Mr. Crawley, curate of Hogglestock, falsely accused of theft, suffers bitterly from the fallout. But Crawley is a magnet for bad luck. Gloomy, brooding and proud, moving inexorably from one humiliation to another, he lives his tragedy in this last installment of the Barsetshire novels.
Trollope depicts the comfortable and complacent life of deaneries and vicarages with an unerring eye for detail, the whole shot through with masterful comic satire.
The Barsetshire Chronicles include THE WARDEN, BARCHESTER TOWERS, DR. THORNE, FRAMLEY PARSONAGE, THE SMALL HOUSE AT ALLINGTON and THE LAST CHRONICLE OF BARSET.
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About the Author
Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) grew up in London. He inherited his mother’s ambition to write and was famously disciplined in the development of his craft. His first novel was published in 1847 while he was working in Ireland as a surveyor for the General Post Office. He wrote a series of books set in the English countryside as well as those set in the political life, works that show great psychological penetration. One of his greatest strengths was his ability to re-create in his fiction his own vision of the social structures of Victorian England. The author of forty-seven novels, he was one of the most prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.
David Shaw-Parker is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1975 and began his career at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977, appearing in over twenty-five productions between then and 1991. He went on to appear at The National Theatre in Oedipus Rex, The False Servant, and My Fair Lady and in London’s West End in Grand Hotel, The Country Wife, Acorn Antiques, Heavenly Ivy,and Cyrano de Bergerac,among others. His numerous television credits include Inspector Morse, Space Precinct, and The Commander, and his films include Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka, Uberto Pasolini’s Still Life, and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
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The Last Chronicle of Barset
By Anthony Trollope
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
How Did He Get It?
"I can never bring myself to believe it, John," said Mary Walker, the pretty daughter of Mr. George Walker, attorney of Silverbridge. Walker and Winthrop was the name of the firm, and they were respectable people, who did all the solicitors' business that had to be done in that part of Barsetshire on behalf of the Crown, were employed on the local business of the Duke of Omnium who is great in those parts, and altogether held their heads up high, as provincial lawyers often do. They, — the Walkers, — lived in a great brick house in the middle of the town, gave dinners, to which the county gentlemen not unfrequently condescended to come, and in a mild way led the fashion in Silverbridge. "I can never bring myself to believe it, John," said Miss Walker.
"You'll have to bring yourself to believe it," said John, without taking his eyes from his book.
"A clergyman, — and such a clergyman too!"
"I don't see that that has anything to do with it." And as he now spoke, John did take his eyes off his book. "Why should not a clergyman turn thief as well as anybody else? You girls always seem to forget that clergymen are only men after all."
"Their conduct is likely to be better than that of other men, I think."
"I deny it utterly," said John Walker. "I'll undertake to say that at this moment there are more clergymen in debt in Barsetshire than there are either lawyers or doctors. This man has always been in debt. Since he has been in the county I don't think he has ever been able to show his face in the High Street of Silverbridge."
"John, that is saying more than you have a right to say," said Mrs. Walker.
"Why, mother, this very cheque was given to a butcher who had threatened a few days before to post bills all about the county, giving an account of the debt that was due to him, if the money was not paid at once."
"More shame for Mr. Fletcher," said Mary. "He has made a fortune as butcher in Silverbridge."
"What has that to do with it? Of course a man likes to have his money. He had written three times to the bishop, and he had sent a man over to Hogglestock to get his little bill settled six days running. You see he got it at last. Of course, a tradesman must look for his money."
"Mamma, do you think that Mr. Crawley stole the cheque?" Mary, as she asked the question, came and stood over her mother, looking at her with anxious eyes.
"I would rather give no opinion, my dear."
"But you must think something when everybody is talking about it, mamma."
"Of course my mother thinks he did," said John, going back to his book. "It is impossible that she should think otherwise."
"That is not fair, John," said Mrs. Walker; "and I won't have you fabricate thoughts for me, or put the expression of them into my mouth. The whole affair is very painful, and as your father is engaged in the inquiry, I think that the less said about the matter in this house the better. I am sure that that would be your father's feeling."
"Of course I should say nothing about it before him," said Mary. "I know that papa does not wish to have it talked about. But how is one to help thinking about such a thing? It would be so terrible for all of us who belong to the Church."
"I do not see that at all," said John. "Mr. Crawley is not more than any other man just because he's a clergyman. I hate all that kind of clap-trap. There are a lot of people here in Silverbridge who think the matter shouldn't be followed up, just because the man is in a position which makes the crime more criminal in him than it would be in another."
"But I feel sure that Mr. Crawley has committed no crime at all," said Mary.
