"Wal'r?" — "I've got it." by W. L. Sheppard. Eleventh illustration for Dickens's Dombey and Son in the American Household Edition (1873), Chapter IX, "In which the Wooden Midshipman gets into Trouble," p. 57. 9.3 x 13.5 cm (3 ⅝ by 5 ¼ inches) framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Introducing the inimitable Captain Cuttle

Captain Cuttle walked up and down the shop for some time, cogitating profoundly, and bringing his bushy black eyebrows to bear so heavily on his nose, like clouds setting on a mountain, that Walter was afraid to offer any interruption to the current of his reflections. Mr Brogley, who was averse to being any constraint upon the party, and who had an ingenious cast of mind, went, softly whistling, among the stock; rattling weather-glasses, shaking compasses as if they were physic, catching up keys with loadstones, looking through telescopes, endeavouring to make himself acquainted with the use of the globes, setting parallel rulers astride on to his nose, and amusing himself with other philosophical transactions.

“Wal”r?” said the Captain at last. “I’ve got it.”

“Have you, Captain Cuttle?” cried Walter, with great animation.

“Come this way, my lad,” said the Captain. “The stock’s the security. I’m another.  Your governor’s the man to advance money.”

“Mr. Dombey!” faltered Walter.

The Captain nodded gravely. “Look at him,” he said. “Look at Gills. If they was to sell off these things now, he’d die of it. You know he would. We mustn’t leave a stone unturned — and there’s a stone for you.”

“A stone! — Mr. Dombey!” faltered Walter.

“You run round to the office, first of all, and see if he’s there,” said Captain Cuttle, clapping him on the back. “Quick!” [Chapter IX, "In which the Wooden Midshipman gets into Trouble," p. 56]

Commentary: The Little Midshipman faces financial catastrophe

Phiz's December 1846 introduction of the captivating old salt with the hook, Captain Cuttle, in Captain Cuttle consoles his Friend.

Sheppard seems to have modelled his balding, stout retired mariner upon the figure whom Dickens's original illustrator, Hablot Knight Browne, presents in Profound Cogitation of Captain Cuttle (Part 5: February 1847), as well as Captain Cuttle consoles his Friend (Part 3: December 1846). This Household Edition version of Sol Gillis's business imperilled is decidedly more upbeat than Phiz's original plate. Sheppard presents Walter Gray, the philosophical merchant seaman's protegé, as much smaller (a mere boy in need of the experienced sailor's protection and guidance). Sheppard keeps his focus on the old salt and Walter, and has chosen not to introduce much of Phiz's nautical bric a bric in the background, just a model ship and a cutlas. The table which occupies so much of the composition has upon it the tea-spoons, sugar-tongs, silver pocket-watch, and coins that Dickens mentions that the Captain has proffered to Mr. Brogley. Sheppard depicts the banker as having turned away to study the contents of the shop, particularly the short-sword, over which he is about seize control as a result of an unpaid debt. The other figure in the background, seated before the fire, is the instrument-maker, Sol Gillis, who seems to be thinking of how he can avoid catastrophe, but, coming up with no solution, begins to despair of being able to save his business if he cannot resolve the bond of three hundred and seventy pounds which the broker, Brogley, has acquired. Unable to rescue his old friend himself, the Captain encourages Walter to go down to to Brighton to seek the financial assistance of the only wealthy bourgeois whom they know — Walter's employer, Mr. Dombey.

Illustrations of the Genial Old Salt from Other Editions (1862 through 1924)

Left: Felix Octavius Darley's frontispiece for the first volume of the Sheldon & Co. edition: Captain Cuttle in Ambush (1862). Centre left: Kyd's (Clayton J. Clarke's) Player's Cigarette Card Mo. 25, Captain Cuttle (1910). Centre right: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s Diamond Edition wood-engraving Captain Cuttle (1867). Right: One of Harold Copping's most engaging character studies from Dickens, Captain Cuttle's Bright Idea (1924).

Related Material, including Other Illustrated Editions of Dombey and Son (1846-1910)

Scanned image and text 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 it and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by W. L. Sheppard. The Household Edition. 18 vols. New York: Harper & Co., 1873.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon and Company, 1862. Vols. 1-4.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr., and engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. III.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Fred Barnard [62 composite wood-block engravings]. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877. XV.

__________. Dombey and Son. With illustrations by  H. K. Browne. The illustrated library Edition. 2 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, c. 1880. II.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. 61 wood-engravings. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877. XV.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by W. H. C. Groome. London and Glasgow, 1900, rpt. 1934. 2 vols. in one.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. IX.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). 8 coloured plates. London and Edinburgh: Caxton and Ballantyne, Hanson, 1910.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). The Clarendon Edition, ed. Alan Horsman. Oxford: Clarendon, 1974.

Dickens, Mary Angela, Percy Fitzgerald, Captain Edric Vredenburg, and Others. Illustrated by Harold Copping with eleven coloured lithographs. "Little Paul Dombey," the tenth chapter in Children's Stories from Dickens. London: Raphael Tuck, 1893. Pp. 101-109.

Matz, B. W., and Kate Perugini; illustrated by Harold Copping. Character Sketches from Dickens. London: Raphael Tuck, 1924. Copy in the Paterson Library, Lakehead University.

Created 23 January 2022