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p. 497Explanatory Noteslocked

  • Carol A. Martin

Writing Adam Bede did not require the extensive background research and reading that were part of George Eliot’s preparation for some of her later works, particularly Romola and, to a lesser extent, Daniel Deronda, but she read the lives of John Wesley and George Stephenson and consulted the Gentleman’s Magazine and other historical documents for detailed information about the late eighteenth century. She also drew upon her memory of her reading and study of the Bible in her youth for the extensive biblical quotations and allusions found in Dinah’s speeches and sermons, and she incorporated her knowledge of the visual arts, enhanced by her travels in Germany in summer 1858, and her reading or rereading of classical literature and the poetry of Wordsworth. The following explanatory notes show how that reading entered the text. Where appropriate, the notes give not only the source of a reference but a brief commentary on the way in which the reference enriches and deepens the novel. Biblical quotations are cited from the King James Version, although George Eliot’s ‘quotations’ are not always exact, presenting instead the text as she remembered it or as she chose to have Dinah adapt it to her preaching. I have glossed dialect words and cited the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for definitions of words not common to the vocabulary of twenty-first-century readers, but have omitted references to some words and phrases that can be found in easily accessible sources, such as ordinary desk-top dictionaries.


Works frequently cited in the notes are referenced using the following short titles and abbreviations:

Rosemary Ashton, George Eliot: A Life (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1996)
Byatt and Warren
George Eliot: Selected Essays, Poems and Other Writings, ed. A. S. Byatt and Nicholas Warren (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990)
Valentine Cunningham, Everywhere Spoken Against: Dissent in the Victorian Novel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975)
The Journals of George Eliot, ed. Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
The George Eliot Letters, ed. Gordon S. Haight (9 vols., Oxford: Oxford University Press and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954–78)
p. 498Notebook
George Eliot: A Writer’s Notebook, 1854–1879, and Uncollected Writings, ed. Joseph Wiesenfarth (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981)
Essays of George Eliot, ed. Thomas Pinney (London: Routledge and New York: Columbia University Press, 1963)
Joseph Wiesenfarth, George Eliot’s Mythmaking (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1977)
Hugh Witemeyer, George Eliot and the Visual Arts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979)

epigraph: “So that … attend.” Wordsworth: a quotation from the Excursion, Book VI, ‘The Churchyard among the Mountains’, by William Wordsworth, ll. 651–8.


Egyptian sorcerer: Edward William Lane’s Modern Egyptians ‘contains an extended account of a magician conjuring from a drop of ink…. That the drop of ink is a “mirror” incontestably associates Eliot’s sentence with Lane, who writes: “I asked the magician whether objects appeared in the ink as if actually before the eyes, or as if in a glass, which makes the right appear left. He answered, that they appear as in a mirror”’ (Notebook, p. xxiii).

“Awake, my soul … noonday clear”: from the morning hymn of Thomas Ken (1637–1711), bishop of Bath and Wells from 1685 to 1691, and a fearless preacher, whose hymns were published in 1695 in his Manual for the Use of Winchester Scholars. ‘Awake, my soul’ is one of the best-known English hymns and is especially appropriate for Adam, a staunch member of the Church and an example of the work ethic embodied in Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help, published the same year as Adam Bede. The author has selected verses that emphasize secular values, especially the value of work, rather than spiritual values, which are the main emphasis of Ken’s hymn (see Alisa M. Clapp-McItnyre, ‘Dinah and the Secularization of Methodist Hymnody in Eliot’s Adam Bede’, Victorians Institute Journal, 26 (1998), 40–68). This secular focus is reiterated in Chapter IV, where Adam’s favourite ‘text’ is drawn from Benjamin Franklin and not the Bible (see note to p. 42).


Adam Bede was a Saxon and justified his name: Adam’s surname alludes to the Venerable Bede, the eighth-century Benedictine monk (d. 735) and author of The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This connection with the virtues and values of the Anglo-Saxon race, as well as the ‘Celtic blood’ tying his lineage to the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain and his given name, from the biblical Adam, mark him as an archetypal figure.

paper cap: a square cap worn by carpenters to keep sawdust and other particles out of their hair. In the serialized edition of Adam Bede published in 1867 and in the New Edition of 1873, the first illustration shows Adam in the foreground and other workmen in the background all wearing such paper caps.

p. 499coronal arch: the frontal bone of the forehead. Phrenology, a pseudo-science popular in the nineteenth century, located the mental powers of an individual in particular areas of the cranium. In August 1851 the phrenologist George Combe, on a visit to Marian Evans’s friends Cara and Charles Bray, described her as ‘“the most extraordinary person of the party” with her many languages, her “very large brain”, her “love of approbation” and large organ of Concentrativeness’ (Ashton, 89).

copper: a penny or a halfpenny; both were made of copper.


panels: distinct, typically rectangular sections or compartments of a wainscot, door, shutter, etc., usually of wood or glass and generally thinner than the surround (OED).

Methody: a slang term for Methodist.


sarmunt: dialect form of sermon.

chop in atween: come between.

I doubt: dialect form of I fear.

What come ye … uncommon pretty young woman: Wiry Ben’s irreverent paraphrase of Matthew 11: 9 sparks a discussion of religion that leads to the novel’s first characterization of Adam as a man more interested in the technological advances of the eighteenth century, which are evidence of God’s ‘put[ing] his sperrit into the workman’, than in the theological controversies of his time.

dead again th’ women preachin’: Adam refuses to be drawn into a debate on women preaching, a practice John Wesley approved when they were effective in bringing sinners to God.


dissenters: members of Protestant religious groups outside the Church of England. In many nineteenth-century novels, they were subjects for ridicule. For a comprehensive discussion of the portrayal of Dissent in the Victorian novel, see Cunningham.

canals, an’ th’ aqueducs … Arkwright’s mills there at Cromford: the spinning frame invented by Sir Richard Arkwright (1732–92) revolutionized the production of thread. His water-powered spinning mills, along with the aqueducts, canals, and steam engines used in the coal mines, were major technological innovations of the eighteenth century and were often invented by self-taught mechanics and artisans like George Stephenson and Richard Arkwright, who studied at night to learn the mathematics they needed in their work. The narrator describes Adam’s work ethic and values at greater length in Chapter XIX, ‘Adam on a Working Day’.

tabernacle … carved work: Adam is probably thinking of the carvings of ‘cherubims and palm trees and open flowers’ in King Solomon’s Temple, described in 1 Kings 6: 29 and 35.

best sarmunt … this long while: Adam’s preaching, however, comes not from the Bible but from Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, specifically ‘God helps them that help themselves’, which Lisbeth Bede in Chapter IV confuses with biblical texts. See note to p. 42.


p. 500Mum Taft: Mum, because he is silent.


take: a lease of land or of a farm for a term of years (OED).

unenclosed ground: common land, not yet enclosed, and therefore available to Methodist preachers for public preaching and worship. Increasingly in the eighteenth century, large landowners took over (enclosed) small farms and common ground to increase profitability of their agricultural land. In Chapter XLIV, Arthur Donnithorne imagines the improvements he will make now that he has come into the estate: ‘He felt himself riding over the hills in the breezy autumn days, looking after favourite plans of drainage and enclosure’ (p. 393). Oliver Goldsmith’s poem ‘The Deserted Village’ (1770) laments the enclosure of common land in images akin to those of George Eliot’s narrator:

Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening’s close Up yonder hill the village murmur rose. There, as I past with careless steps and slow, The mingling notes came soften’d from below …                                                   (113–16)

“spotty globe”: Milton, Paradise Lost, i. 291.


He comes here to preach of a Sunday afternoon: as the narrator notes in Chapter V, Mr Irwine is a ‘pluralist’; that is, he holds three livings, as ‘Rector of Broxton, Vicar of Hayslope, and Vicar of Blythe’ (p. 49). The Broxton living provides the best accommodation, and he preaches there on Sunday morning and at a Sunday afternoon service in Hayslope. The novel makes no further mention of Blythe. See also note to p. 62.

‘hanna yey’: local dialect form for ‘haven’t you’. In fact, Lisbeth Bede, whose speech exhibits the largest number of dialect forms, uses ‘ye’ and ‘ye’ve’ and not ‘yey’ and ‘yey’ve’ in the published text, which replaced the manuscript forms ‘yey’ and ‘yey’ve’. On proofs for the first edition, George Eliot altered this and other dialect forms like ‘hey’ (he), ‘shey’ (she), and ‘mey’ (me) in Chapters IV, X, and XI, after both George Henry Lewes and her publisher, John Blackwood, expressed their concern that the dialect usage would be puzzling to readers. For a discussion of dialect usage, see the Clarendon edition of Adam Bede, pp. cvi–cxix.

Methodists … hold on them: Eliot recorded in her notebook that ‘The class Wesley liked least were the farmers. The agricultural part of the people were least susceptible of Methodism, for Methodism could be kept alive only by associations & frequent meetings; & it is difficult, or impossible, to arrange these among a scattered population. Where converts were made, & the discipline could not be introduced among them, & the effect kept up by constant preaching & inspection, they soon fell off’ (Notebook, 27). The narrator notes later in this chapter that ‘the village mind does not easily take fire’ (p. 26). Bess Cranage is induced by the power of Dinah’s sermon to throw down her earrings, but ‘falls off’ after Dinah returns to p. 501Snowfield. In Chapter VIII, Dinah and Mr Irwine discuss what Dinah calls a ‘strange deadness to the Word’ in rural villages (see p. 84), something evident in the responses of most of the villagers in Chapter II, who are curious but not greatly moved.


lick the French: this reference to England’s war with France, which began in February 1793, is one of several details that set the Napoleonic background for Adam Bede. Adam has had to use his savings to pay for a substitute for Seth in the militia, as Seth reminds his mother in Chapter IV.


feathered grass: a phrase from Keats’s Hyperion, 1. 9.

white umbels: a cluster of flowers whose stalks spring from the same plant. Both this and ‘feathered grass’ suggest the luxuriance of the Loamshire landscape.

bovine: from the French word for ox, appropriate to the response of Dinah’s audience in this chapter, Bessy Cranage excepted, and to Mr Irwine’s description of the farm labourers in Chapter VIII.


“Sehon, King of the Amorites … mercy endureth for ever”: Joshua Rann’s quotation of Psalm 136: 19–20 anticipates his visit to Mr Irwine in Chapter V to report on Dinah’s preaching and to propose strong action, giving Mr Irwine his first opportunity to demonstrate the cool-headed, tolerant attitude that characterizes him throughout the novel.


young olive-branch: an ironic reference to the olive branch as a traditional sign of peace, given that young Ben beats his milk-can with a stick and then kicks out at an elderly Methodist woman who remonstrates with him. The narrator adds to the irony in designating this branch on the Cranage family tree ‘Timothy’s Bess’s Ben’.

gallows young dog: Sandy Jim’s ‘paternal pride’ in the child’s mostly harmless mischievousness is only a playful suggestion that it will lead to his being hanged on the gallows. Mrs Poyser’s critique of Molly in Chapter VI, ‘I never knew your equals for gallowsness’, (p. 68) is, in keeping with Mrs Poyser’s character, more severe.

groon: groan. Ben, in keeping with his comments on Methodism in Chapter I, threatens to mimic the emotional responses that characterized Methodism, in contrast to the more staid Church of England practices.


last: a wooden model of the foot, on which shoemakers shaped boots and shoes.

boguy: this term for an apparition or ghost appears in several forms in different English dialects. Neither the form cancelled in manuscript, buggat, nor the substituted form, boguy, is listed in Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary (1898–1905; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), which gives boggart as the usage in Derbyshire and Staffordshire; buggart, which is closest to the cancelled form, is found in Lancashire.

stuff: woollen cloth.


p. 502net Quaker cap: an openwork (net) cap covering all or most of the hair but not protruding out from the face. Both Quakers and Methodists advocated plainness and modesty in attire.


a poor woman, laden with sins … Thee sitting at the well: the woman of Samaria, John 4: 5–30.

they see Thee in the night-watches: Psalm 63: 6.

hearts burn within them … by the way: Luke 24: 32.

‘Ye will not come … might have life’: John 5: 40.

‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’: Luke 23: 34.

Thou wilt come … judge them at the last: Matthew 24: 30; Luke 21: 27.

‘The spirit of the Lord … gospel to the poor’: Luke 4: 18.


entered into his rest eight years ago: John Wesley (b. 1703) died in 1791.

‘Gospel’ meant ‘good news’: Old English, gód + spel, i.e., good + story.


‘in the image of the Father’: 2 Corinthians 4: 4 refers to ‘the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God’.


‘I came to seek … which was lost’: Luke 19: 10.

‘I came not … sinners to repentance’: Mark 2: 17; Luke 5: 32.


Ranter: originally a reference to members of a sect of Antinomians in 1645, but later applied to the Primitive Methodists. In this specific application, the observation, which appears to be that of the stranger on horseback (a magistrate named Colonel Townley, the reader discovers in Chapter XLV), is anachronistic if it refers to the latter, to whom ‘Ranter’ was not applied until the nineteenth century. The locale, however, is appropriate. The OED quotes the Penny Cyclopedia (1839) as noting that the Primitive Methodists originated in Staffordshire.

ingle-nook: the nook or corner beside the ‘ingle’; chimney-corner (the OED cites this line from Adam Bede as one of the examples for this definition).


“eat an egg … or a nut”: M. P. Tilley’s Dictionary of the Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1950) cites the proverb as ‘Apples, eggs, and nuts you may eat though dressed by sluts’. Among Tilley’s citations, a definition from the Roxburghe Ballads, ii. 186 (1656) gives the clearest sense of the meaning that Bess is a slovenly woman: ‘My wife is such a beastly slut, | Unlesse it be an egge or a nut, | I in the house dare nothing eat.’

