CARICATURE AND THE CARICATURABLE.
THE first of the amusing Caricature cases in Dublin this week ended in a verdict which certainly seems to English eyes some- what monstrous. Sir William Carroll,—a respectable Dublin apo- thecary, who was knighted for entertaining the Prince and Princess of Wales when he was Lord Mayor of Dublin, and was again
elected to that office of dignity in the following year, and who quite recently had a distinguished attack of gout, but who, none the less, does unquestionably seem to have something intrinsically caries- turable about him, and to have transmitted that something in an even higher degree to his son,—Nis caricatured at the end of last year by a gentleman of the name of Michael Angelo Hayes, in a comic paper, as a clown, with an enormously swollen and gouty leg and foot, and "a leering and ridiculous" expression of counten- ance, stretching out his hand and saying, "Is there anything I can go for to fetch for to carry for to get? A Lord Mayor, a Collector-General, a City Marshal, an Apothecary-General, a City Treasurer, a Town Councillor '?" The occasion of this attack was, that after retiring from his town-councillorship last year, in consequence of the great attack of gout we referred to, he had on his recovery again come forward as a candidate for a new vacancy; and the caricature representing him as a gouty clown, eagerly soliciting anything there was the least chance of his getting, appeared on the morning of the election. His son, John, was afterwards cari- catured in the costume of a City Marshal, a post he had gained when the artist, Mr. Hayes, who had once been City Marshal, failed to secure a re-election. And it was imputed that this unsuccessful rivalry with Mr. John Carroll had instilled malice into the artist's mind against the Carrells, father and son, who had formerly been his friends and supporters. Mr. John Carroll was caricatured in
the "tunic" appropriate to a City Marshal, "his lower dorsal pro-
portions,' to use the language of Sir W. Carroll'a advocate, "being of the most ridiculous and humanly impossible dimensions," and an inscription being set beneath the figure of Mr. John Carroll to the effect that he was "the imitation article," Sir William Carroll, it was implied, being the genuine type. The counsel for the de- fendant, on the other hand, maintained that there was nothing about the "fundamental proportions " of Mr. John Carroll in the caricature that was much exaggerated. "If the Marshal's tunic," he said, "did not cover an important part of 'Mr. John Carroll's person, that was the fault of Sir Bernard Burke," who, it appears, devised the dress of a City Marshal. Indeed the picture, it was suggested in the second trial, might have fairly gained for Mr. Carroll Junior the epithet " kallipygos," ap- plied to a celebrated Neapolitan Venus. The latter caricature, that of the younger gentleman, was made more amusing by a short quotation, running merely, "Johnny, I hardly knew you 1" from a vulgar song, in which a soldier called " Johnny " is reproached with running away from his wife and child, and twitted with the strangeness of his appearance in a military costume which did not seem to suit his naturally mild expression. The verse to which the quotation refers appears to have been this :-
' Oh, darling dear, you look so queer !
Hurroo, hurroo I Where are your eyes that looked so mild ?
Why did you skedaddle from me and the child ? Oh, Johnny, I hardly know you! With drams and guns and guns and drums, The enemy nearly slew you.
Oh, darling dear, you look so queer Faith, Johnny, I hardly knew you I"
Now caricatures of this kind, founded on the peculiarities of
public men's persons, and intimating that they are too fond of office, and make themselves ridiculous in office, have always been re-
garded as almost matters of popular right. Nor does there seem It is all but certain, we think, that if a similar action had been brought in England, before the Lord Chief Justice of England, the direction to the jury would have been in a very different sense. They would have been told that public men ought to look for treatment that cannot always be very gentle, that it is for the public interest, as well as amusement, that there should be freedom even for moderate satire ; and that unless the satire exceeded such satire as a manly and moderately thick-skinned man would bear without undue vexation, the damages might well be assessed at a purely nominal amount. Certainly if every caricature of Lord Brougham's nose, or of the grotesque mask,—as of one of the masks adorning the old-fashioned editions of Terence and Plautus,—under which Mr. Disraeli veils his high mind, or of Mr. Gladstone's frown, were to be treated as libellous, the faces of men of well-marked character might be made the source of a liberal income for them, were it not that the public would never continue to esteem very highly public men who could not bear laughing at without complaining ; for there cannot be public life at all with- out its incidents, and one of its incidents will always be that caricaturable men known to the public are sure to be caricatured. And though caricaturability in public men often results from the kind of energy and ability which make it tolerably easy to bear caricatures with equanimity, yet often unquestionably it does not. In these Irish cases, it is evident that the Carrolls, both father and son, were caricaturable rather from the unsuitability of their natures to the public circumstances in which they were, as one may say, framed, than from any such prominent individual char- acteristics, as, when they are striking and unusual, not un- frequently also imply an unusual amount of intellectual and moral force. Thus, Sir William Carroll, who is probably a very good- natured, as well as free-handed, man, or he would not have been twice in succession elected Lord Mayor of Dublin, seems to be caricaturable mainly from want of the dignity befitting