« ZurückWeiter »
hot heads of angry unionists by granting " It was the latter part of July when Marimpunity to murder.
garet returned home. The forest trees were The sacrifice of what is eternally right all one dark, full, dusky green ; the fern below to what is temporarily agreeable is liable
them caught all the slauting sunbeams; the to be often demanded by the exigencies Margaret used to tramp along by her father's
weather was sultry and broodingly still. of romance, and therefore is it that so
side, crushing down the fern with a cruel many critics set their faces against moral glee, as she felt it yield under her light foot, aims in novels, and declare that it is their and send up the fragrance peculiar to it,sole mission to be entertaining. In her out on the broad commons into the warmearlier works Mrs. Gaskell never con
scented light, seeing multitudes of wild, free, sented to this, and “ NORTH AND SOUTH”
living creatures, revelling in the sunshine,
and the herbs and flowers it called forth. is a second illustration of the quarrel be- This life
at least, these walks-realized all tween Manchester masters and opera- Margaret's anticipations. . . Her out-of-doors tives as it was in the times that are past. life was perfect. Her in-doors life had its But here the quarrel is incidental to drawbacks.” another story, designed to set forth the different fibre of Hampshire and Lanca- And very serious drawbacks they shire men—to the distinct advantage of were ;—the shadow of a dear son, lost to the latter. It is easy to see where Mrs. home and country, an exile and fugitive Gaskell's heart is, and where also was her under sentence of death, for the leading truer and fuller knowledge at this period part he had taken in a mutiny on board of her career.
a king's ship; failing health and broken The scene opens on the eve of a wed- spirits for the bereaved mother, and sad ding in London, and we are introduced doubts and unrest on the part of Mr. first to the bride elect, a pretty young Hale, which brings him to a resolution to lady afraid of anybody who does any- give up Helstone and his
office as a minthing for conscience' sake, and her cou- ister of the Church of England. And sin, the heroine, Margaret Hale, who has here we think there is some haziness been brought up with her in Harley and exaggerated sentiment. As a man of Street. We make a passing acquaint- honor and conscience, Mr. Hale could ance with the bridegroom, a brave, certainly not any longer hold a cure handsome noodle; with his brother, a under a religious system that he believed clever, ambitions barrister; and with the contrary to right (what his special diffibride's mother, Mrs. Shaw, who, having culties were we are not told), but it is a married for position, has all her life since curious misconception of Anglicanism to professed regret for what she missed in · set forth as one of its principles that to not marrying for love like her sister, leave the Church of England is to be Margaret's mother, who having accepted severed from the Church of God. We an amiable clergyman, has moped with had hitherto rested in peace under the him in affectionate discontent and ob- belief that all the reformed congregations, scurity ever since at Helstone, a parish at home and abroad, whatever their govin the New Forest, and in such straight- ernment, were of the same household ened circumstances that she cannot at- of faith as ourselves. To be sure it is by tend her niece's marriage, because it the lips of Margaret Hale that the new would not be prudent to buy new clothes notion is promulgated, and that may acfor the occasion, and she will not dis- count for its eccentricity ; heroines are grace it by going shabby. After the commonly nice girls and good practical wedding, we are taken down to Hels- Christians, but they are not often strong tone, with Margaret Hale and her father, in doctrine or ecclesiasticism. pot greater strangers to the heroine's From the sunny parsonage in the New home than she is herself; and here occur Forest to a dreary little house in a dull some of those sweet descriptive bits of suburb of Milton - Northern, Darkshire, country which betray that if Mrs. Gas- is a long step, but Mr. Hale takes it, with kell's lot was cast in murky Manchester, delicate wife and reluctant daughter, and
, her immagination made it one of the one faithful tyrannical servant, Dixon, brightest holidays in the woods and Mrs. Hale's confidant, and her maid befields.
