CHAPTER XVII

I take up caricaturing — Sir Frederick Leighton introduces me to W. Q. Orchardson, R.A. — His kindly reception of me — Difficulties the cartoonist has to contend with — Human weaknesses — Amusing incidents — The Frenchman's tooth — The caricature on the table top — A shirt-front souvenir —Sketching for the paper — The "Unemployed" Riots — Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoons — Sir Charles Warren and the police — Mr. Hyndman — An unforgettable experience — The "Special Constables" — I join and am sworn in — The Socialists outwitted — Sir Charles Warren's clever stratagem — Funny incident — "A perfect lidy" — My first literary work for a daily paper — My meeting with Mr. W. T. Stead — I go over to Paris for the Illustrated and the Pall Mall Gazette to interview and sketch President Carnot, General Boulanger, and others — My impression of the President of the Republic — An invitation to a reception at the Elysee — Joke of my pals — The scene at the reception — My interview with General Boulanger Monsieur de Blowitz, Monsieur Eiffel, Campbell Clarke, and Caran d'Ache — Satisfactory results of my Paris visit — Mr Stead's facetious remark

THIS is going to be a serious chapter, otherwise it may be inferred that my life in those days was mostly play and very little work, whereas it was not really so. I don't know whether it was the atmosphere of St John's Wood, or the fact that I was still on the right side of thirty; but during the whole time I was at 3 Blenheim Place I was consumed with a restless energy for work, which was continually stimulating me to make fresh efforts, whilst waiting another opportunity for a journey for the Illustrated London News. Wars or expeditions to far-off lands don't, however, come along with the frequency a travelling correspondent desires, so I determined to have another string to my bow, as black and white work did not take up all my time.

With this idea in my mind I thought I would have a shot at caricaturing, which had always been more or less a hobby of mine. It had been my ambition to see some of my productions in Vanity Fair, which was then at the zenith of its fame with Pellegrini, making all London laugh with his wonderful cartoons. And in this aspiration I was encouraged by Sir Frederick Leighton, who, on several occasions when I had ventured to show him specimens of what I could do in this direction, had paid me some very great compliments.

My first serious effort, I remember, which, I may add, led to my doing quite a lot of work, not only for Vanity Fair, but many other papers, was a cartoon of W. Q. Orchardson, the famous Royal Academician. On the introduction of Leighton, he was kind enough to give me a special sitting for the purpose.

It was on this occasion, I recollect, that I discovered I possessed the perhaps peculiar faculty, if I may so call it, of not being in the least perturbed by the importance of my sitters. I found I could look on them all as merely my models pro tern., and in later years, when in the course of my journalistic career, I had occasion to interview and sketch many eminent people, I found this insouciance, so to speak, of invaluable service. I have never felt it militated in the slightest degree against the accomplishment of the work I had in view; rather the contrary, in fact, as it generally put me at once on a friendly footing with my subject. The bump of obsequiousness is, I am afraid, not strongly developed in me.

Orchardson lived just off Victoria Street, Westminster, and his studio was very characteristic of his work. It was very spacious and lofty, and the aspect singularly austere and early Victorian, even to the walls which were very monotonous in tone, though doubtless that was very useful to him in his painting, as he only had to glance round about him to get suggestions for the effect he was seeking. This was, as I have said, my first attempt at a cartoon for publication, and I remember I was quite pleased to find how facile the work was apparently, because I did it quite easily. It was only afterwards that I realized the success of the drawing was due to Orchardson having afforded me every facility for getting it right. Many men I portrayed in after years seemed to think it was an act of condescension on their part, even letting you look at them, let alone sketch them. He was engaged on a large and important picture on the day of my visit, and I begged him not to leave off work on my account, as I thought it would be much more interesting to sketch him whilst he was painting, for it was not every day one could have an opportunity for observing the methods of a great artist à l'œuvre. What I remember impressed me most was the small size brushes he used in comparison to the dimensions of the canvas. It struck me that it must require a quite exceptional amount of patience and conviction to cover it so slowly — yet what splendid results he achieved with these little brushes.

