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The Warden

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(1855)


This is the first of the six novels in Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire; Barchester Towers (1857), Doctor Thorne (1858), Framley Parsonage (1861), The Small House at Allington (1864), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867).


As the first in the Barsetshire Chronicles, The Warden introduces us to precentor and warden of Barchester Hospital Mr Septimus Harding, his single daughter Eleanor, his other daughter Susan married to archdeacon Dr Grantly, the latter’s father the Bishop and Mr John Bold, a zealous and charitable doctor who has too much money and consequently too much time on his hands for his own good. Or at least that is the modest opinion of Dr Grantly. Indeed, Mr Bold is so zealous that he questions the right Mr Harding’s wardenship has to the 800 pounds per annum in income from the almshouse. Surely the honourable Mr John Hiram, who left a will very long ago so 12 bedesmen could be cared for in their old age did not imply a lavish income for their warden and a mere one shilling and sixpence a day for the twelve very objects of his will? When even the leading newspaper The Jupiter (read: The Times) and Mr Popular Sentiment (read: Charles Dickens) get involved in the matter, Dr Grantly is moved to ask the advice of the most skilful lawyer in the land: Sir Abraham Haphazard, but has anyone asked Mr Harding’s opinion about it? Even though Bold and his party have no leg to stand on in challenging Mr Harding personally, surely a Christian conscience should ask questions? But such is not the mind of Dr Grantly and his father is not one to question that mind. Ultimately, he is old and frail and rather likes the company of Mr Harding… So there is nothing for it but for Eleanor to plead to her admirer Bold to abandon the case, although it does not relieve Mr Harding’s conscience unless the feelings of Mr Bold for his daughter were a major part of that… So Mr Harding leaves the hospital, but the bedesmen are no further, certainly not when the bishop (for once) positively refuses to do what his son tells him: to appoint a new warden. Barchester Hospital, therefore, left by Mr Hiram for caring for at least twelve old penniless men in their old age, is left to its own devices and crumbles like everything without loving attention. But everything will go on as before: the bishop and Mr Harding are still friends, Dr Grantly and his wife still happily married and John Bold and Eleanor… Good Heavens!--Submitted by kiki1982


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