Mr. Pickwick meets Sam Weller — "Oh, werry well, Sir," replied Sam, "we shan't be bankrupts, and we shan't make our fort'ns. We eats our biled mutton without capers, and don't care for horse-radish ven ve can get beef." — Pickwick, 128 by Harry Furniss (1910).

Bibliographical Note

The illustration appears in the Charles Dickens Library Edition, Volume Two: Charles Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter X, "Clearing up All Doubts (If any Existed) of the Disinterestedness of Mr. A. Jingle's Character." Lithograph of a pen-and-ink drawing, 3 ½ inches high by 5 ⅜ inches wide (9 cm high by 13.7 cm wide), vignetted, full-page, horizontal plate vertically mounted; referencing text on page 128. London: Educational Book Company, 1873. This is the first complete, uniform edition of the Works of Charles Dickens illustrated entirely by one artist, since the Diamond Edition of 1867 significantly predates Dickens's demise.

The Passage Illustrated: The Momentous Meeting at the White Hart

Sam stole a look at the inquirer. He was a little high-dried man, with a dark squeezed-up face, and small, restless, black eyes, that kept winking and twinkling on each side of his little inquisitive nose, as if they were playing a perpetual game of peep-bo with that feature. He was dressed all in black, with boots as shiny as his eyes, a low white neckcloth, and a clean shirt with a frill to it. A gold watch-chain, and seals, depended from his fob. He carried his black kid gloves in his hands, and not on them; and as he spoke, thrust his wrists beneath his coat-tails, with the air of a man who was in the habit of propounding some regular posers.

"Pretty busy, eh?" said the little man.

"Oh, werry well, Sir," replied Sam, "we shan’t be bankrupts, and we shan’t make our fort’ns. We eats our biled mutton without capers, and don’t care for horse-radish ven ve can get beef."

"Ah," said the little man, "you’re a wag, ain’t you?"

"My eldest brother was troubled with that complaint," said Sam; "it may be catching — I used to sleep with him."

"This is a curious old house of yours," said the little man, looking round him.

"If you’d sent word you was a-coming, we'd ha' had it repaired;" replied the imperturbable Sam. [Chapter X, "Clearing up All Doubts (if any existed) of the Disinterestedness of Mr. Jingle's Character," 128]

Commentary: Plenty of Antecedents


The First Appearance of Sam Weller by Phiz.

Since Dickens's introduction of the Cockney wit Sam Weller had an immediate and long-lasting impact on the sales of Pickwick in monthly parts, illustrators beginning with Phiz in July 1836 have recorded Pickwick, Wardle, and their attorney, Perker, encountering the boots in the yard of the White Hart Inn, Southwark (otherwise, "The Borough"). Furniss makes it perfectly clear that Sam is discussing the nature of the inn as much with Pickwick as with Perker, positioned centrally and leaning in, as if to pay special attention to the words of his Cockney interlocutor. The bustling nature of the place, its archways and galleries, Furniss has merely sketched in to keep the eye well forward; a maid rushes by with an oil-lamp and a customer enjoys an early Southwark ale to the right and left respectively, but Furniss keeps the focus on the two largest figures, Pickwick, hands behind his back (a characteristic pose) and Sam, gesturing to the rooms above (where, of course, the pursuers expect to rescue Rachael Wardle from the cupidinous designs of the slippery Alfred Jingle, who has taken rooms here in order to present himself for a special marriage license, just across the Thames at Doctors' Commons, Paul's churchyard).

Having learned how not to compose the scene from Phiz's original illustration, First Appearance of Sam Weller (see above) which occurred in the fourth monthly part, Chapter 10, Furniss avoids distracting the reader with galleries, leaded-pane windows, haystacks, and customers, enabling the artist to make the figures much larger. Furniss presets his figures in the round, varies their postures, and positions Sam to dominate these well-fed, well-dressed middle-class gentlemen (distinguished as such by their tail-coats and top-hats) by his sprawling posture, striped vest, and upward gesture. The effect, especially compared to that of the original engraving, is masterful. Significantly, Phiz made another attempt to delineate the celebrated meeting by expanding or elaborating upon it for the 1874 Household Edition, in which Sam does not make a second appearance until encountered in the inn yard of The Angel at Bury St. Edmonds in Chapter Sixteen.

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-1910

Parallel Studies by Nast (1873) and Phiz (1874)

Above: New York cartoonist Thomas Nast's 1874 wood-engraving focusses on the pursuit of the devious Jingle and the purloined bride, as Perker points to the couple's room at the White Hart: "In this room?" murmured the little gentleman!"

Above: Although not revealing of the life of the inn as the original plate, the 1874 wood-engraving successfully increases the size of the four figures: Sam stole a look at the inquirer.

Parallel Studies by Eytinge (1867) and Kyd (1910)

Left: Although not recreating the initial meeting, Eytinge's illustration pairs up the famous picaresque duo: Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller (1867). Centre: Clayton J. Clarke's well-known Player's Cigarette card: Sam Weller (1910). Kyd's extra-illustration: Sam Weller (circa 1910).

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.]


Clarke, Clayton J. ('Kyd'). The Characters of Charles Dickens portrayed in a series of original watercolours by "Kyd." London, Paris, and New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, n. d.

Clarke, Clayton J. ('Kyd'). "Sam Weller." John Player Cigarette Cards. Nottingham, 1910. No. 14.

Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Robert Seymour, R. W. Buss, and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.

_____. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867.

_____. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. 16 vols. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873. Vol. 4.

_____. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.

Created 19 July 2019

Last modified 5 February 2020