Part 4 out of 11
in his own diocese, let alone his own house, he should begin at once.
It would have been easier to have done so from the day of his
consecration than now, but easier now than when Mrs. Proudie should
have succeeded in thoroughly mastering the diocesan details. Then
the proffered assistance of Mr. Slope was a great thing for him, a
most unexpected and invaluable aid. Hitherto he had looked on the
two as allied forces and had considered that, as allies, they were
impregnable. He had begun to believe that his only chance of escape
would be by the advancement of Mr. Slope to some distant and rich
preferment. But now it seemed that one of his enemies, certainly the
least potent of them, but nevertheless one very important, was
willing to desert his own camp. Assisted by Mr. Slope what might he
not do? He walked up and down his little study, almost thinking that
the time might come when he would be able to appropriate to his own
use the big room upstairs in which his predecessor had always sat.
As he revolved these things in his mind a note was brought to him
from Archdeacon Grantly in which that divine begged his lordship to
do him the honour of seeing him on the morrow--would his lordship
have the kindness to name an hour? Dr. Grantly's proposed visit
would have reference to the reappointment of Mr. Harding to the
wardenship of Barchester Hospital. The bishop having read his note
was informed that the archdeacon's servant was waiting for an answer.
Here at once a great opportunity offered itself to the bishop of
acting on his own responsibility. He bethought himself however of
his new ally and rang the bell for Mr. Slope. It turned out that Mr.
Slope was not in the house, and then, greatly daring, the bishop with
his own unassisted spirit wrote a note to the archdeacon saving that
he would see him and naming an hour for doing so. Having watched
from his study-window that the messenger got safely off from the
premises with this dispatch, he began to turn over in his mind what
step he should next take.
Tomorrow he would have to declare to the archdeacon either that Mr.
Harding should have the appointment, or that he should not have it.
The bishop felt that he could not honestly throw over the Quiverfuls
without informing Mrs. Proudie, and he resolved at last to brave the
lioness in her den and tell her that circumstances were such that it
behoved him to reappoint Mr. Harding. He did not feel that he should
at all derogate from his new courage by promising Mrs. Proudie that
the very first piece of available preferment at his disposal should
be given to Quiverful to atone for the injury done to him. If he
could mollify the lioness with such a sop, how happy would he think
his first efforts to have been!
Not without many misgivings did he find himself in Mrs. Proudie's
boudoir. He had at first thought of sending for her. But it was not
at all impossible that she might choose to take such a message amiss,
and then also it might be some protection to him to have his
daughters present at the interview. He found her sitting with her
account-books before her nibbling the end of her pencil, evidently
immersed in pecuniary difficulties, and harassed in mind by the
multiplicity of palatial expenses and the heavy cost of episcopal
grandeur. Her daughters were around her. Olivia was reading a
novel, Augusta was crossing a note to her bosom friend in Baker
Street, and Netta was working diminutive coach wheels for the bottom
of a petticoat. If the bishop could get the better of his wife in
her present mood, he would be a man indeed. He might then consider
the victory his own forever. After all, in such cases the matter
between husband and wife stands much the same as it does between two
boys at the same school, two cocks in the same yard, or two armies on
the same continent. The conqueror once is generally the conqueror
forever after. The prestige of victory is everything.
"Ahem--my dear," began the bishop, "if you are disengaged, I wished
to speak to you." Mrs. Proudie put her pencil down carefully at the
point to which she had totted her figures, marked down in her memory
the sum she had arrived at, and then looked up, sourly enough, into
her helpmate's face. "If you are busy, another time will do as
well," continued the bishop, whose courage, like Bob Acres', had
oozed out now that he found himself on the ground of battle.
"What is it about, Bishop?" asked the lady.
"Well--it was about those Quiverfuls--but I see you are engaged.
Another time will do just as well for me."
"What about the Quiverfuls? It is quite understood, I believe, that
they are to come to the hospital. There is to be no doubt about
that, is there?" and as she spoke she kept her pencil sternly and
vigorously fixed on the column of figures before her.
"Why, my dear, there is a difficulty," said the bishop.
"A difficulty!" said Mrs. Proudie, "what difficulty? The place has
been promised to Mr. Quiverful, and of course he must have it. He
has made all his arrangements. He has written for a curate for
Puddingdale, he has spoken to the auctioneer about selling his farm,
horses, and cows, and in all respects considers the place as his own.
Of course he must have it."
Now, Bishop, look well to thyself and call up all the manhood that is
in thee. Think how much is at stake. If now thou art not true to
thy guns, no Slope can hereafter aid thee. How can he who deserts
his own colours at the first smell of gunpowder expect faith in any
ally? Thou thyself hast sought the battle-field: fight out the
battle manfully now thou art there. Courage, Bishop, courage!
Frowns cannot kill, nor can sharp words break any bones. After all,
the apron is thine own. She can appoint no wardens, give away no
benefices, nominate no chaplains, an' thou art but true to thyself.
Up, man, and at her with a constant heart.
Some little monitor within the bishop's breast so addressed him. But
then there was another monitor there which advised him differently,
and as follows. Remember, Bishop, she is a woman, and such a woman
too as thou well knowest: a battle of words with such a woman is the
very mischief. Were it not better for thee to carry on this war, if
it must be waged, from behind thine own table in thine own study?
Does not every cock fight best on his own dunghill? Thy daughters
also are here, the pledges of thy love, the fruits of thy loins: is
it well that they should see thee in the hour of thy victory over
their mother? Nay, is it well that they should see thee in the
possible hour of thy defeat? Besides, hast thou not chosen thy
opportunity with wonderful little skill, indeed with no touch of that
sagacity for which thou art famous? Will it not turn out that thou
art wrong in this matter and thine enemy right; that thou hast
actually pledged thyself in this matter of the hospital and that now
thou wouldest turn upon thy wife because she requires from thee but
the fulfilment of thy promise? Art thou not a Christian bishop, and
is not thy word to be held sacred whatever be the result? Return,
Bishop, to thy sanctum on the lower floor and postpone thy combative
propensities for some occasion in which at least thou mayest fight
the battle against odds less tremendously against thee.
All this passed within the bishop's bosom while Mrs. Proudie still
sat with her fixed pencil, and the figures of her sum still enduring
on the tablets of her memory. "£4 17s. 7d." she said to herself.
"Of course Mr. Quiverful must have the hospital," she said out loud
to her lord.
"Well, my dear, I merely wanted to suggest to you that Mr. Slope
seems to think that if Mr. Harding be not appointed, public feeling
in the matter would be against us, and that the press might perhaps
take it up."
"Mr. Slope seems to think!" said Mrs. Proudie in a tone of voice
which plainly showed the bishop that he was right in looking for a
breach in that quarter. "And what has Mr. Slope to do with it? I
hope, my lord, you are not going to allow yourself to be governed by
a chaplain." And now in her eagerness the lady lost her place in her
"Certainly not, my dear. Nothing I can assure you is less probable.
But still, Mr. Slope may be useful in finding how the wind blows, and
I really thought that if we could give something else as good to the
"Nonsense," said Mrs. Proudie; "it would be years before you could
give them anything else that could suit them half as well, and as for
the press and the public and all that, remember there are two ways of
telling a story. If Mr. Harding is fool enough to tell his tale, we
can also tell ours. The place was offered to him, and he refused it.
It has now been given to someone else, and there's an end of it. At
least I should think so."
"Well, my dear, I rather believe you are right," said the bishop, and
sneaking out of the room, he went downstairs, troubled in his mind as
to how he should receive the archdeacon on the morrow. He felt
himself not very well just at present and began to consider that he
might, not improbably, be detained in his room the next morning by an
attack of bile. He was, unfortunately, very subject to bilious
"Mr. Slope, indeed! I'll Slope him," said the indignant matron to
her listening progeny. "I don't know what has come to Mr. Slope.
I believe he thinks he is to be Bishop of Barchester himself, because
I've taken him by the hand and got your father to make him his
"He was always full of impudence," said Olivia; "I told you so once
before, Mamma." Olivia, however, had not thought him too impudent
when once before he had proposed to make her Mrs. Slope.
"Well, Olivia, I always thought you liked him," said Augusta, who at
that moment had some grudge against her sister. "I always disliked
the man, because I think him thoroughly vulgar."
"There you're wrong," said Mrs. Proudie; "he's not vulgar at all; and
what is more, he is a soul-stirring, eloquent preacher; but he must
be taught to know his place if he is to remain in this house."
"He has the horridest eyes I ever saw in a man's head," said Netta;
"and I tell you what, he's terribly greedy; did you see all the
currant pie he ate yesterday?"
When Mr. Slope got home he soon learnt from the bishop, as much from
his manner as his words, that Mrs. Proudie's behests in the matter of
the hospital were to be obeyed. Dr. Proudie let fall something as to
"this occasion only" and "keeping all affairs about patronage
exclusively in his own hands." But he was quite decided about Mr.
Harding; and as Mr. Slope did not wish to have both the prelate and
the prelatess against him, he did not at present see that he could do
anything but yield.
He merely remarked that he would of course carry out the bishop's
views and that he was quite sure that if the bishop trusted to his
own judgement things in the diocese would certainly be well ordered.
Mr. Slope knew that if you hit a nail on the head often enough, it
will penetrate at last.
He was sitting alone in his room on the same evening when a light
knock was made on his door, and before he could answer it the door
was opened, and his patroness appeared. He was all smiles in a
moment, but so was not she also. She took, however, the chair that
was offered to her and thus began her expostulation:
"Mr. Slope, I did not at all approve your conduct the other night
with that Italian woman. Anyone would have thought that you were her
"Good gracious, my dear madam," said Mr. Slope with a look of horror.
"Why, she is a married woman."
"That's more than I know," said Mrs. Proudie; "however she chooses to
pass for such. But married or not married, such attention as you
paid to her was improper. I cannot believe that you would wish to
give offence in my drawing-room, Mr. Slope, but I owe it to myself
and my daughters to tell you that I disapprove of your conduct."
Mr. Slope opened wide his huge protruding eyes and stared out of them
with a look of well-feigned surprise. "Why, Mrs. Proudie," said he,
"I did but fetch her something to eat when she said she was hungry."
"And you have called on her since, continued she, looking at the
culprit with the stern look of a detective policeman in the act of
Mr. Slope turned over in his mind whether it would be well for him to
tell this termagant at once that he should call on whom he liked and
do what he liked, but he remembered that his footing in Barchester
was not yet sufficiently firm and that it would be better for him to
"I certainly called since at Dr. Stanhope's house and certainly saw
"Yes, and you saw her alone," said the episcopal Argus.
"Undoubtedly, I did," said Mr. Slope, "but that was because nobody
else happened to be in the room. Surely it was no fault of mine if
the rest of the family were out."
"Perhaps not, but I assure you, Mr. Slope, you will fall greatly in
nay estimation if I find that you allow yourself to be caught by the
lures of that woman. I know women better than you do, Mr. Slope, and
you may believe me that that signora, as she calls herself, is not a
fitting companion for a strict evangelical unmarried young
How Mr. Slope would have liked to laugh at her, had he dared! But he
did not dare. So he merely said, "I can assure you, Mrs. Proudie,
the lady in question is nothing to me."
