"Elizabeth, my child, come and hearken to what we are talking about and not bide staring out o' window as if ye didn't hear." by Robert Barnes. Plate 19, Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, which appeared in the London The Graphic, 8 May 1886: Chapter XLI, p. 509. 17.4 cm high by 22.3 cm wide — 6 ⅝ inches high by 8 ⅞ inches wide. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Elizabeth-Jane reunited with "Captain" Newson

“Well, Captain Newson, I will be glad to see ye here every day now, since it can do no harm,” said Farfrae. “And what I’ve been thinking is that the wedding may as well be kept under my own roof, the house being large, and you being in lodgings by yourself — so that a great deal of trouble and expense would be saved ye? — and ’tis a convenience when a couple’s married not to hae far to go to get home!”

“With all my heart,” said Captain Newson; “since, as ye say, it can do no harm, now poor Henchard’s gone; though I wouldn’t have done it otherwise, or put myself in his way at all; for I’ve already in my lifetime been an intruder into his family quite as far as politeness can be expected to put up with. But what do the young woman say herself about it? Elizabeth, my child, come and hearken to what we be talking about, and not bide staring out o’ the window as if ye didn’t hear.”

“Donald and you must settle it,” murmured Elizabeth, still keeping up a scrutinizing gaze at some small object in the street. [Chapter XLIII, p. 511 in serial, pp. 381-382 in volume]

Commentary: Captain Newson "Returned from the Dead" prevents any reunion for Henchard

Not long after Susan learned from an acquaintance that her "marriage" to Newson was not legally binding, the jovial sailor was reported lost at sea. His death precipitated Susan's quest to find her first husband, and took him from Weydon-Priors to Casterbridge. And now the sailor, Elizabeth-Jane's natural father, thought dead some six years, re-enters her life just in time for her marriage to Farfrae. The coincidental arrival of Newson at the end of Chapter XLIII further alienates Elizabeth-Jane from Michael Henchard, who had rashly told the sailor that his daughter has died.

If Elizabeth-Jane is overjoyed to be reunited with her natural father on the very day that the groom and her father are finalizing arrangements for the wedding reception, why is she pensively looking out of the window? Although he has suffered from Henchard's lie, Newson begins to take Henchard's part: "And how could he know that I would be such a simpleton as to believe him?" She misconstrues Henchard's motives: "he did it to wrong you." The sympathetic reader knows better.

But, since Elizabeth's anxiety precedes Newson's revelation, her station at the window must reflect her hope that Henchard will return. In her pensive watching she contrasts the expansive sailor, sitting in the very armchair that Barnes featured in an earlier significant scene, the April 17th illustration "Well, Lucetta, I've a bit of news for ye," he said gaily in the serial (and excised from the volume) at the very close of Chapter XXXV. In contrast, self-contained, unemotional Farfrae is being deferential to his bride's father.

Scanned image and text 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.]


Allingham, Philip V. "A Consideration of Robert Barnes' Illustrations for Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge as Serialised in the London Graphic: 2 January-15 May, 1886." Victorian Periodicals Review 28, 1 (Spring 1995): pp. 27-39

Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge. The Graphic 33 (1886).

Hardy, Thomas. The Mayor of Casterbridge: A Story of a Man of Character. London: Osgood McIlvaine, 1895.

Jackson, Arlene. "The Mayor of Casterbridge: Realism and Metaphor."Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981. Pp. 96-104.

Created 28 July 2001

Last modified 22 March 2024