Mr. Pickwick . . . . went lowly and gravely down the slide, with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart, amidst the gratified shouts of all the spectators by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne). Household Edition (1874) of Dickens's Pickwick Papers, p. 209. Engraved by one of the Dalziels. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Phiz had devoted just one scene in the 1836-37 series of illustrations to Mr. Pickwick's sliding on ice at Dingley Dell — apparently without the benefit of skates. Thomas Nast, who as an American may have found ice-skating more inspiring and more common, provides no less than three illustrations of the "Pickwick on ice" theme.

Two of Thomas Nast's illustrations of Pickwick's ice-skating adventures. [Click on these images to enlarge them.]

In the very first plate, "Went slowly and gravely down the slide with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart. [Page 178." Nast has appreciative bystanders enjoy the spectacle of Pickwick and the Fat Boy unassisted (and of city-man Sam Weller supported, centre) attempting to slide; despite the flaring of Pickwick's coat-tails, the image conveys little sense of speed, whereas Phiz's reinterpretation, with a more lithe Pickwick and an appreciative crowd on and off the ice surrounding him, suggests — if not speed — at least action. In the foreground of "I wish you'd let me bleed you" (p. 177), Nast places the fallen Winkle as Pickwick and the Fat Boy watch from a distance, whereas Phiz consigns Winkle's fall to the background. The third Nast elaboration on the theme of urban-dwellers performing winter sports ineptly is perhaps his most vigorous as Pickwick disappears into the pond when the rest of the company hurriedly clear the ice in "A large mass of ice disappeared" (p. 179). Pickwick's gloves and hat remain suspended in mid-air, as his head and shoulders are lost to view. Nast's backdrop is noticeably bleaker than Phiz's, for his sky is dark, his trees without foliage, and the shoreline far away; in contrast, Phiz depicts a more convivial scene, with a much larger company, most of whom are young adults, and a number women; Phiz's backdrop has the same substantial manor house, but his lighter sky contains eight birds and greenery.

Related Material

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. Formatting by George P. Landow. [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.]

References

Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874; New York: Harpers, 1874.


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Last modified 9 March 2012