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Pickwickian Manners and Customs
by Percy Fitzgerald
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These variations are very interesting, and even amusing. On an ordinary careless glance one would hardly detect much difference—the artist, who seemed to wish to have a certain freedom, made these changes either to amuse himself or as if resenting the monotony of copying. In any case they represent an amount of patient labour that is quite unique in such things.

The Pickwickian "student" may be glad to go with us through some of the plates and have an account of these differences. We must premise that the first state of the plates may be considered "proofs before letters"—the descriptive titles being only found in the later editions.

1. "The Frontispiece." (We shall call the second state b, the first a.) In a the signature "Phiz," "fct." or "fecit" is on the left, in b it is divided half on each side. The harlequin painting has a full face in a, a side face in b. The face at the apex of the picture has a mouth closed in b, and open in a. There are variations in nearly all the grotesque faces; and in b the faces of Mr. Pickwick and Sam are fuller and more animated. In b the general treatment of the whole is richer.

2. "The Title-page." In a the sign has Veller, in b Weller. Old Weller's face in b is more resolved and animated; in a water is flowing from the pail.

3. "Mr. Pickwick Addressing the Club." Mr. Pickwick in b is more cantankerous than in a—all the faces scarcely correspond in expression, though the outlines are the same. The work, shading, etc., is much bolder in b.

4. "Scene with the Cabman." Very little difference between the plates, save in the spectacles lying on the ground. These are trivialities.

5. "The Sagacious Dog." b is more heavily shaded, but a is much superior in the dog and face of the sportsman. Trees in b more elaborate.

6. "Dr. Slammer's Defiance." The figures on the top of the stairs are much darker and bolder in b. Jingle's and Tupman's faces are better in b than in a, and Jingle's legs are better drawn in b.

7. "The Dying Clown." A most dramatic and tragic conception, which shows that Seymour would have been invaluable later on for Dickens' more serious work. The chief differences are in the face of the man at his bedside and the candle.

8. "Mr. Pickwick in Search of his Hat." The drawing of Mr. Pickwick's legs is rather strange. The right leg could hardly be so much twisted back while Mr. Pickwick runs straight forward; his left hand or arm is obscure in both. All the faces differ—the hat in b has much more the look of being blown along than that in a.

9. "Mr. Winkle Soothes a Refractory Steed." Seymour's horse is infinitely more spirited and better drawn than Phiz's. Its struggling attitude is admirable. Seymour's landscape is touched more delicately; the faces differ in both.

10. "The Cricket Match." First Buss plate. He introduced a farcical incident not in the text—the ball knocking off the fielder's hat, who is quite close to the batsman. A very poor production. Observe the "antediluvian" shape of the bat—no paddings on the legs. The sketch is valuable as showing how not to interpret Dickens' humour, or rather how to interpret it in a strictly literal way—that is, without humour.

11. "Tupman in the Arbour." Second Buss plate—rather ostentatiously signed "Drawn and etched by R. W. Buss." Tupman appears to be tumbling over Miss Wardle.

12. The same subject by "Phiz." A remarkable contrast in treatment; there is the suggestion of the pair being surprised. We see how the fat boy came on them. The old Manor Farm in the background, with its gables, etc., is a pleasing addition, and like all "Phiz's" landscapes, delicately touched in. The scared alarm on the two faces is first-rate—even Miss Wardle's foot as well as Tupman's is expressive. There appears to be no "variation" of this plate.

13. "The Influence of the Salmon." A truly dramatic group overflowing with humour. Note no fewer than ten faces in the background, servants, etc., all expressing interest according to their class and degree. The five chief characters express drunkenness in five different fashions: the hopeless, combative, despairing, affectionate, etc. Wardle's stolid calm is good.

14. "The Breakdown." This was "Phiz's" coup d'essai after he was called in, and is a most spirited piece. But the variations make the second plate almost a new one. The drawing, grouping, etc., in b are an enormous improvement, and supply life and animation. The three figures, Pickwick, Wardle, and the postillion, are all altered for the better. In b Mr. Pickwick's nervousness, as he is extricated from the chaise, is well shown. The postillion becomes a round spirited figure, instead of a mere sketch; Wardle, as in the text, instead of stooping down and merely showing his back, is tramping about gesticulating. A very spirited white horse is introduced with a postillion as spirited; the single chaise in the distance, the horses drawn back, and Jingle stretching out, is admirable. It is somehow conveyed in a clever way in b that Miss Wardle is peeping through the hind window at the scene. There is a wheel on the ground in b, and one hat; in a there are two hats—Mr. Pickwick's, which is recognizable, and Wardle's.

