De Libris: Prose and Verse
by Austin Dobson
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Vt Mel Os, sic Cor Melos afficit, & reficit. Deuteromelia.

A mixture of a Song doth ever adde Pleasure. BACON (adapted).


Copyright 1908 by The Macmillan Company





[The Author desires to express his thanks to Lord Northcliffe, Messrs. Macmillan and Co., Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co., Mr. William Heinemann, and Messrs. Virtue and Co., for kind permission to reprint those pieces in this volume concerning which no specific arrangements were made on their first appearance in type.]


Prologue On Some Books And Their Associations An Epistle To An Editor Bramston's "Man Of Taste" The Passionate Printer To His Love M. Rouquet On The Arts The Friend Of Humanity And The Rhymer The Parent's Assistant A Pleasant Invective Against Printing Two Modern Book Illustrators—I. Kate Greenaway A Song Of The Greenaway Child Two Modern Book Illustrators—Ii. Mr. Hugh Thomson Horatian Ode On The Tercentenary Of "Don Quixote" The Books Of Samuel Rogers Pepys' "Diary" A French Critic On Bath A Welcome From The "Johnson Club" Thackeray's "Esmond" A Miltonic Exercise Fresh Facts About Fielding The Happy Printer Cross Readings—And Caleb Whitefoord The Last Proof General Index


* THE OTTER HUNT IN THE "COMPLEAT ANGLER." From an unpublished pen-drawing by Mr. Hugh Thomson Frontispiece

*GROUP OF CHILDREN. From the original pen-drawing by Kate Greenaway for The Library, 1881

*PENCIL-SKETCHES, by the same (No. 1)

*PENCIL-SKETCH, by the same (No. 2)

*PENCIL-SKETCHES, by the same (No. 3)

*PENCIL-SKETCH, by the same (No. 4)

THE BROWN BOOK-PLATE. From the original design by Mr. Hugh Thomson in the possession of Mr. Ernest Brown

*SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY AT THE ASSIZES. From a first rough pencil-sketch, by the same, for Days with Sir Roger de Coverley, 1886

PEN-SKETCHES, by the same, on the Half-Title of the Ballad of Beau Brocade, 1892. From the originals in the possession of Mr. A. T.A. Dobson

*PEN-SKETCH (TRIPLET), by the same, on a Flyleaf of Peg Woffington, 1899

EVELINA AND THE BRANGHTONS, by the same. From the Cranford Evelina, 1903

LADY CASTLEWOOD AND HER SON, by the same. From the Cranford Esmond, 1905

MERCERY LANE, CANTERBURY, by the same. From the original pencil-drawing for Highways and Byways in Kent, 1907

The originals of the illustrations preceded by an asterisk are in the possession of the Author.


New books can have few associations. They may reach us on the best deckle-edged Whatman paper, in the newest types of famous presses, with backs of embossed vellum, with tasteful tasselled strings,—and yet be no more to us than the constrained and uneasy acquaintances of yesterday. Friends they may become to-morrow, the day after,—perhaps "hunc in annum et plures" But for the time being they have neither part nor lot in our past of retrospect and suggestion. Of what we were, of what we like or liked, they know nothing; and we—if that be possible—know even less of them. Whether familiarity will breed contempt, or whether they will come home to our business and bosom,—these are things that lie on the lap of the Fates.

But it is to be observed that the associations of old books, as of new books, are not always exclusively connected with their text or format,—are sometimes, as a matter of fact, independent of both. Often they are memorable to us by length of tenure, by propinquity,—even by their patience under neglect. We may never read them; and yet by reason of some wholly external and accidental characteristic, it would be a wrench to part with them if the moment of separation—the inevitable hour—should arrive at last. Here, to give an instance in point, is a stained and battered French folio, with patched corners,—Mons. N. Renouard's translation of the Metamorphoses d'Ovide, 1637, "enrichies de figures a chacune Fable" (very odd figures some of them are!) and to be bought "chez Pierre Billaine, rue Sainct Iacques, a la Bonne-Foy, deuant S. Yues." It has held no honoured place upon the shelves; it has even resided au rez-de-chaussee,—that is to say, upon the floor; but it is not less dear,— not less desirable. For at the back of the "Dedication to the King" (Lewis XIII. to wit), is scrawled in a slanting, irregular hand: "Pour mademoiselle de mons Son tres humble et tres obeissant Serviteur St. Andre." Between the fourth and fifth word, some one, in a smaller writing of later date, has added "par" and after "St. Andre," the signature "Vandeuvre." In these irrelevant (and unsolicited) interpolations, I take no interest. But who was Mlle. de Mons? As Frederick Locker sings:

Did She live yesterday or ages back? What colour were the eyes when bright and waking? And were your ringlets fair, or brown, or black, Poor little Head! that long has done with aching![1]

"Ages back" she certainly did not live, for the book is dated "1637," and "yesterday" is absurd. But that her eyes were bright,—nay, that they were particularly lively and vivacious, even as they are in the sanguine sketches of Antoine Watteau a hundred years afterwards, I am "confidous"—as Mrs. Slipslop would say. For my theory (in reality a foregone conclusion which I shrink from dispersing by any practical resolvent) is, that Mile. de Mons was some delightful seventeenth—century French child, to whom the big volume had been presented as a picture-book. I can imagine the alert, strait-corseted little figure, with ribboned hair, eagerly craning across the tall folio; and following curiously with her finger the legends under the copper "figures,"—"Narcisse en fleur," "Ascalaphe en hibou," "Jason endormant le dragon,"—and so forth, with much the same wonder that the Sinne-Beelden of Jacob Cats must have stirred in the little Dutchwomen of Middelburg. There can be no Mlle. de Mons but this,—and for me she can never grow old!


[1] This quatrain has the distinction of having been touched upon by Thackeray. When Mr. Locker's manuscript went to the Cornhill Magazine in 1860, it ran thus:

Did she live yesterday, or ages sped? What colour were the eyes when bright and waking? And were your ringlets fair? Poor little head! —Poor little heart! that long has done with aching.

Sometimes it comes to pass that the association is of a more far-fetched and fanciful kind. In the great Ovid it lies in an inscription: in my next case it is "another-guess" matter. The folio this time is the Sylva Sylvarum of the "Right Hon. Francis Lo. Verulam. Viscount St. Alban," of whom some people still prefer to speak as Lord Bacon. 'Tis only the "sixt Edition"; but it was to be bought at the Great Turk's Head, "next to the Mytre Tauerne" (not the modern pretender, be it observed!), which is in itself a feature of interest. A former possessor, from his notes, appears to have been largely preoccupied with that ignoble clinging to life which so exercised Matthew Arnold, for they relate chiefly to laxative simples for medicine; and he comforts himself, in April, 1695, by transcribing Bacon's reflection that "a Life led in Religion and in Holy Exercises" conduces to longevity,—an aphorism which, however useful as an argument for length of days, is a rather remote reason for religion. But what to me is always most seductive in the book is, that to this edition (not copy, of course) of 1651 Master Izaak Walton, when he came, in his Compleat Angler of 1653, to discuss such abstract questions as the transmission of sound under water, and the ages of carp and pike, must probably have referred. He often mentions "Sir Francis Bacon's" History of Life and Death, which is included in the volume. No doubt it would be more reasonable and more "congruous" that Bacon's book should suggest Bacon. But there it is. That illogical "succession of ideas" which puzzled my Uncle Toby, invariably recalls to me, not the imposing folio to be purchased "next to the Mytre Tauerne" in Fleet Street, but the unpretentious eighteenpenny octavo which, two years later, was on sale at Richard Marriot's in St. Dunstan's churchyard hard by, and did no more than borrow its erudition from the riches of the Baconian storehouse.

Life, and its prolongation, is again the theme of the next book (also mentioned, by the way, in Walton) which I take up, though unhappily it has no inscription. It is a little old calf-clad copy of Lewis Cornaro's Sure and Certain Methods of attaining a Long and Healthful Life, 4th ed., 24mo, 1727; and was bought at the Bewick sale of February, 1884, as having once belonged to Robert Elliot Bewick, only son of the famous old Newcastle wood-engraver. As will be shown later, it is easy to be misled in these matters, but I cannot help believing that this volume, which looks as if it had been re-bound, is the one Thomas Bewick mentions in his Memoir as having been his companion in those speculative wanderings over the Town Moor or the Elswick Fields, when, as an apprentice, he planned his future a la Franklin, and devised schemes for his conduct in life. In attaining Cornaro's tale of years he did not succeed; though he seems to have faithfully practised the periods of abstinence enjoined (but probably not observed) by another of the "noble Venetian's" professed admirers, Mr. Addison of the Spectator.

