The Frontispiece, scene at the Crimea
13 cm (5 inches) high by 10.5 cm (4 ½ inches) wide, vignetted
Illustration in the final (twenty-second) monthly instalment for Charles Lever's Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Day, designed to face the title-page in the 1859, single-volume edition.
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In the 1859 (first edition) single-volume edition the elegant Frontispiece appeared as the initial illustration, but in fact had already appeared in the final instalment, in April, illustrating a brief inset narrative in Chapter LXXV, "The Convent of St. George." This same chapter appeared as Chapter XXXIII in the second volume of the Chapman & Hall two-volume edition of 1872 (re-issued in 1901 by Little, Brown & Co., Boston).
Passage Illustrated: Paul Classon's Cautionary Tale for Terry Driscoll
“Will [Conway] live, do you think?” said Terry, with a gesture of his thumb to indicate him of whom he spoke.
“No; impossible,” said Classon, confidently; “he stands in the report fatally wounded, and I have it confidentially that there's not a chance for him.”
“And his claim dies with him?”
“That's by no means so sure; at least, we'd be all the safer if we had his papers, Master Driscoll.”
“Ay!” said Driscoll, knowingly.
“Now, which of us is to do the job, Driscoll? That's the question. I have my claim to see him, as chaplain to the — I 'm not sure of the name of what branch of the service — we'll say the 'Irregular Contingent' Legion. What are you, my respected friend?”
“A connection of the family, on the mother's side,” said Terry, with a leer.
“A connection of the family!” laughed out Classon. “Nothing better.”
“But, after all,” sighed Terry, despondingly, “there's another fellow before us both, — that chap had brought out the news to the camp, Mr. Reggis, from the house of Swindal and Reggis.”
“He's cared for already,” said Classon, with a grin.
“The Lord protect us! what do you mean?” exclaimed Driscoll, in terror.
“He wanted to find his way out here last night, so I bribed two Chasseurs d'Afrique to guide him. They took him off outside the French advance, and dropped him within five hundred yards of a Cossack picket, so that the worthy practitioner is now snug in Sebastopol. In fact, Driscoll, my boy, I'm — as I said before — an ugly antagonist!”
Terry laughed an assent, but there was little enjoyment in his mirth.
“The girl, — one of those hospital ladies,” continued Classon, — “a certain Miss Kellett, is also a prisoner.”
“Miss Kellett!” cried Driscoll, in amazement and terror together. “I know her well, and if she's here she'll outwit us both.”
“She's in safe hands this time, let her be as cunning as she will. In fact, my dear Driscoll, the game is our own if we be but true to each other.”
“I 'm more afraid of that girl than them all,” muttered Driscoll.
“Look over those hills yonder, Driscoll, and say if that prison-house be not strong enough to keep her. Mr. Reggis and herself are likely to see Moscow before they visit Cheapside. [Chapter LXXV, "The Convent of St. George," pp. 647-648]
Commentary: Attorney Reggis captured by Cossacks behind Russian lines (frontispiece, April 1859)
Ironically, one of the last monthly illustrations (that in which the Cossacks capture the attorney who has been representing Charles Conway in his legal action to regain the Lackington title and estates), serves as the frontispiece for the novel, as readers who purchased the single-volume edition issued in April 1859 would not have encountered the passage realised in the elegant plate until almost the end of the book. Even as the four Russian horsemen encircle the hapless attorney and two of them prod him with their lances, the two French cavalrymen ("two Chasseurs d'Afrique") whom Classon has bribed turn back in their saddles from the hillside above to survey the action. Through this scene of bribery, betrayal, and military action on the lines between the adversaries in the Crimean War Phiz and Lever set the keynotes for the novel. Adroitly, Phiz has fused two disparate plot lines — the question of the Lackington inheritance and the events in the Crimea which feature Jack Kellett, Sybella Kellett, and Charles Conway. Phiz treats the third plot element, the collapse of Davenport Dunn's financial empire, in the title-page vignette.
Lever actually presents the incident in flashback, having the duplicitous "Holy Paul" narrate what happened to Conway's lawyer to demonstrate what fate Terry Driscoll can expect if he attempts to cheat Classon out of his share of the spoils of the Lackington estates. Operating as the agent for his companion in travel and crime, Driscoll, Classon has betrayed Charley Conway's lawyer in order to prevent Conway from claiming the estates of Viscount Lord Lackington, although he has already successfully prosecuted his claim to the title. As the next male heir in the line, Driscoll would then be able to claim the title and English estates for himself. Classon's strategy includes stealing any of Conway's papers that support his case, but it fails when the smooth villain finds himself trapped in Conway's room at the Convent of St. George in the Crimea, and Reggis appears. This critical scene had already occurred in the penultimate instalment of the novel, "Holy Paul" in a Fix (March 1859).
Other illustrations Associated with the Crimean War
- "A Friend of Jack's" (October 1857)
- The Pony Race (October 1857)
- Catching a Colonel (September 1858)
- Charley the Smasher (February 1859)
- The Vision (March 1859)
Working methods: Phiz and Horses
- Phiz: "A Good Hand at a Horse" — A Gallery and Brief Overview of Phiz's Illustrations of Horses for Defoe, Dickens, Lever, and Ainsworth (1836-64)
Browne, John Buchanan. Phiz! Illustrator of Dickens' World. New York: Charles Scribner's, 1978.
Fitzpatrick, W. J. The Life of Charles Lever. London: Downey, 1901.
Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.
Lever, Charles. Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Day. Illustrated by "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne). London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.
Stevenson, Lionel. Dr. Quicksilver: The Life of Charles Lever. New York: Russell & Russell, 1939, rpt. 1969.
Sutherland, John. "Davenport Dunn." The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford U. P., 1989. Page 172.
Last modified 2 May 2019