Meg and Lilian by Charles Green (p. 73). 1912. 7.5 x 9.9 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, Meg and Lilian 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 Meg's looking after the child's cold feet is "While Meg, seating the child in a warm corner, knelt down on the ground before her, and pulled off her shoes, and dried her wet feet on a cloth" ("Second Quarter," p. 73 — the passage realised is immediately to the left of the illustration, on page 72).

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.]

Passage Illustrated

"Why, she's as light," said Trotty, trotting in his speech as well as in his gait; for he couldn't bear to be thanked, and dreaded a moment's pause; "as light as a feather. Lighter than a Peacock's feather — a great deal lighter. Here we are and here we go! Round this first turning to the right, Uncle Will, and past the pump, and sharp off up the passage to the left, right opposite the public-house. Here we are and here we go! Cross over, Uncle Will, and mind the kidney pieman at the corner! Here we are and here we go! Down the Mews here, Uncle Will, and stop at the black door, with 'T. Veck, Ticket Porter,' wrote upon a board; and here we are and here we go, and here we are indeed, my precious Meg, surprising you!"

With which words Trotty, in a breathless state, set the child down before his daughter in the middle of the floor. The little visitor looked once at Meg; and doubting nothing in that face, but trusting everything she saw there; ran into her arms.

"Here we are and here we go!" cried Trotty, running round the room, and choking audibly. "Here, Uncle Will, here's a fire you know! Why don't you come to the fire? Oh here we are and here we go! Meg, my precious darling, where's the kettle? Here it is and here it goes, and it'll bile in no time!"

Trotty really had picked up the kettle somewhere or other in the course of his wild career and now put it on the fire: while Meg, seating the child in a warm corner, knelt down on the ground before her, and pulled off her shoes, and dried her wet feet on a cloth. Ay, and she laughed at Trotty too — so pleasantly, so cheerfully, that Trotty could have blessed her where she kneeled; for he had seen that, when they entered, she was sitting by the fire in tears.

         ["Second Quarter," p. 72-73, 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 exact parallel for this illustration of Lilian's reception by Meg; however, Daniel Maclise's picture of Will and Lilian as Trotty's guests in his modest accommodation, Trotty at Home ("Second Quarter," p. 49) in the original sequence depicts a passage shortly afterward. Dickens develops the relationship between Meg and Lilian in Trotty's dream-vision, so that Green here is laying the groundwork for the future relationship between the middle-aged seamstress and the young prostitute in this scene.

The illustration in the 1844 first edition of the novella that captures something of the initial meeting of adolescent Meg and the child Lilian is Daniel Maclise's scene dropped into the text at the beginning of "The Second Quarter," Trotty at Home ("Second Quarter," p. 49), in which Trotty is seated by the table (left) and Meg and will are looking after Lilian (right), while the Spirits of the Bells occupy the clouds above the humble kitchen scene. The artist's intention seems to have been to emphasize Trotty and his daughter's serving as good Samaritans to the two poor travellers; despite their inferior social status, Trotty and Meg are capable of great acts of charity and loving kindness towards total strangers, disproving the elitist notion that the working class are "born bad," and are therefore incapable of acting selflessly.

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

Left: Daniel Maclise's scene of Trotty entertaining the two travellers from Dorset, Trotty at Home. Right: Harry Furniss's study of​ Trotty's dreaming a happy ending for his daughter, Trotty's Dream. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Fred Barnard's 1878 wood-engraving of Will's denouncing Sir Joseph and his guests, "Whither thou goest, I can Not go; where thou lodgest, I do Not lodge; thy people are Not my people; Nor thy God my God!" [Click on images to enlarge them.]

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