On the back of a pen-and-ink drawing of "Oliver's Reception by Fagin and the Boys," Cruikshank suggested a different title, viz. On the back of a sketch of Mr. Brownlow at the bookstall for the plate entitled "Oliver Amazed at the Dodger's Mode of 'Going to Work'" is the rough draft of an unsigned note in the autograph of Cruikshank, evidently addressed to Dickens:—. The first is in progress. By the way, would you like to see the Drawing?
I can spare it for an hour or two if you will send for it. I am enabled to reproduce in facsimile a very interesting sheet of sketches for prominent characters in "Oliver Twist," containing no less than five studies of Fagin, including the "first idea" for the famous etching of the Jew in the condemned cell.
Still more noteworthy are four studies of Bill Sikes in the condemned cell, evidently made early in the progress of the book, thus seeming to indicate that the artist conjectured this would be the fate of the burglar instead of the Jew; or is it possible that the existence of these studies may be considered as a corroboration of his assertion in a letter to the Times , presently to be quoted that he, and not Dickens, must be credited with the idea of putting either Sikes or Fagin in the cell?
Concerning Cruikshank's powerful conception of Fagin in the condemned cell "the immortal Fagin of 'Oliver Twist,'" as Thackeray styled him , it is related by Mr. George Hodder in "Memories of my Time" that when the great George brought forth this picture, where the Jew is seen biting his finger-nails and suffering the tortures of remorse and chagrin, Horace Mayhew took an opportunity of asking him by what mental process he had conceived such an extraordinary notion; and his answer was, that he had been labouring at the subject for several days, but had not succeeded in getting the effect he desired.
At length, beginning to think the task was almost hopeless, he was sitting up in bed one morning, with his hand covering his chin and the tips of his fingers between his lips, the whole attitude expressive of disappointment and despair, when he saw his face in a cheval-glass which stood on the floor opposite to him.
Many years afterwards Cruikshank declared this statement to be absurd, and when interrogated by Mr. Austin Dobson, who met the artist at Mr. Frederick Locker's house in , he said he had never been perplexed about the matter, but attributed the story to the fact that, not being satisfied whether the knuckles should be raised or depressed, he had made studies of his own hand in a glass, and illustrated his account by putting his hand to his mouth, looking, with his hooked nose, wonderfully like the character [Pg 15] [Pg 16] he was speaking of. Respecting another illustration in the story, where "The Jew and Morris Bolter begin to Understand each Other," Professor Ruskin observes that it is "the intensest rendering of vulgarity, absolute and utter," with which he is acquainted.
The latter portion of "Oliver Twist" was written in anticipation of the magazine, in order that the complete story might be promptly launched in volume form. The illustrations for the final chapters had consequently to be produced simultaneously and with all possible speed, so that the artist had no time to submit his designs to Dickens. One of these plates, viz. Harry Maylie; he, his wife, and mother, are seated by the fire, while Oliver stands by Rose Maylie's side. When Dickens first saw this etching he so strongly disapproved of it that the plate was forthwith cancelled and another design substituted; but, the book being then on the eve of publication, it was impossible to prevent a small number of impressions of this illustration being circulated, and copies of the work containing the scarce "Fireside" plate are therefore eagerly sought after by collectors.
Dickens, in expressing to Cruikshank his disapprobation of this etching, undoubtedly realised the delicacy of the situation, in the possibility of injuring the susceptibilities of the artist, as the following carefully-worded intimation testifies:—. May I ask you whether you will object to designing this plate afresh, and doing so at once , in order that as few impressions as possible of the present one may go forth? In the South Kensington Collection there is an early proof of the etching in which the shadow tints are washed in with a brush, and the fact that these alterations were subsequently carried out is established by the existence of a unique impression of the plate in its second state.
This proof was probably submitted to Dickens and again rejected, for no impressions having the stippled additions are known to have been published. The substituted design, bearing the same title as the suppressed one, does not much excel it in point of interest, as the artist himself readily admitted; it represents Rose Maylie and Oliver standing in front of the tablet put up in the church to the memory of Oliver's mother, this etching appearing in Bentley's Miscellany and in all but the earliest copies of the book.
The substituted plate like many others in the volume was afterwards considerably "touched up," for it will be noticed that in the earlier impressions Rose's dress is light in tone, while subsequently it was changed to black. A very circumstantial story relative to Cruikshank's connection with "Oliver Twist" was published in a Transatlantic journal called The Round Table , and reprinted immediately after Dickens's death in a biography of the novelist by Dr.
Shelton Mackenzie, who avers that he had been informed that Dickens intended to locate Oliver in Kent, and to introduce hop-picking and other picturesque features of the county he knew so well: that the author changed his purpose, and brought the boy to London: and further, that for such important alterations in the plot Cruikshank was responsible. But the more remarkable portion of this narrative is Dr. Mackenzie's account of his visit to Cruikshank in , [Pg 17] [Pg 18] at the artist's house in Myddleton Terrace, Pentonville, concerning which he writes:—. To while away the time, I gladly complied with his suggestion that I should look over a portfolio crowded with etchings, proofs, and drawings, which lay upon the sofa.
Among these, carelessly tied together in a wrap of brown paper, was a series of some twenty-five to thirty drawings, very carefully finished, through most of which were carried the now well-known portraits of Fagin, Bill Sikes and his dog, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and Master Charles Bates—all well known to the readers of 'Oliver Twist'—and many others who were not introduced.
There was no mistake about it, and when Cruikshank turned round, his work finished, I said as much. He told me that it had long been in his mind to show the life of a London thief by a series of drawings, engraved by himself, in which, without a single line of letterpress, the story would be strikingly and clearly told. When he came to that one which represents Fagin in the condemned cell, he silently studied it for half-an-hour, and told me that he was tempted to change the whole plot of his story; not to carry Oliver Twist through adventures in the country, but to take him up into the thieves' den in London, show what their life was, and bring Oliver safely through it without sin or shame.
