Barchester Towers HTML version
7. The Dean And Chapter Take Counsel
All Barchester was in a tumult. Dr Grantly could hardly get himself out of the cathedral
porch before he exploded in his wrath. The old dean betook himself silently to his
deanery, afraid to speak; and there sat, half stupefied, pondering many things in vain.
Mr Harding crept forth solitary and unhappy; and, slowly passing beneath the elms of
the close, could scarcely bring himself to believe that the words which he had heard had
proceeded from the pulpit of the Barchester Cathedral. Was he again to be disturbed?
Was his whole life to be shown up as a useless sham a second time? would he have to
abdicate his precentorship, as he had his wardenship, and to give up chanting, as he
had given up his twelve old bedesmen? And what if he did! Some other Jupiter, some
other Mr Slope, would come and turn him out of St Cuthbert's. Surely he could not have
been wrong all his life in chanting the litany as he had done! He began, however, to
have doubts. Doubting himself was Mr Harding's weakness. It is not, however, the usual
fault of his order.
Yes! All Barchester was in a tumult. It was not only the clergy who were affected. The
laity also had listened to Mr Slope's new doctrine, all with surprise, some with
indignation, and some with a mixed feeling, in which dislike of the preacher was not so
strongly blended. The old bishop and his chaplain, the dean and his canons and minor
canons, the old choir, and especially Mr Harding who was at the head of it, had all been
popular in Barchester. They had spent their money and done good; the poor had not
been ground down; the clergy in society had neither been overbearing nor austere; and
the whole repute of the city was due to its ecclesiastical importance. Yet there were
those who had heard Mr Slope with satisfaction.
It is so pleasant to receive a fillip of excitement when suffering from the dull routine of
everyday life! The anthems and Te Deums were in themselves delightful, but they had
been heard so often! Mr Slope was certainly not delightful, but he was new, and,
moreover, clever. They had long thought it slow, so said now may of the
Barchesterians, to go on as they had done in their old humdrum way, giving ear to none
of the religious changes which were moving the world without. People in advance of the
age now had new ideas, and it was quite time that Barchester should go in advance. Mr
Slope might be right. Sunday certainly had to been strictly kept in Barchester, except as
regarded the cathedral services. Indeed the two hours between services had long been
appropriated to morning calls and hot luncheons. Then Sunday schools; Sabbath-day
schools Mr Slope had called them. The late bishop had really not thought of Sunday
schools as he should have done. (These people probably did not reflect that catechisms
and collects are quite hard work to the young mind as book-keeping is to the elderly;
and that quite as little feeling of worship enters into one task as the other.) And then, as
regarded that great question of musical services, there might be much to be said on Mr
Slope's side of the question. It certainly was the fact, that people went to the cathedral
to hear the music &c &c.