Little Dorrit, Household Edition, 1873. Wood-engraving by the Dalziels, 9.4 cm high by 13.6 cm wide, framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.](See page 256), — Book II, chap. 6, Sixties' illustrator James Mahoney's thirty-fifth illustration in the Chapman and Hall Household Edition volume of Charles Dickens's
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.]
The Merman with his light was ready at the box-door, and other Mermen with other lights were ready at many of the doors. The Dorrit Merman held his lantern low, to show the steps, and Mr. Sparkler put on another heavy set of fetters over his former set, as he watched her radiant feet twinkling down the stairs beside him. Among the loiterers here, was Blandois of Paris. He spoke, and moved forward beside Fanny.
Little Dorrit was in front with her brother and Mrs. General (Mr. Dorrit had remained at home), but on the brink of the quay they all came together. She started again to find Blandois close to her, handing Fanny into the boat.
"Gowan has had a loss," he said, "since he was made happy to-day by a visit from fair ladies."
"A loss?" repeated Fanny, relinquished by the bereaved Sparkler, and taking her seat.
"A loss," said Blandois. "His dog, Lion."
Little Dorrit's hand was in his, as he spoke.
"He is dead," said Blandois.
"Dead?" echoed Little Dorrit. "That noble dog?"
"Faith, dear ladies!" said Blandois, smiling and shrugging his shoulders, "somebody has poisoned that noble dog. He is as dead as the Doges!" — Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 6, "Something Right Somewhere," p. 256.
The Mahoney woodcut in the New York (Harper and Brothers, New York) edition has a longer caption:— Book 2, chap. vi. The emphasis in the illustration is divided between the black-clad Blandois and the angelic Amy, all in white. Fanny, Mrs. General, and the monocled Tip (Edward) are to the right.
Whereas Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), the original serial illustrator, in Instinct Stronger than Learning (Part 12: November 1856) had as his first illustration for the chapter set in Venice the dramatic scene in the studio of Henry Gowan above a bank on an islet, providing little local colour but describing well the characters of the artist and the murderer, Blandois, the other illustrators of the novel at this point have been sure to include a gondola (the comic pratfalls of Edmund Sparkler in the original Phiz illustration Mr. Sparkler under a Reverse of Circumstances being Furniss's direct source of inspiration) to make the most of the exotic Italian setting. However, Mahoney's using the text of the closing of the chapter as his subject allows him to complement the original serial illustration by focussing on Blandois' comment that somebody (undoubtedly himself) has poisoned Lion, Gowan's great-hearted dog, whereas Furniss elected to focus on physical comedy.
With the judicious use of chiaroscuro, James Mahoney makes us the see the scene on the Venetian quay intensely, throwing Blandois' face and the flagstones into the light from the gondolier's lantern (left), and placing the tether-post and rope prominently in the foreground, while in the background a domed church (possibly San Michele in Isola) establishes the presence of the Renaissance city.
Pertinent illustrations in other early editions, 1867 to 1910
Left: Eytinge, Junior's dual study of the delicate, tentative bride and the boorish artist-husband, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gowan (1867). Right: The Harry Furniss realisation of the gondola scene at the quay later that same day, as Fanny attempts to put the obtuse Edmund Sparker in his place, Miss Fanny meets an acquaintance (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: Phiz's dramatic rendering of Henry Gowan's trying to restrain his dog from attacking his model, Blabdois, Instinct Stronger than Training (November 1856). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
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Last modified 12 May 2016