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George Cruikshank by William Makepeace Thackeray

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This etext was prepared by Donald Lainson, charlie@idirect.com.

George Cruikshank

by William Makepeace Thackeray

* Reprinted from the Westminster Review for June, 1840. (No 66.)

Accusations of ingratitude, and just accusations no doubt, are made
against every inhabitant of this wicked world, and the fact is, that
a man who is ceaselessly engaged in its trouble and turmoil, borne
hither and thither upon the fierce waves of the crowd, bustling,
shifting, struggling to keep himself somewhat above water--fighting
for reputation, or more likely for bread, and ceaselessly occupied
to-day with plans for appeasing the eternal appetite of inevitable
hunger to-morrow--a man in such straits has hardly time to think of
anything but himself, and, as in a sinking ship, must make his own
rush for the boats, and fight, struggle, and trample for safety.
In the midst of such a combat as this, the "ingenious arts, which
prevent the ferocity of the manners, and act upon them as an
emollient" (as the philosophic bard remarks in the Latin Grammar)
are likely to be jostled to death, and then forgotten. The world
will allow no such compromises between it and that which does not
belong to it--no two gods must we serve; but (as one has seen in
some old portraits) the horrible glazed eyes of Necessity are always
fixed upon you; fly away as you will, black Care sits behind you,
and with his ceaseless gloomy croaking drowns the voice of all more
cheerful companions. Happy he whose fortune has placed him where
there is calm and plenty, and who has the wisdom not to give up his
quiet in quest of visionary gain.

Here is, no doubt, the reason why a man, after the period of his
boyhood, or first youth, makes so few friends. Want and ambition
(new acquaintances which are introduced to him along with his beard)
thrust away all other society from him. Some old friends remain, it
is true, but these are become as a habit--a part of your selfishness;
and, for new ones, they are selfish as you are. Neither member of
the new partnership has the capital of affection and kindly feeling,
or can even afford the time that is requisite for the establishment
of the new firm. Damp and chill the shades of the prison-house
begin to close round us, and that "vision splendid" which has
accompanied our steps in our journey daily farther from the east,
fades away and dies into the light of common day.

And what a common day! what a foggy, dull, shivering apology for
light is this kind of muddy twilight through which we are about to
tramp and flounder for the rest of our existence, wandering farther
and farther from the beauty and freshness and from the kindly
gushing springs of clear gladness that made all around us green in
our youth! One wanders and gropes in a slough of stock-jobbing, one
sinks or rises in a storm of politics, and in either case it is as
good to fall as to rise--to mount a bubble on the crest of the wave,
as to sink a stone to the bottom.

The reader who has seen the name affixed to the head of this article
scarcely expected to be entertained with a declamation upon
ingratitude, youth, and the vanity of human pursuits, which may seem
at first sight to have little to do with the subject in hand. But
(although we reserve the privilege of discoursing upon whatever
subject shall suit us, and by no means admit the public has any
right to ask in our sentences for any meaning, or any connection
whatever) it happens that, in this particular instance, there is an
undoubted connection. In Susan's case, as recorded by Wordsworth,
what connection had the corner of Wood Street with a mountain
ascending, a vision of trees, and a nest by the Dove? Why should
the song of a thrush cause bright volumes of vapor to glide through
Lothbury, and a river to flow on through the vale of Cheapside? As
she stood at that corner of Wood Street, a mop and a pail in her
hand most likely, she heard the bird singing, and straight-way began
pining and yearning for the days of her youth, forgetting the proper
business of the pail and mop. Even so we are moved by the sight of
some of Mr. Cruikshank's works--the "Busen fuhlt sich jugendlich
erschuttert," the "schwankende Gestalten" of youth flit before one
again,--Cruikshank's thrush begins to pipe and carol, as in the days
of boyhood; hence misty moralities, reflections, and sad and
pleasant remembrances arise. He is the friend of the young
especially. Have we not read, all the story-books that his
wonderful pencil has illustrated? Did we not forego tarts, in order
to buy his "Breaking-up," or his "Fashionable Monstrosities" of the
year eighteen hundred and something? Have we not before us, at this
very moment, a print,--one of the admirable "Illustrations of
Phrenology"--which entire work was purchased by a joint-stock
company of boys, each drawing lots afterwards for the separate
prints, and taking his choice in rotation? The writer of this, too,
had the honor of drawing the first lot, and seized immediately upon
"Philoprogenitiveness"--a marvellous print (our copy is not at all
improved by being colored, which operation we performed on it
ourselves)--a marvellous print, indeed,--full of ingenuity and fine
jovial humor. A father, possessor of an enormous nose and family,
is surrounded by the latter, who are, some of them, embracing the
former. The composition writhes and twists about like the Kermes of
Rubens. No less than seven little men and women in nightcaps, in
frocks, in bibs, in breeches, are clambering about the head,
knees, and arms of the man with the nose; their noses, too, are
preternaturally developed--the twins in the cradle have noses of the
most considerable kind. The second daughter, who is watching them;
the youngest but two, who sits squalling in a certain wicker chair;
the eldest son, who is yawning; the eldest daughter, who is
preparing with the gravy of two mutton-chops a savory dish of
Yorkshire pudding for eighteen persons; the youths who are examining
her operations (one a literary gentleman, in a remarkably neat
nightcap and pinafore, who has just had his finger in the pudding);
the genius who is at work on the slate, and the two honest lads who
are hugging the good-humored washerwoman, their mother,--all, all,
save, this worthy woman, have noses of the largest size. Not
handsome certainly are they, and yet everybody must be charmed
with the picture. It is full of grotesque beauty. The artist
has at the back of his own skull, we are certain, a huge bump of
philoprogenitiveness. He loves children in his heart; every one of
those he has drawn is perfectly happy, and jovial, and affectionate,
and innocent as possible. He makes them with large noses, but he
loves them, and you always find something kind in the midst of his
humor, and the ugliness redeemed by a sly touch of beauty. The
smiling mother reconciles one with all the hideous family: they have
all something of the mother in them--something kind, and generous,
and tender.

Knight's, in Sweeting's Alley; Fairburn's, in a court off Ludgate
Hill; Hone's, in Fleet Street--bright, enchanted palaces, which
George Cruikshank used to people with grinning, fantastical imps,
and merry, harmless sprites,--where are they? Fairburn's shop knows
him no more; not only has Knight disappeared from Sweeting's Alley,
but, as we are given to understand, Sweetings Alley has disappeared
from the face of the globe. Slop, the atrocious Castlereagh, the
sainted Caroline (in a tight pelisse, with feathers in her head),
the "Dandy of sixty," who used to glance at us from Hone's friendly
windows--where are they? Mr. Cruikshank may have drawn a thousand
better things since the days when these were; but they are to us a
thousand times more pleasing than anything else he has done. How we
used to believe in them! to stray miles out of the way on holidays,
in order to ponder for an hour before that delightful window in
Sweeting's Alley! in walks through Fleet Street, to vanish abruptly
down Fairburn's passage, and there make one at his "charming gratis"
exhibition. There used to be a crowd round the window in those
days, of grinning, good-natured mechanics, who spelt the songs, and
spoke them out for the benefit of the company, and who received the
points of humor with a general sympathizing roar. Where are these
people now? You never hear any laughing at HB.; his pictures are a
great deal too genteel for that--polite points of wit, which strike
one as exceedingly clever and pretty, and cause one to smile in a
quiet, gentleman-like kind of way.

There must be no smiling with Cruikshank. A man who does not laugh
outright is a dullard, and has no heart; even the old dandy of sixty
must have laughed at his own wondrous grotesque image, as they say
Louis Philippe did, who saw all the caricatures that were made of
himself. And there are some of Cruikshank's designs which have the
blessed faculty of creating laughter as often as you see them. As
Diggory says in the play, who is bidden by his master not to laugh
while waiting at table--"Don't tell the story of Grouse in the Gun-
room, master, or I can't help laughing." Repeat that history ever
so often, and at the proper moment, honest Diggory is sure to
explode. Every man, no doubt, who loves Cruikshank has his "Grouse
in the Gun-room." There is a fellow in the "Points of Humor" who is
offering to eat up a certain little general, that has made us happy
any time these sixteen years: his huge mouth is a perpetual well of
laughter--buckets full of fun can be drawn from it. We have formed
no such friendships as that boyish one of the man with the mouth.
But though, in our eyes, Mr. Cruikshank reached his apogee some
eighteen years since, it must not be imagined that such is really
the case. Eighteen sets of children have since then learned to love
and admire him, and may many more of their successors be brought up
in the same delightful faith. It is not the artist who fails, but
the men who grow cold--the men, from whom the illusions (why
illusions? realities) of youth disappear one by one; who have no
leisure to be happy, no blessed holidays, but only fresh cares at
Midsummer and Christmas, being the inevitable seasons which bring us
bills instead of pleasures. Tom, who comes bounding home from
school, has the doctor's account in his trunk, and his father goes
to sleep at the pantomime to which he takes him. Pater infelix, you
too have laughed at clown, and the magic wand of spangled harlequin;
what delightful enchantment did it wave around you, in the golden
days "when George the Third was king!" But our clown lies in his
grave; and our harlequin, Ellar, prince of how many enchanted
islands, was he not at Bow Street the other day,* in his dirty,
tattered, faded motley--seized as a law-breaker, for acting at a
penny theatre, after having wellnigh starved in the streets, where
nobody would listen to his old guitar? No one gave a shilling to
bless him: not one of us who owe him so much.

* This was written in 1840.

