Part 4 out of 12
meaning of this threat. If Lucy should persist in securing to
herself so much of Lord Lufton's time and attention, her visits to
Framley Court must become less frequent. Lady Lufton would do
much, very much indeed, for her friends at the parsonage; but not
even for them could she permit her son's prospects in life to be so
endangered. There was nothing more said between them, and Mrs
Robarts got up to take her leave, having promised to speak to Lucy.
'You manage everything so perfectly,' said Lady Lufton, as she
pressed Mrs Robarts's hand, 'that I am quite at ease now that I
find you will agree with me.' Mrs Robarts did not exactly agree
with her ladyship, but she hardly thought it worth her while to say
so. Mrs Robarts immediately started off on her walk to her own
home, and when she had got out of the grounds into the road, where
it makes a turn towards the parsonage, nearly opposite to Podgens'
shop, she saw Lord Lufton on horseback, and Lucy standing beside
him. It was already five o'clock, and it was getting dusk; but as
she approached, or rather as she came suddenly within sight of
them, she could see that they were in close conversation. Lord
Lufton's face was towards her, and his horse was standing still; he
was leaning over towards his companion, and the whip, which he held
in his right hand, hung almost over her arm and down her back, as
though his hand had touched and perhaps rested on her shoulder. She
was standing by his side, looking up into his face, with one gloved
hand resting on the horse's neck. Mrs Robarts, as she saw them,
could not but own that there might be cause for Lady Lufton's
fears. But then Lucy's manner, as Mrs Robarts approached, was
calculated to dissipate any such fears and to prove that there was
no ground for them. She did not move from her position, or allow
her hand to drop, or show that she was in any way either confused
or conscious. She stood her ground, and when her sister-in-law
came up was smiling and at her ease. 'Lord Lufton wants me to
learn to ride,' said she.
'To learn to ride!' said Fanny, not knowing what answer to make to
such a proposition.
'Yes,' said he. 'This horse would carry her beautifully: he is as
quiet as a lamb, and I made Gregory go out with him yesterday with
a sheet hanging over him like a lady's habit, and the man got up
into a lady's saddle.'
'I think Gregory would make a better hand of it than Lucy.'
'The horse cantered with him as though he had carried a lady all
his life, and his mouth is like velvet; indeed, that is his
fault--he is too soft-mouthed.'
'I suppose that's the same sort of thing as a man being soft-
hearted,' said Lucy.
'Exactly; you ought to ride them both with a very light hand. They
are difficult cattle to manage, but very pleasant when you know how
to do it.'
'But you see I don't know how to do it,' said Lucy.
'As regards the horse, you will learn in two days, and I do hope
you will try. Don't you think it will be an excellent thing for
her, Mrs Robarts?'
'Lucy has got no habit,' said Mrs Robarts, making use of the excuse
common on all such occasions.
'There is one of Justinia's in the house, I know. She always
leaves one here, in order that she may be able to ride when she
'She would not think of taking such a liberty with Lady Meredith's
things,' said Fanny, almost frightened at the proposal.
'Of course it is out of the question, Fanny,' said Lucy, now
speaking rather seriously. 'In the first place, I would not take
Lord Lufton's horse; in the second place, I would not take Lady
Meredith's habit; in the third place, I should be a great deal too
much frightened; and, lastly, it is quite out of the question for a
great many other very good reasons.'
'Nonsense,' said Lord Lufton.
'A great deal of nonsense,' said Lucy, laughing, 'but all of it of
Lord Lufton's talking. But we are getting cold--are we not,
Fanny?---so we will wish you good-night.' And then the two ladies
shook hands with him, and walked on towards the parsonage. That
which astonished Mrs Robarts the most in all this was the perfectly
collected manner in which Lucy spoke and conducted herself. This,
connected, as she could not but connect, with the air of chagrin
with which Lord Lufton received Lucy's decision, made it manifest
to Mrs Robarts that Lord Lufton was annoyed because Lucy would not
consent to learn to ride; whereas she, Lucy herself, had given her
refusal in a firm and decided tone, as though resolved that nothing
more should be said about it. They walked on in silence for a
minute or two, till they reached the parsonage gates, and then Lucy
said, laughing, 'Can't you fancy me sitting on that great big
horse? I wonder what Lady Lufton would say if she saw me there,
and his lordship giving me my first lesson?'
'I don't think she would like it,' said Fanny.
'I'm sure she would not. But I will not try her temper in that
respect. Sometimes I fancy she does to even like seeing Lord
Lufton talking to me.'
'She does not like it, Lucy, when she sees him flirting with you.'
This Mrs Robarts said rather gravely, whereas Lucy had been
speaking in a half-bantering tone. As soon as even the word
flirting was out of Fanny's mouth, she was conscious that she had
been guilty of an injustice in using it. She had wished to say
something which would convey to her sister-in-law an idea of what
Lady Lufton would dislike; but in doing so, she had unintentionally
brought against her an accusation.
'Flirting, Fanny!' said Lucy, standing still in the path, and
looking up into her companion's face with all her eyes. 'Do you
mean to say that I have been flirting with Lord Lufton?'
'I did not say that.'
'Or that I have allowed him to flirt with me?'
'I did not mean to shock you, Lucy.'
'What did you mean, Fanny?'
'Why, just this: that Lady Lufton would not be pleased if he paid
you marked attentions, and if you received them; just like that
affair of riding; it was better to decline it.'
'Of course I declined it; of course I never dreamt of accepting
such an offer. Go riding about the country on his horses! What
have I done, Fanny, that you should suppose such a thing?'
'You have done nothing, dearest.'
'Then why did you speak as you did just now?'
'Because I wished to put you on your guard. You know, Lucy, that I
do not intend to find fault with you; but you may be sure, as a
rule, that intimate friendships between young gentlemen and young
ladies are dangerous things.' They then walked up to the hall-door
in silence. When they reached it, Lucy stood in the doorway
instead of entering it, and said, 'Fanny, let us take another turn
together if you are not tired.'
'No, I'm not tired.'
'It will be better that I should understand you at once,'--and
then they again moved away from the house. 'Tell me truly now, do
you think that Lord Lufton and I have been flirting?'
'I do think he is a little inclined to flirt with you.'
'And Lady Lufton has been asking you to lecture me about it?' Poor
Mrs Robarts hardly knew what to say. She thought well of all the
persons concerned; and was very anxious to behave well by all of
them;--was particularly anxious to create no ill feeling, and
wished that everybody would be comfortable, and on good terms with
everybody else. But yet the truth was forced out of her when this
question was asked so suddenly. 'Not to lecture you, Lucy,' she
said at last.
'Well, to preach to me, or to talk to me, or to give me a lesson;
to say something that shall drive me to put my back up against Lord
'To caution you, dearest. Had you heard what she said, you would
hardly have felt angry with Lady Lufton.'
'Well, to caution me. It is such a pleasant thing for a girl to be
cautioned against falling in love with a gentleman, especially when
the gentleman is very rich, and a lord, and all that sort of
'Nobody for a moment attributes anything wrong to you, Lucy.'
'Anything wrong--no. I don't know whether it would be anything
wrong, even if I were to fall in love with him. I wonder whether
they cautioned Griselda Grantly when she was here? I suppose when
young lords go about, all the girls are cautioned as a matter of
course. Why do they not label him "dangerous"?' And then they
were again silent for a moment, as Mrs Robarts did not feel that
she had anything further to say on the matter.
'"Poison" should be the word with any one so fatal as Lord Lufton;
and he ought to be made up of some particular colour; for fear he
should be swallowed by mistake.'
'You will be safe, you see,' said Fanny laughing, 'as you have been
specially cautioned as to this individual bottle.'
'Ah! but what's the use of that after I have had so many doses? It
is no good telling me about it now; when the mischief is
done,--after I have been taking it for I don't know how long.
Dear! Dear! Dear! And I regarded it as a more commonplace
powder, good for the complexion. I wonder whether it's too late,
or whether there's any antidote?' Mrs Robarts did not always quite
understand her sister-in-law, and now she was a little at a loss.
'I don't think there' much harm done yet on either side,' said she,
'Ah! you don't know, Fanny. But I do think that if I die--as I
shall--I feel I shall;--and if so, I do think it ought to go very
hard with Lady Lufton. Why didn't she label him "dangerous" in
time?' And then they went into the house and up to their own
rooms. It was difficult for any one to understand Lucy's state of
mind at present, and it can hardly be said that she understood it
herself. She felt that she had received a severe blow in having
been thus made the subject of remark with reference to Lord
Lufton. She knew that her pleasant evenings at Framley Court were
now over, and that she could not again talk to him in an
unrestrained tone and without embarrassment. She had felt the air
of the whole place to be very cold before her intimacy with him,
and now it must be cold again. Two homes had been open to her;
Framley Court and the parsonage; and no, as far as comfort was
concerned, she must confine herself to the latter. She could not
again be comfortable in Lady Lufton's drawing-room. But then she
could not help asking herself whether Lady Lufton was not right.
She had had courage enough, and presence of mind, to joke about the
matter when her sister-in-law spoke to her, and yet she was quite
aware that it was no joking matter. Lord Lufton had not absolutely
made love to her, but had latterly spoken to her in a manner which
she knew was not compatible with that ordinary comfortable
masculine friendship with the idea of which she had once satisfied
herself. Was not Fanny right when she said that intimate
friendships of that nature were dangerous things?
Yes, Lucy, very dangerous. Lucy, before she went to bed that
night, had owned to herself that they were so; and lying there with
sleepless eyes and a moist pillow, she was driven to confess that
the label would in truth be now too late, that the caution had come
to her after the poison had been swallowed. Was there any
antidote? That was all that was left for her to consider. But,
nevertheless, on the following morning she could appear quite at
her ease. And when Mark had left the house after breakfast, she
could still joke with Fanny as to Lady Lufton's poisoned cupboard.
MR CRAWLEY OF HOGGLESTOCK
And then there was that other trouble in Lady Lufton's mind, the
sins, namely, of her selected parson. She had selected him, and
she was by no means inclined to give him up, even though his sins
against parsondom were grievous. Indeed she was a woman not prone
to give up anything, and of all things not prone to give up a
protege. The very fact that she herself had selected him was the
strongest argument in his favour. But his sins against parsondom
were becoming very grievous in her eyes, and she was at a loss to
know what steps to take. She hardly dared to take him to task, him
himself. Were she to do so, and should he then tell her to mind
her own business--as he probably might do, though not in those
words--there would be a schism in the parish; and almost anything
would be better than that. The whole work of her life would be
upset, all the outlets of her energy would be impeded, if not
absolutely closed, if a state of things were to come to pass in
which she and the parson of her parish should not be on good terms.
