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Title: Randolph Caldecott - A Personal Memoir of His Early Art Career
Author: Blackburn, Henry, 1830-1897
Language: English
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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 "Randolph Caldecott - A Personal Memoir of His Early Art Career" ***

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_Born 1846; Died 1886._]


A Personal Memoir













In Affectionate Remembrance.



The object of this memoir is to give some information as to the early
work of Randolph Caldecott, an artist who is known to the world chiefly
by his _Picture Books_.

The extracts from letters have a personal charm apart from any literary
merit. The majority of the letters, and the sketches which accompanied
them, were sent to the author's family; others have been kindly lent
for this memoir by Mr. William Clough, Mr. Locker-Lampson, Mr.
Whittenbury, and other friends. Acknowledgments are also due to the
publishers who have lent engravings.

At the desire of Mr. Caldecott's representatives,--to whom the author
is indebted for extracts from diaries and other material--the
consideration of his later work is reserved for a future time.

Although the text of this book is little more than a setting for the
illustrations, it is hoped that the material collected may be found

                                        H. B.

        _September 1886_.



CHAP. I.--HIS EARLY ART CAREER                             1

II.--DRAWING FOR "LONDON SOCIETY"                         13

III.--IN LONDON, THE HARZ MOUNTAINS, ETC.                 29

IV.--DRAWING FOR "THE DAILY GRAPHIC"                      51

V.--DRAWING FOR "THE PICTORIAL WORLD"                     67

VI.--AT FARNHAM ROYAL, BUCKS                              90

VII.--"OLD CHRISTMAS"                                    100

VIII.--LETTERS, DIAGRAMS, ETC.                           117


X.--ON THE RIVIERA                                       148

XI.--"BRETON FOLK," ETC.                                 165

XII.--AT MENTONE, ETC.                                   190

XIII.--CONCLUSION                                        203

APPENDIX                                                 211


_The unpublished illustrations are marked with an asterisk_ *


 PORTRAIT                                      _Frontispiece_

*DECORATIVE DESIGN BY R. CALDECOTT                       vii

*TAILPIECE                                               xvi

*AIR--"I KNOW A BANK"                                      1

*FIRST CLERK--SECOND DO.                                   2

*COOM, THEN                                                3

*THREE FRIENDS                                             4

*GOING TO THE DOGS                                         5

*A SKETCH IN COURT                                         7

*FULL CRY                                                  8

*IN THE HUNTING FIELD                                      9

*STREET SKETCH--POLICEMAN, ETC.                           10

*SOCIETY IN MANCHESTER                                    11

*A NEW CONTRIBUTOR (_London Society_)                     13

 EDUCATION UNDER DIFFICULTIES                             14

 YE MONTHE OF APRILE                                      15

 SKETCH IN HYDE PARK                                      16

 THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER                          17

*THE TROMBONE                                             18

 THE TWO TROMBONES                                        19

 CHRISTMAS DAY, 4.30 A.M.                                 20

 CLINCHING AN ARGUMENT                                    21

 SNOWBALLS                                                22

 HEIGH-HO, THE HOLLY!                                     23

 GOING TO COVER                                           25

 HYDE PARK--OUT OF THE SEASON                             26


*THE END OF ALL THINGS                                    28

*SKETCH ON A POST CARD                                    29

 FIRST DRAWING IN "PUNCH," 22ND JUNE, 1872                31

*A COOL SEQUESTERED SPOT                                  32

 A TOUR IN THE TOY COUNTRY (_Harz Mountains_)             33

 A MOUNTAIN BEER GARDEN                                   34

 A FRAULEIN                                               35

 A MOUNTAIN PATH                                          35


 THE ARK OF REFUGE                                        37

*THE DANCE OF WITCHES                                     38

 SPECTRES OF THE BROCKEN                                  39

 A SKETCH AT SUPPER                                       40

 BACK TO THE VIEW                                         40

 THE GUIDE AT GOSLAR                                      41

 PROCESSION OF THE SICK                                   42

 DRINKING THE WATERS AT GOSLAR                            43

 A GENERAL IN THE PRUSSIAN ARMY                           44

*A SCHOOL ON THE MARCH--HARZ MOUNTAINS, 1872              45

 SKETCH--HARZ MOUNTAINS, 1872                             46

 SKETCH--HARZ MOUNTAINS, 1872                             48

 AT CLAUSTHAL                                             49

*SKETCH                                                   50

 SKETCH IN "PUNCH," 8TH MARCH, 1873                       51

 A CHECK                                                  53

 SKETCH (Published in _Pall Mall Gazette_)                55

 LOOKING OUT FOR THE "GRAPHIC" BALLOON                    57

 OFF TO THE EXHIBITION--VIENNA, 1873                      59

*A VIENNESE DOG                                           60

 SKETCH (Published in _Pall Mall Gazette_)                62

*EARLY DECORATIVE DESIGN                                  64

 THIS IS NOT A FIRST-CLASS COW                            66


 THE POLLING BOOTH (_Pictorial World_)                    70

*HOME RULE--MARCH 1874                                    71

 ON THE STUMP                                             72


 PAIRING TIME                                             74

 COURSING                                                 75

 HER FIRST VALENTINE                                      76

 A VALENTINE                                              76

 SOMEBODY'S COMING!                                       77

 I WONDER WHO SENT ME THESE FLOWERS                       78

 THE YOUNG HAMLET                                         79


 THE SPEAKER GOING UP TO THE LORDS                        81

 AT THE BAR OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS                         82

 THE NEW PRIME MINISTER                                   83

 THE TICHBORNE TRIAL--BREAKING-UP DAY                     84

 THE MORNING WALK                                         86


*THE COTTAGE, FARNHAM ROYAL                               90


*BRINGING HOME THE SULTANAS                               92

*THE PADDOCK, FARNHAM ROYAL                               93

*STUDYING FROM NATURE                                     95

 SKETCH (Published in _Pall Mall Gazette_)                96

 SKETCH (Published in _Pall Mall Gazette_)                97

*DRAWING FROM FAMILIAR OBJECTS                            98

*COULD NOT DRAW A LADY!                                   99

 HEADPIECE (_Old Christmas_)                             100

 THE STAGE COACHMAN                                      103

 IN THE STABLE YARD                                      104

 THE TROUBADOUR                                          106

 THE FAIR JULIA                                          107

 MASTER SIMON AND HIS DOGS                               109

 ON THE ROAD SIDE, BRITTANY                              111

*AT GUINGAMP, BRITTANY                                   113

*TO M. H.--CHRISTMAS, 1874                               114

*FACSIMILE OF LETTER                                     116

*ST. VALENTINE'S DAY                                     117

*AT FARNHAM ROYAL                                        118

*SUNRISE                                                 119

*DIAGRAM. STUDY IN LINE                                  120

*DIAGRAM. STUDY IN LINE                                  120

*DIAGRAM. DESIGN FOR A PICTURE, 1875                     121

*DIAGRAM. A MAD DOG                                      122

*DIAGRAM. THE LECTURER                                   123

 DIAGRAM. CHILD                                          124

 DIAGRAM. MAD DOG                                        125

*SKETCH                                                  127

*SHOWS HIS TERRA COTTAS                                  129

*THE FIRST YEAR OF ACADEMY NOTES                         130

*THREE PELICANS AND TORTOISE                             131

*INSPECTING EMBROIDERIES                                 132

*FRESHWATER, ISLE OF WIGHT                               132

*A CHRISTMAS CARD TO K. E. B.                            133

 OPINIONS OF THE PRESS (_Manchester Quarterly_)          134

 THERE WERE THREE RAVENS SAT ON A TREE                   135

*PRIVATE VIEW OF MY FIRST R.A. PICTURE                   136

*A HORSE FAIR IN BRITTANY                                137

 CAPTAIN BURTON                                          139

 PREFACE 1 _Bracebridge Hall_                            140

 PREFACE 2 _Bracebridge Hall_                            140


 THE FAIR JULIA AND HER LOVER                            143

 GENERAL HARBOTTLE AT DINNER                             144

 AN EXTINGUISHER                                         145

*AT WHITCHURCH                                           146

 AT BUXTON                                               147

*A CHRISTMAS CARD                                        148

 GAMING TABLES AT MONTE CARLO (_Graphic_)                151

 PRIEST AND PLAYER (_Graphic_)                           153

 THE PRIEST'S SERVANT (_North Italian Folk_)             155

 THE HUSBANDMAN                                          157

 GOSSIP                                                  158

 DIGNITY AND IMPUDENCE (_National Gallery_)              160

 SPANIELS, KING CHARLES'S BREED                          160

 PORTRAIT OF A LAWYER BY MORONI                          161

*WAITING FOR A BOAT                                      163

*TAILPIECE                                               164

*CLEOPATRA                                               165

 THE THREE HUNTSMEN (_L'Art_)                            167

 A BOAR HUNT (_Grosvenor Notes_)                         168

 THE TRAP (_Breton Folk_)                                170

 SKETCHING UNDER DIFFICULTIES                            171

 BRETON FARMER AND CATTLE                                172

 A WAYSIDE CROSS                                         173

 AT THE HORSE FAIR, LE FOLGOET                           174

 TROTTING OUT HORSES AT CARHAIX                          175

 CATTLE FAIR AT CARHAIX                                  176

 A TYPICAL BRETON                                        177

 A BRETONNE                                              178

*SKETCH                                                  179

 A CAP OF FINISTERRE                                     180

 RETURNING FROM LABOUR--PONT AVEN, 1878                  181

 A BRETON                                                183

*A FAMILY HORSE                                          184

*SKETCH IN WOBURN PARK                                   185

*A CARNATION                                             186

*HOTEL GRAY ET D'ALBION, CANNES                          189

*AT MENTONE                                              190

*SKETCH                                                  191

 SKETCH                                                  192

   THINK (from _Punch_)                                  193

*A PIG OF BRITTANY                                       194

*A BOOKPLATE                                             195

*SKETCH                                                  196

*SKETCH                                                  197

*FACSIMILE OF LETTER                                     199

 SKETCH                                                  200

 SKETCH OF WYBOURNES                                     201

*A NEW YEAR'S GREETING                                   203



 ÆSOP'S FABLES                                           214

 A SKETCH BOOK                                           215

 BRETON FOLK                                             216

[Illustration: AIR--"I KNOW A BANK."]



Randolph Caldecott, the son of an accountant in Chester, was born in
that city on the 22nd of March, 1846, and educated at the King's
School, where he became the head boy. He was not studious in the
popular sense of the word, but spent most of his leisure time in
wandering in the country round. Thus, his love of sport and fondness
for rural pursuits, which never forsook him, were evidenced at an early
age. His artistic instincts were also early developed, and many
treasured sketches, models of animals, &c., cut out of wood, were
produced in Chester by the boy Caldecott.

Perhaps the best and most characteristic record of his early life is,
that he and his brother were "two of the best boys in the school;" the
genius that consists in "an infinite faculty for taking pains" having
much to do with his after career of success.



In 1861 Caldecott was sent to a bank at Whitchurch in Shropshire,
where, for six years, he seems to have had considerable leisure and
opportunity for indulging in his favourite pursuits. Here, living at an
old farm-house about two miles from the town, he used to go fishing
and shooting, to the meets of hounds, to markets and cattle fairs,
gathering in a store of knowledge useful to him in after years. The
practical, if half-unconscious, education that he thus obtained in his
"off-time," as he termed it, whilst clerk at the Whitchurch and
Ellesmere Bank, was often referred to afterwards with pleasure. Thus
from the earliest time it will be seen that he lived in an atmosphere
favourable to his after career. But the bank work was never neglected;
from the day he left his school in Chester in 1861 to become a clerk in
Whitchurch, until the spring of 1872 when he left Manchester finally
for London, the record of his office work was that he "did it well."

[Illustration: "COOM, THEN."]

[Illustration: "THREE FRIENDS."]

During the Whitchurch days he had, as we have indicated, unusual
advantages of leisure, and the opportunity of visiting many an old
house and farm, driving sometimes on the business of the bank, in his
favourite vehicle, a country gig, and "very eagerly," writes one of his
fellow clerks and intimate friends, "were those advantages enjoyed. We
who knew him, can well understand how welcome he must have been in many
a cottage, farm, and hall. The handsome lad carried his own
recommendation. With light brown hair falling with a ripple over his
brow, blue-grey eyes shaded by long lashes, sweet and mobile mouth,
tall and well-made, he joined to these physical advantages a gay good
humour and a charming disposition. No wonder that he was a general

But soon he was transferred to Manchester, where a very different life
awaited him--a life of more arduous duties--in the "Manchester and
Salford Bank," but with opportunities for knowledge in other
directions, of which he was not slow to avail himself. If in his early
years his father discouraged his artistic leanings, he was now in a
city which above all others encouraged the study of art--"as far as it
was consistent with business." In the Brasenose Club, and at the houses
of hospitable and artistic friends in Manchester, Caldecott had
exceptional opportunities of seeing good work, and obtaining
information on art matters.


One who knew him well at this time, writing in the _Manchester Courier_
of Feb. 16th, 1886, says:--

     "Caldecott used to wander about the bustling, murky streets
     of Manchester, sometimes finding himself in queer
     out-of-the-way quarters, often coming across an odd
     character, curious bits of antiquity and the like. Whenever
     the chance came, he made short excursions into the adjacent
     country, and long walks which were never purposeless. Then
     he joined an artists' club and made innumerable pen and ink
     sketches. Whilst in this city so close was his application
     to the art that he loved that on several occasions he spent
     the whole night in drawing."

For five years, from 1867 to 1872, Caldecott worked steadily at the
desk in Manchester, studying from nature whenever he had the chance in
summer; and at the school of art in the long evenings, sometimes
working long and late at some water colour drawing. Caldecott owed much
to Manchester, as he often said, and he never forgot or undervalued the
good of his early training. The friends he made then he kept always,
and they were amongst his dearest and best.

In Manchester on the 3rd of July, 1868--his first drawings were
published in a serio comic paper called _Will o' the Wisp_; and in
1869, in another paper called _The Sphinx_, he had several pages of
drawings reproduced. He was painting a little at the same time, making
many hunting and other studies; they were chiefly for friends, but one
picture was exhibited at the Manchester Royal Institution in 1869.


[Illustration: FULL CRY.]

[Illustration: "IN THE HUNTING FIELD."]

There was no restraining Caldecott now, his artistic bent and his
delightful humour were finding expression in sketches in odd hours and
minutes, on bits of note paper, on old envelopes, and on the blotting
paper before him at his desk, until everybody about him must have been
alive to his talent. He might no doubt have eventually attained a good
position in the bank, for, as one of his friends writes of him very

     "Caldecott's ability was general, not special. It found its
     natural and most agreeable outlet in art and humour, but
     everybody who knew him, and those who received his letters,
     saw that there were perhaps a dozen ways in which he would
     have distinguished himself had he been drawn to them."

The unpublished sketches dispersed through this chapter indicate but
slightly the originality and fecundity of Caldecott's genius at this


There was clearly but one course to pursue--to give up commercial
pursuits and go to London--if such sketches as these were to be found
scattered amongst bank papers!

[Illustration: "SOCIETY IN MANCHESTER."]

