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Tess of the D'Urbervilles : a pure woman online

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t^iU^'Vi-^Vf^/f A^l.^ ,

From a Photograph by Elliot and Fry







■ . . . Poor wounded name ! My bosom as a bed
Shall lodge thee.' — W. Shaksfeare.




Albemarle Street





1 HE main portion of the following story appeared
— with slight modifications — in the Graphic newspaper ;
other chapters, more especially addressed to adult readers,
in the Fortnightly Review and the National Observer^ as
episodic sketches. My thanks are tendered to the editors
and proprietors of those periodicals for enabling me now
to piece the trunk and limbs of the novel together, and
print it complete, as originally written two years ago.

I will just add that the story is sent out in all sincerity
of purpose, as an attempt to give artistic form to a true
sequence of things ; and in respect of the book's opinions 1
would ask any too genteel reader who cannot endure to
have said what everybody nowadays thinks and feels, to
remember a well-worn sentence of St. Jerome's : If an
offence come out of the truth, better is it that the offence
come than that the truth be concealed.

T. H.

Novetnber 1891.



majority — who have so generously welcomed the tale.
Their words show that they, like the others, have only
too largely repaired my defects of narration by their own
imaginative intuition.

Nevertheless, though the novel was intended to be neither
didactic nor aggressive, but in the scenic parts to be
representative simply, and in the contemplative to be oftener
charged with impressions than with opinions, there have
been objectors both to the matter and to the rendering.

Some of these maintain a conscientious difference of

sentiment concerning, among other things, subjects fit for

art, and reveal an inability to associate the idea of the

title-adjective with any but the licensed and derivative

meaning which has resulted to it from the ordinances of

civilization. They thus ignore, not only all Nature's claims,

all aesthetic claims on the word, but even the spiritual

interpretation afforded by the finest side of Christianity ;

and drag in, as a vital point, the acts of a woman in her

last days of desperation, when all her doings lie outside

her normal character. Others dissent on grounds which

are intrinsically no more than an assertion that the novel

embodies the views of life prevalent at the end of the

nineteenth century, and not those of an earlier and simpler

generation — an assertion which I can only hope may be

well founded. Let me repeat that a novel is an impression,

not an argument ; and there the matter must rest ; as one

is reminded by a passage which occurs in the letters of

Schiller to Goethe on judges of this class : ' They are those

who seek only their own ideas in a representation, and

prize that which should be as higher than what is. The

cause of the dispute, therefore, lies in the very first prin-



ciples, and it would be utterly impossible to come to an
understanding with them.' And again : ' As soon as I
observe that any one, when judging of poetical representa-
tions, considers anything more important than the inner
Necessity and Truth, I have done with him.'

In the introductory words to the first edition I suggested
the possible advent of the genteel person who would not be
able to endure the tone of these pages. That person duly
appeared, mostly mixed up with the aforesaid objectors. In
another of his forms he felt upset that it was not possible
for him to read the book through three times, owing to my
not having made that critical effort which ' alone can prove
the salvation of such an one.' In another, he objected to
such vulgar articles as the Devil's pitchfork, a lodging-house
carving-knife, and a shame-bought parasol, appearing in a
respectable story. In another place he was a gentleman
who turned Christian for half-an-hour the better to express
his grief that a disrespectful phrase about the Immortals
should have been used ; though the sam.e innate gentility
compelled him to excuse the author in words of pity that
one cannot be too thankful for : ' He does but give us of his
best.' I can assure this great critic that to exclaim illogic-
ally against the gods, singular or plural, is not such an
original sin of mine as he seems to imagine. True, it
may have some local originality ; though if Shakespeare
were an authority on history, which perhaps he is not, I
could show that the sin was introduced into Wessex as
early as the Heptarchy itself. Says Glo'ster to Lear,
otherwise Ina, king of that country :

' As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods ;
They kill us for their sport.'


