Part 1 out of 5
I. Hiram's Hospital
II. The Barchester Reformer
III. The Bishop of Barchester
IV. Hiram's Bedesmen
v. Dr Grantly Visits the Hospital
VI. The Warden's Tea Party
VII. The Jupiter
VIII. Plumstead Episcopi
IX. The Conference
XII. Mr Bold's Visit to Plumstead
XIII. The Warden's Decision
XIV. Mount Olympus
XV. Tom Towers, Dr Anticant, and Mr Sentiment
XVI. A Long Day in London
XVII. Sir Abraham Haphazard
XVIII. The Warden is very Obstinate
XIX. The Warden Resigns
The Rev. Septimus Harding was, a few years since, a beneficed
clergyman residing in the cathedral town of ---;
let us call it Barchester. Were we to name Wells or Salisbury,
Exeter, Hereford, or Gloucester, it might be presumed that
something personal was intended; and as this tale will refer
mainly to the cathedral dignitaries of the town in question, we
are anxious that no personality may be suspected. Let us presume
that Barchester is a quiet town in the West of England,
more remarkable for the beauty of its cathedral and the
antiquity of its monuments than for any commercial prosperity;
that the west end of Barchester is the cathedral close, and that
the aristocracy of Barchester are the bishop, dean, and canons,
with their respective wives and daughters.
Early in life Mr Harding found himself located at Barchester.
A fine voice and a taste for sacred music had decided the
position in which he was to exercise his calling, and for
many years he performed the easy but not highly paid duties
of a minor canon. At the age of forty a small living in the close
vicinity of the town increased both his work and his income,
and at the age of fifty he became precentor of the cathedral.
Mr Harding had married early in life, and was the father
of two daughters. The eldest, Susan, was born soon after his
marriage; the other, Eleanor, not till ten years later.
At the time at which we introduce him to our readers he was
living as precentor at Barchester with his youngest daughter,
then twenty-four years of age; having been many years a
widower, and having married his eldest daughter to a son of
the bishop a very short time before his installation to the office
Scandal at Barchester affirmed that had it not been for the
beauty of his daughter, Mr Harding would have remained a
minor canon, but here probably Scandal lied, as she so often
does; for even as a minor canon no one had been more popular
among his reverend brethren in the close than Mr Harding;
and Scandal, before she had reprobated Mr Harding for being
made precentor by his friend the bishop, had loudly blamed
the bishop for having so long omitted to do something for his
friend Mr Harding. Be this as it may, Susan Harding, some
twelve years since, had married the Rev. Dr Theophilus
Grantly, son of the bishop, archdeacon of Barchester, and
rector of Plumstead Episcopi, and her father became, a few
months later, precentor of Barchester Cathedral, that office
being, as is not usual, in the bishop's gift.
Now there are peculiar circumstances connected with the
precentorship which must be explained. In the year 1434
there died at Barchester one John Hiram, who had made
money in the town as a wool-stapler, and in his will he left
the house in which he died and certain meadows and closes
near the town, still called Hiram's Butts, and Hiram's Patch,
for the support of twelve superannuated wool-carders, all of
whom should have been born and bred and spent their days in
Barchester; he also appointed that an alms-house should be
built for their abode, with a fitting residence for a warden,
which warden was also to receive a certain sum annually out
of the rents of the said butts and patches. He, moreover,
willed, having had a soul alive to harmony, that the precentor
of the cathedral should have the option of being also warden
of the almshouses, if the bishop in each case approved.
From that day to this the charity had gone on and prospered
--at least, the charity had gone on, and the estates had prospered.
Wool-carding in Barchester there was no longer any;
so the bishop, dean, and warden, who took it in turn to put in
the old men, generally appointed some hangers-on of their
own; worn-out gardeners, decrepit grave-diggers, or octogenarian
sextons, who thankfully received a comfortable lodging
and one shilling and fourpence a day, such being the
stipend to which, under the will of John Hiram, they were
declared to be entitled. Formerly, indeed--that is, till within
some fifty years of the present time--they received but sixpence
a day, and their breakfast and dinner was found them
at a common table by the warden, such an arrangement being
in stricter conformity with the absolute wording of old Hiram's
will: but this was thought to be inconvenient, and to suit the
tastes of neither warden nor bedesmen, and the daily one
shilling and fourpence was substituted with the common
consent of all parties, including the bishop and the corporation
Such was the condition of Hiram's twelve old men when
Mr Harding was appointed warden; but if they may be
considered as well-to-do in the world according to their condition,
the happy warden was much more so. The patches and
butts which, in John Hiram's time, produced hay or fed cows,
were now covered with rows of houses; the value of the property
had gradually increased from year to year and century to
century, and was now presumed by those who knew anything
about it, to bring in a very nice income; and by some
who knew nothing about it, to have increased to an almost
The property was farmed by a gentleman in Barchester,
who also acted as the bishop's steward--a man whose father
and grandfather had been stewards to the bishops of Barchester,
and farmers of John Hiram's estate. The Chadwicks
had earned a good name in Barchester; they had lived
respected by bishops, deans, canons, and precentors; they
had been buried in the precincts of the cathedral; they had
never been known as griping, hard men, but had always lived
comfortably, maintained a good house, and held a high position
in Barchester society. The present Mr Chadwick was a
worthy scion of a worthy stock, and the tenants living on the
butts and patches, as well as those on the wide episcopal
domains of the see, were well pleased to have to do with so
worthy and liberal a steward.
For many, many years--records hardly tell how many,
probably from the time when Hiram's wishes had been first
fully carried out--the proceeds of the estate had been paid
by the steward or farmer to the warden, and by him divided
among the bedesmen; after which division he paid himself
such sums as became his due. Times had been when the poor
warden got nothing but his bare house, for the patches had
been subject to floods, and the land of Barchester butts was
said to be unproductive; and in these hard times the warden
was hardly able to make out the daily dole for his twelve
dependents. But by degrees things mended; the patches
were drained, and cottages began to rise upon the butts, and
the wardens, with fairness enough, repaid themselves for the
evil days gone by. In bad times the poor men had had their
due, and therefore in good times they could expect no more.
In this manner the income of the warden had increased; the
picturesque house attached to the hospital had been enlarged
and adorned, and the office had become one of the most
coveted of the snug clerical sinecures attached to our church.
It was now wholly in the bishop's gift, and though the dean
and chapter, in former days, made a stand on the subject,
they had thought it more conducive to their honour to have
a rich precentor appointed by the bishop, than a poor one
appointed by themselves. The stipend of the precentor of
Barchester was eighty pounds a year. The income arising
from the wardenship of the hospital was eight hundred,
besides the value of the house.
Murmurs, very slight murmurs, had been heard in
Barchester--few indeed, and far between--that the proceeds of
John Hiram's property had not been fairly divided: but they
can hardly be said to have been of such a nature as to have
caused uneasiness to anyone: still the thing had been whispered,
and Mr Harding had heard it. Such was his character in
Barchester, so universal was his popularity, that the very
fact of his appointment would have quieted louder whispers
than those which had been heard; but Mr Harding was an
open-handed, just-minded man, and feeling that there might
be truth in what had been said, he had, on his instalment,
declared his intention of adding twopence a day to each man's
pittance, making a sum of sixty-two pounds eleven shillings
and fourpence, which he was to pay out of his own pocket.
In doing so, however, he distinctly and repeatedly observed
to the men, that though he promised for himself, he could
not promise for his successors, and that the extra twopence
could only be looked on as a gift from himself, and not from
the trust. The bedesmen, however, were most of them older
than Mr Harding, and were quite satisfied with the security
on which their extra income was based.
This munificence on the part of Mr Harding had not been
unopposed. Mr Chadwick had mildly but seriously dissuaded
him from it; and his strong-minded son-in-law, the
archdeacon, the man of whom alone Mr Harding stood in awe,
had urgently, nay, vehemently, opposed so impolitic a concession:
but the warden had made known his intention to the
hospital before the archdeacon had been able to interfere, and
the deed was done.
Hiram's Hospital, as the retreat is called, is a picturesque
building enough, and shows the correct taste with which the
ecclesiastical architects of those days were imbued. It stands
on the banks of the little river, which flows nearly round the
cathedral close, being on the side furthest from the town. The
London road crosses the river by a pretty one-arched bridge,
and, looking from this bridge, the stranger will see the windows
of the old men's rooms, each pair of windows separated by a
small buttress. A broad gravel walk runs between the building
and the river, which is always trim and cared for; and at
the end of the walk, under the parapet of the approach to the
bridge, is a large and well-worn seat, on which, in mild
weather, three or four of Hiram's bedesmen are sure to be seen
seated. Beyond this row of buttresses, and further from the
bridge, and also further from the water which here suddenly
bends, are the pretty oriel windows of Mr Harding's house,
and his well-mown lawn. The entrance to the hospital is
from the London road, and is made through a ponderous
gateway under a heavy stone arch, unnecessary, one would
suppose, at any time, for the protection of twelve old men,
but greatly conducive to the good appearance of Hiram's
charity. On passing through this portal, never closed to anyone
from 6 A.M. till 10 P.M., and never open afterwards,
except on application to a huge, intricately hung mediaeval
bell, the handle of which no uninitiated intruder can possibly
find, the six doors of the old men's abodes are seen, and beyond
them is a slight iron screen, through which the more happy
portion of the Barchester elite pass into the Elysium of Mr
Mr Harding is a small man, now verging on sixty years, but
bearing few of the signs of age; his hair is rather grizzled,
though not gray; his eye is very mild, but clear and bright,
though the double glasses which are held swinging from his
hand, unless when fixed upon his nose, show that time has told
upon his sight; his hands are delicately white, and both
hands and feet are small; he always wears a black frock coat,
black knee-breeches, and black gaiters, and somewhat scandalises
some of his more hyperclerical brethren by a black
Mr Harding's warmest admirers cannot say that he was
ever an industrious man; the circumstances of his life have
not called on him to be so; and yet he can hardly be called
an idler. Since his appointment to his precentorship, he has
published, with all possible additions of vellum, typography,
and gilding, a collection of our ancient church music, with
some correct dissertations on Purcell, Crotch, and Nares. He
has greatly improved the choir of Barchester, which, under
his dominion, now rivals that of any cathedral in England.
He has taken something more than his fair share in the
cathedral services, and has played the violoncello daily to
such audiences as he could collect, or, faute de mieux, to no
audience at all.
