Part 4 out of 11
when he would be able to appropriate to his own use the big room
upstairs, in which his predecessor had always sat.
As he resolved these things in his mind a note was brought to him
from Archdeacon Grantly, in which that divine begged his lordship
to do him the honour of seeing him on the morrow--would his
lordship have the kindness to name the hour? Dr Grantly's proposed
visit would have reference to the re-appointment of Mr Harding to
the wardenship of Hiram's hospital. The bishop having read this
note was informed that the archdeacon's servant was waiting for an
Here at once a great opportunity offered itself to the bishop of
acting on his own responsibility. He bethought himself of his new
ally, and rang the bell for Mr Slope. It turned out that Mr Slope
was not in the house; and then, greatly daring, the bishop with his
own unassisted spirit wrote a note to the archdeacon saying that he
would see him, and naming the hour for doing so. Having watched
from his study-window that the messenger got safely off the
premises with this despatch, he began to turn over in his mind what
step he should next take.
To-morrow he would have to declare to the archdeacon either that Mr
Harding should have the appointment, or that he should not have it.
The bishop felt that he could not honestly throw over Mr Quiverful
without informing Mrs Proudie, and he resolved at last to brave the
lioness in her own den and tell her that circumstances were such
that it behoved him to reappoint Mr Harding. He did not feel that
he should at all derogate from his new courage by promising Mrs
Proudie that the very first piece of available preferment at his
disposal should be given to Quiverful to atone for the injury done
to him. If he could mollify the lioness with such a sop, how happy
would he think his first efforts had been?
Not without many misgivings did he find himself in Mrs Proudie's
boudoir. He had at first thought of sending for her. But it was not
at all impossible that she might choose to take such a message
amiss, and then also it might be some protection to him to have his
daughters present at the interview. He found her sitting with her
account books before her nibbling the end of her pencil evidently
mersed in pecuniary difficulties, and harassed in mind by the
multiplicity of palatial expenses, and the heavy cost of episcopal
grandeur. Her daughters were around her. Olivia was reading a
novel, Augusta was crossing a note to her bosom friend in Baker
Street, and Netta was working diminutive coach wheels for the
bottom of a petticoat. If the bishop could get the better of his
wife in her present mood, he would be a man indeed. He might then
consider victory his own for ever. After all, in such cases the
matter between husband and wife stands much the same as it does
between two boys at the same school, two cocks in the same yard, or
two armies on the same continent. The conqueror once is generally
the conqueror for ever after. The prestige of victory is
'Ahem--my dear,' began the bishop, 'if you are disengaged, I wished
to speak to you.' Mrs Proudie put her pencil down carefully at the
point to which she had dotted her figures, marked down in her
memory the sum she had arrived at, and then looked up, sourly
enough, into her helpmate's face. 'If you are busy, another time
will do as well,' continued the bishop, whose courage like Bob
Acres' had oozed out, now that he found himself on the ground of
'What is it about, bishop?' asked the lady.
'Well--it was about those Quiverfuls--but I see you are engaged.
Another time will do just as well for me.'
'What about the Quiverfuls? It is quite understood I believe, that
they are to come to the hospital. There is to be no doubt about
that, is there?' And as she spoke she kept her pencil sternly and
vigorously fixed on the column of figures before her.
'Why, my dear, there is a difficulty,' said the bishop.
'A difficulty!' said Mrs Proudie, 'What difficulty? The place
has been promised to Mr Quiverful, and of course he must have it.
He has made all his arrangements. He has written for a curate for
Puddingdale, he has spoken to the auctioneer about selling his
farm, horses, and cows, and in all respects considers the place as
his own. Of course he must have it.'
Now, bishop, look well to thyself, and call up all the manhood that
is in thee. Think how much is at stake. If now thou art not true to
thy guns, no Slope can hereafter aid thee. How can he who deserts
his own colours at the final smell of gunpowder expect faith in any
ally. Thou thyself hast sought the battlefield; fight out the
battle manfully now thou art there. Courage, bishop, courage!
Frowns cannot kill, nor can sharp words break any bones. After all
the apron is thine own. She can appoint no wardens, give away no
benefices, nominate no chaplains, an' thou art but true to thyself.
Up, man, and at her with a constant heart.
Some little monitor within the bishop's breast so addressed him.
But then there was another monitor there which advised him
differently, and as follows. Remember, bishop, she is a woman, and
such a woman is the very mischief. Were it not better for thee to
carry on this war, if it must be waged, from behind thine own table
in thine own study? Does not every cock fight best on is own
dunghill? Thy daughters also are here, the pledges of thy love, the
fruits of thy loins; is it well that they should see thee in the
hour of thy victory over their mother? Nay, is it well that they
should see thee in the possible hour of thy defeat? Besides, hast
thou not chosen thy opportunity with wonderful little skill, indeed
with no touch of sagacity for which thou art famous? Will it not
turn out that thou art wrong in this matter, and thine enemy right;
that thou hast actually pledged thyself in this matter of the
hospital, and that now thou wouldst turn upon thy wife because she
requires from thee but the fulfilment of thy promise? Art thou not
a Christian bishop, and is not thy word to be held sacred whatever
be the result? Return, bishop, to thy sanctum on the lower floor,
and postpone thy combative propensities for some occasion in which
at least thou mayest fight the battle against odds less
tremendously against thee.
All this passed within the bishop's bosom while Mrs Proudie stall
sat with her fixed pencil, and the figures of her sum still
enduring on the tablets of her memory. 'L4 17s 7d,' she said to
herself. 'Of course Mr Quiverful must have the hospital,' she said
out loud to her lord.
'Well, my dear, I merely wanted to suggest to you that Mr Slope
seems to think that if Mr Harding be not appointed, public feeling
in the matter would be against us and that the press might perhaps
take it up.'
'Mr Slope seems to think!' said Mrs Proudie, in a tone of voice
which plainly showed the bishop that he was right in looking for a
breach in that quarter. 'And what has Mr Slope to do with it? I
hope, my lord, you are not going to allow yourself to be governed
by a chaplain.' and now in her eagerness the lady lost her place in
'Certainly not, my dear. Nothing I can assure you is less probable.
But still Mr Slope may be useful in finding how the wind blows, and
I really thought that if we could give something good to Mr
'Nonsense,' said Mrs Proudie; 'it would be years before you could
give them anything else that could suit them half as well, and as
for the press and the public, and all that, remember there are two
ways of telling a story. If Mr Harding is fool enough to tell his
tale, we can also tell ours. The place was offered to him, and he
refused it. It has now been given to someone else, and there's an
end of it. At least, I should think so.'
'Well, my dear, I rather believe you are right;' said the bishop,
and sneaking out of the room, he went down stairs, troubled in his
mind as to how he should receive the archdeacon on the morrow. He
felt himself not very well just at present; and began to consider
that he might, not improbably, be detained in his room the next
morning by an attack of bile. He was, unfortunately, very subject
to bilious annoyances.
'Mr Slope, indeed! I'll Slope him,' said the indignant matron to
her listening progeny. 'I don't know what has come to Mr Slope. I
believe he thinks he is to be Bishop of Barchester himself, because
I have taken him by the hand, and got your father to make him his
'He was always full of impudence,' said Olivia; 'I told you so once
before, mamma.' Olivia, however, had not thought him too impudent
when once before he had proposed to make her Mrs Slope.
'Well, Olivia, I always thought you liked him,' said Augusta, who
at that moment had some grudge against her sister. 'I always
disliked the man because I think him thoroughly vulgar.'
'There you're wrong,' said Mrs Proudie; 'he's not vulgar at all;
and what is more, he is a soul-stirring, eloquent preacher; but he
must be taught to know his place if he is to remain in this house.'
'He has the horridest eyes I ever saw in a man's head,' said Netta;
'and I tell you what, he's terribly greedy; did you see the current
pie he ate yesterday?'
When Mr Slope got home he soon learnt from the bishop, as much from
his manner as his words, that Mrs Proudie's behests in the matter
of the hospital were to be obeyed. Dr Proudie let fall something as
to 'this occasion only,' and 'keeping all affairs about patronage
exclusively in his own hands.' But he was quite decided about Mr
Harding; and as Mr Slope did not wish to have both the prelate and
the prelatess against him, he did not at present see that he could
do anything but yield.
He merely remarked that he would of course carry out the bishop's
views, and that he was quite sure that if the bishop trusted to his
own judgment things in the diocese would certainly be well ordered.
Mr Slope knew that if you hit a nail on the head often enough, it
will penetrate at last.
He was sitting alone in his room on the same evening when a light
knock was made on his door, and before he could answer it the door
was opened, and his patroness appeared. He was all smiles in a
moment, but so was not she also. She took, however, the chair that
was offered to her, and thus began her expostulation :-
'Mr Slope, I did not at all approve your conduct the other night
with that Italian woman. Any one would have thought that you were
'Good gracious, my dear madam,' said Mr Slope, with a look of
horror. 'Why, she is a married woman.'
'That's more than I know,' said Mrs Proudie; 'however she chooses
to pass for such. But married or not married, such attention as you
paid her was improper. I cannot believe that you would wish to give
offence in my drawing-room, Mr Slope; but I owe it to myself and my
daughters to tell you that I disapprove your conduct.'
Mr Slope opened wide his huge protruding eyes, and stared out of
them with a look of well-dignified surprise. 'Why, Mrs Proudie,'
said he, 'I did but fetch her something to eat when she was
'And you have called on her since,' continued she, looking at the
culprit with the stern look of a detective policeman in the act of
Mr Slope turned over in his mind whether it would be well for him
to tell this termagant at once that he should call on whom he
liked, and do what he liked; but he remembered that his footing in
Barchester was not yet sufficiently firm, and that it would be
better for him to pacify her.
'I certainly called since at Dr Stanhope's house, and certainly saw
'Yes, and you saw her alone,' said the episcopal Argus.
'Undoubtedly I did,' said Mr Slope, 'but that was because nobody
else happened to be in the room. Surely it was no fault of mine if
the rest of the family were out.'
'Perhaps not; but I assure you, Mr Slope, you will fall greatly in
my estimation if I find that you allow yourself to be caught by the
lures of that woman. I know women better than you do, Slope, and
you may believe me that that signora, as she calls herself, is not
a fitting companion for a strict evangelical, unmarried young
How Mr Slope would have liked to laugh at her, had he dared! But he
did not dare. So he merely said, 'I can assure you, Mrs Proudie,
the lady in question is nothing to me.'
'Well, I hope not, Mr Slope. But I have considered it my duty to
give you this caution; and now there is another thing I feel myself
called upon to speak about; it is your conduct to the bishop, Mr
'My conduct to the bishop,' said he, now truly surprised and
ignorant what the lady alluded to.
'Yes, Mr Slope; your conduct to the bishop. It is by no means what
I would wish to see it.'