I consented to let him write up to as many of the designs as he thought would suit his purpose; and that was the way in which Fagin, Sikes, and Nancy were created. My drawings suggested them, rather than his strong individuality suggested my drawings. Forster naturally characterises this story as a deliberate untruth, related with "a minute conscientiousness and particularity of detail that might have raised the reputation of Sir Benjamin Backbite himself," and points out that the artist's version, as here narrated, is completely refuted by Dickens's letter to Cruikshank, which unquestionably proves that the closing illustrations had not even been seen by the novelist until the book was ready for publication.
Cruikshank, on reading in the Times a criticism of Forster's biography, in which this charge against Dickens was commented upon, at once indited the following letter to that journal, where it appeared on December 30, —. John Forster's 'Life of Charles Dickens,' in your paper of the 26th inst. Shelton Mackenzie respecting the origin of 'Oliver Twist,' I shall be obliged if you will allow me to give some explanation upon this subject. For some time past I have been preparing a work for publication, in which I intend to give an account of the origin of 'Oliver Twist,' and I now not only deeply regret the sudden and unexpected decease of Mr.
Charles Dickens, but regret also that my proposed work was not published during his life-time. I should not now have brought this matter forward, but as Dr. Mackenzie states that he got the information from me, and as Mr. Forster declares his statement to be a falsehood, to which, in fact, he would apply a word of three letters, I feel called upon, not only to defend the Doctor, but myself also from such a gross imputation. Mackenzie has confused some circumstances with respect to Mr. Dickens looking over some drawings and sketches in my studio, but there is no doubt whatever that I did tell this gentleman that I was the originator of the story of 'Oliver Twist,' as I have told very many others who may have spoken to me on the subject, and which facts I now beg permission to repeat in the columns of the Times , for the information of Mr.
Forster and the public generally. Dickens that he should write the life of a London boy, and strongly advised him to do this, assuring him that I would furnish him with the subject and supply him with all the characters, which my large experience of London life would enable me to do.
And as I wished particularly to bring the habits and manners of the thieves of London before the public and this for a most important purpose, which I shall explain one of these days , I suggested that the poor boy should fall among thieves, but that his honesty and natural good disposition should enable him to pass through this ordeal without contamination; and after I had fully described the full-grown thieves the Bill Sykeses and their female companions, also the young thieves the Artful Dodgers and the receivers of stolen goods, Mr.
Dickens agreed to act on my suggestion, and the work was commenced, but we differed as to what sort of boy the hero should be. Dickens wanted rather a queer kind of chap, and, although this was contrary to my original idea, I complied with his request, feeling that it would not be right to dictate too much to the writer of the story, and then appeared 'Oliver Asking for More;' but it so happened just about this time that an inquiry was being made in the parish of St.
James's, Westminster, as to the cause of the death of some of the workhouse children who had been 'farmed out,' and in which inquiry my late friend Joseph Pettigrew surgeon to the Dukes of Kent and Sussex came forward on the part of the poor children, and by his interference was mainly the cause of saving the lives of many of these poor little creatures. I called the attention of Mr. Dickens to this inquiry, and said that [Pg 21] if he took up this matter, his doing so might help to save many a poor child from injury and death; and I earnestly begged of him to let me make Oliver a nice pretty little boy, and if we so represented him, the public—and particularly the ladies—would be sure to take a greater interest in him, and the work would then be a certain success.
Dickens agreed to that request, and I need not add here that my prophecy was fulfilled: and if any one will take the trouble to look at my representations of 'Oliver,' they will see that the appearance of the boy is altered after the two first illustrations, and, by a reference to the records of St. James's parish, and to the date of the publication of the Miscellany , they will see that both dates tally, and therefore support my statement.
Dickens's attention to Field Lane, Holborn Hill, wherein resided many thieves and receivers of stolen goods, and it was suggested that one of these receivers, a Jew, should be introduced into the story; and upon one occasion Mr. Dickens and Mr. Harrison Ainsworth called upon me at my house in Myddleton Terrace, Pentonville, and in course of conversation I then and there described and performed the character of one of these Jew receivers, whom I had long had my eye upon; and this was the origin of 'Fagin.
Ainsworth said to me one day, 'I was so much struck with your description of that Jew to Mr. Dickens, that I think you and I could do something together,' which notion of Mr. Ainsworth's, as most people are aware, was afterwards carried out in various works. Long before 'Oliver Twist' was ever thought of, I had, by permission of the city authorities, made a sketch of one of the condemned cells in Newgate prison; and as I had a great object in letting the public see what sort of places these cells were, and how they were furnished, and also to show a wretched condemned criminal therein, I thought it desirable to introduce such a subject into this work; but I had the greatest difficulty to get Mr.
Dickens to allow me to carry out my wishes in this respect; but I said I [Pg 22] must have either what is called a Christian or what is called a Jew in a condemned cell, and therefore it must be 'Bill Sikes' or 'Fagin;' at length he allowed me to exhibit the latter. Dickens not fully carrying out my first suggestion. Dickens until the work was nearly finished, and the letter of Mr. Dickens which Mr. Forster mentions only refers to the last etching—done in great haste—no proper time being allowed, and of a subject without any interest; in fact, there was not anything in the latter part of the manuscript that would suggest an illustration; but to oblige Mr.
Dickens I did my best to produce another etching, working hard day and night, but when done, what is it? Why, merely a lady and a boy standing inside of a church looking at a stone wall! Dickens named all the characters in this work himself, but before he had commenced writing the story he told me that he had heard an omnibus conductor mention some one as Oliver Twist, which name, he said, he would give the boy, as he thought it would answer his purpose.
