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John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character by William Makepeace Thackeray

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

John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character

by William Makepeace Thackeray

* Reprinted from the Quarterly Review, No. 191, Dec. 1854, by
permission of Mr. John Murray.

We, who can recall the consulship of Plancus, and quite respectable,
old-fogyfied times, remember amongst other amusements which we had
as children the pictures at which we were permitted to look. There
was Boydell's Shakspeare, black and ghastly gallery of murky Opies,
glum Northcotes, straddling Fuselis! there were Lear, Oberon,
Hamlet, with starting muscles, rolling eyeballs, and long pointing
quivering fingers; there was little Prince Arthur (Northcote)
crying, in white satin, and bidding good Hubert not put out his
eyes; there was Hubert crying; there was little Rutland being run
through the poor little body by bloody Clifford; there was Cardinal
Beaufort (Reynolds) gnashing his teeth, and grinning and howling
demoniacally on his death-bed (a picture frightful to the present
day); there was Lady Hamilton (Romney) waving a torch, and dancing
before a black background,--a melancholy museum indeed. Smirke's
delightful "Seven Ages" only fitfully relieved its general gloom.
We did not like to inspect it unless the elders were present, and
plenty of lights and company were in the room.

Cheerful relatives used to treat us to Miss Linwood's. Let the
children of the present generation thank their stars THAT tragedy is
put out of their way. Miss Linwood's was worsted-work. Your
grandmother or grandaunts took you there and said the pictures were
admirable. You saw "the Woodman" in worsted, with his axe and dog,
trampling through the snow; the snow bitter cold to look at, the
woodman's pipe wonderful: a gloomy piece, that made you shudder.
There were large dingy pictures of woollen martyrs, and scowling
warriors with limbs strongly knitted; there was especially, at the
end of a black passage, a den of lions, that would frighten any boy
not born in Africa, or Exeter 'Change, and accustomed to them.

Another exhibition used to be West's Gallery, where the pleasing
figures of Lazarus in his grave-clothes, and Death on the pale
horse, used to impress us children. The tombs of Westminster Abbey,
the vaults at St. Paul's, the men in armor at the Tower, frowning
ferociously out of their helmets, and wielding their dreadful
swords; that superhuman Queen Elizabeth at the end of the room, a
livid sovereign with glass eyes, a ruff, and a dirty satin
petticoat, riding a horse covered with steel: who does not remember
these sights in London in the consulship of Plancus? and the wax-
work in Fleet Street, not like that of Madame Tussaud's, whose
chamber of death is gay and brilliant; but a nice old gloomy wax-
work, full of murderers; and as a chief attraction, the Dead Baby
and the Princess Charlotte lying in state?

Our story-books had no pictures in them for the most part. Frank
(dear old Frank!) had none; nor the "Parent's Assistant;" nor the
"Evenings at Home;" nor our copy of the "Ami des Enfans:" there were
a few just at the end of the Spelling-Book; besides the allegory at
the beginning, of Education leading up Youth to the temple of
Industry, where Dr. Dilworth and Professor Walkinghame stood with
crowns of laurel. There were, we say, just a few pictures at the
end of the Spelling-Book, little oval gray woodcuts of Bewick's,
mostly of the Wolf and the Lamb, the Dog and the Shadow, and Brown,
Jones, and Robinson with long ringlets and little tights; but for
pictures, so to speak, what had we? The rough old wood-blocks in
the old harlequin-backed fairy-books had served hundreds of years;
before OUR Plancus, in the time of Priscus Plancus--in Queen Anne's
time, who knows? We were flogged at school; we were fifty boys in
our boarding-house, and had to wash in a leaden trough, under a
cistern, with lumps of fat yellow soap floating about in the ice and
water. Are OUR sons ever flogged? Have they not dressing-rooms,
hair-oil, hip-baths, and Baden towels? And what picture-books the
young villains have! What have these children done that they should
be so much happier than we were?

We had the "Arabian Nights" and Walter Scott, to be sure. Smirke's
illustrations to the former are very fine. We did not know how good
they were then; but we doubt whether we did not prefer the little
old "Miniature Library Nights" with frontispieces by Uwins; for
THESE books the pictures don't count. Every boy of imagination does
his own pictures to Scott and the "Arabian Nights" best.