'Has the bishop said anything, Mrs Proudie?'
'No, the bishop has said nothing. He probably thinks that any
remarks on the matter will come better from me, who first
introduced you to his lordship's notice. The fact is, Mr Slope, you
are a little inclined to take too much upon yourself.'
An angry spot showed itself upon Mr Slope's cheeks, and it was with
difficulty that he controlled himself. But he did do so, and sat
quite silent while the lady went on.
'It is the fault of many young men in your position, and therefore
the bishop is not inclined at present to resent it. You will, no
doubt, soon learn what is required from you, and what is not. If
you will take my advice, however, you will be careful not to
obtrude advice upon the bishop in any matter concerning patronage.
If his lordship wants advice, he knows where to look for it.' And
then having added to her counsel a string of platitudes as to what
was desirable and what not desirable in the conduct of a strictly
evangelical, unmarried young clergyman, Mrs Proudie retreated,
leaving the chaplain to his thoughts.
The upshot of his thoughts was this, that there certainly was not
room in the diocese for the energies of both himself and Mrs
Proudie, and that it behoved him quickly to ascertain whether his
energies or hers would prevail.
THE WIDOW'S PERSECUTION
Early on the following morning, Mr Slope was summoned to the
bishop's dressing-room, and went there fully expecting that he
should find his lordship very indignant, and spirited up by his
wife to repeat the rebuke which she had administered on the
previous day. Mr Slope had resolved that at any rate from him he
would not stand it, and entered the dressing-room in rather a
combative disposition; but he found the bishop in the most placid
and gentle of humours. His lordship complained of being rather
unwell, had a slight headache, and was not quite the thing in his
stomach; but there was nothing the matter with his temper.
'Oh, Slope,' said he, taking the chaplain's proffered hand.
'Archdeacon Grantly is to call on me this morning, and I really am
not fit to see him. I fear I must trouble you to see him for me;'
and then Dr Proudie proceeded to explain what it was that must be
said to Dr Grantly. He was to be told in fact in the civilest words
in which the tidings could be conveyed, that Mr Harding having
refused the wardenship, the appointment had been offered to Mr
Quiverful and accepted by him.
Mr Slope again pointed out to his patron that he thought he was
perhaps not quite wise in his decision, and this he did sotto voce.
But even with this precaution it was not safe to say much, and
during the little that he did say, the bishop made a very slight,
but still a very ominous gesture with his thumb towards the door
which opened from his dressing-room to some inner sanctuary. Mr
Slope at once took the hint and said no more; but he perceived that
there was to be confidence between him and his patron, that the
league desired by him was to be made, and that this appointment of
Mr Quiverful was to be the sacrifice offered on the altar of
conjugal obedience. All this Mr Slope read in the slight motion of
the bishop's thumb, and he read it correctly. There was no need of
parchments and seals, of attestations, explanations, and
professions. The bargain was understood between them, and Mr Slope
gave the bishop his hand upon it. The bishop understood the little
extra squeeze, and an intelligible gleam of assent twinkled in his
'Pray be civil to the archdeacon, Mr Slope,' said he out loud; 'but
make him quite understand that in this matter Mr Harding has put it
out of my power to oblige him.'
It would be calumny on Mrs Proudie to suggest that she was sitting
in her bed-room with her ear at the keyhole during this interview.
She had within her a spirit of decorum which prevented her from
descending to such baseness. To put her ear to a key-hole or to
listen at a chink, was a trick for a housemaid.
Mrs Proudie knew this, and therefore she did not do it; but she
stationed herself as near to the door as she well could, that she
might, if possible, get the advantage which the housemaid would
have had, without descending to the housemaid's artifice.
It was little, however, that she heard, and that little was only
sufficient to deceive her. She saw nothing of that friendly
pressure, perceived nothing of that concluded bargain; she did not
even dream of the treacherous resolves which those two false men
had made together to upset her in the pride of her station, to dash
the cup from her lip before she had drank of it, to seep away all
her power before she had tasted its sweets! Traitors that they
were; the husband of her bosom, and the outcast whom she had
fostered and brought into the warmth of the world's brightest
fireside! But neither of them had the magnanimity of this woman.
Though two men have thus leagued themselves together against her,
even yet the battle is not lost.
Mr Slope felt pretty sure that Dr Grantly would decline the honour
of seeing him, and such turned out to be the case. The archdeacon,
when the palace door was opened to him, was greeted by a note. Mr
Slope presented his compliments &c, &c. The bishop was ill in his
room, and very greatly regretted, &c &c. Mr Slope had been charged
with the bishop's views, and if agreeable to the archdeacon, would
do himself the honour &c, &c. The archdeacon, however, was not
agreeable, and having read his note in the hall, crumpled it up in
his hand, and muttering something about sorrow for his lordship's
illness, took his leave, without sending as much as a verbal
message in answer to Mr Slope's note.
'Ill!' said the archdeacon to himself as he flung himself into his
brougham. 'The man is absolutely a coward. He is afraid to see me.
Ill, indeed!' The archdeacon was never ill himself, and did not
therefore understand that any one else could in truth be prevented
by illness from keeping an appointment. He regarded all such
excuses as subterfuges, and in the present instance he was not far
Dr Grantly desired to be driven to his father-in-law's lodgings in
the High Street, and hearing from the servant that Mr Harding was
at his daughter's, followed him to Mrs Bold's house, and there he
found him. The archdeacon was fuming with rage when he got into the
drawing-room, and had by this time nearly forgotten the
pusillanimity of the bishop in the villainy of the chaplain.
'Look at that,' said he, throwing Mr Slope's crumpled note to Mr
Harding. 'I am to be told that if I choose I may have the honour of
seeing Mr Slope, and that too, after a positive engagement with the
'But he says the bishop is ill,' said Mr Harding.
'Pshaw! You don't mean to say that you are deceived by such an
excuse as that. He was well enough yesterday. Now I tell you what,
I will see the bishop; and I will tell him also very plainly what I
think of his conduct. I will see him, or else Barchester will soon
be too hot to hold him.'
Eleanor was sitting in the room, but Dr Grantly had hardly noticed
her in his anger. Eleanor now said to him, with the greatest
innocence, 'I wish you had seen Mr Slope, Dr Grantly, because I
think perhaps it might have done good.'
The archdeacon turned on her with almost brutal wrath. Had she at
once owned that she had accepted Mr Slope for her second husband,
he could hardly have felt more convinced of her belonging body and
soul to the Slope and Proudie party than he now did on hearing her
express such a wish as this. Poor Eleanor!
'See him,' said the archdeacon, glaring at her; 'and why am I be
called on to lower myself in the world's esteem an my own by coming
in contact with such a man as that? I have hitherto lived among
gentlemen, and do not mean to be dragged into other company by
Poor Mr Harding knew well what the archdeacon meant, but Eleanor
was as innocent as her own baby. She could not understand how the
archdeacon could consider himself to be dragged into bad company by
condescending to speak to Mr Slope for a few minutes when the
interests of her father might be served by doing so.
'I was talking for a full hour yesterday with Mr Slope,' said she,
with some little assumption of dignity, 'and I did not find myself
to be lowered by it.'
'Perhaps not,' said he. 'But if you'll be good enough to allow me,
I shall judge for myself in such matters. And I tell you what,
Eleanor; it will be much better for you if you will allow yourself
to be guided also by the advice of those who are your friends. If
you do not you will be apt to find you have no friends left who can
Eleanor blushed up to the roots of her hair. But even now she had
not the slightest idea of what was passing in the archdeacon's
mind. No thought of love-making or love-receiving had yet found its
way to her heart since the death of poor John Bold; and if it were
possible that such a thought should spring there, the man must be
far different from Mr Slope that could give it birth.
Nevertheless Eleanor blushed deeply, for she felt she was charged
with improper conduct, and she did so with the more inward pain
because her father did not instantly rally to her side; that father
for whose sake and love she had submitted to be the receptacle of
Mr Slope's confidence. She had given a detailed account of all that
had passed to her father; and though he had not absolutely agreed
with her about Mr Slope's views touching the hospital, yet he had
said nothing to make her think that she had been wrong in talking
She was far too angry to humble herself before her brother- in-law.
Indeed, she had never accustomed herself to be very abject before
him, and they had never been confidential allies. 'I do not in the
least understand what you mean, Dr Grantly,' said she. 'I do not
know that I can accuse myself of doing anything that my friends
should disapprove. Mr Slope called here expressly to ask what
papa's views were about the hospital; and as I believe he called
with friendly intentions I told him.'
'Friendly intentions!' sneered the archdeacon.
'I believe you greatly wrong Mr Slope,' continued Eleanor; 'but I
have explained this to papa already; and as you do not seem to
approve of what I say, Dr Grantly, I will with your permission
leave you and papa together,' and so saying she walked out of the
All this made Mr Harding very unhappy. It was quite clear that the
archdeacon and his wife had made up their minds that Eleanor was
going to marry Mr Slope. Mr Harding could not really bring himself
to think that she would do so, but yet he could not deny that
circumstances made it appear that the man's company was not
disagreeable to her. She was now constantly seeing him, and yet she
received visits from no other unmarried gentleman. She always took
his part when his conduct was canvassed, although she was aware how
personally objectionable he was to her friends. Then, again, Mr
Harding felt that if she should choose to become Mrs Slope, he had
nothing that he could justly against her doing so. She had full
right to please herself, and he, as a father could not say that she
would disgrace herself by marrying a clergyman who stood so well
before the world as Mr Slope did. As for quarrelling with his
daughter on account of such a marriage, and separating himself from
her as the archdeacon had threatened to do, that, with Mr Harding,
would be out of the question. If she should determine to marry this
man, he must get over his aversion as best he could. His Eleanor,
his own old companion in their old happy home, must still be friend
of his bosom, the child of his heart. Let who would cast her off,
he would not. If it were fated, that he should have to sit in his
old age at the same table with a man whom of all men he disliked
the most, he would meet his fate as best he might. Anything to him
would be preferable to the loss of his daughter.
Such being his feelings, he hardly knew how to take part with
Eleanor against the archdeacon, or with the archdeacon against
Eleanor. It will be said that he should never have suspected her.
Alas! he never should have done so. But Mr Harding was by no means
a perfect character. His indecision, his weakness, his proneness to
be led by others, his want of self-confidence, he was very far from
being perfect. And then it must be remembered that such a marriage
as that which the archdeacon contemplated with disgust, which we
who know Mr Slope so well would regard with equal disgust, did not
appear so monstrous to Mr Harding, because in his charity he did
not hate the chaplain as the archdeacon did, and as we do.
He was, however, very unhappy when his daughter left the room, and
he had recourse to an old trick of his that was customary to him in
his times of sadness. He began playing some slow tune upon an
imaginary violoncello, drawing one hand slowly backwards and
forwards as though he held a bow in it, and modulating the unreal
chords with the other.
