Part 11 out of 11
little or nothing to each other, till at last the master of the
house, tiding that he could no longer bear his present state of
suspense respecting his favourite young steed, made an elaborate
apology to Mrs. Bold and escaped. As he shut the door behind him
Eleanor almost wished that he had remained. It was not that she was
afraid of Mr. Arabin, but she hardly yet knew how to address him.
He, however, soon relieved her from her embarrassment. He came up to
her, and taking both her hands in his, he said, "So, Eleanor, you and
I are to be man and wife. Is it so.?"
She looked up into his face, and her lips formed themselves into a
single syllable. She uttered no sound, but he could read the
affirmative plainly in her face.
"It is a great trust," said he, "a very great trust."
"It is--it is," said Eleanor, not exactly taking what he had said in
the sense that he had meant. "It is a very, very great trust, and I
will do my utmost to deserve it."
"And I also will do my utmost to deserve it," said Mr. Arabin very
solemnly. And then, winding his arm round her waist, he stood there
gazing at the fire, and she, with her head leaning on his shoulder,
stood by him, well satisfied with her position. They neither of them
spoke, or found any want of speaking. All that was needful for them
to say had been said. The yea, yea, had been spoken by Eleanor in
her own way--and that way had been perfectly satisfactory to Mr.
And now it remained to them each to enjoy the assurance of the
other's love. And how great that luxury is! How far it surpasses
any other pleasure which God has allowed to his creatures! And to a
woman's heart how doubly delightful!
When the ivy has found its tower, when the delicate creeper has found
its strong wall, we know how the parasite plants grow and prosper.
They were not created to stretch forth their branches alone and
endure without protection the summer's sun and the winter's storm.
Alone they but spread themselves on the ground and cower unseen in
the dingy shade. But when they have found their firm supporters, how
wonderful is their beauty; how all-pervading and victorious! What is
the turret without its ivy, or the high garden wall without the
jasmine which gives it its beauty and fragrance? The hedge without
the honeysuckle is but a hedge.
There is a feeling still half-existing, but now half-conquered by the
force of human nature, that a woman should be ashamed of her love
till the husband's right to her compels her to acknowledge it. We
would fain preach a different doctrine. A woman should glory in her
love, but on that account let her take the more care that it be such
as to justify her glory.
Eleanor did glory in hers, and she felt, and had cause to feel, that
it deserved to be held as glorious. She could have stood there for
hours with his arm round her, had fate and Mr. Thorne permitted it.
Each moment she crept nearer to his bosom and felt more and more
certain that there was her home. What now to her was the
archdeacon's arrogance, her sister's coldness, or her dear father's
weakness? What need she care for the duplicity of such friends as
Charlotte Stanhope? She had found the strong shield that should
guard her from all wrongs, the trusty pilot that should henceforward
guide her through the shoals and rocks. She would give up the heavy
burden of her independence and once more assume the position of a
woman and the duties of a trusting and loving wife.
And he, too, stood there fully satisfied with his place. They were
both looking intently on the fire, as though they could read there
their future fate, till at last Eleanor turned her face towards his.
"How sad you are," she said, smiling; and indeed his face was, if not
sad, at least serious. "How sad you are, love!"
"Sad," said he, looking down at her; "no, certainly not sad." Her
sweet, loving eyes were turned towards him, and she smiled softly as
he answered her. The temptation was too strong even for the demure
propriety of Mr. Arabin, and bending over her, he pressed his lips to
Immediately after this Mr. Thorne appeared, and they were both
delighted to hear that the tail of the Beelzebub colt was not
It had been Mr. Harding's intention to hurry over to Ullathorne as
soon as possible after his return to Barchester, in order to secure
the support of his daughter in his meditated revolt against the
archdeacon as touching the deanery; but he was spared the additional
journey by hearing that Mrs. Bold had returned unexpectedly home. As
soon as he had read her note he started off, and found her waiting
for him in her own house.
How much each of them had to tell the other, and how certain each was
that the story which he or she had to tell would astonish the other!
"My dear, I am so anxious to see you," said Mr. Harding, kissing his
"Oh, Papa, I have so much to tell you!" said the daughter, returning
"My dear, they have offered me the deanery!" said Mr. Harding,
anticipating by the suddenness of the revelation the tidings which
Eleanor had to give him.
"Oh, Papa," said she, forgetting her own love and happiness in her
joy at the surprising news. "Oh, Papa, can it be possible? Dear
Papa, how thoroughly, thoroughly happy that makes me!"
"But, my dear, I think it best to refuse it."
"I am sure you will agree with me, Eleanor, when I explain it to you.
You know, my dear, how old I am. If I live I--"
"But, Papa, I must tell you about myself."
'Well, my dear."
"I do so wonder how you'll take it."
"If you don't rejoice at it, if it doesn't make you happy, if you
don't encourage me, I shall break my heart."
"If that be the case, Nelly, I certainly will encourage you."
"But I fear you won't. I do so fear you won't. And yet you can't
but think I am the most fortunate woman living on God's earth."
"Are you, dearest? Then I certainly will rejoice with you. Come,
Nelly, come to me and tell me what it is."
"I am going--"
He led her to the sofa and, seating himself beside her, took both her
hands in his. "You are going to be married, Nelly. Is not that it?"
"Yes," she said faintly. "That is, if you will approve;" and then
she blushed as she remembered the promise which she had so lately
volunteered to him and which she had so utterly forgotten in making
her engagement with Mr. Arabin.
Mr. Harding thought for a moment who the man could be whom he was to
be called upon to welcome as his son-in-law. A week since he would
have had no doubt whom to name. In that case he would have been
prepared to give his sanction, although he would have done so with a
heavy heart. Now he knew that at any rate it would not be Mr. Slope,
though he was perfectly at a loss to guess who could possibly have
filled the place. For a moment he thought that the man might be
Bertie Stanhope, and his very soul sank within him.
"Oh, Papa, promise to me that, for my sake, you will love him."
"Come, Nelly, come; tell me who it is."
"But will you love him, Papa?"
"Dearest, I must love anyone that you love." Then she turned her
face to his and whispered into his ear the name of Mr. Arabin.
No man that she could have named could have more surprised or more
delighted him. Had he looked round the world for a son-in-law to his
taste, he could have selected no one whom he would have preferred to
Mr. Arabin. He was a clergyman; he held a living in the
neighbourhood; he was of a set to which all Mr. Harding's own
partialities most closely adhered; he was the great friend of Dr.
Grantly; and he was, moreover, a man of whom Mr. Harding knew nothing
but what he approved. Nevertheless, his surprise was so great as to
prevent the immediate expression of his joy. He had never thought of
Mr. Arabin in connexion with his daughter; he had never imagined that
they had any feeling in common. He had feared that his daughter had
been made hostile to clergymen of Mr. Arabin's stamp by her
intolerance of the archdeacon's pretensions. Had he been put to
wish, he might have wished for Mr. Arabin for a son-in-law; but had
he been put to guess, the name would never have occurred to him.
