Part 4 out of 5
it. Had he dared, he would on this occasion have gone elsewhere
to throw the archdeacon further off the scent; but he did not
know what violent steps his son-in-law might take for his
recovery if he were not found at his usual haunt, and he
deemed it not prudent to make himself the object of a hunt
Arrived at his inn, he ordered dinner, and went forth to
the attorney-general's chambers. There he learnt that Sir
Abraham was in Court, and would not probably return that
day. He would go direct from Court to the House; all
appointments were, as a rule, made at the chambers; the
clerk could by no means promise an interview for the next
day; was able, on the other hand, to say that such interview
was, he thought, impossible; but that Sir Abraham would
certainly be at the House in the course of the night, where an
answer from himself might possibly be elicited.
To the House Mr Harding went, and left his note, not finding
Sir Abraham there. He added a most piteous entreaty that
he might be favoured with an answer that evening, for
which he would return. He then journeyed back sadly to the
Chapter Coffee House, digesting his great thoughts, as best he
might, in a clattering omnibus, wedged in between a wet old
lady and a journeyman glazier returning from his work with
his tools in his lap. In melancholy solitude he discussed his
mutton chop and pint of port. What is there in this world
more melancholy than such a dinner? A dinner, though eaten
alone, in a country hotel may be worthy of some energy; the
waiter, if you are known, will make much of you; the landlord
will make you a bow and perhaps put the fish on the table;
if you ring you are attended to, and there is some life about it.
A dinner at a London eating-house is also lively enough, if it
have no other attraction. There is plenty of noise and stir
about it, and the rapid whirl of voices and rattle of dishes
disperses sadness. But a solitary dinner in an old, respectable,
sombre, solid London inn, where nothing makes any noise but
the old waiter's creaking shoes; where one plate slowly goes
and another slowly comes without a sound; where the two or
three guests would as soon think of knocking each other down
as of speaking; where the servants whisper, and the whole
household is disturbed if an order be given above the voice--
what can be more melancholy than a mutton chop and a pint
of port in such a place?
Having gone through this Mr Harding got into another
omnibus, and again returned to the House. Yes, Sir Abraham
was there, and was that moment on his legs, fighting eagerly
for the hundred and seventh clause of the Convent Custody
Bill. Mr Harding's note had been delivered to him; and if
Mr Harding would wait some two or three hours, Sir Abraham
could be asked whether there was any answer. The House
was not full, and perhaps Mr Harding might get admittance
into the Strangers' Gallery, which admission, with the help of
five shillings, Mr Harding was able to effect.
This bill of Sir Abraham's had been read a second time and
passed into committee. A hundred and six clauses had already
been discussed and had occupied only four mornings and five
evening sittings; nine of the hundred and six clauses were
passed, fifty-five were withdrawn by consent, fourteen had
been altered so as to mean the reverse of the original proposition,
eleven had been postponed for further consideration, and
seventeen had been directly negatived. The hundred and
seventh ordered the bodily searching of nuns for jesuitical
symbols by aged clergymen, and was considered to be the real
mainstay of the whole bill. No intention had ever existed to
pass such a law as that proposed, but the government did not
intend to abandon it till their object was fully attained by the
discussion of this clause. It was known that it would be
insisted on with terrible vehemence by Protestant Irish members,
and as vehemently denounced by the Roman Catholic; and
it was justly considered that no further union between the
parties would be possible after such a battle. The innocent
Irish fell into the trap as they always do, and whiskey and
poplins became a drug in the market.
A florid-faced gentleman with a nice head of hair, from the
south of Ireland, had succeeded in catching the speaker's eye
by the time that Mr Harding had got into the gallery, and was
denouncing the proposed sacrilege, his whole face glowing
with a fine theatrical frenzy.
'And this is a Christian country?' said he. (Loud cheers;
counter cheers from the ministerial benches. 'Some doubt as
to that,' from a voice below the gangway.) 'No, it can be no
Christian country, in which the head of the bar, the lagal
adviser (loud laughter and cheers) -yes, I say the lagal adviser
of the crown (great cheers and laughter)--can stand up in his
seat in this house (prolonged cheers and laughter), and
attempt to lagalise indacent assaults on the bodies of religious
ladies.' (Deafening cheers and laughter, which were prolonged
till the honourable member resumed his seat.)
When Mr Harding had listened to this and much more of
the same kind for about three hours, he returned to the door of
the House, and received back from the messenger his own note,
with the following words scrawled in pencil on the back of it:
'To-morrow, 10 P.M.--my chambers.--A. H.'
He was so far successful--but 10 P.M.: what an hour Sir
Abraham had named for a legal interview! Mr Harding felt
perfectly sure that long before that Dr Grantly would be in
London. Dr Grantly could not, however, know that this interview
had been arranged, nor could he learn it unless he managed
to get hold of Sir Abraham before that hour; and as this
was very improbable, Mr Harding determined to start from
his hotel early, merely leaving word that he should dine out,
and unless luck were much against him, he might still escape the
archdeacon till his return from the attorney-general's chambers.
He was at breakfast at nine, and for the twentieth time
consulted his Bradshaw, to see at what earliest hour Dr Grantly
could arrive from Barchester. As he examined the columns,
he was nearly petrified by the reflection that perhaps the
archdeacon might come up by the night-mail train! His heart
sank within him at the horrid idea, and for a moment he felt
himself dragged back to Barchester without accomplishing any
portion of his object. Then he remembered that had Dr
Grantly done so, he would have been in the hotel, looking
for him long since.
'Waiter,' said he, timidly.
The waiter approached, creaking in his shoes, but voiceless.
'Did any gentleman--a clergyman, arrive here by the night-
mail train ?'
'No, sir, not one,' whispered the waiter, putting his mouth
nearly close to the warden's ear.
Mr Harding was reassured.
'Waiter,' said he again, and the waiter again creaked up.
'If anyone calls for me, I am going to dine out, and shall
return about eleven o'clock.'
The waiter nodded, but did not this time vouchsafe any
reply; and Mr Harding, taking up his hat, proceeded out to
pass a long day in the best way he could, somewhere out of
sight of the archdeacon.
Bradshaw had told him twenty times that Dr Grantly could
not be at Paddington station till 2 P.M., and our poor friend
might therefore have trusted to the shelter of the hotel for some
hours longer with perfect safety; but he was nervous. There
was no knowing what steps the archdeacon might take for his
apprehension: a message by electric telegraph might desire
the landlord of the hotel to set a watch upon him; some letter
might come which he might find himself unable to disobey;
at any rate, he could not feel himself secure in any place at
which the archdeacon could expect to find him; and at
10 A.M. he started forth to spend twelve hours in London.
Mr Harding had friends in town had he chosen to seek
them; but he felt that he was in no humour for ordinary calls,
and he did not now wish to consult with anyone as to the great
step which he had determined to take. As he had said to his
daughter, no one knows where the shoe pinches but the wearer.
There are some points on which no man can be contented to
follow the advice of another--some subjects on which a man
can consult his own conscience only. Our warden had made
up his mind that it was good for him at any cost to get rid of
this grievance; his daughter was the only person whose
concurrence appeared necessary to him, and she did concur with
him most heartily. Under such circumstances he would not,
if he could help it, consult anyone further, till advice would be
useless. Should the archdeacon catch him, indeed, there
would be much advice, and much consultation of a kind not
to be avoided; but he hoped better things; and as he felt that
he could not now converse on indifferent subjects, he resolved
to see no one till after his interview with the attorney-general.
He determined to take sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, so
he again went thither in an omnibus, and finding that the
doors were not open for morning service, he paid his twopence,
and went in as a sightseer. It occurred to him that he had no
definite place of rest for the day, and that he should be
absolutely worn out before his interview if he attempted to walk
about from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M., so he sat himself down on a
stone step, and gazed up at the figure of William Pitt, who
looks as though he had just entered the church for the first
time in his life and was anything but pleased at finding
He had been sitting unmolested about twenty minutes when
the verger asked him whether he wouldn't like to walk round.
Mr Harding didn't want to walk anywhere, and declined,
merely observing that he was waiting for the morning service.
The verger, seeing that he was a clergyman, told him that the
doors of the choir were now open, and showed him into a seat.
This was a great point gained; the archdeacon would certainly
not come to morning service at Westminster Abbey, even
though he were in London; and here the warden could rest
quietly, and, when the time came, duly say his prayers.
He longed to get up from his seat, and examine the music-
books of the choristers, and the copy of the litany from which
the service was chanted, to see how far the little details at
Westminster corresponded with those at Barchester, and
whether he thought his own voice would fill the church well
from the Westminster precentor's seat. There would, however,
be impropriety in such meddling, and he sat perfectly
still, looking up at the noble roof, and guarding against the
coming fatigues of the day.
By degrees two or three people entered; the very same
damp old woman who had nearly obliterated him in the
omnibus, or some other just like her; a couple of young ladies
with their veils down, and gilt crosses conspicuous on their
prayer-books; an old man on crutches; a party who were
seeing the abbey, and thought they might as well hear the
service for their twopence, as opportunity served; and a young
woman with her prayer-book done up in her handkerchief,
who rushed in late, and, in her hurried entry, tumbled over
one of the forms, and made such a noise that everyone, even
the officiating minor canon, was startled, and she herself was
so frightened by the echo of her own catastrophe that she was
nearly thrown into fits by the panic.
Mr Harding was not much edified by the manner of the
service. The minor canon in question hurried in, somewhat
late, in a surplice not in the neatest order, and was followed by
a dozen choristers, who were also not as trim as they might
have been: they all jostled into their places with a quick
hurried step, and the service was soon commenced. Soon
commenced and soon over--for there was no music, and time
was not unnecessarily lost in the chanting. On the whole
Mr Harding was of opinion that things were managed better
at Barchester, though even there he knew that there was room
It appears to us a question whether any clergyman can go
through our church service with decorum, morning after morning,
in an immense building, surrounded by not more than a
dozen listeners. The best actors cannot act well before empty
benches, and though there is, of course, a higher motive in one
case than the other, still even the best of clergymen cannot but
be influenced by their audience; and to expect that a duty
should be well done under such circumstances, would be to
require from human nature more than human power.
