Part 7 out of 11
was very uneasy.
Not that he remained there for half or a quarter of that time. In
spite of what Eleanor had said, Mr Arabin was, in truth, a manly
man. Having ascertained that he loved this woman, and having now
reason to believe that she was free to receive his love, at least
if she pleased to do so, he followed her into the garden to make
such wooing as he could.
He was not long in finding her. She was walking to and fro beneath
the avenue of elms that stood in the archdeacon's grounds, skirting
the churchyard. What had passed between her and Mr Arabin, had not,
alas, tended to lessen the acerbity of her spirit. She was very
angry; more angry with him than with any one. How could he have so
misunderstood her? She had been so intimate with him, had allowed
him such latitude in what he had chosen to say to her, had complied
with his ideas, cherished his views, fostered his precepts, cared
for his comforts, made much of him in every way in which a pretty
woman can make much of an unmarried man without committing herself
or her feelings! She had been doing this, and while she had been
doing it he had regarded her as the affianced wife of another man.
As she passed along the avenue, every now and then an unbidden tear
would force itself on her cheek, and as she raised her hand to
brush it away, she stamped with her little foot upon the sward with
very spite to think that she had been so treated.
Mr Arabin was very near to her when she first saw him, that she
turned short round and retraced her steps down the avenue, trying
to rid her cheeks of all trace of the tell-tale tears. It was a
needless endeavour, for Mr Arabin was in a state of mind that
hardly allowed him to observe such trifles. He followed her down
the walk, and overtook her just as she reached the end of it.
He had not considered how he would address her; he had not thought
what he would say. He had only felt that it was wretchedness to him
to quarrel with her, and that it would be happiness to be allowed
to love her. And that he could not lower himself by asking for her
pardon. He had done no wrong. He had not calumniated her, not
injured her, as she had accused him of doing. He could not confess
sins of which had not been guilty. He could only let the past be
past, and ask her as to her and his hopes for the future.
'I hope we are not to part as enemies?' said he.
'There shall be no enmity on my part,' said Eleanor; 'I endeavour
to avoid all enmities. It would be a hollow pretence were I to say
that there can be a true friendship between us after what has just
past. People cannot make their friends of those whom they despise.'
'And am I despised?'
'I must have been so before you could have spoken of me as you did.
And I was deceived, cruelly deceived. I believed that you thought
well of me; I believed that you esteemed me.'
'Thought of you well and esteemed you!' said he. 'In justifying
myself before you, I must use stronger words than those.' He paused
for a moment, and Eleanor's heart beat with painful violence within
her bosom as she waited for him to go on. 'I have esteemed, do
esteem you, as I never esteemed any woman. Think well of you! I
never thought to think so well, so much of any human creature.
Speak calumny of you! Insult you! Wilfully injure you! I wish it
were my privilege to shield you from calumny, insult, and injury.
Calumny! Ah, me. 'Twere almost better that it were so. Better than
to worship with a sinful worship; sinful and vain also.' And then
he walked along beside her, with his hands clasped behind his back,
looking down on the grass beneath his feet, and utterly at a loss
to express his meaning. And Eleanor walked beside him determined at
least to give him no assistance.
'Ah, me!' he uttered at last, speaking rather to himself than to
her. 'Ah, me! These Plumstead walks were pleasant enough, if one
could have but heart's ease; but without that, the dull dead stones
of Oxford were far preferable; and St Ewold's too; Mrs Bold, I am
beginning to think that I mistook myself when I came hither. A
Romish priest now would have escaped all this. Of, Father of
heaven! How good for us would it be, if thou couldest vouchsafe to
us a certain rule.'
'And have we not got a certain rule, Mr Arabin?'
'Yes--yes, surely; "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil." But what is temptation? what is evil? Is this evil--is
Poor Mr Arabin! It would not come out of him, that deep true love
of his. He could not bring himself to utter it in plain language
that would require and demand an answer. He knew not how to say to
the woman at his side, 'Since the fact is that you do not love that
other man, that you are not to be his wife, can you love me, will
you be my wife?' These were the words which were in his heart, but
with all his sighs he could not draw them to his lips. He would
have given anything, everything for power to ask this simple
question; but glib as was his tongue in pulpits and on platforms,
now he could not find a word wherewith to express the plain wish of
And yet Eleanor understood him as thoroughly as though he had
declared his passion with all the elegant fluency of a practised
Lothario. With a woman's instinct she followed every bend of his
mind, as he spoke of the pleasantness of Plumstead and the stones
of Oxford, as he alluded to the safety of the Romish priest and the
hidden perils of temptation. She knew that it all meant love. She
knew that this man at her side, this accomplished scholar, this
practised orator, this great polemical combatant, was striving and
striving in vain to tell her that his heart was no longer his own.
She knew this, and felt the joy of knowing it; and yet she would
not come to his aid. He had offended her deeply, had treated her
unworthily, the more unworthily seeing that he had learnt to love
her, and Eleanor could not bring herself to abandon her revenge.
She did not ask herself whether or no she would ultimately accept
his love. She did not even acknowledge to herself that she now
perceived it with pleasure. At the present moment it did not touch
her heart; it merely appeased her pride and flattered her vanity.
Mr Arabin had dared to associate her name with that of Mr Slope,
and now her spirit was soothed by finding that he would fain
associate it with his own. And so she walked on beside him inhaling
incense, but giving out no sweetness in return.
'Answer me this,' said Mr Arabin, stopping suddenly in his walk,
and stepping forward so that he faced his companion. 'Answer me
this question. You do not love Mr Slope? You do not intend to be
Mr Arabin certainly did not go the right way to win such a woman as
Eleanor Bold. Just as her wrath was evaporating, as it was
disappearing before the true warmth of his untold love, he
re-kindled it by a most useless repetition of his original sin. Had
he known what he was about he should never have mentioned Mr
Slope's name before Eleanor Bold, till he had made her all his own.
Then, and not till then, he might have talked of Mr Slope with as
much triumph as he chose.
'I shall answer no such question,' said she; 'and what is more, I
must tell you that nothing can justify your asking it. Good
And so saying she stepped proudly across the lawn, and passing
through the drawing-room window joined her father and sister at
lunch in the dining-room. Half an hour afterwards she was in the
carriage, and so she left Plumstead without again seeing Mr Arabin.
His walk was long and sad among the sombre trees that overshadowed
the churchyard. He left the archdeacon's grounds that he might
escape attention, and sauntered among the green hillocks under
which lay at rest so many of the once loving swains and forgotten
beauties of Plumstead. To his ears Eleanor's last words sounded
like a knell never to be reversed. He could not comprehend that she
might be angry with him, indignant with him, remorseless with him,
and yet love him. He could not make up his mind whether or no Mr
Slope was in truth a favoured rival. If not, why should she not
have answered his question?
Poor Mr Arabin--untaught, illiterate, boorish, ignorant man! That
at forty years of age you should know so little of the workings of
a woman's heart!
THE BISHOP'S LIBRARY
And thus the pleasant party of Plumstead was broken up. It had been
a very pleasant party as long as they had all remained in good
humour with one another. Mrs Grantly had felt her house to be gayer
and brighter than it had been for many a long day, and the
archdeacon had been aware that the month had passed pleasantly
without attributing the pleasure to any other special merits than
those of his own hospitality. Within three or four days of
Eleanor's departure, Mr Harding had also returned, and Mr Arabin
had gone to Oxford to spend one week there previous to his settling
at the vicarage of St Ewold's. He had gone laden with many messages
to Dr Gwynne touching the iniquity of the doings in Barchester
palace, and the peril in which it was believed the hospital still
stood in spite of the assurances contained in Mr Slope's
During Eleanor's drive into Barchester she had not much opportunity
of reflecting on Mr Arabin. She had been constrained to divert her
mind both from his sins and his love by the necessity of conversing
with her sister, and maintaining the appearance of parting with her
on good terms.
When the carriage reached her own door, and while she was in the
act of giving her last kiss to her sister and nieces, Mary Bold ran
out and exclaimed:
'Oh! Eleanor,--have you heard?--oh! Mrs Grantly, have you heard
what has happened? The poor dean!'
'Good heavens,' said Mrs Grantly; 'what--what has happened?'
'This morning at nine he had a fit of apoplexy, and he has not
spoken since. I very much fear that by this time he is no more.'
Mrs Grantly had been very intimate with the dean, and was therefore
much shocked. Eleanor had not known him so well; nevertheless she
was sufficiently acquainted with his person and manners to feel
startled and grieved also at the tidings she now received. 'I will
go at once to the deanery,' said Mrs Grantly, 'the archdeacon, I am
sure, will be there. If there is any news to send you I will let
Thomas call before he leaves town.' And so the carriage drove off,
leaving Eleanor and her baby with Mary Bold.
Mrs Grantly had been quite right. The archdeacon was at the
deanery. He had come into Barchester that morning by himself, not
caring to intrude himself upon Eleanor, and he also immediately on
his arrival had heard of the dean's fit. There was, as we have
before said, a library or reading room connecting the cathedral
with the dean's home. This was generally called the bishop's
library, because a certain bishop of Barchester was supposed to
have added it to the cathedral. It was built immediately over a
portion of the cloisters, and a flight of stairs descended from it
into the room in which the cathedral clergymen put their surplices
on and off. As it also opened directly into the dean's house, it
was the passage through which that dignitary usually went to his
public devotions. Who had or had not the right of entry into it,
might be difficult to say; but the people of Barchester believed
that it belonged to the dean, and the clergymen of Barchester
believed that it belonged to the chapter.
On the morning in question most of the resident clergymen who
constituted the chapter, and some few others, were here assembled,
and among them as usual the archdeacon towered with high authority.
He had heard of the dean's fit before he was over the bridge which
led into the town, and had at once come to the well known clerical
trysting place. He had been there by eleven o'clock, and had
remained ever since. From time to time the medical men who had been
called in came through from the deanery into the library, uttered
little bulletins, and then returned. There was it appears very
little hope of the old man's rallying, indeed no hope of any thing
like a final recovery. The only question was whether he must die at
once speechless, unconscious, stricken to death by his first heavy
fit; or whether by due aid of medical skill he might not be so far
brought back to this world as to become conscious of his state, and
enabled to address one prayer to his Maker before he was called to
meet Him face to face at the judgement seat.
Sir Omicron Pie had been sent for from London. That great man had
shown himself a wonderful adept at keeping life still moving within
an old man's heart in the case of good old Bishop Grantly, and it
might be reasonably expected that he would be equally successful
with a dean. In the mean time, Dr Fillgrave and Mr Rerechild were
doing their best; and poor Miss Trefoil sat at the head of her
father's bed, longing, as in such cases daughters do long, to be
allowed to do something to show her love; if it were only to chafe
his feet with her hands, or wait in menial offices on those
autocratic doctors; anything so that now in the time of need she
might be of use.