W. G. Orchardson, R. A.


I did not take long to realize that it was quite the exception to find a sitter so affable and unassuming as Orchardson, and that in cartoon work as in serious portraiture you had to contend with that most pitiful of human weaknesses, vanity. In nine cases out of ten, in order to satisfy your subject, you had to try and see him as he fancied himself, and what he fancied himself, was usually very different to what one had before one. I was being continually reminded of the famous lines: —

"O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursel's as ithers see us!"

If this were only the case with nonentities, it might perhaps be pardonable, as it pleases their little selves and hurts no one else, but one feels one would like to buy them at our price and sell them again at theirs. When, however, it came from men of intelligence it was indeed laughable to notice the way they had of preening themselves in the hope that I would let them down lightly.

It is given to very few men to appreciate a caricature portrait of themselves, however good it may be, whereas it generally provokes much genuine mirth amongst their friends, behind their backs, bien entendu.

Caricaturing, as may be imagined, often leads to amusing incidents. I remember on one occasion doing one of a well-known Frenchman. He had peculiar teeth which gave much character to his laugh — in fact there was a tooth missing right in front. Of course I painted him as I saw him, minus a tooth. I had no intention of beautifying him in a cartoon. He was very offended when he saw the result. "Why should I paint him without teeth?" he asked. "It wasn't funny." I didn't know what to say. I couldn't very well reply that it wasn't my fault, when suddenly an idea seemed to have occurred to him. He left the room hurriedly saying he would be back in a few moments. On his return, he grinned significantly, when to my surprise I saw he had his full complement of teeth. He had forgotten, so he explained, to put his front tooth in that morning.

It sometimes happens that one comes across a man who is not so inordinately vain as to take exception to a bit of fun at his expense. In this connection, perhaps one of the most curious experiences I ever had with caricaturing was at a little place in France, where I was painting one summer.

There was a café where every one used to meet of a day. One afternoon at l'heure de l'aperitif I was with some of my friends when a very big and pompous individual entered and seated himself at the table not far from us. He must have weighed close on twenty stone, and was altogether of so remarkable appearance that I could not resist the temptation of making a caricature of him at the risk of getting my head punched if he objected.

I did not happen to have my sketch book with me, so I began making a drawing on the marble-topped table we were sitting at. As it sometimes happens, he had a very easy face to catch, and in a very few minutes I had made an exaggerated likeness of him. It was evidently a happy effort, because everybody around burst out laughing when they saw it. Meanwhile my victim sat smoking stolidly and apparently unaware that he was being sketched, although once or twice I thought he must have heard the laughter at our table and guessed the cause of our hilarity. But he sat as still as anything, so I had every chance of getting him.

Just as I had finished the "patron" came across to have a look at it, and he said it was so good that he begged me not to rub it out, as he wanted to let some of his friends see it. I could not very well refuse, so it was covered up with a tablecloth.

The next day when I went into the café as usual the "patron" came up to me excitedly. He had something amusing to tell me, he said. "The client had bought the table." "Bought what table?" I asked in surprise. "The table you drew his caricature on, yesterday. He knew you were sketching him, and after you had gone he had a look at it, and was so delighted with it that he asked me if I would sell him the table so that he could take it away. I couldn't very well object, so it was fetched this morning." It afterwards transpired that the consommateur was a wealthy manufacturer living in a town not far off, and the Mayor of the place as well. Here was an instance of material appreciation of a bit of fun which was somewhat unexpected.

One does, therefore, come across men who have not an atom of obnoxious vanity in their composition, and which explains their popularity. I remember after a big public dinner I was once at, a very genial old chap asking me if I would do a sketch for him as a souvenir. I said I would if he would let me do it on his shirt-front. He laughingly fell in with the suggestion at once, so he posed for me, and I made a large caricature of him on the spotless expanse of white linen, much to the amusement of the bystanders, as may be imagined. He was so pleased with it, I learned, that afterwards he had it cut out and framed.

In those days there seemed to be something continually turning up which provided work for one's pencil of an interesting nature, probably because photography had not yet even commenced to oust journalistic artists. So you could never tell where you might have a chance of being sent at a moment's notice, a railway accident, some public function, which were always grist to the mill if you liked rushing about, and one often found oneself starting for the most unexpected places.