When the two ladies with the gilt crosses, the old man with
his crutch, and the still palpitating housemaid were going,
Mr Harding found himself obliged to go too. The verger
stood in his way, and looked at him and looked at the door,
and so he went. But he returned again in a few minutes, and
re-entered with another twopence. There was no other
sanctuary so good for him.
As he walked slowly down the nave, and then up one aisle,
and then again down the nave and up the other aisle, he tried
to think gravely of the step he was about to take. He was
going to give up eight hundred a year voluntarily; and doom
himself to live for the rest of his life on about a hundred and
fifty. He knew that he had hitherto failed to realise this fact
as he ought to do. Could he maintain his own independence
and support his daughter on a hundred and fifty pounds a
year without being a burden on anyone? His son-in-law was
rich, but nothing could induce him to lean on his son-in-law
after acting, as he intended to do, in direct opposition to his
son-in-law's counsel. The bishop was rich, but he was about
to throw away the bishop's best gift, and that in a manner to
injure materially the patronage of the giver: he could neither
expect nor accept anything further from the bishop. There
would be not only no merit, but positive disgrace, in giving up
his wardenship, if he were not prepared to meet the world
without it. Yes, he must from this time forward bound all his
human wishes for himself and his daughter to the poor extent
of so limited an income. He knew he had not thought sufficiently
of this, that he had been carried away by enthusiasm,
and had hitherto not brought home to himself the full reality
of his position.
He thought most about his daughter, naturally. It was true
that she was engaged, and he knew enough of his proposed
son-in-law to be sure that his own altered circumstances would
make no obstacle to such a marriage; nay, he was sure that
the very fact of his poverty would induce Bold more anxiously
to press the matter; but he disliked counting on Bold in this
emergency, brought on, as it had been, by his doing. He did
not like saying to himself, Bold has turned me out of my house
and income, and, therefore, he must relieve me of my daughter;
he preferred reckoning on Eleanor as the companion of his
poverty and exile--as the sharer of his small income.
Some modest provision for his daughter had been long since
made. His life was insured for three thousand pounds, and
this sum was to go to Eleanor. The archdeacon, for some
years past, had paid the premium, and had secured himself by
the immediate possession of a small property which was to have
gone to Mrs Grantly after her father's death. This matter,
therefore, had been taken out of the warden's hands long since,
as, indeed, had all the business transactions of his family, and
his anxiety was, therefore, confined to his own life income.
Yes. A hundred and fifty per annum was very small, but
still it might suffice; but how was he to chant the litany at the
cathedral on Sunday mornings, and get the service done at
Crabtree Parva? True, Crabtree Church was not quite a mile
and a half from the cathedral; but he could not be in two
places at once. Crabtree was a small village, and afternoon
service might suffice, but still this went against his conscience;
it was not right that his parishioners should be robbed of any
of their privileges on account of his poverty. He might, to be
sure, make some arrangements for doing week-day service at
the cathedral; but he had chanted the litany at Barchester so
long, and had a conscious feeling that he did it so well, that he
was unwilling to give up the duty.
Thinking of such things, turning over in his own mind
together small desires and grave duties, but never hesitating
for a moment as to the necessity of leaving the hospital, Mr
Harding walked up and down the abbey, or sat still meditating
on the same stone step, hour after hour. One verger went
and another came, but they did not disturb him; every now
and then they crept up and looked at him, but they did
so with a reverential stare, and, on the whole, Mr Harding
found his retreat well chosen. About four o'clock his comfort
was disturbed by an enemy in the shape of hunger. It was
necessary that he should dine, and it was clear that he could
not dine in the abbey: so he left his sanctuary not willingly,
and betook himself to the neighbourhood of the Strand to
look for food.
His eyes had become so accustomed to the gloom of the
church, that they were dazed when he got out into the full light
of day, and he felt confused and ashamed of himself, as though
people were staring at him. He hurried along, still in dread
of the archdeacon, till he came to Charing Cross, and then
remembered that in one of his passages through the Strand he
had seen the words 'Chops and Steaks' on a placard in a shop
window. He remembered the shop distinctly; it was next
door to a trunk-seller's, and there was a cigar shop on the
other side. He couldn't go to his hotel for dinner, which to
him hitherto was the only known mode of dining in London at
his own expense; and, therefore, he would get a steak at the
shop in the Strand. Archdeacon Grantly would certainly not
come to such a place for his dinner.
He found the house easily--just as he had observed it, between
the trunks and the cigars. He was rather daunted by the
huge quantity of fish which he saw in the window. There
were barrels of oysters, hecatombs of lobsters, a few tremendous-
looking crabs, and a tub full of pickled salmon; not, however,
being aware of any connection between shell-fish and
iniquity, he entered, and modestly asked a slatternly woman,
who was picking oysters out of a great watery reservoir,
whether he could have a mutton chop and a potato.
The woman looked somewhat surprised, but answered in
the affirmative, and a slipshod girl ushered him into a long
back room, filled with boxes for the accommodation of parties,
in one of which he took his seat. In a more miserably forlorn
place he could not have found himself: the room smelt of fish,
and sawdust, and stale tobacco smoke, with a slight taint of
escaped gas; everything was rough and dirty, and disreputable;
the cloth which they put before him was abominable;
the knives and forks were bruised, and hacked, and filthy; and
everything was impregnated with fish. He had one comfort,
however: he was quite alone; there was no one there to look
on his dismay; nor was it probable that anyone would come
to do so. It was a London supper-house. About one o'clock
at night the place would be lively enough, but at the present
time his seclusion was as deep as it had been in the abbey.
In about half an hour the untidy girl, not yet dressed for her
evening labours, brought him his chop and potatoes, and Mr
Harding begged for a pint of sherry. He was impressed with
an idea, which was generally prevalent a few years since, and
is not yet wholly removed from the minds of men, that to order
a dinner at any kind of inn, without also ordering a pint of
wine for the benefit of the landlord, was a kind of fraud--not
punishable, indeed, by law, but not the less abominable on
that account. Mr Harding remembered his coming poverty,
and would willingly have saved his half-crown, but he thought
he had no alternative; and he was soon put in possession of some
horrid mixture procured from the neighbouring public-house.
His chop and potatoes, however, were eatable, and having
got over as best he might the disgust created by the knives and
forks, he contrived to swallow his dinner. He was not much
disturbed: one young man, with pale face and watery fishlike
eyes, wearing his hat ominously on one side, did come in and
stare at him, and ask the girl, audibly enough, 'Who that old
cock was'; but the annoyance went no further, and the
warden was left seated on his wooden bench in peace,
endeavouring to distinguish the different scents arising from
lobsters, oysters, and salmon.
Unknowing as Mr Harding was in the ways of London, he
felt that he had somehow selected an ineligible dining-house,
and that he had better leave it. It was hardly five o'clock--
how was he to pass the time till ten? Five miserable hours!
He was already tired, and it was impossible that he should
continue walking so long. He thought of getting into an
omnibus, and going out to Fulham for the sake of coming back
in another: this, however, would be weary work, and as he
paid his bill to the woman in the shop, he asked her if there
were any place near where he could get a cup of coffee.
Though she did keep a shellfish supper-house, she was very
civil, and directed him to the cigar divan on the other side of
Mr Harding had not a much correcter notion of a cigar
divan than he had of a London dinner-house, but he was
desperately in want of rest, and went as he was directed. He
thought he must have made some mistake when he found himself
in a cigar shop, but the man behind the counter saw immediately
that he was a stranger, and understood what he wanted.
'One shilling, sir--thank ye, sir--cigar, sir?--ticket
for coffee, sir--you'll only have to call the waiter. Up those
stairs, if you please, sir. Better take the cigar, sir--you can
always give it to a friend, you know. Well, sir, thank ye, sir--as
you are so good, I'll smoke it myself.' And so Mr Harding ascended
to the divan, with his ticket for coffee, but minus the cigar.
The place seemed much more suitable to his requirements
than the room in which he had dined: there was, to be sure,
a strong smell of tobacco, to which he was not accustomed;
but after the shell-fish, the tobacco did not seem disagreeable.
There were quantities of books, and long rows of sofas. What
on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a
cup of coffee? An old waiter came up to him, with a couple
of magazines and an evening paper. Was ever anything so
civil? Would he have a cup of coffee, or would he prefer
sherbet? Sherbet! Was he absolutely in an Eastern divan,
with the slight addition of all the London periodicals? He
had, however, an idea that sherbet should be drunk sitting
cross-legged, and as he was not quite up to this, he ordered
The coffee came, and was unexceptionable. Why, this
divan was a paradise! The civil old waiter suggested to him
a game of chess: though a chess player he was not equal to
this, so he declined, and, putting up his weary legs on the
sofa, leisurely sipped his coffee, and turned over the pages of
his Blackwood. He might have been so engaged for about an
hour, for the old waiter enticed him to a second cup of coffee,
when a musical clock began to play. Mr Harding then closed
his magazine, keeping his place with his finger, and lay,
listening with closed eyes to the clock. Soon the clock seemed
to turn into a violoncello, with piano accompaniments, and
Mr Harding began to fancy the old waiter was the Bishop of
Barchester; he was inexpressibly shocked that the bishop
should have brought him his coffee with his own hands; then
Dr Grantly came in, with a basket full of lobsters, which he
would not be induced to leave downstairs in the kitchen; and
then the warden couldn't quite understand why so many
people would smoke in the bishop's drawing-room; and so
he fell fast asleep, and his dreams wandered away to his
accustomed stall in Barchester Cathedral, and the twelve old men
he was so soon about to leave for ever.
