Part 3 out of 11
Sabbath-day schools, and the lady had suggested that as she could not
possibly go to the children, she might be indulged in the wish of her
heart by having the children brought to her.
"And when shall it be, Mr. Slope?" said she.
Mr. Slope was saved the necessity of committing himself to a promise
by the entry of Mrs. Proudie. She swept close up to the sofa so as
to confront the guilty pair, stared full at them for a moment, and
then said, as she passed on to the next room, "Mr. Slope, his
lordship is especially desirous of your attendance below; you will
greatly oblige me if you will join him." And so she stalked on.
Mr. Slope muttered something in reply and prepared to go downstairs.
As for the bishop's wanting him, he knew his lady patroness well
enough to take that assertion at what it was worth; but he did not
wish to make himself the hero of a scene, or to become conspicuous
for more gallantry than the occasion required.
"Is she always like this?" said the signora.
"Yes--always--madam," said Mrs. Proudie, returning; "always the same
--always equally adverse to impropriety of conduct of every
description;" and she stalked back through the room again, following
Mr. Slope out of the door.
The signora couldn't follow her, or she certainly would have done so.
But she laughed loud and sent the sound of it ringing through the
lobby and down the stairs after Mrs. Proudie's feet. Had she been as
active as Grimaldi, she could probably have taken no better revenge.
"Mr. Slope," said Mrs. Proudie, catching the delinquent at the door,
"I am surprised you should leave my company to attend on such a
painted Jezebel as that."
"But she's lame, Mrs. Proudie, and cannot move. Somebody must have
waited upon her."
"Lame," said Mrs. Proudie; "I'd lame her if she belonged to me. What
business had she here at all?--such impertinence--such affectation."
In the hall and adjacent rooms all manner of cloaking and shawling
was going on, and the Barchester folk were getting themselves gone.
Mrs. Proudie did her best to smirk at each and every one as they made
their adieux, but she was hardly successful. Her temper had been
tried fearfully. By slow degrees the guests went.
"Send back the carriage quick," said Ethelbert as Dr. and Mrs.
Stanhope took their departure.
The younger Stanhopes were left to the very last, and an
uncomfortable party they made with the bishop's family. They all
went into the dining-room, and then the bishop observing that "the
lady" was alone in the drawing-room, they followed him up. Mrs.
Proudie kept Mr. Slope and her daughters in close conversation,
resolving that he should not be indulged, nor they polluted. The
bishop, in mortal dread of Bertie and the Jews, tried to converse
with Charlotte Stanhope about the climate of Italy. Bertie and the
signora had no resource but in each other.
"Did you get your supper at last, Madeline?" said the impudent or
else mischievous young man.
"Oh, yes," said Madeline; "Mr. Slope was so very kind as to bring it
me. I fear, however, he put himself to more inconvenience than I
Mrs. Proudie looked at her but said nothing. The meaning of her look
might have been thus translated; "If ever you find yourself within
these walls again, I'll give you leave to be as impudent and affected
and as mischievous as you please."
At last the carriage returned with the three Italian servants, and La
Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni was carried out as she had been carried
The lady of the palace retired to her chamber by no means contented
with the result of her first grand party at Barchester.
Slope Versus Harding
Two or three days after the party, Mr. Harding received a note
begging him to call on Mr. Slope, at the palace, at an early hour on
the following morning. There was nothing uncivil in the
communication, and yet the tone of it was thoroughly displeasing. It
was as follows:
MY DEAR MR. HARDING,
Will you favour me by calling on me at the palace tomorrow morning at
9:30 A.M. The bishop wishes me to speak to you touching the
hospital. I hope you will excuse my naming so early an hour. I do
so as my time is greatly occupied. If, however, it is positively
inconvenient to you, I will change it to 10. You will, perhaps, be
kind enough to let me have a note in reply.
Believe me to be,
My dear Mr. Harding,
Your assured friend,
The Palace, Monday morning, 20th August, 185-
Mr. Harding neither could nor would believe anything of the sort, and
he thought, moreover, that Mr. Slope was rather impertinent to call
himself by such a name. His assured friend, indeed! How many
assured friends generally fall to the lot of a man in this world?
And by what process are they made? And how much of such process had
taken place as yet between Mr. Harding and Mr. Slope? Mr. Harding
could not help asking himself these questions as he read and reread
the note before him. He answered it, however, as follows:
I will call at the palace tomorrow at 9:30 A.M. as you desire.
High Street, Barchester, Monday
And on the following morning, punctually at half-past nine, he
knocked at the palace door and asked for Mr. Slope.
The bishop had one small room allotted to him on the ground-floor,
and Mr. Slope had another. Into this latter Mr. Harding was shown
and asked to sit down. Mr. Slope was not yet there. The ex-warden
stood up at the window looking into the garden and could not help
thinking how very short a time had passed since the whole of that
house had been open to him, as though he had been a child of the
family, born and bred in it. He remembered how the old servants used
to smile as they opened the door to him; how the familiar butler
would say, when he had been absent a few hours longer than usual,
"A sight of you, Mr. Harding, is good for sore eyes;" how the fussy
housekeeper would swear that he couldn't have dined, or couldn't have
breakfasted, or couldn't have lunched. And then, above all, he
remembered the pleasant gleam of inward satisfaction which always
spread itself over the old bishop's face whenever his friend entered
A tear came into each eye as he reflected that all this was gone.
What use would the hospital be to him now? He was alone in the
world, and getting old; he would soon, very soon have to go and leave
it all, as his dear old friend had gone; go, and leave the hospital,
and his accustomed place in the cathedral, and his haunts and
pleasures, to younger and perhaps wiser men. That chanting of his!
Perhaps, in truth, the time for it was gone by. He felt as though
the world were sinking from his feet; as though this, this was the
time for him to turn with confidence to those hopes which he had
preached with confidence to others. "What," said he to himself, "can
a man's religion be worth if it does not support him against the
natural melancholy of declining years?" And as he looked out through
his dimmed eyes into the bright parterres of the bishop's garden, he
felt that he had the support which he wanted.
Nevertheless, he did not like to be thus kept waiting. If Mr. Slope
did not really wish to see him at half-past nine o'clock, why force
him to come away from his lodgings with his breakfast in his throat?
To tell the truth, it was policy on the part of Mr. Slope. Mr. Slope
had made up his mind that Mr. Harding should either accept the
hospital with abject submission, or else refuse it altogether, and
had calculated that he would probably be more quick to do the latter
if he could be got to enter upon the subject in an ill-humour.
Perhaps Mr. Slope was not altogether wrong in his calculation.
It was nearly ten when Mr. Slope hurried into the room and, muttering
something about the bishop and diocesan duties, shook Mr. Harding's
hand ruthlessly and begged him to be seated.
Now the air of superiority which this man assumed did go against the
grain with Mr. Harding, and yet he did not know how to resent it.
The whole tendency of his mind and disposition was opposed to any
contra-assumption of grandeur on his own part, and he hadn't the
worldly spirit or quickness necessary to put down insolent
pretensions by downright and open rebuke, as the archdeacon would
have done. There was nothing for Mr. Harding but to submit, and he
accordingly did so.
"About the hospital, Mr. Harding?" began Mr. Slope, speaking of it as
the head of a college at Cambridge might speak of some sizarship
which had to be disposed of.
Mr. Harding crossed one leg over another, and then one hand over the
other on the top of them, and looked Mr. Slope in the face; but he
"It's to be filled up again," said Mr. Slope. Mr. Harding said that
he had understood so.
"Of course, you know, the income will be very much reduced,"
continued Mr. Slope. "The bishop wished to be liberal, and he
therefore told the government that he thought it ought to be put at
not less than £450. I think on the whole the bishop was right, for
though the services required will not be of a very onerous nature,
they will be more so than they were before. And it is, perhaps, well
that the clergy immediately attached to the cathedral town should be
made as comfortable as the extent of the ecclesiastical means at our
disposal will allow. Those are the bishop's ideas, and I must say
Mr. Harding sat rubbing one hand on the other but said not a word.
"So much for the income, Mr. Harding. The house will, of course,
remain to the warden, as before. It should, however, I think, be
stipulated that he should paint inside every seven years, and outside
every three years, and be subject to dilapidations, in the event of
vacating, either by death or otherwise. But this is a matter on
which the bishop must yet be consulted."
Mr. Harding still rubbed his hands and still sat silent, gazing up
into Mr. Slope's unprepossessing face.
"Then, as to the duties," continued he, "I believe, if I am rightly
informed, there can hardly be said to have been any duties hitherto,"
and he gave a sort of half-laugh, as though to pass off the
accusation in the guise of a pleasantry.
Mr. Harding thought of the happy, easy years he had passed in his old
home; of the worn-out, aged men whom he had succoured; of his good
intentions; and of his work, which had certainly been of the
lightest. He thought of these things, doubting for a moment whether
he did or did not deserve the sarcasm. He gave his enemy the benefit
of the doubt and did not rebuke him. He merely observed, very
tranquilly and perhaps with too much humility, that the duties of the
situation, such as they were, had, he believed, been done to the
satisfaction of the late bishop.
Mr. Slope again smiled, and this time the smile was intended to
operate against the memory of the late bishop rather than against the
energy of the ex-warden; so it was understood by Mr. Harding. The
colour rose to his cheeks, and he began to feel very angry.
"You must be aware, Mr. Harding, that things are a good deal changed
in Barchester," said Mr. Slope.
Mr. Harding said that he was aware of it. "And not only in
Barchester, Mr. Harding, but in the world at large. It is not only
in Barchester that a new man is carrying out new measures and casting
away the useless rubbish of past centuries. The same thing is going
on throughout the country. Work is now required from every man who
receives wages, and they who have to superintend the doing of work,
and the paying of wages, are bound to see that this rule is carried
out. New men, Mr. Harding, are now needed and are now forthcoming in
the church, as well as in other professions."
All this was wormwood to our old friend. He had never rated very
high his own abilities or activity, but all the feelings of his heart
were with the old clergy, and any antipathies of which his heart was
susceptible were directed against those new, busy, uncharitable,
self-lauding men, of whom Mr. Slope was so good an example.
"Perhaps," said he, "the bishop will prefer a new man at the
"By no means," said Mr. Slope. "The bishop is very anxious that you
should accept the appointment, but he wishes you should understand
beforehand what will be the required duties. In the first place, a
Sabbath-day school will be attached to the hospital."