But what was to be done? Early in the winter he had gone to
Chaldicotes and to Gatherum Castle, consorting with gamblers,
Whigs, atheists, men of loose pleasure, and Proudieites. That she
had condoned; and now he was turning out a hunting parson on her
hands. It was all very well for Fanny to say that he merely looked
at the hounds as he made about his parish. Fanny might be
deceived. Being his wife, it might be her duty not to see her
husband's iniquities. But Lady Lufton could not be deceived. She
knew very well in what part of the county Cobbold's Ashes lay. It
was not in Framley parish, nor in the next parish to it. It was
half-way across to Chaldicotes--to the western division; and she
had heard of that run in which two horses had been killed, and in
which Parson Robarts had won immortal glory among West Barsetshire
sportsmen. It was not easy to keep Lady Lufton in the dark as to
matters occurring in her own county.
All those things she knew, but as yet had not noticed, grieving
over them in her own heart the more on that account. Spoken grief
relieves itself; and when one can give counsel, one always hopes at
least that that counsel will be effective. To her son she had
said, more than once, that it was a pity that Mr Robarts should
follow the hounds--'The world has agreed that it is unbecoming in a
clergyman,' she would urge, in her deprecatory tone. But her son
would by no means give her any comfort. 'He doesn't hunt, you
know--not as I do,' he would say. 'And if he did, I really don't
see the harm of it. A man must have some amusement, even if he is
an archbishop.' 'He has amusement at home,' Lady Lufton would
answer. 'What does his wife do--and his sister?' This allusion to
Lucy, however, was very soon dropped.
Lord Lufton would in no wise help her. He would not even passively
discourage the vicar, or refrain from offering to give him a seat
in going to the meets. Mark and Lord Lufton had been boys
together, and his lordship knew that Mark in his heart would enjoy
a brush across the country quite as well himself; and then what was
the harm of it? Lady Lufton's best aid had been in Mark's own
conscience. He had taken himself to task more than once, and had
promised himself that he would not become a sporting parson.
Indeed, where would be his hopes of ulterior promotion, if he
allowed himself to degenerate so far as that? It had been his
intention, in reviewing what he considered to be the necessary
proprieties of clerical life, in laying out his own future mode of
living, to assume no peculiar sacerdotal strictness; he would not
be known as a denouncer of dancing or of card-tables, of theatres
or of novel-reading; he would take the world around him, as he
found it, endeavouring by precept and practice to lend a hand to
the gradual amelioration which Christianity is producing; but he
would attempt no sudden or majestic reforms. Cake and ale would
still be popular, and ginger be hot in the mouth, let him preach
ever so--let him be never so solemn as a hermit; but a bright face,
a true trusting heart, an strong arm, and an humble mind, might do
much in teaching those around him that men may be gay and yet not
profligate, that women may be devout and yet not be dead to the
Such had been his ideas as to his own future life; and though many
would think that, as a clergyman, he should have gone about his
work with more serious devotion of thought, nevertheless there was
some wisdom in them;--some folly also undoubtedly, as appeared by
the troubles into which they had led him. 'I will not affect to
think that to be bad,' said he to himself, 'which in my heart of
hearts does not seem to be bad.' And thus he resolved that he
might live without contamination among hunting squires. And then,
being a man only too prone by nature to do as other did around him,
he found by degrees that that could hardly be wrong for him which
he admitted to be right for others.
But still his conscience upbraided him, and he declared to himself
more than once that after this year he would hunt no more. And
then his own Fanny would look at him on his return home on those
days in a manner that would cut him to the heart. She would say
nothing to him. She never inquired in a sneering tone; and with
angry eyes, whether he had enjoyed his day's sport; but when he
spoke of it, she could not answer with enthusiasm; and in other
matters which concerned him she was always enthusiastic. After a
while, too, he made matters worse, for about the end of March, he
did another very foolish thing. He almost consented to buy an
expensive horse from Sowerby--an animal which he by no means
wanted, and which, if once possessed, would certainly lead him into
further trouble. A gentleman, when he has a good horse in his
stable, does not like to leave him there eating his head off. If
he be a gig-horse, the owner of him will be keen to drive a gig; if
a hunter, the happy possessor will wish to be with a pack of
'Mark,' Sowerby said to him one day, when they were out together,
'this brute of mine is so fresh, I can hardly ride him; you are
young and strong; change with me for an hour or so.' And then they
did change, and the horse on which Robarts found himself mounted
went away with him beautifully.
'He's a splendid animal,' said Mark, when they again met.
'Yes, for a man of your weight. He's thrown away upon me;--too
much of a horse for my purposes. I don't get along now quite as
well as I used to do. He is a nice sort of hunter; just rising
six, you know.' How it came to pass that the price of the splendid
animal was mentioned between them, I need not describe with
exactness. But it did come to pass that Mr Sowerby told the parson
that the horse could be his for one hundred and thirty pounds. 'And
I really wish you'd take him,' said Sowerby. 'It would be the
means of partially relieving my mind of a great weight.' Mark
looked up into his friend's face with an air of surprise, for he
did not at the moment understand how this should be the case.
'I'm afraid, you know, that you will have to put your hand into
your pocket sooner or later for that accursed bill'--Mark shrank
as the profane words struck his ears--'and I should be glad to
think that you had got something in hand in the way of value.'
'Do you mean that I shall have to pay the whole sum of five hundred
'Oh! dear, no; nothing of the kind. But something I dare say you
will have to pay: if you like to take Dandy for a hundred and
thirty, you can be prepared for that amount when Tozer comes to
you. The horse is dog cheap, and you will have a long day for you
money.' Mark, at first, declared, in a quiet determined tone, that
he did not want the horse; but it afterwards appeared to him that
if he were so fated that he must pay a portion of Mr Sowerby's
debts, he might as repay himself to any extent within his power. It
would be as well perhaps that he should take the horse and sell
him. It did not occur to him that by so doing he would put it in
Mr Sowerby's power to say that some valuable consideration had
passed between them with reference to this bill, and that he would
be aiding that gentleman in preparing an inextricable confusion in
money matters between them. Mr Sowerby well knew the value of
this. It would enable him to make a plausible story, as he had
done in that other case of Lord Lufton. 'Are you going to have
Dandy?' Sowerby said to him again.
'I can't say that I will just at present,' said the parson. 'What
should I do with him now the season's over?'
'Exactly, my dear fellow; and what do I do want of him now the
season's over? If it were the beginning of October instead of the
end of March, Dandy would be up at two hundred and thirty instead
of one: in six months' time that horse would be worth anything you
like to ask for him. Look at his bone.' The vicar did look at his
bones, examining the brute with a very knowing and unclerical
manner. He lifted the animal's four feet, one after another,
handling the frogs, and measuring with his eye the proportion of
his parts; he passed his hand up and down his legs, spanning the
bones of the lower joint; he peered into his eyes, took into
consideration the width of his chest, the dip of his back, the form
of his ribs, the curve of his haunches, and the capabilities for
breathing when pressed by work. And then he stood away a little,
eyeing him from the side, and taking in a general idea of the form
and make of the whole. 'He seems to stand over a little, I think,'
said the parson.
'It's the lie of the ground. Move him about, Bob. There now, let
him stand there.'
'He's not perfect,' said Mark. 'I don't quite like his heels; but
no doubt he's a niceish cut of horse.'
'I rather think he is. If he were perfect, as you say, he would
not be going into your stables for a hundred and thirty. Do you
ever remember to have seen a perfect horse?'
'Your mare Mrs Gamp was as nearly perfect as possible.'
'Even Mrs Gamp had her faults. In the first place she was a bad
feeder. But one certainly doesn't often come across anything much
better than Mrs Gamp.' And thus the matter was talked over between
them with much stable conversation, all of which tended to make
Sowerby more and more oblivious of his friend's sacred profession,
and perhaps to make the vicar himself too frequently oblivious of
it also. But no; he was not oblivious of it. He was even mindful
of it; but mindful of it in such a manner that his thoughts on the
subject were nowadays always painful.
There is a parish called Hogglestock lying away quite in the
northern extremity of the eastern division of the county--lying
also on the borders of the western division. I almost fear that it
will become necessary, before this history be completed, to provide
a map of Barsetshire for the due explanation of all these
localities. Framley is also in the northern portion of the county,
but just to the south of the grand trunk line of railway from which
the branch to Barchester strikes off at a point some thirty miles
nearer to London. The station for Framley Court is Silverbridge,
which is, however, in the western division of the county.
Hogglesock is to the north of the railway, the line of which,
however, runs through a portion of the parish, and it adjoins
Framley, though the churches are as much as seven miles apart.
Barsetshire, taken altogether, is a pleasant green tree-becrowded
county, with large husky hedges, pretty damp deep lanes, and roads
with broad grass margins running along them. Such is the general
nature of the county; but just up in its northern extremity this
nature alters. There it is bleak and ugly, with low artificial
hedges, and without wood; not uncultivated, as it is all portioned
out into new-looking large fields, bearing turnips, and wheat, and
mangel, all in due course of agricultural rotation; but it has none
of the special beauties of English cultivation. There is not a
gentleman's house in the parish of Hogglestock besides that of the
clergyman; and this, though it is certainly the house of a
gentleman, can hardly be said to be fit to be so. It is ugly, and
straight, and small. It produces cabbages, but no trees: potatoes
of, I believe, an excellent description, but hardly any flowers,
and nothing worthy of the name of a shrub. Indeed the whole parish
of Hogglestock should have been in the adjoining county, which is
by no means so attractive as Barsetshire;--a fact well known to
those few of my readers who are well acquainted with their own
Mr Crawley, whose name has been mentioned in these pages, was the
incumbent of Hogglestock. On what principle the remuneration of
our parish clergymen was settled when the original settlement was
made, no deepest, keenest, lover of middle-aged ecclesiastical
black-letter learning can, I take it, now say. That priests were
to be paid from tithes of the parish produce, out of which tithes
certain other good things were to be bought and paid for, such as
church repairs and education, of so much the most have an inkling.
That a rector, being a big sort of parson, owned the tithes of his
parish in full,--or at any rate that part of them intended for the
clergyman,--and that a vicar was somebody's deputy, and therefore
entitled only to little tithes, as being of a little body: of so
much we that are simple in such matters have a general idea. But
one cannot conceive that even in this way any approximation could
have been made, even in these old medieval days, towards a fair
proportioning of the pay to the work. At any rate, it is clear
enough that there is no such approximation now. And what a screech
would there not be among the clergy of the Church, even in these
reforming days, if any over-bold reformer were to suggest that such
an approximation should be attempted? Let those who know
clergymen, and like them, and have lived with them, only fancy it!
Clergymen to be paid, not according to the temporalities of any
living which they may have acquired, either by merit or favour, but
in accordance with the work to be done! O Doddington! And O
Stanhope, think of this, if an idea so sacrilegious can find
entrance into your warm ecclesiastical bosoms! Ecclesiastical work
to be bought and paid of according to its quantity and quality!
