Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/448

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

for illustration, and the enormous care required, make me," he says, "excessively anxious! The man for Dombey, if Browne could see him, the class of man to a T, is Sir A—— E——, of D——s. Great pains will be necessary with Miss Tox. The Toodle family should not be too much caricatured, because of Polly." As the story unwinds itself, he proceeds, "Browne is certainly interesting himself and taking pains;" and again, in another letter, "Browne seems to be getting on well." Still "Browne," with all his pliability, found it a hard matter to please him. He made a particular point of Paul, Mrs. Pipchin, and the cat by the fire; and the result to himself was so eminently unsatisfactory that it produced a characteristic protest. "I am really distressed by the illustration of Mrs. Pipchin and Paul. It is so frightfully and wildly wide of the mark. Good heaven! in the commonest and most literal construction of the text, it is all wrong! She is described as an old lady, and Paul's 'miniature armchair' is mentioned more than once. He ought to be sitting in a little arm-chair down in a corner of the fireplace, staring up at her. I can't say what pain and vexation it is to be so utterly misrepresented. I would cheerfully have given a hundred pounds to have left this illustration out of the book. He never could have got that idea of Mrs. Pipchin if he had attended to the text. Indeed, I think he does better without the text; for then the notion is made easy to him, a short description, and he can't help taking it in." This last sentence exactly describes the man: a personal description with him did more than any amount of letterpress, however lucid.

One may readily understand this almost nervous anxiety of Charles Dickens with reference to the character of his illustrations. He worked, be it remembered, under conditions entirely different to the novelist of a later date. The etched illustrations of his day formed a most important—in some cases (the works, of inferior men, such as Albert Smith, for instance) by far the most important—portion of the work itself. Under the charm of the illustrations and the mode of issue, the tale was protracted to a length which would be impossible in a novel of Charles Reade or Wilkie Collins, which depends for its success upon the skill of the novelist alone. The