Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


For the last week or ten days, Mr Slope had seen nothing of Mrs Proudie, and very little of the bishop. He still lived in the palace, and still went through his usual routine work; but the confidential doings of the diocese had passed into other hands. He had seen this clearly, and marked it well; but it had not much disturbed him. He had indulged in other hopes till the bishop's affairs had become dull to him, and he was moreover aware that, as regarded the diocese, Mrs Proudie had checkmated him. It has been explained, in the beginning of these pages, how three or four were contending together as to who, in fact, should be bishop of Barchester. Each of them had now admitted to himself (or boasted to herself) that Mrs Proudie was victorious in the struggle. They had gone through a competitive examination of considerable severity, and she had come forth the winner, facile princeps. Mr Slope had, for a moment, run her hard, but it was only for a moment. It had become, as it were, acknowledged that Hiram's hospital should be the testing point between them, and now Mr Quiverful was already in the hospital, the proof of Mrs Proudie's skill and courage.

All this did not break Mr Slope's spirit, because he had other hopes. But, alas, at last there came to him a note from his friend Sir Nicholas, informing him that the deanship was disposed of. Let us give Mr Slope his due. He did not lie prostrate, under this blow, or give himself to vain lamentations; he did not henceforward despair of life, and call upon gods above and gods below to carry him off. He sat himself down in his chair, counted out what monies he had in hand, for present purposes, and what others were coming to him, bethought himself as to the best sphere for his future exertions, and at once wrote off a letter to a rich sugar- refiner's wife in Baker Street, who, as he well knew, was much given to the entertainment and encouragement of serious young evangelical clergymen. He was again, he said, 'upon the world, having found the air of a cathedral town, and the very nature of cathedral services, uncongenial to his spirit'; and then he sat awhile, making firm resolves as to his manner of parting from the bishop, and also as to his future conduct.

'At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue,
To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new.'

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