<br/>Angel Clare rises out of the past not altogether as a
distinct figure, but as an appreciative voice, a long
regard of fixed, abstracted eyes, and a mobility of
mouth somewhat too small and delicately lined for a
man's, though with an unexpectedly firm close of the
lower lip now and then; enough to do away with any
inference of indecision. Nevertheless, something
nebulous, preoccupied, vague, in his bearing and
regard, marked him as one who probably had no very
definite aim or concern about his material future.
Yet as a lad people had said of him that he was one who
might do anything if he tried.
<br/>He was the youngest son of his father, a poor parson at
the other end of the county, and had arrived at
Talbothays Dairy as a six months' pupil, after going
the round of some other farms, his object being to
acquire a practical skill in the various processes of
farming, with a view either to the Colonies or the
tenure of a home-farm, as circumstances might decide.
<br/>His entry into the ranks of the agriculturists and
breeders was a step in the young man's career which had
been anticipated neither by himself nor by others.
<br/>Mr Clare the elder, whose first wife had died and left
him a daughter, married a second late in life. This
lady had somewhat unexpectedly brought him three sons,
so that between Angel, the youngest, and his father the
Vicar there seemed to be almost a missing generation.
Of these boys the aforesaid Angel, the child of his old
age, was the only son who had not taken a University
degree, though he was the single one of them whose
early promise might have done full justice to an
<br/>Some two or three years before Angel's appearance at
the Marlott dance, on a day when he had left school and
was pursuing his studies at home, a parcel came to the
Vicarage from the local bookseller's, directed to the
Reverend James Clare. The Vicar having opened it and
found it to contain a book, read a few pages; whereupon
he jumped up from his seat and went straight to the
shop with the book under his arm.
<br/>"Why has this been sent to my house?" he asked
peremptorily, holding up the volume.
<br/>"It was ordered, sir."
<br/>"Not by me, or any one belonging to me, I am happy to
<br/>The shopkeeper looked into his order-book.
<br/>"Oh, it has been misdirected, sir," he said. "It was
ordered by Mr Angel Clare, and should have been sent to
<br/>Mr Clare winced as if he had been struck. He went home
pale and dejected, and called Angel into his study.
<br/>"Look into this book, my boy," he said. "What do you
know about it?"
<br/>"I ordered it," said Angel simply.
<br/>"How can you think of reading it?"
<br/>"How can I? Why—it is a system of philosophy.
There is no more moral, or even religious, work published."
<br/>"Yes—moral enough; I don't deny that. But
religious!—and for <i>you</i>, who intend to be a minister of
<br/>"Since you have alluded to the matter, father," said
the son, with anxious thought upon his face, "I should
like to say, once for all, that I should prefer not to
take Orders. I fear I could not conscientiously do so.
I love the Church as one loves a parent. I shall always
have the warmest affection for her. There is no
institution for whose history I have a deeper
admiration; but I cannot honestly be ordained her
minister, as my brothers are, while she refuses to
liberate her mind from an untenable redemptive
<br/>It had never occurred to the straightforward and
simple-minded Vicar that one of his own flesh and blood
could come to this! He was stultified, shocked,
paralysed. And if Angel were not going to enter the
Church, what was the use of sending him to Cambridge?
The University as a step to anything but ordination
seemed, to this man of fixed ideas, a preface without a
volume. He was a man not merely religious, but devout;
a firm believer—not as the phrase is now elusively
construed by theological thimble-riggers in the Church
and out of it, but in the old and ardent sense of the
Evangelical school: one who could
That the Eternal and Divine<br/>
Did, eighteen centuries ago<br/>
In very truth…<br/>
<br/>Angel's father tried argument, persuasion, entreaty.
<br/>"No, father; I cannot underwrite Article Four (leave
alone the rest), taking it 'in the literal and
grammatical sense' as required by the Declaration; and,
therefore, I can't be a parson in the present state of
affairs," said Angel. "My whole instinct in matters of
religion is towards reconstruction; to quote your
favorite Epistle to the Hebrews, 'the removing of those
things that are shaken, as of things that are made,
that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.'"
<br/>His father grieved so deeply that it made Angel quite
ill to see him.
<br/>"What is the good of your mother and me economizing and
stinting ourselves to give you a University education,
if it is not to be used for the honour and glory of
God?" his father repeated.
