William Jardine.

The naturalist's library (Volume 10) online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryWilliam JardineThe naturalist's library (Volume 10) → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





Received. - ..^facLA&K
Accessions No.^.^.6O_. . Shelf No....






rr- ' "Wr- .s5r






F.R.S.E., F.L.S., ETC. ETC.




F.R.S.E., F.J..S., M.W.S., ETC.

2. o i


s , o










Barraband Ring-Parakeet.

PalcBornis Barrabandi. Plate I. ... 89

Alexandrine Ring-Parrakeet.

PaleBornis Alexandri. Plate II. . . .92


PalcBornis Malaccensis. Plate III. . . 95

Patagonian Arara.

A rara Patagonica. Plate IV. . . .99

Carolina Arara.

A rara Carolinensis . . . . .101

The Great Green Maccaw.

Macrocercus militaris. Plate V. . . .107

Blue and Yellow Maccaw.

Macrocercus irarauwi. Plate Vf. . . .110

Red and Blue Maccaw.

Macrocercus Aracanga, Plate VII. . . .115


Noble Parrot- Maccaw.

Psittacara nobilis. Plate VIII. . . . 117

Festive Parrot.

Psittacus festivus. Plate IX 122

Amazons' Parrot.

Psittacus Amazonius 123

Ash-coloured or Grey Parrot.

Psittacus erythacus. Plate X. , . . 12G

Grand Electus.

Electus grandis 132

Le Vaillant's Pionus.

Pionus Le Vaittantii 133

S\vindern's Love-Bird.

Agapornis Swinderianus. Plate XI. . . 138

Southern Nestor.

Nestor hypopolius. Plate XII. . . . 141

Tricolour-crested Cockatoo.

Plyctolophus leadbeateri. Plate XIII. . . 14

Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Plyctolophus sulphureus. Plate XIV. . . 1-lQ

Stellated. Geringore.

Calyptorynchus stdlatus. Plate XV. . . 154


Microglossus aterrimus. Plate XVI. . 158

Pesquet's Dasyptilus.

Lasyptilus PequetU. Plate XVII. . . . 160

Purple-capped Lory.

Lorius domicellus. Plate XVIII. . . 16G

Papuan Lory.

Cliarmosyna Papuensis. Plate XIX. . . 169
Pine-bellied Lorikeet.

TMoglossus Swainsonii. Plate XX. . . 173


Varied Lorikeet.

Trichoglossus cersicolor. Plate XXI. . . IT?

Orange-winged Lorikeet.

Trichoglossus pyrrliopterus. Plate XXII. . . 179

Kuhl's Coriphilus.

CoripMus Kuldii. Plate XXIII. . . .184

Sapphire-crowned Psittacule.

Psittaculus galgulus. Plate XXIV. . . 187

Pennantian Broad-tail.

Platycercus Pennantii. Plate XXV. . . 193

Pale-headed Broad-tail.

Platycercus palliceps. Plate. XX VI. . . 196

Blue-headed Nanodes.

Nanodes venustus. Plate XXVII. . . .199

Undulated Nanodes.

Nanodes undulatus. Plate XXVIII. . . 201

Ground Parrot.

Pezoporusformosus. Plate XXIX. . . 203

Red-cheeked Nymphicus.

Nymphicus Noccs Hollandix. Plate XXX. . 206


Vignette Title-page.

In all Tldrtu-two Plate:* in this Volumt.







ALTHOUGH the Biographical Notices pre6xed to
these volumes have hitherto been confined to Scien-
tific Naturalists, yet, as no one perhaps has contri-
buted more essentially to promote the study of Zoo-
logy, in two of its most important branches, than the
ingenious Artist whose name stands at the head of
this article, it appears no more than an act of justice
to offer, in this way, a respectful tribute to his me-

