Hardy’s ill-fortune seemed to be accentuated by the weather in January. A cold east wind brought rain, which could be heard wheezing through the joints of the buffeted back door, as the poem ‘A January Night’ testifies. A letter from his father at the year’s end had informed him that his mother was unwell but that both hoped to stay with him and Emma soon. On 1 February, hearing that her condition was worse, he travelled in the cold to Dorchester, where he saw his brother advancing with horse and wagonette towards the station entrance as rain fell in the gloom. A lamp at the bottom of the town showed the reins in Henry’s hands glistening with ice; the cold east wind entered Hardy’s sleeves and chilled him to the elbow as they crossed Fordington Moor; sleet and rain ‘shaved [them] like a razor’ most of the way to Higher Bockhampton. Hardy stayed two weeks, and found time to visit Weymouth and Portland to re-familiarize himself with settings for scenes in The Trumpet-Major. As he told Rebekah Owen years later, he learned many facts about local events at the time of the threatened French invasion from old relatives who had lived at Sutton Poyntz and Preston. On 12 February he made a sketch of the English Channel from Maine Down.
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Bibliography and References
- Reading in 1879: Björk, Literary Notes …, op. cit., pp. 122, 124–5, 126. Bosworth Smith: Lady Grogan, Reginald Bosworth Smith, op. cit.Google Scholar
- Hardy’s visit to Harrow School is recorded in his Life (F. E. Hardy in the Bibliography above).Google Scholar
- Fee increased proportionately: Edmund Blunden, Thomas Hardy (London: Macmillan, 1958) p. 48.Google Scholar