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British matron; it was hers to combine with the chilling etiquette of regal state the winning virtues of private life, and to weave a wreath of domestic virtues, social charities, and beguiling though simple occupations, round the stately majesty of England's throne.
The days are past when it would be either pleasurable or profitable for the Queen of the British empire to spend her days, like Matilda or Katharine, "in poring over the interminable mazes of tapestry;" but it is well known that Queen Adelaide, and, in consequence of her Majesty's example, those around her, habitually occupied their leisure moments in ornamental needlework; and there have been, of late years, few Bazaars throughout the kingdom, for really beneficent purposes, which have not been enriched by the contributions of the Queen Dowager—contributions ever gladly purchased at a high price, not for their intrinsic worth, but because they had been wrought by a hand which every Englishwoman had learnt to respect and love.
"Our Country everywhere is fild
C( For here the needle plies its busy task,
"The great variety of needleworks which the ingenious women of other countries, as well as of our own, have invented, will furnish us with constant and amusing employment; and though our labours may not equal a Mineron's or an Aylesbury's, yet, if they unbend the mind, by fixing its attention on the progress of any elegant or imitative art, they answer the purpose of domestic amusement; and, when the higher duties of our station do not call forth our exertions, we may feel the satisfaction of knowing that we are, at least, innocently employed."
The triumph of modern art in needlework is probably within our own shores, achieved by our own countrywoman,—Miss Linwood. "Miss Linwood's Exhibition" used to be one of the lions of London, and fully deserves to be so now. To women it must always be an interesting sight; and the "nobler gender" cannot but consider it as a curious one, and not unworthy even of their notice as an achievement of art. Many of these pictures are most beautiful; and it is not without great difficulty that you can assure yourself that they are bond fide needlework. Full demonstration, however, is given you by the facility of close approach to some of the pieces. %
Perhaps the most beautiful of the whole collection —a collection consisting of nearly a hundred pieces of all sizes—is the picture of Miss Linwood herself, copied from a painting by Russell, taken in about her nineteenth year. She must have been a beautiful creature; and as to this copy being done with a needle and worsted,—nobody would suppose such a thing. It is a perfect painting. In the catalogue which accompanies these works she refers to her own portrait with the somewhat touching expression, (from Shakspeare,)
"Have I lived thus long"
This lady is now in her eighty-fifth year. Her life has been devoted to the pursuit of which she has given so many beautiful testimonies. She had wrought two or three pieces before she reached her twentieth year; and her last piece, " The Judgment of Cain," which occupied her ten years, was finished in her seventy-fifth year; since when, the failure of her eyesight has put an end to her labours.
The pieces are worked not on canvas, nor, we are
told, on linen, but on some peculiar fabric made purposely for her. Her worsteds have all been dyed under her own superintendence, and it is said the only relief she has ever had in the manual labour was in having an assistant to thread her needles.
Some of the pieces after Gainsborough are admirable; but perhaps Miss Linwood will consider her greatest triumph to be in her copy of Carlo Dolci's "Salvator Mundi," for which she has been offered, and has refused, three thousand guineas.
The style of modern embroidery, now so fashionable, from the Berlin patterns, dates from the commencement of the present century. About the year 3 804 5, a print-seller in Berlin, named Philipson,published the first coloured design, on checked paper, for needlework. In 1810, Madame Wittich, who, being a very accomplished embroideress, perceived the great extension of which this branch of trade was capable, induced her husband, a book and printseller of Berlin, to engage in it with spirit. From that period the trade has gone on rapidly increasing* though within the last six years the progression has been infinitely more rapid than it had previously been, owing to the number of new publishers who have engaged in the trade. By leading houses up to the commencement of the year 1840, there have been no less than fourteen thousand copper-plate designs published.
In the scale of consumption, and, consequently, by a fair inference in the quantity of needlework done, Germany stands first; then Russia, England, France, America, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, &c, the three first names on the list being by far the largest consumers. It is difficult to state with precision the number of persons employed to colour these plates, but a principal manufacturer estimates them as upwards of twelve hundred, chiefly women.
At first these patterns were chiefly copied in silk, then in beads, and lastly in dyed wools; the latter more especially, since the Germans have themselves succeeded in producing those beautiful "Zephyr" yarns known in this country as the " Berlin wools.' These yarns, however, are only dyed in Berlin, being manufactured at Gotha. It is not many years since the Germans drew all their fine woollen yarns from this country: now they are the exporters, and probably will so remain, whatever be the quality of the wool produced in England, until the art of dyeing be as well understood and as scientifically practised.
Of the fourteen thousand Berlin patterns which have been published, scarely one-half are moderately good; and all the best which they have produced latterly are copied from English and French prints. Contemplating the improvement that will probably ere long take place in these patterns, needlework may be said to be yet in its infancy.
The improvement, however, must not be confined to the Berlin designers: the taste of the consumer, the public taste must also advance before needlework shall assume that approximation to art which is so desirable, and not perhaps now, with modern facilities, difficult of attainment. Hitherto the chief anxiety seems to have been to produce a glare of