If I have admitted a momentary misgiving as to the authenticity of the foregoing relic of the "father of white line," there can be none about the next item to which I now come. Once, on a Westminster bookstall, long since disappeared, I found a copy of a seventh edition of the Pursuits of Literature of T.J. Mathias, Queen Charlotte's Treasurer's Clerk. Brutally cut down by the binder, that durus arator had unexpectedly spared a solitary page for its manuscript comment, which was thoughtfully turned up and folded in. It was a note to this couplet in Mathias, his Dialogue II.:—

From Bewick's magick wood throw borrow'd rays O'er many a page in gorgeous Bulmer's blaze,—

"gorgeous Bulmer" (the epithet is over-coloured!) being the William Bulmer who, in 1795, issued the Poems of Goldsmith and Parnell. "I" (says the writer of the note) "was chiefly instrumental to this ingenious artist's [Bewick's] excellence in this art. I first initiated his master, Mr. Ra. Beilby (of Newcastle) into the art, and his first essay was the execution of the cuts in my Treatise on Mensuration, printed in 4to, 1770. Soon after I recommended the same artist to execute the cuts to Dr. Horsley's edition of the works of Newton. Accordingly Mr. B. had the job, who put them into the hands of his assistant, Mr. Bewick, who executed them as his first work in wood, and that in a most elegant manner, tho' spoiled in the printing by John Nichols, the Black-letter printer. C.H. 1798."

"C.H." is Dr. Charles Hutton, the Woolwich mathematician. His note is a little in the vaunting vein of that "founder of fortun's," the excellent Uncle Pumblechook of Great Expectations, for his services scarcely amounted to "initiating" Bewick or his master into the art of engraving on wood. Moreover, his memory must have failed him, for Bewick, and not Beilby, did the majority of the cuts to the Mensuration, including a much-praised diagram of the tower of St. Nicholas Church at Newcastle, afterwards a familiar object in the younger man's designs and tail-pieces. Be this as it may, Dr. Hutton's note was surely worth rescuing from the ruthless binder's plough.

Between the work of Thomas Bewick and the work of Samuel Pepys, it is idle to attempt any ingenious connecting link, save the fact that they both wrote autobiographically. The "Pepys" in question here, however, is not the famous Diary, but the Secretary to the Admiralty's "only other acknowledged work," namely, the privately printed Memoires Relating to the State of the Royal Navy of England, for Ten Years, 1690; and this copy may undoubtedly lay claim to exceptional interest. For not only does it comprise those manuscript corrections in the author's handwriting, which Dr. Tanner reproduced in his excellent Clarendon Press reprint of last year, but it includes the two portrait plates by Robert White after Kneller. The larger is bound in as a frontispiece; the smaller (the ex-libris) is inserted at the beginning. The main attraction of the book to me, however, is its previous owners—one especially. My immediate predecessor was a well-known collector, Professor Edward Solly, at whose sale in 1886 I bought it; and he in his turn had acquired it in 1877, at Dr. Rimbault's sale. Probably what drew us all to the little volume was not so much its disclosure of the lamentable state of the Caroline navy, and of the monstrous toadstools that flourished so freely in the ill-ventilated holds of His Majesty's ships-of-war, as the fact that it had once belonged to that brave old philanthropist, Captain Thomas Coram of the Foundling Hospital. To him it was presented in March, 1724, by one C. Jackson; and he afterwards handed it on to a Mr. Mills. Pasted at the end is Coram's autograph letter, dated "June 10th, 1746." "To Mr. Mills These. Worthy Sir I happend to find among my few Books, Mr. Pepys his memoires, w'ch I thought might be acceptable to you & therefore pray you to accept of it. I am w'th much Respect Sir your most humble Ser't. THOMAS CORAM."

At the Foundling Hospital is a magnificent full-length of Coram, with curling white locks and kindly, weather-beaten face, from the brush of his friend and admirer, William Hogarth. It is to Hogarth and his fellow-Governor at the Foundling, John Wilkes, that my next jotting relates. These strange colleagues in charity afterwards—as is well known—quarrelled bitterly over politics. Hogarth caricatured Wilkes in the Times: Wilkes replied by a North Briton article (No. 17) so scurrilous and malignant that Hogarth was stung into rejoining with that famous squint-eyed semblance of his former crony, which has handed him down to posterity more securely than the portraits of Zoffany and Earlom. Wilkes's action upon this was to reprint his article with the addition of a bulbous-nosed woodcut of Hogarth "from the Life." These facts lent interest to an entry which for years had been familiar to me in the Sale Catalogue of Mr. H.P. Standly, and which ran thus: "The NORTH BRITON, No. 17, with a PORTRAIT of HOGARTH in WOOD; and a severe critique on some of his works: in Ireland's handwriting is the following—'This paper was given to me by Mrs. Hogarth, Aug. 1782, and is the identical North Briton purchased by Hogarth, and carried in his pocket many days to show his friends.'" The Ireland referred to (as will presently appear) was Samuel Ireland of the Graphic Illustrations. When, in 1892, dispersed items of the famous Joly collection began to appear sporadically in the second-hand catalogues, I found in that of a well-known London bookseller an entry plainly describing this one, and proclaiming that it came "from the celebrated collection of Mr. Standly, of St. Neots." Unfortunately, the scrap of paper connecting it with Mrs. Hogarth's present to Ireland had been destroyed. Nevertheless, I secured my prize, had it fittingly bound up with the original number which accompanied it; and here and there, in writing about Hogarth, bragged consequentially about my fortunate acquisition. Then came a day—a day to be marked with a black stone!—when in the British Museum Print Room, and looking through the "—Collection," for the moment deposited there, I came upon another copy of the North Briton, bearing in Samuel Ireland's writing a notification to the effect that it was the Identical No. 17, etc., etc. Now which is the right one? Is either the right one? I inspect mine distrustfully. It is soiled, and has evidently been folded; it is scribbled with calculations; it has all the aspect of a venerable vetuste. That it came from the Standly collection, I am convinced. But that other pretender in the (now dispersed) "—Collection"? And was not Samuel Ireland (nomen invisum!) the, if not fraudulent, at least too-credulous father of one William Henry Ireland, who, at eighteen, wrote Vortigern and Rowena, and palmed it off as genuine Shakespeare? I fear me—I much fear me—that, in the words of the American showman, I have been "weeping over the wrong grave."

To prolong these vagrant adversaria would not be difficult. Here, for example, dated 1779, are the Coplas of the poet Don Jorge Manrique, which, having no Spanish, I am constrained to study in the renderings of Longfellow. Don Jorge was a Spaniard of the Spaniards, Commendador of Montizon, Knight of the Order of Santiago, Captain of a company in the Guards of Castile, and withal a valiant soldado, who died of a wound received in battle. But the attraction of my volume is, that, at the foot of the title-page, in beautiful neat script, appear the words, "Robert Southey. Paris. 17 May 1817,"—being the year in which Southey stayed at Como with Walter Savage Landor. Here are the Works of mock-heroic John Philips, 1720, whose Blenheim the Tories pitted against Addison's Campaign, and whose Splendid Shilling still shines lucidly among eighteenth-century parodies. This copy bears—also on the title-page—the autograph of James Thomson, not yet the author of The Seasons; and includes the book-plate of Lord Prestongrange,—that "Lord Advocate Grant" of whom you may read in the Kidnapped of "R.L.S." Here again is an edition (the first) of Hazlitt's Lectures on the English Comic Writers, annotated copiously in MS. by a contemporary reader who was certainly not an admirer; and upon whom W.H.'s cockneyisms, Gallicisms, egotisms, and "ille-isms" generally, seem to have had the effect of a red rag upon an inveterately insular bull. "A very ingenious but pert, dogmatical, and Prejudiced Writer" is his uncomplimentary addition to the author's name. Then here is Cunningham's Goldsmith of 1854, vol. i., castigated with equal energy by that Alaric Alexander Watts,[2] of whose egregious strictures upon Wordsworth we read not long since in the Cornhill Magazine, and who will not allow Goldsmith to say, in the Haunch of Venison, "the porter and eatables followed behind." "They could scarcely have followed before,"—he objects, in the very accents of Boeotia. Nor will he pass "the hollow-sounding bittern" of the Deserted Village. A barrel may sound hollow, but not a bird—this wiseacre acquaints us.


[2] So he was christened. But Lockhart chose to insist that his second pre-name should properly be "Attila," and thenceforth he was spoken of in this way.

Had the gifted author of Lyrics of the Heart never heard of rhetorical figures? But he is not Goldsmith's only hyper-critic. Charles Fox, who admired The Traveller, thought Olivia's famous song in the Vicar "foolish," and added that "folly" was a bad rhyme to "melancholy."[3] He must have forgotten Milton's:—

Bird that shunn'st the noise of folly, Most musicall, most melancholy!

Or he might have gone to the other camp, and remembered Pope on Mrs. Howard:—

Not warp'd by Passion, aw'd by Rumour, Not grave thro' Pride,, or gay thro' Folly, An equal Mixture of good Humour, And sensible soft Melancholy.


[3] Recollections, by Samuel Rogers, 2nd ed., 1859, 43.


"Jamais les arbres verts n'ont essaye d'etre bleus."— THEOPHILE GAUTIER.

"A new Review!" You make me tremble (Though as to that, I can dissemble Till I hear more). But is it "new"? And will it be a real Review?— I mean, a Court wherein the scales Weigh equally both him that fails, And him that hits the mark?—a place Where the accus'd can plead his case, If wrong'd? All this I need to know Before I (arrogant!) say "Go."

