Trotty and Sir Joseph Bowley's Porter by Charles Green (p. 54). 1912. 7.6 x 9.6 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). Specifically, Trotty and Sir Joseph Bowley's Porter has a caption that is different from the title in the "List of Illustrations"; the textual quotation that serves as the caption for this illustration of Trotty's meeting Sir Joseph Bowley's haughty porter (who, in the dream-vision, marries Mrs. Chickenstalker, and, as her landlord, turns Meggy out for failure to pay her rent) is "'You're to take it in yourself,' said the Porter, pointing to a room at the end of a long passage, opening from the hall" ("Second Quarter," p. 54 — the passage realised is immediately to the right of the illustration, on page 55). The equivalent illustration in the 1844 first edition of the novella is John Leech's innovative rendering of two scenes in one, Sir Joseph Bowley's ("Second Quarter," p. 55).

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Passage Illustrated

[Trotty's commission took him] To the mansion of Sir Joseph Bowley, Member of Parliament.

The door was opened by a Porter. Such a Porter! Not of Toby's order. Quite another thing. His place was the ticket though; not Toby's.

This Porter underwent some hard panting before he could speak; having breathed himself by coming incautiously out of his chair, without first taking time to think about it and compose his mind. When he had found his voice — which it took him a long time to do, for it was a long way off, and hidden under a load of meat — he said in a fat whisper,

"Who's it from?"

Toby told him.

"You're to take it in, yourself," said the Porter, pointing to a room at the end of a long passage, opening from the hall. "Everything goes straight in, on this day of the year. You're not a bit too soon; for the carriage is at the door now, and they have only come to town for a couple of hours, a' purpose."

Toby wiped his feet (which were quite dry already) with great care, and took the way pointed out to him; observing as he went that it was an awfully grand house, but hushed and covered up, as if the family were in the country.

         ["Second Quarter," p. 55, 1912 edition]

Commentary

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 John Leech, but has the following title in the "List of Illustrations": Sir Joseph Bowley's ("Second Quarter," p. 55). Even compared to Barnard's Tugby, Green's characters are far more realistically drawn than those of his predecessors, with normal rather than distorted faces and postures and an almost photographic finish possible with lithography at the turn of the century.

Although the scene in Green is an elaboration of the original Leech scene, the Punch cartoonist introduced the kind of innovation that Harry Furniss, a pioneer film-maker as well as a thorough Dickensian, introduced in Christmas Books volume in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910): Leech in Sir Joseph Bowley's depicts both Trotty's exiting the outer hall, presided over by his porter, Tugby. and Trotty's audience in the library with Sir Joseph Bowley, Lady Bowley, and their accountant, Mr. Fish. The equivalent scene in Furniss's program, in which Bowley resembles a Daumier capitalist, is Trotty before Sir Joseph, which is more realistic and yet theatrical. Neither the Green nor the Furniss version of this encounter matches the complexity of the original edition's wood engraving dropped into the letterpress. The "illogical movement of time associated with the fairy tale" (Solberg 103) is well exemplified by the dual scene in Leech's Sir Joseph Bowley's, in which we see simultaneously Trotty, having passed the drowsy porter, about to enter Sir Joseph's library from the foyer (below) and Trotty presenting Alderman Cute's letter (above). In other words, bending the dimension of time, John Leech shows two related scenes to convey the protagonist's experiences at the Tory MP's townhouse.

Although Green does not introduce Tugby as a reflection of his master, Sir Joseph, he does dispose of the figures in a three-dimensional space far more effectively than Leech, cutting directly to Sir Joseph's ancestral library, as suggested by the book-lined shelves behind Sir Joseph, and the twin urns and family portrait above the fireplace, immediately above Mr. Fish, who listening with rapt attention to Sir Joseph, quill raised above the paper. In total, Green has taken the cartoon-like constituents provided by Leech and transformed into two naturalistic scenes with believable properties such as the porter's baise-lined seat in the vestibule, rather than the distorted figure of Leech or the caricatures of Barnard and Furniss.

Whereas in A Christmas Carol a year earlier Dickens had focussed on Scrooge's attitudes as hostile to the welfare of the working class, in The Chimes he details particular members of the political establishment (urban Tory, Alderman Cute, landed aristocrat Sir Joseph, and the statistician Filer, for example) as conspiring against such upstarts of labour as Will Fern. Although the original book's illustrations delineate effectively all these pasteboard villains, the later illustrators except Green either miss Sir Joseph (as is the in the two illustrations by E. A. Abbey for the American Household Edition of 1876) or Alderman Cute (as is the case with Fred Barnard), thereby reducing the original work's social criticism by omitting the down-and-out Richard, and even (with the exception of Barnard) the "fallen" Lilian and the incendiary Will Fern, a poor Dorset labourer who becomes a rick-burner and agitator. Green is able to accomplish his visualisation of the negative figures in the story without resorting to either caricature or hyperbole or physical distortion.

Illustrations from the first edition (1844), the British Household Edition (1878), and Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)

Left: John Leech's juxtaposing of the haughty porter and the pompous master of Bowley Hall, Sir Joseph Bowley's. Right: Fred Barnard's The Poor Man's Friend, a study of the self-centred, pontificating Sir Joseph and his fashionably dressed, vacuous wife. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Harry Furniss's study of Trotty's meeting the self-centred Sir Joseph and a rather overdressed, late Victorian, middle-aged Lady Bowley with lorgnette, Trotty before Sir Joseph. [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. 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. (1844). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Hardmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978. Pp. 137-252.

Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books​. Illustrated by​ Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.

Dickens, Charles. 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.

Solberg, Sarah A. "'Text Dropped into the Woodcuts': Dickens' Christmas Books." Dickens Studies Annual 8 (1980): 103-118.

Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

Welsh, Alexander. "Time and the City in The Chimes." Dickensian 73, 1 (January 1977): 8-17.


Last modified 7 April 2015