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THOMAS BEWICK AND HIS PUPILS 



" He would often professe that to observe the grasse, 
herbs, corne, trees, cattle, earth, waters, heavens, any of 
the Creatures, and to contemplate their Natures, orders, 
qualities, vertues, uses, etc., was ever to him the greatest 
mirth, content, and recreation that could be : and this 
he held to his dying day." 

Life and Death of Bishop Andrewes, 1650. 







. \ . . 



I • 



■J7 :■- 



THOMAS BEWICK 



AND HIS PUPILS 



AUSTIN DOBSON 



WITH NINETY-FIVE ILL USTRA TIONS 



LONDON 
CHATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY 



TO 

W. J. LINTON, 

EfJGKAVER AND POET, 
THE STEADFAST APOSTLE OF BEWICK'S " WHITE LINE," 

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED. 



■- 



PREFACE 



Except to explain its appearance, there is little 
need of preface to the present volume. It is, for 
the most part, a reprint of two articles on Bewick 
and his pupils, prepared in 1881-82 for the New 
York " Century Magazine." That on Bewick, 
when illustrated, was found to be too long for 
publication in one number. An entire section 
devoted to John Bewick was consequently omitted, 
and other retrenchments were effected. In this 
reissue, the portions withdrawn are restored ; and 
such corrections and additions as a writer usually 
makes in llie case of a paper republished some time 
after it was written, have been inserted. The 
account of the Pupils, which, when first printed, 
was not abridged, has not now been materially 
altered. In both cases it would obviously have 



viii PREFACE. 



been easy to further extend and amplify. But 
though something might have been gained in 
substance, more would have been lost in symmetry, 
while the general result would remain unchanged. 
To have written too little on a subject, moreover, 
is scarcely a fault, — nay, in this particular instance 
it may almost be claimed as a merit. Few men 
have suffered as much as Tlvomas Bewick from 
that kind of admiration in which enthusiasm plays 
a far larger part than judgment. Over most 
of his earlier work, and over all his inferior work, 
Oblivion, without accusation of blindness, might 
advantageously " scatter Iter poppy ;" and the plain- 
spoken philosopher of Gateshead, who /tad no desire 
" to feed the whimsies of the bibliomanists," would 
have Jieartily concurred in any such arrange- 
ment. What is most durable in Bewick, as it 
appears to those who prize him judiciously, is Bewick 
himself — always provided that Bewick himself is 
attainable? Since he first restored it in England 
a hundred years ago, the art of wood -engraving 
has considerably progressed. As an Engraver 
pure and simple, many, including some of his pupils, 



have rivalled him in mechanical dexterity of line 

and mere manipulative skill. But as an Artist 

and Naturalist, copying Nature with that loving 

awe which fears to do her wrong by the slightest 

deviation from the truth, — as a Humourist and 

Satirist, criticising life with the clear vision of 

independent common sense, — his gifts are distinctly 

" non-transferable." They are at their best in his 

best work ; and it is on his best work that I have 

most willingly lingered in these pages, frankly 

neglecting his less individual efforts. In the words 

of Chaucer's Man of Law — 

" Me list not of the da/ tie of the stre 
Maktn so long a tale, as of the corn." 

It remains for me to put on record what 
obligations I have incurred in my task. To tlte 
Editors of the " Century Magazine" who, under 
great difficulties, spared no pains to illustrate my 
text effectively, my first and best thanks are due. 
To my friend Mr. J. W. Barnes of Durham, 
who has throughout aided and encouraged me 
in the kindest way, I cannot but feel espe- 
cially indebted. To Messrs. E. and J. W. Ford 



PREFACE. 



of Enfield, to Mr. T. W. U. Robinson of 
Houghton-le-Spring, to Mr. G. P. Boyce, to Mr. 
Frederick Locker, Mr. F. Hargrave Hamel, and 
Mr. J. Waddon Martyn I am grateful for 
valuable assistance ; as also to Messrs. Harper of 
New York, Messrs. Cassell & Co., and Messrs. 
Griffith and Farran, by whose courtesy I have 
been able to increase the number of my illustra- 
tions. Lastly, to my English publisher, Mr. 
Andrew Chat to, who, though my investigations 
have taught me to differ in some trifling details 
from the too-little recognised labours of his father, 
nevertheless placed his father s notes at my dis- 
posal ; and to Mr. Robert Robinson of Newcastle, 
who, having himself a long-desired book on Bewick 
in preparation, did not on that account regard me 
as a wolf in sheep's clothing, I hereby tender my 
sincere acknowledgments. 

AUSTIN DOB SON. 

Porth-y-FeIi?i, Ealing, IV. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. 



Introductory 



Bewick's Boyhood 



Apprenticeship 



" Wanderjahre " 



CHAPTER 


II. 


CHAPTER 


III. 


CHAPTER 


IV. 



CHAPTER V. 
"Gay's Fables," "Select Fables" . 50 



CHAPTER VI. 



John Bewick 



XII 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VII. 



" Quadrupeds," " Birds n 



PAGE 
87 



CHAPTER VIII. 



The Tailpieces 



• • 



108 



CHAPTER IX. 



" ^sop's Fables," Bewick's Death 



• • 



133 



CHAPTER X. 



Charlton Nesbit . 



• • 



171 



CHAPTER XL 



Luke Clennell 



• • • 



186 



CHAPTER XII. 



Harvey, Jackson, etc. ...... 206 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

THOMAS Bewick. After portrait by James Ramsay Frontispiece 
Sir Bevis of Hampton. From a Newcastle chap-book 

of 1690 3 

Cherryburn House. From a Photograph . To face 9 

Queen Elizabeth. From a Chap-book printed by John 

White of Newcastle 15 

Ovingham PARSONAGE. From a Photograph . To face 25 

St. Nicholas's Church. From Hutton's "Mensuration," 

1770 30 

Tailpiece. From Ferguson's " Poems," 1814 . . 38 

Tailpiece. From Ferguson's " Poems," 1814 . . .49 
The Hound and the Huntsman. From " Gay's Fables," 

'779 S3 

The Fox and the Goat. From Sebastian le Clerc 61 

The Viper and the File. From Croxall's " Fables," 1 722 62 
THE Viper and the File. From "Select Fables," 1784 . 63 
The Young Man and the Swallow. From "Croxall's 

Fables," 1722 64 



*~\ 



u<> LIST OF ILL USTRA TIOXS. 

'tHt, Y'*:w, Ma* a%V THE Swaulow. From *-Sdea 

f *bfct/ #7^4 6 5 

'% Ht KMX* *%U THlt CROW, From ** Select Fables," 17S4 67 
'tMt*>iM.K Vr*m F«rguf<Mi's "Poems,*" 1814 . 69 

Jk/y#*# M'Xyfv A*f> Mah> Maria*. From Ritson's " Robin 

HwV 17^5 73 

flrf//fc*tf ff/yyjy a#I> Little John. From Ritson's .*' Robin 

IU*A," %T)$ 74 

'fHIr, tmtH W ROBIN HOOD. From Ritson's " Robin 

liw&» 1795 76 

'ftffc KwewMMafSE OF Virtue. From the "Blossoms of 

MitfzUty" 1796 77 

THE HfcRMJT, From " Poems by Goldsmith and Parnell," 

179$ To face 79 

)IUmn IU#*h snu Ll'ITLK John. From Ritson's "Robin 

Hood," fj*j$ 79 

fHMWU. hiU.HK From ft block by John Bewick, source 

HhUhtiHh ......... 81 

IttUt- Ahimonv, From the " Looking - Glass for the 

MiimI, ifiji 82 

I <H- h\li I li^'MiKiAN. From " Poems by Goldsmith and 

hin»<ll/' r/*ji To face 83 

l.iniMiiMA AHM Anoi.|<MDh. From the *• Looking-Glass for 

Hi». Miml," r/tji 85 

I Aiii-iM »' I'MHti Kiibnn'n •• Kohin Hood," 1795 86 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



The Chillingham Wild Bull. Reduced from the block 

of 1 789 To face 89 

The Ounce. From the " Quadrupeds," 1 790 . .92 

The Old English Hound. From the "Quadrupeds," 1790 95 
The Common Boar. From the '■ Quadrupeds," 1 7go . 96 
The Starlinc. From the " Land Birds," 1797 97 

The Yellow Hammer. From the " Land Birds," 1797 . 100 
The Short-eared Owl. From the "Land Birds," 1797 . 101 
The Egret. From the " Water Birds," 1 804 . . 10a 

The Common Snipe. From the "Water Birds," 1804 . 103 
The Tawny Owl. From the " Land Birds," 1797 . . 104 
" Grace before Meat." From the " Water Birds," 1804 107 
A Farmyard. From the " Land Birds," 1797 .111 

Poachers Tracking a Hare in the Snow. From the 

" Land Birds," 1797 ...... 112 

Tailpiece to the "Reindeer." From the "Quadrupeds," 

179' 114 

Tailpiece to the "Woodchat." From the "Land 

Birds," 1797 115 

Tailpiece TO " Common Cart-Horse." From the "Quad- 
rupeds," 1791 116 

Tailpiece to the " Jay." From the " Land Birds," 1 797 1 1 7 
Kite-Flying. From the "Water Birds," 1804 .118 

Tailpiece to the " Curlew." From the " Water Birds," 

1804 119 



xvi LIST OF ILL USTRA TIONS. 

Tailpiece to the "Baboon." From the "Quadrupeds,' 

'79' 

Tailpiece to the " Watercrake." From the " Wate; 

Birds," t8°4 

Tailpiece to the " Missel Thrush." From the " Land 

Birds," 1797 

Tailpiece to the "Shetland Sheep." From ti 

"Quadrupeds," 1791 ..... 

Tailpiece to the "Arctic Gull." From the •' Wat 

Birds," 1804 ....... 

Bewick Drinking out of his Hat. From the "Land 

Birds," 1797 

Tailpiece to the "Red-legged Crow." From the 

"Land Birds," 1797 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



St. Nicholas's Church. After Robert Johnson . 176 

THE Call TO VIGILANCE. From Ackermann's " Religious 

Emblems;" 1809 To face 178 

The Daughters of Jerusalem. From Ackermann's 

" Religious Emblems," 1809 . . To /ace 180 

In the Stocks. From Butler's " Hudibras," 181 1 . . 183 
THE Self-Important. From Northcote's "Fables," 1828 1S4 
The Cock, the Doc, and the Fox. From Northcote's 

"Fables," 1833 185 

Ship in A Gale. From Falconer's "Shipwreck," 1 808. To face 189 
Diploma of the Highland Society. After Clcnnell's cut 19T 
Headpiece after Stothard. From Rogers's " Pleasures 

of Memory," 1810 ....... 192 

Headpiece to Ci.ennell's Verses, From the original 

leaflet ......... 203 

Part of Havdon's " Dentatus." From Harvey's engrav- 
ing, 1821 To face 207 

Initial Letters. From Henderson's "History of Wines," 

1824 208 

Headpiece. From Henderson's " History of Wines," 

1824 To face 208 

THE EGRET. From a Drawing by Harvey . . 209 

THE Jaguar. From the "Tower Menagerie," 1828 . . 210 
Maaroof Bidding Farewell to his Wife From the 

"Thousand and One Nights," 1840 . . To face 211 



XV111 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAGE 



The Great Eagle Owl. From the " Gardens and Men- 
agerie of the Zoological Society," i 83 i . . .212 

Gardens on the River of El-Ubulleh. From the 

"Thousand and One Nights," 1840 . . To face 213 

Party Quarrels. From Northcote's "Fables," 1833 . 213 

The Second Sheykh Receiving his Poor Brother. 

From the "Thousand and One Nights," 1840 To face 215 

The Fox, the Weasel, and the Rabbit. From North- 
cote's "Fables," 1828 217 

The Woodcock, after Bewick. From the " Treatise on 

Wood-Engraving," 1839 . . .218 

The Partridge, after Bewick. From the " Treatise on 

Wood-Engraving," 1839 . . . .219 

The Vain Butterfly. From Northcote's "Fables," 1833 22 ° 

Seed Sown. From Ackermann's " Religious Emblems," 

1809 ....... To face 221 

Tailpiece. From Northcote's "Fables," 1828 . 222 

Common Duck. From the "Three Hundred Animals," 

1 8 1 9 ......... 227 

Tailpiece. From Northcote's "Fables," 1828 . 228 



U\ The above illustrations are from (i) copies on the wood, (2) copies by process, and 
(3) electrotypes from the original blocks. The majority have appeared in the 
"Century Magazine" and Chat to' s " Treatise on Wood-Engraving" The 
photographs used were taken, under the author's superintendence, by Messrs. 
Downey 0/ Newcastle.} 



THOMAS BEWICK & HIS PUPILS. 



CHAPTER I. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

During the earlier part of the eighteenth century 
engraving on wood can scarcely be said to have 
flourished in England. It existed — so much may 
be admitted — but it existed without recognition 
or importance. In the useful little " Etat des 
Arts en Angleterre," published in 1 755 by Rouquet 
the enameller, — a treatise so catholic in its scope 
that it includes both cookery and medicine, — there 
is no reference to the art of wood-engraving. In 
the "Artist's Assistant," to take another book 
which might be expected to afford some informa- 
tion, even in the fifth edition of 1 788, the subject 
finds no record, although engraving on metal, 



* THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

etching, mezzotinto- scraping — to say nothing of 
"■ painting on silks, sattins, etc." — are treated with 
sufficient detail. Turning from these authorities 
to the actual woodcuts of the period, it must be 
confessed that the survey is not encouraging. 
With the almost soli tar)' exception of the illustra- 
tions in Croxall's " Fables of ^Esop," to which we 
shall hereafter revert, the " wooden engravings " 
which decorate lx>oks are of the most " stale, flat, 
and unprofitable " description. The majority con- 
sist of tasteless emblematical ornaments and 
"culs-de-lampe," or coarse headpieces, such as 
that which Hogarth is said to have designed in 
1747 for the "Jacobite's Journal" of Fielding. 
Among efforts on a larger scale, the only examples 
which deserve mention are the last two plates of 
the same artist's " Four Stages of Cruelty," en- 
graved by J. Bell in 1750. These, drawn boldly 
on the plank by Hogarth himself, and cut with the 
knife in rough effective facsimile, deserve to be 
better known, as, besides variations, they possess 
an initial vigour of execution which is lost in the 
subsequent coppers. It was with a view to bring 



i.] INTRODUCTORY. 3 

the lesson of his sombre designs within the range 
of the poorest classes that Hogarth had in this 
case selected wood ; but the method was judged 
upon trial to be more expensive than metal. Such 




as it was, nevertheless, the real field of wood- 
engraving during the greater part of the eighteenth 
century lay among those humbler patrons of art 
and literature to whom he desired to appeal. It 
was to be found in the rude prints and broad- 



4 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

sides then to be seen displayed in every farm and 
cottage — patriotic records of victories by sea and 
land, portraits of persons famous or notorious, 

" — ballads, pasted on the wall, 
Of Chevy Chace, and English Moll, 
Fair Rosamond, and Robin Hood, 
The little Children in the Wood.'' 

Homely mural decorations of this kind, familiar 
to Swift in the first years of the century, were, sixty 
years later, equally familiar to Goldsmith ; and it 
was, doubtless, from some such gallery that honest 
Farmer Flamborough or the "blind piper" de- 
lighted the simple audience at Dr. Primrose's with 
"Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night, " or the 
"Cruelty of Barbara Allen." But the execution 
of these modest masterpieces was obviously of the 
most cheap and rudimentary kind, so that, taking 
the woodcut art of the period as a whole, it was 
not without some show of justice that Horace 
Walpole, preoccupied with the more delicate 
effects of chalcography, stigmatised the wood- 
blocks of his clay as " slovenly stamps." 

He was scarcely so fortunate, however, when, 
writing in the same place of Papillon's recently 



I.] INTRODUCTORY. 5 

published " Traite historique et pratique de la 
Gravure en Bois," he went on to doubt if that 
author would ever, as he wished, "persuade the 
world to return to wooden cuts." No time, as it 
chanced, could have been worse chosen for such 
a prediction, since, — assuming him to have written 
about 1 770, — in the short space of five years later, 
the " Society of Arts " was offering prizes for en- 
graving in wood, and its list for 1775 contains 
the names of no less than three persons who 
received sums of money on this account. The 
names were those of Thomas Hodgson, William 
Coleman, and Thomas Bewick. With respect to 
the first of the trio little needs to be said beyond 
the fact that he was a Newcastle man, whose sig- 
nature is found attached to a plate in Hawkins's 
" History of Music," as well as to certain poorly 
executed cuts for magazines and ballad-heads, and 
that he was also a printer and publisher in London. 
Concerning the second, we learn from the "Trans- 
actions" of the Society that he again obtained 
prizes in 1776 and 1777 for "engraving on wood 
or type metal," and from Redgrave's " Dictionary" 




'. THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

th;a he died at I take's Court, Bow Street, Decern- 
\rA\ i^i>;. lo the third belongs the honour of 
ii.ii.- v'th.ti fastidious Mr. Walpole considered so 
\n. L ,i<A*<x\A<j. that is to say, "persuading the world," 
u«-t «Jl .it once perhaps, but gradually, "to return 
lo ,\ooden cuts." It is to the improvements made 
L, Bewick in wood-engraving, and the impulse 
whit J i it received from his individual ^enius> that 
its revival as an art must properly be ascribed — a 
revival which continues to this day, and which 
has nut yet reached the final phase of its develop- 
ment. But, besides his qualities as a pioneer in 
his craft, he was an artist and observer of a verv 
ran: and exceptional kind, whose best work, in 
his own line, remains unrivalled. Moreover, he 
was a man of a singularly attractive northern type, 
having something both of Hogarth and Franklin 
in his character, and deserving study as much 
from his personality as from his talents. 

The true record of Bewick's life, like that of 
most artists, is to be found in his works, which 
have been voluminously catalogued in Mr. Hugo's 
"Bewick Collector," 1866-68, and more moder- 



I.] INTRODUCTORY. 7 

ately by Mr. J. G. Bell in 1851. Beyond these, 
the chief written sources of information respecting 
his career are three in number. The earliest, or 
rather the first issued, is a brief memoir contri- 
buted in 1 83 1 to the " Transactions of the Natural 
History Society of Northumberland, etc.," by Mr. 
George C. Atkinson, a gentleman of Newcastle, 
who knew him during the last three years of his 
life. Next to this comes chapter vii. in Chatto's 
" Treatise on Wood -Engraving," the first edition 
of which was published by Charles Knight in 
1839. John Jackson, the engraver, who supplied 
part of the raw material for this book, was a 
native of Ovingham, near Newcastle, and for a 
short time one of Bewick's pupils. He completed 
his apprenticeship under another pupil, William 
Harvey. With some reservations, this account 
contains many noteworthy biographical particulars, 
together with an examination of Bewick's tech- 
nique. Lastly, there is the memoir composed 
by Bewick himself at Tynemouth in November 
1822 for his eldest daughter Jane, and published 
by her forty years afterwards. This, like the 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[CHAP. [. 



I autobiographical notes of Hogarth which John 
Ireland gave to the world, is of the greatest im- 
portance, and to Bewick's admirers must always 
constitute the standard authority for the points it 
covers. Written with a garrulity easily pardon- 
able in an author who had almost reached his 
seventieth year, but nevertheless strangely reti- 
I cent regarding his method and his work, it pre- 
I sents a vivid impression of his character and 
I opinions, and a delightful picture of his youth. 

Parentage and early surroundings, according 
I to Carlyle, are the two great factors in determin- 



CHAPTER 11. 



BEWICK S BOYHOOD. 



Cherryburn House, Bewick's birthplace, lay upon 
the south or right bank of the Tyne, in the parish 
of Ovingham, Northumberland, and not very far 
from the little village or hamlet of Eltringham. 
We say " lay," for the old cottage now only exists 
in part, and that part fulfils the homely office of 
a " byre " or cowshed, over one door of which 
is the inscription — " Thomas Bewick born here, 
August 1753." In the vicinity of this now rises 
a larger dwelling, still inhabited by Bewick's 
grandnieces. What remains of the older house 
formed the central portion of the building shown 
in John Bewick's sketch of 1781, printed as a 
frontispiece to the " Memoir." Beyond the fact 
that the "byre" is still thatched with ling or 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[chap. 



I heath, and was tenanted, when the writer visited 
I it, by a couple of calm-eyed, comfortable-look- 
I ing cows, there is nothing about it that calls for 
] especial remark. But the little dean or orchard 
I at the back is still filled with cherry and plum 
I trees, and violets and primroses bloom as of yore 
I beside the now dry bed of the once musical burn 
I which gave the place its name. In Bewick's day 
I there was in this orchard a spring-well under a 
I hawthorn bush, the site of which may yet be 
I traced ; while a precipitous little garden to the 
I north presumably remains much as it used to be. 



II.] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD, n 

Prudhoe and Wylam ; and across the river, also 
to the right, rises the square romanesque tower of 
Ovingham Church, where Bewick and his brother 
John lie buried, and in the parsonage of which — 
a pretty old-fashioned stone house with shelving 
garden terraces — they went successively to school. 
A railway now comes winding from Newcastle 
through the Prudhoe meadows, and an embank- 
ment runs along the Tyne to Eltringham. But, 
in spite of these drawbacks, and the smoky activ- 
ity of brickworks and collieries hard by, it is not 
impossible, on a fresh May morning, with a blue 
shower-washed sky overhead, and the young green 
triumphing in the shaws and braes, to realise 
something of the landscape as it must have looked 
more than a hundred years ago, when Thomas 
Bewick first saw the light. 

His father, John Bewick, was a farmer, who 
rented a small land-sale colliery {i.e., a colliery, the 
coals of which are sold upon the spot to persons 
in the neighbourhood) at Mickley. It is still 
worked and held by the present occupants of 
Cherryburn. His mother, whose maiden name 



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ii.] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD. 13 

his father and schoolmaster. Now he is taming 
a runaway horse by riding it barebacked over 
the sykes and burns ; now frightening oxen into 
the river for the pleasure of hearing the "delight- 
ful dash ; " now scampering off naked across the 
fell with his companions, in imitation of the 
savages in " Robinson Crusoe." After these mis- 
demeanours, if not locked into the belfry by Mr. 
Gregson to keep company with the ghosts and 
bogles, he would steal home, wading the river, 
and hide himself in the byre-loft until his father's 
anger should blow over. But, with all this, he 
was not in any wise bad or vicious. He was 
truthful and warmhearted, and an appeal to his 
better feelings was seldom without success. One 
good quality he also seems to have possessed, 
not often found in boys. After a gentle re- 
proof from his master's daughter, he never again 
"plagued" girls in his youth ; and he preserved 
this early respect for women to the last day of 
his life. 

Such not by any means exceptional character- 
istics are, however, of less moment than those 



1 4 THOMAS BE IVICIL [cha?. 

earlier indications of the tastes which so strongly 
coloured his after-life — his love for drawing 
and his love of nature. The former appears 
to have been intuitive. Like Hogarth's, his 
" exercises when at school were more remarkable 
for the ornaments which adorned them, than for 
the exercise itself/' After exhausting the margins 
of hi* books, he had recourse to the gravestones 
and the floor of the church porch, which he covered 
with rude representations in chalk of devices or 
ftcene* he had met with, and the pastime of the 
day at Ovingham was continued in the evening 
<m the flag* and hearth at Cherryburn. At this 
time, he nays, " I had never heard of the word 
'drawing/ nor did I know of any other paintings 
he<»ide<t the king's arms in the church, and the 
fti#n<* in Ovingham of the Black Bull, the White 
Mow, the Salmon, and the Hounds and Hare. 
I jilw;iya thought 1 could make a far better hunting 
wn<* than the latter: the others were beyond my 
ImimI," Hut although, oddly enough, he makes 
no mention of it at this stage of the "Memoir," 
iIh-M' w,m another kind of art with which he must 



ii.] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD. 15 

have been minutely acquainted. The house at 
Ovingham where the boys kept their "dinner- 
poke " during school hours was lavishly orna- 




mented with those patriotic prints and broad- 
sides to which reference has already been made. 
Here he might lay to heart the " large and 
curious " representation of "His Majesty's Execu- 



///tM/^S :'U.tk/C\ % 



[CHAP. 



A I 



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. J ' 



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5i n * uniou* t'wdve GooU 

•• ••* Uiitly . >i K: no Charles- the 

il •"*••> v >r lie migju devote 

ii>iiii ..j '.iniiuoHf, 1 ' ami the 

^ ,iU "> lAiiiiiitdl Sir John 

i"-< »^%i liK- luinU present- 

4 " : J* 1 "* I>U)wn, the valiant 

ll4 - *i i- u»t i IK* only ooilec- 

* ». - ,ji j : .'UUvu WiiN i remark- 

• J * i|»i.iiii v. .Ht-itn,' .he brave 

'•' ■»" ,l " ll,,t, i lUi^uni) !iaiiiieii ; ami 

• i »»^» m \\\ u: u> k; ><eu ciie 

, ' |,,t Y ,M • U1 l i*i* K;.a\ ^»t N'lanhoovL 
*'" M *' !*•»■• -Uivim^ a i Mark,' "Tile 
• •■■ »-■'»»» -nitl ilv like. I Itcsc yo^ular 
■ .i |.ii.Lii»i.... * nirauU«is\l iu connection wiih 



J * J. ■!■■•- 'i iiii.. |iti^ul.n tiv.u» i* now iwgoctea . but :«>cay he 

- • ■■ ■ * '»*.«-«l iWc \iiiuiui Cu».v>. In 1743. ar.*".wd:r*j{ to 

r .' < ' • !"#■ . -Ji.- M.tj;.uUir, lie wai a raw-boiml young York 

*->! 1 ■ - - - ■■! 'J i ^l-« **i**l lucuiy, m»t a grenadier, but ;i pmair in 

iil ..'.'. '. ■..■..',■';!->. .U lJctlili^cil he rcca|>tU»r«| lh«- :>UimUmI 

siii^:« -i ...: :'.\«j ii, •»- J.it 1a exploit he received livv «M*umU in the 
faa ia.^J .:i:C j.ci-k. iv.u halls in the back, and Once through bin 
hu f . J'"/itjid ci-^jd^td a |ioi trait of him. 



iL] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD. 17 

the future restorer of wood-engraving, are of 
greater significance than the ale-house signs. 1 

After he had long scorched his face with his 
hearthstone designs a friend in compassion fur- 
nished him with some drawing paper. 

" Here (he says) I had more scope. Pen and 
ink, and the juice of the brambleberry, made a 
grand change. These were succeeded by a camel- 
hair pencil and shells of colours ; and, thus sup- 
plied, 1 became completely set up; but of patterns, 
or drawings, I had none. The beasts and birds, 
which enlivened the beautiful scenery of woods 
and wilds surrounding my native hamlet, furnished 
me with an endless supply of subjects. 1 now, in 

1 Bewick was not singular in deriving inspiration from these 
humble sources. " I recollect Sir Joshua Reynolds, — who was 
present one evening [at Longford's sale] when a drawing was 
knocked down to his pupil and agent, Mr. Score, — after he had 
expatiated upon the extraordinary powers of Rembrandt, assuring 
a gentleman with whom he was conversing, that the effect which 
pleased him most in all his own pictures was that displayed in 
the one of Lord Ligonier on horseback, of which there is an 
engraving by Fisher, the chiaro-'scuro of which he conceived 
from a rude woodcut upon a halfpenny ballad, which he pur- 
chased from the wall of St. Anne's Church in Princes-Street" — 
" Nollekens and his Times," 1838, i. 36, 37. 