The archdeacon alone of the attendant clergy had been admitted for
a moment into the sick man's chamber. He had crept in with creaking
shoes, had said with smothered voice a word of consolation to the
sorrowing daughter, had looked on the distorted face of his old
friend with solemn but yet eager scrutinising eye, as though he
said in his heart, 'and so some day it will probably be with me;'
and then, having whispered an unmeaning word or two to the doctors,
had creaked his way back again into the library.
'He'll never speak again, I fear,' said the archdeacon as he
noiselessly closed the door, as though the unconscious dying man,
from whom all sense had fled, would have heard in his distant
chamber the spring of the lock which was now so carefully handled.
'Indeed! Indeed! Is he so bad?' said the meagre little prebendary,
turning over in his own mind all the probable candidates for the
deanery, and wondering whether the archdeacon would think it worth
his while to accept it. 'The fit must have been very violent.'
'When a man over seventy has a stroke of apoplexy, it seldom comes
very lightly,' said the burly chancellor.
'He was an excellent, sweet-tempered man,' said one of the vicars
choral. 'Heaven knows how we shall repair his loss.'
'He was indeed,' said a minor canon; 'and a great blessing to all
those privileged to take a share of the services of our cathedral.
I suppose the government will appoint, Mr Archdeacon. I trust that
we may have no stranger.'
'We will not talk about his successor,' said the archdeacon, 'while
there is yet hope.'
'Oh no, of course not,' said the minor canon. 'It would be
extraordinarily indecorous; but--'
'I know of no man,' said the meagre little prebendary, 'who has
better interest with the present government than Mr Slope.'
'Mr Slope!' said two or three at once almost sotto voce. 'Mr Slope
dean of Barchester!'
'Pooh!' exclaimed the burly chancellor.
'The bishop would do anything for him,' said the little prebendary.
'And so would Mrs Proudie,' said the vicar choral.
'Pooh!' said the chancellor.
The archdeacon had almost turned pale at the idea. What if Mr Slope
should become dean of Barchester? To be sure there was no adequate
ground, indeed no ground at all, for presuming that such a
desecration could even be contemplated. But nevertheless it was on
the cards. Dr Proudie had interest with the government, and the man
carried as it were Dr Proudie in his pocket. How should they all
conduct themselves if Mr Slope were to become dean of Barchester?
The bare idea for a moment struck even Dr Grantly dumb.
'It would certainly not be very pleasant for us to have Mr Slope in
the deanery,' said the little prebendary, chuckling inwardly at the
evident consternation which his surmise had created.
'About as pleasant and as probably as having you in the palace,'
said the chancellor.
'I should think such an appointment highly improbable,' said the
minor canon, 'and, moreover, extremely injudicious. Should not you,
'I should presume such a thing to be quite out of the question,'
said the archdeacon; 'but at the present moment I am thinking
rather of our poor friend who is lying so near us than of Mr
'Of course, of course,' said the vicar choral with a very solemn
air; 'of course you are. So are we all. Poor Dr Trefoil; the best
of men but--'
'It's the most comfortable dean's residence in England,' said a
second prebendary. 'Fifteen acres in the grounds. 'It is better
than many of the bishops' palaces.'
'And full two thousand a year,' said the meagre doctor.
'It is cut down to L 1200,' said the chancellor.
'No,' said the second prebendary. 'It is to be fifteen. A special
case was made.'
'No such thing,' said the chancellor.
'You'll find I'm right,' said the prebendary.
'I'm sure I read it in the report,' said the minor canon.
'Nonsense,' said the chancellor. 'They couldn't do it. There were
to be no exceptions but London and Durham.'
'And Canterbury and York,' said the vicar choral, modestly.
'What say you, Grantly?' said the meagre little doctor.
'Say about what?' said the archdeacon, who had been looking as
though he were thinking about his friend the dean, but who had in
reality been thinking about Mr Slope.
'What is the next dean to have, twelve or fifteen?'
'Twelve,' said the archdeacon authoritatively, thereby putting an
end at once to all doubt and dispute among the subordinates as far
as that subject was concerned.
'Well I certainly thought it was fifteen,' said the minor canon.
'Pooh!' said the burly chancellor. At this moment the door opened,
and in came Dr Fillgrave.
'How is he?' 'Is he conscious?' 'Can he speak?' 'I hope, I trust,
something better, doctor?' said half a dozen voices all at once,
each in a tone of extremest anxiety. It was pleasant to see how
popular the good old dean was among his clergy.
'No change, gentlemen; not the slightest change--but a telegraphic
message has arrived,--Sir Omicron Pie will be here by the 9.15pm
train. If any man can do anything Sir Omicron will do it. But all
that skill can do has been done.'
'We are sure of that, Dr Fillgrave,' said the archdeacon; 'we are
quite sure of that. But yet you know--'
'Oh, quite right,' said the doctor, 'quite right--I should have
done just the same--I advised it at once. I said to Rerechild at
once that with such a life and such a man, Sir Omicron should be
summoned--of course I knew that the expense was nothing--so
distinguished, you know, and so popular. Nevertheless, all that
human skill can do has been done.'
Just at this period Mrs Grantly's carriage drove into the close,
and the archdeacon went down to confirm the news which she had
By the 9.15pm train Sir Omicron Pie did arrive. And in the course
of the night a sort of consciousness returned to the poor old dean.
Whether this was due to Sir Omicron Pie is a question on which it
may be well not to offer an opinion. Dr Fillgrave was very clear in
his own mind, but Sir Omicron himself is thought to have differed
from that learned doctor.
At any rate, Sir Omicron expressed an opinion that the dean had yet
some days to live.
For the eight or ten next days, accordingly, the poor dean remained
in the same state, half conscious and half comatose, and the
attendant clergy began to think that no new appointment would be
necessary for some few months to come.
A NEW CANDIDATE FOR ECCLESIASTICAL HONOURS
The dean's illness occasioned much mental turmoil in other places
besides the deanery and adjoining library, and the idea which
occurred to the meagre little prebendary about Mr Slope did not
occur to him alone.
The bishop was sitting listlessly in his study when the news
reached him of the dean's illness. It was brought to him by Mr
Slope, who of course was not the last person in Barchester to hear
it. It was also not slow in finding its way to Mrs Proudie's ears.
It may be presumed that there was not just much friendly
intercourse between these two rival claimants for his lordship's
obedience. Indeed, though living in the same house, they had not
met since the stormy interview between them in the bishop's study
on the preceding day.
On that occasion, Mrs Proudie had been defeated. That from her
standards was a subject of great sorrow to that militant lady; but
though defeated, she was not overcome. She felt that she might yet
recover her lost ground, that she might yet hurl Mr Slope down to
the dust from which she had picked him, and force her sinning lord
to sue for pardon in sackcloth and ashes.
On that memorable day, memorable for his mutiny and rebellion
against her high behests, he had carried his way with a high hand,
and had really begun to think it possible that the days of his
slavery were counted. He had begun to hope that he was now about to
enter into a free land, a land delicious with milk which he himself
might quaff, and honey which would not tantalise him by being only
honey to the eye. When Mrs Proudie banged the door, as she left his
room, he felt himself every inch a bishop. To be sure his spirit
had been a little cowed by his chaplain's subsequent lecture; but
on the whole he was highly pleased with himself, and flattered
himself that the worst was over. 'Ce n'est que le premier pas qui
coute', he reflected; and now that his first step had been so
magnanimously taken, all the rest would follow easily.
He met his wife as a matter of course at dinner, where little or
nothing was said that could ruffle the bishop's happiness. His
daughters and the servants were present and protected him.
He made one or two trifling remarks on the subject of his projected
visit to the archbishop, in order to show to all concerned that he
intended to have his own way; and the very servants perceiving the
change transferred a little of their reverence from their mistress
to their master. All which the master perceived; and so also did
the mistress. But Mrs Proudie bided her time.
After dinner he returned to his study where Mr Slope soon found
him, and there they had tea together and planned many things. For
some few minutes the bishop was really happy; but as the clock on
the chimney piece warned him that the stilly hours of night were
drawing on, as he looked at his chamber candlestick and knew that
he must use it, his heart sank within him again. He was as a ghost,
all whose power of wandering free through these upper regions
ceases at cock-crow; or rather he was the opposite of the ghost,
for till cock-crow he must again be a serf. And would that be all?
Could he trust himself to come down to breakfast a free man in the
He was nearly an hour later than usual, when he betook himself to
his rest. Rest! What rest? However, he took a couple of glasses of
sherry, and mounted the stairs. Far be it from us to follow him
thither. There are some things which no novelist, no historian,
should attempt; some few scenes in life's drama which even no poet
should dare to paint. Let that which passed between Dr Proudie and
his wife on this night be understood to be among them.
He came down the following morning a sad and thoughtful man. He was
attenuated in appearance; one might almost say emaciated. I doubt
whether his now grizzled looks had not palpably become more grey
than on the preceding evening. At any rate he had aged materially.
Years do not make a man old gradually and at an even pace. Look
through the world and see if this is not so always, except in those
rare cases in which the human being lives and dies without joys and
without sorrows, like a vegetable. A man shall be possessed of
florid youthful blooming health till it matters not what age.
Thirty--forty--fifty, then comes some nipping frost, some period of
agony, that robs the fibres of the body of their succulence, and
the hale and hearty man is counted among the old.
He came down and breakfasted alone; Mrs Proudie being indisposed
took her coffee in her bed-room, and her daughters waited upon her
there. He ate his breakfast alone, and then, hardly knowing what he
did, he betook himself to his usual seat in his study. He tried to
solace himself with his coming visit to the archbishop. That effort
of his own free will at any rate remained to him as an enduring
triumph. But somehow, now that he had achieved it, he did not seem
to care so much about it. It was his ambition that had prompted him
to take his place at the arch-episcopal table, and his ambition was
now quite dead within him.
He was thus seated when Mr Slope made his appearance with
'My lord, the dean is dead.'
'Good heavens,' exclaimed the bishop, startled out of his apathy by
an announcement so sad and so sudden.
'He is either dead or now dying. He has had an apoplectic fit, and
I am told that there is not the slightest hope; indeed, I do not
doubt that by this time he is no more.'
