Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/416

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

shafts, and the subject was suggested (we have his own authority for stating it) by his friend and literary colleague, Mr. Shirley Brooks.[1]

"Clearly ill," is Mr. Brook's record of the state of John Leech's health on this same 13th of April, 1864. He no longer found pleasure in hunting, of which he had been exceedingly fond, and had even discontinued, at the order of his medical attendant, riding on horseback. He was affected with nervous irritability, the effect of incessant application. The ordinary noise of the streets—musicians, organ-grinders, street vendors, and the like—worried him beyond endurance. Long before the period at which we have arrived these annoyances had driven him from his residence in Brunswick Square to seek shelter from his enemies at No. 3, The Terrace, Kensington. His nervous irritability is manifested in the designs which he continued to draw for Punch. In one of his illustrations to vol. xlv. (1863), depicting certain familiar sea- side nuisances, he asks, "Why a couple of conceited fanatics should be allowed to disturb the repose of a Sunday afternoon by the sea-side?" and "Why the authorities at Brighton, so sensible and considerate in keeping the place free from the detestable organ grinders, should permit the terrible nuisance indicated [in the illustration] to exist?" "Fresh prawns, whiting, oysters, or watercresses," remonstrated the persecuted artist, "are capital things in their way, and we should think that the jaded man of occupation, or the invalid, would very much rather send to a respectable shop for such delicacies, than have them 'bellowed' into his ears morning, noon, and night." His illustrations of this character are so numerous that the ordinary observer would probably suppose that they were part only of a series; to the observer, however, who knew Leech, they clearly indicate the nervous irritability under which he suffered, and which was probably caused, and certainly intensified, by the nuisances of which he complained.

The state of Leech's health in May, 1864, seems to me best explained in the letter which Mark Lemon at this time wrote to Mr.

  1. "I suggested the cut, Moses being dressed for the Fair, Johnny Russell for the Conference." MS. Diary of the late Shirley Brooks.