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sitions for the Shakspeare Gallery, and placed in the AcademyExhibition of 1781 a Thais, a Dido, and a terrified boy. A growing deafness now rendered sitters less welcome to him.
In 1781 he visited the gallery of Dusseldorf also, accompanied by Mr. Metcalf, and imported from Antwerp a young artist named De Gree. Sir Joshua was wholly free from envy, and, on Zoffanij's arrival in London, purchased his first finished picture at the price asked. Having re-sold it with a profit of twenty guineas to the Earl of Carlisle, he sent these twenty guineas to Zoffanij, observing that he thought the picture had been charged below its value.
The only landscape ever painted by Sir Joshua was exhibited at Liverpool in 1784. It was a view of the Thames from his own villa at Richmond. In 1785 he executed the delightful picture of Love untying the zone of Beauty; and in 1786 he painted for the Empress of Russia an infant Hercules strangling serpents. The allegory is not happy; it was intended for an allusion to the difficulty of civilizing Russia : --- nor was the execution fortunate ; the premature vigour and dilated proportions of the child giving to it the symptoms of hydrocephalous disease. The Shakspeare picture of the death of Cardinal Beaufort is justly ranked as the best effort of Sir Joshua's pencil : the colouring is good, and various without being gaudy or mottled; the local tints are not swallowed up in chiar oscuro; nor are the prominence, rotundity, and keeping of the whole sacrificed to the splendour of the parts. The composition is compact, not straggling as in his Macbeth and Witches; and, by veiling the king's emotion, he prevents the
from eclipsing the principal figure.
About the year 1790, the sight of Sir Joshua Reynolds became so much impaired that his execution as a painter declined : but his generosity to every rival, and to every aspirant, survived even his superiority in art, and his merit as a man ennobled him yet more than his merit as a painter. -- He had progressively formed a large collection of pictures by the ancient masters, which he offered to the Academy at a low price, on the condition of their purchasing the Lyceum, or constructing some other repository for them: but this offer was declined: the academicians were not competent to the purchase; and neither royal nor parliamentary munificence intervened. — Sir Joshua lost his sight entirely in 1791, having previously resigned the situation of President, and died in 1792 of a liver-disease. His funeral was attended by the Academy in a body, and by persons of the first distinction.
Were we to sketch his character as a painter, we should somewhat depart in phraseology from the panegyric given by
Mr. Northcote. His outline was traced after the manner of Michael Angelo; with strength, freedom, grace, expression, and with that vague propriety, or tendency to the central form, which certainly differs from truth of nature, or precision of imitation, although it may be a more meritorious attainment. His figures have an heroic stamp, an inherent grandeur ; they excel in characteristic more than in pathetic expression, and the face is usually the most elaborate portion. The attitudes of his personages have more of variety than of ordinary occurrence, more of sprawling than of repose, more of meaning than of ease. His colours were florid, fugitive, and laid on in blotches, which render it difficult to hang his pictures in a good light: their protuberances reflect gleams. His colouring was mostly rather contrarious (if we may coin a word) than monotonous in point of chiar' oscuro ; rather monotonous than contrarious in point of prismatic variety, at least in his earlier works. In other words, his light and shade tended to excess, but his pallet to scantiness. He was a learned painter, and his pictures abound with allusions to celebrated works of art; with parodies, or new applications, of known figures and attitudes. Like Vandyck, with powers equal to historic painting, he preferred the department of portraiture ;-like Vandyck, he knew how to ally an antique (or Italian) grace and nobleness of form and posture with the northern figures which he imitated : but, as his colouring, both for truth and stability, falls short of the colouring of that master, it is a panegyrical though a descriptive expression to call Sir Joshua Reynolds the British Vandyck.
Mr. Northcote has executed his biographical task with great literary propriety and sedulity : but perhaps he has too much pressed into his service those anecdotes of Dr. Johnson, which, if relative to good things said in the presence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, have still not much connection with the history of the artist. A life of Domenichino was written by Landon, (of which an English translation appeared in 1804,) which seems to us a good model of artistical biography. It carefully records the dates of the painter's principal works, and attaches an appendix of outline-engravings, representing the principal and most characteristic pictures of Zampieri. From such an account, and such documents, the literary critic can judge for himself of a painter's merit in composition, in drawing, in the choice of forms, and in expression; and only his merit ás a colourist escapes.
We much wish that Mr. Northcote had in this manner illustrated his master, and had accompanied his narrative with individual criticisms on the great pictures of Sir Joshua, as well as with outline-engravings of them by our best artists. Patronage, we think, would not have
been wantirg. Portraits of Sir Joshua and of Mr. Northcote, with a view of the school at Plympton, are the present decorations of the volume.
The works of M. Landon have been received throughout Europe with praise and gratitude; and they now comprehend many leading painters. His Raphael in eight volumes appeared in 1805: his Poussin, four volumes, in 1809. We believe that his latest publication is consecrated to the celebration of Michael Angelo, - the idol, and the model, (but perhaps the misleader,) of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
We have devoted so much space to the principal object of this volume, that we cannot now afford room for a discussion of the Varieties which Mr. Northcote has added to it.
Art. II. The Excursion, being a Portion of the Recluse, a Poem. By William Wordsworth. 4to. PP. 460.
