Thomas Hardy's Novella The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid --Towards a Distinct British Reading

Philip V. Allingham, Contributing Editor, Victorian Web; Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Figure 1: Initial Letter, Ch. I, The Graphic, p. 4

Two days after Harper's published the first instalment of Hardy's story in New York, the Summer Number of The Graphic published the entire text accompanied by all four of C. S. Reinhart's plates. In a single sitting, a determined British reader could experience the story and its illustrations with little of the anticipatory set and reflection of his American counterpart. Since Martin Ray reports only "seventeen substantive variants" (337) between the two texts, and these generally of a minor nature 2 ("mostly. . . editorial and involv[ing] only individual words"), the real differences between what Harper's and The Graphic presented readers in 1883 lie in the common reader's differing responses to texts given in part- versus a whole publication.

The mimetic effects of The Graphic's using a Gothic typeface for the story's title and ornate initial letters for each chapter were not not experienced by American readers; these paratextual elements invest the text with the dignity of an illuminated manuscript, suggesting what is about to be read is "literature" with a capital "L." The initial letter for the first chapter, an "I," is caught in the coils of a serpent, an oblique biblical/literary allusion to the "vale" as paradise, Margery as Milton's Eve, and the Baron as a Satanic outsider and seducer who will lure the maiden away from filial and marital duty. As in the American edition, the reader here is struck by Margery's archetypally presenting Red Riding Hood, for she stops to gaze at flowers and is accustomed, as her father remarks, to "bide about long upon the road" (p. 4). Her new-found discomfort at breaking fence is a product of her new sense of herself as a woman rather than a mere girl, and is reinforced by her meeting a man unlike any she has known, an aristocrat with pale skin; "His hands and face were white" (p. 4) underscores the dichotomies of middle class/upper class and rural-dweller/urbanite that are apparent through both their contrasting dress and speech at the first meeting of Margery and the Baron. The contemporary formal clothing worn by both in the second plate (p. 22) reveals how she is being absorbed into the Baron's sphere of influence, but also how Nature, as exemplified by the hollow tree, is impeding this process. What the Baron has "slipped . . . into the pocket of his dressing-gown" (Ch. II, p. 4) is apparent neither in the text, nor in the illustration of their first meeting (p. 19), causing the serial reader a degree of puzzlement not experienced by his modern counterpart, for in the 1913 revision Hardy made plain (as he had in the MS.) that the secreted object is a pistol. 3

The positioning of the four plates in The Graphic, unlike that of the plates in Harper's, creates no anticipatory set for the reader; rather, in each case the reader is compelled to reflect upon incidents that have already transpired. The first plate, on page 19, takes us all the way back to Ch. II (p. 4); the second plate, on page 22, takes us back to Ch. IV (p. 8); the third plate, takes us back to Ch. IX (p. 13); and the last plate in the series, placed after the story's conclusion, takes us back to Ch. XV (p. 21, middle of column 2). Only once has the magazine printed "(Continued on page . . .)" (bottom of column 3, p. 16), a break which introduces four pages of illustrations, the last one only (p. 19) being Reinhart's.

Although the placement of the four full-page illustrations in The Graphic may not be as effective as the placement of the first three in Harper's, all four meet the following criteria for judging the effectiveness of illustrations accompanying printed text:

1. Do the lines create create an appropriate sense of (a) setting, (b) mood, and (c) motion?

2. Does the design of the composition reinforce the plot and language of the accompanying text?

3. Does the shape of the design on the page create an appropriate mood?

4. Consider the medium that the artist has employed: would this picture stand on its own (i. e., outside the context of the story) as an engaging work of art?

5. Is the composition ĉsthetically pleasing? Does it fill the space effectively?

6. Does the artist's style appropriately complement the author's?

7. How effectively does the illustration convey character?

8. Is the illustration consistent in its details with the author's text?

9. Most importantly, how does the picture serve to create within the viewer/reader a sense of suspense? That is, how does the picture prepare the reader for what comes in the text? How does it help the reader interpret or imagine the text? Or does the drawing actually impede the process of creative visualisation?

