« ElőzőTovább »
kell, , The of
693 Prince Consort, The Early Years of H. R. H., 582
84 Protestantism, German, Social Aspects of, 701
Recreation, The Rationale of,
upon the Characters in,
304 Social Aspect, The, of German Protestant-
216 South American Vegetation, Some Charac-
Thiers, Louis Adolphe,
The “ Last Supper” of Leonardo Da
need never feel ashamed to say where we THE WORKS OF MRS. GASKELL.*
have been—a comfortable consciousness
that does not remain with us after the “Quand une lecture vous élève l'es- perusal of certain younger authors, who prit, et qu'elle vous inspire des sentiments yet set up for moralists. She is never nobles et courageux, ne cherchez pas afraid of degrading her subject by homeune autre règle pour juger de l'ouvrage; ly details, and on whatever she touches il est bon, et fait de main d'ouvrier.” she leaves the artist - mark of reality. This dictum of Jean de la Bruyère is pe- Other novel - writers of her generation culiarly applicable to the works of Mrs. have more poetry, more scholarship, more Gaskell, whose too brief literary career grace, eloquence and passion, but in the was closed by death early in the past art of telling a story she has no superior year. It is hardly possible to read a page -perhaps no equal. of her writing without getting some It is nineteen years since Mrs. Gaskell good from it. The style is clear and made her first essay in fiction in “MARY forcible, the tone pare, the matter whole- BARTON,” a tale of Manchester Life, which some. Under her guidance we are al- but yesterday was adapted to the stage ways taken into cleanly company, and under the name of the “Long Strike,"
a remarkable testimony to its abiding * 1. Mary Baron : A Tale of Manchester Life. popularity. Novels have been styled 2. North and South.
Week-day Sermons, novelists Week-day 3. Cranford, 4. The Grey Woman, and other Stories.
Preachers, and in more than one of her 5. Round the Sofa.
stories, Mrs. Gaskell takes up the para6. Ruth,
ble of Dives and Lazarus with the avow7. A Dark Night's Work.
ed object of telling one half the world 8. Life of Charlotte Bronté. 9. Sylvia's Lovers.
how the other half lives, that knowledge 10. Cousin Phills, and other Stories,
may breed sympathy, and sympathy 11. Wives and Daughters.
bring about redress for those sufferings NEW SERIES-VOL. VI. No. 1.
which arise from ignorance, misconcep- ed of a strong belief that the privations tion or wilful wrong. She by no means and miseries that they suffered were the thinks it her mission simply to amuse. result of the injustice and hardness of For motto to“ Mary BARTON” she takes the rich, the even tenor of whose seemthese words of Carlysle : “ How knowest ing bappy lives appeared to increase the thou,' may the distressed Norel-wright ex- anguish caused by the lottery-like nature claim, that I, here where I sit, am the fools of their own. She saw the thoroughness ishest of existing mortals ; that this my Long. of this belief manifested from time to ear of a fictitious Biography shall not find time in acts of deadly revenge ; and the one and the other, into whose still longer cars consequences were so cruel to all parties, it may be the means, under Providence, of that the more she reflected on them the instilling somewhat ?' We answer, “None more anxious she became to give utterknows, none can certainly know : therefore, ance to the dumb agony of the people, urite on, worthy Brother, even us thou canst, and to disabuse them of their bitter miseven as it is given thee.'” Thus encou- apprehensions ; for they seemed to her to raged Mrs. Gaskell does write on, and be left in a state wherein lamentation and does instill somewhat, well worth hearing tears were put aside as useless, but in and laying to beart; and that her words, wbich the lips were compressed for and others like them, have been laid to curses, and the hand clenched and ready heart, and have brought forth the fruit to smite. of good deed, witness the universal char- Mrs. Gaskell's vocation was that of a ity that prevailed during the recent cot- peacemaker. She compels us to feel not ton famine, and contrast it with the angry how different men are, but how much distrust that existed between rich and they are alike when the accidents of poor during the calamitous years of 1816- wealth and poverty are put by. She ut47-48 when she first began to teach and to ters her voice often through tears, but preach.
always to a most wise and Christian pur
pose, and throughout “ Mary BARTON “ Words are things; and a small drop of ink, her cry is for Patience with the Poor. Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces
The discussions she strove to pacify, the That which make thousands, perhaps millions, think."
