Price 50 Cents
Special WINTER NUMBER of
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDIO
CHILDREN'S BOOKS AND THEIR ILLUSTRATORS.
By GLEESON WHITE
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDIO John Lane, 140 Fifth Avenue, New York
Scribner's New Books for the Young
Mrs. Burnett's famous Juveniles
With all the original Illustrations by Reginald B. Birch. 5 vols. Each 12mo $1.25.
A writer in the Boston Post has said of Mrs. Burnett: "She has a beauty of imagination and a spiritual insight into the meditations of childhood which are within the grasp of no other writer for children,"—and these five volumes would indeed be difficult to match in child literature. The new edition is from new plates, with all the original illustrations by Reginald B. Birch, is bound in a handsome new cover. "Little Lord Fauntleroy," "Two Little Pilgrims' Progress," "Piccino and Other Child Stories," "Giovanni and the Other," "Sara Crewe," and "Little Saint Elizabeth and other Stories" (in one volume).
Three New Volumes by G. A. Henty
Illustrated by Walter Paget and W. A. Margetson. Each 12mo $1.50.
It would be a bitter year for the boys if Mr. Henty were to fail them with a fresh assortment of his enthralling tales of adventure, for, as the London Academy has said, in this kind of story telling, "he stands in the very first rank." "With Frederick the Great" is a tale of the Seven Years' War, and has twelve full-page illustrations by Wal. Paget; "A March on London" details some stirring scenes of the times when Wat Tyler's motley crew took possession of that city, and the illustrations are drawn by W. A. Margetson, while Wal. Paget has supplied the pictures for "With Moore at Corunna," in which the boy hero serves through the Peninsular War. (Each 12mo, $1.50.)
Will Shakespeare's Little Lad by Imogen Clarke
With 8 full-page Illustrations by Reginald B. Birch. 12mo $1.50.
"The author has caught the true spirit of Shakespeare's time, and paints his home surroundings with a loving, tender grace," says the Boston Herald.
An Old-Field School Girl by Marion Harland
(Illustrated, 12mo, $1.25.) "As pretty a story for girls as has been published in a long time," says the Buffalo Express, and the Chicago Tribune is even more appreciative: "Compared with the average books of its class 'An Old-Field School Girl,' becomes a classic."
Verses by Eugene Field With 200 fanciful Illustrations by Charles Robinson. (Uniform with Stevenson's "A Child's Garden") 12mo $1.50.
"A collection of those dearly loved 'Songs of Childhood' by Eugene Field, which have touched many hearts, both old and young, and will continue to do so as long as little children remain the joy of our homes. It was a happy thought of the publisher to choose another such child lover and sympathizer as Kenneth Grahame to write the Preface to the new edition, and Charles Robinson to make the many quaint and most amusing illustrations."—The Evangelist.
With Crockett and Bowie by Kirk Munroe
With 8 full-page Illustrations by Victor S. Perard. 12mo $1.50.
This "Tale of Texas; or, Fighting for the Lone Star Flag," completes the author's White Conqueror Series. The Minneapolis Tribune says: "It is a breezy and invigorating tale. The characters, although drawn from real life, are surrounded by an atmosphere of romance and adventure which gives them the added fascination of being creatures of fiction, and yet there is no straining for effect."
The Naval Cadet
With 6 full-page Illustrations by William Rainey, R. I. Crown 8vo $1.25.
A Story of Adventure on Land and Sea, by GORDON STABLES. A stirring tale of seafaring and sea-fighting on the coasts of Africa, South America, Australia, New Guinea, etc., closing with a dramatic picture of the combat between the Chinese and Japanese fleets at Yalu.
The Stevenson Song Book
With decorative borders. 4to $2.00.
In this large and handsome quarto, twenty of the most lyrical poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Child's Garden of Verse", have been set to music by such composers as Reginald DeKoven, Arthur Foote, C. W. Chadwick, Dr. C. Villers Stanford, etc. The volume is uniform with and a fitting companion to the popular "Field-De-Koven Song Book."
Twelve Naval Captains by Molly Elliot Seawell
With 12 full-page portraits. 12mo $1.25.
Miss Seawell here tells the notable exploits of twelve heroes of our early navy: John Paul Jones, Richard Dale, William Bainbridge, Richard Somers, Edward Preble, Thomas Truxton, Stephen Decatur, James Lawrance, Isaac Hull, O. H. Perry, Charles Stewart, Thomas Macdonough. The book is illustrated attractively and makes a stirring and thrilling volume.
The Knights of the Round Table
With 25 Illustrations by S. R. Benliegh. 12mo $1.50.
"King Arthur's Knights and their connection with the mystic Grail is here the subject of Mr. William Henry Frost's translation into child language. Many volumes have been prepared telling these wonderful legendary stories to young people, but few are so admirably written as this work," says the Boston Advertiser.
The Last Cruise of the Mohawk by W. J. Henderson
Illustrated by Harry C. Edwards. 12mo $1.25.
The Observer says: "This is an exciting story that boys of today will appreciate thoroughly and devour greedily," and the Rochester Democrat calls it "an interesting and thrilling story."
The King of the Broncos by Charles F. Lummis
Illustrated by Victor S. Perard. 12mo $1.25.
The title story and the other Tales of New Mexico, which Mr. Lummis has here supplied for the younger generation, have all his usual fascination. He knows how to tell his thrilling stories in a way that is irresistible? to boy readers.
The Border Wars of New England
With 58 Illustrations and map. 12mo $1.25.
Mr. Samuel Adams Drake is an expert at making history real and vital to children. The Boston Advertiser says: "This is not a school book, yet it is exceedingly well adapted to use in schools, and at the same time will enrich and adorn the library of every American who is so fortunate or so judicious as to place it on his shelves."
The Golden Galleon by Robert Leighton
With 8 full-page Illustrations by William Rainey, R. I. 12mo $1.50.
"A narrative of the adventures of Master Gilbert O'Glander, and of how in the year 1591 he fought under the gallant Sir Richard Grenville in the great sea-fight off Flores, on board Her Majesty's ship, The Revenge." The New York Observer has said: "Mr. Leighton as a writer for boys needs no praise as his books place him in the front rank."
Lords of the World
With 12 full-page Illustrations by Ralph Peacock. 12mo. $1.00.
A Story of the Fall of Carthage and Corinth. By ALFRED J. CHURCH. In his own special field the author has few rivals. He has a capacity for making antiquity assume reality which is fascinating in the extreme.
Adventures in Toyland
With 8 colored plates and 72 other Illustrations by Alice B. Woodward. Square 8vo. $2.00.
By EDITH KING HALL. A clever and fascinating volume which will surely take a high place among this season's "juveniles."
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, 153-157 Fifth Ave, N.Y.
SPECIAL WINTER-NUMBER 1897-8
CHILDREN'S BOOKS AND THEIR ILLUSTRATORS. BY GLEESON WHITE.
There are some themes that by their very wealth of suggestion appal the most ready writer. The emotions which they arouse, the mass of pleasant anecdote they recall, the ghosts of far-off delights they summon, are either too obvious to be worth the trouble of description or too evanescent to be expressed in dull prose. Swift, we are told (perhaps a little too frequently), could write beautifully of a broomstick; which may strike a common person as a marvel of dexterity. After a while, the journalist is apt to find that it is the perfect theme which proves to be the hardest to treat adequately. Clothe a broomstick with fancies, even of the flimsiest tissue paper, and you get something more or less like a fairy-king's sceptre; but take the Pompadour's fan, or the haunting effect of twilight over the meadows, and all you can do in words seems but to hide its original beauties. We know that Mr. Austin Dobson was able to add graceful wreaths even to the fan of the Pompadour, and that another writer is able to impart to the misty twilight not only the eerie fantasies it shows the careless observer, but also a host of others that only a poet feels, and that only a poet knows how to prison within his cage of printed syllables. Indeed, of the theme of the present discourse has not the wonder-working Robert Louis Stevenson sung of "Picture Books in Winter" and "The Land of Story Books," so truly and clearly that it is dangerous for lesser folk to attempt essays in their praise? All that artists have done to amuse the august monarch "King Baby" (who, pictured by Mr. Robert Halls, is fitly enthroned here by way of frontispiece) during the playtime of his immaturity is too big a subject for our space, and can but be indicated in rough outline here.
Luckily, a serious study of the evolution of the child's book already exists. Since the bulk of this number was in type, I lighted by chance upon "The Child and his Book," by Mrs. E. M. Field, a most admirable volume which traces its subject from times before the Norman conquest to this century. Therein we find full accounts of MSS. designed for teaching purposes, of early printed manuals, and of the mass of literature intended to impress "the Fear of the Lord and of the Broomstick." Did space allow, the present chronicle might be enlivened with many an excerpt which she has culled from out-of-the-way sources. But the temptation to quote must be controlled. It is only fair to add that in that work there is a very excellent chapter to "Some Illustrators of Children's Books," although its main purpose is the text of the books. One branch has found its specialist and its exhaustive monograph, in Mr. Andrew Tuer's sumptuous volumes devoted to "The Horn Book."
Perhaps there is no pleasure the modern "grown-up" person envies the youngsters of the hour as he envies them the shoals of delightful books which publishers prepare for the Christmas tables of lucky children. If he be old enough to remember Mrs. Trimmer's "History of the Robins," "The Fairchild Family," or that Poly-technically inspired romance, the "Swiss Family Robinson," he feels that a certain half-hearted approval of more dreary volumes is possibly due to the glamour which middle age casts upon the past. It is said that even Barbauld's "Evenings at Home" and "Sandford and Merton" (the anecdotes only, I imagine) have been found toothsome dainties by unjaded youthful appetites; but when he compares these with the books of the last twenty years, he wishes he could become a child again to enjoy their sweets to the full.
Now nine-tenths of this improvement is due to artist and publisher; although it is obvious that illustrations imply something to illustrate, and, as a rule (not by any means without exception), the better the text the better the pictures. Years before good picture-books there were good stories, and these, whether they be the classics of the nursery, the laureates of its rhyme, the unknown author of its sagas, the born story-tellers—whether they date from prehistoric cave-dwellers, or are of our own age, like Charles Kingsley or Lewis Carroll—supply the text to spur on the artist to his best achievements.
