Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim
Sol Eytinge, Jr.
10 cm high by 7.5 cm wide (framed)
Frontispiece for Dickens's Christmas Books and Sketches by Boz Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston, 1867; rpt., 1875) Diamond Edition.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham
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"No, no. There's father coming," cried the two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. "Hide, Martha, hide!"
So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him; and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed, to look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by an iron frame!
"Why, where's our Martha?" cried Bob Cratchit, looking round.
"Not coming," said Mrs Cratchit.
"Not coming!" said Bob, with a sudden declension in his high spirits; for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way from church, and had come home rampant — "Not coming upon Christmas Day?" [Stave Three, "The Second of the Three Spirits," p. 27]
In this full-page dual character study in the compact American publication, Eytinge presents for the first time in the history of the publication of A Christmas Carol the image of Bob Cratchit carrying his dimnutive son home from church on Christmas Day. This frontispiece is also first full-page illustration in the 1867 Ticknor and Fields Christmas Books, and therefore represents in metonymy Eytinge's conception of the whole series as embodying Victorian family values. When he revisited the illustration for his Christmas 1868 edition of A Christmas Carol in Prose: being a ghost story of Christmas, Eytinge contextualised the two figures, placing them in the headnote vignette for the Third Stave, in "Tiny Tim's Ride" (p. 56), and in the midst of the family gathering before the dinner as Bob Cratchit at Home" and at the family dinner-table after the main course in "The Wonderful Pudding" (p. 68). This is a far less animated version of Bob Cratchit carrying his son homeward than that which Fred Barnard offered in the next decade in "He had been Tim's blood-horse all the way home from church, and had come home rampant", a scene set in the busy streets of Camden Town which Dickens does not actually described, but which Barnard, lead Household Edition illustrator, has vividly imagined as transpiring in a bustling city square, as the the community of mixed ages and classes greets the happy pair. Barnard has focussed on the term "rampant" to depict Bob actually running, whereas in this initial, 1867 study Eytinge gives us a static Bob, one who has just entered the Cratchit home and asks about the presence of Martha, his eldest daughter, who works as a milliner's assistant. In each case, Eytinge presents Bob Cratchit as a genuine model Victorian parent who develops a relationship with each of his children, and is not a cold, aloof, judgmental authority figure such as Thomas Gradgrind in the 1854 novel Hard Times. The facial likeness between Bob and his son suggested in Eytinge's 1867 frontispiece the illustrator more clearly presents in the Cratchit family scenes of the following year's single-volume edition, in which the Cratchit children might well be clones of Bob. Devices for pictorial continuity are Bob's scarf, jacket, and hat, which occur in several of the 1868 illustrations. Whereas Bob is looking right, towards the title-page, in the 1867 edition, he looks left in the headnote vignette and the homecoming scene, but is otherwise identical in all three illustrations. The decontextualised character study of 1867 captures the disposition of the father and the nature of his relationship with his son, but (unlike the various illustrations involving the Cratchits in the 1868 volume) fails to provide the other elements in the passage realised.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books and Sketches by Boz Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867. Rpt., Boston: James R. Osgood, 1875.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol in Prose: being a ghost story of Christmas. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1869 .
Winter, William. "Charles Dickens" and "Sol Eytinge." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 181-207, 317-319.
Last modified 3 April 2013