1 DECEMBER 1894, Page 30


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] In your notice of Mrs. Gaskell's " Collected Works," in the Spectator of November 17th, you seem to think that Mrs. Gaskell followed in George Eliot's footsteps, whereas it was suite the other way, as Mrs. Gaskell was the older writer of the two, being George Eliot's senior by nine years. She was born in 1810; George Eliot in 1819. You say Mrs. Gaskell could lay no claim to rank with either George Eliot or Miss Austen ; " that there was something about her of the imitative faculty; that she read and pondered on the great masters of fiction, and accumulated some of their fancies and methods in her own receptive and reproductive mind." This assertion in so far as it regards Mrs. Gaskell's study of George Eliot, cannot be borne out by facts. George Eliot, in a letter to Mrs. Gaskell just after the publication of "Adam Bede" (the letter is given in extenso in Mr. Cross's Life), speaks of her modes of looking at life as being largely influenced by Cran- ford" and the earlier chapters of "Mary Barton." At this time, Mrs. Gaskell occupied a high place in literature, having written three of her best books, while George Eliot was com- paratively unknown. Mrs. Gaskell died either in 1866 or 1867, before George Eliot had attained the meridian of her fame. Excuse me for pointing out this error, but it seems hardly fair to represent Mrs. Gaskell as failing in originality, when, in facts she was the originator, not the follower, of one who sub- sequently outstripped her.—I am, Sir, &e., Milton Lodge, Ventnor. CATHERINE JANE HAMILTON.