"The Dissolution of a Partnership"
Phiz (Hablot K. Browne)
See commentary below
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]
After Jonas's muttering imprecations against his father under his breath, the reader is not too surprised that old Anthony Chuzzlewit should collapse in a fit on the floor and that Jonas should imply subsequently to Pecksniff (centre in the monthly illustration for part 8) that poison might be involved. A telling sign in Phiz's conception of the scene is that Chuffey, the firm's confidential clerk, rather than Jonas comes to the old man's aid (lower right). The suddenness of the fit is suggested by Jonas's chair, tipped over in his haste to rise from the table. As a symbol, the overturned chair (left), balancing the fallen miser (right) may well suggest that one more Chuzzlewit has fallen, never again to rise. The seventeenth illustration realises the following scene:
A scream from Chuffey, rendered a hundred times more loud and formidable by his silent habits, made the house ring from roof to cellar; and, looking round, they saw Anthony Chuzzlewit extended on the floor, with the old clerk upon his knees beside him.
He had fallen from his chair in a fit, and lay there, battling for each gasp of breath, with every shrivelled vein and sinew starting in its place, as if it were bent on bearing witness to his age, and sternly pleading with Nature against his recovery. It was frightful to see how the principle of life, shut up within his withered frame, fought like a strong devil, mad to be released, and rent its ancient prison-house. A young man in the fullness of his vigour, struggling with so much strength of desperation, would have been a dismal sight; but an old, old, shrunken body, endowed with preternatural might, and giving the lie in every motion of its every limb and joint to its enfeebled aspect, was a hideous spectacle indeed.
They raised him up, and fetched a surgeon with all haste, who bled the patient and applied some remedies; but the fits held him so long that it was past midnight when they got him — quiet now, but quite unconscious and exhausted — into bed.
"Don't go," said Jonas, putting his ashy lips to Mr. Pecksniff's ear and whispered across the bed. "It was a mercy you were present when he was taken ill. Some one might have said it was my doing." [Chapter 18]
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Last modified 30 April 2012