Part 9 out of 11
shall know where it comes from. I'm up to you Barchester
journeymen; I know what stuff you're made of.'
And so Stubbs went off happy, pulling at the forelock of his shock
head of hair in honour of the steward's clemency, and giving
another double pull at it in honour of the farmer's kindness. And
as he went he swore within his grateful heart, that if ever Farmer
Greenacre wanted a day's work done for nothing, he was the lad to
do it for him. Which promise it was not probable that he would ever
be called upon to perform.
But Mr Plomacy was not quite happy in his mind for he thought of
the unjust steward, and began to reflect whether he had not made
for himself friends at the mammon of unrighteousness. This,
however, did not interfere with the manner in which he performed
his duties at the bottom of the long board; nor did Mr Greenacre
perform his the worse at the top on account of the good wishes of
Stubbs the plasterer. Moreover, the guests did not think it
anything amiss when Mr Plomacy, rising to say grace, prayed that
God would make them all truly thankful for the good things which
Madam Thorne in her great liberality had set out before them!
All this time the quality in the tent on the lawn were getting on
swimmingly; that is, champagne without restrictions can enable
quality fold to swim. Sir Harkaway Gorse proposed the health of
Miss Thorne, and likened her to a blood race-horse, always in
condition, and not to be tired down by any amount of work. Mr
Thorne returned thanks, saying he hoped his sister would always be
found able to run when called upon, and than gave the health and
prosperity of the De Courcy family. His sister was very much
honoured by seeing so many of them at her poor board. They were all
aware that important avocations made the absence of the earl
necessary. As his duty to his prince had called him from his family
hearth he, Mr Thorne, could not venture to regret that he did not
see him at Ullathorne; but nevertheless he would venture to
say--And so Mr Thorne became somewhat gravelled as a country
gentleman in similar circumstances usually do; but he ultimately
sat down, declaring that he had much satisfaction in drinking the
noble earl's health, together with that of the countess, and all
the family of De Courcy castle.
And then the Honourable George returned thanks. We will not follow
him through the different periods of his somewhat irregular
eloquence. Those immediately in his neighbourhood found it at first
rather difficult to get him to his legs, but much greater
difficulty was soon experience in inducing him to resume his seat.
One of two arrangements should certainly be made in these days:
either let all speech-making on festive occasions be utterly
tabooed and made as it were impossible; or else let those who are
to exercise the privilege be first subjected to a competing
examination before the civil service examining commissioners. As it
is now, the Honourable Georges do but little honour to our
exertions in favour of British education.
In the dining-room the bishop went through the honours of the day
with much more neatness and propriety. He also drank Miss Thorne's
health, and did it in a manner becoming the bench which he adorned.
The party there, was perhaps a little more dull, a shade less
lively than that in the tent.
But what was lost in mirth, was fully made up in decorum.
And so the banquet passed off at the various tables with great
eclat and universal delight.
ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT II
'That which has made them drunk, has made me bold.' 'Twas thus that
Mr Slope encouraged himself, as he left the dining-room in pursuit
of Eleanor. He had not indeed seen in that room any person really
intoxicated; but there had been a good deal of wine drunk, and Mr
Slope had not hesitated to take his share, in order to screw
himself up to the undertaking which he had in hand. He is not the
first man who has thought it expedient to call in the assistance of
Bacchus on such an occasion.
Eleanor was out through the window, and on the grass before she
perceived that she was followed. Just at that moment the guests
were nearly all occupied at the tables. Here and there were to be
seen a constant couple or two, who preferred their own sweet
discourse to the jingle of glasses, or the charms of rhetoric which
fell from the mouths of the Honourable George and the bishop of
Barchester; but the grounds were as nearly vacant as Mr Slope could
wish them to be.
Eleanor saw that she was pursued, and as a deer, when escape is no
longer possible, will turn to bay and attack the hounds, so did she
turn upon Mr Slope.
'Pray don't let me take you from the room,' said she, speaking with
all the stiffness which she know how to use. 'I have come out to
look for a friend. I must beg of you, Mr Slope, to go back.'
But Mr Slope would not be thus entreated. He had observed all day
that Mrs Bold was not cordial to him, and this had to a certain
extent oppressed him. But he did not deduce from this any assurance
that his aspirations were in vain. He saw that she was angry with
him. Might she not be so because he had so long tampered with her
feelings,--might it not arise from his having, as he knew to be the
case, caused her name to be bruited about in conjunction with his
own, without having given her the opportunity of confessing to the
world that henceforth their names were to be the one and the same?
Poor lady! He had within him a certain Christian
conscience-stricken feeling of remorse on this head. It might be
that he had wronged her by his tardiness. He had, however, at the
present moment imbibed too much of Mr Thorne's champagne to have
any inward misgivings. He was right in repeating the boast of Lady
Macbeth: he was not drunk; but he was bold enough for anything. It
was a pity that in such a state he could not have encountered Mrs
'You must permit me to attend you,' said he; 'I could not think of
allowing you to go alone.'
'Indeed you must, Mr Slope,' said Eleanor still very stiffly; 'for
it is my special wish to be alone.'
The time for letting the great secret escape him had already come.
Mr Slope saw that it must be now or never, and he was determined
that it should be now. This was not his first attempt at winning a
fair lady. He had been on his knees, looked unutterable things with
his eyes, and whispered honeyed words before this. Indeed he was
somewhat an adept at these things, and had only to adapt to the
perhaps different taste of Mrs Bold the well-remembered rhapsodies
which had once so much gratified Olivia Proudie.
'Do not ask me to leave you, Mrs Bold,' said he with an impassioned
look, impassioned and sanctified as well, with that sort of look
which is not uncommon with gentlemen of Mr Slope's school, and
which may perhaps be called the tender-pious. 'Do not ask me to
leave you, till I have spoken a few words with which my heart is
full; which I have come hither purposely to say.'
Eleanor saw how it was now. She knew directly what it was she was
about to go through, and very miserable the knowledge made her. Of
course she could refuse Mr Slope, and there would be an end of
that, one might say. But there was not an end of it as far as
Eleanor was concerned. The very fact of Mr Slope's making an offer
to her would be a triumph for the archdeacon, and in a great
measure a vindication of Mr Arabin's conduct. The widow could not
bring herself to endure with patience the idea that she had been in
She had defended Mr Slope, she had declared herself quite justified
in admitting him among her acquaintance, had ridiculed the idea of
his considering himself as more than an acquaintance, and had
resented the archdeacon's caution in her behalf: now it was about
to be proved to her in a manner sufficiently disagreeable that the
archdeacon had been right, and she herself had been entirely wrong.
'I don't know what you can have to say to me, Mr Slope, that you
could not have said when we were sitting at table just now;' and
she closed her lips, and steadied her eyeballs and looked at him in
a manner that ought to have frozen him.
But gentlemen are not easily frozen when they are full of
champagne, and it would not at any time have been easy to freeze Mr
'There are things, Mrs Bold, which a man cannot well say before a
crowd; which perhaps he cannot well say at any time; which indeed
he may most fervently desire to get spoken, and which he may yet
find it almost impossible to utter. It is such things as these,
that I now wish to say to you;' and then the tender-pious look was
repeated, with a little more emphasis even than before.
Eleanor had not found it practicable to stand stock still before
the dining-room window, and there receive his offer in full view of
Miss Thorne's guests. She had therefore in self-defence walked on,
and Mr Slope had gained his object of walking with her. He now
offered her his arm.
'Thank you, Mr Slope, I am much obliged to you; but for the very
short time that I shall remain with you I shall prefer walking
'And must it be so short?' said he; 'must it be--'
'Yes,' said Eleanor, interrupting him; 'as short as possible, if
you please, sir.'
'I had hoped, Mrs Bold--I had hoped--' 'Pray hope nothing, Mr
Slope, as far as I am concerned; pray do not; I do not know, and
need not know what hope you mean. Our acquaintance is very slight,
and will probably remain so. Pray, pray, let that be enough; there
is at any rage no necessity for us to quarrel.'
Mrs Bold was certainly treating Mr Slope rather cavalierly, and he
felt it so. She was rejecting him before he had offered himself,
and informed him at the same time that he was taking a great deal
too much on himself to be so familiar. She did not even make an
>From such a sharp and waspish word as 'no' To pluck the string.
He was still determined to be very tender and very pious, seeing
that in spite of all Mrs Bold had said to him, he not yet abandoned
hope; but he was inclined to be somewhat angry. The widow was
bearing herself, as he thought, with too high a hand, was speaking
of herself in much too imperious a tone. She had clearly no idea
that an honour was being conferred on her. Mr Slope would be tender
as long as he could, but he began to think, if that failed, it
would not be amiss if he also mounted himself for a while on his
high horse. Mr Slope could undoubtedly be very tender, but he could
be very savage also, and he knew his own abilities.
'That is cruel,' said he, 'and unchristian too. The worst of us are
all still bidden to hope. What have I done that you should pass on
me so severe a sentence?' and then he paused a moment, during which
the widow walked steadily on with measured step, saying nothing
'Beautiful woman,' at last he burst forth, 'beautiful woman, you
cannot pretend to be ignorant that I adore you. Yes, Eleanor, yes,
I love you. I love you with the truest affection which man can bear
to woman. Next to my hopes of heaven are my hopes of possessing
you.' (Mr Slope's memory here played him false, or he would not
have omitted the deanery) 'How sweet to walk to heaven with you by
my side, with you for my guide, mutual guides. Say, Eleanor,
dearest Eleanor, shall we walk that sweet path together?'
Eleanor had no intention of ever walking together with Mr Slope on
any other path than the special one of Miss Thorne's which they now
occupied; but as she had been unable to prevent the expression of
Mr Slope's wishes and aspirations, she resolved to hear him out to
the end, before she answered him.
'Ah! Eleanor,' he continued, and it seemed to be his idea, that as
he had once found courage to pronounce her Christian name, he could
not utter it often enough. 'Ah! Eleanor, will it not be sweet with
the Lord's assistance, to travel hand in hand through this mortal
valley which his mercies will make pleasant to us, till hereafter
we shall dwell together at the foot of his throne?' And then a more
tenderly pious glance ever beamed from the lover's eyes. 'Ah!
'My name, Mr Slope, is Mrs Bold,' said Eleanor, who, though
determined to hear out the tale of his love, was too much disgusted
by his blasphemy to be able to bear much more of it.
