"We are famous for this growth in this vault, aren't we?"
Edward G. Dalziel
14 cm high by 10.8 cm wide, framed.
Dickens's "No Thoroughfare," in Christmas Stories (1877), p. 236.
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"But what's no laughing matter, Master George," he resumed, straightening his back once more, "is, that young Master Wilding has gone and changed the luck. Mark my words. He has changed the luck, and he'll find it out. I ain't been down here all my life for nothing! I know by what I notices down here, when it's a-going to rain, when it's a-going to hold up, when it's a-going to blow, when it's a-going to be calm. Iknow, by what I notices down here, when the luck's changed, quite as well."
"Has this growth on the roof anything to do with your divination?" asked Vendale, holding his light towards a gloomy ragged growth of dark fungus, pendent from the arches with a very disagreeable and repellent effect. "We are famous for this growth in this vault, aren't we?"
"We are Master George," replied Joey Ladle, moving a step or two away, "and if you'll be advised by me, you'll let it alone."
Taking up the rod just now laid across the two casks, and faintly moving the languid fungus with it, Vendale asked, "Ay, indeed? Why so?"
"Why, not so much because it rises from the casks of wine, and may leave you to judge what sort of stuff a Cellarman takes into himself when he walks in the same all the days of his life, nor yet so much because at a stage of its growth it's maggots, and you'll fetch 'em down upon you," returned Joey Ladle, still keeping away, "as for another reason, Master George."
"What other reason?"
"(I wouldn't keep on touchin' it, if I was you, sir.) I'll tell you if you'll come out of the place. First, take a look at its colour, Master George."
"I am doing so."
"Done, sir. Now, come out of the place." ["Act One: New Characters on the Scene," p. 236-237 ]
Atmospheric and gloomy, the cellar, hanging fungus, and wine-casks seem at odds with the youthful, fashionably dressed, gentlemanly George Vendale, the recently introduced protagonist of the novella. Like many of Dickens's pallid young male protagonists, Vendale (whom Dalziel has positioned so that the reader cannot even see his face, thereby placing the focus on the Cellerman) offers little of visual interest to stimulate the imagination of the illustrator — but the quirky Joey Ladle, the Head Cellarman for Wilding and Co., is quite a different matter:
A slow and ponderous man, of the drayman order of human architecture, dressed in a corrugated suit and bibbed apron, apparently a composite of door-mat and rhinoceros-hide. 
At first glance, the reader might conclude that the illustrator has not fully risen to the challenge of depicting the "Dickensey" character with the distinctive voice, surly demeanour, and sardonic attitude, although he has effectively contrasted the surly, roughly dressed Joey with his fashionably dressed, upper-middle-class employer:
I've been a cellerman my life through, with my mind fully given to the business. What's the consequence? I'm as muddled a man as lives — you won't find a muddleder man than me — nor yet you won't find my equal in molloncolly. Sing of Filling the bumper fair, Every drop you sprinkle, O'er the brow of care, Smooths away a wrinkle? Yes. P'raps so. But try filling yourself through the pores, underground, when you don't want to it!" 
Thus, and much more of the same Mark Tapley line: the same homespun wit and sarcastic observation. However, unlike Mark in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-44), the stolid Joey does not become the equivalent of Sancho Panza to young, fashionable Vendale's Quixote. Indeed, in his dour prophesying he is not reminiscent of a Dickens type at all, but of the crusty Scottish clairvoyant, the ominous Nurse Esther in the Collins-Dickens dramatic collaboration Frozen Deep of ten years earlier, although Dickens, again assisted by Collins here, does not develop Joey's having "second sight" beyond mere superstition. Later, Joey becomes instrumental in Vendale's rescue when he follows the young Englishman and the devious Jules Obenreizer to Switzerland, accompanying Marguerite to the continent just as Tellson's messenger, Jerry Cruncher, accompanies Lucie and Miss Pross to revolutionary Paris in A Tale of Two Cities. Like the surly Jerry, Joey performs the role of the truculent servant of domestic melodrama, but with more than a touch of Collinsian rebelliousness.
In most of the other illustrated versions of this story, the artist's chief concern is the scene which pits the young, naive Englishman George Vendale against the duplicitous foreigner, Jules Obenreizer, at the Simplon Pass. However, in his dual study of the workman and his employer Edward Dalziel has effectively exploited the contrasting aspects of these characters to underscore the Cellarman's foreshadowing of George Vendale's brush with death later in the story. In terms of age, class, speech, education, experience, and outlook, the man and the master are binary opposites. Joey, representing the traditional wisdom of the ancient company of wine merchants (which Joey persists in calling "Pebbleson Nephew," although it has been "Wilding and Company" for a generation), warns the new partner of the "divination" aspect of the repellent growth in the firm's dank vaults: "They do say that the man tat gets by any accident a piece of that dark growth right upon his breast, will, for sure and certain, die by murder" (237). At which point, a piece of the growth does land on the scoffer. The illustration makes Joey a piece of the fungus-encrusted vault, with his apron and coat possessing the same sort of texture as the fungus, so that Dalziel renders the textual moment far more effective by having the caption locate the passage for the reader, who encounters the dark plate proleptically as the image of the superstitious dialogue narrowly precedes the passage immediately below it. Against this morbid prognostication and ages-old growth creating a strong sense of foreboding in the picture is the sharply realistic detail of chalked symbols on the ends of the casks, suggesting that the illustrator visited just such a place in striving for authenticity.
Relevant Illustrated Library Edition (1868) and Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) Illustrations
Left: Charles Green's dramatic 1868 illustration of the outcome of the struggle on the glacial ice between Vendale and Obenreizer in "No Thoroughfare". Right: Harry Furniss's impressionistic 1910 illustration for the climactic confrontation between George Vendale and Jules Obenreizer, "The Struggle on the Mountain". [Click on images to enlarge them.]
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Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books and The Uncommercial Traveller. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. Vol. 10.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All The Year Round". Illustrated by Townley Green, Charles Green, Fred Walker, F. A. Fraser, Harry French, E. G. Dalziel, and J. Mahony. The Illustrated Library Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1868, rpt. in the Centenary Edition of Chapman & Hall and Charles Scribner's Sons (1911). 2 vols.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by E. G. Dalziel. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877.
Nayder,,Lillian. Chapter 5, "'No Thoroughfare': The Problem of Illegitimacy."Unequal Partners: Charles a dickens, Wilkie Collins, & Victorian Authorship. Ithaca and London: Cornell U. P., 2002. Pp. 129-162.
Scenes and characters from the works of Charles Dickens; being eight hundred and sixty-six drawings, by Fred Barnard, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz); J. Mahoney; Charles Green; A. B. Frost; Gordon Thomson; J. McL. Ralston; H. French; E. G. Dalziel; F. A. Fraser, and Sir Luke Fildes; printed from the original woodblocks engraved for "The Household Edition.". New York: Chapman and Hall, 1908. Copy in the Robarts Library, University of Toronto.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 23 May 2014