Part 3 out of 5
'John has come back so suddenly,' said Mary, coming into
the room; 'he has been travelling all night.'
'Then I'll come up again some other time,' said Eleanor,
about to beat a retreat in her sudden dismay.
'He's out now, and will be for the next two hours,' said the
other; 'he's with that horrid Finney; he only came to see
him, and he returns by the mail train tonight.'
Returns by the mail train tonight, thought Eleanor to herself,
as she strove to screw up her courage--away again tonight--then it
must be now or never; and she again sat down, having risen to go.
She wished the ordeal could have been postponed: she had
fully made up her mind to do the deed, but she had not made
up her mind to do it this very day; and now she felt ill at ease,
astray, and in difficulty.
'Mary,' she began, 'I must see your brother before he goes back.'
'Oh yes, of course,' said the other; 'I know he'll be delighted
to see you'; and she tried to treat it as a matter of course,
but she was not the less surprised; for Mary and Eleanor had
daily talked over John Bold and his conduct, and his love, and
Mary would insist on calling Eleanor her sister, and would scold
her for not calling Bold by his Christian name; and Eleanor
would half confess her love, but like a modest maiden would
protest against such familiarities even with the name of her
lover; and so they talked hour after hour, and Mary Bold, who
was much the elder, looked forward with happy confidence to the
day when Eleanor would not be ashamed to call her her sister.
She was, however, fully sure that just at present Eleanor would
be much more likely to avoid her brother than to seek him.
'Mary, I must see your brother, now, today, and beg from
him a great favour'; and she spoke with a solemn air, not at
all usual to her; and then she went on, and opened to her
friend all her plan, her well-weighed scheme for saving her
father from a sorrow which would, she said, if it lasted, bring
him to his grave. 'But, Mary,' she continued, 'you must now,
you know, cease any joking about me and Mr Bold; you must
now say no more about that; I am not ashamed to beg this
favour from your brother, but when I have done so, there can
never be anything further between us'; and this she said with
a staid and solemn air, quite worthy of Jephthah's daughter
or of Iphigenia either.
It was quite clear that Mary Bold did not follow the argument.
That Eleanor Harding should appeal, on behalf of her father, to
Bold's better feelings seemed to Mary quite natural; it
seemed quite natural that he should relent, overcome by
such filial tears, and by so much beauty; but, to her thinking,
it was at any rate equally natural, that having relented, John
should put his arm round his mistress's waist, and say: 'Now
having settled that, let us be man and wife, and all will end
happily!' Why his good nature should not be rewarded,
when such reward would operate to the disadvantage of none,
Mary, who had more sense than romance, could not understand;
and she said as much.
Eleanor, however, was firm, and made quite an eloquent
speech to support her own view of the question: she could not
condescend, she said, to ask such a favour on any other terms
than those proposed. Mary might, perhaps, think her high-
flown, but she had her own ideas, and she could not submit to
sacrifice her self-respect.
'But I am sure you love him--don't you?' pleaded Mary;
'and I am sure he loves you better than anything in the world.'
Eleanor was going to make another speech, but a tear came
to each eye, and she could not; so she pretended to blow her
nose, and walked to the window, and made a little inward call
on her own courage, and finding herself somewhat sustained,
said sententiously: 'Mary, this is nonsense.'
'But you do love him,' said Mary, who had followed her
friend to the window, and now spoke with her arms close
wound round the other's waist. 'You do love him with all
your heart--you know you do; I defy you to deny it.'
'I--' commenced Eleanor, turning sharply round to refute
the charge; but the intended falsehood stuck in her throat,
and never came to utterance. She could not deny her love,
so she took plentifully to tears, and leant upon her friend's
bosom and sobbed there, and protested that, love or no love,
it would make no difference in her resolve, and called Mary,
a thousand times, the most cruel of girls, and swore her to
secrecy by a hundred oaths, and ended by declaring that the
girl who could betray her friend's love, even to a brother,
would be as black a traitor as a soldier in a garrison who should
open the city gates to the enemy. While they were yet discussing
the matter, Bold returned, and Eleanor was forced into
sudden action: she had either to accomplish or abandon her
plan; and having slipped into her friend's bedroom, as the
gentleman closed the hall door, she washed the marks of tears
from her eyes, and resolved within herself to go through with
it. 'Tell him I am here,' said she, 'and coming in; and mind,
whatever you do, don't leave us.' So Mary informed her
brother, with a somewhat sombre air, that Miss Harding was
in the next room, and was coming to speak to him.
Eleanor was certainly thinking more of her father than herself,
as she arranged her hair before the glass, and removed the
traces of sorrow from her face; and yet I should be untrue if
I said that she was not anxious to appear well before her lover:
why else was she so sedulous with that stubborn curl that
would rebel against her hand, and smooth so eagerly her
ruffled ribands? why else did she damp her eyes to dispel the
redness, and bite her pretty lips to bring back the colour? Of
course she was anxious to look her best, for she was but a
mortal angel after all. But had she been immortal, had she
flitted back to the sitting-room on a cherub's wings, she could
not have had a more faithful heart, or a truer wish to save her
father at any cost to herself.
John Bold had not met her since the day when she left him
in dudgeon in the cathedral close. Since that his whole time
had been occupied in promoting the cause against her father,
and not unsuccessfully. He had often thought of her, and
turned over in his mind a hundred schemes for showing her
how disinterested was his love. He would write to her and
beseech her not to allow the performance of a public duty to
injure him in her estimation; he would write to Mr Harding,
explain all his views, and boldly claim the warden's daughter,
urging that the untoward circumstances between them need
be no bar to their ancient friendship, or to a closer tie; he
would throw himself on his knees before his mistress; he would
wait and marry the daughter when the father has lost his
home and his income; he would give up the lawsuit and go to
Australia, with her of course, leaving The Jupiter and Mr
Finney to complete the case between them. Sometimes as he
woke in the morning fevered and impatient, he would blow
out his brains and have done with all his cares--but this idea
was generally consequent on an imprudent supper enjoyed in
company with Tom Towers.
How beautiful Eleanor appeared to him as she slowly walked
into the room! Not for nothing had all those little cares been
taken. Though her sister, the archdeacon's wife, had spoken
slightingly of her charms, Eleanor was very beautiful when
seen aright. Hers was not of those impassive faces, which have
the beauty of a marble bust; finely chiselled features, perfect
in every line, true to the rules of symmetry, as lovely to a
stranger as to a friend, unvarying unless in sickness, or as age
affects them. She had no startling brilliancy of beauty, no
pearly whiteness, no radiant carnation. She had not the
majestic contour that rivets attention, demands instant wonder
and then disappoints by the coldness of its charms. You might
pass Eleanor Harding in the street without notice, but you
could hardly pass an evening with her and not lose your heart.
She had never appeared more lovely to her lover than she
now did. Her face was animated though it was serious, and
her full dark lustrous eyes shone with anxious energy; her
hand trembled as she took his, and she could hardly pronounce
his name, when she addressed him. Bold wished with all his
heart that the Australian scheme was in the act of realisation,
and that he and Eleanor were away together, never to hear
further of the lawsuit.
He began to talk, asked after her health--said something
about London being very stupid, and more about Barchester
being very pleasant; declared the weather to be very hot, and
then inquired after Mr Harding.
'My father is not very well,' said Eleanor.
John Bold was very sorry, so sorry: he hoped it was nothing
serious, and put on the unmeaningly solemn face which people
usually use on such occasions.
'I especially want to speak to you about my father, Mr Bold;
indeed, I am now here on purpose to do so. Papa is very unhappy,
very unhappy indeed, about this affair of the hospital:
you would pity him, Mr Bold, if you could see how wretched
it has made him.'
'Oh, Miss Harding!'
'Indeed you would--anyone would pity him; but a friend,
an old friend as you are--indeed you would. He is an altered
man; his cheerfulness has all gone, and his sweet temper, and
his kind happy tone of voice; you would hardly know him if
you saw him, Mr Bold, he is so much altered; and--and--if
this goes on, he will die.' Here Eleanor had recourse to her
handkerchief, and so also had her auditors; but she plucked
up her courage, and went on with her tale. 'He will break his
heart, and die. I am sure, Mr Bold, it was not you who wrote
those cruel things in the newspaper--'
John Bold eagerly protested that it was not, but his heart
smote him as to his intimate alliance with Tom Towers.
'No, I am sure it was not; and papa has not for a moment
thought so; you would not be so cruel--but it has nearly
killed him. Papa cannot bear to think that people should so
speak of him, and that everybody should hear him so spoken
of:--they have called him avaricious, and dishonest, and they
say he is robbing the old men, and taking the money of the
hospital for nothing.'
'I have never said so, Miss Harding. I--'
'No,' continued Eleanor, interrupting him, for she was now
in the full flood-tide of her eloquence; 'no, I am sure you have
not; but others have said so; and if this goes on, if such things
are written again, it will kill papa. Oh! Mr Bold, if you only
knew the state he is in! Now papa does not care much about money.'
Both her auditors, brother and sister, assented to this, and
declared on their own knowledge that no man lived less
addicted to filthy lucre than the warden.
'Oh! it's so kind of you to say so, Mary, and of you too,
Mr Bold. I couldn't bear that people should think unjustly
of papa. Do you know he would give up the hospital altogether,
only he cannot. The archdeacon says it would be cowardly,
and that he would be deserting his order, and injuring the
church. Whatever may happen, papa will not do that: he would
leave the place tomorrow willingly, and give up his house, and
the income and all if the archdeacon--'
Eleanor was going to say 'would let him,' but she stopped herself
before she had compromised her father's dignity; and giving
a long sigh, she added--'Oh, I do so wish he would.'
'No one who knows Mr Harding personally accuses him for
a moment,' said Bold.
'It is he that has to bear the punishment; it is he that
suffers,' said Eleanor; 'and what for? what has he done
wrong? how has he deserved this persecution? he that never
had an unkind thought in his life, he that never said an unkind
word!' and here she broke down, and the violence of her sobs
stopped her utterance.
Bold, for the fifth or sixth time, declared that neither he nor
any of his friends imputed any blame personally to Mr Harding.
'Then why should he be persecuted?' ejaculated Eleanor
through her tears, forgetting in her eagerness that her intention
had been to humble herself as a suppliant before John Bold--
'why should he be singled out for scorn and disgrace? why
should he be made so wretched? Oh! Mr Bold'--and she turned
towards him as though the kneeling scene were about to be
commenced--'oh! Mr Bold, why did you begin all this? You, whom
we all so--so--valued!'
