Three years afterwards du Maurier re-visited Paris with most of the staff to see the Paris Exhibition, 1889. In my sketch "En Route—Mr. Punch at Lunch," du Maurier is speaking to Mr. Anstey Guthrie, who, "for this occasion only," called du Maurier the Marquis d'Ampstead.
Du Maurier had a little of the green-eyed monster in his bosom, although he lived to laugh at all when he himself became the greatest success of any man in his sphere.
When I made my hit with my Exhibition of the "Artistic Joke," du Maurier, to my surprise, turned sharply round to me one night in the cab and said, "My dear Furniss, I must be honest with you—I hate you, I loathe you, I detest you!"
"Thanks, awfully, my dear fellow! But why?"
"Ah!" he said, "your success is too great. When I get the return you send me in the morning, showing me the number of people that have been to your Exhibition, the tremendous takings at the turnstiles, the number of albums subscribed for, the number of pictures you have sold, I cannot work. I go on to Hampstead Heath to walk off my jealousy; when I come in to lunch I find your first telegram, telling me you have made L80 that morning. I walk out again, and looking down upon London, although I shake my fist at the whole place, my wrath is for you alone. I come in to tea to find another telegram—you have made L100! How can I sit down and scratch away on a piece of paper when you are making a fortune in a week?"
This nearly took my breath away.
"My dear du Maurier," I replied, "I feel hurt—seriously, irrevocably. I shall always feel degraded in your eyes. Of course you are the victim of a practical joke."
Du Maurier pulled from his pocket one of my supposed returns. It was an imitation of printing, with the amounts filled in. "This is the kind of thing I get every morning."
"Why, of course, it is written, not printed. That is the work of the irrepressible practical joker. But it makes no difference, du Maurier; if you thought that I would be such a cad as to send you these returns, I cannot see how we can ever be great friends."
Although as du Maurier believed for a time I had the necessary vulgarity of the "bloated millionaire," to use his own words, we were never much more than acquaintances—although very pleasant acquaintances—and I believe du Maurier reciprocated the kind feeling I had towards him. Du Maurier rarely forgave a satirical thrust at his expense. His dislike for Mr. Whistler on this account is well known to all the early readers of "Trilby," and he often related with unconcealed glee a remark he once made to Whistler. It appears they had not met for a long period, during which du Maurier with his satirical pictures on the aesthetic craze, published in Punch, and Whistler with his "symphonies" and "harmonies" on canvas, exhibited in the Law Courts, had both increased their reputation.
"Hullo, Kiki!" cried Whistler. "I'm told that your work in Punch is the making of some men. You have actually invented Tomkins! Why, he never would have existed but for you! Ha! ha! how on earth did you do it?"
"Look here, Jimmy, if you don't look out, by Jove, I'll invent you!"
How Kiki—du Maurier—carried out his threat in "Trilby," and what resulted from it, all the world knows.
By the way, the mention of "Trilby" reminds me of a story about Mr. du Maurier's own Trilby which is perhaps worth recording. Du Maurier for some years lived on the top of Hampstead Heath, rather inaccessible for models. But more than once friends asked him to take a sitting from some lady or another, as he, drawing fashionable ladies, was different, perhaps, from painters using models for costumes or, as du Maurier would say, for the "altogether." In this way a model was introduced to him, and, to his surprise, she drove up to his house in a hansom, and he heard her asking one of the servants for change of a sovereign to pay the cabman. She did not sit very well, so after a short time Mr. du Maurier told her that he only drew from models for part of the day, and, rather apologetically, said he of course did not pay for the whole of the usual day's sitting. And she said:
"Oh, thanks! I am only too pleased to sit for a short time. But would you kindly ask one of your servants to fetch me a hansom?"
This made the artist more than ever miserable, and he said:
"Excuse me, but perhaps you are not aware we only pay a modest amount for sitters; in fact, I generally pay five shillings for two hours—aw——"
"You don't mean to say you are really going to give me five shillings? Oh, how kind of you! It will just pay half my cab fare home. I didn't know I was going to be so lucky." And she vanished, leaving the artist more bewildered than ever.
Some time afterwards, in Hyde Park, he was surprised to see a carriage beautifully appointed pulled up to where he was standing, and a lady lean out and say:
"I have never seen you before to thank you for your kindness in allowing me to sit for you. I was so anxious to see what a studio was like. Thanks, awfully; you must let me call again."
Du Maurier had the faculty of unaffected fun, he had also a feeling for caricature in portraiture, but he did not care to exercise either to any extent in Punch. I recollect Sir Henry Thompson—the celebrated physician—showing me a copy of a book he had written, in which he speaks of hospital life in London. Du Maurier had studied in a London hospital when he first arrived in England, and he wrote to Sir Henry, then a stranger to him, to ask him if the wretch in his book who wheeled off the remains of the corpses from the dissecting-room was the same man he knew and loathed years ago. The sketch accompanying this query Sir Henry had pasted in the book in triumph. "There is the man," he said, "to the life!"
At dinner du Maurier ate sparingly, drank moderately, and smoked cigarettes. He avoided champagne, preferring the wine of his country—claret; and after dinner, in place of coffee, he had a huge breakfast-cup of tea, and, like the soap advertisement boy, he was not happy till he got it.
Mentioning an advertisement suggests that it may interest some to know du Maurier drew the label for a most popular mineral water. It is safe to predict that not one person in the tens of thousands looking at it yearly would connect du Maurier with it. It is that elaborate and rather inartistic design on Appollinaris water, for which he received fifty guineas from his friend—one of the proprietors. Anyone following his work in Punch must have noticed that he was a hypochondriac. Hypochondriasis was a disease with him, he was always thinking of his health, and I fear that sudden burst of popularity following the success of "Trilby," in place of bracing him up, made him dwell somewhat more upon his state of health, and hastened the end.
I recollect his telling me years ago he was advised to take horse exercise for his health's sake, so he hired a hack and started in the direction of Richmond Park. Arriving at the well-known windmill, and before descending the beautiful slopes on the other side, he took out his watch and, opening the case, put out his tongue to see what effect the ride had had on his health. The horse moved, and he found himself the next moment on the ground.
He gave up horse exercise after that!
My first contribution to Punch appeared in the number dated October 30th, 1880. "Punch," as a policeman, commanded the removal of the newly-erected "Griffin" in the place of Old Temple Bar: "Take away that Bauble!" The much-abused "Griffin" is the work (but after the design of Horace Jones) of an old friend of mine, the late C. B. Birch, R.A., a clever sculptor and a capital fellow. He sent me "his mark" of appreciation, but I may say he was the last man to use the instrument of torture suggested by his name.
I then "did the theatres" with the editor—no mistake this time—and a very pleasant time it was. My first "social" drawing appeared in the second number in the following December, illustrating Scotch "wut" manufactured in London.
Two Scotch rustics outside an eating-house. One points to a card in the window on which is "Welsh Rabbit, 6d."
Hungry visitor (ignorant of the nature of this particular delicacy): "Ah, Donal, mon, we ken weel hev the Rawbit fur saxpence. We ken get twa Bawbees fur the Skeen when we get bock to Glasgow!"
The Scotch is certainly new, if the joke is not.
An Irish joke followed, and then in the Almanack I illustrated a hit at the style of ladies' dress of the period; in fact, at that time I drew for Punch quite a number of social subjects dealing with the aesthetic craze. Besides illustrating various social subjects and caricaturing the Academy and the new plays, I was illustrating the "Essence of Parliament." As Mr. M. H. Spielmann in "The History of Punch" says truly, "I romped through Punch's pages." I open a number of Punch published only eighteen months after my first contribution appeared, and two years previous to my joining the staff, and find no fewer than eleven separate subjects from my pencil; and I may say that up to the last I probably contributed more work to Punch than any other artist ever contributed in the same number of years, Leech not excepted. I do not claim that this was wholly due to artistic merit, but to a business one. I never refused to draw a subject I was asked to do, I never was at a loss for a subject, and I was never late. It was to this facility I owe the good terms on which the editor and I worked so pleasantly and for so long. Being accustomed to work at high pressure for the illustrated papers and magazines since boyhood, I confess that Punch work to me was my playtime.
I contributed over two thousand six hundred designs, from the smallest to the largest that ever appeared in its pages (the latter were published in the Christmas Numbers, 1890 and 1891), and I was not in receipt of a salary, but was paid for each drawing at my full rate. I have reason to think I drew in the time more money from Punch, proportionately, than any other contributor in its history in a like period. I read from time to time accounts of the remuneration men like myself receive. Of course these statements are invariably fiction, as in fact is nearly everything I have read outside Mr. Spielmann's careful analysis of Punch concerning myself and my friends.
