[Trollope most often creates his characters with precise, often quite brief sketches that detail their moral and psychological natures. In chapter 20, “Dr. Crofts,” Trollope takes a different tack, comparing the doctor to the three young men we have already encountered. Note how this passage begins with the widow Dale's view of Dr. Crofts and then switches to the narrator's. — George P. Landow]

He had been known to the family of the Dales long previous to his settlement at Guestwick, and had been very intimate with them from that time to the present day. Of all the men, young or old, whom Mrs. Dale counted among her intimate friends, he was the one whom she most trusted and admired. And he was a man to be trusted by those who knew him well. He was not bright and always ready, as was Crosbie, nor had he all the practical worldly good sense of Bernard Dale. In mental power I doubt whether he was superior to John Eames;—to John Eames, such as he might become when the period of his hobbledehoyhood should have altogether passed away. But Crofts, compared with the other three, as they all were at present, was a man more to be trusted than any of them. And there was, moreover, about him an occasional dash of humour, without which Mrs. Dale would hardly have regarded him with that thorough liking which she had for him. But it was a quiet humour, apt to show itself when he had but one friend with him, rather than in general society. Crosbie, on the other hand, would be much more bright among a dozen, than he could with a single companion. Bernard Dale was never bright; and as for Johnny Eames—; but in this matter of brightness, Johnny Eames had not yet shown to the world what his character might be.

[Later in the book we encounter him at a party at the small house, and once again Trollope's narrator compares him to Crosbie.]

Dr. Crofts got off towards the door, and stood there by himself, leaning against the wall, with the thumbs of both his hands stuck into the armholes of his waistcoat. People said that he was a shy man. I suppose he was shy, and yet he was a man that was by no means afraid of doing anything that he had to do. He could speak before a multitude without being abashed, whether it was a multitude of men or of women. He could be very fixed too in his own opinion, and eager, if not violent, in the prosecution of his purpose. But he could not stand and say little words, when he had in truth nothing to say. He could not keep his ground when he felt that he was not using the ground upon which he stood. He had not learned the art of assuming himself to be of importance in whatever place he might find himself. It was this art which Crosbie had learned, and by this art that he had flourished. So Crofts retired and leaned against the wall near the door; and Crosbie came forward and shone like an Apollo among all the guests. "How is it that he does it?" said John Eames to himself, envying the perfect happiness of the London man of fashion.

Related Material


Trollope, Anthony. The Small House at Allington. Project Gutenberg E-text prepared by Andrew Turek and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D., and an anonymous Project Gutenberg volunteer.

Victorian Web Overview Authors Anthony Trollope

Last modified 23 September 2013