Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/455

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353
A CURIOUS DEFINITION OF "GENIUS."

sporting paper, supported by some high and mighty nobs; but I fear, like everything I have to do with, now a-days, it will collapse, for some of the proprietors of the paper are also shareholders, etc., etc., in the Graphotype Company, so they want to work the two together. I hate the process; it takes quite four times as long as wood, and I cannot draw and express myself with a nasty, finicking brush, and the result when printed seems to alternate between something all as black as my hat, or as hazy and faint as a worn-out plate. If on wood, I should like it well enough; as it is it spoils four days a week, leaving little time for anything else. Oh! I'm aweary, I'm aweary! of this illustration business." [1] This seems to us inexpressibly sad. We hear nothing of it in earlier days, when he was drawing the excellent designs for "Roland Cashel," for "Dombey," or for "Bleak House."

Of the works and sketches in water colour and oils exhibited in Liverpool after the artist's death, personally we have seen nothing. They took the public by surprise, for few at least of the outer world suspected that this shy, retiring illustrator of books was a persevering and accomplished water-colour artist. We ourselves were aware of the fact, and had seen some thirty original and highly characteristic sketches, some of them studies of characters in novels of Charles Dickens and Lever; all executed prior to 1846, some in Indian ink, some in crayon, a few in pencil. Among them was a small but highly finished water-colour drawing, representing a group of seven knights in full martial panoply, and a striking effect is produced by the glint of the sun on the burnished armour of the central figure. The author of a recent sketch would cite these water colours as a complete answer to those who like ourselves maintain, in no mere spirit of detraction, that the artist possessed not one particle of genius. Surely he cannot be in earnest. If so, we have only to say, that if painting subjects in oils or water colour from the thousand and one hints to be gathered from history, fiction, or every-day life, be a test of genius, the walls of every summer and winter exhibition—to say

  1. Mr. Kitton's "Memoir," p. 19.