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Lectures on the Fine Arts.
ON GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, It is sort of things he has done, to have a high time that the public should think capital notion of the principles of more than they have hitherto done grouping. Now, these things are vaof George Cruikshank; and it is also luable in themselves; but they are high time that George Cruikshank doubly, trebly valuable, as possessed should begin to think more than he by a person of real comic humour, and seems to have done hitherto of him- a total despiser of THAT VENERABLE self. Generally speaking, people con- HUMBUG, which almost all the artists sider him as a clever, sharp carica- of our day seem, in one shape or other, turist, and nothing more-a free- to revere as the prime god of their idolhanded, comical young fellow, who will atry. do anything he is paid for, and who Nobody, that has the least of an eye is quite contented to dine off the pro- for art, can doubt that Cruikshank, if ceeds of a "George IV.” to-day, and he chose, mightdesign as many Annunthose of a Hone” or a
" Cobbett" ciations, Beatifications, Apotheoses, to-morrow. He himself, indeed, ap- Metamorphoses, and so forth, as would pears to be the most careless creature cover York Cathedral from end to end. alive, as touching his reputation. He It is still more impossible to doubt that seems to have no plan-almost no am- he might be a famous portrait painter. bition-and, I apprehend, not much Now, these are fine lines both of them industry. He does just what is sug- -and yet it is precisely the chief merit gested or thrown in his way-pockets of Cruikshank, that he cuts them he cash-orders his beef-steak and both—that he will have nothing to do
owland chaunts, like one of his with them--that he has chosen a walk wn heroes,
of his own-and that he has made his “ Life is all a variorum,
own walk popular. Here lies genius; We regard not how it goes.” but let him do himself justice-let him Now, for a year or two, to begin persevere and rise in his own path with, this is just as it should be. and then, Ladies and Gentlemen, then Cruikshank was resolved to see Life the day will come when his name and his sketches shew that he has will be a name indeed --not a name seen it, in some of its walks, to pur- puffed and paraded in the newspapers pose. But life is short, and art is long; --but a living, a substantial, perhaps and our gay friend must pull up. even an illustrious, English name. Let
Perhaps he is not aware of the fact him, in one word, proceed-and, as himself-but a fact it undoubtedly is he proceeds, let him think of Ho--that he possesses genius-GENIUS in its truest sense--strong, original, Eng- The English artists seem in general lish genius. Look round the world of to be very pleasant, lively, good-heartART, and ask, how many are there ofed fellows. I know a great many of whom anything like this can be said ? them, and I love them but I canWhy, there are not half a dozen names not compliment them much upon the that could bear being mentioned at all; extent and depth of their views as to and certainly there is not one, the pre- Art. How rare a thing is the least aptensions of which will endure sifting, proach to originality! How rare a more securely and more triumphantly thing is the least approach to what than that of George Cruikshank. deserves the name of success! Will
In the first place, he is what no you forgive me for venturing upon a living caricaturist but himself has the few hints--certainly well-meant-and least pretensions to be and what, in- as certainly not hasty ones? deed, scarcely one of their predecessors The dignity of Art—the importance was—he is a thorough-bred artist. He of Art-the grandeur of Art-these draws with the ease, and freedom, and are phrases that are never out of their fearlessness of a master; he understands mouths; and yet how few of them the figure completely; and appears, so seem to take any pains upon themselves far as one can guess from the trifling such as might become people devoted
to what is important, dignified, and by pen, pencil, or chisel ; but now grand ? None, or almost none of them, this will not answer. First of all, appear to have considered in what sort these things have been so, and by such of state the world is at present as re- hands, expressed :- and nobody cares garding them and their art. The for having them over again. But, world is, in the first place, in posses- secondly, and still more, we wish to sion of a vast body of masterpieces in' have the finer traits. Intelligence is every department; and, secondly, the now diffused and general—so much so, world is full of light and information; indeed, as to make an essential part of
nd, whatever it might have done three that Nature which all Art must imi. bundred years ago, more or less, it will tate. It follows, that people who can not now tolerate, at least it will not only meddle with the rough work,now applaud, any artist whose works that is to say, [for a stray Hogg, &c. do not announce a mind rich in gene- here and there are merely exceptions,] ral accomplishment and acquirement all rough-hewn and illiterate people, -a mind that has been fed with the -had better not meddle either with contemplation of human thoughts and poetry, or painting, or sculpture, Q.E.D. feelings, as well as human forms-a Now what are the painters in gehighly educated and cultivated mind. neral ? Capital fellows, no doubt, in
An ignorant man, my friends, can- their way a little addicted to turnnot succeed in our time either in Art ing up their noses at each otheror in Authorship. Exceptions there amicably open in their vanities—but, may be-but no long-headed man goes upon the whole, pleasant people upon the strength of exceptions; and, most assuredly so. But what do they after all, how very, very rare are the
know of the world, past, present, or exceptions !
