Bleak House, Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910), facing XI, 161. Original caption: [Click on the images to enlarge them.](125) — Chapter 11, 3 ½ by 5 ¾ inches (9.3 cm high x 14.6 cm wide), vignetted, ninth illustration in Charles Dickens's
Passage Illustrated: Jo the Sweeper testifies at the Coroner's Court
Says the coroner, is that boy here? Says the beadle, no, sir, he is not here. Says the coroner, go and fetch him then. In the absence of the active and intelligent, the coroner converses with Mr. Tulkinghorn.
Oh! Here's the boy, gentlemen!
Here he is, very muddy, very hoarse, very ragged. Now, boy! But stop a minute. Caution. This boy must be put through a few preliminary paces.
Name, Jo. Nothing else that he knows on. Don't know that everybody has two names. Never heerd of sich a think. Don't know that Jo is short for a longer name. Thinks it long enough for him. He don't find no fault with it. Spell it? No. He can't spell it. No father, no mother, no friends. Never been to school. What's home? Knows a broom's a broom, and knows it's wicked to tell a lie. Don't recollect who told him about the broom or about the lie, but knows both. Can't exactly say what'll be done to him arter he's dead if he tells a lie to the gentlemen here, but believes it'll be something wery bad to punish him, and serve him right — and so he'll tell the truth.
"This won't do, gentlemen!" says the coroner with a melancholy shake of the head.
"Don't you think you can receive his evidence, sir?" asks an attentive juryman.
"Out of the question," says the coroner. "You have heard the boy. 'Can't exactly say' won't do, you know. We can't take that in a court of justice, gentlemen. It's terrible depravity. Put the boy aside."
Boy put aside, to the great edification of the audience, especially of Little Swills, the comic vocalist.
Now. Is there any other witness? No other witness. [Chapter XI, "Our Dear Brother," 149]
Jo's ragged condition and filthy surroundings, somewhere in St. Giles or Drury Lane, prepare us for his role in the novel as a carrier of the smallpox that infects Esther Summerson in Chapter 31. The scene in which Furniss introduces this pivotal character emphasizes his disadvantaged background: illiterate, poorly paid, vagrant, and unprotected, he epitomizes the Darwinian struggle for survival on the mean streets of the metropolis, of whose governance and middle-class usages he is utterly ignorant. Furniss diminishes Jo even further by juxtaposing his slight figure against the enormous girth of the over-fed, imposing parish Beadle, who theoretically presides over the Coroner's jury in the Sol's Arms.
Other Editions' Illustrations involving the pathetic Crossing Sweeper
Left: Kyd's Player's Cigarette Card No. 50, Jo the Crossing-Sweeper (1910). Left of centre: Phiz's original illustration involving Jo: Engraved Title-page (September 1853). Centre, for the fifth monthly part, Phiz's On Consecrated Ground (Ch. 16: July 1852). Right, for the Diamond Edition, Sol Eytinge, Jr., provided this portrait of the hapless street-urchin for Chapter 12: Jo (1867).
Above: Fred Barnard's Household Edition version of the scene shows Tulkinghorn and the Coroner expressing some sympathy for Jo, even though they have refused to admit his testimony because he "can't say": "He wos wery good to me, he wos!" (1873).
Related Material, including Other Illustrated Editions of Bleak House
- Bleak House (homepage)
- Phiz's Illustrations for Bleak House (March 1852 - September 1853)
- Sir John Gilbert's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 1, 1863)
- O. C. Darley's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 2, 1863)
- O. C. Darley's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 3, 1863)
- O. C. Darley's Frontispiece in the New York edition (Vol. 4, 1863)
- Sol Eytinge, Junior's 16 Diamond Edition Illustrations (1867)
- Fred Barnard's 61 illustrations for the Household Edition (1872)
- Kyd's five Player's Cigarette Cards, 1910
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.]
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.
"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.
The Characters of Charles Dickens pourtrayed in a series of original watercolours by "Kyd." London, Paris, and New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, n. d.
Darley, Felix Octavius Carr. Character Sketches from Dickens. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1888.
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, with 61 illustrations by Fred Barnard. Household Edition. 21 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873. IV.
_______. Bleak House. Illustrated by Harry Furniss [28 original lithographs]. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. XI.
Hammerton, J. A. "Chapter 18: Bleak House." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. XVII. 366-97.
Kyd [Clayton J. Clarke]. Characters from Dickens. Nottingham: John Player & Sons, 1910.
Vann, J. Don. "Bleak House, twenty parts in nineteen monthly instalments, March 1852 — September 1853." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985. 69.
Created 28 February 2021