The Student and his Youthful Choice
9.1 x 7.5 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 157.
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Then, the student entered, leading by the hand a lovely girl, who was afraid to come. And Redlaw so changed towards him, seeing in him and his youthful choice, the softened shadow of that chastening passage in his own life, to which, as to a shady tree, the dove so long imprisoned in his solitary ark might fly for rest and company, fell upon his neck, entreating them to be his children. ["Stave Three: The Gift Reversed," p. 156]
The title in the index, The Student and his Youthful Choice, is far less informative than the caption immediately below the illustration, for the quotation points directly towards the moment realised: "Then, the student entered, leading by the hand a lovely girl, who was afraid to come" (157, quoted from the bottom of p. 156). The bare caption does not reveal, however, the complicated situation involving multiple acts of forgiveness and reconciliation in a tangled plot of thwarted romance, blighted hopes, and abandonment:
Milly restores the good feeling in her family and reunites Redlaw with Mr. Longford, who many years before had wronged Redlaw by jilting his sister [depicted in the flashback illustration immediately prior to this] and stealing his fiancée. Now a penitent, Longford has returned to seek Redlaw's forgiveness and that of Edmund, the son that he abandoned. Edmund is also reunited with his fiancée, reminding Redlaw of his own love many years before. In the end all are brought together in the old College hall, where they celebraste dinner beneath the portrait of the college founder. [Davis 176]
What complicates the arrival of the poor student, now reasonably recovered from his indisposition, is that Redlaw is conflicted about his feelings for the poor student since "Denham" is in fact the son of Longford, the man who stole the woman with whom Redlaw was in love and, moreover, the man who jilted Redlaw's beloved sister. Although Redlaw continues to believe that he has entirely forgotten his past grievances and heartaches, the reader is not entirely convinced in earlier scenes at Denham's rooms that Redlaw's attitude to "Denham" (that is, Longford's son attending the college under an assumed name) is not conditioned by his sense of having been wronged by the student's parents. Since the resolution of so many issues coming in the one scene is highly melodramatic, verging on the Sensational, Green has decided to focus upon the most probable, the fiancée's checking on the state of the student. Green effectively suggests the young woman's tentativeness by her expression and pose as young Longford knocks upon the library door, seeking admission. One might argue that, for a "poor" student, he is remarkably well dressed, but at leasat he bears the same face and figure as the student in the second chapter, "The Gift Bestowed." Indeed, this is now his fourth appearance in the series, implying that Redlaw cannot return to himself until he has recognized that his attitude towards the young man has been unreasonable.
Green appears not to have attended much to the original series of illustrations as his Redlaw and young Longford do not much resemble these characters as drawn by Frank Stone, John Leech, and John Tenniel — or perhaps he was striving for a consistency that the original team of illustrators with very different individual styles failed to deliver. Whereas Green has an eye for female beauty which he communicates effectively here, the original illustrators and the Household Edition illustrators of the 1870s, E. A. Abbey and Fred Barnard were not much interested in any of the female characters except Milly Swidger, whom only Frank Stone made appealing. In contrast, Green has emphasized the importance of such figures as Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby, and has female characters appearing in half of his illustrations.
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.]
Cohen, Jane Rabb. "The Illustrators of the Christmas Books, John Leech."Charles Dickens and His original Illustrators. Columbus: University of Ohio Press, 1981. Pp. 141-151.
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 12 September 2015