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fancy was found for him in Scott's novel of “Red Gauntlet.” The episode selected for illustration is the frightful adventure of Hutcheon and Dougal MacCallum. “When midnight came, and the house was quiet as the grave, the silver whistle sounded as sharp and shrill as if Sir Robert was blowing it, and up got the two old servingmen and tottered into the room where the dead man lay. Hutcheon saw enough at the first glance; for there were torches in the room, which showed him the foul fiend in his ain shape, sitting on the laird's coffin ! Ower he couped, as if he had been dead. He could not tell how long he lay in a trance at the door; but when he gathered himself, he cried on his neighbour, and getting nae answer, raised the house, when Dougal was found lying dead within twa steps of the bed where his master's coffin was placed. As for the whistle, it was lost ance and aye, but mony a time it was heard at the top of the house on the bartizan and among the auld chimneys and turrets, where the howlets have their nests.” The coffin of the dead laird lies in state on a table covered with black cloth, richly ornamented with his armorial bearings ; at the foot of the bier stands his black plumed helmet; while atop of the coffin crouches the grinning ape with the laird's whistle in his paw; on the ground, as they have been tossed about by the mischievous beast, lie his rapier, gauntlet, and other military trappings. The furniture, the fittings, the sombre hangings, the gloomy ancestral portraits, all are in keeping with the weird scene and its surroundings. The Death of Sikes, and Fagin in the Condemned Cell (especially the latter) have been described any number of times, and the circumstances, moreover, under which the latter design was conceived, told invariably wrong. In the Murder of Sir Rowland Trenchard (“ Jack Sheppard"), we have a Rembrandtish etching, quite equalling in power and intensity that of Fagin in the Condemned Cell. The gloomy depths of the well hole are illumined only by the pine torch of the frightened Jew, as Wild hammers with his bludgeon on the fingers of the doomed wretch who, maimed and faint from loss of blood, clings with desperate tenacity to the bannister, from which his relaxing yrip will presently plunge him into the black abyss below.
The “ Tower of London ” introduces us to two scenes of a dismal and terrible character in the etching entitled Xit Wedded to the Scavenger's Daughter, the artist carries us to a gloomy torture chamber, dimly lighted by a solitary lantern. On the framework of the rack sits the dwarf Xit, his limbs compressed in the grip of tire frightful instrument called the “Scavenger's daughter,” while Simon Renard, scarcely able to repress a smile, interrogates the comical little figure at his leisure. Behind him stands Sorrocold, the surgeon; and in the farther corner Mauger (the headsman), Nightgall, and an assistant torturer, recline against the wall. The feeble rays of the lantern throw an obscure light upon the gloomy walls decorated with the stock in trade of the torturers, thumb-screws, gauntlets, collars, pinchers, saws, chains, and other horrible and suggestive implements. Affixed to the ceiling is a steel pulley, the rope which traverses it terminating with an iron hook and two leathern shoulder straps. Facing the gloomy door stands a brazier filled with blazing coals, in which a huge pair of pinchers are suggestively heating. Reared against the side of a deep dark recess is a ponderous wheel-broad as that of a wagon, and twice the circumference; and next it the iron bar with which the bones of those condemned to die by this most horrible torture were broken while alive. The etching of Mauger Sharpening his Axe is nearly as celebrated as that of Fagin in the Condemned Cell. “A wonderful weird dusk, with no light but that which glimmers on the bald scalp of the hideous headsman, who, feeling the edge of his axe with his thumb, grins with a devilish foretaste of his pleasure on the morrow. I need scarcely say that all the poetry, dramatic force, mystery, and terror of the design is attributable to Cruikshank, and not to Ainsworth.”* Scenes still more realistically terrible even than these, such as the Massacre at Tullabogue, The Rebel Camp on line gar Hill, and the Executions at Wexford Bridge, will be found in Maxwell's “History of the Irish Rebellion.”
Mr. Lockhart, we may remember, advised the artist in the early
• “British Artists from Hogarth to Turner."
part of his career to “think of Hogarth,” and throughout the whole of George Cruikshank's designs of the graver caste the influence of the study of Rembrandt and of Hogarth will be apparent to those acquainted with the characteristics of these great artists. In the case of Rembrandt it is manifest in the deep shadows, penetrated by broad but skilfully treated rays of light, throwing the salient parts of the design into prominent but pleasing relief; in the case of Hogarth it is shown in minute attention to details of a character singularly appropriate to the designs. Delineators of subjects of greater pretension are frequently content to throw all their sympathies, their energies, into the elaboration of their leading figure or figures: the attitude, the face, the features, the hands, the costume, leave nothing to be desired, while the rest of the composition is slurred or neglected. This is not the case with Cruikshank, every part of his work bears witness to his careful attention to detail ; no part of it is elaborated at the expense of the rest; from the tenants of the room down to the smallest and most insignificant ornament on the chimney-piece, everything appears as distinct as it would appear in actual every-day life.
But this study of Rembrandt and of Hogarth, this minute attention to detail, this careful and conscientious elaboration, would have done little for George Cruikshank if he had not possessed in an eminent degree that faculty of creation, otherwise of originality, which men call genius. Various descriptions of this gift have been attempted by eminent men, but the most felicitous seems to us to be that given by Robert William Elliston : "A true actor,” says this distinguished comedian, “must possess the power of creation, which is genius, as well as the faculty of imitation, which is only talent." Substitute the word "artist” for the word “actor,” and the remark will apply with equal felicity to the subject of our present chapter. It was this same gift of genius which, whilst it enabled the artist to lend a sentient expression to such unpromising subjects as a barrel, a wig-block, a jug of beer, a pair of bellows, or an oyster, imparted to his drawings a piquancy which has elevated these apparently insignificant designs into perfectly sterling works of art. The reader who is fortunate enough to number amongst his books the first halfdozen volumes of “Bentley's Miscellany” and “Ainsworth's Magazine,” “The Omnibus,” “The Table Book,” “The Comic Almanack,” possesses a series of designs, drawn and etched by the hand of the master himself, the value of which is yearly increasing, not only because they are becoming scarcer and scarcer every day, but because nothing like them—under the conditions in which book illustration is now produced—will ever be seen again.
GEORGE CRUIKSHANK (Continued).
THE SLEEP OF THIRTY YEARS.
The artistic career of George Cruikshank presents probably one of the most singular problems to be met with in the history of satirical art. It may be divided into three portions, two of which we have already considered: the first represents that section wherein we have seen him described by Lockhart as “one of the most careless creatures alive," having "no plan, almost no ambition,” doing “just what was suggested or thrown in his way,” “quite contented to dine off the proceeds of a 'George the Fourth’ to day, and those of a 'Hone' or a 'Cobbett to morrow!” the second may be said to be embraced between the years 1822 and 1848, during which period we find this man without plan, ambition, or industry (to complete the charge of Lockhart), busily engaged in building up the reputation which the critic had so confidently and so truly predicted of him ; the third and last section, the strangest surely of all, shows us this man of genius—in the full enjoyment of an assured and well-merited reputation, in the midst of his artistic vigour, at the height of a success altogether unexampled-deliberately throwing away his opportunities, and consigning himself to a slumber of thirty years, which might almost justify us in terming him the.“Rip Van Winkle” of British art. The causes of this strange decadence, this singular mental inactivity, which seem to us to have been hitherto very little or at best very imperfectly understood, we now propose to consider.
Professor Bates, one of the ablest of the essayists who have written Professor Bates on George Cruikshank since the time when. Thackeray penned his