The Gaskell Society

The Gaskell Society

Celebrating the life and work of Elizabeth Gaskell

To mark our new season of Knutsford discussions on Sylvia’s Lovers, Dr Diane Duffy has compiled a series of quotes from Chapters 16-23. These chapters will be covered in her January 2024 session.  Follow the Gaskell Society on Twitter and look out for the hashtag #sylviaslovers for daily tweets from late September. 

Chapter 16

She liked Philip better, too, than she had done a year or two before, because he did not show her any of the eager attention which teased her then, although its meaning was not fully understood.

Independent of any personal interest which either or both of them had or might have in Kinraid’s being a light o’ love, this fault of his was one with which the two grave, sedate young men had no sympathy. 

Daniel Robson liked Kinraid, and had strong sympathy not merely with what he knew of the young sailor’s character, but with the life he led, and the business he followed.

Kinraid to Sylvia: ‘There’s many a one ready to come after yo’; and yo’r mother is not o’er captivated wi’ me; and there’s yon tall fellow of a cousin as looks black at me, for if I’m not mista’en he’s a notion of being sweet on yo’ hisself.’

Chapter 17

The specksioneer was full of kindliness towards all the world, especially towards all Sylvia’s friends, and, convinced of her great love towards himself, had forgotten any previous jealousy of Philip.

Secure and exultant, his broad, handsome, weather-bronzed face was as great a contrast to Philip’s long, thoughtful, sallow countenance, as his frank manner was to the other’s cold reserve.

Kinraid No gloomy dread of his long summer’s absence; no fear of the cold, glittering icebergs bearing mercilessly down on the Urania, nor shuddering anticipation of the dark waves of evil import, crossed her mind. He loved her, and that was enough.

Philip knew the uselessness of remaining; the need for his departure; and yet he stood still for a little time like one entranced, as if his will had lost all power to compel him to leave the place.

Chapter 18

Below, in the sheltered brushwood, among the last year’s withered leaves, some primroses might be found. He half thought of gathering Sylvia a posy of them, and rushing up to the farm to make a little farewell peace-offering.

running his eye over Philip’s figure, he decided that the tall stooping fellow was never cut out for a sailor, and that he should get small thanks if he captured him, to pay him for the possible risk of losing the other. 

Once more he looked out towards the ship. She had spread her beautiful great sails, and was standing out to sea in the glittering path of the descending sun.

Chapter 19

Sylvia might treasure up her lover’s words like grains of gold, while they were lighter than dust in their meaning to Philip’s mind; words the specksioneer used as counters to beguile and lead astray silly women. It was for him to prove his constancy by action

But still Philip craved so for news of Sylvia—even for a sight of paper which she had seen, and perhaps touched.

Naturally grave and quiet, and slow to speak, Philip impressed those who saw him with the idea of greater age and experience than he really possessed.

it might have given Philip a not unworthy pleasure to remember that, without a penny of his own, simply by diligence, honesty, and faithful quick-sightedness as to the interests of his masters, he had risen to hold the promise of being their successor

Chapter 20

Sylvia, found the bleak sea-winds came up and blighted all endeavours at cultivating more than the most useful things—pot-herbs, marigolds, potatoes, onions, and such-like.

‘We’ll noane fret thy mother by lettin’ on how oft he came and went. She’ll, may-be, be thinkin’ he were for speakin’ to thee, my poor lass; an’ it would put her out a deal, for she’s a woman of a stern mind towards matteremony. 

‘And what dun yo’ think a’ t’ folks is talkin’ on i’ Monkshaven?…thy nephew, Philip Hepburn, has got his name up i’ gold letters four inch long o’er Fosters’ door! Him and Coulson has set up shop together, and Fosters is gone out!’

Bell about Sylvia: ‘If thou’s thinking on a match between ’em, it ‘ll be a long time afore th’ poor sad wench is fit t’ think on another man as sweetheart.’ 19

Chapter 21

Rose identical even in character with what he knew of the specksioneer; a girl choosing the wrong lover, and suffering and soured all her life in consequence of her youth’s mistake; was that to be Sylvia’s lot?

Then Philip went on to wonder if the lives of one generation were but a repetition of the lives of those who had gone before, with no variation but from the internal cause that some had greater capacity for suffering than others. 

Philip to Coulson about Hester: I’ll see what I can do; but, lad, I dunnot think she’ll have thee. She doesn’t fancy thee, and fancy is three parts o’ love, if reason is t’ other fourth.’

‘Lad! it’s not schooling, nor knowledge, nor book-learning as carries a man through t’ world. It’s mother-wit. And it’s noane schooling, nor knowledge, nor book-learning as takes a young woman. It’s summat as cannot be put into words.’

Mrs Robson: ‘I’ll do no such thing. Marriages are best made wi’out melling. How do I know but what she likes some one better?’

Coulson: He did not love his new sweetheart as he had done Hester: there was more of reason and less of fancy in his attachment. But it ended successfully; and before the first snow fell, Philip was best man at his partner’s wedding.

Chapter 22

in the great struggle in which England was then involved, the navy was esteemed her safeguard; and men must be had at any price of money, or suffering, or of injustice.

Chapter 23

Neither Hobbs nor his man Simpson were bad men; if things had gone well with them they might each have been as scrupulous and conscientious as their neighbours, and would sooner have done good than evil; but a very small sum was enough to turn the balance.

 the fire-bell had been a decoy; a sort of seething the kid in its mother’s milk, leading men into a snare through their kindliest feelings. 

Daniel did not realize what the loss of all the small property Simpson had in the world was to the poor fellow (rapscallion though he was, broken down, unprosperous ne’er-do-weel!) in his pride at the good work he believed he had set on foot.