'Sweetest angel, be not so cold,' said he, and as he said it the
champagne broke forth, and he contrived to pass his arm around her
waist. He did this with considerable cleverness, for up to this
point Eleanor had contrived with tolerable success to keep her
distance from him. They had got into a walk nearly enveloped by
shrubs, and Mr Slope therefore no doubt considered that as they
were now alone it was fitting that he should give her some outward
demonstration of that affection of which he talked so much. It may
perhaps be presumed that the same stamp of measures had been found
to succeed with Olivia Proudie. Be this as it may, it was not
successful with Eleanor Bold.
She sprang from him as she would have jumped from an adder, but she
did not spring far; not, indeed, beyond arm's length; and then,
quick as thought, she raised her little hand and dealt him a box on
the ear with such right good will, that it sounded among the trees
like a miniature thunder-clap.
And now it is to be feared that every well-bred reader of these
pages will lay down the book with disgust, feeling that, after all,
the heroine is unworthy of sympathy. She is a hoyden, one will say.
At any rate she is not a lady, another will exclaim. I have
suspected her all through, a third will declare; and she has no
idea of the dignity of a matron; or of the peculiar propriety which
her position demands. At one moment she is romping with young
Stanhope; then she is making eyes at Mr Arabin; anon she comes to
fisty-cuffs with a third lover; and all before she is yet a widow
of two years' standing.
She cannot altogether be defended; and yet it may be averred that
she is not a hoyden, not given to romping, nor prone to boxing. It
were to be wished devoutly that she had not struck Mr Slope in the
face. In doing so she derogated from her dignity and committed
herself. Had she been educated in Belgravia, had she been brought
up by any sterner mentor than that fond father, had she lived
longer under the rule of a husband, she might, perhaps, have saved
herself from this great fault. As it was, the provocation was too
much for her, the temptation to instant resentment of the insult
too strong. She was too keen in the feeling of independence, a
feeling dangerous for a young woman, but one in which her position
peculiarly tempted her to indulge. And then Mr Slope's face, tinted
with a deeper dye than usual by the wine he had drunk, simpering
and puckering itself with pseudo piety and tender grimaces, seemed
specially to call for such punishment. She had, too, a true
instinct as to the man; he was capable of rebuke in this way and in
no other. To him the blow from her little hand was as much an
insult as a blow from a man would have been to another. It went
directly to his pride. He conceived himself lowered in his dignity,
and personally outraged. He could almost have struck at her again
in his rage. Even the pain was a great annoyance to him, and the
feeling that his clerical character had been wholly disregarded,
sorely vexed him.
There are such men; men who can endure no taint on their personal
self-respect, even from a woman;--men whose bodies are to
themselves such sacred temples, that a joke against them is
desecration, and a rough touch downright sacrilege. Mr Slope was
such a man; and, therefore, the slap on that face that he got from
Eleanor was, as far as he was concerned, the fittest rebuke which
could have been administered to him.
But, nevertheless, she should not have raised her hand against the
man. Ladies' hands so soft, so sweet, so delicious to the touch, so
grateful to the eye, so gracious in their gentle doings, were not
made to belabour men's faces. The moment the deed was done, Eleanor
felt that she had sinned against all propriety, and would have
given little worlds to recall the blow. In her first agony of
sorrow she all but begged the man's pardon. Her next impulse,
however, and the one which she obeyed, was to run away.
'I never, never, will speak another word to you,' she said, gasping
with emotion and the loss of breath, which her exertion and violent
feelings occasioned her, and so saying she put foot to the ground
and ran quickly back along the path to the house.
But how shall I sing the divine wrath of Mr Slope, or how invoke
the tragic muse to describe the rage which swelled the celestial
bosom of the bishop's chaplain? Such an undertaking by no means
befits the low-heeled buskin of modern fiction. The painter put a
veil over Agamemnon's face when called on to depict the father's
grief at the early doom of his devoted daughter. The god, when he
resolved to punish the rebellions winds, abstained from mouthing
empty threats. The god when he resolved to punish the rebellious
winds, abstained from mouthing empty threats.
We will not attempt to tell with what mighty surging of the inner
heart Mr Slope swore to revenge himself on the woman who had
disgraced him, nor will we vainly strive to depict the deep agony
of his soul.
There he is, however, alone on the garden walk, and we must
contrive to bring him out of it. He was not willing to come forth
quite at once. His cheek was stinging with the weight of Eleanor's
fingers, and he fancied that every one who looked at him would be
able to see on his face the traces of what he had endured. He stood
awhile, becoming redder and redder with rage. He stood motionless,
undecided, glaring with his eyes, thinking of the pains and
penalties of Hades, and meditating how he might best devote his
enemy to the infernal gods with all the passion of his accustomed
eloquence. He longed in his heart to be preaching at her. 'Twas
thus that he was ordinarily avenged of sinning mortal men and
women. Could he at once have ascended his Sunday rostrum and
fulminated at her such denunciations as his spirit delighted in,
his bosom would have been greatly eased.
But how preach to Mr Thorne's laurels, or how preach indeed at all
in such a vanity fair as this now going on at Ullathorne? And then
he began to feel a righteous disgust at the wickedness of the
doings around him. He had been justly chastised for lending, by his
presence, a sanction to such worldly lures. The gaiety of society,
the mirth of banquets, the laughter of the young, and the eating
and drinking of the elders were, for awhile, without excuse in his
sight. What had he now brought down upon himself by sojourning thus
in the tents of the heathen? He had consorted with idolaters round
the altars of Baal; and therefore a sore punishment had come upon
him. He then thought of the Signora Neroni, and his soul within him
was full of sorrow. He had an inkling--a true inkling--that he was
a wicked sinful man; but it led him in no right direction; he could
admit no charity in his heart. He felt debasement coming on him,
and he longed to take it off, to rise up in his stirrup, to mount
to high places and great power, that he might get up into a mighty
pulpit and preach to the world a loud sermon against Mrs Bold.
There he stood fixed to the gravel for about ten minutes. Fortune
favoured him so far that no prying eyes came to look upon him in
his misery. Then a shudder passed over his whole frame; he
collected himself, and slowly wound his way round to the lawn,
advancing along the path and not returning in the direction which
Eleanor had taken. When he reached the tent he found the bishop
standing there in conversation with the master of Lazarus. His
lordship had come out to air himself afer the exertion of his
'This is very pleasant--very pleasant, my lord, is it not?' said Mr
Slope with his most gracious smile, and pointing to the tent; 'very
pleasant. It is delightful to see so many persons enjoying
themselves so thoroughly.'
Mr Slope thought he might force the bishop to introduce him to Dr
Gwynne. A very great example had declared and practised the wisdom
of being everything to everybody, and Mr Slope was desirous of
following it. His maxim was never to lose a chance. The bishop,
however, at the present moment was not very anxious to increase Mr
Slope's circle of acquaintance among his clerical brethren. He had
his own reasons for dropping any marked allusion to his domestic
chaplain, and he therefore made his shoulder rather cold for the
'Very, very,' said he without turning round, or even deigning to
look at Mr Slope. 'And therefore, Dr Gwynne, I really think that
you will find that the hebdomadal board will exercise as wide and
as general an authority as at the present moment. I, for one, Dr
'Dr Gwynne,' said Mr Slope, raising his hat, and resolving not to
be outwitted by such an insignificant little goose as the bishop of
The master of Lazarus also raised his hat and bowed very politely
to Mr Slope. There is not a more courteous gentleman in the queen's
dominions than the master of Lazarus.
'My lord,' said Mr Slope, 'pray do me the honour of introducing me
to Dr Gwynne. The opportunity is too much in my favour to be lost.'
The bishop had no help for it. 'My chaplain, Dr Gwynne,' said he;
'my present chaplain, Mr Slope.' he certainly made the introduction
as unsatisfactory to the chaplain as possible, and by the use of
the word present, seemed to indicate that Mr Slope might probably
not long enjoy the honour which he now held. But Mr Slope cared
nothing for this. He understood the innuendo, and disregarded it.
It might probably come to pass that he would be in a situation to
resign his chaplaincy before the bishop was in a situation to
dismiss him from it. What need the future dean of Barchester care
for the bishop, or for the bishop's wife? Had not Mr Slope, just as
he was entering Dr Stanhope's carriage, received an important note
from Tom Towers of the Jupiter? Had he not that note this moment in
So disregarding the bishop, he began to open out a conversation
with the master of Lazarus.
But suddenly and interruption came, not altogether unwelcome to Mr
Slope. One of the bishop's servants came up to his master's
shoulder with a long, grave face, and whispered into the bishop's
'What is it, John?' said the bishop.
'The dean, my lord; he is dead.'
Mr Slope had no further desire to converse with the master of
Lazarus, and was very soon on his road back to Barchester.
Eleanor, as we have said, having declared her intention of never
holding further communication with Mr Slope, ran hurriedly back
towards the house. The thought, however, of what she had done
grieved her greatly, and she could not abstain from bursting into
tears. 'Twas thus she played the second act in that day's
MRS BOLD CONFIDES HER SORROW TO HER FRIEND MISS STANHOPE
When Mrs Bold came to the end of the walk and faced the lawn, she
began to bethink herself what she should do. Was she to wait there
till Mr Slope caught her, or was she to go in among the crowd with
tears in her eyes and passion in her face? She might in truth have
stood there long enough without any reasonable fear of further
immediate persecution from Mr Slope; but we are all inclined to
magnify the bugbears which frighten us. In her present state of
dread she did not know of what atrocity he might venture to be
guilty. Had any one told her a week ago that he would have put his
arm around her waist at the party of Miss Thorne's she would have
been utterly incredulous. Had she been informed that he would be
seen on the following Sunday walking down the High Street in a
scarlet coat and top-boots, she would not have thought such a
phenomenon more improbable.
But this improbable iniquity he had committed; and now there was
nothing she could not believe of him. In the first place it was
quite manifest that he was tipsy; in the next place, it was to be
taken as proved that all his religion was sheer hypocrisy; and
finally the man was utterly shameless. She therefore stood watching
for the sound of his footfall, not without some fear that he might
creep out at her suddenly from among the bushes.
As she thus stood, she saw Charlotte Stanhope at a little distance
from her walking quickly across the grass. Eleanor's handkerchief
was in her hand, and putting it to her face so as to conceal her
tears, she ran across the lawn and joined her friend.
