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THE PRINCE OF WALES, WITH FOX, SHERIDAN, AND HIS WHIG ASSOCIATES, TRYING
IN VAIN TO BLOW OUT POOR OLD GEORGE.
The author desires to express his sense of obligation to the several publishers who have courteously granted him permission to reproduce drawings, the copyrights of which are vested in themselves; and at the same time to state his regret that other publishers, similarly situated with respect to other works, have not seen their way to render it possible for him to supply specimens of the style of certain artists, two of whom in particular, John Leech and H. K. Browne, must needs be conspicuous by their comparative absence.
Such Caricatures and Book Illustrations as have seemed specially desirable- of which the copyrights have lapsed and no editions are at the present day in print-bave been engraved for this work by MR. WILLIAM CHESHIRE,
OF THE ENGLISH CARICATURE AND ITS DECAY.
If you turn to the word “caricatura" in your Italian dictionary, it is just possible that you will be gratified by learning that it means “caricature"; but if you refer to the same word in old Dr. Johnson, he will tell you, with the plain, practical common-sense which distinguished him, that it signifies “an exaggerated resemblance in drawings,” and this expresses exactly what it does mean. Any distinguishing feature or peculiarity, whether in face, figure, or dress, is exaggerated, and yet the likeness is preserved. A straight nose is presented unnaturally straight, a short nose unnaturally depressed; a prominent forehead is drawn unusually bulbous; a protuberant jaw unnaturally underhung; a fat man is depicted preternaturally fat, and a thin one correspondingly lean. This at least was the idea of caricature during the last century. Old Francis Grose, who, in 1791, wrote certain “Rules for Drawing Caricaturas,” gives us the following explanation of their origin :-“The sculptors of ancient Greece," he tells us, “seem to have diligently observed the form and proportions constituting the European ideas of beauty, and upon them to have formed their statues. These measures are to be met with in many drawing books; a slight deviation from them by the predominancy of any feature constitutes what is called character, and serves to discriminate the owner thereof and to fix the idea of identity. This deviation or peculiarity aggravated, forms caricatura."
As a matter of fact, the strict definition of the word given by Francis Grose and Dr. Johnson is no longer applicable; the word caricature includes, and has for a very long time been understood to include, within its meaning any pictorial or graphic satire, political or otherwise, and whether the drawing be exaggerated or not: it is in this sense that Mr. Wright makes use of it in his “Caricature History of the Georges," and it is in this sense that we shall use it
for the purposes of this present book. CHANGE IN THE Since the commencement of the present century, and more Spirir of ENGLISH CARICATURE.
especially during the last fifty years, a change has come over the spirit of English caricature. The fact is due to a variety of causes, amongst which must be reckoned the revolution in dress and manners; the extinction of the three-bottle men and topers; the change of thought, manners, and habits consequent on the introduction of steam, railways, and the electric telegraph. The casual observer meeting, as he sometimes will, with a portfolio of etchings representing the men with red and bloated features, elephantine limbs, and huge paunches, who figure in the caricatures of the last and the early part of the present century, may well be excused if he doubt whether such figures of fun ever had an actual existence. Our answer is that they not only existed, but were very far from uncommon. Our great-grandfathers of 1800 were jolly good fellows; washing down their beef-steaks with copious draughts of “ York or Burton ale," or the porter for which Trenton, of Whitechapel, appears to have been famed,* fortifying themselves afterwards with deeper draughts of generous wines-rich port, Madeira, claret, dashed with hermitage-they set up before they were old men
• "Nor London singly can his porter boast,
Alike 'tis famed on every foreign coast ;
-- The Art of Living in London (6th edition 1805).