Bells were rung, and servants were immediately sent to inquire. In
the course of the morning, the bishop, leaning on his chaplain's
arm, himself called at the deanery door. Mrs Proudie sent to Miss
Trefoil all manner of offers of assistance. The Miss Proudies sent
also, and there was immense sympathy between the palace and the
deanery. The answer to all inquiries was unvaried. The dean was
just the same; and Sir Omicron Pie was expected there by the 9.15pm
And then Mr Slope began to meditate, as others also had done, as to
who might possibly be the new dean; and it occurred to him, as it
had also occurred to others, that it might be possible that he
should be the new dean himself. And then the question as to the
twelve hundred, or fifteen hundred, or two thousand, ran in his
mind, as it had run through those of the other clergymen in the
Whether it might be two thousand, of fifteen, or twelve hundred, it
would in any case undoubtedly be a great thing for him, if he could
get it. The gratification to his ambition would be greater even
than that of his covetousness.
How glorious to out-top the archdeacon in his own cathedral city;
to sit above prebendaries and canons, and have the cathedral pulpit
and all the cathedral services altogether at his own disposal!
But it might be easier to wish for this than to obtain it. Mr
Slope, however, was not without some means of forwarding his views,
and he at any rate did not let the grass grow under his feet. In
the first place he thought--and not vainly--that he could count
upon what assistance the bishop could give him. He immediately
changed his views with regard to his patron; he made up his mind
that if he became dean, he would hand his lordship back to his
wife's vassalage; and he thought it possible that his lordship
might not be sorry to rid himself of one of his mentors. Mr Slope
had also taken some steps towards making his name known to other
men in power. There was a certain chief-commissioner of national
schools who at the present moment was presumed to stand especially
high in the good graces of the government big wigs, and with him Mr
Slope had contrived to establish a sort of epistolary intimacy. He
thought that he might safely apply to Sir Nicholas Fitzhiggin; and
he felt sure that if Sir Nicholas chose to exert himself, the
promise of such a piece of preferment would be had for the asking
Then he also had the press at his bidding, or flattered himself
that he had so. The daily Jupiter had taken his part in a very
thorough manner in those polemical contests of his with Mr Arabin;
he had on more than one occasion absolutely had an interview with a
gentleman on the staff of the paper, who, if not the editor, was as
good as the editor; and had long been in the habit of writing
telling letters with his initials, and sent to his editorial friend
with private notes signed in his own name. Indeed, he and Mr
Towers--such was the name of the powerful gentleman of the press
with whom he was connected--were generally very amiable with each
other. Mr Slope's little productions were always printed and
occasionally commented upon; and thus, in a small sort of way, he
had become a literary celebrity. This public life had great charms
for him, though it certainly also had its drawbacks. On one
occasion, when speaking in the presence of reporters, he had failed
to uphold and praise and swear by that special line of conduct
which had been upheld and praised and sworn by in the Jupiter, and
then he had been much surprised and at the moment not a little
irritated to find himself lacerated most unmercifully by his old
ally. He was quizzed and bespattered and made a fool of, just as
though, or rather than if, he had been a constant enemy instead of
a constant friend. He had hitherto not learnt that a man who
aspires to be on the staff of the Jupiter must surrender all
individuality. But ultimately this little castigation had broken no
bones between him and his friend Mr Towers. Mr Slope was one of
those who understood the world too well to show himself angry with
such a potentate as the Jupiter. He had kissed the rod that
scourged him, and now thought that he might fairly look for his
reward. He determined that he would at once let Mr Towers know that
he was a candidate for the place which was about to be become
vacant. More than one place of preferment had lately been given
away much in accordance with advice tendered to the government in
the columns of the Jupiter.
But it was in incumbent on Mr Slope first to secure the bishop. He
specially felt that it behoved him to do this before the visit to
the archbishop was made. It was really quite providential that the
dean should have fallen ill just at the very nick of time. If Dr
Proudie could be instigated to take the matter up warmly, he might
manage a good deal while staying at the archbishop's palace.
Feeling this very strongly Mr Slope determined to sound the bishop
out that very afternoon. He was to start on the following morning
to London, and therefore not a moment could be lost with safety.
He went into the bishop's study about five o'clock, and found him
still sitting alone. It might have been supposed that he had hardly
moved since the little excitement occasioned by the walk to the
dean's door. He still wore on his face that dull dead look of half
unconscious suffering. He was doing nothing, reading nothing,
thinking of nothing, but simply gazing on vacancy when Mr Slope for
the second time that day entered his room.
'Well, Slope,' said he, somewhat impatiently; for, to tell the
truth, he was not anxious just at present to have much conversation
with Mr Slope.
'Your lordship will be sorry to hear that as yet the poor dean has
shown no signs of amendment.'
'Oh--ah--hasn't he? Poor man! I'm sure I'm very sorry. I suppose
Sir Omicron has not arrived yet?'
'No; not till the 9.15pm train.'
'I wonder they didn't have a special. They say Dr Trefoil is very
'Very rich, I believe,' said Mr Slope. 'But the truth is, all the
doctors in London can do no good; no other good than to show that
every possible care has been taken. Poor Dr Trefoil is not long for
this world, my lord.'
'I suppose not--I suppose not.'
'Oh no; indeed, his best friends could not wish that he should
outlive such a shock, for his intellect cannot possibly survive
'Poor man, poor man!' said the bishop.
'It will naturally be a matter of much moment to your lordship who
is to succeed him,' said Mr Slope. 'It would be a great thing if
you could secure the appointment for some person of your own way of
thinking on important points. The party hostile to us are very
strong here in Barchester--much too strong.'
'Yes, yes. If poor Dr Trefoil is to go, it will be a great thing to
get a good man in his place.'
'It will be everything to your lordship to get a man on whose
co-operation you can reckon. Only think what trouble we might have
if Dr Grantly, or Dr Hyandry, or any of that way of thinking, were
to get it.'
'It is not very probable that Lord--will give it to any of that
school; why should he?'
'No. Not probable; certainly not; but it's possible. Great interest
will probably be made. If I might venture to advise your lordship,
I would suggest that you should discuss the matter with his grace
next week. I have no doubt that your wishes, if made known and
backed by his grace, would be paramount with Lord--'
'Well, I don't know that; Lord - has always been very kind to me,
very kind. But I am unwilling to interfere in such matters unless
asked. And indeed, if asked, I don't know whom, at this moment, I
Mr Slope, even Mr Slope, felt at present rather abashed. He hardly
knew how to frame his little request in language sufficiently
modest. He had recognised and acknowledged, to himself the
necessity of shocking the bishop in the first instance by the
temerity of his application, and his difficulty was how best to
remedy that by his adroitness and eloquence. 'I doubted myself,'
said he, 'whether your lordship would have any one immediately in
your eye, and it is on this account that I venture to submit to you
an idea that I have been turning over in my own mind. If poor Dr
Trefoil must go, I really do not see why, with your lordship's
assistance, I should not hold the preferment myself.'
'You!' exclaimed the bishop, in a manner that Mr Slope could hardly
have considered complimentary.
The ice was now broken, and Mr Slope became fluent enough. 'I have
been thinking of looking for it. If your lordship will press the
matter on the archbishop, I do not doubt but that I shall succeed.
You see I shall count upon assistance from the public press; my
name is known, I may say, somewhat favourably known to that portion
of the press which is now most influential with the government, and
I have friends also in the government. But, it is from your hands
that I would most willingly receive the benefit. And, which should
ever be the chief consideration in such matters, you must know
better than any other person whatsoever what qualifications I
The bishop sat for a while dumfounded. Mr Slope dean of Barchester!
The idea of such a transformation of character would never have
occurred to his own unaided intellect. At first he went on thinking
why, for what reasons, on what account, Mr Slope should be dean of
Barchester. But by degrees the direction of his thoughts changed,
and he began to think why, for what reasons, on what account, Mr
Slope should not be dean of Barchester. As far as he himself, the
bishop, was concerned, he could well spare the services of his
chaplain. The little idea of using Mr Slope as a counterpoise to
his wife had well nigh evaporated. He had all but acknowledged the
futility of the scheme. If indeed he could have slept in his
chaplain's bed-room instead of his wife's there might have been
something in it. But---. And thus as Mr Slope as speaking, the
bishop began to recognise the idea that that gentleman might become
dean of Barchester without impropriety; not moved, indeed, by Mr
Slope's eloquence, for he did not follow the tenor of his speech;
but led thereto by his own cogitation.
'I need not say,' continued Mr Slope, 'that it would be my chief
desire to act in all matters connected with cathedral as far as
possible in accordance with your views. I know your lordship so
well (and I hope you know me well enough to have the same
feelings), that I am satisfied that my being in that position would
add materially to your own comfort, and enable you to extend the
sphere of your useful influence. As I said before, it is not
desirable that there should be but one opinion among the
dignitaries in the same diocese. I doubt much whether I would
accept such an appointment in any diocese in which I should be
constrained to differ much from the bishop. In this case there
would be a delightful uniformity of opinion.'
Mr Slope perfectly well perceived that the bishop did not follow a
word that he said, but nevertheless he went on talking. He knew it
was necessary that Dr Proudie should recover from his surprise, and
he knew also that he must give him the opportunity of appearing to
have been persuaded by argument. So he went on, and produced a
multitude of fitting reasons all tending to show that no one on
earth could make so good a dean of Barchester as himself, that the
government and the public would assuredly coincide in desiring that
he, Mr Slope, should be dean of Barchester; but that for high
considerations of ecclesiastical polity, it would be especially
desirable that this piece of preferment should be so bestowed
through the instrumentality of the bishop of the diocese.
'But I really don't know what I could do in the matter,' said the
'If you would mention it to the archbishop; if you would tell his
grace that you consider such an appointment very desirable, that
you have it much at heart with a view of putting an end to the
schism in the diocese; if you did this with your usual energy, you
would probably find no difficulty in inducing his grace to promise
that he would mention it to Lord -. Of course you would let the
archbishop know that I am not looking for the preferment solely
through his intervention; that you do not exactly require him to
ask it as a favour; that you expect I shall get it through other
sources, as is indeed the case; but that you are very anxious that
his grace should express his approval of such an arrangement to
It ended by the bishop promising to do as he was told. Not that he
so promised without a stipulation. 'About that hospital,' he said,
in the middle of the conference. 'I was never so troubled in my
life;' which was about the truth. 'You haven't spoken to Mr Harding
since I saw you?'
Mr Slope assured his patron that he had not.
'Ah well then--I think upon the whole it will be better to let Mr
Quiverful have it. It has been half promised to him, and he has a
large family and is very poor. I think on the whole it will be
better to make out the nomination for Mr Quiverful.'
'But, my lord,' said Mr Slope, still thinking that was bound to
make a fight for his own view on this matter, and remembering that
it still behoved him to maintain his lately acquired supremacy over
Mrs Proudie, lest he should fail in his views regarding the
deanery, 'but, my lord, I am really much afraid--'
'Remember, Mr Slope, 'I can hold out not sort of hope to you in
this matter of succeeding poor Dr Trefoil. I will certainly speak
to the archbishop, as you wish it, but I cannot think--'
'Well, my lord,' said Mr Slope, fully understanding the bishop, and
in his turn interrupting him, 'perhaps your lordship is right about
Mr Quiverful. I have no doubt I can easily arrange matters with Mr
Harding, and I will make out the nomination for your signature as
'Yes, Slope, I think that will be best; and you may be sure that
any little that I can do to forward your views shall be done.'
