t was as propaganda that The Warden won its audience, and it was because of these social abuses, it is now amusing to realise, that the whole country of Barsetshire with its cathedral city, its villages, its country houses, its lanes and fields, entered into an immortal existence.
Trollope in fact shows himself in this book as a very uncertain artist. He is still hesitating in the shadows of that dangerous ground beloved of the Victorian minor novelist, the country of caricature, the country of the Lovers and the Levers, the Theodore Hooks, and on occasion of greater men. The thunderings of the "Jupiter", the rather school-boy imitations of Carlyle, the excited personal asides of the author, shock the reader into constant suspicions of the fable and the reality of the actors.
On the other hand, The Warden is essential to every lover of Trollope because it is in these pages that he meets for the first time two of the great figures in English fiction, Mr. Harding and Archdeacon Grantley. Mr. Harding holds the Barchester novels together as does none other of the Trollope characters. He is the only figure who appears in actual person in every one of the six chronicles. When the final page of the Last Chronicle is turned and the reader looks back over that marvellous expanse of country, it is the gentle 'cello-playing, courageous, slightly ironical, tender creation of Mr. Harding that hovers as a kind of symbol of that manifested world, over the scene. . . . We may say, indeed, that his rejection first of Hiram's and then of the glories of the Deanery states the theme for the whole of the Barsetshire symphony. By this list every character in the six books is finally judged. He is Trollope's grandest gentleman. [45-56]
Walpole, Hugh. Anthony Trollope, New York: Macmillan, 1928
Last modified 23 December 2006