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CHAPTER XXXIX

THE AUTHOR'S ART

THE following are a few of over a thousand newspaper comments and letters upon the author's skill in the various departments of his art. They are given here merely as proofs that our readers may rely upon the accuracy of the representation of the "De Witt Clinton " engine, cars, and passengers which accompanies our work, and appears in simple black outline.

(From the Albany Argus, August, 1831.)

"Decidedly the best thing we have seen for many a day we met with yesterday in dropping into the rooms of Mr. William H. Brown the artist on State street. He has taken some of the best likenesses of a number of our citizens in his peculiar styles, namely, cut out of back paper with a pair of common scissors. The one of our old and esteemed neighbors Jay Gould, is decidedly the most striking picture we have ever looked upon. The facility and correctness with which Mr. Brown takes these likenesses are really astonishing.

"We recognized also, at a single glance others as natural as life itself. For instance, the venerable penny postman, Billy Winne, Jerry Jewell, Mr. Alexander, little Chapman, the dwarf, Mr. Carter, of the Clinton, John J. Quackenbush, ex-Governor Meigs, Thurlow Weed, General Root, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Van Zant, and a host of others and, what is the most astonishing feature about them, they were all taken from memory. These individuals were pointed out to Mr. Brown upon the street as well-known characters in our city, and, after several hours were transferred by his magic scissors upon paper, if not quite as large as life, at least twice as natural."

(From The Albany Evening Journal)

"Our friend Mr. William H. Brown, the inimitable artist has fairly taken the Patronage of our citizens by storm. From morn to night his rooms are besieged by anxious applicants, awaiting their chance for the operation of his magic scissors. For every one accommodated three stand ready as successors. We are gratified at the result of Mr. Brown's visit among us, not more for the encouragement extended to superlative skill than the satisfaction of witnessing individual worth so highly appreciated. He has recently taken in one large picture the entire Burgess's Corps with staff and band in full Parade, in which the likeness of each individual member is presented with an accuracy truly surprising, and stamps Mr. Brown as a perfect master of his profession. Those who have not seen his portraitures should embrace the earliest opportunity as he remains, we regret to say, but one week longer, his departure for that time being deferred for the purpose of taking the likenesses of Engine Company No. 2. The courteous and cheerful deportment of Mr. Brown toward his visitors renders a visit to his rooms most agreeable and instructive."

(From the St. Louis bulletin.)

"Great Doings at Brown's.—This wonderful artist—yes, we will out with it—the immortal brown has just completed the most splendid thing in his line that was ever seen in this city. It is nothing less than a profile likeness of the St. Louis engine, the two hose-carriages, and sixty-five members of that valiant and invincible corps. The members are all in the uniform of the company, forty attached to the drag-ropes of the engine, thirteen to the ropes of one hose-carriage and twelve to the other. We will take the liberty of styling it a panoramic view of the St. Louis Fire Company, and we are compelled to say that in this kind of panorama all other artists must bow in humble submission before the scissors and the skill of the unequaled Brown. This method of styling it will not be deemed inappropriate when we tell you that the whole picture occupies a space of twenty-five feet in length. The representation of the engine is beautiful indeed, and true to the very letter, and is all the work of a pair of small scissors and black paper. On the opposite side of the artist's room may be seen another specimen of his skill in a second picture of the same kind, representing the Missouri Fire Company, with her engine, hose-carriage, and tender, with fifty-nine men in all. The company are represented in their winter costume as returning from a fire or drill, the whole picture presenting a fine and novel appearance, and are perfect and characteristic likenesses. The two pictures are intended as decorations for their several engine houses."

ARMORY NATCHEZ FENCIBLES.

"At a called meeting of the Natchez Fencibles, held at their armory on Thursday evening, June 13,1844, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

"1. Resolved, That the thanks of this company be tendered to Mr. William H. Brown for the admirable picture of this corps, just completed by him, which, in all its details, fully sustains the high artistic reputation of Mr. Brown, and has won the undivided admiration of the members of the Natchez Fencibles.

"2. Resolved, That the foregoing resolution be published in the "'Daily Courier.'"