And so they parted.
Mr Slope had now much business to handle. He had to make his daily
visit to the signora. This common prudence should have now induced
him to omit, but he was infatuated; and could not bring himself to
be commonly prudent. He determined therefore that he would drink
tea at the Stanhope's; and he determined also, or thought that he
determined, that having done so he would go thither no more. He had
also to arrange his matters with Mrs Bold. He was of the opinion
that Eleanor would grace the deanery as perfectly as she would the
chaplain's cottage; and he thought, moreover, that Eleanor's
fortune would excellently repair and dilapidations and curtailments
in the dean's stipend which might have been made by that ruthless
Touching Mrs Bold his hopes now soared high. Mr Slope was one of
the numerous multitude of swains who think that all is fair in
love, and he had accordingly not refrained from using the services
of Mrs Bold's own maid. From her he had learnt much of what had
taken place at Plumstead; not exactly with truth, for the 'own
maid' had not been able to divine the exact truth, but with some
sort of similitude to it. He had been told that the archdeacon and
Mrs Grantly and Mr Harding and Mr Arabin had all quarrelled with
'missus' for having received a letter from Mr Slope; that 'missus'
had positively refused to give the letter up; that she had received
from the archdeacon the option of giving up either Mr Slope and his
letter, or the society of Plumstead rectory; and that 'missus' had
declared with much indignation, that 'she didn't care a straw for
the society of Plumstead rectory,' and that she wouldn't give up Mr
Slope for any of them.
Considering the source from whence this came, it was not quite so
untrue as might have been expected. It showed pretty plainly what
had been the nature of the conversation in the servants' hall; and
coupled as it was with the certainty of Eleanor's sudden return, it
appeared to Mr Slope to be so far worthy of credit as to justify
him in thinking that the fair widow would in all human probability
accept his offer.
All this work had therefore to be done. It was desirable he thought
that he should make his offer before it was known that Mr Quiverful
was finally appointed to the hospital. In his letter to Eleanor he
had plainly declared that Mr Harding was to have the appointment.
It would be very difficult to explain this away; and were he to
write another letter to Eleanor, telling the truth and throwing the
blame on the bishop, it would naturally injure him in her
estimation. He determined therefore to let that matter disclose
itself as it would, and to lose no time in throwing himself at her
Then he had to solicit the assistance of Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin
and Mr Towers, and he went directly from the bishop's presence to
compose his letters to those gentlemen. As Mr Slope was esteemed as
an adept at letter writing, they shall be given in full.
'Palace, Barchester, Sept 185-, '(Private)
'My dear Sir Nicholas,--I hope that the intercourse which has been
between us will preclude you from regarding my present application
as an intrusion. You cannot I imagine have yet heard that poor dear
old Dr Trefoil has been seized with apoplexy. It is a subject of
profound grief to every one in Barchester, for he has always been
an excellent man--excellent as man and as a clergyman. He is,
however, full of years, and his life could not under any
circumstances have been much longer spared. You may probably have
'There is, it appears, no probable chance of his recovery. Sir
Omicron Pie is, I believe, at present with him. At any rate the
medical men here have declared that one or two days more must limit
the tether of his mortal coil. I sincerely trust that his soul may
wing its flight to that haven where it may for ever be at rest and
for ever be happy.
'The bishop has been speaking to me about the preferment, and he is
anxious that it should be conferred on me. I confess that I can
hardly venture, at my age, to look for such advancement; but I am
so far encouraged by his lordship, that I believe I shall be
induced to do so. His lordship goes to London tomorrow, and is
intent on mentioning the subject to the archbishop.
'I know well how deservedly great is your weight with the present
government. In any matter touching church preferment you would of
course be listened to. Now that the matter has been put into my
head, I am of course anxious to be successful. If you can assist me
by your good word, you will confer on me one additional favour.
'I had better add, that Lord - cannot as yet know of this piece of
preferment having fallen in, or rather of the certainty of falling
(for poor dear Dr Trefoil is past hope). Should Lord - first hear
it from you, that might probably bee thought to give you a fair
claim to express your opinion.
'Of course our grand object is, that we should all be of one
opinion in church matters. This is most desirable at Barchester; it
is this that makes our good bishop so anxious about it. You may
probably think it expedient to point this out to Lord - if it shall
be in your power to oblige me by mentioning the subject to his
'Believe me, my dear Sir Nicholas, 'Your most faithful servant,
His letter to Mr Towers was written in quite a different strain. Mr
Slope conceived that he completely understood the difference in
character and position of the two men whom he addressed. He knew
that for such a man as Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin a little flummery
was necessary, and that it might be of the easy everyday
description. Accordingly, his letter to Sir Nicholas was written
currente calamo, with very little trouble. But to such a man as Mr
Towers it was not so easy to write a letter that should be
effective and yet not offensive, that should carry its point
without undue interference. It was not difficult to flatter Dr
Proudie, or Sir Nicholas Fitzwhiggin, but very difficult to flatter
Mr Towers without letting the flattery declare itself. This,
however, had to be done. Moreover, this letter must in appearance
at least, be written without effort, and be fluent, unconstrained,
and demonstrative of no doubt or fear on the part of the writer.
Therefor the epistle to Mr Towers was studied, and recopied, and
elaborated at the cost of so many minutes, that Mr Slope had hardly
time to dress himself and reach Dr Stanhope's that evening.
When dispatched it ran as follows:-
'Barchester, Sept 185- (He purposely omitted any allusion to the
'palace', thinking that Mr Towers might not like it. A great man,
he remembered, had been once much condemned for dating a letter
from Windsor Castle.)
'My dear Sir,--We were all a good deal shocked here this morning by
hearing that poor old Dean Trefoil had been stricken with apoplexy.
The fit took him about 9am. I am writing now to save the post, and
he is still alive, but past all hope, or possibility, I believe, of
living. Sir Omicron Pie is here, or will be very shortly; but all
that even Sir Omicron can do, is to ratify the sentence of his less
distinguished brethren that nothing can be done. Poor Dr Trefoil's
race on this side of the grave is run. I do not know whether you
knew him. He was a good, quiet, charitable man, of the old school
of course, as any clergyman over seventy years of age must
'But I do not write merely with the object of sending you such news
as this: doubtless some one of your Mercuries will have seen and
heard and reported so much; I write, as you usually do yourself,
rather with a view to the future than to the past.
'Rumour is already rife her as to Dr Trefoil's successor, and among
those named as possible future deans your humble servant is, I
believe, not the least frequently spoken of; in short, I am looking
for the preferment. You may probably know that since Bishop Proudie
came to this diocese, I have exerted myself a good deal; and I may
certainly say not without some success. He and I are nearly always
of the same opinion on points of doctrine as well as church
discipline, and therefore I have had, as his confidential chaplain,
very much in my own hands; but I confess to you that I have a
higher ambition than to remain the chaplain of any bishop.
'There are no positions in which more energy is now needed than in
those of our deans. The whole of our enormous cathedral
establishments have been allowed to go to sleep,--nay, they are all
but dead and ready for the sepulchre! And yet of what prodigious
moment they might be made, if, as we intend, they were so managed
as to lead the way and show an example for all our parochial
'The bishop here is most anxious for my success; indeed, he goes
to-morrow to press the matter on the archbishop. I believe also I
may count on the support of at least one of the most effective
member of the government. But I confess the support of the Jupiter,
if I be thought worthy of it, would be more gratifying to me than
any other; more gratifying if by it I should be successful; and
more gratifying also, if, although, so supported, I should be
'The time has, in fact, come in which no government can venture to
fill up the high places of the Church in defiance of the public
press. The age of honourable bishops and noble deans has gone by;
and any clergyman however humbly born can now hope for success, if
his industry, talent, and character, be sufficient to call forth
the manifest opinion of the public in his favour.
'At the present moment we all feel that any counsel given in such
matters by the Jupiter has the greatest weight,--is, indeed,
generally followed; and we feel also--I am speaking of clergymen of
my own age and standing--that it should be so. There can be no
patron less interested than the Jupiter, and none that more
thoroughly understands the wants of the people.
'I am sure you will not suspect me of asking from you any support
which the paper with which you are connected cannot conscientiously
give me. My object in writing is to let you know that I am a
candidate for the appointment. It is for you to judge whether or no
you can assist my views. I should not, of course, have written to
you on such a matter had I not believed (and I have had good reason
so to believe) that the Jupiter approves of my views on
'The bishop expresses a fear that I may be considered too young for
such a station, my age being thirty-six. I cannot think that at the
present day any hesitation need be felt on such a point. The public
has lost its love for antiquated servants. If a man will ever be
fit to do good work he will be fit at thirty-six years of age.
'Believe me very faithfully yours, OBADIAH SLOPE
'T. TOWERS, Esq., 'Middle Temple.'
Having thus exerted himself, Mr Slope posted his letters, and
passed the remainder of the evening at the feet of his mistress.
Mr Slope will be accused of deceit in his mode of canvassing. It
will be said that he lied in the application he made to each of his
three patrons. I believe it must be owned that he did so. He could
not hesitate on account of his youth, and yet, be quite assured
that he was not too young. He could not count chiefly on the
bishop's support, and chiefly also on that of the newspaper. He did
not think that the bishop was going to press the matter on the
archbishop. It must be owned that in his canvassing Mr Slope was as
false as he well could be.
Let it, however, be asked of those who are conversant with such
matters, whether he was more false than men usually are on such
occasions. We English gentlemen hate the name of a lie; but how
often do we find public men who believe each other's words?
MRS PROUDIE VICTRIX
The next week passed over at Barchester with much apparent
tranquillity. The hearts, however, of some of the inhabitants were
not so tranquil as the streets of the city. The poor old dean still
continued to live, just as Sir Omicron had prophesied that he would
do, much to amazement, and some thought, disgust, of Dr Fillgrave.
The bishop still remained away. He had stayed a day or two in town,
and had also remained longer at the archbishop's than he had
intended. Mr Slope had as yet received no line in answer to either
of his letters; but he had learnt the cause of this. Sir Nicholas
was stalking a deer, or attending the Queen, in the Highlands; and
even the indefatigable Mr Towers had stolen an autumn holiday, and
had made one of the yearly tribe who now ascend Mont Blanc. Mr
Slope learnt that he was not expected back till the last day of
Mrs Bold was thrown much with the Stanhopes, of whom she became
fonder and fonder. If asked, she would have said that Charlotte
Stanhope was her special friend, and so she would have thought.
