While we changed horses
Henry Matthew Brock
13.6 x 10.7 cm. framed.
Dickens's The Holly-tree Inn, frontispiece.
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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We performed Auld Lang Syne the whole day; seeing nothing, out of towns and villages, but the track of stoats, hares, and foxes, and sometimes of birds. At nine o'clock at night, on a Yorkshire moor, a cheerful burst from our horn, and a welcome sound of talking, with a glimmering and moving about of lanterns, roused me from my drowsy state. I found that we were going to change.
They helped me out, and I said to a waiter, whose bare head became as white as King Lear's in a single minute, "What Inn is this?"
"The Holly-Tree, sir," said he.
"Upon my word, I believe," said I, apologetically, to the guard and coachman, "that I must stop here."
Now the landlord, and the landlady, and the ostler, and the post-boy, and all the stable authorities, had already asked the coachman, to the wide-eyed interest of all the rest of the establishment, if he meant to go on. The coachman had already replied, "Yes, he'd take her through it," — meaning by Her the coach, — "if o be as George would stand by him." George was the guard, and he had already sworn that he would stand by him. So the helpers were already getting the horses out. — "First Branch — Myself," p. 8..
Dickens's The Holly-Tree Inn, originally published in Household Words, Extra Christmas Number, December 1855. "The Guest," "The Boots," and "The Bill," parts one, three, and seven respectively, were by Dickens, the other contributors being his chief collaborator, Wilkie Collins, William Howitt, Adelaide Anne Procter, and Harriet Parr ("Holme Lee"). The colourful frontispiece, with snow scene of the inn and a carriage, suggests a chronological setting prior to the Railway Age, an impression that the 18th c. costumes of the barmaid, the ostler, and the coachmen reinforce. The illustration indicates that the real name of "The Holly-Tree" is "The Red Lion." There is in fact a seventeenth-century of inn of that name in Burnsall, North Yorkshire, in the Dales. The guest who retails the story told him by the Boots arrives in the midst of a snow-storm and is stranded at the inn, but the actual story of the children running away to Gretna Green, Scotland, does not occur in the winter season.
Relevant Illustrations from Earlier Editions
Left: Harry French's character study of the kindly Boots when he was a gardener on the Walmers estate and Master Harry, The Holly Tree Inn (1871). Centre: Harry Furniss's realisation of the arrival of the runaway children at the Yorkshire inn, Arrivals at The Holly Tree (1910). Right: Harry Furniss's realisation of the maids at the inn listening at the door of the children's room, Servants at The Holly Tree (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: E. A. Abbey's realisation of the scene in which the maid and the boots lead the children to their room, "There's Love Lane" (1876). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
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. Illustrated by 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.
_____________. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
_____________. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by E. G. Dalziel. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877.
_____________. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by Townley Green, Charles Green, Fred Walker, F. A. Fraser, Harry French, E. G. Dalziel, and J.Mahoney. The Illustrated Library Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1911. Volume 1.
_____________. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Centenary Edition. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.
_____________. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. Volume 16.
_____________. The Uncommercial Traverller and Additional Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and the Short Story. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Created 31 January 2016