'She'll marry that man as sure as two and two makes four,' said the
'I hope not, I hope not,' said the father. 'But if she does, what
can I say to her? I have no right to object to him.'
'No right!' exclaimed Dr Grantly.
'No right as her father. He is in my own profession, and for aught
we know a good man.'
To this the archdeacon would by no means assent. It was not well,
however, to argue the case against Eleanor in her own drawing-room,
and so they both walked forth and discussed the matter in all the
bearings under the elm trees of the close. Mr Harding also
explained to his son-in-law what had been the purport, at any rate
the alleged purport, of Mr Slope's last visit to the widow. He,
however, stated that he could not bring himself to believe that Mr
Slope had any real anxiety such as that he had pretended. 'I cannot
forget his demeanour to myself,' said Mr Harding, 'and it is not
possible that his ideas should have changed so soon.'
'I see it all,' said the archdeacon. 'The sly tartufe! He thinks to
buy the daughter by providing for the father. He means to show how
powerful he is, how good he is, and how much he is willing to do
for her beaux yeux; yes, I see it all now. But we'll be too many
for him yet, Mr Harding;' he said, turning to his companion with
some gravity, and pressing his hand on the other's arm. 'It would,
perhaps, be better for you to lose the hospital than get it on such
'Lose it!' said Mr Harding; 'why I've lost it already. I don't want
it. I've made up my mind to do without it. I'll withdraw
altogether. I'll just go and write a line to the bishop and tell
him that I withdraw my claim altogether.'
Nothing would have pleased him better than to be allowed to escape
from the trouble and difficulty in such a manner. But he was now
going too fast for the archdeacon.
'No--no--no! We'll do no such thing,' said Dr Grantly; 'we'll still
have the hospital. I hardly doubt but that we'll have it. But not
by Mr Slope's assistance. If that be necessary, we'll lose it; but
we'll have it, spite of his teeth, if we can. Arabin will be at
Plumstead to-morrow; you must come over and talk to him.'
The two now turned into the cathedral library, which was used by
the clergymen of the close as a sort of ecclesiastical club-room,
for writing sermons and sometimes letters; also for reading
theological works, and sometimes magazines and newspapers. The
theological works were not disturbed, perhaps, quite as often as
from the appearance of the building the outside public might have
been led to expect. Here the two allies settled on their course of
action. The archdeacon wrote a letter to the bishop, strongly
worded, but still respectful, in which he put forward his
father-in-law's claim to the appointment, and expressed his own
regret that he had not been able to see his lordship when he
called. Of Mr Slope me made no mention whatsoever. It was then
settled that Mr Harding should go to Plumstead on the following
day; and after considerable discussion on the matter, the
archdeacon proposed to ask Eleanor there also, so as to withdraw
her, if possible, from Mr Slope's attentions. 'A week or two,' said
he, 'may teach her what he is, and while she is there she will be
out of harm's way. Mr Slope won't come there after her.'
Eleanor was not a little surprised when her brother-in-law came
back and very civilly pressed her to go out to Plumstead with her
father. She instantly perceived that her father had been fighting
her battles for her behind her back. She felt thankful to him, and
for his sake she would not show her resentment to the archdeacon by
refusing his invitation. But she could not, she said, go on the
morrow; she had an invitation to drink tea at the Stanhopes which
she had promised to accept. She would, she added, go with her
father on the next day, if he would wait; or she would follow him.
'The Stanhopes!' said Dr Grantly; 'I did not know you were so
intimate with them.'
'I did not know it myself,' said she, 'till Miss Stanhope called
yesterday. However, I like her very much, and I have promised to go
and play chess with some of them.'
'Have they a party there?' said the archdeacon, still fearful of Mr
'Oh, no,' said Eleanor; 'Miss Stanhope said there was to be nobody
at all. But she had learnt that Mary had left me for a few weeks,
and she had learnt from some one that I play chess, and so she came
over on purpose to ask me to go in.'
'Well, that's very friendly,' said the ex-warden. 'They certainly
do look more like foreigners than English people, but I dare say
they are none the worse for that.'
The archdeacon was inclined to look upon the Stanhopes with
favourable eyes, and had nothing to object on the matter. It was
therefore arranged that Mr Harding should postpone his visit to
Plumstead for one day, and then take with him Eleanor, the baby,
and the nurse.
Mr Slope is certainly becoming of some importance in Barchester.
BARCHESTER BY MOONLIGHT
There was much cause for grief and occasional perturbation of
spirits in the Stanhope family, but yet they rarely seemed to be
grieved or to be disturbed. It was the peculiar gift of each of
them that each was able to bear his or her own burden without
complaint, and perhaps without sympathy. They habitually looked on
the sunny side of the wall, if there was a gleam on the either side
for them to look at; and, if there was none, they endured the shade
with an indifference which, if not stoical, answered the end at
which the Stoics aimed. Old Stanhope could not but feel that he had
ill-performed his duties as a father and a clergyman; and could
hardly look forward to his own death without grief at the position
in which he would leave his family. His income for many years had
been as high as L 3000 a year, and yet they had among them no other
provision than their mother's fortune of L 10,000. He had not only
spent his income, but was in debt. Yet, with all this, he seldom
showed much outward sign of trouble.
It was the same with the mother. If she added little to the
pleasures of her children she detracted still less: she neither
grumbled at her lot, nor spoke much of her past or future
sufferings; as long as she had a maid to adjust her dress, and had
those dresses well made, nature with her was satisfied. It was the
same with her children. Charlotte never rebuked her father with the
prospect of their future poverty, nor did it seem to grieve her
that she was becoming an old maid so quickly; her temper was rarely
ruffled, and, if we might judge by her appearance, she was always
happy. The signora was not so sweet-tempered, but she possessed
much enduring courage; she seldom complained--never, indeed, to her
family. Though she had a cause for affliction which would have
utterly broken down the heart of most women as beautiful as she and
as devoid of all religious support, yet, she bore her suffering in
silence, or alluded to it only to elicit the sympathy and stimulate
the admiration of the men with whom she flirted. As to Bertie, one
would have imagined from the sound of his voice and the gleam of
his eye that he had not a sorrow nor a care in the world. Nor had
he. He was incapable of anticipating tomorrow's griefs. The
prospect of future want no more disturbed his appetite than does
that of the butcher's knife disturb the appetite of the sheep.
Such was the usual tenor of their way; but there were rare
exceptions. Occasionally the father would allow an angry glance to
fall from his eye, and the lion would send forth a low dangerous
roar as though he meditated some deed of blood. Occasionally also
Madame Neroni would become bitter against mankind, more than
usually antagonistic to the world's decencies, and would seem as
though she was about to break from her moorings and allow herself
to be carried forth by the tide of her feelings to utter ruin and
shipwreck. She, however, like the rest of them, had no real
feelings, could feel no true passion. In that was her security.
Before she resolved on any contemplated escapade she would make a
small calculation, and generally summed up that the Stanhope villa
or even Barchester close was better than the world at large.
They were most irregular in their hours. The father was generally
the earliest in the breakfast-parlour, and Charlotte would soon
follow and give him coffee; but the others breakfasted anywhere
anyhow, and at any time. On the morning after the archdeacon's
futile visit to the palace, Dr Stanhope came down stairs with an
ominously dark look about his eyebrows; his white locks were
rougher than usual, and he breathed thickly and loudly as he took
his seat in his arm-chair. He had open letters in his hand, and
when Charlotte came into the room he was still reading them. She
went up and kissed him as was her wont, but he hardly noticed her
as she did so, and she knew at once that something was the matter.
'What's the meaning of that?' said he, throwing over the table a
letter with a Milan post-mark. Charlotte was a little frightened as
she took it up, but her mind was relieved when she saw that it was
merely the bill of their Italian milliner. The sum total was
certainly large, but not so large as to create an important row.
'It's for our clothes, papa, for six months before we came here.
The three of us can't dress for nothing you know.'
'Nothing, indeed!' said he, looking at the figures, which in
Milanese denominations were certainly monstrous.
'The man should have sent it to me,' said Charlotte.
'I wish he had with all my heart--if you would have paid it. I see
enough in it, to know that three quarters of it are for Madeline.'
'She has little else to amuse her, sir,' said Charlotte with true
'And I suppose he has nothing to amuse him,' said the doctor,
throwing over another letter to his daughter. It was from some
member of the family of Sidonia, and politely requested the father
to pay a small trifle of L 700, being the amount of a bill
discounted in favour of Mr Ethelbert Stanhope, and now overdue for
a period of nine months.
Charlotte read the letter, slowly folded it up, and put it under
the edge of the tea-tray.
'I suppose he has nothing to amuse him but discounting bills with
Jews. Does he think I'll pay that?'
'I am sure he thinks no such thing,' said she.
'And who does he think will pay it?'
'As far as honesty goes, I suppose it won't much matter if it is
never paid,' said she. 'I dare say he got very little of it.'
'I suppose it won't much matter either,' said the father, 'if he
goes to prison and rots there. It seems to me that that's the other
Dr Stanhope spoke the custom of his youth. But his daughter, though
she lived so long abroad, was much more completely versed in the
ways of the English world. 'If the man arrests him,' said she, 'he
must go through the court.'
It is thus, thou great family of Sidonia--it is thus that we
Gentiles treat thee, when, in our most extreme need, thou and thine
have aided us with mountains of gold as big as lions--and
occasionally with wine-warrants and orders for dozens of
'What, and become an insolvent?' said the doctor.
'He's that already,' said Charlotte, wishing always to get over a
'What a condition,' said the doctor, 'for the son of a clergyman of
the Church of England.'
'I don't see why clergymen's sons should pay their debts more than
other young men,' said Charlotte.
'He's had as much from me since he left school as is held
sufficient for the eldest son of many a nobleman,' said the angry
'Well, sir,' said Charlotte, 'give him another chance.'
'What!' said the doctor, 'do you mean that I am to pay that Jew?'
'Oh, no! I wouldn't pay him, he must take his chance; and if the
worst comes to the worst, Bertie must go abroad. But I want you to
be civil to Bertie, and let him remain here as long as we stop. He
has a plan in his head, that may put him on his feet after all.'
Just at that moment the door opened, and Bertie came in whistling.
The doctor immediately devoted himself to his egg, and allowed
Bertie to whistle himself round to his sister's side without
Charlotte gave a little sign to him with her eye, first glancing at
her father, and then at the letter, the corner of which peeped out
from under the tea-tray. Bertie saw and understood, and with the
quiet motion of a cat abstracted the letter, and made himself
acquainted with its contents. The doctor, however, had seen him,
deep as he appeared to be mersed in his egg-shell, and said in his
harshest voice, 'Well, sir, do you know that gentleman?'
