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of his neighbours.

But the old symbols remained, and may such symbols long remain among
us; they are still lovely and fit to be loved. They tell us of the
true and manly feelings of other times; and to him who can read
aright, they explain more fully, more truly than any written history
can do, how Englishmen have become what they are. England is not yet
a commercial country in the sense in which that epithet is used for
her; and let us still hope that she will not soon become so. She
might surely as well be called feudal England, or chivalrous England.
If in western civilised Europe there does exist a nation among whom
there are high signors, and with whom the owners of the land are
the true aristocracy, the aristocracy that is trusted as being best
and fittest to rule, that nation is the English. Choose out the ten
leading men of each great European people. Choose them in France, in
Austria, Sardinia, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Spain (?), and
then select the ten in England whose names are best known as those of
leading statesmen; the result will show in which country there still
exists the closest attachment to, the sincerest trust in, the old
feudal and now so-called landed interests.

England a commercial country! Yes; as Venice was. She may excel
other nations in commerce, but yet it is not that in which she most
prides herself, in which she most excels. Merchants as such are not
the first men among us; though it perhaps be open, barely open, to
a merchant to become one of them. Buying and selling is good and
necessary; it is very necessary, and may, possibly, be very good; but
it cannot be the noblest work of man; and let us hope that it may not
in our time be esteemed the noblest work of an Englishman.

Greshamsbury Park was very large; it lay on the outside of the angle
formed by the village street, and stretched away on two sides without
apparent limit or boundaries visible from the village road or house.
Indeed, the ground on this side was so broken up into abrupt hills,
and conical-shaped, oak-covered excrescences, which were seen peeping
up through and over each other, that the true extent of the park was
much magnified to the eye. It was very possible for a stranger to get
into it and to find some difficulty in getting out again by any of
its known gates; and such was the beauty of the landscape, that a
lover of scenery would be tempted thus to lose himself.

I have said that on one side lay the kennels, and this will give
me an opportunity of describing here one especial episode, a long
episode, in the life of the existing squire. He had once represented
his county in Parliament, and when he ceased to do so he still felt
an ambition to be connected in some peculiar way with that county's
greatness; he still desired that Gresham of Greshamsbury should be
something more in East Barsetshire than Jackson of the Grange, or
Baker of Mill Hill, or Bateson of Annesgrove. They were all his
friends, and very respectable country gentlemen; but Mr Gresham of
Greshamsbury should be more than this: even he had enough of ambition
to be aware of such a longing. Therefore, when an opportunity
occurred he took to hunting the county.

For this employment he was in every way well suited - unless it was in
the matter of finance. Though he had in his very earliest manly years
given such great offence by indifference to his family politics,
and had in a certain degree fostered the ill-feeling by contesting
the county in opposition to the wishes of his brother squires,
nevertheless, he bore a loved and popular name. Men regretted that he
should not have been what they wished him to be, that he should not
have been such as was the old squire; but when they found that such
was the case, that he could not be great among them as a politician,
they were still willing that he should be great in any other way if
there were county greatness for which he was suited. Now he was known
as an excellent horseman, as a thorough sportsman, as one knowing in
dogs, and tender-hearted as a sucking mother to a litter of young
foxes; he had ridden in the county since he was fifteen, had a fine
voice for a view-hallo, knew every hound by name, and could wind a
horn with sufficient music for all hunting purposes; moreover, he had
come to his property, as was well known through all Barsetshire, with
a clear income of fourteen thousand a year.

Thus, when some old worn-out master of hounds was run to ground,
about a year after Mr Gresham's last contest for the county, it
seemed to all parties to be a pleasant and rational arrangement that
the hounds should go to Greshamsbury. Pleasant, indeed, to all except
the Lady Arabella; and rational, perhaps, to all except the squire
himself.

