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to make arrangements, in his capacity of tiquity of the art. One can feel for a Curator of the Patent Museum, for the discoverer beset with such auxiliaries ! transfer to that establishment of the “Sun In much the same spirit a family tradiand Planet." Beyond this he had no tion of Soho was disinterred, one that mission, and, beyond collecting any promised not merely to reveal the nature records he might chance upon with ref- of the art that had perished, but actually erence to steam engines of early date, no to disclose the wicked means employed thought of instituting any inquiries. for bringing it to its end. That Josiah Before night he was destined to fall in Wedgwood's Paris agent should have with strange objects that launched him borne the name of Daguerre was a cirand many others for many a day upon a cumstance invested all at once with wonsea of speculation of a very different kind. derful significance !
On reaching Birmingham Sir Francis Our story, from the period when the at once proceeded to Soho, where he was “Shepherd and Shepherdess” pictures received by Mr. Price, a gentleman who were rescued from the obscurity of the had acted as the agent of the Boulton office drawer at Soho, is best followed in family for nearly thirty years. While dis- the correspondence which ensued becussing various matters connected with tween Mr. Price, who remained in Birthe establishment of steam machinery at mingham, and Sir F. Smith, after his re. Soho, Mr. Price opened some of the turn to town. On the 3rd December, drawers in the office, and pulled out of 1862, after some remarks as to the silver them some old papers, among them two plates (innocent imposters in whom we "crumpled up like old dusters.". Flat- shall lose all our interest directly), Mr. tened out, these are found to be pictures Price writes :of so singular a kind that, unless they are attributable to photography, it seems
The other photos you saw had a number hard to account for their production.* scored on the face, 7, 6, or 9, and these I still
I don't The suggestion of photography is no hope to get for you in a day or two. sooner made by his visitor than Mr. Price could give you a clue to the camera which
want to tease you too much, but suppose I takes from a drawer — a parcel inscribed made these pictures! I had it once, and did “Sun picture of Soho House, the res- not know what it was for. Some thirteen idence of Matthew Boulton, before the years ago I showed it to a friend of mine, and alteration of 1791”! Within the parcel, he appeared so delighted with it that I could face to face, are found two silvered plates, not help giving it to him. When I cleared and on them common daguerreotytes ! out Mr. Boulton's old library, Miss Wilkinson Leaving behind him directions for the told me to take away“ all that rubbish,” and do transmission of the “Sun and Planet," what I liked with it. The camera and these old and musing much on the singular ap: think what they were.
pictures were amongst the rubbish. Little did I pearance of the pictures he has seen, Sir Francis returned to town.
On the 16th December, he informs Sir It will be surprising only to those to Francis : whom the history of the thousand and one delusions that have at different times I saw an auctioneer to-day who some years taken possession of the public mind is ago was a common dealer and broker.' He unknown, to see how confidently and in knew Mr. Powell (the gentleman to whom the what numbers, so as the ante- camera had been given), and when I inquired
if he knew his address, the subject of the sun daguerreotypian theory of photography is
pictures came up. He reminded me that some broached, confirmatory volunteers come
years ago, when I turned out all the rubbish trooping in. One gentleman in his zeal and waste paper from the library at Soho, he for the new idea produces a glass posi- bought the old scrap paper, and amongst it tive portrait, which has been so long in was a very curious picture which he could not his family that no one can remember any- make out. I did not recollect any picture thing of the original. He proposes in being amongst the rubbish. He says that in forwarding it to Sir Francis to obtain a sorting it over he found it and put it on one table-rapped certificate from the spirits," side. Since then he has frequently brought it as to the individual portrayed, and thus out, and has always become bewildered as to supply indisputable evidence of the an- India ink, paint, or painting. He will bring it
what it is. He says it is neither chalk, crayon,
up for me to see. It is in two parts, he says, . "If they are photographs,” is the judgment of the and from its general description I suppose it Photographic News, reviewing the subjects of the discovery so long afterwards as November, 1863,
is a brother or sister of those I sent you. have made no progress in reproduction - possibly retrogressed."