I deal with my Parliamentary confessions, personal and artistic, in other chapters; I shall in this merely touch upon a few points in connection with Punch. The greater portion of my Parliamentary work, however, appeared in other periodicals, but it is probably by Punch work in this direction most of my readers identify me. I was fortunate, in the twelve years I represented Punch in Parliament with the pencil, in having the exceptional material for work upon Mr. Gladstone at his most interesting period, Parnell's rise and fall, Churchill's rise and fall, Bradlaugh's rise and fall, and a host of others strutting their brief hour on the political stage. Where are they now? Mr. Chamberlain alone interests the caricaturist. Parliament itself is dull, the public is apathetic, and everything appertaining to politics is flat and unprofitable. Yet as far back as 1885, in the figure "Punch," I asked for some new character, the familiar faces were getting worked out!
I had attended some sessions of Parliament before I made the acquaintance of the official presiding over the Press Gallery. The Press Gallery is, as all know, directly over the Speaker. The front row is divided into little boxes where the representatives of the leading papers sit. The others are seated above them against the wall. These members of the Press look like a row of aged schoolboys very much troubled to write anything about Parliament to-day. Their monitor sits by the seat near the door, which in former days was in the middle of the Gallery.
I shall never forget my first experience of this Press Gallery official. He was big, and fat, and greasy; in evening dress, and he wore a real gold chain with a badge in front like a mayor or sheriff. He awed me—recollect I am now speaking of the day I attended as a comparatively new boy, and I trembled in his presence. There was no seat vacant except the one next to him. He sleeps! Nervously I slip into the seat. He wakes, and looks down at me.
"H'm! What are you?" is his sleepy remark.
"Punch," I reply.
"Left at home."
"Bring it next time."
"Certainly," say I, relieved. He slumbers again. I strain over to see who is speaking. This wakes the gentleman with the real gold chain again. He gazes down upon me. I feel smaller.
"What are you?"
"Eh! Where's ticket?"
"Left at home."
"Bring it next time. Saves bother, young fellow."
"Certainly," I reply, and, encouraged by his familiarity, I venture to ask, "Who is that speaking?" I just got the question out in time, for he was dozing off again.
"New Member," he replied, and, half dozing, he goes on, more to himself than to me: "One more fool! Find his level here! All fools here! Stuff you've been givin' them at your College Union. Rubbish! Yer perambulator's waitin' outside. Oh, follow yer Dad to the Upper House, an' look sharp about it." He mumbles. I well recollect the youthful Member, so criticised, labouring through his maiden speech. The eldest son of a Peer, with a rather effeminate face, Saxon fairness of complexion, and with an apology for a moustache, it struck me that if petrified he would do very well as a dummy outside a tailor's establishment. Yet this youthful scion of a noble line has a good record. He carried off innumerable prizes at Eton, was a double first at Oxford, President of the Union, and a fellow of his college; one of the University Eight, and of the Eleven; distinguished at tennis, racquets, and football; hero of three balloon ascents; great at amateur theatricals; a writer upon every possible subject, including theology, for the leading magazines; member of sixteen London clubs; married a titled heiress, and is only thirty years of age.
Some of his college friends sit in the Strangers' Gallery to hear their late President make his first great effort in the real Parliament. The effect disappoints them. Their champion is "funky." When the Oxford Eight were behind at Barnes Bridge, it was "Dolly's" muscle and nerve that pulled the crew together and won the race. When at Lord's the match was nearly over, and the Light Blues had won all but the shouting, "Dolly" went in last man and rattled up fifty in half an hour and won the match. When at the Oxford Union he spoke upon the very question now before the House—namely, whether a tax should be imposed upon periwinkles—his oratory alone turned the scale, and gave his party the victory. Yet now his speech upon the periwinkle problem has certainly not impressed the House. Men listened for a time and then adjourned to dinner, and his splendid peroration, recognised by his friends as the same which he had delivered at the Oxford Union, failed to elicit a single cheer.
Curiosity, however, induced his supporters to remain and hear the reply. The next speaker was a contrast to their hero, and a titter went round among Dolly's friends in the Gallery. He was a type of the preaching Member. No doubt a very worthy soul, but hardly an Adonis to look at, nor a Cicero to listen to. Still he is sincere, and with his own class effective; and sincerity, after all, is the most valuable, and I may add the most rare, quality in the composition of an ordinary Member of Parliament.
My neighbour, the Usher, at this point opens his left eye, which takes in at a glance the Opposition side of the House, and breaks out in this style:
"All right, little 'un! Keep wot yer sayin' till Sunday. Yer sermon's sending me to sleep. Forcing taxation on the winks of the 'ungry Englishman will raise the country to revolt. Tommy rot! Here endeth the first lesson, thank goodness!"
The soliloquising official rolls off his seat chuckling along the Gallery. Envelopes are handed to him by the reporters. He rolls back to the door, opens it, gives the copy to the messengers waiting for it, and rolls back once more into his seat. In doing so he spies me.
I feel smaller.
"Here, I say, what are you?"
"Left at home."
"H'm! Don't forget it again."
I say nothing more, as I am too interested in his running commentary of the proceedings. A grunt. Shake down:
"Old Waddy, is it? Another sermon. Blow black plaster. Tell that to the juries, and use it again in chapel. Yer a good friend to us—get a count soon. Ah, I thought so. Joey Biggar up to count and snuff."
"Have a pinch?" he said to me.
"Thanks." I sneeze.
"What are you?" asked the man of the golden badge, looking down at me. I met his query as before.
The electric bells were ringing for a "count out." He opened both eyes to watch if forty Members came in. They did; and three times forty.
"Torment 'em! Keep me here all night, I see."
Samuel Banks Waddy—Pleader, Preacher, Parliamentarian (as he is designated in a work on M.P.'s)—continues preaching. He is followed by the Leader of the House. My soliloquising friend continues:
"Ah, Old Morality—as Lucy calls ye—up at last. Move the closure, now then, that's right; speak of yer dooty to the House and Country. Set the Rads laughing, shut yer own mouth, and sit down. Oh lor! 'Ere's the Grand Old Muddler up. We're getting 'usky, old 'un; both of us have 'ad too much of this job. We're very much alike, Gladdy and me—both great eaters and great sleepers."
Mr. Gladstone was telling the House all about black plaster, and gave three points why it should not be used in public hospitals. With the third point he landed a blow at Home Rule, and his ingenuity in doing so brought forth a derisive cheer from the Irish benches, which roused my neighbour.
I looked up at him smiling, as much as to say, "Just like the Old Parliamentary Hand."
"What are you?" he growled.
Same reply and promise.
Appeased, he continued:
"Words, words, words—no 'ed no tail. Oh, of course you remember the introduction of white plaster—3rd of June, 1840—why didn't you say half-past two o'clock? More convincing. No doubt you got into some scrape and 'ad to use it. Won't you catch it from the old woman in the Gallery when you get home if you say so! Can't 'ear yer, thank goodness. Scribblers will take down any rot you talk. They want me, I suppose. Blowed if the country wants you."
Again he rolls out of his seat, collects the reporters' copy, and gives it to the attendants.
"Who are you? Ah, Punch. Don't forget yer ticket."
Again he dozes.
"'Icks Beach up! 'Ave all the Board of Trade chaps up, capping each other. Funny thing—Board of Trade chap says anything, all the Board of Traders must have a word in. Same with Local Government Board—new man says anything, old 'uns put in a word for theirselves, just to keep the place warm for them to return. Board!—I'm bored—joke there for Lucy. Thought the Irish lot couldn't keep quiet much longer. Tanner up,—ought to know more about plaster than politics. Rum fellers, these doctors in the House; leave their patients at 'ome, and come here to try ours—'nother good joke for Lucy—make his 'air stand on end. Tanner sticking to the plaster—now then, young Tories, jeer 'im down. The Doctor's goin' it. Order! order! That's right, Brand, turn 'im out,—wouldn't stand 'im in any place else. City Fowler's bellowing,—scene a-brewing,—good copy for these quill-drivers."
Dr. Tanner had recited some harrowing tale about black plaster being used in his native town by a hospital surgeon on the scratched face of some old woman who had joined "the boys" in a street fight, although she protested that pink suited her complexion.
"It was a base Saxon trick!" roared the infuriated Member for Cork County. "On a par with the mane, dirty doings of puppets and spalpeens like the Mimbers opposite."
"Order! order!" cried the Speaker. "The hon. Member must withdraw that expression."
"I'll not withdraw anything except by adding that they're all liars on the Tory benches."
"The hon. Member must withdraw."
The Doctor "exits" with a flourish, glares at the Conservative benches below the gangway, and hisses at them:
"Better order a ton of plaster, for you'll want it after I meet ye outside."
Mr. Labouchere and two or three Irish Members rise at once.
My neighbour sneers.
"Oh, sit down, ye rubbishy lot! Labby,—better keep yer jokes for yer paper. Bless me if Conybeare ain't left standing! Now for an hour of boredom."
"He is a bore," I remark.