All this time he was already considerably encumbered. He had spent
much more than he should have done, and so indeed had his wife, in
those two splendid years in which they had figured as great among the
great ones of the earth. Fourteen thousand a year ought to have been
enough to allow a member of Parliament with a young wife and two or
three children to live in London and keep up their country family
mansion; but then the de Courcys were very great people, and Lady
Arabella chose to live as she had been accustomed to do, and as her
sister-in-law the countess lived: now Lord de Courcy had much more
than fourteen thousand a year. Then came the three elections, with
their vast attendant cost, and then those costly expedients to which
gentlemen are forced to have recourse who have lived beyond their
income, and find it impossible so to reduce their establishments as
to live much below it. Thus when the hounds came to Greshamsbury, Mr
Gresham was already a poor man.

Lady Arabella said much to oppose their coming; but Lady Arabella,
though it could hardly be said of her that she was under her
husband's rule, certainly was not entitled to boast that she had him
under hers. She then made her first grand attack as to the furniture
in Portman Square; and was then for the first time specially informed
that the furniture there was not matter of much importance, as she
would not in future be required to move her family to that residence
during the London seasons. The sort of conversations which grew from
such a commencement may be imagined. Had Lady Arabella worried her
lord less, he might perhaps have considered with more coolness the
folly of encountering so prodigious an increase to the expense of his
establishment; had he not spent so much money in a pursuit which his
wife did not enjoy, she might perhaps have been more sparing in her
rebukes as to his indifference to her London pleasures. As it was,
the hounds came to Greshamsbury, and Lady Arabella did go to London
for some period in each year, and the family expenses were by no
means lessened.

The kennels, however, were now again empty. Two years previous to the
time at which our story begins, the hounds had been carried off to
the seat of some richer sportsman. This was more felt by Mr Gresham
than any other misfortune which he had yet incurred. He had been
master of hounds for ten years, and that work he had at any rate done
well. The popularity among his neighbours which he had lost as a
politician he had regained as a sportsman, and he would fain have
remained autocratic in the hunt, had it been possible. But he so
remained much longer than he should have done, and at last they went
away, not without signs and sounds of visible joy on the part of Lady
Arabella.

But we have kept the Greshamsbury tenantry waiting under the
oak-trees by far too long. Yes; when young Frank came of age there
was still enough left at Greshamsbury, still means enough at the
squire's disposal, to light one bonfire, to roast, whole in its skin,
one bullock. Frank's virility came on him not quite unmarked, as
that of the parson's son might do, or the son of the neighbouring
attorney. It could still be reported in the Barsetshire Conservative
_Standard_ that "The beards wagged all" at Greshamsbury, now as they
had done for many centuries on similar festivals. Yes; it was so
reported. But this, like so many other such reports, had but a shadow
of truth in it. "They poured the liquor in," certainly, those who
were there; but the beards did not wag as they had been wont to wag
in former years. Beards won't wag for the telling. The squire was at
his wits' end for money, and the tenants one and all had so heard.
Rents had been raised on them; timber had fallen fast; the lawyer
on the estate was growing rich; tradesmen in Barchester, nay, in
Greshamsbury itself, were beginning to mutter; and the squire himself
would not be merry. Under such circumstances the throats of a
tenantry will still swallow, but their beards will not wag.

"I minds well," said Farmer Oaklerath to his neighbour, "when the
squoire hisself comed of age. Lord love 'ee! There was fun going that
day. There was more yale drank then than's been brewed at the big
house these two years. T'old squoire was a one'er."

"And I minds when squoire was borned; minds it well," said an old
farmer sitting opposite. "Them was the days! It an't that long ago
neither. Squoire a'nt come o' fifty yet; no, nor an't nigh it, though
he looks it. Things be altered at Greemsbury" - such was the rural
pronunciation - "altered sadly, neebor Oaklerath. Well, well; I'll
soon be gone, I will, and so it an't no use talking; but arter paying
one pound fifteen for them acres for more nor fifty year, I didn't
think I'd ever be axed for forty shilling."