And so, in May, 1870, Caldecott, as his diary records, went to London
for a few days with a letter of introduction to Mr. Thomas Armstrong
from Mr. W. Slagg; and in the same year, 1870, some of his drawings
were shown to Shirley Brooks, and to Mark Lemon, then editor of
_Punch_. Mr. Clough thus records the event:--

     "Bearing an introductory letter he went up to London on a
     flying visit, carrying with him a sketch on wood and a small
     book of drawings of the 'Fancies of a Wedding.' He was well
     received. The sketch was accepted, and with many compliments
     the book of drawings was detained.

     "'From that day to this,' said Mr. Caldecott, 'I have not
     seen either sketch or book.' Some time after, on meeting
     Mark Lemon, the incident was recalled, when the burly,
     jovial editor replied, 'My dear fellow, I am vagabondising
     to-day, not _Punching_.' I don't think Mr. Caldecott rightly
     appreciated that joke."

From this date and all through the year 1871, Caldecott was at work in
Manchester and sending to London drawings, some of which have hardly
been exceeded for humour and expression in a few lines.

[Illustration: "A NEW CONTRIBUTOR."]



It was in February 1871, in the pages of _London Society_--a magazine
which at that time included amongst its contributors J. R. Planché,
Shirley Brooks, Francis T. Palgrave, Frederick Locker, G. A. Sala,
Edmund Yates, Percy Fitzgerald, F. C. Burnand, Arthur à Beckett, Tom
Hood, Mortimer Collins, Joseph Hatton, &c.; and amongst its artists
Sir John Gilbert, Charles Keene, Linley Sambourne, G. Bowers, Mrs.
Allingham, W. Small, F. Barnard, F. W. Lawson, M.E.E., and many other
notable names--that Caldecott made his first appearance before a London


On November 3rd, 1870, his diary says:--

     "Some drawings which I left with A. in London have been
     shown, accompanied by a letter from Du Maurier, to a man on
     _London Society_. Must wait a bit and go on
     working--especially studying horses, A. said."

From this parcel of Caldecott's drawings the present writer, being the
"man" referred to, selected a few to be engraved; the sketch of the Rt.
Hon. Robert Lowe on horseback in Hyde Park, on page 17, "Ye monthe
of Aprile" and "Education under Difficulties" being amongst the first

[Illustration: Ye monthe of Aprile.]


It was suggested to him early in 1870 that he should come to London for
a short time and make sketches in Hyde Park, and it touched
Caldecott's fancy, (as he often mentioned afterwards,) that he whose
experiences were far removed from such scenes should have been chosen
as a chronicler of "Society." The sketches were made always from his
own point of view, and some were so grotesque, and hit so hard at the
aristocracy, that they were found inappropriate to a fashionable
magazine!--one especially of Hyde Park in the afternoon, called "Sons
of Toil," had to be declined by the Editor with real regret.


The packet of original sketches lies before the writer now; the pen and
ink drawing of "The Chancellor of the Exchequer" is dated June 3rd,
1870. But the best and funniest of these early works could not be
published in a magazine.

[Illustration: "THE TROMBONE."]

For Christmas time, 1871, Caldecott made many sketches. Two were to
illustrate a short story called "The Two Trombones," by F. Robson, the
actor. It was a ridiculous story, bordering on broad farce, depicting
the adventures of Mr. Adolphus Whiffles, a young man from the country,
who in order to get behind the scenes of a theatre undertakes to act as
a substitute for a friend as "one of the trombones," unknown to the
leader of the orchestra. His friend assures him that in a crowded
assembly "one trombone would probably make as much noise as two," and
that, if he took his place in the orchestra, he had only to "pretend to
play and all would be right."

[Illustration: "THE TWO TROMBONES."]

In the first sketch we see him in his bedroom contemplating the
unfamiliar instrument left by his friend; in the second he is at the
theatre at the crisis when the leader of the band calls upon him to
"play in" (as it is called) one of the performers on to the stage! Mr.
Whiffles's instructions were to keep his eyes on the other trombone
and imitate his movements exactly; but unfortunately _the other
trombone was a substitute also_. The leader looks round, and seeing the
two trombones apparently perfectly ready to begin, gives the signal,
and the curtain rises. The _dénoûment_ may be imagined! Other stories
were illustrated by Caldecott, about this period, in _London Society_;
one of Indian life, another called _Crossed in Love, &c._, but the
artist wished that some illustrations should not be reprinted. Several
drawings from _London Society_ are omitted, from the same cause.

[Illustration: CHRISTMAS DAY, 4.30 A.M. "PLEASE, SIR, GIVE ME A


The freshness of fancy, not to say recklessness of style, in many of
the drawings which came by post at this time--the abundance of the flow
from a stream, the course of which was not yet clearly marked--raised
embarrassing thoughts in an editor's mind. "What to do with all the
material sent?" was the question in 1871--a question which Caldecott
was soon able to answer for himself.

[Illustration: "SNOWBALLS"]

In 1871, many favourable notices appeared in the press referring to the
humorous illustrations in _London Society_; but the sketch of all
others which attracted attention to the work of the unknown artist was
"A Debating and Mutual Improvement Society" on page 21, a
recollection probably of some meeting or actual scene in Manchester.[1]
Here the artist was on his own ground, and the result is one of the
most rapid and spontaneous sketches in pen and ink ever achieved. It
had many of the characteristics of his later work, a lively and
searching analysis of character, without one touch of grossness or
ill-nature--fun and satire of the subtlest and the kindliest. Here was
the touch of genius unmistakable, an example of expression in line
seldom equalled.

[Illustration: "HEIGH-HO, THE HOLLY!"

        *       *       *       *
    "That's not Rosalind: oh dear no--
    That damsel under the misletoe,
      Who seems to think life jolly:
    And as to the gentleman there behind,
    He wouldn't have pluck to kiss Rosalind,
      Can't you fancy his 'Heigh-ho, the Holly!'"

                              MORTIMER COLLINS.]

In an altogether different vein, drawing with pen, and a brush for the
tint,--the new artist tries his hand at illustrating one of Mortimer
Collins's madrigals called "Heigh-ho, the Holly!"

Amongst the most ambitious and interesting of Caldecott's drawings at
this time were his "hunting and shooting friezes," of which several
examples will be found in the pages of _London Society_ for 1871 and
1872, drawn in outline with a pen; showing, thus early, much decorative
feeling and a liking for design in relief which never left him in after

Two of the best that he did were the hunting subjects, entitled "Going
to Cover" and "Full Cry."

[Illustration: "GOING TO COVER."]

"The Coming of Age of the Pride of the Family" is another example, in a
different style, of Caldecott's drawing in line at this period. It is
reproduced opposite, in exact facsimile from the pen and ink drawing in
possession of the writer.

[Illustration: HYDE PARK--"OUT OF THE SEASON."]

Trivial as these things may seem now, the arrival in Manchester of the
red covers of _London Society_ containing almost every month something
new by R. C., were among the events in the life of the young banker's
clerk which soon set the tide of his affairs towards London.


Referring to drawings made for the magazine after Midsummer 1872, when
Mrs. Ross Church succeeded to the editorship, Caldecott writes to a

     "Florence Marryat wants me to illustrate a novelette, very
     humorous, to run through five or six numbers of _London
     Society_, beginning in February. Engraved illustrations, no
     'process.' I think I shall do them, I want coin!"

But he had soon other work in hand as will be seen in the next chapter.

[Illustration: "THE END OF ALL THINGS."]

[Illustration: SKETCH ON A POST CARD.]



Early in the year 1872 Caldecott left Manchester for London, "bearing
with him the well wishes of the Brazenose Club and of an extensive
circle of friends." This great change was not decided upon without
considerable hesitation; but, to quote again from a Manchester

     "Caldecott was greatly encouraged to take this step by the
     sale of some small oil and water colour paintings at modest
     prices, and by the acceptance of drawings by London
     periodicals. The clinking of sovereigns and the rustling of
     bank-notes became sounds of the past--the fainter the
     pleasanter, so at least Caldecott thought at that time, with
     energy, ardour, and the world before him."

In February and March, 1872, he was still drawing for the magazines and
illustrating short stories.

In March, 1872, he exhibited hunting sketches in oil at the Royal
Institution, Manchester.

On the 16th April he went to the Slade School to attend the Life Class
under E. J. Poynter, R.A., until the 29th June.

As this was the turning point in Caldecott's career, it should be
recorded that at this time, and ever afterwards, Mr. Armstrong, the
present Art Director at the South Kensington Museum, was his best
friend and counsellor.[2] He had also the advantage of the friendship
of George du Maurier, M. Dalou, the sculptor, Charles Keene, Albert
Moore, and others.

On the 8th June he records, "A. urged me to prepare caricatures of
people well known," probably with the view of making drawings for

Several drawings of Caldecott's were under consideration by the
proprietors of _Punch_, and on the 22nd June, 1872, the first appeared.

In the same month he exhibited a frame of four small sepia drawings at
the Black and White Exhibition, Egyptian Hall, London.

[Illustration: FIRST DRAWING IN "PUNCH," 22ND JUNE, 1872.]

On the 28th June his diary records, "in the gallery of the House of
Commons attending the debate on the Ballot Bill;" and again on the 8th
July. On the 9th he is "engaged on chalk caricatures all day."

A letter dated 21st July, 1872, to one of his Manchester friends is
worth having for the ludicrous sketch accompanying it. He writes:--

     "London is of course the proper place for a young man, for
     seeing the manners and customs of society, and for getting a
     living in some of the less frequented grooves of human
     labour, but for a residence give me a rural or marine
     retreat. I sigh for some 'cool sequestered spot, the world
     forgetting, by the world forgot.'"

[Illustration: "A COOL SEQUESTERED SPOT."]

About this time it was suggested to him to illustrate a book of summer
travel, and on the 20th August 1872 he enters in his diary:--

"To Rotterdam, Harzburg, &c., to join Mr. and Mrs. B. in the _Harz

[Illustration: "A TOUR IN THE TOY COUNTRY."]

This was the first book that Caldecott illustrated;[3] the title
suggested was "_A Tour in the Toy Country_," and before leaving London
he made the drawing on the preceding page. Caldecott, being then
twenty-six, started on this journey with great readiness. The idea was
altogether delightful to him; and here, as in every country he visited
in after years, his playful fancy and facility for seizing the
grotesque side of things stood him in good stead.

[Illustration: A MOUNTAIN "BEER GARDEN."]

In a strange land, amidst unfamiliar scenes and faces, he roamed "fancy
free"; in a country so compact in size that the whole could be
traversed in a month's walking tour.

With _Baedeker's Guide_ (English edition) in his pocket, and a dialogue
book of sentences in German and English, he used to delight to
interrogate the wondering natives; the necessary questions difficult to
find, and "the elaborate and quite unnecessary" (as he expressed it),
always turning up. Such little incidents gave opportunity to the
observant artist to study the faces of the listeners; the interviews
conducted slowly and gravely, and ending in a peal of laughter from the

[Illustration: A "FRAULEIN."]

[Illustration: A MOUNTAIN PATH.]

Life at a German watering-place, as seen on a small scale in summer in
the Harz mountains, was Caldecott's first experience of scenes with
which his name afterwards became familiar in the pages of the _Graphic_
newspaper. In looking at these early sketches we must bear in mind that
they were made at a time when Caldecott, as an "artist," was scarcely
two years old; that although his sense of humour was overflowing, his
hand was comparatively untrained; that with his keen eye for the
grotesque he turned his back upon much that was beautiful about him,
that his sense of the fitness of things, of the requirements of
composition and the like, were in embryo, so to speak.


Nevertheless, as indicated in the next few pages he has left us work
which, if ever a more complete life of Caldecott should be written,
would form an important chapter in his art career.

Although little fitted for a mountaineer, he could not resist
excursions to the highest points, and with a will which surmounted all
difficulties, reached one evening the summit of the famous "Brocken."
What he saw is recorded in the sketch below.

[Illustration: "THE ARK OF REFUGE."]

There is a legend that when the deluge blotted out man from most parts
of the earth, the waters of the northern seas penetrated far into
Germany, and that the enormous rock which forms the top of the Brocken
formed a shelter and resting-place.

There was no need of a romantic legend to suggest to the mind, at the
first sight of the primitive hostelry on the top of the Brocken, its
similitude to the "ark of refuge." The situation was delightful; we
were in the "toy country" without doubt. There was the identical form
of packing-case which the religious world has with one consent provided
as a plaything for children; there were Noah and his family, people
walking two and two, and horses, sheep, pigs, and goats stowed away at
the great side door.

The resemblance was irresistible, and more attractive to Caldecott's
mind than any of the legends and mysteries with which German
imagination has peopled the district.

[Illustration: THE DANCE OF WITCHES.]

There is "no holding" Caldecott now; on the "Hexen Tanzplatz," the
sacred ground of Goethe's poetic fancy, within sound almost of the
songs of the spirit world that haunt this lonely summit, he sets to

[Illustration: "SPECTRES OF THE BROCKEN."]

The dance of witches, so weird and terrible, (as lately seen on the
Lyceum stage in Henry Irving's production of _Faust_) took a different
form in the young artist's eyes, whose fancy sketch from the Hexen
Tanzplatz is reproduced opposite. He had been properly "posted," as he
expressed it, he had read all that should be read about ghosts,
witches, and spectres, and the result is before us. The last sketch
from the dreary summit, showing the patient tourists waiting to see the
view, was all we could get from him of spectres of the Brocken.

[Illustration: A SKETCH AT SUPPER.]

One or two sketches of the interior of his Noah's ark, when some sixty
travellers had assembled to supper, completed his subjects.

[Illustration: "BACK TO THE VIEW."]

It may be noted that the feeling for landscape which Caldecott
possessed in after years in such a high degree, if it touched him
here, was not recorded in pencil. The magnificent scenery eastward
through the valley of the River Bode, the grim iron foundries and ochre
mines, and the wonderful view from the heights above Blankenberg,
familiar to all travellers in the Harz, was recorded in only two
sketches; one of a roadside inn, where we were invited to stay, the
other of two tourists _en route_.

[Illustration: THE GUIDE AT GOSLAR.]

How, at the little wayside sheds and "drink gardens" scattered on the
mountain paths, the tourists sat persistently back to the view which
they had toiled miles to see, were depicted by the artist in pencil,
and many little incidents on the road were dotted down for future use.

In the old tenth-century city of Goslar, Caldecott's pencil was never
at rest. Taking a guide to save time (whose portrait he gives us, with
a note of a curious sixteenth-century street door) he explores from
morning to night, choosing as subjects always "the life of the place."


"Drinking the waters at Goslar" in 1872 was a crude effort
artistically, which may be contrasted with his sketches of the same
scenes at Buxton in 1876, but the humour is irresistible. An extract
from our diaries is necessary here to explain the illustration.

     "The figures are pilgrims, that have come from far and wide
     to combine the attractions of a summer holiday with the
     benefits of a wonderful 'cure' for which the city is
     celebrated. The promenades and walks on the ramparts lined
     with trees, are going through the routine of getting up
     early, taking regular exercise and drinking daily several
     pints of a dark mixture having the appearance, taste, and
     effect of taraxacum or senna. The bottles are supplied at
     the public gardens and cafés situated at convenient
     distances in the suburbs of Goslar."


On another day he encounters a school starting for two or three days on
the mountains, the band making hideous noises as the procession passes
out of Goslar. Everything is characteristic here and full of local
colour; the order of march, the costumes and the boots of the boys, and
the general gravity of the company are given exactly--making the usual
allowance for exaggeration. In the background is seen one of the iron
factories and an indication of a bit of Harz scenery; the sketch
recalling the incident with wonderful vraisemblance. The "School on the
March" in its humour and exaggeration may remind the reader of some
drawings by Thackeray.