With its title usually drawn directly from Hardy's text (even though titles for plates differ between American and British publications, all are direct quotations; the only illustration not employing a direct quotation is the fourth), each illustration is dependent for a complete decoding upon a reading of that text; however, when the reader discovers that point in the text, he or she ponders the illustration to see how it both matches and comments upon the scene as written. In other words, the printed text acquires additional emotional nuances and meanings as the reader refers to the illustration which has prepared to elaborate upon a textual moment, which therefore, especially for the American serial reader, exists in two places, two media, and two modes of reception‹anticipation and realization.

Structurally, this romance exhibits a number of features that Hardy's readers have already encountered a number of times in his full-scale novels prior to 1883:

1. Its stage is chiefly set in rural Wessex. 2. It is topographically specific, to a degree unparalleled in English literature. 3. It deals with Dorset farmers, and shows sympathetic insight into the life of this class. 4. It does not avoid an impression of artificiality whenever "polite society" is involved. 5. The dialogue is often unreal, and there is occasional stiffness of language, with involved sentences, awkward inversions, split infinitives, etc. 6. In marked contrast with these rhetorical defects, there is frequent felicity of phrase, particularly in descriptive passages, and the author's alert senses, all of them, often leave their mark. 7. Nature interests him for her own sake, and his treatment of her is often poetic. 8. There are many literary allusions and quotations, and references to painters, musicians, and architects [in imitation of George Eliot]. 9. The use of coincidents and accidents is overdone; and plausibility is often stretched to the extreme. 10. There is a secret marriage. 11. There is a pervading note of gloom, only momentarily relieved. 12. It all comes to a tragic end (sudden death). (Webber, "Editorial Epilogue," 145-6).

In his plates for the American edition of The New Magdalen in 1873 C. S. Reinhart was consciously emulating Du Maurier's style and following the realistic, albeit two-dimensional, somewhat theatrical model that Du Maurier establishes in the cover plate. Reinhart's 1883 plates for Hardy's The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid are much more in the round; they are also much larger in scale, and therefore better able to convey a sense of a detailed background. What Reinhart seems to have learned from Du Maurier is evident in his posing of the figures and the use of background detail in The Graphic, but there, too, he shows how in the intervening years he has learned how create a sense of depth of field and top convey a prevailing mood that sweeps through all the figures in the composition. Reinhart's sense of character, tone, and mood are consonant with Hardy's style in his Milkmaid plates, whereas in his earlier New Magdalen plates we see him feeling his way as an illustrator, trying to convey character through symbolic poses, as in "Grace threw her arms round the nurse," and filling convincingly a limited domestic stage area, as in "'Tell me, one of you! he cried. What name did she give?'"

Related Materials

Selected List of References

Allingham, Philip V. "The Initial Publications of Thomas Hardy's Novella "The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid" in the Graphic and Harper's (Summer, 1883)." The Thomas Hardy Journal 16, 3 (October, 2000): 45-62.

Benazon, Michael. "'The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid': Hardy's Modern Romance." English Studies in Canada, 5:1 (1979), 56-65.

Brady, Kristin. The Short Stories of Thomas Hardy. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1982.

Cassis, A. F. "A Note on the Structure of Thomas Hardy's Short Stories."Colby Library Quarterly 10 (1974): 287-296.

Champlin, John Denison, Jr. Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. New York: Empire State, 1927. Vol. IV.

Graves, Algernon. A Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions from 1760 to 1893. London: Henry Graves, 1895.

Greer, Russ. "To Philip Allingham." Unpublished e-mail correspondence, 25 August, 26 August, 2 September, and 17 September, 1999.

Hardy, Thomas. The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid. The Graphic , Summer Number (pub. 25 June) 1883, pp. 4-25; Harper's Weekly, 23 June-4 August, 1883; Collected Short Stories, ed. F. B. Pinion. London: Macmillan, 1988. pp. 788-868.

---. "Serial Rights in Stories." Athenĉum 16 May 1903: 626.

