Anthony Trollope: Autobiography of Anthony Trollope

CHAPTER IV - IRELAND--MY FIRST TWO NOVELS - 1841-1848 (continued)

From Mr. Colburn I did receive an account, showing that 375 copies of the book had been printed, that 140 had been sold,--to those, I presume, who liked substantial food though it was coarse,--and that he had incurred a loss of 63 19S. 1 1/2d. The truth of the account I never for a moment doubted; nor did I doubt the wisdom of the advice given to me in the following letter, though I never thought of obeying it--

"GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET, November 11, 1848.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I am sorry to say that absence from town and other circumstances have prevented me from earlier inquiring into the results of the sale of The Kellys and the O'Kellys, with which the greatest efforts have been used, but in vain. The sale has been, I regret to say, so small that the loss upon the publication is very considerable; and it appears clear to me that, although in consequence of the great number of novels that are published, the sale of each, with some few exceptions, must be small, yet it is evident that readers do not like novels on Irish subjects as well as on others. Thus, you will perceive, it is impossible for me to give any encouragement to you to proceed in novel-writing.

"As, however, I understand you have nearly finished the novel La Vendee, perhaps you will favour me with a sight of it when convenient.--I remain, etc., etc.,

"H. COLBURN."

This, though not strictly logical, was a rational letter, telling a plain truth plainly. I did not like the assurance that "the greatest efforts had been used," thinking that any efforts which might be made for the popularity of a book ought to have come from the author;--but I took in good part Mr. Colburn's assurance that he could not encourage me in the career I had commenced. I would have bet twenty to one against my own success. But by continuing I could lose only pen and paper; and if the one chance in twenty did turn up in my favour, then how much might I win!

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