"Come on," said the cab-driver, sparring away like clockwork. "Come on — all four on you" (title given in the index of illustrations, p. x) by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne). Household Edition (1874) of Dickens's Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Chapter II, "The First Day's Journey, and the First Evening's Adventures; with their Consequences," p. 1. Wood-engraving, 4 ⅜ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (11.2 cm high by 13.6 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on pages 4 and 5; descriptive headline: "The Cabman and the Horse" (p. 8).

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. Formatting, color correction, and linking by George P. Landow. [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.]

Text illustrated: The Pugnacious Cabman, Reprised

"Would anybody believe," continued the cab–driver, appealing to the crowd, "would anybody believe as an informer'ud go about in a man's cab, not only takin' down his number, but ev'ry word he says into the bargain' (a light flashed upon Mr. Pickwick — it was the note–book).

"Did he though?" inquired another cabman.

"Yes, did he," replied the first; "and then arter aggerawatin' me to assault him, gets three witnesses here to prove it. But I'll give it him, if I've six months for it. Come on!" and the cabman dashed his hat upon the ground, with a reckless disregard of his own private property, and knocked Mr. Pickwick's spectacles off, and followed up the attack with a blow on Mr. Pickwick's nose, and another on Mr. Pickwick's chest, and a third in Mr. Snodgrass's eye, and a fourth, by way of variety, in Mr. Tupman's waistcoat, and then danced into the road, and then back again to the pavement, and finally dashed the whole temporary supply of breath out of Mr. Winkle's body; and all in half-a-dozen seconds.

"Where's an officer?’ said Mr. Snodgrass.

"Put 'em under the pump," suggested a hot–pieman.

"You shall smart for this," gasped Mr. Pickwick.

"Informers!" shouted the crowd.

"Come on," cried the cabman, who had been sparring without cessation the whole time. [Chapter II, "The First Day's Journey, and the First Evening's Adventures; with their Consequences," pp. 4-5]

Commentary: Redrafting Seymour's 1836 Illustration

Phiz vigorously reinterprets Seymour's The Pugnacious Cabman (April 1836) in this uncaptioned 1873 head-piece that leads off the first chapter (although the incident realised actually occurs in Chapter 2). Oddly enough, Phiz has interjected a figure who looks very much Sam Weller onto the cab, rear left. He has, moreover, minimized the background, including the Regency blocks of flats in Seymour's original, as he has focussed on the confrontation of a terrified Pickwick and a very sturdy cabman, whereas Seymour had made a rather belligerent Pickwick the larger of the two figures (left) and had given the hot pie-man greater prominence. With no visual tradition as a context, Seymour had shown Pickwick in a buttoned-up "duster," whereas Phiz has given us the familiar figure of the tailcoated, rotund figure of Pickwick in his habitual white waistcoat. By changing the orientation of the original Seymour plate, Phiz in his 1874 Household Edition illustration Phiz was able to move the focus from a panorama of a crowded street scene to the conflict between the surly cabdriver. Moreover, Phiz has signalled by including Pickwick's wearing his spectacles once again that, despite the supporting caption, the altercation has already subsided and that Alfred Jingle (who must be the lank figure to the right) is now intervening as Pickwick's saviour.

Although Pickwick and his colleagues encounter such secondary antagonists as Dr. Slammer and Captain Boldwood, the story's principal antagonist, out-of-work "stroller" Alfred Jingle, conspicuous by his green coat and his distinctive, staccato ode of speech in the text, makes his appearance after Pickwick's initial pummelling by the cabman. Jingle, as Dickens dramatizes him, knows how to play to a crowd as he attaches himself to Pickwick (undoubtedly with an eye to the main chance):

He was about the middle height, but the thinness of his body, and the length of his legs, gave him the appearance of being much taller. The green coat had been a smart dress garment in the days of swallow-tails, but had evidently in those times adorned a much shorter man than the stranger, for the soiled and faded sleeves scarcely reached to his wrists. It was buttoned closely up to his chin, at the imminent hazard of splitting the back; and an old stock, without a vestige of shirt collar, ornamented his neck. His scanty black trousers displayed here and there those shiny patches which bespeak long service, and were strapped very tightly over a pair of patched and mended shoes, as if to conceal the dirty white stockings, which were nevertheless distinctly visible. His long, black hair escaped in negligent waves from beneath each side of his old pinched-up hat; and glimpses of his bare wrists might be observed between the tops of his gloves and the cuffs of his coat sleeves. His face was thin and haggard; but an indescribable air of jaunty impudence and perfect self-possession pervaded the whole man.

Such was the individual on whom Mr. Pickwick gazed through his spectacles (which he had fortunately recovered), and to whom he proceeded, when his friends had exhausted themselves, to return in chosen terms his warmest thanks for his recent assistance. [Chapter II, "The First Day's Journey, and the First Evening's Adventures; with their Consequences," p. 9]

Parallel Scenes by Seymour (1836) and Furniss in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)

Left: Robert Seymour's April 1836 steel-engraving, The Pugnacious Cabman, which fails to introduce Jingle. Right: Harry Furniss's derivative illustration, Mr. Pickwick and the Cabman. (1910) [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Eytinge's Diamond Edition (1867) and Kyd's twin studies of Alfred Jingle (1910)

Left: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s dual character study of the slippery actor and his valet, Mr. Alfred Jingle and Job Trotter. Centre: Clayton J. Clarke's Player's Cigarette Card No. 8, Alfred Jingle (1910). Right: Kyd's extra illustration, Alfred Jingle, Esq., of No Hall, Nowhere. (1910) [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material: The Household Edition Volumes

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-74


Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1999.

Dickens, Charles. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"). The Authentic Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1901 [rpt. of the 1868 volume, based on the 30 May 1857 volume].

_____. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Frontispieces by Felix Octavius Carr Darley and Sir John Gilbert. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon & Co., 1863. 4 vols.

_____. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. 14 vols.

_____. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. The Household Edition. 22 vols. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1873. Vol. 2.

_____. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874. Vol. 5.

_____. Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 2.

Last modified 23 June 2019