1 . 



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.!. in Ullaiv :. wluji hi \\iuti;r 
...i I i['[T.namo in llu iro/cn 



ii.] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD. 19 

filled him with delight. To milk the cows, to cut 
and "cree" whin-tops for the horses, to carry 
straw and oats to the shivering and pastureless 
sheep on the fell — these were pleasures not to be 
forgotten, and only to be excelled by his favourite 
angling, which, with its endless " set gads " and 
night lines, its early risings, and late waterside 
wadings, occupied the summer months in happy 
cares. Then, when the Tyne was flooded and 
school a thing impossible, 1 there were the field 
sports of the neighbourhood, the "flushing" of 
strange fowl by the terriers, the hunting of the 
hare and fox, the tracing of the " foumart " (pole- 
cat) in the snow, or the baiting of the badger at 
midnight. The cruelty of field sports did not at 
first present itself to him. Once, however, he 
caught a hunted hare in his arms, and was 

1 " During storms and floods, those living on the south side 
of the river can neither attend the church, nor, as it sometimes 
happens, bring their dead to be buried " (Mackenzie's " North- 
umberland," 1825,11.362). In the last tailpiece of the "Memoir" 
a boat is seen waiting at the Eltringham Ferry on a. windy day 
for a coffin which is being borne down the hill from Cherryburn. 
The little pencil sketch which Bewick made for this tailpiece is 
It belongs to Mr. J. W. Barnes of Durham. 



. . i , (■ lii ';>,.... -..:inc:i. I l;iU 

i|,. n lii.»w it. ii.niw. '■«! I w,i» t'->iu i I whs a 
i. ,| MIL' w M.u-liii." I In.. ».i. tin: List I'irtl 
,. | l,ii ■iiim.iuiki-.l.h.iii- U-.-H -.1111 1- Lillnl 



r 

ftllft 



::. k.i.-l l>ul ..'iiiuM'.l .«■• .«•*■!> 
A , ,, hr. Mil- i.M in. .Hkl 

i-. L-..-3 ... '.uiu«.i .i !iu:u;nxi 



II.] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD. 21 

years ago than now, when railways and other 
facilities for intercourse have done so much 
to round off the angles of individuality. The 
winter-night tales of wild exploits in the hunting- 
field, and legends of the Border Wars, were a 
never-failing source of pleasure. By the woful 
" laments," such as those for the last Earl of 
Derwentwater, with whose death it was supposed 
prosperity had for ever departed from Tyne- 
side, he was often affected to tears. Of some of 
the cottagers on the fell — poor men whose little 
store consisted of a few sheep, a Kyloe cow, or 
a flock of geese, and whose sole learning was 
derived from Holy Writ, old ballads, and local 
histories — he has left portraits which show how 
deeply they had impressed him. One of these was 
Will Bewick, a self-taught astronomer, skilled in 
stars and planets, upon which he would discourse, 
" pointing to them with his large hands, and 
eagerly imparting his knowledge . . . with a 
strong voice, such as one now seldom hears." 
Another was the " village Hampden," Anthony 
Liddell, who had formed himself entirely on the 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[CHAf 



study of the Bible, finding in its precepts reasons 
for utter disregard of the game-laws, and exulting 
in the jail, to which he was frequently committed, 
since he gained the opportunity of reading it 
through once more. Liddell's ordinary appear- 
ance — judging from the description of it in the 
" Memoir"- — must have been almost as remark- 
able as that of Fielding's " Man of the Hill " : — 

"When full -dressed, he wore a rusty black 
coat In other respects he was like no other 
person. In what king's reign his hat had been 
made was only to be guessed at, but the flipes 



ii.] BEWICK'S BOYHOOD. 23 

cause, often afforded them so much amusement that 
it was difficult for them to keep their gravity." 

A third Ovingham worthy was Thomas 
Forster, called familiarly "Tom Howdy" (mid- 
wife) from his mother's occupation, with his stock 
of secret beehives in the whin bushes ; and last, 
but by no means least, come the swarming old 
soldiers let loose upon the country at the conclu- 
sion of the "Seven Years' War" — old comrades 
in Napier's and Kingsley's, full of memories of 
Minden and Lord George Sackville — of James 
Wolfe and Quebec. Bewick's strong abhorrence 
of war, which appears so plainly in the later pages 
of the " Memoir," had not yet been developed, and 
he listened eagerly to these weatherbeaten cam- 
paigners, with their tarnished uniforms and their 
endless stories about their prowess in the field. 

But there comes an end to everything; and 
the ineluctabile tentpus arrived at length when a 
calling must be chosen for the stout boy of four- 
teen. His taste for drawing determined his 
apprenticeship to a Newcastle engraver, and he 
quitted Cherryburn to serve his time with Mr. 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[CHAP. II. 



Ralph Beilby of that town'. The pang of separa- 
| tion was a grievous one. 

" I liked my master" (he says) ; " I liked the busi- 
I ness ; but to part from the country, and to leave all 
I its beauties behind me, with which I had been all my 
I life charmed in an extreme degree,- — -and in a way I 
I cannot describe, — I can only say my heart was like 

to break ; and, as we passed away, I inwardly bade 
I farewell to the whinny wilds, to Mickley bank, to 
I the Stob-cross hill, to the water-banks, the woods, 
I and to particular trees, and even to the large, hoi- 
I low old elm, 1 which had Iain perhaps for centuries 



CHAPTER III. 



APPRENTICESHIP. 



Looking down upon the Tyne from the pleasant 
parsonage garden at Ovingham, with the round- 
arched door and dial, and the bright flowerbeds 
in shadow, it is easy to understand how keenly 
the boy must have felt the change. Over the 
broken water at the ferry the swallows are wheel- 
ing and turning, while from the other side a rustic 
group hails the ferryman. Higher up, a man, 
with raised knees, rides his horse through the 
river at the ford ; a pony and cart come after. 
Below the ferry an angler is wading mid-deep : 
on the opposite bank another is throwing a fly. 
At his back two tiny figures of school -children 
climb the steep hill to Master's Close. From the 
tall trees at Eltringham on the right coines the 



<-■-■. 



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in.] APPRENTICESHIP. 27 

where dwelt its merchant princes. 1 The red-brick 
shop of Bewick's new master stood near Amen 
Corner, and looked into St. Nicholas's Church- 
yard. It was distinguishable by two fantastic 
wooden spouts, and existed until very lately ; but 
a towering building in the modern taste now occu- 
pies its site. Bewick boarded with Mr. Beilby, 
and, after the fashion of those days, attended him 
to divine service twice every Sunday (probably 
carrying the prayer-book), 8 groomed his brother's 
horse, and made himself generally useful, not 

1 Some of these expressions are borrowed from a pleasantly- 
written little pamphlet by Mr. Robert Robinson, of Pilgrim Street, 
issued in 1876 with his reprint of Bewick's "Waiting for Death." 
- The London apprentices, if we may trust Foote, had some- 
what departed from the "beneficial and cleanly way" of life 
which still prevailed in the provinces : — ■ 

Sir William. . . . What, old boy, times are chang'd since the date 
of thy indentures ; when the sleek, crop-ear'd 'prentice us'd to dangle after 
his mistress, with the great gill Bible under his arm, to St. Bride's, on a 
Sunday ; bring home the text, repeat the divisions of the discourse, dine at 
twelve, and regale, upon a gaudy day, with buns and beer at Islington, or 
Mile- End. 

R. Wealthy. Wonderfully facetious ! 

Sir William. Our modern lads are of a different metal. They have 
their gaming clubs in the garden, their Utile lodgings, the snug depositories 
of their rusty swords, and occasional bag-wigs ; their horses for the turf ; 
ay, and (heir commissions of bankruptcy too, before they are well out of 
their time. 

The Minor, 1760, Act i. 



2* THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

omitting, doubtless, to abstain carefully from the 
over-abundant Tyne salmon which (as per indent- 
ure) the apprentice of the period was not obliged 
to eat more than twice a week. 

For some time after entering the business 
he was employed in copying 4 * Copeland's Orna- 
ments" (Copeland's ** New Book of Ornaments/' 
1746, or Lock and Copeland's do., 1752, both of 
which were in possession of his family), and 
*' this," he says, " was the only kind of drawing 
upon which I ever had a lesson given to me from 
any one." So far as the discipline of the hand 
is concerned, the statement is no doubt strictly 
accurate; but that other education of the sight, 
which Hogarth defined as the early habit "of 
retaining in his mind's eye, without coldly copy- 
ing it on the spot, whatever he intended to imi- 
tate," had probably been active for many years 
previously. Beilby's work was of a most multi- 
farious character. Pipe moulds, bottle moulds, 
brass clock-faces, coffin-plates, stamps, seals, bill- 
heads, ciphers and crests for the silversmiths — 
nothing seems to have come amiss ; and the 



in.] APPRENTICESHIP. 29 

coarser kinds of engraving which fell to the share 
of the young apprentice made his hands as hard 
and large as a blacksmith's. According to the 
" Memoir," the first "jobs" on which he was em- 
ployed were etching sword-blades, and blocking 
out the wood about the lines on diagrams (to 
be finished subsequently by his master) for the 
" Ladies' Diary," a popular almanac which dated 
as far back as 1704, and which was edited for 
many years by Charles Hutton, then a Newcastle 
schoolmaster, and later the celebrated Dr. Hutton 
of Woolwich. It was for Hutton also that he did 
what in the catalogues figures as his earliest pro- 
duction, namely the diagrams to a "Treatise on 
Mensuration." This book, which long enjoyed 
a great reputation, made its dibut in fifty six- 
penny numbers (!), and was issued in 1770 as 
a portentous quarto volume. One of the cuts, 
often referred to with exaggerated interest, 
contains a representation of the tower of St. 
Nicholas's Church, afterwards a frequent feature 
in Bewick's designs. Considerable ingenuity ap- 
pears to have been shown by him in the execution 



& 



tbiWjms ^rwyor. 



i CHAP. 



of thcac diagram* and he is said xo have devised 
a aoublc-pcumt^l graver, s^ successful m its oper- 
ation*, that the ranqdexuin of tht work, which had 
been bc^un by lleilhx himself, was transferred to 
him ai Hutiun*. request. AWoux the same time 





i/t: dt=b4gTjrrd and engraved 3 KTJbej*d vsr lie 
Ot^rgr arid Dragon" Inrt ar>3 ^acwedang to 
Mr. AtLin^L i anoii>er for the * CccL ' a f&SK^as 
<mC hoyitdn- at the Ht^rd 03" iht Siirc. Ti>rssc j>er- 
ivrmanoeb- tLougii of tie radesi character, iw 
*2&ttJs*giy jx^ujar : ai>d cxxmm&sskxis lor wwk 



in.] APPRENTICESHIP. 3 ' 

on wood, which had hitherto been little done in 
Beilby's shop, began to multiply. Numerous 
orders for cuts for children's books were received, 
chiefly from Thomas Saint, a printer and publisher 
of Newcastle, who had succeeded John White, 
once famous for his stories and for the old ballads 
which were sung about the streets on market 
days. With exception of the Hutton diagrams, 
the first efforts of Bewick in the way of book- 
illustration would seem to have been the " new 
invented Horn Book " and the " New Lottery 
Book of Birds and Beasts," 1 771. 

Much caution must, however, be exercised in 
speaking of these juvenilia, which seem to have 
been unknown to Mr. Atkinson, and are not 
mentioned in the " Descriptive and Critical Cata- 
logue of Works illustrated by Thomas and John 
Bewick," published by John Gray Bell in 1851. 
Specimens of blocks from both of them are given 
in Mr. Edwin Pearson's reprint of the " Select 
Fables "of 1784. In the same conjectural cate- 
gory must be placed the " Child's Tutor ; or, 
Entertaining Preceptor," 1772, the cuts of which 



32 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 



were said by a well-known Bewick collector, Mr. 
W. Garret, to have been engraved by Bewick " in 
the first year of his apprenticeship, though he 
was afterwards ashamed to own them." Next 
comes the "Moral Instructions of a Father to his 
Son," etc., 1 772, at the end of which was a number 
of " Select Fables," with thirty-three small illus- 
trations, concerning which we have the express 
assurance given by Miss Jane Bewick to Mr. 
Pearson in January 1867, that they were the work 
of her father. Mr. Pearson also gives examples 
of these, which are more interesting than remark- 
able. The only other work to which, for the pre- 
sent, it is needful to refer, is the "Youths In- 
structive and Entertaining Story Teller," pub- 
lished by Saint in 1774. Of this Bewick himself 
speaks in the " Memoir," which places its authen- 
ticity beyond a question. We do not, however, 
propose ' to linger over these elementary efforts. 
They were the tentative essays of an artist who 
neither knew his own strength, nor foresaw the 
resources of the vehicle he was employing ; and 
who, when his talents were matured and his voca- 



in.] APPRENTICESHIP. 33 

tion found, might well be excused if he declined 
to be over-communicative respecting work which 
he had long excelled. Indeed, he excelled it in a 
marked manner before the termination of his 
apprenticeship. Among the wood blocks upon 
which he was busily engaged during the latter 
part of that period were some intended for an 
edition of " Gay's Fables." Of five of these Mr. 
Beilby thought so well that he submitted them to 
the Society of Arts in London, from whom, as 
already stated, they received the recognition of a 
premium of seven guineas, which Bewick at once 
transferred to his mother. 

"Gay's Fables," however, were not published 
until 1779, and long before that date Bewick 
had quitted Mr. Beilby 's shop. During the 
time of his bondage, his character and habits 
became definitely formed. Having fallen into 
ill-health through over-application and the reading 
which was almost his sole amusement, the pre- 
cepts of a sensible Newcastle physician and nota- 
bility, Dr. Bailes, who seems to have been a kind 
of local Abernethy, made him turn his attention 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[chap. 



to questions of diet and exercise. He began to 
study the regimen of the famous Venetian cente- 
narian, Lewis Cornaro, together with the recom- 
mendations as to occasional days of abstinence 
given, but probably not observed, by the great 
Mr. Joseph Addison. 1 He thought nothing, he 
tells us, of setting out, after seven in the evening, 
to walk to Cherryburn, a distance of more than 
eleven miles, to see his parents, for whom he 
maintained the warmest affection, and never failed 
to visit periodically. These long walks, he adds, 
were chiefly occupied by the devising of plans for 

















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c - 


Pp 


1 


1 

4 








i 




•■i*E3p5^JS 


11 


1 




■ 







in.] APPRENTICESHIP, 35 

of Mr. Beilby's house in the churchyard. After 
due time he went to lodge with an aunt, and 
subsequently with a flax-dresser and bird-fancier 
named Hatfield. Here he had an opportunity of 
becoming acquainted with very varied company. 
Those of the trade who visited his landlord in his 
capacity of flax-dresser were a worthless and dis- 
solute race ; but (as might be conjectured) to the 
tales of the bird-catchers and bird-dealers who 
resorted to the house he listened with the greatest 
interest. Among the acquaintances whom he 
made about this time was Thomas Spence, the 
philanthropist, who was already actively promul- 
gating the doctrine, still preached in our own day, 
that property in land is everyone's right ; and at 
" his school on the Quayside " (spelled " Key- 
side"), elaborating his new alphabet and phonetic 
system of orthography. For some of his types 
Bewick cut the steel punches ; but, though he 
believed him to be sincere and honest, he does not 
appear to have unreservedly espoused his prin- 
ciples, and his failure to support them on one 
occasion at a debating society resulted in a bout 



36 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

with the cudgels, in which the philosopher behaved 
so unphilosophically, and even unfairly, that Be- 
wick was obliged to give him "a severe beating." 
. Others of Bewick's associates were better 
chosen, if they could scarcely be regarded as less 
peculiar, than the remarkable author of "The 
Teacher of Common Sense," and " Pigs' Meat ; 
or, Lessons for the People." Foremost of these 
come the Grays, father and sons. The father, 
Gilbert Gray, was a bookbinder, and a thoroughly 
estimable man. He had previously been assistant 
to Allan Ramsay, after that worthy wigmaker had 
left off " theeking the outside of the pash in 
order to line the inside," and was writing the 
" Gentle Shepherd." When Bewick knew Gray 
he was advanced in years, and following his trade 
in Newcastle. He lived in the most primitive 
way, eating when he was hungry, sleeping when 
he was drowsy, and spending his money on the 
publication of little books of the moral and en- 
tertaining class (the " Countryman's Treasure," 
" Multum in Parvo," the " Complete Fabulist," 
etc.), which he sold to the people who attended 



in.] APPRENTICESHIP. 37 

the market on Saturdays. On winter evenings 
his workshop was the resort of a number of young 
men, to whom his advice and example were of 
considerable service. In that of his son, William 
Gray, also a bookbinder, Bewick was enabled to 
consult volumes which would otherwise have been 
sealed to him, and often before his own labours 
had begun for the day he might be found studying 
the treasures his friend had to bind. But the genius 
of the family was George Gray, a fruit-painter of 
considerable local eminence, and a good geolo- 
gist, chemist, and botanist to boot. In this last 
capacity he travelled through great part of North 
America — no common feat in 1787. He is 
described as extremely eccentric, both in his 
dress and habits. Moreover, he was a confirmed 
misogynist, until a serious illness for the moment 
perverted him to the belief that " man is not bom 
to live alone." Whilst under the influence of 
this enervating change in his opinions, he married 
a shoemaker's widow ; but after her death declared 
that all the riches of Mexico and Peru should not 
tempt him to repeat the experiment. George 



38 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. hi. 



Gray was five years younger than Bewick. It 
must, therefore, be assumed that in speaking of 
him at this stage of the " Memoir," Bewick was 
anticipating an acquaintanceship which belongs to 
a somewhat later date. 




TA1LHECE. (I'tOJl 



CHAPTER IV. 



"WANDERJAHRE. 



On the ist of October 1774, the seven years' 
apprenticeship expired ; and Bewick, after work- 
ing for a short time with his old master at a 
guinea a week, returned to Cherryburn, where he 
remained until 1776. He continued to execute 
woodcuts and other commissions, chiefly for 
Thomas Angus, a printer of Newcastle, and 
occupied his leisure, as of old, with angling and 
field-sports, growing more and more attached to 
the country sights and ways. His later recol- 
lections dwell lovingly upon the genial Christmas 
festivities of the gentry and farmers, when the air 
was filled with old tunes, with the cheery notes of 
, the Northumberland small-pipes, 1 with the buzz 

1 A bagpipe, differing from the Scotch, being smaller, and 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



i of the " fouiplcughs " or Morrice-dancers ; and he 
sighs for the days gone by, when home-brewed 

; ale was honest malt and hops. In the summer of 
1776 the spirit of wandering seized upon him, 
and, sewing three guineas in his waistband, he 
made a long pedestrian excursion to Cumberland 
and the lake country, — -thence to Edinburgh 
and Glasgow. Passing up the beautiful valley of 
the Leven from Dumbarton to Loch Lomond, 
he paused to puzzle out the inscription on the 
monument of Smollett, of whose works he was as 

1 great an admirer as Carlyle, and so wandered 



iv.] • wanderjahre: 41 

all night at a house of this kind, in listening to 
the tunes of a young man of the family who 
played well upon the Scottish pipes. I, in turn, 
whistled several Tyneside tunes to him ; so that 
we could hardly get separated. Before my 
departure next day, I contrived by stealth to 
put some money into the hands of the children. 
I had not got far from the house till I was pur- 
sued by a beautiful young woman, who accosted 
me in 'badish' English, which she must have got 
off by heart just before she left the house, the 
purport of which was to urge my acceptance of 
the usual present. This I wished to refuse ; but, 
with a face and neck blushed with scarlet, she 
pressed it upon me with such sweetness — while I 
thought at the same time that she invited me to 
return — that (I could not help it) I seized her, and 
smacked her lips. She then sprang away from 
me, with her bare legs, like a deer, and left me 
fixed to the spot, not knowing what to do. I 
was particularly struck with her whole handsome 
appearance. It was a compound of loveliness, 
health, and agility. Her hair, I think, had been 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



flaxen or light, but was tanned to a pale brown by 
I being exposed to the sun. This was tied behind 
with a ribbon, and dangled down her back ; and, 
j as she bounded along, it flowed in the air. I had 
| not seen her while I was in the house, and felt 
I grieved because I could not hope ever to see her 
I more." 

He left Scotland in a Leith sloop, arriving at 
Newcastle on the 12th of August 1776. The 
passage from Leith to Shields was an exceedingly 
bad one, and it is characteristic of his kindness of 
heart that during the whole of the time, although 



iv.] ' wanderjahre: m 

work at once from Isaac Taylor, the master of 
another Newcastle acquaintance, and also from 
the beforementioned Thomas Hodgson, then a 
printer and publisher in George Court, Clerken- 
well. Mr. Atkinson also says he worked " with 
a person of the name of Cole," of whom, as a 
wood -engraver, Chatto could subsequently find 
no trace. 1 It is possible, however, that this is a 
mistake for Coleman, the Society of Arts prize- 
man, who, as already pointed out, survived until 
1807. Be this as it may, notwithstanding his 
facilities for obtaining employment, Bewick soon 
began to weary for St. Nicholas's steeple and 
" Canny Newcassel." London had few charms 
for him, — it was too huge, too gloomy, too full of 
extremes of wealth and poverty. With many of 
his fellow- workmen he was out of sympathy ; they 
called him "Scotchman," and he despised them 
as cockneys. The result was, that in spite of the 

1 Redgrave, however, mentions two engravers on copper of 
this name. One of them — 6. Cole — executed most of the large 
plates for Maitland's "London," and copied for the "Grand 
Magazine of Magazines," 1759, the curious frontispiece designed 
by Pope himself to the "Essay on Man." 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[chap. 



remonstrances of his principal patrons, he resolved 
to return to his northern home, not so much — 
as Mackenzie in his "History" would have us 
believe — because he was "disgusted with the 
vanity, arrogance, and selfishness of the wood 
engravers in the proud Metropolis," since those 
objectionable qualities are not confined to any 
class or town, but because he was hungering for 
his "fitting environment" — the Tyne-side, the old 
folks at Cherryburn, and the simple country plea- 
sures that he loved. He told a friend that he 
would rather enlist than be tied to live in London ; 



iv.] 'wanderjahre: 45 

remain in London, although for doing so I was to 
be made the Premier of England." 

Thus, after brief trial, ended Bewick's Wander- 
jahre. He returned to Newcastle, taking up his 
abode as before at Hatfield's, and accepting such 
engraving, either on wood, silver, or copper, as 
came in his way. He had not been long at 
work on his own account, when propositions were 
made to him to enter into partnership with his old 
master, Mr. Beilby. This, by the intermediation 
of a friend, was brought about, though not without 
some misgivings on Bewick's part. He took his 
brother John, then a lad of seventeen, as his 
apprentice, and the old weekly visits to Cherry- 
burn were resumed in company. For eight years 
these were continued in all weathers, winter and 
summer, fair and foul. Often he had to wade a 
pool at the outset, and sometimes the river at the 
end. But by this time his constitution was so 
hardened by temperance and exercise that neither 
heat nor cold had much effect on him. And the 
severities of the winter were amply compensated 
by the delights of the other seasons when the 



\ 



46 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

valley of the Tyne put on all its beauties, and 
he could watch die succession of plants and wild 
flowers, and the flight of birds and insects. Then 
again, at this period he had the fullest enjoyment 
of his sole diversion — fishing, to the praise of 
which he has devoted one of his happiest and 
most enthusiastic pages : 

'• Well do I remember mounting the stile 
which gave the first peep of the curling or rapid 
Stream, over the intervening, dewy, daisy-covered 
holme — boundered by the early sloe, and the haw- 
thorn-blossomed hedge — and hung in succession 
with festoons of the wild rose, the tangling wood- 
bine, and the bramble, with their bewitching 
foliage — and the fairy ground — and the enchant- 
ing music of the lark, the blackbird, the throsde, 
and the blackcap, rendered soothing and plaintive 
f/y the cooings of the ringdove, which altogether 
{•harmed, but f>erhaps retarded, the march to the 
brink of the scene of action, with its willows, its 
/tld'rs, or its sallows — where early I commenced 
flf days patient campaign. The pleasing excite- 
ments of the angler still follow him, whether he is 



iv.] i wanderjahre: 47 

engaged in his pursuits amidst scenery such as I 
have attempted to describe, or on the heathery 
moor, or by burns guttered out by mountain 
torrents, and boundered by rocks or gray moss- 
covered stones, which form the rapids and the 
pools in which is concealed his beautiful yellow 
and spotted prey. Here, when tired and alone, I 
used to open my wallet and dine on cold meat 
and coarse rye bread, with an appetite that made 
me smile at the trouble people put themselves to 
in preparing the sumptuous feast ; the only music 
in attendance was perhaps the murmuring burn, 
the whistling cry of the curlew, the solitary water- 
ouzel, or the whirring wing of the moor game. I 
would, however, recommend to anglers not to go 
alone ; a trio of them is better, and mutual assist- 
ance is often necessary." ' 

1 This last piece of advice is at variance with the final words 
of the first patroness of fishing in England. " Whanne ye pur- 
poos to goo on your disportes in fysshyng," says Dame Juliana 
Bemers (if we may still call her so), " ye woll not desyre gretly 
many persones wyth you, whyche myghte lette you of your game. 
And thenne ye maye seme Cod deuowtly in sayenge affectuously 
youre custumable prayer. . . . And all those that done after 
this rule shall haue the blessynge of god & saynt Petyr, whyche 



4 S THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

In 1785, Bewick's mother, father, and eldest 
sister died, and the walks to Cherryburn came to 
an end. In the following year he was married to 
Miss Isabella Elliot of Ovingham, one of the litde 
girls whom he had " plagued " in his unregenerate 
boyhood. He was then living at the Forth, a large 
piece of public ground near St. Mary's Hospital, in 
a house which had been previously tenanted by Dr. 
Hutton, part of whose furniture he had purchased. 
It was a "fine, low, old-fashioned" building, situated 
in what was afterwards known as Circus Lane (so 
probably called from the Amphitheatre erected in 
the Forth in 1789), and having a long garden 
extending almost to the old Town Wall. From 
the windows could be seen the ancient semi-cir- 
cular bastions known respectively as Gunner or 
Gunnerton Tower and West Spital Tower. Of 
Gunnerton Tower there is a little picture in one 
of the tailpieces to the "Water Birds," and it 
is stated that the adventurous youngster who is 
scaling its crumbling sides for jackdaws' nests (in 

Ik* thcytn tfrauntc that wyth his precyous blood vs boughte." — 
11 The Trcatysc of Fysshynge wyth an Angle," Pickering's reprint, 
1 8 j 7, p. 40. 



IV.] 



' WANDERJAHRE. ' 



the original sketch he has a bright blue coat) is 
intended for Bewick himself. West Spital Tower 
had been turned into a dwelling-place, where lived 
Mr. Beilby and his family. Bewick was an en- 
thusiastic florist, and especially fond of roses. His 
garden, as may be guessed, was a great pleasure 
to him ; and his picturesque red nightcap, en- 
circled by the fumes of his contemplative "church- 
warden," might often be detected there on Sunday 
afternoons. 