"Mr. Arabin!" he exclaimed; "impossible!"
"Oh, Papa, for heaven's sake don't say anything against him! If you
love me, don't say anything against him. Oh, Papa, it's done and
mustn't be undone--oh, Papa!"
Fickle Eleanor! Where was the promise that she would make no choice
for herself without her father's approval? She had chosen, and now
demanded his acquiescence. "Oh, Papa, isn't he good? Isn't he
noble? Isn't he religious, high-minded, everything that a good man
possibly can be?" She clung to her father, beseeching him for his
"My Nelly, my child, my own daughter! He is; he is noble and good
and high-minded; he is all that a woman can love and a man admire.
He shall be my son, my own son. He shall be as close to my heart as
you are. My Nelly, my child, my happy, happy child!"
We need not pursue the interview any further. By degrees they
returned to the subject of the new promotion. Eleanor tried to prove
to him, as the Grantlys had done, that his age could be no bar to his
being a very excellent dean, but those arguments had now even less
weight on him than before. He said little or nothing but sat,
meditative. Every now and then he would kiss his daughter and say
"yes," or "no," or "very true," or "well, my dear, I can't quite
agree with you there," but he could not be got to enter sharply into
the question of "to be, or not to be" Dean of Barchester. Of her and
her happiness, of Mr. Arabin and his virtues, he would talk as much
as Eleanor desired--and to tell the truth, that was not a little--but
about the deanery he would now say nothing further. He had got a new
idea into his head--why should not Mr. Arabin be the new dean?
The Archdeacon is Satisfied with the State of Affairs
The archdeacon, in his journey into Barchester, had been assured by
Mr. Harding that all their prognostications about Mr. Slope and
Eleanor were groundless. Mr. Harding, however, had found it very
difficult to shake his son-in-law's faith in his own acuteness. The
matter had, to Dr. Grantly, been so plainly corroborated by such
patent evidence, borne out by such endless circumstances, that he at
first refused to take as true the positive statement which Mr.
Harding made to him of Eleanor's own disavowal of the impeachment.
But at last he yielded in a qualified way. He brought himself to
admit that he would at the present regard his past convictions as a
mistake, but in doing this he so guarded himself that if, at any
future time, Eleanor should come forth to the world as Mrs. Slope, he
might still be able to say: "There, I told you so. Remember what you
said and what I said; and remember also for coming years, that I was
right in this matter--as in all others."
He carried, however, his concession so far as to bring himself to
undertake to call at Eleanor's house, and he did call accordingly,
while the father and daughter were yet in the middle of their
conference. Mr. Harding had had so much to hear and to say that he
had forgotten to advise Eleanor of the honour that awaited her, and
she heard her brother-in-law's voice in the hall while she was quite
unprepared to see him.
"There's the archdeacon," she said, springing up.
"Yes, my dear. He told me to tell you that he would come and see
you, but to tell the truth I had forgotten all about it."
Eleanor fled away, regardless of all her father's entreaties. She
could not now, in the first hours of her joy, bring herself to bear
all the archdeacon's retractions, apologies, and congratulations. He
would have so much to say and would be so tedious in saying it;
consequently, the archdeacon, when he was shown into the drawing-
room, found no one there but Mr. Harding.
"You must excuse Eleanor," said Mr. Harding.
"Is anything the matter?" asked the doctor, who at once anticipated
that the whole truth about Mr. Slope had at last come out.
"Well, something is the matter. I wonder now whether you will be
The archdeacon saw by his father-in-law's manner that after all he
had nothing to tell him about Mr. Slope. "No," said he, "certainly
not--nothing will ever surprise me again." Very many men now-a-days
besides the archdeacon adopt or affect to adopt the nil admirari
doctrine; but nevertheless, to judge from their appearance, they are
just as subject to sudden emotions as their grandfathers and
grandmothers were before them.
"What do you think Mr. Arabin has done?"
"Mr. Arabin! It's nothing about that daughter of Stanhope's, I
"No, not that woman," said Mr. Harding, enjoying his joke in his
"Not that woman! Is he going to do anything about any woman? Why
can't you speak out, if you have anything to say? There is nothing I
hate so much as these sort of mysteries."
"There shall be no mystery with you, Archdeacon, though of course it
must go no further at present."
"Except Susan. You must promise me you'll tell no one else."
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the archdeacon, who was becoming angry in his
suspense. "You can't have any secret about Mr. Arabin."
"Only this--that he and Eleanor are engaged."
It was quite clear to see, by the archdeacon's face, that he did not
believe a word of it. "Mr. Arabin! It's impossible!"
"Eleanor, at any rate, has just now told me so."
"It's impossible," repeated the archdeacon.
"Well, I can't say I think it impossible. It certainly took me by
surprise, but that does not make it impossible."
"She must be mistaken."
Mr. Harding assured him that there was no mistake; that he would
find, on returning home, that Mr. Arabin had been at Plumstead with
the express object of making the same declaration; that even Miss
Thorne knew all about it; and that, in fact, the thing was as clearly
settled as any such arrangement between a lady and a gentleman could
"Good heavens!" said the archdeacon, walking up and down Eleanor's
drawing-room. "Good heavens! Good heavens!"
Now these exclamations certainly betokened faith. Mr. Harding
properly gathered from it that, at last, Dr. Grantly did believe the
fact. The first utterance clearly evinced a certain amount of
distaste at the information he had received; the second simply
indicated surprise; in the tone of the third Mr. Harding fancied that
he could catch a certain gleam of satisfaction.
The archdeacon had truly expressed the workings of his mind. He
could not but be disgusted to find how utterly astray he had been in
all his anticipations. Had he only been lucky enough to have
suggested this marriage himself when he first brought Mr. Arabin into
the country, his character for judgement and wisdom would have
received an addition which would have classed him at any rate next to
Solomon. And why had he not done so? Might he not have foreseen
that Mr. Arabin would want a wife in his parsonage? He had foreseen
that Eleanor would want a husband, but should he not also have
perceived that Mr. Arabin was a man much more likely to attract her
than Mr. Slope? The archdeacon found that he had been at fault and,
of course, could not immediately get over his discomfiture.
Then his surprise was intense. How sly this pair of young turtle-
doves had been with him. How egregiously they had hoaxed him. He
had preached to Eleanor against her fancied attachment to Mr. Slope
at the very time that she was in love with his own protégé, Mr.
Arabin, and had absolutely taken that same Mr. Arabin into his
confidence with reference to his dread of Mr. Slope's alliance. It
was very natural that the archdeacon should feel surprise.
But there was also great ground for satisfaction. Looking at the
match by itself, it was the very thing to help the doctor out of his
difficulties. In the first place, the assurance that he should never
have Mr. Slope for his brother-in-law was in itself a great comfort.