But, to tell the truth, she liked Bertie nearly as well; she had no
more idea of regarding him as a lover than she would have had of
looking at a big tame dog in such a light. Bertie had become very
intimate with her, and made little speeches to her, and said little
things of sort very different from the speeches and sayings of
other men. But then this was almost always done before his sisters;
and he, with his long silken beard, his light blue eyes and strange
dress, was so unlike other men. She admitted him to a kind of
familiarity which she had never known with any one else, and of
which she by no means understood the danger. She blushed once at
finding that she had called him Bertie, and on the same day only
barely remembered her position in time to check herself from
playing upon him some personal practical joke to which she was
instigated by Charlotte.
In all this Eleanor was perfectly innocent, and Bertie Stanhope
could hardly be called guilty. But every familiarity into which
Eleanor was entrapped was deliberately planned by his sister. She
knew well how to play her game, and played it without mercy; she
knew, none so well, what was her brother's character, and she would
have handed over to him the young widow, and the young widow's
money, and the money of the widow's child, without remorse. With
her pretended friendship and warm cordiality, she strove to connect
Eleanor so closely with her brother as to make it impossible that
she should go back even if she wished it. But Charlotte Stanhope
knew really nothing of Eleanor's character; did not even understand
that there were such characters. She did not comprehend that a
young and pretty woman could be playful and familiar with a man
such as Bertie Stanhope, and yet have no idea in her head, no
feeling in her heart that she would have been ashamed to own to all
the world. Charlotte Stanhope did not in the least conceive that
her new friend was a woman whom nothing could entrap into an
inconsiderate marriage, whose mind would have revolted from the
slightest impropriety had she been aware that any impropriety
Miss Stanhope, however, had tact enough to make herself and her
father's house very agreeable to Mrs Bold. There was with them all
an absence of stiffness and formality which was peculiarly
agreeable to Eleanor after the great dose of clerical arrogance
which she had lately been constrained to take. She played chess
with them, walked with them, and drank tea with them; studied or
pretended to study astronomy; assisted them in writing stories in
rhyme, in turning prose tragedy into comic verse, or comic stories
into would-be tragic poetry. She had no idea before that she had
any such talents. She had not conceived the possibility of her
doing such things as she now did. She found with the Stanshopes new
amusements and employments, new pursuits, which in themselves could
not be wrong, and which were exceedingly alluring.
Is it not a pity that people who are bright and clever should so
often be exceedingly improper? And that those who are never
improper should so often be dull and heavy? Now Charlotte Stanhope
was always bright, and never heavy: but her propriety was doubtful.
But during all this time Eleanor by no means forgot Mr Arabin, nor
did she forget Mr Slope. She had parted from Mr Arabin in her
anger. She was still angry at what she regarded as his impertinent
interference; but nevertheless she looked forward to meeting him
again; and also looked forward to forgiving him. The words that Mr
Arabin had uttered still sounded in her ears. She knew that if not
intended for a declaration of love, they did signify that he loved
her; and she felt also that if he ever did make such a declaration,
it might be that she should not receive it unkindly. She was still
angry with him, very angry with him; so angry that she would bit
her lip and stamp her foot as she thought of what he had said and
done. But nevertheless she yearned to let him know that he was
forgiven; all that she required was that he should own that he had
She was to meet him at Ullathorne on the last day of the present
month. Miss Thorne had invited all the country round to a breakfast
on the lawn. There were to be tents and archery, and dancing for
the ladies on the lawn, and for the swains and girls in the
paddock. There were to be fiddlers and fifers, races for the boys,
poles to be climbed, ditches full of water to be jumped over,
horse-collars to be grinned through (this latter amusement was an
addition of the stewards, and not arranged by Miss Thorne in the
original programme), and every game to be played which, in a long
course of reading, Miss Thorne could ascertain to have been played
in the good days of Queen Elizabeth. Everything of more modern
growth was to be tabooed, if possible. On one subject Miss Thorne
was very unhappy. She had been turning in her mind the matter of
the bull-ring, but could not succeed in making anything of it. She
would not for the world have done, or allowed to be done, anything
that was cruel; as to the promoting the torture of a bull for the
amusement of her young neighbours, it need hardly be said that Miss
Thorne would be the last to think of it. And yet, there was
something so charming in the name. A bull-ring, however, without a
bull would only be a memento of the decadence of the times, and she
felt herself constrained to abandon the idea. Quintains, however,
she was determined to have, and had poles and swivels and bags of
flour prepared accordingly. She would no doubt have been anxious
for something small in the way of a tournament; but, as she said to
her brother, that had been tried, and the age had proved itself too
decidedly inferior to its fore-runners to admit of such a pastime.
Mr Thorne did not seem to participate in her regret, feeling
perhaps that a full suit of chain-armour would have added but
little to his own personal comfort.
This party at Ullathorne had been planned in the first place as a
sort of welcoming to Mr Arabin on his entrance into St Ewold's
parsonage; an intended harvest-home gala for the labourers and
their wives and children had subsequently been amalgamated with it,
and thus it had grown into its present dimensions. All the
Plumstead party had of course been asked, at the time of the
invitation Eleanor had intended to have gone with her sister. Now
her plans were altered, and she was going with the Stanhopes. The
Proudies were also to be there; and as Mr Slope had not been
included in the invitation to the palace, the signora, whose
impudence never deserted her, asked permission of Miss Thorne to
This permission Miss Thorne gave, having no other alternative; but
she did so with a trembling heart, fearing Mr Arabin would be
offended. Immediately on his return she apologised, almost with
tears, so dire an enmity was presumed to rage between the two
gentlemen. But Mr Arabin comforted by an assurance that he should
meet Mr Slope with the greatest pleasure imaginable, and made her
promise that she would introduce them to each other.
But this triumph of Mr Slope's was not so agreeable to Eleanor, who
since her return to Barchester had done her best to avoid him. She
would not give way to the Plumstead folk when they so ungenerously
accused her of being in love with this odious man; but,
nevertheless, knowing that she was so accused, she was fully alive
to the expediency of keeping out of his way and dropping him by
degrees. She had seen very little of him since her return. Her
servants had been instructed to say to all visitors that she was
out. She could not bring herself to specify Mr Slope particularly,
and in order to order to avoid him she had thus debarred herself
from all her friends. She had excepted Charlotte Stanhope, and, by
degrees, a few others also. Once she had met him at the Stanhope's;
but, as a rule, Mr Slope's visits there had been made in the
morning, and hers in the evening. On that one occasion Charlotte
had managed to preserve her from any annoyance. This was very
good-natured on the part of Charlotte, as Eleanor thought, and also
very sharp-witted, as Eleanor had told her friend nothing of her
reasons for wishing to avoid that gentleman. The fact, however,
was, that Charlotte had learnt from her sister that Mr Slope would
probably put himself forward as a suitor for the widow's hand, and
she was consequently sufficiently alive to the expediency of
guarding Bertie's future wife from any danger in that quarter.
Nevertheless the Stanhopes were pledged to take Mr Slope with them
to Ullathorne. An arrangement was therefore necessarily made, which
was very disagreeable to Eleanor. Dr Stanhope, with herself,
Charlotte, and Mr Slope, were to go together, and Bertie was to
follow with his sister Madeline. It was clearly visible to
Eleanor's face that this assortment was very disagreeable to her;
and Charlotte, who was much encouraged thereby in her own little
plan, made a thousand apologies.
'I see you don't like it, dear,' said she, 'but we could not manage
it otherwise. Bertie would give his eyes to go with you, but
Madeline cannot possibly go without him. Nor could we possibly put
Mr Slope and Madeline in the same carriage without anyone else.
They'd both be ruined for ever, you know, and not admitted inside
Ullathorne gates, I should imagine, after such an impropriety.'
'Of course that wouldn't do,' said Eleanor; 'but couldn't I go in
the carriage with the signora and your brother?'
'Impossible!' said Charlotte. 'When she is there, there is only
room for two.' The signora, in truth, did not care to do her
travelling in the presence of strangers.
'Well, then,' said Eleanor, 'you are all so kind, Charlotte, and so
good to me, that I am sure you won't be offended; but I think I
shall not go at all.'
'Not go at all!--what nonsense!--indeed you shall.' it had been
absolutely determined in family council that Bertie should propose
on that very occasion.
'Or I can take a fly,' said Eleanor. 'You know that I am not
embarrassed by so many difficulties as you young ladies. I can go
'Nonsense, my dear. Don't think of such a thing; after all it is
only for an hour or so, and to tell the truth, I don't know what it is
you dislike so. I thought you and Mr Slope were great friends. What
is it you dislike?'
'Oh; nothing particular,' said Eleanor; 'only I thought it would be
a family party.'
'Of course it would be much nicer, much more snug, if Bertie would
go with us. It is he that is badly treated. I can assure you he is
much more afraid of Mr Slope than you are. But you see Madeline
cannot go without him,--and she, poor creature, goes out so seldom!
I am sure you don't begrudge her this, though her vagary does knock
about our own party a little.'
Of course Eleanor made a thousand protestations, a uttered a
thousand hopes that Madeline would enjoy herself. And of course she
had to give way, and undertake to go in the carriage with Mr Slope.
In fact, she was driven either to so this, or to explain why she
would not do so. Now she could not bring herself to explain to
Charlotte Stanhope all that had passed at Plumstead.
But it was to her a sore necessity. She thought of a thousand
little schemes for avoiding it; she would plead illness, and not go
at all; she would persuade Mary Bold to go although not asked, and
then make a necessity of having a carriage of her own to take her
sister-in-law; anything, in fact, she could do rather than be seen
in the same carriage with Mr Slope. However, when the momentous
morning came she had no scheme matured, and then Mr Slope handed
her into Dr Stanhope's carriage, and following her steps, sat
opposite to her.
The bishop returned on the eve of the Ullathorne party, and was
received at home with radiant smiles by the partner of all his
cares. On his arrival he crept up to his dressing-room with
somewhat of a palpitating heart; he had overstayed his allotted
time by three days, and was not without fear of penalties. Nothing,
however, could be more affectionately cordial than the greeting he
received; the girls came out and kissed him in a manner that was
quite soothing to his spirit; and Mrs Proudie, arms, and almost in
words called him her dear, darling, good, pet, little bishop. All
this was a very pleasant surprise.
