Casby and Pancks

"Casby and Pancks," the sixteenth and final full-page illustration for the volume by Sol Eytinge, Jr. 1871. 7.4 cm high by 9.9 cm wide. The Diamond Edition of Dickens's Little Dorrit (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871), facing page 463. 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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

The final character study involves the grasping landlord of the properties in Bleeding Heart Yard, Christopher Casby, and his suddenly remorseful agent and rent-collector, Pancks.< Given their poses and in particular Casby's glass, the passage reflected rather than absolutely realised in Eytinge's sixteenth illustration is likely this:

"Mr. Pancks," was the Patriarchal remark, "you have been remiss, you have been remiss, sir."

What do you mean by that?" was the short rejoinder.

The Patriarchal state, always a state of calmness and composure, was so particularly serene that evening as to be provoking. Everybody else within the bills of mortality was hot; but the Patriarch was perfectly cool. Everybody was thirsty, and the Patriarch was drinking. There was a fragrance of limes or lemons about him; and he made a drink of golden sherry, which shone in a large tumbler as if he were drinking the evening sunshine. this was bad, but not the worst. The worst was, that with his big blue eyes, and his polished head, and his long white hair, and his bottle-green legs stretched out before him, terminating in his easy shoes easily crossed at the instep, he had a radiant appearance of having in his extensive benevolence made the drink for the human species, while he himself wanted nothing but his own milk of human kindness.

Wherefore, Mr. Pancks said, "What do you mean by that?" and put his hair up with both hands, in a highly portentous manner.

"I mean, Mr. Pancks, that you must be sharper with the people, sharper with the people, much sharper with the people, sir. You don’t squeeze them. You don’t squeeze them. Your receipts are not up to the mark. You must squeeze them, sir, or our connection will not continue to be as satisfactory as I could wish it to be to all parties. All parties."

"Don't I squeeze 'em?" retorted Mr. Pancks. "What else am I made for?"

"You are made for nothing else, Mr. Pancks. You are made to do your duty, but you don’t do your duty. You are paid to squeeze, and you must squeeze to pay." The Patriarch so much surprised himself by this brilliant turn, after Dr. Johnson, which he had not in the least expected or intended, that he laughed aloud; and repeated with great satisfaction, as he twirled his thumbs and nodded at his youthful portrait, "Paid to squeeze, sir, and must squeeze to pay."

"Oh," said Pancks. "Anything more?"

"Yes, sir, yes, sir. Something more. You will please, Mr. Pancks, to squeeze the Yard again, the first thing on Monday morning."

"Oh!" said Pancks. "Ain't that too soon? I squeezed it dry to-day."

"Nonsense, sir. Not near the mark, not near the mark." [Book Two, Chapter 32, "Going," pp. 463-464]

Shortly, disgusted with himself for having recommended to Clennam that he invest in Merdle's enterprise, Pancks will rebel against his odious, unctuous employer, knocking Casby's hat off his head and resigning his position in the very midst of Bleeding Heart Yard, in full view of the tenants whom Casby had squeezed for years. Christopher Casby is as Dickens describes him in the text, balding, with silk-like long grey hair and a beaming, benevolent countenance that Dickens characterises as "Patriarchal." His rent-collect, Pancks, tired of taking all the blame for his employer's insensitivity towards the tenants, looks exasperated.


Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U P, 1990.

Davis, Paul. Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Checkmark and Facts On File, 1999.

Dickens, Charles. Little Dorrit, il. Sol Eytinge, Junior. The Diamond Edition. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1871.

Last modified 2 June 2011