CHAPTER V 



.AY > FAil-SS, ' 5SI.SCT ?A3L»s 



A 



For manv vears aiter tie termination cJf his 
apprenticeship. Bewick appears, by his own 
account, to have beea fully employed upon the 
business of the nrm. which consisted chiethr of 
work for silversmiths* watchmakers* and hard- 
waremen- Much time was a!so occupied in seal- 
cutting ; but engraving on wood, as is clear from 
the small number of acknowledged works between 
1774 and 1784, must have been the exception 
rather than the rule of his trade. Among the 
books belonging to this date is the well-known 
"Jommy Trips History of Beasts and Birds/' 
published by Saint in 1779, which, owing to the 
dux that it is supposed by Atkinson and others to 
haw: prompted the " Quadrupeds " and * 4 Birds,** 



chap, v.] ' GA Y'S FABLES,' ' SELECT FABLES: 5 ' 

has acquired a factitious reputation with collectors. 
A limited reprint of this was issued by Mr. Pear- 
son in 1867. It is also probable that Bewick 
executed a few cuts when in London for Hodg- 
son's "Hieroglyphick Bible," which appeared about 
this time. This again was a book for children 
with emblematical cuts of select scenes from the 
Old and New Testaments. Then there is the 
" Lilliputian Magazine," the letterpress of which 
Mr. Pearson boldly attributes to Goldsmith, It 
was published in 1783 by T. Carnan, the successor 
of Goldsmith's friend Newbery, but had probably 
been printed earlier by Saint at Newcastle. 1 The 
two volumes, however, with which we are most 
concerned during this period are the " Fables by 

1 The following passage respecting " Tommy Trip " and 
Goldsmith is taken from one of Miss Jane Bewick's letters to Mr. 
Edward Ford, of Old Park, Enfield, and has been kindly com- 
municated to us by that gentleman : — 

" My sister lately drew my attention to the passage you quote 
in the ' Vicar of Wakefield ' (Goldsmith's charming little puff [in 
chapter xviii.] of his children's books, published by Newbery), 
'Tommy Trip and his Dog Jowler,' and 'Woglog the Giant.' 
Well do I remember the little book — amongst many charming 
Newberys still preserved, that treasure has disappeared. We 
had it before we could read. The book contained many cuts of 
animals (a crocodile among the rest), the descriptions of which 



5 2 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

the late Mr. Gay" of 1779, and the * 4 Select 
Fables " of 1 7 84, both of which were printed and 
published by Saint. In these, rather than the 
foregoing, interesting as those are from the coilec- 
tors point of view, Bewick's work began its true 
development, and they alone constitute his real 
beginnings. 

The illustrations to 4% Gav's Fables," it has 
been stated, had been begun during Bewick's 
apprenticeship. In advertising them Saint re- 
ferred to the •' finely engraved frontispiece '* and 
" very curious cuts," some of which had ** gained 
the premium of the Royal Society [$«•]." The 

were probably compiled by Goldsmith. The cuts must have 
been executed while my father was in London. 

•• I have often heard my father tell that, when he was very 
young, a stranger travelling on foot, and dressed in a sky-blue 
coat, with immensely large cuffs, called at Cherrybum, where he 
had some refreshment. Whilst resting, he conversed with my 
grandmother, and when he left she observed to her sister Hannah : 
' That is no common person.' The impression made on the 
child (Goldsmith was sure to have noticed the little black-eyed 
boy^ was so strong that the first time he saw a portrait of Gold- 
smith he felt certain that it was the poet himself who had called 
in. One may suppose the fare offered to have been eggs and 
bacon with home-brewed birch- wine, which my grandmother used 
to make by tapping the birch trees." 



v.] ' ga y's fables; * select fables: 53 

" finely engraved frontispiece " was a poor copper- 
plate by Beilby of the monument which Gay's 
patrons, the Queensberrys, had erected to him in 
Westminster Abbey, and it was manifestly copied 
from Scotin's engraving after Gravelot in the Lon- 




don edition of 1738. The "curious cuts "were 
sixty-seven in number, not including thirty-three 
vignettes. Of the five approved by the "Society of 
Arts," the " Old Hound " (" The Hound and the 
Huntsman") is the only one which has been identi- 
fied. The others, probably executed at different 
times between 1773 and 1779, are of very various 



54 



THOMAS BE WICK 



[chap. 




merit. Many of them plainly reproduce the com- 
positions of William Kent, Wootton the animal 
painter, and Gravelot, in the first editions of the 
two series of " Gays Fables/' issued by Tonson 
and Knapton in 1727 and 1738 respectively. 
Whether Bewick made use of these books directly, 
or followed some intermediate copyist, such as 
the unknown artist of Strahan s complete edition 
of 1769, is immaterial. But a comparison of his 
illustrations with the earlier ones establishes a 
remarkable relationship, especially in the more 
allegorical or mythological subjects. In the un- 
pleasant " Universal Apparition/' the design is 
almost exactly similar to that of 1727 ; the same 
remark applies, more or less, to the " Miser and 
Plutus/' M Pythagoras and the Countryman," the 
" Monkey who had seen the World/' and others. 
In all of these, as a rule, Bewick has the ad- 
vantage in drawing and accessory, although his 
delineations of nude figures and personifications 
of any kind are never his happiest work. In the 
" Farmers Wife and the Raven/' and the 
^Courtier and Proteus/' though still mindful of 



v.] ' GA Y'S FABLES; ' SELECT FABLES.' 5 5 

the earlier plate, he produces something infinitely 
better. The former, with its bridge and castle in 
the background, and the hopeless collapse of 
" blind Ball " and his rider in front, is one of the 
best pictures in the book ; and the persuasive 
man of the world, with his hand, like that of his 
prototype, on his heart, might have stept from a 
canvas by Hogarth. So might the really admir- 
able figure of the bullying and belligerent virago 
with arms akimbo, in the " Scold and the Parrot." 
In the "Hare and Many Friends" the arrange- 
ment of the first illustrator, Wootton, is almost 
entirely discarded ; and the gasping, pathetic 
posture of " Poor honest Puss" appealing vainly 
to the calf is worthy of a Landseer in little. Now 
and then, again, Bewick's knowledge of domestic 
animals or his keen eye for character overmaster 
him entirely, and he breaks away from the model 
altogether. "The Hound and the Huntsman" 
is a case in point ; it might have been sketched at 
Cherryburn. 1 Other examples in this class are 
1 An original pencil sketch for " The Hound and the Hunts- 
man " is in the possession of Mr. Edward Ford, who obtained it 
from Miss Jane Bewick. 



56 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

" The Man, the Cat, the Dog, and the Fly," and 
" The Squire and his Cur." These two are not 
so much illustrations of Gay as little pictures in 
genre. In one the country gentleman, mottle- 
faced and condescending, listens with dignity to 
the tenant, who, 

" .... in a bondman's key, 
With 'bated breath, and whispering humbleness," 

addresses his patron ; in the other an old officer, 
with his hanger and cocked hat on the wall — a 
true contemporary of Le Fevre and " My Uncle 
Toby " — is talking to his dog and cat in a room 
whose conspicuous decoration is a print of a naval 
engagement. These, as far as we can ascertain, 
are Bewick's own, and they are of the best. 

Generally speaking, the printing of all these 
cuts, even in the earlier editions (and it is abso- 
lutely useless to consult any others), is weak and 
unskilful. The fine work of the backgrounds is 
seldom thoroughly made out, and the whole im- 
pression is blurred and unequal. Nevertheless, 
as book illustrations, in detail, composition, and 
especially in expression, they are far beyond any- 



v.] ' GA V'S FABLES,' ' SELECT FABLES.' 5 7 

thing of the kind that had appeared before, ex- 
cept a few cuts by Bewick himself, to which we 
now come. 

The other book of importance belonging to 
this period is the "Select Fables," published by 
Saint in 1784. Its full title is "Select Fables, 
in Three Parts. Part I. Fables extracted from 
Dodsley's. Part II. Fables with Reflections, in 
Prose and Verse. Part III. Fables in Verse. 
To which are prefixed, The Life of ^Esop ; and 
an Essay upon Fable. A New Edition, im- 
proved. Newcastle: Printed by and for T. Saint. 
mdcclxxxiv." In reference to the words "a new 
edition, improved," it will be remembered that, as 
already stated on p. 32, Saint had in 1772 issued a 
small number of " Select Fables " at the end of the 
" Moral Instructions of a Father to his Son," etc., 
the cuts to which were said by Miss Bewick to 
have been her father's early work. Of this book 
Saint brought out a third edition in 1775 ; and in 
1776 he issued a volume of "Select Fables "only, 
of which the "Select Fables"of 1784 is obviously 
an elaboration. In fact, the title-pages are almost 



<T?F.W- 



»* 



OCTtaatTY afrrrrfraT, ami die sanre- «*TTrfcit^iragIi: 
rigji«Dt » -2»a£ S^r both. Tie xotmne ct : 770 
cr«£a£n» orat hnrrrfnaf 2nd fourteen xnalL ami 
PCj*jc{t eacecated cuts. and, at die end of the book. 
in JSksssraxfcxt of the - Fabfes En Verse ( Part III-V* 
are fourteen larger and better cats* with borders*. 
t smaller cuts, which include those in the 
Moral loscroctionsv^ are. we must perforce 
decide, by Bewick, The '"Treatise on Wood- 
Engraving/ indeed, speaking of them in a foot- 
note (p, 480, edition 1861). says that "Bewick 
always denied that any erf them were of his engrav- 
ing." But, even if we had not Miss Bewicks 
authority for believing to the contrary, this is 
contradicted by the book itself, for no less than 
thirteen of the remaining fourteen cuts with borders 
are reproduced in the "Select Fables " of 1784, 
the illustrations of which are attributed to Bewick 
by common consent. It must therefore be con- 
jectured either that Mr. Chatto misunderstood 
Bewick or his informant, or that he had not seen 
the very rare edition of 1 776, which is now before 
uh, ,So again, when Mr. J. G. Bell and Mr. 



v.] ' GA Y'S FABLES,' ' SELECT FABLES. 1 59 

Hugo speak of the " miserable " illustrations of 
the earlier edition of the "Select Fables," it must 
be concluded that they were not aware that the 
edition of 1776 contained a number of the cuts 
afterwards printed in the volume of 1784. The 
smaller cuts are indifferent enough ; but the four- 
teen at the end are quite as good as those in the 
"Gay's Fables" published in 1779. It would be 
tedious to carry this purely bibliographical dis- 
cussion farther ; but it so far disposes of one 
troublesome passage in the " Memoir," which 
states that, during his apprenticeship, Bewick 
was at work on the " Select Fables." That, 
before 1774, he could have been working at the 
edition published in 1784 is improbable; but 
when it is explained that he prepared cuts for the 
edition of 1776, the words are no longer difficult 
to understand. 

Most of the illustrations to the "Select Fables" 
of 1784 show a very marked advance upon those 
to the " Gay." The animals are better drawn, 
and the backgrounds and details more carefully 
studied. But the greatest improvement is in the 



6o r*tej££< ssrjcs: csu*. 



grouping. This anc :he jrrmj^CTresx 
and white. are ^nsch rrsore skilfui jmi 
than before. A> before howevrrr. 3ew~ck seesas 
to have been cvmessted :o :uke aa ^anier 
for the basi^ >.* h*s iess^rts. There cart b 
little Joub* thai the -me u:>oi was :he * Fahies or 
JE*o|> aivJ Others/ translated by Sanwie* Croral 
i\i\, sonx.tin>e -XrehutrdOSQ *i Hereford. This 
wa^ one of the :no>£ yo^/uiar books* \?f trie eight- 
eenth century. Firsa * r *uhii>hed by Tcnsea ami 
WatU !n i '2 2. bv : ^v^S there had been so !ew«* 
than sixteen editions. In :he * Tre-ui^e m Wc*>£- 
Engraving the author, discussing this ceilecccir 
at soa\e length. a^years to think thtic she uDls- 
trator. who oeserves a better fame than be has 
oblataed. was a certain E. Kirkall, to whose booi- 
decorations F^v refers in the ' LXmciac "' 

and wboi we nv*\ a«Al e?revs the anenviabie <Jfc>- 
tinako- of havi.:^ tvrated Ho^arch > ** Hariots 
Progress before that ill-;jsed artisc cood issme 
hl» own prints. Mr. Chatto ai>k> jpoiiacs occ nhafc 
many of CroxalTs cuts are .^vjuraxdty rc-veraed 



r\ 



v.] 



'gay's fables; ' select fables: 



copies of copperplates by Sebastian le Clerc in an 
edition of "vEsop," published circa 1694. 1 It is 
possible, however, that the real originals may be 
looked for nearer home, since comparison of the 
Archdeacon's book with the fine old folio "/Esop" 




of Francis Barlow, once " eminent in this line of 
Fowl and Beasts," and sold (as the engraved 
title-page has it) "at his House, The Golden 

1 We have failed to trace this edition. Jombert's " Catalogue 
Raisonne"" of le Clerc's works, 1 774, i. 281, does indeed refer 
to a set of "32 petits ovales en t ravers, sans le litre," in illus- 
tration of "jEsop's Fables," but goes on to say expressly : "Cette 



fc" ;*£«:.. 


: : V 


1>Ctt»»> 


,aiK» 


itHs^S 


.: w.% 


lh*: v :• 


.'AS-' S 


Itkui -C 


». V". 



V.-» Sc^rt. -Trie- Soar- 



3iTO£ ET i^a-p- 




• r.lv r ii,* Ts»\ xvi »vft *wV .V :>'.v-.fiv^fci. ^rvidtin 
ll.r. IuiiMJi*,li.vn ' i-.^l-Sr *i*3« -¥"av ' tt 3>3$. 
affirm* iW UllrT. ihtX^i .-cSr-T *iCb:rcks CHnk 
<! uhliLrK'. Url«-orn r.vjvTts h is tlawjoWaS TO 
«l»-i ,-\r \>u\ ir art Jispw»ft3 in aj^w with Rcurki. 
Aftrr tan-fully ritmparing CnvauTs lirsa <v35ikm of 



v.] 



' GA Y'S FABLES,' ' SELECT FABLES.' 63 



1727 with his tenth of 1775, we are able to affirm 
de visu that the cuts in the latter, as impressions, 
are to the full as good as those in the former. 
It would have been difficult, we imagine, in the 
early days of the revival of woodcut-printing to 




show many books of which this could be said, and 
we conceive it to be greatly in favour of the theory 
that the illustrations to Croxall were from engrav- 
ings "on metal in the manner of wood." That 
this was practised is plain from the fact that the 
Society of Arts twice gave premiums to William 
Coleman for work of this very class. 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[CHAP. 



To return, however, to Bewick and the "Select 
Fables " of r 784. It is scarcely necessary to show 
in detail in what the likeness to Croxall consists, 
as a couple of examples will amply suffice — the cuts 
to the "Viper and the File," and the "Young Man 




and the Swallow." In the former Bewick has 
closely followed the earlier design. But the ad- 
vantage in execution, in black and white, and in 
the superior fidelity of the accessories (e.g. the 
vice) is wholly on his side. So are the improve- 
ments in the relative proportions of the different 
objects — the viper of the old illustrator for size 



V-] 



' GA V'S FABLES; ' SELECT FABLES.' 



65 



might be a youthful boa constrictor. In the 
"Young Man and the Swallow" the deviations 
are more apparent than the resemblances, and 
little of similarity remains but in the attitude 
of the hero. The swallow which, in Croxall, 




assumes the proportions of a barn-door fowl is, 
in Bewick, reduced to reasonable dimensions. 
Croxall's spendthrift has literally denuded him- 
self; but he of Bewick's drawing, like a civilised 
eighteenth -century rake, has only pawned his 
linen. Again, beyond the bare-boughed tree 
there Is no particular suggestion of winter in 




66 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

Croxall ; but in Bewick there is obvious ice and 
men sliding upon it, while he has given to the 
chief figure a look of nose-nipped and shivering 
dilapidation which is wholly absent from its model. 
These specimens will show how Bewick dealt 
with Croxall when he employed him as a basis. 
But, as in the case of the " Gay," there are num- 
erous instances where the invention appears to be 
wholly his own, and they are generally the 
happiest in the book. Take, for example, the 
charming little pictures of the "Wolf and the 
Lamb," and the " Proud Frog." Or (to choose 
some fables not given in Croxall at all) let us turn 
to the "Hounds in Couples," the " Beggar and his 
Dog," the " Collier and the Fuller." This last, 
especially, is a little cJief-cToeuvre for truth to 
nature. The fuller with his bare legs and beater ; 
the grimy but not unfriendly collier; the linen 
bleaching in long rows in the field behind, and 
the colliery works on the hill, — to say nothing of 
St. Nicholas's spire in the distance, — all these go 
to make up a whole not afterwards excelled by 
any of the famous tailpieces. Bewick was familiar 



v.] 



' GA Y'S FABLES; ' SELECT FABLES.' 67 



with fullers and colliers, with frogs and dogs, and 
what he knew intimately he could draw as no 
other man could. 

In contrasting Bewick's work with that of the 
unknown illustrator of Croxall, and the illustrators 
of "Gay's Fables," it can scarcely be necessary 




to point out that we have no sort of intention to 
depreciate Bewick's gifts. That he should have 
chosen to work in a measure upon the lines of 
some of his predecessors is no reproach to him, 
since it is only what many greater men have done 
before and after him. " It was not the subject 
treated" (as Mr. Lowell says finely of Chaucer 
in similar case), "but himself, that was the new 



68 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



thing." He brought to his designs an indi- 
viduality, a personal character, which is wholly 
absent from his prototypes. His reproductions 
of animal life prove conclusively how infinitely 
superior in apprehension and insight he was to 
Barlow and Wootton, professed and popular 
animal painters; while as a delineator of character 
and humanity we must seek for his equals in ranks 
far higher than that of the charlatan William 
Kent. But his illustrations to these fables are 
interesting in another way. Those who admire 
his draughtsmanship have often asked themselves 
how he obtained his proficiency as an artisc for 
he certainly did not acquire it from " Copelands* 
Ornaments." The onlv answer given bv his family 
is that " he used to go out and look at things, and 
then come home and draw them." 1 That is to 
say, he shared the instinctive perceptive faculty 




1 Bewick's daughters, it may be observed, could give but 
little definite information respecting the growth of their fathers 
genius. Their appreciation of it was affectionate rather than 
enlightened ; and they appear to have shrunk from admitting 
that he could possibly be indebted to anything but his own inborn 
eative power, even where natural objects were concerned. 



v.] 



'GAY'S FABLES,' ' SELECT FABLES.' 69 



and eye-memory of Hogarth and WHkie ; but 
this scarcely explains his skill in combining and 
arranging his material. If, however, we bear in 
mind that he spent so much of his early life in 
adapting, correcting, and modernising the designs 
of others, it requires no further argument to show 
that he studied in a school of composition which, 
whatever its restrictions, was yet of a practical 
and serviceable kind. 







S-X 



U*U T , %*. 




hi* kiio^lcJ^v, ;^i^ >£kAiv*rtv*n. -fc£ '.x»gjjr^ ;itf* 

rcjuiatvil by ttcll ai>o Oki»* rr^vctrn^ Sxi cvV* 
lection*. Hugo ol>*> xvjo%* :c wuh r^>ar\i to 
the " Select Fables." On the ocher hand Atkin- 
gpn'b sketch is completely silent as to such a colla- 



chap, vi.] JOHN BE WICK. 7 ■ 

boration, although, by his own showing, the writer 
was acquainted with Charnley's book ; and there 
is no reference to it in the short account of John 
Bewick which appears in Mackenzie's "History 
of Northumberland." In Bewick's "Memoir," 
too, where some acknowledgment to this effect, 
if needful, might have been reasonably expected, 
there is not a word upon the subject. As a matter 
of fact, it is difficult to understand what material 
aid the younger brother could have rendered to 
the elder in the " Gay's Fables," seeing that he 
was only in the second year of his apprenticeship 
when it was first published. To the " Select 
Fables," the argument of inexperience does not 
apply with equal force ; but it may be noted that 
John Bewick's work, for many years subsequent 
to 1784, will not, either in draughtsmanship or 
engraving, sustain a comparison with the illustra- 
tions in that volume. Moreover — though this is 
of minor importance — for at least two years previ- 
ous to its appearance, John Bewick had been 
resident in London. Upon the evidence of the 
books themselves — we may add — it is impossible 



72 THOMAS BEWICK, [chap. 

to arrive at a decision ; but the existence of this 
moot question may be our excuse for introducing 
here some brief account of John Bewick's less 
doubtful works. 

According to the " Memoir of Thomas Bewick," 
John Bewick continued in his apprenticeship for 
about five years, when his brother "gave him his 
liberty," and he left Newcastle for London. Here 
he found immediate and active, though not lucra- 
tive employment, chiefly on blocks for children's 
books. Hugo's "Catalogue" gives us the titles 
of some of these — " The Children's Miscellany " 
(by Day of " Sandford and Merton " fame) ; the 
" Honours of the Table ; or, Rules for Behaviour 
during Meals;" the " History of a Schoolboy;" 
the " New Robinson Crusoe," and so forth, — 
publications which no doubt were highly popular 
with the "little Masters and Misses" in frill-collars 
and mob-caps, who resorted to Mr. Stockdale's in 
Piccadilly, or Mr. Newbery's at the " Bible and 
Sun " in St. Paul's Churchyard. The date of the 
'• Robinson Crusoe " is 1788, and many of its cuts 
are signed. But the first work of real importance 



vi.] JOHN BEWICK. 73 

attributed to John Bewick is an edition of Gay's 
" Fables," printed in the same year for J. Buck- 
land and others, in which, with minor variations 
and some exceptions, the earlier designs of Thomas 
Bewick are followed. This book affords an 
opportunity of comparing the brothers on similar 




ground, and the superiority of the elder is incon- 
testable. Next to this comes a volume which has 
usually been placed first, the " Emblems of Mor- 
tality," published by T. Hodgson in 1789. This 
is a copy of the famous " Icones" or " Imagines 
Mortis" of Holbein, from the Latin edition issued 
at Lyons in 1 547 by Jehan Frellon, "Soubz 1'escu de 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



Coloigne," with a few supplementary cuts from the 
French edition of 1562. Hugo associates Thomas 
Bewick with John in this work ; and we have 
certainly seen an edition which has both names on 
the title-page. The early writers, nevertheless, 




assign it to John Bewick alone ; and this view is, 
in our opinion, confirmed by the following extract 
from a letter of Thomas to John, published 
by Mr. Hancock of Newcastle in the "Natural 
History Transactions of Northumberland," etc., 
for 1877. "I am much pleased," says Thomas 
Bewick, " with the Cuts for ' Death's Dance,' and 



vi.] JOHN BEWICK. 75 

wish much to have the book when it is done. I 
am surprized that you would undertake to do 
them for 6s. each. You have been spending 
your time and grinding out your eyes to little 
purpose indeed. I would not have done them for 
a farthing less than double that sum. ... I am 
glad to find that you have begun on your own 
bottom, and 1 would earnestly recommend you to 
establish your character by taking uncommon pains 
with what work you do." The quotation seems 
to indicate that John Bewick had set up on his 
own account in November 1787, the date of the 
letter to which the above is an answer. It gives 
an idea besides of the prices paid for wood-engrav- 
ing both in London and Newcastle, which, as may 
be seen, were on anything but a liberal scale. 1 

Even in these days of Amand-Durand fac- 
similes, the "Emblems of Mortality" is a praise- 
worthy memento of those marvellous woodcuts 

1 Sometimes, too, they do not seem to have been paid al all. 
At a sale a few years ago there was sold an autograph letter of 
Thomas Bewick to Sir Richard Phillips of the "Million of Facts," 
in which reference was made to a bill for " Botanical Cuts " that 
had been outstanding for eleven years ! 



76 THOMAS BEtt'lCK. Icha?. 

w hich. as we are now taught to believe, the obscure 
Hans Lutzelburger engraved aiter Hoibein's de- 
signs. In detail Joan Bewick's copies vary con- 
siderably from the originals : and. in ooe instance. 
that of the "Creation." where the earlier illustrator 
has represented the first person of the Trinity in 




rj 



a papal tiara, his imitator, by editorial desire, has 
substituted a design of his own. But the spirit of 
the old cuts is almost always fairly preserved, and, 
considering the hasty and ill-paid character of the 
work, its general fidelity to Holbein is remarkable. 
Death's Dance " come a little group of 
;, chiefly intended for the education of children. 



VI.] JOHN BEWICK. 77 

Of these it is impossible to give any detailed 
account, nor is it needful, since they have all a 
strong family resemblance. The two first, " Pro- 
verbs Exemplified" (1790) and the " Progress of 
Man and Society" (1791) are due to the excellent 
but wearisome Dr. Truster, who, with the best 




opportunities, has the honour of being the worst 
of Hogarth commentators. The former book is 
sufficiently described by its title ; the latter is a 
kind of modern version of the old Latin and high 
Dutch "Orbis Pictus" of Comenius, published at 
Amsterdam in 1657. Both of these books are 
undoubtedly illustrated by John Bewick alone, 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[chap. 



whose name is given in the preface to the " Pro- 
verbs." Besides these there are the " Looking 
Glass for the Mind" {1792), the charming little* 
"Tales for Youth" (1794), "Robin Hood"(i795), 
and the "Blossoms of Morality" (1796). 

The appearance of the " Blossoms of Morality " 
was for some time delayed in consequence of the 
illness of the artist, and long before it was pub- 
lished, John Bewick was sleeping in Ovingham 
Churchyard. His health had been early impaired 
by the close confinement of the Metropolis, and 
though a visit to Cherryburn seems to have 
restored him, he was finally oblic 



JOHN BE WICK. 



paper, and its embellishments. 1 To this book 
John Bewick contributed one cut, drawn and en- 
graved by him in illustration of the well-known 
passage in the " Deserted Village " respecting the 
old watercress gatherer. He is also understood 
to have designed two of the vignettes and one 




of the tailpieces. During the last months of his 
life he was engaged in making sketches on the 

1 George III. is said to have declined to believe that the cuts 
were engraved on wood, and to have requested to be allowed to 
assure himself of the fact by inspecting the original blocks. But 
in these early days of woodcut art, even a George might be 
forgiven for not being a connoisseur. One of the best of the 
tailpieces represents His Majesty hunting the stag at Windsor. 



X? 



nfc^s jstdzjc 



-fc - ^ — m 




biock :ur :he * r aeiiaux 21 Le •Jraaii. zra2£i:ed 
bv \Va\ : ^ac am; :cr in ^iiccit -t Scoer- 
vile's- " CW*. i:s^e«i ?v zruiiner sr zbz sime 
year, these \%t;re otiicdy ta^rtnvi. rv Tbanas 
Bewick, v%1k\ :x* ^av^ ir rie • Jtnncir. " ccm- 
plvied lIk Juiwjnv^ :V?r :he * Orase * orb;r his 
bu^Swt "x Jccuii. ' Pte '.asc :him£ w aiies scrrow- 
lull) ) iruu * vVvuvl sio vr tint was yucrng up a 

Vhuivh, \*ivic I -H>vx'- w!x'*i :nv ^:a^> iron 

\^ :\ ^cuciiilK liv v-.tsc v%ich :hcse who die 
\uuiii;, :i ix xoaic^hai JttiKuit :c s^?eak ot Tohn 
Uvwulys mcwtx ax am aitixi and ^i^raver. Much 
c^i hi.^ \uu*k bv\ux evident si^ns of haste, Jewell 
a* v*i an invention which * as 'air in advance of his 
|ui\\cr^ c*l execution, hi the corner books this is 
especially noticeable. He had plainly a keea eye 
fur character, and considerable skill tit catching 
strongly - marked expression. In the * % Proverbs 
Exemplified," many of the little groups, though 
ely rendered are excellently * v felt*** and might 
jly be elaborated into striking studies* It is 



V,.] 