"Well, I hope not, Mr. Slope. But I have considered it my duty to
give you this caution. And now there is another thing I feel myself
called on to speak about: it is your conduct to the bishop, Mr.
"My conduct to the bishop," said he, now truly surprised and ignorant
what the lady alluded to.
"Yes, Mr. Slope, your conduct to the bishop. It is by no means what
I would wish to see it."
"Has the bishop said anything, Mrs. Proudie?"
"No, the bishop has said nothing. He probably thinks that any
remarks on the matter will come better from me, who first introduced
you to his lordship's notice. The fact is, Mr. Slope, you are a
little inclined to take too much upon yourself."
An angry spot showed itself on Mr. Slope's cheeks, and it was with
difficulty that he controlled himself. But he did do so and sat
quite silent while the lady went on.
"It is the fault of many young men in your position, and therefore
the bishop is not inclined at present to resent it. You will, no
doubt, soon learn what is required from you and what is not. If you
will take my advice, however, you will be careful not to obtrude
advice upon the bishop in any matter touching patronage. If his
lordship wants advice, he knows where to look for it." And then
having added to her counsel a string of platitudes as to what was
desirable and what not desirable in the conduct of a strictly
evangelical unmarried young clergyman, Mrs. Proudie retreated,
leaving the chaplain to his thoughts.
The upshot of his thoughts was this, that there certainly was not
room in the diocese for the energies of both himself and Mrs.
Proudie, and that it behoved him quickly to ascertain whether his
energies or hers were to prevail.
The Widow's Persecution
Early on the following morning Mr. Slope was summoned to the bishop's
dressing-room, and went there fully expecting that he should find his
lordship very indignant and spirited up by his wife to repeat the
rebuke which she had administered on the previous day. Mr. Slope had
resolved that at any rate from him he would not stand it and entered
the dressing-room in rather a combative disposition, but he found the
bishop in the most placid and gentlest of humours. His lordship
complained of' being rather unwell, had a slight headache, and was
not quite the thing in his stomach; but there was nothing the matter
with his temper.
"Oh, Slope," said he, taking the chaplain's proffered hand,
"Archdeacon Grantly is to call on me this morning, and I really am
not fit to see him. I fear I must trouble you to see him for me;"
and then Dr. Proudie proceeded to explain what it was that must be
said to Dr. Grantly. He was to be told in fact in the civilest words
in which the tidings could be conveyed that Mr. Harding having
refused the wardenship, the appointment had been offered to Mr.
Quiverful and accepted by him.
Mr. Slope again pointed out to his patron that he thought he was
perhaps not quite wise in his decision, and this he did sotto voce.
But even with this precaution it was not safe to say much, and during
the little that he did say, the bishop made a very slight, but still
a very ominous gesture with his thumb towards the door which opened
from his dressing-room to some inner sanctuary. Mr. Slope at once
took the hint and said no more, but he perceived that there was to be
confidence between him and his patron, that the league desired by him
was to be made, and that this appointment of Mr. Quiverful was to be
the last sacrifice offered on the altar of conjugal obedience. All
this Mr. Slope read in the slight motion of the bishop's thumb, and
he read it correctly. There was no need of parchments and seals, of
attestations, explanations, and professions. The bargain was
understood between them, and Mr. Slope gave the bishop his hand upon
it The bishop understood the little extra squeeze, and an
intelligible gleam of assent twinkled in his eye.
"Pray be civil to the archdeacon, Mr. Slope," said he out loud, 'but
make him quite understand that in this matter Mr. Harding has put it
out of my power to oblige him."
It would be a calumny on Mrs. Proudie to suggest that she was sitting
in her bedroom with her ear at the keyhole during this interview.
She had within her a spirit of decorum which prevented her from
descending to such baseness. To put her ear to a keyhole, or to
listen at a chink, was a trick for a housemaid. Mrs. Proudie knew
this and therefore did not do it, but she stationed herself as near
to the door as she well could, that she might if possible, get the
advantage which the housemaid would have had without descending to
the housemaid's artifice.
It was little, however, that she heard, and that little was only
sufficient to deceive her. She saw nothing of that friendly
pressure, perceived nothing of that concluded bargain; she did not
even dream of the treacherous resolves which those two false men had
made together to upset her in the pride of her station, to dash the
cup from her lip before she had drunk of it, to sweep away all her
power before she had tasted its sweets! Traitors that they were, the
husband of her bosom and the outcast whom she had fostered and
brought to the warmth of the world's brightest fireside! But neither
of them had the magnanimity of this woman. Though two men have thus
leagued themselves together against her, even yet the battle is not
Mr. Slope felt pretty sure that Dr. Grantly would decline the honour
of seeing him, and such turned out to be the case. The archdeacon,
when the palace door was opened to him, was greeted by a note.
Mr. Slope presented his compliments, &c. &c. The bishop was ill in
his room and very greatly regretted, &c. &c. Mr. Slope had been
charged with the bishop's views, and if agreeable to the archdeacon,
would do himself the honour, &c. &c. The archdeacon, however, was
not agreeable, and having read his note in the hall, crumpled it up
in his hand, and muttering something about sorrow for his lordship's
illness took his leave, without sending as much as a verbal message
in answer to Mr. Slope's note.
"Ill!" said the archdeacon to himself as he flung himself into his
brougham. "The man is absolutely a coward. He is afraid to see me.
Ill, indeed!" The archdeacon was never ill himself and did not
therefore understand that anyone else could in truth be prevented by
illness from keeping an appointment. He regarded all such excuses as
subterfuges, and in the present instance be was not far wrong.
Dr. Grantly desired to be driven to his father-in-law's lodgings in
the High Street, and hearing from the servant that Mr. Harding was at
his daughter's, followed him to Mrs. Bold's house, and there found
him. The archdeacon was fuming with rage when he got into the
drawing-room, and had by this time nearly forgotten the pusillanimity
of the bishop in the villainy of the chaplain.
"Look at that," said he, throwing Mr. Slope's crumpled note to Mr.
Harding. "I am to be told that if I choose I may have the honour of
seeing Mr. Slope, and that too after a positive engagement with the
"But he says the bishop is ill," said Mr. Harding.
"Pshaw! You don't mean to say that you are deceived by such an
excuse as that. He was well enough yesterday. Now I tell you what,
I will see the bishop, and I will tell him also very plainly what I
think of his conduct. I will see him, or else Barchester will soon
be too hot to hold him."
Eleanor was sitting in the room, but Dr. Grantly had hardly noticed
her in his anger. Eleanor now said to him with the greatest
innocence, "I wish you had seen Mr. Slope, Dr. Grantly, because I
think perhaps it might have done good."
The archdeacon turned on her with almost brutal wrath. Had she at
once owned that she had accepted Mr. Slope for her second husband he
could hardly have felt more convinced of her belonging body and soul
to the Slope and Proudie party than he now did on hearing her express
such a wish as this. Poor Eleanor!
"See him!" said the archdeacon glaring at her. "And why am I to be
called on to lower myself in the world's esteem and my own by coming
in contact with such a man as that? I have hitherto lived among
gentlemen, and do not mean to be dragged into other company by
Poor Mr. Harding well knew what the archdeacon meant, but Eleanor was
as innocent as her own baby. She could not understand how the
archdeacon could consider himself to be dragged into bad company by
condescending to speak to Mr. Slope for a few minutes when the
interests of her father might be served by his doing so.
"I was talking for a full hour yesterday to Mr. Slope," said she with
some little assumption of dignity, "and I did not find myself lowered
"Perhaps not," said he. "But if you'll be good enough to allow me, I
shall judge for myself in such matters. And I tell you what,
Eleanor; it will be much better for you if you will allow yourself to
be guided also by the advice of those who are your friends. If you
do not, you will be apt to find that you have no friends left who can
Eleanor blushed up to the roots of her hair. But even now she had
not the slightest idea of what was passing in the archdeacon's mind.
No thought of love-making or love-receiving had yet found its way to
her heart since the death of poor John Bold, and if it were possible
that such a thought should spring there, the man must be far
different from Mr. Slope that could give it birth.
Nevertheless Eleanor blushed deeply, for she felt she was charged
with improper conduct, and she did so with the more inward pain
because her father did not instantly rally to her side--that father
for whose sake and love she had submitted to be the receptacle of Mr.
Slope's confidence. She had given a detailed account of all that had
passed to her father, and though he had not absolutely agreed with
her about Mr. Slope's views touching the hospital, yet he had said
nothing to make her think that she had been wrong in talking to him.
She was far too angry to humble herself before her brother-in-law.
Indeed, she had never accustomed herself to be very abject before
him, and they had never been confidential allies. "I do not the
least understand what you mean, Dr. Grantly," said she. "I do not
know that I can accuse myself of doing anything that my friends
should disapprove. Mr. Slope called here expressly to ask what
Papa's wishes were about the hospital, and as, I believe he called
with friendly intentions, I told him"'
"Friendly intentions!" sneered the archdeacon.
"I believe you greatly wrong Mr. Slope," continued Eleanor, "but I
have explained this to Papa already; and as you do not seem to
approve of what I say, Dr. Grantly, I will with your permission leave
you and Papa together;" so saying, she walked slowly out of the room.
All this made Mr. Harding very unhappy. It was quite clear that the
archdeacon and his wife had made up their minds that Eleanor was
going to marry Mr. Slope. Mr. Harding could not really bring himself
to think that she would do so, but yet he could not deny that
circumstances made it appear that the man's company was not
disagreeable to her. She was now constantly seeing him, and yet she
received visits from no other unmarried gentleman. She always took
his part when his conduct was canvassed, although she was aware how
personally objectionable he was to her friends. Then, again, Mr.
Harding felt that if she should choose to become Mrs. Slope, he had
nothing that he could justly urge against her doing so. She had full
right to please herself, and he, as a father, could not say that she
would disgrace herself by marrying a clergyman who stood so well
before the world as Mr. Slope did. As for quarrelling with his
daughter on account of such a marriage, and separating himself from
her as the archdeacon had threatened to do, that, with Mr. Harding,
would be out of the question. If she should determine to marry this
man, he must get over his aversion as best he could. His Eleanor,
his own old companion in their old happy home, must still be the
friend of his bosom, the child of his heart. Let who would cast her
off, he would not. If it were fated that he should have to sit in
his old age at the same table with that man whom of all men he
disliked the most, he would meet his fate as best he might. Anything
to him would be preferable to the loss of his daughter.
Such being his feelings, he hardly knew how to take part with Eleanor
against the archdeacon, or with the archdeacon against Eleanor. It
will be said that he should never have suspected her.--Alas! he never
should have done so. But Mr. Harding was by no means a perfect
character. In his indecision, his weakness, his proneness to be led
by others, his want of self-confidence, he was very far from being
perfect. And then it must be remembered that such a marriage as that
which the archdeacon contemplated with disgust, which we who know Mr.