Such was the style of conversation which went on at the various
tables. It had certainly been of a very different tone when the
squire was born, when he came of age, and when, just two years
subsequently, his son had been born. On each of these events similar
rural fêtes had been given, and the squire himself had on these
occasions been frequent among his guests. On the first, he had been
carried round by his father, a whole train of ladies and nurses
following. On the second, he had himself mixed in all the sports, the
gayest of the gay, and each tenant had squeezed his way up to the
lawn to get a sight of the Lady Arabella, who, as was already known,
was to come from Courcy Castle to Greshamsbury to be their mistress.
It was little they any of them cared now for the Lady Arabella. On
the third, he himself had borne his child in his arms as his father
had before borne him; he was then in the zenith of his pride, and
though the tenantry whispered that he was somewhat less familiar with
them than of yore, that he had put on somewhat too much of the de
Courcy airs, still he was their squire, their master, the rich man
in whose hand they lay. The old squire was then gone, and they were
proud of the young member and his lady bride in spite of a little
hauteur. None of them were proud of him now.

He walked once round among the guests, and spoke a few words of
welcome at each table; and as he did so the tenants got up and bowed
and wished health to the old squire, happiness to the young one, and
prosperity to Greshamsbury; but, nevertheless, it was but a tame
affair.

There were also other visitors, of the gentle sort, to do honour to
the occasion; but not such swarms, not such a crowd at the mansion
itself and at the houses of the neighbouring gentry as had always
been collected on these former gala doings. Indeed, the party at
Greshamsbury was not a large one, and consisted chiefly of Lady de
Courcy and her suite. Lady Arabella still kept up, as far as she was
able, her close connexion with Courcy Castle. She was there as much
as possible, to which Mr Gresham never objected; and she took her
daughters there whenever she could, though, as regarded the two elder
girls, she was interfered with by Mr Gresham, and not unfrequently by
the girls themselves. Lady Arabella had a pride in her son, though
he was by no means her favourite child. He was, however, the heir of
Greshamsbury, of which fact she was disposed to make the most, and
he was also a fine gainly open-hearted young man, who could not but
be dear to any mother. Lady Arabella did love him dearly, though she
felt a sort of disappointment in regard to him, seeing that he was
not so much like a de Courcy as he should have been. She did love him
dearly; and, therefore, when he came of age she got her sister-in-law
and all the Ladies Amelia, Rosina etc., to come to Greshamsbury; and
she also, with some difficulty, persuaded the Honourable Georges and
the Honourable Johns to be equally condescending. Lord de Courcy
himself was in attendance at the Court - or said that he was - and Lord
Porlock, the eldest son, simply told his aunt when he was invited
that he never bored himself with those sort of things.

Then there were the Bakers, and the Batesons, and the Jacksons, who
all lived near and returned home at night; there was the Reverend
Caleb Oriel, the High-Church rector, with his beautiful sister,
Patience Oriel; there was Mr Yates Umbleby, the attorney and agent;
and there was Dr Thorne, and the doctor's modest, quiet-looking
little niece, Miss Mary.




CHAPTER II

Long, Long Ago


As Dr Thorne is our hero - or I should rather say my hero, a privilege
of selecting for themselves in this respect being left to all my
readers - and as Miss Mary Thorne is to be our heroine, a point on
which no choice whatsoever is left to any one, it is necessary that
they shall be introduced and explained and described in a proper,
formal manner. I quite feel that an apology is due for beginning a
novel with two long dull chapters full of description. I am perfectly
aware of the danger of such a course. In so doing I sin against the
golden rule which requires us all to put our best foot foremost, the
wisdom of which is fully recognised by novelists, myself among the
number. It can hardly be expected that any one will consent to go
through with a fiction that offers so little of allurement in its
first pages; but twist it as I will I cannot do otherwise. I find
that I cannot make poor Mr Gresham hem and haw and turn himself
uneasily in his arm-chair in a natural manner till I have said why
he is uneasy. I cannot bring in my doctor speaking his mind freely
among the bigwigs till I have explained that it is in accordance
with his usual character to do so. This is unartistic on my part,
and shows want of imagination as well as want of skill. Whether or
not I can atone for these faults by straightforward, simple, plain
story-telling - that, indeed, is very doubtful.