But, nevertheless, one may prophesy that we Englishmen must come to
this, disagreeable as the idea undoubtedly is. Most
pleasant-minded Churchmen feel, I think, on this subject pretty
much in the same way. Our present arrangement of parochial incomes
is beloved as being time-honoured, gentlemanlike, English, and
picturesque. We would fain adhere to it closely as long as we can,
but we know that we do so by the force of our prejudice, and not by
that of our judgement. A time-honoured, gentlemanlike, English,
picturesque arrangement is so far very delightful. But are there
not other attributes very desirable--nay, absolutely necessary--in
respect to which this time-honoured, picturesque arrangement is so
How pleasant it was, too, that one bishop should be getting fifteen
thousand a year, and another with an equal care of parsons only
four? That a certain prelate could get twenty thousand one year
and his successor in the same diocese only five the next? There
was something in it pleasant and picturesque; it was an arrangement
endowed with feudal charms, and the change which they had made was
distasteful to many of us. A bishop with a regular salary, and no
appanage of land and land-bailiffs, is only half a bishop. Let any
man prove to me the contrary ever so thoroughly--me prove it to my
own self ever so often--my heart in this matter is not thereby a
whit altered. One liked to know that there was a dean or two who
got his three thousand a year, and that old Dr Purple held four
stalls, one of which was golden, and the other three silver-gilt!
Such knowledge was always so pleasant to me! A golden stall! How
sweet is the ground thereof to church-loving ears! But bishops
have been shorn of their beauty, and deans are in their decadence.
A utilitarian age requires the fatness of the ecclesiastical land,
in order that it may be divided out into small portions of
provender, on which necessary working clergymen may live,--into
portions so infinitely small that working clergyman can hardly
live. And the full-blown rectors and vicars, with full-blown
tithes--with tithes when too full-blown for strict utilitarian
principles--will necessarily follow. Stanhope and Doddington must
bow their heads, with such compensation for temporal rights as may
be extracted,--but in other trades, professions, and lines of life,
men are paid according to their work. Let it be so in the Church.
Such will sooner or later be the edict of a utilitarian, reforming,
matter-of-fact House of Parliament.
I have a scheme of my own on the subject, which I will not
introduce here, seeing that neither men nor women would read it.
And with reference to this matter, I will only here further explain
that all these words have been brought about by the fact, necessary
to be here stated, that Mr Crawley only received one hundred and
thirty pounds a year for performing the whole parochial duty of the
parish of Hogglestock. And Hogglestock is a large parish. It
includes two populous villages, abounding in brickmakers, a race of
men very troublesome to a zealous parson who won't let men go
rollicking to the devil without interference. Hogglestock has full
work for two men; and yet all the funds therein applicable to
parson's work is this miserable stipend of one hundred and thirty
pounds a year. It is a stipend neither picturesque nor
time-honoured, nor feudal, for Hogglestock takes rank only as a
Mr Crawley has been mentioned before as a clergyman of whom Mr
Robarts said, that he almost thought it wrong to take a walk out of
his own parish. In so saying Mark Robarts of course burlesqued his
brother parson; but there can be no doubt that Mr Crawley was a
strict man,--a strict, stern, unpleasant man, and one who feared
God and his own conscience. We must say a word or two of Mr
Crawley and his concerns. He was now some forty years of age, but
of these he had not been in possession even of his present benefice
for more than four or five. The first ten years of his life as a
clergyman had been passed in performing the duties and struggling
through the life of a curate in a bleak, ugly, cold parish on the
northern coast of Cornwall. It had been a weary life and a fearful
struggle, made up of duties ill requited and not always
satisfactorily performed, of love and poverty, of increasing cares,
of sickness, debt, and death. For Mr Crawley had married almost as
soon as he was ordained, and children had been born to him in that
chill, comfortless Cornish village. He had married a lady
well-educated and softly nurtured, but not dowered with worldly
wealth. They two had gone forth determined to fight bravely
together; to disregard the world and the world's ways, looking only
to God and to each other for their comfort. They would give up
ideas of gentle living, of soft raiment, and delicate feeding.
Others,--those that work with their hands, even the betterment of
such workers--could live in decency and health upon even such
provisions as he could earn as a clergyman. In such manner would
they live, so poorly and so decently, working out their work, not
with their hands but with their hearts.
And so they had established themselves, beginning the world with
bare-footed little girl of fourteen to aid them in the small
household matters; and for a while they had both kept heart, loving
each other dearly, and prospering somewhat in their work. But a
man who has once walked the world as a gentleman knows to what it
is to change his position, and place himself lower down in the
social rank. Much less can he know what it is to put down the
woman he loves. There are a thousand things, mean and trifling in
themselves, which a man despises when he thinks of them in his
philosophy, but to dispense with which puts his philosophy to so
stern a proof. Let any plainest man who reads this think of his
usual mode of getting himself into is matutinal garments, and
confess how much such a struggle would cost him. And then children
had come. The wife of the labouring man does rear her children,
and often rears them in health, without even so many appliances of
comfort as found their way into Mrs Crawley's cottage; but the task
to her was almost more than she could accomplish. Not that she
ever fainted, or gave way: she was made of the sterner metal of the
two, and could last on while he was prostrate.
And sometimes he was prostrate--prostrate in soul and spirit. Then
would he complain with bitter voice, crying out that the world was
too hard for him, that his back was broken with his burden, that
his God had deserted him. For days and days, in such moods, he
would stay within his cottage, never darkening the door or seeing
other faces than those of his own inmates. Those days were terrible
both to him and her. He would sit there unwashed, with his unshorn
face resting on his hand, with an old dressing-gown hanging loose
about him, hardly tasting food, seldom speaking, striving to pray,
but striving so frequently in vain. And then he would rise from
his chair, and, with a burst of frenzy, call upon his Creator to
remove him from this misery. In these moments she never deserted
him. At one period they had had four children, and though the
whole weight of this young brood rested on her arms, on her
muscles, on her strength of mind and body, she never ceased in her
efforts to comfort him. Then, at length, falling utterly upon the
ground, he would pour forth piteous prayers for mercy, and after a
night of sleep would once more go forth to his work.
But she never yielded to despair: the struggle was never beyond her
powers of endurance. She had possessed her share of woman's
loveliness, but that was now all gone. Her colour quickly faded,
and the fresh, soft tints soon deserted her face and forehead. She
became thin, and rough, and almost haggard; thin till her
cheek-bones were nearly pressing through her skin, till her elbows
were sharp, and her finger-bones as those of a skeleton. Her eye
did not lose its lustre, but it became unnaturally bright,
prominent, and too large for her wan face. The soft brown locks,
which she had once loved to brush back, scorning, as she would
boast to herself, to care that they should be seen, were now sparse
enough and all untidy and unclean. It was matter of little thought
now whether they were seen or not. Whether he could be made fit to
go into his pulpit--whether they might be fed--those four
innocents--and their backs kept from the cold wind--that was now
the matter of her thought. And then two of them died, and she went
forth herself to see them laid under the frost-bound sod, lest he
should faint in his work over their graves. For he would ask aid
from no man--such at least was his boast through all. Two of them
died, but their illness had been long; and then debts came upon
them. Debt, indeed, had been creeping on them with slow but sure
feet during the last five years. Who can see his children hungry,
and not take bread if it be offered? Who can see his wife lying in
sharpest want, and not seek a remedy if there be a remedy within
reach? So debt had come upon them, and rude men pressed for small
sums of money--for sums small to the world, but impossibly large to
them. And he would hide himself within there, in that cranny of an
inner chamber--hide himself with deep shame from the world, with
shame and a sinking heart, and a broken spirit.
But had such a man no friend? it will be said. Such men, I take
it, do not make many friends. But this man was not utterly
friendless. Almost every year one visit was paid to him in his
Cornish curacy, by a brother clergyman, an old college friend, who,
as far as might in him lie, did give aid to the curate and his
wife. This gentleman would take up his abode for a week at a
farmer's in the neighbourhood, and though he found Mr Crawley in
despair, he would leave him with some drops of comfort in his
soul. Nor were the benefits in this respect al on one side. Mr
Crawley, though at some periods weak enough himself, could be
strong for others; and, more than once, was strong to the great
advantage of this man whom he loved. And then, too, pecuniary
assistance was forthcoming--in those earlier years not in great
amount, for this friend was not then among the rich ones of the
earth--but in amount sufficient for that moderate hearth, if only
its acceptance could have been managed. But in that matter there
were difficulties without end. Of absolute money tenders Mr
Crawley would accept none. But a bill here and there was paid, the
wife assisting; and shoes came for Kate--till Kate was placed
beyond the need of shoes; and cloth for Harry and Frank, found its
way surreptitiously in beneath the cover of that wife's solitary
trunk--cloth with which those lean fingers worked garments for the
two boys, to be worn--such was God's will--only by the one.
Such were Mr and Mrs Crawley in their Cornish curacy, and during
their severest struggles. To one who thinks that a fair day's work
is worth a fair day's wages, it seems hard enough that a man should
work so hard and receive so little. There will be those who think
that the fault was all his own in marrying so young. But still
there remains that question, Is not a fair day's work worth a fair
day's wages? This man did work hard--at a task perhaps the hardest
of any that a man may do; and for ten years he earned some seventy
pounds a year. Will any one say that he received fair wages for
his fair work, let him be married or single? And yet, there are so
many who would fain pay their clergy, if they only knew how to
apply their money! But that is a long subject, as Mr Robarts had
told Miss Dunstable. Such was Mr Crawley in his Cornish curacy.
LADY LUFTON'S AMBASSADOR
And then, in the days which followed, that friend of Mr Crawley's,
whose name, by the by, is yet to be mentioned, received quick and
great promotion. Mr Arabin by name he was then; Dr Arabin
afterwards, when that quick and great promotion reached its
climax. He had been simply a Fellow of Lazarus in those former
years. Then he became vicar of St Ewold's, in East Barsetshire,
and had not yet got himself settled there when he married the widow
Bold, a widow with belongings in land and funded money, and with
but one small baby as an encumbrance. Nor had he even yet married
her, had only engaged himself so to do, when they made him Dean of
Barchester--all of which may be read in the diocesan and county
chronicles. And now that he was wealthy, the new dean did contrive
to pay the debts of his poor friend, some lawyer of Camelford
assisting him. It was but a paltry schedule after all, amounting
in the total to something not much above a hundred pounds. And
then, in the course of eighteen months, this poor piece of
preferment fell the dean's way, this incumbency of Hogglestock with
its stipend reaching one hundred and thirty pounds a year. Even
that was worth double the Cornish curacy, and there was, moreover,
a house attached to it. Poor Mrs Crawley, when she heard of it,
thought that their struggles of poverty were now well-nigh over.
What might not be done with a hundred and thirty pounds by people
who had lived for ten years on seventy?
And so they moved away out of that cold, bleak country, carrying
with them their humble household goods, and settled themselves in
another country, cold and bleak also, but less terribly so than the
former. They settled themselves, and again began their struggles
against man's hardness and the devil's zeal. I have said that Mr
Crawley was a stern, unpleasant man; and it certainly was so. The
man must be made of very sterling stuff, whom continued and
undeserved misfortune does not make unpleasant. This man had so
far succumbed to grief, that it had left upon him its marks,
palpable and not to be effaced. He cared little for society,
judging men to be doing evil who did care for it. He knew as a
fact, and believed with all his heart, that these sorrows had come
to him from the hand of God, and that they would work for his weal
in the long run; but not the less did they make him morose, silent
and dogged. He had always at his heart a feeling that he and his
had been ill-used, and too often solaced himself, at the devil's
bidding, with the conviction that eternity would make equal that
which life in this world had made so unequal; the last bait that
with which the devil angles after those who are struggling to elude
his rod and line.
