13.5 x 9 cm vignetted
Twelfth illustration 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. 128.
Just as, in The Marquis, the haughty French aristocrat looks out of the book, towards the right, in this illustration the insensitive representative of England's rising middle class, barrister Stryver, looks inward, as if regarding his French counterpart through the intervening twenty-four pages. Thus, through their juxtapositions and similar poses, Furniss asks the reader to compare the medodramatic foreign villain with the home-grown buffoon who ironically sees himself as a good catch for Lucie Manette. [Commentary continued below.]
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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"Now you know all about it, Syd," said Mr. Stryver. "I don't care about fortune: she is a charming creature, and I have made up my mind to please myself: on the whole, I think I can afford to please myself. She will have in me a man already pretty well off, and a rapidly rising man, and a man of some distinction: it is a piece of good fortune for her, but she is worthy of good fortune. Are you astonished?"
Carton, still drinking the punch, rejoined, "Why should I be astonished?"
Carton, still drinking the punch, rejoined, "Why should I not approve?"
"Well!" said his friend Stryver, "you take it more easily than I fancied you would, and are less mercenary on my behalf than I thought you would be; though, to be sure, you know well enough by this time that your ancient chum is a man of a pretty strong will. Yes, Sydney, I have had enough of this style of life, with no other as a change from it; I feel that it is a pleasant thing for a man to have a home when he feels inclined to go to it (when he doesn't, he can stay away), and I feel that Miss Manette will tell well in any station, and will always do me credit. So I have made up my mind. And now, Sydney, old boy, I want to say a word to you about your prospects. You are in a bad way, you know; you really are in a bad way. You don't know the value of money, you live hard, you'll knock up one of these days, and be ill and poor; you really ought to think about a nurse."
The prosperous patronage with which he said it, made him look twice as big as he was, and four times as offensive.
"Now, let me recommend you," pursued Stryver, "to look it in the face. I have looked it in the face, in my different way; look it in the face, you, in your different way. Marry. Provide somebody to take care of you. Never mind your having no enjoyment of women's society, nor understanding of it, nor tact for it. Find out somebody. Find out some respectable woman with a little property — somebody in the landlady way, or lodging-letting way — and marry her, against a rainy day. That's the kind of thing for you. Now think of it, Sydney."
"I'll think of it," said Sydney.
Chapter XII. The Fellow of Delicacy.
Mr. Stryver having made up his mind to that magnanimous bestowal of good fortune on the Doctor's daughter, resolved to make her happiness known to her before he left town for the Long Vacation. After some mental debating of the point, he came to the conclusion that it would be as well to get all the preliminaries done with, and they could then arrange at their leisure whether he should give her his hand a week or two before Michaelmas Term, or in the little Christmas vacation between it and Hilary.
As to the strength of his case, he had not a doubt about it, but clearly saw his way to the verdict. Argued with the jury on substantial worldly grounds — the only grounds ever worth taking into account — it was a plain case, and had not a weak spot in it. He called himself for the plaintiff, there was no getting over his evidence, the counsel for the defendant threw up his brief, and the jury did not even turn to consider. After trying it, Stryver, C. J., was satisfied that no plainer case could be. [Book Two, "The Golden Thread," Chapter Eleven, "A Companion Picture," and Chapter Twelve, "The Fellow of Delicacy," pages 131-132]
Relevant Illustrations from earlier editions, 1859 and 1874.
Left: John McLenan's study of the alcohol-fuelled barristers, The Lion and The Jackal. Right: Phiz's "Congratulations" (July 1859).
Left: Fred Barnard's "The Lion and The Jackal" and (right) "Among the talkers was Stryver, of the King's Bench Bar . . ." (1874). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Mr. Stryver, a man of little more than thirty, but looking twenty years older than he was, stout, loud, red, bluff, and free from any drawback of delicacy, had a pushing way of shouldering himself (morally and physically) into companies and conversations, that argued well for his shouldering his way up in life. [Book Two, "The Golden Thread," Chapter Four, "Congratulatory," p. 73]
Although the Marquis de St. Evrémonde and attorney Stryver are equally self-centred and singularly lacking in self-perception, the former represents the serious and historical aspects of the narrative while the latter is present largely for comic relief — of which, as many have since remarked, the historical novel is sadly lacking. Both men, despite their differences in nationality and class, are what the great student of human nature, novelist Jane Austen, regarded as "False Wits," egotists incapable of intellectual or spiritual growth. Such introspective inflexibility, implies, Furniss, can be merely laughable, or utterly detestable, depending upon the actions of the egotist. An old school fellow of Carton's, Stryver (lacking even a Christian name) is a pasteboard, jingoistic attorney whose love of self in the text corresponds to his love of expensive, fashionable clothing in Harry Furniss's illustration of Carton's "stout, red, bluff" foil, a "fellow of no delicacy," in contrast to Jarvis Lorry, a bourgeois of an entirely different stripe.
