« 前へ次へ »
DOYLE'S UNSELFISH CHARACTER.
for any but a man of Doyle's noble and lofty character.” His biographer points out the fact that all this while he had to look to his pencil for bread, and denies the statement, made by one of the leading newspapers at the time of his death, that during the latter part of his life he was independent of his profession.
In one set of illustrations, now very scarce and little known, Doyle has shown that he posses-ed eminent powers as a caricaturist. We have a set of lithographs before us, entitled, “Rejected Cartoons,” a sort of pictorial “Rejected Addresses,” supposed to be intended for the then new Houses of Parliament, some of them caricatures of the works of living artists - Maclise, Pugin, etc., whose styles are closely imitated and most amusingly burlesqued. Some of them are irresistibly droll, such as King Alfred sending the Danes into a Profound Slumber with the Sleepy Notes of his Harp; “ Canute reproving the Flattery of his Courtiers ;” The Faces of King John and his Barons at the signing of Magna Charta ; Perkin Warbeck in the Stocks; The Meeting of Francis and Harry in the field of the Cloth of Gold, etc. Few people with whom the touch of Richard Doyle is perfectly familiar would recognise his hand in these amazing and amusing cartoons. We met with them at a bookstall twenty years ago, unconscious until lately that they were due to his pencil.
The once celebrated “Adventures of Brown, Jones, and Robinson " would alone secure for this artist an eminent position amongst the number of English comic designers. Graphically relating the ex. periences of the most ordinary class of continental tourists, they cannot fail to bring to the recollection even of the most commonplace traveller some of the experiences which may have actually happened to himself. Doyle of course enlarges on these experiences as his fancy and imagination suggest; but after all, there is little which might not have actually befallen any ordinary English travellers such as this unlucky trio. The episode of "Jones's Portmanteau undergoing the ordeal of Search” at Cologne; The scene at the “Speise-Saal” Hotel; The Jewish “Quarter of the City of Frankfort, and what they saw there”; The Gambling Scene at
Baden : The Descent of the St. Gothard; The Academia at Venice; will appeal to the actual experiences of nearly every continental tourist; and notwithstanding its extravagant drollery, little Browne's adventure at Verona is sufficiently possible to remind one of personal vicissitudes encountered off the track or on the frontiers, which might almost match the experiences of this personally uninteresting little sketcher.
Besides Punch, Mr. Doyle's hand will be found in the following “The Fairy Ring,” Leigh Hunt's “ Jar of Honey," Professor Ruskin's “King of the Golden River,” Montalba's “Fairy Tales from all Nations,” “Jack and the Giants,” “The Cornhill Magazine," “Pictures from the Elf World,” “ The Bon Gaultier Ballads," Thackeray's “Rebecca and Rowena," Charles Dickens's “ Battle of Life,” “The Family Joe Miller," Mr. Tom Hughes' “Scouring of the White Horse,” “Pictures of Extra Articles and Visitors to the Exhibition,” Laurence Oliphant's “Piccadilly," "Puck on Pegasus," Planche's “Old Fairy Tales,” À Beckett's “ Almanack of the Month," “London Society," and Mr. Thackeray's “Newcomes." Writing of this last, Mr. Hamerton says, “I never regretted the hard necessity which forbids an art critic to shut his eyes to artistic shortcomings more heartily than I do now in speaking of Richard Doyle. Considered as commentaries on human character, his etchings are so full of wit and intelligence, so bright with playful satire and manly relish of life, that I scarcely know how to write sentences with a touch at once light enough and keen enough to describe them”;* and then the critic goes on to expose the glaring faults which characterize Mr. Doyle's performances from a purely artistic point of view, his feeble attempts of light, his undeveloped “sense of the nature of material," and his absence of imitative study. It is somewhat singular that whilst Mr. Hamerton is silent on the subject of the book etchings of Leech and Phiz, he should have selected for criticism those of Doyle, who never intended to claim for these sketches the dignity of etchings. The critic, however,
• Ilamerton's " Etching and Etchers.".
Robinson (solo): "I stood in Venice" etc. Jones and Brown, having heard something like it before, have walked on a little way.
(Face P. 392.
is not only just, but remarkably fair. With reference to the illustrations to the “Newcomes,” he acknowledges "their all but inestimable dramatic value.” “Illustrations to imaginative literature," he continues, " are too frequently an intrusion and an impertinence, but these really added to our enjoyment of a great literary masterpiece, and Doyle's conception of the Colonel, of Honeyman, of Lady Kew, is accepted at once as authentic portraiture. In Ethel he was less happy, which was a misfortune, as she was the heroine of the book; but many of the minor characters were successes of the most striking and indisputable kind.” Further on, he says of Doyle's etching, A Student of the Old Masters, — “Colonel Newcome is sitting in the National Gallery, trying to see the merits of the old masters. Observe the enormous exaggeration of aërial perspective resorted to in order to detach the figure of the Colonel. The people behind him must be several miles away; the floor of the room, if judged by aërial perspective only, is as broad as the Lake of Lucerne.” The criticism, though exaggerated, is not unfair or unjust; but the people are certainly not miles away. Doyle has perpetuated a mistake common with many English artists, who seem to think, as Hazlitt expresses it, that, “if they only leave out the subordinate parts, they are sure of the general result.” Doyle's intention to give us a portrait of Colonel Newcome only has prompted him to treat the subordinates as almost non-existent. His work, however, was never intended to be faultless; it carries out his own intention most thoroughly and admirably, and in a manner very far superior to anything which Thackeray himself could have done.
The closing scenes in the life of this most amiable and unselfish of artists we give in the singularly graceful words of his Catholic biographer : "In the autumn of last year (1883), Mr. Doyle spent some time in North Devon, and while there painted a picture of Lynton churchyard. The view is taken at a distance of some ten or fifteen yards to the south-west of the church, and is looking in
• William Hazlitt on "The Fine Arts," p. 51.