Part 7 out of 11
love her. And yet he could not lower himself by asking her pardon.
He had done her no wrong. He had not calumniated her, not injured
her, as she had accused him of doing. He could not confess sins of
which he had not been guilty. He could only let the past be past and
ask her as to her and his hopes for the future.
"I hope we are not to part as enemies?" said he.
"There shall be no enmity on my part," said Eleanor; "I endeavour to
avoid all enmities. It would be a hollow pretence were I to say that
there can be true friendship between us, after what has just passed.
People cannot make their friends of those whom they despise."
"And am I despised?"
"I must have been so before you could have spoken of me as you did.
And I was deceived, cruelly deceived. I believed that you thought
well of me; I believed that you esteemed me."
"Thought well of you and esteemed you!" said he. "In justifying
myself before you, I must use stronger words than those." He paused
for a moment, and Eleanor's heart beat with painful violence within
her bosom as she waited for him to go on. "I have esteemed, do
esteem you, as I never yet esteemed any woman. Think well of you!
I never thought to think so well, so much of any human creature.
Speak calumny of you! Insult you! Wilfully injure you! I wish it
were my privilege to shield you from calumny, insult, and injury.
Calumny! Ah me! 'Twere almost better that it were so. Better than
to worship with a sinful worship; sinful and vain also." And then he
walked along beside her, with his hands clasped behind his back,
looking down on the grass beneath his feet and utterly at a loss how
to express his meaning. And Eleanor walked beside him determined at
least to give him no assistance.
"Ah me!" he uttered at last, speaking rather to himself than to her.
"Ah me! These Plumstead walks were pleasant enough, if one could
have but heart's ease, but without that the dull, dead stones of
Oxford were far preferable--and St. Ewold's, too. Mrs. Bold, I am
beginning to think that I mistook myself when I came hither. A
Romish priest now would have escaped all this. Oh, Father of heaven,
how good for us would it be if thou couldest vouchsafe to us a
"And have we not a certain rule, Mr. Arabin?"
"Yes--yes, surely; 'Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from
evil.' But what is temptation? What is evil? Is this evil--is this
Poor Mr. Arabin! It would not come out of him, that deep, true love
of his. He could not bring himself to utter it in plain language
that would require and demand an answer. He knew not how to say to
the woman by his side, "Since the fact is that you do not love that
other man, that you are not to be his wife, can you love me, will you
be my wife?" These were the words which were in his heart, but with
all his sighs he could not draw them to his lips. He would have
given anything, everything for power to ask this simple question, but
glib as was his tongue in pulpits and on platforms, now he could not
find a word wherewith to express the plain wish of his heart.
And yet Eleanor understood him as thoroughly as though he had
declared his passion with all the elegant fluency of a practised
Lothario. With a woman's instinct, she followed every bend of his
mind as he spoke of the pleasantness of Plumstead and the stones of
Oxford, as he alluded to the safety of the Romish priest and the
hidden perils of temptation. She knew that it all meant love. She
knew that this man at her side, this accomplished scholar, this
practised orator, this great polemical combatant, was striving and
striving in vain to tell her that his heart was no longer his own.
She knew this and felt a sort of joy in knowing it, yet she would not
come to his aid. He had offended her deeply, had treated her
unworthily, the more unworthily seeing that he had learnt to love
her, and Eleanor could not bring herself to abandon her revenge. She
did not ask herself whether or no she would ultimately accept his
love. She did not even acknowledge to herself that she now perceived
it with pleasure. At the present moment it did not touch her heart;
it merely appeased her pride and flattered her vanity. Mr. Arabin
had dared to associate her name with that of Mr. Slope, and now her
spirit was soothed by finding that he would fain associate it with
his own. And so she walked on beside him, inhaling incense but
giving out no sweetness in return.
"Answer me this," said Mr. Arabin, stopping suddenly in his walk and
stepping forward so that he faced his companion. "Answer me this one
question. You do not love Mr. Slope? You do not intend to be his
Mr. Arabin certainly did not go the right way to win such a woman as
Eleanor Bold. Just as her wrath was evaporating, as it was
disappearing before the true warmth of his untold love, he rekindled
it by a most useless repetition of his original sin. Had he known
what he was about, he should never have mentioned Mr. Slope's name
before Eleanor Bold, till he had made her all his own. Then, and not
till then, he might have talked of Mr. Slope with as much triumph as
"I shall answer no such question," said she; "and what is more,
I must tell you that nothing can justify your asking it. Good
And so saying, she stepped proudly across the lawn and, passing
through the drawing-room window, joined her father and sister at
lunch in the dining-room. Half an hour afterwards she was in the
carriage, and so she left Plumstead without again seeing Mr. Arabin.
His walk was long and sad among the sombre trees that overshadowed
the churchyard. He left the archdeacon's grounds that he might
escape attention and sauntered among the green hillocks under which
lay at rest so many of the once loving swains and forgotten beauties
of Plumstead. To his ears Eleanor's last words sounded like a knell
never to be reversed. He could not comprehend that she might be
angry with him, indignant with him, remorseless with him, and yet
love him. He could not make up his mind whether or no Mr. Slope was
in truth a favoured rival. If not, why should she not have answered
Poor Mr. Arabin--untaught, illiterate, boorish, ignorant man! That
at forty years of age you should know so little of the workings of a
The Bishop's Library
And thus the pleasant party at Plumstead was broken up. It had been
a very pleasant party as long as they had all remained in good humour
with one another. Mrs. Grantly had felt her house to be gayer and
brighter than it had been for many a long day, and the archdeacon had
been aware that the month had passed pleasantly without attributing
the pleasure to any other special merits than those of his own
hospitality. Within three or four days of Eleanor's departure, Mr.
Harding had also returned, and Mr. Arabin had gone to Oxford to spend
one week there previous to his settling at the vicarage of St.
Ewold's. He had gone laden with many messages to Dr. Gwynne touching
the iniquity of the doings in Barchester palace and the peril in
which it was believed the hospital still stood in spite of the
assurances contained in Mr. Slope's inauspicious letter.
During Eleanor's drive into Barchester she had not much opportunity
of reflecting on Mr. Arabin. She had been constrained to divert her
mind both from his sins and his love by the necessity of conversing
with her sister and maintaining the appearance of parting with her on
good terms. When the carriage reached her own door, and while she
was in the act of giving her last kiss to her sister and nieces, Mary
Bold ran out and exclaimed:
"Oh, Eleanor, have you heard? Oh, Mrs. Grantly, have you heard what
has happened? The poor dean!"
"Good heavens!" said Mrs. Grantly. "What--what has happened?"
"This morning at nine he had a fit of apoplexy, and he has not spoken
since. I very much fear that by this time he is no more."
Mrs. Grantly had been very intimate with the dean, and was therefore
much shocked. Eleanor had not known him so well; nevertheless, she
was sufficiently acquainted with his person and manners to feel
startled and grieved also at the tidings she now received. "I will
go at once to the deanery," said Mrs. Grantly; "the archdeacon, I am
sure, will be there. If there is any news to send you, I will let
Thomas call before he leaves town." And so the carriage drove off,
leaving Eleanor and her baby with Mary Bold.
Mrs. Grantly had been quite right. The archdeacon was at the
deanery. He had come into Barchester that morning by himself, not
caring to intrude himself upon Eleanor, and he also immediately on
his arrival had heard of the dean's fit. There was, as we have
before said, a library or reading-room connecting the cathedral with
the dean's house. This was generally called the bishop's library,
because a certain bishop of Barchester was supposed to have added it
to the cathedral. It was built immediately over a portion of the
cloisters, and a flight of stairs descended from it into the room in
which the cathedral clergymen put their surplices on and off. As it
also opened directly into the dean's house, it was the passage
through which that dignitary usually went to his public devotions.
Who had or had not the right of entry into it, it might be difficult
to say, but the people of Barchester believed that it belonged to the
dean and the clergymen of Barchester believed that it belonged to the
On the morning in question most of the resident clergymen who
constituted the chapter, and some few others, were here assembled,
and among them as usual the archdeacon towered with high authority.
He had heard of the dean's fit before he was over the bridge which
led into the town and had at once come to the well-known clerical
trysting place. He had been there by eleven o'clock and had remained
ever since. From time to time the medical men who had been called in
came through from the deanery into the library, uttered little
bulletins, and then returned. There was, it appears, very little
hope of the old man's rallying, indeed no hope of anything like a
final recovery. The only question was whether he must die at once
speechless, unconscious, stricken to death by his first heavy fit, or
whether by due aid of medical skill he might not be so far brought
back to this world as to become conscious of his state and enabled to
address one prayer to his Maker before he was called to meet Him face
to face at the judgement seat.
Sir Omicron Pie had been sent for from London. That great man had
shown himself a wonderful adept at keeping life still moving within
an old man's heart in the case of good old Bishop Grantly, and it
might be reasonably expected that he would be equally successful with
a dean. In the meantime Dr. Fillgrave and Mr. Rerechild were doing
their best, and poor Miss Trefoil sat at the head of her father's
bed, longing, as in such cases daughters do long, to be allowed to do
something to show her love--if it were only to chafe his feet with
her hands, or wait in menial offices on those autocratic doctors--
anything so that now in the time of need she might be of use.
The archdeacon alone of the attendant clergy had been admitted for a
moment into the sick man's chamber. He had crept in with creaking
shoes, had said with smothered voice a word of consolation to the
sorrowing daughter, had looked on the distorted face of his old
friend with solemn but yet eager scrutinising eye, as though he said
in his heart "and so some day it will probably be with me," and then,
having whispered an unmeaning word or two to the doctors, had creaked
his way back again into the library.
"He'll never speak again, I fear," said the archdeacon as he
noiselessly closed the door, as though the unconscious dying man,
from whom all sense had fled, would have heard in his distant chamber
the spring of the lock which was now so carefully handled.
"Indeed! Indeed! Is he so bad?" said the meagre little prebendary,
turning over in his own mind all the probable candidates for the
deanery and wondering whether the archdeacon would think it worth his
while to accept it. "The fit must have been very violent."
'When a man over seventy has a stroke of apoplexy, it seldom comes
very lightly," said the burly chancellor.
"He was an excellent, sweet-tempered man," said one of the vicars
choral. "Heaven knows how we shall repair his loss."
"He was indeed," said a minor canon, "and a great blessing to all
those privileged to take a share in the services of our cathedral.
I suppose the government will appoint, Mr. Archdeacon. I trust we
may have no stranger."
"We will not talk about his successor," said the archdeacon, "while
there is yet hope."
"Oh, no, of course not," said the minor canon. "It would be
exceedingly indecorous; but--"
"I know of no man," said the meagre little prebendary, "who has
better interest with the present government than Mr. Slope."
"Mr. Slope," said two or three at once almost sotto voce. "Mr. Slope
Dean of Barchester!"
"Pooh!" exclaimed the burly chancellor.
