Mr. Harrison's Confessions is a sweet, funny, charming novella whose basic characters and plot line were incorporated into the BBC Cranford mini-series. Scanning the online version of The Gaskell Society Journal, I found this paper, "Mr Harrison's Confessions": A Study of the General Practitioner's Social and Professional Dis-ease in Mid-Nineteenth Century England by Marie Fitzwilliam.
The paper goes into the social and professional standing of doctors during the 19th century, and shows how Gaskell reflects a personal understanding of the profession in not only Mr. Harrison's Confessions, but also Cranford and Wives and Daughters. Her uncle, Peter Holland, was a country doctor of the kind depicted in these works.
While Fitzwilliam summarizes by saying that in the story, Gaskell shows her belief that the "science and technology of medicine must take primacy over the superficial trappings of the profession," which is an interesting way of looking at Mr. Harrison's Confessions and one that didn't occur to me whilst reading it. Certainly, I got that old Mr. Morgan's ways were ineffective as compared to young Mr. Harrison's, but I missed that part of the old ways was the slavish emphasis on form and manners...it's there, of course, but I missed it.
A good paper worth reading.