Then Mr. Arabin was, of all men, the one with whom it would best suit
him to be so intimately connected. But the crowning comfort was the
blow which this marriage would give to Mr. Slope. He had now
certainly lost his wife; rumour was beginning to whisper that he
might possibly lose his position in the palace; and if Mr. Harding
would only be true, the great danger of all would be surmounted. In
such case it might be expected that Mr. Slope would own himself
vanquished and take himself altogether away from Barchester. And so
the archdeacon would again be able to breathe pure air.
"Well, well," said he. "Good heavens! Good heavens!" and the tone
of the fifth exclamation made Mr. Harding fully aware that content
was reigning in the archdeacon's bosom.
And then slowly, gradually, and craftily Mr. Harding propounded his
own new scheme. Why should not Mr. Arabin be the new dean?
Slowly, gradually, and thoughtfully Dr. Grantly fell into his father-
in-law's views. Much as he liked Mr. Arabin, sincere as was his
admiration for that gentleman's ecclesiastical abilities, he would
not have sanctioned a measure which would rob his father-in-law of
his fairly earned promotion, were it at all practicable to induce his
father-in-law to accept the promotion which he had earned. But the
archdeacon had, on a former occasion, received proof of the obstinacy
with which Mr. Harding could adhere to his own views in opposition to
the advice of all his friends. He knew tolerably well that nothing
would induce the meek, mild man before him to take the high place
offered to him, if he thought it wrong to do so. Knowing this, he
also said to himself more than once: "Why should not Mr. Arabin be
Dean of Barchester?" It was at last arranged between them that they
would together start to London by the earliest train on the following
morning, making a little detour to Oxford on their journey. Dr.
Gwynne's counsels, they imagined, might perhaps be of assistance to
These matters settled, the archdeacon hurried off, that he might
return to Plumstead and prepare for his journey. The day was
extremely fine, and he came into the city in an open gig. As he was
driving up the High Street he encountered Mr. Slope at a crossing.
Had he not pulled up rather sharply, he would have run over him. The
two had never spoken to each other since they had met on a memorable
occasion in the bishop's study. They did not speak now, but they
looked each other full in the face, and Mr. Slope's countenance was
as impudent, as triumphant, as defiant as ever. Had Dr. Grantly not
known to the contrary, he would have imagined that his enemy had won
the deanship, the wife, and all the rich honours for which he had
been striving. As it was, he had lost everything that he had in the
world and had just received his congé from the bishop.
In leaving the town the archdeacon drove by the well-remembered
entrance of Hiram's Hospital. There, at the gate, was a large,
untidy farmer's wagon, laden with untidy-looking furniture; and
there, inspecting the arrival, was good Mrs. Quiverful--not dressed
in her Sunday best, not very clean in her apparel, not graceful as to
her bonnet and shawl, or, indeed, with many feminine charms as to her
whole appearance. She was busy at domestic work in her new house,
and had just ventured out, expecting to see no one on the arrival of
the family chattels. The archdeacon was down upon her before she
knew where she was.
Her acquaintance with Dr. Grantly or his family was very slight
indeed. The archdeacon, as a matter of course, knew every clergyman
in the archdeaconry--it may almost be said in the diocese--and had
some acquaintance, more or less intimate, with their wives and
families. With Mr. Quiverful he had been concerned on various
matters of business, but of Mrs. Q. he had seen very little. Now,
however, he was in too gracious a mood to pass her by unnoticed. The
Quiverfuls, one and all, had looked for the bitterest hostility from
Dr. Grantly; they knew his anxiety that Mr. Harding should return to
his old home at the hospital, and they did not know that a new home
had been offered to him at the deanery. Mrs. Quiverful was therefore
not a little surprised, and not a little rejoiced also, at the tone
in which she was addressed.
"How do you do, Mrs. Quiverful, how do you do?" said he, stretching
his left hand out of the gig as he spoke to her. "I am very glad to
see you employed in so pleasant and useful a manner; very glad
Mrs. Quiverful thanked him, and shook hands with him, and looked into
his face suspiciously. She was not sure whether the congratulations
and kindness were or were not ironical.
"Pray tell Mr. Quiverful from me," he continued, "that I am rejoiced
at his appointment. It's a comfortable place, Mrs. Quiverful, and a
comfortable house, and I am very glad to see you in it. Good-bye--
good-bye." And he drove on, leaving the lady well pleased and
astonished at his good nature. On the whole things were going well
with the archdeacon, and he could afford to be charitable to Mrs.
Quiverful. He looked forth from his gig smilingly on all the world
and forgave everyone in Barchester their sins, excepting only Mrs.
Proudie and Mr. Slope. Had he seen the bishop, he would have felt
inclined to pat even him kindly on the head.
He determined to go home by St. Ewold's. This would take him some
three miles out of his way, but he felt that he could not leave
Plumstead comfortably without saying one word of good-fellowship to
Mr. Arabin. When he reached the parsonage, the vicar was still out,
but from what he had heard, he did not doubt but that he would meet
him on the road between their two houses. He was right in this, for
about half-way home, at a narrow turn, he came upon Mr. Arabin, who
was on horseback.
"Well, well, well, well," said the archdeacon loudly, joyously, and
with supreme good humour; "well, well, well, well, so after all we
have no further cause to fear Mr. Slope."
"I hear from Mrs. Grantly that they have offered the deanery to Mr.
Harding," said the other.
"Mr. Slope has lost more than the deanery I find," and then the
archdeacon laughed jocosely. "Come, come, Arabin, you have kept your
secret well enough. I know all about it now."
"I have had no secret, Archdeacon," said the other with a quiet
smile. "None at all--not for a day. It was only yesterday that I
knew my own good fortune, and to-day I went over to Plumstead to ask
your approval. From what Mrs. Grantly has said to me I am led to
hope that I shall have it."
"With all my heart, with all my heart," said the archdeacon
cordially, holding his friend fast by the hand. "It's just as I
would have it. She is an excellent young woman; she will not come to
you empty-handed; and I think she will make you a good wife. If she
does her duty by you as her sister does by me, you'll be a happy man;
that's all I can say." And as he finished speaking a tear might have
been observed in each of the doctor's eyes.
Mr. Arabin warmly returned the archdeacon's grasp, but he said
little. His heart was too full for speaking, and he could not
express the gratitude which he felt. Dr. Grantly understood him as
well as though he had spoken for an hour.
"And mind, Arabin," said he, "no one but myself shall tie the knot.
We'll get Eleanor out to Plumstead, and it shall come off there.
I'll make Susan stir herself, and we'll do it in style. I must be
off to London to-morrow on special business. Harding goes with me.
But I'll be back before your bride has got her wedding-dress ready."
And so they parted.
On his journey home the archdeacon occupied his mind with
preparations for the marriage festivities. He made a great resolve
that he would atone to Eleanor for all the injury he had done her by
the munificence of his future treatment. He would show her what was
the difference in his eyes between a Slope and an Arabin. On one
other thing also he decided with a firm mind: if the affair of the
dean should not be settled in Mr. Arabin's favour, nothing should
prevent him putting a new front and bow-window to the dining-room at
St. Ewold's parsonage.
