14 x 9.5 cm vignetted
Thirtieth 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. 320.
Whereas Dickens's original illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne, perhaps in conjunction with the author, elected to realise the moment when Lucie faints and must be supported by Carton (signalling the importance of his reintroduction into the narrative), Harry Furniss has decided to focus, as Fred Barnard had done in the Household Edition, on the moment of parting between the condemned prisoner and his desperate wife. [Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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The Judges having to take part in a public demonstration out of doors, the Tribunal adjourned. The quick noise and movement of the court's emptying itself by many passages had not ceased, when Lucie stood stretching out her arms towards her husband, with nothing in her face but love and consolation.
"If I might touch him! If I might embrace him once! O, good citizens, if you would have so much compassion for us!"
There was but a gaoler left, along with two of the four men who had taken him last night, and Barsad. The people had all poured out to the show in the streets. Barsad proposed to the rest, "Let her embrace him then; it is but a moment." It was silently acquiesced in, and they passed her over the seats in the hall to a raised place, where he, by leaning over the dock, could fold her in his arms.
"Farewell, dear darling of my soul. My parting blessing on my love. We shall meet again, where the weary are at rest!"
They were her husband's words, as he held her to his bosom.
"I can bear it, dear Charles. I am supported from above: don't suffer for me. A parting blessing for our child."
"I send it to her by you. I kiss her by you. I say farewell to her by you."
"My husband. No! A moment!" He was tearing himself apart from her. "We shall not be separated long. I feel that this will break my heart by-and-bye; but I will do my duty while I can, and when I leave her, God will raise up friends for her, as He did for me."
Her father had followed her, and would have fallen on his knees to both of them, but that Darnay put out a hand and seized him, crying:
"No, no! What have you done, what have you done, that you should kneel to us! We know now, what a struggle you made of old. We know, now what you underwent when you suspected my descent, and when you knew it. We know now, the natural antipathy you strove against, and conquered, for her dear sake. We thank you with all our hearts, and all our love and duty. Heaven be with you!"
Her father's only answer was to draw his hands through his white hair, and wring them with a shriek of anguish. [Book Three, "The Track of a Storm," Chapter Eleven, "Dusk," p. 317-318]
Relevant Illustrations from earlier editions: 1859, 1867, 1874, and 1905
Left: John McLenan's 12 November 1859 Headnote vignette for Book III, Chapter 11 ("Dusk"). Right: "After the Sentence" by Hablot Knight Browne in the seventh monthly number (December 1859).
Left: Fred Barnard's Household Edition illustration depicting Darnay's being led away after being found guilty at his second trial in Book Three, Chapter Nine, ""As he was drawn away, his wife released him, and stood looking after him with her hands touching one another in the attitude of prayer" (1874). Centre: A. A. Dixon's version of Darnay's re-arrest following the Defarges' denunciation, "I know you, Evrémonde!" (1905). Right: Furniss's earlier study of Darnay's being re-arrested on the very evening of the day upon which he had been acquitted, "A Knock at the Door" (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
In this pictorial climax, Lucie clasps Charles about the neck after the court's dread sentence confirmed unanimously by the jurors amidst the roaring approval of the onlookers. Shortly, as the court has decreed (and as, indeed, happened to almost three thousand prisoners during the Reign of Terror), Charles must return to the Conciergerie and face execution upon the public scaffold "within four-and-twenty hours" (last line of Chapter Ten, "The Substance of the Shadow" (317).
With a program of thirty-two illustrations to complete and apparently no concern about repeating Phiz's illustrations, Furniss again reinterprets one of the original 1859 monthly illustrations, After the Sentence. What distiguishes this reworking of the fifty-year-old steel engraving is Furniss's audacity in shifting the focus from Lucie and the central male figure (Sydney Carton in the 1859 engraving), and their flanking supporters (Jarvus Lorry to the left; Doctor Manette to the right) towards the minor group of Barsad, the gaoler, and one of the arresting officers (he of the Phrygian cap in Phiz's illustration). In the original, Lorry and Carton assume prominence as possible actors in Darnay's release whereas Doctor Manette seems impotent as he is overwhelmed by frustration and descends into despair. Having already parted from her doomed husband, Lucie is now supported by the other male guardians of the Darnay family as Mr. Lorry sympathetically takes her hand, and her father tears his hair to exemplify his sense of his own powerlessness to influence the outcome of events that his secret document, written in his own blood twenty-five years earlier in his Bastille cell.
