Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/443

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345
"QUILP."

deadly drink; note the insouciance of the thoughtless musician as he twangs the guitar which he is about to pledge, though probably dependent on it for bread. Notice the pictures above,—the Bacchante pressing grapes into a wine cup,—the bailiff distraining for rent. Hablot Knight Browne has no powers which would enable us to compare him with Hogarth, and yet the grim reality of this picture Hogarth himself might almost admire.

Regard again that wondrous tailpiece at page 96 of "The Old Curiosity Shop" where Quilp, the odious dwarf, sits up all night smoking and drinking, his countenance every now and then "expanding with a grin of delight" as his patient; long-suffering wife makes some involuntary movement of restlessness or fatigue. Look at poor, wasted, shoeless Nell, as she reclines on the settee of the public -house, surrounded by sympathisers,—the kind-hearted motherly landlady administering mental and bodily solace to the motherless child,—the poor, foolish, gambling grandfather gazing into her face with wistful anxiety. Lastly, look at the ghastly corpse of old Quilp as he lies dead amid the mud and slime of the river, which, after playing with the ugly, malicious, ill-shapen thing until it was bereft of life, flung it contemptuously high and dry upon the swamps at low tide.

"Dombey and Son.""Dombey and Son" called for comparatively little exercise of Browne's comic power, and consequently we shall find in this book examples of some of his finest book etchings. The pompous London merchant, the frigid influence he exercises on those about him, the distrustful look of the nurse as she brings baby Paul into his presence, the shrinking form of little Florence as the frightened child cowers with folded hands behind her repellent father's chair, are finely depicted in the etching of The Dombey Family, In Mrs. Dombey at Home, the proud, haughty beauty chafing under the consciousness that she has been sacrificed to the wealth of the heartless merchant, takes no pains to veil the contempt she feels for the admiring men who surround her. These men (by the way) are scarcely men at all, they are all grossly exaggerated; but "Phiz," like many artists of greater pretensions, has sacrificed everything to his