To speak the truth, the reformer's punishment was certainly
come upon him, for his present plight was not enviable; he
had nothing for it but to excuse himself by platitudes about
public duty, which it is by no means worth while to repeat, and
to reiterate his eulogy on Mr Harding's character. His position
was certainly a cruel one: had any gentleman called upon
him on behalf of Mr Harding he could of course have declined
to enter upon the subject; but how could he do so with a
beautiful girl, with the daughter of the man whom he had
injured, with his own love?
In the meantime Eleanor recollected herself, and again
summoned up her energies. 'Mr Bold,' said she, 'I have
come here to implore you to abandon this proceeding.' He
stood up from his seat, and looked beyond measure distressed.
'To implore you to abandon it, to implore you to spare my
father, to spare either his life or his reason, for one or the other
will pay the forfeit if this goes on. I know how much I am
asking, and how little right I have to ask anything; but I think
you will listen to me as it is for my father. Oh, Mr Bold, pray,
pray do this for us--pray do not drive to distraction a man who
has loved you so well.'
She did not absolutely kneel to him, but she followed him as
he moved from his chair, and laid her soft hands imploringly
upon his arm. Ah! at any other time how exquisitely valuable
would have been that touch! but now he was distraught,
dumbfounded and unmanned. What could he say to that
sweet suppliant; how explain to her that the matter now was
probably beyond his control; how tell her that he could not
quell the storm which he had raised?
'Surely, surely, John, you cannot refuse her,' said his sister.
'I would give her my soul,' said he, 'if it would serve her.'
'Oh, Mr Bold,' said Eleanor, 'do not speak so; I ask
nothing for myself; and what I ask for my father, it cannot
harm you to grant.'
'I would give her my soul, if it would serve her,' said Bold,
still addressing his sister; 'everything I have is hers, if she will
accept it; my house, my heart, my all; every hope of my
breast is centred in her; her smiles are sweeter to me than the
sun, and when I see her in sorrow as she now is, every nerve
in my body suffers. No man can love better than I love her.'
'No, no, no,' ejaculated Eleanor; 'there can be no talk of
love between us. Will you protect my father from the evil you
have brought upon him?'
'Oh, Eleanor, I will do anything; let me tell you how I
'No, no, no!' she almost screamed. 'This is unmanly of
you, Mr Bold. Will you, will you, will you leave my father to
die in peace in his quiet home?' and seizing him by his arm
and hand, she followed him across the room towards the door.
'I will not leave you till you promise me; I'll cling to you in
the street; I'll kneel to you before all the people. You shall
promise me this, you shall promise me this, you shall--' And
she clung to him with fixed tenacity, and reiterated her resolve
with hysterical passion.
'Speak to her, John; answer her,' said Mary, bewildered
by the unexpected vehemence of Eleanor's manner; 'you
cannot have the cruelty to refuse her.'
'Promise me, promise me,' said Eleanor; 'say that my
father is safe--one word will do. I know how true you are;
say one word, and I will let you go.'
She still held him, and looked eagerly into his face, with her
hair dishevelled and her eyes all bloodshot. She had no
thought now of herself, no care now for her appearance; and
yet he thought he had never seen her half so lovely; he was
amazed at the intensity of her beauty, and could hardly believe
that it was she whom he had dared to love. 'Promise me,'
said she; 'I will not leave you till you have promised me.'
'I will,' said he at length; 'I do--all I can do, I will do.'
'Then may God Almighty bless you for ever and ever!' said
Eleanor; and falling on her knees with her face in Mary's
lap, she wept and sobbed like a child: her strength had carried
her through her allotted task, but now it was well nigh exhausted.
In a while she was partly recovered, and got up to go, and
would have gone, had not Bold made her understand that it
was necessary for him to explain to her how far it was in his
power to put an end to the proceedings which had been taken
against Mr Harding. Had he spoken on any other subject,
she would have vanished, but on that she was bound to hear
him; and now the danger of her position commenced. While
she had an active part to play, while she clung to him as a
suppliant, it was easy enough for her to reject his proffered
love, and cast from her his caressing words; but now--now
that he had yielded, and was talking to her calmly and kindly
as to her father's welfare, it was hard enough for her to do so.
Then Mary Bold assisted her; but now she was quite on her
brother's side. Mary said but little, but every word she did
say gave some direct and deadly blow. The first thing she did
was to make room for her brother between herself and Eleanor
on the sofa: as the sofa was full large for three, Eleanor could
not resent this, nor could she show suspicion by taking another
seat; but she felt it to be a most unkind proceeding. And then
Mary would talk as though they three were joined in some
close peculiar bond together; as though they were in future
always to wish together, contrive together, and act together;
and Eleanor could not gainsay this; she could not make
another speech, and say, 'Mr Bold and I are strangers, Mary,
and are always to remain so!'
He explained to her that, though undoubtedly the proceeding
against the hospital had commenced solely with himself,
many others were now interested in the matter, some of whom
were much more influential than himself; that it was to him
alone, however, that the lawyers looked for instruction as to
their doings, and, more important still, for the payment of
their bills; and he promised that he would at once give them
notice that it was his intention to abandon the cause. He
thought, he said, that it was not probable that any active steps
would be taken after he had seceded from the matter, though
it was possible that some passing allusion might still be made
to the hospital in the daily Jupiter. He promised, however,
that he would use his best influence to prevent any further
personal allusion being made to Mr Harding. He then suggested
that he would on that afternoon ride over himself to Dr Grantly,
and inform him of his altered intentions on the subject, and with
this view, he postponed his immediate return to London.
This was all very pleasant, and Eleanor did enjoy a sort of
triumph in the feeling that she had attained the object for
which she had sought this interview; but still the part of
Iphigenia was to be played out. The gods had heard her prayer,
granted her request, and were they not to have their promised
sacrifice? Eleanor was not a girl to defraud them wilfully; so,
as soon as she decently could, she got up for her bonnet.
'Are you going so soon?' said Bold, who half an hour since
would have given a hundred pounds that he was in London,
and she still at Barchester.
'Oh yes!' said she. 'I am so much obliged to you; papa
will feel this to be so kind.' She did not quite appreciate all
her father's feelings. 'Of course I must tell him, and I will
say that you will see the archdeacon.'
'But may I not say one word for myself?' said Bold.
'I'll fetch you your bonnet, Eleanor,' said Mary, in the act
of leaving the room.
'Mary, Mary,' said she, getting up and catching her by her
dress; 'don't go, I'll get my bonnet myself.' But Mary, the
traitress, stood fast by the door, and permitted no such retreat.
And with a volley of impassioned love, John Bold poured
forth the feelings of his heart, swearing, as men do, some truths
and many falsehoods; and Eleanor repeated with every shade
of vehemence the 'No, no, no,' which had had a short time
since so much effect; but now, alas! its strength was gone.
Let her be never so vehement, her vehemence was not respected;
all her 'No, no, no's' were met with counter-asseverations,
and at last were overpowered. The ground was cut from under her on
every side. She was pressed to say whether her father would
object; whether she herself had any aversion (aversion! God help
her, poor girl! the word nearly made her jump into his arms); any
other preference (this she loudly disclaimed); whether it was
impossible that she should love him (Eleanor could not say that it
was impossible): and so at last all her defences demolished, all
her maiden barriers swept away, she capitulated, or rather marched
out with the honours of war, vanquished evidently, palpably
vanquished, but still not reduced to the necessity of confessing it.
And so the altar on the shore of the modern Aulis reeked
with no sacrifice.
Mr Bold's Visit to Plumstead
Whether or no the ill-natured prediction made by certain
ladies in the beginning of the last chapter was or was not
carried out to the letter, I am not in a position to state.
Eleanor, however, certainly did feel herself to have been
baffled as she returned home with all her news to her father.
Certainly she had been victorious, certainly she had achieved
her object, certainly she was not unhappy, and yet she did not
feel herself triumphant. Everything would run smooth now.
Eleanor was not at all addicted to the Lydian school of
romance; she by no means objected to her lover because he
came in at the door under the name of Absolute, instead of
pulling her out of a window under the name of Beverley; and
yet she felt that she had been imposed upon, and could hardly
think of Mary Bold with sisterly charity. 'I did think I could
have trusted Mary,' she said to herself over and over again.
'Oh that she should have dared to keep me in the room when
I tried to get out!' Eleanor, however, felt that the game was
up, and that she had now nothing further to do but to add to
the budget of news which was prepared for her father, that
John Bold was her accepted lover.
We will, however, now leave her on her way, and go with
John Bold to Plumstead Episcopi, merely premising that
Eleanor on reaching home will not find things so smooth as she
fondly expected; two messengers had come, one to her father
and the other to the archdeacon, and each of them much
opposed to her quiet mode of solving all their difficulties; the
one in the shape of a number of The Jupiter, and the other in
that of a further opinion from Sir Abraham Haphazard.
John Bold got on his horse and rode off to Plumstead Episcopi;
not briskly and with eager spur, as men do ride when self-
satisfied with their own intentions; but slowly, modestly,
thoughtfully, and somewhat in dread of the coming interview.
Now and again he would recur to the scene which was just
over, support himself by the remembrance of the silence that
gives consent, and exult as a happy lover. But even this feeling
was not without a shade of remorse. Had he not shown himself
childishly weak thus to yield up the resolve of many hours
of thought to the tears of a pretty girl? How was he to meet
his lawyer? How was he to back out of a matter in which his
name was already so publicly concerned? What, oh what!
was he to say to Tom Towers? While meditating these painful
things he reached the lodge leading up to the archdeacon's
glebe, and for the first time in his life found himself within the
All the doctor's children were together on the slope of the
lawn close to the road, as Bold rode up to the hall door. They
were there holding high debate on matters evidently of deep
interest at Plumstead Episcopi, and the voices of the boys had
been heard before the lodge gate was closed.
Florinda and Grizzel, frightened at the sight of so well-
known an enemy to the family, fled on the first appearance of
the horseman, and ran in terror to their mother's arms; not
for them was it, tender branches, to resent injuries, or as
members of a church militant to put on armour against its
enemies. But the boys stood their ground like heroes, and
boldly demanded the business of the intruder.
'Do you want to see anybody here, sir?' said Henry, with a
defiant eye and a hostile tone, which plainly said that at any
rate no one there wanted to see the person so addressed; and
as he spoke he brandished aloft his garden water-pot, holding
it by the spout, ready for the braining of anyone.
