When the Same Black Monk Passed Slowly on [Page 34], by Charles Stanley Reinhart (1875), in Charles Dickens's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Harper & Bros. New York Household Edition, for "The Five Sisters of York," an interpolated tale in Chapter VI. 10.6 x 13.6 cm (4 ¼ by 5 ⅜ inches), framed. Running head: "One Taken, Four Left" (33). [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

"The Five Sisters of York": An Interpolated Tale in the manner of "Pickwick"

The Five Sisters of York (May 1838), in which Phiz realizes the introductory scene from the interpolated tale.

The old abbey flourished then; and the five sisters, living on its fair domains, paid yearly dues to the black monks of St Benedict, to which fraternity it belonged.

It was a bright and sunny morning in the pleasant time of summer, when one of those black monks emerged from the abbey portal, and bent his steps towards the house of the fair sisters. Heaven above was blue, and earth beneath was green; the river glistened like a path of diamonds in the sun; the birds poured forth their songs from the shady trees; the lark soared high above the waving corn; and the deep buzz of insects filled the air. Everything looked gay and smiling; but the holy man walked gloomily on, with his eyes bent upon the ground. The beauty of the earth is but a breath, and man is but a shadow. What sympathy should a holy preacher have with either?

"With eyes bent upon the ground, then, or only raised enough to prevent his stumbling over such obstacles as lay in his way, the religious man moved slowly forward until he reached a small postern in the wall of the sisters’ orchard, through which he passed, closing it behind him. The noise of soft voices in conversation, and of merry laughter, fell upon his ears ere he had advanced many paces; and raising his eyes higher than was his humble wont, he descried, at no great distance, the five sisters seated on the grass, with Alice in the centre: all busily plying their customary task of embroidering.

"'Save you, fair daughters!' said the friar; and fair in truth they were. Even a monk might have loved them as choice masterpieces of his Maker’s hand. [Chapter VI, "In which the occurrence of the accident mentioned in the last chapter, affords an opportunity to a couple of gentlemen to tell stories against each other," 32]

Related material by other illustrators (1838 through 1910)

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.]


Barnard, J. "Fred" (il.). Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby, with fifty-nine illustrations. The Works of Charles Dickens: The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1875. Volume 15. Rpt. 1890.

Dickens, Charles. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. With fifty-two illustrations by C. S. Reinhart. The Household Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875.

__________. "Nicholas Nickleby." Scenes and Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens, being eight hundred and sixty-six drawings by Fred Barnard et al.. Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1908.

Created 5 April 2021