Chapters 1-10Chapter 1: who will be the new bishop?
The Bishop of Barchester, old Dr. Grantly, is on the point of death, and the government is about to fall. His son, who hopes to become the new bishop, is disappointed in his ambition as, just before his father dies, the government changes and that which takes over power supports the low church faction of which he is not part. The new government for the bishopric of Barchester thus selects a representative of the Low Church faction, Dr. Proudie.
Chapter 2: Hiram's hospital according to act of parliament.
This chapter retells as background events from The Warden. Mr. Harding had been warden of Hiram's charity hospital in Barchester. After pressure from a local reformer, John Bold, and from the Jupiter newspaper, he resigned, continuing as rector of a small church, St. Cuthbert's, and as precentor (leader of singing in the choir or congregation) in the cathedral. Bold, regretting his action, married Harding's daughter, Eleanor, and later died leaving Eleanor a large inheritance and a young son. At this point in time, the lot falls to the new bishop to choose a new warden for the hospital, and to put into effect reforms there which have been instituted by parliament.
Chapter 3: Dr. and Mrs. Proudie.
The reader is introduced to the new bishop, a church liberal and thus seen as useful by the Whigs, and his dominating wife, a strict believer in proper religious observance and the promoter of the career of Mr. Obadiah Slope, the bishop's chaplain.
Chapter 4: The bishop's chaplain.
We are told the history of Mr. Slope. He met Mrs. Proudie in London when a young preacher, and she, supporting his theology furthered his career through her husband. Looking to advance himself financially, Slope courted the Proudie's eldest daughter, Olivia, but stopped on learning of the family's meagre wealth. He tried again when Proudie became bishop but was rejected. He thinks that he can outmanoeuvre Mrs. Proudie in her efforts to effectively be bishop in view of her husband's lack of interest in church administration. He is a powerful preacher, very popular with women, a supporter of the Low Church and, like Mrs. Proudie, a Sabbatarian.
Chapter 5: A morning visit.
Two days after the bishop's arrival in Barchester Harding and the archdeacon visit him. Their meeting is unpleasant as Slope and Mrs. Proudie lecture them on the evils of train journeys on the Sabbath and complain about the state of the Episcopal palace. On leaving, the archdeacon is ready to burst with fury and even the mild Harding nearly loses his patience.
Chapter 6: War.
The archdeacon, as a result of meeting Slope, decides to encourage high church practice in order to aggravate him. Slope, aware of the archdeacon's antagonism, pre-empts him by conniving to preach in the cathedral the next Sunday, where he assaults high church practices in his sermon, shocking the local clergy. He also attacks the custom of intoning the church service, which strikes particularly hard at Harding. Even the bishop is surprised.
Chapter 7: The dean and chapter take counsel.
The archdeacon is enraged by the sermon, while Harding worries that he may soon lose the position of precentor. The chapter of the cathedral are furious at Slope's sermon, but some poorer clergymen including Mr. Quiverful, the rector of Puddingdale, see a possibility to advance themselves by supporting Slope. Slope's new ideas appeal especially to the women in the congregation, and although the chapter will not let him preach again in the cathedral many women are happy to listen to him outside it. The Proudies return to London.
Chapter 8: The ex-warden rejoices in his probable return to the hospital.
Slope visits Eleanor and Mary Bold, winning their acceptance through flattery of them and Harding. Harding feels certain to be re-appointed warden, but on a reduced income, and is determined to ask Slope for no favours. Eleanor tries to defend the latter and is rebuffed by her father.Chapter 9: The Stanhope family.
Dr. Vesey Stanhope, a clergyman who for some years has been absent from Barchester and living with his family in Italy, returns with them to Barchester on receiving a letter from Slope threatening to expose such abuses of the church. Stanhope cares little for religion and his wife cares only for clothes. Their elder daughter, Charlotte, runs their household life, while the younger, Madeline, who had married a
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