Anthony Trollope: Barchester Towers


The bishop and his wife had only spent three or four days in Barchester on the occasion of their first visit. His lordship had, as we have seen, taken his seat on his throne; but his demeanour there, into which it had been his intention to infuse much hierarchical dignity, had been a good deal disarranged by the audacity of his chaplain's sermon. He had hardly dared to look his clergy in the face, and to declare by the severity of his countenance that in truth he meant all that his factotum was saying on his behalf; nor yet did he dare throw Mr Slope over, and show to those around him that he was no party to the sermon, and would resent it.

He had accordingly blessed his people in a shambling manner, not at all to his own satisfaction, and had walked back to his palace with his mind very doubtful as to what he would say to his chaplain on the subject. He did not remain long in doubt. He had hardly doffed his lawn when the partner of all his toils entered his study, and exclaimed even before she had seated herself--

'Bishop, did you ever hear a more sublime, more spirit-moving, more appropriate discourse than that?'

'Well, my love; ha-hum-he!' The bishop did not know what to say.

'I hope, my lord, you don't mean to say you disapprove?'

There was a look about the lady's eye which did not admit of my lord's disapproving at that moment. He felt that if he intended to disapprove, it must be now or never; but he also felt that it could not be now. It was not in him to say to the wife of his bosom that Mr Slope's sermon was ill-timed, impertinent and vexatious.

'No, no,' replied the bishop. 'No, I can't say I disapprove--a very clever sermon and very well intended, and I dare say will do a great deal of good.' This last praise was added, seeing that what he had already said by no means satisfied Mrs Proudie.

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