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, tne 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,
such as Holbein'g u Dance of Death," the vignettes
and head-letters of the early Missals and Bibles,
and the engravings of flowers and shells in Ge-
rard, Gesner, and Fuhschius ; yet the bare inspec-
tion of these is sufficient to prove that Uieir me-
thods must have been very different from that winch
Bewick and his school have followed. The princi-
pal characteristic of the ancient masters is the cross-
ing of the black lines, to produce or deepen the shade,
commonly called cross-hatching. Whether this was
done by employing different blocks, one after ano-
ther, 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 Nes-
bit, one of Bewick's early pupils, attempted it on a
few occasions, and the splendid print of Dentatus by
Harvey shews 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 hy the graver on the surface of a
copper-plate are the parts which receive the printing
ink, which is first smeared over the whole plate, and
the superfluous ink is scraped and rubbed off, that re-
maining in the lines being thus transferred upon the
paper, by its being passed, together with the plate,
through a rolling- press, the rest being left white
in the wooden block, all the parts which are intend-
ed to leave the paper white, are carefully scooped
out with burins and gouges, and the lines and other
parts of the surface of the block which are left pro-
minent, 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, upon the wooden block, the minute squares or
lozenges, which are formed by the mere intersection
of the lines cut in the copper-plate, may easily be

The great advantage of wood-engraving is, that
the thickness of the blocks (which are generally of
boxwood, sawed across the grain) being carefully
regulated by the height of the types with which
they are to be used, are set up in the same page
with the types ; and only one operation is required
to print the letter-press and the cut which is to il-
lustrate it. The greater permanency, and indeed


almost indestructibility,* of the wooden block, is be-
sides secured ; since it is not subjected to the scrap-
ing and rubbing, which so soon destroys the sharp-
ness of the lines upon copper : and there is a har-
mony produced in the page, by the engraving and
the letter-press being of the same colour ; which is
very seldom the case where copper-plate vignettes
are introduced with letter-press.

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to trace the his-
tory 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 pre-
sent state we are unquestionably indebted to Bewick
and his pupils.

THOMAS BEWICK was born August 12. 1753, at
Cherry-Burn, in the parish of Ovingham, and coun-
ty 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 coad-

* Many of Mr Bewick's blocks have printed upwards of
300,000 : the head-piece of the Newcastle Courant above a
million; and a small vignette for a capital letter in the
Newcastle Chronicle, during a period of twenty years, at
least two millions.


jutor with him in many of his works, was born in
1760 unfortunately for the arts and for society, of
which he was an ornament, died of a consumption,
at the age of thirty- five.

The early propensity of Thomas to observe natu-
ral objects, and particularly the manners and habits
of animals, and to endeavour to express them by
drawing, in which, without tuition, he manifested
great proficiency 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 copper-
plate 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 encou-
rage the rising talents of his pupil, to point out to

It is stated by the author of " The Pursuit of Know-
ledge under Difficulties," forming a part of the Library of
Entertaining Knowledge (we know not on what authority,
but we think it probable,) that he was in the habit of ex-
ercising his genius by covering the walls and doors of his
native village with sketches in chalk of his favourites of
the lower creation with great accuracy and spirit ; and that
some of these performances chancing to attract Mr Beil-
by's notice, as he was passing through Cherry- Burn, he was
so much struck with the talent which they displayed, that
he immediately sought out the young artist, and obtained
his father's permission to take him with him as his ap-


him his peculiar line of excellence, and to enjoy with-
out jealousy his merit and success, even when it ap-
peared, in some respects, to throw himself into the
shade. When Mr Charles Hutton, afterwards the
eminent Professor Hutton of Woolwich, hut then
a schoolmaster in Newcastle, was preparing, in 1770,
his great work on Mensuration, he applied to Mr
Beilhy to engrave on copper-plates the mathemati-
cal figures for the work. Mr Beilhy judiciously ad-
vised that they should be cut on wood, in which
case, each might accompany, on the same page, the
proposition it was intended to illustrate. He em-
ployed his young apprentice to execute many of
these ; and the beauty and accuracy with which
they were finished, led Mr Beilby to advise him
strongly to devote his chief attention to the improve-
ment of this long-lost art. Several mathematical
works were supplied, about this time, with very
beautiful diagrams ; particularly Dr Enfield's trans-
lation of Rossignol's Elements of Geometry.