We must mention one other peculiarity of Mr Harding. As
we have before stated, he has an income of eight hundred a
year, and has no family but his one daughter; and yet he is
never quite at ease in money matters. The vellum and gilding
of 'Harding's Church Music' cost more than any one knows,
except the author, the publisher, and the Rev. Theophilus
Grantly, who allows none of his father-in-law's extravagances
to escape him. Then he is generous to his daughter, for whose
service he keeps a small carriage and pair of ponies. He is,
indeed, generous to all, but especially to the twelve old men
who are in a peculiar manner under his care. No doubt with
such an income Mr Harding should be above the world, as
the saying is; but, at any rate, he is not above Archdeacon
Theophilus Grantly, for he is always more or less in debt to
his son-in-law, who has, to a certain extent, assumed the
arrangement of the precentor's pecuniary affairs.
The Barchester Reformer
Mr Harding has been now precentor of Barchester for
ten years; and, alas, the murmurs respecting the proceeds
of Hiram's estate are again becoming audible. It is not
that any one begrudges to Mr Harding the income which he
enjoys, and the comfortable place which so well becomes him;
but such matters have begun to be talked of in various parts
of England. Eager pushing politicians have asserted in the
House of Commons, with very telling indignation, that the
grasping priests of the Church of England are gorged with the
wealth which the charity of former times has left for the solace
of the aged, or the education of the young. The well-known
case of the Hospital of St Cross has even come before the law
courts of the country, and the struggles of Mr Whiston, at
Rochester, have met with sympathy and support. Men are
beginning to say that these things must be looked into.
Mr Harding, whose conscience in the matter is clear, and
who has never felt that he had received a pound from Hiram's
will to which he was not entitled, has naturally taken the part
of the church in talking over these matters with his friend, the
bishop, and his son-in-law, the archdeacon. The archdeacon,
indeed, Dr Grantly, has been somewhat loud in the matter.
He is a personal friend of the dignitaries of the Rochester
Chapter, and has written letters in the public press on the
subject of that turbulent Dr Whiston, which, his admirers
think, must wellnigh set the question at rest. It is also known
at Oxford that he is the author of the pamphlet signed
'Sacerdos' on the subject of the Earl of Guildford and St
Cross, in which it is so clearly argued that the manners of the
present times do not admit of a literal adhesion to the very
words of the founder's will, but that the interests of the church
for which the founder was so deeply concerned are best consulted
in enabling its bishops to reward those shining lights whose
services have been most signally serviceable to Christianity.
In answer to this, it is asserted that Henry de Blois,
founder of St Cross, was not greatly interested in the welfare
of the reformed church, and that the masters of St Cross, for
many years past, cannot be called shining lights in the service
of Christianity; it is, however, stoutly maintained, and no
doubt felt, by all the archdeacon's friends, that his logic is
conclusive, and has not, in fact, been answered.
With such a tower of strength to back both his arguments
and his conscience, it may be imagined that Mr Harding has
never felt any compunction as to receiving his quarterly sum
of two hundred pounds. Indeed, the subject has never presented
itself to his mind in that shape. He has talked not unfrequently,
and heard very much about the wills of old founders and
the incomes arising from their estates, during the last year
or two; he did even, at one moment, feel a doubt (since expelled
by his son-in-law's logic) as to whether Lord Guildford
was clearly entitled to receive so enormous an income as he
does from the revenues of St Cross; but that he himself was
overpaid with his modest eight hundred pounds--he who, out
of that, voluntarily gave up sixty-two pounds eleven shillings
and fourpence a year to his twelve old neighbours--he who,
for the money, does his precentor's work as no precentor
has done it before, since Barchester Cathedral was built,--such
an idea has never sullied his quiet, or disturbed his conscience.
Nevertheless, Mr Harding is becoming uneasy at the rumour
which he knows to prevail in Barchester on the subject. He is
aware that, at any rate, two of his old men have been heard to
say, that if everyone had his own, they might each have their
hundred pounds a year, and live like gentlemen, instead of a
beggarly one shilling and sixpence a day; and that they had
slender cause to be thankful for a miserable dole of twopence,
when Mr Harding and Mr Chadwick, between them, ran
away with thousands of pounds which good old John Hiram
never intended for the like of them. It is the ingratitude of
this which stings Mr Harding. One of this discontented pair,
Abel Handy, was put into the hospital by himself; he had
been a stone-mason in Barchester, and had broken his thigh
by a fall from a scaffolding, while employed about the cathedral;
and Mr Harding had given him the first vacancy in the
hospital after the occurrence, although Dr Grantly had been
very anxious to put into it an insufferable clerk of his at
Plumstead Episcopi, who had lost all his teeth, and whom the
archdeacon hardly knew how to get rid of by other means. Dr
Grantly has not forgotten to remind Mr Harding how well
satisfied with his one-and-sixpence a day old Joe Mutters would
have been, and how injudicious it was on the part of Mr
Harding to allow a radical from the town to get into the concern.
Probably Dr Grantly forgot at the moment, that the
charity was intended for broken-down journeymen of Barchester.
There is living at Barchester, a young man, a surgeon,
named John Bold, and both Mr Harding and Dr Grantly are
well aware that to him is owing the pestilent rebellious feeling
which has shown itself in the hospital; yes, and the renewal,
too, of that disagreeable talk about Hiram's estates which is
now again prevalent in Barchester. Nevertheless, Mr Harding
and Mr Bold are acquainted with each other; we may say,
are friends, considering the great disparity in their years. Dr
Grantly, however, has a holy horror of the impious demagogue,
as on one occasion he called Bold, when speaking of him
to the precentor; and being a more prudent far-seeing man
than Mr Harding, and possessed of a stronger head, he
already perceives that this John Bold will work great trouble in
Barchester. He considers that he is to be regarded as an enemy,
and thinks that he should not be admitted into the camp on
anything like friendly terms. As John Bold will occupy much
of our attention we must endeavour to explain who he is, and
why he takes the part of John Hiram's bedesmen.
John Bold is a young surgeon, who passed many of his boyish
years at Barchester. His father was a physician in the city of
London, where he made a moderate fortune, which he invested
in houses in that city. The Dragon of Wantly inn and posting-
house belonged to him, also four shops in the High Street,
and a moiety of the new row of genteel villas (so called in
the advertisements), built outside the town just beyond
Hiram's Hospital. To one of these Dr Bold retired to spend
the evening of his life, and to die; and here his son John spent
his holidays, and afterwards his Christmas vacation when he
went from school to study surgery in the London hospitals.
Just as John Bold was entitled to write himself surgeon and
apothecary, old Dr Bold died, leaving his Barchester property to
his son, and a certain sum in the three per cents. to his daughter
Mary, who is some four or five years older than her brother.
John Bold determined to settle himself at Barchester, and
look after his own property, as well as the bones and bodies of
such of his neighbours as would call upon him for assistance in
their troubles. He therefore put up a large brass plate with
'John Bold, Surgeon' on it, to the great disgust of the nine
practitioners who were already trying to get a living out of the
bishop, dean, and canons; and began house-keeping with the
aid of his sister. At this time he was not more than twenty-
four years old; and though he has now been three years in
Barchester, we have not heard that he has done much harm
to the nine worthy practitioners. Indeed, their dread of him
has died away; for in three years he has not taken three fees.
Nevertheless, John Bold is a clever man, and would, with
practice, be a clever surgeon; but he has got quite into another
line of life. Having enough to live on, he has not been forced
to work for bread; he has declined to subject himself to what
he calls the drudgery of the profession, by which, I believe, he
means the general work of a practising surgeon; and has
found other employment. He frequently binds up the bruises
and sets the limbs of such of the poorer classes as profess his
way of thinking--but this he does for love. Now I will not
say that the archdeacon is strictly correct in stigmatising John
Bold as a demagogue, for I hardly know how extreme must be
a man's opinions before he can be justly so called; but Bold is
a strong reformer. His passion is the reform of all abuses;
state abuses, church abuses, corporation abuses (he has got
himself elected a town councillor of Barchester, and has so
worried three consecutive mayors, that it became somewhat
difficult to find a fourth), abuses in medical practice, and
general abuses in the world at large. Bold is thoroughly sincere
in his patriotic endeavours to mend mankind, and there
is something to be admired in the energy with which he devotes
himself to remedying evil and stopping injustice; but I fear
that he is too much imbued with the idea that he has a special
mission for reforming. It would be well if one so young had
a little more diffidence himself, and more trust in the honest
purposes of others--if he could be brought to believe that old
customs need not necessarily be evil, and that changes may
possibly be dangerous; but no, Bold has all the ardour and all
the self-assurance of a Danton, and hurls his anathemas against
time-honoured practices with the violence of a French Jacobin.
No wonder that Dr Grantly should regard Bold as a firebrand,
falling, as he has done, almost in the centre of the quiet
ancient close of Barchester Cathedral. Dr Grantly would
have him avoided as the plague; but the old Doctor and Mr
Harding were fast friends. Young Johnny Bold used to play
as a boy on Mr Harding's lawn; he has many a time won the
precentor's heart by listening with rapt attention to his sacred
strains; and since those days, to tell the truth at once, he has
nearly won another heart within the same walls.
Eleanor Harding has not plighted her troth to John Bold,
nor has she, perhaps, owned to herself how dear to her the
young reformer is; but she cannot endure that anyone should
speak harshly of him. She does not dare to defend him when
her brother-in-law is so loud against him; for she, like her
father, is somewhat afraid of Dr Grantly; but she is beginning
greatly to dislike the archdeacon. She persuades her father
that it would be both unjust and injudicious to banish his
young friend because of his politics; she cares little to go to
houses where she will not meet him, and, in fact, she is in love.
Nor is there any good reason why Eleanor Harding should
not love John Bold. He has all those qualities which are likely
to touch a girl's heart. He is brave, eager, and amusing;
well-made and good-looking; young and enterprising; his
character is in all respects good; he has sufficient income to
support a wife; he is her father's friend; and, above all, he
is in love with her: then why should not Eleanor Harding be
attached to John Bold?
Dr Grantly, who has as many eyes as Argus, and has long
seen how the wind blows in that direction, thinks there are
various strong reasons why this should not be so. He has not
thought it wise as yet to speak to his father-in-law on the
subject, for he knows how foolishly indulgent is Mr Harding in
everything that concerns his daughter; but he has discussed the
matter with his all-trusted helpmate, within that sacred recess
formed by the clerical bed-curtains at Plumstead Episcopi.
