Scenes of Clerical Life | George Eliot | General Fiction | Talking Book | English | 1/9



chapter 1 of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by bruce pirie scenes of clerical life by George Eliot the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton chapter 1 Shepperton Church was a very different looking building five and 20 years ago to be sure it's substantial stone tower looks at you through its intelligent high the clock with the friendly expression of former days but in everything else what changes now there is a wide span of slated roof flanking the old steeple the windows are tall and symmetrical the outer doors are resplendent with oak graining the inner doors reverentially noiseless with a garment of red baize and the walls you are convinced no lichen will ever again affect a settlement on they are smooth and in nutrient as the summit of the Reverend Amos Barton's head after 10 years of baldness and supererogatory soul pass through the bays doors and you will see the nave filled with well shaped benches understood to be free seats while in certain eligible corner is less directly under the fire of the clergyman's I there are pews reserved for the Shepparton gentility ample galleries are supported on iron pillars and in one of them stands the crowning glory the very class bore a gret of Shepperton church adornment namely an organ not very much out of repair on which a collector of small rents differentiated by the force of circumstances into an organist will accompany the alacrity of your departure after the blessing by a sacred minuet or an easy Gloria immense improvement as the well-regulated of mind which uninucleate a SHhhh enact the penny post and all guarantees of human advancement and has no moments when conservative reforming intellect takes a nap while imagination does a little Toryism by the sly reveling in regret that dear old Brown crumbling picturesque in efficient is everywhere giving place to spick-and-span new painted new varnished efficiency which will yield endless diagrams plans elevations and sections but alas no picture mine I fear is not a well-regulated mind it has an occasional tenderness for old abuses it lingers with a certain fondness over the days of kneazle clerks and top booted persons and has a sigh for the departed shades of vulgar errors so it is not surprising that I recall with a fond sadness Shepperton church as it was in the old days with its outer coat of roughest stucco it's red tiled roof its heterogeneous windows patched with the psaltery bits of painted glass and its little flight of steps with their wooden rail running up the outer wall and leading to the school children's gallery then inside what dear old quaintness –is which i began to look at with delight even when I was so crude a member of the congregation that my nurse found it necessary to provide for the reinforcement of my devotional patients by smuggling bread and butter into the sacred edifice there was the chancel guarded by two little cherubims looking uncomfortably squeezed between arch and wall and adorned with the escutcheons of the old and port family which showed me inexhaustible possibilities of meaning in their blood-red hands their deaths heads and crossbones their leopards pause and Maltese crosses there were inscriptions on the panels of the singing gallery telling of benefactions to the poor of Shepperton with an involuted elegance of capitals and final flourishes which my alphabetic Area Edition traced with ever new delight no benches in those days but huge roomy pews round which devout churchgoers sat during lessons trying to look anywhere else then into each other's eyes no low partitions allowing you with a dreary absence of contrast and mystery to see everything at all moments but tall dark panels under whose shadow I thank with a sense of retirement through the litany only to feel with more intensity my burst into the conspicuousness of public life when I was made to stand up on the seat during the Psalms or the singing and the thing was no mechanical affair of official routine it had a drama as the moment of Samadhi approached by some process to me as mysterious and untraceable as the opening of the flowers or the breaking out of the stars a slate appeared in front of the gallery advertising in bold characters the thumb about to be sung lest the sonorous announcement of the clerk should still leave the bucolic mind in doubt on that head then followed the migration of the clerk to the gallery where in company with a bassoon to keep you goals a carpenter understood to have an amazing power of singing counter and to lesser musical stars he formed the compliment of a choir regarded in Shepparton as one of distinguished attraction occasionally known to draw hearers from the next parish the innovation of hymn books was as yet undreamed of even the new version was regarded with a sort of melancholy tolerance as part of the common degeneracy in a time when prices had dwindled and a cotton gown was no longer stout enough to last a lifetime for the lyrical taste of the best heads in Shepparton had been formed on stern hold and Hopkins but to the greatest triumphs of the Shepperton choir were reserved for the Sundays when the slate announced an anthem with a dignified abstinence from particular ization both words and music lying far beyond the reach of the most ambitious amateur in the congregation an anthem in which the key bugles always ran away at a great pace while the bassoon every now and then boomed a flying shot after them as for the clergyman mr. Gill fo an excellent old gentleman who smoked two very long pipes and preached very short sermons I must not speak of him or I might be tempted to tell the story of his life which had its little romance as most lives have between the ages of teetotum and tobacco and at present I am concerned with quite another sort of clergyman the Reverend Amos Barton who did not come to Shepperton until long after mr. Gill fall had departed this life until after an interval in which evangelicalism and the Catholic question had begun to agitate the rustic mind with controversial debates a pope ish blacksmith had produced a strong Protestant reaction by declaring that as soon as the emancipation bill was passed he should do a great stroke of business in gridirons and the disinclination of the Shepperton parishioners generally to dim the unique glory of st. lawrence rendered the church and constitution an affair of their business and bosoms a zealous evangelical preacher had made the old sounding board vibrate with quite a different sort of elocution for mr. Gill fills the hymn book had almost superseded the old and new versions and the great square pews were crowded with new faces from distant corners of the parish perhaps from dissenting chapels you are not imagining I hope that Amos Barton was the incumbent of Shepperton he was no such thing those were days when a man could hold three small livings starv accurate apiece on two of them and live badly himself on the third it was so with the vicar of Shepperton a vicar given to bricks-and-mortar and thereby running into debt far away in a northern County who executed his Vicario functions towards Shepperton by pocketing the sum of 35 pounds 10 per annum the net surplus remaining to him from the proceeds of that living after the disbursement of 80 pounds as the annual stipend of his curate and now pray can you solve me the following problem given a man with a wife and six children let him be obliged always to exhibit himself when outside his own door in a suit of black broadcloth such as will not undermine the foundations of the establishment by a paltry plebeian glossiness or an unseemly whiteness at the edges in a snowy cravat which is a serious investment of Labor in the hemming starching and ironing departments and in a hat which shows no symptom of taking to the hideous doctrine of expediency and shaping itself according to circumstances let him have a parish large enough to create an external necessity for abundant shoe leather and an internal necessity for abundant beef and mutton as well as poor enough to require frequent priestly consolation in the shape of shillings and sixpences and lastly let him be compelled by his own pride and other people's to dress his wife and children with gentility from bonnet strings to shoe strings by what process of division can the sum of 80 pounds per annum be made to yield a quotient which will cover that man's weekly expenses this was the problem presented by the position of the Reverend Amos Burton as curate of Shepperton rather more than twenty years ago what was thought of this problem and of the man who had to work it out by some of the well-to-do inhabitants of Shepperton two years or more after mr. Barton's arrival among them you shall hear if you will accompany me to cross far and to the fireside of mrs. Patton a childless old lady who had got rich chiefly by the negative process of spending nothing mrs. Patton's passive accumulation of wealth through all sorts of bad times on the farm of which she had been sole tenant since her husband's death her epigrammatic neighbor mrs. Hacket sarcastically accounted for by supposing that six pencils grew on the bents of cross farm while mr. Hackett expressing his views more literally reminded his wife that money breeds money mr. and mrs. Hackett from the neighboring farm are mrs. Patton's guests this evening so is mr. pilgrim the doctor from the nearest market town who though occasionally affecting aristocratic heirs and giving late dinners with enigmatic side dishes and poisonous part he is never so comfortable as when he is relaxing his professional legs in one of those excellent farmhouses where the mice are sleek and the mistress sickly and he is at this moment in clover for the flickering of mrs. Patton's bright fire is reflected in her bright copper teakettle the home made muffins glistened with an inviting succulents and mrs. Patton's nice a single lady of fifty who has refused the most ineligible offers out of devotion to her aged and is pouring the rich cream into the fragrant tea with a discreet liberality reader did you ever taste such a cup of tea as miss Gibbs is this moment ending to mr. pilgrim do you know the dulcet strength the animating blandness of tea sufficiently blended with real farmhouse cream no most likely you are a miserable town bread reader who think of cream as a finish white fluid delivered in infinitesimal penny Worth's down area steps or perhaps from a presentiment of calves brains you refrain from any lacteal addition and rasp your tongue with unmitigated bo-hee you have a vague idea of a milk cow as probably a white plaster animal standing in the butter man's window and you know nothing