Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


It is now three months since Dr Proudie began his reign, and changes had already been affected in the diocese which show at least the energy of an active mind. Among other things, absentee clergymen have been favoured with hints much too strong to be overlooked. Poor dear old Bishop Grantly had on this matter been too lenient, and the archdeacon had never been inclined to be severe with those who were absent on reputable pretences, and who provided for their duties in a liberal way.

Among the greatest of the diocesan sinners in this respect was Dr Vesey Stanhope. Years had now passed since he had done a day's duty; and yet there was no reason against his doing duty except a want of inclination on his own part. He held a prebendal stall in the diocese; one of the best residences in the close; and the two large rectories of Crabtree Canonicorum, and Stogpingum. Indeed, he had the cure of three parishes, for that of Eiderdown was joined to Stogpingum. He had resided in Italy for twelve years. His first going there had been attributed to a sore throat; and that sore throat, though never repeated in any violent manner had stood him in such stead, that it had enabled him to live in easy idleness ever since.

He had now been summoned home,--not indeed, with rough violence, or by any peremptory command, but by a mandate which he found himself unable to disregard. Mr Slope had written to him by the bishop's desire. In the first place, the bishop much wanted the valuable co-operation of Dr Vesey Stanhope in the diocese; in the next, the bishop thought it his imperative duty to become personally acquainted with the most conspicuous of his diocesan clergy; then the bishop thought it essentially necessary for Dr Stanhope's own interests, that Dr Stanhope should, at any rate for a time, return to Barchester; and lastly, it was said that so strong a feeling was at the present moment evinced by the hierarchs of the church with reference to the absence of its clerical members, that it behoved Dr Vesey Stanhope not to allow his name to stand among those which would probably in a few months be submitted to the councils of the nation.

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