BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Barchester towers

by Anthony Trollope



Anthony TROLLOt'E was already a man of forty-two when he wrote " Barchester Towers." Its immediate forerunner was "The Warden" (1855), the novel which at once fixed his place among the English novelists of manners and practically decided the line of his whole career as a writer of fiction. It introduced his readers, too, to Barchester, and to some of the personages proper to that city who re-appear, and wax or wane in the second story. There is no such critic of books like Trollope's as a fellow-craftsman ; and Mr. Henry James, who has carried the art of familiar fiction still a stage further than the Barchester novels did, has given us the best " appreciation " on the whole of their writer.

" Barchester Towers," says Mr. James (in his " Partial Portraits"), has " an almost Thackerayan richness''; but while he finds Archdeacon Grantly admirable, he hesitates over Mrs. Proudie, who, like Mrs. Poyser, has for her other qualities become almost classical. He pronounces her rather too violent and vixenish and sour. "The truly awful female bully," he adds, "the completely fatal episcopal spouse," would have a more insidious form. It was, as Mr. James says, an inspiration to transport the Signora Vesey-Neroni into a cathedral town. With " The Warden," and " Barchester Towers," ought to be read the other novels of the Barset Series, including and ending with the " Last Chronicle of Barset1' (1867). These are the books of his literary prime. He died in 1882, having produced, besides his innumerable novels, various books of travel, and some biographical works in which he was not at his best. His own Autobiography is, however, as entertaining as any novel.




In the latter days of July in the year 185—, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways— Who was to be the new Bishop ?

The death of old Dr. Grantly, who had for many years filled that chair with meek authority, took place exactly as the

ministry of Lord was going to give place to that of Lord

. The illness of the good old man was long and lingering,

and it became at last a matter of intense interest to those concerned whether the new appointment should be made by a conservative or liberal government.

It was pretty well understood that the out-going premier had made his selection, and that if the question rested with him, the mitre would descend on the head of Archdeacon Grantly, the old bishop's son. The archdeacon had long managed the affairs of the diocese; and for some months previous to the demise of his father, rumour had confidently assigned to him the reversion of his father's honours.

Bishop Grantly died as he had lived, peaceably, slowly, without pain and without excitement. The breath ebbed from him almost imperceptibly, and for a month before his death, it was a question whether he were alive or dead.

A trying time was this for the archdeacon, for whom was designed the reversion of his father's see by those who then had the giving away of episcopal thrones. I would not be understood to say that the prime minister had in so many words promised the bishopric to Dr. Grantly. He was too discreet a man for that. There is a proverb with reference to the killing of cats, and those who know anything either of high or low government places, will be well aware that a promise may be made without positive words, and that an expectant may be put into the highest state of encouragement, though the great man on whose breath he hangs may have done no more than whisper that " Mr. So-and-so is certainly a rising man."

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