The Mandarin being fed by his female servants by George Cruikshank as the vignette realising a scene in the second part of the John Major edition of The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1831) — possibly Cruikshank's satirical response to an earlier illustration by Thomas Stothard. Chapter XIII, "Arrival in China," 5.2 cm high by 5.2 cm wide, middle of page 512. In this scene, Crusoe is merely the observer rather than an active participant. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

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.]

Passage Illustrated: The Mandarin does not even have to lift a hand to feed himself

We travelled on gently, but this figure of a gentleman rode away before us; and as we stopped at a village about an hour to refresh us, when we came by the country seat of this great man, we saw him in a little place before his door, eating a repast. It was a kind of garden, but he was easy to be seen; and we were given to understand that the more we looked at him the better he would be pleased.

He sat under a tree, something like the palmetto-tree, which effectually shaded him over the head, and on the south side; but under the tree was placed a large umbrella, which made that part look well enough: he sat lolling back in a great elbow-chair, being a heavy corpulent man, and had his meat brought him by two women-slaves: he had two more, whose office, I think, few gentlemen in Europe would accept of their service in, viz., one fed the 'squire with a spoon, and the other held the dish with one hand, and scraped off what he let fall upon his worship's beard and taffety vest, with the other; while the great brute thought it below him to employ his own hands in any of those familiar offices, which kings and monarchs would rather do than be troubled with the clumsy fingers of their servants. [Chapter XIII, "Arrival in China," pp. 511-512]

Related Material

Relevant Illustrations from Stothard (1790) and Cassell's (1863-64

Left: Thomas Stothard's picture of a tranquil dinner accompanied by music for the corpulent Mandarin, A Chinese gentleman at his repast. Right: The Cassell's illustrator establishes the physical setting without visual comment on the mandarin as Defoe depicts him in The City of Nankin (1864). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

In the Cassell's full-page composite-woodblock engraving, the illustrator provides a view of the exotic East that minimizes the figures: Crusoe introduced to a Chinese Merchant (1864). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner, with introductory verses by Bernard Barton, and illustrated with numerous engravings from drawings by George Cruikshank expressly designed for this edition. 2 vols. London: Printed at the Shakespeare Press, by W. Nichol, for John Major, Fleet Street, 1831.

De Foe, Daniel. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Written by Himself. Illustrated by Gilbert, Cruikshank, and Brown. London: Darton and Hodge, 1867?].

Defoe, Daniel. The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner. (1831). Illustrated by George Cruikshank. Major's Edition. London: Chatto & Windus, 1890.

Patten, Robert L. "Phase 2: "'The Finest Things, Next to Rembrandt's,' 1720–1835." Chapter 20, "Thumbnail Designs." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 1: 1792-1835. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1992; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1992. Pp. 325-339.

Last modified 6 March 2018