It is mainly a labour of love to infuse pictures intended for childish eyes with qualities that pertain to art. We like to believe that Walter Crane, Caldecott, Kate Greenaway and the rest receive ample appreciation from the small people. That they do in some cases is certain; but it is also quite as evident that the veriest daub, if its subject be attractive, is enjoyed no less thoroughly. There are prigs of course, the children of the "prignorant," who babble of Botticelli, and profess to disdain any picture not conceived with "high art" mannerism. Yet even these will forget their pretence, and roar over a Comic Cuts found on the seat of a railway carriage, or stand delighted before some unspeakable poster of a melodrama. It is well to face the plain fact that the most popular illustrated books which please the children are not always those which satisfy the critical adult. As a rule it is the "grown-ups" who buy; therefore with no wish to be-little the advance in nursery taste, one must own that at present its improvement is chiefly owing to the active energies of those who give, and is only passively tolerated by those who accept. Children awaking to the marvel that recreates a familiar object by a few lines and blotches on a piece of paper, are not unduly exigent. Their own primitive diagrams, like a badly drawn Euclidean problem, satisfy their idea of studies from the life. Their schemes of colour are limited to harmonies in crimson lake, cobalt and gamboge, their skies are very blue, their grass arsenically green, and their perspective as erratic as that of the Chinese.
In fact, unpopular though it may be to project such a theory, one fancies that the real educational power of the picture-book is upon the elders, and thus, that it undoubtedly helps to raise the standard of domestic taste in art. But, on the other hand, whether his art is adequately appreciated or not, what an unprejudiced and wholly spontaneous acclaim awaits the artist who gives his best to the little ones! They do not place his work in portfolios or locked glass cases; they thumb it to death, surely the happiest of all fates for any printed book. To see his volumes worn out by too eager votaries; what could an author or artist wish for more? The extraordinary devotion to a volume of natural history, which after generations of use has become more like a mop-head than a book, may be seen in the reproduction of a "monkey-book" here illustrated; this curious result being caused by sheer affectionate thumbing of its leaves, until the dog-ears and rumpled pages turned the cube to a globular mass, since flattened by being packed away. So children love picture-books, not as bibliophiles would consider wisely, but too well.
To delight one of the least of these, to add a new joy to the crowded miracles of childhood, were no less worth doing than to leave a Sistine Chapel to astound a somewhat bored procession of tourists, or to have written a classic that sells by thousands and is possessed unread by all save an infinitesimal percentage of its owners.
When Randolph Caldecott died, a minor poet, unconsciously paraphrasing Garrick's epitaph, wrote: "For loss of him the laughter of the children will grow less." I quote the line from memory, perhaps incorrectly; if so, its author will, I feel sure, forgive the unintentional mangling. Did the laughter of the children grow less? Happily one can be quite sure it did not. So long as any inept draughtsman can scrawl a few lines which they accept as a symbol of an engine, an elephant or a pussy cat, so long will the great army of invaders who are our predestined conquerors be content to laugh anew at the request of any one, be he good or mediocre, who caters for them.
It is a pleasant and yet a saddening thought to remember that we were once recruits of this omnipotent army that wins always our lands and our treasures. Now, when grown up, whether we are millionaires or paupers, they have taken fortress by fortress with the treasures therein, our picture-books of one sort are theirs, and one must yield presently to the babies as they grow up, even our criticism, for they will make their own standards of worth and unworthiness despite all our efforts to control their verdict.
If we are conscious of being "up-to-date" in 1900, we may be quite sure that by 1925 we shall be ousted by a newer generation, and by 2000 forgotten. Long before even that, the children we now try to amuse or to educate, to defend at all costs, or to pray for as we never prayed before—they will be the masters. It is, then, not an ignoble thing to do one's very best to give our coming rulers a taste of the kingdom of art, to let them unconsciously discover that there is something outside common facts, intangible and not to be reduced to any rule, which may be a lasting pleasure to those who care to study it.
It is evident, as one glances back over the centuries, that the child occupies a new place in the world to-day. Excepting possibly certain royal infants, we do not find that great artists of the past addressed themselves to children. Are there any children's books illustrated by Duerer, Burgmair, Altdorfer, Jost Amman, or the little masters of Germany? Among the Florentine woodcuts do we find any designed for children? Did Rembrandt etch for them, or Jacob Beham prepare plates for their amusement? So far as I have searched, no single instance has rewarded me. It is true that the naivete of much early work tempts one to believe that it was designed for babies. But the context shows that it was the unlettered adult, not the juvenile, who was addressed. As the designs, obviously prepared for children, begin to appear, they are almost entirely educational and by no means the work of the best artists of the period. Even when they come to be numerous, their object is seldom to amuse; they are didactic, and as a rule convey solemn warnings. The idea of a draughtsman of note setting himself deliberately to please a child would have been inconceivable not so many years ago. To be seen and not heard was the utmost demanded of the little ones even as late as the beginning of this century, when illustrated books designed especially for their instruction were not infrequent.
As Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton pointed out in his charming essay, "The New Hero," which appeared in the English Illustrated Magazine (Dec. 1883), the child was neglected even by the art of literature until Shakespeare furnished portraits at once vivid, engaging, and true in Arthur and in Mamillus. In the same essay he goes on to say of the child—the new hero:
"And in art, painters and designers are vying with the poets and with each other in accommodating their work to his well-known matter-of-fact tastes and love of simple directness. Having discovered that the New Hero's ideal of pictorial representation is of that high dramatic and businesslike kind exemplified in the Bayeux tapestry, Mr. Caldecott, Mr. Walter Crane, Miss Kate Greenaway, Miss Dorothy Tennant, have each tried to surpass the other in appealing to the New Hero's love of real business in art—treating him, indeed, as though he were Hotei, the Japanese god of enjoyment—giving him as much colour, as much dramatic action, and as little perspective as is possible to man's finite capacity in this line. Some generous art critics have even gone so far indeed as to credit an entire artistic movement, that of pre-Raphaelism, with a benevolent desire to accommodate art to the New Hero's peculiar ideas upon perspective. But this is a 'soft impeachment' born of that loving kindness for which art-critics have always been famous."
It would be out of place here to project any theory to account for this more recent homage paid to children, but it is quite certain that a similar number of THE STUDIO could scarce have been compiled a century ago, for there was practically no material for it. In fact the tastes of children as a factor to be considered in life are well-nigh as modern as steam or the electric light, and far less ancient than printing with movable types, which of itself seems the second great event in the history of humanity, the use of fire being the first.
To leave generalities and come to particulars, as we dip into the stores of earlier centuries the broadsheets reveal almost nothing intended for children—the many Robin Hood ballads, for example, are decidedly meant for grown-up people; and so in the eighteenth century we find its chap-books of "Guy, Earl of Warwick," "Sir Bevis, of Southampton," "Valentine and Orson," are still addressed to the adult; while it is more than doubtful whether even the earliest editions in chap-book form of "Tom Thumb," and "Whittington" and the rest, now the property of the nursery, were really published for little ones. That they were the "light reading" of adults, the equivalent of to-day's Ally Sloper or the penny dreadful, is much more probable. No doubt children who came across them had a surreptitious treat, even as urchins of both sexes now pounce with avidity upon stray copies of the ultra-popular and so-called comic papers. But you could not call Ally Sloper, that Punchinello of the Victorian era—who has received the honour of an elaborate article in the Nineteenth Century—a child's hero, nor is his humour of a sort always that childhood should understand—"Unsweetened Gin," the "Broker's Man," and similar subjects, for example. It is quite possible that respectable people did not care for their babies to read the chap-books of the eighteenth century any more than they like them now to study "halfpenny comics"; and that they were, in short, kitchen literature, and not infantile. Even if the intellectual standard of those days was on a par in both domains, it does not prove that the reading of the kitchen and nursery was interchangeable.
Before noticing any pictures in detail from old sources or new, it is well to explain that as a rule only those showing some attempt to adapt the drawing to a child's taste have been selected. Mere dull transcripts of facts please children no less; but here space forbids their inclusion. Otherwise nearly all modern illustration would come into our scope.
A search through the famous Roxburghe collection of broadsheets discovered nothing that could be fairly regarded as a child's publication. The chap-books of the eighteenth century have been adequately discussed in Mr. John Ashton's admirable monograph, and from them a few "cuts" are here reproduced. Of course, if one takes the standard of education of these days as the test, many of those curious publications would appear to be addressed to intelligence of the most juvenile sort. Yet the themes as a rule show unmistakably that children of a larger growth were catered for, as, for instance, "Joseph and his Brethren," "The Holy Disciple," "The Wandering Jew," and those earlier pamphlets which are reprints or new versions of books printed by Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, and others of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.
In one, "The Witch of the Woodlands," appears a picture of little people dancing in a fairy ring, which might be supposed at first sight to be an illustration of a nursery tale, but the text describing a Witch's Sabbath, rapidly dispels the idea. Nor does a version of the popular Faust legend—"Dr. John Faustus"—appear to be edifying for young people. This and "Friar Bacon" are of the class which lingered the longest—the magical and oracular literature. Even to-day it is quite possible that dream-books and prophetical pamphlets enjoy a large sale; but a few years ago many were to be found in the catalogues of publishers who catered for the million. It is not very long ago that the Company of Stationers omitted hieroglyphics of coming events from its almanacs. Many fairy stories which to-day are repeated for the amusement of children were regarded as part of this literature—the traditional folk-lore which often enough survives many changes of the religious faith of a nation, and outlasts much civilisation. Others were originally political satires, or social pasquinades; indeed not a few nursery rhymes mask allusions to important historical incidents. The chap-book form of publication is well adapted for the preservation of half-discredited beliefs, of charms and prophecies, incantations and cures.
In "Valentine and Orson," of which a fragment is extant of a version printed by Wynkyn de Worde, we have unquestionably the real fairy story. This class of story, however, was not addressed directly to children until within the last hundred years. That many of the cuts used in these chap-books afterwards found their way into little coarsely printed duodecimos of eight or sixteen pages designed for children is no doubt a fact. Indeed the wanderings of these blocks, and the various uses to which they were applied, is far too vast a theme to touch upon here. For this peripatetic habit of old wood-cuts was not even confined to the land of their production; after doing duty in one country, they were ready for fresh service in another. Often in the chap-books we meet with the same block as an illustration of totally different scenes.
The cut for the title-page of Robin Hood is a fair example of its kind. The Norfolk gentleman's "Last Will and Testament" turns out to be a rambling rhymed version of the Two Children in the Wood. In the first of its illustrations we see the dying parents commending their babes to the cruel world. The next is a subject taken from these lines:
"Away then went these prity babes rejoycing at that tide, Rejoycing with a merry mind they should on cock-horse ride."
And in the last, here reproduced, we see them when
"Their prity lips with blackberries were all besmeared and dyed, And when they saw the darksome night, they sat them down and cried."
But here it is more probable that it was the tragedy which attracted readers, as the Police News attracts to-day, and that it became a child's favourite by the accident of the robins burying the babes.
The example from the "History of Sir Richard Whittington" needs no comment.
A very condensed version of "Robinson Crusoe" has blocks of distinct, if archaic, interest. The three here given show a certain sense of decorative treatment (probably the result of the artist's inability to be realistic), which is distinctly amusing. One might select hundreds of woodcuts of this type, but those here reproduced will serve as well as a thousand to indicate their general style.
Some few of these books have contributed to later nursery folk-lore, as, for example, the well known "Jack Horner," which is an extract from a coarse account of the adventures of a dwarf.
One quality that is shared by all these earlier pictures is their artlessness and often their absolute ugliness. Quaint is the highest adjective that fits them. In books of the later period not a few blocks of earlier date and of really fine design reappear; but in the chap-books quite 'prentice hands would seem to have been employed, and the result therefore is only interesting for its age and rarity. So far these pictures need no comment, they foreshadow nothing and are derived from nothing, so far as their design is concerned. Such interest as they have is quite unconcerned with art in any way; they are not even sufficiently misdirected to act as warnings, but are merely clumsy.
Children's books, as every collector knows, are among the most short-lived of all volumes. This is more especially true of those with illustrations, for their extra attractiveness serves but to degrade a comely book into a dog-eared and untidy thing, with leaves sere and yellow, and with no autumnal grace to mellow their decay. Long before this period, however, the nursery artist has marked them for his own, and with crimson lake and Prussian blue stained their pictures in all too permanent pigments, that in some cases resist every chemical the amateur applies with the vain hope of effacing the superfluous colour.
Of course the disappearance of the vast majority of books for children (dating from 1760 to 1830, and even later) is no loss to art, although among them are some few which are interesting as the 'prentice work of illustrators who became famous. But these are the exceptions. Thanks to the kindness of Mr. James Stone, of Birmingham, who has a large and most interesting collection of the most ephemeral of all sorts—the little penny and twopenny pamphlets—it has been possible to refer at first hand to hundreds, of them. Yet, despite their interest as curiosities, their art need not detain us here. The pictures are mostly trivial or dull, and look like the products of very poorly equipped draughtsmen and cheap engravers. Some, in pamphlet shape, contain nursery rhymes and little stories, others are devoted to the alphabet and arithmetic. Amongst them are many printed on card, shaped like the cover of a bank-book. These were called battledores, but as Mr. Tuer has dealt with this class in "The Horn Book" so thoroughly, it would be mere waste of time to discuss them here.
Mr. Elkin Mathews also permitted me to run through his interesting collection, and among them were many noted elsewhere in these pages, but the rest, so far as the pictures are concerned, do not call for detailed notice. They do, indeed, contain pictures of children—but mere "factual" scenes, as a rule—without any real fun or real imagination. Those who wish to look up early examples will find a large and entertaining variety among "The Pearson Collection" in the National Art Library at South Kensington Museum.
Turning to quite another class, we find "A Museum for Young Gentlemen and Ladies" (Collins: Salisbury), a typical volume of its kind. Its preface begins: "I am very much concerned when I see young gentlemen of fortune and quality so wholly set upon pleasure and diversions.... The greater part of our British youth lose their figure and grow out of fashion by the time they are twenty-five. As soon as the natural gaiety and amiableness of the young man wears off they have nothing left to recommend, but lie by the rest of their lives among the lumber and refuse of their species"—a promising start for a moral lecture, which goes on to implore those who are in the flower of their youth to "labour at those accomplishments which may set off their persons when their bloom is gone."
The compensations for old age appear to be, according to this author, a little knowledge of grammar, history, astronomy, geography, weights and measures, the seven wonders of the world, burning mountains, and dying words of great men. But its delightful text must not detain us here. A series of "cuts" of national costumes with which it is embellished deserves to be described in detail. An American Man and Woman in their proper habits, reproduced on page 6, will give a better idea of their style than any words. The blocks evidently date many years earlier than the thirteenth edition here referred to, which is about 1790. Indeed, those of the Seven Wonders are distinctly interesting.
Here and there we meet with one interesting as art. "An Ancestral History of King Arthur" (H. Roberts, Blue Boar, Holborn, 1782), shown in the Pearson collection at South Kensington, has an admirable frontispiece; and one or two others would be worth reproduction did space permit.
Although the dates overlap, the next division of the subject may be taken as ranging from the publication of "Goody Two Shoes—otherwise called Mrs. Margaret Two-shoes"—to the "Bewick Books." Of the latter the most interesting is unquestionably "A Pretty Book of Pictures for Little Masters and Misses, or Tommy Trip's History of Beasts and Birds," with a familiar description of each in verse and prose, to which is prefixed "A History of Little Tom Trip himself, of his dog Towler, and of Coryleg the great giant," written for John Newbery, the philanthropic bookseller of St. Paul's Churchyard. "The fifteenth edition embellished with charming engravings upon wood, from the original blocks engraved by Thomas Bewick for T. Saint of Newcastle in 1779"—to quote the full title from the edition reprinted by Edwin Pearson in 1867. This edition contains a preface tracing the history of the blocks, which are said to be Bewick's first efforts to depict beasts and birds, undertaken at the request of the New castle printer, to illustrate a new edition of "Tommy Trip." As at this time copyright was unknown, and Newcastle or Glasgow pirated a London success (as New York did but lately), we must not be surprised to find that the text is said to be a reprint of a "Newbery" publication. But as Saint was called the Newbery of the North, possibly the Bewick edition was authorised. One or two of the rhymes which have been attributed to Oliver Goldsmith deserve quotation. Appended to a cut of The Bison we find the following delightful lines:
"The Bison, tho' neither Engaging nor young, Like a flatt'rer can lick you To death with his tongue."
The astounding legend of the bison's long tongue, with which he captures a man who has ventured too close, is dilated upon in the accompanying prose. That Goldsmith used "teeth" when he meant "tusks" solely for the sake of rhyme is a depressing fact made clear by the next verse:
"The elephant with trunk and teeth Threatens his foe with instant death, And should these not his ends avail His crushing feet will seldom fail."
Nor are the rhymes as they stand peculiarly happy; certainly in the following example it requires an effort to make "throw" and "now" pair off harmoniously.
"The fierce, fell tiger will, they say, Seize any man that's in the way, And o'er his back the victim throw, As you your satchel may do now."
Yet one more deserves to be remembered if but for its decorative spelling:
"The cuccoo comes to chear the spring, And early every morn does sing; The nightingale, secure and snug, The evening charms with Jug, jug, jug."
But these doggerel rhymes are not quite representative of the book, as the well-known "Three children sliding on the ice upon a summer's day" appears herein. The "cuts" are distinctively notable, especially the Crocodile (which contradicts the letterpress, that says "it turns about with difficulty"), the Chameleon, the Bison, and the Tiger.
Bewick's "Select Fables of AEsop and others" (Newcastle: T. Saint, 1784) deserves fuller notice, but AEsop, though a not unpopular book for children, is hardly a children's book. With "The Looking Glass for the Mind" (1792) we have the adaptation of a popular French work, "L'Ami des Enfans" (1749), with cuts by Bewick, which, if not equal to his best, are more interesting from our point of view, as they are obviously designed for young people. The letterpress is full of "useful lessons for my youthful readers," with morals provokingly insisted upon.
"Goody Two Shoes" was also published by Newbery of St. Paul's Churchyard—the pioneer of children's literature. His business—which afterwards became Messrs. Griffith and Farran—has been the subject of several monographs and magazine articles by Mr. Charles Welsh, a former partner of that firm. The two monographs were privately printed for issue to members of the Sette of Odde Volumes. The first of these is entitled "On some Books for Children of the last century, with a few words on the philanthropic publisher of St. Paul's Churchyard. A paper read at a meeting of the Sette of Odde Volumes, Friday, January 8, 1886." Herein we find a very sympathetic account of John Newbery and gossip of the clever and distinguished men who assisted him in the production of children's books, of which Charles Knight said, "There is nothing more remarkable in them than their originality. There have been attempts to imitate its simplicity, its homeliness; great authors have tried their hands at imitating its clever adaptation to the youthful intellect, but they have failed"—a verdict which, if true of authors when Charles Knight uttered it, is hardly true of the present time. After Goldsmith, Charles Lamb, to whom "Goody Two Shoes" is now attributed, was, perhaps, the most famous contributor to Newbery's publications; his "Beauty and the Beast" and "Prince Dorus" have been republished in facsimile lately by Messrs. Field and Tuer. From the London Chronicle, December 19 to January 1, 1765, Mr. Welsh reprinted the following advertisement:
"The Philosophers, Politicians, Necromancers, and the learned in every faculty are desired to observe that on January 1, being New Year's Day (oh that we may all lead new lives!), Mr. Newbery intends to publish the following important volumes, bound and gilt, and hereby invites all his little friends who are good to call for them at the Bible and Sun in St. Paul's Churchyard, but those who are naughty to have none." The paper read by Mr. Welsh scarcely fulfils the whole promise of its title, for in place of giving anecdotes of Newbery he refers his listeners to his own volume, "A Bookseller of the Last Century," for fuller details; but what he said in praise of the excellent printing and binding of Newbery's books is well merited. They are, nearly all, comely productions, some with really artistic illustrations, and all marked with care and intelligence which had not hitherto been bestowed on publications intended for juveniles. It is true that most are distinguished for "calculating morality" as the Athenaeum called it, in re-estimating their merits nearly a century later. It was a period when the advantages of dull moralising were over-prized, when people professed to believe that you could admonish children to a state of perfection which, in their didactic addresses to the small folk, they professed to obey themselves. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, an age of solemn hypocrisy, not perhaps so insincere in intention as in phrase; but, all the same, it repels the more tolerant mood of to-day. Whether or not it be wise to confess to the same frailties and let children know the weaknesses of their elders, it is certainly more honest; and the danger is now rather lest the undue humility of experience should lead children to believe that they are better than their fathers. Probably the honest sympathy now shown to childish ideals is not likely to be misinterpreted, for children are often shrewd judges, and can detect the false from the true, in morals if not in art.
By 1800 literature for children had become an established fact. Large numbers of publications were ostentatiously addressed to their amusement; but nearly all hid a bitter if wholesome powder in a very small portion of jam. Books of educational purport, like "A Father's Legacy to his Daughter," with reprints of classics that are heavily weighted with morals—Dr. Johnson's "Rasselas" and "AEsop's Fables," for instance—are in the majority. "Robinson Crusoe" is indeed among them, and Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," both, be it noted, books annexed by the young, not designed for them.
The titles of a few odd books which possess more than usually interesting features may be jotted down. Of these, "Little Thumb and the Ogre" (R. Dutton, 1788), with illustrations by William Blake, is easily first in interest, if not in other respects. Others include "The Cries of London" (1775), "Sindbad the Sailor" (Newbery, 1798), "Valentine and Orson" (Mary Rhynd, Clerkenwell, 1804), "Fun at the Fair" (with spirited cuts printed in red), and Watts's "Divine and Moral Songs," and "An Abridged New Testament," with still more effective designs also in red (Lumsden, Glasgow), "Gulliver's Travels" (greatly abridged, 1815), "Mother Gum" (1805), "Anecdotes of a Little Family" (1795), "Mirth without Mischief," "King Pippin," "The Daisy" (cautionary stories in verse), and the "Cowslip," its companion (with delightfully prim little rhymes that have been reprinted lately). The thirty illustrations in each are by Samuel Williams, an artist who yet awaits his due appreciation. A large number of classics of their kind, "The Adventures of Philip Quarll," "Gulliver's Travels," Blake's "Songs of Innocence," Charles Lamb's "Stories from Shakespeare," Mrs. Sherwood's "Henry and his Bearer," and a host of other religious stories, cannot even be enumerated. But even were it possible to compile a full list of children's books, it would be of little service, for the popular books are in no danger of being forgotten, and the unpopular, as a rule, have vanished out of existence, and except by pure accident could not be found for love or money.
With the publications of Newbery and Harris, early in the nineteenth century, we encounter examples more nearly typical of the child's book as we regard it to-day. Among them Harris's "Cabinet" is noticeable. The first four volumes, "The Butterfly's Ball," "The Peacock at Home," "The Lion's Masquerade," and "The Elephant's Ball," were reprinted a few years ago, with the original illustrations by Mulready carefully reproduced. A coloured series of sixty-two books, priced at one shilling and sixpence each (Harris), was extremely popular.
With the "Paths of Learning strewed with Flowers, or English Grammar Illustrated" (1820), we encounter a work not without elegance. Its designs, as we see by the examples reproduced on page 9, are the obvious prototype of Miss Greenaway, the model that inspired her to those dainty trifles which conquered even so stern a critic of modern illustration as Mr. Ruskin. On its cover—a forbidding wrapper devoid of ornament—and repeated within a wreath of roses inside, this preamble occurs: "The purpose of this little book is to obviate the reluctance children evince to the irksome and insipid task of learning the names and meanings of the component parts of grammar. Our intention is to entwine roses with instruction, and however humble our endeavour may appear, let it be recollected that the efforts of a Mouse set the Lion free from his toils." This oddly phrased explanation is typical of the affected geniality of the governess. Indeed, it might have been penned by an assistant to Miss Pinkerton, "the Semiramis of Hammersmith"; if not by that friend of Dr. Johnson, the correspondent of Mrs. Chapone herself, in a moment of gracious effort to bring her intellect down to the level of her pupils.
To us, this hollow gaiety sounds almost cruel. In those days children were always regarded as if, to quote Mark Twain, "every one being born with an equal amount of original sin, the pressure on the square inch must needs be greater in a baby." Poor little original sinners, how very scurvily the world of books and picture-makers treated you less than a century ago! Life for you then was a perpetual reformatory, a place beset with penalties, and echoing with reproofs. Even the literature planned to amuse your leisure was stuck full of maxims and morals; the most piquant story was but a prelude to an awful warning; pictures of animals, places, and rivers failed to conceal undisguised lessons. The one impression that is left by a study of these books is the lack of confidence in their own dignity which papas and mammas betrayed in the early Victorian era. This seems past all doubt when you realise that the common effort of all these pictures and prose is to glorify the impeccable parent, and teach his or her offspring to grovel silently before the stern law-givers who ruled the home.
Of course it was not really so, literature had but lately come to a great middle class who had not learned to be easy; and as worthy folk who talked colloquially wrote in stilted parody of Dr. Johnson's stately periods, so the uncouth address in print to the populace of the nursery was doubtless forgotten in daily intercourse. But the conventions were preserved, and honest fun or full-bodied romance that loves to depict gnomes and hob-goblins, giants and dwarfs in a world of adventure and mystery, was unpopular. Children's books were illustrated entirely by the wonders of the creation, or the still greater wonders of so-called polite society. Never in them, except introduced purposely as an "awful example," do you meet an untidy, careless, normal child. Even the beggars are prim, and the beasts and birds distinctly genteel in their habits. Fairyland was shut to the little ones, who were turned out of their own domain. It seems quite likely that this continued until the German maerchen (the literary products of Germany were much in favour at this period) reopened the wonderland of the other world about the time that Charles Dickens helped to throw the door still wider. Discovering that the child possessed the right to be amused, the imagination of poets and artists addressed itself at last to the most appreciative of all audiences, a world of newcomers, with insatiable appetites for wonders real and imaginary.
But for many years before the Victorian period folklore was left to the peasants, or at least kept out of reach of children of the higher classes. No doubt old nurses prattled it to their charges, perhaps weak-minded mothers occasionally repeated the ancient legends, but the printing-press set its face against fancy, and offered facts in its stead. In the list of sixty-two books before mentioned, if we except a few nursery jingles such as "Mother Hubbard" and "Cock Robin," we find but two real fairy stories, "Cinderella," "Puss-in-Boots," and three old-world narratives of adventure, "Whittington and His Cat," "The Seven Champions of Christendom," and "Valentine and Orson." The rest are "Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation," "The Monthly Monitor," "Tommy Trip's Museum of Beasts," "The Perambulations of a Mouse," and so on, with a few things like "The House that Jack Built," and "A, Apple Pie," that are but daily facts put into story shape. Now it is clear that the artists inspired by fifty of these had no chance of displaying their imagination, and every opportunity of pointing a moral; and it is painful to be obliged to own that they succeeded beyond belief in their efforts to be dull. Of like sort are "A Visit to the Bazaar" (Harris, 1814), and "The Dandies' Ball" (1820).
Nor must we forget a work very popular at this period, "Keeper in Search of His Master," although its illustrations are not its chief point.
According to a very interesting preface Mr. Andrew Tuer contributed to "The Leadenhall Series of Reprints of Forgotten Books for Children in 1813," "Dame Wiggins of Lee" was first issued by A. K. Newman and Co. of the Minerva Press. This book is perhaps better known than any of its date owing to Mr. Ruskin's reprint with additional verses by himself, and new designs by Miss Kate Greenaway supplementing the original cuts, which were re-engraved in facsimile by Mr. Hooper. Mr. Tuer attributes the design of these latter to R. Stennet (or Sinnet?), who illustrated also "Deborah Dent and her Donkey" and "Madame Figs' Gala." Newman issued many of these books, in conjunction with Messrs. Dean and Mundy, the direct ancestors of the firm of Dean and Son, still flourishing, and still engaged in providing cheap and attractive books for children. "The Gaping Wide-mouthed Waddling Frog" is another book of about this period, which Mr. Tuer included in his reprints. Among the many illustrated volumes which bear the imprint of A. K. Newman, and Dean and Mundy, are "A, Apple Pie," "Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos," "The House that Jack Built," "The Parent's Offering for a Good Child" (a very pompous and irritating series of dialogues), and others that are even more directly educational. In all these the engravings are in fairly correct outline, coloured with four to six washes of showy crimson lake, ultramarine, pale green, pale sepia, and gamboge.
Even the dreary text need not have made the illustrators quite so dull, as we know that Randolph Caldecott would have made an illustrated "Bradshaw" amusing; but most of his earlier predecessors show no less power in making anything they touched "un-funny." Nor as art do their pictures interest you any more than as anecdotes.
Of course the cost of coloured engravings prohibited their lavish use. All were tinted by hand, sometimes with the help of stencil plates, but more often by brush. The print colourers, we are told, lived chiefly in the Pentonville district, or in some of the poorer streets near Leicester Square. A few survivors are still to be found; but the introduction first of lithography, and later of photographic processes, has killed the industry, and even the most fanatical apostle of the old crafts cannot wish the "hand-painter" back again. The outlines were either cut on wood, as in the early days of printing until the present, or else engraved on metal. In each case all colour was painted afterwards, and in scarce a single instance (not even in the Rowlandson caricatures or patriotic pieces) is there any attempt to obtain an harmonious scheme such as is often found in the tinted mezzo-tints of the same period.
Of works primarily intended for little people, an "Hieroglyphical Bible" for the amusement and instruction of the younger generation (1814) may be noted. This was a mixture of picture-puns and broken words, after the fashion of the dreary puzzles still published in snippet weeklies. It is a melancholy attempt to turn Bible texts to picture puzzles, a book permitted by the unco' guid to children on wet Sunday afternoons, as some younger members of large families, whose elder brothers' books yet lingered forty or even fifty years after publication, are able to endorse with vivid and depressed remembrance. Foxe's "Book of Martyrs" and Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" are of the same type, and calculated to fill a nervous child with grim terrors, not lightened by Watts's "Divine and Moral Songs," that gloated on the dreadful hell to which sinful children were doomed, "with devils in darkness, fire and chains." But this painful side of the subject is not to be discussed here. Luckily the artists—except in the "grown-up" books referred to—disdained to enforce the terrors of Dr. Watts, and pictured less horrible themes.
With Cruikshank we encounter almost the first glimpse of the modern ideal. His "Grimm's Fairy Tales" are delightful in themselves, and marvellous in comparison with all before, and no little after.
These famous illustrations to the first selection of Grimm's "German Popular Stories" appeared in 1824, followed by a second series in 1826. Coming across this work after many days spent in hunting up children's books of the period, the designs flashed upon one as masterpieces, and for the first time seemed to justify the great popularity of Cruikshank. For their vigour and brilliant invention, their diablerie and true local colour, are amazing when contrasted with what had been previously. Wearied of the excessive eulogy bestowed upon Cruikshank's illustrations to Dickens, and unable to accept the artist as an illustrator of real characters in fiction, when he studies his elfish and other-worldly personages, the most grudging critic must needs yield a full tribute of praise. The volumes (published by Charles Tilt, of 82 Fleet Street) are extremely rare; for many years past the sale-room has recorded fancy prices for all Cruikshank's illustrations, so that a lover of modern art has been jealous to note the amount paid for by many extremely poor pictures by this artist, when even original drawings for the masterpieces by later illustrators went for a song. In Mr. Temple Scott's indispensable "Book Sales of 1896" we find the two volumes (1823-6) fetched L12 12s.
These must not be confounded with Cruikshank's "Fairy Library" (1847-64), a series of small books in paper wrappers, now exceedingly rare, which are more distinctly prepared for juvenile readers. The illustrations to these do not rise above the level of their day, as did the earlier ones. But this is owing largely to the fact that the standard had risen far above its old average in the thirty years that had elapsed. Amid the mass of volumes illustrated by Cruikshank comparatively few are for juveniles; some of these are: "Grimm's Gammer Grethel"; "Peter Schlemihl" (1824); "Christmas Recreation" (1825); "Hans of Iceland" (1825); "German Popular Stories" (1823); "Robinson Crusoe" (1831); "The Brownies" (1870); "Loblie-by-the-Fire" (1874); "Tom Thumb" (1830); and "John Gilpin" (1828).
The works of Richard Doyle (1824-1883) enjoy in a lesser degree the sort of inflated popularity which has gathered around those of Cruikshank. With much spirit and pleasant invention, Doyle lacked academic skill, and often betrays considerable weakness, not merely in composition, but in invention. Yet the qualities which won him reputation are by no means despicable. He evidently felt the charm of fairyland, and peopled it with droll little folk who are neither too human nor too unreal to be attractive. He joined the staff of Punch when but nineteen, and soon, by his political cartoons, and his famous "Manners and Customs of y^e English drawn from y^e Quick," became an established favourite. His design for the cover of Punch is one of his happiest inventions. So highly has he been esteemed that the National Gallery possesses one of his pictures, The Triumphant Entry; a Fairy Pageant. Children's books with his illustrations are numerous; perhaps the most important are "The Enchanted Crow" (1871), "Feast of Dwarfs" (1871), "Fortune's Favourite" (1871), "The Fairy Ring" (1845), "In Fairyland" (1870), "Merry Pictures" (1857), "Princess Nobody" (1884), "Mark Lemon's Fairy Tales" (1868), "A Juvenile Calendar" (1855), "Fairy Tales from all Nations" (1849), "Snow White and Rosy Red" (1871), Ruskin's "The King of the Golden River" (1884), Hughes's "Scouring of the White Horse" (1859), "Jack the Giant Killer" (1888), "Home for the Holidays" (1887), "The Whyte Fairy Book" (1893). The three last are, of course, posthumous publications.
Still confining ourselves to the pre-Victorian period, although the works in question were popular several decades later, we find "Sandford and Merton" (first published in 1783, and constantly reprinted), "The Swiss Family Robinson," the beginning of "Peter Parley's Annals," and a vast number of other books with the same pseudonym appended, and a host of didactic works, a large number of which contained pictures of animals and other natural objects, more or less well drawn. But the pictures in these are not of any great consequence, merely reflecting the average taste of the day, and very seldom designed from a child's point of view.
This very inadequate sketch of the books before 1837 is not curtailed for want of material, but because, despite the enormous amount, very few show attempts to please the child; to warn, to exhort, or to educate are their chief aims. Occasionally a Bewick or an artist of real power is met with, but the bulk is not only dull, but of small artistic value. That the artist's name is rarely given must not be taken as a sign that only inept draughtsmen were employed, for in works of real importance up to and even beyond this date we often find his share ignored. After a time the engraver claims to be considered, and by degrees the designer is also recognised; yet for the most part illustration was looked upon merely as "jam" to conceal the pill. The old Puritan conception of art as vanity had something to do with this, no doubt; for adults often demand that their children shall obey a sterner rule of life than that which they accept themselves.
Before passing on, it is as well to summarise this preamble and to discover how far children's books had improved when her Majesty came to the throne. The old woodcut, rough and ill-drawn, had been succeeded by the masterpieces of Bewick, and the respectable if dull achievements of his followers. In the better class of books were excellent designs by artists of some repute fairly well engraved. Colouring by hand, in a primitive fashion, was applied to these prints and to impressions from copperplates. A certain prettiness was the highest aim of most of the latter, and very few were designed only to amuse a child. It seems as if all concerned were bent on unbending themselves, careful to offer grains of truth to young minds with an occasional terrible falsity of their attitude; indeed, its satire and profound analysis make it superfluous to reopen the subject. As one might expect, the literature, "genteel" and dull, naturally desired pictures in the same key. The art of even the better class of children's books was satisfied if it succeeded in being "genteel," or, as Miss Limpenny would say, "cumeelfo." Its ideal reached no higher, and sometimes stopped very far below that modest standard. This is the best (with the few exceptions already noted) one can say of pre-Victorian illustration for children.
If there is one opinion deeply rooted in the minds of the comparatively few Britons who care for art, it is a distrust of "The Cole Gang of South Kensington;" and yet if there be one fact which confronts any student of the present revival of the applied arts, it is that sooner or later you come to its first experiments inspired or actually undertaken by Sir Henry Cole. Under the pseudonym of "Felix Summerley" we find that the originator of a hundred revivals of the applied arts, projected and issued a series of children's books which even to-day are decidedly worth praise. It is the fashion to trace everything to Mr. William Morris, but in illustrations for children as in a hundred others "Felix Summerley" was setting the ball rolling when Morris and the members of the famous firm were schoolboys.
To quote from his own words: "During this period (i.e., about 1844), my young children becoming numerous, their wants induced me to publish a rather long series of books, which constituted 'Summerley's Home Treasury,' and I had the great pleasure of obtaining the welcome assistance of some of the first artists of the time in illustrating them—Mulready, R.A., Cope, R.A., Horsley, R.A., Redgrave, R.A., Webster, R.A., Linnell and his three sons, John, James, and William, H. J. Townsend, and others.... The preparation of these books gave me practical knowledge in the technicalities of the arts of type-printing, lithography, copper and steel-plate engraving and printing, and bookbinding in all its varieties in metal, wood, leather, &c."
Copies of the books in question appear to be very rare. It is doubtful if the omnivorous British Museum has swallowed a complete set; certainly at the Art Library of South Kensington Museum, where, if anywhere, we might expect to find Sir Henry Cole completely represented, many gaps occur.
How far Mr. Joseph Cundall, the publisher, should be awarded a share of the credit for the enterprise is not apparent, but his publications and writings, together with the books issued later by Cundall and Addey, are all marked with the new spirit, which so far as one can discover was working in many minds at this time, and manifested itself most conspicuously through the Pre-Raphaelites and their allies. This all took place, it must be remembered, long before 1851. We forget often that if that exhibition has any important place in the art history of Great Britain, it does but prove that much preliminary work had been already accomplished. You cannot exhibit what does not exist; you cannot even call into being "exhibition specimens" at a few months notice, if something of the same sort, worked for ordinary commerce, has not already been in progress for years previously.
Almost every book referred to has been examined anew for the purposes of this article. As a whole they might fail to impress a critic not peculiarly interested in the matter. But if he tries to project himself to the period that produced them, and realises fully the enormous importance of first efforts, he will not estimate grudgingly their intrinsic value, but be inclined to credit them with the good things they never dreamed of, as well as those they tried to realise and often failed to achieve. Here, without any prejudice for or against the South Kensington movement, it is but common justice to record Sir Henry Cole's share in the improvement of children's books; and later on his efforts on behalf of process engraving must also not be forgotten.
To return to the books in question, some extracts from the original prospectus, which speaks of them as "purposed to cultivate the Affections, Fancy, Imagination, and Taste of Children," are worth quotation:
"The character of most children's books published during the last quarter of a century, is fairly typified in the name of Peter Parley, which the writers of some hundreds of them have assumed. The books themselves have been addressed after a narrow fashion, almost entirely to the cultivation of the understanding of children. The many tales sung or said from time to time immemorial, which appealed to the other, and certainly not less important elements of a little child's mind, its fancy, imagination, sympathies, affections, are almost all gone out of memory, and are scarcely to be obtained. 'Little Red Riding Hood,' and other fairy tales hallowed to children's use, are now turned into ribaldry as satires for men; as for the creation of a new fairy tale or touching ballad, such a thing is unheard of. That the influence of all this is hurtful to children, the conductor of this series firmly believes. He has practical experience of it every day in his own family, and he doubts not that there are many others who entertain the same opinions as himself. He purposes at least to give some evidence of his belief, and to produce a series of works, the character of which may be briefly described as anti-Peter Parleyism.
"Some will be new works, some new combinations of old materials, and some reprints carefully cleared of impurities, without deterioration to the points of the story. All will be illustrated, but not after the usual fashion of children's books, in which it seems to be assumed that the lowest kind of art is good enough to give first impressions to a child. In the present series, though the statement may perhaps excite a smile, the illustrations will be selected from the works of Raffaelle, Titian, Hans Holbein, and other old masters. Some of the best modern artists have kindly promised their aid in creating a taste for beauty in little children." Did space permit, a selection from the reviews of the chief literary papers that welcomed the new venture would be instructive. There we should find that even the most cautious critic, always "hedging" and playing for safety, felt compelled to accord a certain amount of praise to the new enterprise.
It is true that "Felix Summerley" created only one type of the modern book. Possibly the "stories turned into satires" to which he alludes are the entirely amusing volumes by F. H. Bayley, the author of "A New Tale of a Tub." As it happened that these volumes were my delight as a small boy, possibly I am unduly fond of them; but it seems to me that their humour—a la Ingoldsby, it is true—and their exuberantly comic drawings, reveal the first glimpses of lighter literature addressed specially to children, that long after found its masterpieces in the "Crane" and "Greenaway" and "Caldecott" Toy Books, in "Alice in Wonderland," and in a dozen other treasured volumes, which are now classics. The chief claim for the Home Treasury series to be considered as the advance guard of our present sumptuous volumes, rests not so much upon the quality of their designs or the brightness of their literature. Their chief importance is that in each of them we find for the first time that the externals of a child's book are most carefully considered. Its type is well chosen, the proportions of its page are evidently studied, its binding, even its end-papers, show that some one person was doing his best to attain perfection. It is this conscious effort, whatever it actually realised, which distinguishes the result from all before.
It is evident that the series—the Home Treasury—took itself seriously. Its purpose was Art with a capital A—a discovery, be it noted, of this period. Sir Henry Cole, in a footnote to the very page whence the quotation above was extracted, discusses the first use of "Art" as an adjective denoting the Fine Arts.
Here it is more than ever difficult to keep to the thread of this discourse. All that South Kensington did and failed to do, the aesthetic movement of the eighties, the new gospel of artistic salvation by Liberty fabrics and De Morgan tiles, the erratic changes of fashion in taste, the collapse of Gothic architecture, the triumph of Queen Anne, and the Arts and Crafts movement of the nineties—in short, all the story of Art in the last fifty years, from the new Law Courts to the Tate Gallery, from Felix Summerley to a Hollyer photograph, from the introduction of glyptography to the pictures in the Daily Chronicle, demand notice. But the door must be shut on the turbulent throng, and only children's books allowed to pass through.
The publications by "Felix Summerley," according to the list in "Fifty Years of Public Work," by Sir Henry Cole, K.C.B. (Bell, 1884), include: "Holbein's Bible Events," eight pictures, coloured by Mr. Linnell's sons, 4s. 6d.; "Raffaelle's Bible Events," six pictures from the Loggia, drawn on stone by Mr. Linnell's children and coloured by them, 5s. 6d.; "Albert Duerer's Bible Events," six pictures from Duerer's "Small Passion," coloured by the brothers Linnell; "Traditional Nursery Songs," containing eight pictures; "The Beggars coming to Town," by C. W. Cope, R.A.; "By, O my Baby!" by R. Redgrave, R.A.; "Mother Hubbard," by T. Webster, R.A.; "1, 2, 3, 4, 5," "Sleepy Head," "Up in a Basket," "Cat asleep by the Fire," by John Linnell, 4s. 6d., coloured; "The Ballad of Sir Hornbook," by Thos. Love Peacock, with eight pictures by H. Corbould, coloured, 4s. 6d. (A book with the same title, also described as a "grammatico-allegorical ballad," was published by N. Haites in 1818.) "Chevy Chase," with music and four pictures by Frederick Tayler, President of the Water-Colour Society, coloured, 4s. 6d.; "Puck's Reports to Oberon"; Four new Faery Tales: "The Sisters," "Golden Locks," "Grumble and Cherry," "Arts and Arms," by C. A. Cole, with six pictures by J. H. Townsend, R. Redgrave, R.A., J. C. Horsley, R.A., C. W. Cope, R.A., and F. Tayler; "Little Red Riding Hood," with four pictures by Thos. Webster, coloured, 3s. 6d.; "Beauty and the Beast," with four pictures by J. C. Horsley, R.A., coloured, 3s. 6d.; "Jack and the Bean Stalk," with four pictures by C. W. Cope, R.A., coloured, 3s. 6d.; "Cinderella," with four pictures by E. H. Wehnert, coloured, 3s. 6d.; "Jack the Giant Killer," with four pictures by C. W. Cope, coloured, 3s. 6d.; "The Home Treasury Primer," printed in colours, with drawing on zinc, by W. Mulready, R.A.; "Alphabets of Quadrupeds," selected from the works of Paul Potter, Karl du Jardin, Teniers, Stoop, Rembrandt, &c., and drawn from nature; "The Pleasant History of Reynard the Fox," with forty of the fifty-seven etchings made by Everdingen in 1752, coloured, 31s. 6d.; "A Century of Fables," with pictures by the old masters.
To this list should be added—if it is not by "Felix Summerley," it is evidently conceived by the same spirit and published also by Cundall—"Gammer Gurton's Garland," by Ambrose Merton, with illustrations by T. Webster and others. This was also issued as a series of sixpenny books, of which Mr. Elkin Mathews owns a nearly complete set, in their original covers of gold and coloured paper.
It would be very easy to over-estimate the intrinsic merit of these books, but when you consider them as pioneers it would be hard to over-rate the importance of the new departure. To enlist the talent of the most popular artists of the period, and produce volumes printed in the best style of the Chiswick Press, with bindings and end-papers specially designed, and the whole "get up" of the book carefully considered, was certainly a bold innovation in the early forties. That it failed to be a profitable venture one may deduce from the fact that the "Felix Summerley" series did not run to many volumes, and that the firm who published them, after several changes, seems to have expired, or more possibly was incorporated with some other venture. The books themselves are forgotten by most booksellers to-day, as I have discovered from many fruitless demands for copies.
The little square pamphlets by F. H. Bayley, to which allusion has already been made, include "Blue Beard;" "Robinson Crusoe," and "Red Riding Hood," all published about 1845-6.
Whether "The Sleeping Beauty," then announced as in preparation, was published, I do not know. Their rhyming chronicle in the style of the "Ingoldsby Legends" is neatly turned, and the topical allusions, although out of date now, are not sufficiently frequent to make it unintelligible. The pictures (possibly by Alfred Crowquill) are conceived in a spirit of burlesque, and are full of ingenious conceits and no little grim vigour. The design of Robinson Crusoe roosting in a tree—
And so he climbs up a very tall tree, And fixes himself to his comfort and glee, Hung up from the end of a branch by his breech, Quite out of all mischievous quadrupeds' reach. A position not perfectly easy 't is true, But yet at the same time consoling and new—
reproduced on p. 13, shows the wilder humour of the illustrations. Another of Blue Beard, and one of the wolf suffering from undigested grandmother, are also given. They need no comment, except to note that in the originals, printed on a coloured tint with the high lights left white, the ferocity of Blue Beard is greatly heightened. The wolf, "as he lay there brimful of grandmother and guilt," is one of the best of the smaller pictures in the text.
Other noteworthy books which appeared about this date are Mrs. Felix Summerley's "Mother's Primer," illustrated by W. M[ulready?], Longmans, 1843; "Little Princess," by Mrs. John Slater, 1843, with six charming lithographs by J. C. Horsley, R.A. (one of which is reproduced on p. 11); the "Honey Stew," of the Countess Bertha Jeremiah How, 1846, with coloured plates by Harrison Weir; "Early Days of English Princes," with capital illustrations by John Franklin; and a series of Pleasant Books for Young Children, 6d. plain and 1s. coloured, published by Cundall and Addey.
In 1846 appeared a translation of De La Motte Fouque's romances, "Undine" being illustrated by John Tenniel, jun., and the following volumes by J. Franklin, H. C. Selous, and other artists. The Tenniel designs, as the frontispiece reproduced on p. 20 shows clearly, are interesting both in themselves and as the earliest published work of the famous Punch cartoonist. The strong German influence they show is also apparent in nearly all the decorations. "The Juvenile Verse and Picture Book" (1848), also contains designs by Tenniel, and others by W. B. Scott and Sir John Gilbert. The ideal they established is maintained more or less closely for a long period. "Songs for Children" (W. S. Orr, 1850); "Young England's Little Library" (1851); Mrs. S. C. Hall's "Number One," with pictures by John Absolon (1854); "Stories about Dogs," with "plates by Thomas Landseer" (Bogue, c. 1850); "The Three Bears," illustrated by Absolon and Harrison Weir (Addey and Co., no date); "Nursery Poetry" (Bell and Daldy, 1859), may be noted as typical examples of this period.
In "Granny's Story Box" (Piper, Stephenson, and Spence, about 1855), a most delicious collection of fairy tales illustrated by J. Knight, we find the author in his preface protesting against the opinion of a supposititious old lady who "thought all fairy tales were abolished years ago by Peter Parley and the Penny Magazine." These fanciful stories deserve to be republished, for they are not old-fashioned, even if their pictures are.
To what date certain delightfully printed little volumes, issued by Tabart and Co., 157 Bond Street, may be ascribed I know not—probably some years before the time we are considering, but they must not be overlooked. The title of one, "Mince Pies for Christmas," suggests that it is not very far before, for the legend of Christmas festivities had not long been revived for popular use.
"The Little Lychetts," by the author of "John Halifax," illustrated by Henry Warren, President of the New Society of Painters in Water-Colours (now the R.I.) is remarkable for the extremely uncomely type of children it depicts; yet that its charm is still vivid, despite its "severe" illustrations, you have but to lend it to a child to be convinced quickly.
"Jack's Holiday," by Albert Smith (undated), suggests a new field of research which might lead us astray, as Smith's humour is more often addressed primarily to adults. Indeed, the effort to make this chronicle even representative, much less exhaustive, breaks down in the fifties, when so much good yet not very exhilarating material is to be found in every publisher's list. John Leech in "The Silver Swan" of Mdme. de Chatelaine; Charles Keene in "The Adventures of Dick Bolero" (Darton, no date), and "Robinson Crusoe" (drawn upon for illustration here), and others of the Punch artists, should find their works duly catalogued even in this hasty sketch; but space compels scant justice to many artists of the period, yet if the most popular are left unnoticed such omission will more easily right itself to any reader interested in the subject.