to come? They have never read anyWho, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the thing worth speaking of-that, ingreatest painter now living ?--Nobody deed, they scarcely ever pretend to can hesitate about the answer-WIL- have done-So much for the past. KIE. And what is Wilkie? Is he not a They live among themselves, they man, who, if he were a lawyer, a physi- marry [most commonly as the modern cian, or a divine, would be pronounced Pygmalion would fain have married] -by anyone that had spent an evening or they are bachelors--men of the third in his company—a singularly well-in- floor and the mutton chop-cheerful formed man? He is so-and no won- over ale or gin-twist “ of an evening," der; for he is not a mere painter-he-smokers of shag, frequenters of the received the same general education pit, emergers into sunshine on "i cleanwhich would have been bestowed upon shirt day”-dry, yellow, absurd men, him, had he chosen to wear a gown and with fantastic curls or picturesque cassock, or a three-tailed periwig-the baldness-the solemn smile of a reeducation of a British gentleman. He cluse—the ease of an actor off the has all along lived in the society of stagema shuffling lounging gait-and men of the world and he is a man of too often green spectacles. So much the world. He, therefore, being pos- for the present. As for the future sessed of this mechanical art, makes world, I strongly suspect it is far from use of it exactly as he would have occupying anything like a due promade use of the art of writing, or the portion of their attention. They selart of speaking, had his turn hap- dom go to church at all, the more is pened to lie another way. He knows the shame to them; and, when they what the world has been, and what do so, it really is not much better, for, the world is—and he expresses by his instead of attending to the divine art that understanding of, and sym- truths which the eloquent preacher is pathy with, the spirit of the age in uttering, they are generally studying which helives--without which a paint- some effect about the chandeliers or er is, in point of fact, just as manc, the window-curtains, or scratching incomplete, and ineffectual a being, as down the heads of the church-wara poet or an orator.
den and his lady on the fly-leaf of the Alas! my dear hearers, the world little red Prayer-book. is a very old world now. In former My drift in short is, that all painters days, people came very fair speel, of talent ought to be diligent students by merely seizing on the rough of other things besides their own partraits of things, and expressing them
ticular art. And my argument, at VOL. XIV.
least one of my chief arguments, is,
and Charles Matthews is (can that the painters who have succeeded praise go higher?) the principal ausplendidly in past times, and more es- thor of several of his own entertainpecially in the present time, have all
Dan Terry was bred an ardone so. Michael Angelo was a great chitect, and is learned in all the learnpoet. Raphael a most elegant scholar. ing of the Palladios—and, moreover, What would the other two Carraccis he has dramatized the Heart of Midhave done with all their manual skill, lothian, &c. As for Liston, the exbut for what Mr D'Israeli so properly quisite, inimitable Liston, who does calls “ the profound meditations” of not know that he was at one time a Ludovico ? Albert Durer was a dun- teacher of youth, and that he discogeon of middle-age lore. Sir Joshua vered where his true forte lay, from Reynolds was the author of his charm- observing, that all the dread of a ing Lectures. Greek Williams has put brushing could not keep the boys from forth recently a delightful and most dying of laughter whenever he wasclassical volume of Travels. Turk spouting ex cathedra, the Soliloquy of Allan, too, has written a very pretty Hamlet, or the Speech of Moloch? little book about a Circassian love- Mrs Bellamy's life of herself is a chefstory_besides being responsible for d'æuvre of libel and libidinousness, I know not how many comic inter- and, to wind up with a stomacher, Moludes, &c. wherewith, to this blessed. LIERE and SHAKESPEARE were playhour, the private theatres of the Ukraine, Crim-Tartary, and several I am of opinion, that George Cruikother outlandish regions, are enliven- shank is one of the many young gened. Haydon appears to have written tlemen, whose education, (like that of his own catalogues. . Sir Henry Rae- the English opium-eater, has been burn was L-alas! was,—one of the best neglected. But there is no time lost ; informed men in the North,-a true he has, I hope, a long life and a mere Scottish gentleman of the old school- ry one before him yet; and he may as true a one as ever kingly sword depend upon it, his life will be neither laid knighthood on ! As for Mr the shorter nor the duller for his maThomson of Duddingstone,--perhaps king it something of a studious one. He after Turner, the finest landscape should read-read-read. He should painter now extant—he is a highly be indefatigable in reading. He should accomplished member of the clerical rise at six in the morning. If he can't profession. In my opinion, he ought work till he has had something to setto be made a Principal. His Aber- tle his stomach, (my own case,) he lady Bay is a perfect jewel. Sir Tho- may have a little coffee-pot placed on mas Lawrence is another extremely the hob over night, and take a cup of well-read painter--he is a complete that and a single crust of toast-and gentleman, and man of the world, and he will find himself quite able for anyone of the handsomest men in Lon= thing.