Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/450

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Chillon. The lights and shadows are wonderfully rendered, and the work is characterized by a softness, a beauty, and a finish only to be observed in work which took the artist's fancy. This etching is entitled, Rougemont's Device to Perplex Auriol; and Ainsworth's story which it illustrates—a peculiarly unsatisfactory one—commenced, I think, in "Ainsworth's Magazine," passed into the "New Monthly," when its author purchased that periodical in 1845, and (whether the novelist got himself into an intellectual fix or otherwise I know not) finished, I believe, eventually nowhere.

Browne indeed finds a place here more by virtue of his book illustrations than by reason of any just pretensions to be considered a graphic humourist. His comic powers appear to us more the result of education and emulation than natural gifts, and the consequence is, that in attempting to be funny, his work too often degenerates into absolute exaggeration. His excellencies must be sought for in his serious illustrations, which fall more within the province of the art critic than the scope and purpose of a work which treats of graphic satirists and comic artists of the nineteenth century. Some of his finest illustrations of a serious character will be found in the pages of the "Illuminated Magazine"; in Charles Lever's admirable story of "St. Patrick's Eve"; in the "Fortunes of Colonel Forlogh O'Brien"; in Augustus Mayhew's "Paved with Gold"; in Ainsworth's "Mervyn Clithero"; and "Revelations of London"; and above all, in Charles Lever's novel of "Roland Cashel."

Hablot Knight Browne lived to see the decline and fall of that peculiar and powerful art of book illustration which was introduced by Cruikshank; was fostered and encouraged by Charles Dickens, Charles James Lever, their imitators and contemporaries; and died, so to speak, with these distinguished men. His work in later years, as might naturally have been expected, shows a woeful decline of power; and when the suggestors from whom he derived inspiration were no longer at his back, the poverty of invention which characterized the man when left to his own devices becomes painfully apparent.