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Title: Four Hundred Humorous Illustrations - With Portrait and Biographical Sketch
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Four Hundred Humorous Illustrations - With Portrait and Biographical Sketch" ***

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



FOUR HUNDRED HUMOROUS ILLUSTRATIONS

By John Leech

With Portrait and Biographical Sketch.

1868



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

John Leech was born in London, on the 29th August, 1817. His father,
John Leech, was an Irishman, a man of fine culture, and a good
Shakespearean scholar. He was the landlord of the London Coffee House on
Ludgate Hill, one of the most important of the city hotels at that time.
For a while the father was successful in his vocation, but ultimately,
through financial embarrassment, was obliged to give up the hotel.

The father was a man of real ability, possessing considerable skill
with the pencil, and from him, no doubt, the son inherited his special
talent. And, again, on the mother's side there was relationship with the
great scholar Richard Bentley, so that on both sides of the house
young Leech had considerable advantages so far as mental heredity was
concerned.

At a very early age the mother observed the extraordinary aptitude for
drawing that her boy possessed, and did all in her power to encourage
it. When young Leech was only three years old, he was found by the
family friend, the great artist, Flaxman, seated on his mother's knee,
drawing with much gravity. The sculptor pronounced his sketch to be
remarkable, and gave the following advice:--"Do not let him be cramped
with lessons in drawing, but let his genius follow its own bent. He will
astonish the world." A few years after this, some more of the youthful
artist's drawings were shown to the celebrated sculptor, and, after
examination, he said--"The boy must be an artist; he will be nothing
else or less."

At seven, the boy was sent to Charterhouse. This early departure from
home was, of course, a sore trial to the fond mother, who was bound up
in her child, but, knowing that it was for her son's future welfare,
she threw no obstacles in the way of his departure from home. She was,
however, resolved that somehow she would see her child frequently. With
this object she hired a room in one of the houses commanding a view of
the playground, and there frequently she sat behind a blind, happy
in getting an occasional glimpse of her boy--sometimes at play, and
sometimes strolling about in the grounds with his school mates. During
his stay of nine years at Charterhouse, the boy did not distinguish
himself in classical studies. Indeed, all that can be said, is that he
acquired a thoroughly sound English education. He was, however, liked
by everyone at school for his good temper and winning ways. Among his
fellow pupils was the famous William Makepeace Thackeray, with whom he
formed a warm friendship that lasted throughout life.

At sixteen years of age, young Leech left Charterhouse, and,
notwithstanding Flaxman's advice that the boy should follow the
profession of an artist, his father put him to the medical profession at
St. Bartholomew's, under Mr Stanley, the surgeon of the Hospital. After
a time he was placed under Mr Whittle, an eccentric practitioner at
Hoxton, and subsequently under Dr John Cockle, afterwards physician to
the Royal Free Hospital. Throughout his various situations, young Leech
become famous among his fellow students and friends for his extremely
clever--and, at the same time, always good-natured--caricatures. He was
for ever drawing scenes, characters, and incidents in daily life. About
this time, young Leech's liking for horses probably received its first
development, through his friendship with Mr Charles Adams. Mr Adams
was the owner of two horses which it was his delight to drive tandem
fashion, and in his excursions Leech was his constant companion. To this
circumstance we are, no doubt, partially indebted for many of the clever
bits of driving and country road life depicted by the pencil of the
artist. At this early period of his career, Leech made numerous life
friendships with men who afterwards became distinguished. Notable among
these men were Albert Smith and Percival Leigh.

At eighteen years of age, Leech published his first work, entitled
"Etchings and Sketchings by A. Pen, Esq." It was a small work of four
quarto sheets. As he got more and more engrossed in artistic work, the
young student seems to have gradually given up his medical studies, and
to have resolved to live by his pencil. In course of time he turned his
attention to lithography, and, having drawn pictures upon lithographic
stones, he has been known to spend many a weary day in carrying such
heavy stones from publisher to publisher in search of a buyer. But as
his fame increased, the difficulty of getting remunerative employment
rapidly diminished. A good deal of Leech's early work, among other
things, was in connection with _Bell's Life in London_, the best-known
sporting paper of the time. Here he was associated with Cruikshank,
Madons, "Phiz," and Seymour. It was when at work for _Bell's Life_ that
he first imbibed a taste for field sports, which developed into a strong
feature in his pictorial career. He joined the hounds in Herefordshire,
where Millais became his fellow pupil in acquiring the arts of the
chase. Among the schemes of drollery that our artist participated in
about this time was the _Comic Latin Grammar_, Leigh contributing the
text, and Leech the illustrations. This was followed by the _Comic
English Grammar_, and likewise by the _Children of the Mobility_, a
parody on a well-known work devoted to the serious glorification of our
juvenile aristocracy.

