Cornhill Magazine,  10 (1864), 583–608.

Wives and Daughters. An Every-Day Story Ch. 10–11  [4/17]

[Elizabeth C Gaskell]


Novel, Serial


Natural History, Collecting, Microscopy, Popularization, Language, Amusement

    While returning from the meadows near his home, where he 'had been out dredging in ponds and ditches, and had his wet sling-net, with its imprisoned treasures of nastiness, over his shoulder', Roger Hamley encounters Molly Gibson, who is distressed by the news that her father is to marry again (591). That evening, Roger 'adjusted his microscope, and put the treasures he had collected in his morning's ramble on a little table; and then asked his mother to come and admire. Of course Molly came too, and this was what he had intended. He tried to interest her in his pursuit, cherished her first little morsel of curiosity, and nursed it into a very proper desire for further information. Then he brought out books on the subject, and translated the slightly pompous and technical language into homely every-day speech. Molly had come down to dinner, wondering how the long hours till bedtime would pass away [...]. But prayers and bedtime came long before she had expected; she had been refreshed by a new current of thought, and she was very thankful to Roger' (596). It is 'pleasant to the wisest, most reasonable youth of one or two and twenty to find himself looked up to as a Mentor by a girl of seventeen', and for Roger and Molly the 'bond between the Mentor and his Telemachus strengthened every day. He endeavoured to lead her out of morbid thought into interest in other than personal things; and, naturally enough, his own objects of interest came readiest to hand. She felt that it did her good, she did not know why or how; but after a talk with him, she always fancied that she had got the clue to goodness and peace, whatever befell' (607–08).


Gaskell 1866

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