JOHN BE WICK. 



not unnatural, perhaps, that Dr. Trusler should 
compare his illustrator to Hogarth ; but in such 
designs as " All is not Gold that Glitters," and 
" Scald not your Lips with Another Man's Pot- 
tage," the comparison is not wholly untenable. 
His animals, too, are often admirable — witness the 




popular prowling cat in the " Tales for Youth," 
the hunting scenes in the "Chase" {e.g. the "Hunts- 
man and Hounds," the "Home of the Otter"), and 
many of the vignettes in the children's books, 1 
while he shared with his brother, though in a far 

1 A large proportion of these, however, are mere adaptations 
of Thomas Bewick's work. 



83 THOMAS BEWICK. (chap. 

less degree, the art of contriving effective back- 
grounds of rock-work and foliage. One distinctive 
quality he seems to have possessed, which is not 
to be found in Thomas Bewick, the quality of 
grace — a grace artificial indeed, as was much of the 




grace of the eighteenth century, yet not without 
its charm. Whether he caught this from Stothard 
and the novel illustrators of the period we know 
not ; but there are many examples of it in his 
work, notably in his treatment of children. Take, 
for instance, the trio of scholars in the " Progress 
of Man," who, with their hands on their hearts, 



vi.] JOHN BE WICK. 83 

are "making a leg" to their nightcapped and 
dressing - gowned preceptor. Or take again the 
charming picture in the " Looking Glass for the 
Mind," of the anxious little fellow who is stand- 
ing on a chair to look at the barometer. As an 
engraver John Bewick does not in any way equal 
his brother. His manner is flatter, more conven- 
tional, less happy in the distribution of its light 
and shade. In his later work, however, he im- 
proved greatly in this respect, as may be seen by 
reference to the "Tales for Youth," which contain 
some of his best engraving, and to the watercress 
gatherer of the " Deserted Village." 

Only one portrait of John Bewick is known 
to exist, and that is a crayon by George Gray, 
now in the Newcastle Natural History Society's 
Museum. Personally he seems to have been a 
young man of considerable wit and vivacity, and 
very popular with his associates — a popularity, 
if we may judge from certain passages in the 
" Memoir," not without its peril in the eyes of 
his graver elder brother. " He would not, as he 
called it, be dictated to by me ; but this I per- 



84 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

sisted in till it made us often quarrel, which was 
distressing to me, for my regard for him was too 
deeply rooted ever to think of suffering him to 
tread in the paths which led to ruin, without en- 
deavouring to prevent it. To the latest day of 
his life, he repented of having turned a deaf ear to 
my advice ; and as bitterly and sincerely did he 
acknowledge the slighted obligations he owed me. 
He rued; and that is as painful a word as any in 
the English language." Something in this, no 
doubt, must be allowed for the Spartan austerity 
of the disciple of Lewis Cornaro, and it is not 
probable that poor John Bewicks errors went 
farther than a certain smartness in costume, and 
occasional convivial excesses. 

At the time of his death he was engaged upon 
the block of Cherryburn, afterwards used as a 
frontispiece to the " Memoir." He did not live 
to complete it ; and it was eventually finished by 
Thomas Bewick. The original sketch, probably 
made much earlier, together with his punch-ladle 
and glass, some water-colour drawings, and other 
relics, is carefully preserved at the old home by 



VI-] 



JOHN BEWICK. 



85 



his grandnieces, who still speak affectionately of 
their "Uncle John's" talents and amiability. At 
the recent Bewick sale another memento of him 
came under the hammer. This was a walking- 
stick, containing a hautboy, with which (as per 




catalogue) he is said to have " amused himself in 
his summer-evening strolls about Hornsey and 
the banks of the Thames." In the last months of 
his life, it should be added, he alternated engrav- 
ing with teaching, being employed as drawing- 
master at the " Hornsey Academy," then kept by 
a Mr. Nathaniel Norton. Two or three unfinished 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[CHAP. VI. 



sketches made by him at this time — one of which 
shows his pony and his lodgings — are included 
in the Bewick bequest to the British Museum. 
Another, dated 1795, the year of his death, has 
a touch of pathos. It represents his "intended 
house " on the water bank at Eltringham. 




CHAPTER VII. 

"QUADRUPEDS," "BIRDS." 

From the work of Thomas Bewick previous to 
1785, and more especially from the two volumes 
of " Fables," it is evident that he is most success- 
ful in depicting those phases of animal life with 
which he was familiar, or in making such selec- 
tion as his genius prompted of the characteristics, 
whimsical or pathetic, of the humanity about him. 

" That is best which lieth nearest, 
Shape from that thy work of art," 

never received more striking confirmation than at 

Bewick's hands. " Hercules and Jupiter," "Time 

and Fortune," — figures in which the allegorists of 

the day would have delighted, — become under his 

pencil mere lumbering and futile unrealities, ill at 

ease in their nakedness, and not to be credited under 



88 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

any system of theology. But set him down to draw 
you a group of startled hares, a hungry beggar 
watched by an equally hungry dog, a boy stung 
by a nettle, or a brace of snarling hounds — 
" impares formas atqwe animos " — tuggmg at the 
unequal yoke, and he will straightway construct 
you a little picture — spirited, vivid, irreproachable 
in its literal fidelity — to which you will turn again 
and again as to the authentic record of something 
within your own experience, which you seem to 
have forgotten, but of which you are glad to be 
reminded once more. To such an artist, so truth- 
ful, so dependent upon nature, so unimaginative 
(in a certain sense of the word), the realising of 
other men's ideas would be a difficult and un- 
congenial task. But suppose him to find a field 
outside these conditions, in which he is free to 
exercise his abilities in a fashion most pleasant to 
himself, it will follow, almost as a matter of course, 
that he will produce his best work. This, in 
effect, appears to have been the case with Bewick. 
He found his fitting field in the " Quadrupeds" and 
" Birds," and rose at once to his highest level. 



S3P 



'QUADRUPEDS; 'BIRDS.' 



The "Quadrupeds" were begun soon after 
the publication of the " Select Fables." But 
while working at them, and before they were pub- 
lished, Bewick produced the large block known as 
the " Chilhngham Bull," one of those famous wild 
cattle of the old Caledonian breed, now nearly 
extinct, which Landseer has painted, and Scott 
has celebrated in the ballad of " Cadyow Castle " — 

" Through the huge oaks of Evan dale, 

Whose limbs a thousand years have worn, 
What sullen roar comes down the gale, 
And drowns the hunter's pealing horn ? 

Mightiest of all the beasts of chase, 

That roam in woody Caledon, 
Crashing the forest in his race, 

The Mountain Bull comes thundering on." 

The engraving was a commission undertaken in 
the beginning of 1789 for Marmaduke Tunstall 
of Wycliffe, a local naturalist and collector ; and 
in the " Memoir " Bewick has described some 
of the obstacles he met with in getting near his 
restless model. " I could make no drawing (he 
says) of the bull, while he, along with the rest 
of the herd, was wheeling about, and then front- 



go THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

ing us, in the manner described in the ' History 
of Quadrupeds' (1824, p. 39). I was therefore 
obliged to endeavour to see one which had been 
conquered by his rival, and driven to seek shelter 
alone, in the quanyhoks or in the woods ; and in 
order to get a good look at one of this description, 
I was under the necessity of creeping on my 
hands and knees, to leeward, and out of his sight ; 
and I thus got my sketch or memorandum, from 
which I made my drawing on the wood. I was 
sorry my figure was made from one before he 
was furnished with his curled or shaggy neck and 
mane/' 

It is said that Bewick considered this block 
to be his masterpiece ; and it is certain that the 
bull with its dark ears and muzzle, its black-tipped 
horns, its sensitive nostril, and milkwhite hide, is 
an exceedingly handsome beast. It steps out 
lightly from a little glade, and halts with its head 
turned distrustfully toward the spectator, the thin 
foam threading from its jaws. Its hair and hoofs 
are excellently given ; but in these days the back- 
ground and accessories, though minutely careful 




vii.] 'QUADRUPEDS; 'BIRDS.' 9' 

and conscientious, would probably be regarded 
as stiff and conventional. When engraved it was 
doubtless Bewick's best and most ambitious effort ; 
but there are animals and birds in his subsequent 
works with which it can scarcely be compared. 
An accident, however, has had the effect of giving 
the impressions of this block an abnormal value 
with collectors — the value of extreme rarity. After 
a few copies had been struck off on parchment and 
paper, the block was thoughtlessly laid on a place 
where the rays of the sun fell so directly upon it 
that it split ; and notwithstanding several attempts 
to reunite it, it was never possible to take an 
impression which did not betray indications of the 
fatal injury. The sums given for copies taken 
before the mishap, without the name and date, 
and especially for those on parchment, of which 
there appear to have been six, 1 are consequently 

1 There is considerable doubt about the exact number, which 
is one of the cruets of the Bewick collector. The subject is 
exhaustively discussed in Mr. D. C. Thomson's " Life and 
Works of Thomas Bewick," 1882, ch. xiii. We may take this 
opportunity of adding that much information, not to be found 
elsewhere, is contained in Mr. Thomson's attractive volume. 



jiackiii «t-:> ixuiUi: net Tenai 
. »**i ..'a-. i«wnseni Cc*~ 
ivisiii«i";Tfii. "Ttirr- Tnnr*-- o: 
it- «*r.- •uii.ru&n «:• "Has*" 
"l ft iVijin-J hmc^. afcs> ir. 




>' ''i^Tifn ?«p~-.:. :rtj*a *;ivat 

.•■•■'i n tu-. ■ %tsaxt\x ' ji "-ne 
>f '{t|ii«;r iD^ift.' life: must ji" 

■ ****.»< vrtir.n .'tiatf: 53 Bewick's 



vii.] ^quadrupeds; 'birds: 93 

work, is of an exceedingly meagre character. But 
he had actually begun it as early as November 
1785, for he was engraving the dromedary when 
he first heard of his father's death. Most of the 
cuts and vignettes were executed after the day's 
work was over, and the letterpress was compiled 
by Mr. Beilby, who was " of a bookish or read- 
ing turn," Bewick giving him what aid he was of 
his own knowledge able to contribute, " and blot- 
ting out, in his manuscript, what was not truth." 
Such animals as he knew {he says) were drawn 
"from memory on the wood," others were copied 
from Buffon, and others again were from speci- 
mens in travelling menageries, first sketched from 
memory and afterwards corrected on the wood 
from the animals themselves. In a letter to John 
Bewick, he speaks of the difficulties that beset him. 
He cannot get a good idea of the wolf, so contra- 
dictory are the reports of its appearance, and he is 
rejoicing in the advent of " a large collection of 
animals . . . now on its way to the Town." 1 

1 This may have been Gilbert Pidcock's, of whose well-known 
menagerie at Exeter 'Change there is a water-colour in the Crace 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



In 1790 the " General History of Quad- 
Irupeds " was published and sold rapidly. A 
■ second and a third edition appeared in 1791 and 
1792, and it had reached an eighth in 1824. Its 
(limitations are indicated above. The "Bison" and 
' Hippopotamus" would scarcely, we imagine, ex- 
Icite the admiration of Mr. Zwccker or Mr. Wolf; 
Ibut the dogs, the horses, the sheep, the cows, leave 
llittle to be desired. Excellent, too, are the "Badger," 
Ithe "Hedgehog," and the " Ferret." Chattoisalso 
Iright in the praise which he gives to the " Kyloe 
|Ox," although our special favourites in the book 



vii.] 'Quadrupeds; 'birds: 95 

Admirable, however, as was the volume of 
" Quadrupeds," it was eclipsed by the two vol- 
umes of " British Birds." Here the necessity for 
depending upon incorrect drawings or doubtful 




reports was reduced to a minimum ; and Bewick 
set out with the determination of "sticking to 
nature as closely as he could." After much pre- 
liminary study of such books on ornithology as 
came in his way, e.g. Albin's " Birds," the old 
"Histoire de la Nature des Oyseaux" of Pierre 



■ . illuJI' 


'.: f*.=a=c .a^. 


Lf. vi . 


Vi.-ie. \ket- 


.... -.. 


■■.tu-dit. .litiKTisr- 


c^tt.- 


.. (i-_*:£:cti r Zr.- 


..rr.:ir 


*:fX2S-q ■■ '-.IIIM:: 







'QUADRUPEDS, 1 'BIRDS.' 



which had been actually taken from nature and 
those which he had copied from preserved figures. 
The result was that in many cases he set aside 
what he had done to wait for newly-shot birds, 




with which he was liberally supplied by a few 
enthusiastic friends. Several of the sketches were 
from life. The " Corncrake," for example, was 
taken from a bird which ran about his own room, 
and its excellent attitude was cleverly repro- 



9* THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

duced by Richard Wingate, a famous bird-stuffer 
of Newcastle, in a specimen which is still to be 
seen in that town. It was probably at this date 
that Bewick made the majority of the very 
beautiful water-colour drawings exhibited by the 
Misses Bewick in London, and so excellently 
annotated by Mr. F. G. Stephens, 1 — drawings 

1 " Notes on a Collection of Drawings and Woodcuts by 
Thomas Bewick, exhibited at the Fine Art Society's Rooms, 
1 880." We quote one just and appreciative passage : — "The 
ruling element of Bewick's art, technical and inventive, is sin- 
cerity. His extreme simplicity, or, to be more precise, his 
straightforwardness, is but one of the manifestations of this ever- 
dominant inspiration. He always drew what he saw, and I think 
it probable that he never drew, or, what is similar, he never 
painted, anything he had not seen and thoroughly understood. 
The fund of knowledge thus secured and displayed, — for it is obvi- 
ous to me that he made himself understand everything he thought 
fit to draw, — was employed at all times and with the utmost fidelity. 
He seems to have had so much reverence for his work, and so 
much humility in the face of nature, that he became the counter- 
part of another English master in small, William Hunt, the 
water-colour painter, who, although one of the first men in the 
world in that peculiar class, was frequently heard to say, ' I almost 
tremble when I sit down to paint a flower.' But, so far as design 
gx>es, and nothing in art is higher, Bewick far surpassed Hunt in 
the abundance, as well as in the quality, scope, richness, and 
depth of his invention." There is no indiscretion in now adding 
that Miss Bewick's very literal and filially indignant comment 
upon the abo\*e was — x< Thomas Bewick trembled none ! " 



vii.] 'QUADRUPEDS; 'BIRDS.' 99 

which revealed unsuspected, because hitherto 
unman ifestcd, abilities as a colourist. This sup- 
position as to their production is confirmed by 
the fact that the " Roller " and the " Red-Legged 
Crow," both of which were at Bond Street, are 
plainly copies of the stuffed examples still to be 
found in the Museum of the Newcastle " Literary 
and Philosophical Society," which purchased the 
Wycliffe collection. Beyond the specimens pos- 
sessed by Bewick's family, examples of his water- 
colour work, however, appear to be rare. But 
Mr. George D. Leslie, R.A., has a beautiful king- 
fisher, the praises of which he has written in that 
fresh and unaffected book, " Our River." 

The first volume of the " Birds " (Land Birds) 
was published in 1797. It contained one hun- 
dred and seventeen birds and ninety-one tail- 
pieces. The letterpress was by Mr. Beilby ; 
but the proof-sheets, which were in the late Mr. 
Hugo's collection, show that Bewick's amend- 
ments and additions were numerous and import- 
ant. The second volume (Water Birds) appeared 
in 1804. The text to this, with some assistance 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[a 



from the Rev. Mr. Cotes, of Bedlingtrjn. was pre- 
pared by Bewick, whose partnership with Beilby 
had by this time been dissolved. This volume 
contained one hundred and one figures and one 
hundred and thirty-nine tailpieces. Large addi- 




tions were made to both volumes in the succeeding 
issues ; and in the sixth edition of 1826 (the last 
published during Bewick's lifetime), the first con- 
tained one hundred and fifty-seven figures, the 
second one hundred and forty-three, besides four- 
teen supplementary figures of foreign birds. Other 



VII.] 



'QUADRUPEDS; 'BIRDS.' 



editions appeared after his death, but the latest 
(the eighth) is that put forth by Bewick's son, 
R. E. Bewick, in April 1847. In this, "about 




twenty additional vignettes " were inserted from 
a series intended for a projected "History of 
British Fishes," left unfinished by Bewick at his 
death ; the nomenclature and arrangement of 
Temminck were adopted ; and a synoptical table 



rzmvMF. JJEX1CSL 




'V'titf; 'w rto inubt that die " Binfr " am 
l*,"'//lfV- h'v/hwt-.r mark. He worked in these 
ilii'i'-t .1 rvMiuMMirift nf conditions winch was 
> .(»" i:i!ly f;iwifxb^ tA his realistic genius. Em 
il,' Ar :f [*(:«*", h* 4 #hh c«(Wl upon not m invent 
nf Htffili'm'; birf limply to copy nature whh that 
"<iirr//n'i ''>"'■" *M^h slur* nothing, striving only 



VII.] 



'QUADRUPEDS? 'BIRDS.' 



to give its full import and value to the fold of a 
feather, the tenderest markings of breast and 
back, the most fugitive accidents of attitude and 
appearance. Then, having made his drawing in 




colour or otherwise, he was not obliged to see it 
altered or degraded in its transference to the 
wood-block at the hands of another person. 
Between his original study and the public he 
was his own interpreter. In confiding his work 
to the wood he was able to select or devise the 
most effective methods for rendering the nice 



rm>J£AS 3EWTCK. 



va*MO*s it rummage-, rrtmr tQc iipncs iowh m 
tfce rswrssa oniit-fesaier; aj araagg - Ens back- 
grnnwi w is :o rjeeak from it in: -de- most .KS05 




Wiiy thf fiiwthapwJ, delicate-shaded form of his 
frWrflfl, tiwl to do all this with the greatest economy 
of Inlrfitir, thf simplest array of lines. Finally, 
luiidft Ircinj,/ thf foithfullest of copyists, and the 
moil t*kllfnl of wood-fii^ravcrs, he was able to 



^quadrupeds; 'birds: 



bring to the representation of " these beautiful and 
interesting aerial wanderers of the British Isles " 
(as he styles them) a quality greater than either 
of these, that unlessoned insight which comes of 
loving them, the knowledge that often elevates an 
indifferent workman into an artist, and without 
which, as may be seen from the efforts of some of 
Bewick's followers, the most finished technical 
skill and most highly trained trick of observation 
produce nothing but an imago mortis. These birds 
of Bewick, — those especially that he had seen and 
studied in their sylvan haunts, — are alive. They 
swing on boughs, they light on wayside stones ; 
they flit rapidly through the air ; they seem almost 
to utter their continuous or intermittent cries ; 
they are glossy with health and freedom ; they 
are alert, bright-eyed, watchful of the unfamiliar 
spectator, and ready to dart off if he so much as 
stir a finger. And as Bewick saw them, so we see 
them, with their fitting background of leaf and 
bough, of rock or underwood, — backgrounds that 
are often studies in themselves.' Behind the 
rook his brethren stalk the furrows, disdainful of 



1 06 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

the scarecrow, while their black nests blot the 
trees beyond ; the golden plover stands upon his 
marshy heath ; the robin and the fieldfare have 
each his appropriate snow-clad landscape ; the 
little petrel skims swiftly in the hollow of a wave. 
Not unfrequently the objects in the distance have 
a special biographical interest. To the left of the 
magpie is one of those worn-out old horses, with 
whose sufferings Bewick had so keen a sympathy. 
It has apparently broken its neck by falling over 
a little cliff, part of the rails of which it has carried 
with it in its descent. At the back of the guinea- 
hen is the artist himself, seated on a wall ; in the 
cut of the blackbird is a view of Cherryburn. 
Details of this kind lead us insensibly to another 
feature of Bewick's books on Natural History, of 
which we have not yet spoken, — the numerous 
vignettes or tailpieces at the ends of the chapters. 
These, says his contemporary Dovaston, were 
" always his favourite exercise." "The bird or 
figure he did as a task ; but was relieved by 
working the scenery and background ; and after 
each figure he flew to the tailpiece with avidity, 



VII.] 



^quadrupeds; 'birds: 



for in the inventive faculty his imagination re- 
velled." Some extravagance of phrase abated, 
this statement may be accepted as showing in 
which direction Bewick's artistic inclinations were 
strongest ; and the wide popularity of these little 
pictures is another confirmation of Mr. Matthew 
Arnold's dictum about "pleasure in creating." 
But they deserve a chapter to themselves. 




CHAPTER VIII. 



THE TAILPIECES. 



% 



Much in these famous tailpieces is of that endur- 
ing and universal character which belongs to no 
time or place. But the pilgrim from Newcastle 
to Prudhoe (the nearest point to Ovingham) is 
often reminded on the road that he is in Bewick's 
country. Passing out of the Central Railway 
Station, with the river Tyne to his left, he sees 
the " coal-staiths " and fleets of " keels," and the 
clotted furnace-doors with the smoke curling from 
their crevices, as Bewick saw and drew them. 
Farther on, at Wylam, they are rook-shooting, 
and there are sea-gulls wheeling above the sandy 
reaches. While he is punted across the river 
from Prudhoe ! he himself seems to be taking 

1 Now, (if rourftc, he crosses the bridge. The above was 
written in 1881. 



chap, vin.] THE TAILPIECES. 109 

part in a tailpiece, and the spare boat-stower 
stuck in the stones of the little pier, and the long 
loops of net which are drying in the sun, help to 
strengthen this belief. As he climbs the steep 
stairway on the opposite bank and notes the tide- 
dragged look of the branches near the water, he 
is reminded of the frequent floods, and especially 
of that great flood of November 1771, which not 
only tore down the arches of the old bridge at 
Newcastle, but swept away the humbler boat- 
house at Ovingham. In the parsonage gate he 
recognises an old friend of the "Select Fables," 
and he looks curiously at the picturesque church- 
porch where the farmer's son from Cherryburn 
once made his " chalky designs." Crossing the 
fields again toward Eltringham Ferry a hundred 
aspects of hedge and river-side seem friendly and 
familiar. The same ploughman is following the 
same team as in the vignette of "Justissima 
Tellus"; the same sheep are huddling in the fold, 
watched by the same vigilant collie ; and when 
he has traversed the Tyne again, and finds him- 
self among the quaint north-country stiles and 



I I 



J'HOMAS BEWICK JEHaj 



LiiutUiir.: burn.-*, witn tne water -wagtail imsy 
aiuuiif, Li** j»iuiivd, and tne tarm-pigean dropping 
duvii. i -> uriniv. in*.- illusion is weii-niph perfect. 
I'. 11. aUuiiuui i<» iiic.^t:, nc comes .suririrniv irpon 

» u» uiuiiwviii «>• kcc^c witn their rankling Jearfer 
.»■ Uiu»t iiut' . lUftrcmnu solemnly -waxenvard :in 
iirli.iit !•!• , »»* i.- bictrik'd nv an old horse sealing 
ii'iiv.in-. a; Ui« ^utn leaves o: a young Tree, he 
ii.i i.»« iwii^t : «4ii\ uuui 1 :, an.l believes everyine 
.iti- :h.j'„i Ui.it i>cvutu evrr put to paper. 

I !.• luitii lii* rtik mv scenes among" which 
);■ *• i« i \wr iiu#uj^i:' uj . naturally piay a Jajge 
]'.»r I- u.i aui«iciiv* coiksjikh*. At xhe hcgi«- 
u.:., i»' tip i^aii'' Utru 1 that weH-fcnwim 
J'.- : .«■ ii' . I aurijvtP' u*'. arawinp' tor which 
v.. < ^%^y i! Ui< l*fH< £»ireei collection, -and 
.ji. i xt .i.;i«.uuuni\ uiiiiui* study oi the -sub- 
j« • i / \\<jinan v\inuuw^ j^raii; ii: front: a man 
<..u\< i= !,.'x}r. i«' thr barn. Lucks and :hsns, 
<! .li f.rki;\r ami £u;>«:. aud **v«i those unm- 
-. .j.«.i" ;.;•..< *u. ti»r *iariiji£b and sparrows. 
•..« . i'.y ii::A:i^ai.->iiabie in the i^regruimd. .A 
■ ).'« j".-. iL< jtii'd w itli lici* liner: a dog dozes on 




VIII.] 



THE TAILPIECES, 



the dunghill. Nailed against the byre-wall are a 
magpie, a crow, and a heron ; over these is a 
swallow's nest, or sparrow-bottle. Pigeons fly 




above the ricks against the dark background of 
the trees, and there is a flight of fieldfares in the 
air. The same microscopic truthfulness is ex- 
hibited in a dozen other designs. Now it is a 
bent old fellow breaking stones by the roadside, 



-THOMAS BEwim: 



>W9W*fcr ^iogpriv tl WHW )^ IB-; 

Utfwrgit* Iswz v, gc: iotte-w3BEr.oEa.giTinDiDf^ 




tJ,j;*j fi^A^fd^u omuxarp'; ami -surrounded with 

if,M*U*i.«» ^Vi»vy. Tiit -roan gassin g iteing, 
(\*ji* 4t*i**tt<A- if. ^•jrt^ij^fi i« a dug in itht istak- 
j#iyi*w!; ^i*. <*> ■<!* -'ktrtrtU -K*v wan- id Muw 3um. 
.•u./fj iv *»**: pititiH** ^|f jural life ■nnnt ift t 



vill.] THE TAILPIECES. 113 

the snow ; there are the sportsmen who wade the 
river, or cross it upon stilts, or reach perilously to 
secure their floating quarry, or fraternise at dinner- 
time with their dogs. But it is the angler's craft 
which is most richly represented, and Bewick has 
drawn a score of pictures of this, his favourite 
pastime. He shows us the steady-going old 
Waltonian " fettling " his hooks under a bank ; the 
drenched fisherman watching his " set gads " in 
the shelter of a tree ; the salmon-spearer with his 
many-pronged "leister." Then there are the 
humours and accidents of the game. There is 
the excellent but infirm enthusiast who fishes 
from his pony's back while his footman waits 
hard by with a landing net ; the angler who is 
terrified by a turnip-headed "bogle," and the 
angler who has hooked a swallow on the wing ; 
the angler who has tumbled into the stream ; the 
angler who is taking bait from a dead dog, to the 
disgust of a companion, who is prudently holding 
his nose. And in all these, the little glimpses of 
copse and thicket, of brown pool and wrinkling 
water, are enough to make a man wish (if he has 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



forgotten the experiences of Washington Irving!) 
to become an angler on the spot ; and they seem 
to find their most restful expression in the charm- 
ing vignette to which the artist has affixed the 
old Virgilian motto adopted by Shenstone at the 
Leasowes — "Fluminaamem, sylvasque inglorius." 




In many of the designs already spoken of, 
although they are chiefly concerned with the 
accurate representation of natural objects, there 
are sly strokes of drollery. This brings us to 
a special class in these vignettes, namely, those 
which are purely and simply humorous, — little 
compositions which would have delighted Hogarth, 
and hardly dishonoured his genius. Such are the 
bottle-nosed and bewigged coachman on the bob- 



VII!.] 



