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only of resentful mortification. The reign ambition was making around; dignity of the legislature, and the sta, and, instead of shrinking from the hibility of the constitution, would be deous spectacle, assumed a new vigour, well consulted indeed, if upon every and a more majestic port
in its presence. defeat of an exasperated faction, some It was this insulted and grossly libelseductive, and, to them, more propi- led House of Commons, that sustaintious novelty were to be introduced, - ed, by its constitutional sanction, the if the sufficient reason for changes ar- firm and high-minded policy which, in duous and eventful were to be recog- the issue, wrought the national delinised in the splenetic effusions of eve- verance,-and this, too, in absolute dery factious baron, who, with the arro- fiance of a deluded band, then, as now gance inherent to his creed, believes misnamed the people, who poured their that nothing can be honest which re- sordid and treacherous execrations upsists him, :-or with the still baser hy- on its magnanimity, and intimated pocrisy which has sometimes been ex- but too distinctly, what sort of legislaemplified by the whigs, insults the ture we might expect from the breath institutions which he cannot but se- of popular and jacobin frenzy. The cretly approve, and rings unceasing House of Commons, in its actual conchanges upon reform, which had he stitution, the whigs may indeed conthe most potent talisman at his com- sistently revile, because of its eternal mand for effecting it, he would not dare frown on their petty machinations, to put it in operation.
from the first exhibition of their antiThe House of Commons, as it is now national vigour at a period, which now constituted, is not only defensible upon belongs to history, down to the last the deepest principles of theory—but pang of their mental and moral impohas strongly recommended itself to tence in the present Session of Parliaevery practical statesman-and chal- ment; but while a vestige of the lofty lenged thegratitude of the country alike and high-tempered feeling of the counfor the firmness and wisdom which try remains, it will never partake of it has displayed. It has undergone no these revilings, nor feel any thing but change since the beginning of the se- contempt for their authors, unless verest trial to which the magnanimity scorn itself should be extinguished in of this nation was ever put it is the compassion. That this last event has same corrupt House of Commons that already arrived, we see much reason conducted the country through the pe- to believe, as we do not remember any rils of the late war, and infused that one occasion on which the anxious fine moral energy, in the strength of bustling, and inane pretension of the which the brightest miracles of mo- whigs, have been so thoroughly undern achievement were performed. It derstood, and so sharply chastised, is the same House of Commons which, both with reason and ridicule, as in convened in dignity and freedom, saw the case of their late abortive effort to with calmness the wreck which fo- reach the unwilling pinnacle of power.
FARRINGTON'S MEMOIRS OF SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
Every information tending to elu- tention, from the novelty and imporcidate the life, character, and splendid tance of the information it affords, it talents of such a man as Sir Joshua is nevertheless written with strict imReynolds, cannot fail of exciting con- partiality, and contains some facts besiderable interest among the professors fore unknown, or greatly misrepresentof his art, as well as in the community ed, which, we believe, will be found at large; and we therefore feel indebt- not devoid of interest to the generality ed to Mr Farrington for the small and of readers. Our author was an eye unassuming volume which forms the witness of many of the circumstances object of our present consideration. If he records, and being, as we have been it possess no particular claim to our at, informed, a good deal concerned in the
* Memoirs of the Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds ; with some Observations on his Talents and Character. By Joseph Farrington, R. A. In addition to the Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, by Edmond Malone, Esq. 8vo. Cadell and Davies, London, 1819.