"We, that are very old" (the phrase Is STEELE'S, not mine!), in former days, Have seen so many "new Reviews" Arise, arraign, absolve, abuse;— Proclaim their mission to the top (Where there's still room!), then slowly drop,

Shrink down, fade out, and sans preferment, Depart to their obscure interment;— We should be pardon'd if we doubt That a new venture can hold out.

It will, you say. Then don't be "new"; Be "old." The Old is still the True. Nature (said GAUTIER) never tries To alter her accustom'd dyes; And all your novelties at best Are ancient puppets, newly drest. What you must do, is not to shrink From speaking out the thing you think; And blaming where 'tis right to blame, Despite tradition and a Name. Yet don't expand a trifling blot, Or ban the book for what it's not (That is the poor device of those Who cavil where they can't oppose!); Moreover (this is very old!), Be courteous—even when you scold!

Blame I put first, but not at heart. You must give Praise the foremost part;— Praise that to those who write is breath Of Life, if just; if unjust, Death. Praise then the things that men revere; Praise what they love, not what they fear; Praise too the young; praise those who try; Praise those who fail, but by and by May do good work. Those who succeed, You'll praise perforce,—so there's no need To speak of that. And as to each, See you keep measure in your speech;— See that your praise be so exprest That the best man shall get the best; Nor fail of the fit word you meant Because your epithets are spent. Remember that our language gives No limitless superlatives; And SHAKESPEARE, HOMER, should have more Than the last knocker at the door!

"We, that are very old!"—May this Excuse the hint you find amiss. My thoughts, I feel, are what to-day Men call vieux jeu. Well!—"let them say." The Old, at least, we know: the New (A changing Shape that all pursue!) Has been,—may be, a fraud. —But there! Wind to your sail! Vogue la galere!


Were you to inquire respectfully of the infallible critic (if such indeed there be!) for the source of the aphorism, "Music has charms to soothe a savage beast," he would probably "down" you contemptuously in the Johnsonian fashion by replying that you had "just enough of learning to misquote";—that the last word was notoriously "breast" and not "beast";—and that the line, as Macaulay's, and every Board School-boy besides must be abundantly aware, is to be found in Congreve's tragedy of The Mourning Bride. But he would be wrong; and, in fact, would only be confirming the real author's contention that "Sure, of all blockheads, Scholars are the worst." For, whether connected with Congreve or not, the words are correctly given; and they occur in the Rev. James Bramston's satire, The Man of Taste, 1733, running in a couplet as follows:—

Musick has charms to sooth a savage beast, And therefore proper at a Sheriff's feast.

Moreover, according to the handbooks, this is not the only passage from a rather obscure original which has held its own. "Without black-velvet-britches, what is man?"—is another (a speculation which might have commended itself to Don Quixote);[4] while The Art of Politicks, also by Bramston, contains a third:—

What's not destroy'd by Time's devouring Hand? Where's Troy, and where's the May-Pole in the Strand?

Polonius would perhaps object against a "devouring hand." But the survival of—at least—three fairly current citations from a practically forgotten minor Georgian satirist would certainly seem to warrant a few words upon the writer himself, and his chief performance in verse.

The Rev. James Bramston was born in 1694 or 1695 at Skreens, near Chelmsford, in Essex, his father, Francis Bramston, being the fourth son of Sir Moundeford Bramston, Master in Chancery, whose father again was Sir John Bramston, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, generally known as "the elder."[5]James Bramston was admitted to Westminster School in 1708. In 1713 he became a scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, proceeding B.A. in 1717, and M.A. in 1720. In 1723 he was made Vicar of Lurgashall, and in 1725 of Harting, both of which Sussex livings he held until his death in March 1744, ten weeks before the death of Pope. His first published verses (1715) were on Dr. Radcliffe. In 1729 he printed The Art of Politicks, one of the many contemporary imitations of the Ars Poetica; and in 1733 The Man of Taste. He also wrote a mediocre variation on the Splendid Shilling of John Philips, entitled The Crooked Sixpence, 1743. Beyond a statement in Dallaway's Sussex that "he [Bramston] was a man of original humour, the fame and proofs of whose colloquial wit are still remembered"; and the supplementary information that, as incumbent of Lurgashall, he received an annual modus of a fat buck and doe from the neighbouring Park of Petworth, nothing more seems to have been recorded of him.


[4] Whose grand tenue or holiday wear—Cervantes tells us—was "a doublet of fine cloth and velvet breeches and shoes to match." (ch. 1).

[5] Sir John Bramston, the younger, was the author of the "watery incoherent Autobiography"—as Carlyle calls it—published by the Camden Society in 1845.

The Crooked Sixpence is, at best, an imitation of an imitation; and as a Miltonic pastiche does not excel that of Philips, or rival the more serious Lewesdon Hill of Crowe. The Art of Politicks, in its turn, would need a fairly long commentary to make what is only moderately interesting moderately intelligible, while eighteenth-century copies of Horace's letter to the Pisos are "plentiful as blackberries." But The Man of Taste, based, as it is, on the presentment of a never extinct type, the connoisseur against nature, is still worthy of passing notice.

In the sub-title of the poem, it is declared to be "Occasion'd by an Epistle of Mr. Pope's on that Subject" [i.e. "Taste"]. This was what is now known as No. 4 of the Moral Essays, "On the Use of Riches." But its first title In 1731 was "Of Taste"; and this was subsequently altered to "Of False Taste." It was addressed to Pope's friend, Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington; and, under the style of "Timon's Villa," employed, for its chief illustration of wasteful and vacuous magnificence, the ostentatious seat which James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, had erected at Canons, near Edgware. The story of Pope's epistle does not belong to this place. But in the print of The Man of Taste, William Hogarth, gratifying concurrently a personal antipathy, promptly attacked Pope, Burlington, and his own bete noire, Burlington's architect, William Kent. Pope, to whom Burlington acts as hodman, is depicted whitewashing Burlington Gate, Piccadilly, which is labelled "Taste," and over which rises Kent's statue, subserviently supported at the angles of the pediment by Raphael and Michelangelo. In his task, the poet, a deformed figure in a tye-wig, bountifully bespatters the passers-by, particularly the chariot of the Duke of Chandos. The satire was not very brilliant or ingenious; but its meaning was clear. Pope was prudent enough to make no reply; though, as Mr. G.S. Layard shows in his Suppressed Plates, it seems that the print was, or was sought to be, called in by those concerned. Bramston's poem, which succeeded in 1733, does not enter into the quarrel, it may be because of the anger aroused by the pictorial reply. But if—as announced on its title-page,—it was suggested by Pope's epistle, it would also seem to have borrowed its name from Hogarth's caricature.

It was first issued in folio by Pope's publisher, Lawton Gilliver of Fleet Street, and has a frontispiece engraved by Gerard Vandergucht. This depicts a wide-skirted, effeminate-looking personage, carrying a long cane with a head fantastically carved, and surrounded by various objects of art. In the background rises what is apparently intended for the temple of a formal garden; and behind this again, a winged ass capers skittishly upon the summit of Mount Helicon. As might be anticipated, the poem is in the heroic measure of Pope. But though many of its couplets are compact and pointed, Bramston has not yet learned from his model the art of varying his pausation, and the period closes his second line with the monotony of a minute gun. Another defect, noticed by Warton, is that the speaker throughout is made to profess the errors satirised, and to be the unabashed mouthpiece of his own fatuity, "Mine," say the concluding lines,—

Mine are the gallant Schemes of Politesse, For books, and buildings, politicks, and dress. This is True Taste, and whoso likes it not, Is blockhead, coxcomb, puppy, fool, and sot.

One is insensibly reminded of a quotation from P.L. Courier, made in the Cornhill many years since by the once famous "Jacob Omnium" when replying controversially to the author of Ionica, "Je vois"—says Courier, after recapitulating a string of abusive epithets hurled at him by his opponent—"je vois ce qu'il veut dire: il entend que lui et moi sont d'avis different; et c'est la sa maniere de s'exprimer." It was also the manner of our Man of Taste.

The second line of the above quotation from Bramston gives us four of the things upon which his hero lays down the law. Let us see what he says about literature. As a professing critic he prefers books with notes:—

Tho' Blackmore's works my soul with raptures fill, With notes by Bently they'd be better still.

Swift he detests—not of course for detestable qualities, but because he is so universally admired. In poetry he holds by rhyme as opposed to blank verse:—

Verse without rhyme I never could endure, Uncouth in numbers, and in sense obscure. To him as Nature, when he ceas'd to see, Milton's an universal Blank to me ... Thompson [sic] write blank, but know that for that reason These lines shall live, when thine are out of season. Rhyme binds and beautifies the Poet's lays As London Ladies owe their shape to stays.

In this the Man of Taste is obviously following the reigning fashion. But if we may assume Bramston himself to approve what his hero condemns, he must have been in advance of his age, for blank verse had but sparse advocates at this time, or for some time to come. Neither Gray, nor Johnson, nor Goldsmith were ever reconciled to what the last of them styles "this unharmonious measure." Goldsmith, in particular, would probably have been in exact agreement with the couplet as to the controlling powers of rhyme. "If rhymes, therefore," he writes, in the Enquiry into Polite Learning,[6] "be more difficult [than blank verse], for that very reason, I would have our poets write in rhyme. Such a restriction upon the thought of a good poet, often lifts and encreases the vehemence of every sentiment; for fancy, like a fountain, plays highest by diminishing the aperture."[7]


[6] Ed. 1759, p. 151.

