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It remains only to say a few words with reference to this addition to the illustrations of one of the most popular passages in the works of our great poet.
The rapid progress, or perhaps revival of wood-engraving in this country, so remarkable within these few years, may be, in a great degree, attributed to the facility of passing the blocks through the same press that prints the descriptions they illustrate.
The high reputation of the eminent artists who kindly consented to make, in several instances for the first time, the drawings on wood which are now presented, is too well known to be further remarked upon. It was the wish of the projector of this series to obtain the highest talent, hitherto not generally employed in illustrations on wood. To the members of the Royal Academy who have so kindly consented to accede to this wish, his thanks are most gratefully offered. How far they have succeeded in their delineations of this beautiful passage it will be for the public to decide.
To Lady Callcott the Editor begs to return his sincere thanks for the interesting essay prefixed to these remarks. To Sir Augustus Callcott he is greatly indebted for the interest he evinced in the plan, and for many useful suggestions which he afforded him.
William Mulready, Esq. R. A. he takes this opportunity of thanking, for undertaking the very difficult subject which bears his name. It is some gratification to the writer
to know that the consequence of requesting his aid to illustrate “ All the World 's a Stage,” induced him to paint the subject on a more extended scale, which now forms one of the ornaments of the rich collection of modern paintings of Mr. Sheepshanks.
During the progress of this work through the engraver's hands, two of its kind and valuable contributors have “ made their exit.” John Constable, R.A. and William Hilton, R.A. The interest which the first-named artist took in the trifling affair required of him, is best evinced by the fact that he had made nearly twenty sketches for the “ melancholy Jaques,” which, by the kindness of C. R. Leslie, Esq. R. A. now accompanies this work ; that gentleman having selected the design he judged most appropriate, and careful of the reputation of his deceased friend, took the additional trouble upon himself of transferring it to the wood. Without his assistance, this effort, however trifling, of one of our true painters of English scenery, would not have appeared—a matter which would have caused deep regret to the Editor, in being prevented exhibiting this tribute of respect to the talent and memory of one in whose society he has enjoyed many pleasant hours.
Mr. Hilton's subject was completed but a very short period before death deprived this country of one of its most distinguished artists. The writer of this humble tribute to his memory and grateful acknowledgment of his aid to this undertaking, had the melancholy pleasure of an interview shortly before his departure, and of hearing him express his satisfaction at the mode in which his subject had been treated; and he can never forget, in allusion, it is feared, to the sparing patronage his department of art had received, his expression of “poor fellow !”* in reference to the wishes of a young aspirant desirous of pursuing and cultivating the same branch.
To Mr. Thompson and Mr. Williams, for their anxiety to render their execution of the engravings as perfect as possible, he begs to return his thanks.
JOHN MARTIN. Woburn Abbey,
April 21, 1840.
* It is curious to observe, on the death of these two distinguished artists, the anxiety evinced to secure specimens of works so little sought after in their life-time, for the National Collection. Mr. Constable's picture of the Corn-field was pu ased by subscription for three hundred guineas; and a subscription is now in progress for Mr. Hilton's picture of Sir Calepine, for five hundred guineas.
- All the world 's a stage,
eyes severe, and beard of formal cut