We know not if Mr. Cruikshank will be very well pleased at finding
his name in such company as that of Clown and Harlequin; but he,
like them, is certainly the children's friend. His drawings abound
in feeling for these little ones, and hideous as in the course of
his duty he is from time to time compelled to design them, he never
sketches one without a certain pity for it, and imparting to the
figure a certain grotesque grace. In happy schoolboys he revels;
plum-pudding and holidays his needle has engraved over and over
again; there is a design in one of the comic almanacs of some young
gentlemen who are employed in administering to a schoolfellow the
correction of the pump, which is as graceful and elegant as a
drawing of Stothard. Dull books about children George Cruikshank
makes bright with illustrations--there is one published by the
ingenious and opulent Mr. Tegg. It is entitled "Mirth and
Morality," the mirth being, for the most part, on the side of the
designer--the morality, unexceptionable certainly, the author's
capital. Here are then, to these moralities, a smiling train of
mirths supplied by George Cruikshank. See yonder little fellows
butterfly-hunting across a common! Such a light, brisk, airy,
gentleman-like drawing was never made upon such a theme. Who,
cries the author--

"Who has not chased the butterfly,
And crushed its slender legs and wings,
And heaved a moralizing sigh:
Alas! how frail are human things!"

A very unexceptionable morality truly; but it would have puzzled
another than George Cruikshank to make mirth out of it as he has
done. Away, surely not on the wings of these verses, Cruikshank's
imagination begins to soar; and he makes us three darling little men
on a green common, backed by old farmhouses, somewhere about May. A
great mixture of blue and clouds in the air, a strong fresh breeze
stirring, Tom's jacket flapping in the same, in order to bring down
the insect queen or king of spring that is fluttering above him,--he
renders all this with a few strokes on a little block of wood not
two inches square, upon which one may gaze for hours, so merry and
lifelike a scene does it present. What a charming creative power is
this, what a privilege--to be a god, and create little worlds upon
paper, and whole generations of smiling, jovial men, women, and
children half inch high, whose portraits are carried abroad, and
have the faculty of making us monsters of six feet curious and happy
in our turn. Now, who would imagine that an artist could make
anything of such a subject as this? The writer begins by stating,--

"I love to go back to the days of my youth,
And to reckon my joys to the letter,
And to count o'er the friends that I have in the world,
Ay, and those who are gone to a better."

This brings him to the consideration of his uncle. "Of all the men
I have ever known," says he, "my uncle united the greatest degree of
cheerfulness with the sobriety of manhood. Though a man when I was
a boy, he was yet one of the most agreeable companions I ever
possessed. . . . He embarked for America, and nearly twenty years
passed by before he came back again; . . . but oh, how altered!--he
was in every sense of the word an old man, his body and mind were
enfeebled, and second childishness had come upon him. How often
have I bent over him, vainly endeavoring to recall to his memory the
scenes we had shared together: and how frequently, with an aching
heart, have I gazed on his vacant and lustreless eye, while he has
amused himself in clapping his hands and singing with a quavering
voice a verse of a psalm." Alas! such are the consequences of long
residences in America, and of old age even in uncles! Well, the
point of this morality is, that the uncle one day in the morning of
life vowed that he would catch his two nephews and tie them
together, ay, and actually did so, for all the efforts the rogues
made to run away from him; but he was so fatigued that he declared
he never would make the attempt again, whereupon the nephew
remarks,--"Often since then, when engaged in enterprises beyond my
strength, have I called to mind the determination of my uncle."

Does it not seem impossible to make a picture out of this? And yet
George Cruikshank has produced a charming design, in which the
uncles and nephews are so prettily portrayed that one is reconciled
to their existence, with all their moralities. Many more of the
mirths in this little book are excellent, especially a great figure
of a parson entering church on horseback,--an enormous parson truly,
calm, unconscious, unwieldy. As Zeuxis had a bevy of virgins in
order to make his famous picture--his express virgin--a clerical
host must have passed under Cruikshank's eyes before he sketched
this little, enormous parson of parsons.

Being on the subject of children's books, how shall we enough praise
the delightful German nursery-tales, and Cruikshank's illustrations
of them? We coupled his name with pantomime awhile since, and sure
never pantomimes were more charming than these. Of all the artists
that ever drew, from Michael Angelo upwards and downwards,
Cruikshank was the man to illustrate these tales, and give them just
the proper admixture of the grotesque, the wonderful, and the
graceful. May all Mother Bunch's collection be similarly indebted
to him; may "Jack the Giant Killer," may "Tom Thumb," may "Puss in
Boots," be one day revivified by his pencil. Is not Whittington
sitting yet on Highgate hill, and poor Cinderella (in that sweetest
of all fairy stories) still pining in her lonely chimney-nook? A
man who has a true affection for these delightful companions of his
youth is bound to be grateful to them if he can, and we pray Mr.
Cruikshank to remember them.

It is folly to say that this or that kind of humor is too good for
the public, that only a chosen few can relish it. The best humor
that we know of has been as eagerly received by the public as by the
most delicate connoisseur. There is hardly a man in England who can
read but will laugh at Falstaff and the humor of Joseph Andrews; and
honest Mr. Pickwick's story can be felt and loved by any person
above the age of six. Some may have a keener enjoyment of it than
others, but all the world can be merry over it, and is always ready
to welcome it. The best criterion of good humor is success, and what
a share of this has Mr. Cruikshank had! how many millions of mortals
has he made happy! We have heard very profound persons talk
philosophically of the marvellous and mysterious manner in which he
has suited himself to the time--fait vibrer la fibre populaire (as
Napoleon boasted of himself), supplied a peculiar want felt at a
peculiar period, the simple secret of which is, as we take it, that
he, living amongst the public, has with them a general wide-hearted
sympathy, that he laughs at what they laugh at, that he has a kindly
spirit of enjoyment, with not a morsel of mysticism in his
composition; that he pities and loves the poor, and jokes at the
follies of the great, and that he addresses all in a perfectly
sincere and manly way. To be greatly successful as a professional
humorist, as in any other calling, a man must be quite honest, and
show that his heart is in his work. A bad preacher will get
admiration and a hearing with this point in his favor, where a man
of three times his acquirements will only find indifference and
coldness. Is any man more remarkable than our artist for telling
the truth after his own manner? Hogarth's honesty of purpose was as
conspicuous in an earlier time, and we fancy that Gilray would have
been far more successful and more powerful but for that unhappy
bribe, which turned the whole course of his humor into an unnatural
channel. Cruikshank would not for any bribe say what he did not
think, or lend his aid to sneer down anything meritorious, or to
praise any thing or person that deserved censure. When he levelled
his wit against the Regent, and did his very prettiest for the
Princess, he most certainly believed, along with the great body of
the people whom he represents, that the Princess was the most
spotless, pure-mannered darling of a Princess that ever married a
heartless debauchee of a Prince Royal. Did not millions believe
with him, and noble and learned lords take their oaths to her Royal
Highness's innocence? Cruikshank would not stand by and see a woman
ill-used, and so struck in for her rescue, he and the people
belaboring with all their might the party who were making the
attack, and determining, from pure sympathy and indignation, that
the woman must be innocent because her husband treated her so foully.

To be sure we have never heard so much from Mr. Cruikshank's own
lips, but any man who will examine these odd drawings, which first
made him famous, will see what an honest hearty hatred the champion
of woman has for all who abuse her, and will admire the energy with
which he flings his wood-blocks at all who side against her.
Canning, Castlereagh, Bexley, Sidmouth, he is at them, one and all;
and as for the Prince, up to what a whipping-post of ridicule did he
tie that unfortunate old man! And do not let squeamish Tories cry
out about disloyalty; if the crown does wrong, the crown must be
corrected by the nation, out of respect, of course, for the crown.
In those days, and by those people who so bitterly attacked the son,
no word was ever breathed against the father, simply because he was
a good husband, and a sober, thrifty, pious, orderly man.

This attack upon the Prince Regent we believe to have been Mr.
Cruikshank's only effort as a party politician. Some early
manifestoes against Napoleon we find, it is true, done in the
regular John Bull style, with the Gilray model for the little
upstart Corsican: but as soon as the Emperor had yielded to stern
fortune our artist's heart relented (as Beranger's did on the other
side of the water), and many of our readers will doubtless recollect
a fine drawing of "Louis XVIII. trying on Napoleon's boots," which
did not certainly fit the gouty son of Saint Louis. Such satirical
hits as these, however, must not be considered as political, or as
anything more than the expression of the artist's national British
idea of Frenchmen.

It must be confessed that for that great nation Mr. Cruikshank
entertains a considerable contempt. Let the reader examine the
"Life in Paris," or the five hundred designs in which Frenchmen are
introduced, and he will find them almost invariably thin, with
ludicrous spindle-shanks, pigtails, outstretched hands, shrugging
shoulders, and queer hair and mustachios. He has the British idea
of a Frenchman; and if he does not believe that the inhabitants of
France are for the most part dancing-masters and barbers, yet takes
care to depict such in preference, and would not speak too well of
them. It is curious how these traditions endure. In France, at the
present moment, the Englishman on the stage is the caricatured
Englishman at the time of the war, with a shock red head, a long
white coat, and invariable gaiters. Those who wish to study this
subject should peruse Monsieur Paul de Kock's histories of "Lord
Boulingrog" and "Lady Crockmilove." On the other hand, the old
emigre has taken his station amongst us, and we doubt if a good
British gallery would understand that such and such a character WAS
a Frenchman unless he appeared in the ancient traditional costume.

