The Sad State of Mr. Pecksniff by Harry Furniss in The Charles Dickens Library Edition, (1910) — from Chapter 9, "Town and Todgers's." (9.5 cm x 14.3 cm, vignetted), facing VII, 161. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: Pecksniff at Mrs. Todgers's

"Mr. Pecksniff!" cried Mrs. Todgers. "What a ghastly smile! Are you ill, sir?"

He pressed his hand upon her arm, and answered in a solemn manner, and a faint voice, "Chronic."

"Cholic?" cried the frightened Mrs. Todgers.

"Chron-ic," he repeated with some difficulty. "Chron-ic. A chronic disorder. I have been its victim from childhood. It is carrying me to my grave."

"Heaven forbid!" cried Mrs. Todgers.

"Yes, it is," said Mr. Pecksniff, reckless with despair. "I am rather glad of it, upon the whole. You are like her, Mrs. Todgers." . . . .

Mr. Pecksniff straightened himself by a surprising effort, as every one turned hastily towards him; and standing on his feet, regarded the assembly with a look of ineffable wisdom. Gradually it gave place to a smile; a feeble, helpless, melancholy smile; bland, almost to sickliness. "Do not repine, my friends," said Mr. Pecksniff, tenderly. "Do not weep for me. It is chronic." And with these words, after making a futile attempt to pull off his shoes, he fell into the fire-place.

The youngest gentleman in company had him out in a second. Yes, before a hair upon his head was singed, he had him on the hearth-rug — her father! [Chapter 9, "Town and Todgers's," 156-60: the picture's original caption has been emphasized]


Whereas other illustrators have focussed on young Bailey and the visit of the Pecksniffs to governess Ruth Pinch's situation, Fred Barnard chose almost the same moment as Furniss, although the Household Edition illustrator did not emphasize the physical comedy of the maudlin Pecksniff's falling into the fireplace. Indeed, it is quite likely that this Furniss illustration represents his comic revision of Barnard's 1872 farcical wood-engraving. The figures in the farcical Furniss composition are easily discerned if one uses the accompanying text as a blueprint for the illustration: Mrs. Todgers, a respectably dressed landlady, stands with a gesture indicative of surprise before the almost comatose inebriate, the Pecksniff sisters (pretty Mercy and plain Charity) beside her; in the background, left, is the middle-aged bachelor who reigns supreme among her lodgers, Mr. Jinkins; Mr. Gander, his second-in-command, is likely the young man to the right, rear, while the young man who pulls "her father" out of the fireplace is at present leaning on the chairback. The highly respectable visitor drawn by Hablot Knight Browne in the 1843-44 serial bears little resemblance to the falling-down-drunk among the lodgers in the Charles Dickens Library Edition volume's illustrations.

Related Materials: Background, Setting, Characterization

Other Programs of Illustration, 1843-1923

Relevant Pecksniff illustrations, 1843 to 1910

Left: Phiz's description of the visit of Pecksniff and his daughters to Ruth Pinch, Mrs. Todgers and The Pecksniffs Call Upon Miss Pinch (Ch. 9, April 1843). Centre: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s portrait of the posturing Pecksniffs, Mr. Pecksniff and his Daughters (1867). Right: Clayton J. Clarke's portrait of the disingenuous Pecksniff, "The English Tartuffe," Mr. Pecksniff (1910).

Above: Barnard's Pecksniff's posing as a melancholy widower, under the the influence of rather too much after-dinner punch at the London boarding-house, "Do not repine, my friends," said Mr. Pecksniff, tenderly. "Do not weep for me. It is chronic." (Chapter 9, the Household Edition, 1872).

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


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

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1844.

__________. Martin Chuzzlewit. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1863. Vols. 1 to 4.

__________. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Junior. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

__________. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1872. Vol. 2.

__________. Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. 7.

Guerard, Albert J. "Martin Chuzzlewit: The Novel as Comic Entertainment." The Triumph of the Novel: Dickens, Dostoevsky, Faulkner. Chicago & London: U. Chicago , 1976, 235-60.

Hammerton, J. A. Ch. 15, "Martin Chuzzlewit." The Dickens Picture-Book: A Record of the Dickens Illustrations with 600 Illustrations and a Frontispiece by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vois. London: Educational Book, 1910. XVII, 266-93.

Steig, Michael. "III. From Caricature to Progress: Master Humphrey's Clock and Martin Chuzzlewit." Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U. , 1978, 51-85.

__________. "Martin Chuzzlewit's Progress by Dickens and Phiz." Dickens Studies Annual 2 (1972): 119-49.

Vann, J. Don. Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985.

Created 23 January 2016

Last modified 17 January 2020