Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition (New York), 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 10.5 cm high x 13.3 cm wide. The Harper and Brothers woodcut for sixteenth chapter, "An Anniversary Occasion," in the second book, "Birds of a Feather," realizes the moment in the Lammles' parlour when, Twemlow having dropped by to congratulate his host and hostess on their first anniversary, the social gossip turns to the disappearance of Lizzie Hexam. The picture flags an important point, however, since Mrs. Lammle is employing the portrait book as a ruse to fool her husband (standing nearby, beside the Veneerings) as to the true subject of her conversation with Twemlow: she asks her guest to warn Podsnap about the Lammles' plot to marry off Georgiana Podsnap to Fascination Fledgeby. Mahoney gives Twemlow a thoroughly puzzled expression, for he cannot fathom why she is betraying her plan to him, or how precisely he is to alert Podsnap to the danger — "But warn him against whom?"(p. 179) — James Mahoney's thirtieth illustration for Charles Dickens's
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.]
Mrs. Lammle has sat quite still, with her eyes cast down upon the table-cloth. As Mr. Lammle's address ends, Twemlow once more turns to her involuntarily, not cured yet of that often recurring impression that she is going to speak to him. This time she really is going to speak to him. Veneering is talking with his other next neighbour, and she speaks in a low voice.
He answers, "I beg your pardon? Yes?" Still a little doubtful, because of her not looking at him.
"You have the soul of a gentleman, and I know I may trust you. Will you give me the opportunity of saying a few words to you when you come up stairs?"
"Assuredly. I shall be honoured."
"Don't seem to do so, if you please, and don't think it inconsistent if my manner should be more careless than my words. I may be watched."
Intensely astonished, Twemlow puts his hand to his forehead, and sinks back in his chair meditating. Mrs. Lammle rises. All rise. The ladies go up stairs. The gentlemen soon saunter after them. Fledgeby has devoted the interval to taking an observation of Boots's whiskers, Brewer's whiskers, and Lammle's whiskers, and considering which pattern of whisker he would prefer to produce out of himself by friction, if the Genie of the cheek would only answer to his rubbing.
In the drawing-room, groups form as usual. Lightwood, Boots, and Brewer, flutter like moths around that yellow wax candle — guttering down, and with some hint of a winding-sheet in it — Lady Tippins. Outsiders cultivate Veneering, M. P., and Mrs. Veneering, W. M. P. Lammle stands with folded arms, Mephistophelean in a corner, with Georgiana and Fledgeby. Mrs. Lammle, on a sofa by a table, invites Mr. Twemlow's attention to a book of portraits in her hand.
Mr. Twemlow takes his station on a settee before her, and Mrs. Lammle shows him a portrait.
"You have reason to be surprised," she says softly, "but I wish you wouldn't look so."
Disturbed Twemlow, making an effort not to look so, looks much more so.
"I think, Mr. Twemlow, you never saw that distant connexion of yours before to-day?"
"Now that you do see him, you see what he is. You are not proud of him?"
"To say the truth, Mrs. Lammle, no." — Chapter 16: "An Anniversary Occasion," p. 178.
Despite the fact that it was his visual antecedent, Mahoney ten years later deviated from the choices for illustration made by Dickens and his original illustrator Marcus Stone, so that, for the February, 1865 instalment, the tenth monthly part in the British serialisation, there is no counterpart to this illustration of the Lammles' anniversary party. Marcus Stone's plate for instalment eleven (Book 3, Chapters 1 — 4), Trying on for the Doll's Dressmaker, the first illustration for the March 1865 monthly part in the British serialisation, concerns Jenny Wren's using London society fashions as the basis for her dolls' dresses. And, although they had access to the Stone series, American illustrators Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1867) and Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1866) chose other scenes, so that Mahoney's depiction of drawing-room society is without parallel or precedent. Mahoney's depiction of the Lammles, Twemlow (centre), and the Veneerings (right rear), however, is consistent both with his own earlier illustrations and with such Marcus Stone illustrations as The Happy Pair (July 1864) and Mahoney's own series such as "One thing, however, that I can do for you," says Tremlow; "and that is, work for you", which contains a Twemlow with the same idiosyncratic hair-style.
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Last modified 23December 2015