Slope so well would regard with equal disgust, did not appear so
monstrous to Mr. Harding because in his charity he did not hate the
chaplain as the archdeacon did, and as we do.
He was, however, very unhappy when his daughter left the room, and he
had recourse to an old trick of his that was customary to him in his
times of sadness. He began playing some slow tune upon an imaginary
violoncello, drawing one hand slowly backwards and forwards as though
he held a bow in it and modulating the unreal chords with the other.
"She'll marry that man as sure as two and two make four," said the
"I hope not, I hope not," said the father. "But if she does, what
can I say to her? I have no right to object to him."
"No right!" exclaimed Dr. Grantly.
"No right as her father. He is in my own profession and, for aught
we know, a good man."
To this the archdeacon would by no means assent It was not well,
however, to argue the case against Eleanor in her own drawing-room,
and so they both walked forth and discussed the matter in all its
bearings under the elm-trees of the close. Mr. Harding also
explained to his son-in-law what had been the purport, at any rate
the alleged purport, of Mr. Slope's last visit to the widow. He,
however, stated that he could not bring himself to believe that Mr.
Slope had any real anxiety such as that he had pretended. "I cannot
forget his demeanour to myself," said Mr. Harding, "and it is not
possible that his ideas should have changed so soon."
"I see it all," said the archdeacon. "The sly tartuffe! He thinks
to buy the daughter by providing for the father. He means to show
how powerful he is, how good he is, and how much he is willing to do
for her beaux yeux; yes, I see it all now. But we'll be too many for
him yet, Mr. Harding;" he said, turning to his companion with some
gravity and pressing his hand upon the other's arm. "It would,
perhaps, be better for you to lose the hospital than get it on such
"Lose it!" said Mr. Harding; "why I've lost it already. I don't want
it. I've made up my mind to do without it. I'll withdraw
altogether. I'll just go and write a line to the bishop and tell him
that I withdraw my claim altogether."
Nothing would have pleased him better than to be allowed to escape
from the trouble and difficulty in such a manner. But he was now
going too fast for the archdeacon.
"No--no--no! We'll do no such thing," said Dr. Grantly. "We'll
still have the hospital. I hardly doubt but that we'll have it. But
not by Mr. Slope's assistance. If that be necessary, we'll lose it;
but we'll have it, spite of his teeth, if we can. Arabin will be at
Plumstead tomorrow; you must come over and talk to him."
The two now turned into the cathedral library, which was used by the
clergymen of the close as a sort of ecclesiastical club-room, for
writing sermons and sometimes letters; also for reading theological
works and sometimes magazines and newspapers. The theological works
were not disturbed, perhaps, quite as often as from the appearance of
the building the outside public might have been led to expect. Here
the two allies settled on their course of action. The archdeacon
wrote a letter to the bishop, strongly worded, but still respectful,
in which he put forward his father-in-law's claim to the appointment
and expressed his own regret that he had not been able to see his
lordship when he called. Of Mr. Slope he made no mention whatsoever.
It was then settled that Mr. Harding should go out to Plumstead on
the following day, and after considerable discussion on the matter
the archdeacon proposed to ask Eleanor there also, so as to withdraw
her, if possible, from Mr. Slope's attentions. "A week or two," said
he, "may teach her what he is, and while she is there she will be out
of harm's way. Mr. Slope won't come there after her."
Eleanor was not a little surprised when her brother-in-law came back
and very civilly pressed her to go out to Plumstead with her father.
She instantly perceived that her father had been fighting her battles
for her behind her back. She felt thankful to him, and for his sake
she would not show her resentment to the archdeacon by refusing his
invitation. But she could not, she said, go on the morrow; she had
an invitation to drink tea at the Stanhopes, which she had promised
to accept. She would, she added, go with her father on the next day,
if he would wait; or she would follow him.
"The Stanhopes!" said Dr. Grantly. "I did not know you were so
intimate with them."
"I did not know it myself," said she, "till Miss Stanhope called
yesterday. However, I like her very much, and I have promised to go
and play chess with some of them."
"Have they a party there?' said the archdeacon, still fearful of Mr.
"Oh, no," said Eleanor; "Miss Stanhope said there was to be nobody at
all. But she had heard that Mary had left me for a few weeks, and
she had learnt from someone that I play chess, and so she came over
on purpose to ask me to go in."
"Well, that's very friendly," said the ex-warden. "They certainly do
look more like foreigners than English people, but I dare say they
are none the worse for that"
The archdeacon was inclined to look upon the Stanhopes with
favourable eyes, and had nothing to object on the matter. It was
therefore arranged that Mr. Harding should postpone his visit to
Plumstead for one day and then take with him Eleanor, the baby, and
Mr. Slope is certainly becoming of some importance in Barchester.
Barchester by Moonlight
There was much cause for grief and occasional perturbation of spirits
in the Stanhope family, but yet they rarely seemed to he grieved or
to he disturbed. It was the peculiar gift of each of them that each
was able to bear his or her own burden without complaint and perhaps
without sympathy. They habitually looked on the sunny side of the
wall, if there was a gleam on either side for them to look at; if
there was none, they endured the shade with an indifference which, if
not stoical, answered the end at which the Stoics aimed. Old
Stanhope could not but feel that he had ill-performed his duties as a
father and a clergyman and could hardly look forward to his own death
without grief at the position in which he would leave his family.
His income for many years had been as high as £3,000 a year, and yet
they had among them no other provision than their mother's fortune of
£10,000. He had not only spent his income, but was in debt. Yet
with all this he seldom showed much outward sign of trouble.
It was the same with the mother. If she added little to the
pleasures of her children, she detracted still less: she neither
grumbled at her lot, nor spoke much of her past or future sufferings;
as long as she had a maid to adjust her dress, and had those dresses
well made, nature with her was satisfied. It was the same with the
children. Charlotte never rebuked her father with the prospect of
their future poverty, nor did it seem to grieve her that she was
becoming an old maid so quickly; her temper was rarely ruffled, and,
if we might judge by her appearance, she was always happy. The
signora was not so sweet-tempered, but she possessed much enduring
courage; she seldom complained--never, indeed, to her family. Though
she had a cause for affliction which would have utterly broken down
the heart of most women as beautiful as she and as devoid of all
religious support, yet she bore her suffering in silence, or alluded
to it only to elicit the sympathy and stimulate the admiration of the
men with whom she flirted. As to Bertie, one would have imagined
from the sound of his voice and the gleam of his eye that he had not
a sorrow nor a care in the world. Nor had he. He was incapable of
anticipating tomorrow's griefs. The prospect of future want no more
disturbed his appetite than does that of the butcher's knife disturb
the appetite of the sheep.
Such was the usual tenor of their way, but there were rare
exceptions. Occasionally the father would allow an angry glance to
fall from his eye, and the lion would send forth a low dangerous roar
as though he meditated some deed of blood. Occasionally also Madame
Neroni would become bitter against mankind, more than usually
antagonistic to the world's decencies, and would seem as though she
was about to break from her moorings and allow herself to be carried
forth by the tide of her feelings to utter ruin and shipwreck. She,
however, like the rest of them, had no real feelings, could feel no
true passion. In that was her security. Before she resolved on any
contemplated escapade she would make a small calculation, and
generally summed up that the Stanhope villa or even Barchester close
was better than the world at large.
They were most irregular in their hours. The father was generally
the earliest in the breakfast-parlour, and Charlotte would soon
follow and give him his coffee, but the others breakfasted anywhere,
anyhow, and at any time. On the morning after the archdeacon's
futile visit to the palace, Dr. Stanhope came downstairs with an
ominously dark look about his eyebrows; his white locks were rougher
than usual, and he breathed thickly and loudly as he took his seat in
his armchair. He had open letters in his hand, and when Charlotte
came into the room, he was still reading them. She went up and
kissed him as was her wont, but he hardly noticed her as she did so,
and she knew at once that something was the matter.
"What's the meaning of that?" said he, throwing over the table a
letter with a Milan postmark. Charlotte was a little frightened as
she took it up, but her mind was relieved when she saw that it was
merely the bill of their Italian milliner. The sum total was
certainly large, but not so large as to create an important row.
"It's for our clothes, Papa, for six months before we came here. The
three of us can't dress for nothing, you know."
"Nothing, indeed!" said he, looking at the figures which, in Milanese
denominations, were certainly monstrous.
"The man should have sent it to me," said Charlotte.
"I wish he had with all my heart--if you would have paid it. I see
enough in it to know that three quarters of it are for Madeline."
"She has little else to amuse her, sir," said Charlotte with true
"And I suppose he has nothing else to amuse him," said the doctor,
throwing over another letter to his daughter. It was from some
member of the family of Sidonia, and politely requested the father to
pay a small trifle of £700, being the amount of a bill discounted in
favour of Mr. Ethelbert Stanhope and now overdue for a period of nine
Charlotte read the letter, slowly folded it up, and put it under the
edge of the tea-tray.
"I suppose he has nothing to amuse him but discounting bills with
Jews. Does he think I'll pay that?"
"I am sure he thinks no such thing," said she.
"And who does he think will pay it?"
"As far as honesty goes I suppose it won't much matter if it is never
paid," said she. "I dare say he got very little of it."
"I suppose it won't much matter either," said the father, "if he goes
to prison and rots there. It seems to me that that's the other
Dr. Stanhope spoke of the custom of his youth. But his daughter,
though she had lived so long abroad, was much more completely versed
in the ways of the English world. "If the man arrests him," said
she, "he must go through the court."
It is thus, thou great family of Sidonia--it is thus that we Gentiles
treat thee, when, in our extremest need, thou and thine have aided us
with mountains of gold as big as lions--and occasionally with wine-
warrants and orders for dozens of dressing-cases.
"What, and become an insolvent?" said the doctor.
"He's that already," said Charlotte, wishing always to get over a
"What a condition," said the doctor, "for the son of a clergyman of
the Church of England."
"I don't see why clergymen's sons should pay their debts more than
other young men," said Charlotte.
"He's had as much from me since he left school as is held sufficient
for the eldest son of many a nobleman," said the angry father.
"Well, sir," said Charlotte, "give him another chance."
"What!" said the doctor, "do you mean that I am to pay that Jew?"
"Oh, no! I wouldn't pay him, he must take his chance; and if the
worst comes to the worst, Bertie must go abroad. But I want you to
be civil to Bertie and let him remain here as long as we stop.
He has a plan in his head that may put him on his feet after all."
"Has he any plan for following up his profession?"
"Oh, he'll do that too, but that must follow. He's thinking of
Just at that moment the door opened, and Bertie came in whistling.
The doctor immediately devoted himself to his egg and allowed Bertie
to whistle himself round to his sister's side without noticing him.
