There were actually tears​ in the bold woman's eyes ​ as the soft-headed and soft-hearted girl twined her arms about her neck —​ James Mahoney's forty-seventh illustration for Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Household Edition (London), 1875. Wood engraving by the Dalziels, 10.5​cm high x 13.4 cm wide. The Harper and Brothers' caption for the same woodcut for the fourth​book's second​chapter, "The Golden Dustman Rises a Little," is different, but no more informative: "The credulous little creature again embraced Mrs. Lammle most affectionately" (275). The composite wood-engraving concerns Georgiana Podsnap's bursting into the breakfast-room of the Boffins to commiserate with the "dear" Lammles over their furniture having been sold to meet their promisory note to Pubsey & Co. (Fledgeby) and trying to come to Mrs. Lammles' aid financially. Boffin and his wife at this point are mere observers to the scene, the third principal figure in the breakfast-room being Alfred Lammle (left), looking much as he has done in previous illustrations. The couple's attempt to use their knowledge of Rokesmith's proposal to Bella to manipulate Boffin into discharging the secretary as a fortune-hunter and have Boffin replace him with Alfred Lammle (in order to advance their larger scheme of defrauding Boffin) has failed utterly. Knowing about their scheme, Boffin has just paid them a hundred-pound note for their "services" — and dismissed them. There is no comparable illustration in the original serial series by Marcus Stone. For a discussion of 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.]

Passage Reealised

"Oh, no, I didn't," cried Georgiana. "It's very impolite, I know, but I came to see my poor Sophronia, my only friend. Oh! how I felt the separation, my dear Sophronia, before I knew you were brought low in the world, and how much more I feel it now!"

There were actually tears in the bold woman's eyes, as the soft-headed and soft-hearted girl twined her arms about her neck.

"But I've come on business," said Georgiana, sobbing and drying her face, and then searching in a little reticule, "and if I don't despatch it I shall have come for nothing, and oh good gracious! what would Pa say if he knew of Sackville Street, and what would Ma say if she was kept waiting on the doorsteps of that dreadful turban, and there never were such pawing horses as ours unsettling my mind every moment more and more when I want more mind than I have got, by pawing up Mr. Boffin's street where they have no business to be. Oh! where is, where is it? Oh! I can't find it!" All this time sobbing, and searching in the little reticule.

"What do you miss, my dear?" asked Mr Boffin, stepping forward.

"Oh! it's little enough," replied Georgiana, "because Ma always treats me as if I was in the nursery (I am sure I wish I was!), but I hardly ever spend it and it has mounted up to fifteen pounds, Sophronia, and I hope three five-pound notes are better than nothing, though so little, so little! And now I have found that — oh, my goodness! there's the other gone next! Oh no, it isn't, here it is!'"

With that, always sobbing and searching in the reticule, Georgiana produced a necklace.

"Ma says chits and jewels have no business together," pursued Georgiana,​ "and that's the​reason why I have no trinkets except this, but I suppose my aunt Hawkinson was of a different opinion,​because she left me this, though I used to think she might just as well have buried it, for it's always kept​in jewellers' cotton. However, here it is, I am thankful to say, and of use at last, and you'll sell it, dear Sophronia, and buy things with it."

"Give it to me," said Mr. Boffin, gently taking it. "I'll see that it's properly disposed of."

"Oh! are you such a friend of Sophronia's, Mr. Boffin?" cried Georgiana. "Oh, how good of you! Oh, my gracious! there was something else, and it's gone out of my head! Oh no, it isn't, I remember what it was. My grandmamma's property, that'll come to me when I am of age, Mr. Boffin, will be all my own, and neither Pa nor Ma nor anybody else will have any control over it, and what I wish to do it so make some of it over somehow to Sophronia and Alfred, by signing something somewhere that'll prevail on somebody to advance them something. I want them to have something handsome to bring them up in the world again. Oh, my goodness me! Being such a friend of my dear Sophronia's, you won't refuse me, will you?"

"No, no," said Mr. Boffin, "it shall be seen to."

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" cried Georgiana. "If my maid had a little note and half a crown, I could run round to the pastrycook's to sign something, or I could sign something in the Square if somebody would come and cough for me to let 'em in with the key, and would bring a pen and ink with 'em and a bit of blotting-paper. Oh, my gracious! I must tear myself away, or Pa and Ma will both find out! Dear, dear Sophronia, good, good-bye!"

The credulous little creature again embraced Mrs. Lammle most affectionately, and then held out her hand to Mr. Lammle.

"Good-bye, dear Mr. Lammle — I mean Alfred. You won't think after to-day that I have deserted you and Sophronia because you have been brought low in the world, will you? Oh me! oh me! I have been crying my eyes out of my head, and Ma will be sure to ask me what's the matter. Oh, take me down, somebody, please, please, please!"

Mr. Boffin took her down, and saw her driven away, with her poor little red eyes and weak chin peering over the great apron of the custard-coloured phaeton, as if she had been ordered to expiate some childish misdemeanour by going to bed in the daylight, and were peeping over the counterpane in a miserable flutter of repentance and low spirits. Returning to the breakfast-room, he found Mrs. Lammle still standing on her side of the table, and Mr. Lammle on his. — Book Four, Chapter 2, "The Golden Dustman Rises a Little," p.​274.


Mahoney does not attempt to describe Georgiana Podsnap's expression, but merely renders her both short and possessing a disproportionately small head in order to suggest her child-like devotion to Sophronia and her mental vacuity. The real drama has already been enacted before the girl's entrance, as Boffin has confronted the Lammles about their confidence scheme and paid them off for supposedly unmasking Rokesmith, which Boffin describes as their "service." He makes sure that the couple do not even acquire the girl's three five-pound notes and heirloom necklace. Consequently, as the chapter title announces, "The Golden Dustman Rises a Little" in the reader's estimation.

This is our last view of the Lammles in Mahoney's narrative-pictorial sequence, and the picture essentially marks their defeat as confidence artists, confirming in the reader's mind that the fourth book of the novel will resolve the various plot-lines.​The group scene is rather different from those earlier illustrations involving the Lammles, the unmasking scene on the shore of the Isle of Wight — She sits upon her stone, and takes no heed of him, and the scene in which the Lammles persuade Georgiana that they are sympathetic friends.​The illustrator here is careful not to communicate the outcome of Boffin's confrontation as he has focussed on the later scene, after Boffin has given the swindlers their dismissal and their reward. And yet the illustrator shows them cool and self-possessed despite their potential victim's slipping out of their coils.

The Lammles in the original and later editions

Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's dual character study of the conniving couple, planning their strategy across the breakfast table in order to defraud Podsnap, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Lammle (1867). Right:​ Mahoney's earlier depiction of the Lammles' drawing Georgiana Podsnap into the scheme, Ah! Here was Alfred. Having stolen in unobserved, he playfully leaned on the back of Sophronia's chair. (Book Two, Chapter 4). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Above: Marcus Stone's interpretation of the scene on the Isle of Wight in which Sophronia and Alfred Lammle discover each other as impostors, The Happy Pair (July 1864). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 8 January 2016