dispute between the Academy and Sir tained
a sincerer admiration of Sir Jor Joshua, it is but justice to bear our shua Reynolds, both as a painter and testimony to the remarkable fairness a man, than Mr Farrington himself; with which he has stated all the par- and, indeed, if we feel disposed to centiculars connected with that unfortu. sure, it arises from a persuasion that nate difference. Whatever may be the on several occasions he has fallen into
current morality and philosophy of a somewhat opposite extreme by the the present day," we really see no rea- indiscriminate nature of his praise. A son why a public body of men, any remarkable instance of this occurs in more than an individual, should bow the 8th page of the volume.--" The in silent submission to unmerited ob- life of this distinguished artist exhibits loquy. If we feel disposed to attach a useful lesson to all those who may blame to the author, it does not so devote themselves to the same pursuit; much arise from his having at last he was not of the class of such as have brought the defence forward, as from been held up, or who have esteemed his having so long delayed its publica- themselves to be heaven-born geniustion; when many of those engaged in He appeared to think little of the dispute have been passed to their such claims. It will be seen in the acfinal account, and have become equally count of his progress to the high situindifferent to the shafts of calumny, ation he attained in his profession, that and to Mr Farrington's tardy vindica- at no period was there in him any such tion; but, however he may regret this fancied inspiration ; on the contrary, delay, as far as it respects the dead, one every youthful reader of the Memoirs great good is likely to result from the of Sir Joshua Reynolds may feel assupresent publication, as it concerns the red, that his ultimate success will be present and succeeding generations, in proportion to the resolution with It may prove a salutary lesson to those which he follows his example." Upon destined to fill the office of President this passage we shall abstain from maof the Royal Academy, by reminding king any lengthened remarks, as we them, that neither general respect, nor have been elsewhere anticipated by the highest professional talents, no, some able writers, the force of whose nor even the favour of the sovereign excellent arguments, in this instance, himself, can ultimately shield an in- we will not run the risk of weakening dividual, so circumstanced, from the by hazarding many observations of our severe and inevitable censure which own. Sir Joshua Reynolds appears to awaits his conduct; when, forgetting, have been a man of great general tain some evil hour, what is just between lents, refined taste, and uncommon and man and man, and haughtily dispen- unwearied application. His quick persing with all law and right, he should ception of character was almost unriendeavour to impose his own will and valled, and in every thing that regardcaprice on an independent body of gen- ed the mechanic of his art, with pertlemen, to whose friendship and par- haps the single exception of drawing, tiality he ought to feel conscious he one of the most distinguished artists owes a considerable portion of his con- that the world has produced ; but in sequence. Much more might be said that which is strictly termed invention, upon this topic; but as a generation has or novel combination as it relates to passed away, since the question was design (that great and distinguishing agitated, we shall forbear dwelling up- characteristic of real genius) even his on it at any greater length, and con- warmest admirers must admit he was tent ourselves
with observing simply, at least deficient. In colouring, light that we think the Royal Academy must and shade, and in the general manage feel itself indebted to our author, for the ment of a picture, he stands nearly clear, dispassionate, and unanswerable withoutan equal his immense powers, manner in which he has treated a sub- and deep and profound acquirements, ject, which, from the active part he is in these respects, chastened as they alsaid to have taken in opposition to the ways were, by the exquiste refinement President, he must have found it very of his taste, enabled him to conceal difficult to regard with an unprejudi- and throw a veil over his most promi
nent defects, and to shroud from obWe sincerely believe that, with the servation a degree of imbecility and above exception, no man ever enter- plagiarism, in his compositions, which, in the hands of a less accomplished which his conceptions can be rendered artist, could scarcely be endured. Most intelligible. of the qualities which Reynolds pos- In the foregoing remarks, we trust, sessed, above his contemporaries, were we shall not be suspected of any wish precisely those attainable by mere un- to depreciate the exalted and unqueswearied application and profound re- tionable excellence of Sir Joshua, beflection; and as they carried him, un- cause we have ventured to differ with assisted by originality of invention, to him in a point upon which he does a very eminent station in the art, we not appear to have ever possessed any are less surprised, than we should settled or distinct notions ; possibly otherwise have been, at the doctrine he this might arise from his having felt, was fond of inculcating, that“ nothing in designing his historical and poetiin painting was denied to well directed cal compositions, the defective nature labour;" or, in other words asserting, of his own inventive faculty, and, that all men are born with like capaci- being too proud to acknowledge the ties, and that originality of mind de- deficiency, affected, with a weakness pends solely on education and adven- often incident to human nature, to untitious circumstances; which is pretty dervalue or to deny the existence of a much the same as maintaining, that quality to which he must have been the superstructure can stand when the conscious he possessed only slender foundation is wanting. It appears to claims. Fortunately, his principal purus, that this power of invention may suits required less of originality of conexist, in the mind of a man, without ception than almost any other departhis possessing the smallest talent for ment of the art. What he wanted, howimitation, through the medium of ever, in this respect, his taste, quick perwhich he can be alone enabled to com- ception of character, and sound judgmunicate his ideas in painting; and we ment, in a great measure supplied, and have little doubt, that the experience enabled him, when combined with the of our readers will have furnished them thorough knowledge he possessed of with many instances confirmatory of the mechanic of his profession, to rise the truth of this notion. In the rude to a degree of eminence in