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Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
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Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:48:00 -0700
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Friends of the Dickens Forum

     Stephen Jarvis <[log in to unmask]> writes on when 
*Jorrocks* was published and
defends his position on Seymour and 
*Pickwick*:                                   (pjm)

> I had not intended to post any more on the forum but Robert Tracy's statement about Surtees is factually incorrect.  Jorrocks was not published with illustrations until after Pickwick - it had appeared in unillustrated form in the New Sporting Magazine. Furthermore, there are significant differences between Jorrocks and the sportsmen in Pickwick - Seymour celebrates sporting incompetence, Jorrocks is a man who lacks the airs and graces of a gentlemen.
> Indeed, I have  found no examples at all of illustrated cockney sportsmen accompanied by prose until Pickwick appears on the scene.  There are a few Gillray cartoons - but not accompanied by prose - and there is a Cruikshank illustrated poem about cockney sportsmen but nothing like Pickwick at all. There was nothing tired and stale about the Pickwick proposal. It was an innovative fusion.
> I do indeed cover in full Surtees and Seymour in Death and Mr Pickwick.
> And I have no idea at all what Tracy means when he says "clearly Seymour was labouring under a private grief."
> Yours sincerely
> Stephen Jarvis
> Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2015 19:46:43 -0700
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Surtees, Popular Writer before *Pickwick Papers*
> To: [log in to unmask]
>      Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>            Robert Tracy <[log in to unmask]>
>        wishes us to remember the tone and subjects of Robert Surtees as
>        providing Seymour and Dickens a subject for their work.  Much has
>        been done by the editors of the Pilgrim letters and , notably, by
>        Kathleen Chittick (in *Dickens and the 1830s*) to trace ideas and
>        themes which mutatis mutandis were used by Dickens in his early
>        days.  Think of some of the writers: Pierce Egan, John Poole,
>        Oliver Goldsmith--the latter credited for suggesting certain
>        developments in the development of Pickwick--, who were much in
>        the air when Dickens began to write.   But here is Tracy on
>        Surtees:  (pm)
>        -------
>        Dear Colleagues: Dickens and Seymour must have been living like hermits, if
> either if them thought Seymour's idea for an illustrated series of episodes
> depicting the inexpert sporting adventures of a retired London business man
> was in any way new and original. R.W. Surtees had been publishing JORROCK'S
> JAUNTS AND JOLLITIES, illustrated by John Leech, in the SPORTING MAGAZINE
> since 1831. Not much fishing in  JORROCK'S adventures, but lots of riding
> to hounds. Surtees theme was "cits,"London grocers and business men,
> invading the hunting field and so joining the "swells" who considered
> hunting a gentleman's sport. Jorrock is shrewd, sometimes aggressive, but
> he often gets the better of the swell. The swells read Surtees because they
> enjoyed the occasional awkwardness of their inferiors and the excitement of
> Surtees's hunts; the "cits" read him because they like to see the cit win
> out. If anybody borrowed/stole any ideas, it was Seymour, not Dickens. But
> clearly Seymour was laboring under some private grief.
> Robert Tracy
> On Sun, Jun 14, 2015 at 8:11 PM, Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]
>          wrote:
>          Friends of the Dickens Forum,
>      The major focus of the present discussion is what is called "Dickens
> Bashing"  and also the extent accusations against him, for example on  the originality of his Mr.
> Pickwick, his treatment of Catherine after the failure of his marriage, and the Ellen Turner
> affair affect our larger sense of the man Dickens.  We seem now to be focusing on the Seymour-Pickwick matter.
>      Rob Lapides is not alone in thinking that whatever the precise extent
> of his debt to Robert Seymour (Walter Smith concurs) the issue "in no way lessons
> Dickens's amazing achievement in  *Pickwick Papers*" and does not "harm his reputation as a
> writer."
>      John Danza <[log in to unmask]> has researched the question of
> what went on in those months of 1836 when *Pickwick Papers* was a-borning. He says
> credit for thinking of the club and "hatch[ing] the project" belongs to Seymour, right
> enough;  Dickens ran with the idea. When Dickens claimed about a decade later in the preface to the Cheap
> Edition,, "I thought of Mr. Pickwick, and wrote the first number," he wrote a "famously
> tantalising sentence."  For surely Mr. Pickwick's birth was a complicated affair.
>      Yes, tantalising it is, Michael Slater, as you said in in your
> wonderfully detailed and accurate biography of Dickens. To read your entries on "Seymour, Robert" is to get as full an account as
> we have.   We add only (thanks to a reminder from Tony Pointon)  that in his last statement Seymour wrote that
> no one was to be blamed for his suicide but himself.
>      As a group, we do not want to get into a tit-for-tat dispute about the facts of the matter.   Interpretations
> are subtle  and it is easy to get caught up in varying interpretations.Dickens surely took over the enterprise,
> but what was his effect on Seymour?   His letter to the artist in these crucial months asking him to alter
> one of the illustrations can be read as innocuous or as a bumptious demand from a fledging writer to an
> established illustrator.   Tone, how the letter was intended to be read and how it was read, is crucial.
>      John Danza thinks the controversy could have been muted: "Dickens would not have been harmed in
> the least to give Seymour the credit for the idea [of Mr. Pickwick] since
> Dickens wrote all the words and Seymour was involved in the project for all of a couple of months."
>      As so, it would seem, the matter rests.
>   P. McCarthy
> Editor