Sol Eytinge, Junior
9.9 cm high x 7.3 cm wide
Third illustration for Dickens's The Uncommercial Traveller and Additional Christmas Stories in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition, facing page 48.
[Click on image to enlarge it and mouse over text for links.]
The shipwreck as seen from the Angelsey beach or village rooftops would have been a dramatic subject, but one not especially well-suited to the small-scale woodblocks for which Eytinge was composing. [Commentary continues below]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
It was the kind and wholesome face I have made mention of as being then beside me, that I had purposed to myself to see, when I left home for Wales. I had heard of that clergyman, as having buried many scores of the shipwrecked people; of his having opened his house and heart to their agonised friends; of his having used a most sweet and patient diligence for weeks and weeks, in the performance of the forlornest offices that Man can render to his kind; of his having most tenderly and thoroughly devoted himself to the dead, and to those who were sorrowing for the dead. I had said to myself, "In the Christmas season of the year, I should like to see that man!" And he had swung the gate of his little garden in coming out to meet me, not half an hour ago.
So cheerful of spirit and guiltless of affectation, as true practical Christianity ever is! I read more of the New Testament in the fresh frank face going up the village beside me, in five minutes, than I have read in anathematising discourses (albeit put to press with enormous flourishing of trumpets), in all my life. I heard more of the Sacred Book in the cordial voice that had nothing to say about its owner, than in all the would-be celestial pairs of bellows that have ever blown conceit at me. ["The Shipwreck," p. 47]
For "The Shipwreck," originally published in All the Year Round on 28 January 1860, Sol Eytinge in the 1867 Diamond Edition compilation of essays from The Uncommercial Traveller realized the scene in which the kindly Welsh clergyman, the Rev. Stephen Roosevelt Hughes, dressed in winter topcoat, walked through the parish cemetery, the resting place of 145 victims of the wreck of the Royal Charter on the night of 26 October 1859. The descriptive passage may therefore be dated to the following 29 December, when Dickens visited the village of Llanallgo, overlooking the site of the catastrophe, Muffa Redwharf Bay on the island of Anglesey, on the Irish Sea. Since he spent the night at the rectory, Dickens had the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with the kindly clergyman, and probably revealed to the Welshman that four of his relations by marriage — Robert and Peter Hogarth, Georgina (wife of Peter) and her son, Robert. The body of the youbgest Hogarth was never recovered; Hughes had buried the other three in the small churchyard. Only thirty-nine of over 500 on board the iron vessel en route fro Melbourne to Liverpool survived.
Only one illustrator has dealt directly with the night of the catastrophe: in the Household Edition published by Chapman and Hall, E. G. Dalziel in 1877. In Saw from the ladder's elevation as he looked down by chance towards the shore. . ., Dalziel shows the effects of the storm on the roofs of the villagers' houses rather than describing the horrendous scene on the beach. Eytinge focuses instead upon the devout Church of Wales minister who conscientiously buried the victims (retaining such items of dress as might lead to positive identification) and consoled the survivors and those relatives who eventually, like Dickens, made their way to the remote island. Only once one has read the text of the essay does one realise that the graves among which Hughes is walking in Eytinge's simple pen-and-ink illustration are likely those of the victims of the recent shipwreck. As is typical of Eytinge's Diamond Edition illustrations, the wood-engraving focuses on an important character and merely sketches in the backdrop, a more thorough knowledge of which only a reading of the accompanying text can provide.
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1998.
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. The Uncommercial Traveller. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1865.Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller. Illustrated by Marcus Stone [W. M., and George Pinwell]. Illustrated Library Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1868, rpt., 1893.
Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller and Additional Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Junior. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller, Hard Times, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Illustrated by C. S. Reinhart and Luke Fildes. The Household Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1876.
Dickens, Charles. The Uncommercial Traveller. Illustrated by E. G. Dalziel. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877.
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 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.
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; Gorgon 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.
Schlicke, Paul, ed. "The Uncommercial Traveller." The Oxford Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999. Pp. 100-101.
Slater, Michael, and John Drew, eds. Dickens' Journalism: 'The Uncommercial Traveller' and Other Papers, 1859-70. The Dent Uniform Edition of Dickens' Journalism, Vol. 4. London: J. M. Dent, 2000.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 3 April 2014