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Sketches." He says that he ascended a long flight of stairs to an upper story, and was ushered into an uncarpeted, bleak-looking room, with a deal table, two or three chairs, and a few books, a small boy and Mr. Dickens for the contents. He seems to have been particularly struck by the obsequiousness of Dickens toward his employer, whose visit had apparently quite overpowered him and proceeds to describe the personal appearance of the author of Pickwick." According to his version, the young writer very much resembled his own portrayal of Dick Swiveller, I minus the swell look, for, with closecropped hair, scant clothes, and a ragged office coat which was exchanged for a shabby blue one, he stood by the door, collarless and buttoned up, the very personification of a close sailer to the wind." We accept these details with considerable caution, for, relying upon statements emanating from more authentic sources, we learn that Dickens, at the time referred to, was in receipt of a handsome salary for his duties as a reporter on the staff of the "Morning Chronicle," and always dressed himself in a showy and expensive style.
One of the most astounding facts in connection with "Pickwick" is the extreme juvenility of its author when it was written. He says that he was a young man of two or three-and-twenty, when Messrs. Chapman and Hall, then newly started in business, waited upon him with a proposition that something should be published monthly in shilling numbers, and that the "monthly something" should be a vehicle for certain plates to be executed by an artist named Seymour, whose humorous delineation of Cockney sporting life had become famous. The idea propounded to Dickens was, that a 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 Seymour's designs. But Dickens preferred that the plates should arise naturally out of the text, thus giving him a freer range of English scenes and people. "My views," said he, said he, being deferred to, I thought of Mr. Pickwick, and wrote the first number, from the proof sheets of which Mr. Sey
Each number was issued in a green wrapper, having an appropriate design by Seymour, representing scenes of fishing, shooting, and groups of sporting implements. The first part contained twenty-four pages of text and four illustrations, an arrangement which did not entirely commend itself to those engaged in its production. Before the question of alteration could be discussed, a melancholy event happened-the death of Seymour by his own hand. With the second number an Address to the public was issued, in which this sad fact was announced; an apology was offered for the appearance of that number with only three plates, and a promise made that the succeeding numbers should be presented on an improved plan. This promise was accordingly fulfilled, for the quantity of letterpress was increased to thirty-two pages, and the number of plates diminished to two, in every monthly part.
The publishers, who experienced much difficulty in finding a suitable successor to Seymour, succeeded in engaging the services of Mr. R. W. Buss, who, as events quickly proved, was unable to cope with the technicalities of the art of etching, and this resulted in the failure and prompt cancelling of the two plates produced by him when only a few copies had been circulated. This incompetency on the part of Buss created a
fresh vacancy for an illustrator, and it is interesting to learn that an application for the post was made by Thackeray, who, if successful, thought it would prove an admirable opportunity for following his favorite pursuit. Fortunately for him and for the world he failed to procure the position he so ardently desired, otherwise it is more than probable that Vanity Fair" would have been lost to us, and "Esmond" never have been written; his failure as an artist luckily determined him to adopt literature as a profession. The other and successful competitor was Hablôt K. Browne, whose soubriquet of " Phiz" is "Phiz'' is familiar to all readers of Dickens, Ainsworth, and Lever; and it is recorded that when he was selected as the illustrator of the Pickwick Papers," his generous rival was the first to tell him the good news, and to offer his congratulations.
"Phiz's' instinctive grasp of the thought and style of his famous colleague proved invaluable, and from the "Pickwick" days until nearly the end of the series of Dickens's novels he continued to thoroughly identify himself with those inimitable creations. It is indeed greatly due to the artist that the characters and scenes therein are so firmly grafted on our memories. As Seymour was the originator, in a pictorial sense, of the ever-popular Mr. Pickwick, so was "Phiz the designer of the immortal Sam Weller. The illustration in which Sam is first represented, in the act of cleaning boots, was the result of " Phiz's'' initial effort, although three other designs which he subsequently etched appear prior to this.
The publishers of Pickwick' sent out, on sale or return," fifteen hundred copies of each of the first five numbers to all parts of the provinces, but the only result was an average sale of fifty copies of each number! The publication was practically a failure, and it was seriously debated whether it should be discontinued or not. In the fourth number Sam Weller had appeared on the scene, and fortunately at this juncture, attracted great attention, calling forth great admiration by the freshness and originality of the conception. Sam was received with acclamation by all, and rose to an unheard-of popularity.
