« السابقةمتابعة »
Alore was wont to do, would nedes be counted like unta
Mr. Landseer has with great feeling and animation deplored the present state of engraving: he has fairly shewn that, whilst the artists alone had the management and publication of their own works, their art flourished, and that Englishmen as engravers then rose superior to all the world; but when ignorant capital, personified as a printseller, took the helm, this noble fabric became a wreck. In this part of his work Mr, Landseer becomes eloquent; his arguments are irresistible, and so they ought to be; for, as a proof of all that he has written, Mr. Macklin put into his hands the St. John, from the immortal hand of West, to make an engraving from for his Bible. Why did Mr. Landseer forget to give this decisive proof of the incapacity of the printsellers to conduct the publication of works of art? Here we see what this gentleinan triumphantly calls “ the Virgilian line,” and the excellence it is capable of ; here we see by comparing this St. John with Mr. Landseer's other historical subjects in the same work, what variety of foreign powers he called in to his assistance, and here do we see a specimen of the modern method of bookmaking, in which men can write with great depth of knowledge on arts which they can neither perform themselves, nor teach others how to execute.
This unfortunate inode of art has another enemy in the formidable Mr. Josiah Boydell, and luckily for it, specimens of the judgment of this doughty hero of the brush have been long before the public. That motley collection of painting, the Shakspeare Gallery, which contained works that would have honoured the best ages of the arts, and have disgraced the worst, was enriched with emanations from the mind of this distinguished painter; to say they were of the very lowest order of this heterogeneous assemblage, might be disputed, but that they bore a conspicuous part in what disgraced the collection, must be admitted by every man possessing the least knowledge of art. Poverty of style, and plentiful lack of intellect are their attributes ; they are the puny abortions of an enfeebled mind; it would be an insult to common sense, to point out the particulars of their unworthiness.
* Vide Roger Ascham's Schoolmaster, 1586.
The last person we shall honour with our notice, who has attacked this art, is the rev. Edward Forster, A. M. F. R. S. and S. A. chaplain to the duke of Newcastle ; biographer of artists; critic on pictures, and historian of paintings; translator of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, and Don Quixote; and speculator in plays and farces. This reverend gentleman asserts that a style of engraving has been frequently practised in England, called the chalk, or dotted style: this mode, he says, has been soinetimes employed in historical subjects, either when early publications or cheapness was required, froin the ease and rapidity with which it is executed, but it is a rnode so decidedly inferior to that of the line engraving, that few collectors ever admit it into their cabinets, and indeed no engraver of any celebrity ever used or practised it from choice, as the superiority of the line is well known to them,
The reverend gentleman asserts, in the prospectus of the British Gallery of Engraving, that two motives have principally induced the proprietors to engage in this Taborious and expensive work, their love for the fine arts, and their wish that this country should give birth to the 'most complete and perfect work of the kind ever executed. These are the assertions of a minister of the gospel, and it must be confessed that the motives are as liberal and praiseworthy as can be conceived; but it will be necessary to caution our readers against a snake in the grass, that this disciple of truth has somehow or other forgot to uncover; for
of them will not be aware, that a work of the very same nature, and at the same time, is carrying on under the superintendance of * Henry Tresham, Esq. a member of the Royal Academy: the historical and descriptive part to be written by William Ottley, Esq. the whole of which is to he engraved in the chalk manner. A very little discernment will enable us to discover this gentleman's antipathy to this mode of engraving, His spirit of trade cannot brook the idea of having a rival. He dreads the powers of his opponents, which he is well assured are superior to his own, and fearing that the artists employed in the work in which he is engaged are not able to cope with those employed by his antagonists, he endeavours to prejudice the public inind, not daring to trust to a fair and honorable competition, not daring to trust the issue to the real merits of the different modes of engraving, and the abilities of the respective artists employed in them. We shall take the liberty of reminding this reverend gentleman of the fable of the fox, that possessed himself of the holes of the badgers by stinking them out of their habitations.
* Mr. Forster's antipathy to the chalk style of engraving, we can bave no doubt, is considerably increased by the galling retlection, that the conductors of the rival work are men with whose powers the public are well acquainted. Mr. Tresham is generally honoured as an artist of very great professional celebrity, and Mr. Ottley is well known to artists and connoisseurs, both here and on the continent, by his exquisite knowledge of the old masters, and by many sublime inventions and actual productions in art from his own pencil.