fore her marriage. Mr. Hale proposes
to eke out his slender private income by Bessy, but taller and stronger, was busy at giving lessons in the classics to any the wash-tub, knocking about the furniture manufacturers or sons of manufacturers in a rough, capable way, but altogether makwho can be induced to spare an hour ing so much noise that Margaret shrunk, out
of sympathy with poor Bessy. . now and then from the universal business
". Do you think such life as this is worth of money-making. Through an old col- caring for ?' gasped Bessy, at last. Margaret lege friend, Mr. Bell, Margaret's god- did not speak, but held the water to her lips. father, he gains his first and best pupil, Bessy took a long, feverish draught, and then Mr. Thornton, of Marlborough Mills, fell back and shut her eyes. Margaret heard the representative granite man of the her murmur to herself: "They shall hunger
no more, North, of whom his mother-more gra: the sun light on them, nor any heat.'
neither thirst any more ; neither shall nite than himself — says with honest
Margaret bent over and said : ‘Bessy, pride: “Go where you will—I don't say dont be impatient with your life, whatever it in England only, but in Europe, -the is, —or may have been. Remember who gave name of John Thornton, of Milton, is it you, and made it what it is.' known and respected by all business men.
-“She was startled by hearing Nicholas Of course it is unknown in the fashionable speak behind her; he had come in without
her noticing him. circles," she continued, scornfully. “Idle
“Now, I'll not have my wench preached ladies and gentlemen are not likely to to. She's bad enough as it is, with her dreams know much of a Milton Manufacturer, and her methodie fancies, and her visions of unless he gets into Parliament, or mar- cities with golden gates and precious stones. ries a lord's daughter."
And if it amuses her I let a' be, but I'm none This John Thornton plays hero admir- going to have more stuff poured into her.' ably to Margaret Hale's heroine, and they “you believe in what I said, that God gave
“* But surely,' said Margaret, facing round, begin in the most promising way with a
her life, and ordered what kind of life it was little aversion. How this aversion be-. to be.' comes interest, admiration, and some- 6. I believe what I see and no more. That's thing more, is the substance of the story; what I believe, young woman. I don't beand a perfectly charming story it would lieve all I bear--no ! not by a big deal. be, but for what strikes us as a wanton
Bessy had been watching Margaret's face; degradation of Margaret by putting her she half sat up to speak now, laying her hand
on Margaret's arm with a gesture of entreaty. into circumstances where she is driven “Dont be vexed wi' him—there's many a one to think a lie better policy than the thinks like him; many and many a one here. truth—necessary, indeed, to save her If yo' could hear them speak, yo'd not be brother's life-á tricky expedient for shocked at him; he's a rare good man, is faraising interest which blemishes more
ther-but oh!' said she, falling back in desthan one of Mrs. Gaskell's works. We pair, 'what he says at times makes me long to
die more than ever, for I want to know so know bow Sir Walter Scott dealt with a
many things, and am so tossed about wi' similar difficulty in “ The Heart of Mid- wonder.' Lothian," and what a profound effect he “ “Poor wench-poor old wench-I'm loth creates by making Jenny Deans tell the to vex yo', I am; but a man mun speak out for truth, and trust God for the conseqences.
the truth ; and when I see the world going The subordinate characters in "NORTH all wrong at this time o' day, bothering itself AND SOUTH," chiefly factory - folk, are
wi' things it knows naught about, and leavtouched in with force and distinctness, close at its hand—why, I say, leave a' this talk
ing undone all the things that lie in disorder and this remark applies no less to about religion alone, and set to work on what “MARY BARTON,” than to all the later yo' see and know. That's my creed. It's productions of our author. As a pa- simple, and not far to fetch nor hard to work.' thetic example of the home-life of the “But the girl only pleaded the more with “hands,” in whose joys and sorrows she Margaret. “Don't think hardly on him,- he's had so keen a sympathy, we will quote be moved wi' sorrow even in the City of God,
a good man, he is. I sometimes think I shall a scene between a weaver on strike and
if father is not there.' The feverish color his daughter, whom Margaret Hale has came into her cheek, and the feverish flame gone to visit as she lies sick, and slowly into her eye. “But you will be there, father ! wearing away to the “Land o' the leal.” You shall! Oh! my heart!' She put her hand
to it and became ghastly pale. “A great slatternly girl, not so old as "Margaret held her in her arms, and put
the weary head to rest upon her bosom. She more of your time.
