"To describe the confusion that ensued would be impossible" by Thomas Nast in the American Household Edition (1873), p. 44.

Bibliographical Note

The illustration appears in the American Edition of Charles Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter VII, "How Mr. Winkle, instead of shooting at the Pigeon, and killing the Crow, shot the Crow and wounded the Pigeon; How the Dingley Dell Cricket Club played All-Muggleton, and how All-Muggleton dined at the Dingley Dell expense; with other interesting and instructive matters," page 44. Wood-engraving, 4 inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (10.2 cm high by 13.4 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the previous page; descriptive headline: "A Well-Intended Shot" (p. 43). New York: Harper & Bros., Franklin Square, 1873.

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.]

Passage Illustrated: The Pickwickians prove their ineptitude in Hunting

Mr. Winkle fired. There was a scream as of an individual — not a rook — in corporal anguish. Mr. Tupman had saved the lives of innumerable unoffending birds by receiving a portion of the charge in his left arm. [p. 43]

Commentary: Further Ineptitude in Rural Sports

This is the point in early serialisation (in June 1836) at which Robert Seymour's suicide on 20 April 1836 necessitated a sudden change of illustrator. Dickens took R. W. Buss on trial with a study of Wardle and his Friends Under the Influence of the Salmon (revised by Phiz for the June 1836 number), but rejected his work as unsuitable. Phiz did not enter the program until Chapter 8. In their Household Edition programmes, Phiz and Nast have seized upon the same serio-comic moment. Nast's treatment is rather more melodramatic, but also better organised than Phiz's, in which Tupman merely holds his arm as the party of birders, shocked and immobile, looks on. Winkle in particular seems stunned rather than suitably distressed that he has shot his friend by accident.

Although both artists have recognised the comic possibilities of the Dingley Dell rook-hunting expedition, they have realised different moments as Tupman, Snodgrass, and Winkle join Pickwick, Wardle, and Joe (the Fat Boy) in the rookery. Invited to shoot after their host has brought down a plump rook, Winkle (who has heretofore praised himself as an expert marksman) fails in his first attempt because he has not loaded the fowling-piece with a percussion cap. On the second attempt, Winkle fires just as Tupman looks out from behind a tree. In the Nast illustration, Tupman is already laid out on the ground; Mr. Winkle has yet to kneel "horror-stricken" (44) beside the victim, but is clearly distressed that his ineptitude with the firearm (on the ground, just behind him) has resulted in so dire a mishap. Although Dickens does not describe Pickwick's reaction, Nast plausibly realizes the leader's shock, and has placed him nearest the fallen Tupman. Wardle and Joe (holding the first rook, which Wardle shot) are in the background, and further back still (in urban top-hat) is Snodgrass. One of the boys whose mission was to "start the game" (43) is just climbing down from his perch in the oak tree. As the readers respond to the accompanying text, despite contrary appearances in the illustration on the same page, they learn that the mishap has not proven fatal to the unfortunate spectator, whose arm his "anxious" friends subsequently bind up with pocket-handkerchiefs before transporting him to the manor house. As with their ineptitude with the horses earlier, Winkle's inexperience here has caused some minor damage (not the least to the group's pride as outdoorsmen!), but the Pickwickians have survived intact to blunder on through further rural misadventures.

Parallel Scene by Phiz in the British Household Edition (1874)

Above: Phiz's less cartoonish treatment of the farcical scene in which Winkle, Pickwick's lieutenant at this point in the episodic narrative, a thorough urbanite, pretends to be knowledgable about firearms and hunting, but reveals his total ignorance of such matters when he fails to charge his piece, and then accidentally wounds a hapless companion in There was a scream as of an individual — not a rook — in corporeal anguish. Mr. Tupman had saved the lives of innumerable unoffending birds by receiving a portion of the charge in his left arm. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Various Interpretations of Nathaniel Winkle, 1836 to 1910

Related Material: Other 19th c. Programs of Illustration


Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980.

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

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873.

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

Last modified 3 September 2019