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take, in good hope of success, to illustrate my author's ideas by precisely the same pictorial renderings of them as he would himself have selected had such a method of enhancing the attractions of a book been fashionable in his day. And this assertion, presumptuous as it may appear to the uninitiated, may be substantiated with little difficulty. All persons conversant with ancient art are aware that engraved gems filled exactly the same place in the Roman world as prints on paper do in the modern: all subjects,
“Quidquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas," being embodied in their medium, and by means of impressions, circulated all over the empire. No theme was too high or too low for their scope, the profoundest mysteries of religion, and the broadest caricature, imperial majesty and the puffs of a quack-doctor, with every other expression of the various feelings of our nature, claimed gems for their exponents.
The resources therefore of the glyptic art are of all others the most unfailing, when accessible in all their fulness, to him that seeks after such remains of antiquity as throw light upon ancient customs and modes of thought. Gems comprehend within their proper domain the subjects of all the other branches of creative art, statuary, painting, numismatics; nay, go far beyond them all in what relates to religious usages, portraiture, domestic life, and the creations of fancy and of humour. And, for my special purpose, their representations of all such objects possess the inestimable advantage of being already reduced, and presented to the eye in the form sanctioned beforehand by antique taste as the best adapted for the embellishment of the printed page.
Gems moreover have a peculiar claim to be enlisted in the service of that poet, who was the favourite and intimate friend
quem vocas “dilecte" Mæcenas'
of one, himself the most enthusiastic amateur in them, and the
warmest patron of gem-engravers. Horace, doubtless, had
, often been called upon to admire each fresh addition to the cabinet of his Etruscan benefactor, and discussed with him its beauties as they reclined “sub arta vite at his Sabine farm, whilst the invalid statesman ‘smoothed his care-worn brow' in cheerful converse with the bard. Perhaps the latter caught from such a sight many a bright and joyous thought now enshrined in his verse; nay more, the unfading immortality of these vehicles of art tempts one to indulge the pleasing illusion, truly an 'amabilis insania,' that amongst the numerous intagli decorating these pages, some one or two may actually have charmed the eye and stimulated the imagination of the tasteful poet.
The main principle directing my choice amongst the immense store of such materials placed at my disposal by the kind assistance of many eminent amateurs (whom I now thank for their essential services in furthering my object) has been to consult the interests of archæology no less than those of fancy and the muse.
With this view historic portraits and memorials of important events were the primary object of my researches, and have been introduced as extensively as my success permitted; and this, indeed, has so far exceeded my first expectations as to render my ancient portrait gallery unusually complete. But, from the very nature of the art supplying my materials, by far the larger part fall within the province of mythology, a branch of classical study on which, if critically examined, they throw the clearest light. It has therefore been my endeavour to make the most of their assistance in this particular by the largest possible variety in the choice of subjects, and by bringing together all the different types that set forth the same religious idea in the various phases of its development. For this purpose my collection will offer the gods and heroes of Greece and Italy, imaged forth in every successive style from the solemn grotesqueness of Pelasgic and Etruscan art (whence much has here been drawn, it being a rich mine as yet almost unexplored for such a purpose) through the pure and perfect forms of mature Hellenic schools down to the flowing and languid elegance of the commencing Decline. In this way the present series of designs will serve as a guide to the student of ancient creative art, as well as to the investigator of ancient fable; furnishing precisely the same information on these heads (but far more copiously and correctly) as does Spence's “Polymetis," an obsolete book, but the only one of its kind in our language: or even the much more recent and better executed “Galérie Mythologique" of Millin. The examples here offered of the forms under which the invisible things of antiquity were embodied, are in point of number equal to those presented in the above-named publications, whilst, as regards fidelity to their originals and artistic merit in execution, every one with the slightest knowledge of drawing will at once recognise their immense superiority over all previous attempts of the kind. The capabilities of that peculiarly English art, wood engraving, when seconded by the skill and taste of a draughtsman experienced in this very peculiar style of work, such as I have had the good fortune to secure for the present undertaking, have a great advantage over the previous method of copper-plate engraving in reproducing on paper the actual effect of glyptic work, whether in cameo or intaglio. There is a certain harshness of outline inseparable from the other process that is peculiarly objectionable when one wishes to render in the print the softly moulded contours of Grecian work in gems.
