The frontispiece does not show the story's principal setting, the mill at Overcombe, the opening illustration in the magazine serial, but a panoramic view of Weymouth’s Esplanade, the Gloucester Lodge Hotel, and the Old Rooms, all of which are featured in a few scenes associated with Bob Loveday and the actress, Miss Matilda Johnson, in The Trumpet-Major (Good Words, January-December 1880). Adding a preface dated October 1895 to discuss the oral history of the Napoleonic Wars in Dorset, Hardy in discussing "the King's doings at his favourite watering-place" (vi) re-named renamed Weymouth "Budmouth" in the Osgood, McIlvaine edition. 1897. 8.6 cm high by 12.4 cm wide, framed, in Hardy's The Trumpet-Major John Loveday A Soldier in the War With Buonaparte and Robert His Brother First Mate in the Merchant Service, volume nine of the Osgood, McIlvaine Complete Uniform Edition of the Wessex Novels, in seventeen volumes (1895-1897). [Title-page]

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Two Passages Suggested by the Frontispiece

When they emerged upon the esplanade, the August moon was shining across the sea from the direction of St. Aldhelm's Head. Bob unconsciously loitered, and turned towards the pier. Reaching the end of the promenade they surveyed the quivering waters in silence for some time, until a long dark line shot from behind the promontory of the Nothe, and swept forward into the harbour.

"What boat is that?" said Anne.

"It seems to be some frigate lying in the Roads,"​said Bob carelessly, as he brought Anne round with a gentle pressure of his arm and bent his steps towards the homeward end of the town.​— Chapter 30, "At the Theatre Royal," p. 276-277.

It was the 3rd of September, but the King's watering-place still retained its summer aspect. The royal bathing-machine had been drawn out just as Bob reached Gloucester Buildings, and he waited a minute, in the lack of other distraction, to look on. Immediately that the King’s machine had entered the water a group of florid men with fiddles, violoncellos, a trombone, and a drum, came forward, packed themselves into another machine that was in waiting, and were drawn out into the waves in the King's​ rear. All that was to be heard for a few minutes were the slow pulsations of the sea; and then a deafening noise burst from the interior of the second machine with power enough to split the boards asunder; it was the condensed mass of musicians inside, striking up the strains of 'God save the King,'​as his Majesty's head rose from the water. Bob took off his hat and waited till the end of the performance, which, intended as a pleasant surprise to George III. by the loyal burghers, was possibly in the watery circumstances tolerated rather than desired by that dripping monarch.

Loveday then passed on to the harbour, where he remained awhile, looking at the busy scene of loading and unloading craft and swabbing the decks of yachts; at the boats and barges rubbing against the quay wall, and at the houses of the merchants, some ancient structures of solid stone, others green-shuttered with heavy wooden bow-windows which appeared as if about to drop into the harbour by their own weight. All these things he gazed upon, and thought of one thing — that he had caused great misery to his brother John.

The town clock struck, and Bob retraced his steps till he again approached the Esplanade and Gloucester Lodge, where the morning sun blazed in upon the house fronts, and not a spot of shade seemed to be attainable. A huzzaing attracted his attention, and he observed that a number of people had gathered before the King's residence, where a brown curricle had stopped, out of which stepped a hale man in the prime of life, wearing a blue uniform, gilt epaulettes, cocked hat, and sword, who crossed the pavement and went in. — Chapter 33, "A Discovery Turns the Scale," p. 302-303.

Text associated with the Half-Title and Title-Pages

Thomas Hardy's Works
The Wessex Novels
Volume IX.
The Trumpet-Major
John Loveday
A Soldier in the War With Buonaparte
Robert His Brother
First Mate in the Merchant Service

A Tale
The "Budmouth Harbour"
of the Story"
Drawn on the spot

"Loveday then passed on to the
​ harbour, where he remained
​ awhile, looking at the busy
scene of loading and unloading
craft ​. . . and at the houses
​ of the merchants." — Page 302.