He was fatigued, and slept soundly for some time. Some
sudden stop in the musical clock woke him at length, and he
jumped up with a start, surprised to find the room quite full:
it had been nearly empty when his nap began. With nervous
anxiety he pulled out his watch, and found that it was half-
past nine. He seized his hat, and, hurrying downstairs,
started at a rapid pace for Lincoln's Inn.
It still wanted twenty minutes to ten when the warden
found himself at the bottom of Sir Abraham's stairs, so he
walked leisurely up and down the quiet inn to cool himself.
It was a beautiful evening at the end of August. He had
recovered from his fatigue; his sleep and the coffee had
refreshed him, and he was surprised to find that he was absolutely
enjoying himself, when the inn clock struck ten. The sound
was hardly over before he knocked at Sir Abraham's door, and
was informed by the clerk who received him that the great
man would be with him immediately.
Sir Abraham Haphazard
Mr Harding was shown into a comfortable inner
sitting-room, looking more like a gentleman's book-room
than a lawyer's chambers, and there waited for Sir Abraham.
Nor was he kept waiting long: in ten or fifteen minutes he
heard a clatter of voices speaking quickly in the passage, and
then the attorney-general entered.
'Very sorry to keep you waiting, Mr Warden,' said Sir
Abraham, shaking hands with him; 'and sorry, too, to name
so disagreeable an hour; but your notice was short, and as
you said today, I named the very earliest hour that was not
Mr Harding assured him that he was aware that it was he
that should apologise.
Sir Abraham was a tall thin man, with hair prematurely
gray, but bearing no other sign of age; he had a slight stoop,
in his neck rather than his back, acquired by his constant habit
of leaning forward as he addressed his various audiences. He
might be fifty years old, and would have looked young for his
age, had not constant work hardened his features, and given
him the appearance of a machine with a mind. His face was
full of intellect, but devoid of natural expression. You would
say he was a man to use, and then have done with; a man to
be sought for on great emergencies, but ill-adapted for ordinary
services; a man whom you would ask to defend your property,
but to whom you would be sorry to confide your love. He was
bright as a diamond, and as cutting, and also as unimpressionable.
He knew everyone whom to know was an honour, but he was without
a friend; he wanted none, however, and knew not the meaning
of the word in other than its parliamentary sense. A friend! Had
he not always been sufficient to himself, and now, at fifty, was
it likely that he should trust another? He was married, indeed,
and had children, but what time had he for the soft idleness of
conjugal felicity? His working days or term times were occupied
from his time of rising to the late hour at which he went to rest,
and even his vacations were more full of labour than the busiest
days of other men. He never quarrelled with his wife, but he
never talked to her--he never had time to talk, he was so
taken up with speaking. She, poor lady, was not unhappy;
she had all that money could give her, she would probably
live to be a peeress, and she really thought Sir Abraham the
best of husbands.
Sir Abraham was a man of wit, and sparkled among the
brightest at the dinner-tables of political grandees: indeed, he
always sparkled; whether in society, in the House of Commons,
or the courts of law, coruscations flew from him; glittering
sparkles, as from hot steel, but no heat; no cold heart
was ever cheered by warmth from him, no unhappy soul ever
dropped a portion of its burden at his door.
With him success alone was praiseworthy, and he knew none
so successful as himself. No one had thrust him forward; no
powerful friends had pushed him along on his road to power.
No; he was attorney-general, and would, in all human probability,
be lord chancellor by sheer dint of his own industry and his own
talent. Who else in all the world rose so high with so little help?
A premier, indeed! Who had ever been premier without mighty
friends? An archbishop! Yes, the son or
grandson of a great noble, or else, probably, his tutor. But
he, Sir Abraham, had had no mighty lord at his back; his
father had been a country apothecary, his mother a farmer's
daughter. Why should he respect any but himself? And so
he glitters along through the world, the brightest among the
bright; and when his glitter is gone, and he is gathered to his
fathers, no eye will be dim with a tear, no heart will mourn
for its lost friend.
'And so, Mr Warden,' said Sir Abraham, 'all our trouble
about this lawsuit is at an end.'
Mr Harding said he hoped so, but he didn't at all understand
what Sir Abraham meant. Sir Abraham, with all his sharpness,
could not have looked into his heart and read his intentions.
'All over. You need trouble yourself no further about it;
of course they must pay the costs, and the absolute expense to
you and Dr Grantly will be trifling--that is, compared with
what it might have been if it had been continued.'
'I fear I don't quite understand you, Sir Abraham.'
'Don't you know that their attorneys have noticed us that
they have withdrawn the suit?'
Mr Harding explained to the lawyer that he knew nothing
of this, although he had heard in a roundabout way that such
an intention had been talked of; and he also at length
succeeded in making Sir Abraham understand that even this did
not satisfy him. The attorney-general stood up, put his hands
into his breeches' pockets, and raised his eyebrows, as Mr
Harding proceeded to detail the grievance from which he now
wished to rid himself.
'I know I have no right to trouble you personally with this
matter, but as it is of most vital importance to me, as all my
happiness is concerned in it, I thought I might venture to seek
Sir Abraham bowed, and declared his clients were entitled
to the best advice he could give them; particularly a client so
respectable in every way as the Warden of Barchester Hospital.
'A spoken word, Sir Abraham, is often of more value than
volumes of written advice. The truth is, I am ill-satisfied with
this matter as it stands at present. I do see--I cannot help
seeing, that the affairs of the hospital are not arranged
according to the will of the founder.'
'None of such institutions are, Mr Harding, nor can they be;
the altered circumstances in which we live do not admit of it.'
'Quite true--that is quite true; but I can't see that those
altered circumstances give me a right to eight hundred a year.
I don't know whether I ever read John Hiram's will, but were
I to read it now I could not understand it. What I want you,
Sir Abraham, to tell me, is this--am I, as warden, legally and
distinctly entitled to the proceeds of the property, after the due
maintenance of the twelve bedesmen?'
Sir Abraham declared that he couldn't exactly say in so
many words that Mr Harding was legally entitled to, &c., &c.,
&c., and ended in expressing a strong opinion that it would
be madness to raise any further question on the matter, as the
suit was to be--nay, was, abandoned.
Mr Harding, seated in his chair, began to play a slow tune
on an imaginary violoncello.
'Nay, my dear sir,' continued the attorney-general, 'there
is no further ground for any question; I don't see that you
have the power of raising it.'
'I can resign,' said Mr Harding, slowly playing away with
his right hand, as though the bow were beneath the chair in
which he was sitting.
'What! throw it up altogether?' said the attorney-general,
gazing with utter astonishment at his client.
'Did you see those articles in The Jupiter?' said Mr Harding,
piteously, appealing to the sympathy of the lawyer.
Sir Abraham said he had seen them. This poor little clergyman,
cowed into such an act of extreme weakness by a newspaper
article, was to Sir Abraham so contemptible an object, that
he hardly knew how to talk to him as to a rational being.
'Hadn't you better wait,' said he, 'till Dr Grantly is in
town with you? Wouldn't it be better to postpone any serious
step till you can consult with him?'
Mr Harding declared vehemently that he could not wait,
and Sir Abraham began seriously to doubt his sanity.
'Of course,' said the latter, 'if you have private means
sufficient for your wants, and if this--'
'I haven't a sixpence, Sir Abraham,' said the warden.
'God bless me! Why, Mr Harding, how do you mean to live?'
Mr Harding proceeded to explain to the man of law that
he meant to keep his precentorship--that was eighty pounds
a year; and, also, that he meant to fall back upon his own
little living of Crabtree, which was another eighty pounds.
That, to be sure, the duties of the two were hardly compatible;
but perhaps he might effect an exchange. And then, recollecting
that the attorney-general would hardly care to hear how
the service of a cathedral church is divided among the
minor canons, stopped short in his explanations.
Sir Abraham listened in pitying wonder. 'I really think,
Mr Harding, you had better wait for the archdeacon. This is
a most serious step--one for which, in my opinion, there is not
the slightest necessity; and, as you have done me the honour
of asking my advice, I must implore you to do nothing without
the approval of your friends. A man is never the best
judge of his own position.'
'A man is the best judge of what he feels himself. I'd
sooner beg my bread till my death than read such another
article as those two that have appeared, and feel, as I do, that
the writer has truth on his side.'
'Have you not a daughter, Mr Harding--an unmarried daughter?'
'I have,' said he, now standing also, but still playing away
on his fiddle with his hand behind his back. 'I have, Sir
Abraham; and she and I are completely agreed on this subject.'
'Pray excuse me, Mr Harding, if what I say seems impertinent;
but surely it is you that should be prudent on her
behalf. She is young, and does not know the meaning of
living on an income of a hundred and sixty pounds a year. On her
account give up this idea. Believe me, it is sheer Quixotism.'
The warden walked away to the window, and then back to
his chair; and then, irresolute what to say, took another turn
to the window. The attorney-general was really extremely
patient, but he was beginning to think that the interview had
been long enough.
'But if this income be not justly mine, what if she and I
have both to beg?' said the warden at last, sharply, and in a
voice so different from that he had hitherto used, that Sir
Abraham was startled. 'If so, it would be better to beg.'
'My dear sir, nobody now questions its justness.'
'Yes, Sir Abraham, one does question it--the most important
of all witnesses against me--I question it myself. My God
knows whether or no I love my daughter; but I would sooner that
she and I should both beg, than that she should live in
comfort on money which is truly the property of the poor.
It may seem strange to you, Sir Abraham, it is strange to
myself, that I should have been ten years in that happy
home, and not have thought of these things till they were so
roughly dinned into my ears. I cannot boast of my conscience,
when it required the violence of a public newspaper to awaken
it; but, now that it is awake, I must obey it. When I came
here, I did not know that the suit was withdrawn by Mr Bold,
and my object was to beg you to abandon my defence. As
there is no action, there can be no defence; but it is, at any
rate, as well that you should know that from tomorrow I shall
cease to be the warden of the hospital. My friends and I differ
on this subject, Sir Abraham, and that adds much to my
sorrow; but it cannot be helped.' And, as he finished what
he had to say, he played up such a tune as never before had
graced the chambers of any attorney-general. He was standing
up, gallantly fronting Sir Abraham, and his right arm
passed with bold and rapid sweeps before him, as though he
were embracing some huge instrument, which allowed him
to stand thus erect; and with the fingers of his left hand he
stopped, with preternatural velocity, a multitude of strings,
which ranged from the top of his collar to the bottom of the
lappet of his coat. Sir Abraham listened and looked in wonder.
