Title: Biographies & Criticism of Thomas Hardy
Author: Thomas Hardy

  The Criticism

    A STUDY OF THOMAS HARDY by D.H. Lawrence












    THOMAS HARDY by Leon H. Vincent








    UNDER FRENCH ENCOURAGEMENT by David Christie Murray


    THOMAS HARDY by John Cowper Powys




  The Biographies

    THE EARLY LIFE OF THOMAS HARDY, 1841–1891 by Florence Hardy













      ST. JULIOT































    THE LATER YEARS OF THOMAS HARDY, 1892–1928 by Florence Hardy











































      NOTES BY F. E. H.




  Hardy’s Wessex Map

The Criticism


This critical work was written in the early months of World War I, and was originally intended to be a short analysis of Hardy’s characters, but then developed into a major statement of Lawrence’s philosophy of art. The introduction to this work shows its relation to Lawrence’s final rewriting of The Rainbow and its place among his continual attempts to express his philosophy in a definitive form.

D.H. Lawrence, the famous novelist and poet, who was greatly influenced by Hardy












Of Poppies and Phoenixes and the Beginning of the Argument

Man has made such a mighty struggle to feel at home on the face of the earth, without even yet succeeding. Ever since he first discovered himself exposed naked betwixt sky and land, belonging to neither, he has gone on fighting for more food, more clothing, more shelter; and though he has roofed-in the world with houses and though the ground has heaved up massive abundance and excess of nutriment to his hand, still he cannot be appeased, satisfied. He goes on and on. In his anxiety he has evolved nations and tremendous governments to protect his person and his property; his strenuous purpose, unremitting, has brought to pass the whole frantic turmoil of modern industry, that he may have enough, enough to eat and wear, that he may be safe. Even his religion has for the systole of its heart-beat, propitiation of the Unknown God who controls death and the sources of nourishment.

But for the diastole of the heart-beat, there is something more, something else, thank heaven, than this unappeased rage of self - preservation. Even the passion to be rich is not merely the greedy wish to be secure within triple walls of brass, along with a huge barn of plenty. And the history of mankind is not altogether the history of an effort at self-preservation which has at length become over blown and extravagant.

Working in contradiction to the will of self-preservation, from the very first man wasted himself begetting children, colouring himself and dancing and howling,.and sticking feathers in his hair, in scratching pictures on the walls of his cave, and making graven images of his unutterable feelings. So he went on wildly and with gorgeousness taking no thought for the morrow, but, at evening, considering the ruddy lily.

In his sleep, however, it must have come to him early that the lily is a wise and housewifely flower, considerate of herself, laying up secretly her little storehouse and barn, well under the ground, well tucked with supplies. And this providence on the part of the lily, man laid to heart. He went out anxiously at dawn to kill the largest mammoth, so that he should have a huge hill of meat, that he could never eat his way through.

And the old man at the door of the cave, afraid of the coming winter with its scant supplies, watching the young man go forth, told impressive tales to the children of the ant and the grasshopper; and praised the thrift and husbandry of that little red squirrel, and drew a moral from the gaudy, fleeting poppy.

“Don’t, my dear children,” continued the ancient paleolithic man as he sat at the door of his cave, “don’t behave like that reckless, shameless scarlet flower. Ah, my dears, you little know the amount of labour, the careful architecture, all the chemistry, the weaving and the casting of energy, the business of day after day and night after night, yon gaudy wreck has squandered. Pfff! — and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. Now, my dear children, don’t be like that.”

Nevertheless, the old man watched the last poppy coming out, the red flame licking into sight; watched the blaze at the top clinging around a little tender d-j^t, and he wept, thinking of his youth. Till the red flag fell before him, lay in rags on the earth. Then he did not know whether to pay homage to the void, or to preach.

So he compromised, and made a story about a phoenix. “Yes, my dears, in the waste desert, I know the green and graceful tree where the phoenix has her nest. And there I have seen the eternal phoenix escape away into flame, leaving life behind in her ashes. Suddenly she went up in to red flame, and was gone, leaving life to rise from her ashes.”

“And did it?”

“Oh, yes, it rose up.”

“What did it do then?”

“It grew up, and burst into flame again.”

And the flame was all the story and all triumph. The old man knew this. It was this he praised, in his innermost heart, the red outburst at the top of the poppy that had no fear of winter. Even the latent seeds were secondary, within the fire. No red; and there was just a herb, without name or sign of poppy. But he had seen the flower in all its evanescence and its being.

When his educated grandson told him that the red was there to bring the bees and the flies, he knew well enough that more bees and flies and wasps would come to a sticky smear round his grandson’s mouth, than to yards of poppy-red.

Therefore his grandson began to talk about the excess which al ways accompanies reproduction. And the old man died during this talk, and was put away. But his soul was uneasy, and came back from the shades to have the last word, muttering inaudibly in the cave door, “If there is always excess accompanying reproduction, how can you call it excess? When your mother makes a pie, and has too much paste, then that is excess. So she carves a paste rose with her surplus, and sticks it on the top of the pie. That is the flowering of the excess. And children, if they are young enough, clap their hands at this blossom of pastry. And if the pie bloom not too often with the rose of excess, they eat the paste blossom - shaped lump with reverence. But soon they become sophisticated, and know that the rose is no rose, but only excess, surplus, a counterfeit, a lump, unedifying and unattractive, and they say, ‘No, thank you, mother; no rose.’

“Wherefore, if you mean to tell me that the red of my shed poppy was no more than the rose of the paste on the pie, you are a fool. You mean to say that young blood had more stuff than he knew what to do with. He knocked his structure of leaves and stalks together, hammered the poppy-knob safe on top, sieved and bolted the essential seeds, shut them up tight, and then said ‘Ah!’ And whilst he was dusting his hands, he saw a lot of poppy-stuff to spare. ‘Must do something with it — must do something with it — mustn’t be wastedl’ So he just rolled it out into red flakes, and dabbed it round the knobby seed-box, and said, ‘There, the simple creature will take it in, and I’ve got rid of it.’

“My dear child, that is the history of the poppy and of the excess which accompanied his reproduction, is it? That’s all you can say of him, when he makes his red splash in the world? — that he had a bit left over from his pie with the five-and-twenty blackbirds in, so he put a red frill round? My child, it is good you are young, for you are a fool.”

So the shade of the ancient man passed back again, to foregather with all the shades. And it shook its head as it went, muttering, “Conceit, conceit of self-preservation and of race-preservation, conceit!” But he had seen the heart of his grandson, with the wasteful red peeping out, like a poppy-bud. So he chuckled.

Why, when we are away for our holidays, do we exclaim with rapture, “What a splendid field of poppies!” — or “Isn’t the poppy sweet, a red dot among the camomile flowers!” — only to go back on it all, and when the troubles come in, and we walk forth in heaviness, taking ourselves seriously, later on, to cry, in a harsh and bitter voice: “Ah, the gaudy treason of those red weeds in the corn!” — or when children come up with nosegays, “Nasty red flowers, poison, darling, make baby go to sleep,” or when we see the scarlet flutter in the wind: “Vanity and flaunting vanity,” and with gusto watch the red bits disappear into nothingness, saying: “It is well such scarlet vanity is cast to nought.”

Why are we so rarely away on our holidays? Why do we persist in taking ourselves seriously, in counting our money and our goods and our virtues? We are down in the end. We rot and crumble away. And that without ever bursting the bud, the tight economical bud of caution and thrift and self-preservation.

The phoenix grows up to maturity and fulness of wisdom, it attains to fatness and wealth amd all things desirable, only to burst into flame and expire in ash. And the flame and the ash are the be-all and the end-all, and the fatness and wisdom and wealth are but the fuel spent. It is a wasteful ordering of things, indeed, to be sure: but so it is, and what must be must be.

But we are very cunning. If we cannot carry our goods and our fatness, at least our goodness can be stored up like coin. And if we are not sure of the credit of the bank, we form ourselves into an unlimited liability company to run the future. We must have an obvious eternal deposit in which to bank our effort. And because the red of the poppy and the fire of the phoenix are contributed to no store, but are spent with the day and disappear, we talk of vanity and foolish mortality.

The phoenix goes gadding off into flame and leaves the future behind, unprovided for, in its ashes. There is no prodigal poppy left to return home in repentance, after the red is squandered in a day. Vanity, and vanity, and pathetic transience of mortality. All that is left us to call eternal is the tick-tack of birth and death, monotonous as time. The vain blaze flapped away into space and is gone, and what is left but the tick-tack of time, of birth and death?

But I will chase that flamy phoenix that gadded off into nothingness. Whoop and halloo and away we go into nothingness, in hot pursuit. Say, where are the flowers of yester-year? Ou sont les neiges d’antan? Where’s Hippolyta, where’s Thai’s, each one loveliest among women? Who knows? Where are the snows of yester-year?

That is all very well, but they must be somewhere. They may not be in any bank or deposit, but they are not lost for ever. The virtue of them is still blowing about in nothingness and in somethingness. I cannot walk up and say, “How do you do, Dido?” as ^Eneas did in the shades. But Dido — Dido! — the robin cocks a scornful tail and goes off, disgusted with the noise. You might as well look for your own soul as to look for Dido. “Didon dina dit-on du dos d’un dodu dindon,” comes rapidly into my mind, and a few frayed scraps of Virgil, and a vision of fair, round, half-globe breasts and blue eyes with tears in them; and a tightness comes into my heart: all forces rushing into me through my consciousness. But what of Dido my unconsciousness has, I could not tell you. Something, I am sure, and something that has come to me without my knowledge, something that flew away in the flames long ago, something that flew away from that pillar of fire, which was her body, day after day whilst she lived, flocking into nothingness to make a difference there. The reckoning of her money and her mortal assets may be discoverable in print. But what she is in the roomy space of somethingness, called nothingness, is all that matters to me.

She is something, I declare, even if she were utterly forgotten. How could any new thing be born unless it had a new nothingness to breathe? A new creature breathing old air, or even renewed air: it is terrible to think of. A new creature must have new air, absolutely brand-new air to breathe. Otherwise there is no new creature, and birth and death are a tick-tack.

What was Dido was new, absolutely new. It had never been before, and in Dido it was. In its own degree, the prickly sow-thistle I have just pulled up is, for the first time in all time. It is itself, a new thing. And most vividly it is itself in its yellow little disc of a flower: most vividly. In its flower it is. In its flower it issues something to the world that never was issued before. Its like has been before, its exact equivalent never. And this richness of new being is richest in the flowering yellow disc of my plant.

What then of this excess that accompanies reproduction? The excess is the thing itself at its maximum of being. If it had stopped short of this excess, it would not have been at all. If this excess were missing, darkness would cover the face of the earth. In this excess, the plant is transfigured into flower, it achieves at last itself. The aim, the culmination of all is the red of the poppy, this flame of the phoenix, this extravagant being of Dido, even her so-called waste.

But no, we dare not. We dare not fulfil the last part of our programme. We linger into inactivity at the vegetable, self-preserving stage. As if we preserved ourselves merely for the sake of remaining as we are. Yet there we remain, like the regulation cabbage, hidebound, a bunch of leaves that may not go any farther for fear of losing a market value. A cabbage seen straddling up into weakly fiery flower is a piteous, almost an indecent sight to us. Better be a weed, and noxious. So we remain tight shut, a bunch of leaves, full of greenness and substance.

But the rising flower thrusts and pushes at the heart of us, strives and wrestles, while the static will holds us immovable. And neither will relent. But the flower, if it cannot beat its way through into being, will thrash destruction about itself. So the bound-up cabbage is beaten rotten at the heart.

Yet we call the poppy “vanity” and we write it down a weed. It is humiliating to think that, when we are taking ourselves seriously, we are considering our own self-preservation, or the greater scheme for the preservation of mankind. What is it that really matters? For the poppy, that the poppy disclose its red: for the cabbage, that it run up into weakly fiery flower: for Dido, that she be Dido, that she become herself, and die as fate will have it. Seed and fruit and produce, these are only a minor aim: children and good works are a minor aim. Work, in its ordinary meaning, and all effort for the public good, these are labour of self-preservation, they are only means to the end. The final aim is the flower, the fluttering, singing nucleus which is a bird in spring, the magical spurt of being which is a hare all explosive with fulness of self, in the moonlight; the real passage of a man down the road, no sham, no shadow, no counterfeit, whose eyes shine blue with his own reality, as he moves amongst things free as they are, a being; the flitting under the lamp of a woman incontrovertible, distinct from everything and from everybody, as one who is herself, of whom Christ said, “to them that have shall be given.”

The final aim of every living thing, creature, or being is the full achievement of itself. This accomplished, it will produce what it will produce, it will bear the fruit of its nature. Not the fruit, however, but the flower is the culmination and climax, the degree to be striven for. Not the work I shall produce, but the real Me I shall achieve, that is the consideration; of the complete Me will come the complete fruit of me, the work, the children.

And I know that the common wild poppy has achieved so far its complete poppy-self, unquestionable. It has uncovered its red. Its light, its self, has risen and shone out, has run on the winds for a moment. It is splendid. The world is a world because of the poppy’s red. Otherwise it would be a lump of clay. And I am I as well, since the disclosure. What it is, I breathe it and snuff it up, it is about me and upon me and of me. And I can tell that I do not know it all yet. There is more to disclose. What more, I do not know. I tremble at the inchoate infinity of life when I think of that which the poppy has to reveal, and has not as yet had time to bring forth. I make a jest of it. I say to the flower, “Come, you’ve played that red card long enough. Let’s see what else you have got up your sleeve.” But I am premature and impertinent. My impertinence makes me ashamed. He has not played his red card long enough to have outsatisfied me.

Yet we must always hold that life is the great struggle for self - preservation, - that this struggle for the means of life is the essence and whole of life. As if it would be anything so futile, so ingestive. Yet we ding-dong at it, always hammering out the same phrase, about the struggle for existence, the right to work, the right to the vote, the right to this and the right to that, all in the struggle for existence, as if any external power could give us the right to ourselves. That we have within ourselves. And if we have it not, then the remainder that we do possess will be taken away from us. “To them that have shall be given, and from them that have not shall be taken away even that which they have.”


Still Introductory: About Women’s Suffrage, and Laws, and the War, and the Poor, with Some Fanciful Moralising

It is so sad that the earnest people of today serve at the old, second - rate altar of self-preservation. The woman-suffragists, who are certainly the bravest, and, in the old sense, most heroic party amongst us, even they are content to fight the old battles on the old ground, to fight an old system of self-preservation to obtain a more advanced system of preservation. The vote is only a means, they admit. A means to what? A means to making better laws, laws which shall protect the unprotected girl from a vicious male, which shall protect the sweated woman-labourer from the unscrupulous greed of the capitalist, which shall protect the interest of women in the State. And surely this is worthy and admirable.

Yet it is like protecting the well-being of a cabbage in the cabbage - patch, while the cabbage is rotting at the heart for lack of power to run out into blossom. Could you make any law in any land, empowering the poppy to flower? You might make a law refusing it liberty to bloom. But that is another thing. Could any law put into being something which did not before exist? It could not. Law can only modify the conditions, for better or worse, of that which already exists.

But law is a very, very clumsy and mechanical instrument, and we people are very, very delicate and subtle beings. Therefore I only ask that the law shall leave me alone as much as possible. I insist that no law shall have immediate power over me, either for my good or for my ill. And I would wish that many laws be unmade, and no more laws made. Let there be a parliament of men and women for the careful and gradual unmaking of laws.

If it were for this purpose that women wanted the vote, I should be glad, and the opposition would be vital and intense, instead of just flippantly or exasperatedly static. Because then the woman’s movement would be a living human movement. But even so, the claiming of a vote for the purpose of unmaking the laws would be rather like taking a malady in order to achieve a cure.

The women, however, want the vote in order to make more laws. That is the most lamentable and pathetic fact. They will take this clumsy machinery to make right the body politic. And, pray, what is the sickness of the body politic? Is it that some men are sex-mad or sex-degraded, and that some, or many, employers are money - degraded? And if so, will you, by making laws for putting in prison the sex-degraded, and putting out of power the money-degraded, thereby make whole and clean the State? Wherever you put them, will not the degradation exist, and continue? And is the State, then, merely an instrument for weeding the public of destructive members? And js this, then, the crying necessity for more thorough weeding?

Whence does the degradation or perversion arise? Is there any great sickness in the body politic? Then where and what is it? Am I, or your suffragist woman, or your voting man, sex-whole and money-healthy, are we sound human beings? Have we achieved to true individuality and to a sufficient completeness in ourselves? Because, if not — then, physician, heal thyself.

That is no taunt, but the finest and most damning criticism ever passed: “Physician, heal thyself.” No amount of pity can blind us to the inexorable reality of the challenge.

Where is the source of all money-sickness, and the origin of all sex-perversion? That is the question to answer. And no cause shall come to life unless it contain an answer to this question. Laws, and all State machinery, these only regulate the sick, separate the sick and the whole, clumsily, oh, so clumsily that it is worse than futile. Who is there who searches out the origin of the sickness, with a hope to quench the malady at its source?

It lies in the heart of man, and not in the conditions — that is obvious, yet always forgotten. It is not a malaria which blows in through the window and attacks us when we are healthy. We are each one of us a swamp, we are like the hide-bound cabbage going rotten at the heart. And for the same reason that, instead of producing our flower, instead of continuing our activity, satisfying our true desire, climbing and clambering till, like the poppy, we lean on the sill of all the unknown, and run our flag out there in the colour and shine of being, having surpassed that which has been before, we hang back, we dare not even peep forth, but, safely shut up in bud, safely and darkly and snugly enclosed, like the regulation cabbage, we remain secure till our hearts go rotten, saying all the while how safe we are.

No wonder there is a war. No wonder there is a great waste and squandering of life. Anything, anything to prove that we are not altogether sealed in our own self-preservation as dying chrysalides. Better the light be blown out, wilfully, recklessly, in the wildest wind, than remain secure under the bushel, saved from every draught.

So we go to war to show that we can throw our lives away. Indeed, they have become of so little value to us. We cannot live, we cannot be. Then let us tip-cat with death, let us rush, throwing our lives away. Then, at any rate, we shall have a sensation — and “perhaps,” after all, the value of life is in death.

What does the law matter? What does money, power, or public approval matter? All that matters is that each human being shall be in his own fulness. If something obstruct us, we break it or put it aside, as the shoots of the trees break even through the London pavements. That is, if life is strong enough in us. If not, we are glad to fight with death. Does not the war show us how little, under all our carefulness, we count human life and human suffering, how little we value ourselves at bottom, how we hate our own securitv? We have many hospitals and many laws and charities for the poor. And at the same time, we send ourselves to be killed and torn and tor tured, we spread grief and desolation, and then, only then, we are somewhat satisfied. For have we not proved that we can transcend our own self-preservation, that we do not care so much for ourselves, after all? Indeed, we almost hate ourselves.

Indeed, well may we talk about a just and righteous war against Germany, but against ourselves also, our own self-love and caution. It is no war for the freedom of man from militarism or the Prussian yoke; it is a war for freedom of the bonds of our own cowardice and sluggish greed of security and well-being; it is a fight to regain ourselves out of the grip of our own caution.

Tell me no more we care about human life and suffering. We are, every one of us, revelling at this moment in the squandering of human life as if it were something we needed. And it is shameful. And all because that, to live, we are afraid to [risk] ourselves. We can only die.

Let there be an end, then, of all this welter of pity, which is only self-pity reflected onto some obvious surface. And let there be an end of this German hatred. We ought to be grateful to Germany that she still has the power to burst the bound hide of the cabbage. Where do I meet a man or a woman who does not draw deep and thorough satisfaction from this war? Because of pure shame that we should have seemed such poltroons living safe and atrophied, not daring to take one step to life. And this is the only good that can result from the “world disaster”: that we realise once more that self-preservation is not the final goal of life; that we realise that we can still squander life and property and inflict suffering wholesale. That will free us, perhaps, from the bushel we cower under, from the paucity of our lives, from the cowardice that will not let us be, which will only let us exist in security, unflowering, unreal, fat, under the cosy jam-pot of the State, under the shelter of the social frame.

And we must be prepared to fight, after the war, a renewed rage of activity for greater self-preservation, a renewed outcry for a stronger bushel to shelter our light. We must also undertake the incubus of crippled souls that will come home, and of crippled souls that will be left behind: men in whom the violence of war shall have shaken the life-flow and broken or perverted the course; women who will cease to live henceforth, yet will remain existing in the land, fixed at some lower point of fear or brutality.

Yet if we are left maimed and halt, if you die or I die, it will not matter, so long as there is alive in the land some new sense of what is and what is not, some new courage to let go the securities, and to be, to risk ourselves in a forward venture of life, as we are willing to risk ourselves in a rush of death.

Nothing will matter so long as life shall sprout up again strong after this winter of cowardice and well-being, sprout into the unknown. Let us only have had enough of pity: pity that stands before the glass and weeps for ever over jthe sight of its own tears. This is what we have made of Christ’s Commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” — a mirror for the tears of self-pity. How do we love our neighbour? By taking to heart his poverty, his small wage, and the attendant evils thereof. And is that how we love our neighbour as ourselves? Do I, then, think of myself as a moneyed thing enjoying advantages, or a non-moneyed thing suffering from disadvantages? Evidently I do. Then why the tears? They must rise from the inborn knowledge that neither money or non-money, advantages or disadvantages, matter supremely: what matters is the light under the bushel, the flower fighting under the safeguard of the leaves. I am weeping over my denied self. And I am very sorry for myself, held in the grip of some stronger force. Where can I find an image of myself?* Ah, in the poor, in my poor neighbour labouring in the grip of an unjust system of capitalism. Let me look at him, let my heart be wrung, let me give myself to his service. Poor fellow, poor image, he is so badly off. Alas and alas, I do love my neighbour as myself: I am as anxious about his pecuniary welfare as I am about myself. I am so sorry for him, the poor X. He is a man like me. So I lie to myself and to him. For I do not care about him and his poverty: I care about my own unsatisfied soul. But I sidetrack to him, my poor neighbour, to vent on him my self-pity.

It is as if a poppy, when he is grown taller than his neighbours, but has not come to flower, should look down and, because he can get no further, say: “Alas, for those poor dwindlers down there: they don’t get half as much rain as I do.” He grows no more, and his non-growing makes him sad, and he tries to crouch down so as not to be any taller than his neighbour, thinking his sorrow is for his neighbour; and his neighbour struggles weakly into flower, after his fight for the sunshine. But the rich young poppy crouches, gazing down, nor even once lifts up his head to blossom. He is so afraid of giving himself forth, he cannot move on to expose his new nakedness, up there to confront the horrific space of the void, he is afraid of giving himself away to the unknown. He stays within his shell.

Which is the parable of the rich poppy. The truth about him is, * See note?9, p.?66.

he grows as fast as he can, though he devours no man’s substance, because he has neither storehouse nor barn to devour them with, and neither a poppy nor a man can devour much through his own mouth. He grows as fast as he can, and from his innermost self he shuttles the red fire out, bit by bit, a little further, till he has brought it together and up to bud. There he hangs his head, hesitates, halts, reflects a moment, shrinking from the great climax when he lets off his fire. He ought to perceive now his neighbours, and to stand arrested, crying, “Alas, those poor dwindlers!” But his fire breaks out of him, and he lifts his head, slowly, subtly, tense in an ecstasy of fear overwhelmed by joy, submits to the issuing of his flame and his fire, and there it hangs at the brink of the void, scarlet and radiant for a little while, immanent on the unknown, a signal, an outpost, an advance-guard, a forlorn, splendid flag quivering from the brink of the unfathomed void, into which it flutters silently, satisfied, whilst a little ash, a little dusty seed remains behind on the solid ledge of earth.

And the day is richer for a poppy, the flame of another phoenix is filled in to the universe, something is, which was not.

That is the whole point: something is which was not. And I wish it were true of us. I wish we were all like kindled bonfires on the edge of space, marking out the advance-posts. What is the aim of self-preservation, but to carry us right out to the firing-line; there, what is is in contact with what is not. If many lives be lost by the way, it cannot be helped, nor if much suffering be entailed. I do not go out to war in the intention of avoiding all danger or discomfort: I go to fight for myself. Every step I move forward into being brings a newer, juster proportion into the world, gives me less need of storehouse and barn, allows me to leave all, and to take what I want by the way, sure that it will always be there; allows me in the end to fly the flag of myself, at the extreme tip of life.

He who would save his life must lose it. But why should he go on and waste it? Certainly let him cast it upon the waters. Whence and how and whither it will return is no matter, in terms of values. But like a poppy that has come to bud, when he reaches the shore, when he has traversed his known and come to the beach to meet the unknown, he must strip himself naked and plunge in, and pass out: if he dare. And the rest of his life he will be a stirring at the unknown, cast out upon the waters. But if he dare not plunge in, if he dare not take off his clothes and give himself naked to the flood, then let him prowl in rotten safexy, weeping for pity of those he imagines worse off than himself. He dare not weep aloud for his own cowardice. And weep he must. So he will find him objects of pity.


Containing Six Novels and the Real Tragedy This is supposed to be a book about the people in Thomas Hardy’s novels. But if one wrote everything they give rise to, it would fill the Judgment Book.

One thing about them is that none of the heroes and heroines care very much for money, or immediate self-preservation, and all of them are struggling hard to come into being. What exactly the struggle into being consists in, is the question. But most obviously, from the Wessex novels, the first and chiefest factor is the struggle into love and the struggle with love: by love, meaning the love of a man for a woman and a woman for a man. The via media to being, for man or woman, is love, and love alone. Having achieved and accomplished love, then the man passes into the unknown. He has become himself, his tale is told. Of anything that is complete there is no more tale to tell. The tale is about becoming complete, or about the failure to become complete.

It is urged against Thomas Hardy’s characters that they do unreasonable things — quite, quite unreasonable things. They are always going off unexpectedly and doing something that nobody would do. That is quite true, and the charge is amusing. These people of Wessex are always bursting suddenly out of bud and taking a wild flight into flower, always shooting suddenly out of a tight convention, a tight, hide-bound cabbage state into something quite madly personal. It would be amusing to count the number of special marriage licenses taken out in Hardy’s books. Nowhere, except perhaps in Jude, is there the slightest development of personal action in the characters: it is all explosive. Jude, however, does see more or less what he is doing, and acts from choice. He is more consecutive. The rest explode out of the convention. They are people each with a real, vital, potential self, even the apparently wishy-washy - heroines of the earlier books, and this self suddenly bursts the shell of manner and convention and commonplace opinion, and acts independently, absurdly, without mental knowledge or acquiescence.

And from such an outburst the tragedy usually develops. For there does exist, after all, the great self-preservation scheme, and in it we must all live. Now to live in it after bursting out of it was the problem these Wessex people found themselves faced with. And they never solved the problem, none of them except the comically, insufficiently treated Ethelberta.

This because they must subscribe to the system in themselves. From the more immediate claims of self-preservation they could free themselves: from money, from ambition for social success. None of the heroes or heroines of Hardy cared much for these things. But there is the greater idea of self-preservation, which is formulated in the State, in the whole modelling of the community. And from this idea, the heroes and heroines of Wessex, like the heroes and heroines of almost anywhere else, could not free themselves. In the long run, the State, the Community, the established form of life remained, remained intact and impregnable, the individual, trying to break forth from it, died of fear, of exhaustion, or of exposure to attacks from all sides, like men who have left the walled city to live outside in the precarious open,

This is the tragedy of Hardy, always the same: the tragedy of those who, more or less pioneers, have died in the wilderness, whither they had escaped for free action, after having left the walled security, and the comparative imprisonment, of the established convention. This is the theme of novel after novel: remain quite within the convention, and you are good, safe, and happy in the long run, though you never have the vivid pang of sympathy on your side: or, on the other hand, be passionate, individual, wilful, you will find the security of the convention a walled prison, you will escape, and you will die, either of your own lack of strength to bear the isolation and the exposure, or by direct revenge from the community, or from both. This is the tragedy, and only this: it is nothing more metaphysical than the division of a man against himself in such a way: first, that he is a member of the community, and must, upon his honour, in no way move to disintegrate the community, either in its moral or its practical form; second, that the convention of the community is a prison to his natural, individual desire, a desire that compels him, whether he feel justified or not, to break the bounds of the community, lands him outside the pale, there to stand alone, and say: “I was right, my desire was real and inevitable; if I was to be myself I must fulfil it, convention or no convention,” or else,

there to stand alone, doubting, and saying: “Was I right, was I wrong? If I was wrong, oh, let me diel” — in which case he courts death.

The growth and the development of this tragedy, the deeper and deeper realisation of this division and this problem, the coming towards some conclusion, is the one theme of the Wessex novels.

And therefore the books must be taken chronologically, to reveal the development and to advance towards the conclusion.

1. Desperate Remedies.

Springrove, the dull hero, fast within convention, dare not tell Cytherea that he is already engaged, and thus prepares the complication. Manston, represented as fleshily passionate, breaks the convention and commits murder, which is very extreme, under compulsion of his disire for Cytherea. He is aided by the darkly passionate, lawless Miss Aldclyffe. He and Miss Aldclyffe meet death, and Spring - rove and Cytherea are united to happiness and success.

2. Under the Greenwood Tree.

After a brief excursion from the beaten track in the pursuit of social ambition and satisfaction of the imagination, figured by the Clergyman, Fancy, the little school-mistress, returns to Dick, renounces imagination, and settles down to steady, solid, physically satisfactory married life, and all is as it should be. But Fancy will carry in her heart all her life many unopened buds that will die un - flowered; and Dick will probably have a bad time of it.

3. A Pair of Blue Eyes.

Elfride breaks down in her attempt to jump the first little hedge of convention, when she comes back after running away with Stephen. She cannot stand even a litde alone. Knight, his conventional ideas backed up by selfish instinct, cannot endure Elfride when he thinks she is not virgin, though now she loves him beyond bounds. She submits to him, and owns the conventional idea entirely right, even whilst she is innocent. An aristocrat walks off with her whilst the two men hesitate, and she, poor innocent victim of passion not vital enough to overthrow the most banal conventional ideas, lies in a bright coffin, while the three confirmed lovers mourn, and say how great the tragedy is.

4. Far from the Madding Crowd.

The unruly Bathsheba, though almost pledged to Farmer Bold - wood, a ravingly passionate, middle-aged bachelor pretendant, who has suddenly started in mad pursuit of some unreal conception of woman, personified in Bathsheba, lightly runs off and marries Ser geant Troy, an illegitimate aristocrat, unscrupulous and yet sensitive in taking his pleasures. She loves Troy, he does not love her. All the time she is loved faithfully and persistently by the good Gabriel, who is like a dog that watches the bone and bides the time. Sergeant Troy treats Bathsheba badly, never loves her, though he is the only man in the book who knows anything about her. Her pride helps her to recover. Troy is killed by Boldwood; exit the unscrupulous, but discriminative, almost cynical young soldier and the mad, middle-aged pursuer of the Fata Morgana; enter the good, steady Gabriel, who marries Bathsheba because he will make her a good husband, and the flower of imaginative first love is dead for her with Troy’s scorn of her.

5. The Hand of Ethelberta.

Ethelberta, a woman of character and of brilliant parts, sets out in pursuit of social success, finds that Julius, the only man she is inclined to love, is too small for her, hands him over to the good little Picotee, and she herself, sacrificing almost cynically what is called her heart, marries the old scoundrelly Lord Mountclerc, runs him and his estates and governs well, a sound, strong pillar of established society, now she has nipped off the bud of her heart. Moral: it is easier for the butler’s daughter to marry a lord than to find a husband with her love, if she be an exceptional woman.

The Hand of Ethelberta is the one almost cynical comedy. It marks the zenith of a certain feeling in the Wessex novels, the zenith of the feeling that the best thing to do is to kick out the craving for “Love” and substitute commonsense, leaving sentiment to the minor characters.

This novel is a shrug of the shoulders, and a last taunt to hope, it is the end of the happy endings, except where sanity and a little cynicism again appear in The Trumpet Major, to bless where they despise. It is the hard, resistant, ironical announcement of personal failure, resistant and half-grinning. It gives way to violent, angry passions and real tragedy, real killing of beloved people, self-killing. Till now, only Elfride among the beloved, has been killed; the good men have always come out on top.

6. The Return of the Native.

This is the first tragic and important novel. Eustacia, dark, wild, passionate, quite conscious of her desires and inheriting no tradition which would make her ashamed of them, since she is of a novelistic Italian birth, loves, first, the unstable Wildeve, who does not satisfy her, then casts him aside for the newly returned Clym,

whom she marries. What does she want? She does not know, but it is evidently some form of self-realisation; she wants to be herself, to attain herself. But she does not know how, by what means, so romantic imagination says, Paris and the beau monde. As if that would have stayed her unsatisfaction.

Clym has found out the vanity of Paris and the beau monde. What, then, does he want? He does not know; his imagination tells him he wants to serve the moral system of the community, since the material system is despicable. He wants to teach little Egdon boys in school. There is as much vanity in this, easily, as in Eustacia’s Paris. For what is the moral system but the ratified form of the material system? What is Clym’s altruism but a deep, very subtle cowardice, that makes him shirk his own being whilst apparently acting nobly; which makes him choose to improve mankind rather than to struggle at the quick of himself into being. He is not able to undertake his own soul, so he will take a commission for society to enlighten the souls of others. It is a subtle equivocation. Thus both Eustacia and he sidetrack from themselves, and each leaves the other unconvinced, unsatisfied, unrealised. Eustacia, because she moves outside the convention, must die; Clym, because he identified himself with the community, is transferred from Paris to preaching. He had never become an integral man, because when faced with the demand to produce himself, he remained under cover of the community and excused by his altruism.

His remorse over his mother is adulterated with sentiment; it is exaggerated by the push of tradition behind it. Even in this he does not ring true. He is always according to pattern, producing his feelings more or less on demand, according to the accepted standard. Practically never is he able to act or even feel in his original self; he is always according to the convention. His punishment is his final loss of all his original self: he is left preaching, out of sheer emptiness.

Thomasin and Venn have nothing in them turbulent enough to push them to the bounds of the convention. There is always room for them inside. They are genuine people, and they get the prize within the walls.

Wildeve, shifty and unhappy, attracted always from outside and never driven from within, can neither stand with nor without the established system. He cares nothing for it, because he is unstable, has no positive being. He is an eternal assumption.

The other victim, Clym’s mother, is the crashing-down of one of the old, rigid pillars of the system. The pressure on her is too great. She is weakened from the inside also, for her nature is non - conventional; it cannot own the bounds.

So, in this book, all the exceptional people, those with strong feelings and unusual characters, are reduced; only those remain who are steady and genuine, if commonplace. Let a man will for himself, and he is destroyed. He must will according to the established system.

The real sense of tragedy is got from the setting. What is the great, tragic power in the book? It is Egdon Heath. And who are the real spirits of the Heath? First, Eustacia, then Clym’s mother, then Wild - eve. The natives have little or nothing in common with the place.

What is the real stuff of tragedy in the book? It is the Heath. It is the primitive, primal earth, where the instinctive life heaves up. There, in the deep, rude stirring of the instincts, there was the reality that worked the tragedy. Close to the body of things, there can be heard the stir that makes us and destroys us. The heath heaved with raw instinct. Egdon, whose dark soil was strong and crude and organic as the body of a beast. Out of the body of this crude earth are born Eustacia, Wildeve, Mistress Yeobrigln, Clym, and all the others. They are one year’s accidental crop. What matters if some are drowned or dead, and others preaching or married: what matter, any more than the withering heath, the reddening berries, the seedy furze, and the dead fern of one autumn of Egdon? The Heath persists. Its body is strong and fecund, it will bear many more crops beside this. Here is the sombre, latent power that will go on producing, no matter what happens to the product. Here is the deep, black source from whence all these little contents of lives are drawn. And the contents of the small lives are spilled and wasted. There is savage satisfaction in it: for so much more remains to come, such a black, powerful fecundity is working there that what does it matter?

Three people die and are taken back into the Heath; they mingle their strong earth again with its powerful soil, having been broken off at their stem. It is very good. Not Egdon is futile, sending forth life on the powerful heave of passion. It cannot be futile, for it is eternal. What is futile is the purpose of man.

Man has a purpose which he has divorced from the passionate purpose that issued him out of the earth into being. The Heath threw forth its shaggy heather and furze and fern, clean into being. It threw forth Eustacia and Wildeve and Mistress Yeobright and Clym, but to what purpose? Eustacia thought she wanted the hats and bonnets of Paris. Perhaps she was right. The heavy, strong soil of Egdon, breeding original native beings, is under Paris as well as under Wessex, and Eustacia sought herself in the gay city. She thought life there, in Paris, would be tropical, and all her energy and passion out of Egdon would there come into handsome flower. And if Paris real had been Paris as she imagined it, no doubt she was right, and her instinct was soundly expressed. But Paris real was not Eustacia’s imagined Paris. Where was her imagined Paris, the place where her powerful nature could come to blossom? Beside some strong-passioned, unconfined man, her mate.

Which mate Clym might have been. He was born out of passionate Egdon to live as a passionate being whose strong feelings moved him ever further into being. But quite early his life became narrowed down to a small purpose: he must of necessity go into business, and submit his whole being, body and soul as well as mind, to the business and to the greater system it represented. His feelings, that should have produced the man, were suppressed and contained, he worked according to a system imposed from without. The dark struggle of Egdon, a struggle into being as the furze struggles into flower, went on in him, but could not burst the enclosure of the idea, the system which contained him. Impotent to be, he must transform himself, and live in an abstraction, in a generalization, he must identify himself with the system. He must live as Man or Humanity, or as the Community, or as Society, or as Civilization. “An inner strenuousness was preying on his outer symmetry, and they rated his look as singular. . . . His countenance was overlaid with legible meanings. Without being thought-wom, he yet had certain marks derived from a perception of his surroundings, such as are not infrequently found on man at the end of the four or five years of endeavour which follow the close of placid pupilage. He already showed that thought is a disease of the flesh, and indirectly bore evidence that ideal physical beauty is incompatible with emotional development and a full recognition of the coil of things. Mental lu - minousness must be fed with the oil of life, even if there is already a physical seed for it; and the pitiful sight of two demands on one supply was just showing itself here.”

But did the face of Clym show that thought is a disease of flesh, or merely that in his case a dis-ease, an un-ease, of flesh produced thought? One does not catch thought like a fever: one produces it. If it be in any way a disease of flesh, it is rather the rash that indicates the disease than the disease itself. The “inner strenuousness”

of Clym’s nature was not fighting against his physical symmetry, but against the limits imposed on his physical movement. By nature, as a passionate, violent product of Egdon, he should have loved and suffered in flesh and in soul from love, long before this age. He should have lived and moved and had his being, whereas he had only his business, and afterwards his inactivity. His years of pupilage were past, “he was one of whom something original was expected,” yet he continued in pupilage. For he produced nothing original in being or in act, and certainly no original thought. None of his ideas were original. Even he himself was not original. He was over-taught, had become an echo. His life had been arrested, and his activity turned into repetition. Far from being emotionally developed, he was emotionally undeveloped, almost entirely. Only his mental faculties were developed. And, hid, his emotions were obliged to work according to the label he put upon them: a ready - made label.

Yet he remained for all that an original, the force of life was in him, however much he frustrated and suppressed its natural movement. “As is usual with bright natures, the deity that lies igno - miniously chained within an ephemeral human carcass shone out of him like a ray.” But was the deity chained within his ephemeral human carcass, or within his limited human consciousness? Was it his blood, which rose dark and potent out of Egdon, which hampered and confined the deity, or was it his mind, that house built of extraneous knowledge and guarded by his will, which formed the prison?

He came back to Egdon — what for? To re-unite himself with the strong, free flow of life that rose out of Egdon as from a source? No — ”to preach to the Egdon eremites that they might rise to a serene comprehensiveness without going through the process of enriching themselves.” As if the Egdon eremites had not already far more serene comprehensiveness than ever he had himself, rooted as they were in the soil of all things, and living from the root! What did it matter how they enriched themselves, so long as they kept this strong, deep root in the primal soil, so long as their instincts moved out to action and to expression? The system was big enough for them, and had no power over their instincts. They should have taught him rather than he them.

And Egdon made him marry Eustacia. Here was action and life, here was a move into being on his part. But as soon as he got her, she became an idea to him, she had to fit in his system of ideas. Ac cording to his way of living, he knew her already, she was labelled and classed and fixed down. He had got into this way of living, and he could not get out of it. He had identified himself with the system, and he could not extricate himself. He did not know that Eustacia had her being beyond his. He did not know that she existed untouched by his system and his mind, where no system had sway and where no consciousness had risen to the surface. He did not know that she was Egdon, the powerful, eternal origin seething with production. He thought he knew. Egdon to him was the tract of common land, producing familiar rough herbage, and having some few unenlightened inhabitants. So he skated over heaven and hell, and having made a map of the surface, thought he knew all. But underneath and among his mapped world, the eternal powerful fecundity worked on heedless of him and his arrogance. His preaching, his superficiality made no difference. What did it matter if he had calculated a moral chart from the surface of life? Could that affect life, any more than a chart of the heavens affects the stars, affects the whole stellar universe which exists beyond our knowledge? Could the sound of his words affect the working of the body of Egdon, where in the unfathomable womb was begot and conceived all that would ever come forth? Did not his own heart beat far removed and immune from his thinking and talking? Had he been able to put even his own heart’s mysterious resonance upon his map, from which he charted the course of lives in his moral system? And how much more completely, then, had he left out, in utter ignorance, the dark, powerful source whence all things rise into being, whence they will always continue to rise, to struggle forward to further being? A little of the static surface he could see, and map out. Then he thought his map was the thing itself. How blind he was, how utterly blind to the tremendous movement carrying and producing the surface. He did not know that the greater part of every life is underground, like roots in the dark in contact with the beyond. He preached, chinking lives could be moved like hen-houses from here to there. His blindness indeed brought on the calamity. But what matter if Eustacia or Wildeve or Mrs. Yeobright died: what matter if he himself became a mere rattle of repetitive words — what did it matter? It was regrettable; no more. Egdon, the primal impulsive body, would go on producing all that was to be produced, eternally, though the will of man should destroy the blossom yet in bud, over and over again. At last he must learn what it is to be at one, in his mind and will, with the primal impulses that rise in him. Till then.

let him perish or preach. The great reality on which the little tragedies enact themselves cannot be detracted from. The will and words which militate against it are the only vanity.

This is a constant revelation in Hardy’s novels: that there exists a great background, vital and vivid, which matters more than the people who move upon it. Against the background of dark, passionate Egdon, of the leafy, sappy passion and sentiment of the woodlands, of the unfathomed stars, is drawn the lesser scheme of lives: The Return of the Native, The Woodlanders, or Two on a Tower. Upon the vast, incomprehensible pattern of some primal morality greater than ever the human mind can grasp, is drawn the little, pathetic pattern of man’s moral life and struggle, pathetic, almost ridiculous. The little fold of law and order, the little walled city within which man has to defend himself from the waste enormity of nature, becomes always too small, and the pioneers venturing out with the code of the walled city upon them, die in the bonds of that code, free and yet unfree, preaching the walled city and looking to the waste.

This is the wonder of Hardy’s novels, and gives them their beauty. The vast, unexplored morality of life itself, what we call the immorality of nature, surrounds us in its eternal incomprehensibility, and in its midst goes on the little human morality play, with its queer frame of morality and its mechanized movement; seriously, portentously, till some one of the protagonists chances to look out of the charmed circle, weary of the stage, to look into the wilderness raging round. Then he is lost, his little drama falls to pieces, or becomes mere repetition, but the stupendous theatre outside goes on enacting its own incomprehensible drama, untouched. There is this quality in almost all Hardy’s work, and this is the magnificent irony it all contains, the challenge, the contempt. Not the deliberate ironies, little tales of widows or widowers, contain the irony of human life as we live it in our self-aggrandized gravity, but the big novels, The Return of the Native, and the others.

And this is the quality Hardy shares with the great writers, Shakespeare or Sophocles or Tolstoi, this setting behind the small action of his protagonists the terrific action of unfathomed nature; setting a smaller system of morality, the one grasped and formulated by the human consciousness within the vast, uncomprehended and incomprehensible morality of nature or of life itself, surpassing human consciousness. The difference is, that whereas in Shakespeare or Sophocles the greater, uncomprehended morality, or fate, is ac tively transgressed and gives active punishment, in Hardy and Tolstoi the lesser, human morality, the mechanical system is actively transgressed, and holds, and punishes the protagonist, whilst the greater morality is only passively, negatively transgressed, it is represented merely as being present in background, in scenery, not taking any active part, having no direct connection with the protagonist. CEdipus, Hamlet, Macbeth set themselves up against, or find themselves set up against, the unfathomed moral forces of nature, and out of this unfathomed force comes their death. Whereas Anna Kare - nina, Eustacia, Tess, Sue, and Jude find themselves up against the established system of human government and morality, they cannot detach themselves, and are brought down. Their real tragedy is that they are unfaithful to the greater unwritten morality, which would have bidden Anna Karenina be patient and wait until she, by virtue of greater right, could take what she needed from society; would have bidden Vronsky detach himself from the system, become an individual, creating a new colony of morality with Anna; would have bidden Eustacia fight Clym for his own soul, and Tess take and claim her Angel, since she had the greater light; would have bidden Jude and Sue endure for very honour’s sake, since one must bide by the best that one has known, and not succumb to the lesser good.

Had CEdipus, Hamlet, Macbeth been weaker, less full of real, potent life, they would have made no tragedy; they would have comprehended and contrived some arrangement of their affairs, sheltering in the human morality from the great stress and attack of the unknown morality. But being, as they are, men to the fullest capacity, when they find themselves, daggers drawn, with the very forces of life itself, they can only fight till they themselves are killed, since the morality of life, the greater morality, is eternally unalterable and invincible. It can be dodged for some time, but not opposed. On the other hand, Anna, Eustacia, Tess or Sue — what was there in their position that was necessarily tragic? Necessarily painful it was, but they were not at war with God, only with Society. Yet they were all cowed by the mere judgment of man upon them, and all the while by their own souls they were right. And the judgment of men killed them, not the judgment of their own souls or the judgment of Eternal God.

Which is the weakness of modern tragedy, where transgression against the social code is made to bring destruction, as though the social code worked our irrevocable fate. Like Clym, the map appears to us more real than the land. Shortsighted almost to blindness, we pore over the chart, map out journeys, and confirm them: and we cannot see life itself giving us the lie the whole time.


An Attack on Work and the Money Appetite and on the State

There is always excess, the biologists say, a brimming-over. For they have made the measure, and the supply must be made to fit. They have charted the course, and if at the end of it there is a jump beyond the bounds into nothingness: well, there is always excess, for they have charted the journey aright.

There is always excess, a brimming-over. At spring-time a bird brims over with blue and yellow, a glow-worm brims over with a drop of green moonshine, a lark flies up like heady wine, with song, an errand-boy whistles down the road, and scents brim over the measure of the flower. Then we say, It is spring.

When is a glow-worm a glow-worm? When she’s got a light on her tail. What is she when she hasn’t got a light on her tail? Then she’s a mere worm, an insect.

When is a man a man? When he is alight with life. Call it excess? If it is missing, there is no man, only a creature, a clod, undistinguished.

With man it is always spring — or it may be; with him every day is a blossoming day, if he will. He is a plant eternally in flower, he is an animal eternally in rut, he is a bird eternally in song. He has his excess constantly on his hands, almost every day. It is not with him a case of seasons, spring and autumn and winter. And happy man if his excess come out in blue and gold and singing, if it be not like the paste rose on the pie, a burden, at last a very sickness.

The wild creatures are like fountains whose sources gather their waters until spring-time, when they leap their highest. But man is a fountain that is always playing, leaping, ebbing, sinking, and springing up. It is not for him to gather his waters till spring-time, when his fountain, rising higher, can at last flow out flower-wise in mid-air, teeming awhile with excess, before it falls spent again.

His rhythm is not so simple. A pleasant little stream of life is a bud at autumn and winter, fluttering in flocks over the stubble, the fallow, rustling along. Till spring, when many waters rush in to the sources, and each bird is a fountain playing.

Man, fortunate or unfortunate, is rarely like an autumn bird, to enjoy his pleasant stream of life flowing at ease. Some men are like that, fortunate and delightful. But those men or women will not read this book. Why should they?

The sources of man’s life are ovet-full, they receive more than they give out. And why? Because a man is a well-head built over a strong, perennial spring and enclosing it in, a well-head whence the water may be drawn at will, and under which the water may be held back indefinitely. Sometimes, and in certain ways, according to certain rules, the source may bubble and spring out, but only at certain times, always under control. And the fountain cannot always bide for the permission, the suppressed waters strain at the well-head, and hence so much sadness without cause. Weltschmerz and other unrealised pains, where the source presses for utterance.

And how is it given utterance? In sheer play of being free? That cannot be. It shall be given utterance in work, the conscious mind has unanimously decreed. And the door is held holy. My life is to be utilized for work, first and foremost — and this in spite of Mary of Bethany.

Only, or very largely, in the work I do, must I live, must my life take movement. And why do I work? To eat — is the original answer. When I have earned enough to eat, what then? Work for more, to provide for the future. And when I have provided for the future? Work for more to provide for the poor. And when I have worked to provide for the poor, what then? Keep on working, the poor are never provided for, the poor have ye always with you.

That is the best that man has been able to do.

But what a ghastly programme! I do not want to work. You must, comes the answer. But nobody wants to work, originally. Yet everybody works, because he must — it is repeated. And what when he is not working? Let him rest and amuse himself, and get ready for tomorrow morning.

Oh, my God, work is the great body of life, and sleep and amusement like two wings, bent only to carry it along. Is this, then, all?

And Carlyle gets up and says, It is all, and mankind goes on in grim, serious approval, more than acquiescent, approving, thinking itself religiously right.

But let us pull the tail out of the mouth of this serpent. Eternity is not a process of eternal self-inglutination. We must work to eat, and eat to work — that is how it is given out. But the real problem is quite different. “We must work to eat, and eat to — what?” Don’: say “work,” it is so unoriginal.

In Nottingham we boys began learning German by learning proverbs. “Mann muss essen um zu leben, aber Mann muss nicht leben um zu essen,” was the first. “One must eat to live, but one must not live to eat.” A good German proverb according to the lesson-book. Starting a step further back, it might be written, “One must work to eat, but one must not eat to work.” Surely that is just, because the second proverb says, “One must eat to live.”

“One must work to eat, and eat to live,” is the result.

Take this vague and almost uninterpretable word “living.” To how great a degree are “to work” and “to live” synonymous? That is the question to answer, when the highest flight that our thought can take, for the sake of living, is to say that we must return to the medieval system of handicrafts, and that each man must become a labouring artist, producing a complete article.

Work is, simply, the activity necessary for the production of a sufficient supply of food and shelter: nothing more holy than that. It is the producing of the means of self-preservation. Therefore it is obvious that it is not the be-all and the end-all of existence. We work to provide means of subsistence, and when we have made provision, we proceed to live. But all work is only the making provision for that which is to follow.

It may be argued that work has a fuller meaning, that man lives most intensely when he works. That may be, for some few men, for some few artists whose lives are otherwise empty. But for the mass, for the 99.9 per cent of mankind, work is a form of non-living, of non-existence, of submergence.

It is necessary to produce food and clothing. Then, under necessity, the thing must be done as quickly as possible. Is not the highest recommendation for a labourer the fact that he is quick? And how does any man become quick, save through finding the shortest way to his end, and by repeating one set of actions? A man who can repeat certain movements accurately is an expert, if his movements are those which produce the required result.

And these movements are the calculative or scientific movements of a machine. When a man is working perfectly, he is the perfect machine. Aware of certain forces, he moves accurately along the line of their resultant. The perfect machine does the same.

All work is like this, the approximation to a perfect mechanism more or less intricate and adjustable. The doctor, the teacher, the lawyer, just as much as the farm labourer or the mechanic, when working most perfectly, is working with the utmost of mechanical, scientific precision, along a line calculated from known fact, calculated instantaneously.

In this work, man has a certain definite, keen satisfaction. When he is utterly impersonal, when he is merely the mode where certain mechanical forces meet to find their resultant, then a man is something perfect, the perfect instrument, the perfect machine.

It is a state which, in his own line, every man strives and longs for. It is a state which satisfies his moral craving, almost the deepest craving within him. It is a state when he lies in line with the great force of gravity, partakes perfectly of its subtlest movement and motion, even to psychic vibration.

But it is a state which every man hopes for release from. The dream of every man is that in the end he shall have to work no more. The joy of every man is, when he is released from his labour, having done his share for the time being.

What does he want to be released from, and what does he want to be released unto? A man is not a machine: when he has finished work, he is not motionless, inert. He begins a new activity. And what?

It seems to me as if a man, in his normal state, were like a palpitating leading-shoot of life, where the unknown, all unresolved, beats and pulses, containing the quick of all experience, as yet un - revealed, not singled out. But when he thinks, when he moves, he is retracing some proved experience. He is as the leading-shoot which, for the moment, remembers only that which is behind, the fixed wood, the cells conducting towards their undifferentiated tissue of life. He moves as it were in the trunk of the tree, in the channels long since built, where the sap must flow as in a canal. He takes knowledge of all this past experience upon which the new tip rides quivering, he becomes again the old life, which has built itself out in the fixed tissue, he lies in line with the old movement, unconscious of where it breaks, at the growing plasm, into something new, unknown. He is happy, all is known, all is finite, all is established, and knowledge can be perfect here in the trunk of the tree, which life built up and climbed beyond.

Such is a man at work, safe within the proven, deposited experience, thrilling as he traverses the fixed channels and courses of life; he is only matter of some of the open ways which life laid down for its own passage; he has only made himself one with what has been, travelling the old, fixed courses, through which life still passe:, but which are not in themselves living.

And in the end, this is always a prison to him, this proven, deposited experience which he must explore, this past of life. For is he not in himself a growing tip, is not his own body a quivering plasm of what will be, and has never yet been? Is not his own soul a fighting-line, where what is and what will be separates itself off from what has been? Is not this his purest joy of movement, the indistinguishable, complex movement of being? And is not this his deepest desire, to be himself, to be this quivering bud of growing tissue which he is? He may find knowledge by retracing the old courses, he may satisfy his moral sense by working within the known, certain of what he is doing. But for real, utter satisfaction, he must give himself up to complete quivering uncertainty, to sentient non - knowledge.

And this is why man is always crying out for freedom, to be free. He wants to be free to be himself. For this reason he has always made a heaven where no work need be done, where to be is all, where to be comprises all that has been done, is perfect knowledge, and where that which will be done is so swift as to be a sleep, a Nirvana, an absorption.

So there is this deepest craving of all, to be free from the necessity to work. It is obvious in all mankind. “Must I become one with the old, habitual movements?” says man. “I must, to satisfy myself that the new is new and the old is old, that all is one like a tree, though I am no more than the tiniest cell in the tree.” So he becomes one with the old, habitual movement: he is the perfect machine, the perfect instrument: he works. But, satisfied for the time being of that which has been and remains now finite, he wearies for his own limitless being, for the unresolved, quivering, infinitely complex and indefinite movement of new living, he wants to be free.

And ever, as his knowledge of what is past becomes greater, he wants more and more liberty to be himself. There is the necessity for self-preservation, the necessity to submerge himself in the utter mechanical movement. But why so much: why repeat so often the mechanical movement? Let me not have so much of this work to do, let me not be consumed overmuch in my own self-preservation, let me not be imprisoned in this proven, finite experience all my days.

This has been the cry of humanity since the world began. This is the glamour of kings, the glamour of men who had opportunity to be, who were not under compulsion to do, to serve. This is why kings were chosen heroes, because they were the beings, the producers of new life, not servants of necessity, repeating old experience.

And humanity has laboured to make work shorter, so we may all be kings. True, we have the necessity to work, more or less, according as we are near the growing tip, or further away. Some men are far from the growing tip. They have little for growth in them, only the power for repeating old movement. They will always find their own level. But let those that have life, live.

So there has been produced machinery, to take the place of the human machine. And the inventor of the labour-saving machine has been hailed as a public benefactor, and we have rejoiced over his discovery. Now there is a railing against the machine, as if it were an evil thing. And the thinkers talk about the return to the medieval system of handicrafts. Which is absurd.

As I look round this room, at the bed, at the counterpane, at the books and chairs and the little bottles, and think that machines made them, I am glad. I am very glad of the bedstead, of the white enamelled iron with brass rail. As it stands, I rejoice over its essential simplicity. I would not wish it different. Its lines are straight and parallel, or at right angles, giving a sense of static motionless - ness. Only that which is necessary is there, whittled down to the minimum. There is nothing to hurt me or to hinder me; my wish for something to serve my purpose is perfectly fulfilled.

Which is what a machine can do. It can provide me with the perfect mechanical instrument, a thing mathematically and scientifically correct. Which is what I want. I like the books, on the whole, I can scarcely imagine them more convenient to me, I like the common green-glass smelling-salts, and the machine-turned feet of the common chest of drawers. I hate the machine-carving on a chair, and the stamped pattern on a rug. But I have no business to ask a machine to make beautiful things for me. I can ask it for perfect accommodating utensils or articles of use, and I shall get them.

Wherefore I do honour to the machine and to its inventor. It will produce what we want, and save us the necessity of much labour. Which is what it was invented for.

But to what pitiable misuse is it put! Do we use the machine to produce goods for our need, or is it used as a muck-rake for raking together heaps of money? Why, when man, in his godly effort, has produced a means to freedom, do we make it a means to more slavery?

Why? — because the heart of man is crude and greedy. Why is a labourer willing to work ten hours a day for a mere pittance? Because he is serving a system for the enrichment of the individual, a system to which he subscribes, because he might himself be that individual, and, since his one ideal is to be rich, he owes his allegiance to the system established for the raking of riches into heaps, a system that satisfies his imagination. Why try to alter the present industrial system on behalf of the working-man, when his imagination is satisfied only by such a system?

The poor man and the rich, they are the head and tail of the same penny. Stand them naked side by side, and which is better than the other? The rich man, probably, for he is likely to be the sadder and the wiser.

The universal ideal, the one conscious ideal of the poor people, is riches. The only hope lies in those people, who, in fact or imagination, have experienced wealth, and have appetites accordingly.

It is not true, that, before we can get over our absorbing passion to be rich, we must each one of us know wealth. There are sufficient people with sound imagination and normal appetite to put away the whole money tyranny of England today.

There is no evil in money. If there were a million pounds under my bed, and I did not know of it, it would make no difference to me. If there were a million pounds under my bed, and I did know of it, it would make a difference, perhaps, to the form of my life, but to the living me, and to my individual purpose, it could make no difference, since I depend neither on riches nor on poverty for my being.

Neither poverty nor riches obsesses me. I would not be like a begging friar to forswear all owing and having. For I would not admit myself so weak that either I must abstain totally from wealth, or succumb to the passion for possessions.

Have I not a normal money appetite, as I have a normal appetite for food? Do I want to kill a hundred bison, to satisfy the imaginative need of my stomach, as the Red Indian did? Then why should I want a thousand pounds, when ten are enough? “Thy eyes are bigger than thy belly,” says the mother of the child who takes more than he can eat. “Your pocket is bigger than your breeches,” one could say to a man greedy to get rich.

It is only greediness. But it is very wearisome. There are plenty of people who are not greedy, who have normal money appetites. They need a certain amount, and they know they need it. It is no honour to be a pauper. It is only decent that every man should have enough and a little to spare, and every self-respecting man will see he gets it. But why can’t we really grow up, and become adult with regard to money as with regard to food? Why can’t we know when we have enough, as we know when we have had enough to eat?

We could, of course, if we had any real sense of values. It is all very well to leave, as Christianity tries to leave, the dinner to be devoured by the glutton, whilst the Christian draws off in disgust, and fasts. But we each have our place at the board, as we well know, and it is indecent to withdraw before the glutton, leaving the earth to be devoured.

Can we not stay at the board? We must eat to live. And living is not simply not-dying. It is the only real thing, it is the aim and end of all life. Work is only a means to subsistence. The work done, the living earned, how then to go on to enjoy it, to fulfil it, that is the question. How shall a man live? What do we mean by living?

Let every man answer for himself. We only know, we want the freedom to live, the freedom of leisure and means. But there are ample means, there is half ah eternity of pure leisure for mankind to take, if he would, if he did not think, at the back of his mind, that riches are the means of freedom. Riches would be the means of freedom, if there were no poor, if there were equal riches everywhere. Till then, riches and poverty alike are bonds and prisons, for every man must live in the ring of his own defences, to defend his property. And this ring is the surest of prisons.

So cannot we see, rich and poor alike, how we have circumscribed, hampered, imprisoned ourselves within the limits of our poor-and - rich system, till our life is utterly pot-bound? It is not that some of us want more money and some of us less. It is that our money is like walls between us, we are immured in gold, and we die of starvation or etiolation.

A plant has strength to burst its pot. The shoots of London trees have force to burst through the London pavements. Is there not life enough in us to break out of this system? Let every man take his own, and go his own way, regardless of system and State, when his hour comes. Which is greater, the State or myself? Myself, unquestionably, since the State is only an arrangement made for my convenience. If it is not convenient for me, I must depart from it. There js no need to break laws. The only need is to be a law unto oneself.

And if sufficient people came out of the walled defences, an^ pitched in the open, then very soon the walled city would be a mere dependent on the free tents of the wilderness. Why should we care about bursting the city walls? We can walk through the gates into the open world. Those State educations with their ideals, their armaments of aggression and defence, what are they to me? They must fight out their own fates. As for me, I would say to every decent man whose heart is straining at the enclosure, “Come away from the crowd and the community, come away and be separate in your own soul, and live. Your business is to produce your own real life, no matter what the nations do. The nations are made up of individual men, each man will know at length that he must single himself out, nor remain any longer embedded in the matrix of his nation, or community, or class. Our time has come; let us draw apart. Let the physician heal himself.”

And outside, what will it matter save that a man is a man, is himself? If he must work, let him work a few hours a day, a very few, whether it be at wheeling bricks, or shovelling coal into a furnace, or tending a machine. Let him do his work, according to his kind, for some three or four hours a day. That will produce supplies in ample sufficiency. Then let him have twenty hours for being himself, for producing himself.


Work and the Angel and the Unbegotten Hero

It is an inherent passion, this will to work, it is a craving to produce, to create, to be as God. Man turns his back on the unknown, on that which is yet to be, he turns his face towards that which has been, and he sees, he rediscovers, he becomes again that which has been before. But this time he is conscious, he knows what he is doing. He can at will reproduce the movement life made in its initial passage, the movement life still makes, and will continue to make, as a habit, the movement already made so unthinkably often that rather than a movement it has become a state, a condition of all hfe: it has become matter, or the force of gravity, or cohesion, or heat. or light. These old, old habits of life man rejoices to rediscover »n all their detail.

Long, long ago life first rolled itself into seed, and fell to earth, and covered itself up with soil, slowly. And long, long ago man discovered the process, joyfully, and, in this wise as God, repeated it. He found out how soil is shifted. Proud as a needy God, he dug the ground, and threw the little, silent fragments of life under the dust. And was he not doing what life itself had initiated, was he not, in this particular, even greater than life, more definite?

Still further back, in an unthinkable period long before chaos, life formed the habit we call gravitation. This was almost before any differentiation, before all those later, lesser habits, which we call matter or such a thing as centrifugal force, were formed.* It was a habit of the great mass of life, not of any part in particular. Therefore it took man’s consciousness much longer to apprehend, and even now we have only some indications of it, from various parts. But we rejoice in that which we know. Long, long ago, one surface of matter learned to roll on a rolling motion across another surface, as the tide rolls up the land. And long ago man saw this motion, and learned a secret, and made the wheel, and rejoiced.

So, facing both ways, like Janus, face forward, in the quivering, glimmering fringe of the unresolved, facing the unknown, and looking backward over the vast rolling tract of life which follows and represents the initial movement, man is given up to his dual business, of being, in blindness and wonder and pure godliness, the living stuff of life itself, unrevealed; and of knowing, with unwearying labour and unceasing success, the manner of that which has been, which is revealed.

And work is the repetition of some one of those rediscovered movements, the enacting of some part imitated from life, the attaining of a similar result as life attained. And this, even if it be only shovelling coal onto a fire, or hammering nails into a shoe-sole, or making accounts in ledgers, is what work is, and in this lies the initial satisfaction of labour. The motive of labour, that of obtaining wages, is only the overcoming of inertia. It is not the real driving force. When necessity alone compels man, from moment to moment, to work, then man rebels and dies. The driving force is the pleasure in doing something, the living will to work.

And man must always struggle against the necessity to work, though the necessity to work is one of the inevitable conditions of man’s existence. And no man can continue in any piece of work, out of sheer necessity, devoid of any essential pleasure in that work.

It seems as if the great aim and purpose in human life were to * See note zo, p.?66.

bring all life into the human consciousness. And this is the final meaning of work: the extension of human consciousness. The lesser meaning of work is the achieving of self-preservation. From this lesser, immediate necessity man always struggles to be free. From the other, greater necessity, of extending the human consciousness, man does not struggle to be free.

And to the immediate necessity for self-preservation man must concede, but always having in mind the other, greater necessity, to which he would hasten.

But the bringing of life into human consciousness is not an aim in itself, it is only a necessary condition of the progress of life itself. Man is himself the vivid body of life, rolling glimmering against the void. In his fullest living he does not know what he does, his mind, his consciousness, unacquaint, hovers behind, full of extraneous gleams and glances, and altogether devoid of knowledge. Altogether devoid of knowledge and conscious motive is he when he is heaving into uncreated space, when he is actually living, becoming himself.

And yet, that he may go on, may proceed with his living, it is necessary that his mind, his consciousness, should extend behind him. The mind itself is one of life’s later-developed habits. To know is a force, like any other force. Knowledge is only one of the conditions of this force, as combustion is one of the conditions of heat. To will is only a manifestation of the same force, as expansion may be a manifestation of heat. And this knowing is now an inevitable habit of life’s, developed late; it is a force active in the immediate rear of life, and the greater its activity, the greater the forward, unknown movement ahead of it.

It seems as though one of the conditions of life is, that life shall continually and progressively differentiate itself, almost as though this differentiation were a Purpose. Life starts crude and unspecified, a great Mass. And it proceeds to evolve out of that mass ever more distinct and definite particular forms, an ever-multiplying number of separate species and orders, as if it were working always to the production of the infinite number of perfect individuals, the individual so thorough that he should have nothing in common with any other individual. It is as if all coagulation must be loosened, as if the elements must work themselves free and pure from the compound.

Man’s consciousness, that is, his mind, his knowledge, is his greater manifestation of individuality. With his consciousness he can per ceive and know that which is not himself. The further he goes, the more extended his consciousness, the more he realises the things that are not himself. Everything he perceives, everything he knows, everything he feels, is something extraneous to him, is not himself, and his perception of it is like a cell-wall, or more, a real space separating him. I see a flower, because it is not me. I know a melody, because it is not me. I feel cold, because it is not me. I feel joy when I kiss, because it is not me, the kiss, but rather one of the bounds or limits where I end. But the kiss is a closer division of me from the mass than a sense of cold or heat. It whittles the more keenly naked from the gross.

And the more that I am driven from admixture, the more I am singled out into utter individuality, the more this intrinsic me rejoices. For I am as yet a gross impurity, I partake of everything. I am still rudimentary, part of a great, unquickened lump.

In the origin, life must have been uniform, a great, unmoved, utterly homogeneous infinity, a great not-being, at once a positive and negative infinity: the whole universe, the whole infinity, one motionless homogeneity, a something, a nothing. And yet it can never have been utterly homogeneous: mathematically, yes; actually, no. There must always have been some reaction, infinitesimally faint, stirring somehow through the vast, homogeneous inertia.

And since the beginning, the reaction has become extended and intensified; what was one great mass of individual constituency has stirred and resolved itself into many smaller, characteristic parts; what was an utter, infinite neutrality, has become evolved into still rudimentary, but positive, orders and species. So on and on till we get to naked jelly, and from naked jelly to enclosed and separated jelly, from homogeneous tissue to organic tissue, on and on, from invertebrates to mammals, from mammals to man, from man to tribesman, from tribesman to me: and on and on, till, in the future, wonderful, distinct individuals, like angels, move about, each one being himself, perfect as a complete melody or a pure colour.

Now one craves that his life should be more individual, that I and you and my neighbour should each be distinct in clarity from each other, perfectly distinct from the general mass. Then it would be a melody if I walked down the road; if I stood with my neighbour, it would be a pure harmony.

Could I, then, being my perfect self, be selfish? A selfish person is an impure person, one who wants that which is nqt himself. Selfishness implies admixture, grossness, unclarity of being. How can I,

a pure person incapable of being anything but myself, detract from my neighbour? That which is mine is singled out to me from the mass, and to each man is left his own. And what can any man want for, except that which is his own, if he be himself? If he have that which is not his own, it is a burden, he is not himself. And how can I help my neighbour except by being utterly myself? That gives him into himself: which is the greatest gift a man can receive.

And necessarily accompanying this more perfect being of myself is the more extended knowledge of that which is not myself. That is, the finer, more distinct the individual, the more finely and distinctly is he aware of all other individuality. It needs a delicate, pure soul to distinguish between the souls of others; it needs a thing which is purely itself to see other things in their purity or their impurity.

Yet in life, so often, one feels that a man. who is, by nature, intrinsically an individual, is by practice and knowledge an impurity, almost a nonentity. To each individuality belongs, by nature, its own knowledge. It would seem as if each soul, detaching itself from the mass, the matrix, should achieve its own knowledge. Yet this is not so. Many a soul which we feel should have detached itself and become distinct, remains embedded, and struggles with knowledge that does not pertain to it. It reached a point of distinctness and a degree of personal knowledge, and then became confused, lost itself.

And then, it sought for its whole being in work. By re-enacting some old movement of life’s, a struggling soul seeks to detach itself, to become pure. By gathering all the knowledge possible, it seeks to receive the stimulus which shall help it to continue to distinguish itself.

“Ye must be born again,” it is said to us. Once we are born, detached from the flesh and blood of our parents, issued separate, as distinct creatures. And later on, the incomplete germ which is a young soul must be fertilized, the parent womb which encloses the incomplete individuality must conceive, and we must be brought forth to ourselves, distinct. This is at the age of twenty or thirty.

And we, who imagine we live by knowledge, imagine that the ‘mpetus for our second birth must come from knowledge, that the germ, the sperm impulse, can come out of some utterance only. So, when I am young, at eighteen, twenty, twenty-three, when the anguish of desire comes upon me, as I lie in the womb of my times, to receive the quickening, the impetus, I send forth all my calls and call hither and thither, asking for the Word, the Word which is the spermatozoon which shall come and fertilize me and set me free. And it may be the word, the idea exists which shall bring me forth, give me birth. But it may also be that the word, the idea, has never yet been uttered.

Shall I, then, be able, with all the knowledge in the world, to produce my being, if the knowledge be not extant? I shall not.

And yet we believe that only the Uttered Word can come into us and give us the impetus to our second birth. Give us a religion, give us something to believe in, cries the unsatisfied soul embedded in the womb of our times. Speak the quickening word, it cries, that will deliver us into our own being.

So it searches out the Spoken Word, and finds it, or finds it not. Possibly it is not yet uttered. But all that will be uttered lies potent in life. The fools do not know this. They think the fruit of knowledge is found only in shops. They will go anywhere to find it, save to the Tree. Fqr the Tree is so obvious, and seems so played out.

Therefore the unsatisfied soul remains unsatisfied, and chooses Work, maybe Good Works, for its incomplete action. It thinks that in work it has being, in knowledge it has gained its distinct self.

Whereas all amount of clumsy distinguishing ourselves from other things will not make us thus become ourselves, and all amount of repeating even the most complex motions of life will not produce one new motion.

We start the wrong way round: thinking, by learning what we are not, to know what we as individuals are: whereas the whole of the human consciousness contains, as we know, not a tithe of what is, and therefore it is hopeless to proceed by a method of elimination; and thinking, by discovering the motion life has made, to be able therefrom to produce the motion it will make: whereas we know that, in life, the new motion is not the resultant of the old, but something quite new, quite other, according to our perception.

So we struggle mechanically, unformed, unbegotten, unborn, repeating some old process of life, unable to become ourselves, unable to produce anything new.

Looking over the Hardy novels, it is interesting to see which of the heroes one would call a distinct individuality, more or less achieved, which an unaccomplished potential individuality, and which an impure, unindividualised life embedded in the matrix, either achieving its own lower degree of distinction, or not achieving it.

In Desperate Remedies there are scarcely any people at all, particularly when the plot is working. The tiresome part about Hardy is that, so often, he will neither write a morality play nor a novel. The people of the first book, as far as the plot is concerned, are not people: they are the heroine, faultless and white; the hero, with a small spot on his whiteness; the villainess, red and black, but more red than black; the villain, black and red; the Murderer, aided by the Adulteress, obtains power over the Virgin, who, rescued at the last moment by the Virgin Knight, evades the evil clutch. Then the Murderer, overtaken by vengeance, is put to death, whilst Divine Justice descends upon the Adulteress. Then the Virgin unites with the Virgin Knight, and receives Divine Blessing.

That is a morality play, and if the morality were vigorous and original, all well and good. But, between-whiles, we see that the Virgin is being played by a nice, rather ordinary girl.

In The Laodicean, there is all the way through a predilection d’artiste for the aristocrat, and all the way through a moral condemnation of him, a substituting the middle or lower-class personage with bourgeois virtues into his place. This was the root of Hardy’s pessimism. Not until he comes to Tess and Jude does he ever sympathize with the aristocrat — unless it be in The Mayor of Casterbridge, and then he sympathizes only to slay. He always, always represents them the same, as having some vital weakness, some radical ineffectuality. From first to last it is the same.

Miss Aldclyffe and Manston, Elfride and the sickly lord she married, Troy and Farmer Boldwood, Eustacia Vye and Wildeve, de Stancy in The Laodicean, Lady Constantine in Two on a Tower, the Mayor of Casterbridge and Lucetta, Mrs. Charmond and Dr. Fitzpiers in The Woodlanders, Tess and Alec d’Urberville, and, though different, Jude. There is also the blond, passionate, yielding man: Sergeant Troy, Wildeve, and, in spirit, Jude.

These are all, in their way, the aristocrat-characters of Hardy. They must every one die, every single one.

Why has Hardy this predilection d’artiste for the aristocrat, and why, at the same time, this moral antagonism to him?

It is fairly obvious in The Laodicean, a book where, the spirit being small, the complaint is narrow. The heroine, the daughter a famous railway engineer, lives in the castle of the old de Stancys. She sighs, wishing she were of the de Stancy line: the tombs and portraits have a spell over her. “But,” says the hero to her, have you forgotten your father’s line of ancestry: Archimedes, New - comen, Watt, Tylford, Stephenson?” — ”But I have a predilection d’artiste for ancestors of the other sort,” sighs Paula. And the hero despairs of impressing her with the list of his architect ancestors: Phidias, Ictinus and Callicrates, Chersiphron, Vitruvius, Wilars of Cambray, William of Wykeham. He deplores her marked preference for an “animal pedigree.”

But what is this “animal pedigree”? If a family pedigree of her ancestors, working-men and burghers, had been kept, Paula would not have gloried in it, animal though it were. Hers was a predilection d’artiste.

And this because the aristocrat alone has occupied a position where he could afford to be, to be himself, to create himself, to live as himself. That is his eternal fascination. This is why the preference for him is a predilection d’artiste. The preference for the architect line would be a predilection de savant, the preference for the engineer pedigree would be a predilection d’economiste.

The predilection d’artiste — Hardy has it strongly, and it is rooted deeply in every imaginative human being. The glory of mankind has been to produce lives, to produce vivid, independent, individual men, not buildings or engineering works or even art, not even the public good. The glory of mankind is not in a host of secure, comfortable, law-abiding citizens, but in the few more fine, clear lives, beings, individuals, distinct, detached, single as may be from the public.

And these the artist of all time has chosen. Why, then, must the aristocrat always be condemned to death, in Hardy? Has the community come to consciousness in him, as in the French Revolutionaries, determined to destroy all that is not the average? Certainly in the Wessex novels, all but the average people die. But why? Is there the germ of death in these more single, distinguished people, or has the artist himself a bourgeois taint, a jealous vindictive - ness that will now take revenge, now that the community, the average, has gained power over the aristocrat, the exception?

It is evident that both is true. Starting with the bourgeois morality, Hardy makes every exceptional person a villain, all exceptional or strong individual traits he holds up as weaknesses or wicked faults. So in Desperate Remedies, Under the Greenwood Tree, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Hand of Ethelberta, The Return of the Native (but in The Trumpet-Major there is an ironical dig in the ribs to this civic communal morality), The Laodicean, Two on a Tower, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Tess, in steadily weakening degree. The blackest villain is Manston, the next, perhaps, Troy, the next Eustacia, and Wildeve, always becoming less villainous and more human. The first show of real sympathy, nearly conquering the bourgeois or commune morality, is for Eustacia, whilst the dark villain is becoming merely a weak, pitiable person in Dr. Fitzpiers. In The Mayor of Casterbridge the dark villain is already almost the hero. There is a lapse in the maudlin, weak but not wicked Dr. Fitzpiers, duly condemned, Alec d’Urberville is not unlikable, and Jude is a complete tragic hero, at once the old Virgin Knight and Dark Villain. The condemnation gradually shifts over from the dark villain to the blond bourgeois virgin hero, from Alec d’Urberville to Angel Clare, till in Jude they are united and loved, though the preponderance is of a dark villain, now dark, beloved, passionate hero. The condemnation shifts over at last from the dark villain to the white virgin, the bourgeois in soul: from Arabella to Sue. Infinitely more subtle and sad is the condemnation at the end, but there it is: the virgin knight is hated with intensity, yet still loved; the white virgin, the beloved, is the arch-sinner against life at last, and the last note of hatred is against her.

It is a complete and devastating shift-over, it is a complete volte - face of moralities. Black does not become white, but it takes white’s place as good; white remains white, but it is found bad. The old, communal morality is like a leprosy, a white sickness: the old, antisocial, individualist morality is alone on the side of life and health.

But yet, the aristocrat must die, all the way through: even Jude. Was the germ of death in him at the start? Or was he merely at outs with his times, the times of the Average in triumph? Would Manston, Troy, Farmer Boldwood, Eustacia, de Stancy, Henchard, Alec d’Urberville, Jude have been real heroes in heroic times, without tragedy? It seems as if Manston, Boldwood, Eustacia, Henchard, Alec d’Urberville, and almost Jude, might have been. In an heroic age they might have lived and more or less triumphed. But Troy, Wildeve, de Stancy, Fitzpiers, and Jude have something fatal in them. There is a rottenness at the core of them. The failure, the misfortune, or the tragedy, whichever it may be, was inherent in them: as it was in Elfride, Lady Constantine, Marty South in The Woodlanders, and Tess. They have all passionate natures, and in them all failure is inherent.

So that we have, of men, the noble Lord in A Pair of Blue Eyes,

Sergeant Troy, Wildeve, de Stancy, Fitzpiers, and Jude, all passionate, aristocratic males, doomed by their very being, to tragedy, or to misfortune in the end.

Of the same class among women are Elfride, Lady Constantine, Marty South, and Tess, all aristocratic, passionate, yet necessarily unfortunate females.

We have also, of men, Manston, Farmer Boldwood, Henchard, Alec d’Urberville, and perhaps Jude, all passionate, aristocratic males, who fell before the weight of the average, the lawful crowd, but who, in more primitive times, would have formed romantic rather than tragic figures.

Of women in the same class are Miss Aldclyffe, Eustacia, Lucetta, Mrs. Chaimond.

The third class, of bourgeois or average hero, whose purpose is to live and have his being in the community, contains the successful hero of Desperate Remedies, the unsuccessful but not’ very much injured two heroes of A Pair of Blue Eyes, the successful Gabriel Oak, the unsuccessful, left-preaching Clym, the unsuccessful but not very much injured astronomer of Two on a Tower, the successful Scotchman of Casterbridge, the unsuccessful and expired Giles Winter - borne of The Woodlanders, the arch-type, Angel Clare, and perhaps a little of Jude.

The companion women to these men are: the heroine of Desperate Remedies, Bathsheba, Thomasin, Paula, Henchard’s daughter, Grace in The Woodlanders, and Sue.

This, then, is the moral conclusion drawn from the novels:

j. The physical individual is in the end an inferior thing which must fall before the community: Manston, Henchard, etc.

2. The physical and spiritual individualist is a fine thing which must fall because of its own isolation, because it is a sport, not in the true line of life: Jude, Tess, Lady Constantine.

3. The physical individualist and spiritual bourgeois or communist is a thing, finally, of ugly, undeveloped, non-distinguished or perverted physical instinct, and must fall physically. Sue, Angel Clare, Clym, Knight. It remains, however, fitted into the community.

4. The undistinguished, bourgeois or average being with average or civic virtues usually succeeds in the end. If he fails, he is left practically uninjured. If he expire during probation, he has flowers on his grave.

By individualist is meant, not a selfish or greedy person, anxious to satisfy appetites, but a man of distinct being, who must act in^his own particular way to fulfil his own individual nature. He is a man who, being beyond the average, chooses to rule his own life to his own completion, and as such is an aristocrat.

The artist always has a predilection for him. But Hardy, like Tolstoi, is forced in the issue always to stand with the community in condemnation of the aristocrat. He cannot help himself, but must stand with the average against the exception, he must, in his ultimate judgment, represent the interests of humanity, or the community as a whole, and rule out the individual interest.

To do this, however, he must go against himself. His private sympathy is always with the individual against the community: as is the case with the artist. Therefore he will create a more or less blameless individual and, making him seek his own fulfilment, his highest aim, will show him destroyed by the community, or by that in himself which represents the community, or by some close embodiment of the civic idea. Hence the pessimism. To do this, however, he must select his individual with a definite weakness, a certain coldness of temper, inelastic, a certain inevitable and inconquerable adhesion to the community.

This is obvious in Troy, Clym, Tess, and Jude. They have naturally distinct individuality but, as it were, a weak life-flow, so that they cannot break away from the old adhesion, they cannot separate themselves from the mass which bore them, they cannot detach themselves from the common. Therefore they are pathetic rather than tragic figures. They have not the necessary strength: the question of their unfortunate end is begged in the beginning.

Whereas CEdipus or Agamemnon or Clytemnestra or Orestes, or Macbeth or Hamlet or Lear, these are destroyed by their own conflicting passions. Out of greed for adventure, a desire to be off, Agamemnon sacrifices Iphigenia: moreover he has his love-affairs outside Troy: and this brings on him death from the mother of his daughter, and from his pledged wife. Which is the working of the natural law. Hamlet, a later Orestes, is commanded by the Erinyes of his father to kill his mother and his uncle*: but his maternal filial feeling tears him. It is almost the same tragedy as Orestes, without any goddess or god to grant peace.

In these plays, conventional morality is transcended. The action is between the great, single, individual forces in the nature of Man, not between the dictates of the community and the original passion. The Commandment says: “Thou shalt not kill.” But doubtless Mac - * See note 21, p.?67.

beth had killed many a man who was in his way. Certainly Hamlet suffered no qualms about killing the old man behind the curtain. Why should he:1 But when Macbeth killed Duncan, he divided himself in twain, into two hostile parts. It was all in his own soul and blood: it was nothing outside himself: as it was, really, with Clym, Troy, Tess, Jude. Troy would probably have been faithful to his little unfortunate person, had she been a lady, and had he not felt himself cut off from society in his very being, whilst all the time he cleaved to it. Tess allowed herself to be condemned, and asked for punishment from Angel Clare. Why? She had done nothing particularly, or at least irrevocably, unnatural, were her life young and strong. But she sided with the community’s condemnation of her. And almost the bitterest, most pathetic, deepest part of Jude’s misfortune was his failure to obtain admission to Oxford, his failure to gain his place and standing in the world’s knowledge, in the world’s work.

There is a lack of sternness, there is a hesitating betwixt life and public opinion, which diminishes the Wessex novels from the rank of pure tragedy. It is not so much the eternal, immutable laws of being which are transgressed, it is not that vital life-forces are set in conflict with each other, bringing almost inevitable tragedy - yet not necessarily death, as we see in the most splendid Aeschylus. It is, in Wessex, that the individual succumbs to what is in its shallowest, public opinion, in its deepest, the human compact by which we live together, to form a community.


The Axle and the Wheel of Eternity

It is agreed, then, that we will do a little work — two or three hours a day — labouring for the community, to produce the ample necessities of life. Then we will be free.

Free for what? The terror of the ordinary man is lest leisure should come upon him. His eternal, divine instinct is to free himself from the labour of providing what we call the necessities of life, in the common sense. And his personal horror is of finding himself with nothing to do.

What does a flower do? It provides itself with the necessities of life, it propagates itself in its seeds, and it has its fling all in one. Out from the crest and summit comes the fiery self, the flower, gorgeously.

This is the fall into the future, like a waterfall that tumbles over the edge of the known world into the unknown. The little, individualised river of life issues out of its source, its little seed, its wellhead, flows on and on, making its course as it goes, establishing a bed of green tissue and stalks, flows on, and draws near the edge where all things disappear. Then the stream divides. Part hangs back, recovers itself, and lies quiescent, in seed. The rest flows over, the rest dips into the unknown, and is gone.

The same with man. He has to build his own tissue and form, serving the community for the means wherewithal, and then he comes to the climax. And at the climax, simultaneously, he begins to roll to the edge of the unknown, and, in the same moment, lays down his seed for security’s sake. That is the secret of life: it contains the lesser motions in the greater. In love, a man, a woman, flows on to the very furthest edge of known feeling, being, and out beyond the furthest edge: and taking the superb and supreme risk, deposits a security of life in the womb.

Am I here to deposit security, continuance of life in the flesh? Or is that only a minor function in me? Is it not merely a preservative measure, procreation? It is the same for me as for any man or woman. That she bear children is not a woman’s significance. But that she bear herself, that is her supreme and risky fate: that she drive on to the edge of the unknown, and beyond. She may leave children behind, for security. It is arranged so.

It is so arranged that the very act which carries us out into the unknown shall probably deposit seed for security to be left behind. But the act, called the sexual act, is not for the depositing of the seed. It is for leaping off into the unknown, as from a cliff’s edge, like Sappho into the sea.

It is so plain in my plant, the poppy. Out of the living river, a fine silver stream detaches itself, and flows through a green bed which it makes for itself. It flows on and on, till it reaches the crest beyond which is ethereal space. Then, in tiny, concentrated pools, a little hangs back, in reservoirs that shall later seal themselves up as quick hut silent sources. But the whole, almost the whole, splashes splendidly over, is seen in red just as it drips into darkness, and disappears.

So with a man in the act of love. A little of him, a very little, flows into the tiny quick pool to start another source. But the whole spills over in waste to the beyond.

And only at high flood should the little hollows fill to make a new source. Only when the whole rises to pour in a great wave over the edge of all that has been, should the little seed-wells run full. In the woman lie the reservoirs. And when there comes the flood-tide, then the dual stream of woman and man, as the whole two waves meet and break to foam, bursting into the unknown, these wells and fountain heads are filled.

Thus man and woman pass beyond this Has-Been and this is when the two waves meet in flood and heave over and out of Time, leaving their dole to Time deposited. It is for this man needs liberty, and to prepare him for this he must use his leisure.

Always so that the wave of his being shall meet the other wave, that the two shall make flood which shall flow beyond the face of the earth, must a man live. Always the dual wave. Where does my poppy spill over in red, but there where the two streams have flowed and clasped together, where the pollen stream clashes into the pistil stream, where the male clashes into the female, and the two heave out in utterance. There, in the seethe of male and female, seeds are filled as the flood rises to pour out in a red fall. There, only there, where the male seethes against the female, comes the transcendent flame and the filling of seeds.

In plants where the male stream and the female stream flow separately, as in dog’s mercury or in the oak tree, where is the flame? It is not. But in my poppy, where at the summit the two streams, which till now have run deviously, scattered down many ways, at length flow concentrated together, and the pure male stream meets the pure female stream in a heave and an overflowing: there, there is the flower indeed.

And this is happiness: that my poppy gather his material and build his tissue till he has led the stream of life in him on and on to the end, to the whirlpool at the summit, where the male seethes and whirls in incredible speed upon the pivot of the female, where the two are one, as axle and wheel are one, and the motions travel out to infinity. There, where he is a complete full stream, travelling with and upon the other complete female stream, the twain make a flood over the face of all the earth, which shall pass away from the earth. And since I am a man with a body of flesh, I shall contain the seed to make sure this continuing of life in this body of flesh, I shall contain the seed for the woman of flesh in whom to beg<jt my children.

But this is an incorporate need: it is really no separate or distinct need. The clear, full, inevitable need in me is that I, the male, meet the female stream which shall carry mine so that the two run to fullest flood, to furthest motion. It is no primary need of the begetting of children. It is the arriving at my highest mark of activity, of being; it is her arrival at her intensest self.

Why do we consider the male stream and the female stream as being only in the flesh? It is something other than physical. The physical, what we call in its narrowest meaning, the sex, is only a definite indication of the great male and female duality and unity. It is that part which is settled into an almost mechanized system of detaining some of the life which otherwise sweeps on and is lost in the full adventure.

There is female apart from Woman, as we know, and male apart from Man. There is male and female in my poppy plant, and this is neither man nor woman. It is part of the great twin river, eternally each branch resistant to the other, eternally running each to meet the other.

It may be said that male and female are terms relative only to physical sex. But this is the consistent indication of the greater meaning. Do we for a moment believe that a man is a man and a woman a woman, merely according to, and for the purpose of, the begetting of children? If there were organic reproduction of children, would there be no distinction between man and woman? Should we all be asexual?

We know that our view is partial. Man is man, and woman is woman, whether no children be born any more for ever. As long as time lasts, man is man. In eternity, where infinite motion becomes rest, the two may be one. But until eternity man is man. Until eternity, there shall be this separateness, this interaction of man upon woman, male upon female, this suffering, this delight, this imperfection. In eternity, maybe, the action may be perfect. In infinity, the spinning of the wheel upon the hub may be a friction - less whole, complete, an unbroken sleep that is infinite, motion that is utter rest, a duality that is sheerly one.

But except in infinity, everything of life is male or female, distinct. But the consciousness, that is of both: and the flower, that is of both. Every impulse that stirs in life, every single impulse, is either male or female, distinct, except the being of the complete flower, of the complete consciousness, which is two in one, fused. These are infinite and eternal. The consciousness, what we call the truth, is eternal, beyond change or motion, beyond time or limit.

But that which is not conscious, which is Time, and Life, that is our field.


Of Being and Not-Being

In life, then, no new thing has ever arisen, or can arise, save out of the impulse of the male upon the female, the female upon the male. The interaction of the male and female spirit begot the wheel, the plough, and the first utterance that was made on the face of the earth.

As in my flower, the pistil, female, is the centre and swivel, the stamens, male, are close-clasping the hub, and the blossom is the great motion outwards into the unknown, so in a man’s life, the female is the swivel and centre on which he turns closely, producing his movement. And the female to a man is the obvious form, a woman. And normally, the centre, the turning pivot, of a man’s life is his sex-life, the centre and swivel of his being is the sexual act. Upon this turns the whole rest of his life, from this emanates every motion he betrays. And that this should be so, every man makes his effort. The supreme effort each man makes, for himself, is the effort to clasp as a hub the woman who shall be the axle, compelling him to true motion, without aberration. The supreme desire of every man is for mating with a woman, such that the sexual act be the closest, most concentrated motion in his life, closest upon the axle, the prime movement of himself, of which all the rest of his motion is a continuance in the same kind. And the vital desire of every woman is that she shall be clasped as axle to the hub of the man, that his motion shall portray her motionlessness, convey her static being into movement, complete and radiating out into infinity, starting from her stable eternality, and reaching eternity again, after having covered the whole of time.

This is complete movement: man upon woman, woman within man. This is the desire, the achieving of which, frictionless, is impossible, yet for which every man will try, with greater or less intensity, achieving more or less success.

This is the desire of every man, that his movement, the manner of his walk, and the supremest effort of his mind, shall be the pulsation outwards from stimulus received in the sex, in the sexual act, that the woman of his body shall be the begetter of his whole life, that she, in her female spirit, shall beget in him his idea, his motion, himself. When a man shall look at the work of his hands, that has succeeded, and shall know that it was begotten in him by the woman of his body, then he shall know what fundamental happiness is. Just as when a woman shall look at her child, that was begotten in her by the man of her spirit, she shall know what it is to be happy, fundamentally. But when a woman looks at her children that were begotten in her by a strange man, not the man of her spirit, she must know what it is to be happy with anguish, and to love with pain. So with a man who looks at his work which was not begotten in him by the woman of his body. He rejoices, troubles, and suffers an agony like death which contains resurrection.

For while, ideally, the soul of the woman possesses the soul of the man, procreates it and makes it big with new idea, motion, in the sexual act, yet, most commonly, it is not so. Usually, sex is only functional, a matter of relief or sensation, equivalent to eating or drinking or passing of excrement.

Then, if a man must produce work, he must produce it to some other than the woman of his body: as, in the same case, if a woman produce children, it must be to some other than the man of her desire.

In this case, a man must seek elsewhere than in woman for the female to possess his soul, to fertilize him and make him try with increase. And the female exists in much more than his woman. And the finding of it for himself gives a man his vision, his God.

And since no man and no woman can get a perfect mate, nor obtain complete satisfaction at all times, each man according to his need must have a God, an idea, that shall compel him to the movement of his own being. And then, when he lies with his woman, the man may concurrently be with God, and so get increase of his soul. Or he may have communion with his God apart and averse from the woman.

Every man seeks in woman for that which is stable, eternal. And if. under his motion, this break down in her, in the particular woman, so that she be no axle for his hub, but be driven away from herself, then he must seek elsewhere for his stability, for the centre to himself.

Then either he must seek another woman, or he must seek to make conscious his desire to find a symbol, to create and define in his consciousness the object of his desire, so that he may have it at will, for his own complete satisfaction.

In doing this latter, he seeks with his desire the female elsewhere than in the particular woman. Since everything that is, is either male or female or both, whether it be clouds or sunshine or hills or trees or a fallen feather from a bird, therefore in other things and in such things man seeks for his complement. And he must at last always call God the unutterable and the inexpressible, the unknowable, because it is his unrealised complement.

But all gods have some attributes in common. They are the unexpressed Absolute: eternal, infinite, unchanging. Eternal, Infinite, Unchanging: the High God of all Humanity is this.

Yet man, the male, is essentially a thing of movement and time and change. Until he is stirred into thought, he is complete in movement and change. But once he thinks, he must have the Absolute, the Eternal, Infinite, Unchanging.

And Man is stirred into thought by dissatisfaction, or unsatisfac - tion, as heat is born of friction. Consciousness is the same effort in male and female to obtain perfect frictionless interaction, perfect as Nirvana. It is the reflex both of male and female from defect in their dual motion. Being reflex from the dual motion, consciousness contains the two in one, and is therefore in itself Absolute.

And desire is the admitting of deficiency. And the embodiment of the object of desire reveals the original defect or the defaulture. So that the attributes of God will reveal that which man lacked and yearned for in his living. And these attributes are always, in their essence, Eternality, Infinity, Immutability.

And these are the qualities man feels in woman, as a principle. Let a man walk alone on the face of the earth, and he feels himself like a loose speck blown at random. Let him have a woman to whom he belongs, and he will feel as though he had a wall to back up against; even though the woman be mentally a fool. No man can endure the sense of space, of chaos, on four sides of himself. It drives him mad. He must be able to put his back to the wall. And this wall is his woman.

From her he has a sense of stability. She supplies him with the feeling of Immutability, Permanence, Eternality. He himself is a raging activity, change potent within change. He dare not even conceive of himself, save when he is sure of the woman permanent beneath him, beside him. He dare not leap into the unknown save from the sure stability of the unyielding female. Like a wheel,;f he turn without an axle, his motion is wandering neutrality.

