After carefully reading the dingy scrap of paper handed to him, and as carefully tucking it into his waistcoat-pocket, Eugene tells out the money (p. 265) — James Mahoney's forty-fifth illustration for Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition (New York), 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 10.7 cm high x 13.4 cm wide. The Chapman and Hall two-line caption for woodcut for the third book's seventeenth chapter, "A Social Chorus," is much more dramatic: "Now, Dolls, wake up!" "Mist Wrayburn? Drection! Fifteen shillings." The composite wood-engraving concerns Eugene Wrayburn's paying "Dolls" (the attorneys' derogatory nickname for Jenny Wren's father, Mr. Cleaver) drinking money for information about Lizzie Hexam's whereabouts. Eugene has been called away in the midst of the Veneerings' dinner-party to deal with the informant in a cab across the street, so that the mansion in the background is the Veneerings' townhouse, and Eugene is in formal attire suitable to such a society occasion. The youth standing beside the carriage is Young Blight, Mortimer Lightwood's Cockney law-clerk (his age and social status suggested by his cap), who, acting upon Eugene's instructions, has brought the informant with due haste. As the chapter, the third book, and the fifteenth instalment (July 1865) close, the reader wonders what information the dypsomaniac Dolls has exchanged for the fifteen shillings. As the commentator for the London Review remarked in his 8 July 1865 assessment of this conclusion, "Altogether, the number for this month takes a considerable step towards the dénouement, and is consequently of greater interest than one or two previous issues" (cited in Grass 211). For further differences, including the London and New York volumes having entirely different frontispieces, see The differences between the British and American printings of Mahoney's illustrations for Dickens's Our Mutual Friend

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.]

Passage Illustrated

Eugene, leaning back in his chair, is observing Mr. Podsnap with an irreverent face, and may be about to offer a new suggestion, when the Analytical is beheld in collision with the Coachman; the Coachman manifesting a purpose of coming at the company with a silver salver, as though intent upon making a collection for his wife and family; the Analytical cutting him off at the sideboard. The superior stateliness, if not the superior generalship, of the Analytical prevails over a man who is as nothing off the box; and the Coachman, yielding up his salver, retires defeated.

Then, the Analytical, perusing a scrap of paper lying on the salver, with the air of a literary Censor, adjusts it, takes his time about going to the table with it, and presents it to Mr. Eugene Wrayburn. Whereupon the pleasant Tippins says aloud, "The Lord Chancellor has resigned!"

With distracting coolness and slowness — for he knows the curiosity of the Charmer to be always devouring — Eugene makes a pretense of getting out an eyeglass, polishing it, and reading the paper with difficulty, long after he has seen what is written on it. What is written on it in wet ink, is:

"Young Blight."

"Waiting?" says Eugene over his shoulder, in confidence, with the Analytical.

"Waiting," returns the Analytical in responsive confidence.

Eugene looks "Excuse me," toward Mrs. Veneering, goes out, and finds Young Blight, Mortimer's clerk, at the hall-door.

"You told me to bring him, sir, to wherever you was, if he come while you was out and I was in," says that discreet young gentleman, standing on tiptoe to whisper; "and I've brought him."

"Sharp boy. Where is he?" asks Eugene.

"He's in a cab, sir, at the door. I thought it best not to show him, you see, if it could be helped; for he's a-shaking all over, like &mdaash;" Blight's simile is perhaps inspired by the surrounding dishes of sweets — "like Glue Monge."

"Sharp boy again," returns Eugene. "I'll go to him."

Goes out straightway, and, leisurely leaning his arms on the open window of a cab in waiting, looks in at Mr. Dolls: who has brought his own atmosphere with him, and would seem from its odor to have brought it, for convenience of carriage, in a rum-cask.

"Now Dolls, wake up!"

"Mist Wrayburn? Drection! Fifteen shillings!"

After carefully reading the dingy scrap of paper handed to him, and as carefully tucking it into his waistcoat pocket, Eugene tells out the money; beginning incautiously by telling the first shilling into Mr. Dolls's hand, which instantly jerks it out of window; and ending by telling the fifteen shillings on the seat.

"Give him a ride back to Charing Cross, sharp boy, and there get rid of him." — Book Three, Chapter 17, "A Social Chorus," p. 265-266.


Since it was his visual antecedent, Mahoney's 1875 treatment of the textual material is often his ​response to the original series of illustrations by young Marcus Stone, Dickens's 1860s serial and volume illustrator after Dickens's dropping Hablot Knight Browne, his principal illustrator for twenty-five​ years​. Although Mahoney sometimes accepts Stone's notions, in Bella 'Righted' by the Golden Dustman and The Lovely Woman has her Fortune told, the pair of illustrations for the July 1865 or fifteenth monthly part in the British serialisation, the Household Edition illustrator had no suitable model with which to close what had originally been the serial curtain. Here, then, instead of revising a Stone illustration, James ​Mahoney invents a scene that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as the fourth book, "A Turning," begins. The bearded, lanky Eugene at the carriage window is the same man, despite the formal dinner attire, seen in They almost ran against Bradley Headstone and He stood leaning by the door at Lizzie's side, but his interlocutor, Mr. Dolls, is only now making his first appearance in Mahoney's narrative-pictorial sequence. A rather undistinguished, elderly man without a hat, Mr. Dolls here does not much resemble the inebriate in The Person of the House and the Bad Child (serial instalment 30 September 1864) and Three-Penn'orth Rum (May 1865).​Stone's images of the drunken father are highly consistent, providing visual continuity between scenes.

James Mahoney seems to have neglected or thought little about rendering Mr. Dolls with any degree of authenticity, despite the fact that Dolls' alcohol addiction prompts him to betray Lizzie's hiding-place to Wrayburn (despite the scene his doing so will provoke with his stern daughter). The alcoholic incoherence of Dolls in the text helps to convince the reader of Dolls' dissolute character, motivating his determined acquisition of the intelligence desired by Wrayburn, another aspect of the book's pattern of surveillance. The American illustrator Sol Eytinge, Junior, seems to have based his plausible conception of Jenny's father upon that frowzy figure whom he found in the serial illustrations of Marcus Stone, but inexplicably the Household Edition has represented him merely in passing and just this once, when he is merely a nondescript face at a carriage window.​ Mahoney, in contrast to Stone and Eytinge, relies entirely on Dickens's text to render Dolls' role in the plot plausible, and send Eugene Wrayburn upriver to Plashwater Weir in Book Four.

Mr. Dolls and Eugene Wrayburn in the original and later editions

Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual character study of Jenny and her father, Mr. Dolls, The Person of the House and the Bad Child (1867). Centre:​Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual character study of attorney Mortimer Lightwood ​ and his partner,​Eugene Wrayburn, Wrayburn and Lightwood (1867). Right:​Marcus Stone's depiction of ​Jenny's reprimanding her father for his intoxication, The Person of the House and the Bad Child (30 September 1864). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Marcus Stone's interpretation of the scene in which the attorneys entertain Mr. Dolls in the Middle Temple rooms to extract information from him in exchange for alcohol, Three-Penn'orth Rum (Part 13, May 1865). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 7​January 2016