Mrs Proudie had somewhat changed her tactics; not that she had seen
any cause to disapprove of her former line of conduct, but she had
now brought matters to such a point that she calculated that she
might safely do so. She had got the better of Mr Slope, and she now
thought well to show her husband that when allowed to get the
better of everybody, when obeyed by him and permitted to rule over
others, she would take care that he should have his reward. Mr
Slope had not a chance against her; not only could she stun the
poor bishop by her midnight anger, but she could assuage and soothe
him, if she so willed by daily indulgences. She could furnish his
room for him, turn him out as smart a bishop as any on the bench,
give him good dinners, warm fires, and an easy life; all this she
would do if he would but be quietly obedient. But if not--! To
speak sooth, however, his sufferings on that dreadful night had
been as poignant, as to leave him little spirit for further
As soon as he had dressed himself she returned to his room. 'I hope
you enjoyed yourself at--' said she, seating herself on one side of
the fire while he remained in his arm-chair on the other, stroking
the calves of his legs. It was the first time he had had a fire in
his room since the summer, and it pleased him; for the good bishop
loved to be warm and cosy. Nothing could be more polite than the
archbishop; and Mrs Archbishop had been equally charming.
Mrs Proudie was delighted to hear it; nothing, she declared,
pleased her so much as to think
Her bairn respectit like the lave.
She did not put it precisely in these words, but what she said came
to the same thing; and then, having petted and fondled her little
man sufficiently, she proceeded to business.
'The poor dean is still alive,' said she.
'So I hear, so I hear,' said the bishop. 'I'll go to the deanery
directly after breakfast to-morrow.'
'We are going to this party at Ullathorne to-morrow morning, my
dear; we must be there early, you know,--by twelve o'clock I
'Oh,--ah!' said the bishop; 'then I'll certainly call the next day.
'Was much said about it at--?' asked Mrs Proudie.
'About what?' said the bishop.
'Filling up the dean's place,' said Mrs Proudie. As she spoke a
spark of the wonted fire returned to her eye, and the bishop felt
himself to be a little less comfortable than before.
'Filling up the dean's place; that is, if the dean dies?--very
little, my dear. It was mentioned, just mentioned.'
'And what did you say about it, bishop?'
'Why I said that I thought that if, that is, should--should the
dean die, that is, I said I thought--' As he went on stammering and
floundering, he saw that his wife's eye was fixed sternly on him.
Why should he encounter such evil for a man whom he loved so
slightly as Mr Slope? Why should he give up his enjoyments and his
ease, and such dignity as might be allowed to him, to fight a
losing battle for a chaplain? The chaplain after all, if
successful, would be as great a tyrant as his wife. Why fight at
all? Why contend? Why be uneasy? From that moment he determined to
fling Mr Slope to the winds, and take the goods the gods provided.
'I am told,' said Mrs Proudie, speaking very slowly, 'that Mr Slope
is looking to be the new dean.'
'Yes,--certainly, I believe he is,' said the bishop.
'And what does the archbishop say about that?' asked Mrs Proudie.
'Well, my dear, to tell the truth, I promised Mr Slope to speak to
the archbishop. Mr Slope spoke to me about it. It was very arrogant
of him, I must say,--but that is nothing to me.'
'Arrogant!' said Mrs Proudie; 'it is the most impudent piece of
pretension I ever heard in my life. Mr Slope dean of Barchester,
indeed! And what did you do in the matter, bishop?'
'Why, my dear, I did speak to the archbishop.'
'You don't mean to tell me,' said Mrs Proudie, 'that you are going
to make yourself ridiculous by lending your name to such
preposterous attempts as this? Mr Slope dean of Barchester indeed!'
And she tossed her head, and put her arms a-kimbo, with an air of
confident defiance that made her husband quite sure that Mr Slope
never would be Dean of Barchester. In truth, Mrs Proudie was all
but invincible; had she married Petruchio, it may be doubted
whether that arch wife-tamer would have been able to keep her legs
out of those garments which are presumed by men to be peculiarly
unfitted for feminine use.
'It is preposterous, my dear.'
'Then why have you endeavoured to assist him?'
'Why,--my dear, I haven't assisted him--much.'
'But why have you done it at all? Why have you mixed your name up
in any thing so ridiculous? What was it you did say to the
'Why, I did just mention it; I just did say that--that in the event
of the poor dean's death, Mr Slope would--would--'
'I forget how I put it,--would take it if he could get it;
something of that sort. I didn't say much more than that.'
'You shouldn't have said anything at all. And what did the
'He didn't say anything; he just bowed and rubbed his hands.
Somebody else came up at the moment, and as we were discussing the
new parochial universal school committee, the matter of the new
dean dropped; after that I didn't think it was wise to renew it.'
'Renew it! I am very sorry you ever mentioned it. What will the
archbishop think of that?'
'You may be sure, my dear, that the archbishop thought very little
'But why did you think about it, bishop? How could you think of
making such a creature as that Dean of Barchester?--Dean of
Barchester! I suppose he'll be looking for bishoprics some of these
days--a man that hardly knows who his father was; a man that I
found without bread to his mouth, or a coat to his back. Dean of
Barchester indeed! I'll dean him.'
Mrs Proudie considered herself to be in politics a pure Whig; all
her family belonged to the Whig party. Now among all ranks of
Englishmen and Englishwomen (Mrs Proudie should, I think, be ranked
among the former, on the score of her great strength of mind), no
one is so hostile to lowly born pretenders to high station as the
The bishop thought it necessary to exculpate himself. 'Why, my
dear,' said he, 'it appeared to me that you and Mr Slope did not
get on quite as well as you used to do.'
'Get on!' said Mrs Proudie, moving her foot uneasily on the
hearth-rug, and compressing her lips in a manner that betokened
such danger to the subject of their discourse.
'I began to find that he was objectionable to you,'--Mrs Proudie's
foot worked on the hearth-rug with great rapidity,--'and that you
would be more comfortable if he was out of the palace,' Mrs Proudie
smiled, as a hyena may probably smile before he begins his
laugh,--'and therefore I thought that if he got this place, and so
ceased to be my chaplain, you might be pleased at such an
And then the hyena laughed loud. Pleased at such an arrangement!
pleased at having her enemy converted into a dean with twelve
hundred a year! Medea, when she describes the customs of her native
country (I am quoting from Robson's edition), assures her
astonished auditor that in her land captives, when taken, are
eaten. 'You pardon them!' says Medea. 'We do indeed,' says the mild
Grecian. 'We eat them!' says she of Colchis, with terrible energy.
Mrs Proudie was the Medea of Barchester; she had no idea of not
eating Mr Slope. Pardon him! merely get rid of him! make a dean of
him! It was not so they did with their captives in her country,
among people of her sort! Mr Slope had no such mercy to expect; she
would pick him to the very last bone.
'Oh, yes, my dear, of course he'll cease to be your chaplain,' said
she. 'After what has passed, that must be a matter of course. I
couldn't for a moment think of living in the same house with such a
man. Besides, he has shown himself quite unfit for such a
situation; making broils and quarrels among the clergy, getting
you, my dear, into scrapes, and taking upon himself as though he
was as good as bishop himself. Of course he'll go. But because he
leaves the palace, that is no reason why he should get into the
'Oh, of course not!' said the bishop; 'but to save appearances you
know, my dear--'
'I don't want to save appearances; I want Mr Slope to appear just
what he is--a false, designing, mean, intriguing man. I have my eye
on him; he little knows what I see. He is misconducting himself in
the most disgraceful way with that lame Italian woman. That family
is a disgrace to Barchester, and Mr Slope is a disgrace to
Barchester! If he doesn't look well to it, he'll have his gown
stripped off his back instead of having a dean's hat on his head.
Dean, indeed! The man has gone mad with arrogance.
The bishop said nothing further to excuse either himself or his
chaplain, and having shown himself passive and docile was again
taken into favour. They soon went to dinner, and he spent the
pleasantest evening he had had in his own house for a long time.
His daughter played and sang to him as he sipped his coffee and
read his newspaper, and Mrs Proudie asked good-natured little
questions about the archbishop; and then he went happily to bed,
and slept as quietly as though Mrs Proudie had been Griselda
herself. While shaving himself in the morning and preparing for the
festivities of Ullathorne, he fully resolved to run no more tilts
against a warrior so fully armed at all points as was Mrs Proudie.
OXFORD--THE MASTER AND TUTOR OF LAZARUS
Mr Arabin, as we have said, had but a sad walk of it under the
trees of Plumstead churchyard. He did not appear to any of the
family till dinner time, and then he assumed, as far as their
judgment went, to be quite himself. He had, as was his wont, asked
himself a great many questions, and given himself a great many
answers; and the upshot of this was that he had set himself down
for an ass. He had determined that he was much too old and much to
rusty to commence the manouvres of lovemaking; that he had let the
time slip through his hands which should have been used for such
purposes; and that now he must lie on his bed as he had made it.
Then he asked himself whether in truth he did love this woman; and
he answered himself, not without a long struggle, but at last
honestly, that he certainly did love her. He then asked himself
whether he did not also love her money; and he again answered
himself that he did so. But here he did not answer honestly. It was
and ever had been his weakness to look for impure motives for his
own conduct. No doubt, circumstanced as he was, with a small living
and a fellowship, accustomed as he had been to collegiate luxuries
and expensive comforts, he might have hesitated to marry a
penniless woman had he felt ever so strong a predilection for the
woman herself; no doubt Eleanor's fortune put all such difficulties
out of the question; but it was equally without doubt that his love
for her had crept upon him without the slightest idea on his part
that he could ever benefit his own condition by sharing her wealth.
When he had stood on the hearth-rug, counting the pattern, and
counting also the future chances of his own life, the remembrances
of Mrs Bold's comfortable income had not certainly damped his first
assured feeling of love for her. And why should it have done so?
Need it have done so with the purest of men? Be that as it may, Mr
Arabin decided against himself; he decided that it had done so in
his case, and that he was not the purest of men.
He also decided, which was more to his purpose, that Eleanor did
not care a straw for him, and that very probably did not care a
straw for his rival. Then he made up his mind not to think of her
any more, and went on thinking of her till he was almost in a state
to drown himself in the little brook which was at the bottom of the
And ever and again his mind would revert to the Signora Neroni, and
he would make comparisons between her and Eleanor Bold, not always
in favour of the latter. The signora had listened to him, and
flattered him, and believed in him; at least she had told him so.
Mrs Bold had also listened to him, but had never flattered him; had
not always believed in him: and now had broken from him in violent
rage. The signora, too, was the more lovely woman of the two, and
had also the additional attraction of her affliction; for to him it
was an attraction.
But he never could have loved the Signora Neroni as he felt that he
now loved Eleanor! and so he flung stones into the brook, instead
of flinging in himself, and sat down on its margin as sad a
gentleman as you shall meet in a summer's day.
