Marion with Clemency
10.1 x 7.5cm. exclusive of frame
Dickens's The Battle of Life, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol. 4, page 83.
[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 scholarlyor 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
Glancing back into the kitchen, she cried fearfully, as a light figure stole into her view, "What's that!"
"Hush!" said Marion in an agitated whisper. "You have always loved me, have you not!"
"Loved you, child! You may be sure I have."
"I am sure. And I may trust you, may I not? There is no one else just now, in whom I can trust."
"Yes," said Clemency, with all her heart.
"There is some one out there," pointing to the door, "whom I must see, and speak with, to-night. Michael Warden, for God's sake retire! Not now!"
Clemency started with surprise and trouble as, following the direction of the speaker's eyes, she saw a dark figure standing in the doorway.
"In another moment you may be discovered," said Marion. "Not now! Wait, if you can, in some concealment. I will come presently."
He waved his hand to her, and was gone. "Don't go to bed. Wait here for me!"said Marion, hurriedly. "I have been seeking to speak to you for an hour past. Oh, be true to me!"
Eagerly seizing her bewildered hand, and pressing it with both her own to her breast — an action more expressive, in its passion of entreaty, than the most eloquent appeal in words, — Marion withdrew; as the light of the returning lantern flashed into the room.
"All still and peaceable. Nobody there. Fancy, I suppose," said Mr. Britain, as he locked and barred the door. "One of the effects of having a lively imagination. Halloa! Why, what's the matter?"
Clemency, who could not conceal the effects of her surprise and concern, was sitting in a chair: pale, and trembling from head to foot.
"Matter!" she repeated, chafing her hands and elbows, nervously, and looking anywhere but at him. "That's good in you, Britain, that is! After going and frightening one out of one's life with noises and lanterns, and I don't know what all. Matter! Oh, yes!"
"If you're frightened out of your life by a lantern, Clemmy," said Mr. Britain, composedly blowing it out and hanging it up again, "that apparition's very soon got rid of. But you're as bold as brass in general," he said, stopping to observe her; "and were, after the noise and the lantern too. What have you taken into your head? Not an idea, eh?"
But, as Clemency bade him good night very much after her usual fashion, and began to bustle about with a show of going to bed herself immediately, Little Britain, after giving utterance to the original remark that it was impossible to account for a woman's whims, bade her good night in return, and taking up his candle strolled drowsily away to bed.
When all was quiet, Marion returned.
"Open the door," she said; "and stand there close beside me, while I speak to him, outside."
Timid as her manner was, it still evinced a resolute and settled purpose, such as Clemency could not resist. She softly unbarred the door: but before turning the key, looked round on the young creature waiting to issue forth when she should open it. ["Part the Second," 1912 Pears Edition, p. 81-84]
The short title on page 14 ("Marion with Clemency") is augmented by a direct quotation beneath the actual illustration: "Open the door," she said; "and stand there close beside me, while I speak to him, outside." [page 83, and, in the text, directly over the page]. After the scene of Britain and Clemency in the Kitchen (p. 76), in which the comic servants seem to be approaching an understanding about sharing a future, Dickens continues to develop the notion that a putative elopement between Michael Warden and Marion Jeddler is afoot; Marion's request to Clemency to open the door only serves to confirm the reader's impression that the young aristocrat is about to snatch Marion away in the middle of the night. The surprise is that, at this point, the pair do not elope.
One may readily appreciate Leech's mistake as Dickens made suggestions in "Part the Second" about a supposed elopement, beginning with Michael Warden's stating to his attorneys that his marrying an heiress such as Marion would resolve his financial difficulties and enable him to remain in England — and, quite by coincidence, of course — Warden leaves the village at approximately the same date that Marion vanishes. Although one may forgive Leech, Green has taken pains in his series to avoid any such misapprehension of the plot, with the result that Britain's sallying forth with a fireplace poker, having heard a footstep outside, is something of a red herring in the matter of Marion's mysterious disappearance at the very close of "Part the Second."
Whereas the original novella showed but one scene at the Jeddlers' door — Daniel Maclise's The Secret Interview — to demonstrate the emotional conflicts of Marion and Clemency, Green underscores this internal conflict in two such illustrations, this on page 83 and Michael Warden's Nocturnal Interview with Marion on page 86. Green's Clemency here is much more serious, and appears somewhat older than in her previous appearances. Mysterious darkness suggestive of an uncertain (and perhaps immoral) future fills the space behind the white-clad Marion, whose headpiece implies that she is a Vestal Virgin, dedicated to her father's service and her sister's future happiness with Alfred. The paving stones beneath the women's feet implies that the scene occurs at the external door between the kitchen and the garden, where the ardent lover awaits the overwrought maiden. The wastrel's absconding with the dutiful daughter of the house, not actually realised in this 1846 novella, is a plot gambit that Dickens utilised with James Steerforth's running off to the Continent with Little Em'ly in David Copperfield. Here, however, the young woman enlists the assistance of the faithful family servant, who therefore will subsequently feel complicit in the elopement.
The contrast between the two female figures, Clemency's appearing to block Marion's exit at door, and, above all, the Rembrandtesque chiaroscuro that engulfs the left third of the illustration and throws Clemency's figure into shadow render the moment highly effective as a visual adjunct to the somewhat melodramatic text, especially since one must read through the plate to advance one's understanding of the motivations and circumstances of the reluctant servant and the passionate young mistress, the fiancée ofanother.
Relevant Illustrations from the 1846 and later Editions
Left: Daniel Maclise's elegant illustration of the conversation between the supposed lovers, The Secret Interview. Right: Harry Furniss's intimation that Michael Warden and Marion are eloping, For Alfred's Sake (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: E. A. Abbey's 1876 wood-engraving of the scene outside Dr. Jeddler's home as Alfred discovers that Marion is missing, And sunk down in his former attitude, clasping one of Grace's cold hands in his own. [Click on image to enlarge it.]
Above: Fred Barnard's 1878 wood-engraving of the scene in which Alfred, just arrived, learns that Marion has vanished into the night: "What is the matter?" he exclaimed. "I don't know. I — I am afraid to think. Go back. Hark!"[Click on image to enlarge it.]
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 25 May 2015