Wednesday, October 16, 2013

neighborly goodwill intentions

This change to a kindlier feeling was shown in various ways. The odour of Christmas cooking being on the wind, it was the season when superfluous pork and black puddings are suggestive of charity in well-to-so families, and Silas's misfortune had brought him uppermost in the memory of housekeepers like Mrs. Osgood. Mr. Crackenthorp, too, while he admonished Silas that his money had probably been taken from him because he thought too much of it, and never came to church, enforced the doctrine by a present of pigs' pettitoes[trotters], well calculated to dissipate unfounded prejudices against the clerical character. Neighbours, who had nothing but verbal consolation to give, showed a disposition not only to greet Silas, and discuss his misfortune at some length when they encountered him in the village; but also to take the trouble of calling at his cottage, and getting him to repeat all the details on the very spot; and then they would try to cheer him by saying, 'Well, Master Marner, you're no worse off nor other poor folks, after all; and if you was to be crippled, the parish 'ud give you a 'lowance.'
I suppose one reason why we are seldom able to comfort our neighbours with our words is, that our goodwill gets adulterated, in spite of ourselves, before it can pass our lips. We can send black puddings and pettitoes without giving them a flavour of our own egoism; but language is a stream that is almost sure to smack of a mingled soil.
~ Silas Marner, George Eliot


  1. They all sound like Job's comforters. This is a book that I need to re-read.

  2. I thought just what Beth did. I need to read this again and maybe as a read-aloud. I usually just assign it.

  3. Good point, ladies. I didn't make that connection. I've started Eliot's Middlemarch and I like the commentary on human nature she provides along the way, reminds me of Louisa May Alcott's commentaries in her novels.


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