The Tower of London. A Historical Romance. Illustration for Book the Second, Chapter Chapter XXXIX. — "Of the wedding of Sir Narcissus Le Grand with Jane the Fool, and what happened at it; and of the entertainment given by him, on the occasion, to his old friends at the Stone Kitchen," summing up the comic plot of the gigantic warders and their diminutive, vainglorious friend Xit. 9 cm high x 9.3 wide, vignetted, bottom of p. 403: running head, "Enthusiastic Reception of Sir Narcissus." If the melodrama ends well for Princess Elizabeth, the conclusion of the comic plot is equally satisfying as the dwarf of the Tower marries Queen Mary's Fool — another Jane. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]— George Cruikshank. Final, double-number, December 1840. Ninety-third illustration and fifty-sixth wood-engraving in William Harrison Ainsworth'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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
In this way, they were carried side by side along the green, and Sir Narcissus was so enchanted that he desired the bearers to proceed as slowly as possible. His enthusiasm became at length so great, that when several of those around him jestingly cried, "Largesse, largesse! Sir Narcissus,” he opened the purse lately given him by the queen, and which hung at his girdle, and threw away the broad pieces in showers. “I will win more gold,” he observed to Og, who remonstrated with him on his profusion; “but such a day as this does not occur twice in one’s life."
"Happiness and long life attend you and your lovely dame, Sir Narcissus!"cried a bystander.
"There is not a knight in the Tower to be compared with you, worshipful sir!"roared another.
"You deserve the queen's favour!" vociferated a third.
"Greater dignities are in store for you!" added a fourth.
Never was new-made and new-married knight so enchanted. Acknowledging all the compliments and fine speeches with smirks, smiles, and bows, he threw away fresh showers of gold. After making the complete circuit of the fortress, he crossed the drawbridge, and proceeded to the wharf, where he was hailed by different boats on the river: everywhere, his reception was the same. [Chapter XXXIX. — "Of the wedding of Sir Narcissus Le Grand with Jane the Fool, and what happened at it; and of the entertainment given by him, on the occasion, to his old friends at the Stone Kitchen,"pp. 402-03]
The Pantler and the Cook, Peter Trusbut and Dame Potentia; Master Hairun, the bearward; the three giant warders, Og, Gog, and Magog; Ribald, and Winwike (without the dark character, Nightgall the Jailer, dead from a ninety-foot fall) now constitute the core of the group who have gathered to celebrate Xit's good fortune, his establishing his identity, and his nuptials. Consequently, Cruikshank has placed the cocky little fellow, a miniature "miles gloriosus," in the centre of the composition in the steel-engraving that follows the present wood-engraving. The party in the Stone Kitchen occurs right after the wedding, on Saturday, 10 February 1854, in sharp contrast to the political machinations and reversals in the main plot. As Ainsworth remarks, "the bridegroom [is] attired in his gayest habiliments, bedecked at all points with lace, tags, and fringe; curled, scented, and glistening with silver and gold" (402). But neither of these elements, of spectacle and of character, is evident in the bare architectural drawing, a theatrical set awaiting the operation of the reader's imagination.
Earlier illustrations involving the characters from the Stone Kitchen
Left: The steel-engraving that introduces the reader to the fanatical Protestant preacher, Edward Underhill the Hot Gospeller preaching to the Giants in the By-ward. (Chapter 6, February 1840). Centre: The steel-engraving depicting the comic cast in a romantic subplot, Magog's Courtship (Chapter 12, April 1840). Right: The comic relief involving Xit's misadventure in the royal menagerie, the steel-engraving in Chapter 19, >Gog extricating Xit from the Bear in the Lions Tower (August 1840). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: Cruikshank's realistic wood-engraving of the modern-day room in which the Tower's Tudor servants and guards were accustomed to gather, The Stone Kitchen (Chapter 3, January 1840).[Click on image to enlarge it.]
Above: The steel-engraving depicting the comic cast plus the villainous jailer, Nightgall, The Stone Kitchen (January 1840), also in the third chapter of Book the First. [Click on image to enlarge it.]
"Ainsworth, William Harrison." http://biography.com
Ainsworth, William Harrison. The Tower of London. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. London: Richard Bentley, 1840.
Burton, Anthony. "Cruikshank as an Illustrator of Fiction." George Cruikshank: A Revaluation. Ed. Robert L. Patten. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1974, rev., 1992. Pp. 92-128.
Carver, Stephen. Ainsworth and Friends: Essays on 19th Century Literature & The Gothic. Accessed 11 September 2017. https://ainsworthandfriends.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/william-harrison-ainsworth-the-life-and-adventures-of-the-lancashire-novelist/
Department of Environment, Great Britain. The Tower of London. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1967, rpt. 1971.
Chesson, Wilfred Hugh. George Cruikshank. The Popular Library of Art. London: Duckworth, 1908.
Golden, Catherine J. "Ainsworth, William Harrison (1805-1882." Victorian Britain: An Encyclopedia, ed. Sally Mitchell. New York and London: Garland, 1988. Page 14.
Jerrold, Blanchard. The Life of George Cruikshank. In Two Epochs. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. 2 vols. London: Chatto and Windus, 1882.
Kelly, Patrick. "William Harrison Ainsworth." Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 21, "Victorian Novelists Before 1885," ed. Ira Bruce Nadel and William E. Fredeman. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983. Pp. 3-9.
McLean, Ruari. George Cruikshank: His Life and Work as a Book Illustrator. English Masters of Black-and-White. London: Art and Technics, 1948.
Pitkin Pictorials. Prisoners in the Tower. Caterham & Crawley: Garrod and Lofthouse International, 1972.
Sutherland, John. "The Tower of London" in The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 19893. P. 633.
Steig, Michael. "George Cruikshank and the Grotesque: A Psychodynamic Approach." George Cruikshank: A Revaluation. Ed. Robert L. Patten. Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1974, rev., 1992. Pp. 189-212.
Vogler, Richard A. Graphic Works of George Cruikshank. Dover Pictorial Archive Series. New York: Dover, 1979.
Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.
Vann, J. Don. "The Tower of London, thirteen parts in twelve monthly instalments, January-December 1840." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. Pp. 19-20.
Last modified 2 November 2017