<br/>"Why, that it may be used for the honour and glory of
<br/>Perhaps if Angel had persevered he might have gone to
Cambridge like his brothers. But the Vicar's view of
that seat of learning as a stepping-stone to Orders
alone was quite a family tradition; and so rooted was
the idea in his mind that perseverance began to appear
to the sensitive son akin to an intent to
misappropriate a trust, and wrong the pious heads of
the household, who had been and were, as his father had
hinted, compelled to exercise much thrift to carry out
this uniform plan of education for the three young men.
<br/>"I will do without Cambridge," said Angel at last.
"I feel that I have no right to go there in the
<br/>The effects of this decisive debate were not long in
showing themselves. He spent years and years in
desultory studies, undertakings, and meditations; he
began to evince considerable indifference to social
forms and observances. The material distinctions of
rank and wealth he increasingly despised. Even the
"good old family" (to use a favourite phrase of a late
local worthy) had no aroma for him unless there were
good new resolutions in its representatives. As a
balance to these austerities, when he went to live in
London to see what the world was like, and with a view
to practising a profession or business there, he was
carried off his head, and nearly entrapped by a woman
much older than himself, though luckily he escaped not
greatly the worse for the experience.
<br/>Early association with country solitudes had bred in
him an unconquerable, and almost unreasonable, aversion
to modern town life, and shut him out from such success
as he might have aspired to by following a mundane
calling in the impracticability of the spiritual one.
But something had to be done; he had wasted many
valuable years; and having an acquaintance who was
starting on a thriving life as a Colonial farmer, it
occurred to Angel that this might be a lead in the
right direction. Farming, either in the Colonies,
America, or at home—farming, at any rate, after
becoming well qualified for the business by a careful
apprenticeship—that was a vocation which would
probably afford an independence without the sacrifice
of what he valued even more than a
<br/>So we find Angel Clare at six-and-twenty here at
Talbothays as a student of kine, and, as there were no
houses near at hand in which he could get a comfortable
lodging, a boarder at the dairyman's.
<br/>His room was an immense attic which ran the whole
length of the dairy-house. It could only be reached by
a ladder from the cheese-loft, and had been closed up
for a long time till he arrived and selected it as his
retreat. Here Clare had plenty of space, and could
often be heard by the dairy-folk pacing up and down
when the household had gone to rest. A portion was
divided off at one end by a curtain, behind which was
his bed, the outer part being furnished as a homely
<br/>At first he lived up above entirely, reading a good
deal, and strumming upon an old harp which he had
bought at a sale, saying when in a bitter humour that
he might have to get his living by it in the streets
some day. But he soon preferred to read human nature
by taking his meals downstairs in the general
dining-kitchen, with the dairyman and his wife, and the
maids and men, who all together formed a lively
assembly; for though but few milking hands slept in the
house, several joined the family at meals. The longer
Clare resided here the less objection had he to his
company, and the more did he like to share quarters
with them in common.
<br/>Much to his surprise he took, indeed, a real delight in
their companionship. The conventional farm-folk of his
imagination—personified in the newspaper-press by the
pitiable dummy known as Hodge—were obliterated after a
few days' residence. At close quarters no Hodge was to
be seen. At first, it is true, when Clare's
intelligence was fresh from a contrasting society,
these friends with whom he now hobnobbed seemed a
little strange. Sitting down as a level member of the
dairyman's household seemed at the outset an
undignified proceeding. The ideas, the modes, the
surroundings, appeared retrogressive and unmeaning.
But with living on there, day after day, the acute
sojourner became conscious of a new aspect in the
spectacle. Without any objective change whatever,
variety had taken the place of monotonousness. His host
and his host's household, his men and his maids, as
they became intimately known to Clare, began to
differentiate themselves as in a chemical process. The
thought of Pascal's was brought home to him: "<i>A mesure
qu'on a plus d'esprit, on trouve qu'il y a plus
d'hommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trouvent pas
de différence entre les hommes</i>." The typical
and unvarying Hodge ceased to exist. He had been
disintegrated into a number of varied
fellow-creatures—beings of many minds, beings infinite
in difference; some happy, many serene, a few
depressed, one here and there bright even to genius,
some stupid, others wanton, others austere; some mutely
Miltonic, some potentially Cromwellian—into men who
had private views of each other, as he had of his
friends; who could applaud or condemn each other, amuse
or sadden themselves by the contemplation of each
other's foibles or vices; men every one of whom walked
in his own individual way the road to dusty death.
