The Sad State of Mr. Pecksniff by Harry Furniss in The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Volume 7 (1910) — from Chapter 9, "Town and Todgers's." 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. 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 (9.5 high x 14.3 cm wide, vignetted), facing page 161 in Chapter 9.

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.]

Passages Referenced

Mr. Pecksniff had followed his younger friends upstairs, and taken a chair at the side of Mrs. Todgers. He had also spilt a cup of coffee over his legs without appearing to be aware of the circumstance; nor did he seem to know that there was muffin on his knee.

"And how have they used you downstairs, sir?" asked the hostess.

"Their conduct has been such, my dear madam," said Mr. Pecksniff, "as I can never think of without emotion, or remember without a tear. Oh, Mrs. Todgers!"

"My goodness!" exclaimed that lady. "How low you are in your spirits, sir!"

"I am a man, my dear madam," said Mr. Pecksniff, shedding tears and speaking with an imperfect articulation, "but I am also a father. I am also a widower. My feelings, Mrs. Todgers, will not consent to be entirely smothered, like the young children in the Tower. They are grown up, and the more I press the bolster on them, the more they look round the corner of it."

He suddenly became conscious of the bit of muffin, and stared at it intently; shaking his head the while, in a forlorn and imbecile manner, as if he regarded it as his evil genius, and mildly reproached it.

"She was beautiful, Mrs. Todgers," he said, turning his glazed eye again upon her, without the least preliminary notice. "She had a small property."

"So I have heard," cried Mrs. Todgers with great sympathy.

"Those are her daughters," said Mr. Pecksniff, pointing out the young ladies, with increased emotion.

Mrs. Todgers had no doubt about it.

"Mercy and Charity," said Mr. Pecksniff, "Charity and Mercy. Not unholy names, I hope?"

"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 fireplace.

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 ," p. 156-160.

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). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Above: Fred 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). [Click on image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 23 January 2016