Letter from F. M. Bland to Thomas Hardy, 8 June 1909

[Page 1] F. M. Bland




Dear Sir

I have just read "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" with great interest. Whether the plot is founded on fact I know not but I happen to know an almost parallel case up to a certain point.

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A child barely sixteen was taken advantage of as was Tess with the same result.

She subsequently became acquainted with a most worthy man and between them a real affection such as one would imagine nothing could sever ended in their marriage.

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The incidents are the same. The girl often essayed to tell her lover what had happened [to] in her early days but without success as he always stopped her.

They were married – the mutual confession was made precisely as between Angel & Tess and exactly the same result ensued.

The man left his wife to rejoin his appoint­ [Page 4] ment in India and died of cholera within a year but before he left England he gave his parents some plausible excuse for leaving his wife and arranged that she should receive through them a monthly allowance telling her what he had done & that all letters between them should pass through the same channel. They corres­ [Page 5] ponded regularly for some time till some interfering busy-body a so-called "friend" of the family raked up the girl's history and told it to the man's parents who forthwith took upon themselves to stop the allowance and suppress all communication between the pair. The poor girl, [Page 6] now twenty, the same age as Tess, as honest and as true in her devotion to her husband, deserted, as she thought, by him and his parents entered into domestic service where her story by some unaccountable means appears to have become known resulting in her being summarily [Page 7] turned out of the house. Since then no trace of the unfortunate girl has been discovered.

It was not till the husband's death that all the facts became known. Among his papers was one relating all that had happened describing his intense affection for his wife and the remorse which came home to him when his letters were [Page 8] unanswered and the allowance remained unclaimed.

The state of mind of the man's parents for their share in the unhappy business for which they can never forgive themselves can well be imagined. The only excuse I have heard made for them is that they were actuated by a strict sense of morality [Page 9] but what is that morality which brings about such misery!

Thinking it might interest you to hear this I am

faithfully yours

F.M. Bland
Thomas Hardy Esq [Page 10]