I wanted the boy to have a very different name, such as Frank Foundling or Frank Steadfast; but I think the word Twist proves to a certain extent that the boy he was going to employ for his purpose was a very different sort of boy from the one introduced and recommended to him by, Sir, your obedient servant,. George Cruikshank. In Cruikshank issued a pamphlet entitled "The Artist and the Author, a Statement of Facts," where he positively asserted that not only was he the actual originator of "Oliver Twist," but also [Pg 23] of many of Harrison Ainsworth's weird romances; that these authors "wrote up to his suggestions and designs," just as Combe did with regard to "Dr.
Syntax" and Rowlandson's previously-executed illustrations. In another published letter, dated more than a year prior to that printed in the Times , the artist emphatically declared that the greater part of the second volume of "Sketches by Boz" was written from his hints and suggestions, and he significantly added, "I am preparing to publish an explanation of the reason why I did not illustrate the whole of Mr. Dickens's writings, and this explanation will not at all redound to his credit. I wanted Dickens to write me a work, but he did not do it in the way I wished. I assure you I went and made a sketch of the condemned cell many years before that work was published.
I wanted a scene a few hours before strangulation, and Dickens said he did not like it, and I said he must have a Jew or a Christian in the cell. Dickens said, 'Do as you like,' and I put Fagin, the Jew, into the cell. Dickens behaved in an extraordinary way to me, and I believe it had a little effect on his mind.
He was a most powerful opponent to Teetotalism, and he described us as 'old hogs. Unfortunately for Cruikshank's claim to the origin of "Oliver Twist," he allowed more than thirty years to elapse before making it public. When questioned on this point he would say that ever since [Pg 24] these works were published, and even when they were in progress, he had in private society, when conversing upon such matters, always explained that the original ideas and characters of these works emanated from him!
Harrison Ainsworth has recorded that Dickens was so worried by Cruikshank putting forward suggestions that he resolved to send him only printed proofs for illustration. In a letter to Forster January the novelist wrote, alluding to the severity of his labours: "I have not done the 'Young Gentleman,' nor written the preface to 'Grimaldi,' nor thought of 'Oliver Twist,' or even supplied a subject for the plate ," the latter intimation sufficiently indicating that Dickens was more directly concerned in the selection of suitable themes for illustration than Cruikshank would have us believe.
The author of "Sketches by Boz" abundantly testified in those remarkable papers that his eyes, like Cruikshank's, had penetrated the mysteries of London; indeed, we find in the "Sketches" all the material for the story of poor Oliver, where it is more artistically and dramatically treated.
It is not improbable, of course, that from Cruikshank's familiarity with life in the Great City he was enabled to offer useful hints to the young writer, and even perhaps to make suggestions respecting particular characters; but this constitutes a very unimportant share in the production of a literary work.
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To what extent the interchange between artist and author was carried can never be satisfactorily determined; but of this there can be no doubt, that Cruikshank's habit of exaggeration, combined with his eagerness in over-estimating the effect of his work, led him as Mr. Blanchard Jerrold remarks "into injudicious statements or over-statements," which were sometimes provocative of much unpleasant controversy.
It is, however, no exaggeration to say that the pencil of George Cruikshank was as admirable in its power of delineating character as was the mighty pen of Charles Dickens, and that in the success and popularity of "Oliver Twist" they may claim an equal share. The first paper, entitled "Public Life of Mr. Tulrumble, once Mayor of Mudfog" published in January , contains an etching of Ned  Twigger in the kitchen of Mudfog Hall, and the next contribution, purporting to be a "Full Report of the Second Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything" September, is embellished with a very ludicrous illustration, entitled "Automaton Police Office and Real Offenders, from the model exhibited before Section B of the Mudfog Association.
Coppernose to the President and members of the Association. To the second paper the artist also supplied a woodcut portrait of "The Tyrant Sowster," of whom he made no less than six studies before he succeeded in producing a satisfactory presentment of Mudfog's "active and intelligent" beadle. In his juvenile days Dickens wrote a farce entitled "The Lamplighter," which, owing to its non-acceptance by the theatrical management for whom it was composed, he converted into an amusing tale called "The Lamplighter's Story.
The work, edited by Dickens, was launched by Henry Colborn in , in three volumes, with fourteen illustrations by Cruikshank, "Phiz," and other artists. The first volume opened with "The Lamplighter's Story," for which Cruikshank provided an etching entitled "The Philosopher's Stone," the subject represented being the unexpected explosion of Tom Grig's [Pg 26] crucible. This was the last illustration executed by the artist for Dickens's writings,  and it may be added that some impressions of the plate were issued in proof state "before letters," but these are exceedingly rare.
Although for many years afterwards they continued fast friends, it may be as Mr. Graham Everitt conjectures that Cruikshank found it impossible to co-operate any longer with so exacting an employer of artistic labour as Charles Dickens, who remonstrated, with some show of reason, that he was the best judge of what he required pictorially,—an argument, however, which did not suit the independent spirit of the artist. Of his genius Dickens was ever a warm admirer, and remarking upon the exclusion of so able a draughtsman from the honours of the Royal Academy, because, forsooth!
Cruikshank and Mr. Leech will be still fresh in half the houses in the land? It will be remembered that George Cruikshank published a version of the Fairy Tales, converting them into stories somewhat resembling Temperance tracts. Dickens was greatly incensed, and, half-playfully and half-seriously, protested against such alterations of the beautiful little romances, this re-writing them "according to Total Abstinence, Peace Society, and Bloomer principles, and expressly for their propagation;" in an article published in Household Words , October 1, , entitled "Frauds on the Fairies," the novelist enunciates his opinions on the subject, and gives the story of Cinderella as it might be "edited" by a gentleman with a "mission.
There is no doubt, however, that Dickens's rebuke seriously affected the sale of the Fairy Library. In Dickens instituted a series of theatrical entertainments for certain charitable objects, the distinguished artists and writers who formed the goodly company of amateur actors including George Cruikshank. On one occasion they made a tour in the provinces, giving performances at several important towns, and on the conclusion of this "splendid strolling" Dickens wrote an amusing little jeu d'esprit in the form of a history of the trip, adopting for the purpose the phraseology of Mrs.