‘How often would I have gathered … ye would not!’: Matthew 23: 37.

print of the nails on his dear hands and feet: John 20: 25.


great agony in the garden … like blood to the ground: Luke 22: 44.

‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’: Luke 23: 34.

great darkness: Matthew 27: 45; also Mark 15: 33; Luke 23: 44.

cup of bitterness: an allusion to Jesus’ prayer the night before his Crucifixion. Matthew 26: 39; Mark 14: 36; Luke 22: 42.

p. 503‘My God, my God! … why hast thou forsaken me?’: Matthew 27: 46. Cf. also Psalm 22: 1.

risen from the dead … right hand of God: Romans 8: 34.

‘Come to me that you may have life’: combines Matthew 11: 28 and John 10: 10; the image is also found in John 5: 40.

‘Depart from me into everlasting fire!’: Matthew 25: 41.


one day when she put her new cap on … crowned with thorns: the story of ‘the face with the crown of thorns seen in the glass’ was related to George Eliot by her aunt, Elizabeth Tomlinson Evans, the model for Dinah Morris. It was among the ‘one or two accounts of supposed miracles in which [her aunt] believed’ (Letters, iii. 175–6).

nothing could part us from God who loves us: Romans 8: 38–9.


‘Its streams … Enough for evermore’: Cunningham notes that ‘Dinah reinforces her sermon’s optimistic proclamation of the Arminian gospel with a verse from Charles Wesley (“Enough for all, enough for each”).’ His annotation cites ‘Stanza 4 of No. 241, in A Collection of Hymns (2nd edn., 1781), from the section “For Believers Rejoicing”’ (Cunningham, 165 and n. 3).


opened the Bible for direction: the practice of opening the Bible to discover the will of God when one is faced with a decision dates back as far as St Augustine. Here it is part of Dinah’s characterization as a devout Methodist.

‘And after we had seen the vision … go into Macedonia’: Acts 16: 10.

drawn out in prayer for her of late: aware of Hetty’s vanity, Dinah is inspired to pray for her at length. In Chapter XV, Dinah again opens the Bible for direction, but her attempt to engage Hetty in conversation about the inevitability of suffering only produces fright and hysterical tears.

‘And Jacob served seven years … love he had to her’: Genesis 29: 20.

‘She that’s married … please her husband’: 1 Corinthians 7: 34.


‘I will that the younger women marry … speak reproachfully’: 1 Timothy 5: 14.

‘two are better than one’: Ecclesiastes 4: 9.

serve the same Master: Matthew 6: 24.

‘as God has distributed … so let him walk’: 1 Corinthians 7: 17.

rejoice with them … weep with those that weep: Romans 12: 15.

my rising up till my lying down: images from Psalm 139: 2–3; Lamentations 3: 63.


endure as seeing Him who is invisible: Hebrews 11: 27.

passing the love of women: 2 Samuel 1: 26.

‘In darkest shades … she my rising sun’: Seth quotes stanza 2 of the religious hymn, ‘My God, the spring of all my joys’, by Isaac Watts (Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707), but in doing so he changes the masculine pronouns referring to God to feminine pronouns referring to Dinah. p. 504In taking these liberties with a religious text, the Methodist Seth performs the same kind of secularizing transformation of a hymn that his Church of England brother, Adam, does with Bishop Ken’s hymn in Chapter I.

land of Goshen: that part of Egypt to which the Israelites were directed in Genesis 46.


sensibility to the three concords: a reference to the concept of concord in grammar, following upon the narrator’s comment that ‘it is impossible for me to represent their diction as correct, or their instruction as liberal’. Although there are four ‘concords’ (case, number, gender, and person), George Eliot may have forgotten ‘person’ as it relates to substantives (nouns), an excusable error given that the famous English Grammar of Lindley Murray, used extensively in the nineteenth century, originally listed only three concords, inflections of substantives having been much reduced by this time. The 1795 edition of English Grammar, Adapted to the Different Classes of Learners states simply ‘To substantives belong gender, number, and case’. When he revised the work early in the nineteenth century in response to objections from classics scholars in particular, Murray added after ‘case’: ‘and they are all of the third person when spoken of, and of the second when spoken to: as, “Blessings attend us on every side; be grateful, children of men!” that is, ye children of men’ (English Grammar, Adapted to the Different Classes of Learners (44th edn., 1830), 47).

accustomed as we may be to weep … still more fiery passions: George Eliot’s essay ‘Silly Novels by Lady Novelists’, published in the Westminster Review in October 1856, argues for realism in fiction and castigates fashionable novels in which ‘ladies in full skirts … conduct themselves not unlike the heroines of sanguinary melodramas’ and ‘sons are often sulky or fiery’ (Byatt and Warren, 151–2).


Thee’t allays stay till the last child’s born: although Mrs Poyser is the usual originator of folk proverbs, Lisbeth Bede may have produced an original proverb here.

chapellin’: Lisbeth’s denigratory term for Methodist houses of worship, which, like those of other Dissenters, were called chapels. Church of England parish and diocesan services were held in churches, although ‘chapel’ was used for other sites, as in, for example, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.


workhus: dialect form of workhouse, where the destitute poor were sheltered and fed.


house-place: along with the kitchen, the common living space in the Bedes’ cottage.

Solomon was as wise … a very rainy day: Proverbs 27: 15.


paying his savings … going for a soldier: Adam has paid for a substitute to serve in the militia during the Napoleonic Wars, when the army was p. 505deployed abroad and other men were needed for home duty, particularly during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, just before Adam Bede opens. In Chapter XX, the payment for Seth’s substitute is alluded to again as having constituted a ‘terrible sweep’ of Adam’s savings.


God distributes talents: Seth’s reference to Matthew 25: 14–30 focuses on Adam’s superior abilities. Earlier references to Adam’s supporting his family monetarily also suggest the word’s Greek etymology as a unit of money.

Take no thought for the morrow: Matthew 6: 31, 34.

‘God helps them as helps theirsens’: the man that Seth calls the ‘knowing’ but ‘over-worldly’ author is Ben Franklin, whose witty, wise, and sometimes worldly sayings differ from the speech of the earnest Seth. In Chapter XIX, the narrator lists Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack as one of the books that Adam has read. The aphorism referred to is one of those for June 1736.


workers together with God: 2 Corinthians 6. 1.

flick: flitch, or side, of bacon.

pilgrimage: life’s journey as a pilgrimage, a major motif in the literature and religious practices of the Middle Ages, most famously Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This motif is the allegorical basis for Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), listed in Chapter XIX as one of the books Adam has read. The image also appears in Exodus 6: 4.


diorama: a mode of scenic representation in which a picture, some portions of which are translucent, is viewed through an aperture, the sides of which are continued towards the picture; the light, which is thrown upon the picture from the roof, may be diminished or increased at pleasure, so as to represent the change from sunshine to cloudy weather, etc. The reference would be understood by George Eliot’s readers, but was not accessible to her characters, even had they been able to travel. L. J. M. Daguerre and Charles M. Bouton opened the first diorama in London in Regent’s Park in autumn 1823.


“mensuration book”: a book on the geometrical measurement of length, area, and volume. Adam would have studied mensuration at Bartle Massey’s night school.

poor balance … cast up at the last: a reference to the Last Judgement, when Adam’s sins, including any flight from responsibility or harshness towards his mother, will be measured (‘cast up’) against his good deeds. The mathematical image is especially appropriate for Adam.

‘They that are strong … themselves’: Romans 15: 1.

sore cross: Jesus exhorted his followers to ‘take up his cross, and follow me’, Matthew 16: 24. Adam acknowledges the Christian belief that each individual has a ‘cross’ to bear and must bear it willingly, as Jesus did.


p. 506yet he believed in dreams and prognostics … hold of the sympathy that comprehends them: in the manuscript and first three editions this passage read, ‘yet he believed in dreams and prognostics, and you see he shuddered at the idea of the stroke with the willow wand’. The alteration was almost certainly prompted by John Chapman’s observation in a mostly laudatory notice that included the following: ‘The introduction of the supernatural incident on the night when Thias Bede was drowned is, in our opinion, a disfigurement’ (Westminster Review (April 1859), 510). On 29 April in response to a letter from John Blackwood about a new two-volume edition of Adam Bede, George Eliot wrote

There is one alteration or rather one addition—merely of a sentence—that I wish to make in the 12s/. edition of ‘Adam Bede.’ It is a sentence in the chapter where Adam is making the coffin at night, and hears the willow wand. Some readers seem not to have understood what I meant, namely—that it was in Adam’s peasant blood and nurture to believe in this, and that he narrated it with awed belief to his dying day. That is not a fancy of my own brain, but a matter of observation, and is in my mind an important feature in Adam’s character. (Letters, iii. 60.)

George Eliot’s suggestion clarifies the relationship of this passage to her theory of realism. The willow wand incident represents not the novelist’s endorsement of a supernatural incident but Adam’s complexity as a character. In keeping with his peasant roots, he believes in folk superstitions, and in keeping with his trade as carpenter and builder, he is a practical, forward-looking man with a head for mathematics.


perpendicular’s true: at a 90-degree angle to the ground.

Eden-like: this passage connects the landscape of this beautiful June morning with the garden of Eden before Adam and Eve’s Fall, but the coffin that Seth and Adam carry is a reminder of death, a consequence of the Fall, and sin and death will obtrude forcefully into their world when they find their father’s body in the Willow Brook on their return home.


sixpennorth … hap’orth: sixpence worth; halfpence worth.


pluralist: see notes to pp. 14 and 62.


mullioned oriel window: a recessed window projecting outward from the wall, with vertical bars, or mullions, between the panes. That the ‘walls are new’ suggests that the parsonage is either a new structure in the Gothic style or an older building in another style that has undergone substantial renovation in the late eighteenth-century Gothic revival that George Eliot depicts in ‘Mr Gilfil’s Love Story’, the second novella in Scenes of Clerical Life, where Gothic renovations to Cheverel Manor are closely modelled on those of Sir Roger Newdigate at Arbury Hall in the second half of the eighteenth century.

waiter: the OED defines this term as a ‘salver, a small tray’. Its description as ‘massive’ and the reference to the coat of arms reinforce the idea that Mr Irwine and his mother, sitting in this threadbare room, have ‘inherited p. 507more blood than wealth’. The coat of arms signals the family’s lineage, or ‘blood’.

Ceres: Roman goddess of agriculture.

right divine: the outdated belief in the Divine Right of Kings, which assumes that that they rule by God’s will and therefore cannot be deposed by human agency.

Dauphin: Mrs Irwine’s habit of calling her son by the title of the heir to the French throne not long after the guillotining of the King and Queen of France is in keeping with her ‘queenly’ nature emphasized later in this chapter, where she is referred to as ‘an Olympian goddess’, and in Chapter XXV, where the narrator calls her ‘the royal old lady’ (p. 246). As in the reference above to ‘the Divine Right of Kings’, the narrator’s irony signals Mrs Irwine’s psychological and philosophical distance from the working-class characters and the realism of the novel.

holy water: a reference to the belief that holy water (i.e. water that has been blessed by a priest) will drive out the devil.


Juno: Mr Irwine has named his dog after the Roman goddess (Greek: Hera), the wife of Jupiter. This is one of many details in the novel that attest to Mr Irwine’s taste for the classical.


Miss Irwine: Joshua Rann employs a usage customary at the time the novel is set, in which deference is paid to family hierarchy in the female line by referring to the eldest daughter without her given name. In contrast, younger daughters are identified by their given names before their surnames, e.g. Miss Anne Irwine, or, casually, just ‘Miss Anne’.

come St Thomas: among the possible saints named Thomas, this is probably a reference to St Thomas the Apostle, whose feast day, 3 July, is only two weeks away. St Thomas the Apostle was absent from the upper room when Christ appeared to his disciples after his resurrection and became known as Doubting Thomas because he wanted proof of the Resurrection. Joshua Rann is infected with another kind of doubt, expressed in his desire to punish the Methodist converts in the village rather than regarding them as fellow believers in Christ as Mr Irwine does.

church lead: lead strips were used to cover church roofs and frame stained glass windows. Reports of thefts of lead from churches continue in newspaper reports into the twenty-first century.


blind Pharisee: Pharisees were members of a strict Jewish sect whose pride is criticized in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18: 9–14). The image of the ‘blind [Pharisee] leading the blind’ is found in Matthew 15: 12–14.

‘dumb dog’: Isaiah 56: 10.

‘idle shepherd’: following immediately the reference to ‘dumb dog’, Isaiah 56: 11 refers to ‘greedy dogs’ and ‘shepherds that cannot understand’. Will Maskery’s exact phrase is found in Zechariah 11: 17.

p. 508serious: earnest. Dinah’s earnestness highlights the contrast between Methodists’ zeal in saving souls and Mr Irwine’s advice to Joshua Rann that ‘We must “live and let live,”… in religion as well as in other things’. As his conversation with Arthur a few paragraphs later shows, Mr Irwine recognizes both the inhumanity and counter-productivity in persecuting Will Maskery, on whose behaviour Methodism has had a good influence.


coxy: cocky.

crackling’ … pot: Ecclesiastes 7: 6: ‘For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.’ Like ‘dumb dog’ and ‘idle shepherd’, this passage is another example of what Joshua Rann finds objectionable in Will Maskery. Mr Irwine, both tolerant and self-aware, declines to punish the Methodist wheelwright (from his perspective, Methodism has served well in changing Maskery from a drunken wife-beater into a responsible husband and worker), and later in the chapter he admits the justice of the ‘aspersions’.


captain in the Loamshire Militia … in his Majesty’s regulars: as an officer on the home front, Arthur finds an occupation while in waiting for his hereditary role as squire when his 83-year-old grandfather dies. The reference to his Majesty’s regulars reminds readers that as heir he is unlikely to serve in the army fighting Napoleon, a position more likely to be occupied by second or third sons.

crowner: dialect form of coroner, originally an officer of the Crown, later a local official who examines the circumstances surrounding violent or accidental death.


grand-vizier … in an Eastern story: these Orientalist references in one so little given to scholarship as Arthur Donnithorne mark the extent to which English and French military, commercial, and archeological activities in Egypt and the Middle East had entered the popular imagination during the second half of the eighteenth century.

