Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Time, Part 12 (June 1858), Chapter 47, "A Note from Davis," facing 381.by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), twenty-fourth serial illustration and ninth dark plate for Charles Lever's
This appeared as the twenty-fourth serial illustration for Charles Lever's Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Time, steel-plate etching; 3 ⅝ by 5 ½ inches (9.7 cm high by 14 cm wide), framed. The story was serialised by Chapman and Hall in monthly parts, from July 1857 through April 1859. The twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth illustrations in the volume initially appeared in reverse order at the very beginning of the twelfth monthly instalment, which went on sale on 1 June 1858. This number included Chapters XLV through XLVII, and ran from 353 through 384.
Context of the Illustration: Annesley Beecher's Difficult Negotiation with a Money-lender
The man who held Grog's signature on a blank stamp assumed no common shape in Annesley Beecher's eyes, and he continued to gaze on the old man with a strange sense of awe and astonishment. If he had not the document there before him on the table, he would not have believed it. The trustful courage of Van Amburgh, who used to place his head in the lion's mouth, seemed poor in comparison with such heroic boldness as this; and he gazed at the writing in a sort of fascination.
“And Grog actually sent you that over by letter?” asked he again.
“Yaas, as you see,” was the calm answer.
“Well, here goes then, Abraham — Lazarus, I mean; make it out for a matter of — five — no, eight — hang it, let as say ten thousand florins when we are about it! Ten thousand, at six months, — eh?”
“Better at tree months, — we can always renew,” said Stein, calmly.
“Of course; and by that time we may want a little more liquor in the decanter, — eh! old boy?” said Beecher, laughing joyfully.
“To be sure, vaary mush more liquor as you want it.”
“What a brick!” said Beecher, clapping him on the shoulder in all the ecstasy of delight.
“Dere!” said the Jew, as he finished writing, “all is done; only to say where it be paid, — what bank at London.”
“Well, that is a bit of a puzzle, I must own!” said Beecher, rubbing his chin with an air of doubt and hesitation.
“Where do de Lord Lackington keep his account?” asked the Jew; and the question was so artfully posed that Beecher Answered promptly, —
“Harmer and Gore's, Lombard Street, or Pall Mall, whichever you like.”
“Hanper and Gore. I know dem vaary well, — that will do; you do sign your name dere.”
“I wish I could persuade you that Annesley Beecher would be enough, — eh?”
“You write de name as der Davis say, and no oder!”
“Here goes, then! 'In for a penny,' as the proverb says,” muttered he; and in a bold, dashing hand, wrote “Lackington” across the bill.
“Ah!” said the Jew, as he examined it with his glass, and scanned every letter over and over; “and now, vat you say for de Cuyp, and de Mieris, and de Ostade, — vill you take 'era all, as I say?”
“I 'll think over it, — I 'll reflect a bit first, Master Stein. As for pictures, they're rather an encumbrance when a man has n't a house to hang them in.”
“You have de vaary fine house in town, and an oder vaary fine house in de country, beside a what you call box — shoot-box —”
“Nothing of the kind, Lazarus. I haven't a thing as big as the crib we are standing in. Your mind is always running upon my brother; but there's a wide difference between our fortunes, I assure you. He drew the first ticket in the lottery of life; and, by the way, that reminds me of something in Grog's letter that I was to ask you.” And Beecher took the epistle from his pocket and ran his eye over it. “Ah! here it is! 'Ask Stein what are the average runs at rouge-et-noir, what are the signs of an intermitting game, and what are the longest runs he remembers on one color?' Can you answer me these?”
“Some of dem I have here,” said Stein, taking down from a shelf a small vellum-bound volume, fastened with a padlock and chain, the key of which he wore attached to his watch. “Here is de grand 'arcanum,'” said he, laughing; “here are de calculs made in de experience of forty-one year! Where is de man in Europe can say as mush as dat? In dis book is recounted de great game of de Duc de Brancas, where he broke de bank every night of de week till Saturday, — two million tree hundred tousand francs! Caumartin, the first croupier, shot hisself, and Nogeot go mad. He reckon de moneys in de casette, for when he say on Friday night, 'Monseigneur,' say he, 'we have not de full sum here, — there's one hundred and seventy tousand francs too little,' de Duc reply, 'Never mind, mon cher Monsieur Nogeot, I am noways pressed, — don't distress yourself, — only let it be pay before I go home to bed.' Nogeot lose his reason when he hear it. Ah! here is de whole 'Greschichte,' and here de table of chances.” [Chapter XLIV, "Lazarus Stein, Geldwechsler," 380-81 — Book II, Chapter IV]
Commentary: Grog Davis directs Beecher to contact the Jewish Money-Changer
Phiz has interspersed conventional engravings such as Dunn addressing the Mob (June 1858) with more sombre dark plates to provide tonal differences, but in this June number the regular engraving is superior in terms of clarity and epic sweep to the almost morbid interior scene in which Dunn, constrained financially, feels compelled to visit a money-lender.