Of funny pictures there were none especially intended for us
children. There was Rowlandson's "Doctor Syntax": Doctor Syntax in
a fuzz-wig, on a horse with legs like sausages, riding races, making
love, frolicking with rosy exuberant damsels. Those pictures were
very funny, and that aquatinting and the gay-colored plates very
pleasant to witness; but if we could not read the poem in those
days, could we digest it in this? Nevertheless, apart from the text
which we could not master, we remember Doctor Syntax pleasantly,
like those cheerful painted hieroglyphics in the Nineveh Court at
Sydenham. What matter for the arrow-head, illegible stuff? give us
the placid grinning kings, twanging their jolly bows over their
rident horses, wounding those good-humored enemies, who tumble gayly
off the towers, or drown, smiling, in the dimpling waters, amidst
the anerithmon gelasma of the fish.

After Doctor Syntax, the apparition of Corinthian Tom, Jerry
Hawthorn, and the facetious Bob Logic must be recorded--a wondrous
history indeed theirs was! When the future student of our manners
comes to look over the pictures and the writing of these queer
volumes, what will he think of our society, customs, and language in
the consulship of Plancus? "Corinthian," it appears, was the phrase
applied to men of fashion and ton in Plancus's time: they were the
brilliant predecessors of the "swell" of the present period--
brilliant, but somewhat barbarous, it must be confessed. The
Corinthians were in the habit of drinking a great deal too much in
Tom Cribb's parlor: they used to go and see "life" in the gin-shops;
of nights, walking home (as well as they could), they used to knock
down "Charleys," poor harmless old watchmen with lanterns, guardians
of the streets of Rome, Planco Consule. They perpetrated a vast
deal of boxing; they put on the "mufflers" in Jackson's rooms; they
"sported their prads" in the Ring in the Park; they attended cock-
fights, and were enlightened patrons of dogs and destroyers of rats.
Besides these sports, the delassemens of gentlemen mixing with the
people, our patricians, of course, occasionally enjoyed the society
of their own class. What a wonderful picture that used to be of
Corinthian Tom dancing with Corinthian Kate at Almack's! What a
prodigious dress Kate wore! With what graceful ABANDON the pair
flung their arms about as they swept through the mazy quadrille,
with all the noblemen standing round in their stars and uniforms!
You may still, doubtless, see the pictures at the British Museum, or
find the volumes in the corner of some old country-house library.
You are led to suppose that the English aristocracy of 1820 DID
dance and caper in that way, and box and drink at Tom Cribb's, and
knock down watchmen; and the children of to-day, turning to their
elders, may say "Grandmamma, did you wear such a dress as that, when
you danced at Almack's? There was very little of it, grandmamma.
Did grandpapa kill many watchmen when he was a young man, and
frequent thieves' gin-shops, cock-fights, and the ring, before you
married him? Did he use to talk the extraordinary slang and jargon
which is printed in this book? He is very much changed. He seems a
gentlemanly old boy enough now."

In the above-named consulate, when WE had grandfathers alive, there
would be in the old gentleman's library in the country two or three
old mottled portfolios, or great swollen scrap-books of blue paper,
full of the comic prints of grandpapa's time, ere Plancus ever had
the fasces borne before him. These prints were signed Gilray,
Bunbury, Rowlandson, Woodward, and some actually George Cruikshank--
for George is a veteran now, and he took the etching needle in hand
as a child. He caricatured "Boney," borrowing not a little from
Gilray in his first puerile efforts. He drew Louis XVIII. trying on
Boney's boots. Before the century was actually in its teens we
believe that George Cruikshank was amusing the public.