It was to be a new "Piljian's Projiss," with illustrations by the artist-members; but, for some reason, it was destined never to appear in the manner intended by its projector. Forster has printed all that was ever written of the little jest, where we find a humorous description of Cruikshank in Mrs.
Gamp's vernacular: "I was drove about like a brute animal and almost worritted into fits, when a gentleman with a large shirt-collar and a hook nose, and a eye like one of Mr. Sweedlepipe's hawks, and long locks of hair, and wiskers that I wouldn't have no lady as I was engaged to meet suddenly a turning round a corner, for any sum of money you could offer me, says, laughing, 'Halloa, Mrs. Gamp, what are you up to? Gamp was informed, in a whisper, that the gentleman who assisted her into the carriage was "George," she replied, "What George, sir?
I don't know no George. Whereupon Mrs. Gamp continues: "If you'll believe me, Mrs. Harris, I turns my head, and see the wery man a making picturs of me on his thumb-nail at the winder! That George Cruikshank was by no means a prosperous man is perhaps explained by the fact that he never was highly remunerated for his work. Sala declared that for an illustrative etching on a plate, octavo size, George never received more than twenty-five pounds, and had been paid as low as ten,—that he had often drawn "a charming little vignette on wood" for a guinea.
On February 1, , this remarkable designer and etcher—the most skilled book-illustrator of his day—passed painlessly away at his house in Hampstead Road, having attained the ripe old age of eighty-five. His remains were interred at Kensal Green, but were ultimately removed to the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, where a bust by Adams perpetuates his memory. Lithographic replicas of the plates in the Second Series were published in Calcutta in It is odd that Dickens himself first wrote it "Sykes," as may be seen in the original manuscript of the story.
Concerning the artist who was primarily engaged in the illustration of "Pickwick," very little has been recorded, owing perhaps to the fact that his career, which terminated so tragically and so prematurely, was brief and uneventful. The following particulars of his life and labours, culled from various sources, will, I trust, enable the reader to appreciate Robert Seymour's true position respecting his connection with Charles Dickens's immortal work.
Born "in or near London" in , Robert Seymour indicated at a very early age a decided taste for drawing, whereupon his father, Henry Seymour, a Somerset gentleman, apprenticed him to a skilful pattern-draughtsman named Vaughan, of Duke Street, Smithfield. He aspired to a higher branch of Art than [Pg 30] that involved in the delineation of patterns for calico-printers; but for a time he remained with Vaughan, pleasantly varying the monotony of his daily routine by producing miniature portraits of friends who consented to sit to him, receiving in return a modest though welcome remuneration.
Still cherishing an inclination towards "High Art," he and a colleague named Work significant patronymic! In Seymour's case tangible results were speedily forthcoming, for he presently painted a picture of unusually large dimensions, quaintly described by his fellow-student as containing representations of "the Giant of the Brocken, the Skeleton Hunt, the Casting of Bullets, and a full meal of all the German horrors eagerly swallowed by the public of that day. Seymour, like many other ambitious young artists possessing more talent than pence, quickly realised the sad fact that, though the pursuit was in itself a very agreeable one, it meant penury to the painter unless he owned a private fortune or commanded the purse-strings of rich patrons.
The artist's widow afterwards declared that he invariably sold his pictures direct from the easel; but there is no doubt that with him "High Art" proved a financial failure, and he reluctantly turned his attention to the more lucrative if less attractive occupation of designing on wood, for which he was peculiarly fitted by his previous practice in clean, precise draughtsmanship during that probationary period in Vaughan's workshop.
Seymour was endowed by Nature with a keen sense of the ludicrous, and this, aided by a knowledge of drawing, enabled him to execute designs of so humorous a character that his productions were immediately welcomed by the proprietors of such publications as Figaro and Bell's Life in London , to which were thus given a [Pg 31] vitality and a popularity they did not previously possess. Although at first the recompense was but scanty, hardly sufficient, indeed, to procure the necessaries of life, yet Robert Seymour felt it was the beginning of what might eventually resolve itself into a fairly remunerative vocation.
His talent speedily brought him profitable commissions for more serious publications, while his pencil was simultaneously employed in sketching and drawing amusing incidents, especially such as related to fishing and shooting,—forms of sport which constituted his favourite recreation.
Living at this time in the then rural suburb of Islington, he had many opportunities of observing the methods of Cockney sportsmen, who were wont to wander thither on Sundays and holidays, and whose inexperience with rod and gun gave rise to many absurdities and comic fiascos, thus affording the young artist abundant material for humorous designs.
Until , Seymour confined his labours to drawing for the wood-engravers. He now essayed the art of etching upon plates of steel or copper, simulating the style and manner of George Cruikshank; he even ventured to affix the nom de plume of "Shortshanks" to his early caricatures, until he received a remonstrance from the famous George himself. Having attained some proficiency in both etching and lithography, he determined to make practical use of his experience, and in designed a series of twelve lithographic plates for a new edition of a work entitled "Maxims and Hints for an Angler," in which the humours of the piscatorial art were excellently rendered; he also executed a number of similar designs portraying, with laughable effect, the adventures and misadventures of the very "counter-jumpers" whose ways and habits came under his keen, observant eye.
These amusing pictures, drawn on stone with pen-and-ink, and published as a collection of "Sketches by Seymour," achieved an immense popularity, and were chiefly the means of rendering his name generally familiar. Seymour was very fond of horticultural pursuits, and took great pains in cultivating his own garden; but the result of his efforts in this direction proved disappointing, and when dilating upon his want of success, it was suggested that the misfortunes of an amateur gardener might be made the subject of some entertaining drawings.
After pondering over this idea, and mindful of the fact that he still possessed a number of unpublished sketches reflecting upon the abilities of amateur sportsmen, he resolved upon reproducing some of a sporting character. His original notion was to bring out a work similar in plan to that of "The Heiress," a pictorial novel which he illustrated in , and he first proposed the subject to the printseller McLean in , and then to Spooner, the well-known publisher.
