Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford: Ch. 2 Annotation – “But don’t you forget the white worsted at Flints”

Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.

“I had, however, several correspondents who kept me au fait as to the proceedings of the dear little town. There was Miss Pole, who was becoming as much absorbed in crochet as she had been once in knitting, and the burden of whose letter was something, like ‘But don’t you forget the white worsted at Flints’ of the old song; for at the end of every sentence of news came a fresh direction as to some crochet commission which I was to execute for her.”

Although we understand the meaning of what Miss Pole’s epistle must have been like it becomes more humorous when brought into context:

Country Commissions
by: George Wentworth Esq.

Dear cousin, I write this in haste,
To beg you will get for Mamma
A pot of best jessamine paste,
And a pair of shoe buckles for Pa’

At Exeter Change ;—then just pop
Into Aldersgate-street, for the prints;
And when you are there, you can stop
For a skein of white worsted at Flint’s.

Papa wants a new razor-strop,
And mamma wants a chinchilli muff,
Little Boby’s in want of a top,
And my aunt wants sixpen’orth of snuff.

Just call, in St. Martin’s-le-Grand,
For some goggles for Mary, who squints,
Bring a pound of bees-wax from the Strand,
And the skein of white worsted from Flint’s.

And while you are there, you can stop
For some Souchong in Monument-yard ;
And when you are there, you can pop
Into Mary-le-bone for some lard.

And when you are there, you can call
For some silk of the latest new tints,
At the Mercer’s not far from Whitehall—
But remember the worsted at Flint’s.

.And while you are there, ’twere as well
If you’d call in Whitechapel, to see
For the needles, and then in Pall Mall
For some lavender-water for me;

And while you are there you can go
To Wapping, to old Mr. Clint’s ;
But all this you may easily do
When you get the white worsted from Flint’s.

.I send in this parcel from Bet
An old spelling-book to be bound,
A Cornelian broach to be set,
And some razors of Pa’s to be ground.

Oh ! dear, what a memory have I!
Notwithstanding aunt Deborah’s hints—
I’ve forgotten to tell you to buy
A skein of white worsted at Flints!


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