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Chapter 3
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 done."

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 well.

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 immortalized.

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 "Illustrations 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

     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 him?

             * 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.

The End


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