Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: John Leech, His Life and Work. Vol. 1
Author: Frith, William Powell
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Leech, His Life and Work. Vol. 1" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



  JOHN LEECH

  His Life and Work


[Illustration]


  JOHN LEECH

  His Life and Work

  BY
  WILLIAM POWELL FRITH, R.A.

[Illustration]

  _WITH PORTRAIT AND NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS_

  IN TWO VOLUMES
  VOL. I.



  LONDON
  RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON
  Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen
  1891

  [_All rights reserved_]


  I Dedicate this Book
  TO
  CHARLES F. ADAMS,

  LEECH'S EARLIEST, WARMEST, AND MOST CONSTANT FRIEND;
  WITH MY GRATEFUL THANKS
  FOR THE INTEREST HE HAS TAKEN IN MY WORK,
  AND FOR THE VALUABLE ASSISTANCE AFFORDED
  IN THE EXECUTION OF IT.



PREFACE


I am very conscious of the many sins of commission and omission of which
I have been guilty in my attempt to write the "Life and Work of John
Leech"; but, that ingratitude may not figure amongst my shortcomings, I
take advantage of the usual preface to acknowledge my obligations to
friends and strangers from whom I have received assistance, and to
express my warmest thanks for their kindness.

The time that has elapsed since Leech's death has terribly thinned the
ranks of his friends and contemporaries; but the leveller has spared and
dealt tenderly with one of his earliest and most constant friends, Mr.
Charles F. Adams, whose store of Leech's letters, together with many
pleasing reminiscences, have been placed unreservedly at my disposal.
From Mr. Kitton's memoir of Leech I have derived, through the author's
kindness, much advantage; and to Mr. Thornber, a well-known collector of
Leech's works, I owe the opportunity of selecting some of the best
illustrations that grace the book.

I also desire to express my gratitude to the proprietors of _Punch_,
who, though unable to comply with my unreasonable demand to the full
extent of it, have given me most important help in my endeavours to do
honour to the genius who was such an honour to _Punch_. I owe to those
gentlemen no less than eight of the full-page illustrations, to say
nothing of numbers of small cuts.

I take this opportunity of thanking Mr. Grego, my neighbour Mr.
McKenzie, Mr. Willert Beale, and Mr. Maitland for their help in various
ways; not forgetting the Eton boy, whose anonymity I preserve according
to his desire.

To Sir John Millais, Mr. Ashby Sterry, Mr. Horsley, Mr. Holman Hunt, and
Mr. Cholmondeley Pennel I also offer my warmest acknowledgment for the
papers they have so kindly contributed.

In conclusion, I permit myself a few words in explanation of that which
I know will be laid to my charge, namely, that my book tells too little
of Leech and too much of his work, and that it is chronologically
deficient. In excuse I plead that the life of Leech as I knew it from
its early days was, like that of most artists, entirely devoid of such
incidents as would interest the public; and that from the difficulty of
acquiring certain information, and the varying times at which it was
supplied, chronological accuracy was impossible.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.


  CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

        PROLOGUE                                                1

     I. EARLY DAYS                                              3

    II. EARLY WORK                                             20

   III. MR. PERCIVAL LEIGH AND LEECH                           75

    IV. MEETING OF MULREADY AND LEECH                          95

     V. "THE PHYSIOLOGY OF EVENING PARTIES," BY ALBERT SMITH  104

    VI. JOHN LEECH AND THE ETON BOY                           130

   VII. MR. SPONGE'S SPORTING TOUR                            137

  VIII. "THE MARCHIONESS OF BRINVILLIERS," BY ALBERT SMITH    151

    IX. "THE MARCHIONESS OF BRINVILLIERS"--CONTINUED          163

     X. "A MAN MADE OF MONEY," BY DOUGLAS JERROLD             178

    XI. ALBERT SMITH AND LEECH                                206

   XII. MR. ADAMS AND LEECH                                   233

  XIII. "COMIC GRAMMAR" AND "COMIC HISTORY"      255



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE

  PORTRAIT OF JOHN LEECH                                  _Frontispiece_

  HERCULES RETURNING FROM A FANCY BALL                    _To face p._ 3

  PHYSICIAN AND GENERAL PRACTITIONER                                  27

  "WHERE 'AVE WE BIN? WHY, TO SEE THE COVE 'UNG, TO BE SURE!"         29

  AN EYE TO BUSINESS                                                  31

  BUT AUGUSTUS'S HEART WAS TOO FULL TO SPEAK                          33

  "SIR! PLEASE, MR.! SIR! YOU'VE FORGOT THE DOOR-KEY!"                38

  ETON BOY (_loq._): "Come, governor! just one toast--'The Ladies'!"  39

  THE RETURN FROM THE DERBY                                           43

  THE DERBY EPIDEMIC                                                  44

  SOMETHING LIKE A HOLIDAY                                            46

  ALARMING SYMPTOMS ON EATING BOILED BEEF AND GOOSEBERRY-PIE          47

  "SO YOU HAVE TAKEN ALL YOUR STUFF, AND DON'T FEEL ANY BETTER, EH?"  50

  AWFUL APPARITION TO A GENTLEMAN WHILST SHAVING IN THE EDGWARE ROAD,
    SEPTEMBER 29, 1846.                                               51

  "A HOLDER AND A THINNER WINE"                                       53

  "HOLLO! HI! HERE, SOMEBODY! I'VE TURNED ON THE HOT WATER, AND I
    CAN'T TURN IT OFF AGAIN!"                                         54

  SYMPTOMS OF A MASQUERADE                                            55

  THE RISING GENERATION                                               57

  THE IRREPRESSIBLE JUVENILE                                          58

  THE RISING GENERATION                                               59

  SERVANT-GAL-ISM                                                     63

  THE RISING GENERATION                                               65

  SPECIAL CONSTABLE: "Now mind, you know--if I kill you, it's
    nothing; but if you kill me, by Jove! it's murder!"               67

  RECREATIONS IN NATURAL HISTORY                                      69

  CABMAN IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE TAKEN A WRONG TURNING, THAT'S ALL        70

  MR. BRIGGS DOES A LITTLE SHOOTING                                   73

  "FIDDLE-FADDLE" FASHIONS                                            90

  "FIDDLE-FADDLE" FASHIONS                                            91

  THE MULREADY ENVELOPE                                               96

  FORES'S COMIC ENVELOPE                                              97

  MAMMA AND THE GIRLS                                                106

  TWO RUDE YOUNG MEN                                                 107

  THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE                                              108

  AN OLIVE-BRANCH                                                    109

  TWO "GANGLING" YOUNG MEN                                           110

  PREPARING FOR THE BALL                                             111

  THE ASSISTANT-WAITER                                               112

  THE BAND                                                           112

  WALLFLOWERS                                                        114

  MR. LEDBURY                                                        115

  MR. LEDBURY AND MISS HAMILTON                                      116

  THE WALTZ                                                          118

  IN THE CONSERVATORY                                                119

  THE BELLE OF THE EVENING                                           120

  MR. LEDBURY'S HAT                                                  121

  MR. PERCIVAL JENKS                                                 123

  CLOWN: "Oh, see what I've found!"                                  127

  MISS CINTHIA SINGS                                                 128

  DREADFUL FOR YOUNG OXFORD                                          131

  MISS LUCY AND MR. SPONGE                                           149

  LE PREMIER PAS                                        _To face p._ 160

  DEATH OF ST. CROIX                                         "       172

  A FAMILY PICTURE                                                   189

  AND THERE STOOD JERICHO                                            203

  MR. SIMMONS'S ATTEMPT AT REFORM                                    215

  THE BELLE OF THE MONTH--AUGUST--TAKING A "CONSTITUTIONAL" IN
    KENSINGTON GARDENS. TIME, 8 A.M.                                 221

  THE BALCONY NUISANCE                                               223

  THE BELLE OF THE MONTH--NOVEMBER--"IN DISTRESS OFF A
    LEE-SHORE--BRIGHTON PIER"                                        229

  "NOW, JACK, MY BOY! THERE'S NO TIME TO LOSE! WE'VE TEN MILES TO
    GO TO COVER"                                                     245

  EFFECTS OF A FALL                                                  253

  BILLY TAYLOR                                                       256

  "WHERE GOT'S THOU THAT GOOSE? LOOK!"                               257

  QUEEN ELEANOR AND FAIR ROSAMOND                                    261

  KING EDWARD INTRODUCING HIS SON AS PRINCE OF WALES TO HIS
    NEWLY-ACQUIRED SUBJECTS                                          262

  UNSEEMLY CONDUCT OF HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES                         263

  THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER GOES INTO MOURNING FOR HIS LITTLE NEPHEWS   264

  MARY'S ELOPEMENT                                                   266



JOHN LEECH:

_HIS LIFE AND WORK_

PROLOGUE.


_"'Leech' (spelt 'leich') is an old Saxon word for 'surgeon,'" writes a
friend to me. "Hence, as you know, the employment of the word 'leech' as
a term applied in former times to doctors."_

_Though Leech is not a common name, I have met with several bearers of
it under every variety of spelling that the word was capable of--Leech,
Lietch, Leich, Leeche, Leitch, etc. Only two of the owners of these
names became known to fame--John, of immortal memory, and, longo
intervallo, William Leitch, a Scottish artist, and landscape-painter of
considerable merit, whose pictures, generally of a classic character,
found favour amongst a certain class of buyers. A large subject of much
beauty was engraved, and, I think, formed the prize-engraving for the
year for the Art Union of London. I have no doubt William Leitch was
frequently asked if he were related to John. The sound of the names was
similar, and few inquirers knew of the difference in the spelling.
Whether William was asked the question or not I cannot speak to with
certainty; but that John was I am sure, because he told me so himself,
and, as well as I can recall them, in the following words:_

_"I was asked the other day if I were related to a man of the same
name--a Scotchman--a landscape-painter. He spells his name L-e-i-t-c-h,
you know. I said, 'No; the Scotch gentleman's name is spelt in the
Scotch way, with the 'itch in it.' Not bad, eh? I hope nobody will tell
him!"_

_I met William Leitch several times (he died long ago), and was always
charmed by his refined and gentle manner; but we never became intimate,
so I cannot say I had the following anecdote from himself; but it was
told me by an intimate friend of the artist, who assured me that he had
it from Leitch direct._

_Leitch had a considerable practice as a drawing-master, chiefly amongst
the higher classes. He taught the very highest, for he gave lessons to
the Queen herself. I have never had the honour of seeing any of her
Majesty's drawings, but I have had the advantage of her criticism, and I
can well believe in the reports of the excellence of her work._

_The story goes that one day, in the course of a lesson, the Queen let
her pencil fall to the ground. Both master and pupil stooped to pick it
up; and, to the horror of Leitch, there was a collision--the master's
head struck that of his royal pupil! and before he could stammer an
apology, the Queen said, smiling:_

_"Well, Mr. Leitch, if we bring our heads together in this way, I
ought to improve rapidly."_

[Illustration: _"Hercules" returning from a Fancy Bail._

_R. E. & S. 1888._]



CHAPTER I.

EARLY DAYS.


On the 29th of August, 1817, a boy was born in London gifted with a
genius which, in the short time allowed for its development, delighted
and astonished the world. The child's name was Leech, and he was
christened John. The Leech family was of Irish extraction. From
information received, it appears that the father of Leech, also called
John, was possessed of an uncle who had made a large fortune as the
owner of the London Coffee-House, Ludgate Hill. With this fortune he
retired, leaving his nephew to reign in his stead at the Coffee-House,
not without a reasonable hope and expectation that the nephew would
follow in the uncle's prosperous footsteps. But times had changed. Clubs
were being formed, and the customers of the Ludgate Hill place of
entertainment preferred to be enrolled as members of the novel
institutions rather than subject themselves to the somewhat mixed
company at the Coffee-House. Leech's establishment, however, struggled
on into my early time, for I can well remember being advised, if I
wished for a good and wonderfully cheap dinner, consisting--as per
advertisement--of quite startling varieties of dishes, my desire might
be gratified by payment of eighteen-pence to the authorities at the
London Coffee-House, Ludgate Hill.

I do not know the precise time at which the doors of the Coffee-House
were finally closed and the father Leech, with his large family, was
thrown upon the world; but it must have been some years after the
subject of this memoir had been enrolled amongst the Charterhouse
scholars, an event that took place when he was seven years old. Previous
to this by about four years, some feeble buds of the genius that
blossomed so abundantly afterwards are said to have shown themselves,
and to have been observed by Flaxman as the child sat with pencil and
paper on his mother's knee. The great sculptor is reported to have said:

"This drawing is wonderful. Do not let him be cramped by
drawing-lessons; let his genius follow its own bent. He will astonish
the world."

I venture to think that for this story a grain of salt would be by no
means sufficient. No drawing done by a child of three years old, however
gifted, could be "wonderful" in the estimation of Flaxman; and that such
an artist as he was should have said anything so foolish as what is
tantamount to advising a parent against "learning to draw" I take the
liberty of disbelieving. Flaxman was a friend of the Leeches, and in
after years, while John Leech was still a youth, the sculptor again
examined some of his sketches, and, after looking well at them, he very
likely said, as is reported:

"That boy must be an artist; he will be nothing else."

A child of seven seems almost cruelly young to be subjected to the
hardships of a public school.

"I thought," wrote John's father, "that I was not wrong in sending him
thus early, as Dr. Russell, the head-master, had a son of the same age
in the school, and John was in the same form with him."

No doubt the elder Leech felt much the parting from his little son, but
to Mrs. Leech the boy's leaving home was a severe blow; the mother's
heart would no doubt realize and exaggerate the perils to mind and body
arising from contact with something like six hundred fellow-pupils,
scarcely one so young, and none so loving and lovable as her little boy.
John was boarded at a house close by the Charterhouse, and only allowed
to go home at rare intervals. The fond mother, however, could not live
without seeing him, and to enable her to gratify her longing, a room was
hired in a house overlooking the boy's playground, from which, carefully
hidden, she could see her little son as he walked and talked with the
form-fellow, "the particular friend" to whom a sympathetic nature had
attached him; or watch him as he joined heart and soul in some game--not
too rough--for a fall from his pony, by which his arm had been broken
and was still far from strong, made such rough sports as are common to
schoolboys too dangerous to be indulged in.

The Charterhouse rejoiced in a drawing-master named Burgess. Upon what
principles that master proceeded to train the youth of Charterhouse I am
unable to speak; they were most likely those in vogue at the time of
young Leech's sojourn. If they were of that description, it was
fortunate that Leech paid--as is said--little or no attention to them,
finding a difficulty, no doubt, in applying them to the sketches that
constantly fell from him on to the pages of his school-books.

It may be urged that when Flaxman warned the boy's mother against
teaching as being sure to cramp her son's genius, he alluded to the
Burgess method. That may have been so. But a man like Flaxman, who had
possessed himself by severest study as a young man of the means by which
his powers were developed, would, I think, have been sure to warn Mrs.
Leech of the difference between the teaching that would be mischievous,
and that which is proved to be indispensable by the universal practice
of the greatest painters. I am aware I shall be confronted with the case
of John Leech, who was, so to speak, entirely self-taught; but Leech was
not a painter, and certainly never could have become a good one without
training; besides, he was altogether exceptional--unique, in fact. In my
opinion, we are as likely to see another Shakespeare or Dickens as
another Leech.

This is a digression, for which I apologize. I cannot find that my
hero--I may call him such, for he was ever a hero to me--paid much
attention to classical knowledge. Latin verses were impossible to him,
but they had to be done; so, as he said, he "got somebody to do them for
him." In spite of his weak arm, he fenced with Angelo, the school
fencing-master; but, beyond the advantage of the exercise, the
accomplishment was of no use to him.

Here I cannot resist an anecdote of which the fencing reminds me.

Some years before Leech's death the editor of a newspaper, who was
remarkable for the severity of his criticisms and for his extreme
personal ugliness, had made some caustic remarks on Leech's work in
general, and on some special drawings in particular.

"If that chap," said Leech to me, "doesn't mind what he is about, I will
_draw_ and defend myself"--an idle threat, for nothing could have
provoked that gentle, noble nature into personality, no trace of which
is to be found in the long list of his admirable works.

Several letters, delightfully boyish, written by Leech to his father
from the Charterhouse, are in my possession. Some of them, I think, may
appropriately appear in this place.


  "Septr 19 1826

  "DEAR PAPA

 "I hope you are quite well. I beg you will let me come out to see you
for I am so dull here, and I am always fretting about, because I wrote
to you yesterday and you would not let me come out. I will fag hard if
you will let me come out, and will you write to me, and the letter that
you write put in when you are going to Esex and when you return for I
want to very particularly

"How is Mamma, Brother and Sisters

"I hope Ester is quite well,

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH

"I am very sorry that I stayed away from School with ---- but I promise
never to do it again and I beg you will let me come out on Sunday."


  "Charter House October 2 _1826_

  "MY DEAR PAPA.

"You told me to write to you when the reports where made out, they are
made out now, and mine is, does his Best. I hope you are quite well, and
Mamma the same. I hope Tom Mary Caroline, and Ester are quite well. I
have not spoken to Mr Chapman yet about the tuter, and drawing Master,
because I had not an oppertunity, send me a cake as soon as it is
convenient

  "Your affectionate son
    "J LEECH."


  [_No date._]

  "MY DEAR PAPA.

"I write this note to know how poor little Polly is I hope she is better
to day pray write to me before the day is over and tell me how she is. I
hope you and Mamma Tom and Fanny are all well since I left you last
night.

"I am happy to say I am at the very top off the Form

"Tell Mamma not to forget to come and see me on Wenesday as she said she
would. I would write to Polly now only I have not time pray give Polly a
1000 kiss for me and Fanny and Tom the same. As I said before I hope
poor little Polly is better.

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH."


  "MY DEAR PAPA,

"My report was made out yesterday but I forgot to write to you
therefore I tell you to-day, it was (generally attentive) If any
afternoon or morning that you have time I should be very happy to see
you. You can see me in the morning from 12 to half-past two and in the
evening from 4 till 9.

"Send me another suit of clothes if you please and a cap. Mind the
gloves. I hope Polly continues to get better and I hope you and Mamma
Brother and sisters are quite well. Send me a penknife if you please. I
remain

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH."


  "DEAR PAPA

"Will you let me come out to see you once before my sisters go to
school, for I feel quite unhappy here and miserable. I am afraid I shall
not be able to get promoted yet, therefore I am afraid I shant be able
to come out. But you promised me that if I did not get promoted you
would let me come out. I try as much as I can to get promoted. Do let me
come out once before my Sisters go to School.

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH

"Tell Mamma to send me a cake as soon as she can

"Send me some money as soon as you can."



  "September 14 1827

  "MY DEAR PAPA.

"I am happy to say that Mr Baliscombe says that for my Holiday Task I
deserve promotion and says it is very well done indeed. Come and see me
as soon as you can. I think I shall get promoted when Dr Russell sees my
Holiday Task--In fact Mr Baliscombe is going to ask him to put me up. I
hope you and Mamma are quite well. Springett went to the play he tells
me and did not come back till the morning. I hope dear old Camello and
the dear little Baby Bunning are quite well, would you mind sending Mrs
Jeffkins some partridges for I know she would like some. Tell Mamma to
write to me as soon as she possibly can.

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH

"P.S. I would not send the porter only I have got neither wafer nor
seal'wax."


  "Sepr 16th 1827

  "MY DEAR PAPA.

"I am very happy indeed to say that I am promoted for I know it makes
you happy. Let me come out next Saturday and come and see me to-morrow.
I have no sealing wax or would not send the porter.

"I hope you are quite well and Mamma and Old Camello and the little Baby
Bunning the same

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH."


  "DEAR PAPA

"As I am rather short of money and want to keep my money I've got, I
should be much obliged if you would give my ambassador 18 pence or so as
I've promised a boy at school one of those small bladders to make
balloons of, if you remember you bought me one once. I hope you are all
well

  "I remain
    "Your affectionate son
      "J LEECH."


  "DEAR PAPA

"Will you be so kind as to send me half a crown by the porter and
allowence me every week

"I was obliged to send the porter

"I hope you Mamma Brothers and sisters are quite well.

  "Your affectionate son
    "J LEECH."


  [_No date._]

  "MY DEAR MAMMA

"I understand that you came to see me yesterday, and me being in the
green, you did not see me, so that made me still more unhappy, I beg you
will come and see me on Saturday for I am very unhappy.

"I want to see you or Papa very much indeed.

  "Your affectionate son
    "J LEECH."


  "MY DEAR PAPA.

"You desired me to send you my report I have not had it since the last
one. I went into be examined by Dr Russell yesterday but I did not get
promoted but I did not lose more than one or two places. I will send you
my next report. I hope you are quite well.

"Mamma and Brother and sisters the Same

  "Your affectionate
    "Son
      "J LEECH.

"I would have written to you sooner but _I had not time_."


Leech made no way at the Charterhouse; never approaching the position
held by Thackeray, who was four years his senior: indeed, I doubt that
they saw, or cared to see, much of each other, little dreaming that they
would ultimately become dear and fast friends till death separated them,
only to meet again, as we believe, after the sad, short interval that
elapsed between the deaths of each.

I cannot say I believe in inherited talent, but the fact that the elder
Leech was said to be a remarkable draughtsman seems to strengthen the
theory held by some people. I have never seen any specimens of the
father's drawing, nor did I ever hear the son speak of it. Anyway, Leech
_père_ had no faith in the practice of art as a means of livelihood for
his son, for he informed the youth, after a nine years' attendance at
the Charterhouse, that he was destined for the medical profession. There
is no record of any objection on the part of Leech to his father's
decision, at which I feel surprise; for the flame which burnt so
brilliantly in after-life must have been always well alight, and very
antagonistic to the kind of work required from the embryo surgeon.
Leech's gentle yielding nature influenced him then as always; and he
went to St. Bartholomew's, where under Mr. Stanley, the surgeon of the
hospital, he worked hard and delighted his master by his excellent
anatomical drawings. From these studies may be traced, I think, much of
the knowledge of the human form, and above all of _proportion_, always
displayed in his work; for in those wonderful drawings, whether a figure
is tall or short, fat or thin, whether he deals with a child or a giant,
with a dog or a horse, no disproportion can be found.

It appears that the elder Leech's affairs were already in such an
embarrassed condition, that an intention to place his son with Sir
George Ballingall, an eminent Scottish doctor, was abandoned, and after
a time he was placed with a Mr. Whittle, a very remarkable person, who
figures under the name of Rawkins in a novel written by Albert Smith and
illustrated by Leech. Smith's work, with the title of "The Adventures of
Mr. Ledbury and his Friend Jack Johnson," was first published in
_Bentley's Miscellany_.

"Mr. Rawkins," says Albert Smith, "was so extraordinary a person for a
medical practitioner that, had we only read of him instead of having
known him, we should at once have put him down as the far-fetched
creation of the author's brain. He was about eight-and-thirty years old,
and of herculean build except his legs, which were small in comparison
with the rest of his body. But he thought that he was modelled after the
statues of antiquity, and, indeed, in respect of his nose, which was
broken, he was not far wrong in his idea--that feature having been
damaged in some hospital skirmish when he was a student. His face was
adorned with a luxuriant fringe of black whiskers, meeting under his
chin, whilst his hair, of a similar hue, was cut rather short about his
head, and worn without the least regard to any particular style or
direction. But it was also his class of pursuits that made him so
singular a character. Every available apartment in his house not
actually in use by human beings was appropriated to the conserving of
innumerable rabbits, guinea-pigs, and ferrets. His areas were filled
with poultry, bird-cages hung at every window, and the whole of his roof
had been converted into one enormous pigeon-trap. It was one of his most
favourite occupations to sit, on fine afternoons, with brandy-and-water
and a pipe, and catch his neighbours' birds. He had very little private
practice; the butcher, the baker, and the tobacconist were his chief
patients, who employed him more especially with the intention of working
out their accounts. He derived his principal income from the retail of
his shop, his appointments of medical man to the police force and parish
poor, and breeding fancy rabbits. These various avocations pretty well
filled up his time, and when at home he passed his spare minutes in
practising gymnastics--balancing himself upon one hand and laying hold
of staples, thus keeping himself at right angles to the wall, with other
feats of strength, the acquisition of which he thought necessary in
enabling him to support the character of Hercules--his favourite
impersonation--with due effect."

It is not to be wondered at that Mr. Whittle, _alias_ Rawkins, should
find that stealing his neighbours' pigeons, together with his other
unprofitable accomplishments, to say nothing of the sparseness of paying
patients, could have only one termination--bankruptcy. Mr. Whittle ended
his career in a public-house, of which he became proprietor after
marrying the widow who kept it. Here he put off his coat to his work,
and in his shirt-sleeves served his customers with beer. Leech and
Albert Smith, and others of his pupils took his beer readily, though
they had always declined to take his pills. It is said that he was
originally a Quaker, and that he died a missionary at the Antipodes.

Leech stayed but a short time with the pigeon-fancying Whittle, whom
he left to be placed under Dr. John Cockle, afterwards Physician to the
Royal Free Hospital. Leech seems to have been a pretty regular attendant
at anatomical and other lectures, and it goes without saying that his
notes were garnished with sketches, for which his fellow-students sat
unconsciously; and plenty of them remain to prove the impossibility of
checking an inclination so strongly implanted in such a genuine artist
as John Leech.



CHAPTER II.

EARLY WORK.


It was at St. Bartholomew's that Leech made acquaintance, which soon
ripened into friendship, with Albert Smith, Percival Leigh (a future
comrade on the _Punch_ Staff, and author of the "Comic Latin Grammar,"
"Pips' Diary," etc.), Gilbert à Beckett and many others, all or most of
whom served as models for that unerring pencil.

The impecunious condition of Leech senior before John had reached his
eighteenth year was such as to make his chances of getting a living by
medicine or surgery, even if successful, so remote as to place them
beyond consideration. No doubt the elder Leech's misfortunes were
"blessings in disguise," for we owe to them the necessity that compelled
the younger man to devote himself to art.

The art of drawing upon wood, to which Leech in his later years almost
entirely confined himself, dates back from very early times.
Lithography, or drawing upon stone, is a comparatively modern invention,
and, until the introduction of photography, was used for varieties of
artistic reproduction. It was to that process we owe the first published
work of Leech. The artist was eighteen years old when "Etchings and
Sketchings," by A. Pen, Esq., price 2s. plain, 3s. coloured, was offered
tremblingly to the public. The work was in the shape of four quarto
sheets, which were covered with sketches, more or less caricatures, of
cabmen, policemen, street musicians, hackney coachmen with their
vehicles and the peculiar breed of animal attached to them, and other
varieties of life and character common to the streets of London. This
work is now very rarely to be met with; it consisted chiefly, I believe,
of characteristic heads and half-length figures. To "Etchings and
Sketchings" the young artist added some political caricatures, also in
lithography, of considerable merit. With these, or, rather, with the
heavy stones on which they were drawn, we may imagine the weary
wanderings from publisher to publisher; the painful anxiety with which
the verdict, on which so much depended, was waited for; the hopes that
brightened at a word of commendation, only to be scattered by a few
stereotyped phrases, such as, "Ah, very clever, but these sort of things
are not in our way, you see; there is no demand," and so on.

1836, when Leech was still a boy, saw the production of works called
"The Boy's Own Series," "Studies from Nature," "Amateur Originals," "The
Ups and Downs of Life; or, The Vicissitudes of a Swell," etc.

The delicate touch and the grasp of character peculiar to the artist are
recognised at once in many examples.

Leech's struggle for bread for himself and others must have been
terrible at this time; indeed, up to the establishment of Rowland Hill's
penny post, when, by what may be called a brilliant opportunity, Leech
attracted for the first time the public attention, which never deserted
him.

The title of this book is "The Life and _Work_ of John Leech." Of the
former, as I have shown, there is little to tell; on the latter,
volumes, critical, descriptive, appreciative, might be written. An
artist is destined to immortality or speedy oblivion according to his
work, and it was my earnest hope, on undertaking this memoir, that I
should be able to prove, by the finest examples of Leech's genius, that
an indisputable claim to immortality was established for him. To a great
extent I have been permitted to do so; but the law of copyright has
debarred me from the selection of many brilliant pictures of life and
character on which my, perhaps unreasonably covetous, eyes had rested.
The proprietors of _Punch_ and also of the copyright of most of Leech's
other works are, no doubt, properly careful of their interests, and I
can imagine their surprise at the extent of my first demands upon their
good-nature. In my ignorance I had thought that as my object was the
honour and glory of John Leech--a feeling, no doubt, shared by them--the
treasures of _Punch_ would be spread before me, with a request that I
would help myself. I do not in the least complain that I found myself
mistaken. There are, no doubt, good reasons for the limits to which I
was restricted, though I am unable to see them; and, granting the
existence of those reasons, I should be ungrateful if I did not express
my thanks for the small number of illustrations from _Punch_ and other
sources which I am allowed to use. I confess I was delighted to find
that the first few years of the existence of _Punch_ were free by lapse
of time from copyright protection, and as some of Leech's best work
appears in the volumes between 1841 and 1849, I am able to show my
readers further proofs of the justice of the artist's claim to be
remembered for all time.

