Sol Eytinge, Junior
9.9 cm high x 7.4 cm wide
The fifth illustration for Dickens's Additional Christmas Stories in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition, facing page 298.
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Having the effect of a "dark plate" in the manner of Hablot Knight Browne in the serialised novel of 1852-53 Bleak House — such a plate being The Ghost's Walk, the simple wood-engraving conveys a sense of what the signalman thought saw in the railway tunnel — a supernatural visitation portending an accident on the line. [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.]
"I took you for some one else, yesterday evening. That troubles me."
"No. That some one else."
"Who is it?"
I don't know.
"I don't know. I never saw the face. The left arm is across the face, and the right arm is waved, — violently waved. This way."
I followed his action with my eyes, and it was the action of an arm gesticulating with the utmost passion and vehemence, — "For God's sake, clear the way!"
"One moonlight night," said the man, "I was sitting here, when I heard a voice cry, 'Halloa! Below there!' I started up, looked from that door, and saw this Some one else standing by the red light near the tunnel, waving as I just now showed you. The voice seemed hoarse with shouting, and it cried, 'Look out! Look out!' And then again, 'Halloa! Below there! Look out!' I caught up my lamp, turned it on red, and ran towards the figure, calling, 'What's wrong? What has happened? Where?' It stood just outside the blackness of the tunnel. I advanced so close upon it that I wondered at its keeping the sleeve across its eyes. I ran right up to it, and had my hand stretched out to pull the sleeve away, when it was gone." [p. 298]
In the 1867 Diamond Edition volume, the "ghost" story is not presented in its original context as part of the framed-tale sequence entitled Mugby Junction, but as a detached, first-person narrative, with narrator not distinguished. However, Eytinge's illustration augments the text, underscoring the importance of the line spoken by the "apparition," but also adjusting the reader's interpretation of the "figure" as specifically supernatural. As the story develops, the "apparition" becomes a doppelganger foreshadowing the death of the distracted railway functionary himself at the conclusion of "The Signal-Man."
In the Illustrated Library Edition of 1868, the only part of Mugby Junction that was illustrated was "The Boy at Mugby," the wood-engraving being Mahoney's Mugby Junction — perhaps the illustrator felt that the psychological aspects of "The Signal-Man" rendered its key moment too nebulous for effective illustration. Whereas E. G. Dalziel in his Household Edition illustration for the tale of the preternatural focuses on the meeting of the inquisitive, flaneur-like narrator and the distressed signalman in "I took you for some one else yesterday evening. That troubles me", Sol Eytinge presents the reader with the framed-tale's climax, the appearance of the mysterious figure just before the railway accident that results in the signalman's being run down by a locomotive. In the original version of the short story as published in the Extra Christmas number (7 December 1866) for All the Year Round, which sold over 250,000 copies, Dickens supplemented the first four parts (the only portions that he actually wrote) with four by "other hands." Mugby Junction included the following pieces: "Barbox Brothers" and "Barbox Brothers and Co." by Charles Dickens; "Main Line. The Boy at Mugby" and "No. 1 Branch Line. The Signal-man" by Charles Dickens; "No. 2 Branch Line. The Engine-driver" by Andrew Halliday; "No. 3 Branch Line. The Compensation House" by Charles Allston Collins; "No. 4 Branch Line. The Travelling Post Office" by Hesba Stretton, and "No. 5 Branch Line. The Engineer" by Amelia B. Edwards. Here, then, late in the series of Christmas stories Dickens deviates from his established pattern in that he has not merely provided a framework that he and others fill, for he has written fully half of the number and yet as the "Conductor" written no anti-masque.
The Harry Furniss illustrations in The Charles Dickens Library Edition for Mugby Junction do not deal with "The Signal-Man." The Face at the Window realises a moment in the first part, "Barbox Brothers," while Polly, Barbox Brothers' Guest at Dinner deals with the second part.
Library, Household, and Charles Dickens Library Edition (1868, 1876-77, and 1910) Illustrations Relevant to "The Signal-Man" (1866)
Later Editions. Left: E. A. Abbey's "'Do you see it?' I asked him" (1876). Right: E. G. Dalziel's "I took you for some one else yesterday evening. That troubles me" (1877). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: J. Mahoney's "Mugby Junction" (1868). (1868). Centre: Townley Green's "The Signal-Man" (1868). Right: Harry Furniss's "The Face at the Window" (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
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 and Additional Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Junior. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
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.
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.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 10 May 2014