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6. CHAPTER VI - "BARCHESTER TOWERS" AND THE "THREE CLERKS" - 1855-1858 (continued)
The lawyer Chaffanbrass made his first appearance in this novel, and I do not think that I have cause to be ashamed of him. But this novel now is chiefly noticeable to me from the fact that in it I introduced a character under the name of Sir Gregory Hardlines, by which I intended to lean very heavily on that much loathed scheme of competitive examination, of which at that time Sir Charles Trevelyan was the great apostle. Sir Gregory Hardlines was intended for Sir Charles Trevelyan,--as any one at the time would know who had taken an interest in the Civil Service. "We always call him Sir Gregory," Lady Trevelyan said to me afterwards, when I came to know her and her husband. I never learned to love competitive examination; but I became, and am, very fond of Sir Charles Trevelyan. Sir Stafford Northcote, who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer, was then leagued with his friend Sir Charles, and he too appears in The Three Clerks under the feebly facetious name of Sir Warwick West End.
But for all that The Three Clerks was a good novel.
When that sale was made I was on my way to Italy with my wife, paying a third visit there to my mother and brother. This was in 1857, and she had then given up her pen. It was the first year in which she had not written, and she expressed to me her delight that her labours should be at an end, and that mine should be beginning in the same field. In truth they had already been continued for a dozen years, but a man's career will generally be held to date itself from the commencement of his success. On those foreign tours I always encountered adventures, which, as I look back upon them now, tempt me almost to write a little book of my long past Continental travels. On this occasion, as we made our way slowly through Switzerland and over the Alps, we encountered again and again a poor forlorn Englishman, who had no friend and no aptitude for travelling. He was always losing his way, and finding himself with no seat in the coaches and no bed at the inns. On one occasion I found him at Coire seated at 5 A. M. in the coupe of a diligence which was intended to start at noon for the Engadine, while it was his purpose to go over the Alps in another which was to leave at 5.30, and which was already crowded with passengers. "Ah!" he said, "I am in time now, and nobody shall turn me out of this seat," alluding to former little misfortunes of which I had been a witness. When I explained to him his position, he was as one to whom life was too bitter to be borne. But he made his way into Italy, and encountered me again at the Pitti Palace in Florence. "Can you tell me something?" he said to me in a whisper, having touched my shoulder. "The people are so ill-natured I don't like to ask them. Where is it they keep the Medical Venus?" I sent him to the Uffizzi, but I fear he was disappointed.
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