"Yes, I've stood Kenealy and Wharton, but this bore I can't. I'll chuck it up. Kenealy did his best for the Claimant, and was amusing at times; and Wharton,—well, he had good snuff, and his hat was a treat; but this Conybeare is a bore and nothing else."
So he went on.
The "descendant of kings," Sir William Harcourt, rose to pulverise Torydom and put an end to the Government and everything in general, when the Speaker rose and said that the question before the House was whether black sticking-plaster could be used in public hospitals.
"Oh, that's right, he wants putting down; too much of the grand Old Bailey style. Make yer fortune in plush and knee breeches as a prize flunkey; platform stuff won't do for us. What are you?" I feel smaller!
"You take Harcourt off with the chins?"
We were friends ever afterwards.
One day when I arrived,—actually with my Gallery ticket,-a fresh pleasant official sat in my old friend's place, wearing his gold chain and badge. "Should this meet the eye" of his predecessor, soliloquising in the retirement of his suburban home, I trust it will not disturb the serenity of his well-earned repose, for he was a capital fellow, and I can answer for much good sense in his "official utterances."
If a politician were not a caricature by nature, I made him one. Mr. Gladstone's collar I invented—for the same reason a journalistic friend of mine invented Beaconsfield's champagne jelly—for "copy." When Members suggested nothing new, I turned my attention to officials. The Sergeant-at-Arms in that way became known as the "Black Beetle."
I watched Captain Gosset from the Press Gallery walk up the floor of the House in court dress, his knee-breeches showing off his rather bandy legs, elbows akimbo, and curious gait; his back view at once suggested the beetle, and as the Black Beetle he was known. This, I was assured, gave offence, so that I was rather anxious to see how I should be greeted when Professor Thorold Rogers took me into the Sergeant's presence, after I had been drawing him as the "Beetle" for some time.
The late Professor Thorold Rogers was for many years a familiar Bohemianish figure in Parliament. He had a marked individuality, a strong head and a rough tongue, an uncouth manner, sloppy attire, and his conversation was anything but refined. Still he was kind and amusing, and, for a Professor in Parliament, popular. Professors are not liked in St. Stephen's, and never a success; and as a politician Professor Thorold Rogers was no exception to this rule. It was he who introduced me to the Sergeant-at-Arms' room, that sanctum sanctorum of the lively spirits of Parliament. Perhaps I ought correctly to call it Captain Gosset's room, for although Captain Gosset was the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Sergeant-at-Arms was by no means Captain Gosset. An anecdote will illustrate this.
A friend of mine, a well-known journalist, travelling abroad during the Recess, fell in with Captain Gosset, and they became companions in their journey. A few days after they arrived home my journalistic acquaintance was in the Inner Lobby of the House of Commons as the Sergeant-at-Arms was passing through, and he called out, "How are you, Captain Gosset? Any the worse for your journey?"
"I beg your pardon, sir, I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance. You are mistaken."
"Nonsense, Captain! Why, we travelled together. I am——"
"That may be, but—— Oh, I see, you are thinking of that fellow Gosset. Sir, I am the Sergeant-at-Arms!" And he strode off with the greatest dignity.
I was agreeably surprised when I was introduced to the "Black Beetle."
"Here is Harry Furniss, Gosset" (not Sergeant, I observed); "now give it to him."
"Delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Furniss. You see how I appreciate your work." And he pointed to a row of black beetles, cut out of Punch and pasted on the wall, the rest of the wall being covered with interesting and dignified portraits of Members. Here was Gosset at twelve o'clock at night. At twelve noon he would be Sergeant-at-Arms, with power to take me to the Clock Tower.
This room is still the Sergeant-at-Arms' office, but in it are no portraits, no black beetles—on paper; there may be some living specimens, for aught I know, haunting the old room in search of the lively company, the pipes, and the huge decanters. The present Sergeant-at-Arms is as unlike a black beetle as he is unlike the Bohemian Gosset. But I shall be surprised if, when the courteous and universally appreciated Sergeant-at-Arms retires, and the present Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Gosset, takes his place, we shall not see the old room again the most entertaining spot in the Houses of Parliament.
When Professor Rogers was escorting me to the famous room, he implored me to leave politics outside of it,—as if I ever talked politics in the House! "Rule is—no politics, so don't forget it."
"Ah," he said, as soon as he sat down, "why aint you in the House, Tom, vilifying and misrepresenting the Irish as I heard you this afternoon! Disgraceful, I say, disgraceful!" and he thumped the table.
"No politics, Professor," "Dick" Power remarked.
"Oh, indeed, my noble Whip; that comes well from a beater to a beaten gang. Why aint you at your post,—the door-post, ha! ha!—and rally your men and overthrow these damned Tories? Oh, yes, King-Harman, your good looks do not atone for bad measures."
"No politics, Professor," all cried.
"Come, Furniss, come away, they're all drunk here. I'll tell you my last story on the Terrace. These Tories destroy everything."
Such was my introduction to this select little club in Parliament, in which, with the exception of the Professor, all forgot politics, and the best of the Tories, Home Rulers, Radicals, and officials were at peace. I was always on most friendly terms with my "Black Beetle," a proof that caricature leaves no unkind sting when the victim is really a man of the world and a jolly good fellow. Surely nothing could be more offensive to an official in high office than to be continually represented as a black beetle!
When I did not "invent" a character, such as the "Beetle," I adopted for a change various styles of drawing. For even the work of a caricaturist becomes monotonous if he is but a master of one style and a slave to mannerisms. To avoid this I am Egyptian, Chinese, Japanese, and at times "Childish"—a specimen of each style in Punch the proprietors have kindly allowed me to republish in these pages. There is really very little artistic merit in the "Childish" style of work. I did not use it often, but whenever I did I tried to introduce some "drawing" as well. Here, for instance, are my Academy skits—drawn as if by a boy, but the figures of the teacher and pupil are in drawing. By the way, these different styles, I am glad to see, are still kept alive in the pages of Punch by new—if not younger—hands. This year's (1901) Academy skits and other drawings, I notice, are signed "'Arry's Son," but they are not—as might be thought—by one of my own boys.
During most of the time I enjoyed a privilege which belonged to no one else, not excepting Members, for even Members must, like schoolboys, keep "within bounds." They are not permitted, for instance, to enter the Press Gallery, or the portion of the House reserved to the Press; neither can Press-men enter the Members' rooms at will. The public, being ignorant of the stringent rules of St. Stephen's, cannot understand the obstacles there are to seeing the House. One instance will suffice to show the absurdity of the rules. The ex-Treasurer of the House of Lords, whose acquaintance I had, and whose offices were in the corridor by the Select Chamber, could not take anyone into the House, even when it was empty, without a written order. Although armed with a Gallery Ticket, and also on the "Lobby list," i.e., the right to enter the Inner Lobby, I was not free to make any sketches of the House itself, inside or out. Requiring to get such material for the elaborate interiors and exteriors I use in my Lecture-Entertainment, "The Humours of Parliament," I boldly bearded the highest official in his den, and left with this simple document. Aladdin's key could not have caused more surprise than this talisman. The head of the police, the Sergeant-at-Arms himself, could not interfere. "The Palace of Westminster" includes the House of Commons, so I made full use of my unique opportunity, and possess material invaluable for my Parliamentary work.
I had facilities in another way. At one time the Engineer-in-Chief was a friend of mine, Dr. Percy. Few men were better known in and about the House than this popular official engineer of the Palace of Westminster. To begin with, he was over six feet high, and had a voice that would carry from the Commons to the House of Lords. He had to be "all over the place"—under the House, over the House, and all round the House. He was as well-known in the smoking-room of the Garrick Club as he was in the smoking-room of the Commons, and it was when I joined the Garrick I made his acquaintance. He was also an art connoisseur, and had a very fine collection of water-colours. The first time I saw the Doctor was years before on a steamer on the Rance, between Normandy and Brittany. I made a sketch of his extraordinary features, so that when he entered the Garrick Club I recognised the original of my caricature. We frequently walked down to the Houses of Parliament together after dinner, and more than once he invited me behind the scenes and under the stage of Parliament, through the "fog filter" and ventilating shafts, when he was wont to indulge in a grim, saturnine humour appropriate to his subterranean subject. As he opened the iron doors for us to pass from one passage to another, close to and above which the benches are situated,—for the whole House is honeycombed for ventilating purposes,—he pretended that long experience enabled him to discriminate between the odours from different parts of the House, and declared that he could tap and draw off a specimen of the atmosphere on the Government benches, the Opposition side, or the Radical seats, at will.
"There, my boy! eh? Pretty thick, aint it? That's the Scotch lot. Now hold your nose. I open this door and we get the Irish draught. Ugh! Come on, come on quickly—mixture of Irish, working-men M.P.'s, and Rads. Kill a horse!"
