Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers

6. CHAPTER VI: WAR (continued)

'Well, he did not seem very bright,' said Mr Harding, 'and yet he has always had the reputation of a clever man. I suppose he's cautious and not inclined to express himself very freely.'

The new bishop of Barchester was already so contemptible a creature in Dr Grantly's eyes, that he could not condescend to discuss his character. He was a puppet to be played by others; a mere wax doll, done up in an apron and a shovel hat, to be stuck on a throne or elsewhere and pulled about by wires as others chose. Dr Grantly did not choose to let himself down low enough to talk about Dr Proudie; but he saw that he would have to talk about the other members of his household, the coadjutor bishops, who had brought his lordship down, as it were, in a box, and were about to handle the wires as they willed. This in itself was a terrible vexation to the archdeacon. Could he have ignored the chaplain, and have fought the bishop, there would have been, at any rate, nothing degrading in such a contest. Let the Queen make whom she would bishop of Barchester; a man, or even an ape, when once a bishop, would be a respectable adversary, if he would but fight, himself. But what was such a person as Dr Grantly to do, when such another person as Mr Slope was put forward as his antagonist?

If he, our archdeacon, refused to combat, Mr Slope would walk triumphant over the field, and have the diocese of Barchester under his heel.

If, on the other hand, the archdeacon accepted as his enemy the man whom the new puppet bishop put before him as such, he would have to talk about Mr Slope, and write about Mr Slope, and in all matters treat with Mr Slope, as a being standing, in some degree, on ground similar to his own. He would have to meet Mr Slope; to--Bah! The idea was sickening. He could not bring himself to have to do with Mr Slope.

'He is the most thoroughly bestial creature that ever I set my eyes upon,' said the archdeacon.

'Who--the bishop?'

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