In those great colored prints in our grandfathers' portfolios in the
library, and in some other apartments of the house, where the
caricatures used to be pasted in those days, we found things quite
beyond our comprehension. Boney was represented as a fierce dwarf,
with goggle eyes, a huge laced hat and tricolored plume, a crooked
sabre, reeking with blood: a little demon revelling in lust, murder,
massacre. John Bull was shown kicking him a good deal: indeed he
was prodigiously kicked all through that series of pictures; by
Sidney Smith and our brave allies the gallant Turks; by the
excellent and patriotic Spaniards; by the amiable and indignant
Russians,--all nations had boots at the service of poor Master
Boney. How Pitt used to defy him! How good old George, King of
Brobdingnag, laughed at Gulliver-Boney, sailing about in his tank to
make sport for their Majesties! This little fiend, this beggar's
brat, cowardly, murderous, and atheistic as he was (we remember, in
those old portfolios, pictures representing Boney and his family in
rags, gnawing raw bones in a Corsican hut; Boney murdering the sick
at Jaffa; Boney with a hookah and a large turban, having adopted the
Turkish religion, &c.)--this Corsican monster, nevertheless, had
some devoted friends in England, according to the Gilray chronicle,--
a set of villains who loved atheism, tyranny, plunder, and
wickedness in general, like their French friend. In the pictures
these men were all represented as dwarfs, like their ally. The
miscreants got into power at one time, and, if we remember right,
were called the Broad-backed Administration. One with shaggy
eyebrows and a bristly beard, the hirsute ringleader of the rascals,
was, it appears, called Charles James Fox; another miscreant, with a
blotched countenance, was a certain Sheridan; other imps were hight
Erskine, Norfolk (Jockey of), Moira, Henry Petty. As in our
childish, innocence we used to look at these demons, now sprawling
and tipsy in their cups; now scaling heaven, from which the angelic
Pitt hurled them down; now cursing the light (their atrocious
ringleader Fox was represented with hairy cloven feet, and a tail
and horns); now kissing Boney's boot, but inevitably discomfited by
Pitt and the other good angels: we hated these vicious wretches, as
good children should; we were on the side of Virtue and Pitt and
Grandpapa. But if our sisters wanted to look at the portfolios, the
good old grandfather used to hesitate. There were some prints among
them very odd indeed; some that girls could not understand; some
that boys, indeed, had best not see. We swiftly turn over those
prohibited pages. How many of them there were in the wild, coarse,
reckless, ribald, generous book of old English humor!

How savage the satire was--how fierce the assault--what garbage
hurled at opponents--what foul blows were hit--what language of
Billingsgate flung! Fancy a party in a country-house now looking
over Woodward's facetiae or some of the Gilray comicalities, or the
slatternly Saturnalia of Rowlandson! Whilst we live we must laugh,
and have folks to make us laugh. We cannot afford to lose Satyr
with his pipe and dances and gambols. But we have washed, combed,
clothed, and taught the rogue good manners: or rather, let us say,
he has learned them himself; for he is of nature soft and kindly,
and he has put aside his mad pranks and tipsy habits; and,
frolicsome always, has become gentle and harmless, smitten into
shame by he pure presence of our women and the sweet confiding
smiles of our children. Among the veterans, the old pictorial
satirists, we have mentioned the famous name of one humorous
designer who is still alive and at work. Did we not see, by his own
hand, his own portrait of his own famous face, and whiskers, in the
Illustrated London News the other day? There was a print in that
paper of an assemblage of Teetotalers in "Sadler's Wells Theatre,"
and we straightway recognized the old Roman hand--the old Roman's of
the time of Plancus--George Cruikshank's. There were the old
bonnets and droll faces and shoes, and short trousers, and figures
of 1820 sure enough. And there was George (who has taken to the
water-doctrine, as all the world knows) handing some teetotal
cresses over a plank to the table where the pledge was being
administered. How often has George drawn that picture of
Cruikshank! Where haven't we seen it? How fine it was, facing the
effigy of Mr. Ainsworth in Ainsworth's Magazine when George
illustrated that periodical! How grand and severe he stands in that
design in G. C.'s "Omnibus," where he represents himself tonged like
St. Dunstan, and tweaking a wretch of a publisher by the nose! The
collectors of George's etchings--oh the charming etchings!--oh the
dear old "German Popular Tales!"--the capital "Points of Humor"--the
delightful "Phrenology" and "Scrap-books," of the good time, OUR
time--Plancus's in fact!--the collectors of the Georgian etchings,
we say, have at least a hundred pictures of the artist. Why, we
remember him in his favorite Hessian boots in "Tom and Jerry"
itself; and in woodcuts as far back as the Queen's trial. He has
rather deserted satire and comedy of late years, having turned his
attention to the serious, and warlike, and sublime. Having
confessed our age and prejudices, we prefer the comic and fanciful
to the historic, romantic, and at present didactic George. May
respect, and length of days, and comfortable repose attend the
brave, honest, kindly, pure-minded artist, humorist, moralist! It
was he first who brought English pictorial humor and children
acquainted. Our young people and their fathers and mothers owe him
many a pleasant hour and harmless laugh. Is there no way in which
the country could acknowledge the long services and brave career of
such a friend and benefactor?

