15.1 x 11 cm. exclusive of frame
Dickens's A Christmas Carol, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol. 1, frontispiece.
[Click on image to enlarge it and mouse over text for links.]
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.].
The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.
"It's humbug still!" said Scrooge. "I won't believe it."
His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, "I know him; Marley's Ghost!" and fell again.
The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent, so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.
Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now. ["Stave One: Marley's Ghost," p. 33, 1912 edition]
"Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, "I know him; Marley's Ghost!" is a highly suspenseful moment in "Stave One" that has been the subject of illustration ever since the first edition of A Christmas Carol, Being a Ghost Story in Prose (1843). The story of Marley's Ghost begins on the first page in the 1843, but his image does not enter the narrative-pictorial sequence until page 25 with John Leech's hand-tinted illustration entitled Marley's Ghost. In the full-page etching, the reader experiencesthe precise moment on the facing page when the miser, in nightgown and sitting down before his fitful fire to enjoy a bowl of gruel, encounters the ghost of his dead partner.
This, then, is Green's point of departure; he presents both pig-tailed Marley and night-capped Scrooge realistically, catching them in the midst of movement,realizing their clothing with historical precision, and bringing the Ghost well forward in order to emphasize Scrooge's startled reaction. Cleverly, the turn-of-the-century illustrator renders Marley as completely transparent, so that one sees the flaring candle throughthe spectre, who drags his chain of ledgers, keys, and cash-boxes behind him (left). Green's academic and painterly styleis exemplified by his capturing Ebenezer Scrooge in contrapposto as he turns in his stuffed leather easy-chair, his face illuminated by the flaring candle. Gone are caricaturist John Leech's whimsy and Fred Barnard's humour; Green intends the reader to take this Gothic scene seriously, as a miser's confronting his psychological double, the man he himself was seven years earlier. The sheer realism of the 1912 frontispiece, even as it creates anticipation, enforces the suspension of disbelief in a way, for example that the original Leech frontispiece, Mr. Fezziwig's Ball (1844),and that of the 1878 Chapman and HallHousehold Edition, showing Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim coming home from church, do not. Whereas the focus of illustrator A. E. Abbey in the American Household Edition is both recalling to life and health Tiny Tim (title-page vignette) and reminding the reader of the supernatural nature of Scrooge's experiences, as signified by the facing frontispiece Marley's Ghost, Green divides his attention between the ghost story implicit in the frontispiece and the seasonal celebration signified by the carol-singers in his title-page vignette, and the promise of spiritual and physical regeneration, as signified by the holly and mistletoe that frame the angelic child-singers.
Relevant Illustrations from the first edition (1843), the British Household Edition (1878), etc.
Left: John Leech's scene of the Ghost's interrupting Scrooge's eating his gruel, Marley's Ghost. Right: Fred Barnard's version of the supernatural visitation, Marley's Ghost. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: Sol Etynge, Junior's scene of the Ghost's terrifying Scrooge, Marley's Ghost. Right: A. A. Dixon's version of the supernatural visitation, He felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: A. E. Abbey's realistic wood-engraving of Marley's haunting of his former partner, "What do you want with me?" [Click on image to enlarge it.]
Left: Harry Furniss's "Marley's Ghost" (1910); right: Arthur Rackham's "'How now' said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever 'What do you want with me?'" (1915). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
_____. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.
_____. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910.
_____. Christmas Books, illustrated by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.
_____. Christmas Books, illustrated by A. A. Dixon. London & Glasgow: Collins' Clear-Type Press, 1906.
_____. A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Illustrated by John Leech. London: Chapman and Hall, 1843.
_____. A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1868.
_____. A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being A Ghost Story of Christmas. Illustrated by John Leech. (1843). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Hardmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978.
_____. A Christmas Carol. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.
_____. A Christmas Carol. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London: William Heinemann, 1915.
_____. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
Last modified 6 May 2015