Perhaps one of my most interesting experiences just then was at the time of the "Unemployed Riots." London was in a state of ferment, and Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoons the rendezvous of all the most hot-headed Socialists in the Metropolis, whilst the authorities looked on benevolently. General Sir Charles Warren, of South African fame, was the head of the police, and had attempted to
introduce a system of militarism, which had not been over-well received, hence the indecision with regard to taking action and to stop proceedings that had excited the wrath of all law-abiding citizens.

At last, on one Sunday, it was reported that the police, aided by the military, were going to stop the usual gathering in the Square. I was sent by the Illustrated to get some sketches; and. I shall never forget the experience. If I remember rightly, the meeting was to be addressed by Mr. Hyndman, a prominent Socialist, and several others, and it was announced that it would take place in spite of the veto of the authorities, and it did.
 

Sir
                  Charles Warren...

When I got to the Square it was packed with a seething mass of frowsy, unwashed humanity. I wanted to get as close up as possible to the speakers; but as they had stationed themselves on the parapet facing the National Gallery, it was no easy matter. However, I managed to gradually work my way through the crowd until I was right in between the fountains, when I realized it would have been better to have gone on to the roadway, as sketching was impossible in such a crush, so I turned to go back, but I might have as well attempted to go through a brick wall. Movement was impossible, so I had no option but to remain where I was. The din on all sides was indescribable. All of a sudden there were shouts that the cavalry and the police were going to clear the Square. I shall never in my life forget what happened then; to say I was taken off my feet would be to describe it mildly — there was a frenzied struggle of every one to get away, and in an instant I found myself wedged in a veritable human vortex. The pressure was so terrific that I expected my ribs to give in, and my clothes to be torn off my back. Shrieks and curses rose on all sides, and I had an awful feeling that I was absolutely helpless, and was going to be crushed to death. The next few minutes seemed like hours, and I was beginning to feel I couldn't hold out any longer when the pressure began to cease gradually. How it came about I didn't know; possibly some police barrier had been relaxed. Anyhow, after a time, I managed to elbow my way through the rabble, and at length found myself in the roadway, when I mentally ejaculated, "Thank God!" for I felt I had indeed had a narrow escape, and I made up my mind not to be caught in a big crowd like that again in a hurry.

Early in the following week it was announced that special constables were to be enrolled to aid the authorities in maintaining order, so as not to have to make use of the military unless it was absolutely necessary. The Illustrated suggested it would be a good idea my joining, so I went to the Westminster Police Court and was sworn in before Mr. Partridge, the magistrate, amongst many hundreds of young fellows, mostly belonging to the volunteers. Wristlets, similar to those worn by the police, armlets for use when on service, and truncheons were served out, and we were informed that our Division mustered the following Sunday morning in Kensington Palace Gardens. The authorities were not going to be caught "napping" a second time.

I forget how many "specials" there were, but it is certain that the mob was completely overawed by the preparations they saw were being made for its reception, and nothing whatever of an untoward nature happened all the afternoon beyond our being jeered at by the roughs. The various divisions stood in close formation, ready for action, and hoping for the chance of going for the mob of so-called "Unemployed." We were stationed in St James's Park, and although it was interesting enough at first, especially the march through the streets, it ended by becoming very tedious standing about doing nothing.

No meeting took place in Trafalgar Square, in spite of the boasts of the Socialists. They were outwitted by Sir Charles Warren and by a stratagem so intelligent, yet so simple, that it must be mentioned. He simply filled the Square with police, standing shoulder to shoulder in serried ranks, so there was no chance for any procession to enter. Thus ended in peaceful quietude a day that was in marked contrast to the rioting on the previous Sunday. There were quite a number of nice fellows in my Division, and as I was made an inspector pro tem., I had plenty of opportunity to make sketches, and we all became very friendly.

A funny thing happened that night when I got back home. It was very late, and the streets, of course, deserted. Just opposite the studio I noticed a policeman standing over a drunken woman lying on the ground. He was trying to induce her to get up. I went over to see what was the matter, and found him doing his best to get the lady to accompany him to the police station. But all his efforts were in vain; she simply would not get on her feet, and declared she was going to sleep there whether he liked it or not, and although he was a strong, young fellow he could not get her to budge. I had been looking for a job all day, so I told him I was a special constable, and offered to lend him a hand. He laughingly accepted. With that he grasped hold of one of her arms, and I the other.

