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whilst the painter was not looking at him, totally to change his countenance and expression, when the poor painter patiently worked on to alter the picture and make it like what he then saw; and when Garrick perceived that it was thus altered, he seized another opportunity, and changed his countenance to a third character, which, when the poor tantalized artist perceived, he, in a great rage, threw down his pallet and pencils on the floor, saying, he believed he was painting from the devil, and would do no more to the picture.' pp. 58, 59.
Sir J., it seems, had once intended to have painted a picture of this kind-Garrick, in his natural appearance in the front, and about him figures representing him in all his capital characters. The picture, however, was never began, which, Mr. N. says, 'is much to be regretted.' We cannot join with him in this what Sir Joshua might have made of any thing, it becomes not us to say; but we think the subject a very unpromissing one; how were the figures to be grouped and connected? There was a picture (something of this kind) in the last exhibition, done, if we recollect right, by Stothard; it represented almost all the principal characters of Shake
Of all the literary men of the time, Goldsmith's character is the most whimsical and amusing. His kind-heartedness must have made him universally beloved, but his ridiculous vanity must effectually have precluded all respect. The man whom we laugh at we cannot venerate. That a man should not hear the praises of a rival in his own art with very grateful ears we are afraid is too natural; and hence the disagreement between two of a trade' that the old proverb speaks of; but Goldsmith would have monopolized all praise; he could not bear that any body but himself should occupy the minds and mouths of the company. Sir Joshua used to say, that he considered public notoriety, or fame, as one great parcel, to the whole of which he laid claim, and whoever partook of any part of it, whether dancer, singer, slight of hand man, or 'tumbler, deprived him of his right, and drew off the attention of the world from himself, and which he was striving to gain. Rather than any body else should engross the conversation, he would talk of what he knew nothing about. At one time he strutted about, and childishly displayed his new clothes, and talked of his taylor and his bloom-coloured coat; at another, he gave out that his brother was dean of Durham. How often his excessive vanity must have ministered to his own mortification is sufficiently evident. At one time, having been to see the Fantoccini, and being very much piqued by the praises thrown away upon the puppets for their
agility in leaping, he cried out angrily Pshaw, I could do it better myself,' and actually broke his shins in the experiment. At another time, as Boswell relates, when talking in a company with fluent vivacity, and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of all who were present; a German, who sat next him, and observed Johnson rolling himself, as if about to speak, suddenly stopped him, saying, 'Stay, Stay, Toctor Shonson is going to say something! One summer he accompanied some very beautiful women into France and Flanders; but even their praises he could not hear with an unwounded ear."
• On their entering a town, I think Antwerp, the populace surrounded the door of the hotel at which they alighted, and testified a desire to see those beautiful young women; and the ladies, willing to gratify them, came into a balcony at the front of the house, and Goldsmith with them; but perceiving that it was not himself who was the object of admiration, he presently withdrew, with evident signs of mortification, saying, as he went out, "There are places where I am the object of admiration also." p. 154.
Notwithstanding all this, Sir J. has said, that he has frequently seen the whole company struck with an awful silence at the entrance of Goldsmith, but that Goldsmith has quickly dispelled the charm, by his boyish and social manners, and he then has soon become the plaything and favourite of the company.'
Mr. N. has preserved the opinion of Burke on Gibbon's style, and it agrees so nearly with our own, that we are glad to give it to our readers. Conversing with Sir Joshua on the Decline and Fall he said, he had just then been reading it, that he disliked the style of writing, that it was very affected, mere frippery and tinsel.'
Before finishing with the anecdotes of this volume, we cannot help mentioning a very singular piece of criticism of the late Fox's.
The illustrious Charles Fox, conversing once with Sir Joshua Reynolds on the merits and demerits of Shakespeare, said it was his opinion that Shakespeare's credit would have stood higher if he had never written the play of Hamlet.
• This Anecdote was told me by Sir Joshua himself.' p. 343.
What! if we had never been harrowed with fear and wonder' in the ghost-scene, if we had lost the description of melancholy, and the reflections by the grave of Ophelia,Shakespeare's reputation would have stood higher? This strange opinion, we think, could only have arisen from a consideration of Hamlet's own character,-mysterious, unintelligible, and, in our opinion, imperfectly developed. Shakespeare seems by no means to have made of Hamlet what
he had originally intended. He counterfeits madness apparently to no end, and recovers from it we know not how or why. If the madness is put upon him by his poet, for the sake of his killing Polonius, and driving Ophelia out of her wits, and thus bringing on the catastrophe of the play, some plausible reason at least should have been feigned for the conduct of Hamlet,--but there is none. But what is the use of criticising Hamlet, or any one of Shakespeare's plays, to find out whether or not his reputation would have stood higher, if he had not written it? Did ever any one begin the play without being drawn to the end? Did ever any one stop to criticise it as he was reading? There, we think, is the test of dramatic merit.
But it is time that we return to the biography of Reynolds. He was now settled in the metropolis, and his fame and fortune were both rapidly increasing. His first price was twelve guineas a head, which was successively raised to twenty, twenty-five, thirty-five, fifty guineas a head, whole and half-lengths in proportion.
