Part 2 out of 5
quiet possession of the good things he had, if he chose to retain
them. No; he would have done so from the sheer love of
quiet, and from a horror of being made the subject of public
talk. He had very often been moved to pity--to that inward
weeping of the heart for others' woes; but none had he ever
pitied more than that old lord, whose almost fabulous wealth,
drawn from his church preferments, had become the subject
of so much opprobrium, of such public scorn; that wretched
clerical octogenarian Croesus, whom men would not allow to
die in peace--whom all the world united to decry and to abhor.
Was he to suffer such a fate? Was his humble name to be
bandied in men's mouths, as the gormandiser of the resources
of the poor, as of one who had filched from the charity of other
ages wealth which had been intended to relieve the old and the
infirm? Was he to be gibbeted in the press, to become a byword
for oppression, to be named as an example of the greed of the
English church? Should it ever be said that he had robbed those
old men, whom he so truly and so tenderly loved in his heart
of hearts? As he slowly paced, hour after hour, under those noble
lime-trees, turning these sad thoughts within him, he became all
but fixed in his resolve that some great step must be taken to
relieve him from the risk of so terrible a fate.
In the meanwhile, the archdeacon, with contented mind and
unruffled spirit, went about his business. He said a word or
two to Mr Chadwick, and then finding, as he expected, the
petition lying in his father's library, he wrote a short answer to
the men, in which he told them that they had no evils to
redress, but rather great mercies for which to be thankful;
and having seen the bishop sign it, he got into his brougham
and returned home to Mrs Grantly, and Plumstead Episcopi.
The Warden's Tea Party
After much painful doubting, on one thing only could
Mr Harding resolve. He determined that at any rate he
would take no offence, and that he would make this question
no cause of quarrel either with Bold or with the bedesmen. In
furtherance of this resolution, he himself wrote a note to Mr
Bold, the same afternoon, inviting him to meet a few friends
and hear some music on an evening named in the next week.
Had not this little party been promised to Eleanor, in his
present state of mind he would probably have avoided such
gaiety; but the promise had been given, the invitations were
to be written, and when Eleanor consulted her father on the
subject, she was not ill pleased to hear him say, 'Oh, I was
thinking of Bold, so I took it into my head to write to him
myself, but you must write to his sister.'
Mary Bold was older than her brother, and, at the time of
our story, was just over thirty. She was not an unattractive
young woman, though by no means beautiful. Her great
merit was the kindliness of her disposition. She was not very
clever, nor very animated, nor had she apparently the energy
of her brother; but she was guided by a high principle of right
and wrong; her temper was sweet, and her faults were fewer
in number than her virtues. Those who casually met Mary
Bold thought little of her; but those who knew her well loved
her well, and the longer they knew her the more they loved
her. Among those who were fondest of her was Eleanor
Harding; and though Eleanor had never openly talked to her
of her brother, each understood the other's feelings about him.
The brother and sister were sitting together when the two
notes were brought in.
'How odd,' said Mary, 'that they should send two notes.
Well, if Mr Harding becomes fashionable, the world is going
Her brother understood immediately the nature and intention
of the peace-offering; but it was not so easy for him to
behave well in the matter, as it was for Mr Harding. It is
much less difficult for the sufferer to be generous than for the
oppressor. John Bold felt that he could not go to the warden's
party: he never loved Eleanor better than he did now; he
had never so strongly felt how anxious he was to make her his
wife as now, when so many obstacles to his doing so appeared
in view. Yet here was her father himself, as it were, clearing
away those very obstacles, and still he felt that he could not go
to the house any more as an open friend.
As he sat thinking of these things with the note in his hand,
his sister was waiting for his decision.
'Well,' said she, 'I suppose we must write separate answers,
and both say we shall be very happy.'
'You'll go, of course, Mary,' said he; to which she readily
assented. 'I cannot,' he continued, looking serious and
gloomy. 'I wish I could, with all my heart.'
'And why not, John?' said she. She had as yet heard
nothing of the new-found abuse which her brother was about
to reform--at least nothing which connected it with her
He sat thinking for a while till he determined that it would
be best to tell her at once what it was that he was about: it
must be done sooner or later.
'I fear I cannot go to Mr Harding's house any more as a
friend, just at present.'
'Oh, John! Why not? Ah, you've quarrelled with Eleanor!'
'No, indeed,' said he; 'I've no quarrel with her as yet.'
'What is it, John?' said she, looking at him with an anxious,
loving face, for she knew well how much of his heart was there
in that house which he said he could no longer enter.
'Why,' said he at last, 'I've taken up the case of these
twelve old men of Hiram's Hospital, and of course that brings
me into contact with Mr Harding. I may have to oppose
him, interfere with him, perhaps injure him.'
Mary looked at him steadily for some time before she committed
herself to reply, and then merely asked him what he meant to do
for the old men.
'Why, it's a long story, and I don't know that I can make
you understand it. John Hiram made a will, and left his
property in charity for certain poor old men, and the proceeds,
instead of going to the benefit of these men, goes chiefly into
the pocket of the warden and the bishop's steward.'
'And you mean to take away from Mr Harding his share of it?'
'I don't know what I mean yet. I mean to inquire about it.
I mean to see who is entitled to this property. I mean to see,
if I can, that justice be done to the poor of the city of Barchester
generally, who are, in fact, the legatees under the will. I mean,
in short, to put the matter right, if I can.'
'And why are you to do this, John?'
'You might ask the same question of anybody else,' said he;
'and according to that the duty of righting these poor men
would belong to nobody. If we are to act on that principle,
the weak are never to be protected, injustice is never to be
opposed, and no one is to struggle for the poor!' And Bold
began to comfort himself in the warmth of his own virtue.
'But is there no one to do this but you, who have known
Mr Harding so long? Surely, John, as a friend, as a young
friend, so much younger than Mr Harding--'
'That's woman's logic, all over, Mary. What has age to
do with it? Another man might plead that he was too old;
and as to his friendship, if the thing itself be right, private
motives should never be allowed to interfere. Because I
esteem Mr Harding, is that a reason that I should neglect a
duty which I owe to these old men? or should I give up a
work which my conscience tells me is a good one, because I
regret the loss of his society?'
'And Eleanor, John?' said the sister, looking timidly into
her brother's face.
'Eleanor, that is, Miss Harding, if she thinks fit--that is, if
her father--or, rather, if she--or, indeed, he--if they find it
necessary--but there is no necessity now to talk about Eleanor
Harding; but this I will say, that if she has the kind of spirit
for which I give her credit, she will not condemn me for doing
what I think to be a duty.' And Bold consoled himself with
the consolation of a Roman.
Mary sat silent for a while, till at last her brother reminded
her that the notes must be answered, and she got up, and
placed her desk before her, took out her pen and paper,
wrote on it slowly:
'MY DEAR ELEANOR,
and then stopped, and looked at her brother.
'Well, Mary, why don't you write it?'
'Oh, John,' said she, 'dear John, pray think better of this.'
'Think better of what?' said he.
'Of this about the hospital--of all this about Mr Harding--
of what you say about those old men. Nothing can call upon
you--no duty can require you to set yourself against your
oldest, your best friend. Oh, John, think of Eleanor. You'll
break her heart, and your own.'
'Nonsense, Mary; Miss Harding's heart is as safe as yours.'
'Pray, pray, for my sake, John, give it up. You know how
dearly you love her.' And she came and knelt before him on
the rug. 'Pray give it up. You are going to make yourself,
and her, and her father miserable: you are going to make us
all miserable. And for what? For a dream of justice. You
will never make those twelve men happier than they now are.'
'You don't understand it, my dear girl,' said he, smoothing
her hair with his hand.
'I do understand it, John. I understand that this is a
chimera--a dream that you have got. I know well that no
duty can require you to do this mad--this suicidal thing. I
know you love Eleanor Harding with all your heart, and I tell
you now that she loves you as well. If there was a plain, a
positive duty before you, I would be the last to bid you neglect
it for any woman's love; but this--oh, think again, before
you do anything to make it necessary that you and Mr Harding
should be at variance.' He did not answer, as she knelt there,
leaning on his knees, but by his face she thought that he was
inclined to yield. 'At any rate let me say that you will go to
this party. At any rate do not break with them while your
mind is in doubt.' And she got up, hoping to conclude her
note in the way she desired.
'My mind is not in doubt,' at last he said, rising. 'I could
never respect myself again were I to give way now, because
Eleanor Harding is beautiful. I do love her: I would give a
hand to hear her tell me what you have said, speaking on her
behalf; but I cannot for her sake go back from the task which
I have commenced. I hope she may hereafter acknowledge
and respect my motives, but I cannot now go as a guest to her
father's house.' And the Barchester Brutus went out to fortify
his own resolution by meditations on his own virtue.
Poor Mary Bold sat down, and sadly finished her note,
saying that she would herself attend the party, but that her
brother was unavoidably prevented from doing so. I fear that
she did not admire as she should have done the self-devotion
of his singular virtue.
The party went off as such parties do. There were fat old
ladies, in fine silk dresses, and slim young ladies, in gauzy
muslin frocks; old gentlemen stood up with their backs to the
empty fire-place, looking by no means so comfortable as they
would have done in their own arm-chairs at home; and young
gentlemen, rather stiff about the neck, clustered near the door,
not as yet sufficiently in courage to attack the muslin frocks,
who awaited the battle, drawn up in a semicircular array.
The warden endeavoured to induce a charge, but failed signally,
not having the tact of a general; his daughter did what she
could to comfort the forces under her command, who took in
refreshing rations of cake and tea, and patiently looked for
the coming engagement: but she herself, Eleanor, had no
spirit for the work ; the only enemy whose lance she cared to
encounter was not there, and she and others were somewhat dull.
Loud above all voices was heard the clear sonorous tones of
the archdeacon as he dilated to brother parsons of the danger
of the church, of the fearful rumours of mad reforms even at
Oxford, and of the damnable heresies of Dr Whiston.
Soon, however, sweeter sounds began timidly to make themselves
audible. Little movements were made in a quarter notable for
round stools and music stands. Wax candles were arranged in
sconces, big books were brought from hidden recesses, and the
work of the evening commenced.
