11.4 x 7. cm and (inset) 6.4 x 4.5 cm
Tenth illustration for A Tale of Two Cities in A Tale of Two Cities, American Notes, Pictures from Italy, Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), vol. 13, facing p. 104.
Although film actors as talented as Barry Morse and Christopher Lee have tackled with gusto and aplomb the role of the villainous Marquis de St. Evrémonde, thereby shaping present-day readers' conceptions of this unpleasant exemplar of the decadent French aristocracy prior to the revolution, Furniss's illustration directly reflects the text itself and the illustrations by Phiz and Barnard. [Commentary continued below.]
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
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.]
The show being over, the flutter in the air became quite a little storm, and the precious little bells went ringing down-stairs. There was soon but one person left of all the crowd, and he, with his hat under his arm and his snuff-box in his hand, slowly passed among the mirrors on his way out.
"I devote you," said this person, stopping at the last door on his way, and turning in the direction of the sanctuary, "to the Devil!"
With that, he shook the snuff from his fingers as if he had shaken the dust from his feet, and quietly walked down-stairs.
He was a man of about sixty, handsomely dressed, haughty in manner, and with a face like a fine mask. A face of a transparent paleness; every feature in it clearly defined; one set expression on it. The nose, beautifully formed otherwise, was very slightly pinched at the top of each nostril. In those two compressions, or dints, the only little change that the face ever showed, resided. They persisted in changing colour sometimes, and they would be occasionally dilated and contracted by something like a faint pulsation; then, they gave a look of treachery, and cruelty, to the whole countenance. Examined with attention, its capacity of helping such a look was to be found in the line of the mouth, and the lines of the orbits of the eyes, being much too horizontal and thin; still, in the effect of the face made, it was a handsome face, and a remarkable one. [Book Two, "The Golden Thread," Chapter Seven, "Monseigneur in the City," p. 101]
Relevant Illustrations from earlier editions: 1859, 1867, 1874, and 1905.
Above: Phiz's The Stoppage at the Fountain (1859). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Left: John McLennan's periodical illustration of the Marquis found stabbed in his enormous bed, "This, from Jacques". Right: Fred Barnard's "He stooped. . ." (1874). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual character study of the family's representatives of the Enlightenment and the Old Regime respectively, Charles Darnay and The Marquis (1867). Right: A. A. Dixon's realisation of the accident scene in St. Antoine, "Killed!" shrieked the man" (1905). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Although at London's Lyceum Theatre in 1899 Furniss undoubtedly enjoyed Bond's performance as the egotistical, plotting aristocrat who dominates the opening scene in The Only Way, the Freeman Wills/Langbridge scripted stage-adaptation, this scene occurs early in the play, in the "Prologue — A Loft in a Farm Building," and therefore well in the past, when the brothers St. Evrémonde were young scions of the aristocracy enjoying under the guise of feudal privilege the license to rape and murder a suffering peasantry, and the bourgeois Doctor Manette was a young physician bent on doing good for the classes upon whom the aristocracy preyed. For Furniss's inspiration, one must look, then, to the original monthly and the Household Edition illustrations primarily.
By the time that the reader encounters two studies of the Marquis — the portrait bust and the larger, full-length study of an inflexible gentleman bowing — the reader has already encountered the textual description, so that the tenth illustration sits, as it were, between two chapters dealing with the decadent, pre-revolutionary French aristocracy of two types: "Monseigneur in Town" and "Monseigneur in the Country." The Marquis St. Evrémonde straddles both the sophisticated world of the Parisian salon and the feudal world of the country chateau. He is not so much an individual as a type, but Dickens and his illustrators particularize him effectively. As the author wrote to Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton on 5 June 1860,
I see no reason to doubt, but on the contrary, many reasons to believe, that some of these privileges [accorded French noblemen of great rank] had been used to the frightful oppression of the peasant, quite as near to the time of the Revolution as the doctor's narrative, which, you will remember, dates long before the Terror [i. e., 3 September 1793-28 July 1794]. And surely when the new philosophy was the talk of the salons and the slang of the hour, it is not unreasonable or unallowable to suppose a nobleman wedded to the old cruel ideas, and representing the time going out, as his nephew represents the time coming in. . . . [Pilgrim Letters, vol. 9: 258-259]
Since, as the editors of the Pilgrim Letters assert, le droit du Seigneur is "the foundation of the plot" (9: 259, note 1), the portrait of the Marquis must be absolutely credible, not merely (as is the case with his carriage's running over a peasant child or harnessing peasants to carts) founded on historical research and in particular The French Revolution (1837) by Thomas Carlyle, but supported emphatically in the narrative by the Marquis' actual actions and utterances. The portrait of the individual must stand for the worst excesses of an entire class, and yet remain that of an individual. Thus, Dickens in writing to John Forster when sending him the proofs of the weekly 27 August 1859 number remarked that his challenge in writing this historical novel was to make
a picturesque story, rising in every chapter with characters true to nature, but whom the story itself should express, more than they should express themselves, by dialogue. [Pilgrim Letters, vol. 9: 112]
Readers of the serial published in the All the Year Round weekly would have, reasoned Dickens, only the benefit of the dialogue in construing the characters as if they were actual historical personages rather than literary constructs serving the interests of plot and theme. On the other hand, purchasers of the monthly instalments also had the benefit of such Phiz illustrations as The Stoppage at the Fountain in Phiz's pair of illustrations for Part Three, August 1859, to judge for themselves, without the intervention of the omniscient narrator, the insensitive and brutal nature of the spirit behind the fine mask and elegant facade. Although at first the reader might easily lose him in The vortex of anguished humanity swirling about his Rococo carriage, the positioning of the inquisitive nobleman above the heads of the devastated Gaspard and his comforter, the towering Ernest Defarge, makes his a memorable portrait, callous and unmoved by the consequences of his rashness.