On the expiration of his apprenticeship, he visited
the metropolis for a few months, and was, during
this short period, employed by an engraver in the
vicinity of Hatton-Garden. But London, with all
its gaieties and temptations, had no attractions for
Bewick : he panted for the enjoyment of his native


air, and for indulgence in his accustomed rural habits.
On his return to the North, he spent a short time in
Scotland, and afterwards became his old master's
partner, while John, his brother, was taken as their

About this time, Mr Thomas Saint, the printer
of the Newcastle Courant, projected an edition of
Gay's Fables, and the Bewicks were engaged to
furnish the cuts. One of these, " The Old Hound,"
obtained the premium of the Society of Arts, for the
best specimen of wood-engraving, in 1775. An
impression of this may be seen in the Memoir pro*
fixed to " Select Fables," printed for Charnley, New-
castle, in 1820; from which many notices in the
present Memoir are taken. Mr Saint, in , 1776,
published also a work entitled, Select Fables, with
an indifferent set of cuts, probably by some inferior
artist ; but in 1779 came out a new edition of Gay,
and, in 1784, of the Select Fables, with an entire
new set of cuts, by the Bewicks.

It has been already said, that Thomas Bewick,
from his earliest youth, was a close observer and ac-
curate delineator of the forms and habits of animals ;
aiid, during his apprenticeship, and indeed through-
out his whole life, he neglected no opportunity of
visiting and drawing such foreign animals as were


exhibited in the different itinerant collections which
occasionally visited Newcastle. This led to the pro-
ject of the " History of Quadrupeds ;" a Prospectus
of which work, accompanied by specimens of seve-
ral of the best cuts then engraved, was printed and
circulated in 1787; but it was not till 1790 that
the work appeared.

In the mean time, the Prospectus had the effect
of introducing the spirited undertaker to the notice
of many ardent cultivators of natural science, parti-
cularly of Marmaduke Tunstall, Esq. of Wycliffe,
whose museum was even then remarkable for the
extent of its treasures, and for the skill with which
they had been preserved ; whose collection also of
living animals, both winged and quadruped, was very
considerable. Mr Bewick was invited to visit Wy-
cliffe, and made drawings of various specimens, liv-
ing and dead, which contributed greatly to enrich his
subsequent publications. The portraits which he
took with him of the wild cattle in Chillingham Park,
the seat of the Earl of Tankerville (whose agent, Mr
John Bailey, was also an eminent naturalist, and
very intimate friend of Mr Bewick), particularly at-
tracted Mr Tunstall's attention ; and he was very
urgent to obtain a representation, upon a larger scale
than was contemplated for his projected work> of



those now unique specimens of the " ancient Caledo*
nian breed." For this purpose, Mr BewicK made a
special visit to Chillingham, and the result was the
largest wood-cut he ever engraved; which, though it
is considered as his chefd'ceuvre, seemed, in its con-
sequences, to shew the limits within which wood-
engraving should generally be confined. The block,
after a few impressions had been taken off, split into
several pieces, and remained so till, in the year 1817,
the richly figured border having been removed, the
pieces containing the figure of the wild bull were so
firmly clamped together, as to bear the force of the
press ; and impressions may still be had. A fe\v
proof-impressions on thin vellum of the original block,
with the figured border, have sold as high as twenty

As it obviously required much time, as well as
labour, to collect, from various quarters, the materials
for a " General History of Quadrupeds,'* it is evi-
dent that much must have been done in other ways,
in the regular course of ordinary business. In a
country engraver's office, much of this requires no
record ; but, during this interval, three works on
copper seem to have been executed, chiefly by Mi-
Thomas Bewick. A small quarto volume, entitled,
" A Tour through Sweden, Lapland, &c., by Matthew


Consett. Esq., accompanied by Sir G. H. Liddell,
was illustrated with engravings by Beilby and Be-
wick, the latter executing all those relating to natu-
ral history, particularly the rein-deer and their Lap-
land keepers, brought over by Sir H. Liddell, whom
he had thus the unexpected opportunity of delineat-
ing from the life. During this interval, he also drew
and engraved on copper, at the expense of their re-
spective proprietors, " The Whitley large Ox," be-
longing to Mr Edward Hall, the four quarters of
which weighed 187 stone; and "The remarkable
Kyloe Ox," bred in Mull by Donald Campbell, Esq.
and fed by Mr Robert Spearman of Rothley Park,
Northumberland. This latter is a veiy curious spe-
cimen of copper- plate engraving, combining the styles
of wood and copper, particularly in the minute man-
ner in which the verdure is executed.