'Oh, Charlotte,' she said, almost too much out of breath to speak
very plainly; 'I am so glad I have found you.'
'Glad you have found me!' said Charlotte, laughing, 'that's a good
joke. Why Bertie and I have been looking for you everywhere. He
swears that you have gone off with Mr Slope, and is now on the
point of hanging himself.'
'Oh, Charlotte, don't,' said Mrs Bold.
'Why, my child, what on earth is the matter with you!' said Miss
Stanhope, perceiving that Eleanor's hand trembled on her own arm,
and finding also that her companion was still half choked with
tears. 'Goodness heaven! Something has distressed you. What is it?
What can I do for you?'
Eleanor answered her only by a sort of spasmodic gurgle in her
throat. She was a good deal upset, as people say, and could not at
the moment collect herself.
'Come here, this way, Mrs Bold; come this way, and we shall not be
seen. What has happened to vex you so? What can I do for you? Can
Bertie do anything?'
'On, no, no, no, no,' said Eleanor. 'There is nothing to be done.
Only that horrid man--'
'What horrid man?' asked Charlotte.
There are some moments in life in which both men and women feel
themselves called on to make a confidence; in which not to do so
requires a disagreeable resolution and also a disagreeable
suspicion. There are people of both sexes who never make
confidences; who are never tempted by momentary circumstances to
disclose their secrets. But such are generally dull, close,
unimpassioned spirits, 'gloomy gnomes who live in cold dark mines.'
There was nothing of the gnome about Eleanor; and she therefore
resolved to tell Charlotte Stanhope the whole story about Mr Slope.
'That horrid man; that Mr Slope,' said she, 'did you not see that
he followed me out of the dining-room?'
'Of course I did and was sorry enough; but I could not help it. I
knew you would be annoyed. But you and Bertie managed it badly
'It was not his fault nor mine either. You know how I dislike the
idea of coming in the carriage with that man.'
'I am sure I am very sorry if that has led to it.'
'I don't know what has led to it,' said Eleanor, almost crying
again. 'But it has not been my fault.'
'But what has he done, my dear?'
'He's an abominable, horrid, hypocritical man, and it would serve
him right to tell the bishop about it.'
'Believe me, if you want to do him an injury, you had far better
tell Mrs Proudie. But what did he do, Mrs Bold?'
'Ugh!' exclaimed Eleanor.
'Well, I must confess he's not very nice,' said Charlotte Stanhope.
'Nice!' said Eleanor. 'He is the most fulsome, fawning, abominable
man I ever saw. What business had he to come to me?--I that never
gave him the slightest tittle of encouragement--I that always hated
him, though I did take his part when others ran him down.'
'That's just where it is, my dear. He has heard that, and therefore
fancied that of course you were in love with him.'
This was wormwood to Eleanor. It was in fact the very thing which
all her friends had been saying for the last month past; and which
experience now proved to be true. Eleanor resolved within herself
that she would never again take any man's part. The world with all
its villainy, and all its ill-nature, might wag as it like; she
would not again attempt to set crooked things straight.
'But what did he do, my dear?' said Charlotte, who was really
rather interested in the subject.
'Well--come, it can't have been anything so very horrid, for the
man was not tipsy.'
'Oh, I am sure he was,' said Eleanor. 'I am sure he must have been
'Well, I declare I didn't observe it. But what was it, my love?'
'Why, I believe I can hardly tell you. He talked such horrid stuff
that you never heard the like; about religion, and heaven, and
love--Oh dear,--he is such a nasty man.'
'I can really imagine the sort of stuff he would talk. Well--and
'And then--he took hold of me.'
'Took hold of you?'
'Yes--he somehow got close to me, and took hold of me--'
'By the waist?'
'Yes,' said Eleanor shuddering.
'Then I jumped away from him, and gave him a slap on the face; and
ran away along the path, till I saw you.'
'Ha, ha, ha!' Charlotte Stanhope laughed heartily at the finale of
the tragedy. It was delightful to her to think that Mr Slope had
had his ears boxed. She did not quite appreciate the feeling which
made her friend so unhappy at the result of the interview. To her
thinking, the matter had ended happily enough as regarded the
widow, who indeed was entitled to some sort of triumph among her
friends. Whereas Mr Slope would be due all those jibes and jeers
which would naturally follow such an affair. His friends would ask
him whether his ears tingled whenever he saw a widow; and he would
be cautioned that beautiful things were made to be looked at, and
not to be touched.
Such were Charlotte Stanhope's views on such matters; but she did
not at the present moment clearly explain them to Mrs Bold. Her
object was to endear herself to her friend; and therefore, having
had her laugh, she was ready enough to offer sympathy. Could Bertie
do anything? Should Bertie speak to the man, and warn him that in
future he must behave with more decorum? Bertie, indeed, she
declared, would be more angry than any one else when he heard to
what insult Mrs Bold had been subjected.
'But you won't tell him?' said Mrs Bold with a look of horror.
'Not if you don't like it,' said Charlotte; 'but considering
everything, I would strongly advise it. If you had a brother, you
know, it would be unnecessary. But it is very right that Mr Slope
should know that you have somebody by you that will, and can
'But my father is here.'
'Yes, but it is so disagreeable for clergymen to have to quarrel
with each other; and circumstanced as your father is just at this
moment, it would be very inexpedient that there should be anything
unpleasant between him and Mr Slope. Surely you and Bertie are
intimate enough for you to permit him to take your part.'
Charlotte Stanhope was very anxious that her brother should at once
on that very day settle matters with his future wife.
Things had now come to that point between him and his father, and
between him and his creditors, that he must either do so, or leave
Barchester; either do that, or go back to his unwashed associates,
dirty lodgings, and poor living at Carrara. Unless he could provide
himself with an income, he must go to Carrara or to -. His father
the prebendary had not said this in so many words, but had he done
so, he could not have signified it more plainly.
Such being the state of the case, it was very necessary that no
more time should be lost. Charlotte had seen her brother's apathy,
when he neglected to follow Mrs Bold out of the room, with anger
which she could hardly suppress. It was grievous to think that Mr
Slope should have so distanced him.
Charlotte felt that she had played her part with sufficient skill.
She had brought them together and induced such a degree of
intimacy, that her brother was really relieved from all trouble and
labour in the matter. And moreover, it was quite plain that Mrs
Bold was very fond of Bertie. And now it was plain enough also that
he had nothing to fear from his rival Mr Slope.
There was certainly an awkwardness in subjecting Mrs Bold to a
second offer on the same day. It would have been well, perhaps, to
have put the matter off for a week, could a week have been spared.
But circumstances are frequently too peremptory to be arranged as
we would wish to arrange them; and such was the case now. This
being so, could not this affair of Mr Slope's be turned to
advantage? Could it not be made the excuse for bringing Bertie and
Mrs Bold into still closer connection; into such close connection
that they could not fail to throw themselves into each other's
arms? Such was the game which Miss Stanhope now at a moment's
notice resolved to play.
And very well she played it. In the first place, it was arranged
that Mr Slope should not return in the Stanhope's carriage to
Barchester. It so happened that Mr Slope was already gone, but of
that of course they knew nothing. The signora should be induced to
go first, with only the servants and her sister, and Bertie should
take Mr Slope's place in the second journey. Bertie was to be told
in confidence of the whole affair, and when the carriage was gone
off with the first load, Eleanor was to be left under Bertie's
special protection, so as to insure her from any further aggression
from Mr Slope. While the carriage was getting ready, Bertie was to
seek out that gentleman and make him understand that he must
provide himself with another conveyance back to Barchester. Their
immediate object should be to walk about together in search of
Bertie. Bertie, in short, was to be the Pegasus on whose wings they
were to ride out of their present dilemma.
There was a warmth of friendship and cordial kindness in all this,
that was very soothing to the widow; but yet, though she gave way
to it, she was hardly reconciled to doing so. It never occurred to
her, that now that she had killed one dragon, another was about to
spring up in her path; she had no remote idea that she would have
to encounter another suitor in her proposed protector, but she
hardly liked the idea of putting herself so much into the hands of
young Stanhope. She felt that if she wanted protection, she should
go to her father. She felt that she should ask him to provide a
carriage for her back to Barchester. Mrs Clantantram she knew would
give her a seat. She knew that she should not throw herself
entirely upon friends whose friendship dated as it were but from
yesterday. But yet she could not say, 'no,' to one who was so
sisterly in her kindness, so eager in her good nature, so
comfortably sympathetic as Charlotte Stanhope.
They first went into the dining-room, looking for their champion,
and from thence to the drawing-room. Here they found Mr Arabin,
still hanging over the signora's sofa; or, rather, they found him
sitting near her head, as a physician might have sat, had the lady
been his patient. There was no other person in the room. The guests
were some in the tent, some few still in the dining-room, some at
the bows and arrows, but most of them walking with Miss Thorne
through the park, and looking at the games that were going on.
All that had passed, and was passing between Mr Arabin and the
lady, it is unnecessary to give in detail. She was doing with him
as she did with all others. It was her mission to make fools of
men, and she was pursuing her mission with Mr Arabin. She had
almost got him to own his love for Mrs Bold, and had subsequently
almost induced him to acknowledge a passion for herself. He, poor
man, was hardly aware what he was doing or saying, hardly conscious
whether he was in heaven or hell. So little had he known of female
attractions of that peculiar class which the signora owned, that he
became affected with a temporary delirium, when first subjected to
its power. He lost his head rather than his heart, and toppled
about mentally, reeling in his ideas as a drunken man does on his
legs. She had whispered to him words that really meant nothing, but
which coming from such beautiful lips, and accompanied by such
lustrous glances, seemed to have a mysterious significance, which
he felt though he could not understand.
In being thus be-sirened, Mr Arabin behaved himself very
differently from Mr Slope. The signora had said truly, that the two
men were the contrasts of each other; that the one was all for
action, the other all for thought. Mr Slope, when this lady laid
upon his senses the overpowering breath of her charms, immediately
attempted to obtain some fruition, to achieve some mighty triumph.
He began by catching at her hand, and progressed by kissing it. He
made vows of love, and asked for vows in return. He promised
everlasting devotion, knelt before her, and swore that had she been
on Mount Ida, Juno would have no cause to hate the offspring of
Venus. But Mr Arabin uttered no oaths, kept his hand mostly in his
trousers pocket, and had no more thought of kissing Madam Neroni
than of kissing the Countess De Courcy.
