Of course among the other changes of sixty 강서오피 years {49}language had changed. There had been a change especially in pronunciation, a little before my time. Only very old and old-fashioned people continued in my earliest years to say Room for Rome; gould for gold; obleege for oblige; Jeames for James (one of our chaplains at Winchester, I remember, always used to speak of St. Jeames); a beef-steek for a beef-steak; or to pronounce the “a” in danger, stranger, and the like, as it is in “man.” But it is a singular fact, that despite the spread, and supposed improvement of education, the literary—or perhaps it would be better to say the printed—language of the earlier decades of the nineteenth century was much more correct than that of the latter part of it. I constantly find passages in books and newspapers written with the sublimest indifference to all grammatical rules, and all proprieties of construction. A popular writer of fiction says that her hero “rose his head”! And another tells her readers that something happened when “the brunt of the edge had worn off”! There are certain words, such as “idiosyncrasy,” “type,” “momentary,” and many others which I cannot while writing recollect, which are constantly used, not by one writer only, but by many, to express meanings wholly different from those which they really bear. There is another word which is worth mentioning, because the misuse of it is rapidly becoming endemic. I mean the verb trouble; which it seems to me all the world before the birth of the present generation very well knew to be an active not a neuter verb. Now scarcely a day passes without my meeting with such phrases as{50} “he did not trouble,” meaning, trouble himself; “I hope you won’t trouble,” instead of trouble yourself. To old-fashioned ears it seems a detestable vulgarism. But as far as I can gather from observing books that have a greater, and books that have a lesser degree, of success, and from the remarks of the critical journals, a book is in these latter days deemed none the worse, nor is at all less likely to find favour with the public, because it is full of grammatical or linguistic solecisms. Now certainly this is an instance and indication of changed ideas; for it assuredly was not the case when George the Third was king.

Another difference between that day and this of very considerable social significance may be observed in the character and development of the slang in use. There was at the former period very little slang of the kind that may be considered universal. Different classes had different phrases and locutions that were peculiar to them, and served more or less as a bond of union and exclusiveness as regarded outsiders. The criminal classes had their slang. The Universities had theirs. There was costermongers’ slang. And there was a slang peculiar to the inner circles of the fashionable world, together with many other special dialects that might be named. But the specialities of these various idioms were not interchangeable, nor for the most part intelligible outside the world to which they belonged. Nor—and this difference is a very notable one—did slang phrases grow into acceptance with the{51} rapidity or universality which now characterises their advent—a notable difference, because it, of course, arises from the increased rapidity of communication and from the much greater degree in which all classes and all provincial and town populations are mixed together and rubbed against each other. It used to be said, and is still said by some old world folks, that the use of slang is vulgar. And the younger generation, which uses it universally, ridicules much the old fogey narrowness which so considers it. But the truth is, that there was in the older time nothing really vulgar in the use of the slang which then prevailed. Why should not every class and every profession have its own shibboleths and its own phrases? And is there not real vulgarity in the mind which considers a man vulgar for using the language of the class to which he really belongs? But the modern use of slang is truly vulgar for a very different reason. It is vulgar because it arises from one of the most intrinsically vulgar of all the vulgar tendencies of a vulgar mind—imitation. There are slang phrases, which, because they vividly or graphically express a conception, or clothe it with humour, are admirable. But they are admirable only in the mouths of their inventors.

Of course it is an abuse of language to say that the beauty of a pretty girl strikes you with awe. But he who first said of some girl that she was “awfully” pretty, was abundantly justified by the half humorous half serious consideration of all the effects such loveliness may produce. But then, because{52} this was felt to be the case, and the mot was accepted, all the tens of thousands of idiotic cretins who have been rubbed down into exact similarity to each other by excessive locomotion and the “spread” of education—spread indeed after the fashion in which a gold-beater spreads his metal—imitate each other in the senseless use of it. They are just like the man in the Joe Miller story, who, because a laugh followed when a host, whose servant let fall a dish with a boiled tongue in it, said it was only a lapsus linguæ, ordered his own servant to throw down a leg of mutton, and then made the same remark!