Since George's time humor has been converted. Comus and his wicked
satyrs and leering fauns have disappeared, and fled into the lowest
haunts; and Comus's lady (if she had a taste for humor, which may be
doubted) might take up our funny picture-books without the slightest
precautionary squeamishness. What can be purer than the charming
fancies of Richard Doyle? In all Mr. Punch's huge galleries can't
we walk as safely as through Miss Pinkerton's schoolrooms? And as
we look at Mr. Punch's pictures, at the Illustrated News pictures,
at all the pictures in the book-shop windows at this Christmas
season, as oldsters, we feel a certain pang of envy against the
youngsters--they are too well off. Why hadn't WE picture-books?
Why were we flogged so? A plague on the lictors and their rods in
the time of Plancus!

And now, after this rambling preface, we are arrived at the subject
in hand--Mr. John Leech and his "Pictures of Life and Character," in
the collection of Mr. Punch. This book is better than plum-cake at
Christmas. It is an enduring plum-cake, which you may eat and which
you may slice and deliver to your friends; and to which, having cut
it, you may come again and welcome, from year's end to year's end.
In the frontispiece you see Mr. Punch examining the pictures in his
gallery--a portly, well-dressed, middle-aged, respectable gentleman,
in a white neck-cloth, and a polite evening costume--smiling in a
very bland and agreeable manner upon one of his pleasant drawings,
taken out of one of his handsome portfolios. Mr. Punch has very
good reason to smile at the work and be satisfied with the artist.
Mr. Leech, his chief contributor, and some kindred humorists, with
pencil and pen have served Mr. Punch admirably. Time was, if we
remember Mr. P.'s history rightly, that he did not wear silk
stockings nor well-made clothes (the little dorsal irregularity in
his figure is almost an ornament now, so excellent a tailor has he).
He was of humble beginnings. It is said he kept a ragged little
booth, which he put up at corners of streets; associated with
beadles, policemen, his own ugly wife (whom he treated most
scandalously), and persons in a low station of life; earning a
precarious livelihood by the cracking of wild jokes, the singing of
ribald songs, and halfpence extorted from passers-by. He is the
Satyric genius we spoke of anon: he cracks his jokes still, for
satire must live; but he is combed, washed, neatly clothed, and
perfectly presentable. He goes into the very best company; he keeps
a stud at Melton; he has a moor in Scotland; he rides in the Park;
has his stall at the Opera; is constantly dining out at clubs and in
private society; and goes every night in the season to balls and
parties, where you see the most beautiful women possible. He is
welcomed amongst his new friends the great; though, like the good
old English gentleman of the song, he does not forget the small. He
pats the heads of street boys and girls; relishes the jokes of Jack
the costermonger and Bob the dustman; good-naturedly spies out Molly
the cook flirting with policeman X, or Mary the nursemaid as she
listens to the fascinating guardsman. He used rather to laugh at
guardsmen, "plungers," and other military men; and was until latter
days very contemptuous in his behavior towards Frenchmen. He has a
natural antipathy to pomp, and swagger, and fierce demeanor. But
now that the guardsmen are gone to war, and the dandies of "The
Rag"--dandies no more--are battling like heroes at Balaklava and
Inkermann* by the side of their heroic allies, Mr. Punch's laughter
is changed to hearty respect and enthusiasm. It is not against
courage and honor he wars: but this great moralist--must it be
owned?--has some popular British prejudices, and these led him in
peace time to laugh at soldiers and Frenchmen. If those hulking
footmen who accompanied the carriages to the opening of Parliament
the other day, would form a plush brigade, wear only gunpowder in
their hair, and strike with their great canes on the enemy, Mr.
Punch would leave off laughing at Jeames, who meanwhile remains
among us, to all outward appearance regardless of satire, and calmly
consuming his five meals per diem. Against lawyers, beadles,
bishops and clergy, and authorities, Mr. Punch is still rather
bitter. At the time of the Papal aggression he was prodigiously
angry; and one of the chief misfortunes which happened to him at
that period was that, through the violent opinions which he
expressed regarding the Roman Catholic hierarchy, he lost the
invaluable services, the graceful pencil, the harmless wit, the
charming fancy of Mr. Doyle. Another member of Mr. Punch's cabinet,
the biographer of Jeames, the author of the "Snob Papers," resigned
his functions on account of Mr. Punch's assaults upon the present
Emperor of the French nation, whose anger Jeames thought it was
unpatriotic to arouse. Mr. Punch parted with these contributors: he
filled their places with others as good. The boys at the railroad
stations cried Punch just as cheerily, and sold just as many
numbers, after these events as before.