<br/>Unexpectedly he began to like the outdoor life for its
own sake, and for what it brought, apart from its
bearing on his own proposed career. Considering his
position he became wonderfully free from the chronic
melancholy which is taking hold of the civilized races
with the decline of belief in a beneficent Power. For
the first time of late years he could read as his
musings inclined him, without any eye to cramming for a
profession, since the few farming handbooks which he
deemed it desirable to master occupied him but little
<br/>He grew away from old associations, and saw something
new in life and humanity. Secondarily, he made close
acquaintance with phenomena which he had before known
but darkly—the seasons in their moods, morning and
evening, night and noon, winds in their different
tempers, trees, waters and mists, shades and silences,
and the voices of inanimate things.
<br/>The early mornings were still sufficiently cool to
render a fire acceptable in the large room wherein they
breakfasted; and, by Mrs Crick's orders, who held that
he was too genteel to mess at their table, it was Angel
Clare's custom to sit in the yawning chimney-corner
during the meal, his cup-and-saucer and plate being
placed on a hinged flap at his elbow. The light from
the long, wide, mullioned window opposite shone in upon
his nook, and, assisted by a secondary light of cold
blue quality which shone down the chimney, enabled him
to read there easily whenever disposed to do so.
Between Clare and the window was the table at which his
companions sat, their munching profiles rising sharp
against the panes; while to the side was the milk-house
door, through which were visible the rectangular leads
in rows, full to the brim with the morning's milk. At
the further end the great churn could be seen
revolving, and its slip-slopping heard—the moving
power being discernible through the window in the form
of a spiritless horse walking in a circle and driven by
<br/>For several days after Tess's arrival Clare, sitting
abstractedly reading from some book, periodical, or
piece of music just come by post, hardly noticed that
she was present at table. She talked so little, and
the other maids talked so much, that the babble did not
strike him as possessing a new note, and he was ever in
the habit of neglecting the particulars of an outward
scene for the general impression. One day, however,
when he had been conning one of his music-scores, and
by force of imagination was hearing the tune in his
head, he lapsed into listlessness, and the music-sheet
rolled to the hearth. He looked at the fire of logs,
with its one flame pirouetting on the top in a dying
dance after the breakfast-cooking and boiling, and it
seemed to jig to his inward tune; also at the two
chimney crooks dangling down from the cotterel, or
cross-bar, plumed with soot, which quivered to the same
melody; also at the half-empty kettle whining an
accompaniment. The conversation at the table mixed in
with his phantasmal orchestra till he thought: "What a
fluty voice one of those milkmaids has! I suppose it is
the new one."
<br/>Clare looked round upon her, seated with the others.
<br/>She was not looking towards him. Indeed, owing to his
long silence, his presence in the room was almost
<br/>"I don't know about ghosts," she was saying; "but I do
know that our souls can be made to go outside our
bodies when we are alive."
<br/>The dairyman turned to her with his mouth full, his
eyes charged with serious inquiry, and his great knife
and fork (breakfasts were breakfasts here) planted
erect on the table, like the beginning of a gallows.
<br/>"What—really now? And is it so, maidy?" he said.
<br/>"A very easy way to feel 'em go," continued Tess, "is
to lie on the grass at night and look straight up at
some big bright star; and, by fixing your mind upon it,
you will soon find that you are hundreds and hundreds
o' miles away from your body, which you don't seem to
want at all."
<br/>The dairyman removed his hard gaze from Tess, and fixed
it on his wife.
<br/>"Now that's a rum thing, Christianer—hey? To think
o' the miles I've vamped o' starlight nights these last
thirty year, courting, or trading, or for doctor, or
for nurse, and yet never had the least notion o' that
till now, or feeled my soul rise so much as an inch
above my shirt-collar."
<br/>The general attention being drawn to her, including
that of the dairyman's pupil, Tess flushed, and
remarking evasively that it was only a fancy, resumed
<br/>Clare continued to observe her. She soon finished her
eating, and having a consciousness that Clare was
regarding her, began to trace imaginary patterns on the
tablecloth with her forefinger with the constraint of a
domestic animal that perceives itself to be watched.
<br/>"What a fresh and virginal daughter of Nature that
milkmaid is!" he said to himself.
<br/>And then he seemed to discern in her something that was
familiar, something which carried him back into a
joyous and unforeseeing past, before the necessity of
taking thought had made the heavens gray. He concluded
that he had beheld her before; where he could not tell.
A casual encounter during some country ramble it
certainly had been, and he was not greatly curious
about it. But the circumstance was sufficient to lead
him to select Tess in preference to the other pretty
milkmaids when he wished to contemplate contiguous
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