He saw a bather carried along in Chapters 48 ("Doubts Arise: Doubts Vanish") through 51 ("Bathsheba Talks with Her Outrider") in Vol. 30: pages 617 through 640 (24.3 pages in instalment); plates: "B" (6 cm wide by 7.5 cm high), signed "H. A." in lower-left corner. Facing page 490, vertically-mounted, 16 cm wide by 10.1 cm high, signed "H. Allingham" in the lower-left corner. The wood-engraver responsible for this illustration was Joseph Swain (1820-1909). [Click on the image to enlarge it; mouse over links.]

Above: The initial-letter vignette and first full page of the tenth instalment of the story: D in Far FRom the Madding Crowd (Vol. XXX).


For the first time in the series, in the November instalment of The Cornhill Magazine we see the result of Helen Paterson Allingham's having married the poet William Allingham on 22 August, 1874, for in the lower-left corner of the initial-letter vignette is "H. A.," and in lower-right corner of the full-page plate "He saw a bather carried along in the current." (facing page 617) is the signature "H. Allingham." Thus, only the November and December illustrations were completed after that date, although whether on her honeymoon or subsequently in her new London home at 12 Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, is uncertain. The main plate illustrates a passage at the end of Ch. 48: "At that time he [Dr. Barker of Budmouth] saw a bather carried along in the current outside the mouth of the cove [Lulstead Cove — contemporary image], and guessed in an instant that there was but a poor chance for him . . ." (p. 620); thus, Helen Paterson Allingham has selected for illustration an incident very early in the eleventh instalment rather than one of the more striking moments later in this number, such as Troy's stealing Pennyways' note from Bathsheba's grasp from under the tent or Troy's enacting the role of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin on Black Bess before an audience that contains many fair-goers from Weatherbury, including the sole person in the reserved seats, Bathsheba.

Jackson criticizes the Lulworth Cove plate for its "flat and wooden delineation" (82), yet it is one of the few landscape studies in the 1874 sequence, and certainly one of the most forceful depictions of Hardy's Wessex. Usually, Allingham depicts nature as mere backdrop to the human drama: in the February plate, for instance, the figures in the fore- and middle-ground dominate, the works of humankind are of secondary, and the woods and hills of tertiary importance. In contrast to the large figures and generalised woodland background of the February, April, May, June, July, August, and September full-page plates, the setting is virtually the major figure in the composition of the November plate. Its wild and craggy fierceness are wholly appropriate as a context for Troy's disappearance. Indeed, the tempestuous and Romantic character of the place is augmented by literary associations, for here at Lulworth Cove in September, 1820 (or nearby), the consumptive Keats landed on his final journey to Rome, and wrote the sonnet "Bright Star," a literary tradition of which Hardy was well aware, although he did not make the occasion the subject of a literary text until 1920, when he wrote the lyric "At Lulworth Cove a Century Back." Since Paterson-Allingham's having actually visited the spot herself is unlikely, she was probably working from a description and perhaps even a rough seascape provided by Hardy himself. What Allingham shows us of the cove, prominently marked on Hardy's 1895 map of the Wessex of his fiction, is consistent with the physical description afforded by The Dorset Page:

Situated about 8 miles east of Weymouth is Lulworth Cove — a cove which has a very smooth, almost semi-circular shore-line. The geology of the area is most unique with exposed twisted rock strata indicating the once violent forces which shaped this corner of England. . . . . Stair Hole, just to the west of Lulworth Cove, is a remarkable small cove with natural arches cut into steeply-dipping Portland and basal Purbeck limestones. Through these arches and a gap where one has collapsed the sea enters to erode the softer parts of the Purbeck limestones and shales.

Although the illustrator has provided an example of such erosion just left of centre, the plate's version of the rocky cove does not contain the "pillars of Hercules to this miniature Mediterranean" (Ch. 47) at its mouth — a feature peculiar to the place that Hardy would utilise again in The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid in The Graphic (25 June, 1883). There, he describes this as the cove where the Baron (another dark, foreign interloper who comes between hero and heroine) has anchored his steam yacht.

Ironically Bathsheba's conviction that somehow Frank is still alive and will be found is 'shaken' by the newspaper account furnished by the only "eye-witness" (p. 620), for Dr. Barker of Budmouth was unable before the onset of dusk to gain a vantage point that would have enabled him to give definitive testimony about Troy's demise. Not part of the letter-press is Troy's waving, a gesture suggesting that he may be signalling for help. Prominent in the main illustration among the dark rocks and finely etched lines indicating the sand of the shore is the swimmer's clothing, which offers Bathsheba hope that her husband had not intended to commit suicide; the white and black pile, stage left, balances the figure of the sole spectator in respectable straw hat, downstage right. The obvious presence in the plate constitutes a problem in narrative-pictorial congruence, for had the clothes been in such an exposed position they would probably have been retrieved by Dr. Barker himself rather than the "coastguardsman" (p. 618) later.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Volume One: 1840-1892; Volume Three: 1903-1908, ed. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978, 1982.

Hardie, Martin. Water-colour Painting in Britain, Vol. 3: The Victorian Period, ed. Dudley Snelgrove, Jonathan Mayne, and Basil Taylor. London: B. T. Batsford, 1968.

Hardy, Thomas. Far From the Madding Crowd. With illustrations by Helen Paterson Allingham. The Cornhill Magazine. Vols. XXIX and XXX. Ed. Leslie Stephen. London: Smith, Elder, January through December, 1874.

Holme, Brian. The Kate Greenaway Book. Toronto: Macmillan Canada, 1976.

Jackson, Arlene M. Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.

Turner, Paul. The Life of Thomas Hardy: A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998, 2001.

Created 12 December 2001

Updated 27 October 2022