decorated captial D espite Buchanan-Brown's assertion that Phiz was not much of a hand at "costume [i. e., pre-Victorian] pieces," the late eighteenth-century costumes of the characters in his plates for A Tale of Two Cities are, in the main, correct. However, in Before the Tribunal the beaver which the fashionably accoutered Charles Darnay holds in his left hand does not correspond to the early 1770s. According to C. Willett Cunnington and Phyllis Cunnington, the various styles of round hat at that period had in common a crown that was tall and a "brim small and generally rolled up on each side" (23). In fact, Darnay's top hat looks more like the type known as "Lincoln and Bennett" worn by Englishmen at the time Dickens penned the novel and Phiz etched the plates, as opposed to the (then) "Old-fashioned Australian stockman's coat and the top-boots that Darnay wears in "Before the Tribunal" are certainly plausible, although the French top-boots that condemned and inquisitor alike wear present a minor problem. The prisoner, attired in fashions of English manufacture, would more likely be wearing English "jockey" boots with the "turned-over top sloping down to a point in front" as opposed to the "French turned-over top, cut straight round" (Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century, 230).

Mr. Lorry's somewhat unfashionable mode of dress, including a wig, in After the Sentence, set almost twenty years after his initial appearance in the novel, in The Shoemaker is consistent with the tastes of an older, conservative bank-manager: the coat with close sleeves; small, round cuffs; the skirts ending just above the knee; the waistcoat with flapped pockets below the waist; the neckcloth; and the three-cornered hat so much in fashion for much of the century were becoming passé by the 1770s. Lucie's father, like the younger professional in After the Sentence, Sydney Carton, is not wearing a wig, although this departure from earlier fashion did not become widespread until after the British government levied a tax on hair-powder in 1775. Carton seems to be affecting a "Brutus" head — long hair "with a wind-blown, dishevelled appearance" (Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century, 247), named after J. L. David's hero of Republican Rome, as seen in Brutus Condemning His Son (1778). The implied comparison of Carton and Lucius Junius Brutus is at once apt and ironic: although both represent the virtue of sacrifice, David depicted Brutus as a patriot capable of sacrificing both his sons to Republican principle, for as consul in 50 B. C. he was officially compelled to sentence his boys to death for conspiring to restore the Etruscan monarchy; the chivalric Carton, on the other hand, gives his own life to preserve the life of the man who has been his rival in love and thereby cheat the French Republic of an aristocrat who is an enemy of the state.

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Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary 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.] Click on the image to enlarge it.

Bibliography

Allingham, Philip V. "'Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Illustrated: A Critical Reassessment of Hablot Knight Browne's Accompanying Plates." Dickens Studies. 33 (2003): 109-158.

Browne, Edgar. Phiz and Dickens As They Appeared to Edgar Browne. London: James Nisbet, 1913.

Cayzer, Elizabeth. "Dickens and His Late Illustrators. A Change in Style: Phiz and A Tale of Two Cities." Dickensian 86, 3 (Autumn, 1990): 130-141.

Cohen, Jane R. "Part Two. Dickens and His Principal Illustrator. Ch. 4. Hablot Browne." Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: University of Ohio Press, 1980. 61-124.

Cunnington, C. Willett and Phyllis. Handbook of Eighteenth Century. London: Faber and Faber, 1972.

Cunnington, Phyllis. Handbook of English Costume in the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Plays, 1970.

Dickens, Charles. (1859). A Tale of Two Cities, ed. Andrew Sanders. World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

________. A Tale of Two Cities (1859), ed. George Woodcock. Illustrated by Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970.

Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Edition of the Works of Charles Dickens. London: Educational Book, 1910.


Created 9 November 2007

Last modified 11 June 2020