The Last Chronicle of Barset eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,290 pages of information about The Last Chronicle of Barset.

But it was agreed on all sides that it would not be well to trust to the unassisted friendship of the Barchester tradesmen.  Mr Crawley must be provided with legal assistance, and this must be furnished to him whether he should be willing or unwilling to receive it.  That there would be a difficulty was acknowledged.  Mr Crawley was known to be a man not easy of persuasion, with a will of his own, with a great energy of obstinacy on points which he chose to take as being of importance to his calling, or to his own professional status.  He had pleaded his own cause before the magistrates, and it might be that he would insist on doing the same thing before the judge.  At last Mr Robarts, the clergyman from Framley, was deputed from the knot of Crawleian advocates assembled at Lady Lufton’s drawing-room, to undertake the duty of seeing Mr Crawley, and of explaining to him that his proper defence was regarded as a matter appertaining to the clergy and gentry generally of that part of the country, and that for the sake of the clergy and gentry the defence must of course be properly conducted.  In such circumstances the expense of the defence would of course be borne by the clergy and gentry concerned.  It was thought that Mr Robarts could put the matter to Mr Crawley with such a mixture of the strength of manly friendship and the softness of clerical persuasion, as to overcome the recognised difficulties of the task.



Tidings of Mr Crawley’s fate reached the palace at Barchester on the afternoon of the day on which the magistrates had committed him.  All such tidings travel very quickly, conveyed by imperceptible wires, and distributed by indefatigable message boys whom Rumour seems to supply for the purpose.  Barchester is twenty miles from Silverbridge by road, and more than forty by railway.  I doubt whether anyone was commissioned to send the news along the actual telegraph, and yet Mrs Proudie knew it before four o’clock.  But she did not know it quite accurately.  ‘Bishop,’ she said, standing at her husband’s study door.  ’They have committed that man to gaol.  There was no help for them unless they had foresworn themselves.’

‘Not foresworn themselves, my dear,’ said the bishop, striving, as was usual with him, by some meek and ineffectual word to teach his wife that she was occasionally led by her energy into error.  He never persisted in the lessons when he found, as was usual, that they were taken amiss.

‘I say foresworn themselves!’ said Mrs Proudie; ’and now what do you mean to do?  This is Thursday, and of course the man must not be allowed to desecrate the church of Hogglestock by performing the Sunday services.’

‘If he has been committed, my dear, and is in prison—­’

‘I said nothing about prison, bishop.’

‘Gaol, my dear.’

’I said they committed him to gaol.  So my informant tells me.  But of course all Plumstead and Framley set will move heaven and earth to get him out, so that he may be there as a disgrace to the diocese.  I wonder how the dean will feel when he hears of it!  I do indeed.  For the dean, though he is an idle, useless man, with no church principles, and no real piety, still he has a conscience.  I think he has a conscience.’

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The Last Chronicle of Barset from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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