'Yes, sir,' said Bertie. 'I have a sort of acquaintance with him,
but none that can justify him in troubling you. If you will allow
me, sir, I will answer this.'
'At any rate I shan't,' said the father, and then he added, after a
pause, 'Is it true, sir, that you owe the man L 700?'
'Well,' said Bertie, 'I think I should be inclined to dispute the
amount, if I were in a condition to pay him such of it as I really
do owe him.'
'Has he your bill for L 700?' said the father, speaking very loudly
and very angrily.
'Well, I believe he has,' said Bertie; 'but all the money I ever
got from him was L 150.'
'And what became of the L 550?'
'Why, sir; the commission was L 100, or so, and I took the remainder
in paving-stones and rocking-horses.'
'Paving-stones and rocking-horses!' said the doctor, 'where are
'Oh, sir, I suppose they are in London somewhere--but I'll inquire
if you wish for them.'
'He's an idiot,' said the doctor, 'and it's sheer folly to waste
more money on him. Nothing can save him from ruin,' and so saying,
the unhappy father walked out of the room.
'Would the governor like to see the paving-stones?'
'I'll tell you what,' said she. 'If you don't take care, you will
find yourself loose upon the world without even a house over your
head: you don't know him as well as I do. He's very angry.'
Bertie stroked his big beard, sipped his tea, chatted over his
misfortunes in a half comic, half serious tone, and ended by
promising his sister that he would do his very best to make himself
agreeable to the widow Bold. Then Charlotte followed her father to
his own room and softened down his wrath, and persuaded him to say
nothing more about the Jew bill discounter, at any rate for a few
weeks. He even went so far as to say he would pay the L 700, or at
any rate settle the bill, if he saw a certainty of his son's
securing for himself anything like a decent provision in life.
Nothing was said openly between them about poor Eleanor: but the
father and the daughter understood each other.
They all met together in the drawing-room at nine o'clock, in
perfect good humour with each other; and about that hour Mrs Bold
was announced. She had never been in the house before, though she
had of course called: and now she felt it strange to find herself
there in her usual evening dress, entering the drawing-room of
these strangers in this friendly unceremonious way, as though she
had known them all her life. But in three minutes they made her at
home. Charlotte tripped downstairs and took her bonnet from her,
and Bertie came to relieve her from her shawl, and the signora
smiled on her as she could smile when she chose to be gracious, and
the old doctor shook hands with her in a kind and benedictory
manner that went to her heart at once, and made her feel that he
must be a good man.
She had not been seated for above five minutes when the door again
opened, and Mr Slope was announced. She felt rather surprised,
because she was told that nobody was to be there, and it was very
evident from the manner of some of them that Mr Slope was
unexpected. But still there was not much in it. In such invitations
a bachelor or two more or less are always spoken of as nobodies,
and there was no reason why Mr Slope should not drink tea at Dr
Stanhope's as well as Eleanor herself. He, however, was very much
surprised and not very much gratified at finding that his own
embryo spouse made one of the party. He had come there to gratify
himself by gazing on Madame Neroni's beauty, and listening to and
returning her flattery: and though he had not owned as much to
himself, he still felt that if he spent the evening as he had
intended to do, he might probably not thereby advance his suit with
The signora, who had no idea of a rival, received Mr Slope with her
usual marks of distinction. As he took her hand, she made some
confidential communication to him in a low voice, declaring that
she had a plan to communicate to him after tea, and was evidently
prepared to go on with her work of reducing the chaplain to a state
of captivity. Poor Mr Slope was rather beside himself. He thought
that Eleanor could not but have learnt from his demeanour that he
was an admirer of her own, and he had also flattered himself that
the idea was not unacceptable to her. What would she think of him
if he now devoted himself to a married woman?
But Eleanor was not inclined to be severe in her criticism on him
in that respect, and felt no annoyance of any kind, when she found
herself seated between Bertie and Charlotte Stanhope. She had not
suspicion of Mr Slope's intentions; she had no suspicion even of
the suspicion of other people; but still she felt well pleased not
to have Mr Slope too near to her.
And she was not ill-pleased to have Bertie Stanhope near her. It
was rarely indeed that he failed to make an agreeable impression on
strangers. With a bishop indeed who thought much of his own dignity
it was possible that he might fail, but hardly with a young lady
and pretty woman. He possessed the tact of becoming instantly
intimate with women without giving rise to any fear of
impertinence. He had about him somewhat of the propensities of a
tame cat. It seemed quite natural that he should be petted,
caressed, and treated with familiar good nature, and that in return
he should purr, and be sleek and graceful, and above all never show
his claws. Like other tame cats, however, he had his claws, and
sometimes, made them dangerous.
When tea was over Charlotte went to the open window and declared
loudly that the full harvest moon was much too beautiful to be
disregarded, and called them to look at it. To tell the truth,
there was but one there who cared much about the moon's beauty, and
that one was not Charlotte; but she knew how valuable an aid to her
purpose the chaste goddess might become, and could easily create a
little enthusiasm for the purpose of the moment. Eleanor and Bertie
were soon with her. The doctor was now quiet in his arm- chair, and
Mrs Stanhope in hers, both prepared for slumber.
'Are you a Whewellite or a Brewsterite, or a t'othermanite, Mrs
Bold?' said Charlotte, who knew a little about everything, and had
read about a third of each of the books to which she alluded.
'Oh!' said Eleanor; 'I have not read any of the books, but I feel
sure that there is one man in the moon at least, if not more.'
'You don't believe in the pulpy gelatinous matter?' said Bertie.
'I heard about that,' said Eleanor; 'and I really think it's almost
wicked to talk in such a manner. How can we argue about God's power
in the other stars from the laws which he has given for our role in
'How indeed!' said Bertie. 'Why shouldn't there be a race of
salamanders in Venus? And even if there be nothing but fish in
Jupiter, why shouldn't the fish there be as wide awake as the men
and women here?'
'That would be saying very little for them,' said Charlotte. 'I am
for Dr Whewell myself; for I do not think that men and woman are
worth being repeated in such countless worlds. There may be souls
in other stars, but I doubt their having any bodies attached to
them. But come, Mrs Bold, let us put our bonnets on and walk round
the close. If we are to discuss sidereal questions, we shall do so
much better under the towers of the cathedral, than stuck in this
Mrs Bold made no objection, and a party was made to walk out.
Charlotte Stanhope well knew the rule as to three being no company,
and she had therefore to induce her sister to allow Mr Slope to
'Come, Mr Slope,' she said; 'I'm sure you'll join us. We shall be
in again in quarter of an hour, Madeline.'
Madeline read in her eye all that she had to say, knew her object,
and as she had to depend on her sister for so many of her
amusements, she felt that she must yield. It was hard to be left
alone while others of her own age walked out to feel the soft
influence of the bright night, but it would be harder still without
the sort of sanction which Charlotte gave to all her flirtations
and intrigues. Charlotte's eye told her that she must give up just
at present for the good of the family, and so Madeline obeyed.
But Charlotte's eyes said nothing of the sort to Mr Slope. He had
no objection at all to the tete-a-tete with the signora, which the
departure of the other three would allow him, and gently whispered
to her, 'I shall not leave you alone.'
'Oh, yes,' said she; 'go--pray go, pray go, for my sake. Do not
think that I am so selfish. It is understood that nobody is kept
within for me. You will understand this too when you know me
better. Pray join them, Mr Slope, but when you come in speak to me
for five minutes before you leave us.'
Mr Slope understood that he was to go, and he therefore joined the
party in the hall. He would have had no objection at all to this
arrangement, if he could have secured Mrs Bold's arm; but this was
of course out of the question. Indeed, his fate was very soon
settled, for no sooner had he reached the hall-door, than Miss
Stanhope put her hand within his arm, and Bertie walked off with
Eleanor just as naturally as though she were already his own
And so they sauntered forth: first they walked round the close,
according to their avowed intent; then they went under the old
arched gateway below St Cuthbert's little church, and then they
turned behind the grounds of the bishop's palace, and so on till
they came to the bridge just at the edge of the town, from which
passers-by can look down into the gardens of Hiram's hospital; and
her Charlotte and Mr Slope, who were in advance, stopped till the
other two came up to them. Mr Slope knew that the gable-ends and
old brick chimneys which stood up so prettily in the moonlight,
were those of Mr Harding's late abode, and would not have stopped
on such a spot, in such company, if he could have avoided it; but
Miss Stanhope would not take the hint which he tried to give.
'This is a very pretty place, Mrs Bold,' said Charlotte; 'by far
the prettiest place near Barchester. I wonder your father gave it
It was a very pretty place, and now by the deceitful light of the
moon looked twice larger, twice prettier, twice more antiquely
picturesque than it would have done in truth-telling daylight. Who
does not know the air of complex multiplicity and the mysterious
interesting grace which the moon always lends to old gabled
buildings half surrounded, as was the hospital, by fine trees! As
seen from the bridge on the night of which we are speaking, Mr
Harding's late abode did look very lovely; and though Eleanor did
not grieve at her father's having left it, she felt at the moment
an intense wish that he might be allowed to return.
'He is going to return to it immediately, is he not?' asked Bertie.
Eleanor made no immediate reply. Much such a question passed
unanswered, without the notice of the questioner; but such was not
now the case. They all remained silent as though expecting her to
reply, and after a moment or two, Charlotte said, 'I believe it is
settled that Mr Harding returns to the hospital, is it not?'
'I don't think anything about it is settled yet,' said Eleanor.
'But it must be a matter of course,' said Bertie; 'that is, if your
father wishes it; who else on earth could hold it after what has
Eleanor quietly made her companion to understand that the matter
was one which she could not discuss in the present company; and
then they passed on; Charlotte said she would go a short way up the
hill out of the town so as to look back on the towers of the
cathedral, and as Eleanor leant upon Bertie's arm for assistance in
the walk, she told him how the matter stood between her father and
'And, he,' said Bertie, pointing on to Mr Slope, 'what part does he
take in it?'
Eleanor explained how Mr Slope had at first endeavoured to
tyrannize over her father, but how he had latterly come round, and
done all he could to talk the bishop over in Mr Harding's favour.
'But my father,' said she, 'is hardly inclined to trust him; they
all say he is so arrogant to the old clergyman of the city.'
'Take my word for it,' said Bertie, 'your father is right. If I am
not very much mistaken, that man is both arrogant and false.'
They strolled up the top of the hill, and then returned through the
fields by a footpath which leads by a small wooden bridge, or
rather a plank with a rustic rail to it, over the river to the
other side of the cathedral from that at which they had started.
They had thus walked round the bishop's grounds, through which the
river runs, and round the cathedral and adjacent fields, and it was
past eleven before they reached the doctor's door.
'It is very late,' said Eleanor, 'it will be a shame to disturb
your mother at such an hour.'
