The Clerk Saw the Hunting Man Pass by Charles Green — an illustration for Thomas Hardy's "Andrey Satchel and the Parson and the Clerk," first appeared in the framed-tale series Wessex Folk (subsequently renamed A Few Crusted Characters) in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (April 1891): 703. Lithograph, 9.8 cm high by 12.1 cm wide.

Passage Illustrated

'Now the clerk was the parson's groom and gardener and jineral manager, and had just got back to his work in the garden when he, too, saw the hunting man pass, and presently saw lots more of 'em, noblemen and gentry, and then he saw the hounds, the huntsman, Jim Treadhedge, the whipper-in, and I don’t know who besides. The clerk loved going to cover as frantical as the pa'son, so much so that whenever he saw or heard the pack he could no more rule his feelings than if they were the winds of heaven. He might be bedding, or he might be sowing — all was forgot. So he throws down his spade and rushes in to the pa'son, who was by this time as frantical to go as he. [Wessex Folk, "Andrey Satchel and the Parson and the Clerk," in the Osgood, McIlvaine edition of Life's little Ironies, 260]


In this fourth plate for Thomas Hardy's nine framed tales in Wessex Folk, which Harper's New Monthly Magazine serialised in the spring of 1891, Green depicts a moment involving only a secondary character — Parson Toogood's factotum and avid fox-hunting clerk (never actually named). Again, what seems a minor incident, the clerk's watching a suitably attired hunter pass on horseback, underscores the importance of coincidence in our lives. Had the clerk not been working in the garden and had he not seen the horseman going to the meeting of the hounds, the Parson would have performed the marriage ceremony punctually for the desperate Jane and her drunken groom, Andrey — thereby ruining the humour of the anecdote.

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 photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Brady, Kristin. The Short Stories of Thomas Hardy: Tales of Past and Present. London & Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1984.

Hardy, Thomas. "Andrey Satchel and the Parson and the Clerk." [April 1891] Life's Little Ironies: A Set of Tales with Some Colloquial Sketches Entitled "A Few Crusted Characters." London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1894. 255-67.

Hardy Thomas. Wessex Folk (subsequently renamed A Few Crusted Characters) in Harper's New Monthly Magazine 81 (March-May 1891): 594, 701, 703, 891, 894; 82 (June 1891): 123.

Ray, Martin. Chapter 25, "A Few Crusted Characters." Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997. 228-58.

Created 2 June 2008

Last modified 18 April 2020