The sergeant ran in first by F. A. Fraser (1876), in Charles Dickens's Household Edition of Great Expectations, illustrated with thirty composite woodblock engravings. Chapter V, p. 16. 9.4 x 13.7 cm (3 ¾ by 5 ⅜ inches), framed. Running head: "We Come up with the Convicts" (17). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: The Escaped Convicts Apprehended on the Marshes

The sergeant ran in first when he had run the noise quite down by Felix Octavius Carr Darley (frontispiece, 1861).

To this effect the sergeant and the nearest men were speaking under their breath, when Joe and I came up. After another moment’s listening, Joe (who was a good judge) agreed, and Mr. Wopsle (who was a bad judge) agreed. The sergeant, a decisive man, ordered that the sound should not be answered, but that the course should be changed, and that his men should make towards it “at the double.” So we slanted to the right (where the East was), and Joe pounded away so wonderfully, that I had to hold on tight to keep my seat.

It was a run indeed now, and what Joe called, in the only two words he spoke all the time, “a Winder.” Down banks and up banks, and over gates, and splashing into dikes, and breaking among coarse rushes: no man cared where he went. As we came nearer to the shouting, it became more and more apparent that it was made by more than one voice. Sometimes, it seemed to stop altogether, and then the soldiers stopped. When it broke out again, the soldiers made for it at a greater rate than ever, and we after them. After a while, we had so run it down, that we could hear one voice calling “Murder!” and another voice, “Convicts! Runaways! Guard! This way for the runaway convicts!” Then both voices would seem to be stifled in a struggle, and then would break out again. And when it had come to this, the soldiers ran like deer, and Joe too.

The sergeant ran in first, when we had run the noise quite down, and two of his men ran in close upon him. Their pieces were cocked and levelled when we all ran in.

“Here are both men!” panted the sergeant, struggling at the bottom of a ditch. “Surrender, you two! and confound you for two wild beasts! Come asunder!”

Water was splashing, and mud was flying, and oaths were being sworn, and blows were being struck, when some more men went down into the ditch to help the sergeant, and dragged out, separately, my convict and the other one. Both were bleeding and panting and execrating and struggling; but of course I knew them both directly. [Chapter V, 15-16]

Commentary: A Change in Perspective

Abel Magwitch by Clayton J. Clarke ('Kyd') in the Garnett Edition (1900).

Fraser changes the reader's perspective dramatically as he reacts to Pip's retrospective narration of the minutes leading up to the re-apprehension of escaped convicts Abel Magwitch (upper, identifiable by his bandanna headpiece) and Compeyson. Whereas Dickens has been describing the pursuit from the perspective of Pip, Joe, and the search party, the illustrator has placed the subjects of the search in the centre, and relegated the Sergeant in charge to a shadowy figure, right rear, at the top of the ditch. In place of Dickens's vigorous use of present participles to convey a sense of kinetic action, Fraser has the grasses blown by the wind and the sergeant's right hand raised, as if commanding the pair to stop. The reader instantly connects the older, heavier escaped felon here with the uniformed stranger in the previous illustration, "And you know what wittles is?" on the opening page. The illustration provokes an immediate question in the minds of readers unfamiliar with the 1861 novel: "Why are the escaped convicts fighting with one another instead of making good their flight from the hulks?"

Relevant Early Scenes from Other Editions (1860-1910)

Left: Pip and the Convict (1867), frontispiece for the Diamond Edition by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Centre: In the first American serialisation, periodical illustrator John McLenan sums up the action with the fugitives re-arrested and marched off in chains (24 November 1860). Right: Harry Furniss's 1910 lithographic depiction of the encounter is far more violent and sensational: Pip's Struggle with the Escaped Convict, in the Charles Dickens Library Edition, Vol. 14.

Left: F. W. Pailthorpe's "Terrible Stranger in the Churchyard." Right: H. M. Brock's "I made bold to say 'I am glad you enjoy it'".

Related Material, Including Penal Transportation and Film Adaptations

Other Artists’ Illustrations for Dickens's Great Expectations

Scanned images and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


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______. A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition.16 vols. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

______. Great Expectations. Volume 6 of the Household Edition. Illustrated by F. A. Fraser. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876.

______. Great Expectations. The Gadshill Edition. Illustrated by Charles Green. London: Chapman and Hall, 1898.

______. Great Expectations. The Grande Luxe Edition, ed. Richard Garnett. Illustrated by Clayton J. Clarke ('Kyd'). London: Merrill and Baker, 1900.

______. Great Expectations. "With 28 Original Plates by Harry Furniss." Volume 14 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book Co., 1910.

Rosenberg, Edgar (ed.). "Launching Great Expectations." Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. Pp. 389-423.

Stein, Robert A. "Dickens and Illustration." The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens. Ed. John O. Jordan. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2001. 167-188.

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Created 19 March 2004

Last modified 11 November 2021