How much sweet solace, how much valued counsel has our
archdeacon received within that sainted enclosure! 'Tis there
alone that he unbends, and comes down from his high church
pedestal to the level of a mortal man. In the world Dr Grantly
never lays aside that demeanour which so well becomes him.
He has all the dignity of an ancient saint with the sleekness of
a modern bishop; he is always the same; he is always the
archdeacon; unlike Homer, he never nods. Even with his
father-in-law, even with the bishop and dean, he maintains
that sonorous tone and lofty deportment which strikes awe
into the young hearts of Barchester, and absolutely cows the
whole parish of Plumstead Episcopi. 'Tis only when he has
exchanged that ever-new shovel hat for a tasselled nightcap,
and those shining black habiliments for his accustomed robe
de nuit, that Dr Grantly talks, and looks, and thinks like an
Many of us have often thought how severe a trial of faith
must this be to the wives of our great church dignitaries. To
us these men are personifications of St Paul; their very gait is
a speaking sermon; their clean and sombre apparel exacts
from us faith and submission, and the cardinal virtues seem to
hover round their sacred hats. A dean or archbishop, in the
garb of his order, is sure of our reverence, and a well-got-up
bishop fills our very souls with awe. But how can this feeling
be perpetuated in the bosoms of those who see the bishops
without their aprons, and the archdeacons even in a lower state
Do we not all know some reverend, all but sacred, personage
before whom our tongue ceases to be loud and our step to be
elastic? But were we once to see him stretch himself beneath
the bed-clothes, yawn widely, and bury his face upon his
pillow, we could chatter before him as glibly as before a doctor
or a lawyer. From some such cause, doubtless, it arose that
our archdeacon listened to the counsels of his wife, though he
considered himself entitled to give counsel to every other being
whom he met.
'My dear,' he said, as he adjusted the copious folds of his
nightcap, 'there was that John Bold at your father's again
today. I must say your father is very imprudent.'
'He is imprudent--he always was,' replied Mrs Grantly,
speaking from under the comfortable bed-clothes. 'There's
nothing new in that.'
'No, my dear, there's nothing new--I know that; but, at
the present juncture of affairs, such imprudence is--is--I'll
tell you what, my dear, if he does not take care what he's about,
John Bold will be off with Eleanor.'
'I think he will, whether papa takes care or no; and why not?'
'Why not!' almost screamed the archdeacon, giving so
rough a pull at his nightcap as almost to bring it over his nose;
'why not!-that pestilent, interfering upstart, John Bold--the
most vulgar young person I ever met! Do you know that he
is meddling with your father's affairs in a most uncalled-for--
most--' And being at a loss for an epithet sufficiently
injurious, he finished his expressions of horror by muttering,
'Good heavens!' in a manner that had been found very
efficacious in clerical meetings of the diocese. He must for
the moment have forgotten where he was.
'As to his vulgarity, archdeacon' (Mrs Grantly had never
assumed a more familiar term than this in addressing her
husband), 'I don't agree with you. Not that I like Mr Bold
--he is a great deal too conceited for me; but then Eleanor
does, and it would be the best thing in the world for papa if
they were to marry. Bold would never trouble himself about
Hiram's Hospital if he were papa's son-in-law.' And the lady
turned herself round under the bed-clothes, in a manner to
which the doctor was well accustomed, and which told him,
as plainly as words, that as far as she was concerned the subject
was over for that night.
'Good heavens!' murmured the doctor again--he was evidently
much put beside himself.
Dr Grantly is by no means a bad man; he is exactly the
man which such an education as his was most likely to form;
his intellect being sufficient for such a place in the world, but
not sufficient to put him in advance of it. He performs with a
rigid constancy such of the duties of a parish clergyman as are,
to his thinking, above the sphere of his curate, but it is as an
archdeacon that he shines.
We believe, as a general rule, that either a bishop or his
archdeacons have sinecures: where a bishop works, archdeacons
have but little to do, and vice versa. In the diocese of
Barchester the Archdeacon of Barchester does the work. In
that capacity he is diligent, authoritative, and, as his friends
particularly boast, judicious. His great fault is an overbearing
assurance of the virtues and claims of his order, and his great
foible is an equally strong confidence in the dignity of his own
manner and the eloquence of his own words. He is a moral
man, believing the precepts which he teaches, and believing
also that he acts up to them; though we cannot say that he
would give his coat to the man who took his cloak, or that he
is prepared to forgive his brother even seven times. He is
severe enough in exacting his dues, considering that any laxity
in this respect would endanger the security of the church; and,
could he have his way, he would consign to darkness and
perdition, not only every individual reformer, but every
committee and every commission that would even dare to ask a
question respecting the appropriation of church revenues.
'They are church revenues: the laity admit it. Surely the
church is able to administer her own revenues.' 'Twas thus
he was accustomed to argue, when the sacrilegious doings of
Lord John Russell and others were discussed either at Barchester
or at Oxford.
It was no wonder that Dr Grantly did not like John Bold,
and that his wife's suggestion that he should become closely
connected with such a man dismayed him. To give him his
due, the archdeacon never wanted courage; he was quite
willing to meet his enemy on any field and with any weapon.
He had that belief in his own arguments that he felt sure of
success, could he only be sure of a fair fight on the part of his
adversary. He had no idea that John Bold could really prove
that the income of the hospital was malappropriated; why,
then, should peace be sought for on such base terms? What!
bribe an unbelieving enemy of the church with the sister-in-law
of one dignitary and the daughter of another--with a
young lady whose connections with the diocese and chapter of
Barchester were so close as to give her an undeniable claim to
a husband endowed with some of its sacred wealth! When
Dr Grantly talks of unbelieving enemies, he does not mean to
imply want of belief in the doctrines of the church, but an
equally dangerous scepticism as to its purity in money matters.
Mrs Grantly is not usually deaf to the claims of the high
order to which she belongs. She and her husband rarely
disagree as to the tone with which the church should be defended;
how singular, then, that in such a case as this she should be
willing to succumb! The archdeacon again murmurs 'Good
heavens!' as he lays himself beside her, but he does so in a
voice audible only to himself, and he repeats it till sleep relieves
him from deep thought.
Mr Harding himself has seen no reason why his daughter
should not love John Bold. He has not been unobservant of
her feelings, and perhaps his deepest regret at the part which
he fears Bold is about to take regarding the hospital arises from
the dread that he may be separated from his daughter, or that
she may be separated from the man she loves. He has never
spoken to Eleanor about her lover; he is the last man in the
world to allude to such a subject unconsulted, even with his
own daughter; and had he considered that he had ground to
disapprove of Bold, he would have removed her, or forbidden
him his house; but he saw no such ground. He would probably
have preferred a second clerical son-in-law, for Mr Harding,
also, is attached to his order; and, failing in that, he
would at any rate have wished that so near a connection should
have thought alike with him on church matters. He would
not, however, reject the man his daughter loved because he
differed on such subjects with himself.
Hitherto Bold had taken no steps in the matter in any way
annoying to Mr Harding personally. Some months since,
after a severe battle, which cost him not a little money, he
gained a victory over a certain old turnpike woman in the
neighbourhood, of whose charges another old woman had
complained to him. He got the Act of Parliament relating to
the trust, found that his protegee had been wrongly taxed,
rode through the gate himself, paying the toll, then brought
an action against the gate-keeper, and proved that all people
coming up a certain by-lane, and going down a certain other
by-lane, were toll-free. The fame of his success spread widely
abroad, and he began to be looked on as the upholder of the
rights of the poor of Barchester. Not long after this success, he
heard from different quarters that Hiram's bedesmen were
treated as paupers, whereas the property to which they were,
in effect, heirs was very large; and he was instigated by the
lawyer whom he had employed in the case of the turnpike to call
upon Mr Chadwick for a statement as to the funds of the estate.
Bold had often expressed his indignation at the malappropriation
of church funds in general, in the hearing of his friend
the precentor; but the conversation had never referred to
anything at Barchester; and when Finney, the attorney, induced
him to interfere with the affairs of the hospital, it was
against Mr Chadwick that his efforts were to be directed.
Bold soon found that if he interfered with Mr Chadwick as
steward, he must also interfere with Mr Harding as warden;
and though he regretted the situation in which this would
place him, he was not the man to flinch from his undertaking
from personal motives.
As soon as he had determined to take the matter in hand, he
set about his work with his usual energy. He got a copy of
John Hiram's will, of the wording of which he made himself
perfectly master. He ascertained the extent of the property,
and as nearly as he could the value of it; and made out a
schedule of what he was informed was the present distribution
of its income. Armed with these particulars, he called on
Mr Chadwick, having given that gentleman notice of his visit;
and asked him for a statement of the income and expenditure
of the hospital for the last twenty-five years.
This was of course refused, Mr Chadwick alleging that he
had no authority for making public the concerns of a property
in managing which he was only a paid servant.
'And who is competent to give you that authority, Mr Chadwick?'
'Only those who employ me, Mr Bold,' said the steward.
'And who are those, Mr Chadwick?' demanded Bold.
Mr Chadwick begged to say that if these inquiries were
made merely out of curiosity, he must decline answering them:
if Mr Bold had any ulterior proceeding in view, perhaps it
would be desirable that any necessary information should be
sought for in a professional way by a professional man. Mr
Chadwick's attorneys were Messrs Cox and Cummins, of
Lincoln's Inn. Mr Bold took down the address of Cox and
Cummins, remarked that the weather was cold for the time of
the year, and wished Mr Chadwick good-morning. Mr Chadwick
said it was cold for June, and bowed him out.
He at once went to his lawyer, Finney. Now, Bold was not
very fond of his attorney, but, as he said, he merely wanted a
man who knew the forms of law, and who would do what he
was told for his money. He had no idea of putting himself in
the hands of a lawyer. He wanted law from a lawyer as he
did a coat from a tailor, because he could not make it so well
himself; and he thought Finney the fittest man in Barchester
for his purpose. In one respect, at any rate, he was right:
Finney was humility itself.
Finney advised an instant letter to Cox and Cummins,
mindful of his six-and-eightpence. 'Slap at them at once,
Mr Bold. Demand categorically and explicitly a full statement
of the affairs of the hospital.'
'Suppose I were to see Mr Harding first,' suggested Bold.
'Yes, yes, by all means,' said the acquiescing Finney;
'though, perhaps, as Mr Harding is no man of business, it may
lead--lead to some little difficulties; but perhaps you're right.