* This was written in 1854.

There is no blinking the fact that in Mr. Punch's cabinet John Leech
is the right-hand man. Fancy a number of Punch without Leech's
pictures! What would you give for it? The learned gentlemen who
write the work must feel that, without him, it were as well left
alone. Look at the rivals whom the popularity of Punch has brought
into the field; the direct imitators of Mr. Leech's manner--the
artists with a manner of their own--how inferior their pencils are
to his in humor, in depicting the public manners, in arresting,
amusing the nation. The truth, the strength, the free vigor, the
kind humor, the John Bull pluck and spirit of that hand are
approached by no competitor. With what dexterity he draws a horse,
a woman, a child! He feels them all, so to speak, like a man. What
plump young beauties those are with which Mr. Punch's chief
contributor supplies the old gentleman's pictorial harem! What
famous thews and sinews Mr. Punch's horses have, and how Briggs, on
the back of them, scampers across country! You see youth, strength,
enjoyment, manliness in those drawings, and in none more so, to our
thinking, than in the hundred pictures of children which this artist
loves to design. Like a brave, hearty, good-natured Briton, he
becomes quite soft and tender with the little creatures, pats gently
their little golden heads, and watches with unfailing pleasure their
ways, their sports, their jokes, laughter, caresses. Enfans
terribles come home from Eton; young Miss practising her first
flirtation; poor little ragged Polly making dirt-pies in the gutter,
or staggering under the weight of Jacky, her nursechild, who is as
big as herself--all these little ones, patrician and plebeian, meet
with kindness from this kind heart, and are watched with curious
nicety by this amiable observer.

We remember, in one of those ancient Gilray portfolios, a print
which used to cause a sort of terror in us youthful spectators, and
in which the Prince of Wales (his Royal Highness was a Foxite then)
was represented as sitting alone in a magnificent hall after a
voluptuous meal, and using a great steel fork in the guise of a
toothpick. Fancy the first young gentleman living employing such a
weapon in such a way! The most elegant Prince of Europe engaged
with a two-pronged iron fork--the heir of Britannia with a BIDENT!
The man of genius who drew that picture saw little of the society
which he satirized and amused. Gilray watched public characters as
they walked by the shop in St. James's Street, or passed through the
lobby of the House of Commons. His studio was a garret, or little
better; his place of amusement a tavern-parlor, where his club held
its nightly sittings over their pipes and sanded floor. You could
not have society represented by men to whom it was not familiar.
When Gavarni came to England a few years since--one of the wittiest
of men, one of the most brilliant and dexterous of draughtsmen--he
published a book of "Les Anglais," and his Anglais were all
Frenchmen. The eye, so keen and so long practised to observe
Parisian life, could not perceive English character. A social
painter must be of the world which he depicts, and native to the
manners which he portrays.

