Trotty and his Daughter
7.5 x 5 cm vignetted
Dickens's The Chimes, The Pears' Centenary Edition, page 30.
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Trotty was going to lift up the cover at once, in a great hurry, when she gaily interposed her hand.
"No, no, no," said Meg, with the glee of a child. "Lengthen it out a little. Let me just lift up the corner; just the lit-tle ti-ny cor-ner, you know," said Meg, suiting the action to the word with the utmost gentleness, and speaking very softly, as if she were afraid of being overheard by something inside the basket; "there. Now. What's that?"
Toby took the shortest possible sniff at the edge of the basket, and cried out in a rapture:
"Why, it's hot!"
"It's burning hot!" cried Meg. "Ha, ha, ha! It's scalding hot!"
"Ha, ha, ha!" roared Toby, with a sort of kick. "It's scalding hot!"
"But what is it, father?" said Meg. "Come. You haven't guessed what it is. And you must guess what it is. I can't think of taking it out, till you guess what it is. Don't be in such a hurry! Wait a minute! A little bit more of the cover. Now guess!"
Meg was in a perfect fright lest he should guess right too soon; shrinking away, as she held the basket towards him; curling up her pretty shoulders; stopping her ear with her hand, as if by so doing she could keep the right word out of Toby's lips; and laughing softly the whole time.
Meanwhile Toby, putting a hand on each knee, bent down his nose to the basket, and took a long inspiration at the lid; the grin upon his withered face expanding in the process, as if he were inhaling laughing gas.
"Ah! It's very nice," said Toby. "It an't I suppose it an't Polonies?"
"No, no, no!" cried Meg, delighted. "Nothing like Polonies!"
"No," said Toby, after another sniff. "It's it's mellower than Polonies. It's very nice. It improves every moment. It's too decided for Trotters. An't it?"
Meg was in an ecstasy. He could not have gone wider of the mark than Trotters except Polonies.
"Liver?" said Toby, communing with himself. "No. There's a mildness about it that don't answer to liver. Pettitoes? No. It an't faint enough for pettitoes. It wants the stringiness of Cocks' heads. And I know it an't sausages. I'll tell you what it is. It's chitterlings!"
"No, it an't!" cried Meg, in a burst of delight. "No, it an't!"
"Why, what am I a-thinking of?" said Toby, suddenly recovering a position as near the perpendicular as it was possible for him to assume. "I shall forget my own name next. It's tripe!"
Tripe it was; and Meg, in high joy, protested he should say, in half a minute more, it was the best tripe ever stewed.
["First Quarter," p. 29-30, 1912 edition]
Charles Green, one of the original Household Edition illustrators for Chapman and Hall — his commission was new wood-engravings for The Old Curiosity Shop (1876), had undoubtedly studied the limited program of wood-engravings that Fred Barnard executed in 1878 for The Christmas Books, but probably did not see the pair of illustrations that Edwin Austin Abbey provided in the American Household Edition volume published by Harper and Brothers in 1876. Whereas the 1844 volume contains thirteen wood-engravings, many dropped into the letterpress, Charles Green almost seventy years later had a much more extensive commission, thirty lithographs. Despite the length of the program, Green actually duplicates several scenes and focuses on the figures of Trotty and his daughter, who is rather more mature and somewhat plainer than her counterpart in the original 1844 series — and Green's Trotty is less caricatural and less threadbare.
Like E. A. Abbey in the American Household Edition, Charles Green and Fred Barnard have included those attributes that initially defined Trotty visually: his ticket-porter's apron, wollen mitts, and weather-beaten face. However, Barnard has not been able to convey Trotty's pessimistic appraisal of the working class. However, Abbey does communicate Trotty's doubt about the fairness of his eating tripe, accepting the appraisal of Filer and the other gentlemen in Alderman Cute's entourage. Abbey has included Richard (in cloth cap) and Meg in the background, but offers scant interpretation of their characters, and does not suggest Meg's exceptional beauty — that is, unusual for a young woman of her class. Barnard, however, has succeeded admirably in describing Meg's dusky, "blooming" beauty and buoyant personality. The fineness of the cross-hatching on Trotty's hat contrasts with the more open cross-hatching of his jacket and the sinuous lines of Meg's hair and skirt, their animation suggesting the vigour of the wind that Dickens describes in the opening pages. Cheerful but coarse in aspect and in dress, Trotty is happy in his daughter's company, as she is in his. And in contrast to Leech's somewhat cartoonish ticket porter with spindly arms, oversized head, and wooden gait, Barnard enlists the reader's sympathy for a three-dimensional Trotty who apparently enjoys a close relationship with his beautiful daughter, also very effectively modelled.
In the original thirteen plates of 1844 Trotty Veck appears nine times, but Meg just six times, so that in the work of the four illustrators Trotty provides visual continuity across a diverse program. Among the thirty lithographs of Green's extended program for the 1912 "Centenary" edition, Trotty is again the dominating figure, appearing eleven times; however, Green clearly felt that the fate of the virtuous but common beauty Meggy Veck was a central concern in the narrative, and so included her twelve times, although in the wedding dance Green focuses of Mrs. Chickenstalker and Trotty, and does not include Meg and her huband in the final illustration.
Illustrations from the first edition (1844), and the American (1876) and British Household Edition (1878)
Left: Richard Doyle's juxtaposing of the church lantern and the figures on the steps, The Dinner on the Steps. Right: Fred Barnard's study of Trotty and his beautiful daughter, "No," said Toby after another sniff. "It's — It's mellower than Polonies." [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: E. A. Abbey's 1876 wood-engraving of Trotty's being accosted by Alderman Cute and the statistician, Filer, on the church steps, "What's the matter? What's the matter?" said the gentleman for whom the door was opened." [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Dickens, Charles. The Chimes. Introduction by Clement Shorter. Illustrated by Charles Green. The Pears' Centenary Edition. London: A & F Pears, [?1912].
Dickens, Charles. The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang An Old Year Out and a New Year In. Illustrated by John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield, and Daniel Maclise. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1844.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books. Illustrated byFred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.
_____. Christmas Stories. Illustrated byE. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
Last modified 31 March 2015