Mark Tapley's Sympathetic Sneeze
14.8 x 9.9 cm framed
Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit, Vol. 7 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition, Chapter 14, "In Which Martin Bids Adieu to the Lady of His Love; and Honours an Obscure Individual Whose Fortune He Intends to Make . . . ," facing p. 256.
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham from his own 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.]
"The half-hour's a-going!" cried Mr. Tapley.
"Good-bye a hundred times!" cried Mary, in a trembling voice.
But how cold the comfort in Good-bye! Mark Tapley knew it perfectly. Perhaps he knew it from his reading, perhaps from his experience, perhaps from intuition. It is impossible to say; but however he knew it, his knowledge instinctively suggested to him the wisest course of proceeding that any man could have adopted under the circumstances. He was taken with a violent fit of sneezing, and was obliged to turn his head another way. In doing which, he, in a manner fenced and screened the lovers into a corner by themselves.
"There was a short pause, but Mark had an undefined sensation that it was a satisfactory one in its way. Then Mary, with her veil lowered, passed him with a quick step, and beckoned him to follow. She stopped once more before they lost that corner; looked back; and waved her hand to Martin. He made a start towards them at the moment as if he had some other farewell words to say; but she only hurried off the faster, and Mr. Tapley followed as in duty bound. — Chapter 14, "In Which Martin Bids Adieu to the Lady of His Love; and Honours an Obscure Individual Whose Fortune He Intends to Make, by Commending Her to His Protection," p. 255.
Commentary: Jolly Mark Tapley as the Soul of Discretion
While Martin and Mary say their good-byes under the cover of darkness in St. James's Park, London, Mark Tapley stands guard. As a gift that he may redeem if in dire financial need, Mary Graham gives Martin a diamond ring. The 1910 Furniss illustration is his re-interpretation of a similar illustration in the original monthly serilisation by Hablot Knight Browne, Mr. Tapley Acts Third Party With Great Discretion Jolly Under Creditable Circumstances for Chapter 14 (Part Six, June 1843 ). However, whereas Phiz focusses in the park scene on the lovers, placing lounging figure of Mark Tapley to one side, Furniss has foregrounded the yawning lookout who seems oblivious to the romantic tryst transpiring between Martin and Mary (right rear). Although Furniss is utilizing the visual conventions for Mark established by Phiz, he reinterprets the scene as a dark plate which shows evidence of a ruling machine and throws the trees in the background into blurred obscurity, in contrast to the more clearly seen tree trunks, iron railings, and distant towers of Westminster Abbey in the 1843 original. And his subject is now the comedian rather than the lovers.
Ticknor-Fields mid-nineteenth-century American illustrator Sol Eytinge, Jr., depicted Mark with young Martin outside their ramshackle log-cabin in the ironically named township of Eden on the banks of the pestilential Mississippi, Martin Chuzzlewit and Mark Tapley — a dual character study that Furniss may not have seen, but which also embodies the visual traditions for the novel established by Phiz. The second American Household Edition frontispiece by Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1863), however, diverges somewhat from the figure of Mark one sees throughout Phiz's steel-engravings as he is more lithe, better dressed, and less whimsical, as one sees in "Jolly sort of lodgings," said Mark, in which Darley has created a different Mark Tapley. Heree, Martin's Sancho Panza-like guide and companion is a sharper dresser, his sporting clothing contrasting the more sober, professional and bourgeois clothing of his partner in misery, young Martin. The "flash" waistcoat and top-boots reference his having served as an hostler at the Blue Dragon Inn, but Darley may also be alluding to the kind of waistcoat young Dickens himself favoured.