Now, any one who looks over Mr. Leech's portfolio must see that the
social pictures which he gives us are authentic. What comfortable
little drawing-rooms and dining-rooms, what snug libraries we enter;
what fine young-gentlemanly wags they are, those beautiful little
dandies who wake up gouty old grandpapa to ring the bell; who
decline aunt's pudding and custards, saying that they will reserve
themselves for an anchovy toast with the claret; who talk together
in ball-room doors, where Fred whispers Charley--pointing to a dear
little partner seven years old--"My dear Charley, she has very much
gone off; you should have seen that girl last season!" Look well at
everything appertaining to the economy of the famous Mr. Briggs:
how snug, quiet, appropriate all the appointments are! What a
comfortable, neat, clean, middle-class house Briggs's is (in the
Bayswater suburb of London, we should guess from the sketches of the
surrounding scenery)! What a good stable he has, with a loose box
for those celebrated hunters which he rides! How pleasant, clean,
and warm his breakfast-table looks! What a trim little maid brings
in the top-boots which horrify Mrs. B! What a snug dressing-room he
has, complete in all its appointments, and in which he appears
trying on the delightful hunting-cap which Mrs. Briggs flings into
the fire! How cosy all the Briggs party seem in their dining-room:
Briggs reading a Treatise on Dog-breaking by a lamp; Mamma and
Grannie with their respective needleworks; the children clustering
round a great book of prints--a great book of prints such as this
before us, which, at this season, must make thousands of children
happy by as many firesides! The inner life of all these people is
represented: Leech draws them as naturally as Teniers depicts Dutch
boors, or Morland pigs and stables. It is your house and mine: we
are looking at everybody's family circle. Our boys coming from
school give themselves such airs, the young scapegraces! our girls,
going to parties, are so tricked out by fond mammas--a social
history of London in the middle of the nineteenth century. As such,
future students--lucky they to have a book so pleasant--will regard
these pages: even the mutations of fashion they may follow here if
they be so inclined. Mr. Leech has as fine an eye for tailory and
millinery as for horse-flesh. How they change those cloaks and
bonnets. How we have to pay milliners' bills from year to year!
Where are those prodigious chatelaines of 1850 which no lady could
be without? Where those charming waistcoats, those "stunning"
waistcoats, which our young girls used to wear a few brief seasons
back, and which cause 'Gus, in the sweet little sketch of "La Mode,"
to ask Ellen for her tailor's address. 'Gus is a young warrior by
this time, very likely facing the enemy at Inkerman; and pretty
Ellen, and that love of a sister of hers, are married and happy, let
us hope, superintending one of those delightful nursery scenes which
our artist depicts with such tender humor. Fortunate artist,
indeed! You see he must have been bred at a good public school;
that he has ridden many a good horse in his day; paid, no doubt, out
of his own purse for the originals of some of those lovely caps and
bonnets; and watched paternally the ways, smiles, frolics, and
slumbers of his favorite little people.

As you look at the drawings, secrets come out of them,--private
jokes, as it were, imparted to you by the author for your special
delectation. How remarkably, for instance, has Mr. Leech observed
the hair-dressers of the present age! Look at "Mr. Tongs," whom
that hideous old bald woman, who ties on her bonnet at the glass,
informs that "she has used the whole bottle of Balm of California,
but her hair comes off yet." You can see the bear's-grease not only
on Tongs's head but on his hands, which he is clapping clammily
together. Remark him who is telling his client "there is cholera in
the hair;" and that lucky rogue whom the young lady bids to cut off
"a long thick piece"--for somebody, doubtless. All these men are
different, and delightfully natural and absurd. Why should hair-
dressing be an absurd profession?

The amateur will remark what an excellent part hands play in Mr.
Leech's pieces: his admirable actors use them with perfect
naturalness. Look at Betty, putting the urn down; at cook, laying
her hands on the kitchen table, whilst her policeman grumbles at the
cold meat. They are cook's and housemaid's hands without mistake,
and not without a certain beauty too. The bald old lady, who is
tying her bonnet at Tongs's, has hands which you see are trembling.
Watch the fingers of the two old harridans who are talking scandal:
for what long years past they have pointed out holes in their
neighbors' dresses and mud on their flounces. "Here's a go! I've
lost my diamond ring." As the dustman utters this pathetic cry, and
looks at his hand, you burst out laughing. These are among the
little points of humor. One could indicate hundreds of such as one
turns over the pleasant pages.

There is a little snob or gent, whom we all of us know, who wears
little tufts on his little chin, outrageous pins and pantaloons,
smokes cigars on tobacconists' counters, sucks his cane in the
streets, struts about with Mrs. Snob and the baby (Mrs. S. an
immense woman, whom Snob nevertheless bullies), who is a favorite
abomination of Leech, and pursued by that savage humorist into a
thousand of his haunts. There he is, choosing waistcoats at the
tailor's--such waistcoats! Yonder he is giving a shilling to the
sweeper who calls him "Capting;" now he is offering a paletot to a
huge giant who is going out in the rain. They don't know their own
pictures, very likely; if they did, they would have a meeting, and
thirty or forty of them would be deputed to thrash Mr. Leech. One
feels a pity for the poor little bucks. In a minute or two, when we
close this discourse and walk the streets, we shall see a dozen
such.

Ere we shut the desk up, just one word to point out to the unwary
specially to note the backgrounds of landscapes in Leech's drawings--
homely drawings of moor and wood, and seashore and London street--
the scenes of his little dramas. They are as excellently true to
nature as the actors themselves; our respect for the genius and
humor which invented both increases as we look and look again at the
designs. May we have more of them; more pleasant Christmas volumes,
over which we and our children can laugh together. Can we have too
much of truth, and fun, and beauty, and kindness?

Book of the day: