Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


Of the Rev. Mr Slope's parentage I am not able to say much. I have heard it asserted that he is lineally descended from that eminent physician who assisted at the birth of Mr T. Shandy, and that in early years he added an 'e' to his name, for the sake of euphony, as other great men have done before him. If this be so, I presumed he was christened Obadiah, for that is his name, in commemoration of the conflict in which his ancestor so distinguished himself. All my researches on the subject have, however, failed in enabling me to fix the date on which the family changed its religion.

He had been a sizar at Cambridge, and had there conducted himself at any rate successfully, for in due process of time he was an MA, having university pupils under his care. From thence he was transferred to London, and became preacher at a new district church built on the confines of Baker Street. He was in this position when congenial ideas on religious subjects recommended him to Mrs Proudie, and the intercourse had become close and confidential.

Having been thus familiarly thrown among the Misses Proudie, it was more than natural that some softer feeling than friendship should be engendered. There have been some passages of love between him and the eldest hope, Olivia; but they have hitherto resulted in no favourable arrangement. In truth, Mr Slope, having made a declaration of affection, afterwards withdrew it on finding that the doctor had no immediate worldly funds with which to endow his child; and it may easily be conceived that Miss Proudie, after such an announcement on his part, was not readily disposed to receive any further show of affection. On the appointment of Dr Proudie to the bishopric of Barchester, Mr Slope's views were, in truth, somewhat altered. Bishops, even though they be poor, can provide for clerical children, and Mr Slope began to regret that he had not been more disinterested. He no sooner heard the tidings of the doctor's elevation, than he recommenced his siege, not violently, indeed, but respectfully, and at a distance. Olivia Proudie, however, was a girl of spirit: she had the blood of two peers in her veins, and, better still, she had another lover on her books; so Mr Slope sighed in vain; and the pair soon found it convenient to establish a mutual bond of inveterate hatred.

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