Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/315

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in London," are too small and unimportant to justify the title which the editor gives them of "caricatures;" and relating to political matters which at that time were far more efficiently chronicled by the pencil of H. B., they have lost any interest which they once might have commanded. The most interesting illustrations which Seymour contributed to "Figaro," are the brief series of theatrical portraits, which are not only clever but evidently excellent likenesses.

It was not only in the case of "Figaro in London" that the slanders of À Beckett recoiled upon his own head. That gentleman in 1832 had started a sort of rival to Hood's "Comic Annual," under the title of the "Comic Magazine." It was cheaper in price than the former publication, and contained an amazing number of amusing cuts of the punning order, after Seymour's designs. After the quarrel with À Beckett, the artist withdrew his assistance from its pages, and the illustrations show a fearful falling off after 1833. Many of the wretched designs which follow bear the signature of "Dank," and so destitute are they of merit that the "embellishments" (as they are termed) for 1834, are altogether below criticism.

At the opening of the present chapter we said that Robert Seymour was almost a genius. Genius, however, he never absolutely touched; he was destitute of the inventive faculties which distinguished John Leech, and lacked the vivid imagination which enabled George Cruikshank to realize any idea which occurred to him, whether comical, grave, realistic, or terrible. His talents as an artist, though undoubtedly great, ran in a narrow groove, and their bent is shown by the well-known "Humorous Sketches," and the less known but far more admirable designs which he executed for the "Comic Magazine." He always had a fancy for depicting and satirizing cockneys and cockney subjects, and had conceived the by no means new or ambitious idea of producing a series of such pictures with an appropriate letterpress to be furnished by a literary coadjutor, whose work, however, was to be subservient to his own. The idea was not perhaps a very definite one, but the pictorial part of the work was commenced, and four plates actually etched at the time the artist was retained to execute the illustrations to the "Book