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WHEN Men, by the extraordinary efforts of their genius, so distinguish themselves as to gain the summit of popular fame, in any particular line of art or science, we naturally indulge a wish to become acquainted, not only with the most interesting particulars of the different pursuits, in which they have been from time to time engaged; but even with those other circumstances concerning them, which would be considered trifling and unworthy of record, had they reference to persons of inferior merit. A

kind of additional consequence is derived from their relation, when connected with those, whose acquirements have excited a large portion of public admiration, and whose productions have been viewed with so much plea


It is not, however, to be expected that the memoirs of an artist,―tranquilly engaged in the practice of his profession, and chiefly occupied in solitary labour, can afford that general interest to the reader, which the splendid achievements of the warrior, or the more important occupations of the statesman, are better adapted to excite; yet it must be acknowledged that it cannot but be interesting to those,—who take a delight in tracing the moral cultivation of man,-to form an acquaintance with such circumstances as have progressively tended to create and direct the taste and judgment of a man, eminent, beyond all his cotemporaries, in the Art of Wood Engraving. The writer would also fain hope that it may, in some degree, stimulate the ardent emulation of others; who,-feeling all the emotions of genius during the progress of their studies,-have many disadvantages to contend with-peculiar difficulties to



England has ever had reason to be proud of her sons, every walk of life. To promote the fine arts, as Lord Kaimes justly observes, has become of greater import

ance than is generally imagined. It unquestionably affords the fairest and most promising field for the exercise of real abilities. The physician is sometimes more indebted for success to his address than his skill; the lawyer often requires adventitious aid—a lucky incident to develope his talents, or powerful connections to force them into notice; the divine, with very slender pretensions, is every day seen to reach the highest dignities in the church, by the mere help of patronage alone; but neither address-nor connections-nor patronage, can make a man an excellent artist, without intrinsic merit. Gifted with that, he will at last overcome every obstacle that is placed in his way; and, trusting to it alone, will, if properly called into action, command that attention which the generality of mankind, in other situations of life, are obliged to court. Those, who are possessed of genius and an inclination to attempt great things, are generally said to be endowed with vigour of mind to perform them.


It would, on an occasion like the present, be extremely gratifying to the writer, to be able to present the curious with a short Enquiry into the History of Wood Engraving; but the fact is, the origin of this art, like many the most important inventions of human ingenuity,— notwithstanding the influence they have all had, more or less, in the progress of civilization,-seems lost in the

darkness of the traditionary annals of remote ages. The subject has, no doubt, met with that attention from the learned, which its importance appeared to deserve; but they have laboured in vain to dispel the clouds by which it is obscured. Every attempt, therefore, either to develope its true origin, or to trace the gradations by which it has arrived at its present perfection, has hitherto been rendered unavailing; and conjecture and hypothesis,— the ruin of all investigations,—must still be employed to fill the chasms which contemporaneous evidence cannot be found to occupy.

Mr. Thomas Bewick, in contemplating whose career the above observations were suggested, was born in the year 1753, at a place called Cherryburn, in the parish of Ovingham, in the County of Northumberland. He is the eldest son of John Bewick, who had for many years the land-sale colliery at Mickley-Bank, now in the possession of his son William. The father was considered a great wit in this part of the country; and being


The family burying-place is in Ovingham church-yard, where there is a stone, bearing the following inscription :

In Memory of John and Jane

Bewick, of Cherry Bourn.

He died 15 Novr. 1785, Aged 70.
She died 20 Feby. 1785, Aged 58.
Hannah, their daughter

died 24 June, 1785, Aged 30.
Sarah died 27 Decr. 1782, Æ 16.

possessed of a vast fund of anecdote, was in the daily habit of entertaining his customers with his stories, so long as he had company at the colliery.

John Bewick, the younger brother of Thomas, and his coadjutor in many of his works, was also born at Cherryburn. Both the sons were put to school at Ovingham, with the Rev. Christopher Gregson.

During the hours of intermission from instruction at school, Thomas was in the constant habit of amusing himself with drawing, in which he manifested great skill at a very early age. The accuracy of his execution, even before he had a single lesson in the art, soon determined his friends as to the profession which he was to follow. At the age of fourteen he was accordingly sent to Newcastle, where he was bound apprentice to the late Mr. Ralph Beilby, engraver.

While in his apprenticeship, Mr. Bewick conducted himself with great steadiness; and employed his leisure hours in improving himself in drawing, under the care of a master. At this time he seldom omitted to visit his parents every Sunday at Cherryburn, distant from Newcastle about fourteen miles; and when it happened that he could not get across the Tyne, on account of the floods which occasionally swelled that water, he shouted over to them, and thus made his enquiries respecting the family before he returned home.


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