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Social Pictorial Satire   By: (1834-1896)

Book cover

First Page:


[Frontispiece: Mr. and Mrs. Candle.

From the original drawing by JOHN LEECH. In the possession of JOHN KENDRICK BANGS. Esq. The lower portion has never before been reproduced.]



Author of "Trilby" "The Martian" &c.




Mr. and Mrs. Caudle

John Leech

"In the Bay of Biscay O"

A Specimen of Pluck

One of Mr. Briggs's Adventures in the Highlands

Thank Goodness! Fly fishing has begun!

"The jolly little Street Arabs"

Doing a little Business

A Tolerably Broad Hint

Charles Keene

The Snowstorm, Jan. 2, 1867

Waiting for the Landlord!

A Stroke of Business

"None o' your Larks"

An Affront to the Service

"Not up to his Business"

George du Maurier

Feline Amenities

The New Society Craze

A Pictorial Puzzle

Refinements of Modern Speech

"Reading without Tears"

The Height of Impropriety

Things one would wish to have expressed differently


It is my purpose to speak of the craft to which I have devoted the best years of my life, the craft of portraying, by means of little pen and ink strokes, lines, and scratches, a small portion of the world in which we live; such social and domestic incidents as lend themselves to humorous or satirical treatment; the illustrated criticism of life, of the life of our time and country, in its lighter aspects.

The fact that I have spent so many years in the practice of this craft does not of itself, I am well aware, entitle me to lay down the law about it; the mere exercise of an art so patent to all, so easily understanded of the people, does not give one any special insight into its simple mysteries, beyond a certain perception and appreciation of the technical means by which it is produced unless one is gifted with the critical faculty, a gift apart, to the possession of which I make no claim.

There are two kinds of critics of such work as ours. First there is the wide public for whom we work and by whom we are paid; "who lives to please must please to live"; and who lives by drawing for a comic periodical must manage to please the greater number. The judgment of this critic, though often sound, is not infallible; but his verdict for the time being is final, and by it we, who live by our wits and from hand to mouth, must either stand or fall.

The other critic is the expert, our fellow craftsman, who has learned by initiation, apprenticeship, and long practice the simple secrets of our common trade. He is not quite infallible either, and is apt to concern himself more about the manner than the matter of our performance; nor is he of immediate importance, since with the public on our side we can do without him for a while, and flourish like a green bay tree in spite of his artistic disapproval of our work; but he is not to be despised, for he is some years in advance of that other critic, the public, who may, and probably will, come round to his way of thinking in time.

The first of these two critics is typified by Molière's famous cook, who must have been a singularly honest, independent, and intelligent person, since he chose in all cases to abide by her decision, and not with an altogether unsatisfactory result to Mankind! Such cooks are not to be found in these days certainly not in England; but he is an unlucky craftsman who does not possess some such natural critics in his family, his home, or near it mother, sister, friend, wife, or child who will look over his shoulder at his little sketch, and say:

"Tommy [or Papa, or Grandpapa, as the case may be], that person you've just drawn doesn't look quite natural," or:

"That lady is not properly dressed for the person you want her to be those hats are not worn this year," and so forth and so forth... Continue reading book >>

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