Trotty in the Bell Chamber by Charles Green (p. 81). 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, Trotty in the Bell Chamber has a lengthy 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 losing consciousness in the bell tower of the old church is "Giddy, confused, and out of breath, and frightened, Toby looked about him vacantly, and sunk down in a swoon" ("Second Quarter," p. 81 — the passage realised is over the page, as the last line of the capter, on page 82). The equivalent illustration in the 1844 first edition of the novella is Richard Doyle's scene dropped into the text at the beginning of "The Third Quarter," Trotty Veck among the Bells ("Third Quarter," p. 92), in which the protagonist is both mesmerized and traumatized by the visions shown him by the Spirits of the Bells. Notably absent from Green's interpretation is any suggestion of the supernatural. the gloomy chamber is filled with the great wheels that control the swinging of the bells, two of which are evident at the crossing of the beams in the shadows. Thus, the artist realistically lays the groundwork for the final revelation that most of the next two "Quarters" are nothing but a dream, in contrast to the rather more fanciful interpretations of the original team of artists, E. A. Abbey, and Harry Furniss.

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

Still up, up, up; and round and round; and up, up, up; higher, higher, higher up!

At length, the dull and stifling atmosphere began to freshen: presently to feel quite windy: presently it blew so strong, that he could hardly keep his legs. But, he got to an arched window in the tower, breast high, and holding tight, looked down upon the house-tops, on the smoking chimneys, on the blur and blotch of lights (towards the place where Meg was wondering where he was and calling to him perhaps), all kneaded up together in a leaven of mist and darkness.

This was the belfry, where the ringers came. He had caught hold of one of the frayed ropes which hung down through apertures in the oaken roof. At first he started, thinking it was hair; then trembled at the very thought of waking the deep Bell. The Bells themselves were higher. Higher, Trotty, in his fascination, or in working out the spell upon him, groped his way. By ladders now, and toilsomely, for it was steep, and not too certain holding for the feet.

Up, up, up; and climb and clamber; up, up, up; higher, higher, higher up!

Until, ascending through the floor, and pausing with his head just raised above its beams, he came among the Bells. It was barely possible to make out their great shapes in the gloom; but there they were. Shadowy, and dark, and dumb.

A heavy sense of dread and loneliness fell instantly upon him, as he climbed into this airy nest of stone and metal. His head went round and round. He listened, and then raised a wild "Holloa!"

Holloa! was mournfully protracted by the echoes.

Giddy, confused, and out of breath, and frightened, Toby looked about him vacantly, and sunk down in a swoon.

         ["Second Quarter," p. 82, 1912 edition]

Illustrations from the first edition (1844), the American Household Edition (1876), and the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)

Left: Clarkson Stanfield's scene of Trotty entering the doorway of the Old Church, with the lantern of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West above, The Old Church. Right: Harry Furniss's study of​ Trotty's confronting the goblins of the bells, Trotty in the Belfry. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: E. A. Abbey's 1876 wood-engraving of Trotty's encountering the terrifying supernatural dimension of the bell tower, What Trotty saw in the Belfry. [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