The Dance on the Eve of Meg's Wedding Day
8.4 x 7.5 cm. vignetted
Dickens's The Chimes, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol. 2, page 147.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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"Oh!" said Trotty. "Please to play up there. Will you have the goodness!"
"To the music of the band, and, the bells, the marrow-bones and cleavers, all at once; and while the Chimes were yet in lusty operation out of doors; Trotty, making Meg and Richard, second couple, led off Mrs. Chickenstalker down the dance, and danced it in a step unknown before or since; founded on his own peculiar trot. ["Fourth Quarter," pp. 146-47, 1912 edition]
Neither The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang An Old Year Out and a New Year In (1844) nor either of the Household Edition volumes has an illustration of just Trotty and Mrs. Chickenstalker (who would seem to be a sort of honorary "Mother of the Bride"), but the original volume has as a full-page wood-engraving dropped into the letterpress of a scene incolving the musicians (rear) and Meg and Richard, as well as Trotty and Mrs. Chickenstalker, dancers. Thus, Green's dual character study of Trotty and a less substantial but more fashionable Mrs. Chickenstalker is rather different from John Leech's final illustration, The New Year's Dance (p. 174).
The caption for this last illustration The Dance on the Eve of Meg's Wedding Day is a quotation drawn from the preceding page: "Trotty led off Mrs. Chickenstalker down the dance, and danced it in a step unknown before or since." The illustration emphasizes the comforting fact that Mrs. Chickenstalker is still a free agent and not married to the odious and dictatorial Tugby after all.
Illustrations from the first edition (1844) and the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
Left: John Leech's scene of Trotty dancing with Mrs. Chickenstalker, The New Year's Dance. Right: Harry Furniss's study of Trotty's seeing his daughter, her fiance, Lilian, and Mrs. Chickenstalker happily dancing in his dream, from which he appears to be awakening, Trotty's Dream. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
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 6 May 2015