— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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March 25, 2015

...because I could have been reading this.



          It is so pleasant to receive a fillip of excitement when suffering from the dull routine of everyday life! The anthems and Te Deums were in themselves delightful, but they had been heard so often! Mr Slope was certainly not delightful, but he was new, and, moreover, clever. They had long thought it slow, so said now may of the Barchesterians, to go on as they had done in their old humdrum way, giving ear to none of the religious changes which were moving the world without. People in advance of the age now had new ideas, and it was quite time that Barchester should go in advance. Mr Slope might be right. Sunday certainly had to been strictly kept in Barchester, except as regarded the cathedral services. Indeed the two hours between services had long been appropriated to morning calls and hot luncheons. Then Sunday schools; Sabbath-day schools Mr Slope had called them. The late bishop had really not thought of Sunday schools as he should have done. (These people probably did not reflect that catechisms and collects are quite hard work to the young mind as book-keeping is to the elderly; and that quite as little feeling of worship enters into one task as the other.) And then, as regarded that great question of musical services, there might be much to be said on Mr Slope's side of the question. It certainly was the fact, that people went to the cathedral to hear the music, etc. etc.
          And so a party absolutely formed itself in Barchester on Mr Slope's side of the question! This consisted, among the upper classes, chiefly of ladies. No man — that is, no gentleman — could possibly be attracted by Mr Slope, or consent to sit at the feet of so abhorrent a Gamaliel. Ladies are sometimes less nice in their appreciation of physical disqualification; and, provided that a man speak to them well, they will listen, though he speak from a mouth never so deformed and hideous. ... the damp, sandy-haired, saucer-eyed, red-fisted Mr Slope was powerful only over the female breast.
          There were, however, one or two of the neighbouring clergy who thought it not quite safe to neglect the baskets in which for the nonce were stored the loaves and fishes of the diocese of Barchester. They, and they only, came to call on Mr Slope after his performance in the cathedral pulpit. Among them Mr Quiverful, the rector of Puddingdale, whose wife still continued to present him from year to year with fresh pledges of her love, and so to increase his cares and, it is to be hoped, his happiness equally. Who can wonder that a gentleman, with fourteen living children and a bare income of 400 pounds a year, should look after the loaves and fishes, ever when they are under the thumb of Mr Slope?
Barchester Towers, Chapter 8

It's one of those delightful little {ok, let's be honest, annoying little} ironies that after years and years of an hour-long commute when I could almost never read, now I have a 15-minute commute where I almost always can. And maybe this is an old habit that I've just never broken, but I usually spend that time with a 'bus book,' something not too demanding, that I can pick up and put down, that would never take the place of my serious reading.  Today it was a new mystery, the first from a historian I've been wanting to read, that the blurb on the back cover promised would be 'wickedly funny.' It might have been, but somehow my inner self knew that my Kindle was also in my work tote, and therefore so were Archdeacon Grantly and Mr. Slope, even more 'hilarious, big-hearted, clever, whip-smart, and devious.'  I think it's time to rethink this old habit, because ... :)



2 comments:

Fleur Fisher said...

I understand your feelings. I don't miss the long commute I had when I lived in London but I do miss the reading time that it gave me.

JoAnn said...

With Archdeacon Grantly and Mr. Slope in my bag, I wouldn't reach for the 'bus book' either. Cannot tell you how much I'm loving Barchester Towers - no blog post for me today, because all I want to do is read! Hope to finish today :)

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