Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/447

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"CARKER" À LA CRUIKSHANK.

presented to us in an uncomfortable coat, hair parted and dressed after the Cruikshankian fashion, and a pair of boots at least half a yard in length.

"Bleak House" and "Roland Cashel.""Bleak House" (1852-3) has been described as the most successful of "Phiz's" illustrated work; but although it contains some of the best etchings he ever designed for Charles Dickens, the rest are in truth of unequal merit. Among the best may be mentioned Consecrated Ground; The Old Man of the name of Tulkinghorn; Morning; Tom All Alone's; and the sunset scene in the Long Drawing-room at Chesney Wold. In the dreary twilight of the Ghost's Walk and of the room in which the murder was consummated we have a pair of drawings unsurpassed by any of the illustrations he executed for Charles Lever's "Roland Cashel," which last contains unquestionably the finest of his designs.

Of all his illustrators, Hablot Knight Browne was the one who best suited the requirements of Charles Dickens. A man of talent without a single idea of his own, he was found more malleable and manageable than Cruikshank, who, as we have seen, would have had a hand (if he could) not only in the illustrations, but also in the management of the story. The conditions under which "Phiz" illustrated "Pickwick" were wholly different from those which poor Seymour had endeavoured to impose upon his author. "It is due to the gentleman," says Dickens, in his preface to the "Pickwick Papers," "It is due to the gentleman whose designs accompany the letterpress, to state that the interval has been so short between the production of each number in manuscript and its appearance in print, that the greater portion of the illustrations have been executed by the artist from the author's verbal description of what he intended to write" Cruikshank would certainly not have done this, and we doubt whether John Leech would have consented to work under such conditions. But as regards Browne, the case was entirely different. He had no genius or ideas of his own, and could only work from the suggestions of others. The interest and anxiety which Dickens felt in the character of the illustrations to his novels, is shown by reference to the illustrations to "Dombey." "The points