But to return to the character of these illustrations : to select those relating to the historical and mythological allusions of my author was comparatively an easy task, the sole limit being the possibility of discovering amongst my available means the exact subjects required, or, sometimes, the uncertainty of their attribution. But something more, and of great importance, yet remained—the grand criterion of ingenuity and good taste in a task like this. Many of the poems presented no salient point connected with either history or fable ; therefore making it the business of the illustrator to seek out some graceful creation of the glyptic artist's fancy that shall image forth the predominant thought of the whole piece with an easily recognizable allusiveness. Pine, in most cases, evaded the difficulty by inventing, and not very happily, designs of his own to tell the story required ; I, on the other hand, have honestly and courageously faced it, and lavished over my pages a wealth of picturesque and symbolical compositions whose beauty and instructiveness will, it is hoped, obtain indulgence for the straining some few amongst them will have to endure from the reader's ingenuity before they fit the sense they at least embellish, if not illustrate.
It remains for me to indicate the chief sources which have furnished means in abundance, whether well or ill employed, of carrying out a long-cherished scheme; means which used aright are charms that enable the skilful necromancer to call up the beauteous spectres of the classic Past, and bring back the Augustan poet to this world of ours, surrounded and irradiated by the actual forms and ideas amongst whom he lived. The gem-cabinet of the British Museum, elevated at last to a worthy status amongst the others of Europe by its recent acquisitions, more especially that of the magnificent Blacas Collection, has been largely laid under contribution by me on this occasion, chiefly on account of its easy accessibility to all lovers of the study, thanks to the enlightened policy and skilful arrangements of the directors of that department. It is to be hoped that my now bringing a few samples of its richness before the public eye may direct the attention of men of taste towards the remaining treasures in the Museum cases, especially as they can at last be studied there with so much facility and pleasure. Another quarter whence great assistance has been derived is the “Impronte Gemmarie," a collection of six hundred casts from gems unpublished previously to the year 1831, and selected for either beauty of work or interest of subjects; brought out by Cades, under the superintendence of the Instituto Archeologico of Rome. Two reasons have induced me to employ this series as largely as possible —its great variety in subjects that in so many instances exactly met my requirements; and the genuine antiquity of the works themselves, stamped as it is with the warranty of the best judges upon that point anywhere to be found. The circumstance, also, that many of the originals have in the interval since their first publication come into the possession of English amateurs, owing to the sale in London of the cabinets then containing them (as notably that of Dr. Nott), was a further inducement, since they now possess a peculiar interest as fresh additions to the treasures of art accumulated in this country; and, what is still more to the present purpose, have not become hackneyed by frequent publication, like the long-celebrated masterpieces of the Italian and French cabinets. The Beverley Gems, which had during half a century vanished from the knowledge of all interested in such matters (being supposed to have been purchased in their entirety by Catharine II. for incorporation into the huge collection at the Hermitage), have recently been exhumed from the banker’s vaults which so long concealed them, and thrown open to me for minute examination by the kindness of the present owner, grandson to the noble founder of the cabinet. Happily proving of a character more than justifying the high reputation they enjoyed before lost to the world, they have enriched my series with many subjects equally appropriate and interesting, and such as otherwise I had sought for in vain. The grand Continental cabinets (notably of Paris and Berlin), have also, it will be seen, contributed many well-known works, but which have never before received full justice at the hands of their publishers. And, finally, many small private collections in this country, obligingly communicated to me, have, upon investigation, been found to yield much that was valuable for my purpose, and to be furnished by them alone. But I cannot conclude this account of the principles of my plan, and of the sources for carrying it out, without gratefully acknowledging how materially my work has been forwarded by the assistance