Mr. Baptist takes refuge in Happy Cottage. — Dorrit, 599. Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 13, "The Progress of an Epidemic." 9.3 cm by 13.7 cm, vignetted, facing XII, 608. Fin-de-siécle illustrator Harry Furniss's re-interpretation of Phiz's original serial illustration of the scene in Happy Cottage, Bleeding Heart Yard, when Cavaletto, thinking that he has just seen Rigaud, his old Marseilles cell-mate, takes refuges in the Plornishes' sho [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Realized

"Padrona, dearest," returned the little foreigner whom she so considerately protected, "do not ask, I pray. Once again I say it matters not. I have fear of this man. I do not wish to see him, I do not wish to be known of him — never again! Enough, most beautiful. Leave it."

The topic was so disagreeable to him, and so put his usual liveliness to the rout, that Mrs. Plornish forbore to press him further: the rather as the tea had been drawing for some time on the hob. But she was not the less surprised and curious for asking no more questions; neither was Mr. Pancks, whose expressive breathing had been labouring hard since the entrance of the little man, like a locomotive engine with a great load getting up a steep incline. Maggy, now better dressed than of yore, though still faithful to the monstrous character of her cap, had been in the background from the first with open mouth and eyes, which staring and gaping features were not diminished in breadth by the untimely suppression of the subject. However, no more was said about it, though much appeared to be thought on all sides: by no means excepting the two young Plornishes, who partook of the evening meal as if their eating the bread and butter were rendered almost superfluous by the painful probability of the worst of men shortly presenting himself for the purpose of eating them. Mr. Baptist, by degrees began to chirp a little; but never stirred from the seat he had taken behind the door and close to the window, though it was not his usual place. As often as the little bell rang, he started and peeped out secretly, with the end of the little curtain in his hand and the rest before his face; evidently not at all satisfied but that the man he dreaded had tracked him through all his doublings and turnings, with the certainty of a terrible bloodhound. [Book the Second, "Riches," Chapter 13, "The Progress of an Epidemic," 598-599: the wording of the picture's original caption has been emphasized]


Whereas the original Phiz version, Mr. Baptist is Supposed to have seen Something (see below), contains rent-collector Pancks, the jolly Plornishes, Old Nandy, and Cavaletto, Furniss has added the boy and girl eating bread-and-butter, and Maggy, recognizable immediately by her over-sized hat. However, he disrupts the static effect of the standard group portrait by the very different postures of the eight characters, with the exotically dressed Cavaletto turning to look out of the window, Maggy and Old Nandy seated, the Plornishes standing on the other side of the dining-table, and Pancks (also immediately recognizable by a single feature, his spiked hair) standing with his back to the fire.

The two chief British illustrators of Dickens's novel in the nineteenth century, Phiz (1855-57) and James Mahoney (1873), have focussed on very different aspects of the plot revealed in this chapter. Phiz in the original serial illustration (and Furniss in his derivative Mr. Baptist takes refuge in Happy Cottage) underscores Cavaletto's terror of former cell-mate Rigaud (alias Blandois and Lagnier), who has suddenly appeared in London. On the other hand, in the Household Edition program Mahoney pursues the investment mania created by Merdle's promise of high rates of return on significant investment, a mania that has even swept up even so cautious an investor as Pancks. Furniss has identified Pancks by his hat and bag here, as opposed to his spiky hair in Sol Eytinge, Junior's portrait of him and the slum landlord, Casby. In the 1910 version of this group scene, Furniss follows Phiz's lead in his choice of subject, preferring the character comedy of the parlour scene.

Related Materials: Background, Setting, Theme, and Characterization

Other Illustrations, 1855-1923

Pertinent illustrations in other early editions, 1857 to 1873

Left: Eytinge's dual study of the hard-headed Victorian businessmen Casby and Pancks (1867). Right: Mahoney's Household Edition composite woodblock engraving of Pancks's confiding that he has caught the Merdle investment contagion, "And you have really invested your thousand pounds, Pancks?" (1873).

Above: Phiz's original serial illustration of the scene in Happy Cottage, Mr. Baptist is Supposed to have seen Something (Book 2, Ch. 13 (Part 14: January 1857).

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.]


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Created 15 May 2016

Last modified 25 January 2020