"I say — there's fowls to-morrow — not skinny ones. Oh, no!" — Fred Barnard's twelfth illustration for Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit in the Household Edition, Volume Two (1872), (Chapter IX), page 65. 10.6 cm x 13.8 cm, framed. Engraving by the Dalziels. The Pecksniff sisters with the Puritan Christian names: Charity ("Cherry")​and Mercy ("Merry") and the precocious servant, Bailey, Junior, at Mrs. Todgers's boarding house near Wren's Monument to the Great Fire of London. The dialogue provides a satirical glimpse into boarding-house domestic management and in particular what we today would recognise as compromises to food safety. 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 a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated

"I say," he whispered, stopping in one of his journeys to and fro, "young ladies, there's soup to-morrow. She's a-making it now. An't she a-putting in the water? Oh! not at all neither!"

In the course of answering another knock, he thrust in his head again.

"I say! There's fowls to-morrow. Not skinny ones. Oh no!"

Presently he called through the key-hole:

"There's a fish to-morrow. Just come. Don't eat none of him!" And, with this special warning, vanished again.

By-and-bye, he returned to lay the cloth for supper; it having been arranged between Mrs. Todgers and the young ladies, that they should partake of an exclusive veal-cutlet together in the privacy of that apartment. He entertained them on this occasion by thrusting the lighted candle into his mouth, and exhibiting his face in a state of transparency; after the performance of which feat, he went on with his professional duties; brightening every knife as he laid it on the table, by breathing on the blade and afterwards polishing the same on the apron already mentioned. When he had completed his preparations, he grinned at the sisters, and expressed his belief that the approaching collation would be of "rather a spicy sort."

"Will it be long, before it's ready, Bailey?" asked Mercy.

"No," said Bailey, "it is cooked. When I come up, she was dodging among the tender pieces with a fork, and eating of 'em." — Chapter 9, p. 74.


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.

_____. 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.

_____. 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.

_____. 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 9 July 2016