[7] Montaigne has a somewhat similar illustration: "As Cleanthes The Man of Taste's idol, in matters dramatic, is said, that as the voice being forciblie pent in the narrow gullet of a trumpet, at last issueth forth more strong and shriller, so me seemes, that a sentence cunningly and closely couched in measure-keeping Posie, darts it selfe forth more furiously, and wounds me even to the quicke". (Essayes, bk. i. ch. xxv. (Florio's translation).

The Man of Taste's idol, in matters dramatic, is Colley Cibber, who, however, deserves the laurel he wears, not for The Careless Husband, his best comedy, but for his Epilogues and other Plays.

It pleases me, that Pope unlaurell'd goes, While Cibber wears the Bays for Play-house Prose, So Britain's Monarch once uncover'd sate, While Bradshaw bully'd in a broad-brimmed hat,—

a reminiscence of King Charles's trial which might have been added to Bramston stock quotations. The productions of "Curll's chaste press" are also this connoisseur's favourite reading,—the lives of players in particular, probably on the now obsolete grounds set forth in Carlyie's essay on Scott.[8] Among these the memoirs of Cibber's "Lady Betty Modish," Mrs. Oldfield, then lately dead, and buried in Westminster Abbey, are not obscurely indicated.


[8] "It has been said. 'There are no English lives worth reading except those of Players, who by the nature of the case have bidden Respectability good-day.'"

In morals our friend—as might be expected circa l730—is a Freethinker and Deist. Tindal is his text-book: his breviary the Fable of the Bees;—

T' Improve In Morals Mandevil I read, And Tyndal's Scruples are my settled Creed. I travell'd early, and I soon saw through Religion all, e'er I was twenty-two. Shame, Pain, or Poverty shall I endure, When ropes or opium can my ease procure? When money's gone, and I no debts can pay, Self-murder is an honourable way. As Pasaran directs I'd end my life, And kill myself, my daughter, and my wife.

He would, of course, have done nothing of the kind; nor, for the matter of that, did his Piedmontese preceptor.[9]


[9] Count Passeran was a freethinking nobleman who wrote A Philosophical Discourse on Death, in which he defended suicide, though he refrained from resorting to it himself. Pope refers to him in the Epilogue to the Satires, Dialogue i. 124:—

If Blount despatch'd himself, he play'd the man, And so may'st thou, illustrious Passeran!

Nil admirari is the motto of the Man of Taste in Building, where he is naturally at home. He can see no symmetry in the Banqueting House, or in St. Paul's Covent Garden, or even in St. Paul's itself.

Sure wretched Wren was taught by bungling Jones, To murder mortar, and disfigure stones!

"Substantial" Vanbrugh he likes-=chiefly because his work would make "such noble ruins." Cost is his sole criterion, and here he, too, seems to glance obliquely at Canons:—

Dorick, Ionick, shall not there be found, But it shall cost me threescore thousand pound.

But this was moderate, as the Edgware "folly" reached L250,000. In Gardening he follows the latest whim for landscape. Here is his burlesque of the principles of Bridgeman and Batty Langley:—

Does it not merit the beholder's praise, What's high to sink? and what is low to raise? Slopes shall ascend where once a green-house stood, And in my horse-pond I will plant a wood. Let misers dread the hoarded gold to waste, Expence and alteration show a Taste.

As a connoisseur of Painting this enlightened virtuoso is given over to Hogarth's hated dealers in the Black Masters:—

In curious paintings I'm exceeding nice, And know their several beauties by their Price. Auctions and Sales I constantly attend, But chuse my pictures by a skilful Friend, Originals and copies much the same, The picture's value is the painter's name.[10]

Of Sculpture he says—

In spite of Addison and ancient Rome, Sir Cloudesly Shovel's is my fav'rite tomb.[11] How oft have I with admiration stood, To view some City-magistrate in wood? I gaze with pleasure on a Lord May'r's head Cast with propriety in gilded lead,—

the allusion being obviously to Cheere's manufactory of such popular garden decorations at Hyde Park Corner.


[10]: See post, "M. Ronquet on the Arts," p. 51.

[11]: "Sir Cloudesly Shovel's Monument has very often given me great Offence: Instead of the brave rough English Admiral, which was the distinguishing Character of that plain, gallant Man, he is represented on his Tomb [in Westminster Abbey] by the Figure of a Beau, dressed in a long Perriwig, and reposing himself upon Velvet Cushions under a Canopy of State" (Spectator, March 30, 1711).

In Coins and Medals, true to his instinct for liking the worst the best, he prefers the modern to the antique. In Music, with Hogarth's Rake two years later, he is all for that "Dagon of the nobility and gentry," imported song:—

Without Italian, or without an ear, To Bononcini's musick I adhere;—

though he confesses to a partiality for the bagpipe on the ground that your true Briton "loves a grumbling noise," and he favours organs and the popular oratorios. But his "top talent is a bill of fare":—

Sir Loins and rumps of beef offend my eyes,[12] Pleas'd with frogs fricass[e]ed, and coxcomb-pies. Dishes I chuse though little, yet genteel, Snails[13] the first course, and Peepers[14] crown the meal. Pigs heads with hair on, much my fancy please, I love young colly-flowers if stew'd in cheese, And give ten guineas for a pint of peas! No tatling servants to my table come, My Grace is Silence, and my waiter Dumb.

He is not without his aspirations.

Could I the priviledge of Peer procure, The rich I'd bully, and oppress the poor. To give is wrong, but it is wronger still, On any terms to pay a tradesman's bill. I'd make the insolent Mechanicks stay, And keep my ready-money all for play. I'd try if any pleasure could be found In tossing-up for twenty thousand pound. Had I whole Counties, I to White's would go, And set lands, woods, and rivers at a throw. But should I meet with an unlucky run, And at a throw be gloriously undone; My debts of honour I'd discharge the first, Let all my lawful creditors be curst.


[12] As they did those of Goldsmith's "Beau Tibbs." "I hate your immense loads of meat ... extreme disgusting to those who are in the least acquainted with high life" (Citizen of the World, 1762, i. 241).

[13]: The edible or Roman snail (Helix pomatia) is still known to continental cuisines—and gipsy camps. It was introduced into England as an epicure's dish in the seventeenth century.

[14]: Young chickens.

Here he perfectly exemplifies that connexion between connoisseurship and play which Fielding discovers in Book xiii. of Tom Jones.[15] An anecdote of C.J. Fox aptly exhibits the final couplet in action, and proves that fifty years later, at least, the same convenient code was in operation. Fox once won about eight thousand pounds at cards. Thereupon an eager creditor promptly presented himself, and pressed for payment. "Impossible, Sir," replied Fox," I must first discharge my debts of honour." The creditor expostulated. "Well, Sir, give me your bond." The bond was delivered to Fox, who tore it up and flung the pieces into the fire. "Now, Sir," said he, "my debt to you is a debt of honour," and immediately paid him.[16]


[15] "But the science of gaming is that which above all others employs their thoughts [i.e. the thoughts of the 'young gentlemen of our times']. These are the studies of their graver hours, while for their amusements they have the vast circle of connoisseurship, painting, music, statuary, and natural philosophy, or rather unnatural, which deals in the wonderful, and knows nothing of nature, except her monsters and imperfections" (ch. v.).

[16] Table Talk of Samuel Rogers [by Dyce], 1856, p. 73.

But we must abridge our levies on Pope's imitator. In Dress the Man of Taste's aim seems to have been to emulate his own footman, and at this point comes in the already quoted reference to velvet "inexpressibles"—(a word which, the reader may be interested to learn, is as old as 1793). His "pleasures," as might be expected, like those of Goldsmith's Switzers, "are but low"—

To boon companions I my time would give, With players, pimps, and parasites I'd live. I would with Jockeys from Newmarket dine, And to Rough-riders give my choicest wine ... My ev'nings all I would with sharpers spend, And make the Thief-catcher my bosom friend. In Fig, the Prize-fighter, by day delight, And sup with Colly Cibber ev'ry night.

At which point—and probably in his cups—we leave our misguided fine gentleman of 1733, doubtless a fair sample of many of his class under the second George, and not wholly unknown under that monarch's successors—even to this hour. Le jour va passer; mais la folie ne passera pas!

A parting quotation may serve to illustrate one of those changes of pronunciation which have taken place in so many English words. Speaking of his villa, or country-box, the Man of Taste says—

Pots o'er the door I'll place like Cits balconies, Which Bently calls the Gardens of Adonis.

To make this a peg for a dissertation on the jars of lettuce and fennel grown by the Greeks for the annual Adonis festivals, is needless. But it may be noted that Bramston, with those of his day,—Swift excepted,—scans the "o" in balcony long, a practice which continued far into the nineteenth century. "Contemplate," said Rogers, "is bad enough; but balcony makes me sick."[17] And even in 1857, two years after Rogers's death, the late Frederick Locker, writing of Piccadilly, speaks of "Old Q's" well-known window in that thoroughfare as "Primrose balcony."


