Then Levi Limpet Nudged Timothy and Nicholas by Charles Green — an illustration for Thomas Hardy's "Absent-Mindedness in a Parish Choir." 1891. Lithograph, 12 cm high by 19.5 cm wide. Scanned image, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]

From Thomas Hardy's "Wessex Folk" (subsequently renamed "A Few Crusted Characters") in Harper's New Monthly Magazine Vol. 81 (May 1891): 891. For this fifth plate for Thomas Hardy's nine framed tales, Green has chosen the most humorous moment in the story. Both the characters and physical setting suggest an autobiographical orgin for this extended anecdote about the drunken church musicians' awakening suddenly and, operating under the delusion that they are still plance dance rather than ecclesiastic music, horrifying the vicar and the squire on Christmas Eve. Hardy's father had been a member of the Stinsford ("Mellstock" in Under the Greenwood Tree) choir, which was replaced by an organ. The late Professor Martin Ray points out that the illustrator has corrected an oversight by Hardy in depicting six musicians, although Hardy had not included the oboist, Mr. Nicks, in the catalogue of those who creep sheepishly out of the church at the conclusion of the story.


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Last modified 2 June 2008