by John McGivering)
'...reaction to Hardy’s tragic artistries in circumstances that made him define his own attitude to comic chance more clearly. Hitherto he had proceeded upon the traditional basis of farce without comment; “The Rout of the White Hussars” and “The Arrest of Lieutenant Golightly” (both in Plain Tales from the Hills) run their brief and boisterous course without inviting any celestial onlookers, and there is no elaboration of the gusto with which, in “The Battle of Rupert Square” he watches the tenacious, ingenious and silent conflict between a cabby and a sailor, his would-be fare. while the horse trots round and round the square, until the cab disintegrates…Tompkins also reminds the reader (page xiv) of:
…the ‘I’ of the tales, wherever, as is often the case, ‘narrator’ is ambiguous. This character is sometimes indistinguishable from Kipling the writer, but by no means always…She elaborates the point on page 256, in her chapter on 'Change and Persistence."
There’s a grim one-horse hearse in a jolly round trotfusee a long-burning match that will stay alight in a wind.
To the churchyard a pauper is going I wot
The road it is rough, and the hearse has no springs
And hark to the dirge that the sad driver sings—
'Rattle his bones over the stones
He's only a pauper whom nobody owns !'
[Rhymes and Roundelays by Thomas Noel published by William Smith of Fleet Street, 1841. There are five more verses]