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FAIREST Lady and Noble, for once on a time,
Condescend to accept, in the humblest of rhyme,
And a style more of Gay than of Milton,
A few opportune verses design'd to impart
Some didactical hints in a Needlework Art,
Not described by the Countess of Wilton.
An Art not unknown to the delicate hand
Of the fairest and first in this insular land,
But in Patronage Royal delighting;
And which now your own feminine fantasy wins,
Tho' it scarce seems a lady-like work that begins
In a scratching and ends in a biting!
Yet oh! that the dames of the Scandalous School
Would but use the same acid, and sharp-pointed tool,
That are plied in the said operations
Oh! would that our Candours on copper would sketch!
For the first of all things in beginning to etch
Are, good grounds for our representations.
Jan.-VOL. LXVII. NO. CCLXV.
Those protective and delicate coatings of wax,
Which are meant to resist the corrosive attacks
That would ruin the copper completely,
Thin cerements which whoso remembers the Bee
So applauded by Watts, the divine LL.D.,
Will be careful to spread very neatly.
For why? like some intricate deed of the law,
Should the ground in the process be left with a flaw,
Aqua-fortis is far from a joker;
And attacking the part that no coating protects,
Will turn out as distressing to all your effects
As a landlord who puts in a broker.
Then carefully spread the conservative stuff,
Until all the bright metal is cover'd enough
To repel a destructive so active;
For in Etching, as well as in Morals, pray note,
That a little raw spot, or a hole in a coat,
Your ascetics find vastly attractive.
Thus the ground being laid, very even and flat,
And then smoked with a taper, till black as a hat,
Still from future disasters to screen it,
Just allow me, by way of precaution, to state,
You must hinder the footman from changing your plate, Nor yet suffer the butler to clean it.
Nay, the Housemaid, perchance, in her passion to scrub,
May suppose the dull metal in want of a rub,
Like the Shield which Swift's readers remember-
Not to mention the chance of some other mishaps,
Such as having your copper made up into caps
To be worn on the First of September.
But aloof from all damage by Betty or John,
You secure the veil'd surface, and trace thereupon
The design you conceive the most proper:
Yet gently, and not with a needle too keen,
Lest it pierce to the wax thro' the paper between,
And of course play Old Scratch with the copper.
So in worldly affairs, the sharp-practising man
Is not always the one who succeeds in his plan,
Witness Shylock's judicial exposure;
Who, as keen as his knife, yet with agony found, That while urging his point he was losing his ground, And incurring a fatal disclosure.
But, perhaps, without tracing at all, you may choose To indulge in some little extempore views,
Like the older artistical people;
For example, a Corydon playing his pipe,
In a Low Country marsh, with a Cow after Cuyp,
And a Goat skipping over a steeple.
A wild Deer at a rivulet taking a sup,
With a couple of Pillars put in to fill up,
Like the columns of certain diurnals;
Or a very brisk sea, in a very
And a very Dutch boat, with a very big sail-
Or a bevy of Retzsch's Infernals.
Architectural study-or rich Arabesque ;
Allegorical dream—or a view picturesque,
Near to Naples, or Venice, or Florence;
Or" as harmless as lambs and as gentle as doves,"
A sweet family cluster of plump little Loves,
Like the Children by Reynolds or Lawrence.
But whatever the subject, your exquisite taste
Will ensure a design very charming and chaste,
Like yourself, full of nature and beauty-
Yet besides the good points you already reveal,
You will need a few others-of well-temper'd steel,
And especially form'd for the duty.
For suppose that the tool be imperfectly set,
Over many weak lengths in your line you will fret,
Like a pupil of Walton and Cotton,
Who remains by the brink of the water, agape,
While the jack, trout, or barbel, effects its escape
Thro' the gut or silk line being rotten.
Therefore let the steel-point be set truly and round,
That the finest of strokes may be even and sound,
Flowing glibly where fancy would lead 'em. But alas! for the needle that fetters the hand, And forbids even sketches of Liberty's land To be drawn with the requisite freedom!
Oh! the botches I've seen by a tool of the sort,
Rather hitching than etching, and making, in short,
Such stiff, crabbed and angular scratches,
That the figures seem'd statues or mummies from tombs,
While the trees were as rigid as bundles of brooms,
And the herbage like bunches of matches!
The stiff clouds as if carefully iron'd and starch'd,
While a cast-iron bridge, meant for wooden, o'er-arch'd
Something more like a road than a river.
Prithee, who in such characteristics could see
Any trace of the beautiful land of the free-
But prepared by a hand that is skilful and nice,
The fine point glides along like a skate on the ice,
At the will of the Gentle Designer,
Who impelling the needle just presses so much,
That each line of her labour the copper may touch,
As if done by a penny-a-liner.
And behold! how the fast-growing images gleam!
Like the sparkles of gold in a sunshiny stream,
Till perplex'd by the glittering issue,
You repine for a light of a tenderer kind—
And in choosing a substance for making a blind,
Do not sneeze at the paper call'd tissue.
For, subdued by the sheet so transparent and white,
Your design will appear in a soberer light,
And reveal its defects on inspection,
Just as Glory achieved, or political scheme,
And some more of our dazzling performances seem
Not so bright on a cooler reflection.
So the juvenile Poet with ecstasy views
His first verses, and dreams that the songs of his Muse
Are as brilliant as Moore's and as tender-
Till some critical sheet scans the faulty design,
And alas! takes the shine out of every line
That had form'd such a vision of splendour!
Certain objects, however, may come in your sketch,
Which, designed by a hand unaccustom'd to etch,