How often were those pegs twisted and re-twisted before
our friend found that he had twisted them enough; how many
discordant scrapes gave promise of the coming harmony.
How much the muslin fluttered and crumpled before Eleanor
and another nymph were duly seated at the piano; how
closely did that tall Apollo pack himself against the wall, with
his flute, long as himself, extending high over the heads of his
pretty neighbours; into how small a corner crept that round
and florid little minor canon, and there with skill amazing
found room to tune his accustomed fiddle!
And now the crash begins: away they go in full flow of
harmony together--up hill and down dale--now louder and
louder, then lower and lower; now loud, as though stirring
the battle; then low, as though mourning the slain. In all,
through all, and above all, is heard the violoncello. Ah, not
for nothing were those pegs so twisted and re-twisted--listen,
listen! Now alone that saddest of instruments tells its touching
tale. Silent, and in awe, stand fiddle, flute, and piano, to hear
the sorrows of their wailing brother. 'Tis but for a moment:
before the melancholy of those low notes has been fully realised,
again comes the full force of all the band--down go the
pedals, away rush twenty fingers scouring over the bass notes
with all the impetus of passion. Apollo blows till his stiff
neckcloth is no better than a rope, and the minor canon works
with both arms till he falls in a syncope of exhaustion against
How comes it that now, when all should be silent, when
courtesy, if not taste, should make men listen--how is it at this
moment the black-coated corps leave their retreat and begin
skirmishing? One by one they creep forth, and fire off little
guns timidly, and without precision. Ah, my men, efforts such
as these will take no cities, even though the enemy should be
never so open to assault. At length a more deadly artillery is
brought to bear; slowly, but with effect, the advance is made;
the muslin ranks are broken, and fall into confusion; the
formidable array of chairs gives way; the battle is no longer
between opposing regiments, but hand to hand, and foot to
foot with single combatants, as in the glorious days of old,
when fighting was really noble. In corners, and under the
shadow of curtains, behind sofas and half hidden by doors, in
retiring windows, and sheltered by hanging tapestry, are blows
given and returned, fatal, incurable, dealing death.
Apart from this another combat arises, more sober and more
serious. The archdeacon is engaged against two prebendaries,
a pursy full-blown rector assisting him, in all the perils and all
the enjoyments of short whist. With solemn energy do they
watch the shuffled pack, and, all-expectant, eye the coming
trump. With what anxious nicety do they arrange their cards,
jealous of each other's eyes! Why is that lean doctor so slow--
cadaverous man with hollow jaw and sunken eye, ill beseeming
the richness of his mother church! Ah, why so slow, thou
meagre doctor? See how the archdeacon, speechless in his
agony, deposits on the board his cards, and looks to heaven or
to the ceiling for support. Hark, how he sighs, as with thumbs
in his waistcoat pocket he seems to signify that the end of such
torment is not yet even nigh at hand! Vain is the hope, if
hope there be, to disturb that meagre doctor. With care
precise he places every card, weighs well the value of each
mighty ace, each guarded king, and comfort-giving queen;
speculates on knave and ten, counts all his suits, and sets his
price upon the whole. At length a card is led, and quick three
others fall upon the board. The little doctor leads again, while
with lustrous eye his partner absorbs the trick. Now thrice has
this been done--thrice has constant fortune favoured the brace
of prebendaries, ere the archdeacon rouses himself to the
battle; but at the fourth assault he pins to the earth a prostrate
king, laying low his crown and sceptre, bushy beard, and
lowering brow, with a poor deuce.
'As David did Goliath,' says the archdeacon, pushing over
the four cards to his partner. And then a trump is led, then
another trump; then a king--and then an ace--and then a
long ten, which brings down from the meagre doctor his only
remaining tower of strength--his cherished queen of trumps.
'What, no second club?' says the archdeacon to his partner.
'Only one club,' mutters from his inmost stomach the pursy
rector, who sits there red-faced, silent, impervious, careful, a
safe but not a brilliant ally.
But the archdeacon cares not for many clubs, or for none.
He dashes out his remaining cards with a speed most annoying
to his antagonists, pushes over to them some four cards as their
allotted portion, shoves the remainder across the table to the
red-faced rector; calls out 'two by cards and two by honours,
and the odd trick last time,' marks a treble under the candle-
stick, and has dealt round the second pack before the meagre
doctor has calculated his losses.
And so went off the warden's party, and men and women
arranging shawls and shoes declared how pleasant it had been;
and Mrs Goodenough, the red-faced rector's wife, pressing the
warden's hand, declared she had never enjoyed herself better;
which showed how little pleasure she allowed herself in this
world, as she had sat the whole evening through in the same
chair without occupation, not speaking, and unspoken to.
And Matilda Johnson, when she allowed young Dickson of the
bank to fasten her cloak round her neck, thought that two
hundred pounds a year and a little cottage would really do for
happiness; besides, he was sure to be manager some day.
And Apollo, folding his flute into his pocket, felt that he had
acquitted himself with honour; and the archdeacon pleasantly
jingled his gains; but the meagre doctor went off without
much audible speech, muttering ever and anon as he went,
'three and thirty points!' 'three and thirty points!'
And so they all were gone, and Mr Harding was left alone
with his daughter.
What had passed between Eleanor Harding and Mary Bold
need not be told. It is indeed a matter of thankfulness that
neither the historian nor the novelist hears all that is said by
their heroes or heroines, or how would three volumes or
twenty suffice! In the present case so little of this sort have
I overheard, that I live in hopes of finishing my work within
300 pages, and of completing that pleasant task--a novel in
one volume; but something had passed between them, and as
the warden blew out the wax candles, and put his instrument
into its case, his daughter stood sad and thoughtful by the
empty fire-place, determined to speak to her father, but
irresolute as to what she would say.
'Well, Eleanor,' said he, 'are you for bed?'
'Yes,' said she, moving, 'I suppose so; but papa--Mr Bold
was not here tonight; do you know why not?'
'He was asked; I wrote to him myself,' said the warden.
'But do you know why he did not come, papa?'
'Well, Eleanor, I could guess; but it's no use guessing at
such things, my dear. What makes you look so earnest
'Oh, papa, do tell me,' she exclaimed, throwing her arms
round him, and looking into his face; 'what is it he is going
to do? What is it all about? Is there any--any--any--' she
didn't well know what word to use--'any danger?'
'Danger, my dear, what sort of danger?'
'Danger to you, danger of trouble, and of loss, and of--
Oh, papa, why haven't you told me of all this before?'
Mr Harding was not the man to judge harshly of anyone,
much less of the daughter whom he now loved better than any
living creature; but still he did judge her wrongly at this
moment. He knew that she loved John Bold; he fully sympathised
in her affection; day after day he thought more of the matter,
and, with the tender care of a loving father, tried to arrange in
his own mind how matters might be so managed that his daughter's
heart should not be made the sacrifice to the dispute which was
likely to exist between him and Bold. Now, when she spoke to him
for the first time on the subject, it was natural that he should
think more of her than of himself, and that he should imagine
that her own cares, and not his, were troubling her.
He stood silent before her awhile, as she gazed up into his
face, and then kissing her forehead he placed her on the sofa.
'Tell me, Nelly,' he said (he only called her Nelly in his
kindest, softest, sweetest moods, and yet all his moods were
kind and sweet), 'tell me, Nelly, do you like Mr Bold--much?'
She was quite taken aback by the question. I will not say
that she had forgotten herself, and her own love in thinking
about John Bold, and while conversing with Mary: she certainly
had not done so. She had been sick at heart to think that a man
of whom she could not but own to herself that she loved him, of
whose regard she had been so proud, that such a man should turn
against her father to ruin him. She had felt her vanity hurt,
that his affection for her had not kept him from such a course;
had he really cared for her, he would not have risked her love
by such an outrage. But her main fear had been for her father,
and when she spoke of danger, it was of danger to him and not
She was taken aback by the question altogether: 'Do I like
'Yes, Nelly, do you like him? Why shouldn't you like him?
but that's a poor word--do you love him?' She sat still in his
arms without answering him. She certainly had not prepared
herself for an avowal of affection, intending, as she had done,
to abuse John Bold herself, and to hear her father do so also.
'Come, my love,' said he, 'let us make a clean breast of it: do
you tell me what concerns yourself, and I will tell you what
concerns me and the hospital.'
And then, without waiting for an answer, he described to
her, as he best could, the accusation that was made about
Hiram's will; the claims which the old men put forward;
what he considered the strength and what the weakness of his
own position; the course which Bold had taken, and that
which he presumed he was about to take; and then by
degrees, without further question, he presumed on the fact of
Eleanor's love, and spoke of that love as a feeling which he
could in no way disapprove: he apologised for Bold, excused
what he was doing; nay, praised him for his energy and
intentions; made much of his good qualities, and harped on
none of his foibles; then, reminding his daughter how late it
was, and comforting her with much assurance which he hardly
felt himself, he sent her to her room, with flowing eyes and a
When Mr Harding met his daughter at breakfast the next
morning, there was no further discussion on the matter, nor
was the subject mentioned between them for some days. Soon
after the party Mary Bold called at the hospital, but there were
various persons in the drawing-room at the time, and she
therefore said nothing about her brother. On the day following,
John Bold met Miss Harding in one of the quiet, sombre,
shaded walks of the close. He was most anxious to see her, but
unwilling to call at the warden's house, and had in truth
waylaid her in her private haunts.
'My sister tells me,' said he, abruptly hurrying on with his
premeditated speech, 'my sister tells me that you had a delightful
party the other evening. I was so sorry I could not be there.'
'We were all sorry,' said Eleanor, with dignified composure.
'I believe, Miss Harding, you understand why, at this
moment--' And Bold hesitated, muttered, stopped, commenced his
explanation again, and again broke down.
Eleanor would not help him in the least.
'I think my sister explained to you, Miss Harding?'
'Pray don't apologise, Mr Bold; my father will, I am sure,
always be glad to see you, if you like to come to the house now
as formerly; nothing has occurred to alter his feelings: of
your own views you are, of course, the best judge.'
