Letter from Thomas Hardy to Florence Henniker, 19 December 1921

[Page 1]

Max Gate,


My dear friend.

I have delayed my reply to your kind letter a few days, to bring it into Christmastide, when I know you like to receive missives, even of such a dull character as mine is likely to be I fear. Thank you for your inquiries: we have recovered & are now as well as two aged people can hope to be (F. will thank me for putting it this way!) I fancy from the brightness of your letter that you are already profiting [Page 2] from the country air, even though you must miss the people you are able to see in London. We are in a drizzle here today, though the weather has on the whole been good.

Bognor I seem to know quite well from friends, though I have never actually set foot in it – which is very stupid, as I have been to Chichester, Worthing, & all about there several times. The young architect who was the original of Stephen Smith in "A Pair of Blue Eyes" (so far as he had any original) used to be enthusiastic on Bognor & to go there with his family. [Page 3] "Blake’s Cottage" makes Felpham interesting: but which Blake does it mean? Since writing this question I have discovered that it means Blake the poet. Hayley was a poetaster, Blake’s friend, & was ridiculed by Byron in "English Bards." I don’t know what "steyne" means, unless it is a paved way.

I have read very little on the Irish situation lately: it was so worrying that I had to give it up. "Irish Free State" does, as you say, sound unromantic. The Ireland Free State, or Irish Freeland would perhaps be less so.

Walter de la Mare has sent us his new poems. They are rather too obscure, I think: but many of them have his own peculiar beauty in them when you get to the bottom [Page 4] of their meaning.

We were at our neighbours' the Hanburys at Kingston Maurward yesterday afternoon. Her father, Mr Symons-Jeune, whom you met, is coming ^to them^ to stay over Christmas, so we shall see him. A very mild little poem of mine appears in the Dec. Fortnightly, and to save trouble I send a ^spare^ proof of it instead of the heavy magazine. I have also another – a longer one – in the Dec. London Mercury. It would, I think, please you more than this trifling one, but I have neither proof nor magazine. The title is "Voices from things growing (in a churchyard)".

Now I come to wishing you a happy Xmas & New Year: as also does F., and many of them.

Yours affectionately

Th: H.

I had nearly forgotten to say that F. had a letter in last Friday’s Times (Dec 16.) about squirrels – I wonder if you saw it. Th. H.


F.R. – First page in Dec issue


THERE trudges one to a merrymaking
With a sturdy swing,
On whom the rain comes down.