[17:]Table Talk, 1856, p. 248.


(Whose name is Amanda.)

With Apologies to the Shade of Christopher Marlowe.

Come live with me and be my Dear; And till that happy bond shall lapse, I'll set your Poutings in Brevier,[l8] Your Praises in the largest CAPS.

There's Diamond—'tis for your Eyes; There's Ruby—that will match your Lips; Pearl, for your Teeth; and Minion-size. To suit your dainty Finger-tips.

In Nonpareil I'll put your Face; In Rubric shall your Blushes rise; There is no Bourgeois in your Case; Your Form can never need "Revise."

Your Cheek seems "Ready for the Press"; Your Laugh as Clarendon is clear; There's more distinction in your Dress Than in the oldest Elzevir.

So with me live, and with me die; And may no "FINIS" e'er intrude To break into mere "Printers' Pie" The Type of our Beatitude!

(ERRATUM.—If my suit you flout, And choose some happier Youth to wed, 'Tis but to cross AMANDA out, And read another name instead.)


[18] "Pronounced Bre-veer" (Printers' Vocabulary).


M. Rouquet's book is a rare duodecimo of some two hundred pages, bound in sheep, which, in the copy before us, has reached that particular stage of disintegration when the scarfskin, without much persuasion, peels away in long strips. Its title is—L'Etat des Arts, en Angleterre. Par M. Rouquet, de l'Academie Royale de Peinture & de Sculpture; and it is "imprime a Paris" though it was to be obtained from John Nourse, "Libraire dans le Strand, proche Temple-barr"—a well-known importer of foreign books, and one of Henry Fielding's publishers. The date is 1755, being the twenty-eighth year of the reign of His Majesty King George the Second—a reign not generally regarded as favourable to art of any kind. In what month of 1755 the little volume was first put forth does not appear; but it must have been before October, when Nourse issued an English version. There is a dedication, in the approved French fashion, to the Marquis de Marigny, "Directeur & Ordonnateur General de ses Batimens, Jardins, Arts, Academies & Manufactures" to Lewis the Fifteenth, above which is a delicate headpiece by M. Charles-Nicolas Cochin (the greatest of the family), where a couple of that artist's well-nourished amorini, insecurely attached to festoons, distribute palms and laurels in vacuity under a coroneted oval displaying fishes. For Monsieur Abel-Francois Poisson, Marquis de Marigny et de Menars, was the younger brother of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, the celebrated Marquise de Pompadour. Cochin's etching is dated "1754"; and the "Approbation" at the end of the volume bears his signature in his capacity of Censeur.

Of the "M. Rouquet" of the title-page biography tells us little; but it may be well, before speaking of his book, to bring that little together. He was a Swiss Protestant of French extraction, born at Geneva in 1702. His Christian names were Jean-Andre; and he had come to England from his native land towards the close of the reign of George the First. Many of his restless compatriots also sought these favoured shores. Labelye, who rose from a barber's shop to be the architect of London Bridge; Liotard, once regarded as a rival of Reynolds; Michael Moser, eventually Keeper of the Royal Academy, had all migrated from the "stormy mansions" where, in the words of Goldsmith's philosophic Wanderer—

Winter ling'ring chills the lap of May.

Like Moser, Rouquet was a chaser and an enameller. He lodged on the south side of Leicester Fields, in a house afterwards the residence of another Switzer of the same craft, that miserable Theodore Gardelle, who in 1761 murdered his landlady, Mrs. King. Of Rouquet's activities as an artist in England there are scant particulars. The ordinary authorities affirm that he imitated and rivalled the popular miniaturist and enameller, Christian Zincke, who retired from practice in 1746; and he is loosely described as "the companion of Hogarth, Garrick, Foote, and the wits of the day." Of his relations with Foote and Garrick there is scant record; but with Hogarth, his near neighbour in the Fields, he was certainly well acquainted, since in 1746 he prepared explanations in French for a number of Hogarth's prints. These took the form of letters to a friend at Paris, and are supposed to have been, if not actually inspired, at least approved by the painter. They usually accompanied all the sets of Hogarth's engravings which went abroad; and, according to George Steevens, it was Hogarth's intention ultimately to have them translated and enlarged. Rouquet followed these a little later by a separate description of "The March to Finchley," designed specially for the edification of Marshal Foucquet de Belle-Isle, who, when the former letters had been written, was a prisoner of war at Windsor. In a brief introduction to this last, the author, hitherto unnamed, is spoken of as "Mr. Rouquet, connu par ses Outrages d'Email."

After thirty years' sojourn in this country, Rouquet transferred himself to Paris. At what precise date he did this is not stated, but by a letter to Hogarth from the French capital, printed by John Ireland, the original of which is in the British Museum, he was there, and had been there several months, in March 1753. The letter gives a highly favourable account of its writer's fortunes. Business is "coming in very smartly," he says. He has been excellently received, and is "perpetualy imploy'd." There is far more encouragement for modern enterprise in Paris than there is in London; and some of his utterances must have rejoiced the soul of his correspondent. As this, for instance—"The humbug virtu is much more out of fashon here than in England, free thinking upon that & other topicks is more common here than amongst you if possible, old pictures & old stories fare's alike, a dark picture is become a damn'd picture." On this account, he inquires anxiously as to the publication of his friend's forthcoming Analysis; he has been raising expectations about it, and he wishes to be the first to introduce it into France. From other sources we learn that (perhaps owing to his relations with Belle-Isle, who had been released in 1745) he had been taken up by Marigny, and also by Cochin, then keeper of the King's Drawings, and soon to be Secretary to the Academy, of which Rouquet himself, by express order of Lewis the Fifteenth, was made a member. Finally, as in the case of Cochin, apartments were assigned to him in the Louvre. Whether he ever returned to this country is doubtful; but, as we have seen, the Etat des Arts was printed at Paris in 1755. That it was suggested—or "commanded"—by Mme. de Pompadour's connoisseur brother, to whom it was inscribed, is a not unreasonable supposition.

In any case, M. Rouquet's definition of the "Arts" is a generous one, almost as wide as Marigny's powers, already sufficiently set forth at the outset of this paper. For not only—as in duty bound—does he treat of Architecture, Sculpture, Painting and Engraving, but he also has chapters on Printing, Porcelain, Gold-and Silver-smiths' Work, Jewelry, Music, Declamation, Auctions, Shop-fronts, Cooking, and even on Medicine and Surgery. Oddly enough, he says nothing of one notable art with which Marigny was especially identified, that "art of creating landscape"—as Walpole happily calls Gardening—which, in this not very "shining period," entered upon a fresh development under Bridgeman and William Kent. Although primarily a Londoner, one would think that M. Rouquet must certainly have had some experience, if not of the efforts of the innovators, at least of the very Batavian performances of Messrs. London and Wise of Brompton; or that he should have found at Nonsuch or Theobalds—at Moor Park or Hampton Court—the pretext for some of his pages—if only to ridicule those "verdant sculptures" at which Pope, who played no small part in the new movement, had laughed in the Guardian; or those fantastic "coats of arms and mottoes in yew, box and holly" over which Walpole also made merry long after in the famous essay so neatly done into French by his friend the Duc de Nivernais. M. Rouquet's curious reticence in this matter cannot have been owing to any consideration for Hogarth's old enemy, William Kent, for Kent had been dead seven years when the Etat des Arts made its appearance.

If, for lack of space, we elect to pass by certain preliminary reflections which the Monthly Review rather unkindly dismisses as a "tedious jumble," M. Rouquet's first subject is History Painting, a branch of the art which, under George the Second, attained to no great excellence. For this M. Rouquet gives three main reasons, the first being that afterwards advanced by Hogarth and Reynolds, namely,—the practical exclusion, in Protestant countries, of pictures from churches. A second cause was the restriction of chamber decorations to portraits and engravings; and a third, the craze of the connoisseur for Hogarth's hated "Black Masters," the productions of defunct foreigners. And this naturally brings about the following digression, quite in Hogarth's own way, against that contemporary charlatan, the picture-dealer:—"English painters have an obstacle to overcome, which equally impedes the progress of their talents and of their fortune. They have to contend with a class of men whose business it is to sell pictures; and as, for these persons, traffic in the works of living, and above all of native artists, would be impossible, they make a point of decrying them, and, as far as they can, of confirming amateurs with whom they have to deal in the ridiculous idea that the older a picture is the more valuable it becomes. See, say they (speaking of some modern effort), it still shines with that ignoble freshness which is to be found in nature; Time will have to indue it with his learned smoke—with that sacred cloud which must some day hide it from the profane eyes of the vulgar in order to reveal to the initiated alone the mysterious beauties of a venerable antiquity."