"The bishop would do anything for him," said the little prebendary.
"And so would Mrs. Proudie," said the vicar choral.
"Pooh!" said the chancellor.
The archdeacon had almost turned pale at the idea. What if Mr. Slope
should become Dean of Barchester? To be sure there was no adequate
ground, indeed no ground at all, for presuming that such a
desecration could even be contemplated. But nevertheless it was on
the cards. Dr. Proudie had interest with the government, and the man
carried as it were Dr. Proudie in his pocket. How should they all
conduct themselves if Mr. Slope were to become Dean of Barchester?
The bare idea for a moment struck even Dr. Grantly dumb.
"It would certainly not be very pleasant for us to have Mr. Slope at
the deanery," said the little prebendary, chuckling inwardly at the
evident consternation which his surmise had created.
"About as pleasant and as probable as having you in the palace," said
"I should think such an appointment highly improbable," said the
minor canon, "and, moreover, extremely injudicious. Should not you,
"I should presume such a thing to be quite out of the question," said
the archdeacon, "but at the present moment I am thinking rather of
our poor friend who is lying so near us than of Mr. Slope."
"Of course, of course," said the vicar choral with a very solemn air;
"of course you are. So are we all. Poor Dr. Trefoil; the best of
"It's the most comfortable dean's residence in England," said a
second prebendary. "Fifteen acres in the grounds. It is better than
many of the bishops' palaces."
"And full two thousand a year," said the meagre doctor.
"It is cut down to £1,200," said the chancellor.
"No," said the second prebendary. "It is to be fifteen. A special
case was made."
"No such thing," said the chancellor.
"You'll find I'm right," said the prebendary.
"I'm sure I read it in the report," said the minor canon.
"Nonsense," said the chancellor. "They couldn't do it. There were
to be no exceptions but London and Durham."
"And Canterbury and York," said the vicar choral modestly.
"What do you say, Grantly?" said the meagre little doctor.
"Say about what?" said the archdeacon, who had been looking as though
he were thinking about his friend the dean but who had in reality
been thinking about Mr. Slope.
"What is the next dean to have, twelve or fifteen?"
"Twelve," said the archdeacon authoritatively, thereby putting an end
at once to all doubt and dispute among his subordinates as far as
that subject was concerned.
"Well, I certainly thought it was fifteen," said the minor canon.
"Pooh!" said the burly chancellor. At this moment the door opened
and in came Dr. Fillgrave.
"How is he?" "Is he conscious?" "Can he speak?" "I hope not dead?"
"No worse news, Doctor, I trust?" "I hope, I trust, something
better, Doctor?" said half a dozen voices all at once, each in a tone
of extremest anxiety. It was pleasant to see how popular the good
old dean was among his clergy.
"No change, gentlemen; not the slightest change. But a telegraphic
message has arrived--Sir Omicron Pie will be here by the 9.15 P.M.
train. If any man can do anything, Sir Omicron Pie will do it. But
all that skill can do has been done."
"We are sure of that, Dr. Fillgrave," said the archdeacon; "we are
quite sure of that. But yet you know--"
"Oh, quite right," said the doctor, "quite right--I should have done
just the same--I advised it at once. I said to Rerechild at once
that with such a life and such a man, Sir Omicron should be
summoned--of course I knew expense was nothing--so distinguished, you
know, and so popular. Nevertheless, all that human skill can do has
Just at this period Mrs. Grantly's carriage drove into the close, and
the archdeacon went down to confirm the news which she had heard
By the 9.15 P.M. train Sir Omicron Pie did arrive. And in the course
of the night a sort of consciousness returned to the poor old dean.
Whether this was due to Sir Omicron Pie is a question on which it may
be well not to offer an opinion. Dr. Fillgrave was very clear in his
own mind, but Sir Omicron himself is thought to have differed from
that learned doctor. At any rate Sir Omicron expressed an opinion
that the dean had yet some days to live.
For the eight or ten next days, accordingly, the poor dean remained
in the same state, half-conscious and half-comatose, and the
attendant clergy began to think that no new appointment would be
necessary for some few months to come.
A New Candidate for Ecclesiastical Honours
The dean's illness occasioned much mental turmoil in other places
besides the deanery and adjoining library, and the idea which
occurred to the meagre little prebendary about Mr. Slope did not
occur to him alone.
The bishop was sitting listlessly in his study when the news reached
him of the dean's illness. It was brought to him by Mr. Slope, who
of course was not the last person in Barchester to hear it. It was
also not slow in finding its way to Mrs. Proudie's ears. It may be
presumed that there was not just then much friendly intercourse
between these two rival claimants for his lordship's obedience.
Indeed, though living in the same house, they had not met since the
stormy interview between them in the bishop's study on the preceding
On that occasion Mrs. Proudie had been defeated. That the prestige
of continual victory should have been torn from her standards was a
subject of great sorrow to that militant lady, but, though defeated,
she was not overcome. She felt that she might yet recover her lost
ground, that she might yet hurl Mr. Slope down to the dust from which
she had picked him and force her sinning lord to sue for pardon in
sackcloth and ashes.
On that memorable day, memorable for his mutiny and rebellion against
her high behests, he had carried his way with a high hand and had
really begun to think it possible that the days of his slavery were
counted. He had begun to hope that he was now about to enter into a
free land, a land delicious with milk which he himself might quaff
and honey which would not tantalize him by being only honey to the
eye. When Mrs. Proudie banged the door as she left his room, he felt
himself every inch a bishop. To be sure, his spirit had been a
little cowed by his chaplain's subsequent lecture, but on the whole
he was highly pleased with himself, and he flattered himself that the
worst was over. Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute, he reflected,
and now that the first step had been so magnanimously taken, all the
rest would follow easily.
He met his wife as a matter of course at dinner, where little or
nothing was said that could ruffle the bishop's happiness. His
daughters and the servants were present and protected him.
He made one or two trifling remarks on the subject of his projected
visit to the archbishop, in order to show to all concerned that he
intended to have his own way; the very servants, perceiving the
change, transferred a little of their reverence from their mistress
to their master. All which the master perceived, and so also did the
mistress. But Mrs. Proudie bided her time.
After dinner he returned to his study, where Mr. Slope soon found
him, and there they had tea together and planned many things. For
some few minutes the bishop was really happy; but as the clock on the
chimney-piece warned him that the stilly hours of night were drawing
on, as he looked at his chamber candlestick and knew that he must use
it, his heart sank within him again. He was as a ghost, all whose
power of wandering free through these upper regions ceases at cock-
crow; or, rather, he was the opposite of the ghost, for till cock-
crow he must again be a serf. And would that be all? Could he trust
himself to come down to breakfast a free man in the morning?
He was nearly an hour later than usual when he betook himself to his
rest. Rest! What rest? However, he took a couple of glasses of
sherry and mounted the stairs. Far be it from us to follow him
thither. There are some things which no novelist, no historian,
should attempt; some few scenes in life's drama which even no poet
should dare to paint. Let that which passed between Dr. Proudie and
his wife on this night be understood to be among them.
He came down the following morning a sad and thoughtful man. He was
attenuated in appearance--one might almost say emaciated. I doubt
whether his now grizzled locks had not palpably become more grey than
on the preceding evening. At any rate he had aged materially. Years
do not make a man old gradually and at an even pace. Look through
the world and see if this is not so always, except in those rare
cases in which the human being lives and dies without joys and
without sorrows, like a vegetable. A man shall be possessed of
florid, youthful blooming health till, it matters not what
age--thirty; forty; fifty--then comes some nipping frost, some period
of agony, that robs the fibres of the body of their succulence, and
the hale and hearty man is counted among the old.
He came down and breakfasted alone; Mrs. Proudie, being indisposed,
took her coffee in her bedroom, and her daughters waited upon her
there. He ate his breakfast alone, and then, hardly knowing what he
did, he betook himself to his usual seat in his study. He tried to
solace himself with his coming visit to the archbishop. That effort
of his own free will at any rate remained to him as an enduring
triumph. But somehow, now that he had achieved it, he did not seem
to care so much about it. It was his ambition that had prompted him
to take his place at the archiepiscopal table, and his ambition was
now quite dead within him.
He was thus seated when Mr. Slope made his appearance, with
"My lord, the dean is dead."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed the bishop, startled out of his apathy by
an announcement so sad and so sudden.
"He is either dead or now dying. He has had an apoplectic fit, and I
am told that there is not the slightest hope; indeed, I do not doubt
that by this time he is no more."
Bells were rung, and servants were immediately sent to inquire. In
the course of the morning the bishop, leaning on his chaplains arm,
himself called at the deanery door. Mrs. Proudie sent to Miss
Trefoil all manner of offers of assistance. The Misses Proudie sent
also, and there was immense sympathy between the palace and the
deanery. The answer to all inquiries was unvaried. The dean was
just the same, and Sir Omicron Pie was expected down by the 9.15 P.M.
And then Mr. Slope began to meditate, as others also had done, as to
who might possibly be the new dean, and it occurred to him, as it had
also occurred to others, that it might be possible that he should be
the new dean himself. And then the question as to the twelve
hundred, or fifteen hundred, or two thousand ran in his mind, as it
had run through those of the other clergymen in the cathedral
Whether it might be two thousand, or fifteen, or twelve hundred, it
would in any case undoubtedly be a great thing for him, if he could
get it. The gratification to his ambition would be greater even than
that of his covetousness. How glorious to out-top the archdeacon in
his own cathedral city; to sit above prebendaries and canons and have
the cathedral pulpit and all the cathedral services altogether at his
But it might be easier to wish for this than to obtain it. Mr.
Slope, however, was not without some means of forwarding his views,
and he at any rate did not let the grass grow under his feet. In the
first place, he thought--and not vainly--that he could count upon
what assistance the bishop could give him. He immediately changed
his views with regard to his patron; he made up his mind that if he
became dean, he would hand his lordship back again to his wife's
vassalage; and he thought it possible that his lordship might not be
sorry to rid himself of one of his mentors. Mr. Slope had also taken
some steps towards making his name known to other men in power.
There was a certain chief-commissioner of national schools who at the
present moment was presumed to stand especially high in the good
graces of the government bigwigs, and with him Mr. Slope had
contrived to establish a sort of epistolary intimacy. He thought
that he might safely apply to Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin, and he felt
sure that if Sir Nicholas chose to exert himself, the promise of such
a piece of preferment would be had for the asking.
Then he also had the press at his bidding, or flattered himself that
he had so. The Daily Jupiter had taken his part in a very thorough
manner in those polemical contests of his with Mr. Arabin; he had on
more than one occasion absolutely had an interview with a gentleman
on the staff of that paper who, if not the editor, was as good as the
editor; and he had long been in the habit of writing telling letters
on all manner of ecclesiastical abuses, which he signed with his
initials, and sent to his editorial friend with private notes signed
in his own name. Indeed, he and Mr. Towers--such was the name of the
powerful gentleman of the press with whom he was connected--were
generally very amiable with each other. Mr. Slope's little
productions were always printed and occasionally commented upon, and
thus, in a small sort of way, he had become a literary celebrity.
