhat”: we might fear that she has lost some individuality in her fade to “grey.” But what is most significant about the passage is what it tells us about the Duke. That he was able to have “something like real friendship” with Alice reminds us that he doesn’t have something that is real friendship, and that perhaps he never had it with his wife, much as he misses her, for they were “often at variance” from the start. His preference for Alice immediately warns us that he is not fully comfortable with any other woman—so that his sudden anger later towards Mrs. Finn, when he accuses her of having deceived him, is all the more believable. It is a sombre opening chapter, made even more sombre by the passages, also deleted, about how, soon after the funeral, the Duke experienced “morbid self-debasement” and how “the father and his eldest son had not parted altogether on pleasant terms with each other.”
Yet when we reread the paragraph about Mrs. Grey after we finish the novel, we also see how Trollope has planted the seeds for an ending that provides real hope for the Duke. For there is every reason to believe that he does now have true friendship with Mrs. Finn—and, even more importantly, with the son who is now a full-grown man and political confidant, someone with whom he can chat on a comfortable stroll in the park. How things turn out must be left our imagination, and we may indeed be sorry that Trollope did not live to write another Palliser novel—perhaps one with the Duke in old age. Trollope wrote in An Autobiography, “I do not think it probable that my name will remain among those who in the next century will be known as the writers of English prose fiction;—but if it does, that permanence of success will probably rest on the characters of Plantagenet Palliser, Lady Glencora, and the Rev. Mr. Crawley” (Chapter 20). Lady Glencora was dead, and it is hard to imagine Trollope going any further with Mr. Crawley; however, a novel about the elderly Duke—perhaps with a second wife?—might have been quite satisfying for both the author and his readers. If we cannot, however, have more of the Duke, we can now at least have more of The Duke’s Children.
Notes on the Editing
This project began in 2002, with a grant I received from the City University of New York for a project titled “Trollope’s Manuscripts and the Conclusion of the Palliser Series.” I had finished a dissertation on Trollope several years earlier and also curated a 1998 exhibit at New York University’s Fales Library. (In case there is any confusion, it should be noted here that the City University of New York and New York University are two very distinct institutions.) For both the exhibit and the dissertation I made extensive use of Trollope’s An Autobiography, and had studied the manuscript of the book at the British Library, along with his working papers at the Bodleian. I was eager to look at Trollope’s other surviving manuscripts, almost all of which are in the United States—a great many at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Their Anthony Trollope Collection contains such major novels as Can You Forgive Her? and The Last Chronicle of Barset. Among the works in their Chauncey Brewster Tinker Manuscript Collection are such Trollope novels as Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux—and The Duke’s Children.
I had no set aim other than to explore The Duke’s Children manuscript in depth and to see what I could discover; my only certainty was that there would be plenty to say. There had previously been brief discussions of the cuts Trollope had made—including several pages in Andrew Wright’s excellent essay “Trollope Revises Trollop” (1982)—but no deeply exhaustive study. I wanted to look at some of the other manuscripts too in order to get a better sense of what Trollope’s typical editing practices were.
In the spring of 2003 and winter of 2004 I presented my research at the Trollope Society in New York: first at a three-session seminar on The Duke’s Children, next at a lecture. I had made it clear during both the seminar and lecture that, messy as the manuscript was, it would be possible to reconstruct what Trollope had originally written and publish the complete text. Bob Wiseman, a longtime Trollope Society member and former librarian, offered to help me, and we began to plug away. In July 2006 I gave a paper at the University of Exeter about The Duke’s Children manuscript at the “Trollope and Gender” conference, where I spoke with numerous scholars: clearly they had huge interest in seeing the complete novel published. Among them was Susan Humphreys, a book publisher from Tucson, Arizona, who had written a dissertation on Trollope’s working methods and who now offered to help me and Bob with the project.