a public position than from any positive characteristic. Just as his son was caricaturable chiefly because he would wear a tunic which did not become or adequately enclose his person, so the worthy knight himself seems to be caricaturable only when he sets off small infirmities against the not too fierce light which beats upon a Mayor or a Common Councillor. When he is put into the witness- box, and his counsel asks him whether he has observed in the carica- ture the pocket-handkerchief with the word "Knighthood" upon it, hanging ostentatiously out of the breeches-pocket of the figure in the caricature, and he innocently answers, "That's me ;" or when being asked, "Did you suffer pain of mind by this caricature ?" he replies, "I never suffered more bodily pain of mind than since I saw that," and then corrects himself by saying, "You know I only meant mental pain of mind," one feels at once that the excellent gentle- man did himself great injustice by placing himself in a position which required at the very least presence of mind. In comparing the horrors of the caricature of himself with that of his son, be ex- pressed his feelings more vividly than accurately by saying, "I will be to send into every parish in Scotland not peace, but a think one cruelly bad and the other equally worse,"—which was an sword. inimitable mode at once of expressing his sense of grievance and of 3. What is an " adherent "? No human being knows. Is he letting off that smoke-puff of sudden bewilderment by which every a seat-holder? Then that will include Episcopalians, Roman fresh realisation of the grievance, even when the novelty had worn Catholics, and Unitarians, who have seats in the parish church in off, was accompanied. Better examples of the kind of men who right of farms or lands, and will exclude the mass of Cameronians, supply matter for caricature only because they come forward into U.P. and F.C. Presbyterians. Is he a regular sitter in the Church ? to have been anything to distinguish this case from that of rather prominent public positions for which they are imperfectly the caricatures which appear every week in Punch, except fitted, can hardly be conceived, than "the civic celebrities" who that the caricature of Sir W. Carroll at least, was not original, have lately caused so much amusement in Dublin.
—the idea of the clown asking for anything he could It certainly does seem hardly fair, that, when caricatures are get was borrowed from an old caricature of Lord Brougham,— I nothing but the natural and pardonable, if not quite inevitable, that Mr. Hayes, the artist, had had some sort of cause for exaggerations of such an incoherence between men and their cir- hostility to the Carrolls,—and that when asked to apologise he cumstances as they bring upon themselves, and to which they them- declined, as it was stated, on the ground that an action for libel, selves, too, by entering into public life, attract public observation, by advertising his publication, would do it nothing but good, the ridicule thus provoked, if kept within fair limits, should be and that accordingly it was not his interest to apologise and held as libellous, and punished with costs and fines. When the prevent the action. Nothing worse was imputed to either of the caricature turns on features or qualities indicating a strong char- Carrolls in the caricatures than that they were rather specially capable of being made ridiculous, and that the father was some- what greedy of office. But Lie Lord Chief Justice laid it down very confidently that to bring any one into ridicule and contempt is to libel him, and while he recommended the jury to act on the rule, "Let your moderation be known unto all men "in assessing damages, his charge leaned heavily to the side of giving damages, though not the absurd amount,— £.500,—claimed by the plaintiff. The damages actually given by the jury in the first case were apparently quite in harmony with the drift of the Lord Chief Justice's charge ; in the second, they gave only a farthing, evidently against the Lord Chief Justice's implied advice.
acter and connected with a considerable public career, there is little danger of over-sensitiveness, and hardly any instances of its being publicly betrayed. But when the caricature is nothing more than an emphasising of the comedy of human caprice, of the failures of dignity into which men will blunder who do not know what kind of costume, physical or moral, best becomes them, it is most probable that the objects of the caricature will be sensitive in pretty nearly direct proportion to the appropriateness of the ridi- cule. Those who are conscious of awkwardness without any abund- ance of power, will be touchy about their awkwardness ; those who are more sensible of the power than of the awkwardness, will be indif- ferent. Thus the public is likely enough to suffer most in just those cases where it is allowed least scope for self-defence through ridi- cule or satire. Where Broughams and O'Connells hold their peace, Carrolls bring actions for libel; and yet the public gain something as well as their laugh out of the one class of caricaturables, and nothing to speak of but their laugh out of the other. This is rather hard. Society has its rights, as well as its duties. And it seems to us that one of society's rights is to laugh at the laugh- able, if it does not go beyond the limits of honest ridicule, into what is malicious,—if it does not inflict wounds intended to rankle and fester, but only keeps the right to amuse itself with the follies and mistakes of its members. Ridicule has been called a test of Truth. That it is not. But it is a fair test of strength and capacity. It is the caustic which many of the morbid growths of society need, and it is far more for the public interest that its reasonable use should not be too carefully curtailed, than it is that ridiculous individuals should be sheltered from the laughter of the world in which they live.