15. "First Appearance of Mr. S. Weller." In the first issue a faint "Nemo" can be made out in the corner, and it is said the same signature is on the preceding plate, though I have never been able to trace it clearly. This plate, as is well known, represents the court of the Old White Hart Inn in the Borough, which was pulled down some years ago. On this background—the galleries, etc., being picturesquely indicated—stand out brilliantly the four figures. The plate was varied in important ways. In the b version some fine effects of light and shade are brought out by the aid of the loaded cart and Wardle's figure. Wardle's hat is changed from a common round one to a low broad-leafed one, his figure made stouter, and he is clothed with dark instead of white breeches, his face broadened and made more good-humoured. Sam's face in b is made much more like the ideal Sam; that in a is grotesque. Perker's face and attitude are altered in b, where he is made more interrogative. Mr. Pickwick in b is much more placid and bland than in a, and he carries his hat more jauntily. Top-boots in b are introduced among those which Sam is cleaning. He, oddly, seems to be cleaning a white boot. A capital dog in b is sniffing at Mr. Pickwick's leg; in a there is a rather unmeaning skulking animal. All the smaller figures are altered.

16. "Mrs. Bardell Faints." The first plate is feeble and ill-drawn, though Mrs. Bardell's and Tupman's faces are good, the latter somewhat farcical; the boy "Tommy" is decidedly bad and too small. Mr. Pickwick's face in a is better than in b. In the second attempt all is bolder and more spirited. The three Pickwickians are made to express astonishment, even in their legs. There is a table-desk in a, not in b. A clock and two vases are introduced, and a picture over the mirror representing a sleeping beauty with a cupid.

17. "The Election at Eatanswill." The first plate represents an election riot in front of the hustings, which is wild and fairly spirited. But no doubt it appeared somewhat confused to the artist. In his second he made it quite another matter. Over the hustings he introduced a glimpse of the old Ipswich gables. He changed the figure and dress of Fizkin, the rival candidate. He had Perker sitting on the rail, but substituted a standing-up figure, talking—presumably Perker, but taller than that gentleman. In b, Mr. Pickwick's face expresses astonishment at the disorder; in a he is mildly placid. In b the figure behind Mr. Pickwick is turned into Sam by placing a cockade on his hat. Next to Fizkin is a new portly figure introduced. The figures in the crowd are changed in wholesale fashion, and yet the "root idea" in both is the same. An artist, we fancy, would learn much from these contrasts, seeing how strikingly "Phiz" could shift his characters. In the first draft there was not sufficient movement. To the left there was a stout sailor in a striped jacket who was thrusting a pole into the chest of a thin man in check trousers. This, as drawn, seemed too tranquil, and he substituted a stouter, more jovial figure with gymnastic action—the second was made more contrasted. Next him was a confused group—a man with a paper cap, in place of which he supplied a stout man on whom the other was driven back, and who was being pushed from behind. The animation of the background is immensely increased by hats, and arms, and sticks being waved. Everything is bolder and clearer. The second trombone player, however, is not so spirited as the first, and the drum- beater becomes rather a "Punch and Judy" showman. An artistic effect of light is produced by this drum. There are a great many more boards, too, introduced in b.

"Mrs. Leo Hunter's Fancy dress Dejeune." In b the finish and treatment are infinitely improved. Mr. Pickwick's face and figure is more refined and artistic. The way he holds his hat in his right hand and his left also are improved; both are more extended. Mr. Snodgrass's left leg is brought behind Mr. Pickwick's in b. Water—a pond perhaps—is in front. Tupman's hat is altered in b, and feathers added; his face is more serious and less grotesque. Mrs. Pott is more piquant, as the author suggested to the artist. The birdcage, instead of being high in the tree, is lowered and hangs from it. The most curious change is that of Pott, who in a is out of all scale, seeming to be about seven feet high. He was lowered in b, and given a beard and a more hairy cap. It was said, indeed, that the original face was too like Lord Brougham's, but the reason for the change was probably what I have given.

