Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/384

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

pink spencer; a Scotch plaid petticoat, and bright green or lemon-coloured boots; you may see the costume any day in Les Anglaises pour rire, at the Variétés. We all know it is a Vaudeville, and it would not be publicly acted unless it were authentic. I repeat it once more, ever since this world has been a world, Englishwomen—real genuine Englishwomen—have never been differently dressed." M. Taine, who devoted himself to the study of our language and literature, and spent much time amongst us, has (if I remember rightly) admitted the errors which prevail amongst his countrymen and women with reference to ourselves; but such observers as M. Taine and M. Sue are unfortunately rare in France, and many have essayed to depict us, with as much knowledge of their subject as our Sir John Maundeville possessed when he sat down to write his absurd but quaint and amusing "Book of Voiage and Travaile." John Leech resented this deplorable ignorance on the part of our neighbours; and the Punch volumes are filled with biting sarcasms on French habits, manners, and sentiments, which were keenly felt, because, unlike the English who figure at the Variétés or in French caricatures, in the dirty men who regard with astonishment the English washstand at the exhibition, the cabs full of hirsute monstrosities, the "Flowers of the French army," the grimy Revolutionists of Leicester Square—the hundred and one Frenchmen who figure in the satires of John Leech, the Parisian recognises compatriots whose ridiculous lineaments have been too faithfully reproduced to render identification a matter of doubt or difficulty.

Leech executed very few illustrations for Dickens; and the amusing blunder which he perpetrated in "The Battle of Life," in allowing the lady to elope with the wrong man, and the "horror and agony" of the author in consequence thereof, have been set forth in Forster's "Life." The mistake was discovered too late for correction, and remains a curious proof of the carelessness with which distinguished artists will sometimes read the manuscript of an author however illustrious.

The Surtees' novels afford singular evidence of the keenness of John Leech's critical observation. An ardent lover of sport himself,