Far from the Madding CrowdThomas Hardy / Romance & Love
E-text prepared by E-text prepared by anonymous Project Gutenbergvolunteers and revised by Joseph E. Loewenstein, M.D.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Preface I. Description of Farmer Oak--An Incident II. Night--The Flock--An Interior--Another Interior III. A Girl on Horseback--Conversation IV. Gabriel's Resolve--The Visit--The Mistake V. Departure of Bathsheba--A Pastoral Tragedy VI. The Fair--The Journey--The Fire VII. Recognition--A Timid Girl VIII. The Malthouse--The Chat--News IX. The Homestead--A Visitor--Half-Confidences X. Mistress and Men XI. Outside the Barracks--Snow--A Meeting XII. Farmers--A Rule--An Exception XIII. Sortes Sanctorum--The Valentine XIV. Effect of the Letter--Sunrise XV. A Morning Meeting--The Letter Again XVI. All Saints' and All Souls' XVII. In the Market-Place XVIII. Boldwood in Meditation--Regret XIX. The Sheep-Washing--The Offer XX. Perplexity--Grinding the Shears--A Quarrel XXI. Troubles in the Fold--A Message XXII. The Great Barn and the Sheep-Shearers XXIII. Eventide--A Second Declaration XXIV. The Same Night--The Fir Plantation XXV. The New Acquaintance Described XXVI. Scene on the Verge of the Hay-Mead XXVII. Hiving the Bees XXVIII. The Hollow Amid the Ferns XXIX. Particulars of a Twilight Walk XXX. Hot Cheeks and Tearful Eyes XXXI. Blame--Fury XXXII. Night--Horses Tramping XXXIII. In the Sun--A Harbinger XXXIV. Home Again--A Trickster XXXV. At an Upper Window XXXVI. Wealth in Jeopardy--The Revel XXXVII. The Storm--The Two Together XXXVIII. Rain--One Solitary Meets Another XXXIX. Coming Home--A Cry XL. On Casterbridge Highway XLI. Suspicion--Fanny Is Sent For XLII. Joseph and His Burden--Buck's Head XLIII. Fanny's Revenge XLIV. Under a Tree--Reaction XLV. Troy's Romanticism XLVI. The Gurgoyle: Its Doings XLVII. Adventures by the Shore XLVIII. Doubts Arise--Doubts Linger XLIX. Oak's Advancement--A Great Hope L. The Sheep Fair--Troy Touches His Wife's Hand LI. Bathsheba Talks with Her Outrider LII. Converging Courses LIII. Concurritur--Horae Momento LIV. After the Shock LV. The March Following--Bathsheba Boldwood LVI. Beauty in Loneliness--After All LVII. A Foggy Night and Morning--Conclusion
In reprinting this story for a new edition I am reminded that it wasin the chapters of Far from the Madding Crowd, as they appearedmonth by month in a popular magazine, that I first ventured to adoptthe word Wessex from the pages of early English history, and giveit a fictitious significance as the existing name of the districtonce included in that extinct kingdom. The series of novels Iprojected being mainly of the kind called local, they seemed torequire a territorial definition of some sort to lend unity to theirscene. Finding that the area of a single county did not afford acanvas large enough for this purpose, and that there were objectionsto an invented name, I disinterred the old one. The press and thepublic were kind enough to welcome the fanciful plan, and willinglyjoined me in the anachronism of imagining a Wessex population livingunder Queen Victoria;--a modern Wessex of railways, the penny post,mowing and reaping machines, union workhouses, lucifer matches,labourers who could read and write, and National school children.But I believe I am correct in stating that, until the existence ofthis contemporaneous Wessex was announced in the present story, in1874, it had never been heard of, and that the expression, a Wessexpeasant, or a Wessex custom, would theretofore have been taken torefer to nothing later in date than the Norman Conquest.
I did not anticipate that this application of the word to a modernuse would extend outside the chapters of my own chronicles. But thename was soon taken up elsewhere as a local designation. The firstto do so was the now defunct _Examiner_, which, in the impressionbearing date July 15, 1876, entitled one of its articles The WessexLabourer, the article turning out to be no dissertation on farmingduring the Heptarchy, but on the modern peasant of the south-westcounties, and his presentation in these stories.
Since then the appellation which I had thought to reserve to thehorizons and landscapes of a merely realistic dream-country, hasbecome more and more popular as a practical definition and thedream-country has, by degrees, solidified into a utilitarian regionwhich people can go to, take a house in, and write to the papersfrom. But I ask all good and gentle readers to be so kind as toforget this, and to refuse steadfastly to believe that there are anyinhabitants of a Victorian Wessex outside the pages of this and thecompanion volumes in which they were first discovered.
Moreover, the village called Weatherbury, wherein the scenes of thepresent story of the series are for the most part laid, would perhapsbe hardly discernible by the explorer, without help, in any existingplace nowadays; though at the time, comparatively recent, at whichthe tale was written, a sufficient reality to meet the descriptions,both of backgrounds and personages, might have been traced easilyenough. The church remains, by great good fortune, unrestored andintact, and a few of the old houses; but the ancient malt-house,which was formerly so characteristic of the parish, has been pulleddown these twenty years; also most of the thatched and dormeredcottages that were once lifeholds. The game of prisoner's base,which not so long ago seemed to enjoy a perennial vitality in frontof the worn-out stocks, may, so far as I can say, be entirely unknownto the rising generation of schoolboys there. The practice ofdivination by Bible and key, the regarding of valentines as things ofserious import, the shearing-supper, and the harvest-home, have, too,nearly disappeared in the wake of the old houses; and with them havegone, it is said, much of that love of fuddling to which the villageat one time was notoriously prone. The change at the root of thishas been the recent supplanting of the class of stationary cottagers,who carried on the local traditions and humours, by a populationof more or less migratory labourers, which has led to a break ofcontinuity in local history, more fatal than any other thing to thepreservation of legend, folk-lore, close inter-social relations, andeccentric individualities. For these the indispensable conditionsof existence are attachment to the soil of one particular spot bygeneration after generation.