« 前へ次へ »
fortunate in England compared with the religious freedom or tolerance enjoyed by Protestants in Catholic countries-in Italy for instance, or in Spain. As for “bigotry," let him look only at Catholic France during the reign of priestcraft there, where an actor of the position of Talma, writing with reference to a proposed monument to his English brother, John Kemble, could add by way of shameful contrast, " Je serai trop heureux ici si les pretres me laissent une tombe dans mon jardin !”
When we first completed this chapter, and while the artist was yet living, we deemed it better to say as little as possible in reference to the conscientious motives which induced him to throw up his lucrative position on Punch, and with it the whole of his splendid prospects in comic art; and this course we had decided to follow after Richard Doyle had been removed from us by death. As, however, the Catholic organ has entered fully into the subject, not only is every cause for further reticence removed, but by being placed in a position to understand causes and motives, we are enabled to do justice to the memory of this most generous and unselfish of men.
The Catholics have cause to feel satisfied with the results of what the benighted Protestants of England are apt to term the “Papal Aggression.” The conduct of the latter in relation to this portentous event is thus described by “The Month":-"In 1850 the Catholic Hierarchy was established in England, and the Protestant public raved and stormed and talked bigoted nonsense without end respecting this new invasion. Parliament passed the futile and obsolete Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and Punch took up the popular cry. Cardinal Wiseman was represented as 'tree'd' by the Papal bull, and comic verses and personal ridicule was lavished on the Pope, the new hierarchy, and Catholics generally.
“Doyle remonstrated, but received answer that, as he had been allowed to turn Exeter Hall and its doings into ridicule, it was only fair that his own opinions should have their turn. But those who used this argument little knew, and could scarcely be expected to know, the difference between the devotion of supernatural faith and
WHY RICHARD DOYLE LEFT' “ PUNCH."
the bigotry of a self-chosen creed. Doyle was anything but narrow or over-scrupulous. It was not any of the cartoons which was the immediate occasion of the step that he took, nor was it (as some of the notices of him have intimated) any mere personal attachment to Cardinal Wiseman. 'I don't mind,' he said, “as long as you keep to the political and personal side of the matter, but doctrines you must not attack.' Douglas Jerrold and Thackeray were not likely to appreciate this reversal of the general sentiment, which resents personal attack above all else. “Look at the Times,' they argued; its language has been most violent, but the Catholic writers on its staff do not for that reason resign. They understand, and the world at large understands, that the individual contributor is not responsible for the opinions expressed by other contributors in articles with which he has nothing to do.' "That is very well in the Times,' was Doyle's answer, but not in Punch. For the Times is a monarchy [we believe these were his very words), whereas Punch is a republic.' So, when a week or so later an article, attributed to Jerrold himself, jeeringly advised the Pope to 'feed his flock on the wafers of the Vatican,' it was too much for Doyle. Dignified protest was not sufficient now. To be any longer identified with a paper which could use such language was intolerable to the faithful soul. To ply his skilful fingers and busy inventive brain in behalf of those who scoffed at the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar was out of the question. His connection with Punch must cease. But is he bound in conscience to throw away a good income and congenial work, because there were expressed opinions different from his own in a paper in which, republic though it was, solidarity was scarcely possible? Who would expect that in a comic journal each and all of the contributors should agree with each and every sentiment expressed ? Never nind; whatever Richard Doyle might have been strictly bound to do, generosity at least urged him to make the sacrifice—the sacrifice of his career, of his future success it may be. At least he could show that Catholic belief was no empty superstition, no set of mere traditional observances, which sat lightly on the man of culture, even if in his heart he acceptcd them al all. So he wrote to resign his connection with Punch, stating the reasons plainly and simply. This was in 1850, after he had been contributing for more than six years. Now he must simply start afresh, in consequence of what his Protestant friends regarded as an ecciesiastical crotchet. He must turn aside from the path of worldly success; he must give up all for conscience' sake. But as the Daily Telegraph remarks, in an article respecting him that does it honour, 'He made a wise and prudent choice. The loss was ours, not his; and, apart from the claims of his genius to admiration, such conduct at the critical moment of a career will never cease to command respect.'”
