The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter XXXVI, 220.by Thomas Nast (1873), in Charles Dickens's
Right: Phiz's original April 1837 steel-engraving of the sedan-chair fiasco, Mr. Winkle's Situation when the Door 'blew to'.
Instead of focussing on Winkle and the sedan-chair as Phiz did in the original serial illustration, Nast realizes the scene immediately afterwards, in which he barricades himself in his room to avoid the murderous rage of the jealous Mr. Dowler, in Chapter XXXVI, "The Chief Features of which, will be found to be an Authentic Version of The Legend of Prince Bladud, and a most Extraordinary Calamity that befell Mr. Winkle," p. 220. Wood-engraving, 4 ¼ inches high by 5 5⁄16 inches wide (10.5 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the following page; descriptive headline: "On the Wrong Side of the Door" (p. 221). Oddly enough, although Phiz executed a different scene (Winkle and the sedan-chair) in both 1837 and 1874 editions for Chapter XXXVI, the 1874 Chapman and Hall edition uses precisely the same descriptive headline on p. 257.
Passage Illustrated: Winkle assumes the better part of valour
But Mr. Winkle didn't wait for him. He no sooner heard the horrible threat of the valorous Dowler, than he bounced out of the sedan, quite as quickly as he had bounced in, and throwing off his slippers into the road, took to his heels and tore round the crescent, hotly pursued by Dowler and the watchman. He kept ahead; the door was open as he came round the second time; he rushed in, slammed it in Dowler's face, mounted to his bedroom, locked the door, piled a wash-hand-stand, chest of drawers, and a table against it, and packed up a few necessaries ready for flight with the first ray of morning.
Dowler came up to the outside of the door; avowed, through the keyhole, his steadfast determination of cutting Mr. Winkle’s throat next day; and, after a great confusion of voices in the drawing-room, amidst which that of Mr. Pickwick was distinctly heard endeavouring to make peace, the inmates dispersed to their several bed-chambers, and all was quiet once more. [Chapter XXXVI, "The Chief Features of which, will be found to be an Authentic Version of The Legend of Prince Bladud, and a most Extraordinary Calamity that befell Mr. Winkle," pp. 233-234]
Commentary: Winkle made Fortune's Fool — Again!
After Pickwick has been found guilty in the trial for breach-of-promise and the judgment of the court has massively favoured Mrs. Bardell, Pickwick retreats to the fashionable eighteenth-century spa town of Bath in Somerset. The leader of the Pickwickians leases a house for himself on fashionable Royal Crescent, then subleases rooms to his travelling companions, the Dowlers. As she is returning late from a social function in a sedan chair, Mrs. Dowler asks the cabmen to double-knock on the front door in order to awaken her husband. Winkle in his nightshirt and dressing-gown answers the door, which then blows-to behind him and thereby leaves him stranded in the street at 3:00 a. m. As he looks out of his window at the street below, Mr. Dowler spies Winkle trying to get into the sedan-chair, and mistakenly assumes that he is running off with Mrs. Dowler. The jealous husband chases the hapless Winkle around the Crescent, but fails to catch him. In the Nast illustration, the cowardly Winkle barricades himself in his room to prevent Dowler from breaking in and assaulting him — and hurriedly packs.
Nast shows that Winkle has acted with preternatural alacrity, as he has single-handedly moved a substantial chest-of-drawers and a solid table to block Dowler's entrance. As he listens apprehensively for Dowler's imprecations from the other side of the door, Winkle packs a shirt in a small suitcase as he prepares to decamp to nearby Bristol. There, he will encounter the boozy medical students that he and Pickwick met at Wardle's Christmas celebrations, Bob Sawyer and Ben Allen. The latter bachelor also happens to be the brother of the beautiful young woman in whom Winkle is romantically interested. Thus, although the moment realised does not hold the comic potential of the sedan-chair scene, which Phiz has so ably exploited in his 1837 and 1874 designs, Nast has realised a scene that directly leads to the next illustration, "Bless my soul," everybody says, "somebody taken suddenly ill! Sawyer, late Nockemorf, sent for!" in Chapter XXXVIII.
Another View of Winkle's Misadventure: Phiz's in the 1874 Household Edition
Left: Winkle escapes from the sedan-chair and runs for his life in the 1874 Household Edition: He no sooner heard the horrible threat of the valorous Dowler, than he bounced out of the sedan chair (Ch. XXXVI). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-74
- Robert Seymour (1836)
- Hablot Knight Brown (1836-37)
- Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1861)
- Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1867)
- Hablot Knight Browne (1874)
- A selected list of illustrations by Harry Furniss for the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
- Clayton J. Clarke's Extra Illustration for Player's Cigarettes (1910)
- An introduction to the Household Edition (1871-79)
- Illustrators of Dickens's Pickwick Papers in the 1873 Household Edition
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.]
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne). London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. Volume 2.
Last modified 21 September 2021