The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Harper & Bros. New York Household Edition, for Chapter LVI. 10.5 x 13.6 cm (4 by 5 ⅜ inches), framed. Running head: "The Usurer Loses" (303). [Click on the images to enlarge them.][Page 303] by Charles Stanley Reinhart (1875), in Charles Dickens's
Passage Illustrated: Arthur Gride discovers the theft of the Bray will
Left: Fred Barnard's 1875 woodblock engraving of Ralph Nickleby's trying to ascertain from Gride what Peg Sliderskew has stolen: "There is something missing, you say," said Ralph, shaking him furiously by the collar. "What is it?" (1875)
Gride, who had been peering narrowly about the room, fell, at that moment, upon his knees before a large chest, and uttered a terrible yell.
"How now?" said Ralph, looking sternly round.
"Robbed! robbed!" screamed Arthur Gride.
"Robbed! of money?"
"No, no, no. Worse! far worse!"
"Of what then?" demanded Ralph.
"Worse than money, worse than money!" cried the old man, casting the papers out of the chest, like some beast tearing up the earth. "She had better have stolen money — all my money — I haven’t much! She had better have made me a beggar than have done this!"
"Done what?" said Ralph. "Done what, you devil’s dotard?"
Still Gride made no answer, but tore and scratched among the papers, and yelled and screeched like a fiend in torment.
"There is something missing, you say," said Ralph, shaking him furiously by the collar. "What is it?"
"Papers, deeds. I am a ruined man. Lost, lost! I am robbed, I am ruined! She saw me reading it — reading it of late — I did very often — She watched me, saw me put it in the box that fitted into this, the box is gone, she has stolen it. Damnation seize her, she has robbed me!"
"Of what?" cried Ralph, on whom a sudden light appeared to break, for his eyes flashed and his frame trembled with agitation as he clutched Gride by his bony arm. "Of what?"
"She don’t know what it is; she can’t read!" shrieked Gride, not heeding the inquiry. "There’s only one way in which money can be made of it, and that is by taking it to her. Somebody will read it for her, and tell her what to do. She and her accomplice will get money for it and be let off besides; they’ll make a merit of it — say they found it — knew it — and be evidence against me. The only person it will fall upon is me, me, me!" [Chapter LVI, "Ralph Nickleby, baffled by his Nephew in his late Design, hatches a Scheme of Retaliation which Accident suggests to him, and takes into his Counsels a tried Auxiliary," 302]
Commentary: Peg Sliderskew has robbed Arthur Gride on his wedding day
Arthur Gride's slightly demented and largely deaf housekeeper, whom Barnard characterizes as a hideous crone, has absconded with certain valuable papers belonging. The master discovers the theft of his deal box from his chest of papers only after Walter Bray has suddenly died and Nicholas has whisked the bride away from Gride and his uncle. Her motive may well have been jealousy, for she resents that Gride has chosen an adolescent bride rather than a woman of his own age, such as herself. Gride takes cold comfort in the fact that the illiterate Peg will not be able to assess the value of what she has stolen, and will therefore require some assistance in assessing the value of the legal documents. One particular document concerns him since she has taken a bond that implicates him in the plot to defraud Madeline Bray and control her considerable inheritance in her grandfather's will. Ralph Nickleby determines to intervene, and offers Squeers a hundred pounds to recover the papers.
Reinhart shows Gride raving as he hold his face in his hands. His eyes are closed as he screams "I am robbed! I am ruined!" according to the caption, which involves a melodramatic reformatting of the punctuation of the Dickens text realised: "I am robbed, I am ruined!" As in the Barnard version, Gride has carelessly strewn papers from within the trunk upon the floor, and now realizes that the deal box containing the incriminating bond is missing. The more rational Ralph shakes Gride's shoulder as he asks him to explain the nature of the theft. Shadowing furniture in the background implies that the pair are in Gride's upstairs parlour or home office. Both are still fashionably dressed for Gride's wedding which has just been aborted by the untimely death of Walter Bray and Nicholas's absconding with the unconscious bride.
Related material by other illustrators (1838 through 1910)
- Nineteenth-Century Britain, a Nation of Debtors
- Convicted Debtors in Charles Dickens's Life and Work
- Nicholas Nickleby (homepage)
- Phiz's 38 monthly illustrations for the novel, April 1838-October 1839.
- Cover for monthly parts
- Charles Dickens by Daniel Maclise, engraved by Finden
- "Hush!" said Nicholas, laying his hand upon his shoulder. (Vol. 1, 1861)
- The Rehearsal (Vol. 2, 1861)
- "My son, sir, little Wackford. What do you think of him, sir?" (Vol. 3, 1861)
- Newman had caught up by the nozzle an old pair of bellows . . . (Vol. 4, 1861).
- Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s 18 Illustrations for the Diamond Edition (1867)
- Fred Barnard's 59 Illustrations for the British Household Edition (1875)
- Harry Furniss's 29 illustrations for Nicholas Nickleby in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
- Kyd's four Player's Cigarette Cards (1910).
Scanned image, 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.]
Barnard, J. "Fred" (il.). Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby, with fifty-nine illustrations. The Works of Charles Dickens: The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1875. Volume 15. Rpt. 1890.
Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. With fifty-two illustrations by C. S. Reinhart. The Household Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875. I.
_______. Nicholas Nickleby. With 39 illustrations by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). London: Chapman & Hall, 1839.
_______. Nicholas Nickleby. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. IV.
__________. "Nicholas Nickleby." Scenes and Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens, being eight hundred and sixty-six drawings by Fred Barnard et al.. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1908.
Created 18 September 2021