Jonas Chuzzlewit and Montagu Tigg by Harry Furniss in The Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) — from Chapter 38, "Secret Service."​ 9 cm by 14.3 cm, vignetted), facing VII, 609.

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Passage Illustrated

"I am unfortunate to find you in this humour," said Tigg, with a remarkable kind of smile: "for I was going to propose to you — for your own advantage; solely for your own advantage — that you should venture a little more with us."

"Was you, by G —?" said Jonas, with a short laugh.

"Yes. And to suggest," pursued Montague, "that surely you have friends; indeed, I know you have; who would answer our purpose admirably, and whom we should be delighted to receive."

"How kind of you! You'd be delighted to receive 'em, would you?" said Jonas, bantering.

"I give you my sacred honour, quite transported. As your friends, observe!"

"Exactly," said Jonas; "as my friends, of course. You'll be very much delighted when you get 'em, I have no doubt. And it'll be all to my advantage, won't it?"

"It will be very much to your advantage," answered Montague, poising a brush in each hand, and looking steadily upon him. "It will be very much to your advantage, I assure you."

"And you can tell me how," said Jonas, "can't you?"

"Shall I tell you how?" returned the other. [Chapter 38, "Secret Service," 617-18: the picture's original caption has been emphasized]

Commentary: Miserable Jonas, Secretive Nadgett, and Merry Montague

The object of detective Nagett's investigations is not the large-scale swindler Montagu Tigg — the self-styled Director of the Anglo-Bengalee Disinterested Loan and Life Insurance Company — but the surly, avaricious Jonas Chuzzlewit. The passage describing his particular interest in Jonas faces the illustration in which Jonas almost snarls at the financier as Tigg (now, "Mr. Montagu") brushes his unruly hair while Mr. Nadgett warms himself by the fire in this lavishly decorated room that is an extension of Tigg's flamboyant personality. The hyperbolic figures of Jonas and Montague are Furniss's revisions of their less dramatic counterparts in the February 1844 serial illustration Mr. Nadgett Breathes, as Usual, an Atmosphere of Mystery in serial Part 14, Chapter 38 (see below), and elaborated by seventies illustrator Fred Barnard in the The Household Edition illustration Mr. Nadgett produces the result of his private enquiries (see below).​ The conversation between the swindler and the putative murderer in Chapter 38 might be better characterized as Jonas Chuzzlewit and Tigg Montague since the confidence man has now reversed his surname and his Christian name to start life over.

Over the course of a number of illustrated editions of The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) one finds several representations of this crucial scene in the Jonas Chuzzlewit/Montague Tigg plot, Dickens's exposé on the life-insurance and investment sector, rampant with fraud and corporate collapses due to the nefarious activities of such confidence men as the chameleon-like indigent Montague Tigg who has transformed himself into a captain of industry, Tigg Montague. To assure himself of Jonas's compliance in his scheme to defraud thousands of investors, the Director of the Anglo-Bengalee has hired a private detective, convincingly realised by Sol Eytinge, Jr. in the 1867 Diamond Edition.​ Barnard in the 1872 transatlantic Household Edition​describes the confidential meeting that precedes Tigg's blackmailing Jonas with the secret knowledge that he has poisoned his father in order to inherit the family business. The original illustration in the 1843-44 serial by Hablot Knight Browne shows a much deflated Jonas after Tigg has whispered the secret that would be Jonas's undoing, whereas Furniss has attempted to capture the moments just prior to the revelation. Nadgett in both the Phiz and Furniss plates keeps out of the way, but overhears everything that the pair say as he carefully observes the guilty partner's reaction.

The Furniss illustration juxtaposes the savage, angular Jonas in a business suit and the cheerful, self-confident Tigg in a floral dressing-gown. Whereas Jonas is downcast in the original Phiz steel-engraving for February 1844 as the tranquil Tigg, in shirt-sleeves, matter-of-factly brushes his hair before a mirror on his dresser; Jonas, meanwhile, has just learned what confidential information about him Tigg has acquired from his private detective, Nadgett (standing before the fireplace). Revising the Phiz original, Furniss moves the reader in for a close-up and sharpens the contrast between the principal figures, making Tigg ebullient as he sits (rather than stands) at his dressing-table, and Jonas angry as he sits, confronting him rather than turning away. The monocled financier sees right through the surly Jonas, knowing and exploiting his vulnerability. The confidence man here is about to spring his trap and bring Jonas firmly within his gri

Related Materials: Background, Setting, and Characterization

Other Programs of Illustration, 1843-1923

Relevant Illustrations, 1843-1872

Left: Phiz's version of the interview between Tigg Montague and Jonas Chuzzlewit, realizing the moment when the swindler utters the word "poison," Mr. Nadgett Breathes, as Usual, an Atmosphere of Mystery (Chapter 38, February 1844). Centre: Felix Octavius Carr Darley's companion study of Seth Pecksniff and Montague Tigg in the opening chapters, when the military-looking sharper is continually cadging loans for Chevy Slyme, And was straightway let down stairs (Frontispiece, Vol. 1, 1862). Right: Eytinge's perceptive portrait of the shabby, secretive, and observative private detective, Mr. Nadgett (Chapter 27, 1867).

Above: Barnard's realisation of the scene prior to Jonas's arrival, when he delivers his confidential report on Jonas as a poisoner to his client, Mr. Nadgett produces the result of his private inquiries​(1872).


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Created 1 February 2016

Last modified 23 January 2020