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SIGHTS OF LONDON.
MEXICAN WONDERS : OR A PEEP INTO THE PICCADILLY MUSEUM ;
BY JACOB GOOSEQUILL. My Dear Sir,
to satisfy my curiosity, without either THE THE Goddess of Curiosity led Co- travelling to Grand Cairo, like the
lumbus by the nose a much Spectator, or making a voyage to the greater way than ever she led a much North Seas, like Captain Parry. This greater fool, viz. myself. Neverthe- power of changing our horizon 'withless, I had enough of his inquisitive out changing our latitude we owe to disposition to draw me, last week, Mr. Bullock; and I sincerely hope from my “bed of asphodel” (in plain he will live long enough to give us a English, my soft bottomed ottoman) view of every thing worth seeing on towards that part of America which the habitable globe, until it may be has just been translated to Piccadilly. said that the whole world has shifted, The importance into which the Mex- piecemeal. through the two great ican empire is now rising seems to rooms in Piccadilly. have been deeply felt and duly weigh Upon entering these chambers, last ed by Mr. Bullock. He has consult- week, I appeared to have left the Old ed his own interest in the public gra- World outside the door ; I had taken tification, and I have no doubt will a “ Trip to Mexico” without even eventually fill his own pockets quite the ceremony of asking Neptune for as full as our heads, by means of his a soft wave, or Eolus for a fair wind; exhibition. Amongst the many non- I had, in fact, stepped from Burlinggratuitous establishments of the same ton-arcade into the middle of Amerikind within the metropolis, Bullock's ca. Every thing was new; nothing Museum, in my mind, certainly holds reminded me of Old England, -save the first place; there is a spirit of and except that I had to pay half-aphilosophy embarked in it which crown for a couple of sixpenny cataraises it far above the standard of a logues, whereby my voyage to Mexicommon exhibition. We are intro- co cost me nearly double what it duced neither to a painted city nor a ought. This forcibly reminded me solitary landscape, to an army of sol- that I could not be very far from diers or a company of wild beasts, to Westminster-abbey, and that Great a giantess or a dwarf, but to the natu- Britain's local deity, Mammon, in the ral world itself, as it exists, or at least shape of a door-keeper, was still close to a fac simile of it, as palpable and at my elbow, picking my pocket. familiar as art can make it. I know However, even Charon expects a penof nothing short of a bonafide dishu- ny for rowing us over the Styx,-and mation of the city of Mexico, and its why should not Mr. Bullock receive suburbs, from their place among the forty times as much for taking us over Andes, carrying with them, at the more than forty times as wide a wasame time, their live and dead stock, ter—the Atlantic Ocean? together with their overhanging fir Upon walking into the upper room, mament and surrounding scenery, which contains the reliques of Ancient which could represent these objects Mexico, I was mightily struck by the so effectually as an exhibition con close resemblance many of them bore structed on the plan of Mr. Bullock’s. to the antiquities of Egypt. There Some time ago I had the pleasure of was a Zodiac of Denderah, under the descending into the Catacombs of title of the Great Kalendar Stone of Egypt in my way to Hyde-park, and Mexico, and otherwise known to the shortly after took a morning's walk to Indians by the name of Montezuma's the Esquimaux, returning in time for Watch. It weighs five tons, and I dinner to my lodgings at St. James'
. cannot belp remarking, that if MonteThus, for a few pence, I was enabled zuma’s breeches pocket was propor
ATHENEUM VOL. 2. 2d series.
