The Peerybingle Family sets out on a Visit by Luigi Rossi (70). 1912. 10.3 x 15.1 cm, framed. Dickens's The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home (A and F Pears edition). Most of the plates have titles in the "List of Illustrations" (11-12) that do not correspond to the captions beneath the illustrations themselves. Here, for example, a quotation augments the short title, and points to the exact moment that Rossi has illustrated: "'John, father;' . . . exclaimed the Blind Girl. And, saying so, she laid her poor blind face on Caleb's shoulder." (repeating a passage from the top of page 67).

Context of the Illustration: The Peerybingles arrive by van for the Pic-nic

"John? You've got the basket with the Veal and Ham-Pie and things; and the bottles of Beer?" said Dot. "If you haven't, you must turn round again, this very minute."

"You're a nice little article," returned the Carrier, "to be talking about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter of an hour behind my time."

"I am sorry for it, John," said Dot in a great bustle, "but I really could not think of going to Bertha's — I wouldn't do it, John, on any account — without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer. Way!"

This monosyllable was addressed to the Horse, who didn't mind it at all. ["Chirp the Second," 69]


Rossi offers several interpretations of the vehicle upon which the Carrier's family depends for both its outings and its livelihood. Although Fred Barnard and E. A. Abbey in the Household Edition do not depict John Peerybingle's van or wagon, the original 1845 edition offered Rossi several possible models. Since Dickens allowed each illustrator a certain degree of latitude in the depiction of characters and objects in the story, it is not surprising that Richard Doyle should configure his van quite differently from the vehicle which Clarkson Stanfield drew. Such discrepancies do not occur in Rossi's series, but the straight-on view of the engraved title does not give us the same sense of the wagon's size, although both of Rossi's vans bear some resemblance to their counterparts in the first edition.

One may compare these illustrators’s depictions of freight wagons to Alfred Parsons’s illustrations of a story by Thomas Hardy. In his four-instalment serialisation of Wessex Folk in Harper's New Monthly Magazine Hardy builds much of the plot of the initial story, "Tony Kytes, The Arch-Deceiver" (March 1891), around the progress of such a Dorset carrier's van, and the opening magazine illustration by Parsons, features a number of these vehicles parked outside Casterbridge's White Hart Inn. However, Parsons consistently shows these vans as having four wheels.

Other Relevant illustrations of the Carrier's Van (1845 and 1905)

Left: Doyle's inside-outside scene of the Carrier's arrival and his settling in by his hearthside: Chirp the First (1845), which introduces the van and the dog, Boxer. Centre: Stanfield's atmospheric realisation of the carrier's return, The Carrier's Cart (1845). Right: Rossi's earlier depiction of John Peerybingle's van: Engraved Title: The Carrier and His Van.

C. E. Brock's version of John Peerybingle's discovering the elderly Stranger at the roadside, "passage-paid": "Where are your young bridegrooms now!" (1905).

Illustrations for the Other Volumes of the Pears' Centenary Christmas Books of Charles Dickens (1912)

Each contains about thirty illustrations from original drawings by Charles Green, R. I. — Clement Shorter [1912]

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. Christmas Books. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1878.

_____. Christmas Storiess. Illustrated by A. E. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.

_____. The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home. Illustrated by John Leech, Daniel Maclise, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield, and Edwin Landseer. Engraved by George Dalziel, Edward Dalziel, T. Williams, J. Thompson, R. Graves, and Joseph Swain. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1846 [December 1845].

_____. A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth. Illustrated by C. E. [Charles Edmund] Brock. London: J. M. Dent, 1905; New York: Dutton, rpt., 1963.

_____. The Cricket on the Hearth. Illustrated by L. Rossi. London: A & F Pears, 1912.

Created 30 April 2020

Last modified 23 May 2020