In anticipation of Dickens's long-awaited 1867-68 reading tour, which had been postponed by the American Civil War, the Boston publisher James T. Fields had commissioned from Sol Eytinge, Jr., ninety-six designs for wood-engravings to grace the pages of the exhaustive Diamond Edition of Dickens's works, each volume being of compact dimensions with very fine but sharp type suitable for railway reading. This volume, moreover, reflected back upon Dickens's less than triumphant initial visit to American shores twenty-five years earlier since it contains so many American characters, or, perhaps one should more accurately say, "grotesques." Even the novel's "young Quixote" and his "Cockney Sancho," Martin Chuzzlewit and Mark Tapley, Eytinge visually describes in an American context, as they stand before their log cabin in the dubiously named "Eden" on the banks of the mosquito-infested Mississippi.
Although these dual character studies may seem less lively and certainly lacking in the sorts of emblematic detail commonly found in the original serial illustrations of Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"), American journalist William Winter in his autobiography recalls that Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s illustrations for Dickens's works issued in The Diamond Edition in the autumn of 1867, "gained the emphatic approval of the novelist" (318). Of course, the writer and illustrator did not actively collaborate on this series, as did Phiz and Dickens for so many of the full-scale novels in nineteen monthly parts, including with the illustrations for the Chapman and Hall Martin Chuzzlewit in 1843-44.
Of the customary sixteen illustrations that Eytinge has provided for this volume of the Diamond Edition, four concern characters whom the protagonist encounters in the American chapters. Although minor characters, they are admittedly memorable to all readers, and must have been of special interest to American readers on the eve of Dickens's second American reading tour. Although Eytinge has represented a total of seven Americans, he has neglected the one for whom Dickens reserves unqualified praise, the intellectual and unpretentious Massachusetts physician, Mr. Bevan, a figure whom Dickens modeled on such praiseworthy Yankees — especially from the perspective of defending international copyright — as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harvard Professor Cornelius Felton, anti-slavery activist and Anglophile Richard Henry Dana, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and writer Washington Irving, all of whom welcomed Dickens enthusiastically on his first American reading tour, 22 January — 2 June, 1842. (The other figure missing from the American gallery of rogues and charlatans is the honest, cheerful former slave Cicero, whose presence in the 1867 series might well have reminded Southerners of their region's failure to gain autonomy in the recent Civil War, one of its chief causes being the issue of slavery in the Southern states.) However, Eytinge may be forgiven for omitting the rather bland Dr. Bevan as this character offers no notable features or foibles for a visual satirist, nor even yet much of a personality for an artist who specialised in revealing the nature of character through facial features and posture. Studying these images against the original serial sequence which Phiz devised for the serial novel between January 1843 and July 1844, one can see that Eytinge did not allow his conceptions to be entirely conditioned by those of Hablot Knight Browne, the exceptions being the bald Tom Pinch, the sanctimonious Seth Pecksniff, whose distinctive tonsure Eytinge must have felt compelled to duplicate, and the confidence man with the military moustache, Montague Tigg (or, "Tigg Montague"); the rest of the cast in Eytinge's narrative-pictorial sequence are indeed "American Originals."
The most appropriate pictures that have been made for illustration of the novels of Dickens, — pictures that are truly representative and free from the element of caricature, — are those made by Eytinge. . . . [Winter, 317-318]
- "The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit" [ The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit] Tom Pinch
- "Mr. Pecksniff and his Daughters"
- "The landlady of The Blue Dragon"
- "Montague Tigg and Chevy Slyme"
- "Colonel Diver and Jefferson Brick"
- "Anthony and Jonas Chuzzlewit and Chuffey"
- "General Choke and Mr. Scadder"
- "Martin Chuzzlewit and Mark Tapley"
- "Mr. Nadgett"
- "Mr. Bailey and Poll Sweedlepipe"
- "Sairey Gamp and Betsey Prigg"
- "Mrs. Todgers and Mr. Moddle"
- "Hannibal Chollop"
- "Elijah Pogram and Mrs. Hominy"
- "Old Martin and Mary"
- "John Westlock and Ruth Pinch"
Schlicke, Paul, ed. The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999.
Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. Engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
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.
Winter, William. "Charles Dickens" and "Sol Eytinge." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 181-202, 317-319.
Last modified 30 April 2012