St Catherine: St Catherine of Alexandria was ‘beautiful, learned, and with oratorical skill, who steadfastly refused to marry, recognizing Christ alone as her spouse’ (Notebook, 91).


their magazine: since the publication of the Arminian Magazine in 1778, the Methodists used print resources to reach the literate alongside their preaching to poor and often illiterate people, like those depicted in Adam Bede. The Arminian Magazine became the Methodist Magazine in 1798, and Mr Irwine’s preference for classical literature has not prevented him from being informed about the content of these periodicals.


Olympian goddess: this allusion to Mount Olympus, the home of Greek gods and goddesses, is another sign of Mrs Irwine’s aloofness from the world of ordinary suffering mortals, including her own daughters.

‘Lyrical Ballads’: published anonymously in 1798 by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In keeping with his tendency not to see the farmers and labourers in Hayslope—and particularly the dairymaid Hetty—as they are, Arthur calls Wordsworth’s poems ‘twaddle’ and is p. 509drawn instead to Coleridge’s fabulous tale of the Ancient Mariner. But he seems not to have absorbed that poem’s moral regarding human responsibility toward all creatures.


Antinomianism and Evangelicalism: Antinomianism is a belief system that rejected Mosaic moral law, including the Ten Commandments, believing that faith alone is necessary for salvation. Evangelicalism refers to the eighteenth-century movement that called for increased moral seriousness in clergy and laity. It began outside the Church of England but became a force for reform in the Established Church in the nineteenth century. Cunningham notes that ‘Arthur’s unconcern about the theological debate is ironic: his antinomianism had all too obviously evil results; he lacked, and fatally, Dinah’s “inward holiness”’ (Cunningham, 149). George Eliot as a young woman was a fervently Evangelical member of the Church of England.


King’s health: since 1788 George III had suffered attacks of what was perceived as insanity. The cause of his condition has recently been thought to be porphyria, a metabolic disease. After several months, he recovered and did not experience a repetition of the problem until 1801, so perhaps his subjects were simply concerned about the health of an ageing monarch.

news from Egypt: after the battle of the Nile in August 1798, in which the British navy under Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the French, Bonaparte invaded Syria, but was forced to return to Egypt in May 1799 after the failure of his two-month siege of Acre, in the defence of which the British navy played a leading role. The Gentleman’s Magazine, in which George Eliot did research for details in Adam Bede, published its first report of the siege of Acre in July 1799, quoting a letter from Captain Sir William Sidney Smith, dated ‘March 23, Tigre off St. John d’Acre’, in which Smith notes that having had intelligence of ‘the incursion of Gen. Buonaparte’s army into [the] province [of Syria], and his approach to its capital Acre’, he ‘hastened with a portion of the naval force under orders to its relief’ and arrived two days before the French general (69 (July 1799), 612).


Mr Roe, the “travelling preacher”: a temporary, local preacher who, like the Methodist wheelwright Will Maskery, uses the Bible to attack Mr Irwine.

lusts of the flesh and the pride of life: 1 John 2: 16.

what shall we eat … wherewithal shall we be clothed?: Matthew 6: 31. For another use of Matthew 6: 31 and 34, cf. the dialogue between Seth and Lisbeth Bede in Chapter IV, p. 42.

trafficking in the souls of men … look on the faces of the people more than once a year: the opposition of clerical duty and money payment suggests the story of Christ’s expelling the moneychangers from the temple (Matthew 21: 12; Mark 11: 15). The complaint that Church of England clergy held more than one living and did not serve their parishioners p. 510adequately was the subject of increasing public discussion in the late eighteenth century. By 1838, during the debate that led to an Act of Parliament that year in which the number of benefices that could be held simultaneously was limited to two, a pamphlet by an anonymous ‘Clergyman’, titled Pluralism and Non-Residence Unnecessary, Injurious, and Indefensible; and Their Entire Prohibition Practical and Indispensible to the Security, Extension, and Efficiency of the National Church; with Statistical Tables Founded on Public Documents, reminded readers of the long debate on these issues, pointed to the continued existence of abuses, and argued that pluralism, which resulted in the Church of England’s failure to provide adequate religious instruction to a growing population, promoted the growth of Dissent (London: James Nisbet and Company, 1838).

honourable members … “tribe of canting Methodists”: Members of Parliament who have no sympathy for Methodists (or probably any dissenters) and by implication, regard them as ‘canting’, or whining, hypocrites. The term cant is especially derogatory, given its use to refer to the jargon of thieves and professional beggars.


awakening manner: a style of preaching that relies on arousing the emotions to ‘awaken’ the hearer to the religious message. Dinah’s sermon in Chapter II awakens Bess Cranage to awareness of her vanity. The effect is depicted as temporary in Adam Bede, but without any hint of ridicule of Evangelicals, as can be found in some Victorian novels. Thackeray, for instance, plays on the word awaken to satirize Evangelicals’ practice of distributing tracts: in one instance the aptly named Mrs Kirk gives Amelia Osborne ‘three penny books with pictures … which, bent upon awakening her before she slept, Mrs. Kirk begged Amelia to read that night ere she went to bed’ (Vanity Fair, ch. xxvii).

Sophocles or Theocritus: Sophocles, fifth-century Athenian playwright, and Theocritus, pastoral poet from Syracuse in the early third century bce, are examples of Mr Irwine’s love for the classics.

Isaiah or Amos: Old Testament writers.

declined to give his body to be burned … charity which has sometimes been lacking to very illustrious virtue: 1 Corinthians 13: 3.


coping: the uppermost course of masonry or brickwork in a wall, usually made in a sloping form to throw off rain (OED).


liveried lackey: a servant in uniform, a detail that identifies the Hall Farm as having been the estate owner’s house at an earlier time.

chancery suit: inheritance cases were tried in the Court of Chancery. George Eliot’s readers would have been familiar with the most famous fictional case, Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, published in monthly instalments from March 1852 to September 1853.

gorse-built hovel: an open shed to shelter cattle, covered with the prickly shrub gorse, also called furze.

p. 511rusty dogs: supports for fireplace logs, made of brass or iron, probably the latter given that they are rusty.

pillion: a type of saddle, especially a light saddle used by women. Also a pad or cushion attached behind a saddle, on which a second person may ride, or to which luggage may be fastened (OED).

watering-place: a fashionable resort for sea-bathing or drinking and/or bathing in the waters of a mineral spring.


eight-day clock: a clock that goes for eight days without rewinding.

whittaws: a periodic gathering of farmhands to work on the harnesses and other leather artefacts with Mr Goby, the saddler; from whittawer, or saddler, specifically one who taws (i.e. dresses) white or light-coloured leather to preserve its pliability.


deal: made of planks or boards of pine or fir-wood. In the timber trade, in Great Britain, a deal is understood to be 9 inches wide, not more than 3 inches thick, and at least 6 feet long (OED).

hobs: in a fireplace, the part of the casing having a surface level with the top of the grate. In its simplest form it appears to have been a boss or mass of clay behind the fire, the ‘back of the chimney’ or ‘grate’; afterwards, the brick or stone back and sides of a grate (OED).

shone like jasper: name for a precious stone, either chalcedony or quartz, with the reflective qualities sought by the fastidious housewife Mrs Poyser or by Hetty in lieu of a mirror.

Martha and Mary: Luke 10: 38–42. The ever-busy Mrs Poyser is the image of Martha, who is ‘cumbered about much serving’ and is ‘careful and troubled about many things’. Dinah is like Mary, who ‘hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her’. Although she works hard, Dinah is not ‘cumbered’ and ‘careful’. Like Seth, she has little money saved; in Chapter XXX, she has been unable to collect Seth’s letter, because she cannot pay the postage, having used all her spare money to help the needy.


barrel-organ: a musical instrument of the organ type, the keys of which are mechanically acted on by a revolving barrel or cylinder studded with metal pins (OED).

gallowsness: see note to p. 19.

Michaelmas: see note to p. 89.

stattits: dialectal abbreviation of ‘statute-sessions, a fair or gathering held annually in certain towns and villages for the hiring of servants’ (OED).

without a bit o’ character: without references that attest to Molly’s character. Mrs Poyser’s comment that she ‘knew no more o’ what belongs to work’ suggests that she had not previously been a servant.

mawkin: a form of malkin, referring to ‘a lower-class, untidy, or sluttish woman, esp. a servant or country girl’ (OED). Here the application is to a scarecrow in the field, but the idea of a ‘sluttish woman’ is implicit in Mrs Poyser’s attack on Molly for wanting to ‘sit with half-a-dozen men’.

p. 512Dantean picture: Mrs Poyser’s picture, which is limited to the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy, ‘The Inferno’, is typical of her tendency to dire admonition. She uses another gloomy Dantean picture effectively in silencing the laughter at her expense in Chapter XX, when she breaks a jug herself after scolding the servant girl, Molly, for the same offence.


dairy thralls: a ‘stand or frame for barrels, milk-pans’ (OED). In John Chapman’s review of Adam Bede, this is described as ‘a sort of table, sometimes of wood, sometimes of brick’ (Westminster Review (April 1859), 488).

jack: a machine that is wound up to turn the spit and keep meat roasting evenly over the fire.

wheel: spinning wheel; ironically, it seems to be the same wheel that prompted Mrs Poyser’s lecture.

pum-take: a plum-cake (made of dried plums, i.e., prunes).


like the birds o’ th’ air: a reference to the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6: 26.

Catechism and the Prayer-book: Mrs Poyser rests her faith on the Catechism and Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, in contrast to Dinah’s reliance on the Bible.


lot is cast: Proverbs 16: 33. Dinah accepts the responsibilities of her lot, the place where God has assigned her to work, in contrast to Arthur, who relies on Providence to help him out when he acts against the responsibilities of his assigned place in life.

turned out of his farm: forced to leave if his lease is not renewed because Dinah’s preaching offends the gentry. Ironically, it is when Mrs Poyser ‘has her say out’, speaking her mind to the old Squire in Chapter XXXII, that she and her husband have reason to fear being turned out.

assurance that no evil will happen …. I didn’t preach without direction: references to Dinah’s Methodist belief that God guides her actions and hence no harm will come.


statty: colloquial for statue.

factor: a dealer or agent.


lost thousands upo’ thousands to the Prince o’ Wales: the Prince of Wales, who ruled as George IV from 1820 to 1830, was notorious for high-stakes gambling, that bankrupted other young men at the time the novel is set and also forced the Prince to appeal to Parliament to pay his own debts.


calenture: a disease incident to sailors within the tropics, characterized by delirium in which the patient, it is said, fancies the sea to be green fields, and desires to leap into it (OED). The word is especially well chosen to describe the nostalgia for the countryside that the novel inspired in George Eliot’s urban readers. (See Introduction, pp. xiv–xv.)


fretted aisles: aisles ornamented with interlaced work, particularly a Gothic style of architecture.


p. 513blue-bag: ‘blue’ was a laundering powder. Totty picks up the blue-bag in the back-kitchen where laundering would be done. In Chapter VI, Totty produces a ‘blue stream’ when she upsets a bowl of starch that also contains blueing (pp. 69–70).


O that the good seed … it would surely flourish: a reference to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. As Dinah reads Mr Irwine’s countenance, he is not one of the ‘stony places’ but is a man too much occupied by ‘the care of this world’ (Matthew 13: 22). In Chapter XVII, however, the narrator takes pains to record Adam Bede’s opinion that Mr Irwine was more efficacious among the people of Hayslope than his more doctrinally inclined successor, Mr Ryde.


a good land, wherein they eat bread without scarceness: Deuteronomy 8: 9.

Methodist—a Wesleyan: Irwine corrects himself, showing that he knows that there are two branches of Methodism by 1799: the followers of Wesley, who were Arminians, practising an inclusive kind of Christianity, such as Eliot saw in her aunt, and the Calvinistic followers of George Whitefield. Seth describes Dinah’s inclusiveness to Adam in Chapter LI: ‘Dinah doesn’t hold wi’ them as are for keeping the Society so strict to themselves. She doesn’t mind about making folks enter the Society, so as they’re fit t’ enter the kingdom o’ God’ (p. 452). See note to p. 165.

Mrs Fletcher … she was Miss Bosanquet: Mary Bosanquet Fletcher (1739–1815). Cunningham notes that George Eliot had read ‘Henry Moore’s Life of Mrs. Mary [Bosanquet] Fletcher’, having borrowed it in March 1839 from her aunt. He suggests that ‘Dinah’s channel image’ in this same paragraph ‘perhaps relates to Mrs. Fletcher’s seeing herself as a “pipe” through which God’s blessing flows’ (Cunningham, 158).

evil-doers among us … deceive the brethren: Matthew 24: 24.

some there are who deceive their own selves: James 1: 22.


watch for each other’s souls as they that must give account: Hebrews 13: 17.

every one his own way: Isaiah 53: 6.

‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’: Genesis 4: 9.

heart enlarged: Psalm 25: 17.

sheep without a shepherd: image in both Old and New Testaments, e.g. Numbers 27: 17; Matthew 9: 36.

heavens stretched out like a tent: Isaiah 40: 22.

everlasting arms: Deuteronomy 33: 27.


watching and praying: Matthew 26: 41.

Word of Life: 1 John 1: 1.

men’s eyes are fixed: although Dinah tells Mr Irwine that men see not a woman but the presence of God through her, the men of Hayslope come out to hear her in Chapter II because they want to see the woman preacher, a detail emphasized by Wiry Ben’s irreverent comment in Chapter I, on Seth’s courtship of the young woman preacher: ‘What come p. 514ye out for to see? A prophetess? Yea … [and] a uncommon pretty young woman’, p. 8). In her autobiography, Mrs Fletcher ‘acknowledged that, preaching in the ball-room of a Harrogate inn, she might appear “a bad woman, or a stage player” and be treated “rudely”. However conscious she was of the power of God, Mrs Fletcher knew she looked “ridiculous” preaching on a horse-block in the street of Huddersfield. But, like [George] Whitefield and [John] Wesley in beginning field-preaching, she gladly submitted to be “more vile”’ (Cunningham, 159). See also note to p. 81, on Mrs Fletcher.

the burning bush: Exodus 3: 2–4.


green pastures … still waters: Psalm 23: 2.

promise is sweeter: Psalm 119: 103.

patriarch Joseph: Genesis 37–50. George Eliot’s manuscript cancellation in Chapter VIII (‘I know both Seth & his brother Adam well’ became ‘I know Seth well & his brother Adam a little’) emphasizes the slight knowledge Dinah has of Adam at this point, in contrast to her closer association with his Methodist brother. By Chapter XXX, when she again compares Adam with the Jewish patriarch, she had expanded her acquaintance with him in their morning conversation in the Bede cottage in Chapter XI.


Pyrrhic dance: a war dance of the ancient Greeks, done in armour and imitating the actions of battle.


worldly Sadducee: a member of the Jewish elite who collaborated with the Romans in the time of Christ. Like Will Maskery, who regards Mr Irwine as a ‘dumb dog’ and an ‘idle shepherd’ (p. 54), Dinah had thought of him as one of the enemies of true professing Christians, but in this first meeting she alters her views.

bacon-sword: the rind of bacon.

sour-cake: a cake made of rye and water and rendered sour with leaven; also a cake made of oatmeal mixed with water and allowed to ferment, traditionally prepared in conjunction with a livestock fair celebrated at the feast of St Luke, 18 October.


Memnon’s statue … the rushing of the mightiest wind: one of the colossi of Memnon, ‘two seated statues of Amenophis III on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes…. One of them, damaged by earthquake, regularly emitted a sound at dawn until repaired by Septimus Severus’ (Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn.), ed. Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (1996), 955).


take: see note to p. 13.

Lady day or Michaelmas: Lady Day is 25 March, the date of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus. Michaelmas, the feast of St Michael, is 29 September. Michaelmas and Lady Day were traditional times for giving notice to labourers or tenants and for hiring farm labour.

p. 515soft: simple-minded. Mrs Poyser uses both ‘soft thing’ and ‘soft’ to express her low opinion of Chowne’s wife in Chapter XVIII (p. 171), and in Chapter LIII, Tom Saft’s name suggests his role as jester (p. 461).

geck: fool, simpleton, dupe (OED).


Olympian god: this reference to Arthur as one of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus suggests Hetty’s blindness to the realities of the working life around her, not unlike Mrs Irwine, who is called an ‘Olympian goddess’ in Chapter V. These allusions are part of the structure of references to a classical pastoral world, especially prominent in Chapters XII and XIII, and signal the distance that exists between these characters’ views and those of the hard-working inhabitants of the pastoral landscape of Loamshire.

Hebe: daughter of Juno and cupbearer to the gods who handed round the nectar at their feasts. As noted above, Arthur is compared to an ‘Olympian god’ in his effect on ‘a simple farmer’s girl’ like Hetty (p. 92).

phiz: physiognomy.


Socrates: Athenian philosopher (470–399 bce), famous for his technique of asking people questions to force them to defend their views to themselves and others.


churched: said of a woman after childbirth, when thanks are publicly offered for her safe delivery, esp. in accordance with the prescribed service in the Book of Common Prayer; the officiating clergyman is said ‘to church’ her (OED).


posset: a drink made from hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or other liquor, flavoured with sugar, herbs, spices, etc., and often drunk for medicinal purposes (now hist.); a kind of syllabub made from similar ingredients (OED).


sperrit. Ye’ve got a’most the face o’ one …. Adam’s new Bible: Lisbeth identifies Dinah with the angel who rolled back the stone from Christ’s tomb (Matthew 28: 1–3), an image that recurs in the second paragraph of Chapter XIV, when Lisbeth Bede says to Adam that she ‘could be fast sure that pictur was drawed for her i’ thy new Bible—th’ angel a-sittin’ on the big stone by the grave’, adding that she wouldn’t mind Dinah as a daughter-in-law ‘but nobody ne’er marries them as is good for aught’ (p. 127).

journeyman tramp: a daily worker, who walks, or tramps, in search of employment, hence the connection in Lisbeth’s mind with Thias Bede’s death by drowning outside his cottage door and not in his bed.


queechy: feeble, weak, small (spelled queachy in OED; citations include Adam Bede).


cade lamb: ‘cast or left by its mother, and brought up by hand, as a domestic pet’ (OED; citations include Adam Bede).

franzy: dialect form of frenzy. Lisbeth assumes from Dinah’s gentle manner that she was an easy, calm child, not troublesome for her aunt to raise.


p. 516the children of this world and the children of light: Luke 16: 8.

lief: gladly, willingly.

thack: thatch.

I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me: 2 Samuel 12: 23.


burthen and heat of the day: Matthew 20: 12.


Pharoah’s daughter … minding the infant Moses: Exodus 2: 1–10.

“When the heart of a man is oppressed with care”: Arthur misquotes the opening line of a song from The Beggar’s Opera, II. iii, which reads ‘If the heart of a man is depressed with cares’. The sensual nature of Arthur’s attraction to Hetty is suggested by the imagery of the stanza: ‘The mist is dispelled when a woman appears … Roses and lilies her cheeks disclose, | But her ripe lips are more sweet than those. | Press her, caress her with blisses, her kisses | Dissolve us in pleasure and soft repose.’

hobble: metaphorically, in the situation of a horse with its legs tied together (hobbled). This is the first occurrence of Arthur’s assumption that his deeds will have consequences only for himself.


frocks: in this context the word is not likely to refer to the skirted garment, or ‘frock’, worn by children of both sexes, but to a coat with long skirts (a frockcoat) worn by men and boys after they have adopted the manly dress of trousers, that is, a time of transition between Arthur’s filial and his fraternal relation with Mr Irwine.


“nice”: refined, considerate.


Centaurs: half-man and half-horse, the centaurs, although not always regarded negatively, were best remembered (and visualized in art) for the battle of Lapithae, where they attempted the rape of the bride and other women at the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia, establishing the basis for ‘their bad reputation in history’. Sculptures on the temple of Zeus in Olympia and on the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens depict scenes from this battle.

a deal haimabler: more amiable. Dalton seems to have come from the same region as Mr Casson (Chapters II and XXXII), who also has an un-Loamshire way of aspirating words that begin with vowels.


Zeluco: A novel by John Moore, MD, published in two volumes in 1789 under the title Zeluco. Various Views of human nature, taken from Life and Manners. The portrayal of Zeluco, a heartless seducer, is at odds with Arthur’s image of himself as he sets out to meet Hetty Sorrel.


broadest of these paths: an echo of Matthew 7: 13.

purple pathway: purple suggests royalty, here perhaps a reminder of Arthur’s status relative to Hetty. It also recalls the purple carpet with which Agamemnon was greeted when he returned from Troy in the first play of Aeschylus’ trilogy, the Oresteia, which George Eliot read while she was writing Adam Bede.


p. 517hoops and powder: underskirts, with circles, or hoops, of whalebone or steel that extended the circumference of a woman’s dress, were fashionable in the eighteenth century. By 1799, when the novel opens, this style had been replaced by the Empire dress with its high waist and slim line. The use of cosmetic powder in the hair had also passed, though Mr Irwine still wears his hair powdered and drawn back and tied with a ribbon, a feature that is part of his general ‘conservatism in costume’ (see p. 50).


leveret: a young hare.


Arcadia: a mythical place in pastoral poetry and prose from Virgil to Sidney. Remote from the ‘business’ of the real world, Arcadia is associated with love apart from conventional places and value systems.

Eros himself, sipping the lips of Psyche: Eros (Roman: Cupid), the son of Aphrodite (Venus), loved Psyche, the daughter of a king, but because of the jealousy of his mother, he could visit Psyche only in secret and could not allow her to know who her lover was.


commin print: Lisbeth’s way of distinguishing verbal texts from mathematical symbols or ‘figures’, as Adam says in the next paragraph.

turned off the wheel: an appropriate metaphor for a carpenter, whose lathe turns the wood for fine shaping. The image recurs in Chapter XVI, where Arthur is mentioned as having ‘profited so well by Adam’s lessons in carpentering and turning, as to embarrass every female in the house with gifts of superfluous thread-reels and round boxes’ (p. 148).


“Pilgrim’s Progress”: by John Bunyan (1628–88). Richard Altick, describing English reading habits between 1800 and 1900, places Pilgrim’s Progress second to the Bible among works read in England during that period (English Common Reader (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 255). He also notes that in 1743 John Wesley, as ‘a pioneer popularizer of literature, … condensed … Pilgrim’s Progress into a pocket-size booklet selling for 4d.’ (ibid. 36). Wesley’s version would, of course, not have been the edition found in the household of Mr and Mrs Poyser, whose antipathy to Methodism is strongly expressed.

folio Bible: a large Bible. A folio page was formed by folding a sheet of paper once (i.e., in half), to make two leaves, or four pages. An additional fold produced a quarto (four leaves, i.e., eight pages). Adam Bede was published in octavo size, in which three folds produce eight leaves, for a ‘signature’ (a grouping formed of one sheet, folded) of sixteen pages.


Hebrew points: diacritical marks used in Hebrew (and similarly, in other Semitic alphabets) to indicate vowels, stress, accent, etc.


cowcumber i’ the frame: a cucumber plant in a wooden frame, which would be covered with glazing to shelter the young plant from frost. As the weather warms, the sun may overheat the young plant if the glazing is not removed.

p. 518kettle-cake: homemade bread cooked in a pot or kettle. Cooking in a kettle eliminates the need for heating up an oven. That these were not found in every workman’s household is indicated by Sandy Jim’s remark in Chapter I, ‘my wife’s been a-plaguin’ on me to build her a oven this twelvemont’ (p. 9).


safe: a chest or cupboard with wire or cloth openwork to keep insects and animals away from food.

atween a crab an’ a apple: unable to tell a sour, or crab, apple, from an edible one. The crab is the wild apple tree of northern Europe, the original of the common apple (OED).


matches: piece of cord, cloth, paper, wood, etc., dipped in melted sulphur so as to be readily ignited with a flint, and used to light a candle or lamp, or to light fuel (OED).

rushlight: same as a rush-candle, a candle of feeble power made by dipping the pith of a rush in tallow or other grease (OED).


linen-press: a cupboard originally designed to hold household linens; like Hetty’s dressing-table that ‘was no dressing-table at all, but a small old chest of drawers’, the furnishings reflect the transformation of the ‘Hall’ as ‘residence of a country squire’ (p. 65) to the ‘Hall Farm,’ home to the tenant farmer and his family. Hetty’s dissatisfaction with the chest of drawers whose brass handles ‘hurt her knees’ and the old, splotchy looking-glass that mars her reflection sets her apart from the rest of the family, for whom utility is paramount.


hyacinthine: curly, like the florets of the hyacinth flower. In the plant’s nominal association with the Greek boy Hyacinth, beloved of Apollo, the classical association signals, like various references in Chapters XII and XIII, the unreality of Hetty’s dreams.


silk clocks: decorative patterns on stockings.

earth-born: the offspring of mother earth (Gaia in Greek mythology) and father heaven (Uranos) were fearful creatures. The phrase indicates Hetty’s reaction of awe and fear toward ‘the old Squire at whom [she thinks] everybody was frightened’. Her focus on externals leads her to fear the old Squire, while she is blind to the danger posed by his amiable heir.


prize the man gets … wedding breakfast: Felicia Bonaparte suggests that this passage echoes Odysseus’ address to Nausicaa in Book VI of the Odyssey.

But one man’s destiny is more than blest— He who prevails, and takes you as his bride.

