The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter XXII, p. 312.by Thomas Nast, in Charles Dickens's
The illustration appears in the American Edition of Charles Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter XXII, "Mr Pickwick journeys to Ipswich and meets with romantic adventure with a middle-aged lady in yellow curl-papers," p. 132. Wood-engraving, 3 ½ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (9.1 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the facing page; descriptive headline: "The Elder Mr. Weller Appears" (p. 121). 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.]
Passage Illustrated: Dickens introduces another Original
"That 'ere your governor's luggage, Sammy?" inquired Mr. Weller of his affectionate son, as he entered the yard of the Bull Inn, Whitechapel, with a travelling-bag and a small portmanteau.
"You might ha' made a worser guess than that, old feller," replied Mr. Weller the younger, setting down his burden in the yard, and sitting himself down upon it afterwards. "The governor hisself'll be down here presently."
"He's a-cabbin' it, I suppose?" said the father.
"Yes, he's a havin' two mile o' danger at eight-pence" responded the son. "How's mother-in-law this mornin'?"
"Queer, Sammy, queer," replied the elder Mr. Weller, with impressive gravity. "She's been gettin' rayther in the Methodistical order lately, Sammy; and she is uncommon pious, to be sure. She's too good a creetur for me, Sammy. I feel I don't deserve her."
"Ah," said Mr. Samuel, "that's wery self-denyin' o' you." [Chapter XXII, "Mr Pickwick journeys to Ipswich and meets with romantic adventure with a middle-aged lady in yellow curl-papers," page 131]
Commentary: A Bibulous Coachman married to a Methodist!
Readers immediately took to the humorous coachman as they had to his witty son, the Cockney boots, Sam Weller. Based on reader response to his appearance in Chapter XXII, Dickens's decision to develop a plot around him and his "methodisdical" second wife led to a whole plot involving a hypocritical minister and his gullible flock, a comic plot which complements the breach-of-marriage lawsuit that lands Pickwick in the Fleet Prison.
However, Nast has so exaggerated Tony's girth and reduced his face to a mere mask that American readers must have experienced difficulty in experiencing him as a person, albeit excessively stout and given to smoking in excess. His conviviality has received something of a check from his second wife (Sam refers to her as his "mother-in-law"), Susan Clarke, the widowed landlady of a Dorking public house, The Marquis of Granby. Her devotion to the spurious dissenting minister, Mr. Stiggins, who is a closet alcoholic, will lead to an amusing subplot in which the Wellers will unmask and suitably punish the arch-hypocrite with a dunking in the horse-trough at The Marquis of Granby.
The elder Weller did not prove as popular with readers as his son. Nonetheless Dickens and his illustrators recognized that Tony served both as an amusing observer of the affairs of his son's employer and as a means of conveying the humour and nostalgia associated with such rapidly disappearing elements of English life as the inconvenient stage coach, the comfortable coaching inn, and the ebullient coachman — all then rapidly disappearing in the dawn of the Railway Age. Whereas his fellow American illustrator, Sol Eytinge, Junior, regarded Tony as a member of a comic and somewhat distorted species, depicting him with his comrades at the conclusion of the novel, Nast made him a grotesque. The most sympathetic treatment of the jolly coachman is that by Darley, who has depicted Tony as individual, soberly counselling his son against his own mistake: marrying.
Relevant Illustrations from Other Editions, 1836-1924
Left: Phiz's "The Valentine". Centre: Hablot Knight Browne's With a countenance greatly mollified by the softening influence of tobacco, requested him to "fire away.". Centre: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s "Old Weller and The Coachmen" (1867). Right: Harrold Copping's heart-warming image of the Wellers for the modern era, Sam Weller and His Father (1924). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Darley's, Kyd's, and Furniss's Conceptions of Tony Weller, 1888 & 1910
Left: Felix Octavius Carr Darley's beautifully engraved study for his collection of characters from Dickens, Tony Weller (1888); centre: Clayton J. Clarke's Player's Cigartte Card No. 18: Tony Weller (1910); centre right: Kyd's second study of the jolly coachman, Mr. Weller, Senior (1910). Right: Harry Furniss's introduction to the narrative-pictorial sequence of the jolly coachman, a relic of the previous transportation age: Tony Weller (1910). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Another approach: Phiz's depiction of Tony Weller in "The Valentine" sequence, the British Household Edition (1874)
Phiz revises his approach to the figure of Tony Weller, making him more natural and less of a caricature in With a countenance greatly mollified by the softening influence of tobacco, requested him to "fire away," page 225, Chapter XXXIII.
Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-1910
- Robert Seymour (1836)
- Hablot Knight Brown (1836-37)
- Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1861)
- Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1867)
- Hablot Knight Browne (1874)
- A selected list of illustrations by Harry Furniss for the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910)
- Clayton J. Clarke's Extra Illustration for Player's Cigarettes (1910)
- Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (homepage)
- Nast’s Pickwick illustrations
- The complete list of illustrations by Seymour and Phiz for the original edition
- The complete list of illustrations by Phiz for the Household Edition
- An introduction to the Household Edition (1871-79)
Darley, Felix Octavius Carr. Character Sketches from Dickens. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1888.
Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers. Illustrated by Robert Seymour and Hablot Knight Browne. London: Chapman & Hall, 1836-37.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Thomas Nast. New York: Harper and Brothers 1873.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Illustrated by Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz'). The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1874.
Matz, B. W., and Kate Perugini; illustrated by Harold Copping. Character Sketches from Dickens. London: Raphael Tuck, 1924.
Last modified 5 November 2019