'Henry,' said Charles James slowly, and with a certain
dignity of diction, 'Mr Bold of course would not have come
without wanting to see someone; if Mr Bold has a proper
ground for wanting to see some person here, of course he has
a right to come.'
But Samuel stepped lightly up to the horse's head, and
offered his services. 'Oh, Mr Bold,' said he, 'papa, I'm sure,
will be glad to see you; I suppose you want to see papa. Shall
I hold your horse for you? Oh what a very pretty horse!' and
he turned his head and winked funnily at his brothers. 'Papa
has heard such good news about the old hospital today. We
know you'll be glad to hear it, because you're such a friend of
grandpapa Harding, and so much in love with Aunt Nelly!'
'How d'ye do, lads?' said Bold, dismounting. 'I want to
see your father if he's at home.'
'Lads!' said Henry, turning on his heel and addressing himself
to his brother, but loud enough to be heard by Bold; 'lads,
indeed! if we're lads, what does he call himself?'
Charles James condescended to say nothing further, but
cocked his hat with much precision, and left the visitor to the
care of his youngest brother.
Samuel stayed till the servant came, chatting and patting
the horse; but as soon as Bold had disappeared through the
front door, he stuck a switch under the animal's tail to make
him kick if possible.
The church reformer soon found himself tete-a-tete with the
archdeacon in that same room, in that sanctum sanctorum of
the rectory, to which we have already been introduced. As he
entered he heard the click of a certain patent lock, but it struck
him with no surprise; the worthy clergyman was no doubt
hiding from eyes profane his last much-studied sermon; for
the archdeacon, though he preached but seldom, was famous
for his sermons. No room, Bold thought, could have been
more becoming for a dignitary of the church; each wall was
loaded with theology; over each separate bookcase was printed
in small gold letters the names of those great divines whose
works were ranged beneath: beginning from the early fathers
in due chronological order, there were to be found the precious
labours of the chosen servants of the church down to the last
pamphlet written in opposition to the consecration of Dr
Hampden; and raised above this were to be seen the busts of
the greatest among the great: Chrysostom, St Augustine,
Thomas a Becket, Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop Laud, and
Every appliance that could make study pleasant and give
ease to the overtoiled brain was there; chairs made to relieve
each limb and muscle; reading-desks and writing-desks to
suit every attitude; lamps and candles mechanically contrived
to throw their light on any favoured spot, as the student might
desire; a shoal of newspapers to amuse the few leisure
moments which might be stolen from the labours of the day;
and then from the window a view right through a bosky vista
along which ran a broad green path from the rectory to the
church--at the end of which the tawny-tinted fine old tower
was seen with all its variegated pinnacles and parapets. Few
parish churches in England are in better repair, or better
worth keeping so, than that at Plumstead Episcopi; and yet
it is built in a faulty style: the body of the church is low--so
low, that the nearly flat leaden roof would be visible from the
churchyard, were it not for the carved parapet with which it
is surrounded. It is cruciform, though the transepts are
irregular, one being larger than the other; and the tower is
much too high in proportion to the church. But the colour of
the building is perfect; it is that rich yellow gray which one
finds nowhere but in the south and west of England, and
which is so strong a characteristic of most of our old houses of
Tudor architecture. The stone work also is beautiful; the
mullions of the windows and the thick tracery of the Gothic
workmanship is as rich as fancy can desire; and though in
gazing on such a structure one knows by rule that the old
priests who built it, built it wrong, one cannot bring oneself to
wish that they should have made it other than it is.
When Bold was ushered into the book-room, he found its
owner standing with his back to the empty fire-place ready to
receive him, and he could not but perceive that that expansive
brow was elated with triumph, and that those full heavy lips bore
more prominently than usual an appearance of arrogant success.
'Well, Mr Bold,' said he--'well, what can I do for you?
Very happy, I can assure you, to do anything for such a friend
of my father-in-law.'
'I hope you'll excuse my calling, Dr Grantly.'
'Certainly, certainly,' said the archdeacon; 'I can assure
you, no apology is necessary from Mr Bold; only let me know
what I can do for him.'
Dr Grantly was standing himself, and he did not ask Bold
to sit, and therefore he had to tell his tale standing, leaning on
the table, with his hat in his hand. He did, however, manage
to tell it; and as the archdeacon never once interrupted him,
or even encouraged him by a single word, he was not long in
coming to the end of it.
'And so, Mr Bold, I'm to understand, I believe, that you are
desirous of abandoning this attack upon Mr Harding.'
'Oh, Dr Grantly, there has been no attack, I can assure you--'
'Well, well, we won't quarrel about words; I should call it
an attack--most men would so call an endeavour to take away
from a man every shilling of income that he has to live upon;
but it sha'n't be an attack, if you don't like it; you wish to
abandon this--this little game of backgammon you've begun to play.'
'I intend to put an end to the legal proceedings which I have
'I understand,' said the archdeacon. 'You've already had
enough of it; well, I can't say that I am surprised; carrying
on a losing lawsuit where one has nothing to gain, but everything
to pay, is not pleasant.'
Bold turned very red in the face. 'You misinterpret my
motives,' said he; 'but, however, that is of little consequence.
I did not come to trouble you with my motives, but to tell you
a matter of fact. Good-morning, Dr Grantly.'
'One moment--one moment,' said the other. 'I don't
exactly appreciate the taste which induced you to make any
personal communication to me on the subject; but I dare say
I'm wrong, I dare say your judgment is the better of the two;
but as you have done me the honour--as you have, as it were,
forced me into a certain amount of conversation on a subject
which had better, perhaps, have been left to our lawyers, you will
excuse me if I ask you to hear my reply to your communication.'
'I am in no hurry, Dr Grantly.'
'Well, I am, Mr Bold; my time is not exactly leisure time, and,
therefore, if you please, we'll go to the point at once--you're
going to abandon this lawsuit?'--and he paused for a reply.
'Yes, Dr Grantly, I am.'
'Having exposed a gentleman who was one of your father's
warmest friends to all the ignominy and insolence which the
press could heap upon his name, having somewhat ostentatiously
declared that it was your duty as a man of high public
virtue to protect those poor old fools whom you have humbugged
there at the hospital, you now find that the game costs
more than it's worth, and so you make up your mind to have
done with it. A prudent resolution, Mr Bold; but it is a pity
you should have been so long coming to it. Has it struck you
that we may not now choose to give over? that we may find it
necessary to punish the injury you have done to us? Are you
aware, sir, that we have gone to enormous expense to resist
this iniquitous attempt of yours?'
Bold's face was now furiously red, and he nearly crushed his
hat between his hands; but he said nothing.
'We have found it necessary to employ the best advice that
money could procure. Are you aware, sir, what may be the
probable cost of securing the services of the attorney-general?'
'Not in the least, Dr Grantly.'
'I dare say not, sir. When you recklessly put this affair into
the hands of your friend Mr Finney, whose six-and-eightpences
and thirteen-and-fourpences may, probably, not amount to a
large sum, you were indifferent as to the cost and suffering
which such a proceeding might entail on others; but are you
aware, sir, that these crushing costs must now come out of your
'Any demand of such a nature which Mr Harding's lawyer
may have to make will doubtless be made to my lawyer.'
'"Mr Harding's lawyer and my lawyer!" Did you come
here merely to refer me to the lawyers? Upon my word I
think the honour of your visit might have been spared! And
now, sir, I'll tell you what my opinion is--my opinion is, that
we shall not allow you to withdraw this matter from the courts.'
'You can do as you please, Dr Grantly; good-morning.'
'Hear me out, sir,' said the archdeacon; 'I have here in my
hands the last opinion given in this matter by Sir Abraham
Haphazard. I dare say you have already heard of this--I
dare say it has had something to do with your visit here today.'
'I know nothing whatever of Sir Abraham Haphazard or
'Be that as it may, here it is; he declares most explicitly that
under no phasis of the affair whatever have you a leg to stand
upon; that Mr Harding is as safe in his hospital as I am here
in my rectory; that a more futile attempt to destroy a man
was never made, than this which you have made to ruin Mr
Harding. Here,' and he slapped the paper on the table, 'I
have this opinion from the very first lawyer in the land; and
under these circumstances you expect me to make you a low
bow for your kind offer to release Mr Harding from the toils
of your net! Sir, your net is not strong enough to hold him;
sir, your net has fallen to pieces, and you knew that well
enough before I told you--and now, sir, I'll wish you good-
morning, for I'm busy.'
Bold was now choking with passion. He had let the archdeacon
run on because he knew not with what words to
interrupt him; but now that he had been so defied and insulted,
he could not leave the room without some reply.
'Dr Grantly,' he commenced.
'I have nothing further to say or to hear,' said the archdeacon.
'I'll do myself the honour to order your horse.' And he rang
'I came here, Dr Grantly, with the warmest, kindest feelings--'
'Oh, of course you did; nobody doubts it.'
'With the kindest feelings--and they have been most grossly
outraged by your treatment.'
'Of course they have--I have not chosen to see my father-in-law
ruined; what an outrage that has been to your feelings!'
'The time will come, Dr Grantly, when you will understand
why I called upon you today.'
'No doubt, no doubt. Is Mr Bold's horse there? That's
right; open the front door. Good-morning, Mr Bold'; and
the doctor stalked into his own drawing-room, closing the door
behind him, and making it quite impossible that John Bold
should speak another word.
As he got on his horse, which he was fain to do feeling like a dog
turned out of a kitchen, he was again greeted by little Sammy.
'Good-bye, Mr Bold; I hope we may have the pleasure of
seeing you again before long; I am sure papa will always be
glad to see you.'
That was certainly the bitterest moment in John Bold's life.
Not even the remembrance of his successful love could comfort
him; nay, when he thought of Eleanor he felt that it was that
very love which had brought him to such a pass. That he
should have been so insulted, and be unable to reply! That he
should have given up so much to the request of a girl, and then
have had his motives so misunderstood! That he should have
made so gross a mistake as this visit of his to the archdeacon's!
He bit the top of his whip, till he penetrated the horn of which
it was made: he struck the poor animal in his anger, and then
was doubly angry with himself at his futile passion. He had
been so completely checkmated, so palpably overcome! and
what was he to do? He could not continue his action after
pledging himself to abandon it; nor was there any revenge in
that--it was the very step to which his enemy had endeavoured
to goad him!