Bonaparte argues that ‘Adam, unlike Odysseus who makes up a pretty speech in the hope of finding some shelter in a strange land, believes what he is saying. Adam’s blindness, sharpened by this contrast to the epic hero, is even more strikingly revealed by the sequence of the next two p. 519sentences: “How she will dote on her children! She is almost a child herself!”’ Bonaparte calls the exclamation point ‘a superb subterfuge. For Adam, and the sympathetic narrator who identifies with him, it stands for a causal conjunction. But in that fact, the analytic narrator sees the central flaw in Adam’s psychological perception…. The mirror in which Hetty is reflected in Adam’s mind is as distorted as the one in which Hetty sees herself’ (Will and Destiny, Morality and Tragedy in George Eliot’s Novels (New York: New York University Press, 1975), 184–5).

orange blossoms: fragrant white flowers traditionally carried and worn by brides.

physiognomist: one who is able to read character in a person’s face. The narrator alerts the reader to Adam’s and Arthur’s erroneous assumptions about Hetty’s character based on her beauty.

golden age: an idealized past, especially in Roman and Greek mythology, recalling the classical images of Chapters XII and XIII. This particular passage, though, suggests the idealization that Hetty’s beauty prompts, not just in Arthur Donnithorne, but in a man as (usually) practical and wise as Adam Bede.


out of hand now: not needing close supervision.


thorny thicket of sin and sorrow: although the ‘thorny thicket’ suggests the story of Abraham’s sacrifice, where the ram that serves as a sacrificial substitute for Isaac is caught in a thicket by its horns, the context links the image more closely with the Parable of the Sower, related in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark 4: 18–19 is explicit in identifying the reasons why the seed (the word of God) does not flourish: ‘And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.’ Dinah attempts to speak the Word to Hetty, but Hetty is caught up in her dreams of fine earrings and gowns and becoming a ‘lady’.


“And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him”: Acts 20: 37. See note to p. 31 regarding Dinah’s habit of opening the Bible for direction.


evil day: Ephesians 6: 13. Paul’s letter is another telling reference to the temptations against which Dinah seeks in vain to strengthen Hetty.


proletaire: the lowest class of people. One of several allusions to France, here indicating the class thought to be responsible for the violent revolutionary activities of the 1790s. In contrast to Adam, they were not ‘susceptible to the influence of rank’.


fairings: trinkets and sweets from a fair.

scagliola: plasterwork designed to imitate stone or marble (OED).


Foulis Æschylus: Robert Foulis (1707–76) was a Glasgow printer whose press produced Greek texts renowned for their excellence. He was printer to the University of Glasgow.


p. 520‘Cras ingens iterabimus æquor’: tomorrow we shall go forth again on the vast sea. Horace, Odes, 1. 7. 32.

Arthur Young: Young (1741–1820) was a noted agriculturalist whose monthly periodical Annals of Agriculture appeared from 1784 to 1809. He also wrote numerous books on agricultural reform, incorporating his own experience as a farmer. This reference demonstrates George Eliot’s careful plotting. Here she establishes Mr Irwine’s interest in practical matters of farming, anticipating the end of the novel, when he acts as manager for the Donnithorne estate. Arthur’s naming Young ‘your friend’ is probably a reference to Irwine’s reading, rather than a suggestion of personal acquaintance. Although Young travelled extensively, his properties were in the south-east, and in his tour of the north he passed to the west of the North Staffordshire–Derbyshire locale in which the novel is set. George Eliot made two entries on Young in her notebook, both from A Six Months Tour through the North of England, published in 1770 in four volumes (Notebook, 20, 29; notes on 156, 161).

tithe: the payment of one-tenth of one’s goods and income to the support of the Church of England. Mr Irwine, who receives the tithes of the parish through Arthur, jocularly insists on also receiving one-tenth of the good will Arthur will generate as landlord.


Prometheus: Mr Irwine refers Arthur to Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound. Wiesenfarth points out that ‘The chorus’s words bear directly on the story of Arthur and Hetty, though they refer explicitly to Zeus and Io.’

Wise was the man who declared, ‘like is fitly coupled with like, and let equal pair with equal.’ Not for grimy craftsman the hand of a rich man’s daughter, nor must Simple maid plight troth with purse-proud nobleman…. For me a match within my own degree, Not the glance from eyes invisible Weaving around me inescapably Magical miseries and miracles of wrong, Caught in the irresistible Cunning of Zeus Almighty.

Wiesenfarth also sees Prometheus as a figure for Adam (Wiesenfarth, 80–2).

Nemesis: goddess of vengeance, representing the righteous anger of the gods. Nemesis is a favourite image in George Eliot’s work. She used it in her essays as well as her fiction. See e.g. her review of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Dred: or A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (Pinney, 328). Nemesis is also referred to in Adam Bede, Chapter XXIX: ‘Nemesis can seldom forge a sword for herself out of our consciences—out of the suffering we feel in the suffering we may have caused’ (p. 281).


transparencies: a picture on a translucent surface, illuminated from behind. George Eliot adopted this detail from a report in the Gentleman’s p. 521Magazine for January 1799 of the Duke of Rutland’s coming-of-age festivities. She also altered slightly the place name in a reference to an unnamed ‘Rector of South Croxton’ who gave an entertainment for the Duke’s birthday; Mr Irwine is the rector of Broxton (Notebook, item 62; from Gentleman’s Magazine, 85 (January 1799), 74).


readers: the manuscript and first edition both have ‘my lady readers’. In rereading and editing the text of Adam Bede in November 1861 in preparation for a new edition, George Eliot made this and the alteration listed just below. The use of ‘lady’ was a way to conceal the real object of her address, publisher John Blackwood, who was squeamish about the realistic portrayal of some details of plot and character in both her first work of fiction, Scenes of Clerical Life, and in Adam Bede. However, by 1861 Adam Bede was an enormous popular and monetary success, and for a new, one-volume edition published in 1862, the author decided to eliminate the gendered reference. The Clarendon edition of Adam Bede (pp. cxxii–cxxiv) gives a fuller discussion of this alteration and the one described in the next note.

Certainly I could … to give a faithful account: in rereading Adam Bede for a new edition, as noted above, the author also rewrote this second paragraph in Chapter XVII. In the first to ninth editions, the passage reads:

Certainly I could, my fair critic, if I were a clever novelist, not obliged to creep servilely after nature and fact, but able to represent things as they never have been and never will be. Then, of course, my characters would be entirely of my own choosing, and I could select the most unexceptionable type of clergyman, and put my own admirable opinions into his mouth on all occasions. But you must have perceived long ago that I have no such lofty vocation, and that I aspire to give no more than a faithful account …

The alterations George Eliot made for a new edition represent a more confident narrative voice, one that does not ‘creep servilely’ but boldly asserts that his ‘strongest effort’ is to produce a realistic picture.


Dutch paintings: George Eliot was visiting the art galleries and museums in Munich in April 1858, while she was writing Chapter XVII of Adam Bede, and these visits influenced her discussion of realism and its connection with Dutch painting. Specifically, Hugh Witemeyer points out that Gerard Dou’s ‘Betende Spinnerin [The Spinner’s Grace] at Munich is clearly the model’ for the description that follows (Witemeyer, 108).

Apollo curl: the Apollo Belvedere, a Roman copy of an antique Greek statue, depicts the god with abundant curly hair. Apollo, or Phoebus Apollo, was the god of the sun.

Diana: Roman goddess of the hunt, and twin sister of Apollo (Greek: Artemis).


Madonna: ‘our Lady’, the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. Paintings of the Madonna would have been among the artworks that attracted George p. 522Eliot’s attention when she visited Munich art galleries while she was writing Book 2 of Adam Bede.

lazzaroni: ‘one of the lowest class at Naples, who lounge about the streets, living by odd jobs, or by begging’ (OED). The OED includes this passage from Adam Bede among the citations.


an Oberlin or a Tillotson: Jean Frédéric Oberlin (1740–1826), Lutheran pastor and philanthropist; John Tillotson (1630–94), archbishop of Canterbury and noted preacher.

it’s feelings: in Wordsworth and the Victorians, Stephen Gill argues that Adam’s comment is evidence of the close link between the moral philosophies of George Eliot and William Wordsworth. Adam’s speech here ‘directly parallels Wordsworth’s dismissal of systems of moral philosophy for lacking the power “to incorporate [themselves] with the blood and vital juices of our minds’’ [from Wordsworth’s Essay on Morals (1798), Prose, i. 103]’ (Gill, Wordsworth and the Victorians (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 157).


square: carpenter’s tool for determining, measuring, or setting out right angles.

like a rushing mighty wind, as the Scripture says: Acts 2: 2.


Arminians … Calvinists: followers of the tenets of Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609), Dutch theologian, Arminians emphasized the role of the individual in saving his or her own soul and believed in the efficacy of good works. Calvinists were followers of John Calvin (1509–64), French theologian, who believed in predestination. See notes to pp. 30 and 81.


Shepperton: this name appears in Scenes of Clerical Life as the fictional name for Chilvers Coton, not far from Nuneaton, which is perhaps the ‘neighbouring market-town’ to which Mr Gedge ‘transfer[s] himself’. George Eliot was baptized in the church in Chilvers Coton and went to school in Nuneaton.

’dizening: dressing up, with a suggestion that it is overdone, especially compared to Mrs Poyser’s ‘plain bonnet and shawl’.


drab: woollen cloth, dull light-brown or yellowish-brown (OED).

cornelian seal: a piece of red quartz imitating an engraved stone for sealing letters, worn as an ornament attached to the green ribbon that forms Mr Poyser’s watch-guard, thus matching the colours of Mr Poyser’s waistcoat.

top-boots: boots extending high up the calf, such as riding boots, sometimes topped with a band of different-coloured leather.

fustian: thick, twilled, cotton cloth usually dyed in dull, dark colour.

tippet: a woollen scarf-like garment worn over the neck and shoulders.


“Whissuntide”: dialect form for Whitsuntide, the season of Pentecost. Whit Sunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter, celebrates the descent of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2).

p. 523Sacrament Sundays: Sundays on which Holy Eucharist, or Communion, was celebrated in the Church of England.


soft: see note to p. 89.


rennet: an agent for curdling milk in the process of making cheese.

Scriptur … ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’: a Scriptural text found in both testaments, e.g. Leviticus 19: 18; Matthew 22: 39; Mark 12: 31.

megrims: whims.


maggots: whimsical fancies, as in Mrs Poyser’s term megrims, or, given Mr Poyser’s tone, probably a stronger meaning, i.e., strange or perverse.


taking time by the forelock: a folk proverb, ‘Take Time (Occasion) by the forelock, for she is bald behind’ (The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs (3rd edn.), rev. F. P. Wilson (1970)).


working-man must hold a candle to … as black as he was himself on weekdays: with the same jocular irreverence he exhibits in Chapter II in threatening to ‘groon’ like a Methodist (see note to p. 19), Chad Cranage, the blacksmith, compares doffing his hat deferentially to his customers to holding a candle (i.e., a situation in which a subordinate gives assistance) to the Devil, who must not be named but only signified by the line indicating the omission and by the reference to a ‘personage’ as black as Chad is on workdays.


sexton: bell-ringer, summoning those not yet seated to enter the church. Sextons were also responsible for digging graves and might undertake other general care-taking duties, such as collecting ‘Easter dues’, as Joshua Rann mentions in Chapter V.

funeral psalm: Psalm 90, of which two lines are quoted (see below, note to p. 181).

bassoon … key-bugles: instruments used in rural churches in the absence of an organ. Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) depicts the conflict that results when the fiddles, clarinets, and ‘serpents’ (8-foot-long bass wind instruments having serpentine bends) are being replaced by a mechanical organ.

evening hymn: like Bishop Ken’s morning hymn (see Chapter I), his evening hymn, ‘Glory to Thee, my God, this night’, is among the most famous Anglican hymns.


Pan: god of nature, flocks, and shepherds, who pursued one of Diana’s nymphs, Syrinx. When he neared her and threw his arms around her, he found that he grasped only a handful of reeds. His sighs sounding through the reeds produced a melody, and from the reeds he made a musical instrument called the syrinx, or, more popularly, the panpipe.


General Confession: the public confession of sin in the Anglican service. It is followed, in the next paragraph, by the Absolution, or request for forgiveness of sin, pronounced by Mr Irwine. Hetty’s focus on Arthur’s absence makes her oblivious to both.


p. 524collects: short prayers which vary according to the day.

catacombs: subterranean burial places. Popularly believed to have been used as hiding places for persecuted Christians, recent scholarship suggests that in addition to burying their dead in catacombs, early Christians, like non-Christian Romans, may have used the catacombs to hold funerary meals with the dead.


large occiput … crown: these references to the back part and the top part of the head reflect George Eliot’s interest in phrenology. See note to ‘coronal arch’, p. 6.

Thou sweep’st us off as with a flood: this ‘old psalm-tune’ is a setting of Psalm 90: 5, ‘Thou carriest them away as with a flood….’ Its ‘closer application than usual’ lies, of course, in the fact that Thias Bede died by drowning in the flooded Willow Brook.


“In the midst of life we are in death”: Mr Irwine speaks from the words of the Burial Service, which he has just performed.

“The peace of God, which passeth all understanding”: Philippians 4: 7. The phrase is part of the blessing at the close of the service for Anglicans and other religious denominations.


Nelson: see note to p. 61.


Old and New Version: two verse settings of the Psalms, the old, from the sixteenth century, by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins, and the new by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady (1696).

“Poor Richard’s Almanac” … “History of Babylon”: Adam’s reading includes works both temporal and spiritual: the Bible; Poor Richard’s Almanac, published as a series from 1732 to 1757 by American printer, inventor, and statesman Benjamin Franklin; The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (1650) and The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying (1651) by Anglican clergyman Jeremy Taylor; The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) by preacher John Bunyan and his Life and ‘Holy War’ (1682); An Universal Etymological English Dictionary by Nathan, or Nathaniel, Bailey (1721); Valentine and Orson, a story about two brothers published in French in the fifteenth century and translated and frequently reprinted in English; and a History of Babylon whose authorship is unspecified.

commin print: see note to p. 127.


dratchell: a slovenly, bedraggled woman; also a slut.

cocked: gathered in piles preparatory to being brought into the rick-yard for secure storage. See note to p. 197 below.


York an’ Lankester roses: described on p. 197 as ‘streaked pink-and-white,’ the roses blend the colours of the white rose of the house of York and the red rose of the house of Lancaster, which were united after the defeat of Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field.

whey: the thin liquid remaining after the curds are separated out in the cheese-making process.


p. 525Gueldres roses: the plant Viburnum opulus, esp. the cultivated form, bearing globular bunches of white flowers; the snowball-tree (OED).

rick-yard: the area in which stacks, i.e., ricks, of hay are built, thatched, and stored. In Chapter LIII, the narrator describes Old Kester taking a long walk to the rick-yard on Sundays, dressed in his best clothes, to admire his thatching, so that ‘you might have imagined him to be engaged in some pagan act of adoration’ (p. 462).

syringas: the mock-orange, an ornamental shrub having creamy-white strongly sweet-scented flowers; also the European lilac.

bushy filberts: hazel trees, which produce filbert nuts; also called hazel trees after the fruit.

groundsel: a common European weed.


chine: in cookery, a ‘joint’ consisting of the whole or part of the backbone of an animal, with the adjoining flesh (OED).


pineapple: Alick’s preference for broad beans is not likely to have been tested, given the cost of this luxury fruit, which had to be imported or grown in hot-houses.


wort … copper: wort, the unfermented liquid from which beer is made, is boiled in a large copper pot.

St Vitus’s Dance: popular name for Sydenham’s chorea, or rheumatic chorea. It affects the part of the brain that controls motor coordination.


murrain: any virulent infectious disease of cattle or other livestock.


“hopping”: the process whereby ripened cones of the hops plant are added to flavour the beer.

convenence: Adam’s dialectal pronunciation of convenience.


dips: inexpensive candles made by dipping the wick repeatedly in melted tallow.

slates: tablets for writing, made from pieces of sedimentary rock that split easily into thin ‘slices.’ Paper was expensive, and slates also had the advantage of being able to be wiped clean and reused.


“Brimstone”: nickname referring to the devil, from the ‘lake of fire burning with brimstone’ described in Revelation 19: 20.

knowledge that puffeth up: 1 Corinthians 8: 1.


ampus-and (&): the hyphen probably suggests Jacob Storey’s way of pronouncing ampersand. Perhaps the addition of the symbol stemmed from the same concerns about clarity that led the author to modify the dialect usage between the manuscript and first edition.


turnspits: a dog kept to turn the roasting-spit by running within a kind of tread-wheel connected with it (OED).


these dear times to eat bread: the war with Napoleon affected the importing of grain, and the resulting scarcity led to high prices for bread. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, the government introduced the p. 526Corn Laws, which kept the price of grain artificially high, a source of great discontent amongst the poor until the laws were repealed in 1846.


companions for us: Genesis 2: 18, 22–4. Adam’s new hopefulness about being able to support a wife (see p. 189) leads him to cite a scriptural endorsement of marriage, but the misogynist Bartle Massey will have none of it.


state o’ probation: Bartle refutes Adam’s scriptural argument by referring to the time of testing, i.e., life on earth, which, for the virtuous, will be followed by life in heaven, where Bartle hopes to be rid of women for good.

superficial square foot: a rectangular space measuring a foot on each side, drawn on a flat surface, in contrast to a ‘solid’, i.e. a geometrical shape with three dimensions.


friggling: fussy; busy work.

Jacob and Rachel: see note to p. 31.

gimcrack: a knick-knack; something showy, without substance.


’cute: mentally acute, clever.


striking a light furiously: the manuscript and early editions read ‘by striking a light furiously against the hob’. When she corrected a copy of the eighth edition of Adam Bede in 1861 in preparation for a new edition, George Eliot eliminated the phrase ‘against the hob’, most likely in response to a comment by The Times reviewer, E. S. Dallas, who noted that the novel is dated at ‘the end of the last century, but the time is not strictly observed, and we are very much surprised to be informed that Bartle Massey “lighted a match furiously on the hob,” which is far from being the only anachronism in the tale’ (David Carroll (ed.), George Eliot: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge and New York: Barnes & Noble, 1971), 80). Though Dallas misquotes the text, George Eliot must have decided his criticism was fair and deleted ‘against the hob’.


water-nixies: water sprites, nymphs. Like the images from the classical pastoral in Chapters XII and XIII, this one marks the gap between Hetty’s dreams and the actualities of her life as a tenant farmer’s niece.

rancorous poisoned garment: the image suggests Medea’s revenge on Jason’s new bride Creusa, princess of Corinth, to whom Medea sent a poisoned robe. An ominous analogy given Hetty’s ‘web of folly and vain hopes’.


Old Harry: the devil, which was the word (in dialect form: divil) originally used and then cancelled in manuscript. The author represents Mrs Poyser observing the folk superstition against naming the devil by substituting the euphemism Old Harry.


Benefit Club: an organization in which working people contributed a monthly sum as a kind of insurance which could be drawn upon in sickness or old age.

p. 527“Let brotherly love continue”: Hebrews 13: 1. This motto emphasizes the principle of mutual assistance that was central to the benefit club movement. Though it may seem at odds with Adam’s favourite saying, ‘God helps them that help themselves’ (see note to p. 42), the spirit is similar. Poor people depend on themselves and others of their class rather than on patriarchal institutions.

Scotch raybels: during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the rebels under Bonnie Prince Charlie reached ‘Stoniton’, i.e. Derby, in December that year, when they turned back after failing to receive the support of English Jacobites.


General Monk: General George Monck (1608–70), one of Oliver Cromwell’s supporters during the Civil War. He became first Duke of Albemarle after switching his support to Charles II following Cromwell’s death.

Daniel … among the lions: Daniel 6: 16–23.

Julius Cæsar … Commentaries: Caesar’s narratives of the Gallic Wars (58–50 bce) and the Civil War (50–47 bce).


ἀπέρωος ἔρως: unloving love, from Aeschylus’ Choephoroe l. 576. George Eliot recorded the Greek phrase in her notebook (Notebook, 20 and 155 n. 13). Wiesenfarth notes that the Greek phrase not only describes ‘Squire Donnithorne’s relation to his grandson Arthur, but it also accurately describes Arthur’s relation to Hetty’ (ibid. 80 n. 6).


‘Over the hills and far away’: traditional folksong, c. 1620.


da capo: Italian musical notation meaning ‘from the head,’ i.e., a passage to be repeated from the beginning.


Benefit Club … jigs, reels, and hornpipes: the social function of Benefit Clubs, sometimes known as ‘friendly societies’, is manifested here.


sunk fence: a sunk fence (or sometimes a trench), called a ha-ha, was a feature of eighteenth-century landscaping that permitted an apparently unbroken view into the distance. The rougher games, including those involving donkeys, are thus kept away from the lawn, where the gentry are assembled.


man who stands in a well, and sees nothing but the stars: the belief dates back ‘as far as the time of Aristotle,’ that ‘seen from the inside of deep wells, mine shafts, and wide chimneys, the air seems darker than we usually see it, and it should even be possible to observe some of the brighter stars. This phenomenon has since been mentioned by a number of writers, who relied, however, mostly on their memories or on the stories of others.

    ‘There is not a single place where this phenomenon has been observed—it is a myth. The whole effect could only consist in the eye being less dazzled by light entering from its surroundings. This, however, makes little difference, seeing that the field of light seen directly by us remains illuminated and is the deciding factor’ (M. G. J. Minnaert, Light and Color in the Outdoors, trans. and rev. Len Seymour (New York: p. 528Springer-Verlag, 1993), 126). I am indebted to my colleague Physics Professor Emeritus John Allen for directing me to Minnaert’s commentary on this belief.


‘airs from heaven’: Hamlet, I. iv. 41. A rather curious analogy on Mr Irwine’s part, given that the phrase comes from Hamlet’s question to his father’s ghost about whether he is a spirit from heaven or hell. Mr Irwine here and elsewhere clearly regards Dinah as a force for spiritual good.

sublime: an ironic suggestion that the perspiring, red-faced Bessy will be raised (sublimed) to the skies as a planet.

hoydenish gaiety: exuberant, boisterous.

grogram: a coarse fabric of silk, of mohair and wool, or of all three, often stiffened with gum, hence very unpleasant to carry on a hot July day.


yearly Wake: an annual village festival held on the feast-day of the patron saint of the parish church, an occasion for music, dancing, games, and other forms of merriment.


“White Cockade”: a Jacobite folk song.

“Bird Waltz”: A popular piece of music written by Francis Panormo (1765–1844), which went through more than forty editions by the time Adam Bede was published. The earliest date to which I have been able to trace this work, in an arrangement for pianoforte or harp, is 1818 when a third edition was published. Although the allusion at first may seem to be one of the anachronisms to which The Times reviewer referred, the voice is that of the narrator speaking to the reader, continuing the discussion of realism in fiction. In it one can detect the voice of George Eliot, the critic for various periodicals in the early and mid-1850s. In her review of Wilhelm Heinrich von Riehl’s ‘The Natural History of German Life’, published in the Westminster Review, 66 (July 1856), 51–79, she seems to exempt music from the requirements of realism: ‘Opera peasants … are surely too frank an idealization to be misleading; and since popular chorus is one of the most effective elements of the opera, we can hardly object to lyric rustics in elegant laced boddices and picturesque motley, unless we are prepared to advocate a chorus of colliers in their pit costume, or a ballet of char-women and stocking-weavers’ (Pinney, 270). In Adam Bede, the narrator contrasts ‘ballet rustics’ whom readers might have seen on stage with Wiry Ben who dances like a true rustic, reinforcing the point by noting the difference between a popular drawing-room song called ‘The Bird Waltz’ and the music of birds in nature.


conscience would not let him join in dancing: Methodists disapproved of such worldly pastimes. There is another reason that makes dancing unseemly: as Lisbeth points out to Adam, their father is ‘not a five week in’s grave’. Adam determines not to dance but only to watch; however, the Poysers easily convince him to change his mind.


fight me like a man: in her journal George Eliot explains that the fight ‘came to me as a necessity one night at the Munich Opera when I was listening to p. 529William Tell’ (30 May 1858; Journals, 298, 318). At this point she was well into writing volume two. The fight, however, is prefigured in Chapter XVI (see p. 151), which was already in John Blackwood’s hands.


neckerchief: a covering for the breast, neck, and shoulders. That it has been left in the Hermitage was a clear sign to George Eliot’s readers of the extent of Arthur and Hetty’s intimacy, hence Arthur’s eager search to ensure that no sign is visible when Adam returns. A neckerchief was also called a neck-handkerchief. A form of the latter is used at the end of Chapter XLVIII, when Arthur takes ‘the little pink silk handkerchief’ (p. 422) out of the waste basket.


Nemesis: see note to p. 156.


Our deeds determine us … our deeds: the balanced clauses represent not an endorsement of a simplistic necessitarianism, but a recognition of the influence an individual’s prior habits and actions (‘our deeds’) have on future choices. After Arthur meets Hetty for the first time, he convinces himself that he has to see her again to wipe out any false impression. The narrator makes clear, however, that it is not a question of predetermination but finding excuses (for example, ‘he had been led on by circumstances’, p. 284) for his lack of willpower.


Providence: as George Eliot uses it, the term does not signal the intervention of Divine Providence, but the contrary. Her ethical position requires that Arthur consider the consequences before doing wrong, rather than expecting Providence to avert unpleasant consequences afterward.


“cob-nut”: a description of this children’s game appears in James O. Halliwell-Phillipps’s A dictionary of archaic and provincial words, obsolete phrases, proverbs and ancient customs, from the fourteenth century (1847): a game which consists in pitching at a row of nuts piled up in heaps of four, three at the bottom and one at the top of each heap. All the nuts knocked down are the property of the pitcher. The nut used for pitching is called the cob. It is sometimes played on the top of a hat with two nuts, when one tries to break the nut of the other with his own, or with two rows of hazel nuts strung on strings through holes bored in the middle (OED).


Ganymede: a beautiful Trojan prince, who was seized by Zeus in the form of an eagle and carried to Mount Olympus, where he became the cupbearer to the gods, replacing Hebe. The image is a curious one. Except in terms of physical position on Adam’s shoulder, it is unlikely that Eliot envisioned a parallel between Totty and Ganymede, nor is Adam associated with any figures from classical myth, much less Zeus, the abductor of the youth. The description is strongly visual, and at least two visual images representing the abduction of Ganymede have survived from ancient Greece, one of the eagle with Ganymede (a copy after Leochares, in the Vatican Museum), and the other a half-size polychrome terracotta of Zeus with Ganymede under his arm, in the Olympia Museum. However, it is unlikely that Eliot knew either one.

p. 530Aristides the Just: fifth-century Athenian statesman, hero of Marathon and founder of the Delian league.


state of perfection: in A State of Christian Perfection, John Wesley explored the doctrine of perfection, the belief that it was possible to reach a state of perfection and be delivered from sin. Seth’s questioning of John Barnes is consonant with the question and answer structure of both Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection and his Further Thoughts on Christian Perfection.


writes wonderful for a woman: Seth means very legibly. Handwritng styles in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries varied according to occupation, class, and gender, and women’s handwriting was often considered difficult to read, as Dinah’s postscript acknowledges. Readability in eighteenth-century letters was further restricted by the fact that letters were often crossed; that is, when a writer had filled the page, the paper would be turned 90 degrees and the letter continued across the already written text. As well as saving paper, this reduced the cost of postage, which was based on weight.


clemmed: dialect word for famished.

pay the carriage: until the penny post was instituted in 1840, the receiver of a letter paid the postage.

windows of heaven were opened again: Genesis 7: 11.

a want of trust like the laying up of the manna: Exodus 16: 11–19.


patriarch Joseph: see note to p. 84.

day of trouble: Psalm 50: 15.

whole creation groaneth and travaileth: Romans 8: 22.

