Royal Gazette: “New book captures Twain, Trollope’s musings”
A new book by Horst Augustinovic, the world-class Bermuda philatelist, Recollections Of 19th Century Bermuda is a gallery of sketches of the island during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Among the authors excerpted in the volume are Mark Twain (who loved the island) and Anthony Trollope (not so much). The Bermudian newspapper, The Royal Gazette, published an overview of the book, especially the contrasting views of Twain and Trollope:
In marked contrast to the whimsical take on Bermuda presented by Twain, Trollope’s view of the island taken from his 1860 book West Indies of the Spanish Main is critical to a fault. He fulminates and thunders about Bermuda so incessantly, readers can be forgiven if they think they detect the sulphurous whiff of recently discharged lightning rising from the pages.
Hugely popular in his day for his seemingly endless Chronicles of Barsetshire series and other family sage novels, Trollope, nevertheless, continued to work as an inspector for the early British postal service even as his literary star was already in the ascendant. It was in his capacity as a postal employee that he was sent to the West Indies and Bermuda in 1858 to “cleanse the Augean stables of our post office system there”. He seems to have taken his instructions very much to heart and clearly would have liked to have cleansed Bermuda in its entirety.
Writing in the ponderous, overly ornate style that was the literary equivalent of High Victorian Gothic architecture, Trollope excoriated every imaginable facet of life in Bermuda. Despite saying at the outset that “it seems to me there can be no place in the world as to which there can be less said than there is about this Island,” he proceeded to devote more than 20 densely typeset pages of his memoirs to his two-week inspection of Bermuda. Trollope disliked the food and the climate, the insects and the entire administrative structure of the island’s colonial bureaucracy; he complained about the backwardness of local agriculture despite the opportunities afforded farmers, the islands having “many gifts of nature to recommend them.”