"The Young Ladies' Seminary." All details are changed. The rather "cranky" face of Mr. Pickwick, utterly unlike him, was improved and restored to its natural benevolence; more detail put into the faces, notably the cook's. The girls are made more distinct and attractive—the lady principal at the back made effective; all the foliage treated differently, a tree on the left removed. In a there is a sort of hook on the inside of the door to hold a bell, which is absent; in b it is added. The bolts, etc., are different.

"Mr. Pickwick in the Pound." b is more brilliant and vastly improved; the smaller donkey is removed, the three reduced to two; the sweep's cap is made white; the faces are altered, and made more animated. Mr. Pickwick's figure in the barrow is perhaps not improved, but his face is.

"Mr. Pickwick in the Attorney's Office." Sam's face in a was quite unlike, and was improved; the position of his legs altered. The other points are much the same.

"Last Visit of Heyland to the Old Man." This is a sort of anticipation of "Phiz's" later treatment of tragic subjects, as supplied for "Bleak House" and such stories. Heyling's cloak in b is draped over his left arm, the boards of the door are outlined differently. In a the face of the old man a side one, with little expression; in b it was made three- quarters, and contorted with horror—the attitude powerfully expressive, indeed. The figures of both are worth comparing.

"The Double-bedded Room." In b the lady's face is refined, and made less of the "nut-cracker" type. The comb is removed, her feet are separated, and the figure becomes not ungraceful. A white night-gown in b is introduced; in a it is her day-gown, and dark; the back of the chair in b is treated more ornamentally; in a a plain frilled nightcap is hung on the chair, changed in b to a more grotesque and "Gamp-like" headgear. Nothing can be better in a than the effect of light from the rushlight on the floor. This is helped by the lady's figure, which is darkened in a, and thrown out by the white curtains behind. Mr. Pickwick's face in a is not good, and much improved in b. It will be noted that the artist often thus failed in his hero's face—"missing his tip," as it were. This picture admirably illustrates the artist's power of legitimately emphasizing details—such as the night-cap—to add to the comic situation.

"Mr. Weller Attacks the Executive of Ipswich." There is scarcely any alteration worth notice.

"Job Trotter Encounters Sam." The two plates are nearly the same, except that Mary's face is made prettier. Sam's is improved, and Job Trotter's figure and face more marked and spirited.

"Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's." The changes here are a cat and dog introduced in the foreground in b, instead of the dog which in a is between Mr. Pickwick and the old lady.

"Gabriel Grubb." A face is introduced into a branch or knot of the tree—an odd, rather far-fetched effect. The effectively outlined church in the background is St. Albans Abbey.

"Mr. Pickwick Slides." In b Mr. Winkle's skates are introduced. In one version there are five stakes instead of four, and Miss Allen's fur boots and feet are depicted differently in each.

"Conviviality at Bob Sawyer's." The two plates correspond almost exactly—save for a slight alteration in the arrangement of the books in the case.

"Mr. Pickwick Sits for his Portrait." Slight alterations in the faces and in the bird-cage. The arrangement of the panes in the window is also different. Mr. Pickwick's face is made more intelligent. A handle is supplied to a pewter pot on the floor.

"The Warden's Room." Almost exactly the same in both. But why has Mr. Pickwick his spectacles on when just roused from sleep? There is a collar to the shirt hanging from the cord.

"The Meeting with Jingle." Very slight changes in the faces. The child's face in b is admirable, and, like one of Cruikshank's miniatures, it conveys alarm and grief. The face of the woman watering her plant is improved. Note the Hogarthian touch of the initials carved on the window, sufficiently distinct and yet not intrusively so. This is a most skilfully grouped and dramatic picture, and properly conveys the author's idea.

"The Ghostly Passenger." This illustration of what is one of the best tales of mystery is equally picturesque and original. The five figures in front are truly remarkable. The elegant interesting figure of the woman, the fop with his hat in the air, the bully with the big sword, the man with the blunderbuss, and the bewildered rustic, to say nothing of the muffled figures on the coach, make up a perfect play. There seems a flutter over all; it is like, as it was intended to be, a scene in a dream.