Whereas this is the Marquis' only appearance in Phiz's narrative-pictorial sequence, John McLenan in Harper's Weekly and Fred Barnard in Household Edition both had the space to offer several visual interpretations of the Marquis. In He stooped at little, the nobleman, again in his carriage (and again with a scowling visage), regards with contempt the common herd surrounding his carriage as he nears his chateau (Book Two, Chapter Eight); immediately following this group study is Barnard's individual portrait of the smooth-faced aristocrat like a marble statue in "Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from Jacques." (Book Two, Chapter Nine). Stabbed through the heart while sleeping in his ornate bed under sumptuous covers and satin sheets, the Marquis still has his nose in the air. McLenan's single study of the dead Marquis, This, from Jacques, communicates far less about the Marquis class-consciousness, arrogance, and egotism.
These qualities in the well-fed but sinister face Sol Eytinge communicates effectively by contrasting the sumptuously dressed chocolate-sipping uncle with the manly, open nephew whose stance seems to suggest that he, enlightened thinker of the new age, judges his uncle and his excesses somewhat harshly — as the reader is inclined to do — in Charles Darnay and The Marquis (the screen in the background, as in McLenan's illustration, suggestive of the dark secrets in the decadent nobleman's past that one day must be brought to light).
Whereas Dixon's illustration of the Marquis, gazing placidly out his carriage window at the raving father of the dead child, in 'Killed!' shrieked the man better represents the gorgeous carriage than it does the haughty Marquis or the oppressed proletariat, Furniss's study completely detaches the arrogant but fastidiously dressed nobleman from any particular moment in the narrative. He is placed, as it were, under a microscope for the reader to examine as a representative of a dying species. The reader, encountering the dual images in the text, after meeting the description of the Marquis some pages earlier, must initially wonder why he appears twice: in the upper-left corner as a portrait bust, and in the main illustration seeming to bow, but with a look of extreme distaste on his face suggestive of his attitude towards his rival, "Monseigner in town," he who drinks chocolate in an elaborate ceremony. The reader of 1910 might well have been impressed by the fidelity with which Furniss has realised the late eighteenth-century fashion: fob, lace cuffs, silk stockings, brocade town-coat, and elegant, white-powdered wig, and the rapier — a gentleman's weapon. As he scowls right, he begins to lift his lorgnette, as if he cannot decide whether his adversary is worth such close attention. On the page opposite, the strategically placed text from the very end of chapter seven is to be read against this telling image of the vain and derisive representative of the upper class:
He was driven on, and other carriages came whirling by in quick succession; the Minister, the State-Projector, the Farmer-General, the Doctor, the Lawyer, the Ecclesiastic, the Grand Opera, the Comedy, the whole Fancy Ball in a bright continuous flow, came whirling by. The rats had crept out of their holes to look on, and they remained looking on for hours; soldiers and police often passing between them and the spectacle, and making a barrier behind which they slunk, and through which they peeped. The father had long ago taken up his bundle and hidden himself away with it, when the women who had tended the bundle while it lay on the base of the fountain, sat there watching the running of the water and the rolling of the Fancy Ball- when the one woman who had stood conspicuous, knitting, still knitted on with the steadfastness of Fate. The water of the fountain ran, the swift river ran, the day ran into evening, so much life in the city ran into death according to rule, time and tide waited for no man, the rats were sleeping close together in their dark holes again, the Fancy Ball was lighted up at supper, all things ran their course. — Book Two, "The Golden Thread," Chapter Seven, "Monseigneur in the City," p. 104.
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Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. All the Year Round. 30 April through 26 November 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. John McLenan. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. 7 May through 3 December 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Il. A. A. Dixon. London: Collins, 1905.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities, American Notes, and Pictures from Italy. Il. Harry Furniss. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. Vol. 13.
Last modified 11 November 2013