Johnny Tetterby Rises Against the Baby
10.5 x 7.6 cm, exclusive of frame
Dickens's The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain. A Fancy for Christmas Time, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol.5, page 128.
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The tempers of the little Tetterbys had sadly changed with a few hours. Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby themselves were not more altered than their offspring. Usually they were an unselfish, good-natured, yielding little race, sharing short commons when it happened (which was pretty often) contentedly and even generously, and taking a great deal of enjoyment out of a very little meat. But they were fighting now, not only for the soap and water, but even for the breakfast which was yet in perspective. The hand of every little Tetterby was against the other little Tetterbys; and even Johnny's hand — the patient, much-enduring, and devoted Johnny — rose against the baby! Yes, Mrs. Tetterby, going to the door by mere accident, saw him viciously pick out a weak place in the suit of armour where a slap would tell, and slap that blessed child.
Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in that same flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury thereto.
"You brute, you murdering little boy," said Mrs. Tetterby. "Had you the heart to do it?"
"Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted Johnny, in a loud rebellious voice, "instead of bothering me? How would you like it yourself?" [Chapter Three: "The Gift Reversed," p. 127-129]
The caption immediately below the illustration points directly towards the moment realised: "Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in that same flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury thereto" (p. 128, quoted verbatim from the top of p. 129). The bare caption does not reveal, however, the full situation, that, Mrs.Tetterbys' treatment of Johnny is not wholly unmerited when one considers the boy's mistreatment of his infant sister, even though he has just been staggering about in the street under the weight of baby and her wrappings while his father takes down the shop's shutters. Whereas Leech depicts this initial situation with cartoon-like humour and some detail, showing the shop front and Johnny both, as well as Mr. Tetterby, Harry Furniss's The Tetterbys' Baby, depicts the child abuse that results from Mrs. Tetterby's loss of compassion and tender memories as a consequence of exposure to Redlaw's Phantom. Thus, as a realist Charles Green has opted for a prosaic scene which is neither, in the Leech manner, amusing, nor, in the Furniss manner, dramatic. Green's treatment suggests that the maternal reprimand is accompanied by a firm grip on the boy's shoulder, but Green is, once again, not prone to Furniss's emotional excess and caricature. She is reasonable in her reprimand and Johnny a little disconcerted, but hardly vehement — in contradiction of Dickens's description. Of the situation thus described and somewhat differently depicted, in the "Introduction" editor Clement Shorter remarks,
The boon is a curse, for recollections of unhappiness and ill-will are accompanied by memories of happiness and generous kindness. Redlaw and his associates all suffer alike. The delightful Tetterby family, usually so united, quarrel when he approaches; so do the other nice people of his environment. [Page 10]
Relevant Illustrations from the 1848 and 1910 Editions
Left: John Leech's cartoon-like study of Augustus Tetterby, Johnny, and "Moloch" in the street, Johnny and Moloch (1848). Right: Harry Furniss's realisation of Mrs. Tetterby's harsh treatment of Johnny, The Tetterbys' Baby (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
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 7 September 2015