Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/277
ROSE MAYLIE AND OLIVER.
The Quarrel with Dickens.Probably very few of our readers have seen this despised and rejected plate of Rose Maylie and Oliver, for it is not the one which bears that title among the ordinary illustrations to the novel of "Oliver Twist." It is very rare, and we wish we could reproduce it here. If not one of the very best of the series, it is entirely in keeping with the rest; and so far from displaying "great haste," is in every respect a carefully finished book etching. Four figures are represented in it as sitting round the fire, among them the well known form of Oliver, with his turn-down collar and elaborately brushed hair. On the mantle-shelf, with other ornaments, are two hyacinths in glasses, thus fixing January as the date of the scene depicted. It would have been better for the book if Charles Dickens had left it alone. The artist did as he was requested, with anger at his heart; and as a consequence, Rose Maylie will go down to posterity as the ugliest of George Cruikshank's very ugly women, in an outrageous bonnet, with her hand resting on the shoulder of a youth wearing the singular coatee or boy's jacket of forty years ago. Differing altogether from the admirable designs which preceded it, there is an incongruity about the etching which cannot fail to impress the observer. The unfortunate letter and still more unfortunate result occasioned a coolness between the men which was never wholly removed. From that time forth George Cruikshank executed no more designs for Charles Dickens, and the illustrations to the long series of novels which afterwards followed from the pen of the talented but distinctly autocratic author were entrusted to other hands. However much this result must be deplored so far as the artist himself is concerned, the coolness between Charles Dickens and George Cruikshank is scarcely to be viewed in the light of a misfortune for English illustrative art. Only consider for one moment what might have followed had the artist executed the designs to the rest of Dickens's novels! Dick Swiveller would have suited him,
order that as few impressions as possible of the present one may go forth. I feel confident you know me too well to feel hurt by this inquiry, and with equal confidence in you, I have lost no time in preferring it." At this point Mr. Forster leaves the story.