Barchester Towers HTML version

6. War
'Good heavens!' exclaimed the archdeacon, as he placed his foot on the gravel walk of
the close, and raising his hat with one hand, passed the other somewhat violently over
his now grizzled locks; smoke issued from the uplifted beaver as it were a cloud of
wrath, and the safety-valve of his anger opened, and emitted a visible steam, preventing
positive explosion and probably apoplexy. 'Good heavens!'--and the archdeacon looked
up to the gray pinnacles of the cathedral tower, making a mute appeal to that still living
witness which had looked down on the doings of so many bishops of Barchester.
'I don't think I shall ever like that Mr Slope,' said Mr Harding.
'Like him!' roared the archdeacon, standing still for a moment to give more force to his
voice; 'like him!' All the ravens of the close cawed their assent. The old bells of the
tower, in chiming the hour, echoed the words; and the swallows flying out from their
nests mutely expressed a similar opinion. Like Mr Slope! Why no, it was not very
probable that any Barchester-bred living thing should like Mr Slope!
'Nor Mrs Proudie either,' said Mr Harding.
The archdeacon thereupon forgot himself. I will not follow his example, nor shock my
readers by transcribing the term in which he expressed his feelings as to the lady who
had been named. The ravens and the last lingering notes of the clock bells were less
scrupulous, and repeated in corresponding echoes the very improper exclamation. The
archdeacon again raised his hat; and another salutary escape of steam was effected.
There was a pause, during which the precentor tried to realise the fact that the wife of
the bishop of Barchester had been thus designated, in the close of the cathedral, by the
lips of its own archdeacon: but he could not do it.
'The bishop seems a quiet man enough,' suggested Mr Harding, having acknowledged
to himself his own failure.
'Idiot!' exclaimed the doctor, who for the nonce was not capable of more than
spasmodic attempts at utterance.
'Well, he did not seem very bright,' said Mr Harding, 'and yet he has always had the
reputation of a clever man. I suppose he's cautious and not inclined to express himself
very freely.'
The new bishop of Barchester was already so contemptible a creature in Dr Grantly's
eyes, that he could not condescend to discuss his character. He was a puppet to be
played by others; a mere wax doll, done up in an apron and a shovel hat, to be stuck on
a throne or elsewhere and pulled about by wires as others chose. Dr Grantly did not