The Framley property did not run into the parish of Hogglestock;
but nevertheless Lady Lufton did what she could in the way of
kindness to these new-comers. Providence had not supplied
Hogglestock with a Lady Lufton, or with any substitute in the shape
of lord or lady, squire or squiress. The Hogglestock farmers, male
and female, were a rude, rough set, not bordering in their social
rank on the farmer gentle; and Lady Lufton, knowing this, and
hearing something of these Crawleys from Mrs Arabin the dean's
wife, trimmed her lamps, so that they should shed a wider light,
and pour forth some of their influence on that forlorn household.
And as regards Mrs Crawley, Lady Lufton by no means found that her
work was thrown away. Mrs Crawley accepted her kindness with
thankfulness, and returned to some of the softness of life under
her hand. As for dining at Framley Court, that was out of the
question. Mr Crawley, she knew, would not hear of it, even if
other things were fitting and appliances were at command. Indeed
Mrs Crawley at once said that she felt herself unfit to go through
such a ceremony with anything like comfort. The dean, she said,
would talk of their going to stay at the deanery; but she thought
it quite impossible that either of them should endure even that.
But, all the same, Lady Lufton was a comfort to her; and the poor
woman felt that it was well to have a lady near her in case of
The task was much harder with Mr Crawley, but even with him it was
not altogether unsuccessful. Lady Lufton talked to him of his
parish and of her own; made Mark Robarts go to him, and by degrees
did something towards civilizing him. Between him and Robarts too
there grew up an intimacy rather than a friendship. Robarts would
submit his opinion on matters of ecclesiastical and even
theological law, would listen to him with patience, would agree
with him where he could, and differ with him mildly when he could
not. For Robarts was a man who made himself pleasant to all men.
And thus, under Lady Lufton's wing, there grew up a connexion
between Framley and Hogglestock, in which Mrs Robarts also
assisted. And now that Lady Lufton was looking about her, to see
how she might best bring proper clerical influence to bear upon her
own recreant fox-hunting parson, it occurred to her that she might
use Mr Crawley in the matter. Mr Crawley would certainly be on her
side as far as opinion went, and would have no fear in expressing
his opinion to his brother clergyman. So she sent for Mr Crawley.
In appearance he was the very opposite of Mark Robarts. He was a
lean, slim, meagre man, with shoulders slightly curved, and pale,
lank locks of ragged hair; his forehead was high, but his face was
narrow; his small grey eyes were deeply sunken in his head, his
nose was well-formed, his lips thin, and his mouth expressive.
Nobody could look at him without seeing that there was a purpose
and a meaning in his countenance. He always wore, in summer and
winter, a long dusky grey coat, which buttoned close up to his neck
and descended almost to his heels. He was full six feet high, but
being so slight in build, he looked as though he were taller. He
came at once at Lady Lufton's bidding, putting himself into the gig
beside the servant, to whom he spoke no single word during the
journey. And the man, looking into his face, was struck with
taciturnity. Now Mark Robarts would have talked with him the whole
way from Hogglestock to Framley Court; discoursing partly as to
horses and land, but partly also as to higher things. And then
Lady Lufton opened her mind and told her griefs to Mr Crawley,
urging, however, through the whole length of her narrative, that Mr
Robarts was an excellent parish clergyman,--'just such a clergyman
in his church as I would wish him to be,' she explained, with the
view of saving herself from an expression of any of Mr Crawley's
special ideas as to church teaching, and of confining him to the
one subject-matter in hand; 'but he got his living so young, Mr
Crawley, that he is hardly quite as steady as I should wish him to
be. It has been as much my fault as his own in placing him in such
a position so early in life.'
'I think it has,' said Mr Crawley, who might perhaps be a little
sore on the subject.
'Quite so, quite so,' continued her ladyship, swallowing down a
certain sense of anger. 'But that is done now, and is past cure.
That Mr Robarts will become a credit to his profession, I do not
doubt, for his heart is in the right place and his sentiments are
good; but I fear that at present he is succumbing to temptation.'
'I am told that he hunts two or three times a week. Everybody is
talking about it.'
'No, Mr Crawley; not two or three times a week; very seldom above
once, I think. And then I do believe he does it more with the view
of being with Lord Lufton than anything else.'
'I cannot see that that would make the matter better,' said Mr
'It would show that he was not strongly imbued with a taste which I
cannot but regard as vicious in a clergyman.'
'It must be vicious in all men,' said Mr Crawley. 'It is in itself
cruel, and leads to idleness and profligacy.' Again Lady Lufton
made a gulp. She had called Mr Crawley thither to her aid, and
felt that it would be inexpedient to quarrel with him. But she did
not like to be told that her son's amusement was idle and
profligate. She had always regarded hunting as a proper pursuit
for a country gentleman. It was, indeed, in her eyes one of the
peculiar institutions of country life in England, and it may be
almost said that she looked upon the Barsetshire Hunt as something
sacred. She could not endure to hear that a fox was trapped, and
allowed her turkeys to be purloined without a groan. Such being
the case, she did not like being told that it was vicious, and had
by no means wished to consult Mr Crawley on that matter. But
nevertheless she swallowed her wrath.
'It is at any rate unbecoming in a clergyman,' she said; 'and as I
know that Mr Robarts places a high value on your opinion, perhaps
you will not object to advise him to discontinue it. He might
possibly feel aggrieved were I to interfere personally on such a
'I have no doubt he would,' said Mr Crawley. 'It is not within a
woman's province to give counsel to a clergyman on such a subject,
unless she be very near and very dear to him--his wife, or mother,
'As living in the same parish, you know, and being, perhaps--' the
leading person in it, and the one who naturally rules the others.
Those would have been the fitting words for the expression of
her ladyship's ideas; but she remembered herself, and did not use
them. She had made up her mind that, great as her influence ought
to be, she was not the proper person to speak to Mr Robarts as to
his pernicious, unclerical habits, and she would not now depart
from her resolve by attempting to prove that she was the proper
'Yes,' said Mr Crawley, 'just so. All that would entitle him to
offer you his counsel if he thought that your mode of life was such
as to require it, but could by no means justify in addressing
yourself to him.' This was very hard upon Lady Lufton. She was
endeavouring with all her woman's strength to do her best, and
endeavouring so to do it that the feelings of the sinner might be
spared; and yet the ghostly comforter whom she had evoked to her
aid, treated her as though she were arrogant and overbearing. She
acknowledged the weakness of her own position with reference to her
parish clergyman by calling in the aid of Mr Crawley; and, under
such circumstances, he might, at any rate, have abstained from
throwing her weakness in her teeth.
'Well, sir; I hope my mode of life may not require it; but that is
not exactly to the point; what I wish to know is, whether you will
speak to Mr Robarts?'
'Certainly I will', said he.
'Then I shall be much obliged to you. But, Mr Crawley, pray
--pray, remember this: I would not on any account wish that you
should be harsh with him. He is an excellent young man, and--'
'Lady Lufton, if I do this, I can only do it in my own way, as best
I may, using such words as God may give me at the time. I hope
that I am harsh to no man; but it is worse than useless, in all
cases, to speak anything but the truth.'
'Of course--of course.'
'If the ears be too delicate to hear the truth, the mind will be
too perverse to profit by it.' And then Mr Crawley got up to take
his leave. But Lady Lufton insisted that he should go with her to
luncheon. He hummed and ha'd and would fain have refused, but on
this subject she was peremptory. It might be that she was unfit to
advise a clergyman as to his duties, but in a matter of hospitality
she did know what she was about. Mr Crawley should not leave the
house without refreshment. As to this, she carried her point; and
Mr Crawley,--when the matter before him was cold roast beef and hot
potatoes, instead of the relative position of a parish priest and
his parishioner--became humble, submissive, and almost timid. Lady
Lufton recommended Madeira instead of sherry, and Mr Crawley obeyed
at once, and was, indeed, perfectly unconscious of the difference.
Then there was a basket of seakale in the gig for Mrs Crawley; that
he would have left behind had he dared, but he did not dare. Not a
word was said to him as to the marmalade for the children which was
hidden under the seakale, Lady Lufton feeling well aware that that
would find its way to its proper destination without any necessity
for his co-operation. And then Mr Crawley returned home in the
Framley Court gig.
Three or four days after this he walked over to Framley parsonage.
This he did on a Saturday, having learned that the hounds never
hunted on that day; and he started early, so that he might be sure
to catch Mr Robarts before he went out on his parish business. He
was quite early enough to attain this object, for when he reached
the parsonage door at about half-past nine, the vicar, with his
wife and sister, were just sitting down to breakfast. 'Oh,
Crawley,' said Robarts, before the other had well spoken, 'you are
a capital fellow;' and then he got him a chair, and Mrs Robarts had
poured him out tea, and Lucy had surrendered to him a knife and
plate, before he knew under what guise to excuse his coming among
'I hope you will excuse this intrusion,' at last he muttered; 'but
I have a few words of business to which I will request your
'Certainly,' said Robarts, conveying a broiled kidney on to the
plate before Mr Crawley; 'but there is no preparation for business
like a good breakfast. Lucy, where are the eggs?' And then, John,
in livery, brought in the fresh eggs. 'Now, we shall do. I always
eat my eggs while they're hot, Crawley, and I advise you to do the
same.' To all this, Mr Crawley said very little, and he was not at
all home under the circumstances. Perhaps a thought did pass
across his brain, as to the difference between the meal which he
had left on his own table, and that which he now saw before him;
and as to any cause which might exist for such difference. But, if
so, it was a very fleeting thought, for he had far other matter,
now fully occupying his mind. And then the breakfast was over, and
in a few minutes the two clergymen found themselves together in the
'Mr Robarts,' began the senior, when he had seated himself
uncomfortably on one of the ordinary chairs at the farther side of
the well-stored library table, while Mark was sitting at his ease
in his own arm-chair by the fire. 'I have called upon you on an
unpleasant business.' Mark's mind immediately flew off to Mr
Sowerby's bill, but he could not think it possible that Mr Crawley
could have had anything to do with that.
'But as a brother clergyman, and as one who esteems you much and
wishes you well, I have thought myself bound to take this matter in
'What matter is it Crawley?'
'Mr Robarts, men say that your present mode of life is one not
befitting a soldier in Christ's army.'
'Men say so? What men?'
'The men around you, of your own neighbourhood; those who watch
your life, and know all your doings; those who look to see you
walking as a lamp to guide their feet, but find you consorting with
horse-jockeys and hunters, galloping after hounds, and taking your
place among the vainest of worldly pleasure-seekers. Those who
have a right to expect an example of good living, and think they do
not see it.' Mr Crawley had gone at once to the root of the
matter, and in doing so had certainly made his own task much the
easier. There is nothing like going to the root of the matter at
once when one has on hand an unpleasant piece of business.
'And have such men deputed you to come here?'