"So we're sold after all, Sue," said he to his wife, accosting her
with a kiss as soon as he entered his house. He did not call his
wife Sue above twice or thrice in a year, and these occasions were
great high days.
"Eleanor has had more sense than we gave her credit for," said
And there was great content in Plumstead Rectory that evening.
Mrs. Grantly promised her husband that she would now open her heart
and take Mr. Arabin into it. Hitherto she had declined to do so.
Mr. Slope Bids Farewell to the Palace and Its Inhabitants
We must now take leave of Mr. Slope, and of the bishop also, and of
Mrs. Proudie. These leave-takings in novels are as disagreeable as
they are in real life; not so sad, indeed, for they want the reality
of sadness; but quite as perplexing, and generally less satisfactory.
What novelist, what Fielding, what Scott, what George Sand, or Sue,
or Dumas, can impart an interest to the last chapter of his
fictitious history? Promises of two children and superhuman
happiness are of no avail, nor assurance of extreme respectability
carried to an age far exceeding that usually allotted to mortals.
The sorrows of our heroes and heroines, they are your delight, oh
public!--their sorrows, or their sins, or their absurdities; not
their virtues, good sense, and consequent rewards. When we begin to
tint our final pages with couleur de rose, as in accordance with
fixed rule we must do, we altogether extinguish our own powers of
pleasing. When we become dull, we offend your intellect; and we must
become dull or we should offend your taste. A late writer, wishing
to sustain his interest to the last page, hung his hero at the end of
the third volume. The consequence was that no one would read his
novel. And who can apportion out and dovetail his incidents,
dialogues, characters, and descriptive morsels so as to fit them all
exactly into 930 pages, without either compressing them unnaturally,
or extending them artificially at the end of his labour? Do I not
myself know that I am at this moment in want of a dozen pages and
that I am sick with cudgelling my brains to find them? And then,
when everything is done, the kindest-hearted critic of them all
invariably twits us with the incompetency and lameness of our
conclusion. We have either become idle and neglected it, or tedious
and overlaboured it. It is insipid or unnatural, overstrained or
imbecile. It means nothing, or attempts too much. The last scene of
all, as all last scenes we fear must be,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
I can only say that if some critic who thoroughly knows his work and
has laboured on it till experience has made him perfect will write
the last fifty pages of a novel in the way they should be written, I,
for one, will in future do my best to copy the example. Guided by my
own lights only, I confess that I despair of success.
For the last week or ten days Mr. Slope had seen nothing of Mrs.
Proudie and very little of the bishop. He still lived in the palace
and still went through his usual routine work, but the confidential
doings of the diocese had passed into other hands. He had seen this
clearly and marked it well, but it had not much disturbed him. He
had indulged in other hopes till the bishop's affairs had become dull
to him, and he was moreover aware that, as regarded the diocese, Mrs.
Proudie had checkmated him. It has been explained, in the beginning
of these pages, how three or four were contending together as to who,
in fact, should be Bishop of Barchester. Each of these had now
admitted to himself (or boasted to herself) that Mrs. Proudie was
victorious in the struggle. They had gone through a competitive
examination of considerable severity, and she had come forth the
winner, facile princeps. Mr. Slope had for a moment run her hard,
but it was only for a moment. It had become, as it were,
acknowledged that Hiram's Hospital should be the testing-point
between them, and now Mr. Quiverful was already in the hospital, the
proof of Mrs. Proudie's skill and courage.
All this did not break down Mr. Slope's spirit because he had other
hopes. But, alas, at last there came to him a note from his friend
Sir Nicholas, informing him that the deanship was disposed of. Let
us give Mr. Slope his due. He did not lie prostrate under this blow,
or give himself up to vain lamentations; he did not henceforward
despair of life and call upon gods above and gods below to carry him
off. He sat himself down in his chair, counted out what monies he
had in hand for present purposes and what others were coming in to
him, bethought himself as to the best sphere for his future
exertions, and at once wrote off a letter to a rich sugar-refiner's
wife in Baker Street, who, as he well knew, was much given to the
entertainment and encouragement of serious young evangelical
clergymen. He was again, he said, "upon the world, having found the
air of a cathedral town, and the very nature of cathedral services,
uncongenial to his spirit;" and then he sat awhile, making firm
resolves as to his manner of parting from the bishop and also as to
his future conduct,
At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue (black),
To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new.
Having received a formal command to wait upon the bishop, he rose and
proceeded to obey it. He rang the bell and desired the servant to
inform his master that, if it suited his lordship, he, Mr. Slope, was
ready to wait upon him. The servant, who well understood that Mr.
Slope was no longer in the ascendant, brought back a message saying
that "his lordship desired that Mr. Slope would attend him
immediately in his study." Mr. Slope waited about ten minutes more
to prove his independence, and then he went into the bishop's room.
There, as he had expected, he found Mrs. Proudie, together with her
"Hum, ha--Mr. Slope, pray take a chair," said the gentleman bishop.
"Pray be seated, Mr. Slope," said the lady bishop.
"Thank ye, thank ye," said Mr. Slope, and walking round to the fire,
he threw himself into one of the armchairs that graced the hearth-
"Mr. Slope," said the bishop, "it has become necessary that I should
speak to you definitively on a matter that has for some time been
pressing itself on my attention."
"May I ask whether the subject is in any way connected with myself?"
said Mr. Slope.
"It is so--certainly--yes, it certainly is connected with yourself,
"Then, my lord, if I may be allowed to express a wish, I would prefer
that no discussion on the subject should take place between us in the
presence of a third person."
"Don't alarm yourself, Mr. Slope," said Mrs. Proudie "no discussion
is at all necessary. The bishop merely intends to express his own
"I merely intend, Mr. Slope, to express my own wishes--no discussion
will be at all necessary," said the bishop, reiterating his wife's
"That is more, my lord, than we any of us can be sure of," said Mr.
Slope; "I cannot, however, force Mrs. Proudie to leave the room; nor
can I refuse to remain here if it be your lordship's wish that I
should do so."
"It is his lordship's wish, certainly," said Mrs. Proudie.
"Mr. Slope," began the bishop in a solemn, serious voice, "it grieves
me to have to find fault. It grieves me much to have to find fault
with a clergyman--but especially so with a clergyman in your
"Why, what have I done amiss, my lord?" demanded Mr. Slope boldly.
"What have you done amiss, Mr. Slope?" said Mrs. Proudie, standing
erect before the culprit and raising that terrible forefinger. "Do
you dare to ask the bishop what you have done amiss? Does not your
"Mrs. Proudie, pray let it be understood, once for all, that I will
have no words with you."
"Ah, sir, but you will have words," said she; "you must have words.
