14.2 x 9.2 cm framed
Thirty-second 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. 402.
Dickens's original illustrator, George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany seems to have regarded Oliver's aunt, Rose Maylie, as a minor character, depicting her clearly only in The Meeting (Part 20, December 1838) and Rose Maylie and Oliver — The Church Plate (Part 24, April 1839). The present lithograph is not so much Furniss's response to those original engravings with their rather prosaic and passive heroine as to the James Mahoney wood-engraving for Chapter 51 in the third volume of the Household Edition, "Do you know this young lady, sir?". [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.]
"Nay," returned the old gentleman, drawing her arm through his; "you have more fortitude than this, I am sure. Do you know this young lady, sir?"
"Yes," replied Monks.
"I never saw you before," said Rose faintly.
"I have seen you often," returned Monks.
"The father of the unhappy Agnes had two daughters," said Mr. Brownlow. "What was the fate of the other — the child?"
"The child," replied Monks, "when her father died in a strange place, in a strange name, without a letter, book, or scrap of paper that yielded the faintest clue by which his friends or relatives could be traced — the child was taken by some wretched cottagers, who reared it as their own."
"Go on," said Mr. Brownlow, signing to Mrs. Maylie to approach. "Go on!"
"You couldn't find the spot to which these people had repaired," said Monks, "but where friendship fails, hatred will often force a way. My mother found it, after a year of cunning search — ay, and found the child."
"She took it, did she?"
"No. The people were poor and began to sicken — at least the man did — of their fine humanity; so she left it with them, giving them a small present of money which would not last long, and promised more, which she never meant to send. She didn't quite rely, however, on their discontent and poverty for the child's unhappiness, but told the history of the sister's shame, with such alterations as suited her; bade them take good heed of the child, for she came of bad blood;; and told them she was illegitimate, and sure to go wrong at one time or other. The circumstances countenanced all this; the people believed it; and there the child dragged on an existence, miserable enough even to satisfy us, until a widow lady, residing, then, at Chester, saw the girl by chance, pitied her, and took her home. There was some cursed spell, I think, against us; for in spite of all our efforts she remained there and was happy. I lost sight of her, two or three years ago, and saw her no more until a few months back."
"Do you see her now?"
"Yes. Leaning on your arm."
"But not the less my niece," cried Mrs. Maylie, folding the fainting girl in her arms; "not the less my dearest child. I would not lose her now, for all the treasures of the world. My sweet companion, my own dear girl!"
"The only friend I ever had," cried Rose, clinging to her. "The kindest, best of friends. My heart will burst. I cannot bear all this."
"You have borne more, and have been, through all, the best and gentlest creature that ever shed happiness on every one she knew," said Mrs. Maylie, embracing her tenderly. 'Come, come, my love, remember who this is who waits to clasp you in his arms, poor child! See here--look, look, my dear!"
"Not aunt," cried Oliver, throwing his arms about her neck; "I'll never call her aunt — sister, my own dear sister, that something taught my heart to love so dearly from the first! Rose, dear, darling Rose!"
Let the tears which fell, and the broken words which were exchanged in the long close embrace between the orphans, be sacred. A father, sister, and mother, were gained, and lost, in that one moment. Joy and grief were mingled in the cup; but there were no bitter tears: for even grief itself arose so softened, and clothed in such sweet and tender recollections, that it became a solemn pleasure, and lost all character of pain.
They were a long, long time alone. A soft tap at the door, at length announced that some one was without. Oliver opened it, glided away, and gave place to Harry Maylie.
"I know it all," he said, taking a seat beside the lovely girl. "Dear Rose, I know it all."
[Chapter 51, "Affording an Explanation of More Mysteries than One, and Comprehending a Proposal of Marriage with No Word of Settlement or Pin-Money," p. 402-403.]
Dickens's orginal illustrator, George Cruikshank in Bentley's Miscellany depicts Rose only twice, first in the covert meeting under London Bridge between the respectable and the scarlet woman, Rose and Nancy, and then again in the concluding scene at the memorial for Oliver's mother. Whereas Cruikshank, not knowing the entire trajectory of the plot, seems to have underestimated her importance in the story and contributes little through these two plates little to Dickens's verbal portraits of Rose Maylie, in the Household Edition three illustrations characterise Rose as a sensitive, upper-middle-class beauty: When it became quite dark, and they returned home, the young lady would sit down to the piano, and play some pleasant air (Chapter 32), "A few — a very few — will suffice, Rose,"said the young man, drawing his chair towards her (Chapter 35), and "Do you know this young lady, sir?" (Chapter 51). However, in terms of angular, youthful beauty and poise Furniss's Rose far surpasses Mahoney's. Furthermore, Furniss distinguishes his fair heroine, in contrast to the darker, heavier Nancy, by her sensitivity and emotionalism, as she pities Nancy and urges Mr. Brownlow to assist her in escaping from moral degradation in The Meeting under London Bridge (Chapter 46, "The Appointment Kept"). Clearly, Furniss in depicting Rose for the last of her four appearances in his sequence had in mind the following passage from much earlier in the novel, when Dickens introduces her:
The younger lady was in the lovely bloom and spring-time of womanhood; at that age, when, if ever angels be for God’s good purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may be, without impiety, supposed to abide in such as hers.
She was not past seventeen. Cast in so slight and exquisite a mould; so mild and gentle; so pure and beautiful; that earth seemed not her element, nor its rough creatures her fit companions. The very intelligence that shone in her deep blue eye, and was stamped upon her noble head, seemed scarcely of her age, or of the world; and yet the changing expression of sweetness and good humour, the thousand lights that played about the face, and left no shadow there; above all, the smile, the cheerful, happy smile, were made for Home, and fireside peace and happiness. [Chapter 29, "Has an Introductory Account of the Inmates of the House, To Which Oliver Resorted," p. 213-214]
In Chapter 35, having received Harry's marriage proposal, Rose apparently renounces her own chance for happiness as she cries at the moment of self-sacrifice that will preserve Harry's political career: "when one [tear] fell upon the flower over which she bent, and glistened brightly in its cup, making it more beautiful, it seemed as though the outpouring of her fresh young heart, claimed kindred with the loveliest things in nature" (263). She is, despite the shadow over her birth, an idealised young woman whose sheer sentiment is in complete contrast to the utter lack of sentiment shown by Fagin, Sikes, and Nancy. As William T. Lankford suggests, the slender, physically attractive and impeccably dressed Rose Maylie is the binary opposite to the slovenly, agressive, duplicitous Nancy seen earlier in the novel. Alike in age, Rose and Nancy remain opposites, even after Nancy informs against Monks, for she remains loyal to her criminal associates to the last, despite knowing that they would not hesitate to kill her if they believed she had betrayed them. Rose's sudden illness threatens Oliver's implicit belief in the beneficent powers of Providence (just as the death of Nancy is both senseless and unmerited), but Rose's recovery in her natural milieu, the English countryside, at least temporarily vindicates that trust in natural justice. In the present lithograph, Furniss detaches Rose from any particular scene since the portrait has no quotation: she is presented as the human analogue of the rose.
Illustrations from the original 1837-38 serial publication and later editions
Left: George Cruikshank's The Meeting (Part 20, December 1838). Centre: from Furniss's earlier illustration Rose and Nancy (1910). Right: George Cruikshank's final illustration, in which Rose looks rather like George Eliot, Rose Maylie and Oliver — The Church Plate (Part 24, April 1839). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: James Mahoney's 1871 engraving of the momentous interview with Oliver's devious half-brother, Monks, "Do you know this young lady, sir?" [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
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Last modified 13 March 2015