1801.--I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary
neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful
country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a
situation so completely removed 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 I beheld his black eyes
withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, 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 soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have not
inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation of
Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts--'
'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I should
not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it--walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment,
'Go to the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant manifested no
sympathising movement to the words; and I think that circumstance
determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who
seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself.
When he saw my horse's breast fairly pushing the barrier, he did put out
his hand to unchain it, and then sullenly preceded me up the causeway,
calling, as we entered the court,--'Joseph, take Mr. Lockwood's horse;
and bring up some wine.'
'Here we have the whole establishment of domestics, I suppose,' was the
reflection suggested by this compound order. 'No wonder the grass grows
up between the flags, and cattle are the only hedge-cutters.'
Joseph was an elderly, nay, an old man: very old, perhaps, though hale
and sinewy. 'The Lord help us!' he soliloquised in an undertone of
peevish displeasure, while relieving me of my horse: looking, meantime,
in my face so sourly that I charitably conjectured he must have need of
divine aid to digest his dinner, and his pious ejaculation had no
reference to my unexpected advent.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering'
being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric
tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing
ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess
the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant
of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt
thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.
Happily, the architect had foresight to build it strong: the narrow
windows are deeply set in the wall, and the corners defended with large
Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque
carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door;
above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins and shameless
little boys, I detected the date '1500,' and the name 'Hareton Earnshaw.'
I would have made a few comments, and requested a short history of the
place from the surly owner; but his attitude at the door appeared to
demand my speedy entrance, or complete departure, and I had no desire to
aggravate his impatience previous to inspecting the penetralium.
One stop brought us into the family sitting-room, without any
introductory lobby or passage: they call it here 'the house'
pre-eminently. It includes kitchen and parlour, generally; but I believe
at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat altogether into
another quarter: at least I distinguished a chatter of tongues, and a
clatter of culinary utensils, deep within; and I observed 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 pewter
dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after
row, on a 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 wood laden with oatcakes and clusters of legs of beef,
mutton, and ham, concealed it. Above the chimney were sundry villainous
old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three
gaudily-painted canisters disposed along its ledge. The floor was of
smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures,
painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade. In an
arch under the dresser reposed a huge, liver-coloured bitch pointer,
surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other
The apartment and furniture would have been nothing extraordinary as
belonging to a homely, northern farmer, with a stubborn countenance, and
stalwart limbs set out to advantage in knee-breeches and gaiters. Such
an individual seated in his arm-chair, his mug of ale frothing on the
round table before him, is to be seen in any circuit of five or six miles
among these hills, if you go at the right time after dinner. But Mr.
Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He
is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that
is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly,
perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an
erect and handsome figure; and rather morose. Possibly, some people
might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympathetic
chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by
instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of
feeling--to manifestations 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'm running on too fast: I bestow my own attributes
over-liberally on him. Mr. Heathcliff may have entirely dissimilar
reasons for keeping his hand out of the way when he meets a would-be
acquaintance, to those which actuate me. Let me hope my constitution is
almost peculiar: my dear mother used to say I should never have a
comfortable home; and only last summer I proved myself perfectly unworthy
While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown
into the company of a most fascinating creature: a real goddess in my
eyes, as long as she took no notice of me. I 'never told my love'
vocally; still, if looks have language, the merest idiot might have
guessed I was over head and ears: she understood me at last, and looked a
return--the sweetest of all imaginable looks. 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 the poor innocent was led
to doubt her own senses, and, overwhelmed with confusion at her supposed
mistake, persuaded her mamma to decamp. By this curious turn of
disposition I have gained the reputation of deliberate heartlessness; how
undeserved, I alone can appreciate.
I took a seat at the end of the hearthstone opposite that towards which
my landlord advanced, and filled up an interval of silence by attempting
to caress the canine mother, who had left her nursery, and was sneaking
wolfishly to the back of my legs, her lip curled up, and her white teeth
watering for a snatch. My caress provoked a long, guttural gnarl.
'You'd better let the dog alone,' growled Mr. Heathcliff in unison,
checking fiercer demonstrations with a punch of his foot. 'She's not
accustomed to be spoiled--not kept for a pet.' Then, striding to a side
door, he shouted again, 'Joseph!'
Joseph mumbled indistinctly in the depths of the cellar, but gave no
intimation of ascending; so his master dived down to him, leaving me _vis-
a-vis_ the ruffianly bitch and a pair of grim shaggy sheep-dogs, who
shared with her a jealous guardianship over all my movements. Not
anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat still; but, imagining
they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately indulged in
winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of my physiognomy so
irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my
knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us.
This proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed fiends,
of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre.
I felt my heels and coat-laps peculiar subjects of assault; and parrying
off the larger combatants as effectually as I could with the poker, I was
constrained to demand, aloud, assistance from some of the household in re-
Mr. Heathcliff and his man climbed the cellar steps with vexatious
phlegm: I don't think they moved one second faster than usual, though the
hearth was an absolute tempest of worrying and yelping. Happily, an
inhabitant of the kitchen made more despatch: a lusty dame, with tucked-
up gown, bare arms, and fire-flushed cheeks, rushed into the midst of us
flourishing a frying-pan: and used that weapon, and her tongue, to such
purpose, that the storm subsided magically, and she only remained,
heaving like a sea after a high wind, when her master entered on the
'What the devil is the matter?' he asked, eyeing me in a manner that I
could ill endure, after this inhospitable treatment.
'What the devil, indeed!' I muttered. 'The herd of possessed swine could
have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of yours, sir. You
might as well leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!'
'They won't meddle with persons who touch nothing,' he remarked, putting
the bottle before me, and restoring the displaced table. 'The dogs do
right to be vigilant. 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's
countenance relaxed into a grin.
'Come, come,' he said, 'you are flurried, Mr. Lockwood. Here, take a
little wine. Guests are so exceedingly rare in this house that I and my
dogs, I am willing to own, hardly know how to receive them. Your health,
I bowed and returned the pledge; beginning to perceive that it would be
foolish to sit sulking for the misbehaviour of a pack of curs; besides, I
felt loth to yield the fellow further amusement at my expense; since his
humour took that turn. He--probably swayed by prudential consideration
of the folly of offending a good tenant--relaxed a little in the laconic
style of chipping off his pronouns and auxiliary verbs, and introduced
what he supposed would be a subject of interest to me,--a discourse on
the advantages and disadvantages of my present place of retirement. I
found him very intelligent on the topics we touched; and before I went
home, I was encouraged so far as to volunteer another visit to-morrow. He
evidently wished no repetition of my intrusion. I shall go,
notwithstanding. It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself compared