This public life had great charms for him, though it certainly also
had its drawbacks. On one occasion, when speaking in the presence of
reporters, he had failed to uphold and praise and swear by that
special line of conduct which had been upheld and praised and sworn
by in The Jupiter, and then he had been much surprised and at the
moment not a little irritated to find himself lacerated most
unmercifully by his old ally. He was quizzed and bespattered and
made a fool of, just as though, or rather worse than if, he had been
a constant enemy instead of a constant friend. He had hitherto not
learnt that a man who aspires to be on the staff of The Jupiter must
surrender all individuality. But ultimately this little castigation
had broken no bones between him and his friend Mr. Towers. Mr. Slope
was one of those who understood the world too well to show himself
angry with such a potentate as The Jupiter. He had kissed the rod
that scourged him and now thought that he might fairly look for his
reward. He determined that he would at once let Mr. Towers know that
he was a candidate for the place which was about to become vacant.
More than one piece of preferment had lately been given away much in
accordance with advice tendered to the government in the columns of
But it was incumbent on Mr. Slope first to secure the bishop. He
specially felt that it behoved him to do this before the visit to the
archbishop was made. It was really quite providential that the dean
should have fallen ill just at the very nick of time. If Dr. Proudie
could be instigated to take the matter up warmly, he might manage a
good deal while staying at the archbishop's palace. Feeling this
very strongly, Mr. Slope determined to sound the bishop that very
afternoon. He was to start on the following morning to London, and
therefore not a moment could be lost with safety.
He went into the bishop's study about five o'clock and found him
still sitting alone. It might have been supposed that he had hardly
moved since the little excitement occasioned by his walk to the
dean's door. He still wore on his face that dull, dead look of half-
unconscious suffering. He was doing nothing, reading nothing,
thinking of nothing, but simply gazing on vacancy when Mr. Slope for
the second time that day entered his room.
"Well, Slope," said he somewhat impatiently, for, to tell the truth,
he was not anxious just at present to have much conversation with Mr.
"Your lordship will be sorry to hear that as yet the poor dean has
shown no sign of amendment."
"Oh--ah--hasn't he? Poor man! I'm sure I'm very sorry. I suppose
Sir Omicron has not arrived yet?"
"No, not till the 9.15 P.M. train."
"I wonder they didn't have a special. They say Dr. Trefoil is very
"Very rich, I believe," said Mr. Slope. "But the truth is, all the
doctors in London can do no good--no other good than to show that
every possible care has been taken. Poor Dr. Trefoil is not long for
this world, my lord."
"I suppose not--I suppose not."
"Oh, no; indeed, his best friends could not wish that he should
outlive such a shock, for his intellects cannot possibly survive it."
"Poor man! Poor man!" said the bishop.
"It will naturally be a matter of much moment to your lordship who is
to succeed him," said Mr. Slope. "It would be a great thing if you
could secure the appointment for some person of your own way of
thinking on important points. The party hostile to us are very
strong here in Barchester--much too strong."
"Yes, yes. If poor Dr. Trefoil is to go, it will be a great thing to
get a good man in his place."
"It will be everything to your lordship to get a man on whose co-
operation you can reckon. Only think what trouble we might have if
Dr. Grantly, or Dr. Hyandry, or any of that way of thinking were to
"It is not very probable that Lord ---- will give it to any of that
school; why should he?"
"No. Not probable; certainly not; but it's possible. Great interest
will probably be made. If I might venture to advise your lordship, I
would suggest that you should discuss the matter with his grace next
week. I have no doubt that your wishes, if made known and backed by
his grace, would be paramount with Lord ----."
"Well, I don't know that; Lord ---- has always been very kind to me,
very kind. But I am unwilling to interfere in such matters unless
asked. And indeed if asked, I don't know whom, at this moment, I
Mr. Slope, even Mr. Slope, felt at the present rather abashed. He
hardly knew how to frame his little request in language sufficiently
modest. He had recognized and acknowledged to himself the necessity
of shocking the bishop in the first instance by the temerity of his
application, and his difficulty was how best to remedy that by his
adroitness and eloquence. "I doubted myself," said he, "whether your
lordship would have anyone immediately in your eye, and it is on this
account that I venture to submit to you an idea that I have been
turning over in my own mind. If poor Dr. Trefoil must go, I really
do not see why, with your lordship's assistance, I should not hold
the preferment myself."
"You!" exclaimed the bishop in a manner that Mr. Slope could hardly
have considered complimentary.
The ice was now broken, and Mr. Slope became fluent enough. "I have
been thinking of looking for it. If your lordship will press the
matter on the archbishop, I do not doubt but I shall succeed. You
see I shall be the first to move, which is a great matter. Then I
can count upon assistance from the public press: my name is known, I
may say, somewhat favourably known, to that portion of the press
which is now most influential with the government; and I have friends
also in the government. But nevertheless it is to you, my lord, that
I look for assistance. It is from your hands that I would most
willingly receive the benefit. And, which should ever be the chief
consideration in such matters, you must know better than any other
person whatsoever what qualifications I possess."
The bishop sat for awhile dumbfounded. Mr. Slope Dean of Barchester!
The idea of such a transformation of character would never have
occurred to his own unaided intellect. At first he went on thinking
why, for what reasons, on what account, Mr. Slope should be Dean of
Barchester. But by degrees the direction of his thoughts changed,
and he began to think why, for what reasons, on what account, Mr.
Slope should not be Dean of Barchester. As far as he himself, the
bishop, was concerned, he could well spare the services of his
chaplain. That little idea of using Mr. Slope as a counterpoise to
his wife had well nigh evaporated. He had all but acknowledged the
futility of the scheme. If indeed he could have slept in his
chaplain's bedroom instead of his wife's, there might have been
something in it. But--. And thus as Mr. Slope was speaking, the
bishop began to recognize the idea that that gentleman might become
Dean of Barchester without impropriety--not moved, indeed, by Mr.
Slope's eloquence, for he did not follow the tenor of his speech, but
led thereto by his own cogitations.
"I need not say," continued Mr. Slope, "that it would be my chief
desire to act in all matters connected with the cathedral as far as
possible in accordance with your views. I know your lordship so well
(and I hope you know me well enough to have the same feelings) that I
am satisfied that my being in that position would add materially to
your own comfort and enable you to extend the sphere of your useful
influence. As I said before, it is most desirable that there should
be but one opinion among the dignitaries of the same diocese. I
doubt much whether I would accept such an appointment in any diocese
in which I should be constrained to differ much from the bishop. In
this case there would be a delightful uniformity of opinion."
Mr. Slope perfectly well perceived that the bishop did not follow a
word that he said, but nevertheless he went on talking. He knew it
was necessary that Dr. Proudie should recover from his surprise, and
he knew also that he must give him the opportunity of appearing to
have been persuaded by argument. So he went on and produced a
multitude of fitting reasons all tending to show that no one on earth
could make so good a Dean of Barchester as himself, that the
government and the public would assuredly coincide in desiring that
he, Mr. Slope, should be Dean of Barchester, but that for high
considerations of ecclesiastical polity it would be especially
desirable that this piece of preferment should be so bestowed through
the instrumentality of the bishop of the diocese.
"But I really don't know what I could do in the matter," said the
"If you would mention it to the archbishop; if you could tell his
grace that you consider such an appointment very desirable, that you
have it much at heart with a view to putting an end to schism in the
diocese; if you did this with your usual energy, you would probably
find no difficulty in inducing his grace to promise that he would
mention it to Lord ----. Of course you would let the archbishop know
that I am not looking for the preferment solely through his
intervention; that you do not exactly require him to ask it as a
favour; that you expect that I shall get it through other sources, as
is indeed the case; but that you are very anxious that his grace
should express his approval of such an arrangement to Lord ----."
It ended in the bishop promising to do as he was bid. Not that he so
promised without a stipulation. "About that hospital," he said in
the middle of the conference. "I was never so troubled in my life"--
which was about the truth. "You haven't spoken to Mr. Harding since
I saw you?"
Mr. Slope assured his patron that he had not.
"Ah well, then--I think upon the whole it will be better to let
Quiverful have it. It has been half-promised to him, and he has a
large family and is very poor. I think on the whole it will be
better to make out the nomination for Mr. Quiverful."
"But, my lord," said Mr. Slope, still thinking that he was bound to
make a fight for his own view on this matter and remembering that it
still behoved him to maintain his lately acquired supremacy over Mrs.
Proudie, lest he should fail in his views regarding the deanery,
"but, my lord, I am really much afraid--"
"Remember, Mr. Slope," said the bishop, "I can hold out no sort of
hope to you in this matter of succeeding poor Dr. Trefoil. I will
certainly speak to the archbishop, as you wish it, but I cannot
"Well, my lord," said Mr. Slope, fully understanding the bishop and
in his turn interrupting him, "perhaps your lordship is right about
Mr. Quiverful. I have no doubt I can easily arrange matters with Mr.
Harding, and I will make out the nomination for your signature as you
"Yes, Slope, I think that will be best; and you may be sure that any
little that I can do to forward your views shall be done."
And so they parted.
Mr. Slope had now much business on his hands. He had to make his
daily visit to the signora. This common prudence should have now
induced him to omit, but he was infatuated, and could not bring
himself to be commonly prudent. He determined therefore that he
would drink tea at the Stanhopes', and he determined also, or thought
that he determined, that having done so he would go thither no more.
He had also to arrange his matters with Mrs. Bold. He was of opinion
that Eleanor would grace the deanery as perfectly as she would the
chaplain's cottage, and he thought, moreover, that Eleanor's fortune
would excellently repair any dilapidations and curtailments in the
dean's stipend which might have been made by that ruthless
Touching Mrs. Bold his hopes now soared high. Mr. Slope was one of
that numerous multitude of swains who think that all is fair in love,
and he had accordingly not refrained from using the services of Mrs.
Bold's own maid. From her he had learnt much of what had taken place
at Plumstead--not exactly with truth, for "the own maid" had not been
able to divine the exact truth, but with some sort of similitude to
it. He had been told that the archdeacon and Mrs. Grantly and Mr.
Harding and Mr. Arabin had all quarrelled with "missus" for having
received a letter from Mr. Slope; that "missus" had positively
refused to give the letter up; that she had received from the
archdeacon the option of giving up either Mr. Slope and his letter,
or else the society of Plumstead Rectory; and that "missus" had
declared, with much indignation, that "she didn't care a straw for
the society of Plumstead Rectory" and that she wouldn't give up Mr.
Slope for any of them.