'Your father is all that is kind and generous; he always was
so; but you, Miss Harding, yourself--I hope you will not
judge me harshly, because--'
'Mr Bold,' said she, 'you may be sure of one thing; I shall
always judge my father to be right, and those who oppose him
I shall judge to be wrong. If those who do not know him
oppose him, I shall have charity enough to believe that they
are wrong, through error of judgment; but should I see him
attacked by those who ought to know him, and to love him,
and revere him, of such I shall be constrained to form a
different opinion.' And then curtseying low she sailed on,
leaving her lover in anything but a happy state of mind.
Though Eleanor Harding rode off from John Bold on a high horse,
it must not be supposed that her heart was so elate as her
demeanour. In the first place, she had a natural repugnance to
losing her lover; and in the next, she was not quite So sure that
she was in the right as she pretended to be. Her father had told
her, and that now repeatedly, that Bold was doing nothing unjust
or ungenerous; and why then should she rebuke him, and throw him
off, when she felt herself so ill able to bear his loss?--but
such is human nature, and young-lady-nature especially. As she
walked off from him beneath the shady elms of the close, her
look, her tone, every motion and gesture of her body, belied her
heart; she would have given the world to have taken him by the
hand, to have reasoned with him, persuaded him, cajoled him,
coaxed him out of his project; to have overcome him with all her
female artillery, and to have redeemed her father at the cost of
herself; but pride would not let her do this, and she left him
without a look of love or a word of kindness.
Had Bold been judging of another lover and of another
lady, he might have understood all this as well as we do; but
in matters of love men do not see clearly in their own affairs.
They say that faint heart never won fair lady; and it is
amazing to me how fair ladies are won, so faint are often men's
hearts! Were it not for the kindness of their nature, that
seeing the weakness of our courage they will occasionally
descend from their impregnable fortresses, and themselves aid
us in effecting their own defeat, too often would they escape
unconquered if not unscathed, and free of body if not of heart.
Poor Bold crept off quite crestfallen; he felt that as regarded
Eleanor Harding his fate was sealed, unless he could consent
to give up a task to which he had pledged himself and which
indeed it would not be easy for him to give up. Lawyers were
engaged, and the question had to a certain extent been taken
up by the public; besides, how could a high-spirited girl like
Eleanor Harding really learn to love a man for neglecting a
duty which he assumed! Could she allow her affection to be
purchased at the cost of his own self-respect?
As regarded the issue of his attempt at reformation in the
hospital, Bold had no reason hitherto to be discontented with
his success. All Barchester was by the ears about it. The
bishop, the archdeacon, the warden, the steward, and several
other clerical allies, had daily meetings, discussing their tactics,
and preparing for the great attack. Sir Abraham Haphazard
had been consulted, but his opinion was not yet received:
copies of Hiram's will, copies of wardens' journals, copies of
leases, copies of accounts, copies of everything that could be
copied, and of some that could not, had been sent to him;
and the case was assuming most creditable dimensions. But,
above all, it had been mentioned in the daily Jupiter. That all-
powerful organ of the press in one of its leading thunderbolts
launched at St Cross, had thus remarked: 'Another case,
of smaller dimensions indeed, but of similar import, is now
likely to come under public notice. We are informed that the
warden or master of an old almshouse attached to Barchester
Cathedral is in receipt of twenty-five times the annual income
appointed for him by the will of the founder, while the sum
yearly expended on the absolute purposes of the charity has
always remained fixed. In other words, the legatees under
the founder's will have received no advantage from the increase
in the value of the property during the last four centuries,
such increase having been absorbed by the so-called warden.
It is impossible to conceive a case of greater injustice.
It is no answer to say that some six or nine or twelve old men
receive as much of the goods of this world as such old men
require. On what foundation, moral or divine, traditional or
legal, is grounded the warden's claim to the large income he
receives for doing nothing? The contentment of these almsmen,
if content they be, can give him no title to this wealth!
Does he ever ask himself, when he stretches wide his clerical
palm to receive the pay of some dozen of the working clergy,
for what service he is so remunerated? Does his conscience
ever entertain the question of his right to such subsidies? Or
is it possible that the subject never so presents itself to his
mind; that he has received for many years, and intends,
should God spare him, to receive for years to come these fruits
of the industrious piety of past ages, indifferent as to any right
on his own part, or of any injustice to others! We must
express an opinion that nowhere but in the Church of England,
and only there among its priests, could such a state of moral
indifference be found.'
I must for the present leave my readers to imagine the state
of Mr Harding's mind after reading the above article. They
say that forty thousand copies of The Jupiter are daily sold, and
that each copy is read by five persons at the least. Two hundred
thousand readers then would hear this accusation against him;
two hundred thousand hearts would swell with indignation at
the griping injustice, the barefaced robbery of the warden
of Barchester Hospital! And how was he to answer this? How
was he to open his inmost heart to this multitude, to these
thousands, the educated, the polished, the picked men of
his own country; how show them that he was no robber, no
avaricious, lazy priest scrambling for gold, but a retiring,
humble-spirited man, who had innocently taken what had
innocently been offered to him?
'Write to The Jupiter,' suggested the bishop.
'Yes,' said the archdeacon, more worldly wise than his
father, 'yes, and be smothered with ridicule; tossed over and
over again with scorn; shaken this way and that, as a rat in
the mouth of a practised terrier. You will leave out some
word or letter in your answer, and the ignorance of the cathedral
clergy will be harped upon; you will make some small
mistake, which will be a falsehood, or some admission, which
will be self-condemnation; you will find yourself to have
been vulgar, ill-tempered, irreverend, and illiterate, and the
chances are ten to one, but that being a clergyman, you will
have been guilty of blasphemy! A man may have the best of
causes, the best of talents, and the best of tempers; he may write
as well as Addison, or as strongly as Junius; but even with all
this he cannot successfully answer, when attacked by The Jupiter.
In such matters it is omnipotent. What the Czar is in Russia, or
the mob in America, that The Jupiter is in England. Answer
such an article! No, warden; whatever you do, don't do that.
We were to look for this sort of thing, you know; but we need
not draw down on our heads more of it than is necessary.'
The article in The Jupiter, while it so greatly harassed our
poor warden, was an immense triumph to some of the opposite
party. Sorry as Bold was to see Mr Harding attacked so personally,
it still gave him a feeling of elation to find his cause taken up
by so powerful an advocate: and as to Finney, the attorney, he
was beside himself. What! to be engaged in the same cause and on
the same side with The Jupiter; to have the views he had
recommended seconded, and furthered, and battled for by The
Jupiter! Perhaps to have his own name mentioned as that of the
learned gentleman whose efforts had been so successful on behalf
of the poor of Barchester! He might be examined before committees
of the House of Commons, with heaven knows how much a day for his
personal expenses--he might be engaged for years on such a suit!
There was no end to the glorious golden dreams which this
leader in The Jupiter produced in the soaring mind of Finney.
And the old bedesmen, they also heard of this article, and
had a glimmering, indistinct idea of the marvellous advocate
which had now taken up their cause. Abel Handy limped
hither and thither through the rooms, repeating all that he
understood to have been printed, with some additions of his
own which he thought should have been added. He told
them how The Jupiter had declared that their warden was no
better than a robber, and that what The Jupiter said was
acknowledged by the world to be true. How The Jupiter had
affirmed that each one of them--'each one of us, Jonathan
Crumple, think of that!'--had a clear right to a hundred a
year; and that if The Jupiter had said so, it was better than a
decision of the Lord Chancellor: and then he carried about
the paper, supplied by Mr Finney, which, though none of
them could read it, still afforded in its very touch and aspect
positive corroboration of what was told them; and Jonathan
Crumple pondered deeply over his returning wealth; and
job Skulpit saw how right he had been in signing the petition,
and said so many scores of times; and Spriggs leered fearfully
with his one eye; and Moody, as he more nearly approached
the coming golden age, hated more deeply than ever those who
still kept possession of what he so coveted. Even Billy Gazy and
poor bed-ridden Bell became active and uneasy, and the great
Bunce stood apart with lowering brow, with deep grief seated
in his heart, for he perceived that evil days were coming.
It had been decided, the archdeacon advising, that no
remonstrance, explanation, or defence should be addressed from
the Barchester conclave to the editor of The Jupiter; but
hitherto that was the only decision to which they had come.
Sir Abraham Haphazard was deeply engaged in preparing
a bill for the mortification of papists, to be called the 'Convent
Custody Bill,' the purport of which was to enable any Protestant
clergyman over fifty years of age to search any nun whom he
suspected of being in possession of treasonable papers or
Jesuitical symbols; and as there were to be a hundred and
thirty-seven clauses in the bill, each clause containing a
separate thorn for the side of the papist, and as it was known
the bill would be fought inch by inch, by fifty maddened
Irishmen, the due construction and adequate dovetailing of
it did consume much of Sir Abraham's time. The bill had all
its desired effect. Of course it never passed into law; but it
so completely divided the ranks of the Irish members, who had
bound themselves together to force on the ministry a bill for
compelling all men to drink Irish whiskey, and all women to
wear Irish poplins, that for the remainder of the session the
Great Poplin and Whiskey League was utterly harmless.
Thus it happened that Sir Abraham's opinion was not at once
forthcoming, and the uncertainty, the expectation, and suffering
of the folk of Barchester was maintained at a high pitch.
The reader must now be requested to visit the rectory of
Plumstead Episcopi; and as it is as yet still early morning,
to ascend again with us into the bedroom of the archdeacon.
The mistress of the mansion was at her toilet; on which we
will not dwell with profane eyes, but proceed into a small
inner room, where the doctor dressed and kept his boots and
sermons; and here we will take our stand, premising that the
door of the room was so open as to admit of a conversation
between our reverend Adam and his valued Eve.
'It's all your own fault, archdeacon,' said the latter. 'I
told you from the beginning how it would end, and papa has
no one to thank but you.'
'Good gracious, my dear,' said the doctor, appearing at the
door of his dressing-room, with his face and head enveloped
in the rough towel which he was violently using; 'how can
you say so? I am doing my very best.'
'I wish you had never done so much,' said the lady, interrupting
him. 'If you'd just have let John Bold come and go there, as he
and papa liked, he and Eleanor would have been married by this
time, and we should not have heard one word about all this affair.'
