The stranger, taking advantage of this fitful illumination of his visage, looked intently and wonderingly at him. — P. 179. Book I, chap. 30, "The Word of a Gentleman." Sixties' illustrator James Mahoney's twenty-fifth illustration for Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Household Edition, 1873. The full-page composite wood-block engraving by the Dalziels occurs facing p. 179 in the Chapman & Hall volume, with the running head The Stranger Surprised. 13.4 cm high x 17.4 cm wide, framed. Originally, this section appeared in Part IX — August 1856 (Chapters 30–32). This the third of the volume's full-page illustrations, underscoring the meeting of Mrs. Clennam's confidential servant, Jeremiah Flintwinch, and the villainous Rigaud, alias Blandois, this initial meeting of whom Phiz depicted in Mr. Flintwinch has a mild attack of irritability. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

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.]

Passage Illustrated

"I am afraid," said the stranger, "I must be so troublesome as to propose a candle."

"True," assented Jeremiah. "I was going to do so. Please to stand where you are while I get one."

The visitor was standing in the doorway, but turned a little into the gloom of the house as Mr. Flintwinch turned, and pursued him with his eyes into the little room, where he groped about for a phosphorus box. When he found it, it was damp, or otherwise out of order; and match after match that he struck into it lighted sufficiently to throw a dull glare about his groping face, and to sprinkle his hands with pale little spots of fire, but not sufficiently to light the candle. The stranger, taking advantage of this fitful illumination of his visage, looked intently and wonderingly at him. Jeremiah, when he at last lighted the candle, knew he had been doing this, by seeing the last shade of a lowering watchfulness clear away from his face, as it broke into the doubtful smile that was a large ingredient in its expression.

"Be so good," said Jeremiah, closing the house door, and taking a pretty sharp survey of the smiling visitor in his turn, "as to step into my counting-house. — Book the First, "Poverty," Chapter 30, "The Word of a Gentleman," p. 179.


Rigaud-Blandois arrives at the Clennam mansion with letters of credit, and immediately arousing the suspicion of Jeremiah Flintwinch. In contrast to Phiz's more humourous treatment of Blandois as a comic Gallic villain in the ninth serial part, Mr. Flintwinch has a mild Attack of Irratibility in the background, placing the emphasis on the comic, Punch-and-Judy husband and wife, Mahoney develops the scene from the Frenchman's point of view, thrusting Flintwinch into the lighted background, eliminating Affery entirely, and minimizing the ponderous architectural elements of the mansion's porch (particular the ornamental head in the archway and the pensive caryatids that support the arch) in the upper register of Phiz's original steel engraving. Whereas Phiz, in comic mood, had treated all three figures as mere caricatures, Mahoney treats the two men seriously, offering no suggestion of Flintwinch's splenetic outburst. Realistically, Flintwinch is not wearing his hat as he enters from the counting-house.

Rigaud and the Flintwinches from Other Early Editions

Left: Phiz's original, Part 9 (August 1856) illustration of the meeting of Rigaud and Flintwinch, Mr. Flintwinch has a mild Attack of Irritability. Centre: Sol Eytinge, Junior's study of the irritable husband and his anxious wife, Mr.and Mrs. Flintwinch (1867). Right: The Darley frontispiece featuring Mrs. Clennam with Blandois and the Flintwinches, Closing in — Book II, Ch. XXX. (1863) [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


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Last modified 5 June 2016