Del de la Mare

On page 279 of my Kindle edition there is a reference to 'Black Care'. I've looked on the internet but can't really find anything about this. Judging from the context it could mean an unofficial social care system rather like the Black Economy means unofficial hidden work separate from government and law. Can anyone confirm this?

To answer questions about Tess of the D'Urbervilles, please sign up.
Spock's Cat It comes from Horace, Ode 1 in book III ("black care, or anxiety" occurring at line 40; note that the Latin is 'cura' which can be translated as 'care' in both [English] senses of the word - solicitude or anxiety/sorrow - but in this context, is the latter):

"But Fear and Foreboding climb as high as the owner; black Anxiety does not quit the bronze-beaked galley, and sits behind the horseman."

The entire ode is about the virtues of the simple life, the overarching motif being that more wealth and luxury does not eliminate worry and anxiety from your life. Indeed, according to the ode, both the pursuit and possession of wealth and luxury often increases your unhappiness. Hence why, even as the rich man sails out on his ship or rides his beautiful steed, black sorrow is right there with him. Rather, Horace contends, we should be content with the essential and attainable joys of a simple, typically rural, life.

Thus, Hardy's reference to this in chapter 41 reminds us, firstly, that the misguided desire of Tess' parents to profit by their connections to the D'Urbervilles brought only misery for Tess. And of course, it points to Tess' own tragic experiences of that 'genteel' life. As in Horace, pursuit of wealth and luxury only yielded "Black Care". Furthermore, in this passage, Tess equates "indoor occupation" with that genteel life and, therefore, chooses rural occupations, thereby paralleling Horace's (and Hardy's) notion that a simple, rural life is a surer way to happiness.
Debralynn Could it mean the black death?
Jonele Black Care: a quotation from Horace's Odes Book III, i l.40. Tess's experience of gentility was confined to the d'Urbervilles at Trantridge, from which all her troubles had stemmed.

"But Fear and Menace climb up to the same place
where the lord climbs up, and dark Care will not leave
the bronze-clad trireme, and even sits
behind the horseman when he’s out riding."

Image for Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more