Little Dorrit, Household Edition, 1873. Wood-engraving by the Dalziels, 9.4 cm high by 13.6 cm wide, p. 265, framed, under the running head "Arthur Clennam's Meditations." [Click on the image to enlarge it.]— Book 2, chap. ix, is the full title as given in the Harper and Brothers printing. Sixties' illustrator James Mahoney's thirty-sixth illustration for Charles Dickens's
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.]
At any hour later than sunset, and not least at that hour when most of the people who have anything to eat at home are going home to eat it, and when most of those who have nothing have hardly yet slunk out to beg or steal, it was a deserted place and looked on a deserted scene.
Such was the hour when Clennam stopped at the corner, observing the girl and the strange man as they went down the street. The man's footsteps were so noisy on the echoing stones that he was unwilling to add the sound of his own. But when they had passed the turning and were in the darkness of the dark corner leading to the terrace, he made after them with such indifferent appearance of being a casual passenger on his way, as he could assume.
When he rounded the dark corner, they were walking along the terrace towards a figure which was coming towards them. If he had seen it by itself, under such conditions of gas-lamp, mist, and distance, he might not have known it at first sight, but with the figure of the girl to prompt him, he at once recognised Miss Wade.
He stopped at the corner, seeming to look back expectantly up the street as if he had made an appointment with some one to meet him there; but he kept a careful eye on the three. When they came together, the man took off his hat, and made Miss Wade a bow. The girl appeared to say a few words as though she presented him, or accounted for his being late, or early, or what not; and then fell a pace or so behind, by herself. Miss Wade and the man then began to walk up and down; the man having the appearance of being extremely courteous and complimentary in manner; Miss Wade having the appearance of being extremely haughty. — Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 9, "Appearance and Disappearance," p. 272.
There is no comparable moment in the original Phiz illustrations. Back in London after the Italian sojourn, Mahoney takes readers to the Strand, somewhat defamiliarised after dark, where Miss Wade and Tattycoram rendezvous with an obsequiously charming stranger, whom the observer, Arthur Clennam, encounters a few days later at his mother's house. There, the foreigner (Blandois) is no longer charming, but insolent in the scene illustrated by Phiz for the sequence of chapters (II: 8 through II: 11) which make up serial instalment 13 (December 1856). The reader, of course, wonders about the identities of the four figures in the scene, and, once he or she has encountered the textual passage seven pages later, about whatever commerce can exist between the aloof and anti-male Miss Wade and the devious Frenchman, who is evidently acting as Miss Wade's private investigator. Again, Mahoney underscores the curious conjunctions of disparate characters that occur in the second book.
The physical setting would have been one familiar not only to Londoners but also to readers of David Copperfield as David and his Aunt Betsey Trotwood occupied rooms in the Adelphi, overlooking the Thames, after her financial reversals. Having heard from Mrs. Tickit, the housekeeper for the Meagles while they are away on the Continent, that Harriet (nicknamed "Tattycoram") had been at Twickenham recently, Arthur Clennam is nevertheless surprised to encounter her at a distance talking to a foreign gentleman in a cape in the Strand, which parallels the river between Somerset House and Charing Cross, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile. He then trails the pair to the Adelphi Terrace, eleven attached townhouses designed in late neoclassical style by the Adams Brothers (1768-72), the vaulted terrace having wharves beneath, as suggested by the commercial river traffic in Mahoney's illustration. Blandois then has a conversation with the taller of the two women (right rear), undoubtedly Miss Wade, whom Clennam (left foreground in a business suit) recognizes from the action of Book One, Chapter 8. The atmosphere of mist and the distant gas-lamp under which the trio meet suggests the clandestine nature of the rendezvous, which the reader sees from Clennam's perspective.
Miss Wade, Tattycoram, and Blandois in other 19th c. series of illustration
Right: Phiz's illustration of Mr. Meagles' trying to persuade Tattycoram to leave Miss Wade, Five-and-Twenty (Chapter 8: July 1856), a scene that establishes how Clennam (right) will later recognize Miss Wade at night in the Strand. Centre: Sol Eytinge, Junior's study of the haughty spinster and the downcast adopted daughter of the Meagles, Miss Wade and Tattycoram (1867). Right: Harry Furniss's realisation of the same figures, emphasizing the spinster's hauteur, Tattycoram and Miss Wade (1910 lithograph). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: Phiz's study in the original serial of the scene in which Arthur Clennam re-encounters the suave, flamboyant, insolent Blandois, Mr. Flintwinch receives the Embrace of Friendship (Part 13, December 1856). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
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Last modified 10 June 2016