These words are quite in the spirit of Hogarth's later "Time smoking a Picture." As a matter of fact, they are reproduced almost textually from the writer's letter of five years earlier on the "March to Finchley." To return, however, to History Painting. According to Rouquet, its leading exponent[19] under George the Second was Francis Hayman of the "large noses and shambling legs," now known chiefly as a crony of Hogarth, and a facile but ineffectual illustrator of Shakespeare and Cervantes. In 1754, however, his pictures of See-Saw, Hot Cockles, Blind Man's Buff, and the like, for the supper-boxes at Vauxhall Gardens, with Sayer's prints therefrom, had made his name familiar, although he had not yet painted those more elaborate compositions in the large room next the rotunda, over which Fanny Burney's "Holborn Beau," Mr, Smith, comes to such terrible grief in ch. xlvi. of Evelina. But he had contributed a "Finding of Moses" to the New Foundling Hospital, which is still to be seen in the Court Room there, in company with three other pictures executed concurrently for the remaining compartments, Joseph Highmore's "Hagar and Ishmael," James Wills's "Suffer little Children," and Hogarth's "Moses brought to Pharaoh's Daughter"—the best of the four, as well as the most successful of Hogarth's historical pieces. All these, then recently installed, are mentioned by Rouquet.


[19] This is confirmed by Arthur Murphy: "Every Thing is put out of Hand by this excellent Artist with the utmost Grace and Delicacy, and his History-Pieces have, besides their beautiful Colouring, the most lively Expression of Character" (Gray's Inn Journal, February 9, 1754).

It will be observed that he says nothing about Hogarth's earlier and more ambitious efforts in the "Grand Style," the "Pool of Bethesda" and the "Good Samaritan" at St. Bartholomew's, nor of the "Paul before Felix," also lately added to Lincoln's Inn Hall—omissions which must have sadly exercised the "author" of those monumental works when he came to read his Swiss friend's little treatise. Nor, for the matter of that, does M. Rouquet, when he treats of portrait, refer to Hogarth's masterpiece in this kind, the full-length of Captain Coram at the Foundling. On the other hand, he says a great deal about Hogarth which has no very obvious connection with History Painting. He discusses the Analysis and the serpentine Line of Beauty with far more insight than many of its author's contemporaries; refers feelingly to the Act by which in 1735 the painter had so effectively cornered the pirates; and finally defines his satirical pictures succinctly as follows:—"M. Hogarth has given to England a new class of pictures. They contain a great number of figures, usually seven or eight inches high. These remarkable performances are, strictly speaking, the history of certain vices, to a foreign eye often a little overcharged, but always full of wit and novelty. He understands in his compositions how to make pleasant pretext for satirising the ridiculous and the vicious, by firm and significant strokes, all of which are prompted by a lively, fertile and judicious imagination."

From History Painting to Portrait in Oil, the title given by M. Rouquet to his next chapter, transition is easy. Some of the artists mentioned above were also portrait painters. Besides Captain Coram, for example, Hogarth had already executed that admirable likeness of himself which is now at Trafalgar Square, and which Rouquet must often have seen in its home at Leicester Fields. Highmore too had certainly at this date painted more than one successful portrait of Samuel Richardson, the novelist; and even Hayman had made essay in this direction with the picture of Lord Orford, now in the National Portrait Gallery. A good many of the painters of the last reign must also, during Rouquet's residence in England, have been alive and active, e.g. Jervas, Dahl, Aikman, Thornhill and Richardson. But M. Rouquet devotes most of his pages in this respect to Kneller, whose not altogether beneficent influence long survived him. Strangely enough, Rouquet does not mention that egregious and fashionable face-painter, Sir Joshua's master, Thomas Hudson, whose "fair tied-wigs, blue velvet coats, and white satin waistcoats" (all executed by his assistants) reigned undisputed until he was eclipsed by his greater pupil. The two artists in portraiture selected by Rouquet for special notice are Allan Ramsay and the younger Vanloo (Jean Baptiste). Both were no doubt far above their predecessors; but Ramsay would specially appeal to Rouquet by his continental training, and Vanloo by his French manner and the superior variety of his attitudes.[20] The only other name Rouquet recalls is that of the drapery-painter Joseph Vanhaken; and we suspect it is to Rouquet that we owe the pleasant anecdote of the two painters who, for the sum of L800 a year, pre-empted his exclusive and inestimable services, to the wholesale discomfiture of their brethren of the brush. The rest shall be told in Rouquet's words:—"The best [artists] were no longer able to paint a hand, a coat, a background; they were forced to learn, which meant additional labour—what a misfortune! Henceforth there arrived no more to Vanhaken from different quarters of London, nor by coach from the most remote towns of England, canvases of all sizes, where one or more heads were painted, under which the painter who forwarded them had been careful to add, pleasantly enough, the description of the figures, stout or slim, great or small, which were to be appended. Nothing could be more absurd than this arrangement; but it would exist still—if Vanhaken existed."[21]


[20] Another French writer, the Abbe le Blanc, gives a depressing account of English portraits before Vanloo came to England: "At some distance one might easily mistake a dozen of them for twelve copies of the same original. Some have the head turned to the left, others to the right; and this is the most sensible difference to be observed between them. Moreover, excepting the face, you find in all the same neck, the same arms, the same flesh, the same attitude; and to say all, you observe no more life than design in those pretended portraits. Properly speaking, they [the artists] are not painters, they know how to lay colours on the canvas; but they know not how to animate it" (Letters on the English and French Nations, 1747, i. 160).

[21] He died in 1749.]

"La peinture a l'huile, C'est bien difficile; Mais c'est beaucoup plus beau Que la peinture a l'eau." About la peinture a l'eau, M. Rouquet says very little, in all probability because the English Water Colour School, which, with the advance of topographic art, grew so rapidly in the second half of the century, was yet to come. He refers, however, with approval to the gouaches of Joseph Goupy, Lady Burlington's drawing-master, perhaps better known to posterity by his (or her ladyship's) caricature of Handel as the "Charming Brute." (Caricature, by the way, is a branch of Georgian Art which M. Rouquet neglects.) As regards landscape and animal painting, he "abides in generalities"; but he must have been acquainted with the sea pieces of Monamy, and Hogarth's and Walpole's friend Samuel Scott; and should, one would think, have known of the horses and dogs of Wootton and Seymour. Upon Enamel he might be expected to enlarge, although he mentions but one master, his own model, Zincke, who carried the art of portrait in this way much farther than any predecessor. Moreover, like Petitot, he made discoveries which he was wise enough to keep to himself. "It is most humiliating," says Rouquet, "for the genius of painting that it can sometimes exist alone. M. Zincke left no pupil." Seeing that Rouquet is also accused of jealously guarding his own contributions to the perfection of his art, the words are—as Diderot says—remarkable.

With Sculpture, chiefly employed at this date for mortuary purposes, he has less opportunity of being indefinite, since there were but three notabilities, Scheemakers, Rysbrack, and Roubillac,—all foreigners. Of these Scheemakers, whom Chesterfield regarded as a mere stone-cutter, and who did the Shakespeare in Westminster Abbey, is certainly the least considerable. Next come Rysbrack, whom Walpole and Rouquet would put highest, the latter apparently because Rysbrack had been spoken of contemptuously by the Abbe le Blanc. But the first is assuredly Roubillac, whose monument to Mrs. Nightingale, however, belongs to a later date than the Etat des Arts, though he had already achieved the masterly figure of Eloquence on the Argyll monument. The only other sculptor referred to by Rouquet is Gabriel Cibber, whose statues of Madness and Melancholy, long at Bedlam, and now at South Kensington, certainly deserve his praise. But Cibber died in 1700, and belongs to the Caroline epoch. He no doubt owes his place in the Etat des Arts to the fact that he had been abused in the already-mentioned Letters on the English and French Nations.

At this point we may turn M. Rouquet's pages more rapidly. It is not necessary to linger over his account of Silk Stuffs, more excellent in his opinion by their material than their make up. Under Medallists he commends the clever medals of great men by his compatriot, Anthony Dassier; under Printing he refers to that liberty of the Press which, in England, amounted to impunity. "A few too thinly disguised blasphemies; a few too rash reflections upon the Government, a few defamatory libels—are the sole things which, at the present time, are not allowed." And this brings about the following lively and very accurate description of the eighteenth-century newspaper:—"One of the most notable peculiarities which liberty of the Press produces in England, is the swarm of fugitive sheets and half-sheets which one sees break forth every morning, except Sunday, covering all the coffee-house tables. Twenty of these different papers, under different titles, appear each day; some contain a moral or philosophical discourse; the majority of the rest offer political, and frequently seditious, comments on some party question. In them is to be found the news of Europe, England, London, and the day before. Their authors profess to be familiar with the most secret deliberations of the Cabinet, which they make public. If a fire occurs in a chimney or elsewhere; if a theft or a murder has taken place; if any one commits suicide from ennui or despair, the public is informed thereof on the morning after with the utmost amount of detail. After these articles come advertisements of all sorts, and in very great numbers. In addition to those of different things which it is desired to let, sell or purchase, there are some that are amusing. If a man's wife runs away he declares that he will not be liable for any debts she may contract; and as a matter of fact, this precaution, according to the custom of the country, is essential if he desires to secure himself from doing so. He threatens with all the rigour of the law those who dare to give his wife an asylum. Another publishes the particulars of his fortune, his age and his position, and adds that he is prepared to unite himself to any woman whose circumstances are such as he requires and describes; he further gives the address where communications must be sent for the negotiation and conclusion of the business. There are other notices which describe a woman who has been seen at the play or elsewhere, and announces that some one has determined to marry her. If any one has a dream which seems to him to predict that a certain number will be lucky in the lottery, he proclaims that fact, and offers a consideration to the possessor of the number if he cares to dispose of it."

