Elizabeth Gaskell’s Ruth: Ch. 4 A Visual Tour of “The Hill of The Hundred”

Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.

After Ruth and Henry have left Millham Grange we’re taken on a beautiful track, the descriptions are detailed and Eden-like; Let’s explore Gaskell’s prose with some photographs:

…Ruth and Mr. Bellingham plunged through the broken ground to regain the road near the wayside inn. Hand-in-hand, now pricked by the far-spreading gorse, now ankle-deep in sand; now pressing the soft, thick heath, which should make so brave an autumn show; and now over wild thyme and other fragrant herbs, they made their way, with many a merry laugh…

…They stood together at the top of a steep ascent, “the hill” of the hundred

Photo © Andrew Bowden

At the summit there was a level space, sixty or seventy yards square, of unenclosed and broken ground, over which the golden bloom of the gorse cast a rich hue, while its delicious scent perfumed the fresh and nimble air.

Photo © John Meynard

On one side of this common, the ground sloped down to a clear bright pond, in which were mirrored the rough sand-cliffs that rose abrupt on the opposite bank; Hundreds of martens found a home there, and were now wheeling over the transparent water, and dipping in their wings in their evening sport.

Photo © Delos Johnson

Indeed, all sorts of birds seemed to haunt the lonely pool; the water-wagtails were scattered around its margin, the linnets perched on the topmost sprays of the gorse-bushes, and other hidden warblers sang their vespers on the uneven ground beyond.

Wagtail - Photo © Flickr User: Maggi_94

On the far side of the green waste, close by the road, and well placed for the requirements of horses or their riders who might be weary with the ascent of the hill, there was a public-house, which was more of a farm than an inn.

Photo © Flickr User: Texas Eagle

It was a long, low building, rich in dormer-windows on the weather side, which were necessary in such an exposed situation, and with odd projections and unlooked-for gables on every side; there was a deep porch in front, on whose hospitable benches a dozen persons might sit and enjoy the balmy air.

Photo © Flickr User: CaloType46

…Near this comfortable, quiet, unfrequented inn, there was another pond, for household and farmyard purposes, from which the cattle were drinking, before returning to the fields after they had been milked. Their very motions were so lazy and slow, that they served to fill up the mind with the sensation of dreamy rest.

Photo © Carol Von Canon

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim says:

    This makes me want to live in this imaginary place! Beautiful pictures to illustrate this part of the novel. No wonder Ruth is so bright and hopeful 🙂

  2. Anna says:

    I’ve started reading Ruth and reading your posts as well and thank you for posting these wonderful images! Gaskell is such a lovely writer but I often have trouble envisioning the settings – I’ve never experienced such picturesque places before so I often have no idea!

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