Leech's hatred of organ-grinding began very early in his career.

  "WANTED, BY AN AGED LADY OF VERY NERVOUS TEMPERAMENT, A PROFESSOR, WHO
  WILL UNDERTAKE TO MESMERIZE ALL THE ORGANS IN HER STREET. SALARY, SO
  MUCH PER ORGAN."

The drawing which appeared in _Punch_ in 1843, with the above title, was
the first of the humorous series that continued almost unbroken for more
than twenty years. It is pitiable to think of the long martyrdom that
Leech suffered from an abnormal nervous organization, which ultimately
made street-noises absolute agony to him. In the illustration the
singular difference of dress in the organ-grinder of fifty years ago and
him of the present time is noticeable, as also are the perfect
expressions of the small audience. Leech's chief contributions to
_Punch_ at this time were the large cuts, in which Peel, Brougham, the
great Duke of Wellington, and others, play political parts in matters
that would be of little interest to the reader of to-day, nor are the
drawings of exceptional merit.

In 1844 there appeared an irresistible little cut, the precursor of so
many admirable variations of skating and sliding incidents.

  "NOW, LOBSTER, KEEP THE POT A-BILING."

What could surpass the impudence of the vigorous youngster, or the
expression of the guardsman of amused wonder as he looks down upon the
audacious imp, as Goliath might have looked upon David?

The sensation created by the first appearance of the dwarf Tom Thumb
remains vividly in my memory. I saw him in all his impersonations; that
of Napoleon, in which he was dressed in exact imitation of the Emperor,
was very droll. The little creature was at Waterloo, taking quantities
of snuff from his waistcoat pocket, giving his orders for the final
charge which decided his fate; and when he saw that all was lost, his
distress was terrible: he wrung his little hands and wept copiously,
amidst the uproarious applause and laughter of the audience. Then he was
at St. Helena, and, standing on an imaginary rock, he folded his arms,
and gazed wistfully in the direction of his beloved France. After a
long, lingering look, he shook his little head, and with a sigh so loud
as to astonish us, he dashed the tears from his eyes, and made his bow
to the audience, some of whom affected to be shocked by the laughter of
the unthinking, and loudly expressed their sympathy with the great man
in his fall. I well remember the great Duke going to see the amusing
dwarf, but why Leech should have represented him in the dancing
attitude, as shown in the illustration, seems strange. Surely a more
serious imitation of a Napoleonic attitude would have been more telling
and more comic.

The next print illustrates a paper in _Punch_ called "Physicians and
General Practitioners."

"The physician almost invariably dresses in black," says the writer,
"and wears a white neck-cloth. He also often affects smalls and gaiters,
likewise shirt-frills" (fancy a physician in these days thus dressed!).
He appears, no doubt very properly, in perpetual mourning. The general
practitioner more frequently sports coloured clothes, as drab trousers
and a figured waistcoat. With respect to features, the Roman nose, we
think, is more characteristic of physicians; while among general
practitioners, we should say, the more common of the two was the snub.

The general practitioner and the physician often meet professionally,
on which occasion their interests as well as their opinions are very apt
to clash; whereupon an altercation ensues, which ends by the physician
telling the general practitioner that he is an "impudent quack," and the
general practitioner's replying to the physician that he is "a
contemptible humbug."

[Illustration]

How perfectly Leech has realized the scene for us the drawing
abundantly shows. It is, perhaps, not too much to say that he never
surpassed in drawing, expression, and character, these two admirable
figures; full of contempt for each other, the emotion is expressed
naturally, and with due regard to the peculiarities, widely varying, of
each of the disputants.

More years ago than I care to remember, I met at dinner Mr. Gibson, the
Newgate surgeon. At that time an agitation was afoot respecting public
executions, the advocates maintaining that the sight of a
fellow-creature done to death acted as a deterrent on any of the
sight-seers who were disposed to risk a similar fate, the objectors
declaring that the exhibition only made brutes more brutal, and was in
no way a deterrent. As Mr. Gibson had had a long experience of criminals
and their ways, it was thought worth while to ask his opinion of the
matter in dispute. The surgeon said that, feeling strongly on the
subject of public hanging, he had made a point of asking persons under
sentence of death if they had ever attended executions, and he found
that over three-fourths--he told us the exact number, but I cannot trust
my memory on the point--had witnessed the finishing of the law. So much
for the deterrent effect. The disgraceful scenes that took place at the
execution of the Mannings produced a powerful letter to the press from
Dickens, and an equally powerful article in the _Daily News_, by Mr.
Parkinson. Parliament was aroused, and public executions ceased.

[Illustration: "WHERE 'AVE WE BIN? WHY, TO SEE THE COVE 'UNG, TO BE
SURE!"]

The Leech drawing which follows appeared in 1845, some years before the
Manning murder, and a considerable time previous to the agitation on the
subject of hanging in public. If ever a moral lesson was inculcated by a
work of art, this powerful drawing is an example. Who knows how much it
may have done towards hastening the time when those horrible exhibitions
ceased?

Is this squalid group, with debauchery and criminality in evidence in
each figure, likely to be morally impressed by the sight of a public
hanging? What are they but types of a class that always frequented such
scenes? The dreadful woman has carried her child with her; the little
creature's attenuated limbs point to the neglect and ill-usage sure to
be met with from such parents.

To those unacquainted with the "Caudle Lectures" by Douglas Jerrold,
which appeared at this time in _Punch_, I recommend the perusal of those
inimitable papers. One of their merits is their having given occasion
for an admirable drawing by Leech. Lord Brougham was, in the eyes of
_Punch_ and many others, a firebrand in the House of Lords. He was
irrepressible, contentious, and brilliant on all occasions, quarrelsome
in the extreme, and a thorn in the side of whatever Government was in
power unless he was a member of it. The Woolsack, more especially the
object of his ambition, was made a very uneasy seat to any occupant.
Behold him, then, as Mrs. Caudle--an excellent likeness--making night
hideous for the unhappy Caudle, whose part is played by the Lord
Chancellor--Lyndhurst--while the Caudle pillow is changed into the
Woolsack.

  "THE MRS. CAUDLE OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS."

  "What do you say? _Thank heaven! you are going to enjoy the recess,
  and you'll be rid of me for some months?_ Never mind. Depend upon it,
  when you come back, you shall have it again. No, I don't raise the
  House and set everybody by the ears; but I'm not going to give up
  every little privilege, though it's seldom I open my lips, goodness
  knows!"--"Caudle Lectures" (improved).

[Illustration: "AN EYE TO BUSINESS."]

Whether such a scene as the following ever took place may be doubted;
but that it might have happened, and may happen again, there is no
doubt. One meets with strange seaside objects, and to bathe at the same
time as one's tailor is within the bounds of possibility. Leech
evidently thought so, hence this delightful little cut, wherein we see
the creditor--evidently a tailor--improving the occasion to remind his
fellow-swimmer of his little bill. See the businesslike aspect of the
one and the astonishment and alarm of the other, who in the next few
vigorous strokes will place himself beyond the reach of his creditor.

Full of sympathy, as Leech was, for human suffering, and frequently as
he dealt with sea-sickness, he certainly never showed the least pity for
the sufferers by that miserable malady. Its ludicrous aspect was
irresistible to him, as numbers of illustrations sufficiently prove, and
none more perfectly than the one introduced in this place, with the
title of "Love on the Ocean," representing a couple evidently married on
the morning of this tempestuous day. "Why, oh why," I can hear the
unhappy bridegroom say to himself, "did we not arrange to pass our
honeymoon in some pleasant place in England, and so have avoided
crossing this dreadful sea?" To be ill in the dear presence of--oh,
horror! And the lady is so unconscious, so serenely unconscious, of the
impending catastrophe! She enjoys the sea, and, being of a poetical
turn, she thus improves the occasion:

"Oh, is there not something, dear Augustus, truly sublime in the
warring of the elements?"

[Illustration: "BUT AUGUSTUS'S HEART WAS TOO FULL TO SPEAK."]

Let anyone who suffers at sea fancy what it is to be spoken to at all,
when the fearful sensations, the awful precursors of the inevitable,
have full possession of him, and then to suffer in the very presence of
the dear creature from whom every human weakness has been hitherto
carefully hidden! The drawing is followed by a poem, in which the
position of the unhappy Augustus is described. He could not speak in
reply to his bride's appeal; in the words of the poet:

  "She gazed upon the wave,
     Sublime she declared it;
   But no reply he gave--
     He could not have dared it.

  "Oh, then, 'Steward!' he cried,
     With deepest emotion;
   Then tottered to the side,
     And leant o'er the ocean."

Poor miserable Augustus! his face is pale as death, his treasured locks
blown out of shape; his eyeglass swings in the wind; the distant steamer
is making mad plunges into the heaving wave; the rain falls, and let us
hope the romantic bride turns away as her young husband "leans o'er the
ocean."

Only those who have passed from the tableland of life can recollect the
passion for speculation in railways that took possession of the public
in 1845 and the two or three following years. I myself caught the
disease, and, acting on the advice of "one who knew," I bought a number
of shares in one of the new lines; these were £25 shares, on which £8
each had been paid. I was assured by my adviser that I should receive
interest at the rate of eight per cent. till the year 1850; after that
time the line would pay ten. I awoke one morning to find that a panic
was in full blast, and all railway property depreciated. My feelings may
be imagined, for I certainly cannot describe them, when I found, on
reference to the _Times_, that my £8 shares--£17 being still due upon
each--were quoted at half a crown apiece! My friend had the courage of
his opinions, for he had invested the whole of his property in railway
stocks. He was completely ruined in mind and body, and died miserably
before the panic was over.

Multiply these examples by thousands, and you will arrive at a clear
idea of the nature of a panic, which seems to mystify the young
gentleman immortalized by Leech in the drawing illustrating the
following dialogue:

  "I SAY, JIM, WHAT'S A PANIC?"

  "BLOWED IF I KNOW; BUT THERE IS VON TO BE SEEN IN THE CITY."

It has been my fate in the course of a long life to attend several
fancy-dress balls, but I can scarcely call to mind a single example of
the successful assumption of an historical character, or, indeed, of any
character that could disguise the very modern young lady or gentleman
who was masquerading in it. My first acquaintance with Mark Lemon, so
long the esteemed editor of _Punch_, began in the Hanover Square Rooms,
at a fancy-dress ball given by a society--chiefly, I think, composed of
the better class of tradespeople--called the Gothics. On that occasion
might have been seen a young gentleman in the dress of one of Charles
II.'s courtiers, and looking about as unlike his prototype as
possible--in earnest conversation with another courtier, of the time of
George II. I was of the Charles' period, Lemon of that of the Georges.
Those who remember Lemon's figure later in life would have been
surprised by the change that time had made in it, if they could have
witnessed the interview between the two young men, one scarcely stouter
than the other. In proof of my idea that the greater number of guests
were in trade, I might give scraps of conversation between Mary Queen of
Scots and Guy Fawkes, or between Henry VIII. and Edward the Black
Prince, that would leave no doubt on the subject; nay, later in the
evening I had convincing proof of the correctness of my surmise, as you
shall hear. I danced with a Marie Antoinette of surpassing beauty, with
whom I fell incontinently in love. More than once I danced with her, and
when supper was announced, my earnest appeal to be allowed to conduct
her to the banquet was successful. My lovely friend was full of the
curiosity peculiar to her sex, which showed itself in her anxiety to
know who and what I was. To tell the truth, I was equally curious to
know who she was, and what her friends were.

"Well," said I, "if you will tell me who you are, I will tell you who I
am and what I am."

"Oh," was the reply, "I think I know what you are; but what's your
name?"

"You know what I am?" said I, surprised; "what am I?"

"Well, you are in the same line that we are, I fancy."

"And what line is that?"

"The army tailoring. Am I right?"

In the illustration that accompanies these remarks Leech has succeeded
in presenting to us a Norman knight completely characteristic, a
Crusader more real, I think, than any modern could have rendered him.
The lady he escorts, in a dress a few hundred years after Crusading
times, is very lovely. The capital little Marchioness, with the big
door-key, the four-wheeler, and the laughing crowd, make up a scene of
inimitable humour.

We now come to the first of those precocious youths in whose mannish
ways, whose delightful impertinence to their elders, whose early
susceptibility to the passion of love for ladies three times older than
themselves, are shown by Leech in many a scene I should have given to my
readers, but over them the Copyright Act stands guard. "'Tis true, 'tis
pity, pity 'tis, 'tis true," that in a book intended solely to do honour
to Leech's genius, so many of the most perfect examples of it are denied
to us.

[Illustration: "SIR! PLEASE, MR.! SIR! YOU'VE FORGOT THE DOOR-KEY!"]

Well may the governor stare with open-mouthed astonishment at such a
proposal from such a creature! Look at him as he throws his little arm
over his chair in the swaggering attitude he has so often observed in
his elders, and raises a full glass of claret! "Just as the twig is bent
the tree's inclined;" but that we know that in this instance the twig is
indulging in a harmless freak, one might be inclined to dread the tree's
inclining.

[Illustration: ETON BOY (_loq._): "Come, governor! just one toast--'The
Ladies'!"]

The political opinions of the writer of this book are of no consequence
to himself or anybody else. It would perhaps be pretty near the truth if
he were to admit that he had no political opinions worth speaking of. To
those, however, who were interested in the struggle for Free Trade,
which in the year 1846 raged with great fury, the question was, and
still is, one of vital interest. The landed interest, headed by most of
the aristocracy on the one side, and the manufacturing interest,
championed by Cobden and Bright, on the other, raised a storm in which
language the reverse of parliamentary was tossed from side to side. Peel
was Prime Minister, and his ultimate conversion to the principles of
Free Trade, and consequent advocacy of the repeal of the Corn Laws,
horrified his supporters--by whom, notably by Disraeli, he became the
object of envenomed attack--but led to a settlement of the question, and
gave Leech an opportunity for the production of drawings of the victor
and the vanquished, entitled, Cobden's "Bee's Wing" and Richmond's
"Black Draught," two of the most successful of the political cartoons.

"The Brook Green Volunteer" gave Leech the opportunity for many
illustrations which, to my mind, are nearer approaching caricature than
most of his work; nor have they, as a rule, the beauty or human interest
that so many of his drawings show. I fear I must charge the volunteer
himself with being in possession of an impossible face and a no less
impossible figure; his action also is exaggerated. In compensation we
have a delightful family group. The mother with that naked baby
perambulating her person is beyond all praise. Women do strange things,
but I deny the possibility of such a woman as Leech has drawn ever
finding it in her heart to marry that volunteer. The little thing
standing on tip-toe to dabble in baby's basin for the benefit of her
doll, the delighted lookers-on, not forgetting the warrior riding his
umbrella into action, are invested with the charm that Leech, and Leech
only, could give them.

The year 1846 gave birth to the first fruit from a field in which Leech
found such a bountiful harvest. The racecourse gave opportunities for
the exhibition of life and character of which the great artist took
advantage in numberless delightful examples. Pen and pencil record
adventures by road and rail. Whether the excursionist is going to the
Derby or returning from it, whether he is high or low, a Duke or a
costermonger, that unerring hand is ready to note his follies or his
excesses, always with a kindly touch, or to point a moral if a graver
opportunity presents itself.

A madman, they say, thinks all the world mad but himself; and it is not
uncommon for a drunken man to imagine himself to be the only sober
person in the company. That some feeling of this kind possesses the
rider in the drawing opposite, as he addresses the stolid postboy, is
evident enough; his drunken smile, his battered hat, and his dishevelled
dress, are eloquent of his proceedings on the course; and if his return
from the Derby is not signalized by a fall from his horse, he will be
more fortunate than he deserves to be. In works of art the value of
contrast is well known, and a better example than the face of the
postboy offers to that of his questioner could not be imagined. He
drunk, indeed! not a bit of it.

A pretty creature in the background must not be overlooked. She is a
perfect specimen of Leech's power of creating beauty by a few
pencil-marks. Her beauty has evidently attracted notice, and caused
complimentary remarks from passers-by, which are resented by the old
lady in charge, who tells the speaker to "_go on with his imperdence_!"

[Illustration: "THE RETURN FROM THE DERBY."

  SMITH: "Hollo! Poster, ain't you precious drunk, rather?"

  POSTBOY: "Drunk! not a bit of it!"]

I cannot resist presenting my readers with another Derby sketch. It
is more than probable that if either of these young gentlemen had asked
for leave of absence from his official duties for the purpose of going
to the Derby, he would have met with stern denial. The attraction,
however, is irresistible, and though the subterfuge by which it is
achieved is not to be defended, who is there that is not glad that the
wicked boy is penning that audacious letter, as it is the cause of our
having a picture that is a joy for ever? As a work of art, whether as a
composition of lines and light and shadow, in addition to perfect
character and expression, this drawing takes rank amongst the best of
Leech's works. Note the admirable action of the youth who is putting on
his coat--a momentary movement caught with consummate skill.

[Illustration: "THE DERBY EPIDEMIC."]

  "GENTLEMEN,

"Owing to sudden and very severe indisposition, I regret to say that I
shall not be able to attend the office to-day. I hope, however, to be
able to resume my duties to-morrow.

  "I am, gentlemen,
    "Yours very obediently,
      "PHILLIP COX."

Doctors differ, as everybody knows; and in no opinion do they differ
more than in the way children should be treated. One of the faculty will
tell you that a healthy child should be allowed to eat as much as he or
she likes; another advises that as grown-up people are disposed to eat a
great deal more than is good for them, a boy is pretty sure to do the
same unless a wholesome check is imposed upon his unruly appetite. A
great authority is reported to have said that as many people are killed
by over-eating as by over-drinking; "in fact," said he, "they dig their
graves with their teeth." If that be so, the young gentleman in
"Something like a Holiday" is destined for an early tomb.

Comment on this wonderful youth is needless. We can only share the
alarm and astonishment so admirably expressed in the pastrycook's face.
That this awful juvenile's memory should serve him so perfectly when he
has taken such pains to cloud it, as well as every other faculty, is
also surprising.

[Illustration:

  PASTRYCOOK: "What have you had, sir?"

  BOY: "I've had two jellies; seven of those, and eleven of these; and
  six of those, and four bath-buns; a sausage-roll, ten almond-cakes,
  and a bottle of ginger-beer."]

[Illustration:

  "ALARMING SYMPTOMS ON EATING BOILED BEEF AND GOOSEBERRY-PIE."

  LITTLE BOY: "Oh lor, ma! I feel just exactly as if my jacket was
  buttoned."]

If "a fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind," the boy in the following
drawing would have delighted in the society of the _gourmet_ at the
pastrycook's. Boiled beef and gooseberry-pie are good things enough in
their way, but one may have too much of a good thing, with the
inevitable result of the tightening of the jacket. This greedy-boy
drawing appeared in 1846, and created a great sensation in the youth of
that day, and many days since. Careful parents have been known to use
this terrible example of over-eating as a warning to their offspring
that a fit of apoplexy frequently followed the tightening of the jacket.

I think my married reader of the rougher sex will agree with me when I
say that there are few more uncomfortable, not to say alarming, moments
than those spent in the awful interview with the parents of his beloved,
during which he has to prove beyond all doubt that he is in every
respect an individual to whom the happiness of a "dear child" can be
safely entrusted. What a bad quarter of an hour that is before the
meeting, when he has grave doubts as to the sufficiency of his income!
Will it, with other future possibilities, be considered sufficient to
assure to "my daughter, sir, the comforts to which she has been
accustomed"? This he will have to answer satisfactorily, together with a
few score more questions more or less agonizing. Leech drew a scene of
common application when he produced the picture that follows, which he
calls "Rather Alarming"--"On Horror's Head, Horrors accumulate." Look at
that terrible female and prospective mother-in-law!--think of satisfying
such a woman that you are worthy of admission into her family! How
sincerely one pities that poor little Corydon, and how heartily one
wishes him success!

  "RATHER ALARMING."

  LADY: "You wished, sir, I believe, to see me respecting the state of
  my daughter's affections with a view to a matrimonial alliance with
  that young lady. If you will walk into the library, my husband and I
  will discuss the matter with you."

  YOUNG CORYDON: "Oh, gracious!"

Leech treats--how admirably!--another greedy boy, or, rather, two greedy
boys.

  JACKY: "Hallo, Tommy! what 'ave you got there?"

  TOMMY: "Hoyster!"

  JACKY: "Oh, give us a bit!"

A Calais oyster, no doubt--large enough for both; but Tommy will not
share his happiness. Intensity of expression pervades him from his open
mouth to his fingers' ends. Jacky's face and figure are no less
expressive of eagerness to join in the banquet.

[Illustration:

  "SO YOU HAVE TAKEN ALL YOUR STUFF, AND DON'T FEEL ANY BETTER, EH?
  WELL, THEN, WE MUST ALTER THE TREATMENT. YOU MUST GET YOUR HEAD
  SHAVED; AND IF YOU WILL CALL HERE TO-MORROW MORNING ABOUT ELEVEN, MY
  PUPIL WILL PUT A SETON IN THE BACK OF YOUR NECK."]

If ever man suffered from _embarras de richesse_, I am that individual
in making a selection from the early drawings of Leech; where all, or
nearly all, are so perfect, choice becomes difficult indeed. I cannot
resist, however, the one that follows this remark. For perfection of
character and richness of humour, it seems to me unsurpassable. The
doctor's attitude as he contemplates his victim--who seems to have
brought with her the huge empty physic-bottles to prove that she has
taken all her "stuff"--to say nothing of his startling individuality, is
Nature itself; and that immortal pupil with the big knife, smiling in
anticipation of the operation "to-morrow about eleven"! One can read on
the face of the patient a dull realization of the doctor's announcement
that only a seton in the back of her neck--whatever that may mean to
her--will be of any service now; and to render the operation successful,
she must have her head shaved.

[Illustration:

  "AWFUL APPARITION TO A GENTLEMAN WHILST SHAVING IN THE EDGWARE ROAD,
  SEPTEMBER 29, 1846."]

The statue of the Duke of Wellington, which so long disgraced Hyde Park
Corner, has disappeared, to the satisfaction of the world in general,
though there were, I believe, a few dissentients who saw, or said they
saw, beauty in one of the most hideous objects ever perpetrated by the
hand of man; yet the "ayes had it," and the monster has departed.

The effigy was manufactured in a studio near Paddington Green, and it
was on its journey through the Edgware Road to the arch now on
Constitution Hill that the gentleman in Leech's cartoon was startled by
a very remarkable object, to say the least of it.

Speaking from my own experience, I have always found a difficulty in
giving the effect of wind in a picture; the action of it on drapery,
trees, skies, etc., is--from the almost momentary nature of the
gusts--far from an easy task. No one who ever handled a brush or a
pencil has been so successful as Leech in conveying the action of wind
on every object, and never did he succeed more completely than in an
"Awful Scene on the Chain Pier at Brighton," which is, no doubt,
somewhat farcical; but how intensely funny! Master Charley has gone, and
his ma's parasol has accompanied him. The horror-struck nursemaid is
almost blown off her feet; and Charley's brother, also terror-stricken,
will be down on his back in a moment; whilst his little sister maintains
her equilibrium with great difficulty. The flying hat, and the couple
staggering against the blast in the distance, all help to realize for us
the exact effect of a wind-storm.

  NURSEMAID: "Lawk! there goes Charley, and he's took his ma's parasol!
  What _will_ missus say?"

[Illustration:

  WAITER: "Gent in No. 4 likes a holder and a thinner wine, does he? I
  wonder how he'll like this bin!"]

As there is no condition in life that has not proved food for Leech's
pencil, that of the waiter was fruitful in many never-to-be-forgotten
scenes. I introduce one which is very humorous, and scarcely an
exaggeration. It is called "How to Suit the Taste." A guest seems to
have found his port too new and strong.

[Illustration:

  "HOLLO! HI! HERE, SOMEBODY! I'VE TURNED ON THE HOT WATER, AND I CAN'T
  TURN IT OFF AGAIN!"]

One of the peculiarities of Leech's art is that "time cannot wither it,
nor custom stale its infinite variety." I defy the most serious
Scotchman to look at the sketch below without laughing at it. As the
gentleman who is on the highroad to being parboiled is in one of the
sketches of 1846, many of my readers may see him for the first time. I
envy that man; but though I am very familiar with the wonderful little
drawing, a renewed acquaintance is always a delight to me. We know the
bather can jump out of the scalding water when he likes, but there he
is, with clouds of steam rising about him, screaming in deadly terror
for "somebody" to come to his rescue.

[Illustration: "SYMPTOMS OF A MASQUERADE."

  BETTER-HALF (_loq._): "Is this what you call sitting up with a sick
  friend, Mr. Wilkins?"]

Here follows a drawing of a different character, opening up very
appreciable possibilities, and not very pleasant consequences for the
hero of the piece. Mr. Wilkins left the domestic hearth to sit up with a
sick friend. "Yes, my dear," I can hear him say to his spouse, "I may be
late; for if I find I can comfort the poor fellow by my conversation, I
cannot find it in my heart to hurry away from him." Wicked Mr. Wilkins!
What was there wrong in going to a masquerade? and if it was criminal to
do so, why leave the evidence of your guilt where Mrs. W. could find it?
Was that a _lady's_ mask? In the eyes of the outraged wife I dare say it
was, though it may only have been used to cover the homely features of
the deceiver, whose pale face and empty soda-water bottle plainly prove
that the evening's entertainment will not bear the morning's
reflections.

[Illustration:

  JUVENILE: "I say, Charley, that's a jeuced fine gurl talking to young
  Fipps! I should like to catch her under the mistletoe."]

The first drawings of "The Rising Generation," in which are portrayed
the premature affections and the amusing affectations of the manners and
sayings of their elders that, according to Leech, distinguished the
_jeunesse doré_ of England, appeared in 1846, and have been so admirably
described by Dickens elsewhere as to leave me only the task of placing
some of the drawings before the reader, carefully avoiding those the
great writer has noticed so felicitously. The young gentleman in the
drawing introduced here would like to catch the pretty creature talking
to the fascinating young man under the mistletoe, no doubt! We know his
wicked intentions; but how would he carry them out? He is not tall
enough to reach the lady's elbow; but love in such passionate natures
laughs at difficulties, and he will find a way; and he calls a man old
enough to be his father _young_ Fipps! Delightful little dog! and no
less delightful is his friend Charley, who smiles encouragement, and
would do likewise. These works of Leech possess what it is not too much
to call an historical interest, as they chronicle truly the dresses of
the time. In the object of our young friend's admiration, I fancy I see
the approach of crinoline, while her ringlets afford a striking contrast
to the fringes of the present day. An old lady would now create a
sensation indeed if she appeared in a turban like that which bedecks the
sitting figure.

[Illustration:

  JUVENILE: "Uncle!"

  UNCLE: "Now, then, what is it? This is the fourth time you've woke me
  up, sir."

  JUVENILE: "Oh! just put a few coals on the fire and pass the wine,
  that's a good old chap!"]

Again the irrepressible juvenile, under different conditions. Behold him
practising upon a very testy old gentleman, who has been so rude, in the
estimation of his young nephew, as to go to sleep after dinner.

[Illustration: "THE RISING GENERATION."

  JUVENILE: "Ah, it's all very well! Love may do for boys and gals; but
  we, as men of the world, know 'ow 'ollow it is."]

In his notices of the freaks of the rising generation Leech did not
confine himself to juveniles of the higher and middle ranks, but
occasionally he shows us the young snob, of whom he makes--with
modifications--the same mannish and amusingly vain creature as his
confrères, the little swells. As an illustration, I present my reader
with a scene in a coffee-house, in which two friends are refreshing
themselves, and exchanging philosophical reflections on the vanities of
human life. These lads look like shop-boys, but--in their own
estimation--with souls far above their positions in life. The spokesman
has found the truth of the poet's description of the course of true love
in the conduct of some barmaid who has jilted him, hence his bitterness.

In the year 1847 Leech produced much of his best work, and in
justification of this dictum I advise the study of a drawing full of
character, humour, and beauty. Thousands of heads of households could
vouch for the truth of the situation depicted there, and where is the
mistress whose mind has not misgiven her when a request from her pretty
servant has been urged that she might "go to chapel this evening"?
"Chapel, indeed!" one can hear her mutter to herself; "I've not the
least doubt the baker's man is waiting for her round the corner!" I am
loath to find fault with such a work as this, but I _do_ think that
perfect maid deserved a more presentable lover than the pudding-faced,
knock-kneed soldier who is personating the "bit of ribbin." The artist
appears to me to charge his story-telling maid with very bad taste
indeed. Would the drawing have lost, or gained, if Leech had given us a
handsome young guardsman instead of this ugly fellow? He would, at any
rate, have made the little fib a little more pardonable. The other
figures deserve careful attention--notably, the youth absorbed in the
study of natural history.

