"'Merry and happy, was it?' asked the Chemist in a low voice. 'Merry and happy, old man?'"
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The Passage Illustrated
Barnard's picture of Professor Redlaw (left) and Philip Swidger holding the holly sprig with berries serves as an internal frontispiece for the last of the five Christmas Books, and realizes the following passage about the beneficial effects of memory:
Without any show of hurry or noise, or any show of herself even, she was so calm and quiet, Milly set the dishes she had brought upon the table, — Mr. William, after much clattering and running about, having only gained possession of a butter-boat of gravy, which he stood ready to serve.
"What is that the old man has in his arms?" asked Mr. Redlaw, as he sat down to his solitary meal.
"Holly, sir," replied the quiet voice of Milly.
"That's what I say myself, sir," interposed Mr. William, striking in with the butter-boat. "Berries is so seasonable to the time of year! — Brown gravy!"
"Another Christmas come, another year gone!" murmured the Chemist, with a gloomy sigh. "More figures in the lengthening sum of recollection that we work and work at to our torment, till Death idly jumbles all together, and rubs all out. So, Philip!" breaking off, and raising his voice as he addressed the old man, standing apart, with his glistening burden in his arms, from which the quiet Mrs. William took small branches, which she noiselessly trimmed with her scissors, and decorated the room with, while her aged father-in-law looked on much interested in the ceremony.
"My duty to you, sir," returned the old man. "Should have spoke before, sir, but know your ways, Mr. Redlaw — proud to say — and wait till spoke to! Merry Christmas, sir, and Happy New Year, and many of 'em. Have had a pretty many of 'em myself — ha, ha! — and may take the liberty of wishing 'em. I'm eighty-seven!"
"Have you had so many that were merry and happy?" asked the other.
"Ay, sir, ever so many," returned the old man. ["Chapter One: The Gift Bestowed," British Household Edition, p. 157]
Barnard's illustration of Redlaw and the Swidgers compared to those by Frank Stone and John Leech (1848)
Once again, the British Household Edition of The Christmas Books fails to match the visual interest of the original series' abundant but small-scale illustrations in the last of the scarlet-and-gold-stamped volumes, The Haunted Man (1848). Compare, for example, John Tenniel's elaborate psychomachia in the frontispiece in the original series with Barnard's introductory scene. As angels and demons wage war for the soul of the protagonist, his double, the "Phantom," leans over his shoulder, tempting him to see human existence as a bleak, cheerless Darwinian struggle. Thus, Tenniel establishes from the first the characteristic supernatural dimension of the story, whereas in Barnard's sequence the Phantom appears just once. Although Tenniel reinforces the supernatural or metaphysical element in the "good angel/bad angel" theme of the ornamental title-page, the other illustrators emphasize the domestic bonhomie of the soimetimes cartoon-like Swidgers, as opposed to the steady-going domestic realism of Fred Barnard's illustrations. If Barnard's treatment seems to lack the charm of the original volume's depictions of Redlaw and the Swidgers, it is decidedly stronger in its delineation of character than E. A. Abbey's equivalent, "I'm Eighty-Seven!" (p. 86) in the American Household Edition, a wood-engraving which, despite its detailing Redlaw's dinner-table and sideboard as the informing context, fails to reveal much about Redlaw and the two male Swidgers, all of whom seem oblivious to Milly's starting to decorate the room, although the scene is effectively and even sacramentally illuminated by the single gas-lamp on the narrow table (centre).
Stone and Leech work in very different pictorial traditions: "Milly and the Old Man" and "Redlaw and The Boy".
Aside from the Christmas feast in the Great Hall that closes "Part the Second," The Haunted Man lacks the whimsical humour and good feeling of A Christmas Christmas, despite the presence of a Cratchit-like family, the Swidgers. On the other hand, as reinforced by the wood engravings dropped into the text, the book does possess a number of "Carol" features: the social message pertinent to the Hungry Forties is still evident; standing in for Marley and the Christmas Spirits, the Phantom provides the supernatural machinery necessary to Redlaw's ephiphany; Johnny Tetterby and the baby "Moloch" are amusing children (although hardly as endearing as Tiny Tim); and the tale does move towards a life-changing realisation and social rein tegration for the misanthropic protagonist.
Having to miss a year in the sequence in order to complete Dombey and Son, in the autumn of 1848 Dickens returned to the Christmas Book "formula" with The Haunted Man, so that the Household Edition illustrations (far fewer in number than the collaborative programme of the original edition) necessarily focus on the character and spiritual journey of Dickens's only intellectual protagonist, the university chemistry Professor Redlaw. As Sarah Solberg notes, the frontispiece in the 1848 edition is "distinctly supernatural" (110); in contrast, the Household Edition illustrations by Barnard and Abbey offer only one "supernatural" scene, namely that of Redlaw entreating the Phantom to undo his dubious "gift" on p. 189 in the Chapman and Hall edition, and are otherwise thoroughly domestic (if not mundane and prosaic). As D. N. Brereton remarks of the domestic note in The Christmas Books:
In The Cricket on the Hearth, and again in The Haunted Man, which deservedly ranks as one of his best stories, Dickens came nearer to repeating the wonderful success of the Carol. In these little domestic idylls he strikes once more a responsive chord in the hearts of all those to whom Home in fancy, if not in reality, is the dwelling-place of sweetness and light. [xvii]
Brereton, D. N. "Introduction." Charles Dickens's Christmas Books. London and Glasgow: Collins Clear-Type Press, n. d.
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and his Original Illustrators. Columbus: University of Ohio Press, 1980.
Cook, James. Bibliography of the Writings of Dickens. London: Frank Kerslake, 1879. As given in Publishers' Circular The English Catalogue of Books.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Christmas Stories. Il. E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876. Pp. 143-175.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Christmas Books. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878. Pp. 157-200.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. Il. John Leech, John Tenniel, Frank Stone, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book, 1912.
Kitton, Frederic G. Dickens and His Illustrators. 1899. Rpt. Honolulu: U. Press of the Pacific, 2004.
Parker, David. "Christmas Books and Stories, 1844 to 1854." Christmas and Charles Dickens. New York: AMS Press, 2005. Pp. 221-282.
Patten, Robert L. Charles Dickens and His Publishers. University of California at Santa Cruz. The Dickens Project, 1991. rpt. from Oxford U. p., 1978.
Slater, Michael. "Introduction to The Haunted Man." Dickens's Christmas Books. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1971. Rpt., 1978. Vol. 2: 235-238.
Slater, Michael. "Notes to The Haunted Man." Dickens's Christmas Books. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1971. Rpt., 1978. Vol. 2: 365-366.
Solberg, Sarah A. "'Text Dropped into the Woodcuts': Dickens' Christmas Books." Dickens Studies Annual 8 (1980): 103-118.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 28 August 2012