Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/304

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218
ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

Anstey (son of the once celebrated author of the "New Bath Guide") amusingly describes the administration of an oath to a witness in a court of law:—

"Here, Simon, you shall (silence there!)
The truth and all the truth declare,
And nothing but the truth be willing
To speak, so help you G—d (a shilling)."[1]

The artist possibly had this quotation in his mind when he designed the following:—The deponent is a country bumpkin, to whom an official tenders the Testament, at the same time extending his disengaged palm. "Pleas zur," says Hodge, "wot be I to zay?" (To him the officer), "Say, This is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God one and sixpence."

The open and notorious bribery, corruption, and intimidation which prevailed in those days at parliamentary elections; Sir Robert Peel's "New Police Act" (which was received with extraordinary suspicion and dislike); the Reform Bill; the universal distress and consequent bread riots of 1830-31, form the subjects of other pictorial satires by Robert Seymour, which seem, however, to call for little notice.

The artist's talent and services were constantly in demand as a designer on wood; but finding that the productions of his pencil suffered at the hands of the wood-engravers to whom they were entrusted, and the very inferior paper upon which the impressions were taken, he, in or about the year 1827, began to learn the art of etching on copper. We believe his earliest attempts in this direction will be found in a work now exceedingly rare, bearing the title of "Assisting, Resisting, and Desisting." A volume called "Vagaries, in Quest of the Wild and Wonderful," which appeared in 1827, was embellished with six clever plates after the manner of George Cruikshank, and ran through no less than three editions.

The "Humorous Sketches," several times republished, perhaps the only work by which Seymour is now known to the general

  1. Anstey's "Pleader's Guide," Bk. 2nd (1810).