The Rev. Paul returning with Despatches by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), twenty-sixth serial illustration and tenth dark plate for Charles Lever's Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Time, Part 13 (July 1858), Chapter XLIX, "Imminent Tidings," facing 398. The thoroughly inebriated Reverend Paul, driven by a German peasant, returns to "The Golden Hook" from Neuweid through mountainous terrain towards sunset with Grog Davis's despatches in his hat for safe keeping.

Bibliographical Note

This appeared as the twenty-sixth serial illustration for Charles Lever's Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Time, steel-plate etching; 9 cm high by 17.2 cm wide, or 3 inches high by 6 ¾ inches wide, framed: a dark plate. The story was serialised by Chapman and Hall in monthly parts, from July 1857 through April 1859. The twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth illustrations in the volume initially appeared in the same order at the very beginning of the thirteenth monthly instalment, which went on sale on 1 July 1858. This number included Chapters XLVIII through LI, and ran from 385 through 416.

Passage Illustrated: Grog hears the Reverend Paul's vehicle returning

At last, a low rumbling sound came up from the distance; he stopped and listened. It came and went at intervals, till at last he could distinctly.mark the noise of wheels, and the voice of a man urging on his horse. Davis quickened his pace, till, in the gray half-light, he descried a little one-horse carriage slowly advancing towards him. He could only see one man in it; but as it came nearer, he saw a heap of clothes, surmounted by what indicated the presence of another in the bottom of the conveyance, and Grog quickly read the incident by the aid of his own anticipation. There, indeed, lay Paul Classon, forgetful of the world and all its cares, his outstretched arm almost touching the wheel, and the heavy wooden shoe of the peasant grazing his face.

“Has he got the letters? Where are they?” cried Davis, eagerly, to the driver.

"They're in his hat." [Chapter XLIX, "Imminent Tidings," 397-98]

Commentary: Important News and Comic Relief

The illustrator contrasts the earnestness of the driver, cracking the whip, the toiling white carriage-horse, and the drunken clergyman. Although the Reverend Paul Classon hasn't a care in the world as he has undoubtedly drunk the three gold Napoleons that Davis gave him, one of the letters he carries is of the utmost importance. Phiz seems to have put more effort in depicting the white horse, straining against the traces, than on the inebriated, dissolute Anglican clergyman. Dressed in clerical black, the Rev. Paul is the complete antithesis of the dependable, hard-working white horse who has conveyed him to the post-office and back. The dark plate conveys the time of day, and emphasizes the picturesque backdrop.

Although Kit Davis (a. k. a., Captain Christopher) has promised the clerical confidence man Paul Classon an important job in a fortnight or so, he has an immediate task for him. Having given the Rev. Paul three gold Napoleons for travelling expenses, Grog requires his old schoolmate to drive to the post office at Neuweid, some eighteen miles away, to retrieve some correspondence that he has been expecting. The postmaster has sent word that "several letters have arrived, some to my address, some to my care" (394), and some for "the honourable Annesley Beecher" (395), his confederate and temporary guardian of his daughter, Lizzy. One of the letters, from Davenport Dunn, announces the imminent death of Lord Lackington, an event that may have serious financial consequences for Dunn. Since it would be inconvenient for David to lose control of Beecher, he tries to keep the intelligence about Lackington's medical condition from Beecher, who shortly may become Viscount Lord Lackington himself.

Other Scenes involving "Holy Paul" Classon

Working methods

Scanned image by Simon Cooke; 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.] Click on the image to enlarge it.


Lever, Charles. Davenport Dunn: A Man of Our Day. Illustrated by "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne). London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.

Lever, Charles. Davenport Dunn: The Man of The Day. Illustrated by "Phiz" (Hablot Knight Browne). London: Chapman and Hall, July 1858 (Part XIII).

Created 31 July 2019

Last modified 6 July 2020