Mr. Squeers executes an impromptu 'Pas Seul', for Chap. XLVI; forty-second illustration for the British Household Edition, illustrated by Fred Barnard with fifty-nine composite woodblock engravings (1875). The framed illustration is 9.5 x 13.8 cm (5 ⅜ by 4 ¼ inches), p. 301. Running head: "Nicholas falls into a Slight Mistake" (301). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: Squeers thumbs his nose at Nicholas

Mr. Snawley Enlarges on Parental Instinct (May 1838), in which Phiz introduces the devious Ralph Nickleby's verbose minion, Mr. Snawley, as Smike's natural father.

Ralph Nickleby withdrew. But Mr. Squeers, who had heard a portion of this closing address, and was by this time wound up to a pitch of impotent malignity almost unprecedented, could not refrain from returning to the parlour door, and actually cutting some dozen capers with various wry faces and hideous grimaces, expressive of his triumphant confidence in the downfall and defeat of Nicholas.

Having concluded this war-dance, in which his short trousers and large boots had borne a very conspicuous figure, Mr. Squeers followed his friends, and the family were left to meditate upon recent occurrences. [Chapter XLV, "Containing Matter of a surprising Kind," 300]

Commentary: Barnard's Revision of the Phiz Original

To heighten the comedy of the Snawley scene Barnard has eliminated Ralph Nickleby and Snawley, his minion, entirely. Presumably they have just exited by the cottage door behind Squeers. Thus, instead of focussing upon Snawley's spurious claim to be Smike's father (ably supported by Ralph's forged letters and certificates), Barnard has elected to depict Squeers's comic dance. John Browdie restrains Nicholas (centre) from retaliating, but seems vastly amused by Squeers's antics. Mrs. Nickleby (extreme left) does not know quite what to make of Squeers's hornpipe, and Smike (wringing his hands, up left) seems unaware of what is happening. Barnard has effectively changed the locus of control of the Chapter 45 illustration from the cunning Ralph and the verbose Snawley to the stalwart young Yorkshireman, upon whom his bride, Tilda, leans. Since the four young people are smiling, there is no tension or drama in the illustration of the "war-dance."

Relevant Illustrations from Other Editions (1867 through 1910)

Left: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s portrait of John Browdie, his wife, and her friend, Fanny Squeers, is positioned in this chapter (1867, The Diamond Edition). Right: C. S. Reinhart's American Household Edition portrait of John, barely suppressing his glee at outsmarting Squeers: John was sitting on the bed, with the reddest face ever seen.

Above: Harry Furniss's study of John Browdie in the scene in which Snawley celebrates Smike's escape: Mr. Snawley's thankfulness on discovering Smike (1910).

Related material, including front matter and sketches, by other illustrators

Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary 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.]


Barnard, J. "Fred" (il.). Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby, with fifty-nine illustrations. The Works of Charles Dickens: The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1875. XV. Rpt. 1890.

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, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. With fifty-two illustrations by C. S. Reinhart. The Household Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1872. I.

__________. Nicholas Nickleby. With 39 illustrations by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). London: Chapman & Hall, 1839.

__________. Nicholas Nickleby. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 4.

__________. "Nicholas Nickleby." Scenes and Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens, being eight hundred and sixty-six drawings by Fred Barnard et al.. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1908.

Created 16 September 2021