Then having drawn on his gloves with great nicety by Thomas Nast (1873), Chapter XXXIV, p. 209.

Bibliographical Note

The illustration appears in the American Edition of Charles Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, as the second illustration for "The Trial" in Chapter XXXIV, "Is Wholly Devoted to a Full and Faithful Report of the Memorable Trial of Bardell against Pickwick," page 209. Wood-engraving, 3 ½ inches high by 5 ¼ inches wide (9.3 cm high by 13.4 cm wide), framed, half-page; referencing text on the following page, when Pickwick hears the jury's decision; descriptive headline: "Mr. Samuel Weller Sets a Trap." 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: A Mechanical Response to a Stunning Judgment

An anxious quarter of a hour elapsed; the jury came back; the judge was fetched in. Mr. Pickwick put on his spectacles, and gazed at the foreman with an agitated countenance and a quickly-beating heart.

"Gentlemen," said the individual in black, "are you all agreed upon your verdict?"

"We are," replied the foreman.

"Do you find for the plaintiff, gentlemen, or for the defendant?"

For the plaintiff."

"With what damages, gentlemen?"

"Seven hundred and fifty pounds."

Mr. Pickwick took off his spectacles, carefully wiped the glasses, folded them into their case, and put them in his pocket; then, having drawn on his gloves with great nicety, and stared at the foreman all the while, he mechanically followed Mr. Perker and the blue bag out of court. [Chapter XXXIV, "Is Wholly Devoted to a Full and Faithful Report of the Memorable Trial of Bardell against Pickwick," page 210]

Commentary

Nast suggests the surreal nature of the experience for Pickwick by presenting the be-wigged barristers in the background as mere disembodied heads. The legal wrangling over the breach-of-promise-of marriage may have concluded, but Pickwick's moral, psychological, and physical "trial" will shortly begin with his being incarcerated for debt (i. e., refusal to pay the substantial damages) in the Fleet Prison, a reflection of the author's father, John Dickens's harrowing experience in the Marshalsea Prison in 1824.

Nast's, Phiz's, and Furniss's Conceptions of the Trial (1836-1910)

Left: Phiz's original conception of the scene in the Guildhall, The Trial (March 1837); centre: Nast's focussing on Sam's facetious testimony, "No, I don't, my Lord," replied Sam, staring right up into the lantern at the roof of the court (1873); right: Harry Furniss's frontispiece immediately focusses upon the trial as the central event in the narrative: Sam Weller in the Witness-Box fails to recognise his Father (1910). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Above: Phiz revises his approach to the trial scene to present the trial of Pickwick from the perspective of the magistrate's bench, showing a surprised Pickwick with his barrister, Mr. Perker, making a cautionary gesture, to the left and Mrs. Bardell and her female supporters to the right: An admonitory gesture from Perker restrained him, and he listened to the learned gentleman's continuation with a look of indignation" (1874). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Other artists who illustrated this work, 1836-74

Related Material

Bibliography

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. 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.

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. The Charles Dickens Library Edition, Vol. 2. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. London: Educational Book, 1910.


Last modified 20 November 2019