Here, as in Belgium, the harnessing of dogs to carts, drawing sometimes
two people over the rough cobble stones of Goslar, excited Caldecott's
pity and anger; he made several sketches of the animals and one
portrait of their master who had just got down to enjoy a pipe at the
corner of a street.

[Illustration: "A SCHOOL ON THE MARCH"--HARZ MOUNTAINS, 1872.]

Sketches at various _table d'hôtes_ in hotels, public gardens and the
like, were plentiful and perpetual. But the majority were destroyed or
put away; out of fifty only one such as "A General in the Prussian
Army" (see page 44) being selected for reproduction.[4]


At Clausthal we joined a party to explore one of the iron mines, and
Caldecott gives a sketch of the preparations. A note from our diary
will best explain the situation.

"In order to descend the mines at Clausthal, visitors have to divest
themselves of their ordinary costumes and put on some cast-off suits of
ill-fitting garments left at the entrance to the mine for the purpose.
As we approach the mouth of the shaft where the miners are waiting with
lanterns to commence the descent, our party,--consisting of four
Englishmen--a professor of geology, a director of mines, an editor and
an artist--present the somewhat undignified aspect in the sketch. This
change of costume is necessary on account of the wet state of the
mines, the thick caps being a protection against loose pieces of ore
and the wet earth that falls from time to time in the galleries."

Caldecott gives the generally dismal and disreputable appearance of the
party with great verve; his own portrait is presented in a few touches
in the background, hurrying into garments much too big for him.


On one occasion the artist takes a solitary walk between Thale and
Clausthal, a pathway lined in some parts by rows of trees with
forbidden fruit, a novel and tempting experience. There being no
mention of this route in the guide books, he writes as he says his "own
_Baedeker_" in the familiar practical manner:--

     "I start at 3.40 P.M. from the 'Tenpounds Hotel' at Thale to
     walk up the valley of the Bode, over a wooden bridge, then
     through a beer garden, round a rocky corner," &c. "The way
     next through woods of beech, birch and oak; a stream can be
     heard but not seen. Treseburg is reached at 5.40; a prettily
     situated village by the water side; homely inn, damp beds."

     "Leave Treseburg at 9.40 A.M. over a bridge on the right
     bank of the Bode. Altenbrack at 10.50, Wendefurth at 11.50.
     Rubeland reached at 2.30 P.M., and so on to Elbingerode,
     where a halt is made for the night at the 'Blauer Engel,' a
     tolerable inn. Women of burden and foresters are the only
     wayfarers met with.

     "The route hence south-west over high open land with fine
     views to the iron works of Rothehütte in an hour. Thence up
     a hill for half an hour and through dense fir woods, then
     out on the high road again, resting at the 'Brauner Hirsch'
     at Braunlage. From thence over hills commanding a vast
     extent of country with the familiar form of the Brocken
     continually in view. The road descends by easy stages
     through a district full of small reservoirs and leads the
     traveller in about two hours into the wide, clean, empty
     streets of Clausthal."

On the 19th September, 1872, Caldecott is at work again in his rooms at
46, Great Russell Street (opposite the British Museum) arranging with
the writer for some of his Harz Mountain drawings to accompany an
article in the London _Graphic_ newspaper. These appeared in the autumn
of 1872.

[Illustration: AT CLAUSTHAL.]

On the 18th October, the following entry appears in Caldecott's diary:
"Called at _Graphic_ office, saw Mr. W. L. Thomas, who took my
address." This entry is interesting as the beginning of a long
connection with the _Graphic_ newspaper which proved mutually

In November, 1872, the present writer went to America, taking a
scrap-book of proofs of the best of Caldecott's early drawings, a few
of which were published in an article on the _Harz Mountains_ in
_Harper's Monthly Magazine_ in the spring of 1873.[5] His drawings were
also shown to the conductors of the _Daily Graphic_, of New York, which
led to an engagement referred to in the next chapter.

During the latter part of 1872 numerous small illustrations were
produced for _London Society_.


[Illustration: SKETCH IN "PUNCH," 8TH MARCH, 1873.]



Some idea of the work on which Caldecott was engaged in 1873 and 1874,
may be gathered from extracts from his diary in those years. They are
interesting if only to show that at that early period his art studies
were varied, and that his experience was not confined to book
illustration as has generally been supposed.

In January, 1873, he made six illustrations for _Frank Mildmay_ by
"Florence Marryatt," and on January 22nd, an "Initial for _Punch_."

In February--

    "Began wax-modelling for practice, hearing that my hunting
    frieze (white on brown paper) had been successful in
    Manchester, and that I should perhaps be asked to model some
    animals for a chimney-piece."

24th April.--"A. came to see my wax models; liked them, said I must do
something further."

Several hunting subjects were also in progress at this time. Next are
two letters to a friend in Manchester.

                              "46, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, LONDON, W.C.,

                                    "_March 28, 1873_.

     "MY DEAR ----,--The ancient Romans said, or ought to have
     said, that ingratitude was the greatest of human crimes.
     But, my dear fellow, I am not an ingrate. I have not
     forgotten you--unless, as the poet sings, 'if to think of
     thee by day and dream of thee by night, be forgetting thee,
     thou art indeed forgot.' I did receive your last collected
     joke, and a very good joke it was--for a Manchester joke.
     I'm sorry that I have not power to use it, but it will keep,
     although it will tread on some people's feelings when used.
     The fact is that this same joke nearly brought me to an
     untimely end. I went out hunting on the day I received it,
     and at one fence and ditch I had quite enough to do to avoid
     a rabbit-hole on the taking-off side and some barked boughs
     of fallen timber on the landing side--not to mention some
     low-hanging oak trees. Well, just when I was in the air I
     thought of your joke and smiled all down one side; my
     hunter--by King Tom, out of Blazeaway's dam, by
     Boanerges--took the opportunity of stumbling, and, before an
     adult with all his teeth could get as far as the third
     syllable in 'Jack Robinson,' my nose was engaged in cutting
     a furrow all across a fine grass field, some eight acres and
     a half in extent, laid down after fine crops of seeds and
     roots, and well boned last winter. However, in less than
     half a minute (having retained possession of the reins), I
     was again chasing the flying hounds.

[Illustration: A CHECK.]

     "About the middle of February I went down into the country
     to make some studies and sketches, and remained more than a
     month. Had several smart attacks on my heart, a little
     wounded once, causing that machine to go up and down like a
     lamb's tail when its owner is partaking of the nourishment
     provided by a bounteous Nature. Further particulars in our
     next--no more paper now. I hope you and ---- are well, and
     with kind regards, remain yours faithfully,

                                    "R. C."


                              "46, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, LONDON, W.C.,

                                    "_April 27, 1873_.

     "MY DEAR ----,--I was delighted to receive your
     letter--quite a long one for you. I hope that you had a fine
     time of it at the ball. Dancing is not absolutely necessary
     to a man's welfare temporally or spiritually; so if you be a
     'Wobbler,' wobble away and fear not, but see that thou
     wobblest with all thy might, then shall thy zeal compensate
     for lack of skill. I've nearly given up gymnastics. I only
     danced twenty-one times at the last ball.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "I now find that during quadrilles my mind wanders away from
     the subject before it, and I am continually reminded that I
     ought to be idiotically squaring away at some one instead of
     cogitating with my noble back leaning against the wall. 'Sed
     tempora new potater,' &c. I hope you are all well, and with
     kind regards, remain yours faithfully,

                                    "R. C."

In May he is "working in clay in low relief."

6th June.--"Began modelling mare and foal in round."

In the latter part of June, and in July, he is "at Vienna with Mr.
Blackburn," engaged on various illustrations for the _Daily Graphic_.

It was in the summer of 1873 that it occurred to the proprietors of the
_Daily Graphic_ (the American illustrated newspaper referred to) that
the Gulf Stream, and the strong prevailing current of wind easterly
from the continent of America in that latitude, might be turned to
profitable account for advertising purposes. They constructed a large
balloon which hung high above the houses in Broadway for some weeks,
and announced that on a certain day the _Daily Graphic_ balloon would
sail for Europe. The start was telegraphed to London and gravely
announced in the _Times_ and other London papers, and every one was on
the _qui vive_ for this new arrival in the air.


The humour and absurdity of the situation was seized at once by the
comic journals, but probably nothing that appeared at the time was more
telling than the drawing made by Caldecott at Farnham Royal for the
_Daily Graphic_, and published in New York as a page of that newspaper.

Other drawings followed, descriptive of various scenes in London and
England, such as a special service by Cardinal Manning at the
Pro-Cathedral in Kensington; an address by Bradlaugh at the east end of
London; a London picture exhibition; hunting in a northern county, &c.,
and Caldecott, to whom all this was a new experience, was pleased to
work for the American newspaper as "London artistic correspondent."

In this capacity Caldecott went with the writer to Vienna to the
International Exhibition of 1873, and there were sent to America
various satirical sketches, accompanying letters, notably one of the
banquet held on the 4th of July, with portraits of some well-known
American citizens. One of the most successful and life-like of the
smaller sketches was a Vienna horse-car entitled--"Off to the
Exhibition," reproduced here.

[Illustration: OFF TO THE EXHIBITION--VIENNA, 1873.]

The experience gained in various excursions during Caldecott's
engagement with the _Daily Graphic_, was most valuable to him in after
years; although as we have elsewhere said, illustrated journalism
properly so-called, was never sympathetic to him, nor would his health
have been equal to the strain of so trying an occupation. As
_occasional_ contributor to an illustrated newspaper he was destined to
be without a rival, as the columns of the London _Graphic_ for many
years have testified.

[Illustration: A VIENNESE DOG.]

The humour and vivacity, the _abandon_, so to speak, exhibited in some
of these early drawings, form a delightful episode in his early art
career, and many will wonder, looking at the variety of movement and
expression (in the drawing of the overloaded car, for instance), that
the artist should have been amongst us so long without more
recognition. It is true that his drawings were uncertain, and that the
results of want of training were sometimes too palpable; that the
accusation made in 1872 that the editor of _London Society_ had chosen
"an artist who could not draw a lady," could hardly be gainsaid in

The artistic interest in these drawings is great, if only from the fact
that they are amongst the few of his works drawn in pen and ink for
direct reproduction without the intervention of the wood-engraver.
Caldecott was one of the first to try, and to avail himself of, the
various methods of reproduction for the newspaper press; and in the
pages of the _Daily Graphic_, his facile touch and play of line was
made to appear with startling emphasis on the printed page.[6]

But after all, the humour and drollery of Caldecott's nature appears
with more unrestrained effect in the sketches on his letters to
friends, such as are scattered through this volume; the natural awe of
publication in any form having a restraining effect.

In July and August he is working "in the loose box at Farnham Royal,"
the country cottage sketched on page 90 and referred to in the
following and other letters.


     "Dear ----,--The poet sings, 'Oh! have you seen her lately?'
     to which I answer, 'Yes.' But, whether or no, I returned
     to-day from a fortnight's sojourn in Buckinghamshire, and
     the first thing I was going to do was to write to you and
     say that I have no acquaintance with the happy medium who
     resides in my very old rooms in Great Russell Street. I have
     left those rooms, and am a wanderer and an Ishmaelite. I
     dare not take those rooms when she leaves. I called at the
     house just now and found another note from you. I had a good
     look at Europe during my Vienna expedition. I was away a
     month and saw many towns, and conversed with many peoples
     and tongues. I could say much, but will defer till we meet
     over the flowing bowl. Since I came back I have been staying
     with a friend at Holborn Circus, and also with some friends
     at Farnham Royal, near Slough, a lovely country place. There
     I have been working off some sketches of Vienna and England
     for the use of the neighbouring country of America. But I
     could not help being interrupted. Fancy a being like this
     bobbing about! Howsomedever, I am again in town at Bank
     Chambers, Holborn Circus, E.C., where I may be consulted
     daily. Please observe signature on the box, without which
     none others are genuine, post free for thirteen stamps. So
     you see that I have had a seven weeks' delightful mixture of
     toil and pleasure, and ought now to have a bout of toil
     only. There is a book waiting to be illustrated.

                                    "R. C."

In the same month (August 1873), he went with a letter of introduction
to Dalou, the French sculptor, then living in Chelsea. Of this
interview he writes, "M. Dalou very kind in hints, showing me clay,
&c." A friendship followed, cemented in the first instance by a
bargain that Caldecott should come and work at the studio and teach the
sculptor to talk English, whilst Dalou helped him in his modelling!
Caldecott profited by the arrangement, and often spoke in after years
of the value of Dalou's practical teaching. Many visits were paid to
the sculptor's studio in the year 1873.


In the intervals of work Caldecott also made life studies at the
Zoological Gardens in London, and anatomical studies of birds.

In September he made a drawing of Mark Twain lecturing in London, for
the _Daily Graphic_, and in October records the purchase by Mr. G.
Aitchison, the architect, of a cast of his "first bas relief," a
hunting subject; also of "two brown paper pelican drawings," one
reproduced on the last page.

In November he writes the following to a friend in Manchester:--

                              "46, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, W.C.,

                                    "_November 16, 1873_.

     "Dear ----,--I have nothing to say to you--nothing at all.
     Therefore I write. I don't like writing when I have aught to
     say, because I never feel quite eloquent enough to put the
     business in the proper light for all parties. Having a love
     and yearning for Bowdon and Dunham, and the 'publics' which
     there adjacent lie, I think of you on these calm Sunday
     evenings about the hour when my errant legs used to repose
     beneath the deal of the sequestered inn at Bollington. How
     are you? I was pleased to see that the _Athenæum_ gave a
     long space to your book, although I presume you did not care
     for the way they reviewed it. That is nothing. I have been
     very busy--not coining money, oh no!--but occupied, or I
     should say have descended into the country, during last
     month. 'Graced with some merit, and with more effrontery;
     his country's pride, he went down to the country.' My summer
     rambles shall be talked of, and the wonderful works in the
     regions of art shall be described when next I see you. Till
     then, farewell! This short letter is like a call.--Yours, R. C."

The last entry of interest in his diary in 1873, is on December 3rd.

     "To _Graphic_ office, saw Mr. Thomas. Fixed that I should go
     down to Leicestershire next week for hunting subjects."

[Illustration: "THIS IS NOT A FIRST-CLASS COW."]




Let us now glance at Caldecott's diary for 1874, which, with his
letters to friends and the sketches which so often accompanied them,
give an insight into the character of his work at this time. It is
altogether an extraordinary record.

On the 14th of January, 1874, he is "working in the afternoons,
sketching swans at Armstrong's." This was part of a large decorative
design which he afterwards assisted in painting (see illustration on
page 89).

On the 23rd January, 1874, is an interesting note.

     "J. Cooper, engraver, came and proposed to illustrate, with
     seventy or eighty sketches, Washington Irving's _Sketch
     Book_. Went all through it and left me to consider. I like
     the idea."

In February he completed a drawing of the Quorn Hunt for the _Graphic_

On the 12th March, he enters in his diary, "Preparing sketch of choir
for W. Irving's _Sketch Book_;" showing that he was already at work on
the book which was to make his reputation.

