THE CARICATURES OF GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
Sixty Years AgoJust sixty years ago, a writer in Blackwood spoke of the subject of the present chapter (then a young man who had already acquired an artistic reputation) in the following terms:—
"It is high time that the public should think more than they have hitherto done of George Cruikshank; and it is also high time that George Cruikshank should begin to think more than he seems to have done hitherto of himself. Generally speaking, people consider him as a clever, sharp caricaturist, and nothing more; a free-handed, comical young fellow, who will do anything he is paid for, and who is quite contented to dine off the proceeds of a 'George IV.' to-day, and those of a 'Hone,' or a 'Cobbett' to-morrow. He himself, indeed, appears to be the most careless creature alive, as touching his reputation. He seems to have no plan—almost no ambition—and, I apprehend, not much industry. He does just what is suggested or thrown in his way, pockets the cash, orders his beef-steak and bowl, and chaunts, like one of his own heroes,—
'Life is all a variorium,
We regard not how it goes.'
Now, for a year or two to begin with, this is just what it should be. Cruikshank was resolved to see Life and his sketches show that he has seen it, in some of its walks, to purpose. But life is short, and art is long ; and our gay friend must pull up.
"Perhaps he is not aware of the fact himself—but a fact it
- Alluding to the "Life in London."