'Oh,' said Charlotte, laughing, 'you won't disturb mamma; I dare
say she is in bed by this time, and Madeline would be furious if
you do not come in and see her. Come, Bertie, take Mrs Bold's
bonnet from her.'
They went up stairs, and found the signora alone, reading. She
looked somewhat sad and melancholy, but not more so perhaps than
was sufficient to excite additional interest in the bosom of Mr
Slope; and she was soon deep in whispered intercourse with that
happy gentleman, who was allowed to find a resting-place on her
sofa. The signora had a way of whispering that was peculiarly her
own, and was exactly the reverse of that which prevails among great
tragedians. The great tragedian hisses out a positive whisper, made
with bated breath, and produced by inarticulate tongue-formed
sounds, but yet he is audible through the whole house. The signora
however used no hisses, and produced all her words in a clear
silver tone, but they could only be heard by the ear into which
they were poured.
Charlotte hurried and skurried about the room hither and thither,
doing, or pretending to do many things; and then saying something
about seeing her mother, ran up stairs. Eleanor was then left alone
with Bertie, and she hardly felt and hour fly by her. To give
Bertie his due credit, he could not have played his cards better.
He did not make love to her, nor sigh, nor look languishing; but he
was amusing and familiar, yet respectful; and when he left Eleanor
at her own door at one o'clock, which he did by the bye with the
assistance of the now jealous Slope, she thought he was one of the
most agreeable men, and the Stanhopes decidedly the most agreeable
family, that she had ever met.
The Reverend Francis Arabin, fellow of Lazarus, late professor of
poetry at Oxford, and present vicar of St Ewold, in the diocese of
Barchester, must now be introduced personally to the reader. And as
he will fill a conspicuous place in this volume, it is desirable
that he should be made to stand before the reader's eye by the aid
of such portraiture as the author is able to produce.
It is to be regretted that no mental method of daguerreotype or
photography has yet been discovered, by which the characters of men
can be reduced to writing and put into grammatical language with an
unerring precision of truthful description. How often does the
novelist feel, ay, and the historian also and the biographer, that
he has conceived within his mind and accurately depicted on the
tablet of his brain the full character and personage of a man, and
that nevertheless, when he flies to pen and ink to perpetuate the
portrait, his words forsake, elude, disappoint, and play the deuce
with him, till at the end of a dozen pages the man described has no
more resemblance to the man conceived than the sign board at the
corner of the street has to the Duke of Cambridge?
And yet such mechanical descriptive skill would hardly give more
satisfaction to the reader than the skill of the photographer does
to the anxious mother desirous to possess an absolute duplicate of
her beloved child. The likeness is indeed true; but it is a dull,
dead, unfeeling, inauspicious likeness. The face is indeed there,
and those looking at it will know at once whose image it is; but
the owner of the face will not be proud of the resemblance.
There is no royal road to learning; no short cut to the acquirement
of any art. Let photographers and daguerreotypers do what they
will, and improve as they may with further skill on that which
skill has already done, they will never achieve a portrait of the
human face as we may under the burdens which we so often feel too
heavy for our shoulders; we must either bear them up like men, or
own ourselves too weak for the work we have undertaken. There is no
way of writing well and also of writing easily.
Labor omnia vincit improbus. Such should be the chosen motto of
every labourer, and it may be that labour, if adequately enduring,
may suffice at last to produce even some not untrue resemblance of
the Rev. Francis Arabin.
Of his doings in the world, and of the sort of fame which he has
achieved, enough has already been said. It has also been said that
he is forty years of age, and still unmarried. He was the younger
son of a country gentleman of small fortune in the north of
England. At an early age he went to Winchester, and was intended by
his father for New College; but though studious as a boy, he was
not studious within the prescribed limits; and at the age of
eighteen he left school with a character for talent, but without a
scholarship. All that he had obtained, over and above the advantage
of his character, was a gold medal for English verse, and hence was
derived a strong presumption on the part of his friends that he was
destined to add another name to the imperishable list of English
From Winchester he went to Oxford, and was entered as a commoner at
Balliol. Here his special career very soon commenced. He utterly
eschewed the society of fast men, gave no wine parties, kept no
horses, rowed no boats, joined no rows, and was the pride of his
college tutor. Such at least was his career till he had taken his
little go; and then he commenced a course of action which, though
not less creditable to himself as a man, was hardly so much to the
taste of his tutor. He became a member of a vigorous debating
society, and rendered himself remarkable there for humorous energy.
Though always in earnest, yet his earnestness was always droll. To
be true in his ideas, unanswerable in his syllogisms, and just in
his aspirations was not enough for him. He had failed, failed in
his own opinion as well as that of others when others came to know
him, if he could not reduce the arguments of his opponents to an
absurdity, and conquer both by wit and reason. To say that his
object was ever to raise a laugh, would be most untrue. He hated
such common and unnecessary evidence of satisfaction on the part of
his hearers. A joke that required to be laughed at was, with him,
not worth uttering. He could appreciate by a keener sense than that
of his ears the success of his wit, and would see in the eyes of
his auditory whether or no he was understood and appreciated.
He had been a religious lad before he left school. That is, he had
addicted himself to a party of religion, and having done so had
received that benefit which most men do who become partisans in
such a cause. We are much too apt to look at schism in our church
as an unmitigated evil. Moderate schism, if there may be such a
thing, at any rate calls attention to the subject, draws its
supporters who would otherwise have been inattentive to the matter,
and teaches men to think about religion. How great an amount of
good of this description has followed that movement of the Church
of England which commenced with the publication of Froude's
As a boy young Arabin took up the cudgels on the side of the
Tractarians, and at Oxford he sat for a while at the feet of the
great Newman. To this cause he lent all his faculties. For it he
concocted verses, for it he made speeches, for it he scintillated
the brightest sparks of his quiet wit. For it he ate and drank and
dressed, and had his being. In due process of time he took his
degree, and wrote himself B.A., but he did not do so with any
remarkable amount of academical eclat. He had occupied himself too
much with high church matters, and the polemics, politics, and
outward demonstrations usually concurrent with high churchmanship,
to devote himself with sufficient vigour to the acquisition of a
double first. He was not a double first, nor even a first class
man; but he revenged himself on the university by putting first and
double firsts out of fashion for the year, and laughing down a
species of pedantry which at the age of twenty-three leaves no room
in a man's mind for graver subjects than conic sections or Greek
Greek accents, however, and conic sections were esteemed
necessaries at Balliol, and there was no admittance there for Mr
Arabin within the list of its fellows. Lazarus, however, the
richest and the most comfortable abode of Oxford dons, opened its
bosom to the young champion of a church militant. Mr Arabin was
ordained, and became a fellow soon after taking his degree, and
shortly after that was chosen professor of poetry.
And now came the moment of his great danger. After many mental
struggles, and an agony of doubt which may be well surmised, the
great prophet of the Tractarians confessed himself a Roman
Catholic. Mr Newman left the Church of England, and with him
carried many a waverer. He did not carry off Mr Arabin, but the
escape which that gentleman had was a very narrow one. He left
Oxford for a while that he might meditate in complete peace on the
step which appeared for him to be all but unavoidable, and shut
himself up in a little village on the sea-shore of one of our
remotest counties, that he might learn by communing with his own
soul whether or no he could with a safe conscience remain within
the pale of his mother church.
Things would have gone badly with him there had he been left
entirely to himself. Every thing was against him: all his worldly
interests required him to remain a Protestant; and he looked on his
worldly interests as a legion of foes, to get the better of whom
was a point of extremest honour. In his then state of ecstatic
agony such a conquest would have cost him little; but it cost him
much to get over the idea of choosing the Church of England he
should be open in his own mind to the charge that he had been led
to such a choice by unworthy motives. Then his heart was against
him: he loved with a strong and eager love the man who had hitherto
been his guide, and yearned to follow his footsteps. His tastes
were against him: the ceremonies and pomps of the Church of Rome,
their august feasts and solemn fasts, invited his imagination and
pleased his eye. His flesh was against him: how great an aid would
it be to a poor, weak, wavering man to be constrained to high moral
duties, self-denial, obedience, and chastity by laws which were
certain in their enactments, and not to be broken without loud,
palpable, unmistakable sin! Then his faith was against him: he
required to believe so much; panted so early to give signs of his
belief; deemed it so insufficient to wash himself simply in the
waters of Jordan; that some great deed, such as that of forsaking
everything for a true church, had for him allurements almost past
Mr Arabin was at this time a very young man, and when he left
Oxford for his far retreat was much too confident in his powers of
fence, and too apt to look down on the ordinary sense of ordinary
people, to expect aid in the battle that he had to fight from any
chance inhabitants on the spot which he had selected. But
Providence was good to him; and there, in that all but desolate
place, on the storm-beat shore of that distant sea, he met one who
gradually changed his mind, quieted his imagination, and taught him
something of a Christian's duty. When Mr Arabin left Oxford, he was
inclined to look upon the rural clergymen of most English parishes
almost with contempt. It was his ambition, should he remain within
the fold of the church, to do somewhat towards redeeming and
rectifying their inferiority, and to assist in infusing energy and
faith into the hearts of Christian ministers, who were, as he
thought, too often satisfied to go through life without much show
And yet it was from such a one that Mr Arabin in his extremest need
received that aid which he so much required. It was from a poor
curate of a small Cornish parish that he first learnt to know that
the highest laws for the governance of a Christian's duty must act
from within and not from without; that no man can become a
serviceable servant solely by obedience to written edicts; and that
the safety which he was about to seek within the gates of Rome was
no other than the selfish freedom from personal danger which the
bad soldier attempts to gain who counterfeits illness on the eve of
Mr Arabin returned to Oxford a humbler but a better and a happier
man; and from that time forth he put his shoulder to the wheel as a
clergyman of the Church for which he had been educated. The
intercourse of those among whom he familiarly lived kept him
staunch to the principles of that system of the Church to which he
had always belonged. Since his severance from Mr Newman, no one had
had so strong an influence over him as the head of his college.
During the time of his expected apostasy, Dr Gwynne had not felt
much predisposition in favour of the young fellow. Though a High
Churchman himself within moderate limits, Dr Gwynne felt no
sympathy with men who could not satisfy their faiths with the
Thirty-nine Articles. He regarded the enthusiasm of such as Newman
as a state of mind more nearly allied to madness than to religion;
and when he saw it evinced by a very young men, was inclined to
attribute a good deal of it to vanity. Dr Gwynne himself, though a
religious man, was also a thoroughly practical man of the world,
and he regarded with no favourable eye the tenets of any one who
looked on the two things as incompatible. When he found Mr Arabin
was a half Roman, he began to regret all that he done towards
bestowing a fellowship on so unworthy a recipient; and when again
he learnt that Mr Arabin would probably complete his journey to
Rome, he regarded with some satisfaction the fact that in such case
the fellowship would be again vacant.
