Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/231

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Shirley Brooks.

attention to the law, and passed with great success the examinations of the Incorporated Law Society. But, like Dickens and Disraeli, the natural bent of his genius impelled him towards the culture of the Muses, and he forsook law for literature.

He was for some years associated with the 'Morning Chronicle;' and, as the representative of that paper, travelled over Russia, Syria, and Egypt, being charged with an inquiry into the state of the labouring classes in those countries.

As a dramatist, the editor of 'Punch' has produced works of sterling merit. 'The Creole, or Love's Fetter,' was first produced at the Lyceum in April 1847, in which Mr. and Mrs. Keeley, Frank Matthews, and Leigh Murray sustained the principal characters. The next year saw, at the same theatre, a capital one-act comedy, 'Anything for a Change,' in which Harley and Charles Mathews appeared. Among his other dramatic works, we may mention 'The Daughter of the Stars,' brought out at the Strand. In 'Timour the Tartar' he had John Oxenford as joint author. 'The Guardian Angel,' at the Haymarket, Mr. and Mrs. Keeley appeared in; and 'The Lowther Arcade,' a very sprightly farce, with two pieces of greater labour, 'Honours and Tricks,' and 'Our New Governess,' must not be omitted from this list. Mr. Brooks was in his earlier days a contributor to many of the best periodicals; was a leader writer on the 'Illustrated London News,' and for some time editor of the 'Literary Gazette;' but it is as a novelist that his talents are best known and appreciated by the readers of 'Once a Week,' in which his best stories have appeared; and were it not that we propose to let him tell us the history of that famous satirical journal he now so worthily conducts, we should dwell at length on his novels. 'The Silver Cord,' which appeared in 'Once a Week,' 'Sooner or Later,' 'The Gordian Knot,' and his first story, 'Aspen Court,' complete the list of his longer works of fiction. Nothing would be more to our mind than to offer some criticism here upon the skill in the construction of plots, the sustained interest, the sparkling dialogue, and the touches of genius in exhibiting the inner working of the human heart, that his novels show; but instead we will give, in Mr. Shirley Brook's