'But, my dear--'
'Oh, it's all very well, archdeacon; and of course you're
right; I don't for a moment think you'll ever admit that you
could be wrong; but the fact is. you've brought this young
man down upon papa by buffing him as you have done.'
'But, my love--'
'And all because you didn't like John Bold for a brother-
in-law. How is she ever to do better? Papa hasn't got a
shilling; and though Eleanor is well enough, she has not at
all a taking style of beauty. I'm sure I don't know how she's
to do better than marry John Bold; or as well indeed,' added
the anxious sister, giving the last twist to her last shoe-string.
Dr Grantly felt keenly the injustice of this attack; but what
could he say? He certainly had buffed John Bold; he certainly
had objected to him as a brother-in-law, and a very few
months ago the very idea had excited his wrath: but now
matters were changed; John Bold had shown his power, and,
though he was as odious as ever to the archdeacon, power is
always respected, and the reverend dignitary began to think
that such an alliance might not have been imprudent. Nevertheless,
his motto was still 'no surrender'; he would still fight
it out; he believed confidently in Oxford, in the bench of
bishops, in Sir Abraham Haphazard, and in himself; and it
was only when alone with his wife that doubts of defeat ever
beset him. He once more tried to communicate this confidence
to Mrs Grantly, and for the twentieth time began to tell
her of Sir Abraham.
'Oh, Sir Abraham!' said she, collecting all her house keys
into her basket before she descended; 'Sir Abraham won't
get Eleanor a husband; Sir Abraham won't get papa another
income when he has been worreted out of the hospital. Mark
what I tell you, archdeacon: while you and Sir Abraham are
fighting, papa will lose his preferment; and what will you do
then with him and Eleanor on your hands? besides, who's to
pay Sir Abraham? I suppose he won't take the case up for
nothing?' And so the lady descended to family worship
among her children and servants, the pattern of a good and
Dr Grantly was blessed with a happy, thriving family.
There were, first, three boys, now at home from school for the
holidays. They were called, respectively, Charles James,
Henry, and Samuel. The two younger (there were five in all)
were girls; the elder, Florinda, bore the name of the Archbishop
of York's wife, whose godchild she was: and the younger had
been christened Grizzel, after a sister of the Archbishop
of Canterbury. The boys were all clever, and gave good promise of
being well able to meet the cares and trials of the world; and
yet they were not alike in their dispositions, and each had
his individual character, and each his separate admirers
among the doctor's friends.
Charles James was an exact and careful boy; he never
committed himself; he well knew how much was expected
from the eldest son of the Archdeacon of Barchester, and was
therefore mindful not to mix too freely with other boys. He
had not the great talents of his younger brothers, but he
exceeded them in judgment and propriety of demeanour; his fault,
if he had one, was an over-attention to words instead of things;
there was a thought too much finesse about him, and, as even his
father sometimes told him, he was too fond of a compromise.
The second was the archdeacon's favourite son, and Henry
was indeed a brilliant boy. The versatility of his genius was
surprising, and the visitors at Plumstead Episcopi were often
amazed at the marvellous manner in which he would, when
called on, adapt his capacity to apparently most uncongenial
pursuits. He appeared once before a large circle as Luther
the reformer, and delighted them with the perfect manner in
which he assumed the character; and within three days he
again astonished them by acting the part of a Capuchin friar
to the very life. For this last exploit his father gave him a
golden guinea, and his brothers said the reward had been
promised beforehand in the event of the performance being
successful. He was also sent on a tour into Devonshire; a
treat which the lad was most anxious of enjoying. His father's
friends there, however, did not appreciate his talents, and sad
accounts were sent home of the perversity of his nature. He
was a most courageous lad, game to the backbone.
It was soon known, both at home, where he lived, and within
some miles of Barchester Cathedral, and also at Westminster,
where he was at school, that young Henry could box
well and would never own himself beat; other boys would
fight while they had a leg to stand on, but he would fight with
no leg at all. Those backing him would sometimes think him
crushed by the weight of blows and faint with loss of blood,
and his friends would endeavour to withdraw him from the
contest; but no, Henry never gave in, was never weary of the
battle. The ring was the only element in which he seemed to
enjoy himself; and while other boys were happy in the
number of their friends, he rejoiced most in the multitude of
His relations could not but admire his pluck, but they sometimes
were forced to regret that he was inclined to be a bully; and
those not so partial to him as his father was, observed with pain
that, though he could fawn to the masters and the archdeacon's
friends, he was imperious and masterful to the servants and
But perhaps Samuel was the general favourite; and dear
little Soapy, as he was familiarly called, was as engaging a
child as ever fond mother petted. He was soft and gentle in
his manners, and attractive in his speech; the tone of his voice
was melody, and every action was a grace; unlike his brothers,
he was courteous to all, he was affable to the lowly, and meek
even to the very scullery-maid. He was a boy of great promise,
minding his books and delighting the hearts of his masters.
His brothers, however, were not particularly fond of him; they
would complain to their mother that Soapy's civility all meant
something; they thought that his voice was too often listened
to at Plumstead Episcopi, and evidently feared that, as he
grew up, he would have more weight in the house than either
of them; there was, therefore, a sort of agreement among
them to put young Soapy down. This, however, was not so
easy to be done; Samuel, though young, was sharp; he could
not assume the stiff decorum of Charles James, nor could he
fight like Henry; but he was a perfect master of his own
weapons, and contrived, in the teeth of both of them, to hold
the place which he had assumed. Henry declared that he
was a false, cunning creature; and Charles James, though he
always spoke of him as his dear brother Samuel, was not slow
to say a word against him when opportunity offered. To speak
the truth, Samuel was a cunning boy, and those even who
loved him best could not but own that for one so young he was
too adroit in choosing his words, and too skilled in modulating
The two little girls Florinda and Grizzel were nice little girls
enough, but they did not possess the strong sterling qualities
of their brothers; their voices were not often heard at
Plumstead Episcopi; they were bashful and timid by nature,
slow to speak before company even when asked to do so; and
though they looked very nice in their clean white muslin frocks
and pink sashes, they were but little noticed by the
Whatever of submissive humility may have appeared in the
gait and visage of the archdeacon during his colloquy with his
wife in the sanctum of their dressing-rooms was dispelled as
he entered his breakfast-parlour with erect head and powerful
step. In the presence of a third person he assumed the lord
and master; and that wise and talented lady too well knew
the man to whom her lot for life was bound, to stretch her
authority beyond the point at which it would be borne.
Strangers at Plumstead Episcopi, when they saw the imperious
brow with which he commanded silence from the large circle
of visitors, children, and servants who came together in the
morning to hear him read the word of God, and watched how
meekly that wife seated herself behind her basket of keys with
a little girl on each side, as she caught that commanding
glance; strangers, I say, seeing this, could little guess that some
fifteen minutes since she had stoutly held her ground against
him, hardly allowing him to open his mouth in his own defence.
But such is the tact and talent of women!
And now let us observe the well-furnished breakfast-parlour
at Plumstead Episcopi, and the comfortable air of all the
belongings of the rectory. Comfortable they certainly were,
but neither gorgeous nor even grand; indeed, considering the
money that had been spent there, the eye and taste might
have been better served; there was an air of heaviness about
the rooms which might have been avoided without any sacrifice
of propriety; colours might have been better chosen and lights
more perfectly diffused; but perhaps in doing so the thorough
clerical aspect of the whole might have been somewhat marred; at
any rate, it was not without ample consideration that those
thick, dark, costly carpets were put down; those embossed, but
sombre papers hung up; those heavy curtains draped so as to half
exclude the light of the sun: nor were these old-fashioned
chairs, bought at a price far exceeding that now given for more
modern goods, without a purpose. The breakfast-service on the
table was equally costly and equally plain; the apparent object
had been to spend money without obtaining brilliancy or splendour.
The urn was of thick and solid silver, as were also the tea-pot,
coffee-pot, cream-ewer, and sugar-bowl; the cups were old, dim
dragon china, worth about a pound a piece, but very despicable in
the eyes of the uninitiated. The silver forks were so heavy as
to be disagreeable to the hand, and the bread-basket was of a
weight really formidable to any but robust persons. The tea
consumed was the very best, the coffee the very blackest, the
cream the very thickest; there was dry toast and buttered
toast, muffins and crumpets; hot bread and cold bread, white
bread and brown bread, home-made bread and bakers'
bread, wheaten bread and oaten bread; and if there be other
breads than these, they were there; there were eggs in napkins,
and crispy bits of bacon under silver covers; and there were
little fishes in a little box, and devilled kidneys frizzling on
a hot-water dish; which, by the bye, were placed closely
contiguous to the plate of the worthy archdeacon himself.
Over and above this, on a snow-white napkin, spread upon
the sideboard, was a huge ham and a huge sirloin; the latter
having laden the dinner table on the previous evening. Such
was the ordinary fare at Plumstead Episcopi.
And yet I have never found the rectory a pleasant house.
The fact that man shall not live by bread alone seemed to be
somewhat forgotten; and noble as was the appearance of
the host, and sweet and good-natured as was the face of the
hostess, talented as were the children, and excellent as were the
viands and the wines, in spite of these attractions, I generally
found the rectory somewhat dull. After breakfast the archdeacon
would retire, of course to his clerical pursuits. Mrs
Grantly, I presume, inspected her kitchen, though she had a
first-rate housekeeper, with sixty pounds a year; and attended
to the lessons of Florinda and Grizzel, though she had an
excellent governess with thirty pounds a year: but at any rate
she disappeared: and I never could make companions of the
boys. Charles James, though he always looked as though
there was something in him, never seemed to have much to
say; and what he did say he would always unsay the next
minute. He told me once that he considered cricket, on the
whole, to be a gentlemanlike game for boys, provided they
would play without running about; and that fives, also, was a
seemly game, so that those who played it never heated themselves.
Henry once quarrelled with me for taking his sister
Grizzel's part in a contest between them as to the best mode
of using a watering-pot for the garden flowers; and from that
day to this he has not spoken to me, though he speaks at me
often enough. For half an hour or so I certainly did like
Sammy's gentle speeches; but one gets tired of honey, and I
found that he preferred the more admiring listeners whom he
met in the kitchen-garden and back precincts of the establishment;
besides, I think I once caught Sammy fibbing.
