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University of Glasgow, and dedicated to his mother Isabella the Countess Dowager; and in pp. 251—256. is a "Life of Mr. James Short, Optician," by his Lordship.
Lord Buchan was an occasional contributor to various periodical publications. His favourite signature was Albanicus; under which, in a letter to his friend Hortus, he describes his own delightful residence of Dryburgh Abbey in the fourth .volume of "The Bee." In some letters (where printed we are not informed) he warmly embraced the cause of Mary Queen of Scots against Dr. Robertson. To the "Gentleman's Magazine" he communicated, in 1784,. a description of the Grave of Ossian, with an epitaph in blank verse; and a letter on the Antiquities of Scotland, signed with his own name; and in 1785, a fragment of Petronius, received from Constantinople, signed A. B. Of Ossian he thus speaks : —
"In every country people are thought to do honour to themselves by erecting monuments to persons of distinguished merit. But perhaps no country has ever produced a person in whom military virtues and poetical talents have been so happily united as they were in Ossian. The few remnants that we have of his poems have been translated into several languages, and admired in them all; though only they who understand the originals can be thoroughly sensible of their excellence. And shall the country that produced him appear insensible or ungrateful to his memory?"
The mind of this indefatigable nobleman was, as we have seen, almost continually devoted, through a long series of years, to the pursuits of literature. His correspondence with scholars and men of science, both at home and abroad, was almost unbounded; and he numbered among his friends many of the most distinguished characters of his period, — a period which may almost be said to comprise the Nestorian age of three generations. Some specimens of his correspondence, particularly illustrating the first proceedings of the Edinburgh Antiquarian Society, may be expected in the forthcoming volume of Mr. Nichols's " Illustrations of Literature."
In Scotland patronage can rarely afford to take a very munificent form, nor did Lord Buchan's circumstances enable him to become an exception to the general order. But in kind offices, in recommendations, in introductions, in suggestions, and in warmly interesting himself and others within his sphere for the promotion of deserving efforts and youthful or lowly aspirants to fame, he well merited the name of a zealous patron. The poet Burns, Barry the painter, Tytler the •translator of Callimachus, and Pinkerton the historian and antiquary, were, amongst others, fostered by his countenance and friendship.
The death of the noble Earl took place at Dryburgh Abbey, Roxburghshire, on the 19th of April, 1829.
Lord Buchan married at Aberdeen, October 15. 1771, Margaret, eldest daughter of his cousin-german, William Fraser of Fraserfield, co. Aberdeen, Esq. The Countess, who died May 12. 1819, never had any family. The titles have devolved on his Lordship's nephew, Henry-David Erskine, Esq. elder son of the Honourable Henry Erskine, who died in 1817. His Lordship is a widower, with a numerous family; having lost his lady, who was Elizabeth, youngest daughter of the late Major-General Sir Charles Shipley, on the 5th of October, 1828.
A portrait of the Earl of Buchan, when Lord Cardross, was painted by Reynolds, in a Van-Dyck dress, and engraved in me/zotinto by J. Finlayson, in 1765. A profile, taken by Tassie in 1783, was published in 1797, at the head of the dedication to his Lordship of Herbert's "Iconographia Scotica;" and among the etchings of the clever self-taught artist Kay is a small whole-length of the Earl in 1784, in the same plate with the Marquis of Graham (the present Duke of Montrose). They stand dos-d-dos in the Highland military costume.
With some very slight and unimportant exceptions, the foregoing Memoir has been derived from the pages of "The Gentleman's Magazine."
Of this admirable artist a brief notice was inserted in the index of our last volume. The following interesting and characteristic Memoir of him has since appeared in "The Gentleman's Magazine."
