xxx xxx

The cook brought him dishes, and the barber offered to shave him. Then Bulbo saw the soldiers who had come for him, complementary uncaptioned illustrations by M. A. Titmarsh [W. M. Thackeray], 1855. Wood-engraving, probably by William Linton. Each 7.7 cm high by 8.9 cm wide (3 by 3 ½ inches), vignetted, forty-ninth and fiftieth illustrations for The Rose and The Ring, pp. 402-403. Descriptive headline: "May We Ne'er Be Thus Befriended / Bulbo's Pains Seem Well-Nigh Ended" (pp. 402-403). [Click on the images to enlarge it; mouse over links.]

Passage Illustrated: Bulbo's Final Night

The Undertaker came and measured him for the handsomest coffin which money could buy — even this didn’t console Bulbo. The Cook brought him dishes which he once used to like; but he wouldn’t touch them: he sat down and began writing an adieu to Angelica, as the clock kept always ticking, and the hands drawing nearer to next morning. The Barber came in at night, and offered to shave him for the next day. Prince Bulbo kicked him away, and went on writing a few words to Princess Angelica, as the clock kept always ticking, and the hands hopping nearer and nearer to next morning. He got up on the top of a hatbox, on the top of a chair, on the top of his bed, on the top of his table, and looked out to see whether he might escape as the clock kept always ticking and the hands drawing nearer, and nearer, and nearer.

But looking out of the window was one thing, and jumping another: and the town clock struck seven. So he got into bed for a little sleep, but the gaoler came and woke him, and said, ‘Git up, your Royal Ighness, if you please, it’s ten minutes to eight!" [Chapter XVI, "How Hedzoff Rode Back Again to King Giglio," pp. 402-403]

Commentary: The Cartoon Sequence of Bulbo's Execution

Rosalba (formerly, Betsinda) turns up with her lions just in time to halt the scheduled execution, and King Giglio then delivers a nick-of-time reprieve. Since this cartoon panel emphasizes the pantomime-like unreality of the execution of Bulbo, readers were probably not all all surprised by this turn of events, a comic deus-ex-machine.

On the left side of the cartoon sequence the cook brings Bulbo his last breakfast and the barber arrives to deliver his last shave. In the right-hand panel on the facing page, Bulbo has built himself a makeshift ladder to survey the place of execution. The clock beside him registers 7:50 A. M. In the final frame, the firing squad, including a drummer, awaits the arrival of the condemned prisoner, who gazes down upon them (upper right) through the bars of his cell. The town clock on the church steeple likewise registers ten minutes to eight, but apparently the moon has yet to set and the sun to rise.

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


Furniss, Harry. The Rose and The Ring; or, The History of Prince Giglio and the Prince Bulbo. William Makepeace Thackeray's Christmas Books. With illustrations by the author and Harry Furniss. The Harry Furniss Centenary Edition. London: Macmillan and Co., 1911. Pp. 287-428.

Thackeray, W. M. The Christmas Books of M. A. Titmarsh. With illustrations by Richard Doyle and Thackeray. London: Smith. Elder, 1898.

Titmarsh, M. A. [W. M. Thackeray]. The Rose and The Ring London: Smith, Elder, 1855.

Created 12 August 2022