I've turned lifted the thin soft hair from off the temples, off upwards of a hundred of my best bands and bathed them with water. Nicholas un- for no other fault than following you, and derstood all her sigus for different articles such as you ; and d'ye think I'll take you on? with the quickness of love, and even the I might as well put a fire-brand into the round-eyed sister moved with laborious gen- midst of the cotton-waste.' tleness at Margaret's ‘bush.' Presently the “ Higgins turned away; then the recollecspasm that foreshadowed death had passed tion of Boucher came over him, and he faced away, and Bessy raised herself and said, round with the greatest concession he could
**I'll go to bed—it's best place; but,' persuade himself to make. I'd promise catching at Margaret's gown, 'yo'll come yo', measter, I'd not speak a word as could again, I know yo' will—but just say it.' do harm, if so be yo' did right by us ; and I'd
* • I will come to-morrow,' said Margaret. promise more; I'd promise that when I see'd
“Bessy leant back against her father, who yo' going wrong, and acting unfair, I'd speak prepared to carry her up stairs; but as Mar- · to yo' in private first ; and that would be a garet rose to go he struggled to say some- fair warning. If yo' and I did na agree in thing. “I could wish there were a God, if it our opinion o' your conduct, yo' might turn were only to ask him to bless thee.'”
me off at an hour's notice.' One more quotation from “ NORTH * Upon my word, you don't think small AND SOUTH,” and we will pass on from
beer of yourself; Hamper has had a loss of the familiar ground where Mrs. Gaskell you. How came he to let you and your
wisdom go ?' earned her first fame to the novels of
“Well, we parted wi' mutual dissatisf:icber middle manner—for she had three, tion. I would not gi'e the pledge they were alike yet distinct, and the latest was the asking; and they would not have me at no best—that by which her name will be rate.
So I'm free to make another engage
ment.' kept fragrant beyond this generation.
" " That you may have niore money The passage tells its own story.
for another strike, I suppose ?' " It was not a favorable moment for Hig- 66 "No, I'd be thankful if I was free to do gins to make his request. But he had pro- that; it's for to keep th’ widow and childer mised Margaret to do it at any cost. So, of a man who was drove mad by them knob. though every moment added to his repug- sticks o' yourn ; put out of his place by a nance, his pride and his sullenness of temper, Paddy that did na know weff fra warp.' he stood leaning against the dead wall, hour Well, you'd better turn to something after hour, first on one leg and then on the else if you've any such good intention in your other. At last the latch was sharply lifted, head. I should not advise you to stay in and out came Mr. Thornton.
Milton ; you're too well known here.' ** I want for to speak to yo', sir.'
« « If it were summer,' said Higgins, “I'd “Can't stay now, my man, I'm too late as take to Paddy's work, and go as a navvy, or it is.'
haymaking, or summut, and ne'er sce Milton “Well, sir, I reckon I can wait till yo' again. But it's winter, and the childer will come back.'
At last Mr. Thornton clem.' returned.
'A pretty navvy you'd make! Why, * • What! you there still !'
you could not do half a day's work at digging “Ay, sir, I mun speak to yo'.'
against an Irishman.' 'Come in here, then. Stay! we'll go " "I'd only charge half a day for the twelve across the yard.' 'It is such men as hours, if I could only do half a day's work in this,' thought he, 'who interrupt commerce, the time. Yo're not knowing of any place, and injure the very town they live in; mere where they could gi' me a trial away fra’ demagogues, lovers of power, at wbatever the mills, if I'm such a firebrand? I'd take cost to others.' ... 'Well, sir, what do any wage they thought I was worth, for the you want with me?' said Mr. Thornton, facing sake of those childer.' round at him as soon as they were in the "Don't you see what you would be ? You'd counting-house.
be a knobstick. You'd be taking less wages * "I want work.'
than the other laborers-all for the sake of • Work! You're a pretty chap to come another man's children. Think how you'd asking me for work. You don't want impu- abuse any poor fellow who was willing to dence, that's clear.'
take what he could get to keep his own chil“Mr. Thornton saw a letter addressed to dren. You and your union would soon be himself on the table. He took it up and down upon him. No, no! if it's only for the read it through. At the end, he looked up recollection of the way in which you've used and said, “What are you waiting for?' the poor knobsticks before now, I say, No, to
** An answer to th' question I axed.' your question. I will not give you work. * • I gave it you before. Don't waste any
There's your answer.'