He heard the dinner-bell ring from the churchyard, and he knew that
it was time to recover his self possession. He felt that he was
disgracing himself in his own eyes, that he had been idling his
time and neglecting the high duties which he had taken upon himself
to perform. He should have spent the afternoon among the poor at St
Ewold's, instead of wandering about Plumstead, an ancient love-lorn
swain, dejected and sighing, full of imaginary sorrows and
Wertherian grief. He was thoroughly ashamed of himself, and
determined to lose no time in retrieving his character, so damaged
in his own eyes. Thus when he appeared at dinner he was as animated
as ever, and was the author of most of the conversation which
graced the archdeacon's board on that evening. Mr Harding was ill
at ease and sick at heart, and did not care to appear more
comfortable than he really was; what little he did say was said to
his daughter. He thought the archdeacon and Mr Arabin had leagued
together against Eleanor's comfort; and his wish now was to break
away from the pair, and undergo in his Barchester lodgings whatever
Fate had in store for him. He hated the name of the hospital; his
attempt to regain his lost inheritance there had brought upon him
so much suffering. As far as he was concerned, Mr Quiverful was now
welcome to the place.
And the archdeacon was not very lively. The poor dean's illness was
of course discussed in the first place. Dr Grantly did not mention
Mr Slope's name in connexion with the expected event of Dr
Trefoil's death; he did not wish to say anything about Mr Slope
just at present, nor did he wish to make known his own sad
surmises; but the idea that his enemy might possibly become Dean of
Barchester made him very gloomy. Should such an even take place,
such a dire catastrophe come about, there would be an end to his
life as far as his life was connected with the city of Barchester.
He must give up all his old haunts, all his old habits, and live
quietly as a retired rector at Plumstead. It had been a severe
trial for him to have Dr Proudie in the palace; but with Mr Slope
also in the deanery, he felt that he should be unable to draw his
breath in Barchester close.
Thus it came to pass that in spite of the sorrow at his heart, Mr
Arabin was apparently the gayest of the party. Both Mr Harding and
Mrs Grantly were in a slight degree angry with him on account of
his want of gloom. To the one it appeared as though he were
triumphing at Eleanor's banishment, and to the other that he was
not affected as he should have been by all the sad circumstances of
the day, Eleanor's obstinacy, Mr Slope's success, and the poor
dean's apoplexy. And so they were all at cross purposes.
Mr Harding left the room almost together with the ladies, and the
archdeacon opened his heart to Mr Arabin. He still harped upon the
hospital. 'What did that fellow mean,' said he, 'by saying in his
letter to Mrs Bold, that if Mr Harding would call on the bishop it
would be all right? Of course I would not be guided by anything he
might say; but still it may be well that Mr Harding should see the
bishop. It would be foolish to let the thing slip through our
fingers because Mrs Bold is determined to make a fool of herself.'
Mr Arabin hinted that he was not quite so sure that Mrs Bold would
make a fool of herself. He said that he was not convinced that she
did regard Mr Slope so warmly as she was supposed to do. The
archdeacon questioned and cross-questioned him about this, but
elicited nothing; and at least remained firm in his own conviction
that he was destined, malgre lui, to be the brother-in-law of Mr
Slope. Mr Arabin strongly advised that Mr Harding should take no
step regarding the hospital in connexion with, or in consequence
of, Mr Slope's letter. 'If the bishop really means to confer the
appointment on Mr Harding,' argued Mr Arabin, 'he will take care to
let him have some other intimation than a message conveyed through
a letter to a lady. Were Mr Harding to present himself at the
palace he might merely be playing Mr Slope's game;' and thus it was
settled that nothing should be done till the great Dr Gwynne's
arrival, or at any rate without that potentate's sanction.
It was droll how these men talked of Mr Harding as though he were a
puppet, and planned their intrigues and small ecclesiastical
manouvres without dreaming of taking him into their confidence.
There was a comfortable house and income in question, and it was
very desirable, and certainly very just, that Mr Harding should
have them; but that, at present, was not the main point; it was
expedient to beat the bishop, and if possible to smash Mr Slope. Mr
Slope had set up, or was supposed to have set up, a rival
candidate. Of all things the most desirable would have been to have
had Mr Quiverful's appointment published to the public, and then
annulled by the clamour of an indignant world, loud in the defence
of Mr Harding's rights. But of such an event the chance was small;
a slight fraction only of the world would be indignant, and that
fraction would be one not accustomed to loud speaking. And then the
preferment had in a sort of way been offered to Mr Harding, and had
in a sort of way been refused by him.
Mr Slope's wicked, cunning hand had been peculiarly conspicuous in
the way in which this had been brought to pass, and it was the
success of Mr Slope's cunning which was so painfully grating the
feelings of the archdeacon. That which of all things he most
dreaded was that he should be out-generalled by Mr Slope: and just
at present it appeared probable that Mr Slope would turn his flank,
steal a march on him, cut off his provisions, carry his strong town
by a coup de main, and at last beat him thoroughly in a regular
pitched battle. The archdeacon felt that his flank had been turned
when desired to wait on Mr Slope instead of the bishop, that a
march had been stolen when Mr Harding was induced to refuse the
bishop's offer, that his provisions would be cut off when Mr
Quiverful got the hospital, that Eleanor was the strong town doomed
to be taken, and that Mr Slope, as Dean of Barchester, would be
regarded by all the world as the conqueror in that final conflict.
Dr Gwyinne was the Deus ex machina who was to come down upon the
Barchester stage, and bring about deliverance from these terrible
evils. But how can melodramatic denouments be properly brought
about, how can vice and Mr Slope be punished, and virtue and the
archdeacon be rewarded, while the avenging god is laid up with the
gout? In the mean time evil may be triumphant, and poor innocence,
transfixed to the earth by an arrow from Dr Proudie's quiver, may
be dead upon the ground, not to be resuscitated even by Dr Gwynne.
Two or three days after Eleanor's departure, Mr Arabin went to
Oxford, and soon found himself closeted with the august head of his
college. It was quite clear that Dr Gwynne was not very sanguine as
to the effects of his journey to Barchester, and not over anxious
to interfere with the bishop. He had had the gout but was very
nearly convalescent, and Mr Arabin at once saw that had the mission
been one of which the master thoroughly approved, he would before
this have been at Plumstead.
As it was, Dr Gwynne was resolved to visiting his friend, and
willingly promised to return to Barchester with Mr Arabin. He could
not bring himself to believe that there was any probability that Mr
Slope would be made Dean of Barchester. Rumour, he said, had
reached even his ears not at all favourable to that gentleman's
character, and he expressed himself strongly of the opinion that
any such appointment was quite out of the question. At this stage
of the proceedings, the master's right-hand man, Tom Staple, was
called in to assist at the conference. Tom Staple was the Tutor of
Lazarus, and moreover a great man at Oxford. Though universally
known by a species of nomenclature as very undignified. Tom Staple
was one who maintained a high dignity in the University. He was, as
it were, the leader of the Oxford tutors, a body of men who
consider themselves collectively as being by very little, if at
all, second in importance to the heads themselves. It is not always
the case that the master, or warden, or provost, or principal can
hit it off exactly with his tutor. A tutor is by no means
indisposed to have a will of his own. But at Lazarus they were
great friends and firm allies at the time of which we are writing.
Tom Staple was a hale strong man of about forty-five; short in
stature, swarthy in face, with strong sturdy black hair, and crisp
black beard, of which very little was allowed to show itself in the
shape of whiskers. He always wore a white neckcloth, clean indeed,
but not tied with that scrupulous care which now distinguishes some
of our younger clergy. He was, of course, always clothed in a
seemly suit of solemn black. Mr Staple was a decent cleanly liver,
not over addicted to any sensuality; but nevertheless a somewhat
warmish hue was beginning to adorn his nose, the peculiar effect,
as his friends averred, of a certain pipe of port introduced into
the cellars of Lazarus the very same year in which the tutor
entered in as a freshman. There was also, perhaps with a little
redolence of port wine, as it were the slightest possible twang, in
Mr Staple's voice.
In these days Tom Staple was not a very happy man; University
reform had long been his bugbear, and now was his bane. It was not
with him as with most others, an affair of politics, respecting
which, when the need existed, he could, for parties' sake or on
behalf of principle, maintain a certain amount of necessary zeal;
it was not with him a subject for dilettante warfare, and courteous
common-place opposition. To him it was life and death. He would
willingly have been a martyr in the cause, had the cause admitted
At the present day, unfortunately, public affairs will allow of no
martyrs, and therefore it is that there is such a deficiency of
zeal. Could gentlemen of L 10,000 a year have died on their own
door-steps in defence of protection, no doubt some half-dozen
glorious old baronets would have so fallen, and the school of
protection would at this day have been crowded with scholars. Who
can fight strenuously in any combat in which there is no danger?
Tom Staple would have willingly been impaled before a Committee of
the House, could he by such self-sacrifice have infused his own
spirit into the component members of the hebdomadal board.
Tom Staple was one of those who in his heart approved of the credit
system which had of old been in vogue between the students and
tradesmen of the University. He knew and acknowledged to himself
that it was useless in these degenerate days publicly to contend
with the Jupiter on such a subject. The Jupiter had undertaken to
rule the University, and Tom Staple was well aware that the Jupiter
was too powerful for him. But in secret, and among his safe
companions, he would argue that the system of credit was an ordeal
good for young men to undergo.
The bad men, said he, and the weak and worthless, blunder into
danger and burn their feet; but the good men, they who have any
character, they who have that within them which can reflect credit
in their Alma Mater, they come through scatheless. What merit will
there be to a young man to get through safely, if he guarded and
protected and restrained like a school-boy? By so doing, the period
of the ordeal is only postponed, and the manhood of the man will be
deferred from the age of twenty to that of twenty-four. If you bind
him with leading-strings at college, he will break loose while
eating for the bar in London; bind him there, and he will break
loose afterwards, when he is a married man. The wild oats must be
sown somewhere. 'Twas thus that Tom Staple would argue of young
men; not, indeed, with much consistency, but still with some
practical knowledge of the subject gathered from long experience.
And now Tom Staple proffered such wisdom as he had for the
assistance of Dr Gwynne and Mr Arabin.
'Quite out of the question,' said he, arguing that Mr Slope could
not possibly be made the new Dean of Barchester.
'So I think,' said the master. 'He has no standing, and, if all I
hear be true, very little character.'
'As to character,' said Tom Staple, 'I don't think much of that.
They rather like loose parsons for deans; a little fast living, or
a dash of infidelity, is no bad recommendation to a cathedral
close. But they couldn't make Mr Slope; the last two deans have
been Cambridge men; you'll not show me an instance of their making
three men running from the same University. We don't get out share,
and never shall, I suppose; but we must at least have one out of
'These sort of rules are all gone out by now,' said Mr Arabin.
'Everything has gone by, I believe,' said Tom Staple. 'The cigar
has been smoked out, and we are the ashes.'
'Speak for yourself, Staple,' said the master.