  SERVANT-MAID: "If you please, mem, could I go out for half an hour to
  buy a bit of ribbin, mem?"

If there be amongst my readers any who are unfamiliar with Cruikshank's
illustrations of "Oliver Twist," I advise them to turn to them, where
they will find a drawing of Fagin in the condemned cell at Newgate, one
of the most awful renderings of agonized despair ever depicted by the
hand of an artist. This great work is travestied by Leech in a manner so
admirable as to make the travesty take rank with the original. Instead
of Fagin, see King Louis Philippe smarting under the failure of his
schemes and the impending fall of his dynasty. By the Spanish marriages
the veteran trickster destroyed the power which he sought to
consolidate.

Domestic troubles and misadventures were represented by Leech in many
examples, with a sympathetic humour that never wearies. A party may be
assembled for a dinner which is strangely delayed; conversation flags
into silence. The host and hostess become uneasy, when a button-boy
appears with the ominous "Oh, if you please, 'm, cook's very sorry, 'm,
could she speak to you for a moment?" Something has happened; but we are
left in uncertainty as to what it was.

Or the dinner is served, when an alarming announcement is made:

  SERVANT (_rushing in_): "Oh, goodness gracious, master! There's the
  kitchen chimley afire, and two parish ingins a-knocking at the street
  door."

One of the happiest of the servant-gal-isms appears this year--the
precursor of many excellent tunes on the same string--delightfully
illustrative of the vanity which we all share, more or less, with our
maids. In the picture that follows, the sight of the old lady's new
bonnet and a convenient looking-glass have provided an opportunity that
the pretty servant could not resist. She must see how she looks in
it--and behold the result!

[Illustration:

  DOMESTIC (_soliloquizing_): "Well, I'm sure, missis had better give
  this new bonnet to me, instead of sticking such a young-looking thing
  upon her old shoulders." (The impudent minx has immediate warning.)]

I must refer my readers to _Punch's_ almanac for 1848, copiously
illustrated by Leech, for many admirable examples of his many-sided
powers. Alas! my space forbids the reproduction of any of them. Amongst
the rest there is one of a gentleman suffering from influenza, which, by
the way, seems to have been as prevalent in 1848 as it has been
recently, though not so fatal in its effects. Our sufferer is visited by
a condoling friend: he sits with his feet in hot water, and, with his
hand on the bell-pull, he says, "This is really very kind of you to
call. Can I offer you anything? A basin of gruel, or a glass of cough
mixture? Don't say no!"

Another of a rich old lady, who stands before a pyramid of
oyster-barrels, all sent to her at Christmas by her poor relations.
Another--but I must pause, and again refer my reader to the almanac.

I find yet one more of the "Rising Generation" series quite
irresistible. The two little bucks are perfect, and the idea of such a
report as that one of them was engaged to the magnificent woman--whose
face we long to see--is so ludicrous as almost to reach the sublime of
absurdity. Look at the eagerness with which the precocious youth
impresses upon his friend the necessity of contradicting the rumour, and
the well-bred and considerate way in which the friend receives a
communication which does not surprise him. He does not smile at it.
There is nothing astonishing in a man's being in love with such a fine
woman, and he will certainly contradict anyone who repeats the report,
as his friend desires. If the creatures had been six feet high instead
of not so many more inches, they could not have conducted themselves
more naturally.

[Illustration:

  JUVENILE: "Oh, Charley, if you hear a report that I am going to be
  married to that girl in black, you can contradict it. There's nothing
  in it."]

1848 witnessed the fall of the French throne and the tottering of
others in Europe. It was a terrible time, and though the English throne
was safe enough, a great deal of vague alarm existed in this country.
The Chartists met in their thousands, and prepared a bill of grievances
with signatures, making a document, it was said, some miles long. This
petition they announced their intention of presenting to Parliament,
accompanied by a procession, which was really to be some miles long; but
they reckoned without their host--of opponents. Special constables were
enrolled (amongst whom was Louis Napoleon), soldiers were at hand,
skilfully hidden by the great Duke, and the Chartist procession was
peacefully stopped long before it got to Westminster.

There were firebrands then as now, and a meeting was called by one of
them to be held in Trafalgar Square--see how history repeats
itself!--where a ragamuffin assembly appeared; so did the police, and
nothing came of it except a few broken heads and the inimitable drawings
by Leech. How admirable they are!

The person who wanted more liberty, equality, and fraternity than was
good for him or anybody else, was a Mr. Cochran, and his adherents were
called Cochranites.

  COCHRANITE: "Hooray! Veeve ler liberty!! Harm yourselves!! To the
  palis!! Down with heverythink!!!!"

In the second picture the Cochranite has collapsed. A stalwart
policeman has taken him in hand, and he cries, "Oh, sir--please, sir--it
ain't me, sir. I'm for God save the Queen and Rule Britannier.
Boo-hoo!--oh dear! oh dear!" (bursts into tears).


Below we have another result of the agitation, touched in Leech's
happiest manner. A special constable endeavours to arrest an agitator,
who evidently objects, and prepares for resistance.

[Illustration:

  SPECIAL CONSTABLE: "Now mind, you know--if I kill you, it's nothing;
  but if you kill me, by Jove! it's murder!"]

A certain Master Jackey was a great favourite of Leech's. In an
elaborate work this youth's pranks are chronicled under the heading of
"Home for the Holidays." Whether the hero of those adventures is the
same as he who is pictured in the work I present to my readers I know
not. In all probability the taste for practical joking which flourished
so vigorously in the holiday scenes began, as we see, in the nursery.
Master Jackey has been to the play, where he has witnessed the
performances of a contortionist, and, emulous of rivalling the
professor, he perils the limbs and lives of his brothers and sisters in
his operations. We know of the tendency to imitate in all children, but
when the propensity shows itself in the imitation of tricks that require
long practice before they can be performed with safety, the game, though
amusing to the players, may be very dangerous to the played upon. It is
to be hoped that the rush of the terrified mother in this capital scene
may be in time to save the baby from a perilous fall. The little
brothers have already tasted the consequence of Master Jackey's
imitation.

The accompanying drawing was suggested by myself during an after-dinner
conversation at a friend's house. The talk had turned on the difficulty
that the pronunciation of certain words would prove to one who had dined
not wisely but too well, when it occurred to me that "Plesiosaurus" or
"Ichthyosaurus" would be troublesome, and I said so. Leech smiled, and
said nothing, but in _Punch_ of the week following his idea of the
difficulty appeared.

[Illustration: "RECREATIONS IN NATURAL HISTORY."

  FIRST NATURALIST: "What, the s-s-she-sherpent a-an (hic!)
  Ich-(hic!)-thyosaurus! Nonshence!"

  SECOND NATURALIST: "Who said Ich-(hic!)-Ichthy-o-saurus? I said
  Plesi-o-(hic!)-saurus plainenuff."]

The cabman who doesn't know his way about London is exceptional, but he
is met with occasionally, and very provoking he is; but to have his
little trap-door knocked off its hinges because he takes a wrong turning
is a punishment in excess of his fault. The young gentleman passenger is
of an impatient turn, and he will find that his impatience will have to
be paid for unless the cabman is more good-natured than he looks.

[Illustration: "CABMAN IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE TAKEN A WRONG TURNING, THAT'S
ALL."]

Flunkeiana cannot be omitted in this short summary of Leech's work,
more especially as the first of a long series is one of the best.
Nothing can be conceived more perfect than the man and the maid at the
seaside--the girl, French from top to toe; the flunkey, a most perfect
type of the class.

  FRENCH MAID: "You like--a--ze--seaside--M'sieu Jean Thomas?"

  JOHN THOMAS: "Par bokhoo, mamzelle--par bokhoo. I've--aw--been so
  accustomed to--aw--gaiety in town, that I'm--aw--a'most killed with
  arnwee down here."

The immortal Briggs made his first appearance in _Punch_ in the year
1849, and with one or two records of his career I regret to say I must
close my selected list of Leech's early works. To say I regret this is
to say little, for I am obliged to forego numberless delightful works,
many as good as, and some perhaps better than, those I have presented to
my readers. Mr. Briggs first appears with newspaper in hand in his snug
breakfast-room, listening to a complaint from the housemaid that a slate
is off the roof, and the servant's bedroom in danger of being flooded.
Mr. Briggs replies that the sooner it is put to rights the better,
before it goes any further--and he will see about it. Mr. Briggs does
see about it; he sees the builder, who tells him that "a little compo"
is all that is wanted. The drawings show that eight or ten men are
required to manage the little compo, much to Mr. Briggs' astonishment.

In the next scene a huge scaffolding is raised, and a small army of
labourers are at work on Mr. Briggs's roof. A noise enough to wake the
dead has awoke Mr. Briggs at the unpleasant hour of five in the morning.
Flower-pots and bricks fall past his dressing-room window. He finds "no
time has been lost, and that the workpeople have already commenced
putting the roof to rights." The builder would not be true to his craft
if he did not improve the occasion and show his employer how easy, now
that the workpeople were about, it would be to make certain additions in
the shape of a conservatory, etc., to the house. Briggs weakly listens
to the voice of the charmer; walls are battered down to enlarge the
dining-room, and the entrance-hall is enlarged. Mr. Briggs's health
gives way, and he calls in the doctor, who prescribes horse exercise.

I think it was at one of those never-to-be-forgotten dinners at Egg's
that, the talk having turned upon shooting experiences, Dickens said
that the sudden rising of a cock-pheasant under one's nose was like a
firework let off in that uncongenial locality. The following week Leech
subjected Mr. Briggs to the startling experience so admirably recorded
in the drawing which faces this page.

[Illustration]

For a further acquaintance with Mr. Briggs's performances on
horseback, as well as his escapades with gun and fishing-rod, I must
content myself with referring those curious on the matters to the pages
of _Punch_, where they will find entertainment that is inexhaustible.



CHAPTER III.

MR. PERCIVAL LEIGH AND LEECH.


In the death of Mr. Percival Leigh, which took place a short time ago,
the last member of the original staff of _Punch_ passed away. Mr. Leigh
never married, and died at a very advanced age. I frequently met him in
society, where his refined and gentle manners, and his quaintly humorous
conversation, were what might have been anticipated from the author of
"Pips his Diary," the "Comic Grammars," and other contributions to the
paper to which he was so long and so faithfully attached. From the days
of their fellow-studentship at St. Bartholomew's (with a short
interval), to the time of Leech's death, a firm friendship existed
between these two distinguished men.

Much alike in their sense of humour, they also resembled each other in
numberless amiable qualities of heart and mind. Leigh's pen was as free
from personality, and as conspicuous for the gentleness with which it
dealt with folly, as Leech's pencil. In early and late days, when Leech
was in trouble, Leigh's was the hand--amongst others--ever ready to
help; and to those who can read between the lines in the paper which Mr.
Leigh has contributed to this book, there will be little difficulty in
discovering the "friend" who found purchasers for work that the producer
was barred (in a double sense) from selling for himself.

I see little or no reason for weakening my assertion that Leech arrived
at his supreme eminence without any art education; for the slight
mechanical knowledge of the art of drawing upon wood which he acquired
from Mr. Orrin Smith, a wood-engraver, is no more worthy the name of
art-teaching, than the few lessons in etching given to Leech by George
Cruikshank can be called art-education. Following the example of Sir
John Millais, Mr. Percival Leigh (to whom, it will be remembered,
Millais recommended my predecessor, Mr. Evans, to apply) furnished the
following remarks for this memoir.

Said Mr. Leigh: "Orrin Smith has been dead many years. How long Leech
was with him I cannot say precisely. Perhaps a twelvemonth or
thereabouts. Smith was a sociable and rather a clever man, but according
to Leech, occasionally so economical that he would now and then try to
get a little gratuitous work out of him. On one occasion Smith asked him
to introduce a few figures, so as to put a touch of action into a
drawing on wood, meant to illustrate a serious little book, the work of
a clergyman. The scene represented was a quiet churchyard. Leech
improved it with a group of little boys larking and boxing.

"Of course these embellishments, on discovery, were objected to as
painfully incongruous, and had to be cancelled. I forget whether or no
they had been actually engraven before they were taken out."

Thus far Mr. Leigh. I think I can interpret the incongruity. I fancy I
can hear Leech say, after previous unrequited sketches, "Oh, hang it!
this is too bad. Well, here goes; he shall have a few figures, and I
hope he'll like 'em."

Mr. Leigh continues: "The post-office envelope was one of Leech's
successes; so were the 'Comic Histories' of England and Rome, and the
'Comic Blackstone'; but his growth in popularity was gradual. He had
previously illustrated 'Jack Brag' for Bentley, and subsequently various
articles for _Bentley's Miscellany_, particularly the 'Ingoldsby
Legends,' as well as other ephemeral works of the same publisher;
amongst them the 'Comic Latin' and 'English' Grammars, and the 'Children
of the Mobility,' a travesty of the 'Children of the Nobility,' long
since out of print. He also furnished coloured illustrations to the
'Fiddle-Faddle Fashion-book,' a whimsical satire on the fopperies and
literary absurdities of the period, also out of print."

I venture again to interrupt the current of Mr. Leigh's narrative with a
word or two on the "Fiddle-Faddle" book. A copy of it, date 1840, has
been lent to me. The literary portion, consisting mainly of a thrilling
story of brigand life, the blood-curdling tenor of which may be imagined
from the title, "Grabalotti the Bandit; or, The Emerald Monster of the
Deep Dell," is the work of Mr. Leigh. The story opens thus:

"Italia! oh, Italia! blooming birthplace of beauty! land of lazzaroni
and loveliness! clime of complines and cruelty, of susceptibility and
sacrilege, of roses and revenge! thy bright, blue, boundless skies
serene I love; thy verdant vales, volcanoes, vines, and virgins! Thy
virgins? ay, thy bright-eyed, dark-haired virgins. I love them--how I
love them, though mine, alas! they ne'er can be! And there was one who,
in earlier, happier hours, before these locks were--no matter. Let me
proceed with the calmness becoming a narrator with my tale."

And he proceeds "with a vengeance" to let us know that the spokesman of
the above is an artist who had "halted in a deep ravine in the Abruzzi
(where, on each side, the cliffs frowned like fiends upon the quailing
traveller) to transfer to my portable sketch-book a slight souvenir of
the celestial scene. Absorbed in my enthralling occupation, I heeded not
the approach of a visitant; it was therefore with surprise, not
unmingled with alarm, that I was aroused by a tap upon the shoulders,
accompanied by the following sarcastic greeting:

"'Is thy maternal parent, young man, aware of thine absence from home?'

"'Quite so,' I replied, in a tremulous tone, anxiously glancing round to
behold the speaker.

"My acquaintance with literature--to say nothing of my constant
attendance at the opera--at once convinced me that I was in the hands of
a brigand."

Had there been "any possible doubt whatever," it would have been
instantly dispelled; for after "smiling in demoniacal derision," the
disturber of the sketcher said, "deliberately and tranquilly, as he
levelled a pistol at my head:

"'Thy wealth or thy existence!'

"My sole remaining ducat was offered in vain. At the shrill sound of his
whistle the crags bristled with bandits, and fifty carbines were pointed
at my person. Blue with boiling agony, I made as a last resource the
Masonic sign. It succeeded. At another signal every carbine was lowered,
and breathless expectation brooded over the heart of its bearer."

The bandits, however, were not so easily satisfied; for "a murmur of
impatience, mingled with discontent, arose, like the billows of emotion,
amongst the troop, and some twenty weapons again kissed with their
stocks as many manly shoulders.

"'Back, slaves, for your lives!' shouted the infuriated Grabalotti,
throwing himself in front of me. 'One moment more, and, by the
blood-stained power of the thundering Avalanche, the foremost of you
dies!'

"Cowering in cream-like humility, each individual reversed his
implement of death--all but one. A ball from the pistol of Grabalotti
instantly crashed through his brain. For a moment he writhed in sable
pangs; then all was over, and darkness mantled over his impetuosity for
ever. Then, turning towards me, the brigand chief gave me a civil
invitation to spend the day with him, which, under existing
circumstances, I thought it best to accept. On our way I took the
opportunity thus furnished me to survey my lawless companion. He was at
least six feet and a half, independent of the coverings of his feet, in
height; his air was stern and commanding; raven ringlets clustered down
to his shoulders. Premature intensity glowed in his volcanic eyes; his
nose was Roman, and he wore mustachios. The lines in the lower part of
his face were indicative of death-fraught concentration; and the teeth,
frequently disclosed by his smile of pervading bitterness, were
remarkably white. The gloom of his conical hat was mocked by gay
ribands. He wore a jacket of green velvet (an expensive article),
lustrously gemmed with gold buttons; and those portions of his dress for
which our language has no proper appellation were richly meandered with
superior lace. His legs were variously swathed in the manner so
characteristic of his profession. The carbine that slept in a snowy belt
at his back; the pistols bickering in his girdle; and the stiletto
reposing, like candid innocence, in its silver sheath, with its ivory
handle protruding from his sash, were all of the most ornamental and
valuable description."

This extraordinary robber and the artist arrive at "the dwelling of the
bandit, which was eligibly situate among the most romantic scenery."

Signor Grabalotti conducted his visitor to a "table groaning with fruit,
and supporting six sacramental chalices filled with the richest wine."

The brigand has made a great haul of prisoners, whose friends have not
shown the alacrity in rescuing them required by their captor, who, by
way of entertaining his guest, orders them all, to the amount of a
dozen, into his presence, and, arranging them in a row "along a trench
in the background," with the assistance of twelve of his men, has them
all shot.

"Almost ere the smoke had cleared away, the earth was shovelled over the
bodies.

"'And now,' said the chief, 'for a dance in honour of our guest.'

"Four-and-twenty brisk young bandits, clad in jackets, green array, were
instantly joined by as many maidens, each wearing the square _coiffure_,
short dress, and _petite_ apron, and otherwise fully attired in the
costume of the country. Each robber provided himself with a partner, and
a festive dance was performed with great spirit to a popular air.

"Their gaiety was at its height, when suddenly the sound of a distant
bell stole with milky gentleness on the ear. In an instant all present
fell on their knees, and, with their arms devoutly crossed upon their
breasts, raised, in heavenly unison, their hymn of votive praise to the
Virgin."

Here endeth the first chapter of the "Emerald Monster of the Deep Dell."

As "a satire on the literary absurdities of the day," to quote its
author, this capital fooling could not be surpassed; indeed, to those
who remember, as the present writer can distinctly, the effusions in
prose and verse--or, as Jerrold called it, "prose and worse"--that more
or less filled the pages of the Keepsakes, the Books of Gems and Beauty
of a long bygone time, the "Monster of the Deep Dell" is scarcely a
caricature.

But I have not yet done with him. The second chapter is devoted to an
account in Grabalotti language of the early life and loves of the
interesting bandit:

"Rino Grabalotti is my name," he says. "Italy is my nation; the Deep
Dell is my dwelling-place, and--but no! never shall monkish cant pollute
the lips to baleful imprecation attuned for ever. Let the blue and
hideous glare of the lightning, and the ghastly gleam of the hag-ridden
meteor, illumine the deeds of my doing. Growl, ye thunders! Roar, ye
tempests! Yell, ye fiends, and howl in hideous harmony a prelude to my
tale!"

He then proceeds to inform the artist (who, with an eye for copy,
ventures to hint "that an outline of his history would be interesting")
that he was the son of a priest, and born in Naples; and naturally much
annoyed by the scandalous irregularity of his birth, he devotes his life
to robbing and murdering as many of his fellow-creatures as good fortune
places in his hands in the practice of his profession.

But I anticipate. Grabalotti declines to say much about his infancy; he
seems to have been pretty often reminded of the scandal of his birth,
and as often he registered a vow that, sooner or later, he would close
for ever the mouths of the slanderers.

"It was in my sixteenth summer," he continues, "that I really began to
live. Though in years a boy, I was in all else a man. Passion hurtled in
my darkening eye, and plunged my heart in lava. I loved; what Italian at
my age does not? Yes; I--the ruthless, the scathed, the smouldering, the
sanguinary, the Emerald Monster of the Deep Dell--I, even I, gasped with
tortuous anguish in the maddening transports of Cupid."


Giulia is the name of the fair creature who has caused the eruption of
this volcanic passion; and on what the bandit-lover calls "an evening of
rosy gladness," he seeks his fair enslaver's window, guitar in hand. But
the voice, "which was the best at a barcarole of any in Naples," had
raised a very few love notes, when a rough voice exclaims:

"'What dost thou here, spurious offspring of sacrilege?' accompanying
the inquiry by an equally rough salutation from behind (oh,
madness!)--'begone!'

"Confusion simmered in my brain. Frenzied, I turned; one stroke of my
stiletto, and my wounded honour was salved--with gore. It was that of
Giulia's father!"

This sudden death of the author of her being offended Giulia, and she
solemnly renounced young Grabalotti for ever. This intimation, conveyed
in a mixture of "indignation mingled with scorn," had an extraordinary
effect. Says the lover:

"Twisting in bitterness awhile I lingered, then rushed distracted from
the spot, and fled hissing with desperation to the mountains."

The beauties of the Deep Dell produced no soothing effect on the
desperate bitterness that twisted the soul of Grabalotti; he issued from
the Dell to "soak and steep his heart in blood."

"The dewy wail of infancy, the piercing zest of female innocence, and
the tremulous pleading of piping feebleness, all mocked at the radiance
of the crimson steel, have poured their bootless incense o'er my
breast.... Ha, ha! The nun, her dove-like innocence devastated, has
broiled like a chestnut amid the ashes of her convent," etc.

More "copy" in the style of the above is imparted to the artist. But an
interruption takes place. A brigand enters, and so irritates the monster
by the abruptness of his appearance that, had not the pistol with which
his impatient master received him missed fire, his brains would have
been scattered to the winds of heaven.

"'Ha! dost thou dare to break in upon my mood?' roared Grabalotti.

"'Come to tell you,' said the robber (speaking in the greatest possible
haste), 'that the nun who escaped the sacking of the convent has been
taken.'

"'Do as you list with her, and chop her head off! Stay, I would fain see
it when it is done; and here, take this purse for the risk thou hast
encountered.'"

Yet another interruption--this time in the person of a brigand spy
disguised as a peasant. The chief anticipates startling and perhaps
unpleasant news, and saying: "'Excuse me, signor, for a few moments,' he
retires with his emissary."

Grabalotti was absent some little time, during which the artist "added
another sketch to his small collection," when the monster returned, and
informed his guest "in a lively tone" that they were about to have "some
fun."

"'Of what description?' inquired the artist.

"'In an hour's time we shall be attacked by the military,'" to whom he
promises a warm reception; and in the event of the robbers being
overpowered by numbers, "a train communicates with the magazine below."

"Here the head of the unfortunate nun made its appearance on a silver
dish. Its loveliness, even in death, was intensely overpowering. With a
grin of fiendish malice, Grabalotti seized it by the hair, but no sooner
did the features meet his eye, than he relinquished his hold and fell,
senseless, backwards, faintly gasping, like a dying echo, ''Tis she!
'Tis Giulia!!'"

Unless the artist guest was possessed of courage uncommon among our
fraternity, he could not have contemplated being blown into the air with
the robbers, or being shot by the soldiers, with equanimity; and he must
have been much relieved in any case by Grabalotti, who, when "the
violence of frantic ferocity" had given way to "the calm profundity of
despair," muttered in a low and suppressed tone: "Nay, thou shalt live
to tell the world my story!" and to enable his guest to do this
eventually, "in a tone of sweetest melancholy" he said:

"Stranger, hence! thy further stay is perilous. Yon by-path will conduct
thee to the valleys."

Rising from "the valleys" was a crag, to the summit of which half an
hour's walk would take the artist, and from thence he was assured that
"if he turned his gaze backwards he should see something worth seeing."

The narrator tells us that he reached the crag in twenty-nine minutes
exactly.

"For one minute I gazed in the direction of the Brigands' Haunt, from
which, precisely at the expiration of that time, a vivid flash of flame,
shooting into the air, accompanied by a dense column of smoke, and
followed by a terrific explosion, proclaimed too plainly the last
achievement of the Emerald Monster of the Deep Dell."

Mr. Percival Leigh contributes a second story to the "Fiddle-Faddle
Fashion-book," in which the novel of fashionable life, not uncommon
fifty years ago, is satirized under the title of "Belleville: a Tale of
Fashionable Life," not less happily than the sanguinary and terribly
romantic writers are treated in the burlesque of Grabalotti. The "Clara
Matilda poets" of the Keepsake time are also amusingly parodied in some
short poems, which, with comic advertisements, occasionally very
humorous, fill up the literary portion of the "Fiddle-Faddle
Fashion-book."

This book is not the only one in which Leech's powers have been
enlisted--I was nearly saying prostituted--in publications devoted to
eccentricities in dress and the caprices of fashion. In illustrations by
him of the tale of fashionable life, or of Grabalotti, the genius of
that great artist would have had full play; but as the draughtsman of
fashion-plates it was, in my opinion, degraded. In vindication of my
judgment I present my readers with two plates from the "Fiddle-Faddle"
book, in which Leech portrays--no doubt under direction--caprices of
fashion which could only have existed in his own imagination, and
produced with a feeling of caricature that is so conspicuous by its
absence in his usual work.

I now return to the paper which Mr. Leigh wrote with a view to this
memoir.

[Illustration]

That Leigh and Leech first met as students at St. Bartholomew's
Hospital, I have noted elsewhere; and the details of his apprenticeship
to the eccentric surgeon, which Mr. Leigh heard from Leech himself, I
have also given, with the exception of one incident of which I was
ignorant.

[Illustration]

"In his dispensary," says Mr. Leigh, "the doctor had one drawer amongst
his boxes, in which there were pills of gentle efficacy, intended to be
served out (they were made, I believe, of bread and soap) to the
generality of his customers. This receptacle bore the label of 'Pil.
Hum.,'--abbreviation of humbug--or, as their concoctor used to call
them, 'Humbugeraneous Pills.' The Dr. Cockle to whom, Mr. Leigh says,
Leech went after he left Mr. Whittle, was the son of the inventor of
Cockle's Pills.

"No sooner had he become of age," continues Mr. Leigh, "than he was
induced, in order to meet difficulties for which he was not responsible,
to accept an accommodation bill, which the drawer of, when it fell due,
failed to supply the means of meeting. Leech was consequently arrested
for debt at the suit of this discounter, and lodged in a sponging-house
kept by a sheriff's officer, a Jew, by name (I think) of Levi, in Newman
Street. There he remained about a fortnight, supporting himself in the
meanwhile by drawing cartoons and caricatures. He lithographed them on
stone for Spooner, in the Strand, at a guinea each, a _friend_ having
negotiated their sale.

"At last, an advance of money on a projected publication sufficient to
discharge the debt having been obtained, he was liberated. But not long
after, a second scrape--a repetition of the first--cost him another
temporary sojourn with another Jew in another sponging-house in Cursitor
Street. This detention, however, lasted but a few days. _From that
period to the close of his life_ he remained subject to repeated demands
for pecuniary assistance under continued pressure, which, as at the
outset, he could not withstand. The deficits he had to defray were
always heavy; the last of them, as I understand, a thousand pounds. It
cost him very hard work to make it good. Excess of generosity was his
greatest failing."

I have no means of knowing, nor do I desire to know, who the borrowers
were to whom Percival Leigh alludes; but his revelations make the fact
of Leech having died a comparatively poor man comprehensible enough. If
ever man was killed by overwork, Leech was that man, and this must be a
painful reflection for those whose incessant demands upon him made it
only possible for him to meet them by the incessant exertions which
destroyed him.

Mr. Leigh's paper concludes with the anecdote that follows:

"Leech and Albert Smith worked together very harmoniously as illustrator
and writer in several books--'Ledbury,' 'Brinvilliers,' and many
others--and one day when they were leaving Smith's house together, a
street-boy stepped up to them, and scoffing at the inscription on
Smith's large brass door-plate, cried:

"'Oh yes! Mr. Albert Smith, M.R.C.S., Surgeon-Dentist.'

"'Good boy!' said Leech, putting a penny into the boy's hand; 'now go
and insult somebody else.'"



CHAPTER IV.

MEETING OF MULREADY AND LEECH.


