Ralph Arnold: The Whiston Matter

Отправлено 5 мая 2014 г., 10:13 пользователем Sven Karsten   [ обновлено 5 мая 2014 г., 10:13 ]

In his Barset­shire nov­els, which began with The War­den and ended with The Last Chron­i­cle of Barset, An­tho­ny Trol­lope es­tab­lished an un­for­get­table image of a cathe­dral and its chap­ter; and gen­er­a­tions of Trol­lop­i­ans have pre­sum­ably been sat­is­fied, if they have thought about the mat­ter at all, that his por­trait of Barch­ester was a rea­son­ably true- to-life pic­ture of a south-coun­try cathe­dral es­tab­lish­ment in the mid­dle of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. Yet, as the nov­el­ist ad­mits in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, when he wrote The War­den he had never, since his school­days at Winch­ester, lived in a cathe­dral city, he had no first-hand knowl­edge of the ways of a close, and no archdea­con had as yet crossed his path. He had evolved his cathe­dral dig­ni­taries, ap­par­ent­ly, from an in­stinct for what a bish­op, a dean, a prebendary, an archdea­con and a minor canon ought to be like, and how they might be ex­pect­ed to be­have; com­ple­ment­ed, as he ex­plains, by a study of the news­pa­per re­ports of two cler­i­cal scan­dals of the time — in fact the case of the Hos­pi­tal of St Cross at Winch­ester, and the Rev. Robert Whis­ton's dis­pute with the Dean and Chap­ter of Rochester. In the light of this ad­mis­sion the ac­cept­ed pic­ture, on a clos­er ex­am­i­na­tion of the facts, might well turn out to be hope­less­ly mis­lead­ing.

The out­line plot of The War­den was con­ceived one evening in May or June 1851; and the book was writ­ten be­tween the sum­mer of 1852 and the au­tumn of 1858. The re­cent dis­cov­ery in the Chap­ter-house strong-room of all the doc­u­ments and let­ters re­lat­ing to the Chap­ter's side of the case of Whis­ton ver­sus the Dean and Chap­ter of Rochester, cov­er­ing the years 1848-1853, af­fords an un­ex­pect­ed op­por­tu­ni­ty of check­ing the ac­cu­ra­cy of Trol­lope's in­tu­ition, for it is pos­si­ble from these pa­pers to dis­cov­er how an ac­tu­al dean and chap­ter at this date, with the bish­op of the dio­cese as the Cathe­dral's Vis­i­tor, did in fact be­have, in­di­vid­u­al­ly and col­lec­tive­ly, in a sit­u­a­tion which, today, would in­evitably be de­scribed as "Trol­lop­i­an."

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