There was a scream

Uncaptioned first page. by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne). Household Edition (1874) of Dickens's Pickwick Papers, p. 1. Text illustrated: "Come on," said the cab-driver, sparring away like clockwork. "Come on — all four of you." [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Phiz vigorously reinterprets Seymour's "The Pugnacious Cabman" in this uncaptioned 1873 illustration that leads off the first chapter. Oddly enough, Phiz has interjected a figure who looks very much Sam Weller onto the cab, rear left. He has, moreover, minimized the background, including the Regency blocks of flats in Seymour's original, as he has focussed on the confrontation of a terrified Pickwick (right centre) and a very sturdy cabman (left centre), whereas Seymour had made a rather belligerent Pickwick the larger of the two figures (left) and had given the hot pie-man greater prominence. With no visual tradition as a context, Symour had shown Pickwick in a buttoned-up "duster," whereas Phiz has given us the familiar figure of the tailcoated, rotund figure of Pickwick in his habitual white waistcoat.

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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. Formatting, color correction, and linking by George P. Landow. [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.]


Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874; New York: Harpers, 1874.

Last modified 9 March 2012