He threw the reins to the servant who came to take his horse,
and rushed upstairs into his drawing-room, where his sister
Mary was sitting.
'If there be a devil,' said he, 'a real devil here on earth, it is
Dr Grantly.' He vouchsafed her no further intelligence, but
again seizing his hat, he rushed out, and took his departure for
London without another word to anyone.
The Warden's Decision
The meeting between Eleanor and her father was not so
stormy as that described in the last chapter, but it was
hardly more successful. On her return from Bold's house she
found her father in a strange state. He was not sorrowful and
silent as he had been on that memorable day when his son-in-law
lectured him as to all that he owed to his order; nor was
he in his usual quiet mood. When Eleanor reached the hospital,
he was walking to and fro upon the lawn, and she soon saw
that he was much excited.
'I am going to London, my dear,' he said as soon as he
'Yes, my dear, to London; I will have this matter settled
some way; there are some things, Eleanor, which I cannot bear.'
'Oh, papa, what is it?' said she, leading him by the arm
into the house. 'I had such good news for you, and now you
make me fear I am too late. And then, before he could let
her know what had caused this sudden resolve, or could point
to the fatal paper which lay on the table, she told him that the
lawsuit was over, that Bold had commissioned her to assure
her father in his name that it would be abandoned,--that there
was no further cause for misery, that the whole matter might
be looked on as though it had never been discussed. She did
not tell him with what determined vehemence she had obtained
this concession in his favour, nor did she mention the price
she was to pay for it.
The warden did not express himself peculiarly gratified at
this intelligence, and Eleanor, though she had not worked for
thanks, and was by no means disposed to magnify her own good
offices, felt hurt at the manner in which her news was received.
'Mr Bold can act as he thinks proper, my love,' said he; 'if
Mr Bold thinks he has been wrong, of course he will discontinue
what he is doing; but that cannot change my purpose.'
'Oh, papa!' she exclaimed, all but crying with vexation;
'I thought you would have been so happy--I thought all
would have been right now.'
'Mr Bold,' continued he, 'has set great people to work--so
great that I doubt they are now beyond his control. Read
that, my dear.' The warden, doubling up a number of The
Jupiter, pointed to the peculiar article which she was to read.
It was to the last of the three leaders, which are generally
furnished daily for the support of the nation, that Mr Harding
directed her attention. It dealt some heavy blows on various
clerical delinquents; on families who received their tens of
thousands yearly for doing nothing; on men who, as the
article stated, rolled in wealth which they had neither earned
nor inherited, and which was in fact stolen from the poorer
clergy. It named some sons of bishops, and grandsons of
archbishops; men great in their way, who had redeemed their
disgrace in the eyes of many by the enormity of their plunder;
and then, having disposed of these leviathans, it descended to
'We alluded some weeks since to an instance of similar
injustice, though in a more humble scale, in which the warden
of an almshouse at Barchester has become possessed of the
income of the greater part of the whole institution. Why an
almshouse should have a warden we cannot pretend to explain,
nor can we say what special need twelve old men can have for
the services of a separate clergyman, seeing that they have
twelve reserved seats for themselves in Barchester Cathedral.
But be this as it may, let the gentleman call himself warden
or precentor, or what he will, let him be never so scrupulous
in exacting religious duties from his twelve dependents, or
never so negligent as regards the services of the cathedral, it
appears palpably clear that he can be entitled to no portion of
the revenue of the hospital, excepting that which the founder
set apart for him; and it is equally clear that the founder did
not intend that three-fifths of his charity should be so consumed.
'The case is certainly a paltry one after the tens of thousands
with which we have been dealing, for the warden's income is
after all but a poor eight hundred a year: eight hundred a
year is not magnificent preferment of itself, and the warden
may, for anything we know, be worth much more to the
church; but if so, let the church pay him out of funds justly
at its own disposal.
'We allude to the question of the Barchester almshouse at
the present moment, because we understand that a plea has
been set up which will be peculiarly revolting to the minds
of English churchmen. An action has been taken against Mr
Warden Harding, on behalf of the almsmen, by a gentleman
acting solely on public grounds, and it is to be argued that Mr
Harding takes nothing but what he received as a servant of the
hospital, and that he is not himself responsible for the amount
of stipend given to him for his work. Such a plea would
doubtless be fair, if anyone questioned the daily wages of a
bricklayer employed on the building, or the fee of the charwoman
who cleans it; but we cannot envy the feeling of a clergyman
of the Church of England who could allow such an argument to be
put in his mouth.
'If this plea be put forward we trust Mr Harding will be
forced as a witness to state the nature of his employment; the
amount of work that he does; the income which he receives;
and the source from whence he obtained his appointment.
We do not think he will receive much public sympathy to
atone for the annoyance of such an examination.'
As Eleanor read the article her face flushed with indignation,
and when she had finished it, she almost feared to look
up at her father.
'Well, my dear,' said he, 'what do you think of that--is it
worth while to be a warden at that price?'
'Oh, papa;--dear papa!'
'Mr Bold can't un-write that, my dear--Mr Bold can't say
that that sha'n't be read by every clergyman at Oxford; nay,
by every gentleman in the land': and then he walked up and
down the room, while Eleanor in mute despair followed him
with her eyes. 'And I'll tell you what, my dear,' he continued,
speaking now very calmly, and in a forced manner very unlike
himself; 'Mr Bold can't dispute the truth of every word in
that article you have just read--nor can I.' Eleanor stared
at him, as though she scarcely understood the words he was
speaking. 'Nor can I, Eleanor: that's the worst of all, or
would be so if there were no remedy. I have thought much of
all this since we were together last night'; and he came and
sat beside her, and put his arm round her waist as he had done
then. 'I have thought much of what the archdeacon has said,
and of what this paper says; and I do believe I have no right
to be here.'
'No right to be warden of the hospital, papa?'
'No right to be warden with eight hundred a year; no
right to be warden with such a house as this; no right to spend
in luxury money that was intended for charity. Mr Bold may
do as he pleases about his suit, but I hope he will not abandon
it for my sake.'
Poor Eleanor! this was hard upon her. Was it for this she
had made her great resolve! For this that she had laid aside
her quiet demeanour, and taken upon her the rants of a
tragedy heroine! One may work and not for thanks, but yet
feel hurt at not receiving them; and so it was with Eleanor:
one may be disinterested in one's good actions, and yet feel
discontented that they are not recognised. Charity may be
given with the left hand so privily that the right hand does not
know it, and yet the left hand may regret to feel that it has no
immediate reward. Eleanor had had no wish to burden her
father with a weight of obligation, and yet she had looked
forward to much delight from the knowledge that she had
freed him from his sorrows: now such hopes were entirely over:
all that she had done was of no avail; she had humbled herself
to Bold in vain; the evil was utterly beyond her power to cure!
She had thought also how gently she would whisper to her
father all that her lover had said to her about herself, and how
impossible she had found it to reject him: and then she had
anticipated her father's kindly kiss and close embrace as he
gave his sanction to her love. Alas! she could say nothing of
this now. In speaking of Mr Bold, her father put him aside as
one whose thoughts and sayings and acts could be of no
moment. Gentle reader, did you ever feel yourself snubbed?
Did you ever, when thinking much of your own importance,
find yourself suddenly reduced to a nonentity? Such was
Eleanor's feeling now.
'They shall not put forward this plea on my behalf,' continued
the warden. 'Whatever may be the truth of the matter, that
at any rate is not true; and the man who wrote that article
is right in saying that such a plea is revolting to an honest
mind. I will go up to London, my dear, and see these lawyers
myself, and if no better excuse can be made for me than that,
I and the hospital will part.'
'But the archdeacon, papa?'
'I can't help it, my dear; there are some things which a
man cannot bear--I cannot bear that'; and he put his hand
upon the newspaper.
'But will the archdeacon go with you?'
To tell the truth, Mr Harding had made up his mind to
steal a march upon the archdeacon. He was aware that he
could take no steps without informing his dread son-in-law,
but he had resolved that he would send out a note to Plumstead
Episcopi detailing his plans, but that the messenger should
not leave Barchester till he himself had started for London;
so that he might be a day before the doctor, who, he had
no doubt, would follow him. In that day, if he had luck, he
might arrange it all; he might explain to Sir Abraham that
he, as warden, would have nothing further to do with the
defence about to be set up; he might send in his official
resignation to his friend the bishop, and so make public the whole
transaction, that even the doctor would not be able to undo
what he had done. He knew too well the doctor's strength and
his own weakness to suppose he could do this, if they both
reached London together; indeed, he would never be able to
get to London, if the doctor knew of his intended journey in
time to prevent it.
'No, I think not,' said he. 'I think I shall start before the
archdeacon could be ready--I shall go early tomorrow morning.'
'That will be best, papa,' said Eleanor, showing that her
father's ruse was appreciated.
'Why yes, my love. The fact is, I wish to do all this before
the archdeacon can--can interfere. There is a great deal of
truth in all he says--he argues very well, and I can't always
answer him; but there is an old saying, Nelly: " Everyone
knows where his own shoe pinches!" He'll say that I want
moral courage, and strength of character, and power of endurance,
and it's all true; but I'm sure I ought not to remain here, if I
have nothing better to put forward than a quibble: so, Nelly, we
shall have to leave this pretty place.'
Eleanor's face brightened up, as she assured her father how
cordially she agreed with him.
'True, my love,' said he, now again quite happy and at ease
in his manner. 'What good to us is this place or all the money,
if we are to be ill-spoken of?'
'Oh, papa, I am so glad!'
'My darling child! It did cost me a pang at first, Nelly, to
think that you should lose your pretty drawing-room, and your
ponies, and your garden: the garden will be the worst of all--
but there is a garden at Crabtree, a very pretty garden.'
Crabtree Parva was the name of the small living which Mr
Harding had held as a minor canon, and which still belonged
to him. It was only worth some eighty pounds a year, and a
small house and glebe, all of which were now handed over to
Mr Harding's curate; but it was to Crabtree glebe that Mr
Harding thought of retiring. This parish must not be mistaken
for that other living, Crabtree Canonicorum, as it is
called. Crabtree Canonicorum is a very nice thing; there are
only two hundred parishioners; there are four hundred acres
of glebe; and the great and small tithes, which both go to the
rector, are worth four hundred pounds a year more. Crabtree
Canonicorum is in the gift of the dean and chapter, and is at
this time possessed by the Honourable and Reverend Dr Vesey
Stanhope, who also fills the prebendal stall of Goosegorge in
Barchester Chapter, and holds the united rectory of Eiderdown
and Stogpingum, or Stoke Pinquium, as it should be
written. This is the same Dr Vesey Stanhope whose hospitable
villa on the Lake of Como is so well known to the elite of
English travellers, and whose collection of Lombard butterflies
is supposed to be unique.
