Alderman Cute and the Heir to Bowley
7.5 x 5.4 cm. vignetted
Dickens's The Chimes, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol. 2, page 98.
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"Which quite reminds me," said Alderman Cute, "of the days of old King Hal, stout King Hal, bluff King Hal. Ah! Fine character!"
"Very," said Mr. Filer, dryly. "For marrying women and murdering 'em. Considerably more than the average number of wives by the bye."
"You'll marry the beautiful ladies, and not murder 'em, eh?" said Alderman Cute to the heir of Bowley, aged twelve. "Sweet boy! We shall have this little gentleman in Parliament now," said the Alderman, holding him by the shoulders, and looking as reflective as he could, 'before we know where we are. We shall hear of his successes at the poll; his speeches in the House; his overtures from Governments; his brilliant achievements of all kinds; ah! we shall make our little orations about him in the Common Council, I'll be bound; before we have time to look about us!"
"Oh, the difference of shoes and stockings!" Trotty thought. But his heart yearned towards the child, for the love of those same shoeless and stockingless boys, predestined (by the Alderman) to turn out bad, who might have been the children of poor Meg.
["Third Quarter," p. 98, 1912 edition]
Neither The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang An Old Year Out and a New Year In (1844) nor any of the later editions except Green's provides an equivalent for this illustration of Alderman Cute's outlining the twelve-year-old's inevitable political career, succeeding his father in Parliament — despite the initiatives of the 1832 Reform Bill pushing Great Britain towards representative parliamentary democracy, wealth and influence still saw the preponderance of seats in the Commons going to the economically and socially "entitled." Contemporary Conservative critics labelled The Chimes "Chartist" because Dickens in this novella seems to be advocating liberalized electoral reforms (including pay for parliamentarians and universal suffrage) that would have opened the political arena to those not born to wealth and privilege. In the passage which Green's illustration underscores Dickens is apparently supporting the third of the Chartists' six points in the petition they presented to Parliament in 1839: "abolition of the requirement that Members of Parliament be property owners."
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 byHarry 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.
Last modified 7 April 2015