In the fall of 2007 and the fall of 2008, CUNY gave me a full sabbatical to work on the book, and a reduced workload for several semesters thereafter, including the fall of 2013 when it was imperative that I finish in time for the bicentenary. My article, “Trollope at Fuller Length: Lord Silverbridge and the Manuscript of The Duke’s Children,” was published in 2009 in a collection of essays from the Exeter conference titled The Politics of Gender in Anthony Trollope’s Novels: New Readings for the Twenty-first Century, edited by Margaret Markwick, Deborah Denenholz Morse, and Regenia Gagnier. My introduction here for the Folio Society is entirely new; yet though my emphasis and most of my examples are different in that earlier article, I would still make the same arguments today.
There were three main phases in the editing process. First, using the text online and a photocopy of the manuscript (later turned to a PDF) supplied by the Beinecke, we made an initial effort to reconstruct the complete novel. The focus then was trying to ascertain, without getting too bogged down, what was underneath the thousands of crossed-out words in a manuscript of 1066 pages. In the second phase, we went through the manuscript once again, this time with extensive back-and-forth discussions about the reconstructed text. Though we had had some of those discussions the first time around too, we were now fully focused on getting every last detail right. In this second phase we were able to go back to the manuscript, a year or two or more later, with relatively fresh eyes; and indeed in a number of cases we were able to correct our own previous misreadings—or fill in readings that we hadn’t figured out that first time around. By the end of the second phase, we had what we felt was a highly accurate version. Third was the collation: checking our complete text against the first edition of the novel published by Chapman & Hall in 1880. The aim here was to account for, and include, changes that Trollope would have made in proofs. Bob and I worked closely together at all times, and Susan was an invaluable participant at innumerable points along the way, most crucially in the second phase. She flew east for a number of “summit” meetings where the three of us discussed many issues, and was in charge of finding a publisher. Thanks to her we have formed this fruitful collaboration with both the Trollope Society in England and the Folio Society.
The reconstruction would have been impossible if Trollope had not, in a sense, allowed it to proceed by making a key stylistic change. In 1876, when omitting or replacing a word or several words in the manuscript, he used a compressed wavy line; often, one can barely see underneath it, if at all. In 1878, however, when he was cutting for space in preparation for publication, he made do with a simple straight line for such changes; for longer cuts of, say, a full paragraph, he often used either an X or a very loose wavy line, neither of which obscured the words that were eliminated. There were exceptions: only one or two places where a wavy line covered a space-saving cut, and several dozen places where a straight line covered a revision that was made for reasons other than space. Yet the context allowed us to recognise when these exceptions occurred. Our difficulty with the manuscript was much more basic: Trollope’s penmanship at this stage of his life was abysmal. (Indeed, beginning in 1878 with Ayala’s Angel and Cousin Henry, his niece Florence Bland became his amanuensis, though Trollope continued to write parts of his new manuscripts in his own hand.) The Duke’s Children is written entirely in his hand. Deciphering his words, with lines running through them, took a great deal of patience. Yet from the beginning I felt that time and teamwork would get us through. I include a list—gratifyingly short—of remaining mysteries in the Appendix.
I made all editorial decisions, though only after much discussion. In the process, I compiled some hundreds of pages of notes, a version of which I plan to publish online soon. Editing is a fascinating and tricky and highly contested endeavour. No one will agree with every single decision, but I do wish to be transparent on the website about what those many decisions were and why I made them.
One recurring difficulty was assessing the status of additions that Trollope included on the manuscript. Usually these were replacements for the cuts—to get across, in a condensed form, crucial information. Yet it was not always obvious that these were in fact replacements—especially when they appeared far away from the actual cut. For, as can be seen on his other manuscripts, Trollope did also add words for clarification or nuance. Another difficulty was answering the question, what would Trollope have done? That is, if he had not cut something and then seen it in proofs, what changes would he have likely made? I tried to be careful and not become too aggressive in imposing alternatives; on the other hand, I felt it would be unfair to Trollope to print every single crossed-out word, when they were clunky or just plain wrong.