Mr Bold, I don't think seeing Mr Harding can do any harm.'
Finney saw from the expression of his client's face that he
intended to have his own way.
The Bishop of Barchester
Bold at once repaired to the hospital. The day was now
far advanced, but he knew that Mr Harding dined in the
summer at four, that Eleanor was accustomed to drive in the
evening, and that he might therefore probably find Mr Harding
alone. It was between seven and eight when he reached
the slight iron gate leading into the precentor's garden, and
though, as Mr Chadwick observed, the day had been cold for
June, the evening was mild, and soft, and sweet. The little
gate was open. As he raised the latch he heard the notes of
Mr Harding's violoncello from the far end of the garden, and,
advancing before the house and across the lawn, he found him
playing: and not without an audience. The musician was
seated in a garden-chair just within the summer-house, so as
to allow the violoncello which he held between his knees to
rest upon the dry stone flooring; before him stood a rough
music desk, on which was open a page of that dear sacred book,
that much-laboured and much-loved volume of church music,
which had cost so many guineas; and around sat, and lay,
and stood, and leaned, ten of the twelve old men who dwelt
with him beneath old John Hiram's roof. The two reformers
were not there. I will not say that in their hearts they were
conscious of any wrong done or to be done to their mild
warden, but latterly they had kept aloof from him, and his
music was no longer to their taste.
It was amusing to see the positions, and eager listening faces
of these well-to-do old men. I will not say that they all
appreciated the music which they heard, but they were intent
on appearing to do so; pleased at being where they were, they
were determined, as far as in them lay, to give pleasure in
return; and they were not unsuccessful. It gladdened the
precentor's heart to think that the old bedesmen whom he
loved so well admired the strains which were to him so full of
almost ecstatic joy; and he used to boast that such was the
air of the hospital, as to make it a precinct specially fit for the
worship of St Cecilia.
Immediately before him, on the extreme corner of the bench
which ran round the summer-house, sat one old man, with his
handkerchief smoothly lain upon his knees, who did enjoy the
moment, or acted enjoyment well. He was one on whose
large frame many years, for he was over eighty, had made
small havoc--he was still an upright, burly, handsome figure,
with an open, ponderous brow, round which clung a few,
though very few, thin gray locks. The coarse black gown of
the hospital, the breeches, and buckled shoes became him
well; and as he sat with his hands folded on his staff, and his
chin resting on his hands, he was such a listener as most
musicians would be glad to welcome.
This man was certainly the pride of the hospital. It had
always been the custom that one should be selected as being
to some extent in authority over the others; and though
Mr Bunce, for such was his name, and so he was always designated
by his inferior brethren, had no greater emoluments than
they, he had assumed, and well knew how to maintain, the
dignity of his elevation. The precentor delighted to call
him his sub-warden, and was not ashamed, occasionally, when
no other guest was there, to bid him sit down by the same
parlour fire, and drink the full glass of port which was placed
near him. Bunce never went without the second glass, but no
entreaty ever made him take a third.
'Well, well, Mr Harding; you're too good, much too good,'
he'd always say, as the second glass was filled; but when that
was drunk, and the half hour over, Bunce stood erect, and
with a benediction which his patron valued, retired to his own
abode. He knew the world too well to risk the comfort of such
halcyon moments, by prolonging them till they were disagreeable.
Mr Bunce, as may be imagined, was most strongly opposed
to innovation. Not even Dr Grantly had a more holy horror
of those who would interfere in the affairs of the hospital; he
was every inch a churchman, and though he was not very fond
of Dr Grantly personally, that arose from there not being room
in the hospital for two people so much alike as the doctor and
himself, rather than from any dissimilarity in feeling. Mr
Bunce was inclined to think that the warden and himself could
manage the hospital without further assistance; and that,
though the bishop was the constitutional visitor, and as such
entitled to special reverence from all connected with John
Hiram's will, John Hiram never intended that his affairs
should be interfered with by an archdeacon.
At the present moment, however, these cares were off his
mind, and he was looking at his warden, as though he thought
the music heavenly, and the musician hardly less so.
As Bold walked silently over the lawn, Mr Harding did not
at first perceive him, and continued to draw his bow slowly
across the plaintive wires; but he soon found from his audience
that some stranger was there, and looking up, began to
welcome his young friend with frank hospitality.
'Pray, Mr Harding--pray don't let me disturb you,' said
Bold; 'you know how fond I am of sacred music.'
'Oh! it's nothing,' said the precentor, shutting up the book
and then opening it again as he saw the delightfully imploring
look of his old friend Bunce. Oh, Bunce, Bunce, Bunce, I fear
that after all thou art but a flatterer. 'Well, I'll just finish it
then; it's a favourite little bit of Bishop's; and then, Mr Bold,
we'll have a stroll and a chat till Eleanor comes in and gives
us tea.' And so Bold sat down on the soft turf to listen, or
rather to think how, after such sweet harmony, he might best
introduce a theme of so much discord, to disturb the peace of
him who was so ready to welcome him kindly.
Bold thought that the performance was soon over, for he
felt that he had a somewhat difficult task, and he almost
regretted the final leave-taking of the last of the old men, slow
as they were in going through their adieux.
Bold's heart was in his mouth, as the precentor made some
ordinary but kind remark as to the friendliness of the visit.
'One evening call,' said he, 'is worth ten in the morning.
It's all formality in the morning; real social talk never begins
till after dinner. That's why I dine early so as to get as much
as I can of it.'
'Quite true, Mr Harding,' said the other; 'but I fear I've
reversed the order of things, and I owe you much apology for
troubling you on business at such an hour; but it is on business
that I have called just now.'
Mr Harding looked blank and annoyed; there was something
in the tone of the young man's voice which told him that
the interview was intended to be disagreeable, and he shrank
back at finding his kindly greeting so repulsed.
'I wish to speak to you about the hospital,' continued Bold.
'Well, well, anything I can tell you I shall be most happy--'
'It's about the accounts.'
'Then, my dear fellow, I can tell you nothing, for I'm as
ignorant as a child. All I know is, that they pay me #800 a year.
Go to Chadwick, he knows all about the accounts; and now tell
me, will poor Mary Jones ever get the use of her limb again?'
'Well, I think she will, if she's careful; but, Mr Harding,
I hope you won't object to discuss with me what I have to say
about the hospital.'
Mr Harding gave a deep, long-drawn sigh. He did object,
very strongly object, to discuss any such subject with John
Bold; but he had not the business tact of Mr Chadwick, and
did not know how to relieve himself from the coming evil; he
sighed sadly, but made no answer.
'I have the greatest regard for you, Mr Harding,' continued
Bold; 'the truest respect, the most sincere--'
'Thank ye, thank ye, Mr Bold,' interjaculated the precentor
somewhat impatiently; 'I'm much obliged, but never mind
that; I'm as likely to be in the wrong as another man--quite
'But, Mr Harding, I must express what I feel, lest you
should think there is personal enmity in what I'm going to do.'
'Personal enmity! Going to do! Why, you're not going
to cut my throat, nor put me into the Ecclesiastical Court!'
Bold tried to laugh, but he couldn't. He was quite in
earnest, and determined in his course, and couldn't make a
joke of it. He walked on awhile in silence before he recommenced
his attack, during which Mr Harding, who had still the bow
in his hand, played rapidly on an imaginary violoncello. 'I
fear there is reason to think that John Hiram's will is not
carried out to the letter, Mr Harding,' said the young man at
last; 'and I have been asked to see into it.'
'Very well, I've no objection on earth; and now we need
not say another word about it.'
'Only one word more, Mr Harding. Chadwick has referred
me to Cox and Cummins, and I think it my duty to apply to
them for some statement about the hospital. In what I do I
may appear to be interfering with you, and I hope you will
forgive me for doing so.'
'Mr Bold,' said the other, stopping, and speaking with some
solemnity, 'if you act justly, say nothing in this matter but the
truth, and use no unfair weapons in carrying out your purposes,
I shall have nothing to forgive. I presume you think
I am not entitled to the income I receive from the hospital,
and that others are entitled to it. Whatever some may do, I
shall never attribute to you base motives because you hold an
opinion opposed to my own and adverse to my interests: pray
do what you consider to be your duty; I can give you no
assistance, neither will I offer you any obstacle. Let me,
however, suggest to you, that you can in no wise forward your
views nor I mine, by any discussion between us. Here comes
Eleanor and the ponies, and we'll go in to tea.'
Bold, however, felt that he could not sit down at ease with
Mr Harding and his daughter after what had passed, and
therefore excused himself with much awkward apology; and
merely raising his hat and bowing as he passed Eleanor and the
pony chair, left her in disappointed amazement at his departure.
Mr Harding's demeanour certainly impressed Bold with a
full conviction that the warden felt that he stood on strong
grounds, and almost made him think that he was about to
interfere without due warrant in the private affairs of a just
and honourable man; but Mr Harding himself was anything
but satisfied with his own view of the case.
In the first place, he wished for Eleanor's sake to think well
of Bold and to like him, and yet he could not but feel disgusted
at the arrogance of his conduct. What right had he to say
that John Hiram's will was not fairly carried out? But then
the question would arise within his heart,--Was that will fairly
acted on? Did John Hiram mean that the warden of his
hospital should receive considerably more out of the legacy
than all the twelve old men together for whose behoof the
hospital was built? Could it be possible that John Bold was
right, and that the reverend warden of the hospital had been
for the last ten years and more the unjust recipient of an income
legally and equitably belonging to others? What if it should
be proved before the light of day that he, whose life had been
so happy, so quiet, so respected, had absorbed #800 to which
he had no title, and which he could never repay? I do not
say that he feared that such was really the case; but the first
shade of doubt now fell across his mind, and from this evening,
for many a long, long day, our good, kind loving warden was
neither happy nor at ease.
Thoughts of this kind, these first moments of much misery,
oppressed Mr Harding as he sat sipping his tea, absent and
ill at ease. Poor Eleanor felt that all was not right, but her
ideas as to the cause of the evening's discomfort did not go
beyond her lover, and his sudden and uncivil departure. She
thought there must have been some quarrel between Bold and
her father, and she was half angry with both, though she did
not attempt to explain to herself why she was so.
