Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/420

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ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

burlesque, or thrown away in the delineation of low life character, must assuredly have made itself felt in tragedy; and the genius manifested in the mock Shylock of Robson, would have enabled him to offer a splendid presentment of the real Hebrew, and as perfect a realization of the character of Richard the Third as has ever perhaps been seen. His comedy—when opportunity was given him of displaying it—was full of true humour. He had in fact, in a remarkable degree, all the qualities of a splendid actor; but it was his peculiar misfortune that he had never a proper opportunity given him of displaying them. The fact that he was enormously popular was nothing, for many men are popular with not a tithe of the gifts or power which distinguished Robson. The favour of the "general," except in a sordid sense, is not worth much in these days. A proof of this is to be found in the fact that the name of Robson—after the lapse of twenty years—is scarcely known to the ordinary playgoer; but his genius, while he lived, was recognised by those whose applause is not easily earned, and was therefore worth the earning.

Within a week or ten days after his return from the Continent, Leech went with his family to Whitby, in the hope that the fresh Yorkshire sea air would invigorate and brace up his shattered system. Some friends were staying there at the time, and among them a young artist then comparatively new to Punch, but who has been for years past one of its leading pictorial supporters[1]—Mr. Du Maurier. During his sojourn here, I find him writing to his friends the Brookses, that if they would join him, it would induce him to prolong his stay. They went accordingly, and remained at Whitby until the artist returned to town on the 3rd of October. "Leech, when we could induce him to leave the painting in oil, to which he devoted too many hours, enjoyed the drives into the wild

  1. The first time I find mention of his name is on the 22nd of March, 1864, when the late Shirley Brooks met him at a party at Mr. Ernest Hart's, 69, Wimpole Street. Some years afterwards, he adds in a note, "Met him next at Whitby." I first meet with his name at a Punch council, 7th November, 1864: "Dumaurier first time."