So they walked, speaking of the newly filled-up grave, and of Johnny, and of many things (p. 222) — James Mahoney's thirty-ninth illustration for Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition (New York), 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 10.6 cm high x 13.3 cm wide. The Harper and Brothers woodcut for ninth chapter, "Somebody becomes the Subject of a Prediction," in the third book, "A Long Lane," has a very different caption than that in the Chapman and Hall volume, published that same year in London: "Oh, Mr. Rokesmith, don't be hard with me, don't be stern with me" (p. 221) — although the reference in each case is to a conversation between John Rokesmith as Boffin's secretary and the adopted Bella Wilfer, the quotations employed as captions affect the reception of the illustration. The American edition suggests a romantic and perhaps even flirtatious undertone to the conversation (an implication not reinforced by a reading of the text itself), whereas the British edition implies that weightier subjects are under discussion: "So, they walked, speaking of the newly filled-up grave, and of Johnny, and of many things" (p. 223). This is yet another of those illustrations possessing a different caption in the Chapman and Hall and Harper and Brothers versions of the same book, suggesting that, although the American publisher must have received a list of illustrations, but chose occasionally to deviate from the given wording, although the American edition contains no "List of Illustrations." Two further examples are Witnessing the Agreement and Mr. and Mrs. Lammle, both of which have much longer captions in the London text. For further differences, including the London and New York volumes having entirely different frontispieces, see The differences between the British and American printings of Mahoney's illustrations for Dickens's Our Mutual Friend.

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 Illustrated in Book 3, Chapter 9

As they spoke they were leaving the little street and emerging on the wooded landscape by the river.

"You think well of her, Mr. Rokesmith?" pursued Bella, conscious of making all the advances.

"I think highly of her."

"I am so glad of that! Something quite refined in her beauty, is there not?"

"Her appearance is very striking."

"There is a shade of sadness upon her that is quite touching. At least I — I am not setting up my own poor opinion, you know, Mr. Rokesmith," said Bella, excusing and explaining herself in a pretty shy way; "I am consulting you."

"I noticed that sadness. I hope it may not," said the Secretary in a lower voice, "be the result of the false accusation which has been retracted."

When they had passed on a little further without speaking, Bella, after stealing a glance or two at the Secretary, suddenly said:

"Oh, Mr. Rokesmith, don't be hard with me, don't be stern with me; be magnanimous! I want to talk with you on equal terms."

The Secretary as suddenly brightened, and returned: "Upon my honour I had no thought but for you. I forced myself to be constrained, lest you might misinterpret my being more natural. There. It's gone."

"Thank you," said Bella, holding out her little hand. "Forgive me." — Book Three, "A Long Lane"; Chapter 9, "Somebody Becomes the Subject of a Prediction," p. 221, the page before the illustration.

Bella met the steady look for a moment with a wistful, musing little look of her own, and then, nodding her pretty head several times, like a dimpled philosopher (of the very best school) who was moralizing on Life, heaved a little sigh, and gave up things in general for a bad job, as she had previously been inclined to give up herself.

But, for all that, they had a very pleasant walk. The trees were bare of leaves, and the river was bare of water-lilies; but the sky was not bare of its beautiful blue, and the water reflected it, and a delicious wind ran with the stream, touching the surface crisply. Perhaps the old mirror was never yet made by human hands, which, if all the images it has in its time reflected could pass across its surface again, would fail to reveal some scene of horror or distress. But the great serene mirror of the river seemed as if it might have reproduced all it had ever reflected between those placid banks, and brought nothing to the light save what was peaceful, pastoral, and blooming.

So, they walked, speaking of the newly filled-up grave, and of Johnny, and of many things. So, on their return, they met brisk Mrs. Milvey coming to seek them, with the agreeable intelligence that there was no fear for the village children, there being a Christian school in the village, and no worse Judaical interference with it than to plant its garden. So, they got back to the village as Lizzie Hexam was coming from the paper-mill, and Bella detached herself to speak with her in her own home. — Book Three, "A Long Lane"; Chapter 9, "Somebody Becomes the Subject of a Prediction," p. 223, the page after the illustration.


Despite the fact that it was his visual antecedent, the original edition illustrated by Marcus Stone in 1865 has several illustrations involving Bella Wilfer and the Boffins' secretary, John Rokesmith (in reality, John Harmon), this particular series of chapters in the third book does not contain an illustration involving the pair. Stone describes Bella and John while he is still a boarder in the Wilfer home — Pa's Lodger and Pa's Daughter (December 1864 instalment) and later, on the day of their wedding, The Wedding Dinner at Greenwich (August 1865 instalment). However, they are merely fashionably dressed, middle-class members of the middle class; and the remain so in Mahoney's 1875 program of illustration.

In the original thirteenth instalment (May 1865), Betty Higden dies in Lizzie Hexam's arms, and then the Reverend Frank Milvey and his wife arrive in company with the Boffins' Secretary and Bella Wilfer, who have brought the replacement adopted orphan, Sloppy, with them to attend Betty's funeral. Lizzie, who has taken a job at a paper mill on the upper Thames to escape both Eugene Wrayburn and Bradley Headstone, has impressed Bella with her depth of feeling in unburdening herself about her melancholy history. In fact, her appreciation of Lizzie's situation has fundamentally changed her attitude towards life, Bella confides to Rokesmith. Instead of setting the scene in the mill town or with the Plashwater Weir as a backdrop, Mahoney provides continuity with the scene in which Betty died by emphasizing the leafless trees that recall the mournful setting of that illustration, and contribute to a sombre mood, which the downward glances of the couple in dark clothing reinforce.

John and Bella appear with other characters in the 1867 Diamond Edition by Sol Eytinge, Jr., the second among American illustrators of Our Mutual Friend, but not together, and do not appear in the Sheldon and Company (New York) Household Edition's 1866 frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and John Gilbert.

Bella and the Secretary in the original and later editions, 1865-1875

Left: Marcus Stone's December 1864 serial illustration of the hero and heroine of the romance, Pa's Lodger and Pa's Daughter.​ Centre: Sol Eytinge, Junior's study of the​ hero with several identities, John Harmon (1867). Right: Eytinge's charming, short-haired Bella, animated by her joy at spoiling her father, The Cherub and the Lovely Woman. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Marcus Stone's lacklustre interpretation of ​the celebration of John and Bella's wedding, The Wedding Dinner at Greenwich (Part 16, August 1865). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 1 January 2016