Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/311

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225
MR. A BECKETT'S PUNS.

him, after his own peculiar fashion and more than questionable taste, constantly alluding to the fact; describing him at various times as "that highly gifted and popular artist, Mr. Seymour;" "our illustrious artist Seymour;" and so on. In the preface to his second volume, he indulges in the following flight of fancy, which will suffice to give us an idea of the literary merits of the editor himself: "In this our annual address," he says, "we cannot omit a puff for the rampant Seymour, in whom the public continue to see-more and more every time he puts his pencil to the block for the illustration of our periodical." This was the sort of stuff which passed for wit in 1832.[1] As for Seymour himself, he was annoyed at these fulsome and foolish compliments, and in a letter which he wrote to À Beckett after the quarrel to be presently related, told him in the plainest terms that, "the engraving, bad printing, and extravagant puffing of his designs were calculated to do him more harm than good as an artist."

But artist and editor jogged on together in perfect good will until the 16th of August, 1834, when, for the first and only time, "Figaro in London" made its appearance without any illustrations at all. The two succeeding weekly issues contained each a single woodcut after Seymour's drawing, but from that time until the end of the year, when À Beckett himself retired from the proprietorship and disposed of his interest in the concern, the paper was illustrated by Isaac Robert Cruikshank; this change was due to the following circumstance.

A special feature of "Figaro in London" was its theatrical leader. À Beckett had always taken an interest in dramatic matters, and was himself author of some thirty plays, the very titles of which are now forgotten. Not content with being proprietor and editor of a newspaper, he was concerned at this time in another venture, being proprietor and manager of a theatre in Tottenham Court Road, known

  1. Mr. à Beckett's strong point was puns; in later days he found a vehicle for these in the well-known "Comic Histories" of England and Rome, illustrated by John Leech. It was his peculiar good fortune always to be associated with artists of the highest ability.