Tom Tiddler's Ground
Framed, 13.8 x 9.1 cm
Facing page 374 in The Illustrated Library Edition of Dickens's Works, Christmas Stories, vol. 1.
See below for commentary and comparison with other illustrators.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham
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"I am glad to see you employed," said Mr. Traveller.
"I am glad to be employed," returned the Tinker, looking up as he put the finishing touches to his job. "But why are you glad?"
"I thought you were a lazy fellow when I saw you this morning."
"I was only disgusted," said the Tinker.
"Do you mean with the fine weather?"
"With the fine weather?" repeated the Tinker, staring.
"You told me you were not particular as to weather, and I thought —"
"Ha, ha! How should such as me get on, if we was particular as to weather? We must take it as it comes, and make the best of it. There's something good in all weathers. If it don't happen to be good for my work to-day, it's good for some other man's to-day, and will come round to me to-morrow. We must all live."
"Pray shake hands," said Mr. Traveller. [Chapter 3, "Picking Up The Tinker," pages 374-375]
Townley Green's illustration entitled Tom Tiddler's Ground in the 1868 Illustrated Library Edition realizes precisely the same moment in the text as Furniss's The Tinker's Philosophy, in what was the seventh and final chapter of the novella, published as the Christmas story for 1861, Dickens's third seasonal offering for his new journal All the Year Round, reprinted in anthologised texts "In Three Chapters," all of which were by Dickens himself. Originally, Tom Tiddler's Ground included a series of short stories by Wilkie Collins ("Picking up Waifs at Sea"), Wilkie's brother, Charles Collins ("Picking up Evening Shadows"), the elusive John Berwick Harwood ("Picking up a Pocket Book"), and Amelia B. Edwards ("Picking up Terrible Company"), all of which the Charles Dickens Library Edition and subsequent editions omit.
Relevant Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) and British Household Edition (1877) Illustrations
Left : Harry Furniss's 1910 plate "The Tinker's Philosophy". Right: Edward Dalziel's 1877 illustration "I am glad to see you employed," said Mr. Traveller. — "I am glad to be employed," returned the tinker. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
E. G. Dalziel realises a very similar moment involving precisely the same conjunction of characters in the Chapman and Hall Household Edition. Furniss's illustration, in contrast to these earlier, more realistic character studies, exhibits both his characteristic humour and his staccato Impressionism. Moreover, whereas both Townley Green and Edward Dalziel dress the three characters in contemporary costumes — the fashions of the late sixties and the seventies — Furniss as it were backdated the scene to age of the tailcoat and beaver hat. Against a lightly sketched in background on Mr. Mopes' property, a shabbily dressed tinker is mending pots as he expounds his genial, "anti-Mopes" philosophy. Furniss's Mr. Traveller, an angular, old man in gaiters and respectable, 1840s middle-class dress, looks nothing like either of the earlier Travellers, or for that matter the Uncommercial Traveller whom Dickens introduced in All the Year Round on 28 January 1860. In contrast to Furniss's gentlemanly Mr. Traveller, Townley Green's resembles Charles Dickens, aged fifty-six, suggesting that the illustrator was deliberately connecting the interrogative Mr. Traveller of 12 December 1861 and the flaneur or idle, urban observer of the essays of the previous year.
A Note on the 1911 Text
The two volumes containing the Christmas stories do not indicate where they fall in the 36-volume sequence. The "Bibliographical Note" on the verso of the title-page makes reference to the Charles Dickens Edition of 1871, although this text has been augmented by five stories from "Reprinted Pieces" and two others, "What Christmas Is As We Grow Older" and "The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices," "which were not always included in the collected works of the novelist."
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Il. Harry Furniss. Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Company, 1910. 2 vols.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All The Year Round". Il. Fred Walker, F. A. Fraser, Harry French, E. G. Dalziel, J. Mahony [sic], Townley Green, and Charles Green. Centenary Edition. 36 vols. London: Chapman & Hall; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911. Volume Two.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Il. Edward Dalziel, Harry French, F. A. Fraser, James Mahoney, Townley Green, and Charles Green. The Oxford Illustrated Dickens. Oxford, New York, and Toronto: Oxford U.P., 1956, rpt. 1989.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Il. E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Il. E. G. Dalziel. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877. Rpt., 1892.
Drew, John. "All the Year Round, Volume II; 29 October 1859 — 7 April 1860 Nos. 27 — 50." Dickens Quarterly 30, 3 (September 2013): 198-222.
Schlicke, Paul, ed. "Christmas Stories." The Oxford Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999. Pp. 100-101.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and The Short Story. Philadelphia: U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Last modified 3 October 2013