Of his knowledge in art we know nothing; how was he to acquire it? Helvetius justly observes, that for a man to be truly learned in any particular art or science, presupposes an ignorance of inany others. In this he is borne out by the old adage, “ Art is long, and life is short.” We have sedulously given this son of the church all his honours, and dispute none of them, except in that art in which we are a little conversant, and to which we are allied-painting. We have found that a life devoted to the study of this noble art without practice, does not enable us to become critics on its great professors. We will give him credit for his knowledge of divinity, by inspiration ; for his inforination as a member of the Royal Society, by intuition ; for his learning as an antiquarian, by conjuration ; for a translator, by genius; and for a speculator in plays and farces, by interest; but before we can give him credit as a critic on painting, he must prove to us that he can paint well himself. His translation from the Arabic is through the inedium of M. Galland; let him tell us through what medium his knowledge of painting is derived, and then we shall know how it ought to be appreciated, and what portion f faith should be attached to his lucubrations,
[To be continued.)
ON MAKING A FIGURE:
WITH TWO PICTURES OF HUMAN MEAXNESS.
I HAVE read of a squib, which was represented bursting with this motto under it, perean dum luceam-"let me perish, if I do but shine.” The same motto will do for all, who dissipate their substance by shining or figur. ing with shew and equipage.
All mankind would make a figure. To aspire to stations above us, is a maxim universally adopted; yet perhaps the truest wisdom and the surest happiness is, to cultivate well the rank in which we are born. Why should any man covet to raise and distinguish himself farther, than his real well-being may make necessary ?* A mark of distinction is, in general, no better than a mark for human malice to shoot at.
There are various ways of making a figure, according to Lord Melcombe. In a mean traffic with the Duke of Newcastle for court-preferment, the meanest perhaps that ever was trusted upon paper, he says_“ The Duke must think, that 2000l. a year would not make my
fortane, with one foot in the grave; that, as to rank, I have as much respect for the peerage as any man; but that in my situation, without succession direct or collateral, a peerage to me was not worth the expence of new painting my coach.” He told the Duke, nevertheless, that, though he had one foot in the grave, he was determined to make some sort of figure in life: “ I earnestly wish it may be under your Grace's protection ; but, if that cannot be, I must make some figure. What it will be, I cannot determine yet: I must look about me a little, and consult
friends; but some figure I am resolved to make.”-Ovid and Horace, though related to a court, have both expressed themselves, as if to live and die unknown were the first of arts: certainly to do so would be better, than to make such a figure as this. Should
When an husbandman claimed kinship with Robert Grosthead, Bishop of Lincoln, and thereupon requested from him an office, “ Cousin,” said the bishop, “ if your cart be broken, I'il mend it; if your plow be old, I'll give you a new one, and even seed to sow your land : bat an husbandman I found you, and an husbandman l'll leave you.”. Fuller's Holy State, page 25. The bishop thought it kinder (as should seem) to serve him in his way, than to take him out of his way: and perhaps Stephen Duck, the thresher, had been better provided for, if, instead of being first pensioned and afterwards ordained, he had been endowed with ten acres of land, aud suffered to thresh on. By turning the laborious thresher into an in-active parson, they brought lunacy first, and then suicide, npon a man, who might otherwise have enjoyed himself with two cows aud a pis, and ended his days in serenity and ease.
it be asked, on what this contemptible person grounded his pretensions, he tells you, that he had a good deal of marketable ware, parliamentary interest; and by boroughs could insure six members of parliainent. Yet the Duke seems to have valued him according to his real inerits; for the King would not receive him to any mark of his favour. Pages 223. 299. 308. 315. of the Diary of George Bubb Doddington, Lord Melcombe, by Henry Penruddocke Wyndham. 1784, 8vo.
Though this Diary erery where displays that mean, base, and villainous spirit, which, without any regard to connections and obligations, submits to court and flatter the powers that are; though it shews its author to have been wholly directed by motives of avarice, vanity, and selfishness; yet I entirely think with the editor, that Lord Melcombe, far from suspecting any inference from it dishonourable to himself, meant it as an apology for his political conduct. So different, as he adds, is the moral sense of courtiers from that of other men! Editor's Preface.
To put things of a sort together, let me subjoin another picture of human meanness, taken from the Memoirs of Madame de Pompadour.
When this lady became mistress of Lewis XV. all France paid her their court; and persons, 'who had decried her birth, afterwards claimed a relationship to her. The following letter to her, from a gentleman of a very ancient family in Provence, will shew to what intense meanness human nature is capable of descending.
“ My dear cousin, “ I was ignorant of belonging to you, till the king had nominated you Marchioness of Pompadour : then an able genealogist proved to me, that your great grandfather was my grandfather's cousin in the fourth degree. You see by this, dear cousin, that there is a real consanguinity between us. If it is your pleasure, I will send you the genealogical tree of our relationship, that you may present it to the king. My son, however, your cousin, who served with distinction for some years, would be glad to have a regiment; and, as he cannot hope to obtain it by his rank, I pray you to ask it from the king as a favour.".