Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


This narrative is supposed to commence immediately after the installation of Dr Proudie. I will not describe the ceremony, as I do not precisely understand its nature. I am ignorant whether a bishop be chaired like a member of parliament, or carried in a gilt coach like a lord mayor, or sworn in like a justice of the peace, or introduced like a peer to the upper house, or led between two brethren like a knight of the garter; but I do know that every thing was properly done, and that nothing fit or becoming to a young bishop was omitted on the occasion.

Dr Proudie was not the man to allow anything to be omitted that might be becoming to his new dignity. He understood well the value of forms, and knew that the due observations of rank could not be maintained unless the exterior trappings belonging to it were held in proper esteem. He was a man born to move in high circles; at least so he thought himself and circumstances had certainly sustained him in this view. He was the nephew of a Irish baron by his mother's side, and his wife was the niece of a Scottish earl. He had for years held some clerical office appertaining to courtly matters, which had enabled him to live in London, and to entrust his parish to his curate. He had been a preacher to the royal beefeaters, curator of theological manuscripts in the Ecclesiastical Courts, chaplain of the Queen's Yeomanry Guard, and almoner to his Royal Highness the Prince of Rappe-Blankenburg.

His residence in the metropolis, rendered necessary by the duties entrusted to him, his high connections, and the peculiar talents and nature of the man, recommended him to persons in power; and Dr Proudie became known as a useful and rising clergyman.

Some few years since, even within the memory of many who are not yet willing to call themselves old, a liberal clergyman was a person not frequently to be met. Sydney Smith was such, and was looked on as a little better than an infidel; a few others also might be named, but they were 'rarae aves', and were regarded with doubt and distrust by their brethren. No man was so surely a tory as a country rector--nowhere were the powers that be so cherished as at Oxford.

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