5. A Morning Visit
It was known that Dr Proudie would immediately have to reappoint to the wardenship of
the hospital under the act of Parliament to which allusion has been made; but no one
imagined that any choice was left to him--no one for a moment thought that he could
appoint any other than Mr Harding. Mr Harding himself, when he heard how the matter
had been settled, without troubling himself much on the subject, considered it as certain
that he would go back to his pleasant house and garden. And though there would be
much that was melancholy, nay, almost heartrending, in such a return, he still was glad
that it was to be so. His daughter might probably be persuaded to return there with him.
She had, indeed, all but promised to do so, though she still entertained an idea that the
greatest of mortals, that important atom of humanity, that little god upon earth, Johnny
Bold her baby, ought to have a house of his own over his head.
Such being the state of Mr Harding's mind in the matter, he did not feel any peculiar
personal interest in the appointment of Dr Proudie to the bishopric. He, as well as others
at Barchester, regretted that a man should be sent among them who, they were aware,
was not of their way of thinking; but Mr Harding himself was not a bigoted man on points
of church doctrine, and he was quite prepared to welcome Dr Proudie to Barchester in a
graceful and becoming manner. He had nothing to seek and nothing to fear; he felt that
it behoved him to be on good terms with his bishop, and he did not anticipate any
obstacle that would prevent it.
In such a frame of mind he proceeded to pay his respects at the palace the second day
after the arrival of the bishop and his chaplain. But he did not go alone. Dr Grantly
proposed to accompany him, and Mr Harding was not sorry to have a companion, who
would remove from his shoulders the burden of conversation in such an interview. In the
affair of the consecration of Dr Grantly had been introduced to the bishop, and Mr
Harding had also been there. He had, however, kept himself in the background, and he
was now to be presented to the great man for the first time.
The archdeacon's feelings were of a much stronger nature. He was not exactly the man
to overlook his own slighted claims, or to forgive the preference shown to another. Dr
Proudie was playing Venus to his Juno, and he was prepared to wage an internecine
war against the owner of the wished for apple, and all his satellites private chaplains,
Nevertheless, it behoved him also to conduct himself towards the intruder as an old
archdeacon should conduct himself to an incoming bishop; and though he was well
aware of all Dr Proudie's abominable opinions as regarded dissenters, church reform,
the hebdomadal council, and such like; though he disliked the man, and hated the
doctrines, still he was prepared to show respect to the station of the bishop. So he and
Mr Harding called together at the palace.