Why have you had so many words with that Signora Neroni? Why have
you disgraced yourself, you a clergyman, too, by constantly
consorting with such a woman as that--with a married woman--with one
altogether unfit for a clergyman's society?"
"At any rate I was introduced to her in your drawing-room," retorted
"And shamefully you behaved there," said Mrs. Proudie; "most
shamefully. I was wrong to allow you to remain in the house a day
after what I then saw. I should have insisted on your instant
"I have yet to learn, Mrs. Proudie, that you have the power to insist
either on my going from hence or on my staying here."
"What!" said the lady. "I am not to have the privilege of saying who
shall and who shall not frequent my own drawing-room! I am not to
save my servants and dependants from having their morals corrupted by
improper conduct! I am not to save my own daughters from impurity!
I will let you see, Mr. Slope, whether I have the power or whether I
have not. You will have the goodness to understand that you no
longer fill any situation about the bishop, and as your room will be
immediately wanted in the palace for another chaplain, I must ask you
to provide yourself with apartments as soon as may be convenient to
"My lord," said Mr. Slope, appealing to the bishop and so turning his
back completely on the lady, "will you permit me to ask that I may
have from your own lips any decision that you may have come to on
"Certainly, Mr. Slope, certainly," said the bishop; "that is but
reasonable. Well, my decision is that you had better look for some
other preferment. For the situation which you have lately held I do
not think that you are well suited."
"And what, my lord, has been my fault?"
"That Signora Neroni is one fault," said Mrs. Proudie; "and a very
abominable fault she is; very abominable and very disgraceful. Fie,
Mr. Slope, fie! You an evangelical clergyman indeed!"
"My lord, I desire to know for what fault I am turned out of your
"You hear what Mrs. Proudie says," said the bishop.
"When I publish the history of this transaction, my lord, as I
decidedly shall do in my own vindication, I presume you will not wish
me to state that you have discarded me at your wife's bidding--
because she has objected to my being acquainted with another lady,
the daughter of one of the prebendaries of the chapter?"
"You may publish what you please, sir," said Mrs. Proudie. "But you
will not be insane enough to publish any of your doings in
Barchester. Do you think I have not heard of your kneelings at that
creature's feet--that is, if she has any feet--and of your constant
slobbering over her hand? I advise you to beware, Mr. Slope, of what
you do and say. Clergymen have been unfrocked for less than what you
have been guilty of."
"My lord, if this goes on I shall be obliged to indict this woman--
Mrs. Proudie I mean--for defamation of character."
"I think, Mr. Slope, you had better now retire," said the bishop. "I
will enclose to you a cheque for any balance that may be due to you;
under the present circumstances, it will of course be better for all
parties that you should leave the palace at the earliest possible
moment. I will allow you for your journey back to London and for
your maintenance in Barchester for a week from this date."
"If, however, you wish to remain in this neighbourhood;" said Mrs.
Proudie, "and will solemnly pledge yourself never again to see that
woman, and will promise also to be more circumspect in your conduct,
the bishop will mention your name to Mr. Quiverful, who now wants a
curate at Puddingdale. The house is, I imagine, quite sufficient for
your requirements, and there will moreover be a stipend of fifty
pounds a year."
"May God forgive you, madam, for the manner in which you have treated
me," said Mr. Slope, looking at her with a very heavenly look; "and
remember this, madam, that you yourself may still have a fall;" and
he looked at her with a very worldly look. "As to the bishop, I pity
him!" And so saying, Mr. Slope left the room. Thus ended the
intimacy of the Bishop of Barchester with his first confidential
Mrs. Proudie was right in this; namely, that Mr. Slope was not insane
enough to publish to the world any of his doings in Barchester. He
did not trouble his friend Mr. Towers with any written statement of
the iniquity of Mrs. Proudie, or the imbecility of her husband. He
was aware that it would be wise in him to drop for the future all
allusion to his doings in the cathedral city. Soon after the
interview just recorded he left Barchester, shaking the dust off his
feet as he entered the railway carriage; and he gave no longing,
lingering look after the cathedral towers as the tram hurried him
quickly out of their sight.
It is well known that the family of the Slopes never starve: they
always fall on their feet, like cats, and let them fall where they
will, they live on the fat of the land. Our Mr. Slope did so. On
his return to town he found that the sugar-refiner had died and that
his widow was inconsolable--in other words, in want of consolation.
Mr. Slope consoled her and soon found himself settled with much
comfort in the house in Baker Street. He possessed himself, also,
before long, of a church in the vicinity of the Red Road, and became
known to fame as one of the most eloquent preachers and pious
clergymen in that part of the metropolis. There let us leave him.
Of the bishop and his wife very little further need be said. From
that time forth nothing material occurred to interrupt the even
course of their domestic harmony. Very speedily, a further vacancy
on the bench of bishops gave to Dr. Proudie the seat in the House of
Lords, which he at first so anxiously longed for. But by this time
he had become a wiser man. He did certainly take his seat and
occasionally registered a vote in favour of Government views on
ecclesiastical matters. But he had thoroughly learnt that his proper
sphere of action lay in close contiguity with Mrs. Proudie's
wardrobe. He never again aspired to disobey, or seemed even to wish
for autocratic diocesan authority. If ever he thought of freedom, he
did so as men think of the millennium, as of a good time which may be
coming, but which nobody expects to come in their day. Mrs. Proudie
might be said still to bloom, and was, at any rate, strong, and the
bishop had no reason to apprehend that he would be speedily visited
with the sorrows of a widower's life.
He is still Bishop of Barchester. He has so graced that throne that
the Government has been averse to translate him, even to higher
dignities. There may he remain, under safe pupilage, till the
newfangled manners of the age have discovered him to be superannuated
and bestowed on him a pension. As for Mrs. Proudie, our prayers for
her are that she may live forever.
The New Dean Takes Possession of the Deanery,
and the New Warden of the Hospital
Mr. Harding and the archdeacon together made their way to Oxford, and
there, by dint of cunning argument, they induced the Master of
Lazarus also to ask himself this momentous question: "Why should not
Mr. Arabin be Dean of Barchester?" He, of course, for awhile tried
his band at persuading Mr. Harding that he was foolish,
overscrupulous, self-willed, and weak-minded, but he tried in vain.
If Mr. Harding would not give way to Dr. Grantly, it was not likely
that he would give way to Dr. Gwynne, more especially now that so
admirable a scheme as that of inducting Mr. Arabin into the deanery
had been set on foot. When the master found that his eloquence was
vain, and heard also that Mr. Arabin was about to become Mr.
Harding's son-in-law, he confessed that he also would, under such
circumstances, be glad to see his old friend and protégé, the fellow
of his college, placed in the comfortable position that was going
"It might be the means you know, Master, of keeping Mr. Slope out,"
said the archdeacon with grave caution.
"He has no more chance of it," said the master, "than our college
chaplain. I know more about it than that."
