Lighting the Noble Captain — Nineteenth illustration, Chap. XVIII. Fourteenth regular plate by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz). 17 April 1841 (part 10). 3 ⅝ x 4 ½ inches (9.1 cm high by 11.6 cm wide), vignetted. Volume Three, Part 53 of Master Humphrey's Clock, in which Dickens's Barnaby Rudge originally appeared. The 1849 Bradbury and Evans two-volume edition: centre of 35 in Vol. III. Running Head: "Master Humphrey's Clock" (34). [Click on the images in order to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: Stagg and The Noble Captain overheard

"What a fool you are, Stagg!" said Mr. Tappertit, stepping on the pavement of the court, and brushing from his legs the dust he had contracted in his passage upward.

"His precious limbs!" cried Stagg, clasping one of his ankles. "Shall a Miggs aspire to these proportions! No, no, my captain. We will inveigle ladies fair, and wed them in our secret cavern. We will unite ourselves with blooming beauties, captain."

"I’ll tell you what, my buck," said Mr. Tappertit, releasing his leg; "I’ll trouble you not to take liberties, and not to broach certain questions unless certain questions are broached to you. Speak when you’re spoke to on particular subjects, and not otherways. Hold the torch up till I’ve got to the end of the court, and then kennel yourself, do you hear?"

"I hear you, noble captain."

"Obey then," said Mr. Tappertit haughtily. "Gentlemen, lead on!" With which word of command (addressed to an imaginary staff or retinue) he folded his arms, and walked with surpassing dignity down the court.

His obsequious follower stood holding the torch above his head, and then the observer saw for the first time, from his place of concealment, that he was blind. Some involuntary motion on his part caught the quick ear of the blind man, before he was conscious of having moved an inch towards him, for he turned suddenly and cried, "Who’s there?" [Chapter the Eighteenth, Vol. III, 34-35]


Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s dual portrait of the diminutve "Captain" and the blind porter: Sim Tappertit and Stagg (1867).

Dickens has already introduced readers to the cocky leader of the 'Prentice Knight of the Barbican in the eighth chapter's The Secret Society of the 'Prentice Knights, but Phiz had not at that point introduced the obsequious torch-bearer, the maitre-domo of the Knights' squalid cellar, the blind Stagg. The third character in this nocturnally set scene in the streets of the Barbican, hidden in a doorway, is the mysterious stranger, whom we now know is the rogue Barnaby Rudge, Senior, long thought murdered with his master. Once the little popinjay has walked away, Rudge reveals himself to Stagg, and asks to spend the night before the fire in his cellar. Thus, the illustrator combines characters from the satirical plot (represented by the caricatural Tappertit and Stagg) and melodramatic plot (suggested by the realistic, menacing figure of the robber in the darkened doorway).

Related Material including Other Illustrated Editions of Barnaby Rudge

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.]


Dickens, Charles. Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ('Phiz') and George Cattermole. London: Chapman and Hall, 1841; rpt., Bradbury & Evans, 1849.

________. Barnaby Rudge and Hard Times. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. 16 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. IX.

Hammerton, J. A. "Ch. XIV. Barnaby Rudge." The Dickens Picture-Book. The Charles Dickens Library Edition, illustrated by Harry Furniss. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. 213-55.

Vann, J. Don. "Charles Dickens. Barnaby Rudge in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February-27 November 1841." New York: MLA, 1985. 65-66.

Created 5 July 2002

Last modified 9 December 2020