As he had never before seen Mr Harding, the meaning of
these wild gesticulations was lost upon him; but he perceived
that the gentleman who had a few minutes since been so
subdued as to be unable to speak without hesitation, was now
impassioned--nay, almost violent.
'You'll sleep on this, Mr Harding, and tomorrow--'
'I have done more than sleep upon it,' said the warden;
'I have lain awake upon it, and that night after night. I
found I could not sleep upon it: now I hope to do so.'
The attorney-general had no answer to make to this; so he
expressed a quiet hope that whatever settlement was finally
made would be satisfactory; and Mr Harding withdrew,
thanking the great man for his kind attention.
Mr Harding was sufficiently satisfied with the interview to
feel a glow of comfort as he descended into the small old square
of Lincoln's Inn. It was a calm, bright, beautiful night, and
by the light of the moon, even the chapel of Lincoln's Inn, and
the sombre row of chambers, which surround the quadrangle,
looked well. He stood still a moment to collect his thoughts,
and reflect on what he had done, and was about to do. He
knew that the attorney-general regarded him as little better
than a fool, but that he did not mind; he and the attorney-
general had not much in common between them; he knew
also that others, whom he did care about, would think so too;
but Eleanor, he was sure, would exult in what he had done,
and the bishop, he trusted, would sympathise with him.
In the meantime he had to meet the archdeacon, and so he
walked slowly down Chancery Lane and along Fleet Street,
feeling sure that his work for the night was not yet over.
When he reached the hotel he rang the bell quietly, and with
a palpitating heart; he almost longed to escape round the
corner, and delay the coming storm by a further walk round
St Paul's Churchyard, but he heard the slow creaking shoes
of the old waiter approaching, and he stood his ground manfully.
The Warden is Very Obstinate
'Dr Grantly is here, sir,' greeted his ears before the
door was well open, 'and Mrs Grantly. They have a
sitting-room above, and are waiting up for you.'
There was something in the tone of the man's voice which
seemed to indicate that even he looked upon the warden as a
runaway schoolboy, just recaptured by his guardian, and that
he pitied the culprit, though he could not but be horrified at
The warden endeavoured to appear unconcerned, as he
said, 'Oh, indeed! I'll go upstairs at once'; but he failed
signally. There was, perhaps, a ray of comfort in the presence
of his married daughter; that is to say, of comparative comfort,
seeing that his son-in-law was there; but how much
would he have preferred that they should both have been safe
at Plumstead Episcopi! However, upstairs he went, the
waiter slowly preceding him; and on the door being opened
the archdeacon was discovered standing in the middle of the
room, erect, indeed, as usual, but oh! how sorrowful! and
on the dingy sofa behind him reclined his patient wife.
'Papa, I thought you were never coming back,' said the
lady; 'it's twelve o'clock.'
'Yes, my dear,' said the warden. 'The attorney-general
named ten for my meeting; to be sure ten is late, but what
could I do, you know? Great men will have their own way.'
And he gave his daughter a kiss, and shook hands with the
doctor, and again tried to look unconcerned.
'And you have absolutely been with the attorney-general?'
asked the archdeacon.
Mr Harding signified that he had.
'Good heavens, how unfortunate!' And the archdeacon
raised his huge hands in the manner in which his friends are
so accustomed to see him express disapprobation and astonishment.
'What will Sir Abraham think of it? Did you not know that
it is not customary for clients to go direct to their counsel?'
'Isn't it?' asked the warden, innocently. 'Well, at any rate, I've
done it now. Sir Abraham didn't seem to think it so very strange.'
The archdeacon gave a sigh that would have moved a man-of-war.
'But, papa, what did you say to Sir Abraham?' asked the lady.
'I asked him, my dear, to explain John Hiram's will to me.
He couldn't explain it in the only way which would have
satisfied me, and so I resigned the wardenship.'
'Resigned it!' said the archdeacon, in a solemn voice, sad
and low, but yet sufficiently audible--a sort of whisper that
Macready would have envied, and the galleries have applauded
with a couple of rounds. 'Resigned it! Good heavens!'
And the dignitary of the church sank back horrified into a
'At least I told Sir Abraham that I would resign; and of
course I must now do so.'
'Not at all,' said the archdeacon, catching a ray of hope.
'Nothing that you say in such a way to your own counsel can
be in any way binding on you; of course you were there to
ask his advice. I'm sure Sir Abraham did not advise any such step.'
Mr Harding could not say that he had.
'I am sure he disadvised you from it,' continued the
Mr Harding could not deny this.
'I'm sure Sir Abraham must have advised you to consult
To this proposition also Mr Harding was obliged to assent.
'Then your threat of resignation amounts to nothing, and
we are just where we were before.'
Mr Harding was now standing on the rug, moving uneasily
from one foot to the other. He made no distinct answer to
the archdeacon's last proposition, for his mind was chiefly
engaged on thinking how he could escape to bed. That his
resignation was a thing finally fixed on, a fact all but completed,
was not in his mind a matter of any doubt; he knew his own
weakness; he knew how prone he was to be led; but he was not
weak enough to give way now, to go back from the position to
which his conscience had driven him, after having purposely come
to London to declare his determination: he did not in the least
doubt his resolution, but he greatly doubted his power of
defending it against his son-in-law.
'You must be very tired, Susan,' said he: 'wouldn't you
like to go to bed?'
But Susan didn't want to go till her husband went.--She
had an idea that her papa might be bullied if she were away:
she wasn't tired at all, or at least she said so.
The archdeacon was pacing the room, expressing, by certain noddles
of his head, his opinion of the utter fatuity of his father-in-law.
'Why,' at last he said--and angels might have blushed at
the rebuke expressed in his tone and emphasis--'Why did you go off
from Barchester so suddenly? Why did you take such a step without
giving us notice, after what had passed at the palace?'
The warden hung his head, and made no reply: he could
not condescend to say that he had not intended to give his
son-in-law the slip; and as he had not the courage to avow it,
he said nothing.
'Papa has been too much for you,' said the lady.
The archdeacon took another turn, and again ejaculated,
'Good heavens!' this time in a very low whisper, but still audible.
'I think I'll go to bed,' said the warden, taking up a side candle.
'At any rate, you'll promise me to take no further step
without consultation,' said the archdeacon. Mr Harding
made no answer, but slowly proceeded to light his candle.
'Of course,' continued the other, 'such a declaration as that
you made to Sir Abraham means nothing. Come, warden,
promise me this. The whole affair, you see, is already settled,
and that with very little trouble or expense. Bold has been
compelled to abandon his action, and all you have to do is to
remain quiet at the hospital.' Mr Harding still made no reply,
but looked meekly into his son-in-law's face. The archdeacon
thought he knew his father-in-law, but he was mistaken; he
thought that he had already talked over a vacillating man to
resign his promise. 'Come,' said he, 'promise Susan to give
up this idea of resigning the wardenship.'
The warden looked at his daughter, thinking probably at
the moment that if Eleanor were contented with him, he need
not so much regard his other child, and said, 'I am sure Susan will
not ask me to break my word, or to do what I know to be wrong.'
'Papa,' said she, 'it would be madness in you to throw up
your preferment. What are you to live on?'
'God, that feeds the young ravens, will take care of me
also,' said Mr Harding, with a smile, as though afraid of giving
offence by making his reference to scripture too solemn.
'Pish!' said the archdeacon, turning away rapidly. 'If the
ravens persisted in refusing the food prepared for them, they
wouldn't be fed.' A clergyman generally dislikes to be met in
argument by any scriptural quotation; he feels as affronted
as a doctor does, when recommended by an old woman to take
some favourite dose, or as a lawyer when an unprofessional
man attempts to put him down by a quibble.
'I shall have the living of Crabtree,' modestly suggested
'Eighty pounds a year!' sneered the archdeacon.
'And the precentorship,' said the father-in-law.
'It goes with the wardenship,' said the son-in-law. Mr
Harding was prepared to argue this point, and began to do so,
but Dr Grantly stopped him. 'My dear warden,' said he,
'this is all nonsense. Eighty pounds or a hundred and sixty
makes very little difference. You can't live on it--you can't
ruin Eleanor's prospects for ever. In point of fact, you can't
resign; the bishop wouldn't accept it; the whole thing is
settled. What I now want to do is to prevent any inconvenient
tittle-tattle--any more newspaper articles.'
'That's what I want, too,' said the warden.
'And to prevent that,' continued the other, 'we mustn't let
any talk of resignation get abroad.'
'But I shall resign,' said the warden, very, very meekly.
'Good heavens! Susan, my dear, what can I say to him?'
'But, papa,' said Mrs Grantly, getting up, and putting her
arm through that of her father, 'what is Eleanor to do if you
throw away your income?'
A hot tear stood in each of the warden's eyes as he looked
round upon his married daughter. Why should one sister who
was so rich predict poverty for another? Some such idea as
this was on his mind, but he gave no utterance to it. Then he
thought of the pelican feeding its young with blood from its
own breast, but he gave no utterance to that either; and then
of Eleanor waiting for him at home, waiting to congratulate
him on the end of all his trouble.
'Think of Eleanor, papa,' said Mrs Grantly.
'I do think of her,' said her father.
'And you will not do this rash thing?' The lady was really
moved beyond her usual calm composure.
'It can never be rash to do right,' said he. 'I shall certainly
resign this wardenship.'
'Then, Mr Harding, there is nothing before you but ruin,'
said the archdeacon, now moved beyond all endurance. 'Ruin
both for you and Eleanor. How do you mean to pay the
monstrous expenses of this action?'
