"Is this the room?" murmured the little gentleman. Sam nodded assent by Thomas Nast (1873), p. 64.

Bibliographical Note

The illustration appears in the American Edition of Charles Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter X, "Clearing up All Doubts (If any Existed) of the Disinterestedness of Mr. A. Jingle's Character," page 64. Wood-engraving, 4 ⅛ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (10.5 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on page 63; descriptive headline: "Tending Towards a Compromise" (p. 65). New York: Harper & Bros., Franklin Square, 1873.

Scanned image, colour correction, sizing, caption, and commentary 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.]

Context of the Illustration: Preparing to Confront Jingle at the Door of No. 5

"Hush!" said Sam. "The Vellingtons has gone to Doctors' Commons."

"No," said the little man.

"Yes, for a licence."

"We're in time," exclaimed Wardle. "Show us the room; not a moment is to be lost."

"Pray, my dear sir — pray," said the little man; "caution, caution." He drew from his pocket a red silk purse, and looked very hard at Sam as he drew out a sovereign.

Sam grinned expressively.

"Show us into the room at once, without announcing us," said the little man, "and it's yours."

Sam threw the painted tops into a corner, and led the way through a dark passage, and up a wide staircase. He paused at the end of a second passage, and held out his hand.

"Here it is," whispered the attorney, as he deposited the money on the hand of their guide.

The man stepped forward for a few paces, followed by the two friends and their legal adviser. He stopped at a door.

"Is this the room?" murmured the little gentleman.

Sam nodded assent.

Old Wardle opened the door; and the whole three walked into the room just as Mr. Jingle, who had that moment returned, had produced the licence to the spinster aunt. [Chapter X, "Clearing up All Doubts (If any Existed) of the Disinterestedness of Mr. A. Jingle's Character," page 63]

Commentary: The Nefarious Mr. Jingle, Cornered, Escapes Again

1title1 As the illustration, intimates, Wardle and Pickwick find the runaway couple, but Jingle remains one step ahead of them still, just having obtained a marriage license from the Doctors' Commons, just across the river. However, as Sam Weller leads the pursuers directly to the door of Jingle's room at the Southwark inn, the illustration offers no suggestion as to the outcome of Wardle's confronting Jingle and his sister at the White Hart on the Surrey side. Surprisingly, Rachael refuses to be parted from her abductor. Mr. Perker, Wardle's attorney, suggests a compromise. Since Rachael will have no inheritance until her mother dies, and the women of the family are notoriously long-lived, Perker proposes they they compensate Jingle for giving Rachael up; in short, he proposes a bribe. The adversaries, after some bargaining, agree to 120 pounds. Generously considering the sensibilities of his erstwhile rival, Jingle gives the license to Wardle for Mr. Tupman's use.

However, both Phiz illustrations, the original steel-engraving for July 1836 and the 1870s Household Edition composite woodblock engraving, do not directly illustrate the elopement plot. Rather, Phiz introduces the smart-talking Cockney boots of the White Hart Inn — Samuel Weller. Well aware that the sensational popularity of the monthly instalments of Pickwick was directly attributable to the introduction of the second Samuel, Nast combines an introduction of the boots who will become Pickwick's companion and mediator with social reality (the Sancho Panza to Mr. Pickwick's Don Quixote) with the pursuit of Alfred Jingle and Rachael Wardle. Sam, hands in his pockets, seems to reluctant to act as the attorney, Mr. Perker (described as a little man of professional fastidiousness, particularly in the ensuing negotiations), and his two rotund clients wait to be admitted. The appearance of all four characters Nast has inherited from the original Phiz illustration The First Appearance of Sam Weller so that he innovates instead the moment realised, taking readers from the inn-yard where Sam has been polishing boots to one of the interior passages on the second storey of the galleried inn.

If the reader may judge from his posture (for Nast has turned his face away), Sam Weller does not want to knock upon the door of No. 5 to announce their arrival. Mr. Perker, undeterred, points smartly at Sam as well as at the door, as a decidedly grumpy-looking Wardle and a more placid Pickwick look on. As Wardle pulls up his cuff, presumably in preparation for thrashing Jingle with his cane, Pickwick places a restraining hand upon him. The illustration effectively introduces the shrewd attorney who will shortly buy off Jingle, and later represent Slumkey in the Eatanswill election, and most significant handle Pickwick's defence in the breach of promise action which the predatory Mrs. Bardell brings against Pickwick. Perker also secures Pickwick's release from the Fleet Prison, and negotiates court costs with Bardell's lawyers, Dodson and Fog.

Relevant illustrations from later British editions (1874 and 1910)

Left: Phiz re-works his treatment of the momentous meeting of Sam Weller and Mr. Pickwick at the inn: Sam stole a look at the inquirer. Right: Harry Furniss's re-working Phiz's treatment of the momentous meeting at the White Hart Inn: Mr. Pickwick meets Sam Weller in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-1910

Related Material


Dickens, Charles. The Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873.

Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.

Last modified 13 September 2019