"Mr. Winkle Returns under Extraordinary Circumstances." There is little difference between the plates, save as to the details of the objects in the cupboard. In b some bottles have been introduced on the top shelf. Mrs. Winkle's is a pleasing, graceful figure in both, and improved and refined in b. More spirit, too, is put into Mr. Pickwick's figure as he rises in astonishment. It may be noted what a graceful type of womanhood then prevailed, the face being thrown out by "bands" of hair and ringlets, the large spreading bonnets and white veils. Mary wears an enormous bonnet or hat like her mistress.

"Mr. Sawyer's Mode of Travelling." The amazing spirit and movement of this picture cannot be too much praised. The chaise seems whirling along, so that the coach, meeting it, seems embarrassed and striving to get out of the way. The Irish family, struggling to keep up with the chaise, is inimitable. There are some changes in b. The man with the stick behind has a bundle or bag attached. The mother with her three children is a delightful group, and much improved in the second plate. The child holding up flowers is admirably drawn. The child who has fallen is given a different attitude in b. The dog, too, is slightly altered.

"The Rival Editors." There is little change made, save that more plates, jugs, etc., are introduced. The "row" is shown with extraordinary spirit. Note the grotesque effect of Pott's face, shown through the cloth that Sam has put over his head. The onions have got detached from the hank hung to the ceiling, and are tumbling on the combatants, and—a capital touch this—the blackbird, whose cage has been covered over to secure its repose, is shown in b dashing against the bars. We might ask, however, what does the cook there, and why does she "trouble herself about the warming-pan"?

"Mary and the Fat Boy." Both plates nearly the same, the languishing face of the Fat Boy admirable. Mary's figure, as she draws the chair, charming, though somewhat stout at the back. The cook is present, and a plate laid for her, which is contrary to the text.

"Mr. Weller and his Friends Drinking to Mr. Pell." Plates almost the same, save for a slight alteration in the faces, and a vinegar cruet introduced next to Mr. Pell's oysters. Admirable and most original and distinct are the figures of the four coachmen, even the one of whom we have only a back view.

Perhaps no one of the plates displays Phiz's vivid power so forcibly as the one of the trial "Bardell v. Pickwick." Observe the dramatic animation, with the difficulty of treating a number of figures seated in regular rows. The types of the lawyers are truly admirable. In this latter piece there are no less than thirty-five faces, all characteristic, showing the peculiar smug and pedantic cast of the barristerial lineaments. Note specially the one at the end of the third bench who is engrossed in his brief, the pair in the centre who are discussing something, the two standing up. But what is specially excellent is the selection of faces for the four counsel concerned in the case. Nothing could be more appropriate or better suit the author's description. What could excel, or "beat" Buzfuz with his puffed, coarse face and hulking form? His brother Serjeant has the dried, "peaked" look of the overworked barrister, and though he is in his wig we recognize him at once, having seen him before at his chambers. Mr. Phunkey, behind, is the well-meaning but incapable performer to be exhibited in his examination of Winkle; and Mr. Skimpin is the alert, unscrupulous, wide- awake practitioner who "made such a hare" of Mr. Winkle. The composition of this picture is indeed a work of high art.

In "Mr. Pickwick sliding," how admirably caught is the tone of a genial, frosty day at a country-house, with the animation of the spectators—the charming landscape. In the scene of "Under the Mistletoe" at Manor Farm, the Fat Boy, by some mistake of size, cannot be more than five or six years old, and Tupman is shown on one knee "making up" to one of the young ladies. Beaux seemed to have been very scarce in the district where stout, elderly gentlemen were thus privileged.

The curious thing is that hardly a single face of Mr. Pickwick's corresponds with its fellows, yet all are sufficiently like and recognizable. In the first picture of the club he is a cantankerous, sour, old fellow, but the artist presently mellowed him. The bald, benevolent forehead, the portly little figure, the gaiters, eye-glass and ribbon always put on expressively, seem his likeness. The "Mr. Pickwick sliding" and the "Mr. Pickwick sitting for his portrait in the Fleet" have different faces.

