The Goblins of the Bells by Charles Green (p. 84). 1912. 7.5 x 9.9 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, The Goblins of the Bells 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 seeing bizarre creatures in the bell tower of the old church is "He saw this goblin sight. He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin creatures of the Bells" ("Third Quarter," p. 84 — the passage realised is on the previous page). 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 Trotty is both mesmerized and traumatized by the visions shown him by the Spirits of the Bells. A notable aspect of Green's interpretation is the sexualised nature of the female sprites, an interpretation based on the illustrations of the 1844 volume rather than Dickens's description of the supernatural creatures emanating from the very realistic bells, so that Green, essentially a realist, is here subscribing to a fantastic visual tradition acknowledged by fellow realist E. A. Abbey and the whimsical Harry Furniss alike.

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Passage Illustrated

So, when and how the darkness of the night-black steeple changed to shining light; when and how the solitary tower was peopled with a myriad figures; when and how the whispered "Haunt and hunt him," breathing monotonously through his sleep or swoon, became a voice exclaiming in the waking ears of Trotty, Break his slumbers"; when and how he ceased to have a sluggish and confused idea that such things were, companioning a host of others that were not; there are no dates or means to tell. But, awake and standing on his feet upon the boards where he had lately lain, he saw this Goblin Sight.

He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin creatures of the Bells. He saw them leaping, flying, dropping, pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw them, round him on the ground; above him, in the air; clambering from him, by the ropes below; looking down upon him, from the massive iron-girded beams; peeping in upon him, through the chinks and loopholes in the walls; spreading away and away from him in enlarging circles, as the water ripples give way to a huge stone that suddenly comes plashing in among them. He saw them, of all aspects and all shapes. He saw them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw them young, he saw them old, he saw them kind, he saw them cruel, he saw them merry, he saw them grim; he saw them dance, and heard them sing; he saw them tear their hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them. He saw them come and go, incessantly. He saw them riding downward, soaring upward, sailing off afar, perching near at hand, all restless and all violently active. Stone, and brick, and slate, and tile, became transparent to him as to them. He saw them in the houses, busy at the sleepers' beds. He saw them soothing people in their dreams; he saw them beating them with knotted whips; he saw them yelling in their ears; he saw them playing softest music on their pillows; he saw them cheering some with the songs of birds and the perfume of flowers; he saw them flashing awful faces on the troubled rest of others, from enchanted mirrors which they carried in their hands.

         ["Third Quarter," p. 83-85, 1912 edition]

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

Left: Richard Doyle's scene of Trotty's despairing about what the goblins how him of the future that will transpire without him, Trotty Veck among the Bells. 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