'Trotty and his Dinner of Tripe" by Charles Green. (p. 35). 1912. 7.2 x 9.7 cm. Dickens's The Chimes, Pears Centenary Edition, in which the plates have often captions that are different from the titles in the "List of Illustrations" (p. 15-16). The textual quotation that serves as the caption for this illustration of Trotty eating his dinner on the steps of the old church is "Trotty made no pause in his attack upon the savoury meal before him" ("First Quarter," p. 34, facing the illustration).

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang An Old Year Out and a New Year In (1844) provides no caption for the equivalent illustration by Richard Doyle, but has the following title in the "List of Illustrations": The Dinner on the Steps ("First Quarter," p. ​1​). Green's Meg is a more noble, intellectual type than her adolescent counterpart in the 1844 series, and the 1912 illustrator has been careful to make both Meg and her father seem more normative to middle-class readers.

Passage Illustrated

While this discourse was holding, Trotty made no pause in his attack upon the savoury meat before him, but cut and ate, and cut and drank, and cut and chewed, and dodged about, from tripe to hot potato, and from hot potato back again to tripe, with an unctuous and unflagging relish. But happening now to look all round the street — in case anybody should be beckoning from any door or window, for a porter — his eyes, in coming back again, encountered Meg: sitting opposite to him, with her arms folded and only busy in watching his progress with a smile of happiness.

"Why, Lord forgive me!" said Trotty, dropping his knife and fork. "My dove! Meg! why didn't you tell me what a beast I was?"

"Father?"

"Sitting here,’ said Trotty, in penitent explanation, "cramming, and stuffing, and gorging myself; and you before me there, never so much as breaking your precious fast, nor wanting to, when —"

"But I have broken it, father," interposed his daughter, laughing, "all to bits. I have had my dinner."

"Nonsense," said Trotty. "Two dinners in one day! It an't possible! You might as well tell me that two New Year's Days will come together, or that I have had a gold head all my life, and never changed it."

"I have had my dinner, father, for all that," said Meg, coming nearer to him. "And if you'll go on with yours, I'll tell you how and where; and how your dinner came to be brought; and — and something else besides."

         ["First Quarter," p. 34-36, 1912 edition]

Commentary

The scene is expansion of the original Doyle scene in that, whereas Doyle has subordinated the figures of father and daughte to the Gothic lantern of the mediaeval edifice in order to contrast the timeless world of the goblins of the bells and the all-too-brief existence of the mortals beneath, Green has focussed entirely upopn the domestic scene. He has captured exactly Meggy Veck's expression of cheerful concern in her dialogue with her father, who seems to be far more concerned with his dinner at this point. Her patterned shawl, respectable dress,and serviceable bonnet are hardly consistent with Trotty's being a poor ticket-porter, and one has little sense that neither father or daughter is suffering from the cold wind blowing vigorously up the street, which must be Fleet Street before the thoroughfare was widened in the 1840s.

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.]

References

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 by​Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.

_____. Christmas Stories​. Illustrated by​ E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.


Last modified 31 March 2015