Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/173

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105
BLACK-MAIL.

say, friend, did you ever eat turtle soup?" to which Claude Ambroise replies, No, sare; but I did eat de soupe maigre." In another (also I think by the same artist), labelled, Foreign Rivals for British Patronage, the living skeleton and a favourite male Italian singer of the time are represented in the act of preparing for mortal combat.[1]

A number of the caricatures of 1825 (and among them many by Robert) are singularly illustrative of the morals of the time. About this year had been published a work professing to contain the memoirs of an apt disciple of Mrs. Mary Anne Clarke, which was made the vehicle of extorting money. The modus operandi appears to have been as follows. In the month of March, 1825, a well-known M.P. of that day received a letter from this creature in the following terms:—

"No. iii, Rue Du Faubourg St. Honoré, à Paris.

Sir,—People are buying themselves so fast out of my book, …[2] that I have no time to attend to them; should be sorry not to give each a chance, if they chuse to be out. You are quizzed most unmercifully. Two noble dukes have lately taken my word, and I have never named them. I am sure—would say you might trust me never to publish, or cause to be published, aught about you, if you like to forward £200 directly to me, else it will be too late, as the last volume, in which you shine, will be the property of the editor, and in his hands. Lord—says he will answer for aught I agree to; so will my husband. Do just as you like consult only yourself. I get as much by a small book as you will give me for taking you out, or more. I attack no poor men, because they cannot help themselves.

"Adieu. Mind, I have no time to write again, as what with

  1. What became of Seurat we do not know, but we lately came across the following: "the Siamese twins married; the living skeleton was crossed in love, but afterwards consoled himself with a corpulent widow." The authority is George Augustus Sala in "Twice Round the Clock." We strongly suspect that the wit extracted the information out of his own "inner consciousness."
  2. We purposely omit the title.