Dr Thorne belonged to a family in one sense as good, and at any rate
as old, as that of Mr Gresham; and much older, he was apt to boast,
than that of the de Courcys. This trait in his character is mentioned
first, as it was the weakness for which he was most conspicuous. He
was second cousin to Mr Thorne of Ullathorne, a Barsetshire squire
living in the neighbourhood of Barchester, and who boasted that his
estate had remained in his family, descending from Thorne to Thorne,
longer than had been the case with any other estate or any other
family in the county.

But Dr Thorne was only a second cousin; and, therefore, though he was
entitled to talk of the blood as belonging to some extent to himself,
he had no right to lay claim to any position in the county other than
such as he might win for himself if he chose to locate himself in it.
This was a fact of which no one was more fully aware than our doctor
himself. His father, who had been first cousin of a former Squire
Thorne, had been a clerical dignitary in Barchester, but had been
dead now many years. He had had two sons; one he had educated as a
medical man, but the other, and the younger, whom he had intended
for the Bar, had not betaken himself in any satisfactory way to any
calling. This son had been first rusticated from Oxford, and then
expelled; and thence returning to Barchester, had been the cause to
his father and brother of much suffering.

Old Dr Thorne, the clergyman, died when the two brothers were yet
young men, and left behind him nothing but some household and
other property of the value of about two thousand pounds, which he
bequeathed to Thomas, the elder son, much more than that having been
spent in liquidating debts contracted by the younger. Up to that time
there had been close harmony between the Ullathorne family and that
of the clergyman; but a month or two before the doctor's death - the
period of which we are speaking was about two-and-twenty years before
the commencement of our story - the then Mr Thorne of Ullathorne had
made it understood that he would no longer receive at his house his
cousin Henry, whom he regarded as a disgrace to the family.

Fathers are apt to be more lenient to their sons than uncles to their
nephews, or cousins to each other. Dr Thorne still hoped to reclaim
his black sheep, and thought that the head of his family showed an
unnecessary harshness in putting an obstacle in his way of doing so.
And if the father was warm in support of his profligate son, the
young medical aspirant was warmer in support of his profligate
brother. Dr Thorne, junior, was no roué himself, but perhaps, as a
young man, he had not sufficient abhorrence of his brother's vices.
At any rate, he stuck to him manfully; and when it was signified
in the Close that Henry's company was not considered desirable at
Ullathorne, Dr Thomas Thorne sent word to the squire that under such
circumstances his visits there would also cease.

This was not very prudent, as the young Galen had elected to
establish himself in Barchester, very mainly in expectation of the
help which his Ullathorne connexion would give him. This, however, in
his anger he failed to consider; he was never known, either in early
or in middle life, to consider in his anger those points which were
probably best worth his consideration. This, perhaps, was of the less
moment as his anger was of an unenduring kind, evaporating frequently
with more celerity than he could get the angry words out of his
mouth. With the Ullathorne people, however, he did establish a
quarrel sufficiently permanent to be of vital injury to his medical
prospects.

And then the father died, and the two brothers were left living
together with very little means between them. At this time there
were living, in Barchester, people of the name of Scatcherd. Of that
family, as then existing, we have only to do with two, a brother and
a sister. They were in a low rank of life, the one being a journeyman
stone-mason, and the other an apprentice to a straw-bonnet maker; but
they were, nevertheless, in some sort remarkable people. The sister
was reputed in Barchester to be a model of female beauty of the
strong and robuster cast, and had also a better reputation as being
a girl of good character and honest, womanly conduct. Both of her
beauty and of her reputation her brother was exceedingly proud, and
he was the more so when he learnt that she had been asked in marriage
by a decent master-tradesman in the city.

Roger Scatcherd had also a reputation, but not for beauty or
propriety of conduct. He was known for the best stone-mason in the
four counties, and as the man who could, on occasion, drink the most
alcohol in a given time in the same localities. As a workman, indeed,
he had higher reputate even than this: he was not only a good and
very quick stone-mason, but he had also a capacity for turning other
men into good stone-masons: he had a gift of knowing what a man could
and should do; and, by degrees, he taught himself what five, and ten,
and twenty - latterly, what a thousand and two thousand men might
accomplish among them: this, also, he did with very little aid
from pen and paper, with which he was not, and never became, very
conversant. He had also other gifts and other propensities. He could
talk in a manner dangerous to himself and others; he could persuade
without knowing that he did so; and being himself an extreme
demagogue, in those noisy times just prior to the Reform Bill,
he created a hubbub in Barchester of which he himself had had no
previous conception.

