14 x 9.8 cm vignetted
Ninth illustration for A Tale of Two Cities in A Tale of Two Cities, American Notes, Pictures from Italy, The Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), vol. 13, facing p. 97.
The illustration prepares the reader for the swelling tide of Revolution across the Channel in Book Two, "The Golden Thread." In this quiet corner of the great metropolis, itself the alter-ego of the turbulent French capital, Doctor Manette's guests for tea seem to hear the echoes of the multitude's footsteps in the streets of St. Antoine, hastening towards the Bastille. [Commentary continued below.]
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Rain was really falling in large drops, and [Dr. Manette] showed the back of his hand with rain-drops on it. But, he said not a single word in reference to the discovery that had been told of, and, as they went into the house, the business eye of Mr. Lorry either detected, or fancied it detected, on his face, as it turned towards Charles Darnay, the same singular look that had been upon it when it turned towards him in the passages of the Court House.
He recovered himself so quickly, however, that Mr. Lorry had doubts of his business eye. The arm of the golden giant in the hall was not more steady than he was, when he stopped under it to remark to them that he was not yet proof against slight surprises (if he ever would be), and that the rain had startled him.
Tea-time, and Miss Pross making tea, with another fit of the jerks upon her, and yet no Hundreds of people. Mr. Carton had lounged in, but he made only Two.
The night was so very sultry, that although they sat with doors and windows open, they were overpowered by heat. When the tea-table was done with, they all moved to one of the windows, and looked out into the heavy twilight. Lucie sat by her father; Darnay sat beside her; Carton leaned against a window. The curtains were long and white, and some of the thunder-gusts that whirled into the corner, caught them up to the ceiling, and waved them like spectral wings.
"The rain-drops are still falling, large, heavy, and few," said Doctor Manette. "It comes slowly."
"It comes surely," said Carton. [Book Two, "The Golden Thread," Chapter Six, "Hundreds of People," p. 94]
Relevant Illustrations from earlier editions, 1859, and 1874.
Left: John McLennan's headnote vignette of Doctor Manette's contemporaries in the extended Soho family, "Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry"; Centre: Phiz's additional illustration for the final, double-number, "Under the Plane tree". Right: Fred Barnard's "And smoothing her rich hair. . ." (1874). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
The picture has little meaning in and of itself unless one has recourse to the accompanying text, which in this edition of the novel occurs three pages and a chapter earlier. In contrast to the placid surface of daily life in England, matters in France are tending towards a massive eruption of violence and blood-letting that will engulf the figures in the parlour: Sydney Carton (left, standing), Charles Darnay (right, seated), Lucie (centre), and her aged father, the former Bastille prisoner (centre left). Having far more scenes at his disposal than Dickens's original illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne, Harry Furniss seems to have realized the importance of setting off these individual and family fortunes against the backdrop of history. Whereas other illustrators have focussed on Miss Pross's protective feelings for Lucie in "Hundreds of People," Furniss devote the illustration to this subtle foreshadowing of the footsteps of the mob as part of the march of history beyond the control and even the understanding of individuals, whether well-meaning and well-motivated such as Charles Darnay and Doctor Manette, or those such as Madame Defarge and the Wood-sawyer motivated by a desire for vengeance.
In Phiz's additional plates for the December 1859 double number, he offers a comparable representation of the group, Under the Plane Tree, but this image from Book Two is detached from the text, whereas Furniss's representation is embedded on Dickens's text. John McLenan's illustration for the chapter focuses on Miss Pross's anxieties about losing her "Ladybird" to an ardent suitor in "Hundreds of People," and therefore fails to address the larger historical issues present in Furniss's illustration for the chapter. Again, Fred Barnard, in the Chapman and Hall Household Edition is more interested in Miss Pross's quasi-maternal anxieties, as the unmarried guardian of Lucie Manette in the Book Two, Chapter Six, illustration And smoothing her rich hair with as much pride as she could possibly have taken in her own hair if she had been the vainest and handsomest of women (p. 45). In none of his ten illustrations, however, for the Collins Pocket Edition of 1905 does Dixon describe the quiet suburban nook in which Doctor Manette has found a temporary respite from the turbulent and violent class warfare of his native land, nor does Sol Eytinge in the Diamond Edition volume graph this moment of calm before the storm.
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Bolton, H. Philip. Dickens Dramatized. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
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.
Last modified 8 November 2013