Boards. Longman and Co. 1814. UR opinion of the poetical character of Mr. Wordsworth
has been freely expressed on more than one occasion; and, although we are aware that we shall be exposed to the charge of perverseness, (which is shared with us by a tolerably large majority of poetical readers,) we cannot persuade ourselves to retract that opinion, after a painful and laborious investigation of the volume now before us. Most of our readers, probably, are apprized of the objection made by the admirers of Mr. Wordsworth to every unfavourable judgment passed on his former productions ; viz. that such judgment must necessarily be founded on a partial and imperfect view of the case, because the materials from which it was formed were only the disjointed members of a complete but hitherto undeveloped system ; and that it was therefore the duty of candid criticism to keep its sentence in suspence until the final disclosure of that system. We will not now stay to contend that this plea is in itself frivolous and untenable, or that, from the moment at which an author chuses to lay himself before the public, he must submit to be judged by that public according to the nature of the case which he has himself made out for their inspection ; - and we will confess that the argument, however false, had been so repeatedly pressed on us as to have rendered us perhaps more than duly anxious in our expectations of the promised developement :--but, from this time forwards, the argument, such as it is, can never be repeated. A series of verses amounting to nearly 10,000, even though it may form but a portion of a portion of an intended whole, is by much too weighty a matter to be considered in the light of a mere branch, or stray twig, or unimportant excrescence; and, even from the manner in which
Mr.Wordsworth announces it, we imagine that neither he himself nor any of his friends can intend that it should be taken otherwise than as that entire and conclusive exposition of his poetical creed, for which we have been so often and authoritatively required to wait in humble expectation. It is thus introduced by the author to our notice :
• The title-page announces that this is only a portion of a poem; and the reader must be here apprized that it belongs to the second part of a long and laborious work, which is to consist of three parts. --The author will candidly acknowledge that, if the first of these had been completed, and in such a manner as to satisfy his own mind, he should have preferred the natural order of publication, and have given that to the world first; but, as the second division of the work was designed to refer more to passing events, and to an existing state of things, than the others were meant to do, more continuous exertion was naturally bestowed upon it, and greater progress made here than in the rest of the poem; and as this part does not depend upon the preceding, to a degree which will materially injure its own peculiar interest, the author, complying with the earnest entreaties of some valued friends, presents the following pages to the public.
• It may be proper to state whence the poem, of which the Excursion is a part, derives its title of The Recluse. --Several years ago, when the author retired to his native mountains, with the hope of being enabled to construct a literary work that might live, it was a reasonable thing that he should take a review of his own mind, and examine how far nature and education had qualified him for such employment. As subsidiary to this preparation, he undertook to record, in verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, as far as he was acquainted with them. That work, addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the author's intellect is deeply indebted, has been long finished ; and the result of the investigation which gave rise to it was a determination to compose a philosophical poem, containing views of Man, Nature, and Society; and to be entitled, The Recluse ; as having for its prin. cipal subject the sensations and opinions of a poet living in retire, The preparatory poem is biographical
, and conducts the history of the author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous labour which he had proposed to himself; and the two works have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express himself, as the anti-chapel has to the body of a Gothic church. Continuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add, that his minor pieces, which have been long before the public, when they shall be properly arranged, will be found by the attentive reader to have such connection with the main work as may give them claim to be likened to the little celis, oratories, and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily included in those edifices.
• The author would not have deemed himself justified in saying, upon this occasion, so much of performances either unfinished, or unpublished, if he had not thought that the labour bestowed by him
upon what he has heretofore and now laid before the public, entitled him to candid attention for such a statement as he thinks necessary to throw light upon his endeavours to please, and he would hope, to benefit his countrymen.-- Nothing further need be added, than that the first and third parts of the Recluse will consist chiefly of meditations in the author's own person; and that in the intermediate part (The Excusion) the intervention of characters speaking is employed, and something of a dramatic form adopted.'
Such being the general scope of the publication, we must in the next place give our readers some view of its contents, before we offer any of our own observations to their acceptance.
The present portion of this immense work is divided into nine books, each of which contains, on an average, upwards of a thousand lines. It consists of dialogues, moral, philosophical, and religious, between three or at most four interlocutors, (reckoning the poet himself as one,) connected together by a simple narrative of a short summer's excursion amid some of the most picturesque scenery of the Cumberland mountains. In the first book, the poet brings us acquainted with his worthy friend The Wanderer;' whose poetical character we shall find some opportunity of discussing hereafter, when we shall consider him in the dignified light of a Scotch pedlar retired from business. The poet and the pedlar sit together under the shade of some fine trees surrounding a ruined cottage, and the latter relates to the former the history of the last inhabitant of that cottage. - Book II. These personages set off together on their desultory Buncling expedition, and the pedlar continues to amuse his companion by giving him some historical insight into the character of a friend whom he purposes to visit, and who afterward becomes the third dramatic personage of the poem under the appellation of « The Solitary.' They descend into the valley which this extraordinary man had chosen for his retirement, meet, are ushered by him to his sequestered habitation, and finally persuade him to accompany them on their further ramble. --The third and fourth books develope more fully the character and history of this unfortunate individual, the despondency of a sanguine mind, and the consolations of religion and philosophy. We shall insert the table of contents of these two divisions of the poem, as illustrating the general nature of the subjects on which it professes to treat :
1 BOOK THIRD. DESPONDENCY. Images in the Valley - Another Recess in it entered and de. scribed-Wanderer's sensations - Solitary's excited by the same objects-Contrast between these — Despondency of the Solitary gently reproved Conversation exhibiting the Solitary's past and present opinions and feelings, till he enters upon his own History at length