Silas Marner today because don’t have time to choose a poem.
I’m struggling to change my morning routine, wanting to get exercise in before I read and write. Why? Because my resistance is lower earlier. Routines, habits, are things I have scorned for most of my life but now I increasingly wish I could have them. I’ve got (most days) the reading and writing daily practice going, and now I want to add in exercise. It has to come first and it is a palaver, what with getting dressed to do it and then taking a shower…so, dear regular readers, bear with me while I try to establish this new routine, and if there is a knock-on effect here of not having quite enough time.
But to Silas.
I’ve been reading Silas Marner very slowly (search ‘Silas Marner’) and intermittently here for a few months. We’v just finished Chapter 14. you can find the whole text here. For previous posts, search ‘Silas Marner’. There was a bit of a ix up in that I missed out half of chapter 14 the first time round, so you’ll find my reading of the incredibly short chapter 15 back a ways – under the title ‘I Want More Dolly!’ But now I really have finished chapter 14 and 15 and now we are in chapter 16, and the story skips 16 years and Eppie is grown.
Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale, tells the story of a King, Leontes, who wrecks his own life and who rejects and banishes his baby daughter, Perdita. Perdita spends sixteen years being brought up by the shepherd who finds her. It is a story that is broken in half by what Shakespeare calls ‘this wide gap of time’, the sixteen year period in which time passes, a child may grow up, and an adult may learn a long hard slow lesson.
I’m sure George Eliot is thinking of The Winter’s Tale as she writes. ‘Time’ she tells us, ‘ has laid his hand on them all.’ Perdita, I have to tell you, discovers her real father and becomes a princess again…
It was a bright autumn Sunday, sixteen years after Silas Marner had found his new treasure on the hearth. The bells of the old Raveloe church were ringing the cheerful peal which told that the morning service was ended; and out of the arched doorway in the tower came slowly, retarded by friendly greetings and questions, the richer parishioners who had chosen this bright Sunday morning as eligible for church-going. It was the rural fashion of that time for the more important members of the congregation to depart first, while their humbler neighbours waited and looked on, stroking their bent heads or dropping their curtsies to any large ratepayer who turned to notice them.
Foremost among these advancing groups of well-clad people, there are some whom we shall recognize, in spite of Time, who has laid his hand on them all.
George Eliot looks at Godfrey and sees little change. But Nancy, now his wife, does look different:
But the years have not been so cruel to Nancy. The firm yet placid mouth, the clear veracious glance of the brown eyes, speak now of a nature that has been tested and has kept its highest qualities;
We don’t yet know what the testing of her nature has been, only that she has been tested and has survived – more than survived, she has retained her ‘highest qualities’.
I’m reading on fast now, reading about Eppie’s garden and Aaron’s willingness to dig it, and not wanting to stop and think too much, it’s story, I’m pressing on ,enjoying it but not needing to think it out until I come to this part: Silas has developed, we learn,
a humble sort of acquiescence in what was held to be good, had become a strong habit of that new self which had been developed in him since he had found Eppie on his hearth: it had been the only clew his bewildered mind could hold by in cherishing this young life that had been sent to him out of the darkness into which his gold had departed. By seeking what was needful for Eppie, by sharing the effect that everything produced on her, he had himself come to appropriate the forms of custom and belief which were the mould of Raveloe life; and as, with reawakening sensibilities, memory also reawakened, he had begun to ponder over the elements of his old faith, and blend them with his new impressions, till he recovered a consciousness of unity between his past and present. The sense of presiding goodness and the human trust which come with all pure peace and joy, had given him a dim impression that there had been some error, some mistake, which had thrown that dark shadow over the days of his best years; and as it grew more and more easy to him to open his mind to Dolly Winthrop, he gradually communicated to her all he could describe of his early life. The communication was necessarily a slow and difficult process, for Silas’s meagre power of explanation was not aided by any readiness of interpretation in Dolly, whose narrow outward experience gave her no key to strange customs, and made every novelty a source of wonder that arrested them at every step of the narrative. It was only by fragments, and at intervals which left Dolly time to revolve what she had heard till it acquired some familiarity for her, that Silas at last arrived at the climax of the sad story–the drawing of lots, and its false testimony concerning him; and this had to be repeated in several interviews, under new questions on her part as to the nature of this plan for detecting the guilty and clearing the innocent.
run out of time now, oh dear, will try harder to get my timings right tomorrow