'Yes,' said the warden, musing, 'there is a very pretty garden
at Crabtree; but I shall be sorry to disturb poor Smith.'
Smith was the curate of Crabtree, a gentleman who was maintaining
a wife and half a dozen children on the income arising
from his profession.
Eleanor assured her father that, as far as she was concerned,
she could leave her house and her ponies without a single
regret. She was only so happy that he was going--going
where he would escape all this dreadful turmoil.
'But we will take the music, my dear.'
And so they went on planning their future happiness, and
plotting how they would arrange it all without the interposition
of the archdeacon, and at last they again became confidential,
and then the warden did thank her for what she had done,
and Eleanor, lying on her father's shoulder, did find an
opportunity to tell her secret: and the father gave his blessing
to his child, and said that the man whom she loved was honest,
good, and kind-hearted, and right-thinking in the main--one
who wanted only a good wife to put him quite upright--'a
man, my love,' he ended by saying, 'to whom I firmly believe
that I can trust my treasure with safety.'
'But what will Dr Grantly say?'
'Well, my dear, it can't be helped--we shall be out at
And Eleanor ran upstairs to prepare her father's clothes for
his journey; and the warden returned to his garden to make
his last adieux to every tree, and shrub, and shady nook that
he knew so well.
Wretched in spirit, groaning under the feeling of insult,
self-condemning, and ill-satisfied in every way, Bold returned
to his London lodgings. Ill as he had fared in his inter-view
with the archdeacon, he was not the less under the necessity of
carrying out his pledge to Eleanor; and he went about his
ungracious task with a heavy heart.
The attorneys whom he had employed in London received
his instructions with surprise and evident misgiving; however,
they could only obey, and mutter something of their sorrow
that such heavy costs should only fall upon their own employer
--especially as nothing was wanting but perseverance to
throw them on the opposite party. Bold left the office which
he had latterly so much frequented, shaking the dust from off
his feet; and before he was down the stairs, an edict had
already gone forth for the preparation of the bill.
He next thought of the newspapers. The case had been
taken up by more than one; and he was well aware that the
keynote had been sounded by The Jupiter. He had been very
intimate with Tom Towers, and had often discussed with him
the affairs of the hospital. Bold could not say that the articles
in that paper had been written at his own instigation. He did
not even know, as a fact, that they had been written by his
friend. Tom Towers had never said that such a view of the
case, or such a side in the dispute, would be taken by the paper
with which he was connected. Very discreet in such matters
was Tom Towers, and altogether indisposed to talk loosely of
the concerns of that mighty engine of which it was his high
privilege to move in secret some portion. Nevertheless Bold
believed that to him were owing those dreadful words which
had caused such panic at Barchester--and he conceived himself
bound to prevent their repetition. With this view he betook
himself from the attorneys' to that laboratory where, with
amazing chemistry, Tom Towers compounded thunderbolts for the
destruction of all that is evil, and for the furtherance of all
that is good, in this and other hemispheres.
Who has not heard of Mount Olympus--that high abode
of all the powers of type, that favoured seat of the great goddess
Pica, that wondrous habitation of gods and devils, from
whence, with ceaseless hum of steam and never-ending flow
of Castalian ink, issue forth fifty thousand nightly edicts for
the governance of a subject nation?
Velvet and gilding do not make a throne, nor gold and
jewels a sceptre. It is a throne because the most exalted one
sits there--and a sceptre because the most mighty one wields
it. So it is with Mount Olympus. Should a stranger make
his way thither at dull noonday, or during the sleepy hours of
the silent afternoon, he would find no acknowledged temple
of power and beauty, no fitting fane for the great Thunderer,
no proud facades and pillared roofs to support the dignity of
this greatest of earthly potentates. To the outward and
uninitiated eye, Mount Olympus is a somewhat humble spot,
undistinguished, unadorned--nay, almost mean. It stands
alone, as it were, in a mighty city, close to the densest throng
of men, but partaking neither of the noise nor the crowd; a
small secluded, dreary spot, tenanted, one would say, by quite
unambitious people at the easiest rents. 'Is this Mount
Olympus?' asks the unbelieving stranger. 'Is it from these
small, dark, dingy buildings that those infallible laws proceed
which cabinets are called upon to obey; by which bishops are
to be guided, lords and commons controlled, judges instructed
in law, generals in strategy, admirals in naval tactics, and
orange-women in the management of their barrows?' 'Yes,
my friend--from these walls. From here issue the only known
infallible bulls for the guidance of British souls and bodies.
This little court is the Vatican of England. Here reigns a
pope, self-nominated, self-consecrated--ay, and much stranger
too--self-believing!--a pope whom, if you cannot obey him,
I would advise you to disobey as silently as possible; a pope
hitherto afraid of no Luther; a pope who manages his own
inquisition, who punishes unbelievers as no most skilful
inquisitor of Spain ever dreamt of doing--one who can
excommunicate thoroughly, fearfully, radically; put you beyond the
pale of men's charity; make you odious to your dearest friends,
and turn you into a monster to be pointed at by the finger!'
Oh heavens! and this is Mount Olympus!
It is a fact amazing to ordinary mortals that The Jupiter is
never wrong. With what endless care, with what unsparing
labour, do we not strive to get together for our great national
council the men most fitting to compose it. And how we fail!
Parliament is always wrong: look at The Jupiter, and see how
futile are their meetings, how vain their council, how needless
all their trouble! With what pride do we regard our chief
ministers, the great servants of state, the oligarchs of the nation
on whose wisdom we lean, to whom we look for guidance in
our difficulties! But what are they to the writers of The Jupiter?
They hold council together and with anxious thought painfully
elaborate their country's good; but when all is done, The
Jupiter declares that all is naught. Why should we look to
Lord John Russell--why should we regard Palmerston and
Gladstone, when Tom Towers without a struggle can put us
right? Look at our generals, what faults they make; at our
admirals, how inactive they are. What money, honesty, and
science can do, is done; and yet how badly are our troops
brought together, fed, conveyed, clothed, armed, and managed.
The most excellent of our good men do their best to
man our ships, with the assistance of all possible external
appliances; but in vain. All, all is wrong--alas! alas! Tom
Towers, and he alone, knows all about it. Why, oh why, ye
earthly ministers, why have ye not followed more closely this
heaven-sent messenger that is among us?
Were it not well for us in our ignorance that we confided
all things to The Jupiter? Would it not be wise in us to abandon
useless talking, idle thinking, and profitless labour? Away
with majorities in the House of Commons, with verdicts from
judicial bench given after much delay, with doubtful laws, and
the fallible attempts of humanity! Does not The Jupiter, coming
forth daily with fifty thousand impressions full of unerring
decision on every mortal subject, set all matters sufficiently
at rest? Is not Tom Towers here, able to guide us and willing?
Yes indeed, able and willing to guide all men in all things,
so long as he is obeyed as autocrat should be obeyed--with
undoubting submission: only let not ungrateful ministers seek
other colleagues than those whom Tom Towers may approve;
let church and state, law and physic, commerce and agriculture,
the arts of war, and the arts of peace, all listen and obey,
and all will be made perfect. Has not Tom Towers an all-seeing
eye? From the diggings of Australia to those of California,
right round the habitable globe, does he not know, watch,
and chronicle the doings of everyone? From a bishopric in
New Zealand to an unfortunate director of a North-west
passage, is he not the only fit judge of capability?
From the sewers of London to the Central Railway of India--
from the palaces of St Petersburg to the cabins of Connaught,
nothing can escape him. Britons have but to read, to obey,
and be blessed. None but the fools doubt the wisdom of The
Jupiter; none but the mad dispute its facts.
No established religion has ever been without its unbelievers,
even in the country where it is the most firmly fixed; no creed
has been without scoffers; no church has so prospered as to
free itself entirely from dissent. There are those who doubt
The Jupiter! They live and breathe the upper air, walking
here unscathed, though scorned--men, born of British mothers
and nursed on English milk, who scruple not to say that Mount
Olympus has its price, that Tom Towers can be bought for gold!
Such is Mount Olympus, the mouthpiece of all the wisdom
of this great country. It may probably be said that no place
in this 19th century is more worthy of notice. No treasury
mandate armed with the signatures of all the government has
half the power of one of those broad sheets, which fly forth
from hence so abundantly, armed with no signature at all.
Some great man, some mighty peer--we'll say a noble duke
--retires to rest feared and honoured by all his countrymen--
fearless himself; if not a good man, at any rate a mighty man
--too mighty to care much what men may say about his want
of virtue. He rises in the morning degraded, mean, and
miserable; an object of men's scorn, anxious only to retire as
quickly as may be to some German obscurity, some unseen
Italian privacy, or indeed, anywhere out of sight. What has
made this awful change? what has so afflicted him? An
article has appeared in The Jupiter; some fifty lines of a narrow
column have destroyed all his grace's equanimity, and banished
him for ever from the world. No man knows who wrote
the bitter words; the clubs talk confusedly of the matter,
whispering to each other this and that name; while Tom
Towers walks quietly along Pall Mall, with his coat buttoned
close against the east wind, as though he were a mortal
man, and not a god dispensing thunderbolts from Mount Olympus.
It was not to Mount Olympus that our friend Bold betook
himself. He had before now wandered round that lonely spot,
thinking how grand a thing it was to write articles for The
Jupiter; considering within himself whether by any stretch of
the powers within him he could ever come to such distinction;
wondering how Tom Towers would take any little humble
offering of his talents; calculating that Tom Towers himself
must have once had a beginning, have once doubted as to his
own success. Towers could not have been born a writer in The
Jupiter. With such ideas, half ambitious and half awe-struck,
had Bold regarded the silent-looking workshop of the gods;
but he had never yet by word or sign attempted to influence
the slightest word of his unerring friend. On such a course
was he now intent; and not without much inward palpitation
did he betake himself to the quiet abode of wisdom, where
Tom Towers was to be found o' mornings inhaling ambrosia
and sipping nectar in the shape of toast and tea.
