UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Chance in Thomas Hardy Palmer, Peter Fourie 1926

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9fiA;r,,E TT? THO&IAS HARDY BY PKTgp Wirpifi flWFR U.B.C. LIBRARY CAT MnL£>Ai.f9*.6J1s- $££ 0cc.no. j y t^gf CHAJfCE US THOMAS HARDY by Peter Fourie Palmer A Thes i s submi t ted for the Degree of I^STEE OF ARTS i n the Department of EliGLISH THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA APRIL, 1926. I THOMAS HAKDY'S USE THE CHAJGE PRINCIPLE The aim of this essay is to determine an answer to the query: Does Thomas Hardy's use of the principle of chance tend to iispair the verisimilitude of his novels? The method of enquiry will be as follows. First, it will try to show that the aim of art is verisimilitude rather than rigid truth, and to illustrate this principle with an example which lias truth but no verisimilitude, and which owes this lack of verisimilitude to those devices supposedly characteristic of Hardy—chance and coincidence. Secondly, it will analyze the excerpt quoted in order to arrive at some definite working basis on which chance or coincidence in those novels which exemplify these devices may be criticised. Thirdly, it will venture an absolute estimate as, to the degree to which the chance principle. as used, affects the verisimilitude of these works. Lastly, it will confirm, if possible, this absolute estimate, by a comparison of a novel characterized by chance with a novel distinguished by its almost complete absence - 2 -To write convincing fiction, an author must not follow fact too closely: he must rather select his material with a view to securing verisimilitude. In this connection William Archer, the dramatic critic, has the following to say (his remarks are directed primarily at dramatic presentation, bat may be with equal pertinence applied to narrative-writing): ' ••• an improbable or otherwise inacceptable incident cannot be validly defended on the score that it actually happened: that it is on record in history or the newspapers. In the first place, the dramatist can never put it on the stage as it happened. The bare fact may be historical, but it is not the bare faot that matters. The dramatist cannot restore it to its place in that intricate plexus of cause and effect, which is the essence and meaning of reality. He can only give his interpretation of the fact; and one knows not how to calculate the chances that his interpretation may be a false one. But even if this difficulty could be overcome; if the dramatist could prove that he had reproduced the event with photographic and cinematographic accuracy, his position would not thereby be improved. He would still have failed in his peculiar task, which is precisely that of interpretation* Hot truth, but verisimilitude, is his aim; for the stage is the (1) realm of appearances, i n which in t rus ive r e a l i t i e s become u n r e a l . 1 An extremely happy v ind ica t ion of t h i s view occurs in that most en te r t a in ing book of Mark Twain, Roughing I t . I t i s necessary to say i n advance tha t the book i s a more or l e s s t rue 1 . Playmaking, p .275 . - 3 -account of Samuel Clemens'5 early experiences in the Ear West. For this reason the book cannot be treated as fiction, though many of the yarns in it merit a far harsher term than this. The incident below quoted is, however, vouched for by the author as a record of fact. The preliminary circumstances it is necessary to understand are these: Clemens and his partner Higbie have made a rich 'strike' in mining land. According to the law of the country they must do a reasonable amount of work within ten days after the location of the mine, or forfeit it. Before they have done any work at all, they are both forced to leave town for a few days, Clemens to nurse a sick friend, and Higbie to help find a 'cement bed'. They leave almost simultaneously, each having previously left a note to the effect that he will be absent for a few days, and admonishing the other to perform the necessary work on the location. The thread of the story is taken up on the evening of the ninth day. 'When I had been nursing the captain nine days,' relates Clemens, 'he was somewhat better, but very feeble. During the afternoon we lifted him into a chair, and gave him an alcoholic vapor bath, and then set about putting him to bed again. We had to be exceedingly careful, for the least jar produced pain. Gardiner had his shoulders and I his legs; in an unfortunate moment I stumbled and the patient fell heavily on the bed in an agony of torture. I never heard a man swear so much in my life ... It was simply a passing fury, and meant nothing ... but it angered me a little, at the moment. - 4 -So much so, indeed, that I determined to go back to Esmeralda ... 1 took supper, and as soon as the moon rose, began my nine mile journey, on foot ... 'As I "raised the hill" overlooking the town, it lacked fifteen minutes to twelve. I glanced at the hill over beyond the canon, and in the bright moonlight saw what appeared to be about half the population of the village massed on and around the Wide West croppings. My heart gave an exulting bound, and 1 said to myself, "They have made a new strike to-night and struck it richer than ever, no doubt." I started over there, but gave it up. I said the "strike" would keep, and I had climbed hills enough for one night. 1 went on down through the town, and as I was passing a little German bakery, a woman ran out and begged me to come in and help her. She said her husband had a fit. I went in, and judged she was right —*• he appeared to have a hundred of them compressed into one ... He grew quiet, now, and the doctor and I withdrew and left him to his friends. 'It was a little after one o'clock. As I entered the cabin door, tired but jolly, the dingy light of a tallow candle revealed Higbie, sitting by the pine table gazing stupidly at my note, which he held in his lingers, and looking pale, old, and haggard. I halted, and looked at him. He looked at me, stolidly. I said: * "Higbie, what what is It? " - 5 -tH we're ruined we d i d n ' t do the work THE BLIND LEAD'S RELOCATED! " • I t was enough. I sa;t down s ick , grieved —- broken-hearted, indeed . . . we dropped into mutual explanat ions , and the mystery was cleared away . . . he had never seen my note t i l l t h i s moment, and t h i s moment was the f i r s t time he had been in the cabin since the day he had seen me l a s t . He, a l s o , had l e f t a note for me, on that same fa t a l afternoon — had r idden up on horseback, and looked through the window, and being in a hurry and not seeing me, had tossed the note into the cabin through a broken pane. Here i t was, on the f loor , where i t had remained undisturbed for nine days: •Don't f a i l to do the work before the ten days exp i re . VV. has passed through and given me no t i ce . I am to j o i n him a t Mono Lake, and we sha l l go on from there t o -n igh t . He says he wi l l find i t t h i s time, sure . 'CAL.» ,w W.w meant Whiteman, of course. That thrice-accursed cement! •That was the way of it. An old miner, like Higbie could no more withstand the fascination of a mysterious mining excitement like this "cement" foolishness than he could refrain from eating when he was famishing ... He said they prosecuted their search in the fastnesses of the mountains during nine days, without success; they could not find cement. Then a ghastly fear came over him that something might have happened to prevent the doing of the necessary work to hold - 6 -the blind lead (though indeed he though such a thing hardly possible) and forthwith started home with all speed. He would have reached Bsmeralda in time, but his horse broke down, and he had to walk a great part of the distance. And so it happened that as he came into Esmeralda by one road, I entered it by another. His was the superior energy, however, for he went straight to the Wide West, instead of turning aside as I had done and he arrived there about five or ten minutes too late. The "notice" was already up, and the relocation of our mine completed beyond recall, and the crowd (2) rapidly dispersing.* After reading this tale one is inclined strongly to doubt the author's veracity; but that the story is true is testified to by his unequivocal statement: »It reads like a fancy sketch, but the evidence of aany witnesses, and likewise that of the official records of Ksmeralda District, is easily obtainable in proof that it is true history.* s Why is this tory, vouched for as true, so incredible? A Why is it that, though we know it to be a fact, we still have frequent doubts as to its possibility? The obvious retort is: "Chance occurs too frequently to render the story immediately credible; if the author did not state quite seriously that the narrative is a record of fact, no one would for a moment accept it as true. This 2. Houghing It - page 195. - 7 -multiplication of chances is quite outside the limits, not only of probability, but also those of possibility." And the judgment is uadubitably a fair one. But are the chances in themselves incredible? I do not think that a similar opinion can with justice be given on this question. There are five separate chance incidents in the tale: first, the sudden sickness of 'the captain,' necessitating Clemens» absence frota the mine; secondly, the appearance of Whiteman, which so irresistibly draws Higbie away from the centre of operations; thirdly, the failure of Clemens to ascertain the cause of the crowd at the 'Wide West'; and fifthly, the accident to Higbie's horse which prevents him from reaching the mine in time. The two first chances must be accepted (separately) without question. They are 'initial' chances, without which no story, true or otherwise, could have its existence. Even supposing that the "captain's" sudden illness could be shown to be extremely likely to occur on the particular day on which it did occur, such casuistry is too fine for the average reader who, it must be remembered, must always be humored. Similarly with Whiteman's appearance. Ho doubt a long and involved explanation of Vvhiteman's immediately previous history would show that he, too, would be passing through Esmeralda at the time of the mine 'strike', but what reader would tolerate such a lengthy and involved preliminary? Bar better simply to accept the fact as stated without question. But, having accepted the 'initial chance* the reader need accept no chance subsequent to this without having received adequate preparation for it. - 8 -Once the narrative is in full swing any factor which, as it were, 'drops into the story from the skies' is likely to strike a false note and impair its verisimilitude, unless the said factor is well •prepared for'. How in Clemen's stDry the three chance incidents which take place after the narrative is in full swing are facts — they actually did occur; but has Clemens so described those incidents as to make them credible? She first incident is the failure of Higbie to see Clemens in the cabin. We are told that Higbie 'had ridden up* to the cabin 'on horseback, and looked through the window, and being in a hurry and not seeing me, had tossed the note into the cabin through a broken pane'* Nothing could be more reasonable than this story, told as it is told by Clemens. Neither can any objection be taken to the second chance Clemens decision to go straight to the cabin, instead of turning aside to the mine. After his nine mile walk the prospector would hardly be likely to waste any time getting home unless there was very good reason for so doing: 'I started over there, but gave it up. I said the "strike" would keep, and I had climbed hills enough for one night'. The third chance is quite as acceptable as the first two. Higbie 'started home with all speed. He would have reached Esmeralda in time, but his horse broke down and he had to walk a great part of the distance'. It requires no stretch of imagination to believe that a horse, hard-ridden over the rough foot-hills of eastern California, would be very liable to accident. The author might possibly have brought this - 9 point out a l i t t l e more fu l ly , but perhaps considered the circumstances of the r i d e too obvious for enlargement. In summary: examination has shown that none of the five separate chance incidents enumerated can "be ca l led too strange for be l ie f . The i n i t i a l chances, considered separa te ly , must be allowed per force , while the subsequent chances are e i t he r p laus ib le in themselves, or are rendered so by the au thor ' s remarks. Yet the fact remains tha t the s tory as a whole i s hardly c red ib le . I t i s laoking in ve r i s im i l i t ude : but where? The answer ithi'&i. oi-t •fairly *a.siiy jj«fr**p£l •» l i e s , I th ink, not so much in the chances themselves, but in the coincidence Archer says: ' I t i s not always c l e a r l y recognized that chance and coincidence are by no means the same th ing . Coincidence i s a special and complex form of chance, which ought by no means to be confounded with the every-day v a r i e t y . We need not here analyse chance, or d iscuss the philosophic value of the term. I t i s enough that we a l l know what we mean by i t in common par lance . I t may