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  • 1857
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when he would be able to appropriate to his own use the big room upstairs, in which his predecessor had always sat.

As he resolved these things in his mind a note was brought to him from Archdeacon Grantly, in which that divine begged his lordship to do him the honour of seeing him on the morrow–would his lordship have the kindness to name the hour? Dr Grantly’s proposed visit would have reference to the re-appointment of Mr Harding to the wardenship of Hiram’s hospital. The bishop having read this note was informed that the archdeacon’s servant was waiting for an answer.

Here at once a great opportunity offered itself to the bishop of acting on his own responsibility. He bethought himself of his new ally, and rang the bell for Mr Slope. It turned out that Mr Slope was not in the house; and then, greatly daring, the bishop with his own unassisted spirit wrote a note to the archdeacon saying that he would see him, and naming the hour for doing so. Having watched from his study-window that the messenger got safely off the premises with this despatch, he began to turn over in his mind what step he should next take.

To-morrow he would have to declare to the archdeacon either that Mr Harding should have the appointment, or that he should not have it. The bishop felt that he could not honestly throw over Mr Quiverful without informing Mrs Proudie, and he resolved at last to brave the lioness in her own den and tell her that circumstances were such that it behoved him to reappoint Mr Harding. He did not feel that he should at all derogate from his new courage by promising Mrs Proudie that the very first piece of available preferment at his disposal should be given to Quiverful to atone for the injury done to him. If he could mollify the lioness with such a sop, how happy would he think his first efforts had been?

Not without many misgivings did he find himself in Mrs Proudie’s boudoir. He had at first thought of sending for her. But it was not at all impossible that she might choose to take such a message amiss, and then also it might be some protection to him to have his daughters present at the interview. He found her sitting with her account books before her nibbling the end of her pencil evidently mersed in pecuniary difficulties, and harassed in mind by the multiplicity of palatial expenses, and the heavy cost of episcopal grandeur. Her daughters were around her. Olivia was reading a novel, Augusta was crossing a note to her bosom friend in Baker Street, and Netta was working diminutive coach wheels for the bottom of a petticoat. If the bishop could get the better of his wife in her present mood, he would be a man indeed. He might then consider victory his own for ever. After all, in such cases the matter between husband and wife stands much the same as it does between two boys at the same school, two cocks in the same yard, or two armies on the same continent. The conqueror once is generally the conqueror for ever after. The prestige of victory is everything.

‘Ahem–my dear,’ began the bishop, ‘if you are disengaged, I wished to speak to you.’ Mrs Proudie put her pencil down carefully at the point to which she had dotted her figures, marked down in her memory the sum she had arrived at, and then looked up, sourly enough, into her helpmate’s face. ‘If you are busy, another time will do as well,’ continued the bishop, whose courage like Bob Acres’ had oozed out, now that he found himself on the ground of battle.

‘What is it about, bishop?’ asked the lady.

‘Well–it was about those Quiverfuls–but I see you are engaged. Another time will do just as well for me.’

‘What about the Quiverfuls? It is quite understood I believe, that they are to come to the hospital. There is to be no doubt about that, is there?’ And as she spoke she kept her pencil sternly and vigorously fixed on the column of figures before her.

‘Why, my dear, there is a difficulty,’ said the bishop.

‘A difficulty!’ said Mrs Proudie, ‘What difficulty? The place has been promised to Mr Quiverful, and of course he must have it. He has made all his arrangements. He has written for a curate for Puddingdale, he has spoken to the auctioneer about selling his farm, horses, and cows, and in all respects considers the place as his own. Of course he must have it.’

Now, bishop, look well to thyself, and call up all the manhood that is in thee. Think how much is at stake. If now thou art not true to thy guns, no Slope can hereafter aid thee. How can he who deserts his own colours at the final smell of gunpowder expect faith in any ally. Thou thyself hast sought the battlefield; fight out the battle manfully now thou art there. Courage, bishop, courage! Frowns cannot kill, nor can sharp words break any bones. After all the apron is thine own. She can appoint no wardens, give away no benefices, nominate no chaplains, an’ thou art but true to thyself. Up, man, and at her with a constant heart.

Some little monitor within the bishop’s breast so addressed him. But then there was another monitor there which advised him differently, and as follows. Remember, bishop, she is a woman, and such a woman is the very mischief. Were it not better for thee to carry on this war, if it must be waged, from behind thine own table in thine own study? Does not every cock fight best on is own dunghill? Thy daughters also are here, the pledges of thy love, the fruits of thy loins; is it well that they should see thee in the hour of thy victory over their mother? Nay, is it well that they should see thee in the possible hour of thy defeat? Besides, hast thou not chosen thy opportunity with wonderful little skill, indeed with no touch of sagacity for which thou art famous? Will it not turn out that thou art wrong in this matter, and thine enemy right; that thou hast actually pledged thyself in this matter of the hospital, and that now thou wouldst turn upon thy wife because she requires from thee but the fulfilment of thy promise? Art thou not a Christian bishop, and is not thy word to be held sacred whatever be the result? Return, bishop, to thy sanctum on the lower floor, and postpone thy combative propensities for some occasion in which at least thou mayest fight the battle against odds less tremendously against thee.

All this passed within the bishop’s bosom while Mrs Proudie stall sat with her fixed pencil, and the figures of her sum still enduring on the tablets of her memory. ‘L4 17s 7d,’ she said to herself. ‘Of course Mr Quiverful must have the hospital,’ she said out loud to her lord.

‘Well, my dear, I merely wanted to suggest to you that Mr Slope seems to think that if Mr Harding be not appointed, public feeling in the matter would be against us and that the press might perhaps take it up.’

‘Mr Slope seems to think!’ said Mrs Proudie, in a tone of voice which plainly showed the bishop that he was right in looking for a breach in that quarter. ‘And what has Mr Slope to do with it? I hope, my lord, you are not going to allow yourself to be governed by a chaplain.’ and now in her eagerness the lady lost her place in her account.

‘Certainly not, my dear. Nothing I can assure you is less probable. But still Mr Slope may be useful in finding how the wind blows, and I really thought that if we could give something good to Mr Quiverful–‘

‘Nonsense,’ said Mrs Proudie; ‘it would be years before you could give them anything else that could suit them half as well, and as for the press and the public, and all that, remember there are two ways of telling a story. If Mr Harding is fool enough to tell his tale, we can also tell ours. The place was offered to him, and he refused it. It has now been given to someone else, and there’s an end of it. At least, I should think so.’

‘Well, my dear, I rather believe you are right;’ said the bishop, and sneaking out of the room, he went down stairs, troubled in his mind as to how he should receive the archdeacon on the morrow. He felt himself not very well just at present; and began to consider that he might, not improbably, be detained in his room the next morning by an attack of bile. He was, unfortunately, very subject to bilious annoyances.

‘Mr Slope, indeed! I’ll Slope him,’ said the indignant matron to her listening progeny. ‘I don’t know what has come to Mr Slope. I believe he thinks he is to be Bishop of Barchester himself, because I have taken him by the hand, and got your father to make him his domestic chaplain.’

‘He was always full of impudence,’ said Olivia; ‘I told you so once before, mamma.’ Olivia, however, had not thought him too impudent when once before he had proposed to make her Mrs Slope.

‘Well, Olivia, I always thought you liked him,’ said Augusta, who at that moment had some grudge against her sister. ‘I always disliked the man because I think him thoroughly vulgar.’

‘There you’re wrong,’ said Mrs Proudie; ‘he’s not vulgar at all; and what is more, he is a soul-stirring, eloquent preacher; but he must be taught to know his place if he is to remain in this house.’

‘He has the horridest eyes I ever saw in a man’s head,’ said Netta; ‘and I tell you what, he’s terribly greedy; did you see the current pie he ate yesterday?’

When Mr Slope got home he soon learnt from the bishop, as much from his manner as his words, that Mrs Proudie’s behests in the matter of the hospital were to be obeyed. Dr Proudie let fall something as to ‘this occasion only,’ and ‘keeping all affairs about patronage exclusively in his own hands.’ But he was quite decided about Mr Harding; and as Mr Slope did not wish to have both the prelate and the prelatess against him, he did not at present see that he could do anything but yield.

He merely remarked that he would of course carry out the bishop’s views, and that he was quite sure that if the bishop trusted to his own judgment things in the diocese would certainly be well ordered. Mr Slope knew that if you hit a nail on the head often enough, it will penetrate at last.

He was sitting alone in his room on the same evening when a light knock was made on his door, and before he could answer it the door was opened, and his patroness appeared. He was all smiles in a moment, but so was not she also. She took, however, the chair that was offered to her, and thus began her expostulation :-

‘Mr Slope, I did not at all approve your conduct the other night with that Italian woman. Any one would have thought that you were her lover.’

‘Good gracious, my dear madam,’ said Mr Slope, with a look of horror. ‘Why, she is a married woman.’

‘That’s more than I know,’ said Mrs Proudie; ‘however she chooses to pass for such. But married or not married, such attention as you paid her was improper. I cannot believe that you would wish to give offence in my drawing-room, Mr Slope; but I owe it to myself and my daughters to tell you that I disapprove your conduct.’

Mr Slope opened wide his huge protruding eyes, and stared out of them with a look of well-dignified surprise. ‘Why, Mrs Proudie,’ said he, ‘I did but fetch her something to eat when she was hungry.’

‘And you have called on her since,’ continued she, looking at the culprit with the stern look of a detective policeman in the act of declaring himself.

Mr Slope turned over in his mind whether it would be well for him to tell this termagant at once that he should call on whom he liked, and do what he liked; but he remembered that his footing in Barchester was not yet sufficiently firm, and that it would be better for him to pacify her.

‘I certainly called since at Dr Stanhope’s house, and certainly saw Madame Neroni.’

‘Yes, and you saw her alone,’ said the episcopal Argus.

‘Undoubtedly I did,’ said Mr Slope, ‘but that was because nobody else happened to be in the room. Surely it was no fault of mine if the rest of the family were out.’

‘Perhaps not; but I assure you, Mr Slope, you will fall greatly in my estimation if I find that you allow yourself to be caught by the lures of that woman. I know women better than you do, Slope, and you may believe me that that signora, as she calls herself, is not a fitting companion for a strict evangelical, unmarried young clergyman.’

How Mr Slope would have liked to laugh at her, had he dared! But he did not dare. So he merely said, ‘I can assure you, Mrs Proudie, the lady in question is nothing to me.’

‘Well, I hope not, Mr Slope. But I have considered it my duty to give you this caution; and now there is another thing I feel myself called upon to speak about; it is your conduct to the bishop, Mr Slope.’

