Miss Wade and Tattycoram
10 cm high by 7.4 cm wide (framed)
Fifteenth full-page illustration for Dickens's Little Dorrit in the James R. Osgood (Boston), 1871, Diamond Edition.
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. ]
Little Dorrit (Boston: James R. Osgood [formerly, Ticknor and Fields], 1871)., by Sol Eytinge, Jr., in Charles Dickens's
In the fifteenth character study to complement Dickens's narrative, "Miss Wade and Tattycoram," Eytinge contrasts the stubborn adolescent (her nickname based on Coram's Foundling Hospital) taken up by the Meagles as a servant for their spoiled adolescent daughter and the psychologically disturbed, but "handsome" Miss Wade in the latter's rented rooms in Calais as Clennam prosecutes his search of Blandois. The relevant passage for this dual character study (the perspective presumably being Clennam's) is probably this, as Tattycoram — to Miss Wade, "Harriet" — enters and finds Arthur Clennam conversing with her mistress:
Are they well, sir?"
She stopped herself in saying what would have been "all of them"; glanced at Miss Wade; and said "Mr. and Mrs. Meagles."
"They were, when I last heard of them. They are not at home. By the way, let me ask you. Is it true that you were seen there?"
"Where? Where does any one say I was seen?" returned the girl, sullenly casting down her eyes.
"Looking in at the garden gate of the cottage."
"No," said Miss Wade. "She has never been near it."
"You are wrong, then," said the girl. "I went down there the last time we were in London. I went one afternoon when you left me alone. And I did look in."
"You poor-spirited girl," returned Miss Wade with infinite contempt; "does all our companionship, do all our conversations, do all your old complainings, tell for so little as that?"
"There was no harm in looking in at the gate for an instant," said the girl. "I saw by the windows that the family were not there."
"Why should you go near the place?"
"Because I wanted to see it. Because I felt that I should like to look at it again."
As each of the two handsome faces looked at the other, Clennam felt how each of the two natures must be constantly tearing the other to pieces.
"Oh!" said Miss Wade, coldly subduing and removing her glance; "if you had any desire to see the place where you led the life from which I rescued you because you had found out what it was, that is another thing. But is that your truth to me? Is that your fidelity to me? Is that the common cause I make with you? You are not worth the confidence I have placed in you. You are not worth the favor I have shown you. You are no higher than a spaniel, and had better go back to the people who did worse than whip you."
"If you speak so of them with any one else by to hear, you'll provoke me to take their part," said the girl.
"Go back to them," Miss Wade retorted — "go back to them."
"You know very well," retorted Harriet in her turn, "that I won't go back to them. You know very well that I have thrown them off, and never can, never shall, never will, go back to them. Let them alone, then, Miss Wade."
"You prefer their plenty to your less fat living here," she rejoined. You exalt them, and slight me. What else should I have expected? I ought to have known it."
"It's not so," said the girl, flushing high, "and you don't say what you mean. I know what you mean. You are reproaching me, underhanded, with having nobody but you to look to. And because I have nobody but you to look to, you think you are to make me do, or not do, everything you please, and are to put any affront upon me. You are as bad as they were, every bit. But I will not be quite tamed, and made submissive. I will say again that I went to look at the house, because I had often thought that I should like to see it once more. I will ask again how they are, because I once liked them and at times thought they were kind to me."
Hereupon Clennam said that he was sure they would still receive her kindly, if she should ever desire to return.
"Never!" said the girl passionately. "I shall never do that. Nobody knows that better than Miss Wade, though she taunts me because she has made me her dependent. And I know I am so; and I know she is overjoyed when she can bring it to my mind."
"A good pretence!" said Miss Wade, with no less anger, haughtiness, and bitterness; "but too threadbare to cover what I plainly see in this. My poverty will not bear competition with their money. Better go back at once, better go back at once, and have done with it!"
Arthur Clennam looked at them, standing a little distance asunder in the dull confined room, each proudly cherishing her own anger; each, with a fixed determination, torturing her own breast, and torturing the other's. He said a word or two of leave-taking; but Miss Wade barely inclined her head, and Harriet, with the assumed humiliation of an abject dependent and serf (but not without defiance for all that), made as if she were too low to notice or to be noticed. [383-385]
Little of Miss Wade's anguish, or her rancorous jealousy of Pet Meagles, or her bitterness at having been thrown over by Gowan are evident in Eytinge's illustration; rather, she sternly and with mild surprise regards the gloomy Harriet as the girl (left, in servant's apron) confesses having taken an interest in the welfare of the Meagles after leaving them. Eytinge's Miss Wade is thoroughly respectable in dress and deportment, severe, and even dignified, but hardly handsome — and hardly the passionate misanthrope of Dickens's text. Likewise, Eytinge's figure of Harriet Beadle ("Tattycoram") suggests the girl's generalized resentment of Miss Wade, but nothing of her fine features, albeit features marred by a sense of being continually put upon.
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U P, 1990.
Davis, Paul. "Little Dorrit." Charles Dickens A to Z; The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998. Pp. 209-217.
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit, il. Sol Eytinge, Junior. The Diamond Edition. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871.
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit, il. Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). (1857). Ed. John Holloway. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.
Last modified 28 May 2011