Old Martin and the Will by Harry Furniss in The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Volume 7 (1910) — from Chapter 3, "In Which Certain Other Persons are Introduced; on the Same Terms as in the Last Chapter." Here is a graphic representation of Old Martin's dilemma as he simply cannot determine which among his many predatory relatives is most deserving of inheriting his fortune. Old Martin here, however, bears little resemblance to the character drawn by Hablot Knight Browne in the 1843-44 serial and elaborated by seventies illustrator Fred Barnard in The Household Edition. The Furniss image, necessarily derivative, is rather more cartoon-like than Phiz's and certainly less realistic than Barnard's version of the canny senior in "Look about you," he said, pointing to the graves; "And remember that from your bridal hour to the day which sees you brought as low as these, and laid in such a bed, there will be no appeal against him" (Chapter 24). The writing table, pen, and ink that Old Martin has just been using to draw up yet another will are conspicuously positioned in the illustration, which is Furniss's re-drafting of a similar illustration in the original serial. One of the strongest and most upright of Dickens's characters in the novel, Old Martin, attended by Mary Graham and wearing a scull-cap, appears in a place of prominence in the ornamental border for Furniss's title-page, Characters in the Story (upper left-hand corner). The portrait of Old Martin in his sick-bed at The Blue Dragon Inn (framed by bed-curtains, giving the scene a theatrical quality) in The Charles Dickens Library Edition volume (9.2 high x 14.3 cm wide, framed) occupies its own page, facing page 33 in Chapter 3.

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.]

Passages Referenced

"Ah! you begin too soon," he said, in so low a voice that he seemed to be thinking it, rather than addressing her. "But you lose no time. You do your errand, and you earn your fee. Now, who may be your client?"

The landlady looked in great astonishment at her whom he called Mary, and finding no rejoinder in the drooping face, looked back again at him. At first she had recoiled involuntarily, supposing him disordered in his mind; but the slow composure of his manner, and the settled purpose announced in his strong features, and gathering, most of all, about his puckered mouth, forbade the supposition.

"Come," he said, "tell me who is it? Being here, it is not very hard for me to guess, you may suppose."

"Martin," interposed the young lady, laying her hand upon his arm; "reflect how short a time we have been in this house, and that even your name is unknown here."

"Unless," he said, "you —" He was evidently tempted to express a suspicion of her having broken his confidence in favour of the landlady, but either remembering her tender nursing, or being moved in some sort by her face, he checked himself, and changing his uneasy posture in the bed, was silent.

"There!" said Mrs Lupin; for in that name the Blue Dragon was licensed to furnish entertainment, both to man and beast. 'Now, you will be well again, sir. You forgot, for the moment, that there were none but friends here."

"Oh!" cried the old man, moaning impatiently, as he tossed one restless arm upon the coverlet; "why do you talk to me of friends! Can you or anybody teach me to know who are my friends, and who my enemies?"

"At least," urged Mrs. Lupin, gently, "this young lady is your friend, I am sure."

"She has no temptation to be otherwise," cried the old man, like one whose hope and confidence were utterly exhausted. "I suppose she is. Heaven knows. There, let me try to sleep. Leave the candle where it is."

As they retired from the bed, he drew forth the writing which had occupied him so long, and holding it in the flame of the taper burnt it to ashes. That done, he extinguished the light, and turning his face away with a heavy sigh, drew the coverlet about his head, and lay quite still.

This destruction of the paper, both as being strangely inconsistent with the labour he had devoted to it, and as involving considerable danger of fire to the Dragon, occasioned Mrs Lupin not a little consternation. But the young lady evincing no surprise, curiosity, or alarm, whispered her, with many thanks for her solicitude and company, that she would remain there some time longer; and that she begged her not to share her watch, as she was well used to being alone, and would pass the time in reading.

Mrs. Lupin had her full share and dividend of that large capital of curiosity which is inherited by her sex, and at another time it might have been difficult so to impress this hint upon her as to induce her to take it. But now, in sheer wonder and amazement at these mysteries, she withdrew at once, and repairing straightway to her own little parlour below stairs, sat down in her easy-chair with unnatural composure. At this very crisis, a step was heard in the entry, and Mr. Pecksniff, looking sweetly over the half-door of the bar, and into the vista of snug privacy beyond, murmured:

"Good evening, Mrs. Lupin!" — Chapter 3, "In Which Certain Other Persons are Introduced; on the Same Terms as in the Last Chapter," p. 32-34.

