Redlaw with his Sister on Christmas Morning by Charles Green. 1912. 11 x 14.6 cm, exclusive of frame. Dickens' 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 the recollection of Redlaw as a student was visited the library of the old college by his sister, a moment narrated not by the professor (who has lost the capacity to remember either pleasant or unpleasant experiences) but by Philip Swidger: "I recollect, as I was stirring up the blaze for the young lady to warm her pretty feet by" (p. 146, quoted from the following page). The full-page lithograph is hardly the recollection of a jolly, communal moment such as that in John Leech's Mr. Fezziwig's Ball (1843). The plate and its caption, moreover, require a careful reading of the accompanying text to establish the context and underlying meaning of Philip Swidger's recollection, which constitutes the text's only visual flashback.

The Passage Illustrated

"I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Philip, "but didn't know you were here, sir, or should have made less free. It reminds me, Mr. Redlaw, seeing you here on a Christmas morning, of the time when you was a student yourself, and worked so hard that you were backwards and forwards in our Library even at Christmas time. Ha! ha! I'm old enough to remember that; and I remember it right well, I do, though I am eighty-seven. It was after you left here that my poor wife died. You remember my poor wife, Mr. Redlaw?"

The Chemist answered yes.

"Yes," said the old man. "She was a dear creetur. — I recollect you come here one Christmas morning with a young lady — I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw, but I think it was a sister you was very much attached to?"

The Chemist looked at him, and shook his head. "I had a sister," he said vacantly. He knew no more.

"One Christmas morning," pursued the old man, "that you come here with her — and it began to snow, and my wife invited the lady to walk in, and sit by the fire that is always a burning on Christmas Day in what used to be, before our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our great Dinner Hall. I was there; and I recollect, as I was stirring up the blaze for the young lady to warm her pretty feet by, she read the scroll out loud, that is underneath that pictur, 'Lord, keep my memory green!' She and my poor wife fell a talking about it; and it's a strange thing to think of, now, that they both said (both being so unlike to die) that it was a good prayer, and that it was one they would put up very earnestly, if they were called away young, with reference to those who were dearest to them. 'My brother,' says the young lady — 'My husband,' says my poor wife. — 'Lord, keep his memory of me, green, and do not let me be forgotten!'" ["Chapter Three: The Gift Reversed," Pears Centenary Edition, p. 145-147]

Commentary

Although the seventies illustrators of the British and American Household Edition volumes of The Christmas Books, Fred Barnard and E. A. Abbey, despite the limited programs of illustration 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 fully thirty-one illustrations to complete, he decided to fill the gaps in the original series by depicting one of Redlaw's dearest recollections (all now lost to him as a result of the Phantom's dubious "gift"), namely his having been visited, like young Master Scrooge, by his much-loved sister at Christmas time — the narrator here being old Philip, whose memory (thanks to the benign influence of Milly) is quite unimpaired. In this antepenultimate illustration in his extended sequence for the novella, Green fills in a minor but emotionally significant moment, when, in memory, Philip Swidger takes Redlaw back to his own days as a student in the old college, when both Philip's wife and Redlaw's young sister were still alive, and jointly remarked upon the motto underneath the portrait of the college's founder in "Lord, keep my Memory Green!".

Whereas Fred Barnard had dealt with portrait itself in his final illustration for the Household Edition of 1878, improving upon the model provided him by Clarkson Stanfield, The Christmas Dinner in the Great Hall, which has the motto in a scroll across the bottom of the architectural scene, Green has attempted to underscore the motto (which, in its various ramifications, is Dickens's explicit statement of the novella's theme) by placing the tenth and final full-page illustration (the largest of the thirty-one illustrations) against the oldest character's enunciation of the motto, which occurs again underneath the ultimate illustration in theseries of thirty-one. In the flashback, Redlaw and his sister wear the fashions of the Regency, and old Philip is middle-aged, so that the scene would appear to be some two decades earlier. Signalling through the image the restoration of memories both painful and pleasant, Green gives the reader a convincing image not only of these figures but of the college's library, with its seventeenth-century paneling, sideboard, and fireplace.

Relevant Illustrations from Various Editions, 1848 through 1910

Left: Clarkson Stanfield's tranquil realisation of the final scene, The Christmas Dinner in the Great Hall. Right: Fred Barnard's interpretation of the final moment of the story, the portrait of the college's founder, "Lord, keep my Memory Green!" (1878) [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.


Created 14 September 2015