of the sweet history of genuine cream such as miss Gibbs –is how it was this morning in the others of the large sleek beasts as they stood lowing a patient and treaty under the milking shed how it fell with a pleasant rhythm into Betty's pail sending a delicious incense into the cool air how it was carried into that temple of moist cleanliness the dairy where it quietly separated itself from the meaner elements of milk and lay in mellowed whiteness ready for the skimming dish which transferred it to miss Gibbs's glass screams ugh if I am right in my conjecture you are unacquainted with the highest possibilities of tea and mr. pilgrim who is holding that cup in his hands has an idea beyond you mrs. Hacket declines cream she has so long abstained from it with an eye to the weekly butter money that abstinence wedded to habit has begotten a version she is a thin woman with a chronic liver complaint which would have secured her mr. pilgrims entire regard and unreserved good word even if he had not been in awe of her tongue which was as sharp as his own Lancet she has brought her knitting no frivolous fancied knitting but a substantial woolen stalking the click-click of her knitting needles is the running accompaniment to all her conversation and in her utmost enjoyment of spoiling a friend's self-satisfaction she was never known to spoil a stocking mrs. Patton does not admire this excessive click clicking activity quiescence in an easy-chair under the sense of compound interest perpetually accumulating has long seemed an ample function to her and she does her malevolence gently she is a pretty little old woman of 80 with a closed cap and tiny flat white curls round her face as natty and unsoiled and invariable as the wax an image of a little old lady under a glass case once a lady's maid and married for her beauty she used to adore her husband and now she adores her money cherishing a quiet blood relations hatred for her niece Janet Gibbs who she knows expects a large legacy and whom she is determined to disappoint her money shall all go in a lump to a distant relation of her husband's and Janet shall be saved the trouble of pretending to cry by finding that she is left with a miserable pittance mrs. Patton has more respect for her neighbor mr. Hackett than for most people mr. Hackett is a shrewd substantial man whose advice about crops is always worth listening to and who is too well-off to want to borrow money and now that we are snug and warm with this little tea party while it is freezing with February bitterness outside we will listen to what they are talking about soul said mr. pilgrim with his mouth only half empty of muffin you had a row in Shepparton church last Sunday I was at Jim hoods the bassoon man's this morning attending his wife and he swears he'll be revenged on the parson a confounded Methodist achill meddlesome chap who must be putting his finger in every pie what was it all about Oh a passel on nonsense said mr. Hackett sticking one thumb between the buttons of his capacious waistcoat and retaining a pinch of snuff with the other for he was but moderate be given to the cups that cheer but not inebriate and had already finished his tea they began to sing the wedding psalm for a new married couple as pretty as saman as pretty a tune as any in the prayer-book it's being sung for every new married couple since I was a boy and what can be better here mr. Hacket stretched out his left arm threw back his head and broke into melody oh what a happy thing it is and joyful for to see brethren to dwell together in friendship and unity but mr. Burton is all for the hymns and a sort of music as I can't join in at all and so said mr. pilgrim recalling mr. Hackett from lyrical reminiscences to narrative he called out silence did he when he got into the pulpit and gave a hymn out himself to some meetinghouse tune yes said mrs. Hackett stooping towards the candle to pick up a stitch and turned as red as a turkey I often say when he preaches about meekness he gives himself a slap in the face he's like me he's got a temper of his own rather a low bred fellow I think Barton said mr. pilgrim who hated the Reverend Amos for two reasons because he had called in a new doctor recently settled in Shepparton and because being himself a dabbler in drugs he had the credit of having cured a patient of mr. pilgrims they say his father was a dissenting shoemaker and he's half a dissenter himself why doesn't he preach extemporary in that cottage up here of a Sunday evening sure this was mr. Hackett's favorite interjection that preachin without books no good only when a man has a gift and has the Bible at his fingers ends it was all very well for Perry he'd a gift and in my youth I've heard the ranters outdoors in Yorkshire go on for an hour or two on end without ever sticking fast a minute there was one clever chap I remember is used to say you're like the woodpigeon it says dududu all day and never sets about any work itself that's bringing it home to people but our Parsons no gift at all that way he can preach as good a sermon as need be heard when he writes it down but when he tries to preach without book he rambles about and doesn't stick to his text and every now and then he flounders about like a sheep as has cast itself and can't get Hunt's legs again you wouldn't like that mrs. Patton if you was to go to church now hey I'm dear said mrs. Patton falling back in her chair and lifting up her little withered hands what would mr. Gill fool say if he was worthy to know the changes as have come about to the church these last 10 years I don't understand these new sort of doctrines when mr. Barton comes to see me he talks about nothing but my sins and my need a Marcy no mr. Hackett I've never been a sinner from the first beginning when I went into service I always did my duty by my employers I was a good wife as any in the county never aggravated my husband the cheese factor used to say my cheese was always to be depended on I've known women as their cheese's swelled ashamed to be seen when their husbands had counted on the cheese money to make up their rent and yet they'd three gowns to my one if I'm not to be saved I know a many as are in a bad way but it's well for me as I can't go to church any longer for if the old singers are to be done away with there'll be nothing left as it was in mr. Patton's time and what's more I hear you settled to pull the church down and build it up new now the fact was that the Reverend Amos Barton on his last visit to mrs. Patton had urged her to enlarge her promised subscription of 20 pounds representing to her that she was only a steward of her riches and that she could not spend them more for the glory of God than by giving a heavy subscription towards the rebuilding of Shepperton church a practical precept which was not likely to smooth the way to her acceptance of his theological doctrine mr. Hackett who had more doctrinal enlightenment than mrs. Patton had been a little shocked by the heathenism of her speech and was glad of the new turn given to the subject by this question addressed to him as churchwarden and an authority in all parochial matters ah he answered the Parsons bothered us into it at last and we're to begin pulling down this spring but we haven't got money enough yet I was for waiting till we'd made up the sum and for my part I think the congregation's fell off of late though mr. Barton says that's because there's been no room for the people when they've come you see the congregation got so large in Perry's time the people stood in the aisles but there's never any crowd now as I can see well said mrs. Hackett whose good nature began to act now that it was a little in contradiction with the dominant tone of the conversation I like mr. Barton I think he's a good sort of man for all he's not overburdened in the upper story and his wife's is nice a ladylike woman as I'd wish to see how nice she keeps her children and little enough money to do it with and a delicate creature six children and another are coming I don't know how they make both ends meet I'm sure now her aunt has left him but I sent him a cheese and a sack of potatoes last week that's something towards filling the little mouths ah said Mr Hackett and my wife makes mr. Barton a good stiff glass of brandy and water when he comes into supper after his cottage preaching the parson likes it it puts a bit of colour into his face and makes him look a deal handsomer this allusion to brandy and water suggested to miss Gibbs the introduction of the liquor decanters now that the tea was cleared away for in bucolic society five and twenty years ago the human-animal of the male sex was understood to be perpetually a thirst and something to drink was as necessary a condition of thought as time and space now that cottage preaching said mr. pilgrim mixing himself a strong glass of cold without I was talking about it to our parson Ely the other day and he doesn't approve of it at all he said it did as much harm as good to give a too familiar aspect to religious teaching that was what Ely said it does as much harm as good to give a too familiar aspect to religious teaching mr. pilgrim generally spoke with an intermittent kind of splutter indeed one of his patients had observed that it was a pity such a clever man had a pediment in his speech but when he came to what he conceived the pith of his argument or the point of his joke he mouthed out his words with slow emphasis as a hen when advertising her a Koosh meant passes at irregular intervals from pianissimo semi quavers to fortissimo crotchets he thought this speech of mr. Ely's particularly metaphysical and profound and the more decisive of the question because it was a generality which represented no particulars to his mind well I don't know about that said mrs. Hackett who had always the courage of her opinion but I know some of our laborers and Stocking us as used never to come to church come to the cottage and that's better than never hearing anything good from weeks and two weeks end and there's that tract societies as mr. Barton has begun I've seen more of the poor people with going tracking than all the time I've lived in the parish before and there'd need be something done among them for the drinking of them benefit clubs is shameful there's hardly a steady man or steady woman either but what's a dissenter during this speech of mrs. Hackett's mr. pilgrim had emitted a succession of little snorts something like the treble grunts of a guinea pig which were always him the sign of suppressed disapproval but he never contradicted mrs. Hacket a woman whose potluck was always to be relied on and who on her side had unlimited reliance on bleeding blistering and drafts mrs. Patton however felt equal