There was an old gentleman who had a very tolerable notion of what is vulgar and what is not, and who characterised “imitators” as a “servile herd.” And surely, if, as we are often told, this is a vulgar age, the fact is due to the prevalence of this very tap-root of vulgarity, imitation. Of course I am not speaking of imitation in any of the various cases in which there is an end in view outside the fact of the imitation. The child in order to speak must imitate those whom it hears speaking. If you would make a pudding, you must imitate the cook; if a coat, the tailor. But the imitation which is essentially vulgar, the very tap-root, as I have said, of vulgarity, is imitation for imitation’s sake. And that is why I think modern slang is essentially vulgar. If it is your real opinion—right or wrong matters not—that any slang phrase expresses any idea with peculiar accuracy, vividness, or humour,{53} use it by all means; and he is a narrow blockhead who sees any vulgarity in your doing so. But for heaven’s sake, my dear Dick, don’t use it merely because you heard Bob use it!

Yet there is something pathetically humble too about a man so conscious of his own worthlessness as to be ever anxious to look like somebody else. And surely a man must have a painful consciousness of his inability to utter any word of his own with either wit or wisdom or sense in it, who habitually strives to borrow the wit of the last retailer of the current slang whom he has heard.

In some respects, however, this is, I think, a less vulgar age than that of my youth. Vulgar exclusiveness on grounds essentially illiberal was far more common. It will perhaps seem hardly credible at the present day that middle-class professional society, such as that of barristers, physicians, rectors, and vicars, should sixty years ago have deemed attorneys and general medical practitioners (or apothecaries, as the usual, and somewhat depreciatory term was) inadmissible to social equality. But such was the case. My reminiscences of half a century or more ago seem to indicate also that professional etiquette has been relaxed in various other particulars. I hear of physicians being in partnership with others of the same profession—an arrangement which has a commercial savour in it that would have been thought quite infra dig. in my younger day. I hear also of their accepting, if not perhaps exacting, payments of a smaller amount than the traditional{54} guinea. This was unheard of in the old days. An English physician is a member of the most generously liberal profession that exists or ever existed on earth. And it was an every-day occurrence for a physician to think more of the purse of his patient than of the value of his own services. But he did this either by refusing to accept any fee whatever, or by declining it on the occasion of subsequent visits: never by diminishing the amount of it. In some other cases professional dignity had to be maintained under circumstances that entailed considerable sacrifices on those who were called upon to maintain it. It was not etiquette, for instance, for a barrister going on circuit to travel otherwise than by a private conveyance. He might hire a post chaise, or he might ride his own horse, or even a hired one, but he must not travel by a stage coach, or put up at an hotel. I have heard it said that this rule originated in the notion that a barrister travelling to an assize town by the public coach might fall in with some attorney bound on a similar errand, and might so be led, if not into the sin, at least into temptation to the sin of “huggery.” I dare say many a young barrister of the present day does not know what huggery means or meant!

Among the sights and sounds which were familiar to the eye and ear in the London of my youth, and which are so no longer, may be mentioned the twopenny postman. Not many probably of the rising generation are aware, that in their fathers’ days the London postal service was dual The “twopenny{55} postman,” who delivered letters sent from one part of London to another, was a different person from the “general postman,” who delivered those which came from the country. The latter wore a scarlet, the former a blue livery. And the two administrations were entirely distinct. In those days, when a letter from York to London cost a shilling, or not much less, the weight of a single letter was limited solely by the condition that it must be written on one sheet or piece of paper only. Two pieces of paper, however small, or however light, incurred a double postage. I have sent for a single postage an enormous sheet of double folio outweighing some ten sheets of ordinary post paper. Of course envelopes were unknown. Every sheet had to be folded so that it could be sealed and the address written on the back of it.