Charlotte gave a sign to him with her eye, first glancing at her
father, and then at the letter, the corner of which peeped out from
under the tea-tray. Bertie saw and understood, and with the quiet
motion of a cat he abstracted the letter and made himself acquainted
with its contents. The doctor, however, had seen him, deep as he
appeared to be mersed in his egg-shell, and said in his harshest
voice, "Well, sir, do you know that gentleman?"
"Yes, sir," said Bertie. "I have a sort of acquaintance with him,
but none that can justify him in troubling you. If you will allow
me, sir, I will answer this."
"At any rate I shan't," said the father, and then he added, after a
pause, "Is it true, sir, that you owe the man £700?"
"Well," said Bertie, "I think I should be inclined to dispute the
amount, if I were in a condition to pay him such of it as I really do
"Has he your bill for £700?" said the father, speaking very loudly
and very angrily.
"Well, I believe he has," said Bertie, "but all the money I ever got
from him was £150."
"And what became of the £550?"
"Why, sir, the commission was £100 or so, and I took the remainder in
paving-stones and rocking-horses."
"Paving-stones and rocking-horses!" said the doctor. "Where are
"Oh, sir, I suppose they are in London somewhere--but I'll inquire if
you wish for them."
"He's an idiot," said the doctor, "and it's sheer folly to waste more
money on him. Nothing can save him from ruin," and so saying, the
unhappy father walked out of the room.
"Would the governor like to have the paving-stones?" said Bertie to
"I'll tell you what," said she. "If you don't take care, you will
find yourself loose upon the world without even a house over your
head; you don't know him as well as I do. He's very angry."
Bertie stroked his big beard, sipped his tea, chatted over his
misfortunes in a half-comic, half-serious tone, and ended by
promising his sister that he would do his very best to make himself
agreeable to the Widow Bold. Then Charlotte followed her father to
his own room, softened down his wrath, and persuaded him to say
nothing more about the Jew bill discounter, at any rate for a few
weeks. He even went so far as to say he would pay the £700, or at
any rate settle the bill, if he saw a certainty of his son's securing
for himself anything like a decent provision in life. Nothing was
said openly between them about poor Eleanor, but the father and the
daughter understood each other.
They all met together in the drawing-room at nine o'clock, in perfect
good humour with each other, and about that hour Mrs. Bold was
announced. She had never been in the house before, though she had of
course called, and now she felt it strange to find herself there in
her usual evening dress, entering the drawing-room of these strangers
in this friendly, unceremonious way, as though she had known them all
her life. But in three minutes they made her at home. Charlotte
tripped downstairs and took her bonnet from her, and Bertie came to
relieve her from her shawl, and the signora smiled on her as she
could smile when she chose to be gracious, and the old doctor shook
hands with her in a kind benedictory manner that went to her heart at
once and made her feel that he must be a good man.
She had not been seated for above five minutes when the door again
opened and Mr. Slope was announced. She felt rather surprised,
because she was told that nobody was to be there, and it was very
evident from the manner of some of them that Mr. Slope was not
unexpected. But still there was not much in it. In such invitations
a bachelor or two more or less are always spoken of as nobodies, and
there was no reason why Mr. Slope should not drink tea at Dr.
Stanhope's as well as Eleanor herself. He, however, was very much
surprised and not very much gratified at finding that his own embryo
spouse made one of the party. He had come there to gratify himself
by gazing on Madame Neroni's beauty and listening to and returning
her flattery: and though he had not owned as much to himself, he
still felt that if he spent the evening as he had intended to do, he
might probably not thereby advance his suit with Mrs. Bold.
The signora, who had no idea of a rival, received Mr. Slope with her
usual marks of distinction. As he took her hand, she made some
confidential communication to him in a low voice, declaring that she
had a plan to communicate to him after tea, and was evidently
prepared to go on with her work of reducing the chaplain to a state
of captivity. Poor Mr. Slope was rather beside himself. He thought
that Eleanor could not but have learnt from his demeanour that he was
an admirer of her own, and he had also flattered himself that the
idea was not unacceptable to her. What would she think of him if he
now devoted himself to a married woman!
But Eleanor was not inclined to be severe in her criticisms on him in
this respect, and felt no annoyance of any kind, when she found
herself seated between Bertie and Charlotte Stanhope. She had no
suspicion of Mr. Slope's intentions; she had no suspicion even of the
suspicion of other people; but still she felt well-pleased not to
have Mr. Slope too near to her.
And she was not ill-pleased to have Bertie Stanhope near her. It was
rarely indeed that he failed to make an agreeable impression on
strangers. With a bishop indeed who thought much of his own dignity
it was possible that he might fail, but hardly with a young and
pretty woman. He possessed the tact of becoming instantly intimate
with women without giving rise to any fear of impertinence. He had
about him somewhat of the propensities of a tame cat. It seemed
quite natural that he should be petted, caressed, and treated with
familiar good nature, and that in return he should purr, and be sleek
and graceful, and above all never show his claws. Like other tame
cats, however, he had his claws and sometimes made them dangerous.
When tea was over, Charlotte went to the open window and declared
loudly that the full harvest moon was much too beautiful to be
disregarded, and called them all to look at it. To tell the truth
there was but one there who cared much about the moon's beauty, and
that one was not Charlotte, but she knew how valuable an aid to her
purpose the chaste goddess might become, and could easily create a
little enthusiasm for the purpose of the moment. Eleanor and Bertie
were soon with her. The doctor was now quiet in his armchair, and
Mrs. Stanhope in hers, both prepared for slumber.
"Are you a Whewellite or a Brewsterite, or a t'othermanite, Mrs.
Bold?" said Charlotte, who knew a little about everything, and had
read about a third of each of the books to which she alluded.
"Oh!" said Eleanor; "I have not read any of the books, but I feel
sure that there is one man in the moon at least, if not more."
"You don't believe in the pulpy gelatinous matter?" said Bertie.
"I heard about that," said Eleanor, "and I really think it's almost
wicked to talk in such a manner. How can we argue about God's power
in the other stars from the laws which he has given for our rule in
"How indeed!" said Bertie. "Why shouldn't there he a race of
salamanders in Venus? And even if there be nothing but fish in
Jupiter, why shouldn't the fish there he as wide awake as the men and
"That would be saying very little for them," said Charlotte. "I am
for Dr. Whewell myself, for I do not think that men and women are
worth being repeated in such countless worlds. There may be souls in
other stars, but I doubt their having any bodies attached to them.
But come, Mrs. Bold, let us put our bonnets on and walk round the
close. If we are to discuss sidereal questions, we shall do so much
better under the towers of the cathedral than stuck in this narrow
Mrs. Bold made no objection, and a party was made to walk out.
Charlotte Stanhope well knew the rule as to three being no company,
and she had therefore to induce her sister to allow Mr. Slope to
"Come, Mr. Slope," she said, "I'm sure you'll join us. We shall be
in again in a quarter of an hour, Madeline."
Madeline read in her eye all that she had to say, knew her object,
and as she had to depend on her sister for so many of her amusements,
she felt that she must yield. It was hard to be left alone while
others of her own age walked out to feel the soft influence of the
bright night, but it would be harder still to be without the sort of
sanction which Charlotte gave to all her flirtations and intrigues.
Charlotte's eye told her that she must give up just at present for
the good of the family, and so Madeline obeyed.
But Charlotte's eyes said nothing of the sort to Mr. Slope. He had
no objection at all to the tête-à-tête with the signora which the
departure of the other three would allow him, and gently whispered to
her, "I shall not leave you alone."
"Oh, yes," said she; "go--pray go, pray go, for my sake. Do not
think that I am so selfish. It is understood that nobody is kept
within for me. You will understand this too when you know me better.
Pray join them, Mr. Slope, but when you come in speak to me for five
minutes before you leave us."
Mr. Slope understood that he was to go, and he therefore joined the
party in the hall. He would have had no objection at all to this
arrangement, if he could have secured Mrs. Bold's arm; but this of
course was out of the question. Indeed, his fate was very soon
settled, for no sooner had he reached the hall-door than Miss
Stanhope put her hand within his arm, and Bertie walked off with
Eleanor just as naturally as though she were already his own
And so they sauntered forth: first they walked round the close,
according to their avowed intent; then they went under the old arched
gateway below St. Cuthbert's little church, and then they turned
behind the grounds of the bishop's palace, and so on till they came
to the bridge just at the edge of the town, from which passers-by can
look down into the gardens of Hiram's Hospital; and here Charlotte
and Mr. Slope, who were in advance, stopped till the other two came
up to them. Mr. Slope knew that the gable-ends and old brick
chimneys which stood up so prettily in the moonlight were those of
Mr. Harding's late abode, and would not have stopped on such a spot,
in such company, if he could have avoided it; but Miss Stanhope would
not take the hint which he tried to give.
"This is a very pretty place, Mrs. Bold," said Charlotte; "by far the
prettiest place near Barchester. I wonder your father gave it up."
It was a very pretty place, and now by the deceitful light of the
moon looked twice larger, twice prettier, twice more antiquely
picturesque than it would have done in truth-telling daylight. Who
does not know the air of complex multiplicity and the mysterious
interesting grace which the moon always lends to old gabled buildings
half-surrounded, as was the hospital, by fine trees! As seen from
the bridge on the night of which we are speaking, Mr. Harding's late
abode did look very lovely, and though Eleanor did not grieve at her
father's having left it, she felt at the moment an intense wish that
he might be allowed to return.
"He is going to return to it almost immediately, is he not?" asked
Eleanor made no immediate reply. Many such a question passes
unanswered without the notice of the questioner, but such was not now
the case. They all remained silent as though expecting her to reply,
and after a moment or two, Charlotte said, "I believe it is settled
that Mr. Harding returns to the hospital, is it not?"
"I don't think anything about it is settled yet," said Eleanor.
"But it must be a matter of course," said Bertie; "that is, if your
father wishes it. Who else on earth could hold it after what has
Eleanor quietly made her companion understand that the matter was one
which she could not discuss in the present company, and then they
passed on. Charlotte said she would go a short way up the hill out
of the town so as to look back upon the towers of the cathedral, and
as Eleanor leant upon Bertie's arm for assistance in the walk, she
told him how the matter stood between her father and the bishop.
"And, he," said Bertie, pointing on to Mr. Slope, "what part does he
take in it?"
Eleanor explained how Mr. Slope had at first endeavoured to tyrannize
over her father, but how he had latterly come round and done all he
could to talk the bishop over in Mr. Harding's favour. "But my
father," she said, "is hardly inclined to trust him; they all say he
is so arrogant to the old clergymen of the city."
"Take my word for it," said Bertie, "your father is right. If I am
not very much mistaken, that man is both arrogant and false."
They strolled up to the top of the hill and then returned through the
fields by a foot-path which leads by a small wooden bridge, or rather
a plank with a rustic rail to it, over the river to the other side of
the cathedral from that at which they had started. They had thus
walked round the bishop's grounds, through which the river runs, and
round the cathedral and adjacent fields, and it was past eleven
before they reached the doctor's door.
"It is very late," said Eleanor; "it will be a shame to disturb your
mother again at such an hour."