The remaining two or three manipulators of Tess were
of the sort whom most writers and readers would gladly
forget ; professed literary boxers, who put on their convic-
tions for the occasion ; modern ' Hammers of Heretics ' ;
sworn Discouragers, ever on the watch to prevent the tenta-
tive half-success from becoming the whole success ; who
pervert plain meanings, and grow personal under the name
of practising the great historical method. However, they
may have causes to advance, privileges to guard, traditions
to keep going ; some of which a mere tale-teller, who
writes down how the things of the world strike him,
without any ulterior intentions whatever, has overlooked,
and may by pure inadvertence have run foul of when in
the least aggressive mood. Perhaps some passing percep-
tion, the outcome of a dream-hour, would, if generally acted
on, cause such an assailant considerable inconvenience with
respect to position, interests, family, servant, ox, ass, neigh-
bour, or neighbour's wife. He therefore valiantly hides his
personality behind a publisher's shutters, and cries ' Shame!'
So densely is the world thronged that any shifting of posi-
tions, even the best warranted advance, hurts somebody's
heels. Such shiftings often begin in sentiment, and such
sentiment sometimes begins in a novel. ^ j^

/uly 1892.




The Maiden, I-XI ..... i


Maiden no More, XII-XV .... 91


The Rally, XVI-XXIV . . . .129





The Consequence, XXV-XXXIV . . -197


The Woman Pays, XXXV-XLIV . • .293


The Convert, XLV-LII . . . -393


Fulfilment, LIII-LIX . . • • 475







' I did,' said the parson.

'And once before that — near a month ago.'

' I may have.'

'Then what might your meaning be in calHng me
" Sir John " these different times, when I be plain Jack
Durbeyfield, the haggler ? '

The parson rode a step or two nearer.

' It was only my whim,' he said ; and, after a
moment's hesitation : ' It was on account of a discovery
I made some little time ago, whilst I was hunting up
pedigrees for the new county history. I am Parson
Tringham, the antiquary, of Stagfoot Lane. Don't you
really know, Durbeyfield, that you are the lineal repre-
sentative of the ancient and knightly family of the
D'Urbervilles, who derive their descent from Sir Pagan
D'Urberville, that renowned knight who came from
Normandy with William the Conqueror, as appears by
Battle Abbey Roll ? '

' Never heard it before, sir ! '

' Well, it's true. Throw up your chin a moment, so
that I may catch the profile of your face better. Yes,
that's the D'Urberville nose and chin — a little debased.
Your ancestor was one of the twelve knights who assisted
the Lord of Estremavilla in Normandy in his conquest
of Glamorganshire. Branches of your family held manors
over all this part of England ; their names appear in the
Pipe Rolls in the time of King Stephen. In the reign
of King John one of them was rich enough to give a
manor to the Knights Hospitallers ; and in Edward the
Second's time your forefather Brian was summoned to
Westminster to attend the great Council there. You
declined a little in Oliver Cromwell's time, but to no
serious extent, and in Charles the Second's reign you
were made Knights of the Royal Oak for your loyalty.
Aye, there have been generations of Sir Johns among
you, and if knighthood were hereditary, like a baronetcy,
as it practically was in old times, when men were



knighted from father to son, you would be Sir John

' Ye don't say so ! '

' In short/ concluded the parson, decisively smacking
his leg with his switch, ' there's hardly such another
family in England.'

' Daze my eyes, and isn't there ? ' said Durbeyfield.
' And here have I been knocking about, year after year,
from pillar to post, as if I was no more than the com-
monest feller in the parish. . . . And how long hev this
news about me been knowed, Pa'son Tringham ? '

The clergyman explained that, as far as he was aware,
it had quite died out of knowledge, and could hardly be
said to be know^n at all. His own investigations had
begun on a day in the preceding spring when, having
been engaged in tracing the vicissitudes of the D'Urber-
ville family, he had observed Durbeyfield's name on his
waggon, and had thereupon been led to make inquiries
about his father and grandfather till he had no doubt on
the subject.

' At first I resolved not to disturb you with such a
useless piece of information,' said he. ' However, our
impulses are too strong for our judgment sometimes.
I thought you might perhaps know something of it all
the while.'

'Well, I have heard once or twice, 'tis true, that my
family had seen better days afore they came to Black-
moor. But I took no notice o't, thinking it to mean that
we had once kept two horses where we now keep only
one. I've got a wold silver spoon, and a wold graven
seal at home, too ; but. Lord, what's a spoon and
seal ? . . . And to think that I and these noble
D'Urbervilles were one flesh all the time. 'Twas said
that my gr't-grandfer had secrets, and didn't care to talk
of where he came from. . . . And where do we raise
our smoke, now, parson, if I may make so bold ; I mean,
where do we D'Urbervilles live ? '


' You don't live anywhere. You are extinct — as a
county family.'