difficulties she strove to smooth, are crop
ping up again in these days with quite Those were days of great trouble and another light upon them, and it is not upsetting both in the social and the politi- always easy to get at her original point cal world. In Ireland there was famine of view, but when we do get at it, we and rebellion ; in France there was revolu- see that it was the just point for that tion, out of which rose the Second Em- time, whatever modifications and changes pire ; in England there was commercial twenty years may have wrought in the distress, such as always bears inost heavily respective positions of masters and men. on the multitudes whose daily labor is The literary merits of the story are great, their daily bread. In the preface of the but the moral of it, the deep, direct, earcheap edition of “Mary BARTON” Mrs. nest intention that underlies the story, Gaskell tells us how, living in Manches- which has performed its mission and beter, sbe learned to feel a deep sympathy come out of date, is its most forcible with the care-worn men thronging its part. busy streets, who looked as if doomed to The conversion of the masters is acstruggle through their lives in strange complished now. Their power is effecalternations of work and want, tossed to tually circumscribed by public opinion and fro by circumstances, apparently in and public government; their consciences even a greater degree than other men; she are better informed than they were half tells us how this sympathy opened to her a century ago, and few rich men would the hearts of one or two of the more care to assert at this hour an absolute thoughtful amongst them ; how she saw right to do what they like with their own. that they were sore and irritable against The individual artisan also is wiser, abler, the prosperous, especially against the more willing to see straight than his famasters whose fortunes they had helped thers were ; but bodies of artisans banded to build up; and how they were possess- in trades' unions are what they always
were-parts of a machine without heart, speech than their wardrobes. It was long without brain, without conscience. Ter- since many of them had known the luxury rible trade outrages, the perpetrators of
of a new article of dress; and the air-gaps which remain undiscovered, still occur at
were to be seen in their garments. Some of
the masters were rather affronted at such a intervals, startling the nation with a re
ragged detachment coming between the wind vival of the worst symptoms of a trea- and their nobility ; but what cared they ? cherous old disease, and almost justifying “At the request of a gentleman hastily the belief of the unaffiliated, that it is chosen to officiate as chairman, the leader of radical in the constitution of these so- the delegates read, in a high-pitched, psalmcieties.
singing voice, a paper containing the opera
tives' statement of the case at issue, their Such an outrage is one of the leading
complaints and demands, which last were not events in the story of “MARY BARTON.”
remarkable for moderation. He was then deThe plot is woven on the back-ground of sired to withdraw for a few minutes, with his a long strike, Mary, her father, and her fellow-delegates, to another room, while the two lovers being the most prominent ac- masters considered what should be their tors in it. John Barton is a busy mem
definitive answer. The masters would not ber of his union, a man not naturally
consent to the advance demanded by the
workmen. They would agree to give one harsh or bitter, but one whose sufferings
shilling per week more than they had prehave turned the milk of human kindness
viously offered—the delegates positively dein his heart to gall. His mother had clined any compromise of their demands. died of want, his little lad had “clem- " Then up sprang Mr. Henry Carson, the med to dead” before his eyes. Hating
head and voice of the violent party amongst factory work for women, he had 'pren
the masters, and addressing the chairman, ticed his dear little Mary to a dressmaker,
even before the scowling operatives, he proand she grew up so bonny, blithe, and posed some resolutions—firstly, declaring all
communication between the masters and that attractive that she not only engaged the particular trades' union at an end ; secondly, affections of Jem Wilson, a suitor in her declaring that no master should employ any own rank of life, but also drew on her- workman in future, unless he signed a declaself the less honorable admiration of ration that he did not belong to any trades' young Mr. Carson, the son of a wealthy union. Considering that the men who now
stood listening with lowering brows of deti cotton spinner. She let her fancy run on
ance, were all of them leading members of the notion of being a lady, and discour
the union, such resolutions were in themages Jem, though she does not love his selves suficiently provocative of animosity; rival, and while matters stand in this po- but not content with simply stating them, sition comes the crisis of the story—ihe Harry Carson went on to characterize the murder of young Carson in fulfilment of conduct of the workmen in no measured a unionist oath of vengeance against the
terms, every word he spoke rendering their
looks more livid, their glaring eyes more masters, and the arrest of Jem Wilson
fierce. for the crime. The circumstances that “Now there had been some by-play at this immediately preceded its commission we meeting. While the men had stood grouped will quote. The first scene is a meeting near the door, on their first entrance, Mr. of masters, and delegates from the men, Harry Carson had taken out his silver pencil, with a view to putting an end to the and had drawn an admirable caricature of
them-lank, ragged, dispirited and faminestrike which was ruining both.
stricken. Underneath be wrote a basty quo“ The door was opened, and the waiter tation from the fat knight's well-known speech announced that the men were below, and in Henry IV. He passed it to one of his asked it were the pleasure of the gentlemen neighors, who acknowledged likeness that they should be shown up. They assen- instantly, and by him it was sent round to ted, and rapidly took their places round the the others, who all smiled and nodded their official table. Tramp, tramp, came the heavy heads. This proceeding was closely observed clogged feet up the stairs, and in a minute by one of the men. He watched the masters five wild, earnest-looking men stood in the as they left the hotel (laughing, some of them room. Had they been larger-boned men you were), and when all had gone, he went to the would have called them gaunt; as it was, waiter, who recognized him— There's a bit they were little of stature, and their fustian on a picture up yonder, as one of the gentleclothes hung loosely on their shrunk limbs. men threw away; I've a little lad at home In choosing their delegates, the operatives as dearly loves a picture; by your leave I'll Lad more regard to their brains and power of go up for it.'"