"My dear," said Mrs. Walker, "I have just said that I would rather you would not talk about it. Papa will be in directly."
"I won't, mamma; — only —"
"Only! yes; just only!" said John. "She'd go on till dinner if any one would stay to hear her."
"You've said twice as much as I have, John." But John had left the room before his sister's last words could reach him.
"You know, mamma, it is quite impossible not to help thinking of it," said Mary.
"I dare say it is, my dear."
"And when one knows the people it does make it so dreadful."
"But do you know them? I never spoke to Mr. Crawley in my life, and I do not think I ever saw her."
"I knew Grace very well, — when she used to come first to Miss Prettyman's school."
"Poor girl. I pity her."
"Pity her! Pity is no word for it, mamma. My heart bleeds for them. And yet I do not believe for a moment that he stole the cheque. How can it be possible? For though he may have been in debt because they have been so very, very poor; yet we all know that he has been an excellent clergyman. When the Robartses were dining here last, I heard Mrs. Robarts say that for piety and devotion to his duties she had hardly ever seen any one equal to him. And the Robartses know more of them than anybody."
"They say that the dean is his great friend."
"What a pity it is that the Arabins should be away just now when he is in such trouble." And in this way the mother and daughter went on discussing the question of the clergyman's guilt in spite of Mrs. Walker's previously expressed desire that nothing more might be said about it. But Mrs. Walker, like many other mothers, was apt to be more free in converse with her daughter than she was with her son. While they were thus talking the father came in from his office, and then the subject was dropped. He was a man between fifty and sixty years of age, with grey hair, rather short, and somewhat corpulent, but still gifted with that amount of personal comeliness which comfortable position and the respect of others will generally seem to give. A man rarely carries himself meanly, whom the world holds high in esteem.
"I am very tired, my dear," said Mr. Walker.
"You look tired. Come and sit down for a few minutes before you dress. Mary, get your father's slippers." Mary instantly ran to the door.
"Thanks, my darling," said the father. And then he whispered to his wife, as soon as Mary was out of hearing, "I fear that unfortunate man is guilty. I fear he is! I fear he is!"
"Oh, heavens! what will become of them?"
"What indeed? She has been with me to-day."
"Has she? And what could you say to her?"
"I told her at first that I could not see her, and begged her not to speak to me about it. I tried to make her understand that she should go to some one else. But it was of no use."
"And how did it end?"
"I asked her to go in to you, but she declined. She said you could do nothing for her."
"And does she think her husband guilty?"
"No, indeed. She think him guilty! Nothing on earth, — or from heaven either, as I take it, would make her suppose it to be possible. She came to me simply to tell me how good he was."
"I love her for that," said Mrs. Walker.
"So did I. But what is the good of loving her? Thank you, dearest. I'll get your slippers for you some day, perhaps."
The whole county was astir in this matter of this alleged guilt of the Reverend Josiah Crawley, — the whole county, almost as keenly as the family of Mr. Walker, of Silverbridge. The crime laid to his charge was the theft of a cheque for twenty pounds, which he was said to have stolen out of a pocket-book left or dropped in his house, and to have passed as money into the hands of one Fletcher, a butcher of Silverbridge, to whom he was indebted. Mr. Crawley was in those days the perpetual curate of Hogglestock, a parish in the northern extremity of East Barsetshire; a man known by all who knew anything of him to be very poor, — an unhappy, moody, disappointed man, upon whom the troubles of the world always seemed to come with a double weight. But he had ever been respected as a clergyman, since his old friend Mr. Arabin, the dean of Barchester, had given him the small incumbency which he now held. Though moody, unhappy, and disappointed, he was a hard-working, conscientious pastor among the poor people with whom his lot was cast; for in the parish of Hogglestock there resided only a few farmers higher in degree than field labourers, brickmakers, and such like. Mr. Crawley had now passed some ten years of his life at Hogglestock; and during those years he had worked very hard to do his duty, struggling to teach the people around him perhaps too much of the mystery, but something also of the comfort, of religion. That he had become popular in his parish cannot be said of him. He was not a man to make himself popular in any position. I have said that he was moody and disappointed. He was even worse than this; he was morose, sometimes almost to insanity. There had been days in which even his wife had found it impossible to deal with him otherwise than as with an acknowledged lunatic. And this was known among the farmers, who talked about their clergyman among themselves as though he were a madman. But among the very poor, among the brickmakers of Hoggle End, — a lawless, drunken, terribly rough lot of humanity, — he was held in high respect; for they knew that he lived hardly, as they lived; that he worked hard, as they worked; and that the outside world was hard to him, as it was to them; and there had been an apparent sincerity of godliness about the man, and a manifest struggle to do his duty in spite of the world's ill-usage, which had won its way even with the rough; so that Mr. Crawley's name had stood high with many in his parish, in spite of the unfortunate peculiarity of his disposition. This was the man who was now accused of stealing a cheque for twenty pounds.