There has always been a sort of fascination in tracing out and identifying the Pickwickian localities. It is astonishing the number of persons that have been engrossed with this pursuit. Take Muggleton for instance, which seems to have hitherto defied all attempts at discovery. The younger Charles Dickens fancied that town, Malling, which lies to the south of Rochester. Mr. Frost, Mr. Hughes, and other "explorers" all have their favourite town. I, myself, had fixed on Maidstone as fulfilling the necessary conditions of having a Mayor and Corporation; as against this choice and that of all the towns that were south of Rochester there was always this fact, that Boz describes the party going up the street as they left Rochester, a route that led them north-east. But the late Miss Dickens—"Mamie" as she was affectionately called—in her pleasing and very natural little book, "My Father as I Recall Him," has casually dropped a hint which puts us on the right track. When driving with her on the "beautiful back road to Cobham once, he pointed out a spot. There it was, he said, where Mr. Pickwick dropped his whip." The distressed travellers had to walk some twelve or fourteen miles—about the distance of Muggleton—which was important enough to have a Mayor and Corporation, etc. We ourselves have walked this road, and it led us to—Gravesend. Gravesend we believe to be Muggleton—against all competitors. Further, when chasing Jingle, Wardle went straight from Muggleton to town, as you can do from Gravesend; from which place there is a long walk to Cobham.

For abundance of editions the immortal Pickwick can hold its own with any modern of its "weight, age, and size." From the splendid yet unwieldy edition de luxe, all but Bible-like in its proportions, to the one penny edition sold on barrows in Cheapside, every form and pattern has been supplied.

The Gadshill Edition, with Introduction by Andrew Lang, has recently been issued by Messrs. Chapman and Hall, and is all that can be desired. Print, paper, and size are excellent, perfect, even captivating. The old illustrations, from the original plates, are bright and clear, unworn and unclogged with ink. The editor has been judiciously reserved in his introduction and annotations. While Mr. Lang's lack of sympathy with Dickens is well-known, and, like Sam Weller after leaving the witness- box, he has said just as little respecting Mr. Pickwick as might be, "which was precisely the object he had in view all along." But it almost seems as though one required to be "brought up" in Pickwick, so to speak, thoroughly to understand him. No true Pickwickian would ever have called Tuckle the Bath Footman, "Blazer," or Jingle, "Jungle." It were better, too, not to adopt a carping tone in dealing with so joyous and irresponsible a work. "Dickens," we are told, "knew nothing of cricket." Yet in his prime the present writer has seen him "marking" all day long, or acting as umpire, with extraordinary knowledge and enthusiasm. In Pickwickian days the game was not what it is now; it was always more or less irregular and disorderly. As proof of "Boz's" ignorance, Mr. Lang says it is a mystery why Podder "missed the bad balls, blocked the doubtful ones, took the good ones, and sent them flying, etc." Surely nothing could be plainer. He "missed"—that is, did not strike—the balls of which nothing could be made, blocked the dangerous ones, and hit the good ones all over the field. What more or what better could Dr. Grace do?

* * * * *

The original agreement for "Pickwick" I have not seen, though it is probably in existence, but there is now being shown at the Earl's Court Victorian Era Exhibition a very interesting Pickwickian curio. When the last number had appeared, a deed was created between the two publishers, Edward Chapman and William Hall, giving them increased control over the book. It is dated November 18th, 1837, and sets out that the property consisted of three shares held by the two publishers and author. It was contracted that the former should purchase for a period of five years the author's third share. And it was further stipulated that at the end of that term, they, and no one else, should have the benefit of any new arrangement. There was also an arrangement about purchasing the "stock," etc., at the end of the term. No mention, however, is made of the terms or "consideration," for which reference is made to another deed. The whole is commendably short and intelligible.



Footnotes:

{24} As I write it is mentioned in some "society case" that the valet received 63 pounds a year, and 30s. a month "beer money."

{30} Not long since, we noticed the general merriment at the Victoria Station on the apparition of one of these curios carried by a rural looking man.

{34} Vide "History of Pickwick."

{47} NOTE—We have even in London the regular Pickwickian publisher, whose work is stimulated by a generous ardour and prepared knowledge of "States," Curios of all kinds associated with Boz in general, and Pickwick in particular. Among these is Mr. Spencer, of High Holborn—"who will get you up a Pickwick" with all the advertisements, wrappers, etc., within a reasonable period—and who will point out to you some mysterious error in the paging, which has escaped previous commentators. There is also Mr. Robson, of Coventry Street, and Mr. Harvey, of St. James' Street.

THE END

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