When, however, Mr Arabin returned and professed himself a confirmed
Protestant, the master of Lazarus again opened his arms to him, and
gradually he became the pet of the college. For some little time he
was saturnine, silent, and unwilling to take any prominent part in
university broils; but gradually his mind recovered, or rather made
its tone, and he became known as a man always ready at a moment's
notice to take up the cudgels in opposition to anything which
savoured of an evangelical bearing. He was great in sermons, great
on platforms, great at after dinner conversations, and always
pleasant as well as great. He took delight in elections, served on
committees, opposed tooth and nail all projects of university
reform, and talked jovially over his glass of port of the ruin to
be committed by the Whigs. The ordeal through which he had gone, in
resisting the blandishments of the lady of Rome, had certainly done
much towards the strengthening of his character. Although in small
and outward matters he was self-confident enough, nevertheless in
things affecting the inner man he aimed at a humility of spirit
which would never have been attractive to him but for that visit to
the coast of Cornwall. This visit he now repeated every year.
Such is an interior view of Mr Arabin at the time when he accepted
the living of St Ewold. Exteriorly, he was not a remarkable person.
He was above the middle height, well made, and very active. His
hair which had been jet black, was now tinged with gray, but his
face bore no sign of years. It would perhaps be wrong to say that
he was handsome, but his face was, nevertheless, high for beauty,
and the formation of the forehead too massive and heavy: but his
eyes, nose and mouth were perfect. There was a continual play of
lambent fire about his eyes, which gave promise of either pathos or
humour whenever he essayed to speak, and that promise was rarely
broken. There was a gentle play about his mouth which declared that
his wit never descended to sarcasm, and that there was no
ill-nature in his repartee.
Mr Arabin was a popular man among women, but more so as a general
than a special favourite. Living as a fellow at Oxford, marriage
with him had been out of the question, and it may be doubted
whether he had ever allowed his heart to be touched. Though
belonging to a Church in which celibacy is not the required lot of
its ministers, he had come to regard himself as one of those
clergymen to whom to be a bachelor is almost a necessity. He had
never looked for parochial duty, and his career at Oxford was
utterly incompatible with such domestic joys as a wife and nursery.
He looked on women, therefore, in the same light that one sees then
regarded by many Romish priests. He liked to have near him that
which was pretty and amusing, but women generally were little more
to him than children. He talked to them without putting out all his
powers, and listened to them without any idea that what he should
hear from them could either actuate his conduct or influence his
Such was Mr Arabin, the new vicar of St Ewold, who is going to stay
with the Grantlys, at Plumstead Episcopi.
Mr Arabin reached Plumstead the day before Mr Harding and Eleanor,
and the Grantly family were thus enabled to make his acquaintance
and discuss his qualifications before the arrival of the other
guests. Griselda was surprised to find that he looked so young; but
she told Florinda her younger sister, when they had retired for the
night, that he did not talk at all like a young man: and she
decided with the authority that seventeen has over sixteen, that he
was not at all nice, although his eyes were lovely. As usual,
sixteen implicitly acceded to the dictum of seventeen in such a
matter, and said that he certainly was not nice. They then branched
off on the relative merits of other clerical bachelors in the
vicinity, and both determined without any feeling of jealousy
between them that a certain Rev. Augustus Green was by many degrees
the most estimable of the lot. The gentleman in question had
certainly much in his favour, as, having a comfortable allowance
from his father, he could devote the whole proceeds of his curacy
to violet gloves and unexceptionable neck ties. Having thus fixedly
resolved that the new comer had nothing about him to shake the
pre-eminence of the exalted Green, the two girls went to sleep in
each other's arms, contented with themselves and the world.
Mrs Grantly at first sight came to much the same conclusion about
her husband's favourite as her daughters had done, though, in
seeking to measure his relative value, she did not compare him to
Mr Green; indeed, she made no comparison by name between him and
any one else; but she remarked to her husband that one person's
swans were very often another person's geese, thereby clearly
showing that Mr Arabin had not yet proved his qualifications in
swanhood to her satisfaction.
'Well, Susan,' said he, rather offended at hearing his friend
spoken of so disrespectfully, 'if you take Mr Arabin for a goose, I
cannot say that I think very highly of your discrimination.'
'A goose! No of course, he's not a goose. I've no doubt he's a very
clever man. But you're so matter-of-fact, archdeacon, when it suits
your purpose, that one can't trust oneself to any facon de parler.
I've no doubt Mr Arabin is a very valuable man--at Oxford, and that
he'll be a good vicar at St Ewold. All I mean is, that having
passed one evening with him, I don't find him to be absolutely a
paragon. In the first place, if I am not mistaken, he is a little
inclined to be conceited.'
'Of all the men that I know intimately,' said the archdeacon,
'Arabin is, in my opinion, the most free from any taint of
self-conceit. His fault is that he's too diffident.'
'Perhaps so,' said the lady; 'only I must own I did not find it out
Nothing further was said about him. Dr Grantly thought that his
wife was abusing Mr Arabin merely because he had praised him; and
Mrs Grantly knew that it was useless arguing for or against any
person in favour of, or in opposition to whom the archdeacon had
already pronounced a strong opinion.
In truth they were both right. Mr Arabin was a diffident man in
social intercourse with those whom he did not intimately know; when
placed in situations which it was his business to fill, and
discussing matters with which it was his duty to be conversant, Mr
Arabin was from habit brazed-faced enough. When standing on a
platform in Exeter Hall, no man would be less mazed than he by the
eyes of the crowd before him; for such was the work which his
profession had called on him to perform; but he shrank from a
strong expression of opinion in general society, and his doing so
not uncommonly made it appear that he considered the company not
worth the trouble of his energy. He was averse to dictate when the
place did not seem to him to justify dictation; and as those
subjects on which people wished to hear him speak were such as he
was accustomed to treat with decision, he generally shunned the
traps there were laid to allure him into discussion, and, by doing
so, not unfrequently subjected himself to such charges as those
brought against him by Mrs Grantly.
Mr Arabin, as he sat at his open window, enjoying the delicious
moonlight and gazing at the gray towers of the church, which stood
almost within the rectory grounds, little dreamed that he was the
subject of so many friendly or unfriendly criticisms. Considering
how much we are all given to discuss the characters of others, and
discuss them often not in the strictest spirit of charity, it is
singular how little we are inclined to think that others can speak
ill-naturedly of us, and how angry and hurt we are when proof
reaches us that they have done so. It is hardly too much to say
that we all of us occasionally speak of our dearest friends in a
manner which those dearest friends would very little like to hear
themselves mentioned; and that we nevertheless expect that our
dearest friends shall invariably speak of us as though they were
blind to all our faults, but keenly alive to every shade of our
It did not occur to Mr Arabin that he was spoken of at all. It
seemed to him, when he compared himself with his host, that he was
a person of so little consequence to any, that he was worth no
one's words or thoughts. He was utterly alone in the world as
regarded domestic ties and those inner familiar relations which are
hardly possible between others than husbands and wives, parents and
children, or brothers and sisters. He had often discussed with
himself the necessity of such bonds for a man's happiness in this
world, and had generally satisfied himself with the answer that
happiness in this world was not a necessity. Herein he deceived
himself, or rather tried to do so. He, like others, yearned for the
enjoyment of whatever he saw enjoyable; and though he attempted,
with the modern stoicism of so many Christians, to make himself
believe that joy and sorrow were matters which here should be held
as perfectly indifferent, those things were not indifferent to him.
He was tired of his Oxford rooms and his college life. He regarded
the wife and children of his friend with something like envy; he
all but coveted the pleasant drawing-room, with its pretty windows
opening on to lawns and flower-beds, the apparel of the comfortable
house, and--above all--the air of home which encompassed all.
It will be said that no time can have been fitted for such desires
on his part as this, of a living among fields and gardens, of a
house which a wife would grace. It is true there was a difference
between the opulence of Plumstead and the modest economy of St
Ewold; but surely Mr Arabin was not a man to sigh after wealth! Of
all men, his friends would have unanimously declared he was the
last to do so. But how little our friends know us! In his period of
stoical rejection of this world's happiness, he had cast from him
as utter dross all anxiety as to fortune. He had, as it were,
proclaimed himself to be indifferent to promotion, and those who
chiefly admired his talents, and would mainly have exerted to
secure them their deserved reward, had taken him at his word. And
now, if the truth must out, he felt himself
disappointed--disappointed not by them but by himself. The daydream
of his youth was over, and at the age of forty he felt that he was
not fit to work in the spirit of an apostle. He had mistaken
himself, and learned his mistake when it was past remedy. He had
professed himself indifferent to mitres and diaconal residences, to
rich livings and pleasant glebes, and now he had to own to himself
that he was sighing for the good things of other men, on whom in
his pride he had ventured to look down.
Not for wealth, in its vulgar sense, had he ever sighed; not for
the enjoyment of rich things had he ever longed; but for the
allotted share of worldly bliss, which a wife, and children, and
happy home could give him, for that usual amount of comfort which
he had ventured to reject as unnecessary for him, he did now feel
that he would have been wiser to search.
He knew that his talents, his position, and his friends would have
won for him promotion, had he put himself in the way of winning it.
Instead of doing so, he had allowed himself an income of some L 300
a year, should he, by marrying, throw up his fellowship. Such, at
the age of forty, was the worldly result of labour, which the world
had chosen to regard as successful. The world also thought that Mr
Arabin was, in his own estimation, sufficiently paid. Alas! alas!
the world was mistaken; and Mr Arabin was beginning to ascertain
that such was the case.
And here, may I beg the reader not to be hard in the judgement upon
this man. Is not the state at which he has arrived, the natural
result of efforts to reach that which is not the condition of
humanity? Is not modern stoicism, built though it be on
Christianity, as great an outrage on human nature as was the
stoicism of the ancients? The philosophy of Zeno was built on true
laws, but on true laws misunderstood, and therefore misapplied. It
is the same with our Stoics here, who would teach us that wealth
and worldly comfort and happiness on earth are not worth the
search. Also, for a doctrine which can find no believing pupils and
no true teachers!
The case of Mr Arabin was the more singular, as he belonged to a
branch of the Church of England well inclined to regard its
temporalities with avowed favour, and had habitually lived with men
who were accustomed to much worldly comfort. But such was his
idiosyncrasy, that these very facts had produced within him, in
early life, a state of mind that was not natural to him. He was
content to be a High Churchman, if he could be so on principles of
his own, and could strike out a course showing a marked difference
from those with whom he consorted. He was ready to be a partisan as
long as he was allowed to have a course of action and of thought
unlike that of his party. His party had indulged him, and he began
to feel that his party was right and himself wrong, but when such a
conviction was too late to be of service to him. He discovered,
when much was discovery was no longer serviceable, that it would
have been worth his while to have worked for the usual pay assigned
to work in this world, and have earned a wife and children, with a
carriage for them to sit in; to have earned a pleasant dining-room,
in which his friends could drink his wine, and the power of walking
up in the high street of his country town, with the knowledge that
all its tradesmen would have gladly welcomed him within their
doors. Other men arrived at those convictions in their start of
life, and so worked up to them. To him they had come when they were
too late to be of use.
