Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross
approximately 10 cm high by 7.5 cm wide (framed)
Seventh of eight illustrations for Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities in A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in the single-volume 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
Both of Dickens's original illustrators — Hablot Knight Browne in October 1859 instalment (the fifth monthly part) in "The Accomplices", and John McLenan in the Harper's Weekly instalment for 27 August 1859 (p. 557) — chose to illustrate the passage in which, to prevent a further relapse for their old friend, Dr. Manette, Jarvis Lorry and Miss Pross destroy his shoemaker's bench, his sole companion and solace throughout his eighteen years in the Bastille. The passage that the 1859 serial illustrators and Eytinge have realised is this:
"If the thing were gone, my dear Manette, might not the fear go with it? . . . "I would not keep it," said Mr. Lorry, shaking his head; for he gained in firmness as he saw the Doctor disquieted. "I would recommend him to sacrifice it. I only want your authority. I am sure it does no good. Come! Give me your authority, like a dear good man. For his daughter's sake, my dear Manette!"
Very strange to see what a struggle there was within him!
"In her name, then, let it be done; I sanction it. But, I would not take it away while he was present. Let it be removed when he is not there; let him miss his old companion after an absence."
Mr. Lorry readily engaged for that, and the conference was ended. They passed the day in the country, and the Doctor was quite restored. On the three following days he remained perfectly well, and on the fourteenth day he went away to join Lucie and her husband. The precaution that had been taken to account for his silence, Mr. Lorry had previously explained to him, and he had written to Lucie in accordance with it, and she had no suspicions.
On the night of the day on which he left the house, Mr. Lorry went into his room with a chopper, saw, chisel, and hammer, attended by Miss Pross carrying a light. There, with closed doors, and in a mysterious and guilty manner, Mr. Lorry hacked the shoemaker's bench to pieces, while Miss Pross held the candle as if she were assisting at a murder — for which, indeed, in her grimness, she was no unsuitable figure. The burning of the body (previously reduced to pieces convenient for the purpose) was commenced without delay in the kitchen fire; and the tools, shoes, and leather, were buried in the garden. So wicked do destruction and secrecy appear to honest minds, that Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross, while engaged in the commission of their deed and in the removal of its traces, almost felt, and almost looked, like accomplices in a horrible crime. [Book 2, Ch. 19, "An Opinion"]
Dramatic as this textual moment may be, Household Edition illustrator Fred Barnard elected not to attempt it, perhaps because Phiz had already handled it so well. Other than Miss Pross's clenched left hand and slightly shocked expression, nothing in Eytinge's illustration suggests that the artist intends the dual character study to be a realisation of their destruction of the shoemaker's bench. However, since the pair appear alone together so rarely in the novel, Eytinge's object would seem to have been to complement their surreptitious act. As in Phiz's "The Accomplices," the pair are dressed in the fashion of the mid-eighteenth century, Miss Pross's cap, sleeves, and apron being identical to their counterparts in Phiz's more dynamic and detailed illustration.
The McLenan serial illustration, "The Auto da Fe", Eytinge may very well have seen; however, the earlier American illustration appears not to have influenced the composition of the second. Whereas Eytinge has Mr. Lorry, in a snuff-coloured suit, standing beside Miss Pross, McLenan has the pair facing one another as Lorry, in a dark suit, wields a cleaver at the bench while Miss Pross illuminates his actions with a candle. As in Phiz's illustration, a screen behind McLenan's figures suggests the secretive nature of their destructive act intended to preserve Dr. Manette's sanity. The moral issue which these illustrations and the passage ask the reader to confront (and one that lies at the heart of a work about political revolution) is, "Do the ends ever justify the means?" Doubtless, the revolutionaries, well represented in the novel by the Defarges, felt that they were virtuous and acting in accordance with the principles of natural justice, but at some point they crossed the boundary between natural justice and personally motivated retribution that impacted innocent lives and those without significant guilt, such as the little seamstress at the conclusion of the novel. Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry mean well when they destroy the workbench, but they fail to take into account the possible consequences to Dr. Manette's mental well-being. Eytinge's illustration, although effective as an imaginative portrait of these significant secondary characters, fails to address this moral issue because it fails to contextualise the moment realised by offering, as Phiz and McLenan do, the specifics of the workbench and the screen.
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. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman & Hall, 1876.
Last modified 16 August 2011