Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/247

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171
GEORGE'S GENIUS.

"genius" might be cited by the thousand. Look only at the famous "Sketch Book;" its recent republication has placed it within the reach of every one of our readers. Look at the Sprig of Shelalegh, the rollicking, whiskey drinking, fighting, devil-may-care expression he has thrown into that piece of wood; turn to the sheet wherein he has recorded his Recollections of the Court of Common Pleas, and study the group of lawyers' and witnesses' faces therein contained. There is "genius" for you, if you will. If you are overworked, turn to them; they will do you good, for they will not only make you merry, but force upon you the conviction that the conception which created them was essentially original. It is this delightful originality of George Cruikshank which constitutes his genius.

"No plan!" "no ambition!" "not much industry!" so at least said Lockhart. We may doubt whether even at the time it was spoken this charge had any foundation of truth to rest upon; an answer to it at least will be found in the fact that, before the mysterious spell had fallen upon him we shall presently have to describe, this sterling and indefatigable genius had already produced thousands upon thousands of miraculous little drawings. From the mass of these wonderful creations we propose now to select a few examples, choosing them in the first instance from a graver type than some we shall presently have to consider.

"Greenwich Hospital" gives us one of the very best drawings which Cruikshank ever designed. The scene of the Point of Honour is laid on board the Triumph, at Spithead, at the time of the famous mutiny. A detachment of marines with shouldered arms are drawn up on the quarter deck, their drummer is beating to quarters, while all hands are assembled to witness a degrading and demoralizing spectacle,—a sailor, with his shoulders bare and his hands tied to the triangles, about to receive punishment for disobedience to orders. Conspicuous amongst the figures are two little middies, habited in the strange naval uniform of sixty years ago. The illustration to The Braintrees, at page 90 of the "Three Courses and a Dessert" is a marvellous specimen, not only of the graphic power of the