"What! For the old men?" asked Mr. Harding.
"No, Mr. Harding, not for the old men, but for the benefit of the
children of such of the poor of Barchester as it may suit. The
bishop will expect that you shall attend this school and that the
teachers shall be under your inspection and care."
Mr. Harding slipped his topmost hand off the other and began to rub
the calf of the leg which was supported.
"As to the old men," continued Mr. Slope, "and the old women who are
to form a part of the hospital, the bishop is desirous that you shall
have morning and evening service on the premises every Sabbath, and
one weekday service; that you shall preach to them once at least on
Sundays; and that the whole hospital be always collected for morning
and evening prayer. The bishop thinks that this will render it
unnecessary that any separate seats in the cathedral should be
reserved for the hospital inmates."
Mr. Slope paused, but Mr. Harding still said nothing.
"Indeed, it would be difficult to find seats for the women; on the
whole, Mr. Harding, I may as well say at once that for people of that
class the cathedral service does not appear to me the most useful--
even if it be so for any class of people."
"We will not discuss that, if you please," said Mr. Harding.
"I am not desirous of doing so; at least, not at the present moment.
I hope, however, you fully understand the bishop's wishes about the
new establishment of the hospital; and if, as I do not doubt, I shall
receive from you an assurance that you accord with his lordship's
views, it will give me very great pleasure to be the bearer from his
lordship to you of the presentation to the appointment."
"But if I disagree with his lordship's views?" asked Mr. Harding.
"But I hope you do not," said Mr. Slope.
"But if I do?" again asked the other.
"If such unfortunately should be the case, which I can hardly
conceive, I presume your own feelings will dictate to you the
propriety of declining the appointment."
"But if I accept the appointment and yet disagree with the bishop,
This question rather bothered Mr. Slope. It was true that he had
talked the matter over with the bishop and had received a sort of
authority for suggesting to Mr. Harding the propriety of a Sunday
school and certain hospital services, but he had no authority for
saying that these propositions were to be made peremptory conditions
attached to the appointment. The bishop's idea had been that Mr.
Harding would of course consent and that the school would become,
like the rest of those new establishments in the city, under the
control of his wife and his chaplain. Mr. Slope's idea had been more
correct. He intended that Mr. Harding should refuse the situation
and that an ally of his own should get it, but he had not conceived
the possibility of Mr. Harding openly accepting the appointment and
as openly rejecting the conditions.
"It is not, I presume, probable," said he, "that you will accept from
the hands of the bishop a piece of preferment with a fixed
predetermination to disacknowledge the duties attached to it"
"If I become warden," said Mr. Harding, "and neglect my duty, the
bishop has means by which he can remedy the grievance."
"I hardly expected such an argument from you, or I may say the
suggestion of such a line of conduct," said Mr. Slope with a great
look of injured virtue.
"Nor did I expect such a proposition."
"I shall be glad at any rate to know what answer I am to make to his
lordship," said Mr. Slope.
"I will take an early opportunity of seeing his lordship myself,"
said Mr. Harding.
"Such an arrangement," said Mr. Slope, "will hardly give his lordship
satisfaction. Indeed, it is impossible that the bishop should
himself see every clergyman in the diocese on every subject of
patronage that may arise. The bishop, I believe, did see you on the
matter, and I really cannot see why he should be troubled to do so
"Do you know, Mr. Slope, how long I have been officiating as a
clergyman in this city?" Mr. Slope's wish was now nearly fulfilled.
Mr. Harding had become angry, and it was probable that he might
"I really do not see what that has to do with the question. You
cannot think the bishop would be justified in allowing you to regard
as a sinecure a situation that requires an active man merely because
you have been employed for many years in the cathedral."
"But it might induce the bishop to see me, if I asked him to do so.
I shall consult my friends in this matter, Mr. Slope; but I mean to
be guilty of no subterfuge--you may tell the bishop that as I
altogether disagree with his views about the hospital, I shall
decline the situation if I find that any such conditions are attached
to it as those you have suggested;" and so saying, Mr. Harding took
his hat and went his way.
Mr. Slope was contented. He considered himself at liberty to accept
Mr. Harding's last speech as an absolute refusal of the appointment.
At least, he so represented it to the bishop and to Mrs. Proudie.
"That is very surprising," said the bishop.
"Not at all," said Mrs. Proudie; "you little know how determined the
whole set of them are to withstand your authority."
"But Mr. Harding was so anxious for it," said the bishop.
"Yes," said Mr. Slope, "if he can hold it without the slightest
acknowledgement of your lordship's jurisdiction."
"That is out of the question," said the bishop.
"I should imagine it to be quite so," said the chaplain.
"Indeed, I should think so," said the lady.
"I really am sorry for it," said the bishop.
"I don't know that there is much cause for sorrow," said the lady.
"Mr. Quiverful is a much more deserving man, more in need of it, and
one who will make himself much more useful in the close neighbourhood
of the palace."
"I suppose I had better see Quiverful?" said the chaplain.
"I suppose you had," said the bishop.
The Rubbish Cart
Mr. Harding was not a happy man as he walked down the palace pathway
and stepped out into the close. His preferment and pleasant house
were a second time gone from him, but that he could endure. He had
been schooled and insulted by a man young enough to be his son, but
that he could put up with. He could even draw from the very injuries
which had been inflicted on him some of that consolation which we may
believe martyrs always receive from the injustice of their own
sufferings, and which is generally proportioned in its strength to
the extent of cruelty with which martyrs are treated. He had
admitted to his daughter that he wanted the comfort of his old home,
and yet he could have returned to his lodgings in the High Street, if
not with exaltation, at least with satisfaction, had that been all.
But the venom of the chaplain's harangue had worked into his blood
and sapped the life of his sweet contentment.
"New men are carrying out new measures and are carting away the
useless rubbish of past centuries!" What cruel words these had been;
and how often are they now used with all the heartless cruelty of a
Slope! A man is sufficiently condemned if it can only be shown that
either in politics or religion he does not belong to some new school
established within the last score of years. He may then regard
himself as rubbish and expect to be carted away. A man is nothing
now unless he has within him a full appreciation of the new era, an
era in which it would seem that neither honesty nor truth is very
desirable, but in which success is the only touchstone of merit. We
must laugh at everything that is established. Let the joke be ever
so bad, ever so untrue to the real principles of joking; nevertheless
we must laugh--or else beware the cart. We must talk, think, and
live up to the spirit of the times, and write up to it too, if that
cacoethes be upon us, or else we are nought. New men and new
measures, long credit and few scruples, great success or wonderful
ruin, such are now the tastes of Englishmen who know how to live.
Alas, alas! Under such circumstances Mr. Harding could not but feel
that he was an Englishman who did not know how to live. This new
doctrine of Mr. Slope and the rubbish cart, new at least at
Barchester, sadly disturbed his equanimity.
"The same thing is going on throughout the whole country! .... Work
is now required from every man who receives wages!" And had he been
living all his life receiving wages and doing no work? Had he in
truth so lived as to be now in his old age justly reckoned as rubbish
fit only to be hidden away in some huge dust-hole? The school of men
to whom he professes to belong, the Grantlys, the Gwynnes, and the
old high set of Oxford divines, are afflicted with no such self-
accusations as these which troubled Mr. Harding. They, as a rule,
are as satisfied with the wisdom and propriety of their own conduct
as can be any Mr. Slope, or any Dr. Proudie, with his own. But
unfortunately for himself Mr. Harding had little of this self-
reliance. When he heard himself designated as rubbish by the Slopes
of the world, he had no other resource than to make inquiry within
his own bosom as to the truth of the designation. Alas, alas! The
evidence seemed generally to go against him.
He had professed to himself in the bishop's parlour that in these
coming sources of the sorrow of age, in these fits of sad regret from
which the latter years of few reflecting men can be free, religion
would suffice to comfort him. Yes, religion could console him for
the loss of any worldly good, but was his religion of that active
sort which would enable him so to repent of misspent years as to pass
those that were left to him in a spirit of hope for the future? And
such repentance itself, is it not a work of agony and of tears? It
is very easy to talk of repentance, but a man has to walk over hot
ploughshares before he can complete it; to be skinned alive as was
St. Bartholomew; to be stuck full of arrows as was St. Sebastian; to
lie broiling on a gridiron like St. Lorenzo! How if his past life
required such repentance as this? Had he the energy to go through
Mr. Harding, after leaving the palace, walked slowly for an hour or
so beneath the shady elms of the close and then betook himself to his
daughter's house. He had at any rate made up his mind that he would
go out to Plumstead to consult Dr. Grantly, and that he would in the
first instance tell Eleanor what had occurred.
And now he was doomed to undergo another misery. Mr. Slope had
forestalled him at the widow's house. He had called there on the
preceding afternoon. He could not, he had said, deny himself the
pleasure of telling Mrs. Bold that her father was about to return to
the pretty house at Hiram's Hospital. He had been instructed by the
bishop to inform Mr. Harding that the appointment would now be made
at once. The bishop was of course only too happy to be able to be
the means of restoring to Mr. Harding the preferment which he had so
long adorned. And then by degrees Mr. Slope had introduced the
subject of the pretty school which he hoped before long to see
attached to the hospital. He had quite fascinated Mrs. Bold by his
description of this picturesque, useful, and charitable appendage,
and she had gone so far as to say that she had no doubt her father
would approve and that she herself would gladly undertake a class.
Anyone who had heard the entirely different tone and seen the
entirely different manner in which Mr. Slope had spoken of this
projected institution to the daughter and to the father could not
have failed to own that Mr. Slope was a man of genius. He said
nothing to Mrs. Bold about the hospital sermons and services, nothing
about the exclusion of the old men from the cathedral, nothing about
dilapidation and painting, nothing about carting away the rubbish.
Eleanor had said to herself that certainly she did not like Mr. Slope
personally, but that he was a very active, zealous clergyman and
would no doubt be useful in Barchester. All this paved the way for
much additional misery to Mr. Harding.
Eleanor put on her happiest face as she heard her father on the
stairs, for she thought she had only to congratulate him; but
directly she saw his face she knew that there was but little matter
for congratulation. She had seen him with the same weary look of
sorrow on one or two occasions before, and remembered it well. She
had seen him when he first read that attack upon himself in The
Jupiter which had ultimately caused him to resign the hospital, and
she had seen him also when the archdeacon had persuaded him to remain
there against his own sense of propriety and honour. She knew at a
glance that his spirit was in deep trouble.