Mr Harding thought long and deeply over these things, both
before he went to bed and after it, as he lay awake, questioning
within himself the validity of his claim to the income which he
enjoyed. It seemed clear at any rate that, however unfortunate
he might be at having been placed in such a position, no one
could say that he ought either to have refused the appointment
first, or to have rejected the income afterwards. All the
world--meaning the ecclesiastical world as confined to the
English church--knew that the wardenship of the Barchester
Hospital was a snug sinecure, but no one had ever been
blamed for accepting it. To how much blame, however,
would he have been open had he rejected it! How mad would
he have been thought had he declared, when the situation was
vacant and offered to him, that he had scruples as to receiving
#800 a year from John Hiram's property, and that he had
rather some stranger should possess it! How would Dr
Grantly have shaken his wise head, and have consulted with
his friends in the close as to some decent retreat for the coming
insanity of the poor minor canon! If he was right in accepting
the place, it was clear to him also that he would be wrong in
rejecting any part of the income attached to it. The patronage
was a valuable appanage of the bishopric; and surely it would
not be his duty to lessen the value of that preferment which
had been bestowed on himself; surely he was bound to stand
by his order.
But somehow these arguments, though they seemed logical,
were not satisfactory. Was John Hiram's will fairly carried
out? that was the true question: and if not, was it not his
especial duty to see that this was done--his especial duty,
whatever injury it might do to his order--however ill such
duty might be received by his patron and his friends? At the
idea of his friends, his mind turned unhappily to his son-in-law.
He knew well how strongly he would be supported by Dr Grantly,
if he could bring himself to put his case into the archdeacon's
hands and to allow him to fight the battle; but he knew also that
he would find no sympathy there for his doubts, no friendly
feeling, no inward comfort. Dr Grantly would be ready enough to
take up his cudgel against all comers on behalf of the church
militant, but he would do so on the distasteful ground of the
church's infallibility. Such a contest would give no comfort to
Mr Harding's doubts. He was not so anxious to prove himself
right, as to be so.
I have said before that Dr Grantly was the working man of
the diocese, and that his father the bishop was somewhat
inclined to an idle life. So it was; but the bishop, though he
had never been an active man, was one whose qualities had
rendered him dear to all who knew him. He was the very
opposite to his son; he was a bland and a kind old man, opposed
by every feeling to authoritative demonstrations and episcopal
ostentation. It was perhaps well for him, in his situation,
that his son had early in life been able to do that which
he could not well do when he was younger, and which he could
not have done at all now that he was over seventy. The
bishop knew how to entertain the clergy of his diocese, to
talk easy small-talk with the rectors' wives, and put curates at
their ease; but it required the strong hand of the archdeacon
to deal with such as were refractory either in their doctrines or
The bishop and Mr Harding loved each other warmly.
They had grown old together, and had together spent many,
many years in clerical pursuits and clerical conversation.
When one of them was a bishop and the other only a minor
canon they were even then much together; but since their
children had married, and Mr Harding had become warden
and precentor, they were all in all to each other. I will
not say that they managed the diocese between them, but they
spent much time in discussing the man who did, and in forming
little plans to mitigate his wrath against church delinquents,
and soften his aspirations for church dominion.
Mr Harding determined to open his mind, and confess his
doubts to his old friend; and to him he went on the morning
after John Bold's uncourteous visit.
Up to this period no rumour of these cruel proceedings
against the hospital had reached the bishop's ears. He had
doubtless heard that men existed who questioned his right to
present to a sinecure of #800 a year, as he had heard from
time to time of some special immorality or disgraceful
disturbance in the usually decent and quiet city of Barchester:
but all he did, and all he was called on to do, on such occasions,
was to shake his head, and to beg his son, the great
dictator, to see that no harm happened to the church.
It was a long story that Mr Harding had to tell before he
made the bishop comprehend his own view of the case; but
we need not follow him through the tale. At first the bishop
counselled but one step, recommended but one remedy, had
but one medicine in his whole pharmacopoeia strong enough
to touch so grave a disorder--he prescribed the archdeacon.
'Refer him to the archdeacon,' he repeated, as Mr Harding
spoke of Bold and his visit. 'The archdeacon will set you quite
right about that,' he kindly said, when his friend spoke with
hesitation of the justness of his cause. 'No man has got up all
that so well as the archdeacon'; but the dose, though large,
failed to quiet the patient; indeed it almost produced nausea.
'But, bishop,' said he, 'did you ever read John Hiram's
The bishop thought probably he had, thirty-five years ago,
when first instituted to his see, but could not state positively:
however, he very well knew that he had the absolute right to
present to the wardenship, and that the income of the warden
had been regularly settled.
'But, bishop, the question is, who has the power to settle it?
If, as this young man says, the will provides that the proceeds
of the property are to be divided into shares, who has the
power to alter these provisions?' The bishop had an indistinct
idea that they altered themselves by the lapse of years;
that a kind of ecclesiastical statute of limitation barred the
rights of the twelve bedesmen to any increase of income
arising from the increased value of property. He said something
about tradition; more of the many learned men who by their
practice had confirmed the present arrangement; then went
at some length into the propriety of maintaining the due
difference in rank and income between a beneficed clergyman
and certain poor old men who were dependent on charity; and
concluded his argument by another reference to the archdeacon.
The precentor sat thoughtfully gazing at the fire, and listening
to the good-natured reasoning of his friend. What the
bishop said had a sort of comfort in it, but it was not a sustaining
comfort. It made Mr Harding feel that many others--
indeed, all others of his own order--would think him right;
but it failed to prove to him that he truly was so.
Bishop,' said he, at last, after both had sat silent for a while,
'I should deceive you and myself too, if I did not tell you that
I am very unhappy about this. Suppose that I cannot bring myself
to agree with Dr Grantly!--that I find, after inquiry, that the
young man is right, and that I am wrong--what then?'
The two old men were sitting near each other--so near that
the bishop was able to lay his hand upon the other's knee, and
he did so with a gentle pressure. Mr Harding well knew what
that pressure meant. The bishop had no further argument to
adduce; he could not fight for the cause as his son would do;
he could not prove all the precentor's doubts to be groundless;
but he could sympathise with his friend, and he did so; and
Mr Harding felt that he had received that for which he came.
There was another period of silence, after which the bishop
asked, with a degree of irritable energy very unusual with him,
whether this 'pestilent intruder' (meaning John Bold) had
any friends in Barchester.
Mr Harding had fully made up his mind to tell the bishop
everything; to speak of his daughter's love, as well as his own
troubles; to talk of John Bold in his double capacity of future
son-in-law and present enemy; and though he felt it to be
sufficiently disagreeable, now was his time to do it.
'He is very intimate at my own house, bishop.' The bishop
stared. He was not so far gone in orthodoxy and church
militancy as his son, but still he could not bring himself to
understand how so declared an enemy of the establishment
could be admitted on terms of intimacy into the house, not
only of so firm a pillar as Mr Harding, but one so much injured
as the warden of the hospital.
'Indeed, I like Mr Bold much, personally,' continued the
disinterested victim; 'and to tell you the "truth"'--he hesitated
as he brought out the dreadful tidings--'I have sometimes
thought it not improbable that he would be my second son-in-law.'
The bishop did not whistle: we believe that they lose the power of
doing so on being consecrated; and that in these days one might
as easily meet a corrupt judge as a whistling bishop; but he
looked as though he would have done so, but for his apron.
What a brother-in-law for the archdeacon! what an alliance
for Barchester close! what a connection for even the episcopal
palace! The bishop, in his simple mind, felt no doubt that
John Bold, had he so much power, would shut up all cathedrals,
and probably all parish churches; distribute all tithes
among Methodists, Baptists, and other savage tribes; utterly
annihilate the sacred bench, and make shovel hats and lawn
sleeves as illegal as cowls, sandals, and sackcloth! Here was
a nice man to be initiated into the comfortable arcana of
ecclesiastical snuggeries; one who doubted the integrity of
parsons, and probably disbelieved the Trinity!
Mr Harding saw what an effect his communication had
made, and almost repented the openness of his disclosure; he,
however, did what he could to moderate the grief of his friend
and patron. 'I do not say that there is any engagement between
them. Had there been, Eleanor would have told me; I know her
well enough to be assured that she would have done so; but I see
that they are fond of each other; and as a man and a father, I
have had no objection to urge against their intimacy.'
'But, Mr Harding,' said the bishop, 'how are you to oppose
him, if he is your son-in-law?'
'I don't mean to oppose him; it is he who opposes me; if
anything is to be done in defence, I suppose Chadwick will do
it. I suppose--'
'Oh, the archdeacon will see to that: were the young man
twice his brother-in-law, the archdeacon will never be deterred
from doing what he feels to be right.'
Mr Harding reminded the bishop that the archdeacon and
the reformer were not yet brothers, and very probably never
would be; exacted from him a promise that Eleanor's name
should not be mentioned in any discussion between the father
bishop and son archdeacon respecting the hospital; and then
took his departure, leaving his poor old friend bewildered,
amazed, and confounded.
The parties most interested in the movement which is about
to set Barchester by the ears were not the foremost to
discuss the merit of the question, as is often the case; but
when the bishop, the archdeacon, the warden, the steward,
and Messrs Cox and Cummins, were all busy with the matter,
each in his own way, it is not to be supposed that Hiram's
bedesmen themselves were altogether passive spectators.
Finney, the attorney, had been among them, asking sly questions,
and raising immoderate hopes, creating a party hostile to
the warden, and establishing a corps in the enemy's camp, as
he figuratively calls it to himself. Poor old men: whoever
may be righted or wronged by this inquiry, they at any rate
will assuredly be only injured: to them it can only be an
unmixed evil. How can their lot be improved? all their wants
are supplied; every comfort is administered; they have
warm houses, good clothes, plentiful diet, and rest after a life
of labour; and above all, that treasure so inestimable in
declining years, a true and kind friend to listen to their
sorrows, watch over their sickness, and administer comfort
as regards this world, and the world to come!
John Bold sometimes thinks of this, when he is talking loudly
of the rights of the bedesmen, whom he has taken under his
protection; but he quiets the suggestion within his breast
with the high-sounding name of justice: 'Fiat justitia ruat
coelum.' These old men should, by rights, have one hundred
pounds a year instead of one shilling and sixpence a day, and
the warden should have two hundred or three hundred pounds
instead of eight hundred pounds. What is unjust must be
wrong; what is wrong should be righted; and if he declined
the task, who else would do it?
'Each one of you is clearly entitled to one hundred pounds
a year by common law': such had been the important whisper
made by Finney into the ears of Abel Handy, and by him retailed
to his eleven brethren.
