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6. CHAPTER VI - "BARCHESTER TOWERS" AND THE "THREE CLERKS" - 1855-1858 (continued)
I apologise for these tales, which are certainly outside my purpose, and will endeavour to tell no more that shall not have a closer relation to my story. I had finished The Three Clerks just before I left England, and when in Florence was cudgelling my brain for a new plot. Being then with my brother, I asked him to sketch me a plot, and he drew out that of my next novel, called Doctor Thorne. I mention this particularly, because it was the only occasion in which I have had recourse to some other source than my own brains for the thread of a story. How far I may unconsciously have adopted incidents from what I have read,--either from history or from works of imagination,--I do not know. It is beyond question that a man employed as I have been must do so. But when doing it I have not been aware that I have done it. I have never taken another man's work, and deliberately framed my work upon it. I am far from censuring this practice in others. Our greatest masters in works of imagination have obtained such aid for themselves. Shakespeare dug out of such quarries whenever he could find them. Ben Jonson, with heavier hand, built up his structures on his studies of the classics, not thinking it beneath him to give, without direct acknowledgment, whole pieces translated both from poets and historians. But in those days no such acknowledgment was usual. Plagiary existed, and was very common, but was not known as a sin. It is different now; and I think that an author, when he uses either the words or the plot of another, should own as much, demanding to be credited with no more of the work than he has himself produced. I may say also that I have never printed as my own a word that has been written by others. [Footnote: I must make one exception to this declaration. The legal opinion as to heirlooms in The Eustace Diamonds was written for me by Charles Merewether, the present Member for Northampton. I am told that it has become the ruling authority on the subject.] It might probably have been better for my readers had I done so, as I am informed that Doctor Thorne, the novel of which I am now speaking, has a larger sale than any other book of mine.
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