The Warden, Chapters 17 - 21
"Not Warden now, only Precentor"; On Walking Away as Moral Heroism or Courage; On Mr Harding as a Worldly Man, or Why Mr Quiverful Can't Walk; The Price Mr Harding Pays; A Parallel between Mr Whittlestaff of An Old Man's Love and Mr Harding; Mr Harding has No Appetite for Dictating to Others

NB: The interested reader is once again reminded that a group of us were reading Dickens's Bleak House at the same time as we were reading The Warden.

To Trollope-l

July 11, 1999

Re: The Warden: Chs 17-21: 'not warden now, only precentor' (I)

We are come to our fitting ending, the one towards which we have been moving since Mr Harding understood the terms on which he would have to hold his income, house and comfortable way of life since he has been put before the public eye.

As I wrote in my posting on Bleak House Friday night, I don't see this as an act of a saint. I am not along in this: none of the characters do either, and neither does the narrator. While the latter deeply sympathises with Mr Harding to the point that Mr Harding's decision is validated as the right thing for him to do, and he is made an admirable figure who will not serve the hollow man of business (Sir Abraham), nor the supine upholder of an established caste (Archbishop Deacon), nor even do for his friends what makes them feel good or is most convenient for them (Susan Grantly, Eleanor Grantly, the Bishop) or hold out for the sake of the vulnerable, who we see would never have been grateful (the twelve old men); nonetheless, it is made equally clear that the courage manifested is one which is intricably rooted in Mr Harding's sensitive nature, his inability to take blows and give as good as he gets, his strong tendency to withdraw, for flight not fight when it comes to grappling with troubles. In modern terms, we say no one can take credit for his genes; in older ones, it's just his nature. Mr Harding has a strength but it is not one you go to when you need someone to fight for you against all comers, and the world's fights are rarely couched in ethical or pretty ways. People are unscrupulous; they'll say anything to get what they want.

One thing that does distinguish Mr Harding from other of Trollope's heroes is that he does make a decision and stick to it. So many of Trollope's central figures vacillate, are paralysed and never make up their minds, go off a deep end or allow others to make up their minds for them. Harry Clavering allows his mother to make up his mind for him, allows his sister-in-law and Florence to make that stick; Cousin Henry, Cecilia Holt, Lady Mason, Paul Montague, Sir Harry Hotspur -- so many of Trollope's figures cannot make up their minds, or if they do, do not stick to it, and what happens is chance makes for their fate.

To take one example from a fiction I am at present reading with a class in college: An Eye for An Eye. This week I have become aware how that story is one of a young man, Fred Neville, who can't grapple with a decision, think his moral position out (even in accordance with his nature) and act. In response to my students who talked of how Fred Neville begins to detest Ireland when once Kate becomes pregnant and he is expected to marry her and become responsible for her and her family, and begins to loath Scroope Manor when once his uncle dies, and he is expected to fill a social role which will strongly limit some of his choices in life, I thought to myself and said Fred finds that people are demanding that he give of himself permanently, commit himself to a course of action which will force him to work hard -- either to support Kate or bring her to England and somehow make a life for himself and herself in that house; or to stay at Scroope and replace his uncle, assuming responsibilities, and facing the consequences of a lifelong guilt. Both the sexual congress with Kate and his uncle's death are to Fred the same thing: he has to deal with other people and things and cope. The seagulls and Irish cliffs are places he can play by; he can remain in pleasant dreams. The only thing Fred sticks to is he won't marry Kate. This is a refusal to act because he won't abandon her either. He can't take her to Europe, silly young man.

