"The Haunted Man and the 'Waif' with the Phantoms" by Charles Green. 1912. 11 x 14.5 cm, exclusive of frame. Dickens's The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. A Fancy for Christmas Time, Pears Centenary Edition, in which the plates often have captions that are different from the short titles given in the "List of Illustrations" (p. 15-16). For example, the series editor, Clement Shorter, has used a direct quotation that illustrates the metaphysical nature of Redlaw's experience with the Phantom and the spirit of Milly Swidger, "Beyond the boy, so that his sleeping figure lay at its feet, the Phantom stood, immovable and silent, with its eyes upon him" (p. 120, quoted from the bottom of the page preceding). The manner of the execution, in imitation of the kind of dark plate pioneered by Dickens's chief illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne in Bleak House, imparts a weird glow to the face of Milly's spirit while leaving Redlaw a mere silhouette against the lamp, which nevertheless casts a faint light upon the sleeping street-boy. This is Green's more realistic interpretation of the Household Edition illustration by Fred Barnard, "You speak to me of what is lying here," the Phantom interposed.

The Passage Illustrated

Within, the Chemist's room was indistinct and murky, by the light of the expiring lamp; a ghostly silence had succeeded to the knocking and the voice outside; nothing was audible but, now and then, a low sound among the whitened ashes of the fire, as of its yielding up its last breath. Before it on the ground the boy lay fast asleep. In his chair, the Chemist sat, as he had sat there since the calling at his door had ceased — like a man turned to stone. [118-119]

His memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble, had not come back to him; he knew that it was not restored; he had no passing belief or hope that it was. But some dumb stir within him made him capable, again, of being moved by what was hidden, afar off, in the music. If it were only that it told him sorrowfully the value of what he had lost, he thanked Heaven for it with a fervent gratitude.

As the last chord died upon his ear, he raised his head to listen to its lingering vibration. Beyond the boy, so that his sleeping figure lay at its feet, the Phantom stood, immovable and silent, with its eyes upon him.

Ghastly it was, as it had ever been, but not so cruel and relentless in its aspect — or he thought or hoped so, as he looked upon it trembling. It was not alone, but in its shadowy hand it held another hand.

And whose was that? Was the form that stood beside it indeed Milly's, or but her shade and picture? The quiet head was bent a little, as her manner was, and her eyes were looking down, as if in pity, on the sleeping child. A radiant light fell on her face, but did not touch the Phantom; for, though close beside her, it was dark and colourless as ever. ["Chapter Three: The Gift Reversed," Pears Centenary Edition, p. 119-121]

Commentary

Although the seventies illustrators of the British and American Household Editions of The Christmas Books, Fred Barnard and E. A. Abbey, offered fresh ideas and realised situations that their predecessors had not, Charles Green for the 1912 Pears Centenary Edition of The Haunted Man is still responding here directly to the text than to the 1848 illustrations by the team of illustrators led by John Leech. Indeed, one might argue that he is filling a gap in the original series by depicting Milly as a spirit of love, in contrast to the baleful Phantom who has thus far dogged Redlaw's steps with ill-effect upon almost any whom he encounters, the exceptions being the savage street-boy and the beatific Mrs. William.

Although previous illustrators have depicted Milly Swidger, the "Angel in the House" whose beneficent influence counteracts the dreadful "gift" of Redlaw's Phantom or baneful double, in juxtaposition with such figures as the poor student, "Denham," in Frank Stone's Milly and the Student and Milly and the Children of the Tetterby family in the penultimate illustration in the original novella, Green is bent on updating and refining the original conception of the character, previously depicting as kind butvery human, and now making her an aetherial presence in the darkness of Redlaw'srooms that reflects the darkness of his spirit.

Relevant Illustrations from Various Editions, 1848 through 1910

Frank Stone's elegant realisation of Milly's saintly nature, Milly and the Children; centre, Fred Barnard's melodramatic illustration of the scene at the opening of the third chapter, "You speak to me of what is lying here," the Phantom interposed; right, Harry Furniss's angular beauty ministering to the sick student in Milly (1910) is not a particularly angelic type. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

References

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man; or, The Ghost's Bargain. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.

___. The Haunted Man. Illustrated by John Leech, Frank Stone, John Tenniel, and Clarkson Stanfield. (1848). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978. Vol. 2, p. 235-362, 365-366.

___. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. A Fancy for Christmas Time. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

___. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

___. Christmas Books, illustrated by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.

___. Christmas Books, illustrated by A. A. Dixon. London & Glasgow: Collins' Clear-Type Press, 1906.

___. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910.

___. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.

___. The Haunted Man. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Felix Octavius Carr Darley. The Household Edition. New York: James G. Gregory, 1861. Vol. 2, 155-300.


Last modified 5 September 2015