The Artful Dodger before the Magistrates
14.3 x 9.5 cm vignetted
Twenty-seventh illustration for The Adventures of Oliver Twist in Oliver Twist and A Child's History of England, Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), vol. 3, facing p. 336.
Dickens's original illustrator, George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany did not focus on the Dodger's fate; rather, Furniss's model was apparently the James Mahoney courtroom scene in the third volume of the Household Edition, "What is this?" inquired one of the magistrates. — "A pick-pocketing case, Your Worship.". However, Furniss's Dodger is no diminutive, chirpy Cockney street-child in Chapter 43, but a suave, fashionably dressed young adult. [Click on illustration 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.]
Here there was another laugh, and another cry of silence.
"Now then, where are the witnesses?" said the clerk.
"Ah! that's right," added the Dodger. "Where are they? I should like to see 'em."
This wish was immediately gratified, for a policeman stepped forward who had seen the prisoner attempt the pocket of an unknown gentleman in a crowd, and indeed take a handkerchief therefrom, which, being a very old one, he deliberately put back again, after trying it on his own countenance. For this reason, he took the Dodger into custody as soon as he could get near him, and the said Dodger, being searched, had upon his person a silver snuff-box, with the owner's name engraved upon the lid. This gentleman had been discovered on reference to the Court Guide, and being then and there present, swore that the snuff-box was his, and that he had missed it on the previous day, the moment he had disengaged himself from the crowd before referred to. He had also remarked a young gentleman in the throng, particularly active in making his way about, and that young gentleman was the prisoner before him.
"Have you anything to ask this witness, boy?" said the magistrate.
"I wouldn't abase myself by descending to hold no conversation with him," replied the Dodger.
"Have you anything to say at all?"
"Do you hear his worship ask if you've anything to say?" inquired the jailer, nudging the silent Dodger with his elbow.
"I beg your pardon," said the Dodger, looking up with an air of abstraction. "Did you redress yourself to me, my man?"
"I never see such an out-and-out young wagabond, your worship," observed the officer with a grin. "Do you mean to say anything, you young shaver?"
"No," replied the Dodger, "not here, for this ain't the shop for justice: besides which, my attorney is a-breakfasting this morning with the Wice President of the House of Commons; but I shall have something to say elsewhere, and so will he, and so will a wery numerous and 'spectable circle of acquaintance as'll make them beaks wish they'd never been born, or that they'd got their footmen to hang 'em up to their own hat-pegs, 'afore they let 'em come out this morning to try it on upon me. I'll —"
"There! He's fully committed!" interposed the clerk. "Take him away."
[Chapter 43, "Wherein is shown how the Artful Dodger got into trouble," 337-338]
Furniss's pickpocket, like Mahoney's in the 1871 Household Edition, casually challenges the authority of the magistrate's court; in the text, Noah Claypole, a new hire in the gang and therefore unknown to the police (disguised as a countryman in a linen smock-frock and holding a carter's whip in the Household Edition wood-engraving) observes the proceedings on behalf of Fagin. He does not, however, appear among the eleven observers of the scene in the Furniss illustration, which focuses on the Dodger by lightly sketching in the background characters, including the court-recorder and the magistrates in their beaver hats. Dickens and Cruikshank had elected to focus the reader's attention instead on the scene in which Fagin enlists the assistance of the fatuous Noah Claypole, recently fled to London with the Sowerberrys' maid, Charlotte, in The Jew & Morris Both begin to understand each other (Part 19, November 1838) in Chapter 42, "An old Acquaintance of Oliver's, exhibiting decided marks of Genius, becomes a public Character in the Metropolis." This is the beginning of the final sequence of events which include the murder of Nancy and the unmasking of Monks, and yet it is not Furniss's final comic illustration. This scene, however, does mark the departure of that unique Cockney voice from the text as the Artful Dodger is sentenced to transportation Down Under.
Furniss sets up the composition strategically with the youthful, witty, self-confident petty thief (rather more nattily dressed than in other illustrators' conceptions) dominating the plate by virtue of the strong, diagonal lines of his figure and his central position, with the heads of nine old men (both bystanders and court officials), Furniss does not clearly establish the perspective as that of Noah Claypole. Bayed about by old heads representative of the establishment, some affronted and some smirking, the Dodger, hand in trouser pocket and smile fearlessly directed towards the uniformed officer (left), is not cowed by the authorities who now judge him. But his clothes fit too smartly, and he is hardly the disreputable figure that one sees in other programs of illustration for the novel. Whereas the 1871 wood-engraving by Mahoney focuses on the earlier part of the hearing, Furniss realises the latter part of the trial, in which the prisoner has the opportunity to question the witness regarding his testimony about the theft of the snuff-box. At this point, that The Artful Dodger will shortly become a transported felon, like Magwitch in Great Expectations (1861) is a foregone conclusion.
Illustrations from the original 1837-38 serial publication and later editions
Left: George Cruikshank's The Jew & Morris Both begin to understand each other. Centre: Sol Eytinge, Junior's The Artful Dodger and Charley Bates. Right: Frederic W. Pailthorpe's realisation of the introduction of the Dodger into the narrative-pictorial sequence, "Hullo, my covey! What's the row?" (1886). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: Clayton J. Clarke's Player's Cigarette card image, The Artful Dodger (1910). Centre: Kyd's The Artful Dodger. Right: Kyd's third, hand-painted realisation of the chipper thief, the little-known The Artful Dodger (1900). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: James Mahoney's 1871 engraving of the Dodger's trial, "What is this?" inquired one of the magistrates. — "A pick-pocketing case, Your Worship." [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
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Last modified 5 March 2015