And who does manage the hospital? asked the warden.
Oh, let them find that out; thats another question; the action is brought against you and Chadwick, and thats your defence, and a perfect and full defence it is. Now that I think very satisfactory.
Well, said the bishop, looking inquiringly up into his friends face, who sat silent awhile, and apparently not so well satisfied.
And conclusive, continued the archdeacon; if they press it to a jury, which they wont do, no twelve men in England will take five minutes to decide against them.
But according to that, said Mr. Harding, I might as well have sixteen hundred a year as eight, if the managers choose to allot it to me; and as I am one of the managers, if not the chief manager, myself, that can hardly be a just arrangement.
Oh, well, all thats nothing to the question; the question is, whether this intruding fellow, and a lot of cheating attorneys and pestilent dissenters, are to interfere with an arrangement which every one knows is essentially just and serviceable to the church. Pray dont let us be splitting hairs, and that amongst ourselves, or therell never be an end of the cause or the cost.
Mr. Harding again sat silent for awhile during which the bishop once and again pressed his arm, and looked in his face to see if he could catch a gleam of a contented and eased mind; but there was no such gleam, and the poor warden continued playing sad dirges on invisible stringed instruments in all manner of positions: he was ruminating in his mind on this opinion of Sir Abraham, looking to it wearily and earnestly for satisfaction, but finding none. At last he said, Did you see the opinion, archdeacon?
The archdeacon said he had notthat was to say, he hadthat was, he had not seen the opinion itself; he had seen what had been called a copy, but he could not say whether of a whole or part; nor could he say that what he had seen were the ipsissima verba of the great man himself; but what he had seen contained exactly the decision which he had announced, and which he again declared to be to his mind extremely satisfactory.
I should like to see the opinion, said the warden; that is, a copy of it.
Well, I suppose you can if you make a point of it; but I dont see the use myself; of course it is essential that the purport of it should not be known, and it is therefore unadvisable to multiply copies.
Why should it not be known? asked the warden.
What a question for a man to ask! said the archdeacon, throwing up his hands in token of his surprise; but it is like youa child is not more innocent than you are in matters of business. Cant you see that if we tell them that no action will lie against you, but that one may possibly lie against some other person or persons, that we shall be putting weapons into their hands, and be teaching them how to cut our own throats?
The warden again sat silent, and the bishop again looked at him wistfully: The only thing we have now to do, continued the archdeacon, is to remain quiet, hold our peace, and let them play their own game as they please.
We are not to make known then, said the warden, that we have consulted the attorney-general, and that we are advised by him that the founders will is fully and fairly carried out.
God bless my soul! said the archdeacon, how odd it is that you will not see that all we are to do is to do nothing: why should we say anything about the founders will? We are in possession; and we know that they are not in a position to put us out: surely that is enough for the present.
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