"Oh, Papa, what is it?" said she, putting down her boy to crawl upon
"I came to tell you, my dear," said he, "that I am going out to
Plumstead: you won't come with me, I suppose?"
"To Plumstead, Papa? Shall you stay there?"
"I suppose I shall, to-night: I must consult the archdeacon about
this weary hospital. Ah me! I wish I had never thought of it
"Why, Papa, what is the matter?"
"I've been with Mr. Slope, my dear, and he isn't the pleasantest
companion in the world, at least not to me." Eleanor gave a sort of
half-blush, but she was wrong if she imagined that her father in any
way alluded to her acquaintance with Mr. Slope.
"He wants to turn the hospital into a Sunday-school and a preaching-
house, and I suppose he will have his way. I do not feel myself
adapted for such an establishment, and therefore, I suppose, I must
refuse the appointment."
"What would be the harm of the school, Papa?"
"The want of a proper schoolmaster, my dear."
"But that would of course be supplied."
"Mr. Slope wishes to supply it by making me his schoolmaster. But as
I am hardly fit for such work, I intend to decline."
"Oh, Papa! Mr. Slope doesn't intend that. He was here yesterday, and
what he intends -"
"He was here yesterday, was he?" asked Mr. Harding.
"And talking about the hospital?"
"He was saying how glad he would be, and the bishop too, to see you
back there again. And then he spoke about the Sunday-school; and to
tell the truth I agreed with him; and I thought you would have done
so too. Mr. Slope spoke of a school, not inside the hospital, but
just connected with it, of which you would be the patron and visitor;
and I thought you would have liked such a school as that; and I
promised to look after it and to take a class--and it all seemed so
very--. But, oh, Papa! I shall be so miserable if I find I have
"Nothing wrong at all, my dear," said he gently, very gently
rejecting his daughter's caress. There can be nothing wrong in your
wishing to make yourself useful; indeed, you ought to do so by all
means. Everyone must now exert himself who would not choose to go to
the wall." Poor Mr. Harding thus attempted in his misery to preach
the new doctrine to his child. "Himself or herself, it's all the
same," he continued; "you will be quite right, my dear, to do
something of this sort; but--"
I am not quite sure that if I were you I would select Mr. Slope for
"But I never have done so and never shall."
"It would he very wicked of me to speak evil of him, for to tell the
truth I know no evil of him, but I am not quite sure that he is
honest. That he is not gentlemanlike in his manners, of that I am
"I never thought of taking him for my guide, Papa."
"As for myself, my dear," continued he, "we know the old proverb--
'It's bad teaching an old dog tricks.' I must decline the Sunday-
school, and shall therefore probably decline the hospital also. But
I will first see your brother-in-law." So he took up his hat, kissed
the baby, and withdrew, leaving Eleanor in as low spirits as himself.
All this was a great aggravation to his misery. He had so few with
whom to sympathize that he could not afford to be cut off from the
one whose sympathy was of the most value to him. And yet it seemed
probable that this would be the case. He did not own to himself that
he wished his daughter to hate Mr. Slope, yet had she expressed such
a feeling there would have been very little bitterness in the rebuke
he would have given her for so uncharitable a state of mind. The
fact, however, was that she was on friendly terms with Mr. Slope,
that she coincided with his views, adhered at once to his plans, and
listened with delight to his teaching. Mr. Harding hardly wished his
daughter to hate the man, but he would have preferred that to her
He walked away to the inn to order a fly, went home to put up his
carpet-bag, and then started for Plumstead. There was, at any rate,
no danger that the archdeacon would fraternize with Mr. Slope; but
then he would recommend internecine war, public appeals, loud
reproaches, and all the paraphernalia of open battle. Now that
alternative was hardly more to Mr. Harding's taste than the other.
When Mr. Harding reached the parsonage, he found that the archdeacon
was out and would not be home till dinnertime, so he began his
complaint to his elder daughter. Mrs. Grantly entertained quite as
strong an antagonism to Mr. Slope as did her husband; she was also
quite as alive to the necessity of combating the Proudie faction, of
supporting the old church interest of the close, of keeping in her
own set such of the loaves and fishes as duly belonged to it; and was
quite as well prepared as her lord to carry on the battle without
giving or taking quarter. Not that she was a woman prone to
quarrelling, or ill-inclined to live at peace with her clerical
neighbours, but she felt, as did the archdeacon, that the presence of
Mr. Slope in Barchester was an insult to everyone connected with the
late bishop and that his assumed dominion in the diocese was a
spiritual injury to her husband. Hitherto people had little guessed
how bitter Mrs. Grantly could be. She lived on the best of terms
with all the rectors' wives around her. She had been popular with
all the ladies connected with the close. Though much the wealthiest
of the ecclesiastical matrons of the county, she had so managed her
affairs that her carriage and horses had given umbrage to none. She
had never thrown herself among the county grandees so as to excite
the envy of other clergymen's wives. She never talked too loudly of
earls and countesses, or boasted that she gave her governess sixty
pounds a year, or her cook seventy. Mrs. Grantly had lived the life
of a wise, discreet, peace-making woman, and the people of Barchester
were surprised at the amount of military vigour she displayed as
general of the feminine Grantlyite forces.
Mrs. Grantly soon learned that her sister Eleanor had promised to
assist Mr. Slope in the affairs of the hospital school, and it was on
this point that her attention first fixed itself.
"How can Eleanor endure him?" said she.
"He is a very crafty man," said her father, "and his craft has been
successful in making Eleanor think that he is a meek, charitable,
good clergyman. God forgive me, if I wrong him, but such is not his
true character in my opinion."
"His true character, indeed!" said she with something approaching
scorn for her father's moderation. "I only hope he won't have craft
enough to make Eleanor forget herself and her position."
"Do you mean marry him?" said he, startled out of his usual demeanour
by the abruptness and horror of so dreadful a proposition.
"What is there so improbable in it? Of course that would be his own
object if he thought he had any chance of success. Eleanor has a
thousand a year entirely at her own disposal, and what better fortune
could fall to Mr. Slope's lot than the transferring of the disposal
of such a fortune to himself?"
"But you can't think she likes him, Susan?"
"Why not?" said Susan. "Why shouldn't she like him? He's just the
sort of man to get on with a woman left, as she is, with no one to
look after her."
"Look after her!" said the unhappy father; "don't we look after her?"
"Ah, Papa, how innocent you are! Of course it was to be expected
that Eleanor should marry again. I should be the last to advise her
against it, if she would only wait the proper time and then marry at
least a gentleman."
"But you don't really mean to say that you suppose Eleanor has ever
thought of marrying Mr. Slope? Why, Mr. Bold has only been dead a
"Eighteen months," said his daughter. "But I don't suppose Eleanor
has ever thought about it. It is very probable, though, that he has;
and that he will try and make her do so; and that he will succeed
too, if we don't take care what we are about."
This was quite a new phase of the affair to poor Mr. Harding. To
have thrust upon him as his son-in-law, as the husband of his
favourite child, the only man in the world whom he really positively
disliked would be a misfortune which he felt he would not know how to
endure patiently. But then, could there be any ground for so
dreadful a surmise? In all worldly matters he was apt to look upon
the opinion of his eldest daughter as one generally sound and
trustworthy. In her appreciation of character, of motives, and the
probable conduct both of men and women she was usually not far wrong.
She had early foreseen the marriage of Eleanor and John Bold; she had
at a glance deciphered the character of the new bishop and his
chaplain; could it possibly be that her present surmise should ever
come forth as true?
"But you don't think that she likes him?" said Mr. Harding again.
"Well, Papa, I can't say that I think she dislikes him as she ought
to do. Why is he visiting there as a confidential friend, when he
never ought to have been admitted inside the house? Why is it that
she speaks to him about your welfare and your position as she clearly
has done? At the bishop's party the other night I saw her talking to
him for half an hour at the stretch."
"I thought Mr. Slope seemed to talk to nobody there but that daughter
of Stanhope's," said Mr. Harding, wishing to defend his child.
"Oh, Mr. Slope is a cleverer man than you think of, Papa, and keeps
more than one iron in the fire."
To give Eleanor her due, any suspicion as to the slightest
inclination on her part towards Mr. Slope was a wrong to her. She
had no more idea of marrying Mr. Slope than she had of marrying the
bishop, and the idea that Mr. Slope would present himself as a suitor
had never occurred to her. Indeed, to give her her due again, she
had never thought about suitors since her husband's death. But
nevertheless it was true that she had overcome all that repugnance to
the man which was so strongly felt for him by the rest of the Grantly
faction. She had forgiven him his sermon. She had forgiven him his
Low Church tendencies, his Sabbath-schools, and puritanical
observances. She had forgiven his pharisaical arrogance and even his
greasy face and oily, vulgar manners. Having agreed to overlook such
offences as these, why should she not in time be taught to regard Mr.
Slope as a suitor?
And as to him, it must also be affirmed that he was hitherto equally
innocent of the crime imputed to him. How it had come to pass that a
man whose eyes were generally so widely open to everything around him
had not perceived that this young widow was rich as well as beautiful
cannot probably now be explained. But such was the fact. Mr. Slope
had ingratiated himself with Mrs. Bold, merely as he had done with
other ladies, in order to strengthen his party in the city. He
subsequently amended his error, but it was not till after the
interview between him and Mr. Harding.
The New Champion
The archdeacon did not return to the parsonage till close upon the
hour of dinner, and there was therefore no time to discuss matters
before that important ceremony. He seemed to be in an especial good
humour and welcomed his father-in-law with a sort of jovial
earnestness that was usual with him when things on which be was
intent were going on as he would have them.
"It's all settled, my dear," said he to his wife as he washed his
hands in his dressing-room, while she, according to her wont, sat
listening in the bedroom; "Arabin has agreed to accept the living.
He'll be here next week." And the archdeacon scrubbed his hands and
rubbed his face with a violent alacrity, which showed that Arabin's
coming was a great point gained.
"Will he come here to Plumstead?" said the wife.
"He has promised to stay a month with us," said the archdeacon, "so
that he may see what his parish is like. You'll like Arabin very
much. He's a gentleman in every respect and full of humour."
"He's very queer, isn't he?" asked the lady.