disapprobation and had no reasons for suppressing it well she remarked I've heard of no good from interfering with one's neighbors poor or rich and I hate the sight of women going about traipsing from house to house in all weathers wet or dry and coming in with their petticoats dead and their shoes all over mud Janet wanted to join in the tracking but I told it right have nobody tracking outta my house when I'm gone she may do as she likes I never dared my petticoats in my life and I have no opinion of that sort of religion no said mr. Hackett who was fond of soothing the acerbity 's of the feminine mind with a jocose compliment you held your petticoats so high to show your trait ankles it isn't everybody has likes to show her ankles this joke met with general acceptance even from the snubbed Janet whose ankles were only tight in the sense of looking extremely squeezed by her boots but Janet seemed always to identify herself with her aunt's personality holding her own under protest under cover of the general laughter the gentlemen replenished their glasses mr. pilgrim attempting to give his the character of a stirrup Cup by observing that he must be going miss Gibbs seized this opportunity of telling mrs. Hacket that she suspected betty the dairymaid of frying the best bacon for the shepherd when he sat up with her to help brew whereupon mrs. Hacket replied that she had always thought betty false and mrs. Patton said there was no bacon stolen when she was able to manage mr. Hackett Roux often complained that he never saw the light two women with their maids he never had any trouble with his men avoided listening to this discussion by raising the question of vetches with mr. pilgrim the stream of conversation had thus diverged and no more was said about the Reverend Amos Barton who is the main object of interest to us just now so we may leave cross farm without waiting till mrs. Hacket resolutely donning her clogs and wrappings renders it incumbent on mr. pilgrim also to fulfill his frequent threat of going end of chapter one of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton you chapter 2 of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter 2 it was happy for the river and Amos Barton that he did not like on us over here the conversation recorded in the last chapter indeed what mortal is there of us who would find his satisfaction enhanced by an opportunity of comparing the picture he presents to himself of his own doings with the picture they make on the mental retina of his neighbor's we are poor plants buoyed up by the air vessels of our own conceit alas for us if we get a few pinches that empty us of that windy self subsistence the very capacity for good would go out of us for tell the most impassioned orator suddenly that his wig is awry or his shirt lap hanging out and that he is tickling people by the oddity of his person instead of thrilling them by the energy of his periods and you would infallibly dry up the spring of his eloquence that is a deep and wide saying that no miracle can be wrought without faith without the workers faith in himself as well as the recipients faith in him and the greater part of the workers faith in himself is made up of the faith that others believe in him let me be persuaded that my neighbor Jenkins considers me a blockhead and I shall never shine in conversation with him any more let me discover that the lovely Phoebe thinks my squint intolerable and I shall never be able to fix her blandly with my disengaged eye again thank heaven LAN that a little illusion is left to us to enable us to be useful and agreeable that we don't know exactly what our friends think of us that the world is not made of looking glass to show us just to the figure we are making and just what is going on behind our backs by the help of dear friend Li illusion we are able to dream that we are charming and our faces where are becoming heir of self-possession we are able to dream that other men admire our talents and our benignity is undisturbed we are able to dream that we are doing much good and we do a little thus it was with Amos Barton on that very Thursday evening when he was the subject of the conversation at cross farm he had been dining at mr. Farquhar 's the secondary squire of the parish and stimulated by unwanted gravies and port-wine had been delivering his opinion on affairs parochial and otherwise with considerable animation and he was now returning home in the moonlight a little chill it is true for he had just now no great coat compatible with clerical dignity and a fur boa around ones neck with a waterproof cape over one's shoulders doesn't frighten away the cold from one's legs but entirely unsuspicious not only of mr. Hackett's estimate of his oratorical powers but also of the critical remarks passed on him by the mrs. Farquhar as soon as the drawing-room door had closed behind him miss julia had observed that she never heard anyone sniff so frightfully as mr. Barton did she had a great mind to offer him her pocket-handkerchief and miss Arabella wondered why he always said he was going for to do a thing he excellent man was meditating fresh pastoral exertions on the morrow he would set on foot his lending library in which he had introduced some books that would be a pretty sharp blow to the dissenters one especially purporting to be written by Howe working man who out of pure zeal for the welfare of his class took the trouble to warn them in this way against those hypocritical thieves the dissenting preachers the Reverend Amos Barton profoundly believed in the existence of that working man and had thoughts of writing to him dissent he considered would have its head bruised in Shepparton for did he not attack it in two ways he preached low church doctrine as evangelical as anything to be heard in the independent chapel and he made a high church assertion of ecclesiastical powers and functions clearly the dissenters would feel that the parson was too many for them nothing like a man who combines shrewdness with energy the wisdom of the serpent mr. Barton considered was one of his strong points look at him as he winds through the little churchyard the silver light that falls a slant on Church and tomb enables you to see his slim black figure made all the slimmer by tight pantaloons as it flits past to the pale gravestones he walks with a quick step and is now rapping with sharp decision at the vicarage door it is opened without delay by the nurse cook and housemaid all at once that is to say by the robust meat of all work nanny and as mr. Barton hangs up his hat in the passage you see that a narrow face of no particular complexion even the smallpox that has attacked it seems to have been of a mongrel indefinite kind with features of no particular shape and an eye of no particular expression is surmounted by a slope of baldness gently rising from to crown you judge him rightly to be about 40 the house is quiet for it is half past 10 and the children have long been gone to bed he opens the sitting-room door but instead of seeing his wife as he expected stitching with the nimblest of fingers by the light of one candle he finds her dispensing with the light of a candle altogether she is softly pacing up and down by the red firelight holding in her arms Little Walter the year-old baby who looks over her shoulder with large wide-open eyes while the patient mother Pat's his back with her soft hand and glances with a sigh at the heap of large and small stockings lying unmended on the table she was a lovely woman mrs. Amos Barton a large fair gentle Madonna with thick clothes chestnut curls beside her well rounded cheeks and with large tender short-sighted eyes the flowing lines of her tall figure made the lympus dress look graceful and her old frayed black silk seemed to repose on her bust and limbs with a placid elegance and sense of distinction in strong contrast with the uneasy sense of being no fit that seemed to express itself in the rustling of mrs. Farquhar s groan appala the caps she wore would have been pronounced when off her head utterly heavy and hideous for in those days even fashionable caps were large and floppy but surmounting her long arched neck and mingling their borders of cheap lace and ribbon with her chestnut curls they seemed miracles of successful millinery among strangers she was shy and tremulous as a girl of fifteen she blushed crimson if anyone appealed to her opinion yet that tall graceful substantial presence was so imposing in its mildness that men spoke to her with an agreeable sensation of timidity soothing unspeakable charm of gentlewoman hood which supersedes all acquisitions all accomplishments you would never have asked at any period of mrs. Amos Barton's life if she sketched or played the piano you would even perhaps have been rather scandalized as she had defended from the serene dignity of being to the assiduous unrest of doing happy the man you would have thought whose I will rest on her in the pauses of his fireside reading whose hot aching for head will be soothed by the contact of her cool soft hand who will recover himself from dejection at his mistakes and failures in the loving light of her on reproaching eyes you would not perhaps have anticipated that this bliss would fall to the share of precisely such a man as Amos barton whom you have already surmised not to have the refined sensibilities for which you might have imagined mrs. Barton's qualities to be destined by pre-established harmony but I for one do not grudge Amos Barton this sweet wife I have all my life had a sympathy for mongrel ungainly dogs who are nobody's pets and I would rather surprise one of them by a pat and a pleasant morsel then meet the condescending advances of the loveliest Skye Terrier who has his cushion by my lady's chair that to be sure is not the way of the world if it happens to see a fellow of fine proportions and aristocratic mean who makes no faux pas and wins golden opinions from all sorts of men its straightway picks out for him the loveliest of unmarried women and says there would be a proper match not at all I'll say I let that successful well shapen discreet and able gentleman put up with something less than the best in the matrimonial department and let the sweet woman go to make sunshine and a soft pillow for the poor devil whose legs are not models whose efforts are often blunders and who in general gets more kicks than hey pants she the sweet woman will like it as well for her sublime capacity of loving will have all the more scope and I venture to say mrs. Barton's nature would never have grown half so angelic if she had married the man you would perhaps have had in your eye for her a man with sufficient income and abundant personal a claw besides Amos was an