‘Things are as they are, and will be brought to their destined issue.’ This reflection from the Agamemnon, which had come to Jude at a time of unspeakable calamity, brought some consolation to Hardy, who realized that his stresses were small in comparison with the grief and suffering which the Boer War had brought to many. His principal ‘help for pain’ was action. Outings and meetings with friends afforded relief; the writing of poetry was even more fulfilling. He hoped to have another collection of poems published in May, but realized by March that he and his publishers needed much more time, especially for publication in America. On Sunday, 27 January, five days after her death, he had written verses in praise of Queen Victoria which were to be printed immediately in The Times, and supply the dedicatory opening of this next volume. Shortly afterwards, in a lengthy discussion with William Archer at Max Gate, he spoke among other things on war and pessimism. His belief that war was doomed ‘in the fulness of time’ because of its ‘absurdity’ makes his poem ‘The Sick Battle-God’ look over-optimistic. His own ‘practical philosophy’ (related, that is, to human endeavour) was melioristic; ‘what are my books’, he asked, ‘but one plea against “man’s inhumanity to man” — to woman — and to the lower animals?’
KeywordsBritish Museum Practical Philosophy Time Literary Supplement North American Review London County Council
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