Mr. Mulready, R.A., was commissioned by the authorities to design a
postal envelope for general use, a penny stamp affixed insuring free
delivery of letters all over England. The design, which should have been
of a simple character, was far too ornate and elaborate. At the top
Britannia was represented in the act of despatching winged messengers
with letters to all parts of the world, and down the sides of the
envelope were the recipients of letters which had conveyed
heart-breaking news to one side, and good tidings to the other. As a
work of art the Mulready envelope has, in my opinion, great merit, but
it was ludicrously inappropriate to the purposes for which it was
intended. Leech saw and seized the opportunity, with the result
appended.

The signature of the bottled leech, so familiar afterwards, is used
here as Mulready's signature, and "thereby hangs a tale," which, though
the burden of it deals with a future time, I venture to introduce in
this place.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: FORES'S COMIC ENVELOPES N^o. 1]

My friend Augustus Egg, R.A., who lived in a charming house in Queen's
Road, Bayswater, was not only well known as an excellent artist, but
also as being the Amphitryon whose hospitality was famous, and whose
dinners were still more famous by reason of the guests who were wont to
surround his table. Where is the hungry man who would not have been
enchanted to meet Dickens and Leech, Mark Lemon and John Forster
(Dickens's biographer), Hawkins, Q.C. (now the judge), Landseer,
Mulready, Webster, and other artists less famous? Of these dinners I
shall have something to say by-and-by; at present I confine myself to
one special occasion.

It was on one day during the year 1847 that Egg said to me:

"You know Mulready better than I do; I wish you would go and get him to
fix a day to dine here--any day next week will suit me. Leech wants to
meet him; and, somehow or other, though both have dined here frequently,
they have never met."

"Good," said I; "I will do your bidding."

And on the following Sunday I called upon Mulready.

"Egg will be pleased if you will dine with him any day next week, sir,
that you may be disengaged. He expects the usual set--Dickens, Landseer,
Leech, and the rest. You have never met Leech, I think; he is very
desirous to make your acquaintance."

"Ah, is he? Well, I don't care about knowing Leech."

"Really, sir" (it was always the Johnsonian _sir_ to the old gentleman),
said I, when I had recovered from my surprise, "may I ask why you won't
meet Leech?"

"Yes, you may," said the old painter, "and I will tell you. Of course
you remember that unfortunate postal envelope that I designed? Well,
Leech caricatured it. You needn't look so surprised--you don't think I
am such a fool as to mind being caricatured; but I do mind being
represented as a _blood-sucker_! What else can he mean by using that
infernal little leech in a bottle in the front of his caricature as my
signature? You know well enough, Frith, that I have never asked
monstrous prices for my pictures. You fellows get better paid for your
work than I ever did, and you wouldn't like to be called blood-suckers,
I expect."

Mr. Mulready was an Irishman, and rather a peppery one; and I am happy
to say that I overcame my disposition to laugh in his face mainly
through a feeling of astonishment that my old friend could be ignorant
of the ordinary way in which Leech signed his drawings.

"Do you happen to have a number of _Punch_ by you, Mr. Mulready?" said
I.

"No; as a languid swell said when he was asked that same question, 'I am
no bookworm; I never see _Punch_.'"

As I could not give my angry friend ocular proof of his mistake by
producing the usual signature to _Punch_ drawings, I set to work to
explain how the little leech came into the bottle, and, without much
difficulty, convinced my old friend that an insult to him was not
intended.

The two artists met; and it was delightful to watch Leech's handsome
face as Mulready himself told of his misconception. First there was a
serious, almost pained, expression, which, no doubt, arose in that
tender heart from being the innocent cause of pain to another; the
serious look passed off, to give place to a smile, which broadened into
a roar of laughter. From that moment Leech and Mulready were fast
friends.

With an apology for the interruption, I return to my narrative.

Alas! I can well remember the appearance of the "Sketches by Boz," to
be so quickly followed by the "Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club."
None but those who witnessed it can conceive the enthusiasm with which
that immortal work was received by an eager public, who welcomed each
number as it appeared, month after month, with hearty appreciation. Of
course, there were carping critics, one of whom is reported to have said
the author would "go up like a rocket and come down like a stick." That
prophet, a man of much literary ability, drank himself into a debtors'
prison, where, I was told, he died of delirium tremens.

There is, I think, a vein of melancholy unusually developed in the
nature of almost all humorists. As an instance, I may give the actor
Liston, whose humour on the stage was to me unparalleled; off it, he was
gloom personified. Gillray, the caricaturist, died melancholy mad; and
poor Seymour, the first illustrator of "Pickwick," committed suicide. I
may remark in this place the surprise with which I heard Leech say that
he could see no fun in any of Seymour's sketches.

In a walk that we took together, I tried to convert him by naming
several examples of what appeared to me humorous work.

"No," said Leech; "the only drawing I ever saw by Seymour that appeared
funny to me was one in which two cockneys were represented out shooting.
They are about to load their guns, when one says to the other:

"'I say, which do you put in first--powder or shot?'

"'Why, powder, to be sure,' said his friend.

"'Do you?' was the reply. 'Then I don't!'"

I can vividly recall the shock occasioned by Seymour's death. He was
fairly prosperous, I believe. His engagement to illustrate "Pickwick"
was a lucrative one, and he was much employed in other work. In spite of
all these advantages, the humorist's melancholy was fatal to him.

I was present at the banquet at the Royal Academy when Thackeray, in
returning thanks for literature--Dickens being present--told us how, on
finding there was a vacancy for an illustrator of "Pickwick," he took a
parcel of drawings to the author and applied for the place. From my own
knowledge of Thackeray's limited powers as an artist, I should have been
sure of the failure of his application. Very different would have been
the fate of Leech, who was also anxious to supply Seymour's place; but
he was too late, for Dickens had already chosen Hablot K. Browne, who,
under the sobriquet of "Phiz," worked in harmony with his author for
very many years. There was no doubt a disposition on the part of "Phiz"
to exaggeration in his illustration of Dickens' characters (already
fully charged, so to speak, by their author), sometimes to the verge of
caricature, and even beyond it; this fault Leech would have avoided, as
his exquisite etchings in Dickens' Christmas books fully prove.



CHAPTER V.

"THE PHYSIOLOGY OF EVENING PARTIES," BY ALBERT SMITH.


I have already spoken of the extreme difficulty of collecting material
for this book, and to difficulty must be added the expense which is
incurred by my publisher. I bear the latter affliction with the
equanimity common to those who escape it; indeed, there is a kind of
satisfaction in finding that books which are perfectly worthless as
literary productions are so highly valued on account of the prints which
illustrate them. I venture to give an instance in a very little book
called "The Physiology of Evening Parties," written by Albert Smith. My
reader will be able to judge by the extracts given in explanation of the
drawings, of the merits of Mr. Smith's part in the "Physiology." This
work, published at 2s. 6d. when clean and new, costs 18s. 6d. when well
"worn on the edge of time," yellow, dirty, and unbound. The "Physiology"
first saw the light in 1840. I plead again for forgiveness for
chronological shortcomings, which my difficulties make unavoidable.

My first illustration represents a mamma and her two daughters in the
serious business of selecting guests for an evening party.

"It is evening," says Mr. Albert Smith; "mamma and her two daughters are
seated at a table arranging the names of the visitors upon the back of
an old letter, having turned out the dusty record of the card-basket
before them in order that no one of importance may be forgotten.

"ELLEN (_loc_.): 'I am sure I don't see why we should invite the
Harveys, mamma. They have been here twice, and never asked us back
again.'

"FANNY: 'And we shall see those dreadful silver poplins again; they must
be intimately acquainted with the cane-work of all the rout-seats in
London.'

"ELLEN: 'And William Harvey is so exceedingly disagreeable; he always
looks at the ciphers on the plate to see if it is borrowed or not.'

"FANNY: 'And last year he declared the pine-apple ice was full of
little square pieces of raw potato; and when Mr. Edwards broke a tumbler
at supper he told him "not to mind, for they were only tenpence apiece
in Tottenham Court Road." The low wretch! he thought he had made a
capital joke.'

"MAMMA: 'Well, my dears, I think your papa will be annoyed if they are
left out; but never mind him--we won't ask them.'"

[Illustration: "MAMMA AND THE GIRLS."]

The discussion respecting the guests goes on, opinion as to eligibility
widely differing. Mamma proposes Mr. and Mrs. Howard and the four girls,
to which Miss Ellen says:

"All dressed alike, and standing up in every quadrille. I declare I
will get George Conway to put an ice in Harriet's chair for her to sit
down upon, in revenge for her waltzing last year, when she brushed down
the Joan of Arc, and knocked its head off."

This refined conversation continues till Miss Ellen speaks of her
brother's disposition to interfere with the invitation-list; she says:

"'We must tell Tom not to overdo us so much with his own friends. I
declare last year I did not know half the young men in the room; and it
was so very awkward when you had to introduce them.'

[Illustration: "TWO RUDE YOUNG MEN."]

"FANNY: 'And they were not nice persons. Two of them were in the pit of
the Lyceum the next night, and, seeing us in Mr. Arnold's box, would
stare us out of countenance. With a single glass, too!'"

"And in this style," says our author, "the list is arranged, the hostess
gradually becoming a prey to isinglass and acute mental inquietude,
which gradually increases as the day draws nearer, until upon the
morning of its arrival her very brain is almost turned to blancmange
from the intensity of her anxiety!"

[Illustration: "THE HEAD OF THE HOUSE."]

The whole house is, of course, turned topsy-turvy; and Leech gives us a
picture of the master of the mansion surrounded by some of the
consequences of giving an evening party.

"This state of things," says the chronicler, "much delights the
olive-branches of the family, who, left entirely alone, and quite
overlooked in the general _mêlée_, divert themselves by poking their
little puddy fingers into the creams, and scooping out the insides of
divers patties with a doll's leg," etc., etc.

[Illustration: "AN OLIVE-BRANCH."]

The ball begins under sundry difficulties. A most desirable person,
"_one_ for whom the party was almost given, sends a melancholy statement
of the very acute attack of influenza under which _they_ are labouring,"
which they extremely regret will prevent their accepting, etc. Then one
of the intended _belles_ of the evening is obliged to go suddenly into
the country, to see a sick aunt, but "she sends her two brothers--tall,
_gangling_, awkward young men who wear pumps and long black stocks, and
throw their legs about when they are dancing everywhere but over their
shoulders," etc., etc., says the author. Here is what Leech thinks of
the two brothers.

[Illustration: "TWO 'GANGLING' YOUNG MEN."]

I have never met with the word "gangling" before; is it an invention of
Mr. Albert Smith's? I can speak to the truth of the dress of these long
brothers, for I who write have worn the long black stock and the
peculiarly cut coat and waistcoats at many an evening party.

The numerous illustrations of "The Physiology" are such perfect examples
of Leech's earlier work, and in themselves so good, that I am induced to
produce several more of them. I don't know whether the fascinating
person under the hands of the hair-dresser is Miss Ellen or Miss Fanny.
I confess I can scarcely believe she would talk like either of them;
happy barber! perfect you are as you ply your vocation; and in that
vocation--insomuch as you have that sweet creature to contemplate--to be
envied indeed!

[Illustration: "PREPARING FOR THE BALL."]

Then we have the greengrocer, "who is to assist in waiting.... He wears
white cotton gloves with very long fingers, and was never known to
announce a name correctly, so the astonished visitor is ushered into the
room under any other appellation than his own."

[Illustration: "THE ASSISTANT-WAITER."]

[Illustration: "THE BAND."]

The band must not be forgotten. "The music arrives," says the writer,
"sometimes in the shape of a single pianist of untiring fingers and
unclosing eyes; sometimes as a harp, piano, and cornopean, who are
immediately installed in a corner of the room with two chairs, a
music-stool, and a bottle of marsala."

I ask my reader to note the individuality in the four faces in this
drawing--and in the figures no less than in the heads--each a
strongly-marked personality precisely appropriate to the instrument upon
which he performs. How admirable is the cornet-a-piston gentleman
contrasted with the pianoforte player!

The mistress of the house is described as making "uphill attempts at
conversation" pending the arrival of a sufficient number of guests to
make up a quadrille. Two old ladies, however, have already put in an
appearance, and have taken possession of the best seats to "see the
dancing," from which all attempts to move them to the card-room are
successfully resisted. There they sit, poor old wallflowers! with all
the advantage that "false hair and turbans" can give them. Though the
execution of this drawing lacks the perfection of workmanship of Leech's
later manner, he never surpassed it in expression and character.

The music "strikes up," the lady of the house throws a comprehensive
_coup d'oeil_ over her assembled visitors, and at last pitches upon a
tall young man--_whom some of you may have met before_--with short hair,
spectacles, and turned-up wristbands, as if he was about to wash his
hands with his coat on. His fate is sealed, and she advances towards
him, blandly exclaiming:

[Illustration: "WALLFLOWERS."]

"_Mr. Ledbury_, allow me to introduce you to a partner."

My own readers have heard of Mr. Ledbury; but as I think they are
unacquainted with his personal appearance, I propose to introduce him to
them, and here he is--

[Illustration: "MR. LEDBURY."]

Mr. Ledbury is "presented to a bouquet with a young lady attached to
it"--a Miss Hamilton--who freezes him completely. A quadrille is formed.
Mr. Ledbury cudgels his brains for five minutes. The young partner seems
to be "searching after some imaginary object amongst the petals of her
bouquet." The mountainous Ledbury brain is in labour. Behold the
production!

"MR. L. 'Have you been to many parties this season?'

"MISS H. 'Not a great many.'

Miss Hamilton continues the bouquet investigation. The gentleman invents
another sentence.

"MR. L. 'What do you think of Alfred Tennyson?'

"MISS H. 'I am sorry to say I have not heard his poetry. Have you?'

[Illustration: "MR. LEDBURY AND MISS HAMILTON."]

"MR. L. 'Oh yes! several times."

Mr. Ledbury waits to be asked about "Mariana" and "Locksley Hall." No
inquiry, so he "rubs up an idea upon another tack":

"MR. L. 'What do you think of our _vis-à-vis_?'

"MISS H. 'Which one?'

"MR. L. 'The lady with that strange head-dress. Do you know her?'

"MISS H. 'It is Miss Brown--my cousin.'"

Mr. Ledbury wishes he could fall through a trap in the floor.

The quadrille continues, with occasional attempts on the part of the
brilliant couple to make conversation. The acme of imbecility seems to
be reached when the lady asks if Mr. L. plays any instrument? He replies
that he plays the flute a little. Does she admire it?

"Oh, so very much!" she says.

A waltz is proposed, but that form of dancing is, says our author,
"never established without a prolonged desire on the part of everybody
to relinquish the honour of commencing it. At last the example is set by
one daring pair, timidly followed by another couple, and then by
another, who get out of step at the end of the first round, and after
treading severely upon the advanced toes of the old lady in a very
flowery cap and plum-coloured satin (one of our faded wallflowers), who
is sitting out at the top of the room, and who from that instant
deprecates waltzing as an amusement not at all consistent with her ideas
of feminine decorum."

[Illustration: "THE WALTZ."]

The young lady in this drawing has much of Leech's charm; but I should
scarcely have selected it were it not for the figure of the gentleman,
which exactly resembles that of Leech himself as I first knew him. If
conservatories, or even staircases, could speak, what flirtations they
could chronicle, what love-tales they could tell! Mr. Smith says "you
will have to confess your inability to imagine what on earth the
gentleman with the long hair, who is carefully balancing himself on one
leg against the flowerpot-stand, and the pretty girl with the bouquet,
can find to talk about so long, so earnestly."

I for one beg Mr. Albert Smith's pardon. I can easily imagine what they
are talking about.

[Illustration: "IN THE CONSERVATORY."]

It would be a grave omission if "The Belle of the Evening" were left
out of these extracts from the "Physiology of Evening Parties." Let me
present her, then. Now listen to the flourish with which the author
introduces her:

"Room for beauty! The belle of the evening claims our next attention,
the lovely dark-eyed girl so plainly yet so elegantly dressed, who wears
her hair in simple bands over her fair forehead, unencumbered by flower
or ornament of any kind, and moves in the light of her own beauty as the
presiding goddess of the room, imparting fragrance to the enamoured air
that plays around her!"

[Illustration: "THE BELLE OF THE EVENING."]

Rather tall talk, this, but excusable, perhaps, as applied to the lovely
creature Leech has drawn for us.

I feel I cannot close these extracts more appropriately than by
allowing Mr. Ledbury to appear again at the moment of his departure from
a scene in which he has so distinguished himself by his conversational,
as well as by his terpsichorean, powers. He was destined to be guilty of
one more folly--that of thinking he had but to ask for his hat to get
it.

[Illustration: "MR. LEDBURY'S HAT."]

"He walks downstairs," says Mr. Smith, "under the insane expectation of
finding his own hat, or madly deeming that the ticket pinned upon it
corresponds with the one in his waistcoat pocket."

Here I take my leave of "The Physiology of Evening Parties" in
presenting my reader with this charming little drawing, in which one
scarcely knows which to admire most--the bewildered expression of Mr.
Ledbury as he ruefully contemplates the rim of his hat, or the
sympathetic, half-laughing face of the perfect little maid. The artistic
qualities of this illustration are excellent. I say good-bye to "Evening
Parties" only to meet Mr. Albert Smith again in a work by him called
"Comic Tales and Pictures of Life," published, I think, about the time
of the "Evening Parties," or perhaps earlier, for the illustrations are,
on the whole, inferior to those in the latter production. The work under
notice is composed of a series of short stories, in which love, comedy,
and deep tragedy play alternate parts. Leech's attention is mainly
devoted to the comic scenes.

We are told of a Mr. Percival Jenks, whose frequent visits to the
theatre have led to the loss of his heart to a beauteous ballet-girl.
"The third ballet-girl from the left-hand stage-box, with the golden
belt and green wreath, in the Pas des Guirlandes, or lyres, or
umbrellas, or something of the kind, had enslaved his susceptible
affections."

[Illustration: "MR. PERCIVAL JENKS."]

No one knew who Mr. Jenks was, or what he was. Even his landlady's
information about him was confined to the idea that he was "something in
a house in the City." That idea proved to be well founded, for Mr. J.
was discovered by the head-clerk at the house in the City, spoiling
blotting-paper by drawing little opera-dancers all over it; thus
neglecting his accounts, which he had to "stay two hours after time to
make up. At half price, nevertheless, he was at the play again, his
whole existence centred on an airy compound of clear muslin and white
satin that was twirling about the stage." Mr. Jenks burned to know his
enslaver's name with a view to an introduction; and for that purpose he
haunted the stage-door, but utterly failed to recognise, amongst the
faded cloaks, and drabby bonnets that issued from that portal, the
angelic form of his charmer. He then took to haunting the places where
minor actors and other employés of the theatre most do congregate for
the purpose of social intercourse and refreshment; here at last he is
rewarded.

"Do you know the young lady," he says to a habitué, "who dances in the
ballet with a green wreath round her head?"

"And a gilt belt round her waist?" asked the friend in turn. "Oh, it's
Miss--Miss--I shall forget my own name next."

Percival was about to suggest Rosière, Céleste, Amadée, and other pretty
cognomens, when his companion caught the name, and exclaimed:

"Miss Jukes; I thought I should recollect it."

The name certainly was not what Percival had expected; still, what was
in a name? Jenks was not poetical, and Jukes was something like it.

"Could you favour me with an introduction to her?" he asked.

"In a minute, if you wish it," replied his companion.

"You know her intimately then?"

"Very; I buy all my green-grocery of her."

The introduction takes place. Gracious powers! how a minute broke the
enchantment of many weeks! "The nymph of the Danube was habited in a
faded green cloak and straw bonnet, with limp and half-bleached pink
ribbons clinging to its form. Her pallid and almost doughy face was
deeply pitted with smallpox; her skin was rough from the constant layers
of red and white paint it had to endure," etc., etc. He fell back with a
convulsive start.

From internal evidence I find the date of "Comic Tales," etc., to be
1841, contemporary, therefore, with the establishment of _Punch_. There
is a drawing of so pretty a conceit as to warrant my selecting it,
though artistically it is inferior to Leech's work even at that time.
The drawing heads a paper entitled "Speculations on Marriage and Young
Ladies," and as it tells its own story, quotation from Mr. Smith is
needless.

In one amusing paper in "Comic Tales," the author treats us to "an Act
for amending the representation of certain public sights, termed
equestrian spectacles, in the habit of being represented at a favourite
place of resort, termed the Royal Amphitheatre, Westminster Bridge." The
paper is framed in the form of an Act of Parliament, and the author
forbids the use of ancient jokes or stereotyped phrases in a very
humorous manner.

"Be it enacted," he announces, after condemning a variety of
objectionable practices, "that the clown shall not, after the first
equestrian feat, exclaim: 'Now I'll have a turn to myself!' previous to
his toppling like a coach-wheel round the ring; nor shall he fall flat
on his face, and then collecting some sawdust in his hand, drop it down
from the level of his head, and say his nose bleeds; nor shall he
attempt to make the rope-dancers' balance-pole stand on its end by
propping it up with the said sawdust; nor shall he, after chalking the
performers' shoes, conclude by chalking his own nose, to prevent his
foot slipping when he treads upon it; nor shall he pick up a small piece
of straw, for fear he should fall over it, and afterwards balance the
said straw on his chin as he runs about; neither shall the master of the
ring say to the clown, when they are leaving the circus: 'I never follow
the fool, sir!' nor shall the fool reply: 'Then I do!' and walk out
after him."

I would draw attention to the figure of the clown in this cut, which is
simply perfect in expression and character. The affected strut of the
ring-master also is admirably caught.

A paper on Christmas pantomimes is illustrated by such a perfect clown
that I cannot resist my inclination to present him to my readers.

[Illustration: CLOWN: "Oh, see what I've found!"]

"Comic Tales and Pictures of Life" contains, at least, one drawing that
is equal to Leech at his best. The cut illustrates an article on
"Delightful People," a short essay, amusing enough.

[Illustration: "MISS CINTHIA SINGS."]

Music, whether performed by the band or by musical guests, is an
important factor in an evening party. Mr. Albert Smith tells us that "a
lady of his acquaintance" had secured those "Delightful People, the
Lawsons," for a large evening party she was about to give; and after
lauding the charming qualities of Mr. and Mrs. Lawson, she put a final
touch to the Lawson attractions by informing her friend that their
daughter, Miss Cinthia Lawson, was not only a delightful girl, but that
"she sings better than anyone you ever heard in private." In the
interval of dancing Cinthia sings. "The young lady now dressed in plain
white robes, with her hair smoothed very flat round her head _à la
Grisi_, whom she thought she resembled both in style of singing and
features, and consequently studied all her attitudes from the clever
Italian's impersonation of Norma.... At last the lady begun a _bravura_
upon such a high note, and so powerful, that some impudent fellows in
the square, who were passing at the moment, sang out 'Vari-e-ty' in
reply. Presently, a young gentleman, who was standing at her side,
chanced to turn over too soon, whereupon she gave him _such_ a look,
that, if he had entertained any thoughts of proposing, would effectually
have stopped any such rash proceeding; but her equanimity was soon
restored, and she went through the aria in most dashing style until she
came to the last note, whose appearance she heralded with a _roulade_ of
wonderful execution."

I remember Grisi, and I cannot share Miss Lawson's conviction of her
resemblance to that great singer--personal resemblance, I mean--and, in
all probability, she had as feeble a claim to an equality of genius; but
that she had a powerful voice, and that she gave it full effect, is
evident by Leech's perfect rendering of that wonderful mouth, from which
one can almost hear the _roulade_. All the lines of the figure, with the
movement of the hands, and the backward action of the singer, are true
to Nature. The assistant at the music-book and the stolid old gentleman
are also excellent.

With this, the best of the drawings in "Comic Tales," I take my leave
of the book.



CHAPTER VI.

JOHN LEECH AND THE ETON BOY.


I had been told that a friend whose acquaintance I made many years ago
was in possession of some correspondence with Leech of considerable
interest. I wrote to him on the subject, and received the following
reply:

  "DEAR MR. FRITH,

"I had intended waiting till my return to town to see whether I could
find John Leech's letters before writing to you; but as you ask for the
story, here it is, to the best of my recollection, and it is heartily at
your service. When I was a boy at Eton I sent to _Punch_ an incident
which happened at a dance. Young Oxford complaining to his partner of
the dearth of 'female society' at the University, she retorts, 'What a
pity you didn't go to a girls' school instead!' Its appearance beneath
an illustration of Leech's caused great excitement in our house at Eton,
and as great tales of Mr. Punch's liberality were current--as, for
example, that the sender of the advice 'To persons about to
marry--_don't_,' had received £100--I began to look anxiously for some
tip for my contribution. An enterprising pal said, 'It's a beastly
shame; and if you'll go halves, I'll write to _Punch_ and wake 'em up.'
This speedily resulted in the receipt of a post-office order for two
guineas from John Leech, accompanied by a rather dry note, to the effect
that Mr. Punch considered that he had already done enough in providing
an original illustration to my joke. I was indignant, and wrote back to
Leech returning the money, but he would not hear of this. He told me I
could buy gloves with the money for the young lady if I liked--which I
am afraid I didn't. Several kind letters from him followed, with an
invitation, gladly accepted, to call and see him in the holidays, and a
present, which I still treasure, of two volumes of his 'Life and
Character.'

[Illustration: "DREADFUL FOR YOUNG OXFORD."

  LADY: "Are you at Eton?"

  YOUNG OXFORD: "Aw, no! I'm at Oxford."

  LADY: "Oxford! Rather a nice place, is it not?"

  YOUNG OXFORD: "Hum!--haw! pretty well; but then I can't get on without
  female society!"

  LADY: "Dear! dear! pity you don't go to a girls' school, then!"]

  "At the time I remember my schoolfellows considered me a born
  caricaturist, an opinion I naturally shared. Leech was most indulgent
  to my early efforts--gave me some wood-blocks to work upon, and
  encouraged me to persevere, which, alas! I have not done, etc.

  "Yours truly."

Here follows Leech's "dry note":


  "32, Brunswick Square, London,
  "June 6, 1859.

  "DEAR SIR,

"The editor of _Punch_ is the person who should be addressed upon all
money matters connected with that periodical. However, in the present
instance, perhaps it will answer every purpose if I adopt the suggestion
of your 'great _friend_ and _confidant_,' and '_do the handsome_ and
send a _tip direct_,' which I do in the shape of a post-office order for
one guinea; or, as your 'entirely _disinterested_' young friend is to
have half of what you get, it will be even better if I make the order
for two guineas instead, as I do, only you must not look upon this as a
precedent. I am afraid Mr. Punch would have considered that the trouble
and expense he was at to have an original design made to your few lines
would have been ample recompense. In future send to the editor your
notion of what you expect for any contribution, and he will accept or
reject accordingly, I dare say.

  "Yours faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH."


The Eton boy was "indignant, and wrote back to Leech returning the
money," to which Leech replied as follows:

  "32, Brunswick Square,
  "November 8, 1859.

  "DEAR SIR,

"No, no; it must be as it is; besides, the order is made out in your
name, and can be used by no one else. After all, your contribution was
very amusing, and pray consider yourself as quite entitled to the sum
offered. If you have any doubt as to how you should spend the money,
why, then, buy some gloves for the young lady who said the smart thing
to the Oxford man. As to my being offended, dismiss the notion from your
mind at once. Your first note I consider perfectly good-natured, and
your second as frank and gentleman-like. I hope you will do me the
favour to accept two volumes of my sketches, in which I hope you will
find some amusement.

"I will direct the volumes to be sent to you this afternoon.

  "Believe me, dear sir,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH."


Encouraged by Leech's kindness, and being, as he says, "a born
caricaturist in the opinion of his friends," the Eton boy sent some
sketches for Leech's opinion. To this application he received the
following reply:

  "32, Brunswick Square,
  "June 11, 1859.

  "MY DEAR SIR,

"I am very busy, so you must excuse a rather short note. Your sketches I
have looked at carefully, however, and I have no hesitation in saying
that they show a great perception of humour on your part. They seem to
me to be altogether very good; and I have no doubt that with practice
you might make your talent available in _Punch_ and elsewhere. I don't
know about your taking lessons, except from Nature, and learn from her
as much as possible. Try your hand at some initial letters--if drawn on
the wood clearly, so much the better--and I will, with great pleasure,
hand them to the editor of _Punch_. 'The Pleasures of Eton' is capital;
the style, I take it, founded a little upon Doyle's works. I would not
do that too much. You have quite cleverness enough to strike out a path
of your own, and with my best wishes for your success,

  "Believe me,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH."


In sending these letters the Eton boy of old says he is "sure that
nothing would more thoroughly exemplify Leech's genial wit and courteous
kindliness than these replies to an unknown schoolboy." I suppose the
letter in which my friend was invited to call upon Leech "in the
holidays" is not to be found. But that he did call and received a
present of "wood-blocks to work upon," accompanied by "encouragement to
persevere," which, alas! he has not done, we have from himself.