Commentary: The Irascible Old Martin Chuzzlewit

Over the course of a number of illustrated editions of The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) a number of images of the novel's suspicious and secretive rich man, pursued by avaricious relatives and their hangers-on, Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1867 in the Diamond Edition), Fred Barnard (1872 in the transatlantic Household Edition), and Harry Furniss (1910). However, all of these are based on the original conception by Phiz, whose final illustration of him, as a stern Old Testament prophet, inspired by divine wrath, extirpating the devious Pecksniff, is perhaps the most compelling and dynamic. Despite the fact that the book bears his name and that his wealth is the mainspring of the action of the main plot, Old Martin is at best a minor character, rarely seen, so that, for example, American illustrator Felix Octavius Carr Darley elected not to depict him at all in the Sheldon and Company Household Edition volumes of 1863, and he was hardly worthy of visual comment by visual satirist Clayton J. Clarke (1910) in the Players' Cigarette Cards series. In the Household Edition (1872), the illustrator chose the arrival of the sanctimonious Pecksniff at the Blue Dragon as more worthy of visual comment in this same chapter.

In the background shadows stand Mary Graham (right) and Mrs. Lupin (left), but Furniss's twin focal points are the irascible old man's face and the destruction of the latest will in the candle flame, whereas Phiz's interest in January 1843 steel engraving Martin Chuzzlewit Suspects the Landlady Without Any Reason is evenly divided between the three figures because one of the functions of this early illustration is to introduce these characters to the reader. Although Martin has already destroyed his latest draft in the 1910 plate, in Phiz's he is still writing, so that Phiz has placed the candle and the quill at the centre of the composition, whereas Furniss emphasizes the smoke from the burning document as he shows the old man, fully reclining on the bed. Although both plates contain a side-table, only the 1910 plate has the chair, just vacated by Mary, the old man's confidant and nurse. One certainly receives a better sense, too, of Old Martin's room at the inn in the Phiz illustration, which presents the occupant as an individual rather than, as in Furniss's plate, a type.

Relevant Old Martin illustrations, 1843 to 1872

Left: Phiz's description of the same incident, Martin Chuzzlewit Suspects the Landlady Without Any Reason (Ch. 3, January 1843). Centre: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s compelling portrait of the suspicious old man, Old Martin and Mary (1867). Right: Phiz's description of the climactic denunciation of Mr. Pecksniff, Warm Reception of Mr. Pecksniff by His Venerable Friend in the fiunal double number(Ch. 52, July 1844). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Above: Fred Barnard's Old Martin's philosophizing about the consequences of poor choices made in youth, "Look about you," he said, pointing to the graves; "And remember that from your bridal hour to the day which sees you brought as low as these, and laid in such a bed, there will be no appeal against him" (Chapter 24, the Household Edition, 1872). [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Above: Fred Barnard's illustration of Old Martin's philosophizing about the consequences of poor choices made in youth, Pecksniff's saluting Mrs. Lupin in Chapter 3, Mr. Pecksniff looking sweetly over the half-door of the bar, and into the vista of snug privacy beyond, murmured "Good evening, Mrs. Lupin" (Chapter 3, the Household Edition, 1872). [Click on image to enlarge it.]

References

Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844.

Dickens, Charles. Martin Chuzzlewit. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Il. F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1863. Vols. 1 to 4.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Sol Eytinge, Junior. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872. Vol. 2.

Dickens, Charles. Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 7.

Guerard, Albert J. "Martin Chuzzlewit: The Novel as Comic Entertainment." The Triumph of the Novel: Dickens, Dostoevsky, Faulkner. Chicago & London: U. Chicago P., 1976. Pp. 235-260.

Kyd [Clayton J. Clarke]. Characters from Dickens. Nottingham: John Player & Sons, 1910.

"Martin Chuzzlewit — Fifty-nine Illustrations by Fred Barnard." Scenes and Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens, Being Eight Hundred and Sixty-six Drawings by Fred Barnard, Gordon Thomson, Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), J. McL. Ralston, J. Mahoney, H. French, Charles Green, E. G. Dalziel, A. B. Frost, F. A. Fraser, and Sir Luke Fildes. London: Chapman and Hall, 1907.

Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington and London: Indiana U. P., 1978.

_____. "Martin Chuzzlewit's Progress by Dickens and Phiz." Dickens Studies Annual 2 (1972): 119-149.

Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985.


Last modified 21 January 2016