Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/461

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KENNY MEADOWS.

Mr. Hodder refers. To constitute a good comic artist, not only is it necessary that he should be a good draughtsman, but certain special gifts are indispensable,—a keen sense of the ridiculous, an inherent appreciation of humour, a quick and ready invention, qualities which no amount of artificial training will bestow. They were possessed in an eminent degree by Gillray, by Cruikshank, by John Leech, but were wholly wanting to Kenny Meadows. He could draw on occasion a queer face—for that matter his faces, intentionally or otherwise, were generally queer and an eccentric figure, and so can many persons who have a natural taste for drawing, and have learnt to handle the pencil; but the caricaturist, like the poet, nasciiur non fit, and a hundred or even a thousand queer faces or eccentric figures, without the gift of invention or originality, will not of themselves constitute the designer a comic artist. The truth is that with Kenny Meadows mannerism takes the place of genius. You will recognise his hand anywhere without the familiar " K.M." appended to it, for all his faces are chubby (not to say puffy), and their arms and legs look for all the world as if the hand that designed them had been guided by a ruler. The delusion which led him to imagine that his "genius" would enable him to soar superior to nature is no doubt responsible in some degree for this latter eccentricity, for the artist who would be bold enough to despise the laws "which regulate the exercise of the pictorial art," would be prepared to view Hogarth's line of beauty with like indifference and contempt.

Kenny Meadows was one of the early illustrators of Punch, and contributed moreover to the first volume some of the best of the cartoons. Good specimens of his work will be found in Young Loves to Sell, and The Speculative Mama (sic), second vol.; in the third volume he illustrated "Punch's Letters to His Son," and the first of the almanacks contains six of his designs. In the fourth volume we find six of his cartoons, among them The Milk of Poor Law Kindness, and The First Tooth (the Queen and infant Prince of Wales); the doctor's legs and shoes are thoroughly characteristic of his style, and look for all the world as if they had been drawn by a ruler. The cartoon Punch Turned Out of France in this volume is,