Not far removed from Mount Olympus, but somewhat
nearer to the blessed regions of the West, is the most favoured
abode of Themis. Washed by the rich tide which now passes
from the towers of Caesar to Barry's halls of eloquence; and
again back, with new offerings of a city's tribute, from the
palaces of peers to the mart of merchants, stand those quiet
walls which Law has delighted to honour by its presence.
What a world within a world is the Temple! how quiet are
its 'entangled walks,' as someone lately has called them, and
yet how close to the densest concourse of humanity! how
gravely respectable its sober alleys, though removed but by a
single step from the profanity of the Strand and the low
iniquity of Fleet Street! Old St Dunstan, with its bell-smiting
bludgeoners, has been removed; the ancient shops with their
faces full of pleasant history are passing away one by one;
the bar itself is to go--its doom has been pronounced
by The Jupiter; rumour tells us of some huge building
that is to appear in these latitudes dedicated to law,
subversive of the courts of Westminster, and antagonistic to
the Rolls and Lincoln's Inn; but nothing yet threatens
the silent beauty of the Temple: it is the mediaeval court
of the metropolis.
Here, on the choicest spot of this choice ground, stands a
lofty row of chambers, looking obliquely upon the sullied
Thames; before the windows, the lawn of the Temple Gardens
stretches with that dim yet delicious verdure so refreshing
to the eyes of Londoners. If doomed to live within the thickest
of London smoke you would surely say that that would be your
chosen spot. Yes, you, you whom I now address, my dear,
middle-aged bachelor friend, can nowhere be so well domiciled
as here. No one here will ask whether you are out or at home;
alone or with friends; here no Sabbatarian will investigate
your Sundays, no censorious landlady will scrutinise your
empty bottle, no valetudinarian neighbour will complain of
late hours. If you love books, to what place are books so
suitable? The whole spot is redolent of typography. Would
you worship the Paphian goddess, the groves of Cyprus are
not more taciturn than those of the Temple. Wit and wine
are always here, and always together; the revels of the Temple
are as those of polished Greece, where the wildest worshipper
of Bacchus never forgot the dignity of the god whom he adored.
Where can retirement be so complete as here? where can you
be so sure of all the pleasures of society?
It was here that Tom Towers lived, and cultivated with
eminent success the tenth Muse who now governs the periodical
press. But let it not be supposed that his chambers were
such, or so comfortless, as are frequently the gaunt abodes of
legal aspirants. Four chairs, a half-filled deal book-case with
hangings of dingy green baize, an old office table covered with
dusty papers, which are not moved once in six months, and an
older Pembroke brother with rickety legs, for all daily uses; a
despatcher for the preparation of lobsters and coffee, and an
apparatus for the cooking of toast and mutton chops; such
utensils and luxuries as these did not suffice for the well-being
of Tom Towers. He indulged in four rooms on the first floor,
each of which was furnished, if not with the splendour, with
probably more than the comfort of Stafford House. Every
addition that science and art have lately made to the luxuries
of modern life was to be found there. The room in which he
usually sat was surrounded by book-shelves carefully filled;
nor was there a volume there which was not entitled to its
place in such a collection, both by its intrinsic worth and
exterior splendour: a pretty portable set of steps in one corner
of the room showed that those even on the higher shelves were
intended for use. The chamber contained but two works of
art--the one, an admirable bust of Sir Robert Peel, by Power,
declared the individual politics of our friend; and the other,
a singularly long figure of a female devotee, by Millais, told
equally plainly the school of art to which he was addicted.
This picture was not hung, as pictures usually are, against the
wall; there was no inch of wall vacant for such a purpose:
it had a stand or desk erected for its own accommodation;
and there on her pedestal, framed and glazed, stood the devotional
lady looking intently at a lily as no lady ever looked before.
Our modern artists, whom we style Pre-Raphaelites, have
delighted to go back, not only to the finish and peculiar
manner, but also to the subjects of the early painters. It is
impossible to give them too much praise for the elaborate
perseverance with which they have equalled the minute perfections
of the masters from whom they take their inspiration: nothing
probably can exceed the painting of some of these latter-day
pictures. It is, however, singular into what faults they fall
as regards their subjects: they are not quite content to
take the old stock groups--a Sebastian with his arrows, a
Lucia with her eyes in a dish, a Lorenzo with a gridiron, or
the Virgin with two children. But they are anything but
happy in their change. As a rule, no figure should be drawn
in a position which it is impossible to suppose any figure should
maintain. The patient endurance of St Sebastian, the wild
ecstasy of St John in the Wilderness, the maternal love of the
Virgin, are feelings naturally portrayed by a fixed posture;
but the lady with the stiff back and bent neck, who looks at
her flower, and is still looking from hour to hour, gives us
an idea of pain without grace, and abstraction without a cause.
It was easy, from his rooms, to see that Tom Towers was a
Sybarite, though by no means an idle one. He was lingering
over his last cup of tea, surrounded by an ocean of newspapers,
through which he had been swimming, when John Bold's card
was brought in by his tiger. This tiger never knew that his
master was at home, though he often knew that he was not,
and thus Tom Towers was never invaded but by his own
consent. On this occasion, after twisting the card twice in his
fingers, he signified to his attendant imp that he was visible;
and the inner door was unbolted, and our friend announced.
I have before said that he of The Jupiter and John Bold were
intimate. There was no very great difference in their ages,
for Towers was still considerably under forty; and when Bold
had been attending the London hospitals, Towers, who was
not then the great man that he had since become, had been
much with him. Then they had often discussed together the
objects of their ambition and future prospects; then Tom
Towers was struggling hard to maintain himself, as a briefless
barrister, by shorthand reporting for any of the papers that
would engage him; then he had not dared to dream of writing
leaders for The Jupiter, or canvassing the conduct of Cabinet
ministers. Things had altered since that time: the briefless
barrister was still briefless, but he now despised briefs: could
he have been sure of a judge's seat, he would hardly have left
his present career. It is true he wore no ermine, bore no outward
marks of a world's respect; but with what a load of inward
importance was he charged! It is true his name appeared in
no large capitals; on no wall was chalked up 'Tom Towers
for ever'--'Freedom of the Press and Tom Towers';
but what member of Parliament had half his power? It is
true that in far-off provinces men did not talk daily of Tom
Towers but they read The Jupiter, and acknowledged that
without The Jupiter life was not worth having. This kind of
hidden but still conscious glory suited the nature of the man.
He loved to sit silent in a corner of his club and listen to the
loud chattering of politicians, and to think how they all were
in his power--how he could smite the loudest of them, were it
worth his while to raise his pen for such a purpose. He loved
to watch the great men of whom he daily wrote, and flatter
himself that he was greater than any of them. Each of them
was responsible to his country, each of them must answer if
inquired into, each of them must endure abuse with good
humour, and insolence without anger. But to whom was he,
Tom Towers, responsible? No one could insult him; no one
could inquire into him. He could speak out withering words,
and no one could answer him: ministers courted him, though
perhaps they knew not his name; bishops feared him; judges
doubted their own verdicts unless he confirmed them; and
generals, in their councils of war, did not consider more deeply
what the enemy would do, than what The Jupiter would say.
Tom Towers never boasted of The Jupiter; he scarcely ever
named the paper even to the most intimate of his friends; he
did not even wish to be spoken of as connected with it; but
he did not the less value his privileges, or think the less of his
own importance. It is probable that Tom Towers considered
himself the most powerful man in Europe; and so he walked
on from day to day, studiously striving to look a man, but
knowing within his breast that he was a god.
Tom Towers, Dr Anticant, and Mr Sentiment
'Ah, Bold! how are you? You haven't breakfasted?'
'Oh yes, hours ago. And how are you?'
When one Esquimau meets another, do the two, as an
invariable rule, ask after each other's health? is it inherent in all
human nature to make this obliging inquiry? Did any reader
of this tale ever meet any friend or acquaintance without asking
some such question, and did anyone ever listen to the reply?
Sometimes a studiously courteous questioner will show so much
thought in the matter as to answer it himself, by declaring that
had he looked at you he needn't have asked; meaning thereby to
signify that you are an absolute personification of health: but
such persons are only those who premeditate small effects.
'I suppose you're busy?' inquired Bold.
'Why, yes, rather; or I should say rather not. I have a
leisure hour in the day, this is it.'
'I want to ask you if you can oblige me in a certain matter.'
Towers understood in a moment, from the tone of his
friend's voice, that the certain matter referred to the newspaper.
He smiled, and nodded his head, but made no promise.
'You know this lawsuit that I've been engaged in,' said Bold.
Tom Towers intimated that he was aware of the action
which was pending about the hospital.
'Well, I've abandoned it.'
Tom Towers merely raised his eyebrows, thrust his hands
into his trowsers pockets, and waited for his friend to proceed.
'Yes, I've given it up. I needn't trouble you with all the
history; but the fact is that the conduct of Mr Harding--
Mr Harding is the--'
'Oh yes, the master of the place; the man who takes all
the money and does nothing,' said Tom Towers, interrupting him.
'Well, I don't know about that; but his conduct in the
matter has been so excellent, so little selfish, so open, that I
cannot proceed in the matter to his detriment.' Bold's heart
misgave him as to Eleanor as he said this; and yet he felt that
what he said was not untrue. 'I think nothing should now be
done till the wardenship be vacant.'
'And be again filled,' said Towers, 'as it certainly would,
before anyone heard of the vacancy; and the same objection
would again exist. It's an old story that of the vested rights of
the incumbent; but suppose the incumbent has only a vested
wrong, and that the poor of the town have a vested right, if they
only knew how to get at it: is not that something the case here?'
Bold couldn't deny it, but thought it was one of those cases
which required a good deal of management before any real
good could be done. It was a pity that he had not considered
this before he crept into the lion's mouth, in the shape of an
'It will cost you a good deal, I fear,' said Towers.
'A few hundreds,' said Bold--'perhaps three hundred; I
can't help that, and am prepared for it.'
'That's philosophical. It's quite refreshing to hear a man
talking of his hundreds in so purely indifferent a manner.
But I'm sorry you are giving the matter up. It injures a man
to commence a thing of this kind, and not carry it through.
Have you seen that?' and he threw a small pamphlet across
the table, which was all but damp from the press.
Bold had not seen it nor heard of it; but he was well
acquainted with the author of it--a gentleman whose pamphlets,
condemnatory of all things in these modern days, had been a
good deal talked about of late.
