Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/285
QUARRELLING WITH HIS BREAD AND BUTTER.
serial of his own the celebrated "Table Book"—which, notwithstanding the superlative excellence of his own illustrations and the talent of his literary contributors, comprising such names as John Oxenford, Horace Mayhew, Shirley Brooks, Mark Lemon, W. M. Thackeray, and others, could not manage to prolong its existence beyond its first volume. In matters connected with his own interests he was not only impracticable, but seems to have been remarkably destitute of tact and even of discernment. It cannot be doubted that the estrangement from Bentley was unwise and impolitic, for as one of the greatest publishers of fiction of the day, his influence was both far-reaching and comprehensive. In quarrelling with Dickens, Ainsworth, and Bentley, three of the great artistic employers of labour of his time, and in face of the growing popularity of John Leech and Hablot Knight Browne, he was literally quarrelling with his bread and butter, and few men, even of genius, may afford to do that. He was essentially impulsive, and frequently acted under the influence of first impressions. Although fond of his pipe and his glass, as his famous Reverie,—The Triumph of Cupid, in the "Table Book," will show, he had always evinced a horror of drink, and had, as we have seen, done his best at various times to expose its insidious and baneful influences. At last, in 1847, came a sudden and extraordinary impulse of enthusiasm, under the influence of which he not only produced his Bottle, but laid aside for ever his pipe and his bowl. To do any real good, he said he must practise what he preached: he joined the "teetotallers," and not being one of those who did things by halves, entered heart and soul into the crusade against drink by becoming a temperance advocate. This last was the one step needed to fill up the measure of the artist's folly, and to secure for him the reputation of being an incurably eccentric, self-willed man.
Those who would charge the author with blaming George Cruikshank for joining the ranks of the teetotallers will do him grave injustice. Although very much of the opinion of Robert Burton, author of the "Anatomy of Melancholy," that, "No verses