But one of the girls who occupied an adjoining bed was more wakeful than Tess,
and would insist upon relating to the latter various particulars of the homestead
into which she had just entered. The girl's whispered words mingled with the shades,
and, to Tess's drowsy mind, they seemed to be generated by the darkness in which
''Mr Angel Clare-he that is learning milking, and that plays the harp-never says
much to us. He is a pa'son's son, and is too much taken up wi' his own thoughts
to notice girls. He is the dairyman's pupil-learning farming in all its branches.
He has learnt sheep-farming at another place, and he's now mastering dairy-workЕ.
Yes, he is quite the gentleman-born. His father is the Reverent Mr Clare at Emminster-a
good many miles from here.''
''Oh-I have heard of him,'' said her companion, now awake. ''A very earnest clergyman,
is he not?''
''Yes-that he is-the earnestest man in all Wessex, they say-the last of the old
Low Church sort, they tell me-for all about here be what they call High. All his
sons, except our Mr Clare, be made pa'sons too.''
Tess had not at this hour the curiosity to ask why the present Mr Clare was not
made a parson like his brethren, and gradually fell asleep again, the words of her
informant coming to her along with the smell of the cheeses in the adjoining cheeseloft,
and the measured dripping of the whey from the wrings downstairs.
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.
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.
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.
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 academical
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
''Why has this been sent to my house?'' he asked peremptorily, holding up the
''It was ordered, sir.''
''Not by me, or any one belonging to me, I am happy to say.''
The shopkeeper looked into his order-book.
''Oh, it has been misdirected, sir,'' he said. ''It was ordered by Mr Angel Clare,
and should have been sent to him.''
Mr Clare winced as if he had been struck. He went home pale and dejected, and
called Angel into his study.
''Look into this book, my boy,'' he said. ''What do you know about it?''
''I ordered it,'' said Angel simply.
''To read.'' ''How can you think of reading it?''
''How can I? Why-it is a system of philosophy. There is no more moral, or even
religious, work published.''
''Yes-moral enough; I don't deny that. But religious!-and for YOU, who intend
to be a minister of the Gospel!''
''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 theolarty.''
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
Did, eighteen centuries ago
In very truthЕ
Angel's father tried argument, persuasion, entreaty.
''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.'''
His father grieved so deeply that it made Angel quite ill to see him.
''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.
''Why, that it may be used for the honour and glory of man, father.''
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 his uniform plan of education
for the three young men.
''I will do without Cambridge,'' said Angel at last. ''I feel that I have no
right to go there in the circumstances.''
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.
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 competency-intellectual liberty.
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.
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 sitting-room.
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.
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: ''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 DIFFERENCE ENTRE LES HOMMES.''
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.
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 time.
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.
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 a
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.''