"Captain Taunton and Private Doubledick "
Sol Eytinge, Junior
9.9 cm high x 7.4 cm wide
The seventh illustration for Dickens's Additional Christmas Stories in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition, facing page 316.
[Click on image to enlarge it and mouse over text for links.]
Reduced from seven to just three "chapters" in the 1867 Diamond Edition volume, the 1854 framed-tale sequence entitled The Seven Poor Travellers contains only an introduction ("In The Old City of Rochester"), a single reminiscence from the Napoleonic wars, and the conclusion ("The Road"). [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.]
"Doubledick," said the Captain, "do you know where you are going to?"
"To the Devil, sir?" faltered Doubledick.
"Yes,” returned the Captain. "And very fast."
Private Richard Doubledick turned the straw of the Black hole in his month, and made a miserable salute of acquiescence.
"Doubledick," said the Captain, "since I entered His Majesty's service, a boy of seventeen, I have been pained to see many men of promise going that road; but I have never been so pained to see a man determined to make the shameful journey as I have been, ever since you joined the regiment, to see you."
Private Richard Doubledick began to find a film stealing over the floor at which he looked; also to find the legs of the Captain’s breakfast-table turning crooked, as if he saw them through water.
"I am only a common soldier, sir," said he. "It signifies very little what such a poor brute comes to."
"You are a man," returned the Captain, with grave indignation, "of education and superior advantages; and if you say that, meaning what you say, you have sunk lower than I had believed. How low that must be, I leave you to consider, knowing what I know of your disgrace, and seeing what I see."
"I hope to get shot soon, sir," said Private Richard Doubledick; "and then the regiment and the world together will be rid of me."
The legs of the table were becoming very crooked. Doubledick, looking up to steady his vision, met the eyes that had so strong an influence over him. He put his hand before his own eyes, and the breast of his disgrace-jacket swelled as if it would fly asunder.
"I would rather," said the young Captain, "see this in you, Doubledick, than I would see five thousand guineas counted out upon this table for a gift to my good mother. Have you a mother?"
"I am thankful to say she is dead, sir." ["The Story of Richard Doubledick," p. 315-316]
Prolific Edwardian illustrator Harry Furniss would choose a much more poignant and compelling moment than E. A. Abbey in the American Household Edition. Eytinge, on the other hand, has realised far less effectively the same moment selected by F. A. Fraser for the Illustrated Library Edition and E. G. Dalziel for the British Household Edition. Compare Furniss's dynamic and highly touching treatment of the death of Taunton with the relatively subdued and understated treatments of Edwin Austin Abbey and Edward Dalziel for the two Household Edition (1876-77) volumes, She came to the door quickly, and fell upon his neck, and "I am only a common soldier, Sir," said he. . . . .. The former depicts another emotional trial for the protagonist, when a wounded Doubedick returns to England and visits the mother of his dead friend at Frome in Somerset.
British Household Edition illustrator F. A. Fraser chose the same moment as Eytinge for illustration, namely when Captain Taunton, reviewing the young private's record of misdemeanours, upbraids him and Doubledick breaks down in his office at hearing a voice that echoes that of his own conscience. In the melodramatic scene of confession and forgiveness, F. A. Fraser is careful in his period-appropriate delineation of the officer's and private's uniforms in "The Seven Poor Travellers", although Eytinge is certainly correct in dressing them in contemporary British uniform (i.e., the period just prior to the Crimean War). In contrast, Edward Dalziel in his frontispiece to the Chapman and Hall Household Edition of 1877 has both the Captain (sitting, clutching a sword as a sign of his authority) and the Private, standing before his unit commander at the breakfast table, in unifiorms of the mid-eighteenth century, exactly as Dalziel has depicted the soliders in The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857) in "O Christian George King sar berry sorry!".
F. A. Fraser in the Illustrated Library Edition of 1868 realizes much more effectively than either Eytinge or Dalziel the tenderness of Captain Taunton in contrast to the emotional breakdown of the enlisted man of sterling potential. In Fraser's illustration, Private Richard Doubledick is not wearing his regimental jacket (Dickens's text specifies a "disgrace-jacket," presumably of rough fabric suitable to a 48-hour incarceration in The Black Hole) in this personal interview in his Captain's office. Whereas Eytinge has provided merely a framed aerial view of a fortification behind the officer to establish a context for the disciplinary interview, F. A. Fraser suggests the interior's martial nature through a picture and a sword hanging on the wall behind the figures. E. A. Abbey, on the other hand, in the American edition of Christmas Stories is more interested in the dramatic situation in which the man in a lieutenant's uniform, fresh from the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars, meets his deceased friend's mother, knowing that he must describe the Major's death on the field of Badajos in the Peninsular campaign that preceded Waterloo. The vine-covered cottage and the curious, apron-wearing occupant of the little Somersetshire cottage contrast the stiff salute and deportment of the moustached officer.
Although Eytinge effectively conveys the private's sense of shame without resorting to melodramatic poses such as those employed by F. A. Fraser in "The Seven Poor Travellers", Eytinge does not convey sufficient emotion in the face of Captain Taunton, although then-Private Doubledick seems suitably ashamed of his "conduct unbecoming."
The logic of which selections to include in the Ticknor and Fields volume of 1867, designed to promote Dickens's forthcoming American reading tour, now becomes apparent: whereas the initial stories come from All the Year Round, beginning with a sentimental inset tale from Somebody's Luggage (Extra Christmas Number for 1862) and concluding with two stories from Mugby Junction (1866), the final selections come from Household Words and were, therefore, less familiar to readers in the mid-1860s: single excerpts from The Seven Poor Travellers (1854) and The Holly-Tree Inn (1855). Since the emphasis in the small, 352-page volume is on recently published pieces, particularly from The Uncommercial Traveller, earlier selections from the seasonal offerings do not appear, but the editors apparently felt the need to fill out the volume, and so elected to include the sentimental favourites "The Tale of Richard Doubledick" and "Second Branch. The Boots" from the 1855 Extra Christmas Number. Pieces that do not lend themselves to such reduction such as The Wreck of the 'Golden Mary' (1856) and A Message from the Sea (1860) — both, incidentally, collaborations of Collins and Dickens, and structurally not "framed" tales at all — obviously could not be considered. His allotment of illustrations exhausted, Eytinge has not bothered to depict the minor but visually interesting philosophical dwarf Mr. Chops of "Going into Society" (1858).
Right: E. A. Abbey's "She came to the door quickly, and fell upon his neck." Centre: F. A. Fraser's "The Seven Poor Travellers." [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: E. G. Dalziel's "I am only a common soldier, Sir" (1877). Right: Harry Furniss's "The Death of Major Taunton" (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 17 April 2014