Hlaving obtained possession of the car- and in familiarizing themselves with its icature he produces it the same evening details. in an assembly of working-men-like
“ Then came one of those fierce, terrible himself out of work—John Barton being to any given purpose. Then under the flaring
oaths which bind members of trades' unions amongst them.
gaslight they met together to consult further. “ The heads clustered together to gaze at
With the distrust of guilt each was suspicious and detect the likenesses.
of his neighbor, each dreaded the treachery " "That's John Slater! I'd ha' known him of another. A number of pieces of paper anywhere by his big nose. Lord ! how like; (the identical letter on which the caricature that's me, by God, it's the very way I'm obli- had been drawn that very morning) were torn gated to pin my waistcoat up, to hide that up, and one was marked. Then all were I've gotten no shirt. That is a shame, and folded up again, looking exactly alike. They I'll not stand it!'
were shutlled together in a hat. The gas was ". Well!' said John Slater, after having extinguished ; each drew out a paper. The acknowledged his nose and his likeness; “I gas was re-lighted. Then each went as far could laugh at a jest as well as e'er the best as he could from his fellows, and examined on 'em, though it did tell agen mysel', if I the paper he had drawn without a word, and were not clemming, and if I could keep from with a countenance as stony and immoveable thinking of them at home, as is clemming,'
as he could make it. (his eyes filled with tears; he was a poor,
“ Then, rigidly silent, they each took up pinched, sharp-featured man, with a gentle their hats and went every one his own way. and melancholy expression of countenance); He wbo had drawn the marked paper had but with their cries for food ringing in my
drawn the lot of the assassin! and he had ears, and making me afeard of going home,
sworn to act according to his drawing. But and wonder if I should hear 'em wailing out
no one, save God and his own conscience, if I lay cold and drowned at th’ bottom of knew who was the appointed murderer.” th’ canal, there—why, man, I cannot laugh at aught. It seems to make me sad that there is any as can make game on what they never
Harry Carson is the victim selected ; knowed; as can make such laughable pic and the evening but one after the sweartures on men whose very hearts within 'em ing of the secret oath, he is shot dead are so raw and sore as ours were and are, God on his way home. At this crisis the help us.'
dramatic interest of the story quite runs "John Barton began to speak; they turned to him with great attention. It makes me falsely accused of the murder and brought
away with its morality. Jem Wilson more than sad, it makes my heart burn within me, to see that folks can make a jest of to trial, gets a safe deliverance in one of starving men ; of chaps who comed to ask for the finest scenes in the book, but the a bit o fire for th' old granny as shivers i' th' real criminal goes unpunished of human cold; for victuals for the childer whose little justice, the wickedness of his act is disvoices are getting too weak to cry aloud wi' simulated, and the law is mocked. That hunger. I have seen a father who had killed
such crimes, done in the supposed intebis child rather than let it clem before his
rest of communities, occasionally evade eyes; and he were a tender-hearted man !'”
discovery, is a fact too patent to be deBrooding and talking over this wound nied, but in a work of fiction, written to their self-love kindles their vindictive
for a great purpose, where points are passions. Barton suggests that instead strained here and strained there, to fit of beating poor “knobsticks," or blind- immaginary circumstances, we would raing them with vitriol, they should have ther this point bad been strained also,
“ at” the masters--set him to serve out
and that the murderer of Harry Carson the masters and see if he will stick at had expiated his crime upon the gallows, aught.
a warning and example to others, tempt“ And so with words, or looks that told
ed and tried as he was tempted and more than words, they built up a deadly plan. tried, at whatever cost of feeling to wriDeeper and darker grew the import of their ters and readers. The book, as we have speeches, as they stood hoarsely muttering said, still enjoys a wide popularity, and as their meaning, and glaring with eyes that told
we have allowed to it the credit of havthe terror their own thoughts were to them, upon their neighbors. Their clenched fists,
ing wrought true sympathy for the poor
in the hearts of their richer neighbors, their set teeth, their livid looks, all told the sufferings which their minds were voluntarily we venture also to express a fear that undergoing in the contemplation of crime, it may have wrought real mischief in the