- What a breakfast he will be don into the bargain. And what is able to devour about nine or half-past the result? Nobody but himself could nine, after having enriched his mind have painted that picture of Lady with several hours of conversation with Blesington-nobody since Titian. the greatest and the wisest of his spe
The same sort of thing may be said cies ! He may rely upon it, this hint is with equal propriety as to the actors. worth taking-Then let him draw, Garrick was a glorious farce-writer- etch, and paint, until about two o'clock a glorious song-writer—the pupil and P. M., then take a lounge through the friend of the celebrated Dr Samuel streets to see if anything is stirringJohnson. Old Cibber's Apology, and step into Westminster-hall-the Fives some of his comedies stand in the very court, the Rev. Edward Irvine's chapel, first order of meritoriousness-John (if it be Sunday,) or any other public Kemble was a prime black-letter scho- place, jotting down à la Hogarth all lar--and possessed besides all the learn. the absurd faces he falls in with upon ing of the sacred profession for which his finger nails. A slight dinner and a he was originally destined. Mrs Sid- single bottle will carry him till it dons is the author of an abridgement is time to go to the play, or the Castle of Milton's Paradise Lost. Charles Tavern, or the House of Commons, or Young is as accomplished a gentleman the evening preaching, or the Surrey as any L.L.D.A.S.S. within the four Lecture, or the like. At first sight, it may appear that I am cutting short completely-how toto cælo did he outthe hours of professional exertion too
cruikshank himself, when he was much—but this I am convinced is called upon to embody the conceptions mere humbug. Does the author of of that remarkable man in the designs Waverley eat, or drink, or ride, or for Tom and Jerry? The world felt talk, or laugh, a whit the less because this—and he himself felt it. he writes an octavo every month ? Again, no disparagement to my no such things. Does Jeffrey plead friend Pierce Egan, (who is one of the his causes a bit the worse because he is pleasantest as well as one of the greatthe editor of the Edir urgh Review ? est men now extant; and with whom, Does Wordsworth write worse poems,
last time I was in town, I did not for collecting the taxes of Cumber- hesitate to crack a bottle of Belcher's land, or Lamb, worse Elias, for being best,) Cruikshank made another, and clerk to the India House ? The a still more striking stride, when he artists are all of them too diligent- stept from Egan to Burns, and sought that is the very fault I want to cure his inspiration from the very best of them of. Their pallets are never off all Burns's glorious works, “ The their thumbs—their sticks are eter- Jolly Beggars.” It is to this work (the nally in their fingers. They are like “ POINTS OF HUMOUR") that I am the old race of kings, who are repre
now to speak. It was for the purpose sented as lying in their beds all in full of puffing it and its author, and of fig, with crown, globe, and sceptre. calling upon all, who have eyes to Such doings are not adapted for the water, and sides to ache, to buy it, present enlightened state of society. that I began this leading lecture. It Such kings are exploded—the kings is, without doubt, the first thing that hujusce ævi wear top-boots, hessians, has appeared since the death of Hoand Wellingtons, military uniforms, garth. Yes-Britain possesses once neat blue surtouts-black stocks-in more an artist capable of seizing and short, they dress no better than their immortalizing the traits of that which subjects—or worse. Painters, poets, I consider as by far the most re&c. who all think themselves at markable of our national characterisleast as great as
they were kings, tics—the Humour of The People. ought without question to behave like Ex PEDE HERCULEM : The man who their brother potentates—conform
drew these things is fit for anything. themselves to the customs of the world Let him but do himself justice, and be educated and literate, since all he must take his place inter lumina other people are so-and eat and drink, Anglorum. that their soul, (that is their genius,) As for describing a set of comic
etchings—I must beg to be excused The advantage of a little proper -it is not at all in my line—but I reading may be illustrated by the his- pity the man, woman, or child, who tory of George Cruikshank