At length appeared " The General History of
Quadrupeds," a work uncommonly well received by
the public, and ever since held in increased estima-
tion. Perhaps there never was a work to which the
rising generation of the day was, and no doubt that
for many years to come will be, under such obliga-
tions, for exciting in them a taste for the natural
history of animals. The representations which are
given of the various tribes, possess a boldness of de-


sign, a correctness of outline, an exactness of attitude,
and a discrimination of general character, which con-
vey, at the first glance, a just and lively idea of each
different animal. The figures were accompanied hy
a clear and concise statement of the nature, habits,
and disposition of each animal : these were chiefly
drawn up by his able coadjutors, Mr Beilby, his part-
ner, and his printer Mr Solomon Hodgson ; subject,
no doubt, to the corrections and additions of Mr
Bewick. In drawing up these descriptions, it was
the endeavour of the publishers to lay before their
readers a particular account of the quadrupeds of our
own country, especially of those which have so ma-
terially contributed to its strength, prosperity, and
happiness, and to notice the improvements which an
enlarged system of agriculture, supported by a noble
spirit of generous emulation, has diffused through-
out the country.

But the great and, to the public in general, unex-
pected, charm of the History of Quadrupeds, was
the number and variety of the vignettes and tail-
pieces, with which the whole volume is embellished.
Many of these are connected with the manners and
habits of the animals near which they are placed ;
others are, in some other way, connected with them,
as being intended to convey to those who avail them-


selves of their labours, some salutary moral lesson,
as to their humane treatment ; or to expose, by per-
haps the most cutting possible satire, the cruelty of
those who ill-treat them, But a great proportion ol
them express, in a way of dry humour peculiar to
himself, the artist's particular notions of men and
things, the passing events of the day, &c. &c. ; and
exhibit often such ludicrous, and, in a few instances,
such serious and even awful, combinations of ideas,
as could not perhaps have been developed so for-
cibly in any other way.

From the moment of the publication of this vo-
lume, the fame of Thomas Bewick was established
on a foundation not to be shaken. It has passed
through seven large editions, with continually grow-
ing improvements.

It was observed before, that Mr Bewick's younger
brother, John, was apprenticed to Mr Beilby and
himself. He naturally followed the line of engrav-
ing so successfully struck out by his brother. At
the close of his apprenticeship, he removed to Lon-
don, where he soon became very eminent as a wood-
engraver ; indeed, in some respects, he might be
said to excel the elder Bewick. Tbis naturally in-
duced Mr William Bulmer, the spirited proprietor
of the " Shakspeare Press," himself a Newcastle


man, to conceive the desire of giving to the world a
complete specimen of the improved arts of type and
block-printing ; and for this purpose he engaged the
Messrs Bewicks, two of his earliest acquaintances,
to engrave a set of cuts to embellish the poems of
Goldsmith, The Traveller and Deserted Village,
and Parnell's Hermit. These appeared in 1795, in
a royal quarto volume, and attracted a great share of
public attention, from the beauty of the printing and
the novelty of the embellishments, which were exe-
cuted with the greatest care and skill, after designs
made from the most interesting passages of the
poems, and were universally allowed to exceed every
thing of the kind that had been produced before.
Indeed, it was conceived almost impossible that such
delicate effects could be obtained from blocks of
wood ; and it is said that his late Majesty (George
III.) entertained so great a doubt upon the subject,
that he ordered his bookseller, Mr G. Nicol, to pro-
cure the blocks from MrBulmer, that he might con-
vince himself of the fact.