It has been said that Mr Arabin was a man of pleasantry and it may
be thought that such a state of mind as that described, would be
antagonistic to humour. But surely such is not the case. Wit is the
outward mental casing of the man, and has no more to do with the
inner mind of thought and feelings than have the rich brocaded
garments of the priest at the altar with the asceticism of the
anchorite below them, whose skin is tormented with sackcloth, and
whose body is half flayed with rods. Nay, will not such a one often
rejoice more than any other in the rich show of outer apparel? Will
it not be food for his pride to feel that he groans inwardly, while
he shines outwardly? So it is with the mental efforts which men
make. Those which they show forth daily to the world are often the
opposites of the inner workings of the spirit.
In the archdeacon's drawing-room, Mr Arabin had sparkled with his
usual unaffected brilliancy, but when he retired to his bed-room,
he sat there sad, at his open window, repining within himself that
he also had no wife, no bairns, no soft award of lawn duly mown for
him to be on, no herd of attendant curates, no bowings from the
banker's clerks, no rich rectory. That apostleship that he had
thought of had evaded his grasp, and he was now only vicar of St
Ewold's, with a taste for a mitre. Truly he had fallen between two
ST EWOLD'S PARSONAGE
When Mr Harding and Mrs Bold reached the rectory on the following
morning, the archdeacon and his friend were at St Ewold's. They had
gone over that the new vicar might inspect his church, and be
introduced to the squire, and were not expected back before dinner.
Mr Harding rambled out by himself, and strolled, as was his wont at
Plumstead, about the lawn and round the church; and as he did so,
the two sisters naturally fell into conversation about Barchester.
There was not much sisterly confidence between them. Mrs Grantly
was ten years older than Eleanor, and had been married while
Eleanor was yet a child. They had never, therefore, poured into
each other's ears their hopes and loves; and now that one was a
wife and the other a widow, it was not probable that they would
begin to do so. They lived too much asunder to be able to fall into
that kind of intercourse which makes confidence between sisters
almost a necessity; and, moreover, that which is so easy at
eighteen is often very difficult at twenty-eight. Mrs Grantly knew
this, and did not, therefore, expect confidence from her sister;
and yet she longed to ask her whether in real truth Mr Slope was
agreeable to her.
It was by no means difficult to turn the conversation to Mr Slope.
That gentleman had become so famous at Barchester, had so much to
do with all clergymen connected with the city, and was so specially
concerned in the affairs of Mr Harding, that it would have been odd
if Mr Harding's daughters had not talked about him. Mrs Grantly was
soon abusing him, which she did with her whole heart; and Mrs Bold
was nearly as eager to defend him. She positively disliked the man,
would have been delighted to learn that he had taken himself off so
that she should never see him again, had indeed almost a fear of
him, and yet she constantly found herself taking his part. The
abuse of other people, and abuse of a nature that she felt to be
unjust, imposed that necessity on her, and at last made Mr Slope's
defence an habitual course of argument with her.
From Mr Slope the conversation turned to the Stanhopes, and Mrs
Grantly was listening with some interest to Eleanor's account of
the family, when it dropped out that Mr Slope was one of the party.
'What!' said the lady of the rectory, 'was Mr Slope there too?'
Eleanor merely replied that such had been the case.
'Why, Eleanor, he must be very fond of you, I think; he seems to
follow you everywhere.'
Even this did not open Eleanor's eyes. She merely laughed, and said
that she imagined Mr Slope found other attraction at Dr Stanhope's.
And so they parted. Mrs Grantly felt quite convinced that the
odious match would take place; and Mrs Bold as convinced that that
unfortunate chaplain, disagreeable as he must be allowed to be, was
more sinned against than sinning.
The archdeacon of course heard before dinner that Eleanor had
remained the day before at Barchester with the view of meeting Mr
Slope, and that she had so met him. He remembered how she had
positively stated that there were to be guests at the Stanhopes,
and he did not hesitate to accuse her of deceit. Moreover, the
fact, or rather the presumed fact, of her being deceitful on such a
matter, spoke but too plainly in evidence against her as to her
imputed crime of receiving Mr Slope as a lover.
'I am afraid that anything we can do will be too late,' said the
archdeacon. 'I own I am fairly surprised. I never liked your
sister's taste with regard to men; but still I did not give her
'And so soon, too,' said Mrs Grantly, who thought more, perhaps, of
her sister's indecorum in having a lover before she had put off her
weeds, than her bad taste in having such a lover as Mr Slope.
'Well, my dear, I shall be sorry to be harsh, or to do anything
that can hurt your father; but, positively, neither that man nor
his wife shall come within my doors.'
Mrs Grantly sighed, and then attempted to console herself and her
lord by remarking that, after all, the thing was not accomplished
yet. Now that Eleanor was at Plumstead, much might be done to wean
her from her fatal passion. Poor Eleanor!
The evening passed off without anything to make it remarkable. Mr
Arabin discussed the parish of St Ewold with the archdeacon, and
Mrs Grantly and Mr Harding, who knew the parsonages of the parish,
joined in. Eleanor also knew them, but spoke little. Mr Arabin did
not apparently take much notice of her, and she was not in a humour
to receive at that time with any special grace any special
favourite of her brother-in-law. Her first idea on reaching her
bedroom was that a much more pleasant family party might be met at
Dr Stanhope's than at the rectory. She began to think that she was
getting tired of clergymen and their respectable humdrum wearisome
mode of living, and that after all, people in the outer world, who
had lived in Italy, London, or elsewhere, need not necessarily be
regarded as atrocious and abominable. The Stanhopes, she had
thought, were a giddy, thoughtless, extravagant set of people; but
she had seen nothing wrong about them, and had, on the other hand,
found that they thoroughly knew how to make their house agreeable.
It was a thousand pities, she thought, that the archdeacon should
not have a little of the same savoir vivre. Mr Arabin, as we have
said, did not apparently take much notice of her; but yet he did
not go to bed without feeling that he had been in company with a
very pretty woman; and as is the case with most bachelors, and some
married men, regarded the prospect of his month's visit at
Plumstead in a pleasanter light, when he learnt that a very pretty
woman was to share it with him.
Before they all retired it was settled that the whole party should
drive over on the following day to inspect the parsonage at St
Ewold. The three clergymen were to discuss dilapidations, and the
two ladies were to lend their assistance in suggesting such changes
as might be necessary for a bachelor's abode. Accordingly, soon
after breakfast, the carriage was at the door. There was only room
for four inside, and the archdeacon got upon the box. Eleanor found
herself opposite to Mr Arabin, and was, therefore, in a manner
forced into conversation with him. They were soon on comfortable
terms together; and had she thought about it, she would have
thought that, in spite of his black cloth, Mr Arabin would not have
been a bad addition to the Stanhope family party.
Now that the archdeacon was away, they could all trifle. Mr Harding
began by telling them in the most innocent manner imaginable an old
legend about Mr Arabin's new parish. There was, he said, in days of
yore, an illustrious priestess of St Ewold, famed through the whole
country for curing all manner of diseases. She had a well, as all
priestesses have ever had, which well was extant to this day, and
shared in the minds of many of the people the sanctity which
belonged to the consecrated grounds of the parish church. Mr Arabin
declared that he should look on such tenets on the part of the
parishioners as anything but orthodox. And Mrs Grantly replied
that she so entirely disagreed with him as to think that no parish
was in a proper estate that had not its priestess as well as its
priest. 'The duties are never well done,' said she, 'unless they
are so divided.'
'I suppose, papa,' said Eleanor, 'that in the oldest times the
priestess bore all the sway herself. Mr Arabin, perhaps, thinks
that such might be too much the case now if a sacred lady were
admitted within the parish.'
'I think, at any rate,' said he, 'that it is safer to run no such
risk. No priestly pride has ever exceeded that of sacerdotal
females. A very lowly curate, I might, perhaps, essay to rule; but
a curatess would be sure to get the better of me.'
'There are certainly examples of such accidents happening,' said
Mrs Grantly. 'They do say that there is a priestess at Barchester
who is very imperious in all things touching the altar. Perhaps the
fear of such a fate as that is before your eyes.'
When they were joined by the archdeacon on the gravel before the
vicarage, they descended again to grave dullness. Not that
Archdeacon Grantly was a dull man; but his frolic humours were of a
cumbrous kind; and his wit, when he was witty, did not generally
extend itself to his auditory. On the present occasion, he was soon
making speeches about wounded roofs and walls, which he declared to
be in want of some surgeon's art. There was not a partition that he
did not tap, nor a block of chimneys that he did not narrowly
examine; all water-pipes, flues, cisterns, and sewers underwent his
examination; and he even descended, in the care of his friend, so
far as to bore sundry boards in the floors with a bradawl.
Mr Arabin accompanied him through the rooms, trying to look wise in
such domestic matters, and the other three also followed. Mrs
Grantly showed that she herself had not been priestess of a parish
twenty years for nothing, and examined the bells and window panes
in a very knowing way.
'You will, at any rate, have a beautiful prospect out of your own
window, if this is to be your private sanctum,' said Eleanor. She
was standing at the lattice of a little room up stairs, from which
the view certainly was very lovely. It was from the back of the
vicarage, and there was nothing to interrupt the eye between the
house and the glorious gray pile of the cathedral. The intermediate
ground, however, was beautifully studded with timber. In the
immediate foreground ran the little river which afterwards skirted
the city; and, just to the right of the cathedral the pointed
gables and chimneys of Hiram's Hospital peeped out of the elms
which encompass it.
'Yes,' said he, joining her. 'I shall have a beautifully complete
view of my adversaries. I shall sit down before the hostile town,
and fire away at them at a very pleasant distance. I shall just be
able to lodge a shot in the hospital, should the enemy ever get
possession of it; and as for the palace, I have it within full
'I never saw anything like you clergymen,' said Eleanor; 'you are
always thinking of fighting each other.'
'Either that,' said he, 'or else supporting each other. The pity is
that we cannot do the one without the other. But are we not here to
fight? Is not ours a church militant? What is all our work but
fighting, and hard fighting, if it be well done?'
'But not with each other.'
'That's as it may be. The same complaint which you make of me for
battling with another clergyman of our own church, the Mahometan
would make against me for battling with the error of a priest of
Rome. Yet, surely, you would not be inclined to say that I should
be wrong to do battle with such as him. A pagan, too, with his
multiplicity of gods, would think it equally odd that the Christian
and the Mahometan should disagree.'
