To The Right Honourable Lord Eliot, Chief Secretary of State for Ireland.

My Dear Lord, —

The hero of the Volume whose dedication I beg you to accept of was sorely puzzled, some forty years back, by the anomalies of the worthy people among whom his lot was cast. Since that period, whatever other changes time may have worked, in these respects I am inclined to believe they remain unaltered, and are at this moment pretty much as incomprehensible as ever. . . . I have ventured in these sketches, which I should be delighted to hope might amuse a stray hour snatched from the cares of office, while they afford me an occasion to say how much I am,
My dear Lord,

Your very sincere and devoted servant,

Temple-Oge, November 10, 1842.

Illustrations by Phiz, Part One: Twenty-six Etchings, aside from the Lever Portrait

Part Two: Nine Wood-Engravings Dropped into the Text, Chapters III through XXXI

Comment: Berwick's New Woodblock versus Advanced Steel engraving

Phiz's usual medium was the steel-engraving, done in duplicate so that a total of over five thousand impressions could be made, a number adequate for several editions. The longevity and durability steel-engraving, an innovation of the 1820s, meant that the artist would no longer have to replace the copper plates (in use since the time of Guttenberg for book illustration, and still in use when George Cruikshank illustrated Sketches by Boz in 1836), since engraved copper-plates tended to show signs of wear very quickly and would often crack.

However, in the case of Jack Hinton, Lever's Dublin publisher, William Curry, adopted the then-unusual expedient of supplementing Phiz's twenty-six full-page steel-engravings, mounted for the most part facing the pages of letterpress illustrated, with relief wood-engravings dropped right into the text at mid-page. Thus, readers could encounter the material illustrated and its realisation simultaneously. Composite woodblock engravings, although not capable of subtle detail and fine lines, could be set right into a block of print. And they had a distinctive white-on-black relief character that sets them apart for the intaglio-method engravings that usually accompanied monthly serial instalments. Whereas Phiz's assistant, Robert Young, did the actual etching on steel for Chapman and Hall imprints with the assistance of Edward and Thomas Dalziel, Phiz may have executed some of these wood-blocks himself after he had engraved the pictures (for the most part, small-scale character studies) in relief. Several are unsigned, whereas others bear the signature "Evans." Such end-grain wood-engravings, mounted at the same height as the type surrounding them, were capable of producing thousands of copies with no discernible deterioration in the engraved surface and no loss of resultion.

Related Material


Lester, Valerie Browne. Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

Lever, Charles. Jack Hinton, The Guardsman. Illustrated by Hablột Knight Browne (Phiz). London: Downey & Co., 1901. [First published serially in The Dublin University Magazine January through December 1842; and subsequently in a single volume, Dublin: William Curry, Jun. December 1842, pp. 396. Illustrated with wood and steel engravings by H. K. Browne: 27 full-page plates. 8vo, 396pp. Boston: Little, Brown, 1894; New York: Croscup, 1894. 2 vols.

Steig, Michael. Chapter Three: "From Caricature to Progress: Master Humphrey's Clock and Martin Chuzzlewit." Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington: Indiana U. P., 1978. Pp. 51-85.

Stevenson, Lionel. Chapter VI, "Editor, 1839-1841." Dr. Quicksilver: The Life of Charles Lever. London: Chapman and Hall, 1939. Pp. 92-107.

Sutherland, John A. "Jack Hinton The Guardsman." The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford U. P., 1989, rpt. 1990, 323.

Created 16 February 2023

Updated 10 June 2023