portrait, sketches of school boys, we have fre- which has left him few rivals, and perquently observed strong and original haps no superiors. conceptions that would have done cre- He was fortunate also in the period dit to a first-rate master, though each in which he made his appearance, and figure has been so imperfectly repre- no less so in the natural suavity of his sented as to be scarcely intelligible to temper and general deportment. Few any but a practised eye. It is remark- men studied the world more deeply, able, that more than one of the indi- or acquired a profounder insight into viduals alluded to, appeared incapa- men and manners; and still fewer ever ble of producing any resemblance up- turned the advantage to better account. on paper of an object placed before But, in spite of the uncommon qualithem for imitation; and it is, at least, ties thus concentrated in an individual, equally certain, that many persons pos- he appears to have been a man more sess the power of copying most accu- worthy of our study than of our admirately, even the human
figure, who are ration; and we are not quite sure we absolutely incapable of telling a story agree
with Mr Farrington, in thinking on canvas, or of conceiving a subject at that Dr Johnson paid his friend any all. It is vain, therefore, to contend very high compliment in stating, that that where original force of mind is “Reynolds was the most invulnerable wanting, mere labour, however well man he had ever known." Sir Joshua, directed, can supply the deficiency. from all we have heard of him, apTo form a great painter, both powers pears to have been of a nature constimust be combined in the same indi- tutionally cold and warys and we vidual in no common degree ; for if an should be cautious of confounding the artist should be eminently deficient in placability of such a disposition, with the one, his works will never rise to the loftier and more magnanimous formediocrity even, and if defective in the bearance that distinguishes the indiother, all' his mental force will, in a vidual, whose experience and reflection great measure, become abortive, from have taught him to subdue an hasty the want of a just medium, through temper and impetuous passions.
We shall pass rapidly over the ear- Sir Joshua, at the time of making this lier days of Reynolds, and the history choice, was somewhat younger, we beof his pupilage, to the interest and lieve, than Raphael, when the latter novelty of which our author has added first saw the works of Michael Angelo, little, till we find him fairly arrived in in the Sistine Chapel, and was thence Rome. Here Sir Joshua seems to have induced, almost instantaneously, to deshewn singular judgment, in selecting part from the meagre and imbecile exfor his study those works of art which ample of his master, Petro Perugino, were best qualified to supply the de- and to select for his models the mighty ficiencies of his limited education, and style and dignified compositions of his in adapting them to those walks of the illustrious rival; yet when Reynolds profession to which early inclination, visited the works of Michael Angelo, and the peculiar structure of his mind, he was in many respects a better artist appear to have directed his attention. than Raphael himself at the period in
By judiciously considering,” says question; and the admiration for the our author, " these magnificent works, labours of that great man, being the he gradually became sensible of their same in both painters, to what other high quality; and to expand his mind, cause can we attribute the distinctly and acquire a larger, practice of the different paths pursued by these emihand, he copied such portions of them nent artists, but to the consciousness as might be afterwards useful to him. felt by the Roman of his possessing He did all that was possible upon the powers, to which the English artist was limited foundations he had laid ; nor aware he had few pretensions ? was his labour in vain. He never was In what mannerour author reconciles competent to adopt the grand style of his observations in the passage above art; but by great diligence and atten- quoted, with his approval of the maxim tion, he enlarged his conceptions, and which Sir Joshua, he tells us, “always refined his taste, so as to shew in his maintained,” “ that by study and exportraits a new mode of thinking on ertion alone every excellence, of whatthis branch of the art, perfectly dis- ever kind, might be acquired," we are tinct and original."- P. 27,28. almost at a loss to conjecture; but it
We perfectly accord with Mr Far- seems, that our great artist imbibed his rington in almost every word contained maxim from his friend Dr Johnson, and in the above statement; but why was possibly Mr F. awed by their great Reynolds incompetent to thegreat style? names may, in this instance, have surPrecisely because he was defective in rendered his better judgment to what strength of invention and originality he considered paramount authority of mind. That, however, which he was How far he may be authorised in this incapableof producing himself, his taste it is not our purpose to inquire; but and discernment allowed him fully to to us it has always appeared, thatappreciate in the works of the great whatever may have been the merits of masters, and enabled him to infuse into Johnson, and unquestionably they were an inferior department of art, a portion numerous and splendid —his claims of that elevation and grandeur which to first rate genius rest on a slender places his portraits deservedly on the basis, and that whenever he touched highest eminence of fame. For beyond upon
this rare quality, he appears, like this the circumscribed nature of his ge- his friend Reynolds, to have grown benius forbade him to proceed. To use wildered, and to have possessed no very his own language, "he followed a course adequate comprehension of its powers; more congenial to his own feelings, and but to proceed. The account given of to the taste of the times in which he Sir Joshua's progress and rapid rise to lived," thereby almost expressly admit- eminence after his return from Rome, ting, that he felt unequal to the effort though perhaps better suited to Pilof producing any thing great and new kington's Dictionary of Painters, than in the higher walks of art; and there to the memoirs of an eminent man, is fore judiciously contented himself by nevertheless not devoid of interest; but investing the inferior ones with a por- we wish Mr Farrington had let Hudtion of dignity, which had hitherto son sleep in peace. The personal jarbeen supposed to belong, almost exclu- rings between artists, or any other set sively, to the historic and poetic styles, of men, are too disagreeable, during It should be remembered, also, that their lives, to merit recording; but, 'Vol. VIII.
