22 APRIL 1882, Page 23


Two on a Tower. By Thomas Hardy. Part I. (Triibner and Co.) —We are anxious to draw the attention of such of oar readers as do not object to making acquaintance with stories by periodical instal- ments to Mr. Hardy's new serial. If n•e may judge by the first part, it will have all the charm which we found in " Far from the Madding Crowd," " The Return of the Native," and other stories, in which Mr. Hardy's words seem to bring the very breezes, the scents and sounds of the heath, the wood, the fallow, or the stockyard, to our senses. We smell the fragrant gorse, or the resinous fir woods, or the earthy, damp moss, when we read these books ; we hear the storm gathering, and feel the first chill gust under the darkening sky, or the first hot breath of the thunder-laden air; we grow sad with the gentle dirge of the swaying pines, and solemn with the otherwise unbroken silence and the heavy shade of their groves. Mr. Hardy's very rabbits and squirrels seem to live for us, as they warily nib- ble their food, or scamper away, startled by the lightest movement. None of Mr. Hardy's novels are entirely without hints of this love of nature and intimate acquaintance with all its aspects ; but in "A Laodicean," as in "The Hand of Ethelberta," they are few and far between ; and original as is the conception and striking the execu- tion of these stories, they lack the undoubtedly special character- istics of Mr. Hardy's genius, the marvellously keen observation alike of the ordinary and phenomenal aspects of nature, and of the quaint thoughts and peculiar habits of the dwellers in its neighbourhood and amongst its scenes. It is impossible to deny that in the groups of shrewd, cynical, or humorous peasants—with here and there a comi- cally simple imbecile—we see, not perhaps an ordinary company of neighbours, as we are expected to suppose them, but a selection of the rarer and more exceptional ones from the whole village. We see no fault in this. We do not wish, in a story, to be bored by the talk of totally common-place people, but to see into the minds of those who have minds to see into. And we do not believe that the critics are by any means altogether right who charge Mr. Hardy with exag- geration and even invention, in order that he may amuse his readers with characters that do not exist. We believe that there is as much shrewd- ness, originality, and humour amongst the peasantry, as amongst any other class, but that it does not come out in the presence of the gentry. The very ignorance and superstition of the agricultural poor give rise to and foster much of the amusing quaintness of thought which Mr. Hardy describes ; indeed, there can be little doubt that education, while it adds so much to knowledge, has a vast tendency to smooth away originality of thought, and certainly must drain that reservoir of strange opinion and fancy the sources of whose supply are ignorance and misconception. But we did not mean to write a review of Mr. Hardy's novel, with only one number to judge from ; we shall hope to give it a notice worthy of it, when the com- plete work is before us. We meant, now, only to call attention to the story, in order that the admirers of this class of Mr. Hardy's works might share our pleasure at once, and not remain in ignorance of Two on a Tower till it is published entire.