The sale of the ensuing numbers suddenly increased, and at the completion of the work it had attained to forty thousand copies ! Messrs. Chapman and Hall were naturally very much gratified by this improved state of affairs, for Pickwick' was saved from ruin; and when the twelfth number was reached they sent the author a check for £500, as a practical expression of their gratification. During the publication of the work Dickens received, from the same source, several checks, amounting to £3000, in addition to the fifteen guineas per number which it was agreed should be paid him. It was understood at the time that Messrs. Chapman and Hall made a clear profit of nearly £20,000 by the sale of the " Pickwick Papers, after paying author's expenses.
Sam Weller was obviously the turning point in Dickens's fortune, and probably such extraordinary success strengthened the author's determination to live by his pen, a course which has been more than justified. His prospects having considerably improved, he married, and removed from Furnival's Inn to more congenial quarters in Doughty Street, from whence is dated the dedication of "Pickwick" to his friend Mr. Sergeant Talfourd, M. P.
The course of Pickwick" did not run smoothly, for, as we have already stated, there was, in the beginning of its career, a panic caused by the suicide of Seymour, followed by the failure of Buss as an illustrator, and, lastly, the apparent probability of the failure of the work itself, a result most happily averted.
Before many more numbers had been issued Dickens was greatly affected by the terribly sudden death of his sisterin-law, to whom he was most tenderly attached. He was so much prostrated by this domestic affliction that for two months he was unable to continue the work, which was necessarily suspended during that time. In consequence of false rumors having reached him respecting the reason of this enforced delay, he issued an address in the fifteenth number, which he considered was rendered necessary by various idle speculations and absurdities" that had been propagated. 'By one set of intimate acquaintances, especially well informed, he has been killed outright; by an
other, driven mad; by a third, imprisoned for debt; by a fourth, sent per steamer to the United States; by a fifth, rendered incapable of any mental exertion forevermore-by all, in short, represented as doing anything but seeking in a few weeks' retirement the restoration of that cheerfulness and peace of mind which a sad bereavement had temporarily deprived him.
The twentieth and last number of "Pickwick" was published in November, 1837. The months during which these twenty numbers were issued were eventful ones in Dickens's life. They saw the rise of his fame and fortune, his marriage, the birth of his first child (the present Charles Dickens, who recently edited a Jubilee Edition of the "Pickwick Papers'), and his first great grief; and they left famous the young man who previously was almost unknown.
A few words must be said about the illustrations. Seymour completed only seven plates, four of which appeared in the first number, and three in the second. Buss succeeded him with two plates, entitled respectively The Cricket Match and The Fat Boy Awakes, which, as has been related, were suppressed immediately after publication. They have been severely criticised on account of poverty of execution; but the artist was not altogether at fault, for he worked under great and unforeseen difficulties, being quite unfamiliar with the technique of the etching process. The artist's son, in explaining the circumstances connected with Buss's engagement, states that a member of the firm of Chapman and Hall pressed him very much to undertake the work, and promised him consideration for want of practice. After much persuasion he consented to put aside the picture he was preparing for exhibition, and began to experiment with various operations of etching and biting in," producing a plate with which the publishers expressed themselves satisfied. The two subjects named above having been selected, Buss ventured to draw them upon the plate, but, owing to his inexperience, the etching ground was not properly prepared, and broke up under the needle point. Time was precious, and, nervously afraid of disappointing the publishers and the public, the plates were put into
the hands of an experienced engraver to be etched. be etched. Buss therefore is responsible only for the designs, as not a line of them was etched by him, and consequently the touch of the original work was wanting. No opportunity was given him of issuing fresh plates of his own production, for he promptly received an intimation that the work of illustrating the "Pickwick Papers" had been placed in other hands. It is interesting to learn that the price paid for each plate was fifteen shillings.
