Puts his hand on his bald head again, under this new verbal shower-bath — thirty-sixth illustration by Fred Barnard in the Household Edition (1873). 10.5 cm high by 13.8 cm wide (4 ⅛ by 5 ⅜ inches), framed, p. 237. Chapter 34. Running head: "Taken in Hand by Mr. Tulkinghorn" (243). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated

"Sergeant," the lawyer proceeds in his dry passionless manner, far more  hopeless in the dealing with than any amount of vehemence, "make up your mind while I  speak to you, for this is final. After I have finished speaking I have closed the subject, and I won't re-open it. Understand that. You can leave here, for a few days, what you say you have brought here if you choose; you can take it away at once if you choose. In case you choose to leave it here, I can do this for you—I can replace this matter on its old footing, and I can go so far besides as to give you a written undertaking that this man Bagnet shall never be troubled in any way until you have been proceeded against to the utmost, that your means shall be exhausted before the creditor looks to his. This is in fact all but freeing him. Have you decided?"

The trooper puts his hand into his breast and answers with a long breath, "I must do it, sir."

So Mr. Tulkinghorn, putting on his spectacles, sits down and writes the undertaking,  which he slowly reads and explains to Bagnet, who has all this time been staring at the  ceiling and who puts his hand on his bald head again, under this new verbal shower-bath,  and seems exceedingly in need of the old girl through whom to express his sentiments. The trooper then takes from his breast-pocket a folded paper, which he lays with an unwilling hand at the lawyer's elbow. "'Tis only a letter of instructions, sir. The last I ever had from him." [Chapter XXXIV, "A Turn of the Screw," 243]


Matthew Bagnet and George Rouncewell meet with Mr. Tulkinghorn in his offices at Lincoln's Inn Fields after Joshua Smallweed has turfed them out: he and then the lawyer turn the screw on the military men in order to extract Hawdon's handwritten  documents. If George does not capitulate, Tulkinghorn will sue Bagnet for the principal  and interest of George's loan.

The scene follows Mrs. Roucewell's leaving her consultation with the old attorney in his inner office. In departing through the outer office, the Dedlocks' housekeeper at Chesney Wold has failed to recognize her estranged son, who has kept his back to her, as if studying something mounted on the wall. Tulkinghorn reveals himself to be entirely without scruple or sympathy as he is quite prepared to sue the hapless Bagnet since he is the cosigner to George's loan and George cannot lay his hands on the funds necessary to pay Smallweed out. This is our first assessment of Tulkinghorn as merciless, predatory, and determined, and therefore conditions our response to his murder.

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.

Collins, Philip. Dickens and Crime. London: Macmillan, 1964.

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 15 March 2021