affectionate husband and in his way valued his wife as his best treasure but now he has shut to the door behind him and said well Millie well dear was the corresponding greeting made eloquent by a smile so that young rascal won't go to sleep can't you give him to nanny why nanny has been busy ironing this evening but I think I'll take him to her now and mrs. Barton glided towards the kitchen while her husband ran upstairs to put on his Mays coloured dressing-gown in which costume he was quietly filling his long pipe when his wife returned to the sitting-room Mays is the color that decidedly did not suit his complexion and it is one that soon soils why then did mr. Barton select it for domestic wear perhaps because he had a knack of hitting on the wrong thing he in garb as well as in grammar mrs. Barton now lighted her candle and seated herself before her heap of stockings she had something disagreeable to tell her husband but she would not enter on it at once have you had a nice evening dear yes pretty well Ely was there to dinner but went away rather early miss Arabella is setting her cap at him with a vengeance but I don't think he's much smitten I've a notion Ealy's engaged to someone at a distance and will astonish all the ladies who are alike pushing for him here by bringing home his bride one of these days he'll ease a sly dog you like that did the farquar say anything about the singing last Sunday yes Farquhar said he thought it was time there was some improvement in the choir but he was rather scandalized at my setting the tune of Lydia he says he's always hearing it as he passes the independent meeting here mr. Barton laughed he had a way of laughing at criticisms that other people thought too damaging and thereby showed the remainder of a set of teeth which like the remnants of the old guard were few in number and very much the worse for wear but he continued mrs. Farquhar talked to the most about mr. Britt main and the countess she has taken up all the gossip about them and wanted to convert me to her opinion but I told her pretty strongly what I thought dear me why will people take so much pains to find out evil about others I have had a note from the countess since you went asking us to dine with them on Friday here mrs. Barton reached the note from the mantelpiece and gave it to her husband we will look over his shoulder while he reads it sweetest Millie bring your lovely face with your husband to dine with us on Friday at 7:00 do if not I will be sulky with you till Sunday when I shall be obliged to see you and shall long to kiss you at that very moment yours according to your answer Caroline sure Laskey just like her isn't it said mrs. Barton I suppose we can go yes I have no engagement the clerical meeting is tomorrow you know and deer woods the butcher called to say he must have some money next week he has a payment to make up this announcement made mr. Barton thoughtful he puffed more rapidly hend looked at the fire I think I must ask Hackett to lend me 20 pounds for it is nearly two months till lady-day and we can't give woods our last shilling I hardly like you to ask mr. Hackett's dear he and mrs. Hackett have been so very kind to us they have sent us so many things lately then I must ask olden port I'm going to write to him tomorrow morning for to tell him the arrangement I've been thinking of about having service in the workhouse while the church is being enlarged if he agrees to attend service there once or twice the other people will come net the large fish and you're sure to have the small fry I wish we could do without borrowing money and yet I don't see how we can poor Fred must have some new shoes I couldn't let him go to mrs. bonds yesterday because his toes were peeping out dear child and I can't let him walk anywhere except in the garden he must have a pair before Sunday really boots and shoes are the greatest trouble of my life everything else one can turn and turn about and to make old look like new but there's no coaxing boots and shoes to look better than they are mrs. Barton was playfully undervaluing her skill in metamorphosing boots and shoes she had at that moment on her feet a pair of slippers which had long ago lived through the prunella phase of their existence and were now running a respectable career as black silk slippers having been neatly covered with that material by mrs. Barton's own neat fingers wonderful fingers those they were never empty for if she went to spend a few hours with a friendly parishioner out came her thimble and a piece of calico or muslin which before she left had become a mysterious little garment with all sorts of hemmed and outs she was even trying to persuade her husband to leave off tight pantaloons because if he would wear the ordinary gun cases she knew she could make them so well that no one would suspect the sex of the tailor but by this time mr. Barton has finished his pipe the candle begins to burn low and mrs. Barton goes to see if nanny has succeeded in lulling Walter to sleep nanny is that moment putting him in the little cot by his mother's bedside the head with its thin wavelets of brown hair indents the little pillow and a tiny waxen dimpled fist hides the rosy lips for baby is given to the infantile peccadillo of thumb sucking so nanny could now join in the short evening prayer and all could go to bed mrs. Barton carried upstairs the remainder of her heaps of stockings and laid them on a table close to her bedside where also she placed a warm shawl removing her candle before she put it out – a tin socket fixed at the head of her bed her body was very weary but her heart was not heavy in spite of mr. woods the butcher and the transitory nature of shoe leather for her heart so overflowed with love she felt sure she was near a fountain of love that would care for her husband and babes better than she could foresee so she was soon asleep but about half-past five o'clock in the morning if there were any angels watching round her bed and angels might be glad of such an office they saw mrs. Barton rise up quietly careful not to disturb the slumbering Amos who was snoring the snore of the just light her candle prop herself up right with the pillows throw the warm shawl round her shoulders and renew her attack on the heap of under and stockings she darned away until she heard nanny stirring and then drowsiness came with the dawn the candle was put out and she sank into a doze but at nine o'clock she was at the breakfast-table busy cutting bread and butter for five hungry mouths while nanny baby on one arm in rosy cheeks fat neck and nightgown brought in a jug of hot milk and water nearest her mother sits the nine-year-old patty the eldest child whose sweet fair face is already rather grave sometimes and who always wants to run upstairs to save momma's legs which get so tired of an evening then there are four other blond heads two boys and two girls gradually decreasing in size down to chubby who is making a round oh of her mouth to receive a bit of Papa's baton Papa's attention was divided between petting chubby rebuking the noisy Fred which she did with a somewhat excessive sharpness and eating his own breakfast he had not yet looked at mama and did not know that her cheek was paler than usual but patty whispered mama have you the headache happily coal was cheap in the neighborhood of Shepperton and mr. Hackett would anytime let his horses draw a load for the parson without charge so there was a blazing fire in the sitting room and not without need for the vicarage garden as they looked out on it from the bow window was hard with black frost and the sky had the white Wally look that portends snow breakfast over mr. Barton mounted to his study and occupied himself in the first place with his letter to mr. Alden port it was very much the same sort of letter as most clergymen would have written under the same circumstances except that instead of perambulate the Reverend Amos wrote preamble eight and instead of if haply if happily the contingency indicated being the reverse of happy mr. Barton had not the gift of perfect accuracy in English orthography syntax which was unfortunate as he was not known to be a Hebrew scholar and not in the least suspected of being an accomplished chrétien these lapses in a man who had gone through the Eleusinian mysteries of a university education surprised the young ladies of his parish extremely especially the mrs. Farquhar whom he had once addressed in a letter as dear Mads apparently an abbreviation for Madame's the person's least surprised yet the Reverend Amos as deficiencies were his clerical brethren who had gone through the mysteries themselves at eleven o'clock mr. Barton walked forth in cape and boa with the sleet driving in his face to read prayers at the workhouse euphemistically called the college the college was a huge square stone building standing on the best apology for an elevation of ground that could be seen for about ten miles around Shepperton a flat ugly district this depressing enough to look at even on the brightest days the roads are black with coal dust the brick houses is dingy with smoke and at that time the time of handloom Weaver's every other cottage had a loom at its window where you might see a pale sickly looking man or woman pressing a narrow chest against a board and doing a sort of treadmill work with legs and arms a troublesome district for a clergyman at least to one who like Amos Barton understood the cure of souls in something more than an official sense for over and above the rustic stupidity furnished by the farm laborers the miners brought obstreperous animalism and the weavers in an acrid radicalism and dissent indeed mrs. Hackett often observed that the Colliers who many of them earned better wages than mr. Barton passed their time in doing nothing but swilling ale and smoking late the beasts that perish speaking we may presume in a remotely analogical sense and in some of the alehouse corners the drink was flavored by a dingy kind of infidelity something like rinsing zuv Tom pain in ditch water a certain amount of religious excitement created by the popular preaching of mr. Perry sheamus's predecessor had nearly died out and the religious life of Shepperton was falling back towards low-water mark here you perceive was a terrible stronghold of Satan and you may well pity the Reverend Amos Barton who had to stand single-handed and summon it to surrender we read indeed that the walls of Jericho fell down before the sound of trumpets but we know we're here that those trumpets were hoarse and feeble doubtless they were trumpets that gave forth clear ringing tones and sent a mighty vibration through brick and mortar but the oratory of the Reverend amos resembled rather a Belgian railway