« 前へ次へ »
his coat, the turned-down collar, profile, and the arrangement of the hair, we take it that the person thus satirized is Lord Byron. Any doubts we may have on the subject seem removed by the words of the song he is supposed to be singing while waving his hat to the disconsolate woman on the shore :
“All my faults perchance thou knowest,
All my madness none can know."
And the concluding stanza :
“Fare thee well! thus disunited,
Torn from every nearer tie,
More than this I scarce can die"!!
The foregoing contains a list and description of some of George Cruikshank's graphic satires, many of which we have reason to believe will be entirely new to the great majority of our readers. They support the description given of him by Lockhart at the opening of our chapter : “ People consider him as a clever, sharp caricaturist, and nothing more-a free-handed, comical young fellow, who will do anything he is paid for, and who is quite content to dine off the proceeds of a ‘George IV.' to-day, and those of a “Hone,' or a Cobbett,' tomorrow.” It must be remembered that these represent but a branch of his work; and that while content to design a satire as elaborate and as admirable as any which owe their origin to the hand of Gillray, or to dash off a rough and carelessly executed caricature, he was equally ready to etch the work of an inferior artist, or even of an amateur; to execute a drawing on wood for a ballad, or for one of the numerous political hits of the day, whether on the loyal or the popular side mattered but little to him ; to do anything, in fact (to use the words of Lockhart), that "was suggested or thrown in his way.” It is barely possible that the very imperfect series we have given may astonish those who have hitherto regarded George Cruikshank only as an illustrator of books, and supposed that, with the exception of the woodcuts for Hone's various jeux d'esprits, and the rough work which appears in “The Satirist,” “The Scourge,” and publications of a similar character, he executed but few pictorial satires. A perfect set of impressions from his caricatures probably does not exist; if it did it would command a high price indeed. We have seen a set of about seventy plates advertised by one enterprising bookseller at the price of seventy pounds. The specimens we have cited (exclusive of two from “The Scourge") 128 in number, were published between the years 1808 and 1825, by G. and H. Humphrey, S. Fairburn, Thomas Tegg, Ackermann, M. Joncs, J. Fairburn, J. Dolby, W. Hone, S. W. Fores, A. Bengo, J. Sidebotham, S. Knight, and J. Johnstone. If to the foregoing we add the plates in “Cruikshankiana "—twenty-six in number, thirty in “The Scourge,” six in “ Fashion,” nine in “ The Satirist," and eight in the "Loyalists' Magazine," we get seventy-nine more, making a sum total of over two hundred in all. How many more have escaped notice—how many have disappeared for ever from public notice without a chance of recovery or revival—it would be, perhaps, impossible to say; for even George himself was sometimes at fault, when the long-forgotten work of his early years was presented to him for recognition or acknowledgment.
GEORGE CRUIKSHANK AT HIS PRINE.
Those who have studied the work of George Cruikshank from its commencement to its close (and those only can be said to have done so who are familiar with the satires described in the previous chapter), cannot fail to be struck with the alterations which took place in his style at different periods of the career we have already been considering. George Cruikshank's peculiar style and manner, which enable us to recognise his work at a glance, was the outcome of a very slow and gradual process of development. In the first instance he closely copied Gillray, but soon acquired a manner of his own, blending the two styles after a fashion which is both interesting and amusing to follow. Soon, however, the style of the master was discontinued, and gradually the artist began to discover that the bent of his genius lay in altogether another direction. Unlike Thomas Rowlandson, the moment Cruikshank became an illustrator of books, he realized the fact that the style adapted to graphic satire was unsuitable for the purposes of this branch of art, and thenceforth he adopted a style differing from anything which had gone before. The revolution thus accomplished (a singular proof of the genius of the man) was effected without effort, and is strikingly manifest in an early book illustration representing the execution of Madame Tiquet and her accomplice, in 1699. The design to which we refer, which we believe is rare and little known, was engraved by H. R. Cook, from a design by the artist for the frontispiece to a collection of narratives by Cecil, “printed for Hone,” in 1819, and stands by virtue of its force and character apart from most of the book illustrations of the period. From the
moment that the new style was adopted, the artist's services were brought into requisition for the purposes of book illustration; and from the time work of this kind began to come in, he relaxed and afterwards discontinued the practice of caricature. It is as an etcher and designer of book illustrations we shall henceforth have to consider him, and in this character one of his famous illustrations to “Greenwich Hospital” will be found superior to the whole series of Rowlandson's careless overdrawn designs to the three “ Tours” of Syntax put together.
This alteration in the man's style after he took to book illustration is known only to those familiar with his early caricatures. If you take, for instance, the etching of St. Swithin's Chapel, of the “Sketch Book," or The Gin Shop in the “Scraps and Sketches "* (we are speaking of course of the early coloured impressions), and show them together with any two of the caricatures we have named to a person who had never before seen either, we will venture to say that he would pronounce them without hesitation to be executed by
entirely different hands. GEORGE'S IDEAS OF After Lockhart's statement that George Cruikshank was capable
of designing an Annunciation, a Beatification, or an Apotheosis, we must accept his assertion that he “understood the [human) figure completely ” with a certain amount of reservation. Perhaps he did ; and if he did, he certainly played some extraordinary tricks with the "figure” aforesaid. The truth is, that we forget the artist's weaknesses, many and glaring as they are, in the lustre of his unexampled genius.
The Times, in an otherwise laudatory article which it published after his death, remarked that “there was not a single beautiful face or figure probably in the whole range of Cruikshank's work.” Now, although this is not entirely true, there is at least so much of truth in it that we may admit that the cases in which he has produced a pretty face or figure are very few and far between, and even those cases seem rather to have been the result of accident than of design.
* The “Sketch Book” and “Scraps and Sketches” have recently been republished ; but the impressions from the sadly worn plates give but little idea of the exquisite originals,
There is no getting over the fact that George's ideas of female beauty were, to say the least of them, peculiar: his women are fearfully and wonderfully made; they are horse-faced; their eyebrows are black and strongly marked ; their hair is plastered to the sides of their faces, and meet bobs of hair at the back of their heads; their waists are as thin as their necks; and they all bear a strong family likeness to one another. The Times assertion is happily, however, so broad that it is easy 10 traverse and contradict it. George's handsome women are so few, that it is difficult at the moment to say where any of them may be found. I know at least of one amazingly handsome one—the London Barrow Woman in Hone's “Every-Day Book.” Some pretty servant girls will be found in the etching of The Sergeant Introducing his Dutch IVife to his Friends in “St. James's, or the Court of Queen Anne,” and I will undertake to point out at least half a dozen pretty faces in the course of illustrations to “ The Miser's Daughter”; but after all, these are only exceptions to the general rule; and it may be safely conceded that as a delineator of female beauty, George could not hold a candle to John Leech, to John Tenniel, or even to his own brother, Isaac Robert.
As for the celebrated Cruikshankian steed, I give him up at once as an utterly irreclaimable and unmanageable brute.
Thackeray, writing in 1840, said, that "though our artist does not draw horses very scientifically, to use the phrase of the atelier; he feels them very keenly, and his queer animals, after one is used to them, answer quite as well as better.” Even on this subject, however, the ablest critics have contradicted each other. George Augustus Sala tells us that the artist “could draw the ordinary nag of real life well enough," and cites by way of example the very horses of the celebrated Deaf Postilion, in “Three Courses and a Dessert,” which Thackeray had previously held up to well-merited execration. He goes on to tell us that when George "essayed to portray a charger or a hunter, or a lady's hack, or even a pair of carriage horses, the result was the most grotesque of failures. The noble animal has, I apprehend, forty-four "points, technically