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to London, where he went into the employment of a person who practised this trade, such as it then existed, somewhere in the vicinity of Hatton Garden. It is probable, however, that he soon found he was not likely to learn much from his new master; for, in a very short time, he returned to the country. With his taste, too, for rural scenery and enjoyments, and the observation of nature, he found little in London in which he took much interest. When Mr. Bielby, therefore, now offered to take him into partnership, he at once determined to retrace his steps to Newcastle. Nor even after he had obtained his highest celebrity, did he ever again think of establishing himself in the metropolis. He spent the remainder of his life in his native district.
The first specimen of his talents by which Bewick made himself publicly known, was a cut of an old hound, which, being laid before the Society of Arts, obtained a prize which they had that year offered for the best wood-engraving. This was in 1775. The block had been cut for an edition of Gay's Fables, which had been projected some time before by Mr. Thomas Saint, the printer of the Newcastle Courant. The work itself appeared in 1779, and immediately attracted general attention by the striking superiority of its embellishments, which were all from woodcuts executed by Bewick and his younger brother John, who, when Bielby and he entered into partnership, had become their apprentice. From this time the reputation of the artist went on increasing steadily, and he produced a succession of works which very soon gave altogether a new character to his art itself.
The work, however, which established his fame was his History of Quadrupeds, which appeared in 1790, He had been employed many years in preparing this publication, all the cuts in which were not only engraved by himself or his brother, but were all copied from his own drawings. He had continued to cultivate his early talent for the delineation of animals with unwearied industry, having been in the habit of taking sketches of all the striking specimens that came under his notice; while, in order to obtain accurate representations of those of greater variety, he never failed to visit whatever menageries came to Newcastle, and there to draw them from the life. His assiduous studies from nature no doubt greatly contributed to the excellence of the cuts in the History of Quadrupeds. Many of the vignettes also, with which this publication was adorned, had uncommon merit as original sketches; for Bewick did not confine his attempts with his pencil to the mere delineation of animals.
But Bewick was principally indebted for the great superiority of his productions over those of his predecessors to an entirely new mode of operation which he introduced into the art. The secret of the old method of cross-hatching, as we have mentioned, had been long lost; or, at least, it had been entirely abandoned, from the extraordinary difficulty of the only known manner of practising it. But Bewick produced nearly the same effects by another and much simpler contrivance. Till his time, the block, when prepared for the press, presented only two varieties of surface, the parts which were intended to receive the ink and make the impression being left in relief, while all the rest of the wood was cut away to so great a depth as entirely to prevent it from touching the paper. The consequence was, that the dark portions of the engraving were all of one shade, while the only other colour introduced was the pure white of the paper. But Bewick effected a variety of tints, and thereby a much truer and more natural perspective, by leaying certain parts of his blocks not quite so prominent as those that were intended to produce the darkest lines, while at the same time he did not lower them so much as altogether to prevent them
from coming in contact with the paper when applied to take off the cut. The portions of the surface which were left in this state communicated an impression varying in depth of shade according to the degree in which the wood was scooped away; and the cut thus exhibited upon the paper all the gradations to be found in a copperplate engraving.
It would be out of place, in a sketch like this, to follow up what has been said by a catalogue of the various works which Mr. Bewick gave to the world after the period in his history at which we are now arrived, or which made their appearance illustrated by his embellishments. We have traced the steps by which he rose, through the force of his own talents and industry, to the head of his profession; and it is not necessary that we should pursue his career farther. Suffice it to say, that he amply sustained, throughout the remainder of his long life, the promise of his early progress. No man was ever more devoted to his profession. Its labours were as much his enjoyment as his business. He was always an early riser; and from the hour at which he got out of bed till evening, he was generally to be found at work, and whistling merrily all the while. For what are called the pleasures of society he cared very little ; his social hours were passed in the midst of his family, or occasionally among a small number of select friends when the task of the day was done. Everything in the least degree savouring of effeminate indulgence he despised. His ordinary exercise was walking ; but he was fond of all the manly and invigorating sports of the country, and desired no better relaxation from the toils of the workshop than an occasional participation in such cheap and simple amusements. The whole economy of his life was regulated upon a principle of rigid temperance, as well as of the most steady and persevering exertion. He was remarkable at all times for the moderation with which
he ate and drank; and, in respect to other matters, he showed such a contempt for luxury, that he generally slept, even in the depth of winter, with the windows of his chamber open, though, in consequence, he sometimes, on awaking, found the snow lying on his bedclothes. For money, which men in general prize so highly, Bewick had all the indifference of a philosopher. The number of works which his unwearied application produced was, as might be expected, extraordinarily great. But he did not confine his studies and performances merely to the art in which he has chiefly earned his fame. He made himself competently acquainted with various branches of knowledge; and with natural history, in particular, he was intimately conversant. He also engraved occasionally on copper as well as on wood. Even the greater leisure which he was obliged to allow himself during the few last years of his life, when the infirmities of old age compelled him partially to relinquish his professional labours, was not given up to mere idleness. He availed himself of this release from his ordinary occupations to write a memoir of his own life, which is said to be composed with much minuteness of detail, and to be of considerable extent. But to the very last hour of his existence his art continued to occupy his thoughts. His last undertaking-directed, like most of those by which it had been preceded, mainly by an anxiety for the diffusion of sound knowledge and morality-was the preparation of a series of cuts for the labouring part of the population, which might supplant the tasteless and often corrupting prints usually found among the embellishments of the cottage; and a proof impression of the first of this intended collection, a cut of an old horse, heading an address against cruelty to animals, was brought to him only two or three days before his death. This eminent artist and excellent man died on the 8th of November, 1828, in the 76th year of his age.
Usefulness of such encouragements as the examples here given
are calculated to afford to youthful genius in every department of study. Self-educated Poets : Ramsay; Bloomfield; H. K. White; Hawksworth; Goldsmith.
The individuals with whom our last three chapters have been occupied have not earned their distinction by the cultivation of any branch of what is properly called science or literature ; but their lives do not, on that account, furnish us with less suitable illustrations of the subject of the present work. Our object is to inculcate the importance, to demonstrate the practicability, and to point out the method of intellectual improvement generally; and especially to make the young reader understand and feel, by an array of examples taken from every condition of society and every walk of mental exertion, that, in the pursuit of any description of knowledge, no difficulties arising from external circumstances can eventually resist a steady determination to excel; so that a man's success or failure in such an attempt depends, in fact, more upon himself than upon any circumstances in which he may be placed. Wherever, therefore, we have been able to find a case of extraordinary attainments made in despite of such obstacles as usually repress all endeavour after intellectual cultivation, we have not hesitated to bring it forward, whether it was that of an individual who had distinguished himself in philosophy, in scholarship, or in art. What we have wished to establish and make evident is the power which every man really desirous of education has, in the absence of all aid from others, to educate himself; and that this power is not confined to the