Mrs Grantly suggested that, as the action was abandoned,
the costs would not be heavy.
'Indeed they will, my dear,' continued he. 'One cannot
have the attorney-general up at twelve o'clock at night for
nothing--but of course your father has not thought of this.'
'I will sell my furniture,' said the warden.
'Furniture!' ejaculated the other, with a most powerful sneer.
Come, archdeacon,' said the lady, 'we needn't mind that
at present. You know you never expected papa to pay the costs.'
'Such absurdity is enough to provoke job,' said the archdeacon,
marching quickly up and down the room. 'Your
father is like a child. Eight hundred pounds a year!--eight
hundred and eighty with the house--with nothing to do. The
very place for him. And to throw that up because some
scoundrel writes an article in a newspaper! Well--I have
done my duty. If he chooses to ruin his child I cannot help
it'; and he stood still at the fire-place, and looked at himself
in a dingy mirror which stood on the chimney-piece.
There was a pause for about a minute, and then the warden,
finding that nothing else was coming, lighted his candle, and
quietly said, 'Good-night.'
'Good-night, papa,' said the lady.
And so the warden retired; but, as he closed the door
behind him, he heard the well-known ejaculation--slower,
lower, more solemn, more ponderous than ever--'Good heavens!'
The Warden Resigns
The party met the next morning at breakfast; and a very sombre
affair it was--very unlike the breakfasts at Plumstead Episcopi.
There were three thin, small, dry bits of bacon, each an inch
long, served up under a huge old plated cover; there were
four three-cornered bits of dry toast, and four square bits of
buttered toast; there was a loaf of bread, and some oily-
looking butter; and on the sideboard there were the remains
of a cold shoulder of mutton. The archdeacon, however, had
not come up from his rectory to St Paul's Churchyard to
enjoy himself and therefore nothing was said of the scanty fare.
The guests were as sorry as the viands--hardly anything
was said over the breakfast-table. The archdeacon munched
his toast in ominous silence, turning over bitter thoughts in his
deep mind. The warden tried to talk to his daughter, and she
tried to answer him; but they both failed. There were no
feelings at present in common between them. The warden
was thinking only of getting back to Barchester, and calculating
whether the archdeacon would expect him to wait for him;
and Mrs Grantly was preparing herself for a grand attack
which she was to make on her father, as agreed upon between
herself and her husband during their curtain confabulation of
When the waiter had creaked out of the room with the last
of the teacups, the archdeacon got up and went to the window
as though to admire the view. The room looked out on a
narrow passage which runs from St Paul's Churchyard to
Paternoster Row; and Dr Grantly patiently perused the
names of the three shopkeepers whose doors were in view.
The warden still kept his seat at the table, and examined the
pattern of the tablecloth; and Mrs Grantly, seating herself
on the sofa, began to knit.
After a while the warden pulled his Bradshaw out of his
pocket, and began laboriously to consult it. There was a train
for Barchester at 10 A.M. That was out of the question, for it
was nearly ten already. Another at 3 P.M.; another, the
night-mail train, at 9 P.M. The three o'clock train would take
him home to tea, and would suit very well.
'My dear,' said he, 'I think I shall go back home at three
o'clock today. I shall get home at half-past eight. I don't
think there's anything to keep me in London.'
'The archdeacon and I return by the early train tomorrow,
papa; won't you wait and go back with us?'
'Why, Eleanor will expect me tonight; and I've so much
to do; and--'
'Much to do!' said the archdeacon sotto voce; but the
warden heard him.
'You'd better wait for us, papa.'
'Thank ye, my dear! I think I'll go this afternoon.' The
tamest animal will turn when driven too hard, and even
Mr Harding was beginning to fight for his own way.
I suppose you won't be back before three?' said the lady,
addressing her husband.
'I must leave this at two,' said the warden.
'Quite out of the question,' said the archdeacon, answering
his wife, and still reading the shopkeepers' names; 'I don't
suppose I shall be back till five.'
There was another long pause, during which Mr Harding
continued to study his Bradshaw.
'I must go to Cox and Cummins,' said the archdeacon at last.
'Oh, to Cox and Cummins,' said the warden. It was quite
a matter of indifference to him where his son-in-law went.
The names of Cox and Cummins had now no interest in his
ears. What had he to do with Cox and Cummins further,
having already had his suit finally adjudicated upon in a
court of conscience, a judgment without power of appeal fully
registered, and the matter settled so that all the lawyers in
London could not disturb it. The archdeacon could go to
Cox and Cummins, could remain there all day in anxious
discussion; but what might be said there was no longer matter
of interest to him, who was so soon to lay aside the name of
warden of Barchester Hospital.
The archdeacon took up his shining new clerical hat, and
put on his black new clerical gloves, and looked heavy,
respectable, decorous, and opulent, a decided clergyman of the
Church of England, every inch of him. 'I suppose I shall see
you at Barchester the day after tomorrow,' said he.
The warden supposed he would.
'I must once more beseech you to take no further steps till
you see my father; if you owe me nothing,' and the archdeacon
looked as though he thought a great deal were due to him,
'at least you owe so much to my father'; and, without
waiting for a reply, Dr Grantly wended his way to Cox and
Mrs Grantly waited till the last fall of her husband's foot
was heard, as he turned out of the court into St Paul's Churchyard,
and then commenced her task of talking her father over.
'Papa,' she began, 'this is a most serious business.'
'Indeed it is,' said the warden, ringing the bell.
'I greatly feel the distress of mind you must have endured.'
'I am sure you do, my dear'; and he ordered the waiter to
bring him pen, ink, and paper.
'Are you going to write, papa?'
'Yes, my dear--I am going to write my resignation to the bishop.'
'Pray, pray, papa, put it off till our return--pray put it off
till you have seen the bishop--dear papa! for my sake, for
'It is for your sake and Eleanor's that I do this. I hope, at least,
that my children may never have to be ashamed of their father.'
'How can you talk about shame, papa?' and she stopped
while the waiter creaked in with the paper, and then slowly
creaked out again; 'how can you talk about shame? you
know what all your friends think about this question.'
The warden spread his paper on the table, placing it on the
meagre blotting-book which the hotel afforded, and sat himself
down to write.
'You won't refuse me one request, papa?' continued his
daughter; 'you won't refuse to delay your letter for two short
days? Two days can make no possible difference.'
'My dear,' said he naively, 'if I waited till I got to
Barchester, I might, perhaps, be prevented.'
'But surely you would not wish to offend the bishop?'
'God forbid! The bishop is not apt to take offence, and
knows me too well to take in bad part anything that I may be
called on to do.'
'Susan,' said he, 'my mind on this subject is made up; it is
not without much repugnance that I act in opposition to the
advice of such men as Sir Abraham Haphazard and the archdeacon;
but in this matter I can take no advice, I cannot alter
the resolution to which I have come.'
'But two days, papa--'
'No--nor can I delay it. You may add to my present unhappiness
by pressing me, but you cannot change my purpose; it will be a
comfort to me if you will let the matter rest': and,
dipping his pen into the inkstand, he fixed his eyes intently
on the paper.
There was something in his manner which taught his
daughter to perceive that he was in earnest; she had at one
time ruled supreme in her father's house, but she knew that
there were moments when, mild and meek as he was, he would
have his way, and the present was an occasion of the sort.
She returned, therefore, to her knitting, and very shortly after
left the room.
The warden was now at liberty to compose his letter, and,
as it was characteristic of the man, it shall be given at full
length. The official letter, which, when written, seemed to
him to be too formally cold to be sent alone to so dear a friend,
was accompanied by a private note; and both are here inserted.
The letter of resignation ran as follows:
'CHAPTER HOTEL, ST. PAUL'S, LONDON,
'My LORD BISHOP,
'It is with the greatest pain that I feel myself constrained to
resign into your Lordship's hands the wardenship of the hospital
at Barchester, which you so kindly conferred upon me, now
nearly twelve years since.
'I need not explain the circumstances which have made this
step appear necessary to me. You are aware that a question
has arisen as to the right of the warden to the income which has
been allotted to the wardenship; it has seemed to me that this
right is not well made out, and I hesitate to incur the risk of
taking an income to which my legal claim appears doubtful.
'The office of precentor of the cathedral is, as your Lordship
is aware, joined to that of the warden; that is to say, the
precentor has for many years been the warden of the hospital;
there is, however, nothing to make the junction of the two
offices necessary, and, unless you or the dean and chapter
object to such an arrangement, I would wish to keep the
precentorship. The income of this office will now be necessary to
me; indeed, I do not know why I should be ashamed to say
that I should have difficulty in supporting myself without it.
'Your Lordship, and such others as you may please to
consult on the matter, will at once see that my resignation of the
wardenship need offer not the slightest bar to its occupation
by another person. I am thought in the wrong by all those
whom I have consulted in the matter; I have very little but
an inward and an unguided conviction of my own to bring me
to this step, and I shall, indeed, be hurt to find that any slur
is thrown on the preferment which your kindness bestowed
on me, by my resignation of it. I, at any rate for one, shall
look on any successor whom you may appoint as enjoying a
clerical situation of the highest respectability, and one to
which your Lordship's nomination gives an indefeasible right.
'I cannot finish this official letter without again thanking
your Lordship for all your great kindness, and I beg to
subscribe myself- -Your Lordship's most obedient servant
'Warden of Barchester Hospital,
and Precentor of the Cathedral.'
He then wrote the following private note:
'My DEAR BISHOP,
'I cannot send you the accompanying official letter without
a warmer expression of thanks for all your kindness than would
befit a document which may to a certain degree be made
public. You, I know, will understand the feeling, and, perhaps,
pity the weakness which makes me resign the hospital. I am not
made of calibre strong enough to withstand public attack. Were
I convinced that I stood on ground perfectly firm, that I was
certainly justified in taking eight hundred a year under Hiram's
will, I should feel bound by duty to retain the position, however
unendurable might be the nature of the assault; but, as I do
not feel this conviction, I cannot believe that you will think me
wrong in what I am doing.
