"'You speak to me of what is lying here,' the Phantom interposed."
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The Passage Illustrated
Barnard's emotional study of the man of science, Chemistry Professor Redlaw (left), confronting his psychological double, whom he now begs to "undo" the gift of forgetfulness, realizes the following passage:
They were face to face again, and looking on each other, as intently and awfully as at the time of the bestowal of the gift, across the boy who still lay on the ground between them, at the Phantom's feet.
"Terrible instructor," said the Chemist, sinking on his knee before it, in an attitude of supplication, "by whom I was renounced, but by whom I am revisited (in which, and in whose milder aspect, I would fain believe I have a gleam of hope), I will obey without inquiry, praying that the cry I have sent up in the anguish of my soul has been, or will be, heard, in behalf of those whom I have injured beyond human reparation. But there is one thing —"
"You speak to me of what is lying here," the phantom interposed, and pointed with its finger to the boy.
"I do," returned the Chemist. "You know what I would ask. Why has this child alone been proof against my influence, and why, why, have I detected in its thoughts a terrible companionship with mine?"
"This," said the Phantom, pointing to the boy, "is the last, completest illustration of a human creature, utterly bereft of such remembrances as you have yielded up. No softening memory of sorrow, wrong, or trouble enters here, because this wretched mortal from his birth has been abandoned to a worse condition than the beasts, and has, within his knowledge, no one contrast, no humanising touch, to make a grain of such a memory spring up in his hardened breast. All within this desolate creature is barren wilderness. All within the man bereft of what you have resigned, is the same barren wilderness. Woe to such a man! Woe, tenfold, to the nation that shall count its monsters such as this, lying here, by hundreds and by thousands!"
Redlaw shrank, appalled, from what he heard.
"There is not," said the Phantom, "one of these — not one — but sows a harvest that mankind MUST reap. From every seed of evil in this boy, a field of ruin is grown that shall be gathered in, and garnered up, and sown again in many places in the world, until regions are overspread with wickedness enough to raise the waters of another Deluge. Open and unpunished murder in a city's streets would be less guilty in its daily toleration, than one such spectacle as this."
It seemed to look down upon the boy in his sleep. Redlaw, too, looked down upon him with a new emotion.
"There is not a father," said the Phantom, "by whose side in his daily or his nightly walk, these creatures pass; there is not a mother among all the ranks of loving mothers in this land; there is no one risen from the state of childhood, but shall be responsible in his or her degree for this enormity. There is not a country throughout the earth on which it would not bring a curse. There is no religion upon earth that it would not deny; there is no people upon earth it would not put to shame."
The Chemist clasped his hands, and looked, with trembling fear and pity, from the sleeping boy to the Phantom, standing above him with his finger pointing down.
"Behold, I say," pursued the Spectre, "the perfect type of what it was your choice to be. Your influence is powerless here, because from this child's bosom you can banish nothing. His thoughts have been in 'terrible companionship' with yours, because you have gone down to his unnatural level. He is the growth of man's indifference; you are the growth of man's presumption. The beneficent design of Heaven is, in each case, overthrown, and from the two poles of the immaterial world you come together."
The Chemist stooped upon the ground beside the boy, and, with the same kind of compassion for him that he now felt for himself, covered him as he slept, and no longer shrank from him with abhorrence or indifference. ["Chapter 3: The Gift Reversed," The British Household Edition, p. 188]
In this emotional lesson to the expert from the domain of science, the observations of the "Terrible instructor" about the child recall those of the Spirit of Christmas Present to the man of good business in A Christmas Carol about the societal dangers of those grim twins, Ignorance and Want, so effectively realised by John Leech in the 1843 edition:
"Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here." exclaimed the Ghost.
They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.
"Spirit, are they yours." Scrooge could say no more.
"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon them. "And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it." cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. "Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end."
"Have they no refuge or resource." cried Scrooge.
