Uncaptioned illustration to begin Chapter One, page 1.

Fred Barnard

1872

10.7 cm x 13.8 cm.

composite wood-block, engraved by the Dalziels.

[Pecksniff prostrate at the foot of his own steps, incident from the second chapter.]

[Click on illustration to enlarge it.]

Scanned image 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.]

Commentary

Fred Barnard's narrative-pictorial sequence for the thirty-year-old picaresque novel begins earlier than Phiz's. The chief illustrator of the Household Edition begins, as it were, almost at the beginning, immediately afterthe rambling, almost Swiftian Chuzzlewit genealogy of the opening chapter. For this, the story's first comic scene, Barnard prepares the reader a full chapter in advance, seizing upon the most engaging moment with which to lead off his pictorial sequence and introduce his Tartuffian antagonist, architect Seth Pecksniff.

An undignified, partly stunned Seth Pecksniff has just been knocked off his feet at his own front-door steps by the boisterous Wiltshire wind, and his daughter, shading her candle, unable to discern his prostrate figure on the ground in the darkness, is operating under the delusion that she is the victim of some practical-joking street-boy who, having knocked, has ducked around the corner to observe the fun from hiding. Realizing the text's first piece of real action, the uncaptioned woodcut sits above the opening of the first chapter but pertains to the second.

Dressed in the respectable garb of the English bourgeoisie circa 1840, in tailcoat, collar, his immaculate beaver lying by his feet, Pecksniff struggles to get up on his left elbow. This attire Barnard has borrowed directly from Phiz's early illustrations for the novel, notably "Pleasant little family party at Mr. Pecksniff's." Whereas Phiz's initial Pecksniff plates depict the antagonist as a self-satisfied and collected hypocrite, Barnard cannot resist the comic possibilities of the novel's opening scene, in which the usually loquacious architect has been momentarily stunned into speechlessness by his fall. As in the text, his daughter shields her candle from the raging wind which scatters leaves above her parent, whom she cannot see in the dusk. Instead of the brass knob on the street-door, Barnard focuses on the wrought- iron railings which connect Miss Pecksniff at the top of the stairs, her skirt and apron blowing vigorously towards stage left and her fallen father. Rather than struggle with the pictorial impossibilities of the first chapter, Barnard has utilized this key page in the text to introduce the self-important humbug who will present himself as a rival to young Martin as a potential husband for Mary Graham and a potential heir for old Martin.

References

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ('Phiz'). London: Chapman and Hall, 1844.

_____. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, with 59 illustrations by Fred Barnard. Household Edition, volume 2. London: Chapman and Hall, 1871-1880. The copy of the Household Edition from which this picture was scanned was the gift of George Gorniak, proprietor of The Dickens Magazine, whose subject for the fifth series, beginning in January 2008, was this novel.

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Last modified 6 July 2016