'I speak for all,' said the tutor stoutly. 'It is coming to that,
that there will be no life left anywhere in the country. No one is
any longer fit to rule himself, or those belonging to him. The
Government is to find us all in everything, and the press is to
find the Government. Nevertheless, Mr Slope won't be Dean of
'And who will be the warden of the hospital?' said Mr Arabin.
'I hear that Mr Quiverful is already appointed,' said Tom Staple.
'I think not,' said the master. 'And I think, moreover, that Dr
Proudie will not be so short-sighted as to run against such a rock;
Mr Slope should himself have sense enough to prevent it.'
'But perhaps Mr Slope may have no objection to see his patron on a
rock,' said the suspicious tutor.
'What could he get by that?' asked Mr Arabin.
'It is impossible to see the doubles of such a man,' said Mr
Staple. 'It seems quite clear that Bishop Proudie is altogether in
his hands, and it is equally clear that he has been moving heaven
and earth to get this Mr Quiverful into the hospital, although he
must know that such an appointment would be most damaging to the
bishop. It is impossible to understand such a man, and dreadful to
think,' added Mr Staple, sighing deeply, 'that the welfare and
fortunes of good men may depend on his intrigues.'
Dr Gwynne or Mr Staple were not in the least aware, nor even was Mr
Arabin that this Mr Slope, of whom they were talking, had been
using his utmost efforts to put their own candidate into the
hospital; and that in lieu of being a permanent in the palace, his
own expulsion therefrom had been already decided on by the high
powers of the diocese.
'I'll tell you what,' said the tutor, 'if this Quiverful is thrust
into the hospital and Dr Trefoil must die, I should not wonder if
the Government were to make Mr Harding Dean of Barchester. They
would feel bound to do something for him after all that was said
when he resigned.'
Dr Gwynne at the moment made no reply to this suggestion; but it
did not the less impress itself on his mind. If Mr Harding could
not be warden of the hospital, why should he not be Dean of
And so the conference ended without any very fixed resolution, and
Dr Gwynne and Mr Arabin prepared for their journey to Plumstead on
MISS THORNE'S FETE CHAMPETRE
The day of the Ullathorne party arrived, and all the world was
there; or at least so much of the world as had been included in
Miss Thorne's invitation. As we have said, the bishop returned home
on the previous evening, and on the same evening, and by the same
train, came Dr Gwynne and Mr Arabin from Oxford. The archdeacon
with his brougham was in waiting for the Master of Lazarus, so that
there was a goodly show of church dignitaries on the platform of
The Stanhope party was finally arranged in the odious manner
already described, and Eleanor got into the doctor's waiting
carriage full of apprehension and presentiment of further
misfortunes, whereas Mr Slope entered the vehicle elate with
He had received that morning a civil note from Sir Nicholas
Fitzwiggin; not promising much indeed; but then Mr Slope knew, or
fancied that he knew, that it was not etiquette for government
officers to make promises. Though Sir Nicholas promised nothing he
implied a good deal; declared his conviction that Mr Slope would
make an excellent dean, and wished him every kind of success. To be
sure he added that, not being in the cabinet, he was never
consulted on such matters, and that even if he spoke on the subject
his voice would go for nothing. But all this Mr Slope took for the
prudent reserve of official life. To complete his anticipated
triumph, another letter was brought to him just as he was about to
start to Ullathorne.
Mr Slope also enjoyed the idea of handing Mrs Bold out of Dr
Stanhope's carriage before the multitude at Ullathorne gate, as
much as Eleanor dreaded the same ceremony. He had fully made up his
mind to throw himself and his fortune at the widow's feet, and had
almost determined to select the present propitious morning for
doing so. The signora had of late been less than civil to him. She
had indeed admitted his visits, and listened, at any rate without
anger, to his love; but she had tortured him, and reviled him,
jeered at him and ridiculed him, while she allowed him to call her
the most beautiful of living women, to kiss her hand, and to
proclaim himself with reiterated oaths her adorer, her slave, and
Miss Thorne was in great perturbation, yet in great glory, on the
morning of this day. Mr Thorne also, though the party was none of
his giving, had much heavy work on his hands. But perhaps the most
overtasked, the most anxious and the most effective of all the
Ullathorne household was Mr Plomacy the steward. This last
personage had, in the time of Mr Thorne's father, when the
Directory held dominion in France, gone over to Paris with letters
in his boot heel for some of the royal party; and such had been his
good luck that he had returned safe. He had then been very young
and was now very old, but the exploit gave him a character for
political enterprise and secret discretion which still availed him
as thoroughly as it had done in its freshest gloss. Mr Plomacy had
been steward of Ullathorne for more than fifty years, and a very
easy life he had had of it. Who could require much absolute work
from a man who had carried safely at his heel that which if
discovered would have cost him his head? Consequently Mr Plomacy
had never worked hard, and of latter years had never worked at all.
He had a taste for timber, and therefore he marked the trees that
were to be cut down; he had a taste for gardening, and would
therefore allow no shrub to be planted or bed to be made without
his express sanction.
In these matters he was sometimes driven to run counter to his
mistress, but he rarely allowed his mistress to carry the point
But on occasions such as the present, Mr Pomney came out strong. He
had the honour of the family at heart; he thoroughly appreciated
the duties of hospitality; and therefore, when gala doings were
going on, always took the management into his own hands and reigned
supreme over master and mistress.
To give Mr Pomney his due, old as he was, he thoroughly understood
such work as he had in hand, and did it well.
The order of the day was to be as follows. The quality, as the
upper classes in rural districts are designated by the lower with
so much true discrimination, were to eat a breakfast, and the
non-quality were to eat a dinner. Two marquees had been erected for
these two banquets, that for the quality on the esoteric or garden
side of a certain deep ha-ha; and that for the non-quality on the
exoteric or paddock side of the same. Both were of huge dimensions;
that on the outer side, one may say, on an egregious scale; but Mr
Pomney declared that neither would be sufficient. To remedy this,
an auxiliary banquet was prepared in the dining-room, and a
subsidiary board was to be spread sub dio for the accommodation of
the lower class of yokels on the Ullathorne property.
No one who has not had a hand in the preparation of such an affair
can understand the manifold difficulties which Miss Thorne
encountered in her project. Had she not been made throughout of the
very finest whalebone, rivetted with the best Yorkshire steel, she
must have sunk under them. Had not Mr Pomney felt how much was
justly expected from a man who at one time carried the destinies of
Europe in his boot, he would have given way; and his mistress, so
deserted, must have perished among her poles and canvass.
In the first place there was a dreadful line to be drawn. Who was
to dispose themselves within the ha-ha, and who without? To this
the unthinking will give an off-hand answer, as they will to every
ponderous question. Oh, the bishop and such like within the ha-ha;
and Farmer Greenacre and such without. True, my unthinking friend;
but who shall define these such-likes? It is in such definitions
that the whole difficulty of society consists. To seat the bishop
on an arm chair on the lawn and place Farmer Greenacre at the end
of a long table in the paddock is easy enough; but where will you
put Mrs Lookaloft, whose husband, though a tenant on the estate,
hunts in a red coat, whose daughters go to a fashionable seminary
in Barchester, who calls her farm house Rosebank, and who has a
pianoforte in her drawing-room? The Misses Lookaloft, as they call
themselves, won't sit contented among the bumpkins. Mrs Lookaloft
won't squeeze her fine clothes on a bench and talk familiarly about
cream and ducklings to good Mrs Greenacres. And yet Mrs Lookaloft
is not fit companion and never has been the associate of the
Thornes and the Grantlys. And if Mrs Lookaloft be admitted within
the sanctum of fashionable life, if she be allowed with her three
daughters to leap the ha-ha, why not the wives and daughters of
other families also? Mrs Greenacre is at present well contented
with the paddock, but she might cease to be so if she saw Mrs
Lookaloft on the lawn. And thus poor Miss Thorne had a hard time of
And how was she to divide the guests between the marquee and the
parlour? She had a countess coming, and Honourable John and an
Honourable George, and a whole bevy of Ladies Amelia, Rosina,
Margaretta &c; she had a leash of baronets with their baronesses;
and, as we all know, a bishop. If she put them on the lawn, no one
would go into the parlour; if she put them into the parlour, no one
would go into the tent. She thought of keeping the old people in
the house, and leaving the lawn to the lovers. She might as well
have seated herself at once in a hornet's nest. Mr Pomney knew
better than this. 'Bless your soul, Ma'am,' said he, 'there won't
be no old ladies; not one, barring yourself and old Mrs
Personally Miss Thorne accepted this distinction in her favour as a
compliment to her good sense; but nevertheless she had no desire to
be closeted on the coming occasion with Mrs Chantantrum. She gave
up all idea of any arbitrary division of her guests, and determined
if possible to put the bishop on the lawn and the countess in the
house, to sprinkle the baronets, and thus divide the attractions.
What to do with the Lookalofts even Mr Plomacy could not decide.
They must take their chance. They had been specially told in the
invitation that all the tenants had been invited; and they might
probably have the good sense to stay away if they objected to mix
with the rest of the tenantry.
Then Mr Plomacy declared his apprehension that the Honourable Johns
and Honourable Georges would come in a sort of amphibious costume,
half morning half evening, satin neckhandkerchiefs, frock coats,
primrose gloves, and polished boots; and that being so dressed,
they would decline riding at the quintain, or taking part in any of
the athletic games which Miss Thorne had prepared with so much
care. If the Lord Johns and Lord Georges didn't ride at the
quintain, Miss Thorne might be sure that nobody else would.
'But,' said she in dolorous voice, all but overcome by her cares;
'it was specially signified that there were to be sports.'
'And so there will be, of course,' said Mr Pomney. 'They'll all be
sporting with the young ladies in the laurel walks. Them's the
sports they care most about now-a-days. If you gets the young men
at the quintain, you'll have all the young women in the pouts.'
'Can't they look on, as their great grandmothers did before them?'
said Miss Thorne.
'It seems to me that the ladies ain't contented with looking
now-a-days. Whatever the men do they'll do. If you'll have side
saddles on the nags, and let them go at the quintain too, it'll
answer capital, no doubt.'
Miss Thorne made no reply. She felt that she had no good ground on
which to defend her sex of the present generation, from the sarcasm
of Mr Pomney. She had once declared, in one of her warmer moments,
'that now-a-days the gentlemen were all women, and the ladies all
men.' She could not alter the debased character of the age. But
such being the case, why should she take on herself to cater for
the amusement of people of such degraded tastes? This question she
asked herself more than once, and she could only answer herself
with a sigh. There was her own brother Wilfred, on whose shoulders
rested the all the ancient honours of Ullathorne House; it was very
doubtful whether even he would consent to 'go at the quintain', as