As soon as Mr Arabin saw Mrs Bold enter the room, he blushed and
rose from his chair; then he sat down again, and then again got up.
The signora saw the blush at once, and smiled at the poor victim,
but Eleanor was too much confused to see anything.
'Oh, Madeline,' said Charlotte, 'I want to speak to you
particularly; we must arrange about the carriage, you know,' and
she stooped down to whisper to her sister. Mr Arabin immediately
withdrew to a little distance, and as Charlotte had in fact much to
explain before she could make the new arrangement intelligible, he
had nothing to do but to talk to Mrs Bold.
'We have had a very pleasant party,' said he, using the tone he
would have used had he declared that the sun was shining very
brightly, or the rain was falling very fast.
'Very,' said Eleanor, who never in her life had passed a more
'I hope Mr Harding has enjoyed himself.'
'Oh, yes, very much,' said Eleanor, who had not seen her father
since she parted from him soon after her arrival.
'He returns to Barchester to-night, I suppose.'
'Yes, I believe so; that is, I think he is staying at Plumstead.'
'Oh, staying at Plumstead,' said Mr Arabin.
'He came from there this morning. I believe he is going back; he
didn't exactly say, however.'
'I hope Mrs Grantly is quite well.'
'She seemed to be quite well. She is here; that is, unless she has
'Oh, yes, to be sure. I was talking to her. Looking very well
indeed.' Then there was a considerable pause: for Charlotte could
not at once make Madeline understand why she was to be sent home in
a hurry without her brother.
'Are you returning to Plumstead, Mrs Bold?' Mr Arabin merely asked
this by way of making conversation, but he immediately perceived
that he was approaching dangerous ground.
'No,' said Mrs Bold, very quietly; 'I am going home to Barchester.'
'Oh, ah, yes. I had forgotten that you had returned.' And then Mr
Arabin, finding it impossible to say anything further, stood silent
till Charlotte had completed her plans, and Mrs Bold stood equally
silent, intently occupied as it appeared in the arrangement of her
And yet these two people were thoroughly in love with each other;
and though one was a middle-aged clergyman, and the other a lady at
any rate past the wishy-washy bread-and-butter period of life, they
were as unable to tell their own minds to each other as any Damon
and Phillis, whose united ages would not make up that to which Mr
Arabin had already attained.
Madeline Neroni consented to her sister's proposal, and then the
two ladies again went off in quest of Bertie Stanhope.
ULLATHORNE SPORTS--ACT III
And now Miss Thorne's guests were beginning to take their
departure, and the amusement of those who remained was becoming
slack. It was getting dark, and ladies in morning costumes were
thinking that if they were to appear by candle-light they ought to
readjust themselves. Some young gentlemen had been heard to talk so
loud that prudent mammas determined to retire judiciously, and the
more discreet of the male sex, whose libation had been moderate,
felt that there was not much more left for them to do.
Morning parties, as a rule, are failures. People never know how to
get away from them gracefully. A picnic on an island or a mountain
or in a wood may perhaps be permitted. There is no master of the
mountain bound by courtesy to bid you stay while in his heart he is
longing for your departure. But in a private home or in private
grounds a morning party is a bore. One is called on to eat and
drink at unnatural hours. One is obliged to give up the day which
is useful, and is then left without resources for the evening which
is useless. One gets home fagged and desouvre, and yet at an hour
too early for bed. There is not comfortable resource left. Cards in
these genteel days are among the things tabooed, and a rubber of
whist is impracticable.
All this began now to be felt. Some young people had come with some
amount of hope that they might get up a dance in the evening, and
were unwilling to leave till all such hope was at an end. Others,
fearful of staying longer than was expected, had ordered their
carriages early, and were doing their best to go, solicitous for
their servants and horses. The countess and her noble brood were
among the first to leave, and as regarded the Hon. George, it was
certainly time that he did so. Her ladyship was in a great fret and
fume. Those horrid roads would, she was sure, be the death of her
if unhappily she were caught in them by the dark of night. The
lamps she was assured were good, but no lamp could withstand the
jolting of the roads of East Barsetshire.
The De Courcy property lay in the western division of the county.
Mrs Proudie could not stay when the countess was gone. So the
bishop was searched for by the Revs. Messrs. Grey and Green, and
found in one corner of the tent enjoying himself thoroughly in a
disquisition on the hebdomadal board. He obeyed, however, the
behests of the lady without finishing the sentence in which he was
promising to Dr Gwynne that his authority at Oxford should remain
unimpaired; and the episcopal horses turned their noses towards the
palatial stables. Then the Grantlys went. Before they did so Mr
Harding managed to whisper a word into his daughter's ear. Of
course, he said, he would undeceive the Grantlys as to that foolish
rumour about Mr Slope.
'No, no, no,' said Eleanor; 'pray do not--pray wait till I see you.
You will be home in a day or two, and then I will explain to you
'I shall be home to-morrow,' said he.
'I am so glad,' said Eleanor. 'You will come and dine with me, and
then we shall be so comfortable.'
Mr Harding promised. He did not exactly know what there was to be
explained, or why Dr Grantly's mind should not be disabused of the
mistake into which he had fallen; but nevertheless he promised. He
owed some reparation to his daughter, and he thought that he might
best make it by obedience.
And thus the people were thinning off by degrees, as Charlotte and
Eleanor walked about in quest of Bertie. Their search might have
been long, had they not happened to hear his voice. He was
comfortably ensconced in the ha-ha, with his back to the sloping
side, smoking a cigar, and eagerly engaged in conversation with
some youngster from the further side of the county, whom he had
never met before, who was also smoking under Bertie's pupilage, and
listening with open ears to an account given by his companion of
some of the pastimes of the Eastern clime.
'Bertie, I am seeking you everywhere,' said Charlotte. 'Come up
here at once.'
Bertie looked up out of the ha-ha, and saw the two ladies before
him. As there was nothing for him but to obey, he got up and threw
away his cigar. From the first moment of his acquaintance with her
he had liked Eleanor Bold. Had he been left to his own devices, had
she been penniless, and had it then been quite out of the question
that he should marry her, he would most probably have fallen
violently in love with her. But now he could not help regarding her
somewhat as he did the marble workshops at Carrara, as he had done
his easel and palette, as he had done the lawyer's chambers in
London; in fact, as he had invariably regarded everything by which
it had been proposed to obtain the means of living. Eleanor Bold
appeared before him, no longer as a beautiful woman, but as a new
profession called matrimony. It was a profession indeed requiring
but little labour, and one in which an income was insured to him.
But nevertheless he had been as it were goaded on to it; his sister
had talked to him of Eleanor, just as she had talked of busts and
portraits. Bertie did not dislike money, but he hated the very
thought of earning it. He was now called away from his pleasant
cigar to earn it, by offering himself as a husband to Mrs Bold. The
work indeed was made easy enough; for in lieu of his having to seek
the widow, the widow had apparently come to seek him.
He made some sudden absurd excuse to his auditor, and then throwing
away his cigar, climbed up the wall of the ha-ha and joined the
ladies on the lawn.
'Come and give Mrs Bold your arm,' said Charlotte, 'while I set you
on a piece of duty which, as a preux chevalier, you must
immediately perform. Your personal danger will, I fear, be
insignificant, as your antagonist is a clergyman.'
Bertie immediately gave his arm to Eleanor, walking between her and
his sister. He had lived too long abroad to fall into an
Englishman's habit of offering each an arm to two ladies at the
same time; a habit, by the bye, which foreigners regard as an
approach to bigamy, or a sort of incipient Mormonism.
The little history of Mr Slope's misconduct was then told to Bertie
by his sister, Eleanor's ears tingling the while. And well they
might tingle. If it were necessary to speak of the outrage at all,
why should it be spoken of to such a person as Mr Stanhope, and why
in her own hearing? She knew she was wrong, and was unhappy and
dispirited, and yet she could think of no way to extricate herself,
no way to set herself right. Charlotte spared her as much as she
possibly could, spoke of the whole thing as though Mr Slope had
taken a glass of wine too much, said that of course there would be
nothing more about it, but that steps must be taken to exclude Mr
Slope from the carriage.
'Mrs Bold need be under no alarm about that,' said Bertie, 'for Mr
Slope has gone this hour past. He told me that business made it
necessary that he should start at once for Barchester.'
'He is not so tipsy, at any rate, but what he knows his fault,'
said Charlotte. 'Well, my dear, that is one difficulty over. Now
I'll leave you with your true knight, and get Madeline off as
quickly as I can. The carriage is here, I suppose, Bertie?'
'It has been here for the last hour.'
'That's well. Good-bye, my dear. Of course you'll come in to tea. I
shall trust you to bring her, Bertie; even by force if necessary.'
And so saying, Charlotte was off across the lawn, leaving her
brother alone with the widow.
As Miss Stanhope went off, Eleanor bethought herself that, as Mr
Slope had taken his departure, there no longer existed any
necessity for separating Mr Stanhope from his sister Madeline, who
so much needed his aid. It had been arranged that he should remain
so as to preoccupy Mr Slope's place in the carriage, and act as a
social policeman to effect the exclusion of that disagreeable
gentleman. But Mr Slope had effected his own exclusion, and there
as no possible reason now why Bertie should not go with his sister.
At least Eleanor saw none, and she said so much.
'Oh, let Charlotte have her own way,' said he. 'She has arranged
it, and there will be no end of confusion if we make another
change. Charlotte always arranges everything in our house; and
rules us like a despot.'
'But the signora?' said Eleanor.
'Oh, the signora can do very well without me. Indeed, she will have
to do without me,' he added, thinking rather of his studies in
Carrara, than of his Barchester hymeneals.
'Why, you are not going to leave us?' asked Eleanor.
It has been said that Bertie Stanhope was a man without principle.
He certainly was so. He had no power of using active mental
exertion to keep himself from doing evil. Evil had no ugliness in
his eyes; virtue no beauty. He was void of any of those feelings
which actuate men to do good. But he was perhaps equally void of
those which actuate men to do evil. He got into debt with utter
recklessness, thinking of nothing as to whether the tradesmen would
ever be paid or not. But he did not invent active schemes of deceit
for the sake of extracting the goods of others. If a man gave him
credit, that was the man's look-out; Bertie Stanhope troubled
himself nothing further. In borrowing money he did the same; he
gave people references to 'his governor', told them that the 'old
chap' had a good income; and agreed to pay sixty per cent for the
accommodation. All this he did without a scruple of conscience; but
then he never contrived active villainy.
