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his crony Frank Hayman to Theobald's "Shakespeare," to Milton, to

Pope, to Cervantes; there are Pine's "Horace" and Sturt's "Prayer-

Book" (in both of which text and ornament were alike engraved);

there are the historical and topographical drawings of Sandby, Wale,

and others; and yet--notwithstanding all these--it is with Bewick's

cuts to Gay's "Fables" in 1779, and Stothard's plates to Harrison's

"Novelist's Magazine" in 1780, that book-illustration by imaginative

compositions really begins to flourish in England.  Those little

masterpieces of the Newcastle artist brought about a revival of

wood-engraving which continues to this day; but engraving upon

metal, as a means of decorating books, practically came to an end

with the "Annuals" of thirty years ago.  It will therefore be well

to speak first of illustrations upon copper and steel.

Stothard, Blake, and Flaxman are the names that come freshest to

memory in this connection.  For a period of fifty years Stothard

stands pre-eminent in illustrated literature.  Measuring time by

poets, he may be said to have lent something of his fancy and

amenity to most of the writers from Cowper to Rogers.  As a

draughtsman he is undoubtedly weak:  his figures are often limp and

invertebrate, and his type of beauty insipid.  Still, regarded as

groups, the majority of his designs are exquisite, and he possessed

one all-pervading and un-English quality--the quality of grace.

This is his dominant note.  Nothing can be more seductive than the

suave flow of his line, his feeling for costume, his gentle and

chastened humour.  Many of his women and children are models of

purity and innocence.  But he works at ease only within the limits

of his special powers; he is happier in the pastoral and domestic

than the heroic and supernatural, and his style is better fitted to

the formal salutations of "Clarissa" and "Sir Charles Grandison,"

than the rough horse-play of "Peregrine Pickle."  Where Rowlandson

would have revelled, Stothard would be awkward and constrained;

where Blake would give us a new sensation, Stothard would be poor

and mechanical.  Nevertheless the gifts he possessed were thoroughly

recognised in his own day, and brought him, if not riches, at least

competence and honour.  It is said that more than three thousand of

his drawings have been engraved, and they are scattered through a

hundred publications.  Those to the "Pilgrim's Progress" and the

poems of Rogers are commonly spoken of as his best, though he never

excelled some of the old-fashioned plates (with their pretty borders

in the style of Gravelot and the Frenchmen) to Richardson's novels,

and such forgotten "classics" as "Joe Thompson", "Jessamy," "Betsy

Thoughtless," and one or two others in Harrison's very miscellaneous


Stothard was fortunate in his engravers.  Besides James Heath, his

best interpreter, Schiavonetti, Sharp, Finden, the Cookes,

Bartolozzi, most of the fashionable translators into copper were

busily employed upon his inventions.  Among the rest was an artist

of powers far greater than his own, although scarcely so happy in

turning them to profitable account.  The genius of William Blake was

not a marketable commodity in the same way as Stothard's talent.

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