The table of the House, which Mr. Disraeli erroneously described as "a solid piece of furniture," is in reality—like so many arguments which are flung across it—perfectly hollow; and one evening when I arrived with Dr. Percy and found that in consequence of the winding-up speech of Mr. Gladstone in a great debate the Press Gallery was full and all the seats under the gallery were occupied, Dr. Percy kindly allowed me to sit inside the table. I was sorely tempted to try the effect of inserting my pencil through the grating which forms the side of the table, and tickle the shins of the right hon. gentleman. Anyway, I looked straight into the faces of the Ministers and those on the front bench, and not only heard every word, but the asides and whispers as well.
I only once caricatured Dr. Percy in Punch (December, 1886), after there had been a sort of earthquake in the Inner Lobby of the House, and the tesselated pavement was thrown up. I made a drawing, "The House up at last." Dr. Percy "is personally directing the improvements." It is interesting to know that some of the pavement taken up on that occasion is laid in the hall of an hon. Member's house in the country, not far from West Kirby, Cheshire.
THE VILLAIN OF ART.
One frequently hears the remark, "Caricature is so ugly." Well, certainly pure caricature is the villain of art, and the popular draughtsman, like the popular actor, should, to remain popular in his work, always play the virtuous hero. If the leading actor must play the villain, he takes care to make up inoffensive and tame. So the villain caricaturist need not be "ugly"—but then he cannot be strong. Nor is it left to an actor—unless he be the star or actor-manager—to remain popular by being tame and pretty in every part. So is the caricaturist, if he is not the star, liable to be cast to play the villain whether he likes it or not, and if he is a genuine worker he will not shrink from the part, merely to remain popular and curry favour with those deserving to be satirised.
Now in Punch, as I was cast for it, I played the villain's part. In doing so I was at times necessarily "ugly," and therefore to some unpopular. I confess I felt it my duty not to shrink from being "ugly," although whenever I could I introduced some redeeming element into my designs—the figure of a girl, allegorical of Parliament or whatever the "ugly" subject might happen to be—but in some of my Punch drawings this relief was impossible. For instance, the series of "Puzzle Heads," in each of which a portrait of the celebrity is built up of personal attributes, characteristics, or incidents in the career of the person represented, could not but be unpleasant pictures. Some subscribers threatened to give up the paper if they were continued; others became subscribers for these Puzzle Heads alone. It is ever so. The old saying, "One man's meat is another's poison," is as applicable to caricature as to anything else. It is impossible to please all tastes when catering for the large public, unless an editor is satisfied to be stereotyped and perfunctory; but Mr. Punch has made his name by his strength, not his weakness, and it may be safely inferred that no Tory thinks less of him for having used all his talent in attacking Benjamin Disraeli year after year as no man has been attacked before—or since—in his pages.
In looking through the volumes of Punch one is apt to forget that the strong situations and stirring events by which a caricaturist's hit is made effective at the time of publication fade from one's memory. The cartoon in all its strength remains a record of an event which has lost its interest. One cannot always realise that the drawing was only strong because the feeling and interest at the time of its conception demanded it. Allowance should therefore be made for the villain's ugly caricature, if it is a good drawing, prophetically correct, and therefore historically interesting.
Perhaps no cartoon of mine in Punch caused such hostile criticism as "The New Cabinet" (August 27, 1892). It gave great offence to the Gladstonians. The Radical Press attacked me ferociously, and as I think most unfairly, for they treated it politically and not pictorially, and severely reprimanded Mr. Punch for publishing it. Had it been a Conservative Cabinet the Tory Press would not have resented it or allowed narrow-minded party politics to prejudice their mind in such trivial matters. Punch is supposed to be non-political. Its present editor is impartial. Mr. Punch's traditions are Whig, and somehow or other a certain class of its readers at that particular crisis was strongly opposed to the two sides of a question being treated. Yet I venture to say two-thirds of the readers of Punch are Conservatives, and should therefore be amused. It is impossible to treat a strong political subject—such as the meeting of that particular Cabinet caricatured by me—without offending some readers by amusing others, unless, as I say, the subject is treated in a colourless manner. This particular cartoon hurt because it hit a strong situation in a truthful and straight-forward manner, and subsequent events proved it to be a correct conception. Yet at the time no name was too bad for me, and as these are my confessions, let me assure the public that had the Cabinet been a Conservative one I would have treated it in exactly the same way; and it is my firm conviction that had such been the case I would have given no offence either inside or outside of Mr. Punch's office.
My readers will sympathise with me. I am to draw political cartoons without being political; I am to draw caricatures without being personal; I am to be funny without holding my subject up to ridicule; I am to be effective without being strong—in fact, I am to be a caricaturist without caricature! On the other hand, no cartoon I ever drew for Punch was more popular. Non-politicians were good enough to accept it as an antidote to the usual caricatures, and those papers on the other side of politics were extravagantly complimentary, and I received a large sum for the original for a private collection. I allow the following leaderette from the Birmingham Post to illustrate the point, and at the same time to describe the cartoon. The same paper, I may add, comments on the principal cartoon in Punch that week—drawn by Tenniel—as showing that Punch "thinks little of the prospects of the present Government":
"'Mr. Punch' is in 'excellent fooling' this week. Rarely has he, even he, more happily burlesqued a political situation than in Mr. Harry Furniss's cartoon of 'The New Cabinet.' Not a word of explanation accompanies the picture: it is good wine, needing no bush, and making very merry. A glance suffices to seize its meaning, for it expresses a thought that has flitted, at one time or another, through everyone's mind. The big moment has come when Mr. Gladstone is to reveal to his colleagues the secret he has hitherto withheld from them, not less than from the electorate—to submit to them, masterly, succinct, complete, the scheme which, with unexampled courage and sublimest modesty, they have defended on trust, for which they have sacrificed their personal independence without knowing why, and as to which, painful to remember, they have sometimes blundered into confident and contradictory conjecture. We can picture the subtle excitement—in one Minister of joyful expectation, in another of horrid misgiving—under which they have come together. Well, Mr. Gladstone unfolds the fateful document, and lo! it is a blank sheet. Paralysis and grim despair fall upon the spirits of the assembly; face to face with a nightmare reality, not a man amongst them has strength to say, 'This is a dream.' At the head of the table, his elbows resting on the parchment, and an undipped quill actually split upon it in his angry grasp, sits the Premier, a never-to-be-forgotten picture of impotent ill-humour. The task with which the Cabinet is confronted, for him as for the rest, is impossible and yet inexorable. In the candle-flame, by an effect of hallucination natural at such a moment, the face of Mr. O'Brien seems to limn itself out, implacable and contemptuous; and there is a fearsome shadow on the blind—the massive head of Lord Salisbury. The candle, marked '40,' is the majority, which dwindles while the Ministers are sadly musing; and over the mantelpiece, behind the Premier's chair, mutely reproachful, hangs a picture of the great Cabinet of 1880. It is distinctly the best thing Mr. Furniss has done."
That impression was shared by my private friends as well, even those on Punch. My dear friend Mr. E. J. Milliken, a strong Radical, and a most active member of the staff, in a reply to a letter of mine, in which I intimated that I was afraid my cartoon would give offence, replied in a most flattering spirit.
I had to play the "villain" in another scene in the same political drama, "Mr. Punch's Historical Cartoons" (1893), in which the same Cabinet is shown in Mr. Gladstone's room in the "Bauble Shop"—the House of Commons. Those Radicals who had not joined the Unionists again took offence. Those Radicals who had become Unionist wrote to congratulate me. From one well-known and powerful personality, a historical name in the publishing world, I received the following:
"February 23rd, 1893.
"Your cartoon p. 95 delights us all. I have looked at it twenty times and seen fresh points in it. Nothing for years, I should say, has so entirely caught the very spirit of a great crisis.
"We shall owe something to you for this felicitous exposure of Gladstone's insane Bill. Alas! the miners and the brickies, the costermongers and the dust-cart drivers, have now the power. The middle class has been out-numbered, and if it were not that some labouring men and artisans have hard heads enough to comprehend the position we should be landed in a pretty pickle next September.
"It is a pity traitors' heads are nowadays their own copyright."
A "copyright" in heads is a good suggestion, and coming from a publisher too! But apart from "traitors," there are others known to a caricaturist. The House of Commons at one time was rich in them. Some such works of art suffer in being translated. Indeed, what the poet "Ballyhooley" wrote of one might apply to others:
"Darwin MacNeill, all the papers are hot on you, Darwin MacNeill, they are writing a lot on you. What in the world sort of face have you got on you? Send us your photograph, Darwin MacNeill. Surely you must be both lovely and pure! Have you got fatures that nothing can cure? Let's have the first of it, Let's know the worst of it: Is your face only a caricature? Here's a health to you, Darwin MacNeill, Let penny canes all your enemies feel; Show me the crature would slander a fature Of the beautiful Mimber for ould Donegal.
