Far from the Madding Crowd
Particulars of a Twilight Walk
WE now see the element of folly distinctly mingling with the many varying
particulars which made up the character of Bathsheba Everdene. It was almost
foreign to her intrinsic nature. Introduced as lymph on the dart of Eros, it
eventually permeated and coloured her whole constitution. Bathsheba, though
she had too much understanding to be entirely governed by her womanliness,
had too much womanliness to use her understanding to the best advantage.
Perhaps in no minor point does woman astonish her helpmate more than in the
strange power she possesses of believing cajoleries that she knows to be false --
except, indeed, in that of being utterly sceptical on strictures that she knows to be
Bathsheba loved Troy in the way that only self-reliant women love when they
abandon their self-reliance. When a strong woman recklessly throws away her
strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to
throw away. One source of her inadequacy is the novelty of the occasion. She
has never had practice in making the best of such a condition. Weakness is
doubly weak by being new.
Bathsheba was not conscious of guile in this matter. Though in one sense a
woman of the world, it was, after all, that world of daylight coteries and green
carpets wherein cattle form the passing crowd and winds the busy hum; where a
quiet family of rabbits or hares lives on the other side of your party-wall, where
your neighbour is everybody in the tything, and where calculation is confined to
market-days. Of the fabricated tastes of good fashionable society she knew but
little, and of the formulated self-indulgence of bad, nothing at all. Had her utmost
thoughts in this direction been distinctly worded (and by herself they never were),
they would only have amounted to such a matter as that she felt her impulses to
be pleasanter guides than her discretion. Her love was entire as a child's, and
though warm as summer it was fresh as spring. Her culpability lay in her making
no attempt to control feeling by subtle and careful inquiry into consciences. She
could show others the steep and thorny way, but "reck'd not her own rede."
And Troy's deformities lay deep down from a woman's vision, whilst his
embellishments were upon the very surface; thus contrasting with homely Oak,
whose defects were patent to the blindest, and whose virtues were as metals in a
The difference between love and respect was markedly shown in her conduct.
Bathsheba had spoken of her interest in Boldwood with the greatest freedom to
Liddy, but she had only communed with her own heart concerning Troy.
All this infatuation Gabriel saw, and was troubled thereby from the time of his
daily journey a-field to the time of his return, and on to the small hours of many a
night. That he was not beloved had hitherto been his great sorrow; that
Bathsheba was getting into the toils was now a sorrow greater than the first, and
one which nearly obscured it. It was a result which paralleled the oft-quoted
observation of Hippocrates concerning physical pains.