"On the Way to Paris"
14.5 x 9.5 cm framed
Twenty-third 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. 232.
Although the illustration is situated at the close of Book Two, "The Golden Thread," the subject matter and the caption point to the opening chapter of the concluding book, when Charles Darnay, having inherited his uncle's title, feels responsible the St. Evémonde family retainer, Gabelle, who has written Darnay from the former royalist prison of La Abbaye. Furniss has resumed the ink-and-wash style which he employed for The Fall of the Bastille and The End of Foulon, a style perhaps suggestive of a photograph, and therefore of an historical recreation rather than a literary realisation. [Commentary continued below.]
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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Darnay complied, and was taken back to the guard-house, where other patriots in rough red caps were smoking, drinking, and sleeping, by a watch-fire. Here he paid a heavy price for his escort, and hence he started with it on the wet, wet roads at three o'clock in the morning.
The escort were two mounted patriots in red caps and tri-coloured cockades, armed with national muskets and sabres, who rode one on either side of him.
The escorted governed his own horse, but a loose line was attached to his bridle, the end of which one of the patriots kept girded round his wrist. In this state they set forth with the sharp rain driving in their faces: clattering at a heavy dragoon trot over the uneven town pavement, and out upon the mire-deep roads. In this state they traversed without change, except of horses and pace, all the mire-deep leagues that lay between them and the capital.
They travelled in the night, halting an hour or two after daybreak, and lying by until the twilight fell. The escort were so wretchedly clothed, that they twisted straw round their bare legs, and thatched their ragged shoulders to keep the wet off. Apart from the personal discomfort of being so attended, and apart from such considerations of present danger as arose from one of the patriots being chronically drunk, and carrying his musket very recklessly, Charles Darnay did not allow the restraint that was laid upon him to awaken any serious fears in his breast; for, be reasoned with himself that it could have no reference to the merits of an individual case that was not yet stated, and of representations, confirmable by the prisoner in the Abbaye, that were not yet made. [Book Three, "The Track of a Storm," Chapter One, "In Secret," p. 234]
Relevant Illustrations from earlier editions: 1859, 1867, 1874, and 1905
Left: John McLenan's 17 September 1859 depiction of Charles Darnay on horseback, "Headnote Vignette: Drawn to the Loadstone Rock". Right: "Before the Prison Tribunal" by Hablot Knight Browne in the sixth monthly number (November 1859).
Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's Diamond Edition comparison of the upright, moral young liberal, Charles Darnay, and his scheming, self-centred, aristocratic uncle in "Charles Darnay and The Marquis" (1867). Centre: Fred Barnard's Household Edition illustration depicting Darnay's arrest in Book Three, Chapter One, "Some registers were lying open on a desk and an officer of a coarse dark aspect presided over these" (1874). Right: A. A. Dixon's version of the arraignment of Darnay in Paris, "You are consigned to La Force" (1905). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
That Charles Darnay is placing himself in extreme danger as, "drawn to the loadstone rock," he returns to Paris to rescue the functionary of the house of St. Evrémonde, Gabelle, from imprisonment in the Abbaye, the reader of the 1910 edition knows before even beginning the third book that Darnay will probably be arrested. The ink-wash drawing transformed into a lithograph clearly shows a cold, stolid Darnay in fashionable hat and riding cloak "escorted" by two armed Jacobins, whose faces we do not see and who remain undistinguished as representatives of an armed and menacing political faction posing a danger to any collaborators of the Old Regime. Prominent in the drawing is the foregrounded Jacabin's enormous cutlass, signifying Darnay's loss of autonomy as he makes his way to Paris. Already his mission is futile, as the men in the red caps with the tricolour cockades (their only salient features) have seized him as their prisoner. Consistent with Thomas Carlyle's description in The French Revolution (3. 1.3), of the weather in northern France in the latter part of August 1792 as cold and wet — Dickens describes Darnay's journey "on the wet, wet roads at three o'clock in the morning" (234) — the illustration is indeed"gloomy." The medium permitted Furniss to inject a watery, indistinct quality into the picture, as if one is viewing the three mounted figures in the rain.
Ironically, Darnay has set out from England on 14 August 1792, just the day after the French royal family were consigned to the Prison of the Temple (Sanders, 137) and just four days after the storming of the Tuileries and the new government enacted the forfeiture of all emigré lands. However, that Darnay as a returned emigrant must forfeit his life is not technically correct,
for this law was not brought in until 28 March 1793, when the death penalty was introduced for anyone who could not show that he had been in continued residence since 9 May 1792. [Sanders, 135]
Furniss may not have been aware of the fact that Dickens deliberately shifted Darnay's journey from "the first month of the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three" (revised in MS and cited in Sanders, 134) to precisely this date in late summer 1792 to exploit the irony of his arriving in France under such turbulent and dangerous conditions. In fact, "That night — it was the fourteenth of August" (Book Two, Chapter Twenty-four, page 231) does not occur in the manuscript, according to Sanders (133). Given the dilatory nature of international communications at this time, Darnay could not in all likelihood have heard of this perilous turn of events upon setting out, and only after his consignment to prison could he have learned of the fate of the royal family.
Other illustrators in their coverage of the closing chapter of Book Two and the opening chapter of Book Three do not seem to have been interested in Darnay's journey — indeed, only John MacLenan in his Harper's Weekly headnote vignette for the episode (17 September 1859 instalment) depicts a mounted Charles Darnay, a figure riding fast and apparently oblivious to the menacing, leafless trees (surely symbolic rather than literal, given the time of the year) on either side of the road. The other illustrators, following Phiz's cue in the original monthly illustrations, focus on the arrest of Darnay in Paris, a scene which Furniss sketchily realizes next in his sequence as the ardent and handsome young man reasonably pleads his case before a ragtag official in the guard house, which seems to be populated by a drunken mob rather than regular soldiers.
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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. 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.
Sanders, Andrew. A Companion to A Tale of Two Cities. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.
Last modified 23 December 2013