"Our childhers are dull, and we wish to be brightening them Send us your picture and we'll be enlightening them, Maybe 'twill only be useful for frightening them; Still let us have it, dear Darwin MacNeill. Shut up the slander and talk they are at, Show us the head you've got under your hat; True every particle, genuine article, Send us your picture in answer to that. Here's a health to you, etc.
"I hear that the Queen she has simply gone crazy, man; Says she to Gladstone, 'Get out, you old lazy man! Cannot you see that I'll never be aisy, man, Till I've a portrait of Darwin MacNeill?' When of that picture she first got a sight, She held it up, so they say, to the light, Looked at the head of it, then all she said of it, 'I'm of opinion that Darwin is right.' Here's a health to you, etc.
"There's just arrived now, to give great content to us, A lovely picture, which someone has sent to us. We know the worst now, for there has been sent to us What's called a portrait of Darwin MacNeill. If it's a likeness, I just tell you what, That you have acted in ways you should not. Don't try a turn of fists On with the journalists; Thrash those who gave you the head you have got. But here's a health to you, Darwin MacNeill! Only just manage new fatures to steal, Then show me the crature would slander a fature Of the beautiful Mimber for ould Donegal."
This "Pen Portrait," by Mr. Robert Martin, refers to a matter of much regret to me. I have to confess my sorrow that I was the means of making a Member of Parliament ridiculous! The innocent item came in the ordinary course of my work for Punch. I was sent an incident to illustrate for the Diary of Toby, M.P., which, when published, was used as an excuse to "technically assault" me in the Inner Lobby of the House of Commons.
Perhaps in the circumstances I may be pardoned if I confess a secret connected with these Parliamentary caricatures. For some years I provided a page drawing and some small cuts in every number during Parliament—the latter were generally sketches of Members of Parliament. These single portraits were supplied in advance, and engraved proofs sent in a book to Mr. Lucy to select from week by week. The following letter is worth quoting in full as a characteristic letter from the Editor, typical of his light and pleasant way of transacting business with his staff:
"Dear H. F.,—"Please keyindly see that H. L. (not 'Labby,' but 'Lucy') has all your parliamentarians whom you (as your predecessor Henry VIII. did) have executed on the block sent to him, as he found himself unprovided up to the last moment and so wrote to me in his haste.
"(?) Fancy portrait. Our artist, H. F., as Henry VIII. taking off his victims' heads on the block, eh? "Yours, "F. C. B."
To this rule, however, there were exceptions. This particular caricature was one of them: it was drawn at the last moment to illustrate a particular passage in Mr. Lucy's Diary of Toby, M.P. Here it is:
"'Look here, Bartley,' said Tommy Bowles; 'if you're going on that tack, you must come and sit on this side. When I saw MacNeill open his mouth to speak, I confess I thought I was going to be swallowed whole. You sit here; there's more of you.'"
Now had I shown "Pongo," as he was familiarly called in the House, in the act of swallowing "Tommy Bowles," I might have produced a most objectionable caricature. I made, however, a smiling portrait of the genial Member. I was away at the time recovering from a long illness: the sketch was made in the country, and sent up to the Punch engraver's office. By some mistake there, it was not reduced in size in reproduction as others had been; therefore in the paper it was apparently given extra importance—I had nothing to do with that. That Mr. Lucy's reference to Mr. MacNeill is not a caricature can be judged by anyone reading the passage I had to illustrate, given above. The notion that the drawing was purposely produced on a larger scale than usual, so as to give this special caricature prominence, is disproved by the fact that the caricature of the gallant and genial Admiral Field I drew exactly under the same conditions appears on the same page also far too large. Therefore it is a mistaken idea that this particular portrait was intentionally offensive, or different from others.
It was really the combination of circumstances, if anything, that called special attention to that particular page in Punch, and gave rise to
A SCENE IN THE LOBBY.
I shall, in describing the curtain rising on this historical incident, borrow Mr. Lucy's own account of the way in which the Member approached me after he had seen my illustration to Mr. Lucy's clever Diary of the Week:
"It was shortly after seven o'clock that Mr. Harry Furniss strolled into the Lobby. He had been suffering from a long and severe sickness, dedicating this the first evening of his convalescence to a visit to the scene of labours which have delighted mankind. Over the place there brooded an air of ineffable peace. The bustle of the earlier hour of meeting was stilled. The drone of talk went on in the half-empty House within the glass doors. Now and then a Member hastily crossed the floor of the Lobby, intent on preparations for dinner. One of these chanced to be Mr. Swift MacNeill, a Member who, beneath occasional turbulence of manner, scarcely conceals the gentlest, kindliest disposition, a gentleman by birth and training, a scholar and a patriot. The House, whilst it sometimes laughs at his exuberance of manner, always shows that it likes him. Mr. Furniss, seeing him approach with hurried step, may naturally have expected that he was making haste to offer those congratulations on renewed health and reappearance on the scene of labour that had already been proffered from other quarters. What followed has been told by Mr. Furniss in language the simplicity and graphicness of which Defoe could not have excelled."
Mr. Lucy refers to the following account I wrote at the time:
"On my return to continue my work in Parliament for Mr. Punch after my severe illness, I found the jaded legislators yearning for fresh air, and even the approaching final division on the Home Rule Bill had failed to arouse more than a languid interest. I felt this depression when I entered the Lobby, its sole occupants being the tired-out doorkeepers and the leg-weary policemen. I really believe a swarm of wasps would not have roused them to activity, for I noticed a bluebottle resting undisturbed upon the nose of one of Inspector Horsley's staff. Even the Terrace was dusty, and the Members rusty and morose. One of the Irish Members had selected as his friend Frank Slavin, the well-known prize-fighter, who had an admiring group round him, to whom no doubt he was relating the history of his many plucky battles.
"The stimulating effect of this may have been the cause for the assault upon me in the Inner Lobby, which has afforded the stale House some little excitement, which has been the salvation of the silly season. So many papers have given startling accounts of this attack upon me, some stating that I was caned, others that I was pummelled, shaken like a dog, and so on, that I am glad to take the opportunity of giving a clear statement of what really occurred. I was standing close to the doors of the Inner Lobby, talking to Mr. Cuthbert Quilter, when Mr. Swift MacNeill interrupted us by asking me, 'Are you the man that draws the cartoons in Punch?' 'That depends upon what they are,' said I. 'I refer to one,' said the excited Member, 'that has annoyed me very much,' 'Let me see it,' I replied. Mr. MacNeill then drew out his pocket-book and showed me a cutting from the current number of Punch. 'Yes,' I said, 'that is from a drawing of mine,' 'Then ye're a low, black-guardly scoundrel,' melodramatically exclaimed the usually genial Member. Taking two or three steps back, he hissed at me, with a livid face, a series of offensive epithets too coarse for publication. Having exhausted his vocabulary of vulgarity, a happy thought seemed to strike him. 'I want to assault you,' he said, and forthwith he nervously and gingerly tapped me as if he were playing with a hot coal. He then danced off to Members who were looking on, crying, 'This is the scoundrel who has caricatured me; witness, I assault him!' and he recommenced the tapping process which constituted this technical assault. Knowing that Mr. MacNeill is a very excitable subject, and at once detecting that this assault was a 'put-up job,' I was determined to remain perfectly cool; and, truth to tell, the pirouetting of the agitated Member hugely amused me, particularly as the more excited he became, the more he resembled the caricature which was the cause, or supposed to be the cause, of this attack, I treated the hon. Member exactly as the policeman treated the bluebottle—with perfect indifference, not even troubling to brush away the trifling annoyance. But when in the midst of its buzzing round me I moved in the direction of one of the officials, it flew away. Then appeared what I had been anticipating, and the real cause of the insult transpired. Dr. Tanner came up to me just as I recollect Slavin approaching Jackson in their historic fight. He showered the grossest insults upon me, and I was surrounded at once by his clique, who were anxious for the scene which must have occurred had I, like Jackson, been the first to let out with my left. But here again was I face to face with a chronically excited Member, backed up by his friends, and I refused to be drawn into a brawl. But the secret of the real cause of this organised attack upon me was revealed to me by Dr. Tanner, who at once informed me that it was the outcome of my imitations of the Irish Members in my entertainment, 'The Humours of Parliament,' which I have given for two seasons all over the country. This was my offence; my caricature of Mr. Swift MacNeill the excuse for the attack."
Mr. MacNeill's "technical assault" was a very childish incident. He merely touched the sleeve of my coat with the tip of his finger, and asked me if I would accept that as a "technical assault." This mysterious pantomime was subsequently explained to me, and meant that I was to take out a summons—but I only laughed. At the moment Mr. MacNeill was pirouetting round me at a distance, Mr. John Burns came on to the scene, and chaffed Mr. MacNeill, drawing an imaginary picture (for Mr. Burns was not in the Lobby) of a real assault upon me. A gentleman connected with an evening paper, who happened to enter with Mr. Burns, failed to see Mr. Burns's humour, and thereupon took down in shorthand Mr. Burns's imaginary picture as a matter of fact. It was published as a fact, and, for all I know or care, some may still believe that I was assaulted!