Mrs. Grantly had been right in her surmise. It was the Master of
Lazarus who had been instrumental in representing in high places the
claims which Mr. Harding had upon the Government, and he now
consented to use his best endeavours towards getting the offer
transferred to Mr. Arabin. The three of them went on to London
together, and there they remained a week, to the great disgust of
Mrs. Grantly, and most probably also of Mrs. Gwynne. The minister
was out of town in one direction, and his private secretary in
another. The clerks who remained could do nothing in such a matter
as this, and all was difficulty and confusion. The two doctors
seemed to have plenty to do; they bustled here and they bustled there
and complained at their club in the evenings that they had been
driven off their legs; but Mr. Harding had no occupation. Once or
twice he suggested that he might perhaps return to Barchester. His
request, however, was peremptorily refused, and he had nothing for it
but to while away his time in Westminster Abbey.
At length an answer from the great man came. The Master of Lazarus
had made his proposition through the Bishop of Belgravia. Now this
bishop, though but newly gifted with his diocesan honours, was a man
of much weight in the clerico-political world. He was, if not as
pious, at any rate as wise as St. Paul, and had been with so much
effect all things to all men that, though he was great among the dons
of Oxford, he had been selected for the most favourite seat on the
bench by a Whig prime minister. To him Dr. Gwynne had made known his
wishes and his arguments, and the bishop had made them known to the
Marquis of Kensington-Gore. The marquis, who was Lord High Steward
of the Pantry Board, and who by most men was supposed to hold the
highest office out of the cabinet, trafficked much in affairs of this
kind. He not only suggested the arrangement to the minister over a
cup of coffee, standing on a drawing-room rug in Windsor Castle, but
he also favourably mentioned Mr. Arabin's name in the ear of a
And so the matter was arranged. The answer of the great man came,
and Mr. Arabin was made Dean of Barchester. The three clergymen who
had come up to town on this important mission dined together with
great glee on the day on which the news reached them. In a silent,
decent, clerical manner they toasted Mr. Arabin with full bumpers of
claret. The satisfaction of all of them was supreme. The Master of
Lazarus had been successful in his attempt, and success is dear to us
all. The archdeacon had trampled upon Mr. Slope and had lifted to
high honours the young clergyman whom he had induced to quit the
retirement and comfort of the university. So at least the archdeacon
thought; though, to speak sooth, not he, but circumstances, had
trampled on Mr. Slope. But the satisfaction of Mr. Harding was, of
all, perhaps, the most complete. He laid aside his usual melancholy
manner and brought forth little quiet jokes from the inmost mirth of
his heart; he poked his fun at the archdeacon about Mr. Slope's
marriage and quizzed him for his improper love for Mrs. Proudie. On
the following day they all returned to Barchester.
It was arranged that Mr. Arabin should know nothing of what had been
done till he received the minister's letter from the hands of his
embryo father-in-law. In order that no time might be lost a message
had been sent to him by the preceding night's post, begging him to be
at the deanery at the hour that the train from London arrived. There
was nothing in this which surprised Mr. Arabin. It had somehow got
about through all Barchester that Mr. Harding was the new dean, and
all Barchester was prepared to welcome him with pealing bells and
full hearts. Mr. Slope had certainly had a party; there had
certainly been those in Barchester who were prepared to congratulate
him on his promotion with assumed sincerity, but even his own party
was not broken-hearted by his failure. The inhabitants of the city,
even the high-souled, ecstatic young ladies of thirty-five, had begun
to comprehend that their welfare, and the welfare of the place, was
connected in some mysterious manner with daily chants and bi-weekly
anthems. The expenditure of the palace had not added much to the
popularity of the bishop's side of the question; and, on the whole,
there was a strong reaction. When it became known to all the world
that Mr. Harding was to be the new dean, all the world rejoiced
Mr. Arabin, we have said, was not surprised at the summons which
called him to the deanery. He had not as yet seen Mr. Harding since
Eleanor had accepted him, nor had he seen him since he had learnt his
future father-in-law's preferment. There was nothing more natural,
more necessary, than that they should meet each other at the earliest
possible moment. Mr. Arabin was waiting in the deanery parlour when
Mr. Harding and Dr. Grantly were driven up from the station.
There was some excitement in the bosoms of them all, as they met and
shook hands; by far too much to enable either of them to begin his
story and tell it in a proper equable style of narrative. Mr.
Harding was some minutes quite dumbfounded, and Mr. Arabin could only
talk in short, spasmodic sentences about his love and good fortune.
He slipped in, as best he could, some sort of congratulation about
the deanship, and then went on with his hopes and fears--hopes that
he might be received as a son and fears that he hardly deserved such
good fortune. Then he went back to the dean; it was the most
thoroughly satisfactory appointment, he said, of which he had ever
"But! But! But--" said Mr. Harding, and then, failing to get any
further, he looked imploringly at the archdeacon.
"The truth is, Arabin," said the doctor, "that, after all you are not
destined to be son-in-law to a dean. Nor am I either: more's the
Mr. Arabin looked at him for explanation. "Is not Mr. Harding to be
the new dean?"
"It appears not," said the archdeacon. Mr. Arabin's face fell a
little, and he looked from one to the other. It was plainly to be
seen from them both that there was no cause of unhappiness in the
matter, at least not of unhappiness to them; but there was as yet no
elucidation of the mystery.
"Think how old I am," said Mr. Harding imploringly.
"Fiddlestick!" said the archdeacon.
"That's all very well, but it won't make a young man of me," said Mr.
"And who is to be dean?" asked Mr. Arabin.
"Yes, that's the question," said the archdeacon. "Come, Mr.
Precentor, since you obstinately refuse to be anything else, let us
know who is to be the man. He has got the nomination in his pocket."
With eyes brim full of tears, Mr. Harding pulled out the letter and
handed it to his future son-in-law. He tried to make a little speech
but failed altogether. Having given up the document, he turned round
to the wall, feigning to blow his nose, and then sat himself down on
the old dean's dingy horsehair sofa. And here we find it necessary
to bring our account of the interview to an end.
Nor can we pretend to describe the rapture with which Mr. Harding was
received by his daughter. She wept with grief and wept with joy--
with grief that her father should, in his old age, still be without
that rank and worldly position which, according to her ideas, he had
so well earned; and with joy in that he, her darling father, should
have bestowed on that other dear one the good things of which he
himself would not open his hand to take possession. And here Mr.
Harding again showed his weakness. In the mêlée of this exposal of
their loves and reciprocal affection he found himself unable to
resist the entreaties of all parties that the lodgings in the High
Street should be given up. Eleanor would not live in the deanery,
she said, unless her father lived there also. Mr. Arabin would not
be dean, unless Mr. Harding would be co-dean with him. The
archdeacon declared that his father-in-law should not have his own
way in everything, and Mrs. Grantly carried him off to Plumstead,
that he might remain there till Mr. and Mrs. Arabin were in a state
to receive him in their own mansion.