'That's bad.'

'Yes — what the mendacious family chronicles call
extinct in the male line — that is, gone down — gone

' Then where do we lie ? '

' At Kino;sbere-sub-Greenhill : rows and rows of vou
in your vaults, with your effigies under Purbeck-marble

' And where be our family mansions and estates ? '

'You haven't any.'

' Oh ? No lands neither ? '

' None ; though you once had 'em in abundance, as
I said, for your family consisted of numerous branches.
In this county there was a seat of yours at Kingsbere,
and another at Sherton, and another at Millpond, and
another at Lullstead, and another at Wellbridge.'

' And shall we ever come into our own again ? '

' Ah — that I can't tell ! '

' And what had I better do about it, sir ? ' asked
Durbeyfield, after a pause.

' Oh — nothing, nothing ; except chasten yourself with
the thought of " how are the mighty fallen." It is a fact
of some interest to the local historian and genealogist,
nothing more. There are several families among the
cottagers of this county of almost equal lustre. Good-

' But you'll turn back and have a quart of beer wi'
me on the strength o't, Pa'son Tringham ? There's a
very pretty brew in tap at The Pure Drop — though, to
be sure, not so good as at Rolliver's.'

'No, thank you — not this evening, Durbeyfield.
You've had enough already.' Concluding thus the
parson rode on his way, with doubts as to his discretion
in retailing this curious bit of lore.

When he was gone Durbeyfield walked a few steps



in a profound reverie, and then sat down upon the
grassy bank by the roadside, depositing his basket before
him. In a few minutes a youth appeared in the distance,
walking in the same direction as that which had been
pursued by Durbeyfield. The latter, on seeing him,
held up his hand, and the lad quickened his pace and
came near.

' Boy, take up that basket ! I want 'ee to go on an
errand for me.'

The lath-like stripling frowned. ' Who be you, then,
John Durbeyfield, to order me about and call me
"boy"? You know my name as well as I know
yours ! '

' Do you, do you ? That's the secret — that's the
secret ! Now obey my orders, and take the message
I'm going to charge 'ee wi'. . . . Well, Fred, I don't
mind telling you that the secret is that I'm one of a
noble race — it has been just found out by me this
present a'ternoon, p.m.' And as he made the announce-
ment, Durbeyfield, declining from his sitting position,
luxuriously stretched himself out upon the bank among
the daisies.

The lad stood before Durbeyfield, and contemplated
his length from crown to toe.

' Sir John D'Urberville — that's who I be,' continued
the prostrate man. ' That is if knights were baronets —
which they be. 'Tis recorded in history all about me.
Dost know of such a place, lad, as Kingsbere-sub-
Greenhill ? '

' Ees. I've been there to Greenhill Fair.'

* Well, under the church of that city there lie '

' 'Tisn't a city, the place I mean ; leastwise 'twaddn'
when I was there — 'twas a little one-eyed, blinking sort
o' place.'

'Never you mind the place, boy, that's not the
question before us. Under the church of that there
parish lie my ancestors — hundreds of 'em — in coats of



mail and jewels, in gr't lead coffins weighing tons and
tons. There's not a man in the county o' South- Wessex
that's got grander and nobler skillentons in his family
than L'


' Now take up that basket, and goo on to Marlott,
and when you've come to The Pure Drop Inn, tell 'em
to send a horse and carriage to me immed'ately, to
carry me hwome. And in the bottom o' the carriage
they be to put a noggin o' rum in a small bottle, and
chalk it up to my account. And when you've done
that goo on to my house with the basket, and tell my
wife to put away that washing, because she needn't finish
it, and wait till I come hwome, as I've news to tell

As the lad stood in a dubious attitude, Durbeyfield
put his hand in his pocket, and produced a shilling, one
of the comparatively few that he possessed.

'Here's for your labour, lad.'

This made a diiference in the young man's estimate
of the position.

