Mr. Wardle looked on, in silent wonder

Mr. Wardle looked on, in silent wonder. by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne). Household Edition (1874) of Dickens's Pickwick Papers, p. 41. Engraved by one of the Dalziels. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Although Browne seems to have been quite prepared to revisit his own work, he tended to avoid redrafting Seymour's illustrations. Phiz provides fresh interpretations of four of Seymour's original illustrations (numbers 3,5,7, and 8)), and adds twenty-one scenes that he did not originally attempt. The second of these is "Mr. Wardle looked on, in silent wonder" (p. 41), the fourth in which Alfred Jingle appears, to be seen just once more, a far cry from his dapper, self-confident persona, in utter despondency in the Fleet Prison (the thirty-fourth illustration in both the original and Household Edition).

As Pickwick observes the scene of male camaraderie in the Dingley Dell cricketers' tent at the "metropolis" of Muggleton in Kent, the London "Stranger" last seen at the Rochester charity ball, the out-of-work actor and confidence man Alfred Jingle, enthralls the company of Dingley Dellers with his rapid fire repartee about their sport, "talking all the while as if the whole of the arrangements [for food and drink] were under his especial patronage and direction" (45). The purpose of the eighth illustration in the Household Edition sequence is to reify the face and figure of the "Stranger" (whose hand Mr. Wardle grips so warmly in the frontispiece) and firmly associate the image with Jingle's name and distinctive staccato style of speaking. The "Stranger" is delighted to make the acquaintance of the wealthy squire, Mr. Wardle, through their mutual friend, Samuel Pickwick (thereby setting up the plot gambit of Jingle's eloping with Rachael Wardle). Presumably the cricketers practising in the background are "All-Muggleton," who have the first innings, according to the text.

Clearly Phiz felt that his 1873 narrative-pictorial sequence should include multiple images of the fascinating Jingle since he had a second opportunity — without Dickens's oversight — to develop a longer visual programme. While Thomas Nast, like Phiz in the original illustrations (responsibility for which he had just inherited from Seymour and Buss), focuses in the early Dingley Dell sequence of chapters on Tupman's incipient romance with Rachael Wardle, the "spinster aunt," Phiz in the Household Edition takes yet another opportunity to graph the career of the affable flim-flam man. As in the frontispiece (a revisiting of the June 1836 illustration "Wardle and his Friends Under the Influence of the Salmon"), realising the return of the besotted cricket party in chapter 8, Alfred Jingle is the focus of the cricket tent incident, with Wardle and Pickwick playing supporting roles. Indeed, given the opportunity to focus on characters other than Pickwick and Sam, Phiz seems to have decided to follow the fortunes of Jingle more carefully in the Household Edition, for in the fifty-seven illustrations Jingle appears a total of five times — in contrast, Jingle does not appear even once in Nast's Household Edition sequence. In that, having amassed debts and lived by his wits, Jingle and his servant, Job Trotter, eventually emigrate with Pickwick's assistance and begin a new life abroad, this distinctively voiced character anticipates Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield, although Jingle and Trotter sail for the West Indies at the end of the novel rather than Australia. Unlike the somewhat corpulent Micawber, however, Jingle can consume almost any amount of food and drink and still remain perfectly slender, suggesting that his metabolism is as rapid as his manner of speaking.

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 8 March 2012