Tailpiece: Little Dorrit and Arthur Clennam leaving the church
8.5 cm high by 8.5 cm wide, vignetted
Dickens's Little Dorrit, Vol. 5 of the Household Edition, Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 34, "Gone," p. 423.
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
They all gave place when the signing was done, and Little Dorrit and her husband walked out of the church alone. They paused for a moment on the steps of the portico, looking at the fresh perspective of the street in the autumn morning sun's bright rays, and then went down.
Went down into a modest life of usefulness and happiness. Went down to give a mother's care, in the fulness of time, to Fanny's neglected children no less than to their own, and to leave that lady going into Society for ever and a day. Went down to give a tender nurse and friend to Tip for some few years, who was never vexed by the great exactions he made of her in return for the riches he might have given her if he had ever had them, and who lovingly closed his eyes upon the Marshalsea and all its blighted fruits. They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted and chafed, and made their usual uproar. — Book The Second, "Riches," Chapter 34, "Gone," p. 423.
The original illustration for Parts XIX-XX (June 1857, Chapters 30–34) makes the wedding of the two protagonists a community affair, but Mahoney chooses instead to personalize the moment that the couple leave the church (Chapter 34, "Gone").
Here we enter the present, the end of the novel, in real rather than fictional time, having moved forward from 1826 to the conclusion of the romance between Little Dorrit and Arthur Clennam. This is no juvenile romance, but the teaming up of two mature people who have experienced loss and defeat. Merdle's financial collapse has ruined them both, so that both are equally poor, and no disparity exists between them. The church next to the Marshalsea Prison, the Church of St. George the Martyr, is still known as Little Dorrit's Church because the novel ends here. From the seclusion of the Marshalsea its former inmates enter the furious life of the streets of the teeming metropolis, better able to face harsh reality with the examples of the deluded Father of the Marshalsea and the bitter Mrs. Clennam in their hearts. This, then, is a very different wedding from that of Dora and David Copperfield in that neither bride nor groom has entered the state of marriage blindly or naievely.
The uncaptioned Mahoney tailpiece, juxtaposed against the passage illustrated on the same page, elaborates upon the final Phiz illustration, The Third Volume of the Registers. The closing illustration for the final, "double" number of novel (June 1857), however, is quite different in that it involves society's sanctioning the marriage, and brings together many of the surviving characters, including Maggy, John Chivery, and Pancks for the signing of the registry in the church vestry. Whereas the Mahoney illustration for the final page of the Household Edition volume of 1873 dwells upon the intimate, personal experience of the well-dressed bride and groom leaving the church for the challenges of life, unassisted by friends and family (for Little Dorrit's uncle and father, like Arthur Clennam's mother and father, have died), in Phiz's illustration, in contrast, the composition's focus is upon the continuity of life from birth to marriage, with the implication that Arthur and Amy will find themselves before long signing another church's registry as the parents of an infant. Phiz's sense of the communal nature of the marriage ceremony is not suggested in Mahoney's reflective moment about the couple's escaping the prison of the past, of the tense Clennam household and the confines of the debtors' prison, to join the teaming life of the metropolis.No well-wishers are present in the 1873 illustration to break the reflective mood by providing the couple with a joyous send-off.
Relevant Illustrations of the Novel's Conclusion from Other Editions, 1857-1910
Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual study Casby and Pancks. Right: Harry Furniss's closing illustration (Book 2, Chapter 31), in which the reclusive Mrs. Clennam walks amidst the teaming life of a London street on the way to the Marshalsea, Mrs. Clennam Seeks Little Dorrit. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Phiz's June 1857 steel-engraving for the final, "double" number of the serial, The Third Volume of the Registers. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1999.
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Authentic Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1901 [rpt. 30 May 1857 volume].
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Sir John Gilbert. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1863. 4 vols.
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. 14 vols.
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by James Mahoney. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873. Vol. 5.
Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 12.
Hammerton, J. A. "Chapter 19: Little Dorrit." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. 18 vols. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. Vol. 17. Pp. 398-427.
Kitton, Frederic George. Dickens and His Illustrators: Cruikshank, Seymour, Buss, "Phiz," Cattermole, Leech, Doyle, Stanfield, Maclise, Tenniel, Frank Stone, Landseer, Palmer, Topham, Marcus Stone, and Luke Fildes. Amsterdam: S. Emmering, 1972. Re-print of the London 1899 edition.
Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.
Schlicke, Paul, ed. The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999.
Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.
Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1985.
Last modified 25 April 2016