50-year-old Mr Proctor has had a very satisfying life as Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Now he has ventured out from that academic haven to become Rector of the parish church in Carlingford. Instead of adjusting gradually to his new surroundings, Mr Proctor becomes more and more uncomfortable in his role of parish clergyman. Finally his presence at the deathbed of a parishioner will bring his feelings to a crisis.
This story also introduces members of Carlingford society who will be featured in future installments of the Carlingford series: 20-year-old Lucy Wodehouse; her middle-aged sister Mary; their father, the churchwarden; and Frank (Cecil) Wentworth, the Perpetual Curate of St Roque's, who does not yet quite realise that he is in love with Lucy.
Biographical and other notes
First editions of this story and The Doctor's Family refer to Mr Wentworth as "Cecil Wentworth". Mrs Oliphant renamed him Frank in The Perpetual Curate, explaining that Cecil was his middle name!
British publishing information
Periodical: Blackwood's Magazine Sept 1861
First edition: William Blackwood and Sons (in The Rector, and The Doctor's Family) 1863