Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/411

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317
GRADUAL DECREASE OF STRENGTH.

Those who, like ourselves, have found it necessary to examine the Punch volumes from their commencement in 1841, down to the 31st of December, 1864, cannot fail to be struck by the steady decrease in the number of cartoons which the artist annually designed and executed for the periodical. In 1857 the number contributed was 33; in 1858, 30; in 1859, 21; in 1860, 15, in 1861 the number had fallen as low as 10; while in 1862 it did not exceed 4.[1] This decrease (which is confined, be it observed, to the cartoons which he contributed to Punch) was due to failing health consequent on the strain of incessant production. Of the coming evil he himself was distinctly cognizant. It is said of him that Lord Ossington, then Speaker, once met him on the rail, and expressed to him his hope that he enjoyed in his work some of the gratification which it afforded to others. His answer was a melancholy one:—"I seem to myself to be a man who has undertaken to walk a thousand miles in a thousand hours." It was certainly not such a reply as one would exactly look for, looking only at the joyous character of the pictures he executed for Punch. He complained in 1862—the year at which we have arrived—of habitual weariness and sleeplessness, and was advised to try rest and change of air. He acted upon the suggestion, and, accompanied by his old friend Mark Lemon, proceeded in that year on a short tour to Paris, and from thence to Biarritz. Leech's pencil was not idle on this holiday, as two of his pictures will testify. The first, A Day at Biarritz, appears in the Almanack of 1863, and among the figures he has introduced into this delightful sketch is that of the grave and saturnine Louis, snapping his fingers in the highest abandon and

  1. I estimate the number of his cartoons as nearly as possible as follows:—
    1842  3 1850  37 1858  30
    1843 11 1851 42 1859 21
    1844 42 1852 35 1860 15
    1845 43 1853 32 1861 10
    1846 35 1854 34 1862 4
    1847 35 1855 41 1863 3
    1848 38 1856 33 1864 4
    1849 37 1857 33