So Mr Harding's act is heroic because he copes, he decides, painful as it is for him, he goes to London, confronts Sir Abraham Haphazard and then stands firm against his son-in-law and says he will not serve that which his conscience tells him is probably wrong -- for no one. He will not allow others to get himself into a situation he will not be able to control down the line -- because he knows they have no morality. In a sense he connects sharply with these people; he doesn't avoid them. Many of Trollope's characters ricochet helplessly; but I think his strongest heroes and heroines do not or at least at long last do not (Plantangenet, Phineas, Lucy Morris, Lily Dale, Dr Wortle, Mr Whittlestaff). Mr Harding gives up the pleasant existence and decides to live on little. This is very like Priscilla Stanbury whom Trollope tells us is the true heroine of He Knew He Was Right. He also makes no fanfare about it. I think that's what I liked best. But it's not saintly; it's very like the response of George in Bleak House to Mr Tulkinghorn and follows the lines of thought Mrs Bagnet sets down for us.

Once Mr Harding sticks to his guns, or decision, it's curious how the other characters' power over him seems to fade. Archdeacon Grantly no longer seems so much a bully because he can't bully the man. His power is limited over someone who doesn't want what Grantly has on offer (the Wardenship through the services of Hapzard and Cox and Cumming). He is given one last low blow when he tries to frighten the Warden into believing he will have to give up his precentorship and hints Mr Harding will have to pay the lawyers, but the first has been deflected by Mr Harding's calm memory of the separation of the two jobs and the second is simply not in the cards -- as Susan says. Grantly doesn't dislike his father-in-law; in fact there is no personal spite in the man; he sees everything in terms of general categories. He's the sort of man who doesn't judge people as individuals but as a kind of person, a representative of a group. He's not fighting the person, he's fighting his idea of the group. (That the idea is not accurate is to be expected for all such category thinking falsifies experience.)

Bold has faded away; his great function is to marry Elinor, and provide a place to keep the violoncello. He has learned to get along, or the limits of his power. As far as Mr Harding is concerned, Tom Towers becomes wholly irrelevant. Let him be Tom Towers; that's his punishment (though he'll never recognise it).

Here I divide this posting into 2 to make it easier to read. This has focused on Mr Harding, the next will focus on what he comes to stand for in relation to the other characters.


Re: The Warden: Chs 17-21: 'not warden now, only precentor' (II)

There were some very happy touches in the ways the other characters were summed up in the close of the book. For example, here is the key note for Sir Abraham's character:

'Sir Abraham was a man of wit, and sparkled among the brightest at the dinner-tables of political grandees: indeed, he always sparkled; whether in society, in the House of Commons, or the courts of law, coruscations flew from him; glittering sparkles, as from hot steel, but no heat; no cold heart was ever cheered by warmth from him, no unhappy soul ever dropped a portion of its burden at his door.

With him success alone was praiseworthy, and he knew none so successful as himself' (Oxford The Warden, ed DSkilton, ch 17, p. 231).

And he had but one definition of success: an accumulation of prizes others wants, ribbons, luxurious things, positions to give out (connections), friends in the strictly parliamentary sense (those on your side because it's their side). I am touched at how to Sir Abraham Mr Harding is mad. Yes Sir Abraham and Mr Harding live in different worlds. Note that Trollope does not accompany his Quixote figure (Mr Harding) with a Sancho Panza: Trollope does not undercut Mr Harding in this way.

I also liked how Trollope put his finger on what is inhumane about Susan Grantly's approach. One of her weapons to pressure her father with is, What shall happen to Eleanor? I love that. People who manifest concern about the welfare of others; the Warden gives the right reply in his mind: 'Why should one sister who was so rich predict poverty for another?' (Ch 18, p. 245). We don't see Susan offering to help Eleanor -- or her father. Her concern is not for Eleanor so much or equally for her position. She didn't deserve quite the daughter Griselda Grantly will turn out to be, but she is a woman who could bring up such a daughter quite easily. She does have the wit to recognise that her father has some steel in him, and the sense to begin to pick up the pieces. Her last thought that we are privy is to remark that 'since the action was abandoned, the costs would not be heavy' (Ch 18, p. 245). At this point she assumes it will come out of her purse.