"Well--he is a little odd in some of his fancies, but there's nothing
about him you won't like. He is as staunch a churchman as there is
at Oxford. I really don't know what we should do without Arabin.
It's a great thing for me to have him so near me, and if anything can
put Slope down, Arabin will do it."
The Reverend Francis Arabin was a fellow of Lazarus, the favoured
disciple of the great Dr. Gwynne, a High Churchman at all points--so
high, indeed, that at one period of his career he had all but toppled
over into the cesspool of Rome--a poet and also a polemical writer, a
great pet in the common-rooms at Oxford, an eloquent clergyman, a
droll, odd, humorous, energetic, conscientious man, and, as the
archdeacon had boasted of him, a thorough gentleman. As he will
hereafter be brought more closely to our notice, it is now only
necessary to add that he had just been presented to the vicarage of
St. Ewold by Dr. Grantly, in whose gift as archdeacon the living lay.
St. Ewold is a parish lying just without the city of Barchester. The
suburbs of the new town, indeed, are partly within its precincts, and
the pretty church and parsonage are not much above a mile distant
from the city gate.
St Ewold is not a rich piece of preferment--it is worth some three or
four hundred a year at most, and has generally been held by a
clergyman attached to the cathedral choir. The archdeacon, however,
felt, when the living on this occasion became vacant, that it
imperatively behoved him to aid the force of his party with some
tower of strength, if any such tower could be got to occupy St.
Ewold's. He had discussed the matter with his brethren in
Barchester, not in any weak spirit as the holder of patronage to be
used for his own or his family's benefit, but as one to whom was
committed a trust on the due administration of which much of the
church's welfare might depend. He had submitted to them the name of
Mr. Arabin as though the choice had rested with them all in conclave,
and they had unanimously admitted that, if Mr. Arabin would accept
St. Ewold's, no better choice could possibly be made.
If Mr. Arabin would accept St. Ewold's! There lay the difficulty.
Mr. Arabin was a man standing somewhat prominently before the world,
that is, before the Church of England world. He was not a rich man,
it is true, for he held no preferment but his fellowship, but he was
a man not over-anxious for riches, not married of course, and one
whose time was greatly taken up in discussing, both in print and on
platforms, the privileges and practices of the church to which he
belonged. As the archdeacon had done battle for its temporalities,
so did Mr. Arabin do battle for its spiritualities, and both had done
so conscientiously; that is, not so much each for his own benefit as
for that of others.
Holding such a position as Mr. Arabin did, there was much reason to
doubt whether he would consent to become the parson of St. Ewold's,
and Dr. Grantly had taken the trouble to go himself to Oxford on the
matter. Dr. Gwynne and Dr. Grantly together had succeeded in
persuading this eminent divine that duty required him to go to
Barchester. There were wheels within wheels in this affair. For
some time past Mr. Arabin had been engaged in a tremendous
controversy with no less a person than Mr. Slope, respecting the
apostolic succession. These two gentlemen had never seen each other,
but they had been extremely bitter in print. Mr. Slope had
endeavoured to strengthen his cause by calling Mr. Arabin an owl, and
Mr. Arabin had retaliated by hinting that Mr. Slope was an infidel.
This battle had been commenced in the columns of The Jupiter, a
powerful newspaper, the manager of which was very friendly to Mr.
Slope's view of the case. The matter, however, had become too
tedious for the readers of The Jupiter, and a little note had
therefore been appended to one of Mr. Slope's most telling
rejoinders, in which it had been stated that no further letters from
the reverend gentlemen could be inserted except as advertisements.
Other methods of publication were, however, found, less expensive
than advertisements in The Jupiter, and the war went on merrily. Mr.
Slope declared that the main part of the consecration of a clergyman
was the self-devotion of the inner man to the duties of the ministry.
Mr. Arabin contended that a man was not consecrated at all, had,
indeed, no single attribute of a clergyman, unless he became so
through the imposition of some bishop's hands, who had become a
bishop through the imposition of other hands, and so on in a direct
line to one of the apostles. Each had repeatedly hung the other on
the horns of a dilemma, but neither seemed to be a whit the worse for
the hanging; and so the war went on merrily.
Whether or no the near neighbourhood of the foe may have acted in any
way as an inducement to Mr. Arabin to accept the living of St. Ewold
we will not pretend to say, but it had at any rate been settled in
Dr. Gwynne's library, at Lazarus, that he would accept it and that he
would lend his assistance towards driving the enemy out of
Barchester, or, at any rate, silencing him while he remained there.
Mr. Arabin intended to keep his rooms at Oxford and to have the
assistance of a curate at St. Ewold, but he promised to give as much
time as possible to the neighbourhood of Barchester, and from so
great a man Dr. Grantly was quite satisfied with such a promise. It
was no small part of the satisfaction derivable from such an
arrangement that Bishop Proudie would be forced to institute into a
living immediately under his own nose the enemy of his favourite
All through dinner the archdeacon's good humour shone brightly in his
face. He ate of the good things heartily, he drank wine with his
wife and daughter, he talked pleasantly of his doings at Oxford, told
his father-in-law that he ought to visit Dr. Gwynne at Lazarus, and
launched out again in praise of Mr. Arabin.
"Is Mr. Arabin married, Papa?" asked Griselda.
"No, my dear, the fellow of a college is never married."
"Is he a young man, Papa?"
"About forty, I believe," said the archdeacon.
"Oh!" said Griselda. Had her father said eighty, Mr. Arabin would
not have appeared to her to be very much older.
When the two gentlemen were left alone over their wine, Mr. Harding
told his tale of woe. But even this, sad as it was, did not much
diminish the archdeacon's good humour, though it greatly added to his
"He can't do it," said Dr. Grantly over and over again as his father-
in-law explained to him the terms on which the new warden of the
hospital was to be appointed; "he can't do it. What he says is not
worth the trouble of listening to. He can't alter the duties of the
"Who can't?" asked the ex-warden.
"Neither the bishop nor the chaplain, nor yet the bishop's wife, who,
I take it, has really more to say to such matters than either of the
other two. The whole body corporate of the palace together have no
power to turn the warden of the hospital into a Sunday-schoolmaster."
"But the bishop has the power to appoint whom he pleases, and--"
"I don't know that; I rather think he'll find he has no such power.
Let him try it, and see what the press will say. For once we shall
have the popular cry on our side. But Proudie, ass as he is, knows
the world too well to get such a hornet's nest about his ears."
Mr. Harding winced at the idea of the press. He had had enough of
that sort of publicity, and was unwilling to be shown up a second
time either as a monster or as a martyr. He gently remarked that he
hoped the newspapers would not get hold of his name again and then
suggested that perhaps it would be better that he should abandon his
object. "I am getting old," said he, "and after all I doubt whether
I am fit to undertake new duties."
"New duties?" said the archdeacon; "don't I tell you there shall be
no new duties?"
"Or perhaps old duties either," said Mr. Harding; "I think I will
remain content as I am." The picture of Mr. Slope carting away the
rubbish was still present to his mind.
The archdeacon drank off his glass of claret and prepared himself to
be energetic. "I do hope," said he, "that you are not going to be so
weak as to allow such a man as Mr. Slope to deter you from doing what
you know it is your duty to do. You know it is your duty to resume
your place at the hospital now that parliament has so settled the
stipend as to remove those difficulties which induced you to resign
it. You cannot deny this, and should your timidity now prevent you
from doing so, your conscience will hereafter never forgive you," and
as he finished this clause of his speech, he pushed over the bottle
to his companion.
"Your conscience will never forgive you," he continued. "You
resigned the place from conscientious scruples, scruples which I
greatly respected, though I did not share them. All your friends
respected them, and you left your old house as rich in reputation as
you were ruined in fortune. It is now expected that you will return.
Dr. Gwynne was saying only the other day--"
"Dr. Gwynne does not reflect how much older a man I am now than when
he last saw me."
"Old--nonsense," said the archdeacon; "you never thought yourself old
till you listened to the impudent trash of that coxcomb at the
"I shall be sixty-five if I live till November," said Mr. Harding.
"And seventy-five, if you live till November ten years," said the
archdeacon. "And you bid fair to be as efficient then as you were
ten years ago. But for heaven's sake let us have no pretence in this
matter. Your plea of old age is a pretence. But you're not drinking
your wine. It is only a pretence. The fact is, you are half-afraid
of this Slope and would rather subject yourself to comparative
poverty and discomfort than come to blows with a man who will trample
on you, if you let him."
"I certainly don't like coming to blows, if I can help it."
"Nor I neither--but sometimes we can't help it. This man's object is
to induce you to refuse the hospital, that he may put some creature
of his own into it; that he may show his power and insult us all by
insulting you, whose cause and character are so intimately bound up
with that of the chapter. You owe it to us all to resist him in
this, even if you have no solicitude for yourself. But surely, for
your own sake, you will not be so lily-livered as to fall into this
trap which he has baited for you and let him take the very bread out
of your mouth without a struggle."
Mr. Harding did not like being called lily-livered and was rather
inclined to resent it. "I doubt there is any true courage," said he,
"in squabbling for money."
"If honest men did not squabble for money, in this wicked world of
ours, the dishonest men would get it all, and I do not see that the
cause of virtue would be much improved. No--we must use the means
which we have. If we were to carry your argument home, we might give
away every shilling of revenue which the church has, and I presume
you are not prepared to say that the church would be strengthened by
such a sacrifice." The archdeacon filled his glass and then emptied
it, drinking with much reverence a silent toast to the well-being and
permanent security of those temporalities which were so dear to his
"I think all quarrels between a clergyman and his bishop should be
avoided," said Mr. Harding.
"I think so too, but it is quite as much the duty of the bishop to
look to that as of his inferior. I tell you what, my friend; I'll
see the bishop in this matter--that is, if you will allow me--and you
may be sure I will not compromise you. My opinion is that all this
trash about the Sunday-schools and the sermons has originated wholly
with Slope and Mrs. Proudie and that the bishop knows nothing about
it. The bishop can't very well refuse to see me, and I'll come upon
him when he has neither his wife nor his chaplain by him. I think
you'll find that it will end in his sending you the appointment
without any condition whatever. And as to the seats in the
cathedral, we may safely leave that to Mr. Dean. I believe the fool
positively thinks that the bishop could walk away with the cathedral
if he pleased."