'No one has or could depute me. I have come to speak my own mind,
not that of any other. But I refer to what those around you think
and say, because it is to them that your duties are due. You owe
it to those around you to live a godly, cleanly life;--as you owe it
also, in a much higher way, to your Father who is in heaven. I now
make bold to ask you whether you are doing your best to lead such a
life as that?' And then he remained silent, waiting for an answer.
He was a singular man; so humble and meek, so unutterably
inefficient and awkward in the ordinary intercourse of life, but one
so bold and enterprising, almost eloquent, on the one subject which
was the work of his mind! As he sat there, he looked into his
companion's face from out his sunken grey eyes with a gaze which
made his victim quail. And then he repeated his words: 'I now make
bold to ask you, Mr Robarts, whether you are doing your best to
lead such a life as may become a parish clergyman among his
parishioners?' And again he paused for an answer.
'There are but few of us,' said Mark, in a low tone, 'who could
safely answer that question in the affirmative.'
'But are there many, think you, among us who would find the
question so unanswerable as yourself? And even were there many,
would you, young, enterprising, and talented as you are, be content
to be numbered among them? Are you satisfied to be a castaway
after you have taken upon yourself Christ's armour? If you will
say so, I am mistaken in you, and will go my way.' There was again
a pause, and then he went on. 'Speak to me, my brother, and open
your heart, if it be possible.' And rising from his chair, he
walked across the room, and laid his hand tenderly upon Mark's
shoulder. Mark had been sitting lounging in his chair, and had at
first, for a moment only, thought to brazen it out. But all idea
of brazening had now left him. He had raised himself from his
comfortable ease, and was leaning forward with his elbow on the
table; but now, when he heard these words, he allowed his head to
sink upon his arms, and he buried his face between his hands.
'It is a terrible falling off,' continued Crawley: 'terrible in the
fall, but doubly terrible through that difficulty of returning. But
it cannot be that it should content you to place yourself as one
among those thoughtless sinners, for the crushing of whose sin you
have been placed among them. You become a hunting parson, and ride
with a happy mind among blasphemers and mocking devils--you, whose
aspirations were so high, who have spoken so often and so well of
the duties of a minister of Christ; you, who can argue in your
pride as to the petty details of your Church, as though the broad
teachings of its great and simple lessons were not enough for your
energies! It cannot be that I have a hypocrite beside me in all
those eager controversies!'
'Not a hypocrite--not a hypocrite,' said Mark, in a tone which was
almost reduced to sobbing.
'But a castaway! Is it so I must call you? No, Mr Robarts, not a
castaway; neither a hypocrite, nor a castaway; but one who in
walking has stumbled in the dark, and bruised his feet among the
stones. Henceforth let him take a lantern in his hand, and look
warily to his path, and walk cautiously among the thorns and
rocks--cautiously, but yet boldly, with manly courage, but
Christian meekness, as all men should walk on their pilgrimage
through this vale of tears.' And then, without giving his
companion time to stop him he hurried out of the room, and from the
house, and without again seeing any of the others of the family,
stalked back on his road to Hogglestock, thus trampling fourteen
miles through the deep mud in performance of the mission on which
he had been sent.
It was some hours before Mr Robarts left his room. As soon as he
found that Crawley was really gone, and that he should see him no
more, he turned the lock of his door, and sat himself down to think
of his present life. At about eleven his wife knocked, not knowing
whether that other strange clergyman were there or no, for none had
seen his departure. But Mark, answering cheerily, desired that he
might be left to his studies. Let us hope that his thoughts and
mental resolves were then of service to him.
MRS PODGENS' BABY
The hunting season had now nearly passed away, and the great ones
of the Barsetshire world were thinking of the glories of London. Of
these glories Lady Lufton always thought with much inquietude of
mind. She would fain have remained throughout the whole year at
Framley Court, did not certain grave considerations render such a
course on her part improper in her own estimation. All the Lady
Luftons of whom she had heard, dowager and ante-dowager, had always
had their seasons in London, till old age had incapacitated them
for such doings--sometimes for clearly long after the arrival of
such period. And then she had an idea, perhaps not altogether
erroneous, that she annually imported back with her into the
country somewhat of the passing civilization of the times:--may we
not say an idea that certainly was not erroneous? For how
otherwise is it that the forms of new caps and remodelled shapes
for women's waists find their way down into agricultural parts, and
that the rural eye learns to appreciate grace and beauty? There
are those who think that remodelled waists and new caps had better
be kept to the towns; but such people, if they would follow out
their own argument, would wish to see plough-boys painted with
ruddle and milkmaids covered with skins. For those and other
reasons Lady Lufton always went to London in April, and stayed
there till the beginning of June. But for her this was usually a
period of penance. In London she was no very great personage. She
had never laid herself out for greatness of that sort, and did not
shine as lady-patroness or state secretary in the female cabinet of
fashion. She was dull and listless, and without congenial pursuits
in London, and spent her happiest moments in reading accounts of
what was being done at Framley, and in writing orders for further
local information of the same kind. But on this occasion there was
a matter of vital import to give an interest of its own to her
visit to town. She was to entertain Griselda Grantly, and, as far
as might be possible, to induce her son to remain in Griselda's
society. The plan of the campaign was to be as follows:--Mrs
Grantly and the archdeacon were in the first place to go up to
London for a month, taking Griselda with them; and then, when they
returned to Plumstead, Griselda was to go to Lady Lufton. This
arrangement was not at all points agreeable to Lady Lufton, for she
knew that Mrs Grantly did not turn her back on the Hartletop people
quite as cordially as she should do, considering the terms of the
Lufton-Grantly family treaty. But then Mrs Grantly might have
alleged in excuse the slow manner in which Lord Lufton was proceeding
in the making and declaring of his love, and the absolute necessity
which there is for two strings to one bow, when one string may be
in any way doubtful. Could it be possible that Mrs Grantly had
heard anything of that unfortunate Platonic friendship with Lucy
There came a letter from Mrs Grantly just about the end of March,
which added much to Lady Lufton's uneasiness, and made her more
than ever anxious to be herself on the scene of action, and to have
Griselda in her own hands. After some communications of mere
ordinary importance with reference to the London world in general
and the Lufton-Grantly world in particular, Mrs Grantly wrote
confidentially about her daughter:--'It would be useless to deny,'
she said, with a mother's pride and a mother's humility, 'that she
is very much admired. She is asked out a great deal more than I
can take her, and to houses to which I myself by no means wish to
go. I could not refuse her as to Lady Hartletop's first ball, for
there will be nothing else yea* like them; and of course when with
you, dear Lady Lufton, that house will be out of the question. So
indeed would it be with me, were I myself only concerned. The duke
was there, of course, and I really wonder Lady Hartletop should not
be more discreet in her own drawing-room when all the world is
there. It is clear to me that Lord Dumbello admires Griselda much
more than I could wish. She, dear girl, has such excellent sense
that I do not think it likely that her head should be turned by it;
but with how many girls would not the admiration of such a man be
irresistible? The marquis, you know, is very feeble, and I am told
that since this rage for building has come on, the Lancashire
property is over two hundred thousand a year! I do not think that
Lord Dumbello has said much to her. Indeed it seems to me that he
never does say much to any one. But he always stands to dance with
her, and I see that he is uneasy and fidgety when she stands up
with any other partner whom he could care about. It was really
embarrassing to see him the other night at Miss Dunstable's, when
Griselda was dancing with a certain friend of ours. But she did
look very well that evening, and I have seldom seen her more
All this, and a great deal more of the same sort in the same
latter, tended to make Lady Lufton anxious to be in London. It was
quite certain--there was no doubt of that, at any rate--that
Griselda would see no more of Lady Hartletop's meretricious
grandeur when she had been transferred to Lady Lufton's
guardianship. And she, Lady Lufton, did wonder that Mrs Grantly
should have taken her daughter to such a house. All about Lady
Hartletop was known to the world. It was known that it was almost
the only house in London at which the Duke of Omnium was constantly
to be met. Lady Lufton herself would almost as soon think of
taking a young girl to Gatherum Castle; and on these accounts she
did feel rather angry with her friend Mrs Grantly. But then
perhaps she did not sufficiently calculate that Mrs Grantly's
letter had been written purposely to produce such feelings--with
the express view of awakening her ladyship to the necessity of
action. Indeed, in such a matter as this, Mrs Grantly was a more
able woman than Lady Lufton--more able to see her way and to follow
it out. The Lufton-Grantly alliance was in her mind the best,
seeing that she did not regard money as everything. But failing
that, the Hartletop-Grantly alliance was not bad. Regarding it as
a second string to her bow, she thought that it was not at all
bad. Lady Lufton's reply was very affectionate. She declared how
happy she was to know that Griselda was enjoying herself; she
insinuated that Lord Dumbello was known to the world as a fool, and
his mother as--being not a bit better than she ought to be; and
then she added that circumstances would bring herself up to town
four days sooner than she had expected, and that she hoped her dear
Griselda would come to her at once. Lord Lufton, she said, though
he would not sleep in Bruton Street--Lady Lufton lived in Bruton
Street--had promised to pass there as much of his time as his
parliamentary duties would permit.
O Lady Lufton! Lady Lufton! did not it occur to you when you
wrote those last words intending that they should have so strong an
effect on the mind of your correspondent that you were telling
a--tarradiddle? Was it not the case that you had said to your son,
in your own dear, kind, motherly way: 'Ludovic, we shall see
something of you in Bruton Street this year, shall we not? Griselda
Grantly will be with me, and we must not let her be dull--must
we?' And then had he not answered, 'Oh, of course, mother,' and
sauntered out of the room, not altogether graciously? Had he, or
you, said a word about his parliamentary duties? Not a word! O
Lady Lufton! have you not written a tarradiddle to your friend? In
these days we are becoming very strict about truth with our
children; terribly strict occasionally, when we consider the
natural weakness of the moral courage at the ages of ten, twelve,
and fourteen. But I do not know that we are at all increasing the
measure of strictness with which we, grown-up people, regulate our
own truth and falsehood. Heaven forbid that I should be thought to
advocate falsehood in children; but an untruth is more pardonable
in them than in parents. Lady Lufton's tarradiddle was of a nature
that is usually considered excusable--at least with grown-up
people; but, nevertheless, she would have been nearer to perfection
could she have confined herself to the truth. Let us suppose that
a boy were to write home from school, saying that another boy had
promised to come and stay with him, that other having given no such
promise--what a very naughty boy would that first boy be in the eyes
of his pastors and masters!
That little conversation between Lord Lufton and his mother--in
which nothing was said about his lordship's parliamentary
duties--took place on the evening before he started for London. On
that occasion he certainly was not in the best humour, nor did he
behave to his mother in the kindest manner. He had then left the
room when she began to talk about Miss Grantly; and once again in
the course of the evening, when his mother, not very judiciously,
said a word or two about Griselda's beauty; he had remarked that
she was no conjurer, and would hardly set the Thames on fire. 'If
she were a conjurer,' said Lady Lufton, rather piqued, 'I should
not now be going to take her out in London. I know many of those
sort of girls whom you call conjurers; they can talk for ever, and
always talk loudly or in a whisper. I don't like them, and I am
sure that you do not in your heart.'