Archdeacon Grantly comes off the best he has thus far in the book Trollope tells us he has only been able for the sake of his story show us Grantly's worst sides. He is a man whom on his own grounds does some good in the world -- and is recognised to do so by those who think like him and are his allies. So, for example, since he cannot recognise that there can be a moral issue at stake which impugns his way of life or him, he becomes active on behalf of placing Mr Harding elsewhere. He goes off to consult one Quiverful whose quiverful of children has further thickened a probably dense hide to start with. Grantly knows

'Mr Quiverful had no doubts as to the legal rights of the warden; his conscience would be quite clear as to accepting the income; and as to the Jupiter he begged to assure the archdeacon that he was quite indifferent to any emanations from the profane portion of the periodical press' (Ch 20, p. 264).

Grantly is though thwarted not only by Mr Harding who will simply not participate in an exchange of musical chairs, but his father the Bishop who declines to replace a position whose income justice has placed in serious doubt. Trollope gets two points in here: he points out to us (once again) how unfair and unjustly are clerical incomes meted out. Why should Quiverful get so little and work so hard? Why, even worse, is the curate Mr Smith's pittance (in comparison to Mr Harding's, the Archdeacon's and the Bishop's income) to be threatened? On what principle are these incomes being given out asked Elias Gotobed in The American Senator. Anyone who thinks Mr Harding a saint should note he was planning to replace Mr Smith. There he was safe because he wasn't taking the income unjustly from the point of view of the history of the church, the way it's organised, the views of everyone around him, his own religiosity. Still he would have taken it. He has to. Mr Harding doesn't mean to starve. His letter to the Bishop shows that. He's no pillar-fanatic. All this is swept by by the power of the Bishop who finds a comically graphically 'small niche' for Mr Harding and leaves all in peace for the nonce.

The second point is poignant. Who are the real losers here? If Mr Quiverful came to be Warden, what would be his attitude towards the old men? That puny tuppence went immediately. If no one comes, the whole place will go to ruin. And it does. Here we have Archdeacon Grantly's sardonic and conservative warning to the men come true: the powerless often only rock the very boat they are sitting in when they seek to improve their position. People often vote conservatively because their fears are aroused: in the US many middle class people don't want a reformed health system, for they fear the reformed one might just be worse than what they are now having to live with. The losers are those with no hands on the reins of decision and no leverage. The twelve old men. But Trollope is no sentimentalist. The old man who can't get out of his bed and whom Mr Harding comes to say goodbye has eyes which gleam at the thought of 100 pounds a year. This reminds me of some of Pope's deathbed scenes in his poetry:

'Odious! in woollen! 'twoud a Saint provoke, (Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke) No, let a charming Chintz, and Brussels lace Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face: One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead-- And -- Betty -- give this Cheek a little Red' ('Moral Essays, I: To Cobham')

It was sad when Bunce and Mr Harding parted.

I liked Mr Harding's letters because they were unashamed and direct: 'I do not know why I should be ahsmed to say that I should have difficulty in syupporting myself without it ... (Ch, 19, p 253); 'I am very anxious about the precentorship' (p. 255). He makes no pretences at disinterest; he understands what kindness to one another really entails: 'You may add to my present unhappiness by pressing me, but you cannot change my purpose' (p. 252). So often when people know they cannot change your mind, it's when they begin the reproaches and dire warnings. It seems to satisfy some need to get back for not getting their way over you.

I don't know how we are to take the Bishop. He is perhaps a more prudent form of his son. He didn't get to that position by blowing on a whistle. It's probably too harsh to see him as an instance of the axiom that the 'evils that befall the world are not nearly so often caused by bad men as they are by good men who are silent when an opinion must be voiced' (that was said by somebody or other). Rather he is the bystander type whose lines fell into pleasant places and who is (unlike his son-in-law) able to see outside his caste, though he's not prepared to act against it. So though the property is kept up (money counts as ever and Trollope is realistic), the old men's world disintegrates and the garden when last seen is 'a wretched wilderness, the drive and paths covered with weeds, the flower-beds ... bare, and the unshorn lamn .. now a mass of long damp grass and unwholesome moss' (Ch 21, p 281). We began with a landscape and we end with one. This is a partly symbolic book: Trollope uses landscapes and houses symbolically.

