Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/195

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CHAPTER VII.


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[1] 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


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  1. Alluding to the "Life in London."