be wel l , however, to look into the etymology of the two words we are considering. They both come u l t ima te ly , from the Latin "cadere", to f a l l . Chance is a f a l l ing -ou t , l i ke that of a die from the d ice -box; and coincidence s ign i f ies one fa l l lng-out on the top of another , the concurrent happening of two or more chances which resemble or somehow f i t into each o ther . I f you r a t t l e s ix dice in a box, and throw them, and they turn up a t haphazard say, two aces , a deuce, two four*, and a s ix — there i s nothing remarkable in t h i s f a l l i ng -out . But i f they a l l turn up s ixes , you a t once suspect that the - 10 -dice are cogged; and if that be not so if there be no sufficient cause behind the phenomenon — — you say that this identical falling out of six separate possibilities was a remarkable coincidence. Now, applying the illustration to drama, 1 should say that the playwright is perfectly justified in letting chance play its probable and even inevitable part in the affairs of his characters; but that, the moment we suspect him of cogging the dice, we feel that he is taking an unfair advantage of us, and our imagination either cries, (3) "1 won't play! " or continues the game under protest.' This is, indeed, what we would like to say to Mark Twain. His narrative is such a tremendous coincidence taken as a whole that we almost cannot refrain from feeling that somewhere the dice were cogged. If we analyze the story again we find that there are really two coincidences. First, the simultaneous illness of the 'captain' and the appearance of Whiteman the prospector; secondly, the simultaneous failure of Clemens and Higbie to stop the relocation of the mine - for totally different reasons. Reference has already been made to the credibility of the first-mentioned chances when viewed separately. Either the arrival of the prospector or the sickness of the 'captain' might have been shown to be not only possible, but also probable, at the particular time when Highbie and Clemens made their 'strike.* But what makes the reader doubt the truth of even a true story is the fact that these two incidents, which had such a disastrous after-effect, 3. Playmaking, pp. 285-86. - 11 -coincide -*~ occur within an hour or two of each other. Although Mark Twaij^  has l i t t l e d i f f i cu l ty 1B securing the reader's be l i e f in the chance incidentB of the narrative, not his ar t , nor that of a r t i s t s far greater than he, coulo secure credibi l i ty for the coincidence of any of those chances. So, a^-ain, i t is with the respective failures of the partners to prevent the relocation of the mine. Each of these incidents i s shown to be quite probable by i t s e l f ; what disturbs the reader i s that they should dovetail so extraordinarily perfectly: Highble, distracted with a fear that the mine nay be l o s t , i s suddenly deprived of the power to prevent that lose; Clemens, who i s not in the least troubled about the safety of the mine, has i t in his power to avoid the catastrephe, but f a i l s to do so merely because he happen* to be t ired. This coincidence, though the separate chances which make i t up can be explained, oannot be explained I t s e l f by any process of log ic , at (what amounts to the same thing in a narrative) by any amount of preparation. We may now summarise the deductions amde in this analysis of a true story. In the f irs t place, i t was seen t.«at faithful adherence to fact in recounting a narrative is not necessarily tn# way to secure veris imil i tude. In the second place, i t was found in the tale under examination that the chance incidents, whether • in i t ia l* or otherwise, were not, considered in themselves, incredible. Finally, i t was decided tn*t the coincidence at these chances was the - 12 -cause responsible for the lack cf v e r i s i m i l i t u d e . With these conclusions as a working b a s i s , we may proceed to a study of the use of chance and coincidence n the novels of Thomas Hardy. A frequent c r i t i c i s e advanced by readers of Bard;/ i s that he r e l i e s too much on chance and coincidence in working out his S t o r i e s . Though t h i s be the opinion of the cursory reader , i t is necessary to remember that he is often nearer t i e t ru th than he is general ly given c red i t for . Those who have studied Hardy careful ly -— Lionel Johnson, Lascellee Abercromtie, Harold Child, atid Dr. Samuel Chew have, with the exception of the last-named, no specif ic comment to make on the use of chance arid coincidence in h i s work. Chew's opinion, however, i s quite worth c i t i n g : •Frankly, i t must be admitted that Hardy oft«<; follows his natural bent towards the mysterious and improbable to the point where he overreaches himself in the employment of coincidence. Bit two p leas may be entered on his behalf. One i t is hardly valid i s that he never completely shook off the l i t e r a r y influences of hia apprenticeship to the school of "sensat ion nove l i s t s " *ho mad© abundant use uf the same device. The other and stronger pl*a is the fact that Hardy senses, azid in the endeavor to bring i t hosas to the reader exaggerates, the factor of chance in l i f e . H s indictment against l i f e i s so ordered that such chances as occur again in the (4) novels d i c t a t e often tne misery or happiness of humaii c r e a t u r e s . ' 4 . Dr. Samuel Chew, Thomas Hardy, pp. 115-16. - 13 -To say that Hardy exaggerates the factor of chance in life is tantamount to admitting that his stories lack verisimilitude. It is my intention to analyze Hardy's novels in the Hght of the critical findings already arrived at — - and any others which may become apparent in the examination itself — to determine, as far as is possible, whether chance and coincidence do produce the effect of unreality in the work of the Wessex novelist. The novels may, for the purposes of this analysis, be placed in two categories — - the dramatic, and the epic. It is not my intention to launch into a detailed explanation of the difference between the dramatic and the epic form. Let it suffice to say that in the novel of dramatic structure the interest is fairly evenly divided between several characters, while in that of epic structure it is centred chiefly on one particular character. Up till about 1880 Hardy wrote in the dramatic form. Subsequently to this date a gradual concentration of interest becomes apparent in his work. Instead of four chief characters as we find in Desperate Remedies (Miss Aldclyffe, Manston, Cytherea, and Edward Springrove) or in Bar from the Madding Crowd (Bathsheba Everdene, Gabriel Oak, Sergeant Troy, and Boldwood) or again in The Return of the native (Bustacia Vye, Mrs. Yeobright, Clym Yeobright, and Wildeve), we find three in The Trumpet Ma,)or (Anne Garland, Bobert and John Loveday), and two in Two on a Tower (Viviette Constantino and St. Cleeve). .,^ T f r„, „ ft.r.r,Tr_.v^r:rt_;... ,._.,. x - 14 -After this period of transition came the epic novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge. Tess of the D'Urbervilles. and jude the Obscure. The last-named novel, though apparently treating two characters in similar detail, is actually epic because Sue Bridehead is in a sense a foil to Jude Eawley. Owing to this dissimilarity of form, it is not practicable to consider any one book as typical of Harry's work. For this reason I shall deal first with The Return of the native as representative of his earlier work. The choice of this novel is well-advised, since it is not only typical of the earlier work, but is perhaps the most generally liked of them, if not of all his works. To furnish some idea of the continuity of the story, it will be as well to summarize it briefly: Clym Yeobright, the son of Mrs« Yeobright of Blooms-End, Egdon Heath, is brought up as a jeweller, and becomes manager of a large establishment in Paris. Becoming tired of city life, he returns to Egdon with the intention of opening a school. \7hile staying with his mother he becomes acquainted with Eustacia Vye, who lives at Mistover Knap (also on Egdon) with her grandfather, a retired naval officer. Eustacia, who is of a pleasure-loving, amorous disposition, has already been engaged in a clandestine affair with Damon Wildeve, the landlord of "The Quiet Woman" inn on Egdon Heath. Wildeve, however, marries Thomasin Yeobright, Clym's cousin. Eustacia, constantly in search of one upon whom she may fasten her affections, finds in Clym Yeobright - - '— — -. , - 15 -a man responsive to her feelings. After their clandestine courtship is discovered by Mrs. Yeobright, who opposes the union bitterly, the lovers marry and depart from Blooms-End to live at Alderworth, which is in another part of Bgdon Heath. Mrs. Yeobright, who has charge of an inheritance to be divided between Clym and Thomasin, decides to send it to them by Christian Cantle, her half-witted servant. She chooses a night on which Clym and Thomasin are both at a dance at Mistover Knap, thinking this the best time to effect the delivery. On the way Cantle drops in at The Quiet Woman, and foolishly talks to Wildeve about his trust. Wildeve, who has himself been refused the care of Thomasin's money, aees an opportunity of obtaining it in spite of Mrs. Yeobright's precautions. He accompanies Cantle on his journey and eventually inveigles him into a game of dice. He wins all the money from Cantle, including Clym's share. The game has been played on a spot in the heath; when Cantle departs, very much perturbed, Diggory Venn ( a reddleman — - itinerant reddle vendor — ~ who frequents the heath and is Thomasin's secret lover and guardian) suddenly appears, and challenges Wildeve to further play. Wildeve agrees and loses all the money to the reddleman. Venn, who is of. course ignorant of the fact that half the money belongs to Clym, places the whole sum in Thomasin*s bauds. Thomasin acknowledges receipt of the money, but Clym naturally does not. Mrs. Yeohright discovers that Cantle lost the money to Wildeve, and decides to visit Alderworth for the purpose 16 -Of s t ra ightening out the mat te r . She meets Eustacia on the way, and b lun t ly asks her i f Wildeve lias given her any money. Eustacia f l a res up: and the r e s u l t i s a b i t t e r quarrel between the women, which estranges them permanently. The matter of the money i s l a t e r cleared up , but t h i s does not a l t e r the feel ings of Eustacia and Mrs. yeobright towards each o the r . Bustacia i s s ec re t ly opposed to Clym's half-formed idea of opening a school, arid hopes to be able to persuade him to take her to Pa r i s with him. Her hopes a re dashed when Clym's eyes suddenly give way, and oblige him to g i ro up , for the time being, the idea of pursuing any occupation necess i ta t ing eye-work. She is further d i s t ressed by the fact that Clym takes up furze-cut t ing to f i l l in time and earn a l i t t l e extra money. She resumes her a f f a i r wi th Wildeve. Some weeks a f t e r Clym's wedding h is mother resolves to become reconciled to him and Eustacia , and accordingly se t s out one summer morning to walk over the Heath to the i r house. I t so happens that a t the time of her a r r i v a l Clym i s in the house, fast a s leep , while Wildeve has cal led to interview Eustacia . Eustacia sees Mrs. Yeobright approaching the door and delays answering the l a t t e r ' s knock to give Wildeve an opportunity of ge t t ing away unnoticed. Inc iden ta l ly , she supposes that Clym w i l l open the door for h is mother, since she. is orvcter fct imlpres&ion t%c& $£ k,WcK ftejoke. AlirS. - 17 -when she finally goes into the front room, she finds that Glym ia still asleep, and that Mrs. Yeobright has departed. Mrs. Yeobright has, in fact, seen Eastacia through the window, and has also previously seen Clym enter the house. She has concluded that Eustacia has at last prevailed upon Clym to turn against his mother. Wearied by her long walk, she is overcome with emotion caused by the failure of her mission, and rests for a space on the heath. A heath boy, Johnny Konsuch, comes along and renders her some help, but becoming alarmed at her appearance and conversation, leaves her. Some time after the boy's departure Clym passes by that way and discovers her lying unconscious. He finds that she has been bitten by an adder. Despite his efforts and those of friends whom he calls to his aid, Mrs. Yeobright dies without regaining consciousness. Clym has a stroke, the effects of which last for several weeks. On his recovery he makes every attempt to learn the circumstances leading up to his mother's death. He at length discovers through Johhay Konsuch and Diggory Venn (who also saw Mrs. Yeobright on the afternoon of her death) that his mother must have been returning from a visit to Alderworth (his home) at the time of the tragedy. Realizing that she must have called while he was asleep, he asks Eustacia her reason for not admitting her, and finally learns the whole story. He and Eustacia part, the wife returning to her grandfather's house. - 18 -At t h i s time Wildeve comes in for a la rge sum of money, and persuades Eustacia to agree to run away with him. Eustacia has made a secre t r e se rva t ion , however, that she wi l l go with Wildeve only i f she does not receive a conc i l i a to ry note from Yeobrlght wi th in a week. On the evening of her determined depar ture , a note from Yeobright a r r i v e s , but Eustacia misses i t by chance. She meets Wildeve a t the appointed place out in a passion of despair ing reac t ion plunges in to the pool nearby (Shadwater Weir) . In a va in attempt to rescue her Wildeve i s drowned, and Clym (who with Venn and others has,followed up the fugi t ives) narrowly escapes the same death in attempting to rescue them both. The fa i th fu l Venn i s rewarded with Thomasin, and Clym devotes the r e s t of h i s l i f e to preaching and educating the inhab i tan t s of the neighboring v i l l a g e s . There a re apparently five major chance incidents i n t h i s n a r r a t i v e . Taken in the order of t he i r occurrence, they a r e : f i r s t , the sudden appearance of Diggory Venn a f t e r the Chr i s t i an Cant le-Wildeve dice-game; secondly, Clym's eye-weakness, which so dashes Eus tac ia ' s hopes of P a r i s ; the coincidence of chances which lead to Mrs. Yeobright18 death; four thly , Wildeve*s inher i tance , which appears to pave the way for Bus tac ia , s escape; and f i f t h l y , Eus tac ia ' s missing of Clym's no te . I sha l l apply the leading questions already arr ived a t in regard to chance and coincidence i n the following order : I s the ?"