A curious book, called "Life in Paris," published in 1822, contains
a number of the artist's plates in the aquatint style; and though we
believe he had never been in that capital, the designs have a great
deal of life in them, and pass muster very well. A villanous race
of shoulder-shrugging mortals are his Frenchmen indeed. And the
heroes of the tale, a certain Mr. Dick Wildfire, Squire Jenkins, and
Captain O'Shuffleton, are made to show the true British superiority
on every occasion when Britons and French are brought together.
This book was one among the many that the designer's genius has
caused to be popular; the plates are not carefully executed, but,
being colored, have a pleasant, lively look. The same style was
adopted in the once famous book called "Tom and Jerry, or Life in
London," which must have a word of notice here, for, although by no
means Mr. Cruikshank's best work, his reputation was extraordinarily
raised by it. Tom and Jerry were as popular twenty years since as
Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller now are; and often have we wished, while
reading the biographies of the latter celebrated personages, that
they had been described as well by Mr. Cruikshank's pencil as by Mr.
Dickens's pen.

As for Tom and Jerry, to show the mutability of human affairs and
the evanescent nature of reputation, we have been to the British
Museum and no less than five circulating libraries in quest of the
book, and "Life in London," alas, is not to be found at any one of
them. We can only, therefore, speak of the work from recollection,
but have still a very clear remembrance of the leather gaiters of
Jerry Hawthorn, the green spectacles of Logic, and the hooked nose
of Corinthian Tom. They were the schoolboy's delight; and in the
days when the work appeared we firmly believed the three heroes
above named to be types of the most elegant, fashionable young
fellows the town afforded, and thought their occupations and
amusements were those of all high-bred English gentlemen. Tom
knocking down the watchman at Temple Bar; Tom and Jerry dancing at
Almack's; or flirting in the saloon at the theatre; at the night-
houses, after the play; at Tom Cribb's, examining the silver cup
then in the possession of that champion; at the chambers of Bob
Logic, who, seated at a cabinet piano, plays a waltz to which
Corinthian Tom and Kate are dancing; ambling gallantly in Rotten
Row; or examining the poor fellow at Newgate who was having his
chains knocked off before hanging: all these scenes remain indelibly
engraved upon the mind, and so far we are independent of all the
circulating libraries in London.

As to the literary contents of the book, they have passed sheer
away. It was, most likely, not particularly refined; nay, the
chances are that it was absolutely vulgar. But it must have had
some merit of its own, that is clear; it must have given striking
descriptions of life in some part or other of London, for all London
read it, and went to see it in its dramatic shape. The artist, it
is said, wished to close the career of the three heroes by bringing
them all to ruin, but the writer, or publishers, would not allow any
such melancholy subjects to dash the merriment of the public, and we
believe Tom, Jerry, and Logic, were married off at the end of the
tale, as if they had been the most moral personages in the world.
There is some goodness in this pity, which authors and the public
are disposed to show towards certain agreeable, disreputable
characters of romance. Who would mar the prospects of honest
Roderick Random, or Charles Surface, or Tom Jones? only a very stern
moralist indeed. And in regard of Jerry Hawthorn and that hero
without a surname, Corinthian Tom, Mr. Cruikshank, we make little
doubt, was glad in his heart that he was not allowed to have his own

Soon after the "Tom and Jerry" and the "Life in Paris," Mr.
Cruikshank produced a much more elaborate set of prints, in a work
which was called "Points of Humor." These "Points" were selected
from various comic works, and did not, we believe, extend beyond a
couple of numbers, containing about a score of copper-plates. The
collector of humorous designs cannot fail to have them in his
portfolio, for they contain some of the very best efforts of Mr.
Cruikshank's genius, and though not quite so highly labored as some
of his later productions, are none the worse, in our opinion, for
their comparative want of finish. All the effects are perfectly
given, and the expression is as good as it could be in the most
delicate engraving upon steel. The artist's style, too, was then
completely formed; and, for our parts, we should say that we
preferred his manner of 1825 to any other which he has adopted
since. The first picture, which is called "The Point of Honor,"
illustrates the old story of the officer who, on being accused of
cowardice for refusing to fight a duel, came among his brother
officers and flung a lighted grenade down upon the floor, before
which his comrades fled ignominiously. This design is capital, and
the outward rush of heroes, walking, trampling, twisting, scuffling
at the door, is in the best style of the grotesque. You see but the
back of most of these gentlemen; into which, nevertheless, the
artist has managed to throw an expression of ludicrous agony that
one could scarcely have expected to find in such a part of the human
figure. The next plate is not less good. It represents a couple
who, having been found one night tipsy, and lying in the same
gutter, were, by a charitable though misguided gentleman, supposed
to be man and wife, and put comfortably to bed together. The
morning came; fancy the surprise of this interesting pair when they
awoke and discovered their situation. Fancy the manner, too, in
which Cruikshank has depicted them, to which words cannot do
justice. It is needless to state that this fortuitous and temporary
union was followed by one more lasting and sentimental, and that
these two worthy persons were married, and lived happily ever after.

We should like to go through every one of these prints. There is
the jolly miller, who, returning home at night, calls upon his wife
to get him a supper, and falls to upon rashers of bacon and ale.
How he gormandizes, that jolly miller! rasher after rasher, how they
pass away frizzling and, smoking from the gridiron down that immense
grinning gulf of a mouth. Poor wife! how she pines and frets, at
that untimely hour of midnight to be obliged to fry, fry, fry
perpetually, and minister to the monster's appetite. And yonder in
the clock: what agonized face is that we see? By heavens, it is the
squire of the parish. What business has he there? Let us not ask.
Suffice it to say, that he has, in the hurry of the moment, left up
stairs his br----; his--psha! a part of his dress, in short, with a
number of bank-notes in the pockets. Look in the next page, and you
will see the ferocious, bacon-devouring ruffian of a miller is
actually causing this garment to be carried through the village and
cried by the town-crier. And we blush to be obliged to say that the
demoralized miller never offered to return the banknotes, although
he was so mighty scrupulous in endeavoring to find an owner for the
corduroy portfolio in which he had found them.

Passing from this painful subject, we come, we regret to state, to a
series of prints representing personages not a whit more moral.
Burns's famous "Jolly Beggars" have all had their portraits drawn by
Cruikshank. There is the lovely "hempen widow," quite as
interesting and romantic as the famous Mrs. Sheppard, who has at the
lamented demise of her husband adopted the very same consolation.

"My curse upon them every one,
They've hanged my braw John Highlandman;

. . . .

And now a widow I must mourn
Departed joys that ne'er return;
No comfort but a hearty can
When I think on John Highlandman."

Sweet "raucle carlin," she has none of the sentimentality of the
English highwayman's lady; but being wooed by a tinker and

"A pigmy scraper wi' his fiddle
Wha us'd to trystes and fairs to driddle,"

prefers the practical to the merely musical man. The tinker sings
with a noble candor, worthy of a fellow of his strength of body and
station in life--

"My bonnie lass, I work in brass,
A tinker is my station;
I've travell'd round all Christian ground
In this my occupation.
I've ta'en the gold, I've been enroll'd
In many a noble squadron;
But vain they search'd when off I march'd
To go an' clout the caudron."

It was his ruling passion. What was military glory to him,
forsooth? He had the greatest contempt for it, and loved freedom
and his copper kettle a thousand times better--a kind of hardware
Diogenes. Of fiddling he has no better opinion. The picture
represents the "sturdy caird" taking "poor gut-scraper" by the
beard,--drawing his "roosty rapier," and swearing to "speet him like
a pliver" unless he would relinquish the bonnie lassie for ever--

"Wi' ghastly ee, poor tweedle-dee
Upon his hunkers bended,
An' pray'd for grace wi' ruefu' face,
An' so the quarrel ended."

Hark how the tinker apostrophizes the violinist, stating to the
widow at the same time the advantages which she might expect from an
alliance with himself:--

"Despise that shrimp, that withered imp,
Wi' a' his noise and caperin';
And take a share with those that bear
The budget and the apron!

"And by that stowp, my faith an' houpe,
An' by that dear Kilbaigie!
If e'er ye want, or meet wi' scant,
May I ne'er weet my craigie."

Cruikshank's caird is a noble creature; his face and figure show him
to be fully capable of doing and saying all that is above written of

In the second part, the old tale of "The Three Hunchbacked Fiddlers"
is illustrated with equal felicity. The famous classical dinners
and duel in "Peregrine Pickle" are also excellent in their way; and
the connoisseur of prints and etchings may see in the latter plate,
and in another in this volume, how great the artist's mechanical
skill is as an etcher. The distant view of the city in the duel,
and of a market-place in "The Quack Doctor," are delightful
specimens of the artist's skill in depicting buildings and
backgrounds. They are touched with a grace, truth, and dexterity of
workmanship that leave nothing to desire. We have before mentioned
the man with the mouth, which appears in this number emblematical of
gout and indigestion, in which the artist has shown all the fancy of
Callot. Little demons, with long saws for noses, are making
dreadful incisions into the toes of the unhappy sufferer; some are
bringing pans of hot coals to keep the wounded member warm; a huge,
solemn nightmare sits on the invalid's chest, staring solemnly into
his eyes; a monster, with a pair of drumsticks, is banging a devil's
tattoo on his forehead; and a pair of imps are nailing great
tenpenny nails into his hands to make his happiness complete.

The late Mr. Clark's excellent work, "Three Courses and a Dessert,"
was published at a time when the rage for comic stories was not so
great as it since has been, and Messrs. Clark and Cruikshank only
sold their hundreds where Messrs. Dickens and Phiz dispose of their
thousands. But if our recommendation can in any way influence the
reader, we would enjoin him to have a copy of the "Three Courses,"
that contains some of the best designs of our artist, and some of
the most amusing tales in our language. The invention of the
pictures, for which Mr. Clark takes credit to himself, says a great
deal for his wit and fancy. Can we, for instance, praise too highly
the man who invented that wonderful oyster?

Examine him well; his beard, his pearl, his little round stomach,
and his sweet smile. Only oysters know how to smile in this way;
cool, gentle, waggish, and yet inexpressibly innocent and winning.
Dando himself must have allowed such an artless native to go free,
and consigned him to the glassy, cool, translucent wave again.