After these come the advertisements of the Quack Doctors. Of the account of belles-lettres in 1754, two years after Amelia and in the actual year of Sir Charles Grandison, M. Rouquet's report is not flattering:—"The presses of England, made celebrated by so many masterpieces of wit and science, now scarcely print anything but miserable and insipid romances, repulsive volumes, frigid and tedious letters, where the most tasteless puerility passes for wit and genius, and an inflamed imagination exerts itself under the pretext of forming manners." It is possible that the last lines are aimed at Richardson; certainly they describe the post-Richardsonian novel. But that the passage does not in any part refer to Fielding is clear from the fact that the writer presently praises Joseph Andrews, coupling it with Gil Blas.

Mezzotint, Gem-cutting, Chasing (which serves to bring in M. Rouquet's countryman, Moser), Jewelry, China, (i.e. Chelsea ware) are all successfully treated with more or less minuteness, while, under Architecture, are described the eighteenth-century house, and the new bridge at Westminster of another Swiss, Labelye, who is not named: "The architect is a foreigner," says Rouquet, who considered he had been inadequately rewarded. "It must be confessed (he adds drily) that in England this is a lifelong disqualification." From Architecture the writer passes to the oratory of the Senate, the Pulpit and the Stage. In the last case exception is made for "le celebre M. Garic," whose only teacher is declared to be Nature. As regards the rest, M. Rouquet thus describes the prevailing style:—"The declamation of the English stage is turgid, full of affectation, and perpetually pompous. Among other peculiarities, it frequently admits a sort of dolorous exclamation,—a certain long-drawn tone of voice, so woeful and so lugubrious that it is impossible not to be depressed by it." This reads like a recollection of Quin in the Horatio of Rowe's Fair Penitent.

Upon Cookery M. Rouquet is edifying; and concerning the eighteenth-century physician, with his tye-wig and gilt-head cane, sprightly and not unmalicious. But we must now confine ourselves to quoting a few detached passages from this discursive chronicle. The description of Ranelagh (in the chapter on Music) is too lengthy to reproduce. Here is that of the older Vauxhall:—"The Vauxhall concert takes place in a garden singularly decorated. The Director of Amusements in this garden [Jonathan Tyers] gains and spends successively considerable annual sums. He was born for such enterprises. At once spirited and tasteful, he shrinks from no expense where the amusement of the public is concerned, and the public, in its turn, repays him liberally. Every year he adds some fresh decoration, some new and exceptional scene. Sculpture, Painting, Music, bestir themselves periodically to render this resort more agreeable by the variety of their different productions: in this way opportunities of relaxation are infinite in England, above all at London; and thus Music plays a prominent part. The English take their pleasure without amusing themselves, or amuse themselves without enjoyment, except at table, and there only up to the point when sleep supervenes to the fumes of wine and tobacco."

Elsewhere M. Rouquet, like M. le Blanc before him, is loud in his denunciation of the pitiful practices of Vails-giving, which blocks the vestibule of every English house with an army of servants "ranged in line, according to their rank," and ready "to receive, or rather exact, the contribution of every guest." The excellent Jonas Hanway wrote a pamphlet reprehending this objectionable custom. Hogarth steadily set his face against it; but Reynolds is reported to have given his man L100 a year for the door. Here, from another place, is a description of one of those popular auctions, at which, in the Marriage A-la-Mode, my Lady Squanderfieid purchases the bric-a-brac of Sir Timothy Babyhouse, The scene is probably Cock's in the Piazza at Covent Garden:—"Nothing is so diverting as this kind of sale—the number of those assembled, the diverse passions which animate them, the pictures, the auctioneer himself, his very rostrum, all contribute to the variety of the spectacle. There you see the faithless broker purchasing in secret what he openly depreciates; or—to spread a dangerous snare—pretending to secure with avidity a picture which already belongs to him. There, some are tempted to buy; and some repent of having bought. There, out of pique and bravado, another shall pay fifty louis for an article which he would not have thought worth five and twenty, had he not been ashamed to draw back when the eyes of a crowded company were upon him. There, you may see a woman of condition turn pale at the mere thought of losing a paltry pagoda which she does not want, and, in any other circumstances, would never have desired."

A closing word as to M. Rouquet himself. The Etat des Arts was duly noticed by the critics—contemptuously by the Monthly Review, and sympathetically by the Gentleman's and the Scots Magazine. In 1755, the year to which it belongs, its author put forth another work—L'Art Nouveau de la Peinture en Fromage ou en Ramequin [toasted cheese], invente pour suivre le louable projet de trouver graduellement des facons de peindre inferieures a celles qui existent. This, as its title imports, is a skit, levelled at the recent Histoire et Secret de la Peinture en Cire of Diderot, who nevertheless refers to Rouquet under Email, in the Dictionnaire Encyclapedique, as "un homme habile." He seems, however (like "la peinture a l'huile)," to have been somewhat "difficile"; and as we have said, his discoveries (for he had that useful element in enamel-work, considerable chemical knowledge), like Zincke's, perished with him. Several of his portraits, notably those of Cochin and Marigny, were exhibited at the Paris Salons. Whether he was overparted, or overworked, in the Pompadour atmosphere; or whether he succumbed to the "continual headache" of which he speaks in his letter to Hogarth, his health gradually declined. In the last year of his life, his reason gave way; and when he died in 1759, it was as an inmate of Charenton.


"Emam tua carmina sanus?"—MARTIAL.

F. OF H. I want a verse. It gives you little pains;— You just sit down, and draw upon your brains.

Come, now, be amiable.

R. To hear you talk, You'd make it easier to fly than walk. You seem to think that rhyming is a thing You can produce if you but touch a spring;

That fancy, fervour, passion—and what not,

Are just a case of "penny in the slot." You should reflect that no evasive bird Is half so shy as is your fittest word; And even similes, however wrought, Like hares, before you cook them, must be caught;—

Impromptus, too, require elaboration, And (unlike eggs) grow fresh by incubation; Then,—as to epigrams,..

F. of H. Nay, nay, I've done. I did but make petition. You make fun.

R. Stay. I am grave. Forgive me if I ramble: But, then, a negative needs some preamble To break the blow. I feel with you, in truth, These complex miseries of Age and Youth; I feel with you—and none can feel it more Than I—this burning Problem of the Poor; The Want that grinds, the Mystery of Pain, The Hearts that sink, and never rise again;— How shall I set this to some careless screed, Or jigging stave, when Help is what you need, Help, Help,—more Help?

F. of H. I fancied that with ease You'd scribble off some verses that might please, And so give help to us.

R. Why then—TAKE THESE!


One of the things that perplexes the dreamer—for, in spite of the realists, there are dreamers still—is the almost complete extinction of the early editions of certain popular works. The pompous, respectable, full-wigged folios, with their long lists of subscribers, and their magniloquent dedications, find their permanent abiding-places in noblemen's collections, where, unless—with the Chrysostom in Pope's verses—they are used for the smoothing of bands or the pressing of flowers, no one ever disturbs their drowsy diuturnity. Their bulk makes them sacred: like the regimental big drum, they are too large to be mislaid. But where are all the first copies of that little octavo of 246 pages, price eighteenpence, "Printed by T. Maxey for Rich. Marriot, in S. Dunstans Church-yard, Fleetstreet" in 1653, which constitutes the editio princeps of Walton's Angler. Probably they were worn out in the pockets of Honest Izaak's "brothers of the Angle," or left to bake and cockle in the sunny corners of wasp-haunted alehouse windows, or dropped in the deep grass by some casual owner, more careful for flies and caddis-worms, or possibly for the contents of a leathern bottle, than all the "choicely-good" madrigals of Maudlin the milkmaid. In any case, there are very few of the little tomes, with their quaint "coppers" of fishes, in existence now, nor is it silver that pays for them. And that other eighteenpenny book, put forth by "Nath. Ponder at the Peacock in the Poultrey near Cornhil" five and twenty years later,—The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That which is to come,—why is it that there are only five known copies, none quite perfect, now extant, of which the best sold not long since for more than L1400? Of these five, the first that came to light had been preserved owing to its having taken sanctuary, almost upon publication, in a great library, where it was forgotten. But the others that passed over Mr. Ponder's counter in the Poultry,—were they all lost, thumbed and dog's-eared out of being? They are gone,—that is all you can say; and gone apparently beyond reach of recovery.