— " " ; • ~ ' ^ " . > - -—,-., ,. - 19 -incident in question a concidence or i s i t chance? If i t is determined, for log ica l reasons, to he the former, appropriate comment in keeping with what has been decided with regard to coincidence w i l l be made. I f i t turns out to be the l a t t e r , the next question applied to i t w i l l be: Is i t an i n i t i a l chance or not? I f i t i s not i n i t i a l , i s i t su f f i c i en t ly well prepared for to give the impression of ve r i s imi l i tude? Venn's appearance on the heath i s c e r t a i n l y not an i n i t i a l chance, for t h i s p a r t i c u l a r incident received i t s impetus from Mrs. Yeobright 's determination to despatch the inher i t ance . I t therefore demands p repara t ion . Dr. Chew considers the incident an extraordinary Jux tapos i t ion , but I cannot bring myself to agree with (5) him on t h i s p a r t i c u l a r po in t , a f t e r reading chapters 7 and 8 of Book Three. In the f i r s t p l a c e , the appearance of Venn on the heath i s not a chance in any sense of the word. In d e t a i l the events immediately preceding the dicing-games on the heath take place thus : Chr i s t i an Can t l e , on h i s way to de l iver the money to Clym and Thomasin a t Mistover Knap, drops in a t The Quiet Woman. There he i s persuaded to p a r t i c i p a t e in a ' r a f f l e ' (apparently a dice-throwing match, in Wessex). He wins the p r i z e , to h i s great astonishment and g l e e , and becomes unwisely t a l k a t i v e : ' " Well, to be sure . . . To th ink I should have been born as lucky as t h i s , and not have found i t out u n t i l nowl What curious creatures these dice be powerful ru l e r s of us a l l , and yet a t my commandJ I am sure I never need 5. Dr. Samuel Chew: Thomas Hardy, p .114. " " "^"rr*"CT ' ^•^Jf^S^p^nB^^s^^sl-^w jTS.*?""*' 7" ~v* -- 20 -be afeard of anything a f t e r t h i s . " He handled the dice fondly one by one. "Why, s i r , " he said in a confident ia l whisper to Wildeve, who was near h i s l e f t hand, "If I could only use th i s power t h a t ' s in me of mult iplying money I might do some good to a near r e l a t i o n of yours , seeing what I ' ve got about me of hers —- eh?" He tapped one of h i s money-laden boots upon the f loor . *" What do you mean?* said Wildeve. ' " T h a t ' s a s e c r e t . Well, I must be going now." . . . **» Where a re you going?" Wildeve asked. in $ 0 Miatorer Knap. I have to see Mrs. Thomasin there — t h a t ' s a l l . " " I am going the re , too , to fetch Mrs. Wildeve. We can walk toge ther . " * Wildeve and Cantle d e p a r t ) . * Within the room the men f e l l in to a chat t i l l t h e i r a t t e n t i o n was for a moment drawn to the chimney-corner. This was l a rge , and, in audi t ion to i t s proper r e c e s s , contained wi thin i t s Jambs, l i ke many on Egdon, a receding s ea t , so that a person might s i t there absolutely unobserved, provided there was no f i r e to l i g h t him up, as was the case now and throughout the summer. From a niche a single object protruded into the l i gh t from the candles on the t a b l e . I t was a clay p i p e , and i t s colour was reddish. The men had been a t t r a c t e d to t h i s object by a voice behind the pipe asking for a l i g h t . ' . >« - , _ - . _ „ - 21 -•" Upon my l i f e , i t fa ir ly startled me wh»n the man spottl " •aid Fairway, handling a candle. "Oh ' t i s the reddleaanl You've leapt a quiet tongue, young man." *** Tee, I had nothing to say," observed Venn. In a few minutes he arose and wished the company good night. ' Meanwhile Wlldeve and Christian had plunged into the (6) heath.* So me i t seems clear that Hardy means us to gather the fact that Venn has followed Wlldeve and Cantle for one or other, and perhaps both, of two reasons: a desire to hover around Thomasln as •he la escorted home by Wlldeve, or (having overheard Cantle*s conversation) a desire to sue the money reach Thoamsln's ha,.At safely. Which on* of these motives urges Venn to follow the two men i s Immaterial; what i s material i s that Hardy undoubtedly meant the reader to infer that Venn followed Wlldeve and Cantle purposely. Such being the case, can this incident s t i l l be termed a chance, an accident? Tea: for i t i s chance that Venn i s at the inn at the moment when Cantle comes in. I do not think that anybody can have the s l ightest objection to this chance, however. To begin with. It i s in i t s e l f , l ik» the chance incidents in Mark Twain's story, an extremely probable fact, needing l i t t l e embellishment from the author, that the reddleman would spend his evenings at the inn, i f only for company. But there i s an additional reason for the reddleman*• 6. TUt Hwwlffi Of *fae tt».UTf' » • 275-77. . ^ , ^ T W T O f J , , , ^ , . ^ ™ , ^ , , T , ^ , . - zz -presence a t the The Quiet Woman: i t i s the home of Thomas?wildeve, the one woman in a l l the world for whom Dlggory Venn would walk an inch out of h i s way. Venn i s tumble to a t tend the dance a t Mistover Knap owing to h i s uncouth appearance, and na tu ra l ly se lec t s the next beet p l a c e , which i s , as has been sa id , the inn. Here he can observe the movements of Thomasin's lucky husband, see him leave to c a l l for Thomasin, and (perhaps) derive a melancholy pleasure from seeing tha t Thomasin came to no harm on the walk back frora the dance. We may conclude that though t h i s incident may appear to be a l i t t l e far-fetohed I f read a t r i f l e too rap id ly , i t i s ac tua l ly very p l a u s i b l e . Clym Yeobright 's a t t a c k of semi-blindness i s not an i n i t i a l chance, for by t h i s time the p lo t of the book i s in full swing. So, to render i t p l a u s i b l e , the author i s obliged to prepare us in some measure for t h i s b l indness . This i s the manner in which the •preparation* i s dons: 'Amid these j a r r i n g events Yeobright f e l t one thing to be indispensable that he should speedily make some show of progress in h i s scholas t ic p l a n s . Vifith t h i s view he read far into the small hours during many n igh t s . •One morning, a f t e r a severer s t r a i n than usua l , he awoke with a strange sensat ion in his eyes . The sun was shining d i r e c t l y upon the window b l ind , a t h i s f i r s t glance thitherward a sharp pain obliged him to close his eye l ids quickly. At every new attempt to look about him the same morbid s e n s i b i l i t y to l i gh t was manifested, \ l T - " t p r t t . - , — - - ^ v ^ w , •• !T^— ;_ :—*,T . . . v : , . . - ,-^-VV',:,.•:.:,•.'.•.•-;-, - JW -and excor ia t ing tea rs ran down h i s cheeks. He was obliged to t i e a bandage over h ie brow while dress ing ; and during the day i t could not be abandoned. Sustacia was thoroughly alarmed. On finding that the case was no b e t t e r the next morning they decided to send to Anglebury for a surgeon. •Towards evening he a r r ived , and pronounced the disease to acute inflammation induced by Clym's night s tud ie s , continued in s p i t e of a cold previously caught, which had weakened his eyes for a t ime . ' Surely a l i t t l e more trouble could have been taken with development having such a far-reaching effect as t h i s one! One almost gets the impression that here is a point which Hardy would dear ly love to overleap. In one sentence a t the end of the passage quoted i s information in re t rospec t which should surely have occupied two or three pages, not in r e t ro spec t , but in prepara t ion . The u n c r i t i c a l reader may encounter no d i f f i c u l t y in accepting t h i s chance inc ident , wr i t t en as i t i s ; but I cannot see how a reader with t.ny perception can road t h i s passage without insvi tably feeling that things are being "pushed into place" in the shortes t way poss ib le . Even a f t e r reading i t for the fourth or f if th time, I cannot evade the in^ression tha t the whole a f f a i r simply drops out of the skies in a way which happens too r a r e ly in actual l i f e for me to accept i t . On the other hand, who would question Dicfc Heldar 's bl indness in Kip l ing ' s The Light that Bailed. Whatever th i s au thor ' s f a i l ings may be hardness, -y-'-r^rm ^ -^--s-'^-syr- ^ •^<w:1, -i^w?^ - 24 -super -sophis t i ca t ion , and so on lack of na r ra t ive p repara t ion i s not one of them. Heldar ' s blindness i s prepared for by h in t s dropped here and there in the space of more than twenty pages preceding the ac tua l "catastrophe. Thus, speaking to h is dog, Heldar says: f " What gives a man pains across h is head and spots (7) before h i s eyes, Binkie?" and a l i t t l e l a t e r : 'He (Helgar) would have answered, but a t tha t moment there unrol led i t s e l f from • one corner of the studio a v e i l , as i t were, of the f i lmies t gauze. (6) He rubbed h i s eyes , but the gray haze would not g o . ' So he v i s i t s an op t ic ian : 'As he entered the dark ha l l that led to the consult ing room a man cannoned against him. Dick saw the face as i t hurried out into the s t r e e t . ' " That ' s the wr i t e r - t ype . He has the same modelling of the forehead as Torp. He looks very s ick . Probably heard something he d i d n ' t l i k e . " •Even as he thought, a great fear came upon Dick, a fear that made him hold h is breath as he walked into the o c u l i s t ' s (9) waiting-room . . . ' After the ocu l i s t had made an examination •Dick found a glass of l iquor brandy in his hand.. "• As far as I can ga the r , " he said , coughing above the s p i r i t , "you c a l l i t decay of the opt ic nerve, or something, and therefore hopeless . What i s my t ime- l imi t^ , avoiding a l l s t r a i n and worry?" ' " Perhaps one yea r . " - 25 -»" My God! And i f I don ' t take care of myself?" •*' I r e a l l y could not say. One cannot a s c e r t a i n the exact amount of injury i n f l i c t e d by a sword-cut. The scar i s an old one, and —— exposure to the strong l i g h t of dese r t , did you say? with excessive appl ica t ion to fine woris*? I r e a l l y could (10) not say ." I t i s a l so worth noting that the sword-cut referred to i s no t , l i ke Clym's cold , a fact told the reader long a f t e r i t s (11) occurrence; the incident i s r e l a t ed e a r l i e r in the book. The r e s u l t of a l l t h i s careful d e t a i l i s tha t there i s not the l ea s t d i f f i c u l t y experienced in accepting the n a r r a t i v e . Conversely, in Hardy's work, lack of preparat ion too frequently r a i s e s a doubt in the r e a d e r ' s mind. The circumstances leading up to the death of Mrs. Yeobright amount to a coincidence. There are four separate chances in t h i s incident , the fact that Mrs. Yeobright saw Clym enter h i s house j u s t before she reached i t ; that Clym was asleep when she ca l l ed ; that Wildeve had cal led on Eustacia ; and tha t she sees Eustacia through the window. (This seems l i ke numbering the s t reaks of the tu l ip with a vengeance, but i s necessary in such a study as t h i s one). Natural ly there i s no quest ion, a t t h i s stage i n the book, as to whether or not any of these separate chances are i n i t i a l . 