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should imitate Nature,—the true, the beautiful, the unambitious. Had Bewick lived a thousand years, he would every day have seen some new subject, some new features, in the everlasting changes and combinations that surround the fixed spirit of the universe. We have pupils of his-Harvey and Nesbit in particular, and why do not they, with their high talent, produce the same genuine nature? The answer is obvious. They are citizens. They have abandoned the daily cognizance of Nature; they have taken a directly opposite course to Bewick. He was the inseparable companion of Nature from his boyhood. All his life long he was watching after, and pursuing her into her most hidden retirements. To him
High mountains were a feeling, but the hum
He had tried the life of London, but he could not bear it. His soul was robbed of its nourishment. He was shut up, blinded, famished in that huge wilderness of stone; dinned by that eternal chaos of confused sounds. He gasped for the free air; he pined for the dews; for the solemn roar of the ocean;
for the glories of rising and setting suns. His father when he sent him from his country home at Cherryburn, to be apprenticed to Mr. Bielby at Newcastle, said to him at parting—“ Now Thomas, thou art going to lead a different life to what thou hast led here: thou art going from constant fresh air and activity, to the closeness of a town and a sedentary occupation: thou must be up in a morning, and get a run.” And Thomas followed faithfully- for it chimed exactly with his own bent-his father's injunction. Every
morning, rain or shine, often without his hat, and his bushy head of black hair ruffling in the wind, he would be seen scampering up the street towards the country; and the opposite neighbours would cry~ “ There goes Bielby's fond boy.” These morning excursions he kept up during his life; and they did not suffice him. He ran away during his apprenticeship, and roamed far and wide through the glorious and soul-embuing scenery of Scotland. Year after year, and day after day, it was his delight to stroll over heaths and moors, by sedgy pools and running waters. He saw bird, beast, and fish, from his hidden places, in all the freedom of their wild life. He saw the angler casting his line; the fowler setting his net and his springes; the farmer's boy amusing his solitude, when
He strolled the lonely Crusoe of the field
prowling after water-fowl amid the reedy haunts; watching the flight of birds with greedy eyes; lighting fires under the skreening hedge, and collecting sticks for fuel, and blowing them on hands and knees into a flame. Such were his loves, his studies, his perpetual occupations; and to have similar results, we must have persons of a similar passion and pursuit. We must have designers; for we have plenty of manual dexterity, capable of executing any design to the minutest shade, -we must have designers in whom Nature is, at once, an appetite, a perpetual study, and quenchless delight. Landscape painters we have of this character. Turner, with his gorgeous creations; Copley Fielding with his heaths and downs, in which miles of space are put upon a few feet of can
vass, and that soul of solitude poured upon you in a gallery, which you before encountered only in the heart of living nature; Collins with his exquisite seasides, and rustic pieces; Hunt with his really rustic characters; Barrett with his sunsets; Stanfield, Cattermole, and others. We want a designer for woodcuts of a similar character. What scenes of peerless beauty and infinite variety might an individual give us, who would devote himself, heart and soul, to this object; who would ramble all through the varied and beautiful scenery of these glorious islands at successive intervals; who would pedestrianize in simple style; who would stroll along our wild shores; amongst our magnificent hills; prowl in fens and forests with fowlers and keepers; and seek refreshment by the fire-side of the way-side inn; and take up his temporary abode in obscure and old-fashioned villages. Such a man might send into our metropolis, and thence, through the aid of the engravers, to every part of the kingdom, such snatches of natural loveliness, such portions of rural scenery and rural life, as should make themselves felt to be the genuine product of nature—for nature will be felt, and kindle a purer taste and a stronger affection for the country.
I am not insensible to all the difficulties which lie in the way of such a devotion: nor that such a scheme will be pronounced chimerical by those who, at a far slighter cost, can please a less informed taste; but till we have such a man, we shall not have a second Bewick; and till such a mode of study is, more or less, adopted, we shall never have that love of the genuine country gratified, which assuredly and extensively exists.
Since writing the foregoing remarks, it is with great pleasure that I have seen the arts of designing and wood-engraving beginning to separate themselves, and that of designing for the wood engravers taking its place as a distinct profession. Mr. Harvey has, for some time, been exclusively a designer; and Mr. Melville is following his example. Some exquisite designs by this latter artist have been made for a little volume of Mrs. Howitt's Birds and Flowers--published by Darton and Clark. This important step has only to be followed up by designers in the manner pointed out in this chapter, to insure that complete return to nature which is so much to be desired, and where such an exhaustless field of beauty and life awaits the observant artist, as would place the present pre-eminent manual skill of our wood engravers in its true and well merited position.
THE FORESTS OF ENGLAND.
AMONGST the most interesting features of the country are our forests. There is nothing that we come in contact with, which conveys to our minds such vivid impressions of the progression of England in power and population; which presents such startling contrasts between the present and the past. We look back into the England which an old forest brings to our mind, and see a country one wild expanse of woodlands, heaths, and mosses. Here and there a little simple town sending up
Its fleecy smoke amongst the forest boughs.