Considering the source from whence this came, it was not quite so
untrue as might have been expected. It showed pretty plainly what
had been the nature of the conversation in the servants' hall, and,
coupled as it was with the certainty of Eleanor's sudden return, it
appeared to Mr. Slope to be so far worthy of credit as to justify him
in thinking that the fair widow would in all human probability accept
All this work was therefore to be done. It was desirable, he
thought, that he should make his offer before it was known that
Mr. Quiverful was finally appointed to the hospital. In his letter
to Eleanor he had plainly declared that Mr. Harding was to have the
appointment. It would be very difficult to explain this away, and
were he to write another letter to Eleanor, telling the truth and
throwing the blame on the bishop, it would naturally injure him in
her estimation. He determined therefore to let that matter disclose
itself as it would and to lose no time in throwing himself at her
Then he had to solicit the assistance of Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin and
Mr. Towers, and he went directly from the bishop's presence to
compose his letters to those gentlemen. As Mr. Slope was esteemed an
adept at letter writing, they shall be given in full.
Private Palace, Barchester, Sept. 185-
MY DEAR SIR NICHOLAS,
I hope that the intercourse which has been between us will preclude
you from regarding my present application as an intrusion. You
cannot, I imagine, have yet heard that poor old Dr. Trefoil has been
seized with apoplexy. It is a subject of profound grief to everyone
in Barchester, for he has always been an excellent man--excellent as
a man and as a clergyman. He is, however, full of years, and his
life could not under any circumstances have been much longer spared.
You may probably have known him.
There is, it appears, no probable chance of his recovery. Sir
Omicron Pie is, I believe, at present with him. At any rate the
medical men here have declared that one or two days more must limit
the tether of his mortal coil. I sincerely trust that his soul may
wing its flight to that haven where it may forever be at rest and
forever be happy.
The bishop has been speaking to me about the preferment, and he is
anxious that it should be conferred on me. I confess that I can
hardly venture, at my age, to look for such advancement, but I am so
far encouraged by his lordship that I believe I shall be induced to
do so. His lordship goes to ---- to-morrow and is intent on
mentioning the subject to the archbishop.
I know well how deservedly great is your weight with the present
government. In any matter touching church preferment you would of
course be listened to. Now that the matter has been put into my
head, I am of course anxious to be successful. If you can assist me
by your good word, you will confer on me one additional favour.
I had better add, that Lord ---- cannot as yet know of this piece of
preferment having fallen in, or rather of its certainty of falling
(for poor dear Dr. Trefoil is past hope). Should Lord ---- first
hear it from you, that might probably be thought to give you a fair
claim to express your opinion.
Of course our grand object is that we should all be of one opinion in
church matters. This is most desirable at Barchester; it is this
that makes our good bishop so anxious about it. You may probably
think it expedient to point this out to Lord ---- if it shall be in
your power to oblige me by mentioning the subject to his lordship.
My dear Sir Nicholas,
Your most faithful servant,
His letter to Mr. Towers was written in quite a different strain.
Mr. Slope conceived that he completely understood the difference in
character and position of the two men whom he addressed. He knew
that for such a man as Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin a little flummery was
necessary, and that it might be of the easy, everyday description.
Accordingly his letter to Sir Nicholas was written, currente calamo,
with very little trouble. But to such a man as Mr. Towers it was not
so easy to write a letter that should be effective and yet not
offensive, that should carry its point without undue interference.
It was not difficult to flatter Dr. Proudie or Sir Nicholas
Fitzwhiggin, but very difficult to flatter Mr. Towers without letting
the flattery declare itself. This, however, had to be done.
Moreover, this letter must, in appearance at least, be written
without effort and be fluent, unconstrained, and demonstrative of no
doubt or fear on the part of the writer. Therefore the epistle to
Mr, Towers was studied, and re-copied, and elaborated at the cost of
so many minutes that Mr. Slope had hardly time to dress himself and
reach Dr. Stanhope's that evening.
When dispatched, it ran as follows:
(Private.) Barchester. Sept. 185-
(He purposely omitted any allusion to the "palace," thinking that Mr.
Towers might not like it. A great man, he remembered, had been once
much condemned for dating a letter from Windsor Castle.)
MY DEAR SIR,
We were all a good deal shocked here this morning by hearing that
poor old Dean Trefoil had been stricken with apoplexy. The fit took
him about 9 A.M. I am writing now to save the post, and he is still
alive but past all hope or possibility, I believe, of living. Sir
Omicron Pie is here, or will be very shortly, but all that even Sir
Omicron can do is to ratify the sentence of his less distinguished
brethren that nothing can be done. Poor Dr. Trefoil's race on this
side the grave is run. I do not know whether you knew him. He was a
good, quiet, charitable man, of the old school, of course, as any
clergyman over seventy years of age must necessarily be.
But I do not write merely with the object of sending you such news as
this: doubtless someone of your Mercuries will have seen and heard
and reported so much; I write, as you usually do yourself, rather
with a view to the future than to the past.
Rumour is already rife here as to Dr. Trefoil's successor, and among
those named as possible future deans your humble servant is, I
believe, not the least frequently spoken of; in short, I am looking
for the preferment. You may probably know that since Bishop Proudie
came to the diocese I have exerted myself here a good deal and, I may
certainly say, not without some success. He and I are nearly always
of the same opinion on points of doctrine as well as church
discipline, and therefore I have had, as his confidential chaplain,
very much in my own hands; but I confess to you that I have a higher
ambition than to remain the chaplain of any bishop.
There are no positions in which more energy is now needed than those
of our deans. The whole of our enormous cathedral establishments
have been allowed to go to sleep--nay, they are all but dead and
ready for the sepulchre! And yet of what prodigious moment they
might be made if, as was intended, they were so managed as to lead
the way and show an example for all our parochial clergy!
The bishop here is most anxious for my success; indeed, he goes
to-morrow to press the matter on the archbishop. I believe also I
may count on the support of at least one most effective member of the
government. But I confess that the support of The Jupiter, if I be
thought worthy of it, would be more gratifying to me than any other;
more gratifying if by it I should be successful, and more gratifying
also if, although so supported, I should be unsuccessful.
The time has, in fact, come in which no government can venture to
fill up the high places of the Church in defiance of the public
press. The age of honourable bishops and noble deans has gone by,
and any clergyman however humbly born can now hope for success if his
industry, talent, and character be sufficient to call forth the
manifest opinion of the public in his favour.
At the present moment we all feel that any counsel given in such
matters by The Jupiter has the greatest weight--is, indeed, generally
followed; and we feel also--I am speaking of clergymen of my own age
and standing--that it should be so. There can be no patron less
interested than The Jupiter, and none that more thoroughly
understands the wants of the people.
I am sure you will not suspect me of asking from you any support
which the paper with which you are connected cannot conscientiously
give me. My object in writing is to let you know that I am a
candidate for the appointment. It is for you to judge whether or no
you can assist my views. I should not, of course, have written to
you on such a matter had I not believed (and I have had good reason
so to believe) that The Jupiter approves of my views on
The bishop expresses a fear that I may be considered too young for
such a station, my age being thirty-six. I cannot think that at the
present day any hesitation need be felt on such a point. The public
has lost its love for antiquated servants. If a man will ever be fit
to do good work, he will be fit at thirty-six years of age.
Believe me very faithfully yours,
T. TOWERS, ESQ.,
Having thus exerted himself, Mr. Slope posted his letters and passed
the remainder of the evening at the feet of his mistress.
Mr. Slope will be accused of deceit in his mode of canvassing. It
will be said that he lied in the application he made to each of his
three patrons. I believe it must be owned that he did so. He could
not hesitate on account of his youth and yet be quite assured that he
was not too young. He could not count chiefly on the bishop's
support and chiefly also on that of the newspaper. He did not think
that the bishop was going to ---- to press the matter on the
archbishop. It must be owned that in his canvassing Mr. Slope was as
false as he well could be.
Let it, however, be asked of those who are conversant with such
matters, whether he was more false than men usually are on such
occasions. We English gentlemen hate the name of a lie, but how
often do we find public men who believe each other's words?
Mrs. Proudie Victrix
The next week passed over at Barchester with much apparent
tranquillity. The hearts, however, of some of the inhabitants were
not so tranquil as the streets of the city. The poor old dean still
continued to live, just as Sir Omicron Pie had prophesied that he
would do, much to the amazement, and some thought disgust, of Dr.
Fillgrave. The bishop still remained away. He had stayed a day or
two in town and had also remained longer at the archbishop's than he
had intended. Mr. Slope had as yet received no line in answer to
either of his letters, but he had learnt the cause of this. Sir
Nicholas was stalking a deer, or attending the Queen, in the
Highlands, and even the indefatigable Mr. Towers had stolen an autumn
holiday and had made one of the yearly tribe who now ascend Mont
Blanc. Mr. Slope learnt that he was not expected back till the last
day of September.
Mrs. Bold was thrown much with the Stanhopes, of whom she became
fonder and fonder. If asked, she would have said that Charlotte
Stanhope was her especial friend, and so she would have thought.
But, to tell the truth, she liked Bertie nearly as well; she had no
more idea of regarding him as a lover than she would have had of
looking at a big tame dog in such a light. Bertie had become very
intimate with her, and made little speeches to her, and said little
things of a sort very different from the speeches and sayings of
other men. But then this was almost always done before his sisters,
and he, with his long silken beard, his light blue eyes, and strange
dress, was so unlike other men. She admitted him to a kind of
familiarity which she had never known with anyone else and of which
she by no means understood the danger. She blushed once at finding
that she had called him Bertie and, on the same day, only barely
remembered her position in time to check herself from playing upon
him some personal practical joke to which she was instigated by
In all this Eleanor was perfectly innocent, and Bertie Stanhope could
hardly be called guilty. But every familiarity into which Eleanor
was entrapped was deliberately planned by his sister. She knew well
how to play her game and played it without mercy; she knew, none so
well, what was her brother's character, and she would have handed
over to him the young widow, and the young widow's money, and the
money of the widow's child, without remorse. With her pretended
friendship and warm cordiality, she strove to connect Eleanor so
closely with her brother as to make it impossible that she should go
back even if she wished it. But Charlotte Stanhope knew really
nothing of Eleanor's character, did not even understand that there
were such characters. She did not comprehend that a young and pretty
woman could be playful and familiar with a man such as Bertie
Stanhope and yet have no idea in her head, no feeling in her heart,
that she would have been ashamed to own to all the world. Charlotte
Stanhope did not in the least conceive that her new friend was a
woman whom nothing could entrap into an inconsiderate marriage, whose
mind would have revolted from the slightest impropriety had she been
aware that any impropriety existed.
Miss Stanhope, however, had tact enough to make herself and her
father's house very agreeable to Mrs. Bold. There was with them all
an absence of stiffness and formality which was peculiarly agreeable
to Eleanor after the great dose of clerical arrogance which she had
lately been constrained to take. She played chess with them, walked
with them, and drank tea with them; studied or pretended to study
astronomy; assisted them in writing stories in rhyme, in turning
prose tragedy into comic verse, or comic stories into would-be tragic
poetry. She had no idea before that she had any such talents. She
had not conceived the possibility of her doing such things as she now
did. She found with the Stanhopes new amusements and employments,
new pursuits, which in themselves could not be wrong and which were
Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so
often be exceedingly improper, and that those who are never improper
should so often be dull and heavy? Now Charlotte Stanhope was always
bright and never heavy, but then her propriety was doubtful.