However, the direct source for Furniss's realisation of the lovers' tender farewell in the metropolitan park (civilised nature) which Mark and Martin are about to exchange for the backwoods of America is Fred Barnard's Household Edition wood-engraving Seeing that there was no one near, and that Mark was still intent upon the fog, he not only looked at her lips, but kissed them into the bargain (1872) — the emphasis here being the activities of the lovers rather than of Mark as the lookout. Having, like Harry Furniss and other later illustrators, read the entire text in advance and therefore having realized the importance of the jovial Mark to the subsequent narrative, the social realist and humorist Fred Barnard divides the focus of the composition between the seated Mark Tapley, feigning to be unaware of what is transpiring in the left-hand register. Barnard subtly changes the location of the park by placing the Baroque dome of St. Paul's Cathedral in the upper-right quadrant, but continues with the early evening temporal setting with deepening shadows in the background. Furniss clearly consulted this scene, although he engulfs the park in darkness, and provides no such landmarks to situate the scene in London. Phiz's interpretation, incidentally, is preferable to Barnard's, as St. James's Park is located in the City of Westminster. Its remodelling in 1826–27, commissioned by the Prince Regent (later, King George IV), was directed by landscape gardener John Nash, but it had been popular as a public park since the mid-eighteenth century, and therefore was a logical rendezvous for the lovers on the even of Martin's departure for "Columbia." Uncertain as to what landmark would be appropriate, Furniss has avoided the problem entirely by offering no such contextual building profile.
Furniss reiterates the jaunty figure of Mark in this later chapter without reference to any particular context, an example of character portraiture not unlike that of turn-of-the-century commercial iartist Clayton J. Clarke (otherwise, "Kyd"), who provided a fetching portrait of the jolly ostler, again without reference to any particular textual moment, in number 34 of the Players' Cigarette card series, Mark Tapley (1910). The more trying the circumstances, the more jolly does Mark become, so that, under the tribulations of swamp fever in the inappropriately-named Eden on the Mississippi, he becomes a model of cheerful endurance for the heretofore self-centred Martin Chuzzlewit. On returning to England with his friend, Mark helps to unmask the thorough-going hypocrite Seth Pecksniff, and is rewarded for his virtue and constancy with the hand of Mrs. Lupin, the comely widow who runs the Blue Dragon Inn in the little Wiltshire village he left at the beginning of the novel. Thus, by the time that Kyd and Furniss depicted him, Mark had become not only the quintessential Dickensian character but an emblem of "Englishness" and the finer qualities of the English working-class: resilience, fortitude, and the indefatigible ability to make clever verbal quips in the manner of Sam Weller in The Pickwick Papers.
Relevant Illustrations, 1843-1910
Left: Hablot Knight Browne's Mr. Tapley Acts Third Party With Great Discretion (June 1843). Centre: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s Martin Chuzzlewit and Mark Tapley (1867). Right: J. Clayton Clarke's (Kyd's) cigarette card image of the inveterate optimist, Mark Tapley (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: Fred Barnard's Seeing that there was no one near, and that Mark was still intent upon the fog, he not only looked at her lips, but kissed them into the bargain (1872). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: F. O. C. Darley's frontispiece for volume two, "Jolly sort of lodgings", alluding to Mark's deciding to join young Martin on the voyage to America. Right: Furniss's own portrait of Mark as he bids farewell to Tom Pinch, Mark Tapley, depicting Mark's cheerily waving good-bye to all he has known. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.
Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844.
Dickens, Charles. Martin Chuzzlewit. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1863. Vols. 1 to 4.
Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Junior. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872. Vol. 2.
Dickens, Charles. Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 7.
Guerard, Albert J. "Martin Chuzzlewit: The Novel as Comic Entertainment." The Triumph of the Novel: Dickens, Dostoevsky, Faulkner. Chicago & London: U. Chicago P., 1976. Pp. 235-260.
Kyd [Clayton J. Clarke]. Characters from Dickens. Nottingham: John Player & Sons, 1910.
"Martin Chuzzlewit — Fifty-nine 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.
Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington and London: Indiana U. P., 1978.
_____. "Martin Chuzzlewit's Progress by Dickens and Phiz." Dickens Studies Annual 2 (1972): 119-149.
Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985.
Last modified 18 January 2016