14.4 x 9.5 cm framed
Dickens's Christmas Stories, Vol. 16 of Charles Dickens Library Edition, facing page 472.
The 1865 Christmas framed tale Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions contained the introduction and conclusion by Dickens himself, as well as one of the inset stories, "To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt" (since reprinted in Two Ghost Stories as "The Trial for Murder" — and further extraneous material by his staff-writers at All the Year Round as the stories that her adoptive father writes for the deaf-and-dumb child. [Commentary continued below.]
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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"Now, you country boobies," says I, feeling as if my heart was a heavy weight at the end of a broken sashline, "I give you notice that I am a going to charm the money out of your pockets, and to give you so much more than your money's worth that you'll only persuade yourselves to draw your Saturday night's wages ever again arterwards by the hopes of meeting me to lay 'em out with, which you never will, and why not? Because I've made my fortunes by selling my goods on a large scale for seventy-five per cent. less than I give for 'em, and I am consequently to be elevated to the House of Peers next week, by the title of the Duke of Cheap and Markis Jackaloorul. Now let's know what you want to-night, and you shall have it. But first of all, shall I tell you why I have got this little girl round my neck? You don't want to know? Then you shall. She belongs to the Fairies. She's a fortune-teller. She can tell me all about you in a whisper, and can put me up to whether you're going to buy a lot or leave it. Now do you want a saw? No, she says you don't, because you're too clumsy to use one. Else here's a saw which would be a lifelong blessing to a handy man, at four shillings, at three and six, at three, at two and six, at two, at eighteen-pence. But none of you shall have it at any price, on account of your well-known awkwardness, which would make it manslaughter. The same objection applies to this set of three planes which I won't let you have neither, so don't bid for 'em. Now I am a going to ask her what you do want." [Chapter 1, "To Be Taken Immediately," page 479]
Thus, the multi-part story as it originally appeared on 12 December 1865 was a collaborative effort by his staffers. The staff-writers who produced five of Doctor Marigold's "prescriptions" are among the least known writers associated with Dickens and his weekly journals. Irish writer Rosa Mulholland (1841-1921) contributed "Not To Be Taken at Bed-Time"; Dickens's son-in-law, the painter and writer Charles Allston Collins, "To Be Taken at the Dinner-Table"; children's writer Hesba Stretton (the pen name of Sarah Smith, 1832-1911), "Not To Be Taken Lightly"; novelist and journalist Walter Thornbury (1828-1876), "To Be Taken in Water"; and Mrs. Gascoyne (probably the novelist Caroline Leigh Smith, 1813-1883), "To Be Taken and Tried." Furniss seems to have felt that the Doctor Marigold framed story was among the more significant in the two decades of seasonal offerings, for whereas he did not even illustrate “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners” (1857, Household Words), he provided three illustrations for the Marigold framed-tales, yet only one, for example, for the "two-season" Lirriper stories.
The Illustrated Library Edition "anthologized" version of the 1865 novella contained Edward Dalziel's Doctor Marigold. The 1876 American Household Edition of Christmas Stories contained E. A. Abbey's sixties style illustrations for The Christmas Books and plates for a few of the periodical stories, including the charming realisation of the visit by Sophy's daughter, "Grandfather!". Edward Dalziel was Chapman and Hall's choice of illustrator for its own Household Edition volume the following year; his execution of the illustration And at last, sitting dozing against a muddy cart-wheel, I come upon the poor girl who was deaf and dumb for this chapter, although hardly as dynamic as Furniss's dark plate, does at least (if somewhat unemotionally and statically) explore the physical dimensions of cheap jack and the child, and effectively presents the wagon.
Dalziel's illustration entitled Doctor Marigold in the 1868 Illustrated Library Edition realizes the moment at which protagonist first meets the deaf-and-dumb child whom Providence provides in place of his own daughter, victim of prolonged abuse at the hands of his demented wife, whereas E. A. Abbey's realizes the touching passage in which Dickens describes through the persona of the aged cheap jack the return from China of the second Sophy, now a wife and mother, and her daughter.
Relevant Illustrated Library Edition (1868) and Household Edition (1876-77) Illustrations
Left: E. G. Dalziel's 1868 plate "Doctor Marigold". Centre: E. A. Abbey's "Grandfather!". Right: Edward Dalziel's 1877 illustration "And at last, sitting dozing against a muddy cart-wheel, I come upon the poor girl who was deaf and dumb" [Click on images to enlarge them.]
From its position in the text, the 1868 Dalziel illustration would appear to concern Doctor Marigold, the first Sophy (clinging to him for protection), and young Suffolk wife; closer examination of the reflective and tranquil scene reveals the book-lined walls, which in turn suggest that this scene is comparable to Abbey's realisation of the return. (In fact, Furniss provides his own version of the reunion in Dr. Marigold's Little Visitor.) In contrast to the pensive stillness of this first Dalziel illustration and the delighted surprise of Marigold in his book-lined cart as his grand-daughter rushes in, Furniss realises a moment of high drama with a mob and Marigold's natural child. Marigold holds aloft the memorandum book with which he seeks to distract the mob of "country boobies" (479) from his protecting his ill child from her mother. Furniss merely suggests the cheap jack's cart, and focuses instead on Marigold and his drunken antagonists, the dark figure in the centre probably being the one who has just bid tuppence for the diminutive child. Furniss impressionistically communicates Marigold's desperation by his posture and his facial expression, suggesting a crazy nocturnal scene by the clouded moon (upper right), the chiaroscuro highlighting of several figures in the crowd surrounding the cart, and the Baroque sense of frozen action, all of which we encounter some seven pages before we come upon the elucidating text.
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.
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. Il. Harry Furniss. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. 2 vols.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All The Year Round". Il. Fred Walker, F. A. Fraser, Harry French, E. G. Dalziel, J. Mahony [sic], Townley Green, and Charles Green. Centenary Edition. 36 vols. London: Chapman & Hall; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911. Volume Two.
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.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Il. E. G. Dalziel. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877. Rpt., 1892.
Schlicke, Paul, ed. "Christmas Stories." The Oxford Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999. Pp. 100-101.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 26 September 2013