‘If any man love me, let him take up my cross’: image from Matthew 16: 24; Mark 8: 34; Luke 9: 23.

cup we must drink of with him: Matthew 20: 23.


I have all things and abound: Philippians 4: 18.

false offering on the altar … to kindle it: 1 Kings 18: 19–40.

pen of a ready writer: Psalm 45: 1.

sufficient for the day: Matthew 6: 34. Another allusion to the text ‘take no thought’, to which Lisbeth Bede objected in Chapter IV.


gentleman’s handwriting: just as a woman’s handwriting was not formed for business, likewise a gentleman did not need to write legibly, in contrast to a working man like Adam, who has learned to write clearly from Bartle Massey, as the reader can infer from Bartle’s chastisement of Jacob Storey’s handwriting in Chapter XXI. In George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Caleb Garth, who has just employed Fred Vincy, finds Fred’s hand writing unreadable despite—or because of—his university education: ‘To think that this is a country where a man’s education may cost hundreds and hundreds, and it turns you out this!’ To handle business p. 531correspondence, Fred must ‘learn to form [his] letters and keep the line’ (Book 6, chapter LVI).


earnest of her future paradise of finery: an instalment on the jewellery and fine clothes that Hetty anticipated when she entered her ‘paradise’, marriage with Arthur.


Broxton wake: the annual celebration on the festival of the patron saint, held in the nearby town of Broxton. See also note to p. 251.


mawkin: form of malkin; see note to p. 68.


Michaelmas: see note to p. 89.


betters, and fly in the face of the catechism: the Church of England Catechism instruction for every person to be confirmed by the bishop requires a promise of submission not only to God but to the young person’s superiors: ‘To submit myself to all my governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters: to order myself lowly and reverently to all my betters.’


board-wage: wages paid to servants to cover the cost of their food, often when the family is not in residence. The death of the Squire and/or Arthur’s absence would mean few or no visitors, a circumstance in which the servants would be put on ‘board-wages’.


a public: a public house; in one of the homespun proverbs that delighted readers, Mrs Poyser describes the men who frequent the Donnithorne Arms as ‘looking as wise as a lot o’ cod-fish wi’ red faces’ (p. 308).

plagues o’ Egypt … frogs and toads: Exodus 8: 2–14.


Old Harry: that Mrs Poyser tells the old Squire he has the Devil for a friend is sufficient to explain her husband’s fear that the Squire will not renew their lease. She had used the term regarding the old Squire’s unwonted friendliness in Chapter XXVI, which makes her suspect that he is ‘brewin’ some nasty turn against us. Old Harry doesna wag his tail so for nothin’’ (p. 256). His visit to the Hall Farm shows Mrs Poyser’s prescience.

tackle: a horse’s harness. The implication is that the old Squire uses the lash or whip (i.e., force) to control what he doesn’t understand.


that “Bony” was come back from Egypt: Bonaparte left Egypt on 23 August 1799, slipped through the British blockade, and reached Paris on 16 October. In November, a coup d’état overthrew the Directory and he became first consul.

repulse of the French in Italy: the French in Italy suffered heavy losses in the summer of 1799, culminating in the battle of Novi on 15 August 1799 in which the respected French general Joubert was killed.

Æsop’s fable: a reference to moral tales believed to have been written by a Greek writer of the 6th century bce.

Lady Day: see note to p. 89.


p. 532receipts: recipes.


Christian folks can’t be married like cuckoos: this has the ring of a proverb, but I have been unable to locate it in proverb dictionaries. Probably one of Mrs Poyser’s original sayings that delighted readers, it has an ironic appropriateness, given the cuckoo’s habit of laying its eggs in the nests of other birds.


Hetty had to manage … downstairs: these plot details echo those in Walter Scott’s Heart of Midlothian, where Mrs Saddletree is confined to her room by an extended illness, and her unobservant husband supervises the shop-worker Effie Deans. The illnesses of their sharp-eyed mistresses prevent the young women from being closely observed. That George Eliot was thinking of Scott’s novel as she wrote Adam Bede is apparent from a letter she wrote to John Blackwood in response to his concern that the relationship between Arthur and Hetty would lead to the ‘usual sad catastrophe!’ (Letters, ii. 446). In her reply to her Edinburgh publisher, George Eliot argued that the moral tone of the story depended on treatment and not events: ‘The Heart of Midlothian would probably have been thought highly objectionable if a skeleton of the story had been given by a writer whose reputation did not place him above question. And the same story told by a Balzacian French writer would probably have made a book that no young person could read without injury. Yet what girl of twelve was ever injured by the Heart of Midlothian? Of artistic writing it may be said pre-eminently—“to the pure writer all things are pure”’ (Letters, viii. 201).


roadside which has reminded me … the agony of the Cross: George Eliot refers to the custom in Roman Catholic countries of placing wayside images of the Crucifixion along public byways, reminders of the suffering Christ who died that people might be saved. She may have seen such an ‘image of agony’ as she travelled through Germany just before returning to London in September 1858 to write this chapter.


pillion: see note to p. 65.


poor-rates: an assessment for relief and support of the poor of the parish.


service: a place as a servant. Ironically, this is what Hetty proposed to her uncle after she received Arthur’s letter. On her journey to find him, she knows that she is in no condition to get a place.


return chaise, with a drunken postilion: a chaise was a carriage for one to three persons, and a postilion rode the leading horse in the absence of a coachman. This postilion, presumably having driven his paying passengers to their destinations, is now returning empty and can therefore give Hetty a ride at no expense.

Jehu the son of Nimshi: without paying passengers who might make a complaint, the postilion, like Jehu in 2 Kings 9: 20, ‘driveth furiously’.


knocked up: the landlord refers to her being exhausted, rather than the alternative meaning, to be made pregnant. It is the sharp-eyed landlady that observes her condition.


p. 533common flaunting dratchell: the word dratchell’s meaning as ‘slut’ is applicable here, in contrast to Chapter XX, where Lisbeth, who dislikes the idea of Adam marrying Hetty, imagines that she will be slovenly and bedraggled by the time she is 30. See note to p. 195.

ostler: a man or boy who rubs down the guests’ horses and feeds and waters them.


“The parish!”: the unit of local government that administered relief for the poor; here synonymous with the workhouse.


text: a passage from the Bible. In Chapter IV, when Lisbeth Bede refers to Adam’s passage from Ben Franklin as a ‘tex,’ Seth tells her, ‘that’s no text o’ the Bible,’ but Lisbeth recognizes the aphoristic nature of a Biblical text and insists, ‘It sounds like a tex’. See pp. 42–3.


deliver her from the evils: a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9–13). Hetty does not look to the Lord to deliver her from evil, and, in her shame and despair, can think only of suicide.


Medusa-face: Eliot had seen and admired the Medusa Rondanini in the Glypothek in Munich during the summer of 1858 while she was writing Adam Bede. She copied into her notebook a description of this work from Ludwig Stahr’s Torso, Kunst, Künstler und Kunstwerke der Alten (which she had reviewed for the Leader on 17 March 1855; Pinney, 453). Wiesenfarth notes that ‘Stahr’s lyric description … impressed itself on her mind—impressed itself so much so that in Adam Bede when Hetty, the beautiful sinner, is caught between life and death on her Journey in Despair, she appears as the Medusa Rondanini’ (Wiesenfarth, 43–4).


finger-poasses: posts set up at the intersection of roads, with finger-shaped arms pointing directions.


rarely: very well.

“Dark and cheerless is the morn… perfect day.”: the second and third stanzas of Charles Wesley’s hymn ‘Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies.’


angels in the desert … ha’ got nothing t’ eat: the barrenness of Stonyshire suggests to Adam the biblical wilderness in which Christ fasts for forty days and nights. Dinah figures as the angel who ‘ministers unto him’ (Matthew 4: 11) after he repels the temptations of the devil. In Chapter X Lisbeth Bede thinks Dinah ‘might be a sperrit’, because she’s ‘got a’most the face o’ one as is a-sittin’ on the grave i’ Adam’s new Bible’ (see p. 100 and note).


“taxed cart”: a two-wheeled open cart drawn by one horse, and used mainly for agricultural or trade purposes, on which was charged only a reduced duty, or tax. (OED citations include this passage from Adam Bede.)


spud: a digging or weeding implement with a narrow chisel-shaped blade.


Bitter Waters Spread: Exodus 15: 23. Moses is inspired by God to make the bitter waters sweet (Exodus 15: 25). In Dinah’s absence, the bitter waters threaten to engulf the Poysers and the Bedes.


p. 534Lent assizes: court sessions held periodically in each county, for administering civil and criminal justice. The February 1800 number of the Gentleman’s Magazine published a calendar of Circuits of the Judges for the Lenten assizes for the Midland district in 1800, including ‘Monday 17’ March in Derby, which Graham Handley points out is the ‘Stoniton’ of Adam Bede.

bread bitter: the bread of sorrows or affliction, an image common to the Bible, e.g. Isaiah 30: 20; Psalm 127: 2.


Sarah Williamson: a fictional name, but one that may derive from the Methodist preacher Sarah Crosby, a friend of Mary Bosanquet Fletcher. Cunningham notes that Crosby was probably ‘the first authorised woman preacher in Methodism’ and the model for the fictional Sarah Williamson (Cunningham, 158–9, citing A. W. Harrison). Sarah Williamson is probably the unnamed ‘holy woman who preaches’ in Leeds in Chapter VIII.


not for us men to apportion … guilt and retribution: a reminder to ‘Judge not lest ye be judged’ (Matthew 7: 1), also not to be the one to ‘cast the first stone’, in the parable of the woman taken in adultery (John 8: 1–11). The latter particularly points to the importance of fellow-feeling, the ethical message of the novel.


great folks for going into the prisons: George Eliot knew this from the experience of her aunt by marriage, the Methodist preacher on whom Dinah Morris is loosely modelled, Elizabeth Tomlinson Evans, who was one of the Methodists who ministered to Mary Voce in 1802. See Appendix 2, p. 488.


dull upper room: imagery in this chapter—the upper room as well as the bread and wine that Adam partakes of before he goes to Hetty’s trial that is his trial as well—suggests an identification of Adam with Christ. Wiesenfarth points out that this identification begins in Chapter XLI, where the ‘eve of the trial finds Adam a haggard and worn man, bearing within himself the sorrow of his friend’s deceit and his beloved’s wickedness…. Adam’s face—like the sad face of a Christ which George Eliot saw in Nürnberg—makes the Man of Sorrows [an image in Dinah’s letter in Chapter XXX] seem “a very close thing—not a faint hearsay”’, as Eliot wrote in her journal. He also notes the connection between Adam and the risen Christ in Chapter LI (Notebook, 89–90).


baptism of fire: a metaphoric version of the French phrase le baptéme du feu used in the nineteenth century for soldiers being ‘under fire’ for the first time. In a spiritual context the image refers to John the Baptist’s promise that ‘he [Christ] that cometh after me … shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire’ (Matthew 3: 11). Adam’s baptism of fire, which began with his father’s death, reaches its culmination as he gains ‘new awe and new pity’ for erring, suffering humanity, a central tenet in George Eliot’s humanist belief.


took up the cup, and drank: another allusion to Christ, here to his admonition to his disciples to take the cup and ‘drink ye all of it’ (Matthew 26: 27). p. 535Symbolically, Adam accepts the wine (Christ’s blood) and the bread (his body) as a sign of his willingness to share in the suffering occasioned by sin. He no longer ‘shrinks’ from seeing Hetty but accepts willingly the suffering it entails.


a great gulf: the image comes from Luke 16: 26, the parable of Dives and Lazarus. Rather than implying any specific application to this parable, George Eliot’s detailed memory of biblical passages probably led her to use it to describe Adam’s gesture and his inability to reach Hetty literally or metaphorically. When Dinah comes to Hetty in prison, Hetty hangs on to her ‘while she was sinking helpless in a dark gulf’ (p. 401). Dinah reaches her both physically and spiritually before it is too late, as it was for Dives in the parable.


lay impropriator of the Hayslope tithes: Arthur, as the layman who receives the tithes of the livings Mr Irwine holds (see note to p. 14), will find a way to increase Irwine’s income. The suggestion of the phrase ‘in a very delicate way’ is that Arthur will personally add to the amount of the tithes without Mr Irwine knowing he has done so.


forsaken of all: a reminder of Christ on the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?’ Matthew 27: 46.


in a dark gulf: see note to p. 392.


pure from sin: Proverbs 20: 9. Proverbs 20: 11 provides an answer to Adam’s view of Hetty as an innocent child in Chapter XLI: ‘she was a child as it’ ’ud ha’ gone t’ anybody’s heart to look at … I don’t care what she’s done’ (p. 379).


the cry of the forsaken: see note to p. 399.

Look upon her with thy face … on him who denied thee: Luke 22: 61.

they of old brought the sick and the helpless, and thou didst heal them: Matthew 4: 24.

darkness is as noonday: Isaiah 58: 10.

the eleventh hour: Matthew 20: 6, 9.

coming, like the morning, with healing on thy wings: Malachi 4: 2.


let the dead hear thy voice: John 5: 25; cf. Isaiah 35: 5.

let the eyes of the blind be opened: Isaiah 35: 5.