When I read that I had been treated like a cur, I was rather amused; but when I read a statement in the papers from a man like John Burns saying that he saw me "taken by the lapels of the coat and shaken like a dog, and then taken by the ear and shaken by that," I thought the joke had been carried far enough. Determined to have this cock-and-bull story contradicted at once, I went down to the House and saw Mr. John Burns, who expressed to me his regret that he should have invented the story, and he left me to go to the writing-room, and promised I should have from him a written contradiction.
After waiting a considerable time, a message was brought to me that Mr. Burns declined to keep his promise. I therefore wrote these particulars and sent them off to the Press. At the same time Mr. Burns, who had been closeted with some Radical journalists, wrote an offensive note—which was shown me, and which I advised him to publish.
Poor Mr. MacNeill! Well may he say, "Save me from my friends!" The Press put on their comic men to make copy at his expense. If I were to publish it all, it would make a volume as large as this. By permission I publish the following lay from the St. James' Budget (September, 1893):
"THE LAY OF SWIFT MACNEILL.
(Picked up in the Lobby.)
"Have ye heard, have ye heard, of the late immortal fray, When the lion back of Swift MacNeill got up and stood at bay, When the lion voice of Tanner cried, 'To Judas wid yer chaff!' An' the Saxon knees were shaking, though they made believe to laugh.
"'Twas widin the Commons' Lobby, in the corner by the dure, There was Misther Harry Furniss a-standing on the flure, When up to him came stalking, like O'Tarquin in his pride, The bowldest of the bowld, MacNeill, wid the Docther by his side.
"Then the valiant Swift MacNeill from his pocket he took out A picther very like him, an' he brandished it about, An' he held it up to Furniss for his Saxon eyes to see, An' he asked of him, 'Ye spalpeen, is this porthrait meant for me?'
"''Tis your likeness, as I see it,' was the answer that he got, An' the wrath of Misther Swift MacNeill then wax'd exceeding hot, An' he cast the picther from him, an' he trod it on the ground, An' he took an' danced an Irish jig the artist's form around.
"'Ye spalpeen,' thus again he spoke, 'ye most obnoxious fellow! Ye see that I'm a lion, yet ye've made me a gorilla; If your Saxon eyes are blinded to the truth of what I say, Go and borrow for a moment the glasses of Tay Pay.
"'They will show ye that our seventy are Apollos one and all, That we're most divinely lovely an' seraphically tall; They will show ye we're all angels—though for divils I'll allow, 'Tis the black ones ye'll be seeing where the lost to Redmond bow.'
"Then Misther Swift MacNeill, just to lave his meaning clear, Wid flowers of Irish eloquence filled Mr. Furniss' ear; An' he also shook wid passion, an', moreover, shook his fist, An' the Docther an' his blackthorn stood all ready to assist.
"Misther Furniss smiled serenely, an' the only word he spoke Was to say it seemed that Misther Swift was slow to see a joke, But for all his jokes an' blarney, things were looking like a fight, When a minion of the Spayker was seen to be in sight.
"Then Apollo Swift MacNeill from his dignity got down, An' he withered Misther Furniss wid a godlike parting frown, An' he stalked along the Lobby wid his grand O'Tarquin stride, An' the other Mimbers followed him, an' went the House inside.
"An' there they still are threading on the necks of Saxon slaves, An' nightly wid their eloquence they're digging Saxon graves; An' my counsel to the artist who their fatures would porthray, Is to thry and see their beauty through the glasses of Tay Pay."
This manufactured "scene," coming as it did in the silly season, was made to serve instead of the Sea-Serpent, the Toad-in-the-Rock, the Shower of Frogs, and other familiar inventions for holiday reading. Unfortunately the poor Members of Parliament obliged to remain in St. Stephen's had to suffer far more than I did through the eccentricity of Mr. Swift MacNeill. Several of them complained to me that he lured them into the corridors and corners of the House, and then vigorously set to work to demonstrate practically how he assaulted me, or how he imagined he assaulted me, to the discomfiture and consternation of the poor M.P's.
I should like to explain why this "technical assault" on me was not made a matter of discussion. I did intend a friendly Member should have brought it before the Speaker, and in that way published the truth of the matter and exposed the stupid inventions of Burns & Co. With that object I had an interview with the Speaker, and he implored me not under any circumstances to have it brought before the House. He was already tired, at the end of a trying session, and did not want any personal questions discussed, which invariably led to protracted scenes. For that reason, and for that reason only, it was not mentioned in Parliament, notwithstanding it was really a much more serious affair than was imagined. It was a deliberately organised conspiracy. When I was leaving the Lobby, after my amusing interview with Mr. MacNeill, in which he told me that I was "technically assaulted," Chief Inspector Horsley took me down a private passage, and informed me that he had been looking for me, as he had discovered there was a conspiracy to attack me, and at that moment nine or ten Members from Ireland were in the passage downstairs, out of which I would have in the ordinary course gone through, lying in wait for me. So I left with him by another door.
In this I was not more to blame than other caricaturists, but I was more in evidence, and was selected to be "technically assaulted," so as to force me to bring an action, in which all papers, except those supporting the Irish Party, would have been attacked and discussed, and their influence if possible injured for purely political purposes. An aggrieved person, smarting under a gross injustice, does not "technically assault" the aggressor. Had Mr. McNeill tried it on with me, weak and ill as I was, I think I had enough power to oblige him; as it happened, I only saw the humour of the thing.
One of the most amusing sketches I received was this from Sir Frank Lockwood. Lockwood and I frequently exchanged caricatures, as shown by the clever sketches I introduce here and there in these pages. Sometimes he sent me some chaffing note written in a disguised hand, and disguised drawing; but the latter experiment, although it failed to deceive, certainly entertained me greatly. Here is a letter supposed to be from Lord Cross, a favourite subject of mine when he was in the Lower House. Seldom a week passed but I made his nose shorter and his upper lip longer, made his head stick out, and his spectacles glisten. Did he object? No, no! "Grand Cross" is a man of the world; nor was he ever a mere notoriety-seeking political adventurer. I once met him at dinner, and we chatted over my caricatures of him, and I recollect his saying, "A man is not worth anything if he is thin-skinned, and certainly not worth much if he cannot enjoy a joke at his own expense."
Sir Frank Lockwood whiled away the weary hours in Parliament to his own amusement and those around him, but he was not aware perhaps that what he did was seen from the Ladies' Gallery. The ladies got a birdseye view of his caricatures in progress. One in particular was the cause of much amusement, not only to the ladies, but to the Members. My lady informant related the incident to me thus: "I always watch Mr. Lockwood sketching, and I saw he had his eye on the burly figure of a friend of mine sitting on the Ministerial bench. Mr. Gladstone turned round to say something to him, and his quick eye detected Mr. Lockwood sketching. The artistic Q.C. handed the sketch (which I saw was a caricature of the late Lord Advocate) to Mr. Gladstone, who fairly doubled up with laughter, and handed it to those on either side of him. Eventually it was sent over to Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Balfour, and they thoroughly enjoyed the caricature of themselves, as did all their Tory friends. But we had seen it first!" It may have been this sketch subsequently sent to me and redrawn in Punch.
I recall an incident which happened one evening when I was on watch in the Inner Lobby to find and sketch a newly-elected M.P., who, I heard, was about to make his maiden speech, and it was most important I should catch him. Just as I was going up to the Press Gallery, Sir Frank Lockwood came into the Lobby and offered to get me a seat under the Gallery where I could see the new M.P. to advantage. The new M.P. was "up," so Lockwood went into the House to fetch me the Sergeant's order. I waited impatiently for his return; a long time passed; still I waited. A smiling Member came out of the House, and I asked him if he had seen Lockwood. "Oh, rather," he replied, smiling still; "I've just been sitting by him, watching him make a capital caricature of a chap making his maiden speech." When the Member had finished his speech, Lockwood ran out, and cheeringly apologised to me for his absent-mindedness. "So tempting, you know, old chap, I couldn't resist sketching him!"
Sir Frank Lockwood was perhaps the most favourable modern specimen of the buoyant amateur. Possessing a big heart, kindly feeling, a brilliant wit, and a facile pen, he treated art as his playfellow and never as his master. And in the spirit in which his work was executed so must it be judged. The work of an amateur artist possessing a distinct vein of humour is, in my opinion, far more entertaining than that of the professional caricaturist, the former being absolutely spontaneous and untrammelled by the conscientiousness of subsequent publication, of correct draughtsmanship, made only from impressions of the moment, and not the effort (as in the case of many a professional humorist) of having to be funny to order.
An excellent example of the amateur at his best is to be found in the drawings of Sir Frank Lockwood. No one would resent less than Lockwood himself having the term "amateur" applied to his work; indeed, he would, I am sure, have felt proud to be classed in the same category as several of our most popular humorous artists.
