Resumes his kicking with greater agility than before by Thomas Nast. Illustration for the Household Edition of Dickens's Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Chapter LII, 305.

Bibliographical Note

Nast designed this final group illustration in Chapter LII, "Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old proverb, that Adversity brings a man acquainted with Strange Bedfellows. Likewise containing Mr. Pickwick's extraordinary and startling Announcement to Mr. Samuel Weller," p. 305. This plate concludes the subseries involving Tony Weller and the Reverend Stiggins. Wood-engraving, 3 ½ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (9.1 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the following page; descriptive headline: "Mr. Stiggins Calls" (page 305). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage illustrated: Stiggins's Comeuppance

. . . when Stiggins stopped for breath [in the midst of his consuming his customary grog composed of sugar pine-apple rum, and hot water), [Tony Weller] darted upon him, and snatching the tumbler from his hand, threw the remainder of the rum-and-water in his face, and the glass itself into the grate. Then, seizing the reverend gentleman firmly by the collar, he suddenly fell to kicking him most furiously, accompanying every application of his top-boot to Mr. Stiggins's person, with sundry violent and incoherent anathemas upon his limbs, eyes, and body.

"Sammy," said Mr. Weller, "put my hat on tight for me."

Sam dutifully adjusted the hat with the long hatband more firmly on his father's head, and the old gentleman, resuming his kicking with greater agility than before, tumbled with Mr. Stiggins through the bar, and through the passage, out at the front door, and so into the street — the kicking continuing the whole way, and increasing in vehemence, rather than diminishing, every time the top-boot was lifted. [The Household Edition, Ch. LII, "Illustrative, like the preceding one, of the old proverb, that Adversity brings a man acquainted with Strange Bedfellows," pp. 458-59 in the Chapman & Hall printing; p. 306 in the Harper & Bros. printing]

Commentary: Stiggins a Recipient of Poetic Justice


Right: Tony Weller ejects Mr. Stiggins by Phiz (Nov., 1837).

The scene which the American satirical cartoonist has chosen to illustrate was one depicted twice by Phiz (1837 and 1873). In the text it occurs shortly after the sudden death of Sam Weller's "mother-in-law" (stepmother) Susan, a devoted member of the Reverend Stiggins's gullible congregation. Vulture-like, Stiggins hovers over Tony at The Marquis of Granby in hopes of securing a bequest for the Emanuel (non-conformist chapel). Tony regards the hypocritical reprobate as the inadvertent cause of Susan's death, for Stuggins's prolonged sermon which he delivered while she was sitting on the grass in the rain, listening intently, occasioned her catching a severe cold that led to complications. Phiz's choice of the dunking scene to illustrate this chapter in both the serial and the 1874 Household Edition seems more effective, partly because the exterior scene permitted the British illustrator to include a number of background details and to capture the pregnant moment when Tony is about to precipitate Stiggins into the tavern's horse-trough.


Left: Mr. Stiggins (1910) by Kyd. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Sam has repaired to his father's pub as soon as he received a letter at London's George and Vulture announcing her demise. In the background, Sam cheers on his incensed father as he assaults the Reverend Stiggins, who has precipitated this comeuppance by asking about an inheritance. The alcoholic preacher has just helped himself to his favourite beverage (pineapple rum, sugar, and hot water) on the strength of some sort of financial commitment to the Emanuel Chapel that he feels Tony's deceased wife has made in her will. Suddenly Tony throws the hot liquor in Stiggins's face, and proceeds to eject him forcefully from the bar, through the passage, and out into the street. Nast has realised the interior scene in which Stiggins is completely airborn and Tony has but one foot on the ground, while Sam complacently observes the action inside The Marquis of Granby. Thus, all three illustrations culminate in this operation of comic nemesis.

Phiz's British Household Edition Version of Stiggins's Comeuppance (1874)

Above: It was a still more exciting spectacle to behold Mr. Weller . . . . . immersing Mr. Stiggins's head in a horse-trough full of water, and holding it there until he was half suffocated by Hablot Knight Browne. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-74

Related Material

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