Dr Pessimist Anticant was a Scotchman, who had passed a
great portion of his early days in Germany; he had studied
there with much effect, and had learnt to look with German
subtilty into the root of things, and to examine for himself
their intrinsic worth and worthlessness. No man ever resolved
more bravely than he to accept as good nothing that was
evil; to banish from him as evil nothing that was good.
'Tis a pity that he should not have recognised the fact, that in
this world no good is unalloyed, and that there is but little evil
that has not in it some seed of what is goodly.
Returning from Germany, he had astonished the reading
public by the vigour of his thoughts, put forth in the quaintest
language. He cannot write English, said the critics. No
matter, said the public; we can read what he does write, and
that without yawning. And so Dr Pessimist Anticant became
Popular. Popularity spoilt him for all further real use, as it
has done many another. While, with some diffidence, he
confined his objurgations to the occasional follies or
shortcomings of mankind; while he ridiculed the energy of the
squire devoted to the slaughter of partridges, or the mistake
of some noble patron who turned a poet into a gauger of beer-
barrels, it was all well; we were glad to be told our faults and
to look forward to the coming millennium, when all men,
having sufficiently studied the works of Dr Anticant, would
become truthful and energetic. But the doctor mistook the
signs of the times and the minds of men, instituted himself
censor of things in general, and began the great task of
reprobating everything and everybody, without further promise of
any millennium at all. This was not so well; and, to tell the
truth, our author did not succeed in his undertaking. His
theories were all beautiful, and the code of morals that he
taught us certainly an improvement on the practices of the
age. We all of us could, and many of us did, learn much from
the doctor while he chose to remain vague, mysterious, and
cloudy: but when he became practical, the charm was gone.
His allusion to the poet and the partridges was received
very well. 'Oh, my poor brother,' said he, 'slaughtered
partridges a score of brace to each gun, and poets gauging ale-
barrels, with sixty pounds a year, at Dumfries, are not the
signs of a great era!--perhaps of the smallest possible era yet
written of. Whatever economies we pursue, political or other,
let us see at once that this is the maddest of the uneconomic:
partridges killed by our land magnates at, shall we say, a
guinea a head, to be retailed in Leadenhall at one shilling and
ninepence, with one poacher in limbo for every fifty birds!
our poet, maker, creator, gauging ale, and that badly, with no
leisure for making or creating, only a little leisure for drinking,
and such like beer-barrel avocations! Truly, a cutting of
blocks with fine razors while we scrape our chins so uncomfortably
with rusty knives! Oh, my political economist,
master of supply and demand, division of labour and high
pressure--oh, my loud-speaking friend, tell me, if so much be
in you, what is the demand for poets in these kingdoms of
Queen Victoria, and what the vouchsafed supply?'
This was all very well: this gave us some hope. We might
do better with our next poet, when we got one; and though
the partridges might not be abandoned, something could perhaps
be done as to the poachers. We were unwilling, however,
to take lessons in politics from so misty a professor; and
when he came to tell us that the heroes of Westminster were
naught, we began to think that he had written enough. His
attack upon despatch boxes was not thought to have much in
it; but as it is short, the doctor shall again be allowed to speak
'Could utmost ingenuity in the management of red tape
avail anything to men lying gasping--we may say, all but
dead; could despatch boxes with never-so-much velvet lining
and Chubb's patent be of comfort to a people in extremes, I
also, with so many others, would, with parched tongue, call
on the name of Lord John Russell; or, my brother, at your
advice, on Lord Aberdeen; or, my cousin, on Lord Derby, at
yours; being, with my parched tongue, indifferent to such
matters. 'Tis all one. Oh, Derby! Oh, Gladstone! Oh,
Palmerston! Oh, Lord John! Each comes running with
serene face and despatch box. Vain physicians! though there
were hosts of such, no despatch box will cure this disorder!
What! are there other doctors' new names, disciples who have
not burdened their souls with tape? Well, let us call again.
Oh, Disraeli, great oppositionist, man of the bitter brow! or,
Oh, Molesworth, great reformer, thou who promisest Utopia.
They come; each with that serene face, and each--alas, me!
alas, my country!--each with a despatch box!
'Oh, the serenity of Downing Street!
'My brothers, when hope was over on the battle-field, when
no dimmest chance of victory remained, the ancient Roman
could hide his face within his toga, and die gracefully. Can
you and I do so now? If so, 'twere best for us; if not, oh my
brothers, we must die disgracefully, for hope of life and victory
I see none left to us in this world below. I for one cannot trust
much to serene face and despatch box!'
There might be truth in this, there might be depth of reasoning;
but Englishmen did not see enough in the argument to
induce them to withdraw their confidence from the present
arrangements of the government, and Dr Anticant's monthly
pamphlet on the decay of the world did not receive so much
attention as his earlier works. He did not confine himself to
politics in these publications, but roamed at large over all
matters of public interest, and found everything bad. According
to him nobody was true, and not only nobody, but nothing;
a man could not take off his hat to a lady without telling
a lie--the lady would lie again in smiling. The ruffles of the
gentleman's shirt would be fraught with deceit, and the lady's
flounces full of falsehood. Was ever anything more severe than
that attack of his on chip bonnets, or the anathemas with which
he endeavoured to dust the powder out of the bishops' wigs?
The pamphlet which Tom Towers now pushed across the
table was entitled Modern Charity, and was written with the
view of proving how much in the way of charity was done by
our predecessors--how little by the present age; and it ended
by a comparison between ancient and modern times, very
little to the credit of the latter.
'Look at this,' said Towers, getting up and turning over the
pages of the pamphlet, and pointing to a passage near the end.
'Your friend the warden, who is so little selfish, won't like that,
I fear.' Bold read as follows--
'Heavens, what a sight! Let us with eyes wide open see the
godly man of four centuries since, the man of the dark ages;
let us see how he does his godlike work, and, again, how the
godly man of these latter days does his.
'Shall we say that the former is one walking painfully
through the world, regarding, as a prudent man, his worldly
work, prospering in it as a diligent man will prosper, but
always with an eye to that better treasure to which thieves do
not creep in? Is there not much nobility in that old man, as,
leaning on his oaken staff, he walks down the High Street of his
native town, and receives from all courteous salutation and
acknowledgment of his worth? A noble old man, my august
inhabitants of Belgrave Square and such like vicinity--a very
noble old man, though employed no better than in the wholesale
carding of wool.
'This carding of wool, however, did in those days bring with
it much profit, so that our ancient friend, when dying, was
declared, in whatever slang then prevailed, to cut up exceeding
well. For sons and daughters there was ample sustenance with
assistance of due industry; for friends and relatives some relief
for grief at this great loss; for aged dependents comfort in
declining years. This was much for one old man to get done
in that dark fifteenth century. But this was not all: coming
generations of poor wool-carders should bless the name of this
rich one; and a hospital should be founded and endowed with
his wealth for the feeding of such of the trade as could not, by
diligent carding, any longer duly feed themselves.
''Twas thus that an old man in the fifteenth century did his
godlike work to the best of his power, and not ignobly, as
appears to me.
'We will now take our godly man of latter days. He shall
no longer be a wool-carder, for such are not now men of mark.
We will suppose him to be one of the best of the good, one who
has lacked no opportunities. Our old friend was, after all, but
illiterate; our modern friend shall be a man educated in all
seemly knowledge; he shall, in short, be that blessed being--
a clergyman of the Church of England!
'And now, in what perfectest manner does he in this
lower world get his godlike work done and put out of hand?
Heavens! in the strangest of manners. Oh, my brother! in
a manner not at all to be believed, but by the most minute
testimony of eyesight. He does it by the magnitude of his
appetite--by the power of his gorge; his only occupation is
to swallow the bread prepared with so much anxious care for
these impoverished carders of wool--that, and to sing
indifferently through his nose once in the week some psalm more
or less long--the shorter the better, we should be inclined to say.
'Oh, my civilised friends!--great Britons that never will be
slaves, men advanced to infinite state of freedom and knowledge
of good and evil--tell me, will you, what becoming
monument you will erect to an highly-educated clergyman of
the Church of England?'
Bold certainly thought that his friend would not like that:
he could not conceive anything that he would like less than
this. To what a world of toil and trouble had he, Bold, given
rise by his indiscreet attack upon the hospital!
'You see,' said Towers, 'that this affair has been much
talked of, and the public are with you. I am sorry you should
give the matter up. Have you seen the first number of The
No; Bold had not seen The Almshouse. He had seen advertisements
of Mr Popular Sentiment's new novel of that name, but had
in no way connected it with Barchester Hospital, and had never
thought a moment on the subject.
'It's a direct attack on the whole system,' said Towers.
'It'll go a long way to put down Rochester, and Barchester,
and Dulwich, and St Cross, and all such hotbeds of peculation.
It's very clear that Sentiment has been down to Barchester,
and got up the whole story there; indeed, I thought he must
have had it all from you, it's very well done, as you'll see: his
first numbers always are.'
Bold declared that Mr Sentiment had got nothing from
him, and that he was deeply grieved to find that the case had
become so notorious.
'The fire has gone too far to be quenched,' said Towers;
'the building must go now; and as the timbers are all rotten,
why, I should be inclined to say, the sooner the better. I
expected to see you get some eclat in the matter.'
This was all wormwood to Bold. He had done enough to
make his friend the warden miserable for life, and had then
backed out just when the success of his project was sufficient
to make the question one of real interest. How weakly he had
managed his business! he had already done the harm, and
then stayed his hand when the good which he had in view was
to be commenced. How delightful would it have been to have
employed all his energy in such a cause--to have been backed
by The Jupiter, and written up to by two of the most popular
authors of the day! The idea opened a view into the very
world in which he wished to live. To what might it not have
given rise? what delightful intimacies--what public praise--
to what Athenian banquets and rich flavour of Attic salt?
This, however, was now past hope. He had pledged himself
to abandon the cause; and could he have forgotten the pledge
he had gone too far to retreat. He was now, this moment,
sitting in Tom Towers' room with the object of deprecating
any further articles in The Jupiter, and, greatly as he disliked
the job, his petition to that effect must be made.
'I couldn't continue it,' said he, 'because I found I was in
Tom Towers shrugged his shoulders. How could a successful
man be in the wrong! 'In that case,' said he, 'of course
you must abandon it.'
'And I called this morning to ask you also to abandon it,'
'To ask me,' said Tom Towers, with the most placid of
smiles, and a consummate look of gentle surprise, as though
Tom Towers was well aware that he of all men was the last
to meddle in such matters.
'Yes,' said Bold, almost trembling with hesitation. 'The
Jupiter, you know, has taken the matter up very strongly.