"Oh"' said Charlotte, laughing, "you won't disturb Mamma; I dare say
she is in bed by this time, and Madeline would be furious if you did
not come in and see her. Come, Bertie, take Mrs. Bold's bonnet from
They went upstairs and found the signora alone, reading. She looked
somewhat sad and melancholy, but not more so perhaps than was
sufficient to excite additional interest in the bosom of Mr. Slope;
and she was soon deep in whispered intercourse with that happy
gentleman, who was allowed to find a resting-place on her sofa. The
signora had a way of whispering that was peculiarly her own and was
exactly the reverse of that which prevails among great tragedians.
The great tragedian hisses out a positive whisper, made with bated
breath, and produced by inarticulated tongue-formed sounds, but yet
he is audible through the whole house. The signora, however, used no
hisses and produced all her words in a clear, silver tone, but they
could only be heard by the ear into which they were poured.
Charlotte hurried and scurried about the room hither and thither,
doing, or pretending to do many things; then, saying something about
seeing her mother, ran upstairs. Eleanor was thus left alone with
Bertie, and she hardly felt an hour fly by her. To give Bertie his
due credit, he could not have played his cards better. He did not
make love to her, nor sigh, nor look languishing, but he was amusing
and familiar, yet respectful; and when he left Eleanor at her own
door at one o'clock, which he did by the by with the assistance of
the now jealous Slope, she thought that he was one of the most
agreeable men and the Stanhopes decidedly the most agreeable family
that she had ever met.
The Rev. Francis Arabin, fellow of Lazarus, late professor of poetry
at Oxford, and present vicar of St. Ewold, in the diocese of
Barchester, must now be introduced personally to the reader. He is
worthy of a new volume, and as he will fill a conspicuous place in
it, it is desirable that he should be made to stand before the
reader's eye by the aid of such portraiture as the author is able to
It is to be regretted that no mental method of daguerreotype or
photography has yet been discovered by which the characters of men
can he reduced to writing and put into grammatical language with an
unerring precision of truthful description. How often does the
novelist feel, ay, and the historian also and the biographer, that he
has conceived within his mind and accurately depicted on the tablet
of his brain the full character and personage of a man, and that
nevertheless, when he flies to pen and ink to perpetuate the
portrait, his words forsake, elude, disappoint, and play the deuce
with him, till at the end of a dozen pages the man described has no
more resemblance to the man conceived than the sign-board at the
corner of the street has to the Duke of Cambridge.
And yet such mechanical descriptive skill would hardly give more
satisfaction to the reader than the skill of the photographer does to
the anxious mother desirous to possess an absolute duplicate of her
beloved child. The likeness is indeed true, but it is a dull, dead,
unfeeling, inauspicious likeness. The face is indeed there, and
those looking at it will know at once whose image it is, but the
owner of the face will not be proud of the resemblance.
There is no royal road to learning, no short cut to the acquirement
of any valuable art. Let photographers and daguerreotypers do what
they will, and improve as they may with further skill on that which
skill has already done, they will never achieve a portrait of the
human face divine. Let biographers, novelists, and the rest of us
groan as we may under the burdens which we so often feel too heavy
for our shoulders; we must either bear them up like men, or own
ourselves too weak for the work we have undertaken. There is no way
of writing well and also of writing easily.
Labor omnia vincit improbus. Such should be the chosen motto of
every labourer, and it may be that labour, if adequately enduring,
may suffice at last to produce even some not untrue resemblance of
the Rev. Francis Arabin.
Of his doings in the world and of the sort of fame which he has
achieved enough has been already said. It has also been said that he
is forty years of age and still unmarried. He was the younger son of
a country gentleman of small fortune in the north of England. At an
early age he went to Winchester, and was intended by his father for
New College; but though studious as a boy, he was not studious within
the prescribed limits, and at the age of eighteen he left school with
a character for talent, but without a scholarship. All that he had
obtained, over and above the advantage of his character, was a gold
medal for English verse, and hence was derived a strong presumption
on the part of his friends that he was destined to add another name
to the imperishable list of English poets.
From Winchester he went to Oxford, and was entered as a commoner at
Balliol. Here his special career very soon commenced. He utterly
eschewed the society of fast men, gave no wine-parties, kept no
horses, rowed no boats, joined no rows, and was the pride of his
college tutor. Such at least was his career till he had taken his
little go, and then he commenced a course of action which, though not
less creditable to himself as a man, was hardly so much to the taste
of the tutor. He became a member of a vigorous debating society and
rendered himself remarkable there for humorous energy. Though always
in earnest, yet his earnestness was always droll. To be true in his
ideas, unanswerable in his syllogisms, and just in his aspirations
was not enough for him. He had failed, failed in his own opinion as
well as that of others when others came to know him, if he could not
reduce the arguments of his opponents to an absurdity and conquer
both by wit and reason. To say that his object was ever to raise a
laugh would be most untrue. He hated such common and unnecessary
evidence of satisfaction on the part of his hearers. A joke that
required to be laughed at was, with him, not worth uttering. He
could appreciate by a keener sense than that of his ears the success
of his wit, and would see in the eyes of his auditors whether or no
he was understood and appreciated.
He had been a religious lad before he left school. That is, he had
addicted himself to a party in religion, and having done so had
received that benefit which most men do who become partisans in such
a cause. We are much too apt to look at schism in our church as an
unmitigated evil. Moderate schism, if there may be such a thing, at
any rate calls attention to the subject, draws in supporters who
would otherwise have been inattentive to the matter, and teaches men
to think upon religion. How great an amount of good of this
description has followed that movement in the Church of England which
commenced with the publication of Froude's Remains!
As a boy young Arabin took up the cudgels on the side of the
Tractarians, and at Oxford he sat for a while at the feet of the
great Newman. To this cause he lent all his faculties. For it he
concocted verses, for it he made speeches, for it he scintillated the
brightest sparks of his quiet wit. For it he ate and drank and
dressed and had his being. In due process of time he took his degree
and wrote himself B.A., but he did not do so with any remarkable
amount of academical éclat. He had occupied himself too much with
High Church matters and the polemics, politics, and outward
demonstrations usually concurrent with High Churchmanship to devote
himself with sufficient vigour to the acquisition of a double first.
He was not a double first, nor even a first class man, but he
revenged himself on the university by putting firsts and double
firsts out of fashion for the year and laughing down a species of
pedantry which, at the age of twenty-three, leaves no room in a man's
mind for graver subjects than conic sections or Greek accents.
Greek accents, however, and conic sections were esteemed necessaries
at Balliol, and there was no admittance there for Mr. Arabin within
the list of its fellows. Lazarus, however, the richest and most
comfortable abode of Oxford dons, opened its bosom to the young
champion of a church militant. Mr. Arabin was ordained, and became a
fellow soon after taking his degree, and shortly after that was
chosen professor of poetry.
And now came the moment of his great danger. After many mental
struggles, and an agony of doubt which may be well surmised, the
great prophet of the Tractarians confessed himself a Roman Catholic.
Mr. Newman left the Church of England and with him carried many a
waverer. He did not carry off Mr. Arabin, but the escape which that
gentleman had was a very narrow one. He left Oxford for awhile that
he might meditate in complete peace on the step which appeared to him
to be all but unavoidable, and shut himself up in a little village on
the sea-shore of one of our remotest counties, that he might learn by
communing with his own soul whether or no he could with a safe
conscience remain within the pale of his mother church.
Things would have gone badly with him there had he been left entirely
to himself. Everything was against him: all his worldly interests
required him to remain a Protestant, and he looked on his worldly
interests as a legion of foes, to get the better of whom was a point
of extremest honour. In his then state of ecstatic agony such a
conquest would have cost him little; he could easily have thrown away
all his livelihood; but it cost him much to get over the idea that by
choosing the Church of England he should be open in his own mind to
the charge that he had been led to such a choice by unworthy motives.
Then his heart was against him: he loved with a strong and eager love
the man who had hitherto been his guide and yearned to follow his
footsteps. His tastes were against him: the ceremonies and pomps of
the Church of Rome, their august feasts and solemn fasts, invited his
imagination and pleased his eye. His flesh was against him: how
great an aid would it be to a poor, weak, wavering man to be
constrained to high moral duties, self-denial, obedience, and
chastity by laws which were certain in their enactments, and not to
be broken without loud, palpable, unmistakable sin! Then his faith
was against him: he required to believe so much; panted so eagerly to
give signs of his belief; deemed it so insufficient to wash himself
simply in the waters of Jordan; that some great deed, such as that of
forsaking everything for a true Church, had for him allurements
almost past withstanding.
Mr. Arabin was at this time a very young man, and when he left Oxford
for his far retreat was much too confident in his powers of fence,
and too apt to look down on the ordinary sense of ordinary people, to
expect aid in the battle that he had to fight from any chance
inhabitants of the spot which he had selected. But Providence was
good to him; there, in that all but desolate place, on the storm-beat
shore of that distant sea, he met one who gradually calmed his mind,
quieted his imagination, and taught him something of a Christian's
duty. When Mr. Arabin left Oxford, he was inclined to look upon the
rural clergymen of most English parishes almost with contempt. It
was his ambition, should he remain within the fold of their church,
to do somewhat towards redeeming and rectifying their inferiority and
to assist in infusing energy and faith into the hearts of Christian
ministers, who were, as he thought, too often satisfied to go through
life without much show of either.
And yet it was from such a one that Mr. Arabin in his extremest need
received that aid which he so much required. It was from the poor
curate of a small Cornish parish that he first learnt to know that
the highest laws for the governance of a Christian's duty must act
from within and not from without; that no man can become a
serviceable servant solely by obedience to written edicts; and that
the safety which he was about to seek within the gates of Rome was no
other than the selfish freedom from personal danger which the bad
soldier attempts to gain who counterfeits illness on the eve of
Mr. Arabin returned to Oxford a humbler but a better and a happier
man, and from that time forth he put his shoulder to the wheel as a
clergyman of the Church for which he had been educated. The
intercourse of those among whom he familiarly lived kept him staunch
to the principles of that system of the Church to which he had always
belonged. Since his severance from Mr. Newman, no one had had so
strong an influence over him as the head of his college. During the
time of his expected apostasy Dr. Gwynne had not felt much
predisposition in favour of the young fellow. Though a High
Churchman himself within moderate limits, Dr. Gwynne felt no sympathy
with men who could not satisfy their faiths with the Thirty-nine
Articles. He regarded the enthusiasm of such as Newman as a state of
mind more nearly allied to madness than to religion, and when he saw
it evinced by very young men, he was inclined to attribute a good
deal of it to vanity. Dr. Gwynne himself, though a religious man,
was also a thoroughly practical man of the world, and he regarded
with no favourable eye the tenets of anyone who looked on the two
things as incompatible. When he found that Mr. Arabin was a half
Roman, he began to regret all he had done towards bestowing a
fellowship on so unworthy a recipient; and when again he learnt that
Mr. Arabin would probably complete his journey to Rome, he regarded
with some satisfaction the fact that in such case the fellowship
would be again vacant.
