Barchester Towers HTML version

3. The Bishop's Chaplain
Of the Rev. Mr Slope's parentage I am not able to say much. I have heard it asserted
that he is lineally descended from that eminent physician who assisted at the birth of Mr
T. Shandy, and that in early years he added an 'e' to his name, for the sake of euphony,
as other great men have done before him. If this be so, I presumed he was christened
Obadiah, for that is his name, in commemoration of the conflict in which his ancestor so
distinguished himself. All my researches on the subject have, however, failed in
enabling me to fix the date on which the family changed its religion.
He had been a sizar at Cambridge, and had there conducted himself at any rate
successfully, for in due process of time he was an MA, having university pupils under
his care. From thence he was transferred to London, and became preacher at a new
district church built on the confines of Baker Street. He was in this position when
congenial ideas on religious subjects recommended him to Mrs Proudie, and the
intercourse had become close and confidential.
Having been thus familiarly thrown among the Misses Proudie, it was more than natural
that some softer feeling than friendship should be engendered. There have been some
passages of love between him and the eldest hope, Olivia; but they have hitherto
resulted in no favourable arrangement. In truth, Mr Slope, having made a declaration of
affection, afterwards withdrew it on finding that the doctor had no immediate worldly
funds with which to endow his child; and it may easily be conceived that Miss Proudie,
after such an announcement on his part, was not readily disposed to receive any further
show of affection. On the appointment of Dr Proudie to the bishopric of Barchester, Mr
Slope's views were, in truth, somewhat altered. Bishops, even though they be poor, can
provide for clerical children, and Mr Slope began to regret that he had not been more
disinterested. He no sooner heard the tidings of the doctor's elevation, than he
recommenced his siege, not violently, indeed, but respectfully, and at a distance. Olivia
Proudie, however, was a girl of spirit: she had the blood of two peers in her veins, and,
better still, she had another lover on her books; so Mr Slope sighed in vain; and the pair
soon found it convenient to establish a mutual bond of inveterate hatred.
It may be thought singular that Mrs Proudie's friendship for the young clergyman should
remain firm after such an affair; but, to tell the truth, she had known nothing of it.
Though very fond of Mr Slope herself, she had never conceived the idea that either of
her daughters would become so, and remembering that their high birth and social
advantages, expected for them matches of a different sort. Neither the gentleman nor
the lady found it necessary to enlighten her. Olivia's two sisters had each known of the
affair, so had all the servants, so had all the people living in the adjoining houses on
either side; but Mrs Proudie had been kept in the dark.
Mr Slope soon comforted himself with the reflection that, as he had been selected as
chaplain to the bishop, it would probably be in his power to get the good things in the