"I have frightened you!" she said — eighteenth illustration by Fred Barnard in the Household Edition (1873). 10.8 cm high by 13.8 cm wide (4 ¼ by 5 ½ inches), framed, p. 117. Chapter 18. Running head: "Esther's Pictures of Herself" (129). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: A Fateful Meeting by Chance at Chesney Wold

Eytinge's study the wards in the frontispiece of the Diamond Edition: Mr. Jarndyce and his Wards (1867).

The beating of my heart came back again. I had never heard the voice, as I had never seen the face, but it affected me in the same strange way. Again, in a moment, there arose before my mind innumerable pictures of myself.

Lady Dedlock had taken shelter in the lodge before our arrival there and had come out of the gloom within. She stood behind my chair with her hand upon it. I saw her with her hand close to my shoulder when I turned my head.

"I have frightened you?" she said.

No. It was not fright. Why should I be frightened!

"I believe," said Lady Dedlock to my guardian, "I have the pleasure of speaking to Mr. Jarndyce."

"Your remembrance does me more honour than I had supposed it would, Lady Dedlock," he returned.

"I recognized you in church on Sunday. I am sorry that any local disputes of Sir Leicester's — they are not of his seeking, however, I believe — should render it a matter of some absurd difficulty to show you any attention here." [Chapter XVIII, "Lady Dedlock," 129]

Commentary: A Sudden Recognition

We arrived at his house on a Saturday. On the Sunday morning we all set forth to walk to the little church in the park. Entering the park, almost immediately by the disputed ground, we pursued a pleasant footpath winding among the verdant turf and the beautiful trees until it brought us to the church-porch. [Chapter XVIII, "Lady Dedlock," 126]

On the Saturday following their observing the Dedlocks in the little church on the park, the elderly guardian, Mr. Jarndyce (left in Barnard's illustration), Richard (not depicted), Ada, and Esther (centre) take refuge from a sudden spring storm, and encounter Lady Dedlock (right) in the porch of an old game-keeper's lodge on the estate.

Dickens has provided plenty of material for an illustrator to convey the picturesque backdrop of what we might term the "recognition scene" effectively, but Phiz in September 1852 had elected to depict the crowded scene in the parish church a week earlier instead of the accidental meeting of Esther and the woman who, it turns out, is her mother:

The weather had been all the week extremely sultry, but the storm broke so suddenly — upon us, at least, in that sheltered spot—that before we reached the outskirts of the wood the thunder and lightning were frequent and the rain came plunging through the leaves as if every drop were a great leaden bead. As it was not a time for standing among trees, we ran out of the wood, and up and down the moss-grown steps which crossed the plantation-fence like two broad-staved ladders placed back to back, and made for a keeper's lodge which was close at hand. We had often noticed the dark beauty of this lodge standing in a deep twilight of trees, and how the ivy clustered over it, and how there was a steep hollow near, where we had once seen the keeper's dog dive down into the fern as if it were water.

The lodge was so dark within, now the sky was overcast, that we only clearly saw the man who came to the door when we took shelter there and put two chairs for Ada and me. The lattice-windows were all thrown open, and we sat just within the doorway watching the storm. It was grand to see how the wind awoke, and bent the trees, and drove the rain before it like a cloud of smoke; and to hear the solemn thunder and to see the lightning; and while thinking with awe of the tremendous powers by which our little lives are encompassed, to consider how beneficent they are and how upon the smallest flower and leaf there was already a freshness poured from all this seeming rage which seemed to make creation new again. [Chapter XVIII, "Lady Dedlock," 128]

Barnard had the precedent of Phiz's illustration for this chapter, but elected instead to realise the critical moment in the plot which brings together the supposed orphan and her mother, although the significance of this narrative moment will only be apparent much later in the novel as Dickens will reveal Lady Dedlock and Captain Hawdon (the erstwhile law-writer "Nemo") to be Esther's parents. Thus, Barnard has chosen to flag a passage that the alert reader should attend to, examining the language that Esther, in retrospect, uses to describe the encounter. As it is an extremely important point in the narrator's life, Dickens has Esther recall it in vivid detail: the inclement weather, the onset of the sudden storm,and the open windows of the gamekeeper's lodge in the park. Dickens in his plotting inmtensifies the chance nature of the encounter by bringing the Dedlocks back from France and the wards down to Lincolnshire to visit Jarndyce's lifelong friend Boythorn, the Dedlock's fractious neighbour.

Other Illustrations for Chapter XVIII (1852-1910)

Left: Phiz's original serial illustration of the Dedlocks in their parish church at Chesney Wold, attending the service from their private pew: The Little Church in the Park (August 1852). Right: Harry Furniss's 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition full-page lithograph of the scene when the Dedlocks depart for home after the service: The Deadlocks leaving the Church.

Related Material, including Other Illustrated Editions of Bleak House

Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary 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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


"Bleak House — Sixty-one 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.

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. New York: Sheldon and Company, 1863. Vols. 1-4.

_______. Bleak House. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr, and engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. VI.

_______. Bleak House, with 61 illustrations by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873. IV.

_______. Bleak House. Illustrated by Harry Furniss [28 original lithographs]. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. Vol. 11.​ London: Educational Book, 1910.

_______. Bleak House, ed. Norman Page. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971.

Hammerton, J. A. "Chapter 18: Bleak House." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. XVII, 366-97.

Vann, J. Don. "Bleak House, twenty parts in nineteen monthly instalments, October 1846—April 1848." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1985. 69-70.

Created 4 March 2021