Another notable London change which occurs to me 강서오피 is that which has come to the Haymarket. In my day it was really such. The whole right hand side of the street going downwards, from the Piccadilly end to the Opera House, used to be lined with loads of hay. The carts were arranged in close order side by side with their back parts towards the foot pavement, which was crowded by the salesmen and their customers.

I might say a good deal too about the changes in the theatrical London world and habits, but the subject is a large one, and has been abundantly illustrated. It is moreover one which in its details{56} is not of an edifying nature. And it must suffice, therefore, to bear my testimony to the greatness of the purifying change which has been brought about in all the habits of playgoers and playhouses mainly and firstly by the exertions of my mother’s old and valued friend Mr. Macready.{57}

I was, I think, about eight years old when my parents removed from Keppel Street to Harrow-on-the-Hill. My father’s practice, I take it, was becoming less and less satisfactory, and his health equally so. And the move to Harrow was intended as a remedy or palliation for both these evils. My father was a very especially industrious and laborious man. And I have the authority of more than one very competent judge among his professional contemporaries for believing that he was as learned a Chancery lawyer as was to be found among them. How then was his want of success to be accounted for? One of the competent authorities above alluded to accounted for it thus: “Your father,” he said to me many years afterwards, when his troubles and failures had at last ceased to afflict him, “never came into contact with a blockhead without insisting on irrefutably demonstrating to him that he was such. And the blockhead did not like it! He was a disputatious man; and he was almost in variably—at least on a point of law—right. But the world differed from{58} him in the opinion that being so gave him the right of rolling his antagonist in the dust and executing an intellectual dance of triumph on his prostrate form.” He was very fond of whist, and was I believe a good player. But people did not like to play with him. “Many men,” said an old friend once, “will scold their partners occasionally. But Trollope invariably scolds us all round with the utmost impartiality; and that every deal!”

He was, in a word, a highly respected, but not a popular or well-beloved man. Worst of all, alas! he was not popular in his own home. No one of all the family circle was happy in his presence. Assuredly he was as affectionate and anxiously solicitous a father as any children ever had. I never remember his caning, whipping, beating or striking any one of us. But he used during the detested Latin lessons to sit with his arm over the back of the pupil’s chair, so that his hand might be ready to inflict an instantaneous pull of the hair as the pœna (by no means pede claudo) for every blundered concord or false quantity; the result being to the scholar a nervous state of expectancy, not judiciously calculated to increase intellectual receptivity. There was also a strange sort of asceticism about him, which seemed to make enjoyment or any employment of the hours save work, distasteful and offensive to him. Lessons for us boys were never over and done with. It was sufficient for my father to see any one of us “idling,” i.e. not occupied with book work, to set us to work{59} quite irrespectively of the previously assigned task of the day having been accomplished. And this we considered to be unjust and unfair.

I have said that the move to Harrow was in some degree caused by a hope that the change might be beneficial to my father’s health. He had suffered very distressingly for many years from bilious headache, which gradually increased upon him during the whole of his life. I may say parenthetically that from about fifteen to forty I suffered occasionally, about once a fortnight perhaps, from the same malady, though in a much less intense form. But at about forty years old I seemed to have grown out of it, and since that time have never been troubled by it. But in my father’s day the common practice was to treat such complaints with calomel. He was constantly having recourse to that drug. And I believe that it had the effect of shattering his nervous system in a deplorable manner. He became increasingly irritable; never with the effect of causing him to raise a hand against any one of us, but with the effect of making intercourse with him so sure to issue in something unpleasant, that unconsciously we sought to avoid his presence, and to consider as hours of enjoyment only those that could be passed away from it.

