Anthony Trollope “The Press”

anthony-trollopeAnthony Trollope (1815–1882) was born in London, England, the son of Thomas Anthony Trollope, a barrister, and Frances Milton Trollope, a writer. In 1841, Trollope took a position as a clerk for the Post Office. Seven years later, he moved to Ireland where he married and began to write, publishing his first novel in 1847. The Warden, published in 1855, was the first of his novels to achieve success. The “Barsetshire” novels and the “Palliser” novels are considered his masterpieces.

The following is an excerpt from The Warden about the popular press.

 

Who has not heard of Mount Olympus–that high abode of all the powers of type, that favored seat of the great goddess Pica, that wondrous habitation of gods and devils, from whence, with ceaseless hum of steam and never-ending flow of Castalian ink, issue forth fifty thousand nightly edicts for the governance of a subject nation?

Velvet and gilding do not make a throne, nor gold and jewels a sceptre. It is a throne because the most exalted one sits there–and a sceptre because the most mighty one wields it. So it is with Mount Olympus. Should a stranger make his way thither at dull noonday, or during the sleepy hours of the silent afternoon, he would find no acknowledged temple of power and beauty, no fitting fane for the great Thunderer, no proud façades and pillared roofs to support the dignity of this greatest of earthly potentates. To the outward and uninitiated eye, Mount Olympus is a somewhat humble spot–undistinguished, unadorned–nay, almost mean. It stands alone, as it were, in a mighty city, close to the densest throng of men, but partaking neither of the noise nor the crowd; a small secluded, dreary spot, tenanted, one would say, by quite unambitious people at the easiest rents.

“Is this Mount Olympus?” asks the unbelieving stranger. “Is it from these small, dark, dingy buildings that those infallible laws proceed which cabinets are called upon to obey; by which bishops are to be guided, lords and commons controlled, judges instructed in law, generals in strategy, admirals in naval tactics, and orange-women in the management of their barrows?”

“Yes, my friend–from these walls. From here issue the only known infallible bulls for the guidance of British souls and bodies. This little court is the Vatican of England. Here reigns a pope, self-nominated, self-consecrated–ay, and much stranger too–self-believing!–a pope whom, if you cannot obey him, I would advise you to disobey as silently as possible; a pope hitherto afraid of no Luther; a pope who manages his own inquisition, who punishes unbelievers as no most skillful inquisitor of Spain ever dreamt of doing; one who can excommunicate thoroughly, fearfully, radically; put you beyond the pale of men’s charity, and turn you into a monster to be pointed at by the finger.”

Oh heavens! And this is Mount Olympus!

~

Writers have the power of the pen on their side. May they wield it wisely and well.

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