At the same time he was preparing illustrations and trying new
processes of drawing for reproduction, to aid in founding a new

How far Mr. Caldecott was ready to conquer difficulties in his art, and
how heartily he aided his friends in any project with which he was
connected, are matters of history closely connected with his engagement
on the _Pictorial World_, which had a bright promise for the future in

Some of the large illustrations were produced by Dawson's "Typographic
Etching" process. The drawings were made with a point on plates covered
with a thin coating of wax, the artist's needle, as in etching,
removing the wax and exposing the surface of the plate wherever a line
was required in relief--"a fiendish process!" as Caldecott described
it, but with which he succeeded in obtaining excellent results--better
than any artist previously.

On the 7th of March, 1874, a new illustrated newspaper called the
_Pictorial World_ was started in London, of which the present writer
was the art editor.

It was the time of the general election of 1874, when the defeat of Mr.
Gladstone, the question of "Home Rule," and many exciting events were
being recorded in the newspapers. Caldecott was asked to make a cartoon
of the elections, and at once sat down and made the pencil sketch

For some reason this drawing was not completed; but instead, a group of
various election scenes was drawn by him and appeared in the _Pictorial

[Illustration: THE POLLING BOOTH.]

There were numerous sketches combined on one page, three of which are
reproduced here. The illustrations on pages 70, 72, 80, 81, 82, and
84 were drawn (generally under great pressure of time) with an
etching needle on Dawson's plates. This was the beginning of what are
now familiarly known as "process" drawings in newspapers, but the
system of photographic engraving, now largely used, was not then
perfected. In 1874 it would have been impossible to reproduce rapidly
in a newspaper, either the delicate lines of a pen and ink sketch, or
such a pencil drawing as that given above.

[Illustration: HOME RULE--MARCH 1874.

Facsimile of pencil sketch for the _Pictorial World_.]

Caldecott rendered valuable assistance at this time, and the early
numbers of the paper are worth having if only for the reproduction of
his work. It is not generally known how many of the large illustrations
in the _Pictorial World_ were by his hand, or how much he was
identified with the publication in the first days of its career.

[Illustration: "ON THE STUMP."]

Amongst the best illustrations by Caldecott for the newspaper at that
period were sketches and studies that he had made for pictures,
selected from his studio; such for instance as "Coursing," "Somebody's
Coming," and the "Morning Walk," on pp. 75, 77, and 86. The latter
design was not drawn specially for the _Pictorial World_, but Caldecott
made a drawing of it for the paper, which appeared in the number for
18th July, 1874.


From a bundle of sketches (some very pretty) of subjects connected with
Saint Valentine, he made a page for the same paper. These again, may
seem small matters to record, but they are facts in the history of a
life teeming with interest, and show that Caldecott's talent as an
illustrator was revealed in 1874; that he was "invented," as the saying
is, long before the publication of Washington Irving's _Sketch Book_.

[Illustration: PAIRING TIME]

[Illustration: COURSING.]


On the 31st of October, 1874, Mr. Henry Irving made his first
appearance in London as Hamlet, one of those occasions on which the
theatre was crowded with critics and well-known personages. Caldecott,
altogether inexperienced in such work, made several rough sketches,
seizing the grotesque side "as far as he dared" as he said.

[Illustration: A VALENTINE.]

The trying nature of that performance, and the flitting about on the
stage of the nervous anxious figure, with the ever-present white
pocket-handkerchief in his belt--will be remembered by many. Caldecott
made the best sketch that he could from the left side of the
dress-circle, the only position in the house that could be obtained for

[Illustration: "SOMEBODY'S COMING!"]


[Illustration: "THE YOUNG HAMLET."]

In company with the writer, Caldecott made various sketches in the
House of Commons, the Law Courts, the theatres, and the like. The first
three sketches of the House of Commons--one showing "The Arrival of the
New Members," another, "The Speaker going up to the Lords," and a
third, "At the Bar of the House of Lords"--were amongst the funniest of
the series. Others followed from week to week, such as "The new Prime
Minister," on page 83. On one occasion he went down to Westminster
Hall to see the Rt. Hon. Benjamin D'Israeli enter the House of
Commons as the _new prime minister_, and to a large illustration
showing the north door of Westminster Hall (the architecture drawn by
Mr. Jellicoe), he added the figures, a grotesque group of bystanders,
presumably Conservatives, welcoming their new representative. (See the
_Pictorial World_, March 7th, 1874.)




It was an exciting time politically and socially, and many events of
interest had to be recorded. Amongst them the conclusion, amidst
general rejoicing, of the great Tichborne Trial on March 2nd, 1874, a
trial which had lasted 188 days. This was an opportunity for the
artist. Caldecott's original sketch of this subject, if it is in
existence, should be treasured; some idea of the humour of it may be
gathered from the drawing overleaf which was crowded into the corner of
the newspaper. He also made a highly grotesque and artistic model in
terra-cotta of the Tichborne Trial, now in the possession of Mr.
Stanley Baldwin of Manchester.

[Illustration: "THE NEW PRIME MINISTER."]

About this time, Caldecott went to the "farewell benefit" of the late
Benjamin Webster and sketched the actor--surrounded by members of his
company--making his final bow to the public.


On the eighteenth birthday, the "coming of age," of the late Prince
Imperial of France, Caldecott went to Chislehurst. The drawing of the
crowd on the lawn of Camden House in a state of general
congratulation, the ceremony of presentation of enormous bouquets of
violets and the like; of Frenchmen and their wives, of diplomatists,
and others, will be found in the _Pictorial World_ for March 21st,

Here was a comparatively unknown artist at work, revealing talent which
in after years would delight the world.

But fortunately for his health and peace of mind, and also for his
future career, the young artist, who two years before had given up a
clerkship in a Manchester bank (a "certainty" of more than £100 a
year), was advised to refuse an engagement on the _Pictorial World_ of
£10 10_s._ a week, which, had it been carried out, would have done much
to raise the fortunes of that newspaper.

But the rush and hurry of journalistic work was distasteful to him; he
had many commissions at this time, work of a better kind, requiring
quiet and study. He was willing, and wishing always, to aid his
friends, and so for some time he kept up a connection with the paper
and made sketches on special occasions.

[Illustration: THE MORNING WALK.]

His health was delicate, but he was not suffering as in later years;
his spirits were overflowing, and his kindliness and personal charm had
made him friends everywhere.

On the 10th of April he enters in his diary--"At Armstrong's all day.
Began to paint pigeons on canvas panel. Looking at pigeons in British
Museum quadrangle;" and on the 11th again, "painting pigeons."

On the 15th of April he is "making a drawing of storks, &c.," and on
the 17th, 21st, and 22nd, "painting swans at Armstrong's all day."

On the 23rd of April he enters: "Bas-relief hunting scene going on,"
and on 24th, "painting storks and pigeons," and on 28th, "swans."

The painting of swans, storks, and pigeons, referred to above, was very
important work for Caldecott. In conjunction with his friend Mr.
Armstrong, he painted the birds in two panels, one of swans (reproduced
overleaf), and one of a stork and magpie. These panels were about six
feet high, and form part of a series of decorations in the dining-room
of Mr. Henry Renshawe's house at Bank Hall, near Buxton, Derbyshire.

The series of decorative paintings (by Thomas Armstrong) which included
these panels, was exhibited at Mr. Deschamps' Gallery in New Bond
Street in 1874, and attracted much attention at the time. The birds
showed to great advantage, and will remain in the memory of many as
amongst the most vigorous and effective of Caldecott's paintings in
oils. They showed, thus early, a mastery of bird form and a power in
reserve of an unusual kind.

"I have paid a little attention to decorative art," he writes to a
friend at this time; besides being "at work on the _Sketch Book_," the
results of which will be seen in the next chapter.





During the summers of 1872, 1873, and 1874, Caldecott stayed often at a
cottage belonging to the writer, three miles north of Slough, in
Buckinghamshire, in the picturesque neighbourhood of Stoke Pogis and
Burnham Beeches.

A "loose box" adjoining the stable--a few yards to the right of the
little verandah in the above sketch--had been fitted up for him by
friendly hands; and it was here in this temporary studio, in the quiet
of the country, looking out on woods and fields, that he made many of
the drawings for _Old Christmas_.

Several entries in Caldecott's diary in 1874 mention that in June and
July he was "working in the 'loose box' at Farnham Royal, on the
_Sketch Book_."

Those were happy, irresponsible days, before great success had tempered
his style, or brought with it many cares. Take the following letter
(one of many) written in the full enjoyment of the change from lodgings
in London:--

[Illustration: The Cottage. Farnham Royal. in Slough. 26 June 1874.]

     "We are passing a calm and peaceful existence here and were
     therefore somewhat startled the other day, when Sharp asked
     for the cart and donkey to take to the common for the
     purpose of bringing us a few Sultanas. We stroked our
     beards, but as Sharp seemed bent upon the affair reluctantly

[The boy Sharp attended to the wants of Caldecott and his friend L.,
and wanted to make a pudding. The end of the letter is reproduced in



The illustration on the last page is a copy of a water-colour sketch
made from "the loose box" at Farnham Royal. It depicts the arrival of a
pony at the cottage and consequent disgust of the donkey at the
intrusion. The old man--who combined the various offices of gardener,
groom, and parish clerk--stood unconsciously as a model for several
drawings in _Old Christmas_.

From Farnham Royal he writes at another time to a friend:--

     "We are fast drifting into a vortex of dissipation--eddying
     round a whirlpool of gaiety; but I hope that through all,
     our heads will keep clear enough to guide the helms of our

About this time it was suggested to Caldecott to make studies of
animals and birds, with a view to an illustrated edition of _Æsop's
Fables_, a work for which his talents seemed eminently fitted. The idea
was put aside from press of work, and when finally brought out in 1883
was not the success that had been anticipated. This was principally
owing to the plan of the book.

[Illustration: "STUDYING FROM NATURE."]

As Caldecott's _Æsop_ was often talked over with the writer in early
days, a few words may be appropriate here. Caldecott yielded to a
suggestion of Mr. J. D. Cooper, the engraver, to attach to each fable
what were to be styled "Modern Instances," consisting of scenes, social
or political, as an "application." Humorous as these were, in the
artist's best vein of satire, the combination was felt to be an
artistic mistake. That Caldecott was aware of this, almost from the
first, is evident from a few words in a letter to an intimate friend
where he says:--

     "Do not expect much from this book. When I see proofs of it
     I wonder and regret that I did not approach the subject more

Circumstances of health also in later years interfered with the
completion of what might have been his _chef d'oeuvre_.


In the following letter to a friend in Manchester (headed with the
above sketch) he refers modestly to his drawings for _Old Christmas_,
on which he was now busily engaged.

[Illustration: ART IS LONG, LIFE IS SHORT.]

     "My dear ----,--It is so long since I have heard from you
     that I have concluded that you must be very flourishing in
     every way. No news being good news, and no news lasting for
     so long a time, you must have a quiver full of good things.
     How is ----? The woods of Dunham? The gaol of
     Knutsford?--the vale of Knutsford, I mean. A fortnight ago,
     when all the ability were leaving town, I returned from a
     six weeks' pleasant sojourn in Bucks, at Farnham Royal. I
     was hard at work all the time, for I have been very much
     occupied of late, you will be glad to hear, I know. In
     process of time, and if successful, I will tell you upon
     what. I wish I had had a severe training for my present
     profession. Eating my dinners, so to speak. I have now got a
     workshop, and I sometimes wish that I was a workman. Art is
     long: life isn't. Perhaps you are now careering round
     Schleswig or some other-where for a summer holiday. I shall
     probably go to France next month for a business and pleasure
     excursion. Let me hear from you about things in general or
     in particular--a line, a word will be welcome. I hope you
     are all well; and with kind regards remain

                              "Yours faithfully,

                                    "R. C."

It is clear from the above letter that Caldecott was conscious of the
great change that was coming in his work in 1874. The suggestions of
his friends that he should draw continually from familiar objects, and
the hints he received from time to time that he "could not draw a
lady," are ludicrously illustrated in two sketches to a Manchester
friend who watched the progress of the artist with lively interest.


[Illustration: "COULD NOT DRAW A LADY!"]

But in spite of his moving laughter, the period referred to in this
chapter was the most serious and eventful in Caldecott's career; when
a sense of beauty and fitness in design seemed to have been revealed to
him, as it were, in a vision, and when his serious studies seemed to be
bearing fruit for the first time; when he felt, as he never felt
before, the responsibilities of his art and the want of severe training
for his profession. Then--but not till then--did the lines of _Punch_
"On the late Randolph Caldecott," written in February 1886, apply

    "Sure never pencil steeped in mirth
        So closely kept to grace and beauty."
       *       *       *       *       *




The "new departure" which Caldecott made in the summer of 1874 will be
seen clearly marked in the next few pages, where, with the permission
of the publishers, we have reproduced some characteristic drawings from
_Old Christmas_.

     "There was issued in 1876 by the Messrs. Macmillan" (writes
     Mr. William Clough, an old and intimate friend of Caldecott)
     "a book with illustrations that forcibly drew attention to
     the advent of a new exponent of the pictorial art. These
     pictures were of so entirely new a nature, and gave such a
     meaning and emphasis to the text, as to stir even callous
     bosoms by the graceful and pure creations of the artist's
     genius. Washington Irving's _Old Christmas_ was made alive
     for us by a new interpreter, who brought grace of drawing
     with a dainty inventive genius to the delineation of English
     life in the last century."

It is not generally known that the drawings for _Old Christmas_, one
hundred and twelve in number, were all made in 1874; and there is a
marked alteration in style during the progress of this book, such as,
for example, between the drawing of "The Village Choir" (commenced in
March 1874), and the portrait of "Master Simon," placed opposite to
each other on pages 96 and 97 of the first edition of _Old Christmas_.

The humour is more robust, but never in after-work was more delightful,
than in his rendering of the typical stage coachman. Until these
illustrations came it had been said that Washington Irving's coachman
stood out as a unique and matchless description of a character that has
passed away.

     "In the course of a December tour in Yorkshire," writes
     Washington Irving, "I rode for a long distance on one of the
     public coaches on the day preceding Christmas."

     Three schoolboys were amongst his fellow-passengers. "They
     were under the particular guardianship of the coachman to
     whom, whenever an opportunity presented, they addressed a
     host of questions, and pronounced him one of the best
     fellows in the world. Indeed I could not but notice the more
     than ordinary air of bustle and importance of the coachman,
     who wore his hat a little on one side and had a large bunch
     of Christmas green stuck in the button-hole of his coat.

     "Wherever an English stage coachman may be seen he cannot be
     mistaken for one of any other craft or mystery. He has
     commonly a broad full face, curiously mottled with red, as
     if the blood had been forced by hard feeding into every
     vessel of the skin; he is swelled into jolly dimensions by
     frequent potations of malt liquors, and his bulk is still
     further increased by a multiplicity of coats in which he is
     buried like a cauliflower, the upper one reaching to his
     heels. He wears a broad-brimmed low-crowned hat; a huge roll
     of coloured handkerchief about his neck, knowingly knotted
     and tucked in at the bosom, and has in summer-time a large
     bouquet of flowers in his button-hole, the present most
     probably of some enamoured country lass. His waistcoat is
     commonly of some bright colour, striped; and his small
     clothes extend far below the knees to meet a pair of
     jockey-boots which reach about halfway up his legs.

[Illustration: THE STAGE COACHMAN.]