But before the circumstances of the alleged theft are stated, a word or two must be said as to Mr. Crawley's family. It is declared that a good wife is a crown to her husband, but Mrs. Crawley had been much more than a crown to him. As had regarded all the inner life of the man, — all that portion of his life which had not been passed in the pulpit or in pastoral teaching, — she had been crown, throne, and sceptre all in one. That she had endured with him and on his behalf the miseries of poverty, and the troubles of a life which had known no smiles, is perhaps not to be alleged as much to her honour. She had joined herself to him for better or worse, and it was her manifest duty to bear such things; wives always have to bear them, knowing when they marry that they must take their chance. Mr. Crawley might have been a bishop, and Mrs. Crawley, when she married him, perhaps thought it probable that such would be his fortune. Instead of that he was now, just as he was approaching his fiftieth year, a perpetual curate, with an income of one hundred and thirty pounds per annum, — and a family. That had been Mrs. Crawley's luck in life, and of course she bore it. But she had also done much more than this. She had striven hard to be contented, or, rather, to appear to be contented, when he had been most wretched and most moody. She had struggled to conceal from him her own conviction as to his half-insanity, treating him at the same time with the respect due to an honoured father of a family, and with the careful measured indulgence fit for a sick and wayward child. In all the terrible troubles of their life her courage had been higher than his. The metal of which she was made had been tempered to a steel which was very rare and fine, but the rareness and fineness of which he had failed to appreciate. He had often told her that she was without pride, because she had stooped to receive from others on his behalf and on behalf of her children, things which were very needful, but which she could not buy. He had told her that she was a beggar, and that it was better to starve than to beg. She had borne the rebuke without a word in reply, and had then begged again for him, and had endured the starvation herself. Nothing in their poverty had, for years past, been a shame to her; but every accident of their poverty was still, and ever had been, a living disgrace to him.
They had had many children, and three were still alive. Of the eldest, Grace Crawley, we shall hear much in the coming story. She was at this time nineteen years old, and there were those who said that, in spite of her poverty, her shabby outward apparel, and a certain thin, unfledged, unrounded form of person, a want of fulness in the lines of her figure, she was the prettiest girl in that part of the world. She was living now at a school in Silverbridge, where for the last year she had been a teacher; and there were many in Silverbridge who declared that very bright prospects were opening to her, — that young Major Grantly of Cosby Lodge, who, though a widower with a young child, was the cynosure of all female eyes in and round Silverbridge, had found beauty in her thin face, and that Grace Crawley's fortune was made in the teeth, as it were, of the prevailing ill-fortune of her family. Bob Crawley, who was two years younger, was now at Marlbro' School, from whence it was intended that he should proceed to Cambridge, and be educated there at the expense of his godfather, Dean Arabin. In this also the world saw a stroke of good luck. But then nothing was lucky to Mr. Crawley. Bob, indeed, who had done very well at school, might do well at Cambridge, — might do great things there. But Mr. Crawley would almost have preferred that the boy should work in the fields, than that he should be educated in a manner so manifestly eleemosynary. And then his clothes! How was he to be provided with clothes fit either for school or for college? But the dean and Mrs. Crawley between them managed this, leaving Mr. Crawley very much in the dark, as Mrs. Crawley was in the habit of leaving him. Then there was a younger daughter, Jane, still at home, who passed her life between her mother's work-table and her father's Greek, mending linen and learning to scan iambics, — for Mr. Crawley in his early days had been a ripe scholar.