This incident is especially delightful, as it reflects perfectly the
quality of heart and mind so characteristic of Leech.



CHAPTER VII.

MR. SPONGE'S SPORTING TOUR.


Mr. Surtees, the writer of the sporting novels, possessed considerable
powers of invention, which he indulged--amongst other vagaries--in
giving names to most of the characters in his books, which served to
enlighten his readers as to their physical and mental peculiarities, and
never more happily than when he christened the hero of this sporting
tour Mr. Soapy Sponge. "Mr. Sponge," says our author, "wished to be a
gentleman without knowing how;" but what Mr. Sponge did know was how to
sponge upon everybody with whom he could force an acquaintance, and this
he effected with surprising success. Hunting and good hunting quarters
were the objects of Mr. Sponge's machinations, and upon a half-hearted
invitation from a Mr. Jawleyford, of Jawleyford Court, an invitation
given without an idea that it would be accepted (as sometimes happens),
Mr. Sponge found himself installed in the ancestral mansion of the
Jawleyfords. Mr. Jawleyford was "one of the rather numerous race of
paper-booted, pen-and-ink landowners," says Mr. Surtees, "whose
communications with his tenantry were chiefly confined to dining with
them twice a year in the great entrance-hall after the steward, _Mr.
Screwemtight_, had eased them of their rents." Then Mr. Jawleyford would
shine forth the very impersonification of what a landlord ought to be.
Dressed in the height of fashion, he would declare that the only really
happy moments of his life were those when he was surrounded by his
tenantry.

In the background of this admirable drawing we see Mr. Jawleyford's
portrait, flanked by his ancestors, on canvas and in armour, hanging on
the panelled walls of his gorgeous home. The variety of character in the
"chawbacons," each a marked individuality, contrasts effectually with
his _quasi_ fashionable landlord. For the first banquet at Jawleyford
Court, "Mr. Sponge," says the author, "made himself an uncommon swell."
His dress is minutely described, and faithfully depicted by Leech, in
the etching in which we see the sponger conducting a very portly Mrs.
Jawleyford, followed by her daughters, to the dining-room. The young
ladies who have entered the drawing-room "in the full fervour of
sisterly animosity," according to the author, seem--in the lovely group
that Leech makes of them--to have speedily made up their quarrel, as
their entwined arms and pretty, happy faces prove. The solemn butler,
who looks with awe at his aristocratic master, is in Leech's truest
vein, while Mr. Jawleyford himself is simply perfect. In the footmen and
page the illustration is less successful; they seem to approach, if not
to reach, caricature.

When Mr. Sponge found himself in good quarters, no hint however strong,
no looks however cold, no manner however unpleasant, would move him,
until he had provided himself with others to his liking. Under the
impression that he was rich, the Misses Jawleyford set their caps at
him. Amelia and Emily rivalled each other in tender attentions to the
adventurer, who, after hesitating as to which of them he should throw
the handkerchief to, fixed upon Miss Amelia, who found her sister "in
the act of playing the agreeable" with Mr. Sponge as she "sailed" into
the drawing-room before dinner; then, "with a haughty sort of sneer and
toss of the head to her sister, as much as to say, 'What are you doing
with my man?'--a sneer that suddenly changed into a sweet smile as her
eye encountered Sponge's--she just motioned him off to a sofa, where she
commenced a _sotto-voce_ conversation in the engaged-couple style."

During his stay at Jawleyford Court, Mr. Sponge's time was passed in
hunting, smoking all over the house--a habit the owner detested--and in
making love to Miss Amelia; taking care, however, not to commit himself
until he had discovered from papa what the settlements were to be. We
who are behind the scenes know that Jawleyford Court is "mortgaged up to
the chimney-pots," and that Mr. J. is over head and ears in debt
besides. We know also that Mr. Sponge is impecunious, his hunters are
hired; he is, in fact, as his author describes him, "a vulgar humbug."
"Jawleyford began to suspect that Sponge might not be the great 'catch'
he was represented," says the author. No doubt in finding himself
baffled in his attempts to sound his host upon the subject of
settlements, Mr. Sponge also "began to suspect" that neither of the
Misses Jawleyford would be the "catch" that he wanted. Still, he held on
to his quarters in defiance of the attempts to get rid of him. He was
removed from the best bedroom to one in which it was impossible to light
a fire, or, rather, to endure it when it was alight, because of an
incurable smoky chimney. He was given poor food and corked wine, still
he stayed, until he had provided himself with a temporary home at the
house of a hunting gentleman named Puffington.

Mr. Puffington, who made Sponge's acquaintance at the covert-side where
Lord Scamperdale's hounds met, "got it into his head" that Mr. Sponge
was a literary man, whose brilliant pen was about to be employed in the
interest of fox-hunting in general, and of certain runs of Mr.
Puffington's hounds in particular. Mr. Puffington "was the son of a
great starch-maker at Stepney." Puffington, senior, made a large
fortune, which enabled his son to become the owner of Hanby House, and
of the "Mangeysterne--now Hanby-Hounds," because he thought they would
give him consequence. Our author says, Mr. Puffington "had no natural
inclination for hunting," but he seems to have become M.F.H. so that he
might entertain some of the sporting friends he had made at college,
such "dashing young sparks as Lord Firebrand, Lord Mudlark, Lord
Deuceace, Sir Harry Blueun, Lord Legbail, now Earl of Loosefish," and so
on.

My space, or, rather, the want of it, prevents my telling how it was
that Mr. Sponge "awoke and found himself famous" as an author. In
conjunction with a friend, who steered him through the spelling and
grammar, he concocted an article for the _Swillingford Patriot_--Grimes,
editor--which "appeared in the middle of the third sheet, and was
headed, 'Splendid Run with Mr. Puffington's Hounds.'" Mr. Grimes was
ably assisted in his editorial duties by "his eldest daughter, Lucy--a
young lady of a certain age, say liberal thirty--an ardent Bloomer, with
a considerable taste for sentimental poetry, with which she generally
filled the Poet's Corner."

As Mr. Puffington quite expected to be immortalized in some work of
general circulation, his indignation knew no bounds when he found
himself relegated to a corner of the county paper, and all his hopes of
his doings being read by "the Lords Loosefish, the Sir Toms and Sir
Harrys of former days" grievously disappointed. Never, surely, were
disgust, disappointment, and rage more perfectly expressed than in the
second portrait of Mr. Puffington: not only the face, but the whole
figure--one can fancy how the hand in the pocket of the dressing-gown is
clenched--denotes the surprise and exasperation of the miserable man.

Mr. Sponge's literary effort has "done for him" with Mr. Puffington. He
must go. Easier said than done.

"Couldn't you manage to get him to go?" asked Mr. Puffington of his
valet.

"Don't know, sir. I could try, sir--believe he's bad to move, sir," said
the valet.

Driven to despair, the host "scrawled a miserable-looking note,
explaining how very ill he was, how he regretted being deprived of Mr.
Sponge's agreeable society--hoped he would come another time," and so
on. Even the "sponger" felt the difficulty of parrying such a palpable
notice to quit. "He went to bed sorely perplexed," and in his waking
moments trying to remember "what sportsmen had held out the hand of good
fellowship and hinted at hoping to have the pleasure of seeing him"; he
could think of no one to whom he could volunteer a visit. But Fortune
favours the brave sponger, as she often does unworthy people, and in Mr.
Jogglebury Crowdey, an eccentric individual whose acquaintance Sponge
had made in the hunting-field, he found another host. At the suggestion
of Mrs. Jogglebury, who, without the slightest reason, had taken it into
her head that Mr. Sponge was a wealthy man, and would make a
satisfactory godfather to one of her children, Mr. Jogglebury called on
Mr. Sponge at the Puffington mansion, and invited him to "pay us a
visit."

No sooner does our hero grasp the situation than he says:

"Well, you're a devilish good fellow, and I'll tell you what, as I am
sure you mean what you say, I'll take you at your word and go at once."

And in this determination he persists, though Mr. J. pleads for some
delay, as Mrs. Jogglebury Crowdey requires some little time for
preparation in receiving so distinguished a guest.

The visit to Puddingpote Bower, as the Jogglebury dwelling was called,
proved as unfortunate as the previous visits; the more people saw of Mr.
Sponge the less they liked him, and this time the dislike was mutual.
"Jog and Sponge," says the author, "were soon most heartily sick of each
other." Mr. Sponge soon began to think that it was not worth while
staying at Puddingpote Bower for the mere sake of his keep, "seeing
there was no hunting to be had from it."

Within twelve or thirteen miles from the Bower there lived Sir Harry
Scattercash, a very fast young gentleman indeed. He kept "an
ill-supported pack of hounds, that were not kept upon any fixed
principles; their management was only of the scrimmaging order," but Mr.
Sponge, scenting an invitation, determined to make one amongst the
field.

In his attempt to "go it," my lord "was ably assisted by Lady
Scattercash, late the lovely and elegant Miss Glitters, of the Theatre
Royal, Sadler's Wells. Lady Scattercash could ride--indeed, she used to
do scenes in the circle (two horses and a flag), and she could drive,
and smoke, and sing, and was possessed of many other accomplishments."

What a winning creature Leech has made of her, and the scarcely less
delightful little tiger behind her, may be seen in the illustration
which the law of copyright prevents me from introducing, as it also
prohibits the appearance here of Sir Harry, her husband, the happy
possessor of the charming Lady Scattercash.

"Sometimes," says the author of "Sponge," "Sir Harry would drink
straight on end for a week!" Mr. Sponge made desperate efforts to take
up his abode at Nonsuch House, but Sir Harry was surrounded by congenial
spirits, who, one and all, had taken prejudice against that worthy; so,
beyond a hunting dinner, at which everybody, including the ladies, took
more wine than was good for them, Mr. Sponge and Nonsuch House were
strangers to each other for a time. But, as the hunting-field is open to
all and sundry, Mr. Sponge, not easily daunted, put in a frequent
appearance, in the sure and certain hope that admission to free quarters
at Sir Harry's was only delayed. Beyond what is elegantly called "peck
and perch," Nonsuch House contained a very powerful attraction in the
form of Miss Lucy Glitters, sister to Lady Scattercash. Miss Lucy was a
lovely person, and her charms were increased in Mr. Sponge's eyes
because he persuaded himself that the sister-in-law of a baronet must
necessarily be a rich woman. Miss Lucy had also the conviction that Mr.
Sponge was a rich man; how else could he spend his time in the sports of
the field, with all their expensive accompaniments? Miss Glitters was a
bold rider, and that accomplishment also endeared her to the gentleman
in whom the passion of love burned suddenly, and with a very furious
flame indeed; till on one fateful hunting day the amorous couple found
themselves "in at the death": they had distanced the field, they were
alone. Mr. Sponge secured the brush, and said:

"We'll put this in your hat, alongside the cock's feathers."

I now quote my author: "The fair lady leant towards him, and as he
adjusted it becomingly in her hat, looking at her bewitching eyes, her
lovely face, and feeling the sweet fragrance of her breath, a something
shot through Mr. Sponge's pull-devil pull-baker coat, his corduroy
waistcoat, his Eureka shirt, angola vest, and penetrated to the very
cockles of his heart. He gave her such a series of smacking kisses as
startled her horse and astonished a poacher who happened to be hid in
the adjoining hedge."

On the return of the happy pair Lucy rushes to her sister with the good
news. Lady Scattercash was delighted, because "Mr. Sponge was such a
nice man, _and so rich_! She was sure he was rich--couldn't hunt if he
wasn't. Would advise Lucy to have a good settlement, in case he broke
his neck." On further inquiry, however, her ladyship had good reason to
suspect that a red coat and two or three hunters were not satisfactory
proofs of wealth; and in reply to one who knew, she retorted, "Well,
never mind, if he has nothing, she has nothing, and nothing can be
nicer." With the conviction that nothing could be nicer, "Lady
Scattercash warmly espoused Mr. Sponge's cause," the consequence being
his instalment in splendid quarters at Nonsuch House, where he made
himself thoroughly at home. "It was very soon 'my hounds,' 'my horses,'
and 'my whips,' etc., being untroubled by his total inability to keep
the angel who had ridden herself into his affections, for he made no
doubt that something would turn up." If it were not for the introduction
of a delightful drawing by Leech, I should take no note of a
"Steeplechase," in which Mr. Sponge comes before us for the last time.
This function is not a favourite with Mr. Surtees, nor is it looked upon
without much anxiety by Miss Lucy. "She has made Mr. Sponge a white silk
jacket to ride in, and a cap of the same colour. Altogether, he is a
great swell, and very like a bridegroom," says the author.

[Illustration]

If this drawing suffered in the hands of the wood-engraver, it must
have been beyond imagination beautiful, for, as it is, it shows us Leech
in his full strength. Nothing, it seems to me, could surpass the figure of
Lucy, whose expression of loving fear for the safety of the bold Sponge is
shown to us in one of the prettiest faces conceivable. Sponge himself is
no less successfully rendered as he smiles reassuringly at his beloved.
The race--admirably described by the author--is run, and won by Mr.
Sponge. "And now for the hero and heroine of our tale. The Sponges--for
our friend married Lucy shortly after the steeplechase--stayed at Nonsuch
House till the bailiffs walked in. Sir Harry then bolted to Boulogne,
where he afterwards died. Being at length starved out of Nonsuch House,"
says the historian, "he--Sponge--arrived at his old quarters, the Bantam,
in Bond Street, where he turned his attention very seriously to providing
for Lucy and the little Sponge, who had now issued its prospectus. He
thought over all the ways and means of making money without capital....
Professional steeplechasing Lucy decried, declaring she would rather
return to her flag exercises at Astley's as soon as she was able than have
her dear Sponge risking his neck that way. Our friend at length began to
fear fortune-making was not so easy as he thought; indeed he was soon sure
of it." Something had to be done; "accordingly, after due consultation
with Lucy, he invested his all in fitting up and decorating the splendid
establishment in Jermyn Street, St. James's, now known as the SPONGE CIGAR
AND BETTING ROOMS, where noblemen, gentlemen, and officers in the
Household troops may be accommodated with loans on their personal security
to any amount." We see by Mr. Sponge's last advertisement that he has
£116,000 to lend at 3½ per cent.



CHAPTER VIII.

"THE MARCHIONESS OF BRINVILLIERS," BY ALBERT SMITH.


  "December 20, 1844.

  "MY DEAR SIR,

"Here we are at the 20th of the month, and I have only four pages of
Smith's new story--no incident. Really, it is too much to expect that I
can throw myself at a moment's notice into the seventeenth century, with
all its difficulties of costume, etc., etc. What am I to do? There is a
great want of system somewhere. I received a note from Mr. Marsh last
night, stating for the first time that there would be _two_
illustrations to 'The Marchioness of Brinvilliers,' and also urging me
to be very early with the plates, it being Christmas and all that! But,
as I said before, I have not the matter to illustrate. _What am I to
do?_ Added to all this, I must be engaged one day in the early part of
next week on the melancholy occasion of the funeral of a poor little
sister of mine. Pray, my dear sir, do what you can to expedite matters,
and

  "Believe me,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

  "---- MORGAN, ESQ."


The above is one of the many letters that might be quoted to show the
aggravating delays and difficulties under which so much of Leech's work
was produced. I take Mr. Morgan to have been one of the officials of Mr.
Richard Bentley's establishment, whose patience must have been sorely
tried again and again by the pranks of that _genus irritabile_, the
writer. Judging from the humorous character of Albert Smith's "Ledbury"
and other works, one is hardly prepared for the horrors that make us
shudder over the pages of "The Marchioness of Brinvilliers"--horrors in
which the writer seems to revel with a zest as keen as that he takes in
the fun and frolic of Ledbury.

The "shilling shocker" of the present day is a mild production indeed,
in comparison with the history of the poisoner and adulteress,
Brinvilliers, in which "on horror's head horrors accumulate." The
authors of the modern productions are, for the most part, inventors of
the blood-and-murder scenes that adorn their books. Not so Mr. Albert
Smith, whose pages describe but too truly the career of the most
notorious of the many criminals that flourished in the most profligate
period of French history. Louis XIV. set an example in debauchery to his
subjects which the highest of them eagerly followed; but the most
fearful factor of this terrible time was poison, by which the possessors
of estates who "lagged superfluous on the scene" were made to give place
to greedy heirs; husbands, inconveniently in the way, were put out of it
by their wives, whose affections had been disposed of elsewhere; state
officers, whose positions were desired by aspirants unwilling to wait
for them, were struck by sudden and mysterious illness, speedily
followed by death, for which the faculty of the time could in no way
account.

Marie, Marchioness of Brinvilliers, lived with her husband in the Rue
des Cordeliers in Paris. The Marquis was a man of easy morals, and the
Marchioness was a woman of still easier morals, for she had many lovers;
she also amused her leisure hours by the study of the nature and
properties of a great variety of deadly poisons; thinking, no doubt, as
she was of a jealous disposition, that the time might arrive when her
knowledge would be useful in depriving her lover of the temptation which
had led him to forget his duty to her. The Marchioness was a very
beautiful woman; she had eyes of a tender blue; her complexion was of
dazzling whiteness, with cheeks of a delicate carnation; her expression
was angelic, and she wore her hair of pale gold in bushy ringlets, in
obedience to the fashion of the time. We first become acquainted with
the Marchioness under painful circumstances, for she made--and kept--an
appointment with one lover without being sufficiently careful to
disguise her doings from another. That other was the Chevalier Gaudin de
Sainte-Croix, who proceeded to the lodgings of his rival, M. Camille
Theria.

"'The Marchioness of Brinvilliers is here, I believe,' said Gaudin to
the grisette at the door. 'Will you tell her she is wanted on pressing
business?'

"The Marchioness appeared. A stifled scream of fear and surprise, yet
sufficiently intense to show her emotion at the sight of Gaudin, broke
from her lips as she recognised him. But she immediately recovered her
impassibility of features--that wonderful calmness and innocent
expression which afterwards was so severely put to the proof without
being shaken--and she asked, with apparent unconcern:

"'Well, monsieur, what do you want with me?'

"'Marie!' exclaimed Gaudin, 'let me ask your business here at this hour'
(it was rather late) 'unattended, and in the apartment of a scholar of
the Hôtel Dieu?'

"'You are mad, Sainte-Croix,' said the Marchioness. 'Am I to be
accountable to you for all my actions? M. Theria is not here, and I came
to see his wife on my own affairs.'

"'Liar!' cried Gaudin."

The lady had not told the truth, for M. Theria had no wife, and he was
so near by that he heard the angry voice of M. Sainte-Croix, who so
convinced the Marchioness of her perfidy that "in an instant the
accustomed firmness of the Marchioness deserted her, and she fell upon
her knees at his feet on the cold, damp floor of the landing."

In this powerful etching nothing could surpass the beauty of the face
and figure of the Marchioness; she exactly realizes our ideal. But the
Chevalier, though full of passion, is, to my mind, verging on the
theatrical.

Finding that her entreaties to the Chevalier to "go away" have no
effect, she threatens suicide.

"There is but one resource left," she says, as she "springs up from her
position of supplication."

"Where are you going?" asked Sainte-Croix, as she rushed to the top of
the flight of stairs.

"Hinder me not!" returned Marie. "To the river!"

But before she could reach the river--to which she would no doubt have
given a very wide berth--she fainted, or pretended to faint, in the
courtyard at the bottom of the staircase. Here the pair were overtaken
by M. Theria.

"A few hot and hurried words passed on either side, and the next instant
their swords were drawn and crossed. The fight was short, and ended in
Sainte-Croix thrusting his rapier completely through the fleshy part of
the sword-arm of the student, whose weapon fell to the ground.

"'I have it!' cried Camille. 'A peace, monsieur! I have it!' he
continued, smiling, as he felt that his wound, though slight, was too
serious to have been received in so unworthy a cause.

"As he was speaking, Marie opened her eyes and looked around. But the
instant she saw the two rivals, she shuddered convulsively, and again
relapsed into insensibility.

"'She is a clever actress,' continued Camille, smiling.

"'We have each been duped,' answered Gaudin.

"'She will play me no longer. As far as I am concerned,' said Theria,
'you are welcome to all her affections, and I shall reckon you as one of
my best friends for your visit this evening.'"

The visit was destined to have an unexpected end, however, for the
attention of the Guet Royal, or night-guard, had been called to the
clashing of swords.

"Some young men, who had come up with the guard as they were returning
from their orgies, pressed forward with curiosity to ascertain the cause
of the tumult. But from one of them a fearful cry of surprise was heard
as he recognised the persons before him. Sainte-Croix raised his eyes,
and found himself face to face with Antoine, Marquis of Brinvilliers!"

The late combatants threw dust in the eyes of the lady's husband
cleverly enough by pretending that Sainte-Croix had rescued her from the
unwelcome attentions of Theria, who had mistaken her in the uncertain
light for a lady with whom he had an appointment. The cloak which the
Marchioness wore, together with the darkness of the night, had prevented
his discovering that she was not the person he expected until her cries
had brought in Sainte-Croix, who was passing, as he said himself, "to
his lodgings in the Rue des Bernardins."

The lady went home with her husband, and Sainte-Croix retired to his
lodgings, there to meditate on the perfidy of his mistress. The
Chevalier de Sainte-Croix was even more learned in poisons, and less
scrupulous in the use of them, than his mistress; and in his first gusts
of passion, on discovering her treachery, he was inclined--in the hate
of her that took temporary possession of him--to subject her to their
effect; but reflection produced demoniacal results. She should be spared
to kill those who ought to be near and dear to her!

"'I will be her bane--her curse!' he exclaimed. 'I will be her bad
angel!... And I will triumph over that besotted fool, her husband,' etc.

"He opened a small, iron-clamped box, and brought from it a small
packet, carefully sealed, and a phial of clear, colourless fluid.

"'I have it! It is here--the source, not of life, but of death!'

"Almost as he speaks, he is summoned by the _femme de chambre_ of the
Marchioness to an interview at her residence at her father's house, the
Hôtel d'Aubray. The Chevalier found the enchantress in studied disarray.
She might have been made up after one of Guido's Magdalens," says the
author, "so beautiful were her rounded shoulders, so dishevelled her
light hair," etc.

The lovers were speedily reconciled, but the lady had an important
communication to make--no less than the discovery of their intimacy by
her husband, whom she felt sure had revealed the fact to her father, M.
d'Aubray. A long pause, broken by Sainte-Croix:

"'Marie,' he said, 'they must die, or our happiness is impossible.'"

The Marchioness was not yet hardened enough to receive this announcement
with equanimity; and the lovers were still discussing the _pros_ and
_cons_ of it, when they were surprised by Monsieur d'Aubray, who,
entering by a secret door, "stood looking on the scene before him." Any
doubts of guilty intimacy, if he had any, were dispelled; and, after
ordering his daughter to her chamber, he turned to Sainte-Croix, and
said:

"'Monsieur de Sainte-Croix, I will provide you with a lodging where you
will run no risk of compromising the honour of a noble family.'"

And so saying, he produced a _lettre de cachet_, armed with which the
exempts, who were waiting for him, speedily deposited M. de Sainte-Croix
at the Bastille. The Marchioness, separated from her children and her
husband, was exiled to Offremont, a family place some distance from
Paris. Here she lived with her father, who so entirely believed in her
repentance and determination to lead a new life that he proposed a
speedy return to Paris.

"'I have no wish to go, _mon père_,' replied the hypocrite; 'I would
sooner remain here with you--for ever!'"

After much talk and reiterated professions of sorrow for the past, the
Marchioness says, in reply to her father's order that "she shall never
speak to Sainte-Croix--who had been released from the Bastille--or
recognise him again:

"'You shall be obeyed, monsieur--too willingly.'"

The words had not long left her lips when she placed a lamp in the
window of the room, to guide her lover to a prearranged assignation.

The awful interview that followed is described in Mr. Smith's book.

The greater villain ran the risk of interruption in his lengthened
arguments in favour of parricide; but hearing approaching footsteps,
Sainte-Croix hurried away.

[Illustration]

M. d'Aubray had gone to bed. A servant suggested the night-drink.

"'I will give it to him myself, Jervais,' said the Marchioness."

Taking a jug from the man, she poured the contents into an old cup of
thin silver; then, "with a hurried glance round the room, she broke the
seals of the packet Sainte-Croix had left in her hands, and shook a few
grains of its contents into the beverage. No change was visible; a few
bubbles rose and broke upon the surface, but this was all."

Sleep had surprised M. d'Aubray. His daughter touched him lightly, and
he "awoke with the exclamation of surprise attendant upon being suddenly
disturbed from sleep.

"'I have brought your wine, _mon père_,' said the murderess.

"'Thanks, thanks, my good girl,' said the old man, as he raised himself
up in bed, and took the cup from the Marchioness. He drank off the
contents, and then, once more bestowing a benediction upon his daughter,
turned again to his pillow."

Let those who desire to see how beauty can be retained, though
disfigured by devilish passion, study the face of the Marchioness in
this drawing. For skilful arrangement of light and shade, and of the
objects that go to make up the _mise en scène_, and for natural action
in the figures; this drawing takes the lead of all the admirable
illustrations in the "Marchioness of Brinvilliers."



CHAPTER IX.

"THE MARCHIONESS OF BRINVILLIERS" (_continued_).


A great reception was given at Versailles by the King. M. d'Aubray was
"suffering from a sudden and fearful indisposition, but he insisted upon
his daughter accepting an invitation, were it only to establish her
_entrée_ into society."

There, amongst the trees in the gardens, the Marchioness encounters
Sainte-Croix. "His face looked ghastly in the moonbeams, and his eyes
gleamed with a light that conscience made demoniac in the eyes of the
Marchioness."

"'You here!' she exclaimed.

"'Where should I be but in the place of rejoicing just now?' replied
Gaudin through his set teeth, and with a sardonic smile. 'I am this
moment from Paris. We are free!'

"'My father?' cried the Marchioness, as a terrible expression
overspread her countenance.

"'He is dead,' returned Sainte-Croix, 'and we are free!'"

There was a pause, and they looked at each other for nearly a minute.

"'Come,' at length said the Marchioness, 'come to the ball.'"

A prominent and very interesting figure in Mr. Smith's book is Louise
Gauthier, a girl of comparatively humble birth, who had the misfortune
to love Sainte-Croix with the intense self-sacrificing love that good
women so often show for bad men, who return their affection with
coldness and neglect. This girl, who had become the friend of Marotte
Dupré, one of the actresses in the plays of Molière which were part of
the attraction at the Versailles fête, accompanied the actress to
Versailles, where she accidentally overheard a conversation between the
Marchioness of Brinvilliers and M. de Sainte-Croix, which not only
convinced her that the love for her that Sainte-Croix had once professed
was given to another, but that some fearful tie existed between the two,
caused by actions which had destroyed their happiness here and their
hopes of it hereafter.

She came from her concealment, and was received with jealous fury by
the Marchioness, who believed, or affected to believe, that the girl was
at "the grotto" by appointment with Sainte-Croix. She bestowed what is
commonly called "a piece of her mind" upon her lover, and concluded her
rhapsody by informing him that from henceforth "we meet no more."
Louise, however, convinced the passionate Marchioness that she had made
no appointment, but was at "the grotto" by, "perhaps, a dispensation of
Providence," in order that she might, having overheard their guilty
conversation, so act upon their consciences as to "save them both."

The first result of her good intentions is a declaration to the
Marchioness by Sainte-Croix that, though there had been some
love-passages between him and the girl, they were "madness,
infatuation--call it what name you will; but you are the only one I ever
loved." Thus the ruffian speaks in the presence of the woman he had
betrayed; but her love, though crushed, still urges her to become the
man's good angel, and, seizing his arm, she cries:

"'Hear me, Gaudin. By the recollection of what we once were to each
other--although you scorn me now, and the shadowy remembrance of old
times--before these terrible circumstances, whatever they may be, had
thus turned your heart from me and from your God, there is still time to
make amends for all that has occurred. I do not speak for myself, for
all those feelings have passed, but for you alone. Repent and be happy,
for happy now you are not!'"

"Gaudin made no reply, but his bosom heaved rapidly, betraying his
emotion.

"'This is idle talk,' said the Marchioness.... 'Will you not come with
me, Gaudin?'

"'Marie!' cried Gaudin faintly, 'take me where you list. In life or
after it, on earth or in hell, I am yours--yours only!'

"A flush of triumph passed over her face as she led Sainte-Croix from
the grotto," etc.

By the death of her father the Marchioness hoped, not only to have freed
herself and her lover from an ever-recurring obstacle to their
intercourse, but also to have inherited a much-needed sum of money--no
less than "one hundred and fifty thousand livres were to have been the
legacy to his daughter, Madame de Brinvilliers--and, what was more, her
absolute freedom to act as she pleased. The money had passed to her
brothers, in trust for her, and she was left entirely under their
surveillance.