No sooner, however, had I touched her than it was as if the Parrot House at the Zoo had been disturbed. Perhaps it was she recognized that I was only an amateur policeman, for she set up a series of piercing yells which woke up the entire neighborhood. I let go as though she had been red-hot and immediately she became quiet. The constable and I looked at each other; perhaps I touched her on a tender spot, thought I, and with that I caught hold of her again, differently, while he said gruffly, "Come, up yer get, we can't stop 'ere all night." But instantly, as though an electric bell had been started, the piercing yells and shrieks arose again. I should never have thought one woman could have made such a din. It was evidently no use my attempting to give him any assistance, so I let go and she lay as quiet as a log. "I think," said the constable, "if you don't mind going round to the corner of High Street, you will meet one of our chaps, and he will come and give me a hand." Just at that moment he espied a constable coming round the corner, evidently attracted by the screams, and he came over to us. He turned out to be a sergeant. The finale then was brief. "Up you get, old lady," he said, and they both caught hold of her under her arms, none too gently, and she was on her feet in a trice. As they were taking her off she turned to me and vociferated at the top of her voice: "D'yer fink as 'ow I'd allow a beast like you to put 'ands on a perfect lidy like me? Not much. I'm a respectable married woman, I am, and don't you forgit it!"

A few months after my special constable experience, an idea occurred to me which was fraught with much consequence in my life subsequently. I cannot recall what it was suggested it to me, but I remember I was going over to Paris to see the Salon when I suddenly thought I might as well, if possible, combine work with pleasure, and pay my expenses out of it. Then, indeed, I should have an ideal holiday from an artist's point of view.

There were at the time several interesting events on the tapis in France; but first and foremost was the Boulangist movement, which was then in full swing, and the brav' général the man of the hour. I went to the Illustrated London News and told Mr. Ingram I was going over to Paris, and asked if he would like me to get him some sketches from life of the popular hero. It did not take him long to make up his mind, and in a few minutes I had an Illustrated London News card duly filled in with my name, accrediting me as their special artist in Paris. Then I asked him if there were any objection to my doing some work for a daily paper at the same time. He had no objection, so it only remained now for me to endeavor to carry out my idea. I therefore went to the Pall Mall Gazette office and boldly asked to see Mr. Stead, the editor.

W. T. Stead was one of the men of the hour at that time, and had made a power of the Pall Mall. He had introduced many striking innovations in daily journalism, amongst others the illustrated interview.

I well remember the trepidation I felt when I was shown into the room of the great man, for I felt it was awful cheek my venturing to call on him at all, since I had never written a line in my life. However, he received me very affably. Editors were considered almost inaccessible in those days to outsiders; so I was in luck's way seeing him at all.

I plucked up courage, therefore, and told him I was going to sketch Boulanger for the Illustrated London News, and that I spoke French fluently, and would he like me to do an interview with him at the same time for the Pall Mall?" Have you had much experience at interviewing?" he asked me, in kindly tones, for he must have perceived that I was quite a beginner.

He was so sympathetic and friendly in his manner that I thought it best to be candid, so replied that this was absolutely my first attempt in journalism. This seemed rather to amuse him, and he gave me to understand that if I cared to do it on spec, and it was good enough to be used, he would be glad to have it. This was, perhaps, somewhat on the lines of the immortal resolution of the Committee of the Pickwick Club, though, of course, I could hardly have expected him to say more, so I agreed to have a try at it. Then, as though a thought had struck him, he asked, "Do you think you could get one with President Carnot as well, while you are over there?" Without hesitation, as though it was quite a simple everyday matter, I replied that I saw no difficulty whatever, as I had many influential friends in Paris. "Well, then, if that's the case, and you care to, you might try to get some others as well — M. Eiffel, De Blowitz, Caran d'Ache, Campbell Clarke; they would all interest me, and I would like some sketches of them as well!" Of course, I agreed, and to my delight he wrote out a card on which was stated I was authorized to represent the Pall Mall Gazette in Paris for the next few weeks. This, therefore, was the first literary journalistic credential I received.

