1801—I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbou_hat I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In al_ngland, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completel_emoved from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr.
Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.
A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when _eheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rod_p, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution,
still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.
'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.
A nod was the answer.
'Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of calling as soo_s possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have no_nconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation o_hrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts - '
'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I should no_llow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it \- walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, 'G_o the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathisin_ovement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accep_he invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedl_eserved than myself.
When he saw my horse's breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did put out hi_and to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up the causeway, calling, a_e entered the court, - 'Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood's horse; and bring up som_ine.'
'Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,' was th_eflection suggested by this compound order. 'No wonder the grass grows u_etween the flags, and cattle are the only hedge- cutters.'
Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale an_inewy. 'The Lord help us!' he soliloquised in an undertone of peevis_ispleasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime, in my face s_ourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of divine aid to diges_is dinner, and his pious ejaculation had no reference to my unexpecte_dvent.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' bein_ significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult t_hich its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation the_ust have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the nort_ind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs a_he end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching thei_imbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun. Happily, the architect ha_oresight to build it strong: the narrow windows are deeply set in the wall,
and the corners defended with large jutting stones.
Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesqu_arving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door;
above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins and shameless littl_oys, I detected the date '1500,' and the name 'Hareton Earnshaw.' I woul_ave made a few comments, and requested a short history of the place from th_urly owner; but his attitude at the door appeared to demand my speed_ntrance, or complete departure, and I had no desire to aggravate hi_mpatience previous to inspecting the penetralium.
One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any introductor_obby or passage: they call it here 'the house' pre- eminently. It include_itchen and parlour, generally; but I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitche_s forced to retreat altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguishe_ chatter of tongues, and a clatter of culinary utensils, deep within; and _bserved no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fireplace;
nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls. One end,
indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewte_ishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, o_ vast oak dresser, to the very roof. The latter had never been under-drawn:
its entire anatomy lay bare to an inquiring eye, except where a frame of woo_aden with oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef, mutton, and ham, conceale_t. Above the chimney were sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse-
pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily-painted canisters dispose_long its ledge. The floor was of smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-
backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black one_urking in the shade. In an arch under the dresser reposed a huge, liver-
coloured bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and othe_ogs haunted other recesses.
The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary as belongin_o a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn countenance, and stalwart limb_et out to advantage in knee- breeches and gaiters. Such an individual seate_n his arm-chair, his mug of ale frothing on the round table before him, is t_e seen in any circuit of five or six miles among these hills, if you go a_he right time after dinner. But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast t_is abode and style of living. He is a dark- skinned gipsy in aspect, in dres_nd manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a countr_quire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence,
because he has an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose. Possibly, som_eople might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympatheti_hord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by instinct, hi_eserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling - t_anifestations of mutual kindliness. He'll love and hate equally under cover,
and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or hated again. No, I'_unning on too fast: I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him. Mr.
Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar reasons for keeping his hand out o_he way when he meets a would-be acquaintance, to those which actuate me. Le_e hope my constitution is almost peculiar: my dear mother used to say _hould never have a comfortable home; and only last summer I proved mysel_erfectly unworthy of one.
While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into th_ompany of a most fascinating creature: a real goddess in my eyes, as long a_he took no notice of me. I 'never told my love' vocally; still, if looks hav_anguage, the merest idiot might have guessed I was over head and ears: sh_nderstood me at last, and looked a return - the sweetest of all imaginabl_ooks. And what did I do? I confess it with shame - shrunk icily into myself,
like a snail; at every glance retired colder and farther; till finally th_oor innocent was led to doubt her own senses, and, overwhelmed with confusio_t her supposed mistake, persuaded her mamma to decamp. By this curious tur_f disposition I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness; ho_ndeserved, I alone can appreciate.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which m_andlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting t_aress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking wolfishl_o the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth watering for _natch. My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl.
'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison, checkin_iercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. 'She's not accustomed to b_poiled - not kept for a pet.' Then, striding to a side door, he shoute_gain, 'Joseph!'
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave n_ntimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him, leaving me vis-à-vi_he ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy sheep-dogs, who shared with he_ jealous guardianship over all my movements. Not anxious to come in contac_ith their fangs, I sat still; but, imagining they would scarcely understan_acit insults, I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at th_rio, and some turn of my physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenl_roke into a fury and leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened t_nterpose the table between us. This proceeding aroused the whole hive:
half-a-dozen four-footed fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidde_ens to the common centre. I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects o_ssault; and parrying off the larger combatants as effectually as I could wit_he poker, I was constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of th_ousehold in re-establishing peace.
Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious phlegm: _on't think they moved one second faster than usual, though the hearth was a_bsolute tempest of worrying and yelping. Happily, an inhabitant of th_itchen made more despatch: a lusty dame, with tucked-up gown, bare arms, an_ire-flushed cheeks, rushed into the midst of us flourishing a frying-pan: an_sed that weapon, and her tongue, to such purpose, that the storm subside_agically, and she only remained, heaving like a sea after a high wind, whe_er master entered on the scene.
'What the devil is the matter?' he asked, eyeing me in a manner that I coul_ll endure, after this inhospitable treatment.
'What the devil, indeed!' I muttered. 'The herd of possessed swine could hav_ad no worse spirits in them than those animals of yours, sir. You might a_ell leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!'
'They won't meddle with persons who touch nothing,' he remarked, putting th_ottle before me, and restoring the displaced table. 'The dogs do right to b_igilant. Take a glass of wine?'
'No, thank you.'
'Not bitten, are you?'
'If I had been, I would have set my signet on the biter.' Heathcliff'_ountenance relaxed into a grin.
'Come, come,' he said, 'you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood. Here, take a littl_ine. Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my dogs, I a_illing to own, hardly know how to receive them. Your health, sir?'
I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning to perceive that it would b_oolish to sit sulking for the misbehaviour of a pack of curs; besides, I fel_oth to yield the fellow further amusement at my expense; since his humou_ook that turn. He - probably swayed by prudential consideration of the foll_f offending a good tenant \- relaxed a little in the laconic style o_hipping off his pronouns and auxiliary verbs, and introduced what he suppose_ould be a subject of interest to me, - a discourse on the advantages an_isadvantages of my present place of retirement. I found him very intelligen_n the topics we touched; and before I went home, I was encouraged so far a_o volunteer another visit to-morrow. He evidently wished no repetition of m_ntrusion. I shall go, notwithstanding. It is astonishing how sociable I fee_yself compared with him.