‘My conduct to the bishop,’ said he, now truly surprised and ignorant what the lady alluded to.

‘Yes, Mr Slope; your conduct to the bishop. It is by no means what I would wish to see it.’

‘Has the bishop said anything, Mrs Proudie?’

‘No, the bishop has said nothing. He probably thinks that any remarks on the matter will come better from me, who first introduced you to his lordship’s notice. The fact is, Mr Slope, you are a little inclined to take too much upon yourself.’

An angry spot showed itself upon Mr Slope’s cheeks, and it was with difficulty that he controlled himself. But he did do so, and sat quite silent while the lady went on.

‘It is the fault of many young men in your position, and therefore the bishop is not inclined at present to resent it. You will, no doubt, soon learn what is required from you, and what is not. If you will take my advice, however, you will be careful not to obtrude advice upon the bishop in any matter concerning patronage. If his lordship wants advice, he knows where to look for it.’ And then having added to her counsel a string of platitudes as to what was desirable and what not desirable in the conduct of a strictly evangelical, unmarried young clergyman, Mrs Proudie retreated, leaving the chaplain to his thoughts.

The upshot of his thoughts was this, that there certainly was not room in the diocese for the energies of both himself and Mrs Proudie, and that it behoved him quickly to ascertain whether his energies or hers would prevail.



Early on the following morning, Mr Slope was summoned to the bishop’s dressing-room, and went there fully expecting that he should find his lordship very indignant, and spirited up by his wife to repeat the rebuke which she had administered on the previous day. Mr Slope had resolved that at any rate from him he would not stand it, and entered the dressing-room in rather a combative disposition; but he found the bishop in the most placid and gentle of humours. His lordship complained of being rather unwell, had a slight headache, and was not quite the thing in his stomach; but there was nothing the matter with his temper.

‘Oh, Slope,’ said he, taking the chaplain’s proffered hand. ‘Archdeacon Grantly is to call on me this morning, and I really am not fit to see him. I fear I must trouble you to see him for me;’ and then Dr Proudie proceeded to explain what it was that must be said to Dr Grantly. He was to be told in fact in the civilest words in which the tidings could be conveyed, that Mr Harding having refused the wardenship, the appointment had been offered to Mr Quiverful and accepted by him.

Mr Slope again pointed out to his patron that he thought he was perhaps not quite wise in his decision, and this he did sotto voce. But even with this precaution it was not safe to say much, and during the little that he did say, the bishop made a very slight, but still a very ominous gesture with his thumb towards the door which opened from his dressing-room to some inner sanctuary. Mr Slope at once took the hint and said no more; but he perceived that there was to be confidence between him and his patron, that the league desired by him was to be made, and that this appointment of Mr Quiverful was to be the sacrifice offered on the altar of conjugal obedience. All this Mr Slope read in the slight motion of the bishop’s thumb, and he read it correctly. There was no need of parchments and seals, of attestations, explanations, and professions. The bargain was understood between them, and Mr Slope gave the bishop his hand upon it. The bishop understood the little extra squeeze, and an intelligible gleam of assent twinkled in his eye.

‘Pray be civil to the archdeacon, Mr Slope,’ said he out loud; ‘but make him quite understand that in this matter Mr Harding has put it out of my power to oblige him.’

It would be calumny on Mrs Proudie to suggest that she was sitting in her bed-room with her ear at the keyhole during this interview. She had within her a spirit of decorum which prevented her from descending to such baseness. To put her ear to a key-hole or to listen at a chink, was a trick for a housemaid.

Mrs Proudie knew this, and therefore she did not do it; but she stationed herself as near to the door as she well could, that she might, if possible, get the advantage which the housemaid would have had, without descending to the housemaid’s artifice.

It was little, however, that she heard, and that little was only sufficient to deceive her. She saw nothing of that friendly pressure, perceived nothing of that concluded bargain; she did not even dream of the treacherous resolves which those two false men had made together to upset her in the pride of her station, to dash the cup from her lip before she had drank of it, to seep away all her power before she had tasted its sweets! Traitors that they were; the husband of her bosom, and the outcast whom she had fostered and brought into the warmth of the world’s brightest fireside! But neither of them had the magnanimity of this woman. Though two men have thus leagued themselves together against her, even yet the battle is not lost.

Mr Slope felt pretty sure that Dr Grantly would decline the honour of seeing him, and such turned out to be the case. The archdeacon, when the palace door was opened to him, was greeted by a note. Mr Slope presented his compliments &c, &c. The bishop was ill in his room, and very greatly regretted, &c &c. Mr Slope had been charged with the bishop’s views, and if agreeable to the archdeacon, would do himself the honour &c, &c. The archdeacon, however, was not agreeable, and having read his note in the hall, crumpled it up in his hand, and muttering something about sorrow for his lordship’s illness, took his leave, without sending as much as a verbal message in answer to Mr Slope’s note.

‘Ill!’ said the archdeacon to himself as he flung himself into his brougham. ‘The man is absolutely a coward. He is afraid to see me. Ill, indeed!’ The archdeacon was never ill himself, and did not therefore understand that any one else could in truth be prevented by illness from keeping an appointment. He regarded all such excuses as subterfuges, and in the present instance he was not far wrong.

Dr Grantly desired to be driven to his father-in-law’s lodgings in the High Street, and hearing from the servant that Mr Harding was at his daughter’s, followed him to Mrs Bold’s house, and there he found him. The archdeacon was fuming with rage when he got into the drawing-room, and had by this time nearly forgotten the pusillanimity of the bishop in the villainy of the chaplain.

‘Look at that,’ said he, throwing Mr Slope’s crumpled note to Mr Harding. ‘I am to be told that if I choose I may have the honour of seeing Mr Slope, and that too, after a positive engagement with the bishop.’

‘But he says the bishop is ill,’ said Mr Harding.

‘Pshaw! You don’t mean to say that you are deceived by such an excuse as that. He was well enough yesterday. Now I tell you what, I will see the bishop; and I will tell him also very plainly what I think of his conduct. I will see him, or else Barchester will soon be too hot to hold him.’

Eleanor was sitting in the room, but Dr Grantly had hardly noticed her in his anger. Eleanor now said to him, with the greatest innocence, ‘I wish you had seen Mr Slope, Dr Grantly, because I think perhaps it might have done good.’

The archdeacon turned on her with almost brutal wrath. Had she at once owned that she had accepted Mr Slope for her second husband, he could hardly have felt more convinced of her belonging body and soul to the Slope and Proudie party than he now did on hearing her express such a wish as this. Poor Eleanor!

‘See him,’ said the archdeacon, glaring at her; ‘and why am I be called on to lower myself in the world’s esteem an my own by coming in contact with such a man as that? I have hitherto lived among gentlemen, and do not mean to be dragged into other company by anybody.’

Poor Mr Harding knew well what the archdeacon meant, but Eleanor was as innocent as her own baby. She could not understand how the archdeacon could consider himself to be dragged into bad company by condescending to speak to Mr Slope for a few minutes when the interests of her father might be served by doing so.

‘I was talking for a full hour yesterday with Mr Slope,’ said she, with some little assumption of dignity, ‘and I did not find myself to be lowered by it.’

‘Perhaps not,’ said he. ‘But if you’ll be good enough to allow me, I shall judge for myself in such matters. And I tell you what, Eleanor; it will be much better for you if you will allow yourself to be guided also by the advice of those who are your friends. If you do not you will be apt to find you have no friends left who can advise you.’

Eleanor blushed up to the roots of her hair. But even now she had not the slightest idea of what was passing in the archdeacon’s mind. No thought of love-making or love-receiving had yet found its way to her heart since the death of poor John Bold; and if it were possible that such a thought should spring there, the man must be far different from Mr Slope that could give it birth.

Nevertheless Eleanor blushed deeply, for she felt she was charged with improper conduct, and she did so with the more inward pain because her father did not instantly rally to her side; that father for whose sake and love she had submitted to be the receptacle of Mr Slope’s confidence. She had given a detailed account of all that had passed to her father; and though he had not absolutely agreed with her about Mr Slope’s views touching the hospital, yet he had said nothing to make her think that she had been wrong in talking to him.

She was far too angry to humble herself before her brother- in-law. Indeed, she had never accustomed herself to be very abject before him, and they had never been confidential allies. ‘I do not in the least understand what you mean, Dr Grantly,’ said she. ‘I do not know that I can accuse myself of doing anything that my friends should disapprove. Mr Slope called here expressly to ask what papa’s views were about the hospital; and as I believe he called with friendly intentions I told him.’

‘Friendly intentions!’ sneered the archdeacon.

‘I believe you greatly wrong Mr Slope,’ continued Eleanor; ‘but I have explained this to papa already; and as you do not seem to approve of what I say, Dr Grantly, I will with your permission leave you and papa together,’ and so saying she walked out of the room.

All this made Mr Harding very unhappy. It was quite clear that the archdeacon and his wife had made up their minds that Eleanor was going to marry Mr Slope. Mr Harding could not really bring himself to think that she would do so, but yet he could not deny that circumstances made it appear that the man’s company was not disagreeable to her. She was now constantly seeing him, and yet she received visits from no other unmarried gentleman. She always took his part when his conduct was canvassed, although she was aware how personally objectionable he was to her friends. Then, again, Mr Harding felt that if she should choose to become Mrs Slope, he had nothing that he could justly against her doing so. She had full right to please herself, and he, as a father could not say that she would disgrace herself by marrying a clergyman who stood so well before the world as Mr Slope did. As for quarrelling with his daughter on account of such a marriage, and separating himself from her as the archdeacon had threatened to do, that, with Mr Harding, would be out of the question. If she should determine to marry this man, he must get over his aversion as best he could. His Eleanor, his own old companion in their old happy home, must still be friend of his bosom, the child of his heart. Let who would cast her off, he would not. If it were fated, that he should have to sit in his old age at the same table with a man whom of all men he disliked the most, he would meet his fate as best he might. Anything to him would be preferable to the loss of his daughter.

Such being his feelings, he hardly knew how to take part with Eleanor against the archdeacon, or with the archdeacon against Eleanor. It will be said that he should never have suspected her. Alas! he never should have done so. But Mr Harding was by no means a perfect character. His indecision, his weakness, his proneness to be led by others, his want of self-confidence, he was very far from being perfect. And then it must be remembered that such a marriage as that which the archdeacon contemplated with disgust, which we who know Mr Slope so well would regard with equal disgust, did not appear so monstrous to Mr Harding, because in his charity he did not hate the chaplain as the archdeacon did, and as we do.