The Companion to Our Mutual Friend (RLE Dickens)
The latter highly approved the project, and in discussing it they concluded it would be desirable to supplement the pictures with suitable letterpress. The undertaking was so far advanced that Seymour etched four plates, but, owing to unforeseen delays on the part of Spooner, the matter was held in abeyance for about three months, by which time Seymour determined to issue the work on his own responsibility, and to endeavour to get H. Mayhew or Moncrieff to write for it.
The Pickwick Papers, Then came the question, Who should prepare the requisite text? Leigh Hunt, Theodore Hook, and other prominent writers of the day declined to undertake it, and shortly afterwards Seymour, having just been reading "Sketches by Boz," the humour and originality of which highly delighted him, proposed that Dickens should be asked to contribute the letterpress.
This appears very likely to have been the case," adds Mr. Bell, "as at that time Whitehead, who was eight years older than Dickens, was already known as a facile and fecund writer, his coarse yet powerful romance of 'Jack Ketch' having been very popular for some time. It is even possible that 'The Pickwick Papers' may have been suggested to Dickens by a passage in the preface of 'Jack Ketch,' where a humorous allusion is made to the possibility of the author producing his more mature experiences under the unambitious title of 'The Ketch Papers,' a work which never appeared.
This carries us to the point whence Dickens takes up the thread of the story, as printed in the preface to the first cheap edition of "Pickwick" , where he writes:—. The idea propounded to me was that the monthly something should be a vehicle for certain plates to be executed by Mr. Seymour, and there was a notion, either on the part of that admirable humorous artist or of my visitor I forget which , that a [Pg 33] [Pg 34] 'Nimrod Club,' the members of which were to go out shooting, fishing, and so forth, and getting themselves into difficulties through their want of dexterity, would be the best means of introducing these.
I objected, on consideration, that although born and partly bred in the country, I was no great sportsman, except in regard of all kinds of locomotion; that the idea was not novel, and had been already much used; that it would be infinitely better for the plates to arise naturally out of the text; and that I should like to take my own way, with freer range of English scenes and people, and was afraid I should ultimately do so in any case, whatever course I might prescribe to myself at starting.
My views being deferred to, I thought of Mr. Pickwick, and wrote the first number, from the proof-sheets of which Mr. Seymour made his drawing of the Club, and that happy portrait of its founder, by which he is always recognised, and which may be said to have made him a reality. I connected Mr. Pickwick with a club because of the original suggestion, and I put in Mr. Winkle expressly for the use of Mr.
The first monthly part of "The Pickwick Papers" appeared early in April , consisting of twenty-six pages of text and four etchings by Seymour. Judging from a letter written by Dickens at the time the scheme was first proposed, it seems that the illustrations were to have been engraved on wood. The artist was then excessively busy, for besides pledging himself to produce four plates for each monthly issue of "Pickwick," he had numerous other engagements to fulfil, so great was the demand for his designs. Although a rapid executant, the commissions he received from publishers accumulated to such an extent, that the excessive strain resulting from overwork at starvation prices began seriously to affect his health.
Not only did the monthly supply of the "Pickwick" plates constitute an additional demand upon his mental resources, but he was harassed by the uncertainty of receiving from the printer the proofs from which he deduced his subjects, these sometimes being delayed so that very little time was allowed for the preparation of the plates.
Unhappily [Pg 35] his brain was unable to bear such pressure; constant business worries and anxieties induced symptoms of insanity, and before he had completed the second quartette of etchings for "Pickwick," the unfortunate artist committed suicide. This deplorable act took place on April 20, , in a summer-house in the garden at the back of his residence in Liverpool Road, Islington, where, by the aid of a string attached to the trigger of a fowling-piece, he deliberately sent the charge through his head.
Seymour, we are assured, had not the slightest pecuniary embarrassment; he was quite happy, too, in his domestic affairs, extremely fond of his family, and naturally of a very cheerful disposition. His melancholy fate caused a general feeling of regret among the public, with whom he was a great favourite, and to whom he was then better known than Dickens himself.
Charles Dickens | Poetry Foundation
In the second number of "Pickwick" appeared the following just tribute to the merits of the artist: "Some time must elapse before the void the deceased gentleman has left in his profession can be filled up; the blank his death has occasioned in the Society, which his amiable nature won, and his talents adorned, we can hardly hope to see supplied.
We do not allude to this distressing event, in the vain hope of adding, by any eulogium of ours, to the respect in which the late Mr. Seymour's memory is held by all who ever knew him. In the original announcement of "The Pickwick Papers" we read: "Seymour has devoted himself, heart and graver, to the task of illustrating the beauties of 'Pickwick.
The Address issued with the Second Part contains an apology for the appearance therein of only three plates instead of four, as promised. Seymour's last efforts, and that on one of them, in particular, the embellishment to the Stroller's Tale, he was engaged up to a late hour of the night preceding his death, we feel confident that the excuse will be deemed a sufficient one. Seymour shot himself before the second number of 'The Pickwick Papers' While he lay dead, [Pg 37] it was necessary that search should be made in his working room for the plates to the second number, the day for the publication of which was then drawing on.
The plates were found unfinished, with their faces turned to the wall. It was Mr. Chapman who found them and brought them away. In Messrs. In the editor's preface it is stated that four out of the seven drawings etched by Seymour for "Pickwick" had disappeared, but it afterwards transpired that two of the missing designs remained in the possession of the artist's family, until they were sold to a private purchaser, who, in , disposed of them by auction. Of these drawings, therefore, only one, viz. The album in which the missing designs were found also contained other original drawings for "Pickwick," as well as the Dickens letter to Seymour and an excellent portrait of the artist; this important collection included the three published designs viz.
