Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/376

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

reason to smile at the work and be satisfied with the artist. Mr. Leech, his chief contributor, and some kindred humourists with pencil and pen, have served Mr. Punch admirably . . . There is no blinking the fact that in Mr. Punch's cabinet John Leech is the right-hand man."[1] That this was true is proved by the fact that during his connection with Punch, extending over a period of three and twenty years, he executed no less than three thousand pictures, of which at least six hundred are cartoons.[2] No wonder that when he lay dead, Shirley Brooks—another valued contributor, and afterwards editor of Punch—mournfully acknowledged that the good ship had lost its "mainsail."[3]

The "Illuminated Magazine."Most admirable examples of his designs on wood will be found in the first three volumes of "The Illuminated Magazine," a delightful serial which appeared in 1843-4, which also contains a series of etchings on copper of unusual size and brilliancy. Associated with him on the pages of this periodical, which is now seldom met with, were his friends Thomas Hood and Mark Lemon, Douglas Jerrold and Laman Blanchard, Albert Smith and Angus Bethune Reach, Samuel Lover and Kenny Meadows. The world was young with authors and artists alike in those days; the youngest of the band were William Hepworth Dixon, then aged twenty-two; John Leech, twenty-six; and Wilkie Collins, literally not "out of his teens," one of whose earliest literary productions we find here under the title of "The Last Stage Coachman," illustrated by Hine. In these volumes appeared Douglas Jerrold's delightful allegory of the "Chronicles of Clovernook," to which the veteran Kenny Meadows contributed some of the most quaint and original of his sketches.

John Leech's portrait appears in three of the Punch sketches—two only of which are due to his own hand; the first in January,

  1. Thackeray in the Quarterly.
  2. I calculate that the minor drawings number about 2,500; if to these we add 638 cartoons, we get a sum total of over 3,100 illustrations for Punch alone. If we say nearly 1,000 for Mr. Surtees' sporting novels, without taking into account Leech's other work, we may form some notion of his untiring industry.
  3. MS. Diary of Shirley Brooks (October 31st, 1864).