On the whole, therefore, I found the rectory a dull house,
though it must be admitted that everything there was of the
After breakfast, on the morning of which we are writing,
the archdeacon, as usual, retired to his study, intimating that
he was going to be very busy, but that he would see Mr Chadwick
if he called. On entering this sacred room he carefully
opened the paper case on which he was wont to compose his
favourite sermons, and spread on it a fair sheet of paper and
one partly written on; he then placed his inkstand, looked at
his pen, and folded his blotting paper; having done so, he got
up again from his seat, stood with his back to the fire-place,
and yawned comfortably, stretching out vastly his huge arms
and opening his burly chest. He then walked across the room
and locked the door; and having so prepared himself, he
threw himself into his easy-chair, took from a secret drawer
beneath his table a volume of Rabelais, and began to amuse
himself with the witty mischief of Panurge; and so passed the
archdeacon's morning on that day.
He was left undisturbed at his studies for an hour or two,
when a knock came to the door, and Mr Chadwick was announced.
Rabelais retired into the secret drawer, the easy-chair seemed
knowingly to betake itself off, and when the archdeacon quickly
undid his bolt, he was discovered by the steward working, as
usual, for that church of which he was so useful a pillar.
Mr Chadwick had just come from London, and was, therefore, known
to be the bearer of important news.
'We've got Sir Abraham's opinion at last,' said Mr Chadwick, as
he seated himself.
'Well, well, well!' exclaimed the archdeacon impatiently.
'Oh, it's as long as my arm,' said the other; 'it can't be told
in a word, but you can read it'; and he handed him a copy,
in heaven knows how many spun-out folios, of the opinion
which the attorney-general had managed to cram on the back
and sides of the case as originally submitted to him.
'The upshot is,' said Chadwick, 'that there's a screw loose in
their case, and we had better do nothing. They are proceeding
against Mr Harding and myself, and Sir Abraham holds
that, under the wording of the will, and subsequent arrangements
legally sanctioned, Mr Harding and I are only paid servants.
The defendants should have been either the Corporation of
Barchester, or possibly the chapter of your father.'
'W-hoo!' said the archdeacon; 'so Master Bold is on the
wrong scent, is he?'
'That's Sir Abraham's opinion; but any scent almost would
be a wrong scent. Sir Abraham thinks that if they'd taken the
corporation, or the chapter, we could have baffled them. The
bishop, he thinks, would be the surest shot; but even there we
could plead that the bishop is only a visitor, and that he has
never made himself a consenting party to the performance of
'That's quite clear,' said the archdeacon.
'Not quite so clear,' said the other. 'You see the will says,
"My lord, the bishop, being graciously pleased to see that due
justice be done." Now, it may be a question whether, in
accepting and administering the patronage, your father has
not accepted also the other duties assigned. It is doubtful,
however; but even if they hit that nail--and they are far off
from that yet--the point is so nice, as Sir Abraham says, that
you would force them into fifteen thousand pounds' cost before
they could bring it to an issue! and where's that sum of money
to come from?'
The archdeacon rubbed his hands with delight; he had
never doubted the justice of his case, but he had begun to have
some dread of unjust success on the part of his enemies. It was
delightful to him thus to hear that their cause was surrounded
with such rocks and shoals; such causes of shipwreck unseen
by the landsman's eye, but visible enough to the keen eyes of
practical law mariners. How wrong his wife was to wish that
Bold should marry Eleanor! Bold! why, if he should be ass
enough to persevere, he would be a beggar before he knew
whom he was at law with!
'That's excellent, Chadwick--that's excellent! I told you
Sir Abraham was the man for us'; and he put down on the
table the copy of the opinion, and patted it fondly.
'Don't you let that be seen, though, archdeacon.'
'Who?-I!-not for worlds,' said the doctor.
'People will talk, you know, archdeacon.'
'Of course, of course,' said the doctor.
'Because, if that gets abroad, it would teach them how to
fight their own battle.'
'Quite true,' said the doctor.
'No one here in Barchester ought to see that but you and I,
'No, no, certainly no one else,' said the archdeacon, pleased
with the closeness of the confidence; 'no one else shall.'
'Mrs Grantly is very interested in the matter, I know,' said
Did the archdeacon wink, or did he not? I am inclined to
think he did not quite wink; but that without such, perhaps,
unseemly gesture he communicated to Mr Chadwick, with the
corner of his eye, intimation that, deep as was Mrs Grantly's
interest in the matter, it should not procure for her a perusal
of that document; and at the same time he partly opened the
small drawer, above spoken of, deposited the paper on the
volume of Rabelais, and showed to Mr Chadwick the nature
of the key which guarded these hidden treasures. The careful
steward then expressed himself contented. Ah! vain man!
he could fasten up his Rabelais, and other things secret, with
all the skill of Bramah or of Chubb; but where could he fasten
up the key which solved these mechanical mysteries? It is
probable to us that the contents of no drawer in that house
were unknown to its mistress, and we think, moreover, that she
was entitled to all such knowledge.
'But,' said Mr Chadwick, 'we must, of course, tell your
father and Mr Harding so much of Sir Abraham's opinion as
will satisfy them that the matter is doing well.'
'Oh, certainly--yes, of course,' said the doctor.
'You had better let them know that Sir Abraham is of
opinion that there is no case at any rate against Mr Harding;
and that as the action is worded at present, it must fall to the
ground; they must be nonsuited, if they carry it on; you had
better tell Mr Harding, that Sir Abraham is clearly of opinion
that he is only a servant, and as such not liable--or if you like
it, I'll see Mr Harding myself.'
'Oh, I must see him tomorrow, and my father too, and I'll
explain to them exactly so much--you won't go before lunch,
Mr Chadwick: well, if you will, you must, for I know your
time is precious'; and he shook hands with the diocesan
steward, and bowed him out.
The archdeacon had again recourse to his drawer, and twice
read through the essence of Sir Abraham Haphazard's law-
enlightened and law-bewildered brains. It was very clear that
to Sir Abraham, the justice of the old men's claim or the justice
of Mr Harding's defence were ideas that had never presented
themselves. A legal victory over an opposing party was the
service for which Sir Abraham was, as he imagined, to be
paid; and that he, according to his lights, had diligently
laboured to achieve, and with probable hope of success. Of
the intense desire which Mr Harding felt to be assured on fit
authority that he was wronging no man, that he was entitled
in true equity to his income, that he might sleep at night
without pangs of conscience, that he was no robber, no spoiler of
the poor; that he and all the world might be openly convinced
that he was not the man which The Jupiter had described him
to be; of such longings on the part of Mr Harding, Sir
Abraham was entirely ignorant; nor, indeed, could it be
looked on as part of his business to gratify such desires. Such
was not the system on which his battles were fought, and
victories gained. Success was his object, and he was generally
successful. He conquered his enemies by their weakness rather
than by his own strength, and it had been found almost
impossible to make up a case in which Sir Abraham, as an
antagonist, would not find a flaw.
The archdeacon was delighted with the closeness of the
reasoning. To do him justice, it was not a selfish triumph that
he desired; he would personally lose nothing by defeat, or at
least what he might lose did not actuate him; but neither was
it love of justice which made him so anxious, nor even mainly
solicitude for his father-in-law. He was fighting a part of a
never-ending battle against a never-conquered foe--that of the
church against its enemies.
He knew Mr Harding could not pay all the expense of these
doings: for these long opinions of Sir Abraham's, these causes
to be pleaded, these speeches to be made, these various courts
through which the case was, he presumed, to be dragged. He
knew that he and his father must at least bear the heavier
portion of this tremendous cost; but to do the archdeacon
justice, he did not recoil from this. He was a man fond of
obtaining money, greedy of a large income, but open-handed
enough in expending it, and it was a triumph to him to foresee
the success of this measure, although he might be called on to
pay so dearly for it himself.
On the following morning the archdeacon was with his father
betimes, and a note was sent down to the warden begging his
attendance at the palace. Dr Grantly, as he cogitated on
the matter, leaning back in his brougham as he journeyed into
Barchester, felt that it would be difficult to communicate
his own satisfaction either to his father or his father-in-law.
He wanted success on his own side and discomfiture on that
of his enemies. The bishop wanted peace on the subject; a
settled peace if possible, but peace at any rate till the
short remainder of his own days had spun itself out. Mr Harding
required not only success and peace, but he also demanded that
he might stand justified before the world.
The bishop, however, was comparatively easy to deal with;
and before the arrival of the other, the dutiful son had persuaded
his father that all was going on well, and then the warden arrived.
It was Mr Harding's wont, whenever he spent a morning at
the palace, to seat himself immediately at the bishop's elbow,
the bishop occupying a huge arm-chair fitted up with candle-
sticks, a reading table, a drawer, and other paraphernalia, the
position of which chair was never moved, summer or winter;
and when, as was usual, the archdeacon was there also, he
confronted the two elders, who thus were enabled to fight the
battle against him together; and together submit to defeat,
for such was their constant fate.
Our warden now took his accustomed place, having greeted
his son-in-law as he entered, and then affectionately inquired
after his friend's health. There was a gentleness about the
bishop to which the soft womanly affection of Mr Harding
particularly endeared itself, and it was quaint to see how the
two mild old priests pressed each other's hand, and smiled and
made little signs of love.
'Sir Abraham's opinion has come at last,' began the archdeacon.
Mr Harding had heard so much, and was most anxious to know
'It is quite favourable,' said the bishop, pressing his friend's
arm. 'I am so glad.'
Mr Harding looked at the mighty bearer of the important
news for confirmation of these glad tidings.
'Yes,' said the archdeacon; 'Sir Abraham has given most
minute attention to the case; indeed, I knew he would--most
minute attention; and his opinion is--and as to his opinion
on such a subject being correct, no one who knows Sir Abraham's
character can doubt--his opinion is, that they hav'n't
got a leg to stand on.'
'But as how, archdeacon?'
'Why, in the first place:--but you're no lawyer, warden,
and I doubt you won't understand it; the gist of the matter is
this:--under Hiram's will two paid guardians have been
selected for the hospital; the law will say two paid servants,
and you and I won't quarrel with the name.'