It was only when I got outside the office I began to realize the difficulty of my undertaking. It was not only the fact that it was my first attempt at interview work, but what bothered me was how I was going to get at the distinguished men whose names had been given me. I began to feel I had perhaps been somewhat precipitate. There was no certainty that my friends in Paris would help me. Of course I knew if I did not succeed I was under no obligation to go and tell Mr. Stead I had failed, or, in fact, to call at his office again, but the idea of not being successful was not to be entertained for a moment, so I started for Paris with the firm conviction in my mind that I was going to do what I had undertaken, and as it turned out I accomplished it entirely without a hitch from start to finish. Although scarcely coming within the scope of this narrative of my Bohemian Life in London, a brief resumé of it may be of interest. My idea was to make the sketch whilst having the interview, and for the purpose I had got a sketch book of special shape and size made for me.

I soon made the discovery that in journalistic work it is better to rely on one's own initiative than on any outside assistance, which, more often than not, is but of hypocriphal value, so, after waiting for several days for introductions which did not arrive, I took the bull by the horns and wrote personally to all the personages I wanted to interview, and in every case I got a favorable reply, making an appointment.

I remember particularly what an effect the arrival of the mounted orderly from the Elysée with a letter for me produced at the modest hotel in the Rue Pasquier where I was staying.

Having succeeded so far, it was now up to me to do the interviews if I could. It was at this juncture that I again realized the advantage I possessed in not being in the least impressed by pomp and circumstance. When I was ushered with much ceremony into the presence of the President of the Republic, I recollect my first impression was how much he resembled an old uncle of mine. This was sufficient to put me at once at my ease, so much so, in fact, that after a time, while I was making my sketch, I ventured to tell him of the likeness, and he laughed heartily.

He was a man of stiff and impassive demeanor, the very embodiment of dignity and self-consciousness, and this frigid appearance was heightened by the closely-buttoned frock coat, stiff, clerical-looking collar, and black tie which completely hid his shirt and made him look not unlike a prosperous undertaker. My unconventionally seemed to have imparted a touch of everyday human nature to what would otherwise have been but a formal and official interview, and we were soon chatting together in the most unrestrained and friendly manner, and when I had finished my work he asked me in the most cordial way if I would like to come to Madame Carnot's reception at the Elysée the following evening. Of course I accepted, and in due course the mounted orderly again rode up to my hotel with an official invitation, and, needless to add, I went.

Some of my artist friends — young fellows with no respect for dignity — on learning of the honor conferred on me, insisted on escorting me that night to the entrance of the Elysée, where, with mock deference, and much to the great amusement of the sentries and the police on duty, they lined up on either side and saluted me gravely as I passed through the portal.

I felt somewhat embarrassed when I found myself inside the palace, for on all sides were resplendent uniforms and blazing decorations, whilst I, of course, was only in humble evening dress. The magnificent saloons were crowded, and the gorgeous toilets of the ladies added brilliance to the scene. I had always heard that the Presidential receptions were but tame and bourgeois affairs as compared with those at the Tuileries during the Empire, but what I saw around me was, I thought, certainly not lacking in impressiveness, although it was perhaps solely Republican, and the majority of these people not blue-blooded aristocrats.

I made my way upstairs slowly, for there was a big crush, to where the President and Madame Carnot received their guests at the entrance to the salons, and waited till my name was announced. The President, who was merely bowing stiffly and coldly to every one, was graciously pleased to extend his hand to me in quite genial fashion and introduced me to Madame Carnot as "l'artiste peintre de Londres." After a word of welcome from the lady I then passed on, and stood at the back watching the arrival of the guests.

It was all very prim and formal, as may be imagined, and after a time I found it somewhat dull, as I was quite alone, and in it but not of it. So after about an hour, when I noticed that people were taking their departure, I did likewise, and was not sorry when I found myself outside in my familiar Paris again. There was, to my mind something depressing in the world of diplomacy which I had just visited for the first time.

Things are very much changed in Paris since then, and nowadays it is as difficult for a foreign correspondent to be received by the President of the Republic — unless he has good influence to back him up, or is introduced by a personal friend — as it is to get into the presence of Royalty.