In writing upon such subjects as these with which we have been
furnished, it can hardly be expected that we should follow any fixed
plan and order--we must therefore take such advantage as we may, and
seize upon our subject when and wherever we can lay hold of him.

For Jews, sailors, Irishmen, Hessian boots, little boys, beadles,
policemen, tall life-guardsmen, charity children, pumps, dustmen,
very short pantaloons, dandies in spectacles, and ladies with
aquiline noses, remarkably taper waists, and wonderfully long
ringlets, Mr. Cruikshank has a special predilection. The tribe of
Israelites he has studied with amazing gusto; witness the Jew in Mr.
Ainsworth's "Jack Sheppard," and the immortal Fagin of "Oliver
Twist." Whereabouts lies the comic vis in these persons and things?
Why should a beadle be comic, and his opposite a charity boy? Why
should a tall life-guardsman have something in him essentially
absurd? Why are short breeches more ridiculous than long? What is
there particularly jocose about a pump, and wherefore does a long
nose always provoke the beholder to laughter? These points may be
metaphysically elucidated by those who list. It is probable that
Mr. Cruikshank could not give an accurate definition of that which
is ridiculous in these objects, but his instinct has told him that
fun lurks in them, and cold must be the heart that can pass by the
pantaloons of his charity boys, the Hessian boots of his dandies,
and the fan-tail hats of his dustmen, without respectful wonder.

He has made a complete little gallery of dustmen. There is, in the
first place, the professional dustman, who, having in the
enthusiastic exercise of his delightful trade, laid hands upon
property not strictly his own, is pursued, we presume, by the right
owner, from whom he flies as fast as his crooked shanks will carry

What a curious picture it is--the horrid rickety houses in some
dingy suburb of London, the grinning cobbler, the smothered butcher,
the very trees which are covered with dust--it is fine to look at
the different expressions of the two interesting fugitives. The
fiery charioteer who belabors the poor donkey has still a glance for
his brother on foot, on whom punishment is about to descend. And
not a little curious is it to think of the creative power of the man
who has arranged this little tale of low life. How logically it is
conducted, how cleverly each one of the accessories is made to
contribute to the effect of the whole. What a deal of thought and
humor has the artist expended on this little block of wood; a large
picture might have been painted out of the very same materials,
which Mr. Cruikshank, out of his wondrous fund of merriment and
observation, can afford to throw away upon a drawing not two inches
long. From the practical dustmen we pass to those purely poetical.
There are three of them who rise on clouds of their own raising, the
very genii of the sack and shovel.

Is there no one to write a sonnet to these?--and yet a whole poem
was written about Peter Bell the wagoner, a character by no means so

And lastly, we have the dustman in love: the honest fellow having
seen a young beauty stepping out of a gin-shop on a Sunday morning,
is pressing eagerly his suit.

Gin has furnished many subjects to Mr. Cruikshank, who labors in his
own sound and hearty way to teach his countrymen the dangers of that
drink. In the "Sketch-Book" is a plate upon the subject, remarkable
for fancy and beauty of design; it is called the "Gin Juggernaut,"
and represents a hideous moving palace, with a reeking still at the
roof and vast gin-barrels for wheels, under which unhappy millions
are crushed to death. An immense black cloud of desolation covers
over the country through which the gin monster has passed, dimly
looming through the darkness whereof you see an agreeable prospect
of gibbets with men dangling, burnt houses, &c. The vast cloud
comes sweeping on in the wake of this horrible body-crusher; and you
see, by way of contrast, a distant, smiling, sunshiny tract of old
English country, where gin as yet is not known. The allegory is as
good, as earnest, and as fanciful as one of John Bunyan's, and we
have often fancied there was a similarity between the men.

The render will examine the work called "My Sketch-Book" with not a
little amusement, and may gather from it, as we fancy, a good deal
of information regarding the character of the individual man, George
Cruikshank: what points strike his eye as a painter; what move his
anger or admiration as a moralist; what classes he seems most
especially disposed to observe, and what to ridicule. There are
quacks of all kinds, to whom he has a mortal hatred; quack dandies,
who assume under his pencil, perhaps in his eye, the most grotesque
appearance possible--their hats grow larger, their legs infinitely
more crooked and lean; the tassels of their canes swell out to a
most preposterous size; the tails of their coats dwindle away, and
finish where coat-tails generally begin. Let us lay a wager that
Cruikshank, a man of the people if ever there was one, heartily
hates and despises these supercilious, swaggering young gentlemen;
and his contempt is not a whit the less laudable because there may
be tant soit peu of prejudice in it. It is right and wholesome to
scorn dandies, as Nelson said it was to hate Frenchmen; in which
sentiment (as we have before said) George Cruikshank undoubtedly
shares. In the "Sunday in London,"* Monsieur the Chef is instructing
a kitchen-maid how to compound some rascally French kickshaw or the
other--a pretty scoundrel truly! with what an air he wears that
nightcap of his, and shrugs his lank shoulders, and chatters, and
ogles, and grins: they are all the same, these mounseers; there are
other two fellows--morbleu! one is putting his dirty fingers into
the saucepan; there are frogs cooking in it, no doubt; and just over
some other dish of abomination, another dirty rascal is taking
snuff! Never mind, the sauce won't be hurt by a few ingredients
more or less. Three such fellows as these are not worth one
Englishman, that's clear. There is one in the very midst of them,
the great burly fellow with the beef: he could beat all three in
five minutes. We cannot be certain that such was the process going
on in Mr. Cruikshank's mind when he made the design; but some
feelings of the sort were no doubt entertained by him.

* The following lines--ever fresh--by the author of "Headlong Hall,"
published years ago in the Globe and Traveller, are an excellent
comment on several of the cuts from the "Sunday in London:"--


"The poor man's sins are glaring;
In the face of ghostly warning
He is caught in the fact
Of an overt act,
Buying greens on Sunday morning.


"The rich man's sins are hidden
In the pomp of wealth and station,
And escape the sight
Of the children of light,
Who are wise in their generation.


"The rich man has a kitchen,
And cooks to dress his dinner;
The poor who would roast,
To the baker's must post,
And thus becomes a sinner.


"The rich man's painted windows
Hide the concerts of the quality;
The poor can but share
A crack'd fiddle in the air,
Which offends all sound morality.


"The rich man has a cellar,
And a ready butler by him;
The poor must steer
For his pint of beer
Where the saint can't choose but spy him.


"This rich man is invisible
In the crowd of his gay society;
But the poor man's delight
Is a sore in the sight
And a stench in the nose of piety."

Against dandy footmen he is particularly severe. He hates idlers,
pretenders, boasters, and punishes these fellows as best he may.
Who does not recollect the famous picture, "What IS taxes, Thomas?"
What is taxes indeed; well may that vast, over-fed, lounging flunky
ask the question of his associate Thomas: and yet not well, for all
that Thomas says in reply is, "I DON'T KNOW." "O beati PLUSHICOLAE,"
what a charming state of ignorance is yours! In the "Sketch-Book"
many footmen make their appearance: one is a huge fat Hercules of a
Portman Square porter, who calmly surveys another poor fellow, a
porter likewise, but out of livery, who comes staggering forward
with a box that Hercules might lift with his little finger. Will
Hercules do so? not he. The giant can carry nothing heavier than a
cocked-hat note on a silver tray, and his labors are to walk from
his sentry-box to the door, and from the door back to his sentry-box,
and to read the Sunday paper, and to poke the hall fire twice or
thrice, and to make five meals a day. Such a fellow does Cruikshank
hate and scorn worse even than a Frenchman.

The man's master, too, comes in for no small share of our artist's
wrath. There is a company of them at church, who humbly designate
themselves "miserable sinners!" Miserable sinners indeed! Oh, what
floods of turtle-soup, what tons of turbot and lobster-sauce must
have been sacrificed to make those sinners properly miserable. My
lady with the ermine tippet and draggling feather, can we not see
that she lives in Portland Place, and is the wife of an East India
Director? She has been to the Opera over-night (indeed her husband,
on her right, with his fat hand dangling over the pew-door, is at
this minute thinking of Mademoiselle Leocadie, whom he saw behind
the scenes)--she has been at the Opera over-night, which with a
trifle of supper afterwards--a white-and-brown soup, a lobster-
salad, some woodcocks, and a little champagne--sent her to bed quite
comfortable. At half-past eight her maid brings her chocolate in
bed, at ten she has fresh eggs and muffins, with, perhaps, a half-
hundred of prawns for breakfast, and so can get over the day and the
sermon till lunch-time pretty well. What an odor of musk and
bergamot exhales from the pew!--how it is wadded, and stuffed, and
spangled over with brass nails! what hassocks are there for those
who are not too fat to kneel! what a flustering and flapping of gilt
prayer-books; and what a pious whirring of bible leaves one hears
all over the church, as the doctor blandly gives out the text! To
be miserable at this rate you must, at the very least, have four
thousand a year: and many persons are there so enamored of grief and
sin, that they would willingly take the risk of the misery to have a
life-interest in the consols that accompany it, quite careless about
consequences, and sceptical as to the notion that a day is at hand
when you must fulfil YOUR SHARE OF THE BARGAIN.

