Britain and Clemency reading the Bill
10.5 x 8.3cm. vignetted
Dickens's The Battle of Life, The Pears' Centenary Edition, vol. 4, page 111.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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"Oh! Wait a minute. Here's a printed bill to stick on the wall. Wet from the printer's. How nice it smells!"
"What's this?" said Ben, looking over the document.
"I don't know," replied his wife. "I haven't read a word of it."
"To be sold by Auction," read the host of the Nutmeg-Grater, "unless previously disposed of by private contract."
"They always put that," said Clemency.
"Yes, but they don't always put this," he returned. "Look here, 'Mansion,' &c. — 'offices,' &c., 'shrubberies,' &c., 'ring fence,' &c. 'Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs,' &c., 'ornamental portion of the unencumbered freehold property of Michael Warden, Esquire, intending to continue to reside abroad'!" ["Part the Third," p. 110, 1912 Pears edition]
The short title on page 14 ("Britain and Clemency reading the Bill") is augmented by a direct quotation beneath the actual illustration: "'To be sold by Auction,' read the host of the Nutmeg-Grater, 'Mansion,' &c. — 'offices,' &c., 'shrubberies,' &c., 'ring fence,' &c. 'Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs,' &c." (page 111, and, in the text, at the bottom of the facing page). The key part of the bill of sale is not mentioned in the caption: "freehold property of Michael Warden, Esquire, intending to continue to reside abroad'!" In other words, Michael Warden is not intending to return to England, and, therefore, Marion (thought to have run off with him) will not be returning. The only illustration in the 1846 sequence that alludes directly to The Nutmeg Grater Inn is Clarkson Stanfield's The Nutmeg Grater, a picturesque setting for the opening action of "Part the Third." Through this small-scale illustration Green alludes to the popular misconception in the village that Marion Jeddler ran off with Michael Warden, a misconception that Warden himself is about to dispel.
Relevant Illustrations from the 1846 and later Editions
Left: Clarkson Stanfield's painterly realisation of the opening scene, The Nutmeg Grater. Right: Harry Furniss's depiction of Marion as the abiding presence in memory for the final movement of the story, Marion (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: E. A. Abbey's 1876 dramatic realisation of the scene in which Michael Warden, a lone traveller on horseback, alights at the inn run by Clemency and Benjamin Britain, A gentleman attired in mourning, and cloaked and booted like a rider on horseback, who stood at the bar-door. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Above: Fred Barnard's more comic treatment of The Nutmeg Grater, Guessed half aloud "milk and water," "monthly warning," "mice and walnuts" — and couldn't approach her meaning. [Click on the 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