Mivins and Smangle
Wood engraving, approximately 10 cm high by 7.5 cm wide (framed)
Illustration for Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in the Ticknor and Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition, facing p. 341.
In this fourteenth full-page character study for the last novel in the compact American publication, Eytinge introduces the reader to two of the most minor figures in the Dickens canon — the insolvent debtors whose drunken, early morning revelry rudely awakens Mr. Pickwick after his first night in the Fleet Prison. [continued below.]
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.]
The red-nosed, ill-kempt dancer is Mivins, but he prefers to be called "The Zephyr" on account of his terpsichorean prowess. The scene is the Warden's Room, which Pickwick in his nightcap (rear, centre), looking somewhat startled, has rented for his first night as an incarcerated debtor; Smangle, applauding his friend's dance-steps, is to the left, Mivins (The Zephyr) to the right, dancing a hornpipe, as in Phiz's original illustration, "The Warden's Room" (plate). The other man present, also mentioned in the text and depicted in the July 1837 steel engraving, is an unnamed reveller.
"Bravo! Heel over toe — cut and shuffle — pay away at it, Zephyr! I'm smothered if the Opera House isn't your proper hemisphere. Keep it up! Hooray!" These expressions, delivered in a most boisterous tone, and accompanied with loud peals of laughter, roused Mr. Pickwick from one of those sound slumbers which, lasting in reality some half–hour, seem to the sleeper to have been protracted for three weeks or a month.
The voice had no sooner ceased than the room was shaken with such violence that the windows rattled in their frames, and the bedsteads trembled again. Mr. Pickwick started up, and remained for some minutes fixed in mute astonishment at the scene before him.
On the floor of the room, a man in a broad–skirted green coat, with corduroy knee–smalls and gray cotton stockings, was performing the most popular steps of a hornpipe, with a slang and burlesque caricature of grace and lightness, which, combined with the very appropriate character of his costume, was inexpressibly absurd. Another man, evidently very drunk, who had probably been tumbled into bed by his companions, was sitting up between the sheets, warbling as much as he could recollect of a comic song, with the most intensely sentimental feeling and expression; while a third, seated on one of the bedsteads, was applauding both performers with the air of a profound connoisseur, and encouraging them by such ebullitions of feeling as had already roused Mr. Pickwick from his sleep.
This last man was an admirable specimen of a class of gentry which never can be seen in full perfection but in such places—they may be met with, in an imperfect state, occasionally about stable–yards and Public–houses; but they never attain their full bloom except in these hot–beds, which would almost seem to be considerately provided by the legislature for the sole purpose of rearing them.
He was a tall fellow, with an olive complexion, long, dark hair, and very thick, bushy whiskers meeting under his chin. He wore no neckerchief, as he had been playing rackets all day, and his Open shirt-collar displayed their full luxuriance. On his head he wore one of the common eighteen-penny French skull–caps, with a gaudy tassel dangling therefrom, very happily in keeping with a common fustian coat. His legs, which, being long, were afflicted with weakness, graced a pair of Oxford–mixture trousers, made to show the full symmetry of those limbs. Being somewhat negligently braced, however, and, moreover, but imperfectly buttoned, they fell in a series of not the most graceful folds over a pair of shoes sufficiently down at heel to display a pair of very soiled white stockings. There was a rakish, vagabond smartness, and a kind of boastful rascality, about the whole man, that was worth a mine of gold.
This figure was the first to perceive that Mr. Pickwick was looking on; upon which he winked to the Zephyr, and entreated him, with mock gravity, not to wake the gentleman.
"Why, bless the gentleman's honest heart and soul!" said the Zephyr, turning round and affecting the extremity of surprise; "the gentleman is awake. Hem, Shakespeare! How do you do, Sir? How is Mary and Sarah, sir? and the dear old lady at home, sir, — eh, sir? Will you have the kindness to put my compliments into the first little parcel you're sending that way, sir, and say that I would have sent 'em before, only I was afraid they might be broken in the wagon, sir?"
"Don't overwhelm the gentlemen with ordinary civilities when you see he's anxious to have something to drink," said the gentleman with the whiskers, with a jocose air. "Why don't you ask the gentleman what he'll take?"