'Oh, as to liking them in my heart--that is being very
'Griselda Grantly is a lady, and as such I shall be happy to have
her with me in town. She is just the girl that Justinia will like
to have with her.'
'Exactly,' said Lord Lufton. 'She will do exceedingly well for
Justinia.' Now this was not good-natured on the part of Lord
Lufton; and his mother felt it the more strongly, inasmuch as it
seemed to signify that he was setting his back up against the
Lufton-Grantly alliance. She had been pretty sure that he would do
so in the event of his suspecting that a plot was being laid to
catch him; and now it almost appeared that he did suspect such a
plot. Why else sarcasm as to Griselda doing very well for his
And now we must go back and describe a little scene at Framley,
which will account for his Lordship's ill-humour and suspicions,
and explain how it came to pass that he so snubbed his mother. This
scene took place about ten days after the evening on which Mrs
Robarts and Lucy were walking together in the parsonage garden, and
during those ten days Lucy had not once allowed herself to be
entrapped into any special conversation with the young peer. She
had dined at Framley Court during that interval, and had spent a
second evening there; Lord Lufton had also been up at the parsonage
on three or four occasions, and had looked for her in her usual
walks; but, nevertheless, they had never come together in their old
familiar way, since the day on which Lady Lufton had hinted her
fears to Mrs Robarts.
Lord Lufton had very much missed her. At first he had not
attributed this change to a purposed scheme of action on the part
of any one; nor, indeed, had he much thought about it, although he
had felt himself to be annoyed. But as the period fixed for his
departure grew near, it did occur to him as very odd that he should
never hear Lucy's voice unless when she said a few words to his
mother, or to her sister-in-law. And then he made up his mind that
he would speak to her before he went, and that the mystery should
be explained to him. And he carried out his purpose, calling at
the parsonage on one special afternoon; and it was on the evening
of the same day that his mother sang the praises of Griselda
Grantly so inopportunely. Robarts, he knew, was then absent from
home, and Mrs Robarts was with his mother down at the house,
preparing lists of the poor people to be specially attended to in
Lady Lufton's approaching absence. Taking advantage of this, he
walked boldly in through the parsonage garden; asked the gardener,
with an indifferent voice, whether either of the ladies were at
home, and then caught poor Lucy exactly on the doorstep of the
'Were you going in or out, Miss Robarts?'
'Well, I was going out,' said Lucy; and she began to consider how
best she might get quit of any prolonged encounter.
'Oh, going out, were you? I don't know whether I may offer to--'
'Well, Lord Lufton, not exactly, seeing that I am about to pay a
visit to our near neighbour, Mrs Podgens. Perhaps, you have no
particular call towards Mrs Podgens's just at present, or to her
'And have you any particular call that way?'
'Yes, and especially to Baby Podgens. Baby Podgens is a real
little duck--only just two days old.' And Lucy, as she spoke,
progressed a step or two, as though she were determined not to
remain there talking on the doorstep. A slight cloud came across
his brow as he saw this, and made him resolve that she should not
gain her purpose. He was not going to be foiled in that way by
such a girl as Lucy Robarts. He had come there to speak to her,
and speak to her he would. There had been enough of intimacy
between them to justify him in demanding, at any rate, as much as
'Miss Robarts,' he said, 'I am starting for London to-morrow, and
if I do not say good-bye to you now, I shall not be able to do so
'Good-bye, Lord Lufton,' she said, giving him her hand, and smiling
on him with her old genial, good-humoured, racy smile. 'And mind
you bring into Parliament that law which you promised me for
defending my young chickens.'
He took her hand, but that was not all he wanted. 'Surely Mrs
Podgens and her baby can wait ten minutes. I shall not see you
again for months to come, and yet you seem to begrudge me two
'Not two hundred if they can be of any service to you,' said she,
walking cheerily back into the drawing-room; 'only I did not think
it worth while to waste your time, as Fanny is not here.' She was
infinitely more collected, more master of herself than he was.
Inwardly, she did tremble at the idea of what was coming, but
outwardly she showed no agitation--none as yet; if only she could
so possess herself as to refrain from doing so, when she heard what
he might have to say to her.
He hardly knew what it was for the saying of which he had so
resolutely come hither. He had by no means made up his mind that
he loved Lucy Robarts; nor had he made up his mind that, loving
her, he would, or that, loving her, he would not, make her his
wife. He had never used his mind in the matter in any way, either
for good or evil. He had learned to like her and to think that she
was very pretty. He had found out that it was very pleasant to
talk to her; whereas, talking to Griselda Grantly, and, indeed, to
some other young ladies of his acquaintance, was often hard work.
The half-hours which he had spent with Lucy had always been
satisfactory to him. He had found himself to be more bright with
her than with other people, and more apt to discuss subjects worth
discussing; and thus it had come about that he thoroughly liked
Lucy Robarts. As to whether his affection was Platonic or
anti-Platonic he had never asked himself; but he had spoken
words to her, shortly before that sudden cessation of their
intimacy, which might have been taken as anti-Platonic by any girl
so disposed to regard them. He had not thrown himself at her feet,
and declared himself to be devoured by a consuming passion; but he
had touched her hand as lovers touch those of women whom they love;
he had had his confidences with her, talking to her of his own
mother, of his sister, and of his friends; and he had called her
his own dear friend Lucy. All this had been very sweet to her, but
very poisonous also. She had declared to herself very frequently
that her liking for this young nobleman was purely a feeling of
mere friendship as was that of her brother; and she had professed
to herself that she would give the lie to the world's cold sarcasms
on such subjects. But she had now acknowledged that the sarcasms
of the world on that matter, cold though they may be, are not the
less true; and having so acknowledged, she had resolved that all
close alliance between herself and Lord Lufton must be at an end.
She had come to a conclusion, but he had come to none; and in this
frame of mind he was now there with the object of reopening that
dangerous friendship which she had had the sense to close.
'And so you are going to-morrow?' she said, as soon as they were
both within the drawing-room.
'Yes: I'm off by the early train to-morrow morning, and Heaven
knows when we may meet again.'
'Next winter, shall we not?'
'Yes, for a day or two, I suppose. I do not know whether I shall
pass another winter here. Indeed, one can never say where one will
'No, one can't; such as you, at least, cannot. I am not of a
migratory tribe myself.'
'I wish you were.'
'I'm not a bit obliged to you. Your nomad life does not agree with
'I think they are taking to it pretty freely then. We have
unprotected young women all about the world.'
'And great bores you find them, I suppose?'
'No; I like it. The more we can get out of old-fashioned grooves
the better I am pleased. I should be a Radical to-morrow--a
regular man of the people--only I should break my mother's heart.'
'Whatever you do, Lord Lufton, do not do that.'
'That is why I like you so much,' he continued, 'because you
get out of the grooves.'
'Yes; and go along by yourself, guiding your own footsteps; not
carried hither and thither, just as your grandmother's old tramway
may chance to take you.'
'Do you know I have a strong idea that my grandmother's old tramway
will be the safest and the best after all? I have not left it very
far, and I certainly mean to go back to it.'
'That's impossible! An army of old women, with coils of rope made
out of time-honoured prejudices, could not draw you back.'
'No, Lord Lufton, that is true. But one--' and then she stopped
herself. She could not tell him that one loving mother, anxious
for her only son, had sufficed to do it. She could not explain to
him that this departure from the established tramway had already
broken her own rest, and turned her peaceful happy life into a
'I know you are trying to go back,' he said. 'Do you think that I
have eyes and cannot see? Come, Lucy, you and I have been friends,
and we must not part in this way. My mother is a paragon among
women. I say it in earnest;--a paragon among women: and her love
for me is the perfection of motherly love.'
'It is, it is; and I am so glad that you acknowledge it.'
'I should be worse than a brute did I not do so; but, nevertheless,
I cannot allow her to lead me in all things. Were I to do so, I
should cease to be a man.'
'Where can you find any one who will counsel you so truly?'
'But, nevertheless, I must rule myself. I do not know whether my
suspicions may be perfectly just, but I fancy that she has created
this estrangement between you and me. Has it not been so?'
'Certainly not by speaking to me,' said Lucy, blushing ruby-red
through every vein of her deep-tinted face. But though she could
not command her blood, her voice was still under her control--her
voice and her manner.
'But has she not done so? You, I know, will tell me nothing but
'I will tell you nothing on this matter, Lord Lufton, whether true
or false. It is a subject on which it does not concern me to
'Ah! I understand,' he said; and rising from his chair, he stood
against the chimney-piece with his back to the fire. 'She cannot
leave me alone to choose for myself, my friends, and my own--;' but
he did not fill up the void.
'But why tell me this, Lord Lufton?'
'No! I am not to choose my own friends, though they be amongst the
best and purest of God's creatures. Lucy, I cannot think that you
have ceased to have a regard for me. That you had a regard for me,
I am sure.' She felt that it was most unmanly of him to seek her
out, and hunt her down, and then throw upon her the whole weight of
the explanation that his coming thither made necessary. But,
nevertheless, the truth must be told, and with God's help she would
find strength for the telling of it.
'Yes, Lord Lufton, I had a regard for you--and have. By that word
you mean something more than the customary feeling of acquaintance
which may ordinarily prevail between a gentleman and a lady of
different families, who have known each other so short a time as we
'Yes, something much more,' said he with energy.
'Well, I will not define the much--something closer than that?'
'Yes, and warmer, and dearer, and more worthy of two human
creatures who value each other's minds and hearts.'
'Some such closer regard I have felt for you--very foolishly.
Stop! You have made me speak, and do not interrupt me now. Does
not your conscience tell you that in doing so I have unwisely
deserted those wise old grandmother's tramways of which you spoke
just now? It has been pleasant to me to do so. I have liked the
feeling of independence with which I thought that I might indulge
in an open friendship with such as you are. And your rank, so
different from my own, has doubtless made this more attractive.'
'Ah! but it has. I know it now. But what will the world say of
me as to such an alliance?'
'Yes, the world. I am not such a philosopher as to disregard it,
though you may afford to do so. The world will say that, I, the
parson's sister, set my cap at the young lord, and that the young
lord has made a fool of me.'
'The world shall say no such thing!' said Lord Lufton, very
'Ah! but it will. You can no more stop it, than King Canute could
the waters. Your mother has interfered wisely to spare me from
this; and the only favour that I can ask you is, that you will
spare me also.' And then she got up, as though she intended at
once to walk forth to her visit to Mrs Podgens's baby.
'Stop, Lucy!' he said, putting himself between her and the door.
'It must not be Lucy any longer, Lord Lufton; I was madly foolish
when I first allowed it.'
'By heavens! But it shall be Lucy--Lucy before all the world. My
Lucy, my own Lucy--my heart's best friend, and chosen love. Lucy,
there is my hand. How long you may have had my heart it matters
not to say now.' The game was at her feet now, and no doubt she
felt her triumph. Her ready wit and speaking lip, not her beauty,
had brought him to her side; and now he was forced to acknowledge
that her power over him had been supreme. Sooner than leave her he
would risk all. She did feel her triumph; but there was nothing in
her face to tell him that she did so. As to what she would now do
she did not for a moment doubt. He had been precipitated into the
declaration he had made not by his love, but by his embarrassment.