While Dunn has been defending the Ossory Bank at Kilkenny against "a run for the gold," Annesley Beecher has had his own financial problems to contend with. Since the reader last encountered him, Annesley Beecher and Lizzie ("The Princess") Davis have fled Brussels for Aix-la-Chapelle after Grog Davis killed a young British officer in a duel. Davis has provided Beecher with a letter of introduction, but the cunning money-changer, Lazarus Stein, requires further surety. Grog Davis had apparently not anticipated such an impediment when from his hiding place at the Rhine village of Holbach fifteen miles away he despatched Beecher in a letter to procure several thousand Florins from a bureau de change in the Jewish quarter of Aix-la-Chapel. However, Stein demands that Beecher sign the bond as "Lackington" rather than in his own name. But perhaps, since Davis specifically mentions mathematical probabilities in rouge-et-noir, Beecher is the victim of plot between Stein and slippery Irish gambler:
As to yourself, you will, on receipt of this, call on a certain Lazarus Stein, Juden Gasse, Nov 41 or 42, and give him your acceptance for two thousand gulden, with which settle your hotel bill, and come on to Bonn, where, at the post-office, you will find a note, with my address.[Chapter XLIII, "A Letter from Davis," ]
As to yourself, you will, on receipt of this, call on a certain Lazarus Stein, Juden Gasse, Nov 41 or 42, and give him your acceptance for two thousand gulden, with which settle your hotel bill, and come on to Bonn, where, at the post-office, you will find a note, with my address. [Chapter XLIII, "A Letter from Davis," ]
Consequently, after Stein refuses to release the several thousand Florins (i. e., about two hundred pounds) to Beecher on his own signature, Beecher unwisely agrees to sign his brother's name ("Viscount Lackington") to the loan papers, a duplicitous act that is bound to have consequences for one of Lord Lackington's major debtors, Davenport Dunn. Lever describes the room in some detail prior to Beecher's attempting to negotiate the release of funds for Davis and hmself:
One sash of the little window lay open, and showed Beecher the figure of a very small old man, who, in a long dressing-gown of red-brown stuff, and a fez cap, was seated at a table, writing. A wooden tray in front of him was filled with dollars and gold pieces in long stately columns, and a heap of bank-notes lay pressed under a heavy leaden slab at his side. No sooner had Beecher's figure darkened the window than the old man looked up and came out to meet him, and, taking off his cap with a deep reverence, invited him to enter. If the size of the chamber, and its curious walls covered over with cabinet pictures, might have attracted Beecher's attention at another moment, all his wonderment, now, was for the little man himself, whose piercing black eyes, long beard, and hooked nose gave him an air of almost unearthly meaning. 
Lever mentions a number of paintings with which Stein tempts Beecher, despite the fact that, as Beecher himself remarks, he has no great house in which to display them: de Cuyp, de Ostade, Gerard Dow, Potter, de Mieris (either Frans van Mieris, the elder, 1635 -1681, or the genre painter Frans van Mieris the Younger, 1689-1763) he would, indeed, part with the lot for "eighty tousand seven hundred florins" (376), or eight thousand and seven pounds. Although these canvasses do not excite Beecher's interest in the least, the presence of these Dutch Masters in Stein's shop implies that he is far more than a mere money-changer or geldwechsler, for he is at least a pawnbroker and at worst a fence, or receiver of stolen goods. Whereas Lever mentions six paintings, Phiz has depicted seven in ornate, Victorian frames, crowded together on the wall immediately behind the venerable businessman.
Lever's explicit descriptions served as Phiz's guides to the contents of the cluttered room. The intense shadows in the jeweller, pawnbroker, and money-lender's room portend nothing good for the gambler and blade of the Turf who has signed his older brother's name to bonds for several thousand Florins (for Grog Davis) and a thousand pounds for his purchase of Stein's "cabal," a volume containing forty years of his records about combinations that could break the bank at a casino. This "small vellum-bound volume, fastened with a padlock and chain" (381) is the grand arcanum that will supposedly enable Beecher to make long run at rouge-et-noir; at this point, before Beecher brings up the subject that Grog had mentioned, this must be among the books on the shelf behind Stein. To obtain this rarity, Beecher signs the name "Lackington" for a thousand-pound bond.
- Dark Plate Etchings for Davenport Dunn
- Dark Plate Etchings for Bleak House
- Dark Plate Etchings for Mervyn Clitheroe
- "Phiz" — artist, wood-engraver, etcher, and printer
- Etching, Wood-engraving, or Lithography in Phiz's Illustrations for A Tale of Two Cities?
Scanned image by Simon Cooke; 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.] Click on the image to enlarge it.
Brown, John Buchanan. Phiz! Illustrator of Dickens' World. New York: Charles Scribner's, 1978.
Lever, Charles. Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Day. Illustrated by "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne). London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
Lever, Charles. Davenport Dunn: The Man of The Day. Illustrated by "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne). London: Chapman and Hall, June 1858 (Part XII).
Created 31 July 2019
Last modified 6 July 2020