In this affair of his marriage, it had been represented to him as a
matter of duty that he ought to put himself in possession of Mrs
Bold's hand and fortune; and at first he had so regarded it. About
her he had thought but little. It was the customary thing for men
situated as he was to marry for money, and there was no reason why
he should not do what others around him did. And so he consented.
But now he began to see the matter in another light. He was setting
himself down to catch a woman, as a cat sits to catch a mouse. He
was to catch her, and swallow her up, her and her child, and her
houses and land, in order that he might live on her instead of on
his father. There was a cold, calculating, cautious cunning about
this quite at variance with Bertie's character. The prudence of the
measure was quite as antagonistic to his feelings as the iniquity.
And then, should he be successful, what would be the reward? Having
satisfied his creditors with half of the widow's fortune, he would
be allowed to sit down quietly at Barchester, keeping economical
house with the remainder. His duty would be to rock the cradle of
the late Mr Bold's child, and his highest excitement a demure party
at Plumstead rectory, should it ultimately turn out that the
archdeacon be sufficiently reconciled to receive him.
There was little in the programme to allure such a man as Bertie
Stanhope. Would not the Carrara workshop, or whatever worldly
career fortune might have in store for him, would not almost
anything be better than this? The lady herself was undoubtedly all
that was desirable; but the most desirable lady becomes nauseous
when she has to be taken as a pill. He was pledged to his sister,
however, and let him quarrel with whom he would, it behoved him not
to quarrel with her. If she were lost to him all would be lost that
he could ever hope to derive henceforward from the paternal
roof-tree. His mother was apparently indifferent to his weal or
woe, to his wants or to his warfare. His father's brow got blacker
and blacker from day to day, as the old man looked at his hopeless
son. And as for Madeline--poor Madeline, whom of all of them he
liked the best,--she had enough to do to shift for herself. No;
come what might, he must cling to his sister and obey her behests,
let them be ever so stern; or at the very least be seen to obey
them. Could not some happy deceit bring him through in this matter,
so that he might save appearances with his sister, and yet not
betray the widow to her ruin? What if he made a confidence of
'Twas in this spirit that Bertie Stanhope set about his wooing.
'But you are not going to leave Barchester?' asked Eleanor.
'I do not know,' he replied. 'I hardly know yet what I am going to
do. But it is at any rate certain that I must do something.'
'You mean about your profession?' said she.
'Yes, about my profession, if you can call it one.'
'And is it not one?' said Eleanor. 'Were I a man, I know none I
should prefer to it, except painting. And I believe the one is as
much in your power as the other.'
'Yes, just about equally so,' said Bertie with a little touch of
inward satire directed at himself. He knew in his heart that he
would never make a penny by either.
'I have often wondered, Mr Stanhope, why you do not exert yourself
more,' said Eleanor, who felt a friendly fondness for the man with
whom she was walking. 'But I know it is very impertinent in me to
'Impertinent!' said he. 'Not so, but much too kind. It is much too
kind in you to take an interest in so idle a scamp.'
'And make busts of the bishop, dean and chapter? Or perhaps, if I
achieve great success, obtain a commission to put up an elaborate
tombstone over a prebendary's widow, a dead lady with a Grecian
nose, a bandeau, and an intricate lace veil; lying of course on a
marble sofa, from among the legs of which Death will be creeping
out and poking at his victim with a small toasting-fork.'
Eleanor laughed; but yet she thought that if the surviving
prebendary paid the bill the object of the artist as a professional
man would, in great measure, be obtained.
'I don't know about the dean and chapter and the prebendary's
widow,' said Eleanor. 'Of course you must take them as they come.
But the fact of your having a great cathedral in which such
ornaments are required, could not but be in your favour.'
'No real artist could descend to the ornamentation of a cathedral,'
said Bertie, who had his ideas of the high ecstatic ambition of
art, as indeed all artists have, who are not in receipt of a good
income. 'Building should be fitted to grace the sculpture, not the
sculpture to grace the building.'
'Yes, when the work of art is good enough to merit it. Do you, Mr
Stanhope, do something sufficiently excellent, and we ladies of
Barchester will erect for it a fitting receptacle. Come, what shall
the subject be?'
'I'll put you in your pony-chair, Mrs Bold, as Dannecker put
Ariadne on her lion. Only you must promise to sit for me.'
'My ponies are too tame, I fear, and my broad-brimmed straw hat
will not look so well in marble as the lace veil of the
'If you will not consent to that, Mrs Bold, I will consent to try
no other subject in Barchester.'
'You are determined, then, to push your fortune in other lands?'
'I am determined,' said Bertie, slowly and significantly as he
tried to bring up his mind to a great resolve; 'I am determined in
this matter to be guided wholly by you.'
'Wholly by me!' said Eleanor, astonished at, and not quite liking
his altered manner.
'Wholly by you,' said Bertie, dropping his companion's arm, and
standing before her on the path. In their walk they had come
exactly to the spot where Eleanor had been provoked into slapping
Mr Slope's face. Could it be possible that the place was peculiarly
unpropitious to her comfort? Could it be possible that she should
her have to encounter another amorous swain?
'If you will be guided by me, Mr Stanhope, you will set yourself
down to steady and persevering work, and you will be ruled by your
father as to the place in which it will be most advisable for you
to do so.'
'Nothing could be more prudent, if only it were practicable. But
now, if you will let me, I will tell you how it is that I will be
guided by you, and why. Will you let me tell you?'
'I really do not know what you can have to tell.'
'No--you cannot know. It is impossible that you should. But we have
been very good friends, Mrs Bold, have we not?'
'Yes, I think we have,' said she, observing in his demeanour an
earnestness very unusual with him.
'You were kind enough to say just now that you took an interest in
me, and I was perhaps vain enough to believe you.'
'There is no vanity in that; I do so as your sister's brother,--and
as my own friend also.'
'Well, I don't deserve that you should feel so kindly towards me,'
said Bertie; 'but upon my word I am very grateful for it,' and he
paused awhile, hardly knowing how to introduce the subject that he
had in hand.
And it was no wonder that he found it difficult. He had to make
known to his companion the scheme that had been prepared to rob her
of her wealth; he had to tell her that he loved her without
intending to marry her; and he had also to bespeak from her not
only his own pardon, but also that of his sister, and induce Mrs
Bold to protest in her future communication with Charlotte that an
offer had been duly made to her and duly rejected.
Bertie Stanhope was not prone to be very diffident of his own
conversational powers, but it did seem to him that he was about to
tax them almost too far. He hardly knew where to begin, and he
hardly knew where he should end.
'I wish to be guided by you,' said he; 'and, indeed, in this
matter, there is no one else who can set me right.'
'Oh, that must be nonsense,' said she.
'Well, listen to me now, Mrs Bold; and if you can help it, pray
don't be angry with me.'
'Angry!' said she.
'Oh, indeed you will have cause to do so. You know how very much
attached to you my sister Charlotte is.'
Eleanor acknowledged that she did.
'Indeed she is; I never knew her to love any one so warmly on so
short an acquaintance. You know also how well she loves me?'
Eleanor now made no answer, but she felt the blood tingle in her
cheek as she gathered from what he said the probable result of this
double-barrelled love on the part of Miss Stanhope.
'I am her only brother, Mrs Bold, and it is not to be wondered at
that she should love me. But you do not yet know Charlotte--you do
not know how entirely the well-being of our family hangs on her.
Without her to manage for us, I do not know how we should get on
from day to day. You cannot yet have observed all this.'
Eleanor had indeed observed a good deal of this; she did not
however now say so, but allowed him to proceed with his story.
'You cannot therefore be surprised that Charlotte should be most
anxious to do the best for us all.
Eleanor said that she was not at all surprised.
'And she has had a very difficult game to play, Mrs Bold--a very
difficult game. Poor Madeline's unfortunate marriage and terrible
accident, my mother's ill-health, my father's absence from England,
and last, and worst perhaps my own roving, idle spirit have almost
been too much for her. You cannot wonder if among all her cares one
of the foremost is to see me settled in the world.'
Eleanor on this occasion expressed no acquiescence. She certainly
supposed that a formal offer was to be made, and could not but
think that so singular an exordium was never before made by a
gentleman in a similar position. Mr Slope had annoyed her by the
excess of his ardour. It was quiet clear that no such danger was to
be feared from Mr Stanhope. Prudential motives alone actuated him. Not only was he about to
make love because his sister told him, but he also took the
precaution of explaining all this before he began. 'Twas thus, we
may presume, that the matter presented itself to Mrs Bold.
When he had got so far, Bertie began poling in the gravel with a
little cane which he carried. He still kept moving on, but very
slowly, and his companion moved slowly by his side, not inclined to
assist him in the task the performance of which appeared to be
difficult to him.
'Knowing how fond she is of yourself, Mrs Bold, cannot you imagine
what scheme should have occurred to her?'
'I can imagine no better scheme, Mr Stanhope, than the one I
proposed to you just now.'
'No,' said he, somewhat lack-a-daisically; 'I suppose that would be
the best; but Charlotte thinks another plan might be joined with
it.--She wants me to marry you.'
A thousand remembrances flashed across Eleanor's mind all in a
moment--how Charlotte had talked about and praised her brother, how
she had continually contrived to throw the two of them together,
how she had encouraged all manner of little intimacies, how she had
with singular cordiality persisted in treating Eleanor as one of
the family. All this had been done to secure her comfortable income
for the benefit of one of the family!
Such a feeling as this is very bitter when it first impresses
itself on a young mind. To the old such plots and plans, such
matured schemes for obtaining the goods of this world without the
trouble of earning them, such long-headed attempts to convert
'tuum' into 'meum' are the ways of life to which they are
accustomed. 'Tis thus that many live, and it therefore behoves all
those who are well to do in the world be on their guard against
those who are not. With them it is the success that disgusts, not
the attempt. But Eleanor had not yet learnt to look on her money as
a source of danger; she had not begun to regard herself as fair
game to be hunted down by hungry gentlemen. She had enjoyed the
society of the Stanhopes, she had greatly liked the cordiality of
Charlotte, and had been happy in her new friends. Now she saw the
cause of all that kindness, and her mind was opened to a new phase
of human life.
