LINES WRITTEN ON SEEING A DAGUERREOTYPE
BY MISS ELIZABETH SHERIDAN CAREY.
|"To the artist and true connoisseur, the mere vehicle employed will be a matter of little importance, and he will be delighted with whatever is excellent of its kind."D.C. Read. Preface to the Catalogue of his Etchings.|
Wondrous it is! Form, face, and air,
Dress, attitude, are pictured there!
Nay, pictured notwhy prate of Art
Where Nature, only, plays the part?
No gifted touch could this excel;
No pencil breathe so sweet a spell!
Not Reynolds, in his "noon of fame,"
Could put this magic head to shame,
Nor with the splendour of his hues,
O'er canvas, worthier traits diffuse;
Not Lawrence, with his suasive line,
His pearly shades, and soft carmine;
Not Hayter, who, with wizard hand,
Limns forth the "Layde of the Land,"
And shows how fair, how all serene,
In sov'reign beauty shines a Queen;
Not one with chalk, and ductile oil,
And varied tints, and patient toil,
Back'd by the love of ancient schools,
Their hints, their practice, sleight, and
Could in veracity surpass(1)
A portrait truer than the glass.
Here is no feature half awry,
Most marvellous! So soft, so true!
Oh! Hence-immortaliz'd Daguerre
And view, disgusted, crude outline|
Vile colour, attitude, design
With bold pretence assume the place
Of beauty, intellect, and grace:(4)
Whoe'er, in short, seeks life and truth,
In health or sickness, age or youth,
And need not beg "some pow'r to gie 'em
To see themselves as other see 'em"
Will to the sunny roof repair,
And start to find their shadow there;
But wither'd beau, and wrinkled belle,
Whose mirrors fatal tidings tell;
Who fret and fume, and peak and pine
O'er youth and beauty's long decline,
And ban the glass that e'er declares
Their shrunken mien and silver hairs
Those tott'ring knights and ancient dames
Who still aspire to kindle flames,
And dream of love and Cupid's darts,
And Hymen's bonds, and bleeding hearts,
And think it very hard to show 'em
As all the world has chanced to know'em;
And they, though young, of homely air,
Who die to be esteem'd most fair,
Who, closely wrapt in self-conceit,
Believe themselves perfection sweet,
And loathe the pictures that disclose
Not tints of lily and of rose,
Nor in the false, obsequious line
Make Venus or Adonis shine
Of fop, and fool, and sere old maid,
Of truth's unflatt'ring forms afraid,
Hope not the patronage, Daguerre.
With them thy art is foul, not fair,
"Mere trick!" and "stuff!" and "imposition!"
"Unfit for any exhibition!"
"Black, dirty daubs!" "Faugh! Coarse and
"Old, ugly things that never smile!"
And "why the Good Queen Dowager
Should mount to Claudet's studio,
And Louis Philippe come to err
So much as to the Baron go.
They cannot for their lives declare!"
So hate ye, BEARD, CLAUDET, DAGUERRE.(5)
Take back the picture now, Lucrece
|E. S. C.|
| Our engraving represents the photographic process at Mr. Beard's
establishment, Parliament-street, Westminster.
(1) Nothing can be further from my intention than to decry the brilliant productions of these masters, or to snatch from painting the highest honours awarded to it by its most ardent admirersamong who I desire to be ranked; I refer only to that unerring accuracy of resemblance which, unattainable by the pencil, renders the Daguerreotype invaluable in portraiture.
|(End of text. Please refer to our textnote regarding this text.)
(Transcriber's note: Original symbols used for footnotes have been revised to numbers. The poem is accompanied by a wood engraving illustration taken from the daguerreotype of Jabez Hogg making a portrait in Richard Beard's studio. The transcriber notes that the original daguerreotype is reproduced in Stephen Richter "The Art of the Daguerreotype" [London: Viking, 1989].)