the story had completely evolved itself in the mind of the writer. One or two names, less suitable for different reasons, were likewise discarded; as were the more or less obvious “Molly and Cynthia” and “Mr. Gibson’s Daughters”; and, finally, the choice fell on “Wives and Daughters”, a title felicitous in itself, though perhaps not quite exactly balanced in its relation to the story, where one of the “Wives” after all plays only a subordinate part. But in the case of none of the titles which had successively suggested themselves was the addition “An Every-day Story” omitted. It was a story of actual life that Mrs. Gaskell meant to tell, following the precept of Gœthe’s well-known line:

“Lay hold upon the abounding life of man!”

As, in the course of its publication in the monthly numbers of the “Cornhill,” the story drew near its close, Mrs. Gaskell—very unnecessarily—began to fear that it “was getting very long on her hands.” Indeed—how pathetic the thought seems to us now!—she even had a fleeting notion of leaving “Molly and Roger’s love-story (for, of course, that has to come round)” to another novel, in a single volume. It may have been in connection with this passing design that the title of “Round the World and Back Again” momentarily suggested itself. Had Mrs. Gaskell actually reconciled herself to the adoption of the device which was borrowed from Balzac by Anthony Trollope, and which exactly suited his easy-going public, Roger must, of course, have become still more of a protagonist in the action of Part II. than he is in that of the story as it stands. The travelled hero was a familiar personage to that generation, and was particularly affected by French comedy, in the days when Sardou reigned supreme on the contemporary stage.

But the idea was never seriously entertained, and on the other side of the question, there was Madame Mohl giving expression to an opinion from which few readers of the magazine, with whom “Wives and Daughters” had become extraordinarily popular, would have been found to dissent:

“I have this very evening read the last number of the “Cornhill,” and am as pleased as ever. The Hamleys are delightful, and Mrs. Gibson!—oh, the tricks are delicious; but I am not up to Cynthia yet. Molly is the best heroine you have had yet. Every one says it is the best thing you ever did. Don’t hurry it up at the last; that [is] a rock you must not split on.”

Fortunately, this advice, or the consciousness of its soundness, prevailed; and the story was, without undue haste approaching its actual close, when its formal completion was stayed by a Resistless Hand.

Mrs. Gaskell had all but finished the manuscript of “Wives and Daughters”, when she paused—as it seemed only for a moment—in order to inform herself precisely through a scientific friend of the kind of public acknowledgment or appointment which Roger Hamley might have been likely to obtain on his return from his brilliantly successful biological expedition. She was, therefore, very near indeed to the conclusion of what, during the course of its serial publication, had already proved to be one of the most—and of the most immediately—successful of her books; but her strength had begun in some measure to fail her as she approached the completion of her work. In November, 1865, she was staying with three of her daughters and her son-in-law, Mr. Charles Crompton, Q.C., at Holybourne, near Alton in Hampshire, where she had quite recently bought a country-house. This house she intended, on the completion of the MS. of her story, to present to her husband, to whom purchase and gift were to come as a surprise. It has been thought that the readers of this edition will be interested to see the view reproduced as the frontispiece to its concluding volume; but it should be understood that this most artistic picture gives only one end of the house. Here Mrs. Gaskell had during a fortnight carried-on her usual work, with so many around her of those whom she loved best. On Sunday, November 12th, 1865, as already stated, she died, without one moment’s warning.

The “Knutsford Edition” of Mrs. Gaskell’s works appropriately, as well as in accordance with chronological sequence, closes with “Wives and Daughters.” For this story, of which the main theme is after all the happiness and the trials of girlhood, once more takes us back to the unforgotten home of the writer’s own girlish days—the little country-town which will live in story so long as Mrs. Gaskell’s own literary fame endures. Not that in her last book we have chronicles of Hollingford which are simply, under another

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