Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/442

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344
ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

of a gently sloping path strewed with flowers, stands a gibbet decorated, not with a halter, but wreaths of roses. Around it are many tombs of elegant construction, supposed to enclose the ashes of the illustrious departed. Upon one is inscribed, 'Here repose the mortal remains of the ever-famed Jerry Abershaw'; upon another, 'Sacred to the memory of Poor Johnny Greenacre.' A third is remarkable for its touching simplicity—'Alas! Poor Thurtell!' Another, somewhat more elaborate, gives us 'Burke and Hare! As they were loving friends in life, so in death are they undivided! Erected by their affectionate disciples, Bishop and May.' Besides these there are many others all bearing names of mark and fame. The whole is surrounded by a pretty arabesque composed of crowbars and other implements of burglary, pistols, knives, death's heads and cross-bones, halters, handcuffs, and fetters, ingeniously disposed and prettily intertwined with wreaths of roses."

We said at the opening of this chapter that "Phiz" was not born a comic artist. He possessed a certain amount of humour, which was evoked in the first instance by the example of Cruikshank, and his abilities and desire to emulate the greater artist have enabled him unquestionably to realize many humorous designs. It is impossible, however, to examine the numerous etchings of this draughtsman, without coming to the conclusion that he is always seen at his best when not called on to exercise his purely comic powers. Take by way of example, The Venice Glass, in Ainsworth's romance of "Crichton"; you will need no reference to the letterpress to understand it, for the artist tells his story far better than the novelist. Observe Crichton as he raises the goblet, and the poisoned wine bubbles and boils, and finally shivers the chalice into a thousand fragments; regard the agitation of Marguerite de Valois; the keen attention of Henri and his attendants. Where shall we find a finer illustration than the one in this book in which Esclairmonde is presented to Henri? The meeting of Mr. Tigg and Martin Chuzzlewit at the pawnbroker's shop is full of pathos. Look at the poor, wasted but still handsome mother waiting her turn whilst the gin-drinking laundress pawns her flat-irons to gratify her passion for the