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Elward BIRD was born at Wolverhampton, on the 12th day of April, 1772. His father, a clothier by trade, was a man of sense and information, and gave him a fair education. His mother watched over him—for he was a weakly child—with the most anxious solicitude. When very young—the family tradition says three or four years old—he began to sketch. He would stand on a stool, chalk outlines on the furniture, and say, with childish glee, as he eyed his labours, “Well done, little Neddy Bird!”. He would be up with the dawn to draw figures upon the walls, wheh he called French and English soldiers, and was continually in disgrace with the servant maids of his father's house, who had to make use of their mops and scrubbing-brushes after those early risings. He was privately encouraged in these pursuits by his eldest sister, now Mrs. Baker; his first box of colours was purchased with her pocket-money —long hoarded for that purpose: and after he had risen to distinction, “Sarah,” he would sometimes say, “I must thank you for my being an artist.” Nor were his talents in those childish days unfelt by his father; but remote from collections of paintings, unacquainted with the fame they bring, and their influence with the world, the worthy clothier never thought of his son becoming a painter by profession, and regarded it as at best a pleasing but unprofitable calling. His first attempt worthy of notice dates in his fourteenth year—this was the imaginary interview between the Earl of Leicester, and the daughters whom Miss Lee has conferred on Mary Queen of Scots, in her novel of “The Recess.” It is now in the house of the artist's widow. When his father saw that his love of drawing and sketching was incurable, he began to grow anxious to turn it to some account, but could think of nothing better than apprenticing him to a maker of tea-trays—these accordingly it became the boy's business to ornament and embellish. Birmingham then, as now, sent over the world many productions of domestic usefulness, which require not only skill of hand, but good taste and some fancy. On such things Bird first tried his pencil, and was soon distinguished above his fellow workmen for the neatness and beauty of his embellishments. Of this there is strong proof: long after, when his name was in the ranks of acknowledged genius, he was on a tour in France with several companions, and at Boulogne drank tea off a beautiful tray which excited their notice and praise. Bird looked at it and smiled; when they had recommenced their journey, one of his friends said, “I did not think they could have made such trays in France.” “It was not made here,” said Bird, “it was made in Birmingham, for I painted it.” One of the party was with difficulty restrained from turning back and buy

ing it. Works of this nature, however, are, in a great measure, produced by a kind of mechanical process, in which genius claims little share. The daily reproduction of the same shapes and the same ornaments is but a wearisome task. To dedicate the golden hours of his life to gather wealth for the benefit of some manufacturer, was the original curse of Bird's condition, and he no sooner had the sense to perceive this, than he found courage necessary for setting himself free. When his indentures expired, very advantageous offers were made to induce him to continue with the “trade:” but he refused them all, and, probably without any defined plan of conduct for future life, resigned a connexion which, with talents infinitely below his, many could have made highly lucrative. Bird had long felt that yearning after distinc tion which genius ever feels; he had improved his knowledge in the nature and use of colours; his eye was already familiar with the human form, and his mind stored with those images of social humour and fire-side affection in which his strength lay. Of nature as he felt it, and of manners and passions, he had produced many sketches with the pencil—some he had tried to make permanent in oil; and his confidence was daily increasing with his skill. It was to the advantage of his art that he was thus self-instructed—for his genius was not of that powerful and self-relying order which gains much and loses nothing in the lecture-room, and the mechanical workshop attached to academies. The routine of a regular education in art would probably have tamed down the gentle fire with which nature had endowed his bosom to a very insignificant spark. - -Though Bird listened to the call of ambition, he was a wise and prudent man, and obeyed it but in part. He relinquished all connection with Birmingham and her teaboards, and, removing to Bristol, commenced a drawing-school. During the intervals of instruction, he sketched, designed, and painted, with all his early ardour, and with success such as follows patient self-discipline. He by and by thought so well of his works, that he ventured to show some of them to his friends, and amongst others to Mr. Murphy, an artist of taste and feeling, who liked them so much that he advised their being exhibited. To this Bird was averse for some time, but he at last consented to send two to the Bath Exhibition. It was necessary that a price should be named ; the painter wrote down ten guineas each: his friend, with a better sense of their merit, wrote down thirty; and they found ready purchasers. This was in 1807, when Bird was in his thirty-fifth year. His sketch-books, says Mr. Murphy, were at that time filled with subjects fit to expand into paintings, and contained scenes of all kinds, serious and comic. They were marked by an original spirit, and showed a natural skill in grouping. The Interior of a Volunteer's Cottage was the subject of one of his works; and Clowns dancing in an Ale


house another. The threats of a French invasion had

“ Brought the freeman's arm to aid the freeman's laws.”

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