'At any rate I will not if I am one of the servants,' said
Mr Harding. 'A rose, you know--'
'Yes, yes,' said the archdeacon, impatient of poetry at such
a time. 'Well, two paid servants, we'll say; one to look after
the men, and the other to look after the money. You and
Chadwick are these two servants, and whether either of you be
paid too much, or too little, more or less in fact than the
founder willed, it's as clear as daylight that no one can fall foul
of either of you for receiving an allotted stipend.'
'That does seem clear,' said the bishop, who had winced
visibly at the words servants and stipend, which, however,
appeared to have caused no uneasiness to the archdeacon.
'Quite clear,' said he, 'and very satisfactory. In point of
fact, it being necessary to select such servants for the use of the
hospital, the pay to be given to them must depend on the rate
of pay for such services, according to their market value at the
period in question; and those who manage the hospital must
be the only judges of this.'
'And who does manage the hospital?' asked the warden.
'Oh, let them find that out; that's another question: the
action is brought against you and Chadwick; that's your
defence, and a perfect and full defence it is. Now that I think
'Well,' said the bishop, looking inquiringly up into his friend's
face, who sat silent awhile, and apparently not so well satisfied.
'And conclusive,' continued the archdeacon; 'if they press
it to a jury, which they won't do, no twelve men in England
will take five minutes to decide against them.'
'But according to that' said Mr Harding, 'I might as well
have sixteen hundred a year as eight, if the managers choose to
allot it to me; and as I am one of the managers, if not the chief
manager, myself, that can hardly be a just arrangement.'
'Oh, well; all that's nothing to the question. The question
is, whether this intruding fellow, and a lot of cheating attorneys
and pestilent dissenters, are to interfere with an arrangement
which everyone knows is essentially just and serviceable to the
church. Pray don't let us be splitting hairs, and that amongst
ourselves, or there'll never be an end of the cause or the cost.'
Mr Harding again sat silent for a while, during which the
bishop once and again pressed his arm, and looked in his face
to see if he could catch a gleam of a contented and eased mind;
but there was no such gleam, and the poor warden continued
playing sad dirges on invisible stringed instruments in all
manner of positions; he was ruminating in his mind on this
opinion of Sir Abraham, looking to it wearily and earnestly
for satisfaction, but finding none. At last he said, 'Did you
see the opinion, archdeacon?'
The archdeacon said he had not--that was to say, he -had-
that was, he had not seen the opinion itself; he had seen what
had been called a copy, but he could not say whether of a
whole or part; nor could he say that what he had seen were
the ipsissima verba of the great man himself; but what he had
seen contained exactly the decision which he had announced,
and which he again declared to be to his mind extremely
'I should like to see the opinion,' said the warden; 'that is,
a copy of it.'
'Well, I suppose you can if you make a point of it; but I
don't see the use myself; of course it is essential that the
purport of it should not be known, and it is therefore unadvisable
to multiply copies.'
'Why should it not be known?' asked the warden.
'What a question for a man to ask!' said the archdeacon,
throwing up his hands in token of his surprise; 'but it is like
you--a child is not more innocent than you are in matters of
business. Can't you see that if we tell them that no action will
lie against you, but that one may possibly lie against some
other person or persons, that we shall be putting weapons into
their hands, and be teaching them how to cut our own throats?'
The warden again sat silent, and the bishop again looked at
him wistfully: 'The only thing we have now to do,' continued
the archdeacon, 'is to remain quiet, hold our peace, and let
them play their own game as they please.'
'We are not to make known then,' said the warden, 'that
we have consulted the attorney-general, and that we are
advised by him that the founder's will is fully and fairly
'God bless my soul!' said the archdeacon, 'how odd it is
that you will not see that all we are to do is to do nothing:
why should we say anything about the founder's will? We are
in possession; and we know that they are not in a position to
put us out; surely that is enough for the present.'
Mr Harding rose from his seat and paced thoughtfully up
and down the library, the bishop the while watching him painfully
at every turn, and the archdeacon continuing to pour forth
his convictions that the affair was in a state to satisfy any
'And The Jupiter?' said the warden, stopping suddenly.
'Oh! The Jupiter,' answered the other. 'The Jupiter can
break no bones. You must bear with that; there is much, of
course, which it is our bounden duty to bear; it cannot be all
roses for us here,' and the archdeacon looked exceedingly
moral; 'besides, the matter is too trivial, of too little general
interest to be mentioned again in The Jupiter, unless we stir up
the subject.' And the archdeacon again looked exceedingly
knowing and worldly wise.
The warden continued his walk; the hard and stinging
words of that newspaper article, each one of which had thrust
a thorn as it were into his inmost soul, were fresh in his
memory; he had read it more than once, word by word, and
what was worse, he fancied it was as well known to everyone
as to himself. Was he to be looked on as the unjust griping
priest he had been there described? Was he to be pointed at
as the consumer of the bread of the poor, and to be allowed no
means of refuting such charges, of clearing his begrimed name,
of standing innocent in the world, as hitherto he had stood?
Was he to bear all this, to receive as usual his now hated
income, and be known as one of those greedy priests who by
their rapacity have brought disgrace on their church? And
why? Why should he bear all this? Why should he die, for he
felt that he could not live, under such a weight of obloquy?
As he paced up and down the room he resolved in his misery
and enthusiasm that he could with pleasure, if he were allowed,
give up his place, abandon his pleasant home, leave the hospital,
and live poorly, happily, and with an unsullied name, on the
small remainder of his means.
He was a man somewhat shy of speaking of himself, even
before those who knew him best, and whom he loved the most;
but at last it burst forth from him, and with a somewhat jerking
eloquence he declared that he could not, would not, bear this
misery any longer.
'If it can be proved,' said he at last, 'that I have a just and
honest right to this, as God well knows I always deemed I had;
if this salary or stipend be really my due, I am not less anxious
than another to retain it. I have the well-being of my child
to look to. I am too old to miss without some pain the comforts
to which I have been used; and I am, as others are, anxious
to prove to the world that I have been right, and to uphold
the place I have held; but I cannot do it at such a cost
as this. I cannot bear this. Could you tell me to do so?' And
he appealed, almost in tears, to the bishop, who had left his
chair, and was now leaning on the warden's arm as he stood
on the further side of the table facing the archdeacon. 'Could
you tell me to sit there at ease, indifferent, and satisfied, while
such things as these are said loudly of me in the world?'
The bishop could feel for him and sympathise with him, but
he could not advise him, he could only say, 'No, no, you shall
be asked to do nothing that is painful; you shall do just what
your heart tells you to be right; you shall do whatever you
think best yourself. Theophilus, don't advise him, pray don't
advise the warden to do anything which is painful.'
But the archdeacon, though he could not sympathise, could
advise; and he saw that the time had come when it behoved
him to do so in a somewhat peremptory manner.
'Why, my lord,' he said, speaking to his father: and when
he called his father 'my lord,' the good old bishop shook in
his shoes, for he knew that an evil time was coming. 'Why,
my lord, there are two ways of giving advice: there is advice
that may be good for the present day; and there is advice that
may be good for days to come: now I cannot bring myself to
give the former, if it be incompatible with the other.'
'No, no, no, I suppose not,' said the bishop, re-seating himself,
and shading his face with his hands. Mr Harding sat
down with his back to the further wall, playing to himself some
air fitted for so calamitous an occasion, and the archdeacon
said out his say standing, with his back to the empty fire-place.
'It is not to be supposed but that much pain will spring out
of this unnecessarily raised question. We must all have foreseen
that, and the matter has in no wise gone on worse than we
expected; but it will be weak, yes, and wicked also, to abandon
the cause and own ourselves wrong, because the inquiry is
painful. It is not only ourselves we have to look to; to a certain
extent the interest of the church is in our keeping. Should it
be found that one after another of those who hold preferment
abandoned it whenever it might be attacked, is it not plain
that such attacks would be renewed till nothing was left us?
and, that if so deserted, the Church of England must fall to the
ground altogether? If this be true of many, it is true of one.
Were you, accused as you now are, to throw up the wardenship,
and to relinquish the preferment which is your property,
with the vain object of proving yourself disinterested, you
would fail in that object, you would inflict a desperate blow on
your brother clergymen, you would encourage every cantankerous
dissenter in England to make a similar charge against some
source of clerical revenue, and you would do your best to
dishearten those who are most anxious to defend you and
uphold your position. I can fancy nothing more weak, or
more wrong. It is not that you think that there is any justice
in these charges, or that you doubt your own right to the
wardenship: you are convinced of your own honesty, and yet
would yield to them through cowardice.'
'Cowardice!' said the bishop, expostulating. Mr Harding
sat unmoved, gazing on his son-in-law.
'Well; would it not be cowardice? Would he not do so
because he is afraid to endure the evil things which will be
falsely spoken of him? Would that not be cowardice? And
now let us see the extent of the evil which you dread. The
Jupiter publishes an article which a great many, no doubt, will
read; but of those who understand the subject how many will
believe The Jupiter? Everyone knows what its object is: it has
taken up the case against Lord Guildford and against the Dean
of Rochester, and that against half a dozen bishops; and does
not everyone know that it would take up any case of the kind,
right or wrong, false or true, with known justice or known
injustice, if by doing so it could further its own views? Does
not all the world know this of The Jupiter? Who that really
knows you will think the worse of you for what The Jupiter says?
And why care for those who do not know you? I will say
nothing of your own comfort, but I do say that you could not
be justified in throwing up, in a fit of passion, for such it would
be, the only maintenance that Eleanor has; and if you did so,
if you really did vacate the wardenship, and submit to ruin,
what would that profit you? If you have no future right to
the income, you have had no past right to it; and the very fact
of your abandoning your position would create a demand for
repayment of that which you have already received and spent.'
The poor warden groaned as he sat perfectly still, looking
up at the hard-hearted orator who thus tormented him, and
the bishop echoed the sound faintly from behind his hands;
but the archdeacon cared little for such signs of weakness, and
completed his exhortation.
'But let us suppose the office to be left vacant, and that your
own troubles concerning it were over; would that satisfy you?
