Horse pursued by Wolves (facing p. 299) — Phiz's fourth illustration for Defoe's Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, including A Memoir of the Author, and an Essay on his Writings (London and New York), 1864. Steel engraving for Chapter XX, "Fight between Friday and a Bear." Particularly evident in the excellence of his horses, Phiz's style of composition is far more vigorous and anatomically correct than either Cruikshank's or Stothard's treatment of animals. Vignette: 8.0 cm high x 14.2 cm wide.

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: Self-confident Friday teases the Bear

The night was coming on, and the light began to be dusky, which made it worse on our side; but the noise increasing, we could easily perceive that it was the howling and yelling of those hellish creatures; and on a sudden we perceived three troops of wolves, one on our left, one behind us, and one in our front, so that we seemed to be surrounded with them: however, as they did not fall upon us, we kept our way forward, as fast as we could make our horses go, which, the way being very rough, was only a good hard trot. In this manner, we came in view of the entrance of a wood, through which we were to pass, at the farther side of the plain; but we were greatly surprised, when coming nearer the lane or pass, we saw a confused number of wolves standing just at the entrance. On a sudden, at another opening of the wood, we heard the noise of a gun, and looking that way, out rushed a horse, with a saddle and a bridle on him, flying like the wind, and sixteen or seventeen wolves after him, full speed: the horse had the advantage of them; but as we supposed that he could not hold it at that rate, we doubted not but they would get up with him at last: no question but they did. [Chapter XX, "Fight between Friday and a Bear," page 299]


Effective as Cruikshank's small-scale wood-engravings of the wolf attack may be within the text, Phiz's treatment is far more exuberant, and his animals more anatomically correct, in his essentially baroque treatment. Cruikshank's 1831 wood-engraving of the riderless horse, dropped into the text, is suspenseful, but anatomically less satisfying than Phiz's illustration of the horse since Cruikshank's beast is being pursued by small, almost fox-like wolves in an oak forest untouched by snow.

Cruikshank's rather substantial horse is well aware that a pack of wolves is hard on his heels, although Cruikshank has included only three of the "sixteen or seventeen" pursuers. The horse may be in a rush, but he does not strain to get away as Phiz's pale, lean horse does to vault the brook, even as he kicks two of the pursuing wolves, sending them tumbling. Another pair of predators attempt to get ahead of their swift prey (left foreground), and Phiz has increased the number of pursuers to seven, and included plenty of white space on the forest floor to suggest the recent snowfall. Whereas the placement of Phiz's illustration allows for an ideal synthesis of word (p. 229) and image (facing page), and the medium of the steel-engraving permits the addition of considerable detail, Cruikshank is at a disadvantage in that his small-scale tailpiece at the bottom of page 288, the text illustrated occurs on page 281, ahead, in fact, of the previous illustration, Crusoe and his Comrades repelling a massive Wolf attack, in terms of the action of the chapter.

Related Scenes from Cruikshank (1831) and Cassell's (1863-64)

Left: Cruikshank's dramatic tailpiece of the riderless horse attempting to escape the wolf-pack, Riderless horse after his rider was attacked by wolves (1831). Right: The Cassell's artist studies the behaviour of the formidable wolves, and relegates the human defenders and their mounts to an inferior position behind a cloud of gun-smoke in The Wolves driven off (1863-64). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material


De Foe, Daniel. Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, including A Memoir of the Author, and an Essay on his Writings. Illustrated by Phiz. London & New York: Routledge, Warne, and Routledge, 1864.

Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Last modified 17 February 2018