Pressed by such arguments as these, what could a weak old man do but
But there was yet another task which it behoved Mr. Harding to do
before he could allow himself to be at rest. Little has been said in
these pages of the state of those remaining old men who had lived
under his sway at the hospital. But not on this account must it be
presumed that he had forgotten them, or that in their state of
anarchy and in their want of due government he had omitted to visit
them. He visited them constantly, and had latterly given them to
understand that they would soon be required to subscribe their
adherence to a new master. There were now but five of them, one of
them having been but quite lately carried to his rest--but five of
the full number, which had hitherto been twelve, and which was now to
be raised to twenty-four, including women. Of these, old Bunce, who
for many years had been the favourite of the late warden, was one;
and Abel Handy, who had been the humble means of driving that warden
from his home, was another.
Mr. Harding now resolved that he himself would introduce the new
warden to the hospital. He felt that many circumstances might
conspire to make the men receive Mr. Quiverful with aversion and
disrespect; he felt also that Mr. Quiverful might himself feel some
qualms of conscience if he entered the hospital with an idea that he
did so in hostility to his predecessor. Mr. Harding therefore
determined to walk in, arm in arm with Mr. Quiverful, and to ask from
these men their respectful obedience to their new master.
On returning to Barchester, he found that Mr. Quiverful had not yet
slept in the hospital house, or entered on his new duties. He
accordingly made known to that gentleman his wishes, and his
proposition was not rejected.
It was a bright, clear morning, though in November, that Mr. Harding
and Mr. Quiverful, arm in arm, walked through the hospital gate. It
was one trait in our old friend's character that he did nothing with
parade. He omitted, even in the more important doings of his life,
that sort of parade by which most of us deem it necessary to grace
our important doings. We have house-warmings, christenings, and gala
days; we keep, if not our own birthdays, those of our children; we
are apt to fuss ourselves if called upon to change our residences and
have, almost all of us, our little state occasions. Mr. Harding had
no state occasions. When he left his old house, he went forth from
it with the same quiet composure as though he were merely taking his
daily walk; now that he re-entered it with another warden under his
wing, he did so with the same quiet step and calm demeanour. He was
a little less upright than he had been five years, nay, it was now
nearly six years ago; he walked perhaps a little slower; his footfall
was perhaps a thought less firm; otherwise one might have said that
he was merely returning with a friend under his arm.
This friendliness was everything to Mr. Quiverful. To him, even in
his poverty, the thought that he was supplanting a brother clergyman
so kind and courteous as Mr. Harding had been very bitter. Under his
circumstances it had been impossible for him to refuse the proffered
boon; he could not reject the bread that was offered to his children,
or refuse to ease the heavy burden that had so long oppressed that
poor wife of his; nevertheless, it had been very grievous to him to
think that in going to the hospital he might encounter the ill-will
of his brethren in the diocese. All this Mr. Harding had fully
comprehended. It was for such feelings as these, for the nice
comprehension of such motives, that his heart and intellect were
peculiarly fitted. In most matters of worldly import the archdeacon
set down his father-in-law as little better than a fool. And perhaps
he was right. But in some other matters, equally important if they
be rightly judged, Mr. Harding, had he been so minded, might with as
much propriety have set down his son-in-law for a fool. Few men,
however, are constituted as was Mr. Harding. He had that nice
appreciation of the feelings of others which belongs of right
exclusively to women.
Arm in arm they walked into the inner quadrangle of the building, and
there the five old men met them. Mr. Harding shook hands with them
all, and then Mr. Quiverful did the same. With Bunce Mr. Harding
shook hands twice, and Mr. Quiverful was about to repeat the same
ceremony, but the old man gave him no encouragement.
"I am very glad to know that at last you have a new warden," said Mr.
Harding in a very cheery voice.
"We be very old for any change," said one of them, "but we do suppose
it be all for the best."
"Certainly--certainly it is for the best," said Mr. Harding. "You
will again have a clergyman of your own church under the same roof
with you, and a very excellent clergyman you will have. It is a
great satisfaction to me to know that so good a man is coming to take
care of you, and that it is no stranger, but a friend of my own who
will allow me from time to time to come in and see you."
"We be very thankful to your Reverence," said another of them.
"I need not tell you, my good friends," said Mr. Quiverful, "how
extremely grateful I am to Mr. Harding for his kindness to me--I
must say his uncalled-for, unexpected kindness."
"He be always very kind," said a third.
"What I can do to fill the void which he left here I will do. For
your sake and my own I will do so, and especially for his sake. But
to you who have known him, I can never be the same well-loved friend
and father that he has been."
"No, sir, no," said old Bunce, who hitherto had held his peace; "no
one can be that. Not if the new bishop sent a hangel to us out of
heaven. We doesn't doubt you'll do your best, sir, but you'll not be
like the old master--not to us old ones."
"Fie, Bunce, fie; how dare you talk in that way?" said Mr. Harding;
but as he scolded the old man he still held him by his arm and
pressed it with warm affection.
There was no getting up any enthusiasm in the matter. How could five
old men tottering away to their final resting place be enthusiastic
on the reception of a stranger? What could Mr. Quiverful be to them,
or they to Mr. Quiverful? Had Mr. Harding indeed come back to them,
some last flicker of joyous light might have shone forth on their
aged cheeks; but it was in vain to bid them rejoice because Mr.
Quiverful was about to move his fourteen children from Puddingdale
into the hospital house. In reality they did no doubt receive
advantage, spiritual as well as corporal, but this they could neither
anticipate nor acknowledge.
It was a dull affair enough, this introduction of Mr. Quiverful, but
still it had its effect. The good which Mr. Harding intended did not
fall to the ground. All the Barchester world, including the five old
bedesmen, treated Mr. Quiverful with the more respect because Mr.
Harding had thus walked in, arm in arm with him, on his first
entrance to his duties.
And here in their new abode we will leave Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful and
their fourteen children. May they enjoy the good things which
Providence has at length given to them!
The end of a novel, like the end of a children's dinner party, must
be made up of sweetmeats and sugar-plums. There is now nothing else
to be told but the gala doings of Mr. Arabin's marriage, nothing more
to be described than the wedding-dresses, no further dialogue to be
recorded than that which took place between the archdeacon, who
married them, and Mr. Arabin and Eleanor, who were married.
"Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife," and "wilt thou have
this man to thy wedded husband, to live together according to God's
Mr. Arabin and Eleanor each answered, "I will."
We have no doubt that they will keep their promises, the more
especially as the Signora Neroni had left Barchester before the
ceremony was performed.
Mrs. Bold had been somewhat more than two years a widow before she
was married to her second husband, and little Johnny was then able
with due assistance to walk on his own legs into the drawing-room to
receive the salutations of the assembled guests. Mr. Harding gave
away the bride, the archdeacon performed the service, and the two
Miss Grantlys, who were joined in their labours by other young ladies
of the neighbourhood, performed the duties of bridesmaids with equal
diligence and grace. Mrs. Grantly superintended the breakfast and
bouquets, and Mary Bold distributed the cards and cake. The
archdeacon's three sons had also come home for the occasion. The
elder was great with learning, being regarded by all who knew him as
a certain future double first. The second, however, bore the palm on
this occasion, being resplendent in a new uniform. The third was
just entering the university, and was probably the proudest of the
But the most remarkable feature in the whole occasion was the
excessive liberality of the archdeacon. He literally made presents
to everybody. As Mr. Arabin had already moved out of the parsonage
of St. Ewold's, that scheme of elongating the dining-room was of
course abandoned, but he would have refurnished the whole deanery had
he been allowed. He sent down a magnificent piano by Erard, gave Mr.
Arabin a cob which any dean in the land might have been proud to
bestride, and made a special present to Eleanor of a new pony chair
that had gained a prize in the Exhibition. Nor did he even stay his
hand here; he bought a set of cameos for his wife and a sapphire
bracelet for Miss Bold; showered pearls and work-boxes on his
daughters; and to each of his sons he presented a check for £20. On
Mr. Harding he bestowed a magnificent violoncello with all the new-
fashioned arrangements and expensive additions, which on account of
these novelties that gentleman could never use with satisfaction to
his audience or pleasure to himself.
Those who knew the archdeacon well perfectly understood the causes of
his extravagance. 'Twas thus that he sang his song of triumph over
Mr. Slope. This was his paean, his hymn of thanksgiving, his loud
oration. He had girded himself with his sword and gone forth to the
war; now he was returning from the field laden with the spoils of the
foe. The cob and the cameos, the violoncello and the pianoforte,
were all as it were trophies reft from the tent of his now-conquered
The Arabins after their marriage went abroad for a couple of months,
according to the custom in such matters now duly established, and
then commenced their deanery life under good auspices. And nothing
can be more pleasant than the present arrangement of ecclesiastical
affairs in Barchester. The titular bishop never interfered, and Mrs.
Proudie not often. Her sphere is more extended, more noble, and more
suited to her ambition than that of a cathedral city. As long as she
can do what she pleases with the diocese, she is willing to leave the
dean and chapter to themselves. Mr. Slope tried his hand at
subverting the old-established customs of the close, and from his
failure she had learnt experience. The burly chancellor and the
meagre little prebendary are not teased by any application respecting
Sabbath-day schools, the dean is left to his own dominions, and the
intercourse between Mrs. Proudie and Mrs. Arabin is confined to a
yearly dinner given by each to the other. At these dinners Dr.
Grantly will not take a part, but he never fails to ask for and
receive a full account of all that Mrs. Proudie either does or says.
His ecclesiastical authority has been greatly shorn since the palmy
days in which he reigned supreme as mayor of the palace to his
father, but nevertheless such authority as is now left to him he can
enjoy without interference. He can walk down the High Street of
Barchester without feeling that those who see him are comparing his
claims with those of Mr. Slope. The intercourse between Plumstead
and the deanery is of the most constant and familiar description.
Since Eleanor has been married to a clergyman, and especially to a
dignitary of the church, Mrs. Grantly has found many more points of
sympathy with her sister, and on a coming occasion, which is much
looked forward to by all parties, she intends to spend a month or two
at the deanery. She never thought of spending a month in Barchester
when little Johnny Bold was born!
The two sisters do not quite agree on matters of church doctrine,
though their differences are of the most amicable description. Mrs.
Arabin's church is two degrees higher than that of Mrs. Grantly.
This may seem strange to those who will remember that Eleanor was
once accused of partiality to Mr. Slope, but it is no less the fact.
She likes her husband's silken vest, she likes his adherence to the
rubric, she specially likes the eloquent philosophy of his sermons,
and she likes the red letters in her own prayer-book. It must not be
presumed that she has a taste for candles, or that she is at all
astray about the real presence, but she has an inkling that way. She
sent a handsome subscription towards certain very heavy
ecclesiastical legal expenses which have lately been incurred in
Bath, her name of course not appearing; she assumes a smile of gentle
ridicule when the Archbishop of Canterbury is named; and she has put
up a memorial window in the cathedral.
Mrs. Grantly, who belongs to the high and dry church, the High Church
as it was some fifty years since, before tracts were written and
young clergymen took upon themselves the highly meritorious duty of
cleaning churches, rather laughs at her sister. She shrugs her
shoulders and tells Miss Thorne that she supposes Eleanor will have
an oratory in the deanery before she has done. But she is not on
that account a whit displeased. A few High Church vagaries do not,
she thinks, sit amiss on the shoulders of a young dean's wife. It
shows at any rate that her heart is in the subject, and it shows
moreover that she is removed, wide as the poles asunder, from that
cesspool of abomination in which it was once suspected that she would
wallow and grovel. Anathema maranatha! Let anything else be held as
blessed, so that that be well cursed. Welcome kneelings and bowings,
welcome matins and complines, welcome bell, book, and candle, so that
Mr. Slope's dirty surplices and ceremonial Sabbaths be held in due
If it be essentially and absolutely necessary to choose between the
two, we are inclined to agree with Mrs. Grantly that the bell, book,
and candle are the lesser evil of the two. Let it however be
understood that no such necessity is admitted in these pages.
Dr. Arabin (we suppose he must have become a doctor when he became a
dean) is more moderate and less outspoken on doctrinal points than
his wife, as indeed in his station it behoves him to be. He is a
studious, thoughtful, hard-working man. He lives constantly at the
deanery and preaches nearly every Sunday. His time is spent in
sifting and editing old ecclesiastical literature and in producing
the same articles new. At Oxford he is generally regarded as the
most promising clerical ornament of the age. He and his wife live
together in perfect mutual confidence. There is but one secret in
her bosom which he has not shared. He has never yet learned how Mr.
Slope had his ears boxed.
The Stanhopes soon found that Mr. Slope's power need no longer
operate to keep them from the delight of their Italian villa. Before
Eleanor's marriage they had all migrated back to the shores of Como.
They had not been resettled long before the signora received from
Mrs. Arabin a very pretty though very short epistle, in which she was
informed of the fate of the writer. This letter was answered by
another--bright, charming, and witty, as the signora's letters always
were--and so ended the friendship between Eleanor and the Stanhopes.
One word of Mr. Harding, and we have done. He is still precentor of
Barchester and still pastor of the little church of St. Cuthbert's.
In spite of what he has so often said himself, he is not even yet an
old man. He does such duties as fall to his lot well and
conscientiously, and is thankful that he has never been tempted to
assume others for which he might be less fitted.
The author now leaves him in the hands of his readers: not as a hero,
not as a man to be admired and talked of, not as a man who should be
toasted at public dinners and spoken of with conventional absurdity
as a perfect divine, but as a good man, without guile, believing
humbly in the religion which he has striven to teach, and guided by
the precepts which he has striven to learn.