in the instance before us, the contest is general knew nothing of what was passof so disproportionate a nature, that it ing in the arts. Private collections is difficult to avoid sympathising with were then inaccessible, and there were the weaker party, when we see the no public ones, nor any casual display cause of his mighty opponent advo- of the productions of genius, except cated with a warmth and pertinacity, what the ordinary sales by auction ocwhich, if the circumstances in question casionally offered. Nothing, therefore, had not occurred long ago, we should could exceed the ignorance of the peohave been almost tempted to attribute to ple, who were in themselves learned, some personal motive-Much greater ingenious, and highly cultivated, in ali artists than Hudson, or even Sir Jo- things excepting the arts of design. shua, have been unhappily tinctured “In consequence of this privation, it with the meanness of jealousy and envy, was conceived that a public exhibition without the excuses that might be of- of the works of the most eminent artfered in defence of the former ; and is tists would not fail to make a powerful our author quite sure that the illustri- impression,and, ifoccasionally repeated, ous President himself was entirely free might ultimately produce the most safrom the influence of these unworthy tisfactory effects. and degrading passions ? Hudson was, “The scheme was no sooner proposed without doubt, a man of mediocre ta- than adopted, and being carried into lent,and the majority of his pictures ful- immediate execution, the result exly justify thecensure passed upon them; ceeded the most sanguine expectations yet we have seen a portrait by him, in of the projectors; all ranks of people the collection of Lord Portsmouth, that crowded to see the delightful novelty; not only possessed intrinsic excellence, it was the universal topic of conversabut very strongly reminded us of some tion; and a passion for the arts was of the earlier pictures of Reynolds him- excited by that first manifestation of self. To speak, however, of the two native talent, which, cherished by the men as rivals, we should have imagined continued operation of the same cause, too improbable a notion to have entered has ever since been increasing in the mind of any one gifted with Mr strength, and extending its effects Farrington's real knowledge of the art, through every part of the empire. and we regret that he has not shewn “ The history of our exhibitions afrather less asperity towards the me- fords itself the strongest evidence of mory of a man, long forgotten, whose their impressive effects upon public reverses in life must have rendered him taste. At their commencement, though peculiarly sensible to the feelings of men of enlightened minds, could dismortified pride and conscious inferi- tinguish and appreciate what was exority.
cellent, the admiration of the many was Here, with a few remarks on the es- confined to subjects either gross or tablishment of the Royal Academy, puerile, and commonly to the meanest which formed so remarkable an event efforts of intellect; whereas at this in the life of Sir Joshua, together with time the whole train of subjects most some concluding observations, we popular in the earlier exhibitions have should probably have dismissed our au- disappeared. Theloaf and cheese, that thor, if we had not noticed, in a quar- could provoke hunger, the cat and cater before alluded to, some stric- nary bird, and the dead mackarel on a tures on his work, which appear to deal board, have long ceased to produce be as illiberal as they are devoid of astonishment and delight; while truth 'foundation. In the year 1760, when of imitation now finds innumerableadthe industry and rare talents of Rey- mirers, though combined with the bigh nolds had raised his reputation to a de- qualities of beauty, grandeur, and taste. gree of eminence which no other Bri- “ To our public exhibitions, and to tish artist has attained, “a plan was arrangements that followed in conseformed,” says our author, " by the art- quence of their introduction, this ists of the metropolis, to draw the at- change must bechiefly attributed. The tention of their fellow-citizens to their present generation appears to be comingenious labours, with a view both to posed of a new, and, at least with rean increase of patronage, and the cul spect to the arts, a superior order of tivation of taste. Hitherto works of beings. Generally speaking, their that kind, produced in the country, thoughts, their feelings, and language were seen only by a few, the people in on these subjects, differ entirely from