Betsinda and the Old Woodsman — thirty-fifth illustration by M. A. Titmarsh [W. M. Thackeray], 1855. Uncaptioned wood-engraving, probably by William Linton. 7 cm high by 9 cm wide (2 ¾ by 3 ½ inches), framed, for The Rose and The Ring, Chapter XII, "How Betsinda Fled, and What Became of Her," p. 364. Descriptive headlines: "To A Hut She Gains Admission, What A Touching Recognition!" (pp. 364-365). [Click on the image to enlarge it; mouse over links.]

Passage Illustrated: Betsinda flees from the Palace and into the Forest

"Look, father!" they said to the old woodman, "look at this poor girl, and see what pretty cold feet she has. They are as white as our milk! And look and see what an odd cloak she has, just like the bit of velvet that hangs up in our cupboard, and which you found that day the little cubs were killed by King Padella, in the forest! And look, why, bless us all! she has got round her neck just such another little shoe as that you brought home, and have shown us so often — a little blue velvet shoe!"

"What," said the old woodman, "what is all this about a shoe and a cloak?"

And Betsinda explained that she had been left, when quite a little child, at the town with this cloak and this shoe. And the persons who had taken care of her had — had been angry with her, for no fault, she hoped, of her own. And they had sent her away with her old clothes — and here, in fact, she was. She remembered having been in a forest — and perhaps it was a dream — it was so very odd and strange — having lived in a cave with lions there; and, before that, having lived in a very, very fine house, as fine as the King’s, in the town. [Chapter XII, "How Betsinda Fled, and What Became of Her" pp. 364-365]

Commentary: The First of Many Great Revelations

Thackeray's use of the slipper to identify Betsinda as the long-lost child of the Royal Family echoes Charles Perrault's use of the glass slipper in the fairytale Cinderella to identify the protagonist as the Prince Charming's dancing-partner at the ball. Thackeray sets up the recognition scene in Chapter XI when he mentions the embroidered letters "PRIN" and "ROSAL" (356) on Betsinda's old cloak, and the single sandal hung around her neck; at this point Gruffanuff had driven her out into the snow. The slipper and the fragment of cloak match what the woodsman has kept all these years, and taken together prove that Betsinda is the "rightful Queen of Crim Tartary" (365).

Image scan 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. ]


Furniss, Harry. The Rose and The Ring; or, The History of Prince Giglio and the Prince Bulbo. William Makepeace Thackeray's Christmas Books. With illustrations by the author and Harry Furniss. The Harry Furniss Centenary Edition. London: Macmillan and Co., 1911. Pp. 287-428.

Titmarsh, M. A. [W. M. Thackeray].The Rose and The Ring. London: Smith, Elder, 1855.

Created 3 August 2022