‘Father, I have sinned’: Luke 15: 18.


heavy weight hanging round my neck: Matthew 18: 6. This use of the biblical reference to the millstone is complex. By the mere fact of its existence, the infant was the millstone round Hetty’s neck. Its death at her hands, however, has not eliminated the dread of censure on the tongues of her Hayslope neighbours that led Hetty to commit the crime. Rather, the crime has made the dead infant a greater ‘millstone’ than it was living, subjecting her now not only to social death but to the ultimate doom of the state, death as a condemned murderer. Unlike Hetty, Dinah is concerned not with social death or the death of the body, but with the death p. 536of the soul. Cunningham suggests, however, that Hetty never does grasp the supernatural dimension that Dinah seeks to impress upon her. ‘She leans on Dinah as a human being, rather than on a Divine source of comfort…. Hetty repents superficially to God, but most movingly to Adam: the human connection is the most prominent’ (Cunningham, 169). The image of the weight round the neck also recalls Chapter V’s reference to Arthur’s reading of The Ancient Mariner where the mariner’s punishment for shooting the albatross was to have it hung round his neck until he learned to respect all living creatures. Arthur’s self-inflicted punishment banishes him from Hayslope for a period that coincides with Hetty’s sentence of seven years, one of the customary terms of transportation.


castaway: 1 Corinthians 9: 27. The term refers to the fear of spiritual exclusion from heaven through sin, and also evokes a poem popular with Victorian readers including George Eliot, William Cowper’s ‘The Castaway’, which was published in 1799, the year in which Adam Bede opens. Line 5, ‘Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,’ describes Hetty’s situation, both physically and spiritually, until Dinah comes to her in the prison. The final lines have a particular resonance for Hetty’s being transported.

We perished, each alone; But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelmed in deeper gulfs than he.


pray without ceasing: 1 Thessalonians 5: 17.


transported o’er the seas: transportation to Australia began in 1787; the first shipload of convicts arrived there in 1788. It continued until late in the nineteenth century, being abolished at different times in different parts of the country. See Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore (New York: Harper Collins, 1986).


Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5–7.

like taking your cloak off … slap you i’ the face: Matthew 5: 40, 39. Mrs Poyser provides her usual individualistic, not to say contradictory, gloss on Jesus’s meaning.


all things too richly to enjoy: 1 Timothy 6: 17.

enough and to spare: Luke 15: 17.


cas’alty: dialect word for infirm.


Lady Day: see note to p. 89.


rare: uncommonly, unusually.


poke: the projecting rim that conceals a view of her face from the side. William Mottram’s The True Story of George Eliot in Relation to Adam Bede (London: George Bell, 1905) includes a photograph labelled ‘One of the last worn of Elizabeth Evans’ (Dinah Morris’) bonnets.’ A wide poke projects out from the cap (p. 163). A watercolour of Mrs Evans on p. 165 shows her with a net cap like the one the narrator describes Dinah wearing when she preaches on the Green in Chapter II.


p. 537there’ll be a peace soon … last long: Arthur is surprisingly well informed. Serious peace negotiations began in September 1801 (when the activities of Chapter L take place), and on 1 October preliminaries of peace were signed. The signing of the Peace of Amiens concluded the negotiations on 25 March 1802. ‘Nobody’ was correct; the peace lasted about a year.

That meeting between the brothers … timid and distrustful: Genesis 32–3.

Moses best … died when other folks were going to reap the fruits: Deuteronomy 34: 1–5. Moses led his people through the wilderness but was not himself allowed to enter the Promised Land. Adam’s liking for this story fits his character, especially as the narrator describes him in Chapter XIX: one of those ‘peasant artisans’ who leave behind ‘some good piece of road, some building, some application of mineral produce, some improvement in farming practice, some reform of parish abuses, with which their names are associated by one or two generations after them’ (p. 193).


Wesley’s abridgment of Madame Guyon’s life: ‘John Wesley, An Extract of the Life of Madam Guion (1776): entry No. 314 in Richard Green’s Bibliography of Wesley’s works (1896), 186’ (Cunningham, 160 n. 3). Cunningham points out that ‘Wesley’s cheap reprints, [and] his encouraging Methodists to read widely, have cracked English insularity and anti-French prejudice’ (ibid.).


precepts of Solomon: Dinah’s thoughts refer to texts like Proverbs 13: 24.


Colonel Bath: in Henry Fielding’s Amelia (1751), book 3, chapter viii. Colonel Bath (actually, a major in the novel) cares for his sister during her illness and, trying to explain away his seemingly unmanly position, provokes a vigorous defence of manly tenderness in the narrator, Mr Booth.

dilettante: in an earlier meaning, not an amateur who dabbles, but one who is devoted to some particular work for the love of it.

glory: the circle of light surrounding the head of the Saviour, the Virgin Mary, or one of the saints, often represented in paintings.


“Eternal Beam of Light Divine … serve thy sovereign will”: Dinah sings stanzas one, two, and five, the last of which has particular application to the conflict between her love for Adam and her desire to submit herself to God’s will. Alisa M. Clapp-McItnyre notes the role of this hymn in marking Dinah’s shift from woman preacher unconscious of the male gaze to woman in love, who feels an ‘intense thrill’ at the sound of Adam’s voice (‘Dinah and Methodist Hymnody’, 57).


the man Moses, the meekest of men: Numbers 12: 3.

wrathful sometimes: ‘and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands’, Exodus 32: 19.

heaviness through manifold temptations: 1 Peter 1: 6.

the flesh is weak: Matthew 26: 41.


“The God of love and peace be with them”: 2 Corinthians 13: 11.

p. 538It is thy will … let me have no will but thine: Luke 22: 42; also Matthew 26: 42; Mark 14: 36.


Samuel’s dying speech: 1 Samuel 12.

old Isaac’s meeting with his son: Genesis 27: 1–40.

son of Sirach’s keen-edged words: ‘Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach’, part of the Old Testament Apocrypha.

Articles: the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, in the Church of England Book of Common Prayer.


the angel seated on the great stone … from the sepulchre: Matthew 27: 60; 28: 2; Mark 16: 4–5.


the marigold i’ th’ parridge: not a proverbial expression, but a reference to the use of marigold flowers for colour. Joseph Wright, English Dialect Dictionary, vol. iv, gives marigold in the combination marigold-cheese: ‘cheese made of skim-milk, having the petals of marigold-flowers strewn amongst the uncoloured curd.’ Lisbeth’s image suggests that she sees Dinah’s Methodism as an incidental matter, not central to her being.


‘I came … to call … sinners to repentance’: Mark 2: 17; Luke 5: 32.


Mrs Fletcher: see note to p. 81.

without book: metaphorically, without authority.


I have all things and abound: Philippians 4: 18. Dinah uses this same quotation in her letter to Seth in Chapter XXX, p. 297.


where doubt enters, there is not perfect love: 1 John 4: 18.


post-time: Rowland Hill in 1840 introduced the penny post, in which the sender rather than the receiver, as heretofore, paid the cost of postage. Further innovations in the 1850s included pillar boxes and postcodes in London and multiple daily deliveries on a schedule.

Exeter Hall: a large public building constructed in 1829–31 on the Strand, London, where concerts and scientific, political, and religious (especially Evangelical) meetings were held.

Tracts for the Times: a series of pamphlets published between 1833 and 1841 by Anglican clergymen at Oxford, including J. H. Newman, E. B. Pusey, John Keble, and others, who endeavoured to bring a new spirit into the Church of England.

Sartor Resartus: by Thomas Carlyle, first published serially in Fraser’s Magazine in 1833–4.


“Harvest Home”: Adam’s reaction to the song is part of the tension between the sacred and the secular in the novel’s use of music. Although ‘the moment is overtly couched in terms of a religious conversion’ (a ‘great temple’ and a ‘sacred song’), in fact, ‘the real source of his passion is Dinah.’ He had counted his love for Hetty ‘a blessing’ but in the loss of her, he has ‘turned, not to God but to Dinah as his savior, the “greatest o’ blessings” who will fill his “greater need”’ (Clapp-McItnyre, ‘Dinah and the Secularization of Methodist Hymnody in Eliot’s Adam Bede’, 53–4).


p. 539Tityrus and Melibœus: two rustics who converse on their pastoral delights and the changing times in Virgil’s Eclogue 1. Their polite, measured speech stands in contrast to that of the Hall Farm labourers, particularly Alick, who is ‘not by any means a honeyed man’ but whose ‘speech had usually something of a snarl in it’.

The bucolic character … visited by artists: in her review of Wilhelm Riehl’s ‘The Natural History of German Life’, George Eliot argued against falsely idyllic depictions of peasants in art, including ‘the still lingering mistake, that an unintelligible dialect is a guarantee for ingenuousness, and that slouching shoulders indicate an upright disposition. It is quite true that a thresher is likely to be innocent of any adroit arithmetical cheating, but he is not the less likely to carry home his master’s corn in his shoes and pocket’ (Byatt and Warren, 109). When she came to write Chapter LIII, Eliot took her own advice, showing precisely this thresher in Ben Tholoway and the other decidedly un-idyllic labourers, who nonetheless have earned the respect of their master and the narrator.


ad libitum: at their own pleasure; as they choose (Latin, abbreviated ad lib.).


“Here’s a health … ’tis our master’s will”: a traditional Harvest Home drinking song. Two versions appear in an undated pamphlet, ‘The Harvest Songster’, issued by J. Pitts, of Great St Andrew Street, Seven Dials, one of which matches the rhythm and some of the words in the version George Eliot gives to the merrymakers.


He’s full o’ this peace: the Peace of Amiens. See note to p. 433.

mounseers: a colloquial form of monsieurs.

frogs: a contemptuous term for the French along with the similar term, ‘frog-eater.’ Martin Poyser adds to the dietary denigration of the French in assuming that they are without the pleasures of the ‘roast beef of Old England’ and have instead only ‘sallet’ (i.e. salad) to eat.


take on Billy Pitt again: William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806), who resigned as prime minister in March 1801, but re-entered office in May 1804.

Old Harry when everybody’s got boots on: the devil cannot be identified by his cloven hoof if everyone is wearing boots.

he’s no Frenchman born: Craig’s knowledge is limited on this point too. Napoleon was born on 15 August 1769 on Corsica, an island off the west coast of Italy that had been under Genoese control until Genoa transferred sovereignty to France by treaty in 1768. The resistance movement for an independent Corsica, led by Pascal Paoli, whose forces had already been fighting the Genoese, was defeated by the French in May 1769, three months before Napoleon’s birth. Thus he was a Corsican citizen of France.

Socratic argument: see note to page 93.


sotto voce: quietly; Italian for low (‘under’) voice.

p. 540‘Three Merry Mowers’: I have been unable to locate a reference to this song.


Mrs Poyser’s eye: part of Bartle’s antipathy to women is this attribution of the evil eye to Mrs Poyser.

“A terrible woman!—made of needles … on purpose for ’em”: Chapter LIII ended here in manuscript. The final two paragraphs were added in the first edition, probably to temper the anti-feminism and soften the negative view of Mrs Poyser that the preceding dialogue gives, including Adam’s admission that Gyp avoids the Hall Farm.

apple isn’t sound … sets my teeth on edge: a paraphrase of Jeremiah 31: 29: ‘The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ That Jeremiah’s ‘sour grape’ is here an apple connects Bartle’s misogyny with the story of the forbidden fruit in Genesis, where Eve tasted the apple and shared it with Adam, causing their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a text underlying traditional anti-feminist arguments. That Bartle has had his own problems with a woman is alluded to in Chapter XL, when he tells Mr Irwine: ‘I’ve been a fool myself in my time, but that’s between you and me’ (p. 376).


men as trees walking: Mark 8: 24. Having been blinded by the exterior charms of Hetty, Adam has regained his ability to see clearly.


till death parts us: a paraphrase of the wedding vows Adam and Dinah will take in the next chapter.


in church: in 1801, a marriage had to be performed in an Anglican church regardless of the religious affiliation of the parties.


wedding psalm: the Solemnization of Marriage in the Book of Common Prayer gives either of two psalms to be said or sung after the joining of the couple and the minister’s blessing: Beati omnes, Psalm 128, or Deus misereatur, Psalm 67. Neither, however, includes the phrase that Joshua Rann is humming. The reference fits closely a verse setting of Psalm 133. Rann’s ‘O what a joyful thing it is’ condenses two lines (‘O what a happy thing it is, And joyful for to see’) that George Eliot first quoted in Scenes of Clerical Life, in the midst of a discussion of the singing of ‘the wedding psalm for a newly-married couple’ at Shepperton church, where one character terms it ‘as pretty a psalm an’ as pretty a tune as any’s in the prayer-book’. Thomas A. Noble’s note to this reference in the Clarendon edition of Scenes of Clerical Life (Oxford, 1995) reads: ‘Metrical version of Psalm 133, as rendered in Sternhold and Hopkins (‘Old Version’) (p. 13 n. 5). The reference to a psalm in the Old Version suggests that Rann, while present like other Hayslope inhabitants to celebrate the wedding of Adam and Dinah, nonetheless feels, as he had at Dinah’s sermon in Chapter II, a need to assert the traditions of the Church of England against the new religious movements, just as Mr Hackit in Scenes of Clerical Life breaks ‘into [traditional] melody’ as he objects to the new hymns that Amos Barton wishes to introduce at Shepperton church.


p. 541Conference has forbid the women preaching: Adam’s information is not precisely correct. Wiesenfarth notes that it was the ‘opinion’ of the conference (Manchester, 25 July 1803) that women ‘in general’ ought not to preach. ‘But if any woman among us think she has an extraordinary call from God to speak in public … we are of the opinion she should, in general, address her own sex, and those only.’ (Notebook, note to Entry 61, n. 9, p. 161.)