     "All this costume is maintained with much precision; he has
     a pride in having his clothes of excellent materials; and
     notwithstanding the seeming grossness of his appearance,
     there is still discernible that neatness and propriety of
     person which is almost inherent in an Englishman. He enjoys
     great consequence and consideration along the road; has
     frequent conferences with the village housewives, who look
     upon him as a man of great trust and dependence; and he
     seems to have a good understanding with every bright-eyed
     lass. The moment he arrives he throws down the reins with
     something of an air, and abandons the cattle to the care of
     the ostler; his duty being merely to drive from one stage to
     another. When off the box his hands are thrust in the
     pockets of his greatcoat, and he rolls about the inn yard
     with an air of the most absolute lordliness. Here he is
     generally surrounded by an admiring throng of ostlers,
     stable-boys, shoe-blacks, and those nameless hangers-on that
     infest inns and taverns and run errands. Every ragamuffin
     that has a coat to his back thrusts his hands in his
     pockets, rolls in his gait, talks slang, and is an embryo

[Illustration: IN THE STABLE YARD.]

Surely it has seldom happened in the history of illustration that an
author should be so very closely followed--if not overtaken--by his
illustrator. No literary touch seemed to be wanting from the author to
convey a picture of English life and character passed away; but
Caldecott's coachman helps to elucidate the text; and whilst it carried
to many a reader of _Old Christmas_ in the New World a living portrait
of a past age, it revealed also the presence of a new illustrator.

Here was a reproachful lesson. The art of illustration--an art untaught
in England and unconsidered by too many--was shown in all its strength
and usefulness by a comparatively new hand.

Of the numerous illustrations drawn by Caldecott in 1874 for _Old
Christmas_, we may select as examples the young Oxonian leading out one
of his maiden aunts at a dance on Christmas Eve; and "the fair Julia"
in the intervals of dancing listening with apparent indifference to a
song from her admirer; amusing herself the while by plucking to pieces
a choice bouquet of hothouse flowers.

[Illustration: THE TROUBADOUR.]

[Illustration: THE FAIR JULIA.]

The style and treatment of the drawing, on the opposite page, differs
from anything previously done by Caldecott, and would hardly have been
recognised as his work; the handling is less firm, and colour and
quality have been more considered in deference to what was considered
the public taste in such matters. But in a few pages he emancipates
himself again, and gives us some brilliant character sketches. In the
last example from _Old Christmas_ he is in his element. Nothing could
be more characteristic, or in touch with the period illustrated, than
the picture of Frank Bracebridge, Master Simon, and the author of _Old
Christmas_, walking about the grounds of the family mansion "escorted
by a number of gentleman-like dogs, from the frisking spaniel to the
steady old staghound. The dogs were all obedient to a dog-whistle which
hung to Master Simon's button-hole, and in the midst of the gambols
would glance an eye occasionally upon a small switch he carried in his
hand."[7] Thus the minute observation of the writer is closely followed
by the illustrator, who here from his own habit of close observation of
the ways of animals, was enabled to give additional completeness to the
picture; and the effect was greatly heightened by a wise determination
on the part of Mr. Cooper the engraver, that the illustrations should
be "so mingled with the text that both united should form one picture."
This book was engraved at leisure, and not published until the end of
1875, by Messrs. Macmillan & Co., bearing date 1876.


It is interesting to note that _Old Christmas_ was offered to, and
declined by, one of the leading publishers in London; principally on
the ground that the illustrations were considered "inartistic,
flippant and vulgar, and unworthy of the author of _Old Christmas_"! It
was not until 1876 that the world discovered a new genius.

During the progress of the drawings for _Old Christmas_ in 1874,
Caldecott went with the writer to Brittany to make sketches for a new
book; but the publication was postponed until after a more extended
tour in 1878.

These summer wanderings of Caldecott in Brittany were prolific of work;
his pencil and notebook were never at rest, as the pages of _Breton
Folk_ testify (see Chapter xi.). The drawings, both in 1874 and
in 1878, mark a strong artistic advance upon similar work in the Harz
Mountains. His feeling for the sentiment and beauty of landscape,
especially the open land,--generally absent from the sketches in the
Harz Mountains,--is noticeable here. The statuesque grace of the
younger women, the picturesqueness of costume, operations of husbandry,
outdoor _fêtes_ and the like, and the open air effect of nearly every
group of figures seen in these summer journeys--all came as delightful
material for his pencil.

Caldecott's studies with M. Dalou, the sculptor, in 1874, and the great
proficiency he had already obtained in modelling in clay, enabled him
to make several successful groups from his Brittany subjects.


The bright-eyed stolid child in sabots at the roadside (one of the
first of the quaint little figures that attracted his attention in
Brittany) stands on the writer's table in concrete presentment in
clay; the model is not much larger than the sketch--the front, the
profile, and the back view, each forming a separate and faithful study
from life.

The young mother and child in the cathedral at Guingamp (reproduced
opposite) was another successful effort in modelling, but Caldecott was
not satisfied with it excepting as a rough sketch--"a recollection in

It is interesting here to note the handling of the artist in his
favourite material, French clay. The model stands but six inches high,
but it was intended to have reproduced it larger. Another sketch in the
round was of "a pig of Brittany," reproduced on page 194.

     "Save up," he writes about this time to a friend in
     Manchester, "and be an art patron; you will soon be able to
     buy some interesting terra cottas by R. C.!"

This was a heavy year, for many illustrations were produced not
mentioned in these pages; and in October he was busy on the wax
bas-relief of a "Brittany horse fair," afterwards cast in metal and
exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1876 (see page 137).


Facsimile of Model in Terra Cotta, 1874.]

[Illustration: TO M. H.--CHRISTMAS, 1874.]

On the 19th of November and following days Caldecott was "working at
Dalou's on a cat crouching for a spring." He had a skeleton of a cat, a
dead cat, and a live cat to work from. This model in clay was finished
on the 8th December, 1874.

Christmas Eve was spent "in the caverns of the British Museum making a
drawing, and measuring skeleton of a white stork." This was a most
elaborate and careful record of measurements. On the 28th of December
he was "engaged on brown paper cartoon of storks at Armstrong's," and
on the 30th is the entry,--"at British Museum; had storks out of cases
to examine insertion of wing feathers."

Thus, all through the year 1874 Caldecott, working without much
recognition excepting from a few intimates, got through an immense
amount of work; not forgetting his friends the children, to whom he
sent many Christmas greetings with letters and coloured sketches. The
drawing on the opposite page accompanied a kindly letter to a child of
six years.

"I thank you," he says, "very much for your grand sheet of drawings,
which I think are very nice indeed. I hope you will go on trying and
learning to draw. There are many beautiful things waiting to be drawn.
Animals and flowers oh! such a many--and a few people."

The last sketch in 1874--a postscript to a private letter--tells its
own story.





In a letter to a friend in Manchester, on the 17th January, 1875,
Caldecott writes:--

     "I stick pretty close to business, pretty much in that
     admirable and attentive manner which was the delight, the
     pride, the exultation of the great chiefs who strode it
     through the Manchester banking halls. Yes, I have not
     forsaken those gay--though perhaps, to the heart yearning to
     be fetterless, irksome--scenes without finding that the
     world ever requires toil from those sons of labour who would
     be successful.

     "However, during the last year I managed to do a lot of work
     away from town, and enjoyed it. Sometimes it was expensive,
     because when at the cottage in Bucks, we of course mixed
     with the county families and had to 'keep a carriage' to
     return calls, return from dinner, and so forth."


     Here is "a meditation for the New Year"--

     "You will excuse me," he says, "talking of myself when I
     tell you that amongst the resolutions for the New Year was
     one only to talk of matters about which there was a
     reasonable probability that I knew something. Now human
     beings are a mystery to me, and taking them all round I
     think we may consider them a failure. If I do not understand
     anything that belongs to myself, how can I understand what
     belongeth to another? This, my dear W., with your clear
     intellect, you will see is sound.

     "I often think of the scenes and faces and jokes of banking
     days, and have amongst them many pleasant reminiscences.
     Perhaps we shall all meet again in that land which lies
     round the corner!"

     [Here follows a grotesque sketch of a man on a winter's day,
     with an umbrella, hurrying off to the "Nag and Nosebag."]

At the beginning of 1875, in the intervals of book illustration,
Caldecott was busy "working on a cartoon of storks." This was a design
for a picture in oils, painted in March and afterwards bought by Mr. F.
Pennington, late M. P. for Stockport.

[Illustration: SUNRISE.]

On the 7th of January he enters in his diary, "Painted some storks on
the wing for a panel for a wardrobe." The rendering of dawn on the
upmost clouds, the storks rising from the dark earth to greet the sun,
can hardly be indicated without colour, but the design is given
accurately. It was a poetic fancy which he had had in his mind for some
time; one of many half developed designs which, if his health had
permitted, the world might have seen more of.

[Illustration: STUDY IN LINE.]

On the 25th of January he "made a dry point sketch of a Quimperlé
Brittany woman," and in February he was busy modelling as usual.

On the 5th of February, "took to Lucchesi (moulder) wax bas-relief of
horse fair, and small 'sketch of brewers' waggon."

[Illustration: STUDY IN LINE.]

The advance of the art of reproducing drawings in facsimile in a cheap
form, suitable for printing at the type press like wood engravings, was
attracting much attention in England in 1875, and at the writer's
request Caldecott made a series of diagrams suggestive of the power of
line and of effects to be obtained by simple methods, to illustrate a
paper read before the Society of Arts in London in March, 1875, on "The
Art of Illustration."

[Illustration: DIAGRAM. DESIGN FOR A PICTURE, 1875.]

With his usual kindness and enthusiasm he put aside his work--some
modelling in clay which he had been studying under his friend M. Dalou,
the French sculptor--and at once began a diagram, about seven feet by
five feet, to suggest a picture in the simplest way. Without much
consideration, without models, and in the limited area of his little
studio in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, he set to work with a brush
on the broad white sheet, and in about an hour produced the drawing in
line of "Youth and Age" on the last page.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM.]

The horses were not quite satisfactory to himself; but the sentiment of
the picture, the open air effect of early spring, the crisp grass, the
birds' nests forming in the almost leafless trees, the effect of
distance indicated in a few lines--and above all, the feeling of sky
produced by the _untouched_ background--were skilfully suggested in the
large diagram.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM. "THE LECTURER."]

On other occasions, and for the same lecture, he made several other
diagrams, including one of the pursuit of a dog in a village, another
of a lecturer and various heads in an audience. The reproductions are
interesting to examine together as early work in a style in which he
afterwards was famous--a style, which was _not outline_ in the strict
sense of the word, and which to a great extent was his own. It had
little in common with Flaxman, it was not in the manner of Gillray,
Cruikshank, Doyle, or Leech; nor in the more academic manner of his
friend--and predecessor in children's books--Walter Crane.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM.]

To these somewhat tentative drawings he afterwards added to the series
a diagram, six feet high, of the famous mad dog from one of his Picture
Books, and another of the figure of a child running, reproduced above.

The discovery of a process by which a drawing on paper in line, could
be photographed and brought into relief, like a wood-block for printing
at the type press, was not perfected in England until 1875, and did not
come into general use until 1876; had it come a year or two earlier it
would have had an important influence upon Caldecott's work.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM.]

Without going too far into technicalities, it may be interesting to
illustrators to mention here that all Caldecott's best drawings in his
Picture Books, _John Gilpin_, _The House that Jack Built_, &c.; in the
_Graphic_ newspaper, and in Washington Irving's _Old Christmas_, &c.,
were photographed on to wood-blocks and have passed through the hands
of the engraver.

The system of photographic engraving (by which the drawings are
reproduced on pp. 124 and 125) bids fair to supersede wood-engraving
for rapid journalistic purposes. It naturally attracted Caldecott in
the first instance; but with increased knowledge and perception of
"values," and of the quality to be obtained in a good wood-engraving
above any mechanical reproduction in relief, Caldecott was glad to
avail himself of the help of the engraver. He drew with greater
freedom, as he expressed it, preferring, as so many illustrators do, to
put in tints with a brush, to be rendered in line by skilful engravers.
But at the same time he delighted in shewing the _power of line_ in
drawing, studying "the art of leaving out as a science"; doing nothing
hastily but thinking long and seriously before putting pen to paper,
remembering, as he always said, "the fewer the lines, the less error

In the spring of 1875 he sends this lively picture of himself from
Dodington, near Whitchurch, in Shropshire, where he had been working,
staying with friends, in the full enjoyment of country life.


Writing on the 27th of April, 1875, he says:--

     "I feel I owe somebody an apology for staying in the country
     so long, but don't quite see to whom it is due, so I shall
     stay two or three days longer, and then I shall indeed hang
     my harp on a willow tree. It is difficult to screw up the
     proper amount of courage for leaving the lambkins, the
     piglets, the foals, the goslings, the calves, and the
     puppies. We want rain, and then things will grow with
     exceeding speed; as it is, the earth is dry and the buds are
     slow to display their hidden beauties. A little of 'something
     to drink' will cheer them, and then, like some human beings,
     they will look pleasant and cheerful and 'come out.'"

Next, from a letter to an intimate friend, dated 5th March, 1875, on
being asked to become a trustee:--

     "The event is of a pleasing nature because it shows that
     somebody still believes in the continuance of that
     uprightness of principle, rectitude of conduct, and general
     respectability of mind and heart which for so many years
     endeared me to the nobility, clergy, gentry, gasmen, and
     fowl stealers of W----."

Life in the country with Caldecott was "worth living," and he chafed
much at this period if he had to be with his "nose to the grindstone,"
as he expressed it, in Bloomsbury. Whilst in the country his letters
to town were full of sketches, but in letters from London he hardly
ever pictured life out of doors.

[Illustration: "SHOWS HIS TERRA COTTAS."]

In June 1875, he shows the bas-relief of "A Boar Hunt," and some small
groups in terra cotta, to his friends.[8]

Before the favourable verdict of the press was pronounced on _Old
Christmas_, Caldecott was commissioned to illustrate a second volume;
and, in May 1875, he was already at work making studies and drawings
for _Bracebridge Hall_, which did not appear until the end of 1876.

About this time the first number of _Academy Notes_ was published, and
in a postscript to a letter to the writer (of too private a nature to
be printed) Caldecott pictures its "first appearance in a family


In June 1875, Caldecott had "three drawings in sepia, badly hung, in
the 'black and white' exhibition at the Dudley Gallery."

On the 4th of August he was "making designs for pelican picture;" and
afterwards studying this subject at the Zoological Gardens. Two
pictures of pelicans were eventually painted; the second, in the
possession of Mr. W. Phipson Beale, is sketched below.


Writing on the 10th August, 1875, respecting some Cretan embroideries
just arrived in England, he sends the sketch overleaf.

"In accordance with your letter about the embroideries," he says, "I
have placed the address of the importer in the hands of Mr. N., a man
well-skilled in detecting that which is good in a crowd of works of
art. He is great in pottery, embroidery and decoration; but he has a
mind great in forgetting, and a fine talent for losing addresses."



In October, whilst at the seaside, he "made six drawings;" and, later
in the year, was "modelling panels for Lord Monteagle's chimney-piece."

In November 1875 he received the first copy of _Old Christmas_ from the
publishers, and already favourable notices of the illustrations had
begun to appear in the newspapers.

[Illustration: A CHRISTMAS CARD TO K. E. B.]




The "opinions of the press" on Washington Irving's _Old Christmas_,
which Mr. J. D. Cooper, the wood engraver, is depicted reading to the
artist with so much glee, were all that could be desired; and they
fully justified the second venture (_Bracebridge Hall_), on which
Caldecott was already engaged.

In February he was "painting a frieze for Mr. Pennington's drawing
room" at Broome Hall, Holmwood, Sussex; and, later on, was "carving
panels for a chimneypiece."

