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being somewhat hard and the mountain contours much exaggerated. In another engraving, entitled "Moel Fammau," the spectator finds a ravine with a stream really represented and a mere distant peep of the great mountain given.* Among the other subjects we have ruins of castle, abbey and church, stately architecture, park land, winding streams, and above all cascades and ravines filled with foliage. And in all these subjects we recognise that a mind full of insight and delight controls the work, and a most unerring hand guides the graver.
What first strikes us in this series of engravings is the high state of smoothness and surface finish which they possess. This is carried, in some examples, to an excess, and there seems a primness of effect, and an emulation of the qualities more proper to steel-plate engraving that may prejudice some minds against them. On a casual glimpse many might take the works to be steel engravings. Considering the nature of the art at that time, it is likely that this effect was desired. It is now the pride of many engravers to mock the effect of another method. Those who welcome the American marvels in what purists call "illegitimate" work may well pardon an occasional falseness of effect in an artist who is in method Bewickian to the backbone, and who, in no one instance, to my knowledge, practices the most direct and simple mode of obtaining the effect desired.
Here, perhaps, those well acquainted with the technique of engraving on wood among my readers will pardon an apparent digression from my immediate subject in the interest of those who are not aware of the exigencies of an artist working as wood engraver. It must be borne in mind, when observing such engravings, with what an intractable material the artist has to deal, and how minute are the forms which he has to pourtray. The compass within which the book illustrator, more especially, has to work is very circumscribed, and much that he has to perform is more cognate to the task of the miniaturist than to that of the worker in oil or watercolour. In the case of the works under notice, anyone taking up a piece of paper of the exact size of these prints will be surprised to see how small is the space at the disposal of the artist and how much he has succeeded in placing upon it. If this be the case with the draughtsman, how greatly are the difficulties of the engraver (who in our case was the same person) increased? He has no clear contrast between the clean white paper and the black line to guide him. He sees before him only the minute monochrome drawing, each delicate gradation of which he has to devise some means of representing by the white line which the touch of
* This ravine was called, we understand, the "Leete," and is now partly filled by a railway embankment.
his graving tool will produce upon the block. The design must necessarily be reversed for printing, creating some little awkwardness. He cannot have the whole block in view as he works, as the closeness and accuracy of his lines in the rather tough wood require that he should use an eyeglass, such as watchmakers use, to follow them; and above all it must be remembered that the wood engraver (contrary to him who engraves upon metal) must have in mind not how to follow the lines drawn by the artist, if any, but to preserve them, solid and standing, between the incisions he makes; for a wood engraving is like type, in that it has to receive the ink upon the delicate projecting lines of its face, not in the incised lines with which, for instance, we are familiar in a card-plate. such a process it will be seen that the chances of injury are endless. A touch may too much reduce or break down one of the delicate ridges; nor is the substance of the block of boxwood upon which the work is done so homogeneous as the metal plate, and sometimes causes failure by softness or minute cracks. Now that the electrotype process allows of metal facsimile moulds being used, many of these dangers are minimised. But when our artist worked the block was subject to all and to others to which I have not referred.
When, therefore, Hugh Hughes conceived the idea of his Beauties of Cambria there was a real heroism in the notion, for what had he to do? First of all there was the preparation of the drawings, for the purpose of which he had to peregrinate the country from Chepstow to Holyhead and from Flint to St. David's. We should like to have seen how he did the journeyprobably on one of the well-known shaggy little Welsh ponies. The pony contentedly grazing among the ruins of Llanffey, with a case strapped behind the saddle, may be a portrait of Hughes's companion in travel. It must have been a pleasant series of excursions, but not without much fatigue, and, for a man of sedentary pursuits, even considerable hardship. What gusts of wind, what soaking rains, and what baking sunlights he must have met with sometimes during the three summers he worked as he went about with his folio, filling it gradually with precious little drawings, tied up in a waterproof case in his saddle bag. What sorry little inns he must have sometimes put up at, and what quaint, and sometimes jovial, company he must have met. Sometimes, as one gathers from the introduction, he was very hospitably entertained at well-known residences, but from the selection of subjects one scarcely thinks this was often possible. At about this time some of the great preachers of Wales were itinerating-among them the quaintly gifted Christmas Evans. We may well imagine that Hughes met with some of these, even the great Christmas himself perhaps, and we can form a fancy picture in
our minds, if we will, of the poet-preacher and the artist meeting in weather fair or foul in some wild scene of Carnarvonshire or Anglesea, exchanging hearty salutations, a rough joke, and then proceeding, each unknowing that the other bore with him work that was to last for many a long year after both had departed.
Now, we will suppose that Hughes had visited all the wild shores, and ports, all the ruins, the traceried churches, the shallow rivers, the waterfalls, where "melodious birds sang madrigals" to the burden of the swift surge, and whence the artist could not tear himself until he had tried to reproduce every budding ash tree and trailing rose-thorn -and had placed them all in his book of drawings. After all this came his second labour, which was to render his material into the form required by him as the wood-engraver-to copy the pictures in black and white. Into his drawings, too, he determined to introduce figures and foregrounds of high elaboration, which appear to be characters and incidents met with in his travels, and bits of beautiful weed and foliage of which he had made separate and careful studies. All this done, came the final and perhaps the greatest tug of all--the placing upon the blocks and the engraving-the last preparation for the eyes of the public. We can well imagine Hughes at his work-table, in a good light, with a water globe before it to soften it as it fell upon the spot where stood a raised desk, with upon it a circular pad of thick leather filled with sand, and upon that a charming little boxwood block, small in size and of flawless surface. On the desk were the gravers, delicately sharpened, and other tools and apparatus. Taking up a brush our artist delicately covers the surface of the block with a mixture of white paint and finely powdered Bath brick, and thins and smooths it out with the ball of his thumb in the usual method by which a draughtsman renders a block fit for drawing upon, smoothing it this way and that, "as if he loved it." Little children always like to see this done, and perhaps some tiny olive branches watched him with delight during the process. When well dry the drawing is transferred, and, the block having been rubbed round with a bit of beeswax, a little cover of smooth paper is fitted upon it to keep it from injury. To-morrow he will begin the engraving, only exposing a part of the surface, and, with his glass fixed at his eye, will commence that process of minute carving, and proving and recarving, which, although we may have seen it in operation many scores of times, is yet, unless we have ourselves handled the graver, almost as much a mystery as ever, the means being so crude, and the best results so beautiful.
Hughes dates his preface from Meddiant, Glan Conway. We were curious to discover the house, and, if possible, some
one who might have been acquainted with its whilom artist owner. An application to Mr. Banks, the honorary secretary of the Royal Cambrian Academy, resulted in a coincidence fit for the report to the Psychical Society. "Meddiant," he replied to our inquiry, "is a farm adjoining my land;" and through Mr. Banks' hospitable kindness we were able to visit the place and obtain a little sketch of the old house. An interview with Mr. Owen Owen, who, when a boy, knew Meddiant well, was obtained for us, and we found that he remembered the visits of Hughes to the old farm. Hughes was a relation of the then occupier, Mr. Williams, and was remembered as "a rather tall and thin man, an artist, which was not common in those days, as it was before all the artists came into the Conway Valley; they are here now thick as bees." Meddiant stands on the acclivity on the east bank of the Conway River, which flows at the foot of its meadows. It is a house of the ordinary farm type, with a porch, on either side of which are rooms. The upper floor is low, with the roof coming down to the top of the two small window apertures, giving them that effect of eyes gleaming from under a hat crushed down to the brows which one often notices in such dwellings. It was one of these windows that we fixed upon as the only one suitable for Hughes' work. And what a view opened out before it! As we saw it, the ebbing tide was racing down the Conway River. The Meddiant meadows had on their winter russet garb, and some young rough-coated cattle strayed about. The air was clear and cold; and, on the other side of the river, the shapely mountain of Tal-y-Fan stood grey, its summit crowned with On its flank nestled the little ancient church of Llangelynen. Stretching south from Tal-y-Fan rose the many pointed ranges which culminate in the vast mass of Carnedd Llewelyn, all wrapped in their winter mantle of purest white, and standing sharp against the delicate blue of the sky. It was before this panorama, seen not in winter's grand nakedness but in summer's symar of purple, green, and gold our artist worked.
Turning now to a more detailed consideration of the engravings, it may be convenient to classify them roughly. Among the architectural subjects we may select for notice Wrexham Church and Gwedir Chapel as an exterior and interior respectively. The former is a very brilliant piece of work, the stately tower standing before us most accurately characterised. To the Gwedir Chapel and portion of the
*We are glad to say that while in Hughes' time the chapel was shamefully neglected (as he says), it is now, by the instructions of the family, represented by their agent, Mr. MacIntyre, most carefully kept. The very remarkable brasses, one by a Welsh artist of the seventeenth century-Wm. Vaughan-are sedulously preserved from risk of injury under glass.
old church at Llanrwst we recently made a pilgrimage, taking with us Hughes's engraving to compare with the original. We came away with our respect for the engraver greatly heightened, for we found that every ornament of the old chapel had been reproduced with almost photographic exactitude, and with wonderful artistic skill, the patterns of the distant panellings being accurately reproduced in almost microscopic size, and, at the same time, most cleverly kept down in the grey distance.
Many of the engravings show great power in representing the forms of rocks, or the crumbling of ruins; the latter is well seen in the interior of Harlech Castle, where the exposition of the broken surface forms the chief artistic interest of the view. The exterior view of the same castle is a marked example of Hughes's accuracy in rock-drawing. The old castle stands upon a grand exposure of the type "Harlech Slates." Our attention was called to the piece of precise delineation by Dr. Sollas, Professor of Geology at Trinity College, Dublin, who was struck with such quasi-scientific truth in a work of a period almost before geology had become a science. In the graceful and truthfal representation of foliage Hughes seems to be preeminent. We are not aware of any wood engraver of the period who is his equal in this respect. Among the "Beauties" this special power is well developed in many compositions, perhaps specially in the engravings of Parc Mawr, Pistill Cain, Falls of Helygog, Devil's Bridge, and in a very beautiful manner in the graceful young ash trees in the Rhaidr Cynwyd. "The oak, the ash, and the bonny ivy-tree," all flourish in Hughes's work, as well as "in the North Countree," and one can hardly imagine a more definite contrast of specific foliage than the oak branches and the delicate birches of the "Parc Mawr."
Together with this power of indicating the beauty proper to each kind of tree, Hughes possesses an equal power of rendering the grace and growth of foreground plants and herbage. In the "Rhaidr Cynwyd" are some exquisite bits of wild rose tangle at the edge of the stream. In the "Glyn Hir" a tall stem of the bracken fern, such as will sometimes grow in wet woods, is carefully drawn in white line against the dark flank of a rock, and a profuse growth of the rag-wort is admirably given among the crumbling walls of Bardsey, while in the "Llanddwyn," thistles and nettles, which we can perceive to be in flower, grow amid the ruin. Among the figures, animals and incidents delineated as giving more interest to the scenes, there is much that is noteworthy, and we are inclined to think more highly of them than does Mr. Pearson, whose remarks are added. The shoeing scene in one of the pictures of "Carreg Cenen" is well given, and there is much rough humour in the couple riding on the same pony, the husband