In his third and final plate, which appears on p. 159, Frank Stone again depicts Milly with pictorial consistency (posture, form, costume, and scale) as Dickens had desired him to do, cap and all. This plate is considerably more realistic and less cartoon-like than Leech's final offering, but Stone's high serious is appropriate to his angelic, spiritually renewing subject. The moment captured textually appears right above the plate, synthesizing the two narratives. The tearful reconciliation between the Tetterbys which we have just read about is reinforced by the joy of the children here. Both text and plate proclaim that Redlaw's gift has been revoked. Stone's depiction of Milly recalls pictures of Christ with the children and Catholic Counter-Reformation artists' conceptions of Charity: Milly in the text is "like the spirit of all goodness, affection, gentle consideration, love, and domesticity" (160), those qualities that the Christmas Books consistently celebrate. Owing to the time pressures associated with the publication, we shall now go thirty pages before the next illustration.
The essential tensions in the printed text are between the comic business of the Tetterbys and the melodrama surrounding Redlaw and the student; here, Milly clearly bridges the two plots and harmonizes these disparate elements in the same way that the country dance does at the close of The Chimes. A similar sort of tension exists in the pictorial narrative, between Leech's cartoon whimsy and Stone's Pre-Raphaelite sobriety, reinforced by the natural forces depicted in Stanfield's marinescape and the architectural elements of his final plate. By confining the artists to those subjects which he perceived to be their forté, Dickens attempted to maintain pictorial-narrative continuity, although lapses do occasionally crop up, as in Leech's version of Johnny and the baby versus Stone's in "Milly and the Children."
Last modified 19 October 2004