When, however, Mr. Arabin returned and professed himself a confirmed
Protestant, the Master of Lazarus again opened his arms to him, and
gradually he became the pet of the college. For some little time he
was saturnine, silent, and unwilling to take any prominent part in
university broils, but gradually his mind recovered, or rather made
its tone, and he became known as a man always ready at a moment's
notice to take up the cudgels in opposition to anything that savoured
of an evangelical bearing. He was great in sermons, great on
platforms, great at after-dinner conversations, and always pleasant
as well as great. He took delight in elections, served on
committees, opposed tooth and nail all projects of university reform,
and talked jovially over his glass of port of the ruin to be
anticipated by the Church and of the sacrilege daily committed by the
Whigs. The ordeal through which he had gone in resisting the
blandishments of the lady of Rome had certainly done much towards the
strengthening of his character. Although in small and outward
matters he was self-confident enough, nevertheless in things
affecting the inner man he aimed at a humility of spirit which would
never have been attractive to him but for that visit to the coast of
Cornwall. This visit he now repeated every year.
Such is an interior view of Mr. Arabin at the time when he accepted
the living of St Ewold. Exteriorly, he was not a remarkable person.
He was above the middle height, well-made, and very active. His
hair, which had been jet black, was now tinged with gray, but his
face bore no sign of years. It would perhaps be wrong to say that he
was handsome, but his face was nevertheless pleasant to look upon.
The cheek-bones were rather too high for beauty, and the formation of
the forehead too massive and heavy: but the eyes, nose, and mouth
were perfect. There was a continual play of lambent fire about his
eyes, which gave promise of either pathos or humour whenever he
essayed to speak, and that promise was rarely broken. There was a
gentle play about his mouth which declared that his wit never
descended to sarcasm and that there was no ill-nature in his
Mr. Arabin was a popular man among women, but more so as a general
than a special favourite. Living as a fellow at Oxford, marriage
with him had been out of the question, and it may be doubted whether
he had ever allowed his heart to be touched. Though belonging to a
church in which celibacy is not the required lot of its ministers, he
had come to regard himself as one of those clergymen to whom to be a
bachelor is almost a necessity. He had never looked for parochial
duty, and his career at Oxford was utterly incompatible with such
domestic joys as a wife and nursery. He looked on women, therefore,
in the same light that one sees them regarded by many Romish priests.
He liked to have near him that which was pretty and amusing, but
women generally were little more to him than children. He talked to
them without putting out all his powers and listened to them without
any idea that what he should hear from them could either actuate his
conduct or influence his opinion.
Such was Mr. Arabin, the new vicar of St. Ewold, who is going to stay
with the Grantlys at Plumstead Episcopi.
Mr. Arabin reached Plumstead the day before Mr. Harding and Eleanor,
and the Grantly family were thus enabled to make his acquaintance and
discuss his qualifications before the arrival of the other guests.
Griselda was surprised to find that he looked so young, but she told
Florinda her younger sister, when they had retired for the night,
that he did not talk at all like a young man: and she decided with
the authority that seventeen has over sixteen that he was not at all
nice, although his eyes were lovely. As usual, sixteen implicitly
acceded to the dictum of seventeen in such a matter and said that he
certainly was not nice. They then branched off on the relative
merits of other clerical bachelors in the vicinity, and both
determined without any feeling of jealousy between them that a
certain Rev. Augustus Green was by many degrees the most estimable of
the lot. The gentleman in question had certainly much in his favour,
as, having a comfortable allowance from his father, he could devote
the whole proceeds of his curacy to violet gloves and unexceptionable
neck ties. Having thus fixedly resolved that the new-comer had
nothing about him to shake the pre-eminence of the exalted Green, the
two girls went to sleep in each other's arms, contented with
themselves and the world.
Mrs. Grantly at first sight came to much the same conclusion about
her husband's favourite as her daughters had done, though, in seeking
to measure his relative value, she did not compare him to Mr. Green;
indeed, she made no comparison by name between him and anyone else;
but she remarked to her husband that one person's swans were very
often another person's geese, thereby clearly showing that Mr. Arabin
had not yet proved his qualifications in swanhood to her
'Well, Susan," said he, rather offended at hearing his friend spoken
of so disrespectfully, "if you take Mr. Arabin for a goose, I cannot
say that I think very highly of your discrimination."
"A goose! No, of course, he's not a goose. I've no doubt he's a
very clever man. But you're so matter-of-fact, Archdeacon, when it
suits your purpose, that one can't trust oneself to any façon de
parler. I've no doubt Mr. Arabin is a very valuable man--at Oxford--
and that he'll be a good vicar at St. Ewold. All I mean is that,
having passed one evening with him, I don't find him to be absolutely
a paragon. In the first place, if I am not mistaken, he is a little
inclined to be conceited."
"Of all the men that I know intimately," said the archdeacon, "Arabin
is, in my opinion, the most free from any taint of self-conceit. His
fault is that he's too diffident."
"Perhaps so," said the lady; "only I must own I did not find it out
Nothing further was said about him. Dr. Grantly thought that his
wife was abusing Mr. Arabin merely because he had praised him, and
Mrs. Grantly knew that it was useless arguing for or against any
person in favour of or in opposition to whom the archdeacon had
already pronounced a strong opinion.
In truth, they were both right. Mr. Arabin was a diffident man in
social intercourse with those whom he did not intimately know; when
placed in situations which it was his business to fill, and
discussing matters with which it was his duty to be conversant, Mr.
Arabin was from habit brazen-faced enough. When standing on a
platform in Exeter Hall, no man would be less mazed than he by the
eyes of the crowd before him, for such was the work which his
profession had called on him to perform; but he shrank from a strong
expression of opinion in general society, and his doing so not
uncommonly made it appear that he considered the company not worth
the trouble of his energy. He was averse to dictate when the place
did not seem to him to justify dictation, and as those subjects on
which people wished to hear him speak were such as he was accustomed
to treat with decision, he generally shunned the traps there were
laid to allure him into discussion, and, by doing so, not
infrequently subjected himself to such charges as those brought
against him by Mrs. Grantly.
Mr. Arabin, as he sat at his open window, enjoying the delicious
moonlight and gazing at the gray towers of the church, which stood
almost within the rectory grounds, little dreamed that he was the
subject of so many friendly or unfriendly criticisms. Considering
how much we are all given to discuss the characters of others, and
discuss them often not in the strictest spirit of charity, it is
singular how little we are inclined to think that others can speak
ill-naturedly of us, and how angry and hurt we are when proof reaches
us that they have done so. It is hardly too much to say that we all
of us occasionally speak of our dearest friends in a manner in which
those dearest friends would very little like to hear themselves
mentioned, and that we nevertheless expect that our dearest friends
shall invariably speak of us as though they were blind to all our
faults but keenly alive to every shade of our virtues.
It did not occur to Mr. Arabin that he was spoken of at all. It
seemed to him, when he compared himself with his host, that he was a
person of so little consequence to any that he was worth no one's
words or thoughts. He was utterly alone in the world as regarded
domestic ties and those inner familiar relations which are hardly
possible between others than husbands and wives, parents and
children, or brothers and sisters. He had often discussed with
himself the necessity of such bonds for a man's happiness in this
world and had generally satisfied himself with the answer that
happiness in this world is not a necessity. Herein he deceived
himself, or rather tried to do so. He, like others, yearned for the
enjoyment of whatever he saw enjoyable, and though he attempted, with
the modern stoicism of so many Christians, to make himself believe
that joy and sorrow were matters which here should be held as
perfectly indifferent, these things were not indifferent to him. He
was tired of his Oxford rooms and his college life. He regarded the
wife and children of his friend with something like envy; he all but
coveted the pleasant drawing-room, with its pretty windows opening on
to lawns and flower-beds, the apparel of the comfortable house,
and--above all--the air of home which encompassed it all.
It will be said that no time can have been so fitted for such desires
on his part as this, when he had just possessed himself of a country
parish, of a living among fields and gardens, of a house which a wife
would grace. It is true there was a difference between the opulence
of Plumstead and the modest economy of St. Ewold, but surely Mr.
Arabin was not a man to sigh after wealth! Of all men, his friends
would have unanimously declared he was the last to do so. But how
little our friends know us! In his period of stoical rejection of
this world's happiness, he had cast from him as utter dross all
anxiety as to fortune. He had, as it were, proclaimed himself to be
indifferent to promotion, and those who chiefly admired his talents,
and would mainly have exerted themselves to secure to them their
deserved reward, had taken him at his word. And now, if the truth
must out, he felt himself disappointed--disappointed not by them but
by himself. The daydream of his youth was over, and at the age of
forty he felt that he was not fit to work in the spirit of an
apostle. He had mistaken himself and learned his mistake when it was
past remedy. He had professed himself indifferent to mitres and
diaconal residences, to rich livings and pleasant glebes, and now he
had to own to himself that he was sighing for the good things of
other men on whom, in his pride, he had ventured to look down.
Not for wealth, in its vulgar sense, had he ever sighed; not for the
enjoyment of rich things, had he ever longed; but for the allotted
share of worldly bliss which a wife, and children, and happy home
could give him, for that usual amount of comfort which he had
ventured to reject as unnecessary for him, he did now feel that he
would have been wiser to have searched.
He knew that his talents, his position, and his friends would have
won for him promotion, had he put himself in the way of winning it.
Instead of doing so, he had allowed himself' to be persuaded to
accept a living which would give him an income of some £300 a year
should he, by marrying, throw up his fellowship. Such, at the age of
forty, was the worldly result of labour which the world had chosen to
regard as successful. The world also thought that Mr. Arabin was, in
his own estimation, sufficiently paid. Alas! Alas! The world was
mistaken, and Mr. Arabin was beginning to ascertain that such was the
And here may I beg the reader not to be hard in his judgement upon
this man. Is not the state at which he has arrived the natural
result of efforts to reach that which is not the condition of
humanity? Is not modern stoicism, built though it be on
Christianity, as great an outrage on human nature as was the stoicism
of the ancients? The philosophy of Zeno was built on true laws, but
on true laws misunderstood and therefore misapplied. It is the same
with our Stoics here, who would teach us that wealth and worldly
comfort and happiness on earth are not worth the search. Alas, for a
doctrine which can find no believing pupils and no true teachers!
The case of Mr. Arabin was the more singular, as he belonged to a
branch of the Church of England well inclined to regard its
temporalities with avowed favour, and had habitually lived with men
who were accustomed to much worldly comfort. But such was his
idiosyncrasy that these very facts had produced within him, in early
life, a state of mind that was not natural to him. He was content to
be a High Churchman, if he could be so on principles of his own and
could strike out a course showing a marked difference from those with
whom he consorted. He was ready to be a partisan as long as he was
allowed to have a course of action and of thought unlike that of his
party. His party had indulged him, and he began to feel that his
party was right and himself wrong, just when such a conviction was
too late to be of service to him. He discovered, when such discovery
was no longer serviceable, that it would have been worth his while to
have worked for the usual pay assigned to work in this world and have
earned a wife and children, with a carriage for them to sit in; to
have earned a pleasant dining-room, in which his friends could drink
his wine, and the power of walking up the high street of his country
town, with the knowledge that all its tradesmen would have gladly
welcomed him within their doors. Other men arrived at those
convictions in their start in life and so worked up to them. To him
they had come when they were too late to be of use.
