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Notes for Our Mutual Friend Installment # 2 (Prototype)

Our Mutual Friend Number 2 Working Notes

For each serial installment, Dickens would divide in half a 7″ x 9″ sheet of paper. On the right side he would indicate the installment number and the chapter numbers; he would fill in chapter titles and come  back to jot down chief events and characters, occasional quotations, and memorable details, and test out names and phrases. On the left side he would include “generative” notes, including long-term plans and motifs. Dickens frequently used the left side of the page to ask himself questions about combinations of characters to include and to test out new ideas, often changing his mind. He would return (often using different ink) to answer some of these questions. In some cases he returns to offer summaries of work already completed; in other cases he records his overwriting or underwriting of chapters and moves them around.

This is a trial prototype for the Digital Dickens Notes Project to test out transcription and editorial notes.

Here you can see manuscript image and transcription for the working notes Dickens kept for the second installment number of Our Mutual Friend. On the right you can see how the full page looks (for a high-resolution version of this image and the two halves of the page shown below, visit the Juxta Editions page for this installment number), but I have divided the page into its two halves below for easier viewing.

To use:
  • Hover over the image for a closer look at Dickens’s manuscript
  • Hover over superscript notes in the transcription for editorial commentary. Clicking on these notes will take you to the footnotes below.

Manuscript images courtesy of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

Working Notes for Our Mutual Friend Installment 2: Left-Hand Side

Lady Tippins1? at the marriage of mature young lady & do gentleman
   Twemlow   ?
    Veneerings ?
     Progress of that artful match ?   Yes - to their contract
                   between mature young gentleman
                     and mature young lady

   on the Dust-ground.? _ Certainly3

           Harmony Jail4
                or Boffin’s Bower5

            Cut adrift
             Cast out
              Turned out
               Under Suspicion
                Parting company6

This chapter (too long for the No:) transferred to No: 3. In its stead7

                            Chapter VII.
               In which Mr Wegg looks after himself8
    Picture of the queer St Giles’s business
           With Imaginary man.9


Working Notes for Our Mutual Friend Installment 2: Right-Hand Side

(Our   Mutual  Friend.  -------------------- No: II.)
                    chapter V.
                  Boffin’s Bower10

S. Wegg at his stall
          Solomon?  Silas?  Yes  Our House”
                  Seems to have taken his wooden leg naturally11

     So, Mr Boffin.
                   Teddy Boffin?12
                                  Nicodemus.   “Noddy Boffin”

Lead up to Boffin’s Bower
           and to “declining and falling off the Rooshan Empire13
Mrs. Boffin a High-Flyer at Fashion   This to go through the book
     In a hat and feathers

                       chapter VI.
                        Cut adrift.
The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters.     Description        
                Miss Potterson
                      Miss abbey
                         She, the Sister of the Ship’s steward.

The man from the 1st: chapter - Riderhood -
   Boy departs to seek his fortune    “Unnat’ral young beggur!”15

                        chapter VII.16
                   A Marriage Contract.

     Veneerings again.
              Mr and Mrs Lammle.
                Having taken one another in, will now
              take in everyone else.

Critical Notes

  1. Lady Tippins does not appear in this installment number, but she does appear in the original chapter seven, which was relocated to the next installment as chapter ten.
  2. Although Dickens marks both Twemlow and the Veneerings as appearing in this installment, they appear only in the original chapter 7, which was moved to the following installment as chapter ten
  3. Although the phrase "dust ground" does not appear in the installment, Dickens mentions the "dust mounds" in this chapter when Wegg visits Boffin's Bower. The mention of dust recurs at the end of the installment when Mr. Venus explains that Mr. Boffin brings him items he finds in the dust: "'The old gentleman was well known all round here. There used to be stories about his having hidden all kinds of property in those dust mounds."
  4. The "hoarse gentleman" who drives Wegg to the Boffins' house explains the origin of the name Harmony Jail

    'Was-it-Ev-verajail?' asked Mr Wegg, holding on.
    'Not a proper jail, wot you and me would get committed to,' returned his escort; 'they giv' it the name, on accounts of Old Harmon living solitary there.' 
    'And-why-did-they-callitharm-Ony?' asked Wegg. 
    'On accounts of his never agreeing with nobody. Like a speeches of chaff. Harmon's Jail; Harmony Jail. Working it round like."