Henry Thorne among his other bad qualities had one which his friends
regarded as worse than all the others, and which perhaps justified
the Ullathorne people in their severity. He loved to consort with
low people. He not only drank - that might have been forgiven - but he
drank in tap-rooms with vulgar drinkers; so said his friends, and so
said his enemies. He denied the charge as being made in the plural
number, and declared that his only low co-reveller was Roger
Scatcherd. With Roger Scatcherd, at any rate, he associated, and
became as democratic as Roger was himself. Now the Thornes of
Ullathorne were of the very highest order of Tory excellence.

Whether or not Mary Scatcherd at once accepted the offer of the
respectable tradesman, I cannot say. After the occurrence of certain
events which must here shortly be told, she declared that she never
had done so. Her brother averred that she most positively had. The
respectable tradesman himself refused to speak on the subject.

It is certain, however, that Scatcherd, who had hitherto been silent
enough about his sister in those social hours which he passed with
his gentleman friend, boasted of the engagement when it was, as he
said, made; and then boasted also of the girl's beauty. Scatcherd, in
spite of his occasional intemperance, looked up in the world, and the
coming marriage of his sister was, he thought, suitable to his own
ambition for his family.

Henry Thorne had already heard of, and already seen, Mary Scatcherd;
but hitherto she had not fallen in the way of his wickedness. Now,
however, when he heard that she was to be decently married, the devil
tempted him to tempt her. It boots not to tell all the tale. It came
out clearly enough when all was told, that he made her most distinct
promises of marriage; he even gave her such in writing; and having
in this way obtained from her her company during some of her little
holidays - her Sundays or summer evenings - he seduced her. Scatcherd
accused him openly of having intoxicated her with drugs; and Thomas
Thorne, who took up the case, ultimately believed the charge. It
became known in Barchester that she was with child, and that the
seducer was Henry Thorne.

Roger Scatcherd, when the news first reached him, filled himself with
drink, and then swore that he would kill them both. With manly wrath,
however, he set forth, first against the man, and that with manly
weapons. He took nothing with him but his fists and a big stick as he
went in search of Henry Thorne.

The two brothers were then lodging together at a farm-house close
abutting on the town. This was not an eligible abode for a medical
practitioner; but the young doctor had not been able to settle
himself eligibly since his father's death; and wishing to put what
constraint he could upon his brother, had so located himself. To this
farm-house came Roger Scatcherd one sultry summer evening, his anger
gleaming from his bloodshot eyes, and his rage heightened to madness
by the rapid pace at which he had run from the city, and by the
ardent spirits which were fermenting within him.

At the very gate of the farm-yard, standing placidly with his
cigar in his mouth, he encountered Henry Thorne. He had thought
of searching for him through the whole premises, of demanding his
victim with loud exclamations, and making his way to him through
all obstacles. In lieu of that, there stood the man before him.

"Well, Roger, what's in the wind?" said Henry Thorne.

They were the last words he ever spoke. He was answered by a blow
from the blackthorn. A contest ensued, which ended in Scatcherd
keeping his word - at any rate, as regarded the worst offender. How
the fatal blow on the temple was struck was never exactly determined:
one medical man said it might have been done in a fight with a
heavy-headed stick; another thought that a stone had been used; a
third suggested a stone-mason's hammer. It seemed, however, to be
proved subsequently that no hammer was taken out, and Scatcherd
himself persisted in declaring that he had taken in his hand no
weapon but the stick. Scatcherd, however, was drunk; and even though
he intended to tell the truth, may have been mistaken. There were,
however, the facts that Thorne was dead; that Scatcherd had sworn
to kill him about an hour previously; and that he had without delay
accomplished his threat. He was arrested and tried for murder; all
the distressing circumstances of the case came out on the trial: he
was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to be imprisoned for



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 2 of 49)