"Mr. Nupkins's Court," the seventh full-page illustration by Sol Eytinge, Jr. 7.4 cm high by 9.9 cm wide. The Diamond Edition of Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867). 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.]

In this full-page illustration, the secondary characters who support the dictatorial old Tory George Nupkins, the "pale, sharp-nosed, half-fed, shabbily clad clerk" (200) Jinks (right) and his subordinate Muzzle, are purely incidental; rather, Eytinge focuses on the imperious and paranoid pre-1832 Great Reform Bill local magistrate who fears every perpetrator of a crime is a radical and that most of the charges he adjudicates are politically motivated. Like a worn-out John Bull, George Nupkins as Eytinge conceives of him appears in the following passage of the compact American "Diamond Edition," in which Mr. Muzzle ushers Mr. Pickwick and his companions into the "worshipful presence of that public-spirited officer" (205), sitting magisterially in his easy chair. He was "frowning with majesty and boiling with rage" (199) even before Miss Witherfield, "the middle-aged lady," accused Pickwick and Tupman of wanting to challenge her fiancé, Peter Magnus, to a duel. Now the Ipswich executive, incensed at the possibility of these "London cut-throats" (200) starting a riot, has had a posse of special constables under the direction of Grummer arrest the accused, who now stand before him:

The scene was an impressive one, well calculated to strike terror to the hearts of culprits, and to impress them with an adequate idea of the stern majesty of the law. In front of a big book-case, in a big chair, behind a big table, and before a big volume, sat Mr. Nupkins, looking a full size larger than any one of them, big as they were. The table was adorned with piles of papers; and above the farther end of it, appeared the head and shoulders of Mr. Jinks, who was busily engaged in looking as busy as possible. The party having all entered, Muzzle carefully closed the door, and placed himself behind his master's chair to await his orders. Mr. Nupkins threw himself back with thrilling solemnity, and scrutinised the faces of his unwilling visitors. [ch. 25, p. 205]

In the longer programs of illustration — those by Seymour and Browne (1836-37), Browne in the British Household Edition (1873), and Nast in the American Household Edition, the equivalent scene is "Mr. Weller Attacks the Executive of Ipswich" by Phiz (ch. 24) for December 1836 (plate), a far more boisterous composition altogether.

However, the juxtaposition of illustration and text would suggest that Eytinge has in mind a further part of the scene in Nupkins's court, when Pickwick requests a private interview with the magistrate. Nupkins, fearing that Sam has news of an assassination plot, agrees. Subsequent, then, to the courtroom scene illustrated, Pickwick denounces the magistrate's guest, Captain Fitz-Marshall, as "An unprincipled adventurer" (208) and confidence man, and then recounts Jingle's misdemeanours. This revelation proves sufficient for Nupkins to reverse his judgment and remit the fines.

Other artists who illustrated this work


Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File and Checkmark Books, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Charles Dickens Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Il. Sol Eytinge; engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873.

Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Thomas Nast. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Bros., 1873.

Guiliano, Edward, and Philip Collins, eds. The Annotated Dickens. Vol. 1. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1986.

Last modified 8 February 2012