My mother’s disposition on the other hand was of the most genial, cheerful, happy, enjoué nature imaginable. All our happiest hours were spent with her; and to any one of us a tête-à-tête with her was preferable to any other disposal of a holiday hour.{60} But even this under all the circumstances did not tend to the general harmony and happiness of the family circle. For of course the facts and the results of them must have been visible to my father; and though wholly inoperative to produce the smallest change in his ways, must, I cannot doubt, have been painful to him. It was all very sad. My father was essentially a good man. But he was, I fear, a very unhappy one.

He was extremely fond of reading aloud to the assembled family in the evening; and there was not one individual of those who heard him who would not have escaped from doing so, at almost any cost. Of course it was our duty to conceal this extreme reluctance to endure what was to him a pleasure—a duty which I much fear was very imperfectly performed. I remember—oh, how well!—the nightly readings during one winter of Sir Charles Grandison, and the loathing disgust for that production which they occasioned.

But I do not think that I and my brothers were bad boys. We were, I take it, always obedient. And one incident remains in my mind from a day now nearly seventy years ago, which seems to prove that the practice of that virtue was habitual to me. An old friend of my mother’s, Mrs. Gibbon, with her daughter Kate, mentioned on a former page as the companion of my lessons in the alphabet, were staying with us at Harrow. Mrs. Gibbon and Kate, and my mother and I were returning from a long country ramble, across some fields in a part of the{61} country my mother was not acquainted with. There was a steep grassy declivity, down which I and the little girl, my contemporary, hand in hand were running headlong in front of our respective parents, when my mother suddenly called out, “Stop, Tom!” I stopped forthwith, and came to heel as obediently as a well-trained pointer. And about five minutes later, my mother and Mrs. Gibbon, following exactly in the line in which we had been running, discovered a long disused but perfectly open and unfenced well!

If I had not obeyed so promptly as I did, I should not now be writing “reminiscences,” and poor “Katy ’Bon,” as I used to call her, would have gone to her rest some ten years earlier than she found it. My mother always said that she could in no wise account for the impulse which prompted her to call to me to stop!

The move to Harrow was as infelicitous a step in the economic point of view as it was inefficacious as a measure of health. My father took a farm, of some three or four hundred acres, to the best of my recollection, from Lord Northwick. It was a wholly disastrous speculation. It certainly was the case that he paid a rent for it far in excess of its fair value; and he always maintained that he had been led to undertake to do so by inaccurate and false representations. I have no knowledge of these representations, but I am absolutely certain that my father was entirely convinced that they were such as he characterised them. But he was educated to be{62} a lawyer, and was a good one. He had never been educated to be a farmer; and was, I take it, despite unwearied activity, and rising up early and late taking rest, a bad one.

To make matters worse moreover he built on that land, of which he 강서오피 held only a long lease, a large and very good house. The position was excellently chosen, the house was well conceived and well built, and the extensive gardens and grounds were well designed and laid out; but the unwisdom of doing all that on land the property of another is but too obvious.

The excuse that my father might have alleged was that he was by no means wholly dependent either on his profession or on his farm, or on the not inconsiderable property which he had inherited from his father or enjoyed in right of his wife. He had an old maternal uncle, Adolphus Meetkerke, who lived on his estate near Royston in Hertfordshire, called Julians. Mr. Meetkerke—the descendant of a Dutchman who had come to this country some time in the eighteenth century as diplomatic representative of his country, and had settled here—lived at Julians with an old childless wife—the daughter, I believe, of a General Chapman—and my father was his declared heir. He had another nephew, Mr. John Young, as flourishing and prosperous an attorney as my father was an unsuccessful and unprosperous barrister. John Young, too, was as worthy and as highly-respected a man as any in the profession. But my father, as settled long years{63} before, was to be the heir; and I was in due time shown to the tenantry as their future landlord, and all that sort of thing. I suppose my grandfather, the Rev. Anthony Trollope, of Cottenham in Hertfordshire, married an elder sister of old Adolphus Meetkerke, while the father of John Young married a younger one. And so, come what might of the Harrow farm and the new house, I was to be the future owner of Julians, and live on my own acres.

Again, Dîs aliter visum!