horn which shows praiseworthy intentions he inadequately fulfilled he often missed the right note both in public and private exhortation and got a little angry in consequence for though Amos thought himself strong he did not feel himself strong Nature had given him the opinion but not the sensation without that opinion he would probably never have warned cambric bands but would have been an excellent cabinet maker and deacon of an independent church as his father was before him he was not a shoemaker as mr. pilgrim had reported he might then have sniffed long and loud in the corner of his pew in gun Street Chapel he might have indulged in halting rhetoric at prayer meetings and have spoken faulty English in private life and these little infirmities would not have prevented him honest faithful man that he was from being a shining light in the Circle of bridgeport a tallow dip of the long ate description he is an excellent thing in the kitchen candlestick and Betty's nose and I are not sensitive to the difference between it and the finest wax it is only when you stick it in the silver candlestick and introduce it into the drawing-room that it seems plebeian dim and ineffectual alas for the worthy man who like that candle gets himself into the wrong place it is only the very largest souls who will be able to appreciate and pity him who will discern and love sincerity of purpose amid all the bungling feebleness of achievement but now Amos Barton has made his way through the City test far as the college has thrown off his hat cape and boa and is reading in the dreary stone floored dining room a portion of the morning service to the inmates seated on the benches before him remember the new Poor Law had not yet come into operation and mr. Barton was not acting as paid chaplain of the Union but as the pastor who had the cure of all souls in his parish popper as well as other after the prayers he always addressed to them a short discourse on some subject suggested by the lesson for the day striving if by this means some edifying matter might find its way into the popper mind and conscience perhaps a task as trying as you could well imagine to the faith and patience of any honest clergyman for on the very first bench these were the faces on which his eye had to rest watching whether there was any stirring under the stagnant surface right in front of him probably because he was stone deaf and it was deemed more edifying to hear nothing at a short distance than at a long one sat old maxim as he was familiarly called his real patronymic remaining a mystery to most persons a fine fella logical sense discerns in this cog no man an indication that the poplar patriarch had once been considered pithy and sententious in his speech but now the weight of 95 years lay heavy on his tongue as well as in his ears and he sat before the clergyman with protruded chin and munching mouth and eyes that seemed to look at emptiness next to him Sat Paul fudge known to the magistracy of her county as Mary Higgins a one-eyed woman with a scarred and see me face the most notorious rebel in the workhouse said to have once thrown her broth over the Masters coattails and who in spite of nature's apparent safeguards against that contingency had contributed to the perpetuation of the fudge characteristics in the person of a small boy who was behaving Nottoli on one of the back benches miss fudge fixed her once or eye on mr. Barton with a sort of Hardy defiance beyond this member of the softer sex at the end of the bench sat silly Jim a young man afflicted with hydrocephalus who rolled his head from side to side and gazed at the point of his nose these were the supporters of old maxim on his right on his left that mr. fidget a tall fellow who had once been a footman in the olden port family and in that giddy elevation had enunciated a contemptuous opinion of boiled beef which had been traditionally handed down in Shepparton as the direct cause of his ultimate reduction to popper Commons his calves were now shrunken and his hair was gray without the aid of powder but he still carried his chin as if he were conscious of a stiff cravat he said his dilapidated hat on with unknowing inclination towards the left ear and when he was on field work he carted and uncut with a sort of flunky grace the ghost of that Shanthi demeanor with which she used to usher in my ladies morning visitors the funky nature was nowhere completely subdued but in his stomach and he still divided society into Gentry Gentry's flunkies and the people who provided for them a clergyman without a flunky was an anomaly belonging to neither of these classes mr. Fitch had had an irrepressible tendency to drowsiness under spiritual instruction and in the recurrent regularity with which he dozed off until he nodded and awaked himself he looked not unlike a piece of mechanism ingeniously contrived for measuring the length of mr. Barton's discourse perfectly wide-awake on the contrary was his left-hand neighbor mrs. brick one of those hard undying old women to whom age seems to have given a network of wrinkles as a coach of magic armor against the attacks of winters warm or cold the point on which mrs. brick was still sensitive and the theme on which you might possibly excite her hope and fear was snuff it seemed to be an embalming powder helping her soul to do the office of salt and now eke out an audience of which this front bench fool was a sample with a certain number of refractory children over whom mr. Spratt the master of the workhouse exercised an irate surveillance and I think you will admit that the University taught clergyman whose office it is to bring home the gospel to a handful of such Souls has a sufficiently hard task for to have any chance of success short of miraculous intervention he must bring his geographical chronological exegetical mind pretty nearly to the popper point of view or of no view he must have some approximate conception of the mode in which the doctrines that have so much of ital in the plenum of his own brain will comport themselves in vacuo that is to say in a brain that is neither geographical chronological nor exegetical it is a flexible imagination that can take such a leap as that and an adroit tongue that can adapt its speech to so unfamiliar a position the Reverend Amos Barton had neither that flexible imagination nor that adroit tongue he talked of Israel and it's sins of chosen vessels of the Paschal Lamb of blood as a medium of reconciliation and he strove in this way to convey religious truth within reach of the fudge and fidgets mind this very morning the first lesson was the 12th chapter of Exodus and mr. Barton's exposition turned on unleavened bread nothing in the world more suited to the simple understanding than instruction through familiar types and symbols but there is always this danger attending it that the interest or comprehension of your hearers may stop short precisely at the point where your spiritual interpretation begins and mr. Barton this morning succeeded in carrying the popper imagination to the dough tub but unfortunately was not able to carry it upwards from that well-known object to the unknown truths which it was intended to shadow forth alas a natural incapacity for teaching finished by keeping terms at Cambridge where there are able mathematicians and butter is sold by the yard is not apparently the medium through which Christian doctrine will distill has welcomed you on withered souls and so while the sleet outside was turning to unquestionable snow and the stony dining room looked darker and dreary and mr. Fitchett was nodding his lowest and mr. sprat was boxing the boys ears with a constant rim sendou as he felt more keenly the approach of dinnertime mr. Barton wound up his exhortation with something of the February chill at his heart as well as his feet mr. phichit thoroughly roused now the instruction was at an end obsequious ly and gracefully advanced to help mr. Barton in putting on his cape while mrs. brick rubbed her withered forefinger round and round her little shoe shaped snuff box vainly seeking for the fraction of a pinch I can't help thinking that if mr. Barton had shaken into that little box a small portion of scotch hydride he might have produced something more like an amiable emotion in mrs. bricks mind than anything she had felt under his mornings exposition of the unleavened bread but how a good Amos labored under a deficiency of small tact as well as of small cash and when he observed the action of the old woman's forefinger he said in his brusque way so your snuff is all gone hey mrs. bricks eyes twinkled with the visionary hope that the parson might be intending to replenish her box at least immediately through the present of a small copper ah well you'll soon be going where there is no more snuff he'll be in need of mercy then you must remember that you may have to seek for mercy and to not find it just as you're seeking for snuff at the first sentence of this admonition the twinkle subsided from mrs. bricks eyes the lid of her box went click and her heart was shut up at the same moment but now mr. Barton's attention was called for by mr. Spratt who was dragging a small and unwilling boy from the rear mr. Spratt was a small featured small statured man with a remarkable power of language mitigated by hesitation who piqued himself on expressing unexceptionable sentiments in unexceptional language on all occasions mr. Barton sir excuse my trespassing on your time ah to beg that you will administer a rebuke to this boy he is aah-aah most inveterate in ill behavior during service time the inveterate culprit was a boy of seven vainly contending against candles at his nose by feeble sniffing but no sooner had mr. Spratt uttered his impeachment than miss fudge rushed forward and placed herself between mr. Barton and the accused that's my child master Barton she exclaimed further manifesting her maternal instincts by applying her apron to her offsprings nose he's always a find and foul to a.m. and a pound in him for nothing let him go and eat his roost goose as is a smell in up in our noses while we're a swallow at them greasy broth and let my boy alone mr. Spratt small eyes flashed and he was in danger of uttering sentiments not unexceptionable before the clergyman but mr. Barton for seeing that a prolongation of this episode would not be to edification said silence in his Severus tones let me hear no abuse your boy is not likely to behave well if you set him the example of being saucy then stooping down to master fudge and taking him by the shoulder do you like being beaten no then what a silly boy you are to be naughty if you are not naughty you wouldn't be beaten but if you are naughty God will be angry as well as mr. Spratt