"Dear me, — I quite forgot," replied the other. "What will you take, sir? Will you take port wine, sir, or sherry wine, sir? I can recommend the ale, sir; or perhaps you'd like to taste the porter, sir? Allow me to have the felicity of hanging up your nightcap, sir."
With this, the speaker snatched that article of dress from Mr. Pickwick's head, and fixed it in a twinkling on that of the drunken man, who, firmly impressed with the belief that he was delighting a numerous assembly, continued to hammer away at the comic song in the most melancholy strains imaginable.
Taking a man's nightcap from his brow by violent means, and adjusting it on the head of an unknown gentleman, of dirty exterior, however ingenious a witticism in itself, is unquestionably one of those which come under the denomination of practical jokes. Viewing the matter precisely in this light, Mr. Pickwick, without the slightest intimation of his purpose, sprang vigorously out of bed, struck the Zephyr so smart a blow in the chest as to deprive him of a considerable portion of the commodity which sometimes bears his name, and then, recapturing his nightcap, boldly placed himself in an attitude of defence.
"Now," said Mr. Pickwick, gasping no less from excitement than from the expenditure of so much energy, "come on — both of you — both of you!" With this liberal invitation the worthy gentleman communicated a revolving motion to his clenched fists, by way of appalling his antagonists with a display of science.
It might have been Mr. Pickwick's very unexpected gallantry, or it might have been the complicated manner in which he had got himself out of bed, and fallen all in a mass upon the hornpipe man, that touched his adversaries. Touched they were; for, instead of then and there making an attempt to commit man–slaughter, as Mr. Pickwick implicitly believed they would have done, they paused, stared at each other a short time, and finally laughed outright.
"Well, you're a trump, and I like you all the better for it," said the Zephyr. "Now jump into bed again, or you'll catch the rheumatics. No malice, I hope?" said the man, extending a hand the size of the yellow clump of fingers which sometimes swings over a glover's door.
"Certainly not," said Mr. Pickwick, with great alacrity; for, now that the excitement was over, he began to feel rather cool about the legs.
"Allow me the honour," said the gentleman with the whiskers, presenting his dexter hand, and aspirating the h.
"With much pleasure, sir," said Mr. Pickwick; and having executed a very long and solemn shake, he got into bed again.
"My name is Smangle, sir," said the man with the whiskers.
"Oh," said Mr. Pickwick.
"Mine is Mivins," said the man in the stockings. [Chapter 41, p. 341-342]
We see, for a moment, that more assertive Pickwick, who, thus rudely awakened and deprived of his nightcap as well as his privacy, dares to challenge the be-whiskered Smangle in order to secure the return of his purloined nightcap. The degradation of Pickwick, which Phiz suggests through the room's chaos and in particular through the clothes hanging in the celing, Eytinge only hints at through the dishevelled state of the dancer and his peripatetic audience who have thus suddenly appropriated Mr. Pickwick's room. The scene in Phiz is pure Hogarth, but, transformed into a dual character study in the 1867 woodcut, becomes pure Eytinge. In the 1873 Household Edition's reprise of his 1837 illustration, "With this, the speaker snatched that article of dress from Mr. Pickwick's head" (p. 305, but to be understood to relate to an incident 13 pages earlier), Phiz incorrectly asserts that a second man has been sleeping in the Warden's Room, and interpolates a Turkish fez on the disreputable head of the saucy Smangle. The new style of the sixties, which underscored Phiz's shortcomings as a contemporary illustrator, was towards "photographic realism and academic naturalism" (Cohen 121); we see in Eytinge's treatment of the scene in the Warden's Room evidence of these sixties traits, and in Phiz's 1873 version a failed attempt to incorporate such elements into what in 1837 was a Cruikshank-like series of caricatures in a theatrical set.
Other artists who illustrated this work
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.
Cohen, Jane Rabb. "Dickens and His Principal Illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne." Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980. Pp. 61-122.
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Adventures of the Pickwick Club. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1869.
Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Charles Dickens Edition. Boston: Ticknor & 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.
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book. London: Educational Book Co., 1910.
Kitton, Frederic G. Dickens and His Illustrators. 1899. Rpt. Honolulu: U. Press of the Pacific, 2004.
Steig, Michael. Dickens and Phiz. Bloomington & London: Indiana U.P., 1978.
Last modified 26 February 2012