'I had at one time an idea of keeping only some moderate
portion of the income; perhaps three hundred a year, and of
remitting the remainder to the trustees; but it occurred to
me, and I think with reason, that by so doing I should place
my successors in an invidious position, and greatly damage
'My dear friend, let me have a line from you to say that you
do not blame me for what I am doing, and that the officiating
vicar of Crabtree Parva will be the same to you as the warden
of the hospital.
'I am very anxious about the precentorship: the archdeacon
thinks it must go with the wardenship; I think not, and, that,
having it, I cannot be ousted. I will, however, be guided
by you and the dean. No other duty will suit me so well,
or come so much within my power of adequate performance.
'I thank you from my heart for the preferment which I am
now giving up, and for all your kindness, and am, dear bishop,
now as always-- Yours most sincerely,
'LONDON, - AUGUST, 18--'
Having written these letters and made a copy of the former
one for the benefit of the archdeacon, Mr Harding, whom we
must now cease to call the warden, he having designated himself
so for the last time, found that it was nearly two o'clock,
and that he must prepare for his journey. Yes, from this time
he never again admitted the name by which he had been so
familiarly known, and in which, to tell the truth, he had
rejoiced. The love of titles is common to all men, and a vicar
or fellow is as pleased at becoming Mr Archdeacon or Mr
Provost, as a lieutenant at getting his captaincy, or a city
tallow-chandler in becoming Sir John on the occasion of a
Queen's visit to a new bridge. But warden he was no longer,
and the name of precentor, though the office was to him so
dear, confers in itself no sufficient distinction; our friend,
therefore, again became Mr Harding.
Mrs Grantly had gone out; he had, therefore, no one to
delay him by further entreaties to postpone his journey; he
had soon arranged his bag, and paid his bill, and, leaving a
note for his daughter, in which he put the copy of his official
letter, he got into a cab and drove away to the station with
something of triumph in his heart.
Had he not cause for triumph? Had he not been supremely
successful? Had he not for the first time in his life held his
own purpose against that of his son-in-law, and manfully combated
against great odds--against the archdeacon's wife as well
as the archdeacon? Had he not gained a great victory, and
was it not fit that he should step into his cab with triumph?
He had not told Eleanor when he would return, but she was
on the look-out for him by every train by which he could
arrive, and the pony-carriage was at the Barchester station
when the train drew up at the platform.
'My dear,' said he, sitting beside her, as she steered her
little vessel to one side of the road to make room for the
clattering omnibus as they passed from the station into the town,
'I hope you'll be able to feel a proper degree of respect for the
vicar of Crabtree.'
'Dear papa,' said she, 'I am so glad.'
There was great comfort in returning home to that pleasant
house, though he was to leave it so soon, and in discussing with
his daughter all that he had done, and all that he had to do.
It must take some time to get out of one house into another;
the curate at Crabtree could not be abolished under six
months, that is, unless other provision could be made for him;
and then the furniture--the most of that must be sold to pay
Sir Abraham Haphazard for sitting up till twelve at night.
Mr Harding was strangely ignorant as to lawyers' bills; he
had no idea, from twenty pounds to two thousand, as to the
sum in which he was indebted for legal assistance. True, he
had called in no lawyer himself; true, he had been no consenting
party to the employment of either Cox and Cummins,
or Sir Abraham; he had never been consulted on such
matters;--the archdeacon had managed all this himself, never
for a moment suspecting that Mr Harding would take upon
him to end the matter in a way of his own. Had the lawyers'
bills been ten thousand pounds, Mr Harding could not have
helped it; but he was not on that account disposed to dispute
his own liability. The question never occurred to him; but it
did occur to him that he had very little money at his banker's,
that he could receive nothing further from the hospital, and
that the sale of the furniture was his only resource.
'Not all, papa,' said Eleanor pleadingly.
'Not quite all, my dear,' said he; 'that is, if we can help it.
We must have a little at Crabtree--but it can only be a little;
we must put a bold front on it, Nelly; it isn't easy to come
down from affluence to poverty.'
And so they planned their future mode of life; the father
taking comfort from the reflection that his daughter would
soon be freed from it, and she resolving that her father would
soon have in her own house a ready means of escape from the
solitude of the Crabtree vicarage.
When the archdeacon left his wife and father-in-law at the
Chapter Coffee House to go to Messrs Cox and Cummins, he
had no very defined idea of what he had to do when he got
there. Gentlemen when at law, or in any way engaged in
matters requiring legal assistance, are very apt to go to their
lawyers without much absolute necessity;--gentlemen when
doing so, are apt to describe such attendance as quite
compulsory, and very disagreeable. The lawyers, on the other
hand, do not at all see the necessity, though they quite agree as
to the disagreeable nature of the visit;--gentlemen when so
engaged are usually somewhat gravelled at finding nothing to
say to their learned friends; they generally talk a little politics,
a little weather, ask some few foolish questions about their suit,
and then withdraw, having passed half an hour in a small
dingy waiting-room, in company with some junior assistant-
clerk, and ten minutes with the members of the firm; the
business is then over for which the gentleman has come up to
London, probably a distance of a hundred and fifty miles.
To be sure he goes to the play, and dines at his friend's club,
and has a bachelor's liberty and bachelor's recreation for three
or four days; and he could not probably plead the desire of such
gratifications as a reason to his wife for a trip to London.
Married ladies, when your husbands find they are positively
obliged to attend their legal advisers, the nature of the duty
to be performed is generally of this description.
The archdeacon would not have dreamt of leaving London
without going to Cox and Cummins; and yet he had nothing
to say to them. The game was up; he plainly saw that Mr
Harding in this matter was not to be moved; his only remaining
business on this head was to pay the bill and have done
with it; and I think it may be taken for granted, that whatever
the cause may be that takes a gentleman to a lawyer's chambers,
he never goes there to pay his bill.
Dr Grantly, however, in the eyes of Messrs Cox and Cummins,
represented the spiritualities of the diocese of Barchester,
as Mr Chadwick did the temporalities, and was, therefore, too
great a man to undergo the half-hour in the clerk's room. It
will not be necessary that we should listen to the notes of
sorrow in which the archdeacon bewailed to Mr Cox the weakness
of his father-in-law, and the end of all their hopes of
triumph; nor need we repeat the various exclamations of
surprise with which the mournful intelligence was received.
No tragedy occurred, though Mr Cox, a short and somewhat
bull-necked man, was very near a fit of apoplexy when he first
attempted to ejaculate that fatal word--resign!
Over and over again did Mr Cox attempt to enforce on the
archdeacon the propriety of urging on Mr Warden the madness
of the deed he was about to do.
'Eight hundred a year!' said Mr Cox.
'And nothing whatever to do!' said Mr Cummins, who had
joined the conference.
'No private fortune, I believe,' said Mr Cox.
'Not a shilling,' said Mr Cummins, in a very low voice,
shaking his head.
'I never heard of such a case in all my experience,' said
'Eight hundred a year, and as nice a house as any gentleman
could wish to hang up his hat in,' said Mr Cummins.
'And an unmarried daughter, I believe,' said Mr Cox, with
much moral seriousness in his tone. The archdeacon only
sighed as each separate wail was uttered, and shook his head,
signifying that the fatuity of some people was past belief.
'I'll tell you what he might do,' said Mr Cummins, brightening
up. 'I'll tell you how you might save it--let him exchange.'
'Exchange where?' said the archdeacon.
'Exchange for a living. There's Quiverful, of Puddingdale
--he has twelve children, and would be delighted to get the
hospital. To be sure Puddingdale is only four hundred, but
that would be saving something out of the fire: Mr Harding
would have a curate, and still keep three hundred or three
hundred and fifty.'
The archdeacon opened his ears and listened; he really
thought the scheme might do.
'The newspapers,' continued Mr Cummins, 'might hammer
away at Quiverful every day for the next six months without
his minding them.'
The archdeacon took up his hat, and returned to his hotel,
thinking the matter over deeply. At any rate he would sound
Quiverful. A man with twelve children would do much to
double his income.
On the morning after Mr Harding's return home he received
a note from the bishop full of affection, condolence,
and praise. 'Pray come to me at once,' wrote the bishop,
'that we may see what had better be done; as to the hospital,
I will not say a word to dissuade you; but I don't like your
going to Crabtree: at any rate, come to me at once.'
Mr Harding did go to him at once; and long and confidential
was the consultation between the two old friends. There
they sat together the whole long day, plotting to get the better
of the archdeacon, and to carry out little schemes of their own,
which they knew would be opposed by the whole weight of
The bishop's first idea was, that Mr Harding, if left to himself,
would certainly starve--not in the figurative sense in which
so many of our ladies and gentlemen do starve on incomes from
one to five hundred a year; not that he would be starved as
regarded dress coats, port wine, and pocket-money; but that he
would positively perish of inanition for want of bread.
'How is a man to live, when he gives up all his income?'
said the bishop to himself. And then the good-natured little
man began to consider how his friend might be best rescued
from a death so horrid and painful.
His first proposition to Mr Harding was, that they should
live together at the palace. He, the bishop, positively assured
Mr Harding that he wanted another resident chaplain--not
a young working chaplain, but a steady, middle-aged chaplain;
one who would dine and drink a glass of wine with him,
talk about the archdeacon, and poke the fire. The bishop did
not positively name all these duties, but he gave Mr Harding to
understand that such would be the nature of the service required.
It was not without much difficulty that Mr Harding made
his friend see that this would not suit him; that he could not
throw up the bishop's preferment, and then come and hang
on at the bishop's table; that he could not allow people to
say of him that it was an easy matter to abandon his own
income, as he was able to sponge on that of another person.
He succeeded, however, in explaining that the plan would not
do, and then the bishop brought forward another which he
had in his sleeve. He, the bishop, had in his will left certain
moneys to Mr Harding's two daughters, imagining that Mr
Harding would himself want no such assistance during his own
lifetime. This legacy amounted to three thousand pounds
each, duty free; and he now pressed it as a gift on his friend.
