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But the most remarkable display of Mr. Thornbury's ferocity against earlier writers is to be found at vol. ii. p. 181, where, after having quoted from the Times' a description of Turner's house in Queen Anne Street, he adds,
"A bitter and malicious man, now dead, and whose name I suppress, for I would not grind my heel on his tombstone, sketches Turner's domicile in much the same way.'
The page on which these words occur is headed, “De Mortuis, &c.'; and, opening on it by chance, we were struck (as who would not be ?) alike with Mr. Thornbury's sublime magnanimity, and with his magnificent style of expressing it. But what was our surprise when, near the beginning of the same chapter (p. 173), we found a quotation which was evidently the sketch alluded to, with the name of the author given, and (that there might be no mistake) distinguished by the same epithet, “bitter,' which Mr. Thornbury uses while affecting to suppress the name! In the same page we are told of the malignant spirit of the writer,' and elsewhere he is described-always by name—as one of the severest of Turner's critics, an open enemy indeed' (ii. 207); as the most foul-mouthed of Turner's detractors’ (ii. 322); as having viewed him with the jaundiced eye of envy.' (ii. 324.) Mr. Thornbury's heel, therefore, must have been pretty nearly ground away on the tombstone of this unfortunate writer—an artist of some note, who, whatever his feelings towards Turner may have been, appears to have said nothing of him more malicious than the scurrilous aspersions contained in Mr. Thornbury's own volumes.
But Mr. Thornbury is not content with abusing his own predecessors. In order to exalt Turner, he thinks it necessary to bespatter many of the persons with whom the painter came into contact; and this system is carried on even in cases where there is no apparent pretext for it. Thus, after telling us that Mr. Porden, an architect, who had employed him, when a boy, in filling up architectural drawings with skies and foregrounds, offered to take him as an apprentice without a premium, the biographer breaks out
Oily Mr. Porden! Without a premium, indeed! Why, in seven years young Turner would have painted you drawings worth three
he betook himself to processes and colours which he must have known to be unsafe. “I believe,' says Mr. Trimmer, “Turner never kept to one plan for any time; I mean latterly, when he began to paint Italian subjects, and was striving to get inore vivid effects. He was ignorant of chemistry and the affinities of colour, and I have heard him say that no one could tell if a method would answer, as he would be dead before it was proved.'-i. 174-5.
times your premium. Go to! you are, I fear, an oily Pecksniff, trying to cheat a man, and all the time professing a deceitful kindness with a lying smile.
• The race of Porden is not yet by any means extinct.'-i. 48. Again :
* There is a story told of Turner's love of concealment, which connects him with Britton, the publisher of so many architectural works -a plausible and, I fear, a very mean man ; one of those bland, selfish squeezers of other men's brains, that still occasionally disgrace literature.'-ii. 154.
What the story is, Mr. Thornbury does not there inform us; but it may be found at vol. i. p. 389, and is very little to the purpose, even if true, while the character given of Britton is utterly inconsistent with the remembrance which he has left in the minds of those who knew him. We need not here collect any more instances of the detraction in which Mr. Thornbury habitually deals, since other examples of it will occur in the course of our article; but as the phrase 'I fear' is found in both of those which we have quoted, we may remind the reader of Mr. Hallam's gloss on it when used by Dr. Lingard in suggesting a bad construction of Anne Boleyn's conduct, —- “I fear,” i.e. wish to believe.'
We have already hinted that paste and scissors have been largely employed in the production of this book. How largely, we are quite unable to say; for, although the obligation is sometimes acknowledged—as in the pages which are copiously borrowed from Leslie's Autobiography' and in some part of the sheetfuls of matter which are transferred from Mr. Ruskin—such acknowledgment is rather the exception than the rule in Mr. Thornbury's practice, and we have no means of measuring the extent of his unavowed appropriations. The words, however, which we have already quoted as to Mr. Wornum, if they are intended to express the amount of the biographer's debt to that gentleman's writings as well as to his private communications, are really astounding ; for, instead of 'two or three dates,' it will be found on examination that Mr. Wornum has been laid under contribution for many pages of description, history, criticism, and other matter. For instance, the account of the origin and progress of the National Gallery, vol. i. pp. 304-5, is taken bodily from the Catalogue of the British School,' which is sold at the Gallery for sixpence; and the descriptions of the pictures in the chapters entitled “Turner's Art-Life' are mainly drawn either from the same excellent but inexpensive manual, or from the more sumptuous letterpress of the Turner Gallery.' Of this we shall give
one or two instances, which will be amply sufficient by way of proof.
As to the picture of the • Blacksmith's Forge,' we find this coincidence between the two writers :Thornbury, i. 289.
Wornum, ' The Turner Gallery,'
10-11. The figures are very good, and the ** We have in this picture a good fowls, shovel, butcher's tray, &c., are Dutch interior ; the various objects painted with admirable Dutch truth.' scattered about the shop, and more
especially the barrow and shovel, and fowls, are delightfully true : all things, from the busy disputants to the stained butcher's tray, are equally
well painted.' It has been often said that Turner A story is told by Allan Cunningmade this picture a mass of flame ham, “ that on a varnishing day Turcolour to destroy the effect of Wilkie's ner reddened his sea [in the Sunrise), Blind Fiddler," exhibited this year,
and blew the bellows of his art on his and hung between the “Forge” and Blacksmith's Forge,' &c." the “Sun rising through Vapour ;” but the “ Forge was No. 135, and • But the “ Blind Fiddler” was not the “Blind Fiddler” 147; the other hung between Turner's two pictures, picture, No. 162. The scene is a sun because the “ Sun rising through Vashine interior, and there is scarcely pour was not near the Forge; any red visible in it.'
the latter's number being 135, and
• There is no red whatever in it.' The last words of the extract from Mr. Wornum relate not to the “Forge,' but to the Sunrise ;' but it will be seen that Mr. Thornbury has throughout mixed up the two. Here is another
Thornbury, i. 296.
National Gallery Catalogue, British
School, 3rd edition, 1858, pp. 90-1. The same year, Turner exhibited · The Catalogue of the British Inat the British Institution his“ Apuleia stitution for 1814 refers to Ovid's in search of Apuleius,” which Turner “Metamorphoses” for this story; it is, quoted Ovid for, but which is neither however, not one of Ovid's. “Lucius, in Ovid, Lucian, nor Apuleius ; the or the Enchanted Ass," of Lucian, painter did not care for accuracy when preceded the “Golden Ass” of Apuhe could invent pleasingly.'
leius, but both are subsequent to Ovid. The personage Apuleia, and the incident represented, appear to be equally
the painter's own invention.' This picture was painted for the This picture, exhibited at the BriEarl of Egremont as a companion to tish Institution, in 1814, was painted the celebrated Claude there where ?],
a companion to the celebrated engraved by Woollett.'
Claude in the possession of the Earl
Thornbury, i. 296.
National Gallery Catalogue, British
School, 3rd edition, 1858, pp. 90-1. of Egremont, at Petworth, Susser, o which there is an engraving by Wool
letti' It is a hilly landscape, with a large * An extensive hilly landscape: in seven-arched bridge, spanning a river the middle distance a large bridge of with wooded banks : a windmill and seven arches over a river, with rich town on the right; in the foreground woody banks: a watermill 'and town are Apuleia and her companions, ques on the spectator's right. In the foretioning some peasants, who are resting ground are Apuleia and her comin the shade of a tree. One of the panions, and some peasants reposing peasants, in imitation of a Poussin in the shade of a tree. One of the picture, points to the name Apuleius, peasants is pointing to the name Apowhich is carved on a tree.'
leius carved in the bark of the tree.' * Apuleius, who lived in the second • Apuleius was a distinguished phicentury after Christ, was the author losopher and advocate of the second of the curious but very obscene poem, century of our era, and was the author “ The Golden Ass." !
of the celebrated romance entitled “The Metamorphosis, or the Golden Ass,” in which he represents himself as transformed into an ass. The inc. dent, however, represented in this pic
ture is not in the story of Apuleius.' Again, as to the Battle of Trafalgar,' now in Greenwich Hospital, Mr. Thornbury's list of the painter's inaccuracies and inconsistencies (i. 292) is copied from the “Turner Gallery, pp. 16, 17, where it is given on the authority of James's “ Naval History, and we have the following remarkable parallel :Thornbury.
Wornum. The picture is a bad composition * This picture as a matter-of-fact in point of art, and is much disliked battle-piece was early condemned by by sailor critics. Nelson's favourite naval critics; and it is very inferior captain, Sir Thomas Hardy, said of it, also to perhaps all Turner's other sea“ It looks more like a street-scene than pieces as a mere pictorial composition. a battle, and the ships more like Sir Thomas Hardy said it looked as houses than men-of-war." An old much like a street-scene as a battle, Greenwich pensioner said of it, “I as the ships were more like houses can't make English of it, Sir ; I can't than men-of-war; and, very recently, make English of it; it wants altering an old pensioner, observing a visitor altogether.” Another tar, vexed at paying rather more attention to the seeing a visitor pore over it, remarked, picture than he seemed to think it de“What a Trafalgar! it is a d-d deal served, approached bim and remarked, more like a brickfield. We ought to What a
a Trafalgar! it's a d-d deal have had a Huggins.” ?
more like a brickfeld! We ought to have had a Huggins.” Another remarked, “ I can't make English of it, Sir! I can't make English of it! it
wants altering altogether.” » These passages,
which are mere samples of a large part of the book, will be enough to show that Mr. Thornbury's obligations
to Mr. Wornum are not limited to two or three dates.' But how helpless he is as to the matter of dates,' when left to himself, may appear from his notice of the last-mentioned picture. Mr. Wornum had said that this was painted some time after the “ Death of Nelson,” but there is no record of its exhibition.' (p. 14.) Mr. Thornbury's version of the matter is, that the Trafalgar' was painted probably about the same year (1808) ’ with the Death of Nelson ;' while his own book contains evidence in a letter from Turner to Sir Thomas Lawrence (ii. 236) that the date of the • Trafalgar' was 1825!
Before leaving the subject of Mr. Thornbury's borrowings, we may notice that, in so far as we remember, he has only in one instance, throughout his two volumes, given a reference to his authority by volume and page. Even as regards books so well known as the Modern Painters' or Leslie's Recollections,' the omission of references is very unsatisfactory; but it is altogether perplexing when the author is giving quotations from other writers, as to which the reader cannot be expected to know whether they come from books or pamphlets, from articles in periodicals or from unpublished manuscripts, whether from writings which expressly profess to treat of Turner, or from writings in which the title would not lead us to expect information about him.
Mr. Thornbury, although a practised manufacturer of books, seems to think that the only requisite for his art is the power of filling the largest possible space. He has no idea of method or order, of digesting his materials, or of constructing a narrative. A great part of his matter has no special reference to Turner, and might as well be introduced into the life of any contemporary artist, or, indeed, into that of any contemporary whatever. Things are repeated over and over and over, --sometimes with variations which leave us in uncertainty as to the truth, or which show that the compiler has not understood the information supplied to him. Statements are sometimes dropped, as if by accident, into places where they have no connexion with the matter before or after them ; there are the strangest incoherences and the most abrupt transitions. Blunders are heaped on blunders ; contradictions are perpetually clashing; and Mr. Thornbury will assuredly never be styled a great authority on the matter of dates, however truly he may deserve the remaining part of the character which he bestows on Mr. Wornum. The ordinary style is that with which the readers of country newspapers are familiar in the jaunty letters of our London correspondent;' and the correctness and refinement of Mr. ThornVol. 111.—No. 222.