Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


The bishop still remained silent. He was anxiously desirous of making his old enemy bite the dust beneath his feet. His new ally had told him that nothing was more easy for him than to do so. The ally was there now at his elbow to help him, and yet his courage failed him. It is so hard to conquer when the prestige of the former victories is all against one. It is so hard for the cock who has once been beaten out of his yard to resume his courage and again take a proud place upon a dunghill.

'Perhaps I ought not to interfere,' said Mr Slope, 'but yet--'

'Certainly you ought not,' said the infuriated dame.

'But yet,' continued Mr Slope, not regarding the interruption, 'I have thought it my imperative duty to recommend to the bishop not to slight Mr Harding's claims.'

'Mr Harding should have known his own mind,' said the lady.

'If Mr Harding be not replaced at the hospital, his lordship will have to encounter much ill will, not only in the diocese, but in the world at large. Besides, taking a higher ground, his lordship, as I understood, feels it to be his duty to gratify, in this matter, so very worthy a man and so good a clergyman as Mr Harding.'

'And what is to become of the Sabbath-day school, and of the Sunday services in the hospital?' said Mrs Proudie, with something very nearly approaching to a sneer on her face.

'I understand that Mr Harding makes no objection to the Sabbath-day school,' said Mr Slope. 'And as to the hospital services, that matter will be best discussed after his appointment. If he has any personal objection, then, I fear, the matter must rest.'

'You have a very easy conscience in such matters, Mr Slope,' said she.

'I should not have an easy conscience,' he rejoined, 'but a conscience very far from being easy, if anything said or done by me should lead the bishop to act unadvisedly on this matter. It is clear that in the interview I had with Mr Harding, I misunderstood him--'

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