With collation came other decisions. Though at first I assumed that Trollope continued to make space-saving alterations in proofs, the evidence showed otherwise. There were places in each chapter where more words were indeed cut, but there were also a number of spots (though not as many) where words were added instead. Most of these changes first appeared in All the Year Round, and then were carried over to the Chapman & Hall first edition. It was usually impossible to see, when we checked All the Year Round, how any of the new cuts would have saved space, as nearly each paragraph took up the same number of lines as it would have with the word or words put back in. And there is no evidence that Trollope still had a mindset for cutting; numerous sentences that would seem to be candidates for omission were left untouched. Most certainly, then, the modifications that showed up in All the Year Round and the first edition were attempts at further polishing. Yet I had to figure out why Trollope was doing the polishing (though it’s not altogether possible, in any given instance, to be certain whether he made the change, or the printer did). If there had been a space-saving cut, and Trollope had seen the paragraph in its original form, would he have still made the change in proofs? Often, there were persuasive reasons to believe that the answer was no.
The most difficult choice was not about substantives, but about punctuation. There were, I thought, two reasonable approaches, though neither was ideal: to follow Trollope’s manuscript, except where the punctuation was out and out unfeasible, or to follow Chapman & Hall, which respected most of the idiosyncratic decisions Trollope made but also did a fair amount of editing. Ultimately—how often we talked about this in the early years!—I made a split decision: to use Trollope’s manuscript punctuation for dialogue, and to use Chapman & Hall for narration (with exceptions in rare cases if the punctuation in either caused the reader to stumble). Too much flavour is sacrificed when the punctuation is smoothed out and such things as comma-dashes and semicolon-dashes become just plain dashes, as occurs in All the Year Round and in the Trollope Society edition. Yet while Chapman & Hall made sensible, and mostly welcome, changes in the narration punctuation, over and over again they misunderstood the particular nuances that Trollope was trying to convey in his dialogue. Here is Trollope in a letter from 3 April 1879, to Alexander Ireland about Cousin Henry:
May I ask you to ask your printers to let me have my own way about my own paragraphs. They have an idea as to the arrangement of dialogue opposed to my idea. I will not contest the question with them as [to] which is right. But I am exasperated. It is my duty to write as I think best, and theirs to print as I write.
I should not trouble you but that they persevere after former special requests made to them. The intelligence of printers and their sedulous care is beyond all praise. I have met none superior to yours. They read my bad writing, and no doubt often correct my bad spelling. But they should not alter my forms of expression, because they do not, and cannot, know my purpose.
Trollope’s singling out of dialogue here is telling. Though he worked quickly (and often forgot, say, to put in question marks, as in the first sentence of his letter to Ireland), he heard his characters speaking, and trained himself to use punctuation to convey what he heard. Of course he heard his other sentences as well; as he wrote in An Autobiography, the successful novelist “must so train his ear that he shall be able to weigh the rhythm of every word as it falls from his pen. This, when it has been done for a time, even for a short time, will become so habitual to him that he will have appreciated the metrical duration of every syllable before it shall have dared to show itself upon paper” (Chapter 12). But something different was going on when the characters themselves weren’t talking: there is at times a carelessness about Trollope’s use of commas and semicolons and dashes in the narration that is rare in his dialogue. Chapman & Hall was right to make tweaks—not massive revisions—in the narration punctuation, but those same tweaks in dialogue did too much damage to Trollope’s “forms of expression” and “purpose.” I’ve included examples in a list in the Appendix.
Trollope might have allowed Chapman & Hall some leeway, trusting his ear enough to pick up on any changes in punctuation that he disliked; we have no way of knowing, in the many places where the first edition and the manuscript have the same punctuation, how often he intervened in proofs to make it the same. There is no doubt, however, that in this regard his trust was misplaced: Trollope was a hasty and careless proofreader. We are noting here (see the Appendix) close to 175 errors that appeared in the first edition and that have continued to be reprinted. This doesn’t include an even longer list of errors that have since been corrected in modern editions. Tenure/tenor, reported/reputed, expected/expedient, inviting/visiting, indifference/diffidence, overdue/undue: the roll-call of mishaps goes on and on. In most of these cases, Trollope wrote the correct word in the manuscript but the compositor blundered, and no one caught the error. In a few (“party-coloured stockings” rather than the correct “parti-coloured stockings”), Trollope misspelled the word, and the misspelling has persisted. In his letters at various points in his career, we can see Trollope gesturing towards a more thorough proofreading effort as he makes direct requests for the return of his manuscripts: “I should like to have the Mss with the proofs. A man sometimes is at a loss for his own meaning till he sees his own Mss” (25 November 1859) and, nearly twenty years later, “will you please have sent to me with the proofs the MS, which I always want for reference and like to keep” (6 March 1878). Trollope did eventually have the manuscript of The Duke’s Children returned to him, and it remained in the family until 1918 when his son Henry donated it to a Red Cross sale. Yet if he got it back at the proofreading stage, he does not appear to have consulted it consistently.