But during all this time Eleanor by no means forgot Mr. Arabin, nor
did she forget Mr. Slope. She had parted from Mr. Arabin in her
anger. She was still angry at what she regarded as his impertinent
interference, but nevertheless she looked forward to meeting him
again and also looked forward to forgiving him. The words that Mr.
Arabin had uttered still sounded in her ears. She knew that if not
intended for a declaration of love, they did signify that he loved
her, and she felt also that if he ever did make such a declaration,
it might be that she should not receive it unkindly. She was still
angry with him, very angry with him; so angry that she would bite her
lip and stamp her foot as she thought of what he had said and done.
Nevertheless, she yearned to let him know that he was forgiven; all
that she required was that he should own that he had sinned.
She was to meet him at Ullathorne on the last day of the present
month. Miss Thorne had invited all the country round to a breakfast
on the lawn. There were to be tents, and archery, and dancing for
the ladies on the lawn and for the swains and girls in the paddock.
There were to be fiddlers and fifers, races for the boys, poles to be
climbed, ditches full of water to be jumped over, horse-collars to be
grinned through (this latter amusement was an addition of the
stewards, and not arranged by Miss Thorne in the original programme),
and every game to be played which, in a long course of reading, Miss
Thorne could ascertain to have been played in the good days of Queen
Elizabeth. Everything of more modern growth was to be tabooed, if
possible. On one subject Miss Thorne was very unhappy. She had been
turning in her mind the matter of a bull-ring, but could not succeed
in making anything of it. She would not for the world have done, or
allowed to be done, anything that was cruel; as to the promoting the
torture of a bull for the amusement of her young neighbours, it need
hardly be said that Miss Thorne would be the last to think of it.
And yet there was something so charming in the name. A bull-ring,
however, without a bull would only be a memento of the decadence of
the times, and she felt herself constrained to abandon the idea.
Quintains, however, she was determined to have, and had poles and
swivels and bags of flour prepared accordingly. She would no doubt
have been anxious for something small in the way of a tournament,
but, as she said to her brother, that had been tried, and the age had
proved itself too decidedly inferior to its forerunners to admit of
such a pastime. Mr. Thorne did not seem to participate much in her
regret, feeling perhaps that a full suit of chain-armour would have
added but little to his own personal comfort.
This party at Ullathorne had been planned in the first place as a
sort of welcoming to Mr. Arabin on his entrance into St. Ewold's
parsonage; an intended harvest-home gala for the labourers and their
wives and children had subsequently been amalgamated with it, and
thus it had grown to its present dimensions. All the Plumstead party
had of course been asked, and at the time of the invitation Eleanor
had intended to have gone with her sister. Now her plans were
altered, and she was going with the Stanhopes. The Proudies were
also to be there, and, as Mr. Slope had not been included in the
invitation to the palace, the signora, whose impudence never deserted
her, asked permission of Miss Thorne to bring him.
This permission Miss Thorne gave, having no other alternative, but
she did so with a trembling heart, fearing Mr. Arabin would be
offended. Immediately on his return she apologized, almost with
tears, so dire an enmity was presumed to rage between the two
gentlemen. But Mr. Arabin comforted her by an assurance that he
should meet Mr. Slope with the greatest pleasure imaginable and made
her promise that she would introduce them to each other.
But this triumph of Mr. Slope's was not so agreeable to Eleanor, who
since her return to Barchester had done her best to avoid him. She
would not give way to the Plumstead folk when they so ungenerously
accused her of being in love with this odious man, but, nevertheless,
knowing that she was so accused, she was fully alive to the
expediency of keeping out of his way and dropping him by degrees.
She had seen very little of him since her return. Her servant had
been instructed to say to all visitors that she was out. She could
not bring herself to specify Mr. Slope particularly, and in order to
avoid him she had thus debarred herself from all her friends. She
had excepted Charlotte Stanhope and, by degrees, a few others also.
Once she had met him at the Stanhopes', but as a rule, Mr. Slope's
visits there were made in the morning and hers in the evening. On
that one occasion Charlotte had managed to preserve her from any
annoyance. This was very good-natured on the part of Charlotte, as
Eleanor thought, and also very sharp-witted, as Eleanor had told her
friend nothing of her reasons for wishing to avoid that gentleman.
The fact, however, was that Charlotte had learnt from her sister that
Mr. Slope would probably put himself forward as a suitor for the
widow's hand, and she was consequently sufficiently alive to the
expediency of guarding Bertie's future wife from any danger in that
Nevertheless the Stanhopes were pledged to take Mr. Slope with them
to Ullathorne. An arrangement was therefore necessarily made, which
was very disagreeable to Eleanor. Dr. Stanhope, with herself,
Charlotte, and Mr. Slope, were to go together, and Bertie was to
follow with his sister Madeline. It was clearly visible by Eleanor's
face that this assortment was very disagreeable to her, and
Charlotte, who was much encouraged thereby in her own little plan,
made a thousand apologies.
"I see you don't like it, my dear," said she, "but we could not
manage otherwise. Bertie would give his eyes to go with you, but
Madeline cannot possibly go without him. Nor could we possibly put
Mr. Slope and Madeline in the same carriage without anyone else.
They'd both be ruined forever, you know, and not admitted inside
Ullathorne gates, I should imagine, after such an impropriety."
"Of course that wouldn't do," said Eleanor, "but couldn't I go in the
carriage with the signora and your brother?"
"Impossible!" said Charlotte. "When she is there, there is only room
for two." The Signora, in truth, did not care to do her travelling in
the presence of strangers.
"Well, then," said Eleanor, "you are all so kind, Charlotte, and so
good to me that I am sure you won't be offended, but I think I'll not
go at all."
"Not go at all!--what nonsense!--indeed you shall." It had been
absolutely determined in family counsel that Bertie should propose on
that very occasion.
"Or I can take a fly," said Eleanor. "You know I am not embarrassed
by so many difficulties as you young ladies; I can go alone."
"Nonsense, my dear! Don't think of such a thing; after all, it is
only for an hour or so; and, to tell the truth, I don't know what it
is you dislike so. I thought you and Mr. Slope were great friends.
What is it you dislike?"
"Oh, nothing particular," said Eleanor; "only I thought it would be a
"Of course it would be much nicer, much more snug, if Bertie could go
with us. It is he that is badly treated. I can assure you he is
much more afraid of Mr. Slope than you are. But you see Madeline
cannot go out without him--and she, poor creature, goes out so
seldom! I am sure you don't begrudge her this, though her vagary
does knock about our own party a little."
Of course Eleanor made a thousand protestations and uttered a
thousand hopes that Madeline would enjoy herself. And of course she
had to give way and undertake to go in the carriage with Mr. Slope.
In fact, she was driven either to do this or to explain why she would
not do so. Now she could not bring herself to explain to Charlotte
Stanhope all that had passed at Plumstead.
But it was to her a sore necessity. She thought of a thousand little
schemes for avoiding it; she would plead illness and not go at all;
she would persuade Mary Bold to go, although not asked, and then make
a necessity of having a carriage of her own to take her sister-in-
law; anything, in fact, she could do, rather than be seen by Mr.
Arabin getting out of the same carriage with Mr. Slope. However,
when the momentous morning came, she had no scheme matured, and then
Mr. Slope handed her into Dr. Stanhope's carriage and, following her
steps, sat opposite to her.
The bishop returned on the eve of the Ullathorne party, and was
received at home with radiant smiles by the partner of all his cares.
On his arrival he crept up to his dressing-room with somewhat of a
palpitating heart; he had overstayed his alloted time by three days,
and was not without much fear of penalties. Nothing, however, could
be more affectionately cordial than the greeting he received; the
girls came out and kissed him in a manner that was quite soothing to
his spirit; and Mrs. Proudie, "albeit, unused to the melting mood,"
squeezed him in her arms and almost in words called him her dear,
darling, good, pet, little bishop. All this was a very pleasant
Mrs. Proudie had somewhat changed her tactics; not that she had seen
any cause to disapprove of her former line of conduct, but she had
now brought matters to such a point that she calculated that she
might safely do so. She had got the better of Mr. Slope, and she now
thought well to show her husband that when allowed to get the better
of everybody, when obeyed by him and permitted to rule over others,
she would take care that he should have his reward. Mr. Slope had
not a chance against her; not only could she stun the poor bishop by
her midnight anger, but she could assuage and soothe him, if she so
willed, by daily indulgences. She could furnish his room for him,
turn him out as smart a bishop as any on the bench, give him good
dinners, warm fires, and an easy life--all this she would do if he
would but be quietly obedient. But, if not,--! To speak sooth,
however, his sufferings on that dreadful night had been so poignant
as to leave him little spirit for further rebellion.
As soon as he had dressed himself, she returned to his room. "I hope
you enjoyed yourself at ----," said she, seating herself on one side
of the fire while he remained in his armchair on the other, stroking
the calves of his legs. It was the first time he had had a fire in
his room since the summer, and it pleased him, for the good bishop
loved to be warm and cosy. Yes, he said, he had enjoyed himself very
much. Nothing could be more polite than the archbishop, and Mrs.
Archbishop had been equally charming.
Mrs. Proudie was delighted to hear it; nothing, she declared, pleased
her so much as to think
Her bairn respectit like the lave.
She did not put it precisely in these words, but what she said came
to the same thing; and then, having petted and fondled her little man
sufficiently, she proceeded to business.
"The poor dean is still alive," said she.
"So I hear, so I hear," said the bishop. "I'll go to the deanery
directly after breakfast to-morrow."
"We are going to this party at Ullathorne tomorrow morning, my dear;
we must be there early, you know--by twelve o'clock I suppose."
"Oh--ah!" said the bishop; "then I'll certainly call the next day."
"Was much said about it at ----?" asked Mrs. Proudie.
"About what?" said the bishop.
"Filling up the dean's place," said Mrs. Proudie. As she spoke, a
spark of the wonted fire returned to her eye, and the bishop felt
himself to be a little less comfortable than before.
"Filling up the dean's place; that is, if the dean dies? Very
little, my dear. It was mentioned, just mentioned."
"And what did you say about it, Bishop?"
"Why, I said that I thought that if, that is, should--should the dean
die, that is, I said I thought--" As he went on stammering and
floundering, he saw that his wife's eye was fixed sternly on him.
Why should he encounter such evil for a man whom he loved so slightly
as Mr. Slope? Why should he give up his enjoyments and his ease and
such dignity as might be allowed to him to fight a losing battle for
a chaplain? The chaplain, after all, if successful, would be as
great a tyrant as his wife. Why fight at all? Why contend? Why be
uneasy? From that moment he determined to fling Mr. Slope to the
winds and take the goods the gods provided.
