"What a good fellow you are, Clennam!" (See page 206), — Book I, chap. 34, is the full title as given in the Chapman and Hall printing. Sixties' illustrator James Mahoney's twenty-eighth illustration for Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Household Edition, 1873. Wood-engraving by the Dalziels, 9.4 cm high by 13.7 cm wide, p. 201, framed, under the running head "Mrs. Merdle's Son and Mrs. Gowan's." [Click on the 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

[Said Henry Gowan, the dilettante, socialite-artist and Minnie's fiané] . . . .Between you and me, I think there is some danger of my being just enough soured not to be able to do that."

"To do what?" asked Clennam.

"To keep it up. To help myself in my turn, as the man before me helps himself in his, and pass the bottle of smoke. To keep up the pretence as to labour, and study, and patience, and being devoted to my art, and giving up many solitary days to it, and abandoning many pleasures for it, and living in it, and all the rest of it — in short, to pass the bottle of smoke according to rule."

"But it is well for a man to respect his own vocation, whatever it is; and to think himself bound to uphold it, and to claim for it the respect it deserves; is it not?" Arthur reasoned. "And your vocation, Gowan, may really demand this suit and service. I confess I should have thought that all Art did."

"What a good fellow you are, Clennam!" exclaimed the other, stopping to look at him, as if with irrepressible admiration. "What a capital fellow! You have never been disappointed. That's easy to see."

It would have been so cruel if he had meant it, that Clennam firmly resolved to believe he did not mean it. — Book the First, "Poverty," Chapter 34, "A Shoal of Barnacles," p. 206.


The title is somewhat longer in the New York (Harper and Brothers) printing: "What a good fellow you are, Clennam!" exclaimed the other stopping to look at him, as if with irrepressible admiration. "What a capital fellow! You have never been disappointed. That's easy to see." — Book 1, chap. xxxiv. In the original serial illustrations by Phiz provided, the previous chapter had an engraving which illustrated Mrs. Gowan's seeking the counsel of Mrs. Merdle about her son's forthcoming marriage to the daughter of a rich bourgeois, Mr. Meagles — Society Expresses its Views on a Question of Marriage (Part 10: September 1856). Instead, Mahoney shows Arthur's apparent despondency occasioned by the marriage and Henry Gowan's lack of perceptiveness as to what is responsible for his friend's depression. Henry Gowan protests that in his profession and in his art he is a disappointed man, and that, although his father-in-law will pay all his debts, he does not feel one whit less disappointed even as his wedding approaches. Nevertheless, in the illustration he seems serene and cheerful when placed alongside Arthur Clennam, who had thought to marry Pet Meagles himself, and who has grave doubts about Henry's being the right sort of man for her. The illustration is interestingly juxtaposed against the text of Chapter 33, when Henry's mother in her visit to Mrs. Merdle expresses her intention, despite the discrepancy socially between the class of the bride and the class of the groom, to "resign herself to inevitable fate, by making the best of those people the Miggleses" (199). Henry exhibits here what Dickens terms "his usual ease, and with his usual show of confidence, which was no confidence at all" (205). Does Henry, Clennam wonders silently, have the capacity to love anyone but himself? The full title of the illustration, therefore, underscores the irony of Henry's failing to see that Arthur Clennam is the genuinely disappointed man, and that he, Henry Gowan, is a mere poser.

In Mahoney's illustration, set near the Cottage within a week of the wedding, Arthur Clennam is still wearing the same respectable, dark business suit (with tail-coat) and top-hat seen in his parting from Minnie (Pet Meagles), Minnie was there, alone (Ch. 28), whereas prospective bridegroom Henry Gowan in white from head to foot is much more fashionably bohemian (as becomes his status as an artist) in clothing quite different from his rather more formal attire as seen in As Arthur Came over the stile and down to the water's edge, the lounger glanced at him for a moment, and then resumed his occupation of idly tossing stones into the water with his foot (Ch. 17), although Henry is still attended by his dog and the setting is still the banks of the Thames at Twickenham in the summer, as depicted in several of Phiz's atmospheric landscapes, notably the scene in which Gowan and Clennam first meet, The Ferry (Part 5: April 1856).

Pictures of Henry Gowan and Arthur Clennam from other 19th c. editions

Left: Phiz's original marriage advice scene, Society Expresses its Views on a Question of Marriage (Part 10: September 1856). Centre: Sol Eytinge, Juniuor's study in contrasts, the timid bride with her affected husband, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gowan (1867). Right: Felix Octavius Carr Darley's engraved frontispiece for the second volume in the Sheldon and Company (New York) Household Edition, Joyful Tidings — Bopok I, Ch. XXXV. (1863). [Click on images to enlarge them.]


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Last modified 7 June 2016