tional to his watch, and Montezuma these monstrous types of human vanihimself proportional to his breeches, ty.--At the west end of the same Montezuma must have been a very room (which is fitted up so as to congreat man indeed. In the centre of vey some notion of the Temple of the stone is the Sun, round which the Mexico) is a colossal Rattle-snake, in Seasons are represented in hierogly, the act of swallowing a female victim; phics, outside of which again are the this Idol of the people is confronted
of the eighteen Mexican by another amiable figure, at the eastmonths of twenty days each, making end, representing Teoamiqui
, the godup a year of 368 days. It would ap- dess of war. Her form is partly hupear from this that the Mexicans had man, and the rest divided between made some advances in astronomy, rattle-snake and tiger. The goddess when Cortez and his priests reduced has moreover adorned her charms them by civilization to their primitive with a necklace composed of human state of ignorance. Then there is hearts, hands, and skulls ; and before the statue of an Azteck Princess; the her is placed the great Sacrificial Allady is represented sitting on her feet, tar, on the top of which is a deep her hands rest on her knees, and give groove where the victim was laid by her the appearance of the front of the the priest. This, and many other obEgyptian Sphinx, to which the resem- jects in the room, are sculptured with blance or the head-dress greatly con- a degree of precision and elegance, tributes. A bust of a female in lava the more surprising as the use of iron looks very like the Isis of Old Nile, was unknown to Mexico, when invadwith a crown of turretry on her head. ed by the Spaniards. Canopus, also, the round-bellied divi In the lower room is a panoramic nity of the East, stands here in the view of the city of Modern Mexico, shape of a stone pitcher ; and some with a copious assortment of the anihieroglyphical paintings of the An- mal, vegetable, mineral, and artificial cient Mexicans, on paper of Maguey, productions of that kingdom : the or prepared deer-skin, add considera- aloe, the cactus, the maguey (called bly to the circunstantial evidence af- by Purchass, the “ tree of wonders") forded by the other objects. But the the tunnal or prickly pear tree, the most remarkable proof in support of cacao, the banana, &c.; humming; the hypothesis that the Mexicans and birds as small as humble bees, and Egyptians were formerly but one peo- frogs as big as little children; Spanish ple, is the existence of the pyramids cavaliers in wax, and dolphins of all in the valley of Otunba, about thirty colours but the true ones ; native gold miles from Mexico. One of these is and silver, with many other less athigher than the third of the great py- tractive valuables. But to me the ramids at Ghiza. They are called most interesting object in this collecTeocalli, are surrounded by smaller tion of foreign curiosities, was a living ones, consist of several stories, and specimen of the Mexican Indian, are composed of clay mixed with small Jose Cayetana Ponce de Leon,stones, being encased with a thick whose family name, by the bye, being wall of amygdaloid,just in the man- that of the discoverer of Florida, is ner of the structures at Cairo and Sa. not a little contradictory of his allega harah. Taking the above hypothesis ed Indian descent. He is in the cosas established by these resemblances, tume of his country, has a fine, sun. the much contested question concern- burnt, intelligent countenance, wears ing the purpose for which these artifi- his hair a la mode de sauvage
, down cial mountains were constructed is at in his eyes, and his hat, like a quae once set to rest, by the Mexican tra- ker, on the top of his head. He apdition, which assigns them as the pears sensible, and is very communi mausolea, or burial-places of their an- cative ; several pretty women entered cestors. A miniature pyramid, about into conversation with him while I four feet high, in a corner of a room, was there, and he supported the orgives the spectator a good idea of deal firmly,notwithstanding the bright
ness of their eyes and the swiftness of self, in any or all of these languages. their tongues. If you are fluent in For my part, I can no more”
(as Spanish, Italian, or the vernacular we say in a tragedy) at present. Mexican, go and speak to him your
BIOGRAPHY OF ECCENTRIC CHARACTERS LATELY DECEASED.
WILSON LOWRY, F.R.S.
ON Tuesday the 22d of June, about obliged to meet the public under medi
two o'clock in the morning, died ation, can derive much habitual cheerMr. Wilson Lowry, Fellow of the fulvess from the state of the patronage Royal and Geological Societies, and of his art. However, after the comone of the most eminent engravers in mencement of Dr. Rees’s Cyclopædia, Europe. He entered the sixty-third he had no longer occasion to complain year of his age on the 23d of January of this grossness, his superiority beginlast. Nothing is known of his ances- ning then to be duly appreciated. But try beyond his father, whose baptismal we must return to earlier events, and name was Joseph ; who is believed to earlier developements of the character have been a native of Ireland; and of Wilson Lowry. who, at the time of the birth of Wil Wben a boy at Worcester, he was son, was a portrait-painter, residing in less fond of play, and more so of Whitehaven, scarcely known in the books, than most other boys, recreametropolis.
ting himself occasionally with nutting The proper subject of this memoir and angling. Here he became known, was tall in person, and bore a strong and was favourably noticed, by Mr. family likeness to the portrait of his Ross, a sensible and ingenious man, father, but was somewhat more eagle- but not a very well qualified engraver, browed ; and in the general character from whom Lowry obtained his origand cast of his features, was such a inal, but very slight and imperfect, acmixture of thoughtfulness, with benig. quaintance, with the art in which he afnity, as would have looked well in an terward so much excelled. He is suphistorical picture ; and as did look posed to have been under articles, and well in society,-announcing the en- to have served with Mr. Ross, for the trance of no common man wherever space of three years or so ; but this is Wilson Lowry appeared.
Indeed less certain than is the fact that in there were times and smiling occasions, Worcester, Lowry engraved his first when this benignant expression quite plate, of which the subject, or more beamed from him ; but his biographer properly the occasion and object, was must regret that it was too often cloud- to attract customers to the shop of a ed by the anxieties and disappoint- certain fishmonger of that city. That ments which all men are condemned to important consequences should origin. feel, who exercise any of the liberal ate from trifling beginnings is nothing arts at the dictation of mercenary tra- extraordinary, since were we to retro
for mercenary traders in art are spect far enough, we should probably seldom well informed ; and some were find this to be generally, if not always, so ignorant, when Lowry first put in the case : but still, we should feel the practice that refined mode of engraving same kind of gratification of curiosity, by means of which he terminated arch- or perhaps of a better principle, at a itectural forms, as Nature terminates sight of ihis fishmonger's card, as at her forms, that is to say, without those viewing the first bubbling up of the outlines which may be seen in the spring-head of the Thames, or any works of his predecessors,—as to ar- other river that has flowed on till it be gue with him that he ought to afford his came a port of commerce. The price plates cheaper than others of the pro- for which our juvenile artist agreed to session, since he had not the trouble of engrave it was seven shillings, the engraving outlines. No artist, who is amount of which sum was to be re
ceivable, and was actually received in To the readiness with which he exer, red herrings ! As the waters of the cised this talent, even from an early Severn are neither insalubrious por ex- age, we owe much of the various abilpensive, it seems probable that hones- ity which he manifested; for, with rety, and perseverance, and hope, and a gard to innate genius, he early adopted good youthful appetite, induced him to the salutary, though questionable, thesubsist on these herrings,-unless when ory of Helvetius, which teaches that friendship and perry cheered his pros- no such faculty or gift as genins exists, pects, and gave relief to bis meals and and that all the diversities of human studies—as long as they lasted. In- attainment which we behold, are the deed what else could he have done with result of education ; understanding by red herrings?
that word, not always what preceptors No man has ever, in any mental
intend to teach, or impress on the suit, far outstripped bis fellows, who minds of their pupils, but what those possessed not considerable native ener. pupils really acquire from experience gy of mind. Between the
and their own views of things, whethberty and manhood, when this faculty er designed or not on the part of their is most vigorous, youth are frequently instructors. By this first-rate genius, enterprising, and more or less reckless genius was altogether disclaimed. as to ulterior consequences. From How Lowry came to devote himself some affront conceived, or some hope professionally to an art so ill patronentertained, which cannot now be tra- ised, so ill understood, so publicly disced, our artist left his paternal home, honoured at the English Royal Acadand his employ, if any he had at that emy of Arts, and so unprofitable, untime, at about ihe age of sixteen, with less followed as a trade, as Engraving, an inconsiderable sum in his pocket, -is not known to the present writer and travelling on foot to Warwick, ob- fronı any actual communication with tained a further supply by engaging to himself, or from any other communicaassist Mr. Beavan (a herald painter of tion on which he can place certain rethat town) in painting a castle ; and liance. If a judgment be formed from by means of this addition to his finan- the above circumstances, and they be ces, was enabled to make his way to supposed to have been known at the the metropolis. Here our adventurer time to our artist, necessity must have was probably without friends when he driven him on this course; if from his most needed them, and soon bewilder works, the arts must have had charms ed,—though by what course of acci- to attract him, in spite of the eternal dents he came to fill an inferior station war which he must wage with fortune in the hospital of St. Thomas, is not when thus enlisted. known.
It however gave him an op However these things may have portunity of listening to the lectures been, the present writer first became that were delivered there on medicine acquainted with him when a young and anatomy, and hence he acquired man, residing in the neighbourhood of his taste for, and his rudimental know- Vauxhall, and in the employ, ledge of, Chemistry, and the healing the patronage (as the prostituted phrase arts, in which he always took consider. was) of Alderman Boydell, to whom able interest, and was no mean adept. he is believed to have been introduced He was particularly struck with the by a letter from the good-natured Ross, experiment of freezing mercury, and it of Worcester ; though, according to led him to several results, both theoret- one of his early friends, this introduc ical and practical; for, give him but tion was written by a gentleman of an opportunity of seeing, and he saw Shrewsbury, whose name is unknown. at once, with intuitive perception, much Lowry at the same time derived infurther than most other men into the struction in the art of Etching from his rationale of a subject ; and hence. like neighbour Mr. John Browne, the very Dr. Franklin, he was very adroit in as- ingenious coadjutor of Woollett. For eertaining and mastering the true cause Boydell, in addition to anonymous asof any effect that was set before him. sistance on works not known to his
surviving friends, he engraved three ties of a view down a geometrical large plates ; namely, a varied land- staircase. scape, after Gaspar Poussin ; a rocky It was moreover during this period seaport, after Salvator Rosa, a difficult of probation and rapid improvement, and very meritorious performance for which comprehended several years, so young an artist ; and a view of the that he was used to call,
not upfrequentinterior of the Coalbrook Dale smelt- ly, upon the late Mr. Byrne, the landing-house, after Geo. Robertson ; for scape engraver, for professional advice, which engravings he was very sparing, which he always received with great ly remunerated.
deference and ingenuousness. The It must have been during this peri- spirit of inquiry was then, as has od, that Mr. Surgeon Blizard, who was ever been, strong in him. His converaft-rwards knighted, enquired at Boy- sation abounded with tasteful observadell's for some young artist to make a tion and deep sensibility to the charms drawing for him of Lunardi's balloon, of nature and art. He was ardent and the alderman recommended Low- and communicative, with great suavity ry, who performed the drawing, and of manners; and particularly studious behaved himself in other respects so of improving those manual means of much to the satisfaction of this emi- professional excellence which were in nent and benevolent surgeon, that he ordinary use amongst engravers, in became his friend, gave him a perpetu- which his natural sagacity saw many al ticket of adniission to his own and defects. In other words, he would other surgical lectures, and offered to possess himself of the best mechanical instruct him professionally in the art apparatus, and the best materials of of surgery; and Lowry actually be- engraving, and would then busy himcame so far his pupil as to attend the self in improving on those best, at any hospitals at every interval of leisure expense of time and money that was from his engraving, for four years suc- within his reach or anticipation. cessively.
The abovementioned works, after It was during this period too, that Poussin and Rosa, show that he was he became intimately acquainted with eminently gifted to have excelled as a the elder Malton, author of the elabo- landscape engraver, particularly in the rate folio treatise on Perspective,whose treatment of such scenes as contained work and conversation considerably rocks and ruined edifices, which is furaugmented, if it did not impart, our ther attested by his etchings of Holyartist's passion for the mathematical rood palace, the round tower of Ludsciences. The book, which it has low castle, and the ancient market been said he at first walked twenty-one cross at Malmsbury, all after Hearne, miles to read, induced him to inquire and for the antiquities of Great Britain. out the author ; but it is believed that His style of etching picturesque antihe had previously been a solitary stu- quities, is evidently formed on a keen dent in Euclid. And now he was perception of, and sensibility to, the stimulated to the mastery of algebra, beauties of that of the elder Rooker, perspective, trigonometry, the conic and of the analogies between that style sections; and, in short, all the bigher and its archetypes in nature : but branches of geometrical science. His Boydell, as may be perceived by his friend Landseer was present at Lam- own engravings, and his gross misapbeth, and recollects the time when propriation of subjects to artists, posMalton explained to them both, with sessed too little discernment to perthe river Thames and the reflected sce- ceive these merits ; and hence our artnery on its banks for examples, the ist was induced to contemplate emigradoctrines relating to that angle of inci- tion to America, and to seek other endence which regulates the perspective gagements ; among which he executed of the downward and sideward reflec- some plates (though of no great importions of objects, from luminous bodies : tance) for Johnson of St. Paul's churchand that Lowry himself struck out yard, and Taylor of Holborn ; began some useful bints in solving the difficul- a large one of the Dublin parliament