Passing by (as we may afford to do) the assertion that we Protestants “raved and stormed and talked bigoted nonsense without end respecting this new invasion," and the somewhat unnecessary boast that Lord John Russell's Ecclesiastical Titles Bill has been suffered to become a “futile and obsolete ” measure, we would recognise the value of the writer's remarks as establishing in the clearest possible manner the perfect honesty and unselfishness of the motives which induced the artist to resign his connection with Punch, and to throw up the chances of an assured and brilliant future. We think however, that the value of his statement does not end here. We may here acknowledge that, while admitting the perfect purity and disinterestedness of Doyle's motives, we ourselves never thoroughly understood them until we had read the article from which we have quoted. We had taken into consideration the fact that when he took this decided step he was but twenty-five years of age, and we suspected (let us honestly own it) that other influences might have been at work independent of the artist himself, of which we as Protestants must always remain ignorant. There are grounds on which Protestant and Catholic writers may meet one another even in connection with religious questions; and although a “ bigoted” Protestant, I am glad to admit that the writer's clear and lucid statement has removed an impression that was absolutely without foundation.
With respect, however, to the ultimate consequences of this deci
sive step, the Catholic writer and ourselves are wholly at variance. “We are inclined to believe,” continues the former, " that apart from the respect he earned by his noble sacrifice, Mr. Doyle achieved a higher reputation in consequence of his retirement from comic journalism, than if he had continued to employ his pencil in its services all his life through. It is true that his name was not, towards the end of his life, so familiar to the popular mind of England as was that of John Leech at the end of his career, and as that of Du Maurier at the present time, but the work which he did in his later life was more lasting and more world-wide. Punch is an English periodical; you must be an Englishman to understand the allusions. The humour is essentially and almost exclusively English; it would never attain any great popularity in other English-speaking nations, in spite of its undoubted claim to be the first comic journal in the world. If Doyle had confined himself to the pages of Punch, or directed his energies mainly to the weekly issue of some design in its numerous columns, the limnings of his pencil would scarcely be known outside of England, whereas all over the continent of America, and in the English colonies, the old Colonel Newcome, and the Marquis of Farintosh, Lady Kew, and Trotty Veck meet us with their familiar faces as we turn over the Transatlantic editions of Thackeray and Dickens, not to mention the exquisite paintings, of which we shall have more to say presently, exhibited in the Grosvenor Gallery, and to be found in many a country mansion as a lasting memorial of Dicky Doyle.” Does the writer seriously mean to tell us that Doyle could not illustrate Thackeray and Dickens at the same time and side by side with his illustrations for Punch or any other serial of a satirical character? Granted that Punch is a periodical appealing to English tastes and sympathies, yet it was through the introduction obtained by means of its pages that the artist probably obtained employment upon the very works to which the writer refers, and upon which (as he claims) his reputation will rest.
Nor do we, nor can we, admit that, out of the circle of his coreligionists, or the still narrower circle of educated unbiassed minds, Doyle reaped much respect by the “noble sacrifice” of which the writer speaks. English prejudice looks with special coldness on conscientious motives it does not understand, and with which it can have but little sympathy. Doyle was a man of purer motives and finer sympathies than George Cruikshank; but the same insular prejudice which conduced to the ruin of George Cruikshank, wrecked the future prospects of an artist almost as original in some respects as the more brilliant George. From the moment that Doyle retired from Punch, English fanaticism and English prejudice persisted in regarding him as a supporter of the “ Papal aggression," and he permanently lost from that moment the ground which his talent and his reputation had so honourably won for him. From the moment he deemed it his duty to retire from the circle of literary and artistic wits and humourists with whom he was then associated, he took himself practically out of the range of comic art, and the public ceased to trouble itself about him, although it had lost in the expressive language of Mr. Thackeray) “the graceful pencil, the harmless wit, the charming fancy," of one of the most genial and promising of English graphic satirists of the modern time. Before he left Punch he had executed for the periodical upwards of five hundred illustrations, of which nearly eighty are cartoons.
But Richard Doyle manifested the honesty of purpose which was a part of his noble nature by other sacrifices than his retirement from Punch. From the friendly hand which has strewn flowers upon his grave, we learn that at one time he was offered a handsome income to draw for a periodical started some years ago, but declined the engagement because he disapproved of the principles of those by whom it was conducted. “At another he had a similar offer made him by a distinguished statesman on behalf of a political journal, in which the work would have been light and the remuneration excellent.” He was offered his own terms to illustrate an edition of Swift's humorous works ; but here too he resused, because he did not admire the morality of the witty Dean of St. Patrick's. “In these and other cases like them, religion, virtue, high principle, carried the day against interests which would have proved too much