The quiet closing chapter speaks for itself. It reminds me of how when there is fanfare, it has to be removed away, and you are left alone with your teapot, table and the necessity to make your own identity apart from others. Or at least hold onto it in some fashion.

Ellen Moody

Now Phoebe Wray posted:

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] The Warden: Chs 17-21: 'not warden now, only precentor' (II)


Thanks, Ellen, for the words at the finale.

I came to love Mr Harding, really love him. At the same time, I watch him with grave eyes, a little sad, for he is child-like but too old for me to protect. My impulse IS to protect him, but so delicate is he that I could/would never do so for fear of stirring his sensibilities. A little tea and sympathy, perhaps, but the real issues never discussed.

And I thanked Trollope for the wondrous chapter in London. [Remember being in Glasgow all of one Sunday, alone, killing time until the late train to London... Had forgotten to hit the ATM when my US funds would be available, so was pinching the pence. Fortunately, it was a nice day. I spent the time walking and sitting in the park. Amazing how quiet Glasgow was on a long Sunday afternoon.] It made me very happy that Mr Harding finally got a cup of coffee and a sofa.

I think, finally, I loved him because he showed himself to be a brave person, though he would not say that. That he thought to turn out poor Mr Smith is a curious (and welcomed) odd color in his portrait. Of course, he was comfortable with his rights to Crabtree, and not so entirely self-effacing as to ruin himself entirely. Not a saint; not even a saint-let; but a man who recognized he must button his own buttons.

I appreciated what Ellen says about Dr Grantly. I came at last to realize that he is not malicious.

What a pleasure it was to read this book.

best wishes,
Phoebe Wray

From Laurie Guilfoyle


OK Mr. Harding is kindly, gentle, thoughtful of others. An eagle scout in a sixty year olds clothing. But I am disappointed in Trollope for bringing us such a one-sided character. Both he and his daughter are just too good. Even saccharine. What I do admire is his progression from passive goodness, to his being unsettled and ashamed because of what others will think of him, to the conclusion that in his passive acceptance of the status quo he indeed may have been taking far too much from his pensioners-living off them. It is this realization that makes him human and admirable.


I wrote in the next day or so:

July 10, 1999

Re: More on The Warden: Walking Away

I had an e-mail from a student today which reminded me of a conversation I got into with that very student over Mr Harding's decision to walk away. It was not in a class where I assigned, lectured on, or asked any student to read The Warden. I have never done The Warden in a classroom as experience has taught me the majority of students will read for surface and see the story as about an old man who is some kind of clerical (b-o-r-i-n-g) and will not be able to see the pattern beneath the particulars. Mr Harding would be to most of them what he is to the young tough who sees him in the London supper-house: 'an old cock'. Or just as dismissive a 'sweet old man'.

However, I have brought the story up and told it more than once -- for the sake of the paradigm. In this particular instance we had been reading a novella by William Styron, _The Long March_. I forget the details about the story except that it is about a group of marines who are driven by a dense bully to walk an impossibly gruelling long way lest they lose face in front of one another.

In some way that resembles what happens on lists the class discussion turned to what happened if there was something you prized terribly, that was very dear to you, and you even needed, but that the cost to you, the price -- not in money but other ways -- was too high, would you be able to endure the scoffs and derision of those around you and walk away from this thing. The idea too was that the thing itself involved doing something you disapproved of or were uncomfortable doing. The girl told a story about a coach who had hounded her to compete to the point of nearly breaking her body (hurting herself permanently) and mercilessly scorned the lot of them if they didn't 'come up to snuff'. At some point she apparently got up, talked back to him, and walked away. The result was she lost a scholarship. She was not at all admired -- or if she was, it was a quiet admiration she only heard about afterwards. But as she walked away she felt real peace of mind, tranquillity; she'd do without it. She also struck out against the bullying and whole system she had endured for some time. She told of this experience in the class before everyone. I think it was cathartic for her.

