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Publication details, summary and further reading for Under The Storm

(Text kindly supplied by Amy de Gruchy)


1887, The National Society


Under the Storm is the first of C.M. Yonge's books written for the National Society 'for the elder classes in elementary schools' (C. Coleridge, Charlotte Mary Yonge, p. 278, London 1903). The early pages suggest a readership of under ten years, but thereafter the language and subject matter seem more suitable for adolescents or even adults.

It begins in the English Civil War, and ends at the Restoration, but events are seen through the eyes of simple country folk. The Kentons are already motherless when their home is burned and their father killed by marauding Royalist soldiers. The eldest brother join the Parliamentary army leaving Steadfast, a boy of fourteen, and Patience, a year younger, to manage what is left of the farm and care for their little sister and baby brother. Steadfast already has the duty of keeping secret the whereabouts of the Church plate, hidden in a cave by his father and the clergyman, before the latter is imprisoned by the Parliamentarians. Later the Kentons take charge of a Royalist orphan, the spoilt and charming Emlyn. All grow up. Steadfast falls in love with Emlyn but she rejects him when he refuses to raise money for their marriage by selling the hidden plate. She then betrays the secret to Royalist buccaneers. In defending it from them Steadfast is fatally wounded, but survives years of illness for long enough to see his clergyman return, and to receive Communion from him from the very vessels he has guarded so faithfully.

The characterisation is good. The major figures develop and relate to each other realistically, and the minor ones are credible. In role, appearance and personality Steadfast strongly resembles Felix in The Pillars of the House (1873), sturdy, industrious and utterly reliable, while Patience lacks the beauty but shares the unimaginative goodness and housewifely good sense of Wilmet in the same novel.

Though the plot is rudimentary numerous incidents prevent the interest from flagging and there is more humour and better descriptions of places than is usually found in C.M. Yonge's work. Historical events are not only accurately but vividly described. There is no bias in favour of the Royalists. Their soldiers and sailors are savage and licentious, though the clergy and their immediate adherents are wholly good., The Parliamentarians scorn sacred things but are well-disciplined and humane.

Moral teaching is mainly by way of example. Emlyn and the eldest brother are both selfish and self-deceived. Steadfast is an example of trustworthiness, and love of family, though this is shown to falter when his eagerness to save money for his marriage causes him to stint on necessities for the others as well as for himself.

The religious teaching is strongly stressed, though there is some confusion at the beginning, when here is an attempt to explain the apparently Puritan names in a staunchly Church family. The hidden church plate is symbolic of the Communion for which it is used. As Steadfast has promised never to hand over the vessels except to a clergyman ordained by a bishop, so believers should only receive communion from such a person. Indeed, the Kentons sacrifice prosperity because, unlike their fellow parishioners, they will not join in the communion services of the Presbyterian clergyman who has replaced their own. The readers are told that there are good theological reasons for their refusal, but not what they are. Like the Kentons they must take them on trust, so as to be faithful members of the Church of England.

Further Reading

For contemporary reviews see:
L. Madden, J.B. Shorthouse and C.M. Yonge, unpublished thesis, University of London Diploma in Librarianship, 1964

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