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2. Dr And Mrs Proudie
This narrative is supposed to commence immediately after the installation of Dr
Proudie. I will not describe the ceremony, as I do not precisely understand its nature.
I am ignorant whether a bishop be chaired like a member of parliament, or carried in
a gilt coach like a lord mayor, or sworn in like a justice of the peace, or introduced
like a peer to the upper house, or led between two brethren like a knight of the
garter; but I do know that every thing was properly done, and that nothing fit or
becoming to a young bishop was omitted on the occasion.
Dr Proudie was not the man to allow anything to be omitted that might be becoming
to his new dignity. He understood well the value of forms, and knew that the due
observations of rank could not be maintained unless the exterior trappings belonging
to it were held in proper esteem. He was a man born to move in high circles; at least
so he thought himself and circumstances had certainly sustained him in this view.
He was the nephew of a Irish baron by his mother's side, and his wife was the niece
of a Scottish earl. He had for years held some clerical office appertaining to courtly
matters, which had enabled him to live in London, and to entrust his parish to his
curate. He had been a preacher to the royal beefeaters, curator of theological
manuscripts in the Ecclesiastical Courts, chaplain of the Queen's Yeomanry Guard,
and almoner to his Royal Highness the Prince of Rappe-Blankenburg.
His residence in the metropolis, rendered necessary by the duties entrusted to him,
his high connections, and the peculiar talents and nature of the man, recommended
him to persons in power; and Dr Proudie became known as a useful and rising
Some few years since, even within the memory of many who are not yet willing to
call themselves old, a liberal clergyman was a person not frequently to be met.
Sydney Smith was such, and was looked on as a little better than an infidel; a few
others also might be named, but they were 'rarae aves', and were regarded with
doubt and distrust by their brethren. No man was so surely a tory as a country
rector--nowhere were the powers that be so cherished as at Oxford.
When, however, Dr Whately was made an archbishop, and Dr Hampden some years
afterwards regius professor, many wise divines saw that a change was taking place
in men's minds, and that more liberal ideas would henceforward be suitable to the
priests as well as to the laity. Clergymen began to be heard of who had ceased to
anathematise papists on the one hand, or vilify dissenters on the other. It appeared
clear that high church principles, as they are called, were no longer to be the surest
claims to promotion with at any rate one section of statesmen, and Dr Proudie was
one among those who early in life adapted himself to the views held by the whigs on
most theological and religious subjects. He bore with the idolatry of Rome, tolerated