"I hear, sir. I would na ha' troubled entertainer being the charming Madame yo' but that I were bid to come, by one as de Sablé. seemed to think yo'd getten some soft place We shall now pass forward to “RUTII;": in yo'r heart. She were mistook, and I were
in order of publication, Mrs. Gaskell's misled. But I'm not the first man as is misled by a woman.'
second great work, written in what we 66 Tell her to mind her own business the have styled her second manner, and, of next time, instead of taking up your time and all her novels, perhaps, least our favmine too.' I believe women are at the bot- orite. It is the story of a life full of tom of every plague in this world. Be off
tears ; of a girl left fatherless and motherwith you.' “I'm obleeged to yo’ for a' yo'r kindness, less, and apprenticed at fifteen, by a
’ measter, and most of a' for yo'r civil way
guardian who has no personal interest in o' saying good-bye.'
her, to the head milliner of a country “ Mr. Thornton did not deign a reply. town. Pretty, graceful, timid, untaught, But looking out of the window a minute after, a little indolent, a little refined ; without he was struck with the lean, bent figure going protection, without counsel, save that out of the yard ; tbe heavy walk was in voice of God in the soul of her which we strange contrast with the resolute, clear de
call conscience, she attracts the dangerous termination of the man to speak to him. He
admiration of a self-indulgent young gencrossed to the porter's lodge. “ “How long has that man Higgins been
tleman of three and twenty, and with as waiting to speak to me?'
little pre-meditation as may be in such a “He was outside the gate before eight case, they go astray together. Ruth hears o'clock, sir. I think he's been there ever a whisper within, warning her that it is since.'
not good for her to meet Mr. Bellingham, "And it is now-?'
to walk with him when she should be at ". Just one, sir.' "• Five hours,' thought Mr. Thornton ;
church ; but her pleasures are so few, and 'it's certainly a long time for a man to wait
this pleasure is so great. Thoughts of her doing nothing, but first hoping and then mother, dead and gone, hold her a little fearing.'"
while, but a threat from her mistress
opens the door of opportunity to ber For the credit's sake of the granite
lover, and he entices her easily over the men of the north, we must add that Mr.
threshold of temptation, soon to abandon Thornton repented before the day was her in that wilderness of sorrow and sufover, and did give Higgins work-which fering, where society has decreed that
the man did not take without telling the women who have once left the straight master a bit of his mind.”
paths of virtue shall wander all their “North and South” was originally days outcast, branded, apart. Whether published in Household Words, as were this decree of society is Christian, wise, also the delicious pictures of country- fair, is the hard problem Mrs. Gaskell town life, grouped together under the sets us to consider and to solve in the name of “ CRANFORD.” Mrs. Gaskell has
sad story of “Ruth.” And first she written many things of greater power shows us the girl while she was yet and more vivid interest than these stories, "snow pure,” wearying in the milliner's but nothing that will better bear to be work-room, at two o'clock on a January read over and over again. They are rich morning, during a brief interval for rest, in her peculiar humor, her sense of fun, in the labor of preparation for a country and warm throughout with her genuine ball. womanly kindness. Akin to these are numerous short tales, contributed to
“Ruth pressed her hot forehead against
the cold glass, and strained her aching eyes various periodicals, amongst which we in gazing out on the lovely sky of a winter's may instance, as most striking, • Lizzie
night. The impulse was strong upon her to Leigh,” “ The Grey Woman," and "Mr. snatch up a shawl, and wrapping it round Harrison's Confessions,” which have her head, to sally forth and enjoy the glory; been since collected into volumes. In and time was, when that impulse would have another linė, under the title of “ Compa- been instantly followed ; but now, Ruth's eyes ny Manners,” she gives us her notions filled with tears, and she stood quite still, ·
dreaming of the days that were gone. Some of how society is made agreeable, or the
one touched her shoulder while her thoughts reverse: her pet illustration of a perfect were far away, remembering past January
nights, which had resembled this, and were shadow cast by the trees. In the very midyet so different.