Slammer's Defiance of Jingle,"—the latter differing slightly from the etching , together with the first sketch for "The Dying Clown," and two unpublished drawings evidently alternative subjects, illustrating incidents in the fifth chapter , respectively representing "The Runaway Chaise" and "The Pickwickians in Mr.
Wardle's Kitchen. Perhaps the most astonishing circumstance in connection with this collection is the extravagant sum it realised in the auction-room, for, as might be anticipated, many were anxious to secure so valuable a memento. Augustin Daly of New York and another whose name is unrecorded, the result being [Pg 38] that the prize fell to Mr. No one experienced greater surprise at this enormous price than the purchaser himself, who assures me that, although he imposed no limit, it was never his intention to offer so fabulous an amount; indeed, the sum he had in his mind was not so much as a quarter of that at which this attractive album eventually fell to the hammer.
Owing to the generosity of Mr. Daly, I am enabled to reproduce in facsimile the whole of these extremely interesting designs, which he brought to England expressly for this purpose. Seymour's method of work was to sketch with pencil or pen the outline of his subject, and add the shadow effects by means of light washes of a greyish tint.
A precision and neatness of touch characterise these "Pickwick" drawings, the most interesting of which is undoubtedly that representing Mr. Pickwick addressing the Club, a scene such as Seymour may have actually witnessed in the parlour of almost any respectable public-house in his own neighbourhood of Islington. Here we have the first delineation of the immortal founder of the famous Club, "that happy portrait," as Dickens said of it, "by which he is always recognised, and which may be said to have made him a reality.
Pickwick, and in "Maxims and Hints for an Angler" , the artist similarly portrayed an old gentleman marvellously like him, both as regards physique and benignity of expression; indeed, this seems to have been a favourite type with Seymour, and thus it would appear that, in making Dickens's hero short and comfortable, he only reverted to an earlier conception.
The drawing which ranks second in point of interest is the artist's first idea for "The Dying Clown," illustrating "The Stroller's Tale. In the Victoria edition of "The Pickwick Papers" a facsimile is given of a later and more developed version of the subject; this differs from the published etching, the alterations being the result, doubtless, of the criticism bestowed upon the drawing in the following letter addressed by Dickens to the artist,—apparently the only written communication from him to Seymour which has been preserved:—.
Pickwick, and how much the result of your labours has surpassed my expectations. I am happy to be able to congratulate you, the publishers, and myself on the success of the undertaking, which appears to have been most complete. It is this. I am extremely anxious about 'The Stroller's Tale,' the more especially as many literary friends, on whose judgment I place great reliance, think it will create considerable sensation.
I have seen your design for an etching to accompany it. I think it extremely good, but still it is not quite my idea; and as I feel so very solicitous to have it as complete as possible, I shall feel personally obliged if you will make another drawing. It will give me great pleasure to see you, as well as the drawing, when it is completed. With this view I have asked Chapman and Hall to take a glass of grog with me on Sunday evening the only night I am disengaged , when I hope you will be able to look in. I think the woman should be younger—the dismal man decidedly should, and he should be less miserable in appearance.
To communicate an interest to the plate, his whole appearance should express more sympathy and solicitude; and while I represented the sick man as emaciated and dying, I would not make him too repulsive. The furniture of the room you have depicted admirably. I have ventured to make these suggestions, feeling assured that you will consider them in the spirit in which I submit them to your judgment. I shall be happy to hear from you that I may expect to see you on Sunday evening. In compliance with this wish, Seymour etched a new design for "The Stroller's Tale," which he conveyed to the author at the appointed time, this being the only occasion on which he and Dickens ever met.
Whether the novelist again manifested dissatisfaction, or whether some other cause of irritation arose, is not known, but it is said that Seymour returned home after the interview in a very discontented frame of mind; he did nothing more for "Pickwick" from that time, and destroyed nearly all the correspondence relating to the subject. It has been stated that he received five pounds for each drawing, but it is positively asserted, on apparently trustworthy evidence, that the sum paid on account was only thirty-five shillings for each subject,  and that the artist never relinquished the entire right which he had in the designs.
As in the case of "The Stroller's Tale," there are noticeable differences between the drawing and the etching of the last of Seymour's published designs, depicting Mr.
Oh no, there's been an error
Winkle and the Refractory Steed. In this plate it will be observed that, although the general composition is identical with that in the drawing, the positions of the horse's forelegs are reversed, and trees have been introduced on the left of the picture. An examination of Seymour's etchings for "Pickwick" shows that, in the application of the dilute nitric acid to corrode the lines produced by the etching-point, the artist was greatly troubled, and, in order to save his designs and keep faith with the publishers and the public, he was probably compelled to apply for help in his need to one of the artist-engravers residing in his neighbourhood.
It has been suggested that certain faults in his plates caused by defective "biting" were remedied by means of the engraving tool; but, so far as I have been able to discover, there is no evidence of this. His plates possess the quality of pure etching; indeed, in that respect they are superior to those by "Phiz" in the same work. It should, however, be noted that there are extant very few copies of "Pickwick" containing impressions from Seymour's own plates; perhaps in not more than one copy out of a hundred will they be found, and this scarcity is explained by the fact that when the plates suffered deterioration through printing, the artist's death prevented him from duplicating them, so that the subjects had to be copied and re-etched by "Phiz.
There is reason to infer, from an entry in the artist's memorandum-book, that the first four subjects were etched before he showed them to Dickens, and that they were afterwards re-etched and modified in some degree to suit the author's views. Besides these illustrations, Seymour is responsible for the design appearing on the green wrapper of the monthly parts, which was engraved on wood by John Jackson.
A glance at this at once convinces us how strongly the "sporting" element was at first intended to predominate, for here are displayed trophies of guns, fishing-rods, and other sporting implements; at the top of the page is seen the veritable Winkle aiming at a sparrow, while below, seated on a chair in a punt, peacefully reposes Mr.