Too much must not be expected from the flesh and blood
even of John Hiram's bedesmen, and the positive promise of
one hundred a year to each of the twelve old men had its way
with most of them. The great Bunce was not to be wiled away,
and was upheld in his orthodoxy by two adherents. Abel
Handy, who was the leader of the aspirants after wealth, had,
alas, a stronger following. No less than five of the twelve soon
believed that his views were just, making with their leader a
moiety of the hospital. The other three, volatile unstable
minds, vacillated between the two chieftains, now led away by
the hope of gold, now anxious to propitiate the powers that
It had been proposed to address a petition to the bishop
as visitor, praying his lordship to see justice done to the legal
recipients of John Hiram's Charity, and to send copies of this
petition and of the reply it would elicit to all the leading London
papers, and thereby to obtain notoriety for the subject. This
it was thought would pave the way for ulterior legal proceedings.
It would have been a great thing to have had the signatures
and marks of all the twelve injured legatees; but this
was impossible: Bunce would have cut his hand off sooner
than have signed it. It was then suggested by Finney that if
even eleven could be induced to sanction the document, the
one obstinate recusant might have been represented as unfit to
judge on such a question--in fact, as being non compos mentis--
and the petition would have been taken as representing the
feeling of the men. But this could not be done: Bunce's
friends were as firm as himself, and as yet only six crosses
adorned the document. It was the more provoking, as Bunce
himself could write his name legibly, and one of those three
doubting souls had for years boasted of like power, and
possessed, indeed, a Bible, in which he was proud to show his
name written by himself some thirty years ago--'Job Skulpit';
but it was thought that job Skulpit, having forgotten his
scholarship, on that account recoiled from the petition, and
that the other doubters would follow as he led them. A petition
signed by half the hospital would have but a poor effect.
It was in Skulpit's room that the petition was now lying,
waiting such additional signatures as Abel Handy, by his
eloquence, could obtain for it. The six marks it bore were
duly attested, thus:
his his his
Abel X Handy, Gregory X Moody, Mathew X Spriggs,
mark mark mark
&c., and places were duly designated in pencil for those
brethren who were now expected to join: for Skulpit alone
was left a spot on which his genuine signature might be written
in fair clerk-like style. Handy had brought in the document,
and spread it out on the small deal table, and was now standing
by it persuasive and eager. Moody had followed with an
inkhorn, carefully left behind by Finney; and Spriggs bore
aloft, as though it were a sword, a well-worn ink-black pen,
which from time to time he endeavoured to thrust into
Skulpit's unwilling hand.
With the learned man were his two abettors in indecision,
William Gazy and Jonathan Crumple. If ever the petition
were to be forwarded, now was the time, so said Mr Finney;
and great was the anxiety on the part of those whose one hundred
pounds a year, as they believed, mainly depended on the
document in question.
'To be kept out of all that money,' as the avaricious Moody
had muttered to his friend Handy, 'by an old fool saying that
he can write his own name like his betters!'
'Well, job,' said Handy, trying to impart to his own sour,
ill-omened visage a smile of approbation, in which he greatly
failed; 'so you're ready now, Mr Finney says; here's the
place, d'ye see'--and he put his huge brown finger down on
the dirty paper-'name or mark, it's all one. Come along,
old boy; if so be we're to have the spending of this money,
why the sooner the better--that's my maxim.'
'To be sure,' said Moody. 'We a'n't none of us so young;
we can't stay waiting for old Catgut no longer.'
It was thus these miscreants named our excellent friend.
The nickname he could easily have forgiven, but the allusion
to the divine source of all his melodious joy would have irritated
even him. Let us hope he never knew the insult.
'Only think, old Billy Gazy,' said Spriggs, who rejoiced in
greater youth than his brethren, but having fallen into a fire
when drunk, had had one eye burnt out, one cheek burnt
through, and one arm nearly burnt off, and who, therefore,
in regard to personal appearance, was not the most prepossessing
of men, 'a hundred a year, and all to spend; only think, old
Billy Gazy'; and he gave a hideous grin that showed off his
misfortunes to their full extent.
Old Billy Gazy was not alive to much enthusiasm. Even
these golden prospects did not arouse him to do more than rub
his poor old bleared eyes with the cuff of his bedesman's gown,
and gently mutter; 'he didn't know, not he; he didn't know.'
'But you'd know, Jonathan,' continued Spriggs, turning to
the other friend of Skulpit's, who was sitting on a stool by the
table, gazing vacantly at the petition. Jonathan Crumple was
a meek, mild man, who had known better days; his means
had been wasted by bad children, who had made his life
wretched till he had been received into the hospital, of which
he had not long been a member. Since that day he had known
neither sorrow nor trouble, and this attempt to fill him with
new hopes was, indeed, a cruelty.
'A hundred a year's a nice thing, for sartain, neighbour
Spriggs,' said he. 'I once had nigh to that myself, but it
didn't do me no good.' And he gave a low sigh, as he thought
of the children of his own loins who had robbed him.
'And shall have again, Joe,' said Handy; 'and will have
someone to keep it right and tight for you this time.'
Crumple sighed again--he had learned the impotency of
worldly wealth, and would have been satisfied, if left
untempted, to have remained happy with one and sixpence a day.
'Come, Skulpit,' repeated Handy, getting impatient, 'you're
not going to go along with old Bunce in helping that parson
to rob us all. Take the pen, man, and right yourself. Well,'
he added, seeing that Skulpit still doubted, 'to see a man as is
afraid to stand by hisself is, to my thinking, the meanest thing
'Sink them all for parsons, says I,' growled Moody;
'hungry beggars, as never thinks their bellies full till they have
robbed all and everything!'
'Who's to harm you, man?' argued Spriggs. 'Let them
look never so black at you, they can't get you put out when
you're once in--no, not old Catgut, with Calves to help him!'
I am sorry to say the archdeacon himself was designated by
this scurrilous allusion to his nether person.
'A hundred a year to win, and nothing to lose,' continued
Handy. 'My eyes! Well, how a man's to doubt about sich
a bit of cheese as that passes me--but some men is timorous--
some men is born with no pluck in them--some men is cowed
at the very first sight of a gentleman's coat and waistcoat.'
Oh, Mr Harding, if you had but taken the archdeacon's
advice in that disputed case, when Joe Mutters was this
ungrateful demagogue's rival candidate!
'Afraid of a parson,' growled Moody, with a look of ineffable
scorn. 'I tell ye what I'd be afraid of--I'd be afraid of
not getting nothing from 'em but just what I could take by
might and right--that's the most I'd be afraid on of any
parson of 'em all.'
'But,' said Skulpit, apologetically, 'Mr Harding's not so
bad--he did give us twopence a day, didn't he now?'
'Twopence a day!' exclaimed Spriggs with scorn, opening
awfully the red cavern of his lost eye.
'Twopence a day!' muttered Moody with a curse; 'sink
'Twopence a day!' exclaimed Handy; 'and I'm to go, hat
in hand, and thank a chap for twopence a day, when he owes
me a hundred pounds a year; no, thank ye; that may do for
you, but it won't for me. Come, I say, Skulpit, are you a going
to put your mark to this here paper, or are you not?'
Skulpit looked round in wretched indecision to his two
friends. 'What d'ye think, Bill Gazy?' said he.
But Bill Gazy couldn't think. He made a noise like the
bleating of an old sheep, which was intended to express the
agony of his doubt, and again muttered that 'he didn't know.'
'Take hold, you old cripple,' said Handy, thrusting the pen
into poor Billy's hand: 'there, so--ugh! you old fool, you've
been and smeared it all--there--that'll do for you--that's as
good as the best name as ever was written': and a big blotch
of ink was presumed to represent Billy Gazy's acquiescence.
'Now, Jonathan,' said Handy, turning to Crumple.
'A hundred a year's a nice thing, for sartain,' again argued
Crumple. 'Well, neighbour Skulpit, how's it to be?'
'Oh, please yourself,' said Skulpit: 'please yourself, and
you'll please me.'
The pen was thrust into Crumple's hand, and a faint,
wandering, meaningless sign was made, betokening such
sanction and authority as Jonathan Crumple was able to convey.
'Come, job,' said Handy, softened by success, 'don't let
'em have to say that old Bunce has a man like you under his
thumb--a man that always holds his head in the hospital as
high as Bunce himself, though you're never axed to drink
wine, and sneak, and tell lies about your betters as he does.'
Skulpit held the pen, and made little flourishes with it in the
air, but still hesitated.
'And if you'll be said by me,' continued Handy, 'you'll not
write your name to it at all, but just put your mark like the
others,' --the cloud began to clear from Skulpit's brow--'we
all know you can do it if you like, but maybe you wouldn't
like to seem uppish, you know.'
'Well, the mark would be best,' said Skulpit. 'One name
and the rest marks wouldn't look well, would it?'
'The worst in the world,' said Handy; 'there--there': and
stooping over the petition, the learned clerk made a huge
cross on the place left for his signature.
'That's the game,' said Handy, triumphantly pocketing the
petition; 'we're all in a boat now, that is, the nine of us; and
as for old Bunce, and his cronies, they may--' But as he was
hobbling off to the door, with a crutch on one side and a
stick on the other, he was met by Bunce himself.
'Well Handy, and what may old Bunce do?' said the gray-
haired, upright senior.
Handy muttered something, and was departing; but he
was stopped in the doorway by the huge frame of the newcomer.
'You've been doing no good here, Abel Handy,' said he, ''tis
plain to see that; and 'tisn't much good, I'm thinking, you
'I mind my own business, Master Bunce,' muttered the
other, 'and do you do the same. It ain't nothing to you what
I does--and your spying and poking here won't do no good
nor yet no harm.'
'I suppose then, job,' continued Bunce, not noticing his
opponent, 'if the truth must out, you've stuck your name to
that petition of theirs at last.'
Skulpit looked as though he were about to sink into the
ground with shame.
'What is it to you what he signs?' said Handy. 'I suppose
if we all wants to ax for our own, we needn't ax leave of you
first, Mr Bunce, big a man as you are; and as to your sneaking
in here, into Job's room when he's busy, and where you're
'I've knowed job Skulpit, man and boy, sixty years,' said
Bunce, looking at the man of whom he spoke, 'and that's ever
since the day he was born. I knowed the mother that bore
him, when she and I were little wee things, picking daisies
together in the close yonder; and I've lived under the same
roof with him more nor ten years; and after that I may come
into his room without axing leave, and yet no sneaking neither.'