'The girls, you know,' said he, 'will have it just the same
when you're gone--and they won't want it sooner--and as for
the interest during my lifetime, it isn't worth talking about.
I have more than enough.'
With much difficulty and heartfelt sorrow, Mr Harding
refused also this offer. No; his wish was to support himself,
however poorly--not to be supported on the charity of anyone.
It was hard to make the bishop understand this; it was
hard to make him comprehend that the only real favour he
could confer was the continuation of his independent friendship;
but at last even this was done. At any rate, thought the
bishop, he will come and dine with me from time to time, and
if he be absolutely starving I shall see it.
Touching the precentorship, the bishop was clearly of
opinion that it could be held without the other situation--an
opinion from which no one differed; and it was therefore soon
settled among all the parties concerned, that Mr Harding
should still be the precentor of the cathedral.
On the day following Mr Harding's return, the archdeacon
reached Plumstead full of Mr Cummins's scheme regarding
Puddingdale and Mr Quiverful. On the very next morning
he drove over to Puddingdale, and obtained the full consent of
the wretched clerical Priam, who was endeavouring to feed his
poor Hecuba and a dozen of Hectors on the small proceeds of his
ecclesiastical kingdom. Mr Quiverful had no doubts as to the
legal rights of the warden; his conscience would be quite clear
as to accepting the income; and as to The Jupiter, he begged
to assure the archdeacon that he was quite indifferent to any
emanations from the profane portion of the periodical press.
Having so far succeeded, he next sounded the bishop; but
here he was astonished by most unexpected resistance. The
bishop did not think it would do. 'Not do, why not?' and
seeing that his father was not shaken, he repeated the question
in a severer form: 'Why not do, my lord?'
His lordship looked very unhappy, and shuffled about in
his chair, but still didn't give way; he thought Puddingdale
wouldn't do for Mr Harding; it was too far from Barchester.
'Oh! of course he'll have a curate.'
The bishop also thought that Mr Quiverful wouldn't do for
the hospital; such an exchange wouldn't look well at such a
time; and, when pressed harder, he declared he didn't think
Mr Harding would accept of Puddingdale under any circumstances.
'How is he to live?' demanded the archdeacon.
The bishop, with tears in his eyes, declared that he had not
the slightest conception how life was to be sustained within
him at all.
The archdeacon then left his father, and went down to the
hospital; but Mr Harding wouldn't listen at all to the Puddingdale
scheme. To his eyes it had no attraction; it savoured of simony,
and was likely to bring down upon him harder and more deserved
strictures than any he had yet received: he positively declined to
become vicar of Puddingdale under any circumstances.
The archdeacon waxed wroth, talked big, and looked
bigger; he said something about dependence and beggary,
spoke of the duty every man was under to earn his bread,
made passing allusions to the follies of youth and waywardness
of age, as though Mr Harding were afflicted by both, and
ended by declaring that he had done. He felt that he had left
no stone unturned to arrange matters on the best and easiest
footing; that he had, in fact, so arranged them, that he had so
managed that there was no further need of any anxiety in the
matter. And how had he been paid? His advice had been
systematically rejected; he had been not only slighted, but
distrusted and avoided; he and his measures had been utterly
thrown over, as had been Sir Abraham, who, he had reason to
know, was much pained at what had occurred. He now found
it was useless to interfere any further, and he should retire. If
any further assistance were required from him, he would probably
be called on, and should be again happy to come forward.
And so he left the hospital, and has not since entered it from
that day to this.
And here we must take leave of Archdeacon Grantly. We
fear that he is represented in these pages as being worse than
he is; but we have had to do with his foibles, and not with his
virtues. We have seen only the weak side of the man, and
have lacked the opportunity of bringing him forward on his
strong ground. That he is a man somewhat too fond of his
own way, and not sufficiently scrupulous in his manner of
achieving it, his best friends cannot deny. That he is bigoted
in favour, not so much of his doctrines as of his cloth, is also
true: and it is true that the possession of a large income is a
desire that sits near his heart. Nevertheless, the archdeacon is
a gentleman and a man of conscience; he spends his money
liberally, and does the work he has to do with the best of his
ability; he improves the tone of society of those among whom
he lives. His aspirations are of a healthy, if not of the highest,
kind. Though never an austere man, he upholds propriety
of conduct both by example and precept. He is generous to
the poor, and hospitable to the rich; in matters of religion he
is sincere, and yet no Pharisee; he is in earnest, and yet no
fanatic. On the whole, the Archdeacon of Barchester is a man
doing more good than harm--a man to be furthered and
supported, though perhaps also to be controlled; and it is
matter of regret to us that the course of our narrative has
required that we should see more of his weakness than his strength.
Mr Harding allowed himself no rest till everything was
prepared for his departure from the hospital. It may be as
well to mention that he was not driven to the stern necessity of
selling all his furniture: he had been quite in earnest in his
intention to do so, but it was soon made known to him that
the claims of Messrs Cox and Cummins made no such step
obligatory. The archdeacon had thought it wise to make use
of the threat of the lawyer's bill, to frighten his father-in-law
into compliance; but he had no intention to saddle Mr Harding
with costs, which had been incurred by no means exclusively
for his benefit. The amount of the bill was added to the
diocesan account, and was, in fact, paid out of the bishop's
pocket, without any consciousness on the part of his lordship.
A great part of his furniture he did resolve to sell, having no
other means to dispose of it; and the ponies and carriage were
transferred, by private contract, to the use of an old maiden
lady in the city.
For his present use Mr Harding took a lodging in Barchester,
and thither were conveyed such articles as he wanted for daily
use--his music, books, and instruments, his own arm-chair,
and Eleanor's pet sofa; her teapoy and his cellaret, and also
the slender but still sufficient contents of his wine-cellar. Mrs
Grantly had much wished that her sister would reside at
Plumstead, till her father's house at Crabtree should be ready
for her; but Eleanor herself strongly resisted this proposal. It
was in vain urged upon her, that a lady in lodgings cost more than
a gentleman; and that, under her father's present circumstances,
such an expense should be avoided. Eleanor had not pressed
her father to give up the hospital in order that she might
live at Plumstead Rectory and he alone in his Barchester
lodgings; nor did Eleanor think that she would be treating a
certain gentleman very fairly, if she betook herself to the house
which he would be the least desirous of entering of any in the
county. So she got a little bedroom for herself behind the
sitting-room, and just over the little back parlour of the
chemist, with whom they were to lodge. There was somewhat
of a savour of senna softened by peppermint about the place;
but, on the whole, the lodgings were clean and comfortable.
The day had been fixed for the migration of the ex-warden,
and all Barchester were in a state of excitement on the subject.
Opinion was much divided as to the propriety of Mr Harding's
conduct. The mercantile part of the community, the mayor
and corporation, and council, also most of the ladies, were
loud in his praise. Nothing could be more noble, nothing more
generous, nothing more upright. But the gentry were of a
different way of thinking--especially the lawyers and the
clergymen. They said such conduct was very weak and undignified;
that Mr Harding evinced a lamentable want of esprit de corps,
as well as courage; and that such an abdication must do much
harm, and could do but little good.
On the evening before he left, he summoned all the bedesmen
into his parlour to wish them good-bye. With Bunce he had
been in frequent communication since his return from London,
and had been at much pains to explain to the old man the
cause of his resignation, without in any way prejudicing
the position of his successor. The others, also, he had seen
more or less frequently; and had heard from most of them
separately some expression of regret at his departure; but he
had postponed his farewell till the last evening.
He now bade the maid put wine and glasses on the table;
and had the chairs arranged around the room; and sent Bunce to
each of the men to request they would come and say farewell to
their late warden. Soon the noise of aged scuffling feet was
heard upon the gravel and in the little hall, and the eleven men
who were enabled to leave their rooms were assembled.
'Come in, my friends, come in,' said the warden--he was
still warden then. 'Come in, and sit down'; and he took the
hand of Abel Handy, who was the nearest to him, and led the
limping grumbler to a chair. The others followed slowly and
bashfully; the infirm, the lame, and the blind: poor wretches!
who had been so happy, had they but known it! Now their
aged faces were covered with shame, and every kind word
from their master was a coal of fire burning on their heads.
When first the news had reached them that Mr Harding
was going to leave the hospital, it had been received with a
kind of triumph--his departure was, as it were, a prelude to
success. He had admitted his want of right to the money
about which they were disputing; and as it did not belong to
him, of course, it did to them. The one hundred a year to
each of them was actually becoming a reality; and Abel
Handy was a hero, and Bunce a faint-hearted sycophant,
worthy neither honour nor fellowship. But other tidings soon
made their way into the old men's rooms. It was first notified
to them that the income abandoned by Mr Harding would not
come to them; and these accounts were confirmed by attorney
Finney. They were then informed that Mr Harding's place
would be at once filled by another. That the new warden
could not be a kinder man they all knew; that he would be a
less friendly one most suspected; and then came the bitter
information that, from the moment of Mr Harding's departure,
the twopence a day, his own peculiar gift, must of necessity
And this was to be the end of all their mighty struggle--of
their fight for their rights--of their petition, and their debates,
and their hopes! They were to change the best of masters
for a possible bad one, and to lose twopence a day each man!
No; unfortunate as this was, it was not the worst, or nearly
the worst, as will just now be seen.
'Sit down, sit down, my friends,' said the warden; 'I want
to say a word to you and to drink your healths, before I leave
you. Come up here, Moody, here is a chair for you; come,
Jonathan Crumple'--and by degrees he got the men to be
seated. It was not surprising that they should hang back with
faint hearts, having returned so much kindness with such deep
ingratitude. Last of all of them came Bunce, and with sorrowful mien
and slow step got into his accustomed seat near the fire-place.
When they were all in their places, Mr Harding rose to
address them; and then finding himself not quite at home on
his legs, he sat down again. 'My dear old friends,' said he,
'you all know that I am going to leave you.'