"I am told," said Mrs. Proudie, speaking very slowly, "that Mr. Slope
is looking to be the new dean."
"Yes--certainly, I believe he is," said the bishop.
"And what does the archbishop say about that?" asked Mrs. Proudie.
"Well, my dear, to tell the truth, I promised Mr. Slope to speak to
the archbishop. Mr. Slope spoke to me about it. It is very arrogant
of him, I must say--but that is nothing to me."
"Arrogant!" said Mrs. Proudie; "it is the most impudent piece of
pretension I ever heard of in my life. Mr. Slope Dean of Barchester,
indeed! And what did you do in the matter, Bishop?"
"Why, my dear, I did speak to the archbishop."
"You don't mean to tell me," said Mrs. Proudie, "that you are going
to make yourself ridiculous by lending your name to such a
preposterous attempt as this? Mr. Slope Dean of Barchester, indeed!"
And she tossed her head and put her arms akimbo with an air of
confident defiance that made her husband quite sure that Mr. Slope
never would be Dean of Barchester. In truth, Mrs. Proudie was all
but invincible; had she married Petruchio, it may be doubted whether
that arch wife-tamer would have been able to keep her legs out of
those garments which are presumed by men to be peculiarly unfitted
for feminine use.
"It is preposterous, my dear."
"Then why have you endeavoured to assist him?"
"Why--my dear, I haven't assisted him--much."
"But why have you done it at all? Why have you mixed your name up in
anything so ridiculous? What was it you did say to the archbishop?"
"Why, I just did mention it; I just did say that--that in the event
of the poor dean's death, Mr. Slope would--would--"
"I forget how I put it--would take it if he could get it, something
of that sort. I didn't say much more than that."
"You shouldn't have said anything at all. And what did the
"He didn't say anything; he just bowed and rubbed his hands.
Somebody else came up at the moment, and as we were discussing the
new parochial universal school committee, the matter of the new dean
dropped; after that I didn't think it wise to renew it."
"Renew it! I am very sorry you ever mentioned it. What will the
archbishop think of you?"
"You may be sure, my dear, the archbishop thought very little about
"But why did you think about it, Bishop? How could you think of
making such a creature as that Dean of Barchester? Dean of
Barchester! I suppose he'll be looking for a bishopric some of these
days--a man that hardly knows who his own father was; a man that I
found without bread to his mouth or a coat to his back. Dean of
Barchester, indeed! I'll dean him."
Mrs. Proudie considered herself to be in politics a pure Whig; all
her family belonged to the Whig party. Now, among all ranks of
Englishmen and Englishwomen (Mrs. Proudie should, I think, be ranked
among the former on the score of her great strength of mind), no one
is so hostile to lowly born pretenders to high station as the pure
The bishop thought it necessary to exculpate himself. "Why, my
dear," said he, "it appeared to me that you and Mr. Slope did not get
on quite so well as you used to do!"
"Get on!" said Mrs. Proudie, moving her foot uneasily on the hearth-
rug and compressing her lips in a manner that betokened much danger
to the subject of their discourse.
"I began to find that he was objectionable to you"--Mrs. Proudie's
foot worked on the hearth-rug with great rapidity--"and that you
would be more comfortable if he was out of the palace"--Mrs. Proudie
smiled, as a hyena may probably smile before he begins his laugh--
"and therefore I thought that if he got this place, and so ceased to
be my chaplain, you might be pleased at such an arrangement."
And then the hyena laughed out. Pleased at such an arrangement!
Pleased at having her enemy converted into a dean with twelve hundred
a year! Medea, when she describes the customs of her native country
(I am quoting from Robson's edition), assures her astonished auditor
that in her land captives, when taken, are eaten.
"You pardon them?" says Medea.
"We do indeed," says the mild Grecian.
"We eat them!" says she of Colchis, with terrific energy.
Mrs. Proudie was the Medea of Barchester; she had no idea of not
eating Mr. Slope. Pardon him! Merely get rid of him! Make a dean
of him! It was not so they did with their captives in her country,
among people of her sort! Mr. Slope had no such mercy to expect; she
would pick him to the very last bone.
"Oh, yes, my dear, of course he'll cease to be your chaplain," said
she. "After what has passed, that must be a matter of course. I
couldn't for a moment think of living in the same house with such a
man. Besides, he has shown himself quite unfit for such a situation;
making broils and quarrels among the clergy; getting you, my dear,
into scrapes; and taking upon himself as though he were as good as
bishop himself. Of course he'll go. But because he leaves the
palace, that is no reason why he should get into the deanery."
"Oh, of course not!" said the bishop; "but to save appearances, you
know, my dear--"
"I don't want to save appearances; I want Mr. Slope to appear just
what he is--a false, designing, mean, intriguing man. I have my eye
on him; he little knows what I see. He is misconducting himself in
the most disgraceful way with that lame Italian woman. That family
is a disgrace to Barchester, and Mr. Slope is a disgrace to
Barchester. If he doesn't look well to it, he'll have his gown
stripped off his back instead of having a dean's hat on his head.
Dean, indeed! The man has gone mad with arrogance."
The bishop said nothing further to excuse either himself or his
chaplain, and having shown himself passive and docile, was again
taken into favour. They soon went to dinner, and he spent the
pleasantest evening he had had in his own house for a long time. His
daughter played and sang to him as he sipped his coffee and read his
newspaper, and Mrs. Proudie asked good-natured little questions about
the archbishop; and then he went happily to bed and slept as quietly
as though Mrs. Proudie had been Griselda herself. While shaving
himself in the morning and preparing for the festivities of
Ullathorne, he fully resolved to run no more tilts against a warrior
so fully armed at all points as was Mrs. Proudie.
Oxford--The Master and Tutor of Lazarus
Mr. Arabin, as we have said, had but a sad walk of it under the trees
of Plumstead churchyard. He did not appear to any of the family till
dinner-time, and then he seemed, as far as their judgement went, to
be quite himself. He had, as was his wont, asked himself a great
many questions and given himself a great many answers, and the upshot
of this was that he had sent himself down for an ass. He had
determined that he was much too old and much too rusty to commence
the manoeuvres of love-making; that he had let the time slip through
his hands which should have been used for such purposes; and that now
he must lie on his bed as he had made it. Then he asked himself
whether in truth he did love this woman, and he answered himself, not
without a long struggle, but at last honestly, that he certainly did
love her. He then asked himself whether he did not also love her
money, and he again answered himself that he did so. But here he did
not answer honestly. It was and ever had been his weakness to look
for impure motives for his own conduct. No doubt, circumstanced as
he was, with a small living and a fellowship, accustomed as he had
been to collegiate luxuries and expensive comforts, he might have
hesitated to marry a penniless woman had he felt ever so strong a
predilection for the woman herself; no doubt Eleanor's fortune put
all such difficulties out of the question; but it was equally without
doubt that his love for her had crept upon him without the slightest
idea on his part that he could ever benefit his own condition by
sharing her wealth.
When he had stood on the hearth-rug, counting the pattern and
counting also the future chances of his own life, the remembrances of
Mrs. Bold's comfortable income had certainly not damped his first
assured feeling of love for her. And why should it have done so?
Need it have done so with the purest of men? Be that as it may, Mr.
Arabin decided against himself, he decided that it had done so in his
case and that he was not the purest of men.
He also decided, which was more to his purpose, that Eleanor did not
care a straw for him and that very probably she did care a straw for
his rival. Then he made up his mind not to think of her any more,
and went on thinking of her till he was almost in a state to drown
himself in the little brook which ran at the bottom of the
And ever and again his mind would revert to the Signora Neroni, and
he would make comparisons between her and Eleanor Bold, not always in
favour of the latter. The signora had listened to him, and flattered
him, and believed in him; at least she had told him so. Mrs. Bold
had also listened to him, but had never flattered him; had not always
believed in him; and now had broken from him in violent rage. The
signora, too, was the more lovely woman of the two, and had also the
additional attraction of her affliction--for to him it was an
But he never could have loved the Signora Neroni as he felt that he
now loved Eleanor, and so he flung stones into the brook, instead of
flinging in himself, and sat down on its margin as sad a gentleman as
you shall meet in a summer's day.
He heard the dinner-bell ring from the churchyard, and he knew that
it was time to recover his self-possession. He felt that he was
disgracing himself in his own eyes, that he had been idling his time
and neglecting the high duties which he had taken upon himself to
perform. He should have spent this afternoon among the poor at St.
Ewold's, instead of wandering about at Plumstead, an ancient, love-
lorn swain, dejected and sighing, full of imaginary sorrows and
Wertherian grief. He was thoroughly ashamed of himself, and
determined to lose no time in retrieving his character, so damaged in
his own eyes.
Thus when he appeared at dinner he was as animated as ever and was
the author of most of the conversation which graced the archdeacon's
board on that evening. Mr. Harding was ill at ease and sick at heart
and did not care to appear more comfortable than he really was; what
little he did say was said to his daughter. He thought that the
archdeacon and Mr. Arabin had leagued together against Eleanor's
comfort, and his wish now was to break away from the pair and undergo
in his Barchester lodgings whatever Fate had in store for him. He
hated the name of the hospital; his attempt to regain his lost
inheritance there had brought upon him so much suffering. As far as
he was concerned, Mr. Quiverful was now welcome to the place.
And the archdeacon was not very lively. The poor dean's illness was
of course discussed in the first place. Dr. Grantly did not mention
Mr. Slope's name in connexion with the expected event of Dr.
Trefoil's death; he did not wish to say anything about Mr. Slope just
at present, nor did he wish to make known his sad surmises; but the
idea that his enemy might possibly become Dean of Barchester made him
very gloomy. Should such an event take place, such a dire
catastrophe come about, there would be an end to his life as far as
his life was connected with the city of Barchester. He must give up
all his old haunts, all his old habits, and live quietly as a retired
rector at Plumstead. It had been a severe trial for him to have Dr.
Proudie in the palace, but with Mr. Slope also in the deanery he felt
that he should be unable to draw his breath in Barchester close.
Thus it came to pass that in spite of the sorrow at his heart, Mr.
Arabin was apparently the gayest of the party. Both Mr. Harding and
Mrs. Grantly were in a slight degree angry with him on account of his
want of gloom. To the one it appeared as though he were triumphing
at Eleanor's banishment, and to the other that he was not affected as
he should have been by all the sad circumstances of the day--
Eleanor's obstinacy, Mr. Slope's success, and the poor dean's
apoplexy. And so they were all at cross-purposes.
Mr. Harding left the room almost together with the ladies, and then
the archdeacon opened his heart to Mr. Arabin. He still harped upon
the hospital. "What did that fellow mean," said he, "by saying in
his letter to Mrs. Bold that if Mr. Harding would call on the bishop,
it would be all right? Of course I would not be guided by anything
he might say, but still it may be well that Mr. Harding should see
the bishop. It would be foolish to let the thing slip through our
fingers because Mrs. Bold is determined to make a fool of herself."
