Barchester Towers HTML version

1. Hiram's Hospital According To Act Of Parliament
It is hardly necessary that I should here give to the public any lengthened biography of
Mr Harding, up to the period of the commencement of this tale. The public cannot have
forgotten how ill that sensitive gentleman bore the attack that was made upon him in the
columns of the Jupiter, with reference to the income which he received as warden of
Hiram's Hospital, in the city of Barchester. Nor can it be forgotten that a law-suit was
instituted against him on the matter of that charity by Mr John Bold, who afterwards
married his, Mr Harding's, younger and then only unmarried daughter. Under the
pressure of these attacks, Mr Harding had resigned his wardenship, though strongly
recommended to abstain from doing so, both by his friends and his lawyers. He did,
however, resign it, and betook himself manfully to the duties of the small parish of St.
Cuthbert's, in the city, of which he was vicar, continuing also to perform those of
precentor of the cathedral, a situation of small emoluments which had hitherto been
supposed to be joined, as a matter of course, to the wardenship of the hospital above
spoken of.
When he left the hospital from which he had been so ruthlessly driven, and settled
himself down in his own modest manner in the High Street of Barchester, he had not
expected that others would make more fuss about it than he was inclined to do himself;
and the extent of his hope was, that the movement might have been made in time to
prevent any further paragraphs in the Jupiter. His affairs, however, were not allowed to
subside thus quietly, and people were quite as much inclined to talk about the
disinterested sacrifice he had made, as they had before been to upbraid him for his
The most remarkable thing that occurred, was the receipt of an autographed letter from
the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which the primate very warmly praised his conduct,
and begged to know what his intentions were for the future. Mr Harding replied that he
intended to be rector of St. Cuthbert's in Barchester; and so that matter dropped. Then
the newspapers took up his case, the Jupiter among the rest, and wafted his name in
eulogistic strains through every reading-room in the nation. It was discovered also, that
he was the author of that great musical work, Harding's Church Music,--and a new
edition was spoken of, though, I believe, never printed. It is, however, certain that the
work was introduced into the Royal Chapel at St James's, and that a long criticism
appeared in the Musical Scrutator, declaring that in no previous work of its kind had so
much research been joined with such exalted musical ability, and asserting that the
name of Harding would henceforward be known wherever the Arts were cultivated, or
Religion valued.
This was high praise, and I will not deny that Mr Harding was gratified by such flattery;
for if Mr Harding was vain on any subject, it was on that of music. But here the matter
rested. The second edition, if printed, was never purchased; the copies which had been
introduced into the Royal Chapel disappeared again, and were laid by in peace, with a