"Phiz" was also unaccustomed to the precarious process of biting in" the plates. When they had reached that stage he handed them over to Mr. Robert Young, who, in earlier days, was a fellow-pupil with him at Finden's, the engraver, and who readily undertook that portion of the work, both on that occasion and for the subsequent writings by the same pen. The first two plates, out of the total number of thirtyfour produced by "Phiz," were indistinctly signed "Nemo." Nemo." Other artists have availed themselves of the opportunity afforded them by the various characters and scenes described in "Pickwick" by designing additional plates and woodcuts, for sale in a separate form. Among these extra illustrations" may be named those executed by Crowquill," Onwhyn, Heath, Sir John Gilbert, R.A., Sibson, and "Phiz" himself, most of which are very rare and eagerly sought after by the collector.
The latest set of new plates were recently designed by F. W. Pailthorpe, a certain number being colored by hand.
An attempt is frequently made to trace the originals of the characters in any great work of fiction. So far as Pickwick" is concerned, we learn that Seymour (whose first conception of the founder of the club was that of a long thin man) availed himself of a description given by Mr. Chapman of a friend of his named John Forster, afterward Dickens's friend and biographer, and represented as a fat old beau who would wear, in spite of the ladies' protests, drab tights and black gaiters, and who lived at Richmond. This is Mr. Pickwick as we know him. The origin of his name may be traced to that of a Bath coachman, for it is recorded
that Dickens rushed into the publisher's office one day exclaiming "I've got it. Moses Pickwick, Bath, Coach-master." He had seen that name painted on the door of a stage-coach which had just passed along the street. In the story,
Samuel was substituted for Moses. It has been suggested that Mr. Pickwick took his name from an English village of that name; but the former theory is undoubtedly correct, and receives corroboration in the form of an obituary notice published in a provincial newspaper in 1838, announcing the decease, at Bath, "of Mr. Eleazer Pickwick, the well-known West of England Coach Proprietor," a contemporary, if not a a contemporary, if not a relative, of the Moses Pickwick mentioned above.
Some writers affirm that Sam Weller's living prototype was a character named Simon Spatterdash (in Samuel Beazley's play, called The Boarding House"),
a local militiaman, whose chief peculiarity lay in his quaint sayings and out-of-the-way comparisons." The part was taken by a low comedian named Samuel Vale; and it is argued that Weller" is a form of Veller," and the latter a comparative form of Vale. Weller is not an uncommon name, and it is more than probable that Dickens borrowed it from his nurse, whose maiden name was Weller. That lady, who afterward married a Mr. Gibson, Mr. Gibson, a shipwright in Chatham Dockyard, is, we believe, still living. The Granby Head in High Street, Chatham, was kept at one time by a Thomas Weller, and the transitions from Tommy Weller to Tony Weller (Sam's respected parent), and Granby Head to Marquis of Granby, are not very violent ones, and incline us to the belief that the real origin of the inn and its master must be looked for at Chatham. Mrs. Lynn Linton, who once lived at Gad's-hill Place, says that old Mr. Weller was a real person, and we know him. He was "Old Chumley' in the flesh, and drove the stage daily from Rochester to London and back again the good-natured, red-faced old fellow." Tony, as in the case of other characters portrayed by the great novelist, is probably the representative of a type rather than of an individual.
We are enabled to throw some light,
for the first time, on the origin of some of the minor characters in "Pickwick." During the interval (1827-28) spent by Dickens as a clerk in the office of Messrs. Ellis and Blackmore, lawyers, of Gray's Inn, he availed himself of such a favorable opportunity of observing the distinctive peculiarities of lawyers, their clerks and clients. Unmistakable portraits of many with whom he thus came in contact may be discovered in the pages of "Pickwick." Mr. Blackmore, the junior partner of the firm, believed that the character of Perker was intended for his colleague Mr. Ellis, for he certainly possessed some of Perker's peculiarities, especially that of being an inveterate snuff-taker. One of Dickens's fellowclerks at that time, who is now carrying on a legal practice in the provinces, has no doubt that he is the articled clerk described in the 30th chapter, and that Dickens himself is the office lad in his first surtout. Another colleague, named Potter, was the salaried clerk, and had previously figured in one of the Sketches by Boz," entitled "Making a night of it.'
