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is easily comprehended. It may be justly doubted whether the gorgeous exhibition of the King's arms is quite so applicable, which many show off in all the magnificence of painting, gilding, and heraldry, merely because they happen at some time or other to have furnished some one member of the Royal Family with a pair of gloves or a wax candle.
However, all the above-mentioned devices, although they may be more exactly adapted for the purpose of illustration, certainly fall far short of the majesty and the dignity of those greater and nobler ones in former times. 'Nothing more clearly shows the superior taste of Mr. Smith, perfumer, (with due deference do I say it, to Messrs. Delcroix, Rigge, and others, than that he has dared, amid the general defection of his neighbours, to retain that correct and illustrious monument of his house, the civet cat; and indeed I seriously recommend to his namesake, Mr. John Smith, of Etonian celebrity, that, to adorn the front or rather roof of his shop, elegant as it already is, he procure a faithful representation of the same odoriferous animal.
More I dare say there may be who have firmly withstood the tide of general custom, whom I should be happy to mention with equal honour; but to return to my subject, the real amateur of signs must seek them in their legitimate and now almost only place, where they have lived, and still live in all their pristine glory, before houses of hospitality. Now I am not very particular whether these be represented on wood or on tin; whether they be carved or cast;—but one thing I greatly grieve and strongly protest against, namely, the substitution of a name in mere letters. What are those people to do, poor souls, who cannot put syllables together, if any there be such, who, on being recommended to take a drop at the King's Head, upon their arrival at the imagined place, find, in lieu of the Royal Portrait, a board scribbled over with unintelligible characters? What is to become of that useful, that respectable, that skilful, that much-vilified body of men, the sign-painters, if their talents are not encouraged, and their performances, undeservedly called vulgar daubs, are not exposed to public admiration? For their vindication from the common censure, I shall merely say that one of the great Italian masters first employed his brush in touching a sign; and indeed this much-despised profession must be considered as a great nursery for genius. I cannot help thinking that sign-painters have conferred considerable celebrity upon some persons, which they never would have had otherwise-or at least of so long a duration. Who would ever think of the Marquis of Granby, unless his features, as well as his name, had been rescued from oblivion by the diligence and art of sign-painters ? Who would have heard of Bishop Blaize, of the Golden Farmer, and many other worthies of local interest, unless their fame had
been perpetuated by the same means? These unfortunate artists are so far from receiving any thanks for their manifest services, that they are even blamed for not preserving likenesses more exactly It is generally understood to be extremely difficult for any painter to please the person whose likeness he takes. What then must be the hardship which these performers labour under, when they are obliged to give satisfaction perhaps to some thousands of eyes which may see the identical work at different times? No wonder that they should sometimes take the favourable side, and perhaps flatter a little too much. How much better it is that town's-people and villagers should believe Lord Nelson to have been a jolly, brave-looking tar, as they view him represented, than that truth should be too much studied, and that they should know his hollow weather-beaten visage, his lank hair, and unprepossessing appearance, all of which things, no doubt, would diminish their respect for him? Perhaps they would not like the Duke of Wellington quite so well, did they know his Grace's real and natural appear
It would be easy to mention a thousand more examples of great men, such as our late revered Monarch, and many other Kings in the English history, whose looks have not suffered at all by being entrusted to the taste of a sign-painter."
The humours and fancies of innkeepers in the choice of their emblems have been so different, that, passing over the human heads, the red and white lions, the black and white swans, in fact, the “alituum pecudumque genus," it would be a matter of endless Jabour. But it really is very much to be desired that some accurate and scientific observer would particularise the most uncommon ones, and investigate their origin and etymology, in fact, that he should compose a regular Treatise on Signs. In the course of this, he might give some very salutary instructions to landlords respecting the size and arrangement of them -whether they are better affixed to the side of the house, or swinging upon a good oak post;-whether they should rather be surmounted with a merry young Bacchus, or with a bunch of grapes ;-and, in fine, what mask is the most alluring and most irresistible." I perfectly well remember the little inn, where, under the words “ The Crooked Billet,” a little piece of wood was displayed, twisted in the most fantastic manner; and another, known by a great gilt raven, before which a bird of that species hops about, perpetually croaking the sweetest notes of invitation. Luckily the people there are not superstitious; or, perhaps, much to the detriment of the host, they might think the place ominous.
The author of the work I propose can never be in want of materials; he will be able also to enliven his histories with the most agreeable reminiscences. How he may dilate over the Shakspeare's Head, or the Mitre Tavern, where Johnson and his Club
used to hold their meetings! If he is inclined for satire and invective, where will he find a finer field than in declaiming against those berds of thieves and profligates, who make the Sign-post their refuge, their banner, and their rendezvous ? If he be desirous of moralizing, he may talk, in two or three groans, about the increase of intemperance. Finally, if he be a "good Fellow," he may drink now and then a glass of beer at some of the neatest taps, to refresh him during his tedious and personal researches, and he will write most lustily against Hotels, Cafés, and, in fact, all places of hospitality which disdain the ancient and honourable ornaments of a Sign.
Julio, while Fancy's tints adorn
Count o'er the friends, whom erst you knew
view, Shall be a source of good to you.
With mincing gait, and foreign air,
And such is Fashion's empty fame-
Squire Robert is of age to-day."
The bumpkins hurry to the Bell,
In concert horrible, deolare
Right justly may the youthful squire These transports in his slaves inspire; At every fireside through the place He's welcome as the curate's grace; He tells his story, cracks his joke, And drinks his ale, “ like other folk;" Fearless he risks that cranium thick, At cudgelling and singlestick; And then his stud.—Why! far and wide It is the county's ehiefest pride! Ah ! had his steed no firmer brains Than the mere thing that holds the reins, :) Grief soon would bid the beer to run Because the squire's mad race was done, Not less than now it froths away, Because " the squire's of age to-day."
Far different pomp inspir'd of old