Can there have been a time, one is inclined to ask, when a man s religion could prove a bar to college, Bench, and Parliament? Assuredly there was such a time, and not long ago — say forty years or so — when no Jew could be a judge or a member of Parliament; and it was only after severe battles and many defeats that victory at last attended the Jewish banner. One of the most violent opponents of the Jews was Sir Robert Harry Inglis, a very conscientious and worthy gentleman. By a happy thought of Leech's, Sir Robert is made to figure in one of the most humorous of the political cartoons.

About this time my old friend Frank Stone had painted two pictures in illustration of his favourite theme — love. They were called “The First Appeal” and “The Last Appeal” In the first a kind of peasant lover is beseeching his “flame” to listen to his vows. She listens, but without encouraging a hope in the swain that he will prevail. Time is supposed to pass, leaving terrible traces of suffering — apparently to the verge of consumption — in the young man, who, on finding the girl at a well, makes his last, almost dying, appeal. He seizes her hand; but she turns away, deaf to his passionate beseeching. [25-26] In the Leech drawing the composition of Stone's picture is exactly preserved; but in place of the lady we have Sir Robert Inglis, who turns away in horror from a young gentleman of a very marked Jewish type indeed. . . .

If John Leech could have entertained a prejudice against any human beings, it must have been against the Jewish race, for there is scarcely an instance in which he deals with the Jews that they do not suffer under his hand. The points of their physiognomy are rather cruelly prominent sometimes, even almost to caricature, and they are constantly placed in ludicrous positions. There can be no doubt that in some instances the tailor is no less a bloodsucker than the dressmaker, but I think there are as many, or more, Christian — or, rather, unchristian — tailors who “sweat” their workpeople as there are Jewish. However, in one of Leech's most powerful prints, he gives the pas to the Jew, who watches a group of skeleton tailors as they labour in their bones for his benefit. It is a gruesome drawing, which, once seen, can never be forgotten. [30]

Bibliography

Frith, William Powell, R. A.. The Life and Work of John Leech. 2 vols. London: Richard Bentley, 1891.


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