In this year, 1876, Caldecott exhibited his first painting in the Royal
Academy, entitled, "There were Three Ravens sat on a Tree." The humour
and vigour of the composition are well indicated in the sketch. It was
hung rather out of sight, above (and in somewhat grim proximity with) a
picture of "At Death's Door," by Hubert Herkomer. Both artists were
then thirty years of age.


(Oil Painting) Royal Academy, 1876.

Cat. No. 415. 49 × 32.]

In the same room (Gallery V.) were collected that year, the works of
painters whose names are familiar--W. B. Richmond, A. Gow, H. R.
Robertson, E. H. Fahey, W. W. Ouless, Val C. Prinsep, Henry Moore, and


Besides "The Three Ravens" he exhibited in 1876 the metal bas-relief of
a "Horse Fair in Brittany," reproduced opposite. This was a more
masterful production than the picture, and attracted great attention in
the Royal Academy Exhibition. It was mentioned in the _Times_ of that
year, and in the _Saturday Review_, June 10th, 1876, we read:--

     "Of low relief--taking the Elgin frieze as the standard--one
     of the purest examples we have seen for many a day is Mr.
     Caldecott's bas-relief, 'A Horse Fair in Brittany.' Here a
     simple and almost rude incident in nature has been brought
     within the laws and symmetry of art."

[Illustration: "A HORSE FAIR IN BRITTANY."

Metal bas-relief exhibited in the Royal Academy, 1876.

Cat. No. 1499. Size 14 × 5-1/2 in.]

In 1876 Caldecott also produced a relief in metal of "A Boar Hunt,"
which was exhibited in the Grosvenor Gallery in 1878.

To the world at large and in the opinion of many critics, there was, in
his Academy work of 1876, promise of an exceptionally successful
career. Decorative design and modelling in relief were Caldecott's
especial forte, and it is to be regretted that so few of these works
remain to us. "The Horse Fair in Brittany," in the possession of the
writer, is one of the few completed works of this character. He was not
destined to be a prolific painter, although strongly urged at this time
by members of the Royal Academy to devote his energies to painting.
Neither his health nor his previous training justified his leaving a
branch of art in which he was already becoming famous, that of book

In 1876 the system of reproducing sketches in pen and ink by
photo-engraving became general in England, and in the pages of _Academy
Notes_ of that year there appeared, for the first time, sketches by the
painters of their exhibited works.

Amongst well-known artists--who powerfully aided in founding a system
of illustration which was destined to spread over the world--were Sir
John Gilbert, R.A., H. Stacy Marks, R.A., Marcus Stone, A.R.A., and,
the comparatively young, Randolph Caldecott. The three first-named are
masters in line each in his own style, and their methods were studied
and imitated by many other painters in England to whom line drawing was
then a sealed book. Several sketches of pictures in the _Academy
Notes_, 1876, were drawn by Caldecott, including the portrait of
Captain Burton, painted by Sir Frederick Leighton, P. R. A.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN BURTON, R.A., 1876.]

In June he made a series of illustrations, entitled "Christmas
Visitors," for the _Graphic_ newspaper; and about this time the
drawings for _Bracebridge Hall_ were finished.



In _Bracebridge Hall_ we meet the fair Julia again in one of the most
graceful illustrations Caldecott ever drew. An extract from the text is
necessary to show the subtle touch of the illustrator.

     "I have derived much pleasure," says Washington Irving,
     "from observing the fair Julia and her lover.... I observed
     them yesterday in the garden advancing along one of the
     retired walks. The sun was shining with delicious warmth,
     making great masses of bright verdure and deep blue shade.
     The cuckoo, that harbinger of spring, was faintly heard from
     a distance; the thrush piped from the hawthorn, and the
     yellow butterflies sported, and toyed and coquetted in the

     "The fair Julia was leaning on her lover's arm, listening to
     his conversation with her eyes cast down, a soft blush on
     her cheek and a quiet smile on her lips, while in the hand
     which hung negligently by her side was a bunch of flowers.
     In this way they were sauntering slowly along, and when I
     considered them, and the scenery in which they were moving,
     I could not but think it a thousand pities that the season
     should ever change or that young people should ever grow
     older, or that blossoms should give way to fruit or that
     lovers should ever get married." The harmony here between
     author and illustrator needs no comment.


There were 120 drawings made for _Bracebridge Hall_, remarkable for
artistic qualities and fully sustaining the reputation of the artist.

The originals were drawn about one third larger, in pen and ink,
photographed on wood and engraved in facsimile. The effect of many of
the drawings in the first editions was injured by the want of margin on
the printed page; but an _édition de luxe_ is now printed with _Old
Christmas_ and _Bracebridge Hall_ in one volume.


As it is the object of this memoir to record facts--and as the
originator of good ideas is seldom recognised--it should be stated
here that it is owing to Mr. Cooper, the engraver, that Washington
Irving's books were ever illustrated by Caldecott. The idea, he says in
the preface, "has been delayed in execution for many years, mainly from
the difficulty of finding an artist capable of identifying himself with
the author;" modestly adding--"whether this result has now been
attained or no, must be left to the verdict of the lovers of the gifted
writer in both hemispheres."

[Illustration: "AN EXTINGUISHER."]

The two next sketches mark with touching emphasis the serious change in
Caldecott's health which took place in the autumn of this year.

[Illustration: AT WHITCHURCH.]

In August he is writing from the country in high spirits as usual, and
planning out much work for the future. _Bracebridge Hall_ was finished,
and the success of _Old Christmas_ had brought him many commissions.
His illustrations on wood had turned out well, being fortunate in his
engravers, especially Mr. J. D. Cooper and Mr. Edmund Evans, who always
rendered his work with sympathetic care. He may also be said to have
been fortunate in his connection with the _Graphic_ newspaper under the
direction of Mr. W. L. Thomas, the artist and wood engraver.

But alas! in the autumn of this year his health failed him, and in
October he was advised to go to Buxton in Derbyshire.

On the 2nd November, 1876, he writes:--

[Illustration: AT BUXTON]

     "I am as above. Walking solemnly in the gardens, or sitting
     limply in the almost deserted saloon listening to an
     enfeebled band."

The result of that visit was a series of delightful sketches, which
appeared in the _Graphic_ newspaper, the originals of which are in the
possession of Mr. Samuel Pope, Q.C.

[Illustration: A CHRISTMAS CARD.]



The journey to the Riviera and North Italy, which Caldecott was
compelled to make for his health, before Christmas 1876, was as usual
prolific of work. Writing from Monaco in January, 1877, he says:--

"This is a beautiful place, and for the benefit of you stay-at-home
bodies I will describe it--in my way;" and in four original letters
published in the _Graphic_ newspaper in March and April, 1877, there
appeared about sixty illustrations containing upwards of three hundred
figures, different studies of life and character; and these drawings do
not represent probably, one half of the sketches made.

No such pictures of Monte Carlo and its neighbourhood had been sent
home before; they were the ideal newspaper correspondent's letters--the
sketches abounding in humour and accurate detail; the letters
accompanying them being written from personal observation.

It would have been strange indeed if these letters had not attracted
general attention and amusement in a newspaper; but they did more than
this, they revealed an amount of artistic insight, and suggested
possibilities in Caldecott's future career as an artist which his
health never permitted him to put to the test.

At Monaco and at Monte Carlo, Caldecott found so much that suited his
pencil that it is a wonder that he found time for any more serious
work. With touches of satire that remind us of Thackeray, and a gaiety
all his own, these spontaneous and delightful letters form the best
picture of Caldecott that can be given in 1877.

"Round the tables," he writes, "from noon to nearly midnight--seven
days a week--the _monde élégant_ congregates, from the Yorkshireman to
the Japanese." Then follow sketches of an Englishman in Scotch tweed,
and a young man from Japan. Next is a general sketch of the crowd at
the round table, the artist's own figure, admirably given, standing
back to us, hat in hand. It was a marvellous gathering presented on the
printed page, "all intent on gambling--editors of journals, English
justices of the peace, venerable matrons and innocent girls, beloved
sons who are 'travelling,' artistes, chevaliers of the legion of
honour, dames who are not of that legion." "Such costumes and toilettes
sweep the polished floor, such delicately-gloved fingers clutch the
glittering coins--when they happen to win, and sometimes when they
don't--such a clinking of money, as the croupiers mass the rakings."


From the fashionable crowd and the heated atmosphere of the Casino the
artist takes us along the cool shores of the Mediterranean, where, in
one of the best sketches in these letters, full of air and light, he
brings two figures into unexpected contrast. "Walking one afternoon
along the Mentone road, we reached a point commanding a fine view of
sea, hills, and olive trees. There was a stone seat, and on it an aged
round-backed man. On the wall and bench before him were spread out many
cards dotted with the results of numerous twirls of the roulette ball.
He was studying his chances for the future. As we turned away we met a
priest reading in a little book as he passed."

As the landscapes suffered in reproduction in the newspaper, and were
the least successful part in these letters, it may be well to mention
that some of Caldecott's landscape studies in oils and water colours,
on the shores of the Mediterranean, were the best he ever did,
attracting much attention at the sale of his works in 1886.

That he did not put a high estimate on his powers as a landscape
painter at that time may be gathered from a few words in a private
letter declining some commissions.

"The drawings that G. so kindly enquires about are not in my line. I
would rather not attempt to paint what I imagine he wants--proper
professional water-colour landscape painter's work.

[Illustration: "PRIEST AND PLAYER."]

"Please say that my line is to make to smile the lunatic who has shown
no sign of mirth for many months (see the _Graphic_ of Saturday last,
6th January, p. 7, right-hand column--I tumbled upon it in the reading
room of the Casino), and not to portray the beauties of this southern
clime--not but what I would if I could!"


It was in the same winter, during his journey in North Italy, that
Caldecott made twenty-eight illustrations for a book on _North Italian
Folk_.[9] Here Caldecott's studies, and his habit of sketching the
peasantry wherever he went, served him well. Take the picture of the
priest and his faithful servant Caterina; the latter, reproaching her
master for bringing home a neighbour, Maddalena, "to eat two _lasagne_
with us!" Caterina is "a gaunt threadbare-looking woman of some
five-and-thirty years, and the _prevosto_ is gaunt too, and sallow;
the two match well together. Caterina's hair is smooth though scant,
and her faded print dress is neat, but the bright yellow kerchief round
her shoulders is soiled, and the cunning plaits of her grey hair are
not as well ordered as the women's are wont to be on mass days.


     "Presently Caterina bustles into the darkened parlour, where
     sits the _prevosto_ lazily smoking his pipe and reading the
     country newspaper. He has put aside even the least of his
     clerical garments now, and lounges at ease in an old coat and
     slippers, his tonsured head covered by a battered straw hat.

     "'Listen to me,' breaks forth the faithful woman, and she is
     not careful to modulate her voice even to a semblance of
     secrecy, 'you don't bring another mouth for me to feed here
     when it is baking day again. _Per Bacco_, no indeed!... It
     sha'n't happen again, do you hear? And I have the holy wafers
     to bake besides. For shame of you! Come now to your dinner in
     the kitchen!' And Caterina, the better for this free
     expression, hastens to dish up the _minestra_.

     "'Poor old priest! What a shrew he has got in his house,'
     says some pitying reader. Yet he would not part with her for
     worlds! She is his solace and his right hand, and loves him
     none the less because of her sharp tongue and uncurbed
     speech. In many a lone and cheerless home of Italian priest
     can I call to mind such a woman as this--such a fond and
     faithful drudge, with harsh ways and a soft heart."

Another picture in _North Italian Folk_ seems to give the character of
the peasantry and the scenery exactly. "The sun glitters on the pale
sea that is down and away a mile or more beyond the sloping fields and
gardens, and the dipping valley. Giovanni pauses to rest his burthen
upon the wall just where the way turns to the right again, leaving the
mountains and chestnut-clad hills behind it."

[Illustration: THE HUSBANDMAN.]

[Illustration: GOSSIP.]

Here in the sketch we are made to feel the sunlight and the glare from
the sea on the southern slope; every detail of the pathway, to the
stones in the old wall, being accurately given.

Never, perhaps, in any book since Washington Irving's _Old Christmas_
and _Bracebridge Hall_ was the illustrator more in touch with the
author than in _North Italian Folk_; but for some reason--probably
because Caldecott's work and style had become identified with English
people and their ways, both abroad and at home--the illustrations made
little impression. The completeness of the pictures, and the local
colour infused into them by the author, left little to be done;
moreover, Caldecott was not on his own ground, and to draw buildings
and landscape in black and white, with the finish, and what is
technically called the "colour," considered necessary for a book of
this kind, was always irksome to him.

Less characteristic, but charming as a drawing, is the group of country
girls under the cherry trees, reproduced on the opposite page. It is a
picture worth having for its own sake, whether it aid the text or not,
and one with which we may fitly leave this volume.

[Illustration: "DIGNITY AND IMPUDENCE."]


Early in the year 1877 Caldecott made several drawings for an
illustrated catalogue of the National Gallery. Amongst the best in the
English section were the two sketches from Sir Edwin Landseer's
pictures, reproduced here. The grave portrait of an old bloodhound in
"Dignity and Impudence," and the animation and movement in the
diminutive poodle by his side, are indicated in a few expressive
lines. The bright eyes of the two little spaniels of King Charles's
breed glitter under his hand in the original pen and ink sketch.


For the foreign section of the book on the National Gallery he made
many sketches, notably one of the "Portrait of a Lawyer" by Moroni.
Here the touch and method of line are different; quality was more
considered, and an attempt made to give something of the effect of the

But neither he, nor those with whom he worked in those days, had
mastered the best methods of drawing for mechanical reproduction, as
they are understood now; fascinating as it seemed to him, and to many
other illustrators also, to learn that the time had come when, by
mechanical--or more properly chemical--engraving, the touch of the pen
could be printed on the page.

It may be said generally in 1877, that Caldecott disliked drawing for
"process," and that after years of experience, and having achieved most
successful results by photographic engraving, he remained faithful to
the wood engraver. The delicate little drawings in brown ink, which
were dispersed in hundreds under the auctioneer's hammer in June, 1886,
had nearly all been photographed on to wood blocks.

In June, 1877, Caldecott--staying at Shaldon, Teignmouth, South Devon,
for the benefit of his health, chafing under enforced idleness and
"debarred by the doctors from all sport," as he says--writes a letter
with the following little sketch of "Waiting for a Boat."

[Illustration: "WAITING FOR A BOAT."]

     "The weather has been unwell for many of the days, and has
     much interfered with the intellectual occupation of enticing
     'dabs' on to hooks let down into the sea by pieces of string
     and concealed by shreds of mussels.

     "On only one occasion have I been engaged in this exciting
     pursuit--all chases and pursuits are more or less
     exciting--but this one on that account can hardly be
     considered 'detrimental' to my health. There were three of us
     in the boat when I engaged in the sport. We had a large can
     of fine mussels. We threw out the lines and hauled them in
     every now and then, for three good hours, being about a mile
     out to sea. Two whole dabs were the result. I was quite calm
     as we rowed home.

     "I do not boast of this exploit, although the larger dab was
     at least seven inches long by four and a half wide, and fully
     3/8 of an inch thick. Still I glow a little as I recount his

Many illustrations were made in the autumn of 1877 for the _Graphic_
and other publications which need not be detailed. A painting of one of
his favourite hunting scenes was also in progress, in spite of dark
days and delicate health.