1 On the 19th December, he writes:
The broker who has got the other pictures suspension of the trade, because the person expects to be paid. Of course I made very who held the secret was offered a penlight of them. As he bought them merely as sion. ..” A few days later, on the 29th waste paper, I said he ought to return them to May, he is fast losing faith (we shall see me as such. I asked him what he wanted for how justly directly) in the silver plates; them, and he merely said he would consider of but is being daily fortified in his beit. They should be secured by all means. lief in the new theory as to the paper They are very beautiful.
pictures that are cropping up. “EginThe reply is a telegram from Sir Fran- ton's name,” he writes, “is erased in cis, “ Don't give him time to think, but many places in the old books. All this get pictures at once, lowest price you is a mystery. . . . Boulton and Eginton can.” On the 22nd, after assuring his I believe alone knew the secret, and with correspondent that he will if possible get them it died.” the pictures for him, Mr. Price proceeds Before noticing the very remarkable to notice the family tradition I have piece of evidence (the “Dartmouth Letadverted to. It has to be collated out of ter ') on which this conjecture of Governthe experiences of one Townsend, an ment action is based, let us say a word old man who had died some eight years be- about Eginton, the pensioner that was to fore, and who had been Mr. Boulton's be, who now for the first time appears “ cad,” or handy man, and was well upon the scene. He is certainly' no known in that capacity to the members mythological personage, for his biography of the celebrated Lunar Society which is contained in the prosaic register of held its meetings at Soho. “In thinking Nagler's Künstlerlexicon, published in over these pictures,” Price writes, “1 1837, as that of recollect old Townsend in his gossip telling me that they (the great men) used to
EGINTON, FRANCIS, a celebrated English have pictures on the table, not the pic- with Jarvis, a new revolution in that art, by
glass painter. He effected, in conjunction tures themselves, but the likenesses of making it an imitation of oil painting. . . the pictures. . . . He explained they' were in a dark tent and nothing but a pic- The article gives a list of the most ture on the table."
important of his works, in all some fifty. In January of the following year, the They consist of historical subjects and auctioneer has discovered "two more portraits in Magdalen College, Oxford ; beautiful old sun pictures” among the St. Paul's Church, Birmingham ; Salisrubbish, and these are duly ransomed bury and Lichfield Cathedrals, Arundel and added to the others. On the 5th Castle and Fonthill. His death is given February, Price writes, “Boulton and as having occurred at Handsworth, in Fothergill sold pictures painted in oil by 1805, when he was in his sixty-eighth the dozen at very low prices, and I firmly year. believe that I have a clue to the secret,
The notice is followed in Nagler by but am not yet quite ready to give you another which may possibly, for those details.” In confirmation of his views he who pursue this matter for themselves, forwards from among the papers in the possess interest. It is that of “ Eginton, Soho office, a batch of copies of invoices Rafael,” whom it speaks of as “glass and orders for “square mechanical paint painter at Birmingham, a successor of ings,” and “oval pictures in forms of the preceding, whose reputation he mainmedallions." Some of the “mechanical tained." paintings” were of great size. In a letter In July, Mr. Price writes that he is written by a customer in July, 1781, we “startled” at a communication from Sir have the wish expressed that " Rynaldo Francis, to the effect that Miss Meteyard preventing Armina from stabbing herself” (who was writing the life of Josiah Wedgcould be had in a smaller form than that wood) has found mention of a camera bein which it was being published,— fifty longing to one of the Wedgwoods in inches by forty
1791. “ You may with safety," she has On the 23rd May, Price announces a told Sir Francis, " refer the first experivery mysterious circumstance that has ments in photography to as early a date come to his knowledge. After remarking as 1790 or 1791. In this latter year I that the entries in the Soho books prove find Thomas Wedgwood, third surviving that a great many of these pictures must son of Josiah Wedgwood, sending his be somewhere among the nobility and camera to be mended. ..." The idea gentry of London, he goes on, “I think that the camera he has given away may Government had something to do with the be the very identical camera with which
the Lost Art has been practised revives | left him, we are inclined to listen with an in force, and he assures his correspond- indulgent smile. We have a right to ask ent he will try to follow up its traces. something more definite at the hands of a “You may depend upon it,” he adds, re- scientific writer, when he refers to these verting to the mystery he has drawn same ramblings as if they were the firm. attention to, “this secret was allowed to est of facts. “We were informed," sa die out with the death of Eginton and writes the British Journal of Photos the lunatics,* and all traces of it were de- raphy, on 16th November, 1863, “ that a stroyed at the instigation of the Royal copy of a petition from the well-knowo Academy and some members of the Gov- painter, Sir William Beechey, to the ernment. In my old letter books hun-members of the Lunar Society, is in exdreds of pages have been torn out be- istence urging them, &c., &c.,” in the sides many erasures."
words and to the purport and effect of On ist November, 1863, Mr. Price has old Townsend's recollections. If there so far despaired of the recovery of the be such a petition in existence, no effort camera as to repeat with complacency the ought to be spared for its production. If suggestion that has been made by a good- there be not — the fable of the Three natured friend that it is probably doing Black Crows seems in danger of having duty in some Staffordshire chimney cor- its proud pre-eminence contested. ner as a saltbox. He speaks of sending The so-called Dartmouth letter, to come up some oil pictures by Eginton, and to it at last, is a letter written by Matthew mentions a fact worth noting as it dis- Boulton to Lord Dartmouth, the press poses of one of the many theories which copy of it being found among Matthew undertook to solve all the difficulties pre- Boulton's papers. It is in these terms :sented by the case, viz. that the papers found were only the intermediate stage, letter from Sir John Dalrymple, dated Dublin,
My LORD, – A few days ago I received a so to speak, between the original and the May 27th, in which he surprises me by saying, article produced for sale. The fact is, “I have written to Sir Grey Cooper to have a that the pictures are all reversed.
pension of £20 per annum for Mr. Eginton: And now for the Dartmouth letter, the so if there is any stop write me of it to Scotfamous document which has given such land, and I will get it set to rights, as I know zest to the story by infusing into it the nothing but inattention can stop it.” delicate flavour of Court scandal. The
As I think I cannot with propriety write to letter is one of the few pieces of evidence Sir Grey Cooper upon that matter, having in this singular case which will bear not the honour of being known to him, and as
I have never mentioned the subject to him, or handling ; whether it goes to support the any person beside your lordship, I hope, there“old cad's ” theory, is a very different fore, to be pardoned for thus troubling you question. The “old cad” was of opinion with my sentiments and wishes. that Sir William Beechey was at the In the first place I wish to have an entire bottom of the whole affair. Price's con- stop put to the pension, because Mr. Eginton tributions to this part of the story are hath no claim nor expectations. I pay him by only the recollections of Townsend. *** He the year, and consequently he is already paid told me,” says Mr. Price, “ that Beechey i by me for all the three or four months spent in painted Matthew Boulton's picture, and
that business: and as to an overplus reward when he was at Soho, Mr. Boulton ex-effectually, and with more prudence, than giv
for his secrecy, I know how to do that more plained to him this invention of taking ing him annually £ 20, which will only serve to sun pictures. Sir William then went keep up the remembrance of that business, amongst all the artists and got up a peti- and therefore 'tis impolitical. tion to Matthew Boulton and the Lunar Besides it might, perhaps, be injurious to Society begging them to stop, because it me, as such a pension might tend to make him (the secret) would be the means of shut- more independent of me and my manufacture. ting up the painters' shops — this was
His attachment to me, his knowing that no poor old Townsend's expression.”
use hath been made of the things, the obliga. And to “poor old Townsend,” rambling caution and prudence, render me firmly per
tion he is under to me, and his own natural on in his dotage, according to the light suaded that the scheme will die away in his
memory, or at least will never be mentioned. * Among the members of the “Lunar Society," who were thus nick-named, were Matthew Boulton, James
If anybody is entitled to any pecuniary reWatt, Dr. Priestly, Dr. Parr, Sir W. Herschel, Sir ward in this business it is myself, because I Joseph Banks, Dr. Solander, Dr. Arelius, Benjamin have not only bestowed some time upon it, but Franklin, Mr.
Roebuck, Dr. Johnson, and Mr. Wedg- have actually expended in money between one | This is verified by the catalogue of the Royal Acad- and two hundred pounds, as I can readily conemy where the picture was exhibited.
vince your lordship when I have the honour of
eeing you at Soho; and, although I was in artists, "by chemical and mechanical luced by to believe that I was writing means.” t the request, and under the authority of a
One piece of evidence adduced by Mr. joble lord (whose wisdom and virtue I revere), Price almost inclines us to believe that et I never intended making any charge to the invention did not die suddenly out at jovernment of any of my expenses or for my all. This is the proof-sheet of an artirouble.
All that I have now to request of your lord- çle entitled “ Handsworth,” supposed to hip is that a negative be put upon the pen- have been written by James Watt for a ion.
topographial work (Lewis). If the article My lord, your lordship’s most dutiful, most was really written by him it is extremely ibliged, and most faithful humble servant. curious, for after mentioning astronomi
cal clocks as having been constructed at It seems wanton to destroy almost as Soho, it goes on to say, “ The art of oon as they appear any of the harmless copying pictures in oil colours, called ittle mysteries we have by this time con- Polygraphic (we must bear this name in ured up, but as a very important per- mind as we proceed), was also invented onage, who will arrive directly, would and pursued here under the direction of observe, Magna est veritas, and we can Mr. Francis Eginton, ta whom it was happily show our devotion to Truth, and subsequently resigned, and who became at the same time add to the real interest celebrated for his painting upon glass.” of our story, by giving the coup de grâce To make amends for any disappointto some few of them at once.
ment occasioned by our actually necesThe silver pictures, as I have already sary Massacre of the Innocents, we will hinted, were not real antiques. The in- now bring forward another mysterious scription on the parcel notwithstanding, personage, - unless indeed some critic they turned out (we shall see how di- shall step in and prove him to be only rectly) to be daguerreotypes of a date Eginton in disguise, - busier even than when daguerreotyping was by no means Eginton with chemical and mechanical rare. The hopeful inscription on one of painting, working for a sort of junior the pictures of the broker's shop ["Sun Lunatics” in London, and practising picture taken by a process invented at his art not merely without molestation by the Soho works, Handsworth, the year the profession, but under the sanction of 1780-85, ' Flora bedecking Pan?”] was names still greater than that of Sir W. found to be in the hand writing of the Beechey. His secret too is lost, and his broker, who gave as his authority for the works less fortunate than Eginton's, have legend, — Mr. Price! If the complicity passed away and left “not a wrack beof the Government in an atrocious piece hind.” of Vandalism is to go too, we owe a word Our new acquaintance is Mr. Joseph of apology to sundry photographic zeal- Booth, a gentleman describing himself as ots who carefully annotated the facts, of Lewisham, artist, and engaged, when and drew attention to the circumstance we first meet with him, in 1784, in makthat Lord Dartmouth's seat was in the ing chemical and mechanical reproducvicinity of Soho, and that Sir Grey Cooper tions of works of art, very much after the was an indefatigable Minister of State. fashion of Eginton at Soho. In one imWe can in truth hardly hope for a con- portant particular he differs materially viction. If we remember that at the from Eginton. He has a turn for authortime that Eginton was busy with his pic- ship, and loves, if we would believe him, tures at Soho, the Soho factory was, so to discourse about nothing so well as the far as the copper coinage of the country new invented Polygraphic art. He makes was concerned, a Royal Mint, it seems his art the pretext for deluging us with possible, to say the least of it, that the in- his views about all things earthly and vention the Government was desirous of supernal — save one — how he made his putting a stop to, the preliminaries of chemical and mechanical paintings." which invention Boulton had entered on On this point he is reticence itself, and he " at the request and under the authority" leaves us, after we have read both his treaof a noble lord, as to which invention tises from end to end, under the uncomBoulton had never spoken to any one but fortable impression that, while pretendhis lordship, and more than all, of which ing to take us into his confidence, he has no use had ever been made, was an in- been laughing at us in his sleeve. The vention more nearly affecting the welfare pamphlets are perhaps as neat a combiof the State than the copying of cele- nation of rigmarole and business “smartbrated pictures, to
the detriment of 'ness ” as anything that has been put for
ward by the great showman of our latter | painted in the usual manner.” Unless he days, Artemus Ward himself. Booth's is carrying duplicity to an incredible first production styles itself —
length his art had 'nothing in common A treatise explanatory of the nature and with engraving, which he denounces as “a properties of POLLAPLASIASMOS, or the origi- metaphysical thought which endeavours nal invention of multiplying pictures in oil to form in imagination a living being withcolours, with all the properties of the original out a body or member," while his own art paintings, whether in regard to outline, size, is “ that to painting which engraving is to variety of tints, &c. ; together with a proposal design. Moreover,” he adds, but without for a subscription for forming a collection of our seeing very clearly what the remark pictures, truly original, on different subjects, is intended to convey, “all the aërial beinterspersed with occasional remarks on the utility of painting, on the modern improve-ings of a Shakspear, or a Milton, must be ments in that art, and on the merits of the formed of parts which are first realized in English school.
nature, else they couid not possibly find Magna est veritas et prevalebit.
a way to the poet's fancy." When he
begins seriatim to set out " the imperfecThe “explanatory” treatise is a trea- tions of engraving, and the reason of his tise enlightening us on every imaginable dwelling on those imperfections," we may topic with the exception, as I have said, fairly hope we are on the eve of some of " Pollaplasiasmos; full of the per- discovery, and when he refers to the plexities of an inventor where his art "sarcasms which have been abundantly * happens to have even the appearance bestowed” upon his invention, our curiof clashing with the interest of those who osity is on the alert for some piece of may be employed in professions in any contemporary criticism from which we aspect similar to the new undertaking," may form a guess as to its nature. But and the “undetermined state of mind the hope dies away as we read on and find in which he (Booth) remained for a con- only a string of platitudes about “real siderable time, “not knowing properly grandeur” being something more than a what method he ought to adopt to usher profusion of gold and glitter,” and the his invention into the world with that eye being never more pleased than propriety which is necessary for an art when the mind partakes of the same senentirely new.” After moralizing on the sation.” After wandering off to the hisrelations between capital and genius, the tory of tapestry, Albert Dürer, Hugo de artist is “induced on mature deliberation Carpi, and Mr. Jackson of Battersea (who to throw himself and the product of many has, it appears, all but effected some wonyears' labour at the feet of that impartial derful improvement in paper hangings), public who alone, &c., &c. ;” and accord- he comes to notice the invention of one ingly invites the impartial public to form Le Blond, for printing in colours from a club for the purchase of his "polla- mezzo-tinto plates. “These were cerplasiasmos” paintings. "With respect tainly," he says, “ very good of their kind, to an idea prevailing that the paintings but the great expense attending the prepmust be mere copies, I must observe that aration of the plates, &c., considerably they cannot be termed so with any pro- enhanced the price to purchasers, and priety, especially wh the subjects are though they were much esteemed at that designed on purpose for this work. Per- time, yet they were nothing more than fect coloured pictures will be produced by prints in colours on paper," — from which this manner of painting, though the de- we may fairly enough infer that Booth’s sign is only made in black, or a slight process was something else. His pictures tinted drawing, and the pieces from such were finished with great nicety, and he is sketches will be as exquisitely painted as particularly severe on the “artistic daubs," if the subject was first laboriously finished which he declares have been the origin upon a piece of canvass.” He forestalls of the “ wink of wisdom” connoisseurs very curiously an art critic of some celeb-are forced to give in peeping through rity, who gave reasons why we have no their hands. In connection with artistic more of the works of this' Lost Art, by daubs he tells us of “a person of Birdrawing our attention to the imperisha- mingham ” who "acquired a considerable ble character of the productions of Polla- fortune by indulging a similar mind;" but plasiasmos :-“An entire new system of unless there are circumstances we are not drawing and colouring, which is not sub- acquainted with in the factory at Soho, ject to either change, cracking, peeling, the reference can hardly be to the only or any other inconveniences, which too rival he can have in his own line — the frequently attend even first-rate pictures artist Eginton.