Michael Warden leaving his Lawyers
11.1 x 6 cm. vignetted
Dickens's The Battle of Life, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol. 4, page 65.
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"In a month," said the client, after attentively watching the two faces. "This day month. To-day is Thursday. Succeed or fail, on this day month I go."
"It's too long a delay," said Snitchey; "much too long. But let it be so. I thought he'd have stipulated for three," he murmured to himself. "Are you going? Good night, sir!"
"Good night!" returned the client, shaking hands with the Firm.
"You'll live to see me making a good use of riches yet. Henceforth the star of my destiny is, Marion!"
"Take care of the stairs, sir," replied Snitchey; "for she don't shine there. Good night!"
So they both stood at the stair-head with a pair of office-candles, watching him down. When he had gone away, they stood looking at each other.
What do you think of all this, Mr. Craggs?" said Snitchey.
Mr. Craggs shook his head. ["Part the Second," 1912 Pears Edition, p. 65-66]
The caption is a synopsis of Dickens's text on the following page; the title in the "List of Illustrations" (p. 13), "Michael Warden leaving his Lawyers," is thus replaced with a slightly altered textual quotation, "'Henceforth the star of my destiny is, Marion!' 'Take care of the stairs, sir,' replied Snitchey; 'for she don't shine there. Good night!'" (p. 65). In the 1846 edition of the novella, the equivalent illustration by John Leech, realising the earlier scene in the lawyers' office (upstairs), includes these same characters in the upper register, the composition separating the elderly, dusty attorneys at a substantial double desk (right) and a contemplative, bewigged young aristocrat (right), but foregrounds the symbol of a cornucopia padlocked, skewered bills, and a padlocked trunk, all suggestive of the dire state of Warden's affairs. No such symbolism balances Green's unrelenting realism, which lacks the humour of the Household Edition illustrations, the pathos of the Leech illustration, and the drama of the impressionistic Furniss pen-and-ink drawing.
Green's depiction of the departure of the financially challenged client seems to be based, however, on the /furniss illustration Michael Warden leaving his lawyers in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910). Furniss's figures are far less realistic than Green's, and the earlier illustration tends to emphasize the static nature of the attorneys and the young client's rapidly descending the stairs. The key difference between Furniss's version and those of the 1870s Household Edition volumes illustrated by E. A. Abbey (1876) and Fred Barnard is the cockiness of the young aristocrat contrasted by the careful reserve of the much older attorneys. In contrast to Green's young man standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at the attorneys holding up their candles, in Furniss's dynamic rendering of the same scene Warden approaches the viewer in haste, turning back to attend to his attorneys' parting words. Furniss renders Warden in full light, but leaves Snitchey and Craggs in partial darkness at the top of the stairs, beside the balustrade. Whereas Furniss realises only Warden's costume in any detail in the 1910 lithograph, Green with photographic realism describes the eighteenth-century garb of all three figures, which one also sees effectively described in the wood-engravings by Abbey and Barnard.
Relevant Illustrations from the 1846 and later Editions
Left: John Leech's realisation of the preceding scene in the lawyers' office, Snitchey and Craggs. Right: Harry Furniss's 1910 interpretation of the same scene as Green's, Michael Warden leaving his lawyers. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: Fred Barnard's "I think it will be better not to hear this, Mr. Craggs?" (1878); right: E. A. Abbey's "'Now, observe, Snitchey,' he continued, rising and taking him by the button, 'and Craggs,' taking him by the button also." (1876) [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Dickens, Charles. The Battle of Life: A Love Story. Illustrated by John Leech, Richard Doyle, Daniel Maclise, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1846.
___. The Battle of Life: A Love Story. Illustrated by John Leech, Richard Doyle, Daniel Maclise, and Clarkson Stanfield. (1846). Rpt. in Charles Dickens's Christmas Books, ed. Michael Slater. Hardmondsworth: Penguin, 1971, rpt. 1978.
___. The Battle of Life. Illustrated by Charles Green, R. I. London: A & F Pears, 1912.
___. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
___. 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.
___. 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.
Last modified 5 June 2015