The success of this volume induced Mr Bulmer
to print, in the same way, Somerville's Chase. The
subjects which ornament this work being entirely
composed of landscape scenery and animals, were
peculiarly adapted to display the beauties of wood-


engraving. Unfortunately for the arts, it was the
last work of the younger Bewick, who died at the
close of 1795, of a pulmonary complaint, probably
contracted by too great application. He is justly
described in the monumental inscription in Oving-
ham church-yard, as " only excelled as to his inge^
nuity as an artist by his conduct as a man." Pre-
viously, however, to his death, he had drawn the
whole of the designs for the Chase on the blocks,
except one *, and the whole were beautifully engraved
by his brother Thomas.

In 1797, Messrs Beilby and Bewick published
the 6rst volume of the " History of British Birds,"
comprising the land-birds. This work contains an
account of the various feathered tribes, either con-
stantly residing in, or occasionally visiting, our islands.
While Bewick was engraving the cuts (almost all
faithfully delineated from nature), Mr Beilby was
engaged in furnishing the written descriptions. Some
unlucky misunderstandings having arisen about the
appropriation of this part of the work, a separation
of interests took place between the parties, and the
compilation and completion of the second volume,

Water-birds," devolved on Mr Bewick alone
subject, however, to the literary corrections of the
Rev. Henry Cotes, Vicar of Bedlington. In the


whole of this work, the drawings are minutely ac-
curate, and express the natural delicacy of feather,
down, and accompanying foliage, in a manner par-
ticularly happy. And the variety of vignettes and
tail-pieces, and the genius and humour displayed in
the whole of them (illustrating, besides, in a manner
never before attempted, the habits of the birds),
stamps a value on the work superior to the former
publication on Quadrupeds.* This also has passed

* " Of Bewick's powers, the most extraordinary is the
perfect accuracy with which he seizes and transfers to pa-
per the natural objects which it is his delight to draw. His
landscapes are absolute fac-similes; his animals are whole-
length portraits. Other books on natural history have fine
engravings ; but stilL, neither beast nor bird in them have
any character; dogs and deer, lark and sparrow, have all
airs and countenances marvellously insipid, and of a most
flat similitude. You may buy dear books, but if you want
to know what a bird or quadruped M, to Bewick you must
go at last. It needs only to glance at the works of Bewick,
to convince ourselves with what wonderful felicity the very
countenance and air of his animals are marked and distin-
guished. There is the grave owl, the silly wavering lap.
wing, the pert jay, the impudent over-fed sparrow, the airy
lark, the sleepy-headed gourmand duck, the restless tit-
mouse, the insignificant wren, the clean harmless gull, the
keen rapacious kite every one has his character."

" His vignettes are just as remarkable. Take his British
Birds, and in the tail-pieces to these volumes vou shall
find the most touching representations of Nature in all her
forms, animate and inanimate. There are the poachers
tracking a hare in the snow; and the urchins who have ac-
complished the creation of a " snow-man ;" the disap-


ihrough many editions, with and without the letter-

pointed beggar leaving the gate open for the pigs and poul-
try to march over the good dame's linen, which she is lay-
ing out to dry; the thief who sees devils in every bush a
sketch that Hogarth himself might envy ; the strayed in-
fant standing at the horse's heels, and pulling his tail,
while the mother is in an agony flying over the style; the
sportsman who has slipped into the torrent; the blind man
and boy, unconscious of " Keep on this side ;" and that
best of burlesques on military pomp, the four urchins astride
of gravestones for horses, the first blowing a glass trumpet,
and the others bedizened in tatters, with rush-caps and
wooden swords.

" Nor must we pass over his sea-side sketches, all inimi-
table. The cutter chasing the smuggler is it not evident
that they are going at the rate of at least ten knots an hour?
The tired gulls sitting on the waves, every curled head of
which seems big with mischief. What pruning of plumage,
what stalkings, and flappings, and scratchings of the sand,
are depicted in that collection of sea-birds on the shore!
What desolation is there in that sketch of coast after a
storm, with the solitary rock, the ebb-tide, the crab just
venturing out, and the mast of the sunken vessel standing
up through the treacherous waters ! What truth and mi-
nute nature is in that tide coming in, each wave rolling
higher than its predecessor, like a line of conquerors, and
pouring in amidst the rocks with increased aggression !

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryWilliam JardineThe naturalist's library (Volume 10) → online text (page 1 of 12)