Solomon Frightened by a Ghost — Phiz's twenty-fourth regular contribution, the thirtieth illustration in the series, Chap. XXXIII (12 June 1841, Part 18). 3 ½ by 4 ½ inches (9 cm high by 11.1 cm wide), vignetted. Volume Three, Part 61 of Master Humphrey's Clock, in which Dickens's Barnaby Rudge originally appeared. The 1849 Bradbury and Evans two-volume edition: top of 109 in Vol. III, marking the jump of five years between Chapters XXXII and XXIII. Running Head: "Master Humphrey's Clock" (120). [Click on the images in order to enlarge them.]

Context of the Illustration: Another Anniversary of the Chigwell Murders

Phiz's ornamental initial letter "O": A Portly Middle-aged Man.

While he spoke the cry drew nearer and nearer, footsteps passed the window, the latch of the door was raised, it opened, was violently shut again, and Solomon Daisy, with a lighted lantern in his hand, and the rain streaming from his disordered dress, dashed into the room.

A more complete picture of terror than the little man presented, it would be difficult to imagine. The perspiration stood in beads upon his face, his knees knocked together, his every limb trembled, the power of articulation was quite gone; and there he stood, panting for breath, gazing on them with such livid ashy looks, that they were infected with his fear, though ignorant of its occasion, and, reflecting his dismayed and horror-stricken visage, stared back again without venturing to question him; until old John Willet, in a fit of temporary insanity, made a dive at his cravat, and, seizing him by that portion of his dress, shook him to and fro until his very teeth appeared to rattle in his head.

"Tell us what’s the matter, sir," said John, "or I’ll kill you. Tell us what’s the matter, sir, or in another second I’ll have your head under the biler. How dare you look like that? Is anybody a-following of you? What do you mean? Say something, or I’ll be the death of you, I will.’" [Chapter the Thirty-third, 124-25]

Commentary: 19 March 1780, 27 years after the Chigwell murders

The host of The Maypole, John Willet, standing in front of the fireplace, is immediately recognizable: he never changes his hairstyle or clothes. The principal speaker in the ensuing dialogue, Solomon Daisy, the church clerk, braces himself against the table, having just had a terrifying experience in the storm. He has just entered, carrying a lantern. The seated man, holding the tankard, is likely Tom Cobb, the village's general chandler and post-master; the tall man by the fireplace is long Phil Parkes, the local forest ranger. This is, in fact, the same group little changed that readers encountered in Chapter the First, and in Phiz's opening illustration The Unsociable Stranger, and the room is almost identical, too — except for the chair that the terrified Daisey has knocked over in his haste to get out of the storm. The absence of the "unsociable steanger" and Joe Willet from this scene, five years later, naturally makes readers as they survey the headpiece for the chapter wonder what has become of both of these characters.

A careful examination of the two plates that bracket the first movement of the story (1775-80) reveals that Phiz has utilized the same setting, particularly the seventeenth-century fireplace, but has aged the faces of Willet, Cobb, Parkes, and Daisey — Cobb in particular looks much older because Phiz has added a substantial amount of flesh and underlying fat to his visage, so that he is an inflated version of his former self. Although the aging is a little severe for John, perhaps reflecting Phiz's bias against this obstinate and insensitive father, his treatment of the aging of the long-headed Parkes is particularly subtle.

The Original Plate to which this is a Sequel

Phiz's initial plate sert in the taproom of the inn exactly five years earlier: An Unsociable Stranger (13 February 1841).

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.

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 9 November 2007

Last modified 17 December 2020