Wives and Daughters. An Every-Day Story Ch. 4–6 [2/17]
[Elizabeth C Gaskell]
Scientific Practitioners, Class, Medical Practitioners, Specialization, Authorship, Periodicals, Natural History, Reading, Universities, Education
The shy and ungainly Lord Hollingford returns to his ancestral home, the Towers, with 'scientific acquirements considerable enough to entitle him to much reputation in the European republic of learned men' (355). The inhabitants of Hollingford are 'proud of him' and 'point him out to strangers visiting the little town', knowing that 'he had made one or two discoveries, though in what direction they were not quite sure' (355–56). Mr. Hall, the town's elder doctor, is uncomfortable in the company of Lord Hollingford, and dines with him only 'if some great surgical gun (like Sir Astley) was brought down from London to bear on the family's health' (356). The younger Mr. Gibson, on the other hand, fast becoming '"the doctor" par excellence at Hollingford', is 'perfectly presentable' at the Towers, and when there from 'time to time he met the leaders of the scientific world; odd-looking, simple-hearted men, very much in earnest about their own particular subjects, and not having much to say on any other' (356–57). Encouraged by these encounters with the scientific community, Gibson begins 'to send contributions of his own to the more scientific of the medical journals, and thus partly in receiving, partly in giving out information and accurate thought, a new zest was added to his life' (357). The brothers Osborne and Roger Hamley are both at Cambridge, although their mother reflects that her younger son Roger 'is not likely to have such a brilliant career as Osborne. [...] Roger is not much of a reader [...]. He is so fond of natural history; and that takes him, like the squire, a great deal out of doors; and when he is in, he is always reading scientific books that bear upon his pursuits' (378). Squire Hamley, who has himself been 'plucked' from Oxford, likewise observes that, unlike the poetical Osborne, 'Roger knows a deal of natural history, and finds out queer things sometimes. [...] It is a pity they don't take honours in Natural History at Cambridge. Roger would be safe enough, if they did' (383).
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