Harris, Wendell V. British Short Fiction in the Nineteenth Century: A Literary and Bibliographic Guide. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979.

---. "English Short Fiction in the Nineteenth Century. III. The rise of the Short Story in England. . . ." Studies in Short Fiction 6, 1(Fall, 1968): 45-57.

Houfe, Simon.The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1978, rev. 1996.

Lewis, Paul. "To Philip Allingham." Unpublished e-mail correspondence, 28 August and 29 August, 1999.

McManus, Diane. "Dance and Ballet." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, ed. Sally Mitchell. New York: Garland, 1988. 207.

Orel, Harold. Ch. 5 "Thomas Hardy: An Older Tradition of Narrative." The Victorian Short Story. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Pp. 96-114.

Ormond, Leonée. George Du Maurier. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969.

Page, Norman. "Hardy Short Stories: A Reconsideration." Studies in Short Fiction 11, 1 (Winter, 1974): 75-84.

Pennell, Joseph. The Adventures of An Illustrator Mostly in Following His Authors in America and Europe. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1925.

Purdy, Richard Little, and Millgate, Michael, eds. The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978-88. Volume One (1840-1892), 1978.

Quinn, Marie A. "Thomas Hardy and the Short Story." Budmouth Essays on Thomas Hardy: Papers Presented at the 1975 Summer School (Dorchester: Thomas Hardy Society, 1976), pp. 74-85.

Ray, Martin. Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories. London: Ashgate, 1997.

Reid, Forrest. Illustrators of the Eighteen-Sixties. 1928. New York: Dover, 1975 rpt.

Reinhart, Charles Stanley. "At the Sow-and-Acorn." Illustration 3 for Thomas Hardy's "The First Countess of Wessex." Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 80 (December, 1889), 27. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/wessex3.htm

---. "'The Attitude Bespoke Anguish'." Graphic, Summer Number (pub. 25 June) 1883, p. 19; "With One Hand He Was Tightly Grasping His Forehead, with His Other His Knee." Harper's Weekly, 23 June 1883, p. 389. 8.5" x 11.5"(tilted vertically). http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/romant3.ht

---. "Betty Lay upon the Floor." Illustration 8 for Thomas Hardy's "The First Countess of Wessex." Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 80 (December, 1889), 41. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/wessex3.htm

---. "I Can't Get out of This Dreadful Tree!" Graphic, Summer Number (pub. 25 June) 1883, p. 22; Harper's Weekly, 30 June 1883, p. 405. 8.63" x 11.5" (tilted vertically). Signed "C. S. Reinhart" in lower-left corner. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/romant3.ht

---."Jim Stopped at the Kiln, While Mrs. Peach Held the Horse." Graphic, Summer Number (pub. 25 June) 1883, p. 26. 8.5" x 11.5" (tilted vertically).

---. "She Beheld the Object of Her Search Sitting on the Horizontal Bough of a Cedar."Illustration 4 for Thomas Hardy's "The First Countess of Wessex." Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 80 (December, 1889), 29. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/wessex3.htm

---. "So He Stormed on till Tupcombe Entered Suddenly." Illustration 6 for Thomas Hardy's "The First Countess of Wessex." Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 80 (December, 1889), 35. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/wessex3.htm

---. "What Be You Here For?" Graphic, Summer Number (pub. 25 June) 1883, p. 23; "'What! Ye Have Dared To Come Back Alive, Hussy!'" Harper's Weekly, 14 July 1883, p. 437. 8.63" x 11.5" (tilted vertically). Signed "C. S. Reinhart 83" in lower-left corner. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/english/thsna/illustr/romant3.ht

---, and Du Maurier, George. Illustrations for Wilkie Collins' The New Magdalen. London: Chatto & Windus, 1889.

Temperley, Nicholas. "Dance Music." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, ed. Sally Mitchell. New York: Garland, 1988. 208.

Webber, Carl J. "An Editorial Epilogue." Thomas Hardy's An Indiscretion in the Life of an Heiress (1878). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1935. Pp. 145-6.


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Last modified 23 January 2001