Many show influences of the Gothic revival which was then in the air, but only those which have some idea of book decoration as opposed to inserted pictures. For a certain "formal" ornamentation of the page was in fashion in the "forties" and "fifties," even as it is to-day.
To the artists named as representative of this period one must not forget to add Mr. Birket Foster, who devoted many of his felicitous studies of English pastoral life to the adornment of children's books. But speaking broadly of the period from the Queen's Accession to 1865, except that the subjects are of a sort supposed to appeal to young minds, their conception differs in no way from the work of the same artists in ordinary literature. The vignettes of scenery have childish instead of grown-up figures in the foregrounds; the historical or legendary figures are as seriously depicted in the one class of books as in the other. Humour is conspicuous by its absence—or, to be more accurate, the humour is more often in the accompanying anecdote than in the picture. Probably if the authorship of hundreds of the illustrations of "Peter Parley's Annuals" and other books of this period could be traced, artists as famous as Charles Keene might be found to have contributed. But, owing to the mediocre wood-engraving employed, or to the poor printing, the pictures are singularly unattractive. As a rule, they are unsigned and appear to be often mere pot-boilers—some no doubt intentionally disowned by the designer—others the work of 'prentice hands who afterwards became famous. Above all they are, essentially, illustrations to children's books only because they chanced to be printed therein, and have sometimes done duty in "grown-up" books first. Hence, whatever their artistic merits, they do not appeal to a student of our present subject. They are accidentally present in books for children, but essentially they belong to ordinary illustrations.
Indeed, speaking generally, the time between "Felix Summerley" and Walter Crane, which saw two Great Exhibitions and witnessed many advances in popular illustration, was too much occupied with catering for adults to be specially interested in juveniles. Hence, notwithstanding the names of "illustrious illustrators" to be found on their title-pages, no great injustice will be done if we leave this period and pass on to that which succeeded it. For the Great Exhibition fostered the idea that a smattering of knowledge of a thousand and one subjects was good. Hence the chastened gaiety of its mildly technical science, its popular manuals by Dr. Dionysius Lardner, and its return in another form to the earlier ideal that amusement should be combined with instruction. All sorts of attempts were initiated to make Astronomy palatable to babies, Botany an amusing game for children, Conchology a parlour pastime, and so on through the alphabet of sciences down to Zoology, which is never out of favour with little ones, even if its pictures be accompanied by a dull encylopaedia of fact.
Therefore, except so far as the work of certain illustrators, hereafter noticed, touches this period, we may leave it; not because it is unworthy of most serious attention, for in Sir John Gilbert, Birket Foster, Harrison Weir, and the rest, we have men to reckon with whenever a chronicle of English illustration is in question, but only because they did not often feel disposed to make their work merely amusing. In saying this it is not suggested that they should have tried to be always humorous or archaic, still less to bring down their talent to the supposed level of a child; but only to record the fact that they did not. For instance, Sir John Gilbert's spirited compositions to a "Boy's Book of Ballads" (Bell and Daldy) as you see them mixed with other of the master's work in the reference scrap-books of the publishers, do not at once separate themselves from the rest as "juvenile" pictures.
Nor as we approach the year 1855 (of the "Music Master"), and 1857 (when the famous edition of Tennyson's Poems began a series of superbly illustrated books), do we find any immediate change in the illustration of children's books. The solitary example of Sir Edward Burne-Jones's efforts in this direction, in the frontispiece and title-page to Maclaren's "The Fairy Family" (Longmans, 1857), does not affect this statement. But soon after, as the school of Walker and Pinwell became popular, there is a change in books of all sorts, and Millais and Arthur Hughes, two of the three illustrators of the notable "Music Master," come into our list of children's artists. At this point the attempt to weave a chronicle of children's books somewhat in the date of their publication must give way to a desultory notice of the most prominent illustrators. For we have come to the beginning of to-day rather than the end of yesterday, and can regard the "sixties" onwards as part of the present.
It is true that the Millais of the wonderful designs to "The Parables" more often drew pictures of children than of children's pet themes, but all the same they are entirely lovable, and appeal equally to children of all ages. But his work in this field is scanty; nearly all will be found in "Little Songs for me to Sing" (Cassell), or in "Lilliput Levee" (1867), and these latter had appeared previously in Good Words. Of Arthur Hughes's work we will speak later.
Another artist whose work bulks large in our subject—Arthur Boyd Houghton—soon appears in sight, and whether he depicted babies at play as in "Home Thoughts and Home Scenes," a book of thirty-five pictures of little people, or imagined the scenes of stories dear to them in "The Arabian Nights," or books like "Ernie Elton" or "The Boy Pilgrims," written especially for them, in each he succeeded in winning their hearts, as every one must admit who chanced in childhood to possess his work. So much has been printed lately of the artist and his work, that here a bare reference will suffice.
Arthur Hughes, whose work belongs to many of the periods touched upon in this rambling chronicle, may be called the children's "black-and-white" artist of the "sixties" (taking the date broadly as comprising the earlier "seventies" also), even as Walter Crane is their "limner in colours." His work is evidently conceived with the serious make-believe that is the very essence of a child's imagination. He seems to put down on paper the very spirit of fancy. Whether as an artist he is fully entitled to the rank some of his admirers (of whom I am one) would claim, is a question not worth raising here—the future will settle that for us. But as a children's illustrator he is surely illustrator-in-chief to the Queen of the Fairies, and to a whole generation of readers of "Tom Brown's Schooldays" also. His contributions to "Good Words for the Young" would alone entitle him to high eminence. In addition to these, which include many stories perhaps better known in book form, such as: "The Boy in Grey" (H. Kingsley), George Macdonald's "At the Back of the North Wind," "The Princess and the Goblin," "Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood," "Gutta-Percha Willie" (these four were published by Strahan, and now may be obtained in reprints issued by Messrs. Blackie), and "Lilliput Lectures" (a book of essays for children by Matthew Browne), we find him as sole illustrator of Christina Rossetti's "Sing Song," "Five Days' Entertainment at Wentworth Grange," "Dealings with the Fairies," by George Macdonald (a very scarce volume nowadays), and the chief contributor to the first illustrated edition of "Tom Brown's Schooldays." In Novello's "National Nursery Rhymes" are also several of his designs.
This list, which occupies so small a space, represents several hundred designs, all treated in a manner which is decorative (although it eschews the Duerer line), but marked by strong "colour." Indeed, Mr. Hughes's technique is all his own, and if hard pressed one might own that in certain respects it is not impeccable. But if his textures are not sufficiently differentiated, or even if his drawing appears careless at times—both charges not to be admitted without vigorous protest—granting the opponent's view for the moment, it would be impossible to find the same peculiar tenderness and naive fancy in the work of any other artist. His invention seems inexhaustible and his composition singularly fertile: he can create "bogeys" as well as "fairies."
It is true that his children are related to the sexless idealised race of Sir Edward Burne-Jones's heroes and heroines; they are purged of earthy taint, and idealised perhaps a shade too far. They adopt attitudes graceful if not realistic, they have always a grave serenity of expression; and yet withal they endear themselves in a way wholly their own. It is strange that a period which has bestowed so much appreciation on the work of the artists of "the sixties" has seen no knight-errant with "Arthur Hughes" inscribed on his banner—no exhibition of his black-and-white work, no craze in auction-rooms for first editions of books he illustrated. He has, however, a steady if limited band of very faithful devotees, and perhaps—so inconsistent are we all—they love his work all the better because the blast of popularity has not trumpeted its merits to all and sundry.
Three artists, often coupled together—Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, and Kate Greenaway—have really little in common, except that they all designed books for children which were published about the same period. For Walter Crane is the serious apostle of art for the nursery, who strove to beautify its ideal, to decorate its legends with a real knowledge of architecture and costume, and to "mount" the fairy stories with a certain archaeological splendour, as Sir Henry Irving has set himself to mount Shakespearean drama. Caldecott was a fine literary artist, who was able to express himself with rare facility in pictures in place of words, so that his comments upon a simple text reveal endless subtleties of thought. Indeed, he continued to make a fairly logical sequence of incidents out of the famous nonsense paragraph invented to confound mnemonics by its absolute irrelevancy. Miss Greenaway's charm lies in the fact that she first recognised quaintness in what had been considered merely "old fashion," and continued to infuse it with a glamour that made it appear picturesque. Had she dressed her figures in contemporary costume most probably her work would have taken its place with the average, and never obtained more than common popularity.
But Mr. Walter Crane is almost unique in his profound sympathy with the fantasies he imagines. There is no trace of make-believe in his designs. On the contrary, he makes the old legends become vital, not because of the personalities he bestows on his heroes and fairy princesses—his people move often in a rapt ecstasy—but because the adjuncts of his mise-en-scenes are realised intimately. His prince is much more the typical hero than any particular person; his fair ladies might exchange places, and few would notice the difference; but when it comes to the environment, the real incidents of the story, then no one has more fully grasped both the dramatic force and the local colour. If his people are not peculiarly alive, they are in harmony with the re-edified cities and woods that sprang up under his pencil. He does not bestow the hoary touch of antiquity on his mediaeval buildings; they are all new and comely, in better taste probably than the actual buildings, but not more idealised than are his people. He is the true artist of fairyland, because he recognises its practical possibilities, and yet does not lose the glamour which was never on sea or land. No artist could give more cultured notions of fairyland. In his work the vulgar glories of a pantomime are replaced by well-conceived splendour; the tawdry adjuncts of a throne-room, as represented in a theatre, are ignored. Temples and palaces of the early Renaissance, filled with graceful—perhaps a shade too suave—figures, embody all the charm of the impossible country, with none of the sordid drawbacks that are common to real life. In modern dress, as in his pictures to many of Mrs. Molesworth's stories, there is a certain unlikeness to life as we know it, which does not detract from the effect of the design; but while this is perhaps distracting in stories of contemporary life, it is a very real advantage in those of folk-lore, which have no actual date, and are therefore unafraid of anachronisms of any kind. The spirit of his work is, as it should be, intensely serious, yet the conceits which are showered upon it exactly harmonise with the mood of most of the stories that have attracted his pencil. Grimm's "Household Stories," as he pictured them, are a lasting joy. The "Bluebeard" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" toy books, the "Princess Belle Etoile," and a dozen others are nursery classics, and classics also of the other nursery where children of a larger growth take their pleasure.