I think this is why I don't see Mr Harding's act as super good, as that of a goody-goody or (as I have been reading in Hugh Hennedy) some kind of Christian impossibility or version of sainthood. If we do that, we dismiss him. We say oh, this is unreal, and it is therefore irrelevant to our lives. No one would do this. No one? One of my favorite quotes is from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre where she says:

"I can live alone, if self-respect and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure, born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld; or offered only at a price I cannot afford to pay" -----Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

This too lifts the act into the realm of metaphor too far, perhaps to keep it safe from the realm of the cowardly and nervous to which Mr Harding's act is made also to belong.

I told that girl, 'You did a Mr Harding.' 'What's a Mr Harding said she.' And I told the story of the warden, oops, precentor :). In another book which uses the same paradigm, James Baldwin talks about the price of the ticket to worldly success. He says it's often too high, and says at times he has made decisions which endangered his seat on the train, which in fact threw him off for a while. I like to think of times in which I have made decisions like Mr Harding's, where the price of the thing was too high and so I walked away. It's not a goody-goody act. It's not an unreal decision few make. It's one some of us have made more than once.

Ellen Moody

To which Laurie Guilfoyle responded as follows:

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] More on The Warden: Walking Away

When the Price is Too High On a most basic level, the greatest need is to live with oneself-for those people who are not fed primarily by the opinions of others and material possessions the giving up while difficult, is the way they must live with themselves.

What brought Mr. Harding all the long way from initially being directed by what others would think of him, to the realization that he would do what he believed was right, is the beauty of the book.

An old friend recently told me of how he renounced a substantial future inheritance rather than, in essence, betray his sibling. I think most people would have gone along with it, or let it pass over "like water on a ducks back," rather than give up a great deal of money.

What makes Mr. Harding so remarkable is that the English culture is so strongly conforming. One just doesn't make a fuss, make waves. This mild, sweet old man made such a strong and unequivocal statement-and stuck with it despite the assaults by those close to him. Why he is nearly a radical, our Mr. Harding!


Now John Mize wrote in again:

Subject: [trollope-l] Trol: The Warden: Mr. Quiverful Can't Walk

From: John Mize

I found the comparison between Mr. Harding and Mr. Quiverful interesting. Mr. Harding can walk away from the position of warden, because he will still have a small income. He is making a big sacrifice, as he is going from a comfortable existence to one of genteel poverty, but he will not starve. More importantly, he doesn't have a lot of dependents. He has two daughters. One is already married; the other will soon marry. By contrast, Mr. Quiverful has twelve children. Dr. Grantly is fairly sure Mr. Quiverful will take the position of warden, no matter what, because, a man with twelve children is in no position to quibble, when he has a chance to double his income.

John Mize

Then R. J. Keefe spoke:

Subject: RE: [trollope-l] More on The Warden: Walking Away
From: "R J Keefe"

Another reminder that Mr. Harding is no goody-goody lies in his constant reference to the pain that the articles in the Jupiter have caused him, and his determination to run the risk of no further such lacerations. The warden's sense of right and wrong remains a very public matter, despite the fact that none of his 'friends' agrees with his decision to resign. That's why he won't accept the backup arrangements offered by the bishop and the archdeacon: they'd look bad. As Ellen Moody says, Mr. Harding is no pillar-fanatic. In his principled way he remains a very worldly man.

RJ Keefe

I picked up this tune:

Re: The Warden: A Worldly Good Man

In response to John M and RJ, I'd like to comment that Trollope persuades us to believe in and not to resent Mr Harding because his goodness is predicated on an understanding of what he in his position can and cannot do. He is willing to give up far more than most people would, and even risks having sufficient income to live in minimal comfort: Crabtree without the Precentorship is not enough. The two together might support a 'lifestyle something in the order of the Crawleys: a very thin layer of butter on toast and weak tea is the average meal in their house, and they sit around in a perpetual slight shiver (they go easy on those coals). He also finds himself worrying about how he will make it from one job to the other in much the way some of us do. Further, this is realistic. Realistically people often find themselves having to make choices which are not a matter of terrific luxury (Dedlocks in Chesney Wold) versus starvation (Jo sweeping the streets), but rather something which is safer, more comfortable, and much more respected than something else.

