The Spirits of the Bells by Charles Green (p. 87). 1912. 8.8 x 11.2 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 Spirits 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 the dour sages that Trotty sees in the bell tower of the old church is "Then . . . did Trotty see in every Bell a bearde figure of the bulk and stature of the Bell" ("Third Quarter," p. 87 — the passage realised is at the bottom of the previous page). The equivalent illustration in the 1844 first edition of the novella is Daniel Maclise's ornate frontispiece, The Tower of the Chimes, in which Trotty is absent, and animated goblins rather than grave, elderly, bearded Spirits of the Bells inhabit the bell tower in great numbers. A notable aspect of Green's interpretation is the fidelity of the image to Dickens's description of the august supernatural agents whom Trotty sees.

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

Then and not before, did Trotty see in every Bell a bearded figure of the bulk and stature of the Bell — incomprehensibly, a figure and the Bell itself. Gigantic, grave, and darkly watchful of him, as he stood rooted to the ground.

Mysterious and awful figures! Resting on nothing; poised in the night air of the tower, with their draped and hooded heads merged in the dim roof; motionless and shadowy. Shadowy and dark, although he saw them by some light belonging to themselves — none else was there — each with its muffled hand upon its goblin mouth.

         ["Third Quarter," p. 86, 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 show 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