Mr. Winkle's Situation when the Door 'blew-to'
Phiz (Hablot K. Browne)
15 cm high by 10 cm wide, vignetted, on a page 21.2 cm by 12.8 cm
Dickens's Pickwick Papers, facing p. 391
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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Textual Context for the Illustration
Mr. Winkle jumped out of bed, wondering very much what could possibly be the matter, and hastily putting on his stockings and slippers, folded his dressing-gown round him, lighted a flat candle from the rush-light that was burning in the fireplace, and hurried downstairs.
"Here's somebody comin' at last, ma'am," said the short chairman.
"I wish I wos behind him vith a bradawl,' muttered the long one.
"Who's there?" cried Mr. Winkle, undoing the chain.
"Don't stop to ask questions, cast-iron head," replied the long man, with great disgust, taking it for granted that the inquirer was a footman; "but open the door."
"Come, look sharp, timber eyelids," added the other encouragingly.
Mr. Winkle, being half asleep, obeyed the command mechanically, opened the door a little, and peeped out. The first thing he saw, was the red glare of the link-boy's torch. Startled by the sudden fear that the house might be on fire, he hastily threw the door wide open, and holding the candle above his head, stared eagerly before him, not quite certain whether what he saw was a sedan-chair or a fire-engine. At this instant there came a violent gust of wind; the light was blown out; Mr. Winkle felt himself irresistibly impelled on to the steps; and the door blew to, with a loud crash.
"Well, young man, now you have done it!" said the short chairman.
Mr. Winkle, catching sight of a lady's face at the window of the sedan, turned hastily round, plied the knocker with all his might and main, and called frantically upon the chairman to take the chair away again.
"Take it away, take it away," cried Mr. Winkle. "Here's somebody coming out of another house; put me into the chair. Hide me! Do something with me!"
All this time he was shivering with cold; and every time he raised his hand to the knocker, the wind took the dressing-gown in a most unpleasant manner. [Chapter XXXVI, "The Chief Features of which, will be found to be an Authentic Version of The Legend of Prince Bladud, and a most Extraordinary Calamity that befell Mr. Winkle," p. 391]
The smoking torch held aloft by the link-boy (left) illuminates the hilarious scene, viewed from above by a curious Mr. Pickwick. In vain does the wind-blown Winkle hold his burnt-down candle aloft as the chairman in the great-coat laughs at his obvious discomfiture. The tempestuous wind blows through all six characters on the ground from left to right, pushing Winkle into the open sedan-chair recently occupied by Mrs. Dowler.
Where the Pickwickians were staying. Left: George P. Landow.: Right: . John Wood the Younger, who had worked with his father on the Circus, designed this brilliant example of Bath neoclassical architecture, which saw completion in 1767.[Click on this image to enlarge them.] Photographs and caption by
At 3:00 A. M. Mrs. Dowler, returning to her rooms in the crescent by sedan-chair from a party, has commanded the chief (rotund) chairman and his tall, thin assistant to rap vigorously on the ground-floor door to awaken her husband, but to no avail. Phiz has conflated several moments, so that Pickwick is already looking out of the window, when in fact he only throws up the sash after Mrs. Craddock, misapprehending the situation, awakens Dowler with the cry that Mrs. Dowler is running away with another man — namely Winkle, who has clambered into the chair to avoid a party of ladies seeing him in his nightshirt. Phiz captures the tense mood of confusion and panic that determine Winkle's odd behaviour here, letting a stiff wind sweep through all the figures and the smoking link. Phiz's stage-managing of the night scene at Bath is masterful, as cross-hatching to the right engulfs that register, obscuring in darkness the block of buildings on Royal Crescent where the Pickwickians are staying.
Bibliographical Note: "Annexed References"
In the prolegomena issued with the final double number (November 1837), Chapman and Hall note what the editors of the serial have termed "annexed references." These page numbers, found at the bottom of each serial plate in the first twelve monthly parts, show precisely where the plates (which appeared at the beginning of each instalment) should be inserted, so that, for example, the number for Mr. Winkle Soothes the Refractory Steed is 47. The publisher altered this practice after the twelfth monthly part, and therefore felt that specific "Directions to the Binder" should indicate where each illustration should go in the binding of the parts, so that, for example, Mr. Winkle entering the Sedan Chair (No. 13) should "face page 391." The note suggests that the titles for many of the illustrations had not been finalised when the November 1837 instalment went to press; in the instance just mentioned, the final title for the April 1837 plate is Mr. Winkle's Situation when the Door 'blew to'.
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980.
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book Co., 1910.
Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U. P., 1978. Pp. 51-85.
Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). London: Chapman & Hall, 1837.
Last modified 16 August 2019