Andrew Sanders relates that Dickens based the character of Stryver, just a little over thirty and therefore Sydney Carton's near contemporary, on an actual attorney well-known even outside legal circles in the second half of the nineteenth century in London, and quite possibly recognized as the model by Phiz, if not by the New Man of the Sixties, Fred Barnard, and Harry Furniss in the fin de siecle:
In his Recollections and Experiences (1884) Edmund Yates suggests that Dickens based the character and physique of Stryver on that of the attorney Edwin John James (1812-82). James was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1836, appointed Queen's Counsel in 1853 and elected Member of Parliament for Marylebone in 1859-61. Declared bankrupt and disbarred for professional misconduct in 1861, he emigrated to America and practised at the New York Bar as well as playing on the stage. He died in London. Yates gives an account of his consultations with James in late 1858 or early 1859, describing him as 'a fat, florid man, with a large bland face . . . with chambers in the Temple . . . his practice was extensive, his fees enormous . . . he liked talking, but always directed the conversation in other channels'. — Sanders, 67.
Having accompanied Yates to just one of these legal consultations with the Lion of The Inner Temple, Dickens later admitted to his friend that James had severed as the model:
After reading the description, I [Yates] said to Dickens, 'Stryver is a good likeness.' He smiled. 'Not bad I think,' he said 'especially after only one sitting'. [Yates 2.31-2, cited in Sanders, 67]
That James was Phiz's model but not Barnard's is suggested merely by Stryver's bell-like girth in Congratulations and his leanness in Barnard's street scene outside Tellson's, London, as the revolutionary tide rises in Paris, Among the talkers was Stryver, of the King's Bench Bar, . . . broaching to Monseigneur his devices for blowing the people up, and exterminating them from the face of the earth (Book Two, Chapter 24). He is, of course, a pompous windbag, no matter what the edition in which one encounters him — but a relatively minor character with whom both Eytinge and Dixon, for the sake of economy, have dispensed.
Furniss's version is more arrogant and less pleasant than Phiz's, a caricature rather than a character, both large and florid, and suitably well dressed for the period with extensive, embroidered waistcoat, lace cuffs, wig, and walking stick — the English equivalent of the French fashion-plate the Marquis St. Evrémonde in the earlier Furniss illustration, but posing with a cane rather than carrying a rapier. For the perceptive, including his "jackal," Sydney Carton, and his putative bride, Lucie Manette, he poses no real threat, despite his pompous bluster and anti-democratic zenophobia. Whereas Barnard shows us Stryver "behind the scenes," fuelling his partner with alcohol, as well as publicly, remonstrating with French emigrées outside Tellson's London headquarters, Furniss contents himself with a single study of the public Stryver. The real-life Stryver, Edwin John James, was Dickens's precise contemporary. It is not unlikely that Dickens mentioned to Phiz that James had served as the model for the textual Stryver, a bit of insight into the obtuse attorney that Phiz may well have retailed to young Fred Barnard, especially since James was still alive and living in London when Barnard was executing the drawings for this volume of the Household Edition. Whether Furniss knew of the connection is unknown, but his version of attorney Stryver certain accords well with those passages in the text describing his person and personality.
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Bolton, H. Philip. Dickens Dramatized. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. The Letters of Charles Dickens. Ed. Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Tillotson. Oxford: Clarendon, 1965. Vol. 9 (1859-1861).
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. All the Year Round. 30 April through 26 November 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by John McLenan. Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. 7 May through 3 December 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by A. A. Dixon. London: Collins, 1905.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities, American Notes, and Pictures from Italy. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. Vol. 13.
Sanders, Andrew. A Companion to A Tale of Two Cities. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.
Last modified 15 November 2013