Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/281

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197
THE EXILE OF LOUISIANA.

From that time, so long as he continued to design for the "Miscellany," George tried to do his worst, and it must be admitted that he succeeded to admiration. Anything more outrageous than these wretched drawings—taking into account the talent, power, and skill of the artist, and the quality of the work which he was at this very time executing for Harrison Ainsworth—can scarcely be conceived. They are so ashamed of themselves, that his signature—usually so distinct, so characteristic, and so clear on other occasions—is illegible, in many cases wholly wanting. At length, in vol. xiii. (1843) appeared a story called "The Exile of Louisiana," "with an illustration by George Cruikshank" (for Bentley, probably by way of retaliation, was determined the public should know that these performances were due to the hand which had produced the famous etchings to "Oliver Twist," "Jack Sheppard," and the contemporaneous story of the "Miser's Daughter"). We should like to have seen the face of the author when this extraordinary conception dawned upon him. The tale (a serious and pathetic one) was burlesqued with one of the most grotesque caricatures the mind of comic artist ever conceived. It represents Marshal Saxe recognising the widow of a late Czaaravitch in the gardens of the Tuileries. The marshal, a most extraordinary personage, would make in actual life the fortune of any enterprising showman. He possesses a nose of Slawkenbergian proportions; his pig-tail reaches below his waist; and his sword, sticking out at right angles, gives him the appearance of a fly with a pin through its middle. Near him stands a courtier, with ankles of such fearful and wonderful construction that his legs will snap the moment he attempts to use them. As for the distinguished relict of the Czaaravitch, she is one of the most wonderful of the many wonderful people who figure in the sketch. Her figure is an anatomical impossibility; while her mouth reaches from ear to ear (the letterpress, by the way, informs us that her deceased husband had married her for her beauty!). The statue of Mercury, posed like a scaramouch at a masquerade, is matched by that of Neptune, who whirls his trident round his head in a state of the wildest hilarity, cutting at the same time a caper over the body of