10. The Light That Bailed, p.204 1 1 . The Light that f a i l ed , p .32 . - £6 -I t i s c l e a r , then, that the author should have made sons© effor t to make them c r e d i b l e . This he has done. It i s quite easy to understand that Mrs. Teobright would see Clym going home a t midday fro^ n his writ* for we are to ld that she s e t s out from Blooms-Sad a t eleven o 'clock, (121 to avoid the heat of the SUB early in the afternoon . &s the (13) dis tance from Blooms-End is about two hours ' walk, Mrs. Teobright would fee extremely l i k e l y to oome In s ight #f Al<ierworth at the time her son was re turn ing home for lunch. Then, to explain why Clym i s as leep when she c a l l s . Hardy i n s e r t s a small paragraph in Chapter 2 ( three Chapters prev ious) : Clym's 'custom was to work from four o ' c lock in the morning t i l l noon; then, when the heat of the day was a t i t s h ighes t , to go home and sleep for an hour or two; afterwards (14) coming out again and working t i l l dusk a t n i n e . ' Fat In t h i s case the preparatory touch i s too far separated from the scene i t s e l f . Cer ta in ly a l i t t l e more might have been made of Clym'* ra ther unusual habits* Wildeve's presence i s eas i ly accounted for: we have already learned that the innkeeper 's nocturnal t r y s t s with Eustacia have been (15) somewhat pointedly ended by Diggory Venn, and that Wlidevs has (16) decided to meet Eustacia openly. F ina l ly , the fact that Mrs. Yeobright sees Eustacia through the window i s a type of chance which i s in i t s e l f so c redib le that i t needs no a r t i s t i c e f fo r t on the par t 12. p . 3 4 1 . 13. p .342. 14. p.311 15. p.335 16. p.337 lW''vf,WZ'-^7?i-::; ••'•':TT.^ "'£.&•• " -- 27 -of the author to give i t general credence. Cer ta in ly the separate chances are more or l e s s c r ed ib l e . what d i s tu rbs one i s t h e i r coincidence. Such a complicated incident may have ac tua l ly occurred, but c e r t a i n l y not commonly enough to sa t i s fy the c r i t i c a l r e a d e r ' s des i re for v e r i s i m i l i t u d e . Wildeve's sudden inher i tance i s a chance which has been the stock device of the cheaper nove l i s t s for f i f t y yea r s . I t i s therefore ra ther unfortunate that an author of Hardy's ca l ib re should feel i t necessary to r e so r t to i t . Not only has the Wessex Novelist done so, however, but he has done so without any attempt to make the in t rus ive factor seem p l a u s i b l e . Since there i s no apparent a l t e r n a t i v e way of providing Eustacia with a means of escape from Egdon, I suppose the a r t i f i c e must be accepted; but i t s t r i k e s me as one of the most awkward b i t s of wr i t ing Hardy has done. Eus t ac i a ' s grandfather, Captain Vye, meets her when on h i s way over to East Egdon: ' " 1 can ' t stay a minute, thank y e , " he answered to her g ree t ing . " I am dr iving to East Egdon; bfct I come round here jus t to t e l l you the news. Perhaps you have heard about Mr. Wildeve's fortune?" ' " No," said Eustacia blankly. ' " Well, he has come into a fortune of eleven thousand pounds uncle died in Canada, j u s t a f t e r hearing that a l l h i s family, whom he was sending home, had gone to the bottom in the 'Cass iopeia ' ; so Wildeve has come into everything, without in the U.7) least expecting it." • it is an apt interjection that Wildeve's 17. p.370. - " • ~»" T ™ J ! T I " I K ~ T - • - - , -- 28 -pleasure a t h i s good-luck i s probably balanced by the r e a d e r ' s displeasure a t reading of i t : not because Wildeve does not merit the money(though that i s perhaps true) but because the incident i s sudden, adven t i t ious , and consequently forced. The f inal chance Bus tac ia ' s missing of Clym's l e t t e r — i s made so easy to bel ieve that I cannot r e f r a in from l e t t i n g i t speak for i t s e l f by quoting i t ; i t w i l l be remembered that the scene i s Captain Tye's house, and the time i s the night which Saatacia has determined for her escape with Wildeve: 'About ten o*clock there was a knock a t the 4oor. When the servant opened i t the rays of the candle f e l l upon the form of fairway. *" 1 was forsed to go to Lower Mistover to-night ,M he sa id ; and Mr. Teobright asked me to leave t h i s here on my way; but , f a i t h , X put i t in the l i n ing of my bat, and thought no more about i t t i l l I got back and was hasping my gate before going to bed. So I have run back with i t a t once." * He handed in a l e t t e r and went h i s way. The g i r l brought I t to the capta in , who found that i t was d i rec ted to Eustacia . Be turned i t over and over, and fancied that the wri t ing was her husband*a, though he could not be sure . However, he deduced to l e t her nave i t a t once i f poss ib le , and took i t ups t a i r s for that purpose; but on reaching the door of her room and looking in a t the keyhole he found there was no l i gh t wi th in , the fact being tha t Bustaoia, without undressing, had flung herse l f upon the bed, to - 29 -rest and gather a little strength for her coming journey. Her grandfather oonoluded from what he saw that he ought not to disturb her; and descending again to the parlour, he placed the letter on the mantelpiece to give it to her in the morning. • At eleven o'clock he went to bed himself, smoked for some time in his bedroom, put out hie light at half-past eleven and then, as was his invariable custom, polled up the blind before getting into bed, that he might see which way the wind blew on opening his eyes in the morning, his bedroom window commanding a view of the flagstaff and vane. Just as he had lain down he was surprised to observe the white pole of the staff flash into existence like a streak of phosphorus drawn downwards across the shade of night without. Only one explana-tion met this — a light had been suddenly thrown upon the pole from the direction of the house. As everybody had retired to rest the old man felt it necessary to get out of bed, open the window softly, and look to the right and left. Eustacia's bedroom was lighted up, and it was the shine from her window which had lighted the pole. Wondering what had aroused her he remained undecided at the window, and was thinki-ng of fetching the letter to slip it under her door, when he heard a slight brushing of garments on the partition dividing his room from the passage. ' The captain concluded that Eustacia, feeling wakeful, had gone for a book, and would have dismissed the matter as unimportant if he had not also heard her distinctly weeping. ". " .TSZ>r-.'- " r o ^ r n , , - , , - ^ . , . . , ^ „ , ^v « „ , - 30 -,M She is thinking of that husband of hers," he said to himself. "Ah, the silly goosel she had no business to marry him. I wonder if that letter is really his?" • He arose, and threw his boat-cloak round him, opened the door, and said, "Eustacia! " (There was no answer. "Eustacial " he repeated louder, "there is a letter on the mantelpiece for you." ' But no response was made to this statement save an imaginary one from the wind, which seemed to gnaw at the corners of the house, and the stroke of a few drops of rain on the windows. ' He went on to the landing, and stood waiting nearly five minutes. Still she did not return. He went back for a light, and prepared to follow her; but first he looked into her bedroom. There, on the outside of the quilt, was the impression of her form, showing that the bed had not been opened; and, what was more significant, she had not taken her candlestick downstairs. He was now thoroughly alarmed; and hastily putting on his clothes he descended to the front door* which he himself had bolted and locked. It was now unfastened. There was no longer any doubt that Eustacia had left the house at this midnight hour; and whither could she have gone? To follow her was almost impossible. Had the dwelling stood in an ordinary road, two persons setting out, one in each direction, might have made sure of overtaking her; but it was a hopeless task to seek for anybody on a heath in the dark *•• Perplexed what to do he looked into the parlour, (18) and was vexed to find that the letter still lay there untouched.• 18. p.439. E\"f'^iw^ryi-^zry3>-^.i-•>!.;• w ^^^^r^ ' ^ ' •^ ' ^"V" ' : :;•-••" •. •; - 31 -Sot very much can be said about this scene: It sneaks for i t s e l f . Hardy has here made chance seem the most natural thing in the world. To summarise: We have seen that the appearance of Venn on the heath was in i t s e l f probably not a chance at a l l , but that i t depended on h i s chance presence in "The Quiet Woman," which was plausible in i t s e l f , and made more so by additional preparation on Hardy's part. Clym's blindness was, on the other hand, lacking in conviction because of too brief and perfunctory preparation, not to mention a tendency to treat the matter in retrospect. The incidents leading to Mrs* Yeobrlght's death, though acceptable in themselves, were hardly credible to even the most believing reader because of their strange coincidence. Wildeve's inheritance was a melo-dramatic device, and a rather awkwardly managed one to boot; while Kustacia's missing of Clym's l e t t er was rendered seemingly most natural by ski l ful anticipation. Of the five incidents one is a coincidence, ami extremely hard to credit; two are chances which are accepted without much d i f f i cu l ty ; while two are chances made quite plausible by the author's e f for t s . This approximately represents the ratio between eas i ly credible chances and more or l e s s incredible ones in the ear l ier works of Hardy. But i t i s necessary to add that, in these, a more than usually remarkable chance i s generally equivalent to the coincidence in The Be turn of the Satirei there are no other coincidences -•'•^ .vr:?'~- ^':"i[V-": -• / v ; ^" ' \ r 7 i ' : - .~ ' ^ 1 5* i 7 ; : v . ; ' - : " \ v - : v T •' '•'••':;• T T - 32 -( in the Archerian sense of the word) in Hardy's novels . Of the three major chances in Desperate Remedies; Miss Aldclyffe 's engagement of her former lover*s daughter; her engagement of her son; and the sudden reve la t ion of the por te r a t the railway s t a t i o n — the f i r s t i s pure chance, without any attempt to make the matter p l aus ib l e ; the second i s more or l ess c r e d i b l e ; while the th i rd i s again hard to be l i eve . In Under the Greenwood Tree the chance tha t Parson Maybold has mver seen Sick Dewey and Fancy Day together , or heard of t h e i r a f f a i r , i s qui te incredible but we must not examine an i d y l l too c lose ly . In A Pai r of Blue Eyes the chance that Swancourt marries the one woman in whose power i t l i e s to effect an introduct ion between Elfr ide Swancourt and Knight i s very fa r -fetched and inadequately dea l t with. Mrs. Jethway's unfortunate presence a t the railway s t a t ion on the r e tu rn of Smith and Elfr ide i s a lso unconvincing. In Ear from the flfadding Crowd Oak' s second meeting with Bathsheba Everdene s t r i k e s one as a very unusual chance: and no effor t i s made to make i t seem commonplace. Banny Robin's mistake about the churches i s well prepared for by a preliminary explanation of the fact that the names of the churches are confusing. Troy's sweeping out to sea i s a chance which i s p lausible in i t s e l f : many are drowned on the dangerous Dorset coas t . In The Hand of Ethelberta Ch iokere l l ' s f a i lu re to prevent E the lbe r t a ' s marriage to Mountclere i s suf f ic ien t ly well accounted for ; and Mountclere's chance observation of Sol Ghickerell on the l a t t e r ' s v i s i t to Ethelberta i s qu i te p lausible in i t s e l f . - 33 -;:•• The inference is, that though Hardy only once in these earlier novels uses an incredible coincidence, he frequently arouses doubt in the reader's mind by failing to prepare for the chance incidents. It is also perhaps fair to say that chance (whether prepared for or not) occurs rather too frequently in this early work-to be palatable. From this it may be supposed that in a form which relies little upon chance for its development, the Hardian novel will be more convincing. This indeed turns out to be the case; for in the epic form which, dealing as it does with a single protagonist instead of three or four, requires proportionately less circumstantial accident for its development, Hardy almost entirely neglects chance. A device which further does away with necessity for chance is Hardy's treatment of the protagonist as the determinor of his own fate, instead of a being whose fate is determined by external forces. Of the three epic novels. The Mayor of Casterbridge is the best, considered simply as an epic. It is my intention to summarize this story, interjecting remarks at certain points to show how Hardy has, by his changed method of treatment, avoided the use of chance to a very great extent. The introductory part of the book runs as follows» Michael Henchard, a young hay-trusser in search of work, is nearing Weydon Priors, in company with his wife and child. On gaining the town he finds a fair being held, and takes his family into a booth kept by a certain Mrs. Goodenough, who sells furmity, and is not above "•e" * - 5» ., l - — - -y, - r - ^ - w ..