The lovers of natural history, and of the arts as applied to its illustration, have sustained a severe loss in the death of Thomas Bewick, the celebrated reviver, or rather inventor of a new mode, of engraving on wood. Though the art of cutting or engraving on wood is undoubtedly of high antiquity, as the Chinese and Indian modes of printing on paper, cotton, and silk, sufficiently prove; though even in Europe the art of engraving on blocks of wood may probably be traced higher than that of printing, usually so called; and though in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries designs were executed of great beauty and accuracy, as Holbein's "Dance of Death," the vignettes and head-letters of the early Missals and Bibles, and the engravings of flowers and shells in Gerard, Gesner, and Fuhschius, afford us undoubted proofs ; — yet the inspection of these is enough to prove that their methods must have been very different from that which Bewick and his school have followed. The principal characteristic of the ancient masters is the crossing of the black lines to produce or deepen the shade, commonly called cross-hatching. Whether this was done by employing different blocks one after another, as in calico-printing and paper-staining, it may be difficult to say; but to produce them on the same block is so
difficult and unnatural, that though Nesbitt, one of Bewick's early pupils, attempted it on a few occasions, and the splendid print of Dentatus, by Harvey, shows that it is not impossible, even on a large scale, yet the waste of time and labour is scarcely worth the effect produced.
To understand this it may be necessary to state, for the information of those who may not have seen an engraved block of wood, that whereas the lines which are sunk by the graver on the surface of a copperplate are the parts which receivethe printing-ink, which is rubbed over the whole plate, and the superfluous ink is then scraped and rubbed off; the lines being then transferred upon the paper, by its being passed, together with the plate, through a rolling-press, the rest being left white;—all the portions of the surface of the wooden block which are intended to be white, are carefully scooped out with burins or gouges, and the lines and other parts which are left prominent, after being inked, like types, with a ball or roller, are transferred to the paper by the common printing-press. The difficulty, therefore, of picking out of the wooden block the minute squares or lozenges which are formed by the mere intersection of the lines on the copperplate, may be easily conceived.
The great advantage of wood-engraving is, that the thickness of the blocks (which are generally of box, sawed across the grain of the wood,) being carefully regulated by the height of the types with which they are to be used, they are set upon the same "page with the types, and only one operation is required to print the letter-press and the cut which is to illustrate it. The greater permanency, and indeed almost indestructibility, of the wooden block is besides secured, since it is not subjected to any of the scraping and rubbing which so soon destroys the sharpness of the lines upon copper, and there is a harmony produced in the page by the engraving and the letter-press being of the same colour, which very seldom is the case where copperplate vignettes are introduced with letter-press.
VOL. XIV. O.
It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to trace the history of wood-engraving, its early principles, the causes of its decay, &c. till its productions came to sink below contempt. But for its revival and present state, we are unquestionably indebted to Mr. Bewick and his pupils.
Thomas Bewick was born Aug. 12. 1753, at Cherry Burn, in the parish of Oviogham, and county of Northumberland. His father, John Bewick, had for many years a landsale colliery at Mickley Bank, now in the possession of his son William. John Bewick, Thomas's younger brother, and coadjutor with him in many of his works, was seven years younger, having been born in 1760; unfortunately for the arts, and for society of which he was an ornament, he died of a consumption, at the age of thirty-five.
The early propensity of Thomas to observe natural objects, and particularly the manners and habits of animals, and to endeavour to express them by drawing, in which, without tuition, he manifested great skill at an early age, determined his friends as to the choice of a profession for him. He was bound apprentice, at the age of fourteen, to Mr. Ralph Beilby, of Newcastle, a respectable copperplate engraver, and very estimable man. Mr. Bewick might have had a master of greater eminence, but he could not have had one more anxious to encourage the rising talents of his pupil, to point out to him his peculiar line of excellence, and to enjoy without jealousy his merit and success, even when it appeared in some respects to throw himself into the shade.' The circumstances which determine the fortunes of men, are often apparently accidental: and this seems to have been the case with regard to Mr. Bewick. Mr. Charles Hutton (afterwards the eminent Dr. Hutton, of Woolwich, then a schoolmaster in Newcastle,") was preparing, in 1770, his great work on mensuration, and applied to Mr. Beilby to engrave on copper
* See a Memoir-of Dr. Hutton, in the Eighth Volume of the" Annual Biography and Obituary."