She took up her position as directed in Chapters 25 ("The New Acquaintance Described.") through 29 ("Particulars of a Twilight Walk.") in Vol. 29: pages 641 through 661 (21 pages in instalment); plates: initial "I" (7.2 cm high by 6.1 cm wide; 3 by 2 ⅜ inches), signed "H. P." in lower-left corner. Sixth full-page engraving facing page 641, vertically-mounted, 10.3 cm high by 15.9 cm wide; 4 by 6 ¼ inches), framed, and signed "H Paterson' 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.]

Right: The initial-letter vignette and first full page of the sixth instalment of the story: T.

The June plate, marking the midpoint of the serialisation, is the first to depict the melodramatic and sensual villain, Sergeant Troy (distinguished by the three chevrons on his arm as described at the end of the May instalment, on page 533). Thus, the full-page wood-engraving takes us back to the previous episode when Liddy tantalizes Bathsheba by mentioning Troy's aristocratic origins after she has bumped into him in the dark, in the fir plantation. The last line of the May instalment — "It was a fatal omission of Boldwood's that he had never once told her she was beautiful" (534) — prepares us for Troy's displacing Boldwood as a potential husband in the sixth number. On the opening page of the sixth part the narrator assesses Troy's character, confirming what we have already deduced from his behaviour earlier with Fanny Robin. The narrator reminds us before the sword-play that, although to men Troy is honest and straight-forward, "to women [Troy] lied like a Cretan" (p. 642).

The classical allusion accords with the article in the same number entitled "Homer's Troy and Schiemann's" (pp. 663-674), which insists that the recently-rediscovered Ilium or Troy is a fraud and an imposture, and that Schliemann's account is not to be credited. Troy's deceptiveness is well illustrated by his failing to disclose the real danger in which Bathsheba is placing herself in the sword exercise; the sharpness of the blade is only revealed when he terrifies her by clipping a lock of her hair — one wonders later, when he quarrels with Bathsheba over the lock of blonde hair, whether he seduced Fanny Robin in precisely the same manner? In his capacity for mendacity and persuasive flattery, the sexy Sergeant Troy combines the talents of the wily Odysseus and persuasive Sinon, the geniuses behind the success of the strategem of the Trojan Horse whereby the Greeks tricked their way into the citadel that had withstood a ten-years' seige.

"At eight o'clock this midsummer evening" (p. 653) at the beginning of Chapter 28 Troy meets Bathsheba as he had proposed earlier that afternoon. In the sixth plate, she holds the sun-hat that she had hastily put on as she ran up the garden. Allingham] has captured an appropriate look of concentration on Bathsheba's face as she struggles (as suggested by the hand that grips the skirt) to remain still, but has failed to suggest the hypnotic force of Troy's sabre upon her because the moment illustrated is just as she takes "up her position as directed, facing Troy" (p. 654). We have a sense in the plate that the blade is somewhat removed from her figure, and that Allingham has avoided attempting to show the blade in motion as "a firmament of light, and of sharp hisses, resembling a sky-full of meteors close at hand" (p. 655). Instead, she objectifies as stage scene what is very much a heightened sensory experience, Bathsheba's moment by moment impressions of inverted rainbows and body-thrusts and the "scarlet haze" (p. 655) that is Troy's sword-arm seen in rapid motion as luminous streams of this aurora militaris" (p. 655). Thus, the illustration fails to suggest the phallic implications that Hardy underscores in Troy's remarking, perhaps with phallic implications, "My sword never errs" (p. 656). Allingham shows the scabbard lying in the grass, just beyond Troy's left foot; only the swaying of the scabbard-belt on his left hip betrays the speed with which he is about to carve a space in the air immediately about Bathsheba.

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

Last updated 7 November 2022