And so the matter was arranged between them. Mr. Harding had come
expressly for advice, and therefore felt himself bound to take the
advice given him. He had known, moreover, beforehand that the
archdeacon would not hear of his giving the matter up, and
accordingly, though he had in perfect good faith put forward his own
views, he was prepared to yield.
They therefore went into the drawing-room in good humour with each
other, and the evening passed pleasantly in prophetic discussions on
the future wars of Arabin and Slope. The frogs and the mice would be
nothing to them, nor the angers of Agamemnon and Achilles. How the
archdeacon rubbed his hands and plumed himself on the success of his
last move. He could not himself descend into the arena with Slope,
but Arabin would have no such scruples. Arabin was exactly the man
for such work, and the only man whom he knew that was fit for it.
The archdeacon's good humour and high buoyancy continued till, when
reclining on his pillow, Mrs. Grantly commenced to give him her view
of the state of affairs at Barchester. And then certainly he was
startled. The last words he said that night were as follows:
"If she does, by heaven I'll never speak to her again. She dragged
me into the mire once, but I'll not pollute myself with such filth as
that--" And the archdeacon gave a shudder which shook the whole
room, so violently was he convulsed with the thought which then
agitated his mind.
Now in this matter the widow Bold was scandalously ill-treated by her
relatives. She had spoken to the man three or four times, and had
expressed her willingness to teach in a Sunday-school. Such was the
full extent of her sins in the matter of Mr. Slope. Poor Eleanor!
But time will show.
The next morning Mr. Harding returned to Barchester, no further word
having been spoken in his hearing respecting Mr. Slope's acquaintance
with his younger daughter. But he observed that the archdeacon at
breakfast was less cordial than he had been on the preceding evening.
The Widow's Suitors
Mr. Slope lost no time in availing himself of the bishop's permission
to see Mr. Quiverful, and it was in his interview with this worthy
pastor that he first learned that Mrs. Bold was worth the wooing. He
rode out to Puddingdale to communicate to the embryo warden the
goodwill of the bishop in his favour, and during the discussion on
the matter it was not unnatural that the pecuniary resources of Mr.
Harding and his family should become the subject of remark.
Mr. Quiverful with his fourteen children and his four hundred a year
was a very poor man, and the prospect of this new preferment, which
was to be held together with his living, was very grateful to him.
To what clergyman so circumstanced would not such a prospect be very
grateful? But Mr. Quiverful had long been acquainted with Mr.
Harding, and had received kindness at his hands, so that his heart
mis-gave him as he thought of supplanting a friend at the hospital.
Nevertheless, he was extremely civil, cringingly civil, to Mr. Slope;
treated him quite as the great man; entreated this great man to do
him the honour to drink a glass of sherry, at which, as it was very
poor Marsala, the now pampered Slope turned up his nose; and ended by
declaring his extreme obligation to the bishop and Mr. Slope and his
great desire to accept the hospital, if--if it were certainly the
case that Mr. Harding had refused it.
What man as needy as Mr. Quiverful would have been more
"Mr. Harding did positively refuse it," said Mr. Slope with a certain
air of offended dignity, "when he heard of the conditions to which
the appointment is now subjected. Of course you understand, Mr.
Quiverful, that the same conditions will be imposed on yourself."
Mr. Quiverful cared nothing for the conditions. He would have
undertaken to preach any number of sermons Mr. Slope might have
chosen to dictate and to pass every remaining hour of his Sundays
within the walls of a Sunday-school. What sacrifices, or at any
rate, what promises would have been too much to make for such an
addition to his income and for such a house! But his mind still
recurred to Mr. Harding.
"To be sure," said he; "Mr. Harding's daughter is very rich, and why
should he trouble himself with the hospital?"
"You mean Mrs. Grantly," said Slope.
"I meant his widowed daughter," said the other. "Mrs. Bold has
twelve hundred a year of her own, and I suppose Mr. Harding means to
live with her."
"Twelve hundred a year of her own!" said Slope, and very shortly
afterwards took his leave, avoiding, as far as it was possible for
him to do, any further allusion to the hospital. Twelve hundred a
year! said he to himself as he rode slowly home. If it were the fact
that Mrs. Bold had twelve hundred a year of her own, what a fool
would he be to oppose her father's return to his old place. The
train of Mr. Slope's ideas will probably be plain to all my readers.
Why should he not make the twelve hundred a year his own? And if he
did so, would it not be well for him to have a father-in-law
comfortably provided with the good things of this world? Would it
not, moreover, be much more easy for him to gain the daughter if he
did all in his power to forward the father's views?
These questions presented themselves to him in a very forcible way,
and yet there were many points of doubt. If he resolved to restore
to Mr. Harding his former place, he must take the necessary steps for
doing so at once; he must immediately talk over the bishop, quarrel
on the matter with Mrs. Proudie whom he knew he could not talk over,
and let Mr. Quiverful know that he had been a little too precipitate
as to Mr. Harding's positive refusal. That he could effect all this
he did not doubt, but he did not wish to effect it for nothing. He
did not wish to give way to Mr. Harding and then be rejected by the
daughter. He did not wish to lose one influential friend before he
had gained another.
And thus he rode home, meditating many things in his mind. It
occurred to him that Mrs. Bold was sister-in-law to the archdeacon
and that not even for twelve hundred a year would he submit to that
imperious man. A rich wife was a great desideratum to him, but
success in his profession was still greater; there were, moreover,
other rich women who might be willing to become wives; and after all,
this twelve hundred a year might, when inquired into, melt away into
some small sum utterly beneath his notice. Then also he remembered
that Mrs. Bold had a son.
Another circumstance also much influenced him, though it was one
which may almost be said to have influenced him against his will.
The vision of the Signora Neroni was perpetually before his eyes. It
would be too much to say that Mr. Slope was lost in love, but yet he
thought, and kept continually thinking, that he had never seen so
beautiful a woman. He was a man whose nature was open to such
impulses, and the wiles of the Italianized charmer had been
thoroughly successful in imposing upon his thoughts. We will not
talk about his heart: not that he had no heart, but because his heart
had little to do with his present feelings. His taste had been
pleased, his eyes charmed, and his vanity gratified. He had been
dazzled by a sort of loveliness which he had never before seen and
had been caught by an easy, free, voluptuous manner which was
perfectly new to him. He had never been so tempted before, and the
temptation was now irresistible. He had not owned to himself that he
cared for this woman more than for others around him, but yet he
thought often of the time when he might see her next and made, almost
unconsciously, little cunning plans for seeing her frequently.
He had called at Dr. Stanhope's house the day after the bishop's
party, and then the warmth of his admiration had been fed with fresh
fuel. If the signora had been kind in her manner and flattering in
her speech when lying upon the bishop's sofa, with the eyes of so
many on her, she had been much more so in her mother's drawing-room,
with no one present but her sister to repress either her nature or
her art. Mr. Slope had thus left her quite bewildered, and could not
willingly admit into his brain any scheme a part of which would be
the necessity of his abandoning all further special friendship with
And so he slowly rode along, very meditative.
And here the author must beg it to be remembered that Mr. Slope was
not in all things a bad man. His motives, like those of most men,
were mixed, and though his conduct was generally very different from
that which we would wish to praise, it was actuated perhaps as often
as that of the majority of the world by a desire to do his duty. He
believed in the religion which he taught, harsh, unpalatable,
uncharitable as that religion was. He believed those whom he wished
to get under his hoof, the Grantlys and Gwynnes of the church, to be
the enemies of that religion. He believed himself to be a pillar of
strength, destined to do great things, and with that subtle, selfish,
ambiguous sophistry to which the minds of all men are so subject, he
had taught himself to think that in doing much for the promotion of
his own interests, he was doing much also for the promotion of
religion. But Mr. Slope had never been an immoral man. Indeed, he
had resisted temptations to immorality with a strength of purpose
that was creditable to him. He had early in life devoted himself to
works which were not compatible with the ordinary pleasures of youth,
and he had abandoned such pleasures not without a struggle. It must
therefore be conceived that he did not admit to himself that he
warmly admired the beauty of a married woman without heart-felt
stings of conscience, and to pacify that conscience he had to teach
himself that the nature of his admiration was innocent.
And thus he rode along meditative and ill at ease. His conscience
had not a word to say against his choosing the widow and her fortune.
That he looked upon as a godly work rather than otherwise; as a deed
which, if carried through, would redound to his credit as a
Christian. On that side lay no future remorse, no conduct which he
might probably have to forget, no inward stings. If it should turn
out to be really the fact that Mrs. Bold had twelve hundred a year at
her own disposal, Mr. Slope would rather look upon it as a duty which
he owed his religion to make himself the master of the wife and the
money; as a duty too, in which some amount of self-sacrifice would be
necessary. He would have to give up his friendship with the signora,
his resistance to Mr. Harding, his antipathy--no, he found on mature
self-examination that he could not bring himself to give up his
antipathy to Dr. Grantly. He would marry the lady as the enemy of
her brother-in-law if such an arrangement suited her; if not, she
must look elsewhere for a husband.
It was with such resolve as this that he reached Barchester. He
would at once ascertain what the truth might be as to the lady's
wealth, and having done this he would be ruled by circumstances in
his conduct respecting the hospital. If he found that he could turn
round and secure the place for Mr. Harding without much self-
sacrifice, he would do so; but if not, he would woo the daughter in
opposition to the father. But in no case would he succumb to the
He saw his horse taken round to the stable and immediately went forth
to commence his inquiries. To give Mr. Slope his due, he was not a
man who ever let much grass grow under his feet.
Poor Eleanor! She was doomed to be the intended victim of more
schemes than one.
About the time that Mr. Slope was visiting the vicar of Puddingdale a
discussion took place respecting her charms and wealth at Dr.
Stanhope's house in the close. There had been morning callers there,
and people had told some truth and also some falsehood respecting the
property which John Bold had left behind him. By degrees the
visitors went, and as the doctor went with them, and as the doctor's
wife had not made her appearance, Charlotte Stanhope and her brother
were left together. He was sitting idly at the table, scrawling
caricatures of Barchester notables, then yawning, then turning over a
book or two, and evidently at a loss how to kill his time without
"You haven't done much, Bertie, about getting any orders," said his
"Orders!" said he; "who on earth is there at Barchester to give one
orders? Who among the people here could possibly think it worth his
while to have his head done into marble?"
"Then you mean to give up your profession," said she.
