Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/288

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

ment, and kindles a certain amount of sympathetic enthusiasm in kindred breasts. The dull people who went to hear him, knew little about and cared less for art and genius than they did for the abstract doctrines of total abstinence. The result, so far as he personally was concerned, was curious, lamentable, and almost instantaneous. The work which had hitherto crowded upon him fell away like water from a leaking vessel; nay, on the authority of Mr. William Bates, when work was offered him he refused to take it. "When pressed by the late Mark Lemon to draw on his own terms for Punch," this man who had designed some of the broadest, coarsest, most personal of the satires of the nineteenth century, had grown so extremely particular that "he definitely refused to have anything to do with it on account of what he termed its personalities."[1] What could be done for such a man as this? Authors and publishers wholly ceased to employ him; and he was left without work in the very pride of his artistic career. He turned to oil painting; was taken by the hand by the influential few who appreciated, pitied, and loved him; but from the moment that he became a temperance advocate, to the literary world and to the general public this most singular and original genius was to all practical intents and purposes—dead.

These observations, I repeat, are made in no spirit of hostility to the sincere and earnest men who would seek to reduce the crime and misery which owe their origin to the immoderate use of ardent spirits. So far from this being the case, I hold their cause to be so righteous, so sensible, that it seems to me as effectually advocated by a plain, simple, earnest man as by a great artist and man of genius. I say advisedly, that the cause of temperance had been better served had Cruikshank stuck to his pencil and his etching needle, instead of seeking the position of a temperance advocate, and stumping the provinces with his absurd panorama of The Worship of Bacchus.

Thirty years of quite sterling and admirable work were now to be followed by thirty years of artistic sterility, for from this Rip

  1. "The Maclise Portrait Gallery," 1883, p. 195.