Mr. Pecksniff is introduced to a relative by Mr. Tigg — fourth regular illustration by Fred Barnard for Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit, (Chapter IV), page 25, in the Household Edition. Here, Mr. Pecksniff and the reader meet the sullen and impecunious Chuzzlewit nephew Chevy Slyme and his suave but down-at-heel hanger-on, Montague Tigg. 1872, engraved by the Dalziels. 9.3 cm x 13.7 cm., framed. Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly oreducational 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. Click on image to enlarge it.]

Passage Realised

It happened on the fourth evening, that Mr. Pecksniff walking, as usual, into the bar of the Dragon and finding no Mrs. Lupin there, went straight up-stairs; purposing, in the fervour of his affectionate zeal, to apply his ear once more to the keyhole, and quiet his mind by assuring himself that the hard-hearted patient was going on well. It happened that Mr. Pecksniff, coming softly upon the dark passage into which a spiral ray of light usually darted through the same keyhole, was astonished to find no such ray visible; and it happened that Mr. Pecksniff, when he had felt his way to the chamber-door, stooping hurriedly down to ascertain by personal inspection whether the jealousy of the old man had caused this key-hole to be stopped on the inside, brought his head into such violent contact with another head that he could not help uttering in an audible voice the monosyllable "Oh!" which was, as it were, sharply unscrewed and jerked out of him by very anguish. It happened then, and lastly, that Mr. Pecksniff found himself immediately collared by something which smelt like several damp umbrellas, a barrel of beer, a cask of warm brandy-and-water, and a small parlor-full of stale tobacco smoke, mixed; and was straightway led down-stairs into the bar from which he had lately come, where he found himself standing opposite to, and in the grasp of, a perfectly strange gentleman of still stranger appearance who, with his disengaged hand, rubbed his own head very hard, and looked at him, Pecksniff, with an evil countenance.

The gentleman was of that order of appearance which is currently termed shabby-genteel, though in respect of his dress he can hardly be said to have been in any extremities, as his fingers were a long way out of his gloves, and the soles of his feet were at an inconvenient distance from the upper leather of his boots. His nether garments were of a bluish gray — violent in its colors once, but sobered now by age and dinginess — and were so stretched and strained in a tough conflict between his braces and his straps, that they appeared every moment in danger of flying asunder at the knees. His coat, in color blue and of a military cut, was buttoned and frogged up to his chin. His cravat was, in hue and pattern, like one of those mantles which hairdressers are accustomed to wrap about their clients, during the progress of the professional mysteries. His hat had arrived at such a pass that it would have been hard to determine whether it was originally white or black. But he wore a mustache — a shaggy moustache too: nothing in the meek and merciful way, but quite in the fierce and scornful style: the regular Satanic sort of thing — and he wore, besides, a vast quantity of unbrushed hair. He was very dirty and very jaunty; very bold and very mean; very swaggering and very slinking; very much like a man who might have been something better, and unspeakably like a man who deserved to be something worse. — Chapter Four, "From which it will appear that if union be strength, and family affection be pleasant to contemplate, the Chuzzlewits were the strongest and most agreeable Family in the World," p. 23-24.

Commentary

In selecting his subjects for the second volume of the Household Edition Fred Barnard flags as significant the meeting of the novel's two greatest posers, the hypocritical provincial architect, Seth Pecksniff, and the Chuzzlewit hanger-on and disgraced military officer, Montague Tigg. This illustration, like others featuring these two, is useful in underscoring one of the novel's principal themes: the ridiculing of fraud, duplicity, and egocentricity. Focussing on the book's arch-hypocrite in chapter four, Phiz's third illustration (for the second monthly instalment), Pleasant little family party at Mr. Pecksniff's depicts the admirable Pecksniff as pre-eminent among the exploitative, egocentric Chuzzlewit clan that has just descended upon the little Wiltshire village in pursuit of the patriarchal Martin, Senior's favour. In the next decade, in the Household Edition volume of 1872 Barnard introduces two of novel's objects of satire in Mr. Pecksniff is introduced to a relative by Mr. Tigg. Pecksniff appears yet again in the first movement of story, here in his initial meeting with the scapegrace but beguiling Tigg (who, of course, is not a Chuzzlewit) who has attached himself to a particularly imbecilic specimen. Barnard's theatrical scene possesses anatomical accuracy and fluid posing of the figures in an appropriate setting (a taproom), but lacks the physical humour evident in Darley's initial frontispiece of 1862.

Although The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit was a nineteen-month serialisation, and remains a sprawling narrative that encompasses a great range of characters, most of them humorous distortions and caricatures, and spans two continents and two societies, one has little sense of the original's grop scenes, although Barnard does capture something of Phiz's comic richness and diversity in his treatment of the hypocritical architect and the swindling financier, even though he does little with the composition's central figure, "Chevy Slyme, Esquire."

Relevant Serial Edition (1843), Diamond Edition (1867), American "Household" Edition (1862), and the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) Illustrations

Left: Hablot Knight Browne's "Pleasant little family party at Mr. Pecksniff's" (February 1843). Right: Harry Furniss's "Mr. Spottletoe Stands up to Mr. Pecksniff" (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

19th c. American Editions. Left: Felix Octavius Carr Darley's introduction of Pecksiff and Tigg, And was straightway let down stairs (1862). Right: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s Montague Tigg and Chevy Slyme (1867). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

References

Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844.

Dickens, Charles. Martin Chuzzlewit. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Il. F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1863. Vol. 1 of 4.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Sol Eytinge, Junior. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

_____. 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.

Dickens, Charles. Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Il. Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 7.

Steig, Michael. "Martin Chuzzlewit's Progress by Dickens and Phiz. Dickens Studies Annual 2 (1972): 119-149.


Last modified 6 July 2016