"No, I don't," said he, going on with some absurd portrait of the
bishop. "Look at that, Lotte; isn't it the little man all over,
apron and all? I'd go on with my profession at once, as you call it,
if the governor would set me up with a studio in London; but as to
sculpture at Barchester--I suppose half the people here don't know
what a torso means."
"The governor will not give you a shilling to start you in London,"
said Lotte. "Indeed, he can't give you what would be sufficient, for
he has not got it. But you might start yourself very well, if you
"How the deuce am I to do it?" said he.
"To tell you the truth, Bertie, you'll never make a penny by any
"That's what I often think myself," said he, not in the least
offended. "Some men have a great gift of making money, but they
can't spend it. Others can't put two shillings together, but they
have a great talent for all sorts of outlay. I begin to think that
my genius is wholly in the latter line."
"How do you mean to live then?" asked the sister.
"I suppose I must regard myself as a young raven and look for
heavenly manna; besides, we have all got something when the governor
"Yes--you'll have enough to supply yourself with gloves and boots;
that is, if the Jews have not got the possession of it all. I
believe they have the most of it already. I wonder, Bertie, at your
indifference; that you with your talents and personal advantages
should never try to settle yourself in life. I look forward with
dread to the time when the governor must go. Mother, and Madeline,
and I--we shall be poor enough, but you will have absolutely
"Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof," said Bertie.
"Will you take my advice?" said his sister.
"Cela depend," said the brother.
"Will you marry a wife with money?"
"At any rate," said he, "I won't marry one without; wives with money
a'nt so easy to get now-a-days; the parsons pick them all up."
"And a parson will pick up the wife I mean for you, if you do not
look quickly about it; the wife I mean is Mrs. Bold."
"Whew-w-w-w!" whistled Bertie, "a widow!"
"She is very beautiful," said Charlotte.
"With a son and heir all ready to my hand," said Bertie. "A baby
that will very likely die," said Charlotte.
"I don't see that," said Bertie. "But however he may live for me--I
don't wish to kill him; only, it must be owned that a ready-made
family is a drawback."
"There is only one after all," pleaded Charlotte.
"And that a very little one, as the maidservant said," rejoined
"Beggars mustn't be choosers, Bertie; you can't have everything."
"God knows I am not unreasonable," said he, "nor yet opinionated, and
if you'll arrange it all for me, Lotte, I'll marry the lady. Only
mark this: the money must be sure and the income at my own disposal,
at any rate for the lady's life."
Charlotte was explaining to her brother that he must make love for
himself if he meant to carry on the matter, and was encouraging him
to do so by warm eulogiums on Eleanor's beauty, when the signora was
brought into the drawing-room. When at home, and subject to the gaze
of none but her own family, she allowed herself to be dragged about
by two persons, and her two bearers now deposited her on her sofa.
She was not quite so grand in her apparel as she had been at the
bishop's party, but yet she was dressed with much care, and though
there was a look of care and pain about her eyes, she was, even by
daylight, extremely beautiful.
"Well, Madeline, so I'm going to be married," Bertie began as soon as
the servants had withdrawn.
"There's no other foolish thing left that you haven't done," said
Madeline, "and therefore you are quite right to try that."
"Oh, you think it's a foolish thing, do you?" said he. "There's
Lotte advising me to marry by all means. But on such a subject your
opinion ought to be the best; you have experience to guide you."
"Yes, I have," said Madeline with a sort of harsh sadness in her
tone, which seemed to say--What is it to you if I am sad? I have
never asked your sympathy.
Bertie was sorry when he saw that she was hurt by what he said, and
he came and squatted on the floor close before her face to make his
peace with her.
"Come, Mad, I was only joking; you know that. But in sober earnest
Lotte is advising me to marry. She wants me to marry this Mrs. Bold.
She's a widow with lots of tin, a fine baby, a beautiful complexion,
and the George and Dragon hotel up in the High Street. By Jove,
Lotte, if I marry her, I'll keep the public-house myself--it's just
the life to suit me."
"What," said Madeline, "that vapid, swarthy creature in the widow's
cap, who looked as though her clothes had been stuck on her back with
a pitchfork!" The signora never allowed any woman to be beautiful.
"Instead of being vapid," said Lotte, "I call her a very lovely
woman. She was by far the loveliest woman in the rooms the other
night; that is, excepting you, Madeline."
Even the compliment did not soften the asperity of the maimed beauty.
"Every woman is charming according to Lotte," she said; "I never knew
an eye with so little true appreciation. In the first place, what
woman on earth could look well in such a thing as that she had on her
"Of course she wears a widow's cap, but she'll put that off when
Bertie marries her."
"I don't see any of course in it," said Madeline. "The death of
twenty husbands should not make me undergo such a penance. It is as
much a relic of paganism as the sacrifice of a Hindu woman at the
burning of her husband's body. If not so bloody, it is quite as
barbarous and quite as useless."
"But you don't blame her for that," said Bertie. "She does it
because it's the custom of the country. People would think ill of
her if she didn't do it."
"Exactly," said Madeline. "She is just one of those English
nonentities who would tie her head up in a bag for three months every
summer, if her mother and her grandmother had tied up their heads
before her. It would never occur to her to think whether there was
any use in submitting to such a nuisance."
"It's very hard in a country like England, for a young woman to set
herself in opposition to prejudices of that sort," said the prudent
"What you mean is that it's very hard for a fool not to be a fool,"
Bertie Stanhope had been so much knocked about the world from his
earliest years that he had not retained much respect for the gravity
of English customs, but even to his mind an idea presented itself
that, perhaps in a wife, true British prejudice would not in the long
run be less agreeable than Anglo-Italian freedom from restraint. He
did not exactly say so, but he expressed the idea in another way.
"I fancy," said he, "that if I were to die, and then walk, I should
think that my widow looked better in one of those caps than any other
kind of head-dress."
"Yes--and you'd fancy also that she could do nothing better than shut
herself up and cry for you, or else burn herself. But she would
think differently. She'd probably wear one of those horrid she-
helmets, because she'd want the courage not to do so; but she'd wear
it with a heart longing for the time when she might be allowed to
throw it off. I hate such shallow false pretences. For my part I
would let the world say what it pleased and show no grief if I felt
none--and perhaps not, if I did."
"But wearing a widow's cap won't lessen her fortune," said Charlotte.
"Or increase it," said Madeline. "Then why on earth does she do it?"
"But Lotte's object is to make her put it off," said Bertie.
"If it be true that she has got twelve hundred a year quite at her
own disposal, and she be not utterly vulgar in her manners, I would
advise you to marry her. I dare say she's to be had for the asking:
and as you are not going to marry her for love, it doesn't much
matter whether she is good-looking or not. As to your really
marrying a woman for love, I don't believe you are fool enough for
"Oh, Madeline!" exclaimed her sister.
"And oh, Charlotte!" said the other.
"You don't mean to say that no man can love a woman unless he be a
"I mean very much the same thing--that any man who is willing to
sacrifice his interest to get possession of a pretty face is a fool.
Pretty faces are to be had cheaper than that. I hate your mawkish
sentimentality, Lotte. You know as well as I do in what way husbands
and wives generally live together; you know how far the warmth of
conjugal affection can withstand the trial of a bad dinner, of a
rainy day, or of the least privation which poverty brings with it;
you know what freedom a man claims for himself, what slavery he would
exact from his wife if he could! And you know also how wives
generally obey. Marriage means tyranny on one side and deceit on the
other. I say that a man is a fool to sacrifice his interests for
such a bargain. A woman, too generally, has no other way of living."
"But Bertie has no other way of living," said Charlotte.
"Then, in God's name, let him marry Mrs. Bold," said Madeline. And
so it was settled between them.
But let the gentle-hearted reader be under no apprehension
whatsoever. It is not destined that Eleanor shall marry Mr. Slope or
Bertie Stanhope. And here perhaps it may be allowed to the novelist
to explain his views on a very important point in the art of telling
tales. He ventures to reprobate that system which goes so far to
violate all proper confidence between the author and his readers by
maintaining nearly to the end of the third volume a mystery as to the
fate of their favourite personage. Nay, more, and worse than this is
too frequently done. Have not often the profoundest efforts of
genius been used to baffle the aspirations of the reader, to raise
false hopes and false fears, and to give rise to expectations which
are never to be realized? Are not promises all but made of
delightful horrors, in lieu of which the writer produces nothing but
most commonplace realities in his final chapter? And is there not a
species of deceit in this to which the honesty of the present age
should lend no countenance?
And what can be the worth of that solicitude which a peep into the
third volume can utterly dissipate? What the value of those literary
charms which are absolutely destroyed by their enjoyment? When we
have once learnt what was that picture before which was hung Mrs.
Ratcliffe's solemn curtain, we feel no further interest about either
the frame or the veil. They are to us merely a receptacle for old
bones, an inappropriate coffin, which we would wish to have decently
buried out of our sight.
And then how grievous a thing it is to have the pleasure of your
novel destroyed by the ill-considered triumph of a previous reader.
"Oh, you needn't be alarmed for Augusta, of course she accepts
Gustavus in the end." "How very ill-natured you are, Susan," says
Kitty with tears in her eyes: "I don't care a bit about it now."
Dear Kitty, if you will read my book, you may defy the ill-nature of
your sister. There shall be no secret that she can tell you. Nay,
take the third volume if you please--learn from the last pages all
the results of our troubled story, and the story shall have lost none
of its interest, if indeed there be any interest in it to lose.
Our doctrine is that the author and the reader should move along
together in full confidence with each other. Let the personages of
the drama undergo ever so complete a comedy of errors among
themselves, but let the spectator never mistake the Syracusan for the
Ephesian; otherwise he is one of the dupes, and the part of a dupe is
I would not for the value of this chapter have it believed by a
single reader that my Eleanor could bring herself to marry Mr. Slope,
or that she should be sacrificed to a Bertie Stanhope. But among the
good folk of Barchester many believed both the one and the other.
"Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle, dum, dum, dum," said or sung Eleanor
"Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle, dum, dum, dum," continued Mary Bold,
taking up the second part in this concerted piece.
The only audience at the concert was the baby, who however gave such
vociferous applause that the performers, presuming it to amount to an
encore, commenced again.
"Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle, dum, dum, dum: hasn't he got lovely
legs?" said the rapturous mother.
"H'm 'm 'm 'm 'm," simmered Mary, burying her lips in the little
fellow's fat neck, by way of kissing him.
