Redlaw and The Boy
Sol Eytinge, Jr.
Dickens's The Haunted Man in The Christmas Books (Diamond Edition).
Final illustration for Dickens's The Christmas Books in the Ticknor and Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition.
In this second full-page dual character study for the final novella in the anthology, Eytinge contrasts the gloomy chemstry professor and the savage street-boy.
[Click on image to enlarge it.]
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.
The fire, to which he had directed the boy last night, shining brightly through the glass, made an illuminated place upon the ground. Instinctively avoiding this, and going round it, he looked in at the window. At first, he thought that there was no one there, and that the blaze was reddening only the old beams in the ceiling and the dark walls; but peering in more narrowly, he saw the object of his search coiled asleep before it on the floor. He passed quickly to the door, opened it, and went in.
The creature lay in such a fiery heat, that, as the Chemist stooped to rouse him, it scorched his head. So soon as he was touched, the boy, not half awake, clutching his rags together with the instinct of flight upon him, half rolled and half ran into a distant corner of the room, where, heaped upon the ground, he struck his foot out to defend himself.
"Get up!" said the Chemist. "You have not forgotten me?"
"You let me alone!" returned the boy. "This is the woman's house — not yours." [Chapter Two, "The Gift Diffused"; Diamond Edition, p. 204-205]
This passage depicted or realized by other illustrators:
Leech's somewhat wooden but atmospheric cartoons versus Barnard's modelled study of the Boy and Redlaw: left: Leech's "Redlaw and The Boy"; centre, Leech's "The Boy Before the Fire"; and, right, Barnard's realistic "I'm not a-going to take you there. Let me be, or I'll heave some fire at you!".
As David Parker notes, "The power of The Haunted Man . . . lies in Dickens's supremely assured control of mood. And the predominant mood is grim" (241). This critic even talks about the book's "Morbid fascination" — even though its finish was consistent with that of its predecessors, "elaborate and festive." Eytinge, with limited scope for illustration in the Diamond Edition volume, could not provide such atmospheric scenes as Clarkson Stanfield's "The Old College", and had to be highly selective. Having studied the somewhat psychological representations of the the chemist and the street-boy in the 1848 novella, Eytinge decided to use Redlaw's confrontation with the savage child of the streets as one of the chief moments in the story, the other being a raucous scene in Mr. Tetterby's back parlour. In this second full-page dual character study for the novella in the anthology, Eytinge compares and contrasts two social isolates, the melancholy chemistry professor, Dickens's only intellectual character in his enormous fictional cast, a thinker who takes little pleasure from anything in life, and the savage street-boy whose atavistic pleasure in something so simple as a fire is consistent with his animalistic nature.
Although Eytinge was responding directly to Dickens's description of this second "Ignorance and Want" urchin in the Christmas Books, he was also attempting to synthesize a number of John Leech's 1848 illustrations, in particular, "Redlaw and The Boy", in which the street child (hardly in the tatters of the original "Ignorance" of 1843) cowers in a corner before the blow he anticipates that a pillar-like Redlaw will deliver, rather than from the elements. Whereas little of Leech's usual sense of comedy and caricature appears in the original plate, Eytinge invests the moment of discovery with a curious power, partly because, in spite of the difference in their ages and social stations, their faces resemble one another and the hairiness of the lines describing the boy's costume is consistent with the graphics describing the fire. In the other pertinent Leech illustration, "The Boy Before the Fire" boy gives himself over to whole-hearted enjoyment of food, fire, and money. This is the sort of fire, a cheerful fire of blazing coals in a grate, that Scrooge initially forbids Bob Cratchit from building, but in conclusion exhorts him to construct with a newly-purchased coal-scuttle. And yet Leech's study of the Boy is entirely lacking in conflict or apprehension. Deftly Eytinge has taken these separate illustrations and presented the essential elements of each simultaneously. The artfulness and success of Eytinge's approach can best be assessed by comparing his revision to the Leech originals and the Household Edition derivative by Barnard (1878). Particularly telling as details of portraiture are the concealing cape (a sartorial element with a Satanic suggestion) and the dishevelled hair, an opportunity that Barnard missed in dressing his Redlaw in a large hat. Capturing the Boy and Redlaw in a moment of stasis rather than action seems to impart a sombre, contemplative tone entirely missing in Barnard's far more dynamic interpretation a decade later. Nothing in Eytinge's unadorned background suggests the specimen-crammed laboratory of the natural scientist that one sees in Leech's "Redlaw and The Phantom". Eytinge's professor leads a spartan, bare-bones existence devoid of material comforts and consolations.
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books and Sketches by Boz Illustrative of Every-day Life and Every-day People. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. Engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867. Rpt., Boston: James R. Osgood, 1875.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Books. Il. Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.
Dickens, Charles. The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain (1848). Il. John Leech, John Tenniel, Frank Stone, and Clarkson Stanfield. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1848.
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library edition. London: Educational Book Co., 1910.
Kitton, Frederic G. Dickens and His Illustrators. 1899. Rpt. Honolulu: U. Press of the Pacific, 2004.
Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.
Parker, David. Dickens and Christmas. New York: AMS Press, 2005.
Winter, William. "Charles Dickens" and "Sol Eytinge." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 181-207, 317-319.
Last modified 3 May 2013