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On Some Books And Their Associations
by [?]

From Bewick’s magick wood throw borrow’d rays
O’er many a page in gorgeous Bulmer’s blaze,–

“gorgeous Bulmer” (the epithet is over-coloured!) being the William Bulmer who, in 1795, issued the Poems of Goldsmith and Parnell. “I” (says the writer of the note) “was chiefly instrumental to this ingenious artist’s [Bewick’s] excellence in this art. I first initiated his master, Mr. Ra. Beilby (of Newcastle) into the art, and his first essay was the execution of the cuts in my Treatise on Mensuration, printed in 4to, 1770. Soon after I recommended the same artist to execute the cuts to Dr. Horsley’s edition of the works of Newton. Accordingly Mr. B. had the job, who put them into the hands of his assistant, Mr. Bewick, who executed them as his first work in wood, and that in a most elegant manner, tho’ spoiled in the printing by John Nichols, the Black-letter printer. C.H. 1798.”

“C.H.” is Dr. Charles Hutton, the Woolwich mathematician. His note is a little in the vaunting vein of that “founder of fortun’s,” the excellent Uncle Pumblechook of Great Expectations, for his services scarcely amounted to “initiating” Bewick or his master into the art of engraving on wood. Moreover, his memory must have failed him, for Bewick, and not Beilby, did the majority of the cuts to the Mensuration, including a much-praised diagram of the tower of St. Nicholas Church at Newcastle, afterwards a familiar object in the younger man’s designs and tail-pieces. Be this as it may, Dr. Hutton’s note was surely worth rescuing from the ruthless binder’s plough.

Between the work of Thomas Bewick and the work of Samuel Pepys, it is idle to attempt any ingenious connecting link, save the fact that they both wrote autobiographically. The “Pepys” in question here, however, is not the famous Diary, but the Secretary to the Admiralty’s “only other acknowledged work,” namely, the privately printed Memoires Relating to the State of the Royal Navy of England, for Ten Years, 1690; and this copy may undoubtedly lay claim to exceptional interest. For not only does it comprise those manuscript corrections in the author’s handwriting, which Dr. Tanner reproduced in his excellent Clarendon Press reprint of last year, but it includes the two portrait plates by Robert White after Kneller. The larger is bound in as a frontispiece; the smaller (the ex-libris) is inserted at the beginning. The main attraction of the book to me, however, is its previous owners–one especially. My immediate predecessor was a well-known collector, Professor Edward Solly, at whose sale in 1886 I bought it; and he in his turn had acquired it in 1877, at Dr. Rimbault’s sale. Probably what drew us all to the little volume was not so much its disclosure of the lamentable state of the Caroline navy, and of the monstrous toadstools that flourished so freely in the ill-ventilated holds of His Majesty’s ships-of-war, as the fact that it had once belonged to that brave old philanthropist, Captain Thomas Coram of the Foundling Hospital. To him it was presented in March, 1724, by one C. Jackson; and he afterwards handed it on to a Mr. Mills. Pasted at the end is Coram’s autograph letter, dated “June 10th, 1746.” “To Mr. Mills These. Worthy Sir I happend to find among my few Books, Mr. Pepys his memoires, w’ch I thought might be acceptable to you & therefore pray you to accept of it. I am w’th much Respect Sir your most humble Ser’t. THOMAS CORAM.”

At the Foundling Hospital is a magnificent full-length of Coram, with curling white locks and kindly, weather-beaten face, from the brush of his friend and admirer, William Hogarth. It is to Hogarth and his fellow-Governor at the Foundling, John Wilkes, that my next jotting relates. These strange colleagues in charity afterwards–as is well known–quarrelled bitterly over politics. Hogarth caricatured Wilkes in the Times : Wilkes replied by a North Briton article (No. 17) so scurrilous and malignant that Hogarth was stung into rejoining with that famous squint-eyed semblance of his former crony, which has handed him down to posterity more securely than the portraits of Zoffany and Earlom. Wilkes’s action upon this was to reprint his article with the addition of a bulbous-nosed woodcut of Hogarth “from the Life.” These facts lent interest to an entry which for years had been familiar to me in the Sale Catalogue of Mr. H.P. Standly, and which ran thus: “The NORTH BRITON, No. 17, with a PORTRAIT of HOGARTH in WOOD; and a severe critique on some of his works: in Ireland’s handwriting is the following–‘ This paper was given to me by Mrs. Hogarth, Aug. 1782, and is the identical North Briton purchased by Hogarth, and carried in his pocket many days to show his friends.'” The Ireland referred to (as will presently appear) was Samuel Ireland of the Graphic Illustrations. When, in 1892, dispersed items of the famous Joly collection began to appear sporadically in the second-hand catalogues, I found in that of a well-known London bookseller an entry plainly describing this one, and proclaiming that it came “from the celebrated collection of Mr. Standly, of St. Neots.” Unfortunately, the scrap of paper connecting it with Mrs. Hogarth’s present to Ireland had been destroyed. Nevertheless, I secured my prize, had it fittingly bound up with the original number which accompanied it; and here and there, in writing about Hogarth, bragged consequentially about my fortunate acquisition. Then came a day–a day to be marked with a black stone!–when in the British Museum Print Room, and looking through the “–Collection,” for the moment deposited there, I came upon another copy of the North Briton, bearing in Samuel Ireland’s writing a notification to the effect that it was the Identical No. 17, etc., etc. Now which is the right one? Is either the right one? I inspect mine distrustfully. It is soiled, and has evidently been folded; it is scribbled with calculations; it has all the aspect of a venerable vetuste. That it came from the Standly collection, I am convinced. But that other pretender in the (now dispersed) “–Collection”? And was not Samuel Ireland ( nomen invisum !) the, if not fraudulent, at least too-credulous father of one William Henry Ireland, who, at eighteen, wrote Vortigern and Rowena, and palmed it off as genuine Shakespeare? I fear me–I much fear me–that, in the words of the American showman, I have been “weeping over the wrong grave.”