Mr Harding is also not innocent, not ignorant. Dickens asks us to believe that Prince Turveydrop believes in his father's hypocritical spiel; we squirm but at the same time grow irritated at these innocents fleeced by those who are cunning and knows how to sling pious talk. Dickens seeks to make us feel bitterer by having the vulnerable and exploited be and seem so innocent (Caddy Jellyby never says she loathes her mother; is in fact continually trying to get the woman to love her back). To many modern readers this just makes his fiction unconvincing or 'sentimental'. How can a saint who is innocent be relevant to us? Except if we believe they are stupid -- or Dickens's preferred term, childlike. And then we are only angered for the sake of those we see exploited who don't quite or refuse to acknowledge it. When Mr Harding refuses to worship or serve power, he does so with a full understanding of the complexities and ambiguities of the situation. He understands that to give up his position is to weaken the church. He does not believe Towers is a good man, only that he is powerful enough and smart enough to formulate this one issue in a way that shows Mr Harding to be exploitative and in the wrong. He never sees his son-in-law as an ogre, merely as insensitive and amoral when it comes to recognising he could possibly be in the wrong. It is to be noted that Mr Harding never thinks to write to the Jupiter in reply. He resembles the Archdeacon in his understanding such a procedure is worse than useless. Unlike Bold and his daughter, Eleanor, he seems to know that once the issue is brought up, no individual can end it since it will be in someone's interest to milk it for all it's worth.

Perhaps the one place where we might say Trollope has sweetened the portrait on the side of pure idealism is in the unqualified nature of Mr Harding's relief. At the close of An Old Man's Love, Mr Whittlestaff refuses to say he does not regret what he has lost by his decision; there is a candid bitterness about the loneliness and defeat of Mr Whittlestaff we don't find in Mr Harding's resignation. Of course in Mr Harding's case he has just given up a job. That's all it is after all. He has left a loving daughter, a good friend (the bishop), a son-in-law who certainly will not desert him even though he may roar and roar, and his violoncello, not to omit a neat niche in the cathedral close itself; in Mr Whittlestaff's case he is left all alone; it's not a job he gives up, it's a loving companion -- though he gives the young pretty Mary Lawrie up because he understands that she would not be loving to such a old man as he is now that her young man has returned to her.

Maybe the principled man can be an object of admiration to thinking people only when his principled stance is based on a real understanding of how the world works. When in He Knew He Was Right Priscilla Stanbury choses to live her old maid-minimalist existence in her tiny cottage, she says this way she is obliged only to a tiny pension she shares with her mother who leaves her free. She makes no grand gestures -- neither does Mr Harding. They are silly.

Ellen Moody

Re: _The Warden_: A Worldly Good Man -- Oops!

I made a goof: what I should have written is 'Crabtree without the Precentorship is not enough. _Either one alone_ would support a 'lifestyle something in the order of the Crawleys: a very thin layer of butter on toast and weak tea is _a common_ meal in the Crawley parsonage, and they sit around in a perpetual slight shiver (they go easy on those coals). As probably do the Smiths' . . .


Tyler Tichelaar then wrote in:


I have neglected reading earlier posts on this weeks readings until I had the chance to finish the novel, so if I say anything that has already been covered please forgive me.

I was very moved by the end of the novel, especially by Mr. Harding's final meeting with the bedesman. The end is rather sentimental, I couldn't help thinking, and while not to the extreme of Dickens, I think it shows that Trollope wasn't above using sentiment where he thought it was needed. He could have created a much more matter-of-fact depiction of Mr. Harding without the sentiment, but then otherwise, would we have liked him?

I felt an awkward moment in the novel was when the narrator apologized for the picture he created of Dr. Grantly (chapter 20). The narrator says he has lacked the opportunity of presenting Dr. Grantly on strong ground, but now has to throw in a kind word for him. Part of me felt like Trollope shouldn't apologize when he could have instead presented Dr. Grantly in a better light if he had chosen. But it also seems that Dr. Grantly may be negative in one aspect of his life, yet be good in many others. I'll be interested to see if Dr. Grantly is presented in a better light in the later Barchester novels.