"Are there no prisons." said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. "Are there no workhouses." The bell struck twelve. ["Stave Three: The Second of the Three Spirits," The British Household Edition, p. 26]
Barnard's illustration of Redlaw and the Pantom compared to those by John Tenniel and John Leech (1848)
Barnard's depiction of the confrontation of Redlaw and his doppelganger, the Phantom,, synthsizes a number of such illustrations in the 1848 volume. However, whereas in those earlier illustrations by Doyle and Tenniel the Phantom leans over Redlaw's shoulder, whispering in his ear, in the 1878 large-scale wood-engraving the apparition rises before the scientist, hovering above the ground, suggesting that he is a spirit rather than a mere alter ego. Moreover, the picture alludes visually through the juxtaposition of the protagonist, the spirit, and the ragged urchin to Leech's cautionary figures "Ignorance and Want" in the first Christmas Book.
Barnard and the original Christmas Book illustrators work in very different pictorial traditions: realism versus fantasy. "Frontispiece", "Redlaw and the Phantom", and Leech's "Ignorance and Want".
Even omitting the Christmas feast in the Great Hall that closes "Chapter III, The Gift Reversed," The Haunted Man does possess a number of features reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, in particular, a "Phantom" who like Jacob Marley and the three "Spirits" of the season in Scrooge's spiritual recovery provides the supernatural machinery necessary to effect Redlaw's ephiphany. Ironically, the university science professor — an academic who believes in observation and rational conclusions — addresses his doppelganger as his "terrible instructor," as if Dickens is emphasising what his Benthamite philanthropist Thomas Gradgrind in Hard Times for These Times (1854) refers to as "the wisdom of the head"; Redlaw, rejected by a fiancee in youth, has neglected "the wisdom of the heart," and must now be educated in the latter in order to realise the value of all memories, painful and happy alike, in our relationships with others. Redlaw, an intellectual, must learn how to sympathise with the atavistic street boy who has invaded his personal space and reminded him of the suffering of the Hungry Forties that lies just outside the college's walls.
Since Dickens and his illustrators in "The Gift Bestowed" established the connection between Redlaw and his awful double, readers of the final Bradbury and Evans Christmas Book understood clearly by the third chapter that the Phantom was an extension of Redlaw himself as well as a spirit capable of suppressing painful memories. However, heretofore in The Household Edition volume Barnard has not depicted the Phantom, so that this illustration must do double duty, recalling the opening dialogue in "The Gift Bestowed" between Redlaw and his Doppelganger about his painful upbringing and young adulthood, and pointing towards a resolution of the problem as the Phantom commands Redlaw to seek out Milly. Since the reader cannot see much of Redlaw but his back in this illustration, Barnard makes visual reference to the costume, physiognomy, and form of Redlaw in the opening illustration in the appearance here of the Phantom, who, despite his emaciated face and haunted eye-sockets, resembles Redlaw in every point in the first plate, "'Merry and happy, was it?' asked the Chemist in a low voice".
However, whereas Dickens's orginal illustrators established the presence of the Phantom from the outset in Tenniel's "The Frontispiece" and reinforced this supernatural or metaphysical agent in Leech's "Redlaw and the Phantom", Barnard introduces the nihilistic figure very late in his brief narrative-pictorial program. The subject for Barnard may be a supernatural visitation, but the only signifier of the Phantom's nature is the absence of legs and feet as he hovers rather than stands above the sleeping waif. In other respects, the Phantom , apparently appearing before a blazing fire, is treated realistically. In this illustration there is neither the psychomachia that surrounds Redlaw and his double in Tenniel's frontispiece (in which, moreover, the spirit is sketched in lightly, suggesting transparency) nor the atmospheric shadows and bric-a-brac of Redlaw's study of Leech's version. Marked by deep shading in the foreground which sharply contrasts the bright background, Barnard's study of the tail-coated scientist and his spectral double is much more three-dimensional, emotional (almost operatically so in the case of the hand-wringing Redlaw) and active than the contemplative and static figures caught in profile in the 1848 illustrations. The pleading underscores Redlaw's desire (mirroring Scrooge's posture and attitude with the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come) for redemption and forgiveness from the Gothic figure who is a psychological projection of himself — and, as Barnard suggests here, something more.
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Last modified 1 September 2012