It has been said that Mr. Arabin was a man of pleasantry, and it may
be thought that such a state of mind as that described would be
antagonistic to humour. But surely such is not the case. Wit is the
outward mental casing of the man and has no more to do with the inner
mind of thoughts and feelings than have the rich brocaded garments of
the priest at the altar with the asceticism of the anchorite below
them, whose skin is tormented with sackcloth and whose body is half-
flayed with rods. Nay, will not such a one often rejoice more than
any other in the rich show of his outer apparel? Will it not be food
for his pride to feel that he groans inwardly while he shines
outwardly? So it is with the mental efforts which men make. Those
which they show forth daily to the world are often the opposites of
the inner workings of the spirit.
In the archdeacon's drawing-room, Mr. Arabin had sparkled with his
usual unaffected brilliancy, but when he retired to his bedroom, he
sat there sad, at his open window, repining within himself that he
also had no wife, no bairns, no soft sward of lawn duly mown for him
to lie on, no herd of attendant curates, no bowings from the banker's
clerks, no rich rectory. That apostleship that he had thought of had
evaded his grasp, and he was now only vicar of St. Ewold's, with a
taste for a mitre. Truly he had fallen between two stools.
St. Ewold's Parsonage
When Mr. Harding and Mrs. Bold reached the rectory on the following
morning, the archdeacon and his friend were at St. Ewold's. They had
gone over that the new vicar might inspect his church and be
introduced to the squire, and were not expected back before dinner.
Mr. Harding rambled out by himself and strolled, as was his wont at
Plumstead, about the lawn and round the church; and as he did so, the
two sisters naturally fell into conversation about Barchester.
There was not much sisterly confidence between them. Mrs. Grantly
was ten years older than Eleanor, and had been married while Eleanor
was yet a child. They had never, therefore, poured into each other's
ears their hopes and loves, and now that one was a wife and the other
a widow, it was not probable that they would begin to do so. They
lived too much asunder to be able to fall into that kind of
intercourse which makes confidence between sisters almost a
necessity; moreover, that which is so easy at eighteen is often very
difficult at twenty-eight. Mrs. Grantly knew this and did not,
therefore, expect confidence from her sister; yet she longed to ask
her whether in real truth Mr. Slope was agreeable to her.
It was by no means difficult to turn the conversation to Mr. Slope.
That gentleman had become so famous at Barchester, had so much to do
with all clergymen connected with the city, and was so specially
concerned in the affairs of Mr. Harding, that it would have been odd
if Mr. Harding's daughters had not talked about him. Mrs. Grantly
was soon abusing him, which she did with her whole heart, and Mrs.
Bold was nearly as eager to defend him. She positively disliked the
man, would have been delighted to learn that he had taken himself off
so that she should never see him again, had indeed almost a fear of
him, and yet she constantly found herself taking his part. The abuse
of other people and abuse of a nature that she felt to be unjust
imposed this necessity on her and at last made Mr. Slope's defence an
habitual course of argument with her.
From Mr. Slope the conversation turned to the Stanhopes, and Mrs.
Grantly was listening with some interest to Eleanor's account of the
family when it dropped out that Mr. Slope made one of the party.
"What!" said the lady of the rectory. "Was Mr. Slope there too?"
Eleanor merely replied that such had been the case.
"Why, Eleanor, he must be very fond of you, I think; he seems to
follow you everywhere."
Even this did not open Eleanor's eyes. She merely laughed, and said
that she imagined Mr. Slope found other attraction at Dr. Stanhope's.
And so they parted. Mrs. Grantly felt quite convinced that the
odious match would take place, and Mrs. Bold as convinced that that
unfortunate chaplain, disagreeable as he must be allowed to be, was
more sinned against than sinning.
The archdeacon of course heard before dinner that Eleanor had
remained the day before in Barchester with the view of meeting Mr.
Slope and that she had so met him. He remembered how she had
positively stated that there were to be no guests at the Stanhopes,
and he did not hesitate to accuse her of deceit. Moreover, the fact,
or rather presumed fact, of her being deceitful on such a matter
spoke but too plainly in evidence against her as to her imputed crime
of receiving Mr. Slope as a lover.
"I am afraid that anything we can do will be too late," said the
archdeacon. "I own I am fairly surprised. I never liked your
sister's taste with regard to men, but still I did not give her
"And so soon, too," said Mrs. Grantly, who thought more, perhaps, of
her sister's indecorum in having a lover before she had put off her
weeds than her bad taste in having such a lover as Mr. Slope.
"Well, my dear, I shall he sorry to be harsh, or to do anything that
can hurt your father; but, positively, neither that man nor his wife
shall come within my doors."
Mrs. Grantly sighed, and then attempted to console herself and her
lord by remarking that, after all, the thing was not accomplished
yet. Now that Eleanor was at Plumstead, much might be done to wean
her from her fatal passion. Poor Eleanor!
The evening passed off without anything to make it remarkable. Mr.
Arabin discussed the parish of St. Ewold with the archdeacon, and
Mrs. Grantly and Mr. Harding, who knew the personages of the parish,
joined in. Eleanor also knew them, but she said little. Mr. Arabin
did not apparently take much notice of her, and she was not in a
humour to receive at that time with any special grace any special
favourite of her brother-in-law. Her first idea on reaching her
bedroom was that a much pleasanter family party might be met at Dr.
Stanhope's than at the rectory. She began to think that she was
getting tired of clergymen and their respectable, humdrum, wearisome
mode of living, and that after all, people in the outer world, who
had lived in Italy, London, or elsewhere, need not necessarily be
regarded as atrocious and abominable. The Stanhopes, she had
thought, were a giddy, thoughtless, extravagant set of people, but
she had seen nothing wrong about them and had, on the other hand,
found that they thoroughly knew how to make their house agreeable.
It was a thousand pities, she thought, that the archdeacon should not
have a little of the same savoir vivre. Mr. Arabin, as we have said,
did not apparently take much notice of her, but yet he did not go to
bed without feeling that he had been in company with a very pretty
woman; and as is the case with most bachelors, and some married men,
regarded the prospect of his month's visit at Plumstead in a
pleasanter light when he learnt that a very pretty woman was to share
it with him.
Before they all retired it was settled that the whole party should
drive over on the following day to inspect the parsonage at St.
Ewold. The three clergymen were to discuss dilapidations, and the
two ladies were to lend their assistance in suggesting such changes
as might be necessary for a bachelor's abode.
Accordingly, soon after breakfast the carriage was at the door.
There was only room for four inside, and the archdeacon got upon the
box. Eleanor found herself opposite to Mr. Arabin, and was,
therefore, in a manner forced into conversation with him. They were
soon on comfortable terms together, and had she thought about it, she
would have thought that, in spite of his black cloth, Mr. Arabin
would not have been a bad addition to the Stanhope family party.
Now that the archdeacon was away they could all trifle. Mr. Harding
began by telling them in the most innocent manner imaginable an old
legend about Mr. Arabin's new parish. There was, he said, in days of
yore an illustrious priestess of St. Ewold, famed through the whole
country for curing all manner of diseases. She had a well, as all
priestesses have ever had, which well was extant to this day and
shared in the minds of many of the people the sanctity which belonged
to the consecrated ground of the parish church. Mr. Arabin declared
that he should look on such tenets on the part of his parishioners as
anything but orthodox. And Mrs. Grantly replied that she so entirely
disagreed with him as to think that no parish was in a proper state
that had not its priestess as well as its priest. "The duties are
never well done," said she, "unless they are so divided."
"I suppose, Papa," said Eleanor, "that in the olden times the
priestess bore all the sway herself. Mr. Arabin, perhaps, thinks
that such might be too much the case now if a sacred lady were
admitted within the parish."
"I think, at any rate," said he, "that it is safer to run no such
risk. No priestly pride has ever exceeded that of sacerdotal
females. A very lowly curate I might, perhaps, essay to rule, but a
curatess would be sure to get the better of me."
"There are certainly examples of such accidents happening," said Mrs.
Grantly. "They do say that there is a priestess at Barchester who is
very imperious in all things touching the altar. Perhaps the fear of
such a fate as that is before your eyes."
When they were joined by the archdeacon on the gravel before the
vicarage, they descended again to grave dullness. Not that
Archdeacon Grantly was a dull man, but his frolic humours were of a
cumbrous kind, and his wit, when he was witty, did not generally
extend itself to his auditors. On the present occasion he was soon
making speeches about wounded roofs and walls, which he declared to
be in want of some surgeon's art. There was not a partition that he
did not tap, nor a block of chimneys that he did not narrowly
examine; all water-pipes, flues, cisterns, and sewers underwent an
investigation; he even descended, in the care of his friend, so far
as to bore sundry boards in the floors with a bradawl.
Mr. Arabin accompanied him through the rooms, trying to look wise in
such domestic matters, and the other three also followed. Mrs.
Grantly showed that she had not herself been priestess of a parish
twenty years for nothing and examined the bells and window-panes in a
very knowing way.
"You will, at any rate, have a beautiful prospect out of your own
window, if this is to be your private sanctum," said Eleanor. She
was standing at the lattice of a little room upstairs, from which the
view certainly was very lovely. It was from the back of the
vicarage, and there was nothing to interrupt the eye between the
house and the glorious gray pile of the cathedral. The intermediate
ground, however, was beautifully studded with timber. In the
immediate foreground ran the little river which afterwards skirted
the city, and, just to the right of the cathedral, the pointed gables
and chimneys of Hiram's Hospital peeped out of the elms which
"Yes," said he, joining her. "I shall have a beautifully complete
view of my adversaries. I shall sit down before the hostile town and
fire away at them at a very pleasant distance. I shall just be able
to lodge a shot in the hospital, should the enemy ever get possession
of it, and as for the palace, I have it within full range."
"I never saw anything like you clergymen," said Eleanor; "You are
always thinking of fighting each other."
"Either that," said he, "or else supporting each other. The pity is
that we cannot do the one without the other. But are we not here to
fight? Is not ours a church militant? What is all our work but
fighting, and hard fighting, if it be well done?"
"But not with each other."
"That's as it may be. The same complaint which you make of me for
battling with another clergyman of our own church the Mohammedan
would make against me for battling with the error of a priest of
Rome. Yet, surely, you would not be inclined to say that I should be
wrong to do battle with such as him. A pagan, too, with his
multiplicity of gods, would think it equally odd that the Christian
and the Mohammedan should disagree."
"Ah! But you wage your wars about trifles so bitterly."
"Wars about trifles," said he, "are always bitter, especially among
neighbours. When the differences are great, and the
parties comparative strangers, men quarrel with courtesy. What
combatants are ever so eager as two brothers?"