^ - 34 -furnishing, for a considera t ion , rum to " lace" i t wi th . Henchard has several basins of t h i s furmity " laced" , and becomes drunlc. Then, i r r i t a t e d a t h i s w i fe ' s endeavors to get him away from the p lace , he offers to s e l l her to anyone who feefe disposed to buy. Edward Rewson, a s a i l o r , buys the wife and child for five guineas, and takes h i s new-bought family sway. When Henchard wakes up, the following morning, he makes every effor t to locate h i s l o s t wife and ch i ld . Unsuccessful, he swears not to touch drink for twenty years from tha t day* This i s the end of the prologue. Eighteen years l a t e r Mrs. Henchard and her daughter, having l o s t Newson the s a i l o r (he has been reported los t a t sea) seek out Henchard and find him mayor of Casterbr idge. (Shis incident may be compared with the second meeting of Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba. I t i s chance which br ings together these protagonis ts of an e a r l i e r novel : i t is the w i l l of Mrs. Henchard which brings Henchard and herse l f together in the l a t t e r book. The second method of effect ing a reunion i s far more common-place and ef fec t ive than the f i r s t ) . They discover t h a t , besides being mayor of the town, Henchard i s an aff luent corn dea le r , and i s furthermore engaged to marry a young lady, Luoetta, with whom he has been carrying on an a f f a i r . Henchard, however, r ea l i ze s his prime obl iga t ion to Mrs. Henchard, and breaks h i s engagement with Lucetta in order to re-marry his wife . On the same evening on which Mrs. Henchard a r r ives a t - 35 Casterbr idge , a young Scotchman named Earfrae malces h is appearance t he r e . He i s instrumental in ge t t i ng Henchard out of a business d i f f i c u l t y , and Henchard, g r a t e fu l , offers him a pos i t i on which the corn-dealer has already half-promised to another . i a r f rae accepts , and when Jopp (the other man) a r r i ve s he finds that h i s place has already been f i l l e d . Jopp depar t s , vowing vengeance on Henchard and Barfrae. Under B&rfrae's management Henchard's business prospers , but the Sco t ' s popular i ty becomes so great tha t the mayor i s ga l led , and dismisses him. ferfrae s e t s up a business for himself a t Durnover H i l l . Henchard marries h i s wife , and they l i v e happily for some time* After a few months, however, Mrs. Henchard d i e s . She leaves behind a l e t t e r which she s t a t e s i s to be opened by Henchard a f t e r the marriage of El izabeth-Jane, her daughter. The l e t t e r happens to be badly sealed, and Henchard, who i s nothing i f not inconsequential when so inc l ined , opens i t , and finds that Elizabeth-Jane whom he has cherished as h is daughter, i s not h i s a t a l l , but the child of Newson, h i s own daughter having died when an infant . (Here again i t i s seemingly Henchard's wi l l which decides future events: not chance, as in the case of Bus tac ia ' s missing of the l e t t e r from Clym. There i s no doubt, however, tha t the Clym-Eustacia incident i s extremely well done, and i s qui te as convincing as the catastrophe which a r i s e s out of Henchard's a c t i o n ) . This information embit ters Henchard agains t - 36 El izabeth-Jane , and he t r e a t s her so badly tha t the g i r l decides to go and l ive elsewhere. She accepts an offer extended by Lucet ta , and takes up lodgings with her . Farfrae, who has been cour t ing El izabeth-Jane , thus meets Lucetta, and t r ans f e r s h i s a f fec t ion to her . They marry. Henchard conducts h is business r a sh ly , and i s ruined. Farfrae purchases most of h i s e f fec ts and removes h i s business to Henchard's old premises: he employs Henchard as a hay- t russe r . The former mayor i s now l i v i n g with Jopp, the man whom he ers twhi le refused a half-promised p o s i t i o n . His daughter i s in lodgings. After her marriage with Farfrae, Lucetta i s anxious to get possession of the l e t t e r s which she has wri'tten to Henchard, and asks the hay- t russer for them. He sends Jopp with the l e t t e r s . Jopp unscrupulously opens the packet to see what i s contained, and so becomes acquainted with the r e l a t i o n s which have exis ted between Henchard and Lucet ta . He pays a v i s i t to a low inn ca l led " P e t e r ' s Finger", where the scum of Casterliridge are in the habit of meeting. To some of these he t e l l s the s tory of Lucetta and Henchard, and in order that he may revenge himself on Farfrae he arranges a Skimmington Ride, which i s duly car r ied out . Lucetta sees the leading figure i s intended for herse l f , and the shock of the public reve la t ion k i l l s her . (Again i t i s not iceable tha t Jopp 's w i l l decides the ca tas t rophe , and no t , as in The Return of the Nat ive . Dlggory Venn's ignorance about the ownership of the money). - 37 One day Newson, who was erroneously reported drowned, comes to Casterbridge to claim his daughter. He interviews Henchard, who tells him she is dead. Too much shocked to linger and further pursue his enquiries, Newson departs. Earfrae renews his attentions to Elizabeth-Jane, and marries her. Henchard goes to the marriage-feast, but receives a cold welcome from his daughter, who has discovered the deceit he practised on her father. Stung to the quick, Henchard leaves abruptly. Some two months later he is found dead on the lonely heath. (This last incident may be compared to the estrangement between Mrs. Yeobright and Clym. While Henchard voluntarily leaves his daughter's house and wanders about, careless of life, eventually to die, Mrs. Yeobright's death is caused by a chance misunderstanding This story, depending as it does, not on chance, but on the various voluntary movements of the characters, has a conviction not found anywhere in his earlier novels. One can say without reservation that the tale is credible; there is no necessity to avoid scrutinizing any of the parts of the novel. What has been said of this may also be applied without reservation to Jude the Obscure, and (to a large, but not so great, extent) to Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Jude fawley, for instance, goes back to Arabella Donn because he desires her: his actions are not governed by chance, of like those Eustacia, who elopes with Wildeve because he has suddenly come into a fortune. Sot too, with Tess: she goes baeJc - 38 to Alec D'Urbervil le because she i s apparently a f f l i c f t e d with a c e r t a i n form of heredi tary sexual weakness. There i s na tu ra l ly , some element of chance in a l l these novels , espec ia l ly in Tess of the D'Urbervl l lss (for ins tance, her meeting with Alec D'Urbervil le on her re tu rn from Eosoinster) but not suff ic ient to oppress the reader with a sense of u n r e a l i t y . I do not think any one can deny that these three epic novels s t r i k e one as being l e s s far-fetched than what hare been termed toe dramatic novels* To sum up* I t has been shown tha t Hardy did not use coincidence to any extent in h i s novels , only one example of t h i s device being found. I t was further seen tha t Hardy impaired the ver i s imi l i tude of h i s e a r l i e r books by h i s somewhat casual way of employing chance: by not always preparing for i t s u f f i c i e n t l y . l a s t l y , i t has been seen that when Hardy adopts a form which does not necess i ta te the use of chance, he a t once becomes more convincing; h i s novels have greater ve r i s im i l i t ude . I t seems a safe conclusion to make that though much of the chance which Hardy uses in h is e a r l i e r work i s c r e d i b l e , enough i s incredible to mar the t o t a l effect of his s t o r i e s to some ex ten t . And so, along-side Dr. Chew's statement: "frankly, i t must be admitted that Hardy often follows h is natural bent towards the mysterious and improbable to the point where he overreaches himself in the employment of coincidence," may be placed an addi t ional onet "While there la no objection to Thomas Hardy following h i s natural bent towards the mysterious and improbable, - 39 -he should realize the demands of narrative technique,adequate preparation* Since he has not done so consistently in his earlier novels, it is Just to say that these are weakened somewhat. The later novels, owing to the fact that their structure does not demand so much pure technique, do not fall under this criticism." This seems to he the fairest answer to the question: "Does Hardy's use of chance and coincidence impair the verisimilitude of his novela?" 40 -I I THE GROWTH OF HABDY'S lilCTAFHYjlQ Ilj HIS HOVELS. That the f requent use of chance i n Hardy i s not due merely to l a c k of s t r u c t u r a l a b i l i t y on h i s p a r t has a l r e a d y been sugges ted . What i t does c h i e f l y owe i t s e x i s t e n c e to i s a ve ry i n t e r e s t i n g s tudy . Dr . Chew sugges t s Hardy ' s r eason for u t i l i z i n g chance i n the concluding s en t ences of a passage a l r e a d y quoted i n t h i s e s s a y ; ' . . . Hardy senses and i n the endeavor to b r i n g i t home to the r eader exaggera t e s the thv-a f a c t o r . His ind ic tment a g a i n s t l i f e i s t h a t i t i s so ordered t h a t such chances a s occur a g a i n and a g a i n i n the nove ls d i c t a t e o f t e n t h e misery or happ iness of human c r e a t u r e s . Dr . Chew i s simply saying he re t h a t chance i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t of Hardy ' s p h i l o s o p h y . Sow the q u e s t i o n a r i s e s : Where i s Hardy ' s p h i l o s o p h y , or metaphysic expressed i n h i s nove l s? Host r e a d e r s of the V/essefc n o v e l i s t know a good dea l about h i s view of l i f e from r e a d i n g The Dynas ts ; but how many have ever t r o u b l e d t o s tudy the growth of t h a t ph i losophy through the nove ls to i t s f u l l e s t e x p r e s s i o n i n t h i s l a s t g r e a t work of Hardy? I f we now do t h i s , we may be rewarded, not only w i t h the p l e a s u r e of watching a g r e a t mind f l u c t u a t e back and f o r t h i n i t s s ea r ch for t r u t h , but a l s o w i th an e x p l a n a t i o n of the u b i q u i t y of chance i n h i s work. 1 . See page •*•-* ••:""••.•': •••^"-•••^ • "T: "TV •.,..;!;• i.j, ;•» ••- • ^'"'-~-}: :-.•-7\':::-.-—•;( .a-.TTiv.^,-- 41 -Before beginning t h i s study, however, a few remarks as to the method of study r e q u i s i t e are necessary. I t i s , in the f i r s t p l a c e , qu i te c lea r that we may find impl ic i t in the various developments of p lo t contained in his books t h i s philosophy of l i f e . The fac t , for ins tance , that Gabriel Oak chances to fa l l asleep in a wagon which passes by Bathsheba Bverdene's burning hay-rick, contains fcmts in i t s e l f a phase of Hardy's metaphysic: but^nothing suf f ic ien t ly de f in i t e about t h i s . Yvhat we des i r e i s a more or l e s s exp l i c i t statement by the author himself as to what he bel ieves to be the forces which govern t h i s world. Statements of t h i s kind we sha l l f ind, f i r s t , in phi losophical i n t e rpo l a t i ons ; secondly, in passages where though no d i r e c t statement i s expressed, the idea within Hardy's mind i s qu i te obvious; t h i r d l y , in many, but not by any means a l l , of the remarfcs which the w r i t e r ' s characters pass upon the r idd le of ex is tence . I t i s the in tent ion in t h i s essay to use passages of the f i r s t and second type exclus ively , leaving those of the th i rd ra ther severly a lone . The reason i s t h i s : frequently the views expressed by the characters have a d i f f e r en t i a t i ng qual i ty about them, a s , of course , should be the case in a l l good character -i za t ion . Thus, though a charaoter may express a view somewhat s imi lar to the one we believe Hardy to hold, yet that character may have been made to vary that view to a very mater ia l degree, for the simple reasoft that Hardy na tura l ly does not wish to have i t said of - 42 -him tha t he uses h is charac te rs as h i s mouthpiece. On the other hand, in Jude the Obscure (and sometimes in Tess of the S'Ubervjilles 1 Hardy qui te obviously uses h i s charac ters to express h is own p a r t i c u l a r view. But the great and almost insurmountable d i f f i c u l t y i s to t e l l , even in Jude the Ob scute , when i t i s Hardy speaking, and when Jude or Sue Bridehead. For t h i s reason i t i s safest not to quote expressions of the characters themselves as examples of Hardy's metaphysio. The d i f f i c u l t y in that novel in which Hardy qui te frankly c admits that the principles observed in its composition are, no doubt, too exclusively those in which mystery, entanglement, surprise, and moral obliquity are depended on Air exciting interest, namely. Desperate Remedies, is to discover any passage at all which contains even the vaguest hint of Hardy's metaphysic. There is, however, a single descriptive passage near the Middle of the book which contains a few WSSJBJO but encouraging hints. The fire which is subsequently supposed to have caused the death of Manston's wife, is described thus: ' By eleven, everybody in the house was asleep. It truly seemed as if the treacherous element knew where had arisen a grand opportunity for devastation* ' At a quarter past eleven a slight stealthy crackle made itself heard amid the increasing moans of the night wind; the heap glowed brighter still, and burst into flame; the flame sank, another breeze entered it, sustained it, and it grif to be first contimious and weak, then continuous and strong. - 43 -• At twenty minutes past eleven a blast of wind carried an airy b i t of ignited fern several yards forward, in a direct ion paral le l to the houses and the inn, and there deposited i t on the ground. • Five minutes la ter another puff of wind carried a similar piece to a distance of five-and-twenty yards, where i t also was dropped so f t ly on the ground. ' S t i l l the wind did not blow in the direction of the houses, and even to a casual observer they would have appeared safe. But Nature dues few things d irec t ly . A minute later yet an ignited fragment f e l l upon the straw covering a long thatched heap or 'grave* of mangel-wurzel, lying in a direction at right angles to the house, and down toward the hedge. There the fragment faded to darkness. ' A short time subsequent to t h i s , after many intermediate deposits and seemingly baffled attempts, another fragment f e l l on the mangel-wurzel grave, and continued to glow; the glow was increased by the wind; the straw caught f ire and burst Into flame. I t was inevitable that the flame should run along the ridge of the thatch towards a piggery at the end. Yet had the piggery been t i l e d , the time-honoured hostel would even now at ta le l a s t moment have been safe; but i t was constructed as piggeries are mostly constructed, of wood and thatch. The hurdles and straw roof of the frai l erection became ignited in their torn, and abutting as the shed did on the back of the inn, flamed up to ta t eaves of the main roof in l e s s than - 44 -, (2) thirty seconds. Apart from the descriptive excellence of the above passage, there are three facts worth noting: first, that there is a tentative, yet nevertheless obvious suggestion that behind this incident may be the conscious maieirolent will of a Prime Cause: 'It truly seemed as if the treacherous element knew where had arisen a grand opportunity for devastation.