Are your only aspirations in the matter confined to yourself
and family? I know they are not. I know you are as anxious
as any of us for the church to which we belong; and what a
grievous blow would such an act of apostacy give her! You
owe it to the church of which you are a member and a minister,
to bear with this affliction, however severe it may be: you owe
it to my father, who instituted you, to support his rights: you
owe it to those who preceded you to assert the legality of their
position; you owe it to those who are to come after you, to
maintain uninjured for them that which you received uninjured
from others; and you owe to us all the unflinching assistance
of perfect brotherhood in this matter, so that upholding
one another we may support our great cause without blushing
and without disgrace.'
And so the archdeacon ceased, and stood self-satisfied,
watching the effect of his spoken wisdom.
The warden felt himself, to a certain extent, stifled; he
would have given the world to get himself out into the open
air without speaking to, or noticing those who were in the
room with him; but this was impossible. He could not leave
without saying something, and he felt himself confounded by
the archdeacon's eloquence. There was a heavy, unfeeling,
unanswerable truth in what he had said; there was so much
practical, but odious common sense in it, that he neither knew
how to assent or to differ. If it were necessary for him to
suffer, he felt that he could endure without complaint and
without cowardice, providing that he was self-satisfied of the
justice of his own cause. What he could not endure was, that
he should be accused by others, and not acquitted by himself.
Doubting, as he had begun to doubt, the justice of his own
position in the hospital, he knew that his own self-confidence
would not be restored because Mr Bold had been in error as
to some legal form; nor could he be satisfied to escape,
because, through some legal fiction, he who received the greatest
benefit from the hospital might be considered only as one of
The archdeacon's speech had silenced him--stupefied him
--annihilated him; anything but satisfied him. With the
bishop it fared not much better. He did not discern clearly
how things were, but he saw enough to know that a battle was
to be prepared for; a battle that would destroy his few
remaining comforts, and bring him with sorrow to the grave.
The warden still sat, and still looked at the archdeacon, till
his thoughts fixed themselves wholly on the means of escape
from his present position, and he felt like a bird fascinated by
gazing on a snake.
'I hope you agree with me,' said the archdeacon at last,
breaking the dread silence; 'my lord, I hope you agree with me.'
Oh, what a sigh the bishop gave! 'My lord, I hope you
agree with me,' again repeated the merciless tyrant.
'Yes, I suppose so,' groaned the poor old man, slowly.
'And you, warden?'
Mr Harding was now stirred to action--he must speak and
move, so he got up and took one turn before he answered.
'Do not press me for an answer just at present; I will do
nothing lightly in the matter, and of whatever I do I will give
you and the bishop notice.' And so without another word he
took his leave, escaping quickly through the palace hall, and
down the lofty steps, nor did he breathe freely till he found
himself alone under the huge elms of the silent close. Here he
walked long and slowly, thinking on his case with a troubled
air, and trying in vain to confute the archdeacon's argument.
He then went home, resolved to bear it all--ignominy, suspense,
disgrace, self-doubt, and heart-burning--and to do as those
would have him, who he still believed were most fit and most
able to counsel him aright.
Mr Harding was a sadder man than he had ever yet been when
he returned to his own house. He had been wretched enough
on that well-remembered morning when he was forced to expose
before his son-in-law the publisher's account for ushering into
the world his dear book of sacred music: when after making such
payments as he could do unassisted, he found that he was a debtor of
more than three hundred pounds; but his sufferings then were as
nothing to his present misery;--then he had done wrong, and he
knew it, and was able to resolve that he would not sin in like
manner again; but now he could make no resolution, and comfort
himself by no promises of firmness. He had been forced to
think that his lot had placed him in a false position, and he
was about to maintain that position against the opinion of the
world and against his own convictions.
He had read with pity, amounting almost to horror, the
strictures which had appeared from time to time against the
Earl of Guildford as master of St Cross, and the invectives that
had been heaped on rich diocesan dignitaries and overgrown
sinecure pluralists. In judging of them, he judged leniently;
the whole bias of his profession had taught him to think that
they were more sinned against than sinning, and that the animosity
with which they had been pursued was venomous and unjust; but
he had not the less regarded their plight as most miserable.
His hair had stood on end and his flesh had crept as he read the
things which had been written; he had wondered how men could live
under such a load of disgrace; how they could face their
fellow-creatures while their names were bandied about so
injuriously and so publicly--and now this lot was to be his--he,
that shy, retiring man, who had so comforted himself in the
hidden obscurity of his lot, who had
so enjoyed the unassuming warmth of his own little corner, he
was now dragged forth into the glaring day, and gibbeted
before ferocious multitudes. He entered his own house a
crestfallen, humiliated man, without a hope of overcoming
the wretchedness which affected him.
He wandered into the drawing-room where was his daughter;
but he could not speak to her now, so he left it, and went into
the book-room. He was not quick enough to escape Eleanor's
glance, or to prevent her from seeing that he was disturbed;
and in a little while she followed him. She found him seated
in his accustomed chair with no book open before him, no
pen ready in his hand, no ill-shapen notes of blotted music
lying before him as was usual, none of those hospital accounts
with which he was so precise and yet so unmethodical: he
was doing nothing, thinking of nothing, looking at nothing;
he was merely suffering.
'Leave me, Eleanor, my dear,' he said; 'leave me, my
darling, for a few minutes, for I am busy.'
Eleanor saw well how it was, but she did leave him, and
glided silently back to her drawing-room. When he had sat
a while, thus alone and unoccupied, he got up to walk again--
he could make more of his thoughts walking than sitting, and
was creeping out into his garden, when he met Bunce on the
'Well, Bunce,' said he, in a tone that for him was sharp,
'what is it? do you want me?'
'I was only coming to ask after your reverence,' said the
old bedesman, touching his hat; 'and to inquire about the
news from London,' he added after a pause.
The warden winced, and put his hand to his forehead and
'Attorney Finney has been there this morning,' continued
Bunce, 'and by his looks I guess he is not so well pleased as he
once was, and it has got abroad somehow that the archdeacon
has had down great news from London, and Handy and
Moody are both as black as devils. And I hope,' said the man,
trying to assume a cheery tone, 'that things are looking up,
and that there'll be an end soon to all this stuff which bothers
your reverence so sorely.'
'Well, I wish there may be, Bunce.'
'But about the news, your reverence?' said the old man,
Mr Harding walked on, and shook his head impatiently.
Poor Bunce little knew how he was tormenting his patron.
'If there was anything to cheer you, I should be so glad to
know it,' said he, with a tone of affection which the warden
in all his misery could not resist.
He stopped, and took both the old man's hands in his.
'My friend,' said he, 'my dear old friend, there is nothing;
there is no news to cheer me--God's will be done': and two
small hot tears broke away from his eyes and stole down his
'Then God's will be done,' said the other solemnly; 'but
they told me that there was good news from London, and I
came to wish your reverence joy; but God's will be done,'
and so the warden again walked on, and the bedesman, looking
wistfully after him and receiving no encouragement to follow,
returned sadly to his own abode.
For a couple of hours the warden remained thus in the
garden, now walking, now standing motionless on the turf,
and then, as his legs got weary, sitting unconsciously on the
garden seats, and then walking again. And Eleanor, hidden
behind the muslin curtains of the window, watched him
through the trees as he now came in sight, and then again was
concealed by the turnings of the walk; and thus the time
passed away till five, when the warden crept back to the house
and prepared for dinner.
It was but a sorry meal. The demure parlour-maid, as she
handed the dishes and changed the plates, saw that all was not
right, and was more demure than ever: neither father nor
daughter could eat, and the hateful food was soon cleared
away, and the bottle of port placed upon the table.
'Would you like Bunce to come in, papa?'said Eleanor, thinking
that the company of the old man might lighten his sorrow.
'No, my dear, thank you, not today; but are not you going out,
Eleanor, this lovely afternoon? don't stay in for me, my dear.'
'I thought you seemed so sad, papa.'
'Sad,' said he, irritated; 'well, people must all have their
share of sadness here; I am not more exempt than another:
but kiss me, dearest, and go now; I will, if possible, be more
sociable when you return.'
And Eleanor was again banished from her father's sorrow.
Ah! her desire now was not to find him happy, but to be
allowed to share his sorrows; not to force him to be sociable,
but to persuade him to be trustful.
She put on her bonnet as desired, and went up to Mary
Bold; this was now her daily haunt, for John Bold was up in
London among lawyers and church reformers, diving deep
into other questions than that of the wardenship of Barchester;
supplying information to one member of Parliament, and
dining with another; subscribing to funds for the abolition of
clerical incomes, and seconding at that great national meeting
at the Crown and Anchor a resolution to the effect, that no
clergyman of the Church of England, be he who he might,
should have more than a thousand a year, and none less than
two hundred and fifty. His speech on this occasion was short,
for fifteen had to speak, and the room was hired for two hours
only, at the expiration of which the Quakers and Mr Cobden
were to make use of it for an appeal to the public in aid of the
Emperor of Russia; but it was sharp and effective; at least
he was told so by a companion with whom he now lived much,
and on whom he greatly depended--one Tom Towers, a very
leading genius, and supposed to have high employment on
the staff of The Jupiter.
So Eleanor, as was now her wont, went up to Mary Bold,
and Mary listened kindly, while the daughter spoke much of
her father, and, perhaps kinder still, found a listener in
Eleanor, while she spoke about her brother. In the meantime
the warden sat alone, leaning on the arm of his chair; he had
poured out a glass of wine, but had done so merely from habit,
for he left it untouched; there he sat gazing at the open window,
and thinking, if he can be said to have thought, of the
happiness of his past life. All manner of past delights came
before his mind, which at the time he had enjoyed without
considering them; his easy days, his absence of all kind of
hard work, his pleasant shady home, those twelve old neighbours
whose welfare till now had been the source of so much pleasant
care, the excellence of his children, the friendship of
the dear old bishop, the solemn grandeur of those vaulted
aisles, through which he loved to hear his own voice pealing;
and then that friend of friends, that choice ally that had never
deserted him, that eloquent companion that would always,
when asked, discourse such pleasant music, that violoncello of
his--ah, how happy he had been! but it was over now; his
easy days and absence of work had been the crime which
brought on him his tribulation; his shady home was pleasant
no longer; maybe it was no longer his; the old neighbours,
whose welfare had been so desired by him, were his enemies;
his daughter was as wretched as himself; and even the bishop
was made miserable by his position. He could never again
lift up his voice boldly as he had hitherto done among his
brethren, for he felt that he was disgraced; and he feared even
to touch his bow, for he knew how grievous a sound of wailing,
how piteous a lamentation, it would produce.
