The Four Jacques
Felix Octavius Carr Darley
9.2 x 8.3 cm vignetted
Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, Household Edition, vol. 1 frontispiece.
Darley's initial frontispiece refers the scene of the meeting of the secret society of the Jacquerie in Monsieur Defarge's garret in Book 2, Chapter 15, "Knitting."
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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The mender of roads looked through rather than at the low ceiling, and pointed as if he saw the gallows somewhere in the sky.
"All work is stopped, all assemble there, nobody leads the cows out, the cows are there with the rest. At midday, the roll of drums. Soldiers have marched into the prison in the night, and he is in the midst of many soldiers. He is bound as before, and in his mouth there is a gag-tied so, with a tight string, making him look almost as if he laughed." He suggested it, by creasing his face with his two thumbs, from the corners of his mouth to his ears. "On the top of the gallows is fixed the knife, blade upwards, with its point in the air. He is hanged there forty feet high — and is left hanging, poisoning the water."
They looked at one another, as he used his blue cap to wipe his face, on which the perspiration had started afresh while he recalled the spectacle.
"It is frightful, messieurs. How can the women and the children draw water! Who can gossip of an evening, under that shadow! Under it, have I said? When I left the village, Monday evening as the sun was going to bed, and looked back from the hill, the shadow struck across the church, across the mill, across the prison — seemed to strike across the earth, messieurs, to where the sky rests upon it!"
The hungry man gnawed one of his fingers as he looked at the other three, and his finger quivered with the craving that was on him. [Book Two, The Golden Thread"; Chapter 15, "Knitting," Vol. 1, pages 232-233]
Since the 1863 American Household Edition volumes neatly divide the novel at the end of Chapter 17 in Book Two, Darley's choice of subjects was likely intended to present the French Revolution in its "before" and "after" stages, with the clandestine plotters of the earlier part of the story becoming a mob bent on the annihilation of all aristocrats in the latter part. Although the nineteenth-century illustrators of the 1859 novel each have at least one scene in the Saint Antoine wine-shop of the Defarges, the original illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne does not depict the malcontents above the shop; rather, he shows the recently-released Bastille prisoner there early in his series, in his second illustration for the first monthly instalment, The Shoemaker, and then later in the series depicts the spy, John Barsad, interrogating the Defarges in one of the two September 1859 illustrations, The Wine-shop. Realising, however, how important the plotters become once the Revolution has broken out, two of the book's 1860s American illustrators, John McLenan and Sol Eytinge, Jr., have included a realisations of this clandestine garret scene in their narrative-pictorial sequences. Whereas the weekly instalments in All the Year Round have no illustrations whatsoever, the weekly instalments in Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization have at least two illustrations each, usually a regular wood-engraving (which becomes in the T. B. Peterson volume a full-page illustration) and a headnote vignette, a situation which gave McLenan the flexibility to alert the reader to an important event in the week's instalment as well as to realise a significant moment in the action.
Thus, for Book Two, Chapter Fifteen (6 August 1859), McLenan actually shows the Marquis' assassin hanging above the fountain in the uncaptioned headnote vignette and then shows the narration of the avenger's fate in the garret above the shop, with Defarge nearest the window, the narrator (the road-mender) centre, the look-a-like three Jacques listening intently (left). The inset narrator looks well advanced into middle age in these treatments of the scene, his hard life as a labourer belying his thirty-five years. At the conclusion of his inset narrative, the Jacquerie vote as "doomed to destruction" (233) both the Evrémonde chateau and the entire family line, implying the "Extermination" of Darnay and his children. The scene visually accords well with its textual counterpart in terms of the setting and the juxtaposition of the figures in the dimly lit garret:
Defarge and the three glanced darkly at one another. The looks of all of them were dark, repressed, and revengeful, as they listened to the countryman's story; the manner of all of them, while it was secret, was authoritative too. They had the air of a rough tribunal; Jacques One and Two sitting on the old pallet-bed, each with his chin resting on his hand, and his eyes intent on the road-mender; Jacques Three, equally intent, on one knee behind them, with his agitated hand always gliding over the network of fine nerves about his mouth and nose; Defarge standing between them and the narrator, whom he had stationed in the light of the window, by turns looking from him to them, and from them to him. [Book 2, Chapter 15, 229]
The most emotionally charged version of this critical scene occurs in Fred Barnard's illustrations for the 1874 Household Edition of the novel. Vividly realising the scene as Dickens describes it, Fred Barnard frames the image of the road-mender's animatedly narrating events which occurred in the countryside with Dickens's own words, so that the reader encounters the image and text simultaneously — a decided advantage of the technology of wood-engraving in the 1870s. As opposed to Barnard's theatrical treatment, Darley's almost photographic treatment (with disposition of figures resembling that in McLenan's illustration) strikes the reader as subdued, but faithful to the text in terms of its detailing, Darley adding such elements as the floorboards, the low ceiling, and the crack in the wall, above centre. Each of the three Jacques, sitting on the palette where Dr. Manette, recovering his wits after two decades of imprisonment, had slept, responds in a slightly different way to the narrative, consuming the story as thoughtfully as readers of the 1859 novel have done ever since its simultaneously serial publication on either side of the Atlantic. Darley distinguishes the thoughtful and observant publican, Defarge, from the others by his waistcoat and shirt, while the other Jacques and their guest have peasants' wooden shoes and caps. At the time, the reader casually notes such details, of course, encountering the small-scale photogravure plate proleptically, and then re-evaluating it with greater scrutiny when the narrative moment towards the end of volume one arrives. Only then will the reader appreciate the contrast between the bourgeois wine-shop proprietor (Jacques Four) to the rear of the listeners and the ragged trousers and smock frock of the bearded, uncouth peasant ("Jacques Five") who holds centre-stage, as, blue cap in hand, he holds his listeners spellbound. Symbolically, having "the air of a rough tribunal" (229), the group represents a fusion of radical interests, a disaffected urban proletariat, a restive peasantry, and a middle class bent on asserting its rights over the interests of an inept court and corrupt aristocracy.
Relevant Serial Edition (1859), Diamond Edition (1867), Diamond Edition (1868), and Household Edition (1874) Illustrations
Left: John McLenan's "He described it as if he were there —" (6 August 1859). Centre: Hablot Knight Browne's "The Wine-shop" (September 1859). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Later Editions. Left: Sol Eytinge, Junior's "The Three Jacques" (1867). Right: Fred Barnard's "It is frightful, messieurs" (1874). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by John McLenan. Philadephia: T. B. Peterson, 1859. Based on the Harper's Weekly serialisation, 7 May through 3 December 1859.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1863. Vol. 1.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Junior. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman & Hall, 1874.
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Last modified 23 March 2016