Circumstances connected with a curious coincidence concerning a caricature (what alliteration!) are worth confirming.
One morning I was taking my usual horse exercise round the ride in the inner circle of Regent's Park, before that spot, once the quiet haunt of the horseman, became the noisy ring of the cyclist. At that time a few cycling beginners used the circle for practice, and their alarming performances were gradually depleting the number of equestrians. One of these novices came down the hill, having an arm round the neck of his instructor, and one leg on the pedal, the other in mid air. He was unable to steer the machine, and as I cantered up, the performer's hat, which had been over one eye, fell off, disclosing the features of Professor Bryce. The next moment the machine, its rider and his instructor, were "all of a heap" on the ride up which my horse was cantering. I had just time to jump my horse on to the path and thus save my own neck, and the life of the energetic Member of Parliament, who I noticed later in the day, when sitting in the Press Gallery, was on the front Opposition bench, next to Sir Frank Lockwood, quite unconcerned. I made a rough sketch of the incident of the morning, and sent it down to my brother Two Pins, Sir Frank, with a request that his friend Bryce should in future select some other spot to practise bicycling. This was handed to Lockwood just as he was leaving the House, strange to say, on his way home to dress for a dinner at Professor Bryce's. Lockwood mischievously placed the sketch in the pocket of his dress coat, and at the dinner led up to the subject of cycling, suggesting at the same time that his host ought to try it.
"Well, strange to say, Lockwood, I've been seriously thinking of it, but I don't know how one should begin."
"Don't you?" cried Lockwood from the other end of the table. "What do you say to this, nearly killing my friend Harry Furniss!" And my caricature was produced and handed down from guest to guest, to the chagrin of the host. That was Lockwood's version of the coincidence.
Suggestions for Punch came to me from most unexpected quarters, but were rarely of any use. Lewis Carroll—like every one else—got excited over the Gladstonian crisis, and Sir William Harcourt's head to Lewis Carroll was much the same as Charles the First's to Mr. Dick in "David Copperfield," for I find in several letters references to Sir William.
"Re Gladstone's head and its recent growth, couldn't you make a picture of it for the 'Essence of Parliament'? I would call it 'Toby's Dream of A.D. 1900,' and have Gladstone addressing the House, with his enormous head supported by Harcourt on one side, and Parnell on the other."
This suggestion is the only one I adopted. Strange to say, neither Gladstone, Parnell, nor Lewis Carroll lived to see 1900.
"Is that anecdote in the papers true, that some one has sent you a pebble with an accidental (and not a 'doctored') likeness of Harcourt? If so, let me suggest that your most graceful course of action will be to have it photographed, and to present prints of it to any authors whose books you may at any time chance to illustrate!"
This is the "anecdote":
"Someone found on the seashore the other day a pebble moulded exactly on the lines of Mr. Furniss' portrait of Sir William Harcourt."
Other notices were in verse. This from Vanity Fair is the best:
"For Fame, 'tis said, Sir William craves, And to some purpose he has sought her; His face is fashioned by the waves: When will his name be 'writ in water'?"
I lay under a charge of plagiarism. Nature had "invented" my Harcourt portrait, and had been at work upon it probably before I was born; the wild waves had by degrees moulded a shell into the familiar features, and when completed had left the sea-sculptured sketch high and dry on the coast. I now publish, with thanks, a photo-reproduction of the shell (not a pebble) as I received it: it is not in any way "doctored." It is a large, weather-beaten shell.
There is no doubt but that at one time Lewis Carroll studied Punch, for in one of his earliest letters to me he writes:
"To the best of my recollection, one of the first things that suggested to me the wish to secure your help was a marvellously successful picture in Punch of a House of Lords entirely composed of Harcourts, where the figures took all possible attitudes, and gave all possible views of the face; yet each was a quite unmistakable Sir William Harcourt!"
Again he refers to Punch (March, 1890):
"A wish has been expressed in our Common Room (Christ's Church, Oxford), where we take in and bind Punch, that we could have 'keys' to the portraits in the Bishop of Lincoln's Trial and the 'ciphers' in Parliament" (a Parliamentary design of mine, "The House all Sixes and Sevens"). "Will you confer that favour on our Club? If you would give me them done roughly, I will procure copies of those two numbers, and subscribe the names in small MS. print, and have the pages bound in to face the pictures. The simplest way would be for you to put numbers on the faces, and send a list of names numbered to correspond."
Yet a few years brought a change (October, 1894):
"No doubt it is by your direction that three numbers of your new periodical have come to me. With many thanks for your kind thought, I will beg you not to waste your bounties on so unfit a recipient, for I have neither time nor taste for any such literature. I have much more work yet to do than I am likely to have life to do it in—and my taste for comic papers is defunct. We take in Punch in our Common Room, but I never look at it!"
Hardly a generous remark to make to a Punch man who had illustrated two of his books, and considering that Sir John Tenniel had done so much to make the author's reputation, and Punch had always been so friendly; but this is a bygone.
PUNCH AT PLAY.
Well, Sir John, the Grand Old Man of Punch, the evergreen, the ever-delightful Sir John, has earned a night's repose after all his long day of glorious work and good-fellowship. "A great artist and a great gentleman": truer words were never spoken. It seems but yesterday he and I took our rides together; but yesterday he and I and poor Milliken—three Punch men in a boat—were "squaring up" at Cookham after a week's delightful boating holiday on the Thames.
"There sat three oarsmen under a tree, Down, a-down, a-down—hey down! They were as puzzled as puzzled could be, With a down; And one of them said to his mate, 'We've got these mems in a doose of a state,' With a down derry, derry down!
"Oh, they were wild, these oarsmen three, Down, a-down, a-down—hey down! Especially one with the white puggree, With a down; For it's precious hard to divide by three A sum on whose total you can't agree, With a down derry, derry down!
"They bit their pencils and tore their hair, Down, a-down, a-down—hey down! But those blessed bills, they wouldn't come square, With a down; 'Midst muddle and smudge it is hard to fix If a six is a nine or a nine is a six, With a down derry, derry down!
"A crumpled account from a pocket of flannel Down, a-down, a-down—hey down! With dirt in dabs, and the rain in a channel, With a down, Is worse to decipher than uniform text, Oh, that is the verdict of oarsmen vext, With a down derry, derry down!
"A man in a boat his ease will take, Down, a-down, a-down—hey down! But financial conscience at last will wake, With a down; Then Nemesis proddeth the prodigal soul When he finds that the parts are much more than the whole, With a down derry, derry down!
"Those oarsmen are having a deuce of a time, Down, a-down, a-down—hey down! The man in the puggree is ripe for crime, With a down. Now heaven send every boating man For keeping accounts a more excellent plan, With a down derry, derry down!"
So pencilled poet Milliken. "The man in the puggree" is Sir John,—ripe for many years to come, and when he has another banquet, may I be there to see.
The Two Pins Club was a Punch institution.
Original notice of
"THE TWO PINS CLUB.
"There are Coaching Clubs, Four-in-hand Clubs, Tandem Clubs, and Sporting Clubs of all sorts, but there is no Equestrian Club.
"The object of the present proposed Club is to supply this want.
"The Members will meet on Sundays, and ride to some place within easy reach of town: there lunch, spend a few hours, and return.
"Due notice will be given of each 'Meet,' and replies must be sent in to the Secretary by Wednesday afternoon at latest. When it is considered necessary, Luncheon will be ordered beforehand for the party, and those who have neglected to reply by the time fixed, and who do not attend the Meet, will be charged with their share of the Luncheon.
"There will be other Meets besides those on Sundays, which will be arranged by the Members from time to time.
"The title of the Club is taken from the names of the two most celebrated English Equestrians known to 'the road,' viz.:—
"The Members of 'THE TWO PINS' will represent all the dash of the one and all the respectability of the other.
"The original Members at present are:—
MR. F. C. BURNAND. MR. JOHN TENNIEL. MR. LINLEY SAMBOURNE. MR. HARRY FURNISS. MR. R. LEHMANN.
"It is not proposed at first to exceed the number of twelve. The other names down for invitation to become members are—
MR. FRANK LOCKWOOD, Q.C., M.P. MR. JOHN HARE. SIR CHARLES RUSSELL, Q.C., M.P.
"We hope you will join. The eight Members can then settle a convenient day for the first Meet, and inaugurate the TWO PINS CLUB.
 "N.B. No hounds."
The Two Pins Club was started in 1890, and flourished until its President, Lord Russell, was elevated to the Bench. My only claim for distinction in connection with it rests on the fact that I was the only member who, except when I was in mid-Atlantic on my return from the States, never missed a meet. Were the Club now a going concern, I would, of course, refrain from mentioning it, but as it is referred to in the "History of Punch" by Mr. Spielmann, and in "John Hare, Comedian," by Mr. Pemberton, I may be pardoned and also forgiven for repeating the one joke ever made public in connection with this remarkable Club.
