Times do not change — 8 Comments

  1. There is nothing new. The the phrase ‘the residuem’ – used to refer to the masses/the underclass was coined in the Victorian period.

  2. Read the opening of Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge for a colourful and lively vision of the position of women of the period (and the position of men!)
    What about Dicken’s… Oliver Twist is hardly the stuff of all singing and all dancing family entertainment.

  3. Henchard was always a hero of mine.

    Hardy provides lots of sticks with which to beat the church; particularly, Tess.

  4. I find Hardy hard going, I confess to have only ‘skim read’ his fiction. His poetry is very beautiful tho.

  5. I suppose Skinner was most concerned with Sarah Somers because she was his parishioner. As a prostitute at Redhill, later bringing up her daughters as prostitutes, this nowadays would provide a mammoth subject for the study of female degradation due to abandonment by her husband, failure of further relationships, failure of being able to make a decent second marriage due to the unavailability of divorce etc. However, she made a successful family business out of being the prostitute in this village, offering herself and her daughters to the colliers for money , which is not something that every poor woman did. Skinner was most concerned with her eternal salvation, because he was her vicar. When she thought she was dying, she was most afraid, but did not give a toss about good behaviour during her life. Skinner had plenty to say against domestic violence in other parts of his diaries and went to desperate lengths to try and save Joseph Goold’s wife. Taking this excerpt out makes it look as if Skinner condones male violence, which is quite unfair to him. It probably isn’t surprising that Somer’s husband beat her. It is surprising that Mr Somers did not beat Coward, by which we can take it that Coward was bigger than Mr Somers and note that Coward was true to his name and did not stay around to protect Sarah. Not a good lot all round.Skinner was desperate to get the people of his parish to change the way they lived, without success. That was the theme running through his life at Camerton. He constantly gave money and provisions to the needy poor and wrote to the parish overseers constantly about every case where he thought a poor person was not being given what they needed. He was constantly up in arms about these issues.There does not appear to be any difference between then and now, regarding peoples general behaviour, as you rightly say. All the rubbish we hear about how much more people drink now compared to the past is farcical -when you read in his journals about how much people drank two hundred years ago and the social problems surrounding it! Reading his journal was quite an eye opener and very sad.I really felt for him.

  6. Alice,

    Thanks for the lengthy response. I did not mean to come over as uncharitable towards Skinner; he is a man who goes through great pain.

    I have only the Oxford edition of his journal (which I bought about twenty years ago), but his faith seems very much that of 18th Century Anglicanism – formal and serious and cerebral. He seems a man out of place in trying to cope with Camerton, his antiquarian interests being in a different world from that inhabited by Sarah Somers

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