Our artist loves to joke at a soldier; in whose livery there appears
to him to be something almost as ridiculous as in the uniform of the
gentleman of the shoulder-knot. Tall life-guardsmen and fierce
grenadiers figure in many of his designs, and almost always in a
ridiculous way. Here again we have the honest popular English
feeling which jeers at pomp or pretension of all kinds, and is
especially jealous of all display of military authority. "Raw
Recruit," "ditto dressed," ditto "served up," as we see them in the
"Sketch-Book," are so many satires upon the army: Hodge with his
ribbons flaunting in his hat, or with red coat and musket, drilled
stiff and pompous, or at last, minus leg and arm, tottering about on
crutches, does not fill our English artist with the enthusiasm that
follows the soldier in every other part of Europe. Jeanjean, the
conscript in France, is laughed at to be sure, but then it is
because he is a bad soldier: when he comes to have a huge pair of
mustachios and the croix-d'honneur to briller on his poitrine
cicatrisee, Jeanjean becomes a member of a class that is more
respected than any other in the French nation. The veteran soldier
inspires our people with no such awe--we hold that democratic weapon
the fist in much more honor than the sabre and bayonet, and laugh at
a man tricked out in scarlet and pipe-clay.

That regiment of heroes is "marching to divine service," to the tune
of the "British Grenadiers." There they march in state, and a
pretty contempt our artist shows for all their gimcracks and
trumpery. He has drawn a perfectly English scene--the little
blackguard boys are playing pranks round about the men, and
shouting, "Heads up, soldier," "Eyes right, lobster," as little
British urchins will do. Did one ever hear the like sentiments
expressed in France? Shade of Napoleon, we insult you by asking the
question. In England, however, see how different the case is: and
designedly or undesignedly, the artist has opened to us a piece of
his mind. In the crowd the only person who admires the soldiers is
the poor idiot, whose pocket a rogue is picking. There is another
picture, in which the sentiment is much the same, only, as in the
former drawing we see Englishmen laughing at the troops of the line,
here are Irishmen giggling at the militia.

We have said that our artist has a great love for the drolleries of
the Green Island. Would any one doubt what was the country of the
merry fellows depicted in his group of Paddies?

"Place me amid O'Rourkes, O'Tooles,
The ragged royal race of Tara;
Or place me where Dick Martin rules
The pathless wilds of Connemara."

We know not if Mr. Cruikshank has ever had any such good luck as to
see the Irish in Ireland itself, but he certainly has obtained a
knowledge of their looks, as if the country had been all his life
familiar to him. Could Mr. O'Connell himself desire anything more
national than the scene of a drunken row, or could Father Mathew
have a better text to preach upon? There is not a broken nose in
the room that is not thoroughly Irish.

We have then a couple of compositions treated in a graver manner, as
characteristic too as the other. We call attention to the comical
look of poor Teague, who has been pursued and beaten by the witch's
stick, in order to point out also the singular neatness of the
workmanship, and the pretty, fanciful little glimpse of landscape
that the artist has introduced in the background. Mr. Cruikshank
has a fine eye for such homely landscapes, and renders them with
great delicacy and taste. Old villages, farm-yards, groups of
stacks, queer chimneys, churches, gable-ended cottages, Elizabethan
mansion-houses, and other old English scenes, he depicts with
evident enthusiasm.

Famous books in their day were Cruikshank's "John Gilpin" and
"Epping Hunt;" for though our artist does not draw horses very
scientifically,--to use a 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. Neither is he very happy in trees, and
such rustical produce; or, rather, we should say, he is very
original, his trees being decidedly of his own make and composition,
not imitated from any master.

But what then? Can a man be supposed to imitate everything? We
know what the noblest study of mankind is, and to this Mr.
Cruikshank has confined himself. That postilion with the people in
the broken-down chaise roaring after him is as deaf as the post by
which he passes. Suppose all the accessories were away, could not
one swear that the man was stone-deaf, beyond the reach of trumpet?
What is the peculiar character in a deaf man's physiognomy?--can any
person define it satisfactorily in words?--not in pages; and Mr.
Cruikshank has expressed it on a piece of paper not so big as the
tenth part of your thumb-nail. The horses of John Gilpin are much
more of the equestrian order; and as here the artist has only his
favorite suburban buildings to draw, not a word is to be said
against his design. The inn and old buildings are charmingly
designed, and nothing can be more prettily or playfully touched.

"At Edmonton his loving wife
From the balcony spied
Her tender husband, wond'ring much
To see how he did ride.

"'Stop, stop, John Gilpin! Here's the house!'
They all at once did cry;
'The dinner waits, and we are tired--'
Said Gilpin--'So am I!'

"Six gentlemen upon the road
Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
With post-boy scamp'ring in the rear,
They raised the hue and cry:--

"'Stop thief! stop thief!--a highwayman!'
Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that passed that way
Did join in the pursuit.

"And now the turnpike gates again
Flew open in short space;
The toll-men thinking, as before,
That Gilpin rode a race."

The rush, and shouting, and clatter are excellently depicted by the
artist; and we, who have been scoffing at his manner of designing
animals, must here make a special exception in favor of the hens and
chickens; each has a different action, and is curiously natural.

Happy are children of all ages who have such a ballad and such
pictures as this in store for them! It is a comfort to think that
woodcuts never wear out, and that the book still may be had for a
shilling, for those who can command that sum of money.

In the "Epping Hunt," which we owe to the facetious pen of Mr. Hood,
our artist has not been so successful. There is here too much
horsemanship and not enough incident for him; but the portrait of
Roundings the huntsman is an excellent sketch, and a couple of the
designs contain great humor. The first represents the Cockney hero,
who, "like a bird, was singing out while sitting on a tree."

And in the second the natural order is reversed. The stag having
taken heart, is hunting the huntsman, and the Cheapside Nimrod is
most ignominiously running away.

The Easter Hunt, we are told, is no more; and as the Quarterly
Review recommends the British public to purchase Mr. Catlin's
pictures, as they form the only record of an interesting race now
rapidly passing away, in like manner we should exhort all our
friends to purchase Mr. Cruikshank's designs of ANOTHER interesting
race, that is run already and for the last time.

Besides these, we must mention, in the line of our duty, the notable
tragedies of "Tom Thumb" and "Bombastes Furioso," both of which have
appeared with many illustrations by Mr. Cruikshank. The "brave
army" of Bombastes exhibits a terrific display of brutal force,
which must shock the sensibilities of an English radical. And we
can well understand the caution of the general, who bids this
soldatesque effrenee to begone, and not to kick up a row.

Such a troop of lawless ruffians let loose upon a populous city
would play sad havoc in it; and we fancy the massacres of Birmingham
renewed, or at least of Badajoz, which, though not quite so
dreadful, if we may believe his Grace the Duke of Wellington, as the
former scenes of slaughter, were nevertheless severe enough: but we
must not venture upon any ill-timed pleasantries in presence of the
disturbed King Arthur and the awful ghost of Gaffer Thumb.

We are thus carried at once into the supernatural, and here we find
Cruikshank reigning supreme. He has invented in his time a little
comic pandemonium, peopled with the most droll, good-natured fiends
possible. We have before us Chamisso's "Peter Schlemihl," with
Cruikshank's designs translated into German, and gaining nothing by
the change. The "Kinder und Hans-Maerchen" of Grimm are likewise
ornamented with a frontispiece copied from that one which appeared
to the amusing version of the English work. The books on Phrenology
and Time have been imitated by the same nation; and even in France,
whither reputation travels slower than to any country except China,
we have seen copies of the works of George Cruikshank.

He in return has complimented the French by illustrating a couple of
Lives of Napoleon, and the "Life in Paris" before mentioned. He has
also made designs for Victor Hugo's "Hans of Iceland." Strange,
wild etchings were those, on a strange, mad subject; not so good in
our notion as the designs for the German books, the peculiar humor
of which latter seemed to suit the artist exactly. There is a
mixture of the awful and the ridiculous in these, which perpetually
excites and keeps awake the reader's attention; the German writer
and the English artist seem to have an entire faith in their
subject. The reader, no doubt, remembers the awful passage in
"Peter Schlemihl," where the little gentleman purchases the shadow
of that hero--"Have the kindness, noble sir, to examine and try this
bag." "He put his hand into his pocket, and drew thence a tolerably
large bag of Cordovan leather, to which a couple of thongs were
fixed. I took it from him, and immediately counted out ten gold
pieces, and ten more, and ten more, and still other ten, whereupon I
held out my hand to him. Done, said I, it is a bargain; you shall
have my shadow for your bag. The bargain was concluded; he knelt
down before me, and I saw him with a wonderful neatness take my
shadow from head to foot, lightly lift it up from the grass, roll
and fold it up neatly, and at last pocket it. He then rose up,
bowed to me once more, and walked away again, disappearing behind
the rose bushes. I don't know, but I thought I heard him laughing a
little. I, however, kept fast hold of the bag. Everything around
me was bright in the sun, and as yet I gave no thought to what I had

This marvellous event, narrated by Peter with such a faithful,
circumstantial detail, is painted by Cruikshank in the most
wonderful poetic way, with that happy mixture of the real and
supernatural that makes the narrative so curious, and like truth.
The sun is shining with the utmost brilliancy in a great quiet park
or garden; there is a palace in the background, and a statue basking
in the sun quite lonely and melancholy; there is a sun-dial, on
which is a deep shadow, and in the front stands Peter Schlemihl, bag
in hand: the old gentleman is down on his knees to him, and has just
lifted off the ground the SHADOW OF ONE LEG; he is going to fold it
back neatly, as one does the tails of a coat, and will stow it,
without any creases or crumples, along with the other black garments
that lie in that immense pocket of his. Cruikshank has designed all
this as if he had a very serious belief in the story; he laughs, to
be sure, but one fancies that he is a little frightened in his
heart, in spite of all his fun and joking.