"H'm 'm 'm 'm 'm," simmered the mamma, burying her lips also in his
fat, round, short legs. "He's a dawty little bold darling, so he is;
and he has the nicest little pink legs in all the world, so he has;"
and the simmering and the kissing went on over again, as though the
ladies were very hungry and determined to eat him.
"Well, then, he's his own mother's own darling: well, he shall--oh,
oh--Mary, Mary--did you ever see? What am I to do? My naughty,
naughty, naughty, naughty little Johnny." All these energetic
exclamations were elicited by the delight of the mother in finding
that her son was strong enough and mischievous enough to pull all her
hair out from under her cap. "He's been and pulled down all Mamma's
hair, and he's the naughtiest, naughtiest, naughtiest little man that
ever, ever, ever, ever, ever--"
A regular service of baby worship was going on. Mary Bold was
sitting on a low easy chair, with the boy in her lap, and Eleanor was
kneeling before the object of her idolatry. As she tried to cover up
the little fellow's face with her long, glossy, dark brown locks, and
permitted him to pull them hither and thither as he would, she looked
very beautiful in spite of the widow's cap which she still wore.
There was a quiet, enduring, grateful sweetness about her face which
grew so strongly upon those who knew her, as to make the great praise
of her beauty which came from her old friends appear marvellously
exaggerated to those who were only slightly acquainted with her. Her
loveliness was like that of many landscapes, which require to be
often seen to be fully enjoyed. There was a depth of dark clear
brightness in her eyes which was lost upon a quick observer, a
character about her mouth which only showed itself to those with whom
she familiarly conversed, a glorious form of head the perfect
symmetry of which required the eye of an artist for its appreciation.
She had none of that dazzling brilliancy, of that voluptuous Rubens
beauty, of that pearly whiteness, and those vermilion tints which
immediately entranced with the power of a basilisk men who came
within reach of Madeline Neroni. It was all but impossible to resist
the signora, but no one was called upon for any resistance towards
Eleanor. You might begin to talk to her as though she were your
sister, and it would not be till your head was on your pillow that
the truth and intensity of her beauty would flash upon you, that the
sweetness of her voice would come upon your ear. A sudden half-hour
with the Neroni was like falling into a pit, an evening spent with
Eleanor like an unexpected ramble in some quiet fields of asphodel.
"We'll cover him up till there shan't be a morsel of his little
'ittle 'ittle 'ittle nose to be seen," said the mother, stretching
her streaming locks over the infant's face. The child screamed with
delight and kicked till Mary Bold was hardly able to hold him.
At this moment the door opened, and Mr. Slope was announced. Up
jumped Eleanor and, with a sudden quick motion of her hands, pushed
back her hair over her shoulders. It would have been perhaps better
for her that she had not, for she thus showed more of her confusion
than she would have done had she remained as she was. Mr. Slope,
however, immediately recognized her loveliness and thought to himself
that, irrespective of her fortune, she would be an inmate that a man
might well desire for his house, a partner for his bosom's care very
well qualified to make care lie easy. Eleanor hurried out of the
room to readjust her cap, muttering some unnecessary apology about
her baby. And while she is gone, we will briefly go back and state
what had been hitherto the results of Mr. Slope's meditations on his
scheme of matrimony.
His inquiries as to the widow's income had at any rate been so far
successful as to induce him to determine to go on with the
speculation. As regarded Mr. Harding, he had also resolved to do
what he could without injury to himself. To Mrs. Proudie he
determined not to speak on the matter, at least not at present. His
object was to instigate a little rebellion on the part of the bishop.
He thought that such a state of things would be advisable, not only
in respect to Messrs. Harding and Quiverful, but also in the affairs
of the diocese generally. Mr. Slope was by no means of opinion that
Dr. Proudie was fit to rule, but he conscientiously thought it wrong
that his brother clergy should be subjected to petticoat government.
He therefore made up his mind to infuse a little of his spirit into
the bishop, sufficient to induce him to oppose his wife, though not
enough to make him altogether insubordinate.
He had therefore taken an opportunity of again speaking to his
lordship about the hospital and had endeavoured to make it appear
that after all it would be unwise to exclude Mr. Harding from the
appointment. Mr. Slope, however, had a harder task than he had
imagined. Mrs. Proudie, anxious to assume to herself as much as
possible of the merit of patronage, had written to Mrs. Quiverful,
requesting her to call at the palace, and had then explained to that
matron, with much mystery, condescension, and dignity, the good that
was in store for her and her progeny. Indeed, Mrs. Proudie had been
so engaged at the very time that Mr. Slope had been doing the same
with the husband at Puddingdale Vicarage, and had thus in a measure
committed herself. The thanks, the humility, the gratitude, the
surprise of Mrs. Quiverful had been very overpowering; she had all
but embraced the knees of her patroness and had promised that the
prayers of fourteen unprovided babes (so Mrs. Quiverful had described
her own family, the eldest of which was a stout young woman of three-
and-twenty) should be put up to heaven morning and evening for the
munificent friend whom God had sent to them. Such incense as this
was not unpleasing to Mrs. Proudie, and she made the most of it. She
offered her general assistance to the fourteen unprovided babes, if,
as she had no doubt, she should find them worthy; expressed a hope
that the eldest of them would be fit to undertake tuition in her
Sabbath-schools; and altogether made herself a very great lady in the
estimation of Mrs. Quiverful.
Having done this, she thought it prudent to drop a few words before
the bishop, letting him know that she had acquainted the Puddingdale
family with their good fortune; so that he might perceive that he
stood committed to the appointment. The husband well understood the
ruse of his wife, but he did not resent it. He knew that she was
taking the patronage out of his hands; he was resolved to put an end
to her interference and reassume his powers. But then he thought
this was not the best time to do it. He put off the evil hour, as
many a man in similar circumstances has done before him.
Such having been the case, Mr. Slope naturally encountered a
difficulty in talking over the bishop, a difficulty indeed which he
found could not be overcome except at the cost of a general outbreak
at the palace. A general outbreak at the present moment might be
good policy, but it also might not. It was at any rate not a step to
be lightly taken. He began by whispering to the bishop that be
feared that public opinion would be against him if Mr. Harding did
not reappear at the hospital. The bishop answered with some warmth
that Mr. Quiverful had been promised the appointment on Mr. Slope's
advice. "Not promised?" said Mr. Slope. "Yes, promised," replied
the bishop, "and Mrs. Proudie has seen Mrs. Quiverful on the
subject." This was quite unexpected on the part of Mr. Slope, but
his presence of mind did not fail him, and he turned the statement to
his own account.
"Ah, my lord," said he, "we shall all be in scrapes if the ladies
This was too much in unison with my lord's feelings to be altogether
unpalatable, and yet such an allusion to interference demanded a
rebuke. My lord was somewhat astounded also, though not altogether
made miserable, by finding that there was a point of difference
between his wife and his chaplain.
"I don't know what you mean by interference," said the bishop mildly.
"When Mrs. Proudie heard that Mr. Quiverful was to be appointed, it
was not unnatural that she should wish to see Mrs. Quiverful about
the schools. I really cannot say that I see any interference."
"I only speak, my lord, for your own comfort," said Slope; "for your
own comfort and dignity in the diocese. I can have no other motive.
As far as personal feelings go, Mrs. Proudie is the best friend I
have. I must always remember that. But still, in my present
position, my first duty is to your lordship."
"I'm sure of that, Mr. Slope; I am quite sure of that;" said the
bishop, mollified: "and you really think that Mr. Harding should have
"Upon my word, I'm inclined to think so. I am quite prepared to take
upon myself the blame of first suggesting Mr. Quiverful's name. But
since doing so, I have found that there is so strong a feeling in the
diocese in favour of Mr. Harding that I think your lordship should
give way. I hear also that Mr. Harding has modified the objections
he first felt to your lordship's propositions. And as to what has
passed between Mrs. Proudie and Mrs. Quiverful, the circumstance may
be a little inconvenient, but I really do not think that that should
weigh in a matter of so much moment."
And thus the poor bishop was left in a dreadfully undecided step as
to what he should do. His mind, however, slightly inclined itself to
the appointment of Mr. Harding, seeing that by such a step he should
have the assistance of Mr. Slope in opposing Mrs. Proudie.
Such was the state of affairs at the palace, when Mr. Slope called at
Mrs. Bold's house and found her playing with her baby. When she ran
out of the room, Mr. Slope began praising the weather to Mary Bold,
then he praised the baby and kissed him, and then he praised the
mother, and then he praised Miss Bold herself. Mrs. Bold, however,
was not long before she came back.
"I have to apologize for calling at so very early an hour," began Mr.
Slope, "but I was really so anxious to speak to you that I hope you
and Miss Bold will excuse me."
Eleanor muttered something in which the words "certainly," and "of
course," and "not early at all," were just audible, and then
apologized for her own appearance, declaring, with a smile, that her
baby was becoming such a big boy that he was quite unmanageable.
"He's a great big naughty boy," said she to the child, "and we must
send him away to a great big rough romping school, where they have
great big rods and do terrible things to naughty boys who don't do
what their own mammas tell them;" and she then commenced another
course of kissing, being actuated thereto by the terrible idea of
sending her child away which her own imagination had depicted.
"And where the masters don't have such beautiful long hair to be
dishevelled," said Mr. Slope, taking up the joke and paying a
compliment at the same time.
Eleanor thought he might as well have left the compliment alone, but
she said nothing and looked nothing, being occupied as she was with
"Let me take him," said Mary. "His clothes are nearly off his back
with his romping," and so saying she left the room with the child.
Miss Bold had heard Mr. Slope say he had something pressing to say to
Eleanor, and thinking that she might be de trop, took this
opportunity of getting herself out of the room.
"Don't be long, Mary," said Eleanor as Miss Bold shut the door.
"I am glad, Mrs. Bold, to have the opportunity of having ten minutes'
conversation with you alone," began Mr. Slope. "Will you let me
openly ask you a plain question?"
"Certainly," said she.
"And I am sure you will give me a plain and open answer."
"Either that, or none at all," said she, laughing.
"My question is this, Mrs. Bold: is your father really anxious to go
back to the hospital?"
"Why do you ask me?" said she. "Why don't you ask himself?"