[Illustration: "CLEOPATRA."]



For Mr. Frederick Locker-Lampson, the poet, Caldecott made in the years
1877-8, twelve drawings to illustrate _Bramble Rise_, _A Winter
Phantasy_, _My Neighbour Rose_, and other verses. These illustrations,
most delicately drawn in pen and ink, have not yet been published. One
was used in 1881 in a privately printed edition of the _London Lyrics_,
and three in 1883, in a little volume of the _Lyrics_ printed by the
"Book Fellows Club" in New York. Caldecott afterwards made four
illustrations for Mrs. Locker-Lampson's child's book, _What the
Blackbird Said_, and two years afterwards, in 1882, an illustration to
her _Greystoke Hall_. These two books are published by Messrs.

In 1878 he exhibited his picture of "The Three Huntsmen" riding home in
evening light. It was hung rather high in Gallery VII. at the Royal
Academy Exhibition, and technically could hardly be pronounced a
success; but it was a distinct advance on previous exhibited work, and
drew the serious attention of critics to Caldecott as a painter. The
sketch appeared in an article on the Academy in _L'Art_, vol. xx. p.
211. Of this oil painting, Mr. Mundella, the late President of the
Board of Trade writes:--

     "The picture was bought by me of poor Caldecott in 1878. I
     think it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in that year,
     but I bought it from his easel. It is an oil painting, 3 ft.
     6 in. by 2 ft. 9 in., and the subject is the 'Three
     Huntsmen.' I remember his bringing the song to my house
     after the purchase, and reading the song with great
     enjoyment, pointing out to us how he had illustrated the
     verse, 'We hunted and we holloed till the setting of the
     sun.' My little granddaughter (Millais' 'Dorothy Thorpe')
     was his model for several of his Christmas books. She is the
     little girl in _Sing a Song of Sixpence_ and several others,
     and possesses copies sent by him with little sketches and
     dedications. He is indeed a national loss."


Royal Academy, 1878.]

In the Grosvenor Gallery of the same year Caldecott exhibited a small
metal bas-relief of "A Boar Hunt," of which he made the following
sketch in _Grosvenor Notes_.

[Illustration: "A BOAR HUNT" (BAS-RELIEF). Grosvenor Gallery, 1878.

No. 232. 8 in. × 18 in.]

Special interest attaches to this design, also to "The Horse Fair in
Brittany," reproduced on page 137, for the insight it gives of
Caldecott's varied artistic powers, which, by force of circumstances,
were always held in reserve. If, as a writer remarks, "The treatment of
reliefs is a test of the state of a school of sculpture," these
examples may help to "place" Caldecott amongst contemporary artists.

Early in 1878, Mr. Edmund Evans, the wood engraver, came to him with a
proposal that he should illustrate some books for children to be
printed in colours. The plan was soon decided upon, and the first of
the _Picture Books_ was begun. In the summer of the same year,
Caldecott went with the writer for a second time to Brittany.

It was at first intended to take a gig and drive through and through
the country, giving an account of adventures from day to day, and
Caldecott (who was more at home perhaps, in a gig than in any other
position of life) favoured the idea; but time and other circumstances

The next proposal was to give a general description of the country and
its people, its churches and ruined castles, as they exist to-day. But
Caldecott did not take to this idea; he never in his lifetime drew
buildings with the same facility as figures, and, at that time, to
attempt to make drawings of chateaux, cathedrals and the like, would
have been unsuccessful. So the book, _Brittany Picturesque_, which had
already been partly written, was laid aside to give space for sketches
of _Breton Folk_.[10]

[Illustration: "THE TRAP."]

"We obtained a trap in a few days"--not the gig, independent of a
driver, which Caldecott always sighed for. His delight and high spirits
on the first journey, in 1874, are seen in the sketch where he is
waving farewell to some astonished peasantry. To be "on the road" was
always a pleasure to Caldecott, from the "old Whitchurch days," which
he often described to his friends--driving home in the dark at reckless
speed after a late supper, in a dog-cart full of rather uproarious
company--down to 1885 at Frensham, when as host, he would drive his
friends in the lanes of Surrey.

At least 200 sketches must have been made in these journeys; besides
jottings of heads, figures and the like, and several drawings in water


The summer fêtes and "pardons," all through the country, furnished
capital material for his pencil, the women's caps of different
districts were each recorded, and here and there a solemn suggestive
landscape noted for a picture which was never to be completed.


The circumstances under which some of the sketches were made is
indicated on page 171.

One of the first drawings made in Brittany, both in colour and black
and white (a scene of which Caldecott was always desirous of making a
finished picture), was the buckwheat harvest, with the women at work in
the fields. Many similar scenes were put down in note-books, many were
the studies of clouds careering over the wind-blown land, which were
never engraved or published.

[Illustration: A WAYSIDE CROSS.]

Two of the principal events in these journeys were visits to a horse
fair at Le Folgoet, and to a cattle fair at Carhaix, where Caldecott
made the following sketches:--

"Le Folgoet is in the north of Finisterre, in the north-west corner of
Brittany. The country is for the most part flat and dreary in aspect;
a few fields of buckwheat, corn, and rye are passed on the road,
protected by banked-up hedges, and skirted by pollard trees.


"On the road as we approach the fair, a mile and a half from the town,
is a characteristic figure, a barefooted _gamin_ with red cap and grey
jersey trotting out an old chestnut mare." As he stops and turns to
look back, he is thus rapidly recorded in a sketch.


Apart from the artistic material so abundant everywhere, Caldecott's
love for animals and knowledge of them, his interest in everything
connected with farming, markets, country life and surroundings, roused
him to exertions at Carhaix which none but the most hardy "special
artist" would have attempted.

It was an exciting time for Caldecott, both on the road and at the
fair; materials for his pencil were everywhere, and for three days
there was little rest.


Carhaix being in the centre of Brittany, far remote from railways, had
special attractions in the variety of character and costume. Here, weak
in health as Caldecott then was, he stood and worked all day, being
especially interested in the trotting out and sale of horses. Turning
to our diary:--

     "The horse fair was held in a large square or _place_. Under
     the trees was a crowd of men and women in the dust and heat;
     horses, cattle, pigs and dogs, in confused movement; with
     much drinking and shouting at the booths which lined one
     side of the enclosure."

[Illustration: A TYPICAL BRETON.]

[Illustration: A BRETONNE.]

It was in this year (1878) that he made some extraordinarily rapid
sketches in colour with the brush direct, without a touch of the pencil
or anything to guide him on the paper. Few sketches of this kind exist,
excepting rough notes in books not intended for publication. In the
evening the figures in the streets and at the inns had to be noted

The next day, which Caldecott called "a rest," was devoted to visiting
two farms in the neighbourhood, seeing as much as possible of the
interiors of the old houses near Carhaix, with their carved bedsteads,
cabinets and clocks, old brasswork and embroideries. It was a rather
anxious time for his travelling companion, for there was no restraining
Caldecott with such material before him, and he was overworked.

It was in this district that he made one of his most successful
sketches; a typical Breton (p. 177), in ancient costume with long
hair and knee breeches; a figure rarely met with in these days.

In the south-west corner of Brittany, a few miles south of Quimperlé,
at a point where the river spreads out into a narrow estuary four miles
from the sea, is the primitive little village called appropriately Pont

Caldecott was much amused, and scandalised at the aspect of the village
on our arrival one afternoon; a scene which he thus records on a
letter, and afterwards drew for _Breton Folk_.


Writing from Pont Aven and recounting "the places which we have
visited, done, sketched, interviewed and memorandumed"--he adds:--

     "On this journey I have seen more pleasing types of Bretons
     (and Bretonnes, especially) than in my former rambles in the
     Côtes du Nord; but there is generally something wrong about
     each hotel. This particular inn is comfortable. Seven
     Americans, two or three of them ladies, and about four French
     people dined with us, mostly of the artist persuasion.

[Illustration: A CAP OF FINISTERRE.]

     "The village and the river sides, the meadows and the valleys
     reek with artists. A large gang pensions at another inn here.

     "On approaching Pont Aven the traveller notices a curious
     noise rising from the ground and from the woods around him.
     It is the flicking of the paint brushes on the canvasses of
     the hardworking painters who come into view seated in leafy
     nooks and shady corners. These artists go not far from the
     town where is cider, billiards and tobacco."


One of the best of Caldecott's sketches here was "Returning from
Labour," a quiet spot on the banks of the Aven where he made several

     "Here we feel inclined for the first time to stay and
     sketch, wandering along the coast to the fishing villages,
     and visiting farms and homesteads."

From another inn, in an "out of the way" part of Finisterre, he

     "The Hotel du Midi where we put up is conducted in a simple
     manner; ladies would not like its arrangements. Several
     inhabitants, and a visitor or two, dine at the table d'hôte,
     but all are unable to carve a duck excepting the English
     visitor, who is accordingly put down as a cook."

Many works, such as the frieze of a horse fair (p. 137), models in
terra cotta and paintings, were the outcome of the Brittany journeys in
1874 and 1878; but Caldecott did not give himself a chance to do what
he wished in France; other work crowded upon him in 1878, and before he
had time to finish the sketches for _Breton Folk_, he had to return to
London to complete drawings for his _Picture Books_, and other work in
hand for the _Graphic_ newspaper.

[Illustration: A BRETON.]

In a letter from London, received at the Abbey of St. Jacut in Brittany
on the 29th August, 1878, he says:--

     "I have not been able to settle well down to work yet.
     Sitting about on hotel benches for a month with Mr.
     Blackburn is unhinging. * * * "I fancied somehow that, after
     the wild career of dissipation in other parts of Brittany,
     he might find the calm of a cloister insufficiently
     exciting, and consequently might drag you round to more
     lively places. I am glad that I am wrong."

The drawings of the "Family Horse," (of "Cleopatra" on page 165,)
the sketch in Woburn Park, and several others, were made when on a
visit in the neighbourhood in October 1878. A letter referring to his
visit to Woburn says:--"On the last evening of Mr. Caldecott's visit
here, he was sitting at the dining-room table with the two little boys
on his knees, and the rest of the family standing round him. We asked
him to draw us each something, and he made us choose our own subjects.
The sketch of himself riding in the park is one of them; it amused him
very much to see the deer standing gazing at us."

[Illustration: "A FAMILY HORSE."]


At another time there comes a coloured birthday card to a child in
London who was fond of flowers; a dark red carnation the size of life,
presented by a Lilliputian figure in old-fashioned green coat, with
white frill and periwig.

[Illustration: A CARNATION.]

Side by side with Caldecott's missives to little children might be
printed many a kindly letter to a young author who had sent him
manuscripts to read. These letters had to be read and answered always
in the evenings. A long letter of this kind was written to a lady at
Didsbury, near Manchester, in 1878, from which the following extracts
are taken[11]:--

     "DEAR MISS M.,--Your packet reached me safely, and as I call
     to mind very readily my feelings in times gone by, after I
     had posted a piece of literary or artistic composition to
     some friend acquainted with the dread editor of some
     magazine, or even to the dread editor himself, I think it
     only your due that I should write to you without delay about
     the sketches of country life which you have kindly allowed
     me to read, and my opinion of which you flatter me by
     desiring to know. You asked me for my candid opinion; in
     these cases I always try to be candid.... I think that your
     papers are, as they stand, hardly interesting enough for the
     mass of readers, though to me they draw out pictures which
     please, and also revive old associations.... Their fault,
     however, if I may speak of faults, is not so much in subject
     as in style. You have chosen simple subjects, in which is no
     harm of course; but simple subjects in all kinds of art
     require a masterly hand to delineate them. The slightest
     awkwardness of execution is noticed, and mars the simplicity
     of the whole. When a thrilling story is told, or a very
     interesting and novel operation described, faults of style
     are overlooked during the excitement of hearing or reading.
     Is it not so?...

                                    "R. C."

In another letter some remarks on the misuse of old English words (a
subject on which he says, "I am very ignorant") are worth recording.

     "As regards the misuse of certain words, I consult the
     authorities when a doubt crosses my mind, and I find with
     sorrow, in which I am joined by other anxious spirits, that
     the English language is being ruined, chiefly by journalists,
     English and American. Words of good old nervous meaning,
     because common, are discarded for words of less force but
     finer sound, borrowed from other tongues. The use of these
     new words is often a difficulty to all but classical
     scholars, for the pronunciation, the accent, the quantities,
     are varied even amongst equally educated people.

     "On the introduction of a new word there is always a halo of
     pedantry about it. Some admire the halo and adopt the word.
     The journalists cuddle it. The readers ask what it means,
     think it sounds rather fine--perhaps genteel--throw over the
     humble friend who has done them and their conservative
     forefathers such good service.

     "The poor ill-used old fellow of a word then only finds
     friends amongst the lowly and the loyal; and if in course of
     time the usurping word, as he rolls by in his carriage and
     footmen, hears the former wearer of his honours come out from
     the passing pedestrians, he curls his proud lip, pulls up his
     haughty collar, distends his Grecian nose, and wonders where
     vulgar people will go to--albeit this vulgar word is better
     born, and has a higher instep than the carriage word."

In the late Autumn of 1878 Caldecott is again in the south of France,
sending home letters--one with a portrait of himself (back view),
seated next to a young lady, "whose father is rather deaf."

[Illustration: Hôtel Gray et d'Albion Cannes, 15 Nov. 1878.]

"I have come here," he says, "in order that rheumatism may forget me
and not recognise me on return to Albion's shores. * * *

"I open my bag and take out your letter of 20th November, 1877, which
has been ready at hand for reply ever since I received it with a
welcome. Letters ought always to be replied to within the twelve

[Illustration: AT MENTONE.]



From the Riviera in 1879 came the following pictures in letters to

     "This hotel is indeed a calm spot, but the food is good, and
     I have a pleasant little room or two, where I can work
     comfortably. I know the inhabitant of one villa here, an
     American; and I think there are two people whom I know in an
     hotel, so when I feel very lonely I shall hunt them up. There
     is much snow on the rocky hills near the town, and the
     weather is rather cold, but the aspect of everything around
     (nearly) is very fine and worth coming to see."

In another letter he sends the following sketch of himself at table in
the vast _salle à manger_ of the hotel.[12]


                              "SPLENDIDE HOTEL, MENTON,

                                    "_11th January, 1879_.

     "DEAR ----,--The above view will give you a more correct
     idea of the _splendour_ of this hotel than a page of
     writing, I think, could possibly do. It represents our
     _table d'hôte_ last night. I fled yesterday from Cannes,
     which--although called a very quiet place by most
     visitors--I found to be too lively for one who has much work
     to do and a desire to do it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Much drawing was accomplished in the spring of this year, both abroad,
and on return to London. The success of his first Picture Books (on
which he writes, "I get a small, small royalty") was beyond all
expectation, and the _Elegy of a Mad Dog_ was now in progress.



From _Punch_, August 2nd, 1879.]

Writing on the 20th June, in the wet summer of 1879, from 5, Langham
Chambers, Portland Place (a studio that he had taken temporarily from
an artist friend, Mr. W. J. Hennessy), he heads the letter with the
sketch on page 192, which is interesting as the first idea for the
drawing which appeared in _Punch_ on the 2nd August, 1879, reproduced
on the preceding page by permission of the proprietors.


The Property of Mr. Armstrong.]