    Mr. and Mrs. Boffin rename it "Boffin's Bower"
  5. The Boffins rename Old Harmon's place "Boffin's Bower," but it is otherwise known as "Harmony Jail" (see note above): 

    "Boffin's Bower is the name Mrs Boffin christened it when we come into it as a property. If you should meet with anybody that don't know it by that name (which hardly anybody does), when you've got nigh upon about a odd mile, or say and a quarter if you like, up Maiden Lane, Battle Bridge, ask for Harmony Jail, and you'll be put right."
  6. Here Dickens tests out potential titles for chapter six (VI). He settles on his first choice, "Cut adrift," which appears on the opposite page.
  7. For more information on this change, see note 16 beside the old chapter seven in the right-hand-side notes.
  8. Dickens told his illustrator Marcus Stone that “he had a personage who had just appeared upon the scene who was to have some eccentric calling, and that he could not find the calling that would suit him” (quoted in Michael Cotsell, The Companion to Our Mutual Friend [Allen & Unwin, 1986], 65). Stone took Dickens to see a taxidermist called Willis in Seven Dials in London, “an articulator of skeletons, a stuffer of birds, and dealer in bottled monsters.” "I suggested Mr. Willis, or rather his occupation, as an idea that might be suggestive," wrote Stone. "'It is the very thing that I want he said it couldn't be better.'" This real-life detour resulted in Mr. Venus’s appearance in the second installment. 
    For more, see Michael Slater, Charles Dickens (New Haven: Yale UP, 2009), 524-25, and Francis Xavier Shea, "Mr. Venus Observed: The Plot Change in Our Mutual Friend," Papers on Language and Literature 4 (1968): 170–181, 170.
  9. his "Imaginary man" could possibly refer to the "French gentleman" in Mr. Venus's shop, but it most likely refers to Mr. Venus himself, an imaginary version of the taxidermist Mr. Willis, to whom illustrator Marcus Stone took Dickens for inspiration (see note above). In a letter to Stone on Februrary 28, 1864, Dickens wrote: "I have done the St. Andrew Street place, and have made it the last Chapter of the 2nd. No. I will send you a proof when I get it. It is very like, with an imaginary man and an imaginary place in the story." The full text of this letter is available on the Our Mutual Friend Scholarly Pages (University of California Santa Cruz) at http://omf.ucsc.edu/dickens/letters/marcus-stone.html.
  10. In the manuscript the title is altered from "Harmony Jail." This alteration in the manuscript but not in the working notes could offer evidence that in some instances Dickens wrote the working notes after or at the same time as he wrote parts of the manuscript.
  11.  In his Companion to Our Mutual Friend, Michael Cotsell notes that "Crude surgery and the Napoleonic Wars meant that wooden legs were not an uncommon sight in Dickens's lifetime" (50). See Cotsell for more on Dickens's possible sources for Wegg's wooden leg. The Companion to Our Mutual Friend. London: Allen & Unwin, 1986.
  12. In the manuscript, the first few times the name is corrected from 'Teddy." Dickens probably added the note below (Nicodemus. "Noddy Boffin") after he made the changes in the manuscript.
  13. Dickens evidently drew this idea from a note written earlier in his Book of Memoranda: "Gibbon's Decline and Fall. The two characters, one reporting to the other as he reads. Both getting confused as to whether it is not all going on now!" (21). Boffin and Wegg are reading Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. Dickens had an 1825 eight-volume edition.
  14. It is possible that "bow" in the notes corresponds to the following description of the beer-pulls in the tavern: "the polite beer-pulls that made low bows when customers were served with beer."
  15. This quotation appears verbatim (with "beggur" changed to "beggar"), spoken by Gaffer Hexam after Charley's departure.
  16. As Dickens notes on the left-hand side of his page, he moved this chapter, "A Marriage Contract," to his third installment (as chapter 10) because it was too long for the second. In its place he added a Chapter 7 titled "In Which Mr Wegg Looks After Himself." For more information on his new chapter 7, see note on left hand side. In the manuscript at the end of chapter 9, Dickens wrote "Marriage Contract last Chapter of No. 2, to be added here."