Mr Harding has felt what it has said deeply; and I thought
that if I could explain to you that he personally has not been
to blame, these articles might be discontinued.'
How calmly impassive was Tom Towers' face, as this
innocent little proposition was made! Had Bold addressed
himself to the doorposts in Mount Olympus, they would have
shown as much outward sign of assent or dissent. His quiescence
was quite admirable; his discretion certainly more than human.
'My dear fellow,' said he, when Bold had quite done
speaking, 'I really cannot answer for The Jupiter.'
'But if you saw that these articles were unjust, I think that
You Would endeavour to put a stop to them. Of course nobody
doubts that you could, if you chose.'
'Nobody and everybody are always very kind, but unfortunately
are generally very wrong.'
'Come, come, Towers,' said Bold, plucking up his courage,
and remembering that for Eleanor's sake he was bound to
make his best exertion; 'I have no doubt in my own mind but
that you wrote the articles yourself, and very well written they
were: it will be a great favour if you will in future abstain
from any personal allusion to poor Harding.'
'My dear Bold,' said Tom Towers, 'I have a sincere regard
for you. I have known you for many years, and value your
friendship; I hope you will let me explain to you, without
offence, that none who are connected with the public press
can with propriety listen to interference.'
'Interference!' said Bold, 'I don't want to interfere.'
'Ah, but, my dear fellow, you do; what else is it? You
think that I am able to keep certain remarks out of a newspaper.
Your information is probably incorrect, as most public gossip
on such subjects is; but, at any rate, you think I have such
power, and you ask me to use it: now that is interference.'
'Well, if you choose to call it so.'
'And now suppose for a moment that I had this power, and
used it as you wish: isn't it clear that it would be a great
abuse? Certain men are employed in writing for the public
press; and if they are induced either to write or to abstain
from writing by private motives, surely the public press would
soon be of little value. Look at the recognised worth of different
newspapers, and see if it does not mainly depend on the
assurance which the public feel that such a paper is, or is not,
independent. You alluded to The Jupiter: surely you cannot
but see that the weight of The Jupiter is too great to be moved
by any private request, even though it should be made to a
much more influential person than myself: you've only to
think of this, and you'll see that I am right.'
The discretion of Tom Towers was boundless: there was no
contradicting what he said, no arguing against such propositions.
He took such high ground that there was no getting on
it. 'The public is defrauded,' said he, 'whenever private
considerations are allowed to have weight.' Quite true, thou
greatest oracle of the middle of the nineteenth century, thou
sententious proclaimer of the purity of the press--the public
is defrauded when it is purposely misled. Poor public! how
often is it misled! against what a world of fraud has it to
Bold took his leave, and got out of the room as quickly as he
could, inwardly denouncing his friend Tom Towers as a prig
and a humbug. 'I know he wrote those articles,' said Bold to
himself. 'I know he got his information from me. He was
ready enough to take my word for gospel when it suited his
own views, and to set Mr Harding up before the public as an
impostor on no other testimony than my chance conversation;
but when I offer him real evidence opposed to his own views,
he tells me that private motives are detrimental to public
justice! Confound his arrogance! What is any public question
but a conglomeration of private interests? What is any
newspaper article but an expression of the views taken by one
side? Truth! it takes an age to ascertain the truth of any
question! The idea of Tom Towers talking of public motives and
purity of purpose! Why, it wouldn't give him a moment's uneasiness
to change his politics tomorrow, if the paper required it.'
Such were John Bold's inward exclamations as he made his
way out of the quiet labyrinth of the Temple; and yet there
was no position of worldly power so coveted in Bold's ambition
as that held by the man of whom he was thinking. It was the
impregnability of the place which made Bold so angry with
the possessor of it, and it was the same quality which made it
appear so desirable.
Passing into the Strand, he saw in a bookseller's window an
announcement of the first number of The Almshouse; so he
purchased a copy, and hurrying back to his lodgings, proceeded
to ascertain what Mr Popular Sentiment had to say to the
public on the subject which had lately occupied so much
of his own attention.
In former times great objects were attained by great work.
When evils were to be reformed, reformers set about their
heavy task with grave decorum and laborious argument. An
age was occupied in proving a grievance, and philosophical
researches were printed in folio pages, which it took a life to
write, and an eternity to read. We get on now with a lighter
step, and quicker: ridicule is found to be more convincing
than argument, imaginary agonies touch more than true
sorrows, and monthly novels convince, when learned quartos
fail to do so. If the world is to be set right, the work will be
done by shilling numbers.
Of all such reformers Mr Sentiment is the most powerful.
It is incredible the number of evil practices he has put down:
it is to be feared he will soon lack subjects, and that when he
has made the working classes comfortable, and got bitter beer
put into proper-sized pint bottles, there will be nothing further
for him left to do. Mr Sentiment is certainly a very powerful
man, and perhaps not the less so that his good poor people are
so very good; his hard rich people so very hard; and the
genuinely honest so very honest. Namby-pamby in these days
is not thrown away if it be introduced in the proper quarters.
Divine peeresses are no longer interesting, though possessed of
every virtue; but a pattern peasant or an immaculate manufacturing
hero may talk as much twaddle as one of Mrs Ratcliffe's
heroines, and still be listened to. Perhaps, however, Mr
Sentiment's great attraction is in his second-rate characters.
If his heroes and heroines walk upon stilts, as heroes
and heroines, I fear, ever must, their attendant satellites are
as natural as though one met them in the street: they walk
and talk like men and women, and live among our friends a
rattling, lively life; yes, live, and will live till the names of
their calling shall be forgotten in their own, and Buckett and
Mrs Gamp will be the only words left to us to signify a detective
police officer or a monthly nurse.
The Almshouse opened with a scene in a clergyman's house.
Every luxury to be purchased by wealth was described as being
there: all the appearances of household indulgence generally
found amongst the most self-indulgent of the rich were crowded
into this abode. Here the reader was introduced to the demon
of the book, the Mephistopheles of the drama. What story
was ever written without a demon? What novel, what history,
what work of any sort, what world, would be perfect without
existing principles both of good and evil? The demon of The
Almshouse was the clerical owner of this comfortable abode.
He was a man well stricken in years, but still strong to do evil:
he was one who looked cruelly out of a hot, passionate, bloodshot
eye; who had a huge red nose with a carbuncle, thick lips,
and a great double, flabby chin, which swelled out into
solid substance, like a turkey-cock's comb, when sudden anger
inspired him: he had a hot, furrowed, low brow, from which
a few grizzled hairs were not yet rubbed off by the friction of
his handkerchief: he wore a loose unstarched white handkerchief,
black loose ill-made clothes, and huge loose shoes,
adapted to many corns and various bunions: his husky voice
told tales of much daily port wine, and his language was not
so decorous as became a clergyman. Such was the master of
Mr Sentiment's Almshouse. He was a widower, but at present
accompanied by two daughters, and a thin and somewhat
insipid curate. One of the young ladies was devoted to her
father and the fashionable world, and she of course was the
favourite; the other was equally addicted to Puseyism and
The second chapter of course introduced the reader to the
more especial inmates of the hospital. Here were discovered
eight old men; and it was given to be understood that four
vacancies remained unfilled, through the perverse ill-nature
of the clerical gentleman with the double chin. The state of
these eight paupers was touchingly dreadful: sixpence-farthing
a day had been sufficient for their diet when the almshouse was
founded; and on sixpence-farthing a day were they still
doomed to starve, though food was four times as dear, and
money four times as plentiful. It was shocking to find how the
conversation of these eight starved old men in their dormitory
shamed that of the clergyman's family in his rich drawing-
room. The absolute words they uttered were not perhaps
spoken in the purest English, and it might be difficult to
distinguish from their dialect to what part of the country they
belonged; the beauty of the sentiment, however, amply
atoned for the imperfection of the language; and it was really
a pity that these eight old men could not be sent through the
country as moral missionaries, instead of being immured and
starved in that wretched almshouse.
Bold finished the number; and as he threw it aside, he
thought that that at least had no direct appliance to Mr Harding,
and that the absurdly strong colouring of the picture would
disenable the work from doing either good or harm. He was
wrong. The artist who paints for the million must use glaring
colours, as no one knew better than Mr Sentiment when he
described the inhabitants of his almshouse; and the radical
reform which has now swept over such establishments has
owed more to the twenty numbers of Mr Sentiment's novel,
than to all the true complaints which have escaped from the
public for the last half century.
A Long Day in London
The warden had to make use of all his very moderate
powers of intrigue to give his son-in-law the slip, and get
out of Barchester without being stopped on his road. No
schoolboy ever ran away from school with more precaution
and more dread of detection; no convict, slipping down from
a prison wall, ever feared to see the gaoler more entirely than
Mr Harding did to see his son-in-law as he drove up in the
pony carriage to the railway station, on the morning of his
escape to London.
The evening before he went he wrote a note to the archdeacon,
explaining that he should start on the morrow on his
journey; that it was his intention to see the attorney-general
if possible, and to decide on his future plans in accordance with
what he heard from that gentleman; he excused himself for
giving Dr Grantly no earlier notice, by stating that his resolve
was very sudden; and having entrusted this note to Eleanor,
with the perfect, though not expressed, understanding that it
was to be sent over to Plumstead Episcopi without haste, he
took his departure.
He also prepared and carried with him a note for Sir
Abraham Haphazard, in which he stated his name, explaining
that he was the defendant in the case of 'The Queen on
behalf of the Wool-carders of Barchester v. Trustees under the
will of the late John Hiram,' for so was the suit denominated,
and begged the illustrious and learned gentleman to vouchsafe
to him ten minutes' audience at any hour on the next day.
Mr Harding calculated that for that one day he was safe; his
son-in-law, he had no doubt, would arrive in town by an early
train, but not early enough to reach the truant till he should
have escaped from his hotel after breakfast; and could he thus
manage to see the lawyer on that very day, the deed might be
done before the archdeacon could interfere.
On his arrival in town the warden drove, as was his wont.
to the Chapter Hotel and Coffee House, near St Paul's. His
visits to London of late had not been frequent; but in those
happy days when Harding's Church Music was going through
the press, he had been often there; and as the publisher's
house was in Paternoster Row, and the printer's press in Fleet
Street, the Chapter Hotel and Coffee House had been convenient.
It was a quiet, sombre, clerical house, beseeming such
a man as the warden, and thus he afterwards frequented
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