"Milly Puts Everything to Rights once more by Charles Green. 1912. 7.6 x 10 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 how Milly is welcomed by her husband and father-in-law after she corrected the problems created by Redlaw's Phantom for the poor student, Swidgers, and Tetterbys, "Pleased to see her! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran into her husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her" (p. 143, quoted from the bottom of the next page). The illustration and its caption, however, fail to communicate how Milly represents "the wisdom of the heart," which the story shows is stronger than the wisdom of the head.

The Passage Illustrated

[Redlaw] was conscious that, as he redeemed, through Milly, more and more of the evil he had done, and as he was more and more with her, this change ripened itself within him. Therefore, and because of the attachment she inspired him with (but without other hope), he felt that he was quite dependent on her, and that she was his staff in his affliction.

So, when she asked him whether they should go home now, to where the old man and her husband were, and he readily replied "yes" — being anxious in that regard — he put his arm through hers, and walked beside her; not as if he were the wise and learned man to whom the wonders of Nature were an open book, and hers were the uninstructed mind, but as if their two positions were reversed, and he knew nothing, and she all.

He saw the children throng about her, and caress her, as he and she went away together thus, out of the house; he heard the ringing of their laughter, and their merry voices; he saw their bright faces, clustering around him like flowers; he witnessed the renewed contentment and affection of their parents; he breathed the simple air of their poor home, restored to its tranquillity; he thought of the unwholesome blight he had shed upon it, and might, but for her, have been diffusing then; and perhaps it is no wonder that he walked submissively beside her, and drew her gentle bosom nearer to his own.

When they arrived at the Lodge, the old man was sitting in his chair in the chimney-corner, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and his son was leaning against the opposite side of the fire-place, looking at him. As she came in at the door, both started, and turned round towards her, and a radiant change came upon their faces.

"Oh dear, dear, dear, they are all pleased to see me like the rest!" cried Milly, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, and stopping short. "Here are two more!"

Pleased to see her! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran into her husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her, and he would have been glad to have her there, with her head lying on his shoulder, through the short winter's day. But the old man couldn't spare her. He had arms for her, too, and he locked her in them. ["Chapter Three: The Gift Reversed," Pears Centenary Edition, p. 143-44]

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, with some thirty illustrations to complete, he decided to fill the gaps in the original series by depicting Milly as both 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, and an actual young woman married to William Swidger, the butler of the old college.

Previous illustrators have depicted heroine of the last stage of the story, Milly Swidger, as the "Angel in the House" whose beneficent influence ultimately 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 his extended sequence for the novella, Green is bent on updating and refining the original conception of the character, previously depicting her as kind but very human, then a spirit of the benevolent effects of memory, and finally, once again, as a tender-hearted young wife. Whereas Fred Barnard had dealt with this scene in his Household Edition illustrations, he had made the equivalent wood-engraving a sentimental, catch-line scene between William and his aged father, Philip, totally excluding the benign spirit who has corrected all the problems caused by the Phantom. In Green's somewhat "staged" illustration, he restores Milly to a central place in the action as she and her jocular husband William, butler of the Old College, hold centre stage. In contrast to Barnard, Green deliberately marginalizes old Philip in his armchair (left), and keeps the black-caped figure of Professor Redlaw, right, well in the background. The composition of the lithograph appears to have been inspired by a stage production; however, the only production that this London artist could possibly have seen occurred over thirty years earlier, at the Adelphi in August, 1873. This is plausible as an influence, however, as Charles Green, born in 1840, would have been only thirty-three at the time; that he died in May 1898 suggests that he prepared the entire sequence of illustrations for The Christmas Books earlier in the decade, even though Pears issued only his Carol illustrations in its Christmas annual during his lifetime (1892).

Relevant Illustrations from Various Editions, 1848 through 1910

Left: Frank Stone's elegant realisation of Milly's saintly nature, Milly and the Children. Centre: Fred Barnard's sentimental-comedic interpretation of the scene that ensues when Milly returns, "What a wonderful man you are, Father! — And how are you, Father? Are you really pretty hearty, though?" said William, shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and rubbing him gently down again. Right: Harry Furniss's angular beauty ministering to the sick student in Milly (1910) is not a particularly spiritual 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. A Christmas Carol. With 27 illustrations by Charles Green, R. I. Pears' Christmas Annual. London: A & F Pears, 1892.

____. A Christmas Carol. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

____. 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 9 September 2015