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published Memoir of Thomas Bewick, embellished
by numerous wood engravings from his hand.
In the vignettes there is a singular absence of
Bewick's best qualitiesprecision and proportion.
They seem to be, and no doubt were,
essays of a youthful genius, struggling towards
perfection through failure. Deatha skeleton
drawn in a sledge over snow by reindeeris a
good conception, but the reindeer are,
proportionally, much too small. In one page, we find
a goose too large for its neck; and, in another, a
donkey-foal too small for the beehives behind
it; in a third, is a cat with a mouse under her
paw. Pussy looks like a stuffed pussy.

Yet, all these things are interesting, just as
Dr. Johnson's epitaph on a duck is interesting.
They show genius in the act of crystallising.
At the end of this new volume are delineations
of British fishes, to which the above remarks do
not apply. They are evidently the productions
of Bewick's best time; while looking at them,
one cannot help wishing that the British fishes
had grown into a book. What fellows are the
bream, and the John Dory! How admirably
has the artist caught the fleshy character of
the tench! How evidently the samlet or brandling
is of the fish, fishy! Looking at him, one
almost smells fish. The chapter concerning
the art of engraving in wood, is interesting not
merely to those who practise it, but to every
admirer of the delightful art with which John
Leech's life-like drawings have made us all
familiar. Bewick relates his difficulties in the
outset, and the time and thought it cost him
"before anything like an approach towards
perfection could be arrived at." In this chapter,
we have the secret of Bewick's truth, nature,
and freshness. With but slender means in his
hands, he thought out all the rest for himself.
He says: " It never entered my head that it was
a branch of art that would stand pre-eminent for
utility;" and again he tells us: " No vain notions
of my arriving at any eminence ever passed
through my mind; and the sole stimulus with
me was the pleasure I derived from imitating
natural objects, and I had no other patterns to go
by" What a true picture of a real artist's
work! Then Bewick tells us that from looking
at woodcuts by Albert Durer, he learnt or
rediscovered a mode of effecting what in the art is
called " cross-hatching," which means crossing
lines, like weft and woof. By impressions from
two blocks, he produced (the desideratum) clear
cross-hatching; but he dismissed this mode as
"not producing any additional beauty or colour,
beyond the effect produced by plain parallel lines."
By employing other processes, which are minutely
detailed, Bewick seems to have attained the
desirable end of making wood-blocks so durable
that nine hundred thousand impressions of a
delicate onea view of Newcastlewere printed
off, without perceptible diminution of effect.
And, continues a foot-note, " as evidence of this,
it is impossible to distinguish the cuts introduced
into the last edition of Birds from those previously
published. This is due to the system
peculiar to Thomas Bewick, of lowering all the
more delicate parts."  Reader, did you ever see
a woodcut in its original block? If not, you
will be surprised and delighted, on a first view,
to see what a beautiful object it is.

Altogether, the public may be glad of the
volume, and, as regards the literary part of it,
particularly pleased. For it is an autobiography
(who does not love an autobiography?) showing
Bewick, the man, in a charming aspect. His
early life, his boyish scrapes, his gradual growth
of character, his first' essays in drawing
all delightfully, because naturally, told. The
reader has before him the kind simple upright
nature of the man; the love for field sports,
tempered by such tender humanity that, even
for the purposes of the pencil, to kill a bird
was painful to him. Bewick's pedestrian tour
to Cumberland, Carlisle, &c., proceeding to
Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Highlands of
Scotland, is a pleasant piece of travel. In it
one sees the careful Northumbrian turn of mind
genialised, and assimilating with Scotch
hospitality as well as Scotch shrewdness. A
presentiment of coming sorrow, by the death of
his father, mother, and sister, felt by Bewick
suddenly, while gaily sliding on the ice at
Ovingham, is very remarkable.

As Bewick gets old, he becomes fond of moral
reflections, and not a little addicted to aged
prosing; but still it is Bewick who writes, and
the old-fashioned picture of an old-fashioned
mind is characteristic, and appropriate to the
close of that calm career. Few who have loved
the man in his works, can look at the last
vignette in the Memoir, which is also the last that
Bewick ever cut in wood, without something of
the tender regret with which one might regard
the headstone of a departed friend.

The headstone, in this instance, is, as a note
informs us, a view of Cherryburn (Bewick's
birthplace), with Mickley Bank in the distance,
and a funeral procession descending the sloping
pasture towards the boat, waiting to convey it
across the Tyne to the last resting-place of the
family at Ovingham.


THIS is the fortune of a certain Church:
To put away perversely from her eyes
The glorious charter of her liberties,
Which vindicates the right of honest search,
And with a timorous anger to besmirch
Those of her servants to whom God gave brains,
And grace to use them. But behold her gains!
So will she be left laggard in the lurch
Of healthy progress; stagnant, though the plan
Of Heaven is action; void of leaf and bloom,
Though these work ever up in Nature's loom:
And, since she does not know an honest man
When she has got him, she, in her dry schools,
At last will garner none but knaves and fools.


Yet in that Church dwells not the narrow fault!
She is not built nor founded narrowly:
In her first birthright is a grandeur free,
A mighty strength to bear the strong assault
Of growing knowledge; strength that need not halt