So always, the fear of a man is that he shall find no axle for his motion, that no woman can centralise his activity. And always, the fear of a woman is that she can find no hub for her stability, no man to convey into motion her full stability. Either the particular woman breaks down before the stress of the man, becomes erratic herself, no stay, no centre; or else the man is insufficiently active to carry out the static principle of his female, of his woman.

So life consists in the dual form of the Will-to-Motion and the Will-to-Inertia, and everything we see and know and are is the resultant of these two Wills. But the One Will, of which they are dual forms, that is as yet unthinkable.

And according as the Will-to-Motion predominates in race, or the Will-to-Inertia, so must that race’s conception of the One Will enlarge the attributes which are lacking or deficient in the race.

Since there is never to be found a perfect balance or accord of the two Wills, but always one triumphs over the other, in life, according to our knowledge, so must the human effort be always to recover balance, to symbolize and so to possess that which is missing. Which is the religious effort of Man.

There seems to be a fundamental, insuperable division, difference, between man’s artistic effort and his religious effort. The two efforts are mixed with each other, as they are revealed, but all the while they remain two, not one, all the while they are separate, single, never compounded.

The religious effort is to conceive, to symbolize that which the human soul, or the soul of the race, lacks, that which it is not, and which it requires, yearns for. It is the portrayal of that complement to the race-life which is known only as a desire: it is the symbolizing of a great desire, the statement of the desire in terms which have no meaning apart from the desire.

Whereas the artistic effort is the effort of utterance, the supreme effort of expressing knowledge, that which has been for once, that which was enacted, where the two wills met and intersected and left their result, complete for the moment. The artistic effort is the portraying of a moment of union between the two wills, according to knowledge. The religious effort is the portrayal or symbolizing of the eternal union of the two wills, according to aspiration. But in this eternal union, the features of one or the other Will are always salient.

The dual Will we call the Will-to-Motion and the Will-to-Inertia. These cause the whole of life, from the ebb and flow of a wave, to the stable equilibrium of the whole universe, from birth and being and knowledge to death and decay and forgetfulness. And the Will - to-Motion we call the male will or spirit, the Will-to-Inertia the female. This will to inertia is not negative, and the other positive. Rather, according to some conception, is Motion negative and Inertia, the static, geometric idea, positive. That is according to the point of view.

According to the race-conception of God, we can see whether in that race the male or the female element triumphs, becomes predominant.

But it must first be seen that the division into male and female is arbitrary, for the purpose of thought. The rapid motion of the rim of a wheel is the same as the perfect rest at the centre of the wheel. How can one divide them? Motion and rest are the same, when seen completely. Motion is only true of things outside oneself. When I am in a moving train, strictly, the land moves under me, I and the train are still. If I were both land and train, if f were large enough, there would be no motion. And if I were very very small, every fibre of the train would be in motion for me, the point of rest would be infinitely reduced.

How can one say, there is motion and rest? If all things move together in one infinite motion, that is rest. Rest and motion are only two degrees of motion, or two degrees of rest. Infinite motion and infinite rest are the same thing. It is obvious. Since, if motion were infinite, there would be no standing-ground from which to regard it as motion. And the same with rest.

It is easier to conceive that there is no such thing as rest. For a thing to us at rest is only a thing travelling at our own rate of motion: from another point of view, it is a thing moving at the lowest rate of motion we can recognize. But this table on which I write, which I call at rest, I know is really in motion.

So there is no such thing as rest. There is only infinite motion. But infinite motion must contain every degree of rest. So that motion and rest are the same thing. Rest is the lowest speed of motion which I recognize under normal conditions.

So how can one speak of a Will-to-Motion or a Will-to-Inertia, when there is no such thing as rest or motion? And yet, starting from any given degree of motion, and travelling forward in ever - increasing degree, one comes to a state of speed which covers the whole of space instantaneously, and is therefore rest, utter rest. *,nd starting from the same speed and reducing the motion infinitely, one reaches the same condition of utter rest. And the direction or method of approach to this infinite rest is different to our conception. And only travelling upon the slower, does the swifter reach the infinite rest of inertia: which is the same as the infinite rest of speed, the two things having united to surpass our comprehension.

So we may speak of Male and Female, of the Will-to-Motion and of the Will-to-Inertia. And so, looking at a race, we can say whether the Will-to-Inertia or the Will-to-Motion has gained the ascendancy, and in which direction this race tends to disappear.

For it is as if life were a double cycle, of men and women, facing opposite ways, travelling opposite ways, revolving upon each other, man reaching forward with outstretched hand, woman reaching forward with outstretched hand, and neither able to move till their hands have grasped each other, when they draw towards each other from opposite directions, draw nearer and nearer, each travelling in his separate cycle, till the two are abreast, and side by side, until even they pass on again, away from each other, travelling their opposite ways to the same infinite goal.

Each travelling to the same goal of infinity, but entering it from the opposite ends of space. And man, remembering what lies behind him, how the hands met and grasped and tore apart, utters his tragic art. Then moreover, facing the other way into the unknown, conscious of the tug of the goal at his heart, he hails the woman coming from the place whither he is travelling, searches in her for signs, and makes his God from the suggestion he receives, -as she advances.

Then she draws near, and he is full of delight. She is so close, that they touch, and then there is a joyful utterance of religious art. They are torn apart, and he gives the cry of tragedy, and goes on remembering, till the dance slows down and breaks, and there is only a crowd.

It is as if this cycle dance where the female makes the chain with the male becomes ever wider, ever more extended, and the further they get from the source, from the infinity, the more distinct and ‘ndividual do the dancers become. At first they are only figures. In the Jewish cycle, David, with his hand stretched forth, cannot recog - nize the woman, the female. He can only recognize some likeness himself. For both he and she have not danced very far from the source and origin where they were both one. Though she is in the gross utterly other than he, yet she is not very distinct from him And he hails her Father, Almighty, God, Beloved, Strength, hails her in his own image. And with hand outstretched, fearful and pas - sionate, he reaches to her. But it is Solomon who touches her hand with rapture and joy, and cries out his gladness in the Song of Songs. Who is the Shulamite but God come close, for a moment, into physical contact? The Song may be a drama: it is still religious art. It is the development of the Psalms. It is utterly different from the Book of Job, which is remembrance.

Always the threefold utterance: the declaring of the God seen approaching, the rapture of contact, the anguished joy of remembrance, when the meeting has passed into separation. Such is religion, religious art, and tragic art.

But the chain is not broken by the letting-go of hands. It is broken by the overbearing of one cycle by the other. David, when he lay with a woman, lay also with God; Solomon, when he lay with a woman, knew God and possessed Him and was possessed by Him. For in Solomon and in the Woman, the male clasped hands with the female.

But in the terrible moment when they should break free again, the male in the Jew was too weak, the female overbore him. He remained in the grip of the female. The force of inertia overpowered him, and he remained remembering. But very true had been David’s vision, and very real Solomon’s contact. So that the living thing was conserved, kept always alive and powerful, but restrained, restricted, partial.

For centuries, the Jew knew God as David had perceived Him, as Solomon had known Him. It was the God of the body, the rudimentary God of physical laws and physical functions. The Jew lived on in physical contact with God. Each of his physical functions he shared with God; he kept his body always like the body of a bride ready to serve the bridegroom. He had become the servant of his God, the female, passive. The female in him predominated, held him passive, set utter bounds to his movement, to his roving, kept his mind as a slave to guard intact the state of sensation wherein he found himself. Which persisted century after century, the secret, scrupulous voluptuousness of the Jew, become almost self - voluptuousness, engaged in the consciousness of his own physique, or in the extracted existence of his own physique. His own physique included the woman, naturally, since the man’s body included the woman’s, the woman’s the man’s. His religion had become a physi cal morality, deep and fundamental, but entirely of one sort. Its jiving element was this scrupulous physical voluptuousness, wonderful and satisfying in a large measure.

The conscious element was a resistance to the male or active principle. Being female, occupied in self-feeling, in realisation of the age, in submission to sensation, the Jewish temper was antagonistic to the active male principle, which would deny the age and refuse sensation, seeking ever to make transformation, desiring to be an instrument of change, to register relationships. So this race recognized only male sins: it conceived only sins of commission, sins of change, of transformation. In the whole of the Ten Commandments, it is the female who speaks. It is natural to the male to make the male God a God of benevolence and mercy, susceptible to pity. Such is the male conception of God. It was the female spirit which conceived the saying: “For I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me.”

It was a female conception. For is not man the child of woman? Does she not see in him her body, even more vividly than in her own? Man is more her body to her even than her own body. For the whole of flesh is hers. Woman knows that she is the fountain of all flesh. And her pride is that the body of man is of her issue. She can see the man as the One Being, for she knows he is of her issue.

It were a male conception to see God with a manifold Being, even though He be One God. For man is ever keenly aware of the multiplicity of things, and their diversity. But woman, issuing from the other end of infinity, coming forth as the flesh, manifest in sensation, is obsessed by the oneness of things, the One Being, undifferentiated. Man, on the other hand, coming forth as the desire to single out one thing from another, to reduce each thing to its intrinsic self by process of elimination, cannot but be possessed by the infinite diversity and contrariety in life, by a passionate sense of isolation, and a poignant yearning to be at one.

That is the fundamental of female conception: that there is but One Being: this Being necessarily female. Whereas man conceives a manifold Being, the supreme of which is male. And owing to the complete Monism of the female, which is essentially static, self - sufficient, the expression of God has been left always to the male, so that the supreme God is forever He.

Nevertheless, in the God of the Ancient Jew, the female has tri umphed. That which was born of Woman, that is indeed the God of the Old Testament. So utterly is he born of Wom&n that he scarcely needs to consider Woman: she is there unuttered.

And the Jewish race, continued in this Monism, stable, circumscribed, utterly unadventurous, utterly self-preservative, yet very deeply living, until the present century.

But Christ rose from the suppressed male spirit of Judea, and uttered a new commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. He repudiated Woman: “Who is my mother?” He lived the male life utterly apart from woman.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” — that is the great utterance against Monism, and the compromise with Monism. It does not say “Thou shalt love thy neighbour because he is thyself,” as the ancient Jew would have said. It commands “Thou shalt recognize thy neighbour’s distinction from thyself, and allow his separate being, because he also is of God, even though he be almost a contradiction to thyself.”

Sucn is the cry of anguish of Christianity: that man is separate from his brother, separate, maybe, even, in his measure, inimical to him. This the Jew had to learn. The old Jewish creed of identity, that Eve was identical with Adam, and all men children of one single parent, and therefore, in the absolute, identical, this must be destroyed.

Cunning and according to female suggestion is the story of the Creation: that Eve was born from the single body of Adam, without intervention of sex, both issuing from one flesh, as a child at birth seems to issue from one flesh of its mother. And the birth of Jesus is the retaliation to this: a child is born, not to the flesh, but to the spirit: and you, Woman, shall conceive, not to the body, but to the Word. “In the beginning was the Word,” says the New Testament.

The great assertion of the Male was the New Testament, and, in its beauty, the Union of Male and Female. Christ was born of Woman, begotten by the Holy Spirit. This was why Christ should be called the Son of Man. For He was born of Woman. He was born to the Spirit, the Word, the Man, the Male.

And the assertion entailed the sacrifice of the Son of Woman. The body of Christ must be destroyed, that of Him which was Woman must be put to death, to testify that He was Spirit, that He was Male, that He was Man, without any womanly part.

So the other great camp was made. In the creation, Man was driven forth from Paradise to labour for his body and for the woman. All was lost for the knowledge of the flesh. Out of the innocence and Nirvana of Paradise came, with the Fall, the consciousness of the flesh, the body of man and woman came into very being.

This was the first great movement of Man: the movement into the conscious possession of a body. And this consciousness of the body came through woman. And this knowledge, this possession, this enjoyment, was jealously guarded. In spite of all criticism and attack, Job remained true to this knowledge, to the utter belief in his body, in the God of his body. Though the Woman herself turned tempter, he remained true to it.

The senses, sensation, sensuousness, these things which are in - controvertibly Me, these are my God, these belong to God, said Job. And he persisted, and he was right. They issue from God on the female side.

But Christ came with His contradiction: That which is Not-Me, that is God. All is God, except that which I know immediately as Myself. First I must lose Myself, then I find God. Ye must be born again.

Unto what must man be born again? Unto knowledge of his own separate existence, as in Woman he is conscious of his own incorporate existence. Man must be born unto knowledge of his own distinct identity, as in woman he was born to knowledge of his identification with the Whole. Man must be born to the knowledge, that in the whole being he is nothing, as he was bom to know that in the whole being he was all. He must be born to the knowledge that other things exist beside himself, and utterly apart from all, and before he can exist himself as a separate identity, he must allow and recognize their distinct existence. Whereas previously, on the more female Jewish side, it had been said: “All that exists is as Me. We are all one family, out of one God, having one being.”

With Christ ended the Monism of the Jew. God, the One God, became a Trinity, three-fold. He was the Father, the All-containing; He was the Son, the Word, the Changer, the Separator; and He was the Spirit, the Comforter, the Reconciliator between the Two.

And according to its conditions, Christianity has, since Christ, worshipped the Father or the Son, the one more than the other. Out of an over-female race came the male utterance of Christ. Throughout Europe, the suppressed, inadequate male desire, both in men and women, stretched to the idea of Christ, as a woman should stretch out her hands to a man. But Greece, in whom the female was overridden and neglected, became silent. So through the Middle Ages went on in Europe this fight against the body, against the senses, against this continual triumph of the senses. The worship of Europe, predominantly female, all through the medieval period, was to the male, to the incorporeal Christ, as a bridegroom, whilst the art produced was the collective, stupendous, emotional gesture of the Cathedrals, where a blind, collective impulse rose into concrete form. It was the profound, sensuous desire and gratitude which produced an art of architecture, whose essence is in utter stability, of movement resolved and centralised, of absolute movement, that has no relationship with any other form, that admits the existence of no other form, but is conclusive, propounding in its sum the One Being of All.

There was, however, in the Cathedrals, already the denial of the Monism which the Whole uttered. All the little figures, the gargoyles, the imps, the human faces, whilst subordinated within the Great Conclusion of the Whole, still, from their obscurity, jeered their mockery of the Absolute, and declared for multiplicity, polygeny. But all medieval art has the static, architectural, absolute quality, in the main, even whilst in detail it is differentiated and distinct. Such is Diirer, for example. When his art succeeds, it conveys the sense of Absolute Movement, movement proper only to the given form, and not relative to other movements. It portrays the Object, with its Movement content, and not the movement which contains in one of its moments the Object.

It is only when the Greek stimulus is received, with its addition of male influence, its additior. of relative movement, its revelation of movement driving the object, the highest revelation which had yet been made, that medieval art became complete Renaissance art, that there was the union and fusion of the male and female spirits, creating a perfect expression for the time being.

During the medieval times, the God had been Christ on the Cross, the Body Crucified, the flesh destroyed, the Virgin Chastity combating Desire. Such had been the God of the Aspiration. But the God of Knowledge, of that which they acknowledged as themselves, had been the Father, the God of the Ancient Jew.

But now, with the Renaissance, the God of Aspiration became in accord with the God of Knowledge, and there was a great outburst of joy, and the theme was not Christ Crucified, but Christ born of Woman, the Infant Saviour and the Virgin; or of the Annunciation, the Spirit embracing the flesh in pure embrace.

This was the perfect union of male and female, in this the hands met and clasped, and never was such a manifestation of Joy. This Joy reached its highest utterance perhaps in Botticelli, as in his Nativity of the Saviour, in our National Gallery. Still there is the architectural composition, but what an outburst of movement from the source of motion. The Infant Christ is a centre, a radiating spark of movement, the Virgin is bowed in Absolute Movement, the earthly father, Joseph, is folded up, like a clod or a boulder, obliterated, whilst the Angels fly round in ecstasy, embracing and linking hands.

The bodily father is almost obliterated. As balance to the Virgin Mother he is there, presented, but silenced, only the movement of his loin conveyed. He is not the male. The male is the radiant infant, over which the mother leans. They two are the ecstatic centre, the complete origin, the force which is both centrifugal and centripetal.

This is the joyous utterance of the Renaissance, to which we listen for ever. Perhaps there is a melancholy in Botticelli, a pain of Woman mated to the Spirit, a nakedness of the Aphrodite issued exposed to the clear elements, to the fleshlessness of the male. But still it is joy transparent over pain. It is the utterance of complete, perfect religious art, unwilling, perhaps, when the true male and the female meet. In the Song of Solomon, the female was preponderant, the male was impure, not single. But here the heart is satisfied for the moment, there is a moment of perfect being.

And it seems to be so in other religions: the most perfect moment centres round the mother and the male child, whilst the physical male is deified separately, as a bull, perhaps.

After Botticelli came Correggio. In him the development from gesture to articulate expression was continued, unconsciously, the movement from the symbolic to the representation went on in him, from the object to the animate creature. The Virgin and Child are no longer symbolic, in Correggio: they no longer belong to religious art, but are distinctly secular. The effort is to render the living person, the individual perceived, and not the great aspiration, or an idea. Art now passes from the naive, intuitive stage to the state of knowledge. The female impulse, to feel and to live in feeling, is now embraced by the male impulse — to know, and almost carried off by knowledge. But not yet. Still Correggio is unconscious, in his art; he is in that state of elation which represents the marriage of male and female, with the pride of the male perhaps predomi nant. In the Madonna with the Basket, of the National Gallery, the Madonna is most thoroughly a wife, the child is most triumphantly a man’s child. The Father is the origin. He is seen labouring in the distance, the true support of this mother and child. There is no Virgin worship, none of the mystery of woman. The artist has reached to a sufficiency of knowledge. He knows his woman. What he is now concerned with is not her great female mystery, but her individual character. The picture has become almost lyrical — it is the woman as known by the man, it is the woman as he has experienced her. But still she is also unknown, also she is the mystery. But Correggio’s chief business is to portray the woman of his own experience and knowledge, rather than the woman of his aspiration and fear. The artist is now concerned with his own experience rather than with his own desire. The female is now more or less within the power and reach of the male. But still she is there, to centralise and control his movement, still the two react and are not resolved. But for the man, the woman is henceforth part of a stream of movement, she is herself a stream of movement, carried along with himself. He sees everything as motion, retarded perhaps by the flesh, or by the stable being of this life in the body. But still man is held and pivoted by the object, even if he tend to wear down the pivot to a nothingness.

Thus Correggio leads on to the whole of modern art, where the male still wrestles with the female, in unconscious struggle, but where he gains ever gradually over her, reducing her to nothing. Ever there is more and more vibration, movement, and less and less stability, centralization. Ever man is more and more occupied with his own experience, with his own overpowering of resistance, ever less and less aware of any resistance in the object, less and less aware of any stability, less and less aware of anything unknown, more and more preoccupied with that which he knows, till his knowledge tends to become an abstraction, because it is limited by no unknown.

It is the contradiction of Diirer, as the Parthenon Frieze was the contradiction of Babylon and Egypt. To Diirer woman did not exist; even as to a child at the breast, woman does not exist separately. She is the overwhelming condition of life. She was to Diirer that which possessed him, and not that which he possessed. Her being overpowered him, he could only see in her terms, in terms of stability and of stable, incontrovertible being. He is overpowered by the vast assurance at whose breasts he is suckled, and, as if astounded, he grasps at the unknown. He knows that he rests within some great stability, and, marvelling at his own power for movement, touches the objects of this stability, becomes familiar with them. It is a question of the starting-point. Diirer starts with a sense of that which he does not know and would discover; Correggio with the sense of that which he has known, and would re-create.

And in the Renaissance, after Botticelli, the motion begins to divide in these two directions. The hands no longer clasp in perfect union, but one clasp overbears the other. Botticelli develops to Correggio and to Andrea del Sarto, develops forward to Rembrandt, and Rembrandt to the Impressionists, to the male extreme of motion. But Botticelli, on the other hand, becomes Raphael, Raphael and Michelangelo.

In Raphael we see the stable, architectural developing out further, and becoming the geometric: the denial or refusal of all movement. In the Madonna degli Ansidei the child is drooping, the mother stereotyped, the picture geometric, static, abstract. When there is any union of male and female, there is no goal of abstraction: the abstract is used in place, as a means of a real union. The goal of the male impulse is the announcement of motion, endless motion, endless diversity, endless change. The goal of the female impulse is the announcement of infinite oneness, of infinite stability. When the two are working in combination, as they must in life, there is, as it were, a dual motion, centrifugal for the male, fleeing abroad, away from the centre, outward to infinite vibration, and centripetal for the female, fleeing in to the eternal centre of rest. A combination of the two movements produces a sum of motion and stability at once, satisfying. But in life there tends always to be more of one than the other. The Cathedrals, Fra Angelico, frighten us or [bore] us with their final annunciation of centrality and stability. We want to escape. The influence is too female for us.

In Botticelli, the architecture remains, but there is the wonderful movement outwards, the joyous, if still clumsy, escape from the centre. His religious pictures tend to be stereotyped, resigned. The Primavera herself is static, melancholy, a stability become almost a negation. It is as if the female, instead of being the great, unknown Positive, towards which all must flow, became the great Negative, the centre which denied all motion. And the Aphrodite stands there not as a force, to draw all things unto her, but as the naked, almost unwilling pivot, as the keystone which endured all thrust and remained static. But still there is the joy, the great motion around her, sky and sea, all the elements and living, joyful forces.

Raphael, however, seeks and finds nothing there. He goes to the centre to ask: “What is this mystery we are all pivoted upon?” To Fra Angelico it was the unknown Omnipotent. It was a goal, to which man travelled inevitably. It was the desired, the end of the long horizontal journey. But to Raphael it was the negation. Still he is a seeker, an aspirant, still his art is religious art. But the Virgin, the essential female, was to him a negation, a neutrality. Such must have been his vivid experience. But still he seeks her. Still he desires the stability, the positive keystone which grasps the arch together, not the negative keystone neutralising the thrust, itself a neutrality. And.reacting upon his own desire, the male reacting upon itself, he creates the Abstraction, the geometric conception of life. The fundament of all is the geometry of all. Which is the Plato conception. And the desire is to formulate the complete geometry.

So Raphael, knowing that his desire reaches out beyond the range of possible experience, sensible that he will not find satisfaction in any one woman, sensible that the female impulse does not, or cannot unite in him with the male impulse sufficiently to create a stability, an eternal moment of truth for him, of realisation, closes his eyes and his mind upon experience, and abstracting himself, reacting upon himself, produces the geometric conception of the fundamental truth, departs from religion, from any God idea, and becomes philosophic.

Raphael is the real end of Renaissance in Italy; almost he is the real end of Italy, as Plato was the real end of Greece. When the God-idea passes into the philosophic or geometric idea, then there is a sign that the male impulse has thrown the female impulse, and has recoiled upon itself, has become abstract, asexual.

Michelangelo, however, too physically passionate, containing too much of the female in his body ever to reach the geometric abstraction, unable to abstract himself, and at the same time, like Raphael, unable to find any woman who in her being should resist him and reserve still some unknown from him, strives to obtain his own physical satisfaction in his art. He is obsessed by the desire of the body. And he must react upon himself to produce his own bodily satisfaction, aware that he can never obtain it through woman. He must seek the moment, the consummation, the keystone, the pivot, in his own flesh. For his own body is both male and female.

Raphael and Michelangelo are men of different nature placed in the same position and resolving the same question in their several ways. Socrates and Plato are a parallel pair, and, in another degree, Tolstoi and Turgeniev, and, perhaps, St. Paul and St. John the Evangelist, and) perhaps, Shakespeare and Shelley.

The body it is which attaches us directly to the female. Sex, as we call it, is only the point where the dual stream begins to divide, where it is nearly together, almost one. An infant is of no very determinate sex: that is, it is of both. Only at adolescence is there a real differentiation, the one is singled out to predominate. In what we call happy natures, in the lazy, contented people, there is a fairly equable balance of sex. There is sufficient of the female in the body of such a man as to leave him fairly free. He does not suffer the torture of desire of a more male being. It is obvious even from the physiqye of such a man that in him there is a proper proportion between male and female, so that he can be easy, balanced, and without excess. The Greek sculptors of the “best” period, Phidias and then Sophocles, Alcibiades, then Horace, must have been fairly well-balanced men, not passionate to any excess, tending to voluptuousness rather than to passion. So also Victor Hugo and Schiller and Tennyson. The real voluptuary is a man who is female as well as male, and who lives according to the female side of his nature, like Lord Byron.

The pure male is himself almost an abstraction, almost bodiless, like Shelley or Edmund Spenser. But, as we know humanity, this condition comes of an omission of some vital part. In the ordinary sense, Shelley never lived. He transcended life. But we do not want to transcend life, since we are of life.

Why should Shelley say of the skylark:

“Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! — bird thou never wert! — ”? Why should he insist on the bodilessness of beauty, when we cannot know of any save embodied beauty? Who would wish that the skylark were not a bird, but a spirit? If the whistling skylark were a spirit, then we should all wish to be spirits. Which were impious and flippant.

I can think of no being in the world so transcendently male as Shelley. He is phenomenal. The rest of us have bodies which contain the male and the female. If we were so singled out as Shelley, we should not belong to life, as he did not belong to life. But it were impious to wish to be like the angels. So long as mankind exists it must exist in the body, and so long must each body pertain both to the male and the female.

In the degree of pure maleness below Shelley are Plato and Raphael and Wordsworth, then Goethe and Milton and Dante, then Michelangelo, then Shakespeare, then Tolstoi, then St. Paul.

A man who is well balanced between male and female, in his own nature, is, as a rule, happy, easy to mate, easy to satisfy, and content to exist. It is only a disproportion, or a dissatisfaction, which makes the man struggle into articulation. And the articulation is of two sorts, the cry of desire or the cry of realisation, the cry of satisfaction, the effort to prolong the sense of satisfaction, to prolong the moment of consummation.

A bird in spring sings with the dawn, ringing out from the moment of consummation in wider and wider circles. Diirer, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, all sing of the moment of consummation, some of them still marvelling and lost in the wonder at the other being, Botticelli poignant with distinct memory. Raphael too sings of the moment of consummation. But he was not lost in the moment, only sufficiently lost to know what it was. In the moment, he was not completely consummated. He must strive to complete his satisfaction from himself. So, whilst making his great acknowledgment to the Woman, he must add to her to make her whole, he must give her his completion. So he rings her round with pure geometry, till she becomes herself almost of the geometric figure, an abstraction. The picture becomes a great ellipse crossed by a dark column. This is the Madonna degli Ansidei. The Madonna herself is almost insignificant. She and the child are contained within the shaft thrust across the ellipse.

This column must always stand for the male aspiration, the arch or ellipse for the female completeness containing this aspiration. And the whole picture is a geometric symbol of the consummation of life.

What we call the Truth is, in actual experience, that momentary state when in living the union between the male and the female is consummated. This consummation may be also physical, between the male body and the female body. But it may be only spiritual, between the male and female spirit.

And the symbol by which Raphael expresses this moment of consummation is by a dark, strong shaft or column leaping up into, and almost transgressing a faint, radiant, inclusive ellipse.

To express the same moment Botticelli uses no symbol, but builds up a complicated system of circles, of movements wheeling in their horizontal plane about their fixed centres, the whole builded up dome-shape, and then the dome surpassed by another singing cycle in the open air above.

This is Botticelli always: different cycles of joy, different moments of embrace, different forms of dancing round, all contained in one picture, without solution. He has not solved it yet.

And Raphael, in reaching the pure symbolic solution, has surpassed art and become almost mathematics. Since the business of art is never to solve, but only to declare.

There is no such thing as solution. Nietzsche talks about the Ewige Wiederkehr. It is like Botticelli singing cycles. But each cycle is different. There is no real recurrence.

And to single out one cycle, one moment, and to exclude from this moment all context, and to make this moment timeless, this is what Raphael does, and what Plato does. So that their absolute Truth, their geometric Truth, is only true in timelessness.

Michelangelo, on the other hand, seeks for no absolute Truth. His desire is to realise in his body, in his feeling, the moment - consummation which is for Man the perfect truth-experience. But he knows of no embrace. For him, personally, woman does not exist. For Botticelli she existed as the Virgin-Mother, and as the Primavera, and as Aphrodite. She existed as the pure origin of life on the female side, as the bringer of light and delight, and as the passionately Desired of every man, as the Known and Unknown in one: to Raphael she existed either as a minor part of his experience, having nothing to do with his aspiration, or else his aspiration merely used her as a statement included within the Great Abstraction.

To Michelangelo the female scarcely existed outside his own physique. There he knew of her and knew the desire of her. But Raphael, in his passion to be self-complete, roused his desire for consummation to a white-hot pitch, so that he became incandescent, reacting on himself, consuming his own flesh and his own bodily life, to reach the pitch of perfect abstraction, the resisting body holding back the raging stream of outward force, till the two formed a stable incandescence, a luminous geometric conception of permanence and inviolability. Meanwhile his body burned away, overpowered, in this state of incandescence.

Michelangelo’s will was different. The body in him, that which knew of the female and therefore was the female, was stronger and more insistent. His desire for consummation was desire for the satisfying moment when the male and female spirits touch in closest embrace, vivifying each other, not one destroying the other, but still are two. He knew that for Man consummation is a temporal state. The pure male spirit must ever conceive of timelessness, the pure female of the moment. And Michelangelo, more mixed than Raphael, must always rage within the limits of time and of temporal forms. So he reacted upon himself, sought the female in himself, aggrandized it, and so reached a wonderful momentary stability of flesh exaggerated till it became tenuous, but filled and balanced by the outward-pressing force. And he reached his consummation in that way, reached the perfect moment, when he realised and revealed his figures in all their marvellous equilibrium. The Jewish tradition, with its great physical God, source of male and female, attracted him. By turning towards the female goal, of utter stability and permanence in Time, he arrived at his consummation. But only by reacting on himself, by withdrawing his own mobility. Thus he made his great figures, the Moses, static and looming, announcing, like the Jewish God, the magnificence and eternality of the physical law; the David, young, but with too much body for a young figure, the physique exaggerated, the clear, outward-leaping, essential spirit of the young man smothered over, the real maleness cloaked, so that the statue is almost a falsity. Then the slaves, heaving in body, fastened in bondage that refuses them movement; the motionless Madonna, no Virgin but Woman in the flesh, not the pure female conception, but the spouse of man, the mother of bodily children. The men are not male, nor the women female, to any degree.

The Adam can scarcely stir into life. That large body of almost transparent, tenuous texture is not established enough for motion. It is not that it is too ponderous: it is too unsubstantial, unreal. It is not motion, life, he craves, but body. Give him but a firm, concentrated physique. That is the cry of all Michelangelo’s pictures.

But, powerful male as he was, he satisfies his desire by insisting upon and exaggerating the body in him, he reaches the point of consummation in the most marvellous equilibrium which his figures show. To attain this equilibrium he must exaggerate and exaggerate and exaggerate the flesh, make it ever more tenuous, keeping it really in true ratio. And then comes the moment, the perfect stable poise, the perfect balance between object ^nd movement, the perfect combination of male and female in one figure.

It is wonderful, and peaceful, this equilibrium, once reached. But it is reached through anguish and self-battle and self-repression, therefore it is sad. Always, Michelangelo’s* pictures are full of joy, * Surely, Raphael’s (editor’s note).

of self-acceptance and self-proclamation. Michelangelo fought and arrested the mobile male in him; Raphael was proud in the male he was, and gave himself utter liberty, at the female expense.

And it seems as though Italy had ever since the Renaissance been possessed by the Raphaelesque conception of the ultimate geometric basis of life, the geometric essentiality of all things. There is in the Italian, at the very bottom of all, the fundamental, geometric conception of absolute static combination. There is the shaft enclosed in the ellipse, as a permanent symbol. There exists no shaft, no ellipse separately, but only the whole complete thing; there is neither male nor female, but an absolute interlocking of the two in one, an absolute combination, so that each is gone in the complete identity. There is only the geometric abstraction of the moment of consummation, a moment made timeless. And this conception of a long, clinched, timeless embrace, this overwhelming conception of timeless consummation, of which there is no beginning nor end, from which there is no escape, has arrested the Italian race for three centuries. It is the source of its indifference and its fatalism and its positive abandon, and of its utter incapacity to be sceptical, in the Russian sense.

This conception contains also, naturally, as part of the same idea, Aphrodite-worship and Phallic-worship. But these are subordinate, and belong to a sort of initiatory period. The real conception, for the individual, is marriage, inviolable marriage, which always was and always has been, no matter what apparent aberrations there may or may not be. And the manifestation of divinity is the child. In marriage, in utter, interlocked marriage, man and woman cease to be two beings and become one, one and one only, not two in one as with us, but absolute One, a geometric absolute, timeless, the Absolute, the Divine. And the child, as issue of this divine and timeless state, is hailed with love and joy.

But the Italian is now beginning to withdraw from his clinched and timeless embrace, from his geometric abstraction, into the northern conception of himself and the woman as two separate identities, which meet, combine, but always must withdraw again.

So that the Futurist Boccioni now makes his sculpture, Development of a Bottle through Space, try to express the withdrawal, and at the same time he must adhere to the conception of this same interlocked state of marriage between centripetal and centrifugal forces, the geometric abstraction of the bottle. But he can neither do one thing nor the other. He wants to re-state the real abstraction.

And at the same time he has an unsatisfied desire to satisfy. He must insist on the centrifugal force, and so destroy at once his abstraction. He must insist on the male spirit of motion outwards, because, during three static centuries, there has necessarily come to pass a preponderance of the female in the race, so that the Italian is rather more female than male now, as is the whole Latin race rather voluptuous than passionate, too much aware of their utter locked - ness male with female, and too hopeless, as males, to act, to be passionate. So that when I look at Boccioni’s sculpture, and see him trying to state the timeless abstract being of a bottle, the pure geometric abstraction of the bottle, I am fascinated. But then, when I see him driven by his desire for the male complement into portraying motion, simple motion, trying to give expression to the bottle in terms of mechanics, I am confused. It is for science to explain the bottle in terms of force and motion. Geometry, pure mathematics, is very near to art, and the vivid attempt to render the bottle as a pure geometric abstraction might give rise to a work of art, because of the resistance of the medium, the stone. But a representation in stone of the lines of force which create that state of rest called a bottle, that is a model in mechanics.

And the two representations require two different states of mind in the appreciator, so that the result is almost nothingness, mere confusion. And the portraying of a state of mind is impossible. There can only be made scientific diagrams of states of mind. A state of mind is a resultant between an attack and a resistance. And how can one produce a resultant without first causing the collision of the originating forces?

The attitude of the Futurists is the scientific attitude, as the attitude of Italy is mainly scientific. It is the forgetting of the old, perfect Abstraction, it is the departure of the male from the female, it is the act of withdrawal: the denying of consummation and the starting afresh, the learning of the alphabet.


The Light of the World

The climax that was reached in Italy with Raphael has never been reached in like manner in England. There has never been,

in England, the great embrace, the surprising consummation, which Botticelli recorded and which Raphael fixed in a perfect Abstraction.

Correggio, Andrea del Sarto, both men of less force than those other supreme three, continued the direct line of development, turning no curve. They still found women whom they could not exhaust: in them, the male still reacted upon the incontrovertible female. But ever there was a tendency to greater movement, to a closer characterization, a tendency to individualise the human being, and to represent him as being embedded in some common, divine matrix.

Till after the Renaissance, supreme God had always been God the Father. The Church moved and had its being in Almighty God, Christ was only the distant, incandescent gleam towards which humanity aspired, but which it did not know.

Raphael and Michelangelo were both servants of the Father, of the Eternal Law, of the Prime Being. Raphael, faced with the question of Not-Being, when it was forced upon him that he would never accomplish his own being in the flesh, that he would never know completeness, the momentary consummation, in the body, accomplished the Geometrical Abstraction, which is the abstraction from the Law, which is the Father.

There was, however, Christ’s great assertion of Not-Being, of No - Consummation, of life after death, to reckon with. It was after the Renaissance, Christianity began to exist. It had not existed before.

In God the Father we are all one body, one flesh. But in Christ we abjure the flesh, there is no flesh. A man must lose his life to save it. All the natural desires of the body, these a man must be able to deny, before he can live. And then, when he lives, he shall live in the knowledge that he is himself, so that he can always say: “I am I.”

In the Father we are one flesh, in Christ we are crucified, and rise again, and are One with Him in Spirit. It is the difference between Law and Love. Each man shall live according to the Law, which changeth not, says the old religion. Each man shall live according to Love, which shall save us from death and from the Law, says the new religion.

But what is Love? What is the deepest desire Man has yet known? It is always for this consummation, this momentary contact or union of male with female, of spirit with spirit and flesh with flesh, when each is complete in itself and rejoices in its own being, when each is in himself or in herself complete and single and essential. And love is the great aspiration towards this complete consummation and this joy; it is the aspiration of each man that all men, that all life, shall know it and rejoice. Since, until all men shall know it, no man shall fully know it. Since, by the Law, we are all one flesh. So that Love is only a closer vision of the Law, a more comprehensive interpretation: “Think not I come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I come not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”

In Christ I must save my soul through love, I must lose my life, and thereby find it. The Law bids me preserve my life to the Glory of God. But Love bids me lose my life to the Glory of God. In Christ, when I shall have overcome every desire I know in myself, so that I adhere to nothing, but am loosed and set free and single, then, being without fear, and having nothing that I can lose, I shall know what I am, I, transcendent, intrinsic, eternal.

The Christian commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” is a more indirect and moving, a more emotional form of the Greek commandment “Know thyself.” This is what Christianity says, indirectly: “Know thyself, and each man shall thereby know himself.”

Now in the Law, no man shall know himself, save in the Law. And the Law is the immediate law of the body. And the necessity of each man to know himself, to achieve his own consummation, shall be satisfied and fulfilled in the body. God, Almighty God, is the father, and in fatherhood man draws nearest to him. In the act of love, in the act of begetting, Man is with God and of God. Such is the Law. And there shall be no other God devised. That is the great obstructive commandment.

This is the old religious leap down, absolutely, even if not in direct statement. It is the Law. But through Christ it was at last declared that in the physical act of love, in the begetting of children, man does not necessarily know himself, nor become Godlike, nor satisfy his deep, innate desire to BE. The physical act of love may be a complete disappointment, a nothing, and fatherhood may be the least significant attribute to a man. And physical love may fail utterly, may prove a sterility, a nothingness. Is a man then duped, and is his deepest desire a joke played on him?

There is a law, beyond the known law, there is a new Commandment. There is love. A man shall find his consummation the crucifixion of the body and the resurrection of the spirit.

Christ, the Bridegroom, or the Bride, as may be, awaits the desiring soul that shall seek Him, and in Him shall all men find their consummation, after their new birth. It is the New Law; the old Law is revoked.

“This is my Body, take, and eat,” says Christ, in the Communion, the ritual representing the Consummation. “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

For each man there is the bride, for each woman the bridegroom, for all, the Mystic Marriage. It is the New Law. In the mystic embrace of Christ each man shall find fulfilment and relief, each man shall become himself, a male individual, tried, proved, completed, and satisfied. In the mystic embrace of Christ each man shall say, ““I am myself, and Christ is Christ”; each woman shall be proud and satisfied, saying, “It is enough.”

So, by the New Law, man shall satisfy this his deepest desire. “In the body ye must die, even as I died, on the cross,” says Christ, “that ye may have everlasting life.” But this is a real contradiction of the Old Law, which says, “In the life of the body we are one with the Father.” The Old Law bids us live: it is the old, original commandment, that we shall live in the Law, and not die. So that the new Christian preaching of Christ Crucified is indeed against the Law. “And when ye are dead in the body, ye shall be one with the spirit, ye shall know the Bride, and be consummate in Her Embrace, in the Spirit,” continues the Christian Commandment.

It is a larger interpretation of the Law, but, also, it is a breach of the Law. For by the Law, Man shall in no wise injure or deny or desecrate his living body of flesh, which is of the Father. Therefore, though Christ gave the Holy Ghost, the Comforter; though He bowed before the Father; though He said that no man should be forgiven the denial of the Holy Spirit, the Reconciler between the Father and the Son; yet did the Son deny the Father, must he deny the Father?

“Ye are my Spirit, in the Spirit ye know Me, and in marriage of the Spirit I am fulfilled of you,” said the Son.

And it is the Unforgivable Sin to declare that these two are contradictions one of the other, though contradictions they are. Between them is linked the Holy Spirit, as a reconciliation, and whoso shall speak hurtfully against the Holy Spirit shall find no forgiveness.

So Christ, up in arms against the Father, exculpated Himself and bowed to the Father. Yet man must insist either on one or on the other: either he must adhere to the Son or to the Father. And since the Renaissance, disappointed in the flesh, the northern races have sought the consummation through Love; and they have denied the Father.

The greatest and deepest human desire, for consummation, for Self-Knowledge, has sought a different satisfaction. In Love, in the act of love, that which is mixed in me becomes pure, that which is female in me is given to the female, that which is male in her draws into me,? am complete, I am pure male, she is pure female; we rejoice in contact perfect and naked and clear, singled out unto ourselves, and given the surpassing freedom. No longer we see through a glass, darkly. For she is she, and I am I, and, clasped to gether with her, I know how perfectly she is not me, how perfectly I am not her, how utterly we are two, the light and the darkness, and how infinitely and eternally not-to-be-comprehended by either of us is the surpassing One we make. Yet of this One, this incomprehensible, we have an inkling that satisfies us.

And through Christ Jesus, I know that I shall find my Bride, when I have overcome the impurity of the flesh. When the flesh in me is put away, I shall embrace the Bride, and I shall know as I am known.

But why the Schism? Why shall the Father say “Thou shalt have no other God before Me”? Why is the Lord our God a jealous God? Why, when the body fails me, must I still adhere to the Law, and give it praise as the perfect Abstraction, like Raphael, announce it as the Absolute? Why must I be imprisoned within the flesh, like Michelangelo, till I must stop the voice of my crying out, and be satisfied with a little where I wanted completeness?

And why, on the other hand, must I lose my life to save it? Why must I die, before I can be born again? Can I not be born again, save out of my own ashes, save in resurrection from the dead? Why must I deny the Father, to love the Son? Why are they not One God to me, as we always protest they are?

It is time that the schism ended, that man ceased to oppose the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father. It is time that the Protestant Church, the Church of the Son, should be one again with the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of the Father. It is time that man shall cease, first to live in the flesh, with joy, and then, unsatisfied, to renounce and to mortify the flesh, declaring that the Spirit alone exists, that Christ He is God.

If a man find incomplete satisfaction in the body, why therefore shall he renounce the body and say it is of the devil? And why, at the start, shall a man say, “The body, that is all, and the consummation, that is complete in the flesh, for me.”

Must it always be that a man set out with a worship of passion and a blindness to love, and that he end with a stern commandment to love and a renunciation of passion?

Does not a youth now know that he desires the body as the via media, that consummation is consummation of body and spirit, both?

How can a man say, “I am this body,” when he will desire beyond the body tomorrow? And how can a man say, “I am this spirit,” when his own mouth gives lie to the words it forms?

Why is a race, like the Italian race, fundamentally melancholy, save that it has circumscribed its consummation within the body? And the Jewish race, for the same reason, has become now almost hollow, with a pit of emptiness and misery in their eyes.

And why is the English race neutral, indifferent, like a thing that eschews life, save that it has said so insistently: “I am this spirit. This body, it is not me, it is unworthy”? The body at last begins to wilt and become corrupt. But before it submits, half the life of the English race must be a lie. The life of the body, denied by the professed adherence to the spirit, must be something disowned, corrupt, ugly.

Why should the worship of the Son entail the denial of the Father?

Since the Renaissance, northern humanity has sought for consummation in the spirit, it has sought for the female apart from woman. “I am I, and the Spirit is the Spirit; in the Spirit I am myself,” and this has been the utterance of our art since Raphael.

There has been the ever-developing dissolution of form, the dissolving of the solid body within the spirit. He began to break the clear outline of the object, to seek for further marriage, not only between body and body, not the perfect, stable union of body with body, not the utter completeness and accomplishment of architectural form, with its recurrent cycles, but the marriage between body and spirit, or between spirit and spirit.

It is no longer the Catholic exultation “God is God,” but the Christian annunciation, “Light is come into the world.” No longer has a man only to obey, but he has to die and be born again; he has to close his eyes upon his own immediate desires, and in the darkness receive the perfect light. He has to know himself in the spirit, he has to follow Christ to the Cross, and rise again in the light of the life.

And, in this light of life, he will see his Bride, he will embrace his complement and his fulfilment, and achieve his consummation. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh forgetteth nothing; the words I speak unto you, they are the spirit, and they are life.”

And though in the Gospel, according to John particularly, Jesus constantly asserts that the Father has sent Him, and that He is of the Father, yet there is always the spirit of antagonism to the Father.

“And it came to pass, as He spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto Him: ‘Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps thou hast sucked.’

“But He said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”

And the woman who heard this knew that she was denied of the honour of her womb, and that the blessing of her breasts was taken away.

Again He said: “And there be those that were born eunuchs, and there be those that were made eunuchs by men, and there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” But before the Father a eunuch is blemished, even a childless man is without honour.

So that the spirit of Jesus is antagonistic to the spirit of the Father. And St. John enhances this antagonism. But in St. John there is the constant insistence on the Oneness of Father and Son, and on the Holy Spirit.

Since the Renaissance there has been the striving for the Light, and the escape from the Flesh, from the Body, the Object. And sometimes there has been the antagonism to the Father, sometimes reconciliation with Him. In painting, the Spirit, the Word, the Love, all that was represented by John, has appeared as light. Light is the constant symbol of Christ in the New Testament. It is light, actual sunlight or the luminous quality of day, which has infused more and more into the defined body, fusing away the outline, absolving the concrete reality, making a marriage, an embrace between the two things, light and object.

In Rembrandt there is the first great evidence of this, the new exposition of the commandment “Know thyself.” It is more than the “Hail, holy Light!” of Milton. It is the declaration that light is our medium of existence, that where the light falls upon our darkness, there we are: that I am but the point where light and darkness meet and break upon one another.

There is now a new conception of life, an utterly new conception, of duality, of two-fold existence, light and darkness, object and spirit two-fold, and almost inimical.

The old desire, for movement about a centre of rest, for stability, is gone, and in its place rises the desire for pure ambience, pure spirit of change, free from all laws and conditions of being.

Henceforward there are two things, and not one. But there is journeying towards the one thing again. There is no longer the One God Who contains us all, and in Whom we live and move and have our being, and to Whom belongs each one of our movements. I am no longer a child of the Father, brother of all men. I am no longer part of the great body of God, as all men are part of it. I am no longer consummate in the body of God, identified with it and divine in the act of marriage.

The conception has utterly changed. There is the Spirit, and there is Myself. I exist in contact with the Spirit, but I am not the Spirit. I am other, I am Myself. Now I am become a man, I am no more a child of the Father. I am a man. And there are many men. And the Father has lost his importance. We are multiple, manifold men, we own only one Hope, one Desire, one Bride, one Spirit.

At last man insists upon his own separate Self, insists that he has a distinct, inconquerable being which stands apart even from Spirit, which exists other than the Spirit, and which seeks marriage with the Spirit.

And he must study himself and marvel over himself in the light of the Spirit, he must become lyrical: but he must glorify the Spirit, above all. Since that is the Bride. So Rembrandt paints his own portrait again and again, sees it again and again within the light.

He has no hatred of the flesh. That he was not completed in the flesh, even in the marriage of the body, is inevitable. But he is married in the flesh, and his wife is with him in the body, he loves his body, which she gave him complete, and he loves her body, which is not himself, but which he has known. He has known and rejoiced in the earthly bride, he will adhere to her always. But there is the Spirit beyond her: there is his desire which transcends her, there is the Bride still he craves for and courts. And he knows, this is the Spirit, it is not the body. And he paints it as the light. And he paints himself within the light. For he has a deep desire to know himself in the embrace of the spirit. For he does not know himself, he is never consummated.

In the Old Law, fulfilled in him, he is not appeased, he must transcend the Law. The Woman is embraced, caught up, and carried forward, the male spirit, passing on half satisfied, must seek a new bride, a further consummation. For there is no bride on earth for him.

To Diirer, the whole earth was as a bride, unknown and unaccomplished, offering satisfaction to him. And he sought out the earth endlessly, as a man seeks to know a bride who surpasses him. It was all: the Bride.

But to Rembrandt the bride was not to be found, he must react upon himself, he must seek in himself for his own consummation. There was the Light, the Spirit, the Bridegroom. But when Rembrandt sought the complete Bride, sought for his own consummation, he knew it was not to be found, he knew she did not exist in the concrete. He knew, as Michelangelo knew, that there was not on the earth a woman to satisfy him, to be his mate. He must seek for the Bride beyond the physical woman; he must seek for the great female principle in an abstraction.

But the abstraction was not the geometric abstraction, created from knowledge, a state of Absolute Remembering, making Absolute of the Consummation which had been, as in Raphael. It was the desired Unknown, the goodly Unknown, the Spirit, the Light. And with this Light Rembrandt must seek even the marriage of the body. Everything he did approximates to the Consummation, but never can realise it. He paints always faith, belief, hope; never Raphael’s terrible, dead certainty.

To Diirer, every moment of his existence was occupied. He existed within the embrace of the Bride, which embrace he could never fathom nor exhaust.

Raphael knew and outraged the Bride, but he harked back, obsessed by the consummation which had been.

To Rembrandt, woman was only the first acquaintance with the Bride. Of woman he obtained and expected no complete satisfaction. He knew he must go on, beyond the woman. But though the flesh could not find its consummation, still he did not deny the flesh. He was an artist, and in his art no artist ever could blaspheme the Holy Spirit, the Reconciler. Only a dogmatist could do that. Rembrandt did not deny the flesh, as so many artists try to do. He went on from her to the fuller knowledge of the Bride, in true progression. Which makes the wonderful beauty of Rembrandt.

But, like Michelangelo, owning the flesh, and a northern Christian being bent on personal salvation, personal consummation in the flesh, such as a Christian feels with us when he receives the Sacrament and hears the words “This is My Body, take, and eat,” Rembrandt craved to marry the flesh and the Spirit, to achieve consummation in the flesh through marriage with the Spirit.

Which is the great northern confusion. For the flesh is of the flesh, and the Spirit of the Spirit, and they are two, even as the Father and the Son are two, and not One.

Raphael conceived the two as One, thereby revoking Time. Michelangelo would have created the bridal Flesh, to satisfy himself. Rembrandt would have married his own flesh to the Spirit, taken the consummate Kiss of the Light upon his fleshly face.

Which is a confusion. For the Father cannot know the Son, nor the Son the Father. So, in Rembrandt, the marriage is always imperfect, the embrace is never close nor consummate, as it is in Botticelli or in Raphael, or in Michelangelo. There is an eternal non - marriage betwixt flesh and spirit. They are two; they are never Two-in-One. So that in Rembrandt there is never complete marriage betwixt the Light and the Body. They are contiguous, never.

This has been the confusion and the error of the northern countries, but particularly of Germany, this desire to have the spirit mate with the flesh, the flesh with the spirit. Spirit can mate with spirit, and flesh with flesh, and the two matings can take place separately, flesh with flesh, or spirit with spirit. But to try to mate flesh with spirit makes confusion.

The bride I mate with my body may or may not be the Bride in whom I find my consummation. It may be that, at times, the great female principle does not abide abundantly in woman: that, at certain periods, woman, in the body, is not the supreme representative of the Bride. It may be the Bride is hidden from Man, as the Light, or as the Darkness, which he can never know in the flesh.

It may be, in the same way, that the great male principle is only weakly evidenced in man during certain periods, that the Bridegroom be hidden away from woman, for a century or centuries, and that she can only find Him as the voice, or the Wind. So I think it was with her during the medieval period; that the greatest women of the period knew that the Bridegroom did not exist for them in the body, but as the Christ, the Spirit.

And, in times of the absence of the bridegroom from the body, then woman in the body must either die in the body, or, mating in the body, she must mate with the Bridegroom in the Spirit, in a separate marriage. She cannot mate her body with the Spirit, nor mate her spirit with the Body. That is confusion. Let her mate the man in body, and her spirit with the Spirit, in a separate marriage. But let her not try to mate her spirit with the body of the man, that does not mate her Spirit.

The effort to mate spirit with body, body with spirit, is the crying confusion and pain of our times.

Rembrandt made the first effort. But art has developed to a clarity since then. It reached its climax in our own Turner. He did not seek to mate body with spirit. He mated his body easily, he did not deny it. But what he sought was the mating of the Spirit. Ever, he sought the consummation in the Spirit, and he reached it at last. Ever, he sought the Light, to make the light transfuse the body, till the body was carried away, a mere bloodstain, became a ruddy stain of red sunlight within white sunlight. This was perfect consummation in Turner, when, the body gone, the ruddy light meets the crystal light in a perfect fusion, the utter dawn, the utter golden sunset, the extreme of all life, where all is One, One-Being, a perfect glowing Oneness.

Like Raphael, it becomes an abstraction. But this, in Turner, is the abstraction from the spiritual marriage and consummation, the final transcending of all the Law, the achieving of what is to us almost a nullity. If Turner had ever painted his last picture, it would have been a white, incandescent surface, the same whiteness when he finished as when he began, proceeding from nullity to nullity, through all the range of colour.

Turner is perfect. Such a picture as his Norham Castle, Sunrise, where only the faintest shadow of life stains the light, is the last word that can be uttered,..before the blazing and timeless silence.

He sought, and he found, perfect marriage in the spirit. It was apart from woman. His Bride was the Light. Or he was the bride himself, and the Light — the Bridegroom. Be that as it may, he became one and consummate with the Light, and gave us the consummate revelation.

Corot, also, nearer to the Latin tradition of utter consummation in the body, made a wonderful marriage in the spirit between light and darkness, just tinctured with life. But he contained more of the two consummations together, the marriage in the body, represented in geometric form, and the marriage in the spirit, represented by shimmering transfusion and infusion of light through darkness.

But Turner is the crisis in this effort: he achieves pure light, pure and singing. In him the consummation is perfect, the perfect marriage in the spirit.

In the body his marriage was other. He never attempted to mingle the two. The marriage in the body, with the woman, was apart from, completed away from the marriage in the Spirit, with the Bride, the Light.

But I cannot look at a later Turner picture without abstracting myself, without denying that I have limbs, knees and thighs and breast. If I look at the Norham Castle, and remember my own knees and my own breast, then the picture is a nothing to me. I must not know. And if I look at Raphael’s Madonna degli Ansidei, I am cut off from my future, from aspiration. The gate is shut upon me, I can go no further. The thought of Turner’s Sunrise becomes magic and fascinating, it gives the lie to this completed symbol. I know I am the other thing as well.

So that, whenever art or any expression becomes perfect, it becomes a lie. For it is only perfect by reason of abstraction from that context by which and in which it exists as truth.

So Turner is a lie, and Raphael is a lie, and the marriage in the spirit is a lie, and the marriage in the body is a lie, each is a lie without the other. Since each excludes the other in these instances, they are both lies. If they were brought together, and reconciled, then there were a jubilee. But where is the Holy Spirit that shall reconcile Raphael and Turner?

There must be marriage of body in body, and of spirit in spirit, and Two-in-One. And the marriage in the body must not deny the marriage in the spirit, for that is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; and the marriage in the spirit shall not deny the marriage in the body, for that is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. But the two must be for ever reconciled, even if they must exist on occasions apart one from the other.

For in Botticelli the dual marriage is perfect, or almost perfect, body and spirit reconciled, or almost reconciled, in a perfect dual consummation. And in all art there is testimony to the wonderful dual marriage, the true consummation. But in Raphael, the mar riage in the spirit is left out so much that it is almost denied, so that the picture is almost a lie, almost a blasphemy. And in Turner, the marriage in the body is almost denied in the same way, so that his picture is almost a blasphemy. But neither in Raphael nor in Turner is the denial positive: it is only an over-affirmation of the one at the expense of the other.

But in some men, in some small men, like bishops, the denial of marriage in the body is positive and blasphemous, a sin against the Holy Ghost. And in some men, like Prussian army officers, the denial of marriage in the spirit is an equal blasphemy. But which of the two is a greater sinner, working better for the destruction of his fellow-man, that is for the One God to judge.


A Nos Moutons

Most fascinating in all artists is this antinomy between Law and Love, between the Flesh and the Spirit, between the Father and the Son.

For the moralist it is easy. He can insist on that aspect of the Law or Love which is in the immediate line of development for his age, and he can sternly and severely exclude or suppress all the rest.

So that all morality is of temporary value, useful to its times. But Art must give a deeper satisfaction. It must give fair play all round.

Yet every work of art adheres to some system of morality. But if it be really a work of art, it must contain the essential criticism on the morality to which it adheres. And hence the antinomy, hence the conflict necessary to every tragic conception.

The degree to which the system of morality, or the metaphysic, of any work of art is submitted to criticism within the work of art makes the lasting value and satisfaction of that work. Aeschylus, having caught the oriental idea of Love, correcting the tremendous Greek conception of the Law with this new idea, produces the intoxicating satisfaction of the Orestean trilogy. The Law, and Love, they are here the Two-in-One in all their magnificence. But Euripides, with his aspiration towards Love, Love the supreme, and his almost hatred of the Law, Law the Triumphant but Base Closer of Doom, is less satisfactory, because of the very fact that he holds Love always Supreme, and yet must endure the chagrin of seeing Love perpetually transgressed and overthrown. So he makes his tragedy: the higher thing eternally pulled down by the lower. And this unfairness in the use of terms, higher and lower, but above all, the unfairness of showing Love always violated and suffering, never supreme and triumphant, makes us disbelieve Euripides in the end. For we have to bring in pity, we must admit that Love is at a fundamental disadvantage before the Law, and cannot therefore ever hold its own. Which is weak philosophy.

If Aeschylus has a metaphysic to his art, this metaphysic is that Love and Law are Two, eternally in conflict, and eternally being reconciled. This is the tragic significance of Aeschylus.

But the metaphysic of Euripides is that the Law and Love are two eternally in conflict, and unequally matched, so that Love must always be borne down. In Love a man shall only suffer. There is also a Reconciliation, otherwise Euripides were not so great. But there is always the unfair matching, this disposition insisted on, which at last leaves one cold and unbelieving.

The moments of pure satisfaction come in the choruses, in the pure lyrics, when Love is put into true relations with the Law, apart from knowledge, transcending knowledge, transcending the metaphysic, where the aspiration to Love meets the acknowledgment of the Law in a consummate marriage, for the moment.

Where Euripides adheres to his metaphysic, he is unsatisfactory. Where he transcends his metaphysic, he gives that supreme equilibrium wherein we know satisfaction.

The adherence to a metaphysic does not necessarily give artistic form. Indeed the over-strong adherence to a metaphysic usually destroys any possibility of artistic form. Artistic form is a revelation of the two principles of Love and the Law in a state of conflict and yet reconciled: pure motion struggling against and yet reconciled with the Spirit: active force meeting and overcoming and yet not overcoming inertia. It is the conjunction of the two which makes form. And since the two must always meet under fresh conditions, form must always be different. Each work of art has its own form, which has no relation to any other form. When a young painter studies an old master, he studies, not the form, that is an abstraction which does not exist: he studies maybe the method of the old great artist: but he studies chiefly to understand how the old great artist suffered in himself the conflict of Love and Law, and brought them to a reconciliation. Apart from artistic method, it is not Art that the young man is studying, but the State of Soul of the great old artist, so that he, the young artist, may understand his own soul and gain a reconciliation between the aspiration and the resistant.

It is most wonderful in poetry, this sense of conflict contained within a reconciliation:

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!

Bird thou never wert, That from Heaven, or near it,

Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Shelley wishes to say, the skylark is a pure, untrammelled spirit, a pure motion. But the very “Bird thou never wert” admits that the skylark is in very fact a bird, a concrete, momentary thing. If the line ran, “Bird thou never art,” that would spoil it all. Shelley wishes to say, the song is poured out of heaven: but “or near it,” he admits. There is the perfect relation between heaven and earth. And the last line is the tumbling sound of a lark’s singing, the real Two-in-One.

The very adherence to rhyme and regular rhythm is a concession to the Law, a concession to the body, to the being and requirements of the body. They are an admission of the living, positive inertia which is the other half of life, other than the pure will to motion. In this consummation, they are the resistance and response of the Bride in the arms of the Bridegroom. And according as the Bride and Bridegroom come closer together, so is the response and resistance more fine, indistinguishable, so much the more, in this act of consummation, is the movement that of Two-in-One, indistinguishable each from the other, and not the movement of two brought together clumsily.

So that in Swinburne, where almost all is concession to the body, so that the poetry becomes almost a sensation and not an experience or a consummation, justifying Spinoza’s “Amor est titillatio, con - comitante idea causae externae,” we find continual adherence to the body, to the Rose, to the Flesh, the physical in everything, in the sea, in the marshes; there is an overbalance in the favour of Supreme Law; Love is not Love, but passion, part of the Law; there is no Love, there is only Supreme Law. And the poet sings the Supreme Law to gain rebalance in himself, for he hovers always on the edge of death, of Not-Being, he is always out of reach of the Law, bodiless, in the faintness of Love that has triumphed and de nied the Law, in the dread of an over-developed, over-sensitive soul which exists always on the point of dissolution from the body.

But he is not divided against himself. It is the novelists and dramatists who have the hardest task in reconciling their metaphysic, their theory of being and knowing, with their living sense of being. Because a novel is a microcosm, and because man in viewing the universe must view it in the light of a theory, therefore every novel must have the background or the structural skeleton of some theory of being, some metaphysic. But the metaphysic must always subserve the artistic purpose beyond the artist’s conscious aim. Otherwise the novel becomes a treatise.

And the danger is, that a man shall make himself a metaphysic to excuse or cover his own faults or failure. Indeed, a sense of fault or failure is the usual cause of a man’s making himself a metaphysic, to justify himself.

Then, having made himself a metaphysic of self-justification, or a metaphysic of self-denial, the novelist proceeds to apply the world to this, instead of applying this to the world.

Tolstoi is a flagrant example of this. Probably because of profligacy in his youth, because he had disgusted himself in his own flesh, by excess or by prostitution, therefore Tolstoi, in his metaphysic, renounced the flesh altogether, later on, when he had tried and had failed to achieve complete marriage in the flesh. But above all things, Tolstoi was a child of the Law, he belonged to the Father. He had a marvellous sensuous understanding, and very little clarity of mind.

So that, in his metaphysic, he had to deny himself, his own being, in order to escape his own disgust of what he had done to himself, and to escape admission of his own failure.

Which made all the later part of his life a crying falsity and shame. Reading the reminiscences of Tolstoi, one can only feel shame at the way Tolstoi denied all that was great in him, with vehement cowardice. He degraded himself infinitely, he perjured himself far more than did Peter when he denied Christ. Peter repented. But Tolstoi denied the Father, and propagated a great system of his recusancy, elabourating his own weakness, blaspheming his own strength. “What difficulty is there in writing about how an officer fell in love with a married woman?” he used to say of his Anna Karenina; “there’s no difficulty in it, and, above all, no good in it.”

Because he was mouthpiece to the Father in uttering the law of passion, he said there was no difficulty in it, because it came naturally to him. Christ might just as easily have said, there was no difficulty in the Parable of the Sower, and no good in it, either, because it flowed out of him without effort.

And Thomas Hardy’s metaphysic is something like Tolstoi’s. “There is no reconciliation between Love and the Law,” says Hardy. “The spirit of Love must always succumb before the blind, stupid, but overwhelming power of the Law.”

Already as early as The Return of the Native he has come to this theory, in order to explain his own sense of failure. But before that time, from the very start, he has had an overweening theoretic antagonism to the Law. “That which is physical, of the body, is weak, despicable, bad,” he said at the very start. He represented his fleshy heroes as villains, but ver7 weak and maundering villains. At its worst, the Law is a weak, craven sensuality: at its best, it is a passive inertia. It is the gap in the armour, it is the hole in the foundation.

Such a metaphysic is almost silly. If it were not that man is much stronger in feeling than in thought, the Wessex novels would be sheer rubbish, as they are already in parts. The Well-Beloved is sheer rubbish, fatuity, as is a good deal of The Dynasts conception.

But it is not as a metaphysician that one must consider Hardy. He makes a poor show there. For nothing in his work is so pitiable as his clumsy efforts to push events into line with his theory of being, and to make calamity fall on those who represent the principle of Love. He does it exceedingly badly, and owing to this effort his form is execrable in the extreme.

His feeling, his instinct, his sensuous understanding is, however, apart from his metaphysic, very great and deep, deeper than that, perhaps, of any other English novelist. Putting aside his metaphysic, which must always obtrude when he thinks of people, and turning to the earth, to landscape, then he is true to himself.

Always he must start from the earth, from the great source of the Law, and his people move in his landscape almost insignificantly, somewhat like tame animals wandering in the wild. The earth is the manifestation of the Father, of the Creator, Who made us in the Law. God still speaks aloud in His Works, as to Job, so to Hardy, surpassing human conception and the human law. “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge? How thy garments are warm, when he quiet - eth the earth by the south wind? Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong?”

This is the true attitude of Hardy — ”With God is terrible majesty.” The theory of knowledge, the metaphysic of the man, is much smaller than the man himself. So with Tolstoi.

“Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. Their young ones are good in liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them.”

There is a good deal of this in Hardy. But in Hardy there is more than the concept of Job, protesting his integrity. Job says in the end: “Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

“I have heard of thee by hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee.

“Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

But Jude ends where Job began, cursing the day and the services of his birth, and in so much cursing the act of the Lord, “Who made him in the womb.”

It is the same cry all through Hardy, this curse upon the birth in the flesh, and this unconscious adherence to the flesh. The instincts, the bodily passions are strong and sudden in all Hardy’s men. They are too strong and sudden. They fling Jude into the arms of Arabella, years after he has known Sue, and against his own will.

For every man comprises male and female in his being, the male always struggling for predominance. A woman likewise consists in male and female, with female predominant.

And a man who is strongly male tends to deny, to refute the female in him. A real “man” takes no heed for his body, which is the more female part of him. He considers himself only as an instrument, to be used in the service of some idea.

The true female, on the other hand, will eternally hold herself superior to any idea, will hold full life in the body to be the real happiness. The male exists in doing, the female in being. The male lives in the satisfaction of some purpose achieved, the female in the satisfaction of some purpose contained.

In Aeschylus, in the Eumenides, there is Apollo, Loxias, the Sun Cod, the prophet, the male: there are the Erinyes, daughters of primeval Mother Night, representing here the female risen in retri bution for some crime against the flesh; and there is Pallas, unbe - gotten daughter of Zeus, who is as the Holy Spirit in the Christian religion, the spirit of wisdom.

Orestes is bidden by the male god, Apollo, to avenge the murder of his father, Agamemnon, by his mother: jhat is, the male, murdered by the female, must be avenged by the male. But Orestes is child of his mother. He is in himself female. So that in himself the conscience, the madness, the violated part of his own self, his own body, drives him to the Furies. On the male side, he is right; on the female, wrong. But peace is given at last by Pallas, the Arbitrator, the spirit of wisdom.

And although Aeschylus in his consciousness makes the Furies hideous, and Apollo supreme, yet, in his own self and in very fact, he makes the Furies wonderful and noble, with their tremendous hymns, and makes Apollo a trivial, sixth-form braggart and ranter. Clytemnestra also, wherever she appears, is wonderful and noble. Her sin is the sin of pride: she was the first to be injured. Agamemnon is a feeble thing beside her.

So Aeschylus adheres still to the Law, to Right, to the Creator who created man in His Own Image, and in His Law. What he has learned of Love, he does not yet quite believe.

Hardy has the same belief in the Law, but in conceipt of his own understanding, which cannot understand the Law, he says that the Law is nothing, a blind confusion.

And in conceipt of understanding, he deprecates and destroys both women and men who would represent the old primeval Law, the great Law of the Womb, the primeval Female principle. The Female shall not exist. Where it appears, it is a criminal tendency, to be stamped out.

This in Manston, Troy, Boldwood, Eustacia, Wildeve, Henchard, Tess, Jude, everybody. The women approved of are not Female in any real sense. They are passive subjects to the male, the re-echo from the male. As in the Christian religion, the Virgin worship is no real Female worship, but worship of the Female as she is passive and subjected to the male. Hence the sadness of Botticelli’s Virgins.

Thus Tess sets out, not as any positive thing, containing all purpose, but as the acquiescent complement to the male. The female in her has become inert. Then Alec d’Urberville comes along, and possesses her. From the man who takes her Tess expects her own consummation, the singling out of herself, the addition of the male complement. She is of an old line, and has the aristocratic quality of respect for the other being. She does not see the other person as an extension of herself, existing in a universe of which she is the centre and pivot. She knows that other people are outside her. Therein she is an aristocrat. And out of this attitude to the other person came her passivity. It is not the same as the passive quality in the other little heroines, such as the girl in The Woodlanders, who is passive because she is small.

Tess is passive out of self-acceptance, a true aristocratic quality, amounting almost to self-indifference. She knows she is herself in - controvertibly, and she knows that other people are not herself. This is a very rare quality, even in a woman. And in a civilization so unequal, it is almost a weakness.

Tess never tries to alter or to change anybody, neither to alter nor to change nor to divert. What another person decides, that is his decision. She respects utterly the other’s right to be. She is herself always.

But the others do not respect her right to be. Alec d’Urberville sees her as the embodied fulfilment of his own desire: something, that is, belonging to him. She cannot, in his conception, exist apart from him nor have any being apart from his being. For she is the embodiment of his desire.

This is very natural and common in men, this attitude to the world. But in Alec d’Urberville it applies only to the woman of his desire. He cares only for her. Such a man adheres to the female like a parasite.

It is a male quality to resolve a purpose to its fulfilment. It is the male quality, to seek the motive power in the female, and to convey this to a fulfilment; to receive some impulse into his senses, and to transmit it into expression.

Alec d’Urberville does not do this. He is male enough, in his way; but only physically male. He is constitutionally an enemy of the principle of self-subordination, which principle is inherent in every man. It is this principle which makes a man, a true male, see his job through, at no matter what cost. A man is strictly only himself when he is fulfilling some purpose he has conceived: so that the principle is not of self-subordination, but of continuity, of development. Only when insisted on, as in Christianity, does it become self-sacrifice. And this resistance to self-sacrifice on Alec d’Urberville’s part does not make him an individualist, an egoist, but rather a non - individual, an incomplete, almost a fragmentary thing.

There seems to be in d’Urberville an inherent antagonism to any progression in himself. Yet he seeks with all his power for the source of stimulus in woman. He takes the deep impulse from the female. In this he is exceptional. No ordinary man could really have betrayed Tess. Even if she had had an illegitimate child to another man, to Angel Clare, for example, it would not have shattered her as did her connection with Alec d’Urberville. For Alec d’Urberville could reach some of the real sources of the female in a woman, and draw from them. Troy could also do this. And, as a woman instinctively knows, such men are rare. Therefore they have a power over a woman. They draw from the depth of her being.

And what they draw, they betray. With a natural male, what he draws from the source of the female, the impulse he receives from the source he transmits through his own being into utterance, motion, action, expression. But Troy and Alec d’Urberville, what they received they knew only as gratification in the senses; some perverse will prevented them from submitting to it, from becoming instrumental to it.

Which was why Tess was shattered by Alec d’Urberville, and why she murdered him in the end. The murder is badly done, altogether the book is botched, owing to the way of thinking in the author, owing to the weak yet obstinate theory of being. Nevertheless, the murder is true, the whole book is true, in its conception.

Angel Clare has the very opposite qualities to those of Alec d’Urberville. To the latter, the female in himself is the only part of himself he will acknowledge: the body, the senses, that which he shares with the female, which the female shares with him. To Angel Clare, the female in himself is detestable, the body, the senses, that which he will share with a woman, is held degraded. What he wants really is to receive the female impulse other than through the body. But his thinking has made him criticize Christianity, his deeper instinct has forbidden him to deny his body any further, a deadlock in his own being, which denies him any purpose, so that he must take to hand, labour out of sheer impotence to resolve himself, drives him unwillingly to woman. But he must see her only as the Female Principle, he cannot bear to see her as the Woman in the Body. Her he thinks degraded. To marry her, to have a physical marriage with her, he must overcome all his ascetic revulsion, he must, in his own mind, put off his own divinity, his pure maleness, his singleness, his pure completeness, and descend to the heated welter of the flesh. It is objectionable to him. Yet his body, his life, is too strong for him.

Who is he, that he shall be pure male, and deny the existence of the female? This is the question the Creator asks of him. Is then the male the exclusive whole of life? — is he even the higher or supreme part of life? Angel Clare thinks so: as Christ thought.

Yet it is not so, as even Angel Clare must find out. Life, that is Two-in-One, Male and Female. Nor is either part greater than the other.

It is not Angel Clare’s fault that he cannot come to Tess when he finds that she has, in his words, been defiled. It is the result of generations of ultra-Christian training, which had left in him an inherent aversion to the female, and to all in himself which pertained to the female. What he, in his Christian sense, conceived of as Woman, was only the servant and attendant and administering spirit to the male. He had no idea that there was such a thing as positive Woman, as the Female, another great living Principle counterbalancing his own male principle. He conceived of the world as consisting of the One, the Male Principle.

Which conception was already gendered in Botticelli, whence the melancholy of the Virgin. Which conception reached its fullest in Turner’s pictures, which were utterly bodiless; and also in the great scientists or thinkers of the last generation, even Darwin and Spencer and Huxley. For these last conceived of evolution, of one spirit or principle starting at the far end of time, and lonelily traversing Time. But there is not one principle, there are two, travelling always to meet, each step of each one lessening the distance between the two of them. And Space, which so frightened Herbert Spencer, is as a Bride to us. And the cry of Man does not ring out into the Void. It rings out to Woman, whom we know not.

This Tess knew, unconsciously. An aristocrat she was, developed through generations to the belief in her own self-establishment. She could help, but she could not be helped. She could give, but she could not receive. She could attend to the wants of the other person, but no other person, save another aristocrat — and there is scarcely - such a thing as another aristocrat — could attend to her wants, her deepest wants.

So it is the aristocrat alone who has any real and vital sense of “the neighbour,” of the other person; who has the habit of submerging himself, putting himself entirely away before the other person: because he expects to receive nothing from the other person. So that now he has lost much of his initiative force, and exists almost isolated, detached, and without the surging ego of the ordinary man, because he has controlled his nature according to the other man, to exclude him.

AncL Tess, despising herself in the flesh, despising the deep Female she was, because Alec d’Urberville had betrayed her very source loved Angel Clare, who also despised and hated the flesh. She did not hate d’Urberville. What a man did, he did, and if he did it to her, it was her look-out. She did not conceive of him as having any human duty towards her.

The same with Angel Clare as with Alec d’Urberville. She was very grateful to him for saving her from her despair of contamination, and from her bewildered isolation. But when he accused her, she could not plead or answer. For she had no right to his goodness. She stood alone.

The female was strong in her. She was herself. But she was out of place, utterly out of her element and her times. Hence her utter bewilderment. This is the reason why she was so overcome. She was outwearied from the start, in her spirit. For it is only by receiving from all our fellows that we are kept fresh and vital. Tess was herself, female, intrinsically a woman.

The female in her was indomitable, unchangeable, she was utterly constant to herself. But she was, by long breeding, intact from mankind. Though Alec d’Urberville was of no kin to her, yet, in the book, he has always a quality of kinship. It was as if only a kinsman, an aristocrat, could approach her. And this to her undoing. Angel Clare would never have reached her. She would have abandoned herself to him, but he would never have reached her. It needed a physical aristocrat. She would have lived with her husband, Clare, in a state of abandon to him, like a coma. Alec d’Urberville forced her to realise him, and to realise herself. He came close to her, as Clare could never have done. So she murdered him. For she was herself.

And just as the aristocratic principle had isolated Tess, it had isolated Alec d’Urberville. For .though Hardy consciously made the young betrayer a plebeian and an impostor, unconsciously, with the supreme justice of the artist, he made him the same as de Stancy, a true aristocrat, or as Fitzpiers, or Troy. He did not give him the tiredness, the touch of exhaustion necessary, in Hardy’s mind, to an aristocrat. But he gave him the intrinsic qualities.

With the men as with the women of old descent: they have nothing to do with mankind in general, they are exceedingly personal.

For many generations they have been accustomed to regard their own desires as their own supreme laws. They have not been bound by the conventional morality: this they have transcended, being a code unto themselves. The other person has been always present to their imagination, in the spectacular sense. He has always existed to them. But he has always existed as something other than themselves.

Hence the inevitable isolation, detachment of the aristocrat. His one aim, during centuries, has been to keep himself detached. At last he finds himself, by his very nature, cut off.

Then either he must go his own way, or he must struggle towards reunion with the mass of mankind. Either he must be an incomplete individualist, like de Stancy, or like the famous Russian nobles, he must become a wild humanitarian and reformer.

For as all the governing power has gradually been taken from the nobleman, and as, by tradition, by inherent inclination, he does not occupy himself with profession other than government, how shall he use that power which is in him and which comes into him?

He is, by virtue of breed and long training, a perfect instrument. He knows, as every pure-bred thing knows, that his root and source is in his female. He seeks the motive power in the woman. And, having taken it, has nothing to do with it, can find, in this democratic, plebeian age, no means by which to transfer it into action, expression, utterance. So there is a continual gnawing of unsatisfac - tion, a constant seeking of another woman, still another woman. For each time the impulse comes fresh, everything seems all right.

It may be, also, that in the aristocrat a certain weariness makes him purposeless, vicious, like a form of death. But that is not necessary. One feels that in Manston, and Troy, and Fitzpiers, and Alec d’Urberville, there is good stuff gone wrong. Just as in Angel Clare, there is good stuff gone wrong in the other direction.

There can never be one extreme of wrong, without the other extreme. If there had never been the extravagant Puritan idea, that the Female Principle was to be denied, cast out by man from his soul, that only the Male Principle, of Abstraction, of Good, of Public Good, of the Community, embodied in “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” really existed, there would never have been produced the extreme Cavalier type, which says that only the Female Principle endures in man, that all the Abstraction, the Good, the Public Elevation, the Community, was a grovelling cowardice, and that man lived by enjoyment, through his senses, enjoyment which ended in his senses. Or perhaps better, if the extreme Cavalier type had never been produced, we should not have had the Puritan, the extreme correction.

The one extreme produces the other. It is inevitable for Angel Clare and for Alec d’Urberville mutually to destroy the woman they both loved. Each does her the extreme of wrong, so she is destroyed.

The book is handled with very uncertain skill, botched and bungled. But it contains the elements of the greatest tragedy: Alec d’Urberville, who has killed the male in himself, as Clytemnestra symbolically for Orestes killed Agamemnon; Angel Clare, who has killed the female in himself, as Orestes killed Clytemnestra: and Tess, the Woman, the Life, destroyed by a mechanical fate, in the communal law.

There is no reconciliation. Tess, Angel Clare, Alec d’Urberville, they are all as good as dead. For Angel Clare, though still apparently alive, is in reality no more than a mouth, a piece of paper, like Clym left preaching.

There is no reconciliation, only death. And so Hardy really states his case, which is not his consciously stated metaphysic, by any means, but a statement how man has gone wrong and brought death on himself: how man has violated the Law, how he has superero - gated himself, gone so far in his male conceit as to supersede the Creator, and win death as a reward. Indeed, the works of supererogation of our male assiduity help us to a better salvation.

Jude is only Tess turned round about. Instead of the heroine containing the two principles, male and female, at strife within her one being, it is Jude who contains them both, whilst the two women with him take the place of the two men to Tess. Arabella is Alec d’Urberville, Sue is Angel Clare. These represent the same pair of principles.

But, first, let it be said again that Hardy is a bad artist. Because he must condemn Alec d’Urberville, according to his own personal creed, therefore he shows him a vulgar intriguer of coarse lasses, and as ridiculous convert to evangelism. But Alec d’Urberville, by the artist’s account, is neither of these. It is, in actual life, a rare man who seeks and seeks among women for one of such character and intrinsic female being as Tess. The ordinary sensualist avoids such characters. They implicate him too deeply. An ordinary sensualist would have been much too common, much too afraid, to turn to Tess. In a way, d’Urberville was her mate. And his subsequent passion for her is in its way noble enough. But whatever his passion, as a male, he must be a betrayer, even if he had been the most faithful husband on earth. He betrayed the female in a woman, by taking her, and by responding with no male impulse from himself. He roused her, but never satisfied her. He could never satisfy her. It was like a soul-disease in him: he was, in the strict though not the technical sense, impotent. But he must have wanted, later on, not to be so. But he could not help himself. He was spiritually impotent in love.

Arabella was the same. She, like d’Urberville, was converted by an evangelical’preacher. It is significant in both of them. They were not just shallow, as Hardy would have made them out.

He is, however, more contemptuous in his personal attitude to the woman than to the man. “He insists that she is a pig-killer’s daughter; he insists that she drag Jude into pig-killing; he lays stress on her false tail of hair. That is not the point at all. This is only Hardy’s bad art. He himself, as an artist, manages in the whole picture of Arabella almost to make insignificant in her these pigsticking, false-hair crudities. But he must have his personal revenge on her for her coarseness, which offends him, because he is something of an Angel Clare.

The pig-sticking and so forth are not so important in the real picture. As for the false tail of hair, few women dared have been so open and natural about it. Few women, indeed, dared have made Jude marry them. It may have been a case with Arabella of “fools rush in.” But she was not such a fool. And her motives are explained in the book. Life is not, in the actual, such a simple affair of getting a fellow and getting married. It is, even for Arabella, an affair on which she places her all. No barmaid marries anybody, the first man she can lay hands on. She cannot. It must be a personal thing to her. And no ordinary woman would want Jude. Moreover, no ordinary woman could have laid her hands on Jude.

It is an absurd fallacy this, that a small man wants a woman bigger and finer than he is himself. A man is as big as his real desires. Let a man, seeing with his eyes a woman of force and being, want her for his own, then that man is intrinsically an equal of that woman. And the same with a woman.

A coarse, shallow woman does not want to marry a sensitive, deep - feeling man. She feels no desire for him, she is not drawn to him, but repelled, knowing he will contemn her. She wants a man to correspond to herself: that is, if she is a young woman looking for a mate, as Arabella was.

What an old, jaded, yet still unsatisfied woman or man wants is another matter. Yet not even one of these will take a young creature of real character, superior in force. Instinct and fear prevent it.

Arabella was under all her disguise of pig-fat and false hair, and vulgar speech, in character somewhat an aristocrat. She was, like Eustacia, amazingly lawless, even splendidly so She believed in herself and she was not altered by any outside opinion of herself. Her fault was pride. She thought herself the centre of life, that all which existed belonged to her in so far as she wanted it.

In this she was something like Job. His attitude was “I am strong and rich, and, also, I am a good man.” He gave out of his own sense of bounty, and felt no indebtedness. Arabella was almost the same. She felt also strong and abundant, arrogant in her hold on life. She needed a complement; and the nearest thing to her satisfaction was Jude. For as she, intrinsically, was a strong female, by far overpowering her Annies and her friends, so was he a strong male.

The difference between them was not so much a difference of quality, or degree, as a difference of form. Jude, like Tess, wanted full consummation. Arabella, like Alec d’Urberville, had that in her which resisted full consummation, wanted only to enjoy herself in contact with the male. She would have no transmission.

There are two attitudes to love. A man in love with a woman says either: “I, the man, the male, am the supreme, I am the one, and the woman is administered unto me, and this is her highest function, to be administered unto me.” This was the conscious attitude of the Greeks. But their unconscious attitude was the reverse: they were in truth afraid of the female principle, their vaunt was empty, they went in deep, inner dread of her. So did the Jews, so do the Italians. But after the Renaissance, there was a change. Then began conscious Woman-reverence, and a lack of instinctive reverence, rather only an instinctive pity. It is according to the balance between the Male and Female principles.

The other attitude of a man in love, besides this of “she is administered unto my maleness,” is, “She is the unknown, the undiscovered, into which I plunge to discovery, losing myself.”

And what we call real love has always this latter attitude.

The first attitude, which belongs to passion, makes a man feel proud, splendid. It is a powerful stimulant to him, the female ad ministered to him. He feels full of blood, he walks the earth like a Lord. And it is to this state Nietzsche aspires in his Wille zur Machl. It is this the passionate nations crave.

And under all this there is, naturally, the sense of fear, transition, and the sadness of mortality. For, the female being herself an independent force, may she not withdraw, and leave a man empty, like ash, as one sees a Jew or an Italian so often?

This first attitude, too, of male pride receiving the female administration may, and often does, contain the corresponding intense fear and reverence of the female, as of the unknown. So that, starting from the male assertion, there came in the old days the full consummation; as often there comes the full consummation now.

But not always. The man may retain all the while the sense of himself, the primary male, receiving gratification. This constant reaction upon himself at length dulls his senses and his sensibility, and makes him mechanical, automatic. He grows gradually incapable of receiving any gratification from the female, and becomes a roue, only automatically alive, and frantic with the knowledge thereof.

It is the tendency of the Parisian — or has been — to take this attitude to love, and to intercourse. The woman knows herself all the while as the primary female receiving administration of the male. So she becomes hard and external, and inwardly jaded, tired out. It is the tendency of English women to take this attitude also. And it is this attitude of love, more than anything else, which devitalises a race, and makes it barren.

It is an attitude natural enough to start with. Every young man must think that it is the highest honour he can do to a woman, to receive from her her female administration to his male being, whilst he meanwhile gives her the gratification of himself. But intimacy usually corrects this, love, or use, or marriage: a married man ceases to think of himself as the primary male: hence often his dullness. Unfortunately, he also fails in many cases to realise the gladness of a man in contact with the unknown in the female, which gives him a sense of richness and oneness with all life, as if, by being part of life, he were infinitely rich. Which is different from the sense of power, of dominating life. The Wille zur Macht is a spurious feeling.

For a man who dares to look upon, and to venture within the unknown of the female, losing himself, like a man who gives himself to the sea, or a man who enters a primeval, virgin forest, feels,

when he returns, the utmost gladness of singing. This is certainly the gladness of a male bird in his singing, the amazing joy of return from the adventure into the unknown, rich with addition to his soul, rich with the knowledge of the utterly illimitable depth and breadth of the unknown; the ever-yielding extent of the unacquired, the unattained; the inexhaustible riches lain under unknown skies over unknown seas, all the magnificence that is, and yet which is unknown to any of us. And the knowledge of the reality with which it awaits me, the male, the knowledge of the calling and struggling of all the unknown, illimitable Female towards me, unembraced as yet, towards those men who will endlessly follow me, who will endlessly struggle after me, beyond me, further into this calling, unrealised vastness, nearer to the outstretched, eager, advancing unknown in the woman.

It is for this sense of All the magnificence that is unknown to me, of All that which stretches forth arms and breast to the Inexhaustible Embrace of all the ages, towards me, whose arms are outstretched, for this moment’s embrace which gives me the inkling of the Inexhaustible Embrace that every man must and does yearn. And whether he be a roue, and vicious, or young and virgin, this is the bottom of every man’s desire, for the embrace, for the advancing into the unknown, for the landing on the shore of the undiscovered half of the world, where the wealth of the female lies before us.

What is true of men is so of women. If we turn our faces west, towards nightfall and the unknown within the dark embrace of a wife, they turn their faces east, towards the sunrise and the brilliant, bewildering, active embrace of a husband. And as we are dazed with the unknown in her, so is she dazed with the unknown in us. It is so. And we throw up our joy to heaven like towers and spires and fountains and leaping flowers, so glad we are.

But always, we are divided within ourselves. Is it not that I am wonderful? Is it not a gratification for me when a stranger shall land on my shores and enjoy what he finds there? Shall I not also enjoy it? Shall I not enjoy the strange motion of the stranger, like a pleasant sensation of silk and warmth against me, stirring unknown fibres? Shall f not take this enjoyment without venturing out in dangerous waters, losing myself, perhaps destroying myself seeking the unknown? Shall I not stay at home, and by feeling the swift, soft airs blow out of the unknown upon my body, shall I not have rich pleasure of myself?

And, because they were afraid of the unknown, and because they wanted to retain the full-veined gratification of self-pleasure, men have kept their women tightly in bondage. But when the men were no longer afraid of the unknown, when they deemed it exhausted, they said, “There are no women; there are only daughters of men” — as we say now, as the Greeks tried to say. Hence the “Virgin” conception of woman, the passionless, passive conception, progressing from Fielding’s Amelia to Dickens’s Agnes, and on to Hardy’s Sue.

Whereas Arabella in Jude the Obscure has what one might call the selfish instinct for love, Jude himself has the other, the unselfish. She sees in him a male who can gratify her. She takes him, and is gratified by him. Which makes a man of him. He becomes a grown, independent man in the arms of Arabella, conscious of having met, and satisfied, the female demand in him. This makes a man of any youth. He is proven unto himself as a male being, initiated into the freedom of life.

But Arabella refused his purpose. She refused to combine with him in one purpose. Just like Alec d’Urberville, she had from the outset an antagonism to the submission to any change in herself, to any development. She had the will to remain where she was, static, and to receive and exhaust all impulse she received from the male, in her senses. Whereas in a normal woman, impulse received from the male drives her on to a sense of joy and wonder and glad freedom in touch with the unknown of which she is made aware, so that she exists on the edge of the unknown half in rapture. Which is the state the writers wish to portray in “Amelia” and “Agnes,” but particularlv in the former; which Reynolds wishes to portray in his pictures of women.

To all this Arabella was antagonistic. It seems like a perversion in her, as if she played havoc with the stuff she was made of, as Alec d’Urberville did. Nevertheless she remained always unswerv - able female, she never truckled to the male idea, but was self - responsible, without fear. It is easier to imagine such a woman, out of one’s desires, than to find her in real life. For, where a half - criminal type, a reckless, dare-devil type resembling her, may be found on the outskirts of society, yet these are not Arabella. Which criminal type, or reckless, low woman, would want to marry Jude? Arabella wanted Jude. And it is evident she was not too coarse for him, since she made no show of refinement from the first. The female in her, reckless and unconstrained, was strong enough to draw him after her, as her male, right to the end. Which other woman could have done this? At least let acknowledgment be made to her great female force of character. Her coarseness seems to me exaggerated to make the moralist’s case good against her.

Jude could never hate her. She did a great deal for the true making of him, for making him a grown man. She gave him to himself.

And there was danger at the outset that he should never become a man, but that he should remain incorporeal, smothered out under his idea of learning. He was somewhat in Angel Clare’s position. Not that generations of particular training had made him almost rigid and paralysed to the female: but that his whole passion was concentrated away from woman to reinforce in him the male impulse towards extending the consciousness. His family was a difficult family to marry. And this because, whilst the men were physically vital, with a passion towards the female from which no moral training had restrained them, like a plant tied to a stick and diverted, they had at the same time an inherent complete contempt of the female, valuing only that which was male. So that they were strongly divided against themselves, with no external hold, such as a moral system, to grip to.

It would have been possible for Jude, monkish, passionate, medieval, belonging to woman yet striving away from her, refusing to know her, to have gone on denying one side of his nature, adhering to his idea of learning, till he had stultified the physical impulse of his being and perverted it entirely. Arabella brought him to himself, gave him himself, made him free, sound as a physical male.

That she would not, or could not, combine her life with him for the fulfilment of a purpose was their misfortune. But at any rate, his purpose of becoming an Oxford don was a cut-and-dried purpose which had no connection with his living body, and for which probably no woman could have united with him.

No doubt Arabella hated his books, and hated his whole attitude to study. What had he, a passionate, emotional nature, to do with learning for learning’s sake, with mere academics? Any woman must know it was ridiculous. But he persisted with the tenacity of all perverseness. And she, in this something of an aristocrat, like Tess, feeling that she had no right to him, no right to receive anything from him, except his sex, in which she felt she gave and did not receive, for she conceived of herself as the primary female, as that which, in taking the male, conferred on him his greatest boon, she left him alone. Her attitude was, that he would find all he desired in coming to her. She was occupied with herself. It was not that she wanted him. She wanted to have the sensation of herself in contact with him. His being she refused. She allowed only her own being.

Therefore she scarcely troubled him, when he earned little money and took no notice of her. He did not refuse to take notice of her because he hated her, or was deceived by her, or disappointed in her. He was not. He refused to consider her seriously because he adhered with all his pertinacity to the idea of study, from which he excluded her.

Which she saw and knew, and allowed. She would not force him to notice her, or to consider her seriously. She would compel him to nothing. She had had a certain satisfaction of him, which would be no more if she stayed for ever. For she was non-developing. When she knew him in her senses she knew the end of him, as far as she was concerned. That was all.

So she just went her way. He did not blame her. He scarcely missed her. He returned to his books.

Really, he had lost nothing by his marriage with Arabella: neither innocence nor belief nor hope. He had indeed gained his manhood. She left him the stronger and completer.

And now he would concentrate all on his male idea, of arresting himself, of becoming himself a non-developing quality, an academic mechanism. That was his obsession. That was his craving: to have nothing to do with his own life. This was the same as Tess when she turned to Angel Clare. She wanted life merely in the secondary, outside form, in the consciousness.

It was another form of the disease, or decay of old family, which possessed Alec d’Urberville; a different form, but closely related. D’Urberville wanted to arrest all his activity in his senses. Jude Fawley wanted to arrest all his activity in his mind. Each of them wanted to become an impersonal force working automatically. Each of them wanted to deny, or escape the responsibility and trouble of living as a complete person, a full individual.

And neither was able to bring it off. Jude’s real desire was, not to live in the body. He wanted to exist only in his mentality. He was as if bored, or blase, in the body, just like Tess. This seems to be the result of coming of an old family, that had been long conscious, long self-conscious, specialised, separate, exhausted.

This drove him to Sue. She was his kinswoman, as d’Urberville was kinsman to Tess. She was like himself in her being and her clesire. Like Jude, she wanted to live partially, in the consciousness, in the mind only. She wanted no experience in the senses, she wished only to know.

She belonged, with Tess, to the old woman-type of witch or prophetess, which adhered to the male principle, and destroyed the female. But in the true prophetess, in Cassandra, for example, the denial of the female cost a strong and almost maddening [effort]. But in Sue it was done before she was born.

She was born with the vital female atrophied in her: she was almost male. Her will was male. It was wrong for Jude to take her physically, it was a violation of her. She was not the virgin type, but the witch type, which has no sex. Why should she be forced into intercourse that was not natural to her?

It was not natural for her to have children. It is inevitable that her children die. It is not natural for Tess nor for Angel Clare to have children, nor for Arabella nor for Alec d’Urberville. Because none of these wished to give of themselves to the lover, none of them wished to mate: they only wanted their own experience. For Jude alone it was natural to have children, and this in spite of himself.

Sue wished to identify herself utterly with the male principle. That which was female in her she wanted to consume within the male force, to consume it in the fire of understanding, of giving utterance. Whereas an ordinary woman knows that she contains all understanding, that she is the unutterable which man must for ever continue to try to utter, Sue felt that all must be uttered, must be given to the male, that, in truth, only Male existed, that everything was the Word, and the Word was everything.

Sue is the production of the long selection by man of the woman in whom the female is subordinated to the male principle. A long line of Amelias and Agneses, . those women who submitted to the man-idea, flattered the man, and bored him, the Gretchens and the Turgeniev heroines, those who have betrayed the female and who therefore only seem to exist to be betrayed by their men, these have produced at length a Sue, the pure thing. And as soon as she is produced she is execrated.

What Cassandra and Aspasia became to the Greeks, Sue has become to the northern civilization. But the Greeks never pitied Woman. They did not show her that highest impertinence — not even Euripides.

But Sue is scarcely a woman at all, though she is feminine enough.

Cassandra submitted to Apollo, and gave him the Word of affiance, brought forth prophecy to him, not children. She received the embrace of the spirit, He breathed His Grace upon her: and she conceived and brought forth a prophecy. It was still a marriage. Not the marriage of the Virgin with the Spirit, but the marriage of the female spirit with the male spirit, bodiless.

With Sue, however, the marriage was no marriage, but a submission, a service, a slavery. Her female spirit did not wed with the male spirit: she could not prophesy. Her spirit submitted to the male spirit, owned the priority of the male spirit, wished to become the male spirit. That which was female in her, resistant, gave her only her critical faculty. When she sought out the physical quality in the Greeks, that was her effort to make even the unknowable physique a part of knowledge, to contain the body within the mind.

One of the supremest products of our civilization is Sue, and a product that well frightens us. It is quite natural that, with all her mental alertness, she married Phillotson without ever considering the physical quality of marriage. Deep instinct made her avoid the consideration. And the duality of her nature made her extremely liable to self-destruction. The suppressed, atrophied female in her, like a potent fury, was always there, suggesting to her to make the fatal mistake. She contained always the rarest, most deadly anarchy in her own being.

It needed that she should have some place in society where the clarity of her mental being, which was in itself a form of death, could shine out without attracting any desire for her body. She needed a refinement on Angel Clare. For she herself was a more specialised, more highly civilized product on the female side, than Angel Clare on the male. Yet the atrophied female in her would still want the bodily male.

She attracted to herself Jude. His experience with Arabella had for the time being diverted his attention altogether from the female. His attitude was that of service to the pure male spirit. But the physical male in him, that which knew and belonged to the female, was potent, and roused the female in Sue as much as she wanted it roused, so much that it was a stimulant to her, making her mind the brighter.

It was a cruelly difficult position. She must, by the constitution of er nature, remain quite physically intact, for the female was atrophied in her, to the enlargement of the male activity. Yet she wanted some quickening for this atrophied female. She wanted even kisses.

That the new rousing might give her a sense of life. But she could only live in the mind.

Then, where could she find a man who would be able to feed her with his male vitality, through kisses, proximity, without demanding the female return? For she was such that she could only receive quickening from a strong male, for she was herself no small thing. Could she then find a man, a strong, passionate male, who would devote himself entirely to the production of the mind in her, to the production of male activity, or of female activity critical to the male?

She could only receive the highest stimulus, which she must inevitably seek, from a man who put her in constant jeopardy. Her essentiality rested upon her remaining intact. Any suggestion of the physical was utter confusion to her. Her principle was the ultra - Christian principle — of living entirely according to the Spirit, to the One, male spirit, which knows, and utters, and shines, but exists beyond feeling, beyond joy or sorrow, or pain, exists only in Knowing. In tune with this, she was herself. Let her, however, be turned under the influence of the other dark, silent, strong principle, of the female, and she would break like a fine instrument under discord.

Yet, to live at all in tune with the male spirit, she must receive the male stimulus from a man. Otherwise she was as an instrument without a player. She must feel the hands of a man upon her, she must be infused with his male vitality, or she was not alive.

Here then was her difficulty: to find a man whose vitality could infuse her and make her live, and who would not, at the same time, demand of her a return, the return of the female impulse into him. What man could receive this drainage, receiving nothing back again? He must either die, or revolt.

One man had died. She knew it well enough. She knew her own fatality. She knew she drained the vital, male stimulus out of a man, producing in him only knowledge of the mind, only mental clarity: which man must always strive to attain, but which is not life in him, rather the product of life.

Just as Alec d’Urberville, on the other hand, drained the female vitality out of a woman, and gave her only sensation, only experience in the senses, a sense of herself, nothing to the soul or spirit, thereby exhausting her.

Now Jude, after Arabella, and following his own idee fixe, [wanted] this mental clarity, this knowing, above all. What he contained in himself, of male and female impulse, he wanted to bring forth to draw into his mind, to resolve into understanding, as a lant resolves that which it contains into flower.

This Sue could do for him. By creating a vacuum, she could cause the vivid flow which clarified him. By rousing him, by drawing from him his turgid vitality, made thick and heavy and physical with Arabella, she could bring into consciousness that which he contained. For he was heavy and full of unrealised life, clogged with untransmuted knowledge, with accretion of his senses. His whole life had been till now an indrawing, ingestion. Arabella had been a vital experience for him, received into his blood. And how was he to bring out all this fulness into knowledge or utterance? For all the time he was being roused to new physical desire, new life - experience, new sense-enrichening, and he could not perform his male function of transmitting this into expression, or action. The particular form his flowering should take, he could not find. So he hunted and studied, to find the call, the appeal which should call out of him that which was in him.

And great was his transport when the appeal came from Sue. She wanted, at first, only his words. That of him which could come to her through speech, through his consciousness, her mind, like a bottomless gulf, cried out for. She wanted satisfaction through the mind, and cried out for him to satisfy her through the mind.

Great, then, was his joy at giving himself out to her. He gave, for it was more blessed to give than to receive. He gave, and she received some satisfaction. But where she was not satisfied, there he must try still to satisfy her. He struggled to bring it all forth. She was, as himself, asking himself what he was. And he strove to answer, in a transport.

And he answered in a great measure. He singled himself out from the old matrix of the accepted idea, he produced an individual flower of his own.

It was for this he loved Sue. She did for him quickly what he would have done for himself slowly, through study. By patient, diligent study, he would have used up the surplus of that turgid energy n him, and would, by long contact with old truth, have arrived at the form of truth which was in him. What he indeed wanted to get from study was, not a store of learning, nor the vanity of education, a sort of superiority of educational wealth, though this also gave him pleasure. He wanted, through familiarity with the true thinkers and poets, particularly with the classic and theological thinkers, because of their comparative sensuousness, to find conscious expres sion for that which he held in his blood. And to do this, it was necessary for him to resolve and to reduce his blood, to overcome the female sensuousness in himself, to transmute his sensuous being into another state, a state of clarity, of consciousness. Slowly, labouriously, struggling with the Greek and the Latin, he would have burned down his thick blood as fuel, and have come to the true light of himself.

This Sue did for him. In marriage, each party fulfils a dual function with regard to the other:, exhaustive and enrichening. The female at the same time exhausts and invigorates the male, the male at the same time exhausts and invigorates the female. The exhaustion and invigoration are both temporary and relative. The male, making the effort to penetrate into the female, exhausts himself and invigorates her. But that which, at the end, he discovers and carries off from her, some seed of being, enrichens him and exhausts her. Arabella, in taking Jude, accepted very little from him. She absorbed very little of his strength and vitality into herself. For she only wanted to be aware of herself in contact with him, she did not want him to penetrate into her very being, till he moved her to her very depths, till she loosened to him some of her very self for his enrichening. She was intrinsically impotent, as was Alec d’Urberville.

So that in her Jude went very little further in Knowledge, or in Self-Knowledge. He took only the first steps: of knowing himself sexually, as a sexual male. That is only the first, the first necessary, but rudimentary, step.

When he came to Sue, he found her physically impotent, but spiritually potent. That was what he wanted. Of Knowledge in the blood he had a rich enough store: more than he knew what to do with. He wished for the further step, of reduction, of essentialising into Knowledge. Which Sue gave to him.

So that his experience with Arabella, plus his first experience of trembling intimacy and incandescent realisation with Sue made one complete marriage: that is, the two women added together made One Bride.

When Jude had exhausted his surplus self, in spiritual intimacy with Sue, when he had gained through her all the wonderful understanding she could evoke in him, when he was clarified to himself, then his marriage with Sue was over. Jude’s marriage with Sue was over before he knew her physically. She had, physically, nothing to give him.

Which, in her deepest instinct, she knew. She made no mistake in marrying Phillotson. She acted according to the pure logic of her nature. Phillotson was a man who wanted no marriage whatsoever with the female. Sexually, he wanted her as an instrument through which he obtained relief, and some gratification: but, really, relief. Spiritually, he wanted her as a thing to be wondered over and delighted in, but quite separately from himself. He knew quite well he could never marry her. He was a human being as near to mechanical function as a human being can be. The whole process of digestion, masticating, swallowing, digesting, excretion, is a sort of super-mechanical process. And Phillotson was like this. He was an organ, a function-fulfilling organ, he had no separate existence. He could not create a single new movement or thought or expression. Everything he did was a repetition of what had been. All his study was a study of what had been. It was a mechanical, functional process. He was a true, if small, form of the Savant. He could understand only the functional laws of living, but these he understood honestly. He was true to himself, he was not overcome by any cant or sentimentalising. So that in this he was splendid. But it is a cruel thing for a complete, or a spiritual, individuality to be submitted to a functional organism.

The Widow Edlin said that there are some men no woman of any feeling could touch, and Phillotson was one of them. If the Widow knew this, why was Sue’s instinct so short?

But Mrs. Edlin was a full human being, creating life in a new form through her personality. She must have known Sue’s deficiency. It was natural for Sue to read and to turn again to:

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean!

The world has grown grey from Thy breath.

In her the pale Galilean had indeed triumphed. Her body was as insentient as hoar-frost. She knew well enough that she was not alive in the ordinary human sense. She did not, like an ordinary woman, receive all she knew through her senses, her instincts, but through her consciousness. The pale Galilean had a pure disciple in her: in her He was fulfilled. For the senses, the body, did not exist in her; she existed as a consciousness. And this is so much so, that she was almost an Apostate. She turned to look at Venus and Apollo. As if she could know either Venus or Apollo, save as ideas. Nor Venus nor Aphrodite had anything to do with her, but only Pallas and Christ.

She was unhappy every moment of her life, poor Sue, with the knowledge of her own non-existence within life. She felt all the time the ghastly sickness of dissolution upon her, she was as a void unto herself.

So she married Phillotson, the only man she could, in reality, marry. To him she could be a wife: she could give him the sexual relief he wanted of her, and supply him with the transcendence which was a pleasure to him; it was hers to seal him with the seal which made an honourable human being of him. For he felt, deep within himself, something a reptile feels. And she was his guarantee, his crown.

Why does a snake horrify us, or even a newt? Why was Phillotson like a newt? What is it, in our life or in our feeling, to which a newt corresponds? Is it that life has the two sides, of growth and of decay, symbolized most acutely in our bodies by the semen and the excreta? Is it that the newt, the reptile, belong to the putrescent activity of life; the bird, the fish to the growth activity? Is it that the newt and the reptile are suggested to us through those sensations connected with excretion? And was Phillotson more or less connected with the decay activity of life? Was it his function to reorganize the life-excreta of the ages? At any rate, one can honour him, for he was true to himself.

Sue married Phillotson according to her true instinct. But being almost pure Christian, in the sense of having no physical life, she had turned to the Greeks, and with her mind was an Aphrodite - worshipper. In craving for the highest form of that which she lacked, she worshipped Aphrodite. There are two sets of Aphrodite - worshippers: daughters of Aphrodite and the almost neutral daughters of Mary of Bethany. Sue was, oh, cruelly far from being a daughter of Aphrodite. She was the furthest alien from Aphrodite. She might excuse herself through her Venus Urania — but it was hopeless.

Therefore, when she left Phillotson, in whose marriage she consummated her own crucifixion, to go to Jude, she was deserting the God of her being for the God of her hopeless want. How much could she become a living, physical woman? But she would get away from Phillotson.

She went to Jude to continue the spiritual marriage, bodiless. That was all very well, if he had been satisfied. If he had been satisfied, they might have lived in this spiritual intimacy, without physical contact, for the rest of their lives, so strong was her true instinct for herself.

He, however, was not satisfied. He reached the point where he was clarified, where he had reduced from his blood into his consciousness all that was uncompounded before. He had become himself as far as he could, he had fulfilled himself. All that he had gathered in his youth, all that he had gathered from Arabella, was assimilated now, fused and transformed into one clear Jude.

Now he wants that which is necessary for him if he is to go on. He wants, at its lowest, the physical, sexual relief. For continually baulked sexual desire, or necessity, makes a man unable to live freely, scotches him, stultifies him. And where a man is roused to the fullest pitch, as Jude was roused by Sue, then the principal connection becomes a necessity, if only for relief. Anything else is a violation.

Sue ran away to escape physical connection with Phillotson, only to find herself in the arms of Jude. But Jude wanted of her more than Phillotson wanted. This was what terrified her to the bottom of her nature. Whereas Phillotson always only wanted sexual relief of her, Jude wanted the consummation of marriage. He wanted that deepest experience, that penetrating far into the unknown and undiscovered which lies in the body and blood of man and woman, during life. He wanted to receive from her the quickening, the primitive seed and impulse which should start him to a new birth. And for this he must go back deep into the primal, unshown, unknown life of the blood, the thick source-stream of life in her.

And she was terrified lest he should find her out, that it was wanting in her. This was her deepest dread, to see him inevitably disappointed in her. She could not bear to be put into the balance, wherein she knew she would be found wanting.

For she knew in herself that she was cut off from the source and origin of life. For her, the way back was lost irrevocably. And when Jude came to her, wanting to retrace with her the course right back to the springs and the welling-out, she was more afraid than of death. For she could not. She was like a flower broken off from the tree, that lives a while in water, and even puts forth. So Sue lived sustained and nourished by the rarefied life of books and art, and by the inflow from the man. But, owing to centuries and centuries of weaning away from the body of life, centuries of insisting upon the supremacy and bodilessness of Love, centuries of striving to escape the conditions of being and of striving to attain the condition of Knowledge, centuries of pure Christianity, she had gone too far. She had climbed and climbed to be near the stars. And now, at last, on the topmost pinnacle, exposed to all the horrors and the magnifi cence of space, she could not go back. Her strength had fallen from her. Up at that great height, with scarcely any foothold, but only space, space all round her, rising up to her from beneath, she was like a thing suspended, supported almost at the point of extinction by the density of the medium. Her body was lost to her, fallen away, gone. She existed there as a point of consciousness, no more, like one swooned at a great height, held up at the tip of a fine pinnacle that drove upwards into nothingness.

Jude rose to that height with her. But he did not die as she died. Beneath him the foothold was more, he did not swoon. There came a time when he wanted to go back, down to earth. But she was fastened like Andromeda.

Perhaps; if Jude had not known Arabella, Sue might have persuaded him that he too was bodiless, only a point of consciousness. But she was too late; another had been before her and given her the lie.

Arabella was never so jealous of Sue as Sue of Arabella. How shall the saint that tips the pinnacle, Saint Simon Stylites thrust on the highest needle that pricks the heavens, be envied by the man who walks the horizontal earth? But Sue was cruelly anguished with jealousy of Arabella. It was only this, this knowledge that Jude wanted Arabella, which made Sue give him access to her own body.

When she did that, she died. The Sue that had been till then, the glimmering, pale, star-like Sue, died and was revoked on the night when Arabella called at their house at Aldbrickham, and Jude went out in his slippers to look for her, and did not find her, but came back to Sue, who in her anguish gave him then the access to her body. Till that day, Sue had been, in her will and in her very self, true to one motion, to Love, to Knowledge, to the Light, to the upward motion. Phillotson had not altered this. When she had suffered him, she had said: “He does not touch me; I am beyond him.”

But now she must give her body to Jude. At that moment her light began to go out, all she had lived for and by began to turn into a falseness, Sue began to nullify herself.

She could never become physical. She could never return down to earth. But there, lying bound at the pinnacle-tip, she had to pretend she was lying on the horizontal earth, prostrate with a man.

It was a profanation and a pollution, worse than the pollution of Cassandra or of the Vestals. Sue had her own form: to break this form was to destroy her. Her destruction began only when she said to Jude, “I give in.”

As for Jude, he dragged his body after his consciousness. His instinct could never have made him actually desire physical connection with Sue. He was roused by an appeal made through his consciousness. This appeal automatically roused his senses. His consciousness desired Sue. So his senses were forced to follow his consciousness.

But he must have felt, in knowing her, the frisson of sacrilege, something like the Frenchman who lay with a corpse. Her body, the body of a Vestal, was swooned into that state of bloodless ecstasy wherein it was dead to the senses. Or it was the body of an insane woman, whose senses are directed from the disordered mind, whose mind is not subjected to the senses.

But Jude was physically undeveloped. Altogether he was medieval. His senses were vigorous but not delicate. He never realised what it meant to him, his taking Sue. He thought he was satisfied.

But if it was death to her, or profanation, or pollution, or breaking, it was unnatural to him, blasphemy. How could he, a living, loving man, warm and productive, take with his body the moonlit cold body of a woman who did not live to him, and did not want him? It was monstrous, and it sent him mad.

She knew it was wrong, she knew it should never be. But what else could she do? Jude loved her now with his will. To have left him to Arabella would have been to destroy him. To have shared him with Arabella would have been possible to Sue, but impossible to him, for he had the strong, purist idea that a man’s body should follow and be subordinate to his spirit, his senses should be subordinate to and subsequent to his mind. Which idea is utterly false.

So Jude and Sue are damned, partly by their very being, but chiefly by their incapacity to accept the conditions of their own and each other’s being. If Jude could have known that he did not want Sue physically, and then have made his choice, they might not have wasted their lives. But he could not know.

If he could have known, after a while, after he had taken her many times, that it was wrong, still they might have made a life. He must have known that, after taking Sue, he was depressed as she was depressed. He must have known worse than that. He must have felt the devastating sense of the unlivingness of life, things must have ceased to exist for him, when he rose from taking Sue, and he must have felt that he walked in a ghastly blank, confronted just by space, void.

But he would acknowledge nothing of what he felt. He must feel according to his idea and his will. Nevertheless, they were too truthful ever to marry. A man as real and personal as Jude cannot, from his deeper religious sense, marry a woman unless indeed he can marry her, unless with her he can find or approach the real consummation of marriage. And Sue and Jude could not lie to themselves, in their last and deepest feelings. They knew it was no marriage; they knew it was wrong, all along; they knew they were sinning against life, in forcing a physical marriage between themselves.

How many people, man and woman, live together, in England, and have children, and are never, never asked whether they have been through the marriage ceremony together? Why then should Jude and Sue have been brought to task? Only because of their own uneasy sense of wrong, of sin, which they communicated to other people. And this wrong or sin was not against the community, but against their own being, against life. Which is why they were, the pair of them, instinctively disliked.

They never knew happiness, actual, sure-footed happiness, not for a moment. That was incompatible with Sue’s nature. But what they knew was a very delightful but poignant and unhealthy condition of lightened consciousness. They reacted on each other to stimulate the consciousness. So that, when they went to the flower-show, her sense of the roses, and Jude’s sense of the roses, would be most, most poignant. There is always this pathos, this poignancy, this trembling on the verge of pain and tears, in their happiness.

“Happy?” he murmured. She nodded.

The roses, how the roses glowed for them! The flowers had more being than either he or she. But as their ecstasy over things sank a little, they felt, the pair of them, as if they themselves were wanting in real body, as if they were too unsubstantial, too thin and evanescent in substance, as if the other solid people might jostle right through them, two wandering shades as they were.

This they felt themselves. Hence their uncertainty in contact with other people, hence their abnormal sensitiveness. But they had their own form of happiness, nevertheless, this trembling on the verge of ecstasy, when, the senses strongly roused to the service of the consciousness, the things they contemplated took flaming being, became flaming symbols of their own emotions to them.

So that the real marriage of Jude and Sue was in the roses. Then, in the third state, in the spirit, these two beings met upon the roses and in the roses were symbolized in consummation. The rose is the symbol of marriage-consummation in its beauty. To them it is more than a symbol, it is a fact, a flaming experience.

They went home tremblingly glad. And then the horror when, because of Jude’s unsatisfaction, he must take Sue sexually. The flaming experience became a falsity, or an ignis fatuus leading them on.

They exhausted their lives, he in the consciousness, she in the body. She was glad to have children, to prove she was a woman. But in her it was a perversity to wish to prove she was a woman. She was no woman. And her children, the proof thereof, vanished like hoarfrost from her.

It was not the stone-masonry that exhausted him and weakened him and made him ill. It was this continuous feeding of his consciousness from his senses, this continuous state of incandescence of the consciousness, when his body, his vital tissues, the very protoplasm in him, was being slowly consumed away. For he had no life in the body. Every time he went to Sue, physically, his inner experience must have been a shock back from life and from the form of outgoing, like that of a man who lies with a corpse. He had no life in the senses: he had no inflow from the source to make up for the enormous wastage. So he gradually became exhausted, burned more and more away, till he was frail as an ember.

And she, her body also suffered. But it was in the mind that she had had her being, and it was in the mind she paid her price. She tried and tried to receive and to satisfy Jude physically. She bore him children, she gave herself to the life of the body.

But as she was formed she was formed, and there was no altering it. She needed all the life that belonged to her, and more, for the supplying of her mind, since such a mind as hers is found only, healthily, in a person of powerful vitality. For the mind, in a common person, is created out of the surplus vitality, or out of the re - mainder after all the sensuous life has been fulfilled.

She needed all the life that belonged to her, for her mind. It was her form. To disturb that arrangement was to make her into somebody else, not herself. Therefore, when she became a physical wife and a mother, she forswore her own being. She abjured her own mind, she denied it, took her faith, her belief, her very living away from it.

It is most probable she lived chiefly in her children. They were her guarantee as a physical woman, the being to which she now laid claim. She had forsaken the ideal of an independent mind.

She would love her children with anguish, afraid always for their safety, never certain of their stable existence, never assured of their real reality. When they were out of her sight, she would be uneasy, uneasy almost as if they did not exist. There would be a gnawing at her till they came back. She would not be satisfied till she had them crushed on her breast. And even then, she would not be sure, she would not be sure. She could not be sure, in life, of anything. She could only be sure, in the old days, of what she saw with her mind. Of that she was absolutely sure.

Meanwhile Jude became exhausted in vitality, bewildered, aimless, lost, pathetically nonproductive.

Again one can see what instinct, what feeling it was which made Arabella’s boy bring about the death of the children and of himself. He, sensitive, so bodiless, so selfless as to be a sort of automaton, is very badly suggested, exaggerated, but one can see what is meant. And he feels, as any child will feel, as many children feel today, that they are really anachronisms, accidents, fatal accidents, unreal, false notes in their mothers’ lives, that, according to her, they have no being: that, if they have being, then she has not. So he takes away all the children.

And then Sue ceases to be: she strikes the line through her own existence, cancels herself. There exists no more Sue Fawley. She cancels herself. She wishes to cease to exist, as a person, she wishes to be absorbed away, so that she is no longer self-responsible.

For she denied and forsook and broke her own real form, her own independent, cool-lighted mind-life. And now her children are not only dead, but self-slain, those pledges of the physical life for which she abandoned the other.

She has a passion to expiate, to expiate, to expiate. Her children should never have been born: her instinct always knew this. Now their dead bodies drive her mad with a sense of blasphemy. And she blasphemed the Holy Spirit, which told her she is guilty of their birth and their death, of the horrible nothing which they are. She is even guilty of their little, palpitating sufferings and joys of mortal life, now made nothing. She cannot bear it — who could? And she wants to expiate, doubly expiate. Her mind, which she set up in her conceit, and then forswore, she must stamp it out of existence, as one stamps out fire. She would never again think or decide for herself. The world, the past, should have written every decision for her. The last act of her intellect was the utter renunciation of her w mind and the embracing of utter orthodoxy, where every belief, every thought, every decision was made ready for her, so that she did not exist self-responsible. And then her loathed body, which had committed the crime of bearing dead children, which had come to life only to spread nihilism like a pestilence, that too should be scourged out of existence. She chose the bitterest penalty in going back to Phillotson.

There was no more Sue. Body, soul, and spirit, she annihilated herself. All that remained of her was the will by which she annihilated herself. That remained fixed, a locked centre of self-hatred, life-hatred so utter that it had no hope of death. It knew that life is life, and there is no death for life.

Jude was toq exhausted himself to save her. He says of her she was not worth a man’s love. But that was not the point. It was not a question of her worth. It was a question of her being. If he had said she was not capable of receiving a man’s love as he wished to bestow it, he might have spoken nearer the truth. But she practically told him this. She made it plain to him what she wanted, what she could take. But he overrode her. She tried hard to abide by her own form. But he forced her. He had no case against her, unless she made the great appeal for him, that he should flow to her, whilst at the same time she could not take him completely, body and spirit both.

She asked for what he could not give — what perhaps no man can give: passionate love without physical desire. She had no blame for him: she had no love for him. Self-love triumphed in her when she first knew him. She almost deliberately asked for more, far more, than she intended to give. Self-hatred triumphed in the end. So it had to be.

As for Jude, he had been dying slowly, but much quicker than she, since the first night she took him. It was best to get it done quickly in the end.

And this tragedy is the result of over-development of one principle of human life at the expense of the other; an over-balancing; a laying of all the stress on the Male, the Love, the Spirit, the Mind, the Consciousness; a denying, a blaspheming against the Female, the Law, the Soul, the Senses, the Feelings. But she is developed to the very extreme, she scarcely lives in the body at all. Being of the feminine gender, she is yet no woman at all, nor male; she is almost neuter. He is nearer the balance, nearer the centre, nearer the wholeness But the whole human effort, towards pure life in the spirit, towards becoming pure Sue, drags him along; he identifies himself with this effort, destroys himself and her in his adherence to this identification.

But why, in casting off one or another form of religion, has man ceased to be religious altogether? Why will he not recognize Sue and Jude, as Cassandra was recognized long ago, and Achilles, and the Vestals, and the nuns, and the monks? Why must being be denied altogether?

Sue had a being, special and beautiful. Why must not Jude recognize it in all its speciality? Why must man be so utterly irreverent, that he approaches each being as if it were no-being? Why must it be assumed that Sue is an “ordinary” woman — as if such a thing existed? Why must she feel ashamed if she is specialised? And why must Jude, owing to the conception he is brought up in, force her to act as if she were his “ordinary” abstraction, a woman?

She was not a woman. She was Sue Bridehead, something very particular. Why was there no place for her? Cassandra had the Temple of Apollo. Why are we so foul that we have no reverence for that which we are and for that which is amongst us? ff we had reverence for our life, our life would take at once religious form. But as it is, in our fdthy irreverence, it remains a disgusting slough, where each one of us goes so thoroughly disguised in dirt that we are all alike and indistinguishable.

If we had reverence for what we are, our life would take real form, and Sue would have a place, as Cassandra had a place; she would have a place which does not yet exist, because we are all so vulgar, we have nothing.


It seems as if the history of humanity were divided into two epochs: the Epoch of the Law and the Epoch of Love. It seems as though humanity, during the time of its activity on earth, has made two great efforts: the effort to appreciate the Law and the effort to overcome the Law in Love. And in both efforts it has succeeded, ft has reached and proved the Two Complementary Absolutes, the Absolute of the Father, of the Law, of Nature, and the Absolute of the Son, of Love, of Knowledge. What remains is to reconcile the two.

In the beginning, Man said: “What am I, and whence is this world around me, and why is it as it is?” Then he proceeded to explore and to personify and to deify the Natural Law, which he called Father. And having reached the point where he conceived of the Natural Law in its purity, he had finished his journey, and was arrested.

But he found that he could not remain at rest. He must still go on. Then there was to discover by what principle he must proceed further than the Law. And he received an inkling of Love. All over the world the same, the second great epoch started with the incipient conception of Love, and continued until the principle of Love was conceived in all its purity. Then man was again at an end, in a cul-de-sac.

The Law it is by which we exist. It was the Father, the Law - Maker, Who said: “Let there be Light”: it was He Who breathed life into the handful of dust and made man. “Thus have I made man, in mine own image. I have ordered his outgoing and his incoming, and have cast the fine whereby he shall walk.” So said the Father. And man went out and came in according to the ordering of the Lord; he walked by the line of the Lord and did not deviate. Till the path was worn barren, and man knew all the way, and the end seemed to have drawn nigh.

Then he said: “I will leave the path. I will go out as the Lord hath not ordained, and come in when my hour is fulfilled. For it is written, a man shall eat and drink with the Lord: but I will neither eat nor drink, I will go hungry, yet I will not die. It is written, a man shall take himself a wife and beget him seed unto the glorv of God. But I will not take me a wife, nor beget seed, but I will know no woman. Yet will I not die. And it is written, a man shall save his body from harm, and preserve his flesh from hurt, for he is made in the image and likeness of the Father. But I will deliver up my body to hurt, and give my flesh unto the dust, yet will I not die, but live. For man does not live by bread alone, nor by the common law of the Father. Beyond this common law, I am I. When my body is destroyed and my bones have perished, then I am I. Yes, not until my body is consumed and my bones have mingled with the dust, not until then am I whole, not until then do I live. But I die in Christ, and rise again. And when I am risen again, I live in the spirit. Neither hunger nor cold can lay hold on me, nor desire lay hands on me. When I am risen again, then I shall know. Then I shall live m the ineffable bliss of knowledge. When the sun goes forth in the morning, I shall know the glory of God, who passes the sun from H’s left hand to His right, in the peace of His Understanding. As the night comes in her divers shadows, f know the peace that passeth all understanding. For God knoweth. Neither, does He Will nor Command nor desire nor act, but exists perfect in the peace of knowledge.”

If a man must live still and act in the body, then let his action be to the recognizing of the life in other bodies. Each man is to himself the Natural Law. He can only conceive of the Natural Law as he knows it in himself. The hardest thing for any man to do is for him to recognize and to know that the natural law of his neighbour is other than, and maybe even hostile to, his own natural law, and yet is true. This hard lesson Christ tried to instil in the doctrine of the other cheek. Orestes could not conceive that it was the natural law of Clytemnestra’s nature that she should murder Agamemnon for sacrificing her daughter, and for leaving herself abandoned in the pride of her womanhood, unmated because he wanted the pleasure of war, and for his unfaithfulness to her with other women; Clytemnestra could not understand that Orestes should want to kill her for fulfilling the law of her own nature. The law of the mother’s nature was other than the law of the son’s nature. This they could neither of them see: hence the killing. This Christianity would teach them: to recognize and to admit the law of the other person, outside and different from the law of one’s own being. It is the hardest lesson of love. And the lesson of love learnt, there must be learned the next lesson, of reconciliation between different, maybe hostile, things. That is tbe final lesson. Christianity ends in submission, in recognizing and submitting to the law of the other person. “Thou shalt love thy enemy.”

Therefore, since by the law man must act or move, let his motion be the utterance of the God of Peace, of the perfect, unutterable Peace of Knowledge.

And man has striven this way, to utter the Universal Peace of God. And, striving on, he has passed beyond the limits of utterance, and has reached once more the silence of the beginning.

After Sue, after Dostoievsky’s Idiot, after Turner’s latest pictures, after the symbolist poetry of Mallarme and the others, after the music of Debussy, there is no further possible utterance of the peace that passeth all understanding, the peace of God which is Perfect Knowledge. There is only silence beyond this.

Just as after Plato, after Dante, after Raphael, there was no further utterance of the Absoluteness of the Law, of the Immutability of the Divine Conception.

So that, as the great pause came over Greece, and over Italy, after the Renaissance, when the Law had been uttered in its absoluteness, there comes over us now, over England and Russia and France, the pause of finality, now we have seen the purity of Knowledge, the great, white, uninterrupted Light, infinite and eternal.

But that is not the end. The two great conceptions, of Law and of Knowledge or Love, are not diverse and accidental, but complementary. They are, in a way, contradictions each of the other. But they are complementary. They are the Fixed Absolute, the Geo metric Absolute, and they are the radiant Absolute, the Unthinkable Absolute of pure, free motion. They are the perfect Stability, and they are the perfect Mobility. They are the fixed condition of our being, and they are the transcendent condition of knowledge in us. They are our Soul, and our Spirit, they are our Feelings, and our Mind. They are our Body and our Brain. They are Two-in-One.

And everything that has ever been produced has been produced by the combined activity of the two, in humanity, by the combined activity of soul and spirit. When the two are acting together, then Life is produced, then Life, or Utterance, Something, is created. And nothing is 01 can be created save by combined effort of the two principles, Law and Love.

All through the medieval times, Law and Love were striving together to give the perfect expression to the Law, to arrive at the perfect conception of the Law. All through the rise of the Greek nation, to its culmination, the Law and Love were working in that nation to attain the perfect expression of the Law. They were driven by the Unknown Desire, the Holy Spirit, the Unknown and Unexpressed. But the Holy Spirit is the Reconciler and the Originator. Him we do not know.

The greatest of all Utterance of the Law has given expression to the Law as it is in relation to Love, both ruled by the Holy Spirit. Such is the Book of Job, such Aeschylus in the Trilogy, such, more or less, is Dante, such is Botticelli. Those who gave expression to the Law after these suppressed the contact, and achieved an abstraction. Plato, Raphael.

The greatest utterance of Love has given expression to Love as it ls in relation to the Law: so Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Shelley, Wordsworth, Goethe, Tolstoi. But beyond these there have been Turner, who suppressed the context of the Law; also there have heen Dostoievsky, Hardy, Flaubert. These have shown Love in conflict with the Law, and only Death the resultant, no Reconciliation.

So that humanity does not continue for long to accept the conclusions of these writers, nor even of Euripides and Shakespeare always. These great tragic writers endure by reason of the truth of the conflict they describe, because of its completeness, Law, Love, and Reconciliation, all active. But with regard to their conclusions, they leave the soul finally unsatisfied, unbelieving.

Now the aim of man remains to recognize and seek out the Holy Spirit, the Reconciler, the Originator, He who drives the twin principles of Law and of Love across the ages.

Now it remains for us to know the Law and to know the Love, and further to seek out the Reconciliation. It is time for us to build our temples to the Holy Spirit, and to raise our altars to the Holy Ghost, the Supreme, Who is beyond us but is with us.

We know of the Law, and we know of Love, and to that little we know of each of these we have given our full expression. But have not completed one perfect utterance, not one. Small as is the circle of our knowledge, we are not able to cast it complete. In Aeschylus’s Eumenides, Apollo is foolish, Athena mechanical. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet the conclusion is all foolish. If we had conceived each -party in his proper force, if Apollo had been equally potent with the Furies and no Pallas had appeared to settle the question merely by dropping a pebble, how would Aeschylus have solved his riddle? He could not work out the solution he knew must come, so he forced it.

And so it has always been, always: either a wrong conclusion, or one forced by the artist, as if he put his thumb in the scale to equalise a balance which he could not make level. Now it remains for us to seek the true balance, to give each party, Apollo and the Furies, Love and the Law, his due, and so to seek the Reconciler.

Now the principle of the Law is found strongest in Woman, and the principle of Love in Man. In every creature, the mobility, the law of change, is found exemplified in the male; the stability, the conservatism is found in the female. In woman man finds his root and establishment. In man woman finds her exfoliation and florescence. The woman grows downwards, like a root, towards the centre and the darkness and the origin. The man grows upwards, like the stalk, towards discovery and light and utterance.

Man and Woman are, roughly, the embodiment of Love and the Law: they are the two complementary parts. In the body they are most alike, in genitals they are almost one. Starting from the connection, almost unification, of the genitals, and travelling towards the feelings and the mind, there becomes ever a greater difference and a finer distinction between the two, male and female, till at last, at the other closing in the circle, in pure utterance, the two are really one again, so that any pure utterance is a perfect unity, the two as one, united by the Holy Spirit.

We start from one side or the other, from the female side or the male, but what we want is always the perfect union of the two. That is the Law of the Holy Spirit, the law of Consummate Marriage. That every living thing seeks, individually and collectively. Every man starts with his deepest desire, a desire for consummation of marriage between himself and the female, a desire for completeness, that completeness of being which will give completeness of satisfaction and completeness of utterance. No man can as yet find perfect consummation of marriage between himself and the Bride, be the bride either Woman or an Idea, but he can approximate to it, and every generation can get a little nearer.

But it needs that a man shall first know in reverence and submit to the Natural Law of his own individual being: that he shall also know that he is but contained within the great Natural Law, that he is but a Child of God, and not God himself: that he shall then poignantly and personally recognize that the law of another man’s nature is different from the law of his own nature, that it may be even hostile to him, and yet is part of the great Law of God, to be admitted: this is the Christian action of “loving thy neighbour,” and of dying to be born again: lastly, that a man shall know that between his law and the law of his neighbour there is an affinity, that all is contained in one, through the Holy Spirit.

It needs that a man shall know the natural law of his own being, then that he shall seek out the law of the-female, with which to join himself as complement. He must know that he is half, and the woman is the other half: that they are two, but that they are two - in-one.

He must with reverence submit to the law of himself: and he must with suffering and joy know and submit to the law of the woman: and he must know that they two together are one within the Great Law, reconciled within the Great Peace. Out of this final knowledge shall come his supreme art. There shall be the art which recognizes and utters his own law; there shall be the art which recognizes his °wn and also the law of the woman, his neighbour, utters the glad embraces and the struggle between them, and the submission of one; there shall be the art which knows the struggle between the two conflicting laws, and knows the final reconciliation, where both are equal, two in one, complete. This is the supreme art, which yet remains to be done. Some men have attempted it, and left us the results of efforts. But it remains to be fully done.

But when the two clasp hands, a moment, male and female, clasp hands and are one, the poppy, the gay poppy flies into flower again; and when the two fling their arms about each other, the moonlight runs and dashes against the shadow; and when the two toss back their hair, all the larks break out singing; and when they kiss on the mouth, a lovely human utterance is heard again-and so it is.


THOMAS HARDY by Leon H. Vincent

Leon H. Vincent (1859-1941) was an American author, literary critic, and lecturer. He taught English and American literature in schools and colleges across the country and wrote several books and essays on noted authors. This chapter is taken form Vincent’s critical work The Bibliotaph and Other People.


‘The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people that can write know anything.’ So said a man who, during a busy career, found time to add several fine volumes to the scanty number of good books. And in a vivacious paragraph which follows this initial sentence he humorously anathematizes the literary life. He shows convincingly that ‘secluded habits do not tend to eloquence.’ He says that the ‘indifferent apathy’ so common among studious persons is by no means favorable to liveliness of narration. He proves that men who will not live cannot write; that people who shut themselves up in libraries have dry brains. He avows his confidence in the ‘original way of writing books,’ the way of the first author, who must have looked at things for himself, ‘since there were no books for him to copy from;’ and he challenges the reader to prove that this original way is not the best way. ‘Where,’ he asks, ‘are the amusing books from voracious students and habitual writers?’

This startling arraignment of authors has been made by other men than Walter Bagehot. Hazlitt in his essay on the ‘Ignorance of the Learned’ teaches much the same doctrine. Its general truth is indisputable, though Bagehot himself makes exception in favour of Sir Walter Scott. But the two famous critics are united in their conviction that learned people are generally dull, and that books which are the work of habitual writers are not amusing.

There are as a matter of course more exceptions than one. Thomas Hardy is a distinguished exception. Thomas Hardy is an ‘habitual writer,’ but he is always amusing. The following paragraphs are intended to emphasize certain causes of this quality in his work, the quality by virtue of which he chains the attention and proves himself the most readable novelist now living. That he does attract and hold is clear to any one who has tried no more than a half-dozen pages from one of his best stories. He has the fatal habit of being interesting, — fatal because it robs you who read him of time which you might else have devoted to ‘improving’ literature, such as history, political economy, or light science. He destroys your peace of mind by compelling your sympathies in behalf of people who never existed. He undermines your will power and makes you his slave. You declare that you will read but one more chapter and you weakly consent to make it two chapters. As a special indulgence you spoil a working day in order to learn about the Return of the Native, perhaps agreeing with a supposititious ‘better self’ that you will waste no more time on novels for the next six months. But you are of ascetic fibre indeed if you do not follow up the book with a reading of The Woodlanders and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

There is a reason for this. If the practiced writer often fails to make a good book because he knows nothing, Mr. Hardy must succeed in large part because he knows so much. The more one reads him the more is one impressed with the extent of his knowledge. He has an intimate acquaintance with an immense number of interesting things.

He knows men and women — if not all sorts and all conditions, at least a great many varieties of the human animal. Moreover, his men are men and his women are women. He does not use them as figures to accentuate a landscape, or as ventriloquist’s puppets to draw away attention from the fact that he himself is doing all the talking. His people have individuality, power of speech, power of motion. He does not tell you that such a one is clever or witty; the character which he has created does that for himself by doing clever things and making witty remarks. In an excellent story by a celebrated modern master there is a young lady who is declared to be clever and brilliant. Out of forty or fifty observations which she makes, the most extraordinary concerns her father; she says, ‘Isn’t dear papa delightful?’ At another time she inquires whether another gentleman is not also delightful. Hardy’s resources are not so meagre as this. When his people talk we listen, — we do not endure.

He knows other things besides men and women. He knows the soil, the trees, the sky, the sunsets, the infinite variations of the landscape under cloud and sunshine. He knows horses, sheep, cows, dogs, cats. He understands the interpretation of sounds, — a detail which few novelists comprehend or treat with accuracy; the pages of his books ring with the noises of house, street, and country. Moreover there is nothing conventional in his transcript of facts. There is no evidence that he has been in the least degree influenced by other men’s minds. He takes the raw stuff of which novels are made and moulds it as he will. He has an absolutely fresh eye, as painters sometimes say. He looks on life as if he were the first literary man, ‘and none had ever lived before him.’ Paraphrasing Ruskin, one may say of Hardy that in place of studying the old masters he has studied what the old masters studied. But his point of view is his own. His pages are not reminiscent of other pages. He never makes you think of something you have read, but invariably of something you have seen or would like to see. He is an original writer, which means that he takes his material at first hand and eschews documents. There is considerable evidence that he has read books, but there is no reason for supposing that books have damaged him.

Dr. Farmer proved that Shakespeare had no ‘learning.’ One might perhaps demonstrate that Thomas Hardy is equally fortunate. In that case he and Shakespeare may felicitate one another. Though when we remember that in our day it is hardly possible to avoid a tincture of scholarship, we may be doing the fairer thing by these two men if we say that the one had small Greek and the other has adroitly concealed the measure of Greek, whether great or small, which is in his possession. To put the matter in another form, though Hardy may have drunk in large quantity ‘the spirit breathed from dead men to their kind,’ he has not allowed his potations to intoxicate him.

This paragraph is not likely to be misinterpreted unless by some honest soul who has yet to learn that ‘literature is not sworn testimony.’ Therefore it may be well to add that Mr. Hardy undoubtedly owns a collection of books, and has upon his shelves dictionaries and encyclopedias, together with a decent representation of those works which people call ‘standard.’ But it is of importance to remember this: That while he may be a well-read man, as the phrase goes, he is not and never has been of that class which Emerson describes with pale sarcasm as ‘meek young men in libraries.’ It is clear that Hardy has not ‘weakened his eyesight over books,’ and it is equally clear that he has ‘sharpened his eyesight on men and women.’ Let us consider a few of his virtues.


In the first place he tells a good story. No extravagant praise is due him for this; it is his business, his trade. He ought to do it, and therefore he does it. The ‘first morality’ of a novelist is to be able to tell a story, as the first morality of a painter is to be able to handle his brush skillfully and make it do his brain’s intending. After all, telling stories in an admirable fashion is rather a familiar accomplishment nowadays. Many men, many women are able to make stories of considerable ingenuity as to plot, and of thrilling interest in the unrolling of a scheme of events. Numberless writers are shrewd and clever in constructing their ‘fable,’ but they are unable to do much beyond this. Walter Besant writes good stories; Robert Buchanan writes good stories; Grant Allen and David Christie Murray are acceptable to many readers. But unless I mistake greatly and do these men an injustice I should be sorry to do them, their ability ceases just at this point. They tell good stories and do nothing else. They write books and do not make literature. They are authors by their own will and not by grace of God. It may be said of them as Augustine Birrell said of Professor Freeman and the Bishop of Chester, that they are horny-handed sons of toil and worthy of their wage. But one would like to say a little more. Granting that this is praise, it is so faint as to be almost inaudible. If Hardy only wrote good stories he would be merely doing his duty, and therefore accounted an unprofitable servant. But he does much besides.

He fulfills one great function of the literary artist, which is to mediate between nature and the reading public. Such a man is an eye specialist. Through his amiable offices people who have hitherto been blind are put into condition to see. Near-sighted persons have spectacles fitted to them — which they generally refuse to wear, not caring for literature which clears the mental vision.

Hardy opens the eyes of the reader to the charm, the beauty, the mystery to be found in common life and in every-day objects. So alert and forceful an intelligence rarely applies its energy to fiction. The result is that he makes an almost hopelessly high standard. The exceptional man who comes after him may be a rival, but the majority of writing gentlemen can do little more than enviously admire. He seems to have established for himself such a rule as this, that he will write no page which shall not be interesting. He pours out the treasures of his observation in every chapter. He sees everything, feels everything, sympathizes with everything. To be sure he has an unusually rich field for work. In The Mayor of Casterbridge is an account of the discovery of the remains of an old Roman soldier. One would expect Hardy to make something graphic of the episode. And so he does. You can almost see the warrior as he lies there ‘in an oval scoop in the chalk, like a chicken in its shell; his knees drawn up to his chest; his spear against his arm; an urn at his knees, a jar at his throat, a bottle at his mouth; and mystified conjecture pouring down upon him from the eyes of Casterbridge street-boys and men.’

The real virtue in this bit of description lies in the few words expressive of the mental attitude of the onlookers. And it is a nice distinction which Hardy makes when he says that ‘imaginative inhabitants who would have felt an unpleasantness at the discovery of a comparatively modern skeleton in their gardens were quite unmoved by these hoary shapes. They had lived so long ago, their hopes and motives were so widely removed from ours, that between them and the living there seemed to stretch a gulf too wide for even a spirit to pass.’

He takes note of that language which, though not articulate, is in common use among yeomen, dairymen, farmers, and the townsfolk of his little world. It is a language superimposed upon the ordinary language. ‘To express satisfaction the Casterbridge market-man added to his utterance a broadening of the cheeks, a crevicing of the eyes, a throwing back of the shoulders.’ ‘If he wondered … you knew it from perceiving the inside of his crimson mouth and the target-like circling of his eyes.’ The language of deliberation expressed itself in the form of ‘sundry attacks on the moss of adjoining walls with the end of his stick’ or a ‘change of his hat from the horizontal to the less so.’

The novel called The Woodlanders is filled with notable illustrations of an interest in minute things. The facts are introduced unobtrusively and no great emphasis is laid upon them. But they cling to the memory. Giles Winterbourne, a chief character in this story, ‘had a marvelous power in making trees grow. Although he would seem to shovel in the earth quite carelessly there was a sort of sympathy between himself and the fir, oak, or beech that he was operating on; so that the roots took hold of the soil in a few days.’ When any of the journeymen planted, one quarter of the trees died away. There is a graphic little scene where Winterbourne plants and Marty South holds the trees for him. ‘Winterbourne’s fingers were endowed with a gentle conjurer’s touch in spreading the roots of each little tree, resulting in a sort of caress under which the delicate fibres all laid themselves out in their proper direction for growth.’ Marty declared that the trees began to ‘sigh’ as soon as they were put upright, ‘though when they are lying down they don’t sigh at all.’ Winterbourne had never noticed it. ‘She erected one of the young pines into its hole, and held up her finger; the soft musical breathing instantly set in, which was not to cease night or day till the grown tree should be felled — probably long after the two planters had been felled themselves.’

Later on in the story there is a description of this same Giles Winterbourne returning with his horses and his cider apparatus from a neighbouring village. ‘He looked and smelt like autumn’s very brother, his face being sunburnt to wheat colour, his eyes blue as corn flowers, his sleeves and leggings dyed with fruit stains, his hands clammy with the sweet juice of apples, his hat sprinkled with pips, and everywhere about him that atmosphere of cider which at its first return each season has such an indescribable fascination for those who have been born and bred among the orchards.’

Hardy throws off little sketches of this sort with an air of unconsciousness which is fascinating…. It may be a sunset, or it may be only a flake of snow falling upon a young girl’s hair, or the light from lanterns penetrating the shutters and flickering over the ceiling of a room in the early winter morning, — no matter what the circumstance or happening is, it is caught in the act, photographed in permanent colours, made indelible and beautiful.

Hardy’s art is tyrannical. It compels one to be interested in that which delights him. It imposes its own standards. There is a rude strength about the man which readers endure because they are not unwilling to be slaves to genius. You may dislike sheep, and care but little for the poetical aspect of cows, if indeed you are not inclined to question the existence of poetry in cows; but if you read Far from the Madding Crowd you can never again pass a flock of sheep without being conscious of a multitude of new thoughts, new images, new matters for comparison. All that dormant section of your soul which for years was in a comatose condition on the subject of sheep is suddenly and broadly awake. Read Tess and at once cows and a dairy have a new meaning to you. They are a conspicuous part of the setting of that stage upon which poor Tess Durbeyfield’s life drama was played.

But Hardy does not flaunt his knowledge in his reader’s face. These things are distinctly means to an end, not ends in themselves. He has no theory to advance about keeping bees or making cider. He has taken no little journeys in the world. On the contrary, where he has traveled at all, he has traveled extensively. He is like a tourist who has been so many times abroad that his allusions are naturally and unaffectedly made. But the man just back from a first trip on the continent has astonishment stamped upon his face, and he speaks of Paris and of the Alps as if he had discovered both. Zola is one of those practitioners who, big with recently acquired knowledge, appear to labour under the idea that the chief end of a novel is to convey miscellaneous information. This is probably a mistake. Novels are not handbooks on floriculture, banking, railways, or the management of department stores. One may make a parade of minute details and endlessly wearisome learning and gain a certain credit thereby; but what if the details and the learning are chiefly of value in a dictionary of sciences and commerce? Wisdom of this sort is to be sparingly used in a work of art.

In these matters I cannot but feel that Hardy has a reticence so commendable that praise of it is superfluous and impertinent. After all, men and women are better than sheep and cows, and had he been more explicit, he would have tempted one to inquire whether he proposed making a story or a volume which might bear the title The Wessex Farmer’s Own Hand-Book, and containing wise advice as to pigs, poultry, and the useful art of making two heads of cabbage grow where only one had grown before.


Among the most engaging qualities of this writer is humor. Hardy is a humorous man himself and entirely appreciative of the humor that is in others. According to a distinguished philosopher, wit and humor produce love. Hardy must then be in daily receipt of large measures of this ‘improving passion’ from his innumerable readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

His humor manifests itself in a variety of ways; by the use of witty epithet; by ingenious description of a thing which is not strikingly laughable in itself, but which becomes so from the closeness of his rendering; by a leisurely and ample account of a character with humorous traits, — traits which are brought artistically into prominence as an actor heightens the complexion in stage make-up; and finally by his lively reproductions of the talk of village and country people, — a class of society whose everyday speech has only to be heard to be enjoyed. I do not pretend that the sources of Hardy’s humor are exhausted in this analysis, but the majority of illustrations can be assigned to some one of these divisions.

He is usually thought to be at his best in descriptions of farmers, village mechanics, labourers, dairymen, men who kill pigs, tend sheep, furze-cutters, masons, hostlers, loafers who do nothing in particular, and while thus occupied rail on Lady Fortune in good set terms. Certainly he paints these people with affectionate fidelity. Their virile, racy talk delights him. His reproductions of that talk are often intensely realistic. Nearly every book has its chorus of human grotesques whose mere names are a source of mirth. William Worm, Grandfer Cantle, ‘Corp’el’ Tullidge, Christopher Coney, John Upjohn, Robert Creedle, Martin Cannister, Haymoss Fry, Robert Lickpan, and Sammy Blore, — men so denominated should stand for comic things, and these men do. William Worm, for example, was deaf. His deafness took an unusual form; he heard fish frying in his head, and he was not reticent upon the subject of his infirmity. He usually described himself by the epithet ‘wambling,’ and protested that he would never pay the Lord for his making, — a degree of self-knowledge which many have arrived at but few have the courage to confess. He was once observed in the act of making himself ‘passing civil and friendly by overspreading his face with a large smile that seemed to have no connection with the humor he was in.’ Sympathy because of his deafness elicited this response: ‘Ay, I assure you that frying o’ fish is going on for nights and days. And, you know, sometimes ‘tisn’t only fish, but rashers o’ bacon and inions. Ay, I can hear the fat pop and fizz as nateral as life.’

He was questioned as to what means of cure he had tried.

‘Oh, ay bless ye, I’ve tried everything. Ay, Providence is a merciful man, and I have hoped he’d have found it out by this time, living so many years in a parson’s family, too, as I have; but ‘a don’t seem to relieve me. Ay, I be a poor wambling man, and life’s a mint o’ trouble.’

One knows not which to admire the more, the appetizing realism in William Worm’s account of his infirmity, or the primitive state of his theological views which allowed him to look for special divine favour by virtue of the ecclesiastical conspicuousness of his late residence.

Hardy must have heard, with comfort in the thought of its literary possibilities, the following dialogue on the cleverness of women. It occurs in the last chapter of The Woodlanders. A man who is always spoken of as the ‘hollow-turner,’ a phrase obviously descriptive of his line of business, which related to wooden bowls, spigots, cheese-vats, and funnels, talks with John Upjohn.

‘What women do know nowadays!’ he says. ‘You can’t deceive ‘em as you could in my time.’

‘What they knowed then was not small,’ said John Upjohn. ‘Always a good deal more than the men! Why, when I went courting my wife that is now, the skillfulness that she would show in keeping me on her pretty side as she walked was beyond all belief. Perhaps you’ve noticed that she’s got a pretty side to her face as well as a plain one?’

‘I can’t say I’ve noticed it particular much,’ said the hollow-turner blandly.

‘Well,’ continued Upjohn, not disconcerted, ‘she has. All women under the sun be prettier one side than t’other. And, as I was saying, the pains she would take to make me walk on the pretty side were unending. I warrent that whether we were going with the sun or against the sun, uphill or downhill, in wind or in lewth, that wart of hers was always toward the hedge, and that dimple toward me. There was I too simple to see her wheelings and turnings; and she so artful though two years younger, that she could lead me with a cotton thread like a blind ham; … no, I don’t think the women have got cleverer, for they was never otherwise.’


These men have sap and juice in their talk. When they think they think clearly. When they speak they express themselves with an energy and directness which mortify the thin speech of conventional persons. Here is Farfrae, the young Scotchman, in the tap-room of the Three Mariners Inn of Casterbridge, singing of his ain contree with a pathos quite unknown in that part of the world. The worthies who frequent the place are deeply moved. ‘Danged if our country down here is worth singing about like that,’ says Billy Wills, the glazier, — while the literal Christopher Coney inquires, ‘What did ye come away from yer own country for, young maister, if ye be so wownded about it?’ Then it occurs to him that it wasn’t worth Farfrae’s while to leave the fair face and the home of which he had been singing to come among such as they. ‘We be bruckle folk here — the best o’ us hardly honest sometimes, what with hard winters, and so many mouths to fill, and God-a’mighty sending his little taties so terrible small to fill ‘em with. We don’t think about flowers and fair faces, not we — except in the shape of cauliflowers and pigs’ chaps.’

I should like to see the man who sat to Artist Hardy for the portrait of Corporal Tullidge in The Trumpet-Major. This worthy, who was deaf and talked in an uncompromisingly loud voice, had been struck in the head by a piece of shell at Valenciennes in ‘93. His left arm had been smashed. Time and Nature had done what they could, and under their beneficent influences the arm had become a sort of anatomical rattle-box. People interested in Corp’el Tullidge were allowed to see his head and hear his arm. The corp’el gave these private views at any time, and was quite willing to show off, though the exhibition was apt to bore him a little. His fellows displayed him much as one would a ‘freak’ in a dime museum.

‘You have got a silver plate let into yer head, haven’t ye, corp’el?’ said Anthony Cripplestraw. ‘I have heard that the way they mortised yer skull was a beautiful piece of workmanship. Perhaps the young woman would like to see the place.’

The young woman was Anne Garland, the sweet heroine of the story; and Anne didn’t want to see the silver plate, the thought of which made her almost faint. Nor could she be tempted by being told that one couldn’t see such a ‘wownd’ every day. Then Cripplestraw, earnest to please her, suggested that Tullidge rattle his arm, which Tullidge did, to Anne’s great distress.

‘Oh, it don’t hurt him, bless ye. Do it, corp’el?’ said Cripplestraw.

‘Not a bit,’ said the corporal, still working his arm with great energy. There was, however, a perfunctoriness in his manner ‘as if the glory of exhibition had lost somewhat of its novelty, though he was still willing to oblige.’ Anne resisted all entreaties to convince herself by feeling of the corporal’s arm that the bones were ‘as loose as a bag of ninepins,’ and displayed an anxiety to escape. Whereupon the corporal, ‘with a sense that his time was getting wasted,’ inquired: ‘Do she want to see or hear any more, or don’t she?’

This is but a single detail in the account of a party which Miller Loveday gave to soldier guests in honour of his son John, — a description the sustained vivacity of which can only be appreciated through a reading of those brilliant early chapters of the story.

Half the mirth that is in these men comes from the frankness with which they confess their actual thoughts. Ask a man of average morals and average attainments why he doesn’t go to church. You won’t know any better after he has given you his answer. Ask Nat Chapman, of the novel entitled Two on a Tower, and you will not be troubled with ambiguities. He doesn’t like to go because Mr. Torkingham’s sermons make him think of soul-saving and other bewildering and uncomfortable topics. So when the son of Torkingham’s predecessor asks Nat how it goes with him, that tiller of the soil answers promptly: ‘Pa’son Tarkenham do tease a feller’s conscience that much, that church is no holler-day at all to the limbs, as it was in yer reverent father’s time!’

The unswerving honesty with which they assign utilitarian motives for a particular line of conduct is delightful. Three men discuss a wedding, which took place not at the home of the bride but in a neighbouring parish, and was therefore very private. The first doesn’t blame the new married pair, because ‘a wedding at home means five and six handed reels by the hour, and they do a man’s legs no good when he’s over forty.’ A second corroborates the remark and says: ‘True. Once at the woman’s house you can hardly say nay to being one in a jig, knowing all the time that you be expected to make yourself worth your victuals.’

The third puts the whole matter beyond the need of further discussion by adding: ‘For my part, I like a good hearty funeral as well as anything. You’ve as splendid victuals and drink as at other parties, and even better. And it don’t wear your legs to stumps in talking over a poor fellow’s ways as it do to stand up in hornpipes.’

Beings who talk like this know their minds, — a rather unwonted circumstance among the sons of men, — and knowing them, they do the next most natural thing in the world, which is to speak the minds they have.

There is yet another phase of Hardy’s humor to be noted: that humor, sometimes defiant, sometimes philosophic, which concerns death and its accompaniments. It cannot be thought morbid. Hardy is too fond of Nature ever to degenerate into mere morbidity. He has lived much in the open air, which always corrects a tendency to ‘vapors.’ He takes little pleasure in the gruesome, a statement in support of which one may cite all his works up to 1892, the date of the appearance of Tess. This paper includes no comment in detail upon the later books; but so far as Tess is concerned it would be critical folly to speak of it as morbid. It is sad, it is terrible, as Lear is terrible, or as any one of the great tragedies, written by men we call ‘masters,’ is terrible. Jude is psychologically gruesome, no doubt; but not absolutely indefensible. Even if it were as black a book as some critics have painted it, the general truth of the statement as to the healthfulness of Hardy’s work would not be impaired. This work judged as a whole is sound and invigorating. He cannot be accused of over-fondness for charnel-houses or ghosts. He does not discourse of graves and vaults in order to arouse that terror which the thought of death inspires. It is not for the purpose of making the reader uncomfortable. If the grave interests him, it is because of the reflections awakened. ‘Man, proud man,’ needs that jog to his memory which the pomp of interments and aspect of tombstones give. Hardy has keen perception of that humor which glows in the presence of death and on the edge of the grave. The living have such a tremendous advantage over the dead, that they can neither help feeling it nor avoid a display of the feeling. When the lion is buried the dogs crack jokes at the funeral. They do it in a subdued manner, no doubt, and with a sense of proprieties, but nevertheless they do it. Their immense superiority is never so apparent as at just this moment.

This humor, which one notes in Hardy, is akin to the humor of the grave-diggers in Hamlet, but not so grim. I have heard a country undertaker describe the details of the least attractive branch of his uncomfortable business with a pride and self-satisfaction that would have been farcical had not the subject been so depressing. This would have been matter for Hardy’s pen. There are few scenes in his books more telling than that which shows the operations in the family vault of the Luxellians, when John Smith, Martin Cannister, and old Simeon prepare the place for Lady Luxellian’s coffin. It seems hardly wise to pronounce this episode as good as the grave-diggers’ scene in Hamlet; that would shock some one and gain for the writer the reputation of being enthusiastic rather than critical. But I profess that I enjoy the talk of old Simeon and Martin Cannister quite as much as the talk of the first and second grave-diggers.

Simeon, the shriveled mason, was ‘a marvelously old man, whose skin seemed so much too large for his body that it would not stay in position.’ He talked of the various great dead whose coffins filled the family vault. Here was the stately and irascible Lord George: —

‘Ah, poor Lord George,’ said the mason, looking contemplatively at the huge coffin; ‘he and I were as bitter enemies once as any could be when one is a lord and t’other only a mortal man. Poor fellow! He’d clap his hand upon my shoulder and cuss me as familiar and neighbourly as if he’d been a common chap. Ay, ‘a cussed me up hill and ‘a cussed me down; and then ‘a would rave out again and the goold clamps of his fine new teeth would glisten in the sun like fetters of brass, while I, being a small man and poor, was fain to say nothing at all. Such a strappen fine gentleman as he was too! Yes, I rather liken en sometimes. But once now and then, when I looked at his towering height, I’d think in my inside, “What a weight you’ll be, my lord, for our arms to lower under the inside of Endelstow church some day!”‘

‘And was he?’ inquired a young labourer.

‘He was. He was five hundred weight if ‘a were a pound. What with his lead, and his oak, and his handles, and his one thing and t’other’ — here the ancient man slapped his hand upon the cover with a force that caused a rattle among the bones inside — ’he half broke my back when I took his feet to lower en down the steps there. “Ah,” saith I to John there — didn’t I, John? — ”that ever one man’s glory should be such a weight upon another man!” But there, I liked my Lord George sometimes.’

It may be observed that as Hardy grows older his humor becomes more subtle or quite dies away, as if serious matters pressed upon his mind, and there was no time for being jocular. Some day, perhaps, if he should rise to the dignity of an English classic, this will be spoken of as his third period, and critics will be wise in the elucidation thereof. But just at present this third period is characterized by the terms ‘pessimistic’ and ‘unhealthy.’

That he is a pessimist in the colloquial sense admits of little question. Nor is it surprising; it is rather difficult not to be. Not a few persons are pessimists and won’t tell. They preserve a fair exterior, but secretly hold that all flesh is grass. Some people escape the disease by virtue of much philosophy or much religion or much work. Many who have not taken up permanent residence beneath the roof of Schopenhauer or Von Hartmann are occasional guests. Then there is that great mass of pessimism which is the result, not of thought, but of mere discomfort, physical and super-physical. One may have attacks of pessimism from a variety of small causes. A bad stomach will produce it. Financial difficulties will produce it. The light-minded get it from changes in the weather.

That note of melancholy which we detect in many of Hardy’s novels is as it should be. For no man can apprehend life aright and still look upon it as a carnival. He may attain serenity in respect to it, but he can never be jaunty and flippant. He can never slap life upon the back and call it by familiar names. He may hold that the world is indisputably growing better, but he will need to admit that the world is having a hard time in so doing.

Hardy would be sure of a reputation for pessimism in some quarters if only because of his attitude, or what people think is his attitude, toward marriage. He has devoted many pages and not a little thought to the problems of the relations between men and women. He is considerably interested in questions of ‘matrimonial divergence.’ He recognizes that most obvious of all obvious truths, that marriage is not always a success; nay, more than this, that it is often a makeshift, an apology, a pretense. But he professes to undertake nothing beyond a statement of the facts. It rests with the public to lay his statement beside their experience and observation, and thus take measure of the fidelity of his art.

He notes the variety of motives by which people are actuated in the choice of husbands and wives. In the novel called The Woodlanders, Grace Melbury, the daughter of a rich though humbly-born yeoman, has unusual opportunities for a girl of her class, and is educated to a point of physical and intellectual daintiness which make her seem superior to her home environment. Her father has hoped that she will marry her rustic lover, Giles Winterbourne, who, by the way, is a man in every fibre of his being. Grace is quite unspoiled by her life at a fashionable boarding school, but after her return her father feels (and Hardy makes the reader feel) that in marrying Giles she will sacrifice herself. She marries Dr. Fitzspiers, a brilliant young physician, recently come into the neighbourhood, and in so doing she chooses for the worse. The character of Dr. Fitzspiers is summarized in a statement he once made (presumably to a male friend) that ‘on one occasion he had noticed himself to be possessed by five distinct infatuations at the same time.’

His flagrant infidelities bring about a temporary separation; Grace is not able to comprehend ‘such double and treble-barreled hearts.’ When finally they are reunited the life-problem of each still awaits an adequate solution. For the motive which brings the girl back to her husband is only a more complex phase of the same motive which chiefly prompted her to marry him. Hardy says that Fitzspiers as a lover acted upon Grace ‘like a dram.’ His presence ‘threw her into an atmosphere which biased her doings until the influence was over.’ Afterward she felt ‘something of the nature of regret for the mood she had experienced.’

But this same story contains two other characters who are unmatched in fiction as the incarnation of pure love and self-forgetfulness. Giles Winterbourne, whose devotion to Grace is without wish for happiness which shall not imply a greater happiness for her, dies that no breath of suspicion may fall upon her. He in turn is loved by Marty South with a completeness which destroys all thought of self. She enjoys no measure of reward while Winterbourne lives. He never knows of Marty’s love. But in that last fine paragraph of this remarkable book, when the poor girl places the flowers upon his grave she utters a little lament which for beauty, pathos, and realistic simplicity is without parallel in modern fiction. Hardy was never more of an artist than when writing the last chapter of The Woodlanders.

After all, a book in which unselfish love is described in terms at once just and noble cannot be dangerously pessimistic, even if it also takes cognizance of such hopeless cases as a man with a chronic tendency to fluctuations of the heart.

The matter may be put briefly thus: In Hardy’s novels one sees the artistic result of an effort to paint life as it is, with much of its joy and a deal of its sorrow, with its good people and its selfish people, its positive characters and its Laodiceans, its men and women who dominate circumstances, and its unhappy ones who are submerged. These books are the record of what a clear-eyed, sane, vigorous, sympathetic, humorous man knows about life; a man too conscious of things as they are to wish grossly to exaggerate or to disguise them; and at the same time so entirely aware how much poetry as well as irony God has mingled in the order of the world as to be incapable of concealing that fact either. He is of such ample intellectual frame that he makes the petty contentions of literary schools appear foolish. I find a measure of Hardy’s mind in passages which set forth his conception of the preciousness of life, no matter what the form in which life expresses itself. He is peculiarly tender toward brute creation. In that paragraph which describes Tess discovering the wounded pheasants in the wood, Hardy suggests the thought, quite new to many people, that chivalry is not confined to the relations of man to man or of man to woman. There are still weaker fellow-creatures in Nature’s teeming family. What if we are unmannerly or unchivalrous toward them?

He abounds in all manner of pithy sayings, many of them wise, a few of them profound, and not one which is unworthy a second reading. It is to be hoped that he will escape the doubtful honour of being dispersedly set forth in a ‘Wit and Wisdom of Thomas Hardy.’ Such books are a depressing species of literature and seem chiefly designed to be given away at holiday time to acquaintances who are too important to be put off with Christmas cards, and not important enough to be supplied with gifts of a calculable value.

One must praise the immense spirit and vivacity of scenes where something in the nature of a struggle, a moral duel, goes on. In such passages every power at the writer’s command is needed; unerring directness of thought, and words which clothe this thought as an athlete’s garments fit the body. Everything must count, and the movement of the narrative must be sustained to the utmost. The chess-playing scene between Elfride and Knight in A Pair of Blue Eyes is an illustration. Sergeant Troy displaying his skill in handling the sword — weaving his spell about Bathsheba in true snake fashion, is another example. Still more brilliant is the gambling scene in The Return of the Native, where Wildeve and Diggory Venn, out on the heath in the night, throw dice by the light of a lantern for Thomasin’s money. Venn, the reddleman, in the Mephistophelian garb of his profession, is the incarnation of a good spirit, and wins the guineas from the clutch of the spendthrift husband. The scene is immensely dramatic, with its accompaniments of blackness and silence, Wildeve’s haggard face, the circle of ponies, known as heath-croppers, which are attracted by the light, the death’s-head moth which extinguishes the candle, and the finish of the game by the light of glow-worms. It is a glorious bit of writing in true bravura style.

His books have a quality which I shall venture to call ‘spaciousness,’ in the hope that the word conveys the meaning I try to express. It is obvious that there is a difference between books which are large and books which are merely long. The one epithet refers to atmosphere, the other to number of pages. Hardy writes large books. There is room in them for the reader to expand his mind. They are distinctly out-of-door books, ‘not smacking of the cloister or the library.’ In reading them one has a feeling that the vault of heaven is very high, and that the earth stretches away to interminable distances upon all sides. This quality of largeness is not dependent upon number of pages; nor is length absolute as applied to books. A book may contain one hundred pages and still be ninety-nine pages too long, for the reason that its truth, its lesson, its literary virtue, are not greater than might be expressed in a single page.

Spaciousness is in even less degree dependent upon miles. The narrowness, geographically speaking, of Hardy’s range of expression is notable. There is much contrast between him and Stevenson in this respect. The Scotchman has embodied in his fine books the experiences of life in a dozen different quarters of the globe. Hardy, with more robust health, has traveled from Portland to Bath, and from ‘Wintoncester’ to ‘Exonbury,’ — journeys hardly more serious than from the blue bed to the brown. And it is better thus. No reader of The Return of the Native would have been content that Eustacia Vye should persuade her husband back to Paris. Rather than the boulevards one prefers Egdon heath, as Hardy paints it, ‘the great inviolate place,’ the ‘untamable Ishmaelitish thing’ which its arch-enemy, Civilization, could not subdue.

He is without question one of the best writers of our time, whether for comedy or for tragedy; and for extravaganza, too, as witness his lively farce called The Hand of Ethelberta. He can write dialogue or description. He is so excellent in either that either, as you read it, appears to make for your highest pleasure. If his characters talk, you would gladly have them talk to the end of the book. If he, the author, speaks, you would not wish to interrupt. More than most skillful writers, he preserves that just balance between narrative and colloquy.

His best novels prior to the appearance of Tess, are The Woodlanders, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, and The Mayor of Casterbridge. These four are the bulwarks of his reputation, while a separate and great fame might be based alone on that powerful tragedy called by its author Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

Criticism which glorifies any one book of a given author at the expense of all his other books is profitless, if not dangerous. Moreover, it is dangerous to have a favorite author as well as a favorite book of that favorite author. A man’s choice of books, like his choice of friends, is usually inexplicable to everybody but himself. However, the chief object in recommending books is to make converts to the gospel of literature according to the writer of these books. For which legitimate purpose I would recommend to the reader who has hitherto denied himself the pleasure of an acquaintance with Thomas Hardy, the two volumes known as The Woodlanders and The Return of the Native. The first of these is the more genial because it presents a more genial side of Nature. But the other is a noble piece of literary workmanship, a powerful book, ingeniously framed, with every detail strongly realised; a book which is dramatic, humorous, sincere in its pathos, rich in its word-colouring, eloquent in its descriptive passages; a book which embodies so much of life and poetry that one has a feeling of mental exaltation as he reads.

Surely it is not wise in the critical Jeremiahs so despairingly to lift up their voices, and so strenuously to bewail the condition of the literature of the time. The literature of the time is very well, as they would see could they but turn their fascinated gaze from the meretricious and spectacular elements of that literature to the work of Thomas Hardy and George Meredith. With such men among the most influential in modern letters, and with Barrie and Stevenson among the idols of the reading world, it would seem that the office of public Jeremiah should be continued rather from courtesy than from an overwhelming sense of the needs of the hour.


Sir Edmund William Gosse (1849 –1928) was an English poet, author and critic. This chapter was taken from Gosse’s criticism book Some Diversions of a Man of Letters.

Sir Edmund Gosse


When, about Christmas time in 1898, Mr. Hardy’s admirers, who were expecting from him a new novel, received instead a thick volume of verse, there was mingled with their sympathy and respect a little disappointment and a great failure in apprehension. Those who were not rude enough to suggest that a cobbler should stick to his last, reminded one another that many novelists had sought relaxation by trifling with the Muses. Thackeray had published Ballads, and George Eliot had expatiated in a Legend of Jubal. No one thought the worse of Coningsby because its author had produced a Revolutionary Epic. It took some time for even intelligent criticism to see that the new Wessex Poems did not fall into this accidental category, and still, after twenty years, there survives a tendency to take the verse of Mr. Hardy, abundant and solid as it has become, as a mere subsidiary and ornamental appendage to his novels. It is still necessary to insist on the complete independence of his career as a poet, and to point out that if he had never published a page of prose he would deserve to rank high among the writers of his country on the score of the eight volumes of his verse. It is as a lyrical poet, and solely as a lyrical poet, that I propose to speak of him to-day.

It has been thought extraordinary that Cowper was over fifty when he published his first secular verses, but Mr. Hardy was approaching his sixtieth year when he sent Wessex Poems to the press. Such self-restraint — ”none hath by more studious ways endeavoured, and with more unwearied spirit none shall” — has always fascinated the genuine artist, but few have practised it with so much tenacity. When the work of Mr. Hardy is completed, nothing, it is probable, will more strike posterity than its unity, its consistency. He has given proof, as scarce any other modern writer has done, of tireless constancy of resolve. His novels formed an unbroken series from the Desperate Remedies of 1871 to The Well-Beloved of 1897. In the fulness of his success, and unseduced by all temptation, he closed that chapter of his career, and has kept it closed. Since 1898 he has been, persistently and periodically, a poet and nothing else. That he determined, for reasons best left to his own judgment, to defer the exhibition of his verse until he had completed his work in prose, ought not to prejudice criticism in its analysis of the lyrics and the colossal dramatic panorama. Mr. Hardy, exclusively as a poet, demands our undivided attention.

It is legitimate to speculate on other probable causes of Mr. Hardy’s delay. From such information as lies scattered before us, we gather that it was from 1865 to 1867 that he originally took poetry to be his vocation. The dated pieces in the volume of 1898 help us to form an idea of the original character of his utterance. On the whole it was very much what it remains in the pieces composed after a lapse of half a century. Already, as a very young man, Mr. Hardy possessed his extraordinary insight into the movements of human character, and his eloquence in translating what he had observed of the tragedy and pain of rustic lives. No one, for sixty years, had taken so closely to heart the admonitions of Wordsworth in his famous Preface to the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads to seek for inspiration in that condition where “the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful forms of nature.” But it may well be doubted whether Mr. Hardy’s poems would have been received in the mid-Victorian age with favour, or even have been comprehended. Fifty years ahead of his time, he was asking in 1866 for novelty of ideas, and he must have been conscious that his questioning would seem inopportune. He needed a different atmosphere, and he left the task of revolt to another, and, at first sight, a very unrelated force, that of the Poems and Ballads of the same year. But Swinburne succeeded in his revolution, and although he approached the art from an opposite direction, he prepared the way for an ultimate appreciation of Mr. Hardy.

We should therefore regard the latter, in spite of his silence of forty years, as a poet who laboured, like Swinburne, at a revolution against the optimism and superficial sweetness of his age. Swinburne, it is true, tended to accentuate the poetic side of poetry, while Mr. Hardy drew verse, in some verbal respects, nearer to prose. This does not affect their common attitude, and the sympathy of these great artists for one another’s work has already been revealed, and will be still more clearly exposed. But they were unknown to each other in 1866, when to both of them the cheap philosophy of the moment, the glittering femininity of the “jewelled line,” the intense respect for Mrs. Grundy in her Sunday satin, appeared trumpery, hateful, and to be trampled upon. We find in Mr. Hardy’s earliest verse no echo of the passionate belief in personal immortality which was professed by Ruskin and Browning. He opposed the Victorian theory of human “progress”; the Tennysonian beatific Vision seemed to him ridiculous. He rejected the idea of the sympathy and goodness of Nature, and was in revolt against the self-centredness of the Romantics. We may conjecture that he combined a great reverence for The Book of Job with a considerable contempt for In Memoriam.

This was not a mere rebellious fancy which passed off; it was something inherent that remained, and gives to-day their peculiar character to Mr. Hardy’s latest lyrics. But before we examine the features of this personal mode of interpreting poetry to the world, we may collect what little light we can on the historic development of it. In the pieces dated between 1865 and 1867 we find the germ of almost everything which has since characterised the poet. In “Amabel” the ruinous passage of years, which has continued to be an obsession with Mr. Hardy, is already crudely dealt with. The habit of taking poetical negatives of small scenes — ”your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree, and a pond edged with grayish leaves” (“Neutral Times”) — which had not existed in English verse since the days of Crabbe, reappears. There is marked already a sense of terror and resentment against the blind motions of chance — In “Hap” the author would positively welcome a certainty of divine hatred as a relief from the strain of depending upon “crass casualty.” Here and there in these earliest pieces an extreme difficulty of utterance is remarkable in the face of the ease which the poet attained afterwards in the expression of his most strange images and fantastic revelations. We read in “At a Bridal”: —

“Should I, too, wed as slave to Mode’s decree, And each thus found apart, of false desire A stolid line, whom no high aims will fire As had fired ours could ever have mingled we!”

This, although perfectly reducible, takes time to think out, and at a hasty glance seems muffled up in obscurity beyond the darkness of Donne; moreover, it is scarcely worthy in form of the virtuoso which Mr. Hardy was presently to become. Perhaps of the poems certainly attributable to this earliest period, the little cycle of sonnets called “She to Him” gives clearest promise of what was coming. The sentiment is that of Ronsard’s famous “Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,” but turned round, as Mr. Hardy loves to do, from the man to the woman, and embroidered with ingenuities, such as where the latter says that as her temperament dies down the habit of loving will remain, and she be

“Numb as a vane that cankers on its point, True to the wind that kissed ere canker came,”

which attest a complexity of mind that Ronsard’s society knew nothing of.

On the whole, we may perhaps be safe in conjecturing that whatever the cause, the definite dedication to verse was now postponed. Meanwhile, the writing of novels had become the business of Mr. Hardy’s life, and ten years go by before we trace a poet in that life again. But it is interesting to find that when the great success of Far from the Madding Crowd had introduced him to a circle of the best readers, there followed an effect which again disturbed his ambition for the moment. Mr. Hardy was once more tempted to change the form of his work. He wished “to get back to verse,” but was dissuaded by Leslie Stephen, who induced him to start writing The Return of the Native instead. On March 29th, 1875, Coventry Patmore, then a complete stranger, wrote to express his regret that “such almost unequalled beauty and power as appeared in the novels should not have assured themselves the immortality which would have been conferred upon them by the form of verse.” This was just at the moment when we find Mr. Hardy’s conversations with “long Leslie Stephen in the velveteen coat” obstinately turning upon “theologies decayed and defunct, the origin of things, the constitution of matter, and the unreality of time.” To this period belongs also the earliest conception of The Dynasts, an old note-book containing, under the date June 20th, 1875, the suggestion that the author should attempt “An Iliad of Europe from 1789 to 1815.”

To this time also seems to belong the execution of what has proved the most attractive section of Mr. Hardy’s poetry, the narratives, or short Wessex ballads. The method in which these came into the world is very curious. Many of these stories were jotted down to the extent of a stanza or two when the subject first occurred to the author. For instance, “The Fire at Tranter Sweatley’s,” first published by Lionel Johnson in 1894, had been begun as early as 1867, and was finished ten years later. The long ballad of “Leipzig” and the savage “San Sebastian,” both highly characteristic, were also conceived and a few lines of each noted down long before their completion. “Valenciennes,” however, belongs to 1878, and the “Dance at the Phœnix,” of which the stanza beginning “‘Twas Christmas” alone had been written years before, seems to have been finished about the same time. What evidence is before us goes to prove that in the ‘seventies Mr. Hardy became a complete master of the art of verse, and that his poetic style was by this time fixed. He still kept poetry out of public sight, but he wrote during the next twenty years, as though in a backwater off the stream of his novels, the poems which form the greater part of the volume of 1898. If no other collection of his lyrical verse existed, we should miss a multitude of fine things, but our general conception of his genius would be little modified.

We should judge carelessly, however, if we treated the subsequent volumes as mere repetitions of the original Wessex Poems. They present interesting differences, which I may rapidly note before I touch on the features which characterise the whole body of Mr. Hardy’s verse. Poems of the Past and Present, which came out in the first days of 1902, could not but be in a certain measure disappointing, in so far as it paralleled its three years’ product with that of the thirty years of Wessex Poems. Old pieces were published in it, and it was obvious that in 1898 Mr. Hardy might be expected to have chosen from what used to be called his “portfolio” those specimens which he thought to be most attractive. But on further inspection this did not prove to be quite the case. After pondering for twelve years on the era of Napoleon, his preoccupation began in 1887 to drive him into song: —

“Must I pipe a palinody, Or be silent thereupon?”

He decides that silence has become impossible: —

“Nay; I’ll sing ‘The Bridge of Lodi’ — That long-loved, romantic thing, Though none show by smile or nod, he Guesses why and what I sing!”

Here is the germ of The Dynasts. But in the meantime the crisis of the Boer War had cut across the poet’s dream of Europe a hundred years ago, and a group of records of the Dorsetshire elements of the British army at the close of 1899 showed in Mr. Hardy’s poetry what had not been suspected there — a military talent of a most remarkable kind. Another set of pieces composed in Rome were not so interesting; Mr. Hardy always seems a little languid when he leaves the confines of his native Wessex. Another section of Poems of the Past and Present is severely, almost didactically, metaphysical, and expands in varied language the daring thought, so constantly present in Mr. Hardy’s reverie, that God Himself has forgotten the existence of earth, this “tiny sphere,” this “tainted ball,” “so poor a thing,” and has left all human life to be the plaything of blind chance. This sad conviction is hardly ruffled by “The Darkling Thrush,” which goes as far towards optimism as Mr. Hardy can let himself be drawn, or by such reflections as those in “On a Fine Morning”: —

“Whence comes Solace? Not from seeing What is doing, suffering, being; Not from noting Life’s conditions, Not from heeding Time’s monitions; But in cleaving to the Dream, And in gazing on the gleam Whereby gray things golden seem.”

Eight years more passed, years marked by the stupendous effort of The Dynasts, before Mr. Hardy put forth another collection of lyrical poems. Time’s Laughingstocks confirmed, and more than confirmed, the high promise of Wessex Poems. The author, in one of his modest prefaces, where he seems to whisper while we bend forward in our anxiety not to miss one thrifty sentence, expresses the hope that Time’s Laughingstocks will, as a whole, take the “reader forward, even if not far, rather than backward.”

The book, indeed, does not take us “far” forward, simply because the writer’s style and scope were definitely exposed to us already, and yet it does take us “forward,” because the hand of the master is conspicuously firmer and his touch more daring. The Laughingstocks themselves are fifteen in number, tragical stories of division and isolation, of failures in passion, of the treason of physical decay. No landscape of Mr. Hardy’s had been more vivid than the night-pictures in “The Revisitation,” where the old soldier in barracks creeps out on to the gaunt down, and meets (by one of Mr. Hardy’s coincidences) his ancient mistress, and no picture more terrible than the revelation of each to the other in a blaze of sunrise. What a document for the future is “Reminiscences of a Dancing Man”? If only Shakespeare could have left us such a song of the London in 1585! But the power of the poet culminates in the pathos of “The Tramp Woman” — perhaps the greatest of all Mr. Hardy’s lyrical poems — and in the horror of “A Sunday Morning’s Tragedy.”

It is noticeable that Time’s Laughingstocks is, in some respects, a more daring collection than its predecessors. We find the poet here entirely emancipated from convention, and guided both in religion and morals exclusively by the inner light of his reflection. His energy now interacts on his clairvoyance with a completeness which he had never quite displayed before, and it is here that we find Mr. Hardy’s utterance peculiarly a quintessence of himself. Especially in the narrative pieces — which are often Wessex novels distilled into a wine-glass, such as “Rose-Ann,” and “The Vampirine Fair” — he allows no considerations of what the reader may think “nice” or “pleasant” to shackle his sincerity or his determination; and it is therefore to Time’s Laughingstocks that the reader who wishes to become intimately acquainted with Mr. Hardy as a moralist most frequently recurs. We notice here more than elsewhere in his poems Mr. Hardy’s sympathy with the local music of Wessex, and especially with its expression by the village choir, which he uses as a spiritual symbol. Quite a large section of Time’s Laughingstocks takes us to the old-fashioned gallery of some church, where the minstrels are bowing “New Sabbath” or “Mount Ephraim,” or to a later scene where the ghosts, in whose melancholy apparition Mr. Hardy takes such pleasure, chant their goblin melodies and strum “the viols of the dead” in the moonlit churchyard. The very essence of Mr. Hardy’s reverie at this moment of his career is to be found, for instance, in “The Dead Quire,” where the ancient phantom-minstrels revenge themselves on their gross grandsons outside the alehouse.

Almost immediately after the outbreak of the present war Mr. Hardy presented to a somewhat distraught and inattentive public another collection of his poems. It cannot be said that Satires of Circumstance is the most satisfactory of those volumes; it is, perhaps, that which we could with the least discomposure persuade ourselves to overlook. Such a statement refers more to the high quality of other pages than to any positive decay of power or finish here. There is no less adroitness of touch and penetration of view in this book than elsewhere, and the poet awakens once more our admiration by his skill in giving poetic value to minute conditions of life which have escaped less careful observers. But in Satires of Circumstance the ugliness of experience is more accentuated than it is elsewhere, and is flung in our face with less compunction. The pieces which give name to the volume are only fifteen in number, but the spirit which inspires them is very frequently repeated in other parts of the collection. That spirit is one of mocking sarcasm, and it acts in every case by presenting a beautifully draped figure of illusion, from which the poet, like a sardonic showman, twitches away the robe that he may display a skeleton beneath it. We can with little danger assume, as we read the Satires of Circumstance, hard and cruel shafts of searchlight as they seem, that Mr. Hardy was passing through a mental crisis when he wrote them. This seems to be the Troilus and Cressida of his life’s work, the book in which he is revealed most distracted by conjecture and most overwhelmed by the miscarriage of everything. The wells of human hope have been poisoned for him by some condition of which we know nothing, and even the picturesque features of Dorsetshire landscape, that have always before dispersed his melancholy, fail to win his attention: —

“Bright yellowhammers Made mirthful clamours, And billed long straws with a bustling air, And bearing their load, Flew up the road That he followed alone, without interest there.”

The strongest of the poems of disillusion which are the outcome of this mood, is “The Newcomer’s Wife,” with the terrible abruptness of its last stanza. It is not for criticism to find fault with the theme of a work of art, but only to comment upon its execution. Of the merit of these monotonously sinister Satires of Circumstance there can be no question; whether the poet’s indulgence in the mood which gave birth to them does not tend to lower our moral temperature and to lessen the rebound of our energy, is another matter. At all events, every one must welcome a postscript in which a blast on the bugle of war seemed to have wakened the poet from his dark brooding to the sense of a new chapter in history.

In the fourth year of the war the veteran poet published Moments of Vision. These show a remarkable recovery of spirit, and an ingenuity never before excelled. With the passage of years Mr. Hardy, observing everything in the little world of Wessex, and forgetting nothing, has become almost preternaturally wise, and, if it may be said so, “knowing,” with a sort of magic, like that of a wizard. He has learned to track the windings of the human heart with the familiarity of a gamekeeper who finds plenty of vermin in the woods, and who nails what he finds, be it stoat or squirrel, to the barn-door of his poetry. But there is also in these last-fruits of Mr. Hardy’s mossed tree much that is wholly detached from the bitterness of satire, much that simply records, with an infinite delicacy of pathos, little incidents of the personal life of long ago, bestowing the immortality of art on these fugitive fancies in the spirit of the Japanese sculptor when he chisels the melting of a cloud or the flight of an insect on his sword hilt: —

“I idly cut a parsley stalk And blew therein towards the moon; I had not thought what ghosts would walk With shivering footsteps to my tune.

“I went and knelt, and scooped my hand As if to drink, into the brook, And a faint figure seemed to stand Above me, with the bye-gone look.

“I lipped rough rhymes of chance not choice, I thought not what my words might be; There came into my ear a voice That turned a tenderer verse for me.”

We have now in brief historic survey marshalled before us the various volumes in which Mr. Hardy’s lyrical poetry was originally collected. Before we examine its general character more closely, it may be well to call attention to its technical quality, which was singularly misunderstood at first, and which has never, we believe, been boldly faced. In 1898, and later, when a melodious falsetto was much in fashion amongst us, the reviewers found great fault with Mr. Hardy’s prosody; they judged him as a versifier to be rude and incorrect. As regards the single line, it may be confessed that Mr. Hardy, in his anxiety to present his thought in an undiluted form, is not infrequently clogged and hard. Such a line as

“Fused from its separateness by ecstasy”

hisses at us like a snake, and crawls like a wounded one. Mr. Hardy is apt to clog his lines with consonants, and he seems indifferent to the stiffness which is the consequence of this neglect. Ben Jonson said that “Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging”; perhaps we may go so far as to say that Mr. Hardy, for his indifference to a mellifluous run lays himself open to a mild rebuke. He is negligent of that eternal ornament of English verse, audible intricacy, probably because of Swinburne’s abuse of it. But most of what is called his harshness should rather be called bareness, and is the result of a revolt, conscious or unconscious, against Keats’ prescription of “loading the rifts with ore.”

In saying this, all has been said that an enemy could in justice say in blame of his metrical peculiarities. Unquestionably he does occasionally, like Robert Browning, err in the direction of cacophony. But when we turn to the broader part of prosody, we must perceive that Mr. Hardy is not only a very ingenious, but a very correct and admirable metricist. His stanzaic invention is abundant; no other Victorian poet, not even Swinburne, has employed so many forms, mostly of his own invention, and employed them so appropriately, that is to say, in so close harmony with the subject or story enshrined in them. To take an example from his pure lyrics of reflection first, from “The Bullfinches”: —

“Brother Bulleys, let us sing From the dawn till evening! For we know not that we go not When the day’s pale visions fold Unto those who sang of old,”

in the exquisite fineness and sadness of the stanza we seem to hear the very voices of the birds warbling faintly in the sunset. Again, the hurried, timid irresolution of a lover always too late is marvellously rendered in the form of “Lizbie Browne”: —

“And Lizbie Browne, Who else had hair Bay-red as yours, Or flesh so fair Bred out of doors, Sweet Lizbie Browne?”

On the other hand, the fierceness of “I said to Love” is interpreted in a stanza that suits the mood of denunciation, while “Tess’s Lament” wails in a metre which seems to rock like an ageing woman seated alone before the fire, with an infinite haunting sadness.

It is, however, in the narrative pieces, the little Wessex Tales, that Mr. Hardy’s metrical imagination is most triumphant. No two of these are identical in form, and for each he selects, or more often invents, a wholly appropriate stanza. He makes many experiments, one of the strangest being the introduction of rhymeless lines at regular intervals. Of this, “Cicely” is an example which repays attention: —

“And still sadly onward I followed, That Highway the Icen Which trails its pale riband down Wessex O’er lynchet and lea.

“Along through the Stour-bordered Forum, Where legions had wayfared, And where the slow river up-glasses Its green canopy”;

and one still more remarkable is the enchanting “Friends Beyond,” to which we shall presently recur. The drawling voice of a weary old campaigner is wonderfully rendered in the stanza of “Valenciennes”: —

“Well: Heaven wi’ its jasper halls Is now the on’y town I care to be in.. Good Lord, if Nick should bomb the walls As we did Valencieën!”

whereas for long Napoleonic stories like “Leipzig” and “The Peasant’s Confession,” a ballad-measure which contemporaries such as Southey or Campbell might have used is artfully chosen. In striking contrast we have the elabourate verse-form of “The Souls of the Slain,” in which the throbbing stanza seems to dilate and withdraw like the very cloud of moth-like phantoms which it describes. It is difficult to follow out this theme without more frequent quotation than I have space, for here, but the reader who pursues it carefully will not repeat the rumour that Mr. Hardy is a careless or “incorrect” metricist. He is, on the contrary, a metrical artist of great accomplishment.

The conception of life revealed in his verses by this careful artist is one which displays very exactly the bent of his temperament. During the whole of his long career Mr. Hardy has not budged an inch from his original line of direction. He holds that, abandoned by God, treated with scorn by Nature, man lies helpless at the mercy of “those purblind Doomsters,” accident, chance, and time, from whom he has had to endure injury and insult from the cradle to the grave. This is stating the Hardy doctrine in its extreme form, but it is not stating it too strongly. This has been called his “pessimism,” a phrase to which some admirers, unwilling to give things their true name, have objected. But, of course, Mr. Hardy is a pessimist, just as Browning is an optimist, just as white is not black, and day is not night. Our juggling with words in paradox is too often apt to disguise a want of decision in thought. Let us admit that Mr. Hardy’s conception of the fatal forces which beleaguer human life is a “pessimistic” one, or else words have no meaning.

Yet it is needful to define in what this pessimism consists. It is not the egotism of Byron or the morbid melancholy of Chateaubriand. It is directed towards an observation of others, not towards an analysis of self, and this gives it more philosophical importance, because although romantic peevishness is very common among modern poets, and although ennui inspires a multitude of sonnets, a deliberate and imaginative study of useless suffering in the world around us is rare indeed among the poets. It is particularly to be noted that Mr. Hardy, although one of the most profoundly tragic of all modern writers, is neither effeminate nor sickly. His melancholy could never have dictated the third stanza of Shelley’s “Lines written in Dejection in the Bay of Naples.” His pessimism is involuntary, forced from him by his experience and his constitution, and no analysis could give a better definition of what divides him from the petulant despair of a poet like Leopardi than the lines “To Life”: —

“O life, with the sad scared face, I weary of seeing thee, And thy draggled cloak, and thy hobbling pace, And thy too-forced pleasantry!

“I know what thou would’st tell Of Death, Time, Destiny — I have known it long, and know, too, well What it all means for me.

“But canst thou not array Thyself in rare disguise, And feign like truth, for one mad day, That Earth is Paradise?

“I’ll tune me to the mood, And mumm with thee till eve, And maybe what as interlude I feign, I shall believe!”

But the mumming goes no deeper than it does in the exquisite poem of “The Darkling Thrush,” where the carolings of an aged bird, on a frosty evening, are so ecstatic that they waken a vague hope in the listener’s mind that the thrush may possibly know of “some blessed hope” of which the poet is “unaware.” This is as far as Mr. Hardy ever gets on the blest Victorian pathway of satisfaction.

There are certain aspects in which it is not unnatural to see a parallel between Mr. Hardy and George Crabbe. Each is the spokesman of a district, each has a passion for the study of mankind, each has gained by long years of observation a profound knowledge of local human character, and each has plucked on the open moor, and wears in his coat, the hueless flower of disillusion. But there is a great distinction in the aim of the two poets. Crabbe, as he describes himself in The Parish Register, was “the true physician” who “walks the foulest ward.” He was utilitarian in his morality; he exposed the pathos of tragedy by dwelling on the faults which led to it, forgetful of the fatality which in more consistent moments he acknowledged. Crabbe was realistic with a moral design, even in the Tales of the Hall, where he made a gallant effort at last to arrive at a detachment of spirit. No such effort is needed by Mr. Hardy, who has none of the instinct of a preacher, and who considers moral improvement outside his responsibility. He admits, with his great French contemporary, that

“Tout désir est menteur, toute joie éphémère, Toute liqueur au fond de la coupe est amère,”

but he is bent on discovering the cause of this devastation, and not disposed to waste time over its consequences. At the end he produces a panacea which neither Crabbe nor Byron dreamed of — resignation.

But the poet has not reached the end of his disillusion. He thinks to secure repose on the breast of Nature, the alma mater, to whom Goethe and Wordsworth and Browning each in his own way turned, and were rewarded by consolation and refreshment. We should be prepared to find Mr. Hardy, with his remarkable aptitude for the perception of natural forms, easily consoled by the influences of landscape and the inanimate world. His range of vision is wide and extremely exact; he has the gift of reproducing before us scenes of various character with a vividness which is sometimes startling. But Mr. Hardy’s disdain of sentimentality, and his vigorous analysis of the facts of life, render him insensible not indeed to the mystery nor to the beauty, but to the imagined sympathy, of Nature. He has no more confidence in the visible earth than in the invisible heavens, and neither here nor there is he able to persuade himself to discover a counsellor or a friend. In this connection, we do well to follow the poet’s train of thought in the lyric called “In a Wood,” where he enters a copse dreaming that, in that realm of “sylvan peace,” Nature would offer “a soft release from man’s unrest.” He immediately observes that the pine and the beech are struggling for existence, and trying to blight each other with dripping poison. He sees the ivy eager to strangle the elm, and the hawthorns choking the hollies. Even the poplars sulk and turn black under the shadow of a rival. In the end, filled with horror at all these crimes of Nature, the poet flees from the copse as from an accursed place, and he determines that life offers him no consolation except the company of those human beings who are as beleaguered as himself: —

“Since, then, no grace I find Taught me of trees, Turn I back to my kind Worthy as these. There at least smiles abound, There discourse trills around, There, now and then, are found, Life-loyalties.”

It is absurd, he decides, to love Nature, which has either no response to give, or answers in irony. Let us even avoid, as much as we can, deep concentration of thought upon the mysteries of Nature, lest we become demoralised by contemplating her negligence, her blindness, her implacability. We find here a violent reaction against the poetry of egotistic optimism which had ruled the romantic school in England for more than a hundred years, and we recognise a branch of Mr. Hardy’s originality. He has lifted the veil of Isis, and he finds beneath it, not a benevolent mother of men, but the tomb of an illusion. One short lyric, “Yell’ham-Wood’s Story,” puts this, again with a sylvan setting, in its unflinching crudity: —

“Coomb-Firtrees say that Life is a moan, And Clyffe-hill Clump says ‘Yea!’ But Yell’ham says a thing of its own: It’s not, ‘Gray, gray, Is Life alway!’ That Yell’ham says, Nor that Life is for ends unknown.

“It says that Life would signify A thwarted purposing: That we come to live, and are called to die. Yes, that’s the thing In fall, in spring, That Yell’ham says: — Life offers — to deny!’“

It is therefore almost exclusively to the obscure history of those who suffer and stumble around him, victims of the universal disillusion, men and women “come to live but called to die,” that Mr. Hardy dedicates his poetic function. “Lizbie Browne” appeals to us as a typical instance of his rustic pathos, his direct and poignant tenderness, and if we compare it with such poems of Wordsworth’s as “Lucy Gray” or “Alice Fell” we see that he starts by standing much closer to the level of the subject than his great predecessor does. Wordsworth is the benevolent philosopher sitting in a post-chaise or crossing the “wide moor” in meditation. Mr. Hardy is the familiar neighbour, the shy mourner at the grave; his relation is a more intimate one: he is patient, humble, un-upbraiding. Sometimes, as in the remarkable colloquy called “The Ruined Maid,” his sympathy is so close as to offer an absolute flout in the face to the system of Victorian morality. Mr. Hardy, indeed, is not concerned with sentimental morals, but with the primitive instincts of the soul, applauding them, or at least recording them with complacency, even when they outrage ethical tradition, as they do in the lyric narrative called “A Wife and Another.” The stanzas “To an Unborn Pauper Child” sum up what is sinister and what is genial in Mr. Hardy’s attitude to the unambitious forms of life which he loves to contemplate.

His temperature is not always so low as it is in the class of poems to which we have just referred, but his ultimate view is never more sanguine. He is pleased sometimes to act as the fiddler at a dance, surveying the hot-blooded couples, and urging them on by the lilt of his instrument, but he is always perfectly aware that they will have “to pay high for their prancing” at the end of all. No instance of this is more remarkable than the poem called “Julie-Jane,” a perfect example of Mr. Hardy’s metrical ingenuity and skill, which begins thus: —

“Sing; how ‘a would sing! How ‘a would raise the tune When we rode in the waggon from harvesting By the light o’ the moon!

“Dance; how ‘a would dance! If a fiddlestring did but sound She would hold out her coats, give a slanting glance, And go round and round.

“Laugh; how ‘a would laugh! Her peony lips would part As if none such a place for a lover to quaff At the deeps of a heart,”

and which then turns to the most plaintive and the most irreparable tragedy, woven, as a black design on to a background of gold, upon this basis of temperamental joyousness.

Alphonse Daudet once said that the great gift of Edmond de Goncourt was to, “rendre l’irrendable.” This is much more true of Mr. Hardy than it was of Goncourt, and more true than it is of any other English poet except Donne. There is absolutely no observation too minute, no flutter of reminiscence too faint, for Mr. Hardy to adopt as the subject of a metaphysical lyric, and his skill in this direction has grown upon him; it is nowhere so remarkable as in his latest volume, aptly termed Moments of Vision. Everything in village life is grist to his mill; he seems to make no selection, and his field is modest to humility and yet practically boundless. We have a poem on the attitude of two people with nothing to do and no book to read, waiting in the parlour of an hotel for the rain to stop, a recollection after more than forty years. That the poet once dropped a pencil into the cranny of an old church where he was sketching inspires an elabourate lyric. The disappearance of a rotted summer-house, the look of a row of silver drops of fog condensed on the bar of a gate, the effect of candlelight years and years ago on a woman’s neck and hair, the vision of a giant at a fair, led by a dwarf with a red string — such are amongst the subjects which awaken in Mr. Hardy thoughts which do often lie too deep for tears, and call for interpretation in verse. The skeleton of a lady’s sunshade, picked up on Swanage Cliffs, the pages of a fly-blown Testament lying in a railway waiting-room, a journeying boy in a third-class carriage, with his ticket stuck in the band of his hat — such are among the themes which awake in Mr. Hardy’s imagination reveries which are always wholly serious and usually deeply tragic.

Mr. Hardy’s notation of human touches hitherto excluded from the realm of poetry is one of the most notable features of his originality. It marked his work from the beginning, as in the early ballad of “The Widow,” where the sudden damping of the wooer’s amatory ardour in consequence of his jealousy of the child is rendered with extraordinary refinement. The difficulty of course is to know when to stop. There is always a danger that a poet, in his search after the infinitely ingenious, may lapse into amphigory, into sheer absurdity and triviality, which Cowper, in spite of his elegant lightness, does not always escape. Wordsworth, more serious in his intent, fell headlong in parts of Peter Bell, and in such ballads as “Betty Foy.” Mr. Hardy, whatever the poverty of his incident, commonly redeems it by the oddity of his observation; as in “The Pedigree”: —

“I bent in the deep of night Over a pedigree the chronicler gave As mine; and as I bent there, half-unrobed, The uncurtained panes of my window-square Let in the watery light Of the moon in its old age: And green-rheumed clouds were hurrying past Where mute and cold it globed Like a dying dolphin’s eye seen through a lapping wave.”

Mr. Hardy’s love of strange experiences, and of adventures founded on a balance of conscience and instinct, is constantly exemplified in those ballads and verse-anecdotes which form the section of his poetry most appreciated by the general public. Among these, extraordinarily representative of the poet’s habit of mind, is “My Cicely,” a tale of the eighteenth century, where a man impetuously rides from London through Wessex to be present at the funeral of the wrong woman; as he returns, by a coincidence, he meets the right woman, whom he used to love, and is horrified at “her liquor-fired face, her thick accents.” He determines that by an effort of will the dead woman (whom he never saw) shall remain, what she seemed during his wild ride, “my Cicely,” and the living woman be expunged from memory. A similar deliberate electing that the dream shall hold the place of the fact is the motive of “The Well-Beloved.” The ghastly humour of “The Curate’s Kindness” is a sort of reverse action of the same mental subtlety. Misunderstanding takes a very prominent place in Mr. Hardy’s irony of circumstance; as, almost too painfully, in “The Rash Bride,” a hideous tale of suicide following on the duplicity of a tender and innocent widow.

The grandmother of Mr. Hardy was born in 1772, and survived until 1857. From her lips he heard many an obscure old legend of the life of Wessex in the eighteenth century. Was it she who told him the terrible Exmoor story of “The Sacrilege;” the early tale of “The Two Men,” which might be the skeleton-scenario for a whole elabourate novel; or that incomparable comedy in verse, “The Fire at Tranter Sweatley’s,” with its splendid human touch at the very end? We suspect that it was; and perhaps at the same source he acquired his dangerous insight into the female heart, whether exquisitely feeble as in “The Home-coming” with its delicate and ironic surprise, or treacherous, as in the desolating ballad of “Rose-Ann.” No one, in prose or verse, has expatiated more poignantly than Mr. Hardy on what our forefathers used to call “cases of conscience.” He seems to have shared the experiences of souls to whom life was “a wood before your doors, and a labyrinth within the wood, and locks and bars to every door within that labyrinth,” as Jeremy Taylor describes that of the anxious penitents who came to him to confession. The probably very early story of “The Casterbridge Captains” is a delicate study in compunction, and a still more important example is “The Alarm,” where the balance of conscience and instinct gives to what in coarser hands might seem the most trivial of actions a momentous character of tragedy.

This is one of Mr. Hardy’s studies in military history, where he is almost always singularly happy. His portraits of the non-commissioned officer of the old service are as excellent in verse as they are in the prose of The Trumpet-Major or The Melancholy Hussar. The reader of the novels will not have to be reminded that “Valenciennes” and the other ballads have their prose-parallel in Simon Burden’s reminiscences of Minden. Mr. Hardy, with a great curiosity about the science of war and a close acquaintance with the mind of the common soldier, has pondered on the philosophy of fighting. “The Man he Killed,” written in 1902, expresses the wonder of the rifleman who is called upon to shoot his brother-in-arms, although

“Had he and I but met, By some old ancient inn, We should have set us down to wet Right many a nipperkin.”

In this connection the Poems of War and Patriotism, which form an important part of the volume of 1918, should be carefully examined by those who meditate on the tremendous problems of the moment.

A poet so profoundly absorbed in the study of life could not fail to speculate on the probabilities of immortality. Here Mr. Hardy presents to us his habitual serenity in negation. He sees the beautiful human body “lined by tool of time,” and he asks what becomes of it when its dissolution is complete. He sees no evidence of a conscious state after death, of what would have to be, in the case of aged or exhausted persons, a revival of spiritual force, and on the whole he is disinclined to cling to the faith in a future life. He holds that the immortality of a dead man resides in the memory of the living, his “finer part shining within ever-faithful hearts of those bereft.” He pursues this theme in a large number of his most serious and affecting lyrics, most gravely perhaps in “The To-be-Forgotten” and in “The Superseded.” This sense of the forlorn condition of the dead, surviving only in the dwindling memory of the living, inspires what has some claims to be considered the loveliest of all Mr. Hardy’s poems, “Friends Beyond,” which in its tenderness, its humour, and its pathos contains in a few pages every characteristic of his genius.

His speculation perceives the dead as a crowd of slowly vanishing phantoms, clustering in their ineffectual longing round the footsteps of those through whom alone they continue to exist. This conception has inspired Mr. Hardy with several wonderful visions, among which the spectacle of “The Souls of the Slain” in the Boer War, alighting, like vast flights of moths, over Portland Bill at night, is the most remarkable. It has the sublimity and much of the character of some apocalyptic design by Blake. The volume of 1902 contains a whole group of phantasmal pieces of this kind, where there is frequent mention of spectres, who address the poet in the accents of nature, as in the unrhymed ode called “The Mother Mourns.” The obsession of old age, with its physical decay (“I look into my glass”), the inevitable division which leads to that isolation which the poet regards as the greatest of adversities (“The Impercipient”), the tragedies of moral indecision, the contrast between the tangible earth and the bodyless ghosts, and endless repetition of the cry, “Why find we us here?” and of the question “Has some Vast Imbecility framed us in jest, and left us now to hazardry?” — all start from the overwhelming love of physical life and acquaintance with its possibilities, which Mr. Hardy possesses to an inordinate degree.

It would be ridiculous at the close of an essay to attempt any discussion of the huge dramatic panorama which many believe to be Mr. Hardy’s most weighty contribution to English literature. The spacious theatre of The Dynasts with its comprehensive and yet concise realisations of vast passages of human history, is a work which calls for a commentary as lengthy as itself, and yet needs no commentary at all. No work of the imagination is more its own interpreter than this sublime historic peep-show, this rolling vision of the Napoleonic chronicle drawn on the broadest lines, and yet in detail made up of intensely concentrated and vivid glimpses of reality. But the subject of my present study, the lyrical poetry of Mr. Hardy, is not largely illustrated in The Dynasts, except by the choral interludes of the phantom intelligences, which have great lyrical value, and by three or four admirable songs.

When we resume the effect which the poetry of Mr. Hardy makes upon the careful reader, we note, as I have indicated already, a sense of unity of direction throughout. Mr. Hardy has expressed himself in a thousand ways, but has never altered his vision. From 1867 to 1917, through half a century of imaginative creation, he has not modified the large outlines of his art in the smallest degree. To early readers of his poems, before the full meaning of them became evident, his voice sounded inharmonious, because it did not fit in with the exquisite melodies of the later Victorian age. But Mr. Hardy, with characteristic pertinacity, did not attempt to alter his utterance in the least, and now we can all perceive, if we take the trouble to do so, that what seemed harsh in his poetry was his peculiar and personal mode of interpreting his thoughts to the world.

As in his novels so in his poems, Mr. Hardy has chosen to remain local, to be the interpreter for present and future times of one rich and neglected province of the British realm. From his standpoint there he contemplates the wide aspect of life, but it seems huge and misty to him, and he broods over the tiny incidents of Wessex idiosyncracy. His irony is audacious and even sardonic, and few poets have been less solicitous to please their weaker brethren. But no poet of modern times has been more careful to avoid the abstract and to touch upon the real.


This essay was published by the novelist David Christie Murray and is taken from the book My Contemporaries in Fiction in 1897. The essay explores the influence of French fiction in Hardy’s novels.

The novelist and critic David Christie Murray


Within the last half-score of years an extraordinary impulse towards freedom in the artistic representation of life has touched some of our English writers. Thackeray, in ‘Pendennis,’ laments that since Fielding no English novelist has ‘dared to draw a man.’ Dr. George Macdonald, in his ‘Robert Falconer,’ whispers, in a sort of stage aside, his wish that it were possible to be both decent and honest in the exposition of the character of the Baron of Rothie, who is a seducer by profession. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of Thackeray was, that he was a gentleman, and that his good-breeding and his manliness were essentially of the English pattern. Dr. Mac-donald’s most intense impulse is towards purity of life, as an integral necessity for that communion with the Eternal Fatherhood which he preaches with so much earnestness and charm. That two such men should have felt that their work was subject to a painful limitation on one side of it is significant, but it is a fact which may be used with equal force as an argument by the advocates of the old method and the adopters of the new. It is perfectly true that they felt the restriction, but it is equally true that they respected it, and were resolute not to break through it. Their cases are cited here, not as an aid to argument on one side or the other, but simply to show that the argument itself is no new thing — that the question as to how far freedom is allowable has been debated in the minds of honest writers, and decided in one way, long before it came to be debated by another set of honest writers, who decided it in another.

There never was an age in which outspoken honesty was indecent. There never was an age in which pruriency in any guise could cease to be indecent. There never was an age when the fashion of outspoken honesty did not give a seeming excuse to pruriency; and it is this fact, that freedom in the artistic presentation of the sexual problems has invariably led to license, which has in many successive ages of literature forced the artist back to restraint, and has made him content to be bound by a rigid puritanism. In the beat of the eternal pendulum of taste it seems ordained that puritanism shall become so very puritanic that art shall grow tired of its bonds, and that liberty in turn shall grow offensive, and shall compel art by an overmastering instinct to return towards puritanism.

It is France which has led the way in the latest protest against the restrictions imposed by modern taste upon art. It may be admitted as a fact that those restrictions were felt severely, for it is obvious that until they began to chafe there was no likelihood of their being violently broken. The chief apostle of the new movement towards entire freedom is, of course, Emile Zola. After having excited for many years an incredulous amazement and disgust, he is now almost universally recognised as an honest and honourable artist, and as a great master in his craft. Nobody who is at all instructed ventures any longer to say that Zola is indecent because he loves indecency, or is pleased by the contemplation of the squalid and obscene. We see him as he truly is — a pessimist in humanity — sad and oppressed, and bitter with the gall of a hopeless sympathy with suffering and distorted mankind.

One English artist, whom, in the just language of contemporary criticism, it is no exaggeration to describe as great, has elected (rather late in life for so strong a departure) to cast in his lot with the new school. That his ambitions are wholly honourable it would be the mere vanity of injustice to deny. That his new methods contrast very unfavourably with his old ones, that he is lending the weight of his authority to a movement which is full of mischief, that in obeying in all sincerity an artistic impulse he is doing a marked disservice to his own art in particular, and to English art in general, are with me so many rooted personal convictions; but I dare not pretend that they are more. Mr. Hardy is just as sincere in his belief that he is right as I and others among his critics are in our belief that he is wrong. The question must be threshed out dispassionately and judicially, if it be faced at all. It cannot be settled by an appeal to personal sentiment on either side. But in the limits to which I am now restricted it is impossible to do justice to the discussion, and it would, indeed, be barely possible to state even the whole of its terms.

I am forced to content myself, therefore, with a temperamental expression of opinion in place of a judicial one, pleading only that the arguments against me are recognised and respected, although I have no present opportunity of recapitulating and disputing them. It appears, then — to speak merely as an advocate ex parte — to us of the old school that an essential part of the fiction writer’s duty is to be harmless. That, of course, to the men of the cayenne-pepper-caster creed seems a very milky sort of proclamation, but to us it is a matter of grave moment. I have always thought, for my own part, that the novelist might well take for his motto the last five words of that passage in ‘The Tempest’ where we read: ‘This isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, which give delight and hurt not! Simple as the motto seems, it will be found to offer a fairly wide range. When Reade tilted against prison abuses and the abuses of private asyla, or when Dickens rode down on the law of Chancery as administered in his day, or when Thackeray scourged snobbery and selfishness in society, they were all well within the limits of this rule. We experience a delight which hurts not, but on the contrary is entirely tonic and inspiring, when Satire swings his lash on the bared back of Hypocrisy or cruel and intentioned Vice. We experience a delight which hurts not, but on the contrary freshens the whole flood of feeling within us, when a true artist deals truly with the sorrows and infirmities of our kind. To offer it as our intent to give delight and hurt not is no mere profession of an artistic Grundyism. It is the proclamation of what is to our minds the simple truth, that fiction should be a joyful, an inspiring, a sympathetic, and a helpful art. There are certain questions the public discussion of which we purposely avoid. There are certain manifestations of character the exhibition of which we hold to be something like a crime.

Mr. Hardy would plead, and with perfectly apparent propriety, that he does not choose to write for ‘the young person.’ But I answer that he cannot help himself. He cannot choose his audience. Fiction appeals to everybody, and fiction so robust, so delicate and charming as his own finds its way into all hands. When a man can take a hall, and openly advertise that he intends to speak therein ‘to men only,’ he is reasonably allowed a certain latitude. If he pitches his cart on the village green, and talks with the village lads and lasses within hearing, he will, if he be a decent fellow, avoid the treatment of certain themes.

To take the most striking example: — In ‘Jude the Obscure’ Mr. Hardy deals very largely with the emotions and reasons which animate a young woman when she decides not to sleep with her husband, when she decides that she will sleep with her husband, when she decides to sleep with a man who is not her husband, and when she decides not to sleep with the man who is not her husband. Now, all this does not matter to the mentally solid and well-balanced reader. It is not very interesting, for one thing, and apart from the fact that it is, from a workman’s point of view, astonishingly well done, it would not be interesting at all. Mr. Hardy offers it as the study of a temperament. Very well. It is an excellent study of a temperament, but it bores. The theme is not big enough to be worth the effort expended upon it. Here is an hysterical, wrong-headed, and confused-hearted little hussy who can’t make up her mind as to what is right and what is wrong, and who is a prey to the impulse of the moment, psychical or physical. I don’t think there are many people like her. I don’t think that from the broad human-natural point of view it matters a great deal how she decides. But I am sure of this — that the more that kind of small monstrosity is publicly analysed and anatomised and made much of, the more her morbidities will increase in her, and the more unbearable in real life she is likely to become. Mr. Hardy’s labour in this particular is a direct incentive to the study of hysteria as a fine art amongst such women as are natively prone to it. One of the gravest dangers which beset women is that of hysterical self-deception. The common-sense fashion of dealing with them when they suffer in that way is kindly and gently to ignore their symptoms until the reign of common-sense returns. To make them believe that their emotions are worthy of the scrutiny of a great analyst of the human heart is to increase their morbid temptations, and in the end to render those temptations irresistible. The one kind of person to whom ‘Jude the Obscure’ must necessarily appeal with the greatest power is the kind of person depicted in its pages, and the tendency of the book is unavoidably towards the development and multiplication of the type described. This is the only end the book can serve, apart from the fact that it does reveal to us Mr. Hardy’s special knowledge of a dangerous and disagreeable form of mental disorder, But it is not the physician’s business to sow disease, and any treatise on hysteria which is thrown into a captivating popular form, and makes hysteria look like an interesting and romantic thing, will spread the malady as surely as a spark will ignite gunpowder. This at least is not a mere matter of opinion, but of sound scientific fact, which no student of that disorder which Mr. Hardy has so masterfully handled will deny. In this respect, then, the book is a centre of infection, and that the author of ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’ should have written it is matter at once for astonishment and grief. That is to say, it is a matter of astonishment and grief to me, and to those who think as I do. There is a large and growing contingent of writers and readers to whom it is a theme for joyful congratulation. It is one of the rules of the game we are now playing to respect all honest conviction.

Of Mr. Hardy, from the purely artistic side, there is little time to speak. On that side let me first set down what is to be said in dispraise, for the mere sake of leaving a sweet taste in the mouth at the end. Even from his own point of view — that lauded ‘sense of the overwhelming sadness of modern life’ which captivates the admirers of his latest style — it is possible to spread the epic table of sorrow without finding a place upon it for scraps of the hoggish anatomy which are not nameable except in strictly scientific or wholly boorish speech. But it seems necessary to the new realism that its devotee should be able to write for the perusal of gentlemen and ladies about things he dared not mention orally in the presence of either; so that what a drunken cabman would be deservedly kicked for saying in a lady’s hearing may be honourably printed for a lady’s reading by a scholar and a sage. It was once thought otherwise, but I am arguing here, not against realism per se, but against the inartistic introduction of gross episodes. Every reader of Mr. Hardy will recognise my meaning, and the passage in my mind seems gratuitously and unserviceably offensive.

To come to less unpleasing themes, where, still expressing disapproval, one may do it with some grace, one of the few limitations to Mr. Hardy’s great charm as a writer lies in his tendency to encumber his page with detail. At a supremely romantic moment one of his people sits down to contemplate a tribe of ants, and watches them through two whole printed pages. In another case a man in imminent deadly peril surveys through two pages the history of the geologic changes which have befallen our planet. Each passage, taken by itself, is good enough. Taken where it is, each is terribly wearisome and wrong.

I do not know that any critic has yet recorded Mr. Hardy’s singular limitations as to the invention of plot. Speaking from memory, I cannot at this moment recall a novel of his in which some trouble does not circle about a marriage licence, and I can recall many instances of going to church to get married and coming back single. That, indeed, is Mr. Hardy’s pièce de résistance in the way of invention, and it crops up in one book after another with a helpless inevitable-ness which at last grows comic.

But here we can afford to have done with carping, and can turn to the much more grateful task of praise. I do not think it too much to say that Mr. Hardy has studied his own especial part of England, has made himself master of its landscape, its town and hamlet life, its tradition and sentiment, and general spiritual atmosphere, to such triumphant effect as to set himself wholly apart from all other English writers of fiction. His devotion to his own beloved Wessex has brought him this rich and merited reward — that he is the recognised first and final master of its field. His knowledge of rustic life within his own borders is beautifully sympathetic and profound. His impression of the landscape in the midst of which this life displays itself is broad and noble and alive. His literary style is a thing to admire, to study, and to admire again. All worthy readers of English fiction are his debtors for many idyllic happy hours, and many deep inspirations of wholesome English air. And if, at the parting of the ways, we wave a decisive farewell to him, we are not unmindful of the time when he was the best and dearest of our comrades, and we leave him in the certainty that, whatever path he has chosen, he has been guided in his choice by an ambition which is entirely honourable and sincere.

THOMAS HARDY by John Cowper Powys

This essay was taken from Powys’ critical book Visions and Revisions. Powys was a British novelist and lecturer, as well as a respected literary critic.

John Cowper Powys


With a name suggestive of the purest English origin, Mr. Hardy has become identified with that portion of England where the various race-deposits in our national “strata” are most dear and defined. In Wessex, the traditions of Saxon and Celt, Norman and Dane, Roman and Iberian, have grown side by side into the soil, and all the villages and towns, all the hills and streams, of this country have preserved the rumour of what they have seen.

In Celtic legend the country of the West Saxons is marvellously rich. Camelot and the Island of Avalon greet one another across the Somersetshire vale. And Dorsetshire, Hardy’s immediate home, adds the Roman traditions of Casterbridge to tragic memories of King Lear. Tribe by tribe, race by race, as they come and go, leaving their monuments and their names behind, Mr. Hardy broods over them, noting their survivals, their lingering footprints, their long decline.

In his well-loved Dorchester we find him pondering, like one of his own spirits of Pity and Irony, while the moonlight shines on the haunted amphitheatre where the Romans held their games. He devotes much care to noting all those little “omens by the way” that make a journey along the great highways of Wessex so full of imaginative suggestion.

It is the history of the human race itself that holds him with a mesmeric spell, as century after century it unrolls its acts and scenes, under the indifferent stars. The continuity of life! The long, piteous “ascent of man,” from those queer fossils in the Portland Quarries — to what we see today, so palpable, so real! And yet for all his tragic pity, Mr. Hardy is a sly and whimsical chronicler. He does not allow one point of the little jest the gods play on us — the little long-drawn-out jest — to lose its sting. With something of a goblin-like alertness he skips here and there, watching those strange scene shifters at their work. The dual stops of Mr. Hardy’s country pipe are cut from the same reed. With the one he challenges the Immortals on behalf of humanity; with the other he plays such a shrewd Priapian tune that all the Satyrs dance.

I sometimes think that only those born and bred in the country can do justice to this great writer. That dual pipe of his is bewildering to city people. They over emphasize the “magnanimity” of his art, or they over emphasize its “miching-mallecho.” They do not catch the secret of that mingled strain. The same type of cultured “foreigner” is puzzled by Mr. Hardy’s self-possession. He ought to commit himself more completely, or he ought not to have committed himself at all! There is something that looks to them — so they are tempted to express it — like the cloven hoof of a most Satyrish cunning, about his attitude to certain things. That little caustic by-play, for instance, with which he girds at the established order, never denouncing it wholesale like Shelley, or accepting it wholesale like Wordsworth — and always with a tang, a dash of gall and wormwood, an impish malice.

The truth is, there are two spirits in Mr. Hardy, one infinitely sorrowful and tender, the other whimsical, elfish and malign.

The first spirit rises up in stern Promethean revolt against the decrees of Fate. The second spirit deliberately allies itself in wanton, bitter glee, with the humorous provocation of humanity, by the cruel Powers of the Air. The psychology of all this is not hard to unravel. The same abnormal sensitiveness that makes him pity the victims of destiny makes him also not unaware of what may be sweet to the palate of the gods in such “merry jests.” These two tendencies seem to have grown upon him as years went on and to have become more and more pronounced. Often, with artists, the reverse thing happens. Every human being has his own secretive reaction, his own furtive recoil, from the queer trap we are all in, — his little private method of retaliation. But many writers are most unscrupulously themselves when they are young. The changes and chances of this mortal life mellow them into a more neutral tint. Their revenge upon life grows less personal and more objective as they get older. They become balanced and resigned. They attain “the wisdom of Sophocles.”

The opposite of this has been the history of Mr. Hardy’s progression. He began with quite harmless rustic realism, fanciful and quaint. Then came his masterpieces wherein the power and grandeur of a great artist’s inspiration fused everything into harmony. At the last, in his third period, we have the exaggeration of all that is most personal in his emotion intensified to the extreme limit.

It is absurd to turn away from these books, books like Jude the Obscure and the Well-Beloved. If Mr. Hardy had not had such sardonic emotions, such desire to “hit back” at the great “opposeless wills,” and such Goblin-like glee at the tricks they play us, he would never have been able to write “Tess.” Against the ways of God to this sweet girl he raises a hand of terrible revolt, but it is with more than human “pity” that he lays her down on the Altar of Sacrifice.

But, after all, it is in the supreme passages of pure imaginative grandeur that Mr. Hardy is greatest. Here he is “with Shakespeare” and we forget both Titan and Goblin. How hard it is exactly to put into words what this “imaginative grandeur” consists of! It is, at any rate, an intensification of our general consciousness of the Life-Drama as a whole, but this, under a poetic, rather than a scientific, light, and yet with the scientific facts, — they also not without their dramatic significance — indicated and allowed for. It is a clarifying of our mental vision and a heightening of our sensual apprehension. It is a certain withdrawing from the mere personal pull of our own fate into a more rarified air, where the tragic beauty of life falls into perspective, and, beholding the world in a clear mirror, we escape for a moment from “the will to live.”

At such times it is as though, “taken up upon a high mountain, we see, without desire and without despair, the kingdoms of the world and the glories of them.” Then it is that we feel the very wind of the earth’s revolution, and the circling hours touch us with a palpable hand.

And the turmoil of the world grown so distant, it is then that we feel at once the greatness of humanity and the littleness of what it strives for. We are seized with a shuddering tenderness for Man. This bewildered animal — wrestling in darkness with he knows not what.

And gazing long and long into this mirror, the poignancy of what we behold is strangely softened. After all, it is something, whatever becomes of us, to have been conscious of all this. It is something to have outwatched Arcturus, and felt “the sweet influences” of the Pleiades. Congruous with such a mood is the manner in which, while Mr. Hardy opposes himself to Christianity, he cannot forget it. He cannot “cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart.” It troubles and vexes him. It haunts him. And his work both gains and suffers. He flings gibe after gibe at “God,” but across his anger falls the shadow of the Cross. How should it not be so? “All may be permitted,” but one must not add a feather’s weight to the wheel that breaks our “little ones.”

It is this that separates Mr. Hardy’s work from so much modern fiction that is clever and “philosophical” but does not satisfy one’s imagination. All things with Mr. Hardy — even the facts of geology and chemistry — are treated with that imaginative clairvoyance that gives them their place in the human comedy. And is not Christianity itself one of these facts? How amazing that such a thing should have appeared at all upon the earth! When one reads Meredith, with his brilliant intellectual cleverness, one finds Christianity “taken for granted,” and dismissed as hardly relevant to modern topics.

But Mr. Hardy is too pagan, in the true sense, too fascinated by the poetry of life and the essential ritual of life, to dismiss any great religion in this way. The thing is always with him, just as the Gothic Tower of St. Peter’s Church in Casterbridge is always with him. He may burst into impish fury with its doctrines, but, like one of those queer demons who peep out from such consecrated places, yet never leave them, his imagination requires that atmosphere. For the same reason, in spite of his intellectual realisation of the mechanical processes of Fate, their engine-like dumbness and blindness, he is always being driven to personify these ultimate powers; to personify them, or it, as something that takes infernal satisfaction in fooling its luckless creations; in provoking them and scourging them to madness.

Mr. Hardy’s ultimate thought is that the universe is blind and unconscious; that it knows not what it does. But, standing among the graves of those Wessex churchyards, or watching the twisted threads of perverse destiny that plague those hapless hearts under a thousand village roofs, it is impossible for him not to long to “strike back” at this damned System of Things that alone is responsible. And how can one “strike back” unless one converts unconscious machinery into a wanton Providence? Where Mr. Hardy is so incomparably greater than Meredith and all his modern followers is that in these Wessex novels there is none of that intolerable “ethical discussion” which obscures “the old essential candours” of the human situation.

The reaction of men and women upon one another, in the presence of the solemn and the mocking elements; this will outlast all social readjustments and all ethical reforms.

While the sun shines and the moon draws the tides, men and women will ache from jealousy, and the lover will not be the beloved! Long after a quite new set of “interesting modern ideas” have replaced the present, children will break the hearts of their parents, and parents will break the hearts of their children. Mr. Hardy is indignant enough over the ridiculous conventions of Society, but he knows that, at the bottom, what we suffer from is “the dust out of which we are made;” the eternal illusion and disillusion which must drive us on and “take us off” until the planet’s last hour.

Mr. Hardy’s style, at its best, has an imaginative suggestiveness which approaches, though it may not quite reach, the indescribable touch of the Shakespearean tragedies. There is also a quality in it peculiar to himself — threatening and silencing; a thunderous suppression, a formidable reserve, an iron tenacity. Sometimes, again, one is reminded of the ancient Roman poets, and not unfrequently, too, of the rhythmic incantations of Sir Thomas Browne, that majestic and perverted Latinist.

The description, for instance, of Egdon Heath, at the beginning of the Return of the Native, has a dusky architectural grandeur that is like the Portico of an Egyptian Temple. The same thing may be noted of that sudden apparition of Stonehenge, as Tess and Angel stumble upon it in their flight through the darkness.

One thinks of the words of William Blake: “He who does not love Form more than Colour is a coward.” For it is, above all, Form that appeals to Mr. Hardy. The iron plough of his implacable style drives pitilessly through the soft flesh of the earth until it reaches the architectural sub-structure. Whoever tries to visualise any scene out of the Wessex Novels will be forced to see the figures of the persons concerned “silhouetted” against a formidable skyline. One sees them, these poor impassioned ones, moving in tragic procession along the edge of the world, and, when the procession is over, darkness re-establishes itself. The quality that makes Mr. Hardy’s manner such a refuge from the levities and gravities of the “reforming writers” is a quality that springs from the soil. The soil has a gift of “proportion” like nothing else. Things fall into due perspective on Egdon Heath, and among the water-meadows of Blackmoor life is felt as the tribes of men have felt it since the beginning.

The modern tendency is to mock at sexual passion and grow grave over social and artistic problems. Mr. Hardy eliminates social and artistic problems and “takes nothing seriously” — not even “God” — except the love and the hate of men and women, and the natural elements that are their accomplices. It is for this lack in them, this uneasy levity over the one thing that really counts, that it is so hard to read many humorous and arresting modern writers, except in railway trains and cafes. They have thought it clever to dispossess the passion of our poor heart of its essential poetry. They have not understood that man would sooner suffer the bitterness of death than be deprived of his right to suffer the bitterness of love.

It must be, I suppose, that these flippant triflers are so optimistic about their reforms and their ethical ideals and their sanitary projects that to them such things as how the sun rises over Shaston and sinks over Budmouth; such things as what Eustacia felt when she walked, “talking to herself,” across the blasted heath; such things as the mood of Henchard when he cursed the day of his birth, are mere accidents and irrelevancies, by no means germane to the matter.

Well, perhaps they are wise to be so hopeful. But for the rest of us, for whom the world does not seem likely to “improve” so fast, it is an unspeakable relief that there should be at least one writer left interested in the things that interested Sophocles and Shakespeare, and possessed of a style that does not, remembering the work of such hands, put our generation altogether to shame.


What are the qualities that make this shy and furtive Recluse, this Wanderer in the shadow, the greatest of critics? Imagination, in the first place, and then that rare, unusual, divine gift of limitless Reverence for the Human Senses. Imagination has a two-fold power. It visualises and it creates. With clairvoyant ubiquity it floats and flows into the most recondite recesses, the most reluctant sanctuaries, of other men’s souls. With clear-cut, architectural volition it builds up its own Byzantium, out of the quarried debris of all the centuries.

One loves to think of Pater leaving that Olney country, where he “hated” to hear anything more about “the Poet Cowper,” and nursing his weird boy-fancies in the security of the Canterbury cloisters. The most passionate and dedicated spirit he — to sulk, and dream, and hide, and love, and “watch the others playing,” in that quiet retreat — since the great soul of Christopher Marlowe flamed up there into consciousness!

And then Oxford. And it is meet and right, at such a point as this, to lay our offering, modest, secret, shy — a shadow, a nothing — at the feet of this gracious Alma Mater; “who needs not June for Beauty’s heightening!” One revolts against her sometimes. The charm is too exclusive, too withdrawn. And something — what shall I say? — of ironic, supercilious disillusion makes her forehead weary, and her eyelids heavy. But after all, to what exquisite children, like rare, exotic flowers, she has the power to give birth! But did you know, you for whom the syllables “Oxford” are an Incantation, that to the yet more subtle, yet more withdrawn, and yet more elabourate soul of Walter Pater, Oxford Herself appeared, as time went on, a little vulgar and silly?

Indeed, he fled from her, and took refuge-sometimes with his sisters, for, like Charles Lamb, Pater was “Conventual” in his taste — and sometimes with the “original” of Marius the Epicurean. But what matter where he fled — he who always followed the “shady side” of the road? He has not only managed to escape, himself, with all his “Boxes of Alabaster,” into the sanctuary of the Ivory Tower, that even Oxford cannot reach, but he has carried us thither with him.

And there, from the opal-clouded windows of that high place, he shows us still the secret kingdoms of art and philosophy and life, and the remotest glories of them. We see them all — from those windows — a little lovelier, a little rarer, a little more “selective,” than, perchance, they really are. But what matter? What does one expect when one looks through opal-clouded windows? And, after all, those are the kinds of windows from which it is best to look at the dazzling limbs of the immortal gods!

Not but what, sometimes, he permits us to throw those “magic casements” wide open. And then, in how lucid an air, in how clean and fresh a morning of reality, those pure forms and godlike figures stand out, their naked feet in the cold, clear dew!

For one must note two things about Walter Pater. He is able to throw the glimmering mantle of his own elabourate sophistry of the senses over comparatively fleeting, unarresting objects. And he is able to compel us to follow, line by line, curve by curve, contour by contour, the very palpable body and presence of the Beauty that passeth not away.

In plainer words, he is a great and exact scholar — labourious, patient, indefatigable, reserved; and, at the same time, a Protean Wizard, breathing forbidden life into the Tyrian-stained writhings of many an enchanted Lamia! At a thousand points he is the only modern literary figure who draws us towards him with the old Leonardian, Goethean spell. For, like Goethe and Da Vinci, he is never far from those eternal “Partings of the Ways.” which alone make life interesting.

He is, for instance, more profoundly drenched, dyed, and endued in “Christian Mythology” than any mortal writer, short of the Saints themselves. He is more native to the pure Hellenic air than any since Walter Savage Landor. And he is more subtle, in his understanding of “German Philosophy” as opposed to “Celtic Romance,” than all — outside the most inner circles — since Hegel — or Heine! The greedy, capricious “Uranian Babyishness” of his pupil Oscar, with its peevish clutching at all soft and provocative and glimmering things, is mere child’s play, compared with the deep, dark Vampirism with which this furtive Hermit drains the scarlet blood of the Vestals of every Sanctuary.

How little the conventional critics have understood this master of their own craft! What hopeless people have “rushed in” to interpret this super-subtle Interpreter! Mr. Gosse has, however, done one thing for us. Somewhere, somehow, he once drew a picture of Walter Pater “gambolling,” in the moonlight, on the velvet lawn of his own secluded Oxford garden, like a satin-pawed Wombat! I always think of that picture. It is a pleasanter one than that of Mark Pattison, running round his Gooseberry bushes, after great screaming girls. But they are both touching sketches, and, no doubt, very indicative of Life beneath the shadow of the Bodleian.

Why have the professional philosophers — ever since that Master of Baliol who used to spend his time boring holes in the Ship that carried him — ”fought shy” of Pater’s Philosophy? For a sufficient reason! Because, like Protagoras the Sophist, and like Aristippus the Cyrenean, he has undermined Metaphysic, by means of Metaphysic.

For Walter Pater — is that clearly understood? — was an adept, long before Nietzsche’s campaign began, at showing the human desire, the human craving, the human ferocity, the human spite, hidden behind the mask of “Pure Reason.”

He treats every great System of Metaphysic as a great work of Art — with a very human, often a too human, artizan behind it — a work of Art which we have a perfect right to appropriate, to enjoy, to look at the world through, and then to pass on!

Every Philosophy has its “secret,” according to Pater, its “formula,” its lost Atlantis. Well! It is for us to search it out; to take colour from its dim-lit under-world; to feed upon its wavering Sea-Lotus — and then, returning to the surface, to swim away, in search of other diving-grounds!

No Philosopher except Pater has dared to carry Esoteric Eclecticism quite as far as this. And, be it understood, he is no frivolous Dilettante. This draining the secret wine of the great embalmed Sarcophagi of Thought is his Life-Lure, his secret madness, his grand obsession. Walter Pater approaches a System of Metaphysical Thought as a somewhat furtive amorist might approach a sleeping Nymph. On light-stepping, crafty feet he approaches — and the hand with which he twitches the sleeve of the sleeper is as soft as the flutter of a moth’s wing. “I do not like,” he said once, “to be called a Hedonist. It gives such a queer impression to people who don’t know Greek.”

Ardent young people sometimes come to me, when in the wayfaring of my patient academic duties, I speak about Pater, and ask me point-blank to tell them what his “view-point” — so they are pleased to express it — ”really and truly” was. Sweet reader, do you know the pain of these “really and truly” questions? I try to answer in some blundering manner like this. I try to explain how, for him, nothing in this world was certain or fixed; how everything “flowed away”; how all that we touch or taste or see, vanished, changed its nature, became something else, even as we vanish, as the years go on, and change our nature and become something else. I try to explain how, for him, we are ourselves but the meeting-places of strange forces, journeying at large and by chance through a shifting world; how we, too, these very meeting-places of such forces, waver and flicker and shift and are transformed, like dreams within dreams!

I try to explain how, this being so, and nothing being “written in the sky” it is our right to test every single experience that life can offer, short of those which would make things bitterer, harder, narrower, less easy, for “the other person.”

And if my Innocents ask — as they do sometimes — Innocents are like that! — ”Why must we consider the other person?” I answer — for no reason, and under no threat or danger or categorical imperative; but simply because we have grown to be the sort of animal, the sort of queer fish, who cannot do the things “that he would”! It is not, I try to indicate, a case of conscience; it is a matter of taste; and there are certain things, when it comes to that point, which an animal possessed of such taste cannot do, even though he desire to do them. And one of these things is to hurt the other trapped creatures who happen to have been caught in the same “gin” as ourself.

With regard to Art and Literature, Pater has the same method as with regard to Philosophy. Everything in a world so fluid is obviously relative. It is ridiculous to dream that there is any absolute standard — even of beauty itself. Those high and immutable Principles of The Good and True are as much an illusion as any other human dream. There are no such principles. Beauty is a Daughter of Life, and is forever changing as Life changes, and as we change who have to live. The lonely, tragic faith of certain great souls in that high, cold “Mathematic” of the Universe, the rhythm of whose ordered Harmony is the Music of the Spheres, is a Faith that may well inspire and solemnize us; it cannot persuade or convince us.

Beauty is not Mathematical; it is — if one may say so — physiological and psychological, and though that austere severity of pure line and pure colour, the impersonal technique of art, has a seemingly pre-ordained power of appeal, in reality it is far less immutable than it appears, and has far more in it of the arbitrariness of life and growth and change than we sometimes would care to allow.

Walter Pater’s magnetic spell is never more wonder-working than when he deals with the materials which artists use. And most of all, with words, that material which is so stained and corrupted and outraged — and yet which is the richest of all. But how tenderly he always speaks of materials! What a limitless reverence he has for the subtle reciprocity and correspondence between the human senses and what — so thrillingly, so dangerously, sometimes! — they apprehend. Wood and clay and marble and bronze and gold and silver; these — and the fabrics of cunning looms and deft, insatiable fingers — he handles with the reverence of a priest touching consecrated elements.

Not only the great main rivers of art’s tradition, but the little streams and tributaries, he loves. Perhaps he loves some of these best of all, for the pathways to their exquisite margins are less trodden than the others, and one is more apt to find one’s self alone there.

Perhaps of all his essays, three might be selected as most characteristic of certain recurrent moods. That one on Denys L’Auxerrois, where the sweet, perilous legend of the exiled god — has he really been ever far from us, that treacherous Son of scorched white Flesh? — leads us so far, so strangely far. That one on Watteau, the Prince of Court Painters, where his passion for things faded and withdrawn reaches its climax. For Pater, like Antoine, is one of those always ready to turn a little wearily from the pressure of their own too vivid days, and seek a wistful escape in some fantastic valley of dreams. Watteau’s “happy valley” is, indeed, sadder than our most crowded hours — how should it not be, when it is no “valley” at all, but the melancholy cypress-alleys of Versailles? — but, though sadder, it is so fine; so fine and rare and gay!

And along the borders of it and under its clipped trees, by its fountains and ghostly lawns, still, still can one catch in the twilight the shimmer of the dancing feet of the Phantom-Pierrot, and the despair in his smile! For him, too — for Gilles the Mummer — as for Antoine Watteau and Walter Pater, the wistfulness of such places is not inconsistent with their levity. Soon the music must stop. Soon it must be only a garden, “only a garden of Lenotre, correct, ridiculous and charming.” For the lips of the Despair of Pierrot cannot always touch the lips of the Mockery of Columbine; in the end, the Ultimate Futility must turn them both to stone!

And, finally, that Essay upon Leonardo, with the lines “we say to our friend” about Her who is “older than the rocks on which she sits.”

What really makes Pater so great, so wise, so salutary a writer is his perpetual insistence on the criminal, mad foolishness of letting slip, in silly chatter and vapid preaching, the unreturning days of our youth! “Carry, O Youths and Maidens,” he seems to say. “Carry with infinite devotion that vase of many odours which is your Life on Earth. Spill as little as may be of its unvalued wine; let no rain-drops or bryony-dew, or floating gossamer-seed, fall into it and spoil its taste. For it is all you have, and it cannot last long!”

He is a great writer, because from him we may learn the difficult and subtle art of drinking the cup of life so as to taste every drop.

One could expatiate long upon his attitude to Christianity — his final desire to be “ordained Priest” — his alternating pieties and incredulities. His deliberate clinging to what “experience” brought him, as the final test of “truth,” made it quite easy for him to dip his arms deep into the Holy Well. He might not find the Graal; he might see nothing there but his own shadow! What matter? The Well itself was so cool and chaste and dark and cavern-like, that it was worth long summer days spent dreaming over it — dreaming over it in the cloistered garden, out of the dust and the folly and the grossness of the brutal World, that knows neither Apollo or Christ!


Arthur Symons (1865 –1945) was a British poet, critic and magazine editor. This short chapter is taken from his critical work Figures of Several Centuries.

Arthur Symons, a renowned poet and critic


He has a kind of naked face, in which you see the brain always working, with an almost painful simplicity — just saved from being painful by a humorous sense of external things, which becomes also a kind of intellectual criticism. He is a fatalist, and he studies the workings of fate in the chief vivifying and disturbing influence in life, women. His view of women is more French than English; it is subtle, a little cruel, not as tolerant as it seems, thoroughly a man’s point of view, and not, as with Meredith, man’s and woman’s at once. He sees all that is irresponsible for good and evil in a woman’s character, all that is unreliable in her brain and will, all that is alluring in her variability. He is her apologist, but always with a certain reserve of private judgment. No one has created more attractive women, women whom a man would have been more likely to love, or more likely to regret loving. Jude the Obscure is perhaps the most unbiased consideration of the more complicated questions of sex which we can find in English fiction. At the same time, there is almost no passion in his work, neither the author nor any of his characters ever seeming able to pass beyond the state of curiosity, the most intellectually interesting of limitations, under the influence of any emotion. In his feeling for nature, curiosity sometimes seems to broaden into a more intimate kind of communion. The heath, the village with its peasants, the change of every hour among the fields and on the roads, mean more to him, in a sense, than even the spectacle of man and woman in their blind, and painful, and absorbing struggle for existence. His knowledge of woman confirms him in a suspension of judgment; his knowledge of nature brings him nearer to the unchanging and consoling element in the world. All the quite happy entertainment which he gets out of life comes to him from his contemplation of the peasant, as himself a rooted part of the earth, translating the dumbness of the fields into humour. His peasants have been compared with Shakespeare’s; that is, because he has the Shakespearean sense of their placid vegetation by the side of hurrying animal life, to which they act the part of chorus, with an unconscious wisdom in their close, narrow, and undistracted view of things.

In his verse there is something brooding, obscure, tremulous, half-inarticulate, as he meditates over man, nature, and destiny: Nature, ‘waking by touch alone,’ and Fate, who sees and feels. In The Mother Mourns, a strange, dreary, ironical song of science, Nature laments that her best achievement, man, has become discontented with her in his ungrateful discontent with himself. It is like the whimpering of a hurt animal, and the queer, ingenious metre, with its one rhyme set at wide but distinct and heavily recurrent intervals, beats on the ear like a knell. Blind and dumb forces speak, conjecture, half awakening out of sleep, turning back heavily to sleep again. Many poets have been sorry for man, angry with Nature on man’s behalf. Here is a poet who is sorry for Nature, who feels the earth and its roots, as if he had sap in his veins instead of blood, and could get closer than any other man to the things of the earth.

Who else could have written this crabbed, subtle, strangely impressive poem?


A shaded lamp and a waving blind,

And the beat of a clock from a distant floor;

On this scene enter — winged, horned, and spined —

A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;

While ‘mid my page there idly stands

A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands.

Thus meet we five, in this still place,

At this point of time, at this point in space.

— My guests parade my new-penned ink,

Or bang at the lamp-glass, whirl, and sink.

‘God’s humblest, they!’ I muse. Yet why?

They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

No such drama has been written in verse since Browning, and the people of the drama are condensed to almost as pregnant an utterance as Adam, Lilith, and Eve.

Why is it that there are so few novels which can be read twice, while all good poetry can be read over and over? Is it something inherent in the form, one of the reasons in nature why a novel cannot be of the same supreme imaginative substance as a poem? I think it is, and that it will never be otherwise. But, among novels, why is it that one here and there calls us back to its shelf with almost the insistence of a lyric, while for the most part a story read is a story done with? Balzac is always good to re-read, but not Tolstoi: and I couple two of the giants. To take lesser artists, I would say that we can re-read Lavengro but not Romola. But what seems puzzling is that Hardy, who is above all a story-teller, and whose stories are of the kind that rouse suspense and satisfy it, can be read more than once, and never be quite without novelty. There is often, in his books, too much story, as in The Mayor of Casterbridge, where the plot extends into almost inextricable entanglements; and yet that is precisely one of the books that can be re-read. Is it on account of that concealed poetry, never absent though often unseen, which gives to these fantastic or real histories a meaning beyond the meaning of the facts, beneath it like an under-current, around it like an atmosphere? Facts, once known, are done with; stories of mere action gallop through the brain and are gone; but in Hardy there is a vision or interpretation, a sense of life as a growth out of the earth, and as much a mystery between soil and sky as the corn is, which will draw men back to the stories with an interest which outlasts their interest in the story.

It is a little difficult to get accustomed to Hardy, or to do him justice without doing him more than justice. He is always right, always a seer, when he is writing about ‘the seasons in their moods, morning and evening, night and noon, winds in their different tempers, trees, waters and mists, shades and silences, and the voices of inanimate things.’ (What gravity and intimacy in his numbering of them!) He is always right, always faultless in matter and style, when he is showing that ‘the impressionable peasant leads a larger, fuller, more dramatic life than the pachydermatous king.’ But he requires a certain amount of emotion to shake off the lethargy natural to his style, and when he has merely a dull fact to mention he says it like this: ‘He reclined on his couch in the sitting-room, and extinguished the light.’ In the next sentence, where he is interested in expressing the impalpable emotion of the situation, we get this faultless and uncommon use of words: ‘The night came in, and took up its place there, unconcerned and indifferent; the night which had already swallowed up his happiness, and was now digesting it listlessly; and was ready to swallow up the happiness of a thousand other people with as little disturbance or change of mien.’

No one has ever studied so scrupulously as Hardy the effect of emotion on inanimate things, or has ever seen emotion so visually in people. For instance: ‘Terror was upon her white face as she saw it; her cheek was flaccid, and her mouth had almost the aspect of a round little hole.’ But so intense is his preoccupation with these visual effects that he sometimes cannot resist noting a minute appearance, though in the very moment of assuring us that the person looking on did not see it. ‘She hardly observed that a tear descended slowly upon his cheek, a tear so large that it magnified the pores of the skin over which it rolled, like the object lens of a microscope.’ And it is this power of seeing to excess, and being limited to sight which is often strangely revealing, that leaves him at times helpless before the naked words that a situation supremely seen demands for its completion. The one failure in what is perhaps his masterpiece, The Return of the Native, is in the words put into the mouth of Eustacia and Yeobright in the perfectly imagined scene before the mirror, a scene which should be the culminating scene of the book; and it is, all but the words: the words are crackle and tinsel.

What is it, then, that makes up the main part of the value and fascination of Hardy, and how is it that what at first seem, and may well be, defects, uncouthnesses, bits of formal preaching, grotesque ironies of event and idea, come at last to seem either good in themselves or good where they are, a part of the man if not of the artist? One begins by reading for the story, and the story is of an attaching interest. Here is a story-teller of the good old kind, a story-teller whose plot is enough to hold his readers. With this point no doubt many readers stop and are content. But go on, and next after the story-teller one comes on the philosopher. He is dejected and a little sinister, and may check your pleasure in his narrative if you are too attentive to his criticism of it. But a new meaning comes into the facts as you observe his attitude towards them, and you may be well content to stop and be fed with thoughts by the philosopher. But if you go further still you will find, at the very last, the poet, and you need look for nothing beyond. I am inclined to question if any novelist has been more truly a poet without ceasing to be in the true sense a novelist. The poetry of Hardy’s novels is a poetry of roots, and it is a voice of the earth. He seems often to be closer to the earth (which is at times, as in The Return of the Native, the chief person, or the chorus, of the story) than to men and women, and to see men and women out of the eyes of wild creatures, and out of the weeds and stones of the heath. How often, and for how profound a reason, does he not show us to ourselves, not as we or our fellows see us, but out of the continual observation of humanity which goes on in the wary and inquiring eyes of birds, the meditative and indifferent regard of cattle, and the deprecating aloofness and inspection of sheep?


The Biographies

THE EARLY LIFE OF THOMAS HARDY, 1841–1891 by Florence Hardy

Shortly after Hardy’s death, the executors of his estate burnt his letters and notebooks. Twelve records survived, one of them containing notes and extracts of newspaper stories from the 1820s. In the year of his death, Hardy’s second wife, his former secretary Florence, published this biography, compiled largely from contemporary notes, letters, diaries, and biographical memoranda, as well as from oral information in conversations extending over many years. Many critics believe the biographies were mostly written by Hardy himself. It was later followed by a second biography covering Hardy’s later years and poetic output.

Florence Hardy, 1915












































Mr. Hardy’s feeling for a long time was that he would not care to have his life written at all. And though often asked to record his recollections he would say that he ‘had not sufficient admiration for himself’ to do so. But later, having observed many erroneous and grotesque statements advanced as his experiences, and a so-called ‘Life’ published as authoritative, his hand was forced, and he agreed to my strong request that the facts of his career should be set down for use in the event of its proving necessary to print them.

To this end he put on paper headings of chapters, etc., and, in especial, memories of his early days whenever they came into his mind, also communicating many particulars by word of mouth from time to time. In addition a great help has been given by the dated observations which he made in pocket-books, during the years of his novel-writing, apparently with the idea that if one followed the trade of fiction one must take notes, rather than from natural tendency, for when he ceased fiction and resumed the writing of verses he left off note-taking except to a very limited extent.

The opinions quoted from these pocket-books and fugitive papers are often to be understood as his passing thoughts only, temporarily jotted there for consideration, and not as permanent conclusions — a fact of which we are reminded by his frequent remarks on the tentative character of his theories.

As such memoranda were not written with any view to their being printed, at least as they stood, and hence are often abrupt, a few words of explanation have been given occasionally.

It may be added that in the book generally Mr. Hardy’s own reminiscent phrases have been used or approximated to whenever they could be remembered or were written down at the time of their expression viva voce. On this point great trouble has been taken to secure exactness.

Some incidents of his country experiences herein recorded may be considered as trivial, or as not strictly appertaining to a personal biography, but they have been included from a sense that they embody customs and manners of old West-of-England life that have now entirely passed away.

F. E. H.




1840-1855: Aet. 1-15

June 2, 1840. It was in a lonely and silent spot between woodland and heathland that Thomas Hardy was born, about eight o’clock on Tuesday morning the 2nd of June 1840, the place of his birth being the seven-roomed rambling house that stands easternmost of the few scattered dwellings called Higher Bockhampton, in the parish of Stinsford, Dorset. The domiciles were quaint, brass-knockered, and green-shuttered then, some with green garden-doors and white balls on the posts, and mainly occupied by lifeholders of substantial footing like the Hardys themselves. In the years of his infancy, or shortly preceding it, the personages tenanting these few houses included two retired military officers, one old navy lieutenant, a small farmer and tranter, a relieving officer and registrar, and an old militiaman, whose wife was the monthly nurse that assisted Thomas Hardy into the world. These being mostly elderly people, the place was at one time nicknamed ‘Veterans’ Valley’. It was also dubbed ‘Cherry Alley’, the lane or street leading through it being planted with an avenue of cherry-trees. But the lifeholds fell into hand, and the quaint residences with their trees, clipped hedges, orchards, white gatepost-balls, the naval officer’s masts and weather-cocks, have now perished every one, and have been replaced by labourers’ brick cottages and other new farm-buildings, a convenient pump occupying the site of the mossy well and bucket. The Hardy homestead, too, is weather-worn and reduced, having comprised, in addition to the house, two gardens (one of them part orchard), a horse-paddock, and sand-and-gravel pits, afterwards exhausted and overgrown: also stabling and like buildings since removed; while the leaves and mould washed down by rains from the plantation have risen high against the back wall of the house, that was formerly covered with ivy. The wide, brilliantly white chimney-corner, in his child-time such a feature of the sitting - room, is also gone.

Some Wordsworthian lines — the earliest discoverable of young Hardy’s attempts in verse — give with obvious and naive fidelity the appearance of the paternal homestead at a date nearly half a century before the birth of their writer, when his grandparents settled there, after his great-grandfather had built for their residence the first house in the valley.1

The family, on Hardy’s paternal side, like all the Hardys of the south-west, derived from the Jersey le Hardys who had sailed across

1 The poem, written between 1857 and 1860, runs as follows:


It faces west, and round the back and sides

High beeches, bending, hang a veil of boughs,

And sweep against the roof. Wild honeysucks

Climb on the walls, and seem to sprout a wish

(If we may fancy wish of trees and plants)

To overtop the apple-trees hard by.

Red roses, lilacs, variegated box

Are there in plenty, and such hardy flowers

As flourish best untrained. Adjoining these

Are herbs and esculents; and farther still

A field; then cottages with trees, and last

The distant hills and sky.

Behind, the scene is wilder. Heath and furze

Are everything that seems to grow and thrive

Upon the uneven ground. A stunted thorn

Stands here and there, indeed; and from a pit

An oak uprises, springing from a seed

Dropped by some bird a hundred years ago.

In days bygone —

Long gone — my father’s mother, who is now

Blest with the blest, would take me out to walk.

At such a time I once inquired of her

How looked the spot when first she settled here.

The answer I remember. ‘ Fifty years

Have passed since then, my child, and change has marked

The face of all things. Yonder garden-plots

And orchards were uncultivated slopes

O’ergrown with bramble bushes, furze and thorn:

That road a narrow path shut in by ferns,

Which, almost trees, obscured the passer-by.

‘Our house stood quite alone, and those tall firs

And beeches were not planted. Snakes and efts

Swarmed in the summer days, and nightly bats

Would fly about our bedrooms. Heathcroppers

Lived on the hills, and were our only friends;

So wild it was when first we settled here.’

to Dorset for centuries — the coasts being just opposite. Hardy often thought he would like to restore the ‘le’ to his name, and call himself’ Thomas le Hardy’; but he never did so. The Dorset Hardys were traditionally said to descend in particular from a Clement le Hardy, Baily of Jersey, whose son John settled hereabouts in the fifteenth century, having probably landed at Wareham, then a port. They all had the characteristics of an old family of spent social energies, that were revealed even in the Thomas Hardy of this memoir (as in his father and grandfather), who never cared to take advantage of the many worldly opportunities that his popularity and esteem as an author afforded him. They had dwelt for many generations in or near the valley of the River Froom or Frome, which extends inland from Wareham, occupying various properties whose sites lay scattered about from Woolcombe, Toller-Welme, and Up-Sydling (near the higher course of the river), down the stream to Dorchester, Weymouth, and onward to Wareham, where the Froom flows into Poole Harbour. It was a family whose diverse Dorset sections included the Elizabethan Thomas Hardy who endowed the Dorchester Grammar School, the Thomas Hardy captain of the Victory at Trafalgar, Thomas Hardy an influential burgess of Wareham, Thomas Hardy of Chaldon, and others of local note, the tablet commemorating the first-mentioned being still in St. Peter’s Church, Dorchester, though shifted from its original position in the ‘Hardy Chapel’, the inscription running as follows:



But at the birth of the subject of this biography the family had declined, so far as its Dorset representatives were concerned, from whatever importance it once might have been able to claim there; and at his father’s death the latter was, it is believed, the only landowner of the name in the county, his property being, besides the acre-and-half lifehold at Bockhampton, a small freehold farm at Tal - bothays, with some houses there, and about a dozen freehold cottages and a brick-yard-and-kiln elsewhere. The Talbothays farm was a small outlying property standing detached in a ring fence, its possessors in the reign of Henry VTII having been Talbots, from a seventeenth - century daughter of whom Hardy borrowed the name of Avis or Avice in The Well-Beloved.

On the maternal side he was Anglo-Saxon, being descended from the Chiles, Childs, or Childses (who gave their name to the villages of Child-Okeford, Chilfrome, Childhay, etc.), the Swetmans, and other families of northwest Dorset that were small proprietors of lands there in the reign of Charles the First (see Hutchins’ History of Dorset): and also from the Hanns or Hands of the Pidele Valley, Dorset, and earlier of the Vale of Blackmore. (In the parish register of Affpuddle the spelling is Hann.) The Swetmans and the Childses seem to have been involved in the Monmouth rising, and one of the former to have been brought before Jeffreys, ‘for being absent from home att the tyme of the Rebellion’. As his name does not appear in the lists of those executed he was probably transported, and this connection with Monmouth’s adventures and misfortunes seems to have helped to becloud the family prospects of the maternal line of Hardy’s ancestry, if they had ever been bright.

Several traditions survived in the Swetman family concerning the Rebellion. An indubitably true one was that after the Battle of Sedge - moor two of the Swetman daughters — Grace and Leonarde — were beset in their house by some of the victorious soldiery, and only escaped violation by slipping from the upper rooms down the back stairs into the orchard. It is said that Hardy’s great-grandmother could remember them as very old women. Part of the house, now in the possession of the Earl of Ilchester, and divided into two cottages, is still standing with its old Elizabethan windows; but the hall and open oak staircase have disappeared, and also the Ham-Hill stone chimneys. The spot is called ‘Townsend’.

Another tradition, of more doubtful authenticity, is that to which the short story by Hardy called The Duke’s Reappearance approximates. Certainly a mysterious man did come to Swetman after the battle, but it was generally understood that he was one of Monmouth’s defeated officers.

Thomas Hardy’s maternal grandmother Elizabeth,1 or Betty, was 1 [She married George Hand (or Hadd). Her daughter Jemima used the former spelling.]

the daughter of one of those Swetmans by his wife Maria Childs, sister of the Christopher Childs who married into the Cave family, became a mining engineer in Cornwall, and founded the West Briton newspaper, his portrait being painted when he was about eighty by Sir Charles Eastlake. The traditions about Betty, Maria’s daughter, were that she was tall, handsome, had thirty gowns, was an omnivorous reader, and one who owned a stock of books of exceptional extent for a yeoman’s daughter living in a remote place.1

1 A curious reminiscence by her daughter bears testimony to her rather striking features. She was crossing the fields with the latter as a child, a few years after Waterloo, when a gentleman shouted after her: ‘ A relation of Wellington’s? You must be! That nose!’ He excitedly followed them till they were frightened, jumping over stiles till they reached home. He was found to be an officer who had fought under Wellington, and had been wounded in the head, so that he was at times deranged.

She knew the writings of Addison, Steele, and others of the Spectator group almost by heart, was familiar with Richardson and Fielding, and, of course, with such standard works as Paradise Lost and The Pilgrims Progress. From the old medical books in her possession she doctored half the village, her sheet-anchor being Culpepper’s Herbal and Dispensary; and if ever there was any doubt as to the position of particular graves in the churchyard, the parson, sexton, and relatives applied to her as an unerring authority.

But alas for her fortunes! Her bright intelligence in a literary direction did not serve her in domestic life. After her mother’s death she clandestinely married a young man of whom her father strongly disapproved. The sturdy yeoman, apparently a severe and unyielding parent, never forgave her, and never would see her again. His unbending temper is illustrated by the only anecdote known of him. A fortune-telling gipsy had encamped on the edge of one of his fields, and on a Sunday morning he went to order her away. Finding her obdurate he said: ‘If you don’t take yourself off I’ll have you burnt as a witch!’ She pulled his handkerchief from his pocket, and threw it into her fire, saying, ‘If that burn I burn’. The flames curled up round the handkerchief, which was his best, of India silk, but it did not burn, and she handed it back to him intact. The tale goes that he was so impressed by her magic that he left her alone.

Not so long after the death of this stern father of Elizabeth’s — Hardy’s maternal great-grandfather — her husband also died, leaving her with several children, the youngest only a few months old. Her father, though in comfortable circumstances, had bequeathed her nothing, and she was at her wit’s end to maintain herself and her family, if ever widow was. Among Elizabeth’s children there was one, a girl, of unusual ability and judgment, and an energy that might have carried her to incalculable issues. This was the child Jemima, the mother of Thomas Hardy. By reason of her parent’s bereavement and consequent poverty under the burden of a young family, Jemima saw during girlhood and young womanhood some very stressful experiences of which she could never speak in her maturer years without pain, though she appears to have mollified her troubles by reading every book she could lay hands on. Moreover she turned her manual activities to whatever came in her way; grew to be exceptionally skilled in, among other things, ‘tambouring’ gloves; also was good at mantua-making, and excellent in the oddly dissimilar occupation of cookery. She resolved to be a cook in a London clubhouse; but her plans in this direction were ended by her meeting her future husband, and being married to him at the age of five-and - twenty.

He carried on an old-established building and master-masoning business (the designation of ‘builder’, denoting a manager of and contractor for all trades, was then unknown in the country districts). It was occasionally extensive, demanding from twelve to fifteen men, but frequently smaller; and the partner with whom she had thrown in her lot, though in substantial circumstances and unexceptionable in every other way, did not possess the art ofenri ching himself by business. Moreover he was devoted to church music, and secondarily to mundane, of the country-dance, hornpipe, and early waltz description, as had been his father, and was his brother also. It may be mentioned that an ancestral Thomas Hardy, living in Dorchester in 1724, was a subscriber to ‘Thirty Select Anthems in Score’, by Dr. W. Croft, organist of the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey, which seems to show that the family were interested in church music at an early date.

Jemima’s husband’s father, our subject’s grandfather (the first Thomas of three in succession), when a young man living at Puddle - town before the year 1800, had expressed his strong musical bias by playing the violoncello in the church of that parish. He h?d somewhat improvidently married at one-and-twenty, whereupon his father John had set him up in business by purchasing a piece of land at Bock - hampton in the adjoining parish of Stinsford, and building a house for him there. On removing with his wife in 1801 to this home provided by his father John, Thomas Hardy the First (of these Stinsford Hardys) found the church music there in a deplorable condition, it being conducted from the gallery by a solitary old man with an oboe. He immediately set himself, with the easy-going vicar’s hearty concurrence, to improve it, and got together some instrumentalists, himself taking the bass-viol as before, which he played in the gallery of Stinsford Church at two services every Sunday from 1801 or 1802 till his death in 1837, being joined later by his two sons, who, with other reinforcement, continued playing till about 1842, the period of performance by the three Hardys thus covering inclusively a little under forty years.

It was, and is, an interesting old church of various styles from Transition-Norman to late Perpendicular. In its vaults lie many members of the Grey and Pitt families, the latter collaterally related to the famous Prime Minister; there also lies the actor and dramatist William O’Brien with his wife Lady Susan, daughter of the first Earl of Ilchester, whose secret marriage in 1764 with the handsome Irish comedian whom Garrick had discovered and brought to Drury Lane caused such scandal in aristocratic circles. ‘Even a footman were preferable’ wrote Walpole. ‘I could not have believed that Lady Susan would have stooped so low.’

Though in these modern days the ‘stooping’ might have been viewed inversely — for O’Brien, besides being jeune premier at Drury, was an accomplished and well-read man, whose presentations of the gay Lothario in Rowe’s Fair Penitent, Brisk in The Double Dealer, Sir Harry Wildair in The Constant Couple, Archer in The Beaux’ Stratagem, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, the Prince in Henry the Fourth, and many other leading parts, .made him highly popular, and whose own plays were of considerable merit. His marriage annihilated a promising career, for his wife’s father would not hear of his remaining on the stage. The coincidence that both young Hardy’s grandmothers had seen and admired O’Brien, that he was one of the Stinsford congregation for many years, that young Thomas’s great-grandfather and grandfather had known him well, and that the latter as the local builder had constructed the vault for him and his wife (according to the builder’s old Day-books still in existence his workmen drank nineteen quarts of beer over the job); had been asked by her to ‘ make it just large enough for our two selves only’, had placed them in it, and erected their monument, lent the occupants of the little vault in the chancel a romantic interest in the boy’s mind at an early age.

In this church (see the annexed plan, which is reproduced from a drawing made by Hardy many years ago under the supervision of his father) the Hardys became well known as violinists, Thomas the Second, the poet and novelist’s father aforesaid, after his early boyhood as chorister beginning as a youth with the ‘counter’ viol, and later taking on the tenor and treble.

They were considered among the best church-players in the neighbourhood, accident having helped their natural bent. This was the fact that in 1822, shortly after the death of the old vicar Mr. Floyer, the Rev. Edward Murray, a connection of the Earl of Ilchester, who was the patron of the living, was presented to it. Mr. Murray was an ardent musician and performer on the violin himself, and the two younger Hardys and sometimes their father used to practise two or three times a week with him in his study at Stinsford House, where he lived instead of at the Vicarage.

Thus it was that the Hardy instrumentalists, though never more than four, maintained an easy superiority over the larger bodies in parishes near. For while Puddletown west-gallery, for instance, could boast of eight players, and Maiden Newton of nine, these included wood-wind and leather — that is to say, clarionets and serpents — which were apt to be a little too sonorous, even strident, when zealously blown. But the few and well-practised violists of Stinsford were never unduly emphatic, according to tradition.

Elabourate Canticle services, such as the noted ‘Jackson in F’, and in ‘E flat’ — popular in the West of England, possibly because Jackson had been an Exeter man — Pope’s Ode, and anthems with portentous repetitions and ‘mountainous fugues’, were carried through by the performers every Sunday, with what real success is not known, but to their own great satisfaction and the hearty approval of the musical vicar.

In their psalmody they adhered strictly to Tate-and-Brady — upon whom, in truth, the modern hymn-book has been no great improvement — such tunes as the ‘Old Hundredth’, ‘New Sabbath’, ‘Devizes’, ‘Wilton’, ‘Lydia’, and ‘Cambridge New’ being their staple ones; while ‘Barthelemon’ and ‘Tallis’ were played to Ken’s Morning and Evening Hymns respectively every Sunday throughout the year: a practice now obsolete, but a great stimulus to congregational singing.

As if the superintendence of the Stinsford choir were not enough distraction from business for Thomas Hardy the First, he would go whenever opportunity served and assist other choirs by performing with his violoncello in the galleries of their parish churches, mostly to the high contentment of the congregations. Although Thomas the Third had not come into the world soon enough to know his grandfather in person, there is no doubt that the description by Fairway in The Return of the Native of the bowing of Thomasin’s father, when lending his services to the choir of Kingsbere, is a humorous exaggeration of the traditions concerning Thomas Hardy the First’s musical triumphs as locum-tenens.

In addition it may be mentioned that he had been a volunteer till the end of the war, and lay in Weymouth with his company from time to time, waiting for Bonaparte who never came.

Conducting the church choir all the year round involved carol - playing and singing at Christmas, which Thomas Hardy the Second loved as much as did his father. In addition to the ordinary practice, the work of preparing and copying carols a month of evenings beforehand was not light, and incidental expenses were appreciable. The parish being a large and scattered one, it was the custom of Thomas Hardy the First to assemble the rather perfunctory rank-and-file of the choir at his house; and this necessitated suppers, and suppers demanded (in those days) plenty of liquor. This was especially the case on Christmas Eve itself, when the rule was to go to the northern part of the parish and play at every house before supper; then to return to Bockhampton and sit over the meal till twelve o’clock, during which interval a good deal was consumed at the Hardys’ expense, the choir being mainly poor men and hungry. They then started for the other parts of the parish, and did not get home till all was finished at about six in the morning, the performers themselves feeling ‘no more than malkins’1 in church next day, as they used to declare. The practice was kept up by Thomas Hardy the Second, much as described in Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire, though its author, Thomas Hardy the Third, invented the personages, incidents, manners, etc., never having seen or heard the choir as such, they ending their office when he was about a year old. He was accustomed to say that on this account he had rather burlesqued them, the story not so adequately reflecting as he could have wished in later years the poetry and romance that coloured their time-honoured observances.

This preoccupation of the Hardys with the music of the parish church and less solemn assemblies did not, to say the least, assist their building business, and it was somewhat of a relief to Thomas Hardy the Second’s young wife — though musical herself to a degree — when ecclesiastical changes after the death of Thomas Hardy the First, including the cession of the living by Murray, led to her husband’s 1 Mal/cin, a damp rag for swabbing out an oven.

abandoning in 1841 or 1842 all connection with the choir. The First Thomas’s death having been quite unexpected, inasmuch as he was playing in the church one Sunday, and brought in for burial on the next, there could be no such quiring over his grave as he had performed over the graves of so many, owing to the remaining players being chief mourners. And thus ended his devoted musical services to Stinsford Church, in which he had occupied the middle seat of the gallery with his bass-viol on Sundays for a period of thirty-five years — to no worldly profit; far the reverse, indeed.

After his death the building and masoning business also saw changes, being carried on by his widow, her sons assisting — an unsatisfactory arrangement which ultimately led to the division of the goodwill between the brothers.

The second Thomas Hardy, the author’s father, was a man who in his prime could be, and was, called handsome. To the courtesy of his manners there was much testimony among the local county-ladies with whom he came in contact as a builder. All the Dorset Hardys have more or less a family likeness (of which the Admiral may be considered the middle type), and the present one was a good specimen. He was about five feet nine in height, of good figure, with dark Vandyke-brown hair, and a beard which he wore cut back all round in the custom of his date; with teeth that were white and regular to nearly the last years of his life, and blue eyes that never faded grey; a quick step, and a habit of bearing his head a little to one side as he walked. He carried no stick or umbrella till past middle life, and was altogether an open-air liver, and a great walker always. He was good, too, when young, at hornpipes and jigs, and other folk-dances, performing them with all the old movements of leg-crossing and hop, to the delight of the children, till warned by his wife that this fast perishing style might tend to teach them what it was not quite necessary they should be familiar with, the more genteel ‘country-dance’ having superseded the former.

Mrs. Hardy once described him to her son as he was when she first set eyes on him in the now removed west gallery of Stinsford Church, appearing to her more travelled glance (she had lived for a time in London, Weymouth, and other towns) and somewhat satirical vision, ‘ rather amusingly old-fashioned, in spite of being decidedly good-looking — wearing the blue swallow-tailed coat with gilt embossed buttons then customary, a red and black flowered waistcoat, Wellington boots, and French-blue trousers’. The sonnet which follows expresses her first view of him.

A CHURCH ROMANCE (Mellstock, circa 1836)

She turned in the high pew, until her sight

Swept the west gallery, and caught its row

Of music-men with viol, book, and bow

Against the sinking, sad tower-window light.

She turned again; and in her pride’s despite

One strenuous viol’s inspirer seemed to throw

A message from his string to her below,

Which said: ‘ I claim thee as my own forthright!’

Thus their hearts’ bond began, in due time signed,

And long years thence, when Age had scared Romance,

At some old attitude of his or glance

That gallery-scene would break upon her mind,

With him as minstrel, ardent, young, and trim,

Bowing ‘New Sabbath’ or ‘Mount Ephraim’.

Mrs. Hardy herself was rather below the middle height with chestnut hair and grey eyes, and a trim and upright figure. Her movement also in walking being buoyant through life, strangers approaching her from behind imagined themselves, even when she was nearly seventy, about to overtake quite a young woman. The Roman nose and countenance inherited from her mother would better have suited a taller build. Like her mother, too, she read omnivorously. She sang songs of the date, such as the then popular Haynes Bayly’s ‘Isle of Beauty’, and ‘Gaily the Troubadolir’; also ‘Why are you wandering here, I pray?’ and ‘Jeannette and Jeannot’. The children had a quaint old piano for their practice, over which she would sigh because she could not play it herself.

Thomas Hardy the Third, their eldest child of a family of four (and the only one of the four who married, so that he had no blood - nephew or niece), showed not the physique of his father. Had it not been for the common sense of the estimable woman who attended as monthly nurse, he might never have walked the earth. At his birth he was thrown aside as dead till rescued by her as she exclaimed to the surgeon,’ Dead! Stop a minute: he’s alive enough, sure!’

Of his infancy nothing has been handed down save the curious fact that on his mother’s returning from out-of-doors one hot afternoon, to him asleep in his cradle, she found a large snake curled up upon his breast, comfortably asleep like himself. It had crept into the house from the heath hard by, where there were many.

Though healthy he was fragile, and precocious to a degree, being able to read almost before he could walk, and to tune a violin when of quite tender years. He was of ecstatic temperament, extraordinarily sensitive to music, and among the endless jigs, hornpipes, reels, waltzes, and country-dances that his father played of an evening in his early married years, and to which the boy danced a pas seul in the middle of the room, there were three or four that always moved the child to tears, though he strenuously tried to hide them. Among the airs (though he did not know their names at that time) were, by the way, ‘Enrico’ (popular in the Regency), ‘The Fairy Dance’, ‘Miss Macleod of Ayr’ (an old Scotch tune to which Burns may have danced), and a melody named ‘My Fancy-Lad’ or ‘Johnny’s gone to sea’. This peculiarity in himself troubled the mind of ‘Tommy’ as he was called, and set him wondering at a phenomenon to which he ventured not to confess. He used to say in later life that, like Calantha in Ford’s Broken Heart, he danced on at these times to conceal his weeping. He was not over four years of age at this date.

One or two more characteristics of his personality at this childhood-time can be recounted. In those days the staircase at Bockhampton (later removed) had its walls coloured Venetian red by his father, and was so situated that the evening sun shone into it, adding to its colour a great intensity for a quarter of an hour or more. Tommy used to wait for this chromatic effect, and, sitting alone there, would recite to himself ‘And now another day is gone’ from Dr. Watts’s Hymns, with great fervency, though perhaps not for any religious reason, but from a sense that the scene suited the lines.

It is not therefore to be wondered at that a boy of this sort should have a dramatic sense of the church services, and on wet Sunday mornings should wrap himself in a tablecloth, and read the horning Prayer standing in a chair, his cousin playing the clerk with loud Amens, and his grandmother representing the congregation. The sermon which followed was simply a patchwork of the sentences used by the vicar. Everybody said that Tommy would have to be a parson, being obviously no good for any practical pursuit; which remark caused his mother many misgivings.

One event of this date or a little later stood out, he used to say, more distinctly than any. He was lying on his back in the sun, thinking how useless he was, and covered his face with his straw hat. The sun’s rays streamed through the interstices of the straw, the lining having disappeared. Reflecting on his experiences of the world so far as he had got, he came to the conclusion that he did not wish to grow up. Other boys were always talking of when they would be men; he did not want at all to be a man, or to possess things, but to remain as he was, in the same spot, and to know no more people than he already knew (about half a dozen). Yet this early evidence of that lack of social ambition which followed him through life was shown when he was in perfect health and happy circumstances.

Afterwards he told his mother of his conclusions on existence, thinking she would enter into his views. But to his great surprise she was very much hurt, which was natural enough considering she had been near death’s door in bringing him forth. And she never forgot what he had said, a source of much regret to him in after years.

When but little older he was puzzled by what seemed to him a resemblance between two marches of totally opposite sentiments — ‘See the conquering hero comes’ and ‘The Dead March in Saul’. Some dozen years were to pass before he discovered that they were by the same composer.

It may be added here that this sensitiveness to melody, though he was no skilled musician, remained with him through life.

1848. First School Until his fifth or sixth year his parents hardly supposed he would survive to grow up, but at eight he was thought strong enough to go to the village school, to learn the rudiments before being sent further afield; and by a curious coincidence he was the first pupil to enter the new school-building, arriving on the day of opening, and awaiting tremulously and alone, in the empty room, the formal entry of the other scholars two-and-two with the schoolmaster and mistress from the temporary premises near. The school is still standing much in its original condition.

Here he worked at Walkingame’s Arithmetic and at geography, in both of which he excelled, though his handwriting was indifferent. About this time his mother gave him Dryden’s Virgil, Johnson’s Rasselas, and Paul and Virginia. He also found in a closet A History of the Wars — a periodical dealing with the war with Napoleon, which his grandfather had subscribed to at the time, having been himself a volunteer. The torn pages of these contemporary numbers with their melodramatic prints of serried ranks, crossed bayonets,

huge knapsacks, and dead bodies, were the first to set him on the train of ideas that led to The Trumpet-Major and The Dynasts.

A Journey The boy Thomas’s first experience of travel was when, at eight or nine years old, his mother took him with her — ‘for protection’, as she used to say — being then an attractive and still young woman — on a visit to her sister in Hertfordshire. As the visit lasted three weeks or a month he was sent while there to a private school, which appears to have been somewhat on the Squeers model. Since, however, he was only a day-scholar this did not affect him much, though he was mercilessly tyrannized over by the bigger boys whom he could beat hollow in arithmetic and geography.

Their return from this visit was marked by an experience which became of interest in the light of after events. The Great Northern Railway to London was then only in process of construction, and it was necessary to go thither by coach from Hertfordshire in order to take the train at Waterloo Station for Dorchester. Mrs. Hardy had not been to London since she had lived there for some months twelve years earlier. The coaching-inn was The Cross-Keys, St. John Street, Clerkenwell, and here mother and boy put up for the night. It was the inn at which Shelley and Mary Godwin had been accustomed to meet at week-ends not two-score years before, and was at this time unaltered from its state during the lovers’ romantic experiences there — the oval stone staircase, the skylight, and the hotel entrance being untouched. As Mrs. Hardy and her little boy took a room rather high up the staircase for economy, and the poet had probably done so for the same reason, there is a possibility that it may have been the same as that occupied by our most marvellous lyrist.

They stayed but a short time in London, but long enough for him to see and remember some of the streets, the Pantheon, then a fashionable pantechnicon, Cumberland Gate into Hyde Park, which then could boast of no Marble Arch, and the pandemonium of Smithfield, with its mud, curses, and cries of ill-treated animals. Also, that when passing through the city on the way up, they stopped at the point now called Swiss Cottage, and looked back at the outside of London creeping towards them across green fields.


By another year he was judged to be strong enough to walk further than to the village school, and after some postponements he was sent to a Dorchester day-school, whose headmaster his mother had learnt to be an exceptionally able man, and a good teacher of Latin, which was quite enough to lead her to waive the fact that the school was Nonconformist, though she had no nonconforming tendencies whatever.

It is somewhat curious, and shows the honour with which the school was conducted, that the boy did not know till he had been there several months that it was a Nonconformist school, a large number, probably a majority, of the boys coming like himself from Church-of-England homes, having been attracted thither by the reputation of the said master; though Thomas used to wonder why the familiar but rather boring Church Catechism had vanished — or rather all of it except the Ten Commandments, in which the pupils were made proficient once a week. However, though nominally unorthodox during the week Thomas was kept strictly at church on Sundays as usual, till he knew the Morning and Evening Services by heart including the rubrics, as well as large portions of the New Version of the Psalms. The aspect of that time to him is clearly indicated in the verses ‘Afternoon Service at Mellstock’, included in Moments of Vision.

The removal of the boy from Bockhampton school seriously wounded the lady of the manor who had erected it, though she must have guessed that he had only been sent there till sturdy enough to go further. To his mother this came as an unpleasant misunderstanding. While not wishing to be uncivil she had, naturally, not consulted the other at all in taking him away, considering his interests solely, the Hardys being comparatively independent of the manor, as their house and the adjoining land were a family lifehold, and the estate - work forming only part of Mr. Hardy’s business. That the school to which he was removed was not a Church-of-England one was another rock of offence to this too sensitive lady, though, as has been stated, it was an accident as unwished by the boy’s mother as by the squire’s wife. The latter had just built a model school at her own expense and, though it was but small, had provided it with a well-trained master and mistress; had made it her hobby, till it was far superior to an ordinary village school. Moreover under her dignity lay a tender heart, and having no children of her own she had grown passionately fond of Tommy almost from his infancy — he is said to have been an attractive little fellow at this time — whom she had been accustomed to take into her lap and kiss until he was quite a big child. He quite reciprocated her fondness.

Shortly before or after the boy’s removal the estate-building work was taken out of the hands of Tommy’s father, who went further afield to replace it, soon obtaining a mansion to enlarge, and other contracts, and thus not suffering much from his loss of business in the immediate vicinity of his home. He would have left the parish altogether, the house his grandfather John had built for his father Thomas the First, as stated, being awkwardly small and ill-arranged, and the spot inconvenient for a builder. But as the rambling dwelling, field, and sandpits attached were his for life, he remained.

Thomas Hardy the youngest, however, secretly mourned the loss of his friend the landowner’s wife, to whom he had grown more attached than he cared to own. In fact, though he was only nine or ten and she must have been nearly forty, his’feeling for her was almost that of a lover. He had been wont to make drawings of animals in water-colours for her, and to sing to her, one of his songs being ‘ I’ve journeyed over many lands, I’ve sailed on every sea’, which was comical enough considering the extent of his travels. He so much longed to see her that he jumped at the offer of a young woman of the village to take him to a harvest-supper at which he knew she would be present, one of the farms on the estate being carried on by the landowner himself as a hobby, with the aid of a bailiff — much to his pecuniary loss as it turned out. The young woman* a small farmer’s daughter, called for young Thomas on the afternoon of the festivity. Together they went off, his mother being away from home, though they left word where he had gone. The ‘Supper’, an early meal at that date, probably about four o’clock, was over by the time they reached the barn, and tea was going on, after which there was singing and dancing, some non-commissioned officers having been invited from the barracks by the Squire as partners for the girls. The Squire showed himself by no means strait-laced in this respect. What his wife thought is not recorded. It may be remarked in passing that here probably began Thomas’s extensive acquaintance with soldiers of the old uniforms and long service, which was to serve him in good stead when he came to write The Trumpet-Major and The Dynasts.

Presently the manor-lady, her husband, and a house-party arrived to lead off some dances. As soon ks she saw litde Thomas — who had no business whatever there — she came up to him and said reproachfully:

‘O Tommy, how is this? I thought you had deserted me!’

Tommy assured her through his tears that he had not deserted her, and never would desert her: and then the dance went on. He being wildly fond of dancing, she gave him for a partner a little niece of hers about his own age staying at her house, who had come with her. The manor-house party remained for a few figures and then left, but Tommy perforce stayed on, being afraid to go home without the strapping young woman his companion, who was dancing with the soldiers. There he wearily waited for her till three in the morning, having eaten and drunk nothing since one o’clock on the previous day, through his fear of asking the merry-makers for food. What the estate owner’s tender wife would have given him had she but known of his hunger and thirst, and how carefully have sent him home had she been aware of his dilemma! A reproof from both his parents when Tommy reached home ended the day’s adventure. It was the only harvest-supper and dance that he ever saw, save one that he dropped into by chance years after.

In spite of his lover-like promise of fidelity to her ladyship, the two never met again till he was a young man of twenty-two, and she quite an elderly woman; though it was not his fault, her husband selling the estate shortly after and occupying a house in London.

It may be worthy of note that this harvest-home was among the last at which the old traditional ballads were sung, the railway having been extended to Dorchester just then, and the orally transmitted ditties of centuries being slain at a stroke by the London comic songs that were introduced. The particular ballad which he remembered hearing that night from the lips of the farm-women was that one variously called ‘The Outlandish Knight’, ‘May Colvine’, ‘The Western Tragedy’, etc. He could recall to old age the scene of the young women in their light gowns sitting on a bench against the wall in the barn, and leaning against each other as they warbled the Dorset version of the ballad, which differed a little from the northern:

‘Lie there, lie there, thou false-hearted man,

Lie there instead o’ me;

For six pretty maidens thou hast a-drown’d here,

But the seventh hath drown-ed thee!’

‘O tell no more, my pretty par-rot,

Lay not the blame on me;

And your cage shall be made o’ the glittering gold,

Wi’ a door o’ the white ivo-rie!’

The question of moving from the parish, above alluded to, and taking more commodious premises nearer to or in the town, again arose with the Hardys — was, indeed, always arising. An opportunity to develop her husband’s business which a more convenient centre would have afforded him had been long in Mrs. Hardy’s perception, and she thought he should seek it for the sake of his growing family. It must be admitted that a lonely spot between a heath and a wood, the search for which by messengers and other people of affairs often became wearisomely tedious to them, was almost unreasonable as a place for carrying on the building trade. But Thomas Hardy the Second had not the tradesman’s soul. Instead of waylaying possible needers of brick and stone in the market-place or elsewhere, he liked going alone into the woods or on the heath, where, with a telescope inherited from some collateral ancestor who had been captain of a merchant craft, he would stay peering into the distance by the half - hour; or, in the hot weather, lying on a bank of thyme or camomile with the grasshoppers leaping over him. Among his son’s other childish memories were those of seeing men in the stocks, corn-law agitations, mail-coaches, road-waggons, tinder-boxes, and candle - snuffing. When still a small boy he was taken by his father to witness the burning in effigy of the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman in the old Roman Amphitheatre at Dorchester during the No-Popery Riots. The sight to young Hardy was most lurid, and he never forgot it; and when the cowl of one of the monks in the ghastly procession blew aside and revealed the features of one of his father’s workmen his bewilderment was great.

His earliest recollection was of receiving from his father the gift of a small accordion. He knew that he was but four years old at this time, as his name and the date were written by his father upon the toy: Thomas Hardy. 1844.

Another memory, some two or three years later, is connected with the Corn Law Agitation. The boy had a little wooden sword, which his father had made for him, and this he dipped into the blood of a pig which had just been killed, and brandished it as he walked about the garden exclaiming: ‘ Free Trade or blood!’

A member of his family recalled, even after an interval of sixty years, the innocent glee with which the young Thomas and his mother would set off on various expeditions. They were excellent companions, having each a keen sense of humour and a love of adventure. Hardy would tell of one prank when he and his mother put on fantastic garb, pulling cabbage-nets over their faces to disguise themselves. Thus oddly dressed they walked across the heath to visit a sister of Mrs. Hardy, living at Puddletown, whose amazement was great when she set eyes upon these strange visitors at her door.

It was natural that with the imitativeness of a boy he should at an early age have attempted to perform on the violin, and under his father’s instruction was soon able to tweedle from notation some hundreds of jigs and country-dances that he found in his father’s and grandfather’s old books. From tuning fiddles as a boy he went on as a youth in his teens to keep his mother’s old table-piano in tune whenever he had the time, and was worried by’ The Wolf’ in a musical octave, which he thought a defect in his own ear.

One other experience of his boyhood may be mentioned which, though comical in itself, gave him much mental distress. This was at church when listening to the sermon. Some mischievous movement of his mind set him imagining that the vicar was preaching mockingly, and he began trying to trace a humorous twitch in the corners of Mr. S — — ’s mouth, as if he could hardly keep a serious countenance. Once having imagined this the impish boy found to his consternation that he could not dismiss the idea. Like Sterne in the pulpit, the vicar seemed to be ‘always tottering on the verge of laughter’, and hence against his will Thomas could scarcely control his merriment, till it became a positive discomfort to him.

By good fortune the report that the schoolmaster was an able teacher turned out to be true — and finding that he had an apt pupil who galloped unconcernedly over the ordinary school lessons, he either agreed to Hardy’s parents’ proposal, or proposed himself, that he should teach the boy Latin immediately, Latin being considered an extra.


So at twelve years of age young Thomas was started on the old Eton grammar and readings in Eutropius and Caesar. Though extraordinarily quick in acquisition he was undoubtedly rather an idle schoolboy; and in respect of the grammar, having, like so many thousands of schoolboys before him, been worried by the ‘Propria quae maribus’, he devised a plan for saving himself trouble in learning the genders by colouring the nouns in three tints respectively; but whether he profited much by his plan is not known. Once, many years after, he deplored to a friend, a classical scholar and Fellow of his college, that he had been taught from the venerable Etonian ‘Introduction to the Latin Tongue’, and not from the celebrated new Latin primer which came out later. His friend said grimly: ‘ The old one was just as good as the new.’

But despite the classics and his general bookishness he loved adventures with the fiddle, both now and far on towards young manhood, though it was strange that his mother, a ‘progressive’ woman, ambitious on his account though not her own, did not object to these performances. Possibly it was from a feeling that they would help to teach him what life was. His father, however, objected to them strongly, though as he himself had not been averse to them when young he could hardly do other than wink at them. So little Thomas played sometimes at village weddings, at one of which the bride, all in white, kissed him in her intense pleasure at the dance; once at a New Year’s Eve party in the house of the tailor who had breeched him; also in farmers’ parlours; and on another occasion at a homestead where he was stopped by his hostess clutching his bow-arm at the end of a three-quarter-hour’s unbroken footing to his notes by twelve tireless couples in the favourite country-dance of ‘The New - Rigged Ship’. The matron had done it lest he should ‘ burst a bloodvessel’, fearing the sustained exertion to be too much for a boy of thirteen or fourteen.

He had always been told by his mother that he must on no account take any payment for these services as fiddler, but on one occasion temptation was too strong. A hatful of pennies was collected, amounting to four or five shillings, and Thomas had that morning seen in a shop in Dorchester a copy of The Boys’ Own Book which could be bought with about this sum. He accepted the money and soon owned the coveted volume. His mother shook her head over the transaction, and refused to see any merit in a book which was chiefly about games. This volume was carefully kept, and remained in his library to the end of his life.

Among the queer occurrences accompanying these merry minstrel - lings may be described one that happened when he was coming home with his father at three in the morning from a gentleman-farmer’s house where he had been second violin to his senior’s first for six or seven hours, his father for some reason having had a generous wish to oblige the entertainers to the full. It was bitterly cold, and the moon glistened bright upon the encrusted snow, amid which they saw motionless in the hedge what appeared to be a white human figure without a head. The boy, being very tired, with finger-tips tingling from pressing the strings, was for passing the ghastly sight quickly, but the elder went up to the object, which proved to be a very tall thin man in a long white smock-frock, leaning against the bank in a drunken stupor, his head hanging forward so low that at a distance he had seemed to have no head at all. Hardy senior, seeing the danger of leaving the man where he might be frozen to death, awoke him after much exertion, and they supported him to a cottage near, where he lived, and pushed him in through the door, their ears being greeted as they left with a stream of abuse from the man’s wife, which was also vented upon her unfortunate husband, whom she promptly knocked down. Hardy’s father remarked that it might have been as well to leave him where he was, to take his chance of being frozen to death.

At this age Thomas also loved reading Dumas pkre’s romances, which he did in an English translation, and Shakespeare’s tragedies for the plots only, not thinking much of Hamlet because the ghost did not play his part up to the end as he ought to have done.


A year or two later his accomplished schoolmaster opened a more advanced school called an Academy, where boarders were taken. His abilities had in fact attracted the notice of parents and guardians, and but for an affection of the chest which compelled him later to give up teaching he would no doubt have been heard of further afield. (His son, it may be observed, became a well-known science-master at South Kensington.) Hardy followed him to the new school — the grammar school founded by his namesake being reported to be indifferent just then — and remained there all the rest of his school life, thus continuing his Latin under the same teacher, and winning the prize of Beza’s Latin Testament for his progress in the tongue — a little pocket edition which he often carried with him in after years. His course of instruction also included elementary drawing, advanced arithmetic, geometry, and algebra, in which he was fairly good, always saying that he found a certain poetry in the rule for the extraction of the cube-root, owing to its rhythm, and in some of the ‘ Miscellaneous Questions’ of Walkingame. In applied mathematics lie worked completely through Tate’s Mechanics and Nesbitt’s Mensuration.

Hardy was popular — too popular almost — with his schoolfellows, for their friendship at times became burdensome. He loved being alone, but often, to his concealed discomfort, some of the other boys would volunteer to accompany him on his homeward journey to Bockhampton. How much this irked him he recalled long years after. He tried also to avoid being touched by his playmates. One lad with more insight than the rest, discovered the fact: ‘ Hardy, how is it that you do not like us to touch you?’ This peculiarity never left him, and to the end of his life he disliked even the most friendly hand being laid on his arm or his shoulder. Probably no one else ever observed this.

One day at this time Hardy, then a boy of fourteen, fell madly in love with a pretty girl who passed him on horseback near the South Walk, Dorchester, as he came out of school hard by, and for some unaccountable reason smiled at him. She was a total stranger. Next day he saw her with an old gentleman, probably her father. He wandered about miserably, looking for her through several days, and caught sight of her once again — this time riding with a young man. Then she disappeared for ever. He told other boys in confidence, who sympathized, but could do nothing, though some boarders watched for her on his behalf. He was more than a week getting over this desperate attachment.

At fifteen he was sent to receive French lessons from a lady who was the French governess at the school attended by his sister, and began the study of German from a periodical in which he had become deeply interested, entitled The Popular Educator, published by that genius in home-education, John Cassell. Hardy’s mother had begun to buy the publications of that firm for her son, and he himself continued their purchase whenever he had any pocket-money.

And it was about this date that he formed one of a trio of youths (the vicar’s sons being the other two) who taught fti the Sunday School of the parish, where as a pupil in his class he had a dairymaid four years older than himself, who afterwards appeared in Tess of the d’ Urbervilles as Marian — one of the few portraits from life in his works. This pink and plump damsel had a marvellous power of memorizing whole chapters in the Bible, and would repeat to him by heart in class, to his boredom, the long gospels before Easter without missing a word, and with evident delight in her facility; though she was by no means a model of virtue in her love-affairs.

Somewhat later, though it may as well be mentioned here among other such trivialities, he lost his heart for a few days to a young girl who had come from Windsor just after he had been reading Ains - worth’s Windsor Castle. But she disappointed him on his finding that she took no interest in Heme the Hunter or Anne Boleyn. In this kind there was another young girl, a gamekeeper’s pretty daughter,

who won Hardy’s boyish admiration because of her beautiful bay-red hair. But she despised him, as being two or three years her junior, and married early. He celebrated her later on as ‘Lizbie Browne’. Yet another attachment, somewhat later, which went deeper, was to a farmer’s daughter named Louisa. There were more probably. They all appear, however, to have been quite fugitive, except perhaps the one for Louisa.

He believed that his attachment to this damsel was reciprocated, for on one occasion when he was walking home from Dorchester he beheld her sauntering down the lane as if to meet him. He longed to speak to her, but bashfulness overcame him, and he passed on with a murmured ‘Good evening’, while poor Louisa had no word to say.

Later he heard that she had gone to Weymouth to a boarding school for young ladies, and thither he went, Sunday after Sunday, until he discovered the church which the maiden of his affections attended with her fellow-scholars. But, alas, all that resulted from these efforts was a shy smile from Louisa.

That the vision remained may be gathered from a poem ‘Louisa in the Lane’ written not many months before his death. Louisa lies under a nameless mound in ‘Mellstock’ churchyard. That ‘Good evening’ was the only word that passed between them.



1856-1862: Aet. 16-21

At sixteen, though he had just begun to be interested in French and the Latin classics, the question arose of a profession or business. His father as a builder had carried out the designs of, and so become associated with, Mr. John Hicks, an architect and church-restorer originally in practice in Bristol and now in Dorchester. Having seen Thomas Hardy junior when his father conjointly with another builder was executing Mr. Hicks’s restoration of, it is believed, Woodsford Castle, and tested him by inviting him to assist at a survey, Hicks wished to have him as a pupil, offering to take him for somewhat less than the usual premium, payable in the middle of a term of three years. As the father was a ready-money man, Mrs. Hardy suggested to the architect a substantial abatement for paying down the whole premium at the beginning of the term, and to this Mr. Hicks, who was not a ready-money man, agreed. Hardy was a born bookworm, that and that alone was unchanging in him; he had sometimes, too, wished to enter the Church; but he cheerfully agreed to go to Mr. Hicks’s.

July 1856

The architect’s office was at 39 South Street, Dorchester, now part of a Temperance Hotel, though the room in which Hardy used to draw is unchanged. On arriving he found there a pupil of twenty - one, who was at the end of his term and was just leaving; also a pupil in the first year of his articles, a year or more older than himself, who had been well educated at a good school in or near London, and who, having a liking for the classical tongues, regretted his recent necessity °f breaking off his studies to take up architecture. They began later to read together, and during the ensuing two or three years often gave more time to books than to drawing. Hicks, too, was exceptionally well educated for an ordinary country architect. The son of a loucestershire rector, who had been a good classical scholar, he had read some Greek, and had a smattering of Hebrew (probably taught him by his father); though, rather oddly, he was less at home with Latin. He was a kindly-natured man, almost jovial, and allowed the two youths some leisure for other than architectural study, though much of Hardy’s reading in the ensuing years was done between five and eight in the morning before he left home for the office. In the long summer days he would even rise at four and begin. In these circumstances he got through a moderately good number of the usual classical pages — several books of the Aeneid, some Horace and Ovid, etc.; and in fact grew so familiar with his authors that in his walks to and from the town he often caught himself soliloquizing in Latin on his various projects. He also took up Greek, which he had not learnt at schopl, getting on with some books of the Iliad. He once said that nearly all his readings in the last-named work had been done in the morning before breakfast.

Hicks was ahead of them in Greek, though they could beat him in Latin, and he used to ridicule their construings, often when these were more correct than his own. When cornered and proved wrong he would take shelter behind the excuse that his school-days were longer ago than theirs.

At this time the Rev. William Barnes, the Dorset poet and philologist, was keeping school next door. Knowing him to be an authority upon grammar Hardy would often run in to ask Barnes to decide some knotty point in dispute between him and his fellow-pupil. Hardy used to assert in later years that upon almost every occasion the verdict was given in his favour.

An unusual incident occurred during his pupillage at Hicks’s which, though it had nothing to do with his own life, was dramatic enough to have mention. One summer morning at Bockhampton, just before he sat down to breakfast, he remembered that a man was to be hanged at eight o’clock at Dorchester. He took up the big brass telescope that had been handed on in the family, and hastened to a hill on the heath a quarter of a mile from the house, whence he looked towards the town. The sun behind his back shone straight on the white stone fagade of the gaol, the gallows upon it, and the form of the murderer in white fustian, the executioner and officials in dark clothing and the crowd below being invisible at this distance of nearly three miles. At the moment of his placing the glass to his eye the white figure dropped downwards, and the faint note of the town clock struck eight.

The whole thing had been so sudden that the glass nearly fell from Hardy’s hands. He seemed alone on the heath with the hanged man, and crept homeward wishing he had not been so curious. It was the second and last execution he witnessed, the first having been that of a woman two or three years earlier, when he stood close to the gallows.

It had so happened that Bastow, the other pupil (who, strangely enough for an architect mostly occupied with church-work, had been bred a Baptist), became very doctrinal during this time; he said he was going to be baptized, and in fact was baptized shortly after. He so impressed young Hardy with his earnestness and the necessity of doing likewise that, though the junior pupil had been brought up in High Church principles, he almost felt that he ought to be baptized again as an adult. He went to the vicar of his parish and stated the case. The vicar, an Oxford man, seemed bewildered, and said that the only book he possessed that might help Hardy was Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity, which he lent his inquirer. Finding that this learned work did not help much in the peculiar circumstances, Hardy went to the curate of another parish with whom he was acquainted. But all that the curate had was a handbook on the Sacraments of an elementary kind.

However, he got hold of as many books and notes on Paedo - baptism as he could, and though he was appalled at the feebleness of the arguments for infant christening (assuming that New Testament practice must be followed) he incontinently determined to ‘stick to his own side’, as he considered the Church to be, at some costs of conscience. The clash of polemics between the two pupils in the office sometimes reached such a pitch of clamour that the architect’s wife would send down a message from the drawing-room, which was on the first floor over, imploring them not to make so much noise. To add to the heat, two of the Dorchester Baptist minister’s sons, friends of Bastow, hard-headed Scotch youths fresh from Aberdeen University, good classics, who could rattle off at a moment’s notice the Greek original of any passage in the New Testament, joined in the controversy. But though Hardy thus found himself in the position of one against three, he fought on with his back to the wall as it were working at night at the Greek Testament to confute his opponents, and for this purpose getting a new text, Griesbach’s, that he had seen advertised as the most correct, instead of his old one, and conceding to his serious-minded disputants as much as he thought a Churchman fairly could concede — namely, that he would limit his Greek reading to the New Testament in future, giving up the heathen authors, and would show his broad-mindedness by attending a prayer-meeting in the chapel-vestry.

At half-past six on a hot August evening he entered the chapel for the meeting. Not a soul was in the building, and he waited in the dreary little vestry till the hour of appointment had passed by nearly half an hour, the yellow sun shining in on the drab paint through the skylight, through which also came the faint notes of a brass band. Just as he was about to leave at a quarter-past seven, Bastow and the minister’s sons tumbled breathlessly in, apologizing for their lateness. Cooke’s then popular circus had entered the town at the moment of the prayer-meeting, and they had all dismissed the engagement for a while, and remained for the spectacle. Hardy had known the circus entry was going to take place; but he had kept his appointment faithfully. How the meeting ended Hardy had forgotten when he related the experience.

His convictions on the necessity of adult baptism gradually wore out of him. Though he was younger than his companions he seems to have possessed a breadth of mind which they lacked; and while perceiving that there was not a shred of evidence for infant baptism in the New Testament, he saw that Christianity did not hang on temporary details that expediency might modify, and that the practice of an isolated few in the early ages could not be binding on its multitudes in differing circumstances, when it had grown to be the religion of continents.

Nevertheless it would be unjust to the Baptist minister Perkins and his argumentative family to omit from these gleanings out of the past Hardy’s remarks on their finer qualities. They formed an austere and frugal household, and won his admiration by their thoroughness and strenuousness. He often visited them, and one of the sons about his own age, not insistent on Baptist doctrines like his two brethren, was a great friend of Hardy’s till his death of consumption a year or two after. It was through these Scotch people that Thomas Hardy first became impressed with the necessity for ‘plain living and high thinking’, which stood him in such good stead in later years. Among the few portraits of actual persons in Hardy’s novels, that of the Baptist minister in A Laodicean is one — being a recognizable drawing of Perkins the father as he appeared to Hardy at this time, though the incidents are invented.

To return to the architect’s pupils. The Greek Testament had been now taken up by both of them — though it had necessitated the younger’s learning a new dialect — and Homer and Virgil were thrown aside (a misfortune to Hardy, who was just getting pleasure from these). In pursuing this study it became an occasional practice for the youths to take out their Testaments into the fields and^sit on a gate reading them. The gate of the enclosure in Kingston M&irward eweleaze, now the cricket-ground, was the scene of some of the readings. They were brought to an end by the expiry of Bastow’s term of four years as a pupil, and his departure for the office of a London architect, which, it may be mentioned, he shortly afterwards left to start in practice on his own account in Tasmania.


With the departure of Bastow, Hardy’s duties grew more exacting, and though, in consideration of his immaturity, the term of his pupillage had been lengthened by between one and two years, a time had arrived at which it became necessary that he should give more attention to practical architecture than he had hitherto done. Church ‘restoration’ was at this time in full cry in Dorsetshire and the neighbouring counties, and young Hardy found himself making many surveys, measurements, and sketches of old churches with a view to such changes. Much beautiful ancient Gothic, as well as Jacobean and Georgian work, he was passively instrumental in destroying or in altering beyond identification; a matter for his deep regret in later years.

Despite the greater demands of architecture upon his attention it appears that Hardy kept up his classics for some time after the departure of his fellow-pupil for Tasmania; since, in an old letter of Bastow’s, replying to Hardy from Hobart Town in May 1861, the emigrant says:

‘Really you are a plodding chap to have got through such a lot of Homer and all the rest. I am not a bit farther than I was in Dorchester; indeed, I think I have scarcely touched a book — Greek, I mean — since. I see you are trying all you can to cut me out!’

The allusion to Homer seems to show that after his earnest Baptist-senior’s departure, and the weakening of his influence, Hardy,

St. Augustine, lapsed from the Greek New Testament back again to pagan writers, though he was rather impulsive than ‘plodding’ in is studies, his strength lying in a power of keeping going in most disheartening circumstances.

Owing to the accident of his being an architect’s pupil in a county - town of assizes and aldermen, which had advanced to railways and telegraphs and daily London papers; yet not living there, but walking in every day from a world of shepherds and ploughmen in a hamlet three miles off, where modern improvements were still regarded as wonders, he saw rustic and borough doings in a juxtaposition peculiarly close. To these externals may be added the peculiarities of his inner life, which might almost have been called academic — a triple existence unusual for a young man — what he used to call, in looking back, a life twisted of three strands — the professional life, the scholar’s life, and the rustic life, combined in the twenty-four hours of one day, as it was with him through these years. He would be reading the Iliad, the Aeneid, or the Greek Testament from six to eight in the morning, would work at Gothic architecture all day, and then in the evening rush off with his fiddle under his arm, sometimes in the company of his father as first violin and uncle as ‘cellist, to play country-dances, reels, and hornpipes at an agriculturist’s wedding, christening, or Christmas party in a remote dwelling among the fallow fields, not returning sometimes till nearly dawn, the Hardys still being traditionally string-bandsmen available on such occasions, and having the added recommendation of charging nothing for their services, which was a firm principle with them, the entertainers being mostly acquaintances; though the tireless zeal of young couples in the dance often rendered the Hardys’ act of friendship anything but an enjoyment to themselves. But young Hardy’s physical vigour was now much greater than it had been when he was a child, and it enabled him, like a conjuror at a fair, to keep in the air the three balls of architecture, scholarship, and dance-fiddling, without ill effects, the fiddling being of course not daily, like the other two.

His immaturity, above alluded to, was greater than is common for his years, and it may be mentioned here that a clue to much of his character and action throughout his life is afforded by his lateness of development in virility, while mentally precocious. He himself said humorously in later times that he was a child till he was sixteen, a youth till he was five-and-twenty, and a young man till he was nearly fifty. Whether this was intrinsic, or owed anything to his having lived in a remote spot in early life, is an open question.

During the years of architectural pupillage Hardy had two other literary friends in Dorchester. One was Hooper Tolbort, orphan nephew of one of the partners in a firm of mechanical engineers, who had an extraordinary facility in the acquisition of languages. He was a pupil of the Rev. W. Barnes, and was preparing for the Indian Civil Service. The other was Horace Moule of Queens’ College, Cam bridge just then beginning practice as author and reviewer. Walks in the fields with each of these friends biassed Thomas Hardy still further in the direction of books, two works among those he met with impressing him much — the newly published Essays and Reviews by ‘The Seven against Christ’, as the authors were nicknamed; and Walter Bagehot’s Estimates (afterwards called Literary Studies). He began writing verses, and also a few prose articles, which do not appear to have been printed anywhere. The first effusion of his to see the light of print was an anonymous skit in a Dorchester paper on the disappearance of the Aims-House clock, which then as now stood on a bracket in South Street, the paragraph being in the form of a plaintive letter from the ghost of the clock. (It had been neglected, after having been taken down to be cleaned.) As the author was supposed to be an alderman of influence the clock was immediately replaced. He would never have been known to be Hardy but for the conspiracy of a post-office clerk, who watched the handwriting of letters posted till he had spotted the culprit. After this followed the descriptive verses ‘Domicilium’, and accounts of church-restorations carried out by Hicks, which Hardy prepared for the grateful reporter of the Dorset Chronicle.

It seems he had also set to work on the Agamemnon or the Oedipus-, but on his inquiring of Moule — who was a fine Greek scholar and was always ready to act the tutor in any classical difficulty — if he ought not to go on reading scrme Greek plays, Moule’s reluctant opinion was that if Hardy really had (as his father had insisted, and as indeed was reasonable, since he never as yet had earned a farthing in his life) to make an income in some way by architecture in 1862, it would be hardly worth while for him to read Aeschylus or Sophocles in 1859 — 61. He had secretly wished that Moule would advise him to go on with Greek plays, in spite of the serious damage it might do his architecture; but he felt bound to listen to reason and prudence. So, as much Greek as he had got he had to be content with, the language being almost dropped from that date; for though he did take up one or two of the dramatists again some years later, it was in a fragmentary way only. Nevertheless his substantial knowledge of them was not small.

It may be permissible to ponder whether Hardy’s career might not have been altogether different if Moule’s opinion had been the contrary one, and he had advised going on with Greek plays. The younger man would hardly have resisted the suggestion, and might have risked the consequences, so strong was his bias that way. The upshot might have been his abandonment of architecture for a University career, his father never absolutely refusing to advance him money in a good cause. Having every instinct of a scholar he might have ended his life as a Don of whom it could be said that

He settled Hod’s business,

Properly based Oun.

But this was not to be, and it was possibly better so.

One other Dorchester young man, who has been cursorily mentioned — the pupil of Hicks’s whose time had expired shortly after Hardy’s arrival, and who then departed permanently from the West of England — may be again given a word for the single thing about him that had attracted the fresh-comer — his one or two trips to London during their passing acquaintance, and his return thence whistling quadrilles and other popular music, with accounts of his dancing experiences at the Argyle Rooms and Cremorne, both then in full swing. Hardy would relate that one quadrille in particular his precursor Fippard could whistle faultlessly, and while giving it would caper about the office to an imaginary dance-figure, embracing an imaginary Cremorne or Argyle danseuse. The fascinating quadrille remained with Hardy all his life, but he never could identify it. Being some six years the junior of this comet-like young man, Hardy was treated by him with the superciliousness such a boy usually gets from such seniority, and with the other’s departure from Dorchester he passed quite out of Hardy’s knowledge.



1862-1867: Aet. 21-27 A New Start

On Thursday, April 17, 1862, Thomas Hardy started alone for London, to pursue the art and science of architecture on more advanced lines. He had for some time left Bockhampton as a permanent resident, living, except at weekends, in Dorchester, either with Hicks or at lodgings; though he often sojourned at Bockhampton later on.

The Great Exhibition of that year was about to be opened, and this perhaps influenced him in the choice of a date for his migration. His only previous journey to the capital had been made with his mother in 1848 or 1849, when they passed through it on the way to and back from Hertfordshire, on a visit to a relative, as mentioned earlier. With prudent forethought he bought a return ticket for the journey, so that he might be able to travel back to Dorchester did he reach the end of his resources. After six months he threw away the unused half.

Hardy used to relate humorously that on the afternoon of his arrival he called to inquire for lodgings at a house where was employed a bachelor some ten years older than himself, whose cousin Hardy had known. This acquaintance, looking him up and down, was sceptical about his establishing himself in London. ‘Wait till you have walked the streets a few weeks’, he said satirically, ‘and your elbows begin to shine, and the hems of your trousers get frayed, as if nibbled by rats! Only practical men are wanted here.’ Hardy began to wish he had thought less of the Greek Testament and more of iron girders.

However, he had at least two letters of introduction in his pocket — one from a gushing lady to Mr. Benjamin Ferrey, F.R.I.B.A., of Trinity Place, Charing Cross, an architect who had been a pupil of the elder Pugin’s, was connected with the West of England, and had designed a Dorset mansion of which Hardy’s father had been one of the builders, carrying out the work to that gentleman’s complete satisfaction. But, as usually happens, this sheet-anchor was less trustworthy than had been expected. Mr. Ferrey was civil to the young man, remembered his father, promised every assistance; and there the matter ended.

The other introduction was to Mr. John Norton of Old Bond Street, also an architect in full practice. Mr. Norton was a Bristol man, a pupil of Ferrey’s, and a friend of Hicks of Dorchester, by reason, it is believed, of their joint association with Bristol. Anyhow, Norton received young Thomas Hardy with great kindness, and, his friendship coming at the nick of time when it was needed, he proved himself one of the best helps Hardy ever had. The generous architect told him that he must on no account be doing nothing in London (Hardy looked quite a pink-faced youth even now), and arranged that he should come daily and make drawings in his office for a merely nominal renumeration whilst looking further about town. As Mr. Norton was in no real need of assistance the proposal was most considerate of him.

Last Week in April 1862

Here was indeed as good a thing as could have happened. It was an anchorage, and Hardy never forgot it. Strangely enough, on his arriving on the following Monday to begin, Mr. Norton informed him that a friend whom he had met at the Institute of British Architects had asked him if he knew of a young Gothic draughtsman who could restore and design churches and rectory-houses. He had strongly recommended Hardy, and packed him off at once to call on Mr. Arthur Blomfield, the friend in question.

Blomfield was a son of the recently deceased Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of London; a Rugbeian, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he had been a great boating man; and a well - known church-designer and restorer, whose architectural pupillage had been under Philip C. Hardwicke. Hardy found him in, a lithe, brisk man of thirty-three, with whom Hardy was to keep up a friendship for near on forty years. Arrangements were made, and on the following Monday, May 5, he began work as an assistant-architect in Mr: Blomfield’s drawing-office — at that time at 8 St. Martin’s Place, in rooms also used by the Alpine Club. This was another linking coincidence with aftertimes, for Leslie Stephen, an ardent climber and a member of the Club, was a visitor to these rooms, though ten years were to elapse before Hardy got to know him, and to be mentally influenced by him so deeply. In the following autumn or winter, however, more commodious and lighter drawing-offices were taken at 8 Adelphi Terrace, first floor; which Blomfield continued to occupy during the remaining five years that Hardy worked with him. Shortly after his entry there Hardy had an experience which might have been serious:

‘March i o. Went into the streets in the evening to see the illuminations on the occasion of the P. of Wales’s marriage. By the fortunate accident of beginning my walk at the city end of the route I had left the neighbourhood of the Mansion House before the great mass of people got there, but I had enough to do to hold my own at the bottom of Bond Street, where my waistcoat buttons were torn off and my ribs bent in before I could get into a doorway. Molsey and Paris [two pupils of Ferrey’s, friends of Hardy’s] were in the Mansion House crush, having started from the West End, like most of the spectators. Six people were killed close to them, and they did not expect to get out alive.’

In a letter written many years after to an inquirer who was interested in his association with Adelphi Terrace, Hardy states:

‘I sat there drawing, inside the easternmost window of the front room on the first floor above the ground floor, occasionally varying the experience by idling on the balcony. I saw from there the Embankment and Charing-Cross Bridge built, and of course used to think of Garrick and Johnson. The rooms contained at that date fine Adam mantelpieces in white marble, on which we used to sketch caricatures in pencil.’

It may be added that the ground-floor rooms of this 8 Adelphi Terrace were occupied by the Reform League during Hardy’s stay overhead, and that] Swinburne in one of his letters speaks of a correspondence with the League about this date. ‘The Reform League,’ he says,’ a body of extreme reformers not now extant I believe, but of some note and power for a time, solicited me to sit in Parliament — as representative of more advanced democratic or republican opinions than were represented there.’ Swinburne consulted Mazzini, who dissuaded him from consenting. The heads of the League were familiar personages to Blomfield’s pupils, who, as became Tory and Churchy young men, indulged in satire at the League’s expense, letting down ironical bits of paper on the heads of members, and once coming nearly to loggerheads with the worthy resident secretary, Mr. George Howell — to whom they had to apologize for their exasperating conduct — all this being unknown to Mr. Blomfield himself.

The following letters were written to his sister, Miss Mary Hardy, during 1862 and 1863, the first year that Hardy was at St. Martin’s Place and Adelphi Terrace.

‘Kilburn, 17 August 1862.

‘9 p.m.

‘My dear Mary ‘“After the fire a still small voice” — I have just come from the evening service at St. Mary’s Kilburn and this verse, which I always notice, was in the ist Lesson.

‘This Ch. of St. Mary is rather to my taste and they sing most of the tunes in the Salisbury hymn book there.

‘H. M. M. was up the week before last. We went to a Roman Catholic Chapel on the Thurday evening. It was a very impressive service. The Chapel was built by Pugin. Afterwards we took a cab to the old Hummums, an hotel near Covent Garden where we had supper. He may come and settle permanently in London in a few months, but is not certain yet.

‘E — was up last week. I had a half day at the Exhibition with him. He is now living at home, looking out for a situation. I do not think he will get into anything yet.

‘I have not been to a theatre since you were here. I generally run down to the Exhibition for an hour in the evening two or three times a week; after I come out I go to the reading room of the Kensington Musuem.

‘It has been pouring with rain all the day and last night, such a disappointment for thousands of Londoners, whose only holiday is Sunday.

‘I should like to have a look at the old Cathedral, etc., in about a month or so. The autumn seems the proper season for seeing Salisbury. Do you ever go to St. Thomas’s? Be careful about getting cold again and do not go out in evenings.

‘P. S. is reading extracts from Ruskin’s “Modern Painters” to me which accounts for the wretched composition of this epistle as I am obliged to make comments etc. on what he reads.

‘Ever yours,

‘T. H.’

‘Kilburn, 19th February.

‘My dear Mary:

‘I don’t fancy that ‘tis so very long since I wrote and the Saturdays [Saturday Reviews] have been sent regularly but I really intended to write this week.

‘You see that we have moved, so for the future my address will be as on the other side. We have not recovered from the confusion yet, and our drawings and papers are nohow.

‘The new office is a capital place. It is on the first floor and on a terrace that overlooks the river. We can see from our window right across the Thames, and on a clear day every bridge is visible. Everybody says that we have a beautiful place.

‘To-day has been wretched. It was almost pitch dark in the middle of the day, and everything visible appeared of the colour of brown paper or pea-soup.

‘There is a great deal of preparation for the approaching wedding. The Princess is to arrive on the 7th March and the wedding will be on the 10th. On her landing at Gravesend she will be received by the Prince, the Mayor, Mayoress, etc. They will then go by train to the Bricklayers’ Arms station, and then in procession over London Bridge, along Fleet Street, Strand, Charing Cross, Pall Mall, Piccadilly, through Hyde Park, and up the Edgware Road to Paddington Station — thence to Windsor. The windows along the route are full of notices that seats to view the procession are to be let. There will be an illumination the evening of the 10th.

‘I went to Richmond yesterday to see Lee. He’is better but is going to Kent for a short time before coming back to the office.

‘I have not heard anything about the Essay yet. The name of the successful competitor will be known in about a fortnight. I am now very busy getting up a design for a country mansion for which a small prize is offered — £3 the best and £2 the second best. It has to be sent in by the 27th March.

‘I am glad you have got a drawing prize, but you don’t say what. I think you have done very well altogether. Tell me about the organ and how the Sundays go off — I am uncommonly interested. How is your friend the blind man etc., School, clergyman etc. Say how you are, don’t forget. I am quite well. Horace Moule has been ill. So has H. A. as I daresay you know. Has she written yet? I sent a valentine to Harry and Kate to please them. Harry wrote me a letter, and Kate printed one and sent — rather a curiosity in its way.

‘I sent Mrs. Rolls photographs and she sent me a paper and letter.

She says that Parsons is postmaster in place of Lock who has resigned.

‘I tried the Underground Railway one day — Everything is excellently arranged.

‘Do you think to run up Easter? If so, you must not mind being left alone all day — but you know your way about.

‘T. S. has commenced the sketch of our house for you. He says it will soon be finished.

‘Is Katie coming up to live with you and when is Mother coming?

‘Ever your affectionate ‘Tom’

‘8 Adelphi Terrace, ‘19 Dec. 1863.

‘My dear Mary,

‘I was beginning to think you had given up writing altogether, when your letter came. Certainly try to get as long a time as you can Christmas.

‘I am glad you have been to Oxford again. It must be a jolly place. I shall try to get down there some time or other. You have no right to say you are not connected with art. Everybody is to a certain extent; the only difference between a professor and an amateur being that the former has the (often disagreeable) necessity of making it his means of earning bread and cheese — and thus often rendering what is a pleasure to other people a “bore” to himself.

‘About Thackeray. You must read something of his. He is considered to be the greatest novelist of the day — looking at novel writing of the highest kind as a perfect and truthful representation of actual life — which is no doubt the proper view to take. Hence, because his novels stand so high as works of Art or Truth, they often have anything but an elevating tendency, and on that account are particularly unfitted for young people — from their very truthfulness. People say that it is beyond Mr. Thackeray to paint a perfect man or woman — a great fault if novels are intended to instruct, but just the opposite if they are to be considered merely as Pictures. Vanity Fair is considered one of his best.

‘I expect to go home about Tuesday or Wednesday after Xmas and then shall find you there of course — We must have a “bit of a lark.”

‘Ever affectionately ‘Tom.

aet. 21-27

‘I am able to write 40 words a minute. The average rate of a speaker is from 100, to 120 and occasionally 140; so I have much more to do yet.’

During the first few months of Hardy’s life in London he had not forgotten to pay a call on the lady of his earliest passion as a child, who had been so tender towards him in those days, and had used to take him in her arms. She and her husband were now living in Bryton Street. The butler who opened the door was, he recalled, the same one who had been with the family at Kingston Maurward all those years ago, and looked little altered. But the lady of his dreams — alas! To her, too, the meeting must have been no less painful than pleasant: she was plainly embarrassed at having in her presence a young man of over twenty-one, who was very much of a handful in comparison with the rosy-cheeked, innocent little boy she had almost expected ‘Tommy’ to remain. One interview was not quite sufficient to wear off the stiffness resulting from such changed conditions, though, warming up, she asked him to .come again. But getting immersed in London life, he did not respond to her invitation, showing that the fickleness was his alone. But they occasionally corresponded, as will be seen.

It may be hardly necessary to record, since he somewhere describes it himself, that the metropolis into which he had plunged at this date differed greatly from the London of even a short time after. It was the London of Dickens and Thackeray, and Evans’s supper-rooms were still in existence in an underground hall in Covent Garden, which Hardy once at least visited. The Cider Cellars and the Coal Hole were still flourishing, with ‘Judge and Jury’ mock trials, ‘ Baron Nicholson’ or his successor being judge. And Dr. Donovan the phrenologist gauged heads in the Strand, informing Hardy that his would lead him to no good.

The ladies talked about by the architects’ pupils and other young men into whose society Hardy was thrown were Cora Pearl, ‘Skittles’, Agnes Willoughby, Adah Isaacs Menken, and others successively, of whom they professed to know many romantic and risqud details but really knew nothing at all; another of their romantic interests that Hardy recalled being, a little later, the legend of the moorhen dive of Lady Florence Paget into Marshall & Snelgrove’s shop away from Mr. Chaplin, her fianci, and her emergence at the other door into the arms of Lord Hastings, and marriage with him — a sensational piece of news with which they came in breathless the week it happened.

Hungerford Market was still in being where the Charing Cross Station now stands, and Hardy occasionally lunched at a ‘coffee house’ there. He also lunched or dined at Bertolini’s with some pupils of Ferrey’s, the architect who had known his father and been the pupil of Pugin. This restaurant in St. Martin’s Street, Leicester Square, called Newton House, had been the residence and observatory of Sir Isaac Newton, and later the home of the Burneys, who were visited there by Johnson, Reynolds, etc., and the stone floors were still sanded as in former days. A few years after Hardy frequented it Swinburne used to dine there as a member of the ‘ Cannibal Club’. Tennyson is also stated to have often dined at Bertolini’s. To Hardy’s great regret this building of many associations was pulled down in later years.

On his way to Adelphi Terrace he used to take some short cut near Seven Dials, passing daily the liquor saloons of Alec Keene and Tom King (?) in West Street (now demolished), and Nat Langham at the top of St. Martin’s Lane, when he could sometimes discern the forms of those famous prize-fighters behind their respective bars.

There was no Thames Embankment. Temple Bar still stood in its place, and the huge block of buildings known as the Law Courts was not erected. Holborn Hill was still a steep and noisy thoroughfare which almost broke the legs of the slipping horses, and Skinner Street ran close by, with presumably Godwin’s house yet standing in it, at which Shelley first set eyes on Mary. No bridge across Ludgate Hill disfigured St. Paul’s and the whole neighbourhood. The South Kensington Museum was housed in iron sheds nicknamed the ‘Brompton Boilers’, which Hardy used to frequent this year to obtain materials for an Essay he sent in to the Royal Institute of British Architects; it was awarded the prize in the following spring. The Underground Railway was just in its infancy, and omnibus conductors leaving ‘Kilburn Gate’, near which Hardy lived awhile, cried, ‘Any more passengers for London?’ The list of such changes might be infinitely extended.

Charles Kean and his wife were still performing Shakespeare at the Princess’s Theatre, and Buckstone was at the Haymarket in the new play of The American Cousin, in which he played the name-part. At most of the theatres about nine o’clock there was a noise of trampling feet, and the audience whispered, ‘Half-price coming in’. The play paused for a few moments, and when all was quiet went on again.

Balls were constant at Willis’s Rooms, earlier Almack’s, and in 1862 Hardy danced at these rooms, or at Almack’s as he preferred to call the place, realising its historic character. He used to recount that inotp se old days, the pretty Lancers and Caledonians were still footed there to the original charming tunes, which brought out the beauty of the figures as no later tunes did, and every movement was a correct quadrille step and gesture. For those dances had not at that date degenerated to a waltzing step, to be followed by galloping romps to uproarious pieces.

Cremorne and the Argyle he also sought, remembering the jaunty senior-pupil at Hicks’s who had used to haunt those gallant resorts. But he did not dance there much himself, if at all, and the fascinating quadrille-tune has vanished like a ghost, though he went one day to second-hand music shops, and also to the British Museum, and hunted over a lot of such music in a search for it. Allusions to these experiences occur in more than one of his poems, ‘Reminiscences of a Dancing Man’ in particular; and they were largely drawn upon, so he once remarked, in the destroyed novel The Poor Man and the Lady — of which later on.

In a corresponding fit of musical enthusiasm he also bought an old fiddle at this time, with which he practised at his lodgings, with another man there who performed on the piano, pieces from the romantic Italian operas of Covent Garden and Her Majesty’s, the latter being then also an opera house, which places they used to frequent two or three times a week; not, except on rare occasions, in the best parts of the houses, as will be well imagined, but in the half-crown amphitheatre.

The foreign operas in vogue were those of Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Meyerbeer, Bellini: and thus Hardy became familiar with such singers as Mario (Grisi had just departed), Tietjens, Nilsson, Patti (just come), Giuglini, Parepa, and others of the date. An English Opera Company was also in existence, and Hardy patriotically supported it by going often to operas by Balfe, Wallace, and others. Here he had the painful experience of hearing the gradual breakdown of the once fine voice of William Harrison, who, with Miss Louisa Pyne, had established the company and endeavoured to keep such opera going. Hardy was heard to assert that, as it were in defiance of fate, Harrison would sing night after night his favourite songs, such as ‘Let me like a soldier fall’ in Maritana, and, particularly, ‘When other lips’ in The Bohemian Girl, wherein his complete failure towards the last attempts would move a sensitive listener to tears: he thought Harrison’s courage in struggling on, hoping against hope,

might probably cause him to be remembered longer than his greatest success.

At Blomfield’s Mr. Blomfield (afterwards Sir Arthur) being the son of a late Bishop of London, was considered a right and proper man for supervising the removal of human bodies in cases where railways had obtained a faculty for making cuttings through the city churchyards, so that it should be done decently and in order. A case occurred in which this function on the Bishop’s behalf was considered to be duly carried out. But afterwards Mr. Blomfield came to Hardy and informed him with a look of concern that he had just returned from visiting the site on which all the removed bodies were said by the company to be reinterred; but there appeared to be nothing deposited, the surface of the ground lying quite level as before. Also that there were rumours of mysterious full bags of something that rattled, and cartage to bone-mills. He much feared that he had not exercised a sufficiently sharp supervision, and that the railway company had got over him somehow. ‘I believe these people are all ground up!’ said Blomfield grimly.

Soon there was to occur a similar proceeding on a much larger scale by another company; the carrying of a cutting by the Midland Railway through Old St. Pancras Churchyard, which would necessitate the removal of many hundreds of coffins, and bones in huge quantities. In this business Mr. Blomfield was to represent the Bishop as before. The architect said that now there should be no mistake about his thoroughly carrying out the superintendence. Accordingly, he set a clerk-of-works in the churchyard, who was never to leave during working hours; and as the removals were effected by night, and the clerk-of-works might be lax or late, he deputed Hardy to go on evenings at uncertain hours, to see that the clerk-of-works was performing his duties; while Hardy’s chief himself was to drop in at unexpected moments during the week, presumably to see that neither his assistant nor the clerk-of-works was a defaulter.

The plan succeeded excellently, and throughout the late autumn and early winter (of probably the year 1865 or thereabouts) Hardy attended at the churchyard — each evening between five and six, as well as sometimes at other hours. There after nightfall, within a high hoarding that could not be overlooked, and by the light of flare-lamps, the exhumation went on continuously of the coffins that had been uncovered during the day, new coffins being provided for those that came apart in lifting, and for loose skeletons; and those that held together being carried to the new ground on a board merely; Hardy supervising these mournful processions when present, with what thoughts may be imagined, and Blomfield sometimes meeting him there. In one coffin that fell apart was a skeleton and two skulls. He used to tell that when, after some fifteen years of separation, he met Arthur Blomfield again and their friendship was fully renewed, among the latter’s first words were: ‘ Do you remember how we found the man with two heads at St. Pancras?’

It may conceivably have been some rumour of the possibility of this lamentable upheaval of Old St. Pancras Churchyard by the railway company in the near future which had led Sir Percy, the son of Mary Shelley, to remove the bodies of her parents therefrom to St. Peter’s, Bournemouth, where she had been buried in 1851, and where they now lie beside her, though few people seem to know that such an illustrious group is in the churchyard.

Hardy used to tell some amusing stories of his chief, a genuine humorist like his father the bishop. Among other strange ways in which he and his pupils, including Hardy, used to get on with their architecture was by singing glees and catches at intervals during office hours. Having always been musically inclined and, as has been stated, a fiddler of countless jigs and reels in his boyhood, Hardy could sing at sight with moderate accuracy from notation, though his voice was not strong. Hence Blomfield welcomed him in the office choir, where he himself took the bass, the rest waiting till he had ‘got his low E\ Hardy also, at Blomfield’s request, sang in the church-choir at the opening of the organ at St. Matthias’ Church, Richmond, where Blomfield took a bass part, one of his pupils being organist. But in the office the alto part was the difficulty, and Blomfield would say: ‘If you meet an alto anywhere in the Strand, Hardy, ask him to come in and join us’.

Among other things, the architect related that one day before he (Hardy) came, a Punch-and-Judy show performed outside the office in St. Martin’s Place. Presently the housekeeper, a woman London - bred, came running upstairs exclaiming, ‘Why, Mr. Arthur, I declare there’s a man inside! And I never knew it before!’

On an occasion when a builder had called on business, Hardy being present and some pupils, Blomfield airily said to the builder:

‘Well, Mr. T, what can I do for you? What will you take this morning — sherry or port?’ Though it was only between 10 and 11 Mr. Treflected earnestly and said, ‘ Port, sir, if you please’.

As they naturally had no wine or any other liquor at the offices, Blomfield was comically disconcerted at the worthy builder’s seriousness, but was as good as his word, and the office-boy was secretly dispatched to the Strand to buy a bottle of port, and to the housekeeper to borrow a glass.

Grotesque incidents that seldom happened to other people seemed to happen to Blomfield. One day he and Hardy went together to some slum near Soho to survey the site for a new building. The inspection made their boots muddy, and on the way back Blomfield suggested they should have them cleaned, as two bootblacks had come up pointing significantly. When Hardy and he had placed themselves Blomfield asked the second why he did not proceed with his brushing, like the first. “Cause he’s got no blacking nor brush’, said the first. ‘ What good is he then?’ asked Blomfield. ‘ I’ve cracked my blacking - bottle, and it goes dry; so I pay him a penny a day to spit for me.’

However, matters were graver sometimes. Hardy remembered how one morning he arrived at the Terrace to find Blomfield standing with his back to the fireplace, and with a very anxious face. The architect said slowly without any preface, ‘Hardy, that tower has fallen’. His eyes were fixed on the opposite wall where was the drawing of a new church just then finished. It was a serious matter, especially as some years earlier another well-known architect had been sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for manslaughter, one of his new erections having fallen and killed some people. Fortunately no one was killed in the present case, and the designer was quite exonerated by having the tower rebuilt stone by stone as it had been before, and so proving the construction to be unimpeachable, for there it has stood ever since without a crack. What had caused the fall was always a mystery.

This used to remind Hardy of another church-tower story. Mr. Hicks, with whom he served his pupillage, once told him that at the beginning of his practice he built a church-tower near Bristol, and on a night just after its erection he dreamt that on approaching it he saw a huge crack in its west wall from the parapet downwards. He was so disturbed that next morning he mounted his horse; it was before railways, and architects often then rode on horseback to the supervision of their buildings; and trotting off to the village the tower rose into his view. There was the crack in its face exactly as he had beheld it in his dream.

Having somewhat settled down with Blomfield, but feeling that architectural drawing in which the actual designing had no great part was monotonous and mechanical; having besides little inclination for pushing his way into influential sets which would help him to start a practice of his own, Hardy’s tastes reverted to the literary pursuits that he had been compelled to abandon in 1861, and had not resumed except to write the Prize Architectural Essay before mentioned. By as early as the end of 1863 he had recommenced to read a great deal, with a growing tendency towards poetry. But he was forced to consider ways and means, and it was suggested to him that he might combine literature with architecture by becoming an art - critic for the press, particularly in the province of architectural art. It is probable that he might easily have carried this out, reviewers with a speciality being then, and possibly now, in demand. His preparations for such a course were, however, quickly abandoned, and by 1865 he had begun to write verses, and by 1866 to send his productions to magazines. That these were rejected by editors, and that he paid such respect to their judgment as scarcely ever to send out a MS. twice, was in one feature fortunate for him, since in years long after he was able to examine those poems of which he kept copies, and by the mere change of a few words or the rewriting of a line or two to make them quite worthy of publication. Such of them as are dated in these years were all written in his lodgings at 16 West - bourne Park Villas. He also began turning the Book of Ecclesiastes into Spenserian stanzas, but finding the original unmatchable abandoned the task.

As another outcome of the same drift of mind, he used to deliver short addresses or talks on poets and poetry to Blomfield’s pupils and assistants on afternoons when there was not much to be done, or at all events when not much was done. There is no tradition of what Blomfield thought of this method of passing office hours instead of making architectural plans.

The only thing he got published at the time was, so far as is known, a trifle in Chambers’s Journab\n 1865 entitled ‘How I built myself a house’, written to amuse the ^pupils of Blomfield. It may have been the acceptance of this jeu d’esprit that turned his mind in the direction of prose; yet he made such notes as the following:

‘April, 1865. The form on the canvas which immortalises the painter is but the last of a series of tentative and abandoned sketches each of which contained some particular feature nearer perfection than any part of the finished product.’

‘Public opinion is of the nature of a woman.’

There is not that regular gradation among womankind that there is among men. You may meet with 999 exactly alike, and then the thousandth — not a little better, but far above them. Practically therefore it is useless for a man to seek after this thousandth to make her his.’

‘May. How often we see a vital truth flung about carelessly wrapt in a commonplace subject, without the slightest conception on the speaker’s part that his words contain an unsmelted treasure.’

‘In architecture, men who are clever in details are bunglers in generalities. So it is in everything whatsoever.’

‘More conducive to success in life than the desire for much knowledge is the being satisfied with ignorance on irrelevant subjects.’

‘The world does not despise us; it only neglects us.’

Whether or no, he did not seriously take up prose till two or three years later, when he was practically compelled to try his hand on it by finding himself perilously near coming to the ground between the two stools of architecture and literature.

Subsequent historic events brought back to his mind that this year he went with Blomfield to New Windsor, to the laying of the Memorial-stone of a church there by the Crown Princess of Germany (the English Princess Royal). She was accompanied by her husband the Crown Prince, afterwards the Emperor Frederick. ‘Blomfield handed her the trowel, and during the ceremony she got her glove daubed with the mortar. In her distress she handed the trowel back to him with an impatient whisper of “Take it, take it!”‘

Here is another note of his relating to this time:

‘July 2 (1865). Worked at J. H. Newman’s Apologia, which we have all been talking about lately. A great desire to be convinced by him, because Moule likes him so much. Style charming, and his logic really human, being based not on syllogisms but on converging probabilities. Only — and here comes the fatal catastrophe — there is no first link to his excellent chain of reasoning, and down you come headlong. . . . Read some Horace; also Childe Harold and Lalla Rookh till J past 12.’

However, as yet he did not by any means abandon verse, which he wrote constantly, but kept private, through the years 1866 and most of 1867, resolving to send no more to magazines whose editors probably did not know good poetry from bad, and forming meanwhile the quixotic opinion that, as in verse was concentrated the essence of all imaginative and emotional literature, to read verse and nothing else was the shortest way to the fountain-head of such, for one who had not a great deal of spare time. And in fact for nearly or quite years he did not read a word of prose except such as came under his eye in the daily newspapers and weekly reviews. Thus his reading naturally covered a fairly large tract of English poetry, and it may be mentioned^ as showing that he had some views of his own, that he preferred Scott the poet to Scott the novelist, and never ceased to regret that the author of ‘the most Homeric poem in the English language — Marmion’ — should later have declined on prose fiction.

He was not so keenly anxious to get into print as many young men are; in this indifference, as in some qualities of his verse, curiously resembling Donne. The Horatian exhortation that he had come across in his reading — to keep his own compositions back till the ninth year — had made a deep impression on him. Nescit vox missa reverti; and by retaining his poems, and destroying those he thought irremediably bad — though he afterwards fancied he had destroyed too many — he may have been saved from the annoyance of seeing his early crude effusions crop up in later life.

At the same time there can be no doubt that some closer association with living poets and the pcetry of the moment would have afforded Hardy considerable stimulus and help. But his unfortunate shyness — or rather aloofness, for he was not shy in the ordinary sense — served him badly at this period of his life. During part of his residence at Westbourne Park Villas he was living within half a mile of Swinburne, and hardly more than a stone’s throw from Browning, to whom introductions would not have been difficult through literary friends of Blomfield’s. He might have obtained at least encouragement from these, and, if he cared, possibly have floated off some of his poems in a small volume. But such a proceeding as trying to know these contemporaries seems never to have crossed his mind.

During his residence in London he had entered himself at King’s College for the French classes, where he studied the tongue through a term or two under Professor Sti6venard, never having taken it up seriously since in his boyhood he had worked at exercises under a governess. He used to say that Stifevenard was the most charming Frenchman he ever met, as well as being a fine teacher. Hardy’s mind had, however, become at this date so deeply immersed in the practice and study of English poetry that he gave but a perfunctory attention to his French readings.

March ii. The woman at a first interview will know as much °f the man as he will know of her on the wedding morning; whilst sne will know as little of him then as he knew of her when they first shook hands. Her knowledge will have come upon her like a flood, and have as gradually soaked away.’

‘June 2. My 25 th birthday. Not very cheerful. Feel as if I had lived a long time and done very little.

‘Walked about by moonlight in the evening. Wondered what woman, if any, I should be thinking about in five years’ time.’

‘July 9. The greatest and most majestic being on the face of the earth will accept pleasure from the most insignificant.’

‘July 19. Patience is the union of moral courage with physical cowardice.’

‘End of July. The dull period in the life of an event is when it ceases to be news and has not begun to be history.’

‘August. The anguish of a defeat is most severely felt when we look upon weak ones who have believed us invincible and have made preparations for our victory.’

‘Aug. 23. The poetry of a scene varies with the minds of the perceivers. Indeed, it does not lie in the scene at all.’

About this time Hardy nourished a scheme of a highly visionary character. He perceived from the impossibility of getting his verses accepted by magazines that he could not live by poetry, and (rather strangely) thought that architecture and poetry — particularly architecture in London — would not work well together. So he formed the idea of combining poetry and the Church — towards which he had long had a leaning — and wrote to a friend in Cambridge for particulars as to matriculation at that University, which with his late classical reading would have been easy for him. He knew that what money he could not muster himself for keeping terms his father would lend him for a few years, his idea being that of a curacy in a country village. This fell through less because of its difficulty than from a conscientious feeling, after some theological study, that he could hardly take the step with honour while holding the views which on examination he found himself to hold. And so he allowed the curious scheme to drift out of sight, though not till after he had begun to practise orthodoxy. For example:

‘July 5 - Sunday. To Westminster Abbey morning service. Stayed to the Sacrament. A very odd experience, amid a crowd of strangers.’

Among other incidents of his life in London during these years was also one that he used to recall with interest, when writing The Dynasts — his hearing Palmerston speak in the House of Commons a short time before his death, Palmerston having been War Secretary during the decisive hostilities with Napoleon embodied in the Third Part of Hardy’s Epic-Drama, a personal conjunction which brought its writer face to face not only with actual participants in the great struggle — as was the case with his numerous acquaintance of rank - and-file who had fought in the Peninsula and at Waterloo — but with one who had contributed to direct the affairs of that war. The only note on the fact that can be found is the following:

‘Oct. 18 . Wet evening. At Regent Circus, coming home saw the announcement of the death of Ld. Palmerston, whom I heard speak in the House of Commons a year or two ago.’

‘Oct. 27. To Westminster Abbey with Mr. Heaton and Lee. Took up a position in the triforium, from which spot I saw Ld. Palmerston lowered into the gra\e. Purcell’s service. Dead March in Saul.’

The following letter to his sister describes the ceremony:

‘Saturday, Oct. 28. 1865.

‘My dear Mary ‘I sent Barchester Towers by B. P., and you are probably by this time acquainted with Eleanor Bold, etc. This novel is considered the best of Trollope’s.

‘Yesterday Lord Palmerston was buried — the Prime Minister. I and the Lees got tickets through a friend of a friend of Mr. B’s, and we went of course. Our tickets admitted to the triforium, or monks’

walk, of Westminster Abbey, and we got from there a complete view of the ceremony. You will know wh. part of the Abbey I mean if you think of Salisbury Cathedral and of the row of small arches over the large arches, wh. throw open the space between the roof of the aisles and the vaulting.

‘Where I have put the X in the Section is where I stood; over the gj on the Plan. The mark * shows where the grave is, between L.T.H — E

Pitt’s and Fox’s and close by Canning’s. All the Cabinet Ministers were there as pall bearers. The burial service was Purcell’s. The opening sentences “I am the resurrection, etc” were sung to Croft’s music. Beethoven’s Funeral March was played as they went from the choir to the vault, and the Dead March in Saul was played at the close. I think I was never so much impressed with a ceremony in my life before, and I wd. not have missed it for anything. The Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge were present.

‘Ld. John Russell, or Earl Russell as he is now, is to be Prime Minister in Pam’s place. Only fancy, Ld. P. has been connected with the govt, off and on for the last 60 years, and that he was contemporaneous with Pitt, Fox, Sheridan, Burke, etc. I mean to say his life overlapped theirs so to speak. I sent father a newspaper containing an account of his life, and today one with an account of the funeral. As you are not a politician I didn’t send you one, but these things interest him.

‘If you can get Pelham, read it when you want something. Do not hurry over Barchester, for I have enough to do. I think Wells is the place intended. Will it be a good thing or will it be awkward for you if H. A. and I come down for Xmas day and the next?

‘I am rather glad that hot close weather is gone and the bracing air come again. I think I told you I had joined the French class at King’s College.

‘Ever sincerely.

‘T. H.’

‘A tall man went to see Chang the Chinese Giant, and on his offering to pay, the doorkeeper said “Not at all Sir, we don’t take money from the profession!” at least so Punch says.’

Through this winter the following note continually occurs: ‘Read some more Horace’.

His interest in painting led him to devote for many months, on every day that the National Gallery was open, twenty minutes after lunch to an inspection of the masters hung there, confining his attention to a single master on each visit, and forbidding his eyes to stray to any other. He went there from sheer liking, and not with any practical object; but he used to recommend the plan to young people, telling them that they would insensibly acquire a greater insight into schools and styles by this means than from any guide-books to the painters’ works and manners.

During Phelps’s series of Shakespeare plays at Drury Lane Hardy followed up every one, his companion being one of Blomfield’s pupils. They used to carry a good edition of the play with them, and be amongst the first of the pit crowd, holding the book edgewise on the barrier in front (which in those days was close to the orchestra) during the performance — a severe enough test for the actors, if they noticed the two enthusiasts. He always said that Phelps never received his due as a Shakespearean actor — particularly as Falstaff.

He also frequented the later readings by Charles Dickens at the Hanover Square Rooms, and oratorios at Exeter Hall.

Summer 1867

Adelphi Terrace, as everybody knows, faces the river, and in the heat of summer, while Hardy was there, the stench from the mud at low water increased, the Metropolitan main-drainage system not having been yet constructed. Whether from the effects of this smell upon a constitution that had grown up in a pure country atmosphere (as he himself supposed), or because he had been accustomed to shut himself up in his rooms at Westbourne Park Villas every evening from six to twelve, reading incessantly, instead of getting out for air after the day’s confinement, Hardy’s health had become much weakened. He used to say that on sitting down to begin drawing in the morning he had scarcely physical power left him to hold the pencil and square. When he visited his friends in Dorset they were shocked at the pallor which sheeted a countenance formerly ruddy with health. His languor increased month by month. Blomfield, who must have been inconvenienced by it, suggested to Hardy that he should go into the country for a time to regain vigour. Hardy was beginning to feel that he would rather go into the country altogether. He constitutionally shrank from the business of social advancement, caring for life as an emotion rather than for life as a science of climbing, in which respect he was quizzed by his acquaintance for his lack of ambition. However, Blomfield thought that to stay permanently in the country would be a mistake, advising him to return to London by the following October at latest.

An opportunity of trying the experiment, at any rate, was afforded by the arrival of a communication from Mr. Hicks, his old instructor in architecture, asking if he could recommend him any good assistant accustomed to church-restoration, as he was hampered by frequently suffering from gout. Hardy wrote that he would go himself, and at the latter part of July (1867) went down to Dorchester, leaving most of his books and other belongings behind him at Westbourne Park, which included such of his poems in manuscript as he had thought worth keeping. Of these the only ones not ultimately destroyed were consigned to darkness till between thirty and forty years after, when they were printed — mainly in IVessex Poems, though several, that had been overlooked at first, appeared in later volumes. Among the earliest were ‘Amabel’, ‘Hap’, ‘In Vision I Roamed’, ‘At a Bridal’, ‘Postponement’, ‘A Confession to a Friend’, ‘Neutral Tones’, ‘Her Dilemma’, ‘Revulsion’, ‘Her Reproach’, ‘The Ruined Maid’, ‘Heiress and Architect’, and four sonnets called ‘She, to Him’ (part of a much larger number which perished). Some had been sent to magazines, one sonnet that he rather liked, which began ‘Many a one has loved as much as I’, having been lost, the editor never returning it and Hardy having kept no copy. But most had never been sent anywhere.

It should be mentioned that several months before leaving London he had formed an idea of writing plays in blank verse — and had planned to try the stage as a supernumerary for six or twelve months, to acquire technical skill in their construction — going so far as to make use of an introduction to Mark Lemon, the then editor of Punch, and an ardent amateur-actor, for his opinion on this point. Nothing, however, came of the idea beyond the call on the genial editor, and on Mr. Coe, the stage-manager at the Haymarket under Buckstone’s lesseeship, with whom he had a conversation. The former rather damped the young man’s ardour by reminding him that the elder Mathews had said that he would not let a dog of his go on the stage, and that he himself, much as he personally liked the art of acting, would rather see a daughter of his in her grave than on the boards of a theatre. In fact almost the first moment of his sight of stage realities disinclined him to push further in that direction; and his only actual contact with the stage at this time was his appearance at Covent Garden as a nondescript in the pantomime of ‘The Forty Thieves’, and in a representation of the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race — this having come about through the accident of the smith who did the ironwork for the pantomime being the man who executed some of Blomfield’s designs for church metal-work, and who made crucifixes and harlequin-traps with equal imperturbability. More than forty years were to elapse before Hardy trod the same boards again — this time at rehearsals of the Italian Opera by Baron Frdddric d’Erlanger, founded on Tess of the d’Urhervilles.

aet. 21-27work in london55

‘End ofDec. 1865. To insects the twelvemonth has been an epoch, to leaves a life, to tweeting birds a generation, to man a year.’

Notes of 1866-67

‘A certain man: He creeps away to a meeting with his own sensations.’

‘He feels himself shrink into nothing when contemplating other people’s means of working. When he looks upon their ends he expands with triumph.’

‘There is no more painful lesson to be learnt by a man of capacious mind than that of excluding general knowledge for particular.’

‘The defects of a class are more perceptible to the class immediately below it than to itself.’

‘June 6. Went to Hatfield. Changed since my early visit. A youth thought the altered highway had always run as it did. Pied rabbits in the Park, descendants of those I knew. The once children are quite old inhabitants. I regretted that the beautiful sunset did not occur in a place of no reminiscences, that I might have enjoyed it without their tinge.’

‘June 19. A widely appreciative mind mostly fails to achieve a great work from pure far-sightedness. The very clearness with which he discerns remote possibilities is, from its nature, scarcely ever co-existent with the microscopic vision demanded for tracing the narrow path that leads to them.’

‘July 13. A man’s grief has a touch of the ludicrous unless it is so keen as to be awful.’

‘Feb. 18. Remember that Evil dies as well as Good.’

‘April 29. Had the teachings of experience grown cumulatively with the age of the world we should have been ere now as great as God.’



1867-1870: Aet. 27-30

End of Summer 1867

A few weeks in the country — where he returned to his former custom of walking to the Dorchester architect’s office from his mother’s house every day — completely restored him. He easily fell into the routine that he had followed before, though, with between five and six years superadded of experience as a young man at large in London, it was with very different ideas of things.

Among the churches for restoration or rebuilding that Hicks had in hand, or in prospect, was one which should be named here — that of the parish of St. Juliot in Cornwall — for which remote spot Mr. Hicks set out one day to report upon the said building, shortly after Hardy had gone back to help him. Hardy noticed the romantic name of the church and parish — but had no idea of the meaning it would have for him in aftertime.

An effect among others of his return to the country was to take him out of the fitful yet mechanical and monotonous existence that befalls many a young man in London lodgings. Almost suddenly he became more practical, and queried of himself definitely how to achieve some tangible result from his desultory yet strenuous labours at literature during the previous four years. He considered that he knew fairly well both West-country life in its less explored recesses and the life of an isolated student cast upon the billows of London with no protection but his brains — the young man of whom it may be said more truly than perhaps of any, that ‘save his own soul he hath no star’. The two contrasting experiences seemed to afford him abundant materials out of which to evolve a striking socialistic novel — not that he mentally defined it as such, for the word had probably never, or scarcely ever, been heard of at that date.

So down he sat in one of the intervals of his attendances at Mr.

Hicks’s drawing-office (which were not regular), and, abandoning verse as a waste of labour — though he had resumed it awhile on arriving in the country — he began the novel the title of which is here written as it was at first intended to be:


A Story with no Plot

Containing some original verses

This, however, he plainly did not like, for it was ultimately abridged to


By the Poor Man

And the narrative was proceeded with till, in October of this year (1867), he paid a flying visit to London to fetch his books and other impedimenta.

Thus it happened that under the stress of necessity he had set about a kind of literature in which he had hitherto taken but little interest — prose fiction; so little indeed, that at one of the brief literary lectures, or speeches, he had occasionally delivered to Blomfield’s pupils in a spare half-hour of an afternoon, he had expressed to their astonishment an indifference to a popular novelist’s fame.

1868. January 16 and Onwards We find from an entry in a note-book that on this date he began to make a fair copy of the projected story, so that all of it must have been written out roughly during the five preceding months in the intervals of his architectural work for Hicks. In the February following a memorandum shows that he composed a lyric entitled ‘A Departure by Train’, which has disappeared. In April he was reading Browning and Thackeray; also taking down the exact sound of the song of the nightingale — the latter showing that he must have been living in sylvan shades at his parents’, or at least sleeping there, at the time, where nightingales sang within a yard of the bedroom windows in those days, though they do not now.

On June 9 he enters, ‘Finished copying MS.’, and on the 17th is recorded at some length the outline of a narrative poem on the Battle of the Nile. It was never finished, but it shows that the war with Napoleon was even then in his mind as material for poetry of some sort.

On July 1 he writes down — in all likelihood after a time of mental depression over his work and prospects:

‘Cures for despair:

‘To read Wordsworth’s “Resolution and Independence”.

“„ Stuart Mill’s “Individuality” (in Liberty).

„ „ Carlyle’s “Jean Paul Richter”.’

On July 17 he writes: ‘Perhaps I can do a volume of poems consisting of the other side of common emotions’. What this means is not quite clear.

On July 25 he posted the MS. of The Poor Man and the Lady to Mr. Alexander Macmillan, and now being free of it, lent some more help to Mr. Hicks in his drawings for church-restorations, reading the Seventh Book of the Aeneid between whiles.

‘August 12. A reply from Macmillan on the MS.’

The letter was a very long and interesting one, and is printed in full in the Letters of Alexander Macmillan. The well-known publisher begins by stating that he had read the novel ‘with care, and with much interest and admiration, but feeling at the same time that it has what seem to me drawbacks fatal to its success, and what I think, judging the writer from the book itself, you would feel even more strongly, to its truthfulness and justice’.

He then went into particulars of criticism. ‘The utter heartless - ness of all the conversation you give in drawing-rooms and ballrooms about the working-classes has some ground of truth, I fear, and might justly be scourged as you aim at doing; but your chastisement would fall harmless from its very excess. Will’s speech to the working men is full of wisdom. . . .

‘Much of the writing seems to me admirable. The scene in Rotten Row is full of power and insight. . . . You see I am writing to you as a writer who seems to me, at least potentially, of considerable mark, of power and purpose. If this is your first book I think you ought to go on. May I ask if it is, and — you are not a lady, so perhaps you will forgive the question — are you young?

‘I have shown your MS. to one friend, whose judgment coincides with my own.’

The opinion of the friend — who was Mr. John Morley — was enclosed. He said that the book was ‘A very curious and original performance: the opening pictures of the Christmas-eve in the tranter’s house are really of good quality: much of the writing is strong and fresh’. But he added as to its faults that ‘the thing hangs too loosely together’, and that some of the scenes were wildly extravagant, ‘so that they read like some clever lad’s dream’. He wound up by saying, ‘If the man is young he has stuff and purpose in him’.

It was perhaps not usual for a first haphazard attempt at fiction to receive such close attention from so experienced a publisher as Mr. Macmillan, and so real a man of letters as Mr. Morley. However, Hardy seems to have done little in the matter during the autumn, beyond rewriting some of the pages; but in December he paid a flying visit to London, and saw Mr. Macmillan.

The substance of the interview was that though The Poor Man and the Lady, if printed, might create a considerable curiosity, it was a class of book which Macmillan himself could not publish; but if Hardy were bent on issuing it he would probably have no difficulty in doing so through another firm, such as that of Chapman and Hall. The young man, it is assumed, was so bent, for Mr. Macmillan gave him an introduction to Mr. Frederick Chapman, and Hardy called on the latter with the MS. under his arm. He makes a note on December 8 that he had been to see Chapman, adding: ‘I fear the interview was an unfortunate one’. He returned to Dorchester, leaving the MS. in Mr. Chapman’s hands, and this brought the year to an unsatisfactory close — so far as it affected Hardy’s desire to get into print as the author of a three-volume novel, since he could not do so as a poet without paying for publication.

In the midst of these attempts at authorship, and the intermittent preparation of architectural drawings, Hardy found time to read a good many books. The only reference discoverable includes various plays of Shakespeare, Walpole’s Letters to Sir Horace Mann in six volumes, Thackeray, Macaulay, Walt Whitman, Virgil’s Aeneid (of which he never wearied), and other books during his interval of leisure.

The following note, amongst others, occurs in his pocket-book this autumn:

‘The village sermon. If it was very bad the parish concluded that he [the vicar] wrote it himself; if very good, that his wife wrote it; if middling, that he bought it, so that they could have a nap without offending him.’ What parish this refers to is unknown.

There is also another note, some days later:

‘How people will laugh in the midst of a misery! Some would soon get to whistle in Hell.’


Presumably it was the uncertainty of his position between architecture and literature, and a vague sense of ominousness at getting no reply (so far as can be ascertained) from Messrs. Chapman and Hall, that led Hardy to London again during the January of the new year.

Suggestions that he should try his hand at articles in reviews were made to him by Mr. Macmillan, and also by the critic of his manuscript, Mr. Morley, with whom he got acquainted about this time, Morley offering him an introduction to the editor of The Saturday Review. But Hardy was not so much in want of a means of subsistence — having always his father’s house to fall back upon in addition to architectural jobs which were offered him readily by Blomfield and other London architects — as of a clear call to him which course in life to take — the course he loved, and which was his natural instinct, that of letters, or the course all practical wisdom dictated, that of architecture.

He stayed on in London lodgings, studying pictures at the South Kensington Museum and other places, and reading desultorily, till at last a letter did arrive from Chapman and Hall. On his calling at their address in Piccadilly Chapman was in the back part of the shop, and on Hardy’s joining him said with nonchalance, ignoring Hardy’s business, ‘You see that old man talking to my clerk? He’s Thomas Carlyle.’ Hardy turned and saw leaning on one elbow at the clerk’s desk an aged figure in an inverness cape and slouched hat. ‘Have a good look at him,’ continued Chapman. ‘You’ll be glad I pointed him out to you some day.’ Hardy was rather surprised that Chapman did not think enough of Thomas Carlyle to attend to his wants in person, but said nothing.

The publisher stated they could not purchase the MS. outright, but that they would publish it if he would guarantee a small sum against loss — say £20. The offer on the whole was fair and reasonable: Hardy agreed to the guarantee, Chapman promised to put the book in hand and to send a memorandum of his undertaking to publish it; and Hardy shortly after left London, expecting proof - sheets soon to be forwarded.

As they did not come he may have written to inquire about them; anyhow Messrs. Chapman suddenly asked him in a note if he would call on them and meet ‘the gentleman who read your manuscript’ — whose opinion they would like him to have.

He went in March, by appointment as to the day and hour, it is believed, not knowing that the ‘gentleman’ was George Meredith. He was shown into a back room of the publishing offices (opposite Sackville Street, and where Prince’s Restaurant now stands); and before him, in the dusty and untidy apartment, piled with books and papers, was a handsome man in a frock-coat — ‘buttoned at the waist, but loose above’ — no other than Meredith in person, his ample dark - brown beard, wavy locks, and somewhat dramatic manner lending him a striking appearance to the younger man’s eye, who even then did not know his name.

Meredith had the manuscript in his hand, and began lecturing Hardy upon it in a sonorous voice. No record was kept by the latter of their conversation, but the gist of it he remembered very well. It was that the firm were willing to publish the novel as agreed, but that he, the speaker, strongly advised its author not to ‘ nail his colours to the mast’ so definitely in a first book, if he wished to do anything practical in literature; for if he printed so pronounced a thing he would be attacked on all sides by the conventional reviewers, and his future injured. The story was, in fact, a sweeping dramatic satire of the squirearchy and nobility, London society, the vulgarity of the middle class, modern Christianity, church-restoration, and political and domestic morals in general, the author’s views, in fact, being obviously those of a young man with a passion for reforming the world — those of many a young man before and after him; the tendency of the writing being socialistic, not to say revolutionary; yet not argumentatively so, the style having the affected simplicity of Defoe’s (which had long attracted Hardy, as it did Stevenson, years later, to imitation of it). This naive realism in circumstantial details that were pure inventions was so well assumed that both Macmillan and Morley had been perhaps a little, or more than a little, deceived by its seeming actuality; to Hardy’s surprise, when he thought the matter over in later years, that his inexperienced imagination should have created figments that could win credence from such experienced heads.

The satire was obviously pushed too far — as sometimes in Swift and Defoe themselves — and portions of the book, apparently taken in earnest by both his readers, had no foundation either in Hardv’ s beliefs or his experience. One instance he could remember was a chapter in which, with every circumstantial detail, he described in the first person his introduction to the kept mistress of an architect who ‘took in washing’ (as it was called in the profession) — that is, worked at his own office for other architects — the said mistress adding to her lover’s income by designing for him the pulpits, altars, reredoses, texts, holy vessels, crucifixes, and other ecclesiastical furniture which were handed on to him by the nominal architects who employed her protector — the lady herself being a dancer at a music - hall when not engaged in designing Christian emblems — all told so plausibly as to seem actual proof of the degeneracy of the age.

Whatever might have been the case with the other two, Meredith was not taken in by the affected simplicity of the narrative, and that was obviously why he warned his young acquaintance that the press would be about his ears like hornets if he published his manuscript. For though the novel might have been accepted calmly enough by the reviewers and public in these days, in genteel mid-Victorian 1869 it would no doubt have incurred, as Meredith judged, severe strictures which might have handicapped a young writer for a long time. It may be added that the most important scenes were laid in London, of which city Hardy had just had between five and six years’ constant and varied experience — as only a young man at large in the metropolis can get it — knowing every street and alley west of St. Paul’s like a born Londoner, which he was often supposed to be; an experience quite ignored by the reviewers of his later books, who, if he only touched on London in his pages, promptly reminded him not to write of a place he was unacquainted with, but to get back to his sheepfolds.

The upshot of this interview was that Hardy took away the MS. with him to decide on a course.

Meredith had added that Hardy could rewrite the story, softening it down considerably; or what would be much better, put it away altogether for the present, and attempt a novel with a purely artistic purpose, giving it a more complicated ‘plot’ than was attempted with The Poor Man and the Lady.

Thus it happened that a first and probably very crude manuscript by an unknown young man, who had no connection with the press, or with literary circles, was read by a most experienced publisher, and by two authors among the most eminent in letters of their time. Also that they had been interested to more than an average degree in his work, as was shown by their wish to see him, and their voluntary bestowal of good counsel. Except the writer himself, these three seem to have been the only ones whose eyes ever scanned the MS.

It was surprising enough to Hardy to find that, in the opinion of such experienced critics, he had written so aggressive and even dangerous a work (Mr. Macmillan had said it ‘meant mischief’) almost without knowing it, for his mind had been given in the main to poetry and other forms of pure literature. What he did with the MS. is uncertain, and he could not precisely remember in after years, though he found a few unimportant leaves of it — now also gone. He fancied that he may have sent it to some other publisher just as it stood, to get another opinion before finally deciding its fate, which publisher may have thought it too risky also. What happened in respect of new writing was that he took Meredith’s advice too literally, and set about constructing the eminently ‘sensational’ plot of Desperate Remedies, of which anon.

Meanwhile, during his stay in London in the winter, Hardy heard news of the death at Dorchester of Mr. John Hicks, whose pupil he had been, and whom he had lately assisted; and at the end of April received a request from Mr. G. R. Crickmay, an architect of Weymouth, who had purchased Mr. Hicks’s practice, to aid him in carrying out the church-restorations that Hicks had begun, or undertaken to begin. Hardy called on Mr. Crickmay, who appeared not to have studied Gothic architecture specially, if at all, but was an amiable, straight-dealing man; and Hardy assented to help him finish the churches. Probably thinking of his book, he agreed for a fortnight only in the first place, though Mr. Crickmay had asked for a longer time.

During May Hardy continued to prepare for Crickmay, in Hicks’s old Dorchester office, the church-drawings he had already made some progress with; and the arrangement proved eminently satisfactory, as is evident, Mr. Crickmay proposing to enlist Hardy’s services for three months certain at his Weymouth office, the church-work left, unfinished by Hicks turning out to be more than had been anticipated It is to be gathered that Hardy considered this brief occupation would afford, at any rate, breathing-time while he should ruminate on what it was best to do about the writing of the novels, and he closed with Crickmay for a term which was afterwards still further lengthened by unforeseen circumstances.

He used to remember that after coming away from the interview with Crickmay with much lightness of heart at having shelved further thought about himself for at least three months, he stood opposite the Burdon Hotel on the Esplanade, facing the beautiful sunlit bay, and listened to the Town band’s performance of a set of charming new waltzes by Johann Strauss. He inquired their name, and found that it was the ‘Morgenblatter’. The verses ‘At a Seaside Town’ must refer in their background to this place at this time and a little onward, though the gist of them can be fancy only.

He now became regularly resident at Weymouth, and took lodgings there, rowing in the bay almost every evening of this summer, and bathing at seven in the morning either on the pebble-beach towards Preston, or diving off from a boat. Being — like Swinburne — a swimmer, he would lie a long time on his back on the surface of the waves, rising and falling with the tide in the warmth of the morning sun. He used to tell that, after the enervation of London, this tonic existence by the sea seemed ideal, and that physically he went back ten years in his age almost as by the touch of an enchanter’s wand.

In August or September a new assistant came to Mr. Crickmay’s drawing-offices, who was afterwards sketched in Desperate Remedies as ‘Edward Springrove’ — and in November this young man persuaded Hardy to join a quadrille class in the town, which was a source of much amusement to them both. Dancing was still an art in those days, though Hardy remarked once that he found the young ladies of Weymouth heavier on the arm than their London sisters. By the time that winter drew on he had finished all the drawings for church - restoration that had been placed in his hands, but he remained at his Weymouth lodgings, working at the MS. of Desperate Remedies, the melodramatic novel, quite below the level of The Poor Man and the Lady, which was the unfortunate consequence of Meredith’s advice to ‘write a story with a plot’.

A Development So 1869 passed, and at the beginning of February in the year following Hardy gave up his rooms at Weymouth and returned to his rural home to be able to concentrate more particularly on the MS. than he could do in a lively town and as a member of a dancing-class where a good deal of flirtation went on, the so-called ‘class’ being, in fact, a gay gathering for dances and love-making by adepts of both sexes. The poem entitled ‘The Dawn after the Dance’, and dated ‘Weymouth, 1869’, is supposed, though without proof, to have some bearing on these dances.

He had not been in the seclusion of his mother’s house more than a week when he received the following letter from Mr. Crickmay, which, as it led to unexpected emotional developments, it may be worth while to give verbatim:

‘Weymouth, ‘ nth February, 1870.

‘Dear Sir:

‘Can you go into Cornwall for me, to take a plan and particulars of a church I am about to rebuild there? It must be done early next week, and I should be glad to see you on Monday morning. — Yours tru,y’’G. R. Crickmay.’

This was the church of St. Juliot, near Boscastle, of which Hardy had vaguely heard in Mr. John Hicks’s time as being likely to turn up for manipulation, and had been struck by its romantic sound. Despite the somewhat urgent summons he declined the job, the moment being inconvenient with the new novel in hand. But receiving a more persuasive request from Crickmay later, and having finished the MS. of Desperate Remedies (except the three or four final chapters) by the beginning of March, he agreed to go on the errand.

Sending off, therefore, on the previous Saturday the copy of his second novel to Mr. Alexander Macmillan, whom he now regarded as a friend, he set out on Monday, March 7, for the remote parish mentioned, in a county he had never entered, though it was not distant. It was a journey of seeming unimportance, and was reluctantly undertaken, yet it turned out to have lifelong consequences for him. The restoration of this church was, moreover, the work which brought to a close Hardy’s labours in Gothic architecture, though he did not know it at the time.

Though the distance was not great the way was tedious, there being few railways in Cornwall at this date. Rising at four in the morning, and starting by starlight from his country retreat, armed with sketch-book, measuring-tape, and rule, he did not reach Launces - ton till four in the afternoon, where he hired a conveyance for the additional sixteen or seventeen miles’ distance by the Boscastle road towards the north coast, and the spot with the charming name — the dilapidated church, parish, and residence of the Rev. Caddell Holder, M.A. Oxon.

It was a cloudy evening at the end of a fine day, with a dry breeze blowing; and leaving the Boscastle highway by a by-road to the left he reached St. Juliot Rectory, by which time it was quite dark. His arrival and entry can best be described in the words of the lady whom he met that night for the first time, and who later on became his wife. Long afterwards she wrote down het: ‘Recollections’,

which are given in the following pages in full so far as they relate to her husband, these making up the whole of the second half of her manuscript, the first half being entirely concerned with other members of her family and herself before she knew him.

She was born at 10 York Street, Plymouth, and baptized at St. Andrew’s Church, being the younger daughter of Mr. J. Attersoll Gifford, a solicitor. She had grown up in a house close to the Hoe, which she used to call’ the playground of her childhood’. She would relate how, to her terror at first, she was daily dipped as a little girl in the pools under the Hoe; and on its cliffs — very much more rugged than now — had had her youthful adventures, one of which, leaving her clinging to a crag, would have cost her her life but for the timely aid of a kind boatman. Her education was carried on at a school for young ladies also overlooking the Hoe’s green slopes, where, to use her own words, ‘military drills took place on frequent mornings, and then our dear instructress drew down the blinds’. At nineteen she removed from Plymouth with her parents.



1870: Aet. 29-30

The Latter Part of Mrs. (Emma Lavinia) Hardy’s MS., found after her Death, and entitled ‘Some Recollections’

[The words in square brackets are added to make the allusions intelligible]

‘My only sister married the Rev. Caddell Holder, son of a Judge of Barbadoes, where he was born: he often spoke of his beautiful home there, with oranges growing by his bedroom window. At Trinity College, Oxford, he was a “gentleman-commoner” (this is now abolished), where so far as he could discover his only privilege [from the distinction] was being allowed to walk upon the grass and wear a gold-tasselled cap, he used to say. He was rector of St. Juliot, North Cornwall, where I [first] knew him; and it was there that my husband made my acquaintance, which afterwards proved a romance in full for us. . . .

‘[He was] a man older than herself by many years, and somewhat delicate because of his West Indian birth; he was, however, energetic, and a very Boanerges in his preaching, which style was greatly relished by the simple folk of his scattered parish. In those days clergymen were [often] very lax in their duties, but he was quite exact and faithful, and [after I went to live there with my sister] we were marshalled off in regular staff style to the services. On Sundays they were two only, and the choir nil — the whole being carried out by the parson, his wife, myself, and the clerk. The congregation were mostly silent, or merely murmuring occasionally. The duty, however, was only arduous on Sundays.

‘They were married from our home, and immediately after went to his — and I went with them — to the said St. Juliot Rectory. My sister required my help, for it was a difficult parish, from neglect by a former incumbent, whose wife, however, had done as much as she could, even to ringing the bell for service.

‘At this date [of writing, i.e. 1911] it seems as if all had been arranged in orderly sequence for me, link after link occurring in a chain of movements to bring me to the point where my own fortunes came on.

‘St. Juliot is a romantic spot indeed of North Cornwall. It was sixteen miles away from a station then, [and a place] where the belief in witchcraft was carried out in actual practice among the primitive inhabitants. Traditions and strange gossipings [were] the common talk . . . indulged in by those isolated natives [of a parish] where newspapers rarely penetrated, or [were] thrown aside for local news; where new books rarely came, or strangers, and where hard labour upon the stony soil made a cold, often ill-natured, working class; yet with some good traits and fine exceptions. Our neighbours beyond the hamlets were nine miles off, or most of them.

‘When we arrived at the Rectory there was a great gathering and welcome from the parishioners, and a tremendous fusilade of salutes, cheering, and bell-ringing — quite a hubbub to welcome the Rector home with his new wife. Then these welcomers (all men and nearly all young) came into the hall to drink the healths of bridegroom and bride, and a speech was made by the foremost young farmer and duly replied to by my brother-in-law. ... It proved indeed an eventful day for me, for my future was bound up in that day in a way which I could not foresee.

‘The whole parish seemed delighted with the event and the prospect of having things in better order after the long neglect. . . . Riding about on my Fanny [her pony] I enjoyed the place immensely, ana helped my sister in the house affairs, visiting the parish folk, and playing the harmonium on Sundays. . . .

‘It was a very poor parish; the church had been a long while out of repair for want of funds; the Patron lived abroad: in contrast with these days of frequent services [and attendance] it was unfrequented, the Sunday congregation in the morning not large, not much larger in the evenings [afternoons]. No week-day services were held. The tower went on cracking from year to year, and the bells remained in the little north transept [to which they had been removed for safety], their mouths open upward. The carved bench - ends rotted more and more, the ivy hung gaily from the roof timbers, and the birds and the bats had a good time up there unmolested; no one seemed to care. The Architect continued delaying and delaying to come or send his head man to begin operations, though my sister was active in the matter, both Patron and Architect getting urgent appeals from her, till the former decided at last tocommence.

‘It was the period of Church restoration, most churches being dilapidated more or less. My life now began. . . .

‘Scarcely any author and his wife could have had a much more romantic meeting, with its unusual circumstances in bringing them together from two different, though neighbouring counties to this one at this very remote spot, with a beautiful sea-coast, and the wild Atlantic Ocean rolling in with its magnificent waves and spray, its white gulls, and black choughs and grey puffins, its cliffs and rocks and gorgeous sunsettings, sparkling redness in a track widening from the horizon to the shore. All this should be seen in the winter to be truly appreciated. No summer visitors can have a true idea of its power to awaken heart and soul. [It was] an unforgettable experience to me, scampering up and down the hills on my beloved mare alone, wanting no protection, the rain going down my back often, and my hair floating on the wind.

‘I wore a soft deep dark coloured brown habit longer than to my heels, (as worn then), which had to be caught up to one side when walking, and thrown over the left arm gracefully and carefully, and this to be practised during the riding instruction — all of which my father [had] taught me with great pleasure and pride in my appearance and aptitude. I also wore a brown felt hat turned up at the sides. Fanny and I were one creature, and very happy. She was a lovely brown colour too, stopping where she liked, to drink or munch, I often getting off sketching and gathering flowers. The villagers stopped to gaze when I rushed down the hills, and a butterman laid down his basket once to exclaim loudly. No one except myself dared to ride in such fashion.

‘Sometimes I left Fanny, and clambered down to the rocks and seal-caves. Sometimes I visited a favourite in the scattered parish. . . .

‘When it was known that the Church-restoration was to be gone on with, the whole village was alive about it. Mr. Crickmay of Weymouth undertook it — Mr. Hicks, the first architect consulted, having died in the interval. The [assistant-architect] of his office was to come on a certain day. The letter that brought this intelligence interested the whole house, and afterwards, later in the day, the whole parish too; it seemed almost wonderful that a fixed date should at last be given and the work set in hand, after so many years of waiting, of difficulties, and delays, since back in the time of the previous incumbent. All were delighted. I had myself worked hard for my brother-in-law, collecting small sums from time to time and selling water-colour sketches I had painted, and saving household expenses in order that the historic old church might be rebuilt — there being no landed proprietor, no “equals” in the parish (as the rector often explained plaintively). So we were all ready to see the fruition of our endeavours, that is, my sister’s and mine particularly.

‘I must confess to a curiosity started by the coming event as to what the Architect would be like; seeing few strangers we had a vivid interest in every one who came: a strange clergyman, an occasional locum-tenens, a school-inspector, a stray missionary, or school - lecturer — all were welcome, including this architect to put us to rights at once.

‘It was a, lovely Monday evening in March , after a wild winter, that we were on the qui-vive for the stranger,1 who would have a tedious journey, his home being two counties off by the route necessitated changing trains many times, and waiting at stations, a sort of cross-jump journey like a chess-knight’s move. The only damp to our gladness was the sudden laying up of my brother-in-law by gout, and he who was the chief person could not be present on the arrival of our guest. The dinner-cloth was laid; my sister had gone to her husband who required her constant attention. At that very moment the front-door bell rang, and the architect was ushered in. I had to receive him alone, and felt a curious uneasy embarrassment at receiving anyone, especially so necessary a person as the architect. I was immediately arrested by his familiar appearance, as if I had seen him in a dream — his slightly different accent, his soft voice; also I noticed a blue paper sticking out of his pocket. I was explaining who I was, as I saw that he took me for the parson’s daughter or wife, when my sister appeared, to my great relief, and he went up to Mr. Holder’s room with her.

‘So I met my husband. I thought him much older than he was. He had a beard, and a rather shabby greatcoat, and had quite a business appearance. Afterwards he seemed younger, and by daylight especially so. . . . The blue paper proved to be the MS. of a poem, and not a plan of the church, he informed me, to my surprise.

‘After this our first meeting there had to be many visits to the church, and these visits, of deep interest to both, merged in those of 1 The verses entitled ‘A Man was drawing near to Me’ obviously relate to this arrival. But in them Hardy assumes that she was not thinking about his coming, though from this diary one gathers that she was; which seems to show that when writing them he had either not read her reminiscence of the evening as printed above, or had forgotten it.

further acquaintance and affection, to end in marriage, but not till after four years.

‘At first, though I was interested in him, the church-matters were paramount, and in due time I laid the foundation stone one morning [for the aisle and tower that were to be rebuilt]; with a bottle containing a record of the proceedings, the school-children attending. I plastered it well, the foreman said. Mr. Holder made a speech to the young ones to remember the event and speak of it to their descendants — just as if it had been a matter of world-wide interest. I wonder if they do remember it, and me.

‘The work went rapidly on under the direction of the Architect, who had stayed on his first visit rather longer than intended. We showed him some of the neighbourhood, some clergymen and their wives came to visit us: we were all much pleased at the beginning. Mr. Holder got well again. The Patron of the living, who lived in Antigua, wrote to inquire about it; an account was duly sent, and he replied that he was coming to see it if he could, and would certainly be at the opening.

‘My Architect came two or three times a year from that time to visit me. I rode my pretty mare Fanny and he walked by my side, and I showed him some [more] of the neighbourhood — the cliffs, along the roads, and through the scattered hamlets, sometimes gazing down at the solemn small shores below, where the seals lived, coming out of great deep caverns very occasionally. We sketched and talked of books; often we walked to Boscastle Harbour down the beautiful Vallency Valley where we had to jump over stones and climb over a low wall by rough steps, or get through a narrow pathway, to come out on great wide spaces suddenly, with a sparkling little brook going the same way, in which we once lost a tiny picnic-tumbler, and there it is to this day no doubt between two of the boulders.1

‘Sometimes we all drove to Tintagel, and Trebarwith Strand where donkeys [word illegible] employed to carry seaweed to the farmers; Strangles Beach also, Bossiney, Bude, and other places on the coast. Lovely drives they were, with sea-views all along at intervals, and very dawdling enjoyable slow ones; sometimes to visit a neighbouring clergyman and his family. We grew much interested in each other. I found him a perfectly new subject of study and delight and he found a “mine” in me he said. He was quite unlike any other person who came to see us, for they were slow of speech and ideas.

‘In the intervals of his visits we corresponded, and I studied, and sketched, and drove my brother-in-law and sister to the nearest market - 1 This incident was versified by Hardy afterwards, and entitled ‘ Under the Waterfall”.

town, Camelford, nine miles off, or to Launceston to see my cousins. The man-servant taught me to jump hurdles on Fanny, but Fanny, though not at all objecting, got a little lame, so we stopped jumping.

‘I like to think of those details and small events, and am fancying some other people may like to have them.

‘It was a pleasant time, though there were difficulties in the parish. I have never liked the Cornish working-orders as I do Devonshire folk; their so-called admirable independence of character was most disagreeable to live with, and usually amounted to absence of kindly interest in others, though it was unnoticeable by casual acquaintance. . . . Nevertheless their nature had a glamour about it — that of an old-world romantic expression; and then sometimes there came to one’s cognizance in the hamlets a dear heart-whole person.

‘So the days went on between the visits. The church-opening was somewhat impressive, the element of unusualness being more conspicuous however by the immense numbers of people outside waiting for it to be over and the lunch to begin, than the many attentive and admiring parishioners within, collected imperatively by the rector’s wife and himself. Mr. Holder was in a good state of health and spirits; my sister was very important. The patron of the living, the Rev. Richard Rawle, [who owned land in the parish, and was about this time consecrated as Bishop of Trinidad] was present; but no architect came on that brilliant occasion.1 He appeared, however, on the same scene from time to time afterwards.

‘I had two pleasant changes — one to stay at Bath with an old friend of the family; and when my chosen came there too, by her kindness, we had together an interesting time. And I went as country cousin to my brother in London, and was duly astonished, which gave him even more pleasure than it did me.

‘After a little time I copied a good deal of manuscript, which went to and fro by post, and I was very proud and happy doing this — which I did in the privacy of my own room, where I also read and wrote the letters.

‘The rarity ‘of the visits made them highly delightful to both; we talked much of plots, possible scenes, tales and poetry, and of his own work. He came either from Dorset or London, driving from Launceston station eighteen [sixteen and a half] miles off.

‘The day we were married was a perfect September day — the 17th of the month — 1874, — not of brilliant sunshine, but wearing a soft sunny luminousness; just as it should be.

1 Neither Hardy nor Crickmay was able to attend, for some unknown reason.

‘I have had various experiences, interesting some, sad others, since that lovely day, but all showing that an Unseen Power of great benevolence directs my ways; I have some philosophy, and mysti - cism, and an ardent belief in Christianity and the life beyond this present one, all which makes any existence curiously interesting. As one watches happenings (and even if should occur unhappy happenings), outward circumstances are of less importance if Christ is our highest ideal. A strange unearthly brilliance shines around our path, penetrating and dispersing difficulties with its warmth and glow.

‘E. L. Hardy.

‘Max Gate. January 4th, 1911.’1

This transcript from the first Mrs. Hardy’s ‘Recollections’ (of the existence of which he was unaware till after her death) has carried us onward four years further than the date of Thomas Hardy’s arrival in Cornwall on that evening of March 1870. He himself entered in a memorandum-book a few rough notes of his visit, and from these we are able to glean vaguely his impressions of the experience.

It is apparent that he was soon, if not immediately, struck by the nature and appearance of the lady who received him. She was so living, he used to say. Though her features were not regular her complexion at this date was perfect in hue, her figure and movement graceful, and her corn-coloured hair abundant in its coils.

It may be mentioned here that the story A Pair of Blue Eyes (which Hardy himself classes among his Romances and Fantasies — as if to suggest its visionary nature) has been considered to show a picture of his own personality as the architect on this visit. But in addition to Hardy’s own testimony there is proof that this is not the case, he having ever been shy of putting his personal characteristics into his novels. The Adonis depicted was known to be both in appearance and temperament an idealization of a pupil whom Hardy found at Mr. John Hicks’s on his return there temporarily from London; a nephew of that architect, and exactly of the age attributed to Stephen Smith. He is represented as altogether more youthful and sanguine in nature than Hardy, a thoughtful man of twenty-nine, with years of London buffeting and architectural and literary experiences, was at this time. Many of his verses with which readers have since grown familiar in JVessex Poems had already been written. Stephen Smith’s father was a mason in Hardy’s father’s employ, combined with one near Boscastle, while Smith’s ingenious mode of being 1 It will be seen later that she died the year after this was written.

tutored in Latin was based on a story Hardy had from Holder, as that of a man he had known. Its practicability is, however, doubtful, Henry Knight the reviewer, Elfride’s second lover, was really much more like Thomas Hardy as described in his future wife’s diary just given; while th° event of the young man arriving as a town-stranger at a village with which he was quite familiar, and the catastrophe that ensued when his familiarity with it was discovered, was an experience of an uncle of his, of which the dramatic possibilities had long arrested him. His own wooing in the ‘Delectable Duchy’ ran, in fact, without a hitch from beginning to end, and with encouragement from all parties concerned.

But the whole story, except as to the lonely drive across the hills towards the coast, the architectural detail, and a few other external scenes and incidents, is so at variance with any possible facts as to be quite misleading, Hardy’s wilful purpose in his early novels until Far from the Madding Crowd appeared, if not later, having been to mystify the reader as to their locality, origin, and authorship by various interchanges and inventions, probably owing at first to his doubt if he would pursue the craft, and his sense of the shadow that would fall on an architect who had failed as a novelist. He modified the landscape, and called the Rectory a vicarage in early editions, showing a church with the sea visible from it, which was not true of St. Juliot. The character and appearance of Elfride have points in common with those of Mrs. Hardy in quite young womanhood, a few years before Hardy met her (though her eyes would have been described as deep grey, not as blue); moreover, like Elfride, the moment she was on a horse she was part of the animal. But this is all that can be asserted, the plot of the story being one that he had thought of and written down long before he knew her.

What he says about the visit is laconic and hurried, but interesting enough to be given here:

‘March 7. The dreary yet poetical drive over the hills. Arrived at St. Juliot Rectory between 6 and 7. Received by young lady in brown (Miss Gifford, the rector’s sister-in-law). Mr. Holder gout. Saw Mrs. Holder. The meal. Talk. To Mr. Holder’s room. Returned downstairs. Music.

‘March 8. Austere grey view of hills from bedroom window. A funeral. Man tolled the bell (which stood inverted on the ground in the neglected transept) by lifting the clapper and letting it fall against the side. Five bells stood thus in a row (having been taken down from the cracked tower for safety). Staying there drawing jnd measuring all day, with intervals for meals at rectory.

‘March 9. Drove with Mrs. Holder and Miss Gifford to Boscastle, and on to Tintagel and Penpethy slate-quarries, with a view to the church roofing. Mr. Symons accompanied us to the quarries. Mr. Symons did not think himself a native; he was only born there. Now Mrs. Symons was a native; her family had been there 500 years. Talked about Douglas Cook coming home [the first editor of the Saturday Review, whom the Holders had known; buried on the hill above Tintagel]. . . . Music in the evening. The two ladies sang duets, including “The Elfin Call”, “Let us dance on the sands”, etc. . • • Miss Gifford said that a man asked her for “a drop o’ that that isn’t gin, please, Miss”. He meant hollands, which they kept at the Rectory, as he knew.

‘March 10. Went with E. L. G. to Beeny Cliff. She on horseback. ... On the cliff. . . . “The tender grace of a day”, etc. The run down to the edge. The coming home.

‘In the afternoon I walked to Boscastle, Mrs. H. and E. L. G. accompanying me three-quarters of the way: the overshot mill: E. provokingly reading as she walked; evening in garden; music later in evening.

‘March 11. Dawn. Adieu. E. L. G. had struck a light six times in her anxiety to call the servants early enough for me. The journey home. Photo of Bishop of Exeter (for Mrs. Holder). . . .’

The poem entitled ‘At the Word “Farewell”‘ seems to refer either to this or the following visit; and the one called ‘ When I set out for Lyonnesse’ refers certainly to this first visit, it having been his custom to apply the name ‘Lyonnesse’ to the whole of Cornwall. The latter poem, it may be mentioned, was hailed by a distant voice from the West of America as his sweetest lyric, an opinion from which he himself did not dissent.

‘March 12. (Sat.) Went to Weymouth. Mr. Crickmay’s account £6:10: 9.’

On April 5, having resumed lodgings at Weymouth, to proceed, probably, with the detailed drawings for the restoration of St. Juliot Church by the light of the survey and measurements he had made, Hardy received a letter from the Messrs. Macmillan declining to publish Desperate Remedies, the MS. of which they returned, on the ground (it is conjectured) of their disapproval of the incidents. By this time it seemed to have dawned upon him that the Macmillan publishing-house was not in the way of issuing novels of a sensational kind: and accordingly he packed up the MS. again and posted it to the Messrs. Tinsley, a firm to which he was a stranger, but which did publish such novels. Why he did not send it to Messrs. Chapman and Hall, with whom he had now a slight link, and whose reader, George Meredith, had recommended him to write what Hardy understood to be a story of this kind, is inexplicable. Possibly it was from an adventurous feeling that he would like the story to be judged on its own merits by a house which had no knowledge of how it came into existence; possibly from inexperience. Anyhow it was a mistake from which he suffered, for there is no doubt that Meredith would have taken an interest in a book he had, or was supposed to have, instigated; and would have offered some suggestions on how to make a better use of the good material at the back of the book. However, to Tinsley’s it had gone, and on May 6 Tinsley wrote, stating the terms on which he would publish it, if Hardy would complete the remaining three or four chapters of which a pricis only had been sent.

About the second week in May, and possibly as a result of the correspondence, Hardy left Mr. Crickmay (whose church-designing he appears to have airily used as something of a stop-gap when his own literary enterprises hung fire) and on the following Monday, the 16th, he started again for London — sadly, as he said, for he had left his heart in Cornwall.

‘May 18. Royal Academy. No. 118. “Death of Ney”, by Gerome. The presence of Death makes the picture great.

‘No. 985. “Jerusalem”, by the same. The shadows only of the three crucified ones are seen. A fine conception.’

He seems to have passed the days in Town desultorily and dreamily — mostly visiting museums and picture-galleries, and it is not clear what he was waiting for there. In his leisure he seems to have written the ‘Ditty’ in IVessex Poems, inscribed with Miss Gifford’s initials. In May he was reading Comte. Crossing Hyde Park one morning in June he saw the announcement of Dickens’s death. He was welcomed by Mr. Blomfield, to whom he lent help in finishing some drawings. Being acquainted with another well-known Gothic architect, Mr. Raphael Brandon, Hardy assisted him also for a few weeks, though not continuously.

Brandon was a man who interested him much. In collabouration with his brother David he had published, several years before, the Analysis of Gothic Architecture in two quarto volumes, and an extra volume on the Open Timber Roofs of the Middle Ages. Both these works were familiar to Hardy, having been quite text-books for architects’ pupils till latterly, when the absorbing interest given to French Gothic had caused them to be superseded by the works of Norman Shaw, Nesfield, and Viollet-le-Duc. Brandon, however, was convinced that the development of modern English architecture should be based on English Gothic and not on French, as was shown in his well-known design for the Catholic Apostolic Church in Gordon Square; and that his opinion was the true one was proved in the sequel, notwithstanding that the more fashionable architects, including Arthur Blomfield, were heart and soul of the other opinion at this date. It may have been partly on this account, partly because he was a ‘literary architect’ — a person always suspect in the profession in those days, Hardy used to say — that Brandon’s practice had latterly declined, and he had drifted into a backwater, spending much time in strange projects and hopes, one of these being a scheme for unifying railway-fares on the principle of letter-postage. Hardy was in something of a similar backwater himself — so far as there could be similarity in the circumstances of a man of twenty-nine and a man of sixty, and the old-world out-of-the-way corner of Clement’s Inn where Brandon’s offices were situate made his weeks with Brandon still more attractive to him, Knight’s chambers in A Pair of Blue Eyes being drawn from Brandon’s. Whilst the latter attended to his scheme for railway-travel, Hardy attended off and on to Brandon’s architecture, which had fallen behindhand. Sometimes Hardy helped him also in the details of his scheme; though, having proved to himself its utter futility, he felt in an awkward dilemma; whether to show Brandon its futility and offend him, or to go against his own conscience by indulging him in the hobby.

However, the summer was passed in this way, and his friend Horace Moule, the reviewer and leader-writer, being also in London, the time was pleasant enough. Nothing seems to have been done about the novel, of which the MS., representing about seven-eighths of the whole, was apparently still lying at Tinsley’s. He kept up a regular correspondence with ‘the young lady in brown’ who had attracted him at St. Juliot Rectory, and sent books to her, reading himself among other works Shakespeare and general poetry as usual, the Bible, Alison’s Europe, and Mohammed and Mohammedanism by Bosworth Smith, his friend in later years; though it does not appear that he wrote any verses.

‘June 30. What the world is saying, and what the world is thinking: It is the man who bases his action upon what the world is thinking, no matter what it may be saying, who rises to the top.

‘It is not by rushing straight towards fame that men come up with her, but by so adapting the direction of their path to hers that at some point ahead the two must inevitably intersect.’

On July 15 war was declared by France against Prussia — a cause of much excitement to Brandon, who during the early weeks of the struggle would go into the Strand for every edition of the afternoon papers as they came out, and bring them in and read them to Hardy, who grew as excited as he; though probably the younger man did not realise that, should England have become involved in the Continental strife, he might have been among the first to be called upon to serve, outside the regular Army. All he seems to have done was to go to a service at Chelsea Hospital and look at the tattered banners mended with netting, and talk to the old asthmatic and crippled men, many of whom in the hospital at that date had fought at Waterloo, and some in the Peninsula.

On August 6 occurred the Battle of Worth: and on the 8 th, in keeping with a promise given on his previous visit, he severed his temporary connection with Brandon and left for Cornwall.

Here, as he said, he found the ‘young lady in brown’ of the previous winter — at that time thickly muffled from the wind — to have become metamorphosed into a young lady in summer blue, which suited her fair complexion far better; and the visit was a most happy one. His hosts drove him to various picturesque points on the wild and rugged coast near the Rectory, among others to King Arthur’s Castle, Tintagel, which he now saw for the first time; and where, owing to their lingering too long among the ruins, they found themselves locked in, only narrowly escaping being imprisoned there for the night by much signalling with their handkerchiefs to cottagers in the valley. The lingering might have been considered prophetic, seeing that, after it had been smouldering in his mind for between forty and fifty years, he constructed The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall from the legends connected with that romantic spot. Why he did not do it sooner, while she was still living who knew the scene so well, and had frequently painted it, it is impossible to say.

H. M. Moule, who by this date knew of the vague understanding between the pair, sent them from time to time such of the daily and weekly papers as contained his leading articles on the war. Concerning such wars Hardy entered in his notebook: ‘ Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi!’ On the day that the bloody battle of Gravelotte was fought they were reading Tennyson in the grounds 0f the rectory. It was at this time and spot that Hardy was struck (,y the incident of the old horse harrowing the arable field in the valley below, which, when in far later years it was recalled to him by a still bloodier war, he made into the little poem of three verses entitled ‘In Time of “the Breaking of Nations’“. Several of the pieces — as is obvious — grouped as ‘Poems of 1912-13’the same volume with Satires of Circumstance, and three in Moments of Vision, namely, ‘The Figure in the Scene’, ‘Why did I sketch’, and ‘It never looks like Summer now’, with doubtless many others, are known to be also memories of the present and later sojourns here in this vague romantic land of’Lyonnesse’.

It was at this time, too, that he saw the last of St. Juliot Church in its original condition of picturesque neglect, the local builder laying hands on it shortly after, and razing to the ground the tower and the north aisle (which had hitherto been the nave), and the transept. Hardy much regretted the obliteration in this manner of the church’s history, and, too, that he should be instrumental in such obliteration, the building as he had first set eyes on it having been so associated with what was romantic in his life. Yet his instrumentality was involuntary, the decision to alter and diminish its area having been come to before he arrived on the scene. What else could be done with the dilapidated structure was difficult to say if it had to be retained for use. The old walls of the former nave, dating from Norman or even earlier times, might possibly have been preserved. A north door, much like a Saxon one, was inadvertently destroyed, but Hardy made a drawing of it which is preserved in the present church, with his drawings of the highly carved seat-ends and other details that have disappeared. Fortunately the old south aisle was kept intact, with its arcade, the aisle now being adapted for a nave.

It wlas at this church that occurred his humorous experience of the buider’s view of the old chancel-screen. Hardy had made a careful drawing of it, with its decayed tracery, posts, and gilding, marking thereon where sundry patchings and scarfings were to be applied. Reaching the building one day he found a new and highly varnished travesty of the old screen standing in its place. ‘Well, Mr. Hardy,’ replied the builder in answer to his astonished inquiries, I said to myself, I won’t stand on a pound or two while I’m about it, and I’ll give ‘em a new screen instead of that patched-up old thing.’




1870-1873: Aet. 30-33

He must when in London have obtained from Tinsley the MS. of Desperate Remedies-, for during the autumn of this year 1870 there were passing between him and Miss Gifford chapters of the story for her to make a fair copy of, the original MS. having been interlined and altered, so that it may have suffered, he thought, in the eyes of a publisher’s reader by being difficult to read. He meanwhile wrote the three or four remaining chapters, and the novel — this time finished — was packed off to Tinsley in December. However, a minute fact seems to suggest that Hardy was far from being in bright spirits about this book and his future at this time. On the margin of his copy of Hamlet the following passage is marked with the date, ‘December 15, 1870’:

‘Thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here about my heart: but it is no matter!’

Tinsley wrote his terms again, which for some unaccountable reason were worse now than they had been in the first place, an advance of £75 being demanded; and the following is a transcript of Hardy’s letter to the publisher on these points, at the end of December:

‘I believe I am right in understanding your terms thus — that if the gross receipts reach the costs of publishing I shall receive the £75 back again, and if they are more than the costs I shall have £75, added to half the receipts beyond the costs (i.e., assuming the expenditure to be £100, and the receipts £200, I should have returned to me £75+ £50 = £125).

‘Will you be good enough to say, too, if the sum includes advertising to the customary extent, and about how long after my paying the money the book would appear.’

This adventurous arrangement by the would-be author, who at that date had only £123 in the world, beyond what he might have obtained from his father — which was not much — and who was virtually if not distinctly engaged to be married to a girl with no money except in reversion after the death of relatives, was actually carried out by him in the January following (1871): when, being in London again, he paid the £75 over to Tinsley in Bank of England notes (rather, as it seemed, to Tinsley’s astonishment, Hardy said) and retired to Dorset to correct the proofs, filling up leisure moments not by anything practical, but by writing down such snatches of the old country ballads as he could hear from aged people. On the 25th March the book was published anonymously in three volumes; and on the 30th he again went to his Weymouth lodgings to lend Mr. Crickmay more help in his church-restorations.

On April 1 Desperate Remedies received a striking review in the Athenaum as being a powerful novel, and on April 13 an even better notice in the Morning Post as being an eminent success. But, alas, on the 22nd the Spectator brought down its heaviest-leaded pastoral staff on the prematurely happy volumes, the reason for this violence being mainly the author’s daring to suppose it possible that an unmarried lady owning an estate could have an illegitimate child.

‘This is an absolutely anonymous story’, began the review: ‘no assumption of a nom-de-plume which might, at some future time, disgrace the family name, and still more the Christian name, of a repentant and remorseful novelist — and very right too. By all means let him bury the secret in the profoundest depths of his own heart, out of reach, if possible, of his own consciousness. The law is hardly just which prevents Tinsley Brothers from concealing their participation also.’

When Moule, whom Hardy had not consulted on the venture, read the reception of the novel by the Spectator he wrote a brief line to Hardy bidding him not to mind the slating. After its first impact, which was with good reason staggering, it does not seem to have worried Hardy much or at any rate for long (though one of the personalities insinuated by the reviewer, in clumsy humour, that the novel must have been ‘a desperate remedy for an emaciated purse’, may well have been galling enough). And indeed about this time he noted down: ‘Strictly, we should resent wrongs, be placid at justice, and grateful for favours. But I know one who is placid at a wrong, and would be grateful for simple justice; while a favour, if he ever gained one, would turn his brain.’ He remembered, for long years after, how he had read this review as he sat on a stile leading to the eweleaze he had to cross on his way home to Bockhampton. The bitterness of that moment was never forgotten; at the time he wished that he were dead.

But that humorous observation was not seriously disturbed in him is shown by what he entered immediately after:

‘End. of April. At the dairy. The dog looks as if he were glad that he is a dog. The cows look at him with a melancholy expression, as though they were sorry they are cows, and have to be milked, and to show too much dignity to roll in the mulch as he does. . . . The dairymaid flings her feet about the dairy floor in walking, as if they were mops.’

Anyhow, in May he enjoyed another visit to Cornwall. But in returning therefrom the day after his birthday in June he received a fresh buffet from circumstance in seeing at Exeter Station Desperate Remedies in Messrs. Smith and Son’s surplus catalogue for sale at zs. 6d. the three volumes, and thought the Spectator had snuffed out the book, as it probably had done.

Although this was a serious matter for a beginner who had ventured on the novel £75 out of the £123 he posesssed, one reason for the mitigation of his trouble may well have been that the powerfully, not to say wildly, melodramatic situations had been concocted in a style which was quite against his natural grain, through too crude an interpretation of George Meredith’s advice. It was a sort of thing he had never contemplated writing, till, finding himself in a corner, it seemed necessary to attract public attention at all hazards. What Meredith would have thought of the result of his teaching was not ascertained. Yet there was nothing in the book — admittedly an extremely clever novel — to call for such castigation, which, oddly enough, rather stultified itself by certain concessions on the nameless author’s ability. Moreover he was surprised some time later by a letter from the reviewer, a stranger — whether dictated by pricks of conscience, an uneasy suspicion that he had mistaken his man, or otherwise, is unknown — showing some regret for his violence. Hardy replied to the letter — tardily and curtly enough at first, it is true — but as it dawned upon him that the harm had been done him not through malice but honest wrongheadedness he ceased to harbour resentment, and became acquainted with his critic, the Spectator reviewing him later with much generosity.

During June and July he marked time, as it were, by doing some more Gothic drawings for Crickmay, though in no very grand spirits, if we may judge from a marginal mark with the date ‘July 1871’ in his Shakespeare, opposite the passage in Macbeth:

Things at their worst will cease, or else climb upward

To what they were before.

Later in the summer he finished the short and quite rustic story entitled Under the Greenwood Tree. A Rural Painting of the Dutch School — the execution of which had arisen from a remark of Mr. John Morley’s on The Poor Man and the Lady, that the country scenes in the latter were the best in the book, the ‘ tranter’ of The Poor Man and the Lady being reintroduced.

The pages of this idyll — at first intended to be called The Mell - stock Quire but altered to Under the Greenwood Tree because titles from poetry were in fashion just then — were dispatched to the Messrs. Macmillan some time the same autumn, and in due course Hardy received from them a letter which, events having rendered him sensitive, he read to mean that the firm did not wish to have anything to do with his ‘Rural Painting of the Dutch School’, although they said that’ they felt strongly inclined to avail themselves of his offer of it’; hence he wrote to them to return the MS. This was an unfortunate misunderstanding. It was not till its acceptance and issue by another publishing-house the year after that he discovered they had never declined it, and indeed would have been quite willing to print it a little later on.

They had taken the trouble to enclose when writing about the tale the opinion of the ‘accomplished critic’ to whom they had submitted it, the chief points of which may be quoted here:

‘The work in this story is extremely careful, natural, and delicate, and the writer deserves more than common credit for the pains which he has taken with his style, and with the harmony of his construction and treatment. It is a simple and uneventful sketch of a rural courtship, with a climax of real delicacy of idea. ... I don’t prophesy a large market for it, because the work is so delicate as not to hit every taste by any means. But it is good work, and would please people whose taste was not ruined by novels of exaggerated action or forced ingenuity. . . . The writer would do well to shut his ears to the fooleries of critics, which his letter to you proves that he does not do.’

However, deeming their reply on the question of publishing the tale to be ambiguous at least, he got it back, threw the MS. into a box with his old poems, being quite sick of all such, and began to think about other ways and means. He consulted Miss Gifford by letter, declaring that he had banished novel-writing for ever, and was going on with architecture henceforward. But she, with no great opportunity of reasoning on the matter, yet, as Hardy used to think and say — truly or not — with that rapid instinct which serves women in such good stead, and may almost be called preternatural vision, wrote back instantly her desire that he should adhere to authorship, which she felt sure would be his true vocation. From the very fact that she wished thus, and set herself aside altogether — architecture being obviously the quick way to an income for marrying on — he was impelled to consider her interests more than his own. Unlike the case of Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, no letters between the couple are extant, to show the fluctuation of their minds on this vital matter. But what happened was that Hardy applied himself to architectural work during the winter 1871-72 more steadily than he ever had done in his life before, and in the spring of the latter year again set out for London, determined to stifle his constitutional tendency to care for life only as an emotion and not as a scientific game, and fully bent on sticking to the profession which had been the choice of his parents for him rather than his own; but with a faint dream at the back of his mind that he might perhaps write verses as an occasional hobby.

The years 1872 and 1873 were pre-eminently years of unexpectedness. Having engaged to give some help to Mr. T. Roger Smith, a well-known London architect and Professor of Architecture at the Royal Institute of British Architects, he speedily found himself on his arrival in the first-named year assisting Professor Smith in designing schools for the London School Board, which had then lately come into existence, public competition between architects for such designs being arranged by the Board from time to time. Hardy had no sooner settled down to do his best in this business than he met in the middle of a crossing by Trafalgar Square his friend Moule, whom he had not seen for a long time. Moule, a scholar and critic of perfect taste, firmly believed in Hardy’s potentialities as a writer, and said he hoped he still kept a hand on the pen; but Hardy seems to have declared that he had thrown up authorship at last and for all. Moule was grieved at this, but merely advised him not to give up writing altogether, since, supposing anything were to happen to his eyes from the fine architectural drawing, literature would be a resource for him; he could dictate a book, article, or poem, but not a geometrical design. This, Hardy used to say, was essentially all that passed between them; but by a strange coincidence Moule’s words were brought back to his mind one morning shortly after by his seeing, for the first time in his life, what seemed like floating specks on the white drawing-paper before him.

For some reason or other at this date — a year after its publication — he wrote to his publishers to render an account of their transactions over Desperate Remedies, which he had once before requested, but had not been very curious upon; for though the Saturday Review had brought the volumes to life after their slaughter by the Spectator, he quite supposed he had lost on the venture both his time and his money. By return of post Tinsley Brothers rendered the account, showing that they had printed 500 copies of the novel in three volumes, and sold 370, and enclosing a cheque for £60, as being all that was returnable to him out of the £75 paid as guarantee — after the costs and the receipts were balanced, no part of the receipts being due to him.

From these figures Hardy, who did not examine them closely, found that after all he had only lost his labour and £15 in money — and was much gratified thereby.

Quite soon after, while reading in the Strand a poster of the Italian Opera, a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder, and turning he saw Tinsley himself, who asked when Hardy was going to let him have another novel.

Hardy, with thoughts of the balance-sheet, drily told him never.

‘Wot, now!’ said Tinsley. ‘Haven’t you anything written?’

Hardy remarked that he had written a short story some time before, but didn’t know what had become of the MS., and did not care. He also had outlined one for three volumes; but had abandoned it. He was now doing better things, and attending to his profession of architect.

‘Damned if that isn’t what I thought you wos!’ exclaimed Mr. Tinsley. ‘Well, now, can’t you get that story, and show it to me?’

Hardy would not promise, reminding the publisher that the account he had rendered for the other book was not likely to tempt him to publish a second.

“Pon my soul, Mr. Hardy,’ said Tinsley, ‘you wouldn’t have got another man in London to print it! Oh, be hanged if you would! ‘twas a blood-curdling story! Now please try to find that new manuscript and let me see it.’

Hardy could not at first recollect what he had done with the MS., but recalling at last he wrote to his parents at home, telling them where to search for it, and to forward it to him.

When, the first week in April, Under the Greenwood Tree arrived Hardy sent it on to Tinsley without looking at it, saying he would have nothing to do with any publishing accounts. This probably was the reason why Tinsley offered him £30 for the copyright, which Hardy accepted. It should be added that Tinsley afterwards sent him £10 extra, and quite voluntarily, being, he said, half the amount he had obtained from Tauchnitz for the Continental copyright, of which transaction Hardy had known nothing.

Hardy’s indifference in selling Under the Greenwood Tree for a trifle could not have been because he still had altogether other aims than the literature of fiction, as had been the case in the previous winter; for he casually mentioned to Tinsley that he thought of going on with the three-volume novel before alluded to. Moule’s words on keeping a hand on the pen, and the specks in his eyes while drawing, may have influenced him in this harking back.

In the early part of May he was correcting the proofs of the rural story. It was mostly done late at night, at Westbourne Park, where he was again living, the day being occupied with the competition - drawings for Board schools in the various London districts — and some occasional evenings in preparing drawings for Blomfield, with whom Hardy was in frequent and friendly touch — though he told Blomfield at that time nothing about his adventures as a novel-writer.

Under the Greenwood Tree was published about the last week in May (1872) and met with a very kindly and gentle reception, being reviewed in the Athenceum as a book which could induce people ‘to give up valuable time to see a marriage accomplished in its pages’, and in the Pall Mall Gazette as a story of much freshness and originality.

As its author was at Bedford Chambers in Bedford Street — Professor Smith’s offices — every day, and the office of the publishers was only a street or two further along the Strand, he was not infrequently encountering Tinsley, who one day asked him — the book continuing to receive good notices — for how much he would write a story for Tinsley s Magazine, to run a twelvemonth, the question being probably prompted by this tone of the press towards Under the Greenwood Tree.

Hardy reflected on the outlined novel he had abandoned — considered that he could do it in six months — but ‘ to guard against temptation’ (as he put it) multiplied by two the utmost he could expect to make at architecture in the time, and told his inquirer the sum.

‘All right, all right, Mr. Hardy — very reasonable,’ said the friendly publisher, smacking Hardy’s shoulder. ‘Now come along into the office here, and we’ll sign the agreement, and the job will be off our minds.’

Hardy, however, for some reason or other was growing wary, and said he would call next day. During the afternoon he went to a law-bookseller, bought Copinger on Copyright, the only book on the subject he could meet with, and sat up half the night studying it. Next day he called on Tinsley, and said he would write the story for the sum mentioned, it being understood that the amount paid was for the magazine-issue solely, after which publication all rights were to return to the author.

‘Well, I’m damned!’ Tinsley said, with a grim laugh. ‘Who the devil have you been talking to, Mr. Hardy, if I may ask, since I saw you yesterday?’

Hardy said ‘Nobody’. (Which was true, though only literally.)

‘Well, but — Now, Mr. Hardy, you are hard, very hard upon me! However, I do like your writings: and if you’ll throw in the three-volume edition of the novel with the magazine rights I’ll agree.’

Hardy assented to this, having, as he used to say, some liking for Tinsley’s keen sense of humour even when it went against himself; and the business was settled shortly after, the author agreeing to be ready with the first monthly part of his story for the magazine soon enough to give an artist time to prepare an illustration for it, and enable it to be printed in the September number, which in the case of this periodical came out on August 15.

It was now the 24th July, and walking back towards Professor Roger Smith’s chambers Hardy began to feel that he had done rather a rash thing. He knew but vaguely the value of a three-volume edition, and as to the story, he had, as already mentioned, thought of a possible one some time before, roughly noted down the opening chapters and general outline, and then abandoned it with the rest of his literary schemes. He had never written a serial narrative and had no journalistic experience; and he was pledged to the Board-school drawings for at least another week, when they were to be sent in to the Committee. Nevertheless, having promised Tinsley, he resolved to stick to his promise, and on the 27th July agreed by letter.

Apparently without saying anything of his new commitment, he informed the genial Professor of Architecture that he thought he would take a holiday in August, when there would be little more of a pressing nature to do for that year; and going home to Westbourne Park wrote between then and midnight the first chapter or two of A Pair of Blue Eyes. Even though he may have thought over and roughly set down the beginning of the romance, the writing it out connectedly must have been done very rapidly, despite the physical enervation that London always brought upon him. (It may be noticed that he gave the youth who appears first in the novel the surname of the Professor of Architecture he had been assisting.) At any rate the MS. of the first number, with something over, was ready for the illustrator in an incredibly quick time. Thereupon, though he had shaped nothing of what the later chapters were to be like, he dismissed the subject as Sheridan dismissed a bill he had backed, and on August 7 went on board the Avoca, of the Irish Mail Packet Company (a boat which, by the way, went to the bottom shortly after) at London Bridge, to proceed to Cornwall by water.

In Cornwall he paid a visit to some friends — Captain and Mrs. Serjeant, of St. Benet’s Abbey, who owned valuable china-clay works near, which were just then being developed; drove to St. Juliot, and met there among other visitors Miss d’Arville, a delightful old lady from Bath, who had a canary that fainted and fell to the bottom of the cage whenever a cat came into the room, or the picture of a cat was shown it. He walked to Tintagel Castle and sketched there a stone altar, having an Early-English ornamentation on its edge; which altar in after years he could never find; and in the intervals of this and other excursions went on with his MS., having naturally enough received an urgent letter for more copy from the publisher. He returned to London by way of Bath, where he left Miss d’Arville, who had accompanied him thus far.

He could not, however, get on with his novel in London, and late in September went down to the seclusion of Dorset to set about it more thoroughly. On this day Under the Greenwood Tree was reviewed by Moule in the Saturday. The Spectator, however, which had so mauled Desperate Remedies, took little notice of the book.

An entry in the diary at this time was: ‘Sept. 30. Posted MS. of A Pair of Blue Eyes to Tinsley up to Page 163.’

Before the date was reached he had received a letter from Professor Roger Smith, informing him that another of the six Board-school competitions for which Hardy had helped him to prepare designs had been successful, and suggesting that he had ‘been at grass’ long enough, and would be welcomed back on any more liberal terms, if he felt dissatisfied.

This architectural success, for which he would have given much had it come sooner, was now merely provoking. However, Hardy confessed to the surprised and amused Smith what he had been doing, and was still occupied with; and thus was severed, to his great regret, an extremely pleasant if short professional connection with an able and amiable man; though their friendship was not broken, being renewed from time to time, and continued till the death of the elder of them.

Till the end of the year he was at Bockhampton finishing A Pair of Blue Eyes, the action of which, as is known, proceeds on the coast near ‘Lyonnesse’ — not far from King Arthur’s Castle at Tintagel. Its scene, he said, would have been clearly indicated by calling the romance Elfride of Lyonnesse, but for a wish to avoid drawing attention to the neighbouring St. Juliot while his friends were living there. After a flying visit to the Rectory, he remained on through the spring at his mother’s; and it may be mentioned here that while staying at this place or at the Rectory or possibly in London, Hardy received an account of the death of ‘the Tranter’, after whom the character in Under the Greenwood Tree had been called, though it was not a portrait, nor was the fictitious tranter’s kinship to the other musicians based on fact. He had been the many years’ neighbour of the Hardys, and did the haulage of building materials for Hardy’s father, of whom he also rented a field for his horses. The scene of his last moments was detailed in a letter to Hardy by one present at his death-bedside: ‘He was quite in his senses, but not able to speak. A dark purple stain began in his leg that was injured many years ago by his waggon going over it; the stain ran up it about as fast as a fly walks. It ran up his body in the same way till, arriving level with his fingers, it began in them, and went on up his arms, up his neck and face, to the top of his head, when he breathed his last. Then a pure white began at his foot, and went upwards at the same rate, and in the same way, and he became as white throughout as he had been purple a minute before.’

In this connection it may be interesting to add that the actual name of the shoemaker ‘Robert Penny’ in the same story was Robert Reason. He, like the Tranter and the Tranter’s wife, is buried in Stinsford Churchyard near the tombs of the Hardys, though his name is almost illegible. Hardy once said he would much have preferred to use the real name, as being better suited to the character, but thought at the time of writing that there were possible relatives who might be hurt by the use of it, though he afterwards found there were none. The only real name in the story is that of ‘Voss’, who brought the hot mead and viands to the choir on their rounds. It can still be read on a headstone, also quite near to where the Hardys lie. It will be remembered that these headstones are alluded to in the poem entitled ‘The Dead Quire’ —

There Dewy lay by the gaunt yew tree,

There Reuben and Michael, a pace behind,

And Bowman with his family

By the wall that the ivies bind.

Old Dewy has been called a portrait of Hardy’s grandfather, but this was not the case; he died three years before the birth of the story-teller, almost in his prime, and long ere reaching the supposed age of William Dewy. There was, in fact, no family portrait in the tale.

A Pair of Blue Eyes was published in three volumes the latter part of May.

‘May 5. “Maniel” [Immanuel] Riggs found dead. [A shepherd Hardy knew.] A curious man, who used to moisten his lips between every two or three words.’

‘June 9, 1873. To London. Went to French Plays. Saw Brasseur, etc.’

‘June 15. Met H. M. Moule at the Golden Cross Hotel. Dined with him at the British Hotel. Moule then left for Ipswich on his duties as Poor Law Inspector.’

‘June 16-20. About London with my brother Henry.’

‘June 20. By evening train to Cambridge. Stayed in College — Queens’ — Went out with H. M. M. after dinner. A magnificent evening: sun over “the Backs”.

‘Next morning went with H. M. M. to King’s Chapel early. M. opened the great West doors to show the interior vista: we got upon the roof, where we could see Ely Cathedral gleaming in the distant sunlight. A never-to-be-forgotten morning. H. M. M. saw me off for London. His last smile.’

From London Hardy travelled on to Bath, arriving late at night and putting up at 8 Great Stanhope Street, where lodgings had been obtained for him by his warm-hearted friend Miss d’Arville, whom Miss Gifford was then visiting. The following dates are from the intermittent diary Hardy kept in these years.

‘June 23. Excursions about Bath and Bristol with the ladies.’

‘June 28. To Clifton with Miss Gifford.’ — Where they were surprised by accidentally seeing in a newsagent’s shop a commendatory review of A Pair of Blue Eyes in the Spectator.’

‘June 30. About Bath alone. . . . Bath has a rural complexion on an urban substance. . . .’

‘July 1. A day’s trip with Miss G. To Chepstow, the Wye, the Wynd Cliff, which we climbed, and Tintern, where we repeated some of Wordsworth’s lines thereon.

‘At Tintern, silence is part of the pile. Destroy that, and you take a limb from an organism. ... A wooded slope visible from every unmullioned window. But compare the age of the building with that of the marble hills from which it was drawn! . . .’

Here may be stated, in relation to the above words on the age of the hills, that this shortcoming of the most ancient architecture by comparison with geology was a consideration that frequently troubled Hardy’s mind when measuring and drawing old Norman and other early buildings, just as it had been troubled by ‘The Wolf’ in his musical tuning, and by the thought that Greek literature had been at the mercy of dialects.

‘July 2. Bath to Dorchester.’



1873-1876: Aet. 33-36

Some half-year before this, in December 1872, Hardy had received at Bockhampton a letter from Leslie Stephen, the editor of the Corn - hill — by that time well known as a man of letters, Saturday reviewer, and Alpine climber — asking for a serial story for his magazine. He had lately read Under the Greenwood Tree,and thought’the descriptions admirable’. It was ‘long since he had received more pleasure from a new writer’, and it had occurred to him that such writing would probably please the readers of the Cornhill Magazine as much as it had pleased him.

Hardy had replied that he feared the date at which he could write a story for the Cornhill would be too late for Mr. Stephen’s purpose, since he already had on hand a succeeding novel (i.e. A Pair of Blue Eyes), which was arranged for; but that the next after should be at Mr. Stephen’s disposal. He had thought of making it a pastoral tale with the title of Far from the Madding Crowd — and that the chief characters would probably be a young woman-farmer, a shepherd, and a sergeant of cavalry. That was all he had done. Mr. Stephen had rejoined that he was sorry he could not expect a story from Hardy at an earlier date; that he did not, however, mean to fix any particular time; that the idea of the story attracted him j also the proposed title; and that he would like Hardy to call and talk it over when he came to Town. There the matter had been left. Now Hardy set about the pastoral tale, the success of A Pair of Blue Eyes meanwhile surpassing his expectations, the influential Saturday Review pronouncing it to be the most artistically constructed of the novels of its time — a quality which, by the bye, would carry little recommendation in these days of loose construction and indifference to organic homogeneity.

But Hardy did not call on Stephen just then.

It was, indeed, by the merest chance that he had ever got the Cornhill letter at all. The postal arrangements in Dorset were still so primitive at this date that the only delivery of letters at Hardy’s father’s house was by the hand of some friendly neighbour who had come from the next village, and Stephen’s request for a story had been picked up in the mud of the lane by a labouring man, the school children to whom it had been entrusted having dropped it on the way.

While thus in the seclusion of Bockhampton, writing Far from the Madding Crowd, we find him on September 21, walking to Woodbury-Hill Fair, approximately described in the novel as ‘ Green - hill Fair’. On the 24th he was shocked at hearing of the tragic death of his friend Horace Moule, from whom he had parted cheerfully at Cambridge in June. The body was brought to be buried at Ford - ington, Dorchester, and Hardy attended the funeral. It was a matter of keen regret to him now, and for a long time after, that Moule and the woman to whom Hardy was warmly attached had never set eyes on each other; and that she could never make Moule’s acquaintance, or be his friend.

On the 30th of September he sent to Leslie Stephen at his request as much of the MS. of Far from the Madding Crowd as was written — apparently between two and three monthly parts, though some of it only in rough outline — and a few days after a letter came from Stephen stating that the story suited him admirably as far as it had gone, and that though as a rule it was desirable to see the whole of a novel before definitely accepting it, under the circumstances he decided to accept it at once.

So Hardy went on writing Far from the Madding Crowd — sometimes indoors, sometimes out — when he would occasionally find himself without a scrap of paper at the very moment that he felt volumes. In such circumstances he would use large dead leaves, white chips left by the wood-cutters, or pieces of stone or slate that came to hand. He used to say that when he carried a pocket-book his mind was barren as the Sahara.

This autumn Hardy assisted at his father’s cider-making — a proceeding he had always enjoyed from childhood — the apples being from huge old trees that have now long perished. It was the last time he ever took part in a work whose sweet smells and oozings in the crisp autumn air can never be forgotten by those who have had a hand in it.

Memorandum by T. H.:

‘Met J. D., one of the old Mellstock fiddlers — who kept me talking interminably: a man who speaks neither truth nor lies, but a sort of Not Proven compound which is very relishable. Told me of Jack, who spent all the money he had — sixpence — at the Oak Inn, took his sixpence out of the till when the landlady’s back was turned, and spent it over again; then stole it again, and again spent it, till he had had a real skinful. “ Was too honest to take any money but his own”, said J. D.’ (Some of J. D.’s characterisitics appear in ‘the Tranter’ of Under the Greenwood Tree.)

At the end of October an unexpected note from the Cornhill editor asked if, supposing he were to start Far from the Madding Crowd in the January number (which would be out the third week in December) instead of the spring, as intended, Hardy could keep in front of the printers with his copy. He learnt afterwards that what had happened was that the MS. of a novel which the editor had arranged to begin in his pages in January had been lost in the post, according, at any rate, to its author’s account. Hardy thought January not too soon for him, and that he could keep the printers going. Terms were consequently arranged with the publishers and proofs of the first number sent forthwith, Hardy incidentally expressing with regard to any illustrations, in a letter of October 1873, <a hope that the rustics, although quaint, may be made to appear intelligent, and not boorish at all’; adding in a later letter: ‘In reference to the illustrations, I have sketched in my note-book during the past summer a few correct outlines of smockfrocks, gaiters, sheep-crooks, rick-” staddles”, a sheep-washing pool, one of the old-fashioned malt-houses, and some other out-of-the-way things that might have to be shown. These I could send you if they would be of any use to the artist, but if he is a sensitive man and you think he would rather not be interfered with, I would not do so.’

No response had been made to this, and he was not quite clear whether, after all, Leslie Stephen had finally decided to begin so soon, when, returning from Cornwall on a fine December noontide (being New Year’s Eve 1873-74), he opened on Plymouth Hoe a copy of the Cornhill that he had bought at the station, and there to his surprise saw his story placed at the beginning of the magazine, with a striking illustration, the artist being — also to his surprise — not a man but a woman, Miss Helen Paterson. He had only expected, from the undistinguished rank of the characters in the tale, that it would be put at the end, and possibly without a picture. Why this had come without warning to him was owing to the accident of his being away from his permanent address for several days, and nothing having been forwarded. It can be imagined how delighted Miss Gifford was to receive the first number of the story, whose nature he had kept from her to give her a pleasant surprise, and to find that her desire of a literary course for Hardy was in fair way of being justified.

In the first week of January 1874 the story was noticed in a marked degree by the Spectator, and a guess hazarded that it might be from the pen of George Eliot — why, the author could never understand, since, so far as he had read that great thinker — one of the greatest living, he thought, though not a born storyteller by any means — she had never touched the life of the fields: her country-people having seemed to him, too, more like small townsfolk than rustics; and as evidencing a woman’s wit cast in country dialogue rather than real country humour, which he regarded as rather of the Shakespeare and Fielding sort. However, he conjectured, as a possible reason for the flattering guess, that he had latterly been reading Comte’s Positive Philosophy, and writings of that school, some of whose expressions had thus passed into his vocabulary, expressions which were also common to George Eliot. Leslie Stephen wrote:

‘I am glad to congratulate you on the reception of your first number. Besides the gentle Spectator, which thinks that you must be George Eliot because you know the names of the stars, several good judges have spoken to me warmly of the Madding Crowd. Moreover the Spectator, though flighty in its head, has really a good deal of critical feeling. I always like to be praised by it — and indeed by other people! . . . The story comes out very well, I think, and I have no criticism to make.’

Respecting the public interest in the opening of the story, in later days Miss Thackeray informed him, with some of her father’s humour, that to inquiries with which she was besieged on the sex of the author, and requests to be given an introduction to him or her, she would reply: ‘It lives in the country, and I could not very well introduce you to it in Town.’

A passage may be quoted here from Mr. F. W. Maitland’s Life of Leslie Stephen (to which Hardy contributed half a chapter or so, on Stephen as editor) which affords a humorous illustration of the difficulties of’ serial’ writing in Victorian days. Stephen had written to say that the seduction of Fanny Robin must be treated in ‘a gingerly fashion’, adding that it was owing to an ‘excessive prudery of which I am ashamed’.

‘I wondered what had so suddenly caused, in one who had seemed anything but a prude, the “excessive prudery” alluded to. But I did not learn till I saw him in April. Then he told me that an unexpected Grundian cloud, though no bigger than a man’s hand as yet, had appeared on our serene horizon. Three respectable ladies and subscribers, representing he knew not how many more, had written to upbraid him for an improper passage in a page of the story which had already been published.

‘I was struck mute, till I said, “Well, if you value the opinion of such people, why didn’t you think of them beforehand, and strike out the passage?” — “I ought to have, since it is their opinion, whether I value it or no”, he said with a half groan. “But it didn’t occur to me that there was anything to object to!” I reminded him that though three objectors who disliked the passage, or pretended to, might write their disapproval, three hundred who possibly approved of it would not take the trouble to write, and hence he might have a false impression of the public as a body. “ Yes; I agree. Still I suppose I ought to have foreseen these gentry, and have omitted it,” he murmured.

‘It may be added here, to finish with this detail (though it anticipates dates), that when the novel came out in volume form The Times quoted in a commendatory review the very passage that had offended. As soon as I met him, I said, “You see what The Times says about that paragraph; and you cannot say that The Times is not respectable.” He was smoking and answered tardily: “No, I can’t say that The Times is not respectable.” I then urged that if he had omitted the sentences, as he had wished he had done, I should never have taken the trouble to restore them in the reprint, and The Times could not have quoted them with approbation. I suppose my manner was slightly triumphant; at any rate, he said, “I spoke as an editor, not as a man. You have no more consciousness of these things than a child.’“

To go back for a moment. Having attracted so much attention Hardy now again withdrew into retreat at Bockhampton to get ahead with the novel, which was in a lamentably unadvanced condition, writing to Stephen, when requesting that the proofs might be sent to that hermitage: ‘I have decided to finish it here, which is within a walk of the district in which the incidents are supposed to occur. I find it a great advantage to be actually among the people described at the time of describing them.’

However, that he did not care much for a reputation as a novelist in lieu of being able to follow the pursuit of poetry — now for ever hindered, as it seemed — becomes obvious from a remark written to Mr. Stephen about this time:

‘The truth is that I am willing, and indeed anxious, to give up any points which may be desirable in a story when read as a whole, for the sake of others which shall please those who read it in numbers. Perhaps I may have higher aims some day, and be a great stickler for the proper artistic balance of the completed work, but for the present circumstances lead me to wish merely to be considered a good hand at a serial.’

The fact was that at this date he was bent on carrying out later in the year an intention beside which a high repute as an artistic novelist loomed even less importantly than in ordinary — an intention to be presently mentioned.

He found he had drifted anew into a position he had vowed after his past experience he would in future keep clear of — that of having unfinished on his hands a novel of which the beginning was already before the public, and so having to write against time. He wrote so rapidly in fact that by February he was able to send the editor an instalment of copy sufficient for two or three months further, and another instalment in April.

On a visit to London in the winter Hardy had made the personal acquaintance of Leslie Stephen, the man whose philosophy was to influence his own for many years, indeed, more than that of any other contemporary, and received a welcome in his household, which was renewed from time to time, whereby he became acquainted with Mrs. Stephen and her sister Miss Thackeray. He also made acquaintance with Mr. G. Murray Smith, the publisher, and his family in April. At dinner there in May he met his skilful illustrator, Miss Helen Paterson, and gave her a few points; Mr. Frederick Greenwood; and Mrs. Procter, wife and soon after widow of ‘ Barry Cornwall’ the poet. The enormous acquaintance of Mrs. Procter with past celebrities was astonishing, and her humour in relating anecdotes of them charmed Hardy. She used to tell him that sometimes after avowing to Americans her acquaintance with a long list of famous bygone people, she had been compelled to deny knowledge of certain others she had equally well known, to re-establish her listener’s wavering faith in her veracity.

Back again in Dorsetshire he continued his application to the story, and by July had written it all, the last few chapters having been done at a gallop, for a reason to be told directly. In the middle of the month he resumed residence in London, where he hurriedly corrected the concluding pages and posted the end of the MS. to the editor early in August.

The next month Thomas Hardy and Miss Emma Lavinia Gifford were married at St. Peter’s, Elgin Avenue, Paddington, by her uncle Dr. E. Hamilton Gifford, Canon of Worcester, and afterwards Archdeacon of London. In the November following Far from the Madding Crowd was published in two volumes, with the illustrations by Miss Helen Paterson, who by an odd coincidence had also thought fit to marry William Allingham during the progress of the story. It may be said in passing that the development of the chapters month by month had brought these lines from Mrs. Procter:

‘You would be gratified to know what a shock the marriage of Bathsheba was. I resembled Mr. Boldwood — and to deceive such an old novel-reader as myself is a triumph. We are always looking out for traps, and scent a long way off a surprise. . . .

‘I hear that you are coming to live iri stony-hearted London. Our great fault is that we are all alike. . . . We press so closely against each other that any small shoots are cut off at once, and the young tree grows in shape like the old one.’

When the book appeared complete the author and his wife, after a short visit to the Continent — their first Continental days having been spent at Rouen — had temporarily gone to live at Surbiton, and remained there for a considerable time without nearly realising the full extent of the interest that had been excited among the reading public by the novel, which unsophistication was only partially removed by their seeing with unusual frequency, during their journeys to and from London, ladies carrying about copies of it with Mudie’s label on the covers.

Meanwhile Mr. George Smith, head of the firm of Smith and Elder — a man of wide experience, who had brought Charlotte Bronte before the reading public, and who became a disinterested friend of Hardy’s — suggested to him that he should if possible get back the copyright of Under the Greenwood Tree, which he had sold to Tinsley Brothers for £30. Tinsley at first replied that he would not return it for any sum: then that he would sell it for £300. Hardy offered half, which offer Tinsley did not respond to, and there the matter dropped.

Among the curious consequences of the popularity of Far from the Madding Crowd was a letter from the lady he had so admired as a child, when she was the grande dame of the parish in which he was born. He had seen her only once since — at her town-house in Bruton Street as aforesaid. But it should be stated in justice to her that her writing was not merely a rekindled interest on account of his book’s popularity, for she had written to him in his obscurity, before he had published a line, asking him to come and see her, and addressing him as her dear Tommy, as when he was a small boy, apologizing for doing so on the ground that she could not help it. She was now quite an elderly lady, but by signing her letter ‘Julia Augusta’ she revived throbs of tender feeling in him, and brought back to his memory the thrilling ‘frou-frou’ of her four grey silk flounces when she had used to bend over him, and when they brushed against the font as she entered church on Sundays. He replied, but, as it appears, did not go to see her.

Meanwhile the more tangible result of the demand for Far from the Madding Crowd was an immediate request from the editor and publishers of the Cornhill for another story, which should begin as early as possible in 1875.

This was the means of urging Hardy into the unfortunate course of hurrying forward a further production before he was aware of what there had been of value in his previous one: before learning, that is, not only what had attracted the public, but what was of true and genuine substance on which to build a career as a writer with a real literary message. For mere popularity he cared little, as little as he did for large payments; but having now to live by the pen — or, as he would quote, ‘to keep base life afoot’ — he had to consider popularity. This request for more of his writing not only from the Cornhill but from other quarters coincided with quizzing personal gossip, among other paragraphs being one that novel-writing was coming to a pretty pass, the author of Lorna Doone having avowed himself a market-gardener, and the author of Far from the Madding Crowd having been discovered to be a house-decorator (!). Criticism like this influenced him to put aside a woodland story he had thought of (which later took shape in The Woodlanders), and make a plunge in a new and untried direction. He was aware of the pecuniary value of a reputation for a speciality; and as above stated, the acquisition of something like a regular income had become important. Yet he had not the slightest intention of writing for ever about sheepfarming, as the reading public was apparently expecting him to do, and as, in fact, they presently resented his not doing. Hence, to the consternation of his editor and publishers, in March he sent up as a response to their requests the beginning of a tale called The Hand of Ethelberta — A Comedy in Chapters which had nothing whatever in common with anything he had written before.

In March he went to the Oxford and Cambridge Boat-Race, and entered rooms taken in Newton Road, Westbourne Grove, a light being thrown on the domestic and practical side of his life at this time by the following:

‘Newton Road, Westbourne Grove, March 19, 1875.

‘Messrs Townly and Bonniwell, Surbiton.

‘Gentlemen: Please to warehouse the cases and boxes sent herewith, and numbered as follows:

‘No. 1. Size 3 ft. 6 ins. x 2 ft. 6 ins. x 2 ft. 2 ins., containing linen and books.

‘No. 2. Size 2 ft. o ins. x 1 ft. 9 insx 1 ft. ins. containing books.

‘No. 3. Size 2 ft. o ins. xi ft. 4 ins. xf ft. 2 ins. containing books.

‘No - 4. Size 1 ft. 5 ins. x 1 ft. o ins. x 1 ft. o ins. containing sundries.

‘A receipt for same will oblige’.

Their entire worldly goods were contained in this small compass.

The next three months were spent at the address given above, where they followed an ordinary round of museum, theatre, and concert-going, with some dining-out, in keeping with (what he had written earlier to Mr. George Smith: ‘ We are coming to Town for three months on account of Ethelberta, some London scenes occurring in her chequered career which I want to do as vigorously as possible — having already visited Rouen and Paris with the same object, other adventures of hers taking place there.’ He also asked Smith’s advice on a German translation of Far from the Madding Crowd, which had been asked for.

The Comedy in Chapters, despite its departure from a path desired by his new-found readers, and to some extent desired by himself, was accepted for the magazine. The beginning appeared in the Cornhill for May, when Hardy had at last the satisfaction of proving, amid the general disappointment at the lack of sheep and shepherds, that he did not mean to imitate anybody, whatever the satisfaction might have been worth. The sub-title did not appear in the magazine, Mr. Stephen having written in respect of it:


‘I am sorry to have to bother you about a trifle! I fully approved of your suggestion for adding to “ Ethelberta’s Hand” the descriptive title “A Comedy in Chapters”. I find however from other people that it gives rather an unfortunate idea. They understand by Comedy something of the farce description, and expect you to be funny after the fashion of Mr., or some professional joker. This, of course,

is stupid; but then, advertisements are meant for stupid people. The question is, unluckily, not what they ought to feel but what they do feel. ... I think, therefore, that if you have no strong reason to the contrary it will be better to drop the second title for the present. When the book is reprinted it can of course appear, because then the illusion would be immediately dispelled.’

One reflection about himself at this date sometimes made Hardy uneasy. He perceived that he was ‘up against’ the position of having to carry on his life not as an emotion, but as a scientific game; that he was committed by circumstances to novel-writing as a regular trade, as much as he had formerly been to architecture; and that hence he would, he deemed, have to look for material in manners — in ordinary social and fashionable life as other novelists did. Yet he took no interest in manners, but in the substance of life only. So far what he had written had not been novels at all, as usually understood — that is pictures of modern customs and observances — and might not long sustain the interest of the circulating library subscriber who cared mainly for those things. On the other hand, to go about to dinners and clubs and crushes as a business was not much to his mind. Yet that was necessary meat and drink to the popular author. Not that he was unsociable, but events and long habit had accustomed him to solitary living. So it was also with his wife, of whom he wrote later, in the poem entitled ‘A Dream or No’:

Lonely I found her,

The sea-birds around her,

And other than nigh things uncaring to know.

He mentioned this doubt of himself one day to Miss Thackeray, who confirmed his gloomy misgivings by saying with surprise: ‘ Certainly; a novelist must necessarily like society!’

Another incident which added to his dubiety was the arrival of a letter from Coventry Patmore, a total stranger to him, expressing the view that A Pair of Blue Eyes was in its nature not a conception for prose, and that he ‘regretted at almost every page that such unequalled beauty and power should not have assured themselves the immortality which would have been impressed upon them by the form of verse’. Hardy was much struck by this opinion from Pat - more. However, finding himself committed to prose, he renewed his consideration of a prose style, as it is evident from the following note: ‘Read again Addison, Macaulay, Newman, Sterne, Defoe, Lamb, Gibbon, Burke, Times leaders, etc., in a study of style. Am more and more confirmed in an idea I have long held, as a matter of common sense, long before I thought of any old aphorism bearing on the subject: “Ars est celare artem”. The whole secret of a living style and the difference between it and a dead style, lies in not having too much style — being, in fact, a little careless, or rather seeming to be, here and there. It brings wonderful life into the writing:

‘A sweet disorder in the dress . . .

A careless shoe-string, in whose tie I see a wild civility,

Do more bewitch me than when art Is too precise in every part.

‘Otherwise your style is like worn half-pence — all the fresh images rounded off by rubbing, and no crispness or movement at all.

‘It is, of course, simply a carrying into prose the knowledge I have acquired in poetry — that inexact rhymes and rhythms now and then are far more pleasing than correct ones.’

About the time at which the Hardys were leaving Surbiton for Newton Road occurred an incident, which can best be described by quoting Hardy’s own account of it as printed in Mr. F. W. Maitland’s Life of Leslie Stephen:

‘One day (March 23, 1875) I received from Stephen a mysterious note asking me to call in the evening, as late as I liked. I went, and found him alone, wandering up and down his library in slippers; his tall thin figure wrapt in a heath-coloured dressing-gown. After a few remarks on our magazine arrangements he said he wanted me to witness his signature to what, for a moment, I thought was his will; but it turned out to be a deed renunciatory of holy-orders under the act of 1870. He said grimly that he was really a reverend gentleman still, little as he might look it, and that he thought it was as well to cut himself adrift of a calling for which, to say the least, he had always been utterly unfit. The deed was executed with due formality. Our conversation then turned upon theologies decayed and defunct, the origin of things, the constitution of matter, the unreality of time and kindred subjects. He told me that he had “wasted”

much time on systems of religion and metaphysics, and that the new theory of vortex rings had “a staggering fascination” for him.’

On this description the editor of the Life, Mr. Maitland, remarks: ‘ This scene — I need not say it — is well drawn. A tall thin figure wrapt in a heath-coloured dressing-gown was what one saw if one climbed to that Stylites study at dead of night.’

In May Hardy formed one of a deputation to Mr. Disraeli in support of a motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the state of Copyright Law; and on Waterloo Day he and his wife went to Chelsea Hospital — it being the 60th anniversary of the battle — and made acquaintance with the Waterloo men still surviving there. Hardy would tell that one of these — a delightful old campaigner named John Bentley whom he knew to the last — put his arm round Mrs. Hardy’s waist, and interlarded his discourse with ‘my dear young woman’, while he described to her his experiences of that memorable day, one rather incisive touch in his tale to her being that through the haze of smoke all that could be discerned was ‘ anything that shined’, such as bayonets, helmets, and swords. The wet eve of the battle, when they slept” in the rain with nothing over them, he spoke of as ‘last night’, as if he were speaking on the actual day. Another experience he related to her was a love-affair. While quartered in Brussels he had a sweetheart. When ordered to advance to Waterloo her friends offered to hide him if he would desert, as the French were sure to win. He refused, urging the oath he had taken; but he felt strongly tempted, as she was very fond of him, and he of her. She begged him to write, if he lived through the campaign, and to be sure to get a Belgian or Frenchman to direct the letter, or it might not find her. After the battle, and when he was in Paris he did write, and received an answer, saying she would come to Paris and meet him on Christmas Day at 3 o’clock. His regiment had received orders to march before that time, and at Christmas he was — Mrs. Hardy forgot where. But he thought of her, and wondered if she came. ‘Yes, you see, ‘twas God’s will we should meet no more’, said Bentley, speaking of her with peculiar tenderness.

In this same month of 1875, it may be interesting to note, occurs the first mention in Hardy’s memoranda of the idea of an epic on the war with Napoleon — carried out so many years later in The Dynasts. This earliest note runs as follows:

‘Mem: A Ballad of the Hundred Days. Then another of Moscow. Others of earlier campaigns — forming altogether an Iliad of Europe from 1789 to 1815.’

That Hardy, however, was endeavouring to live practically at this time, as well as imaginatively, is shown by an entry immediately following:

‘House at Childe-Okeford, Dorset. To be sold by auction June 10’; and by his starting on the 22nd for a day or two in Dorsetshire house-hunting, first visiting Shaftesbury, where he found a cottage for £25 a year, that did not, however, suit; thence to Blandford, and thence to Wimborne, where on arrival he entered the Minster at ten at night, having seen a light within, and sat in a stall listening to the organist practising, while the rays from the musician’s solitary candle streamed across the arcades. This incident seems to have inclined him to Wimborne; but he did not go there yet.

In July the couple went to Bournemouth, and thence by steamer to Swanage, where they found lodgings at the house of an invalided captain of smacks and ketches; and Hardy, suspending his househunting, settled down there for the autumn and winter to finish The Hand of Ethelberta.

While completing it he published in the Gentleman’s Magazine a ballad he had written nine or ten years earlier during his time with Blomfield, called ‘The Fire at Tranter Sweatley’s’ (and in some editions ‘The Bride-night Fire’) — which, as with his other verses, he had been unable to get into print at the date of its composition by the rather perfunctory efforts he made.

‘Nov. 28. I sit under a tree, and feel alone: I think of certain insects around me as magnified by the microscope: creatures like elephants, flying dragons, etc. And I feel I am by no means alone.

‘29. He has read well who has learnt that there is more to read outside books than in them.’

Their landlord, the ‘captain’, used to tell them, as sailors will, strange stories of his sea-farings; mostly smuggling stories — one of them Hardy always remembered because of its odd development. The narrator was in a fishing-boat going to meet a French lugger half-Channel-over, to receive spirit-tubs and land them. He and his mates were some nine miles off Portland, which was the limit allowed, when they were sighted by the revenue-cutter. Seeing the cutter coming up, they said ‘ We must act as if we were fishing for mackerel’. But they had no bait, and the ruse would be discovered. They snapped up the stems of their tobacco-pipes, and unfastening the hook from a line they had with them slipped on the bits of tobacco - pipe above the shank. The officers came — saw them fishing, and merely observing that they were a long way from shore, and dubiously asking why, and being innocently told because the fish were there, left them. Then, as if the bait had been genuine, to their surprise, on pulling up the sham line they began to haul in mackerel. The fish had made their deception truth.

Masters also told them that when persons are drowned in a high sea in the West (or Deadman’s) Bay, ‘ the sea undresses them’ — mauling off their clothes and leaving them naked.

While here at Swanage they walked daily on the cliffs and shore, Hardy noting thereon:

‘Evening. Just after sunset. Sitting with E. on a stone under the wall before the Refreshment Cottage. The sounds are two, and only two. On the left Durlstone Head roaring high and low, like a giant asleep. On the right a thrush. Above the bird hangs the new moon, and a steady planet.’

In the same winter of 1875 an article appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes on Far from the Madding Crowd entitled ‘ Le roman pastoral en Angleterre’.

Ethelberta was finished in the January of the next year (1876) and the MS. dispatched. Pending the appearance of the story in volumes the twain removed in March to lodgings at Yeovil to facilitate their search for a little dwelling. Here they were living when the novel was published. It was received in a friendly spirit and even with admiration in some quarters — more, indeed, than Hardy had expected — one experienced critic going so far as to write that it was the finest ideal comedy since the days of Shakespeare. ‘Show me the lady in the flesh’, he said in a letter to the author, ‘and I vow on my honour as a bachelor to become a humble addition to her devoted train.’ It did not, however, win the cordiality that had greeted its two forerunners, the chief objection seeming to be that it was ‘impossible’. It was, in fact, thirty years too soon for a Comedy of Society of that kind — just as The Poor Man and the Lady had been too soon for a socialist story, and as other of his writings — in prose and verse — were too soon for their date. The most impossible situation in it was said to be that of the heroine sitting at table at a dinner-party of ‘the best people’, at which her father was present by the sideboard as butler. Yet a similar situation has been applauded in a play in recent years by Mr. Bernard Shaw, without any sense of improbability.

This ended Hardy’s connection with Leslie Stephen as editor, though not as friend; and in the course of a letter expressing a hope that it might be renewed, Stephen wrote (May 16, 1876):

‘My remark about modern lectures [?] was of course “wrote sarcastic”, as Artemus Ward says, and intended for a passing dig in the ribs of some modern critics, who think that they can lay down laws in art like the Pope in religion; e.g. the whole Rossetti-Swinburne school1 think as a critic, that the less authors read of criticism the better. You, e.g., have a perfectly fresh and original vein, and I think the less you bother yourself about critical canons the less chance there is of your becoming self-conscious and cramped. . . . Ste. Beuve, and Mat Arnold (in a smaller way), are the only modern critics who seem to me worth reading. . . . We are generally a poor lot, horribly afraid of not being in the fashion, and disposed to give ourselves airs on very small grounds.’

1 May. In an orchard at Closeworth. Cowslips under trees. A light proceeds from them, as from Chinese lanterns or glow-worms.’



1876-1878: Aet. 36-37

From their lodgings in Yeovil they set out at the end of May for Holland and the Rhine — the first thing that struck them being that ‘the Dutch seemed like police perpetually keeping back an unruly crowd composed of waves’. They visited Rotterdam — ‘looking over-clean and new, with not enough shadow, and with houses nearly all out of the perpendicular’; then The Hague, Scheveningen, Emmerich, and Cologne, where Hardy was disappointed by the machine - made Gothic of the Cathedral, and whence in a few days they went on ‘between the banks that bear the vine’, to Bonn, Coblentz, Ehrenbreitstein, and Mainz, where they were impressed by a huge confirmation in the cathedral which, by the way, was accompanied by a tune like that of Keble’s Evening Hymn. Heidelberg they loved, and looking west one evening from the top of the tower on the Konigsstuhl, Hardy remarks on a singular optical effect that was almost tragic. Owing to mist the wide landscape itself was not visible, but’ the Rhine glared like a riband of blood, as if it serpentined through the atmosphere above the earth’s surface’. Thence they went to Carlsruhe, where they attended a fair, and searched for a German lady Hardy had known in England, but were unable to find her. Baden and the Black Forest followed, and next they proceeded to Strassburg, and then they turned back, travelling by way of Metz to Brussels. Here Hardy — maybe with his mind on The Dynasts — explored the field of Waterloo, and a day or two later spent some time in investigating the problem of the actual scene of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, with no result that satisfied him, writing a letter while here to some London paper to that effect — a letter which has not been traced.

A short stay in Brussels was followed by their homeward course through Antwerp, where they halted awhile; and Harwich, having a miserable passage on a windy night in a small steamer with cattle on board.

In London they were much astonished and amused to see in large letters on the newspaper-posters that there had been riots at Antwerp; and they recalled that they had noticed a brass band parading the streets with about a dozen workmen walking quietly behind.

June (1876). Arriving at Yeovil again after another Waterloo - day visit to Chelsea by Hardy (where, in the private parlour of’The Turk’s Head’ over glasses of grog, the battle was fought yet again by the dwindling number of pensioners who had taken part in it), his first consideration was the resumed question of a cottage, having ere this received hints from relatives that he and his wife ‘appeared to be wandering about like two tramps’; and also growing incommoded by an accumulation of luggage in packing-cases, mostly books, for of other furniture they had as yet not a stick; till they went out one day to an auction and bought a door-scraper and a book-case, with which two articles they laid the foundation of household goods and effects.

‘June 25. The irritating necessity of conforming to rules which in themselves have no virtue.’

‘June 26. If it be possible to compress into a sentence all that a man learns between 20 and 40, it is that all things merge in one another — good into evil, generosity into justice, religion into politics, the year into the ages, the world into the universe. With this in view the evolution of species seems but a minute and obvious process in the same movement.’

A pretty cottage overlooking the Dorset Stour — called ‘ Riverside Villa’ — offered itself at Sturminster Newton, and this they took at midsummer, hastily furnished it in part by going to Bristol and buying £100 worth of mid-Victorian furniture in two hours; entering on July 3. It was their first house and, though small, probably that in which they spent their happiest days. Several poems commemorate their term there of nearly two years. A memorandum dated just after their entry runs as follows:

‘Rowed on the Stour in the evening, the sun setting up the river. Just afterwards a faint exhalation visible on surface of water as we stirred it with the oars. A fishy smell from the numerous eels and other fish beneath. Mowers salute us. Rowed among the water - lilies to gather them. Their long ropy stems.

‘Passing the island drove out a flock of swallows from the bushes and sedge, which had gone there to roost. Gathered meadow-sweet.

Rowed with difficulty through the weeds, the rushes on the border standing like palisades against the bright sky. ... A cloud in the sky like a huge quill-pen.’

Another entry at this time:

‘A story has been told me of a doctor at Maiden Newton, who attended a woman who could not pay him. He said he would take the dead baby in payment. He had it, and it was kept on his mantelpiece in a large glass jar in spirits, which stained the body brown. The doctor, who was a young man, afterwards married and used his wife badly, insisting on keeping the other woman’s dead baby on his mantelpiece.’


‘Mr. Warry says that a farmer who was tenant of a friend of his, used to take the heart of every calf that died, and, sticking it full of black thorns, hang it on the cotterel, or cross-bar, of his chimney: this was done to prevent the spread of the disease that had killed the calf. When the next tenant came the chimney smoked very much, and examining it, they found it choked with hearts treated in the manner described — by that time dry and parched.’


‘“Toad Fair.” An old man, a wizard, used to bring toads’ legs in little bags to Bagber Bridge [close to where Hardy was living], where he was met by crowds of people who came in vehicles and on foot, and bought them as charms to cure scrofula by wearing them round the neck. These legs were supposed to twitch occasionally in the bag, and probably did, when it gave the wearer’s blood a “ turn “, and changed the course of the disease.’

‘There are two sorts of church people; those who go, and those who don’t go: there is only one sort of chapel-people; those who go-’

‘“All is vanity”, saith the Preacher. But if all were only vanity, who would mind? Alas, it is too often worse than vanity; agony, darkness, death also.’

‘A man would never laugh were he not to forget his situation, or were he not one who never has learnt it. After risibility from comedy, how often does the thoughtful mind reproach itself for forgetting the truth? Laughter always means blindness — either from defect, choice, or accident.’

During a visit to London in December Hardy attended a Conference on the Eastern Question at St. James’s Hall, and heard speak Mr. Gladstone, Lord Shaftesbury, Hon. E. Ashley, Anthony Trollope,

and the Duke of Westminster. ‘Trollope outran the five or seven minutes allowed for each speech, and the Duke, who was chairman, after various soundings of the bell, and other hints that he must stop, tugged at Trollope’s coat-tails in desperation. Trollope turned round, exclaimed parenthetically, “Please leave my coat alone,” and went on speaking.’

They spent Christmas with Hardy’s father and mother; and while there his father told them that when he was a boy the hobby-horse was still a Christmas amusement. On one occasion the village band of West Stafford was at Mr. Floyer’s (the landowner’s) at a party, where among other entertainments was that of the said hobby-horse. One of the servants was terrified death-white at the sight of it running about, and rushed into an adjoining dark room where the band’s violoncello was lying, entering with such force as to knock off the neck of the instrument.

A Pair of Blue Eyes was much to the taste of French readers, and was favourably criticized in the Revue des Deux Mondes early the next year (1877). It appears to have been also a romance that Hardy himself did not wish to let die, for we find him writing to Mr. George Smith in the following April:

‘There are circumstances in connection with A Pair of Blue Eyes which make me anxious to favour it, even at the expense of profit, if I can possibly do so. ... I know that you do sometimes, not to say frequently, take an interest in producing a book quite apart from commercial views as a publisher, and I should like to gain such interest for this one of mine. ... I can get a photograph of the picturesque Cornish coast, the scene of the story, from which a drawing could be made for the frontispiece.’

Mr. Smith replied that though he had not printed the original edition he would take it up, profit or no profit; but for some unexplained reason the book was published at other hands, the re-issue receiving much commendatory notice.

‘May 1. A man comes every evening to the cliff in front of our house to see the sun set, timing himself to arrive a few minutes before the descent. Last night he came, but there was a cloud. His disappointment.’

‘May 30. Walking to Marnhull. The prime of bird-singing. The thrushes and blackbirds are the most prominent, — pleading earnestly rather than singing, and with such modulation that you seem to see their little tongues curl inside their bills in their emphasis. A bullfinch sings from a tree with a metallic sweetness piercing as a fife. Further on I come to a hideous carcase of a house in a green landscape, like a skull on a table of dessert.’

Same date:

‘I sometimes look upon all things in inanimate Nature as pensive mutes.’

‘June 3. Mr. Young says that his grandfather [about 1750-1830] was very much excited, as was everybody in Sturminster, when a mail-coach ran from Poole to Bristol. On the morning it ran for the first time he got up early, swept the whole street, and sprinkled sand for the vehicle and horses to pass over.’

Same date:

‘The world often feels certain works of genius to be great, without knowing why: hence it may be that particular poets and novelists may have had the wrong quality in them noticed and applauded as that which makes them great.’

We also find in this June of 1877 an entry that adumbrates The Dynasts yet again — showing that the idea by this time has advanced a stage — from that of a ballad, or ballad-sequence, to a ‘ grand drama’, viz.:

‘Consider a grand drama, based on the wars with Napoleon, or some one campaign (but not as Shakespeare’s historical dramas). It might be called “Napoleon”, or “Josephine”, or by some other person’s name.’

He writes also, in another connection:

‘There is enough poetry in what is left [in life], after all the false romance has been abstracted, to make a sweet pattern: e.g. the poem by H. Coleridge:

‘“She is not fair to outward view”.

‘So, then, if Nature’s defects must be looked in the face and transcribed, whence arises the art in poetry and novel-writing? which must certainly show art, or it becomes merely mechanical reporting. I think the art lies in making these defects the basis of a hitherto unperceived beauty, by irradiating them with “the light that never was” on their surface, but is seen to be latent in them by the spiritual eye.’

‘June 28. Being Coronation Day there are games and dancing on the green at Sturminster Newton. The stewards with white rosettes. One is very anxious, fearing that while he is attending to the runners the leg of mutton on the pole will go wrong; hence he walks hither and thither with a compressed countenance and eyes far ahead.

‘The pretty girls, just before a dance, stand in inviting positions on the grass. As the couples in each figure pass near where their immediate friends loiter, each girl-partner gives a laughing glance at such friends, and whirls on.’

‘June 29. Have just passed through a painful night and morning. Our servant, whom we liked very much, was given a holiday yesterday to go to Bournemouth with her young man. Came home last night at ten, seeming oppressed. At about half-past twelve, when we were supposed to be asleep, she crept downstairs, went out, and on looking from the back window of our bedroom I saw her come from the outhouse with a man. She appeared to have only her nightgown on and something round her shoulders. Beside her slight white figure in the moonlight his form looked dark and gigantic. She preceded him to the door. Before I had thought what to do E. had run downstairs, and met her, and ordered her to bed. The man disappeared. Found that the bolts of the back-door had been oiled. He had evidently often stayed in the house.

‘She remained quiet till between four and five, when she got out of the dining-room window and vanished.’

1 June 30. About one o’clock went to her father’s cottage in the village, where we thought she had gone. Found them poorer than I expected (for they are said to be an old county family). Her father was in the field hay-making, and a little girl fetched him from the haymakers. He came across to me amid the windrows of hay, and seemed to read bad news in my face. She had not been home. I remembered that she had dressed up in her best clothes, and she probably has gone to Stalbridge to her lover.’

The further career of this young woman is not recorded, except as to one trifling detail.

‘July 4. Went to Stalbridge. Mrs. is a charming woman.

When we were looking over the church she recommended me to try a curious seat, adding, though we were only talking about the church itself, “That’s where I sat when Jamie was christened, and I could see him very well”. Another seat she pointed out with assumed casualness as being the one where she sat when she was churched; as if it were rather interesting that she did sit in those places, in spite of her not being a romantic person. When we arrived at her house she told us that Jamie really could not be seen — he was in a dreadful state — covered with hay; half laughing and catching our eyes while she spoke, as if we should know at once how intensely humorous he must appear under those circumstances. Jamie was evidently her life, and flesh, and raiment. . . . Her husband is what we call a “yopping, or yapping man”. He strains his countenance hard in smiling, and keeps it so for a distinct length of time, so that you may on no account whatever miss his smile and the point of the words that gave rise to it. Picks up pictures and china for eighteenpence worth ever so much more. Gives cottagers a new set of tea-cups with handles for old ones without handles — an exchange which they are delighted to make.

‘Country life at Sturminster. Vegetables pass from growing to boiling, fruit from the bushes to the pudding, without a moment’s halt, and the gooseberries that were ripening on the twigs at noon are in the tart an hour later.’

‘July 13. The sudden disappointment of a hope leaves a scar which the ultimate fulfilment of that hope never entirely removes.’

‘July 27. James Bushrod of Broadmayne saw the two German soldiers [of the York Hussars] shot [for desertion] on Bincombe Down in 1801. It was in the path across the Down, or near it. James Selby of the same village thinks there is a mark.’ [The tragedy was used in The Melancholy Hussar, the real names of the deserters being given.]

‘August 13. We hear that Jane, our late servant, is soon to have a baby. Yet never a sign of one is there for us.’

‘September 25. Went to Shroton Fair. In a twopenny show saw a woman beheaded. In another a man whose hair grew on one side of his face. Coming back across Hambledon Hill (where the Club - Men assembled, temp. Cromwell) a fog came on. I nearly got lost in the dark inside the earthworks, the old hump-backed man I had parted from on the other side of the hill, who was going somewhere else before coming across the earthworks in my direction, being at the bottom as soon as I. A man might go round and round all night in such a place.’

‘September 28. An object or mark raised or made by man on a scene is worth ten times any such formed by unconscious Nature. Hence clouds, mists, and mountains are unimportant beside the wear on a threshold, or the print of a hand.’

‘October 31. To Bath. Took lodgings for my father near the baths and Abbey. Met him at G.W. Station. Took him to the lodgings. To theatre in the evening. Stayed in Bath. Next day went with father to the baths, to begin the cure.’

During this year 1877 Hardy had the sadness of hearing of the death of Raphael Brandon, the literary architect whom he had been thrown with seven years earlier, at a critical stage in his own career. He also at this time entered into an interesting correspondence with Mrs. Chatteris, daughter of Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, upon some facts in the life of the latter. But his main occupation at Riverside Villa (or ‘ Rivercliff’ as they sometimes called it) was writing The Return of the Native. The only note he makes of its progress is that, on November 8, parts 3, 4, and 5 of the story were posted to Messrs. Chatto and Windus for publication in (of all places) Belgravia — a monthly magazine then running. Strangely enough, the rich alluvial district of Sturminster Newton in which the author was now living was not used by him at this time as a setting for the story he was constructing there, but the heath country twenty miles off. It may be mentioned here that the name ‘Eustacia’ which he gave to his heroine was that of the wife of the owner of the manor of Ower Moigne in the reign of Henry IV, which parish includes part of the ‘Egdon’ Heath of the story (vide Hutchins’s Dorset)-, and that ‘Clement’, the name of the hero, was suggested by its being borne by one of his supposed ancestors, Clement le Hardy, of Jersey, whose family migrated from that isle to the west of England at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

On the same day he jots down:

‘November 8. Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood came to tea. Mr. Dash - wood [a local solicitor and landowner] says that poachers elevate a pan of brimstone on a stick under pheasants at roost, and so stupefy them that they fall.

‘Sometimes the keepers make dummy pheasants and fix them in places where pheasants are known to roost: then watch by them. The poachers come; shoot and shoot again, when the keepers rush out.

‘At a battue the other day lots of the birds ran into the keeper’s house for protection.

‘Mr. D. says that a poacher he defended at Quarter Sessions asked for time to pay the fine imposed, and they gave him till the next Justice-meeting. He said to Mr. D., “I shall be able to get it out of ‘em before then”, and in fact he had in a week poached enough birds from the Justices’ preserves to pay the five pounds.’

‘November 12. A flooded river after the incessant rains of yesterday. Lumps of froth float down like swans in front of our house. At the arches of the large stone bridge the froth has accumulated and lies like hillocks of salt against the bridge; then the arch chokes, and after a silence coughs out the air and froth, and gurgles on.’

‘End ofNovember. This evening the west is like some vast foundry where new worlds are being cast.’

‘December 22. In the evening I went with Dr. Leach the coroner to an inquest which was to be held at Stourton Caundell on the body of a boy. Arrived at the Trooper Inn after a lonely drive through dark and muddy lanes. Met at the door by the Superintendent of Police and a policeman in plain clothes. Also by Mr. Long, who had begun the post-mortem. We then went to the cottage; a woman or two, and children, were sitting by the fire, who looked at us with a cowed expression. Upstairs the body of the boy lay on a box covered with a sheet. It was uncovered, and Mr. Long went on with his autopsy, I holding a candle, and the policeman another. Found a clot in the heart, but no irritant poison in the stomach, as had been suspected. The inquest was then held at the inn.’

‘December 26. In literature young men usually begin their careers by being judges, and as wisdom and old experience arrive they reach the dignity of standing as culprits at the bar before new young bloods who have in their turn sprung up in the judgment-seat.’

A correspondence with Baron Tauchnitz in reference to Continental editions of his books was one of the businesses of the year-end.

Despite the pleasure of this life at Sturminster Newton Hardy had decided that the practical side of his vocation of novelist demanded that he should have his headquarters in or near London. The wisdom of his decision, considering the nature of his writing, he afterwards questioned. So in the first week of February he and Mrs. Hardy went up to look for a house, and about the middle of the month he signed an agreement for a three-years’ lease of one at Upper Tooting, close to Wandsworth Common.

‘March 5. Concert at Sturminster. A Miss Marsh of Sutton [Keinton?] Mandeville sang “Should he upbraid”, to Bishop’s old tune. She is the sweetest of singers — thrush-like in the descending scale, and lark-like in the ascending — drawing out the soul of listeners in a gradual thread of excruciating attenuation like silk from a cocoon.’

Many years after Hardy was accustomed to say that this was the most marvellous old song in English music in its power of touching an audience. There was no surer card to play as an encore, even when it was executed but indifferently well. He wrote some lines thereon entitled ‘The Maid of Keinton Mandeville’.

‘March 18. End of the Sturminster Newton idyll . . .’ [The following is written in later] ‘ Our happiest time.’

It was also a poetical time. Several poems in Moments of Vision contain memories of it, such as ‘Overlooking the River Stour’, ‘The Musical Box’, and ‘On Sturminster Foot-Bridge’.

That evening of March 18 a man came to arrange about packing their furniture, and the next day it was all out of the house. They slept at Mrs. Dashwood’s, after breakfasting, lunching, and dining there; and in the morning saw their goods off, and left Sturminster for London.



1878-1880: Aet. 37-39

Two days later they beheld their furniture descending from a pair of vans at 1 Arundel Terrace (‘The Larches’), Trinity Road, just beyond Wandsworth Common. They had stayed at Bolingbroke Grove to be near.

‘March 22. We came from Bolingbroke Grove to Arundel Terrace and slept here for the first time. Our house is the south-east corner one where Brodrick Road crosses Trinity Road down towards Wandsworth Common Station, the side door being in Brodrick Road.’

‘April — Note. A Plot, or Tragedy, should arise from the gradual closing in of a situation that comes of ordinary human passions, prejudices, and ambitions, by reason of the characters taking no trouble to ward off the disastrous events produced by the said passions, prejudices, and ambitions.

‘The advantages of the letter-system of telling a story (passing over the disadvantages) are that, hearing what one side has to say, you are led constantly to the imagination of what the other side must be feeling, and at last are anxious to know if the other side does really feel what you imagine.’

‘April 22. The method of Boldini, the painter of “The Morning Walk” in the French Gallery two or three years ago (a young lady beside an ugly blank wall on an ugly highway) — of Hobbema, in his view of a road with formal lopped trees and flat tame scenery — is that of infusing emotion into the baldest external objects either by the presence of a human figure among them, or by mark of some human connection with them.

‘This accords with my feeling about, say, Heidelberg and Baden versus Scheveningen — as I wrote at the beginning of The Return of the Native — that the beauty of association is entirely superior to the beauty of aspect, and a beloved relative’s old battered tankard to 120

the finest Greek vase. Paradoxically put, it is to see the beauty in ugliness.’

‘April 29. Mr. George Smith (Smith Elder and Co.) informs me that how he first got to know Thackeray was through “a mutual friend” — to whom Smith said, “Tell Thackeray that I will publish everything he likes to write”. This was before Thackeray was much known, and when he had only published the Titmarsh and Yellow - plush papers. However, Thackeray did not appear. When they at length met, Thackeray said he wished to publish Vanity Fair, and Smith undertook it. Thackeray also said he had offered it to three or four publishers who had refused it. “Why didn’t you come to me? “ said Smith. “ Why didn’t you come to me? “ said Thackeray.’

‘June 8. To Grosvenor Gallery. Seemed to have left flesh behind, and entered a world of soul. In some of the pictures, e.g. A. Tadema’s “Sculpture” (men at work carving the Sphinx), and “Ariadne abandoned by Theseus” (an uninteresting dreary shore, little tent one corner, etc.) the principles I have mentioned have been applied to choice of subject.’

‘June 16. Sunday evening. At Mr. Alexander Macmillan’s with E. He told me a story the late Mrs. Carlyle told him. One day when she was standing alone on Craigenputtock Moor, where she and Mr. Carlyle were living, she discerned in the distance a red spot. It proved to be the red cloak of a woman who passed for a witch in those parts. Mrs. Carlyle got to know her, and ultimately learnt her history. She was the daughter of a laird owning about eighty acres, and there had come to their house in her young-womanhood a young dealer in cattle. The daughter and he fell in love, and were married, and both lived with her father, whose farm the young man took in hand to manage. But he ran the farmer into debt, and ultimately (I think) house and property had to be sold. The young man vanished. A boy was born to the wife, and after a while she went away to find her husband. She came back in a state of great misery, but would not tell where she had been. It leaked out that the husband was a married man. She was proud and would not complain; but her father died; the boy grew up and was intended for a schoolmaster, but he was crossing the moor one night and lost his way; was buried in the snow, and frozen to death. She lived on in a hut there, and became the red-cloaked old woman who was Mrs. Carlyle’s witch-neighbour.’

In June he was elected a member of the Savile Club, and by degrees fell into line as a London man again. Dining at Mr. Kegan Paul’s, Kensington Square, the same summer, they met Mr. Leighton (Sir F. Leighton’s father), his daughter Mrs. Sutherland Orr, who had been in India during the Mutiny, and Professor Huxley, whom they had met before at Mr. Macmillan’s. ‘ We sat down by daylight, and as we dined the moon brightened the trees in the garden, and shone under them into the room.’ For Huxley Hardy had a liking which grew with knowledge of him — though that was never great — speaking of him as a man who united a fearless mind with the warmest of hearts and the most modest of manners.

‘July. When a couple are shown to their room at an hotel, before the husband has seen that it is a room at all, the wife has found the looking-glass and is arranging her bonnet.’

‘August 3. Minto dined with me at the club. Joined at end of dinner by W. H. Pollock, and we all three went to the Lyceum. It was Irving’s last night, in which he appeared in a scene from Richard III.; then as “Jingle”; then recited “Eugene Aram’s Dream” — (the only piece of literature outside plays that actors seem to know of). As “Jingle”, forgetting his part, he kept up one shoulder as in Richard III. We went to his dressing-room, found him naked to the waist; champagne in tumblers.’

‘August 31. to Sept. 9. In Dorset. Called on William Barnes the poet. Went to Kingston Lacy to see the pictures. Dined at West-Stafford Rectory. Went with C. W. Moule [Fellow of Corpus, Cambridge] to Ford Abbey.’

‘September 20. Returned and called on G. Smith. Agreed to his terms for publishing The Return of the Native.’

Shortly after he wrote to Messrs. Smith and Elder:

‘I enclose a sketch-map of the supposed scene in which The Return of the Native is laid, copied from the one I used in writing ihe story; and my suggestion is that we place an engraving of it as frontispiece to the first volume. Unity of place is so seldom preserved in novels that a map of the scene of action is as a rule quite impracticable. But since the present story affords an opportunity of doing so I am of opinion that it would be a desirable novelty.’ The publishers fell in with the idea and the map was made.

A peculiarity in the local descriptions running through all Hardy’s writings may be instanced here — that he never uses the word ‘Dorset’, never names the county at all (except possibly in an explanatory footnote), but obliterates the names of the six counties, whose area he traverses in his scenes, under the general appellation of ‘ Wessex’ — an old word that became quite popular after the date of Far from the Madding Crowd, where he first introduced it. So far did he carry this idea of the unity of Wessex that he used to say he had grown to forget the crossing of county boundaries within the ancient kingdom — in this respect being quite unlike the poet Barnes, who was ‘Dorset’ emphatically.

Mrs. Hardy used to relate that during this summer, she could not tell exactly when, she looked out of a window at the back of the house, and saw her husband running without a hat down Brodrick Road, and disappearing round a corner into a by-street. Before she had done wondering what could have happened, he returned, and all was explained. While sitting in his writing-room he had heard a street barrel-organ of the kind that used to be called a ‘harmoniflute’, playing somewhere near at hand the very quadrille over which the jaunty young man who had reached the end of his time at Hicks’s had spread such a bewitching halo more than twenty years earlier by describing the glories of dancing round to its beats on the Cre - morne platform or at the Argyle Rooms, and which Hardy had never been able to identify. He had thrown down his pen, and, as she had beheld, flown out and approached the organ-grinder with such speed that the latter, looking frightened, began to shuffle off. Hardy called out, ‘What’s the name of that tune?’ The grinder — a young foreigner, who could not speak English — exclaimed trembling as he stopped, ‘Quad-ree-ya! quad-ree-ya!’ and pointed to the index in front of the instrument. Hardy looked: ‘Quadrille’ was the only word there. He had till then never heard it since his smart senior had whistled it; he never heard it again, and never ascertained its name. It was possibly one of Jullien’s — then gone out of vogue — set off rather by the youthful imagination of Hardy at sixteen than by any virtue in the music itself.

‘October 27. Sunday. To Chelsea Hospital and Ranelagh Gardens: met a palsied pensioner — deaf. He is 88 — was in the Seventh (?) Hussars. He enlisted in 1807 or 1808, served under Sir John Moore in the Peninsula, through the Retreat, and was at Waterloo. It was extraordinary to talk and shake hands with a man who had shared in that terrible winter march to Coruna, and had seen Moore face to face.

‘Afterwards spoke to two or three others. When an incorrigible was drummed out of barracks to the tune of the Rogue’s March — (as my father had told me) — all the facings and the buttons were previously cut from his uniform, and a shilling given him. The fifes and drums accompanied him only just beyond the barrack-gates.

‘In those days if you only turned your eye you were punished. My informant had known men receive 600 lashes — 300 at a time, or 900, if the doctor said it could be borne. After the punishment salt was rubbed on the victim’s back, to harden it. He did not feel the pain of this, his back being numbed by the lashes. The men would hold a bullet between their teeth and chew it during the operation.’

The Return of the Native was published by Messrs. Smith and Elder in November, The Times’ remark upon the book being that the reader found himself taken farther from the madding crowd than ever. Old Mrs. Procter’s amusing criticism in a letter was: ‘ Poor Eustacia. I so fully understood her longing for the Beautiful. I love the Common; but still one may wish for something else. I rejoice that Venn [a character] is happy. A man is never cured when he loves a stupid woman [Thomasin]. Beauty fades, and intelligence and wit grow irritating; but your dear Dulness is always the same.’

‘November 28. Woke before it was light. Felt that I had not enough staying power to hold my own in the world.’

On the last day of the year Hardy’s father wrote, saying that his mother was unwell, and that he had ‘drunk both their healths in gin and rhubarb wine, with hopes that they would live to see many and many a New Year’s day’. He suggested that they should come ere long.

‘1879. January New Year’s thought. A perception of the FAILURE of THINGS to be what they are meant to be, lends them, in place of the intended interest, a new and greater interest of an unintended kind.’

The poem ‘A January Night. 1879’ in Moments of Vision relates to an incident of this new year (1879) which occurred here at Tooting, where they seemed to begin to feel that ‘ there had past away a glory from the earth’. And it was in this house that their troubles began. This, however, is anticipating unduly.

‘January 30. 1879. In Steven’s book-shop, Holywell Street. A bustling, vigorous young curate comes in — red-faced and full of life — the warm breath puffing from his mouth in a jet into the frosty air, and religion sitting with an ill grace upon him.

‘“Have you Able to Save?”

‘Shopman addressed does not know, and passes on the inquiry to the master standing behind with his hat on: “Able to Save?”

“‘I don’t know — hoi! (to boy at other end). Got Able to Save? Why the devil can’t you attend!”

‘“What, Sir?”

‘“Able to Save/”

‘Boy’s face a blank. Shopman to curate: “ Get it by to-morrow afternoon, Sir.”

‘“And please get Words of Comfort.”

‘“ Words of Comfort. Yes, Sir.” Exit curate.

‘Master: “Why the h don’t anybody here know what’s in stock?” Business proceeds in a subdued manner.’

‘February i. To Dorchester. Cold. Rain on snow. Henry seen advancing through it, with wagonette and Bob [their father’s horse], to the station entrance. Drove me to Bockhampton through the sleet and rain from the East, which shaved us like a razor. Wind on Fordington Moor cut up my sleeves and round my wrists — even up to my elbows. The light of the lamp at the bottom of the town shone on the reins in Henry’s hands, and showed them glistening with ice. Bob’s behind-part was a mere grey arch; his foreparts invisible.’

‘February 4. To Weymouth and Portland. As to the ruined walls in the low part of Chesil, a woman says the house was washed down in the November gale of 1824. The owner never rebuilt it, but emigrated with his family. She says that in her house one person was drowned (they were all in bed except the fishermen) and next door two people. It was about four in the morning that the wave came.’

‘February 7. Father says that when there was a hanging at Dorchester in his boyhood it was carried out at one o’clock, it being the custom to wait till the mail-coach came in from London in case of a reprieve.

‘He says that at Puddletown Church, at the time of the old west - gallery violin, oboe, and clarionet players, Tom Sherren (one of them) used to copy tunes during the sermon. So did my grandfather at Stinsford Church. Old Squibb the parish-clerk used also to stay up late at night helping my grandfather in his “prick-noting” (as he called it).

‘He says that William, son of Mr. Sthe Rector of W,

became a miller at OMill, and married a German woman whom he met at Puddletown Fair playing her tambourine. When her husband was gone to market she used to call in John Porter, who could play the fiddle, and lived near, and give him some gin, when she would beat the tambourine to his playing. She was a good-natured woman with blue eyes, brown hair, and a round face; rather slovenly.

Her husband was a hot, hasty fellow, though you could hear by his speech that he was a better educated man than ordinary millers.

‘G. R. (who is a humorist) showed me his fowl-house,

which was built of old church-materials bought at Wellspring the builder’s sale. R.’s chickens roost under the gilt-lettered Lord’s Prayer and Creed, and the cock crows and flaps his wings against the Ten Commandments. It reminded me that I had seen these same Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, and Creed, before, forming the sides of the stone-mason’s shed in that same builder’s yard, and that he had remarked casually that they did not prevent the workmen “cussing and damning” the same as ever. It also reminded me of seeing the old font ofChurch, Dorchester, in a garden, used as a flower-vase, the initials of ancient godparents and Churchwardens still legible upon it. A comic business — church restoration.

‘A villager says of the parson, who has been asked to pray for a sick person: “His prayers wouldn’t save a mouse”.’

‘February 12. Sketched the English Channel from Mayne Down.

‘I am told that when Jack Ketch had done whipping by the Town Pump [Dorchester] the prisoners’ coats were thrown over their bleeding backs, and, guarded by the town constables with their long staves, they were conducted back to prison. Close at their heels came J. K., the cats held erect — there was one cat to each man — the lashes were of knotted whipcord.

‘Also that in a village near Yeovil about 100 years ago, there lived a dumb woman, well known to my informant’s mother. One day the woman suddenly spoke and said:

‘“A cold winter, a forward spring, A bloody summer, a dead King” j ‘She then dropped dead. The French Revolution followed immediately after.’

‘February 15. Returned to London.’

‘April 5. Mary writes to tell me that “there is a very queer quire at Steepleton Church. It consists only of a shoemaker who plays the bass-viol, and his mother who sings the air.”‘

‘June 9. To the International Literary Congress at the rooms of the Society of Arts. Met M. de Lesseps. A few days afterwards to the Soiree Musicale at the Hanover Square Club, to meet members of the Literary Congress and the Com^die Frangaise: A large gathering. The whole thing a free-and-easy mix-up. I was a total stranger, and wondered why I was there: many others were total strangers to everybody else; sometimes two or three of these total strangers would fraternize from very despair. A little old Frenchman, however, who bustled about in a skull cap and frilled shirt, seemed to know everybody.’

‘June 21. With E. to Bosworth Smith’s, Harrow (for the weekend). In the aviary he has a raven and a barn owl. One ridiculously small boy was in tails — he must have been a bright boy, but I forgot to ask about him. One of the boys in charity-tails could have eaten him.

‘Bos’s brother Henry the invalid has what I fear to be a churchyard cough [he died not so very long after]. His cough pleases the baby, so he coughs artificially much more than required by his disease, to go on pleasing the baby. Mrs. H. S. implores her husband not to do so; but he does, nevertheless, showing the extraordinary nonchalance about death that so many of his family show.

‘In chapel — which we attended — the little tablets in memory of the boys who have died at school there were a moving sight.

‘Sunday night we went with Bos, to the boys’ dormitories. One boy was unwell, and we talked to him as he lay in bed, his arm thrown over his head. Another boy has his room hung with proof engravings after Landseer. In another room were the two Ks of Clyffe. In another a big boy and a little boy — the little boy being very earnest about birds’ eggs, and the big boy silently affecting a mind above the subject, though covertly interested.’

‘27. From Tooting to Town again. In railway carriage a too statuesque girl; but her features were absolutely perfect. She sat quite still, and her smiles did not extend further than a finger-nail’s breadth from the edge of her mouth. The repose of her face was such that when the train shook her it seemed painful. Her mouth was very small, and her face not unlike that of a nymph. In the train coming home there was a contrasting girl of sly humour — the pupil of her eye being mostly half under the eyelid.’

It was in this year that pourparlers were opened with Leslie Stephen about another story for the Cornhill; and Hardy informed him that he was writing a tale of the reign of George III; on which Stephen remarks in respect of historical novels:

‘I can only tell you what is my own taste, but I rather think that my taste is in this case the common one. I think that a historical character in a novel is almost always a nuisance; but I like to have a bit of history in the background, so to speak; to feel that George III. is just round the corner, though he does not present himself in full front.’

Since coming into contact with Leslie Stephen about 1873, as has been shown, Hardy had been much influenced by his philosophy, and also by his criticism. He quotes the following sentence from Stephen in his note-book under the date of July 1, 1879:

‘The ultimate aim of the poet should be to touch our hearts by showing his own, and not to exhibit his learning, or his fine taste, or his skill in mimicking the notes of his predecessors.’ That Hardy adhered pretty closely to this principle when he resumed the writing of poetry can hardly be denied.

‘July 8 or 9. With E. to Mrs. [Alexander] Macmillan’s garden - party at Knapdale, near our house. A great many present. Talked to Mr. White of Harvard University, and Mr. Henry Holt the New York publisher, who said that American spelling and idiom must prevail over the English, as it was sixty millions against thirty. I forgot for the moment to say that it did not follow, the usage set up by a few people of rank, education, and fashion being the deciding factor. Also to John Morley, whom I had not seen since he read my first manuscript. He remembered it, and said in his level uninterested voice: “Well, since we met, you have . . .” etc. etc. Also met a Mrs. H., who pretended to be an admirer of my books, and apparently had never read one. She had with her an American lady, sallow, with black dancing eyes, dangling earrings, yellow costume, and gay laugh.’ It was at this garden-party at Mrs. Macmillan’s that the thunderstorm came on which Hardy made use of in a similar scene in A Laodicean.

‘July 12. To Chislehurst to funeral of young Louis Napoleon. Met [Sir G.] Greenhill in the crowd. We stood on the common while the procession passed. Was struck by the profile of Prince Napoleon as he walked by bareheaded, a son on each arm: complexion dark, sallow, even sinister: a round projecting chin: countenance altogether extraordinarily remindful of Boney.’ Hardy said long after that this sight of Napoleon’s nephew — ‘Plon-Plon’ — had been of enormous use to him, when writing The Dynasts, in imagining the Emperor’s appearance. And it has been remarked somewhere in print that when the Prince had been met, without warning in Paris at night, crossing one of the bridges over the Seine, the beholder had started back aghast under the impression that he was seeing the spirit of the great Napoleon.

‘July 29. Charles Leland — a man of higher literary rank than ever was accorded him [the American author of Hans Breitmanns Ballads and translator of Heine] — told some of his gipsy tales at the Savile Club, including one of how he visited at a country mansion and while there went to see a gipsy-family living in a tent on the squire’s land. He talked to them in Romany, and was received by the whole family as a bosom-friend. He was told by the head gipsy that his, the gipsy’s, brother would be happy to know him when he came out of gaol, but that at present he was doing six months for a horse. While Leland was sitting by the fire drinking brandy-and - water with this friend, the arrival of some gentlemen and ladies, fellow-guests at the house he was staying at, was announced. They had come to see the gipsies out of curiosity. Leland threw his brandy from his glass into the fire, not to be seen tippling there, but as they entered it blazed up in a blue flare much to their amazement, as if they thought it some unholy libation, which added to their surprise at discovering him. How he explained himself I cannot remember.’

In the latter half of August Hardy paid a visit to his parents in Dorset and a week later Mrs. Hardy joined him there. They spent a few days in going about the district, and then took lodgings at Weymouth, right over the harbour, his mother coming to see them, and driving to Portland, Upwey, etc., in their company. Their time in the port was mostly wet; ‘ the [excursion] steamer-bell ringing persistently, and nobody going on board except an unfortunate boys’ school that had come eight miles by train that morning to spend a happy day by the sea. The rain goes into their baskets of provisions, and runs out a strange mixture of cake-juice and mustard-water, but they try to look as if they were enjoying it — all except the pale thin assistant-master who has come with them, and whose face is tragic with his responsibilities. The Quay seems quite deserted till, on going along it, groups of boatmen are discovered behind each projecting angle of wall — martyrs in countenance, talking of what their receipts would have been if the season had turned out fine; and the landladies’ faces at every lodging-house window watching the drizzle and the sea it half obscures. Two adventurous visitors have emerged from their lodgings as far as the doorway, where they stand in their waterproof cloaks and goloshes, saying cheerfully, “the air will do us good, and we can change as soon as we come in”. Young men rush to the bathing machines in ulsters, and the men engaged in loading a long-voyage steamer lose all patience, and say: “ I’m blanked, if it goes on much longer like this we shall be rotted alive!” The tradespeople are exceptionally civil, and fancy prices have miraculously disappeared. . . .

‘Am told that has turned upon her drunken husband at last, and knocks him down without ceremony. In the morning he holds out his trembling hand and says, “Give me a sixpence for a drop o’ brandy — please do ye, my dear!’“ This was a woman Hardy had known as a pretty laughing girl, who had been married for the little money she had.



1879-1880: Aet. 39-40

After their return to London they visited and dined out here and there, and as Mrs. Hardy had never seen the Lord Mayor’s Show Hardy took her to view it from the upper windows of Good Words in Ludgate Hill. She remarked that the surface of the crowd seemed like a boiling cauldron of porridge. He jots down that ‘as the crowd grows denser it loses its character of an aggregate of countless units, and becomes an organic whole, a molluscous black creature having nothing in common with humanity, that takes the shape of the streets along which it has lain itself, and throws out horrid excrescences and limbs into neighbouring alleys; a creature whose voice exudes from its scaly coat, and who has an eye in every pore of its body. The balconies, stands, and railway-bridge are occupied by small detached shapes of the same tissue, but of gentler motion, as if they were the spawn of the monster in their midst.’

On a Sunday in the same November they met in Mr. Frith’s studio, to which they had been invited, Sir Percy Shelley (the son of Percy Bysshe) and Lady Shelley. Hardy said afterwards that the meeting was as shadowy and remote as were those previous occasions when he had impinged on the penumbra of the poet he loved — that time of his sleeping at the Cross-Keys, St. John Street, and that of the visits he paid to Old St. Pancras Churchyard. He was to enter that faint penumbra twice more, once when he stood beside Shelley’s dust in the English cemetery at Rome, and last when by Mary Shelley’s grave at Bournemouth.

They also met in the studio a deaf old lady, introduced as ‘Lady Bacon’ (though she must have been Lady Charlotte Bacon), who ‘ talked vapidly of novels, saying she never read them — not thinking them positively wicked, but, well . . .’. Mr. Frith afterwards explained that she was Byron’s Ianthe, to whom he dedicated the First and Second Cantos of Childe Harold when she was Lady Charlotte Harley. That ‘Peri of the West’, with an eye ‘wild as the Gazelle’s’, and a voice that had entered Byron’s ear, was now a feeble beldame muffled up in black and furs. (It may be mentioned that she died the following year.)

Hardy met there too — a distinctly modern juxtaposition — Miss Braddon, who ‘had a broad, thought-creased, world-beaten face a most amiable woman’, whom he always liked.

In December Hardy attended the inaugural dinner of the Rabelais Club at the Tavistock Hotel, in a ‘large, empty, dimly-lit, cheerless apartment, with a gloomy crimson screen hiding what remained of the only cheerful object there — the fire. There was a fog in the room as in the streets, and one man only came in evening dress, who, Walter Pollock said, looked like the skull at the banquet, but who really looked like a conjuror dying of the cold among a common set of thick-jacketed men who could stand it. When I came in Leland turned his high flat fa$ade to me — like that of a clock-tower; his face being the clock-face, his coat swaying like a pendulum; features earnest and energetic, altogether those of a single-minded man. There were also Fred Pollock, girlish-looking; and genial Walter Besant, with his West-of-England sailor face and silent pantomimic laughter. Sir Patrick Colquhoun was as if he didn’t know what he was there for, how he arrived there, or how he was going to get home again. Two others present, Palmer [afterwards murdered in the East] and Joe Knight [the dramatic critic] also seemed puzzled about it.

‘When dinner was over and things had got warmer, Leland in his speech remarked with much emphasis that we were men who ought to be encouraged, which sentiment was applauded with no misgivings of self-conceit. D, now as always, made himself the clown of our court, privileged to say anything by virtue of his’ office. Hence when we rose to drink the health of absent members, he stayed firmly sitting, saying he would not drink it because they ought to have been there, afterwards lapsing into Spanish on the strength of his being going some day to publish a translation of Don Quixote. Altogether we were as Rabelaisian as it was possible to be in the foggy circumstances, though I succeeded but poorly.’

It should be explained that this Rabelais Club, which had a successful existence for many years, had been instituted by Sir Walter Besant — a great lover of clubs and societies — as a declaration for virility in literature. Hardy was pressed to join as being the most virile writer of works of imagination then in London; while, it may be added, Henry James after a discussion was rejected for the lack of that quality, though he was afterwards invited as a guest.

On the first of February 1B80 Hardy observed a man skating by himself on the pond by the Trinity-Church Schools at Upper Tooting, near his own house, and was moved to note down:

‘It is a warm evening for the date, and there has been a thaw for two or three days, so that the birds sing cheerfully. A buttercup is said to be visible somewhere, and spring has, in short, peeped in upon us. What can the sentiments of that man be, to enjoy ice at such a time? The mental jar must overcome physical enjoyment in any well-regulated mind. He skates round the edge, it being unsafe to go into the middle, and he seems to sigh as he puts up with a limitation resulting from blessed promise.’

‘1 Arundel Terrace, Trinity Road, ‘Upper Tooting, S.W.

‘Feb. 2, 1880.

‘Dear Mr. Locker,

‘I can hardly express to you how grateful I am to get your letter. When I consider the perfect literary taste that is shown in all your own writings, apart from their other merits, I am not sure that I do not value your expressions of pleasure more highly than all the printed criticisms put together. It is very generous of you to pass over the defects of style in the book which, whenever I look into it, seem blunders that any child ought to have avoided.

‘In enjoying your poems over again, I felt — will you mind my saying it? — quite ill-used to find you had altered two of my favourite lines which I had been in the habit of muttering to myself for some years past. I mean ‘“They never do so now — because I’m not so handsome as I was.”

‘I shall stick to the old reading as much the nicest, whatever you may choose to do in new editions.

‘One other remark of quite a different sort. I unhesitatingly affirm that nothing more beautiful and powerful, for its length, than “the Old Stone-Mason” has been done by any modern poet. The only poem which has affected me at all in the same way is Wordsworth’s “Two April Mornings”, but this being less condensed than yours does not strike through one with such sudden power as yours in the last verse.

‘I will not forget to give myself the pleasure of calling some Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile I should hope that you will be so kindly disposed as to give us a few more “ old stone-masons” as well as ballads of a lighter kind.

‘Believe me, Yours very truly,

‘Thomas Hardy.’

The same week Hardy met Matthew Arnold — probably for the first time — at a dinner given by Mr. G. Murray Smith, the publisher, at the Continental Hotel, where also were present Henry James and Richard Jefferies — the latter a modest young man then getting into notice as a writer, through having a year or so earlier published his first successful book, entitled The Gamekeeper at Home.

Arnold, according to Hardy’s account of their meeting much later, ‘had a manner of having made up his mind upon everything years ago, so that it was a pleasing futility for his interlocutor to begin thinking new ideas, different from his own, at that time of day’. Yet he was frank and modest enough to assure Hardy deprecatingly that he was only a hard-worked school-inspector.

He seems to have discussed the subject of literary style with the younger writer, but all the latter could recall of his remarks thereon was his saying that ‘ the best man to read for style — narrative style — was Swift’ — an opinion that may well be questioned, like many more of Arnold’s pronouncements, despite his undoubtedly true ones.

At dinner an incident occurred in which he was charmingly amusing. Mrs. Murray Smith having that afternoon found herself suddenly too unwell to preside, her place had to be taken at the last minute by her daughter, and, it being the latter’s first experience of the kind, she was timorous as to the time of withdrawal, murmuring to Arnold, ‘I — think we must retire now?’ Arnold put his hand upon her shoulder and pressed her down into her seat as if she were a child — she was not much more, — saying, ‘No, no! what’s the use of going into that room? Now I’ll pour you out a glass of sherry to keep you here.’ And kept there she and the other ladies were.

‘Savile Club, ‘Savile Row, W.

‘February 11, 1880.

‘Dear Mr. Handley Moule,

‘I have just been reading in a Dorset paper a report of your sermon on the death of the Rev. H. Moule, and I cannot refrain from sending you a line to tell you how deeply it has affected me, and — what is more to the point — to express my sense of the singular power with which you have brought Mr. Moule’s life and innermost heart before all readers of that address.

‘You will, I am sure, believe me when I say that I have been frequently with you and your brothers in spirit during the last few days. Though not, topographically, a parishioner of your father’s I virtually stood in that relation to him, and his home generally, during many years of my life, and I always feel precisely as if I had been one. I had many times resolved during the year or two before his death to try to attend a service in the old Church in the old way before he should be gone: but to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow! — I never did.

‘A day or two ago Matthew Arnold talked a good deal about him to me: he was greatly struck with an imperfect description I gave him (from what I had heard my father say) of the state of Fordington 50 years ago, and its state after the vicar had brought his energies to bear upon the village for a few years. His words “energy is genius” express your father very happily.

‘Please give my kind remembrances to Mr. Charles Moule and your other brothers who have not forgotten me — if they are with you — and believe me,

‘Sincerely yours,

‘Thomas Hardy.’

The first week in March the Hardys called by arrangement on Mrs. Procter — the widow of ‘Barry Cornwall’ — at her flat in Queen Anne’s Mansions. Hardy had been asked to her house when he first made her acquaintance before his marriage, and when her husband was living, though bedridden: but being then, as always, backward in seeking new friends, Hardy had never gone — to his regret. He was evidently impressed newly by her on this call, as one who was a remarkable link with the literary past, though she herself was not a literary woman; and the visit on this Sunday afternoon was the first one of a long series of such, extending over many years almost to her death, for she showed a great liking for Hardy and his wife, and she always made them particularly welcome. It was here, on these Sunday afternoons, that they used frequently to meet Browning.

Hardy said after her death that on such occasions she sat in a fixed attitude, almost as if placed in her seat like an unconscious image of Buddha. Into her eyes and face would come continually an expression from a time fifty or sixty years before, when she was a handsome coquette, a faint tendency to which would show even in old age in the momentary archness of her glance now and then. ‘You would talk to her’, he said, ‘and believe you were talking to a person of the same date as yourself, with recent emotions and impulses: you would see her sideways when crossing the room to show you something, and realise her, with sudden sadness, to be a withered woman whose interests and emotions must be nearly extinct.’

Of the poets she had met she expressed herself to have been un - attracted by Wordsworth’s personality, but to have had a great liking for Leigh Hunt. She remembered that the latter called one day, bringing with him ‘a youth whom nobody noticed much’, and who remained in the background, Hunt casually introducing him as ‘Mr. Keats’.

She would also tell of an experience she and her husband had, shortly after their marriage, when they were living in fashionable lodgings in Southampton Row. They went to see Lamb at Edmonton, and caused him much embarrassment by a hint that she would like to wash her hands, it being a hot day. He seemed bewildered and asked stammeringly if she would mind washing them in the kitchen, which she did.

A little later she wrote to Hardy concerning his short story Fellow - Townsmen, which had lately come out in a periodical:

‘You are cruel. Why not let him come home again and marry his first love? But I see you are right. He should not have deserted her. I smiled about the Tombstone. Sir Francis Chantrey told me that he had prepared fine plans — nothing could be too beautiful and too expensive at first, and the end was generally merely a headstone.’

It was in the same month, and in the company of Mrs. Procter, that Hardy lunched at Tennyson’s at a house Tennyson had temporarily taken in Belgrave Street; Mrs. Tennyson, though an invalid, presiding at the table, at the end of which she reclined, and his friends F. Locker, Countess Russell (Lord John’s widow), Lady Agatha Russell, and others, being present. ‘When I arrived Mrs. Tennyson was lying as if in a coffin, but she got up to welcome me.’ Hardy often said that he was surprised to find such an expression of humour in the Poet-Laureate’s face, the corners of his mouth twitching with that mood when he talked; ‘it was a genial human face, which all his portraits belied’; and it was enhanced by a beard and hair straggling like briars, a shirt with a large loose collar, and old steel spectacles. He was very sociable that day, asking Mrs. Procter absurd riddles, and telling Hardy amusing stories, and about misprints in hi abooks that drove him wild, one in especial of late, where ‘airy does ‘eiad appeared as ‘hairy does’. He said he liked A Pair of Blue Eyes the best of Hardy’s novels. Tennyson also told him that he and his family were compelled to come to London for a month or two every year, though he hated it, because they all ‘got so rusty’ down in the Isle of Wight if they did not come at all. Hardy often regretted that he never again went to see them, though warmly invited that day both by Tennyson and his wife to pay them a visit at Freshwater.

‘March 24. Lunched with Mrs. Procter. She showed me one of her late husband’s love-letters, date 1824. Also a photo of Henry James. She says he has made her an offer of marriage. Can it be so?’ Mrs. Procter was born in 1800.

At this time he writes down, ‘A Hint for Reviewers — adapted from Carlyle:

‘Observe what is true, not what is false; what is to be loved and held fast, and earnestly laid to heart; not what is to be contemned, and derided, and sportfully cast out-of-doors.’

The Hardys’ house at Upper Tooting stood in a rather elevated position, and when the air was clear they could see a long way from the top windows. The following note on London at dawn occurs on May 19, a night on which he could not sleep, partly on account of an eerie feeling which sometimes haunted him, a horror at lying down in close proximity to ‘a monster whose body had four million heads and eight million eyes’:

‘In upper back bedroom at daybreak: just past three. A golden light behind the horizon; within it are the Four Millions. The roofs are damp gray: the streets are still filled with night as with a dark stagnant flood whose surface brims to the tops of the houses. Above the air is light. A fire or two glares within the mass. Behind are the Highgate Hills. On the Crystal Palace hills in the other direction a lamp is still burning up in the daylight. The lamps are also still flickering in the street, and one policeman walks down it as if it were noon.’

Two days later they were sitting in the chairs by Rotten Row and the Park Drive, and the chief thing he noticed against the sun in the west was that ‘a sparrow descends from the tree amid the stream of vehicles, and drinks from the little pool left by the watering - cart’ — the same sunlight causing ‘a glitter from carriage-lamp glasses, from Coachmen’s and footmen’s buttons, from silver carriage handles and harness mountings, from a matron’s bracelet, from four parasols of four young ladies in a landau, their parasol-lYdis touching like four mushrooms growing close together.’•’-

On the 26th, the Derby Day, Hardy went alone to Epsom. On his way he noticed that ‘all the people going to the races have a twinkle in their eye, particularly the old men’. He lunched there with a friend, and together they proceeded, by permission, through Lord Rosebery’s grounds to the Down. They saw and examined the favourite before he emerged — neither one of the twain knowing anything of race-horses or betting — ’ the jockeys in their greatcoats; little ghastly men looking half putrid, standing silent and apathetic while their horses were rubbed down, and saddles adjusted’; till they passed on into the paddock, and the race was run, and the shouts arose, and they ‘were greeted by a breeze of tobacco-smoke and orange-peels’.

During the summer he dined at clubs, etc., meeting again Lord Houghton, Du Maurier, Henry Irving, and Alma-Tadema, among others. Toole, who was at one of these dinners, imitated a number of other actors, Irving included; and though the mimicry was funny and good, ‘ghostliness arose, in my mind at least, when after a few living ones had been mimicked, each succeeding representation turned out to be that of an actor then in his grave. “What did they go dying for, stupids!” said somebody, when Toole’s face suddenly lost its smiling.’

In July he met Lord Houghton again at dinner, and was introduced by him to James Russell Lowell, who was also present. His opinion of Lowell was that as a man he was charming, as a writer one of extraordinary talent, but of no instinctive and creative genius.

In the same month he arranged with Messrs. Smith and Elder for the three-volume publication of The Trumpet-Major, which had been coming out in a periodical, and on the 27th started with Mrs. Hardy for Boulogne, Amiens — ’ the misfortune of the Cathedral is that it does not look half so lofty as it really is’ — and several towns in Normandy, including Etretat, where they put up at the Hotel Blan - quet, and stayed some time, bathing every day — a recreation which cost Hardy dear, for being fond of swimming he was apt to stay too long in the water. Anyhow he blamed these frequent immersions for starting the long illness from which he suffered the following autumn and winter.

From Etretat they went to Havre, and here they had half an hour of whimsical uneasiness. The hotel they chose was on the Quay,

one that had been recommended to Hardy by a stranger on the coach, and was old and gloomy in the extreme when they got inside. Mrs. Hardy fancied that the landlord’s look was sinister; also the landlady’s; and the waiter’s manner seemed queer. Their room was hung with heavy dark velvet, and when the chambermaid came, and they talked to her, she sighed continually and spoke in a foreboding voice; as if she knew what was going to happen to them, and was on their side, but could do nothing. The floor of the bedroom was painted a bloody red, and the wall beside the bed was a little battered, as if struggles had taken place there. When they were left to themselves Hardy suddenly remembered that he had told the friendly stranger with whom he had travelled on the coach from fitretat, and who had recommended the inn, that he carried his money with him in Bank notes to save the trouble of circular notes. He had known it was a thing one never should do; yet he had done it.

They then began to search the room, found a small door behind the curtains of one of their beds, and on opening it there was revealed inside a closet of lumber, which had at its innermost recess another door, leading they did not know whither. With their luggage they barricaded the closet door, so jamming their trunks and portmanteau between the door and the nearest bedstead that it was impossible to open the closet. They lay down and waited, keeping the light burning a long time. Nothing happened, and they slept soundly at last, and awoke to a bright sunny morning.

August 5. They went on to Trouville, to the then fashionable Hotel Bellevue, and thence to Honfleur, a place more to Hardy’s mind, after the fast life of Trouville. On a gloomy gusty afternoon, going up the steep incline through the trees behind the town they came upon a Calvary tottering to its fall; and as it rocked in the wind like a ship’s mast Hardy thought that the crudely painted figure of Christ upon it seemed to writhe and cry in the twilight: ‘ Yes, Yes! I agree that this travesty of me and my doctrines should totter and overturn in this modern world!’ They hastened on from the strange and ghastly scene.

Thence they went to Lisieux and Caen, where they spent some days, returning to London by the way they had come.

Going down to Dorset in September, Hardy was informed of a curious bit of family history; that his mother’s grandfather was a man who worried a good deal about the disposition of his property as he grew old. It was mostly in the form of long leasehold and life - hold houses, and he would call on his lawyer about once a fortnight to make some alteration in his will. The lawyer lived at Bere Regis and her grandfather used to talk the matter over with the man who was accustomed to drive him there and back — a connection of his by marriage. Gradually this man so influenced the testator on each journey, by artfully playing on his nervous perplexities as they drove along, that he got three-quarters of the property, including the houses, bequeathed to himself.

The same month he replied to a letter from J. R. Lowell, then American Minister in London:

‘Dear Mr. Lowell:

‘I have read with great interest the outline of the proposed Copyright treaty that you have communicated to me in your letter of the 16 th.

‘For my own part I should be quite ready to accept some such treaty — with a modification in detail mentioned below — since whatever may be one’s opinion on an author’s abstract right to manufacture his property in any country most convenient to him, the treaty would unquestionably remove the heaviest grievances complained of under the existing law.

‘The modification I mention refers to the three-months term of grace to be allowed to foreign authors who do not choose to print in both countries simultaneously.

‘If I clearly understand the provisions under this head it may happen that in the event of any difficulty about terms between the author and his foreign publishers the author would be bound to give way as the end of the three months approached, or lose all by lapse of copyright. With some provision to meet such a contingency as this the treaty would seem to me satisfactory.’

Accompanying Mrs. Hardy on a day’s shopping in October Hardy makes this remark on the saleswoman at a fashionable dressmaking establishment in Regent Street, from observing her while he sat waiting:

‘She is a woman of somewhat striking appearance, tall, thin, decided; one who knows what life is, and human nature, to plenitude. Hence she acts as by clockwork; she puts each cloak on herself, turns round, makes a remark, puts on the next cloak, and the next, and so on, like an automaton. She knows by heart every mood in which a feminine buyer of cloaks can possibly be, and has a machine - made answer promptly ready for each.’

On the 16th of October he and his wife paid a visit of a week to Cambridge, in spirits that would have been considerably lower if they had known what was to befall them on their return. They received much hospitality, and were shown the usual buildings and other things worth seeing, though Cambridge was not new to Hardy. After the first day or two he felt an indescribable physical weariness, which was really the beginning of the long illness he was to endure; but he kept going.

Attending the 5 o’clock service at King’s Chapel, he comments upon the architect ‘who planned this glorious work of fine intelligence’; also upon Milton’s ‘dim religious light’ beheld here, and the scene presented by the growing darkness as viewed from the stalls where they sat. ‘ The reds and the blues of the windows became of one indistinguishable black, the candles guttered in the most fantastic shapes I ever saw — and while the wicks burnt down these weird shapes changed form; so that you were fascinated into watching them, and wondering what shape those wisps of wax would take next, till they dropped off with a click during a silence. They were stalactites, plumes, laces; or rather they were surplices, — frayed shreds from those of bygone “white-robed scholars”, or from their shrouds — dropping bit by bit in a ghostly decay. Wordsworth’s ghost, too, seemed to haunt the place, lingering and wandering on somewhere alone in the fan-traceried vaulting.’




1880-1881: Aet. 40-41

They returned to London on October the 23rd — the very day The Trumpet-Major was published, Hardy feeling by this time very unwell, so unwell that he had to write and postpone an engagement or two, and decline an invitation to Fryston by Lord Houghton. On the Sunday after he was worse, and seeing the name of a surgeon on a brass plate opposite his house, sent for him. The surgeon came at once, and came again on that and the two or three succeeding days; he said that Hardy was bleeding internally. Mrs. Hardy, in her distress, called on their neighbours the Macmillans, to ask their opinion, and they immediately sent their own doctor. He agreed about the bleeding, said the case was serious; and that the patient was not to get up on any account.

Later it was supposed that a dangerous operation would be necessary, till the doctor inquired how long Hardy could lie in bed — could he lie there, if necessary, for months? — in which case there possibly need be no operation.

Now he had already written the early chapters of a story for Harper’s Magaiine — A Laodicean, which was to begin in the (nominally) December number, issued in November. The first part was already printed, and Du Maurier was illustrating it. The story had to go on somehow, it happening, unfortunately, that the number containing it was the first number also of the publication of Harper s as an English and not exclusively American magazine as hitherto, and the success of its launch in London depended largely upon the serial tale. Its writer was, during the first few weeks, in considerable pain, and compelled to lie on an inclined plane with the lower part of his body higher than his head. Yet he felt determined to finish the novel, at whatever stress to himself — so as not to ruin the new venture of the publishers, and also in the interests of his wife, for whom as yet he had made but a poor provision in the event of his own decease. Accordingly from November onwards he began dictating it to her from the awkward position he occupied; and continued to do so — with greater ease as the pain and haemorrhage went off. She worked bravely both at writing and nursing, till at the beginning of the following May a rough draft was finished by one shift and another.

‘November 20. Freiherr von Tauchnitz Junior called.’ This was probably about a Continental edition of The Trumpet-Major. But Hardy was still too ill to see him. The Trumpet-Major, however, duly appeared in the Tauchnitz series.

It is somewhat strange that at the end of November he makes a note of an intention to resume poetry as soon as possible. Having plenty of time to think he also projected as he lay what he calls a ‘Great Modern Drama’ — which seems to have been a considerable advance on his first conception, in June 1875, of a Napoleonic chronicle in ballad form — a sequence of such making a lyrical whole. Yet it does not appear to have been quite the same in detail as that of The Dynasts later on. He also made the following irrelative note of rather vague import:

‘Discover for how many years, and on how many occasions, the organism, Society, has been standing, lying, etc., in varied positions, as if it were a tree or a man hit by vicissitudes.

‘There would be found these periods:

1.Upright, normal or healthy periods.

2.Oblique or cramped periods.

3.Prostrate periods (intellect counterpoised by ignorance or narrowness, producing stagnation).

4.Drooping periods.

5.Inverted periods.’

George Eliot died during the winter in which he lay ill, and this set him thinking about Positivism, on which he remarks:

‘If Comte had introduced Christ among the worthies in his calendar it would have made Positivism tolerable to thousands who, from position, family connection, or early education, now decry what in their heart of hearts they hold to contain the germs of a true system. It would have enabled them to modulate gently into the new religion by deceiving themselves with the sophistry that they still continued one-quarter Christians, or one-eighth, or one-twentieth, as the case might be: This as a matter of policy, without which no religion succeeds in making way.’

Also on literary criticism:

‘Arnold is wrong about provincialism, if he means anything more aet 4o4,a difficult period,47

than a provincialism of style and manner in exposition. A certain provincialism of feeling is invaluable. It is of the essence of individuality, and is largely made up of that crude enthusiasm without which no great thoughts are thought, no great deeds done.’

Some days later he writes:

‘Romanticism will exist in human nature as long as human nature itself exists. The point is (in imaginative literature) to adopt that form of romanticism which is the mood of the age.’

Also on adversity — no doubt suggested by the distresses he was undergoing:

‘There is mercy in troubles coming in battalions — they neutralise each other. Tell a man in prosperity that he must suffer the amputation of a limb, and it is a horror to him; but tell him this the minute after he has been reduced to beggary and his only son has died: it hurts him but feebly.’

‘January 1881. My third month in bed. Driving snow: fine, and so fast that individual flakes cannot be seen.’ In sheltered places they occasionally stop, and balance themselves in the air like hawks. . . . It creeps into the house, the window-plants being covered as if out-of-doors. Our passage (downstairs) is sole-deep, Em says, and feet leave tracks on it.’

(Same month.) ‘ Style — Consider the Wordsworthian dictum (the more perfectly the natural object is reproduced, the more truly poetic the picture). This reproduction is achieved by seeing into the heart of a thing (as rain, wind, for instance), and is realism, in fact, though through being pursued by means of the imagination it is confounded with invention, which is pursued by the same means. It is, in short, reached by what M. Arnold calls “the imaginative reason “.’

‘January 30. Sunday. Dr. S. called as usual. I can by this time see all round his knowledge of my illness. He showed a lost manner on entering, as if among his many cases he had forgotten all about my case and me, which has to be revived in his mind by looking hard at me, when it all comes back.

‘He told us of having been called in to an accident which, do the best he possibly could, would only end in discredit to him. A lady had fallen down, and so badly broken her wrist that it must always be deformed even after the most careful treatment. But, seeing the result, she would give him a bad name for want of skill in setting it. These cases often occur in a surgeon’s practice, he says.’

‘January 31. Incidents of lying in bed for months. Skin gets fair: corns take their leave: feet and toes grow shapely as those of a Greek statue. Keys get rusty; watch dim, boots mildewed; hat and clothes old-fashioned; umbrella eaten out with rust; children seen through the window are grown taller.’

‘February 7. Carlyle died last Saturday. Both he and George Eliot have vanished into nescience while I have been lying here.’

‘February 17. Conservatism is not estimable in itself, nor is Change, or Radicalism. To conserve the existing good, to supplant the existing bad by good, is to act on a true political principle, w’\icb is neither Conservative nor Radical.’

‘February 21. A. G. called. Explained to Em about Aerostation, and how long her wings would have to be if she flew, — how light her weight, etc., and the process generally of turning her into a flying person.’

‘March 22. Maggie Macmillan called. Sat with Em in my room — had tea. She and Em worked, watching the sun set gorgeously. That I should also be able to see it Miss Macmillan conceived the kind idea of reflecting the sun into my face by a looking-glass.’ [The incident was made use of in Jude the Obscure as a plan adopted by Sue when the schoolmaster was ill.]

‘March 27. A Homeric Ballad, in which Napoleon is a sort of Achilles, to be written.’ [This entry, of a kind with earlier ones, is, however, superseded a few days later by the following:] ‘ Mode for a historical Drama. Action mostly automatic; reflex movement, etc. Not the result of what is called motive, though always ostensibly so, even to the actors’ own consciousness. Apply an enlargement of these theories to, say, “The Hundred Days”!’

This note is, apparently, Hardy’s first written idea of a philosophic scheme or framework as the larger feature of The Dynasts, enclosing the historic scenes.

On the 10th of April he went outside the door again for the first time since that October afternoon of the previous year when he returned from Cambridge, driving out with his wife and the doctor. On the 19th occurred the death of Disraeli, whom Hardy had met twice, and found unexpectedly urbane. On Sunday the ist of May he finished A Laodicean in pencil, and on the 3rd went with Mrs. Hardy by appointment to call on Sir Henry Thompson for a consultation.

‘May 9. After infinite trying to reconcile a scientific view of life with the emotional and spiritual, so that they may not be inter - destructive I come to the following:

‘General Principles. Law has produced in man a child who cannot but constantly reproach its parent for doing much and yet n0t all, and constantly say to such parent that it would have been better never to have begun doing than to have overdone so indeci - sively; that is, than to have created so far beyond all apparent first intention (on the emotional side), without mending matters by a second intent and execution, to eliminate the evils of the blunder of overdoing. The emotions have no place in a world of defect, and it is a cruel injustice that they should have developed in it.

‘If Law itself had consciousness, how the aspect of its creatures would terrify it, fill it with remorse!’

Though he had been out in vehicles it was not till a day early in May, more than six months after he had taken to his bed, that he went forth on foot alone; and it being a warm and sunny morning he walked on Wandsworth Common, where, as he used to tell, standing still he repeated out loud to himself:

See the wretch that long has tost On the thorny bed of pain, At length repair his vigour lost, And breathe and walk again:

The meanest flowret of the vale, The simplest note that swells the gale, The common sun, the air, the skies, To him are opening Paradise.

Immediately on Hardy’s recovery the question arose of whereabouts he and his wife should live. The three years’ lease of the house at Upper Tooting had run out on the preceding Lady Day, when Hardy was too ill to change, and he had been obliged to apply for a three months’ extension, which was granted. During the latter part of May they searched in Dorset, having concluded that it would be better to make London a place of sojourn for a few months only in each year, and establish their home in the country, both for reasons of health and for mental inspiration, Hardy finding, or thinking he found, that residence in or near a city tended to force mechanical and ordinary productions from his pen, concerning ordinary society-life and habits.

They found a little house called ‘Llanherne’ in the Avenue, Wimborne, that would at any rate suit them temporarily, and till they could discover a better, or perhaps build one. Hardy makes a note that on June 25 they slept at Llanherne for the first time, and saw the new comet from the conservatory. ‘Our garden’, he says a few days later, ‘ has all sorts of old-fashioned flowers, in full bloom: Canterbury Bells, blue and white, and Sweet Williams of every variety, strawberries and cherries that are ripe, currants and gooseberries that are almost ripe, peaches that are green, and apples that are decidedly immature.’

In July he jots down some notes on fiction, possibly for an article that was never written:

‘The real, if unavowed, purpose of fiction is to give pleasure by gratifying the love of the uncommon in human experience, mental or corporeal.

‘This is done all the more perfectly in proportion as the reader is illuded to believe the personages true and real like himself.

‘Solely to this latter end a work of fiction should be a precise transcript of ordinary life: but,

‘The uncommon would be absent and the interest lost. Hence,

‘The writer’s problem is, how to strike the balance between the uncommon and the ordinary so as on the one hand to give interest, on the other to give reality.

‘In working out this problem, human nature must never be made abnormal, which is introducing incredibility. The uncommonness must be in the events, not in the characters; and the writer’s art lies in shaping that uncommonness while disguising its unlikelihood, if it be unlikely.’

On August 23rd Hardy and his wife left Wimborne for Scotland. Arriving at Edinburgh on the 24th, they discovered to their dismay that Queen Victoria was to review the Volunteers in that city on the very next day, and that they could get no lodging anywhere. They took train to Roslin and put up at the Royal Hotel there. At sight of the crowds in the city Hardy had made the entry: ‘ There are, then, some Scotch people who stay at home ‘.

The next day or two, though wet, they spent in viewing Roslin Castle and Chapel, and Hawthornden, the old man who showed them the castle saying that he remembered Sir Walter Scott. Returning to Edinburgh, now calm and normal, they stayed there a few days, and at the beginning of September went on to Stirling, where they were laid up with colds. They started again for Callander and the Tros - sadhs, where Hardy made a sketch of Ben Venue, and followed the usual route across Loch Katrine, by coach to Inversnaid, down Loch Lomond, and so on to Glasgow. On their way back they visited Windermere and Chester, returning through London to Wimborne.

During some sunny days in September Hardy corrected A Laodicean for the issue in volumes, sitting under the vine on their stable-wall, ‘which for want of training hangs in long arms over my head nearly to the ground. The sun tries to shine through the great leaves, making a green light on the paper, the tendrils twisting in every direction, in gymnastic endeavours to find something to lay hold of.’

Though they had expected to feel lonely in Wimborne after London, they were visited by many casual friends, were called in to Shakespeare readings, then much in vogue, and had a genial neighbour in the county-court judge, Tindal-Atkinson, one of the last of the Serjeants-at Law, who took care they should not mope if dinners and his and his daughter’s music could prevent it. They kept in touch with London, however, and were there in the following December, where they met various friends, and Hardy did some business in arranging for the publication in the Atlantic Monthly of a novel that he was about to begin writing, called off-hand by the title of Two on a Tower, a title he afterwards disliked, though it was much imitated. An amusing experience of formality occurred to him in connection with this novel. It was necessary that he should examine an observatory, the story moving in an astronomical medium, and he applied to the Astronomer Royal for permission to see Greenwich. He was requested to state before it could be granted if his application was made for astronomical and scientific reasons or not. He therefore drew up a scientific letter, the gist of which was that he wished to ascertain if it would be possible for him to adapt an old tower, built in a plantation in the West of England for other objects, to the requirements of a telescopic study of the stars by a young man very ardent in that pursuit (this being the imagined situation in the proposed novel). An order to view Greenwich Observatory was promptly sent.

The year was wound up by Hardy and his wife at a ball at Lady Wimborne’s, Canford Manor, where he met Sir Henry Layard. Lord Wimborne in a conversation about the house complained that it was rendered damp by the miller below penning the water for grinding, and, on Hardy’s suggesting the removal of the mill, his host amused him by saying that was out of the question, because the miller paid him £50 a year in rent. However that might have been, Hardy felt glad the old mill was to remain, having as great a repugnance to pulling down a mill where (to use his own words) they ground food for the body, as to pulling down a church where they ground food for the soul.

Thus ended 1881 — with a much brighter atmosphere for the author and his wife than the opening had shown.



1882-1883: Aet. 41-43

‘January 26. Coleridge says, aim at illusion in audience or readers — i.e., the mental state when dreaming, intermediate between complete delusion (which the French mistakenly aim at) and a clear perception of falsity.’

‘February 4 and 11. Shakespeare readings at ‘s, “The Tempest” being the play chosen. The host was omnivorous of parts — absorbing other people’s besides his own, and was greedily vexed when I read a line of his part by mistake. When I praise his reading he tells me meditatively, “Oh, yes; I’ve given it a deal of study — thrown myself into the life of the character, you know; thought of what my supposed parents were, and my early life “. The firelight shone out as the day diminished, the young girl N.P. crouching on a footstool, the wealthy Mrs. B. impassive and grand in her unintelli - gence, like a Carthaginian statue. . . . The General reads with gingerly caution, telling me privately that he blurted out one of Shakespeare’s improprieties last time before he was aware, and is in fear and trembling lest he may do it again.’

In this month’s entries occurs another note which appears to be related to the philosophic scheme afterwards adopted as a framework for The Dynasts:

‘February 16. Write a history of human automatism, or impulsion — viz., an account of human action in spite of human knowledge, showing how very far conduct lags behind the knowledge that should really guide it.’

A dramatization of Far from the Madding Crowd, prepared by Mr. J. Comyns Carr some months earlier, was produced during March at the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, Liverpool, and Hardy and his wife took the trouble to make a trip to Liverpool to be present. The. play, with Miss Marion Terry as the heroine, was not sufficiently near the novel to be to Hardy’s liking, but it was well received, and was staged in London at the Globe Theatre in April, where it ran for many nights, but brought Hardy no profit, nor the adapter, as he was informed. During his stay in London he attended, on April 26, the funeral of Darwin in Westminster Abbey. As a young man he had been among the earliest acclaimers of The Origin of Species.

‘May 13 - The slow meditative lives of people who live in habitual solitude. . • • Solitude renders every trivial act of a solitary full of interest, as showing thoughts that cannot be expressed for want of an interlocutor.’

‘June 3. . . . As, in looking at a carpet, by following one colour a certain pattern is suggested, by following another colour, another; so in life the seer should watch that pattern among general things which his idiosyncrasy moves him to observe, and describe that alone. This is, quite accurately, a going to Nature; yet the result is no mere photograph, but purely the product of the writer’s own mind.’

‘June 18. M. F., son of Parson F., was well known by sight to my mother in her childhood. He had taken his degree and had been ordained. But he drank. He worked with the labourers and “ yarn - barton-wenches” (as they were called in the village) in the yarn - barton. After a rollick as they worked he would suddenly stop, down his implement, and mounting a log or trestle, preach an excellent sermon to them; then go on cursing and swearing as before. He wore faded black clothes, and had an allowance of some small sum from his family, to which he liked to add a little by manual labour. He was a tall, upright, dignified man. She did not know what became of him.’

‘August. — An ample theme: the intense interests, passions, and strategy that throb through the commonest lives.

‘This month blackbirds and thrushes creep about under fruit - bushes and in other shady places in gardens rather like four-legged animals than birds. ... I notice that a blackbird has eaten nearly a whole pear lying in the garden-path in the course of the day.’

‘September 9. Dr. and Mrs. Brine . . . came to tea. Brine says that Jack White’s gibbet (near Wincanton) was standing as late as 1835 — i.e. the oak-post with the iron arm sticking out, and a portion of the cage in which the body had formerly hung. It would have been standing now if some young men had not burnt it down by piling faggots round it one fifth of November.’

Later in the month he went with Mrs. Hardy on a small circular tour in the adjoining counties — taking in Salisbury, Axminster, Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Bridport, Dorchester, and back to Wimborne.

From Axminster to Lyme the journey on the coach was spoilt f0 them by the condition of one of the horses.

‘The off-horse was weak and worn. “O yes, tender on his vore veet”, said the driver with nonchalance. The coach itself weighed a ton. The horse swayed, leant against the pole, then outwards His head hung like his tail. The straps and brass rings of the harness seemed barbarously harsh on his shrinking skin. E., with her admirable courage, would have interfered, at the cost of walking the rest of the distance: then we felt helpless against the anger of the other passengers who wanted to get on.’ They were, in fact, on the tableland half-way between the two towns. But they complained when they alighted — with what effect Hardy could not remember.

At Lyme they ‘met a cheerful man who had turned his trousers hind part before, because the knees had worn through’.

On The Cobb they encountered an old man who had undergone an operation for cataract:

‘It was like a red-hot needle in yer eye whilst he was doing it. But he wasn’t long about it. Oh no. If he had been long I couldn’t ha’ beared it. He wasn’t a minute more than three-quarters of an hour at the outside. When he had done one eye, ‘a said, “Now my man, you must make shift with that one, and be thankful you bain’t left wi’ nam.” So he didn’t do the other. And I’m glad ‘a didn’t. I’ve saved half-crowns and half-crowns out of number in only wanting one glass to my spectacles. T’other eye would never have paid the expenses of keeping en going.’

From Charmouth they came to Bridport on the box of a coach better horsed, and driven by a merry coachmen, ‘who wore a lavish quantity of wool in his ears, and in smiling checked his smile in the centre of his mouth by closing his lips, letting it continue at the corners’. (A sketch of the coachman’s mouth in the act of smiling was attached to illustrate this.)

Before returning to Wimborne Hardy called on the poet Barnes at Came Rectory. Mr. Barnes told him of an old woman who had asked him to explain a picture she possessed. He told her it was the family of Darius at the feet of Alexander. She shook her head, and said: ‘But that’s not in the Bible’, looking up and down his clerical attire as if she thought him a wicked old man who disgraced his cloth by speaking of profane history.

This autumn Two on a Tower, which was ending its career in the Atlantic Monthly, came out in three volumes, and at the beginning of October its author and his wife started for Cherbourg via Wey-

mouth, and onward to Paris, where they took a little appartement of jviro bedrooms and a sitting room, near the left bank of the Seine. pjgre they stayed for some weeks, away from English and American tourists, roving about the city and to Versailles, studying the pictures at the Louvre and the Luxembourg, practising housekeeping in the Parisian bourgeois manner, buying their own groceries and vegetables, dining at restaurants, and catching bad colds owing to the uncertain weather. He seems to have done little in the French capital besides these things, making only one memorandum beyond personal trifles, expenses, and a few picture notes:

‘Since I discovered, several years ago, that I was living in a world where nothing bears out in practice what it promises incipiently, I have troubled myself very little about theories. . . . Where development according to perfect reason is limited to the narrow region of pure mathematics, I am content with tentativeness from day to day.’

At the end of the autumn Mrs. Hardy received news at Wimborne of the death of her brother-in-law, the Rev. C. Holder, at St. Juliot Rectory, Cornwall, of which he had long been the incumbent; and they realised that the scene of the fairest romance of their lives, in the picturesque land of Lyonnesse, would have no more kinship with them. By this loss Hardy was reminded of the genial and genuine humour of his clerical relative and friend despite his fragility and ill-health; of his qualities; among them, of a mysterious power he had (as it seemed to his brother-in-law) of counting his congregation to a man before he had got half a dozen lines down the page in ‘Dearly beloved brethren’; and of his many strange and amusing stories of his experiences, such as that of the sick man to whose bedside he was called to read a chapter in the Bible, and who said when it was ended that it did him almost as much good as a glass of gin-and-water: or of the astonishing entry in the marriage register of Holder’s parish before he was rector, by which the bridegroom and bridesmaid had made themselves husband and wife, and the bride and best man the witnesses. Hardy himself had seen the entry.

Of another cast was the following. Holder as a young man was a curate in Bristol during the terrible cholera visitation. He related that one day at a friend’s house he met a charming young widow, who invited him to call on her. With pleasant anticipations he went at tea-time a day or two later, and duly inquired if she was at home. The servant said with a strange face: ‘ Why, Sir, you buried her this morning!’ He found that amongst the many funerals of cholera victims he had conducted that day, as on every day, hers had been one.

At another of these funerals the clerk or sexton rushed to hii* 1 immediately before the procession arrived to ask him to come and 1 look at the just opened grave, which was of brick, with room for t\v0 or more, the first place being occupied by the coffin of the deceased person’s husband, who had died three weeks before. The coffin was overturned into the space beside it. Holder hastily told the sexton ‘ to turn it back into its place, and say nothing, to avoid distressing; the relatives by the obvious inference.

He also remembered a singular alarm to which he had once been subjected. He was roused one night by a voice calling from below ‘Holder, Holder! Can you help me?’ It was the voice of a neighbouring incumbent named Woodman, and wondering what terrible thing had happened he rushed downstairs as soon as he could, seizing a heavy stick on the way. He found his neighbour in great agitation, who explained that the news had come late the previous evening that a certain noble lord the patron, who was a great critic of sermons, had arrived in the parish, and was going to attend next morning’s service. ‘Have you a sermon that will do? I have nothing — nothing!’ The conjuncture had so preyed upon his friend’s nerves during the night that he had not been able to resist getting up and coming. Holder found something he thought might suit the noble critic, and Woodman departed with it under his arm, much relieved.

Some of Holder’s stories to him were, as Hardy guessed, rather well-found than well-founded, but they were always told with much solemnity. Yet he would sometimes recount one ‘ the truth of which he could not quite guarantee’. It was what had been related to him by some of his aged parishioners concerning an incumbent of that or an adjacent living many years before. This worthy ecclesiastic was a bachelor addicted to drinking habits, and one night when riding up Boscastle Hill fell off his horse. He lay a few minutes in the road, when he said ‘Help me up, Jolly!’ and a local man who was returning home behind him saw a dark figure with a cloven foot emerge from the fence, and toss him upon his horse in a jiffy. The end of him was that on one night of terrific lightning and thunder he was missed, and was found to have entirely disappeared.

Holder had kept up a friendly acquaintance with Hawker of Morwenstow, who predeceased him by seven years, though the broad and tolerant views of the rector of St. Juliot did not quite chime in with the poet-vicar’s precisianism; and the twenty miles of wild Cornish coast that separated their livings was a heavy bit of road for the rector’s stout cob to traverse both ways in a day. Hardy re - retted the loss of his relative, and was reminded sadly of the pleasure used to find in reading the lessons in the ancient church when his brother-in-law was not in vigour. The poem ‘Quid hie agis?’ in Moments of Vision is in part apparently a reminiscence of these readings.

In December Hardy was told a story by a Mrs. Cross, a very old country-woman he met, of a girl she had known who had been betrayed and deserted by a lover. She kept her child by her own exertions, and lived bravely and throve. After a time the man returned poorer than she, and wanted to marry her; but she refused. He ultimately went into the Union workhouse. The young woman’s conduct in not caring to be ‘made respectable’ won the novelist - poet’s admiration, and he wished to know her name; but the old narrator said, ‘Oh, never mind their names! they be dead and rotted by now’.

The eminently modern idea embodied in this example — of a woman’s not becoming necessarily the chattel and slave of her seducer — impressed Hardy as being one of the first glimmers of woman’s enfranchisement; and he made use of it in succeeding years in more than one case in his fiction and verse.

In the same month the Hardys attended Ambulance-Society lectures — First-Aid teaching being in fashion just then. He makes a note concerning a particular lecture:

‘A skeleton — the one used in these lectures — is hung up inside the window. We face it as we sit. Outside the band is playing, and the children are dancing. I can see their little figures through the window past the skeleton dangling in front.’ Another note — this on the wintry weather: ‘Heard of an open cart being driven through the freezing rain. The people in it became literally packed in ice; the men’s beards and hair were hung with icicles. Getting one of the men into the house was like bringing in a chandelier of lustres.’

In the same month he replied as follows to a question asked him by letter:

‘To A. A. Reade, Esq. ‘Dear Sir,

‘I can say that I have never found alcohol helpful to literary production in any degree. My experience goes to prove that the effect of wine, taken as a preliminary to imaginative work, as it is called,

is to blind the writer to the quality of what he produces rather than to raise its quality.

‘When walking much out of doors, and particularly when on Continental rambles, I occasionally drink a glass or two of claret or mild ale. The German beers seem really beneficial at these times of exertion which (as wine seems otherwise) may be owing to some alimentary qualities they possess apart from their stimulating property. With these rare exceptions I have taken no alcoholic liquor for the last two years.

‘Yours truly,

‘T. Hardy.’

‘February 25, 1883. Sent a short hastily written novel to the Graphic for Summer Number.’ [It was The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid.]

‘February 28. Walked with Walter Fletcher (County Surveyor) to Corfe Mullen. He says that the scene of the auction of turnpike tolls used to be curious. It was held at an inn, and at one end of the room would be the auctioneer and trustees, at the other a crowd of strange beings, looking as not worth sixpence among them. Yet the biddings for the Poole Trust would sometimes reach £1400. Sometimes the bidders would say, “Beg yer pardon, gentlemen, but will you wait to let us step outside a minute or two? “ Perhaps the trustees would say they could not. The men would say, “then we’ll step out without your letting us”. On their return only one or two would bid, and the peremptory trustees be nettled.

‘Passed a lonely old house formerly an inn. The road-contractor now living there showed us into the stable, and drew our attention to the furthest stall. When the place was an inn, he said, it was the haunt of smugglers, and in a quarrel there one night a man was killed in that stall. If an old horse is put there on certain nights, at about two in the morning (when the smuggler died) the horse cries like a child, and on entering you find him in a lather of sweat.

‘The huge chestnut tree which stood in front of this melancholy house is dead, but the trunk is left standing. In it are still the hooks to which horses were fastened by the reins while their owners were inside.’

‘March 13. M. writes to me that when a farmer at Puddlehinton who did not want rain found that a neighbouring farmer had sent to the parson to pray for it, and it had come, he went and abused the other farmer, and told him ‘twas a very dirty trick of his to catch God A’mighty unawares, and he ought to be ashamed of it.

‘Our servant Ann brings us a report, which has been verified, that the carpenter who made a coffin for Mr. W. who died the other day, made it too short. A bystander said satirically,” Anybody would think vou’d made it for yourself, John!” (the carpenter was a short man). The maker said, “Ah — they would!” and fell dead instantly.’

In reply to a letter from Miss Mary Christie:

‘Wimborne, April 11, 1883.

‘Dear Madam,

‘I have read with great interest the account of your scheme for encouraging a feeling for art in National schools, and if my name be of any service in support of the general proposition, I willingly consent to your using it. As to the details of such a scheme, my views differ somewhat from your own. For instance, I think for children between 9 and 12 or 13 — the great mass of those in elementary schools — fairly good engravings, such as those in the Graphic, Illustrated News, etc., (not the coloured pictures) to be as conducive to the end desired as more finished pictures and photographs. A child’s imagination is so powerful that it only requires the idea to set it to work: and hence a dozen suggestions of scenes and persons by as many prints would seem to me to be of more value to him or her than the perfect representation of one, — while the latter would cost as much as the former. This, however, is altogether a secondary point, and I daresay that if we were to talk over the subject we should soon be quite at one about it. . . .’

Hardy and his wife were in London off and on during May and June, seeing pictures, plays, and friends. At a lunch at Lord Houghton’s, who with his sister Lady Galway had taken a small house off Park Lane for this season, Hardy met Robert Browning again, Rhoda Broughton for the first time, and several others, including Mrs.

from America, ‘a large-eyed lady-owner of ten serial publications, which, she told me, she called her ten children. Also Lady C. who talked to me about Rabelais — without knowledge obviously — having heard that I belonged to the Rabelais Club. She said she meant to read him through. She had read one chapter, but couldn’t get on with the old French, so was looking for a literal translation. Heaven bless her reading!

‘Houghton, seeing Browning about to introduce me to Rhoda Broughton, hastened forward before Browning, and emphatically introduced us with the manner of a man who means to see things properly done in his own house; then walked round, pleased with himself as the company dropped in; like one who, having set a machinery in motion, has now only to wait and observe how it goes.’

‘June 24. Sunday. Went in the afternoon to see Mrs. Procter at Albert Hall Mansions. Found Browning present. He told me that Mrs. , whom he and I had met at Lord Houghton’s, had made £200,000 by publishing pirated works of authors who had made comparatively nothing. Presently Mrs. Sutherland Orr and Mrs. Frank Hill (Daily News) came in. Also two Jewesses — the Misses Lazarus — from America. Browning tried the elder with Hebrew, and she appeared to understand so well that he said he perceived she knew the tongue better than he. When these had gone George Smith [the publisher] called. He and Mrs. Procter declared that there was something tender between Mrs. Orr and Browning. “Why don’t they settle it!” said Mrs. P.

‘In the evening went to the Irving dinner. Sir Frederick Pollock, who took the chair, and made a speech, said that the departure of Irving for America would be a loss that would eclipse the gaiety of nations (!) Irving in his reply said that in the twenty-seven years he had been on the stage he had enacted 650 different characters.’

‘June 25. Dined at the Savile with Gosse. Met W. D. Howells of New York there. He told me a story of Emerson’s loss of memory. At the funeral of Longfellow he had to make a speech. “ The brightness and beauty of soul”, he began, “of him we have lost, has been acknowledged wherever the English language is spoken. I’ve known him these forty years; and no American, whatever may be his opinions, will deny that in — in — in — I can’t remember the gentleman’s name — beat the heart of a true poet.”

‘Howells said that Mark Twain usually makes a good speech. But once he heard him fail. In his speech he was telling a story of an occasion when he was in some western city, and found that some impostors personating Longfellow, Emerson, and others had been there. Mark began to describe these impostors, and while doing it found that Longfellow, Emerson, etc., were present, listening, and, from a titter or two, found also that his satirical description of the impostors was becoming regarded as an oblique satirical description of the originals. He was overspread by a sudden cold chill, and struggled to a lame ending. He was so convinced that he had given offence that he wrote to Emerson and Longfellow, apologizing. Emerson could not understand the letter, his memory of the incident having failed him, and wrote to Mark asking what it meant. Then Mark had to tell him what he wished he had never uttered; and altogether the fiasco was complete.’



1883-1885: Aet. 43-45

In this month of June the Hardys removed from Wimborne to Dorchester, which town and its neighbourhood, though they did not foresee it, was to be their country-quarters for the remainder of their lives. But several months of each spring and summer were to be spent in London during the ensuing twenty years, and occasionally spells abroad. This removal to the county town, and later to a spot a little outside it, was a step they often regretted having taken; but the bracing air brought them health and renewed vigour, and in the long run it proved not ill-advised.

‘July 19. In future I am not going to praise things because the accumulated remarks of ages say they are great and good, if those accumulated remarks are not based on observation. And I am not going to condemn things because a pile of accepted views raked together from tradition, and acquired by instillation, say antecedently that they are bad.’

‘July 22. To Winterborne-Came Church with Gosse, to hear and see the poet Barnes. Stayed for sermon. Barnes, knowing we should be on the watch for a prepared sermon, addressed it entirely to his own flock, almost pointedly excluding us. Afterwards walked to the rectory and looked at his pictures.

‘Poetry versus reason: e.g., A band plays “ God save the Queen”, and being musical the uncompromising Republican joins in the harmony: a hymn rolls from a church-window, and the uncompromising No-God-ist or Unconscious God-ist takes up the refrain.’

Mr. T. W. H. Tolbort, a friend of Hardy’s from youth, and a pupil of Barnes’s, who years earlier had come out at the top in the Indian Civil Service examination, died at the beginning of the next month, after a bright and promising career in India, and Hardy wrote an obituary notice of him in the Dorset Chronicle. The only note Hardy makes on him in addition to the printed account is as follows:

‘August 13. Tolbort lived and studied as if everything in the world were so very much worth while. But what a bright mind has gone out at one-and-forty!’

He writes elsewhere of an anecdote told him by Barnes touching his tuition of Tolbort. Barnes had relinquished his school and retired to the country rectory in which he ended his days, when Tolbort’s name, and Barnes’s as his schoolmaster, appeared in The Times at the head of the Indian examination list, a wide proportion of marks separating it from the name following. It was in the early days when these lists excited great interest. In a few mornings Barnes was deluged with letters from all parts of the country requesting him at almost any price to take innumerable sons, and produce upon them the same successful effect. ‘I told them that it took two to do it’, he would say, adding sadly that a popularity which would have been invaluable during the hard-working years of his life came at almost the first moment when it was no longer of use to him.

In this month of August he made a memorandum on another matter:

‘Write a list of things which everybody thinks and nobody says; and a list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks.’

At this time too Hardy encountered an old man named P,

whose father, or grandfather, had been one of the keepers of the Rainbarrows’ Beacon, 1800-1815, as described in The Dynasts, the remains of whose hut are still to be seen on the spot. It may be interesting to mention that the daughter of a travelling waxwork proprietor had some years before, when exhibiting at Puddletown,

entirely lost her heart to P’s brother, a handsome young labourer of the village, and he had married her. As her father grew old and infirm the son-in-law and his wife succeeded to the showman’s business and carried it on successfully. They were a worthy and happy couple,

and whenever in their rounds they came to P’s native village the husband’s old acquaintance were admitted gratis to the exhibition, which was of a highly moral and religious cast, including Solomon’s Judgment, and Daniel in the Den of Lions, where the lions moved their heads, tails, eyes, and paws terrifically, while Daniel lifted his hands in prayer. Heads of murderers were ranged on the other side, as a wholesome lesson to evildoers. Hardy duly attended the show because the man’s forefather had kept Rainbarrows’ Beacon (described in The Dynasts’); and the last he saw of old Pwas in the private tent attached to the exhibition, where he was sitting as a glorified figure drinking gin-and-water with his relatives.

Not having been able when he came to Dorchester to find a house to suit him, Hardy had obtained a plot of land of the Duchy of Cornwall in Fordington Field, about a mile into the country, on which to build one; and at the beginning of October marked out as a preliminary the spot where the well was to be sunk. The only drawback to the site seemed to him to be its newness. But before the well - diggers had got deeper than three feet they came upon Romano - British urns and skeletons. Hardy and his wife found the spot was steeped in antiquity, and thought the omens gloomy; but they did not prove so, the extreme age of the relics dissipating any sense of gruesomeness. More of the sort were found in digging the house - foundations, and Hardy wrote an account of the remains, which he read at the Dorchester Meeting of the Dorset Field Club, 1884. It was printed in the ‘Proceedings’ of the Club in 1890.

‘November 3. The Athenceum says: “The glass-stainer maintains his existence at the sacrifice of everything the painter holds dear. In place of the freedom and sweet abandonment which is nature’s own charm and which the painter can achieve, the glass-stainer gives us splendour as luminous as that of the rainbow ... in patches, and stripes, and bars.” The above canons are interesting in their conveyance of a half truth. All art is only approximative — not exact, as the reviewer thinks; and hence the methods of all art differ from that of the glass-stainer but in degree.’

‘November 17. Poem. We [human beings] have reached a degree of intelligence which Nature never contemplated when framing her laws, and for which she consequently has provided no adequate satisfactions.’ [This, which he had adumbrated before, was clearly the germ of the poem entitled ‘The Mother Mourns’ and others.]

‘December 23. There is what we used to call “The Birds’ Bedroom” in the plantation at Bockhampton. Some large hollies grow among leafless ash, oak, birch, etc. At this time of year the birds select the hollies for roosting in, and at dusk noises not unlike the creaking of withy-chairs arise, with a busy rustling as of people going to bed in a lodging-house; accompanied by sundry shakings, adjustings, and pattings, as if they were making their beds vigorously before turning in.

‘Death of old Billy C at a great age. He used to talk enthusiastically of Lady Susan O’Brien [the daughter of Lord Ilchester, who excited London by eloping with O’Brien the actor, as so inimitably described in Walpole’s Letters, and who afterwards settled in the Hardys’ parish as before mentioned]. — “She kept a splendid house — - a cellarful of home-brewed strong beer that would a’most knock you down; everybody drank as much as he liked. The head - gardener [whom Billy as a youth assisted] was drunk every morning before breakfast. There are no such houses now! On wet days we used to make a point of working opposite the drawing-room window, that she might pity us. She would send out and tell us to go indoors, and not expose ourselves to the weather so reckless.”‘ [A kind - hearted woman, Lady Susan.]’V

On the eve of the New Year 1884 Hardy planted some trees on his new property at Max Gate, Dorchester, and passed part of the January following in London, where he saw Henry James, Gosse, and Thornycroft, and talked to Alma-Tadema about the Anglo - Roman remains he was finding on the site of his proposed house, over which discovery Tadema was much excited, as he was painting, or about to paint, a picture expressing the art of that date.

‘February. “Ye shall weep and mourn, and the world shall rejoice.” Such shows the natural limitation of the Christian view when the Christians were a small and despised community. The widened view of nowadays perceives that the world weeps and mourns all round. — Nevertheless, if “the world” denotes the brutal and thoughtless merely, the text is eternally true.’

‘James S — — [the quaint old man already mentioned, who worked forty years for Hardy’s father, and had been a smuggler], once heard a hurdlemaker bet at the “Black Dog”, Broadmayne, that he would make a hurdle sooner than the other man (not a hurdler) could pull one to pieces. They put it to the test, and the hurdlemaker won the stakes.

‘When trees and underwood are cut down, and the ground bared, three crops of flowers follow. First a sheet of yellow; they are primroses. Then a sheet of blue; they are wild hyacinths, or as we call them, graegles. Then a sheet of red; they are ragged robins, or as they are called here, robin-hoods. What have these plants been doing through the scores of years before the trees were felled, and how did they come there?’

‘March. Write a novel entitled Time against Two, in which the antagonism of the parents of a Romeo and Juliet does succeed in separating the couple and stamping out their love, — alas, a more probable development than the other!’ [The idea is briefly used in The Well-Beloved.]

March or April. ‘Every error under the sun seems to arise from thinking that you are right yourself because you are yourself, and other people wrong because they are not you.

‘It is now spring; when, according to the poets, birds pipe, and (the householder adds) day-labourers get independent after their preternatural civility through the frost and snow.’

‘April 26. Curious scene. A fine poem in it:

‘Four girls — itinerant musicians — sisters, have been playing opposite Parmiter’s in the High Street. The eldest had a fixed, old, hard face, and wore white roses in her hat. Her eyes remained on one close object, such as the buttons of her sister’s dress; she played the violin. The next sister, with red roses in her hat, had rather bold dark eyes, and a coquettish smirk. She too played a violin. The next, with her hair in ringlets, beat the tambourine. The youngest, a mere child, dinged the triangle. She wore a bead necklace. All wore large brass earrings like Jews’-harps, which dangled to the time of the jig.

‘I saw them again in the evening, the silvery gleams from Saunders’s [silver-smith’s] shop shining out upon them. They were now sublimed to a wondrous charm. The hard face of the eldest was flooded with soft solicitous thought; the coquettish one was no longer bold but archly tender; her dirty white roses were pure as snow; her sister’s red ones a fine crimson: the brass earrings were golden; the iron triangle silver; the tambourine Miriam’s own; the third child’s face that of an angel; the fourth that of a cherub. The pretty one smiled on the second, and began tq play ‘In the gloaming’, the little voices singing it. Now they were what Nature made them, before the smear of “civilization” had sullied their existences.’ [An impression of a somewhat similar scene is given in the poem entitled ‘Music in a Snowy Street’.]

‘Rural low life may reveal coarseness of considerable leaven; but that libidinousness which makes the scum of cities so noxious is not usually there.’

‘June 2. At Bockhampton. My birthday — 44. Alone in the plantation, at 9 o’clock. A weird hour: strange faces and figures formed by dying lights. Holm leaves shine like human eyes, and the sky glimpses between the trunks are like white phantoms and cloven tongues. It is so silent and still that a footstep on the dead leaves could be heard a quarter of a mile off. Squirrels run up the trunks in fear, stamping and crying “chut-chut-chut!”‘ [There is not a single squirrel in that plantation now.]

The following letter was written to Hardy on his birthday:

‘Burford Bridge, ‘Box Hill, ‘ June 2, 1884.

‘What a good day this was for Anne Benson Procter, when Thomas Hardy was born! She little knew what stores of delightful reading she would owe to the Baby of 1840.

‘If she could write an Ode — or, even worse, a Sonnet!

‘He has something to be thankful for. He must haveKread the verses — and he is so good and kind that he would have praised them.

‘We go home on Wednesday next, having been here for ten days — sitting by the fire, for the summer comes slowly up this way.

‘Your old admirer,

‘Anne B. Procter.’

‘June 3. The leaves are approaching their finished summer shape, the evergreens wear new pale suits over the old deep attire. I watered the thirsty earth at Max Gate, which drank in the liquid with a swallowing noise. In the evening I entered Tayleure’s Circus in Fordington Field for a short time during the performance. There is a dim haze in the tent, and the green grass in the middle, within the circular horse-track, looks amazingly fresh in the artificial light. The damp orbits of the spectators’ eyes gleam in its rays. The clowns, when “off”, lounge and smoke cigarettes, and chat with serious cynicism, and as if the necessity of their occupation to society at large were not to be questioned, their true domestic expression being visible under the official expression given by the paint. This sub-expression is one of good-humoured pain.’

Hardy seems to have had something of a craze for circuses in these years, and went to all that came to Dorchester. In one performance the equestrienne who leapt through hoops on her circuit missed her footing and fell with a thud on the turf. He followed her into the dressing-tent, and became deeply interested in her recovery. The incident seems to have some bearing on the verses of many years after entitled ‘Circus-Rider to Ringmaster’.

They were in London part of June and July, and among other places went to an evening party at Alma-Tadema’s, meeting an artistic crowd which included Burne-Jones; and to another at Mrs.

Murray Smith’s with Mrs. Procter, where they met again Matthew Arnold, whom Hardy liked better now than he did at their first meeting; also Du Maurier; also Henry James ‘with his nebulous gaze’. Mrs. Procter, though so old, ‘swam about through the crowd like a swan’.

Of Madame Judic’s acting in Niniche, Hardy says, ‘This woman has genius. The picture of the pair of them — Judic and Lassouche — putting their faces side by side and bumping each other in making love, was the most comic phase of real art I ever saw. . . . And yet the world callsa great actress.’

‘July 14. Assizes. Dorchester — The Lord Chief Justice, eminent counsel, etc., reveal more of their weaknesses and vanities here in the country than in London. Their foibles expand, being off their guard. A shabby lad on trial for setting fire to a common, holds an amusingly familiar conversation with the C. J. (Coleridge) when asked if he has anything to say. Witnesses always begin their evidence in sentences containing ornamental words, evidently prepared beforehand, but when they get into the thick of it this breaks down to struggling grammar and lamentably jumbled narrative.’

‘August 14. Strolling players at Dorchester in the market-field. Went to Othello. A vermilion sunset fell on the west end of the booth, where, while the audience assembled, Cassio, in supposed Venetian costume, was lounging and smoking in the red light at the bottom of the van-steps behind the theatre: Othello also lounging in the same sunlight on the grass by the stage door, and touching up the black of his face.

‘The play begins as the dusk comes on, the theatre-lights within throwing the spectators’ and the actors’ profiles on the canvas, so that they are visible outside, and the immortal words spread through it into the silence around, and to the trees, and stars.

‘I enter. A woman plays Montano, and her fencing with Cassio leaves much to the imagination. Desdemona’s face still retains its anxiety about the supper that she had been cooking a few minutes earlier in the stove without.

‘Othello is played by the proprietor, and his speeches can be heard as far as to the town-pump. Emilia wears the earrings I saw her wearing when buying the family vegetables this morning. The tragedy goes on successfully, till the audience laughs at the beginning of the murder scene. Othello stops, and turning, says sternly to them after an awful pause: “Is this the Nineteenth Century?” The conscience-stricken audience feel the justice of the reproof, and preserve an abashed silence as he resumes. When he comes to the pillow-scene they applaud with tragic vehemence, to show that their hearts are in the right place after all.’

August 16. Hardy took a trip to the Channel Islands from Wey. mouth with his brother. They went to Guernsey, Jersey, and Sark and at one of the hotels found that every man there except themselves was a commercial traveller. As they seemed so lonely they were allowed to dine with these gentlemen, and became very friendly with them. Manners at the dinner-table were highly ceremonious: ‘ Can I send you a cut of this boiled mutton, Mr. PresidentV ‘ No, thank you, Mr. Vice. May I help you to beef?’ At the end of dinner: ‘ Gentlemen, you can leave the table.’ Chorus of diners: ‘ Thank you, Mr. President.’

Conversation turned on a certain town in England, and it was defined as being a ‘warm place’. Hardy, who had lived there, was puzzled, and said he had not noticed that it was particularly warm. The speaker scarcely condescended to reply that he did not understand the meaning they attached to the word.

Off and on he was now writing The Mayor of Casterbridge; but before leaving London he agreed with the Macmillans to take in hand later a story of twelve numbers for their magazine, no time being fixed. It came out two years later under the title of The Woodlanders.

‘October 20. Query: Is not the present quasi-scientific system of writing history mere charlatanism? Events and tendencies are traced as if they were rivers of voluntary activity, and courses reasoned out from the circumstances in which natures, religions, or what-not, have found themselves. But are they not in the main the outcome of passivity — acted upon by unconscious propensity?’

‘November 16. My sister Mary says that women of the past generation have faces now out of fashion. Face-expressions have their fashions like clothes.’

During the general election about this time Mr. John Morley wrote to Hardy from Newcastle:

‘Your letter recalls literature, art, and sober reason — visitants as welcome as they are rare in the heats of electioneering.’ And a few days later he heard from Professor Beesly, who had been beaten at the Westminster poll: ‘I suppose there is not a more hopeless seat in England. We might have made head against its Toryism alone, or the clergy, or the Baroness’s legitimate influence from her almsgiving of old date there (it being her special preserve), or the special tap of philanthropy turned on for the Occasion. But all united were much too strong for us. ... I return to my work in much contentment.

Leslie Stephen (like Hardy himself, quite outside politics) wrote the same week: ‘I am glad to have got that book off my hands, though any vacuum in my occupations is very soon filled up (not that my nature abhors it!) and though in many ways I am very ill - satisfied with the result. However I meant well, and I can now begin to forget it.’

‘December 4. A gusty wind makes the raindrops hit the windows in stars, and the sunshine flaps open and shut like a fan, flinging into the room a tin-coloured light. . . .

‘Conjuror Mynterne [of whom mention has already been made],

when consulted by Patt P(a strapping handsome woman), told her that her husband would die on a certain day, and showed her the funeral in a glass of water. She said she could see the bearers moving along. She made her mourning. She used to impress all this on her inoffensive husband, and assure him that he would go to hell if he made the conjuror a liar. He didn’t, but died on the day foretold. Oddly enough she never married again.’

‘December 31. To St. Peter’s belfry to the New-Year’s-Eve ringing. The night-wind whiffed in through the louvres as the men prepared the mufflers with tar-twine and pieces of horse-cloth. Climbed over the bells to fix the mufflers. I climbed with them and looked into the tenor bell: it is worn into a bright pit where the clapper has struck it so many years, and the clapper is battered with its many blows.

‘The ringers now put their coats and waistcoats and hats upon the chimes and clock and stand to. Old John is fragile, as if the bell would pull him up rather than he pull the rope down, his neck being withered and white as his white neckcloth. But his manner is severe as he says “Tenor out?” One of the two tenor men gently eases the bell forward — - that fine old E flat [?] (probably D in modem sharpened pitch), my father’s admiration, unsurpassed in metal all the world over — and answers, “Tenor’s out”. Then old John tells them to “Go!” and they start. Through long practice he rings with the least possible movement of his body, though the youngest ringers — strong, dark-haired men with ruddy faces — soon perspire with their exertions. The red, green, and white sallies bolt up through the holes like rats between the huge beams overhead.

‘The grey stones of the fifteenth-century masonry have many of their joints mortarless, and are carved with many initials and dates.

On the sill of one louvred window stands a great pewter pot with a hinged cover and engraved: “For the use of the ringers 16 — ”‘ [It is now in the County Museum.]

In the early part of the next year (1885) Hardy accepted a longstanding invitation to Eggesford by his friend Lady Portsmouth, whither he was to bring his work and continue it as if at home, but Mrs. Hardy was unable to accompany him. He found her there surrounded by her daughters, and their cousin Lady Winifred Herbert, afterwards Lady Burghclere; making altogether a lively house-party, Lady Portsmouth apologizing for its being mostly composed of ‘better halves’. Hence, though the library was placed at his disposal, and entry forbidden, that his labours should not be interrupted, very little work indeed was done while he stayed there, most of the time being spent in driving about the villages with his hosts and walking in the Park. Lord Portsmouth he found to be ‘a farmer-like man with a broad Devon accent. He showed me a bridge over which bastards were thrown and drowned, even down to quite recent times.’ Lady Dorothea, one of the daughters, told him of some of the escapades of her uncle Auberon Herbert — whom Hardy afterwards got to know very well — one of the most amusing being how he had personated a groom of his father’s at a Drawing-room, and by that trick got to see a flame of his who was to be there. Altogether they were an extraordinarily sympathetic group of women, and among other discussions was, of course, one on love, in which Lady Camilla informed him that ‘a woman is never so near being in love with a man she does not love as immediately he has left her after she has refused him’.

‘Lady P. tells me she never knew real anxiety till she had a family of daughters. She wants us to come to Devonshire and live near them. She says they would find a house for us. Cannot think why we live in benighted Dorset. Em would go willingly, as it is her native county; but alas, my house at Dorchester is nearly finished.’

‘Easter Sunday. Evidences of art in Bible narratives. They are written with a watchful attention (though disguised) as to their effect on their reader. Their so-called simplicity is, in fact, the simplicity of the highest cunning. And one is led to inquire, when even in these latter days artistic development and arrangement are the qualities least appreciated by readers, who was there likely to appreciate the art in these chronicles at that day?

‘Looking round on a well-selected jhelf of fiction or history, how few stories of any length does one recognize as well told from begin ning to end! The first half of this story, the last half of that, the middle of another. . . . The modern art of narration is yet in its infancy.

‘But in these Bible lives and adventures there is the spherical completeness of perfect art. And our first, and second, feeling that they must be true because they are so impressive, becomes, as a third feeling, modified to, “Are they so very true, after all? Is not the fact of their being so convincing an argument, not for their actuality, but for the actuality of a consummate artist who was no more content with what Nature offered than Sophocles and Pheidias were content?”‘

‘Friday, April 17. Wrote the last page of The Mayor of Caster - bridge, begun at least a year ago, and frequently interrupted in the writing of each part.’

‘April 19. The business of the poet and novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things, and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things.’

He was in London at the end of April, and probably saw Leslie Stephen there, since he makes the following remark: ‘Leslie Stephen as a critic. His approval is disapproval minimized.’

They went to the Academy this year as usual. On the Private View Hardy remarks: ‘ The great difference between a Private View and a public one is the loud chatter that prevails at the former, everybody knowing everybody else’. In the evening of the same day they were at a party at Lady Carnarvon’s, where Hardy met Lord Salisbury for the first time, and had an interesting talk with him on the art of making speeches — ‘whether it is best to plunge in medias res, or to adopt a developing method’. In the middle of May they were at another of these parties of Lady Carnarvon’s, where they met Browning again; also Mrs. Jeune (afterwards Lady St. Helier), and the usual friends whom they found there.

‘May 28. Waiting at the Marble Arch while Em called a little way further on. . . . This hum of the wheel — the roar of London! What is it composed of? Hurry, speech, laughters, moans, cries of little children. The people in this tragedy laugh, sing, smoke, toss off wines, etc., make love to girls in drawing-rooms and areas; and yet are playing their parts in the tragedy just the same. Some wear jewels and feathers, some wear rags. All are caged birds; the only difference lies in the size of the cage. This too is part of the tragedy.’

‘Sunday May 31. Called on Mrs. Procter. Shocked to find her in mourning for Edith. Can’t tell why I did not see announcement of her death. Browning also present.

‘Mrs. Procter was vexed with Browning and myself for sending cards to Victor Hugo’s funeral to attach to wreaths.’

At one of these crushes in the early part of 1885 they found themselves on a particular evening amid a simmer of political excitement. It was supposed to be a non-political ‘small-and-early’, but on their arrival the house was already full to overflowing; and a well-known Conservative peeress of that date, who had lately invited Hardy to her friendship, came up to him as if she must express her feelings to somebody, and said, ‘I’m ashamed of my party! They are actually all hoping that General Gordon is murdered, in order that it may ruin Gladstone!’ It seems to have been this rumour of Goran’s death, which had just been circulated, that had brought so many brilliant and titled people there. Auberon Herbert, who was also there, told Hardy privately that it was true. Presently another and grimmer lady, the Dowager Viscountess Galway, said to him that she half-believed Gordon was still alive, because no relic, bloody rag, or any scrap of him had been produced, which from her experience of those countries she knew to be almost the invariable custom. So the crowd waited, and conjectured, and did not leave till a late hour, the truth as to Gordon’s fate not being generally known till some days after.

It must have been his experiences at these nominally social but really political parties that gave rise to the following note at the same date:

‘History is rather a stream than a tree. There is nothing organic in its shape, nothing systematic in its development. It flows on like a thunderstorm-rill by a road side; now a straw turns it this way, now a tiny barrier of sand that. The offhand decision of some commonplace mind high in office at a critical moment influences the course of events for a hundred years. Consider the evenings at Lord Carnarvon’s, and the intensely average conversation on politics held there by average men who two or three weeks later were members of the Cabinet. A row of shopkeepers in Oxford Street taken just as they came would conduct the affairs of the nation as ably as these.

‘Thus, judging by bulk of effect, it becomes impossible to estimate the intrinsic value of ideas, acts, material things: we are forced to appraise them by the curves of their career. There were more beautiful women in Greece than Helen; but what of them?

‘What Ruskin says as to the cause of the want of imagination in works of the present age is probably true — that it is the flippant sarcasm of the time. “ Men dare not open their hearts to us if we are to broil them on a thorn fire.’“

At the end of the month of June Hardy was obliged to go down to Dorset to superintend the removal of his furniture from the house he had temporarily taken in Dorchester to the one he had built in the fields at Max Gate, a mile out of the town.

This house, one mile east of Dorchester, had been about eighteen months in building, commencing November 26, 1883, during which time Hardy was constantly overlooking operations. The plot of ground, which he bought from the Duchy of Cornwall, was acres in extent, and nearly forty years later another half-acre was added to the garden.

A visitor to Max Gate in 1886 gives the following description:

‘The house that is, from its position, almost the first object in the neighbourhood to catch the sun’s morning rays, and the last to relinquish the evening glow, is approached . . . along the Wareham road across an open down. From this side the building appears as an unpretending red-brick structure of moderate size, somewhat quaintly built, and standing in a garden which is divided from the upland without by an enclosing wall. . . . The place is as lonely as it is elevated; and it is evident that from the narrow windows of a turret which rises at the salient angle an extensive view of the surrounding country may be obtained.

‘From the white entrance gate in the wall a short drive, planted on the windward side with beech and sycamore, leads up to the house, arrivals being notified to the inmates by the voice of a glossy black setter [Moss], who comes into view from the stable at the back as far as his chain will allow him. Within, we find ourselves in a small square hall, floored with dark polished wood, and resembling rather a cosy sitting-room with a staircase in it than a hall as commonly understood. It is lighted by a window of leaded panes, through which may be seen Conygar Hill, Came Plantation, and the elevated seamark of Culliford Tree.’

Some two or three thousand small trees, mostly Austrian pines, were planted around the house by Hardy himself, and in later years these grew so thickly that the house was almost entirely screened from the road, and finally appeared, in summer, as if at the bottom of a dark green well of trees.

To the right of the front door upon entering is the drawing-room, and to the left the dining-room. Above the drawing-room is the room which Hardy used as his first study at Max Gate, and in this room The Woodlanders was written. Later he moved his study to the back of the house with a window facing west, where Tess of the d’Urbervilles took shape. In after years another study was built over a new kitchen, and here The Dynasts and all the later poems were written, with the remaining literary work of Hardy’s life. The rather large window of this, the last of all his workrooms, faced east, and the full moon rising over the tops of the dark pines was a familiar sight.

When Max Gate was built Hardy intended to have a sundial affixed to the easternmost turret, as shown in an illustration drawn by himself for IVessex Poems. This design, constantly in his mind, never matured during his life, though at the time of his death the sundial was actually being made in Dorchester, from a model prepared by himself, more than forty years after it was first planned.

A description of his personal appearance at this time, by a careful observer, is as follows:

‘A somewhat fair-complexioned man, a trifle below the middle - height [he was actually 5 ft. 6\ ins.] of slight build, with a pleasant thoughtful face, exceptionally broad at the temples, and fringed by a beard trimmed after the Elizabethan manner [this beard was shaved off about 1890, and he never grew another, but had always a moustache]; a man readily sociable and genial, but one whose mien conveys the impression that the world in his eyes has rather more of the tragedy than the comedy about it.’

His smile was of exceptional sweetness, and his eyes were a clear blue-grey. His whole aspect was almost childlike in its sincerity and simplicity, the features being strongly marked, and his nose, as he himself once described it, more Roman than aquiline. The nobility of his brow was striking. When young he had abundant hair of a deep chestnut colour, which later became a dark brown, almost black, until it turned grey. His hands were well shaped, with long deft fingers; his shoulders particularly neat, and his gait light and easy. He walked very rapidly. He was always a spare man, though not actually thin, and he never in his life allowed himself to be weighed, as he said he considered that to be unlucky.



1885-1887: Aet. 45-46

On June 29 the Hardys slept at Max Gate for the first time — the house being one they were destined to occupy permanently thence onward, except during the four or five months in each year that were spent in London or abroad. Almost the first visitor at their new house was R. L. Stevenson, till then a stranger to Hardy, who wrote from Bournemouth to announce his coming, adding characteristically: ‘I could have got an introduction, but my acquaintance with your mind is already of old date. ... If you should be busy or unwilling, the irregularity of my approach leaves you the safer retreat.’ He appeared two days afterwards, with his wife, wife’s son, and cousin. They were on their way to Dartmoor, the air of which Stevenson had learnt would be good for his complaint. But, alas, he never reached Dartmoor, falling ill at Exeter and being detained there till he was well enough to go home again.

‘September 16. Dined with [Hon. Aubrey] Spring-Rice [who lived at Dorchester]. Met there his cousin Aubrey de Vere the poet, and Father Poole. De Vere says that his father used to say a Greek drama was the fifth act of an Elizabethan one, which of course it is, when not a sixth.’

‘October 17. Called on William Bames. Talked of old families. He told me a story of Louis Napoleon. During his residence in England he was friendly with the Damers, and used to visit at Winterborne-Came House, near Dorchester, where they lived. (It Was a current tradition that he wished to marry Miss Damer; also lhat he would dreamily remark that it was fated he should be the Emperor of the French to avenge the defeat of Waterloo.) It was lhe fashion then for the Dorchester people to parade in full dress in the South Walk on Sunday afternoons, and on one occasion the gamers with their guest came in from their house a mile off and joined 111 the promenade. Barnes, who kept a school in the town, had an usher from Blackmore Vale named Hann (whose people seem to have been of my mother’s stock), and Barnes and his usher also promenaded. For a freak Louis Napoleon, who was walking with Colonel Damer, slipt his cane between Hann’s legs when they brushed past each other in opposite directions, and nearly threw the usher down. Hann was peppery, like all of that pedigree, my maternal line included, and almost before Barnes knew what was happening had pulled off his coat, thrown it on Barnes, and was challenging Louis Napoleon to fight. The latter apologized profusely, said it was quite an accident, and laughed the affair off; so the burghers who had stood round expecting a fight resumed their walk disappointed.’

1 November 17-19. In a fit of depression, as if enveloped in a leaden cloud. Have gone back to my original plot for The Wood - landers after all. Am working from half-past ten a.m. to twelve p.m., to get my mind made up on the details.’

‘November 21-22. Sick headache.’

‘Tragedy. It may be put thus in brief: a tragedy exhibits a state of things in the life of an individual which unavoidably causes some natural aim or desire of his to end in a catastrophe when carried out.’

‘November 25. Letter from John Morley [probably about The Woodlanders, he being then editor of Macmillan’s Magaiine in which it was to appear]; and one from Leslie Stephen, with remarks on books he had read between whiles.’

‘December 9. “Everything looks so little — so ghastly little!” A local exclamation heard.’

‘December 12. Experience wnteaches — (what one at first thinks to be the rule in events).’

‘December 21. The Hypocrisy of things. Nature is an arch - dissembler. A child is deceived completely; the older members of society more or less according to their penetration; though even they seldom get to realise that nothing is as it appears.’

‘December 31. This evening, the end of the old year 1885 finds me sadder than many previous New Year’s Eves have done. Whether building this house at Max Gate was a wise expenditure of energy is one doubt, which, if resolved in the negative, is depressing enough. And there are others. But:

‘“ This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed; for all things are according to the nature of the universal.” ‘ [Marcus Aurelius.]

1886. — ‘January 2, The Mayor of Casterbridge begins to-day in the Graphic newspaper and Harper s Weekly. — I fear it will not be so good as I meant, but after all, it is not improbabilities of incident but improbabilities of character that matter. . . .

‘Cold weather brings out upon the faces of people the written marks of their habits, vices, passions, and memories, as warmth brings out on paper a writing in sympathetic ink. The drunkard looks still more a drunkard when the splotches have their margins made distinct by frost, the hectic blush becomes a stain now, the cadaverous complexion reveals the bone under, the quality of handsomeness is reduced to its lowest terms.’

‘January 3. My art is to intensify the expression of things, as is done by Crivelli, Bellini, etc., so that the heart and inner meaning is made vividly visible.’

‘January 6. Misapprehension. The shrinking soul thinks its weak place is going to be laid bare, and shows its thought by a suddenly clipped manner. The other shrinking soul thinks the clipped manner of the first to be the result of its own weakness in some way, not of its strength, and shows its fear also by its constrained air! So they withdraw from each other and misunderstand.’

‘March 4. Novel-writing as an art cannot go backward. Having reached the analytic stage it must transcend it by going still further in the same direction. Why not by rendering as visible essences, spectres, etc., the abstract thoughts of the analytic school?’

This notion was approximately carried out, not in a novel, but through the much more appropriate medium of poetry, in the supernatural framework of The Dynasts as also in smaller poems. And a further note of the same date enlarges the same idea:

‘The human race to be shown as one great network or tissue which quivers in every part when one point is shaken, like a spider’s web if touched. Abstract realisms to be in the form of Spirits, Spectral figures, etc.

‘The Realities to be the true realities of life, hitherto called abstractions. The old material realities to be placed behind the former, as shadowy accessories.’

In the spring and summer they were again in London, staying in Bloomsbury to have the Reading Room of the Museum at hand. It was the spring during which Gladstone brought in his Home Rule Bill for Ireland. The first that Hardy says about it occurs in an entry dated April 8, 9, 10, 11:

‘A critical time, politically. I never remember a debate of such absorbing interest as this on Gladstone’s Bill for Irish Government. He spoke lucidly: Chamberlain with manly practical earnestness; Hartington fairly forcibly; Morley without much effect (for him). Morley’s speech shows that in Parliament a fine intelligence is not appreciated without sword-and-buckler doggedness. Chamberlain impresses me most of all, as combining these qualities.’

And on May 10: ‘Saw Gladstone enter the Houses of Parliament. The crowd was very excited, not only waving their hats and shouting and running, but leaping in the air. His head was bare, and his now bald crown showed pale and distinct over the top of Mrs. Gladstone’s bonnet.’

On the 13 th Hardy was in the House, the debate on the Government of Ireland still continuing:

‘Gladstone was suave in replying to Bradlaugh, almost unctuous. “Not accustomed to recognize Parliamentary debts after five years”, etc. He would shake his head and smile contradictions to his opponents across the table and red box, on which he wrote from time to time. Heard Morley say a few words, also Sir W. Harcourt, and Lord Hartington; a speech from Sir H. James, also from Lord G. Hamilton, Campbell-Bannerman, etc. Saw the dandy party enter in evening-dress, eye-glasses, diamond rings, etc. They were a great contrast to Joseph Arch and the Irish members in their plain, simple, ill-fitting clothes. The House is a motley assembly nowadays. Gladstone’s frock-coat dangled and swung as he went in and out with a white flower in his button-hole and open waistcoat. Lord Randolph’s manner in turning to Dillon, the Irish member, was almost arrogant. Sir R. Cross was sturdy, like T. B. the Dorchester butcher, when he used to stand at the chopping-block on market-days. The earnestness of the Irish members who spoke was very impressive; Lord G. Hamilton was entirely wanting in earnestness; Sir H. James quite the reverse; E. Clarke direct, firm, and incisive, but inhumane.

‘To realise the difficulty of the Irish question it is necessary to see the Irish phalanx sitting tight: it then seems as if one must go with Morley, and get rid of them at any cost.

‘Morley kept trying to look used to it all, and not as if he were a consummate man of letters there by mistake. Gladstone was quite distinct from all others in the House, though he sits low in his seat from age. When he smiled one could see benevolence on his face. Large-heartedness versus small-heartedness is a distinct attitude which the House of Commons takes up to an observer’s eye.’

Though he did not enter it here Hardy often wrote elsewhere, and said of Home Rule that it was a staring dilemma, of which good policy and good philanthropy were the huge horns. Policy for England required that it should not be granted; humanity to Ireland that it should. Neither Liberals nor Conservatives would honestly own up to this opposition between two moralities, but speciously insisted that humanity and policy were both on one side — of course their own.

‘May. Reading in the British Museum. Have been thinking over the dictum of Hegel — that the real is the rational and the rational the real — that real pain is compatible with a formal pleasure — that the idea is all, etc., but it doesn’t help much. These venerable philosophers seem to start wrong; they cannot get away from a prepossession that the world must somehow have been made to be a comfortable place for man. If I remember, it was Comte who said that metaphysics was a mere sorry attempt to reconcile theology and physics.’

‘May 17. At a curious soiree in Bond Street. Met a Hindu Buddhist, a remarkably well-educated man who speaks English fluently. He is the coach of the Theosophical Society. Also encountered a Mr. E. Maitland, author of a book called The Pilgrim and the Shrine, which I remember. He mentioned also another, written, I think he said, by himself and Dr. Anna Kingsford in collabouration. If he could not get on with the work on any particular night he would go to her next morning and she would supply him with the sentences, written down by her on waking, as sentences she had dreamt of without knowing why. Met also Dr. Anna Kingsford herself, and others; all very strange people.’

The Mayor of Casterbridge was issued complete about the end of May. It was a story which Hardy fancied he had damaged more recklessly as an artistic whole, in the interest of the newspaper in which it appeared serially, than perhaps any other of his novels, his aiming to get an incident into almost every week’s part causing him in his own judgment to add events to the narrative somewhat too freely. However, as at this time he called his novel-writing ‘mere journeywork’ he cared little about it as art, though it must be said in favour of the plot, as he admitted later, that it was quite coherent and organic, in spite of its complication. And others thought better of it than he did himself, as is shown by the letter R. L. Stevenson writes thereon:



‘My dear Hardy,

‘I have read “ The Mayor of Casterbridge” with sincere admiration: Henchard is a great fellow, and Dorchester is touched in with the hand of a master.

‘Do you think you would let me try to dramatize it? I keep unusually well, and am ‘Yours very sincerely,

‘Robert Louis Stevenson.’

What became of this dramatic project there is no evidence to show in the Life of Stevenson, so far as is remembered by the present writer. The story in long after years became highly popular; but it is curious to find that Hardy had some difficulty in getting it issued in volume-form, James Payn, the publishers’ reader, having reported to Smith, Elder and Co. that the lack of gentry among the characters made it uninteresting — a typical estimate of what was, or was supposed to be, mid-Victorian taste.

During the remainder of this month, and through June and July, they were dining and lunching out almost every day. Hardy did not take much account of these functions, though some remarks he makes are interesting. For instance, he describes the charming daughter of a then popular hostess with whom he and his wife had been lunching:

‘MWis still as childlike as when I first met her. She has an instinct to give something which she cannot resist. Gave me a flower. She expresses as usual contrary opinions at different moments. At one time she is going to marry; then she never is: at one moment she has been ill; at another she is always well. Pities the row of poor husbands at Marshall and Snelgrove’s. Gave a poor crossing-sweeper a shilling; came back and found her drunk. An emotional delicate girl, in spite of what she calls her “largeness”, i.e. her being bigly built.’

In these weeks Hardy met Walter Pater, ‘whose manner is that of one carrying weighty ideas without spilling them’. Also a lot of politicians, on whom he notes: ‘ Plenty of form in their handling of politics, but no matter, or originality.’ Either on this occasion or a few days later the hostess, Mrs. Jeune, drew the attention of Justin McCarthy — also a guest — to the Conservative placard in her window. ‘I hope you don’t mind the blue bill?’ ‘Not at all,’ said the amiable McCarthy blandly. ‘Blue is a colour I have liked from a boy.’

At Mr. and Mrs. Gosse’s they met Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and his daughter:

‘His is a little figure, that of an aged boy. He said markedly that he did not read novels; I did not say I had never read his essays,

though it would have been true, I am ashamed to think. . . . But authors are not so touchy as they are supposed to be on such matters — at least I am not — and I found him a very bright, pleasant, juvenile old man.’ At a Rabelais Club dinner a few days later he renewed acquaintance with Dr. Holmes, and with Henry James, ‘who has a ponderously warm manner of saying nothing in infinite sentences’; and also talked to George Meredith. This may possibly have been the first time he and Meredith had met since Hardy received Meredith’s advice about novel-writing; but it is not clear that it was so. At dinners elsewhere in these weeks he met Whistler and Charles Keene, Bret Harte, Sambourne, and others — most of them for the first and last time; at Sidney Colvin’s he renewed acquaintance with R. L. Stevenson, then in London; and at another house sat next to a genial old lady, Lady Camperdown, and ‘could not get rid of the feeling that I was close to a great naval engagement’.

On some music of Wagner’s listened to at a concert at this time when it was less familiar to the public than after, Hardy remarks: ‘It was weather and ghost music — whistling of wind and storm, the strumming of a gale on iron railings, the creaking of doors; low screams of entreaty and agony through key-holes, amid which trumpet - voices are heard. Such music, like any other, may be made to express emotion of various kinds; but it cannot express the subject or reason of that emotion.’

Apropos of this it may be mentioned here that, many years after, Hardy met Grieg, and in doing his best to talk about music Hardy explained that Wagner’s compositions seemed to him like the wind - effects above described. ‘I would rather have the wind and rain myself,’ Grieg replied, shaking his head.

Mrs. Procter, who was still strong enough to go out, came to the Hardys to tea, and among her stores of anecdotes told one that was amusing about Macaulay and Sydney Smith, who had dined at her house in years gone by: when Macaulay had gone she said to Sydney Smith: ‘You gave him no chance at all to talk.’ ‘On the contrary,’ said Sydney Smith, ‘I gave him several opportunities — which you took advantage of.’

It was during this summer that the Hardys either began or renewed their acquaintance with Mrs. Henry Reeve and her sister Miss Gollop, whose family was an old Dorset one; and with Reeve himself, the well-known editor of the Edinburgh Review and of the famous Greville Memoirs. Notwithstanding a slight pompousness of manner he attracted the younger man by his wide experience of Continental men of letters, musicians, and princes, and of English affairs political and journalistic.

‘June 29. Called on Leslie Stephen. He is just the same or worse; as if dying to express sympathy, but suffering under some terrible curse which prevents his saying any but caustic things, and showing antipathy instead.’ [Hardy was not aware that Stephen was unwell, and growing deaf, or he would not have put in this form his impression of a man he so much liked, and who had been so much to him.]

‘Afterwards had a good talk with Auberon Herbert at Lady Portsmouth’s. He said that the clue to Gladstone’s faults was personal vanity. His niece Lady Winifred Herbert, who was present, said that politics had revealed themselves to her as a horror of late. Nevertheless she insisted that to listen to our conversation on the same horror was not an infliction.’

Mr. George Gissing, finding that Hardy was in London this summer, had asked if he might call upon him for some advice about novel-writing; which he did. Sending one of his own novels afterwards, Gissing writes at the end of June:

‘It is possible you will find The Unclassed detestable. I myself should not dare to read it now, it is too saturated with bygone miseries of every kind. . . . May I add in one word what very real pleasure it has given me to meet and speak with you? I have not been the least careful of your readers, and in your books I have constantly found refreshment and onward help. That aid is much needed now - a-days by anyone who wishes to pursue literature as distinct from the profession of letters. In literature my interests begin and end; I hope to make my life and all its acquirements subservient to my ideal of artistic creation. The end of it all may prove ineffectual, but as well spend one’s strength thus as in another way. The misery of it is that, writing for English people, one may not be thorough: reticences and superficialities have so often to fill places where one is willing to put in honest work.’

‘July 11. Met and talked to Browning at Mrs. Procter’s again, and a day or two later at Mrs. Skirrow’s, where was also Oscar Wilde, etc.

‘In Rotten Row. Every now and then each woman, however interesting, puts on her battle face.

‘In evening to bookstalls in Holywell Street known to me so many years ago.’

Hardy by this time had quite resigned himself to novel-writing as a trade, which he had never wanted to carry on as such. He now went about the business mechanically. He was in court a part of the time during which the Crawford-Dilke case was proceeding. He makes no comment on the case itself, but a general remark on the court:

‘The personality which fills the court is that of the witness. The judge’s personality during the cross-examination contracts to his corporeal dimensions merely. So do they all save that of the pervasive witness aforesaid. . . . The witness is also the fool of the court. . . . The witness’s little peculiarities supersede those of all the other personages together. He is at once king and victim.

‘As to the architecture of the courts, there are everywhere religious art-forces masquerading as law symbols! The leaf, flower, fret, suggested by spiritual emotion, are pressed into the service of social strife.’

The remainder of his spare time in London this year appears to have been spent in the British Museum Library and elsewhere, considering the question of The Dynasts.

At the end of July they returned to Max Gate, where he went on with The IVoodlanders; and in October they paid another visit to Lady Portsmouth in Devon, where they had a pleasant week, visiting local scenes and surroundings down to the kennels (Lord Portsmouth being Master of Hounds) and the dogs’ cemetery. ‘ Lord Portsmouth made his whipper-in tell Emma the story of the hunted fox that ran up the old woman’s clock-case, adding corroborative words with much gravity as the story proceeded and enjoying it more than she did, though he had heard it 100 times.’

In October the Dorset poet William Barnes died. Hardy had known him ever since his schoolmastering time in South Street, Dorchester, next door to the architect under whom Hardy had served his years of pupillage. In 1864 Barnes had retired from school - keeping, and accepted the living of Winterborne-Came-cum-Whit - combe, the rectory house being, by chance, not half a mile from the only spot Hardy could find convenient for building a dwelling on. Hardy’s walk across the fields to attend the poet’s funeral was marked by the singular incident to which he alludes in the poem entitled ‘The Last Signal’. He also wrote an obituary notice of his friend for the Athenceum, which was afterwards drawn upon for details of his life in the Dictionary of National Biography. It was not till many years after that he made and edited a selection of Barnes’s poems.

The beginning of December covers this entry:

‘I often view society-gatherings, people in the street, in a room, or elsewhere, as if they were beings in a somnambulistic state, making their motions automatically — not realising what they mean.’

And a few days later another, when going to London:

‘December 7. Winter. The landscape has turned from a painting to an engraving: the birds that love worms fall back upon berries: the back parts of homesteads assume, in the general nakedness of the trees, a humiliating squalidness as to their details that has not been contemplated by their occupiers.

‘A man I met in the train says in a tone of bitter regret that he wore out seven sets of horseshoes in riding from Sturminster Newton to Weymouth when courting a young woman at the latter place. He did not say whether he won and married her, or not; but I fancy he did.

‘At the Society of British Artists there is good technique in abundance; but ideas for subjects are lacking. The impressionist school is strong. It is even more suggestive in the direction of literature than in that of art. As usual it is pushed to absurdity by some. But their principle is, as I understand it, that what you carry away with you from a scene is the true feature to grasp; or in other words, what appeals to your own individual eye and heart in particular amid much that does not so appeal, and which you therefore omit to record.

‘Talked to Bob Stevenson — Louis’s cousin — at the Savile. A more solid character than Louis.

‘Called on Mrs. Jeune. She was in a rich pinky-red gown, and looked handsome as we sat by the firelight en tete-a-tete: she was, curiously enough, an example of Whistler’s study in red that I had seen in the morning at the Gallery.

‘To Lady Carnarvon’s “ small and early”. Snow falling: the cabman drove me furiously — I don’t know why. The familiar man with the lantern at the door. Her drawing-room was differently arranged from its method during her summer crushes. They seemed glad to see me. Lady Winifred told me she was going to be married on the 10th of January at the Savoy Chapel, with other details of the wedding. She was serious and thoughtful — I fancied a little careworn. Said she was not going to let her honeymoon interfere with her reading, and means to carry a parcel of books. Spoke of her betrothed as ‘He’ — as a workman speaks of his employer — never mentioning his name. Wants me to call my heroine “Winifred”, but it is too late to alter it.

aet. 45-46MAX GATE185

‘Talked to Lady Carnarvon about the trees at Highclere in relation to my work in hand [The IVoodlanders]. Lord C. told me he had filled several bookshelves with books all written by members of his own family — from Sir Philip Sidney, who was his mother’s mother’s mother’s, etc. brother, downwards.

‘The last time, I suppose, that I shall see friendly Winifred Herbert pouring out tea from the big tea-pot in that house, as I have seen her do so many times. Lady Carnarvon went about the room weaving little webs of sympathy between her guests.’

So came the end of 1886.

January 1887 was uneventful at Max Gate, and the only remark its occupier makes during the month is the following:

‘After looking at the landscape ascribed to Bonington in our drawing-room I feel that Nature is played out as a Beauty, but not as a Mystery. I don’t want to see landscapes, i.e., scenic paintings of them, because I don’t want to see the original realities — as optical effects, that is. I want to see the deeper reality underlying the scenic, the expression of what are sometimes called abstract imaginings.

‘The “simply natural” is interesting no longer. The much decried, mad, late-Turner rendering is now necessary to create my interest. The exact truth as to material fact ceases to be of importance in art — it is a student’s style — the style of a period when the mind is serene and unawakened to the tragical mysteries of life; when it does not bring anything to the object that coalesces with and translates the qualities that are already there, — half hidden, it may be — and the two united are depicted as the All.’

‘February 4, 8.20 p.m. Finished The IVoodlanders. Thought I should feel glad, but I do not particularly, — though relieved.’ In after years he often said that in some respects The IVoodlanders was his best novel.

‘February 6. Sunday. To see my father. It was three men whom he last saw flogged in Dorchester by the Town-pump — about 1830. He happened to go in from Stinsford about mid-day. Some soldiers coming down the street from the Barracks interfered, and swore at Davis [Jack Ketch] because he did not “flog fair”; that is to say he waited between each lash for the flesh to recover sensation, whereas, as they knew from experience, by striking quickly the flesh remained numb through several strokes.’

‘February 13. You may regard a throng of people as containing a certain small minority who have sensitive souls; these, and the aspects of these, being what is worth observing. So you divide them into the mentally unquickened, mechanical, soulless; and the living, throbbing, suffering, vital. In other words, into souls and machines, ether and clay.

‘I was thinking a night or two ago that people are somnambulists — that the material is not the real — only the visible, the real being invisible optically. That it is because we are in a somnambulistic hallucination that we think the real to be what we see as real.

‘Faces. The features to beholders so commonplace are to their possessor lineaments of high estimation, striking, hopeful.’

Having now some leisure, and the spring drawing near, Hardy carried into effect an idea that he had long entertained, and on Monday, March 14, 1887, left Dorchester with Mrs. Hardy for London on their way to Italy, the day before The IVoodlanders was published by the Messrs. Macmillan.


1887: Aet. 46

The month had been mild hitherto, but no sooner had they started than the weather turned to snow; and a snowstorm persistently accompanied them across the Channel and southward beyond. They broke the journey at Aix-les-Bains, at which place they arrived past midnight, and the snow being by this time deep a path was cleared with spades for them to the fly in waiting, which two horses, aided by men turning the wheels, dragged with difficulty up the hill to the Hotel Chateau Durieux — an old-fashioned place with stone floors and wide fireplaces. They were the only people there — the first visitors of the season — and in spite of a huge fire in their bedroom they found the next morning a cone of snow within each casement, and a snow film on the floor sufficient to show their tracks in moving about. Hardy used to speak of a curious atmospheric effect then witnessed: he was surprised that the windows of the room they occupied — one of the best — should command the view of a commonplace paddock only, with a few broken rails and sheds. But presently ‘what had seemed like the sky evolved a scene which uncurtained itself high up in the midst of the aerial expanse, as in a magic lantern, and vast mountains appeared there, tantalisingly withdrawing again as if they had been a mere illusion’.

They stayed here a day or two, ‘the mountains showing again coquettish signs of uncovering themselves, and again coquettishly pulling down their veil’.

Leaving for Turin they stayed there awhile, then duly reached Genoa, concerning the first aspect of which from the train Hardy wrote a long time after the lines entitled ‘Genoa and the Mediterranean’, though that city — so pre-eminently the city of marble — ‘everything marble’, he writes, ‘even little doorways in slums’ — nobly redeemed its character when they visited its palaces during their stay.

At Pisa after visiting the Cathedral and Baptistery they stood at 187

the top of the leaning tower during a peal of the bells, which shook it under their feet, and saw the sun set from one of the bridges over the Arno, as Shelley had probably seen it from the same bridge many a time. Thence by ‘melancholy olives and cheerful lemons’ they proceeded to Florence, where they were met by an inhabitant of that city, Lucy Baxter, the daughter of the poet Barnes, married and settled there since Hardy had known her in girlhood, and who wrote under the name of ‘Leader Scott’. She had obtained lodgings for them at the Villa Trollope, in the Piazza dell’ Indipendenza; and there they remained all the time they were in Florence. Their Florentine experiences onward were much like those of other people visiting for the first time the buildings, pictures, and historic sites of that city. They were fortunately able to see the old Market just before its destruction. Having gone through the galleries and churches of Florence, they drove out and visited another English resident in the country near, and also went over the Certosa di Val d’Ema. Then they travelled on to Rome, their first glimpse of it being of the Dome of St. Peter’s across the stagnant flats of the Campagna.

They put up at the Hotel d’Allemagne, in the Via Condotti, a street opposite the Piazza di Spagna and the steps descending from the church of SS. Trinita dei Monti, on the south side of which stands the house where Keats died. Hardy liked to watch of an evening, when the streets below were immersed in shade, the figures ascending and descending these steps in the sunset glow, the front of the church orange in the same light; and also the house hard by, in which no mind could conjecture what had been lost to English literature in the early part of the same century that saw him there.

After some days spent in the Holy City Hardy began to feel, he frequently said, its measureless layers of history to lie upon him like a physical weight. The time of their visit was not so long after the peeling of the Colosseum and other ruins of their vast accumulations of parasitic growths, which, though Hardy as an architect defended the much-deplored process on the score of its absolute necessity if the walls were to be preserved, he yet wished had not been taken in hand till after his inspection of them. This made the ruins of the ancient city, the ‘altae moenia Romae’ as he called them from the Aeneid, more gaunt to the vision and more depressing to the mind than they had been to visitors when covered with greenery, and accounts for his allusions to the city in the poems on Rome written after his return, as exhibiting ‘ochreous gauntness’, ‘umbered walls’, and so forth.

He mentions in a note the dustiness of the Pincio: ‘ Dust rising in clouds from the windy drive to the top, whitening the leaves of the evergreen oaks, and making the pale splotches on the trunks of the plane trees yet paler. The busts of illustrious Romans seem to require hats and goggles as a protection. But in the sheltered gardens beneath palms spread, and oranges still hang on the trees.’

There was a great spurt of building going on at this time, on which he remarks, ‘ I wonder how anybody can have any zest to erect a new building in Rome, in the overpowering presence of decay on the mangy and rotting walls of old erections, originally of fifty times the strength of the new.’ This sentiment was embodied in the sonnet called ‘ Building a New Street in the Ancient Quarter.’

A visit to the graves of Shelley and Keats was also the inspiration of more verses — probably not written till later; his nearly falling asleep in the Sala delle Muse of the Vatican was the source of another poem, the weariness being the effect of the deadly fatiguing size of St. Peter’s; and the musical incident, which as he once said, took him by surprise when investigating the remains of Caligula’s palace, that of another.

‘The quality of the faces in the streets of Rome: Satyrs: Emperors: Faustinas.’

Hardy’s notes of Rome were of a very jumbled and confusing kind. But, probably from a surviving architectural instinct, he made a few measurements in the Via Appia Antica, where he was obsessed by a vision of a chained file of prisoners plodding wearily along towards Rome, one of the most haggard of whom was to be famous through the ages as the founder of Pauline Christianity. He also noticed that the pavement of the fashionable promenade, the Corso, was two feet six inches wide. Of a different kind was his note that ‘The monk who showed us the hole in which stood Saint Peter’s Cross in the Church of S. Pietro in Montorio, and fetched up a pinch of clean sand from it, implying it had been there ever since the apostle’s crucifixion, was a man of cynical humour, and gave me an indescribably funny glance from the tail of his eye as if to say: “ You see well enough what an imposture it all is!” I have noticed this sly humour in some more of these Roman monks, such as the one who sent me on alone into the vaults of the Cappuccini [among the thousands of skulls there], not knowing that I was aware of them, and therefore not startled at the ghastly scene. Perhaps there is something in my appearance which makes them think me a humorist also.’

On the Roman pictures and statuary the only remark he makes except in verse is: ‘ Paintings. In Roman art the kernel of truth has acquired a thick rind of affectation: e.g. I find that pictures by Giotto have been touched up so thoroughly that what you see is not Giotto at all, but the over-lying renovations. A disappointing sight. Alas for this “wronged great soul of an ancient master”!’ (The remark, though written at Rome, seems to refer more particularly to Florence.)

By curious chance Hardy was present at a wedding at the church of S. Lorenzo-in-Lucina, and was vexed with himself that he did not recollect till afterwards that it was the church of Pompilia’s marriage in The Ring and the Book. But he was on the whole more interested in Pagan than in Christian Rome, of the latter preferring churches in which he could detect columns from ancient temples. Christian Rome, he said, was so rambling and stratified that to comprehend it in a single visit was like trying to read Gibbon through at a sitting. So that, for instance, standing on the meagre remains of the Via Sacra then recently uncovered, he seemed to catch more echoes of the inquisitive -bore’s conversation there with the poet Horace than of worship from the huge basilicas hard by, which were in point of time many centuries nearer to him. But he was careful to remind one to whom he spoke about this that it was really a question of familiarity, time being nothing beside knowledge, and that he happened to remember the scene in the Satires which he, like so many schoolboys, had read, while his mind was a blank on the most august ceremonial of the Middle-Age Christian services in the Basilica Julia or the Basilica of Constantine.

‘April. Our spirits. As we get older they are less subject to steep gradients than in youth. We lower the elevations, and fill the hollows with sustained judgments.’

While here he received among other letters one from Mrs. Procter containing the following remarks:

‘It is very kind of you to think of me in Rome, and stretch out a friendly hand. Perhaps, as you are living amidst the Ancient, there is a propriety in thinking of the Oldish, and, I must say, the truest,

friend you have.

‘We are still in Winter: to-day a bitter East wind, and tiles and chimney pots flying about. Never have we had so long a season of cold weather — all our Money gone in Coals and Gas.

‘I have been displeased, so much as one ever is by a Man whom you care nothing about, by an Article written by a Dr. Wendell Holmes the American. He comes here, and then says, “the most wonderful thing I saw in England were the Old Ladies — they are so active, and tough like Old Macaws” — Now am I like an Old Macaw? — He might have said Parrots.

‘Then Mr. Thackeray’s letters [to Mrs. Brookfield]: so common, so vulgar! You will see them in Scribners Magazine. — He was never in love with me, but the 200 letters he wrote me were very superior to these.’

It was with a sense of having grasped very little of its history that he left the city, though with some relief, which may have been partly physical and partly mental.

Returning to Florence on ‘a soft green misty evening following rain’, he found the scenery soothing after the gauntness of Rome. On a day of warm sun he sat down for a long time, he said, on the steps of the Lanzi, in the Piazza della Signoria, and thought of many things:

‘It is three in the afternoon, and the faces of the buildings are steeped in afternoon stagnation. The figure of Neptune is looking an intense white against the brown-grey houses behind, and the bronze forms round the basin [of the fountain] are starred with rays on their noses, elbows, knees, bosoms and shoulders. The shade from the Loggia dei Lanzi falls half across the Piazza. Turning my head there rise the three great arches with their sculptures, then those in the middle of the Loggia, then the row of six at the back with their uplifted fingers, as if’ [sentence unfinished].

‘In the caffe near there is a patter of speech, and on the pavement outside a noise of hoofs. The reflection from that statue of Neptune throws a secondary light into the caffe.

‘Everybody is thinking, even amid these art examples from various ages, that this present age is the ultimate climax and upshot of the previous ages, and not a link in a chain of them.

‘In a work of art it is the accident which charms, not the intention; that we only like and admire. Instance the amber tones that pervade the folds of drapery in ancient marbles, the deadened polish of the surfaces, and the cracks and the scratches.’

In visiting Fiesole they met with a mishap which might have ended in a serious accident. With Mrs. Baxter they had journeyed out from Florence to the foot of the hill on which the little town stands, and were about to walk up the height when on second thoughts they entered a gimcrack omnibus that plied to the top. The driver went to have a drink before starting, and left the omnibus untended, only one of the two horses being put to. The horse immediately started with the three inside at a furious pace towards Florence. The highway was dotted with heaps of large stones for repair, but he avoided them by a miracle, until the steam tram from Florence appeared a little way ahead, and a collision seemed inevitable. Two workmen, however, seeing the danger, descended from the roof of a house and stepping in front of the horse stopped it. They again attempted Fiesole, and climbed up — this time on foot despite all invitations from flymen.

In a sonnet on Fiesole called ‘In the Old Theatre’ Hardy makes use of an incident that occurred while he was sitting in the stone Amphitheatre on the summit of the hill.

A few more looks at Florence, including the Easter ceremony of the Scoppio del Carro, a visit to Mrs. Browning’s tomb, and to the supposed scene in the Piazza dell’ Annunziata of one of Browning’s finest poems, ‘The Statue and the Bust’, ended their visit to this half - English city, and after seeing Siena they left for Bologna, Ferrara, and Venice by the railway across the Apennines, not forgetting to gaze at the Euganean Hills so inseparable from thoughts of Shelley. It is rather noticeable that two such differing poets as Browning and Shelley, in their writings, their mentality, and their lives, should have so mingled in Hardy’s thoughts during this Italian tour, almost to the exclusion of other English poets equally, or nearly so, associated with Italy, with whose works he was just as well acquainted.

Hardy seems to have found more pleasure in Venice than in any Italian city previously visited, in spite of bad weather during a part of his stay there. Byron of course was introduced here among the other phantom poets marshalled through his brain in front of the sea-queen’s historic succession of scenes.

A wet windy morning accompanied their first curious examination of the Ducal Palace, ‘ the shining ferri of the gondolas curtseying down and up against the wharf wall, and the gondoliers standing looking on at us. The wet draught sweeps through the colonnade by Miinster’s shop, not a soul being within it but Munster, whose face brightens at sight of us like that of a man on a desert island. . . . The dumb boy who showed us the way to the Rialto has haunted us silently ever since.

‘The Hall of the Great Council is saturated with Doge-domry. The faces of the Doges pictured on the frieze float out into the air of the room in front of me. “We know nothing of you”, say these spectres. “Who may you be, pray?” The draught brushing past seems like inquiring touches by their cold hands, feeling, feeling like blind people what you are. Yes: here to this visionary place I solidly bring in my person Dorchester and Wessex life; and they may well ask why do I do it. . . . Yet there is a connection. The bell of the Campanile of S. Marco strikes the hour, and its sound has exactly that tin-tray timbre given out by the bells of Longpuddle and Weatherbury, showing that they are of precisely the same-proportioned alloy.’

Hardy had been, for many reasons, keen to see St. Mark’s; and he formed his own opinion on it:

‘Well. There is surely some conventional ecstasy, exaggeration,

— shall I say humbug? — in what Ruskin writes about this, if I remember (though I have not read him lately), when the church is looked at as a whole. One architectural defect nothing can get over — its squatness as seen from the natural point of view — the glassy marble pavement of the Grand Piazza. Second, its weak, flexuous, constructional lines. Then, the fantastic Oriental character of its Lr&ails makes it barbaric in its general impression, in spite of their eat beauty.

air ‘ Mosaics, mosaics, mosaics, gilding, gilding, everywhere inside and out. The domes like inverted china-bowls within — much gilt also.

‘This being said, see what good things are left to say — of its art, of its history! That floor, of every colour and rich device, is worn into undulations by the infinite multitudes of feet that have trodden it, and what feet there have been among the rest!

‘A commonplace man stoops in a dark corner where he strikes a common match, and shows us — what — a lost article? — a purse, pipe, or tobacco-pouch? no; shows us — drags from the depths of time as by a miracle — wonderful diaphanous alabaster pillars that were once in Solomon’s temple.’

On Venice generally he makes the following desultory remarks: ‘When it rains in Italy it makes one shrink and shiver; it is so far more serious a matter than in England. We have our stern gray Stone and brick walls, and weathered copings, and buttress-slopes, to fend such. But here there are exposed to the decaying rain marbles, and frescoes, and tesserae, and gildings, and endless things — driving one to implore mentally that all these treasures may be put under a glass case!’

When the weather was finer:

‘Venice is composed of blue and sunlight. Hence I incline, after all, to “sun-girt” rather than “sea-girt”, which I once upheld.’ [In Shelley’s poem,’ Many a Green Isle needs must be.’]

‘Venice requires heat to complete the picture of her. Heat is an artistic part of the portrait of all southern towns.’

They were most kindly received and entertained during their brief stay by friends to whom they had introductions. Browning’s friend Mrs. Bronson showed them many things; and in respect of an evening party given for them by Mrs. Daniel Curtis at the Palazzo Barbarigo, it could not be said that ‘silent rows the songless gondolier’, several boats lit,by lanterns pausing in front of the open windows on the Grand Cinal while their rowers and the singers they brought serenaded the guests within. But alas, it was true that ‘Tasso’s echoes were no more’, the music being that of the latest popular song of the date:

‘Fu-ni-cu-li, fu-ni-cu-la, Fu-ni-cu-li-cu-la!’

However, the scene was picturesque, Hardy used to say — the dark shapes of the gondoliers creeping near to them silently, like c~to or other nocturnal animals, the gleam of a ferro here and there: thy. the lanterns suddenly lighting up over the heads of the singend throwing diffused light on their faces and forms; a sky as of black velvet stretching above with its star points, as the notes flapped back from the dilapidated palaces behind with a hollow and almost sepulchral echo, as if from a vault.

Quoting Byron brings to the mind a regret which Hardy sometimes expressed, that though he possibly encountered some old native man or woman of fourscore or over who could remember Byron’s residence at the Spinelli and Mocenigo palaces, he never questioned any likely one among them on the point, though once in especial he stood on the Riva degli Schiavoni beside such an aged personage whose appearance made him feel her to be an instance of such recollection.

He was curious to know if any descendants of the powerful Doges were left in decayed modern Venice. Mr. Curtis told him that there were some in Venetian society still — poor, but proud, though not offensively so. The majority were extinct, their palaces being ruinous. Going on to Mrs. Bronson’s immediately afterwards,

the Contessa Mcalled. She was a great beauty, having the well-

defined hues and contours of foreigners in the south; and she turned out to be one of the very descendants Hardy had inquired about. When asked afterwards how she was dressed, he said in a green velvet jacket with fluffy tags, a grey hat and feathers, a white veil with seed pearls, and a light figured skirt of a yellowish colour. She had a charming manner, her mind flying from one subject to another like a child’s as she spoke her pretty attempts at English. ‘But I li — eek moch to do it!’ . . . ‘Si, si!’ ... ‘Oh noh, noh!’

However, Hardy was not altogether listening, he afterwards recalled. This correct, modest, modern lady, the friend of his English and American acquaintance in Venice, and now his own, was to him primarily the symbol and relic of the bygone ancient families; and the chief effect, he said, of her good looks and pretty voice on him was to carry him at one spring back to those behind the centuries, who here took their pleasure when the sea was warm in May, Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to midday, When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow. . . .

It is not known whether the Italian Contessa in A Group of Noble Dames was suggested by her; but there are resemblances.

Then they left Venice. ‘The Riva degli Schiavoni is interested along its whole length in our departure, just as nautical people at ports always are, and as we left the station we could see the tops of the Alps floating in the sky above the fog.’ They had been unable to follow Ruskin’s excellent advice to approach Venice by water, but they had seen it from the water a good deal while there.

‘The Cathedral, Milan. Yes, perhaps it is architectural filigree: and yet I admire it. The vaulting of the interior is infinite quadrilles in carved-work. A momentary vexation comes when I am reminded that it is not real — even a disgust. And yet I admire. The sense of space alone demands admiration, being beyond that expressed anywhere except at St. Peter’s.’

The cheerful scenes of life and gaiety here after the poetical decay of Venice came as the greatest possible contrast, and a not unwelcome change. Here Hardy’s mind reverted to Napoleon, particularly when he was sitting in the sun with his wife on the roof of the Cathedral, and regarding the city in vistas between the flying buttresses. It was while here on the roof, he thought in after years, though he was not quite sure, that he conceived the Milan Cathedral scene in The Dynasts.

Hardy had lately been obsessed by an old French tune of his father’s, ‘The Bridge of Lodi’, owing to his having drawn near the spot of that famous Napoleonic struggle; and at a large music-shop in the Gallery of Victor Emmanuel he inquired about it; as may be expected, his whimsical questioning met with no success. He felt it could meet with none, and yet went on with his search. At dinner at the Grand Hotel de Milan that evening, where the Hardys had put up, they became friendly with a young Scotch officer of Foot returning from India, and Hardy told him about Lodi, and how he could not get the old tune.

‘The Bridge of Lodi?’ said the Scotchman (apparently a sort of Farfrae). ‘Ay, but I’ve never heard of it!’

‘But you’ve heard of the battle, anyhow?’ says the astonished Hardy.

‘Nay, and I never have whatever!’ says the young soldier.

Hardy then proceeded to describe the conflict, and by degrees his companion rose to an enthusiasm for Lodi as great as Hardy’s own. When the latter said he would like to go and see the spot, his friend cried ‘And I’ll go too!’

The next morning they started and passing through levels of fat meads and blooming fruit-trees, reached the little town of their quest, and more especially the historic bridge itself — much changed, but at any rate sufficiently well denoting the scene of Napoleon’s exploit in the earlier and better days of his career. Over the quiet flowing of the Adda the two re-enacted the fight, and the ‘Little Corporal’s’ dramatic victory over the Austrians.

The pleasant jingle in Poems of the Past and the Present named after the bridge, and written some time after the excursion to the scene, fully enough describes the visit, but the young Scotch lieutenant from India is not mentioned, though his zest by this time had grown more than equal to Hardy’s — the latter’s becoming somewhat damped at finding that the most persevering inquiries at Lodi failed to elicit any tradition of the event, and the furthest search to furnish any photograph of the town and river.

They returned to England by way of Como and the St. Gothard, one of the remarks Hardy makes on the former place being on the vying of’the young greens with the old greens, the greens of yesterday and the greens of yesteryear’. It was too early in the year for Lucerne, and they stayed there only a day. Passing through Paris, they went to see the Crown jewels that chanced just then to be on exhibition, previous to their sale.




1887-1888: Aet. 47-48

Reaching London in April 1887, Hardy attended the annual dinner of the Royal Academy. He remarks thereon:

‘The watching presence of so many portraits gives a distinct character to this dinner. ... In speaking, the Duke of Cambridge could not decide whether he had ended his speech or not, and so tagged and tagged on a bit more, and a bit more, till the sentences were like acrobats hanging down from a trapeze. Lord Salisbury’s satire was rather too serious for after-dinner. Huxley began well but ended disastrously; the Archbishop was dreary; Morley tried to look a regular dining-out man-of-the-world, but really looked what he is by nature, the student. Everybody afterwards walked about, the Prince of Wales included, remaining till 12. I spoke to a good many; was apparently unknown to a good many more I knew. At these times men do not want to talk to their equals, but to their superiors.’

On the Sunday after, the Hardys again met Browning at Mrs. Procter’s, and being full of Italy, Hardy alluded to ‘ The Statue and the Bust’ (which he often thought one of the finest of Browning’s poems); and observed that, looking at ‘the empty shrine’ opposite the figure of Ferdinand in the Piazza dell’ Annunziata, he had wondered where the bust had gone to, and had been informed by an officious waiter standing at a neighbouring door that he remembered seeing it in its place; after which he gave further interesting details about it, for which information he was gratefully rewarded. Browning smiled and said, ‘ I invented it.’

Shortly afterwards they settled till the end of July at a house in Campden-Hill Road.

Speaking of this date Hardy said that in looking for rooms to stay at for the season he called at a house-agent’s as usual, where, not seeing the man at the desk who had been there a day or two before, and who knew his wants in flats and apartments, he inquired for the man and was told he was out. Saying he would call again in an hour, Hardy left. On coming back he was told he was still out. He called a day or two afterwards, and the answer then was that the clerk he wanted was away.

‘But you said yesterday he was only out,’ exclaimed Hardy. His informant looked round him as if not wishing to be overheard, and replied:

‘Well, strictly he is not out, but in.’

‘Why didn’t you say so?’

‘Because you can’t speak to him. He’s dead and buried.’

‘May 16. Met Lowell at Lady Carnarvon’s.’

‘May 29. Instance of a wrong (i.e. selfish) philosophy in poetry:

‘Thrice happy he who on the sunless side

Of a romantic mountain. . . .

Sits coolly calm; while all the world without,

Unsatisfied and sick, tosses at noon.


‘June 2. The forty-seventh birthday of Thomas the Unworthy.’

‘June 8. Met at a dinner at the Savile Club: Goschen, Chancellor of the Exchequer; Lord Lytton, A. J. Balfour, and others.’

‘June 9. At dinner at (Juliet) Lady Pollock’s. Sir F. told Emma that he had danced in the same quadrille with a gentleman who had danced with Marie Antoinette.

‘Sir Patrick Colquhoun said that Lord Strath(illegible) told him he was once dining with Rogers when Sir Philip Francis was present. The conversation turned on “Junius”. Rogers said he would ask Sir Philip point-blank if he really were the man, so going to him he said “Sir Philip, I want to ask you a question”. Sir P. “ At your peril, Sir!” Rogers retreated saying “He’s not only Junius, but Junius BrutusV’

‘He also told us that Lord Sonce related to him how George III. met him on Richmond Hill, and said to him: “Eton boy, what are you doing here?”“Taking a walk, Sir.”“What form are you in?”“The sixth.”“Then you have that which I

couldn’t give you.”(Characteristic.)’

‘Sunday. To Mrs. Procter’s. Browning there. He was sleepy. In telling a story would break off, forgetting what he was going to say.’

On the 21 st was Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, and Hardy took his wife to see the procession from the Savile Club in Piccadilly. ‘The Queen was very jolly-looking. The general opinion is that there will certainly never be another jubilee in England; anyhow, probably never such a gathering of royal personages again.’

‘25. At a concert at Prince’s Hall I saw Souls outside Bodies.’

‘26. We were at Mrs. Procter’s when Browning came in as usual. He seemed galled at not having been invited to the Abbey (Jubilee) ceremony. He says that so far from receiving (as stated in the Pall Mall) an invitation even so late as twenty-four hours before, he received absolutely no invitation from the Lord Chamberlain (Lord Lathom) at all. The Dean offered him one of his own family tickets, but B. did not care to go on such terms, so went off to Oxford to stay with Jowett. People who were present say there were crowds of Court-servants and other nobodies there. An eminent actor had 25 tickets sent him . . . Millais, Huxley, Arnold, Spencer, etc., had none. Altogether Literature, Art, and Science had been unmistake - ably snubbed, and they should turn republican forthwith.’ An interesting comment on the reign of Queen Victoria!

The remainder of the London season in the brilliant Jubilee-year was passed by the Hardys gaily enough. At some houses the scene was made very radiant by the presence of so many Indian princes in their jewelled robes. At a certain reception Hardy was rather struck by one of the Indian dignitaries (who seems to have been the Raja of Kapurthala); remarking of him:

‘In his mass of jewels and white turban and tunic he stood and sat apart amid the babble and gaiety, evidently feeling himself alone, and having too much character to pretend to belong to and throw himself into a thoughtless world of chit-chat and pleasure which he understood nothing of.’

‘June 30. Talked to Matthew Arnold at the Royal Academy Soiree. Also to Lang, du Maurier, Thornycrofts, Mrs. Jeune, etc.

‘With E. to lunch at Lady Stanley’s (of Alderley). Met there Lord Halifax, Lady Airlie, Hon. Maude Stanley, her brother Mon - signor Stanley, and others. An exciting family dispute supervened, in which they took no notice of us guests at all.’

But Hardy does not comment much on these society-gatherings, his thoughts running upon other subjects, as is shown by the following memorandum made on the same day as the above. (It must always be borne in mind that these memoranda on people and things were made by him only as personal opinions for private consideration, which he meant to destroy, and not for publication; an issue which has come about by his having been asked when old if he would object to their being printed, as there was no harm in them, and his saying passively that he did not mind.)

‘July 14. It is the on-going — i.e. the “becoming” — of the world that produces its sadness. If the world stood still at a felicitous moment there would be no sadness in it. The sun and the moon standing still on Ajalon was not a catastrophe for Israel, but a type of Paradise.’

In August he was back again at Max Gate, and there remarks on the difference between children who grow up in solitary country places and those who grow up in towns — the former being imaginative, dreamy, and credulous of vague mysteries; giving as the reason that ‘The Unknown comes within so short a radius from themselves by comparison with the city-bred’.

At the end of the month Mr. Edmund Gosse wrote to inform Hardy among other things that R. L. Stevenson was off to Colorado as a last chance, adding in the course of a humorous letter: ‘I hope your spirits have been pretty good this summer. I have been scarcely fit for human society, I have been so deep in the dumps. I wonder whether climate has anything to do with it? It is the proper thing nowadays to attribute to physical causes all the phenomena which people used to call spiritual. But I am not sure. One may be dyspeptic and yet perfectly cheerful, and one may be quite well and yet no fit company for a churchyard worm. For the last week I should not have ventured to say unto a flea, “Thou art my sister”.’

‘September 3. Mother tells me of a woman she knew named Nanny Priddle, who when she married would never be called by her husband’s name “because she was too proud”, she said; and to the end of their lives the couple were spoken of as “Nanny Priddle and John Cogan”.’

‘September 25. My grandmother used to say that when sitting at home at Bockhampton she had heard the tranter “beat out the tune” on the floor with his feet when dancing at a party in his own house, which was a hundred yards or more away from hers.’

‘October 2. Looked at the thorn-bushes by Rushy Pond [on an exposed spot of the heath]. In their wrath with the gales their forms resemble men’s in like mood.

‘A variant of the superstitions attached to pigeon’s hearts is that, when the counteracting process is going on, the person who has bewitched the other enters. In the case of a woman in a village near here, who was working the spell at midnight, a neighbour knocked at the door and said; “Do ye come in and see my little maid. She is so ill that I don’t like to bide with her alone!”‘

‘October 7. During the funeral of Henry Smith, the rector’s son at West Stafford, the cows looked mournfully over the churchyard wall from the adjoining barton at the grave, resting their clammy chins on the coping; and at the end clattered their horns in a farewell volley.’

Another outline scheme for The Dynasts was shaped in November, in which Napoleon was represented as haunted by an Evil Genius or Familiar, whose existence he has to confess to his wives. This was abandoned, and another tried in which Napoleon by means of necromancy becomes possessed of an insight, enabling him to see the thoughts of opposing generals. This does not seem to have come to anything either.

But in December he quotes from Addison:

‘In the description of Paradise the poet [Milton] has observed Aristotle’s rule of lavishing all the ornaments of diction on the weak, inactive parts of the fable.’ And although Hardy did not slavishly adopt this rule in The Dynasts, it is apparent that he had it in mind in concentrating the ‘ornaments of diction’ in particular places, thus following Coleridge in holding that a long poem should not attempt to be poetical all through.

‘December 11. Those who invent vices indulge in them with more judgment and restraint than those who imitate vices invented by others.’

‘December 31. A silent New Year’s Eve — no bell, or band, or voice.

‘The year has been a fairly friendly one to me. It showed me the south of France — Italy, above all Rome — and it brought me back unharmed and much illuminated. It has given me some new acquaintances, too, and enabled me to hold my own in fiction, whatever that may be worth, by the completion of The Woodlanders.

‘Books read or pieces looked at this year:

‘Milton, Dante, Calderon, Goethe.

‘Homer, Virgil, Moltere, Scott.

‘The Cid, Nibelungen, Crusoe, Don Quixote.

‘Aristophanes, Theocritus, Boccaccio.

‘Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Lycidas.

‘Malory, Vicar of Wakefield, Ode to West Wind, Ode to Grecian Urn.

‘Christabel, Wye above Tintern.

‘Chapman’s Iliad, Lord Derby’s ditto, Worsley’s Odyssey.’

‘January 2. 1888. Different purposes, different men. Those in the city for money-making are not the same men as they were when at home the previous evening. Nor are these the same as they were when lying awake in the small hours.’

‘January 5. Be rather curious than anxious about your own career; for whatever result may accrue to its intellectual and social value, it will make little difference to your personal well-being. A naturalist’s interest in the hatching of a queer egg or germ is the utmost introspective consideration you should allow yourself.’

‘January 7. On New Year’s Eve and day I sent off five copies of the magazine containing a story of mine, and three letters — all eight to friends by way of New Year’s greeting and good wishes. Not a single reply. Mem.: Never send New Year’s letters, etc., again.’

[Two were dying: one ultimately replied. The story was either ‘The Withered Arm’, in Blackwood, or ‘The Waiting Supper’ in Murray’s Magaiine, both of which appeared about this time.]

‘Apprehension is a great element in imagination. It is a semi - madness, which sees enemies, etc., in inanimate objects.’

‘January 14. A “sensation-novel” is possible in which the sensationalism is not casualty, but evolution; not physical but psychical. . . . The difference between the latter kind of novel and the novel of physical sensationalism — i.e. personal adventure, etc., — is this: that whereas in the physical the adventure itself is the subject of interest, the psychical results being passed over as commonplace, in the psychical the casualty or adventure is held to be of no intrinsic interest, but the effect upon the faculties is the important matter to be depicted.’

‘January 24. I find that my politics really are neither Tory nor Radical. I may be called an Intrinsicalist. I am against privilege derived from accident of any kind, and am therefore equally opposed to aristocratic privilege and democratic privilege. (By the latter I mean the arrogant assumption that the only labour is hand-labour — a worse arrogance than that of the aristocrat, — the taxing of the worthy to help those masses of the population who will not help themselves when they might, etc.) Opportunity should be equal for all, but those who will not avail themselves of it should be cared for merely — not be a burden to, nor the rulers over, those who do avail themselves thereof.’

‘February 5. Heard a story of a farmer who was “over-looked” [malignly affected] by himself. He used to go and examine his stock every morning before breakfast with anxious scrutiny. The animals pined away. He went to a conjuror or white witch, who told him he had no enemy; that the evil was of his own causing, the eye of a fasting man being very blasting: that he should eat a “dew-bit” before going to survey any possession about which he had hopes.’ In the latter part of this month there arrived the following: ‘The Rev. Dr. A. B. Grosart ventures to address Mr. Hardy on a problem that is of life and death; personally, and in relation to young eager intellects for whom he is responsible. . . . Dr. Grosart finds abundant evidence that the facts and mysteries-of nature and human nature have come urgently before Mr. Hardy’s penetrative brain.’

He enumerated some of the horrors of human and animal life, particularly parasitic, and added:

‘The problem is how to reconcile these with the absolute goodness and non-limitation of God.’

Hardy replied: ‘ Mr. Hardy regrets that he is unable to suggest any hypothesis which would reconcile the existence of such evils as Dr. Grosart describes with the idea of omnipotent goodness. Perhaps Dr. Grosart might be helped to a provisional view of the universe by the recently published Life of Darwin, and the works of Herbert Spencer and other agnostics.’

He met Leslie Stephen shortly after, and Stephen told him that he too had received a similar letter from Grosart; to which he had replied that as the reverend doctor was a professor of theology, and he himself only a layman, he should have thought it was the doctor’s business to explain the difficulty to his correspondent, and not bis to explain it to the doctor.

Two or three days later the Bishop (Wordsworth) of Salisbury wrote to Hardy for his views on the migration of the peasantry, ‘which is of considerable social importance and has a very distinct bearing on the work of the Church’, adding that Hardy with his very accurate knowledge of the custom was well-qualified to be the historian of its causes and its results. ‘Are they good or bad morally and in respect of religion, respectability, etc., to men, women, and children.’ Hardy’s answer cannot be discovered, but he is known to have held that these modern migrations are fatal to local traditions, and to cottage horticulture. Labourers formerly, knowing they were permanent residents, would plant apple-trees and fruit-bushes with zealous care, to profit from them: but now they scarce ever plant one, knowing they will be finding a home elsewhere in a year or two; or if they do happen to plant any, digging them up and selling them before leaving! Hence the lack of picturesqueness in modern labourers’ dwellings.

‘March 1. Youthful recollections of four village beauties:

‘1. Elizabeth B, and her red hair. [She seems to appear in the poem called “Lizbie Browne”, and was a gamekeeper’s daughter, a year or two older than Hardy himself.]

‘2. Emily D, and her mere prettiness.

‘3. Rachel H, and her rich colour, and vanity, and frailty,

and clever artificial dimple-making. [She is probably in some respects the original of Arabella in Jude the Obscure.]

‘4. Alice Pand her mass of flaxen curls.’

‘March. At the Temperance Hotel. The people who stay here appear to include religious enthusiasts of all sorts. They talk the old faiths with such new fervours and original aspects that such faiths seem again arresting. They open fresh views of Christianity by turning it in reverse positions, as Gerome the painter did by painting the shadow of the Crucifixion instead of the Crucifixion itself as former painters had done.

‘In the street outside I heard a man coaxing money from a prostitute in slang language, his arm round her waist. The outside was a commentary on the inside.’

‘March 9. British Museum Reading Room. Souls are gliding about here in a sort of dream — screened somewhat by their bodies, but imaginable behind them. Dissolution is gnawing at them all, slightly hampered by renovations. In the great circle of the library Time is looking into Space. Coughs are floating in the same great vault, mixing with the rustle of book-leaves risen from the dead, and the touches of footsteps on the floor.’

‘March 28. On returning to London after an absence I find the people of my acquaintance abraded, their hair disappearing, also their flesh, by degrees.

‘People who to one’s-self are transient singularities are to themselves the permanent condition, the inevitable, the normal, the rest of mankind being to them the singularity. Think, that those (to us) strange transitory phenomena, their personalities, are with them always, at their going to bed, at their uprising!

‘Footsteps, cabs, etc., are continually passing our lodgings. And every echo, pit-pat, and rumble that makes up the general noise has behind it a motive, a prepossession, a hope, a fear, a fixed thought forward; perhaps more — a joy, a sorrow, a love, a revenge.

‘London appears not to see itself. Each individual is conscious of himself, but nobody conscious of themselves collectively, except perhaps some poor gaper who stares round with a half-idiotic aspect.

‘There is no consciousness here of where anything comes from or goes to — only that it is present.

‘In the City. The fiendish precision or mechanism of town-life is what makes it so intolerable to the sick and infirm. Like an acrobat performing on a succession of swinging trapezes, as long as you are at particular points at precise instants, everything glides as if afloat; but if you are not up to time’

‘April 16. News of Matthew Arnold’s death, which occurred yesterday. . . . The Times speaks quite truly of his “enthusiasm for the nobler and detestation of the meaner elements in humanity”.’

‘April 19. Scenes in ordinary life that are insipid at 20 become interesting at 30, and tragic at 40.’

‘April 21. Dr. Quain told me some curious medical stories when we were dining at Mrs. Jeune’s. He said it was a mistake for anyone to have so many doctors as the German Emperor has, because neither feels responsible. Gave an account of Queen Adelaide, who died through her physicians’ ignorance of her malady, one of them, Dr. Chambers, remarking, when asked why he did not investigate her disorder, “Damn it, I wasn’t going to pull about the Queen” — she being such a prude that she would never have forgiven him for making an examination that, as it proved, would have saved her life.

‘Mary Jeune says that when she tries to convey some sort of moral or religious teaching to the East-end poor, so as to change their views from wrong to right, it ends by their convincing her that their view is the right one — not by her convincing them.’

‘April 23. To Alma-Tadema’s musical afternoon. Heckmann Quartett. The architecture of his house is incomplete without sunlight and warmth. Hence the dripping wintry afternoon without mocked his marble basin and brass steps and quilted blinds and silver apse.’

‘April 26. Thought in bed last night that Byron’s Childe Harold will live in the history of English poetry not so much because of the beauty of parts of it, which is great, but because of its good fortune in being an accretion of descriptive poems by the most fascinating personality in the world — for the English — not a common plebeian, but a romantically wicked noble lord. It affects even Arnold’s judgment.’

‘April 28. A short story of a young man — “who could not go to Oxford” — His struggles and ultimate failure. Suicide. [Probably the germ of Jude the Obscure.] There is something [in this] the world ought to be shown, and I am the one to show it to them — though I was not altogether hindered going, at least to Cambridge, and could have gone up easily at five-and-twenty.

‘In Regent Street, which commemorates the Prince Regent. It is in the fitness of things that The Promenade of Prostitutes should be here. One can imagine his shade stalking up and down every night, smiling approvingly.’

‘May 13. Lord Houghton tells me to-day at lunch at Lady Catherine Gaskell’s of a young lady who gave a full description of a ball to her neighbour during the Chapel Royal service by calling out at each response in the Litany as many details as she could get in. Also of Lordwho saves all his old tooth-brushes affectionately.

‘The Gaskells said that Lord and Lady Lymington and themselves went to the city in an omnibus, and one of them nearly sat on an Irishwoman’s baby. G. apologized, when she exclaimed, “Och, ‘twas not you: ‘twas the ugly one!” (pointing to Lord L.).

‘Lady C. says that the central position of St. James’s Square (where their house is) enables her to see so many more people. When she first comes to Town she feels a perfect lump the first fortnight — she knows nothing of the new phrases, and does not understand the social telegraphy and allusions.’

May 28. They went to Paris via London and Calais: and stayed in the Rue du Commandant Riviere several weeks, noticing on their arrival as they always did ‘the sour smell of a foreign city’.

June 4 and 7. At the Salon. ‘Was arrested by the sensational picture called “The Death of Jezebel” by Gabriel Guays, a horrible tragedy, and justly so, telling its story in a flash.’

‘June 10. To Longchamps and the Grand Prix de Paris. Roar from the course as I got near. It was Pandemonium: not a blade of grass: half overshoe in dust: the ground covered with halves of white, yellow, and blue tickets: bookmakers with staring brass - lettered names and addresses, in the very exuberance of honesty. The starter spoke to the jockeys entirely in English, and most of the cursing and swearing was done in English likewise, and done well. The horses passed in a volley, so close together that it seemed they must be striking each other. Excitement. Cries of “ Vive la France!” (a French horse having won).’

‘June 11. To the Embassy. Bon Marche with Em. Walked to l’Etoile in twilight. The enormous arch stood up to its knees in lamplight, dark above against the deep blue of the upper sky. Went under and read some names of victories which were never won.’

‘June 12. To see the tombs of St. Denis with E. A lantern at the slit on one side of the vault shows the coffins to us at the opposite slit.’

‘June 13. Exhibition of Victor Hugo’s manuscripts and drawings. Thence to one of the Correctional Courts: heard two or three trivial cases. Afterwards to the Salle des Conferences.’

‘June 14. Sunny morning. View from l’Etoile. Fresh, after rain; air clear. Could see distinctly far away along the Avenue de la Grande Armee — down into the hollow and on to rising ground beyond, where the road tapers to an obelisk standing there. Also could see far along the Avenue Wagram. In the afternoon I went to the Archives Nationales. Found them much more interesting than I had expected. As it was not a public day the attendant showed me round alone, which, with the gloomy wet afternoon, made the relics more solemn; so that, mentally, I seemed close to those keys from the Bastille, those letters of the Kings of France, those Edicts, and those corridors of white boxes, each containing one year’s shady documents of a past monarchy.’

Next day, coming out of the Bourse, he learnt of the death of the Emperor of Germany.

On returning to London Hardy had a rheumatic attack which kept him in bed two or three days, after which they entered lodgings at Upper Phillimore Place, Kensington, where they remained till the third week in July. Walter Pater sometimes called on them from over the way, and told them a story of George III anent the row of houses they were living in. These, as is well known, have their fronts ornamented with the stone festooning of their date, and the King would exclaim when returning from Weymouth: ‘Ah, there are the dish-clouts. Now I shall soon be home!’ Acquaintance was renewed with various friends, among them, after a dozen years of silence, Mrs. Ritchie (Miss Thackeray), later Lady Ritchie. ‘Talked of the value of life, and its interest. She admits that her interest in the future lies largely in the fact that she has children, and says that when she calls on L. Stephen and his wife she feeIs like a ghost, who arouses sad feelings in the person visited.’

As to the above remark on the value of life> Hardy writes whimsi cally a day or two later:

‘I have attempted many modes [of finding it] Forif there is any way of getting a melancholy sat’faction ouf of Ufe h Hes in dying, so to speak, before one is out of the flesh fa whkh j mean putting on the manners of ghosts, wandering in their haunts, and taking their views of surrounding things. To think of life as passing away is a sadness; to think of it as past is at least tolerable. Hence even when I enter into a room to pay a simple morning call I have unconsciously the habit of regarding the scene as if I were a spectre not solid enough to influence my environment; only fit to behold and say, as another spectre said: “ Peace be unto you!”‘

‘July 3. Called on [Eveline] Lady Portsmouth. Found her alone and stayed to tea. Looked more like a model countess than ever I have seen her do before, her black brocaded silk fitting her well and suiting her eminently. She is not one of those marble people who can be depended upon for their appearance at a particular moment, but like all mobile characters uncertain as to aspect. She is one of the few, very few, women of her own rank for whom I would make a sacrifice: a woman too of talent, part of whose talent consists in concealing that she has any.’

‘July 5. A letter lies on the red velvet cover of the table; staring up, by reason of the contrast. I cover it over, that it may not hit my eyes so hard.’

‘July 7. One o’clock a.m. I got out of bed, attracted by the never-ending procession [of market-carts to Covent Garden] as seen from our bedroom windows, Phillimore Place. Chains rattle, and each cart cracks under its weighty pyramid of vegetables.’

‘July 8. A service at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington. The red plumes and ribbon in two stylish girls’ hats in the foreground match the red robes of the persons round Christ on the Cross in the east window. The pale crucified figure rises up from a parterre of London bonnets and artificial hair-coils, as viewed from the back where I am. The sky over Jerusalem seems to have some connection with the corn-flowers in a fashionable hat that bobs about in front of the city of David. . . . When the congregation rises there is a rustling of silks like that of the Devils’ wings in Paradise Lost. Every woman then, even if she had forgotten it before, has a single thought to the folds of her clothes. They pray in the litany as if under enchantment. Their real life is spinning on beneath this apparent one of calm, like the District Railway-trains underground just by — throbbing, rushing, hot, concerned with next week, last week. . . . Could these true scenes in which this congregation is living be brought into church bodily with the personages, there would be a churchful of jostling phantasmagorias crowded like a heap of soap bubbles, infinitely intersecting, but each seeing only his own. That bald-headed man is surrounded by the interior of the Stock Exchange; that girl by the jeweller’s shop in which she purchased yesterday. Through this bizarre world of thought circulates the recitative of the parson — a thin solitary note without cadence or change of intensity — and getting lost like a bee in the clerestory.’

‘July 9. To “The Taming of the Shrew”. A spirited unconventional performance, revitalising an old subject. The brutal mediaeval view of the sex which animates the comedy does not bore us by its obsoleteness, the Shrew of Miss Ada Rehan being such a real shrew. Her attitude of sad, impotent resignation, when her husband wears out her endurance, in which she stands motionless and almost unconscious of what is going on around her, was well done. At first she hears the cracks of the whip with indifference; at length she begins to shrink at the sound of them, and when he literally whips the domestics out of the room she hides away. At first not looking at him in his tantrums, she gets to steal glances at him, with an awestruck arrested attention. ‘ The scene in which the sun-and-moon argument comes in contained the best of acting. Drew’s aspect of inner humorous opinion, lively eye, and made-up mind, is eminently suited to the husband’s character.

‘Reading H. James’s Reverberator. After this kind of work one feels inclined to be purposely careless in detail. The great novels of the future will certainly not concern themselves with the minutiae of manners. . . . James’s subjects are those one could be interested in at moments when there is nothing larger to think of.’

‘July 11. At the Savile. [Sir] Herbert Stephen declares that he met Sr [another member of the Club] in Piccadilly, a few minutes ago, going away from the direction of the club house door, and that Sr nodded to him; then arriving quickly at the Club he saw Sr seated in the back room. Sr, who is present during the telling, listens to this story of his wraith, and as H. S. repeats it to the other members, becomes quite uncomfortable at the weirdness of it. H. S. adds that he believes Sr is in the back room still, and Sr says he is afraid to go in to himself.’

‘July 13. After being in the street: What was it on the faces of those horses? — Resignation. Their eyes looked at me, haunted me. The absoluteness of their resignation was terrible. When afterwards I heard their tramp as I lay in bed, the ghosts of their eyes came in to me, saying, “Where is your justice, O man and ruler?”

‘Lady Portsmouth told me at a dinner party last night that once she sat between Macaulay and Henry Layard in dining at Lord Lansdowne’s, and whenever one of them had got the ear of the table the other turned to her and talked, to show that the absolute vacuity of his rival’s discourse had to be filled in somehow with any rubbish at hand.’

‘July 14. Was much struck with Gladstone’s appearance at Flinders Petrie’s Egyptian Exhibition. The full curves of his Roman face; and his cochin-china-egg complexion was not at all like his pallor when I last saw him, and there was an utter absence of any expression of senility or mental weakness. — We dined at Walter Pater’s. Met Miss , an Amazon, more, an Atalanta, most, a Faustine. Smokes: handsome girl: cruel small mouth: she’s of the class of interesting women one would be afraid to marry.’

Here follow long lists of books read, or looked into, or intended to be read, during the year.



1888-1889: 4et. 48-49

Returning to Dorchester two days later, he notes down: ‘Thought of the determination to enjoy. We see it in all nature, from the leaf on the tree to the titled lady at the ball. ... It is achieved, of a sort, under superhuman difficulties. Like pent-up water it will find a chink of possibility somewhere. Even the most oppressed of men and animals find it, so that out of a thousand there is hardly one who has not a sun of some sort for his soul.’

‘August 5, 1888. To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poet.’

‘8. The air is close, the sunshine suddenly disappears, and a bad kind of sea-fog comes up, smelling like a laundry or wash-house.’

‘19. Sent a story to H. Quilter, by request, for his Magazine, entitled A Tragedy of Two Ambitions’

‘21. The literary productions of men of rigidly good family and rigidly correct education, mostly treat social conventions and contrivances — the artificial forms of living — as if they were cardinal facts of life.

‘Society consists of Characters and No-characters — nine at least of the latter to one of the former.’

‘September 9. My Father says that Dick Facey used to rivet on the fetters of criminals when they were going off by coach (Facey was journeyman for Clare the smith). He was always sent for secretly, that people might not know and congregate at the gaol entrance. They were carried away at night, a stage-coach being specially ordered. One K. of Troytown, on the London Road, a poacher, who was in the great fray at Westwood Barn near Lulworth Castle about 1825, was brought past his own door thus, on his way to transportation: he called to his wife and family; they heard his shout and ran out to bid him good-bye as he sat in chains. He was never heard of again by them.

‘T. Voss used to take casts of heads of executed convicts. He took those of Preedy and Stone. Dan Pouncy held the heads while it was being done. Voss oiled the faces, and took them in halves, afterwards making casts from the masks. There was a groove where the rope went, and Voss saw a little blood in the case of Stone, where the skin had been broken, — not in Preedy’s.’

‘September 10. Destitution sometimes reaches the point of grandeur in its pathetic grimness: e.g., as shown in the statement of the lodging-house keeper in the Whitechapel murder:

‘“He had seen her in the lodging-house as late as half-past one o’clock or two that morning. He knew her as an unfortunate, and that she generally frequented Stratford for a living. He asked her for her lodging-money, when she said, ‘I have not got it. I am weak and ill, and have been in the infirmary.’ He told her that she knew the rules, whereupon she went out to get some money.” (Times report.)

‘O richest City in the world! “She knew the rules.’“

‘September 15. Visited the old White Horse Inn, Maiden Newton. Mullioned windows, queer old bedrooms. Fireplace in the late Perpendicular style. The landlady tells me that the attic was closed up for many years, and that on opening it they found a suit of clothes, supposed to be those of a man who was murdered.’ [This fine old Tudor inn is now pulled down.]

‘September 30. “The Valley of the Great Dairies” — Froom.

‘“The Valley of the Little Dairies” — Blackmoor.

‘In the afternoon by train to Evershot. Walked to Woolcombe, a property once owned by a — I think the senior — branch of the Hardys. Woolcombe House was to the left of where the dairy now is. On by the lane and path to Bubb-Down. Looking east you see High Stoy and the escarpment below it. The Vale of Blackmoor is almost entirely green, every hedge being studded with trees. On the left you see to an immense distance, including Shaftesbury.

‘The decline and fall of the Hardys much in evidence hereabout. An instance: Becky S.’s mother’s sister married one of the Hardys of this branch, who was considered to have bemeaned himself by the marriage. “All Woolcombe and Froom Quintin belonged to them at one time,” Becky used to say proudly. She might have added Up-Sydling and Toller Welme. This particular couple had an enormous lot of children. I remember when young seeing the man — tall and thin — walking beside a horse and common spring trap, and my mother pointing him out to me and saying he represented what was once the leading branch of the family. So we go down, down, down.’

‘October 7. The besetting sin of modern literature is its insincerity. Half its utterances are qualified, even contradicted, by an aside, and this particularly in morals and religion. When dogma has to be balanced on its feet by such hair-splitting as the late Mr. M. Arnold’s it must be in a very bad way.’

‘October 15-21. Has the tradition that Cerne-Abbas men have no whiskers any foundation in the fact of their being descendants of a family or tribe or clan who have not intermarried with neighbours on account of their isolation? They are said to be hot-tempered people.

‘Stephen B. says that he has “never had the nerve” to be a bearer at a funeral. Now his brother George, who has plenty of nerve, has borne many neighbours to their graves.

‘If you look beneath the surface of any farce you see a tragedy; and, on the contrary, if you blind yourself to the deeper issues of a tragedy you see a farce.

‘My mother says that my [paternal] grandmother told her she was ironing her best muslin gown (then worn by young women at any season) when news came that the Queen of France was beheaded. She put down her iron, and stood still, the event so greatly affecting her mind. She remembered the pattern of the gown so well that she would recognize it in a moment.’ Hardy himself said that one hot and thundery summer in his childhood she remarked to him: ‘ It was like this in the French Revolution, I remember.’

‘December 10. . . . He, she, had blundered; but not as the Prime Cause had blundered. He, she, had sinned; but not as the Prime Cause had sinned. He, she, was ashamed and sorry; but not as the Prime Cause would be ashamed and sorry if it knew.’ (The reference is unexplained.)

Among the letters received by Hardy for the New Year (1889) was one from Mr. Gosse, who wrote thanking him for A Tragedy of Two Ambitions, which he thought one of the most thrilling and most complete stories Hardy had written — ‘I walked under the moral burden of it for the remainder of the day. ... I am truly happy — being an old faded leaf and disembowelled bloater and wet rag myself — to find your genius ever so fresh and springing.’

They were in London the first week of the year, concerning which Hardy remarks:

‘On arriving in London I notice more and more that it (viz - London proper — the central parts) is becoming a vast hotel or caravan, having no connection with Middlesex — whole streets which were not so very long ago mostly of private residences consisting entirely of lodging-houses, and having a slatternly look about them.

‘Called on Lady . She is a slim girl still, and continually tells her age, and speaks practically of “before I was married”. Tells humorously of how she and Lord — her father, who is a nervous man, got to the church too soon, and drove drearily up and down the Thames Embankment till the right time. She has just now the fad of adoring art. When she can no longer endure the ugliness of London she goes down to the National Gallery and sits in front of the great Titian.’

‘January 8. To the City. Omnibus horses, Ludgate Hill. The greasy state of the streets caused constant slipping. The poor creatures struggled and struggled but could not start the omnibus. A man next me said: “It must take all heart and hope out of them! I shall get out.” He did; but the whole remaining selfish twenty-five of us sat on. The horses despairingly got us up the hill at last. I ought to have taken off my hat to him and said: “ Sir, though I was not stirred by your humane impulse I will profit by your good example”; and have followed him. I should like to know that man; but we shall never meet again!’

‘January 9. At the Old Masters, Royal Academy. Turner’s water-colours: each is a landscape plus a man’s soul. . . . What he paints chiefly is light as modified by objects. He first recognizes the impossibility of really reproducing on canvas all that is in a landscape; then gives for that which cannot be reproduced a something else which shall have upon the spectator an approximative effect to that of the real. He said, in his maddest and greatest days: “ What pictorial drug can I dose man with,’ which shall affect his eyes somewhat in the manner of this reality which I cannot carry to him?” — and set to make such strange mixtures as he was tending towards in “Rain, Steam and Speed”, “The Burial of Wilkie”, “Agrippina landing with the ashes of Germanicus”, “Approach to Venice”, “Snowstorm and a Steamboat”, etc. Hence, one may say, Art is the secret of how to produce by a false thing the effect of a true. . . .

‘I am struck by the red glow of Romney’s backgrounds, and his red flesh shades. . . . Watteau paints claws for hands. They are unnatural — hideous sometimes. . . . Then the pictures of Sir Joshua, in which middle-aged people sit out of doors without hats,

on damp stone seats under porticoes, and expose themselves imprudently to draughts and chills, as if they had lost their senses. . . . Besides the above there were also the Holls, and the works of other recent English painters, such as Maclise. . . .

‘How Time begins to lift the veil and show us by degrees the truly great men among these, as distinct from the vaunted and the fashionable. The false glow thrown on them by their generation dies down, and we see them as they are.’

‘January 28. Alfred Parsons, the landscape painter, here. He gave as a reason for living in London and mixing a good deal with people (intellectual I presume) that you can let them do your thinking for you. A practice that will be disastrous to A. P.’s brush, I fear.’

‘February 6. (After reading Plato’s dialogue “Cratylus”): A very good way of looking at things would be to regard everything as having an actual or false name, and an intrinsic or true name, to ascertain which all endeavour should be made. . . . The fact is that nearly all things are falsely, or rather inadequately, named.’

‘February 19. The story of a face which goes through three generations or more, would make a fine novel or poem of the passage of Time. The differences in personality to be ignored.’ [This idea was to some extent carried out in the novel The Well-Beloved, the poem entitled ‘Heredity’, etc.]

‘February 26. In time one might get to regard every object, and every action, as composed, not of this or that material, this or that movement, but of the qualities pleasure and pain in varying proportions.’

‘March 1. In a Botticelli the soul is outside the body, permeating its spectator with its emotions. In a Rubens the flesh is without, and the soul (possibly) within. The very odour of the flesh is distinguishable in the latter.’

‘March 4. A Village story recalled to me yesterday:

‘Mary L., a handsome wench, had come to Bockhampton, leaving a lover at Askerswell, her native parish. William K. fell in love with her at the new place. The old lover, who was a shoemaker, smelling a rat, came anxiously to see her, with a present of a dainty pair of shoes he had made. He met her by chance at the pathway stile, but alas, on the arm of the other lover. In the rage of love the two men fought for her till they were out of breath, she looking on and holding both their hats the while; till William, wiping his face, said: “ Now, Polly, which of we two do you love best? Say it out straight!” She would not state then, but said she would consider (the hussy!). The young man to whom she had been fickle left her indignantly — throwing the shoes at her and her new lover as he went. She never saw or heard of him again, and accepted the other. But she kept the shoes, and was married in them. I knew her well as an old woman.’

‘March 15. What has been written cannot be blotted. Each new style of novel must be the old with added ideas, not an ignoring and avoidance of the old. And so of religion, and a good many other things!’

‘April 5. London. Four million forlorn hopes!’

‘April 7. A woeful fact — that the human race is too extremely developed for its corporeal conditions, the nerves being evolved to an activity abnormal in such an environment. Even the higher animals are in excess in this respect. It may be questioned if Nature, or what we call Nature, so far back as when she crossed the line from invertebrates to vertebrates, did not exceed her mission. This planet does not supply the materials for happiness to higher existences. Other planets may, though one can hardly see how.’

A day or two later brought him a long and interesting letter from J. Addington Symonds at Davos Platz concerning The Return of the Native, which he had just met with and read, and dwelling enthusiastically on ‘its vigour and its freshness and its charm’. The last week in April they went off to London again for a few months, staying at the West Central Hotel till they could find something more permanent, which this year chanced to be two furnished floors in Monmouth Road, Bayswater.

‘May 5. Morning. Sunday. To Bow Church, Cheapside, with Em. The classic architecture, especially now that it has been regilt and painted, makes one feel in Rome. About twenty or thirty people present. When you enter, the curate from the reading-desk and the rector from the chancel aim ost smile a greeting as they look up in their surplices, so glad are they that you have condescended to visit them in their loneliness.

‘That which, socially, is a great tragedy, may be in Nature no alarming circumstance.’

‘May 12. Evening. Sunday. To St. James’s, Westmoreland Street, with Em. Heard Haweis — a small lame figure who could with difficulty climb into the pulpit. His black hair, black beard, hollow cheeks and black gown, made him look like one of the skeletons in the Church of the Capuchins, Rome. The subject of his discourse was Cain and Abel, his first proposition being that Cain had excellent qualities, and was the larger character of the twain,

though Abel might have been the better man in some things. Yet, he reminded us, good people are very irritating sometimes, and the occasion was probably one of agricultural depression like the present, so that Cain said to himself: “ ‘Tis this year as it was last year, and all my labour wasted!” (titter from the congregation). Altogether the effect was comical. But one sympathized with the preacher, he was so weak, and quite in a perspiration when he had finished.’

‘May 20. Called on the Alma-Tademas. Tadema is like a school-boy, with untidy hair, a sturdy inquiring look, and bustling manner. I like this phase of him better than his man-of-the-world phase. He introduced me to M. Taine, a kindly, nicely trimmed old man with a slightly bent head.’

Earlier in the year Hardy had asked one of the Miss Sheridans, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Brinsley Sheridan, Hardy’s neighbours at Frampton Court, Dorset, if she could sing to him ‘How oft, Louisa!’ the once celebrated song in her ancestor’s comic opera ‘The Duenna’. (It was not a woman’s song, by the way.) His literary sense was shocked by her telling him that she had never heard of it, since he himself had sung it as a youth, having in fact been in love with a Louisa himself. Now he was in London he remembered that he had promised it to her, and looked for a copy, but, much to his surprise, to find one seemed beyond his power. At last he called at a second-hand music-shop that used to stand where the Oxford Circus Tube-Station now is, and repeated hopelessly, ‘How oft, Louisa?’ The shop was kept by an old man, who was sitting on an office stool in a rusty dress-suit and very tall hat, and at the sound of the words he threw himself back in his seat, spread his arms like an opera-singer, and sang in a withered voice by way of answer:

How oft, Louisa, hast thou told,

(Nor wilt thou the fond boast disown) Thou would’st not lose Antonio’s love To reign the partner of a throne!

‘Ah, that carries me back to times that will never return!’ he added. ‘Yes; when I was a young man it was my favourite song. As to my having it, why, certainly, it is here somewhere. But I could not find it in a week.’ Hardy left him singing it, promising to return again.

When his shop was pulled down the delightful old man disappeared, and though Hardy searched for him afterwards he never saw him any more.

‘May 29. That girl in the omnibus had one of those faces of marvellous beauty which are seen casually in the streets but never among one’s friends. It was perfect in its softened classicality — a Greek face translated into English. Moreover she was fair, and her hair pale chestnut. Where do these women come from? Who marries them? Who knows them?’

They went to picture-galleries, concerts, French plays, and the usual lunches and dinners during the season; and in June Hardy ran down to Dorchester for a day or two, on which occasion, taking a walk in the meadows, he remarks: ‘ The birds are so passionately happy that they introduce variations into their songs to an outrageous degree — which are not always improvements.’

In London anew: ‘ One difference between the manners of the intellectual middle class and of the nobility is that the latter have more flexibility, almost a dependence on their encompassment, as if they were waiting upon future events; while the former are direct, and energetic, and crude, as if they were manufacturing a future to please them.’

‘July 9. Love lives on propinquity, but dies of contact.’

‘July 14. Sunday. Centenary of the fall of the Bastille. Went to Newton Hall to hear Frederic Harrison lecture on the French Revolution. The audience sang “The Marseillaise”. Very impressive.’

‘July 23. Of the people I have met this summer, the lady whose mouth recalls more fully than any other beauty’s the Elizabethan metaphor “Her lips are roses full of snow” (or is it Lodge’s?) is Mrs. Hamo Thornycroft — whom I talked to at Gosse’s dinner.’

‘July 24. B. Museum:

‘Greek text, etc. Soph. Oed. Tyr. 1365 (“and if there be a woe surpassing woes, it hath become the portion of Oedipus” — Jebb. Cf. Tennyson: “a deeper deep”).’

About this time Hardy was asked by a writer of some experience in adapting novels for the theatre — Mr. J. T. Grein — if he would grant permission for The Woodlanders to be so adapted. In his reply he says:

‘You have probably observed that the ending of the story — hinted rather than stated — is that the heroine is doomed to an unhappy life with an inconstant husband. I could not accentuate this strongly in the book, by reason of the conventions of the libraries, etc. Since the story was written, however, truth to character is not considered quite such a crime in literature as it was formerly; and it is therefore a question for you whether you will accent this ending, or prefer to obscure it.’

It appears that nothing arose out of the dramatization, it becoming obvious that no English manager at this date would venture to defy the formalities to such an extent as was required by the novel, in which some of the situations were approximately of the kind afterwards introduced to English playgoers by translations from Ibsen.

At the end of the month they gave up their rooms in Bayswater and returned to Dorchester; where during August Hardy settled down daily to writing the new story he had conceived, which was Tess of the d’Urbervilles, though it had not as yet been christened. During the month he jots down as a casual thought:

‘When a married woman who has a lover kills her husband, she does not really wish to kill the husband; she wishes to kill the situation. Of course in Clytaemnestra’s case it was not exactly so, since there was the added grievance of Iphigenia, which half-justified her.’

‘September 21. For carrying out that idea of Napoleon, the Empress, Pitt, Fox, etc., I feel continually that I require a larger canvas. ... A spectral tone must be adopted. . . . Royal ghosts. . . . Title: “A Drama of Kings”. [He did not use it, however; preferring The Dynasts.]

‘October 13. Three wooden-legged men used to dance a three - handed reel at Broadmayne, so my father says.’

In November Leslie Stephen wrote concerning a Dorset character for the Dictionary of National Biography, then in full progress under his hands:

‘I only beg that you will not get into the Dictionary yourself. You can avoid it by living a couple of years — hardly a great price to pay for the exemption. But I will not answer for my grandson, who will probably edit a supplement.’

About the same time Hardy answered some questions by Mr. Gosse:

‘“Oak-apple day” is exotic; “sic-sac day” or “shic-sac day”, being what the peasantry call it.

‘“Ich.” This and kindred words, e.g. — “Ich woll”, “er woll”, etc., are still used by old people in N.W. Dorset and Somerset (vide Gammer Oliver’s conversation in The Woodlanders, which is an attempted reproduction). I heard “Ich” only last Sunday; but it is dying rapidly.’

However, the business immediately in hand was the new story Tess of the d’Urbervilles, for the serial use of which Hardy had three requests, if not more, on his list; and in October as much of it as was written was offered to the first who had asked for it, the editor of Murray’s Magaiine. It was declined and returned to him in the middle of November virtually on the score of its improper explicitness. It was at once sent on to the second, the editor of Macmillan’s Magaiine, and on the 25 th was declined by him for practically the same reason. Hardy would now have much preferred to finish the story and bring it out in volume form only, but there were reasons why he could not afford to do this; and he adopted a plan till then, it is believed, unprecedented in the annals of fiction. This was not to offer the novel intact to the third editor on his list (his experience with the first two editors having taught him that it would be useless to send it to the third as it stood), but to send it up with some chapters or parts of chapters cut out, and instead of destroying these to publish them, or much of them, elsewhere, if practicable, as episodic adventures of anonymous personages (which in fact was done, with the omission of a few paragraphs); till they could be put back in their places at the printing of the whole in volume form. In addition several passages were modified. Hardy carried out this unceremonious concession to conventionality with cynical amusement, knowing the novel was moral enough and to spare. But the work was sheer drudgery, the modified passages having to be written in coloured ink, that the originals might be easily restored, and he frequently asserted that it would have been almost easier for him to write a new story altogether. Hence the labour brought no profit. He resolved to get away from the supply of family fiction to magazines as soon as he conveniently could do so.

However, the treatment was a complete success, and the mutilated novel was accepted by the editor of the Graphic, the third editor on Hardy’s list, and an arrangement come to for beginning it in the pages of that paper in July 1891. It may be mentioned that no complaint of impropriety in its cut-down form was made by readers, except by one gentleman with a family of daughters, who thought the bloodstain on the ceiling indecent — Hardy could never understand why.

‘December 1. It was the custom at Stinsford down to 1820 or so to take a corpse to church on the Sunday of the funeral, and let it remain in the nave through the service, after which the burial took place. The people liked the custom, and always tried to keep a corpse till Sunday. The funeral psalms were used for the psalms of the day, and the funeral chapter for the second lesson.’

‘December 13. Read in the papers that Browning died at Venice yesterday.’ He was buried in Westminster Abbey on December 31.

‘“Incidents in the development of a soul! little else is worth study,” — Browning.

‘What the Athenceum says is true, though not all the truth, that intellectual subtlety is the disturbing element in his art.’

Among other poems written about this time was the one called ‘At Middle-Field Gate in February’, describing the field-women of the author’s childhood. On the present writer’s once asking Hardy the names of those he calls the ‘bevy now underground’, he said they were Unity Sargent, Susan Chamberlain, Esther Oliver, Emma Shipton, Anna Barrett, Ann West, Elizabeth Hurden, Eliza Trevis, and others, who had been young women about twenty when he was a child.



1890: Aet. 49 — 50

‘January 5. Looking over old Punches. Am struck with the frequent wrong direction of satire, and of commendation, when seen by the light of later days.’

‘January 29. I have been looking for God 50 years, and I think that if he had existed I should have discovered him. As an external personality, of course — the only true meaning of the word.’

‘March 5. A staid, worn, weak man at the railway station. His back, his legs, his hands, his face, were longing to be out of the world. His brain was not longing to be, because, like the brain of most people, it was the last part of his body to realise a situation.

‘In the train on the way to London. Wrote the first four or six lines of “ Not a line of her writing have I”. It was a curious instance of sympathetic telepathy. The woman whom I was thinking of — a cousin - — was dying at the time, and I quite in ignorance of it. She died six days later. The remainder of the piece was not written till after her death.’

‘March 15. With E. to a crush at the Jeunes’. Met Mrs. T. and her great eyes in a corner of the rooms, as if washed up by the surging crowd. The most beautiful woman present. . . . But these women! If put into rough wrappers ih a turnip-field, where would their beauty be?’

He observes later in respect of such scenes as these: ‘ Society, collectively, has neither seen what any ordinary person can see, read what every ordinary person has read, nor thought what every ordinary person has thought.’


‘Altruism, or The Golden Rule, or whatever “Love your Neighbour as Yourself” may be called, will ultimately be brought about I think by the pain we see in others reacting on ourselves, as if we and they were a part of one body. Mankind, in fact, may be and possibly will be viewed as members of one corporeal frame.

‘Tories will often do by way of exception to their principles more extreme acts of democratism or broad-mindedness than Radicals do by rule — such as help on promising plebeians, tolerate wild beliefs, etc.

‘Art consists in so depicting the common events of life as to bring out the features which illustrate the author’s idiosyncratic mode of regard; making old incidents and things seem as new.’

‘Easter. Sir George Douglas came. Went to Barnes’s grave with him; next day to Portland. Lunched at the Mermaid.

‘In an article on Ibsen in the Fortnightly the writer says that his manner is wrong. That the drama, like the novel, should not be for edification. In this I think the writer errs. It should be so, but the edified should not perceive the edification. Ibsen’s edifying is too obvious.’

‘April 26. View the Prime Cause or Invariable Antecedent as “It” and recount its doings.’ [This was done in The Dynasts.]

In May the Hardys were again resident in London, and went their customary round of picture-viewing, luncheons, calls, dinners, and receptions. At the Academy he reminds himself of old Academy exhibitions, e.g. the years in which there was a rail round Frith’s pictures, and of the curious effect upon an observer of the fashionable crowd — seeming like people moving about under enchantment, or as somnambulists. At an evening service at St. George’s, Hanover Square, ‘everything looks the Modern World: the electric light and old theology seem strange companions; and the sermon was as if addressed to native tribes of primitive simplicity, and not to the Nineteenth-Century English.’ Coming out of church he went into the Criterion for supper, where, first going to the second floor, he stumbled into a room whence proceeded ‘ low laughter and murmurs, the light of lamps with pink shades; where the men were all in evening clothes, ringed and studded, and the women much uncovered in the neck and heavily jewelled, their glazed and lamp-blacked eyes wandering’. He descended and had his supper in the grill-room.

‘May 9. MS. of A Group of Noble Dames sent to the Graphic as promised.

‘In the streets I see patient hundreds, labouring on, and boxes on wheels packed with men and women. There are charcoal trees in the squares. A man says: “ When one is half-drunk London seems a wonderfully enjoyable place, with its lamps, and cabs moving like fire-flies.” Yes, man has done more with his materials than God has done with his.

‘A physician cannot cure a disease, but he can change its mode of expression.’

‘May 15. Coming home from seeing Irving in The Bells. Between 11 and 12. The 4,000,000 suggest their existence now, when one sees the brilliancy about Piccadilly Circus at this hour, and notices the kiln-dried features around.’

At Mr. Gosse’s this month they met Miss Balestier — an attractive and thoughtful young woman on her first visit to England from America, who remarked to him that it was so reposeful over here; ‘In America you feel at night, “I must be quick and sleep; there is not much time to give to it”.’ She afterwards became Mrs. Rudyard Kipling. About the same date Hardy also met — it is probable for the first time — Mr. Kipling himself. ‘He talked about the East, and he well said that the East is the world, both in numbers and in experiences. It has passed through our present bustling stages, and has become quiescent. He told curious details of Indian life.’

Hardy remarks that June 2 is his fiftieth birthday: and during the month went frequently to the Savile Club, sometimes dining there with acquaintances, among others J. H. Middleton, Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge. Hardy used to find fault with Middleton as having no sense of life as such; as one who would talk, for instance, about bishops’ copes and mitres with an earnest, serious, anxious manner, as if there were no cakes and ale in the world, or laughter and tears, or human misery beyond tears. His sense of art had caused him to lose all sense of relativity, and of art’s subsidiary relation to existence.

This season also Hardy seems to have had a humour for going the round of the music-halls, and pronounces upon the beauties ‘whose lustrous eyes and pearly countenances show that they owe their attractions to art’, that they are seldom well-formed physically; notes the ‘ round-hatted young men gaping at the stage, with receding chins and rudimentary mouths’; and comments upon the odd fact that though there were so many obvious drunkards around him, the character on the stage which always gave the most delight was that of a drunkard imitated. At Bizet’s opera of Carmen he was struck, as he had been struck before, with the manner in which people-conducted themselves on the operatic stage; that of being ‘ possessed, maudlin, distraught, as if they lived on a planet whose atmosphere was intoxicating’. At a ballet at the Alhambra he noticed ‘the air of docile obedience on the faces of some of the dancing women, a passive resignation like that of a plodding horse, as if long accustomed to correction. Also marks of fatigue. The morality of actresses, dancers, etc., cannot be judged by the same standard as that of people who lead slower lives. Living in a throbbing atmosphere they are perforce throbbed by it in spite of themselves. We should either put down these places altogether because of their effect upon the performers, or forgive the performers as irresponsibles. . . . The Premiere Danseuse strokes each calf with the sole of her other foot like a fly — on her mouth hanging a perpetual smile.’

‘June 23. Called on Arthur Locker [editor] at the Graphic office in answer to his letter. He says he does not object to the stories \A Group of Noble Dames] but the Directors do. Here’s a pretty job! Must smooth down these Directors somehow I suppose.’

In the same month he met Mr. (afterwards Sir) H. M. Stanley, the explorer, at a dinner given by the publishers of his travels. Hardy does not seem to have been much attracted by his personality. He observed that Stanley was shorter than himself, ‘with a disdainful curve on his mouth and look in his eye which would soon become resentment’. He made a speech in the worst taste, in Hardy’s opinion, being to the effect that everybody who had had to do with producing his book was, rightly, delighted with the honour. At the same dinner Hardy talked to Du Chaillu, who had also spoken a few words. Hardy asked him: ‘ Why didn’t you claim more credit for finding those dwarfs?’ The good-natured Du Chaillu said with a twinkle: ‘Noh, noh! It is his dinner.’ Hardy also made the acquaintance of the Bishop of Ripon at that dinner, from what he says: ‘ He [the Bishop] has a nice face — a sort of ingenuous archness in it — as if he would be quite willing to let supernaturalism down easy, if he could.’

At the police courts, where just at this time he occasionally spent half an hour, being still compelled to get novel padding, he noticed that ‘the public’ appeared to be mostly represented by grimy gentlemen who had had previous experience of the courts from a position in the dock: that there were people sitting round an anteroom of the courts as if waiting for the doctor; that the character of the witness usually deteriorated under cross-examination; and that the magistrate’s spectacles as a rule endeavoured to flash out a strictly just manner combined with as much generosity as justice would allow.

On the last day of the month he wound up his series of visits to London entertainments and law-offices with the remark, ‘Am getting tired of investigating life at music-halls and police-courts’. About the same time he lost his friend Lord Carnarvon, who had written with prophetic insight when proposing him for the Athenaeum that it would have been better if his proposer had been a younger man. Before leaving London he met Miss Ada Rehan, for whom he had a great liking, and, in some of her parts, admiration, that of the Shrew being of course one of them. He says of her: ‘A kindly natured, winning woman with really a heart. I fear she is wearing herself out with too hard work.’ Two days later they were present at the Lyceum to see her as Rosalind in As You Like It. She was not so real — indeed could not be — in the character as in The Shrew. Before starting Hardy wrote: ‘Am going with E. to see Rosalind, after not seeing her for more than twenty years. This time she is composed of Ada Rehan.’ After going he added: ‘At the end of the second act I went round, and found her alone, in a highly strung throbbing state — and rather despondent. “ O yes — it goes smoothly,” she said. “But I am in a whirlwind. . . . Well, it is an old thing, and Mr. Daly liked to produce it!” I endeavoured to assure her that it was going to be satisfactory, and perhaps succeeded, for in the remaining acts she played full of spirit.’ It is possible that the dramatic poem entitled ‘The Two Rosalinds’ was suggested by this performance combined with some other; but there is no certainty about this, and dates and other characteristics do not quite accord.

Mrs. Hardy had to leave London shortly after, on account of the illness and death of her father; but her husband had promised to write an Epilogue to be spoken by Miss Rehan at a performance on behalf of Mrs. Jeune’s Holiday Fund for Children. So he remained in London till he had written it, and it had been duly delivered. He did not go himself to the performance, but in the evening of the same day was present at a debate at the St. James’s Hall between Messrs. Hyndman and Bradlaugh, in which he was much struck by the extraordinary force in the features of the latter.

‘July 24. Mary Jeune delighted with the verses: says Miss Rehan’s hand shook so much when she read them that she seemed scarcely able to follow the lines.’

‘August 5. Reflections on Art. Art is a changing of the actual proportions and order of things, so as to bring out more forcibly than might otherwise be done that feature in them which appeals most strongly to the idiosyncrasy of the artist. The changing, or distortion, may be of two kinds: (1) The kind which increases the sense of vraisemblance: (2) That which diminishes it. (1) is high art: (2) is low art.

‘High art may choose to depict evil as well as good, without losing its quality. Its choice of evil, however, must be limited by the sense of worthiness.’ A continuation of the same note was made a little later, and can be given here:

‘Art is a disproportioning — (i.e. distorting, throwing out of proportion) — of realities, to show more clearly the features that matter in those realities, which, if merely copied or reported inven - torially, might possibly be observed, but would more probably be overlooked. Hence “realism” is not Art.’

‘August 8-17. With E. to Weymouth and back. Alfred Parsons [R.A.] came. Went to see some Sir Joshuas and Pinturicchios belonging to Pearce-Edgcumbe. Then drove to Weymouth over Ridgeway Hill with Parsons. Lunch at the Royal.’ This was the Old Royal Hotel, now pulled down, where George III and his daughters used to dance at the town assemblies, a red cord dividing the royal dancers from the townspeople. The sockets for the standards bearing the cord were still visible in the floor while the building was standing.

Later in this month of August Hardy started with his brother for Paris by way of Southampton and Havre, leaving the former port at night, when ‘the Jersey boat and ours were almost overwhelmed by the enormous bulk of the “Magdalena” (Brazil and River Plate) — the white figure of her at the ship’s head stretching into the blue - black sky above us’. The journey was undertaken by Hardy solely on his brother’s account, and they merely went the usual round of sight-seeing. As was the case with Hardy almost always, a strange bizarre effect was noticed by him at the Moulin Rouge — in those days a very popular place of entertainment. As everybody knows, or knew, it was close to the cemetery of Montmartre, being, it seems, only divided therefrom by a wall and erection or two, and as he stood somewhere in the building looking down at the young women dancing the cancan, and grimacing at the men, it appears that he could see through some back windows over their heads to the last resting-place of so many similar gay Parisians silent under the moonlight, and, as he notes, to near the grave of Heinrich Heine.

Coming back towards Havre he sees ‘A Cleopatra in the railway carriage. Her French husband sits opposite, and seems to study her; to keep wondering why he married her; and why she married him. She is a good-natured amative creature by her voice, and her heavy moist lips.’

The autumn was passed in the country, visiting and entertaining neighbours, and attending garden-parties. In September, to their great grief, their watch-dog ‘ Moss’ died — an affectionate retriever whose grave can still be seen at Max Gate.

In the latter part of this year, having finished adapting Tess of the d’Urbervilles for the serial issue, he seems to have dipped into a good many books — mostly the satirists: including Horace, Martial, Lucian, ‘the Voltaire of Paganism’, Voltaire himself, Cervantes, Le Sage, Moli^re, Dryden, Fielding, Smollett, Swift, Byron, Heine, Carlyle, Thackeray, Satires and Profanities by James Thomson, and Weismann’s Essays on Heredity.

In December, staying in London, Hardy chanced to find himself in political circles for a time, though he never sought them. At one house he was a fellow-guest with Mr. (afterwards Lord) Goschen, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the ‘I forgot Goschen’ story was still going about. At another house just afterwards he chanced to converse with the then Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, Lord Randolph Churchill’s mother: ‘ She is a nice warm-feeling woman, and expressed her grief at what had happened to her son, though her hostess had told her flatly it was his own doing. She deplores that young men like should stand in the fore-front of the Tory party, and her son should be nowhere. She says he has learnt by bitter experience, and would take any subordinate position the Government might offer him. Poor woman — I was sorry for her, as she really suffers about it. Parnell, however, was the main thing talked about, and not Randolph.’

‘December 4. I am more than ever convinced that persons are successively various persons, according as each special strand in their characters is brought uppermost by circumstances.’

‘December 8 onwards. Lodging at the Jeunes. Lord Rowton, who is great on lodging-houses, says I am her “dosser”.’

‘December 18. Mr. E. Clodd this morning gives an excellently neat answer to my question why the superstitions of a remote Asiatic and a Dorset labourer are the same: “The attitude of man”, he says, “at corresponding levels of culture, before like phenomena, is pretty much the same, your Dorset peasants representing the persistence of the barbaric idea which confuses persons and things, and founds wide generalizations on the slenderest analogies.”

‘(This “ barbaric idea which confuses persons and things “ is, by the way, also common to the highest imaginative genius — that of the poet.)’

‘Christmas Day. While thinking of resuming “ the viewless wings of poesy” before dawn this morning, new horizons seemed to open, and worrying pettinesses to disappear.

‘Heard to-day an old country tradition; that if a woman goes off her own premises before being churched, e.g. crosses a road that forms the boundary of her residence — she may be made to do penance, or be excommunicated. I cannot explain this, but it reminds me of what old Mr. Hibbs of Bere Regis told me lately; that a native of that place, now ninety, says he remembers a young woman doing penance in Bere Church for singing scandalous songs about “a great lady”. The girl stood in a white sheet while she went through “the service of penance”, whatever that was.

‘Also heard another curious story. Mil [Amelia] Chad an illegitimate child by the parish doctor. She christened him all the doctor’s names, which happened to be a mouthful — Frederick Washington Ingen — and always called him by the three names complete. Moreover the doctor had a squint, and to identify him still more fully as the father she hung a bobbin from the baby’s cap between his eyes, and so trained him to squint likewise.’

Next day they lunched with a remote cousin of Hardy’s on the maternal side — Dr. Christopher Childs of Weymouth — to meet his brother and sister-in-law Mr. and Mrs. Borlase Childs on a visit from Cornwall, and heard from Borlase Childs (whose grandfather had married into the Borlase family) some traditions of his and Hardy’s common ancestors, on which Hardy remarks: ‘The Christopher Childs, brother of my great-grandmother, who left Dorset, was a Jacobite, which accounted for the fall in their fortunes. There is also a tradition — that I had heard before from my mother — that one of the family added the “s” to the name, and that it was connected with the Josiah Child who founded Child’s Bank, and with the family of Lord Jersey. I doubt the first statement, and have no real evidence of the latter.’

‘New Year’s Eve. Looked out of doors just before twelve, and was confronted by the toneless white of the snow spread in front, against which stood the row of pines breathing out: “ ‘Tis no better with us than with the rest of creation, you see!” I could not hear the church bells.’



1891: Aet. 50-51

At the beginning of January 1891, he was at home arranging A Group of Noble Dames for publication in a volume. He was also in London a part of the month, where he saw ‘what is called sunshine up here — a red-hot bullet hanging in a livid atmosphere — reflected from window-panes in the form of bleared copper eyes, and inflaming the sheets of plate-glass with smears of gory light. A drab snow mingled itself with liquid horsedung, and in the river puddings of ice moved slowly on. The steamers were moored, with snow on their gangways. A captain, in sad solitude, smoked his pipe against the bulk-head of the cabin stairs. The lack of traffic made the water like a stream through a deserted metropolis. In the City George Peabody sat comfortably in his easy chair, with snow on the folds of his ample waistcoat, the top of his bare head, and shoulders, and knees.’

After seeing Irving at the Lyceum, and admiring the staging: ‘But, after all, scenic perfection such as this only banishes one plane further back the jarring point between illusion and disillusion. You must have it somewhere, and begin calling in “make believe” forthwith, and it may as well be soon as late — immediate as postponed — and no elabourate scenery be attempted.

‘I don’t care about the fashionable first night at a play: it is so insincere, meretricious; the staginess behind the footlights seem to flow over upon the audience.’

On the Sunday following a number of people dined at the house where Hardy was staying. ‘ Presently Ellen Terry arrived — diaphanous — a sort of balsam or sea-anemone, without shadow. Also Irving, Sir Henry Thompson, Evelyn Ashley, Lady Dorothy [Nevill], Justin McCarthy, and many others. Ellen Terry was like a machine in which, if you press a spring, all the works fly open. E. Ashley’s laugh is like a clap, or report; it was so loud that it woke the children asleep on the third floor. Lady Dorothy said she collected death’s.

heads — (what did she mean?). Ashley told me about his electioneering experiences. The spectacle of another guest — a Judge of the Supreme Court — telling broad stories with a broad laugh in a broad accent, after the ladies had gone, reminded one of Baron Nicholson of “Judge-and-Jury” fame. “Tom” Hughes and Miss Hughes came in after dinner. Miss Hilda Gorst said that at dinner we made such a noise at our end of the table that at her end they wondered what we had to amuse us so much. (That’s how it always seems.) ... A great crush of people afterwards, till at one o’clock they dwindled away, leaving nothing but us, blank, on the wide polished floor.’

At the end of the month he and his wife were at a ball at Mrs. Sheridan’s at Frampton Court, Dorset, where he saw a friend of his ‘waltzing round with a face of ambition, not of slightest pleasure, as if he were saying to himself “this has to be done”. We are all inveterate joy-makers: some do it more successfully than others; and the actual fabrication is hardly pleasure.’

‘February 10. Newman and Carlyle. The former’s was a feminine nature, which first decides and then finds reasons for having decided. He was an enthusiast with the absurd reputation of a logician and reasoner. Carlyle was a poet with the reputation of a philosopher. Neither was truly a thinker.’

On the 21 st Hardy notes that Mrs. Hardy rode on horse-back for what turned out to be the last time in her life. It was to Mrs. Sheridan’s at Frampton, and a train crossed a bridge overhead, causing the mare to rear; but happily not throwing the rider. Very few horses could.

In March they were again in London. A deep snow came on shortly after, but they had got home. It was in drifts:

‘Sculptured, scooped, gouged, pared, trowelled, moulded, by the wind. Em says it is architectural. ... A person aged 50 is an old man in winter and a young man in summer. . . Was told by J. A. of a poor young fellow who is dying of consumption, so that he has to sit up in the night, and to get up because he cannot sleep. Yet he described tc my informant that one night he had such a funny dream of pigs knocking down a thatcher’s ladder that he lay awake laughing uncontrollably.’

In the same month Hardy erected what he called ‘The Druid Stone’ on the lawn at Max Gate. This was a large block they discovered about three feet underground in the garden, and the labour of getting it from the hole where it had lain for perhaps two thousand years was a heavy one even for seven men with levers and other appliances. — ‘ It was a primitive problem in mechanics, and the scene was such a one as may have occurred in building the Tower of Babel.’ Round the stone, which had been lying flat, they had found a quantity of ashes and half charred bones.

Though Hardy was at this time putting the finishing touches to Tess he was thinking of ‘A Bird’s-Eye View of Europe at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. ... It may be called “A Drama of the Times of the First Napoleon”.’ He does not appear to have done more than think of it at this date.

In April he was at a morning performance at the old Olympic Theatre of that once popular play The Stranger, by Kotzebue; and he ‘ thought of the eyes and ears that had followed the acting first and last, including Thackeray’s’. Miss Winifred Emery was Mrs. Haller on this occasion. During his time in London he notes the difference between English and French stage-dancing; ‘The English girls dance as if they had learned dancing; the French as if dancing had produced them,’ He also while in Town dined at the Lushingtons’ ‘and looked at the portrait of Lushington’s father, who had known Lady Byron’s secret’. He went to hear Spurgeon preach, for the first and last time. As Spurgeon died soon after, he was glad he had gone, the preacher having been a great force in his day, though it had been spent for many years. He witnessed the performance of Hedda Gabler at the Vaudeville, on which he remarks that it seems to him that the rule for staging nowadays should be to have no scene which would not be physically possible in the time of acting. [An idea carried out years after in The Queen of Cornwall.]

The Hardys were now as usual looking for a place in which to spend three or four months in London. Much as they disliked handling other people’s furniture, taking on their breakages, cracks, and stains, and paying for them at the end of the season as if they had made them themselves, there was no help for it in their inability to afford a London house or flat all the year round. ‘ The dirty house-fronts, leaning gate-piers, rusty gates, broken bells, Dore monstrosities of womankind who showed us the rooms, left Em nearly fainting, and at one place she could not stay for the drawing-room floor to be exhibited.’ They found a flat at last in Mandeville Place, just about the time that Hardy learnt of his being elected to the Athenaeum Club by the Committee under Rule 2.

‘April 28. Talking to Kipling to-day at the Savile, he said that he once as an experiment took the ideas of some mature writer or speaker (on Indian politics, I think) and translating them into his own language used them as his. They were pronounced to be the crude ideas of an immature boy.’

The Royal Academy this year struck Hardy as containing some good colouring but no creative power, and that as visitors went by names only the new geniuses, even if there were any, were likely to be overlooked. He recalled in respect of the fair spring and summer landscapes that ‘They were not pictures of this spring and summer, although they seem to be so. All this green grass and fresh leafage perished yesterday; after withering and falling, it is gone like a dream.’

In the Gallery of the English Art Club: ‘If I were a painter, I would paint a picture of a room as viewed by a mouse from a chink under the skirting.’

Hardy’s friend Dr. (afterwards Sir) Joshua Fitch took him over Whitelands Training College for schoolmistresses, where it was the custom in those days, and may be now, to choose a May Queen every year, a custom originated by Ruskin. Hardy did not, however, make any observation on this, but merely: ‘A comm