"'This must be altered,' said the Chevalier Sainte-Croix in an
interview with the _alter ego_ of an Italian vendor of poisons named
Exili.'"

This man undertakes the "alteration," or, in other words, the murder, of
the two brothers for a "consideration" in the form of "one-fifth of
whatever may fall to the Marchioness thereupon.

"'Of course, there is a barrier between the brothers of Madame de
Brinvilliers and myself,' said Sainte-Croix to his accomplice, 'that
must for ever prevent our meeting. I will provide the means, and you
their application.'"

Sainte-Croix had the right to claim the merit of this scheme for
enriching the Marchioness, and at the same time relieving her from a
guardianship that was impenetrable by her lover. The murder of her
brothers seemed a trifling affair after the poisoning of her father, and
she readily consented to assist in procuring a situation for the
poisoner's assistant--a man named Lechaussée--in the household of her
brothers, who happened, very fortunately, to be in want of a servant at
the moment. How this wretch administered the poison to the two brothers,
who died instantly from its effect, the curious reader may
ascertain--together with the other dramatic particulars--by consulting
Mr. Albert Smith's book, in which the incidents are told with great
force and skill.

By eavesdropping in somewhat improbable places--notably at a grand fête
at the Hôtel de Cluny, given by the Marquis de Lauzan, the Italian
poisoner Exili becomes master of the guilty pair's secrets. The
Marchioness's jealousy had been aroused during the evening by
Sainte-Croix's attention to an actress; and she left the great _salon_,
and retired with her friend to a cabinet, in which, after the usual
denial and reconciliation, secure, as they thought, from interruption,
they discussed their demoniacal schemes. As they were about to pass from
the room, "a portion of a large bookcase, masking a door, was thrown
open, and Exili stood before them."

The somewhat theatrical character that Leech gives to the figure of
Sainte-Croix is much less apparent in this powerful drawing; and in the
figures of Exili and the Marchioness there is not a trace of it. Though
the Brinvilliers is masked according to a habit of the time, we feel
that the mask conceals a beautiful face, distorted by fear, no doubt,
but still lovely. The Italian is altogether excellent.

Exili loses no time in turning his information to account, and in reply
to Sainte-Croix, who asks him what he wants, he replies that his trade
as a sorcerer is failing, and as a poisoner he is in "a yet worse
position, thanks to the Lieutenant of Police, M. de la Regnie.

"'I must have money,' he adds, 'to enable me to retire and die elsewhere
than on the Grève.'"

He ends by extorting from Sainte-Croix an undertaking to share with him
the wealth obtained through the murder of the brothers. But if Exili
relied upon the bond as a security of value, he displayed a degree of
ignorance of the human nature of such individuals as Sainte-Croix that
was surprising in so astute a person.

"To elude the payment of Exili's bond," says the author, "he had
determined upon destroying him, running the risk of whatever might
happen subsequently through the physician's knowledge of the murders."
And he had, therefore, ordered a body of the "Guard Royal to attend,
when they would receive sufficient proof of the trade Exili was driving
in his capacity of alchemist."

Sainte-Croix visited the Italian with excuses for the non-payment of
the money early in the evening of the day on which the arrest was
planned to take place later. To those excuses the poisoner listened
angrily; he discovered some valuable jewels which Sainte-Croix wore. He
had purposely brushed his hand against Sainte-Croix's cloak, and in the
pocket of it he felt some weighty substance. The chink assured him it
was gold.

"'You cannot have that,' said Gaudin confusedly; 'it is going with me to
the gaming-table to-night.'

"'You have rich jewels, too, about you,' continued Exili, peering at him
with a fearful expression. 'The carcanet becomes you well. That diamond
clasp is a fortune in itself.'

"'Not one of them is mine,' said Sainte-Croix. 'They belong to the
Marchioness of Brinvilliers.'"

The Italian affected to be satisfied with the assurance that the money
should be paid next day, and Sainte-Croix's doom was sealed. The
alchemist "turned to the furnace to superintend the progress of some
preparation that was evaporating over the fire.

"'What have you there?' asked Gaudin, who was anxious to prolong the
interview till the guard could arrive.

"'A venom more deadly than any we have yet known--that will kill like
lightning, and leave no trace of its presence to the most subtle tests.'

"'You will give me the secret?' asked Gaudin.

"'As soon as it is finished, and the time is coming on apace. You have
arrived opportunely to assist me.'

"He took a mask with glass eyes, and tied it round his face.

"'If you would see the preparation completed, you must wear one as
well.'

"Exili took another visor, and, under pretence of rearranging the
string, he broke it from the mask; and then, fixing it back with some
resinous compound that would be melted by the heat of the furnace, he
cautiously fixed it to Sainte-Croix's face.

"'I will mind the furnace whilst you go,' said Gaudin, in reply to the
alchemist, who said he must fetch some drugs required for further
operations.

"At that moment Sainte-Croix heard an adjacent bell sound the hour at
which he had appointed the guard to arrive.

"'There is no danger in this mask, you say?'

"'None,' said Exili.

"Anxious to become acquainted with the new poison, and in the hope that
as soon as he had acquired the secret of its manufacture the guard would
arrive, Gaudin bent over the furnace. Exili had left the apartment, but
as soon as his footfall was beyond Sainte-Croix's hearing he returned,
treading as stealthily as a tiger, and took up his place at the door to
watch his prey. As Gaudin bent his head to watch the preparation more
closely, the heat of the furnace melted the resin with which the string
had been fastened. It gave way, and the mask fell on the floor, whilst
the vapour of the poison rose full in his face almost before, in his
eager attention, he was aware of the accident.

"One terrible scream--a cry which, once heard, could never be
forgotten--not that of agony, or terror, or surprise, but a shrill and
violent indrawing of the breath, resembling rather the screech of some
huge, hoarse bird of prey irritated to madness, than the sound of a
human voice--broke from Gaudin's lips. Every muscle of his face was
contorted into the most frightful form; he remained a second, and no
more, wavering at the side of the furnace, and then fell heavily on the
floor. He was dead."

This terrible death-scene has found a perfect illustrator in John Leech.
How admirable is the fiendish expression of the poisoner as he gloats
over the body of his victim, which is drawn with a power and
truthfulness altogether perfect! Every detail of the laboratory how
skilfully introduced, how effectively rendered!

The alchemist behaved on the occasion as might be expected.

[Illustration]

"He darted at the dead body like a beast of prey; and drew forth the
bag of money, which he transferred to his own pouch. He next tore away
every ornament of any value that adorned Gaudin's costly dress...."

While at this congenial occupation, "the bristling halberts of the guard
appeared.

"'Back!' screamed Exili. 'Keep off, or I will slay you and myself, so
that not one shall live to tell the tale! Your lives are in my hands,'
continued the physician, 'and if you move one step forward they are
forfeited.'

"He darted through a doorway at the end of the room as he spoke, and
disappeared. The guard pressed forward; but, as Exili passed out at the
arch, a mass of timber descended like a portcullis and opposed their
further progress. A loud and fiendish laugh sounded in the _souterrain_,
which grew fainter and fainter, till they heard it no more."

The poisoner escaped--for a time. He was captured afterwards, tried,
and, of course, condemned to death--a merciful death compared with that
which befell him on his way to execution at the hands of the infuriated
people, by whom his guards were overpowered, and after being almost torn
to pieces, he was thrown into the Seine.

The toils were now closing round the miserable Marchioness de
Brinvilliers. The wretched woman had reached the inconceivable condition
of degradation said to be common to successful murderers when impunity
has followed their first crimes--that of killing for killing's sake. She
put on the clothes of a _religeuse_, attended the hospitals, and
poisoned the patients. Their dying cries were music to her, their
agonies afforded her the keenest pleasure. To the student of French
criminal history this is no news. I note it here so that the historian
of the woman's crimes should not be thought to have invented incidents
that existed only in his imagination. Mr. Smith had the best authority
for all the murders with which he charges Madame de Brinvilliers.

The death of Sainte-Croix was followed by the usual police regulation
where foul play is suspected. Seals were affixed to his effects, amongst
which poisons were discovered that were proved to be the property of the
Marchioness of Brinvilliers. The murderess, terror-stricken, fled from
Paris; and, though hotly pursued, she escaped into Belgium, and sought
refuge in a religious house, where she took "sanctuary." The pursuers
were so near that, as she jumped from her carriage at the convent-door,
she left her cloak in the hands of the exempt. She turned upon him, says
the author, "with a smile of triumph that threw an expression of
demoniac beauty over her features, and cried:

"'You dare not touch me, or you are lost body and soul!'"

I must again refer my reader to Mr. Albert Smith's book if he wishes to
learn how the exempt, disguised as an abbé, beguiled the Marchioness
from her sanctuary, and content myself with showing--or rather in
letting Leech show--how she looked when the police-officer dropped his
disguise and she found herself seized by his men.

The details given by Mr. Albert Smith of the last hours of Madame de
Brinvilliers are, though painful reading, very remarkable. The Docteur
Pirot, who passed nearly the whole of his time at the Conciergerie, has
left records of which the author has availed himself, as well as from
the letters of Madame de Sévigné. Those who wish to "sup full of
horrors" can satisfy themselves by reading the account of the torture by
water which was inflicted upon the miserable woman to induce her to
betray her accomplices. But there were none to betray. Her only
accomplice was dead. Her sufferings on the rack very nearly cheated the
headsman, for, as they culminated "in a piercing cry of agony, after
which all was still, the graffier, fearing that the punishment had been
carried too far, gave orders that she should be unbound." On her way to
execution, she was attended by the constant Pirot. The tumbrel stopped
before the door of Nôtre Dame, and a paper was put into her hands, from
which she read, in a firm voice, a confession of her crimes. The tumbrel
again advanced with difficulty through the dense crowds, portions of
which, "slipping between the horses of the troops who surrounded it,
launched some brutal remark at Marie with terrible distinctness and
meaning; but she never gave the least sign of having heard them, only
keeping her eyes intently fixed upon the crucifix which Pirot held up
before her."

In this drawing Leech's power over individual character may be noted in
the diversity of type amongst the hooting crowd round the tumbrel. The
shrinking form of the prisoner is very beautiful.

When the Place de Grève was reached the execrations of the mob had
ceased, and "a deep and awful silence" prevailed, "so perfect that the
voices of the executioner and Pirot could be plainly heard," says the
chroniclers. I pass over harrowing details. The beautiful head of the
poisoner was struck off by a single sword-stroke, and the executioner,
turning to Pirot, said:

"'It was well done, monsieur, and I hope madame has left me a trifle,
for I deserve it.'"

He then "calmly took a bottle from his pocket and refreshed himself with
its contents."

If the short extracts from the history of this great criminal have
enabled my readers more clearly to understand and enjoy Leech's
illustrations, my object in selecting them has been realized.



CHAPTER X.

"A MAN MADE OF MONEY."--DOUGLAS JERROLD.


Knowing that this extraordinary book was illustrated by John Leech, and
hearing that it contained some of his best work, it became my duty to
make a sufficient acquaintance with the book to enable me to criticise
and explain the drawings to my readers. I tried "skimming," but the
power of the book, and the brilliancy of the wit in it, so attracted me
that I read the whole of it.

It is not my province, and it is certainly not in my power, to pose as
a critic of literary work; and the hero--the man made of money, with a
heart made of bank-notes instead of flesh and blood, containing within
himself a bank that could be drawn upon to any amount--is so wonderful a
being as to place him out of the category of human creatures, and
altogether beyond criticism. This gentleman's name was Jericho. He had
waited till he was forty, and then he married a widow with three
children; two of them were girls, the third a young gentleman of whom
those who knew him best said, "He was born for billiards." There was no
love lost between Mr. Jericho and his step-children; in fact, they
cordially hated him, and he returned the compliment. Their name was
Pennibacker, inherited from their father, Captain Pennibacker, whose
loving wife "was made a widow at two-and-twenty by an East Indian
bullet." Mr. Jericho was one of that large class which, though really
needy, manoeuvres successfully to be considered wealthy. His
step-children considered him as "a rich plum-cake, to be sliced openly
or by stealth among them." The widow Pennibacker was first attracted to
him by "a whispered announcement that he was a City gentleman. Hence
Jericho appeared to the imagination of the widow with an indescribable
glory of money about him."

Mrs. Jericho desired to make a few purchases, and she approached her
husband with a cry familiar to most of us:

"'Mr. Jericho, when can you let me have some money?'"

The lady's confidence in her husband's wealth ought to have been shaken
by what followed her application. Mr. Jericho turned a deaf ear to the
appeal, which was repeated in every variety of tone and accent.

At length, "waving her right hand before her husband's face with a
significant and snaky motion," she reiterated her demand with a terrible
calmness:

"'When can I have some money?'

"'Woman!' cried Jericho vehemently, as though at once and for ever he
emptied his heart of the sex; and, rushing from the room, he felt
himself in the flattering vivacity of the moment a single man. 'I'm
sure, after all, I do my best to love the woman,' thought Jericho, 'and
yet she will ask me for money.'"

Disgusted with these unreasonable demands for money, Mr. Jericho
determines to revenge himself by taking a day's pleasure with three
special friends, to be ended by "a quiet banquet at which the human
heart would expand in good fellowship, and where the wine was above
doubt."

The dinner was a great success. It was very late--or rather somewhat
early, as the sparrows were twittering from the eaves--when Mr. Jericho
sought the marital couch, in which, too, his "wife Sabilla" was
evidently "in a sound, deep, sweet sleep."

"Untucking the bed-clothes, and making himself the thinnest slice of a
man, Jericho slides between the sheets; and there he lies feloniously
still, and he thinks to himself--Being asleep, she cannot tell how late
I came to bed. At all events, it is open to dispute, and that is
something.

"'Mr. Jericho, when can you let me have some money?'

"With open eyes, and clearly ringing every word upon the morning air,
did Mrs. Jericho repeat this primal question.

"And what said Jericho? With a sudden qualm at the heart, and with a
stammering tongue, he answered:

"'Why, my dear, I thought you were sound asleep.'"

Here follows a dialogue in the vein of the "Caudle Lectures," in which
Jerrold gives his wit and humour full play. To the perusal of the
"give-and-take" passage of arms I cordially commend my readers. The
dialogue closes with these words:

"'I'm sure it's painful enough to my feelings, and I feel degraded by
the question, nevertheless I must and will ask you--_When will you let
me have some money?_'"

This was the last straw, and Jericho groaned out:

"'I WISH TO HEAVEN I WAS MADE OF MONEY!'"

To which Mrs. Jericho retorted, "in a low, deep, earnest voice:

"'I wish to Heaven you were!'"

Silence came at last, and in the midst of it Jericho "subsided into
muddled sleep; snoring heavily, contemptuously, at the loneliness of his
spouse."

And now _two fleas_--an elder and younger flea--come upon the scene, and
proceed to dine, or sup, upon Mr. Jericho's brow.

A long conversation ensues between these interesting creatures, in which
the elder flea describes to his son how a man's heart was changed into
inexhaustible bank-notes.

"'Miserable race!' said the father flea, with his beautiful bright eye
shining pitifully upon Jericho; 'miserable, craving race, you hear, my
son! Man in his greed never knows when he has wherewithal. He gorges to
gluttony; he drinks to drunkenness; and you heard this wretched fool who
prayed to Heaven to turn him--heart, brain, and all--into a lump of
money.'"

How the operation was effected may be learnt from Mr. Jerrold's book.
One result of it was a most troubled and miserable night to the dreamer
Jericho, whose complaints to his wife when he awoke met with no
sympathy.

"'If I were to live a thousand years, I shouldn't forget last night!'
groaned Jericho.

"'Very likely not,' said Mrs. Jericho; 'I've no doubt you deserve to
remember it. I shouldn't wonder----'"

Mrs. Jericho's want of money is intensified by the wants of her son
Basil, whose luck at billiards may have failed him just when his
creditors were most pressing.

"'Well, what does the old fellow say, the scaly old griffin? What's he
got to answer for himself?'" This was "the sudden question put to Mrs.
Jericho on her return to the drawing-room, after the interview with her
husband. 'Come, what is it? Will he give me some money? In a word,'
asked young hopeful, 'will he go into the melting-pot, like a man and a
father?'

"'My dear Basil, you mustn't ask me,' replied Mrs. Jericho.

"'Oh, mustn't I, though!' cried Basil. 'Ha, you don't know the lot of
people that's asking me; bless you, they ask a hundred times to my
once!'"

The Jerichos have some rich friends, the Carraways, who live in a
mansion called Jogtrot Hall, "the one central grandeur, the boast and
the comfort of the village of Marigolds." To a fête at the Hall comes an
invitation to the Jerichos. It had always been Mrs. Jericho's ambition
that her girls should--"in her own nervous words"--make a blow in
marriage, and she felt that perhaps the time had come. But the girls'
dresses--the "war-paint," as Mr. Basil put it--there was the difficulty,
only to be surmounted by Mr. Jericho's yielding to the repeated cry,
"When will you let me have some money?"

With but faint hopes of success, Mrs. Jericho seeks her husband in his
study. In a long colloquy, she urges the importance of her daughters'
appearance at this "grand party," and the necessity for an advance to
enable them to do so properly. Mr. Jericho turns a deaf ear to her
appeal, till suddenly a wonderful change comes over him.

"Quite a new look of satisfaction gleamed from his eyes, and his mouth
had such a strange smile of compliance! What could ail him?"

The charm was working, the marvellous change was in operation. Mrs.
Jericho fears for her husband's sanity. "'He doesn't look mad,' thought
Mrs. Jericho, a little anxious.

"'I feel as if I had got new blood, new flesh, new bones, new brain!
Wonderful!' Jericho trod up and down the room and snapt his fingers.
'Something's going to happen,' said he."

And something did indeed happen. The transformation was complete; the
hard heart had given place to illimitable money.

"'You will let me have the money?' repeated Mrs. Jericho.

"Jericho answered not a word, but withdrew his hand from his breast.
Between his finger and his thumb he held in silver purity a virgin Bank
of England note for a hundred pounds. Mrs. Jericho ran delightedly off
with the money.

"And Jericho sat with his heart beating faster. Again he placed his hand
to his breast, again drew forth another bank-note. He jumped to his
feet, tore away his dress, and, running to a mirror, saw therein
reflected, not human flesh, but over the region of the heart a loose
skin of bank-paper, veined with marks of ink. He touched it, and still
in his hand lay another note. His thoughtless wish had been wrought into
reality. Solomon Jericho was in very truth a Man made of Money."

The fête at Jogtrot Hall was a great success. The guests were many, and
some of them distinguished. The Honourable Mr. Candytuft, Colonel Bones,
Commissioner Thrush, and Dr. Mizzlemist, of Doctors' Commons, must be
noted, as they have to be dealt with pictorially by Leech hereafter.
After a variety of entertainments, some twenty or thirty hungry guests
graced a table under a long, wide tent, on which "there were the most
delicious proofs of the earth's goodness, with every kitchen mystery."
The host, Mr. Carraway, took the head of the table; Mr. Jericho,
"dignified and taciturn, graced the board." The orator on the occasion
was Dr. Mizzlemist, who had been seized with a passion to drink
everybody's health. For the third time he rose to give "the health of
Solomon Jericho, Esquire, an honour to his country."

"In the course of his speech the Doctor delivered himself with so much
energy that at the same time he stuck the fork, which had served him in
emphasizing the Jericho virtues, between the bones of Mr. Jericho's
right hand, pinning it where it lay.

"'It is nothing,' said the philosophic Jericho."

The change in Mr. Jericho's appearance, from the full-faced,
healthy-looking individual of Leech's first drawing, to the spare,
hollow-cheeked man at the banquet, is to be accounted for by the fact
that, after each application to the strange bank established in Mr.
Jericho's breast, his whole form shrinks; he becomes thinner and
thinner, to the alarm of his tailor, who "says, as he measures the
changed man:

"'Six inches less round the body, as I'm a sinner! Six inches less, Mr.
Jericho, and I last took your measure six weeks ago.'"

At the Carraway fête the Misses Jericho made, and improved, the
acquaintance of the Hon. Mr. Candytuft, and of an incredible idiot, Sir
Arthur Homadod. The idiot was as beautiful as he was foolish; he was
therefore handsome beyond the dreams of beauty. Whatever had taken the
place of the mind in the baronet was impressed by Miss Agatha
Pennibacker, and that virgin's heart being free, she lost it to Sir
Arthur. The Hon. Mr. Candytuft, having an eye to the enormous fortune
supposed to be possessed by Mr. Jericho, and being desirous to secure
the portion of it that would of course fall to his step-daughter, made
love to Miss Monica with considerable success.

In the meantime the ladies wish to go to Court; in this they are
encouraged by Candytuft; and, to enable them to make a proper figure
there, costly jewels are required. To Candytuft and Jericho enter Mrs.
J., "with a magnificent suite of jewels.

"'Aren't they beautiful, my dear Solomon?' said she....

"'You know, my dear,' said Mrs. Jericho, in her sweetest, most
convincing voice, 'it would be impossible to go to Court without
diamonds. One isn't dressed without diamonds.'

"'Court!' Jericho opened his eyes, and a wan smile broke on his thin,
blank cheek. 'Are you going to Court?'

"'Why, of course--are we not, dear Mr. Candytuft? What would be thought
of us if we did not pay our homage to----'

"The sentence was broken by the sudden appearance of Monica and Agatha,
each bearing a jewel-case, and looking radiant with the possession.

"'Thank you, dear papa,' said Monica, curtseying and smiling her best to
Jericho.

"'They're beautiful. Thank you--dear, dearest papa,' cried the more
impulsive Agatha.

"'Look!' said Monica, and she exhibited her treasure.

"'Look!' cried Agatha, and she half dropped upon one knee, on the other
side, to show her jewels.

"'Beautiful!' cried Candytuft. 'Pray, ladies, don't stir.'

"The girls, with pretty wonder on their faces, kept their positions on
either side of Jericho.

"'My dear madam'--and Candytuft appealed to Mrs. Jericho--'is not this
a delightful group--an exquisite family picture? It ought to be
painted.'"

[Illustration: _A Family Picture._]

Mr. Candytuft is right. The graceful figures of the girls, the
attenuated figure of papa, in whose hopeless expression one sees the
dread of further attenuation, together with his own perfect presentment,
would make--indeed, does make--an admirable picture. The jewels cost one
thousand pounds: ten calls have to be made upon the supernatural bank.
They are made, and the jeweller is paid. And the result! For some
minutes after the departure of the tradesman Jericho sat motionless--all
but breathless. He would, however, know his fate. He took out the silk
lace with which an hour ago he had measured his chest. Again he passed
it round his body. He had drawn upon the bank, and he had shrunk an
inch.

Truly he was a man made of money--money was the principle of his being,
for with every note he paid away a portion of his life.

Poor Mr. Carraway was ruined through no fault of his own. Jogtrot Hall
was sold, and Jericho bought it. Thirty thousand pounds' worth of flesh
had he sacrificed to buy to himself a country mansion. He had become a
member of Parliament, and at the same time become so thin that his
tailor declared, "It's like measuring a penknife for a sheath." "Why,"
said the tailor to his wife, "he isn't a man at all, but a cotton-pod.
He can't have no more stomach than a 'bacco-pipe." In fact, it was the
growing belief of a large circle that Jericho was no flesh, no man, at
all. "He was made up of coats," ran the rumour, "like an onion."

The insolence that is sometimes the accompaniment of great riches took
full possession of Mr. Jericho, and he found an occasion to treat
Colonel Bones to a specimen of it. Almost without provocation the
Colonel was called "a toad-eater! a bone-picking pauper!" etc. For this
insult the Colonel declared he would have Mr. Jericho's blood, and in
pursuance of that object he sent the millionaire a challenge. Jericho
fought very hard to avoid fighting, but his second, Mr. Candytuft,
prevailed, and the belligerents met in Battersea Fields. Mr.
Commissioner Thrush waited upon the angry Colonel, and the celebrated
Dr. Dodo was there to attend to the wounded. The seconds confer; the men
are placed. Candytuft looked at them with an eye of admiration. The
signal was given.

"Colonel Bones fires, and his ball goes clear through Jericho's bosom,
knocking off a button in its passage, and striking itself flat against a
pile of bricks."

"'A dead man!' cried the doctor, running to Jericho.

"'My friend,' exclaimed Candytuft, 'have you made your will?'

"'Eh? What's the matter?' said Jericho.

"'Matter!' exclaimed Dr. Dodo, and he pointed his cane to the hole in
the front of Jericho's coat, immediately over the region of his heart.
'Matter! It's the first time I ever heard a man with a bullet clean
through his breast ask--What's the matter!'"

The Colonel's ball had passed through Jericho's bank-note-paper breast,
and Jericho lived and moved and was none the worse for it. Jericho fired
in the air.

An ugly atmosphere was collecting about Mr. Jericho, and he was aware of
it. "His own family saw in him a man of mysterious attributes. Monica
turned pale at the smallest courtesy of her parent, and Agatha, suddenly
meeting him on the staircase, squealed and ran away as from a fiend.

"Mr. Jericho went on a rejoicing conqueror. His huge town mansion,
burning with gold--massive, rich, and gorgeous; for the Man of Money was
far the most substantial, the most potent development of his creed,
whereby to awe and oppress his worshippers----"

Mrs. Jericho had made up her mind that it was time her daughters were
"settled in life, and she said as much to her husband."

"'Your girls, my dear, have my free permission to settle when and where
they like,' said the husband.

"But in sounding Mr. Jericho as to his intentions in the matter of
settlements, she could make no way whatever. At last she put the
point-blank question:

"'What do you propose to give the dear child?' (alluding to Monica, for
whose hand Candytuft was about to ask).

"'Give! I'll give a magnificent party on the occasion.'

"'But the dowry; what dowry do you give?'

"'Dowry! I thought, my dear, you observed marriage was no bargain? Why,
you're making it quite a ready-money transaction!'"

At this point the conversation was interrupted by Mr. Candytuft, who,
before advocating his own case, warmly espoused that of his foolish
friend, Sir Arthur Homadod, the accepted of Agatha.

"'He's as bashful as--as--upon my life I am at a loss for a simile. And
as he and I are old friends, and as he knew that I should see you--in
fact, he's in the house at this moment, and came along with me--he
desired me to inform you that Miss Agatha had consented to fix
the--the--what d'ye call it--the happy day.'

"'Wish them joy,' said Jericho.

"'As to the young lady's dowry?' hesitated Candytuft.

"'I can't give a farthing; can't afford it, my dear Candytuft.'"

The ambassador then speaks for himself:

"'You may have remarked my affection for Miss Monica? You must have
remarked it?'

"'I beg a thousand pardons,' said the wag Jericho, 'but it has quite
escaped me.'

"Candytuft wanly smiled.

"'In a word, my dear sir, we have come to the sweet conclusion that we
were made for one another.'

"'Dear me! Well, how lucky you should have met!'"

Mr. Candytuft beats about the bush for awhile, but at last comes
abruptly to the point, saying:

"'I _must_ ask--you force me to be plain--what will you give with the
young lady?'

"'Not a farthing!' cried Jericho. 'Not one farthing!' said the man of
money with determined emphasis.


"'What is the matter?' said Mrs. Jericho, who entered the room at this
juncture.

"'Pooh! you know well enough,' cried Jericho. 'Mr. Candytuft wants to
marry rich; but that's not all--he wants to be handsomely paid for the
trouble.'"

After awhile Jericho affects to agree to dower his step-daughter, and he
says:

"'Let us settle the sum, eh! Well, then, what sum would satisfy you?'"

It was a delicate question to put thus nakedly.

"'Come, name a figure. Say five thousand pounds.'"

Candytuft looked blankly at Jericho, moving not a muscle.

"'What do you say to seven?'

"Candytuft gently lifted his eyebrows, deprecating the amount.

"'Come, then, we'll advance to ten?'

"The lover's face began to thaw, and he showed some signs of kindly
animation.

"'At a word, then,' cried Jericho with affected heartiness, 'will you
take fifteen thousand?'

"'From you--yes,' cried Candytuft; and he seized Jericho's hand.

"The man of money looked at Candytuft with a contemptuous sneer, and
with a wrench twisted his hand away. He then dropped into a chair, and a
strange, diabolical scowl possessed his countenance. The man of money
looked like a devil.

"'And where--where do you think this money is to come from? Where?'
asked Jericho, and he rose from his chair, and it seemed as though the
demon possessing him would compel the wretch to talk--would compel him
to make terrible revelations. Each word he uttered was born of agony.
But there he stood, forced to give utterances that tortured him. 'I will
tell you,' roared Jericho, 'what this money is. Look about you! What do
you see?--fine pictures, fine everything. Why, you see me--tortured,
torn, worked up, changed. The walls are hung with my flesh--my flesh you
walk upon. I am worn piecemeal by a hundred thieves, but I'll be shared
among them no longer.'"

