Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/380

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

on the Mount. Think of a Comic History of England! The drollery of Alfred! the fun of Sir Thomas More in the Tower! the farce of his daughter begging the dead head, and clasping it in her coffin, on her bosom! Surely the world will be sick of this blasphemy!" "The Comic History of England" appeared, notwithstanding, and was followed afterwards by the "Comic History of Rome;" and however we may sympathize with the honest indignation of Jerrold, and condemn the questionable taste of À Beckett, we have at least to thank the latter for some of the drollest and most original designs which ever emanated from the pencil of John Leech.

The eccentric and original costumes in which he draped the classical characters of Rome appear to have been a favourite idea with the artist. Shirley Brooks relates that he first made his acquaintance at a fancy ball given at the house of their mutual friend, the late John Parry. "Leech's costume," says the late editor of Punch, "I well remember. It was something like Charles Mathews, as chorus to Medea. The black trousers and patent leather boots of decorous life were below; but above was the classic tunic. Then in addition he wore a fine new hat, round which, instead of around his head, was the laurel wreath; and the Greek ideal was brought into further discomfiture by a pair of spectacles and an exceedingly neat umbrella." This comical idea will be found ridiculously amplified in his amazing designs to "The Comic History of Rome."

Albert Smith.Medical student, novelist, dramatist, humourist, and showman—for some of us still remember his diorama of "The Overland Route"—the most fortunate venture of Albert Richard Smith (to give him his full name) was his ascent of Mont Blanc, which formed the theme of a well-remembered lecture, in which his perils amid rocky pinnacle, snow-field, and glacier lost nothing by the graphic mode in which they were related. This "ascent," by the way, proved a source of profit to others besides himself; and we should be curious to know the number of Chamounix guides and hotel-keepers who were enabled through his indirect means to