These remarks,—which scarcely rise to the dignity of reflections—have been suggested by the difficulty which the writer has experienced in obtaining particulars as to the earliest form of the Parent's Assistant. As a matter of course, children's books are more liable to disappear than any others. They are sooner torn, soiled, dismembered, disintegratedsooner find their way to that mysterious unlocated limbo of lost things, which engulfs so much. Yet one scarcely expected that even the British Museum would not have possessed a copy of the first issue of Miss Edgeworth's book. Such, however, seems to be the case. According to the catalogue, there is nothing earlier at Bloomsbury than a portion of the second edition; and from the inexplicit and conjectural manner in which most of the author's biographers speak of the work, it can scarcely—outside private collections—be very easily accessible. Fortunately the old Monthly Review for September, 1796, with most exemplary forethought for posterity, gives, as a heading to its notice, a precise and very categorical account of the first impression. The Parent's Assistant; or, Stories for Children was, it appears, published in two parts, making three small duodecimo volumes. The price, bound, was six shillings. There was no author's name; but it was said to be "by E.M." (i.e. Edgeworth, Maria), and the publisher was Cowper's Dissenter publisher, Joseph Johnson of No. 72, St. Paul's Churchyard. Part I. contained "The Little Dog Trusty; or, The Liar and the Boy of Truth"; "The Orange Man; or, the Honest Boy and the Thief"; "Lazy Lawrence"; "Tarleton"; and "The False Key"; Part II., "The Purple Jar," "The Bracelets," "Mademoiselle Panache," "The Birthday Present," "Old Poz," and "The Mimic." In the same year, 1796, a second edition appeared, apparently with, some supplementary stories, e.g.: "Barring Out," and in 1800 came a third edition in six volumes. In this the text was increased by "Simple Susan," "The Little Merchants," "The Basket Woman," "The White Pigeon," "The Orphans," "Waste Not, Want Not," "Forgive and Forget," and "Eton Montem." One story, "The Purple Jar" at the beginning of Part II. of the first edition, was withdrawn, and afterwards included in another series, while the stories entitled respectively "Little Dog Trusty" and "The Orange Man" have disappeared from the collection, probably for the reason given in one of the first prefaces, namely, that they "were written for a much earlier age than any of the others, and with such a perfect simplicity of expression as, to many, may appear insipid and ridiculous." The six volumes of the third edition came out successively on the first day of the first six months of 1800. The Monthly Reviewer of the first edition, it may be added, was highly laudatory; and his commendations show that the early critics of the author were fully alive to her distinctive qualities, "The moral and prudential lessons of these volumes," says the writer, "are judiciously chosen; and the stories are invented with great ingenuity, and are happily contrived to excite curiosity and awaken feeling without the aid of improbable fiction or extravagant adventure. The language is varied in its degree of simplicity, to suit the pieces to different ages, but is throughout neat and correct; and, without the least approach towards vulgarity or meanness, it is adapted with peculiar felicity to the understandings of children. The author's taste, in this class of writing, appears to have been formed on the best models; and the work will not discredit a place on the same shelf with Berquin's Child's Friend, Mrs. Barbauld's Lessons for Children, and Dr. Aikin's Evenings at Home. The story of 'Lazy Lawrence'"—the notice goes on—"is one of the best lectures on industry which we have ever read. "The Critical Review, which also gave a short account of the Parent's Assistant in its number for January 1797, does not rehearse the contents. But it confirms the title, etc., adding that the price, in boards, was 4s. 6d.; and its praise, though brief, is very much to the point. "The present production is particularly sensible and judicious; the stories are well written, simple, and affecting; calculated, not only for moral improvement, but to exercise the best affections of the human heart."

With one of the books mentioned by the Monthly ReviewEvenings at Home—Miss Edgeworth was fully prepared, at all events as regards format, to associate herself. "The stories," she says in a letter to her cousin, Miss Sophy Ruxton, "are printed and bound the same size as Evenings at Home, and I am afraid you will dislike the title." Her father had sent the book to press as the Parent's Friend, a name no doubt suggested by the Ami des Enfants of Berquin; but "Mr. Johnson [the publisher]," continues Miss Edgeworth, "has degraded it into The Parent's Assistant, which I dislike particularly, from association with an old book of arithmetic called The Tutor's Assistant." The ground of objection is not very formidable; but the Parent's Assistant is certainly an infelicitous name. From some other of the author's letters we are able to trace the gradual growth of the work. Mr. Edgeworth, her father, an utilitarian of much restless energy, and many projects, was greatly interested in education,—or, as he would have termed it, practical education,—and long before this date, as early, indeed, as May 1780, he had desired his daughter, while she was still a girl at a London school, to write him a tale about the length of a Spectator; upon the topic of "Generosity," to be taken from history or romance. This was her first essay in fiction; and it was pronounced by the judge to whom it was submitted,—in competition with a rival production by a young gentleman from Oxford,—to be an excellent story, and extremely well written, although with this commendation was coupled the somewhat damaging inquiry,—"But where's the Generosity?" The question cannot be answered now, as the manuscript has not been preserved, though the inconvenient query, we are told, became a kind of personal proverb with the young author, who was wont to add that this first effort contained "a sentence of inextricable confusion between a saddle, a man, and his horse." This was a defect from which she must have speedily freed herself, since her style, as her first reviewer allowed, is conspicuously direct and clear. Accuracy in speaking and writing had, indeed, been early impressed upon her. Her father's doctrinaire ally and co-disciplinarian, Mr. Thomas Day, later the author of Sandford and Merton, and apparently the first person of whom it is affirmed that "he talked like a book," had been indefatigable in bringing this home to his young friend, when she visited him in her London school-days. Not content alone to dose her copiously with Bishop Berkeley's Tar Water—the chosen beverage of Young and Richardson—he was unwearied in ministering to her understanding. "His severe reasoning and uncompromising love of truth awakened her powers, and the questions he put to her, the necessity of perfect accuracy in her answers, suited the bent of her mind. Though such strictness was not always agreeable, she even then perceived its advantages, and in after life was deeply grateful to Mr. Day."[22]


[22] Maria Edgeworth, by Helen Zimmern, 1888, p. 13.

The training she underwent from the inexorable Mr, Day was continued by her father when she quitted school, and moved with her family to the parental seat at Edgeworthstown in Ireland. Mr. Edgeworth, whose principles were as rigorous as those of his friend, devoted himself early to initiating her into business habits. He taught her to copy letters, to keep accounts, to receive rents, and, in short, to act as his agent and factotum. She frequently accompanied him in the many disputes and difficulties which arose with his Irish tenantry; and, apart from the insight which this must have afforded her into the character and idiosyncrasies of the people, she no doubt very early acquired that exact knowledge of leases and legacies and dishonest factors which is a noticeable feature even of her children's books.[23] It is some time, however, before we hear of any successor to "Generosity"; but, in 1782, her father, with a view to provide her with an occupation for her leisure, proposed to her to prepare a translation of the Adele et Theodore of Madame de Genlis, those letters upon education by which that gentle and multifarious moralist acquired—to use her own words—at once "the suffrages of the public, and the irreconcilable hatred of all the so-called philosophers and their partisans." At first there had been no definite thought of print in Mr, Edgeworth's mind. But as the work progressed, the idea gathered strength; and he began to prepare his daughter's manuscript for the press. Then, unhappily, when the first volume was finished, Holcroft's complete translation appeared, and made the labour needless. Yet it was not without profit. It had been excellent practice in aiding Miss Edgeworth's faculty of expression, and increasing her vocabulary—to say nothing of the influence which the portraiture of individuals and the satire of reigning follies which are the secondary characteristics of Madame de Genlis's most well-known work, may have had on her own subsequent efforts as a novelist. Meanwhile her mentor, Mr. Day, was delighted at the interruption of her task. He possessed, to the full, that rooted antipathy to feminine authorship of which we find so many traces in Miss Burney's novels and elsewhere; and he wrote to congratulate Mr. Edgeworth on having escaped the disgrace of having a translating daughter. At this time, as already stated, he himself had not become the author of Sandford and Merton, which, as a matter of fact, owed its inception to the Edgeworths, being at first simply intended as a short story to be inserted in the Harry and Lucy Mr. Edgeworth wrote in conjunction with his second wife, Honora Sneyd. As regards the question of publication, both Maria and her father, although sensible of Mr. Day's prejudices, appear to have deferred to his arguments. Nor were these even lost to the public, for we are informed that, in Miss Edgeworth's first book, ten years later, the Letters to Literary Ladies, she employed and embodied much that he had advanced. But for the present, she continued to write—though solely for her private amusement—essays, little stories, and dramatic sketches. One of these last must have been "Old Poz," a pleasant study of a country justice and a gazza ladra, which appeared in Part II. of the first issue of the Parent's Assistant, and which, we are told, was acted by the Edgeworth children in a little theatre erected in the dining-room for the purpose. According to her sisters, it was Miss Edgeworth's practice first to write her stories on a slate, and then to read them out. If they were approved, she transcribed them fairly. "Her writing for children"—says one of her biographers—"was a natural outgrowth of a practical study of their wants and fancies; and her constant care of the younger children gave her exactly the opportunity required to observe the development of mind incident to the age and capacity of several little brothers and sisters." According to her own account, her first critic was her father. "Whenever I thought of writing anything, I always told him [my father] my first rough plans; and always, with the instinct of a good critic, he used to fix immediately upon that which would best answer the purpose.—'Sketch that, and shew it to me.'—These words, from the experience of his sagacity, never failed to inspire me with hope of success. It was then sketched. Sometimes, when I was fond of a particular part, I used to dilate on it in the sketch; but to this he always objected—'I don't want any of your painting—none of your drapery!—I can imagine all that—let me see the bare skeleton.'"

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