By this time the girls and Sir Arthur Homadod, alarmed by the cries of
Jericho, had entered the room.

"'And you had a fine feast, had you not?' cried the possessed man of
money, writhing with misery and howling his confession. 'And what did
you eat?--my flesh. What did you drink?--my blood!'"

It would be impossible to imagine a more satisfactory realization of
this powerful scene than Leech's rendering of it. The shrinking figure
of Candytuft as he retreats before the fury of the moneyed man; the
awful passion of the shrivelled Jericho; above all, the vacuous
expression of Sir Arthur, all are done to perfection and without
exaggeration. Beyond the endeavour to make the meaning of the
illustrations in the "Man made of Money" clear to my readers, I have
little or nothing to do with the story. I may note, however, that young
Basil Pennibacker falls in love with Bessy, the pretty daughter of the
ruined merchant Carraway, and that bold bankrupt, who is about to seek a
new fortune at the Antipodes, calls upon Jericho to ask his consent to
his stepson's marriage. How the announcement of the engagement was
received may be imagined, or if my reader be not satisfied with his idea
of what may have taken place, he can read in Mr. Jerrold's book how Mr.
Carraway was met by his old friend. He will also find an illustration of
an interview between "The Pauper and the Man of Money," but as I do not
think it quite worthy of Leech, I do not reproduce it. I may as well add
that Basil--who turns out to be a very good fellow--does marry Bessy,
and the happy pair, with the parent pair of Carraways, depart for
Australia in the good ship _Halcyon_.

Mr. Jericho's explosion, and his unpleasant conduct
generally--especially regarding Monica's dowry--had altered Mr.
Candytuft's matrimonial intentions for the present: there were delays.
"He had suddenly discovered some dormant right to some long-forgotten
property, and he meant to secure that, and lay it as an offering at the
feet of his bride." How the foolish Sir Arthur agreed to marry Agatha
without a dowry, to the intense delight of Jericho--how splendid
preparations for the wedding were made--how the wedding-party, Jericho
included, waited at the church for the bridegroom, who never came (he
had overslept himself in consequence of an overdose of medicine taken to
steady his nerves)--for these details my reader is again referred to Mr.
Jerrold, who describes the whole most enjoyably. Leech draws the baronet
awakened by his servant, but too late: the canonical hour has passed. A
report was spread that Sir Arthur had taken poison to avoid the Jericho
connection.

Just at this time Mr. Jericho was offered a most satisfactory
mortgage--so any way there was land for his money--no less than
five-and-forty thousand pounds, by his friend the Duke of St. George.

Jericho lent the money, in the hope of climbing into the House of Lords
with the assistance of the Duke; but this last drain upon his resources,
with its penalty of attenuation, had left very little of him to go
anywhere.

"He had shrunk," says the author. "How horribly he had dwindled, how
wretchedly small he had become! Ay, how small! He would measure himself,
he would know the exact waste. Whereupon Jericho took the silken cord
and passed it round his breast. Why, it would twice encircle him--twice!
and a piece to spare. With horror and loathing he flung the cord into
the fire. He would never again take damning evidence against himself."

It became evident to Jericho that, if he desired to retain enough of his
person to enable his friends and relations to recognise him, the drain
upon the chest notes must cease.

"He would, therefore, not draw another note--no, not another. He would
live upon what he had. He would turn the foolish superfluities about him
into hard, tangible money."

Bent upon turning everything belonging not only to himself, but to his
wife and daughters, into cash, he sent for Mrs. Jericho.

"The trembling wife had scarcely power to meet the eyes of her
helpmate. In two days twenty years seemed to have gathered upon him. His
face looked brown, thin, and withered as last year's leaf. His whole
body bent and swayed like a piece of paper moved by the air. As he held
his hand aloof, the light shone through it. It was plain there was some
horrid compact between her lord and the infernal powers, or--it was all
as one--the tyranny of conscience had worn him to his present condition.

"'Mrs. Jericho, madam, you will instantly bring me all your
diamonds--jewellery--all. Give like orders to your daughters, the
mincing harpies that eat me.'"

The terrified woman remonstrated, asked for an explanation, offered to
send for the doctor.

"'Away with you! do as I command. Bring me all your treasures--all. And
your minxes! See that they obey me too, and instantly.'

"'Yes, my love, to be sure,' said Mrs. Jericho, for she was all but
convinced that Solomon's reason was gone or going. It was best to humour
him. 'And why, my love, do you wish for these things? Of course you
shall have them, but why?'

"'To turn them into money, madam,' cried Jericho, rubbing his hands.
'We have had enough of the tomfoolery of wealth--I now begin to hunger
for the substance. I'll do without fashion. I'll have power,
madam--power!'"

The conversation continued, and Mrs. Jericho became more and more
convinced that her husband was mad.

"'Oh that Dr. Stubbs would make a morning call!' silently prayed the
wife."

The man of money, having determined to dismantle his house and send his
wife and daughters adrift, retired with one servant, all the rest being
discharged, into "one of his garrets, a den of a place," where the
scullion had slept. The servant was the pauper grandfather of one of his
footmen, an old man of "congenial weakness with Jericho. Indeed, there
looked between them a strange similitude, twin brethren damned to the
like sordidness, the like rapacity."

Jericho had nicknamed the old man Plutus. Jericho and Plutus were in
face and expression as like as two snakes.

Mrs. Jericho, assured of her husband's madness, took counsel with her
friends. Drs. Stubbs and Mizzlemist, Colonel Bones, Commissioner Thrush,
and Candytuft met in conclave and listened to Mrs. Jericho's account of
her husband's ravings; but she failed to convince the doctors that what
a jury would consider insanity, was apparent in anything that the man of
money had said or done. As Dr. Mizzlemist delivered this opinion, a
crash was heard in an adjoining room--another, and another, and then a
loud triumphant laugh from the throat of Jericho.

Wife and daughters, with jury of friends, started to their feet.
Candytuft, ere he was aware--for had he reflected "a moment, he would as
soon have unbarred a lion's cage--opened the doors. And there stood
Jericho, laden with spoil."

Though Mr. Jericho was voted sane by the doctors, his conduct displayed
a brutality for which madness would be the only excuse. The Jews were
coming, everything was to be sold.

"'Why stay you here?' cried the man of money to his wife. 'Why will you
not be warned? In a few hours there will not be a bed for your fine
costly bones to lie upon. Now will you depart?'"

The Jews wandered about the rooms, appraising everything. Jericho was
anxious to avoid a "public hubbub," as he called a sale.

"'I want,' said he to the brokers, 'at a thought, to melt all you see,
and have seen, into ready money. Take counsel together, I say, and make
me an offer, a lumping offer, for the whole--eh?'"

[Illustration: "_And there stood Jericho._"]

The man of money ascended to his garret and awaited the Jews' offer,
which was promised for the evening. He was alone, "evening closed in,
and the moon rose and looked reproachfully at the miser."

The garret door opened, and Plutus appeared.

"'Well, has it come?' cried the master.

"'Here it is,' answered the servant, as he laid a letter upon the table.

"'Well, now for their conscience!' exclaimed the man of money."

Light was required; there was a candle upon the table, and paper
prepared to light it.

"Most precious paper--the heart's flesh and blood of the man of money!
For the devilish serving-man had folded a note (how obtained can it
matter?)--a note peeled from the breast of his master, a piece of money,
a part of the damned Jericho sympathizing with him.

"The man of money took the paper--the devil, with his ear upturned,
crept closer to the door--and thrust it amidst the dying coals. A
moment, and the garret is rent as with a lightning flash.

"Yelling, and all on fire, the man of money falls prostrate with hell
in his face. Then his lips move, but not a sound is heard. And the fire
communicated by the sympathy of the living note--the flesh of his
flesh--like a snake of flame glides up his limbs, devouring them. And so
he is consumed: a minute, and the man of money is a thin black paper
ash. Now the night wind stirs it, and now a sudden breeze carries the
cinereous corpse away, fluttering it to dust impalpable."



CHAPTER XI.

ALBERT SMITH AND LEECH.


In July, 1851, a new work appeared, under the name and title of the
_Month_: "a View of Passing Subjects and Manners, Home and Foreign,
Social and General, by Albert Smith and John Leech." The publication was
a serial one--monthly, in fact; and as it contained many amusing skits
by Albert Smith, and much of Leech's best work, notice of it is
incumbent upon a writer of Leech's life.

Eighteen fifty-one, as everybody knows, was the year of the Great
Crystal Palace Exhibition in Hyde Park. I well remember visiting the
huge glass building in February, 1851, in company with Dickens and Sir
Joseph Paxton. Dickens was wrapped in furs, and we shivered through the
place, which was only partially roofed; and seemed altogether so far
from completion as to cause great doubts in our minds of the possibility
of its being ready for its contents by the first of May.

I put the question to Paxton, and his reply was:

"I _think_ it will; but, mind, I don't _say_ it will."

Paxton's thought was justified; for the Exhibition was opened by the
Queen in great state at the date fixed, though many of its intended
exhibits were still to come.

I confess I shared the foolish dread that the opening would be so
crowded as to be very uncomfortable, if not dangerous, to sight-seers;
and I therefore declined to accompany my brother, who was braver than I;
and sorry enough I was when I found that the panic had been so universal
as to enable the few courageous visitors to have the show, as my brother
expressed it, "all to themselves."

The first number of the _Month_ appeared in July, 1851, and the last
was issued towards the close of that year. It seems to have been the
intention of the authors to have taken typical young ladies, and, under
the heading of "Belles of the Month," have used them as prefixes to each
monthly part. Unfortunately, I think this idea was only partially
carried out. True, we have Belles of the Park, and Belles of the Ball,
and one or two Belles of the Month, so charmingly done by Leech as to
make it a matter of surprise that such great attractions were not more
frequently admitted to the paper.

The literary portion which begins the _Month_ is very Albert Smithian
indeed. In proof, I quote some of his description of "The Hyde Park
Belle":

"The charming young lady introduced to me," says Mr. Smith, "was of
middling stature, with oval face, chestnut hair, dark eyes, and very
white and regular teeth. She had on a white transparent bonnet, and
light muslin dress all _en suite_. In answer to my questions, she
replied as follows:

"'I shall be nineteen in August, and have been out two years and a
half. Have I ever been engaged? Only once, and that was broken off
because I went on a drag to Richmond with the officers of the --th. Lady
Banner was inside--it was all perfectly proper. She is a very nice
woman--always ready to chaperone anybody anywhere if her share is paid.
Only sometimes she bores one dreadfully. Edmund went to India. I don't
know where he is now; I have not heard. I dare say he is somewhere. He
bored me dreadfully at last. I work very hard--oh, very hard
indeed!--that is, in the season. My maid always sits up to make tea for
me when I come home. Her hours are very regular, considering. She goes
to bed every morning about four; but, then, she doesn't have to dance
half the night. Yes; I like the Crystal Palace. Oh! I get so tired
there--walking, and walking, and walking, you can't think how far! I
know the Crystal Palace fountain and Dent's clock, and the stuffed
animals and the envelope-machine. I don't think I have seen anything
else; I have never been out of the nave and the transept--nobody goes
anywhere else. I did not know that there was anything to see upstairs,
except large carpets. I am sure they would bore me dreadfully. We are
engaged every night.... We had scarcely time to dress for the Grapnels'
dinner-party; and then we went to Mrs. Crutchley's, to meet the Lapland
Ambassador. We could not get into the room, and stood for two hours on
the landing. Old Mr. Tawley was there, and would keep talking to me; he
always bores me dreadfully. He is going to take mamma and me to see some
pictures somewhere. I hate seeing pictures; they bore me dreadfully.
After Lady Crutchley's, we went to Mrs. Croley's amateur concert, which
was nearly over. She had only classical music. I don't know what
classical music is; I only know it bores me dreadfully. Ashton Howard
says the same people who like classical music buy old china and wear
false hair. I wish people would give up classical music. It never amuses
anybody--that is, anybody worth amusing. I don't know whether "The
Huguenots" is classical music or not; I only know that when they give it
at the Royal Italian Opera nobody seems bored _then_. I don't know that
I am exactly.'"

Whether in these boxes full of beauties one amongst them is intended by
Leech to personate Mr. Smith's "dreadfully bored" young lady, I cannot
say. Certainly there is not one who seems in the condition described as
not being "exactly bored."

The Belle of Hyde Park continues:

"'I go into the Park every day with mamma, but it bores me dreadfully.
I see nothing but the same people, and I know all the trees and rails by
heart. I ride sometimes; I like it better than the carriage. But papa
don't ride very often; and if he don't I can't, except with the
Pevenseys and their brothers. John Pevensey is very stupid, and talks to
me about farming. I get very tired; but I am obliged to go, because the
Pevenseys know so many receivable people. But they bore me dreadfully;
in fact, I don't know who or what does not. I long for the season to be
over; and when I go into the country, I long for it to begin again. I
wish I could do as I pleased, like Marshall--that's my maid--when she
has a holiday. She is going to marry the man at the hairdresser's; and
last Sunday they went down all by themselves to Gravesend. I see mamma's
face if Ashton Howard was to propose to take me to Gravesend next
Sunday, and without Lady Banner! I wish sometimes I was Marshall. Now
and then I would give a good deal for a good cry. I can't tell you
why--I don't know; only that everything is a trouble, and bores me
dreadfully.'"

In reply to further inquiries from Mr. Smith, the young lady tells him
what she pays for her satin shoes, which are worn out after two parties.
Does she have her gloves cleaned?

"'Certainly; but not for evening parties--the men's coats blacken them
in an instant. They do very well for the opera and evening
concerts--nothing else. The Pevenseys wear cleaned gloves. Everybody
knows it; and Ashton Howard always asks out loud if a camphine-lamp has
gone out when they come into the room. You can get a nice bouquet for
five or six shillings. Old Mr. Rigby, in the Regent's Park, told me I
might cut any flowers from his conservatory. But I don't care for
that--I would sooner buy them; he bores me dreadfully.'"

It cannot be denied that ugliness has reached its climax in men's dress
of the present day. It would be extremely difficult to find a garment
more hideous than a dress-coat; and it is impossible for any
head-covering to exceed the stove-pipe hat in ugliness, to say nothing
of inconvenience and detestable uncomfortableness.

These sentiments were fully shared by one of the _Month's_
correspondents, a gentleman named Simmons, who "emerged from his
residence at Islington" on the day of the opening of the Great
Exhibition with the intention of showing to the multitudes who were
expected to attend that ceremony the kind of hat that should depose, at
once and for ever, the detestable chimney-pot.

"It was, in fact," says the bold reformer, "merely a wide-brimmed,
flat-crowned wideawake, to which I thought a feather--in these days of
foreign immigration--would not be an out-of-the-way addition. I had
contemplated my own features beneath it in as much variety of light and
shadow as I could obtain from my shaving-glass for half an hour
preceding my departure, and had arrived at such a satisfactory
conclusion as to its effect, that I regarded myself as a sort of modern
William Tell, about to release my country, by a bold example, from an
oppressive and degrading subjection to a detested hat."

A love of change is said to be inherent in human nature; but attacks
upon custom--indeed, innovations of all kinds--are usually futile unless
very special conditions attend the attempts. If the famous hat invented
by a Royal Prince was received with overwhelming ridicule, as my older
readers will remember that it was; a less melancholy fate could scarcely
be expected for the wideawake and feather of the little gentleman from
Islington.

"My appearance in the street certainly created a sensation," says Mr.
Simmons; "but it was one exceedingly mortifying to my feelings. Omnibus
drivers winked at each other, and pointed at me with their whips.
Occasionally a stray boy would indulge in personal observations, or a
grown-up ragamuffin would sputter out an oath, and burst into a horse
laugh, which to my mind appeared totally unwarranted by the
circumstances of the case."

The managers of the _Month_ very wisely placed this etching in the front
of their first number. In all respects Leech is here seen at his best.
The figure of the poor little victim of reform, the street-boys and
their surroundings, are all unsurpassable; while to an artist the
composition of the figures and the arrangement of light and shadow are
excellent.

After escaping from the attentions of Leech's inimitable Arabs, Mr.
Simmons reaches Hyde Park to find fresh troubles. The feathered
wideawake creates a sensation, but not of the kind that its wearer
expected; he was asked where "he bought it," and "if he would sell it";
"if he made it himself"; and if he had "another at home like it to spare
for a friend," and so on. The "air of unconsciousness" that the reformer
assumed irritated his assailants, whose "offensive remarks and insolent
mirth" were soon exchanged for attentions more uncomfortable.

[Illustration: _Mr. Simmons's attempt at Reform._]

Says Mr. Simmons: "A bright flash of practical jocularity suddenly
illumined the mind of an original genius, who at once carried it into
effect by casting at my decided article of costume a large tuft of
grass, which struck me on the back of my neck, broke into dry dirt, and
raised a perfect roar of delight at my expense." Instead of patiently
enduring this assault, as a prudent man would have done when surrounded
by enemies, the valiant Simmons turned upon his assailant, "and struck
the wit a severe blow in the face." That was a death-blow to the
picturesque hat, which "afforded some slight sport as a football for a
few moments, and then vanished and was seen no more."

It will be seen by the quotations that the literary portion of the
_Month_ is of the slight character--though sometimes clever and
amusing--to which so much of Leech's work has been allied. A sketch,
entitled "Home from the Party," gives occasion for the accompanying
drawing by Leech of a young gentleman who has "danced all night till the
broad daylight," "and gone home" by himself "in the morning." On his
journey a brougham overtakes him, containing "the handsome dark girl
with the clematis and fuchsia wreath, looking pale and pretty, with a
pocket-handkerchief over her head cornerwise, held together at the chin.
We think about that brougham-girl till she is out of sight, and wonder
if we appeared to the best advantage as she passed. We don't much think
we did. One of the springs of our hat was out of order, and we were
carrying our gloves in our hand, crumpled up to the size of a walnut, as
though we were going to conjure with them; and we were blinking as we
met the sun at the corner, and holding a seedy bouquet in our hand,
which evidently she had not given us."

The remarks, conversations, comments, and so forth, that generally
accompany Leech's drawings were invariably his own composition, and in
their humorous aptness are almost as admirable as the drawings they
explain. In illustration I note a design under the heading of "Moral
Courage."

  "SCENE--_A Station of the Shoeblack Brigade_.

  "FIRST BOY: 'Here's another swell, Bill, a-coming to be blacked.'

  "SECOND BOY: 'Ooray!'

  "THIRD BOY: 'Ain't his boots thin neither?'

  "FOURTH BOY: 'Wouldn't they pinch my toes if I had 'em? Oh my!'

  "FIFTH BOY: 'They don't pinch his'n.'

  "SIXTH BOY: 'Yes, they do.'

  "FIRST BOY: 'Go easy, Blacky; mind his corns.' (_Swell winces_.) 'That
  was a nasty one.'

  "(_The comments are extended from the swell's boots to his costume and
  appearance generally. And all this for a penny_)."

Mr. Thackeray's "Four Georges" are, no doubt, familiar to my readers,
some of whom may also remember his delivery of them in the form of
lectures to large audiences. In that great writer's early time he wrote
many essays, art-criticisms, etc., under the name of "Michael Angelo
Titmarsh," and it is under that title that he is represented in the
drawing by his friend Leech, as he appeared at Willis's Rooms "in his
celebrated character of Mr. Thackeray."

In the _Month_, Mr. Albert Smith makes Leech's drawing a peg upon which
he hangs some justly complimentary remarks on the Thackeray lectures
which took the town by storm forty years ago.

Whether the "Belle of Hyde Park" or the "Belle of the Ball" is to be
considered the belle of the _Month's_ July issue is left in doubt; but
there is no doubt whatever about the claim of the pretty creature (who,
accompanied by an extremely plain and dissolute-looking cavalier in the
costume of Charles II.'s time, enters an imaginary ball-room) to a
loveliness that it would be difficult to surpass, as the drawing amply
proves.

This cut is accompanied by some verses which appear to me quite
unreadable; I therefore spare my readers from the infliction of any of
them.

The frontispiece to the _Month_ for August is an etching by Leech of
singular beauty, called "Charade Acting." I have looked in vain through
the letter-press for any explanation of this charade, so I suppose the
meaning is purposely left for discovery to the intelligence of the
observer. It represents the clever performance of Mr. Smiley and Miss
Corgy.

Mr. Smiley evidently represents a valorous knight--else why that
dish-cover shield, that saucepan helmet, that long surcoat of nightshirt
in the place of mail? The knight has armed himself further with sword
and lance (sword of any period, lance a roasting-spit). Those warlike
preparations must have been made in defence of that delicious girl
leaning over the back of the ancient chair. Is she supposed to be a
distressed damsel leaning from her prison-window and listening to Mr.
Smiley's vows of liberating her or dying in the attempt? If so, where is
the word that will express as much? Not in the brain of the stout old
gentleman who is fast asleep amongst the audience, nor in that of the
pretty little girl who sits in front of him apparently wondering why
people should be "so silly." The lady who tries to hide a yawn with her
fan has evidently "given it up," and the two lovely women near her are
much in the same condition.

Now we come to the belle of the month of August, who is riding with her
papa in Kensington Gardens. An attempt was made--later, I think, than
the Exhibition year--to extend Rotten Row into Kensington Gardens, and
thus deprive pedestrians--notably children and nursemaids--of their
promenades amongst the trees. For some months the equestrian habitués of
Rotten Row careered in the Gardens, to the terror and danger of
children, and the disturbance of many groups of soldiers and nursemaids.
This usurpation created very strong opposition.

I lived in the neighbourhood, and I accompanied a deputation to Sir
Cornewall Lewis--then in power--with a view of impressing upon that
Minister the desirability of rescinding the objectionable privilege
which had been granted to the riders. We had some eloquent talkers, but
their oratory seemed to me to make no impression upon Sir C. Lewis, who
may have listened, but during the harangues he was always writing
letters, and no sooner was one finished than he began another; and we
left him without an intimation of our success or failure. But what is
certain is, that within a week of our interview the equestrians
disappeared--I hope for ever--from Kensington Gardens. Leech being a
constant rider, both spoke and drew in favour of the new ride. Drawings
may be found in the _Punch_ series in which he laughs at the opponents
of the horses in the Gardens, and I remember his indignation when I told
him of our deputation and its successful issue.

[Illustration: THE BELLE OF THE MONTH--AUGUST--TAKING A "CONSTITUTIONAL"
IN KENSINGTON GARDENS. TIME, 8 A.M.]

Leech was never happier than in the infinite variety of his pictures
of life at the seaside; his invention was inexhaustible, as numberless
groups of seaside visitors engaged in the search of health or
pleasure--from the small digger on the sands to the valetudinarian at
the Spa--sufficiently prove. Never was he more delightful than in
dealing with the charming lady bathers, one of whom plays the part of
the _Month's_ "Belle of September."

I think this picture might have inspired the poet of the _Month_, but
his lyre is silent.

"The Balcony Nuisance!" Without some explanation the drawing that
follows this title would be perfectly incomprehensible. How, in the name
of common-sense, of propriety, or of justice, can the word "nuisance" be
applicable to the occupants of that balcony? Well, it is in this wise: A
correspondent of the _Month_, who signs himself "Narcissus," lives in a
suburban square, from which he indites a remarkable letter. According to
"Narcissus," suburban squares are famous for the production of vast
numbers of "single ladies." He calls his square a "realm of girldom,"
the proportion of the belles being very great over the marriageable
young men, and therefore they watch with keen eyes for any new
flirtations. "And now," said he, "comes my complaint. I cannot call at
any house where there are daughters but, the instant I knock, every
balcony near me is filled with waves of rustling muslin, and a dozen
pairs of bright eyes are on the _qui vive_ for every movement or
expression. I need not say how annoying this is."

[Illustration: THE BALCONY NUISANCE.]

I see no trace of annoyance in the simpering buck who is the cynosure of
all eyes in the drawing. Leech evidently saw through the affectation of
annoyance, and depicted the Narcissus mind in its real condition of
gratified conceit.

The _Month's_ October issue contains a good deal of Leech's work. The
number contains a "Belle of the Month," but she is so inferior in
attractiveness to her sisters that I am ungallant enough to pass her by.
I find, however, a pretty musical group entitled "Pestal." In 1851 Mr.
Albert Smith says that Pestal, who was a Russian officer, was imprisoned
for marrying without the consent of his Sovereign, and "cast for death."
Of course, though, according to Mr. Smith, this unfortunate man may have
been a "Pestal-ent person," we are not expected to believe the crime for
which he was executed was only that of neglecting to ask the Czar's
consent to his marriage. "On the eve of his execution, as he lay
_ironed_, awaiting the next morning's _mangling_," continues the
inveterate punster, "in a happy moment of enthusiasm, he composed the
waltz that bears his name."

The pretty music seems to have sentimentalized the handsome youth, and
drawn him closer to the performer, who is one of those sweet creatures
with whom the artist has made us so familiar. I cannot refrain from
presenting my readers with an example of the _poetry_ that adorns the
_Month_, so that they may be convinced of the propriety of giving them
as little of it as possible. Forty-one verses, of which the two
following are fair examples, accompany the drawing called Pestal:

  "In London, as usual, last season I spent,
     To Pocklington Square my notes were addressed all,
   And wherever I rambled or wandered or went,
     I was pestered with that horrid pest of a 'Pestal.'

  "I thought this mysterious, moreover, and queer,
     'Tis better at once that the truth be confest all--
   That all through the city one word should appear,
     And that word the incomprehensible 'Pestal.'"

"The Great Dinner-Bell Nuisance" not only gives occasion for a capital
drawing by Leech, but the title also heads a capital paper, in which the
absurdity of the function, when there is not the least necessity for it,
is well satirized. A retired lawyer named Watkins Brown lives in a
village which contains at most 347 people, "in a comfortable sort of
house in the Italian style, which he christened Somerford Villa." He has
no children, and his establishment consists of five persons, Mrs. W. B.,
Betsy, the cook, etc., including Buttons, the page. This boy, armed with
a bell, is a nuisance to the neighbourhood; he performs upon it three
times a day. "Now," says the indignant writer, "why does Buttons do
this? Is it to echo back the sound that comes at the same hours from Sir
Marmaduke Hamilton's, of Somerford Hall, and to impress people that
Brown and Sir Marmaduke are the only gentlemen in the neighbourhood? It
can't be to let Brown and his wife know that luncheon or dinner is
ready, for in nine cases out of ten they are in the room when the cloth
is laid. Again I ask, why does Buttons do this? If he is of opinion that
his master is unaware it is time to dress for dinner, why doesn't he
tell him so at once when he is in the room, instead of using such an
absurd system of information? However, by six o'clock Brown and his wife
are in the drawing-room, and Buttons seeing them there, and perceiving
that they are just about to go to the dining-room, rushes out to the
little court-yard, and then to the door of the miniature conservatory,
and again commits the offence he had committed half an hour before. In
the baby courtyard there are two dogs chained, and two other sporting
dogs in a model of a kennel. Well, Buttons appears in the presence of
the dogs with his great bell, and the sensible brutes, conscious of the
pain they are about to endure, immediately set up a howl of quadruple
agony, to which the bell tolls its awful accompaniment."

Exactly fifty years ago I went on a portrait-painting tour into the
country. Some sitters were promised to me, and I had hope, subsequently
justified, that they would be the precursors of others. Amongst my
patrons was a clergyman of aristocratic lineage; who, though he had
inherited little in the shape of money, was possessed of certain tastes
common to the upper ten, in which he could not afford to indulge; but
amongst them was the dinner-bell, in which he did indulge, to the great
annoyance of his neighbours. The Vicarage was an unpretending house with
a small garden about it, in a small village; the inhabitants were
chiefly Methodists, and the congregation at church was the smallest I
ever saw.

The Vicar was not popular; the villagers disliked what they called "his
airs and graces," and they detested his dinner-bell. After sittings from
the Vicar, he and I took occasional walks together, and one day, as we
were passing a cobbler's shop, the proprietor of it, "a detestable
little Radical Methodist," as the Vicar called him, appeared at his door
with a huge bell in his hand; he stepped into the middle of the road,
and, affecting not to see us, he rang it furiously.

"Man! man!" cried the Vicar, "stop that! What are you making that
dreadful noise for?"

"Well, ye see," replied the cobbler, in the language of the county,
"it's ma dinner-time, and aase joust ringin' mysen in, to a bit of berry
pudden."

I was so vividly reminded by the _Month's_ "Dinner-Bell Nuisance" of my
early experience, that I could not resist my inclination to introduce it
into what purports to be the life of John Leech, in which it has no
business whatever to appear. Once more I apologize, and hope I may not
be tempted to "do it again."