Mr. Arabin hinted that he was not quite so sure that Mrs. Bold would
make a fool of herself. He said that he was not convinced that she
did regard Mr. Slope so warmly as she was supposed to do. The
archdeacon questioned and cross-questioned him about this, but
elicited nothing, and at last remained firm in his own conviction
that he was destined, malgré lui, to be the brother-in-law of Mr.
Slope. Mr. Arabin strongly advised that Mr. Harding should take no
step regarding the hospital in connexion with, or in consequence of,
Mr. Slope's letter. "If the bishop really means to confer the
appointment on Mr. Harding," argued Mr. Arabin, "he will take care to
let him have some other intimation than a message conveyed through a
letter to a lady. Were Mr. Harding to present himself at the palace,
he might merely be playing Mr. Slope's game;" and thus it was settled
that nothing should be done till the great Dr. Gwynne's arrival, or
at any rate without that potentate's sanction.
It was droll to observe how these men talked of Mr. Harding as though
he were a puppet and planned their intrigues and small ecclesiastical
manoeuvres in reference to Mr. Harding's future position without
dreaming of taking him into their confidence. There was a
comfortable house and income in question, and it was very desirable,
and certainly very just, that Mr. Harding should have them; but that
at present was not the main point; it was expedient to beat the
bishop and, if possible, to smash Mr. Slope. Mr. Slope had set up,
or was supposed to have set up, a rival candidate. Of all things the
most desirable would have been to have had Mr. Quiverful's
appointment published to the public and then annulled by the clamour
of an indignant world, loud in the defence of Mr. Harding's rights.
But of such an event the chance was small; a slight fraction only of
the world would be indignant, and that fraction would be one not
accustomed to loud speaking. And then the preferment had, in a sort
of way, been offered to Mr. Harding and had, in a sort of way, been
refused by him.
Mr. Slope's wicked, cunning hand had been peculiarly conspicuous in
the way in which this had been brought to pass, and it was the
success of Mr. Slope's cunning which was so painfully grating to the
feelings of the archdeacon. That which of all things he most dreaded
was that he should be outgeneralled by Mr. Slope, and just at present
it appeared probable that Mr. Slope would turn his flank, steal a
march on him, cut off his provisions, carry his strong town by a coup
de main, and at last beat him thoroughly in a regular pitched battle.
The archdeacon felt that his flank had been turned when desired to
wait on Mr. Slope instead of the bishop, that a march had been stolen
when Mr. Harding was induced to refuse the bishop's offer, that his
provisions would be cut off when Mr. Quiverful got the hospital, that
Eleanor was the strong town doomed to be taken, and that Mr. Slope,
as Dean of Barchester, would be regarded by all the world as
conqueror in the final conflict.
Dr. Gwynne was the Deus ex machina who was to come down upon the
Barchester stage and bring about deliverance from these terrible
evils. But how can melodramatic dénouements be properly brought
about, how can vice and Mr. Slope be punished, and virtue and the
archdeacon be rewarded, while the avenging god is laid up with the
gout? In the mean time evil may be triumphant, and poor innocence,
transfixed to the earth by an arrow from Dr. Proudie's quiver, may
lie dead upon the ground, not to be resuscitated even by Dr. Gwynne.
Two or three days after Eleanor's departure, Mr. Arabin went to
Oxford and soon found himself closeted with the august head of his
college. It was quite clear that Dr. Gwynne was not very sanguine as
to the effects of his journey to Barchester and not over-anxious to
interfere with the bishop. He had had the gout, but was very nearly
convalescent, and Mr. Arabin at once saw that had the mission been
one of which the master thoroughly approved, he would before this
have been at Plumstead.
As it was, Dr. Gwynne was resolved on visiting his friend and
willingly promised to return to Barchester with Mr. Arabin. He could
not bring himself to believe that there was any probability that Mr.
Slope would be made Dean of Barchester. Rumour, he said, had reached
even his ears, not at all favourable to that gentleman's character,
and he expressed himself strongly of opinion that any such
appointment was quite out of the question. At this stage of the
proceedings, the master's right-hand man, Tom Staple, was called in
to assist at the conference. Tom Staple was the Tutor of Lazarus
and, moreover, a great man at Oxford. Though universally known by a
species of nomenclature so very undignified, Tom Staple was one who
maintained a high dignity in the university. He was, as it were, the
leader of the Oxford tutors, a body of men who consider themselves
collectively as being by very little, if at all, second in importance
to the heads themselves. It is not always the case that the master,
or warden, or provost, or principal can hit it off exactly with his
tutor. A tutor is by no means indisposed to have a will of his own.
But at Lazarus they were great friends and firm allies at the time of
which we are writing.
Tom Staple was a hale, strong man of about forty-five, short in
stature, swarthy in face, with strong, sturdy black hair and crisp
black beard of which very little was allowed to show itself in shape
of whiskers. He always wore a white neckcloth, clean indeed, but not
tied with that scrupulous care which now distinguishes some of our
younger clergy. He was, of course, always clothed in a seemly suit
of solemn black. Mr. Staple was a decent cleanly liver, not over-
addicted to any sensuality, but nevertheless a somewhat warmish hue
was beginning to adorn his nose, the peculiar effect, as his friends
averred, of a certain pipe of port introduced into the cellars of
Lazarus the very same year in which the tutor entered it as a
freshman. There was also, perhaps, a little redolence of port wine,
as it were the slightest possible twang, in Mr. Staple's voice.
In these latter days Tom Staple was not a happy man; university
reform had long been his bugbear, and now was his bane. It was not
with him, as with most others, an affair of politics, respecting
which, when the need existed, he could, for parties' sake or on
behalf of principle, maintain a certain amount of necessary zeal; it
was not with him a subject for dilettante warfare and courteous,
commonplace opposition. To him it was life and death. The status
quo of the university was his only idea of life, and any reformation
was as bad to him as death. He would willingly have been a martyr in
the cause, had the cause admitted of martyrdom.
At the present day, unfortunately, public affairs will allow of no
martyrs, and therefore it is that there is such a deficiency of zeal.
Could gentlemen of £10,000 a year have died on their own door-steps
in defence of protection, no doubt some half-dozen glorious old
baronets would have so fallen, and the school of protection would at
this day have been crowded with scholars. Who can fight strenuously
in any combat in which there is no danger? Tom Staple would have
willingly been impaled before a Committee of the House, could he by
such self-sacrifice have infused his own spirit into the component
members of the hebdomadal board.
Tom Staple was one of those who in his heart approved of the credit
system which had of old been in vogue between the students and
tradesmen of the university. He knew and acknowledged to himself
that it was useless in these degenerate days publicly to contend with
The Jupiter on such a subject. The Jupiter had undertaken to rule
the university, and Tom Staple was well aware that The Jupiter was
too powerful for him. But in secret, and among his safe companions,
he would argue that the system of credit was an ordeal good for young
men to undergo.
The bad men, said he, the weak and worthless, blunder into danger and
burn their feet, but the good men, they who have any character, they
who have that within them which can reflect credit on their alma
mater, they come through scatheless. What merit will there be to a
young man to get through safely, if he be guarded and protected and
restrained like a schoolboy? By so doing, the period of the ordeal
is only postponed, and the manhood of the man will be deferred from
the age of twenty to that of twenty-four. If you bind him with
leading-strings at college, he will break loose while eating for the
bar in London; bind him there, and he will break loose afterwards,
when he is a married man. The wild oats must be sown somewhere.
'Twas thus that Tom Staple would argue of young men, not, indeed,
with much consistency, but still with some practical knowledge of the
subject gathered from long experience.
And now Tom Staple proffered such wisdom as he had for the assistance
of Dr. Gwynne and Mr. Arabin.
"Quite out of the question," said he, arguing that Mr. Slope could
not possibly be made the new Dean of Barchester.
"So I think," said the master. "He has no standing and, if all I
hear be true, very little character."
"As to character," said Tom Staple, "I don't think much of that.
They rather like loose parsons for deans; a little fast living, or a
dash of infidelity, is no bad recommendation to a cathedral close.
But they couldn't make Mr. Slope; the last two deans have been
Cambridge men; you'll not show me an instance of their making three
men running from the same university. We don't get our share and
never shall, I suppose, but we must at least have one out of three."
"Those sort of rules are all gone by now," said Mr. Arabin.
"Everything has gone by, I believe," said Tom Staple. "The cigar has
been smoked out, and we are the ashes."
"Speak for yourself, Staple," said the master.
"I speak for all," said the tutor stoutly. "It is coming to that,
that there will be no life left anywhere in the country. No one is
any longer fit to rule himself, or those belonging to him. The
Government is to find us all in everything, and the press is to find
the Government. Nevertheless, Mr. Slope won't be Dean of
"And who will be warden of the hospital?" said Mr. Arabin.
"I hear that Mr. Quiverful is already appointed," said Tom Staple.
"I think not," said the master. "And I think, moreover, that Dr.
Proudie will not be so short-sighted as to run against such a rock:
Mr. Slope should himself have sense enough to prevent it."
"But perhaps Mr. Slope may have no objection to see his patron on a
rock," said the suspicious tutor.
"What could he get by that?" asked Mr. Arabin.
"It is impossible to see the doubles of such a man,' said Mr. Staple.
"It seems quite clear that Bishop Proudie is altogether in his hands,
and it is equally clear that he has been moving heaven and earth to
get this Mr. Quiverful into the hospital, although he must know that
such an appointment would be most damaging to the bishop. It is
impossible to understand such a man and dreadful to think," added Tom
Staple, sighing deeply, "that the welfare and fortunes of good men
may depend on his intrigues."
Dr. Gwynne or Mr. Staple were not in the least aware, nor even was
Mr. Arabin, that this Mr. Slope, of whom they were talking, had been
using his utmost efforts to put their own candidate into the
hospital, and that in lieu of being permanent in the palace, his own
expulsion therefrom had been already decided on by the high powers of
"I'll tell you what," said the tutor, "if this Quiverful is thrust
into the hospital and Dr. Trefoil does die, I should not wonder if
the Government were to make Mr. Harding Dean of Barchester. They
would feel bound to do something for him after all that was said when
Dr. Gwynne at the moment made no reply to this suggestion, but it did
not the less impress itself on his mind. If Mr. Harding could not be
warden of the hospital, why should he not be Dean of Barchester?
And so the conference ended without any very fixed resolution, and
Dr. Gwynne and Mr. Arabin prepared for their journey to Plumstead on
Miss Thorne's Fête Champêtre
The day of the Ullathorne party arrived, and all the world were
there--or at least so much of the world as had been included in Miss
Thorne's invitation. As we have said, the bishop returned home on
the previous evening, and on the same evening and by the same train
came Dr. Gwynne and Mr. Arabin from Oxford. The archdeacon with his
brougham was in waiting for the Master of Lazarus, so that there was
a goodly show of church dignitaries on the platform of the railway.