dle of the pond the sky was mirrored clear * * Ruth, love,' whispered a girl who had and dark, a blue which looked as if a black distinguished herself by a long and hard fit of void had laid behind. coughing, 'come and have some supper. You “Oh! there are water-lilies,' said Ruth, don't know how it helps one through the her eye catching on the farther side. I night.'
must go and get some.' ". One run-one blow of the fresh air “No, I will get them for you. The ground would do me more good,' said Ruth.
is spongy all round there. Sit still, Ruth; ** Not such a night as this,' replied the this heap of grass will make a capital seat.' other.
“He went round, and she waited quietly " • And why not such a night as this, Jen- for his return. When he came back, he took ny?' answered Ruth. 'Oh! at home I have off her bonnet, without speaking, and began many a time run up the lawn all the way to to place his flowers in her hair. She was the mill, just to see the isicles bang on the quite still while he arranged her coronet, lookgreat wheel, and when I was once out, I ing up in his face with loving eyes, with could hardly find in my heart to come in, peaceful composure. She knew that he was even to mother sitting by the fire-even to pleased, from his manner, which had the mother,' she added, in a low melancholy joyousness of a child playing with a new toy, tone, which had something of inexpressible and she did not think of his occupation. It sadness in it."
was pleasant to forget everything except his An interlude of bitter-sweet delight said :
pleasure. When he had decked her out, he follows Ruth's fall from her pure estate. “There, Ruth, now you'll do. Come and Mr. Bellingham carries her to Wales, look at yourself in the pond. Here, where and the landlady of the inn where they
there are no weeds, come.' lodge, though she promptly discerns her
“She obeyed, and could not help seeing
her own loveliness : it gave her a new sense position, finds it “ hard to show the pro
of satisfaction for an instant, as the sight of per contempt,” so gentle is she, so hum
any other beautiful object would bave done, ble and meek. Already on a dull day, but she never thought of associating it with the hours begin to lag with the lover, herself. Her existence was in feeling and already, now and then, a shadow droops thinking and loving. over Ruth's beautiful face. But when
“ Down in that green hollow they were the weather is bright, and they can ram
quite in harmony. Her beauty was all that
Mr. Bellingham cared for, and that was suble abroad, they are happy as children at
preme. It was all he recognized in her, and play. Here is one sunny scene of their he was proud of it. She stood in her white love, close on which come clouds and dress against the trees that grew around; her tears, and the natural end of such love's face was flushed into a brilliancy of color, beginning
which resembled that of a rose in June; the
great heavy white flowers drooped on either “ There was a path leading sharp down, and side of her beautiful head, and if her brown they followed it; the ledge of rock made it hair was a little disordered, the very disorder almost like going down steps, and their walk seemed only to add a grace. She pleased him grew into a bounding, and their bounding into more by looking so lovely than by all her a run, before they reached the lowest plane. A tender endeavors to fall in with his varying green gloom reigned there; it was the still humors." bour of noon; the little birds were quiet in some leafy shade. They went on a few yards, On the evening of this very day, Mr. and then they came to a circular pool over. Bellingham is smitten with fever, his shadowed by trees, whose highest boughs had
mother comes to nurse him, and Ruth is beep beneath their feet a few minutes before.
No sooner The pond was hardly below the surface of is he convalescent than he prepares to the ground, and there was nothing like a bank on any side. A heron was standing there
excluded from his room.
abandon her,-if it can be arranged handmotionless, but when he saw them he flapped somely, he does not “wish to see her bis wings and slowly rose, and soared above again.” His mother regards his selfish the green heights of the wood up into the heartlessness as a return to virtue, and Fery sky itself; for at that depth the trees ap
leaving a letter of severe counsel and a peared to touch the round white clouds that fifty pound note for Ruth, she carries brooded over the earth. The speedwell grew in the shallowest water of the pool, and all
him away from the inn at once, to avoid around its margin, but the flowers were the possibility of meeting with the unhardly seen at first, so deep was the green happy girl. When Ruth finds herself