Pickwick with his rod, watching for a "bite"; in the background of the picture may be [Pg 42] recognised Putney Church, as well as the old wooden bridge which once spanned the Thames at this point. After the publication of "The Pickwick Papers" many veracious reports as to its origin were circulated.
In some of these statements Dickens was entirely deprived of the credit of its inception, and partly to assert his claim, but principally because he believed his readers would be interested in the truth of the matter, he related the facts in the already-quoted Preface to the first cheap edition.
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About two years later he was considerably annoyed by the appearance of a pamphlet purporting to give "An Account of the Origin of the Pickwick Papers," the author of which was the "widow of the distinguished artist who originated the work. Seymour printed in her brochure a distorted version of Dickens's Preface, and attempted a reply thereto, by which she endeavoured to show the fallacy of his statements.
The following extract from this privately-printed pamphlet sufficiently indicates the tenor of Mrs. Seymour's attempt to prove that the honour belonged exclusively to the artist: "Mr. Dickens edited a work called 'The Pickwick Papers,' which was originated solely by my husband in the summer of , and but for a cold which brought on a severe illness which he caught on Lord Mayor's Day, on taking his children to view the procession from the Star Chamber, would have been written, as well as embellished, by himself; this cause alone prevented him from doing so, as the numerous periodicals he was constantly engaged upon had greatly accumulated during his illness.
With a view to future action, however, he wrote to Edward Chapman for his recollections of the primary events in the history of the work, and accordingly received from him the following reply, [Pg 43] dated July 7, "In November  we published a little book called 'The Squib Annual,' with plates by Seymour, and it was during my visit to him to see after them that he said he should like to do a series of Cockney sporting plates of a superior sort to those he had already published.
I said I thought it might do if accompanied by letterpress and published in monthly parts; and this being agreed to, we wrote to the author of 'Three Courses and a Dessert' a Mr. I proposed it; but receiving no answer, the scheme dropped for some months, till Seymour said he wished us to decide, as another job had offered which would fully occupy his time. And it was on this we decided to ask you to do it I am quite sure that from the beginning to the end nobody but yourself had anything whatsoever to do with it.
Seymour,' which in your editorial discretion you published last week. Seymour the artist never originated, suggested, or in any way had to do with, save as illustrator of what I devised, an incident, a character except the sporting tastes of Mr. Winkle , a name, a phrase, or a word, to be found in 'The Pickwick Papers. Seymour but once in my life, and that was within eight-and-forty hours of his untimely death.
Two persons, both still living, were present on that short occasion. Seymour died when only twenty-four [twenty-six] printed pages of 'The Pickwick Papers' were published; I think before the next three or four [afterwards corrected to "twenty-four"] were completely written; I am sure before one subsequent line of the book was invented. Hall's interview with the novelist, as given in the Preface of the edition, and the letter thus continues:]. Seymour, in the course of certain endeavours of hers to raise money, induced me to address a letter to Mr. I have disregarded it until now, except that I took the precaution some years ago to leave among my few papers Edward Chapman's testimony to the gross falsehood and absurdity of the idea.
I stated in that letter that I had never so much as seen Seymour but once in my life, and that was some eight-and-forty hours before his death. Those were your Uncle Frederick and your mother. I wish you would ask your mother to write to you, for my preserva [Pg 45] tion among the aforesaid few papers, a note giving you her remembrance of that evening—of Frederick's afterwards knocking at our door before we were up, to tell us that it was in the papers that Seymour had shot himself, and of his perfect knowledge that the poor little man and I looked upon each other for the first and last time that night in Furnival's Inn.
The "few papers" here alluded to were destroyed before the novelist's death, with the exception of Edward Chapman's confirmatory letter. Needless to say, both Mrs. Charles Dickens and Frederick Dickens entirely corroborated the novelist's assertions respecting his own share and that of Seymour in the origin of "Pickwick.
In concluding this account of a most unpleasant controversy, we may reasonably surmise that had not Seymour communicated his idea to Chapman, "Pickwick" would never have been written. The proposal for a book similar in character certainly emanated from the artist, and in this sense he was, of course, the originator of that work, while to him also belongs the honour of inventing, pictorially, the portraits of the Pickwickians. But it was "Boz, glorious Boz," who vitalised the happy conception, by imparting thereto such prodigality of fun and so much individuality that "The Pickwick Papers" at once leaped into fame, and, as all the world knows, was received with acclamation by every section of the public.
The Library of Fiction, Coincident with the publication of the first monthly number of "The Pickwick Papers," there appeared the initial part of a new serial called "The Library of Fiction," which, under the editorship of Charles Whitehead, was launched by the same publishers. Whitehead, whose name has already been mentioned in connection with "Pickwick," became acquainted with Dickens at the time the latter was writing [Pg 46] "Sketches by Boz," which he so much admired that he endeavoured to persuade the young author to contribute something of a similarly striking character to the projected "Library of Fiction.
Several of the articles and tales in "The Library of Fiction" were illustrated, and it is interesting to note that Dickens's contribution to the first part was embellished with two designs by Robert Seymour, engraved on wood by Landells. It is generally considered that Seymour's woodcut illustrations are by far the best specimens of his talent, and the engravers of that day were exceedingly happy in reproducing the delicacy of touch and brilliancy of effect which distinguished the drawings made by him direct upon the blocks.
Seymour's first design represents the Tuggs family and their friends, Mr. Captain Waters, on the sands by the seaside, and it is interesting to learn that the fat man seated on a chair in front is said to be a portrait of the artist, as he appeared during the latter part of his life.
The second illustration, depicting the incident of the irate Captain Waters discovering Mr. Cymon Tuggs behind the curtain, also formed the subject of George Cruikshank's etching for the little story when it was reprinted in the first edition of "Sketches by Boz," published about some three years later, and, in comparing the separate designs, we find that they are almost identical, except that the two prominent figures in the etching are in reverse of those in the woodcut.