But in August of 1841 Leech began the great work of his life--a work,
indeed, which he never quitted but with life--namely, his connection
with _Punch_. The first number of _Punch_ was issued on the 17th July,
1841, and Leech's first contribution to it appeared on the 7th August,
in the fourth number. For about twenty years, it may be said, he was its
leading spirit, and, by his contributions to its pages, got in all about
£40,000. Political caricatures he produced by the score, and held up
to ridicule many of the absurd customs of the pretensious and exclusive
sections of Society. Like Thackeray and Dickens, Leech detested snobbery
in all walks of life, and depicted it unsparingly in a way that it never
had been dealt with before. Week after week there flowed from his pencil
an endless stream of scenes of high life and low life, of indoor life
and street life, now of England, and then of foreign lands, and of all
times, seasons, and occasions, as also numerous scenes of deer-stalking
and fishing, and of horses and hounds, in all cases depicting whatever
he undertook with extraordinary accuracy combined with infinite humour.
Also, when social or national wrong called for grave censure, Leech knew
how to administer it, not only without giving unnecessary offence, but
in the way best calculated to bring about reform and redress. In all
circumstances he was essentially a humorist, and he found his most
genial vocation in depicting life and character in the social circles
he frequented. As a keen observer of the everyday life around him, he
delighted to depict the corporation magnate, the artist, the medical
student, the spendthrift, the policeman, the cab driver, the coster,
the carman, and hundreds of other such phases of everyday life and
character, seeing humour and drollery where others failed to observe
anything but the commonest aspects of everyday monotony. Of course it
should not be forgotten that, if Leech did great things for _Punch_, his
connection with that journal gave him great opportunities, and brought
him into the very forefront of British artists. He was considered the
most successful humorist of the day, and his pencil was in constant
request. In the course of years he became the illustrator of about
eighty volumes. When it is realised that the sketches in _Punch_ and the
illustrations in these eighty volumes combined amount to some thousands
in number, the mind is much impressed with the great amount of industry
and application that Leech displayed throughout life. Even a tour to the
Highlands, or to Ireland, or an outing to any portion of the country,
was at all times turned to practical account for work later on.

This incessant brain-work produced an extreme nervous sensitiveness. In
this state he was much affected by noise and was literally driven from
his house in Brunswick Square by street music. He removed to Kensington,
where he hoped to obtain a release from this annoyance by adopting a
device of double windows. But he had no peace. He often introduced in
the pages of _Punch_ the barrel-organ nuisance. The public, however,
at that time had no idea what these sketches from real life cost the
artist. In 1864, Leech was ordered to take a holiday on the Continent.
Upon his return to his London home in the autumn of the same year,
although better in health, he was still strangely susceptible to noise.
He spoke with more than his usual earnestness about the sufferings which
the street organs gave him, and about the smallness of the sympathy
which he received from people who had no weakness in the same direction.
This extraordinary sensitiveness to noise was only a secondary phase or
symptom of the real ailment. The real malady from which he suffered was
breast-pang, or spasms of the heart, a form of angina pectoris. Although
it was necessary to warn Leech against all excitement, riding, quick
walking, or overwork, it was not supposed that he was in immediate
danger, and, if he could only find rest and quiet, great hopes were
entertained of his recovery. However, the sad end came when quite
unexpected. In the morning of the 29th of October, 1864, he spoke
hopefully of the future to his wife. In a few hours afterwards he
whispered into the same living ear--"I am going," and fell into his
father's arms in a faint. Three hours afterwards he expired. The news of
his death went over the country with a dismal shock; for in what house
was John Leech not an inmate in one form or another?

Leech was tall, with an elegant figure, over six feet in height,
graceful and gentlemanly in manner, with a fine head and a handsome
face. In action he was nimble, vigorous, and yet gentle, capable of the
heartiest mirth, and yet generally quiet. He was singularly modest, both
as a man and an artist. The perpetual going to nature kept him humble as
well as made him rich. His consideration, too, for others was apparent
at all times, and the gentleness of his nature was remarkable. When
it is considered that all these beautiful traits of character were
accompanied by such extraordinary talent and wisdom, one is profoundly
impressed with the greatness of the man. No wonder so many mourned when
such a great, gentle, and graceful spirit passed away. It was a national
loss, and as such was realised throughout the homes of the United
Kingdom.



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translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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