John Thornton Meets Fitzwilliam Darcy … or How Everything Is Possible in a Period Drama Christmas Story

Milton, Lancashire – December 24th, 1850 Tomorrow was Christmas, and it should have been a merry time. Another year was over, and Marlborough Mills had done reasonably well, despite the strike. Or should I say, it had been doing well before the strike? Ah … Men would seek to better themselves, and strive to bring down mill masters who stood in their way. I, John Thornton, was in their black book even more, because I brought in Irish workers to do their jobs while the strike lasted. Yet who could blame me for trying to save my business, no matter … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen For the next three months, I fought tooth and nail to keep my business afloat. I travelled to Birmingham, Leeds and even London to find some new investors, but alas, to no avail. Latimer would not see me again when I applied for an interview about a new loan. Needless to say I did not pursue Ann Latimer further. I was relieved about that, at least. On one day in late spring, I received a visit from Mr Bell, my landlord. He was an Oxford academic from a wealthy family, who had invested and still was investing money … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen   I rose from my chair behind my desk, all my limbs stiff with fatigue. It was late, I guessed. Just then the whistle blew, indicating the end of the evening shift. Ten o’ clock. I went to the window. Little Tom Boucher sat on the rough wooden planks of the loading bank, his feet in their scuffed boots dangling from it. He was reading aloud from a book. That was a most intelligent lad, I mused, while I donned my coat. I went to stand beside him, reading over his shoulder. He was spelling the words diligently, … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Twelve

Chapter  Twelve   One day in early October, I was in the courtyard, when I witnessed my overseer Williams, who was chasing away from the mill an individual who I had come to loathe most assiduously. Nicholas Higgins seemed to have mustered the effrontery – and the courage, I must admit – to come and ask for work. I knew he had been dismissed from Hamper’s mill after the strike, and also, why. The firebrand and his abominable union wanted the workers to pay contributions to keep up a fund that would sustain them when there was a prolonged strike. … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Eleven

Chapter Eleven   I came home in a state of shock and disbelief. To find myself betrayed by the first woman I had ever loved, was a cruel blow. Granted, she had never been mine to begin with, but I had professed my devotion to her with an honesty that she must have never experienced in the jaded drawing rooms of London. I knew I was not a gentleman in her eyes, but surely that was to be preferred over the sly, equivocal pretences of London, where no one ever spoke the truth. Apparently, Margaret thought otherwise. And, moreover, she … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Ten

Chapter Ten   I walked the streets in a state of numbness, not seeing or hearing a thing. Barely was I able to comprehend what had just happened to me. The pain, however, was already fully in attendance. It was a wound I would carry with me for the rest of my life. I know not how, but eventually I reached Marlborough Mills, and the house, where I ascended the stairs to the parlour, feeling drained and utterly cast down. I noticed Mother was not sitting on her usual sofa, but in a smaller chair, close to the hearth. She … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Nine

Chapter Nine   The Irish arrived on a gloomy evening at Milton Outwood Station. I was present with Williams at my side, and we noted the names of the hundred men and women, who alighted from the ghastly cargo train. Poor wretches, I thought, if they had to make the journey from Liverpool in these cattle wagons. We hastened them to Marlborough Mills, where we settled them on the top floor of the building that housed the sorting room. I sent for Father Patrick, the Catholic priest, and instructed food to be given them. The next day, my looms would … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Eight

Chapter Eight   I was given more free time now and I spent it to go and read with Mr Hale more frequently. My teacher was delighted, and we had many a pleasant evening conversing about the problems of manufacturing. Mr Hale even suggested a few solutions to the workers’ discontent, such as providing food and medical attention on the premises of the mill, but of course, I could not apply them. They were far too fanciful and would not have worked. My foolish heart had hoped to see more of Margaret, now that she was forced to stay indoors … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Seven

Chapter Seven   I had enjoyed my conversation with Margaret so much that I now craved to have that kind of interaction with her on a daily basis. She intrigued me – no, she enthralled me. But it was not to be. Not even when I went to read with Mr Hale did I catch a glimpse of her. She was with her mother, Mr Hale casually informed me, one evening. So I came during the afternoon, one day that I could muster the time. To no avail, however. Mr Hale cheerfully explained that his daughter had made friends amongst … Read more

The Reform of John Thornton – Part Six

This lovely art work is not mine. I found it somewhere on the internet. Would the artist please contact me so that I can acknowledge his/her work?   Chapter Six   How grateful I was to have my mill so that I could throw myself onto my work and forget the events of that upsetting tea party. The mill required my full attention at that time, for trouble was most definitively brewing. It was of such great concern that I called on my fellow mill masters to convene and discuss the situation. Our assembly hall was next to the Lyceum … Read more