'So you can, Mr Bunce,' said Skulpit; 'so you can, any
hour, day or night.'
'And I'm free also to tell him my mind,' continued Bunce,
looking at the one man and addressing the other; 'and I tell
him now that he's done a foolish and a wrong thing. He's
turned his back upon one who is his best friend; and is playing
the game of others, who care nothing for him, whether he be
poor or rich, well or ill, alive or dead. A hundred a year?
Are the lot of you soft enough to think that if a hundred a
year be to be given, it's the likes of you that will get it?'--and
he pointed to Billy Gazy, Spriggs, and Crumple. 'Did any of
us ever do anything worth half the money? Was it to make
gentlemen of us we were brought in here, when all the world
turned against us, and we couldn't longer earn our daily
bread? A'n't you all as rich in your ways as he in his?'--and
the orator pointed to the side on which the warden lived.
'A'n't you getting all you hoped for, ay, and more than you
hoped for? Wouldn't each of you have given the dearest limb
of his body to secure that which now makes you so unthankful?'
'We wants what John Hiram left us,' said Handy. 'We
wants what's ourn by law; it don't matter what we expected.
What's ourn by law should be ourn, and by goles we'll have it.'
'Law!' said Bunce, with all the scorn he knew how to
command--'law! Did ye ever know a poor man yet was the
better for law, or for a lawyer? Will Mr Finney ever be as
good to you, job, as that man has been? Will he see to you
when you're sick, and comfort you when you're wretched?
'No, nor give you port wine, old boy, on cold winter nights!
he won't do that, will he?' asked Handy; and laughing at the
severity of his own wit, he and his colleagues retired, carrying
with them, however, the now powerful petition.
There is no help for spilt milk; and Mr Bunce could only
retire to his own room, disgusted at the frailty of human nature.
Job Skulpit scratched his head--Jonathan Crumple again
remarked, that, 'for sartain, sure a hundred a year was very
nice'--and Billy Gazy again rubbed his eyes, and lowly
muttered that 'he didn't know.'
Dr Grantly Visits the Hospital
Though doubt and hesitation disturbed the rest of our poor
warden, no such weakness perplexed the nobler
breast of his son-in-law. As the indomitable cock preparing
for the combat sharpens his spurs, shakes his feathers, and
erects his comb, so did the archdeacon arrange his weapons
for the coming war, without misgiving and without fear. That
he was fully confident of the justice of his cause let no one
doubt. Many a man can fight his battle with good courage,
but with a doubting conscience. Such was not the case with
Dr Grantly. He did not believe in the Gospel with more
assurance than he did in the sacred justice of all ecclesiastical
revenues. When he put his shoulder to the wheel to defend
the income of the present and future precentors of Barchester,
he was animated by as strong a sense of a holy cause, as that
which gives courage to a missionary in Africa, or enables a
sister of mercy to give up the pleasures of the world for the
wards of a hospital. He was about to defend the holy of holies
from the touch of the profane; to guard the citadel of his
church from the most rampant of its enemies; to put on his
good armour in the best of fights; and secure, if possible, the
comforts of his creed for coming generations of ecclesiastical
dignitaries. Such a work required no ordinary vigour; and
the archdeacon was, therefore, extraordinarily vigorous. It
demanded a buoyant courage, and a heart happy in its toil; and
the archdeacon's heart was happy, and his courage was buoyant.
He knew that he would not be able to animate his father-in-law
with feelings like his own, but this did not much disturb
him. He preferred to bear the brunt of the battle alone, and
did not doubt that the warden would resign himself into his
hands with passive submission.
'Well, Mr Chadwick,' he said, walking into the steward's
office a day or two after the signing of the petition as
commemorated in the last chapter: 'anything from Cox and
Cummins this morning?' Mr Chadwick handed him a letter;
which he read, stroking the tight-gaitered calf of his right leg
as he did so. Messrs Cox and Cummins merely said that they
had as yet received no notice from their adversaries; that they
could recommend no preliminary steps; but that should any
proceeding really be taken by the bedesmen, it would be
expedient to consult that very eminent Queen's Counsel, Sir
'I quite agree with them,' said Dr Grantly, refolding the
letter. 'I perfectly agree with them. Haphazard is no doubt
the best man; a thorough churchman, a sound conservative,
and in every respect the best man we could get--he's in the
House, too, which is a great thing.'
Mr Chadwick quite agreed.
'You remember how completely he put down that scoundrel
Horseman about the Bishop of Beverley's income; how completely
he set them all adrift in the earl's case.' Since the question
of St Cross had been mooted by the public, one noble lord had
become 'the earl,' par excellence, in the doctor's estimation.
'How he silenced that fellow at Rochester. Of course
we must have Haphazard; and I'll tell you what, Mr Chadwick,
we must take care to be in time, or the other party will
With all his admiration for Sir Abraham, the doctor seemed
to think it not impossible that that great man might be induced
to lend his gigantic powers to the side of the church's enemies.
Having settled this point to his satisfaction, the doctor
stepped down to the hospital, to learn how matters were going
on there; and as he walked across the hallowed close, and
looked up at the ravens who cawed with a peculiar reverence
as he wended his way, he thought with increased acerbity of
those whose impiety would venture to disturb the goodly grace
of cathedral institutions.
And who has not felt the same? We believe that Mr Horseman
himself would relent, and the spirit of Sir Benjamin Hall
give way, were those great reformers to allow themselves to
stroll by moonlight round the towers of some of our ancient
churches. Who would not feel charity for a prebendary when
walking the quiet length of that long aisle at Winchester, looking
at those decent houses, that trim grass-plat, and feeling, as
one must, the solemn, orderly comfort of the spot! Who could
be hard upon a dean while wandering round the sweet close
of Hereford, and owning that in that precinct, tone and colour,
design and form, solemn tower and storied window, are all in
unison, and all perfect! Who could lie basking in the cloisters
of Salisbury, and gaze on Jewel's library and that unequalled
spire, without feeling that bishops should sometimes be rich!
The tone of our archdeacon's mind must not astonish us;
it has been the growth of centuries of church ascendancy; and
though some fungi now disfigure the tree, though there be
much dead wood, for how much good fruit have not we to be
thankful? Who, without remorse, can batter down the dead
branches of an old oak, now useless, but, ah! still so beautiful,
or drag out the fragments of the ancient forest, without feeling
that they sheltered the younger plants, to which they are now
summoned to give way in a tone so peremptory and so harsh?
The archdeacon, with all his virtues, was not a man of
delicate feeling; and after having made his morning salutations
in the warden's drawing-room, he did not scruple to
commence an attack on 'pestilent' John Bold in the presence
of Miss Harding, though he rightly guessed that that lady was
not indifferent to the name of his enemy.
'Nelly, my dear, fetch me my spectacles from the back
room,' said her father, anxious to save both her blushes and
Eleanor brought the spectacles, while her father was trying,
in ambiguous phrases, to explain to her too-practical brother-
in-law that it might be as well not to say anything about Bold
before her, and then retreated. Nothing had been explained
to her about Bold and the hospital; but, with a woman's
instinct she knew that things were going wrong.
'We must soon be doing something,' commenced the archdeacon,
wiping his brows with a large, bright-coloured handkerchief,
for he had felt busy, and had walked quick, and it was a broiling
summer's day. 'Of course you have heard of the petition?'
Mr Harding owned, somewhat unwillingly, that he had
heard of it.
'Well'--the archdeacon looked for some expressions of
opinion, but none coming, he continued--' We must be doing
something, you know; we mustn't allow these people to cut the
ground from under us while we sit looking on.' The archdeacon,
who was a practical man, allowed himself the use of everyday
expressive modes of speech when among his closest intimates,
though no one could soar into a more intricate labyrinth of
refined phraseology when the church was the subject, and his
lower brethren were his auditors.
The warden still looked mutely in his face, making the
slightest possible passes with an imaginary fiddle bow, and
stopping, as he did so, sundry imaginary strings with the
fingers of his other hand. 'Twas his constant consolation in
conversational troubles. While these vexed him sorely, the
passes would be short and slow, and the upper hand would not
be seen to work; nay, the strings on which it operated would
sometimes lie concealed in the musician's pocket, and the
instrument on which he played would be beneath his chair--
but as his spirit warmed to the subject--as his trusting heart
looking to the bottom of that which vexed him, would see its
clear way out--he would rise to a higher melody, sweep the
unseen strings with a bolder hand, and swiftly fingering the
cords from his neck, down along his waistcoat, and up again
to his very ear, create an ecstatic strain of perfect music,
audible to himself and to St Cecilia, and not without effect.
'I quite agree with Cox and Cummins,' continued the
archdeacon. 'They say we must secure Sir Abraham Haphazard.
I shall not have the slightest fear in leaving the case
in Sir Abraham's hands.'
The warden played the slowest and saddest of tunes. It was
but a dirge on one string.
'I think Sir Abraham will not be long in letting Master
Bold know what he's about. I fancy I hear Sir Abraham
cross-questioning him at the Common Pleas.'
The warden thought of his income being thus discussed, his
modest life, his daily habits, and his easy work; and nothing
issued from that single cord, but a low wail of sorrow. 'I
suppose they've sent this petition up to my father.' The
warden didn't know; he imagined they would do so this very day.
'What I can't understand is, how you let them do it, with
such a command as you have in the place, or should have with
such a man as Bunce. I cannot understand why you let them do it.'
'Do what?' asked the warden.
'Why, listen to this fellow Bold, and that other low pettifogger,
Finney--and get up this petition too. Why didn't you tell
Bunce to destroy the petition?'
'That would have been hardly wise,' said the warden.
'Wise--yes, it would have been very wise if they'd done it
among themselves. I must go up to the palace and answer it now,
I suppose. It's a very short answer they'll get, I can tell you.'
'But why shouldn't they petition, doctor?'
'Why shouldn't they!' responded the archdeacon, in a loud
brazen voice, as though all the men in the hospital were
expected to hear him through the walls; 'why shouldn't they?
I'll let them know why they shouldn't: by the bye, warden,
I'd like to say a few words to them all together.'
The warden's mind misgave him, and even for a moment he
forgot to play. He by no means wished to delegate to his
son-in-law his place and authority of warden; he had expressly
determined not to interfere in any step which the men might
wish to take in the matter under dispute; he was most
anxious neither to accuse them nor to defend himself. All
these things he was aware the archdeacon would do in his
behalf, and that not in the mildest manner; and yet he knew
not how to refuse the permission requested.
'I'd so much sooner remain quiet in the matter,' said he, in
an apologetic voice.
Quiet!' said the archdeacon, still speaking with his brazen
trumpet; 'do you wish to be ruined in quiet?'
'Why, if I am to be ruined, certainly.'
'Nonsense, warden; I tell you something must be done--
we must act; just let me ring the bell, and send the men word
that I'll speak to them in the quad.'
Mr Harding knew not how to resist, and the disagreeable
order was given. The quad, as it was familiarly called, was a
small quadrangle, open on one side to the river, and surrounded
on the others by the high wall of Mr Harding's garden, by one
gable end of Mr Harding's house, and by the end of the row of
buildings which formed the residences of the bedesmen. It was
flagged all round, and the centre was stoned; small stone
gutters ran from the four corners of the square to a grating in
the centre; and attached to the end of Mr Harding's house was a
conduit with four cocks covered over from the weather, at which
the old men got their water, and very generally performed their
morning toilet. It was a quiet, sombre place, shaded over by the
trees of the warden's garden. On the side towards the river,
there stood a row of stone seats, on which the old men would sit
and gaze at the little fish, as they flitted by in the running
stream. On the other side of the river was a rich, green meadow,
running up to and joining the deanery, and as little open to the
public as the garden of the dean itself. Nothing, therefore,
could be more private than the quad of the hospital; and it was
there that the archdeacon determined to convey to them his sense
of their refractory proceedings.
The servant soon brought in word that the men were
assembled in the quad, and the archdeacon, big with his
purpose, rose to address them.
'Well, warden, of course you're coming,' said he, seeing that
Mr Harding did not prepare to follow him.
'I wish you'd excuse me,' said Mr Harding.
'For heaven's sake, don't let us have division in the camp,'
replied the archdeacon: 'let us have a long pull and a strong
pull, but above all a pull all together; come warden, come;
don't be afraid of your duty.'
Mr Harding was afraid; he was afraid that he was being
led to do that which was not his duty: he was not, however,
strong enough to resist, so he got up and followed his son-in-law.
The old men were assembled in groups in the quadrangle--
eleven of them at least, for poor old Johnny Bell was bed-ridden,
and couldn't come; he had, however, put his mark to the
petition, as one of Handy's earliest followers. 'Tis true he
could not move from the bed where he lay; 'tis true he had
no friend on earth, but those whom the hospital contained;
and of those the warden and his daughter were the most constant
and most appreciated; 'tis true that everything was administered
to him which his failing body could require, or which his faint
appetite could enjoy; but still his dull eye had glistened for a
moment at the idea of possessing a hundred pounds a year 'to his
own cheek,' as Abel Handy had eloquently expressed it; and poor
old Johnny Bell had greedily put his mark to the petition.
When the two clergymen appeared, they all uncovered their
heads. Handy was slow to do it, and hesitated; but the black
coat and waistcoat of which he had spoken so irreverently in
Skulpit's room, had its effect even on him, and he too doffed
his hat. Bunce, advancing before the others, bowed lowly to
the archdeacon, and with affectionate reverence expressed his
wish, that the warden and Miss Eleanor were quite well; 'and
the doctor's lady,' he added, turning to the archdeacon, 'and
the children at Plumstead, and my lord'; and having made
his speech, he also retired among the others, and took his place
with the rest upon the stone benches.
As the archdeacon stood up to make his speech, erect in the
middle of that little square , he looked like an ecclesiastical
statue placed there, as a fitting impersonation of the church
militant here on earth; his shovel hat, large, new, and well-
pronounced, a churchman's hat in every inch, declared the
profession as plainly as does the Quaker's broad brim; his
heavy eyebrows, large open eyes, and full mouth and chin
expressed the solidity of his order; the broad chest, amply
covered with fine cloth, told how well to do was its estate; one
hand ensconced within his pocket, evinced the practical hold
which our mother church keeps on her temporal possessions;
and the other, loose for action, was ready to fight if need be in
her defence; and, below these, the decorous breeches, and
neat black gaiters showing so admirably that well-turned leg,
betokened the decency, the outward beauty and grace of our
'Now, my men,' he began, when he had settled himself well
in his position, 'I want to say a few words to you. Your good
friend, the warden here, and myself, and my lord the bishop,
on whose behalf I wish to speak to you, would all be very sorry,
very sorry indeed, that you should have any just ground of
complaint. Any just ground of complaint on your part would
be removed at once by the warden, or by his lordship, or by
me on his behalf, without the necessity of any petition on your
part.' Here the orator stopped for a moment, expecting that
some little murmurs of applause would show that the weakest
of the men were beginning to give way; but no such murmurs
came. Bunce, himself, even sat with closed lips, mute and
unsatisfactory. 'Without the necessity of any petition at all,'
he repeated. 'I'm told you have addressed a petition to my
lord.' He paused for a reply from the men, and after a while,
Handy plucked up courage and said, 'Yes, we has.'
' You have addressed a petition to my lord, in which, as I am
informed, you express an opinion that you do not receive from
Hiram's estate all that is your due.' Here most of the men
expressed their assent. 'Now what is it you ask for? What is
it you want that you hav'n't got here? What is it--'
'A hundred a year,' muttered old Moody, with a voice as
if it came out of the ground.
'A hundred a year!' ejaculated the archdeacon militant,
defying the impudence of these claimants with one hand
stretched out and closed, while with the other he tightly
grasped, and secured within his breeches pocket, that symbol
of the church's wealth which his own loose half-crowns not
unaptly represented. 'A hundred a year! Why, my men, you
must be mad; and you talk about John Hiram's will! When
John Hiram built a hospital for worn-out old men, worn-out
old labouring men, infirm old men past their work, cripples,
blind, bed-ridden, and such like, do you think he meant to
make gentlemen of them? Do you think John Hiram intended
to give a hundred a year to old single men, who earned perhaps
two shillings or half-a-crown a day for themselves and families
in the best of their time? No, my men, I'll tell you what John
Hiram meant: he meant that twelve poor old worn-out
labourers, men who could no longer support themselves, who
had no friends to support them, who must starve and perish
miserably if not protected by the hand of charity; he meant
that twelve such men as these should come in here in their
poverty and wretchedness, and find within these walls shelter
and food before their death, and a little leisure to make their
peace with God. That was what John Hiram meant: you
have not read John Hiram's will, and I doubt whether those
wicked men who are advising you have done so. I have; I
know what his will was; and I tell you that that was his will,
and that that was his intention.'
Not a sound came from the eleven bedesmen, as they sat
listening to what, according to the archdeacon, was their
intended estate. They grimly stared upon his burly figure, but
did not then express, by word or sign, the anger and disgust to
which such language was sure to give rise.
'Now let me ask you,' he continued: 'do you think you are
worse off than John Hiram intended to make you? Have you
not shelter, and food, and leisure? Have you not much more?
Have you not every indulgence which you are capable of
enjoying? Have you not twice better food, twice a better bed,
ten times more money in your pocket than you were ever able
to earn for yourselves before you were lucky enough to get into
this place? And now you send a petition to the bishop, asking
for a hundred pounds a year! I tell you what, my friends;
you are deluded, and made fools of by wicked men who are
acting for their own ends. You will never get a hundred pence
a year more than what you have now: it is very possible that
you may get less; it is very possible that my lord the bishop,
and your warden, may make changes--'
'No, no, no,' interrupted Mr Harding, who had been listening
with indescribable misery to the tirade of his son-in-law;
'no, my friends. I want no changes--at least no changes that
shall make you worse off than you now are, as long as you and
I live together.'
'God bless you, Mr Harding,' said Bunce; and 'God bless
you, Mr Harding, God bless you, sir: we know you was
always our friend,' was exclaimed by enough of the men to
make it appear that the sentiment was general.
The archdeacon had been interrupted in his speech before he
had quite finished it; but he felt that he could not recommence
with dignity after this little ebullition, and he led the way
back into the garden, followed by his father-in-law.
'Well,' said he, as soon as he found himself within the cool
retreat of the warden's garden; 'I think I spoke to them
plainly.' And he wiped the perspiration from his brow; for
making a speech under a broiling mid-day sun in summer, in a
full suit of thick black cloth, is warm work.
'Yes, you were plain enough,' replied the warden, in a tone
which did not express approbation.
'And that's everything,' said the other, who was clearly well
satisfied with himself; 'that's everything: with those sort of
people one must be plain, or one will not be understood. Now,
I think they did understand me--I think they knew what I meant.'
The warden agreed. He certainly thought they had understood
to the full what had been said to them.
'They know pretty well what they have to expect from us;
they know how we shall meet any refractory spirit on their
part; they know that we are not afraid of them. And now I'll just
step into Chadwick's, and tell him what I've done; and then I'll
go up to the palace, and answer this petition of theirs.'
The warden's mind was very full--full nearly to overcharging
itself; and had it done so--had he allowed himself to speak
the thoughts which were working within him, he would indeed
have astonished the archdeacon by the reprobation he would
have expressed as to the proceeding of which he had been so
unwilling a witness. But different feelings kept him silent; he
was as yet afraid of differing from his son-in-law--he was
anxious beyond measure to avoid even a semblance of rupture
with any of his order, and was painfully fearful of having to
come to an open quarrel with any person on any subject. His
life had hitherto been so quiet, so free from strife; his little
early troubles had required nothing but passive fortitude; his
subsequent prosperity had never forced upon him any active
cares--had never brought him into disagreeable contact with
anyone. He felt that he would give almost anything--much
more than he knew he ought to do--to relieve himself from the
storm which he feared was coming. It was so hard that the
pleasant waters of his little stream should be disturbed and
muddied by rough hands; that his quiet paths should be made a
battlefield; that the unobtrusive corner of the world which had
been allotted to him, as though by Providence, should be invaded
and desecrated, and all within it made miserable and unsound.
Money he had none to give; the knack of putting guineas
together had never belonged to him; but how willingly, with
what a foolish easiness, with what happy alacrity, would he
have abandoned the half of his income for all time to come,
could he by so doing have quietly dispelled the clouds that
were gathering over him--could he have thus compromised
the matter between the reformer and the conservative, between
his possible son-in-law, Bold, and his positive son-in-law,
And this compromise would not have been made from any
prudential motive of saving what would yet remain, for Mr
Harding still felt little doubt but he should be left for life in