Cruikshank he remained hale and vigorous to the last, proud of his age, and fond of asserting there was "life in the old dog yet." That this was no idle boast may be inferred from the fact that within a few months of his death he was engaged in painting a subject from his favourite Shakespeare. At the time of his death (in August, 1874) he had almost completed his eighty-fifth year.
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In hunting up materials for the present work, we have come at various times upon editions (specimens, perhaps, might be the better word) of the "Pickwick Papers," which will possess an interest in the eyes of the collector. The first issue, in the original green sporting covers designed by Seymour, is of course exceedingly scarce; we have never indeed seen a perfect copy, which would probably be worth some ten pounds, while the same edition bound may be purchased at prices varying from twenty-four shillings to three guineas, according to the condition of the volume. An Australian edition was published at Launceston, Van Dieman's Land, in 1838, with plates after "Phiz" by "Tiz," facsimiles on stone of the earliest issue of the parts in England. At a West of England bookseller's we met with a first edition bound up with etchings by Onwhyn, "Peter Palette," and others. Then there are the twenty-four etchings from remarkably clever original drawings by Mr. F. W. Pailthorpe in illustration of scenes in "Pickwick," of which the proofs before letters were published at three guineas; and lastly, there is the rare first edition, containing; all the plates by Seymour and "Phiz," supplemented by the two "suppressed" etchings, which are credited (wrongly) to the hand of Buss.
Among the etchers of book illustration after 1836, we may name
- Onwhyn's name occurs frequently in illustrative literature. He etched a set of designs for "Pickwick" and "Nicholas Nickleby;" for Mr. Henry Cockton's "George St. Julian," and a translation of Eugene Sue's "Mysteries of Paris." He is well known as the illustrator of "Valentine Vox," "Fanny the Little Milliner," and other works. Some of his best designs will be found in Mrs. Trollope's "Michael Armstrong." He occasionally displays some ability, but his performances are very unequal.