THE TAILPIECES. 



tailed coach-horse who is following "little master" 
on his pony ; the black sweep eating white bread 
and butter ; the old woman (Bewick is unrivalled 
at old women) attacked by geese ; the depressed 
and Callotesque procession with the dancing dogs 
and bear ; the blind fiddlers led by a ragged boy 
and fiddling without an audience; the old husband 




carrying his young wife and child across the river 
on his back ; the drunken miller, who, on King 
George's birthday, has been cupping it "till the 
world go round," and now lies helpless on his 
back, still feebly beating on the reeling earth. 1 
Many of these deserve a page of commentary. 
It would be easy, for example, to write at length 

1 This is said to have been a well-known character, one 
Rennoldson, a miller at Jesmond. 



!!6 THOMAS BEWICK, [chap. 

upon such a theme as that which appears at page 
io6of vol. ii. of the "Birds." 1 Two tramps have 
halted at the gate of a pretty cottage garden, 
where the mistress is hanging out the clothes. 
They have turned away empty and angry, leav- 
ing the gate open, and through this the inmates 




of the adjoining farmyard are successively mak- 
ing their appearance. The hens have already 
occupied the lawn (and the spotless linen) ; the 
little pigs are entering joyfully upon the forbidden 
territory ; the old sow follows leisurely at the 
back. Another fertile text for disquisition would 
be the incident depicted at page 173 of the same 

1 The references, here and hereafter, are to the first editions. 



VIII.] 



THE TAILPIECES. 



volume. A man is trying to ford a river with 
his cow, to save the toll. In mid-stream he has 
repented of his temerity, but the cow insists upon 
proceeding, while her alarmed master pulls help- 
lessly at her tail. 1 The landscape background in 
this case, with its bridge and wintry hills, is 
excellent for truth and suggestiveness. 




Bewick is particularly fond of the especial 
kind of dilemma which is illustrated by the last- 
named sketch. He delights in portraying an 

1 This tailpiece recalls a passage in one of Beau clerk's 
letters : " Johnson has been confined for some weeks in the Isle 
of Sky ; we hear that he was obliged to swim over to the main- 
land, taking hold of a cow's tail. Be that as it may, Lady Di 
(*>. Lady Di Beauclerk) has promised to make a drawing of it." 
— Hardy's " Life of Charlemont," 1 8 1 2, i. p. 34 5. 



! 1 8 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

incident at that supreme moment when, in classic 
poetry, it would be considered needful to call in 
the assistance of some convenient and compliant 
deity. This is the case of the embarrassed 
horseman who figures as a headpiece to the 
" Contents" in vol. ii. of the " Birds." His 




horse, aged like his master, has been seized with 
an ungovernable fit of passive obstinacy. The 
day is rainy, and there is a high wind. The rider 
has broken his stick and lost his hat ; but he is 
too much encumbered with his cackling and ex- 
cited stock to dare to dismount. Nothing can 
help him but a dens ex machind, of whom there is 



viii.] THE TAILPIECES. 119 

no sign. Another specimen of this sort is the 
admirable vignette at page 9 of the same volume. 
The string of a kite has caught in the hat of a 
man who is crossing a stream on a pony. The 
boys are unwilling to lose their kite, the man 



:r &i ~"? 




clings to his headgear, and it is imp 
divine how the matter will end. Sometimes the 
humour of these little pictures reaches a point 
which can only be designated sardonic. In its 
minor form this is exemplified by the hulking 
blacksmith looking on unmoved at the miserable 
dog with the pot tied to its tail. This, however, 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[CHAP. 



may be simply intended as a satire upon brutality. 
But there are other examples which are not so 
easy to explain, and less easy to excuse, since 
they have a kind of heartlessness about them 
which almost entirely deprives them of their 
laughable elements. In this category come the 




blind man, whom the heedless or wanton boy is 
leading into the deep water, and his fellow, whose 
hat has blown off as his dog conducts him across 
a narrow and broken -railed bridge. Now and 
then, again, this kind of incident rises to tragedy, 
as in the case of the men who are chasing a mad 
dog almost into the arms of a feeble old woman 
round the corner, or the tottering child in the 



THE TAILPIECES. 



meadow who is about to pluck at the tail of the 
vicious colt. We know of no picture of its size which 




communicates to the spectator such a degree of 
compressed suspense as this little masterpiece. 

But we must abridge what would otherwise 
prove too long a catalogue. No list of ours, in- 
deed, could hope to exhaust the " infinite variety" 




of these designs ; and to turn over the leaves 
again is only to discover how many have been 
missed or omitted. The exquisite series of 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



feathers, and the quaint coast-scenes, with their 
queer pudding-stone rocks, deserve more than a 
passing mention. So does the little group of 
tailpieces which deal with the picturesque "old 
soldiers " of Bewick's youth, two of whom head 
the " Introduction " to vol. ii. of the " Birds." A 




chapter, again, might be devoted to those alone 
which deal with the pathos of animal life, from 
the patient outlines of the two horses seen dimly 
in the open field through the mist and driving 
rain, to that wonderful vignette in the "Quadru- 
peds " where the cruel, cowardly dog is tearing at 
the worried ewe, whose poor little knock-kneed 
lamb looks on with mute and helpless bewilder- 



THE TAILPIECES. 



ment — a composition which for sheer pitifulness 
is not surpassed by Landseer's " Random Shot." 
Then there is the section which may be said to 
deal with the lachrimce rerum — the sad contrasts 
and mutabilities of things — minute pictorial homi- 
lies which must have delighted Thackeray : the 




ass rubbing itself against the pillar which cele- 
brates the famous victory ; the old man reading 
"Vanitas Vanitatum " on the crumbling tomb- 
stone ; the beggar taking refuge from the rain by 
the grass-grown hearth of the ruined cottage ; the 
church on the shore, where the waves are rapidly 
effacing the records of the dead. All these, and 
many others, are works of art in the truest sense, 



1 24 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

and worthy of a far more extensive study than we 
can give them here. 

So unmistakable, too, is the note of reality in 
the majority of these tailpieces, that it is impos- 
sible not to believe that many of them are records 
of actual occurrences within the recollection of the 
artist. It is, therefore, much to be regretted that 
the late Miss Jane Bewick never carried out her 
expressed intention of writing a complete and 
authoritative commentary upon this text. From 
some of her letters to Mr. Edward Ford we have, 
by the courtesy of that gentleman, been able to 
glean a few particulars upon this subject, some 
of which are new. The child catching at the 
horse's tail in the "Quadrupeds" is Bewick's 
younger brother ; the woman rushing over the 
stile is his grandmother. The tiny vignette at 
page 122 of vol. i. of the "Birds" represents 
Bewick's own hat and stick, — the latter, his 
constant companion, having belonged to John 
Bewick. 1 In another vignette (that of the sports- 

1 This must be the "blackthorn, full of knobs, with a silver 
hoop," which Miss Bewick afterwards gave to William Bewick, 



VIII.] 



THE TAILPIECES. 



man who has missed the snipe and hit the magpie) 
is a portrait of "Witch," a favourite dog of the 
family ; and Miss Bewick confirms Chatto's state- 
ment that the traveller drinking out of th&flipe of 
his hat ("Birds," i. xxx.) is a portrait of Bewick 
himself. There is another in the sketch of the 




snow man ("Birds," vol. i. p. 78), where he is 
standing on the stool, and his brother is among 
the assistants. Miss Bewick further identifies 



had 






the Darlington portrait-painter, saying, her father "never 
any other stick." In William Bewick's " Life," by Thi 
Landseer, 1871, ii., there are some interesting references t 
greater namesake. He had a portrait of him by William Bell, 
in the Rembrandt style, with a hat on, which does not seem tc 
have been known to Hugo. 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[CHAP. 



the strong man wading the water with " Long 
Longkin," the hero of an ancient Tyneside 
ballad of her youth ; and says that the monument 
(" Birds," ii. 220) is on one of the Northumbrian 
plains, — Millfield. She also confirms the account 
given by Atkinson of the two Ovingham dyers. 







carrying a tub between them, in the later editions 
of the " Birds " (1816, et seg.), although the name 
of one is wrongly reported. It was not Matthew, 
but Robert Carr. The pair were an extraordinary 
contrast ; the master being a most dissolute and 
objectionable character ; the man remarkable for 
his simplicity, integrity, and industry. The family 



viii.] THE TAILPIECES, 127 

of the former, who was fairly well-to-do, have 
long disappeared ; the latter will go down to pos- 
terity as the grandfather of the famous engineer, 
George Stephenson, whose modest birthplace is 
still passed by all who take the rail for Prudhoe. 
Another of Carr s grandsons, Edward Willis, was 
afterwards apprenticed to Bewick. These are 
minor details ; but they increase our regret that 
the hand which penned them did not complete a 
task which no one at this distance of time is likely 
to undertake with any prospect of success. 

Several of the original pencil and water-colour 
sketches for the tailpieces (we may here take the 
opportunity of stating) are now in possession of 
Mr. Edward Ford and Mr. J. W. Ford of Enfield. 
Some of these are of great beauty. Another 
member of the family, Mrs. Ford, of Adel Grange, 
Yorkshire, has the water-colour for the vignette 
(already referred to) of Gunnerton Tower, which 
is to be found at p. 109 of the " Birds," vol. ii. 

In the preceding notes we have made no 
reference to a few tailpieces in which the humour, 
coarse but not vicious, is more nearly in accord- 



128 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

ance with that of certain Dutch painters than the 
modern taste would approve. But, to the student of 
Bewick who calls to mind the manners of eighty 
years ago, these will present no serious difficulty. 
Another question less easy to dispose of is, What 
was the amount of the assistance rendered to 
Bewick by his pupils in the "Land" and "Water 
Birds " ? With trivial exceptions the figures of 
the birds in the first editions appear to have been 
entirely done by himself; but, as regards the 
tailpieces, the author of the " Treatise on Wood- 
Engraving " goes so far as to give a specific list 
(pp. 497-8, ed. 1 861) of those which, he alleges, 
were " either not drawn or not engraved by 
Bewick " — his information being derived from an 
unnamed pupil. 1 That more than one hand was 
employed upon the engraving of the tailpieces is 
manifest from the differences in the style of the 
cuts themselves ; but, as may be imagined, these 
tardy claims on behalf of the pupils were not very 

1 E. Landells, Nesbit, Edward Willis, and William Harvey 
were all in London about 1835-40 ; and with each of these (from 
information now before the writer), in addition to Jackson, Mr. 
Chatto seems to have been in direct communication. 



viil] THE TAILPIECES. 129 

favourably received by Bewicks representatives 
when the "Treatise on Wood-Engraving" was 
first published in 1839. No reference, however, 
was made to them in any way when the " Memoir" 
was issued in 1862, although, in the previous year, 
Mr. H. G. Bohn had put forth a second edition 
of the " Treatise," in which they were repeated. 
This is clearly to be regretted, as the day has now 
passed for deciding upon the truth or falsity of 
this equivocal list; and it may well be that the 
assistance afforded was unduly exaggerated. At 
the same time Bewick had some exceedingly 
clever pupils, and it is not at all unlikely that two 
of them, Robert Johnson and Luke Clennell, did 
really render effective service in the tailpieces of 
the " Birds," and especially in the second volume. 
That this was so, detracts little or nothing, as it 
seems to us, from Bewick's reputation. To what- 
ever extent he availed himself of the aid in ques- 
tion, it would be absurd to overlook the fact that he 
was the presiding spirit of the enterprise, that his 
pupils worked under his direction and influence, 
and that, although a few of them attained to re- 

K 



i3o THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

markable technical skill as engraversy there is 
absolutely no evidence that any of them ever 
excelled him in his own particular line when work- 
ing by themselves. It is, however, only just to add 
that Johnson, some of whose delicate water-colour 
drawings are still to be seen in Newcasde, must 
have possessed talents both as a designer and 
humourist of a really remarkable order. His 
story, as told by Mackenzie, is a sad one. He 
was born at Shodey in Northumberland, in 1770, 
being the son of a joiner and cabinet-maker, who 
placed him in 1 788 with Bewick, under whom he 
rapidly became proficient in drawing. His 
sketches found ready purchasers ; and his carica- 
tures, in the Cruikshankian vein, considerable 
popularity. Hugo gives the names of two or three 
of these pictorial pasquinades, which were directed 
against a Newcastle Tory bookseller, Joseph Whit- 
field. Johnson does not appear to have engraved 
much on wood, although he executed at least one 
copperplate. The rest may be told in Mackenzie's 
words: " About six months after the expiration 
of his apprenticeship, he was engaged by Messrs. 



via] THE TAILPIECES. 13" 

Morrison, of Perth, to reduce the set of portraits 
by Jamieson, and was sent to Kenmore, the seat 
of the Earl of Breadalbane, to copy them for the 




Gallery of Scottish Portraits. He had finished 
fifteen, and there remained four to copy, when, in 
his anxiety to complete his task, he would sit, 
though of a delicate constitution, all day in a 



13* 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. nn. 



room without fire. A violent cold was the con- 
sequence, which, neglected, increased to a fever. 
' It flew to his brain ; and, terrible to relate! he 
was bound with ropes, beaten, and treated like a 
madman/ This improper treatment was discon- 
tinued by the orders of a physician who accidentally 
arrived. By the application of blisters, reason 
returned ; and poor Johnson died in peace on 
October 29, 1 796, in the twenty-sixth year of his 
age. His friend and fellow-prentice, Nesbit, 
engraved a memorial to his memory ; and a stone 
was erected in Ovingham Churchyard to record 
the early fate of this ingenious and promising 



artist. 



n 



It is worth noticing that, from the above 
account, Johnson's connection with Bewick was 
clearly long subsequent to the "Select Fables" 
of 1 784 ; and that it had ceased some months 
before the publication of the first volume of the 
•' Birds" in 1797. 




> 



BUST OF BEWICK. 



T»/at* f*fii J). 



CHAPTER IX. 



"^ESOPS FABLES, BEWICKS DEATH. 

In 1804, when the second volume of the " Birds" 
was issued, Bewick was a man of fifty. He had 
still four-and-twenty years to live. But although 
he continued to occupy himself actively for the 
remainder of his life, he never again produced 
anything to equal the "Select Fables" and the 
three volumes on Natural History. A large 
number of books, illustrated or said to be illus- 
trated by him, have been traced out by the indis- 
criminate enthusiasm of the late Mr. Hugo, whose 
unwieldy collection was dispersed at Sotheby's in 
[877. For the revival of many of these — "honest 
journeywork in defect of better," as Carlyle would 
have styled them — we suspect that straight- 
forward Thomas Bewick would scarcely have 



^ 



134 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

thanked him. The only volume of any real import- 
ance subsequent to 1804 * s the " Fables of ^Esop," 
published in 18 18. If any books issued in the 
interval deserve a passing mention they are 
Thomson's "Seasons," 1805, the "Hive," 1806, 
Burns's "Poems/' 1808, and Fergusons " Poems," 
1 8 14. But the designs for the Thomson and 
Burns were prepared by John Thurston, and in 
the case of the latter it is stated by William 
Harvey that they were engraved by Bewick's 
pupil, Henry White. In the " Hive," again, the 
majority of the cuts are by Luke Clennell. 

The "Fables of iEsop and Others" 1 seems 

1 This must not be confused with the vamped- up volume 
issued in 1820 by Emerson Charnley under the title of " Select 
Fables ; with Cuts, Designed and Engraved by Thomas and 
John Bewick and Others [!], previous to the year 1784: To- 
gether with a Memoir; and a descriptive Catalogue of the Works 
of Messrs. Bewick." Charnley, an enterprising Newcastle pub- 
lisher, had become possessed of the majority of the blocks to the 
" Select Fables " (1784) and "Gay" (1779). To these he added 
a number of inferior cuts of early date, done chiefly for Saint, in- 
cluding some b'y Isaac Nicholson and " others," and he put forth 
the whole with the above title as " Vol. i. of Bewick's Works." 
The " Memoir " and " Descriptive Catalogue " were prepared by 
John Trotter Brockett, author of the "Glossary of North Country 
Words, in Use," 1825; and Charlton Nesbit, who engraved an 



ix.] 'sESOP'S FABLES; BEWICK'S DEATH. 135 

to have been begun in 181 2, after a severe illness, 
to which reference is made in the " Memoir." 
Bewick speaks of this book as if it had been a 
long-contemplated idea. " I could not (he says) 
. . . help regretting that I had not published a 
book similar to ' Croxall's ./Esop's Fables,' as I had 
always intended to do" [he seems to forget or 
ignore the " Select Fables "] ; and he goes on to 
say that, as soon as he was so far recovered as to 
be able to sit at the window, he began to " draw 
designs upon the wood" for the illustrations. In 
this work he expressly states that he was assisted 
by his son (R. E. Bewick), and two of his pupils, 
William Temple and William Harvey. It is 
probable that the bulk of the engraving fell to the 
share of these latter. But here, again, we come 
face to face with another of the unsolved, and 
to-day insoluble, questions of Bewick biography. 

excellent frontispiece-portrait of Bewick, after William Nicholson, 
repaired and retouched the blocks, — not to their advantage. This 
volume was produced with little consideration for Bewick's feelings 
and reputation. Its pretensions are well known to collectors ; 
but Mr. W. J. Linton has recently exposed them at large in the 
"Academy" for 22d March 1884. 



1 3 6 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



I n the "Treatise on Wood-Engraving" it is alleged 
that the majority of the water-colour drawings for 
"Bewick's Fables" were made by Robert Johnson 
"during his apprenticeship," and they are referred 
to in a note as if the writer were speaking de visu. 




since their "finish and accuracy" is dilated upon, 
and they are compared to " miniature Paul 
Potters."^ It is, of course, possible that this 
should be the case, but it seems at the same time 
exceedingly improbable that in preparing a book 

1 This note, wc have reason to believe, was written by or for 
Mr. Jnckson, 



ix.] 'jESOJP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 137 

in 1812, Bewick should have fallen back for his 
designs upon a set of illustrations made some 
twenty years before by a young man, who, more- 
over, had been in his grave since 1796. Unfortu- 
nately there is not, to the best of our recollection, 




a single allusion to Johnson in the whole of the 
" Memoir," unless, indeed, it is covered by a 
passage in which " the envy and ingratitude of 
some of my pupils" are obscurely hinted at. It 
is therefore hopeless now to speak with any cer- 
tainty upon the matter. 



i3« THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

As to the book itself, it bears much the same 
relation to Bewick's earlier work that the per- 
formances of a man's decline generally do to the 
first "sprightly runnings" of his genius. The 
impulse flags, but the effort is painfully increased. 
The cuts in " ^Esop " are more minute and more 
studied, less certain of stroke, less sparing of line. 
The basis of the designs, by whomsoever the 
majority may be, is avowedly Croxall. In the 
" Viper and the File," for instance, the composi- 
tion is larger and more minutely finished ; but the 
viper (and this is an improvement) is on the 
ground instead of on the bench. In the "Young 
Man and the Swallow" the artist has reverted, 
not we think wisely, to the classical prodigal of 
the earlier book. Some of the tailpieces are good 
and humorous ; but they are not equal to those 
of the " Quadrupeds " and " Birds." A man with a 
bundle at his back, whose shadow resembles the 
devil, appears to give the first hint of the ingen- 
ious shadow -pictures of the late C. H. Bennett. 
" Waiting for Death," at page 338, is one of the 
many variations of the large block upon which 



ix.] AESOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 



Bewick was occupied in his last days ; and accord- 
ing to Howitt, the inscription at page 152 — "O 
God of infinite Wisdom, Truth, Justice, and Mercy, 
I thank Thee," was Bewick's favourite form of 
prayer. The headstones at pages 162 and 176 
record the dates of the deaths of his father and 
mother ; and the final tailpiece is said by Mr. 




Hugo to represent John Bewick's funeral. In 
this case the church represented must be intended 
for a reversed copy of the one at Ovingham. The 
little tailpiece to the " Frogs and their King," apart 
from its special merit, affords us an opportunity of 
citing a thoroughly Ruskinesque passage which is 
devoted to it in "Ariadne Florentina," pp. 89, 90. 
"In this vignette he [Bewick] strikes definitely at 
the degradation of the viler popular mind which 



J*» 



» incapable of beaag go ve aa e d. became k caxmot 
uiaderstaad tbe zobveaes of kr-^J'T^ . . . There 
is an audience of seven frogs, fisiffljig to a speaker, 
or croaker, in the middle: and Bewick has set him- 
self to sbcnr in al but especially is the speaker, 
essential froggine&s of mind — the marsh temper. 
He could not have done it half so well in painting 
as he has done bv the abstraction of wood-out- 
line. The characteristic of a manly mind, or body, 
is to be gentle in temper, and firm in constitution ; 
the contrary essence of a froggy mind and body 
is to be angular in temper, and flabby in constitu- 
tion. I have enlarged Bewick's orator-frog for 
you [this refers to the plate in * Ariadne '],... 
and I think you will see he is entirely expressed in 
those essential particulars." 

Although the legend at the bottom of this cut 
in undoubtedly a facsimile of Bewick's hand- 
writing, it is, however, most likely that it was 
engraved by William Harvey, as it is wanting in 
noun: of the characteristics of Bewick's manner. 
A curious receipt is generally to be found bound 
up with copies of "./Esop's Fables." It is inter- 



ix.] 'sESOE'S FABLES; BEWICK'S DEATH. 141 

esting to collectors from the example which it 
gives of the signatures of the Bewicks, father and 
son, and for the famous thumb-mark, which also 
appears at page 175 of vol. i. of the "Birds." 
Another noticeable feature of this receipt is a 
piece of seaweed, which seems to lie over the 
central landscape, and was impressed upon it in 
red ink from a copperplate. Finally, it should 
be added that the " Preface" to the book, which 
deserves some of the praise lavished upon it by 
the artist's admirers, was written by Bewick him- 
self, who is also responsible for a few of the 
fables, that of the " Ship Dog " being from his 
hand. Another, composed for the same purpose, 
and entitled "The Alarm," was first published in 
the "Memoir" of 1862, — Bewick's printer, Mr. 
Walker, having made some objection to it, which 
led to its suppression in 1818. There are better 
examples of the author's prose, and its chief char- 
acteristic is the inordinate length of the "applica- 
tion," which is quite in Croxall's vein. The 
illustration, also by Bewick, which represents the 
imps of hell setting off "like a whirlwind, amidst 




If ■mi- f/f»-|if thf. HCcnunt of a brief visit paid 
in T'linLiir^li id \'A>\, when he made for Messrs. 
II ill iritV"' 1 iti'l kolif-rfson the only sketch upon 
llii ih.iif (the "( .nlgrr'jt Trot") which is known 
In h:n*i' cinnc from his hand, there is little of 



ix.] '^ESOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 143 

further biographical interest in Bewick's" Memoir." 
In the last year of his life he visited London ; but 
although the concluding date of the " Memoir" is 
1st November 1828, or only a few days before he 
died, it contains no reference to that occurrence. 
At this time, he was evidently in failing health ; 
and it is related that although his friend Mr. 
William Bulmer drove him to the Regent's Park, 
he declined to alight for the purpose of seeing the 
animals. But if the "Memoir" is deficient in 
merely personal particulars, it is by no means 
deficient in personality, as some dozen further 
chapters are exclusively occupied by those reflec- 
tions with which (as Dovaston informs us with 
complacent but comical gravity) " he generally 
relieved his powerful mind in the bosom of his 
very amiable family." To the ordinary reader 
these deliverances would be perhaps a little tedi- 
ous ; but, to the lover of Bewick who cares to 
know all about him, they will command the re- 
spect with which they are spoken of by Mr. 
Ruskin. Most of them are characterised by 
strong good sense and natural piety ; and in one 



1 4+ THOMAS BKZFICK. \csasl 

or two passages, as, tor insnmcr. when he writes 
on the topics of sejerrion in marriage and the 
education of children, consderabiv in advance of 
hi* time. 

Of what, however, would have interested us 
most, bis method and procedure in his arc he has 
little definite to tell us. It is possible — as he hints 
—that, in mistaken modesty, he shrunk from ob- 
truding his opinions. But the two chapters which 
contain references to this subject must serve as 
tmt pretext for recalling briefly the most obvious 
characteristics of his technique. 

In com paring Bewicks method as an engraver 
with that of the old woodcutters who reproduced 
the drawings of Durer and Holbein, two marked 
and well - defined differences become apparent 
One: of these is a difference in the preparation 
of tin: wood and the tool employed. The old 
woodcutter cut his design with a knife on strips of 
pntr or other wood sawn lengthwise — that is to 
•wy, upon the plank; Bewick used a graver and 
worked upon slices of box cut across the grain — 
that U to say, upon the end of the wood. The other 



ix.] '^SOB'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. t45 

difference, of which Bewick is said to be the 
inventor, consisted in the employment of what is 
known technically as "white line." In all ante- 
cedent woodcutting, the workman had simply 
cleared away those portions of the block left bare 
by the design, so that the design remained in 
relief to be printed from like type. When done 
skilfully, and with enlightened appreciation of 
the essential quality — the vigour or delicacy — 
of the original design, the result obtained in this 
way is a practical facsimile. Clennell's copies of 
Stothard's pen-and-ink sketches for the Rogers 
of 1810 are good examples in point. Bewick, 
however, though of course working sometimes 
in facsimile, generally proceeded in a different 
fashion. He directed his attention less to the 
portions of the block which he was to leave than 
to those he was to remove. Those spaces or 
lines which in the impression would print black, 
he left to take care of themselves ; those he chiefly 
regarded were the spaces and lines which would 
print white. In other words, whether the design 
to be copied was brush or pencil — in tint or stroke 



i4$ THOMAS REWTCKL [chap. 



drew it upon the block with his grayer in 
white line. This is a bare way of explaining his 
modus operandi; but a glance at the background 
of some of his cnts, sav the •* Yellow Hammer" at 
p. roo, will make it plainer than any written de- 
scription. Again, his gradations of colour wane 
obtained almost exclusively by the use of single 
lines as opposed to cross-hatching ; and here 
also his mode of approaching his work from 
the white rather than the black side was an 
advantage, 

" I never," he says ? speaking of cross-hatching, 
" could discover any additional beauty or colour 
that the crossed strokes gave to the impression, 
beyond the effect produced by plain parallel lines. 
This is very apparent when to a certainty- the 
plain surface of the wood will print as black as 
ink and balls can make it, without any further 
labour at all ; and it may easily be seen that the 
thinnest strokes cut upon the plain surface will 
throw some light on the subject or design : and, if 
these strokes are made wider and deeper, it will 
receive more light ; and if these strokes, again, 



ix.] '^SOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 147 

are made still wider, or of equal thickness to the 
black lines, the colour these produce will be a 
grey ; and the more the white strokes are thick- 
ened, the nearer will they, in their varied shad- 
ings, approach to white, and, if quite taken away, 
then a perfect white is obtained." 