" LEVI S. HARRISON,
Secretary Natchez Fencibles."
WASHlNGTON, September 20, 1843.

"WILLIAM H. BROWN, Esq.—

"MY DEAR SIR: Yours, postmarked Philadelphia, 1st September, addressed to me at Appomatax Court-House, Virginia, I found on my arrival here last evening. I am under very many obligations to you for not publishing or printing the letter referred to by you without giving me the opportunity which you have so kindly done to correct its many imperfections. I do not desire it to be published while it contains a single hard word or thought of any human being. I never have deliberately and wantonly wounded a fellow-being, though I have often done so, sometimes from a sense of duty and sometimes impetuously. Even if I were inclined to lash any one for 'lashing's' sake, I do not think your intended volume would be the proper place for it. I do not prize my fame for the faculty of saying severe things very highly; and he who is gifted with the power and constrained by the necessity of saying harsh things, or even of speaking out his mind and feelings strongly, however honestly, in this world, is not apt to be blessed with the mild judgments of men himself. I trust now that, having passed the profile stage of life, and got into the author's line, you can look at the world full-face. I have often seen and admired your productions and the wonderful faculty of fixing the resemblance of men on paper with the aid of your scissors and black paper only. I have never failed to recognize a striking likeness to the original in all I have seen even of the most casual acquaintance.

"With thanks for your kindness, and the flattering notice you propose to take of my humble self, I am,

"Gratefully yours,
"HENRY A. DEVINE."
" Lindenwald, September 20, 1843."

William H. BROWN, ESQ.—

"DEAR SIR: It affords me much satisfaction to embrace the opportunity you have presented me, to express the very favorable opinion I entertain of your skill in your peculiar style of profile cutting; and with my best wishes for your success in your forthcoming work.

Very truly yours,
M. VAN BUREN."
"WASHINGTON: January 18, 1845.

"WILLIAM H. BROWN, ESQ.—

DEAR SIR: I take pleasure in bearing testimony to your great aptitude in taking likenesses in your way, and the fidelity with which they are executed. I wish you great success in the work you are about to publish, and do not doubt but that you will make it worthy of public patronage. With great respect, " I am, etc.,

"J.C. CALHOUN"
"WASHINGTON CITY January 13, l843.

" WILLIAM H. BROWN, Esq.—

"MY DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 3d instant is before me, and in reply I will say that the likenesses of the members of Congress and other public men of the times, taken by you in your peculiar and characteristic style, are remarkably correct, and easily recognized at a glance." My friends unite in saying that the one you took of myself is a striking likeness. I cannot, however, see its resemblance to the original as I do in all the others. It is an old and very true saying, 'that if we could see ourselves as others see us,' etc.

"I wish you great success in your contemplated work. It cannot otherwise than prove acceptable to the public, who feel an interest in the records of men who have devoted their best faculties to their country's service, which your 'Portrait Gallery' will exhibit. With great respect,

"Yours truly,
"DANIEL WEBSTER."
"LEXINGTON, KY., October 13, 1843.

"WILLIAM H. BROWN, ESQ.—

"DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 2d instant is received. I well remember your collection of the likenesses of our public men, members of Congress, the Cabinet, and other officials in and about Washington City, and I will say that I was particularly struck with their truthfulness. That of the Hon. John Randolph, of Roanoke, is the very perfection of your art. I shall not soon forget the amusement you afforded the visitors at the Blue Lick Springs last summer, by your delineation's of many of them in your peculiar and characteristic style of portraiture, unequaled by any other artist in that way I have ever seen.

"The work you propose to publish will, no doubt, be an interesting acquisition to the reading public, and I request you here to put my name down in the list of your subscribers for a copy as soon as it is ready for distribution. With great respect, I remain,

"Yours truly,"
Henry Clay."

The foregoing letters are in allusion to a "Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Public Men," published by the author a few years after. They are referred to in this work merely as further evidences of the author's skill in his peculiar art of sketching in black paper outline or profile, that our readers may rely upon the correctness of the representation of the "De Witt Clinton" and train, which we insert.


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