The Blind Girl's Illusion by Luigi Rossi (67). 1912. 6 x 7.1 cm, vignetted. Dickens's The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home (A and F Pears edition). Most of the plates have titles in the "List of Illustrations" (11-12) that do not correspond to the captions beneath the illustrations themselves. Here, for example, a quotation augments the short title, and points to the exact moment that Rossi has illustrated: "'I love her, father;' . . . exclaimed the Blind Girl. And, saying so, she laid her poor blind face on Caleb's shoulder." (repeating a passage from the top of page 67).

Context of the Illustrations: The Consequences of Caleb's Deceit

"Our friend, father, our benefactor. I am never tired, you know, of hearing about him.—Now, was I ever?" she said hastily.

"Of course not," answered Caleb, "and with reason."

"Ah! With how much reason!" cried the Blind Girl. With such fervency, that Caleb, though his motives were so pure, could not endure to meet her face; but dropped his eyes, as if she could have read in them his innocent deceit.

"Then tell me again about him, dear father," said Bertha. "Many times again! His face is benevolent, kind, and tender. Honest and true, I am sure it is. The manly heart that tries to cloak all favours with a show of roughness and unwillingness, beats in its every look and glance."

"And makes it noble," added Caleb in his quiet desperation.

"And makes it noble," cried the Blind Girl. "He is older than May, father."

"Ye-es," said Caleb reluctantly. "He's a little older than May. But that don't signify."

"Oh, father, yes! To be his patient companion in infirmity and age; to be his gentle nurse in sickness, and his constant friend in suffering and sorrow; to know no weariness in working for his sake; to watch him, tend him, sit beside his bed and talk to him awake, and pray for him asleep; what privileges these would be! What opportunities for proving all her truth and her devotion to him! Would she do all this, dear father?"

"No doubt of it," said Caleb.

"I love her, father; I can love her from my soul!" exclaimed the Blind Girl. And, saying so, she laid her poor blind face on Caleb's shoulder, and so wept and wept, that he was almost sorry to have brought that tearful happiness upon her. ["Chirp the Second," 66-67]


Luigi Rossi often responds to the domestic melodrama's tender moments with small-scale illustrations such as The Blind Girl's Illusion without creating the sometimes awkward staginess of the earlier illustrators. Unfortunately, Rossi's artistic medium, the lithograph, cannot always effectively convey the illustrator's interpretation. Rossi has chosen to realise this intimate scene that follows Tackleton's inspection of his employees' workroom when he announces his impending marriage to the much younger May Fielding. Despite the fact that this is a small village, Bertha apparently does not actually know May, perhaps because they belong to very different classes. It is quite conceivable that the two young women, despite their mutual friend (Dot Peerybingle) have never met socially. The artist has chosen to emphasize Bertha's passionate interest in May's welfare in order to reinforce Dickens's suggestion that Bertha is herself in love with Tackleton, or, at least, her father's bogus notion of Tackleton as a benevolent force in their lives. Tackleton has, in fact, been quite insulting to Bertha, although her father has passed off his disparaging remarks as mere instances of his ironic humour.

Other Relevant illustrations from the 1845 and Later Editions

Left: Richard Doyle's whimsical rendition of the Plummers' hearthside labours of Chirp the Second (1845), which introduces these secondary characters after the opening scenes at the Peerybingles' cottage. Centre: John Leech's caricatural realisation of the toymakers in their workroom, Caleb at Work (1845). Right: Fred Barnard's realisation of Caleb and Bertha Plummer in their cottage parlour-cum-workroom, Caleb, Bertha, and Tackleton (1878).

E. A. Abbey's study of Bertha and her father at work on a dolls' house, "Halloo! Halloo! said Caleb. "I shall be vain presently!" (1876).

C. E. Brock's interpretation of the Plummers at work shows the shadow of a benign presence, that of their employer, hovering before Bertha in Headpiece for "Chirp the Second": "I see you, father," she said (1905).

Illustrations for the Other Volumes of the Pears' Centenary Christmas Books of Charles Dickens (1912)

Each contains about thirty illustrations from original drawings by Charles Green, R. I. — Clement Shorter [1912]

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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.

_____. Christmas Storiess. Illustrated by A. E. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.

_____. The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home. Illustrated by John Leech, Daniel Maclise, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield, and Edwin Landseer. Engraved by George Dalziel, Edward Dalziel, T. Williams, J. Thompson, R. Graves, and Joseph Swain. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1846 [December 1845].

_____. A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth. Illustrated by C. E. [Charles Edmund] Brock. London: J. M. Dent, 1905; New York: Dutton, rpt., 1963.

_____. The Cricket on the Hearth. Illustrated by L. Rossi. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

Created 20 April 2020

Last modified 23 May 2020