These errors indeed appeared in the first edition, but in fact nearly all of them showed up initially in All the Year Round. We have based our collation on the first edition, rather than All the Year Round, because it is more of Trollope’s “final word” on the text—and because the punctuation does capture the flavour of his writing more than All the Year Round does. We have also used the first-edition spelling and capitalisation style, though there were still a number of decisions to make, given how inconsistent the first edition sometimes was.
Evidently the compositors at Chapman & Hall were working with both the manuscript and copies from All the Year Round. It wouldn’t have been possible for the punctuation to be so similar in the first edition if it hadn’t been directly taken from the manuscript, yet it also wouldn’t have been possible for so many of the same misreadings to be the same if they hadn’t been taken from All the Year Round. Given all the cross-outs, and Trollope’s difficult handwriting, the compositors must have relied quite heavily on All the Year Round to speed the process. Even without needing to worry about what was underneath those lines, they would have found the manuscript daunting.
And could Trollope have found the manuscript daunting too? I speak here about the tantalising possibility that he might have published the complete novel with Chapman & Hall but was unwilling to write out a new clean copy of the text with the cuts restored. Had he not wanted anyone to decipher his original text, he could have crossed out more emphatically—as he did with the initial wavy lines before he knew that he would be shortening the novel. It seems reasonable to infer that, when Trollope did make the cuts, he wanted to leave open the possibility that someday they could be restored. Yet he didn’t do it himself. Clues as to his thinking in this matter emerge in the letter he wrote about John Caldigate that I quoted from briefly earlier:
If you wish to have the matter reduced, that is a much more difficult, and is, indeed, a very difficult affair. Even in that case you would have to put 5 chapters each into 4 of the numbers; but I should have to reduce the amount of each chapter so as to bring them within the number of pages you could allow. In this case it will be much better done on the proof than on the MS.
If done on the MS it would have to be recopied for Chapman;—because the reduction of matter would not be carried on in the re-published form. If you cannot allow the full number of pages required for those numbers which are to have the 5 chapters, you had better, in sending me the proofs, tell me what reduction you require,—or how many pages you can allow. Then I will make the reduction accordingly,—but with an aching heart! (11 October 1878)
Trollope says definitively that Chapman & Hall would publish the complete version of John Caldigate, even if the novel were shortened for serialisation. By explaining that “it would have to be recopied” if cuts were made directly on the manuscript, he makes the case for putting the cuts on the proofs instead, so that Chapman & Hall could work with an easier-to-read manuscript. Or, perhaps, someone else could do the recopying if cuts were made on the manuscript. What seems evident in the use of the passive voice is that Trollope himself did not volunteer for the task. He will cut if forced to, and will certainly embrace the opportunity to publish the complete novel that he wrote. But he will not readily do more.
Trollope had spent his entire career not dawdling, but going rapidly from one project to the next. He maintained a remarkable fertility right until the end, avoiding the fate of those authors whose work becomes “one piece of stiff mechanism” and sheer “woodenness” (An Autobiography, Chapter 12). Much as the prospect pained him, it is possible that he could tolerate cutting The Duke’s Children (or John Caldigate) as a new intellectual challenge. There would be no challenge, just drudgery, in recopying the novel, or reading it out loud while Florence Bland wrote out the words. Trollope instead preferred to move on. As we now pause to celebrate his two hundredth birthday, let us be thankful for the sheer magnitude of his career, for publishing, arguably, more first-rate novels than anyone else in the English language—and for leaving behind a manuscript that lets us appreciate in a new way the heights of artistry that he was able to reach.
© Steven Amarnick 2015