This Whittle proved a perfect study to the young artist, and it is possible that his connection with this eccentric personage had some influence in deciding him not to follow a profession for which he had but little sympathy. Whittle was a man of large frame and muscular development, so far at least as the upper part of his body was concerned, but the development extended no farther, his legs being formed on much more slender proportions. His tastes were decidedly athletic; he had rings let into the wall for the purpose of practising gymnastics, and delighted in posing before his amused pupils in the character of "The Dying Gladiator," "Hercules," and other antique statues. The few patients he possessed had small chance of professional attendance when Mr. Whittle was in training for a walking or running match, or any other amateur athletic engagement. "When," says Shirley Brooks, "lady patients, taking a walk, are suddenly surrounded by a hurrying and shouting crowd, in the middle of which, as they escape, they behold their medical adviser, in quaint attire, rushing to pick up stones with his mouth, an early termination of the relations between the healer and his patients is not impossible." A person of this kind was obviously out of his element in a learned profession, and this Whittle eventually recognised, and descended to his level by marrying one of his patients, a widow who kept a neighbouring public. He found himself more "at home" behind the bar in his shirt sleeves, and with ready facility adapted himself to circumstances by drawing beer for his former pupils and patients. Various stories have been told of this eccentric personage, who is said (with what truth we know not) to have commenced life as a Quaker, and ended it eventually as a missionary.
"Rawkins."Whittle the eccentric was afterwards immortalized by Leech as "Rawkins" in Albert Smith's "Adventures of Mr. Ledbury," which made their appearance in "Bentley's Miscellany." We cannot advise those who would enjoy a hearty laugh to do better than refer to Leech's comical etchings of The Return of Hercules from a Fancy
- Shirley Brooks in the Illustrated London News, 19th Nov., 1864.