'Miss Stanhope,' said she haughtily, 'has been contriving for me a
great deal of honour, but she might have saved herself the trouble.
I an not sufficiently ambitious.'
'Pray don't be angry with her, Mrs Bold,' said he, 'or with me
'Certainly not with you, Mr Stanhope,' said she, with considerable
sarcasm in her tone. 'Certainly not with you.'
'No,--nor with her,' said he imploringly.
'And why, may I ask you, Mr Stanhope, have you told me this
singular story? For I may presume I may judge by your manner of
telling it, that--that--that you and your sister are not exactly of
one mind on the subject.'
'No, we are not.'
'And if so,' said Mrs Bold, who was now really angry with the
unnecessary insult, which she thought had been offered to her, 'and
if so, why has it been worth your while to tell me all this?'
'I did once think, Mrs Bold--that you--that you--'
The widow now again became entirely impassive, and would not lend
the slightest assistance to her companion.
'I did once think that you perhaps might--might have been taught to
regard me as more than a friend.'
'Never!,' said Mrs Bold, 'never. If I have ever allowed myself to
do anything to encourage such an idea, I have been very much to
blame,--very much to blame, indeed.'
'You never have,' said Bertie, who really had a good-natured
anxiety to make what he said as little unpleasant as possible. 'You
never have, and I have seen for some time that I had no chance; but
my sister's hopes ran higher. I have not mistaken you, Mrs Bold,
though perhaps she has.'
'Then why have you said all this to me?'
'Because I must not anger her.'
'And will not this anger her? Upon my word, Mr Stanhope, I do not
understand the policy of your family. Oh, how I wish I was at
home!' And as she expressed this wish, she could restrain herself
no longer, but burst out into a flood of tears.
Poor Bertie was greatly moved. 'You shall have the carriage to
yourself going home,' said he, 'at least you and my father. As for
me I can walk, or for the matter of that it does not much signify
what I do.' He perfectly understood that part of Eleanor's grief
arose from the apparent necessity of going back to Barchester in
the carriage of her second suitor.
This somewhat mollified her. 'Oh, Mr Stanhope,' said she, 'why
should you have made me so miserable? What will have gained by
telling me all this?'
He had not even yet explained to her the most difficult part of his
proposition; he had not told her that she was to be a party to the
little deception which he intended to play off upon his sister.
This suggestion had still to be made, and as it was absolutely
necessary, he proceeded to make it.
We need not follow him through the whole of his statement. At last,
and not without considerable difficulty, he made Eleanor understand
why he had let her into his confidence, seeing that he no longer
intended her the honour of a formal offer. At last he made her
comprehend the part which she was destined to play in this little
But when she did understand it, she was only more angry with him
than ever: more angry, not only with him, but with Charlotte also.
Her fair name was to bandied about between them in different
senses, and each sense false. She was to played off by the sister
against the father; and then by the brother against the sister. Her
dear friend Charlotte, with all her agreeable sympathy and
affection, was striving to sacrifice her for the Stanhope family
welfare; and Bertie, who, as he now proclaimed himself, was over
head and heels in debt, completed the compliment of owning that he
did not care to have his debts paid at so great a sacrifice to
himself. Then she was asked to conspire together with this
unwilling suitor, for the sake of making the family believe that he
had in obedience to their commands done his best to throw himself
She lifted up her face when she had finished, and looking at him
with much dignity, even through her tears, she said--
'I regret to say it, Mr Stanhope; but after what has passed, I
believe that all intercourse between your family and myself had
'Well, perhaps it had,' said Bertie naively; 'perhaps that will be
better, at any rate for a time; and then Charlotte will think you
are offended at what I have done.'
'And now I will go back to the house, if you please,' said Eleanor.
'I can find my way by myself, Mr Stanhope: after what has passed,'
she added, 'I would rather go alone.'
'But I must find the carriage for you, Mrs Bold, and I must tell my
father that you will return with him alone, and I must make some
excuse to him for not going with you; and I must bid the servant
put you down at your own house, for I suppose you will not now
choose to see them again in the close.'
There was a truth about this, and a perspicuity in making
arrangements for lessening her immediate embarrassment, which had
some effect in softening Eleanor's anger. So she suffered herself
to walk by his side over the now deserted lawn, till they came to
the drawing-room window. There was something about Bertie Stanhope
which gave him in the estimation of every one, a different standing
from that which any other man would occupy under similar
circumstances. Angry as Eleanor was, and great as was her cause for
anger, she was not half as angry with him as she would have been
with any one else. He was apparently so simple, so good- natured,
so unaffected and easy to talk to, that she had already
half-forgiven him before he was at the drawing-room window. When
they arrived there, Dr Stanhope was sitting nearly alone with Mr
and Miss Thorne; one or two other unfortunates were there, who from
one cause or another were still delayed in getting away; but they
were every moment getting fewer in number.
As soon as he had handed Eleanor over to his father, Bertie started
off to the front gate, in search of the carriage, and there waited
leaning patiently against the front wall, and comfortably smoking a
cigar, till it came up. When he returned to the room, Dr Stanhope
and Eleanor were alone with their hosts.
'At last, Miss Thorne,' said he cheerily, 'I have come to relieve
you. Mrs Bold and my father are the last roses in the very
delightful summer you have given us, and desirable as Mrs Bold's
society always is, now at least you must be glad to see the last
flowers plucked from the tree.'
Miss Thorne declared that she was delighted to have Mrs Bold and Dr
Stanhope still with her; and Mr Thorne would have said the same,
had he not been checked by a yawn, which he could not suppress.
'Father, will you give your arm to Mrs Bold?' said Bertie: and so
the last adieux were made, and the prebendary led out Mrs Bold,
followed by his son.
'I shall be home soon after you,' said he, as the two got into the
'Are you not coming in the carriage?' said the father.
'No, no; I have some one to see on the road, and shall walk. John,
mind you drive to Mrs Bold's house first.'
Eleanor, looking out of the window, saw him with his hat in his
hand, bowing to her with his usual gay smile, as though nothing had
happened to mar the tranquillity of the day. It was many a long
year before she saw him again. Dr Stanhope hardly spoke to her on
her way home: and she was safely deposited by John at her own
hall-door, before the carriage drove into the close.
And thus our heroine played the last act of that day's melodrama.
MR AND MRS QUIVERFUL ARE MADE HAPPY. MR SLOPE ENCOURAGED BY THE
Before she started for Ullathorne, Mrs Proudie, careful soul,
caused two letters to be written, one by herself and one by her
lord, to the inhabitants of Puddingdale vicarage, which made happy
the hearth of those within it.
As soon as the departure of the horses left the bishop's
stable-groom free for other services, that humble denizen of the
diocese started on the bishop's own pony with the two despatches.
We have had so many letters lately that we will spare ourselves
these. That from the bishop was simply a request that Mr Quiverful
would wait upon his lordship the next morning at 11 A.M.; and that
from the lady was as simply a request that Mrs Quiverful would do
the same by her, though it was couched in somewhat longer and more
It had become a point of conscience with Mrs Proudie to urge the
settlement of this great hospital question. She was resolved that
Mr Quiverful should have it. She was resolved that there should be
no more doubt or delay; no more refusals and resignations, nor more
secret negotiations carried on by Mr Slope on his own account in
opposition to her behests.
'Bishop,' she said, immediately after breakfast, on the morning of
that eventful day, 'have you signed the appointment yet?'
'No, my dear, not yet; it is not exactly signed as yet.'
'Then do it,' said the lady.
The bishop did it; and a very pleasant day indeed he spent at
Ullathorne. And when he got home he had a glass of hot negus in his
wife's sitting-room, and read the last number of the 'Little
Dorrit' of the day with great inward satisfaction. Oh, husbands,
oh, my marital friends, what great comfort is there to be derived
from a wife well obeyed!
Much perturbation and flutter, high expectation and renewed hopes,
were occasioned at Puddingdale, by the receipt of those episcopal
dispatches. Mrs Quiverful, whose careful ear caught the sound of
the pony's feet as he trotted up to the vicarage kitchen door,
brought them in hurriedly to her husband. She was at the moment
concocting the Irish stew destined to satisfy the noonday want of
fourteen young birds, let alone the parent couple. She had taken
the letters from the man's hands between the folds of her capacious
apron, so as to save them from the contamination of the stew, and
in this guise she brought them to her husband's desk.
They at once divided the spoil, each taking that addressed to the
others. 'Quiverful,'said she with impressive voice, 'you are to be
at the palace at eleven to-morrow.'
'And so are you, my dear,' said he, almost gasping with the
importance of the tidings: and then they exchanged letters.
'She'd never have sent for me again,' said the lady, 'if it wasn't
'Oh! My dear, don't be too certain,' said the gentleman. 'Only
think if it should be wrong.'
'She'd never have sent for me, Q., if it wasn't all right,' again
argued the lady. 'She's stiff and hard and proud as pie-crust, but
I think she's right at bottom.' Such was Mrs Quiverful's verdict
about Mrs Proudie, to which in after times she always adhered.
People when they get their income doubled usually think that those
through whose instrumentality this little ceremony is performed are
right at bottom.
'Oh, Letty!' said Mr Quiverful, rising from his well-worn seat.
'Oh, Q!' said Mrs Quiverful; and then the two, unmindful of the
kitchen apron, the greasy fingers, and the adherent Irish stew,
threw themselves warmly into each other's arms.
'For heaven's sake, don't let any one cajole you out of it again,'
said the wife.
'Let me alone for that,' said the husband, with a look of almost
fierce determination, pressing his fist as he spoke rigidly on his
desk, as though he had Mr Slope's head below his knuckles, and
meant to keep it there.
'I wonder how soon it will be,' said she.
'I wonder whether it will be at all,' said he, still doubtful.
'Well, I won't say too much,' said the lady. 'The cup has slipped
twice before, and it may fall altogether this time; but I'll not
believe it. He'll give you the appointment to-morrow. You'll find
'Heaven send he may,' said Mr Quiverful, solemnly. And who that
considers the weight of the burden on this man's back, will say
that the prayer was an improper one? There were fourteen of
them--fourteen of them living--as Mrs Quiverful had so powerfully
urged in the presence of the bishop's wife. As long as promotion
cometh from any human source, whether north or south, east or west,
will not such a claim as this hold good, in spite of all our
examination tests, detur digniori's and optimist tendencies? It is
fervently to be hoped that it may. Till we can become divine we
must be content to be human, lest in our hurry for change we sink
to something lower.
And then the pair sitting down lovingly together, talked over all
their difficulties, as they so often did, and all their hopes, as
they so seldom were able to do.
'You had better call on that man, Q, as you come away from the
palace,' said Mrs Quiverful, pointing to an angry call for money
from the Barchester draper, which the postman had left at the
vicarage that morning. Cormorant that he was, unjust, hungry
cormorant! When rumour first got abroad that the Quiverfuls were to
go to the hospital this fellow with fawning eagerness had pressed
his goods upon the wants of the poor clergyman. He had done so,
feeling that he should be paid from the hospital funds, and
flattering himself that a man with fourteen children, and money
wherewithal to clothe them, could not but be an excellent customer.
As soon as the second rumour reached him, he applied for his money
'And the 'fourteen'--or such of them as were old enough to hope and
discuss their hopes, talked over their golden future. The
tall-grown girls whispered to each other of possible Barchester
parties, of possible allowances for dresses, of a possible
piano--the one they had in the vicarage was so weather-beaten with
storms of years and children as to be no longer worthy of the
name--of the pretty garden, and the pretty house. 'Twas of such
things it most behoved them to whisper.
And the younger fry, they did not content themselves with whispers,
but shouted to each other of their new playground beneath our dear
ex-warden's well-loved elms, of their future own gardens, of
marbles to be procured in the wished-for city, and of the rumour
which had reached them of a Barchester school.
'Twas in vain that their cautious mother tried to instil into their
breasts the very feeling she had striven to banish from that of
their father; 'twas in vain that she repeated to the girls that
'there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip'; 'twas in vain she
attempted to make the children believe that they were to live at
Puddingdale all their lives. Hopes mounted high and would not have
themselves quelled. The neighbouring farmers heard this news, and
came in to congratulate them. 'Twas Mrs Quiverful herself who had
kindled the fire, and in the first outbreak of her renewed
expectations she did it so thoroughly, that it was quite past her
power to put it out again.
Poor matron! Good honest matron! Doing thy duty in the state to
which thou hast been called, heartily if not contentedly; let the
fire burn on--on this occasion the flames will not scorch; they
shall warm thee and thine. 'Tis ordained that the husband of thine,
that Q of thy bosom, shall reign supreme for some years to come
over the bedesmen of Hiram's hospital.
And the last in all Barchester to mar their hopes, had he heard and
seen all that had passed at Puddingdale that day, would have been
Mr Harding. What wants had he to set in opposition to those of such
a regiment of young ravens? There are fourteen of them living! With
him at any rate, let us say, that the argument would have been
sufficient for the appointment of Mr Quiverful.
In the morning, Q and his wife kept their appointments with that
punctuality which bespeaks an expectant mind. The friendly farmer's
gig was borrowed, and in that they went, discussing many things by
the way. They had instructed the household to expect them back by
one, and injunctions were given to the eldest pledge to have ready
by that accustomed hour the remainder of the huge stew which the
provident mother had prepared on the previous day. The hands of the
kitchen clock came round to two, three, four, before the farmer's
gig-wheels were agin heard at the vicarage gate. With what
palpitating hearts were the returning wanderers greeted!
'I suppose, children, 'you all thought we were never coming back
any more?' said the mother, as she slowly let down her solid foot
till it rested on the step of the gig. 'Well, such a day as we've
had!' and then leaning heavily on a big boy's shoulder, she stepped
once more on terra firma.
There was no need for more than the tone of her voice to tell them
that all was right. The Irish stew might burn itself to cinders
Then there was such kissing and hugging, such crying and laughing.
Mr Quiverful could not sit still at all, but kept walking from room
to room, then out into the garden, then down the avenue into the
road, and then back again to his wife. She, however, lost no time
'We must go to work at once, girls; and that in earnest. Mrs
Proudie expects us to be in the hospital house on the 15th of
Had Mrs Proudie expressed a wish that they should all be there on
the next morning, the girls would have had nothing to say against
'And when will the pay begin?' asked the eldest boy.
'To-day, my dear,' said the gratified mother.
'Oh,--that is jolly,' said the boy.
'Mrs Proudie insisted on our going down to the house,' continued
the mother; 'and when there I thought I might save a journey by
measuring some of the rooms and windows; so I got a knot of tape
from Bobbins. Bobbins is as civil as you please, now.'
'I wouldn't thank him,' said Letty the younger.
'Oh, that's the way of the world, my dear. They all do just the
same. You might just as well be angry with the turkey cock for
gobbling at you. It's the bird's nature.' And as she enunciated to
her bairns the upshot of her practical experience, she pulled from
her pocket the portions of tape which showed the length and breadth
of the various rooms at the hospital house.
And so we will leave her happy in her toils.
The Quiverfuls had hardly left the palace, and Mrs Proudie was
still holding forth on the matter to her husband, when another
visitor was announced in, the person of Dr Gwynne. The master of
Lazarus had asked for the bishop, and not for Mrs Proudie, and
therefore, when he was shown into the study, he was surprised
rather than rejoiced to find the lady there.
But we must go back a little, and it shall be but a little, for a
difficulty begins to make itself manifest in the necessity of
disposing of all our friends in the small remainder of this one
volume. Oh, that Mr Longman would allow me a fourth! It should
transcend the other three as the seventh heaven transcends all the
lower stages of celestial bliss.
Going home in the carriage that evening from Ullathorne, Dr Gwynne
had not without difficulty brought round his friend the archdeacon
to a line of tactics much less bellicose than that which his own
taste would have preferred. 'It will be unseemly in us to show
ourselves in a bad humour; and moreover we have no power in this
matter, and it will therefore be bad policy to act as though we
had.' 'Twas thus the master of Lazarus argued. 'If,' he continued,
'the bishop is determined to appoint another to the hospital,
threats will not prevent him, and threats should not be lightly
used by an archdeacon to his bishop. If he will place a stranger in
the hospital, we can only leave him to the indignation of others.
It is probable that such a step may not eventually injure your
father-in-law. I will see the bishop, if you will allow
me,--alone.' At this the archdeacon winced visibly; 'yes, alone;
for so I shall be calmer: and then I shall at any rate learn what
he does mean to do in the matter.
The archdeacon puffed and blew, put up the carriage window and then
put it down again, argued the matter up to his own gate, and at
last gave way. Everybody was against him; his own wife, Mr Harding,
and Dr Gwynne.
'Pray keep him out of hot water, Dr Gwynne,' Mrs Grantly had said
to her guest. 'My dearest madam, I'll do my best,' the courteous
master had replied. 'Twas thus he did it; and earned for himself
the gratitude of Mrs Grantly.
And now we may return to the bishop's study.
Dr Gwynne had certainly not foreseen the difficulty which here
presented itself. He,--together with all the clerical world of
England,--had heard it rumoured about that Mrs Proudie did not
confine herself to her wardrobes, still-rooms, and laundries; but
yet it had never occurred to him that if he called on a bishop at
one o'clock in the day, he could by any possibility find himself
closeted with his wife; or that if he did so, the wife would remain
longer than necessary to make her curtsey. It appeared, however,
as though in the present case Mrs Proudie had no idea of retreating.
The bishop had been very much pleased with Dr Gwynne on the
preceding day, and of course thought that Dr Gwynne had been very
much pleased with him. He attributed the visit solely to
compliment, and thought it was an extremely gracious and proper
thing for the master of Lazarus to drive over from Plumstead
specially to call at the palace so soon after his arrival in the
country. The fact that they were not on the same side either in
politics or doctrines made the compliment the greater. The bishop,
therefore, was all smiles. And Mrs Proudie, who liked people with
good handles to their names, was also very well disposed to welcome
the master of Lazarus.
'We had a charming party at Ullathorne, Master, had we not?' said
she. 'I hope Mrs Grantly got home without fatigue.'
Dr Gwynne said that they had all been a little tired, but were none
the worse this morning.
'An excellent person, Miss Thorne,' suggested the bishop.
'An exemplary Christian, I am told,' said Mrs Proudie.
Dr Gwynne declared that he was very glad to hear it.
'I have not seen her Sabbath-day schools yet,' continued the lady,
'but I shall make a point of doing so before long.'
Dr Gwynne merely bowed at this intimation. He had something of Mrs
Proudie and her Sunday schools, both from Dr Grantly and Mr
'By the bye, Master,' continued the lady, 'I wonder whether Mrs
Grantly would like me to drive over and inspect her Sabbath-day
school. I hear that it is most excellently kept.'
Dr Gwynne really could not say. He had no doubt Mrs Grantly would
be most happy to see Mrs Proudie any day Mrs Proudie would do her
the honour of calling: that was, of course, if Mrs Grantly should
happen to be at home.
A slight cloud darkened the lady's brow. She saw that her offer was
not taken in good part. This generation of unregenerated vipers was
still perverse, stiffnecked, and hardened in their antiquity. 'The
archdeacon, I know,' said she, 'sets his face against these
At this Dr Gwynne laughed slightly. It was but a smile. Had he
given his cap for it he could not have helped it.
Mrs Proudie frowned again. '"Suffer little children, and forbid
them not,"' said she. 'Are we not to remember that, Dr Gwynne?
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones." Are we
not to remember that, Dr Gwynne?' And at each of these questions
she raised at him a menacing forefinger.
'Certainly, madam, certainly,' said the master, 'and so does the
archdeacon, I am sure, on week days as well as on Sundays.'
'On week days you can't take heed not to despise them,' said Mrs
Proudie, 'because they are out in the fields. On week days they
belong to their parents, but on Sundays they ought to belong to the
clergyman.' And the finger was again raised.
The master began to understand and to share the intense disgust
which the archdeacon always expressed when Mrs Proudie's name was
mentioned. What was he to do with such a woman as this? To take his
hat and go would have been his natural resource; but then he did
not wish to be foiled in his subject.
'My lord,' said he, 'I wanted to ask you a question on business, if
you would spare me one moment's leisure. I know I must apologise
for so disturbing you; but in truth, I will not detain you five
'Certainly, Master, certainly,' said the bishop; 'my time is quite
yours--pray make no apology, pray make no apology.'
'You have a great deal to do just at the present moment, bishop. Do
not forget how extremely busy you are at present,' said Mrs
Proudie, whose spirit was now up; for she was angry with her
'I will not delay his lordship much above a minute,' said the
master of Lazarus, rising from his chair, and expecting that Mrs
Proudie would now go, or else that the bishop would lead the way
into another room.
But neither event seemed likely to occur, and Dr Gwynne stood for a
moment silent in the middle of the room.
'Perhaps it's about Hiram's Hospital,' suggested Mrs Proudie.
Dr Gwynne, lost in astonishment, and not knowing what else on earth
to do, confessed that his business with the bishop was connected
with Hiram's Hospital.
'His lordship has finally conferred the appointment on Mr Quiverful
this morning,' said the lady.
Dr Gwynne made a simple reference to the bishop, and finding that
the lady's statement was formally confirmed, he took his leave.
'That comes of the reform bill,' he said to himself as he walked
down the bishop's avenue. 'Well, at any rate the Greek play bishops
were not so bad as that.'
It has been said that Mr Slope, as he started for Ullathorne,
received a despatch from his friend Mr Towers, which had the effect
of putting him in that high good-humour which subsequent events
somewhat untowardly damped. It ran as follows. Its shortness will
be its sufficient apology:
My dear Sir,--I wish you every success. I don't know that I can
help you, but if I can I will. 'Yours ever' T.T. '30/9/185-'
There was more in this than in all Sir Nicholas Fitzwiggin's
flummery; more than in all the bishop's promises, even had they
been ever so sincere; more than in any archbishop's good work, even
had it been possible to obtain it. Tom Towers would do for him what
Mr Slope had from his youth upwards been a firm believer in the
public press. He had dabbled in it himself ever since he had taken
his degree, and regarded it as the great arranger and distributor
of all future British terrestrial affairs whatever. He had not yet
arrived at the age, an age which sooner or later comes to most of
us, which dissipates the golden dreams of youth. He delighted in
the idea of wresting power from the hands of his country's
magnates, and placing it in a custody which was at any rate nearer
to his own reach. Sixty thousand broad sheets dispersing themselves
daily among his reading fellow-citizens, formed in his eyes a
better depot for supremacy than a throne at Windsor, a cabinet in
Downing Street, or even an assembly at Westminster. And on this
subject we must not quarrel with Mr Slope, for the feeling is too
general to be met with disrespect.
Tom Towers was as good, if not better than his promise. On the
following morning the Jupiter, spouting forth public opinion with
sixty thousand loud clarions, did proclaim to the world that Mr
Slope was the fittest man for the vacant post. It was pleasant for
Mr Slope to read the following line in the Barchester news-room,
which he did within thirty minutes after the morning train from
London had reached the city.
"It is just now five years since we called the attention of our
readers to the quiet city of Barchester. From that day to this, we
have in no way meddled with the affairs of that happy
ecclesiastical community. Since then, an old bishop has died there,
and a young bishop has been installed; but we believe we did not do
more than give some customary record of the interesting event. Nor
are we about to meddle very deeply in the affairs of the diocese.
If any of the chapter feel a qualm of conscience on reading this,
let it be quieted. Above all, let the mind of the new bishop be at
rest. We are now not armed for war, but approach the revered towers
of the old cathedral with an olive-branch in our hands.
'It will be remembered that at the time alluded to, now five years
past, we had occasion to remark on the state of a charity at
Barchester called Hiram's Hospital. We thought that it was
maladministered, and that the very estimable and reverend gentleman
who held the office of warden was somewhat too highly paid for
duties which were somewhat too easily performed. This
gentleman--and we say it in all sincerity and with no touch of
sarcasm--had never looked on the matter in this light before. We do
not wish to take praise to ourselves whether praise is due or not.
But the consequence of our remark was, that the warden did look
into the matter, and finding on doing so that he himself could come
to no other opinion than that expressed by us, he very creditably
threw up the appointment. The then bishop then as creditably
declined to fill the vacancy till the affair was put on a better
footing. Parliament then took it up; and we have now the
satisfaction of informing our readers that Hiram's Hospital will be
immediately re-opened under new auspices. Heretofore, provision was
made for the maintenance of twelve old men. This will now be
extended to the fair sex, and twelve elderly women if any such can
be found in Barchester, will be added to the establishment. There
will be a matron; there will, it is hoped, be schools attached for
the poorest of the children of the poor, and there will be a
steward. The warden, for there will still be a warden, will receive
an income more in keeping with the extent of the charity than that
heretofore paid. The stipend we believe will be L 450. We may add
that the excellent house which the former warden inhabited will
still be attached to the situation.
'Barchester hospital cannot perhaps boast a world-wide reputation;
but as we advertised to its state of decadence, we think it right
also to advert to its renaissance. May it go up and prosper.
Whether the salutary reform which has been introduced within its
walls has been carried as far as could have been desired, may be
doubtful. The important question of the school appears to be
somewhat left to the discretion of the new warden. This might have
been made the most important part of the establishment, and the new
warden, whom we trust we shall not offend by the freedom of our
remarks, might have been selected with some view to his fitness as
schoolmaster. But we will not now look a gift horse in the mouth.
May the hospital go on and prosper! The situation of warden has of
course been offered to the gentleman who so honourable vacated it
five years since; but we are given to understand that he has
declined it. Whether the ladies who have been introduced, be in his
estimation too much for his powers of control, whether it be that
the diminished income does not offer to him sufficient temptation
to resume the old place, or that he has in the meantime assumed
other clerical duties, we do not know. We are, however, informed
that he has refused the offer, and that the situation has been
accepted by Mr Quiverful, the vicar of Puddingdale.
'So much we think is due to Hiram redivivus. But while we are on
the subject of Barchester, we will venture with all respectful
humility to express our opinion on another matter, connected with
the ecclesiastical polity of that ancient city. Dr Trefoil, the
dean, died yesterday. A short record of his death, giving his age,
and the various pieces of preferment which he has at different
times held, will be found in another column in this paper. The only
fault we knew in him was his age, and as that is a crime of which
we may all hope to be guilty, we will not bear heavily on it. May
he rest in peace! But though the great age of an expiring dean
cannot be made matter of reproach, we are not inclined to look on
such a fault as at all pardonable in a dean just brought to the
birth. We do hope the days of sexagenarian appointments are past.
If we want deans, we must want them for some purpose. That purpose
will necessarily be better fulfilled by a man of forty than by a
man of sixty. If we are to pay deans at all, we are to pay them for
some sort of work. That work, be it what it may, will be best
performed by a workman in the prime of life. Dr Trefoil, we see,
was eighty when he died. As we have as yet completed no plan for
positioning superannuated clergymen, we do not wish to get rid of
any existing deans of that age. But we prefer having as few such as
possible. If a man of seventy be now appointed, we beg to point out
to Lord--that he will be past all use in a year or two, if indeed
he is not so at the present moment. His lordship will allow us to
remind him that all men are not evergreens like himself.
'We hear that Mr Slope's name has been mentioned for this
preferment. Mr Slope is at present chaplain to the bishop. A better
man could hardly be selected. He is a man of talent, young, active,
and conversant with the affairs of the cathedral; he is moreover,
we conscientiously believe, a truly pious clergyman. We know that
his services in the city of Barchester have been highly
appreciated. He is an eloquent preacher and a ripe scholar. Such a
selection as this would go far to raise the confidence of the
public in the present administration of church patronage, and would
teach men to believe that from henceforth the establishment of our
church will not afford easy couches to worn-out clerical
Standing at a reading-desk in the Barchester news-room, Mr Slope
digested this article with considerable satisfaction. What was
therein said as the hospital was now comparatively matter of
indifference to him. He was certainly glad that he had not
succeeded in restoring to the place the father of that virago who
had so audaciously outraged all decency in his person; and was so
far satisfied. But Mrs Proudie's nominee was appointed, and he was
so far dissatisfied. His mind, however, was now soaring above Mrs
Bold or Mrs Proudie.
He was sufficiently conversant with the tactics of the Jupiter to
know that the pith of the article would lie in the last paragraph.
The place of honour was given to him, and it was indeed as
honourable as even he could have wished. He was very grateful to
his friend Mr Towers, and with full heart looked forward to the day
when he might entertain him in princely style at his own
full-spread board in the deanery dining-room.
It had been well for Mr Slope that Dr Trefoil had died in the
autumn. Those caterers for our morning repast, the staff of the
Jupiter, had been sorely put to it for the last month to find a
sufficiency of proper pabulum. Just then there was no talk of a new
American president. No wonderful tragedies had occurred on railway
trains in Georgia, or elsewhere. There was a dearth of broken
banks, and a dead dean with the necessity for a live one was a
godsend. Had Dr Trefoil died in June, Mr Towers would probably not
have known so much about the piety of Mr Slope.
And here we will leave Mr Slope for a while in his triumph;
explaining, however, that his feelings were not altogether of a
triumphant nature. His rejection by the widow, or rather the method
of his rejection, galled him terribly. For days to come he
positively felt the sting upon his cheek, whenever he thought of
what had been done to him. He could not refrain from calling her by
harsh names, speaking to himself as he walked through the streets
of Barchester. When he said his prayers, he could not bring himself
to forgive her. When he strove to do so, his mind recoiled from the
attempt, and in lieu of forgiving, ran off in a double spirit of
vindictiveness, dwelling on the extent of the injury he had
received. And so his prayers dropped senseless from his lips.
And then the signora; what would he not have given to be able to
hate her also? As it was, he worshipped the very sofa on which she
was ever lying. And thus it was not all rose colour with Mr Slope,
although his hopes ran high.
MRS BOLD AT HOME
Poor Mrs Bold, when she got home from Ullathorne on the evening of
Miss Thorne's party, was very unhappy, and moreover very tired.
Nothing fatigues the body so much as weariness of spirit, and
Eleanor's spirit was indeed weary.
Dr Stanhope had civilly but not very cordially asked her in to tea,
and her manner of refusal convinced the worthy doctor that he need
not repeat the invitation. He had not exactly made himself a party
to the intrigue which was to convert the late Mr Bold's patrimony
into an income for his hopeful son, but he had been well aware what
was going on. And he was thus well aware also, when he perceived
that Bertie declined accompanying them home in the carriage, that