Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/457

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CHAPTER XVII.


A BATCH OF BOOK ILLUSTRATORS:


KENNY MEADOWS; ROBERT WILLIAM BUSS; ALFRED CROWQUILL; CHARLES H. BENNETT; W. M. THACKERAY.


In old and second-hand bookshops, and in booksellers' catalogues, may often be found a book which is gradually becoming a literary rarity. It dates from 1840. and is a curiosity in its way, not only on account of the "portraits" which adorn its pages, but as a specimen of the literary padding on which men of letters (some of them distinguished) were content to employ their talents fifty years ago. It was published by Robert Tyas, of 50, Cheapside; professed to give "Portraits of the English" of the period, but served as a means of introducing certain characteristic pictorial sketches, more or less true to nature, by Kenny Meadows, an artist whose name and reputation, although he has been dead scarcely ten years, are already forgotten. Connected with these portraits are "original essays by distinguished writers," including, amid names of lesser note, literary stars such as Douglas Jerrold, Leman Rede, Percival Leigh, Laman Blanchard, Leigh Hunt, William Howitt, and Samuel Lover. These essays, or rather letterpress descriptions, were written to the pictures, which were not drawn (as is generally supposed) in illustration of the text. The portraits are taken from almost every grade in life: from the dressmaker to the draper's assistant, and from the housekeeper to the hangman; the last, by the way, being perhaps the most characteristic

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