A female figure, closely veiled, stands in the middle of the room. . .
Felix O. C. Darley
9 x 8.8 cm vignetted
Frontispiece for Dickens's Bleak House, volume 2, in the Sheldon & Co. (New York) Household Edition (1863).
[Click on illustration to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham from his personal collection.
[You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Mr. Bucket, still having his professional hold of Jo, and appearing to Mr. Snagsby to possess an unlimited number of eyes, makes a little way into this room, when Jo starts, and stops.
"What's the matter?" says Bucket in a whisper.
"There she is!" cries Jo.
(A female figure, closely veiled, stands in the middle of the room, where the light falls upon it. It is quite still, and silent. The front of the figure is towards them, but it takes no notice of their entrance, and remains like a statue.)
"Now, tell me," says Bucket aloud, "how you know that to be the lady."
"I know the wale," replies Jo, staring, "and the bonnet, and the gownd."
"Be quite sure of what you say, Tough," returns Bucket, narrowly observant of him. "Look again."
"I am a looking as hard as ever I can look," says Jo, with starting eyes, "and that there’s the wale, the bonnet, and the gownd." — Chapter 22, "Mr. Bucket," vol. 2, p. 143.
Darley has chosen a lengthy quotation for his caption so that the reader can easily determine the passage and situation realised: “A female figure, closely veiled, stands in the middle of the room, where the light falls upon it. It is quite still, and silent. The front of the figure is towards them, but it takes no notice of their entrance, and remains like a statue.” The moment of suspense works effectively as an illustrationas the detective, Mr. Bucket, interrogates the crossing-sweeper, Jo (identified immediately by his broom) as to whether this is the veiled woman he has seen. The illustration underscores the significance of the question without giving away the answer — that the veiled "lady" is Hortense, Lady Dedlock's maid, and not Lady Dedlock herself, the significant diferences being Lady Dedlock's more deilcate hands and her superior rings. The scene, set in the lawyer Tulkinghorn's rooms, has the additional benefit of introducing three of the principal characters, although neither Lady Dadlock, nor Esther Sommerson, nor Harold Skimpole appears in it, the fourth character (in the background) being Snagsby. Jo in particular appears in a number of the original plates, affording Darley several models such as The Crossing-Sweeper.
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"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.
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F. O. C.
Last modified 9 November 2015