Of all the Belles of the Month, the belle of the month November is
perhaps the most lovable. There she stands on Brighton Pier--stands,
that is to say, as well as she can on those pretty feet of hers, against
a wind that is so boisterously rude to her and to her mother, whose
figure, blown out of shape, makes a striking contrast to her daughter's.
The little dog declines to face the gale, which seems likely to carry
him away altogether, as well as the struggling child behind. The touches
of cloud and sea, together with the screaming gulls, are indicated with
the facile skill peculiar to Leech.

[Illustration: THE BELLE OF THE MONTH NOVEMBER "IN DISTRESS OFF A
LEE-SHORE--BRIGHTON PIER."]

In a paper headed "Hotels," Mr. Smith expatiates somewhat tediously on
the "old-established house" of the "old coaching days." He says "the
inmates of the coffee-room were mostly commercial travellers." Those
gentlemen may have been permitted to use the coffee-room; but my
recollection of such places tells me that the commercials always had a
room of their own, specially provided for them.

The writer goes on to tell us that "the commercial gents," on the
occasion of his discovery of them in the coffee-room, "pulled off their
boots--not a very delicate performance--before everybody; and then,
after sitting over the fire, and drinking hot brown brandy and water
until they were nearly at red heat, ordered 'a pan of coals,' and went
to bed."

Yes; and provided an excellent subject for Leech, worthy of being
reproduced here, or anywhere, if only for that inimitable old
chambermaid, who has lighted commercial gents to bed any time these
forty years.

Judging from the twist of the commercial's necktie as he follows, or
rather staggers, after the ancient maid, the brown brandy has done its
work; and it is ten to one against his carrying that box of patterns
safely upstairs.

One boot is successfully removed from commercial number two, and it
will evidently not be the fault of the man who is struggling with the
other if it does not follow suit.

Let the observer note the marked difference in character in all these
figures, as well as the skill and truth with which the details in the
room are rendered.

In 1851 Bloomerism was in full bloom, or rather the attempts of few
foolish people to make it prevail amongst us were so persistent as to
bring upon them attacks by pen and pencil.

As I have already drawn attention to the craze, and to some examples of
the way Leech dealt with it, I should have made no further allusion to
the subject had I not found in the pages of the _Month_ drawings of such
charm that, in justice to the magazine and my readers, I felt I must
notice them.

First, then, we have a Bloomer whip "tooling" her friends down to the
races. If Bloomerism prevailed, this is the sight that Epsom might have
seen in the year 1851, to say nothing of equestrian bloomers of whose
horsewomanship Leech shows us examples.

I think in my last selection from the _Month_ I might claim for myself
a position resembling that of the pyrotechnic artist whose display of
fireworks culminates in a glorious blaze in the last scene of his
entertainment, if I were permitted to introduce it.

My firework takes the form of a bouquet of young ladies at some
"ancestral home" in the country, who have just received a box of books
from London--perhaps from Mudie. What a bevy of beauties!--two of them
already absorbed in the last new novel, while another makes off with an
armful of treasures.

When I say that this drawing--whether we regard it as a composition of
figures and of light and shade, or as an example of Leech's supreme
power over grace of action and beauty--is worthy of admiration for
itself, and of our gratitude to the _Month_ for the opportunity of
reproducing it, I fear no contradiction.



CHAPTER XII.

MR. ADAMS AND LEECH.


In the pursuit of material for this memoir, I have had the good fortune
to make the acquaintance of one of Leech's earliest and most constant
friends, Mr. Charles F. Adams, of Barkway, Hertfordshire. This gentleman
is the beau-idéal of a country squire--handsome, hale and hearty, though
far past middle age.

The letters I am privileged to publish show the terms on which the
friends lived, and prove beyond a doubt that many of the hunting scenes
which sparkle so brilliantly and so frequently in the pages of "Life and
Character" owe their origin to the opportunities afforded to the artist
by his friend.

This long-continued intimacy commenced when the men were both young;
and the very first development of Leech's taste for horses began with
his acquaintance with Mr. Adams. It is told of that gentleman that,
being the possessor of two horses, and being at that early time employed
in business in London during the day, the night served him and Leech for
a wild career, Adams driving his horses tandem-fashion far into the
country, rousing sleepy toll-keepers and terrifying belated wayfarers,
while Leech's watchful eye noted incidents for future illustration.

That Leech could sing, and sing well, I know, for I have often heard him
troll forth in a deep voice his favourite song of "King Death"; but that
he had ever performed in public I was unaware till enlightened by Mr.
Adams, who told me that it was a favourite and not infrequent prank of
these two spirits to disguise themselves in imitation of
street-musicians, and, with the assistance of a young fellow named
Milburn, as wild as themselves, descend upon the London streets, and by
singing glees make "a lot of money."

"Leech used to go round with the hat," said Adams; "but we never could
make the fellow look common enough. Still, he collected a good deal,
though he failed on one occasion; for, on presenting his hat to a
bystander, who had been an attentive listener, the man claimed exemption
as being in 'the profession,' in proof of which he produced a fiddle
from behind him."

Barkway is in the heart of a hunting country, and the meets of the
"Puckeridge" frequently took place near Mr. Adams' house, or at an easy
distance from it. The house itself--a large mass of red brick, ivy,
gables, and twisted chimneys--is one of those old places which have been
enlarged to suit modern convenience without any sacrifice of the
original design and quaint character.

"Ah," said my host, as he showed me into his dining-room, "what happy
times we have had in this room, when Leech, Millais, Lemon--editor of
_Punch_, you know, long ago--Tenniel, and others, found themselves round
that table!"

The following letters, with their too few characteristic sketches, prove
the affectionate intimacy between Leech and his friend.

  "TO CHARLES F. ADAMS, ESQ.

  "August 9, 1847.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"You will be glad to hear that I have got a little daughter, and that
both mother and child are doing well. Mrs. Leech was taken ill,
unfortunately, at the end of our trip to Liverpool--where, as perhaps
you are aware, Dickens and some of us had been acting for Leigh Hunt's
benefit--and she was confined at the Victoria Hotel, Euston Square,
where she is now. I thought you would like to hear the news, so send off
these few lines. Give my kindest regards to Mrs. Adams, and believe me,
old boy,

  "Yours faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH."


In a letter written to Mr. Adams a week later, Leech recommends a young
gentleman to the care of his friend, in the hope that if Mr. Adams has
"the opportunity, he will give the applicant something to do in his
profession." The letter closes by this announcement:

"You will be glad to hear, I am sure, that Mrs. Leech, _and my
daughter_! are both 'going on' famously.

  "Ever, my dear Charley,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

"Given up hunting? Not a bit of it."


  "January --, 1847.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"Mark (Lemon) and I were talking only the other day about beating up
your quarters towards the end of this month; and, with your permission,
if the frost goes, we intend to do so. We thought of riding down--I on
the old mare; and he on a 'seven-and-sixpenny.'...

"Is there anything in the shape of a good cob that could hunt if wanted
down in your parts? Possibly I could get rid of the mare in the way of a
chop. I have been riding a nearly thoroughbred mare for the last week on
trial. A very nice thing, but too much in this way.

"I want something more of this kind--a good one to go, and pleasant to
ride.

  "Yours ever faithfully,
    "J. L."


  "April 17, 1848.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

".... Old Mark and I were special constables on Monday last. You would
have laughed to see us on duty, trying the area gates, etc., Mark
continually finding excuses for taking a small glass of ale or brandy
and water. Policeman's duty is no joke. I had to patrol about from ten
at night till one in the morning, and heartily sick of it I was. It was
only my loyalty and extreme love of peace and order that made me stand
it....

  "Ever yours faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH."


My elderly readers will bear in mind April 10, 1848, and the monster
petition of the Chartists, which they were not allowed to present to
Parliament in the threatening form they had arranged, with other
alarming signs of that troubled time--the flight of Louis Philippe,
Continental thrones tottering, and the rest of it.

In his correspondence with Mr. Adams, Leech constantly reminds his
friend of his objection to high-spirited horses. Under date February 18,
1849, he asks Mr. Adams if he can hire "an 'unter from Ware."


"I should prefer," he adds, "something like the old brown horse Mark
had last year. If he comes, of course he must have the same nag he had
when he was at Barkway; _but, mind_, I won't have a beast that pulls, or
bolts, or any nonsense of the kind. I come out for pleasure, and not to
be worried. Tell Mrs. Adams I shall not be half such an objectionable
visitor as I have been heretofore, seeing that I have left off
SMOKING!...

"My very kind regards to Mrs. Adams, your little ones, and my good
friends in your neighbourhood.

  "Believe me, old fellow,
    "Yours ever faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH."


  "February 7, 1850.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"I am longing to see you, and have a ride across country with you. Do
you think I could have the horse Mark Lemon had when he was down at
Barkway? Or if I couldn't have that one, do you know of any other that
would be equally TEMPERATE and WELL-BEHAVED? I have no horse at present.
The last I had came down; and I am rather particular in consequence.

"Give me a line, old fellow, and let me know when the hounds meet near
you....

  "Yours faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH."


One of Mr. Adams' daughters, Charlotte, surnamed Chatty--then a small
child, now a lady whose age is borne so well as to make it difficult to
believe that she lived so long ago as 1850--whose acquaintance I had the
pleasure of making the other day, told me of her frequent visits to the
Leeches, and of the never-ceasing care and tenderness of Leech.

In a letter from Broadstairs, written in the autumn of 1850 to Mr.
Adams, Leech says:

"You will be glad to hear that Chatty is as well as possible, and is now
going to have a long day's work (!) on the sands."

Again, after a good deal of horsy talk:

"Mrs. Leech and Chatty with her will return for good to Notting Hill on
Saturday, when we shall be glad to have her with us as long as you can
spare her. Apropos of dear Chatty, I am sure her mamma will be glad to
hear that she has been uninterruptedly cheerful and well, and has
certainly proved herself one of the best-tempered, best-hearted little
creatures possible. She desires me to send you all her best love and
kisses....

  "Ever faithfully,
    "J. L."


  "31, Notting Hill Terrace,
  "February 18, 1852.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"It will give me the greatest pleasure to come and see you. Mark (Lemon)
says he will accompany me at the end of this month. Will that suit Mrs.
Adams? I want much to SEE some hunting, as I want some materials for the
work I am illustrating--indeed, I was going to propose a run down to you
myself. Will you let us know when the hounds meet near you? Is the horse
I had before still alive, I wonder? or could you, if I came, get me a
horse 'in every way suitable for a timid, elderly gentleman'?

       *       *       *       *       *

"I was very glad to hear from you, old boy. In great haste, but with our
united best regards to Mrs. Adams and yourself.

  "Believe me,
    "Ever yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ."


  "_Punch_ Office, 85, Fleet Street,
  "Saturday, February 28, 1852.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"'The change in the administration' so upset our arrangements that I
could not settle what day to come down to you. I propose now to come
down to-morrow (Sunday) evening, so if you can get me a rocking-horse,
or a clothes-horse, or any horse excessively quiet and accommodating, I
will go out with you on Monday. Mark, having an appointment early on
Monday with 'her Majesty,' or somebody, will come on Tuesday, to hunt on
Wednesday, and back again on Thursday morning. All this, of course, if
it suits your convenience. At any rate, I will come to-morrow, and then
if there is any difficulty, we can send up to town. With kindest regards
to Mrs. Adams,

  "Believe me always,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH."


  "31, Notting Hill Terrace,
  "Wednesday, March 17, 1852.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"I had almost made up my mind to come down on Friday evening to hunt on
Saturday; but it would suit me infinitely better to come at the end of
the week following, as I am just now in the agonies of my periodical
work; so let me know when the meets are, and in the meantime I will peg
away and get my business done so as to have a comfortable day with you.
If I came on Friday, I should have to work day and night before I went,
and come back directly to work day and night again, which is not a
pleasant state of things; I hope, therefore, that we shall be able to
see the hounds next week. I don't think Lemon would be able to come, as
he is busy moving; but I will ask him. I will make you the sketch of the
house, or of anything else you like, when I come.

  "Believe me,
    "Ever yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ.

"Look in this week's _Punch_ for a sketch on the Royston Hills."


  "31, Notting Hill Terrace,
  "Wednesday, July 7, 1852.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"I congratulate both of you most heartily and cordially. Mrs. Adams I
hope is well, and will keep so, I trust. I will take upon myself to say
that I don't know any man more thoroughly capable of understanding and
enjoying domestic happiness than yourself; and, moreover, I don't know
any man who more thoroughly deserves to have it. You wish it had been a
boy, do you? Well, never mind; the son and heir will make his appearance
in good time, I dare say. For my part, my unhappy experience makes me
love little girls.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Pray give my kindest regards to Mrs. Adams, and my love to Chatty, who
is to kiss the baby for me, and

  "Believe me, my dear Charley,
    "Always yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ."


  "Barlow, Derbyshire,
  "July 31, 1852.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"You will see from the above address that I am still rusticating. I
expect to be in rooms soon after the 12th of August, and then, after I
have done my month's work, I am your man. You say where ... Don't make
yourself uncomfortable about the quantity of sport; I shall be quite
satisfied with what you offer me....

  "Yours always faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH."

Here follows an admirable sketch of Mr. Adams waking up Leech with,
"Now, Jack, my boy! There's no time to lose; we've ten miles to go to
cover."


[Illustration: "Now, Jack, my boy! There's no time to lose. We've ten
miles to go to cover!"]

  "Tuesday, December 14, 1852.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY BOY,

"Hip! hip! hurrah! The almanack is finished, and now for a day with the
Puckeridge.

"I shall come down if you will take me in on Friday evening, to hunt on
Saturday and Monday, I hope. Mark talked of coming. I wish he would. He
says he should not ride, but that's all nonsense. Do you think Pattison
has got a horse that would carry him? Oh, I have had a rare benefit of
work! I have been positively at it ever since I saw you. I want
freshening up, I assure you.... Lots of fresh work, old fellow, so I
think I may manage a _real_ horse soon.

       *       *       *       *       *

  "With kindest regards.
    "Ever faithfully yours,
      "JOHN LEECH."


  "Notting Hill Terrace,
  "January 26, 1853.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"If you could ride my horse to-morrow (Thursday), pray do; it would save
your own, and do her good. And the meet is close to you--Langley Green.
I should have written before, but I have been harassed with work beyond
measure. And as it is, the first number of 'Handley Cross' cannot come
out until March. Mind you have the mare well worked, there's a good
fellow, as I don't want, like our friend Briggs, to find her
disagreeably fresh.

       *       *       *       *       *

  "Believe me always yours faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ."


  "Saturday, February 26, 1853.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"I suppose the frost has departed in the country, and that you have now
what is called 'open weather.' It is very disagreeable here--wet, cold,
and boisterous.

"However, if you can spare time (after riding your own, of course), I
wish you would give the mare a benefit. I expect she will otherwise be a
great deal too much for me.

       *       *       *       *       *

  "I am, my dear Charley,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ."


  "32, Brunswick Square,
  "Saturday, January 21, 1854.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"Thank you for your note. I _can't_ come down to-morrow, but I hope
after next week to make up for lost time. I have got through some work
that has been fidgeting me. I shall have a little more leisure. The meet
on Monday is Dassett's, I see, so pray give it the mare; I have been so
queer myself that I shall want her particularly 'tranquil.' I have
sacrificed the moustaches for fear of frightening the horses in the
field. They were getting too tremendous.

"_If_, _if_ I can get away next week at all, depend upon it I will, for
I want fresh air and a little horse exercise.

"With kindest regards, old fellow,

  "Believe me always yours faithfully,
    "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ."


  "Saturday, December 22, 1855.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"How is the country? I suppose no hunting as yet, for I have not
received any card. The weather here to-day is mild and wet. I am working
away in the hope of getting a day or two by-and-by comfortably. In the
meantime, if there is anything going on, give my horse a turn across
country, that's a good fellow.

"With kindest regards, believe me,

  "Yours faithfully,
    "J. L.

"If you can't spare time to hunt the mare, would it not be a good thing
to send her to Patmore, and make him ride her? But do you attend to her
if you can manage it."


  "8, St. Nicholas Cliff, Scarbro',
  "August 30, 1858.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"Your note was forwarded here, and I only found it on my return from
Ireland, where I have been for the last three weeks. The consequence is
that I am, of course, in rather a muddle with my work, and I am afraid I
must forego the pleasure of shooting with you--at any rate, for the
early part of the season; so pray do not deprive other friends of sport
on my account. I shall hope to have a day or two with you before the
season is over. I am not a very greedy sportsman, you know, and as long
as I get a good walk am pretty well satisfied. I am sorry you have been
so unwell--you should really give yourself a holiday. The bow should be
unstrung sometimes. I know I find it must. I wish you could have seen me
catch a _salmon_ in Ireland--a regular salmon! When I say catch, I
should say hook, rather, for he was too much for me, and after ten
minutes' struggle he bolted with my tackle. It was really a tremendous
sensation....

  "Believe me always,
    "Yours faithfully,
      "JOHN LEECH.

  "C. F. ADAMS, ESQ."


  "White Horse, Baldock,
  "Friday evening, ----, 1858.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

       *       *       *       *       *

"For the present I have arranged with Little to make this place my
headquarters, it is so handy to the train, and I can come so much
quicker and later to Hitchin. The slow railway journeys take it out of
me, so that my pleasure is almost destroyed by the fatigue of travelling
and bother to get off. I hope, nevertheless, that we shall have many
evenings together to talk over the _tremendous runs_ that we hope to
have. I have bought a horse and brought it down here. I hope you will be
out to-morrow to see it. I like it very much; it is a most excellent
hackney, and sufficiently good-looking, although not perfect, I suppose;
and it is represented to me as being a temperate hunter in addition to
his other qualities. Well, we shall see. The black mare I shall send to
Tattersall's next week. She was as fresh as could be last Saturday, and
I was quite glad I had not sold her; but, alas! she was as lame in the
afternoon as possible, and next morning was a pretty spectacle! She
would not do at all. So much for horseflesh.

  "With kindest regards,
    "Yours always,
      "J. L."


  "32, Brunswick Square, W.C.,
  "November 20, 1862.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"If you _ever_ have the time--which I never have--I should feel so glad
if you would go some day and see how the 'party' at Kensington has done
his work. I suppose 'that little form' of paying the bill must very soon
be gone through, and I should like to know from a competent authority
that the work has been well and properly done.

"How about the hunting? I am continually tormented here by noble
sportsmen going by my window in full fig.

  "Yours always,
    "J. L."


  "6, The Terrace, Kensington,
  "November 27, 1862.

  "MY DEAR CHARLEY,

"I am obliged to go to St. Leonards to-night, but I should be very glad
if you would to-morrow, Friday (as you propose), look at my new house.
In the corner of one of the new rooms I see it looks a little damp,
although they considered it dry before they papered. I must say I am
pleased with the new residence, and I think by degrees I shall be able
to make it pretty comfortable. We shall hardly get in here, I expect,
much before Christmas. There is yet so much to do. I shall be very glad
of any hints about improvements that may occur to you.

  "Kind regards, and believe me,
    "Always yours,
      "J. L."

There is amongst the pictures of "Life and Character" a drawing of a
sportsman who has been thrown from his horse. He has fallen upon his
head, and as he raises it, stunned and bewildered, and but half
conscious, the sensations that must have possessed him are realized for
us in a manner so marvellous, so wonderful in its originality and truth,
as to convince one that the accident must have happened to the man who
drew the picture; and this was the case, for the fallen man was Leech
himself, says Mr. Adams, who in charging a fence was thrown, his horse
falling at the same time. If I had been told that the sensations
inevitable under the circumstances were required to be reproduced by
pencil and paper, I should have said such a feat was beyond the reach of
art; but there they are! As the prostrate man looks up, he sees sparks
of fire, horse's head, legs, hoofs mingled together in a whirl of
confusion round his prostrate figure.

[Illustration]

No doubt the work he undertook for _Bell's Life in London_, a
long-established and long-discontinued paper, in which sport of all
kinds was the most prominent feature--and which occupied much of Leech's
time in his youthful days--contributed to the creation of a taste and
love for field sports that always distinguished him. Quite a band of
comic artists, including Cruikshank, Kenny Meadows, "Phiz," Seymour, and
Leech, contributed sketches illustrative of a variety of subjects by a
variety of authors; Leech's work being easily distinguishable from that
of his brethren of the pencil.



CHAPTER XIII.

"COMIC GRAMMAR" AND "COMIC HISTORY."


The friendship, begun in their student-days at St. Bartholomew's,
between Leech and Percival Leigh flourished in renewed strength by the
discovery of similarity of taste--Leigh unable to draw, but possessing a
truly humorous pen; so the friends "laid their heads together," the
result being the production of the "Comic Latin Grammar," letter-press
by Leigh, illustrations by Leech. The first intention of the authors was
that this should be a mere skit, a trifling brochure, consisting of a
few pages; but, as so often happens, the work grew under their hands,
and when published in 1840 it had assumed somewhat formidable
proportions, and was followed by a work of similar character, with the
title of "The Comic English Grammar."

The "Comic English Grammar" was a work full of pleasant humour,
charmingly illustrated by Leech "with upwards of fifty characteristic
woodcuts." It is curious to observe in these drawings the contrast that
they afford to the artist's later and more perfect work. There is a
timidity, and what we call a hardness, from which the sketches in
"Pictures of Life and Character" are entirely free; the general drawing,
too, is faulty, but the humour and character are all there.

[Illustration]

The first illustration, given above, is from a ballad called "Billy
Taylor," popular in my young days, in which Billy's true love--with the
reluctance to part from him common to persons suffering from that
passion--disguises herself as a man before the mast, and shares the
dangers of the sea with her sailor-lover:

  "Ven as the Captain comed for to hear on't,
   Wery much applauded vot she'd done."

[Illustration]

The verb "applauded" has here no nominative case, whereas it ought to
have been governed by the pronoun "he." "He very much applauded," etc.,
says the writer of the "Comic Grammar" for our instruction. The second
example, given above, seems to me capital fooling, and an excellent
proof of the necessity for care in punctuation and accent.

"Imagine," says the writer, "an actor commencing Hamlet's famous
soliloquy thus:

  "'To be or not to be; that is. The question,' etc.

Or saying, in the person of Duncan in 'Macbeth':

  "'This castle hath a pleasant seat, the air.'

Or, as the usurper himself, exclaiming:

  "'The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
    Where got's thou that goose? Look!'"

Here we have the fault of _hardness_ that I speak of, and something of
feeble drawing, but the humour is perfect.

After the publication of the "Comic Grammar," written by Gilbert à
Beckett, one of the _Punch_ staff, a somewhat similar experiment upon
the public and on a larger scale was tried by the same author in the
issue of a "Comic History of England." This venture was warmly opposed
at its inception by Jerrold, whose wrath at the idea of burlesquing
historical personages was expressed with vehemence. Gilbert à Beckett
persisted, however, and the history appeared, with over three hundred
illustrations on wood and steel by John Leech. The book is, as might be
expected, very light reading, containing many puns and much play upon
words. Leech's work seems to me to be slight, hurried, and even
careless, compared with that of his later time; but the spirit of
rollicking fun with which grave historical incidents are treated, and
the humorous satire that the principal personages receive at the hands
of the illustrator, make the "Comic History of England" amusing enough.
The following extract, with the drawing that illustrates it, will show
the truth of my estimate of both.

"A story is told of a certain Fair Rosamond, and, though there is no
doubt of its being a story from beginning to end, it is impossible to
pass it over in English history. Henry, it was alleged, was enamoured of
a certain Miss Clifford--if she can be called a certain Miss Clifford,
when she was really a very doubtful character. She was the daughter of a
baron on the banks of the Wye, when, without a why or a wherefore, the
King took her away, and transplanted the Flower of Hereford, as she well
deserved to be called, to the Bower of Woodstock. In this bower he
constructed a labyrinth something like the Maze at Rosherville, and as
there was no man stationed on an elevation in the centre to direct the
sovereign which way to go, nor exclaim, 'Right, if you please!'
'Straight on!' 'You're right now, sir!' 'Left!' 'Right again!' etc.,
etc., his Majesty had adopted the plan of dragging one of Rosamond's
reels of silk along with him when he left the spot, so that it formed a
guide for him on his way back again. This tale of silk is indeed a most
precious piece of entanglement, but it was perhaps necessary for the
winding up of the story. While we cannot receive it as part of the
thread of history, we accept it as a means of accounting for Eleanor's
having got a clue to the retreat of Rosamond.

"The Queen, hearing of the silk, resolved naturally enough to unravel
it. She accordingly started for Woodstock one afternoon, and, suspecting
something wrong, took a large bowl of poison in one hand and a stout
dagger in the other. Having found Fair Rosamond, she held the poniard to
the heart and the bowl to the lips of that unfortunate young person,
who, it is said, preferred the black draught to the steel medicine."

Later on in the history we have another good example of Leech's humour.
King Edward, having subdued the Welsh, "endeavoured to propitiate his
newly acquired subjects by becoming a resident in the conquered country.
His wife Eleanor gave birth to a son in the castle of Caernarvon, and he
availed himself of the circumstance to introduce the infant as a native
production, giving him the title of Prince of Wales, which has ever
since been held by the eldest son of the British sovereign."

[Illustration: QUEEN ELEANOR AND FAIR ROSAMOND.]

[Illustration: KING EDWARD INTRODUCING HIS SON AS PRINCE OF WALES TO HIS
NEWLY-ACQUIRED SUBJECTS.]

A well-known historical scene is parodied as follows: Henry IV. being
ill, "the Prince of Wales was sitting up with him in the temporary
capacity of nurse," says Mr. à Becket. "The son, however, seemed rather
to be waiting for his father's death than hoping for the prolongation of
his life; and the King having gone off in a fit, the Prince, instead of
calling for assistance or giving any aid himself, heartlessly took that
opportunity to see how he should look in the crown, which always hung on
a peg in the royal bedchamber. Young Henry was figuring away before a
cheval glass with the regal bauble on his head, and was exclaiming,
'Just the thing, upon my honour!' when the elder Henry, happening to
recover, sat up in bed and saw the conduct of his offspring.

[Illustration: UNSEEMLY CONDUCT OF HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES.]

[Illustration: THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER GOES INTO MOURNING FOR HIS LITTLE
NEPHEWS.]

"'Hallo!' cried the King, 'who gave you leave to put that on? I think
you might have left it alone till I've done with it.'"

The savage and hypocritical character of Richard III. afforded Leech an
opportunity for satire in his design of that monarch, when still Duke of
Gloucester, in the shape of a crocodile shedding tears for the death of
the two Princes in the Tower.

"Richard," says the chronicler, "by whom the outward decencies of life
were very scrupulously observed, in order to make up for the inner
deficiencies of his mind, determined to go into mourning for the young
Princes, and repaired to the same _maison de deuil_ which he had
honoured with his presence on a former occasion when requiring the
'trappings of woe' for himself and his retainers on the death of his
dear brother."

With the escape of Mary, Queen of Scots, I must close the extracts from
the "Comic History of England."

"When the Queen was imprisoned at Lochleven, a certain George Douglas,"
says the historian, "with the sentimentality peculiar to seventeen, fell
sheepishly in love with the handsome Mary. She gave some encouragement
to the gawky youth, but rather with a view of getting him to aid her in
her escape than out of any regard to the over-sensitive stripling. Going
to his brother's bedroom in the night, the boy took the keys from the
basket in which they were deposited, and, letting Mary out, he handed
her to a skiff and took her for a row, without thinking of the row his
conduct was leading to."

[Illustration: MARY'S ELOPEMENT.]

A considerable interval of time elapsed between the publication of à
Beckett's "Comic English Grammar" and the same writer's "Comic History
of England," the former being produced in 1840, and the latter seven
years afterwards; but as there is little or no appreciable difference
between the two works, either as regards the literary or artistic merit,
I have thought it well to introduce them in this place.

These efforts show but one side of Leech's many-sided power. It was in
"The Children of the _Mo_bility," a satire on a production just then
published, in which the children of the _no_bility were put before the
world in all the splendour of their aristocratic surroundings, that
Leech's genius had full play, the little Duke affording an instructive
contrast to the street arab, and the shivering, half-naked beggar-girl
becoming infinitely pathetic in her rags. This work was executed in
lithography, consisting of seven prints; and though, as works of art,
they bear no comparison to the wood-drawings of a later time--they are
not even so good as the "Fly-Leaves" published at the _Punch_ Office
later on--still, comparatively imperfectly as they are rendered, they
show the artist's intense sympathy with suffering childhood, as well as
enjoyment in the games and "larks" by which the sufferings are for a
time at least forgotten.

I now approach the period when the establishment of a comic newspaper
was destined to afford Leech opportunities for the display of his
powers, opportunities of which he availed himself with a prodigality
almost as marvellous as the powers.


  END OF VOL. I.


  BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.

  _J. D. & Co._





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Leech, His Life and Work. Vol. 1" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home