'Yes, Sir John. Thank 'ee. Anything else I can
do for 'ee. Sir John ? '

'Tell 'em at hwome that I should Uke for supper, —
well, lamb's fry if they can get it ; and if they can't,
black-pot ; and if they can't get that, well, chitterlings
will do.'

'Yes, Sir John.'

The boy took up the basket, and as he set out the
notes of a brass band were heard from the direction of
the village.

' What's that ? ' said Durbeyfield. Not on account o'

"Tis the women's club-walking. Sir John. Why,
your da'ter is one o' the members.'

' To be sure — I'd quite forgot it in my thoughts o'
greater things ! Well, vamp on to Marlott, will 'ee, and



order that carriage, and maybe Til drive round and
inspect the club.'

The lad departed, and Durbeyfield lay waiting on the
grass and daisies in the evening sun. Not a soul passed
that way for a long while, and the faint notes of the
band were the only human sounds audible within the
rim of blue hills.



1 HE village or Marlott lay amid the north-eastern
undulations of the beautiful Vale of Blakemore or
Blackmoor aforesaid, an engirdled and secluded region,
for the most part untrodden as yet by tourist or land-
scape-painter, though within a four hours' journey from

It is a vale whose acquaintance is best made by view-
ing it from the summits of the hills that surround it —
except perhaps during the droughts of summer. An
unguided ramble into its recesses in bad weather is apt
to engender dissatisfaction with its narrow, tortuous, and
miry ways.

This fertile and sheltered tract of country, in which
the fields are never brown and the springs never dry, is
bounded on the south by the bold chalk ridge that
embraces the prominences of Hambledon Hill, Bul-
barrow, Nettlecombe-Tout, Dogbury, High Stoy, and
Bubb Down. The traveller from the coast, who, after
plodding northward for a score of miles over, calcareous
downs and corn-lands, suddenly reaches the verge of one
of these escarpments, is suprised and delighted to behold,
extended like a map beneath him, a country differing
absolutely from that which he has passed through.
Behind him the hills are open, the sun blazes down
upon fields so large as to give an unenclosed character



to the landscape, the lanes are white, the hedges low
and plashed, the atmosphere colourless. Here, in the
valley, the world seems to be constructed upon a smaller
and more delicate scale ; the fields are mere paddocks,
so reduced that from this height their hedgerows appear
a network of dark green threads overspreading the paler
green of the grass. The atmosphere beneath is lan-
guorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call
the middle distance partakes also of that hue, while the
horizon beyond is of the deepest ultramarine. Arable
lands are few and limited ; with but slight exceptions
the prospect is a broad rich mass of grass and trees,
mantling minor hills and dales within the major. Such
is the Vale of Blackmoor.

The district is of historic, no less than of topo-
graphical interest. The Vale was known in former
times as the Forest of White Hart, from a curious
legend of King Henry IH.'s reign, in which the kilHng
by a certain Thomas de la Lynd of a beautiful white
hart which the king had run down and spared, was
made the occasion of a heavy fine. In those days, and
till comparatively recent times, the country was densely
wooded. Even now, traces of its earlier condition are
to be found in the old oak copses and irregular belts of
timber that yet survive upon its slopes, and the hollow-
trunked trees that shade so many of its pastures.

The forests have departed, but some old customs of
their shades remain. Many, however, linger only in a
metamorphosed or disguised form. The May- Day
dance, for instance, was to be discerned on the after-
noon under notice, in the guise of the club revel, or
' club-walking,' as it was there called.

It was an interesting event to the younger inhabitants
of Marlott, though its real interest was not observed by
the participators in the ceremony. Its singularity lay
less in the retention of a custom of walking in proces-
sion and dancing on each anniversary than in the



members being solely women. In men's clubs such
celebrations were, though expiring, less uncommon ;
but either the natural shyness of the softer sex, or a
sarcastic attitude on the part of male relatives, had
denuded such women's clubs as remained (if any other
did) of this their glory and consummation. The club
of Marlott alone lived to uphold the local Cerealia. It
had walked for hundreds of years, if not as benefit-
club, as votive sisterhood of some sort ; and it walked

The banded ones were all dressed in white gowns —
a gay survival from Old Style days, when cheerfulness
and May-time were synonyms — days before the habit of
taking long views had reduced emotions to a monotonous
average. Their first exhibition of themselves was in a
processional march of two and two round the parish.
Ideal and real clashed slightly as the sun lit up their
figures against the green hedges and creeper-laced
house-fronts ; for, though the whole troop wore white
garments, no two whites were alike among them. Some
approached pure blanching ; some had a bluish pallor ;
some worn by the older characters (which had possibly
lain by folded for many a year) inclined to a cadaverous
tint, and to a Georgian style.

