"No what?" inquired Mrs. Bloss with a look of the most indescribable alarm. "No stomach," repeated Mrs. Tibbs with a shake of the head. (wood-engraving). 1876. 10 cm high x 13.8 cm wide, vignetted. — Fred Barnard's second response to the original copper-plate engravings by George Cruikshank in the 1836 and 1839 editions. Whereas the earlier illustrator had produced an amusing tableau of the discovery scene, in which Mrs. Tibbs and Mr. John Evenson are caught by the other boarders in a compromising position (although their suspicions are groundless), Barnard has provided both realistic portraiture of the landlady and a gross caricature of the widow in a second drawing-room scene which underscores the importance to the plot of her hypocondria and that of Mr. Gobler.

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Passage Illustrated

"Very well," returned Mrs. Tibbs, in her most amiable tone; for satisfactory references had "been given and required," and it was quite certain that the new-comer had plenty of money. "It's rather singular," continued Mrs. Tibbs, with what was meant for a most bewitching smile, ‘that we have a gentleman now with us, who is in a very delicate state of health — a Mr. Gobler. — His apartment is the back drawing-room."

"The next room?"​ inquired Mrs. Bloss.

"The next room,"​ repeated the hostess.

"How very promiscuous!" ejaculated the widow.

"He hardly ever gets up,"​ said Mrs. Tibbs in a whisper.

"Lor!" cried Mrs. Bloss, in an equally low tone.

"And when he is up,"​ said Mrs. Tibbs, "we never can persuade him to go to bed again."

"Dear me!"​ said the astonished Mrs. Bloss, drawing her chair nearer Mrs. Tibbs. "What is his complaint?"

"Why, the fact is,"​ replied Mrs. Tibbs, with a most communicative air, "he has no stomach whatever."

"No what?"​ inquired Mrs. Bloss, with a look of the most indescribable alarm.

"No stomach,"​ repeated Mrs. Tibbs, with a shake of the head.

"Lord bless us! what an extraordinary case!"​ gasped Mrs. Bloss, as if she understood the communication in its literal sense, and was astonished at a gentleman without a stomach finding it necessary to board anywhere.

"When I say he has no stomach,"​ explained the chatty little Mrs. Tibbs, "I mean that his digestion is so much impaired, and his interior so deranged, that his stomach is not of the least use to him;​— in fact, it’s an inconvenience."

"Never heard such a case in my life!"​ exclaimed Mrs. Bloss. "Why, he's​ worse than I am."

"Oh, yes!"​replied Mrs. Tibbs;​— "certainly."​ She said this with great confidence, for the damson pelisse suggested that Mrs. Bloss, at all events, was not suffering under Mr. Gobler's complaint.

"You have quite incited my curiosity,"​ said Mrs. Bloss, as she rose to depart. "How I long to see him!" — "Tales," Chapter I, "The Boarding-House, Part 2," p. 139-140.


Since the catastrophe recorded in the last chapter, Mrs. Tibbs had been very shy of young-lady boarders. Her present inmates were all lords of the creation, and she availed herself of the opportunity of their assemblage at the dinner-table, to announce the expected arrival of Mrs. Bloss. The gentlemen received the communication with stoical indifference, and Mrs. Tibbs devoted all her energies to prepare for the reception of the valetudinarian. — "Tales," Chapter I, "The Boarding-House, Part 2," p. 141.

After the romantic entanglements in the first half of the story, a "very fat and red-faced" (139), wealthy middle-aged widow with but one servant and no marriageable daughters must seem like the ideal "inmate" to Mrs. Tibbs, who must replace Mr. Calton, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Hicks, and the Maplestones all at once if her business is to survive. The scene that follows Mrs. Bloss's arranging to take a suite of rooms involves a dialogue which sets up plot events — in this case, Mrs. Bloss's fascination with the medical condition of the middle-aged, reclusive boarder Mr. Gobler, who, like the widow, is something of a hypocondriac. After the discovery scene, depicted by Cruikshank in the 1836 and 1839 editions, the two marry. Their departure from the Great Coram Street boarding-house signals its demise as Mrs. Tibbs sells up the furniture and parts company with her hen-pecked husband. The illustration of this crucial conversation mates a realistically drawn landlady and a caricatural, grossly obese new tenant, enforcing belief in Dickens's denigrating Mrs. Bloss as "exceedingly vulgar, ignorant, and selfish" (140).

The relict and sole executrix of this noble-minded man was an odd mixture of shrewdness and simplicity, liberality and meanness. Bred up as she had been, she knew no mode of living so agreeable as a boarding-house: and having nothing to do, and nothing to wish for, she naturally imagined she must be ill — an impression which was most assiduously promoted by her medical attendant, Dr. Wosky, and her handmaid Agnes: both of whom, doubtless for good reasons, encouraged all her extravagant notions. — "The Boarding House," Part 2, p. 141.

Relevant Illustrations from Various Editions, 1839 through 1910

Left: George Cruikshank's​ climactic illustration for the second part of the short story, The Boarding House. II, the boarders' discovery of their landlady and John Evenson in a compromising situation in the middle of the night, The Boarding House. II. (1839). Centre: Sol Eytinge, Jr.s's comic study of the drunken Mr. Tibbs's being confronted by his "petticoat governor" in The Boarding-House (1867). Right: Harry Furniss's comic study of a most animated Mr. Tibbs, trying​ to kiss one of the young, attractive housemaids, in The Boarding House: Mr. Tibbs (1910). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Above: Fred Barnard's initial illustration for the story, in which the "old beau," Mr. Calton, and the young devotee of Byron's Don Juan, Mr. Hicks, are confused about their both intending to marry the same boarder, Matilda Maplestone, in "I received a note —" he said very tremulously, in a voice like a Punch with a cold. (1876).​ [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 15 May 2017