She had thrown in his teeth the injury which he had done her, and
he had then been moved by his generosity to repair that injury by
the noblest sacrifice which he could make. But Lucy Robarts was
not the girl to accept a sacrifice. He had stepped forward, as
though he were going to clasp her round the waist, but she receded,
and got beyond the reach of his hand. 'Lord Lufton!' she said,
'when you are more cool you will know that this is wrong. The best
for both of us now is to part.'
'Not the best thing, but the very worst, till we perfectly
understand each other.'
'Then perfectly understand me, that I cannot be your wife.'
'Lucy! do you mean that you cannot learn to love me?'
'I mean that I shall not try. Do not persevere in this, or you
will have to hate yourself for your own folly.'
'But I will persevere till you accept my love, or say with your
hand on your heart that you cannot and will not love me.'
'Then I must beg you to let me go,' and having so said, she paused
while he walked once or twice hurriedly up and down the room. 'And
Lord Lufton,' she continued, 'if you will leave me now, the words
you have spoken shall be as though they had never been uttered.'
'I care not who knows they have been uttered. The sooner that they
are known to all the world the better I shall be pleased, unless
'Think of your mother, Lord Lufton.'
'What can I do better than give her as a daughter the best and
sweetest girl I have ever met? When my mother really knows you,
she will love you as I do. Lucy, say one word to me of comfort.'
'I will say no word that shall injure your future comfort. It is
impossible that I should be your wife.'
'Do you mean that you cannot love me?'
'You have no right to press me any further,' she said; and sat down
upon the sofa, with an angry frown upon her forehead.
'By heavens,' he said, 'I will take no such answer from you till
you put your hand upon your heart, and say that you cannot love
'Oh, why should you press me so, Lord Lufton?'
'Why, because my happiness depends upon it; because it behoves me
to know the very truth. It has come to this, that I love you with
my whole heart, and I must know how your heart stands towards me.'
She had now again risen from the sofa, and was looking steadily in
'Lord Lufton,' she said, 'I cannot love you,' and as she spoke she
did put her hand, as he had desired, upon her heart.
'Then God help me! for I am wretched. Good-bye, Lucy,' and he
stretched his hand to her.
'Good-bye, my lord. Do not be angry with me.'
'No, no, no!' and without further speech he left the room, and the
house and hurried home. It was hardly surprising that he should
that evening tell his mother that Griselda Grantly would be a
companion sufficiently good for his sister. He wanted no such
And when he was well gone--absolutely out of sight from the
window--Lucy walked steadily up to her room, locked the door, and
then threw herself on the bed. Why--oh! why had she told such a
falsehood? Could anything justify her in a lie? was it not a
lie--knowing as she did that she loved him with all her loving
heart? But, then, his mother! and the sneers of the world, which
would have declared that she had set her trap, and caught the
foolish young lord! Her pride would not have submitted to that.
Strong as her love was, yet her pride was, perhaps stronger--
stronger at any rate during that interview. But how was
she to forgive herself the falsehood she had told?
MRS PROUDIE'S CONVERSAZIONE
It was grievous to think of the mischief and danger into which
Griselda Grantly was brought by the worldliness of her mother in
those few weeks previous to Lady Lufton's arrival in town--very
grievous, at least, to her ladyship, as from time to time she heard
of what was done in London. Lady Hartletop's was not the only
objectionable house at which Griselda was allowed to reap fresh
fashionable laurels. It had been stated openly in the Morning Post
that that young lady had been the most admired among the beautiful
at one of Miss Dunstable's celebrated soirees and then she was
heard of as gracing the drawing-room at Mrs Proudie's
Of Miss Dunstable herself Lady Lufton was not able openly to allege
any evil. She was acquainted, Lady Lufton knew, with very many
people of the right sort, and was the dear friend of Lady Lufton's
highly conservative and not very distant neighbours, the Greshams.
But then she was also acquainted with so many people of the bad
sort. Indeed, she was intimate with everybody, from the Duke of
Omnium to old Dowager Lady Goodgaffer, who had represented all the
cardinal virtues of the last quarter of a century. She smiled with
equal sweetness on treacle and on brimstone; was quite at home at
Exeter Hall, having been consulted--so the world said, probably not
with exact truth--as to the selection of more than one disagreeable
Low Church bishop; and was not less frequent in her attendance at
the ecclesiastical doings of a certain terrible prelate in the
Midland counties, who was supposed to favour stoles and vespers,
and to have no proper Protestant hatred for auricular confession
and fish on Fridays. Lady Lufton, who was very staunch, did not
like this, and would say of Miss Dunstable that it was impossible
to serve both God and Mammon. But Mrs Proudie was much more
objectionable to her. Seeing how sharp was the feud between the
Proudies and the Grantlys down in Barsetshire, how absolutely
unable they had always been to carry a decent face towards each
other in Church matters, how they headed two parties in the
diocese, which were, when brought together, as oil and vinegar, in
which battles the whole Lufton influence had always been brought to
bear on the Grantly side;--seeing all this, I say, Lady Lufton was
surprised to hear that Griselda had been taken to Mrs Proudie's
evening exhibition. 'Had the archdeacon been consulted about it,'
she said to herself, 'this would never have happened.' But there
she was wrong, for in matters concerning his daughter's
introduction to the world the archdeacon never interfered.
On the whole, I am inclined to think that Mrs Grantly understood
the world better than did Lady Lufton. In her heart of hearts Mrs
Grantly hated Mrs Proudie--that is, with that sort of hatred one
Christian lady allows herself to feel towards another. Of course
Mrs Grantly forgave Mrs Proudie all her offences, and wished her
well, and was at peace with her, in the Christian sense of the
word, as with all other women. But under this forbearance and
meekness, and perhaps, we may say, wholly unconnected with it,
there was certainly a current of antagonistic feeling which, in the
ordinary unconsidered language of every day, men and women do call
hatred. This raged before the eyes of all mankind. But,
nevertheless, Mrs Grantly took Griselda to Mrs Proudie's evening
parties in London. In these days Mrs Proudie considered herself to
be by no means the least among bishop's wives. She had opened the
season this year in a new house in Gloucester Place, at which the
reception rooms, at any rate, were all that a lady bishop could
desire. Here she had a front drawing-room of very noble
dimensions, a second drawing-room rather noble also, though it had
lost one of its back corners awkwardly enough, apparently in a
jostle with the neighbouring house; and then there was a
third--shall we say drawing-room, or closet?---in which Mrs Proudie
delighted to be seen sitting, in order that the world might know
that there was a third room; altogether a noble suite, as Mrs
Proudie herself said in confidence to more than one clergyman's
wife from Barsetshire. 'A noble suite, indeed Mrs Proudie!' the
clergymen's wives from Barsetshire would usually answer.
For some time Mrs Proudie was much at a loss to know by what sort
of party or entertainment she would make herself famous. Balls and
suppers were of course out of the question. She did not object to
her daughters dancing all night at other houses--at least, of late
she had not objected, for the fashionable world required it, and
the young ladies had perhaps a will of their own--but dancing at
her house--absolutely under the shade of the bishop's apron--would
be a sin and a scandal. And then as to suppers--of all modes in
which one may extend one's hospitality to a large acquaintance,
they are the most costly. 'It is horrid to think that we should go
out among our friends for the mere sake of eating and drinking,'
Mrs Proudie would say to the clergymen's wives from Barsetshire.
'It shows such a sense of sensual propensity.'
'Indeed it does, Mrs Proudie; and is so vulgar too!' those ladies
would reply. But the elder among them would remember with regret,
the unsparing, open-handed hospitality of Barchester Palace in the
good old days of Bishop Grantly--God rest his soul! One old
vicar's wife there was whose answer had not been so courteous--
'When we are hungry, Mrs Proudie,' she had said, 'we do all have
'It would be much better, Mrs Athill, if the world would provide
for all that at home,' Mrs Proudie had rapidly replied; with which
opinion I must here profess that I cannot by any means bring myself
to coincide. But a conversazione would give play to no sensual
propensity, nor occasion that intolerable expense which the
gratification of sensual propensities too often produce. Mrs
Proudie felt that the word was not at all that she could have
desired. It was a little faded by old use and present oblivion,
and seemed to address itself to that portion of the London world
that is considered blue, rather than fashionable. But,
nevertheless, there was a spirituality about it which suited her,
and one may also say an economy. And then as regarded fashion, it
might perhaps not be beyond the power of a Mrs Proudie to begild
the word with a newly burnished gilding. Some leading person must
produce fashion at first hand, and why not Mrs Proudie?
Her plan was to set the people by the ears talking, if talk they
would, or to induce them to show themselves there inert if no more
be could got from them. To accommodate with chairs and sofas as
many as the furniture of her noble suite of rooms would allow,
especially with the two chairs and padded bench against the walls
in the back closet--the small inner drawing-room, as she
would call it to the clergymen's wives from Barsetshire--and to
let the others stand about upright, or 'group themselves' as she
described it. Then four times during the two hours' period of her
conversazione tea and cake were to be handed around on salvers. It
is astonishing how far a very little cake will go in this way,
particularly if administered tolerably early after dinner. The men
can't eat it, and the women, having no plates and no table, are
obliged to abstain. Mrs Jones knows she cannot hold a piece of
crumbly cake in her hand till it be consumed without doing serious
injury to her best dress. When Mrs Proudie, with her weekly books
before her, looked into the financial upshot of her conversazione,
her conscience told her that she had done the right thing. Going
out to tea is not a bad thing, if one can contrive to dine early,
and then be allowed to sit round a big table with a tea urn in the
middle. I would, however, suggest that breakfast cups should
always be provided for the gentlemen. And then with pleasant
neighbours,--or more especially with a pleasant neighbour,--the
affair is not, according to my taste, by any means the worst phase
of society. But I do dislike that handing round, unless it be of a
subsidiary thimbleful when the business of the social intercourse
has been dinner.
And indeed this handing round has become a vulgar and an
intolerable nuisance among us second-class gentry with our eight
hundred a year--there or thereabouts;--doubly intolerable as being
destructive of our natural comforts, and a wretchedly vulgar aping
of men with large incomes. The Duke of Omnium and Lady Hartletop
are undoubtedly wise to have everything handed round. Friends of
mine who occasionally dine at such houses tell me that they get
their wine quite as quickly as they can drink it, that their mutton
is brought to them without delay, and that the potato bearer
follows quick upon the heels of carnifer. Nothing can be more
comfortable, and we may no doubt acknowledge that these first-class
grandees do understand their material comforts. But we of the
eight hundred can no more come up to them in this than we can in
their opera-boxes and equipages. May I not say that the usual
tether of this class, in the way of carnifers, cupbearers, and the
rest, does not reach beyond neat-handed Phyllis and the
greengrocer? and that Phyllis, neat-handed as she probably is, and
the greengrocer, though he be ever so active, cannot administer a
dinner to twelve people who are prohibited by a Medo-Persian law
from all self-administration whatever? And may I not further say
that the lamentable consequence to us eight hundreders, dining out
among each other is this, that we too often get no dinner at all.