Another feature of Bewick's method, which 
his daughter and editor regarded as "peculiar to 
himself," was his habit of "lowering" his blocks 
to lighten the impression where necessary. No 
doubt he himself hit upon this expedient inde- 
pendently, but it seems to have been well known 
to some of the earlier engravers, including Crox- 
all's artist. The following passage, from Chapter 
xxii. of the " Memoir," refers, inter alia, to this 
process : — 

" The first difficulty I felt, as I proceeded, 
was in getting the cuts I had executed printed so 
as to look anything like my drawings on the blocks 
of wood, nor (sic) corresponding to the labour I 
had bestowed upon the cutting of the designs. 
At that time pressmen were utterly ignorant as to 
any proper effect that was to be produced ; or 



1 4 8 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

even, if one of them possessed any notions of 
excellence beyond the common run of workmen, 
his materials for working were so defective that 
he could not execute even what he himself wished 
to accomplish. The common pelt-balls then in use, 
so daubed the cut, and blurred and overlapped its 
edges, that the impression looked disgusting. To 
remedy this defect I was obliged carefully to 
shave down the edges round about ; and this 
answered the end I had in view. The next diffi- 
culty was worse to surmount, and required a long 
time to get over it ; and that was, to lower down 
the surface on all the parts I wished to appear 
pale, so as to give the appearance of the required 
distance ; and this process will always continue to 
call forth and to exercise the judgment of every 
wood-engraver, even after he knows what effect 
his careful pressman may be enabled to produce 
from this his manner of cutting. On this all 
artists must form their own ideas. I think no 
exact description can be laid down as a rule for 
others to go by : they will by practice have to 
find out this themselves." 



ix.] '^SOP'S FABLES, 1 BEWICK'S DEATH. 149 

It may be added that " no exact description " 
of Bewick's method will make a Bewick, any more 
than staring at his worn-out graving tools and 
eye-glass, which were displayed in the Bond Street 
Exhibition, will make an engraver. In technique, 
although the principle of "white line" is still re- 
cognised, many improvements have taken place, 
and modern wood-engraving has resources never 
foreseen by its northern restorer and reviver. 
There are, besides, many designers on the block 
to-day, compared with whom, by what Mr. Hamer- 
ton styles his "tonic arrangement," by his con- 
ventional rendering of details, and by his general 
treatment of his subject, Bewick must seem an 
unlettered amateur. But his gift as a naturalist 
and humourist still remains unaltered, — personal, 
unique, incommunicable. It is this quality which 
attracts to him that large majority who are neither 
artists nor engravers ; and it is in virtue of this, 
and his sincerity and honesty as a man, that his 
work will continue to live. 

Shortly before his death Bewick retired from 
the business in favour of his son, who continued to 



THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 




carry it on at the shop in St. Nicholas's Church- 
yard, where for nearly fifty years his father had 
laboured. It was in the upper room of this house, 



ex.] 'sESOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 151 

we are told — the room which has in our sketch 
two windows in the roof — that Bewick preferred 
to work in his latter days. The old shop still 
presents the same appearance that it did then, 
the only difference being that the signboard 
bearing the words " Bewick and Son, Engravers," 
is now replaced by a tablet identifying the spot. 
On one of the windows, his name, scratched by 
a diamond, and the profile of a face, are ex- 
hibited with pride by the present occupants. His 
residence, after he moved from the Forth, was a 
house on the Windmill Hills, Gateshead, which 
then commanded a view of the Tyne, but is now 
simply No. 19 West Street. Here, after his 
retirement, Bewick continued to employ himself 
upon the "History of British Fishes," some of the 
blocks for which were printed at the end of the 
" Memoir; " while a further selection of the tail- 
pieces, already drawn upon for the "Birds" of 
1847, are dispersed in the body of the book. 
The last vignette upon which Bewick was en- 
gaged was that of the ferry-boat waiting for the 
coffin, at page 286 of the " Memoir," and before 



iSi THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

referred to in these pages. But the chief work of 
his closing days was a large separate woodcut, 
in which it was his aim, by printing from two 
or more blocks, to produce something of the 
variety of tint and effect obtained in the copper- 
plates of Woollett. The subject he selected was 
a lean-ribbed and worn-out horse, waiting patiently 
in the rain for death. This he intended to serve 
as one of those cheap prints for the walls of 
cottages which had been familiar to his boyhood, 
and he proposed to dedicate it to the " Society for 
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals." With 
some such view he had already, as early as 1785, 
drawn up a graphic biography of his broken-down 
model. Besides being an excellent introduction to 
his design, it is thoroughly characteristic both of 
its author's literary style and his sympathies with 
equine misery. We therefore reproduce it here, 
in all the integrity of its italics. 

"Waiting for Death. 
" In the morning of his days he was handsome 
— sleek as a raven, sprightly and spirited, and 



ix.] •jESOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH, i S3 

was then much caressed and happy. When he 
grew to perfection in his performances — even on 
the turf, and afterwards in the chase and in the 
field — he was equalled by few of his kind. At 
one time of his life he saved that of his master, 
whom he bore in safety across the rapid flood, but 
having, in climbing the opposite rocky shore, 
received a blemish, it was thought prudent to 
dispose of him, after which he fell into the hands 
of different masters ; but from none of them did 
he ever eat the bread of idleness, and as he grew 
in years his cup of misery was still augmented 
with bitterness. 

"It was once his hard lot to fall into the hands 
of Skinflint, a horse-keeper — an authorised whole- 
sale and retail dealer in cruelty — who employed 
him alternately, but closely, as a hack, both in the 
chaise and for the saddle ; for when the traces 
and trappings used in the former had peeled the 
skin from off his breast, shoulders, and sides, he 
was then, as his back was whole, thought fit for 
the latter; indeed, his exertions in this service of 
unfeeling avarice and folly were great beyond 



i54 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

belief. He was always late and early made ready 
for action — he was never allowed to rest. Even 
on the Sabbath day, because he could trot well, 
had a good bottom, and was the best hack in 
town, and it being a day of pleasure and pastime, 
he was much sought after by beings in appear- 
ance something like gentlemen, in whose hands 
his sufferings were greater than his nature could 
bear. Has not the compassionate eye beheld him 
whipped, spurred, and galloped beyond his strength 
in order to accomplish double the length of the 
journey that he was engaged to perform, till, by 
the inward grief expressed in his countenance, 
he seemed to plead for mercy, one would have 
thought, most powerfully ? But alas ! in vain. 
In the whole load which he bore, as was often 
the case, not an ounce of humanity could be 
found ; and, his rider being determined to have 
pennyworths for his money, the ribs of this silent 
slave, where not a hair had for long been suffered 
to grow, were still ripped up. He was pushed 
forward through a stony rivulet, then on hard 
road against the hill, and having lost a shoe, split 



ix.] 'sESOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 155 

his hoof, and being quite spent with hunger and 
fatigue, he fell, broke his nose and his knees, and 
was unable to proceed ; and becoming greased, 
spavined, ringboned, blind of an eye, and the skin 
by repeated friction being worn off all the large 
prominences of his body, he was judged to be 
only fit for the dogs. However, one shilling and 
sixpence beyond the dog-horse price saved his 
life, and he became the property of a poor dealer 
and horse doctor. 

" It is amazing to think upon the vicissitudes 
of his life. He had often been burnished up, his 
teeth defaced by art, peppered under his tail, had 
been the property of a general, a gentleman, a 
farmer, a miller, a butcher, a higgler, and a maker 
of brooms. A hard winter coming on, a want of 
money and a want of meat obliged his poor owner 
to turn him out to shift for himself. His former 
fame and great value are now to him not worth 
a handful of oats. But his days and nights of 
misery are now drawing to an end ; so that, after 
having faithfully dedicated the whole of his powers 
and his time to the service of unfeeling man, he is 



1 56 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

at last turned out, unsheltered and unprotected, to 
starve of hunger and of cold." 

On the Saturday previous to Bewick's death, 
which took place, after a few days' illness, on the 
8th of November 1828, he had the first block of 
the old horse proved. It was then unfinished, the 
head being only partly engraved, but he is said 
to have observed to the pressman, upon inspect- 
ing the proof, " I wish I was but twenty years 
younger ! " Copies of this were struck off in 1832 
by R. E. Bewick, with this inscription — "Waiting 
for Death : Bewick's Last Work, left unfinished, 
and intended to have been completed by a Series 
of Impressions from Separate Blocks printed over 
each other." In recent years it has again been 
carefully reprinted on parchment and paper for 
Mr. Robinson, of Pilgrim Street. 

Bewick is buried at the west end of Oving- 
ham Church, lying, as he hoped, beside his brother 
John, and near the place of his birth. In his last 
illness his mind wandered repeatedly to the green 
fields and brooks of Cherryburn ; and once, on 



ix.] '<£SOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 157 

being asked in a waking moment what had occu- 
pied his thoughts, he replied, with a faint smile, 
"that he had been devising subjects for some 
new tailpieces." The chief features of his personal 
character will already have been gathered from 
what has preceded. It is only necessary to add 
here that he seems to have been a thoroughly 
upright and honourable man, independent but 
unassuming, averse to display of all kinds, very 
methodical, very industrious, devoted to his fire- 
side, his own people, and that particular patch of 
earth which constituted his world. In such scant 
glimpses as we get of him in letters and the 
recollections of friends, it is chiefly under some 
of these latter aspects. Now he is chatting in his 
broad speech * to the country folk in the market- 

1 Bewick, says Mr. Atkinson, spoke grammatically, and with 
well-chosen and forcible words, but his pronunciation was broad, 
and marked by all the varied intonation of Northumbrians. He 
was exceedingly clever in imitating the language of bis country- 
men, and sometimes scribbled down his recollections of scenes in 
his early life for the amusement of his friends. Of one of these 
Mr. Atkinson prints a fragment : — 

"'Aehy — Aehy.'kih she, 'yeh may say what yeh leyke, but Ize 
suer aws reet, aw ken well eneugh when he was bwoam, fir I meynd 
aw was up at the Mistrisses suen ee th' moaming, ith th' howl oh 



1 58 THOMAS BE WICK. [chap. 

place, or making friends with some vagrant speci- 
men of the brute creation ; now throwing off a 
sketch at the kitchen table "to please the bairns," 
or working diligently at the "Birds" in the winter 
evenings to the cheering sound of his beloved 

wounter, when in cam little Jenny runnin — "Muther! Muther!" 
sez she, "there cums little Andra Karr, plish-plash throw the 
clarts [mire], thockin and blowin, wiv his heels poppin out ov 
clogs every step, leyke twe little reed taties — wiv a hare's scut iv 
his hat, and the crown of his head and teheyteed hair stanning 
up throw't." " Poor fellow" (sez the Mistriss)," aws warn a keahm 
hesn't been iv his head this twe months — Andra, Andra ! — whats 
the mayter? . . . "Wheez there" (sez the Mistriss)? "Wey, 
there's our Dehym, an Isbel, and Barbary, and aw so oad Mary, 
cummin tappy lappy [full speed] owr the Stob-Cross-Hill, and 
Jack Gorfoot galloping by Anty's garth neuk on the oad gray 
meer, with Margery the Howdy behint him, fit to brik their 
necks!" — "Aehy" (sez the Mistriss), "and I mun away tee — 
whares the' fayther, Andra?" "Wey" (sez Andra), "I so him 
stannun at th J lown end oh the Byer, wouv his jazey neetcap on, 
and his hands iv his kwoat pockets, beayth thrimpt owr his thees — 
and glowrin about, but I saw nowse he wis leukin at." — " Sit 
down Andra — oh the trow steahyn " — see doon sat Andra, and 
weyhpt his nwoase on his kwoat kuff — "meayk heayst lass, an 
bring him (poor fella) a shive of butter and breed — cut him a 
good lounge, an strenkle a teahyt oh sugar on't," ' " etc. 

This passage, with its graphic minuteness of detail, shows that 
Bewick could describe as vividly as he could draw, and makes 
one regret that more of these studies in dialect have not been 
preserved. Meanwhile Margery the Howdie and Jack Gorfoot 
survive in one of the tailpieces to the " Land Birds," 1797, p. 1 57. 



ix.] 'AESOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 159 

Northumberland pipes. Towards the close of 
his life many inquiring, and some distinguished 
visitors found their way to the little house in 
West Street One of these, the American natu- 
ralist Audubon, has left a detailed account of his 
impressions, which gives a pleasant picture of the 
old man and his surroundings. Audubon reached 
Newcastle in the middle of April 1827. "Bewick 
must have heard of my arrival," ... he says, 
" before 1 had an opportunity of calling upon him, 
for he sent me by his son the following note : — ' T. 
Bewick's compliments to Mr. Audubon, and will 
be glad of the honour of his company this day to 
tea at six o'clock.' These few words at once 
proved to me the kindness of his nature, and, as 
my labours were closed for the day, I accompanied 
the son to his father's house. . . . 

"At length we reached the dwelling of the 
Engraver, and I was at once shown to his work- 
shop. There I met the old man, who, coming 
towards me, welcomed me with a hearty shake of 
the hand, and for a moment took off a cotton 
night-cap, somewhat soiled by the smoke of the 



i6o THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

place. He was a tall stout man, with a large 
head, and with eyes placed farther apart than 
those of any man that I have ever seen : — a perfect 
old Englishman, full of life, although seventy-four 
years of age, active and prompt in his labours. 
Presently he proposed showing me the work he 
was at, and went on with his tools. It was a 
small vignette, cut on a block of boxwood not 
more than three by two inches in surface, and 
represented a dog frightened at night by what 
he fancied to be living objects, but which were 
actually roots and branches of trees, rocks, and 
other objects bearing the semblance of men. 1 
This curious piece of art, like all his works, was 
exquisite, and more than once did I feel strongly 
tempted to ask a rejected bit, but was prevented 
by his inviting me upstairs, where, he said, I 
should soon meet all the best artists of New- 
castle. 

"There I was introduced to the Misses Bewick, 
amiable and affable ladies, who manifested all 
anxiety to render my visit agreeable. Among 

1 Vide " Memoir," 1862, p. 134, 



ix.] <&SOP'S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 161 

the visitors I saw a Mr. Goud, 1 and was highly 
pleased with one of the productions of his pencil, 
a full-length miniature in oil of Bewick, well drawn, 
and highly finished. 

"The old gentleman and I stuck to each other, 
he talking of my drawings, I of his woodcuts. 
Now and then he would take off his cap, and 
draw up his gray worsted stockings to his nether 
clothes; but whenever our conversation became 
animated, the replaced cap was left sticking as if 
by magic to the hind part of his head, the ne- 
glected hose resumed their downward tendency, 
his fine eyes sparkled, and he delivered his senti- 
ments with a freedom and vivacity which afforded 
me great pleasure. He said he had heard that 
my drawings had been exhibited in Liverpool, 
and felt great anxiety to see some of them, which 
he proposed to gratify by visiting me early next 
morning along with his daughters and a few 
friends. Recollecting at this moment how desir- 

1 This was T. S. Good of Berwick, a too little-known artist, 
four of whose pictures are in the National Gallery. His portrait 
of Bewick is now in the Newcastle Natural History Society's 
Museum. 

H 



162 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

ous my sons, then in Kentucky, were to have a 
copy of his works on Quadrupeds, I asked him 
where I could procure one, when he immediately 
answered ' Here,' and forthwith presented me with 
a beautiful set. 

" The tea-drinking having in due time come 
to an end, young Bewick, to amuse me, brought a 
bagpipe of a new construction, called the Durham 
Pipe, and played some simple Scotch, English, 
and Irish airs, all sweet and pleasing to my taste. 
I could scarcely understand how, with his large 
fingers, he managed to cover each hole separately. 
The instrument sounded somewhat like a haut- 
boy, and had none of the shrill warlike notes or 
booming sound of the military bagpipe of the 
Scotch Highlanders. The company dispersed at 
an early hour, and when I parted from Bewick 
that night, I parted from a friend." 

Audubon seems to have visited Bewick on 
several subsequent occasions, and they separated 
with mutual regret. He met him but once again 
after leaving the North. This was when the old 
man paid his before-mentioned visit to London. 



ix.] 'AiSOP'S FABLES: BEWICK'S DEATH. 163 

"Our interview was short but agreeable, and 
when he bade adieu, I was certainly far from 
thinking that it might be the last But so 
it was, for only a very short time had elapsed 
when I saw his death announced in the news- 
papers." ' 

Bewick's family consisted of a son and three 
daughters, all of whom survived him. His wife, 
to whom he was devotedly attached, and with 
whom (he says) he had spent " a lifetime of un- 
interrupted happiness," died in February 1826, 
aged seventy-two. She seldom figures in the 
"Memoir," but the following letter, written to her 
by her husband from Wycliffe in 1791, gives a 
pleasant idea of their relations. Had it not 
been already published in the " Natural History 
Transactions of Northumberland," etc., there 
might have been a certain hesitation in giving 
so domestic a communication to the world. 
As it is, no one, we think, can read it without 
being struck by its genuine and simply expressed 
affection. 

1 "Ornithological Biography," 1835, iii. pp. 300- I, 303. 



164 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

" Wycliffe, Aug. 8th, 1791. 
"My Dear Bell — I never opened a letter 
with more anxiety nor read one with more plea- 
sure in my life than I did my Bell's, last week. To 
hear of you being all well gave me the greatest of 
pleasures. How desirous am I to hear of your still 
continuing so. — My dear little boy is hardly ever 
out of my mind. I hope the sea will mend him. 
If upon my return I find him recovered I think I 
shall be frantic with joy. — I ndeed if upon my 
return I find you all well 1 shall look upon my 
fireside at the Forth like a little Heaven. — I hope 
I shall, when I return, but I think it will be about 
3 weeks yet before I have that pleasure. The 
young Gentleman has sent Mr. Collier notice that 
he will not be at this place till the latter end of 
the month. I have plenty of work before me to 
keep me closely employed a much longer time 
but I am tired out already and wish it was over. 
I have dulled myself with sticking to it so closely. . 
In short I lose no time in order to get through 
with the business. When you write again tell me 
when you will be at the Forth lest I should be at 



ix.] 'sESOP'S FABLES; BEWICK'S DEATH. 165 

a loss where to direct to you. Also tell me how 
you all are for that is everything with me. Take 
care when you return to the Forth lest the beds 
should be damp by your long absence. Tell Jane 
and Robert that if they behave well I will let 
them see a vast of little pictures of Birds when I 
come home, and I hope my little Bell will be able 
to say more than dadda when I see her again. — I 
am, with compls. to all, my Bell's loving husband, 
Thomas Bewick." 

Robert Elliot Bewick, the " Robert " of this 
letter, and the musician of the Durham pipe, died 
unmarried in July 1849, and was buried in Oving- 
ham Churchyard. He seems all his life to have 
suffered from ill-health. He copied nature with 
great fidelity, and was exceedingly minute and 
patient ; but as an engraver he never developed 
the latent talent which his father believed him to 
possess. Besides some undistinguished assistance 
in the " Fables of iEsop," he worked upon the 
projected " History of British Fishes." The 
" Maigre," a copperplate of which is given at the 



i66 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

end of the " Memoir," bears his signature ; and 
in the same book Miss Bewick says that her 
brother left behind him " about fifty highly-finished 
and accurately-coloured drawings of fishes 1 from 
nature, together with a portion of the descriptive 
matter relating to the work," which he had pur- 
posed to complete, although he never carried out 
his intention. Perhaps, as he once told a gentle- 
man at Newcastle, he was honestly " afeard," and 
recognised his incapacity to follow with credit in 
his father's footsteps. Of the three daughters, 
the youngest, Elizabeth, died in 1865. Jane, the 
eldest of the family, who edited the " Memoir," 
survived until 7th April 1881, being then ninety- 
four. She is described as a most delightful and 
intelligent old lady, full of affectionate veneration 
for Thomas Bewick's memory, and abounding in 
anecdote respecting his works and ways.* The 
only remaining member of the group, Isabella, 

1 These drawings, which form part of the Bewick bequest to 
the British Museum, are very beautiful. Special attention may 
be drawn to those of the Gurnard, the Lump Sucker, and the 
John Dory. 

s An extract from one of her letters is printed at pp. 5 1 -2 (note). 



ix.] '.£SOJ»S FABLES,' BEWICK'S DEATH. 167 

lingered for two years longer, and died in June 
1883, aged ninety-three. Not long before her 
death she anticipated a bequest which she had 
agreed upon with her sister Jane, and trans- 
ferred to the British Museum a number of water- 
colours and woodcuts by her father, his brother 
John, and his son. Some further family relics — 
engravings, books, and so forth — were lately 
(February 1884) sold at Newcastle by order of 
Miss Isabella Bewick's executors, who have also 
since presented several valuable portraits, draw- 
ings, and prints to the Newcastle Natural History 
Society's Museum. 1 At a future sale, a which Is 
to take place in London, the blocks for the two 
volumes of the " Birds," the "Quadrupeds," the 
" Fables of ./Esop," and the " Memoir," all of 
which are said to be in excellent condition, will 
come under the hammer. These represent, or 
perhaps we should say include, most of Bewick's 
masterpieces. The remaining blocks of import- 

1 A list of these is to be found at the end of this volume. 

a This sale took place on the 6th May 1884, the blocks 
becoming the property of Messrs. Ward of Newcastle (Miss 
Bewick's legatees) for ^2350. 



i68 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

ance, the "Select Fables" excepted, belong to 
Newcastle collectors, — the majority of them {i.e. 
those for " Goldsmith's and Parnell's Poems," 
Somervile's " Chase," the " Hive," etc.) being at 
present in the hands of Mr. Robert Robinson, 
of Pilgrim Street " Waiting for Death " and the 
" Chillingham Bull " are owned by Mr. Thomas 
Gow of Cambo; while Mr. T. W. U. Robinson, 
of Hough ton -le-Spring, has the " Bay Pony" em- 
ployed in 1 80 1 as the frontispiece to the pamphlet 
entitled the " Sportsman's Friend." 

There are numerous likenesses of Bewick. 
Hi's grandniece. Miss Bewick of Cherryburn, has 
a picture of him when young by George Gray. 
Then there is the well-known engraving by T. A. 
Kidd in 1798, after Miss Kirkley. At West 
Street, when Miss Isabella Bewick died, were 
two portraits, one being that by Good of Berwick, 
which Audubon refers to ; the other the original 
of the plate issued by Burnet in 1817, after James 
Ramsay. 1 At the National Portrait Gallery is 

1 This, together with the Good, the Kirkley, and Plymer's 
and Summerfield's miniatures, is now in the Newcastle Natural 
History Society's Museum. 



THOMAS BE WICK. 



[CHAP. IX. 



peculiarities of the veins on the temple, the quid 
in the lip [Bewick, like Henry Fielding, indulged 
in the objectionable habit of 'chewing'], and the 
tufts of hair in the ears." It is said that the artist 
wished to drape his model in the classic manner. 
The old man, however, with the imperious per- 
tinacity of a Cromwell, insisted upon absolute 
fidelity, not merely to his coat and ruffled shirt, 
but to the " beauty spots," as he called them, 
which the smallpox had left upon his face. 




CHAPTER X. 



CHARLTON NESBIT. 



Writing to George Lawford, the publisher, in 
February 1828, not many months before his death, 
and speaking of the first series of Northcote's 
" Fables," Bewick says : "Little did I think, while 
I was sitting whistling at my workbench, 1 that wood- 
engraving would be brought so conspicuously for- 
ward, and that I should have pupils to take the 
lead, in that branch of the art, in the great Metro- 
polis ; but old as 1 am, and tottering on the down- 
hill of life, my ardour is not a bit abated, and I 
hope those who have succeeded me will pursue 
that department of engraving still further towards 
perfection." The accent of satisfaction in these 

1 Bewick was an indefatigable whistler, an accomplishment 
upon which Dovaston dilates with his accustomed grandiloquence. 



173 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

words is not unnatural, and the improvement of 
wood-engraving since they were penned has cer- 
tainly been greater than Bewick ever anticipated. 
Still, it would be a mistake to suppose that its 
progress down to 1828, and, indeed, for some years 
subsequently, was either very rapid or very re- 
markable. Since the publication of the second 
volume of the "Birds," in 1804, Bewick himself 
had done nothing of importance, with the excep- 
tion of " ./Esop's Fables." Johnson and John 
Bewick had long been dead. Charlton Nesbit, 
the most distinguished of the elder pupils as an 
engraver pure and simple, had retired to his 
native village, and might practically be regarded 
as forgotten. Luke Clennell, the genius of the 
group, had been insane since 1817, and for some 
time before had transferred his energies to paint- 
ing ; while Harvey, Bewick's favourite, was fast 
acquiring a reputation as a designer. A few pro- 
fessed draughtsmen upon wood and half a dozen 
engravers seem to have sufficed to the demand. 
" The professors of wood-engraving [in Bewick's 
time]," says Fairholt, "might be counted by units." 



x.] CHARLTON NESBJT. 173 

" There were not more than three masters in 
London who had sufficient business to employ, 
even occasionally, an assistant, and to keep an 
apprentice or two," says another writer. If we 
turn from these authorities to such treatises as 
Landseer's and Craig's " Lectures," the record of 
wood-engraving is meagre and apologetic, and it 
is easy to see that it was scarcely regarded as a 
formidable rival to engraving upon metal. But 
in 1828, when Bewick wrote the above letter, its 
hour was not the less at hand. The publications 
of the recently established " Society for the Dif- 
fusion of Useful Knowledge " were already offer- 
ing it a field which promised to be extensive. 
Then in 1832 came the "Penny Magazine" and 
the "Saturday Magazine," 1 which, aided by the 

1 " The art of wood-engraving itself has received an astonishing 
impetus from these publications. The engraver, instead of working 
merely with his own hands, has been obliged to take five or six 
pupils to get through the work " (Mr. Cowper's evidence before 
the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures, 1835). It is 
difficult nowadays to understand what a revelation these two 
periodicals, with their representations of far countries and foreign 
animals, of masterpieces of painting and sculpture, were to middle- 
class households fifty years ago. The present writer, though he 
can scarcely go back so far, still remembers, with gratitude, that 



174 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

improvements in stereotype founding, gave an 
extraordinary impetus to wood-engraving, and the 
names of Jackson and Branston and Landells, of 
the two Whympers and Sears, of Bonner, Baxter, 
Lee, began to be current on men's tongues. As, 
with the decline of the "Annuals," engraving on 
steel and copper, for purposes of book illustration, 
gradually fell into disuse, engraving on wood 
increased in scope and popularity, and its advance 
since that time has been continuous and un- 
checked. 

From what has been said above it will be 
gathered that Bewick had no "school," in the 
sense in which that word is used by those who 
inherit the manner and the method of some 
individual artist. The pupils who quitted him to 
seek their fortunes in London, either made their 
way with difficulty or turned to other pursuits, 
and the real popularisation of wood-engraving 
did not take place until some years after his death. 

to Mr. Fairholt's careful copies of Hogarth's prints in the old 
" Penny Magazine," he is indebted for an enthusiasm which has 
never since deserted him. 



x. ] CHARL TON NESBJT. 1 7 5 

Still, the careers of his principal apprentices are 
not wholly without interest ; and some brief 
account of them will not be out of place. 

Charlton Nesbit, who comes first in order, 
has this in particular, that, unlike Harvey and 
Clennell, he lived and died an engraver. As a 
matter of course he was a draughtsman, but we 
have found no record that he either painted or 
designed, at all events to any extent. Accident, 
moreover, appears to have favoured this limitation 
of his functions, for the acquirement of sufficient 
independent means in middle life made it un- 
necessary for him to follow up very pertinaciously 
what, about 1810, was apparently a precarious 
calling, still less to turn to other departments of 
art for a subsistence. Little is known respecting 
his life that is unconnected with his work. He 
was the son of a keelman at Swalwell, a town in 
Durham, on the banks of the Tyne, and was born 
in 1775. About 1789 he was apprenticed to 
Bewick and Beilby; and it is alleged that the 
bird's nest which figures above the preface to 



I7& THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

vol. i. of the " Birds," 1 as well as the majority of 
the vignettes and tailpieces to the " Poems of 
Goldsmith and Parnell," were engraved by him 
during his pupilage. In 1797 or 8, he executed a 




block of St. N icholas's Church, after a water-colour 
drawing by Robert Johnson, which is still in the 
possession of a Newcastle collector. For this he 

1 In the " Treatise on Wood-Engraving " it is stated that he 
drew it as well ; and we have reason to believe that he himself 

supplied this information to Mr. Chatto, 



x.] CHARLTON NESBIT. 177 

received, not the "gold palette," as stated by 
Mackenzie, nor "a medal," as stated by Mr. - 
Chatto, but the lesser silver palette of the " Society 
of Arts," to whom he presented an impression 
of the cut, at that time one of the largest ever 
engraved, as it measured, with the border, fifteen 
inches by twelve. About 1 799 he came to London. 
In 1802 he obtained a silver medal from the 
Society of Arts for " Engravings on Wood," being 
then described as " Mr. C. Nesbit,of Fetter Lane." 
In 1815 he returned to his native place, where he 
lived in retirement, working at rare intervals for 
the London and Newcastle booksellers. He 
visited London again in 1830, and died at Queen's 
Elm, Brompton, in November 1838. 

