Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


This was a dreadful blow to Dr Grantly. Nothing could possibly have suited him better than having Mr Harding in the deanery. Though he had never looked down on Mr Harding on account of his great poverty, he did fully recognise the satisfaction of having those belonging to him in comfortable positions. It would be much more suitable that Mr Harding should be dean of Barchester than vicar of St Cuthbert's and precentor to boot. And then the great discomfiture of that arch enemy of all that was respectable in Barchester, of that new low church clerical parvenu that had fallen amongst them, that alone would be worth more, almost than the situation itself. It was frightful to think that such unhoped for good fortune should be marred by the absurd crotchets and unwholesome hallucinations by which Mr Harding allowed himself to be led astray. To have the cup so near his lips and then to lose the drinking of it, was more than Dr Grantly could endure.

And yet it appears as though he would have to endure it. In vain he threatened and in vain he coaxed. Mr Harding did not indeed speak with perfect decision of refusing the proffered glory, but he would not speak with anything like decision of accepting it. When pressed again and again, he would again and again allege that he was wholly unfitted to new duties. It was in vain that the archdeacon tried to insinuate, though he could not plainly declare, that there were no new duties to perform. It was in vain he hinted that in all cases of difficulty he, the archdeacon, was willing and able to guide a weak-minded dean. Mr Harding seemed to have a foolish idea, not only that there were new duties to do, and that no one should accept the place who was not himself prepared to do them.

The conference ended in an understanding that Mr Harding should at once acknowledge the letter he had received from the minister's private secretary, and should beg that he might be allowed two days to make up his mind; and that during those two days the matter should be considered.

On the following morning the archdeacon was to drive Mr Harding back to Barchester.

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