Sir Joseph Bowley and Lady Bowley, &c. by Charles Green (p. 57). 1912. 11.5 x 14.7 cm. Dickens's The Chimes, Pears Centenary Edition, in which the plates often have captions that are different from the titles in the "List of Illustrations" (p. 15-16). Specifically, Sir Joseph Bowley and Lady Bowley, &c. has a lengthy caption that is quite different from the title in the "List of Illustrations"; the textual quotation that serves as the caption for this illustration of Trotty's delivering Alderman Cute's letter to Sir Joseph Bowley is "'From Alderman Cute, Sir Joseph.' 'Is this all? Have you nothing else, Porter?' inquired Sir Joseph" ("Second Quarter," p. 57 — the passage realised is immediately to the left of the illustration, on page 56). 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), in which Trotty is exiting the vestibule (below) and proffering the letter (above).

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Passage Illustrated

Knocking at the room-door, he was told to enter from within; and doing so found himself in a spacious library, where, at a table strewn with files and papers, were a stately lady in a bonnet; and a not very stately gentleman in black who wrote from her dictation; while another, and an older, and a much statelier gentleman, whose hat and cane were on the table, walked up and down, with one hand in his breast, and looked complacently from time to time at his own picture — a full length; a very full length — hanging over the fireplace.

"What is this?" said the last-named gentleman. "Mr. Fish, will you have the goodness to attend?"

Mr. Fish begged pardon, and taking the letter from Toby, handed it, with great respect.

"From Alderman Cute, Sir Joseph."

"Is this all? Have you nothing else, Porter?" inquired Sir Joseph.

Toby replied in the negative.

"You have no bill or demand upon me — my name is Bowley, Sir Joseph Bowley — of any kind from anybody, have you?" said Sir Joseph. "If you have, present it. There is a cheque-book by the side of Mr. Fish. I allow nothing to be carried into the New Year. Every description of account is settled in this house at the close of the old one. So that if death was to — to — "

"To cut," suggested Mr. Fish.

"To sever, sir," returned Sir Joseph, with great asperity, "the cord of existence — my affairs would be found, I hope, in a state of preparation."

"My dear Sir Joseph!" said the lady, who was greatly younger than the gentleman. "How shocking!"

         ["Second Quarter," p. 56, 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 the character studies of even the later illustrators, Fred Barnard and Harry Furniss, Green's characters and setting 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 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 beneath the portrait of the Great Man (Dickens's lampoon of Whig parliamentarian Lord Brougham) 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, by placing them in the same frame, here in the library scene Green does dispose of the figures in a three-dimensional space far more effectively than Leech in the cramped cartoon reduced almost to a headpiece. As in the text, the scene is in the ancestral library of the peer, as suggested by the book-lined shelves behind Sir Joseph, and the twin urns and personal portrait of Sir Joseph (all that is visible is the peer's elegant legs) above the fireplace. Immediately below the presiding genius in oils, the accountant, Mr. Fish, is listening with rapt attention to Sir Joseph, quill raised above the paper. Beside the accountant is a great pile of bills which Sir Joseph is determined to have executed before the New Year. Lean, diminutive Trotty (left), hat in hand, looks dubiously at the aristocrat holding forth about settling accounts; corpulent yet commanding, Sir Joseph Bowley (right) puts his hand in his waistcoat (Dickens's comment upon the Great Man involves the peer's striking a Napoleonic pose). Young Lady Bowley, fashionably dressed in bonnet and matching fur semicope (apparently dating from the 1850s rather than the 1840s), seems somewhat bored with it all, and stares vacantly before her. In total, Green has taken the cartoon-like constituents provided by Leech and transformed into a naturalistic stage filled with believable and telling properties and characters, rather than offering the sort of caricatures sketched by 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