Jude stood up and began rhetorically
17 cm high by 12.1 cm wide
Harper's, XC, p. 566
Scanned image, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham
Reproduced courtesy of Dorset County Council Library Service
The quotation from p. 572 which the artist has chosen as his caption for this illustration for Thomas Hardy's Hearts Insurgent (afterwards Jude the Obscure) implies that Jude is about to deliver an oration in what appears to be a public house. On the previous day, Jude (as if such a state of existence were a keg of liquor) "had tapped the real Christminster life " (Ch. 17) in a public hall where a concert was in progress. The next day, feeling sorry for himself and accepting the futility of loving his cousin, Sue, Jude had been drinking all day "in an obscure and low-ceiled tavern" (perhaps the Turf Tavern in St. Helen's Passage, Oxford). Consequently, a less than sober and clear-headed Jude, acting upon the dare of a fellow stone-mason nicknamed "Uncle Joe," is reciting the Articles of the [Nicene] Creed in the Latin tongue for the edification of the company" in exchange for a small Scotch. The actual passage reads: "Jude, who, having drunk the contents [of the glass] stood up, and began rhetorically, without hesitation." Ironically, one of two undergraduates standing nearby compliments Jude on the calibre of his Latin pronunciation, although the young follower-of-the-turf in fact has "not the slightest conception of a single word."
In the previous chapter, feeling morose because he has received a negative response to a letter he sent to the masters of the various colleges and convinced that he has forever lost both Sue and the chance to be a university scholar, Jude finds the gates of the college shut because it is now after curfew. With his mason's chalk he had scrawled on the wall a quotation from the Book of Job, "I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior "šin fact, in the scene in the public house we realize that his understanding and his mental capacities are superior to those of the young men whose social position and wealth have granted them admission to an institution of higher learning.
After the moment captured in the plate, Jude runs out of the tavern, disgusted with both his auditors and himself, determined to see Sue in Lumsdon that very night. Although Hatherell shows the maid behind the bar cleaning a glass, in the text she like the other auditors is momentarily transfixed by Jude's performance; she then brings out the dozing landlord from the inner parlour to hear Jude. Closer to us than any other figures in the room, Jude is in the dark, as if standing on the stage beyond the footlights, whereas the other actors are seen in the full glare of a gas lamp. "I'd lick 'em on their own ground if they'd give me a chance," mutters a sullen Jude regarding his own scholarship, but of course society will never give a poor man such as Jude such an opportunity.
Hardy, Thomas. Jude the Obscure, ed. Dennis Taylor. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1998.
Last modified 16 February 2003