Mr. Harthouse and Tom Bounderby [sic] in the Garden

[Walker's 1868 wood engraving appears opposite p. 97 in Dickens's Hard Times for These Times.]

The third plate, "Mr. Harthouse and Tom Bounderby [sic] in the Garden" reverts to the other plot, drawing our attention to Harthouse's attempt to approach Louisa by developing a relationship with her beloved brother. We are in the garden of Nickits's country-estate, acquired by Bounderby through a bank foreclosure. At the top of the facing page, Dickens describes "a disorder of roses" which seem more disciplined in the plate. Louisa has just entered the house, its porch suggestively outlined and throwing the eye forward to the sharply realised young men. Of all the figures in Walker's four plates, these two possess the greatest degree of inner-life. As in the text, Tom lounges on the terrace-parapet near the rose-bush, tugging at the buds and pulling them to pieces, but whereas in the text he rests on an arm supported by a knee, here his legs twist in the opposite direction of his torso, a contraposto suggestive of his mental agitation. In Walker's plate, Tom is withdrawn and self-absorbed, rather than indignant, "hard-up, and bothered out of [his] mind" as in the text, where, his self-pity welling over, Tom is about to reveal what motivated Louisa to marry Bounderby.

Above him looms his Mephistopheles, his "Familiar," Harthouse, recognizable from the first plate by his mutton-chop whiskers. He confers his presence in exchange for information rather than blood. From the narrator' s remarking that Harthouse can make ©řa devilish good speech©÷ (Book Two, Ch. 2) and seems "weary of everything, and [puts] no more faith in anything than Lucifer," Walker has given Harthouse a jacket and hat much darker than Tom's to imply his darker nature. He has positioned Harthouse with his left hand in his pocket, leaning forward confidentially, self-contained and focused, dominating the scene. Like Dickens's, Walker's Harthouse possesses a quasi-military air befitting a former Cornet of Dragoons, and plays with his watch-chain, as he did earlier in his interview with Mrs. Sparsit. Thus, Walker has synthesized everything that Dickens has said about Harthouse: he is about 35, handsome, and fashionably dressed, with "dark hair, bold eyes," "a certain gallantry at ease," and an ennui resulting from an excess of gentility.

Related Materials

Reference List

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times and Pictures from Italy. One vol. London: Chapman and Hall [1875?].

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book [1910].


Victorian Web Victorian Book Illustration Frederick Walker Charles Dickens

Last modified March 12, 2002