The Way of All Flesh HTML version

Chapter 14
Battersby-On-The-Hill was the name of the village of which Theobald was now Rector. It
contained 400 or 500 inhabitants, scattered over a rather large area, and consisting
entirely of farmers and agricultural labourers. The Rectory was commodious, and placed
on the brow of a hill which gave it a delightful prospect. There was a fair sprinkling of
neighbours within visiting range, but with one or two exceptions they were the clergymen
and clergymen's families of the surrounding villages.
By these the Pontifexes were welcomed as great acquisitions to the neighbourhood. Mr
Pontifex, they said was so clever; he had been senior classic and senior wrangler; a
perfect genius in fact, and yet with so much sound practical common sense as well. As
son of such a distinguished man as the great Mr Pontifex the publisher he would come
into a large property by-and-by. Was there not an elder brother? Yes, but there would be
so much that Theobald would probably get something very considerable. Of course they
would give dinner parties. And Mrs Pontifex, what a charming woman she was; she was
certainly not exactly pretty perhaps, but then she had such a sweet smile and her manner
was so bright and winning. She was so devoted too to her husband and her husband to
her; they really did come up to one's ideas of what lovers used to be in days of old; it was
rare to meet with such a pair in these degenerate times; it was quite beautiful, etc., etc.
Such were the comments of the neighbours on the new arrivals.
As for Theobald's own parishioners, the farmers were civil and the labourers and their
wives obsequious. There was a little dissent, the legacy of a careless predecessor, but as
Mrs Theobald said proudly, "I think Theobald may be trusted to deal with THAT." The
church was then an interesting specimen of late Norman, with some early English
additions. It was what in these days would be called in a very bad state of repair, but forty
or fifty years ago few churches were in good repair. If there is one feature more
characteristic of the present generation than another it is that it has been a great restorer
of churches.
Horace preached church restoration in his ode:-
Foeda nigro simulacra fumo.
Nothing went right with Rome for long together after the Augustan age, but whether it
was because she did restore the temples or because she did not restore them I know not.
They certainly went all wrong after Constantine's time and yet Rome is still a city of
some importance.
I may say here that before Theobald had been many years at Battersby he found scope for
useful work in the rebuilding of Battersby church, which he carried out at considerable