"My dear Mrs. Bold, I'll tell you why. There are wheels within
wheels, all of which I would explain to you, only I fear that there
is not time. It is essentially necessary that I should have an
answer to this question, otherwise I cannot know how to advance your
father's wishes; and it is quite impossible that I should ask
himself. No one can esteem your father more than I do, but I doubt
if this feeling is reciprocal." It certainly was not. "I must be
candid with you as the only means of avoiding ultimate consequences,
which may be most injurious to Mr. Harding. I fear there is a
feeling--I will not even call it a prejudice--with regard to myself
in Barchester, which is not in my favour. You remember that
"Oh, Mr. Slope, we need not go back to that," said Eleanor.
"For one moment, Mrs. Bold. It is not that I may talk of myself but
because it is so essential that you should understand how matters
stand. That sermon may have been ill-judged--it was certainly
misunderstood; but I will say nothing about that now; only this, that
it did give rise to a feeling against myself which your father shares
with others. It may be that he has proper cause, but the result is
that he is not inclined to meet me on friendly terms. I put it to
yourself whether you do not know this to be the case."
Eleanor made no answer, and Mr. Slope, in the eagerness of his
address, edged his chair a little nearer to the widow's seat,
unperceived by her.
"Such being so," continued Mr. Slope, "I cannot ask him this question
as I can ask it of you. In spite of my delinquencies since I came to
Barchester you have allowed me to regard you as a friend." Eleanor
made a little motion with her head which was hardly confirmatory, but
Mr. Slope if he noticed it did not appear to do so. "To you I can
speak openly and explain the feelings of my heart. This your father
would not allow. Unfortunately, the bishop has thought it right that
this matter of the hospital should pass through my hands. There have
been some details to get up with which he would not trouble himself,
and thus it has come to pass that I was forced to have an interview
with your father on the matter."
"I am aware of that," said Eleanor.
"Of course," said he. "In that interview Mr. Harding left the
impression on my mind that he did not wish to return to the
"How could that be?" said Eleanor, at last stirred up to forget the
cold propriety of demeanour which she had determined to maintain.
"My dear Mrs. Bold, I give you my word that such was the case," said
he, again getting a little nearer to her. "And what is more than
that, before my interview with Mr. Harding, certain persons at the
palace--I do not mean the bishop--had told me that such was the fact.
I own, I hardly believed it; I own, I thought that your father would
wish on every account, for conscience' sake, for the sake of those
old men, for old association and the memory of dear days long gone
by, on every account I thought that he would wish to resume his
duties. But I was told that such was not his wish, and he certainly
left me with the impression that I had been told the truth."
"Well!" said Eleanor, now sufficiently roused on the matter.
"I hear Miss Bold's step," said Mr. Slope; "would it be asking too
great a favour to beg you to--I know you can manage anything with
Eleanor did not like the word manage, but still she went out and
asked Mary to leave them alone for another quarter of an hour.
"Thank you, Mrs. Bold--I am so very grateful for this confidence.
Well, I left your father with this impression. Indeed, I may say
that he made me understand that he declined the appointment."
"Not the appointment," said Eleanor. "I am sure he did not decline
the appointment. But he said that he would not agree--that is, that
he did not like the scheme about the schools and the services and all
that. I am quite sure he never said that he wished to refuse the
"Oh, Mrs. Bold!" said Mr. Slope in a manner almost impassioned. "I
would not for the world say to so good a daughter a word against so
good a father. But you must, for his sake, let me show you exactly
how the matter stands at present. Mr. Harding was a little flurried
when I told him of the bishop's wishes about the school. I did so
perhaps with the less caution because you yourself had so perfectly
agreed with me on the same subject. He was a little put out and
spoke warmly. 'Tell the bishop,' said he, 'that I quite disagree
with him--and shall not return to the hospital as such conditions are
attached to it.' What he said was to that effect; indeed, his words
were, if anything, stronger than those. I had no alternative but to
repeat them to his lordship, who said that he could look on them in
no other light than a refusal. He also had heard the report that
your father did not wish for the appointment, and putting all these
things together, he thought he had no choice but to look for someone
else. He has consequently offered the place to Mr. Quiverful."
"Offered the place to Mr. Quiverful!" repeated Eleanor, her eyes
suffused with tears. "Then, Mr. Slope, there is an end of it."
"No, my friend--not so," said he. "It is to prevent such being the
end of it that I am now here. I may at any rate presume that I have
got an answer to my question and that Mr. Harding is desirous of
"Desirous of returning--of course he is," said Eleanor; "of course he
wishes to have back his house and his income and his place in the
world; to have back what he gave up with such self-denying honesty,
if he can have them without restraints on his conduct to which at his
age it would be impossible that he should submit. How can the bishop
ask a man of his age to turn schoolmaster to a pack of children?"
"Out of the question," said Mr. Slope, laughing slightly; "of course
no such demand shall be made on your father. I can at any rate
promise you that I will not be the medium of any so absurd a
requisition. We wished your father to preach in the hospital, as the
inmates may naturally be too old to leave it, but even that shall not
be insisted on. We wished also to attach a Sabbath-day school to the
hospital, thinking that such an establishment could not but be useful
under the surveillance of so good a clergyman as Mr. Harding, and
also under your own. But, dear Mrs. Bold, we won't talk of these
things now. One thing is clear: we must do what we can to annul this
rash offer the bishop has made to Mr. Quiverful. Your father
wouldn't see Quiverful, would he? Quiverful is an honourable man,
and would not for a moment stand in your father's way."
"What?" said Eleanor. "Ask a man with fourteen children to give up
his preferment! I am quite sure he will do no such thing."
"I suppose not," said Slope, and he again drew near to Mrs. Bold, so
that now they were very close to each other. Eleanor did not think
much about it but instinctively moved away a little. How greatly
would she have increased the distance could she have guessed what had
been said about her at Plumstead! "I suppose not. But it is out of
the question that Quiverful should supersede your father--quite out
of the question. The bishop has been too rash. An idea occurs to me
which may perhaps, with God's blessing, put us right. My dear Mrs.
Bold, would you object to seeing the bishop yourself?"
"Why should not my father see him?" said Eleanor. She had once
before in her life interfered in her father's affairs, and then not
to much advantage. She was older now and felt that she should take
no step in a matter so vital to him without his consent.
"Why, to tell the truth," said Mr. Slope with a look of sorrow, as
though he greatly bewailed the want of charity in his patron, "the
bishop fancies that he has cause of anger against your father. I
fear an interview would lead to further ill-will."
"Why," said Eleanor, "my father is the mildest, the gentlest man
"I only know," said Slope, "that he has the best of daughters. So
you would not see the bishop? As to getting an interview, I could
manage that for you without the slightest annoyance to yourself."
"I could do nothing, Mr. Slope, without consulting my father."
"Ah!" said he, "that would be useless; you would then only be your
father's messenger. Does anything occur to yourself? Something must
be done. Your father shall not be ruined by so ridiculous a
Eleanor said that nothing occurred to her, but that it was very hard;
the tears came to her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Mr. Slope
would have given much to have had the privilege of drying them, but
he had tact enough to know that he had still a great deal to do
before he could even hope for any privilege with Mrs. Bold.
"It cuts me to the heart to see you so grieved," said he. "But pray
let me assure you that your father's interests shall not be
sacrificed if it be possible for me to protect them. I will tell the
bishop openly what are the facts. I will explain to him that he has
hardly the right to appoint any other than your father and will show
him that if he does so he will be guilty of great injustice--and you,
Mrs. Bold, you will have the charity at any rate to believe this of
me, that I am truly anxious for your father's welfare--for his and
for your own."
The widow hardly knew what answer to make. She was quite aware that
her father would not be at all thankful to Mr. Slope; she had a
strong wish to share her father's feelings; and yet she could not but
acknowledge that Mr. Slope was very kind. Her father, who was
generally so charitable to all men, who seldom spoke ill of anyone,
had warned her against Mr. Slope, and yet she did not know how to
abstain from thanking him. What interest could he have in the matter
but that which he professed? Nevertheless there was that in his
manner which even she distrusted. She felt, she did not know why,
that there was something about him which ought to put her on her
Mr. Slope read all this in her hesitating manner just as plainly as
though she had opened her heart to him. It was the talent of the man
that he could so read the inward feelings of women with whom he
conversed. He knew that Eleanor was doubting him and that, if she
thanked him, she would only do so because she could not help it, but
yet this did not make him angry or even annoy him. Rome was not
built in a day.
"I did not come for thanks," continued he, seeing her hesitation,
"and do not want them--at any rate before they are merited. But this
I do want, Mrs. Bold, that I may make to myself friends in this fold
to which it has pleased God to call me as one of the humblest of his
shepherds. If I cannot do so, my task here must indeed be a sad one.
I will at any rate endeavour to deserve them."
"I'm sure," said she, "you will soon make plenty of friends." She
felt herself obliged to say something.
"That will be nothing unless they are such as will sympathize with my
feelings; unless they are such as I can reverence and admire--and
love. If the best and purest turn away from me, I cannot bring
myself to be satisfied with the friendship of the less estimable. In
such case I must live alone."
"Oh, I'm sure you will not do that, Mr. Slope." Eleanor meant
nothing, but it suited him to appear to think some special allusion
had been intended.
"Indeed, Mrs. Bold, I shall live alone, quite alone as far as the
heart is concerned, if those with whom I yearn to ally myself turn
away from me. But enough of this; I have called you my friend, and I
hope you will not contradict me. I trust the time may come when I
may also call your father so. May God bless you, Mrs. Bold, you and
your darling boy. And tell your father from me that what can be done
for his interest shall be done."
And so he took his leave, pressing the widow's hand rather more
closely than usual. Circumstances, however, seemed just then to make
this intelligible, and the lady did not feel called on to resent it.
"I cannot understand him," said Eleanor to Mary Bold a few minutes
afterwards. "I do not know whether he is a good man or a bad man--
whether he is true or false."
"Then give him the benefit of the doubt," said Mary, "and believe the
"On the, whole, I think I do," said Eleanor. "I think I do believe
that he means well--and if so, it is a shame that we should revile
him and make him miserable while he is among us. But, oh, Mary, I
fear Papa will be disappointed in the hospital."
Who Shall he Cock of the Walk?
All this time things were going somewhat uneasily at the palace. The
hint or two which Mr. Slope had given was by no means thrown away
upon the bishop. He had a feeling that if he ever meant to oppose
the now almost unendurable despotism of his wife, he must lose no
further time in doing so; that if he ever meant to be himself master