And now there had come upon them all this terribly-crushing disaster. That poor Mr. Crawley had gradually got himself into a mess of debt at Silverbridge, from which he was quite unable to extricate himself, was generally known by all the world both of Silverbridge and Hogglestock. To a great many it was known that Dean Arabin had paid money for him, very much contrary to his own consent, and that he had quarrelled, or attempted to quarrel, with the dean in consequence, — had so attempted, although the money had in part passed through his own hands. There had been one creditor, Fletcher, the butcher of Silverbridge, who had of late been specially hard upon poor Crawley. This man, who had not been without good nature in his dealings, had heard stories of the dean's good-will and such like, and had loudly expressed his opinion that the perpetual curate of Hogglestock would show a higher pride in allowing himself to be indebted to a rich brother clergyman, than in remaining under thrall to a butcher. And thus a rumour had grown up. And then the butcher had written repeated letters to the bishop, — to Bishop Proudie of Barchester, who had at first caused his chaplain to answer them, and had told Mr. Crawley somewhat roundly what was his opinion of a clergyman who eat meat and did not pay for it. But nothing that the bishop could say or do enabled Mr. Crawley to pay the butcher. It was very grievous to such a man as Mr. Crawley to receive these letters from such a man as Bishop Proudie; but the letters came, and made festering wounds, but then there was an end of them. And at last there had come forth from the butcher's shop a threat that if the money were not paid by a certain date, printed bills should be posted about the county. All who heard of this in Silverbridge were very angry with Mr. Fletcher, for no one there had ever known a tradesman to take such a step before; but Fletcher swore that he would persevere, and defended himself by showing that six or seven months since, in the spring of the year, Mr. Crawley had been paying money in Silverbridge, but had paid none to him, — to him who had been not only his earliest, but his most enduring creditor. "He got money from the dean in March," said Mr. Fletcher to Mr. Walker, "and he paid twelve pounds ten to Green, and seventeen pounds to Grobury, the baker." It was that seventeen pounds to Grobury, the baker, for flour, which made the butcher so fixedly determined to smite the poor clergyman hip and thigh. "And he paid money to Hall, and to Mrs. Holt, and to a deal more; but he never came near my shop. If he had even shown himself, I would not have said so much about it." And then a day before the date named, Mrs. Crawley had come to Silverbridge, and had paid the butcher twenty pounds in four five-pound notes. So far Fletcher the butcher had been successful.
Excerpted from The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope. Copyright © 2016 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Last and one of the best in the Barsetshire series.
The last book in the Barset series. Trollope himself rated it as his best book. I have not read them all, but have (again) read all the Barset novels, and it is perhaps the best of these, even if they are all good. The chapters on Conway Dalrympe and his various women irritated me - but one reviewer on Amazon wrote that these bits were only included because Trollope had an obligation to write a certain number of pages for a magazine publication. I can believe that.... these bits strike me as irrelevant and rather boring. But the rest is very good. The complicated story of the Crawley family, the death of Mr. Harding, and the development of the character of the archdeacon are all wonderful.The love stories of Lily and John as well as Grace and Major Grantley are very well described. I agree with all who have written that if you want to start reading Trollope, start with this series of novels :-)
The Last Chronicle of Barset is the mondo-mega-long (891 pps.) sixth and concluding book in Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles series; it could easily have been a couple hundred pages shorter without sacrificing anything except Trollope's self-conscious pretentiousness at wrapping up such a sizable chunk of his literary output (although his Palliser series would prove even longer). TLCoB's main theme is pride (a theme also explored in He Knew He Was Right), which is sounded in its major key in the story of the penurious and arrogant, over-educated curate of Hogglestock, Josiah Crawley, who finds himself accused of stealing a cheque for £20 (worth at least six times that amount in 2007 money); the matter proves especially thorny when he is unable to remember how he obtained it, how long he had it, or how he disposed of it. The bishop's wife, the Low Church Sabbatarian Mrs. Proudie (who had such a memorable part in the second book of the series, Barchester Towers), seizes upon this scandal as an opportunity to drive a High Church opponent to his knees, if not out of the (Anglican) Church entirely, and dragoons her reluctant husband into convening a formal ecclesiastical court proceeding against Crawley even before the secular court has rendered its verdict. Subplots depicting minor (and often comic) permutations of pride involve the wooing of Crawley's eldest daughter Grace by the widower son of Archdeacon Theophilus Grantly (who is a staunch High Church opponent of Mrs. Proudie and her allies), Major Henry Grantly; the row between Archdeacon Grantly and his son, largely over a refusal to communicate on the matter of Grace (oooh, symbolism!); the continued wooing of Lily Dale by Johnny Eames (a continuation of a major plot from the fifth book, The Small House at Allington); Eames' flirtation with an adventuress, Madolina Demolines; Eames' scapegrace artist friend Conway Dalrymple and his simultaneous flirtations with the heiress Clara Van Siever and the wife of an alcoholic financier, Dobbs Broughton; with a supporting role given to the very aged star of the first book, The Warden, the Rev. Septimus Harding, who epitomizes humility. While there are many fine, even comic, scenes to be found here, TLCoB takes entirely too long to finish, even by Trollope's casual, "triple-decker" standards. The book drags on for over a hundred pages after the Crawley plot is finally resolved; the leave-takings are as excruciatingly interminable as those of the final Lord of the Rings movie, The Return of the King. If all the dangling plot threads aren't resolved entirely to the readers' satisfaction, things for the most part end well rather than otherwise: time will doubtless dull the edges of the bouts of torpor encountered while actually reading this volume, leaving a mostly roseate glow to warm one's memory.
