‘This is a very sad affair about Mr Crawley,’ said the bishop.
‘Very said indeed,’ said the lawyer. ’I never pitied a man so much in my life, my lord.’
This was not exactly the line which the bishop was desirous of taking. ’Of course he is to be pitied;—of course he is. But from all I hear, Mr Chadwick, I am afraid—I am afraid we must not acquit him.’
‘As to that, my lord, he has to stand his trial, of course.’
’But, you see, Mr Chadwick, regarding him as a beneficed clergyman—with a cure of souls—the question is whether I should be justified in leaving him where he is till his trial shall come on.’
‘Of course your lordship knows best about that, but—’
’I know there is a difficulty. I know that. But I am inclined to think that in the interests of the parish I am bound to issue a commission of inquiry.’
’I believer your lordship has attempted to silence him, and that he has refused to comply.’
’I thought it better for everybody’s sake—especially for his own, that he should for a while be relieved from his duties; but he is an obstinate man, a very obstinate man. I made the attempt with all consideration for his feelings.’
’He is hard put to it, my lord. I know the man and his pride. The dean has spoken of him to me more than once, and nobody knows him so well as the dean. If I might venture to offer an opinion—’
‘Good morning, Mr Chadwick,’ said Mrs Proudie, coming into the room and taking her accustomed seat. ’No thank you, no; I will stay away from the fire, if you please. His lordship has spoken to you no doubt about this unfortunate wretched man.’
‘We are speaking of him now, my dear.’
’Something must of course be done to put a stop to the crying disgrace of having such a man preaching from a pulpit in this diocese. When I think of the souls of the people in that poor village, my hair literally stands on end. And then he is disobedient!’
‘That is the worst of it,’ said the bishop. ’It would have been so much better for himself if he would have allowed me to provide quietly for the services till the trial be over.’
’I could have told you that, my lord, that he would not do that, from what I knew of him,’ said Mr Chadwick.
‘But he must do it,’ said Mrs Proudie. ‘He must be made to do it.’
‘His lordship will find it difficult,’ said Mr Chadwick.
‘I can issue a commission, you know, to the rural dean,’ said the bishop mildly.
‘Yes, you can do that. And Dr Tempest in two months’ time will have named his assessors—’
‘Dr Tempest must not name them; the bishop must name them,’ said Mrs Proudie.
‘It is customary to leave that to the rural dean,’ said Mr Chadwick. ‘The bishop no doubt can object to anyone named.’
’And can specially select any clergyman he pleases from the archdeaconry,’ said the bishop. ‘I have known it done.’