'Ah! But you wage your wars about trifles so bitterly.'
'Wars about trifles,' said he, 'are always bitter, especially among
neighbours. When the differences are great, and the parties
comparative strangers, men quarrel with courtesy. What combatants
are ever so eager as two brothers?'
'But do not such contentions bring scandal on the church?'
'More scandal would fall on the church if there were no such
contentions. We have but one way to avoid them--that of
acknowledging a common head of our church, whose word on all points
of doctrine shall be authoritative. Such a termination of our
difficulties is alluring enough. It has charms which are
irresistible to many, and all but irresistible, I own, to me.'
'You speak now of the Church of Rome?' said Eleanor.
'No,' said he, 'not necessarily the Church of Rome; but of a church
with a head. Had it pleased God to vouchsafe to us such a church
our path would have been easy. But easy paths have not been thought
good for us.' He paused and stood silent for a while, thinking of
the time when he had so nearly sacrificed all he had, his powers of
mind, his free agency, the fresh running waters of his mind's
fountain, his very inner self, for an easy path in which no
fighting would be needed; and then he continued: 'What you say is
partly true; our contentions do bring on us some scandal. The outer
world, though it constantly reviles us for our human infirmities,
and throws in our teeth the fact that being clergymen we are still
no more then men, demands of us that we should do our work with
godlike perfection. There is nothing godlike about us: we differ
from each other with the acerbity common to man--we allow
differences on subjects of divine origin to produce among us
antipathies and enmities which are anything but divine. This is all
true. But what would you have in place of it? There is no
infallible head for a church on earth. This dream of believing man
has been tried, and we see in Italy and in Spain what has become of
it. Grant that there are and have been no bickerings within the
pale of the Pope's Church. Such an assumption would be utterly
untrue; but let us grant it, and then let us say which church has
incurred the heaviest scandals.'
There was a quiet earnestness about Mr Arabin, as he half
acknowledged and half defended himself from the charge brought
against him, which surprised Eleanor. She had been used all her
life to listen to clerical discussion; but the points at issue
between the disputants had so seldom been of more than temporal
significance as to have left on her mind no feeling of reverence
for such subjects. There had always been a hard worldly leaven of
the love either of income or power in the strains that she had
heard; there had been no panting for the truth; no aspirations
after religious purity. It had always been taken for granted by
those around her that they were indubitably right, that there was
no ground for doubt, that the hard uphill work of ascertaining what
the duty of a clergyman should be had been already accomplished in
full; and that what remained for an active militant parson to do,
was to hold his own against all comers. Her father, it is true, was
an exception to this; but then he was so essentially non-militant
in all things, that she classed him in her own mind apart from all
others. She had never argued the matter within herself, or
considered whether this common tone was or was not faulty; but she
was sick of it without knowing that she was so. And now she found
to her surprise and not without a certain pleasurable excitement,
that this new comer among them spoke in a manner very different
from that to which she was accustomed.
'It is so easy to condemn,' said he, continuing the thread of his
thoughts. 'I know no life that must be so delicious as that of a
writer for newspapers, or a leading member of the opposition--to
thunder forth accusations against men in power; show up the worst
side of every thing that is produced; to pick holes in every coat;
to be indignant, sarcastic, jocose, moral, or supercilious; to damn
with faint praise, or crush with open calumny! What can be so easy
as this when the critic has to be responsible for nothing? You
condemn what I do; but put yourself in my position and do the
reverse, and then see if I cannot condemn you.'
'Oh! Mr Arabin, I do not condemn you.'
'Pardon me, you do, Mrs Bold--you as one of the world; you are now
the opposition member; you are now composing your leading article,
and well and bitterly you do it. "Let dogs delight to bark and
bite;" you fitly began with an elegant quotation; "but if we are to
have a church at all, in heaven's name let the pastors who preside
over it keep their hands from each other's throats. Lawyers can
live without befouling each other's names; doctors do not fight
duels. Why is that clergymen alone should indulge themselves in
such unrestrained liberty of abuse against each other?" and so you
go on reviling us for our ungodly quarrels, our sectarian
propensities, and scandalous differences. It will, however, give
you no trouble to write another article next week in which we, or
some of us, shall be twitted with an unseemly apathy in matters of
our vocation. It will not fall on you to reconcile the discrepancy;
your readers will never ask you how the poor parson is to be urgent
in season and out of season, and yet never come in contact with men
who think widely differently from him. You, when you condemn this
foreign treaty, or that official arrangement, will have to incur no
blame for the graver faults of any different measure. It is so easy
to condemn; and so pleasant too; for eulogy charms no listeners as
Eleanor only half followed him in his raillery; but she caught his
meaning. 'I know I ought to apologise for presuming to criticise
you,' she said; 'but I was thinking with sorrow of the ill-will
that has lately come among us at Barchester, and I spoke more
freely than I should have done.'
'Peace on earth and good-will among men, are, like heaven, promises
for the future;' said he, following rather his own thoughts than
hers. 'When that prophecy is accomplished, there will no longer be
any need for clergymen.'
Here they were interrupted by the archdeacon, whose voice was heard
from the cellar shouting to the vicar.
'Arabin, Arabin,'--and then turning to his wife, who was apparently
at his elbow--'where is he gone to? This cellar is perfectly
abominable. It would be murder to put a bottle of wine into it till
it has been roofed, walled, and floored. How on earth old
Goodenough ever got on with it, I cannot guess. But then Goodenough
never had a glass of wine that any man could drink.'
'What is it, archdeacon?' said the vicar, running down stairs, and
leaving Eleanor above to her meditations.
'This cellar must be roofed, walled, and floored,' repeated the
archdeacon. 'Now mind what I say, and don't let the architect
persuade you that it will do; half of those fellows know nothing
about wine. This place as it is now would be damp and cold in
winter, and hot and muggy in summer. I wouldn't give a straw for
the best wine that ever was minted, after it had lain here a couple
Mr Arabin assented, and promised that the cellar should be
reconstructed according to the archdeacon's receipt.
'And, Arabin, look here; was such an attempt at a kitchen grate
'The grate is really very bad,' said Mrs Grantly; 'I am sure the
priestess won't approve of it, when she is brought here to the
scene of future duties. Really, Mr Arabin, no priestess accustomed
to such an excellent well as that above could put up with such a
grate as this.'
'If there must be a priestess at St Ewold's at all, Mrs Grantly, I
think we shall leave her to her well, and not call down her divine
wrath on any of the imperfections rising from our human poverty.
However, I own I am amenable to the attractions of a well-cooked
dinner, and the grate shall certainly be changed.'
By this time the archdeacon had again ascended, and was now in the
dining-room. 'Arabin,' said he, speaking in his usual loud clear
voice, and with that tone of dictation which was so common to him;
'you must positively alter this dining-room, that is, remodel it
altogether; look here, it is just sixteen feet by fifteen; did
anybody ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions?' and the
archdeacon stepped the room long-ways and cross-ways with ponderous
steps, as though a certain amount of ecclesiastical dignity could
be imparted even to such an occupation as that by the manner of
doing it. 'Barely sixteen; you may call it a square.'
'It would do very well for a round table,' suggested the ex-warden.
Now there was something peculiarly unorthodox in the archdeacon's
estimation in the idea of a round table. He had always been
accustomed to a goodly board of decent length, comfortably
elongating itself according to the number of guests, nearly black
with perpetual rubbing, and as bright as a mirror. Now round dinner
tables are generally of oak, or else of such new construction as
not to have acquired the peculiar hue which was so pleasing to him.
He connected them with what he called the nasty new fangled method
of leaving cloth on the table, as though to warn people that they
were not to sit long. In his eyes there was something democratic
and parvenu in a round table. He imagined that dissenters and
calico-printers chiefly used them, and perhaps a few literary lions
more conspicuous for their wit than their gentility. He was a
little flurried at the idea of such an article, being introduced
into the diocese by a protege of his own, and at the instigation of
'A round dinner-table,' said he, with some heat, 'is the most
abominable article of furniture that ever was invented. I hope that
Arabin has more taste than to allow such a thing in his house.'
Poor Mr Harding felt himself completely snubbed, and of course said
nothing further; but Mr Arabin, who had yielded submissively in the
small matters of the cellar and kitchen grate, found himself
obliged to oppose reforms which might be of a nature too expensive
for his pocket.
'But it seems to me, archdeacon, that I can't very well lengthen
the room without pulling down the wall, and if I pull down the
wall, I must build it up again; then if I throw out a bow on this
side, I must do the same on the other, then if I do it for the
ground floor, I must carry it up to the floor above. That will be
putting a new front to the house, and will cost, I suppose, a
couple of hundred pounds. The ecclesiastical commissioners will
hardly assist me when they hear that my grievance consists in
having a dining-room only sixteen feet long.'
The archdeacon proceeded to explain that nothing would be easier
than adding six feet to the front of the dining-room, without
touching any other of the house. Such irregularities of
construction in small country houses were, he said, rather graceful
than otherwise, and he offered to pay for the whole thing out of
his own pocket if it cost more than forty pounds. Mr Arabin,
however, was firm, and, although the archdeacon fussed and fumed
about it, would not give way.
Forty pounds, he said, was a matter of serious moment to him, and
his friends, if under such circumstances they would be good-natured
enough to come to him at all, must put up with the misery of a
square room. He was willing to compromise matters by disclaiming
any intention of having a round table.
'But,' said Mrs Grantly, 'what if the priestess insists on have
both the rooms enlarged?'
'The priestess in that case must do it for herself, Mrs Grantly.'
'I have no doubt she will be well able to do so,' replied the lady;
'to do that and many more wonderful things. I am quite sure that
the priestess of St Ewold, when she does come, won't come
Mr Arabin, however, did not appear well inclined to enter into
speculative expenses on such a chance as this, and therefore, any
material alterations in the house, the cost of which could not
fairly be made to lie at the door either of the ecclesiastical
commission or of the estate of the late incumbent, were tabooed.
With this essential exception, the archdeacon ordered, suggested,
and carried all points before him in a manner very much to his own
satisfaction. A close observer, had there been one there, might
have seen that his wife had been quite as useful in the matter as
himself. No one knew better than Mrs Grantly the appurtenances
necessary to a comfortable house. She did not, however, think it
necessary to lay claim to any of the glory which her lord and
master was so ready to appropriate as his own.
Having gone through their work effectively, and systematically, the
party returned to Plumstead well satisfied with their expedition.
THE THORNES OF ULLATHORNE
On the following Sunday Mr Arabin was to read himself in at his new
church. It was agreed at the rectory that the archdeacon should go
over with him and assist at the reading-desk, and that Mr Harding
should take the archdeacon's duty at Plumstead Church. Mrs Grantly
had her school and her buns to attend to, and professed that she