William Robert Hicks
On plaster base
“With native intellect and polish'd mind / Keen to perceive and in perception kind; / With store of humour and with matchless power / To make e'en dulness pass a joyous hour / With social magic to make pride unbend, / The foe of selfishness, the firmest friend.” (ink on paper on base)
The humourist William Robert Hicks was born on 1 April 1808 at Bodmin, Cornwall, the son of the schoolmaster William Hicks and his wife Sarah. The younger Hicks kept a boarding school for boys from 1832 to 1840 in Bodmin and became proficient at mathematics. In 1840 he was appointed domestic superintendent of the Cornwall mental asylum, where he instituted more humane modern treatment. He served as mayor of Bodmin in 1865 and 1866. An especially witty speaker, Hicks was a popular story teller and became known as the ‘Yorick of the West.’ Many of his narratives were in the Cornish dialect. Among his most famous stories were ‘The Coach Wheel,’ ‘The Blind man, his Wife, and his Dog Lion,’ ‘Dead March in Saul’ and ‘The Jury.’Hicks resigned from the Cornwall asylum in 1860 and retired to his house at Westheath, Bodmin. He died on 5 September 1868 and was buried in the local cemetery. He had been elected to the Garrick Club in 1860, and remained a member until his death.
The DNB, which does not list this sculpture, records only three other likenesses: a lithographed caricature, an etching and a reproduction of a portrait taken from his memoir, published 1888.