Reference > Cambridge History > The Victorian Age, Part Two > Caricature and the Literature of Sport > The English Spy
  Pierce Egan; Life in London John Thomas Smith  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

VI. Caricature and the Literature of Sport.

§ 10. The English Spy.


An offshoot of Life in London was The English Spy: An Original Work, Characteristic, Satirical, and Humorous, illustrated with many coloured plates, of which the greater number are by “Robert Transit” (i.e. Robert Cruikshank), at least one (not in his pleasantest vein) by Rowlandson and a few by other hands, and written by “Bernard Blackmantle,” a pseudonym for Charles Molloy Westmacott. Westmacott, whose Points of Misery (1823) was illustrated by George Cruikshank, appears to have been a blackmailer; but he was a spirited and amusing writer, and, though The English Spy, both in text and in illustrations, is sometimes as coarse as ever was Smollett in word or Gillray in drawing, it contains many lively representations of life, high and low, gives much curious information about the customs and manners of the day and about real people still recognisable under their fictitious names, and preserves many tales of a past age. It attempts to do for many places in England what Life in London and Real Life in London had done for the metropolis. Eton and Westminster schools, the university of Oxford, Brighton, Bath and Cheltenham, London and the suburbs of London, Cowes, Portsmouth and Doncaster races, all find a place in Westmacott’s racy pages; and Robert Cruikshank’s plates are as full of vigour and variety as the author’s prose and verse. In or about 1823, a young artist, named Theodore Lane, brought to Pierce Egan a series of original and effective designs representing the life of an actor from his stage-struck days to his triumph; and round them Egan wrote The Life of an Actor, which was published in 1824. Though it suffers from all the faults of Egan’s flashy style, the book is well designed and interesting, while the footnotes are full of theatrical stories of various merit. It was Lane, also, who illustrated Egan’s Anecdotes, Original and Selected, of the Turf, the Chase, the Ring, and the Stage, published in 1827. In the following year, Egan brought out The Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic, in their Pursuits through Life In and Out of London, with illustrations by Robert Cruikshank. To some extent, the work was intended as a sop to those who had attacked the immorality of Life in London. Logic dies, at which no one would be surprised, though it is difficult not to resent the attempt to make his end pathetic. Corinthian Tom, attempting a little genuine sport, breaks his neck in the hunting-field; his cast-off mistress, Corinthian Kate, dies of drink and starvation, and Jerry alone is left alive, to settle down in the country with a virtuous wife. The illustrations are admirable; and the text is more amusing, less vulgarly written and less offensive in subject than that of Life in London.   16

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Pierce Egan; Life in London John Thomas Smith  
 
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