The Stanhope party was finally arranged in the odious manner already
described, and Eleanor got into the doctor's carriage full of
apprehension and presentiment of further misfortune, whereas Mr.
Slope entered the vehicle elate with triumph.
He had received that morning a very civil note from Sir Nicholas
Fitzwhiggin, not promising much, indeed, but then Mr. Slope knew, or
fancied that he knew, that it was not etiquette for government
officers to make promises. Though Sir Nicholas promised nothing he
implied a good deal, declared his conviction that Mr. Slope would
make an excellent dean, and wished him every kind of success. To be
sure he added that, not being in the cabinet, he was never consulted
on such matters, and that even if he spoke on the subject, his voice
would go for nothing. But all this Mr. Slope took for the prudent
reserve of official life. To complete his anticipated triumphs,
another letter was brought to him just as he was about to start to
Mr. Slope also enjoyed the idea of handing Mrs. Bold out of Dr.
Stanhope's carriage before the multitude at Ullathorne gate as much
as Eleanor dreaded the same ceremony. He had fully made up his mind
to throw himself and his fortune at the widow's feet and had almost
determined to select the present propitious morning for doing so.
The signora had of late been less than civil to him. She had indeed
admitted his visits and listened, at any rate without anger, to his
love, but she had tortured him and reviled him, jeered at him and
ridiculed him, while she allowed him to call her the most beautiful
of living women, to kiss her hand, and to proclaim himself with
reiterated oaths her adorer, her slave and worshipper.
Miss Thorne was in great perturbation, yet in great glory, on the
morning of the gala day. Mr. Thorne also, though the party was none
of his giving, had much heavy work on his hands. But perhaps the
most overtasked, the most anxious, and the most effective of all the
Ullathorne household was Mr. Plomacy, the steward. This last
personage had, in the time of Mr. Thorne's father, when the Directory
held dominion in France, gone over to Paris with letters in his boot-
heel for some of the royal party, and such had been his good luck
that he had returned safe. He had then been very young and was now
very old, but the exploit gave him a character for political
enterprise and secret discretion which still availed him as
thoroughly as it had done in its freshest gloss. Mr. Plomacy had
been steward of Ullathorne for more than fifty years, and a very easy
life he had had of it. Who could require much absolute work from a
man who had carried safely at his heel that which, if discovered,
would have cost him his head? Consequently Mr. Plomacy had never
worked hard, and of latter years had never worked at all. He had a
taste for timber, and therefore he marked the trees that were to be
cut down; he had a taste for gardening, and would therefore allow no
shrub to be planted or bed to be made without his express sanction.
In these matters he was sometimes driven to run counter to his
mistress, but he rarely allowed his mistress to carry the point
But on occasions such as the present Mr. Plomacy came out strong. He
had the honour of the family at heart; he thoroughly appreciated the
duties of hospitality; and therefore, when gala doings were going on,
he always took the management into his own hands and reigned supreme
over master and mistress.
To give Mr. Plomacy his due, old as he was, he thoroughly understood
such work as he had in hand and did it well.
The order of the day was to be as follows. The quality, as the upper
classes in rural districts are designated by the lower with so much
true discrimination, were to eat a breakfast, and the non-quality
were to eat a dinner. Two marquees had been erected for these two
banquets: that for the quality on the esoteric or garden side of a
certain deep ha-ha; and that for the non-quality on the exoteric or
paddock side of the same. Both were of huge dimensions--that on the
outer side was, one may say, on an egregious scale--but Mr. Plomacy
declared that neither would be sufficient. To remedy this, an
auxiliary banquet was prepared in the dining-room, and a subsidiary
board was to be spread sub dio for the accommodation of the lower
class of yokels on the Ullathorne property.
No one who has not had a hand in the preparation of such an affair
can understand the manifold difficulties which Miss Thorne
encountered in her project. Had she not been made throughout of the
very finest whalebone, riveted with the best Yorkshire steel, she
must have sunk under them. Had not Mr. Plomacy felt how much was
justly expected from a man who at one time carried the destinies of
Europe in his boot, he would have given way, and his mistress, so
deserted, must have perished among her poles and canvas.
In the first place there was a dreadful line to be drawn. Who were
to dispose themselves within the ha-ha, and who without? To this the
unthinking will give an off-hand answer, as they will to every
ponderous question. Oh, the bishop and such-like within the ha-ha,
and Farmer Greenacre and such-like without. True, my unthinking
friend, but who shall define these such-likes? It is in such
definitions that the whole difficulty of society consists. To seat
the bishop on an arm-chair on the lawn and place Farmer Greenacre at
the end of a long table in the paddock is easy enough, but where will
you put Mrs. Lookaloft, whose husband, though a tenant on the estate,
hunts in a red coat, whose daughters go to a fashionable seminary in
Barchester, who calls her farm-house Rosebank, and who has a
pianoforte in her drawing-room? The Misses Lookaloft, as they call
themselves, won't sit contented among the bumpkins. Mrs. Lookaloft
won't squeeze her fine clothes on a bench and talk familiarly about
cream and ducklings to good Mrs. Greenacre. And yet Mrs. Lookaloft
is no fit companion and never has been the associate of the Thornes
and the Grantlys. And if Mrs. Lookaloft be admitted within the
sanctum of fashionable life, if she be allowed with her three
daughters to leap the ha-ha, why not the wives and daughters of other
families also? Mrs. Greenacre is at present well contented with the
paddock, but she might cease to be so if she saw Mrs. Lookaloft on
the lawn. And thus poor Miss Thorne had a hard time of it.
And how was she to divide her guests between the marquee and the
parlour? She had a countess coming, an Honourable John and an
Honourable George, and a whole bevy of Ladies Amelia, Rosina,
Margaretta, &c; she had a leash of baronets with their baronettes;
and, as we all know, she had a bishop. If she put them on the lawn,
no one would go into the parlour; if she put them into the parlour,
no one would go into the tent. She thought of keeping the old people
in the house and leaving the lawn to the lovers. She might as well
have seated herself at once in a hornet's nest. Mr. Plomacy knew
better than this. "Bless your soul, ma'am," said he, "there won't be
no old ladies--not one, barring yourself and old Mrs. Clantantram."
Personally Miss Thorne accepted this distinction in her favour as a
compliment to her good sense, but nevertheless she had no desire to
be closeted on the coming occasion with Mrs. Clantantram. She gave
up all idea of any arbitrary division of her guests and determined if
possible to put the bishop on the lawn and the countess in the house,
to sprinkle the baronets, and thus divide the attractions. What to
do with the Lookalofts even Mr. Plomacy could not decide. They must
take their chance. They had been specially told in the invitation
that all the tenants had been invited, and they might probably have
the good sense to stay away if they objected to mix with the rest of
Then Mr. Plomacy declared his apprehension that the Honourable Johns
and Honourable Georges would come in a sort of amphibious costume,
half-morning, half-evening, satin neck-handkerchiefs, frock-coats,
primrose gloves, and polished boots; and that, being so dressed, they
would decline riding at the quintain, or taking part in any of the
athletic games which Miss Thorne had prepared with so much fond care.
If the Lord Johns and Lord Georges didn't ride at the quintain, Miss
Thorne might be sure that nobody else would.
"But," said she in dolorous voice, all but overcome by her cares, "it
was specially signified that there were to be sports."
"And so there will be, of course," said Mr. Plomacy. "They'll all be
sporting with the young ladies in the laurel walks. Them's the
sports they care most about now-a-days. If you gets the young men at
the quintain, you'll have all the young women in the pouts."
"Can't they look on as their greatgrandmothers did before them?" said
"It seems to me that the ladies ain't contented with looking now-a-
days. Whatever the men do they'll do. If you'll have side-saddles
on the nags; and let them go at the quintain too, it'll answer
capital, no doubt."
Miss Thorne made no reply. She felt that she had no good ground on
which to defend her sex of the present generation from the sarcasm of
Mr. Plomacy. She had once declared, in one of her warmer moments,
"that now-a-days the gentlemen were all women, and the ladies all
men." She could not alter the debased character of the age. But,
such being the case, why should she take on herself to cater for the
amusement of people of such degraded tastes? This question she asked
herself more than once, and she could only answer herself with a
sigh. There was her own brother Wilfred, on whose shoulders rested
all the ancient honours of Ullathorne house; it was very doubtful
whether even he would consent to "go at the quintain," as Mr. Plomacy
not injudiciously expressed it.
And now the morning arrived. The Ullathorne household was early on
the move. Cooks were cooking in the kitchen long before daylight,
and men were dragging out tables and hammering red baize on to
benches at the earliest dawn. With what dread eagerness did Miss
Thorne look out at the weather as soon as the parting veil of night
permitted her to look at all! In this respect, at any rate, there
was nothing to grieve her. The glass had been rising for the last
three days, and the morning broke with that dull, chill, steady, grey
haze which in autumn generally presages a clear and dry day. By
seven she was dressed and down. Miss Thorne knew nothing of the
modern luxury of déshabilles. She would as soon have thought of
appearing before her brother without her stockings as without her
stays--and Miss Thorne's stays were no trifle.
And yet there was nothing for her to do when down. She fidgeted out
to the lawn and then back into the kitchen. She put on her high-
heeled clogs and fidgeted out into the paddock. Then she went into
the small home park where the quintain was erected. The pole and
cross-bar and the swivel and the target and the bag of flour were all
complete. She got up on a carpenter's bench and touched the target
with her hand; it went round with beautiful ease; the swivel had been
oiled to perfection. She almost wished to take old Plomacy at his
word, to get on a side-saddle and have a tilt at it herself. What
must a young man be, thought she, who could prefer maundering among
laurel trees with a wishy-washy school-girl to such fun as this?
"Well," said she aloud to herself, "one man can take a horse to
water, but a thousand can't make him drink. There it is. If they
haven't the spirit to enjoy it, the fault shan't be mine;" and so she
returned to the house.
At a little after eight her brother came down, and they had a sort of
scrap breakfast in his study. The tea was made without the customary
urn, and they dispensed with the usual rolls and toast. Eggs also
were missing, for every egg in the parish had been whipped into
custards, baked into pies, or boiled into lobster salad. The
allowance of fresh butter was short, and Mr. Thorne was obliged to
eat the leg of a fowl without having it devilled in the manner he
"I have been looking at the quintain, Wilfred," said she, "and it
appears to be quite right."
"Oh--ah, yes," said he. "It seemed to be so yesterday when I saw
it." Mr. Thorne was beginning to be rather bored by his sister's
love of sports, and had especially no affection for this quintain
"I wish you'd just try it after breakfast," said she. "You could
have the saddle put on Mark Antony, and the pole is there all handy.
Back to Full Books