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and to fight for it. Once more the young will be attracted to battle and to suffer, where those whom they can reverence and trust are battling and suffering before them. And the English Church will continue to be the greatest instrument of blessing, which the hand of Providence, amongst all its mercies, has provided for this State and Country, even for the whole world.
ART. V.-1. The Life of J. M. W. Turner, R.A., founded on
Letters and Papers furnished by his Friends and Fellow Academicians. By Walter Thornbury. 2 vols. 8vo.
2 vols. 8vo. London, 1862. 2. The Turner Gallery: a Series of Sixty Engravings from the
principal Works of Joseph Mallord William Turner; with a Memoir and Illustrative Text. By Ralph Nicholson Wornum, Keeper and Secretary, National Gallery. Folio. London,
1861. MHE preface to Mr. Thornbury's volumes might lead us to
expect a matured and carefully executed work. The author tells us that he has been engaged on the subject "some four years ;' that he set to work steadily and quietly, letting no day pass by without some search for materials, some noting down of traditions, some visit to Turner's old friends; determining not to complete my book, however long it took me, till I had collected for it all that patience and enthusiasm could glean, cull, or heap together. (Pref. v., vi.) The four years, however, have not been entirely given to the composition of the Life of Turner; for we find that from 1858 to 1861 Mr. Thornbury has also enriched our literature with at least nine other separate volumes, viz. “Every Man his own Trumpeter,' 3 vols. ; . Life in Spain, Past and Present,' 2 vols.; "Turkish Life and Character,' 2 vols.; * British Artists from Hogarth to Turner,' 2 vols. He has also contributed an article on Turner to the new edition of the * Encyclopædia Britannica;' he has taken up Mr. Ruskin's function of sending forth an annual pamphlet of dogmas on the picture-exhibitions of the London season; and it would seem, moreover, from hints scattered here and there, that this indefatigable gentleman has found time to contribute to periodicals. In a case of such alarming superfetation, it is vain to expect much vitality in the offspring. But whatever may be the merits of Mr. Thornbury's other productions, his Life of Turner' is simply the most deplorable piece of bookmaking that has ever fallen in our way. In a certain sense, indeed, Mr. Thornbury's
account of his operations may be correct, for the book does exhibit something of the spirit of research of a Paris chiffonnier, who goes about with his basket and picks up every bit of filth and tinsel that comes in his way; but for any really accurate investigation of facts worthy to be known, for any useful judgments upon facts that are ascertained, we must not look to Mr. Thornbury. His work is not calculated to advance Art by sound criticism, nor human nature by exhibiting the excellences of an eminent character.
Although the publishers do not hesitate to use in their advertisements a newspaper criticism which speaks of Mr. Thornbury as having had a personal acquaintance with Turner,' it is clear that the biographer never saw the painter, nor even visited his gallery in Queen Anne Street. It may appear surprising that the task of writing Turner's life should have been left to an utter stranger, since there must be among those who knew him persons well qualified to do justice to the subject. If we may take the liberty of naming one, we should suppose that the biography might most fitly have been undertaken by Mr. Jones, R.A., whose acquaintance with Turner was as close as any man's, who was
one of his executors, and in the Recollections of Chantrey' has shown himself able to employ the pen as well as he can use the brush, and as in early days he wielded the sword. But it would seem that, for whatever reason, Turner's personal friends have declined the task; and hence it is that he has unhappily fallen a prey to a sort of manifold writer, in whose hands the materials which might properly have filled something less than 200 duodecimo pages are swelled out to 850 pages octavo, while the spongy tumidity of the book is by no means its worst characteristic.
Mr. Thornbury appears to have met with much courtesy and communicativeness from those who had anything to tell--from executors, from Academicians and other artists ; from the two or three noblemen who, alone of their wealthy order, patronised the painter when living' (Pref. vi.); from other patrons or their representatives ; above all, from Mr. Ruskin, who is rewarded by being styled the greatest of all dead or living writers on art. (Ib. vii.) But, on the other hand, the statement that 'to Mr. Wornum, an official of the National Gallery, I am indebted for two or three dates' (Ib. ix.), with the sneer at Mr. Wornum in one place as an authority on the matter of dates, and dates alone, and the somewhat inconsistent, but not respectfully intended, mention of him elsewhere as an excellent authority on technicalities' (i. 267),-all this would seem to hint that Mr. Wornum may have shown some unwillingness to mix himself up with Mr. Thornbury's undertaking. If so, we congratulate him on his discreet caution; and, now that the result is seen, we imagine that most of the gentlemen who are distinguished by Mr. Thornbury's expressions of gratitude would be glad to exchange these for a share of the reprobation which he bestows on the official of the National Gallery."
* Mr. Thornbury himself nowhere claims acquaintance with Turner, and always speaks of him and of his house on the authority of others. See especially vol. ii. pp. 85, 173, and the chapter on ‘The Turner Portraits.'
The tone of Mr. Thornbury's remarks on earlier writers is not such as to bespeak for him much favour at the hands of critics, while it might fairly entitle them to require that an author who is so full of contempt for others shall himself produce something of a very superior kind. Thus he tells us that
‘Mr. Peter Cunningham once wrote a short memoir, full of prejudice, and still more full of errors. . . . . Mr. Timbs, with little of that courtesy that should distinguish literary men, has lately cut out a dozen or two of trite or erroneous Turner stories, and has published them in a catchpenny form--for which, as partly fulfilling Job's wish, I thank him.'—Pref. ix.
Among the German critics, Dr. Waagen stands pre-eminent for pompous blundering. He has one of those routine minds, unoriginal, formed by precedent and convention, and holding to the old and safe.'
And then follows a long extract from the Berlin critic, which, although the style of it is somewhat too German for English taste, contains nothing whatever that could warrant this attack on him. Dr. Waagen (whom Mr. Thornbury insults by styling him in the headline •ÌHE GERMAN SOLOMON ') regards Turner as pre-eminent in genius above all other landscapepainters, and the single important fault that he points out is his deficiency in a sound technical basis’_ (ii. 191-3)—the very deficiency which Mr. Ruskin, and Mr. Thornbury as his echo, also point out in saying (unjustly, as we think) that the Academy taught Turner nothing, not even the one thing it might have done-the mechanical process of safe oil-painting, sure vehicles, and permanent colours.” (i. 59.) †
* Since this was written, we bave seen some letters in the Athenæum,' which fully bear out our conjecture. These letters are also very damaging to the biographer in other ways.
+ The truth seems to be that the Academy did teach Turner the safe use of his materials, but that, in striving after effects which had not before been attempted,
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
be betook himself to processes and colours which he must have known to be unsafe. 'I believe,' says Mr. Trimmer, “Turper never kept to one plan for any time; I mean terly, when he began to paint Italian subjects, and was striving to get more 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.
“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