and God can burn you forever that will be worse than being beaten master father's countenance was neither affirmative nor negative of this proposition but continued mr. Barton if you will be a good boy God will love you and you will grow up to be a good man now let me hear next Thursday that you have been a good boy master fudge had no distinct vision of the benefit that would accrue to him from this change of courses but mr. Barton being aware that miss fudge had touched on a delicate subject in alluding to the roast goose was determined to witness no more polemics between her and mr. Spratt so saying good morning to the latter he hastily left the college the snow was falling in thicker and thicker flakes and already the vicarage garden was cloaked in white as he passed through the gate mrs. Barton heard him opened the door and ran out of the sitting room to meet him I'm afraid your feet are very wet dear what a terrible morning let me take your hat your slippers are not the fire mr. Barton was feeling a little cold and cross it is difficult when you have been doing disagreeable duties without praise on a snowy day to attend to the very minor morals so he showed no recognition of Millie's attentions but simply said fetch me my dressing-gown will you it is down dear I thought you wouldn't go into the study because you said you would let her and number the books for the lending library Patty and I have been covering them and they are already in the sitting-room oh I can't do those this morning said mr. Barton as he took off his boots and put his feet into the slippers Millie had brought him you must put them away into the parlour the sitting-room was also the day nursery and schoolroom and while Mama's back was turned Dicky the second boy had insisted on superseding chubby in the guidance of a headless horse of the red wavered species which she was drawing round the room so that when Papa opened the door chubby was giving tongue energetically merely some of these children must go away I want to be quiet yes dear ha she chubby go with patty and see what nanny is getting for our dinner now Fred and Sophia and Dicky helped me to carry these books into the parlor there are three for Dicky carry them steadily Papa meanwhile settled himself in his easy chair and took up a work on Episcopacy which he had from the clerical books petty thinking he would finish it and return it this afternoon as he was going to the clerical meeting at Mill B vicarage where the book society had its headquarters the clerical meetings and book society which had been founded some eight or ten months had had a noticeable effect on the Reverend Amos Barton when he first came to Shepperton he was simply an evangelical clergyman whose Christian experiences had commenced under the teaching of the Reverend mr. Jones of Gunn Street chapel and had been consolidated at Cambridge under the influence of mr. Simeon John Newton and Thomas Scott were his doctrinal ideals he would have taken in the Christian observer and the record if he could have afforded it his anecdotes were chiefly of the pious jock host kind current in dissenting circles and he thought an Episcopalian establishment unobjectionable but by this time the effect of the tract Aryan agitation was beginning to be felt in backward provincial regions and the tract Aryan satire on the low church party was beginning to tell even on those who disavowed or resisted tract Aryan doctrines the vibration of an intellectual movement was felt from the golden head to the miry toes of the establishment and so it came to pass that in the district round mill be the market town close to Shepperton the clergy had agreed to have a clerical meeting every month wherein they would exercise their intellects by discussing theological and ecclesiastical questions and cement their brotherly love by discussing a good dinner a book Society naturally suggested itself as an adjunct of this agreeable plan and thus you perceive there was provision made for ample friction of the clerical mind now the Reverend Amos Barton was one of those men who have a decided will and opinion of their own he held himself bolt upright and had no self distrust he would March very determinately along the road he thought best but then it was wonderfully easy to convince him which was the best road and so a very little unwanted reading and unwanted discussion made him see that an episcopalian establishment was much more than unobjectionable and on many other points he began to feel that he held opinions a little too far sighted and profound to be crudely and suddenly communicated to ordinary minds he was like an onion that has been rubbed with spices the strong original odour was blended with something new and foreign the low church onion still offended refined high church nostrils and the new spice was unwelcome to the palate of the genuine onion eater we will not accompany him to the clerical meeting today because we shall probably want to go there there some day when he will be absent and just now I am bent on introducing you to mr. Britt main and the countess chair Lasky with whom mr. and mrs. Barton are invited to dine tomorrow end of chapter 2 of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton you Chapter three of the sad fortunes of the ever and Amos Barton from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter 3 outside the moon is shedding its cold light on the cold snow and the white bearded fir trees round Camp Villa are casting a blue shadow across the white ground while the Reverend Amos Barton and his wife are audibly crushing the crisp snow beneath their feet as about seven o'clock on Friday evening they approached the door of the above-named desirable country residence containing dining breakfast and drawing rooms etc situated only half a mile from the market town of mill B inside there is a bright fire in the drawing room casting a pleasant but uncertain light on the delicate silk dress of a lady who is reclining behind a screen in the corner of the sofa and allowing you to discern that the hair of the gentleman who is seated in the armchair opposite with a newspaper over his knees he is becoming decidedly gray a little King Charles with a crimson ribbon round his neck who has been lying curled up in the very middle of the hearthrug has just discovered that that zone is too hot for him and is jumping on the sofa evidently with the intention of accommodating his person on the silk gown on the table there are two wax candles which will be lighted as soon as the expected knock is heard at the door the knock is hurt the candles are lighted and presently mr. and mrs. Barton are ushered in mr. Barton erect and clerical in a faultless tie and shining cranium mrs. Barton graceful in a newly turned black silk now this is charming of you said the countess chalice key advancing to meet them and embracing Millie with careful elegance I am really ashamed of my selfishness and asking my friends to come and see me in this frightful weather then giving her hand to Amos and you mr. Barton whose time is so precious but I am doing a good deed in drawing you away from your Labor's I have a plot to prevent you from martyr izing yourself while this greeting was going forward mr. Britt main and jet the spaniel looked on with the air of actors who had no idea of by play mr. Britt main a stiff and rather thick set man gave his welcome with a labored cordiality it was astonishing how very little he resembled his beautiful sister for the countess chair Lasky was undeniably beautiful as she seated herself by mrs. Barton on the sofa Millie's eyes indeed rested must it be confessed chiefly on the details of the tasteful dress the rich silk of a pinkish lilac hue the countess always wore delicate colors in an evening the black lace Pelerin and the black lace veil falling at the back of the small closely braided head for Millie had one weakness don't love her any other less for it it was a pretty woman's weakness she was fond of dress and often when she was making up her own economical millinery she had romantic visions how nice it would be to put on really handsome stylish things to have very stiff balloons fees for example without which a woman's dress was not in those days you and I two reader have our weakness have we not which makes us think foolish things now and then perhaps it may lie in an excess of admiration for small hands and feet a tall lithe figure large dark eyes and dark silken braided hair all these the countess possessed and she had moreover a delicately formed nose the least bit curved and a clear brunette complexion her mouth it must be admit had receded too much from her nose and chin and to a prophetic I threatened nutcrackers in advanced age but by the light of fire and wax candles that age seemed very far off in and you would have said that the countess was not more than 30 look at the two women on the sofa together the large fair mile dehyde Milly is timid even in friendship it is not easy to her to speak of the affection of which her heart is fall the live dark thin-lipped countess is racking her small brain for caressing words and charming exaggerations and how are all the cherubs at home said the countess stooping to pick up a jet and without waiting for an answer I have been kept indoors by a cold ever since Sunday or I should not have rested without seeing you what have you done with those wretched singers mr. Barton oh we have got a new choir together which will go on very well with a little practice I was quite determined that the old set of singers should be dismissed I had given orders that they should not sing the wedding thumb as they call it again to make a new married couple look ridiculous and they sang it in defiance of me I could put them into the ecclesiastical Court if I chose for to do so for lifting up their voices in church in opposition to the clergyman and a most wholesome discipline that would be said the countess indeed you are too patient and forbearing mr. Barton for my part I lose my temper when I see how far you are from being appreciated in that miserable Shepperton if as is probable mr. Barton felt had a loss what to say in reply to the insinuated compliment it was a relief to him that dinner was announced just then and that he had to offer his arm to the countess as mr. Britt main was leading mrs. Barton to the dining room he observed the weather is very severe very indeed said Millie to Britt main studied conversation as an art to ladies he spoke of the weather and was accustomed to consider it under three points of view as a question of climate in general comparing England with other countries in this respect as a personal question inquiring how it affected his lady interlocutor in particular and as a