One afternoon our cavalcade was approaching Weybridge, which had been the scene of the boyish pranks of one of our members. To the amusement of us all, this brother Two Pins, as reminiscences of the district were recalled to him by one object and another, grew terribly excited.
"Ah, my boys, there is the dear old oak tree under which I smoked my first cigarette! And there, where the new church stands, I shot my first snipe. Dear me, how all is altered! I wonder if old Sir Henry Tomkins still lives in the Lodge there, and what has become of the Rector's pretty daughter?" etc.
Sir Frank Lockwood, observing lettering on the side of a house, "General Stores," casually asked our excited reminiscent friend if he "knew a General Stores about these parts?"
"General Stores! Of course I do, but he was only a Captain when I lived here!"
When the members lunched at The Durdans our host and honorary member, Lord Rosebery, remarked that it was a Club of "one joke and one horse!" the fact being that we all drove over from Tadworth, Lord Russell's residence, where we were staying, with the exception of Lord Russell himself, who rode. We had, of course, each a horse: some of the members a great deal more than one, but we were careful to trot out one joke between us: "General Stores" became our general and only story.
The first public announcement respecting the Club appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the 4th of May, 1891:
"The T.P.C. held its first annual meeting at the 'Star and Garter Hotel' yesterday morning. There was a full attendance of members. Under the careful and conciliatory guidance of the President, Sir Charles Russell, supported mainly by Mr. F. C. Burnand, Mr. Frank Lockwood, Mr. Harry Furniss, Mr. Edward Lawson, Mr. Charles Mathews, Mr. John Hare, Mr. Linley Sambourne, and Mr. R. Lehmann (hon. sec.), the customary business was satisfactorily transacted, and the principal subjects for discussion were dealt with in a spirit of intelligent self-control. Mr. Arthur Russell was unanimously elected a member of the association, which in point of numbers is now complete."
But the object of the Club being carefully concealed, much mystery surrounds its name. Few were aware that it was merely a band of "Sontag-Reiters." Our hon. sec., being at the time prominent in politics, received congratulations from those who imagined the T.P.C. was a political association, and much wonderment was excited by the decidedly enigmatical appellation of the small and select society. Sir Edward Lawson showed marked ingenuity in retaining the mystery by his paragraphs in his paper. The first meet of our second season was the only one I missed during the years the Club existed:
"The first meeting of the T.P.C. for the season of 1892 took place yesterday at the 'Star and Garter Hotel,' under the presidency of Sir Charles Russell, who was assisted in the performance of his duties by Mr. Frank Lockwood, Mr. Linley Sambourne, Mr. Edward Lawson, and Mr C. W. Mathews. The arrangements for the season were completed, and a digest was made of the subjects which claimed the immediate consideration of the members. The President called attention to a delay which had occurred in the fulfilment of certain artistic duties which had been entrusted to Mr. Harry Furniss and Mr. Linley Sambourne, and which had been retarded in their accomplishment by Mr. Furniss' voyage to America. But it was understood that immediate attention would now be bestowed upon the work in hand; and the remainder of the business was of a routine character."
The "artistic duties" referred to, I have no recollection of, but I know that at our preliminary meeting, when all matters, artistic and otherwise, were discussed and arranged, the two following important resolutions were proposed, seconded, and carried unanimously:—
"That Mr. Rudolph Lehmann be elected Permanent Secretary, and that the duty of sending out all notices convening the Meets of the T.P.C., as well as all arrangements connected with the Club, be entrusted to him; and that every notice of meeting be posted and prepaid by him eight lunar, or at least three calendar, days before the date of each Meet; and further, that records in a neat and clerkly style of each and every Meet be faithfully kept by the said Secretary, and be at all times open for the inspection of each and every member of the T.P.C."
"That Mr. Linley Sambourne shall provide at his own expense the notepaper and envelopes required for the business of the Club, and shall invent and draw a design, which design, also at his own expense, he shall cause to be stamped or otherwise engraved on the said notepaper and envelopes, and shall cause the said notepaper so stamped or engraved to be forwarded to the Perpetual President, the Permanent Secretary, and the other members, for use in connection only with the business of the Club."
"It was further resolved that all maps and charts be kept at the Secretary's Office, and in the event of any dispute, the Ordnance Map or the Admiralty Chart shall be decisive."
But during the existence of the Club there never was any cause to refer to an Ordnance Map or Admiralty Chart. There never was a Secretary's Office, nor did Mr. Linley Sambourne either design or provide the notepaper or envelopes, nor are there any records in existence, either printed or written "in a neat and clerkly style," of the merry meetings of this unique Club. It ran its delightful and dangerous course, its wild career, unmarred by any dispute or accident. The last "meet" was to dine Lord Russell on his elevation to the Bench.
I shall never forget the first occasion on which I saw the late Lord Russell. It was in the old days when the Law Courts were in Westminster,—and I, in search of "character," strangely enough found myself wandering about the Divorce Court, where so many characters are lost. It was a cause celebre,—the divorce suit of a most distinguished Presbyterian cleric who charged his wife, the co-respondent being the stable-boy. Russell (then plain Mr.) was for the clergyman, and when I entered the crowded court, he was in the midst of his appeal to the jury, working himself up to a pitch of eloquence, appealing to all to look upon the saintly figure of the man of prayer (the plaintiff, who was playing the part by kneeling and clasping his hands), and asking the jury to scorn all idea of his client having any desire to free himself of his wife so as to marry his pretty governess, or cousin, or whomever it was suggested he most particularly admired. Russell had arrived at quoting Scripture,—he was at his best, austere, eloquent, persuasive, an orator, a gentleman, a great advocate, and as sanctimonious as his kneeling client.
He was interrupted by someone handing him a telegram. As he opened it he said, waving it towards his client, "This may be a message from Heaven to that saint,—ah, gentlemen of the jury, the words so pure—so—so——" (he reads the telegram).
"D——! D——! D——!" He crushed the telegram in his hand, and with an angry gesture threw it away. Although his words were drowned by the "laughter in Court," his gestures and face showed his chagrin and disgust. The Grand National had been run half-an-hour before.
Years afterwards, on his own lawn at Tadworth, I told him of this incident, and asked him what the contents of that telegram were. He declared I was wrong, such an incident never occurred in his career. I convinced him I was right—it was the first time I saw him, and every detail was vividly impressed upon my memory. After dinner he came to me and said, "Furniss, I have been thinking over that incident. You are quite right—it has all come back to me. I lost my temper, I recollect, because I had wired to my boy over there to make a bet for me on an outsider at a long price; when at lunch, I heard the horse had won. I was delighted, and therefore at my best when I addressed the jury. The telegram was from my boy to say that he forgot to put the money on!"
Riding has caused my appearance in a Police Court, but not as a member of the Two Pins Club. In October, 1895, I was returning from my usual ride before breakfast, accompanied by my little daughter; we turned into the terrace in which we live, and our horses cantered up the hill about 120 yards. As we were dismounting, a Police Inspector passed, addressing me by name, and in a most offensive tone declared that he would summon me, as I had been cautioned before for furious riding. This remark was so absolutely untrue that I met the summons, and the Inspector in the Court made three distinct statements on oath: That I spurred my horse (when cross-examined by me, he gave a minute description of my spurs); that I charged up the hill 250 yards at the rate of sixteen miles an hour; and that I had been cautioned before for the same thing. Now, I have never been cautioned in my life; the distance I went up the hill is 120 yards, and no horse could get up any pace in that distance; and I do not wear spurs, although two constables swore I did.
The magistrate, face to face with these three facts, looked the picture of misery. It was evident to him, as it must be evident to every fair-minded man, that the police were in the wrong. And when the magistrate was thinking out this dilemma, I made a fatal mistake. I gave my reason for appearing as a sacrifice on my part to show the magistrate the sort of evidence upon which poor cabmen and others are fined and made to suffer. The magistrate, Mr. Plowden, waxed very wroth, and as he could not punish me, and would not reprimand the police, I was asked to pay the costs of the summons, which was withdrawn. The late Mr. Montagu Williams, who sat in the Marylebone Police Court, the court in which I was charged with furious riding, gave it as his private opinion that the longer a policeman was in the service the less he could rely upon his word.
This case led to all sorts of trouble. I was assailed by people in the street, strangers to me, for "riding over children." Letters came from all sorts of societies—Cruelty to Animals, and other excellent institutions. I found people measuring the terrace; others riding up it to see if it were possible to get the pace (which it is not), but few knew the truth. The constable when I left the court remarked to me, "I'll tache ye to caricature Oirishmen in Parleymint!" However, I was repaid by the humour the incident gave rise to in the imagination of my brother workers on the Press. Mr. F. C. Gould made this capital sketch, and others portrayed my crime in verse. The following was written to me by one of London's most celebrated editors, and has never been published before: