Lizzie, looking for her father, saw him coming, and
stood upon the causeway that he might see her

"Lizzie, looking for her father, saw him coming, and stood upon the causeway that he might see her," James Mahoney's Illustration for Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition, Frontispiece (p. 37). 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 13.2 cm high x 17.4 cm wide. On the Thames wharf, Lizzie spies her father, Gaffer Hexam, rowing in from his latest fishing expedition — for dead bodies in the Thames. Mahoney realizes is this moment:

The white face of the winter day came sluggishly on, veiled in a frosty mist; and the shadowy ships in the river slowly changed top black substances; and the sun, blood-read on the eastern marshes behind dark masts and yards, seemed filled with the ruins of a forest it had set on fire. Lizzie, looking for her father, saw him coming, and stood upon the causeway that he might see her.

He had nothing with him but his boat, and came on apace. A knot of those amphibious human creatures, who appear to have some mysterious power of extracting a subsistence out of tidal water by looking at it, were gathered together about the causeway. [Ch. 6, "Cut Adrift," p. 37]

Mahoney, without benefit of colour, shows us all of this, but focusses on the figure of the watcher on the shore, who is so different from the scene's other figures, not merely by virtue of her pose, gender, youthfulness, and womanly attire, but by virtue of her humanity. The forest of masts and yard-arms is but indistinctly rendered, and indeed everything but the sympathetic figure of Lizzie Hexam is rendered impressionistically, in contrast to Mahoney's realistic handling of Lizzie before the fire in the title-page vignette.

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 it in a print one.]

Reference

Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. Il. James Mahoney. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall; New York, Harper Brothers, 1875.


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Last modified 7 December 2010