In the complicated romantic triangle that has developed, the eponymous character appears to have lost Anne to his brother, retired merchant-sailor Bob Loveday, who has recovered from his infatuation with the actress Matilda Johnson. He has also escaped a press gang, but now feels guilty that he is not employing his nautical skills in the service of his country, menaced by Napoleon's fleets. Anne, Bob, and John go to a play at the Theatre Royal in Budmouth, and see the King (George III) in his bathing machine at the royal summer residence, Gloucester Lodge. ​Ironically, although John Collier received a great deal of input from Hardy about the thirty-two illustrations for the magazine serial, Good Words has not a single illustration featuring Weymouth (later, "Budmouth"), most of the wood-engravings involving scenes in the vicinity of Overcombe Mill, where the principal characters live. Although Bob is depicted driving Matilda Johnson in a wagon out of the city in Chapter 16, Bob did not hurry the horse, there being so many things to say and hear​ (May 1880), and the tale's heroine, Anne Garland, is depicted watching Nelson's ship Victory off Portland Bill​in Chapter 34, Anne swept with her eyes the tremulous expanse of waters around her (October 1880), none of the scenes in the 1880 serial offers a view the city even as a backdrop. Collier does show Bob and Anne, dressed in the latest fashion, attending the theatre in Chapter 30, Two forms crossed the line at a startling nearness to her (September 1880), but the figures are not presented against buildings or street. Indeed, in Collier's most effective scenes backdrops are unusual. Hardy may have determined in the Uniform Edition to supply a necessary element lacking in the serial illustrations:

Finally, illustrations which present landscapes, either as foreground or background, are flat and interesting — perfunctory and not individualized. The novel's actual setting, of course, is quite a distinct part of England, and its generalized quality as presented in the Collier illustrations is particularly surprising, in view of Hardy's concern for detail and his love of the Dorset coast. As noted earlier, however, landscape was not the forté of magazine serial illustration, and none of Hardy's illustrators is able to do justice to Hardy's descriptions of nature or his fine sense of nature's drama. — Jackson, "The Minor Novels," p. 123-24.

Jackson contends that the minor novel is a weak vehicle for artistic complement, and that Collier had to make the most of what the story had to offer, "details of dress — fashionable and military" (124). However, undoubtedly the seaside town of Weymouth and the Nothe (projecting into the sea between Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour) as both John Collier and Henry Macbeth-Raeburn would have experienced it in the latter part of the nineteenth century would have offered plenty of interesting harbour and architectural scenes (including the mile-long Esplanade), and Hardy himself grew to know the area intimately when he worked for the architect Crickmay at Weymouth from the summer of 1869 through May 1870. The sea front's chief feature is the town's statue of King George III (marking the fiftieth year of his reign, in 1809), based on a design by architect James Hamilton, situated at the junction of Weymouth's two main streets, St. Mary Street and St. Thomas Street. Beginning in 1789 (the year after he suffered his first attack of porphyria), the reigning monarch visited the seaside resort on a total of fourteen separate occasions, staying at Gloucester Lodge on the Esplanade to indulge in sea-bathing from a machine designed for the purpose and to enjoy the invigorating sea air as part of his recuperation. His benign presence in the novel and that of Captain Hardy, as well as the realistic backdrop of Weymouth, render The Trumpet-Major an historical novel in the manner of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels (1814-1828).


Hardy, Thomas. The Trumpet-Major. Illustrated by John Collier. Good Words. January—December 1871.

Hardy, Thomas. The Trumpet-Major John Loveday A Soldier in the War With Buonaparte and Robert His Brother First Mate in the Merchant Service. Illustrated by Henry Macbeth-Raeburn. Volume Nine in the Complete Uniform Edition of the Wessex Novels. London: Osgood, McIlvaine; 1895.

Jackson, Arlene M. "The Minor Novels." Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981. Pp. 120-129.

Millgate, Michael. Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 2004.

Pinion, F. B. A Hardy Companion. Trowbridge, Wiltshire: Macmillan, 1968.

Purdy, Richard L. Thomas Hardy: A Bibliographical Study. Oxford: Clarendon, 1954, rpt. 1978.

Robinson, Denys K. The Landscape of Thomas Hardy.Exeter: Webb & Bower, 1984.

Seymour-Smith, Martin. Hardy. London: Bloomsbury, 1994.

Turner, Paul. The Life of Thomas Hardy. A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.

Vann, J. Don. "The Trumpet Major in Good Words, January—December 1880." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985. Pages 84-85.

Wright, Sarah Bird. Thomas Hardy A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 2002.

Last modified 1 February 2017