He was still sitting in the same chair and the same posture,
having hardly moved a limb for two hours, when Eleanor
came back to tea, and succeeded in bringing him with her
into the drawing-room.
The tea seemed as comfortless as the dinner, though the
warden, who had hitherto eaten nothing all day, devoured
the plateful of bread and butter, unconscious of what he was doing.
Eleanor had made up her mind to force him to talk to her,
but she hardly knew how to commence: she must wait till the urn
was gone, till the servant would no longer be coming in and out.
At last everything was gone, and the drawing-room door was
permanently closed; then Eleanor, getting up and going
round to her father, put her arm round his neck, and said,
'Papa, won't you tell me what it is?'
'What what is, my dear?'
'This new sorrow that torments you; I know you are
'New sorrow! it's no new sorrow, my dear; we have all
our cares sometimes'; and he tried to smile, but it was a
ghastly failure; 'but I shouldn't be so dull a companion;
come, we'll have some music.'
'No, papa, not tonight--it would only trouble you tonight';
and she sat upon his knee, as she sometimes would in their
gayest moods, and with her arm round his neck, she said:
'Papa, I will not leave you till you talk to me; oh, if you only
knew how much good it would do to you, to tell me of it all.'
The father kissed his daughter, and pressed her to his heart;
but still he said nothing: it was so hard to him to speak of his
own sorrows; he was so shy a man even with his own child!
'Oh, papa, do tell me what it is; I know it is about the
hospital, and what they are doing up in London, and what
that cruel newspaper has said; but if there be such cause for
sorrow, let us be sorrowful together; we are all in all to each
other now: dear, dear papa, do speak to me.'
Mr Harding could not well speak now, for the warm tears
were running down his cheeks like rain in May, but he held
his child close to his heart, and squeezed her hand as a lover
might, and she kissed his forehead and his wet cheeks, and lay
upon his bosom, and comforted him as a woman only can do.
, My own child,' he said, as soon as his tears would let him
speak, 'my own, own child, why should you too be unhappy
before it is necessary? It may come to that, that we must
leave this place, but till that time comes, why should your
young days be clouded?'
'And is that all, papa? If that be all, let us leave it, and
have light hearts elsewhere: if that be all, let us go. Oh,
papa, you and I could be happy if we had only bread to eat,
so long as our hearts were light.'
And Eleanor's face was lighted up with enthusiasm as she
told her father how he might banish all his care; and a gleam
of joy shot across his brow as this idea of escape again
presented itself, and he again fancied for a moment that he could
spurn away from him the income which the world envied
him; that he could give the lie to that wielder of the tomahawk
who had dared to write such things of him in The Jupiter;
that he could leave Sir Abraham, and the archdeacon, and
Bold, and the rest of them with their lawsuit among them, and
wipe his hands altogether of so sorrow-stirring a concern. Ah,
what happiness might there be in the distance, with Eleanor
and him in some small cottage, and nothing left of their former
grandeur but their music! Yes, they would walk forth with
their music books, and their instruments, and shaking the dust
from off their feet as they went, leave the ungrateful place.
Never did a poor clergyman sigh for a warm benefice more
anxiously than our warden did now to be rid of his.
'Give it up, papa,' she said again, jumping from his knees
and standing on her feet before him, looking boldly into his
face; 'give it up, papa.'
Oh, it was sad to see how that momentary gleam of joy
passed away; how the look of hope was dispersed from that
sorrowful face, as the remembrance of the archdeacon came
back upon our poor warden, and he reflected that he could
not stir from his now hated post. He was as a man bound with
iron, fettered with adamant: he was in no respect a free
agent; he had no choice. 'Give it up!' Oh if he only could:
what an easy way that were out of all his troubles!
'Papa, don't doubt about it,' she continued, thinking that
his hesitation arose from his unwillingness to abandon so
comfortable a home; 'is it on my account that you would stay
here? Do you think that I cannot be happy without a pony-
carriage and a fine drawing-room? Papa, I never can be
happy here, as long as there is a question as to your honour in
staying here; but I could be gay as the day is long in the
smallest tiny little cottage, if I could see you come in and go
out with a light heart. Oh! papa, your face tells so much;
though you won't speak to me with your voice, I know how
it is with you every time I look at you.'
How he pressed her to his heart again with almost a spasmodic
pressure! How he kissed her as the tears fell like rain from
his old eyes! How he blessed her, and called her by a hundred
soft sweet names which now came new to his lips! How he chid
himself for ever having been unhappy with such a treasure in his
house, such a jewel on his bosom, with so sweet a flower in
the choice garden of his heart! And then the floodgates of
his tongue were loosed, and, at length, with unsparing detail
of circumstances, he told her all that he wished, and all that
he could not do. He repeated those arguments of the archdeacon,
not agreeing in their truth, but explaining his inability to
escape from them--how it had been declared to him that he
was bound to remain where he was by the interests of his order,
by gratitude to the bishop, by the wishes of his friends, by
a sense of duty, which, though he could not understand it,
he was fain to acknowledge. He told her how he had been accused
of cowardice, and though he was not a man to make much of such
a charge before the world, now in the full candour of his heart
he explained to her that such an accusation was grievous to
him; that he did think it would be unmanly to desert his post,
merely to escape his present sufferings, and that, therefore, he
must bear as best he might the misery which was prepared for him.
And did she find these details tedious? Oh, no; she
encouraged him to dilate on every feeling he expressed, till he
laid bare the inmost corners of his heart to her. They spoke
together of the archdeacon, as two children might of a stern,
unpopular, but still respected schoolmaster, and of the bishop
as a parent kind as kind could be, but powerless against an
And then when they had discussed all this, when the father
had told all to the child, she could not be less confiding than
he had been; and as John Bold's name was mentioned between
them, she owned how well she had learned to love him--'had
loved him once,' she said, 'but she would not, could not
do so now--no, even had her troth been plighted to him,
she would have taken it back again--had she sworn to love
him as his wife, she would have discarded him, and not felt
herself forsworn, when he proved himself the enemy of her
But the warden declared that Bold was no enemy of his, and
encouraged her love; and gently rebuked, as he kissed her,
the stern resolve she had made to cast him off; and then he
spoke to her of happier days when their trials would all be
over; and declared that her young heart should not be torn
asunder to please either priest or prelate, dean or archdeacon.
No, not if all Oxford were to convocate together, and agree
as to the necessity of the sacrifice.
And so they greatly comforted each other--and in what
sorrow will not such mutual confidence give consolation!--
and with a last expression of tender love they parted, and went
comparatively happy to their rooms.
When Eleanor laid her head on her pillow that night,
her mind was anxiously intent on some plan by which
she might extricate her father from his misery; and, in her
warm-hearted enthusiasm, self-sacrifice was decided on as the
means to be adopted. Was not so good an Agamemnon
worthy of an Iphigenia? She would herself personally implore
John Bold to desist from his undertaking; she would explain
to him her father's sorrows, the cruel misery of his position;
she would tell him how her father would die if he were thus
dragged before the public and exposed to such unmerited
ignominy; she would appeal to his old friendship, to his
generosity, to his manliness, to his mercy; if need were, she
would kneel to him for the favour she would ask; but before
she did this the idea of love must be banished. There must
be no bargain in the matter. To his mercy, to his generosity,
she could appeal; but as a pure maiden, hitherto even
unsolicited, she could not appeal to his love, nor under such
circumstances could she allow him to do so. Of course, when
so provoked he would declare his passion; that was to be
expected; there had been enough between them to make such
a fact sure; but it was equally certain that he must be
rejected. She could not be understood as saying, Make my
father free and I am the reward. There would be no sacrifice
in that--not so had Jephthah's daughter saved her father--
not so could she show to that kindest, dearest of parents how
much she was able to bear for his good. No; to one resolve
must her whole soul be bound; and so resolving, she felt that
she could make her great request to Bold with as much self-
assured confidence as she could have done to his grandfather.
And now I own I have fears for my heroine; not as to the
upshot of her mission--not in the least as to that; as to the
full success of her generous scheme, and the ultimate result of
such a project, no one conversant with human nature and
novels can have a doubt; but as to the amount of sympathy
she may receive from those of her own sex. Girls below twenty and
old ladies above sixty will do her justice; for in the female heart
the soft springs of sweet romance reopen after many years, and
again gush out with waters pure as in earlier days, and greatly
refresh the path that leads downwards to the grave. But I fear
that the majority of those between these two eras will not approve
of Eleanor's plan. I fear that unmarried ladies of thirty-five
will declare that there can be no probability of so absurd a
project being carried through; that young women on their knees
before their lovers are sure to get kissed, and that they would
not put themselves in such a position did they not expect it;
that Eleanor is going to Bold only because circumstances prevent
Bold from coming to her; that she is certainly a little fool, or a
little schemer, but that in all probability she is thinking a
good deal more about herself than her father.
Dear ladies, you are right as to your appreciation of the
circumstances, but very wrong as to Miss Harding's character.
Miss Harding was much younger than you are, and could not,
therefore, know, as you may do, to what dangers such an
encounter might expose her. She may get kissed; I think it very
probable that she will; but I give my solemn word and positive
assurance, that the remotest idea of such a catastrophe never
occurred to her as she made the great resolve now alluded to.
And then she slept; and then she rose refreshed; and met
her father with her kindest embrace and most loving smiles;
and on the whole their breakfast was by no means so triste as
had been their dinner the day before; and then, making some
excuse to her father for so soon leaving him, she started on the
commencement of her operations.
She knew that John Bold was in London, and that, therefore,
the scene itself could not be enacted today; but she also
knew that he was soon to be home, probably on the next day,
and it was necessary that some little plan for meeting him
should be concerted with his sister Mary. When she got up to
the house, she went, as usual, into the morning sitting-room,
and was startled by perceiving, by a stick, a greatcoat, and
sundry parcels which were lying about, that Bold must already
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