The German tales we have mentioned before. "The Prince riding on
the Fox," "Hans in Luck," "The Fiddler and his Goose," "Heads off,"
are all drawings which, albeit not before us now, nor seen for ten
years, remain indelibly fixed on the memory. "Heisst du etwa
Rumpelstilzchen?" There sits the Queen on her throne, surrounded by
grinning beef-eaters, and little Rumpelstiltskin stamps his foot
through the floor in the excess of his tremendous despair. In one
of these German tales, if we remember rightly, there is an account
of a little orphan who is carried away by a pitying fairy for a term
of seven years, and passing that period of sweet apprenticeship
among the imps and sprites of fairy-land. Has our artist been among
the same company, and brought back their portraits in his sketch-
book? He is the only designer fairy-land has had. Callot's imps,
for all their strangeness, are only of the earth earthy. Fuseli's
fairies belong to the infernal regions; they are monstrous, lurid,
and hideously melancholy. Mr. Cruikshank alone has had a true
insight into the character of the "little people." They are
something like men and women, and yet not flesh and blood; they are
laughing and mischievous, but why we know not. Mr. Cruikshank,
however, has had some dream or the other, or else a natural
mysterious instinct (as the Seherinn of Prevorst had for beholding
ghosts), or else some preternatural fairy revelation, which has made
him acquainted with the looks and ways of the fantastical subjects
of Oberon and Titania.

We have, unfortunately, no fairy portraits; but, on the other hand,
can descend lower than fairy-land, and have seen some fine specimens
of devils. One has already been raised, and the reader has seen him
tempting a fat Dutch burgomaster, in an ancient gloomy market-place,
such as George Cruikshank can draw as well as Mr. Prout, Mr. Nash,
or any man living. There is our friend once more; our friend the
burgomaster, in a highly excited state, and running as hard as his
great legs will carry him, with our mutual enemy at his tail.

What are the bets; will that long-legged bondholder of a devil come
up with the honest Dutchman? It serves him right: why did he put
his name to stamped paper? And yet we should not wonder if some
lucky chance should turn up in the burgomaster's favor, and his
infernal creditor lose his labor; for one so proverbially cunning as
yonder tall individual with the saucer eyes, it must be confessed
that he has been very often outwitted.

There is, for instance, the case of "The Gentleman in Black," which
has been illustrated by our artist. A young French gentleman, by
name M. Desonge, who, having expended his patrimony in a variety of
taverns and gaming-houses, was one day pondering upon the exhausted
state of his finances, and utterly at a loss to think how he should
provide means for future support, exclaimed, very naturally, "What
the devil shall I do?" He had no sooner spoken than a GENTLEMAN IN
BLACK made his appearance, whose authentic portrait Mr. Cruikshank
has had the honor to paint. This gentleman produced a black-edged
book out of a black bag, some black-edged papers tied up with black
crape, and sitting down familiarly opposite M. Desonge, began
conversing with him on the state of his affairs.

It is needless to state what was the result of the interview. M.
Desonge was induced by the gentleman to sign his name to one of the
black-edged papers, and found himself at the close of the
conversation to be possessed of an unlimited command of capital.
This arrangement completed, the Gentleman in Black posted (in an
extraordinarily rapid manner) from Paris to London, there found a
young English merchant in exactly the same situation in which M.
Desonge had been, and concluded a bargain with the Briton of exactly
the same nature.

The book goes on to relate how these young men spent the money so
miraculously handed over to them, and how both, when the period drew
near that was to witness the performance of THEIR part of the
bargain, grew melancholy, wretched, nay, so absolutely dishonorable
as to seek for every means of breaking through their agreement. The
Englishman living in a country where the lawyers are more astute
than any other lawyers in the world, took the advice of a Mr.
Bagsby, of Lyon's Inn; whose name, as we cannot find it in the "Law
List," we presume to be fictitious. Who could it be that was a
match for the devil? Lord ---- very likely; we shall not give his
name, but let every reader of this Review fill up the blank
according to his own fancy, and on comparing it with the copy
purchased by his neighbors, he will find that fifteen out of twenty
have written down the same honored name.

Well, the Gentleman in Black was anxious for the fulfilment of his
bond. The parties met at Mr. Bagsby's chambers to consult, the
Black Gentleman foolishly thinking that he could act as his own
counsel, and fearing no attorney alive. But mark the superiority of
British law, and see how the black pettifogger was defeated.

Mr. Bagsby simply stated that he would take the case into Chancery,
and his antagonist, utterly humiliated and defeated, refused to move
a step farther in the matter.

And now the French gentleman, M. Desonge, hearing of his friend's
escape, became anxious to be free from his own rash engagements. He
employed the same counsel who had been successful in the former
instance, but the Gentleman in Black was a great deal wiser by this
time, and whether M. Desonge escaped, or whether he is now in that
extensive place which is paved with good intentions, we shall not
say. Those who are anxious to know had better purchase the book
wherein all these interesting matters are duly set down. There is
one more diabolical picture in our budget, engraved by Mr. Thompson,
the same dexterous artist who has rendered the former diableries so

We may mention Mr. Thompson's name as among the first of the
engravers to whom Cruikshank's designs have been entrusted; and next
to him (if we may be allowed to make such arbitrary distinctions) we
may place Mr. Williams; and the reader is not possibly aware of the
immense difficulties to be overcome in the rendering of these little
sketches, which, traced by the designer in a few hours, require
weeks' labor from the engraver. Mr. Cruikshank has not been
educated in the regular schools of drawing (very luckily for him, as
we think), and consequently has had to make a manner for himself,
which is quite unlike that of any other draftsman. There is nothing
in the least mechanical about it; to produce his particular effects
he uses his own particular lines, which are queer, free, fantastical,
and must be followed in all their infinite twists and vagaries by
the careful tool of the engraver. Those three lovely heads, for
instance, imagined out of the rinds of lemons, are worth examining,
not so much for the jovial humor and wonderful variety of feature
exhibited in these darling countenances as for the engraver's part
of the work. See the infinite delicate cross-lines and hatchings
which he is obliged to render; let him go, not a hair's breadth, but
the hundredth part of a hair's breadth, beyond the given line, and
the FEELING of it is ruined. He receives these little dots and
specks, and fantastical quirks of the pencil, and cuts away with a
little knife round each, not too much nor too little. Antonio's
pound of flesh did not puzzle the Jew so much; and so well does the
engraver succeed at last, that we never remember to have met with a
single artist who did not vow that the wood-cutter had utterly
ruined his design.

Of Messrs. Thompson and Williams we have spoken as the first
engravers in point of rank; however, the regulations of professional
precedence are certainly very difficult, and the rest of their
brethren we shall not endeavor to class. Why should the artists who
executed the cuts of the admirable "Three Courses" yield the pas to
any one?

There, for instance, is an engraving by Mr. Landells, nearly as good
in our opinion as the very best woodcut that ever was made after
Cruikshank, and curiously happy in rendering the artist's peculiar
manner: this cut does not come from the facetious publications which
we have consulted; but is a contribution by Mr. Cruikshank to an
elaborate and splendid botanical work upon the Orchidaceae of
Mexico, by Mr. Bateman. Mr. Bateman despatched some extremely
choice roots of this valuable plant to a friend in England, who, on
the arrival of the case, consigned it to his gardener to unpack. A
great deal of anxiety with regard to the contents was manifested by
all concerned, but on the lid of the box being removed, there issued
from it three or four fine specimens of the enormous Blatta beetle
that had been preying upon the plants during the voyage; against
these the gardeners, the grooms, the porters, and the porters'
children, issued forth in arms, and this scene the artist has

We have spoken of the admirable way in which Mr. Cruikshank has
depicted Irish character and Cockney character; English country
character is quite as faithfully delineated in the person of the
stout porteress and her children, and of the "Chawbacon" with the
shovel, on whose face is written "Zummerzetsheer." Chawbacon
appears in another plate, or else Chawbacon's brother. He has come
up to Lunnan, and is looking about him at raaces.

How distinct are these rustics from those whom we have just been
examining! They hang about the purlieus of the metropolis: Brook
Green, Epsom, Greenwich, Ascot, Goodwood, are their haunts. They
visit London professionally once a year, and that is at the time of
Bartholomew fair. How one may speculate upon the different degrees
of rascality, as exhibited in each face of the thimblerigging trio,
and form little histories for these worthies, charming Newgate
romances, such as have been of late the fashion! Is any man so
blind that he cannot see the exact face that is writhing under the
thhnblerigged hero's hat? Like Timanthes of old, our artist
expresses great passions without the aid of the human countenance.
There is another specimen--a street row of inebriated bottles. Is
there any need of having a face after this? "Come on!" says Claret-
bottle, a dashing, genteel fellow, with his hat on one ear--"Come
on! has any man a mind to tap me?" Claret-bottle is a little
screwed (as one may see by his legs), but full of gayety and
courage; not so that stout, apoplectic Bottle-of-rum, who has
staggered against the wall, and has his hand upon his liver: the
fellow hurts himself with smoking, that is clear, and is as sick as
sick can be. See, Port is making away from the storm, and Double X
is as flat as ditch-water. Against these, awful in their white
robes, the sober watchmen come.

Our artist then can cover up faces, and yet show them quite clearly,
as in the thimblerig group; or he can do without faces altogether;
or he can, at a pinch, provide a countenance for a gentleman out of
any given object--a beautiful Irish physiognomy being moulded upon a
keg of whiskey; and a jolly English countenance frothing out of a
pot of ale (the spirit of brave Toby Philpot come back to reanimate
his clay); while in a fungus may be recognized the physiognomy of a
mushroom peer. Finally, if he is at a loss, he can make a living
head, body, and legs out of steel or tortoise-shell, as in the case
of the vivacious pair of spectacles that are jockeying the nose of
Caddy Cuddle.

Of late years Mr. Cruikshank has busied himself very much with steel
engraving, and the consequences of that lucky invention have been,
that his plates are now sold by thousands, where they could only be
produced by hundreds before. He has made many a bookseller's and
author's fortune (we trust that in so doing he may not have
neglected his own). Twelve admirable plates, furnished yearly to
that facetious little publication, the Comic Almanac, have gained
for it a sale, as we hear, of nearly twenty thousand copies. The
idea of the work was novel; there was, in the first number
especially, a great deal of comic power, and Cruikshank's designs
were so admirable that the Almanac at once became a vast favorite
with the public, and has so remained ever since.

