xxx xxx

Mr. and Mrs. Caudle at Church; Initial letter "I" — initial-letter vignette for "The Fourteenth Lecture" in Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, first published in the Punch; or, The London Charivari number for 10 May 1845; instalment, "Mrs. Caudle thinks it 'High Time' that the children should have summer clothing," p. 66. Wood-engraving 6.5 x 5.1 cm, framed; twenty-eighth illustration in the third edition.

Passage Complemented

Now, Caudle, if ever you kept awake, you shall keep awake to-night yes, you shall hear me, for it isn't often I speak, and then you may go to sleep as soon as you like. Pray do you know what month it is? And did you see how the children looked at church to-day — like nobody else's children? What was the matter with them? Oh, Caudle! How can you ask? Poor things! weren't they all in their thick merinos and beaver bonnets? What do you say? What of it? What! you'll tell me that you didn't see how the Briggs's girls, in their new chips, turned their noses up at 'em? And you didn't see how the Browns looked at the Smiths, and then at our dear girls, as much as to say, 'Poor creatures! what figures for the month of May!' You didn't see it? The more shame for you — you would, if you'd had the feelings of a parent — but I'm sorry to say, Caudle, you haven't. I'm sure those Briggs's girls — the little minxes! — put me into such a pucker, I could have pulled their ears for 'em over the pew. What do you say? ["The Fourteenth Lecture. — ​Mrs. Caudle thinks it 'High Time' that the children should have summer clothing," p. 67]

Commentary: Sleeping in Church

Although William Hogarth treated the subject symbolically in The Sleeping Congregation (1736) and Phiz had based a May 1849 David Copperfield illustration entitled Our Pew at Church on the Hogarthian satire on complacent Anglicanism, Keene would have us take the scene literally. The Caudles, still in their winter "Sunday best" are asleep in their pew during the service, and Keene makes this his visual context for "The Fourteenth Lecture" — even though the text suggests that this is another "bedtime" lecture, and that the conversation has not occurred either in church or shortly thereafter. Although Keene may have wished to invoke Hogarth and Phiz, since Margaret Caudle is acutely aware of the Briggses' watching the Caudles from the pew behind theirs, it is quite unlikely that she would allow herself to fall asleep during the sermon.

Relevant earlier illustrations of "Sleeping in Church"

Left: The original satirical engraving which influenced later illustrators, The Sleeping Congregationby William Hogarth (1736). Right: Hablot Knight Browne's illustration for a childhood reminiscence in David Copperfield, Our Pew at Church (1849). [Click on images to enlarge them.]

Scanned images 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 person who scanned them and (2) link your document to this URl or cite it in a print document.]


Jerrold, Douglas. Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, as Suffered by the late Job Caudle.​ Edited from the Original MSS. by Douglas Jerrold. With a frontispiece by Leech, and as motto on the title-page, "Then, Pistol, lay thy head in Fury's lap. — Shakespeare."​ London: Punch​ Office; Bradbury​ and Evans,​ 1846.

Jerrold, Douglas. Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures . Illustrated by John Leach and Richard Doyle. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1856.

Jerrold, Douglas. Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures. Illustrated by Charles Keene. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1866.

Last modified 20 February 2024

Created 28 November 2017