* Secondly, the sentence 'Nature does few things directly' seems to hint that this First Cause and Nature are one and the same. It is possible, of course, that Hardy (if,indeed, the idea has as yet any conscious form in his mind) means us to understand that nature is simply the agent through which the Prime Cause works; but, on the face of what is written, we may suppose that the two -the Prime Cause and Nature - are one and the same. Thirdly, the fact that the sparks are 'successful' in eventually setting fire to the inn despite several failures, suggests that the Prime Cause, whether it is identical with Nature or not, is not only conscious and evil, but is in addition indefatigable, remorseless, inevitable. There is little other philosophical comment, direct or indirect, - certainly none of any greater significance than the passage just quoted - in this, the earliest of Hardy's novels. Nor, for that matter, is there very much in the idyll which followed it, Under the Greenwood Tree. In this book Hardy is completely concerned in relating the story, and only once or twice draws attention to the uMercurrent - most iotably in this excerpt: 2. Desperate Remedies, p.204. - 45 -• A single vast grey cloud covered all the country, from which the small rain and mist had Just begun to blow down in wavy sheets, alternately thick and thin. The trees of the fields and plantations writhed like miserable men as the air.wound its way swiftly among themi the lowest portions of their trunks, that had hardly even been known to move, were visibly, rocked by the fiercer gusts, distressing the mind by its painful unwontedness, as when a strong man is seen (3) to shed tears . One is inclined to think that Hardy has now definitely made up his mind as to whether or not Nature (that is, natural, phenomena collectively) is identical with the Prime Cause. Here is a fairly explicit .passage showing that the trees are troubled by a force superior to them. It may be said with Justice that the wind it a natural phenomenon itself, and that, rather than show that Nature is subject to a supernatural force, this excerpt merely shows the conflict between two natural phenomena* But I believe that Hardy, like all other men, has a sub-conscious feeling that the wind is the special agent of a superior Prime Cause, and not to be regarded merely as one of the phenomenons of Nature. Short is something intangible, ghostly, about the wind which produces almost irresistibly the feeling that it has nothing ia conmon with trees, rooks, and the earth. It is worthy of remark that another note is lightly touched upon in the sentence: 'their trunks, that had hardly over been known to move, wow visibly rooked by the fiercer gusts, distressing the mind by its painful unwontedness, as when a strong man is soon to shed 8. Under the Greenwood 'i'reo. p.211 - 46 -t e a r s . * Hardy, for the f i r s t tiaie, suggests that tiiere may be mutual sympathy between Kature, the sufferer , and -an, the sufferer . Thus the f i r s t l ink in Hardy's chair; of philosophy i s forged; though not very firmly forged, of course , and qui te l i k e l y to become broken a t the iapos i t ion of the s l i g h t e s t p ressure . Pecul iar ly enough, the fact that Hardy's metaphysic had not only fai led as yet to become formalized, but was even an inconsistent quan t i ty , i» evinced in h i s th i rd book which is r ea l ly his f i r s t notable work. - A, Fair of Blue gyoe* the book i s wr i t ten in an easy ana r a the r de l igh t fu l ly wwlft s t y l e , and t h i s i s , as w i l l be obvious, not p a r t i c u l a r l y su i t ab le for philosophic r e f l e c t i o n . so we would hardly aspect to receive Much help in a study of Hardy's metaphysic from a reading of t h i e book and t h i s indeed i s the case . But there i s one p a r t i c u l a r seen* which- suggests that the various phenomena of Bature instead of being subject to the ru le of the F i r s t Cause, con-sciously s t ruggle the one against the other for super io r i ty . "The inveterate antagonism of these black prec ip ices to a l l s t rugglers for l i f e i s l a no way i»ore forcibly suggested than by the ptuol ty of tu f t s of I*) grass , l i chens , or confervae on t he i r outermost edges. Here the shrubs are described as fighting against a fellow - t>henomenon, the p rec ip ice , for the i r l ives - not against a superior foroe which controls both the precipice arid the shrubs. Shortly a f t e r th i s passage Hardy sees** to go back to the or ig ina l concept - that the Cause controls the fate of a i l natural phenomena! 'nature seems to have moods in - 47 -other than a poetical sense; predilections for certain deeds at certain times, without any apparent law to govern or season to account for them. She is read as a person with a curious temper; as one who does not scatter kindnesses and cruelties alternately, unpartially and in order, but heartless severities or overwhelming generosities in law-less caprice. Man's case is always that of the prodigal's favorite or the miser's pensioner. In her unfriendly moments there seems a feline fun in her tricks, begotten by a foretaste of her pleasure in ,15) swallowing the victim. As a matter of fact, there is no inconsist-ency between the two views. Hardy's vision, assisted perhaps by a perusal of the evolutionist theories which so profoundly affected the later Victorian literature, has widened: he sees that not only may there be a Cause controlling the phenomena of life, but that the phenomena themselves may also have a certain amount of will. They may, though in a far less degree, be imbued with power to fight for their existence. And there is a further point to be noted in connection with the second passage: Hardy is quite obviously becoming struck with the seemingly lawlessness of life and all its concomitants: 'Nature seems to have «•• predilections for certain deeds at certain times, without any apparent law to govern or season to account for them.* This is an entirely new and contradictory note; it is the expression of a view quite the opposite to what is implied in the rest of the passage - in fact, quite different from anything Hardy has as yet said in connection with what Meredith terms hio topmo his twilight view of life.' It is the expression 5. A Pair of Blue Eyes, p.254 - 48 -of a doubt as to whether the Prime Cause has really any very definite idea as to what it is doing with the world. That this doubt develops into a further embellishment of the Hardian philosophy we shall see in due time„ There is perhaps less philosophic interpolation in that most delightful boofc, Bar from the Madding Crowd, than there is in Under the Greenwood Tree. Hardy, as also in a later work. The Trumpet Major, devotes little time to his philosophical asides. It is the story which, concerns him primarily. Uhat little metaphysical interjection occurs in the book marks no advance in thought on that which we find in A, Pair of Blue Eyes. The Hand of Ethelberta is written with rather too rapid a pen to tend itself to direct philosophic reflection. The novel was submitted serially to a magazine and, except for a rather delightful opening, is almost as poor stuff as is found in the average magazine of to-day. Only once is there a faint hint of the undercurrent; This occurs when Ethelberta has made, and failed in, her attempt to escape from Lord Mountclere, her somewhat ancient and very disagreeable husband. As Ethelberta drives home in the carriage with Mountclere 'the large trees on either nand became interspersed by a low brushwood of various sorts, from which a large bird occasionally flew, in its affright at their presence beating its wings recklessly against the (6) hard stems with force fcnough* to cripple the delicate quills.' 6. The Hand of Ethelberta. p.464. - 49 -With a little imagination the action of the bird may be compared to that of Ethelberta, who has, in her distress and affright, attempted unsuccessfully to beat her way out of a virtual prison. The element of sympathetic suffering between man and Nature at the tends of a malevolent First Cause is seemingly still Hardy's concept of the universe. The difference in tone between The Hand of Ethelberta and the book which followed it is almost too great to be comprehensible. The Be torn of the native is a work full of sombre deep thought, some of it suggested, and some of it directly expressed. A great deal of time could be spent on the frequent philosophic passages of this v.ork, but the purpose of this essay is served in studying one or two characteristic and significant passages. The first of these is contained in the magnificent organ-like opening of the book: 'The place became full of watchful intentness now; for when other things sank brooding to sleep the heath appeared slowly to awake and listen. Every night its Titanic form seemed to await something; but it waited thus, uamoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so many things, that it could only be imagined to await one last crisis - the final overthrow. * It was a spot which returned upon the memory of those who loved it with an aspect of peculiar and kindly congruity. Smiling ohampaigns of flowers and fruit hardly do this, for they are permanently harmonious only with an existence of better reputation as - 50 -to its issues than the present. Twilight combined with the scenery of Egdon Heath to evolve a thing majestic without severity, impressive without showiness, emphatic in its admonitions, grand in its simplicity. The qualifications which frequently invest the facade of a prison with far more dignity than is found in the faced? of a palace double its sise lent to this heath a sublimity in which spots renowned. for beauty of the accepted kind are utterly wanting. fair prospects wed happily with fair times; but alas, if times be not fair! Men have oftener suffered from the mockery of a place too smiling for their reason than from the oppression of surroundings over-sadly tinged. Haggard Egdon appealed to a subtler and scarcer instinct, to a more recently learned emotion, than that which responds to the sort of beauty called charming and fair. • Indeed, it is a question if the exclusive reign of this orthodox beauty is not approaching its last quarter. The new Vale of Tempje may be a gaunt waste in Thule: human souls may find themselves in closer and closer harmony with external things wearing somtrecess -: distasteful to our race when it is young. The time seems near, if it has not actually arrived, when the chastened sublimity of a moor, a sea, or a mountain will be all of nature that is absolutely in keeping with the moods of the more thinking among mankind, and, ultimately, to the commonest tourist, spots like Iceland may become what the vineyards and myrtle-gardens of Southern Europe are to him now* and Heidelberg and Baden be passed unheeded as he - 51 -hastens from the Alps to the Sand-Dunes of Scheveningen * I t was a t present a place pe r fec t ly accordant with man's nature - ne i ther ghas t ly , hateful , nor ugly: ne i ther commonplace, unmeaning, nor tame; but , l i ke man, s l ighted and enduring; and withal s ingular ly colossal and mysterious in i t s swarthy monotony. As with some persons who have long lived apa r t , sol i tude seemed to look out of i t s countenance, I t had a lonely face, suggesting (7) tragical p o s s i b i l i t i e s . I t w i l l be seen that Hardy1s philosophy i s now reaching a fully coherent s t age . Egdon i s described as being the epitome of a l l natural phenomena, ai.d for tha t reason embracing man in i t s sufferings There i s sympathy, harmony, between nature and 13an: Man receives the impulse for a l l h i s moods from Hature. When Hature i s gay, Man i s incl ined to be happy; when Man sees Nature sombre, he tends to become thoughtful, morose: and Hardy conjectures that Man of the present day i s perhaps more contented in t h i s sombre heavy frame of mind. But no matter what Man's mood, he i s always dependent upon Hature for i t s i n sp i r a t i on ; he i s an in tegra l par t of Nature. So far there i s nothing r ad ica l ly different in Hardy's view. Hature and Man are co-sufferers a t the mercy of the Prime Cause. But there i s a sentence which shows that the germ of the idea which f i r s t appeared in A Pa i r of Blue Ijfres i s growing slowly but surely: • Every night i t s Ti tanic form seemed to await something; but i t had waited 7. The Return of the na t ive , p . 4 - 5 . - 52 -thus, unmoved, during so many centuries, through the crises of so many things, that it could ..nlv be imagined to await one last crisis -the final overthrow.* The significant, word, of course is 'unmoved.' Hardy, at this stage in his search for the truth coic jrning the Prime Cause, is imbued with the idea that this great force must be conscious of the weal and woe which its impulses produce, yet quite impassive, quite unmoved, as to this tragedy. This idea Is emphasized further on in the book: Clym Yeobright, in the midst of his trouble, is (8) seised with a strong consciousness, of vast impassivity ' in a l l which l i e * about him on the Heath.* This slowly-developing idea i s , when car r ied a l i t t l e further (as i t i s l a t e r ) the f inal and ooa|>leiaentary phase of Hardy's philosophy. He has shown by th i s time that he is quite ewavineed that 'Ms.n and Bature suffer together under the d i c t a t e s or impulse of an inexorable F i rs t Cause; he i s now a t t e s t i n g to a r r i v e a t some logical and sa t i s fac to ry conclusion as to the nature of that Cause. In The Beturn of the Native his philosophy is coherent, but not quite as fully developed as i t i s destined to becoioe. The Trumpet jjajor again displays Hardy in a non-reflect ive mood. The book proceeds in a vigorous and a t t r a c t i v e manner to i t s end: not once does Hardy stop to draw conclusions; not once does he write a sentence in which any par t of his philosophy i s imp l i c i t . He is concerned with wri t ing a nar ra t ive , and froa thig point of view a loae , he never wrote u b e t t e r : The Trumpet Major i s the bes t - to ld of 6. The Be turn of the na t ive . p.403 - 53 -all his books - but it is not characteristically Hardian. . The reflective mord, though it has many opportunities to insinuate .itself, (9) notably when Bob and John Love&ay "Kill sheen in the garden, and {10} when Anne is on the Beal a lone, - does not make i t s appearance. On the other imw, trie book which follows The Trumpet Major gives the reader the impression, in i t s f i r s t pages, of being dedicated to philosophy. The f i r s t chapter of A Laodicean contains a good deal of Hardy's ref lec t ion on l i f e in general . There i s , however, only ane passage which is r ea l ly s ignif icant for our examination, and to th i s too much importance cannot be at tached: » I t i s an old s to ry , and perhaps only deserves the l igh t tone in which the •oar ing of a young man into the ecipyrean and his descent again, i s always narra ted . But as has often ueen sa id , the l ight and the t ru th Bay be on the side of t a dreamer; a far wider niew than the wise ones have ©ay be his a t the r e c a l c i t r a n t .iiae, and his reduction to a common measure may be nothing less than a t rag ic event. The operation cal led lunging, in which a bai tered col t i s cade to t r o t round and round as horsebreaAer who holds the rope, t i l l the beholder grows d l iy in looking a t theia, is a very unhappy one for the animal concerned. During i t s progress the col t springs upward, across the c i r c l e , stops, f l i e s over the tu r f with the veloci ty of a b i rd , and indulges in a l l so r t s of graceful an t i c s ; but he always ends in one way - thanks to ®* The Trumpet Kajor p.164. 10. The Trumpet tojor p.314. - 54 -the "knotted whipcord - in a level t ro t round the lunger with the regula r i ty of a hor izonta l wheel, and in the loss forever to his character and the bold contours which the find hand of Hature rave i t . Yet the process i s considered the snaking of him.' " I t seems aa i f Hardy has again reverted to the idea that the dest iny of Man i s control led by a consciously malevolent force, and not a merely indifferent one. But i t i s not des i rable to pursue the argument too far . I t i s qui te poss ible that Hardy a t t h i s stage in his career had l i t t l e conscious idea of what h i s philosophy r ea l ly was. The idea was the re , and was fa i r ly cons is ten t , but l ike a l l ideas of the kind, did not deoaand a mathematical exacti tude of i n t e rp re t a t i on . Hardy's s imile seems to me a ra ther s t r i k ing one, however, and deserves mention in cozmfcection with his metaphysic. Ear more s ignif icant i s a sentence which comes a good deal further on in the book: Referring to some storks which are flying about above Charlot te de Staney and Panla Power, Hardy wr i t e s : 'The birds were crossing and recrossing the f ield of the glass in the i r f l ight h i ther and th i the r between the Strassburg chimneys, t he i r sad grey forms sharply outl ined against the sky, and the i r skinny legs showing beneath l ike toe limbs of dead martyrs in C r l v e l l i ' s emaciated imaginings. The indifference of these b i rds to a l l that was going on beneath them impressed her : to harmonize with the i r solemn and s i l en t movements the houses beneath should have been deser ted, and the grass growing (12) in the s t r e e t s . ' In t h i s passage the storks are of course 12. A. Laodicean, pp.339-340 - 55 -symbolic of the F i r s t Cause, which is so indifferent ( in Hardy's view) to a l l the desola t ion , sorrow, and agony of the world beneath. What is worth noting- i s that t h i s idea is not in any way dif ferent from that which is expressed frequently in The Return of the Native. The passage, which i s the only one of i t s kind in the book is proof that Hardy had proceeded no further as yet in h is philosophic development! he s t i l l imagines the Prime Cause as a conscious, i f ind i f fe rent , force. a Nor i s there any percep t ib le advance in Two on Tower. Actual ly , Hardy seems to have gone back in no uncer ta in manner to h i s or-ig ina l idea of Prime Cause. In t h i s book he t r ea t s i t as conscious and malevolent, not conscious and impassive as he does in The Return of the Native* An excerpt which shows Hardy qui te de f in i t e ly conceiving the Unknown to be malevolent occurs f a i r l y ear ly in the book; gwithin S t C!eev<> and Lady Constantine are in the Rings-Hill Speer one windy night , when a strong wind springs up. Swithitt;, by way of calming any fears that Lady Constantine may have as regards the safety of t he i r pos i t i on , informs her that the wind can do the tower no harm. 'And, as if to s t u l t i f y Swithin assumption, a c i r cu la r hurr icane, exceeding inviolence any that had preceded i t , seized hold upon Rings-Hill Speer a t that moment with the determination of a conscious agent. The f i r s t sensation of resulting' catastrophe was conveyed to the i r in te l l igence by the flapping of the candle-flame against the l an te rn -g lass ; then the wind, which h i ther to they had heard ra ther than f e l t , rubbed past them l ike a fug i t ive . 3w*thin beheld around and above him, in place of the concavity - 56 -of the dome, the open heaven, with i t s racing cloves, remote horizon, and in termit tent gleans of s t a r s . The dome th..t ted covered the tower had "been whirled bodily off; and they heard i t descend crashing upon the t r e e s . . . ' Having executed its grotesque purpose, the wind sank: to (13) compara t ive mildness.' km again, towards the close of the book, of Lady Constantino T in her embarassiaer.t Hardy says: 'iiature was forcing her hand at this game; and to what will not &ature compel her weaker victims, in extremes?' •JSature' is obviously synonymous with the 'First Cause' here. In both passages the dominant idea is that the First Cause, working through a natural medium in each case, is not merely conscious of the woe it inflicts upon Man and Mature, but is desirous of inflicting this pain: a concept which varies a shade or two from aetaphysic expressed in The Return of the Rative. The fair conclusion to draw from this vacillation between the First Cause as active or passive is that Hardy was gradually approaching- the stage when, consciously or more or less consciously, he was about to accept the one iaea or the other: the belief either that the First Cause is sentient or that it is impassive. It is quite probable that from now on Hardy will definitely adopt the one vie. or the other: at this particular stage it seems as if he is inclined to adopt the view of the Prime Cause sentient as final. IS. Two on a Tower, p.123. - 57 -Strangely enough, The Mayor of Casterbridee. which appeared some four years after Two on a Tower, shows a trend of philosophic thought seemingly different from that of the book immediately preceding it; seemingly different, in fact, from anything Hardy had as yet done. The novelist had evidently decided that his next work would be an innovation; so he formed it on the Aristotelian principle - 'Man is his own destiny.1 Naturally, the evil influence of the Prime Cause is somewhat neglected in such a^ork, unless the faults of the protagonists (which cause their downfall) be attributed to this force: an entirely logical proceeding, of course, but not very perfectly appreciated by even the most fatalistic mind. We do not often connect a drunkard's drunkenness with weaknesses that God has placed in the ..An, but rather to weakness which the drunkard In question has encouraged by his lack of effort. So It is with Michael Henchard: 11*) although the Prime Cause has a good deal to do with h i s f a l l . Hardy never mentions the force in t h i s connection. For ins tance , when owing to adverse weather condi t ions , Hencnard i s rained, Hardy says not a word about a conscious and malevolent Cause which brings about t h i s ca tas t rophe . I t may be inferred that Hardy r ea l l y does bel ieve that the Prime Cause i s respons ib le , but tha t he does not wish to emphasize the point - for a p a r t i c u l a r reason. The reason i s that he wishes to draw a t t e n t i o n to the s ignif icance of the weaker w i l l , the w i l l of Man in l i f e . The w i l l of the Prime Cause is s t i l l very 14, The Mayor of Casterbr idge. pp.220-230. - 58 -much in evidence, but in no spec i f ic wayj the w i l l of man, far weaker, i s emphasized. The r e s u l t , of course , i s t e r r i f i c i rony; for we see Man choosing h i s own f a t e , and we feel tha t he is r e a l l y not doing any-thingpf the kind: tha t he i s s t i l l obeying the d i c t a t e s of a superior Wi l l . The lash in the t a i l of the following passage e f fec t s Hardy's i ron io purpose f ine ly : Henchard awakes to the fact tha t h i s wife has r ea l ly l o f t him for Hewson, the s a i l o r - * He rose and walked to the entrance with the careful t read of one conscious of h is a lcohol ic loads Some others followed, and they stood looking in to the twi l igh t* The difference between the peace fulness of in fe r io r nature and the wi l fu l h o s t i l i t i e s of mankind was very apparent a t t h i s p l a c e . In con t ra s t with the harshness of the ac t ju s t ended wi thin the ten t was the s ight of several horses crossing t he i r necks and rubbing each other lovingly as they waited in pat ience to be harnessed for the homeward Journey. Outside the f a i r , in the va l leys and woods, a l l was q u i e t . The sun had recent ly s o t , and the west heaven was hung with a rosy cloud, which seemed permanent, yet slowly changed. To watch i t was l i ke looking a t some grand feat of stagery from a darkened auditorium. In the presence of t h i s scene, a f t e r the o ther , there was a na tura l i n s t i n c t to abjure man as the blot on an otherwise kindly universe ; t i l l i t was remembered that a U t e r r e s t r i a l condit ions were i n t e rmi t t en t , and that mankind might some night be innocently sleeping when these quie t objects were raging loud.