Cornhill Magazine,  9 (1864), 51–65.

Cousin Phillis. Part III  [3/4]

[Elizabeth C Gaskell]


Short Fiction, Serial


Engineers, Railways, Instruments, Measurement, Status, Steamships

    Edward Holdsworth's attempts to teach the Reverend Ebenezer Holman and his earnest daughter Phillis the 'practical art of surveying and taking a level' using a 'theodolite' (in which the narrator, Paul Manning, is 'set to work to hold the chain') are interrupted by a sudden rainstorm which allows the debonair Holdsworth to speak privately with Phillis (52). Soon after, however, Holdsworth is summoned to London by 'Greathed the engineer' (about whom the narrator adds, 'Greathed was well known in those days; he is dead now, and his name half-forgotten'), who makes him 'a very advantageous proposal [...] to go out to Canada, and superintend the making of a [railway] line there' (56). Before departing, Holdsworth confesses his love for Phillis to her cousin Paul, who continues his engineering work on the branch line from Eltham to Hornby under a new superintendent who keeps up 'a strict discipline as to hours' which limits Paul's subsequent visits to his rural relations in Heathbridge (60). On one of these rare visits, Phillis is surprised at hearing that Paul has already received a letter from Holdsworth in Canada, and reflects that she 'thought he would be a month if he went in a sailing-vessel, or perhaps longer. I suppose he went in a steamer'. Her mother interjects, 'Old Obadiah Grimshaw was more than six weeks in getting to America'. (61)


Gaskell 1865

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