Letter from Thomas Hardy to Arthur Hopkins, 20 February 1878

[Page 1] (see page 257) May 1878

My dear Sir,

I think you have chosen well for the May illustration – certainly the incident after the mumming, with the mummers looking on, will be better than the mumming performance itself. Eustacia in boy's clothes, though pleasant enough to the imagination, would perhaps be unsafe as a picture. The sketch of a mummer's dress which I sent was merely intended to show the general system on which they used to decorate themselves: the surcoat or tunic was formed of a white smockfrock rather shorter than usual, tied in round the waist by a [Page 2] strap – this was almost invariably the groundwork of the costume: thus.

[Sketch of an original smock]

original smockfk.

[Sketch of a smock tied in.]

same tied in

[Sketch of a smock decorated with ribbon.]

same decorated with ribbon

The figure in these sketches is however too short, except the third. The helmet was made of pasteboard, & was much like one of those articles called "tea-cosys" which people use now a days for keeping the tea-pot warm,

[Sketch of the helmet]

with a tuft at the top. The sword was wood, of course, & the staff, which was never dispensed with, consisted of a straight stick the size of a broom handle, 5 or 6 feet long, with small sticks inserted cross wise at the [Page 3] upper end: from the end of these small sticks paper tassels dangled.

[Sketch of staff which appears next to the writing on left side of the page]

Mummer's staff or spear

This was held erect in the left hand while the sword was brandished in the right. Father Christmas was a conventional figure – an old man with a humpback, & a great club.

I should prefer to leave Clym's face entirely to you. A thoughtful young man of 25 is all that can be shown, as the particulars of his appearance given in the story are too minute to be represented in a small drawing.

A mummer or two in the corner of the picture would make it very interesting – but do not be at all hampered by my suggestions [Page 4] for I may attach an undue importance to the mummers.

Very truly yours

Thomas Hardy.

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