The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter XXVI, p. 157.by Thomas Nast, in Charles Dickens's
The illustration appears in the American Household Edition of Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Chapter XXVI, "Which contains a brief account of the Progress of the action of Bardell against Pickwick," p. 157. Wood-engraving, 3 ½ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (9 cm high by 13.5 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the same page; descriptive headline: "Sam at Mrs. Bardell's" (p. 157). New York: Harper & Bros., Franklin Square, 1873.
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Context of the Illustration: Another Social Gathering — at Mrs. Bardell's
Sam understood all this, of course, so he said at once, that he never could drink before supper, unless a lady drank with him. A great deal of laughter ensued, and Mrs. Sanders volunteered to humour him, so she took a slight sip out of her glass. Then Sam said it must go all round, so they all took a slight sip. Then little Mrs. Cluppins proposed as a toast, "Success to Bardell agin Pickwick"; and then the ladies emptied their glasses in honour of the sentiment, and got very talkative directly.
"I suppose you've heard what's going forward, Mr. Weller?" said Mrs. Bardell.
"I've heerd somethin' on it," replied Sam.
"It's a terrible thing to be dragged before the public, in that way, Mr. Weller," said Mrs. Bardell; "but I see now, that it's the only thing I ought to do, and my lawyers, Mr. Dodson and Fogg, tell me that, with the evidence as we shall call, we must succeed. I don't know what I should do, Mr. Weller, if I didn't."
The mere idea of Mrs. Bardell's failing in her action, affected Mrs. Sanders so deeply, that she was under the necessity of refilling and re-emptying her glass immediately; feeling, as she said afterwards, that if she hadn't had the presence of mind to do so, she must have dropped. [Chapter XXVI, "Which contains a brief account of the progress of the action of Bardell agaist Pickwick," page 157]
Pickwick and his entourage, having exposed Jingle, now race back to London from Ipswich on the morning coach. Arriving that evening, the Pickwickians separate, with their leader and his valet going directly to his rented rooms at the George and Vulture Tavern on Lombard Street in the commercial area of London. After a substantial meal, the master despatches his servant to retrieve some of his belongings from his rooms at Mrs. Bardell's in Goswell Street. Pickwick thoughtfully gives Sam sufficient money to pay the quarter's rent, even though, of course, he no longer intends to live there — and has Sam give the litigious landlady a month's notice. An interesting aspect of Pickwick's final instructions is that, in effect, he makes Sam his spy so that he can determine what Mrs. Bardell's present attitude is towards him, and whether she intends to pursue "this vile and groundless action" for breach-of-promise-of-marriage. Thus, in the Nast illustration, Sam has just arrived at the Goswell Street house at about 9:00 P. M. to complete his mission. The flexible and ingratiating servant proves as effective "above stairs" here as he was "below stairs" in Mr. Muzzle's kitchen in the previous illustration.
The passage illustrated reveals that Weller is an expert at applied psychology as he manipulates Pickwick's former landlady and her intimates to determine how she believes her case against Pickwick is proceeding. In contrast to his description of the observant Sam, Nast describes the other characters gathered around the kitchen table as both fatuous and partisan. Since there is no comparable illustration in any previous edition, Nast has innovated here by contrasting this kitchen scene with the prior one, "Well, now," said Sam, in which the visitor prepares to unmask the duplicitous Job Trotter. Whereas Mrs. Bardell and Sam are continuing characters in the narrative-pictorial sequence, those friends gathered about Mrs. Bardell's table (Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders) are entirely new to the book's illustrations. Nast makes them both unpleasant-looking gossips, although Dickens provides no precise descriptions of these biased nonentities.
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)
Cohen, Jane Rabb. Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State U. P., 1980.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. 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.
Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Household Edition. Edited by J. A. Hammerton. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910.
Last modified 13 December 2019