In 1768 a plan was drawn up for the Royal Academy, and annual exhibition of pictures: Doctor Johnson was appointed professor of ancient literature,' and Goldsmith professor of ancient history.' These distinctions were merely honorary, and Goldsmith whimsically observed of his ;'there is no salary annexed; and I took it, rather as a compliment to the Institution, than any benefit to myself. Honours to one in my situation are something like ruffles to a man that wants a shirt.' Reynolds was elected president, and knighted on the occasion. He received the honour with satisfaction;' his friends were gratified;' and Johnson acknowledged that for years he had not tasted wine, until he was induced to break through his rule of abstemiousness in order to celebrate his friend's elevation.' The discourses formed no part of his prescribed duties, they were his own choice. But while in one sense,' says he in the fifteenth discourse,
'I may be considered as a volunteer, in another view it seems as ' if I was involuntarily pressed into this service. If prizes were to be 'given, it appeared not only proper, but almost indispensably necessary, that something should be said by the President on the delivery of those prizes: and the President for his own credit would wish 'to say something more than mere words of compliment, which, by being frequently repeated, would soon become flat and uninteresting, ' and by being uttered to many, would at last become a distinction to none I thought, therefore, if I were to preface this compliment 'with some instructive observations on the Art, when we crowned
'merit in the Artists whom we rewarded, I might do something to 'animate and guide them in their future attempts.' Vol. II. p. 185.
Sir Joshua now lived in dignity and even splendour. Enthusiastically fond of his profession, encompassed by the highest and most enlightened society, beloved by all his friends, hospitable, benevolent, cheerful, and of a remarkably placid and unruffled constitution of mind, he appeared to me,' says Mr. Malone, the happiest man I have ever known.' The latter part of his life was little varied. He visited Flanders, and wrote an account of his tour, or rather an account of the pictures he inspected during it. He had a slight disagreement, too, with the Members of the Academy, and resigned his office, which, however, he was persuaded to accept again. In 1789, he lost the sight of his left eye, and, to preserve the other, was obliged entirely to give up painting. But he laboured,' says Mr. Malone,
⚫ under a much more dangerous disease, which deprived him both of his wonted spirits and his appetite, though he was wholly unable to explain to his physicians the nature or seat of his disorder. During this period of great affliction to all his friends, his malady was by many supposed to be imaginary: and it was conceived, that, if he 'would but exert himself, he could shake it off. This instance, however, may serve to show, that the patient best knows what he suffers, and that few long complain of bodily ailments without an adequate for at length (but not till about a fortnight before his death) 'the seat of his disorder was found to be in his liver, of which the 'inordinate growth, as it afterwards appeared, had incommoded all 'the functions of life; and of this disease, which he bore with the 'greatest fortitude and patience, he died, after a confinement of near 'three months, at his house in Leicester-Fields, on Thursday evening, 'Feb. 23, 1792.'*
He was buried in St. Paul's with very great magnificence, 'his pall,' as Mr. M. takes care to inform us, 'being borne up by three Dukes, two Marquisses, and five other noble
The following estimate of Reynolds, as an artist, and a man, was written by Burke, shortly after the death of his friend, whilst the character was yet warm in his memory.
"Sir Joshua Reynolds was, on very many accounts, one of the most memorable men of his time. He was the first Englishman who added the praise of the elegant arts to the other glories of his country. In taste, in grace, in facility, in happy invention, and in the richness and harmony of colouring, he was equal to the greatest masters of the renowned ages. In portrait he went beyond them; for he communicated to that description of the art, in which English artists are the most engaged, a variety, a fancy, and a dignity, derived from
* Malone's Life, pp. cix, cx.
the higher branches, which even those who professed them in a superior manner, did not always preserve, when they delineated individual nature. His portraits remind the spectator of the invention of history, and the amenity of landscape. In painting portraits, he appeared not to be raised upon that platform, but to descend upon it from a higher sphere. His paintings illustrate his lessons, and his lessons seem to be derived from his paintings.
"He possessed the theory as perfectly as the practice of his art. To be such a painter, he was a profound and penetrating philosopher.
"In full affluence of foreign and domestic fame, admired by the expert in art, and by the learned in science, courted by the great, caressed by Sovereign powers, and celebrated by distinguished poets, his native humility, modesty, and candour, never forsook him, even on surprise or provocation; nor was the least degree of arrogance or assumption visible to the most scrutinizing eye in any part of his conduct or discourse.
"His talents of every kind, powerful from nature, and not meanly cultivated by letters, his social virtues in all the relations and all the habitudes of life, rendered him the centre of a very great and unparalleled variety of agreeable societies, which will be dissipated by his death. He had too much merit not to excite some jealousy, too much innocence to provoke any enmity. The loss of no man of his time can be felt with more sincere, general, and unmixed sorrow. HAILAND FAREWELL!" pp. 371, 2.
To the mildness of Sir Joshua's temper all his friends bore testimony. Johnson's address is characteristic: 'Reynolds, you hate no person living; but I like a good hater." There was another saying of Johnson's too, which should by no means be omitted; Reynolds is the most invulnerable man I know; the man, whom, if I should quarrel with him, I should find the most difficulty how to abuse.' As a scholar, of course it would not be fair to compare Reynolds, whose time, as we have seen, was almost entirely spent in his painting-room, with men whose sole business was literature,—such men as Percy, or Johnson, or Goldsmith. His information had been derived from conversation and observation, rather than from books.
"Though he had occasionally dipped into many books, not having had time for regular and systematic study, some topics which had been longdiscussed and settled, were new to him; and hence, merely by the vigour of his excellent understanding, he often suggested ingenious theories and formed just conclusions, which had already been deduced by the laborious disquisitions of others. Finding how little time he could spare from his profession, for the purpose of acquiring general knowledge from books, he very early and wisely resolved to partake as much as possible of the society of all the in VOL. X,