He was, however, very unhappy when his daughter left the room, and he had recourse to an old trick of his that was customary to him in his times of sadness. He began playing some slow tune upon an imaginary violoncello, drawing one hand slowly backwards and forwards as though he held a bow in it, and modulating the unreal chords with the other.

‘She’ll marry that man as sure as two and two makes four,’ said the practical archdeacon.

‘I hope not, I hope not,’ said the father. ‘But if she does, what can I say to her? I have no right to object to him.’

‘No right!’ exclaimed Dr Grantly.

‘No right as her father. He is in my own profession, and for aught we know a good man.’

To this the archdeacon would by no means assent. It was not well, however, to argue the case against Eleanor in her own drawing-room, and so they both walked forth and discussed the matter in all the bearings under the elm trees of the close. Mr Harding also explained to his son-in-law what had been the purport, at any rate the alleged purport, of Mr Slope’s last visit to the widow. He, however, stated that he could not bring himself to believe that Mr Slope had any real anxiety such as that he had pretended. ‘I cannot forget his demeanour to myself,’ said Mr Harding, ‘and it is not possible that his ideas should have changed so soon.’

‘I see it all,’ said the archdeacon. ‘The sly tartufe! He thinks to buy the daughter by providing for the father. He means to show how powerful he is, how good he is, and how much he is willing to do for her beaux yeux; yes, I see it all now. But we’ll be too many for him yet, Mr Harding;’ he said, turning to his companion with some gravity, and pressing his hand on the other’s arm. ‘It would, perhaps, be better for you to lose the hospital than get it on such terms.’

‘Lose it!’ said Mr Harding; ‘why I’ve lost it already. I don’t want it. I’ve made up my mind to do without it. I’ll withdraw altogether. I’ll just go and write a line to the bishop and tell him that I withdraw my claim altogether.’

Nothing would have pleased him better than to be allowed to escape from the trouble and difficulty in such a manner. But he was now going too fast for the archdeacon.

‘No–no–no! We’ll do no such thing,’ said Dr Grantly; ‘we’ll still have the hospital. I hardly doubt but that we’ll have it. But not by Mr Slope’s assistance. If that be necessary, we’ll lose it; but we’ll have it, spite of his teeth, if we can. Arabin will be at Plumstead to-morrow; you must come over and talk to him.’

The two now turned into the cathedral library, which was used by the clergymen of the close as a sort of ecclesiastical club-room, for writing sermons and sometimes letters; also for reading theological works, and sometimes magazines and newspapers. The theological works were not disturbed, perhaps, quite as often as from the appearance of the building the outside public might have been led to expect. Here the two allies settled on their course of action. The archdeacon wrote a letter to the bishop, strongly worded, but still respectful, in which he put forward his father-in-law’s claim to the appointment, and expressed his own regret that he had not been able to see his lordship when he called. Of Mr Slope me made no mention whatsoever. It was then settled that Mr Harding should go to Plumstead on the following day; and after considerable discussion on the matter, the archdeacon proposed to ask Eleanor there also, so as to withdraw her, if possible, from Mr Slope’s attentions. ‘A week or two,’ said he, ‘may teach her what he is, and while she is there she will be out of harm’s way. Mr Slope won’t come there after her.’

Eleanor was not a little surprised when her brother-in-law came back and very civilly pressed her to go out to Plumstead with her father. She instantly perceived that her father had been fighting her battles for her behind her back. She felt thankful to him, and for his sake she would not show her resentment to the archdeacon by refusing his invitation. But she could not, she said, go on the morrow; she had an invitation to drink tea at the Stanhopes which she had promised to accept. She would, she added, go with her father on the next day, if he would wait; or she would follow him.

‘The Stanhopes!’ said Dr Grantly; ‘I did not know you were so intimate with them.’

‘I did not know it myself,’ said she, ’till Miss Stanhope called yesterday. However, I like her very much, and I have promised to go and play chess with some of them.’

‘Have they a party there?’ said the archdeacon, still fearful of Mr Slope.

‘Oh, no,’ said Eleanor; ‘Miss Stanhope said there was to be nobody at all. But she had learnt that Mary had left me for a few weeks, and she had learnt from some one that I play chess, and so she came over on purpose to ask me to go in.’

‘Well, that’s very friendly,’ said the ex-warden. ‘They certainly do look more like foreigners than English people, but I dare say they are none the worse for that.’

The archdeacon was inclined to look upon the Stanhopes with favourable eyes, and had nothing to object on the matter. It was therefore arranged that Mr Harding should postpone his visit to Plumstead for one day, and then take with him Eleanor, the baby, and the nurse.

Mr Slope is certainly becoming of some importance in Barchester.



There was much cause for grief and occasional perturbation of spirits in the Stanhope family, but yet they rarely seemed to be grieved or to be disturbed. It was the peculiar gift of each of them that each was able to bear his or her own burden without complaint, and perhaps without sympathy. They habitually looked on the sunny side of the wall, if there was a gleam on the either side for them to look at; and, if there was none, they endured the shade with an indifference which, if not stoical, answered the end at which the Stoics aimed. Old Stanhope could not but feel that he had ill-performed his duties as a father and a clergyman; and could hardly look forward to his own death without grief at the position in which he would leave his family. His income for many years had been as high as L 3000 a year, and yet they had among them no other provision than their mother’s fortune of L 10,000. He had not only spent his income, but was in debt. Yet, with all this, he seldom showed much outward sign of trouble.

It was the same with the mother. If she added little to the pleasures of her children she detracted still less: she neither grumbled at her lot, nor spoke much of her past or future sufferings; as long as she had a maid to adjust her dress, and had those dresses well made, nature with her was satisfied. It was the same with her children. Charlotte never rebuked her father with the prospect of their future poverty, nor did it seem to grieve her that she was becoming an old maid so quickly; her temper was rarely ruffled, and, if we might judge by her appearance, she was always happy. The signora was not so sweet-tempered, but she possessed much enduring courage; she seldom complained–never, indeed, to her family. Though she had a cause for affliction which would have utterly broken down the heart of most women as beautiful as she and as devoid of all religious support, yet, she bore her suffering in silence, or alluded to it only to elicit the sympathy and stimulate the admiration of the men with whom she flirted. As to Bertie, one would have imagined from the sound of his voice and the gleam of his eye that he had not a sorrow nor a care in the world. Nor had he. He was incapable of anticipating tomorrow’s griefs. The prospect of future want no more disturbed his appetite than does that of the butcher’s knife disturb the appetite of the sheep.

Such was the usual tenor of their way; but there were rare exceptions. Occasionally the father would allow an angry glance to fall from his eye, and the lion would send forth a low dangerous roar as though he meditated some deed of blood. Occasionally also Madame Neroni would become bitter against mankind, more than usually antagonistic to the world’s decencies, and would seem as though she was about to break from her moorings and allow herself to be carried forth by the tide of her feelings to utter ruin and shipwreck. She, however, like the rest of them, had no real feelings, could feel no true passion. In that was her security. Before she resolved on any contemplated escapade she would make a small calculation, and generally summed up that the Stanhope villa or even Barchester close was better than the world at large.

They were most irregular in their hours. The father was generally the earliest in the breakfast-parlour, and Charlotte would soon follow and give him coffee; but the others breakfasted anywhere anyhow, and at any time. On the morning after the archdeacon’s futile visit to the palace, Dr Stanhope came down stairs with an ominously dark look about his eyebrows; his white locks were rougher than usual, and he breathed thickly and loudly as he took his seat in his arm-chair. He had open letters in his hand, and when Charlotte came into the room he was still reading them. She went up and kissed him as was her wont, but he hardly noticed her as she did so, and she knew at once that something was the matter.

‘What’s the meaning of that?’ said he, throwing over the table a letter with a Milan post-mark. Charlotte was a little frightened as she took it up, but her mind was relieved when she saw that it was merely the bill of their Italian milliner. The sum total was certainly large, but not so large as to create an important row.

‘It’s for our clothes, papa, for six months before we came here. The three of us can’t dress for nothing you know.’

‘Nothing, indeed!’ said he, looking at the figures, which in Milanese denominations were certainly monstrous.

‘The man should have sent it to me,’ said Charlotte.

‘I wish he had with all my heart–if you would have paid it. I see enough in it, to know that three quarters of it are for Madeline.’

‘She has little else to amuse her, sir,’ said Charlotte with true good nature.

‘And I suppose he has nothing to amuse him,’ said the doctor, throwing over another letter to his daughter. It was from some member of the family of Sidonia, and politely requested the father to pay a small trifle of L 700, being the amount of a bill discounted in favour of Mr Ethelbert Stanhope, and now overdue for a period of nine months.

Charlotte read the letter, slowly folded it up, and put it under the edge of the tea-tray.

‘I suppose he has nothing to amuse him but discounting bills with Jews. Does he think I’ll pay that?’

‘I am sure he thinks no such thing,’ said she.

‘And who does he think will pay it?’

‘As far as honesty goes, I suppose it won’t much matter if it is never paid,’ said she. ‘I dare say he got very little of it.’

‘I suppose it won’t much matter either,’ said the father, ‘if he goes to prison and rots there. It seems to me that that’s the other alternative.’

Dr Stanhope spoke the custom of his youth. But his daughter, though she lived so long abroad, was much more completely versed in the ways of the English world. ‘If the man arrests him,’ said she, ‘he must go through the court.’

It is thus, thou great family of Sidonia–it is thus that we Gentiles treat thee, when, in our most extreme need, thou and thine have aided us with mountains of gold as big as lions–and occasionally with wine-warrants and orders for dozens of dressing-cases.

‘What, and become an insolvent?’ said the doctor.

‘He’s that already,’ said Charlotte, wishing always to get over a difficulty.

‘What a condition,’ said the doctor, ‘for the son of a clergyman of the Church of England.’

‘I don’t see why clergymen’s sons should pay their debts more than other young men,’ said Charlotte.

‘He’s had as much from me since he left school as is held sufficient for the eldest son of many a nobleman,’ said the angry father.

‘Well, sir,’ said Charlotte, ‘give him another chance.’

‘What!’ said the doctor, ‘do you mean that I am to pay that Jew?’

‘Oh, no! I wouldn’t pay him, he must take his chance; and if the worst comes to the worst, Bertie must go abroad. But I want you to be civil to Bertie, and let him remain here as long as we stop. He has a plan in his head, that may put him on his feet after all.’

Just at that moment the door opened, and Bertie came in whistling. The doctor immediately devoted himself to his egg, and allowed Bertie to whistle himself round to his sister’s side without noticing him.

Charlotte gave a little sign to him with her eye, first glancing at her father, and then at the letter, the corner of which peeped out from under the tea-tray. Bertie saw and understood, and with the quiet motion of a cat abstracted the letter, and made himself acquainted with its contents. The doctor, however, had seen him, deep as he appeared to be mersed in his egg-shell, and said in his harshest voice, ‘Well, sir, do you know that gentleman?’

‘Yes, sir,’ said Bertie. ‘I have a sort of acquaintance with him, but none that can justify him in troubling you. If you will allow me, sir, I will answer this.’

‘At any rate I shan’t,’ said the father, and then he added, after a pause, ‘Is it true, sir, that you owe the man L 700?’

‘Well,’ said Bertie, ‘I think I should be inclined to dispute the amount, if I were in a condition to pay him such of it as I really do owe him.’

‘Has he your bill for L 700?’ said the father, speaking very loudly and very angrily.

‘Well, I believe he has,’ said Bertie; ‘but all the money I ever got from him was L 150.’

‘And what became of the L 550?’

‘Why, sir; the commission was L 100, or so, and I took the remainder in paving-stones and rocking-horses.’

‘Paving-stones and rocking-horses!’ said the doctor, ‘where are they?’

‘Oh, sir, I suppose they are in London somewhere–but I’ll inquire if you wish for them.’

‘He’s an idiot,’ said the doctor, ‘and it’s sheer folly to waste more money on him. Nothing can save him from ruin,’ and so saying, the unhappy father walked out of the room.

‘Would the governor like to see the paving-stones?’

‘I’ll tell you what,’ said she. ‘If you don’t take care, you will find yourself loose upon the world without even a house over your head: you don’t know him as well as I do. He’s very angry.’

Bertie stroked his big beard, sipped his tea, chatted over his misfortunes in a half comic, half serious tone, and ended by promising his sister that he would do his very best to make himself agreeable to the widow Bold. Then Charlotte followed her father to his own room and softened down his wrath, and persuaded him to say nothing more about the Jew bill discounter, at any rate for a few weeks. He even went so far as to say he would pay the L 700, or at any rate settle the bill, if he saw a certainty of his son’s securing for himself anything like a decent provision in life. Nothing was said openly between them about poor Eleanor: but the father and the daughter understood each other.

They all met together in the drawing-room at nine o’clock, in perfect good humour with each other; and about that hour Mrs Bold was announced. She had never been in the house before, though she had of course called: and now she felt it strange to find herself there in her usual evening dress, entering the drawing-room of these strangers in this friendly unceremonious way, as though she had known them all her life. But in three minutes they made her at home. Charlotte tripped downstairs and took her bonnet from her, and Bertie came to relieve her from her shawl, and the signora smiled on her as she could smile when she chose to be gracious, and the old doctor shook hands with her in a kind and benedictory manner that went to her heart at once, and made her feel that he must be a good man.

She had not been seated for above five minutes when the door again opened, and Mr Slope was announced. She felt rather surprised, because she was told that nobody was to be there, and it was very evident from the manner of some of them that Mr Slope was unexpected. But still there was not much in it. In such invitations a bachelor or two more or less are always spoken of as nobodies, and there was no reason why Mr Slope should not drink tea at Dr Stanhope’s as well as Eleanor herself. He, however, was very much surprised and not very much gratified at finding that his own embryo spouse made one of the party. He had come there to gratify himself by gazing on Madame Neroni’s beauty, and listening to and returning her flattery: and though he had not owned as much to himself, he still felt that if he spent the evening as he had intended to do, he might probably not thereby advance his suit with Mrs Bold.

The signora, who had no idea of a rival, received Mr Slope with her usual marks of distinction. As he took her hand, she made some confidential communication to him in a low voice, declaring that she had a plan to communicate to him after tea, and was evidently prepared to go on with her work of reducing the chaplain to a state of captivity. Poor Mr Slope was rather beside himself. He thought that Eleanor could not but have learnt from his demeanour that he was an admirer of her own, and he had also flattered himself that the idea was not unacceptable to her. What would she think of him if he now devoted himself to a married woman?

But Eleanor was not inclined to be severe in her criticism on him in that respect, and felt no annoyance of any kind, when she found herself seated between Bertie and Charlotte Stanhope. She had not suspicion of Mr Slope’s intentions; she had no suspicion even of the suspicion of other people; but still she felt well pleased not to have Mr Slope too near to her.

And she was not ill-pleased to have Bertie Stanhope near her. It was rarely indeed that he failed to make an agreeable impression on strangers. With a bishop indeed who thought much of his own dignity it was possible that he might fail, but hardly with a young lady and pretty woman. He possessed the tact of becoming instantly intimate with women without giving rise to any fear of impertinence. He had about him somewhat of the propensities of a tame cat. It seemed quite natural that he should be petted, caressed, and treated with familiar good nature, and that in return he should purr, and be sleek and graceful, and above all never show his claws. Like other tame cats, however, he had his claws, and sometimes, made them dangerous.

When tea was over Charlotte went to the open window and declared loudly that the full harvest moon was much too beautiful to be disregarded, and called them to look at it. To tell the truth, there was but one there who cared much about the moon’s beauty, and that one was not Charlotte; but she knew how valuable an aid to her purpose the chaste goddess might become, and could easily create a little enthusiasm for the purpose of the moment. Eleanor and Bertie were soon with her. The doctor was now quiet in his arm- chair, and Mrs Stanhope in hers, both prepared for slumber.

‘Are you a Whewellite or a Brewsterite, or a t’othermanite, Mrs Bold?’ said Charlotte, who knew a little about everything, and had read about a third of each of the books to which she alluded.

‘Oh!’ said Eleanor; ‘I have not read any of the books, but I feel sure that there is one man in the moon at least, if not more.’

‘You don’t believe in the pulpy gelatinous matter?’ said Bertie.

‘I heard about that,’ said Eleanor; ‘and I really think it’s almost wicked to talk in such a manner. How can we argue about God’s power in the other stars from the laws which he has given for our role in this one?’

‘How indeed!’ said Bertie. ‘Why shouldn’t there be a race of salamanders in Venus? And even if there be nothing but fish in Jupiter, why shouldn’t the fish there be as wide awake as the men and women here?’

‘That would be saying very little for them,’ said Charlotte. ‘I am for Dr Whewell myself; for I do not think that men and woman are worth being repeated in such countless worlds. There may be souls in other stars, but I doubt their having any bodies attached to them. But come, Mrs Bold, let us put our bonnets on and walk round the close. If we are to discuss sidereal questions, we shall do so much better under the towers of the cathedral, than stuck in this narrow window.

Mrs Bold made no objection, and a party was made to walk out. Charlotte Stanhope well knew the rule as to three being no company, and she had therefore to induce her sister to allow Mr Slope to accompany them.

‘Come, Mr Slope,’ she said; ‘I’m sure you’ll join us. We shall be in again in quarter of an hour, Madeline.’

Madeline read in her eye all that she had to say, knew her object, and as she had to depend on her sister for so many of her amusements, she felt that she must yield. It was hard to be left alone while others of her own age walked out to feel the soft influence of the bright night, but it would be harder still without the sort of sanction which Charlotte gave to all her flirtations and intrigues. Charlotte’s eye told her that she must give up just at present for the good of the family, and so Madeline obeyed.

But Charlotte’s eyes said nothing of the sort to Mr Slope. He had no objection at all to the tete-a-tete with the signora, which the departure of the other three would allow him, and gently whispered to her, ‘I shall not leave you alone.’

‘Oh, yes,’ said she; ‘go–pray go, pray go, for my sake. Do not think that I am so selfish. It is understood that nobody is kept within for me. You will understand this too when you know me better. Pray join them, Mr Slope, but when you come in speak to me for five minutes before you leave us.’

Mr Slope understood that he was to go, and he therefore joined the party in the hall. He would have had no objection at all to this arrangement, if he could have secured Mrs Bold’s arm; but this was of course out of the question. Indeed, his fate was very soon settled, for no sooner had he reached the hall-door, than Miss Stanhope put her hand within his arm, and Bertie walked off with Eleanor just as naturally as though she were already his own property.

And so they sauntered forth: first they walked round the close, according to their avowed intent; then they went under the old arched gateway below St Cuthbert’s little church, and then they turned behind the grounds of the bishop’s palace, and so on till they came to the bridge just at the edge of the town, from which passers-by can look down into the gardens of Hiram’s hospital; and her Charlotte and Mr Slope, who were in advance, stopped till the other two came up to them. Mr Slope knew that the gable-ends and old brick chimneys which stood up so prettily in the moonlight, were those of Mr Harding’s late abode, and would not have stopped on such a spot, in such company, if he could have avoided it; but Miss Stanhope would not take the hint which he tried to give.

‘This is a very pretty place, Mrs Bold,’ said Charlotte; ‘by far the prettiest place near Barchester. I wonder your father gave it up.’

It was a very pretty place, and now by the deceitful light of the moon looked twice larger, twice prettier, twice more antiquely picturesque than it would have done in truth-telling daylight. Who does not know the air of complex multiplicity and the mysterious interesting grace which the moon always lends to old gabled buildings half surrounded, as was the hospital, by fine trees! As seen from the bridge on the night of which we are speaking, Mr Harding’s late abode did look very lovely; and though Eleanor did not grieve at her father’s having left it, she felt at the moment an intense wish that he might be allowed to return.

‘He is going to return to it immediately, is he not?’ asked Bertie.

Eleanor made no immediate reply. Much such a question passed unanswered, without the notice of the questioner; but such was not now the case. They all remained silent as though expecting her to reply, and after a moment or two, Charlotte said, ‘I believe it is settled that Mr Harding returns to the hospital, is it not?’

‘I don’t think anything about it is settled yet,’ said Eleanor.

‘But it must be a matter of course,’ said Bertie; ‘that is, if your father wishes it; who else on earth could hold it after what has occurred?’

Eleanor quietly made her companion to understand that the matter was one which she could not discuss in the present company; and then they passed on; Charlotte said she would go a short way up the hill out of the town so as to look back on the towers of the cathedral, and as Eleanor leant upon Bertie’s arm for assistance in the walk, she told him how the matter stood between her father and the bishop.

‘And, he,’ said Bertie, pointing on to Mr Slope, ‘what part does he take in it?’

Eleanor explained how Mr Slope had at first endeavoured to tyrannize over her father, but how he had latterly come round, and done all he could to talk the bishop over in Mr Harding’s favour. ‘But my father,’ said she, ‘is hardly inclined to trust him; they all say he is so arrogant to the old clergyman of the city.’

‘Take my word for it,’ said Bertie, ‘your father is right. If I am not very much mistaken, that man is both arrogant and false.’

They strolled up the top of the hill, and then returned through the fields by a footpath which leads by a small wooden bridge, or rather a plank with a rustic rail to it, over the river to the other side of the cathedral from that at which they had started. They had thus walked round the bishop’s grounds, through which the river runs, and round the cathedral and adjacent fields, and it was past eleven before they reached the doctor’s door.

‘It is very late,’ said Eleanor, ‘it will be a shame to disturb your mother at such an hour.’

‘Oh,’ said Charlotte, laughing, ‘you won’t disturb mamma; I dare say she is in bed by this time, and Madeline would be furious if you do not come in and see her. Come, Bertie, take Mrs Bold’s bonnet from her.’

They went up stairs, and found the signora alone, reading. She looked somewhat sad and melancholy, but not more so perhaps than was sufficient to excite additional interest in the bosom of Mr Slope; and she was soon deep in whispered intercourse with that happy gentleman, who was allowed to find a resting-place on her sofa. The signora had a way of whispering that was peculiarly her own, and was exactly the reverse of that which prevails among great tragedians. The great tragedian hisses out a positive whisper, made with bated breath, and produced by inarticulate tongue-formed sounds, but yet he is audible through the whole house. The signora however used no hisses, and produced all her words in a clear silver tone, but they could only be heard by the ear into which they were poured.

Charlotte hurried and skurried about the room hither and thither, doing, or pretending to do many things; and then saying something about seeing her mother, ran up stairs. Eleanor was then left alone with Bertie, and she hardly felt and hour fly by her. To give Bertie his due credit, he could not have played his cards better. He did not make love to her, nor sigh, nor look languishing; but he was amusing and familiar, yet respectful; and when he left Eleanor at her own door at one o’clock, which he did by the bye with the assistance of the now jealous Slope, she thought he was one of the most agreeable men, and the Stanhopes decidedly the most agreeable family, that she had ever met.



The Reverend Francis Arabin, fellow of Lazarus, late professor of poetry at Oxford, and present vicar of St Ewold, in the diocese of Barchester, must now be introduced personally to the reader. And as he will fill a conspicuous place in this volume, it is desirable that he should be made to stand before the reader’s eye by the aid of such portraiture as the author is able to produce.

It is to be regretted that no mental method of daguerreotype or photography has yet been discovered, by which the characters of men can be reduced to writing and put into grammatical language with an unerring precision of truthful description. How often does the novelist feel, ay, and the historian also and the biographer, that he has conceived within his mind and accurately depicted on the tablet of his brain the full character and personage of a man, and that nevertheless, when he flies to pen and ink to perpetuate the portrait, his words forsake, elude, disappoint, and play the deuce with him, till at the end of a dozen pages the man described has no more resemblance to the man conceived than the sign board at the corner of the street has to the Duke of Cambridge?

And yet such mechanical descriptive skill would hardly give more satisfaction to the reader than the skill of the photographer does to the anxious mother desirous to possess an absolute duplicate of her beloved child. The likeness is indeed true; but it is a dull, dead, unfeeling, inauspicious likeness. The face is indeed there, and those looking at it will know at once whose image it is; but the owner of the face will not be proud of the resemblance.

There is no royal road to learning; no short cut to the acquirement of any art. Let photographers and daguerreotypers do what they will, and improve as they may with further skill on that which skill has already done, they will never achieve a portrait of the human face as we may under the burdens which we so often feel too heavy for our shoulders; we must either bear them up like men, or own ourselves too weak for the work we have undertaken. There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.

Labor omnia vincit improbus. Such should be the chosen motto of every labourer, and it may be that labour, if adequately enduring, may suffice at last to produce even some not untrue resemblance of the Rev. Francis Arabin.

Of his doings in the world, and of the sort of fame which he has achieved, enough has already been said. It has also been said that he is forty years of age, and still unmarried. He was the younger son of a country gentleman of small fortune in the north of England. At an early age he went to Winchester, and was intended by his father for New College; but though studious as a boy, he was not studious within the prescribed limits; and at the age of eighteen he left school with a character for talent, but without a scholarship. All that he had obtained, over and above the advantage of his character, was a gold medal for English verse, and hence was derived a strong presumption on the part of his friends that he was destined to add another name to the imperishable list of English poets.

From Winchester he went to Oxford, and was entered as a commoner at Balliol. Here his special career very soon commenced. He utterly eschewed the society of fast men, gave no wine parties, kept no horses, rowed no boats, joined no rows, and was the pride of his college tutor. Such at least was his career till he had taken his little go; and then he commenced a course of action which, though not less creditable to himself as a man, was hardly so much to the taste of his tutor. He became a member of a vigorous debating society, and rendered himself remarkable there for humorous energy. Though always in earnest, yet his earnestness was always droll. To be true in his ideas, unanswerable in his syllogisms, and just in his aspirations was not enough for him. He had failed, failed in his own opinion as well as that of others when others came to know him, if he could not reduce the arguments of his opponents to an absurdity, and conquer both by wit and reason. To say that his object was ever to raise a laugh, would be most untrue. He hated such common and unnecessary evidence of satisfaction on the part of his hearers. A joke that required to be laughed at was, with him, not worth uttering. He could appreciate by a keener sense than that of his ears the success of his wit, and would see in the eyes of his auditory whether or no he was understood and appreciated.

He had been a religious lad before he left school. That is, he had addicted himself to a party of religion, and having done so had received that benefit which most men do who become partisans in such a cause. We are much too apt to look at schism in our church as an unmitigated evil. Moderate schism, if there may be such a thing, at any rate calls attention to the subject, draws its supporters who would otherwise have been inattentive to the matter, and teaches men to think about religion. How great an amount of good of this description has followed that movement of the Church of England which commenced with the publication of Froude’s Remains!

As a boy young Arabin took up the cudgels on the side of the Tractarians, and at Oxford he sat for a while at the feet of the great Newman. To this cause he lent all his faculties. For it he concocted verses, for it he made speeches, for it he scintillated the brightest sparks of his quiet wit. For it he ate and drank and dressed, and had his being. In due process of time he took his degree, and wrote himself B.A., but he did not do so with any remarkable amount of academical eclat. He had occupied himself too much with high church matters, and the polemics, politics, and outward demonstrations usually concurrent with high churchmanship, to devote himself with sufficient vigour to the acquisition of a double first. He was not a double first, nor even a first class man; but he revenged himself on the university by putting first and double firsts out of fashion for the year, and laughing down a species of pedantry which at the age of twenty-three leaves no room in a man’s mind for graver subjects than conic sections or Greek accents.

Greek accents, however, and conic sections were esteemed necessaries at Balliol, and there was no admittance there for Mr Arabin within the list of its fellows. Lazarus, however, the richest and the most comfortable abode of Oxford dons, opened its bosom to the young champion of a church militant. Mr Arabin was ordained, and became a fellow soon after taking his degree, and shortly after that was chosen professor of poetry.

And now came the moment of his great danger. After many mental struggles, and an agony of doubt which may be well surmised, the great prophet of the Tractarians confessed himself a Roman Catholic. Mr Newman left the Church of England, and with him carried many a waverer. He did not carry off Mr Arabin, but the escape which that gentleman had was a very narrow one. He left Oxford for a while that he might meditate in complete peace on the step which appeared for him to be all but unavoidable, and shut himself up in a little village on the sea-shore of one of our remotest counties, that he might learn by communing with his own soul whether or no he could with a safe conscience remain within the pale of his mother church.

Things would have gone badly with him there had he been left entirely to himself. Every thing was against him: all his worldly interests required him to remain a Protestant; and he looked on his worldly interests as a legion of foes, to get the better of whom was a point of extremest honour. In his then state of ecstatic agony such a conquest would have cost him little; but it cost him much to get over the idea of choosing the Church of England he should be open in his own mind to the charge that he had been led to such a choice by unworthy motives. Then his heart was against him: he loved with a strong and eager love the man who had hitherto been his guide, and yearned to follow his footsteps. His tastes were against him: the ceremonies and pomps of the Church of Rome, their august feasts and solemn fasts, invited his imagination and pleased his eye. His flesh was against him: how great an aid would it be to a poor, weak, wavering man to be constrained to high moral duties, self-denial, obedience, and chastity by laws which were certain in their enactments, and not to be broken without loud, palpable, unmistakable sin! Then his faith was against him: he required to believe so much; panted so early to give signs of his belief; deemed it so insufficient to wash himself simply in the waters of Jordan; that some great deed, such as that of forsaking everything for a true church, had for him allurements almost past withstanding.

Mr Arabin was at this time a very young man, and when he left Oxford for his far retreat was much too confident in his powers of fence, and too apt to look down on the ordinary sense of ordinary people, to expect aid in the battle that he had to fight from any chance inhabitants on the spot which he had selected. But Providence was good to him; and there, in that all but desolate place, on the storm-beat shore of that distant sea, he met one who gradually changed his mind, quieted his imagination, and taught him something of a Christian’s duty. When Mr Arabin left Oxford, he was inclined to look upon the rural clergymen of most English parishes almost with contempt. It was his ambition, should he remain within the fold of the church, to do somewhat towards redeeming and rectifying their inferiority, and to assist in infusing energy and faith into the hearts of Christian ministers, who were, as he thought, too often satisfied to go through life without much show of either.

And yet it was from such a one that Mr Arabin in his extremest need received that aid which he so much required. It was from a poor curate of a small Cornish parish that he first learnt to know that the highest laws for the governance of a Christian’s duty must act from within and not from without; that no man can become a serviceable servant solely by obedience to written edicts; and that the safety which he was about to seek within the gates of Rome was no other than the selfish freedom from personal danger which the bad soldier attempts to gain who counterfeits illness on the eve of battle.

Mr Arabin returned to Oxford a humbler but a better and a happier man; and from that time forth he put his shoulder to the wheel as a clergyman of the Church for which he had been educated. The intercourse of those among whom he familiarly lived kept him staunch to the principles of that system of the Church to which he had always belonged. Since his severance from Mr Newman, no one had had so strong an influence over him as the head of his college. During the time of his expected apostasy, Dr Gwynne had not felt much predisposition in favour of the young fellow. Though a High Churchman himself within moderate limits, Dr Gwynne felt no sympathy with men who could not satisfy their faiths with the Thirty-nine Articles. He regarded the enthusiasm of such as Newman as a state of mind more nearly allied to madness than to religion; and when he saw it evinced by a very young men, was inclined to attribute a good deal of it to vanity. Dr Gwynne himself, though a religious man, was also a thoroughly practical man of the world, and he regarded with no favourable eye the tenets of any one who looked on the two things as incompatible. When he found Mr Arabin was a half Roman, he began to regret all that he done towards bestowing a fellowship on so unworthy a recipient; and when again he learnt that Mr Arabin would probably complete his journey to Rome, he regarded with some satisfaction the fact that in such case the fellowship would be again vacant.

When, however, Mr Arabin returned and professed himself a confirmed Protestant, the master of Lazarus again opened his arms to him, and gradually he became the pet of the college. For some little time he was saturnine, silent, and unwilling to take any prominent part in university broils; but gradually his mind recovered, or rather made its tone, and he became known as a man always ready at a moment’s notice to take up the cudgels in opposition to anything which savoured of an evangelical bearing. He was great in sermons, great on platforms, great at after dinner conversations, and always pleasant as well as great. He took delight in elections, served on committees, opposed tooth and nail all projects of university reform, and talked jovially over his glass of port of the ruin to be committed by the Whigs. The ordeal through which he had gone, in resisting the blandishments of the lady of Rome, had certainly done much towards the strengthening of his character. Although in small and outward matters he was self-confident enough, nevertheless in things affecting the inner man he aimed at a humility of spirit which would never have been attractive to him but for that visit to the coast of Cornwall. This visit he now repeated every year.

Such is an interior view of Mr Arabin at the time when he accepted the living of St Ewold. Exteriorly, he was not a remarkable person. He was above the middle height, well made, and very active. His hair which had been jet black, was now tinged with gray, but his face bore no sign of years. It would perhaps be wrong to say that he was handsome, but his face was, nevertheless, high for beauty, and the formation of the forehead too massive and heavy: but his eyes, nose and mouth were perfect. There was a continual play of lambent fire about his eyes, which gave promise of either pathos or humour whenever he essayed to speak, and that promise was rarely broken. There was a gentle play about his mouth which declared that his wit never descended to sarcasm, and that there was no ill-nature in his repartee.

Mr Arabin was a popular man among women, but more so as a general than a special favourite. Living as a fellow at Oxford, marriage with him had been out of the question, and it may be doubted whether he had ever allowed his heart to be touched. Though belonging to a Church in which celibacy is not the required lot of its ministers, he had come to regard himself as one of those clergymen to whom to be a bachelor is almost a necessity. He had never looked for parochial duty, and his career at Oxford was utterly incompatible with such domestic joys as a wife and nursery. He looked on women, therefore, in the same light that one sees then regarded by many Romish priests. He liked to have near him that which was pretty and amusing, but women generally were little more to him than children. He talked to them without putting out all his powers, and listened to them without any idea that what he should hear from them could either actuate his conduct or influence his opinion.

Such was Mr Arabin, the new vicar of St Ewold, who is going to stay with the Grantlys, at Plumstead Episcopi.

Mr Arabin reached Plumstead the day before Mr Harding and Eleanor, and the Grantly family were thus enabled to make his acquaintance and discuss his qualifications before the arrival of the other guests. Griselda was surprised to find that he looked so young; but she told Florinda her younger sister, when they had retired for the night, that he did not talk at all like a young man: and she decided with the authority that seventeen has over sixteen, that he was not at all nice, although his eyes were lovely. As usual, sixteen implicitly acceded to the dictum of seventeen in such a matter, and said that he certainly was not nice. They then branched off on the relative merits of other clerical bachelors in the vicinity, and both determined without any feeling of jealousy between them that a certain Rev. Augustus Green was by many degrees the most estimable of the lot. The gentleman in question had certainly much in his favour, as, having a comfortable allowance from his father, he could devote the whole proceeds of his curacy to violet gloves and unexceptionable neck ties. Having thus fixedly resolved that the new comer had nothing about him to shake the pre-eminence of the exalted Green, the two girls went to sleep in each other’s arms, contented with themselves and the world.

Mrs Grantly at first sight came to much the same conclusion about her husband’s favourite as her daughters had done, though, in seeking to measure his relative value, she did not compare him to Mr Green; indeed, she made no comparison by name between him and any one else; but she remarked to her husband that one person’s swans were very often another person’s geese, thereby clearly showing that Mr Arabin had not yet proved his qualifications in swanhood to her satisfaction.

‘Well, Susan,’ said he, rather offended at hearing his friend spoken of so disrespectfully, ‘if you take Mr Arabin for a goose, I cannot say that I think very highly of your discrimination.’

‘A goose! No of course, he’s not a goose. I’ve no doubt he’s a very clever man. But you’re so matter-of-fact, archdeacon, when it suits your purpose, that one can’t trust oneself to any facon de parler. I’ve no doubt Mr Arabin is a very valuable man–at Oxford, and that he’ll be a good vicar at St Ewold. All I mean is, that having passed one evening with him, I don’t find him to be absolutely a paragon. In the first place, if I am not mistaken, he is a little inclined to be conceited.’

‘Of all the men that I know intimately,’ said the archdeacon, ‘Arabin is, in my opinion, the most free from any taint of self-conceit. His fault is that he’s too diffident.’

‘Perhaps so,’ said the lady; ‘only I must own I did not find it out this evening.’

Nothing further was said about him. Dr Grantly thought that his wife was abusing Mr Arabin merely because he had praised him; and Mrs Grantly knew that it was useless arguing for or against any person in favour of, or in opposition to whom the archdeacon had already pronounced a strong opinion.

In truth they were both right. Mr Arabin was a diffident man in social intercourse with those whom he did not intimately know; when placed in situations which it was his business to fill, and discussing matters with which it was his duty to be conversant, Mr Arabin was from habit brazed-faced enough. When standing on a platform in Exeter Hall, no man would be less mazed than he by the eyes of the crowd before him; for such was the work which his profession had called on him to perform; but he shrank from a strong expression of opinion in general society, and his doing so not uncommonly made it appear that he considered the company not worth the trouble of his energy. He was averse to dictate when the place did not seem to him to justify dictation; and as those subjects on which people wished to hear him speak were such as he was accustomed to treat with decision, he generally shunned the traps there were laid to allure him into discussion, and, by doing so, not unfrequently subjected himself to such charges as those brought against him by Mrs Grantly.

Mr Arabin, as he sat at his open window, enjoying the delicious moonlight and gazing at the gray towers of the church, which stood almost within the rectory grounds, little dreamed that he was the subject of so many friendly or unfriendly criticisms. Considering how much we are all given to discuss the characters of others, and discuss them often not in the strictest spirit of charity, it is singular how little we are inclined to think that others can speak ill-naturedly of us, and how angry and hurt we are when proof reaches us that they have done so. It is hardly too much to say that we all of us occasionally speak of our dearest friends in a manner which those dearest friends would very little like to hear themselves mentioned; and that we nevertheless expect that our dearest friends shall invariably speak of us as though they were blind to all our faults, but keenly alive to every shade of our virtues.

It did not occur to Mr Arabin that he was spoken of at all. It seemed to him, when he compared himself with his host, that he was a person of so little consequence to any, that he was worth no one’s words or thoughts. He was utterly alone in the world as regarded domestic ties and those inner familiar relations which are hardly possible between others than husbands and wives, parents and children, or brothers and sisters. He had often discussed with himself the necessity of such bonds for a man’s happiness in this world, and had generally satisfied himself with the answer that happiness in this world was not a necessity. Herein he deceived himself, or rather tried to do so. He, like others, yearned for the enjoyment of whatever he saw enjoyable; and though he attempted, with the modern stoicism of so many Christians, to make himself believe that joy and sorrow were matters which here should be held as perfectly indifferent, those things were not indifferent to him. He was tired of his Oxford rooms and his college life. He regarded the wife and children of his friend with something like envy; he all but coveted the pleasant drawing-room, with its pretty windows opening on to lawns and flower-beds, the apparel of the comfortable house, and–above all–the air of home which encompassed all.

It will be said that no time can have been fitted for such desires on his part as this, of a living among fields and gardens, of a house which a wife would grace. It is true there was a difference between the opulence of Plumstead and the modest economy of St Ewold; but surely Mr Arabin was not a man to sigh after wealth! Of all men, his friends would have unanimously declared he was the last to do so. But how little our friends know us! In his period of stoical rejection of this world’s happiness, he had cast from him as utter dross all anxiety as to fortune. He had, as it were, proclaimed himself to be indifferent to promotion, and those who chiefly admired his talents, and would mainly have exerted to secure them their deserved reward, had taken him at his word. And now, if the truth must out, he felt himself disappointed–disappointed not by them but by himself. The daydream of his youth was over, and at the age of forty he felt that he was not fit to work in the spirit of an apostle. He had mistaken himself, and learned his mistake when it was past remedy. He had professed himself indifferent to mitres and diaconal residences, to rich livings and pleasant glebes, and now he had to own to himself that he was sighing for the good things of other men, on whom in his pride he had ventured to look down.

Not for wealth, in its vulgar sense, had he ever sighed; not for the enjoyment of rich things had he ever longed; but for the allotted share of worldly bliss, which a wife, and children, and happy home could give him, for that usual amount of comfort which he had ventured to reject as unnecessary for him, he did now feel that he would have been wiser to search.

He knew that his talents, his position, and his friends would have won for him promotion, had he put himself in the way of winning it. Instead of doing so, he had allowed himself an income of some L 300 a year, should he, by marrying, throw up his fellowship. Such, at the age of forty, was the worldly result of labour, which the world had chosen to regard as successful. The world also thought that Mr Arabin was, in his own estimation, sufficiently paid. Alas! alas! the world was mistaken; and Mr Arabin was beginning to ascertain that such was the case.

And here, may I beg the reader not to be hard in the judgement upon this man. Is not the state at which he has arrived, the natural result of efforts to reach that which is not the condition of humanity? Is not modern stoicism, built though it be on Christianity, as great an outrage on human nature as was the stoicism of the ancients? The philosophy of Zeno was built on true laws, but on true laws misunderstood, and therefore misapplied. It is the same with our Stoics here, who would teach us that wealth and worldly comfort and happiness on earth are not worth the search. Also, for a doctrine which can find no believing pupils and no true teachers!

The case of Mr Arabin was the more singular, as he belonged to a branch of the Church of England well inclined to regard its temporalities with avowed favour, and had habitually lived with men who were accustomed to much worldly comfort. But such was his idiosyncrasy, that these very facts had produced within him, in early life, a state of mind that was not natural to him. He was content to be a High Churchman, if he could be so on principles of his own, and could strike out a course showing a marked difference from those with whom he consorted. He was ready to be a partisan as long as he was allowed to have a course of action and of thought unlike that of his party. His party had indulged him, and he began to feel that his party was right and himself wrong, but when such a conviction was too late to be of service to him. He discovered, when much was discovery was no longer serviceable, that it would have been worth his while to have worked for the usual pay assigned to work in this world, and have earned a wife and children, with a carriage for them to sit in; to have earned a pleasant dining-room, in which his friends could drink his wine, and the power of walking up in the high street of his country town, with the knowledge that all its tradesmen would have gladly welcomed him within their doors. Other men arrived at those convictions in their start of life, and so worked up to them. To him they had come when they were too late to be of use.

It has been said that Mr Arabin was a man of pleasantry and it may be thought that such a state of mind as that described, would be antagonistic to humour. But surely such is not the case. Wit is the outward mental casing of the man, and has no more to do with the inner mind of thought and feelings than have the rich brocaded garments of the priest at the altar with the asceticism of the anchorite below them, whose skin is tormented with sackcloth, and whose body is half flayed with rods. Nay, will not such a one often rejoice more than any other in the rich show of outer apparel? Will it not be food for his pride to feel that he groans inwardly, while he shines outwardly? So it is with the mental efforts which men make. Those which they show forth daily to the world are often the opposites of the inner workings of the spirit.

In the archdeacon’s drawing-room, Mr Arabin had sparkled with his usual unaffected brilliancy, but when he retired to his bed-room, he sat there sad, at his open window, repining within himself that he also had no wife, no bairns, no soft award of lawn duly mown for him to be on, no herd of attendant curates, no bowings from the banker’s clerks, no rich rectory. That apostleship that he had thought of had evaded his grasp, and he was now only vicar of St Ewold’s, with a taste for a mitre. Truly he had fallen between two stools.



When Mr Harding and Mrs Bold reached the rectory on the following morning, the archdeacon and his friend were at St Ewold’s. They had gone over that the new vicar might inspect his church, and be introduced to the squire, and were not expected back before dinner. Mr Harding rambled out by himself, and strolled, as was his wont at Plumstead, about the lawn and round the church; and as he did so, the two sisters naturally fell into conversation about Barchester.

There was not much sisterly confidence between them. Mrs Grantly was ten years older than Eleanor, and had been married while Eleanor was yet a child. They had never, therefore, poured into each other’s ears their hopes and loves; and now that one was a wife and the other a widow, it was not probable that they would begin to do so. They lived too much asunder to be able to fall into that kind of intercourse which makes confidence between sisters almost a necessity; and, moreover, that which is so easy at eighteen is often very difficult at twenty-eight. Mrs Grantly knew this, and did not, therefore, expect confidence from her sister; and yet she longed to ask her whether in real truth Mr Slope was agreeable to her.

It was by no means difficult to turn the conversation to Mr Slope. That gentleman had become so famous at Barchester, had so much to do with all clergymen connected with the city, and was so specially concerned in the affairs of Mr Harding, that it would have been odd if Mr Harding’s daughters had not talked about him. Mrs Grantly was soon abusing him, which she did with her whole heart; and Mrs Bold was nearly as eager to defend him. She positively disliked the man, would have been delighted to learn that he had taken himself off so that she should never see him again, had indeed almost a fear of him, and yet she constantly found herself taking his part. The abuse of other people, and abuse of a nature that she felt to be unjust, imposed that necessity on her, and at last made Mr Slope’s defence an habitual course of argument with her.

From Mr Slope the conversation turned to the Stanhopes, and Mrs Grantly was listening with some interest to Eleanor’s account of the family, when it dropped out that Mr Slope was one of the party.

‘What!’ said the lady of the rectory, ‘was Mr Slope there too?’

Eleanor merely replied that such had been the case.

‘Why, Eleanor, he must be very fond of you, I think; he seems to follow you everywhere.’

Even this did not open Eleanor’s eyes. She merely laughed, and said that she imagined Mr Slope found other attraction at Dr Stanhope’s. And so they parted. Mrs Grantly felt quite convinced that the odious match would take place; and Mrs Bold as convinced that that unfortunate chaplain, disagreeable as he must be allowed to be, was more sinned against than sinning.

The archdeacon of course heard before dinner that Eleanor had remained the day before at Barchester with the view of meeting Mr Slope, and that she had so met him. He remembered how she had positively stated that there were to be guests at the Stanhopes, and he did not hesitate to accuse her of deceit. Moreover, the fact, or rather the presumed fact, of her being deceitful on such a matter, spoke but too plainly in evidence against her as to her imputed crime of receiving Mr Slope as a lover.

‘I am afraid that anything we can do will be too late,’ said the archdeacon. ‘I own I am fairly surprised. I never liked your sister’s taste with regard to men; but still I did not give her credit for–ugh!’

‘And so soon, too,’ said Mrs Grantly, who thought more, perhaps, of her sister’s indecorum in having a lover before she had put off her weeds, than her bad taste in having such a lover as Mr Slope.

‘Well, my dear, I shall be sorry to be harsh, or to do anything that can hurt your father; but, positively, neither that man nor his wife shall come within my doors.’

Mrs Grantly sighed, and then attempted to console herself and her lord by remarking that, after all, the thing was not accomplished yet. Now that Eleanor was at Plumstead, much might be done to wean her from her fatal passion. Poor Eleanor!

The evening passed off without anything to make it remarkable. Mr Arabin discussed the parish of St Ewold with the archdeacon, and Mrs Grantly and Mr Harding, who knew the parsonages of the parish, joined in. Eleanor also knew them, but spoke little. Mr Arabin did not apparently take much notice of her, and she was not in a humour to receive at that time with any special grace any special favourite of her brother-in-law. Her first idea on reaching her bedroom was that a much more pleasant family party might be met at Dr Stanhope’s than at the rectory. She began to think that she was getting tired of clergymen and their respectable humdrum wearisome mode of living, and that after all, people in the outer world, who had lived in Italy, London, or elsewhere, need not necessarily be regarded as atrocious and abominable. The Stanhopes, she had thought, were a giddy, thoughtless, extravagant set of people; but she had seen nothing wrong about them, and had, on the other hand, found that they thoroughly knew how to make their house agreeable. It was a thousand pities, she thought, that the archdeacon should not have a little of the same savoir vivre. Mr Arabin, as we have said, did not apparently take much notice of her; but yet he did not go to bed without feeling that he had been in company with a very pretty woman; and as is the case with most bachelors, and some married men, regarded the prospect of his month’s visit at Plumstead in a pleasanter light, when he learnt that a very pretty woman was to share it with him.

Before they all retired it was settled that the whole party should drive over on the following day to inspect the parsonage at St Ewold. The three clergymen were to discuss dilapidations, and the two ladies were to lend their assistance in suggesting such changes as might be necessary for a bachelor’s abode. Accordingly, soon after breakfast, the carriage was at the door. There was only room for four inside, and the archdeacon got upon the box. Eleanor found herself opposite to Mr Arabin, and was, therefore, in a manner forced into conversation with him. They were soon on comfortable terms together; and had she thought about it, she would have thought that, in spite of his black cloth, Mr Arabin would not have been a bad addition to the Stanhope family party.

Now that the archdeacon was away, they could all trifle. Mr Harding began by telling them in the most innocent manner imaginable an old legend about Mr Arabin’s new parish. There was, he said, in days of yore, an illustrious priestess of St Ewold, famed through the whole country for curing all manner of diseases. She had a well, as all priestesses have ever had, which well was extant to this day, and shared in the minds of many of the people the sanctity which belonged to the consecrated grounds of the parish church. Mr Arabin declared that he should look on such tenets on the part of the parishioners as anything but orthodox. And Mrs Grantly replied that she so entirely disagreed with him as to think that no parish was in a proper estate that had not its priestess as well as its priest. ‘The duties are never well done,’ said she, ‘unless they are so divided.’

‘I suppose, papa,’ said Eleanor, ‘that in the oldest times the priestess bore all the sway herself. Mr Arabin, perhaps, thinks that such might be too much the case now if a sacred lady were admitted within the parish.’

‘I think, at any rate,’ said he, ‘that it is safer to run no such risk. No priestly pride has ever exceeded that of sacerdotal females. A very lowly curate, I might, perhaps, essay to rule; but a curatess would be sure to get the better of me.’

‘There are certainly examples of such accidents happening,’ said Mrs Grantly. ‘They do say that there is a priestess at Barchester who is very imperious in all things touching the altar. Perhaps the fear of such a fate as that is before your eyes.’

When they were joined by the archdeacon on the gravel before the vicarage, they descended again to grave dullness. Not that Archdeacon Grantly was a dull man; but his frolic humours were of a cumbrous kind; and his wit, when he was witty, did not generally extend itself to his auditory. On the present occasion, he was soon making speeches about wounded roofs and walls, which he declared to be in want of some surgeon’s art. There was not a partition that he did not tap, nor a block of chimneys that he did not narrowly examine; all water-pipes, flues, cisterns, and sewers underwent his examination; and he even descended, in the care of his friend, so far as to bore sundry boards in the floors with a bradawl.

Mr Arabin accompanied him through the rooms, trying to look wise in such domestic matters, and the other three also followed. Mrs Grantly showed that she herself had not been priestess of a parish twenty years for nothing, and examined the bells and window panes in a very knowing way.

‘You will, at any rate, have a beautiful prospect out of your own window, if this is to be your private sanctum,’ said Eleanor. She was standing at the lattice of a little room up stairs, from which the view certainly was very lovely. It was from the back of the vicarage, and there was nothing to interrupt the eye between the house and the glorious gray pile of the cathedral. The intermediate ground, however, was beautifully studded with timber. In the immediate foreground ran the little river which afterwards skirted the city; and, just to the right of the cathedral the pointed gables and chimneys of Hiram’s Hospital peeped out of the elms which encompass it.

‘Yes,’ said he, joining her. ‘I shall have a beautifully complete view of my adversaries. I shall sit down before the hostile town, and fire away at them at a very pleasant distance. I shall just be able to lodge a shot in the hospital, should the enemy ever get possession of it; and as for the palace, I have it within full range.’

‘I never saw anything like you clergymen,’ said Eleanor; ‘you are always thinking of fighting each other.’

‘Either that,’ said he, ‘or else supporting each other. The pity is that we cannot do the one without the other. But are we not here to fight? Is not ours a church militant? What is all our work but fighting, and hard fighting, if it be well done?’

‘But not with each other.’

‘That’s as it may be. The same complaint which you make of me for battling with another clergyman of our own church, the Mahometan would make against me for battling with the error of a priest of Rome. Yet, surely, you would not be inclined to say that I should be wrong to do battle with such as him. A pagan, too, with his multiplicity of gods, would think it equally odd that the Christian and the Mahometan should disagree.’

‘Ah! But you wage your wars about trifles so bitterly.’

‘Wars about trifles,’ said he, ‘are always bitter, especially among neighbours. When the differences are great, and the parties comparative strangers, men quarrel with courtesy. What combatants are ever so eager as two brothers?’

‘But do not such contentions bring scandal on the church?’

‘More scandal would fall on the church if there were no such contentions. We have but one way to avoid them–that of acknowledging a common head of our church, whose word on all points of doctrine shall be authoritative. Such a termination of our difficulties is alluring enough. It has charms which are irresistible to many, and all but irresistible, I own, to me.’

‘You speak now of the Church of Rome?’ said Eleanor.

‘No,’ said he, ‘not necessarily the Church of Rome; but of a church with a head. Had it pleased God to vouchsafe to us such a church our path would have been easy. But easy paths have not been thought good for us.’ He paused and stood silent for a while, thinking of the time when he had so nearly sacrificed all he had, his powers of mind, his free agency, the fresh running waters of his mind’s fountain, his very inner self, for an easy path in which no fighting would be needed; and then he continued: ‘What you say is partly true; our contentions do bring on us some scandal. The outer world, though it constantly reviles us for our human infirmities, and throws in our teeth the fact that being clergymen we are still no more then men, demands of us that we should do our work with godlike perfection. There is nothing godlike about us: we differ from each other with the acerbity common to man–we allow differences on subjects of divine origin to produce among us antipathies and enmities which are anything but divine. This is all true. But what would you have in place of it? There is no infallible head for a church on earth. This dream of believing man has been tried, and we see in Italy and in Spain what has become of it. Grant that there are and have been no bickerings within the pale of the Pope’s Church. Such an assumption would be utterly untrue; but let us grant it, and then let us say which church has incurred the heaviest scandals.’

There was a quiet earnestness about Mr Arabin, as he half acknowledged and half defended himself from the charge brought against him, which surprised Eleanor. She had been used all her life to listen to clerical discussion; but the points at issue between the disputants had so seldom been of more than temporal significance as to have left on her mind no feeling of reverence for such subjects. There had always been a hard worldly leaven of the love either of income or power in the strains that she had heard; there had been no panting for the truth; no aspirations after religious purity. It had always been taken for granted by those around her that they were indubitably right, that there was no ground for doubt, that the hard uphill work of ascertaining what the duty of a clergyman should be had been already accomplished in full; and that what remained for an active militant parson to do, was to hold his own against all comers. Her father, it is true, was an exception to this; but then he was so essentially non-militant in all things, that she classed him in her own mind apart from all others. She had never argued the matter within herself, or considered whether this common tone was or was not faulty; but she was sick of it without knowing that she was so. And now she found to her surprise and not without a certain pleasurable excitement, that this new comer among them spoke in a manner very different from that to which she was accustomed.

‘It is so easy to condemn,’ said he, continuing the thread of his thoughts. ‘I know no life that must be so delicious as that of a writer for newspapers, or a leading member of the opposition–to thunder forth accusations against men in power; show up the worst side of every thing that is produced; to pick holes in every coat; to be indignant, sarcastic, jocose, moral, or supercilious; to damn with faint praise, or crush with open calumny! What can be so easy as this when the critic has to be responsible for nothing? You condemn what I do; but put yourself in my position and do the reverse, and then see if I cannot condemn you.’

‘Oh! Mr Arabin, I do not condemn you.’

‘Pardon me, you do, Mrs Bold–you as one of the world; you are now the opposition member; you are now composing your leading article, and well and bitterly you do it. “Let dogs delight to bark and bite;” you fitly began with an elegant quotation; “but if we are to have a church at all, in heaven’s name let the pastors who preside over it keep their hands from each other’s throats. Lawyers can live without befouling each other’s names; doctors do not fight duels. Why is that clergymen alone should indulge themselves in such unrestrained liberty of abuse against each other?” and so you go on reviling us for our ungodly quarrels, our sectarian propensities, and scandalous differences. It will, however, give you no trouble to write another article next week in which we, or some of us, shall be twitted with an unseemly apathy in matters of our vocation. It will not fall on you to reconcile the discrepancy; your readers will never ask you how the poor parson is to be urgent in season and out of season, and yet never come in contact with men who think widely differently from him. You, when you condemn this foreign treaty, or that official arrangement, will have to incur no blame for the graver faults of any different measure. It is so easy to condemn; and so pleasant too; for eulogy charms no listeners as detraction does.’

Eleanor only half followed him in his raillery; but she caught his meaning. ‘I know I ought to apologise for presuming to criticise you,’ she said; ‘but I was thinking with sorrow of the ill-will that has lately come among us at Barchester, and I spoke more freely than I should have done.’

‘Peace on earth and good-will among men, are, like heaven, promises for the future;’ said he, following rather his own thoughts than hers. ‘When that prophecy is accomplished, there will no longer be any need for clergymen.’

Here they were interrupted by the archdeacon, whose voice was heard from the cellar shouting to the vicar.

‘Arabin, Arabin,’–and then turning to his wife, who was apparently at his elbow–‘where is he gone to? This cellar is perfectly abominable. It would be murder to put a bottle of wine into it till it has been roofed, walled, and floored. How on earth old Goodenough ever got on with it, I cannot guess. But then Goodenough never had a glass of wine that any man could drink.’

‘What is it, archdeacon?’ said the vicar, running down stairs, and leaving Eleanor above to her meditations.

‘This cellar must be roofed, walled, and floored,’ repeated the archdeacon. ‘Now mind what I say, and don’t let the architect persuade you that it will do; half of those fellows know nothing about wine. This place as it is now would be damp and cold in winter, and hot and muggy in summer. I wouldn’t give a straw for the best wine that ever was minted, after it had lain here a couple of years.’

Mr Arabin assented, and promised that the cellar should be reconstructed according to the archdeacon’s receipt.

‘And, Arabin, look here; was such an attempt at a kitchen grate ever seen?’

‘The grate is really very bad,’ said Mrs Grantly; ‘I am sure the priestess won’t approve of it, when she is brought here to the scene of future duties. Really, Mr Arabin, no priestess accustomed to such an excellent well as that above could put up with such a grate as this.’

‘If there must be a priestess at St Ewold’s at all, Mrs Grantly, I think we shall leave her to her well, and not call down her divine wrath on any of the imperfections rising from our human poverty. However, I own I am amenable to the attractions of a well-cooked dinner, and the grate shall certainly be changed.’

By this time the archdeacon had again ascended, and was now in the dining-room. ‘Arabin,’ said he, speaking in his usual loud clear voice, and with that tone of dictation which was so common to him; ‘you must positively alter this dining-room, that is, remodel it altogether; look here, it is just sixteen feet by fifteen; did anybody ever hear of a dining-room of such proportions?’ and the archdeacon stepped the room long-ways and cross-ways with ponderous steps, as though a certain amount of ecclesiastical dignity could be imparted even to such an occupation as that by the manner of doing it. ‘Barely sixteen; you may call it a square.’

‘It would do very well for a round table,’ suggested the ex-warden.

Now there was something peculiarly unorthodox in the archdeacon’s estimation in the idea of a round table. He had always been accustomed to a goodly board of decent length, comfortably elongating itself according to the number of guests, nearly black with perpetual rubbing, and as bright as a mirror. Now round dinner tables are generally of oak, or else of such new construction as not to have acquired the peculiar hue which was so pleasing to him. He connected them with what he called the nasty new fangled method of leaving cloth on the table, as though to warn people that they were not to sit long. In his eyes there was something democratic and parvenu in a round table. He imagined that dissenters and calico-printers chiefly used them, and perhaps a few literary lions more conspicuous for their wit than their gentility. He was a little flurried at the idea of such an article, being introduced into the diocese by a protege of his own, and at the instigation of his father-in-law.

‘A round dinner-table,’ said he, with some heat, ‘is the most abominable article of furniture that ever was invented. I hope that Arabin has more taste than to allow such a thing in his house.’

Poor Mr Harding felt himself completely snubbed, and of course said nothing further; but Mr Arabin, who had yielded submissively in the small matters of the cellar and kitchen grate, found himself obliged to oppose reforms which might be of a nature too expensive for his pocket.

‘But it seems to me, archdeacon, that I can’t very well lengthen the room without pulling down the wall, and if I pull down the wall, I must build it up again; then if I throw out a bow on this side, I must do the same on the other, then if I do it for the ground floor, I must carry it up to the floor above. That will be putting a new front to the house, and will cost, I suppose, a couple of hundred pounds. The ecclesiastical commissioners will hardly assist me when they hear that my grievance consists in having a dining-room only sixteen feet long.’

The archdeacon proceeded to explain that nothing would be easier than adding six feet to the front of the dining-room, without touching any other of the house. Such irregularities of construction in small country houses were, he said, rather graceful than otherwise, and he offered to pay for the whole thing out of his own pocket if it cost more than forty pounds. Mr Arabin, however, was firm, and, although the archdeacon fussed and fumed about it, would not give way.

Forty pounds, he said, was a matter of serious moment to him, and his friends, if under such circumstances they would be good-natured enough to come to him at all, must put up with the misery of a square room. He was willing to compromise matters by disclaiming any intention of having a round table.

‘But,’ said Mrs Grantly, ‘what if the priestess insists on have both the rooms enlarged?’

‘The priestess in that case must do it for herself, Mrs Grantly.’

‘I have no doubt she will be well able to do so,’ replied the lady; ‘to do that and many more wonderful things. I am quite sure that the priestess of St Ewold, when she does come, won’t come empty-handed.’

Mr Arabin, however, did not appear well inclined to enter into speculative expenses on such a chance as this, and therefore, any material alterations in the house, the cost of which could not fairly be made to lie at the door either of the ecclesiastical commission or of the estate of the late incumbent, were tabooed. With this essential exception, the archdeacon ordered, suggested, and carried all points before him in a manner very much to his own satisfaction. A close observer, had there been one there, might have seen that his wife had been quite as useful in the matter as himself. No one knew better than Mrs Grantly the appurtenances necessary to a comfortable house. She did not, however, think it necessary to lay claim to any of the glory which her lord and master was so ready to appropriate as his own.

Having gone through their work effectively, and systematically, the party returned to Plumstead well satisfied with their expedition.



On the following Sunday Mr Arabin was to read himself in at his new church. It was agreed at the rectory that the archdeacon should go over with him and assist at the reading-desk, and that Mr Harding should take the archdeacon’s duty at Plumstead Church. Mrs Grantly had her school and her buns to attend to, and professed that she