question of probabilities discussing whether there would be a change or a continuance of the present atmospheric conditions two gentlemen he talked politics and he read two daily paper is expressly to qualify himself for this function mr. Barton thought him a man of considerable political information but not of lively parts and so you are always to hold your clerical meetings at mr. Ely's said the countess between her spoonfuls of soup the soup was a little over spiced mrs. short of camp Villa who was in the habit of letting her best departments gave only moderate wages to her cook yes said mr. Barton Milby is a central place and there are many conveniences in having only one point of meeting well continued the countess everyone seems to agree in giving the precedence to mr. Ely for my part I cannot admire him his preaching is too cold for me it has no fervor no heart I often say to my brother it is a great comfort to me that Shepperton church is not too far off for us to go to don't I Edmund yes answered mr. Britt main they show us into such a bad pew at Mill be just where there is a draught from that door I caught a stiff neck the first time I went there oh it is the cold in the pulpit that affects me not the cold in the pew I was writing to my friend lady Porter this morning and telling her all about my feelings she and I think alike on such matters she is most anxious that when Sir William has an opportunity of giving away the living at their place Dibley they should have a thoroughly zealous clever man I have been describing a certain friend of mine to her who I think would be just to her mind and there is such a pretty rectory Mellie shouldn't I like to see you the mistress of it Millie smiled and blushed slightly the Reverend Amos blushed very red and gave a little embarrassed laugh he could rarely keep his muscles within the limits of a smile at this moment John the manservant approached mrs. Barton with a gravy terrine and also with a slight odor of the stable which usually adhered to him through his indoor functions John was rather nervous and the countess happening to speak to him at this inopportune moment the taurine slipped and emptied itself on mrs. Barton's newly turned black silk Oh horror tell Alice to come directly and rub mrs. Barton his stress said the countess to the trembling John carefully abstaining from approaching the gravy sprinkled spot on the floor with her own lilac silk but Mr Britt Mane who had a strictly private interest in silks good-naturedly jumped up and applied his napkin at once to missus Barton's gown Millie felt a little inward anguish but no ill temper and tried to make light of the matter for the sake of John as well as others the countess felt inwardly thankful that her own delicate silk had escaped but throughout lavish interjections of distress and indignation dear Saint that you are she said when Millie laughed and suggested that as her silk was not very glossy to begin with the dim patch would not be much seen you don't mind about these things I know just the same sort of thing happened to me at the princess wing Stein's one day on a pink satin I was in an agony but you are so indifferent to dress and well you maybe it is you who make dress pretty and not dress that makes you pretty Alice the buxom ladies made wearing a much better dress than mrs. Barton's now appeared to take mr. Britt mains place in retrieving the mischief and after a great amount of Elementary rubbing composure was restored and the business of dining was continued when John was recounting his accident to the cook in the kitchen he observed mrs. Barton sahih mobile woman I'd a deal sooner have throw the gravy or the countess's fine gound but laws what tantrums she'd have been in art her the visitors was gone you'd a deal sooner not had throat it down at all I should think responded the unsympathetic cook to whom John did not make love hoodia thinks to make gravy enough if you're to base people's gowns we it well suggested John humbly you should wet to the bottom of the jury a bit to hold it from slippin wet your granny returned to the cook a retort which she probably regarded in the light of a reductio ad absurdum and which in fact reduced John to silence later on in the evening while John was removing the tea-things from the drawing-room and brushing the crumbs from the tablecloth with an accompanying hiss such as he was wont to encourage himself with Ian rubbing down mr. Britt Mane's horse the reverend amos barton drew from his pocket a thin green covered pamphlet and presenting it to the countess said you were pleased i think with my sermon on christmas day it has been printed in the pulpit and i thought you might like a copy that indeed I shall I shall quite value the opportunity of reading that sermon there was such depth in it such argument it was not a sermon to be heard only once I am delighted that it should become generally known as it will be now it is printed in the pulpit yes said Millie innocently I was so pleased with the editors letter and she drew out her little pocket book where she carefully treasured to the editorial autograph while mr. Barton laughed and blushed and said nonsense Millie you see she said giving the letter to the countess I am very proud of the praise my husband gets the sermon in question by a Baba was an extremely argumentative one on the Incarnation which as it was preached to a congregation not one of whom had any doubt of that doctrine and to whom the sicinius Berrien confuted were as unknown as the Aramis pians was exceedingly well adapted to trouble and Confused the shepherd Tony in mind ha said the countess returning the editors letter he may well say he will be glad of other sermons from the same source but I would rather you should publish your sermons in an independent volume mr. Barton it would be so desirable to have them in that shape for instance I could send a copy to the Dean of RAD borough and there is Lord blarney whom I knew before he was Chancellor I was a special favorite of his and you can't think what sweet things he used to say to me I shall not resist the temptation to write to him one of these days so facile and tell him how he ought to dispose of the next vacant living in his gift weather jet the spaniel being a much more knowing dog than was suspected who wished to express his disapproval of the countess's last speech as not accordant with his ideas of wisdom and veracity I cannot say but at this moment he jumped off her lap and turning his back upon her placed one paw on the fender and held the other up to warm as if effecting to abstract himself from the current of conversation but now mr. Britt main brought out the chessboard and mr. Barton accepted his challenge to play a game with immense satisfaction the Reverend Amos was very fond of chess as most people are who can continue through many years to create interesting vicissitudes in the game by taking long meditated moves with their Knights and subsequently discovering that they have thereby exposed to their queen chess is a silent game and the countess's chat with millie is in quite an undertone probably relating to women's matters that it would be impertinent for a to listen to so we will leave camp Villa and proceed to Milby vicarage where mr. Farquhar has sat out two other guests with whom he has been dining at mr. Ely's and is now rather worrying that River and gentleman by his protracted small talk mr. Ely was a tall dark-haired distinguished looking man of three and thirty by the late he of Mill B and its neighbourhood he was regarded as a man of quite remarkable powers and learning who must make a considerable sensation in London pulpits and drawing-rooms on his occasional visit to the metropolis and by his brother clergy he was regarded as a discreet and agreeable fellow mr. Ely never got into a warm discussion he suggested what might be thought but rarely said what he thought himself he never let either men or women see that he was laughing at them and he never gave anyone an opportunity of laughing at him in one thing only he was injudicious he parted his dark wavy hair down the middle and as his head was rather flat than otherwise that style of coiffure was not advantageous to him mr. Farquhar though not a parishioner of mr. Heelis was one of his warmest admirers and thought he would make an unexceptionable son-in-law in spite of his being of no particular family mr. Farquhar was susceptible on the point of blood his own circulating fluid which animated a short and somewhat flabby person being he considered a very superior quality by the by he said with a certain pomposity counteracted by a lisp what an ass Barton makes of himself about that Brit mean in the countess if she called herself after you were gone the other evening mrs. Farquhar was telling him the general opinion about them in the neighbourhood and he got quite red and angry bless your soul he believes the whole story about her polish husband and wonderful escapes and asked for her why he thinks her perfection a woman of most refined feelings and no end of stuff mr. Ely smiled some people would say our friend Barton was not the best judge of refinement perhaps the lady flatters him a little and we men are susceptible she goes to Shepperton church every Sunday drawn there let us suppose by mr. Barton's eloquence Shaw said Mr Farquhar now to my mind you have only to look at that woman to see what she is throwing her eyes about when she comes into church and dressing in a way to attract attention I should say she's tired of her brother Britton main and looking out for another brother with a stronger family likeness mrs. Farquhar is very fond of mrs. Barton and is quite distressed that she should associate with such a woman so she attacked him on the subject purposely but I tell her is of no use with a pigheaded fellow like him Barton's well-meaning enough but so conceited I've left off giving him my advice mr. Ely smiled inwardly and said to himself what a punishment but to mr. Farquhar he said Burton might be more judicious it must be confessed he was getting tired and did not want to develop the subject why nobody visits them but the Barton's continued mr. Farquhar and why should such people come here unless they had particular reasons for preferring a neighborhood where they are not known Prue it looks bad on the very face of it you called on them now how did you find them Oh mr. Britt main strikes me as a common sort of man who is making an effort to seem wise and well-bred he comes down on one tremendously with political information and seems knowing about the king of the French the countess is certainly a handsome woman but she puts on the grand air a little too powerful Woodcock was immensely taken with her and insisted on