Finally, unless I missed something, Trollope did not explain why as the besdesman die off in the future that they are not replaced. Is this because there is no longer any Warden to watch over them and choose replacements? If they are not replaced, what happens to the money from Hiram's estate? And without a Warden, what is happening to those 800 pounds? Are they just sitting in a bank somewhere collecting interest, or is the church able to use the money for some other purpose without violating the terms of Hiram's will? Could someone enlighten me as to this problem?

Thanks everyone for reading this novel. I'll be leaving on vacation in a couple days so I'll have to leave the list, but I'll be back in two weeks and catching up on Barchester Towers so I can continue to discuss it.

Tyler Tichelaar

As no one else responded to why the position of Warden was left unfilled, I tried.

Re: The Warden: Allowing Positions to Go Unfilled

To Tyler, It seems to be in the Bishop's power to allow the position of warden and the places for the old men to go unfilled. This is simply what the text says, so we must accept it.

We see this sort of thing happen in our own time again and again: I mean positions which have become political footballs. I believe at this time in the US the position of Surgeon General has no one in place. The various people who care about it are still fighting over who to put there. This is due to the previous man who held the office: for the first time Koop made it a significant place from which someone could speak. This was not how it had been used before. Clinton replaced the person who had been in it with a black woman who was hounded from it (and I believe her son ended up in gaol -- just for good measure I suppose). For a while judgeships weren't being filled because of political in-fighting. So the Wardenship is now a political football. Dr Grantly warned the old men that they might end up in a worse position. They have -- because they are still powerless -- given no enforcing mechanism by which they can have a genuinely good comfortable lifestyle. That was not in Hiram's will.

Trollope does use emotion and he uses it strongly when need be. In fact he can be very melodramatic. The Warden has in general not been such a book because he conceived it as a book on an issue and partly satire. I see his apology for the Archdeacon in the same light as his denial until the very end of his life that he had not had St Cross in mind: he is trying to placate those whose ox he knows he has gored. After all an author is a real person in a real world and can be hurt by making too many enemies and then where would his 'pulpit' be? Thackeray called novels sermons in disguise.


Then R. J. Keefe wrote in:

Subject: RE: [trollope-l] The Warden

From: "R J Keefe"

Like Tyler Tichelaar, I found Mr. Harding's last drink with the bedesmen very effecting. Actually, it was his benediction that got to me: it was brief but orthodox, not improvised in any way. Trollope's writing is as well-larded with scriptural references as any Victorian's, but this unusual breath of Common Prayer, placed so neatly and sincerely, had me blinking back a surprised tear.

I also agree with Tyler that Trollope seems to tie up the affairs of Hiram's Hospital in an implausible way. One would think that Tom Towers would have increased the hail of thunderbolts upon the warden's resignation, and jolted into being some commission to reform the Hospital. Trollope's ending is 'satisfying' but unrealistic. It's perhaps also a kindness to the bedemen. They're maintained quietly, if coldly, but spared the attentions of inquiring do-gooders and their inevitably unpleasant 'improvements.'

RJ Keefe

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] The Warden

From: "Angela Richardson"

I think its interesting about The Warden that Trollope shows us that Mr Harding is right in what he has done but he does it in such a way that no political point is gained and no abuses are swept away. In resigning his place he makes it clear that it is perfectly ok for anyone else to take it over, that there is nothing wrong with the use of the money, in fact. Yet the whole book completely persuades us that Mr Harding is a moral touchstone and therefore his actions are right and true not just for him but for all other wardens.


John Mize had the last word:

Mr. Harding has little appetite for dictating to others. He's concerned about his own conscience, but what other people do is between them and God, and, if it comes to that, between them and the law. Even Dr. Grantly isn't overly concerned with policing the moral behavior of others. I've just started Barchester Towers, and Dr. Grantly and Mr. Harding are going to meet some people who consider them very negligent in their duty to keep their sheep morally straight.

John Mize

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