Besides the twelve plates, this almanac contains a prophetic
woodcut, accompanying an awful Blarneyhum Astrologicum that appears
in this and other almanacs. There is one that hints in pretty clear
terms that with the Reform of Municipal Corporations the ruin of the
great Lord Mayor of London is at hand. His lordship is meekly going
to dine at an eightpenny ordinary, his giants in pawn, his men in
armor dwindled to "one poor knight," his carriage to be sold, his
stalwart aldermen vanished, his sheriffs, alas! and alas! in gaol!
Another design shows that Rigdum, if a true, is also a moral and
instructive prophet. John Bull is asleep, or rather in a vision;
the cunning demon, Speculation, blowing a thousand bright bubbles
about him. Meanwhile the rooks are busy at his fob, a knave has cut
a cruel hole in his pocket, a rattlesnake has coiled safe round his
feet, and will in a trice swallow Bull, chair, money and all; the
rats are at his corn-bags (as if, poor devil, he had corn to spare);
his faithful dog is bolting his leg-of-mutton--nay, a thief has
gotten hold of his very candle, and there, by way of moral, is his
ale-pot, which looks and winks in his face, and seems to say, O
Bull, all this is froth, and a cruel satirical picture of a certain
rustic who had a goose that laid certain golden eggs, which goose
the rustic slew in expectation of finding all the eggs at once.
This is goose and sage too, to borrow the pun of "learned Doctor
Gill;" but we shrewdly suspect that Mr. Cruikshank is becoming a
little conservative in his notions.

We love these pictures so that it is hard to part us, and we still
fondly endeavor to hold on, but this wild word, farewell, must be
spoken by the best friends at last, and so good-by, brave woodcuts:
we feel quite a sadness in coming to the last of our collection.

In the earlier numbers of the Comic Almanac all the manners and
customs of Londoners that would afford food for fun were noted down;
and if during the last two years the mysterious personage who, under
the title of "Rigdum Funnidos," compiles this ephemeris, has been
compelled to resort to romantic tales, we must suppose that he did
so because the great metropolis was exhausted, and it was necessary
to discover new worlds in the cloud-land of fancy. The character of
Mr. Stubbs, who made his appearance in the Almanac for 1839, had, we
think, great merit, although his adventures were somewhat of too
tragical a description to provoke pure laughter.

We should be glad to devote a few pages to the "Illustratons of
Time," the "Scraps and Sketches," and the "Illustrations of
Phrenology," which are among the most famous of our artist's
publications; but it is very difficult to find new terms of praise,
as find them one must, when reviewing Mr. Cruikshank's publications,
and more difficult still (as the reader of this notice will no doubt
have perceived for himself long since) to translate his design into
words, and go to the printer's box for a description of all that fun
and humor which the artist can produce by a few skilful turns of his
needle. A famous article upon the "Illustrations of Time" appeared
some dozen years since in Blackwood's Magazine, of which the
conductors have always been great admirers of our artist, as became
men of honor and genius. To these grand qualities do not let it be
supposed that we are laying claim, but, thank heaven, Cruikshank's
humor is so good and benevolent that any man must love it, and on
this score we may speak as well as another.

Then there are the "Greenwich Hospital" designs, which must not be
passed over. "Greenwich Hospital" is a hearty, good-natured book,
in the Tom Dibdin school, treating of the virtues of British tars,
in approved nautical language. They maul Frenchmen and Spaniards,
they go out in brigs and take frigates, they relieve women in
distress, and are yard-arm and yard-arming, athwart-hawsing,
marlinspiking, binnacling, and helm's-a-leeing, as honest seamen
invariably do, in novels, on the stage, and doubtless on board ship.
This we cannot take upon us to say, but the artist, like a true
Englishman, as he is, loves dearly these brave guardians of Old
England, and chronicles their rare or fanciful exploits with the
greatest good-will. Let any one look at the noble head of Nelson in
the "Family Library," and they will, we are sure, think with us that
the designer must have felt and loved what he drew. There are to
this abridgment of Southey's admirable book many more cuts after
Cruikshank; and about a dozen pieces by the same hand will be found
in a work equally popular, Lockhart's excellent "Life of Napoleon."
Among these the retreat from Moscow is very fine; the Mamlouks most
vigorous, furious, and barbarous, as they should be. At the end of
these three volumes Mr. Cruikshank's contributions to the "Family
Library" seem suddenly to have ceased.

We are not at all disposed to undervalue the works and genius of Mr.
Dickens, and we are sure that he would admit as readily as any man
the wonderful assistance that he has derived from the artist who has
given us the portraits of his ideal personages, and made them
familiar to all the world. Once seen, these figures remain
impressed on the memory, which otherwise would have had no hold
upon them, and the heroes and heroines of Boz become personal
acquaintances with each of us. Oh, that Hogarth could have
illustrated Fielding in the same way! and fixed down on paper those
grand figures of Parson Adams, and Squire Allworthy, and the great
Jonathan Wild.

With regard to the modern romance of "Jack Sheppard," in which the
latter personage makes a second appearance, it seems to us that Mr.
Cruikshank really created the tale, and that Mr. Ainsworth, as it
were, only put words to it. Let any reader of the novel think over
it for a while, now that it is some months since he has perused and
laid it down--let him think, and tell us what he remembers of the
tale? George Cruikshank's pictures--always George Cruikshank's
pictures. The storm in the Thames, for instance: all the author's
labored description of that event has passed clean away--we have
only before the mind's eye the fine plates of Cruikshank: the poor
wretch cowering under the bridge arch, as the waves come rushing in,
and the boats are whirling away in the drift of the great swollen
black waters. And let any man look at that second plate of the
murder on the Thames, and he must acknowledge how much more
brilliant the artist's description is than the writer's, and what a
real genius for the terrible as well as for the ridiculous the
former has; how awful is the gloom of the old bridge, a few lights
glimmering from the houses here and there, but not so as to be
reflected on the water at all, which is too turbid and raging: a
great heavy rack of clouds goes sweeping over the bridge, and men
with flaring torches, the murderers, are borne away with the stream.

The author requires many pages to describe the fury of the storm,
which Mr. Cruikshank has represented in one. First, he has to
prepare you with the something inexpressibly melancholy in sailing
on a dark night upon the Thames: "the ripple of the water," "the
darkling current," "the indistinctively seen craft," "the solemn
shadows" and other phenomena visible on rivers at night are detailed
(with not unskilful rhetoric) in order to bring the reader into a
proper frame of mind for the deeper gloom and horror which is to
ensue. Then follow pages of description. "As Rowland sprang to the
helm, and gave the signal for pursuit, a war like a volley of
ordnance was heard aloft, and the wind again burst its bondage. A
moment before the surface of the stream was as black as ink. It was
now whitening, hissing, and seething, like an enormous caldron. The
blast once more swept over the agitated river, whirled off the
sheets of foam, scattered them far and wide in rain-drops, and left
the raging torrent blacker than before. Destruction everywhere
marked the course of the gale. Steeples toppled and towers reeled
beneath its fury. All was darkness, horror, confusion, ruin. Men
fled from their tottering habitations and returned to them, scared
by greater danger. The end of the world seemed at hand. . . . The
hurricane had now reached its climax. The blast shrieked, as if
exulting in its wrathful mission. Stunning and continuous, the din
seemed almost to take away the power of hearing. He who had faced
the gale WOULD HAVE BEEN INSTANTLY STIFLED," &c. &c. See with what
a tremendous war of words (and good loud words too; Mr. Ainsworth's
description is a good and spirited one) the author is obliged to
pour in upon the reader before he can effect his purpose upon the
latter, and inspire him with a proper terror. The painter does it
at a glance, and old Wood's dilemma in the midst of that tremendous
storm, with the little infant at his bosom, is remembered
afterwards, not from the words, but from the visible image of them
that the artist has left us.

It would not, perhaps, be out of place to glance through the whole
of the "Jack Sheppard" plates, which are among the most finished and
the most successful of Mr. Cruikshank's performances, and say a word
or two concerning them. Let us begin with finding fault with No. 1,
"Mr. Wood offers to adopt little Jack Sheppard." A poor print, on a
poor subject; the figure of the woman not as carefully designed as
it might be, and the expression of the eyes (not an uncommon fault
with our artist) much caricatured. The print is cut up, to use the
artist's phrase, by the number of accessories which the engraver has
thought proper, after the author's elaborate description, elaborately
to reproduce. The plate of "Wild discovering Darrell in the
loft" is admirable--ghastly, terrible, and the treatment of it
extraordinarily skilful, minute, and bold. The intricacies of the
tile-work, and the mysterious twinkling of light among the beams,
are excellently felt and rendered; and one sees here, as in the two
next plates of the storm and murder, what a fine eye the artist has,
what a skilful hand, and what a sympathy for the wild and dreadful.
As a mere imitation of nature, the clouds and the bridge in the
murder picture may be examined by painters who make far higher
pretensions than Mr. Cruikshank. In point of workmanship they are
equally good, the manner quite unaffected, the effect produced
without any violent contrast, the whole scene evidently well and
philosophically arranged in the artist's brain, before he began to
put it upon copper.