Without a shade of disrespect towards all the other artists represented in this special number, had it been devoted solely to Mr. Walter Crane's designs, it would have been as interesting in every respect. There is probably not a single illustrator here mentioned who would not endorse such a statement. For as a maker of children's books, no one ever attempted the task he fulfilled so gaily, and no one since has beaten him on his own ground. Even Mr. Howard Pyle, his most worthy rival, has given us no wealth of colour-prints. So that the famous toy books still retain their well-merited position as the most delightful books for the nursery and the studio, equally beloved by babies and artists.
Although a complete iconography of Mr. Walter Crane's work has not yet been made, the following list of such of his children's books as I have been able to trace may be worth printing for the benefit of those who have not access to the British Museum; where, by the way, many are not included in that section of its catalogue devoted to "Crane, Walter."
The famous series of toy books by Walter Crane include: "The Railroad A B C," "The Farmyard A B C," "Sing a Song of Sixpence," "The Waddling Frog," "The Old Courtier," "Multiplication in Verse," "Chattering Jack," "How Jessie was Lost," "Grammar in Rhyme," "Annie and Jack in London," "One, Two, Buckle my Shoe," "The Fairy Ship," "Adventures of Puffy," "This Little Pig went to Market," "King Luckieboy's Party," "Noah's Ark Alphabet," "My Mother," "The Forty Thieves," "The Three Bears," "Cinderella," "Valentine and Orson," "Puss in Boots," "Old Mother Hubbard," "The Absurd A B C," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Blue Beard," "Baby's Own Alphabet," "The Sleeping Beauty." All these were published at sixpence. A larger series at one shilling includes: "The Frog Prince," "Goody Two Shoes," "Beauty and the Beast," "Alphabet of Old Friends," "The Yellow Dwarf," "Aladdin," "The Hind in the Wood," and "Princess Belle Etoile." All these were published from 1873 onwards by Routledge, and printed in colours by Edmund Evans.
A small quarto series Routledge published at five shillings includes: "The Baby's Opera," "The Baby's Bouquet," "The Baby's Own AEsop." Another and larger quarto, "Flora's Feast" (1889), and "Queen Summer" (1891), were both published by Cassells, who issued also "Legends for Lionel" (1887). "Pan Pipes," an oblong folio with music was issued by Routledge. Messrs. Marcus Ward produced "Slate and Pencilvania," "Pothooks and Perseverance," "Romance of the Three Rs," "Little Queen Anne" (1885-6), Hawthorne's "A Wonder Book," first published in America, is a quarto volume with elaborate designs in colour; and "The Golden Primer" (1884), two vols., by Professor Meiklejohn (Blackwood) is, like all the above, in colour.
Of a series of stories by Mrs. Molesworth the following volumes are illustrated by Mr. Crane:—"A Christmas Posy" (1888), "Carrots" (1876), "A Christmas Child" (1886), "Christmas-tree Land" (1884), "The Cuckoo Clock" (1877), "Four Winds Farm" (1887), "Grandmother Dear" (1878), "Herr Baby" (1881), "Little Miss Peggy" (1887), "The Rectory Children" (1889), "Rosy" (1882), "The Tapestry Room" (1879), "Tell me a Story," "Two Little Waifs," "Us" (1885), and "Children of the Castle" (1890). Earlier in date are "Stories from Memel" (1864), "Stories of Old," "Children's Sayings" (1861), two series, "Poor Match" (1861), "The Merry Heart," with eight coloured plates (Cassell); "King Gab's Story Bag" (Cassell), "Magic of Kindness" (1869), "Queen of the Tournament," "History of Poor Match," "Our Uncle's Old Home" (1872), "Sunny Days" (1871), "The Turtle Dove's Nest" (1890). Later come "The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde" (1880), the famous edition of Grimm's "Household Stories" (1882), both published by Macmillan, and C. C. Harrison's "Folk and Fairy Tales" (1885), "The Happy Prince" (Nutt, 1888). Of these the "Grimm" and "Fiorimonde" are perhaps two of the most important illustrated books noted in these pages.
Randolph Caldecott founded a school that still retains fresh hold of the British public. But with all respect to his most loyal disciple, Mr. Hugh Thomson, one doubts if any successor has equalled the master in the peculiar subtlety of his pictured comment upon the bare text. You have but to turn to any of his toy books to see that at times each word, almost each syllable, inspired its own picture; and that the artist not only conceived the scene which the text called into being, but each successive step before and after the reported incident itself. In "The House that Jack Built," "This is the Rat that Ate the Malt" supplies a subject for five pictures. First the owner carrying in the malt, next the rat driven away by the man, then the rat peeping up into the deserted room, next the rat studying a placard upside down inscribed "four measures of malt," and finally, the gorged animal sitting upon an empty measure. So "This is the Cat that Killed the Rat" is expanded into five pictures. The dog has four, the cat three, and the rest of the story is amplified with its secondary incidents duly sought and depicted. This literary expression is possibly the most marked characteristic of a facile and able draughtsman. He studied his subject as no one else ever studied it—he must have played with it, dreamed of it, worried it night and day, until he knew it ten times better than its author. Then he portrayed it simply and with irresistible vigour, with a fine economy of line and colour; when colour is added, it is mainly as a gay convention, and not closely imitative of nature. The sixteen toy books which bear his name are too well known to make a list of their titles necessary. A few other children's books—"What the Blackbird Said" (Routledge, 1881), "Jackanapes," "Lob-lie-by-the-Fire," "Daddy Darwin's Dovecot," all by Mrs. Ewing (S.P.C.K.), "Baron Bruno" (Macmillan), "Some of AEsop's Fables" (Macmillan), and one or two others, are of secondary importance from our point of view here.
It is no overt dispraise to say of Miss Kate Greenaway that few artists made so great a reputation in so small a field. Inspired by the children's books of 1820 (as a reference to a design, "Paths of Learning," reproduced on p. 9 will show), and with a curious naivety that was even more unconcerned in its dramatic effect than were the "missal marge" pictures of the illuminators, by her simple presentation of the childishness of childhood she won all hearts. Her little people are the beau-ideal of nursery propriety—clean, good-tempered, happy small gentlefolk. For, though they assume peasants' garb, they never betray boorish manners. Their very abandon is only that of nice little people in play-hours, and in their wildest play the penalties that await torn knickerbockers or soiled frocks are not absent from their minds. Whether they really interested children as they delighted their elders is a moot point. The verdict of many modern children is unanimous in praise, and possibly because they represented the ideal every properly educated child is supposed to cherish. The slight taint of priggishness which occasionally is there did not reveal itself to a child's eye. Miss Greenaway's art, however, is not one to analyse but to enjoy. That she is a most careful and painstaking worker is a fact, but one that would not in itself suffice to arouse one's praise. The absence of effort which makes her work look happy and without effort is not its least charm. Her gay yet "cultured" colour, her appreciation of green chairs and formal gardens, all came at the right time. The houses by a Norman Shaw found a Morris and a Liberty ready with furniture and fabrics, and all sorts of manufacturers devoting themselves to the production of pleasant objects, to fill them; and for its drawing-room tables Miss Greenaway produced books that were in the same key. But as the architecture and the fittings, at their best, proved to be no passing whim, but the germ of a style, so her illustration is not a trifling sport, but a very real, if small, item in the history of the evolution of picture-books. Good taste is the prominent feature of her work, and good taste, if out of fashion for a time, always returns, and is treasured by future generations, no matter whether it be in accord with the expression of the hour or distinctly archaic. Time is a very stringent critic, and much that passed as tolerably good taste when it fell in with the fashion, looks hopelessly vulgar when the tide of popularity has retreated. Miss Greenaway's work appears as refined ten years after its "boom," as it did when it was at the flood. That in itself is perhaps an evidence of its lasting power; for ten or a dozen years impart a certain shabby and worn aspect that has no flavour of the antique as a saving virtue to atone for its shortcomings.
It seems almost superfluous to give a list of the principal books by Miss Kate Greenaway, yet for the convenience of collectors the names of the most noteworthy volumes may be set down. Those with coloured plates are: "A, Apple Pie" (1886), "Alphabet" (1885), "Almanacs" (from 1882 yearly), "Birthday Book" (1880), "Book of Games" (1889), "A Day in a Child's Life" (1885), "King Pepito" (1889), "Language of Flowers" (1884), "Little Ann" (1883), "Marigold Garden" (1885), "Mavor's Spelling Book" (1885), "Mother Goose" (1886), "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (1889), "Painting Books" (1879 and 1885), "Queen Victoria's Jubilee Garland" (1887), "Queen of the Pirate Isle" (1886), "Under the Window" (1879). Others with black-and-white illustrations include "Child of the Parsonage" (1874), "Fairy Gifts" (1875), "Seven Birthdays" (1876), "Starlight Stories" (1877), "Topo" (1878), "Dame Wiggins of Lee" (Allen, 1885), "Stories from the Eddas" (1883).
Many designs, some in colour, are to be found in volumes of Little Folks, Little Wideawake, Every Girl's Magazine, Girl's Own Paper, and elsewhere.
The art of Miss Greenaway is part of the legend of the aesthetic craze, and while its storks and sunflowers have faded, and some of its eccentricities are forgotten, the quaint little pictures on Christmas cards, in toy books, and elsewhere, are safely installed as items of the art product of the century. Indeed, many a popular Royal Academy picture is likely to be forgotten before the illustrations from her hand. Bric-a-brac they were, but more than that, for they gave infinite pleasure to thousands of children of all ages, and if they do not rise up and call her blessed, they retain a very warm memory of one who gave them so much innocent pleasure.