* (15) 15 . The Mayor of Casterbr idge, pp.13-14 - 59 -For a moment one i s led to believe tha t Hardy conceives Man to he the chief d i s tu rb ing factor in t h i s world; and immediately afterwards that be l i e f i s shown to be i l l - founded: The Prime Cause i s the dominant factor - f i r s t , l a s t , always. I t i s c lear that in varying the s t r e s s of h i s philosophy Hardy does not ac tua l ly add anything to i t . Although he has struck a somewhat d i f fe ren t chord, the instrument i s keyed in exactly the same fashion as i t was before he played the philosophical fugue of Two on a Tower; there i s no change in Hardy's metaphysic, or a t l eas t there i s no expressed change. We sha l l have to proceed to h is next book to see i f there has been any divergence in h i s view of the r e l a t i o n of th ings . The Woodlanders shows'no far ther development i n the basic ideas of Hardy's philosophy. I t does, however, develop a c e r t a i n phase of i t to the f u l l : the close r e l a t i o n between Man and Nature i s very beaut i fu l ly and very emphatically shown. The t ree-p lan t ing (16) scene has more than the obvious purpose of displaying the close sympathy between Giles Winterborne and Marty South through a common medium; i t a lso makes the man, wh© i s not inclined to study natural phenomena very c lose ly , conscious of the extraordinary harmony between himself and what he had h i the r to considered as p r a c t i c a l l y inanimate forms of l i f e . Such a passage as the following shows that Hardy, a t l e a s t , has managed to ident i fy himself with Nature to an extraordinary degree: 'The casual glimpses which the ordinary population bestowed upon that wondrous world of sap and leaves ca l led the Hinlock woods had been with these two, Giles and Marty, a clear 16. The Woodlanders. p.64 - 60 -gaze. They had teen possessed of i t s finer mysteries as of common-plaoe Knowledge; had been able to read i t s hieroglyphics as ordinary wri t ing? to them the s ights and sounds of night , winter , wind, storm amid those dense boughs, which had to grace a touch of the uncanny, and eren the supernatural , were simple touches, occurrences whose or ig in , continuance, and laws they foreknew. Vhey had planted together, and together they had fe l led; together they had, with the run of years , mentally col lec ted those remoter signs and symbols which, seen in few, were of runic obscur i ty , but a l l together made an a lphabet . From the l i g h t lashing of the twigs upon t h e i r faces, when brushing through them in the dark, they could prounce upon the species of the t r ee whence they s t re tched; from the qual i ty of the wind 's murmur through a bough they could in l ike manner name i t s sor t afar off. They knew by a glance at a trunk i f i t s heart were sound, or ta in ted with incipient decay, and by the s t a te of i t s upper wings the stratum that had been reached by i t s roo t s . The a r t i f i c e s of the seasons were seen by them from the conjuror ' s own point of view, and not from that of the spectator 's ,• So, too , could Hardy see from the conjuror ' s po in t , though perhaps he could not hare been so familiar with the forest as these two chi ldren of nature; and, seeing, he real ized to the full the close connection between human l i f e and a l l other ear thly l i f e . But apar t from th i s amplification of a pa r t i cu la r phase of h is philoafphy. Hardy adds nothing to the metaphysic expressed in Two oq a Tower.' Indeed, the s imi l a r i ty between one passage a l ready-quoted In toe abore book and another in The Woodlaaders i s quite - 61 -s t r i k i n g . The wind, which blows round the poor shel ter Giles has surrendered over to Grace Melbury when she gets los t in her f l igh t from F i t z p i e r s , i s given the same pe r sona l i ty , i s described as having much the same conscious and v indic t ive a t t r i b u t e s as tha t w.dch tea rs the roof off Kings-Hill Speer: 'So sooner had she r e t i r ed to rest that night than the wind began to r i s e , and, a f t e r a few prefa tory b l a s t s , to be accompanied by r a i n . The ra in grew more and more v io l en t , and as the storm went on, i t was d i f f i c u l t to believe that no opaque body, but only an inv i s ib le co lor less th ing , was trampling and climbing over the roof, making branches creak, springing out of the t r e e s upon the chimney, popping i t s head into the f l ue , and shrieking and blaspheming a t 97@ry corner of the w a l l s . As in the old s to ry , the a s sa i l an t (17) was a spect re which could be f e l t but not s e e n . ' And not only the wind has been seised by that devi l with another name - The F i r s t Cause - but the boughs of the t r e e s a lso f a l l under i t s malignant Spel l : 'Sometimes a bough from an adjoining t ree was swayed so low as to smite the roof in the manner of a gigant ic hand smiting the mouth of an adversary, to be followed by a t r i ck l e of blood, as blood from 118) the wound.' The descr ip t ion j u s t quoted i s of course far more v iv id and gripping than i t s p a r a l l e l in Two on a Tower » but the idea a t the root of i t i s in no way d i f f e ren t : the uietaphysic has not changed. I t seems a f t e r a l l , as i f Hardy, when he had finished The Return of the Native, did not a r r i v e a t any de f in i t e conclusion as to which metaphysic 17. CThe Woodlanders p.327. 18. The Woodlanders pp.304-305 - 62 -seemed to he most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of l i f e - the idea of Man and Nature suffering together under a sent ient Fi rs t Cause, or as suffering together under an impassibe F i r s t Cause. That he momentarily Inclined to the former i n t e rp re t a t i on in Two on a Tower has already been suggested. But i t i s f a i r ly c lear that he gave over attempting to solve the question while wri t ing The Mayor of Casterbrid^e and The Woodlanders. I t may be that he has now reached the end of h is t e the r in h is search af ter a t rue philosophy; and again i t may be that there has been, in the mean time, a slow but sure development in h is miad of the ful l metaphysical bloom. Whether th i s i s so or not remains yet to be seen in t h i s essay. But Teas, of the D'Qrbervil les gives no inkl ing of new development in the Hardian philosophy. The only noticeable feature in t h i s great book is that the philosophy, or r a the r , the view of l i f e becomes more impassioned, more b i t t e r , more vehement. Hardy, leaving quiescence, p ro t e s t s agains t the great Cause which forces us to come into t h i s world against our w i l l through the agency of our pa ren t s : 'All these young souls were passengers in the D'Urbeyfield ship - en t i r e ly dependent upon the judgment of the two D'Urbeyfield adul t s for t he i r p leasures , the i r n e c e s s i t i e s , t he i r heal th , even the i r ex is tence . If the heads of the D'Urbeyfield house chose to s a i l into d i f f i c u l t y , d i s a s t e r , s ta rva t ion , d isease , degradation, death, t h i the r were those l i t t l e capt ives under hatches compelled to s a i l with them -s ix he lp less c rea tu res , who had never been asked i f they wished for l i f e on any. terms, much l e s s i f they wished for i t on such hard conditions aa were involved in being of the sh i f t l e s s house of D'Urbeyfield. - 63 -Some people would l i ke to know whence the poet whose philosophy i s in these days deemed as profound and trustworthy as h i s soiv; i s sweet (19) and pure , ge ts h i s au thor i ty for speaking of N a t u r e ' s holy plan" Kature , of course, in the Wordsworthian sense being equivalent to Hardy's F i r s t Cause - a term which, inc iden ta l ly , he uses for the f i r s t time, in t h i s hook: 'This consciousness upon which he had intruded was the s ingle opportunity of existence ever vouchsafed to (20) l e s s by an unsympathetic F i r s t Cause - . ' I t wi l l be seen qui te c l e a r l y that there i s nothing rad ica l ly d i f fe ren t in the view which Hardy expresses in the f i rs t -quoted paragraph. The point of view happens to be similar to tha t in the Mayor of CasterbridKe. - a view which reveals mankind responsible to a large extent for the t r i a l s and t r i b u l a t i o n s of the world: the parents of the D'Urbeyfield chi ldren are blamed as being the immediate cause for the unhappy existence $t the l a t t e r , but impulse i s , as always, a t t r i b u t e d to the F i r s t Cause. We may pass over The Well-Beloved, which is not s ignif icant in regard to t h i s essay, and proceed to Hardy's much-cri t ic ized, and too frequently maligned Jude the Obscure . The f i r s t par t of th i s novel shows no new trend of philosophic idea. The tone is much the same as tha t in ' l e s s . ' Hardy seems a t times to lose his Olympian point of view and c r i t i c i z e mankind for those very weaknesses which, he has taken the trouble to show mankind i s not responsible for: the c rea t ion of a human, arid therefore f a l l i b l e , social fabr ic . 19. Tess of the D'Urbervi l ies , p .21 20. fess of the D'Urbervi l ies , p.174 64 -Thus Hardy spends much time in commenting upon the anomaly of Nature and lan-made laws. But th i s digressive tread on Hardy's par t i s not what concerns us nearly so much as t h a t , towards the end of his hook, he a r r i v e s a t the ful l close of h is metaphysical enquiry, Instead of continuing to see Man and Kature as sufferers under a malignant and perc ip ient F i r s t Cause, he suddenly comes to the conclusion that they are fel low-sufferers under the yoke of an impercipient force, which is n a t u r a l l y , being impercipient, not malevolent: 'The Fi rs t Cause worked automatical ly l ike a somnambulist, and not r e f l ec t i ve ly l ike a sage; . . . a t the framing of the t e r r e s t r i a l condi t ions there seemed never to have been contemplated such a development of emotional percep-t iveness among crea tures subject to those condit ions as tha t reached by thinking and educated humanity* But a f f l i c a t i o n makes opposing (21) forces loom anthropomorphus . . . ' Here i s the f i na l , triumphant A expression of Hardy's philosophy, a view of l i f e towards which he has been progressing inevi tably from the wr i t ing of h is f i r s t novel. I t i s t ru ly a philosophy, for there i s nothing an tagonis t ic about i t : a l l has now been perceived to be the r e s u l t of the impulse of forces unseeing, unknowing - of what use to complain? They w i l l not hear: they cannot hear; ne i ther can they f ee l . Then, p ro tes t being f u t i l e , l e t us be resigned: t h i s is the t rue philosophic theory and mood. And now to summarize: Desperate Remedies l i g h t l y touches the idea that Kature, which i s apparently cognate with the F i rs t Cause, 2 1 . Jude the Obscure, p .431 . - 65 -i s malevolent and pe rc ip i en t . This idea i s changed a l i t t l e in Under the Greenwood Tree; Nature (natural phenomona) i s linked with man under the sway of the F i r s t Cause. This idea remains undisturbed through the next three volumes, except for a passage in A Pa i r of Blue Byes remarking the lack of order in the universe . In the Return of the Native the r e l a t i o n between Man and Nature i s more strongly emphasized, and the idea contained in A Pair of Blue fiye.a - tha t the F i r s t Cause seems to have no order about i t s impulses - i s ca r r i ed a l i t t l e further along i t s way by the suggestion that the F i r s t Cause i s perhaps impassive. ftor several books a f t e r The Return of the Bative t h i s idea i s apparently re l inquished, and i t seems as i f Hardy i s content to believe in the Firs t Cause as ac t ive and malevolent ra ther than impassive. But towards the close of Jude the Obscure a great l i gh t breaks upon him; and he r ea l i ze s that the true logic of his philosophy i s expressed in the view that the F i r s t Cause must be not only impassive, but insent ient and imperciplent. The f inal and supplementary question a r i s e s : what i s there in Hardy's metaphysic which sanctions the use of chance in the Wessex novels? The answer is not very d i f f i c u l t : i t is not hard to see t ha t , as far as the novels are concerned, the philosophy which l i e s a t the base of t he i r s t ructure i s that which conceives the F i r s t Cause to be more or less a c t i v e , and cer ta in ly malevolent. I t i s qui te c l ea r , in other words, tha t the philosophy expressed in - u ~ I «« l* t t* r part '.-f Harl^V ' ^ r > •...-.•.- "•:.,.;: :•*&-(affect .'r. the worki.^- '• .* -.;' v-,-^* ri-v11 - •*• If tfcs;;, th* t t r . -c tur* f *h?; r r e . f , ? ir; :'"•;•• of th« First Tau«« as se t i t* aua afc;«v<-i*.-i.t, ' th*» i s a moet naturfti artlittlc d r r ' c * . Frr mortalr ar' rul©if net by % kindly but >.j ^ tu>. the tBiootb cottre* of our H T S E *"ill t« •.'t-npt'it! nKchlsAtlons of this Malignant rul i*^ ft) re*; % the ld»s which Hardytb? his 'iw <*?' ^nanet, :c" BIRLIOGl^PHlf ISffi KCVELS 1871 1872 1S73 1674 1676 1676 1680 1381 1C62 AOVSU 1867 1668 1691 1694 1696 1627 Desperate Hesnedies-Under the Greenrood Tree. A Pair of Blue E^es. Skr from the Madding. Crowd. The Hand cf Ethelbert~>. The Return of the Native. The Trumpe t-lSajer. A Laodidean. *wc c.'i -1. ?G"~ui . The iiayor of Castorl-ri&ge. The Woo&l&n&ere. Weseex Tales . Teas of tlM D'UrbervIl lea. L i f e ' s L i t t l e I r on i e s . Jude the Obscure. The Well-Beloved. gggfllAL WOIVKS QK HAPPY. Lionel Johnsoni The Ar t of Thomas Hardy. L a s c e l l e s A b e r c r o a i l e : Thciuas Hardy. Harold C h i l d : Thorns Rard^<. Dr. Samuel Chew: Thomas Hardy. Willlaai Archer : Playjaa]cin£. Budyard K i p l i n g : The 'Li^ht thut Fa i l ed . Mark Twain: Roughing I t . 1694 1912 1916 1921 PTffEfiff. 1912 


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