his wife's calling on her and asking her to dinner but I think mrs. Woodcock turned restive after the first visit and wouldn't invite her again aha Woodcock hath all with a soft place to his heart for a pretty faith if aught how he came to marry that plain woman and no fortune either mysteries of the tender passion said mr. Ely I am not initiated yet you know here mr. Farquhar carriage was announced and as we have not found his conversation particularly brilliant under the stimulus of mr. Ely's exceptional presence we will not accompany him home to the less exciting atmosphere of domestic life mr. Ely through himself with a sense of relief into his easiest chair set his feet on the Hobbs and he in this attitude of Bachelor enjoyment began to read Bishop Jeb's memoirs end of chapter 3 of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton chapter four of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton from scenes of clerical life by George Eliot this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by bruce pirie chapter four i am by no means sure that if the good people of mill b had known the truth about the countess chalice key they would not have been considerably disappointed to find that it was very far from being as bad as they imagined nice distinctions are troublesome it is so much easier to say that a thing is black than to discriminate the particular shade of brown blue or green to which it really belongs it is so much easier to make up your mind that your neighbor is good for nothing than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you to modify that opinion besides think of all the virtuous declamation all the penetrating observation which had been built up entirely on the fundamental position that the countess was a very objectionable person indeed and which would be utterly overturned and nullified by the destruction of that premise mrs. Phipps the bankers wife and mrs. Lander the attorneys wife had invested part of their reputation for acuteness in the supposition that mr. Britt main was not the countess's brother moreover miss Phipps was conscious that if the countess was not a disreputable person she miss Phipps had no compensating superiority in virtue to set against the other lady's manifest superiority in personal charms miss Phipps stumpy figure and unsuccessful attire instead of looking down from a mount of virtue with an Oriole around its head would then be seen on the same level and in the same light as the countess chalice Keys Diana like form and well-chosen drapery miss Phipps for her part didn't like dressing for effect she had always avoided that style of appearance which was calculated to create a sensation then what amusing innuendos of the Milby gentleman over there wine would have been entirely frustrated and reduced to not if you had told them that the countess had really been guilty of no misdemeanors which demanded her exclusion from strictly respectable society that her husband had been the veritable Count chair Lasky who had had wonderful escapes as she said and who as she did not say but as was said in certain circulars once folded by her fair hands had subsequently given dancing lessons in the metropolis that mr. Britt main was neither more nor less than her half-brother who by unimpeached integrity and Industry had won a partnership in a silk manufactory and thereby a moderate fortune that enabled him to retire as you see to study politics the weather and the art of conversation at his leisure mr. Britt main in fact Quadra Jerry and bachelor as he was felt extremely well pleased to receive his sister in her widowhood and to shine in the reflected light of her beauty and title every man who is not a monster a mathematician or a mad philosopher is the slave of some woman or other mr. Britt main had put his neck under the yoke of his handsome sister and though his soul was a very little one of the smallest description indeed he would not have ventured to call it his own he might be slightly recalcitrant now and then as is the habit of long-eared pachyderms under the thong of the fair countess's tongue but there seemed little probability that he would ever get his neck loose still a bachelor's heart is an outlying fortress that some fair enemy may any day take either by storm or stratagem and there was always the possibility that mr. Britt mains first nuptials might occur before the countess was quite sure of her second as it was however he submitted to all his sister's caprices never grumbled because her dress and her maid formed a considerable item beyond her own little income of sixty pounds per annum and consented to lead with her a migratory life as personages on the debatable ground between aristocracy and commonality instead of settling in some spot where his five hundred a year might have won him the definite dignity of a parochial magnate the countess had her views in choosing a quiet provincial place like Mill B after three years of widowhood she had brought her feelings to contemplate giving a successor to her lamented Schillaci whose fine whiskers fine air and romantic fortunes had won her heart ten years ago when has pretty Caroline Britt main in the full bloom of five-and-twenty she was governess to lady Porter's daughters whom he initiated into the mysteries of the pas de ba and the Lance's quadrilles she had had seven years of sufficiently happy matrimony with Schillaci who had taken her to Paris and Germany and introduced her there to many of his old friends with large titles and small fortunes so that to the fair Caroline had had considerable experience of life and had gathered there from not indeed any very ripe and comprehensive wisdom but much external polish and certain practical conclusions of a very decided kind one of these conclusions was that there were things more solid in life than fine whiskers and title and that in accepting a second husband she would regard these items as quite subordinate to a carriage and a settlement now she had ascertained by tentative residences that the kind of bite she was angling for was difficult to be met with at watering places which were already preoccupied with abundance of angling beauties and were chief least with men whose whiskers might be dyed and whose incomes were still more problematic so she had determined on trying a neighborhood where people were extremely well acquainted with each other's affairs and where the women were mostly ill dressed and ugly mr. Britt means slow brain had adopted his sister's views and it seemed to him that a woman so handsome and distinguished as the countess must certainly make a match that might lift himself into the region of county celebrities and give him at least a sort of cousinship to the Quarter Sessions all this which was the simple truth would have seemed extremely flat to the gossips of Mill B who had made up their minds to something much more exciting there was nothing here so very detestable it is true the countess was a little vain a little ambitious a little selfish a little shallow and frivolous a little given to white lies but who considers such slight blemishes such moral pimples as these disqualifications for entering into the most respectable society indeed the Severus ladies in Mill B would have been perfectly aware that these characteristics would have created no wide distinction between the countess chalice key and themselves and since it was clear there was a wide distinction why it must buy in the possession of some vices from which they were undeniably free hence it came to pass that Milby respectability refused to recognize the countess chalice key in spite of her assiduous church-going and the deep disgust she was known to have expressed at the extreme paucity of the congregation's on a schweden stays so she began to feel that she had miscalculated the advantages of a neighbourhood where people are well acquainted with each other's private affairs under these circumstances you will imagine how welcome was the perfect credence and admiration she met with from mr. and mrs. Barton she had been especially irritated by mr. either use behavior to her she felt sure that he was not in the least struck with her beauty that he quizzed her conversation and that he spoke of her with a sneer a woman always knows where she is utterly powerless and shuns a coldly satirical eye as she was shun a Gorgon and she was especially eager for clerical notice and friendship not merely because that is quite the most respectable countenance to be obtained in society but because she really cared about religious matters and had an uneasy sense that she was not altogether safe in that quarter she had serious intentions of becoming quite pious without any reserves when she had once got her carriage and settlement let us do this one slight Rick says Ulysses Tunney optimist and we will be perfectly honest ever after all a Jew car toy could Hema chase away keys lobby and toma de que hoy de office ik fan who matha the countess did not quote Sophocles but she said to herself only this little bit of pretence and vanity and then I will be quite good and make myself quite safe for another world and as she had by no means such fine taste and insight in theological teaching as in costume the river and Amos Barton seems to her a man not only of learning that is always understood with a clergyman but of much power as a spiritual director as for Milly the countess really loved her as well as the preoccupied state of her affections would allow for you have already perceived that there was one being to whom the countess was absorbing Lea devoted and to whose desires she made everything else subservient namely Caroline Sharla ski nay Britt main thus there was really not much affectation in her sweet speeches and attentions to mr. and mrs. Barton still their friendship by no means adequately represented to the object she had in view when she came to Milby and it had been for some time clear to her that she must suggest a new change of residence to her brother the thing we look forward to often comes to pass but never precisely in the way we have imagined to ourselves the countess did actually leave camp villa before many months were passed but under circumstances which had not at all entered into her contemplation end of chapter 4 of the sad fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton

1 thought on “Scenes of Clerical Life | George Eliot | General Fiction | Talking Book | English | 1/9

  1. Scenes of Clerical Life | George Eliot | General Fiction | Talking Book | English | 1/9

    1: [00:00:00] – Amos Barton – 01

    2: [00:29:51] – Amos Barton – 02

    3: [01:14:58] – Amos Barton – 03

    4: [01:35:34] – Amos Barton – 04

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