Whereas in the scene of his son-in-law's rearrest, A Knock at the Door, Furniss's Doctor Manette with his lamp is central although barely visible in the background, as if powerless to avert his son-in-law's fate, here Doctor Manette, with his streaming hair and bulging eyes, is positioned in the extreme upper-right, behind Lucie. The oaffish, coarse-featured, uniformed gaoler in the Phrygian cap, distinguished by his ring of keys (centre), dominates the scene by his size and central location, as well as by his casual pose, substantial girth, and gigantic sabre — a leering figure who with his weapon and his keys to the condemned cells in the Conciergerie exemplifies the Revolution at its worst, utterly unmoved by the fate of those consigned to his charge before their public execution.
As unpleasant and crude as Defarge, producing the letter he found and exhibiting in court, in John MacLenan's serial illustration in Harper's Weekly, 29 October 1859, This is that written paper!", the identity of this functionary is undoubted, as are those of the much smaller figures of Charles and Lucie Darnay above him in the prisoner's docket. However, the identities of the other four figures remain problematic. From the letterpress we know that Barsad is one the three others present, and, indeed, that it is he rather than the gaoler who assumes control of the situation by permitting the tearful farewell. Since the recognition of his authority by the guards and turnkey will be instrumental in Carton's substituting himself for Darnay, his presence here is significant, so that the illustrator should somehow acknowledge his influence here. However, Furniss has (or appears to have) included a despondent Jarvis Lorry in the lower left, but to have left Barsad (readily identifiable by his distinctive nose from Furniss's earlier study, "John Barsad," the Spy) out of the frame altogether.
Accordingly, considering that Furniss has selected for realisation an earlier moment than that in Phiz's illustration, perhaps a more useful point of reference for Furniss's composition is not Phiz's (which in fact relates to developments after Charles's exit), but that of Fred Barnard in the Household Edition, As he was drawn away, his wife released him, and stood looking after him with her hands touching one another in the attitude of prayer since it realises precisely the same scene, albeit in the markedly realistic and theatrical manner of the Sixties style. Although he is well to the right of the composition, Charles Darnay remains the focal character because he is framed by the open door, the light beyond haloing his head. His supporting figures, the Jacobin guard and the dour gaoler, upstage, are balanced by the three downstage figures of Manette (left, giving way to despair), Lorry, and Lucie (centre), each distinguished by varying responses to Darnay's departure.
Barnard captures the moment of dignified stillness that immediately follows the general clearing of the courtroom when, having embraced her husband for the last time (she thinks), Lucie releases Charles — in other words, Barnard's moment illustrated occurs immediately after that which Furniss has selected. The Household Edition illustrator, capturing the expression of inevitability on the faces of Darnay and his lean, well-dressed gaoler (in form and feature utterly different from Furniss's lout), disposes his figures across the space as if it were a narrow stage, directing the gazes of the characters upstage, to the departing Charles Darnay in the doorway, organising the characters into two groups of three; downstage right (i. e., the viewer's left), the psychologically shattered Dr. Manette, "draw[ing] his hands through his white hair, and wring[ing] them with with a shriek of anguish" (Household Edition, 155; Charles Dickens Library Edition, 318), Jarvis Lorry, and Lucie; upstage left, a guard, Darnay, and the turnkey or gaoler, identified by his keys — presumably, then, the shadowy profile just outside the door is Barsad's. Thus, Barnard has maintained Barsad as a mysterious, shadowy figure, even while realising all the particulars provided in the text.
Organizing his figures on a staircase rather than on a stage, Furniss seems to have felt free to experiment with the postures of all of the figures except those of Charles and Lucie Darnay, even going so far as omitting the ambivalent Barsad, in order to contrast the stoicism of Charles Darnay and the tenderness of Luciewith the surly callousness of the inappropriately jocular gaoler, again a less human and more animalistic figure than the victim of Revolutionary justice and his family and friends. The depiction of the sentimental moment is therefore undercut somewhat by Furniss's more satirical treatment of the turnkey as Furniss thrusts husband and wife into the background, and sets the scene in a space characterized by depth of field, as opposed to the more "stagey" strategy of Barnard and Phiz, who have placed figures of approximately the same size in a horizontally rather than vertically organised plate.
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Last modified 3 January 2014