The illustration on the opposite page is an example of Caldecott in a
style which will be new to most readers. The book plate was drawn for
an old and intimate friend in Manchester, and it is curious to note
how closely the style of the family crest is followed in its various
details. If it were not for certain satirical touches this ingenious
design might easily pass for the work of other hands; the touch and
treatment have little in common with Caldecott as he is known; but the
artistic completeness of the little book plate is another evidence of
his power as a designer.



In September Caldecott modelled some birds, forming part of the
capitals of pillars for Sir Frederick Leighton's 'Arab Hall' in his
house at Kensington. They were done for the architect, Mr. G.
Aitchison, A.R.A. Besides these he was at work on other modelling; one
subject (the outcome of his Brittany travels) is given on page 194.

In 1879 he took a small house, with an old-fashioned garden, at
Kemsing, near Sevenoaks. This was his first country home, "an
out-of-the-way place," as he expressed it, "but exactly right for me."
Here, surrounded by his four-footed friends, he could indulge his
liking and love for the country.


Writing to a young friend on the 13th October, he sends the

     "I am just now obliged to decline invitations to go and be
     merry with friends at a distance, because I am now living in
     this quiet, out-of-the-way village in order to make some
     studies of animals--to wit, horses, dogs, and other human
     beings--which I wish to use for the works that I shall be
     busy with during the coming winter.

     "I have a mare--dark chestnut--who goes very well in
     harness, and is very pleasant to ride; and a little puppy--a
     comical young dachshund. My man calls the mare 'Peri,' so I
     call the puppy Lalla Rookh."

In a letter to his friend Mr. Locker-Lampson, written about this time,
in 1880, he expresses surprise at not hearing from America respecting
certain drawings by Miss Kate Greenaway and himself, which had been
sent across the Atlantic to be engraved on wood. "I wonder why?" he
says--[The rest is reproduced opposite].

Caldecott was soon found out in his country home, his wide reputation
as an illustrator bringing him ever-increasing work, some "not very


At this time he was taxing his energies to the utmost, working a long
morning always indoors, and afterwards making studies in the garden or
in the country; the evening occupied by reading and correspondence.


But he found time always--and until the end--to remember and to write
to his old and dear friends. One more extract (the last in this book)
from a letter from Venice, to an invalid friend in Manchester in

     "I am sorry to hear that you are so lame," he says. "I wish
     you had been with us in Venice--the going to and fro in
     gondolas would have suited you well. Easy, smooth, and
     soul-subduing--especially by moonlight and when the ear is
     filled with the rich notes of a very uncommon gondolier's
     voice and the twanging of a sentimental traveller's lute.

     "On the 18th of March we were married at a small church in
     Kent--my best man drove me in a dog-cart. I sold him my mare
     on the way, and she came to sad grief with him!"


The letters after this date refer to a period in Caldecott's art which
must be considered at a future time. Only two remembrances of his later
years shall be recorded now; one of him at Kemsing, seated in his
old-fashioned garden on a fine summer's afternoon (after hard work from
nine till two) surrounded by his friends and four-footed playmates--a
garden where the birds, and even the flowers, lived unrestrained.

     "Where woodbines wander, and the wallflower pushes
       Its way alone;
     And where, in wafts of fragrance, sweetbriar-bushes
       Make themselves known.
     With banks of violets for southern breezes
       To seek and find,
     And trellis'd jessamine that trembles in
       The summer wind.
     Where clove-carnations overgrow the places
       Where they were set,
     And, mist-like, in the intervening spaces
       Creeps mignonette."

The other and a later remembrance of Caldecott is at a gathering of
friends in Victoria Street, Westminster, in January, 1885, when--to a
good old English tune--the "lasses and lads," out of his _Picture
Book_, danced before him, and the fiddler, in the costume of the time,
"played it wrong."




It will be seen in the preceding pages that it was the privilege of the
writer to know Caldecott intimately before he had made a name, when his
heart and hands were free, so to speak; when he was untrammelled by
much sense of responsibility, or by the necessity of keeping up a
reputation, and when every day, almost, recorded some new experiment or
achievement in his art. Let it be stated here that not at that time,
nor ever afterwards in the writer's hearing, was a word said against
Caldecott. With a somewhat wide and exceptional experience of the
personality of artists, it can be said with truth that Caldecott was "a
man of whom all spoke well." His presence then, as in later years,
seemed to dispel all jealousies, if they ever existed, and to scatter
evil spirits if they ever approached him. No wonder--for was he not the
very embodiment of sweetness, simple-mindedness, generosity, and

From the sketch on page 1 of this book, made in the smoke of
Manchester, to the "New Year's Greeting" on p. 203, the same happy,
joyous spirit is evident; and so, to those who knew him, he remained to
the end.

As this memoir has to do with Caldecott's earlier career, and
particularly with his work in black and white, the artistic value of
his illustrations in colour, especially in his _Picture Books_, can
only be hinted at here.

_Caldecott's Picture Books_ are known all over the world; they have
been widely discussed and criticised, and they form undoubtedly the
best monument to his memory. But it may be found that some of the best
work he ever did (the work least open to criticism) was in 1874 and
1875, before these books were begun; and that the material here
collected will aid in forming a better estimate of Caldecott as an

In March, 1883 there appeared a little oblong _Sketch Book_ with canvas
cover, full of original and delightful illustrations, many in colour,
engraved and printed by Edmund Evans. This book is not very widely
known, but there are drawings in it of great personal interest, now
that the artist's hand is still. The _Sketch Book_ suggests many
thoughts and calls up many associations to those who knew him.

In 1883 he illustrated _Æsop's Fables_ with "Modern Instances"
(referred to on page 94).

The kind of work that Caldecott liked best, and of which he would have
been an artistic and delightful exponent had circumstances permitted,
is indicated in the design at the head of the preface to this volume;
it was drawn on brown paper, probably for a wood carving in relief, for
the central panel of a mantelpiece. This sketch is selected from
several designs of a similar kind.

In purely journalistic work, for which his powers seemed eminently
fitted, he was never at home, his heart was not in it. Neither on
_Punch_ nor on the _Graphic_ newspaper, would he have engaged to work
regularly. He would do anything on an emergency to aid a friend--or a
foe, if he had known one--but neither health nor inclination led him in
that direction. And yet Caldecott, of all contemporary artists, owed
his wide popularity to the wood engraver, to the maker of colour
blocks, and to the printing press. No artist before him had such
chances of dispersing facsimiles of daintily coloured illustrations
over the world. All this must be considered when his place in the
century of artists is written.

Mr. Clough touches a true note in the following (from the _Manchester

     "If the art, tender and true as it is, be not of the
     highest, yet the artist is expressed in his work as perhaps
     few others have been. Nothing to be regretted--all of the
     clearest--an open-air, pure life--a clean soul. Wholesome as
     the England he loved so well. Manly, tolerant, and patient
     under suffering. None of the friends he made did he let go.
     No envy, malice, or uncharitableness spoiled him; no social
     flattery or fashionable success, made him forget those he
     had known in the early years."

Speaking generally of his friend Caldecott, whom he had known
intimately in later years, Mr. Locker-Lampson (to whom we are indebted
for the letters and sketches on pages 191, 192, and 199),

     "It seems to me that Caldecott's art was of a quality that
     appears about once in a century. It had delightful
     characteristics most happily blended. He had a delicate
     fancy, and his humour was as racy as it was refined. He had
     a keen sense of beauty, and, to sum up all, he had _charm_.
     His old-world youths and maidens are perfect. The men are so
     simple and so manly, the maidens are so modest and so
     trustful: The latter remind one of the country girl in that
     quaint old ballad,

         "'He stopt and gave my cheek a pat,
           He told a tender tale,
         Then stole a kiss, but what of that?
           'Twas Willie of the Dale!'

     "Poor Caldecott! His friends were much attached to him. He
     had feelings, and ideas, and manners, which made him welcome
     in any society; but alas, all was trammelled, not obscured,
     by deplorably bad health."

These two criticisms--both coming from friends of the artist, but from
different points of view--are worth setting side by side in a memoir.

A correspondent, writing from Manchester, sends the following
interesting letter respecting places sketched by Caldecott in Cheshire
and Shropshire and afterwards used in the illustrations in his books.

     "During occasional rambles in this and the neighbouring
     county of Chester, more especially in the neighbourhood of
     Whitchurch, I have been interested in the identification of
     some few of the original scenes pictured by Mr. Caldecott in
     his several published drawings. Thus:--

     "Malpas Church, which occupies the summit of a gentle hill
     some six miles from Whitchurch, occurs frequently--as in a
     full page drawing in the _Graphic_ newspaper for Christmas,
     1883; in _Babes in the Wood_, p. 19; in _Baby Bunting_, p.
     20; and in _The Fox Jumps over the Parson's Gate_, p. 5.

     "The main street of Whitchurch is fairly pictured in the
     _Great Panjandrum_, p. 6, whilst the old porch of the Blue
     Bell portrayed on p. 28 of _Old Christmas_ is identical with
     that of the Bell Inn at Lushingham, situated some two miles
     from Whitchurch on the way to Malpas.

     "Besides these I recognise in the 'Old Stone-house,
     Lingborough Hall,' in _Lob Lie-by-the-Fire_, p. 5, an
     accurate line-for-line sketch of Barton Hall, an ancient
     moated mansion which until quite recently stood within the
     parish of Eccles, four miles from Manchester.

     "Lastly, a comparison of the illustration on p. 95 of _Old
     Christmas_, with one in last year's volume of the _English
     Illustrated Magazine_, p. 466, shows that the picturesque
     nooks of Sussex, equally with those of Kent and Chester,
     yielded their quota to the busy pencil we know so well."

About the year 1879 Caldecott became acquainted with Mrs. Ewing, which
led to his making many illustrations for her, such as the design for
the cover of _Aunt Judy's Magazine_, and notably the illustrations to
that "book of books" for boys, "_Jackanapes_," and to "_Daddy Darwin's
Dovecot_," and others.

Miss Gatty, in her memoir of Mrs. Ewing, says:--

     "My sister was in London in June, 1879, and then made the
     acquaintance of Mr. Caldecott, for whose illustrations she
     had unbounded admiration. This introduction led us to ask
     him (when _Jackanapes_ was still simmering in Julie's brain)
     if he would supply a coloured illustration for it. But as
     the tale was only written a very short time before it
     appeared, and as the illustration was wanted early and
     colours take long to print, Julie could not send the story
     to be read, but asked Caldecott to draw her a picture to fit
     one of the scenes in it. The one she suggested was a
     fair-haired boy on a red-haired pony, thinking of one of her
     own nephews, a skilful seven-year-old rider who was
     accustomed to follow the hounds."

Looking back, but a few months only, at the passing away of two such
lives--the author of "_Jackanapes_" and the illustrator of the
"_Picture Books_" (of whom it was well said lately, "they have gone to
Heaven together")--the loss seems incalculable.

In the history of the century, the best and purest books and the
brightest pages ever placed before children will be recorded between
1878 and 1885; and no words would seem more in touch with the lives
and aims of these lamented artists than a concluding sentence in
_Jackanapes_, that--their works are "a heritage of heroic example and
noble obligation."

The grace and beauty, and wealth of imagination in Caldecott's
work,--conspicuous to the end,--form a monument which few men in the
history of illustrative art have raised for themselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here may end fittingly the memoir of his earlier work. At a future time
more may be written, and many delightful reminiscences recorded, of the
years from the time of his marriage on the 18th March, 1880, to his
lamented death at St. Augustine, in Florida, on the 12th February,
1886; when--in the sympathetic lines which appeared in _Punch_ on the
27th February, 1886:--

     "All that flow of fun, and all
       That fount of charm found in his fancy,
     Are stopped! Yet will he hold us thrall
       By his fine art's sweet necromancy,
     Children and seniors many a year;
       For long 'twill be ere a new-comer,
     Fireside or nursery holdeth dear
       As him whose life ceased in its summer."



The following is a list of Caldecott's _Picture Books_ with the dates
of publication. Besides the ordinary shilling books, several collected
volumes of his _Pictures and Songs_, also Pictures collected from the
_Graphic_ newspaper, have been issued by the same publishers.

Caldecott's Picture Books.

     THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT              } 1878
     JOHN GILPIN                            }

     ELEGY ON A MAD DOG                     } 1879
     THE BABES IN THE WOOD                  }

     THREE JOVIAL HUNTSMEN                  } 1880
     SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE                }

     THE QUEEN OF HEARTS                    } 1881
     THE FARMER'S BOY                       }

     THE MILKMAID                           } 1882
     HEY-DIDDLE-DIDDLE, THE                 }
       CAT AND THE FIDDLE; and              }
       BABY BUNTING                         }

     THE FOX JUMPS OVER THE                 } 1883
       PARSON'S GATE                        }
     A FROG HE WOULD A-WOOING GO            }

     COME, LASSES AND LADS                  } 1884
       HIS GREY MARE                        }

     MRS. MARY BLAIZE                       } 1885


Some of

Æsop's Fables.

With "Modern Instances."

Shown in designs by R. CALDECOTT.



_Price Seven Shillings and Sixpence._

A Sketch-Book,


Reproduced by EDMUND EVANS the Engraver and Printer.




_Price Three Shillings and Sixpence._

Breton Folk.

With One Hundred and Seventy Illustrations





_Price Ten Shillings and Sixpence._

       *       *       *       *       *


[Footnote 1: The drawing, _A Debating Society_, was very well engraved
on wood by J. D. Cooper, and appeared in _London Society_ in 1871, v.
xx. p. 417; it is now reproduced on a larger scale by a mechanical
process of photo-engraving. Experts in drawing for book illustration
may be interested to compare results.]

[Footnote 2: In a private letter to the writer of this memoir, dated
2nd November, 1876, Caldecott says:--"Pen can never put down how much I
owe, in many ways, to T. A."]

[Footnote 3: _The Harz Mountains, a Tour in the Toy Country_, by Henry
Blackburn. London: Sampson Low and Co., 1872.]

[Footnote 4: This, and other similar sketches, caused amusement in some
circles and offence in others, at Berlin, where it was stated
erroneously that the artist had caricatured some well-known personages
who came annually to Goslar to drink the waters, and an arrangement to
publish a translation of the _Harz Mountains_ into German fell through
in consequence.]

[Footnote 5: Amongst the young artists in the art department of
_Harper's Magazine_ in 1873, was E. A. Abbey, the well-known
illustrator of old English subjects; in later years a great friend and
ally of Caldecott.]

[Footnote 6: The drawings in the _Daily Graphic_ in New York were all
reproduced by photo-lithography, and printed at the lithographic

[Footnote 7: It was more than once suggested to Caldecott to paint this
scene. It would probably have been attempted had circumstances

[Footnote 8: The medallion at the head of this letter was designed by
Sir Frederick Burton and afterwards redrawn for the Arts Club by E. J.
Poynter, R.A.]

[Footnote 9: _North Italian Folk_, by Mrs. Comyns Carr. London: Chatto
and Windus, 1878.]

[Footnote 10: _Breton Folk_, by Henry Blackburn, with 170 illustrations
by R. Caldecott. London: Sampson Low and Co., 1880.]

[Footnote 11: This letter was printed in the _Manchester City News_, 20
February, 1886.]

[Footnote 12: The portrait of Caldecott at the beginning of this
volume, is from a photograph taken at Cannes in January, 1879.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Some illustrations were moved from their original positions to avoid
breaking up paragraphs of text. Made minor punctuation corrections and
the following change:

Page 156: Deleted duplicate "in".
  (Orig: "'Poor old priest! What a shrew he has got in in his house,')

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