does not feast upon them propriis ocuas by that of any other individual I lis. You, Ladies and Gentlemen, you have the pleasure of not being per- are more fortunate-here they are. sonally acquainted with. I admit, The first of the series represents the old that he shewed great talent in “ The soldier, with the wooden-leg, in this Matrimonial Ladder," the “ House attitude :that Jack built," and, indeed, in all 5 An' aye he gied the Tozie Drab his earlier performances. His carica- The tother skelpan kiss, tures of the Chancellor, and Lord While she held up her greedy gab, Sidmouth in particular, were quite
Just like an awmous dish; admirable ; and so, when he was
Ilk smack still did crack still, working on the other lay, were some
Just like a cadger's whip; of his caricatures of Burdett, Grey
Then, staggering,” &c. &c. Bennet, Waddington, Mackintosh, The lines are worthy of being written Carlisle, Joseph Hume, Hone, Brough- in letters of gold-they are worthy of am, and Peter Moore. All these having inspired Cruikshank to the highwere in their several ways excellent est triumph his genius has ever yet things. But what a start did he make achieved, and that is far better. Theold when his genius had received a truer fellow's face, you observe, is round, and and a diviner impulse from the splen- drawn to a point at the nose ; his eyes did imagination of an Egan! How are almost quite shut; his firm lip
projects about an inch beyond his pim- “ See the smoking bowl before us ! pled proboscis, and conceals two-thirds Mark our jovial ragged ring ! of his bristly chin. His three-cornered, Round and round take up the chorusiron-bound hat is cocked half fiercely,
And in raptures let us sing. half“ jauntily," on the right ear. The stump of that dexter arm stands out as
Now the chorus, audience! in a vain but violent effort to clasp that A fig for those by luws protected, time-worn fair. And she!-whata sim
Liberty's a glorious feast; per-whatquiet luxury about her heavy Courts for cowards were erected, eyelids, and that indescribable, ineffa
Churches built to please the priest, ble muzzle! The great toe of her right
66 What is title, what is treasure, foot is curled up in an ecstasy of “nothing loath”-she shews, after all she
What is reputation's care ?
If we lead a life of pleasure, has come through, a plump and juicy
'Tis no matter how or where. calf-her right hand is fumbling about
A fig', &c. his breast-plate, and the left, half unconsciously, as it were, is fiddling about “ With the ready trick and fable, the tankard on the table there behind Round we wander all the day ; her. As Wordsworth says, in compli- And at night, in barn or stable, menting a painting by Sir George Hug our doxies on the hay. Beaumont,
A fis, &c. “ Oh! 'tis a passionate work !” “ Does the train-attended carriage The Bank of England to a mealy Does the sober bed of marriage
Through the country lighter move ? potatoe, it is worth all the paintings, either of his own, or of other people's
Witness brighter scenes of love ?
A fig, &c. manufacture, that Sir George Beaumont possesses.
66 Life is all a variorum, The contest between the Tinker We regard not how it goes ; and the Fiddler (turn over two or Let them cant about decorum, three leaves, my hearers,) is scarcely Who have characters to lose. inferior—and the Balladmonger upri
A fig, &c. sing to chant (on a few pages more, Ladies,) is as good. I think, upon
“ Here's to budgets, bags, and wallets ; looking at it for a few minutes more,
Here's to all the wandering train ; it is even better. Yes—it is the best
Here's our ragged brats and callets, of the whole-it is the gem—the star
One and all, cry out, Amen! - the glory of the book. What a pro
A fig,” &c. found sense of the glorious felicity of
To proceed.--This sketch of the whisky is manifested in this halfsleepy, half-enthusiastic, fat, bald, and this counterpart of them start
whole party in the acme of their revel freckled, leering, squinting, gaping, ing in the morning when they are roaring physiognomy,
all shrivelled, bundled up, blind, lazy, " He rising, rejoicing,
melancholy, moping-are both quite Between his two Deborahs,
exquisite-and the notion of the conLooks round him, and found them trast may be classed with anything Impatient for the chorus."
that even the wit of Hogarth has beThere is more persuasion, and more queathed to us. Cruikshank here steps triumph too, in the style in which beyond his author, turns poet himself, that dexter hand is expanded, than in and completes what Burns began, as all the fists that ever thumped a vel- well as Burns himself could have vet-cushion. The uncertain, stagger- done. ing stride-the ineffectual staff-the There are several etchings in this leather-breeches, (Ladies and Gentle- little book besides these excellent, men)--the shirtless arm--they are all no doubt, but still inferior—those of perfect. It is from such a glorious Frederick and Cardinal Bernis far the fellow, and no other, that Burns would best. Seriously, Cruikshank must athave cut off a year of his life, to hear tend to the hint we have been giving the strain sung—that inimitable strain him, and learn to respect himself. He that true « ballad of the best."-I must give up his mere slang drudgery, shall try it myself, however,
and labour to be what nature has put