Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/415

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MR. R. W. SURTEES.

terize Mr. Surtees himself,—they possess a certain original humour, which will render their perusal productive of amusement. He died suddenly on the 16th of March, 1864, in his sixty-second year.

It has been the habit of the contributors to Punch, almost from the commencement of the periodical, to dine together every Wednesday. In the winter months the dinner was usually held in the front room of the first floor of the business premises of the proprietors, Messrs. Bradbury & Evans, in Bouverie Street, Whitefriars. Sometimes these dinners were held at the Bedford Hotel, Covent Garden. During the summer months it was customary to hold ten or twelve dinners at Greenwich, Richmond, Blackwall, and other places in the neighbourhood of London. On these occasions the programme (if we may so term it) of the forthcoming number was arranged and settled, papers were brought out, and the latest intelligence discussed, so as to bring the "cartoon" down to the latest, or rather one of the latest subjects of current interest. At the weekly council dinner John Leech was a faithful attendant. These meetings, indeed, "he thoroughly enjoyed, and his suggestions, not merely as to pictorial matters, but generally, were among the most valuable that were offered, as may be inferred from his large knowledge of the world, his keen sense of the ludicrous, and his hatred of injustice and cruelty."[1] One of the most regular attendants of the Punch dinners—I think that in 1864, at least, he scarcely missed one was the most indefatigable of the literary staff, Mr. Shirley Brooks. One was held at The Bedford on the 13th of April, 1864, just about the time when Lord John Russell was setting out as our representative at the Conference, and the outcome of this particular Punch dinner, at which were present Messrs. Mark Lemon, Shirley Brooks, Tom Taylor, John Leech, and Percival Leigh, was Leech's admirable cartoon of Moses Starting for the Fair. "Let us hope," adds the pictorial satirist, in special reference to his lordship's unfortunate capacity for getting himself into a mess, that "he won't bring back a gross of green spectacles." It was one of the last of Leech's political

  1. Shirley Brooks in Illustrated London News of 19th November, 1864.