In addition to the distinction of a white frock, every
woman and girl carried in her right hand a peeled
willow wand, and in her left a bunch of white flowers.
The peeling of the former, and the selection of the
latter, had been an operation of personal care.

There were a few middle-aged and even elderly
women in the train, their silver-wiry hair and wrinkled
faces, scourged by time and trouble, having almost a
grotesque, certainly a pathetic, appearance in such a
jaunty situation. In a true view, perhaps, there was
more to be gathered and told of each anxious and
experienced one, to whom the years were drawing nigh
when she should say, ' I have no pleasure in them,'



than of her juvenile comrades. But let the elder be
passed over here for those under whose bodices the life
throbbed quick and warm.

The young girls formed, indeed, the majority of the
band, and their heads of luxuriant hair reflected in the
sunshine every tone of gold, and black, and brown.
Some had beautiful eyes, others a beautiful nose, others
a beautiful mouth and figure : few, if any, had all. A
difficulty of arranging their lips in this crude exposure to
public scrutiny, an inability to balance their heads, and
to dissociate self-consciousness from their features, was
apparent in them, and showed that they were genuine
country girls, unaccustomed to many eyes.

And as each and all of them were warmed without
by the sun, so each had a private little sun for her soul
to bask in ; some dream, some affection, some hobby,
at least some remote and distant hope which, though
perhaps starving to nothing, still lived on, as hopes
will. Thus they were all cheerful, and many of them

They came round by The Pure Drop Inn, and vrere
turning out of the high road to pass through a wicket-
gate into the meadows, when one of the women
said —

' The Lord-a-Lord ! Why, Tess Durbeyfield, if there
isn't thy father riding hwome in a carriage ! '

A young member of the band turned her head at the
exclamation. She was a fine and handsome girl — not
handsomer than some others, possibly — but her mobile
peony mouth and large innocent eyes added eloquence
to colour and shape. She wore a red ribbon in her
hair, and was the only one of the white company who
could boast of such a pronounced adornment. As she
looked round Durbeyfield was seen moving along the
road in a chaise belonging to The Pure Drop, driven by
a frizzle-headed brawny damsel with her gown-sleeves
rolled above her elbows. This was the cheerful servant



of that establishment, who, in her part of factotum,
turned groom and ostler at times. Durbeyfield,
leaning back, and with his eyes closed luxuriously, was
waving his hand above his head, and singing in a slow
recitative —

' I've - got - a - gr't - family - vault - at - Kingsbere — and
knighted-forefathers-in-lead-coffins-there ! '

The clubbists tittered, except the girl called Tess —
in whom a slow heat seemed to rise at the sense that
her father was making himself foolish in their eyes.

' He's tired, that's all,' she said hastily, ' and he
has got a lift home, because our own horse has to rest

' Bless thy simplicity, Tess,' said her companions.
' He's got his market-nitch. Haw-haw ! '

' Look here ; I won't walk another inch with ye, if
you say any jokes about him ! ' Tess cried, and the
colour upon her cheeks spread over her face and neck.
In a moment her eyes grew moist, and her glance
drooped to the ground. Perceiving that they had
really pained her they said no more, and order again
prevailed. Tess's pride would not allow her to turn her
head again, to learn what her father's meaning was, if
he had any ; and thus she moved on with the whole
body to the enclosure where there was to be dancing on
the green. By the time the spot was reached she had
recovered her equanimity, and tapped her neighbour
with her wand and talked as usual.

Tess Durbeyfield at this time of her life was a mere
vessel of emotion untinctured by experience. The
dialect was on her tongue to some extent, despite the
village school : the characteristic intonation of that
dialect for this district being the voicing approximately
rendered by the syllable ur, probably as rich an
utterance as any to be found in human speech. The

Online LibraryThomas HardyTess of the D'Urbervilles : a pure woman → online text (page 1 of 36)