Some years after the publication of "Pickwick" in its entirety Charles Dickens was subjected to great annoyance by an absurd claim, made by the widow of Seymour, that the work was originated by that artist. She even ventured to publish a pamphlet, in which she endeavored to show the fallacy of Dickens's statements respecting his share of the undertaking, asserting that " Mr. Dickens edited a work called the ' Pickwick Papers,' which was originated solely by my husband in the summer of 1835, 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.' Many years after, Seymour's son revived the calumny, when Dickens at once wrote a crushing reply to the " Athenæum, emphatically denying the truth of the imputation, and, in a letter to his eldest son a few days later, he said that he had never so much as seen Seymour but
once in his life, and that was some eightand-twenty hours before the artist's death. The accuracy of this was confirmed by his wife and his brother Frederick, who were present at that short interview with Seymour.
It was not of Pickwick, but of Oliver Twist, that George Cruikshank used to claim the origin. He used to get very angry on this point, and wrote letters to the newspapers about it.
The enthusiastic fervor with which "Pickwick" was received could not be ignored. Tradesmen on the look-out for novelties took the hint, and presently Pickwick chintzes figured in linendrapers' windows, Weller corduroys in breeches-makers' advertisements, and the Pickwick cigar-known to this day as the Penny Pickwick-was introduced, as a compliment to our author, by a London tobacco manufacturer. Then there were Pickwick clubs (of the convivial sort), Pickwick hats, Pickwick canes, with tassels, and Pickwick coats of peculiar cut and color. Boz cabs rattled through the streets, and even now may be purchased both Pickwick cigar-lights and Pickwick pens. popularity is indicated in other ways, for there are at least nine plays founded on Pickwick," and the song of the Ivy Green is the subject of five different musical adaptations. The book and its author were however subjected to a less pleasing form of popularity, for certain "gutter-blood hacks" availed themselves of such prosperity by issuing numerous works pirating and plagiarizing Dickens's masterpiece. No less than fourteen of these productions were published, relating, in a greater or less degree, to "Pickwick," and they included "The Posthumous Papers of the Cadgers' Club, "The Posthumous Papers of the Wonderful Discovery Club," "The Posthumous Notes of the Pickwickian Club," Pickwick in America," and " Pickwick Abroad; or, the Tour in France." The author of the last-named work is G. W. M. Reynolds, who there professed to record the further adventures and subsequent marriage of the hero. Dickens naturally resented such audacity, and finally succeeded in checkmating the publishers.
Pickwick," at the outset, met with the same fate as that which attends the
publication of almost every work, namely, adverse criticism. It is amusing to read, in these days, the various predictions as to its fate and that of our author. A "Quarterly'' reviewer availed himself of Tom Paine's familiar prophecy, that the writer had risen like a rocket and would come down like the stick; many other critics wrote disparagingly of the work, and some would not acknowledge or recognize the humor of Sam Weller. A leading American journalist, Mr. Richard Grant White, has described Mr. Pickwick's bodyservant as a monster, as monstrous as those human forms with wings that we call angels, or those horses with long spiral horns growing from their foreheads that we call unicorns.' Another Transatlantic critic inquires, "What man, capable of refinement, would choose to be a buffoon?" and suspects such a man as he who calls himself by such 'a mountebank designation as Boz' to be some clown of a circus or bear-garden, escaped from his employer. What right,' he asks, has he that we should suppose him anything better than a Jack-Pudding of a drunken club?'' When the ninth number had appeared, the Athenæum" informed its readers that the "Pickwick Papers'' were made up of two pounds of Smollett, three ounces of Sterne, a handful of Hook, a dash of a grammatical Pierce Egan,-incidents at pleasure. served with original sauce piquante." A reviewer in Fraser's Magazine" called Mr. Pickwick an idiotic lump of bland blockheadism," and " principal jackass in a club of jackasses. A writer in the "Dublin Review" had a serious quarrel with the "Pickwick Papers," condemning it as being "not only thoroughly vulgar, but grovelling," and complaining of its pothouse flavor. We hold it," continues this critic,," a public misfortune that a book in which a habit admitted by public opinion to be vile and demoralizing, and which is likewise a deadly sin, is treated jocularly, as, good fun, and without a hint of its danger and disgrace, should be so widely popular as the Pickwick Papers.' It seems that some of our author's acquaintances joined in this outcry, for he afterward wrote, My friends told me it was a