There was a sort of murmur ran round the room, intended,
perhaps, to express regret at his departure; but it was but a
murmur, and might have meant that or anything else.
'There has been lately some misunderstanding between us.
You have thought, I believe, that you did not get all that you
were entitled to, and that the funds of the hospital have not
been properly disposed of. As for me, I cannot say what
should be the disposition of these moneys, or how they should
be managed, and I have therefore thought it best to go.'
'We never wanted to drive your reverence out of it,' said Handy.
'No, indeed, your reverence,' said Skulpit. 'We never
thought it would come to this. When I signed the petition--
that is I didn't sign it, because--'
'Let his reverence speak, can't you?' said Moody.
'No,' continued Mr Harding; 'I am sure you did not wish
to turn me out; but I thought it best to leave you. I am not
a very good hand at a lawsuit, as you may all guess; and when
it seemed necessary that our ordinary quiet mode of living
should be disturbed, I thought it better to go. I am neither
angry nor offended with any man in the hospital.'
Here Bunce uttered a kind of groan, very clearly expressive
'I am neither angry nor displeased with any man in the
hospital,' repeated Mr Harding, emphatically. 'If any man
has been wrong--and I don't say any man has--he has erred
through wrong advice. In this country all are entitled to look
for their own rights, and you have done no more. As long as
your interests and my interests were at variance, I could give
you no counsel on this subject; but the connection between
us has ceased; my income can no longer depend on your
doings, and therefore, as I leave you, I venture to offer to you
The men all declared that they would from henceforth be
entirely guided by Mr Harding's opinion in their affairs.
'Some gentleman will probably take my place here very
soon, and I strongly advise you to be prepared to receive him in
a kindly spirit and to raise no further question among yourselves
as to the amount of his income. Were you to succeed
in lessening what he has to receive, you would not increase
your own allowance. The surplus would not go to you; your
wants are adequately provided for, and your position could
hardly be improved.'
'God bless your reverence, we knows it,' said Spriggs.
'It's all true, your reverence,' said Skulpit. 'We sees it all now.'
'Yes, Mr Harding,' said Bunce, opening his mouth for the
first time; 'I believe they do understand it now, now that
they've driven from under the same roof with them such a
master as not one of them will ever know again--now that
they're like to be in sore want of a friend.'
'Come, come, Bunce,' said Mr Harding, blowing his nose
and manoeuvring to wipe his eyes at the same time.
'Oh, as to that,' said Handy, 'we none of us never wanted
to do Mr Harding no harm; if he's going now, it's not along
of us; and I don't see for what Mr Bunce speaks up agen us
'You've ruined yourselves, and you've ruined me too, and
that's why,' said Bunce.
'Nonsense, Bunce,' said Mr Harding; 'there's nobody
ruined at all. I hope you'll let me leave you all friends, I hope
you'll all drink a glass of wine in friendly feeling with me and
with one another. You'll have a good friend, I don't doubt,
in your new warden; and if ever you want any other, why
after all I'm not going so far off but that I shall sometimes see
you'; and then, having finished his speech, Mr Harding filled
all the glasses, and himself handed each a glass to the men
round him, and raising his own said:
'God bless you all! you have my heartfelt wishes for your
welfare. I hope you may live contented, and die trusting in
the Lord jesus Christ, and thankful to Almighty God For the
good things he has given you. God bless you, my friends!'
and Mr Harding drank his wine.
Another murmur, somewhat more articulate than the first,
passed round the circle, and this time it was intended to imply
a blessing on Mr Harding. It had, however, but little cordiality
in it. Poor old men! how could they be cordial with their
sore consciences and shamed faces? how could they bid God
bless him with hearty voices and a true benison, knowing, as
they did, that their vile cabal had driven him from his happy
home, and sent him in his old age to seek shelter under a
strange roof-tree? They did their best, however; they drank
their wine, and withdrew.
As they left the hall-door, Mr Harding shook hands with
each of the men, and spoke a kind word to them about their
individual cases and ailments; and so they departed, answering
his questions in the fewest words, and retreated to their
dens, a sorrowful repentant crew.
All but Bunce, who still remained to make his own farewell.
'There's poor old Bell,' said Mr Harding; 'I mustn't go
without saying a word to him; come through with me, Bunce,
and bring the wine with you'; and so they went through to
the men's cottages, and found the old man propped up as usual
in his bed.
'I've come to say good-bye to you, Bell,' said Mr Harding,
speaking loud, for the old man was deaf.
'And are you going away, then, really?' asked Bell.
'Indeed I am, and I've brought you a glass of wine; so that
we may part friends, as we lived, you know.'
The old man took the proffered glass in his shaking hands,
and drank it eagerly. 'God bless you, Bell!' said Mr
Harding; 'good-bye, my old friend.'
'And so you're really going?' the man again asked.
'Indeed I am, Bell.'
The poor old bed-ridden creature still kept Mr Harding's
hand in his own, and the warden thought that he had met
with something like warmth of feeling in the one of all his
subjects from whom it was the least likely to be expected; for
poor old Bell had nearly outlived all human feelings. 'And
your reverence,' said he, and then he paused, while his old
palsied head shook horribly, and his shrivelled cheeks sank
lower within his jaws, and his glazy eye gleamed with a
momentary light; 'and your reverence, shall we get the
hundred a year, then?'
How gently did Mr Harding try to extinguish the false hope
of money which had been so wretchedly raised to disturb the
quiet of the dying man! One other week and his mortal coil
would be shuffled off; in one short week would God resume
his soul, and set it apart for its irrevocable doom; seven more
tedious days and nights of senseless inactivity, and all would
be over for poor Bell in this world; and yet, with his last
audible words, he was demanding his moneyed rights, and
asserting himself to be the proper heir of John Hiram's bounty!
Not on him, poor sinner as he was, be the load of such sin!
Mr Harding returned to his parlour, meditating with a sick
heart on what he had seen, and Bunce with him. We will not
describe the parting of these two good men, for good men they
were. It was in vain that the late warden endeavoured to
comfort the heart of the old bedesman; poor old Bunce felt
that his days of comfort were gone. The hospital had to him
been a happy home, but it could be so no longer. He had
had honour there, and friendship; he had recognised his
master, and been recognised; all his wants, both of soul and
body, had been supplied, and he had been a happy man. He
wept grievously as he parted from his friend, and the tears of
an old man are bitter. 'It is all over for me in this world,'
said he, as he gave the last squeeze to Mr Harding's hand;
'I have now to forgive those who have injured me--and to die.'
And so the old man went out, and then Mr Harding gave
way to his grief and he too wept aloud.
Our tale is now done, and it only remains to us to collect
the scattered threads of our little story, and to tie them
into a seemly knot. This will not be a work of labour, either
to the author or to his readers; we have not to deal with many
personages, or with stirring events, and were it not for the custom
of the thing, we might leave it to the imagination of all concerned
to conceive how affairs at Barchester arranged themselves.
On the morning after the day last alluded to, Mr Harding,
at an early hour, walked out of the hospital, with his daughter
under his arm, and sat down quietly to breakfast at his lodgings
over the chemist's shop. There was no parade about his
departure; no one, not even Bunce, was there to witness it;
had he walked to the apothecary's thus early to get a piece of
court plaster, or a box of lozenges, he could not have done it
with less appearance of an important movement. There was
a tear in Eleanor's eye as she passed through the big gateway
and over the bridge; but Mr Harding walked with an elastic
step, and entered his new abode with a pleasant face.
'Now, my dear,' said he, 'you have everything ready, and
you can make tea here just as nicely as in the parlour at the
hospital.' So Eleanor took off her bonnet and made the tea.
After this manner did the late Warden of Barchester Hospital
accomplish his flitting, and change his residence.
It was not long before the archdeacon brought his father
to discuss the subject of a new warden. Of course he looked
upon the nomination as his own, and he had in his eye three
or four fitting candidates, seeing that Mr Cummins's plan as
to the living of Puddingdale could not be brought to bear.
How can I describe the astonishment which confounded him,
when his father declared that he would appoint no successor
to Mr Harding? 'If we can get the matter set to rights, Mr
Harding will return,' said the bishop; 'and if we cannot, it will
be wrong to put any other gentleman into so cruel a position.'
It was in vain that the archdeacon argued and lectured,
and even threatened; in vain he my-lorded his poor father in
his sternest manner; in vain his 'good heavens!' were ejaculated
in a tone that might have moved a whole synod, let alone
one weak and aged bishop. Nothing could induce his father
to fill up the vacancy caused by Mr Harding's retirement.
Even John Bold would have pitied the feelings with which
the archdeacon returned to Plumstead: the church was
falling, nay, already in ruins; its dignitaries were yielding
without a struggle before the blows of its antagonists; and
one of its most respected bishops, his own father--the man
considered by all the world as being in such matters under
his, Dr Grantly's, control--had positively resolved to capitulate,
and own himself vanquished!
And how fared the hospital under this resolve of its visitor?
Badly indeed. It is now some years since Mr Harding left it,
and the warden's house is still tenantless. Old Bell has died,
and Billy Gazy; the one-eyed Spriggs has drunk himself to
death, and three others of the twelve have been gathered into
the churchyard mould. Six have gone, and the six vacancies
remain unfilled! Yes, six have died, with no kind friend to
solace their last moments, with no wealthy neighbour to
administer comforts and ease the stings of death. Mr Harding,
indeed, did not desert them; from him they had such consolation
as a dying man may receive from his Christian pastor; but
it was the occasional kindness of a stranger which ministered
to them, and not the constant presence of a master, a
neighbour, and a friend.
Nor were those who remained better off than those who
died. Dissensions rose among them, and contests for pre-
eminence; and then they began to understand that soon one
among them would be the last--some one wretched being
would be alone there in that now comfortless hospital--the
miserable relic of what had once been so good and so comfortable.
The building of the hospital itself has not been allowed to
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