Jerry Cruncher and Wife
approximately 10 cm high by 7.5 cm wide (framed)
One of eight illustrations for Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston), 1867, Diamond Edition.
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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A Tale of Two Cities (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867)., by Sol Eytinge, Jr., in Charles Dickens's
An interesting subject not attempted by Phiz in his narrative-pictorial sequence in 1859 is the marriage of Jerry Cruncher and "Aggerawayter" (possibly a blendword composed of "Agatha" and "Aggravator"). Apart from her constantly "flopping" (praying), all we know about Mrs. Cruncher is that she is a "woman of orderly and industrious appearance" (Book 2, Chapter 1) thrown into a perpetual state of trepidation occasioned by her husband's habitually threatening her, in this instance with a muddy boot. Jerry himself, Dickens tells us, is a ruffian possessed of an extremely gruff voice, spiky hair, and rusty fingers. Besides his "day" job as the messenger, occasional porter, and odd-job-man for Tellson's Bank, Temple Bar, Jerry has a nocturnal occupation which he euphemistically describes as "fishing." Certainly Eytinge has captured something of the ghoul in Jerry's surly — almost Frankenstein-monster-like — features as he instructs his son to alert him to any prayerful tendencies on the part of his spouse as he prepares to clean a muddy boot:
. . . while I clean my boots keep a eye upon your mother now and then, and if you see any signs of more flopping, give me a call. For, I tell you," here he addressed his wife once more, "I won't be gone agin, in this manner. I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I'm as sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to that degree that I shouldn't know, if it wasn't for the pain in 'em, which was me and which somebody else, yet I'm none the better for it in pocket; and it's my suspicion that you've been at it from morning to night to prevent me from being the better for it in pocket, and I won't put up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!"
Growling, in addition, such phrases as "Ah! yes! You're religious, too. You wouldn't put yourself in opposition to the interests of your husband and child, would you? Not you!" and throwing off other sarcastic sparks from the whirling grindstone of his indignation, Mr. Cruncher betook himself to his boot-cleaning and his general preparation for business. [Book Two, "The Golden Thread," Chapter One, "Five Years Later"]
Although Eytinge seems to have studied and upon occasion adapted scenes from the Phiz illustrations, occasionally he attempts scenes in a manner that suggests that John McLenan's abundant illustrations for the 1859 Harper's Weekly serialisation had made an impression on Eytinge. As in McLenan's small-scale illustrations, Eytinge offers a symbol — the teapot on the table (left) — to establish the setting, which in this case is the kitchen-parlour of the Crunchers in Hanging-sword Alley, Whitefriars. Barnard would subsequently interpret Jerry as a bully and street thug, but Eytinge's visual characterisation seems closer to McLenan's in "You're at it again, are you?", which Eytinge would have encountered in the 4 June 1859 number of Harper's. The two illustrations share the properties of the boot and teapot, and Mrs. Cruncher is similarly dressed in the 1859 and 1867 illustrations. Although Eytinge's Jerry is decidedly more horrible of visage, he has the same square head and spiky hair, and the same belligerent attitude.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. John McLenan. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. New York: Harper and Brothers, 7 May through December 3, 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Il. Sol Eytinge, Junior. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876.
of Two Cities
Last modified 10 August 2011