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Cranford

society, gaskell, wrote, married and humor

CRANFORD. Not exactly a novel, Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell's (Cranford' was first pub lished as a series of ((sketches from life° in Household Words, a periodical which Dickens was editing. When the series came to an end in 1853 the sketches were collected and issued as a book. Mrs. Gaskell wrote with her mem ory upon Knutsford (renamed Cranford), a little country town in Cheshire, England, where she passed her childhood, where she later vis ited, and where she was married. And yet, though she drew freely from her recollections, her art required that she make many altera tions in incident and character. Her Cranford is a town given over mostly to spinsters, who somehow manage to live in a genteel manner i on small incomes inherited from a father or a mother dead long A widow may be re ceived into the society, but it is with some sus picion; and a retired army officer is welcome, provided he brings no wife. Rarely are there any marriages except among servants and shop keepers. Mr. Hoggins, the doctor, manages to take Lady Glenmzre, a newcomer, to the altar, but their conduct is frowned upon by the chaste ladies, one of whom, on retiring, always rolls a ball under her bed as a sure and easy means of detecting whether by chalice a man lies con cealed there to frighten her with "a great fierce face.° The most exciting amusements are visits to the shops, little select parties at tea or at cards, and an occasional exhibition of a travel ing juggler in the assembly rooms. A cow falls into a lime-pit and loses all her hair, and her feminine owner dresses her in "a flannel waist coat and flannel drawers° to keep away the winter's cold. The literary lady cultivates her mind with the works of Dr. Johnson, and con

tends that (Rasselas' far surpasses in humor anything in Mr. Dickens's (Pi&wicic,> then just appearing in monthly numbers. There are, of course, no children, but the younger members of the• best society find something to do in chasing sunbeams from a new carpet in order that it may not fade. If 'Cranford' has a cen tral figure, it is Miss Matty Jenicyns, who should have married in youth Thomas Holbrook, Esq., and been made happy long ago. Both live into old age and die unmarried. It is a romance of subdued but rare pathos.

Mrs. Gaskell wrote novels of wider sweep than Her (Mary Barton,' for example, dealing with the conflict between labor and capital, between the manufacturer and the operatives in his mill, made a profound im pression upon the Europe of her day. But this and other novels, like