"The Rev. Mr. Stiggins and Mrs. Weller," the ninth full-page illustration by Sol Eytinge, Jr. 7.4 cm high by 9.9 cm wide. The Diamond Edition of Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867). Scanned image 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 this full-page illustration, Eytinge has realised a moment that sheds some light on Sam Weller's background and introduces the reader to the gullible Mrs. Weller and the hypocritical "dissenting" on non-conformist clergyman Stiggins.

Sam Weller has taken a temporary leave of absence of two days (prior to the departure of the Pickwickians for Christmas at Dingley Dell) to visit his father, Tony, at The Marquis of Granby, a well-known Dorking public house and coaching inn ("a roadside public-house of the better class"). When he arrives, he finds his "mother-in-law" (that is, his stepmother) entertaining the local dissenting or nonconformist minister, the Reverend Mr. Stiggins, for whom both Sam Weller and Charles Dickens share a low regard:

"Now, then!" said a shrill female voice the instant Sam thrust his head in at the door, "what do you want, young man?"

Sam looked round in the direction whence the voice proceeded. It came from a rather stout lady of comfortable appearance, who was seated beside the fireplace in the bar, blowing the fire to make the kettle boil for tea. She was not alone; for on the other side of the fireplace, sitting bolt upright in a high-backed chair, was a man in threadbare black clothes, with a back almost as long and stiff as that of the chair itself, who caught Sam's most particular and especial attention at once.

He was a prim-faced, red-nosed man, with a long, thin countenance, and a semi-rattlesnake sort of eye, —rather sharp, but decidedly bad. He wore very short trousers, and black cotton stockings, which, like the rest of his apparel, were particularly rusty. His looks were starched, but his white neckerchief was not, and its long limp ends straggled over his closely-buttoned waistcoat in a very uncouth and unpicturesque fashion. A pair of old, worn, beaver gloves, a broad-brimmed hat, and a faded green umbrella, with plenty of whalebone sticking through the bottom, as if to counterbalance the want of a handle at the top, lay on a chair beside him; and, being disposed in a very tidy and careful manner, seemed to imply that the red-nosed man, whoever he was, had no intention of going away in a hurry.

To do the red-nosed man justice, he would have been very far from wise if he had entertained any such intention; for, to judge from all appearances, he must have been possessed of a most desirable circle of acquaintance, if he could have reasonably expected to be more comfortable anywhere else. The fire was blazing brightly under the influence of the bellows, and the kettle was singing gaily under the influence of both. A small tray of tea-things was arranged on the table; a plate of hot buttered toast was gently simmering before the fire; and the red-nosed man himself was busily engaged in converting a large slice of bread into the same agreeable edible, through the instrumentality of a long brass toasting-fork. Beside him stood a glass of reeking hot pine-apple rum-and-water, with a slice of lemon in it; and every time the red-nosed man stopped to bring the round of toast to his eye, with the view of ascertaining how it got on, he imbibed a drop or two of the hot pine-apple rum-and-water, and smiled upon the rather stout lady, as she blew the fire. [ch. 27, p. 220]

An unusual aspect of the illustration in Eytinge's sequence is the presence of considerable background detail, including the buttered toast, the tea-pot, the hob, and Stiggins's umbrella and hat.

In the longer programs of illustration — those by Seymour and Browne (1836-37), Browne in the British Household Edition (1873), and Nast in the American Household Edition, the equivalent scene in each case involves a less subtle satirisation of the hypocrite and "bad shepherd" in Phiz's "The Red-Nosed Man Discourseth" by Phiz (ch. 34) for August 1837 (plate), and "Tony Weller ejects Mr. Stiggins" (ch. 52) for November 1837 by Phiz (ch. 46) for August 1837 (plate). The Rev. Mr. Stiggins makes his first appearance only after Pickwick and Sam have taken up resident in the Fleet Prison, in chapter 45. The figure of Stiggins that we see in Phiz's "The Red-Nosed Man Discourseth" is consistent with that of the later illustrators and editions, Stiggins's most prominent characteristics being his skeletal thinness and his large, red nose, which immediately proclaims him an alcoholic and therefore a hypocrite.

Nast's 1873 woodcuts "'Governor in?' inquired Sam" (Ch. 27, p. 159) and "Mr. Stiggins raised his hands, and turned up his eyes" (ch. 45, p. 266), and even "Resuming his kicking with greater agility than before" (ch. 52, p. 305) are all far too cartoon-like and far less effective as humorous indictments of the sponging hypocrite, although the last of Nast's woodcuts conveys the energy with which Tony Weller acts as the agent of Nemesis in the American Household Edition.

In Phiz's sequence of fifty-seven illustrations for the first volume in the Household Edition, the Reverend Mr. Stiggins appears three times: once in a scene realised from ch. 33, in which Tony Weller assaults a red-nosed, clerical personage (not necessarily Stiggins, but for the red nose) (p. 233); again, when Stiggins and Mrs. Weller, accompanied by Tony, visit Sam in the Snuggery of the Fleet (p. 329); and finally, as in the original sequence, when, after his wife's death and Stiggins's looking for a bequest, Tony forcefully immerses the hypocrite in the horse-trough at The Marquis of Granby (p. 377), paralleling the mock "total immersion" baptism of "Tony Weller ejects Mr. Stiggins" (ch. 52) in the 1836-37 sequence (plate). In Phiz's three Household Edition woodcuts Stiggins does not fare well, as he is assaulted in the first and nearly drowned in the third. Complementing Stiggins's initial appearance in the text, Eytinge shows the dissenting preacher and "deputy shepherd" of Dorking's Emmanuel Chapel leisurely consuming his trademark beverage — a tumbler of hot water, three lumps of sugar, and pineapple rum — in Susan Weller's parlour at The Marquis of Granby. As opposed to the somewhat theatrical perspectives of Phiz and Nast, Eytinge shows the reader what Sam actually sees as his pokes his head into the room, and avoids the excesses of caricature and cartoon employed by the other illustrators. The 1867 illustration relies for the effectiveness of the twin characterisations on the clergyman's red nose and complacent expression, and on Mrs. Weller's self-satisfaction, to which the sketched in parlour setting is a suitable adjunct.

Other artists who illustrated this work

References

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: Facts On File and Checkmark Books, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Charles Dickens Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Il. Sol Eytinge; engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873.

Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Thomas Nast. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Bros., 1873.

Guiliano, Edward, and Philip Collins, eds. The Annotated Dickens. Vol. 1. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1986.


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Last modified 19 February 2012