The end of Barset! I'm a bit saddened to leave Barsetshire behind, but it's been a good run.The last chronicle has been as enjoyable as any, but I'm not sure there was any need to introduce new characters. The Dalrymple/Broughton etc. storyline was entertaining enough, but who are these people? I would rather have been brought up to date on the Greshams, the Luftons or the Thornes. Lily Dale. Ugh. I'm glad that she had the opportunity to see Crosbie and realize how horribly stupid she had been about him. I'm glad she finally got rid of boring old Johnny Eames. (Really, if you don't find someone sexually attractive, just don't marry him, no matter what your friends think.) But if she's so pretty, why, in the couple of months she spent gadding around London, did Trollope not find her someone suitable? Jeeze, give the girl a break.As for the Crawley plot, it was kind of boring in a way, yet offers an opportunity for Trollope to riff on his favourite subject: what makes a truly good man? Crawley is eccentric, but his internal soul searching is fascinating, at least to me. This is where Trollope shines as a novelist.
Trollope's final Barsetshire novel has a considerably darker subject than previous entries. Josiah Crawley, the obsessively devoted, extremely poor curate from Framley Parsonage is accused of stealing. His daughter Grace loves and is loved by Major Grantly, but the accusations thwart their romance. Her friend Lily Dale again deals with the love of her former fiancee Crosbie and friend Johnny, while Johnny's London acquaintances face conflict. Trollope also shows what happens to many of his characters from the previous novels - the Proudies, the Arabins, Mr. Harding, the Grantlys and the Luftons.By a large margin, the worst subplot dealt with Johnny's friends in the city. I didn't care about them and it wasn't just because they weren't in previous Barsetshire books. The creatively named but rather dull artist Conway Dalrymple decided to paint heiress Clara Van Siever to try and make a match. Clara was also a somewhat flat character. Conways' amusement, Mrs. Dobbs Broughton, did provide a bit of interest with her hilarious, overly Romantic notions of love, drama and sacrifice but not enough to enliven the plot.Lily Dale's love problems pick up again from The Small House at Allington, when she was jilted by Crosbie but refused to marry Johnny Eames, the man who had loved her all along. Crosbie's wife has died and he tries to renew his suit while Johnny remains as persistent as ever. Trollope slightly shifted his characterization of Eames, so instead of an awkward but sincere clerk, he comes off more like another Crosbie. The main plot involves the trials of Mr. Crawley, Trollope's standard class-conflicted love story and more of Dr. Grantly's infernal thundering. Not only is Crawley accused of theft, but he is also POOR, which rankles Archdeacon Grantly to no end. Mr. Crawley experiences all the humiliation in such a position - possibly more than anyone else could. He's sympathetic, but deeply flawed and manages to have superiority and inferiority complexes at the same time. Crawley was always more intelligent and talented than his old friend Mr. Arabin (they used to take walks in the mud and call each other Frank and Joe) so he thinks he's a little better in that respect and perhaps more deserving. At the same time, he's always hyperaware of his position as a poor curate and won't inflict himself on anyone. However, he's so mired in poverty that it becomes another way that he's better than others - more like a true Christian, and if other people are uncomfortable around him, that's their own fault. The ordeal nearly drives him insane - or at least to contemplate if he is. Mrs. Crawley remains admirable and steadfast in her support of her husband.The archdeacon violently opposes the marriage of his son and Grace Crawley. Again, Trollope half-mocks all his histrionics, especially in comparison to the calm, tactful and knowing Mrs. Grantly. She expertly handles the situation and always has a tart rejoinder to Dr. Grantly's angry mutterings. The men - Crawley and Grantly - are much more emotional, capricious and difficult than their practical wives but luckily both recognize how fortunate they are in marriage. In one good scene, Dr. Grantly appeals to his friend, Lady Lufton senior, to support him but of course she can't, having gone through something similar in Framley Parsonage. Now, she's happy with her daughter in law, the former Lucy Robarts.Will the mystery of the theft be cleared up? Will Grace and the major marry? If you've read any Trollope books before, you'll know how it'll end, but I can't say that I read Trollope for plot. He describes Mr. Harding from The Warden and Barchester Towers - he's living with his daughter and her family, old and out of health. Trollope poignantly details his quiet life - happily playing with his granddaughter and wistfully remembering his former position and his violincello. Had similar mixed emotions for this last book - good while I was reading it, but sad to k