Daniel Maclise and G. Dalziel (engraver)
13.6 x 7.8 cm
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham
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Second Illustration for Dickens's The Cricket on the Hearth, Chirp the First. The ornate title-page visually alludes to the operation of the Dutch clock and the "little Haymaker" in front of the Moorish palace (top centre), a mediaeval peasant whose scythe connects him with the traditional figure of Father Time:
But Mrs. Peerybingle, with restored good humour, dusted her chubby little hands against each other, and sat down before the kettle, laughing. Meantime, the jolly blaze uprose and fell, flashing and gleaming on the little Haymaker at the top of the Dutch clock, until one might have thought he stood stock still before the Moorish Palace, and nothing was in motion but the flame.
He was on the move, however; and had his spasms, two to the second, all right and regular. But, his sufferings when the clock was going to strike, were frightful to behold; and, when a Cuckoo looked out of a trap-door in the Palace, and gave note six times, it shook him, each time, like a spectral voice — or like a something wiry, plucking at his legs.
It was not until a violent commotion and a whirring noise among the weights and ropes below him had quite subsided, that this terrified Haymaker became himself again. Nor was he startled without reason; for these rattling, bony skeletons of clocks are very disconcerting in their operation, and I wonder very much how any set of men, but most of all how Dutchmen, can have had a liking to invent them. There is a popular belief that Dutchmen love broad cases and much clothing for their own lower selves; and they might know better than to leave their clocks so very lank and unprotected, surely. [The original Bradbury and Evans edition; pages 4-6]
The complicated image therefore prepares the reader for the ongoing motif of the operation of the Peerybingles' whimsical clock as a centrepiece of this "fairy tale of hearth and home," which exemplifies the exotic and fanciful in the everyday lives of humble folk. Dalziel has created appropriate "domestic" fairies, two of whom wear housekeeping caps and hold feather dusters while four others attempt to adjust the clock's pendulum as two others support the title. The border is composed of seasonal greenery. Both Maclise and George Dalziel have signed the complicated wood-engraving.
As was the custom in mid-nineteenth century publishing houses, the date is given as "1846" ("MDCCCXLVI" on the regular title-page) because so little of the year 1845 remained. The dedication is dated "December, 1845." It was, in fact, published on 20 December 1845, its timing designed to catch precisely the Christmas book trade.
Dickens, Charles. The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home. Il. John Leech, Daniel Maclise, Richard Doyle, Edwin Landseer, and Clarkson Stanfield. Engravers Thompson, George Dalziel, Edward Dalziel, T. Williams, Swain, and Groves. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1845.
Last modified 12 July 2012