Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


Mr Harding was not a happy man as he walked down the palace pathway, and stepped out into the close. His preferment and pleasant house were a second time gone from him; but that he could endure. He had been schooled and insulted by a man young enough to be his son; but that he could put up with. He could even draw from the very injuries, which had been inflicted on him, some of that consolation, which we may believe martyrs always receive from the injuries of their own sufferings, and which is generally proportioned in it strength to the extent of cruelty with which martyrs are treated. He had admitted to his daughter that he wanted the comfort of his old home, and yet he could have returned to his lodgings in the High Street, if not with exultation, at least with satisfaction, had that been all. But the venom of the chaplain's harangue had worked into his blood, and had sapped the life of his sweet contentment.

'New men are carrying out new measures, and are eating away the useless rubbish of past centuries.' What cruel words these had been; and how often are they now used with all the heartless cruelty of a Slope! A man is sufficiently condemned if it can only be shown that either in politics or religion he does not belong to some new school established within the last score of years. He may then regard himself as rubbish and expect to be carted away. A man is nothing now unless he has within him a full appreciation of the new era; an ear in which it would seem that neither honesty nor truth is very desirable, but in which success is the only touchstone of merit. We must laugh at every thing that is established. Let the joke be ever so bad, ever so untrue to the real principles of joking; nevertheless we must laugh--or else beware the cart. We must talk, think, and live up to the spirit of the times, and write up to it too, if that cacoethes be upon us, or else we are nought. New men and now measures, long credit and few scruples, great success and wonderful ruin, such are now the tastes of Englishmen who know how to live. Alas, alas! under the circumstances Mr Harding could not but feel that he was an Englishman who did not know how to live. This new doctrine of Mr Slope and the rubbish cart, new at least at Barchester, sadly disturbed his equanimity.

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