The famous drawing of "Jack carving the name on the beam," which has
been transferred to half the play-bills in town, is overloaded with
accessories, as the first plate; but they are much better arranged
than in the last-named engraving, and do not injure the effect of
the principal figure. Remark, too, the conscientiousness of the
artist, and that shrewd pervading idea of FORM which is one of his
principal characteristics. Jack is surrounded by all sorts of
implements of his profession; he stands on a regular carpenter's
table: away in the shadow under it lie shavings and a couple of
carpenter's hampers. The glue-pot, the mallet, the chisel-handle,
the planes, the saws, the hone with its cover, and the other
paraphernalia are all represented with extraordinary accuracy and
forethought. The man's mind has retained the exact DRAWING of all
these minute objects (unconsciously perhaps to himself), but we can
see with what keen eyes he must go through the world, and what a
fund of facts (as such a knowledge of the shape of objects is in his
profession) this keen student of nature has stored away in his
brain. In the next plate, where Jack is escaping from his mistress,
the figure of that lady, one of the deepest of the [Greek text
omitted], strikes us as disagreeable and unrefined; that of Winifred
is, on the contrary, very pretty and graceful; and Jack's puzzled,
slinking look must not be forgotten. All the accessories are good,
and the apartment has a snug, cosy air; which is not remarkable,
except that it shows how faithfully the designer has performed his
work, and how curiously he has entered into all the particulars of
the subject.

Master Thames Darrell, the handsome young man of the book, is, in
Mr. Cruikshank's portraits of him, no favorite of ours. The lad
seems to wish to make up for the natural insignificance of his face
by frowning on all occasions most portentously. This figure,
borrowed from the compositor's desk, will give a notion of what we
mean. Wild's face is too violent for the great man of history (if
we may call Fielding history), but this is in consonance with the
ranting, frowning, braggadocio character that Mr. Ainsworth has
given him.

The "Interior of Willesden Church" is excellent as a composition,
and a piece of artistical workmanship; the groups are well arranged;
and the figure of Mrs. Sheppard looking round alarmed, as her son is
robbing the dandy Kneebone, is charming, simple, and unaffected.
Not so "Mrs. Sheppard ill in bed," whose face is screwed up to an
expression vastly too tragic. The little glimpse of the church seen
through the open door of the room is very beautiful and poetical: it
is in such small hints that an artist especially excels; they are
the morals which he loves to append to his stories, and are always
appropriate and welcome. The boozing ken is not to our liking; Mrs.
Sheppard is there with her horrified eyebrows again. Why this
exaggeration--is it necessary for the public? We think not, or if
they require such excitement, let our artist, like a true painter as
he is, teach them better things.*

* A gentleman (whose wit is so celebrated that one should be very
cautious in repeating his stories) gave the writer a good
illustration of the philosophy of exaggeration. Mr. ---- was once
behind the scenes at the Opera when the scene-shifters were
preparing for the ballet. Flora was to sleep under a bush, whereon
were growing a number of roses, and amidst which was fluttering a
gay covey of butterflies. In size the roses exceeded the most
expansive sunflowers, and the butterflies were as large as cocked
hats;--the scene-shifter explained to Mr. ----, who asked the reason
why everything was so magnified, that the galleries could never see
the objects unless they were enormously exaggerated. How many of
our writers and designers work for the galleries?

The "Escape from Willesden Cage" is excellent; the "Burglary in
Wood's house" has not less merit; "Mrs. Sheppard in Bedlam," a
ghastly picture indeed, is finely conceived, but not, as we fancy,
so carefully executed; it would be better for a little more careful
drawing in the female figure.

"Jack sitting for his picture" is a very pleasing group, and savors
of the manner of Hogarth, who is introduced in the company. The
"Murder of Trenchard" must be noticed too as remarkable for the
effect and terrible vigor which the artist has given to the scene.
The "Willesden Churchyard" has great merit too, but the gems of the
book are the little vignettes illustrating the escape from Newgate.
Here, too, much anatomical care of drawing is not required; the
figures are so small that the outline and attitude need only to be
indicated, and the designer has produced a series of figures quite
remarkable for reality and poetry too. There are no less than ten
of Jack's feats so described by Mr. Cruikshank. (Let us say a word
here in praise of the excellent manner in which the author has
carried us through the adventure.) Here is Jack clattering up the
chimney, now peering into the lonely red room, now opening "the door
between the red room and the chapel." What a wild, fierce, scared
look he has, the young ruffian, as cautiously he steps in, holding
light his bar of iron. You can see by his face how his heart is
beating! If any one were there! but no! And this is a very fine
characteristic of the prints, the extreme LONELINESS of them all.
Not a soul is there to disturb him--woe to him who should--and Jack
drives in the chapel gate, and shatters down the passage door, and
there you have him on the leads. Up he goes! it is but a spring of
a few feet from the blanket, and he is gone--abiit, evasit, erupit!
Mr. Wild must catch him again if he can.

We must not forget to mention "Oliver Twist," and Mr. Cruikshank's
famous designs to that work.* The sausage scene at Fagin's, Nancy
seizing the boy; that capital piece of humor, Mr. Bumble's
courtship, which is even better in Cruikshank's version than in
Boz's exquisite account of the interview; Sykes's farewell to the
dog; and the Jew,--the dreadful Jew--that Cruikshank drew! What a
fine touching picture of melancholy desolation is that of Sykes and
the dog! The poor cur is not too well drawn, the landscape is stiff
and formal; but in this case the faults, if faults they be, of
execution rather add to than diminish the effect of the picture: it
has a strange, wild, dreary, broken-hearted look; we fancy we see
the landscape as it must have appeared to Sykes, when ghastly and
with bloodshot eyes he looked at it. As for the Jew in the dungeon,
let us say nothing of it--what can we say to describe it? What a
fine homely poet is the man who can produce this little world of
mirth or woe for us! Does he elaborate his effects by slow process
of thought, or do they come to him by instinct? Does the painter
ever arrange in his brain an image so complete, that he afterwards
can copy it exactly on the canvas, or does the hand work in spite of

* Or his new work, "The Tower of London," which promises even to
surpass Mr. Cruikshank's former productions.

A great deal of this random work of course every artist has done in
his time; many men produce effects of which they never dreamed, and
strike off excellences, haphazard, which gain for them reputation;
but a fine quality in Mr. Cruikshank, the quality of his success, as
we have said before, is the extraordinary earnestness and good faith
with which he executes all he attempts--the ludicrous, the polite,
the low, the terrible. In the second of these he often, in our
fancy, fails, his figures lacking elegance and descending to
caricature; but there is something fine in this too: it is good that
he SHOULD fail, that he should have these honest naive notions
regarding the beau monde, the characteristics of which a namby-pamby
tea-party painter could hit off far better than he. He is a great
deal too downright and manly to appreciate the flimsy delicacies of
small society--you cannot expect a lion to roar you like any sucking
dove, or frisk about a drawing-room like a lady's little spaniel.

If then, in the course of his life and business, he has been
occasionally obliged to imitate the ways of such small animals, he
has done so, let us say it at once, clumsily, and like as a lion
should. Many artists, we hear, hold his works rather cheap; they
prate about bad drawing, want of scientific knowledge:--they would
have something vastly more neat, regular, anatomical.

Not one of the whole band most likely but can paint an Academy
figure better than himself; nay, or a portrait of an alderman's lady
and family of children. But look down the list of the painters and
tell us who are they? How many among these men are POETS (makers),
possessing the faculty to create, the greatest among the gifts with
which Providence has endowed the mind of man? Say how many there
are, count up what they have done, and see what in the course of
some nine-and-twenty years has been done by this indefatigable man.

What amazing energetic fecundity do we find in him! As a boy he
began to fight for bread, has been hungry (twice a day we trust)
ever since, and has been obliged to sell his wit for his bread week
by week. And his wit, sterling gold as it is, will find no such
purchasers as the fashionable painter's thin pinchbeck, who can live
comfortably for six weeks, when paid for and painting a portrait,
and fancies his mind prodigiously occupied all the while. There was
an artist in Paris, an artist hairdresser, who used to be fatigued
and take restoratives after inventing a new coiffure. By no such
gentle operation of head-dressing has Cruikshank lived: time was (we
are told so in print) when for a picture with thirty heads in it he
was paid three guineas--a poor week's pittance truly, and a dire
week's labor. We make no doubt that the same labor would at present
bring him twenty times the sum; but whether it be ill paid or well,
what labor has Mr. Cruikshank's been! Week by week, for thirty
years, to produce something new; some smiling offspring of painful
labor, quite independent and distinct from its ten thousand jovial
brethren; in what hours of sorrow and ill-health to be told by the
world, "Make us laugh or you starve--Give us fresh fun; we have
eaten up the old and are hungry. And all this has he been obliged
to do--to wring laughter day by day, sometimes, perhaps, out of
want, often certainly from ill-health or depression--to keep the
fire of his brain perpetually alight: for the greedy public will
give it no leisure to cool. This he has done and done well. He has
told a thousand truths in as many strange and fascinating ways; he
has given a thousand new and pleasant thoughts to millions of
people; he has never used his wit dishonestly; he has never, in all
the exuberance of his frolicsome humor, caused a single painful or
guilty blush: how little do we think of the extraordinary power of
this man, and how ungrateful we are to him!

Here, as we are come round to the charge of ingratitude, the
starting-post from which we set out, perhaps we had better conclude.
The reader will perhaps wonder at the high-flown tone in which we
speak of the services and merits of an individual, whom he considers
a humble scraper on steel, that is wonderfully popular already. But
none of us remember all the benefits we owe him; they have come one
by one, one driving out the memory of the other: it is only when we
come to examine them all together, as the writer has done, who has a
pile of books on the table before him--a heap of personal kindnesses
from George Cruikshank (not presents, if you please, for we bought,
borrowed, or stole every one of them)--that we feel what we owe him.
Look at one of Mr. Cruikshank's works, and we pronounce him an
excellent humorist. Look at all: his reputation is increased by a
kind of geometrical progression; as a whole diamond is a hundred
times more valuable than the hundred splinters into which it might
be broken would be. A fine rough English diamond is this about
which we have been writing.

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