Mr. Baptist takes refuge in Happy Cottage. — Dorrit, p. 599. Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 13, "The Progress of an Epidemic." 9.3 cm high by 13.7 cm wide, vignetted, facing p. 608. Fin-de-siécle illustrator Harry Furniss's re-interpretation of Phiz's original serial illustration of the scene in Happy Cottage, Bleeding Heart Yard, when Cavaletto, thinking that he has just seen Rigaud, his old Marseilles cellmate, in London, hides in the Plornishes' shop. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Passage Realized

"Padrona, dearest," returned the little foreigner whom she so considerately protected, "do not ask, I pray. Once again I say it matters not. I have fear of this man. I do not wish to see him, I do not wish to be known of him — never again! Enough, most beautiful. Leave it."

The topic was so disagreeable to him, and so put his usual liveliness to the rout, that Mrs. Plornish forbore to press him further: the rather as the tea had been drawing for some time on the hob. But she was not the less surprised and curious for asking no more questions; neither was Mr. Pancks, whose expressive breathing had been labouring hard since the entrance of the little man, like a locomotive engine with a great load getting up a steep incline. Maggy, now better dressed than of yore, though still faithful to the monstrous character of her cap, had been in the background from the first with open mouth and eyes, which staring and gaping features were not diminished in breadth by the untimely suppression of the subject. However, no more was said about it, though much appeared to be thought on all sides: by no means excepting the two young Plornishes, who partook of the evening meal as if their eating the bread and butter were rendered almost superfluous by the painful probability of the worst of men shortly presenting himself for the purpose of eating them. Mr. Baptist, by degrees began to chirp a little; but never stirred from the seat he had taken behind the door and close to the window, though it was not his usual place. As often as the little bell rang, he started and peeped out secretly, with the end of the little curtain in his hand and the rest before his face; evidently not at all satisfied but that the man he dreaded had tracked him through all his doublings and turnings, with the certainty of a terrible bloodhound. — Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 13, "The Progress of an Epidemic," p. 598-599.


Whereas the original Phiz version, Mr. Baptist is Supposed to have seen Something, contains Pancks, the Plornishes, Old Nandy, and Cavaletto, Furniss has added the boy and girl eating bread-and-butter, and Maggy, recognizable immediately by her over-sized hat. The effect of a static group portrait is disrupted by the very different postures of the eight characters, with the strangely dressed Cavaletto turned to look out of the window, Maggy and Old Nandy seated, the Plornishes standing on the other side of the dining-table, and Pancks (also immediately recognizable by a single feature, his spiked hair) standing with his back to the fire.

The two chief illustrators of Dickens's novel in the nineteenth century, Phiz (1855-57) and James Mahoney (1873), have focussed on very different aspects of the plot revealed in this chapter: whereas Phiz in the original serial illustration (and Harry Furniss in his derivative Mr. Baptist takes refuge in Happy Cottage) underscores Cavaletto's terror of Rigaud, who has suddenly appeared in London, Mahoney pursues the investment mania created by Merdle's promise of high rates of return on significant investment, a mania that has even swept up so cautious an investor as Panks, identified by his hat and bag here, as opposed to his spiky hair in Sol Eytinge, Junior's portrait of him and slum landlord Casby, and Harry Furniss's version of this group scene. Furniss follows Phiz's lead in his choice of subject, preferring the character comedy of the parlour scene.

Pertinent illustrations in other early editions, 1867 to 1910

Left: Eytinge, Junior's dual study of the hard-headed Victorian businessmen Casby and Pancks (1867). Right: James Mahoney's Household Edition illustration of Pancks's confiding that he has caught the Merdle investment contagion, "And you have really invested your thousand pounds, Pancks?" (1873). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Phiz's original serial illustration of the scene in Happy Cottage, Mr. Baptist is Supposed to have seen Something (Book 2, Ch. 13 (Part 14: January 1857). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 15 May 2016