It seems that Seymour's final drawing was for a woodcut, executed for John Jackson, the engraver, to whom the artist delivered it on the evening of the fatal day, April 20, Buss, the successor of Seymour as illustrator of "Pickwick," records that ten shillings was the price accorded to the artist for each plate. Seymour's own copy of this exceedingly scarce pamphlet of which only three copies are known to exist was purchased by Mr. It contains a few slight corrections by Mrs. Daly's collection, depicting the Pickwickians in Mr.
Wardle's kitchen, illustrates a scene described on page 50, so that Dickens's memory was slightly at fault. Circa Clint, A. Charles Dickens's brother-in-law, the late Mr. Henry Burnett, was a frequent visitor at the home of the novelist during the "Pickwick" period, and years afterwards he vividly recalled the consternation, disappointment, and anxiety of the young writer on receipt of the melancholy news concerning the distressing fate of Robert Seymour, the first illustrator of "The Pickwick Papers.
Their travels throughout the English countryside by coach provide the chief theme of the novel. A distinctive and valuable feature of the work is the generally accurate description of the old coaching inns of England. Its main literary value and appeal is formed by its numerous memorable characters. Each character in The Pickwick Papers , as in many other Dickens novels, is drawn comically, often with exaggerated personality traits. Alfred Jingle , who joins the cast in chapter two, provides an aura of comic villainy, with his devious tricks repeatedly landing the Pickwickians into trouble.
These include a nearly successful attempted elopement with the spinster Rachael Wardle of Dingley Dell manor, misadventures with Dr Slammer, and others. Further humour is provided when the comic cockney Sam Weller makes his advent in chapter 10 of the novel. First seen working at the White Hart Inn in The Borough , Weller is taken on by Mr Pickwick as a personal servant and companion on his travels and provides his own oblique ongoing narrative on the proceedings. The relationship between the idealistic and unworldly Pickwick and the astute cockney Weller has been likened to that between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Through humour Dickens is able to capture quintessential aspects of English life in the mid-nineteenth century that a more sober approach would miss. Perhaps the popularity of this novel was due in part to the fact that the readers of the time were able to truly see themselves, and could accept themselves because of Dickens's skillful use of humor.
Other notable adventures include Mr Pickwick's attempts to defend a lawsuit brought by his landlady, Mrs Bardell, who through an apparent misunderstanding on her part is suing him for breach of promise. Another is Mr Pickwick's incarceration at Fleet Prison for his stubborn refusal to pay the compensation to her — because he doesn't want to give a penny to Mrs Bardell's lawyers, the unscrupulous firm of Messrs.
Dodson and Fogg. The generally humorous tone is here briefly replaced by biting social satire including satire of the legal establishment. This foreshadows major themes in Dickens's later books. According to Retrospect Opera , there was an early attempt at a theatrical adaptation with songs by W.
Moncrieff and entitled Samuel Weller, or, The Pickwickians , in This was followed in by John Hollingshead 's stage play Bardell versus Pickwick. Although it was a major success in London, running for performances, Pickwick failed in the United States when it opened on Broadway in Stephen Jarvis's novel Death and Mr Pickwick  is in part a literary thriller, examining in forensic detail the question of whether the idea, character and physiognomy of Samuel Pickwick originated with Dickens, or with the original illustrator and instigator of the project, Robert Seymour.
The conclusion of the narrator is that the accepted version of events given by Dickens and the publisher Edward Chapman is untrue. The novel was published in 19 issues over 20 months; the last was double-length and cost two shillings. In mourning for his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth , Dickens missed a deadline and consequently, there was no number issued in May Numbers were typically issued on the last day of its given month:.
It is interesting to keep the number divisions and dates in mind while reading the novel, especially in the early parts.
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The Pickwick Papers , as Charles Dickens's first novel, is particularly chaotic: the first two numbers featured four illustrations by Robert Seymour and 24 pages of text. Seymour killed himself and was replaced by R W Buss for the third number; the format was changed to feature two illustrations and 32 pages of text per issue. Buss didn't work out as an illustrator and was replaced by H K 'Phiz' Browne for the fourth issue; Phiz continued to work for Dickens for 23 years he last illustrated A Tale of Two Cities in As a testament to the book's popularity, many other artists, beyond the three official illustrators, created drawings without the approval of the author or publisher, sometimes for bootleg copies or hoping that 'Extra Plates' for the original issue would be included in later issues.
In Joseph Grego collected Pickwick Paper illustrations, including portraits based on stage adaptations, with other notes and commentary in Pictorial Pickwickiania. In the three-volume anthology titled The Pic-Nic Papers  was published, composed of miscellaneous pieces by various authors. It was originated by Dickens to benefit the widow and children of year-old publisher John Macrone , who died suddenly in Dickens had begun soliciting submissions in , and he eventually contributed the "Introduction" and one short story "The Lamplighter's Story".
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Macrone's widow eventually received pounds from this charitable publication. Mary Weller, Charles Dickens's nurse, recalling her famous charge's occupations as a child, said: "Little Charles was a terrible boy to read". The popularity of The Pickwick Papers spawned many imitations and sequels in print as well as actual clubs and societies inspired by the club in the novel.
One example is the still in operation Pickwick Bicycle Club in London, which was established in , the same year as Charles Dickens' death. Dickens approved of the use of the name and the celebration of the characters and spirit of the novel. He wrote:. Other known clubs include one meeting as early as December in the East of London and another meeting at the Sun Tavern in Long-acre in London. Dickens wrote to the secretary of the latter club in about attending a meeting:. In many Pickwick Clubs, members can take on the names of the characters in the novel. The website for the Pickwick Bicycle Club states "Our rules state that 'Each Member shall adopt the sobriquet allocated by the Management Committee, being the name of some male character in the Pickwick Papers, and be addressed as such at all meetings of the Club'.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the first novel by Charles Dickens. For other uses, see The Pickwick Papers disambiguation. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
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