The Tuggses at Ramsgate
Sol Eytinge, Jr.
9.9 x 7.4 cm (framed)
Dickens's Christmas Books & Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People (Diamond Edition), facing p. 411.
After the heart-warming, sentimental seasonal tales which Dickens wrote between 1843 and 1848, this volume of the Diamond Edition, commemorating Dickens's Second American Reading Tour, features seven scenes from Dickens's earliest work, "Our Parish," the twenty-five chapters from "Scenes," and twelve chapters from "Characters," the text established by Chapman and Hall in 1839.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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"What do you think of doing with yourself this morning?’ inquired the captain. "Shall we lunch at Pegwell?"
"I should like that very much indeed," interposed Mrs. Tuggs. She had never heard of Pegwell; but the word ‘lunch’ had reached her ears, and it sounded very agreeably.
"How shall we go?" inquired the captain; "it's too warm to walk."
"A shay?" suggested Mr. Joseph Tuggs.
"Chaise," whispered Mr. Cymon.
"I should think one would be enough," said Mr. Joseph Tuggs aloud, quite unconscious of the meaning of the correction. "However, two shays if you like."
"I should like a donkey so much," said Belinda.
"Oh, so should I!" echoed Charlotta Tuggs.
"Well, we can have a fly," suggested the captain, "and you can have a couple of donkeys."
A fresh difficulty arose. Mrs. Captain Waters declared it would be decidedly improper for two ladies to ride alone. The remedy was obvious. Perhaps young Mr. Tuggs would be gallant enough to accompany them.
Mr. Cymon Tuggs blushed, smiled, looked vacant, and faintly protested that he was no horseman. The objection was at once overruled. A fly was speedily found; and three donkeys — which the proprietor declared on his solemn asseveration to be "three parts blood, and the other corn" — were engaged in the service.
"Kim up!" shouted one of the two boys who followed behind, to propel the donkeys, when Belinda Waters and Charlotta Tuggs had been hoisted, and pushed, and pulled, into their respective saddles.
"Hi — hi — hi!" groaned the other boy behind Mr. Cymon Tuggs. Away went the donkey, with the stirrups jingling against the heels of Cymon's boots, and Cymon's boots nearly scraping the ground.
"Way — way! Wo — o — o — !" cried Mr. Cymon Tuggs as well as he could, in the midst of the jolting.
"Don't make it gallop!" screamed Mrs. Captain Waters, behind.
"My donkey will go into the public-house!" shrieked Miss Tuggs in the rear.
"Hi — hi — hi!" groaned both the boys together; and on went the donkeys as if nothing would ever stop them. — "Tales," Chapter 4, "The Tuggses at Ramsgate," p. 417.
Commentary: Earlier versus Later Illustrations
In illustrating this short story first published in the Chapman and Hall Library of Fiction (March 1836) and illustrated by Robert Seymour, and subsequently by George Cruikshank in 1836, Eytinge had the precedent of three original illustrations, notably the "Discovery" scene, The Tuggses at Ramsgate. The other significant nineteenth-century illustration (one, however, that Eytinge would not have seen) is that of Fred Barnard for the 1876 volume in the Household Edition. Perhaps not wishing to undercut the comic revelation scene upon which the story closes in an imitation of French farce, Barnard merely shows the scene in which Captain Waters, his wife Belinda, and their friend and co-conspirator Lieutenant Slaughter first meet their prey, the Tuggses, on the deck of the City of London Ramsgate steamer. That Cymon looks nothing like an aristocrat in manner or clothing should suggest to the astute reader that Belinda is flattering the noveau riche family and callow youth as part of some sort of confidence scheme.
Whereas both earlier illustrators had provided somewhat farcical "action" realisations of the short story's climax, Eytinge and Barnard do not suggest what will transpire. Cruikshank provided a single illustration when the story was re-printed by Chapman and Hall in the "Tales" section of Sketches by Boz in 1839, an illustration of the comedic climax of the prose farce. Eytinge's realistic approach to the farcical short story is radically different from that of his predecessors in that he uses his sole illustration to introduce the chief characters, the gullible Cymon Tuggs (recent inheritor of a fortune, but formerly a corner-grocer's fatuous, adolescent son) and the duplicitous Belinda Waters, a confidence artist. Significantly, Eytinge omits the sister.
The passage illustrated sets up a scene of uproarious physical comedy as Cymon, unable to control his mount (as is already evident in the illustration), is deposited unceremoniously at his destination by the recalcitrant beast. The scene begins with a clever bilingual pun on "chaise" (the standard term for a carriage) and "shay" (the substandard, dialectal term), but quickly moves to Captain Waters' setting up Cymon for the sting as he insists upon Cymon's accompanying Mrs. Waters and Miss Charlotta on the donkey-ride to Pegwell. In Eytinge's drawing, which differentiates between the two donkeys (Belinda's being more docile and horse-like), we can already see Cymon's discomfort, for, although he may possess the "air of a Marquis," he has not been brought up to ride as any aristocratic youth would have been. The fashionably dressed Belinda, riding side-saddle, is manifestly flirting with the well-dressed young bourgeois, but as yet there is no further hint as to what will happen in the story, which the illustration prefaces by way of visual introduction and overture to the English farce which adapts the adultery plot of its French equivalent, the bedroom farce. The romantic scene with the couple on donkeys rather than horses foils the traditional fairy-tale opening of "Once upon a time" (411) in that this protagonist is hardly a suave, handsome prince, and this heroine is not a princess guarded by an ogre, although her husband for the sake of the confidence scheme plays that role admirably at the climax.
Cruikshank's etching is of the same scene as the second Seymour illustration for Chapman and Hall's Library of Fiction: Seymour's version of the comic climax, Vengeance of Captain Walter Waters and Lieutenant Slaughter. Mr. Cymon Tuggs discovered behind the curtains, at the Waters's lodgings.
[Go to "Great Expectations in 'The Tuggses at Ramsgate,' or, The Importance of Being Cymon"]
Pertinent illustrations from the 1836 Library of Fiction, 1839, and 1876 editions
Left: Robert Seymour's realisation of the scene in which the plebeian Tuggses encounter their new "superior" friends on the beach of the seaside resort, Captain and Mrs. Waters Greeting The Tugg's Family on Ramsgate Sands (March 1836). Centre: Robert Seymour's realisation of the climactic comic scene in which the wrathful Captain pretends to be affronted by Cymon's attempting to engage his wife in an affair, Vengeance of Captain Walter Waters and Lieutenant Slaughter. Mr. Cymon Tuggs discovered behind the curtains, at the Waters's Lodgings (March 1836). Right: George Cruikshank's sole illustration for the same sketch, with the Cymon, just revealed as hiding behind the curtain, watching the Captain wrestle the Lieutenant for his sabre, The Tuggses at Ramsgate (1839). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Above: Fred Barnard's realistic wood-engraving of the chance meeting of the Waterses and the Tuggses on the deck of the Ramsgate steamer, "So exactly the air of a marquis," said the military gentleman (1876). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
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Last modified 17May 2017