An episode in Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens: a crowd gathers around Mr Mantalini who has attempted to poison himself. Etching after Phiz (Hablot K. Browne).

  • Browne, Hablot Knight, 1815-1882.
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"Guided by the noise of a great many voices all talking together, and passing the girl in his impatience before they had ascended many steps, Ralph quickly reached the private sitting room, when he was rather amazed by the confused and inexplicable scene in which he suddenly found himself. There were all the young lady-workers, some with bonnets and some without, in various attitudes expressive of alarm and consternation; some gathered round Madame Mantalini, who was in tears upon one chair; and others round Miss Knag, who was in opposition tears upon another; and others round Mr. Mantalini, who was perhaps the most striking figure in the whole group, for Mr. Mantalini's legs were extended at full length upon the floor, and his head and shoulders were supported by a very tall footman, who didn't seem to know what to do with them, and Mr. Mantalini's eyes were closed, and his face was pale, and his hair was comparatively straight, and his whiskers and moustache were limp, and his teeth were clenched, and he had a little bottle in his right hand, and a little teaspoon in his left, and his hands, arms, legs, and shoulders, were all stiff and powerless. And yet Madame Mantalini was not weeping upon the body, but was scolding violently upon her chair; and all this amidst a clamour of tongues, perfectly deafening, and which really appeared to have driven the unfortunate footman to the utmost verge of distraction."-Dickens, loc. cit.


[London] : [publisher not identified], [1839]

Physical description

1 print : etching


M. Mantalini poisons himself for the seventh time. Phiz

References note

Philip V. Allingham. The Victorian web, ("Phiz and Boz continue to enjoy describing the domestic chaos of the Mantalinis, in particular, the emotional volatility of the dress-maker's handsome, spendthrift Italian husband, a characterization of the emotional makeup of Italians common enough in the England of the 1830s and 1840s, as were the artistic sensibilities of that nationality, suggested by the picture of the ballerina on the wall (right).")


Wellcome Collection 43002i



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