(Pickwick thoroughly enjoying all that female attention at Wardle's Christmas party) in Chapter XXVIII, page 169.
Chapter XXVIII, "A Good-humoured Christmas Chapter, Containing a Account of a Wedding, and Some Other Sports beside: which although in their way, even as good customs as marriage itself, are not quite so religiously kept up, in these Degenerate Times," first appeared as the second of three chapters in the tenth monthly part with a Phiz engraving in January 1837. Prior to working on his own Christmas illustration, Nast probably would not have seen Phiz's radical revision of Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's (see below) as a composite woodblock engraving for the Chapman and Hall Household Edition, issued in 1874. Nast's shifting of the subject of the original steel engraving perhaps pays tribute to the iconic status of Mr. Samuel Pickwick amidst the Dingley Dell Christmas scenes. Half-page composite woodblock-engraving, 4 1⁄8 inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (10.5 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed; referencing the text beginning at the bottom of the same page; descriptive headline: "Under the Mistletoe" (p. 169).
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.]
Passage Illustrated: Pickwick enjoying himself at Wardle's Christmas Party
Now, the screaming had subsided, and faces were in a glow, and curls in a tangle, and Mr. Pickwick, after kissing the old lady as before mentioned, was standing under the mistletoe, looking with a very pleased countenance on all that was passing around him, when the young lady with the black eyes, after a little whispering with the other young ladies, made a sudden dart forward, and, putting her arm round Mr. Pickwick’s neck, saluted him affectionately on the left cheek; and before Mr. Pickwick distinctly knew what was the matter, he was surrounded by the whole body, and kissed by every one of them.
It was a pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick in the centre of the group, now pulled this way, and then that, and first kissed on the chin, and then on the nose, and then on the spectacles, and to hear the peals of laughter which were raised on every side; but it was a still more pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick, blinded shortly afterwards with a silk handkerchief, falling up against the wall, and scrambling into corners, and going through all the mysteries of blind-man’s buff, with the utmost relish for the game, until at last he caught one of the poor relations, and then had to evade the blind-man himself, which he did with a nimbleness and agility that elicited the admiration and applause of all beholders. [Chapter XXVIII, "A Good-humoured Christmas Chapter, Containing a Account of a Wedding, and Some Other Sports beside: which although in their way, even as good customs as marriage itself, are not quite so religiously kept up, in these Degenerate Times," pp. 109-110]
Commentary: A Christmas Party at Dingley Dell, Manor Farm
The good natured Christmas scenes at Dingley Dell Farm in Kent were among readers’ favourites on both sides of the Atlantic. (American readers received the monthly parts almost as soon as their British counterparts thanks to the piracy of Philadelphia publishers Carey, Lea, and Blanchard in 1836-37.) Nast's Mr. Pickwick (see immediate right) cuts a charming figure under the mistletoe at Dingley Dell in the frontispiece to the 1873 American Household Edition — and again in this plate, situated within the Christmas chapters. Capturing something of the sentimentality of the Christmas chapters, Nast depicts confirmed bachelor Samuel Pickwick surrounded by a bevy of young women, in particular, Mr. Wardle's adolescent nieces. Nast's drawing of the girls seems rather crude and cartoon-like, and they certainly do not seem all that attractive, even though Dickens describes them as having glowing faces and fetching curls. Nevertheless, the American illustrator makes the festive scene appealing, despite the mask-like quality in what should be Pickwick's delighted expression, and at least partly recalls the original serial illustration Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's, in which the protagonist gallantly offers Mr. Wardle's aged mother an opportunity to dance.
In their 1873-74 Household Edition Christmas Eve plates, Phiz and Nast both shift their readers' attentions to the scene in which the younger women of the house surround a middle-aged and bashful Pickwick under the mistletoe. In contrast to the sprightliness of Phiz's figures in both 1837 and 1874 illustrations, Nast's seven figures in the Mistletoe scene exhibit an unfortunate stiltedness. In the wood-engraving, Wardle's neices lack the beautiful faces and forms of Phiz's in the 1874 wood-engraving (see below); in fact, the young woman to the right cannot be described as anything but plain. Nor is there in Nast's composition much informing background detail that the viewer notes in both of Phiz's plates because he has drawn the figures to fill the frame. The centre of attention, Pickwick seems paralysed rather than energised by the delightful attention that he is receiving, and his steamed up spectacles obscure whatever emotion the illustrator would like to communicate. Nast does effectively convey the younger women's genuine affection for Wardle's guest. Wardle himself looks on benignly from the right, "with his back to the fire, surveying the whole scene" (169); his mother, old Mrs. Wardle is just left of centre, in company with Snodgrass and Emily Wardle.
Phiz's plates for "A Good-Natured Christmas Chapter" in the 1836-37 and 1874 Editions
Left: In the 1873 Household Edition of the novel Phiz has altered the focus, from Pickwick's gallantry towards Wardle's elderly mother to his being the centre of attention for the young, lively female guests and family members: Before Mr. Pickwick distinctly knew what was the matter, he was surrounded by the whole body, and kissed by every one of them/span>. Right: Phiz's original interpretation first appeared in the tenth monthly part: Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
The Other Christmas Scenes from Nast's Sequence set at Manor Farm, Dingley Dell
- Frontispiece, "Went slowly and gravely down the slide with his feet about a yard and a quarter apart."
- Mr. Pickwick. Second Frontispiece.
- His eyes rested on a form that made his blood run cold. [Gabriel Grub and the Goblin]
- "I wish you'd let me bleed you."
- A large mass of ice disappeared.
Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-74
- Robert Seymour (1836)
- Hablot Knight Brown (1836-37)
- Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1861)
- Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1867)
- Hablot Knight Browne (1874)
- A selected list of illustrations by Harry Furniss for the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
- Clayton J. Clarke's Extra Illustration for Player's Cigarettes (1910)
- Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (homepage)
- Nast’s Pickwick illustrations
- The complete list of illustrations by Seymour and Phiz for the original edition
- The complete list of illustrations by Phiz for the Household Edition
- An introduction to the Household Edition (1871-79)
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
__________. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Edited by J. A. Hammerton. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910.
Vann, J. Don. "Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers, twenty parts in nineteen monthly instalments, April 1836-November 1837." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985. P. 61.
Last modified 15 December 2019