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writing books, and then altering them for those who buy out, I am done up-frappé en mort.
“Don't trust to bag * with your answer.”
That this extraordinary communication was no idle threat was proved by the fact that a respectable statuary, carrying on business in Piccadilly, who had refused to pay black-mail, brought an action for libel in the King's Bench on the įst of July against a man named Stockdale, publisher of the infamous production referred to, and recovered £300 damages. The same year Popple, the printer, brought his action against this fellow; but Mr. Justice Best directed him to be nonsuited, on the ground that he was not entitled to remuneration for printing a work of such a character.
The Catholic Relief Bill, which was thrown out this year, is the subject of several of Robert's satires, bearing the titles of John Bull versus Pope Bull ; Defenders of the Faith ; The Hare Presumptuous, or a Catholic Game Trap; A Political Shaver, or the Crown in Danger. The Catholic Association, or Paddy Coming it too Strong, has reference to Mr. Goulburn's motion to suppress the Catholic Association of Ireland, which was carried by 278 to 123, and the third reading by a majority of 130. The language used by Mr. O'Connell on the occasion was so strong that an indictment was subsequently preferred against him, which, however, was thrown out by the grand jury. Matheworama for 1825 depicts that celebrated impersonator in thirteen of his characters. Duelling deserves particular mention by reason of the admirably designed landscape and figures. It represents one of the principals (who looks very far from comfortable) waiting, with his second and a doctor, the advent of the other parties. The Bubble Burst, or the Ghost of an old Act of Parliament, has reference to the speculation mania of 1825. Others of his satires for the year are labelled respectively, Frank and Free, or Clerical Characters in 1825; A Beau Clerk for a Banking Concern; The Flat Catcher and the Rat Catcher; and A Fair of Spectacles, or the London Stage in 1824-5, which, although unsigned
• Presumably post “bag.”
and bearing no initials, I have no hesitation in assigning to Robert Cruikshank.
I am unable to indicate the dates of the following : Football, very clever, and probably earlier than any of those already mentioned ; Waltzing, "dedicated with propriety to the lord chamberlain,” a very coarse and severe satire upon the immoralities of the Prince Regent. Besides those we have already mentioned, we have others with which the volume miscalled “Cruikshankiana” (so often republished) has made the general public probably more familiar, such as the Monstrosities of 1827; A Dandy Fainting, or an Exquisite in Fits; The Broom Sold (Lord Brougham); Household Troops (a skit on domestic servants); and A Tea-party, or English Manners and French Politeness, all of which may be dismissed with the remark that they are the worst specimens of Robert's work which could probably have been selected.
With the year 1825, our record of Isaac Robert Cruikshank's SCARCITY OF caricature work somewhat abruptly terminates. We cannot assert Robert's Satires. that after that date it wholly ceased, but, inasmuch as we have selected those we have named from a mass of some of the rarest pictorial satires published between the years 1800 and 1830, I think we are fairly justified in assuming that after this period his contributions to this branch of comic art became fewer. If this be the fact, it confirms the conclusion at which we have arrived, that at this time caricature had begun its somewhat hasty decline. Those I have named comprise over seventy examples; and their value, which is great on account of their scarcity, will be increased by the possibility that in the conception and execution of some of them the mind and hand of Robert might have been assisted by those of the more celebrated brother. “When my dear brother Robert,” says George in writing to the compiler of the famous catalogue of his own works, “when my dear brother Robert (who in his latter days omitted the Isaac) left off portrait painting, and took almost entirely to designing and etching, I assisted him at first to a great extent in some of his drawings on wood and his etchings.” If this be the case, it is at least possible that he lent the assistance of his cunning hand and
original fancy to the preparation of some of these contributions to pictorial satire. It appears to us, therefore, that a just idea of George's own work as an artist can scarcely be arrived at (especially his share of the famous “Life in London ”) until we have first considered the early work of himself and his brother Robert as graphic satirists and caricaturists. They were closely associated in artistic work during their early career; and it was not until both had given up social and political satire, and devoted themselves to the then comparatively new field of book illustration and etching on copper, that the superiority, originality, and genius of the younger brother became so manifest and incontrovertible.
ROBERT CRUIKSHANK (Continuea).
“ LIFE IN LONDON” AND OTHER BOOK WORK.
In perusing various articles on George Cruikshank in which reference is made to the “Life in London," we have been struck with the almost utter absence of Robert Cruikshank's name; further than this, it seems to have been the almost universal impression that it was his association with George on this memorable book which secured such reputation as Robert himself enjoyed. So far, however, was this from being the case, that not only was Robert, in 1821, a caricaturist and satirist of acknowledged reputation, but he was believed at this very time by the general public to be the cleverer artist of the two. Robert, indeed, has been treated with curious injustice in relation to this famous book, which owes its very existence (as we shall presently see) to him alone. While according to George (as in effect they do) the whole merit of the performance, many of the writers of the articles referred to acknowledge that they find it impossible to assign to him his share of the illustrations; and that difficulty will be largely increased to any one who has studied Robert Cruikshank's caricature work. The fact is that few of these famous plates will bear comparison with the best of Robert's pictorial satires; while the kindred book of the “English Spy,” which was illustrated (with the exception of one plate) by Robert alone, contains designs quite equal to those which adorn the “Life in London.” When it is admitted that Robert executed three parts of these illustrations, while those who have written upon him say that they are unable to identify
George's share of the work, * it seems unjust (to say the least of it) that the credit of the whole performance should be assigned to him alone. Let us be just to Robert, even though his merit as a draughtsman has been lost sight of in the fame which the younger brother achieved by virtue of his greater genius.
The reader need not be told—and we are not going to tell him “Life in LONDON."
what he knows already—that the “Life” was dramatized by four writers for different theatrical houses. The most successful version was the one produced at the Adelphi, previously known as the Sans Pareil theatre. The first season of this house, which Messrs Jones and Rodwell had recently purchased for £25,000, was only moderately successful ; but the fortune of the second was made by “Tom and Jerry.” Night after night immediately after the opening of the doors, the theatre was crowded to the very ceiling; the rush was tremendous. By three o'clock in the afternoon of every day the pavement of the Strand had become impassable, and the dense mass which cccupied it had extended by six o'clock far across the roadway. Peers and provincials, dukes and dustmen, all grades and classes of people swelled the tide which night after night rolled its wave up the passage of the Adelphi. It was a compact wedge; on it moved, slowly, laboriously, amid the shouts and shrieks, the justling and jostling of the crowd which composed it, leavened by the intermixture of numbers of the sweli mob, who plied their vocation with indefatigable industry and impunity. Nevertheless, the reader will be surprised to learn (and it is probably little known) that in spite of this amazing popularity, the first night of “Tom and Jerry" met with such unexpected opposition that Mr. Rodwell declared it should never be played again. Luckily for himself and his partner he was induced to reconsider this decision. The tide was taken at the flood, and it led—as the poet assures us that it will lead when so taken-to an assured fortune.
One night a stranger entered the private box of the Duke of York at the Adelphi, and seated himself immediately behind his Royal
* In this I cannot agree. George designed about a third of the plates, and those who know his workmanship thoroughly will not fail to identify it.