"But do not such contentions bring scandal on the church?"
"More scandal would fall on the church if there were no such
contentions. We have but one way to avoid them--by that of
acknowledging a common head of our church, whose word on all points
of doctrine shall be authoritative. Such a termination of our
difficulties is alluring enough. It has charms which are
irresistible to many, and all but irresistible, I own, to me."
"You speak now of the Church of Rome?" said Eleanor.
"No," said he, "not necessarily of the Church of Rome; but of a
church with a head. Had it pleased God to vouchsafe to us such a
church our path would have been easy. But easy paths have not been
thought good for us." He paused and stood silent for awhile,
thinking of the time when he had so nearly sacrificed all he had, his
powers of mind, his free agency, the fresh running waters of his
mind's fountain, his very inner self, for an easy path in which no
fighting would be needed; and then he continued: "What you say is
partly true: our contentions do bring on us some scandal. The outer
world, though it constantly reviles us for our human infirmities and
throws in our teeth the fact that being clergymen we are still no
more than men, demands of us that we should do our work with godlike
perfection. There is nothing god-like about us: we differ from each
other with the acerbity common to man; we triumph over each other
with human frailty; we allow differences on subjects of divine origin
to produce among us antipathies and enmities which are anything but
divine. This is all true. But what would you have in place of it?
There is no infallible head for a church on earth. This dream of
believing man has been tried, and we see in Italy and in Spain what
has come of it. Grant that there are and have been no bickerings
within the pale of the Pope's Church. Such an assumption would be
utterly untrue, but let us grant it, and then let us say which church
has incurred the heavier scandals."
There was a quiet earnestness about Mr. Arabin, as he half-
acknowledged and half-defended himself from the charge brought
against him, which surprised Eleanor. She had been used all her life
to listen to clerical discussion, but the points at issue between the
disputants had so seldom been of more than temporal significance as
to have left on her mind no feeling of reverence for such subjects.
There had always been a hard worldly leaven of the love either of
income or of power in the strains she had heard; there had been no
panting for the truth; no aspirations after religious purity. It had
always been taken for granted by those around her that they were
indubitably right; that there was no ground for doubt; that the hard
uphill work of ascertaining what the duty of a clergyman should be
had been already accomplished in full; and that what remained for an
active militant parson to do was to hold his own against all comers.
Her father, it is true, was an exception to this, but then he was so
essentially anti-militant in all things that she classed him in her
own mind apart from all others. She had never argued the matter
within herself, or considered whether this common tone was or was not
faulty, but she was sick of it without knowing that she was so. And
now she found to her surprise, and not without a certain pleasurable
excitement, that this new-comer among them spoke in a manner very
different from that to which she was accustomed.
"It is so easy to condemn," said he, continuing the thread of his
thoughts. "I know no life that must be so delicious as that of a
writer for newspapers, or a leading member of the opposition--to
thunder forth accusations against men in power; to show up the worst
side of everything that is produced; to pick holes in every coat; to
be indignant, sarcastic, jocose, moral, or supercilious; to damn with
faint praise, or crush with open calumny! What can be so easy as
this when the critic has to be responsible for nothing? You condemn
what I do, but put yourself in my position and do the reverse, and
then see if I cannot condemn you."
"Oh, Mr. Arabin, I do not condemn you."
"Pardon me, you do, Mrs. Bold--you as one of the world; you are now
the opposition member; you are now composing your leading article,
and well and bitterly you do it. 'Let dogs delight to bark and
bite'--you fitly begin with an elegant quotation--'but if we are to
have a church at all, in heaven's name let the pastors who preside
over it keep their hands from each other's throats. Lawyers can live
without befouling each other's names; doctors do not fight duels.
Why is it that clergymen alone should indulge themselves in such
unrestrained liberty of abuse against each other?' and so you go on
reviling us for our ungodly quarrels, our sectarian propensities, and
scandalous differences. It will, however, give you no trouble to
write another article next week in which we, or some of us, shall be
twitted with an unseemly apathy in matters of our vocation. It will
not fall on you to reconcile the discrepancy; your readers will never
ask you how the poor parson is to be urgent in season and out of
season and yet never come in contact with men who think widely
differently from him. You, when you condemn this foreign treaty, or
that official arrangement, will have to incur no blame for the graver
faults of any different measure. It is so easy to condemn--and so
pleasant too, for eulogy charms no listeners as detraction does."
Eleanor only half-followed him in his raillery, but she caught his
meaning. "I know I ought to apologize for presuming to criticize
you," she said, "but I was thinking with sorrow of the ill-will that
has lately come among us at Barchester, and I spoke more freely than
I should have done."
"Peace on earth and goodwill among men, are, like heaven, promises
for the future;" said he, following rather his own thoughts than
hers. "When that prophecy is accomplished, there will no longer be
any need for clergymen."
Here they were interrupted by the archdeacon, whose voice was heard
from the cellar shouting to the vicar.
"Arabin, Arabin,"--and then, turning to his wife, who was apparently
at his elbow--"where has he gone to? This cellar is perfectly
abominable. It would be murder to put a bottle of wine into it till
it has been roofed, walled, and floored. How on earth old Goodenough
ever got on with it I cannot guess. But then Goodenough never had a
glass of wine that any man could drink."
"What is it, Archdeacon?" said the vicar, running downstairs and
leaving Eleanor above to her meditations.
"This cellar must be roofed, walled, and floored," repeated the
archdeacon. "Now mind what I say, and don't let the architect
persuade you that it will do; half of these fellows know nothing
about wine. This place as it is now would be damp and cold in winter
and hot and muggy in summer. I wouldn't give a straw for the best
wine that ever was vinted, after it had lain here a couple of years."
Mr. Arabin assented and promised that the cellar should be
reconstructed according to the archdeacon's receipt.
"And, Arabin, look here, was such an attempt at a kitchen grate ever
"The grate is really very bad," said Mrs. Grantly. "1 am sure the
priestess won't approve of it, when she is brought home to the scene
of her future duties. Really, Mr. Arabin, no priestess accustomed to
such an excellent well as that above could put up with such a grate
"If there must be a priestess at St. Ewold's at all, Mrs. Grantly, I
think we will leave her to her well and not call down her divine
wrath on any of the imperfections rising from our human poverty.
However, I own I am amenable to the attractions of a well-cooked
dinner, and the grate shall certainly be changed."
By this time the archdeacon had again ascended, and was now in the
dining-room. "Arabin," said he, speaking in his usual loud, clear
voice and with that tone of dictation which was so common to him,
"you must positively alter this dining-room--that is, remodel it
altogether. Look here, it is just sixteen feet by fifteen; did any
man ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions!" The archdeacon
stepped the room long-ways and cross-ways with ponderous steps, as
though a certain amount of ecclesiastical dignity could be imparted
even to such an occupation as that by the manner of doing it.
"Barely sixteen; you may call it a square."
"It would do very well for a round table," suggested the ex-warden.
Now there was something peculiarly unorthodox, in the archdeacon's
estimation, in the idea of a round table. He had always been
accustomed to a goodly board of decent length, comfortably elongating
itself according to the number of the guests, nearly black with
perpetual rubbing, and as bright as a mirror. Now round dinner-
tables are generally of oak, or else of such new construction as not
to have acquired the peculiar hue which was so pleasing to him. He
connected them with what he called the nasty newfangled method of
leaving a cloth on the table, as though to warn people that they were
not to sit long. In his eyes there was something democratic and
parvenu in a round table. He imagined that dissenters and calico-
printers chiefly used them, and perhaps a few literary lions more
conspicuous for their wit than their gentility. He was a little
flurried at the idea of such an article being introduced into the
diocese by a protégé of his own and at the instigation of his
"A round dinner-table," said he with some heat, "is the most
abominable article of furniture that ever was invented. I hope that
Arabin has more taste than to allow such a thing in his house."
Poor Mr. Harding felt himself completely snubbed and of course said
nothing further, but Mr. Arabin, who had yielded submissively in the
small matters of the cellar and kitchen grate, found himself obliged
to oppose reforms which might be of a nature too expensive for his
"But it seems to me, Archdeacon, that I can't very well lengthen the
room without pulling down the wall, and if I pull down the wall, I
must build it up again; then if I throw out a bow on this side, I
must do the same on the other, and if I do it for the ground floor, I
must carry it up to the floor above. That will be putting a new
front to the house and will cost, I suppose, a couple of hundred
pounds. The ecclesiastical commissioners will hardly assist me when
they hear that my grievance consists in having a dining-room only
sixteen feet long."
The archdeacon proceeded to explain that nothing would be easier than
adding six feet to the front of the dining-room without touching any
other room in the house. Such irregularities of construction in
small country-houses were, he said, rather graceful than otherwise,
and he offered to pay for the whole thing out of his own pocket if it
cost more than forty pounds. Mr. Arabin, however, was firm, and,
although the archdeacon fussed and fumed about it, would not give
way. Forty pounds, he said, was a matter of serious moment to him,
and his friends, if under such circumstances they would be good-
natured enough to come to him at all, must put up with the misery of
a square room. He was willing to compromise matters by disclaiming
any intention of having a round table.
"But," said Mrs. Grantly, "what if the priestess insists on having
both the rooms enlarged?"
"The priestess in that case must do it for herself, Mrs. Grantly."
"I have no doubt she will be well able to do so," replied the lady;
"to do that and many more wonderful things. I am quite sure that the
priestess of St. Ewold, when she does come, won't come empty-handed."
Mr. Arabin, however, did not appear well inclined to enter into
speculative expenses on such a chance as this, and therefore any
material alterations in the house the cost of which could not fairly
be made to lie at the door either of the ecclesiastical commissioners
or of the estate of the late incumbent were tabooed. With this
essential exception, the archdeacon ordered, suggested, and carried
all points before him in a manner very much to his own satisfaction.
A close observer, had there been one there, might have seen that his
wife had been quite as useful in the matter as himself. No one knew
better than Mrs. Grantly the appurtenances necessary to a comfortable
house. She did not, however, think it necessary to lay claim to any
of the glory which her lord and master was so ready to appropriate as
Having gone through their work effectually and systematically, the
party returned to Plumstead well satisfied with their expedition.
The Thornes of Ullathorne
On the following Sunday Mr. Arabin was to read himself in at his new
church. It was agreed at the rectory that the archdeacon should go
over with him and assist at the reading desk and that Mr. Harding
should take the archdeacon's duty at Plumstead Church. Mrs. Grantly
had her school and her buns to attend to and professed that she could
not be spared, but Mrs. Bold was to accompany them. It was further
agreed also that they would lunch at the squire's house and return
home after the afternoon service.
Wilfred Thorne, Esq., of Ullathorne, was the squire of St. Ewold's--
or, rather, the squire of Ullathorne, for the domain of the modern
landlord was of wider notoriety than the fame of the ancient saint.
He was a fair specimen of what that race has come to in our days
which, a century ago, was, as we are told, fairly represented by
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