14.4 x 10 cm
Single illustration for Dickens's A House to Let in Christmas Stories, Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), vol. 16, facing p. 225.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham
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The romantic dwarf whose short-lived existence among the wealthy of London's West End is the subject of "Going into Society" (one of six pieces in A House to Let) in the 1858 Extra Christmas number of Household Words, Mr. Chops, swears his undying devotion to a large woman as his friend, Toby Magsman, looks on. Magsman, acting as narrator, merely articulates a general principle about "Major Tpschoffki." There is no scene in the story comparable to this illustration. Compare, however, Furniss's dynamic and highly humorously relatively modern handling of his material with the relatively staid treatment of Edward Dalziel in "Going into Society" or the more faithful realisation by Edwin Austin Abbey for the Harper and Brothers version of the Household Edition (1876), "'Magsman,' he says, 'take me on the hold terms, and you've got me; if it's done, say done!'" E. A. Abbey.
But, the Dwarf is the principal article at present, and he was worth the money. He was wrote up as MAJOR TPSCHOFFKI, OF THE IMPERIAL BULGRADERIAN BRIGADE. Nobody couldn't pronounce the name, and it never was intended anybody should. The public always turned it, as a regular rule, into Chopski. In the line he was called Chops; partly on that account, and partly because his real name, if he ever had any real name (which was very dubious), was Stakes.
He was a un-common small man, he really was. Certainly not so small as he was made out to be, but where is your Dwarf as is? He was a most uncommon small man, with a most uncommon large Ed; and what he had inside that Ed, nobody ever knowed but himself: even supposin himself to have ever took stock of it, which it would have been a stiff job for even him to do.
The kindest little man as never growed! Spirited, but not proud. When he travelled with the Spotted Baby — though he knowed himself to be a nat'ral Dwarf, and knowed the Baby's spots to be put upon him artificial, he nursed that Baby like a mother. You never heerd him give a ill-name to a Giant. He did allow himself to break out into strong language respectin the Fat Lady from Norfolk; but that was an affair of the 'art; and when a man's 'art has been trifled with by a lady, and the preference giv to a Indian, he ain't master of his actions.
He was always in love, of course; every human nat'ral phenomenon is. And he was always in love with a large woman; I never knowed the Dwarf as could be got to love a small one. Which helps to keep 'em the Curiosities they are. [220-221]
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. Vol 16.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Il. Edward Dalziel, Harry French, F. A. Fraser, James Mahoney, Townley Green, and Charles Green. The Oxford Illustrated Dickens. Oxford, New York, and Toronto: Oxford U.P., 1956, rpt. 1989.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Il. E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 18 January 2013