Phyllis, with the potatoes, cannot reach us till our mutton is
devoured, or in a lukewarm state past our power of managing; and
Ganymede, the greengrocer, though we admire the skill of his
necktie and the whiteness of his unexceptionable gloves, fails to
keep us going in sherry. Seeing a lady the other day in this
strait, left without a small modicum of stimulus which was no doubt
necessary for her good digestion. I ventured to ask her to drink
wine with me. But when I bowed my head at her, she looked at me
with all her eyes, struck with amazement. Had I suggested that she
should join me in a wild Indian war-dance, with nothing on but
paint, her face could not have shown greater astonishment. And yet
I should have thought she might have remembered the days when
Christian men and women used to drink wine with each other. God be
with the good old days when I could hob-nob with my friend over the
table as often as I was inclined to lift my glass to my lips, and
make a long arm for the hot-potato whenever the exigencies of my
plate required it.
I think it may be laid down as a rule in affairs of hospitality,
that whatever extra luxury or grandeur we introduce at our tables
when guests are with us, should be introduced for the advantage of
the guest and not for our own. If, for instance, our dinner be
served in a manner different from that usual to us, it should be so
served in order that our friends may with more satisfaction eat our
repast than our everyday practice would produce on them. But the
change should by no means be made to their material detriment in
order that our fashion may be acknowledged. Again, if I decorate my
sideboard and table, wishing that the eyes of my visitors may rest
on that which is elegant and pleasant to the sight, I act in that
matter with a becoming sense of hospitality; but if my object be to
kill Mrs Jones with envy at the sight of all my silver trinkets, I
am a very mean-spirited fellow. This, in a broad way, will be
acknowledged; but if we would bear in mind the same idea at all
times,--on occasions when the way perhaps may not be so broad, when
more thinking may be required to ascertain what is true
hospitality,--I think we of the eight hundred would make a greater
advance towards really entertaining our own friends than by any
rearrangement of the actual meats and dishes which we set before
Knowing as we do, that the terms of the Lufton-Grantly alliance had
been so solemnly ratified between the two mothers, it is perhaps
hardly open to us to suppose that Mrs Grantly was induced to take
her daughter to Mrs Proudie's by any knowledge which she may have
acquired that Lord Dumbello had promised to grace the bishop's
assembly. It is certainly the fact that high contracting parties
do sometimes allow themselves a latitude which would be considered
dishonest by contractors of a lower sort; and it may be possible
that the archdeacon's wife did think of that second string with
which her bow was furnished. Be that as it may, Lord Dumbello was
at Mrs Proudie's, and it did so come to pass that Griselda was
seated at a corner of a sofa close to which a vacant space in which
his lordship could--"group himself". They had not been long there
before Lord Dumbello did group himself. 'Fine day,' he said,
coming up and occupying the vacant position by Miss Grantly's
'We are driving to-day, and we thought it rather cold,' said
'Deuced cold,' said Lord Dumbello, and then he adjusted his white
cravat and touched up his whiskers. Having got so far, he did not
proceed to any immediate conversational efforts; nor did Griselda.
But he grouped himself again as became a marquis, and gave very
intense satisfaction to Mrs Proudie.
'This is so kind of you, Lord Dumbello,' said that lady, coming up
to him and shaking his hand warmly; 'so very kind of you to come to
my poor little tea-party.'
'Uncommonly pleasant, I call it,' said his lordship. 'I like this
sort of thing--no trouble, you know.'
'No; that is the charm of it; isn't it? no trouble, or fuss, or
parade. That's what I always say. According to my ideas, society
consists in giving people facility for an interchange of
thoughts--what we call conversation.'
'Aw, yes, exactly.'
'Not in eating and drinking together--eh, Lord Dumbello? And yet
the practice of our lives would seem to show that the indulgence of
this animal propensities can alone suffice to bring people
together. The world in this has surely made a great mistake.'
'I like a good dinner all the same,' said Lord Dumbello.
'Oh, yes, of course--of course. I am by no means one of those who
would pretend to preach that our tastes have not been given to us
for our enjoyment. Why should things be nice if we are not to like
'A man who can really give a good dinner has learned a great deal,'
said Lord Dumbello, with unusual animation.
'An immense deal. It is quite an art in itself: and one which I,
at any rate, by no means despise. But we cannot always be
'No,' said Lord Dumbello, 'not always.' And he looked as though he
lamented that his powers should be so circumscribed. And then Mrs
Proudie passed on to Mrs Grantly. The two ladies were quite
friendly in London; though down in their own neighbourhood they
waged a war so internecine in its nature. But nevertheless Mrs
Proudie's manner might have showed to a very close observer that
she knew the difference between a bishop and an archdeacon. 'I am
delighted to see you,' said she. 'No, don't mind moving; I won't
sit down just at present. But why didn't the archdeacon come?'
'It was quite impossible; it was indeed,' said Mrs Grantly. 'The
archdeacon never has a moment in London that he can call his own.'
'You don't stay up very long, I believe.'
'A good deal longer than either of us like, I can assure you.
London life is a perfect nuisance to me.'
'But people in a certain position must go through with it, you
know,' said Mrs Proudie. 'The bishop, for instance, must attend
'Must he?' asked Mrs Grantly, as though she were not at all well
informed with reference to this branch of a bishop's business. 'I
am very glad that archdeacons are under no such liability.'
'Oh, no; there's nothing of that sort,' said Mrs Proudie, very
seriously. 'But how uncommonly well Miss Grantly is looking! I do
hear that she has quite been admired.' This phrase certainly was a
little hard for the mother to bear. All the world had acknowledged,
so Mrs Grantly had taught herself to believe, that Griselda was
undoubtedly the beauty of the season. Marquises and lords were
already contending for her smiles, and paragraphs had been written
in newspapers as to her profile. It was too hard to be told, after
that, that her daughter had been 'quite admired.' Such a phrase
might suit a pretty little red-cheeked milkmaid of a girl.
'She cannot, of course, come near your girls in that respect,' said
Mrs Grantly, very quietly. Now the Miss Proudies had not elicited
from the fashionable world any very loud encomiums on their
beauty. Their mother felt the taunt in its fullest force, but she
would not essay to do battle on the present arena. She jotted down
the item in her mind, and kept it over for Barchester and the
chapter. Such debts as those she usually paid on some day, if the
means of doing so were at all within her power. 'But there is Miss
Dunstable, I declare,' she said, seeing that that lady had entered
the room; and away went Mrs Proudie to welcome her distinguished
'And so this is a conversazione, is it,' said that lady, speaking,
as usual, not in a suppressed voice. 'Well, I declare, it's very
nice. It means conversation, don't it, Mrs Proudie?'
'Ha, ha, ha! Miss Dunstable, there is nobody like you, I declare.'
'Well, but don't it? and tea and cake? and then, when we're tired
of talking, we go away, isn't that it?'
'But you must not be tired for these three hours yet.'
'Oh, I am never tired of talking; all the world knows that. How
do, bishop? A very nice sort of thing this conversazione, isn't it
now?' The bishop rubbed his hands together and smiled, and said
that he thought it was rather nice.
'Mrs Proudie is so fortunate in all her little arrangements,' said
'Yes, yes,' said the bishop. 'I think she is happy in these
matters. I do flatter myself that she is so. Of course, Miss
Dunstable, you are accustomed to things on a much grander scale.'
'I! Lord bless you, no! Nobody hates grandeur so much as I do.
Of course I must do as I am told. I must live in a big house, and
have three footmen six feet high. I must have a coachman with a
top-heavy wig, and horses so big that they frighten me. If I did
not, I should be made out a lunatic and declared unable to manage
my own affairs. But as for grandeur, I hate it. I certainly think
that I shall have some of these conversaziones. I wonder whether
Mrs Proudie will come and put me up to a wrinkle or two.' The
bishop again rubbed his hands, and said that he was sure she would.
He never felt quite at his ease with Miss Dunstable, as he rarely
could ascertain whether or no she was earnest in what she was
saying. So he trotted off, muttering some excuse as he went, and
Miss Dunstable chuckled with an inward chuckle at his too evident
bewilderment. Miss Dunstable was by nature kind, generous, and
open-hearted; but she was living now very much with people who,
kindness, generosity, and open-heartedness were thrown away. She
was clever also, and could be sarcastic; and she found that those
qualities told better in the world around her than generosity and
an open heart. And so she went on from month to month, and year to
year, not progressing in a good spirit as she might have done, but
still carrying within her bosom a warm affection for those she
could really love. And she knew that she was hardly living as she
should live,--that the wealth which she affected to despise was
eating into the soundness of her character, not by its splendour,
but by the style of life which it had seemed to produce as a
necessity. She knew that she was gradually becoming irreverent,
scornful, and prone to ridicule; but yet, knowing this, and hating
it, she hardly knew how to break from it. She had seen so much of
the blacker side of human nature that blackness no longer startled
her as it should do. She had been the prize at which so many
ruined spendthrifts had aimed; so many pirates had endeavoured to
run her down while sailing in the open waters of life, that she had
ceased to regard such attempts on her money-bags as unmanly or
over-covetous. She was content to fight her own battle with her
own weapons, feeling secure in her own strength of purpose and
strength of wit.
Some few friends she had whom she really loved,--among whom her
inner self could come out and speak boldly what it had to say with
its own true voice. And the woman who thus so spoke was very
different from that Miss Dunstable whom Mrs Proudie courted, and
the Duke of Omnium feted, and Mrs Harold Smith claimed as her bosom
friend. If only she could find among such one special companion on
whom her heart might rest, who would help her to bear the heavy
burdens of her world! But where was she to find such a
friend?---she with her keen wit, her untold money, and loud
laughing voice. Everything about her was calculated to attract
those whom she could not value, and to scare from her the sort of
friend to whom she would fain have linked her lot. And then she
met Mrs Harold Smith, who had taken Mrs Proudie's noble suite of
rooms in her tour of the evening, and was devoting to them a period
of twenty minutes. 'And so I may congratulate you,' Miss Dunstable
said eagerly to her friend.
'No, in mercy's name, do no such thing, or you may too probably
have to uncongratulate me again; and that will be so unpleasant.'
'But they told me that Lord Brock had sent for him yesterday.' Now
at this period Lord Brock was Prime Minister.
'So he did, and Harold was with him backwards and forwards all the
day. But he can't shut his eyes and open his mouth, and see what
God will send him, as a wise and prudent man should do. He is
always for bargaining, and no Prime Minister likes that.'
'I would not be in his shoes if, after all, he has to come home and
say that the bargain is off.'
'Ha, ha, ha! Well I should not take it very quietly. But what can
we poor women do, you know? When it is settled, my dear, I'll send
you a line at once.' And then Mrs Harold Smith finished her course
round the rooms, and regained her carriage within the twenty
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