The two principal designers upon the wood 
when Nesbit first came to London were John 
Thurston, originally a copperplate engraver, and 
William Marshall Craig, a miniature painter, 
water-colour painter, and artistic jack-of -all-trades. 
The former drew with exceptional skill, and 
thoroughly understood the requirements of his 
material ; the latter, who designated himself "draw- 



i7» THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

jng-master to the Princess Charlotte of Wales," 
and in 1821 had acquired sufficient position to 
lecture before the " Royal Institution," was a 
person of greatly inferior abilities. From the fact 
that " Nesbit, sc." is to be found as early as 1800 
upon the frontispiece of. an edition of Bloomfield's 
" Farmer's Boy," published by Vernor and Hood, 
it is clear that he must have been employed almost 
immediately upon the work of Thurston, by whom 
this particular illustration was designed ; and his 
(Nesbit's) name is also included among the other 
engravers engaged by Craig for the commonplace 
"Scripture Illustrated" issued in 1806. Many 
of the cuts to Wallis and Scholey's " History of 
England " also bear Nesbit's signature. But his 
best work about this date is to be found in the 
"Religious Emblems" published by Ackermann 
in 1 809. This, according to the preface, was in- 
tended by its projector " to draw into one focus 
all the talent of the day " ; and, as a landmark in 
the history of wood-engraving in England, its 
position is a conspicuous one. The designs — and 
the fact is significant after the foregoing announce- 



x.] CHARLTON NESBIT. 179 

ment — were without exception supplied by Thur- 
ston. 1 Regarded from an art point of view, and 
as designs alone, it is impossible to praise these 
very highly. Compared with Adrian van der 
Venne's illustrations to the emblems of Jacob Cats, 
or even with the efforts of the late C. H. Bennett, 
they show a poverty of invention which at times 
is almost beggarly. The " Destruction of Death 
and Sin " is typified by two prostrate figures at 
the foot of a cross ; " Fertilising Rills " is a land- 
scape that might stand for anything; "Fainting 
for the Living Waters " is a limp female figure 
hanging Mazeppa-like upon a wounded stag ; and 
Death felling trees is the only thing which the 
artist could think of to symbolise pictorially the 
common fate of humanity. These, however, are 
the least successful plates, and, setting imagination 
aside, they are nearly all distinguished by skill in 
composition and the arrangement of light and 
shade. Besides those by Nesbit, the cuts are 

1 So says the title-page. But there is a water-colour of an 
" allegorical subject," by Henry Tresham, R.A., at South Ken- 
sington, which strangely resembles Thurston's " Sinners hiding in 
the Grave." Tresham died in 1814. 



i Bo THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

engraved by Branston, Clennell, and Hole, — the 
last two being also pupils of Bewick. Hole's 
solitary " Seed Sown " is one of the best pieces of 
work in the book. Clennell and Branston are 
about equal in merit, but the honours belong 
to Nesbit. His "Hope Departing," "Joyful 
Retribution," and "Sinners Hiding in the Grave," 
the first especially, are almost faultless examples 
of patient and accomplished execution. " The 
World Weighed," the " Daughters of Jerusalem," 
and "Wounded in the Mental Eye," are nearly as 
good ; but as compositions they are less attractive 
than the others, and do not offer the same oppor- 
tunities for the skilful opposition of black and 
white which seems specially to characterise 
Nesbit's manner. Yet, all things considered, they 
afford better examples of his abilities than either 
the large cut of " Rinaldo and Armida," or the 
illustrations — gems as some of them are — to 
Northcote's " Fables." 

The " Rinaldo and Armida" is Nesbit's most 
ambitious block. It was engraved in 1818 for 
the "Practical Hints on Decorative Printing" 



x.] CHAKLTVN NJiM/'f j*j 



of William Savage, the j^rinter, whi<:h, aJur lony 
delays, was published in 1X22. One feature of the 
book was to have been four hi^hly-hnislutd plau^ 
by the most eminent wood-engrav-ers of the day. 
But Bewick (whose name aj.>j>ears on the Jisi of 
subscribers) was too busy with " /l^sop's J'ablcs" 
to give any assistance : Oenne.U, wlio was to have 
engraved a drawing by Stothard, hod already 
broken down : and JJranston and IN'esbn were 
the only contributors. 'J hey engraved ihn.-e ol 
Thurston's design*. Jiranston's subjeei, horn Hook 
I. of the " J*'aeri«* Ou<rii," was ihe "i'ave oj 
Despair/' which ranks as on* of i J i * - ariisi s most 
successful cono-.pi ions. j\'« sbii's were ihe "I'cinale 
and Boy/ of which an ehxiroiype is given al page 
69 of Linton's "Minis on Wood hnyraviug," and 
" Rinaldo and Armida" in fja e/M hauled garden, 
from the "Oerusaieinnu- I jberaia " of lasso. As 
far as the e*e< ution of ill*: background and acces- 
sories of the litiu-r is umwiwl, wti doubt if they 
could be excelled, even ad this day; but the figures 
have a "dotted appearance/' resulting from the 
fact that TlmrtUm required the engraver to reduce 



i82 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

the strength of the lines, which were " originally 
continuous and distinct." Apart from this, how- 
ever, the knight and enchantress are poorly and 
even unpleasantly conceived. The " soft breast " 
of Armida, which recurs so often in the fine old 
translation of Fairfax, has the hardness and polish 
of metal ; while the figure of Rinaldo is marked 
by a reposeless and over-accented muscularity, 
which seems to have been one of Thurston's 
besetting sins. To give rarity to this block, it 
was defaced by criss-cross saw-marks, and impres- 
sions taken after it had been so treated are given 
in Savage's book as an evidence of good faith. 
As might have been predicted, the block was later 
carefully repaired, and copies of it are still to be 
found in the market as " original impressions." 
Such a one (bought, alas! in too confiding a 
moment) lies now before us ; and it must be 
admitted that the traces of the merciless steel 
have been filled in with remarkable ingenuity, 
although they are easily detected by an instructed 
eye. 

The "Rinaldo and Armida" must have been 



X.] 



CHARLTON NESB1T. 



183 



executed during Nesbit's seclusion at Swalwell. 
Besides the likeness of Bewick after Nicholson, 
prefixed to Charnley's ' ' Select Fables," the 
only other works of importance that belong to 
this date are those he contributed to the first 




series of Northcote's "Fables," a book to which 
we shall return more at length in speaking of 
Harvey. The best of these is the "Self-Im- 
portant." After his return to London, in 1830, 
he was employed upon the second series, which 
contains some of his most finished workmanship. 
The cut of the " Hare and the Bramble," p. 127, 



r8 4 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

is one of the most beautiful of modern wood- 
engravings. In addition to the above-mentioned 
books, he also engraved illustrations for " Shake- 
speare, " "Hudibras, " Somervile's "Chase," 




Stevens' " Lecture on Heads," and the numerous 
reprints of Sir Egerton Brydges. His cut to the 
memory of Robert Johnson, after Johnson's own 
design, is also much sought after by collectors. 
Nesbit's fifteen years' absence from activity, 



X.] 



CHARLTON NESBIT. 



185 



and the relatively small number of his produc- 
tions, make the record of his life of the briefest ; 
and — as must be confessed — we have not been 
able, after considerable pains, to add largely to 
the facts already collected respecting him. But 




the excellence of his work as a wood-engraver 
will always demand a record in the story of the 
revival of the art. In this respect he was the 
best of Bewick's pupils, and his achievement was 
in all probability greater than that of his fellows, 
because he was not tempted beyond the limits of 
his craft. 



CHAPTER XI. 



LUKE CLENNELL. 



The surname of Bewick's next pupil is a familiar 
one to Northumbrians. There is, in fact, a 
manor of Clennell on the east side of the river 
Alwine, not far from Alwinton ; and there was 
even an actual Luke Clennell of that ilk who was 
high-sheriff of Northumberland in 1727. Whether 
the present Luke Clennell was in any way related 
to this family has not been chronicled. He was 
born at Ulgham, near Morpeth, on the 8th of 
April 1781, being the son of a respectable farmer. 
After covering his slate with sketches instead 
of sums, an incident so persistently repeated in 
artistic biography that it seems to be an almost 
indispensable preliminary to distinction, he began 
life, like Chodowiecki, as a grocer, or, as others 



chap, xi.] LUKE CLENNELL. 187 

say, a tanner. Here, if tradition is to be believed, 
he got into trouble, owing to an ill-timed likeness 
of an unsympathetic customer rashly depicted ad 
vivum upon a convenient shop-door ; and some of 
his other drawings having attracted attention, his 
uncle, Thomas Clennell, of Morpeth, placed him 
with Bewick. This was in April 1797. With 
Bewick he remained seven years, and during his 
apprenticeship is said to have transferred to the 
block, and afterward engraved, a number of 
Robert Johnson's designs, which were used as 
tailpieces for the second volume of the "Birds." 
He speedily became an expert draughtsman and 
sketcher, and, like his master, was accustomed 
to make frequent excursions into the country in 
search of nature and the picturesque. His term 
of apprenticeship must have expired in April 
1 804 ; and, either shortly before this date or 
immediately after it, he executed a number of 
cuts for the "Hive of Ancient and Modern 
Literature," a selection of essays, allegories, and 
"instructive Compositions" in the " Blossoms of 
Morality " manner, made by Solomon Hodgson, 



(88 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

Bewick's old partner in the " Quadrupeds." The 
third edition of this was published in 1806, and, 
according to Hugo, contains fourteen cuts by 
Bewick. This would give the majority of the 
illustrations to Clennell, who presumably designed 
as well as engraved them. That to the first part 
of the " Story of Melissa," a pretty little cut, bears 
his initials, and they are to be found on the 
" Northumberland Lifeboat." Some of the re- 
maining cuts are also signed, and many of the 
rest may be confidently attributed to him ; but 
those above mentioned are among the best. 

Besides the engravings for the " Hive," he 
continued, after his apprenticeship was concluded, 
to work for Bewick on the illustrations to Wallis 
and Scholey's " History of England," already 
referred to in our account of Nesbit. Finding, 
however, that Bewick received the greater part 
of the money, he put himself into direct com- 
munication with the proprietors, the result being 
that they invited him to London, where he arrived 
in the autumn of 1804; and one of the earliest 
indications of his residence in the Metropolis is his 



xl] LUKE CLENNELL. 189 

receipt, in May 1 806, of the " gold palette " of the 
Society of Arts for " an engraving on wood of a 
Battle." Among other books upon which he was 
engaged were Craig's " Scripture Illustrated " and 
Beattie's " Minstrel," 1807, from the designs of the 
indispensable Thurston. Another volume belong- 
ing to this period was Falconer's "Shipwreck," 
1808, which contains a well-known picture of a 
ship in a gale of wind, the manner of which is of 
itself almost sufficient to prove his authorship of 
some of the marine tailpieces in vol. ii. of the 
" Birds." This cut was executed at Twickenham 
in September 1807, and was much improved by 
Clennell in the engraving. In 1809 appeared the 
"Religious Emblems," of which we have already 
given a sufficient description. Clennell's best 
cuts in this are the "Call to Vigilance " and the 
"Soul Encaged," but the least successful of the 
series are also engraved by him. 

Some time after his arrival in London, Clennell 
married ; the exact date is not known. His wife 
was the eldest daughter of Charles Warren, the 
copperplate engraver, a worthy rival of Abraham 



"9o THO&fAS BEWICK. [chap. 

Raimbach, Finden, and the little knot of talented 
men who, at the beginning of the present century, 
emulated each other in producing the delicate book- 
embellishments issued by Sharpe, Du Rovery, and 
others. Clennell's introduction to this society 
had, no doubt, an important influence over his 
future career. After Ackermann's " Emblems," 
his next work of importance was a large block for 
the diploma of the Highland Society. For this, 
in 1809, he received the gold medal of the Society 
of Arts. Benjamin West made the design, which 
consists of a circular frame containing an allegor- 
ical group, and flanked by two larger figures of 
a fisherman and a Highland soldier. Thurston 
copied the figures within the frame on the wood ; 
Clennell himself drew the supporters. After he 
had worked upon it for a couple of months, the 
block, which was of box veneered upon beech, had 
the same fate that befell the " Chillingham Bull "; 
it split, but irremediably, and history relates that 
the chagrined artist, in a fit of disgust, flung the 
tea-things into the fire. In a few days, however, 
he procured a fresh block, induced Thurston to 



XI.] 



LUKE CLENNELL. 



redraw the figures, and this time successfully com- 
pleted his work, an example of which may be seen 
in the collection of woodcuts at the South Ken- 




sington Museum. 1 It is thoroughly characteristic 
of his style — a style rather energetic than fine, and 
more spirited than minutely patient. Fortune (it 
should be added) was once more unfavourable to 

1 The bequest of John Thompson, the engraver. 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



the block, which was burnt in a fire at Bensley's 
printing-office ; but the subject was subsequently 
engraved by John Thompson. 

Clennell's last work of any moment as a wood- 
engraver is the series of cuts which illustrate 
Rogers's " Pleasures of Memory, with Other 




Poems." This is usually dated 1812; but the 
copy before us, which has Clennell's name as 
engraver upon its title-page, bears the imprint 
of 1 8 10. This little volume has an established 
reputation with collectors, and the excellence of 
the cuts as enlightened renderings of pen-and-ink 
sketches can scarcely be exaggerated. The touch 



xi.] LUKE CLENNELL. 193 

and spirit of the originals is given with rare fidel- 
ity, thoroughly to appreciate which it is only 
necessary to contrast them with some of the later 
copies in the modern editions of Rogers. Many 
of the compositions have all the lucid charm of 
antique gems, and, indeed, may actually have been 
copies of them, since the " Marriage of Cupid and 
Psyche," p. 140, is plainly intended for the famous 
sardonyx in the Marlborough collection. 

Toward 1809 or 1810, and probably owing to 
the enlarged views of art acquired in his father-in- 
law's circle, Clennell seems virtually to have relin- 
quished engraving for painting and designing. He 
had, in all likelihood, been preluding in this latter 
direction for some time, as there is an engrav- 
ing by Mantin in the British Museum after one of 
his designs which dates as far back as 1 803, and 
he made many of the sketches for Scott's " Border 
Antiquities." In the Kensington Museum there 
is, besides other sketches, a water-colour drawing 
called the " Sawpit," dated 1810, which was shown 
at the Exhibition of 1862 ; and in the Art Library 
of the same institution there is a highly interesting 



194 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

volume containing thirty compositions in water- 
colour, of which the majority were prepared for a 
series of " British Novelists," published by Sher- 
wood, Neely, and Jones in 1810-11. Many of 
these lightly -washed, slightly -worked sketches 
have a freedom and certainty of handling which 
were not retained when they were transferred 
to the copper, while the situations selected are 
often realised with considerable insight. It is 
true that they have not the grace of Stothard, 
but they have greater vigour. Clennell's men 
and women are a "strong generation": — in his 
hands Tom Jones becomes a broad-shouldered 
north-country fox-hunter, and Pickle's Emilia a 
bouncing Tyneside lass. But his designs have at 
least one advantage, the lack of which is a com- 
mon charge against most modern book-illustra- 
tion, — they generally tell a story of some kind. 
" Trim in the Kitchen after Master Bobby's 
Death," from "Tristram Shandy," a subject which 
has exercised almost as many interpreters with 
the pencil as "Donee gratus eram" has found 
translators, is freshly treated, and can scarcely be 



xi.] LUKE CLENNELL. 19S 

said to fall much behind Stothard. This book of 
sketches contains some other drawings, — notably, 
a spirited one of a bull-baiting, and a few biogra- 
phical particulars of which we shall hereafter 
make use. 

In 18.12 Clennell was living at 9 Constitution 
Row, Gray's I nn Lane Road, and he exhibited at the 
Royal Academy a lively picture of " Fox-hunters ( 
Regaling after the Pleasures of the Chase," which 
was engraved by his father-in-law, and later, in 
mezzotint, by T. Lupton. From this time forth 
he continued to exhibit drawings and paintings 
at the Academy, the British Institution, and the 
Exhibition of Painters in Water-Colours at the 
" Great Room, Spring Gardens," to which last he 
sent the largest number of contributions. The 
" Engage Waggons in a Thunderstorm," ex- 
hibited in 1816 at the first-named place, and 
"The Day after the Fair," exhibited in 1818 at 
the British Institution, are characteristic examples 
of his work. Among the pictures which he sent 
to the water-colour gallery were several clever 
marine subjects, some fishing scenes especially. 



196 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

One of these, the "Arrival of the Mackarel- 
Boat," is held to be among his best productions. 
A few of his sketches, the property of a New- 
castle collector, Mr. Joseph Crawhall, were ex- 
hibited at the Arts Association of that town in 
October 1878. Others have been shown at the 
Grosvenor Gallery and elsewhere. 

But there are two pictures, not included in the 
above list, which have special interest in the story 
of Clennell's career : one was his masterpiece as 
a painter, and the other has a tragic connection 
with the terrible misfortune of his later years. 
In March 1815 the British Institution set apart 
1000 guineas to be awarded in premiums for 
finished sketches in oil of subjects illustrating 
the British successes under Wellington. Clennell 
gained one of these premiums with a contribution, 1 
full of fire and furious movement, representing 
the decisive charge at Waterloo. This was ex- 
hibited at the British Institution in 1816. The 
remaining picture, the " Banquet of the Allied 

1 Now in the possession of Mrs. Vaughan, No. 88 Westbourne 

Terrace. 



xi.] LUKE CLENNELL. 197 

Sovereigns in the Guildhall," was a commission 
from the Earl of Bridgewater. When Clennell 
set to work upon this, — which it must be assumed 
he did after he had completed the aforementioned 
charge, — having grouped and lighted his composi- 
tion, he took apartments in the west end of the 
town (his latest residence appears to have been 
in Pentonville), and waited patiently for the dis- 
tinguished sitters who were to grace his board. 
But in this part of his task he experienced so 
much vexation, suspense, and fatigue, that, by the 
time he had obtained the necessary sketches and 
had commenced the picture in earnest, his intel- 
lectual powers, probably already strained to their 
utmost by his previous efforts, seem to have 
suddenly given way. This must have been early 
in 181 7. The following account of the first indi- 
cations of his malady, as related by one of his 
friends, is contained in a letter to Mr. Chatto, 
first published by him in his " History and Art of 
Wood-Engraving," 1848, p. 22 : — 

" I regret to say I was the cause of the first 
discovery of his mind being affected. ... I was 



i98 , THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

on very friendly terms with the family of his 
father-in-law, Charles Warren, the engraver — as 
fine a hearted man as ever breathed. I was con- 
sequently well acquainted with Clennell, and fre- 
quently visited him at his house in Pentonville. 
I have sat for hours beside him whilst he was 
engaged in painting that fatal picture. One night, 
a large party of young folks had assembled at 
Mr. Warren's, — a very frequent occurrence, for 
everybody went there when they wished to be 
happy ; and we had spent a long night in jun- 
ketting and play, and games of all sorts, twirling 
the trencher, being, as I well remember, one of 
them ; and at last had gathered in a large circle 
round the fire. Clennell was seated next the fire 
on one side, and 1 sat next to him. I had re- 
marked that for at least half-an-hour before he' 
had been looking vacantly under the grate, paying 
no attention to the fun that was going on. In 
order to rouse him, I gave him a hearty slap on 
the thigh, and said: 'Why, Clennell, you are in 
a brown study !' He gave a faint laugh and said, 
'Indeed, I think I am.' He did not, however, 



xi.] LUKE CLENNELL. 199 

become so much roused as to pay any attention 
to the miUe of waggery that was going on. We 
broke up about one o'clock ; and on my calling at 
Mr. Warren's next afternoon, I was shocked to 
hear from him that he feared Clennell's mind was 
affected ; for that about three in the morning, 
after having gone home with his wife and retired 
to bed, he started up and dressed himself, telling 
his wife that he was going to her father's on a 
very important affair. As his wife could not pre- 
vail on him to defer his visit to a more seasonable 
hour, she determined to accompany him. On 
arriving at Gray's Inn Road, he knocked violently; 
and on being let in by Mr. Warren, he said that 
he had been grossly insulted by me, and that he 
was determined on having immediate satisfaction. 
All Mr. Warren's arguments as to the impossi- 
bility of my having intended to insult him were 
met with positive assertions to the contrary. He 
said that he knew better ; ' I had been placed 
next him on purpose, and it was a preconcerted 
thing.' Mr. Warren at last, seeing how it was 
with him, humoured him so far as to say that he 



2oo THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

would go with htm, and have an explanation, an 
apology, or satisfaction ! They accordingly set 
out for my house ; but Mr. Warren, being now 
quite sensible on the subject, instead of proceed- 
ing toward my house, took a very different direc- 
tion, and led him about till he became tired : he 
was at that time anything but strong. He also 
by degrees quieted his mind towards me, by 
speaking of my friendship for him and my love of 
art ; and by daylight he got him home and to 
bed. I need hardly say what exquisite pain this 
account gave me, for I really loved Clennell : he 
was always so mild, so amiable — in short, such a 
good fellow." 

Shortly after this, becoming mischievous, Clen- 
nell was placed in an asylum in London. Under 
the pressure of misfortune, his wife's mind also 
gave way, and she died, leaving three children. 
By the exertions of Sir John Swinburne (grand- 
father of the poet) and other benevolent persons, 
the Waterloo charge was engraved, in 1819, by 
W. Bromley. It was published by the Committee 
of the Artists' Fund, to which institution Clennell 



XL] LUKE CLENNELL. 201 

had belonged, and the proceeds were vested in 
trustees for the benefit of himself and his family. 
The same body, says Pye, protected him to the day 
of his death, which took place in February 1 840. 
During the long period which intervened be- 
tween 181 7 and 1840, Clennell never wholly 
recovered, though hopes appear to have been 
entertained that his reason . might be restored. 
For some years he remained in London, but he 
was subsequently transferred to the care of his 
relations in the North. When Mackenzie wrote 
his " History of Newcastle," in 1 827, he was living 
in this way at Tritlington ; later, he was at St. 
Peter's Quay. Once he called upon Bewick and 
asked him for a block to engrave, but when, to 
humour him, he had been supplied with one, his 
efforts resembled those of an unskilled first be- 
ginner. His faculty for drawing appears to have 
less declined. We have now before us a bullfinch 
and a group of carnations, 1 which he is stated to 

1 For access to these, and the verses hereafter printed, we 
are indebted to the kindness of Mr. W. B. Scott, the painter and 
poet, some of whose earlier years were spent in Newcastle, the 
Literary and Philosophical Society of which is embellished by 



aoa THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

have executed during his insanity ; and, except 
that they are slightly exaggerated in size, the 
handling is unfaltering and effective. In his 
earlier days he had been acquainted with Burns, 
whose songs he sang ; and one of the amusements 
of his vacant hours consisted in composing strange 
and half-articulate fragments of verse, a few speci- 
mens of which are reproduced in the " History of 
Wood -Engraving." In the "Athenseum" for 
7th March 1840, there are three more, — "Sole- 
man," "A Floweret," and "The Lady upon her 
Palfrey Grey," — and others have been published 
elsewhere. The following, which, as far as can be 
ascertained, have not appeared in any type save 
that of the rare leaflet on which they were first 
printed, are here given chiefly for that reason, and 
not for any special merit they possess as poetry : 



one of his pictures, " The Building of the new Castle by the son 
of William the Conqueror." To his many artistic tastes Mr. 
Scott adds a love of Bewick, and he cherishes as a memento, 
mounted in a cane-head, the original button engraved by Bewick 
as a model for the " Northumberland Hunt." It bears a running 
fox, and is inscribed "Engraved by T. Bewick. Given by him to 
W. Losh, Esq." 



LUKE CLENNELL. 




A BALLAD. 

THE hill it was high 

As the maiden did climb, 
And O she wished for her true love nigh. 

And dearly she wished for the time 
That she might be by 
Her own true love of the azure sky. 
The hill it was fair, 
And sweet was the air, 

But her true love was not nigh ; 
The cowslips look gay, 
Her love is on his way, 

And they meet on the hill of the sky. 

AN EPIC UPON WINTER. 

IN January or November's cold, 
When stern winter his sceptre doth hold 
By farm, or common side, or village lane, 
Or where the sturdy peasant 
Doth drive a drain, 



k>4 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

Cutting his way 
Oft through the frozen clay ; 
Sometimes dressing a hedge, 
Lopping away the cumbrous sedge- 
There the fendifair, in numerous wing, 
To taste, now fresh, the oozing spring, 
And, flock in the copse or on the bough, 
In winter's merriment to dow. 
Perhaps, near a gravel-pit, 
Where doth the s wilier boy 
To carry sand his time employ, 
The little sandy bird doth sit 
Upon a twig, 
In expectation big — 
Or robin or blackbird in haste 
The new brown atom to taste, 
And pick their welcome cheer, 
In winter's month so often drear. 

To attach any undue importance to these irregular 
verses would be absurd ; but the inborn love of 
nature is still discernible in the disjointed imagery 
and the poor rudderless words. Both pieces bear 
the author's initials, " L. C, " and are dated from 
"St. Peters." 

While at St. Peters, Clennell appears to have 
been harmless ; but in 1 83 1 he again became un- 
manageable, and was placed in an asylum, where 
he remained until he died. In 1844 a monumental 



xl] LUKE CLENNELL. 205 

tablet by R. Davies, a local sculptor, was erected to 
his memory in St. Andrew's Church, Newcastle. 

It is difficult to determine the precise limits of 
talents so fatally interrupted, or to decide definitely 
whether their possessor should or should not be 
included among "the inheritors of unfulfilled 
renown." When attacked by his malady he was 
six-and-thirty, and if there be any truth in the 
axiom of Joseph de Maistre that " he who has not 
conquered at thirty will never conquer," Clennell 
had already passed that critical stage. But we 
do not place much faith in the utterance in ques- 
tion, and, setting speculation aside, it may fairly 
be affirmed of him that he was, after Nesbit, the 
best engraver among Bewick's pupils ; and that 
when his mind gave way he was beginning to 
show powers of a higher kind as an artist, parti- 
cularly in the line of landscape and rustic scenes. 
His distinguishing qualities are breadth, spirit, and 
rapidity of handling, rather than finish and minute- 
ness ; and the former characteristics are usually 
held to be superior to the latter. His unfortunate 
story invests them with an additional interest. 



CHAPTER XII. 



HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 

William Harvey, the third of Bewick's pupils 
who attained to any distinction, is known chiefly 
as a designer on wood, and for a considerable 
period held the foremost place in the profession. 
In these days, when artists of this class are so 
numerous, it is difficult to understand how one man 
could completely command the 6eld ; and yet it 
seems certain that, about 1830-40, Harvey was 
the sole person to whom engravers could apply 
for an original design with security, and who de- 
voted himself exclusively to the preparation of 
such designs. " The history of wood-engraving," 
says a writer in the " Art Union " for 1839, " for 
some years past, is almost a record of the works 
of his (Harvey's) pencil." It was the custom to 



chap, xil] HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 207 

say that he produced more than Stothard or Cho- 
dowiccki; but it would be more appropriate to 
compare his unflagging fertility to that of Dort or 
Gilbert. He was born at Westgate, 13th July 
1796, his father being keeper of the Newcastle 
Baths. At fourteen he was apprenticed to 
Bewick, with whom he became a great favourite, 
as may be gathered from the well-nigh par- 
ental letter, printed in Chatto's Treatise, which 
Bewick addressed to him in 1815. Harvey 
worked with Temple, another pupil, upon the 
"Fables" of 1818, and, it is alleged, transferred 
many of Johnson's sketches to the wood. In 
September 181 7 he removed to London. Here 
he studied drawing under B. R. Haydon, and 
anatomy under Sir Charles Bell. While with 
Haydon (where he had Eastlake, Lance, and 
Landseer for fellow -pupils), he engraved the 
well-known block after Haydon's " Assassination 
of Dentatus" — that ambitious attempt to unite 
colour, expression, handling, light, shadow, and 
heroic form, of which, if report is to be believed, 
the proximate destination was a packing-case in 



2o8 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

Lord Mulgrave's stable. Harvey's engraving has 
been described as " probably the largest, certainly 
the"most laboured, block that had then been cut 
in England"; but its manifest and misguided 
rivalry of copperplate makes it impossible to 
praise it as highly as its exceedingly skilful tech- 
nique would seem to warrant. As a work upon 




wood it must be regarded as more ingenious than 
admirable. 

Towards 1824 Harvey seems wholly to have 
abandoned engraving for design, his decision in 
this direction being apparently determined by the 
success of the illustrations he drew and in part cut 
for Henderson's " History of Ancient and Modern 
Wines." These are some of his most pleasing per- 



X.L] 



HARVEY, JACKSOX, ETC. 



formances. As engravings they are excellent ; as 
compositions they 1iave but little of the unpleasant 
mannerism which afterward grew upon him and 
disfigured his later work. To give an account of 




his labours as a designer subsequent to this time 
would be unnecessary as well as tedious. About 
1830 he had become prominently popular in this 
way ; he was at the height of his reputation in 
1840, and when he died, six-and-twenty years 



' S 3- : : Bl ."^-3I; 




"** Hon," !?*****. 



> 




MAAROOF HinDING FAREWELL TO HIS WIFE, 
(Diawh bv Harviy fob Labs's "Thousand abd One Nights,- 1I40.) 
Ttfivtfvtn*. 



xii.] BAR VE Y, J A CKSON, ETC. 2 1 1 

the two series of Northcote's " Fables," 1828 and 
1833, to which we have already referred ; and in 
Lane's "Thousand and One Nights," 1838-40. 
Northcote, indeed, takes credit for the illustrations 
in the former case ; but from the accounts which 
exist of the way in which he prepared the merely 
indicatory sketches that Harvey subsequently ela- 
borated and transferred to the block, 1 and from 
the admission in the preface to vol. i. that many 
of the designs have been " improved by his 

1 "It was by a curio iff process that Mr. Northcote really 
made the designs for those Fables the amusement of his old age, 
for his talents as a draftsman, excelling as he did in Animals, was 
rarely required by this undertaking. His general practice was to 
collect great numbers of prints of animals, and to cut them out ; 
he then moved such as he selected about upon the surface of a 
piece of paper until he had illustrated the fable by placing them 
to his satisfaction, and had thus composed his subject, (hen fixing 
the different figures with paste to the paper, a few pen or pencil 
touches rendered this singular composition complete enough to 
place in the hands of Mr. Harvey, by whom it was adapted or 
freely translated on the blocks for the engravers. The designs 
made by this ingenious mode are the more curious as having been 
executed by a painter, whose masterly hand knew so well how to 
give that beauty of arrangement which makes them so admirable 
and interesting." — " Sketch of the Life of James Northcote, Esq., 
R.A.," by E. S. Rogers, prefixed to the second series of " Fables," 
1833- 



..__,, ...luugii ne again, no d 
some degree by having Northa 





GARDENS OS THE RIVER OF EL-UBULLEH. 



Tt fact fret ai 3 . 



XII.] 



HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 



it was that he had not lived to see the publication 
of the second series ; and some of the happiest 
work of Nesbit, Jackson, Thompson, and Williams 
— that is to say, of the most successful wood-en- 
gravers of the day — is to be found in their pages. 









In the "Arabian Nights," which is regarded 
as Harvey's masterpiece, he is free from any 
charges of collaboration, beyond the fact that he 
worked under the eye of Mr. Lane, who assisted 
him with minute indications of costume and ac- 
cessories. In the life of Lane by his nephew, 



zm THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

Mr. Stanley Lane- Poole, it is stated that the 
former did not attach much importance to these 
pictorial embellishments, and even thought that 
they might well be dispensed with. Some allow- 
ance must be made in this case for Mr. Lane's 
unique position as a critic. A Roman of the 
time of Augustus would doubtless find anachron- 
isms in the works of Gerome ; and no designer 
would have been likely to entirely satisfy the in- 
veterate Egyptologist, who had himself sat cross- 
legged in the ancient Arab city of Cairo, and who, 
to the end of his life, began each day's task with a 
pious Dismi-lldh. That Lane's disciple, relative, 
and biographer should, under the circumstances, 
speak of Harvey's drawings as the " least excellent 
part of the book," and damn them with the faint 
praise of "succeeding in some slight degree in 
catching the oriental spirit of the tales," is perhaps 
to be anticipated ; but the fact remains that the 
artist reached his highest point in these volumes, 
and the public of Charles Knight's time probably 
ranked them far above the text in importance. 
A certain florid and luxuriant facility, which in 



xii.] HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 215 

Harvey's ordinary designs is monotonous or ill- 
timed, seems almost in keeping with Eastern sub- 
jects, and many of the headpieces and vignettes, 
set tastefully in intricate arabesques, and beauti- 
fully engraved by Jackson and his colleagues, are 
gems of refined and delicate invention. Speaking 
generally, the decorative and topographical ex- 
amples, the glimpses of bazaar and street, of 
mosque and turreted gate and " latticed meshre- 
beeyeh," are superior to the picturesquely grouped 
but expressionless figure subjects. In drawing 
animals, Harvey was often singularly fortunate, 
although here, as always, his peculiar mannerism 
mars his work. 

At his death, in 1866, he was Bewick's only 
surviving pupil. Beyond the fact that he was a 
thoroughly amiable and unpretentious man, and 
an unwearied worker, little of interest has been 
recorded respecting him. A new race of draughts- 
men has sprung up since he laid down the pencil, 
but his name will always deserve to be remem- 
bered in the annals of his craft. He lies buried 
in the cemetery at Richmond. 



2i6 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

In addition to the pupils already mentioned, 
there were a few others, who either did not attain 
to celebrity, or whose relationship to Bewick was 
of a more incidental kind. Foremost among 
these comes John Jackson, who was born at 
Ovingham in 1801, and died in 1848. Redgrave 
says that he was a pupil of Armstrong (which is 
indefinite), and afterwards of Bewick. With the 
latter he had some obscure disagreement which 
prematurely terminated their connection, Bewick, 
it is alleged, going even so far as to cut his own 
and his son's names out of the unexpired indent- 
ures. Jackson then moved to London, and worked 
for a time under Harvey, many of whose designs 
he subsequently engraved. He either did, or 
superintended, much of the work on the " Penny 
Magazine " and other of Charles Knight's various 
enterprises ; and between 1830 and 1840 was the 
busiest and best employed of London wood- 
engravers. 1 His work for the two series of North- 

1 Many good examples of Jackson's work are to be found in a 
volume of 1 50 selected engravings from the " Penny Magazine," 
published in 1835, and referred to before a Committee of the 



xn.] HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 217 

cote's "Fables" and Lane's "Arabian Nights" 
has already been mentioned. As an engraver he 
was careful and painstaking without any special 
show of genius. His name has, however, acquired 




more prominence than it perhaps actually de- 
serves, from its connection with a book to 
which we have frequently made reference, and 

House of Commons as illustrating the progress and advantages 
of popular woodcut art. 



2i8 THOMAS BEWICK. [chap. 

to which no student of wood-engraving can fail 
to be indebted, namely, the "Treatise" on that 
art, hitherto currently known as "Jackson and 
Chatto." When this volume first appeared in 1839, 




an angry controversy arose as to the relative claims 
of the engraver and his colleague to the honours of 
authorship. We do not propose to stir the ashes 
of this ancient dispute. Still, it may be stated 
that Mr. Chatto appears to have had but scant 
justice done to him in the matter, for, with a few 



XII.] 



HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 



reservations, the composition and preparation of 
the book were entirely his. Indeed, Jackson was 
in no sense "literary," and could not possibly 
have undertaken it ; and although he provided 
and paid for the illustrations, the attributing of 
them en masse to him personally is manifestly an 




error, as the major part of the facsimiles of old 
woodcuts were the work of the late Mr. Fairholt, 
and were chiefly engraved by a young pupil of 
Jackson's named Stephen Rimbault. Others were 
executed by J. W. Whymper. Of the blocks 
actually from the graver of Jackson himself, the 
best are the " Partridge" and the "Woodcock" 



THOMAS BEWICK. 



[chap. 



after Bewick, which are favourable specimens of 
his powers. Jackson's true position with regard 
to the whole book seems to have been rather that 
of projector than of author ; and it is satisfactory 
to know that in the third edition, which has been 




recently issued, due prominence has been given on 
the title-page to the hitherto insufficiently recog- 
nised labours of Mr. Chatto. 

With the exception of Ebenezer Landells, the 
remaining pupils of Bewick are little more than 
names. Landells was an excellent engraver, who 
did good work on the " Illustrated London News " 



xii.] HARVEY, JACKSON, ETC. 221 

and " Punch," and succeeded admirably in render- 
ing the animals of Thomas Landseer. He died 
in i860. Hole, already referred to in connection 
with Ackermann's " Religious Emblems," and 
whose full name was Henry Fulke Plantagenet 
Woolicombe Hole, was the son of a captain in the 
Lancashire militia. He practised as an engraver 
at Liverpool, but ultimately gave up the profession 
on succeeding to an estate in Devonshire. He 
did some of the cuts in the " British Birds," and 
a much-lauded vignette to Shepherd's " Poggio." 
W. W. Temple, who assisted Harvey in " Bewick's 
Fables" of 181 8, became a draper at the end of 
his apprenticeship. Henry White, who engraved 
Thurston's designs to Burns, as well as many of 
Cruikshank's squibs for Hone, and some of the 
best of the cuts in Yarrell's " Fishes," was an ex- 
ceedingly clever workman. Of John Johnson, 
Robert Johnson's cousin, who designed the cut 
of the " Hermit" in Goldsmith's and Parnell's 
" Poems," we have no material particulars. Isaac 
Nicholson, Anderson, Edward Willis, and the rest, 
may be dismissed without further mention. 



APPENDIX. 



List of the oil-paintings, water-colour drawings, prints, etc, 
presented by the Executors of Miss Isabella Bewick to the 
Museum of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, 
Durham, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in March 1884 : — 

Portrait of Thomas Bewick, by J. Ramsay, oil-painting. 
Do. do. T. S. Good, oil-painting. 

Do. do. Miss Kirkley. 

Do. do. Miniature by Murphy. 

Do. do. do. by Plymer. 

Do. Miniature of Moses Griffith, friend of Tennant 
Do. of John Bewick, by George Gray, crayon. 
Do. of Robert E. Bewick when a boy, by John Bell, oil- 
painting. 

Drawings. 
12 Small coloured drawings of foreign birds, unmounted. 

1 Sketch of horse in crayons, by John Bewick. 
89 Coloured drawings of Wycliffe birds, nearly all foreign, 
mounted on ten sheets, and numbered 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 



1 2 Coloured drawings of birds, mounted on six sheets by 
Rev. C. Kingsley : — Roller, nutcracker, great spotted 
woodpecker, chough, red-backed shrike, cuckoo, bunt- 
ing, ptarmigan, jackdaw, hooded crow, turtle-dove, 
and pied flycatcher. 
2 Drawings, mounted by Ruskin, on one sheet : — Wren 
coloured, and vignette in pencil. 
46 Drawings of water birds, mounted on four sheets, num- 
bered 3, s, 6, 7. 

Sheet 3. Olivaceous gallinule, water hen, head of 
razorbill, little grebe, great crested grebe, great 
auk, da da, Sclavonian grebe, red-throated 
diver, black guillemot, great Northern diver (all 
coloured). 
Sheet 5. Goosander, merganser, smew, red-breasted 
goose, eider duck, brent goose, bean goose, eider 
duck (coloured) and goosander, wild swan, mute 
swan, do. do. (in pencil). 
Sheet 6. Wigeon, golden eye, sheldrake, cormorant, 
long-tailed duck, tufted duck, golden eye, gar- 
ganey, gannet (coloured), pintail, and castaneous 
duck (in pencil). 
Sheet 7. Scoter (coloured) and cormorant (young), 
gannet, olivaceous gallinule, and eight portions 
of birds (in pencil). 
35 Drawings mounted on nine sheets, A to I inclusive. 

Sheet A. Great plover, greenshank (coloured), and 

goshawk (in pencil). 
Sheet B. Crossbill (red plumage), whinchat, yellow 
wagtail (coloured), and little stint (in pencil). 



APPENDIX. 225 

Sheet C. Capercailzie, night heron, and two vig- 
nettes (coloured). 

Sheet D. Foreign lark, green woodpecker, a spotted 
crake, nightingale (coloured). 

Sheet E. Redwing, great black-backed gull (young), 
black-headed gull (immature), red-necked phala- 
rope (coloured). 

Sheet F. Reed fauvette, ash-coloured sandpiper, 
wryneck, snipe (coloured). 

Sheet G. Dunlin, long-tailed tit, goldfinch (coloured), 
and jacana-like bird, and peacock (in pencil). 

Sheet H. 4 Vignettes (coloured). 

Sheet I. 3 Do. do. 

68 Drawings in pencil, mounted on three sheets, numbered 
10, 11, 12. 
Sheet 10. Barnacle goose, spurwinged goose, gad- 
wall, wild duck, brent goose,. Egyptian goose, 
Muscovy duck, king duck, cravat goose, shoveler, 
white-fronted goose, scaup duck, garganey, Egyp- 
tian goose, harlequin duck, bimaculated duck. 
Sheet 1 1. 23 Vignettes in pencil. 
Sheet 12. 29 Do. do. 

25 Sketches in pencil, mounted on three sheets of tinted 
paper, numbered 13, 14, 15. 
Sheet 13 contains 9 sketches. 
11 M » 8 do. 
,* >5 „ 8 do. 
14 Slight sketches of animals in pencil 
10 Slight sketches of animals in pencil 
<2 



14 Drawings of birds in colours : — 

Great bittern, sparrow hawk, red-necked grebe, mag- 
pie, Pennant's parrot, pied wagtail, common fowl, 
wax wing, kestrel, golden plover, red phalarope, 
dipper, red-throated diver, nightjar. 

Drawing — Whitley ox. 

Slight pencil sketch, called Chillingham Bull. 

Pidcock's elephant in pencil. 

Sketch of sheep in pencil. 

Horse and groom in pencil. 

Whitley ox in Indian ink. 

Spotted hyena in pencil 

*S5 Slight drawings by Thomas, John, and Robert Bewick. 
A set of the cuts of the quadrupeds coloured by Bewick 
for his children, bound. 
1 1 Engraved portraits of Thomas Bewick. 
4 Vignettes in frame, water-colours. 

Man with leister, rock with stone monument, man and 
dog at park gates, men carrying large tub. 
4 Do. do. Cottage in winter, wreck of boat lying on 
shore, monumental stone and figures, dog and hen 
and chickens. 
Framed. Pennant's short-eared owl, water-colour. 
Do. Spearman's kyloe ox, do. 

Do. Ox grazing, do. 

Do. Chillingham bull, proof on vellum, with border, in 

first state. 
Do. Trotting horse, lithographed by Thomas Bewick. 
Do. Waiting for death, proof on vellum. 
Do. Lion, done for Pidcock. 



Framed. Elephant, done for Pidcock. 

Do. Whitley ox, drawn and engraved on copper by 

Thomas Bewick, 1789. 
Do. Old horse, small copperplate, by T. Bewick. 
Do. Huntsman and hound, woodcut. 
Do. Ramsay's portrait of T. B., engraved by Burnet. 

Wood Engravings. 

Prints of quadrupeds, land and water birds, foreign birds, 
British fishes, vignettes, prints for " Fables of ^Esop," 
" Select Fables," etc, amounting to about 2445 examples. 

Rally's bust of Bewick in plaster, and pedestal. 




INDEX. 



ri thoti efthifirtt editions.] 



Addison, Joseph, 34. 

Anderson, 221. 

Angus, Thomas, 39. 

Artist's Assistant, 1788, I. 

Artists' Fund, 200. 

" Assassination of Dentatus," 207. 

Atkinson's Memoir of Bewick, 7, 
157- 

Audubon's Ornithological Biogra- 
phy, 159.63. 

Bailee, Dr., 33. 

Batly, E. H., R.A., 169. 

" Banquet of Allied Sovereigns," 

Clennell's, 196. 
Barlow's Fables of AZsop, 1665, 61. 
Barnes, Mr. J. W., 19. 
Beattie's Minstrel, 1807, 189. 
Beilby, Ralph, 24. 
Beilby's shop, 27. 
Bell, William, 125. 
Bell's Catalogue, 1851, 7, 31. 
Belon's Histairt des Oyseaux, 1555, 

96. 
Bennett, C. H., 138. 
Bewick, Isabella, 166, 167. 
Bewick, Jane, 32, 124, 166. 
Bewick, John, senior, 11. 



Bewick, John, junior, 9, 70-86, 

>39- 
Bewick, R. E., 135, 165. 
Bewick, Thomas, 1170, 171. 
Bewick's Memoir, 1861, 7- 
Bewick's wife, 163. 
Bewick, Will, 21. 
Bewick, William, of Darlington, 

"5- 
Birds, Land and Water, 1797-1804, 

95-106. 
Blind Beggar of Btihnal Green, 

1832, 210. 
Bloomfield's Farmer's Boy, 1800, 

178. 
Blossoms of Morality, 1796, 78. 
Branston, J., 180. 
British Novelists (Sherwood's}, 



1810- 



, 194- 



Brockett, J. T., 134. 
Brown, Tom, 16. 
Bulmer, William, 78, 143. 

Burns' s Poems, 1S08, 134. 

Butler's Httdibras, 1811, 1S3. 

Caknan, T., 51. 
Caw, Robert, 126. 
Charnley, Emerson, 70. 



Chatlo's History and Art ef Wood- 

Engraeing, 1848, 197- 
Quito's Treatise an U'ood-Engrar- 

>*g, 1839. 7. "8-aa 
Cbenybam House, 9. 
Children in the Wood, 1831, 11a 
ChUdt Tutor, 1771, 31. 
Children's .Viseeltany, 1787, 72. 
Clennell, Lt-Kt, 129, 134, 145, 

■86-105. 
"Cock" Billhead, 30. 
Cole, B., 43. 
Coleman, William, 5, 43. 
Comenius's Orbis Pic/us, 77. 
Copeland's Ornaments, 28. 
Cornaro. Lewis, 34. 
Cotes, Rev. Mr., 10a 
Craig, W. M., 177. 
Craig's Scripture Illustrated, I 

Crawhall, Mr. Joseph, 196. 
Croxall's Fables ef ALsop, 1721, 2, 
60. '35- 

Death's Dame, 1789, 73. 
Dovaston, J. F. M., 106, 143. 

Elliot, Isabella, 48. 
Emblems of Aforlality, 1789, 73. 

Fables of j£sof>, 1818, 134-42, 207. 
Fairhok, F. W., 174, 119. 
Falconer's Shipwreck, 1808, 189. 
Ferguson's Poems, 1814, 134. 
Field \n%\ Jacobite's Journal, 1747, 2. 
Fishes, History of British, 151, 165. 
Ford, Mr. Edward, 51, 127. 
Ford, Mr. J. W„ 127. 
Ford, Mrs. 127. 
Forster, Thomas, 23. 



Forth, Bewick's house in the, 48. 
Garret, W., 32. 

Gay's Fables, 1779, 33, 52-6. 
Gay's F.i ties, 178S, 73. 
" George and Dtagon " Billhead, 30. 
Goldsmith and Parnelts Poems, 

1795, 78, 168, 176. 
Goldsmith, Oliver, 51. 
Good, T. S-, 161. 
Gravelot, H., 54. 
Gray, George, 37. 
Gray, Gilbert, 36. 
Gray, William, 37, 42. 
Grcgson, Rev. Christopher, 12. 

Hancock, Mr. John, to*. 
Harvey, William, 7, 134, 135, 

Hawkins's Hislary of Musk, 5. 

Haydon, B. K., 207. 

Henderson's History ef Wines, 1824, 

208. 
Hierogiyphiik Bible, 1776, 51. 
" Highland Society's Diploma," 191. 
History of a Schoolboy, 1788, 7*. 
History of England (Wallts and 

Scholey's), 178, 188. 
Hive, The, 1806, 134, 168, 187. 
Hodgson, Thomas, 5. 
Hogarth's Four Stages of Cruelty, 3. 
Holbein's Imagines Mortis, 1547, 73. 
Hole, H. F. P. \V„ 321. 
Honours of the Table, 178E, 72. 
Horn Booh, The new invented, 31, 
"Hound, The Old," 53. 
Hugo's Bewick Collector, 1866*8, 

6. "33- 
Hunt, William, 98. 
Hutton, Dr., 29, 48. 



Illustrated London News, 1842, 220. 

Jackson, John,?, 128, 136, 216-20. 
Johnson, Dr., 117. 
Johnson, John, 79, 221. 
Johnson Robert, 129, 130-2, 136, 



Ladies' Diary, 1704, 29. 

Landells, E., 220. 

Lane's Thousand and One Nights, 

1840, 211, 213-5. 
LeClerc, Sebastian, 61. 
Le Grand's Fabliaux, 1796, 80. 
Leslie, Mt. G. D., R.A., 99. 
Liddel], Anthony, 22. 
Lilliputian Magazine, 1772, 51. 
Linton, Mt. W. J., 134. 
Looting-Glass for the Mind, 1791, 

78. 
Lutzelburger, Hans, 76. 

Mackenzie's Newcastle, 1827, 71. 
Mackenzie's Northumberland, 1825, 

71. 
Moral Instructions of a Father to 

his Son, 1772, 32. 

Nesbit, Charlton, 132, 134, 171- 
185. 

" Newcastle Natural History So- 
ciety," 167, 223. 

New Lottery Book Of Birds and 
Beasts, 1771, 3'- 



Nicholson, Isaac, 134, 221. 
Norlhcote's Fables, 1828-33, I7>. 

180, 183, 211. 
Northumberland small-pipes, 39. 

Ovingmam Church, ii. 

Papillon's Trait/ de la Gravure en 

Bois, 1766, 5. 
Fenny Magaiine, 1832, 173, 216. 
Pictorial Prayer Book, 2 1 0. 
Pidcock, Gilbert, 93. 
Progress 0/ Man and Society, 1791, 

77- 



Religious Emblems (Ackermann's), 
1809, 178, 221. 

Rimbault, Stephen, 219. 

Rogers's Pleasures of Memory, 1810, 

144, 191. 
Ruskin's Ariadne Florcntina, 1 39. 
Robin Hoed, 1795, 78. 
Robinson, Mr. R., 27, 92, 156, 168. 
Robinson Crusoe, The New, 1788, 



Saint, Thomas, 31. 

Saturday Magazine, 1832, 173. 
Savage's Hints on Decorative Print- 
ing, 1822, 180. 
Scott, Mr. W. B-, 201. 
Scott's Border Antiquities, 193. 
Select Fables, 1776, 32, 57. 
Select Fables, 1784, 52, 57-67. 
Select Fables (Cbarnley's), 1820, 134. 



232 



INDEX. 



Select Fables (Reprint), 1871, 31. ! 
"Society for Diffusion of Useful ; 

Knowledge," 173. 
Somervile's Chase, 1 796, 80, 81, 1 

168. 

1 

" Spearman's Kyloe Ox,'* 94. 
Spence, Thomas, 35. 
Sportsman s Friend, I So I, 168. 
Stephens, Mr. F. G., 98. 
Stephenson, George, 127. 
Stevens's Lecture on Heads, 184. 
Story without an End, 210. 

Tailpieces, The, 108-32. 
Tales for Youth, 1 794, 78. 
Taylor, Isaac, 43. 
Temple, \V. W., 135, 221. 
Thomson's Life and I Vorks of Bewick, 

1882, 91. 
Thomson's Seasons, 1805, 134. 
Thurston, John, 134, 177. 
Tommy 1 r rip' 's History of Beasts and 

Birds, 1779, 50. 



Tower Menagerie, 1828, 2IO, 
Tresham, Henry, R.A., 179. 
Trusler, Dr., 77. 
Tunstall, Marmaduke, 89. 
Type-Metal, Engraving on, 5, 62*3. 

44 Waiting for Death," 152-6. 

Walpole, Horace, 4. 

44 Waterloo Charge" (Clenneirs), 

196, 200. 
White, Henry, 134, 221. 
White, John, 15, 31. 
Whitfield, Joseph, 13a 
41 Whitley Large Ox," 94. 
Whymper, J. \\\, 219. 
Willis, Edward, 127, 128, 221. 
Wootton, 54- 

YoutlCs Instructive and Entertain- 
ing Story Teller, 1 7 14, 32. 

Zoological Gardens, 1830-31, 210. 



THE END. 



Printed by R. & R. Clakk, Edinburgh. 



NEW EDITION 



BEWICK'S WORKS. 



Messrs. R. Ward & Sons, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, the 
present possessors of the original wood-blocks, are about 
to issue a New Edition of Bewick's chief works in Five 
Volumes, as follows : — 

Vol. I. Land Birds. 

Vol. II. Water Birds. 

Vol. III. Quadrupeds. 

Vol. IV. Fables of JEsot. 

Vol. V. Memoir of Bewick, by Himself. 

The last volume will be prefaced and annotated by 
Mr. Austin Dobson, in whose hands Bewick's papers and 
correspondence, together with the MS. of the "Memoir," 
have been placed by the Executors of the late Miss 
Isabella Bewick. The " Memoir," which was considerably 
"edited" by Miss Jane Bewick in 1862, will now be 
printed more fully and completely. 

Vol I. (Land Birds) will be issued to subscribers in 
1885. Prospectus and full particulars can be obtained of 
the publisher, Mr. Bernard Quaritch, 15 Piccadilly, W. 




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High Spirit*. 


BY KATHARINE S. MACQVOID. 
The Evil Eye. | Loat Rom. 


The Family Scape 
Foeter Brother*. 


BY W.H. MALLOCK, 






Th* New Republic 


Seat of Husband* 


A Confidential 


BY FLORENCE MARRYAT. 


Walter'* Word. 


Agent. 
Soma Private 


Open! Became 1 1 A Little Stepton. 




A Harveat of Wild Fighting th* Air. 




From Exile. 


Oat*. 1 Written In Fir*. 


What Ha Coat Her 


A Grape from a 


BY J. MASTER1IAN, 
Half-a-dozen Daughter*. 


HumorouaStorla* 

Gwendoline'* Har 


For Caah Only, 


BY JEAN MIDDLBMASS. 


BY EDGAR A. FOB. 


Taueh and Oo. 1 Mr. Dorllllon. 


The My it try of 


Marl* Rage*