General Boulanger I interviewed at the very zenith of his power and popularity. I shall never forget that memorable night when the result of the election was definitely known. He was dining at Durand's at the corner of the Place de la Madeleine, and one could have walked down the Rue Royale over the heads of the people who were waiting for their newly found idol to appear. If he had only had just that little spark of pluck which goes to make a Napoleon or a Cromwell, he could have gone to the Elysée then and there, but probably there passed through his mind the chance of an over-zealous sentry and a sudden ending to his career, so he missed his opportunity and never got the chance again. His house in the Rue Dumont d'Urville was always thronged with his admirers and fortune-hunters, who would wait for hours on the chance of an interview.

My appointment was at the unearthly hour of 8 o'clock in the morning, but I was advised to get there much earlier than that if I wanted to make sure of seeing him.

When I saw him after waiting from 6 till close on 9 o'clock, instead of the fine dashing cavalry officer I had expected from the photographs sold of him everywhere, I found an elderly, frock-coated gentleman who might have been a prosperous merchant or the director of a successful trading company, certainly not one's conception of a popular hero. However, there was a charm in his manner which was particularly winning and doubtless explained his popularity. He received me in so friendly a fashion that I felt one could not help liking him.

I thought I would carry out my plan of sketching and interviewing him simultaneously. "I am very much occupied," he said, "you will have to catch me as well as you can," so I dodged about the room until I found a good position to sketch him from. I noticed certain gestures which struck me as being theatrical, which were doubtless calculated to impress me, as, for instance, he opened a letter, read it intently, and held it in his hand as though deep in thought. Then, as though he had taken a sudden resolve, he tore it up and with a deep-drawn sigh consigned it to the wastepaper basket. Other letters that he read through hastily, appeared to cause him annoyance, but all seemed to me to be done for effect. He knew I was watching him every moment.

Afterwards, taking me by the arm, he showed me over the house, which was practically the headquarters of the party, and I interviewed him whilst we walked round. I recollect how many photographs of him there were, in all poses and dress. He might have been a fashionable beauty. But there was a reason for it all. His dashing appearance on his famous black charger was one of his chief assets. When I came away after spending nearly two hours with him I felt that I had really done a good day's work, as I had made quite a lot of sketches, and had got a long and interesting interview.

Monsieur de Blowitz, the celebrated correspondent of the Times in Paris, was known facetiously as the "Friend of Emperors," for he was said to be on intimate terms with all the crowned heads of Europe. He lived in the Rue de Tilsitt and received me in the most extraordinary attire imaginable. It was a sort of compromise between pajamas and the Turkish national costume, and of the most brilliant red, while he had a black fez on his scant locks, which gave him a still more grotesque appearance. He was a tiny little man, inclined to embonpoint, with an immense head. He was pleased to let me sketch him, and whilst doing so I adroitly got, without his realizing it, the replies to several questions I had written in my sketch book, and as he talked he gradually let himself go, and I found myself writing down matters of so important a nature that I wondered what he would say if he found I was taking notes as well as sketching him.

You
                      Will Have To Catch Me...

When I got back to my hotel and read it all over, I came to the conclusion that it would not be fair to publish it without his sanction, so I went back and saw him the following day. He laughed heartily at my ruse, and good-naturedly edited the interview himself. I may add that when this was published, it caused somewhat of a sensation, as it dealt intimately with the Parnell question, and was referred to in most of the London and provincial papers.

Monsieur Eiffel was building his famous tower then, and I interviewed him on the spot. He held Sunday "at homes" on the works. Every week the reception platform was nearer the heavens, and only those with cast iron nerves could venture up, for the lifts were not then installed.

Caran d'Ache, the famous humorous artist, and Campbell Clarke, correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, both received me in the most genial manner, and put no difficulties in the way of my accomplishing my object. In fact, I liked the work so much, and found it so pleasant, that I determined, should it be accepted by the Pall Mall, to devote my time to it in the intervals of black-and-white drawing and painting. Well, it was all accepted, and I remember Mr. Stead facetiously remarked afterwards that I ought to consider him my literary accoucheur. This, therefore, was the commencement of my work as a scribe, and I never had cause to regret having made that trip to Paris.




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