Page images

conceal, even from you, the degradation to which it has been necessary to submit, in order to accomplish an honourable retreat from Gandercleugh. But what avails attempting to conceal that, which must needs betray itself even by its superior excellence 1 All the village—all the parish—all the world—will soon discover to what poverty has reduced Richard Tinto."

A sudden thought here struck me—I had observed that our landlord wore, on that memorable morning, a pair of bran new velveteens, instead of his ancient thicksets.

"What," said I, drawing my right hand, with the fore-finger and thumb pressed together, nimbly from my right haunch to my left shoulder, " you have condescended to resume the paternal arts to which you were first bred—long stiches, ha, Dick?"

He repelled this unlucky conjecture with a frown and a pshaw, indicative of indignant contempt; and, leading me into another room, showed me, resting against a wall, the majestic head of Sir William Wallace, grim as when severed from the trunk by the orders of the felon Edward.

The painting was executed on boards of a substantial thickness, and the top decorated with irons, for suspending the honoured effigy upon a sign post.

"There," he said, " my friend, stands the honour of Scotland, and my shame—yet not so— rather the shame of those, who, instead of encouraging art in its proper sphere, reduce it to these unbecoming and unworthy extremities."

I endeavoured to smooth the ruffled feelings of my misused and indignant friend. I reminded him that he ought not, like the stag in the fable, to despise the quality which had extricated him from difficulties, in which his talents, as a portrait or landscape painter, had been found unavailing. Above all, I praised the execution, as well as conception, of his painting, and reminded him, that, far from feeling dishonoured by so superb a specimen of his talents being exposed to the general view of the public, he ought rather to congratulate himself upon the augmentation of his celebrity, to which its public exhibition must necessarily give rise.

"You are right, my friend—you are right," replied poor Dick, his eye kindling with enthusiasm; "why should I shun the name of an— an—(he hesitated for a phrase)—an out of doors artist? Hogarth has introduced himself in that character in one of his best engravings—Domenichino, or somebody else, in ancient times—Morland, in our own, have exercised their talents in this manner. And wherefore limit to the rich and higher classes alone the delight which the exhibition of works of art is calculated to inspire in all classes? Statues are placed in the open air, why should Painting be more niggardly in displaying hermaster-pieces thanher sister Sculpture? And yet, my friend, we must part suddenly; the men are coming in an hour to put up the—the emblem; and truly, with all my philosophy, and your consolatory encouragement to boot, I would rather wish to leave Gandercleugh before that operation commences.''

We partook of the genial host's parting ban- VOL. III. K

quet, and I escorted Dick on his walk to Edinburgh. We parted about a mile from the village, just as we heard the distant cheer of the boys, which accompanied the mounting of the new symbol of the Wallace Head. Dick Tinto mended his pace to get out of hearing—so little had either early practice, or recent philosophy, reconciled him to the character of a sign painter.

In Edinburgh, Dick's talents were discerned and appreciated, and he received dinners and hints from several distinguished judges of the fine arts. But these gentlemen dispensed their criticism more willingly than their cash, and Dick thought he needed cash more than criticism. He therefore sought London, the universal mart of talent, and where, as is usual in general marts of most descriptions, much more of the commodity is exposed to sale than can ever find purchasers.

Dick, who, in serious earnest, was supposed to have considerable natural talents for his profession, and whose vain and sanguine disposition never permitted him to doubt for a moment of ultimate success, threw himself headlong into the crowd which jostled and struggled for notice and preferment. He elbowed others, and was elbowed himself; and finally, by dint of intrepidity, fought his way into some notice, painted for the prize at the Institution, had pictures at the exhibition at Somerset House, and damned the hanging committee. But poor Dick was doomed to lose the field he fought so gallantly. In the fine arts, there is scarce an alternative between distinguished success and absolute failure; and, as Dick's zeal and industry were unable to ensure

the former, he fell into the distresses which, in his condition, were the natural consequences of the latter alternative. He was for a time patronized by one or two of those judicious persons who make a virtue of being singular, and of pitching their own opinions against those of the world in matters of taste and criticism. But they soon tired of poor Tinto, and laid him down as a load, upon the principle on which a spoiled child throws away its plaything. Misery, I fear, took him up, and accompanied him to a premature grave, to which he was carried from an obscure lodging in Swallow Street, where he had been dunned by his landlady within doors, and watched by bailiffs without, until death came to his relief. A corner of the Morning Post noticed his death; generously adding, that his manner displayed considerable genius, though his style was rather sketchy; and referred to an advertisement which announced that Mr. Varnish, a well known printseller, had still on hand a very few drawings and paintings by Richard Tinto, Esquire, which those of the nobility and gentry, who might wish to complete their collections of modern art, were invited to visit without delay. So ended Dick Tinto, a lamentable proof of the great truth, that in the fine arts mediocrity is not permitted, and that he who cannot ascend to the very top of the ladder, will do well not to put his foot on it at all. Sir w. SCOTT.



SIR, I Can't complain to you of a grievance which I do not remember to have seen taken notice of, at least not exactly in the way it affects me, in any treatise on conversation.

Here, in the coffee-house I frequent (and you, for aught I know, may have often witnessed the thing in your own proper person), is one Mr. Glib, who is the greatest questioner I ever met with in the whole course of my life. This, however, though plague enough of itself, is but half the injury of which we have to complain from him. Mr. Glib, sir, not content with the question, always takes the answer upon him likewise; so that it is impossible to get in a word. I shall illustrate my meaning by giving you verbatim his conversation this morning. He came in wiping his forehead, and, as I hoped, out of breath; but he was scarcely seated when he began as usual: "Mercy on us! how hot it is! Boy, fetch me a glass of port and water. Dr. Phlogiston, did you observe what the thermometer stood at this morning? Mine was at seventy-six in the shade. —Well, this has cleared my throat of the dust a little.—What a dust there is in the new town! Gentlemen, were any of you in Prince's Street since breakfast 1 I went to call on a friend who lives at the farther side of the square, and I had like to have been smothered.—Sir John, how

« PreviousContinue »