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ductions of merit. The funds for the furtherance of this design were to come from the fruits of the annual exhibition. The King, who at first looked coldly upon the project, as it seemed set up in opposition to the elder society, on farther consideration offered voluntarily to supply all deficiencies annually from his private purse. This enabled the members to propose rewards for the encouragement of rising genius; and at a future period to bestow annuities on the most promising students, to defray their expenses during a limited residence at Rome Johnson was made professor of ancient literature, a station merely honorary—and Goldsmith professor of ancient history, another office without labour and without emolument—which secured him a place, says Percy, at the yearly dinner. Of this honour Goldsmith thus writes to his brother: “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 who wants a shirt.” Lastly, the King, to give dignity to the Royal Academy of Great Britain, bestowed the honour of knighthood on the President; and seldom has any such distinction been bestowed amid more universal approbation. Burke, in one of his admirable letters to Barry, says, “ Reynolds is at the head of this academy. From his known public spirit, and warm desire of raising up art among us, he will, I have no doubt, contrive this institution to be productive of all the advantages that could possibly be derived from it; and while it is in such hands as his, we shall have nothing to fear from those shallows and quicksands upon which the Italian and French academies have lost themselves." Johnson was so elated with the honour of knighthood conferred on his friend, that he drank wine in its celebration, though he had abstained from it for several years; and Burke declared there was a na. tural fitness in the name for a title. Of his elec
tion as President, Northcote (no hasty writer) says, what I would fain disbelieve, “ that he refused to belong to the society on any other conditions." How this is to be reconciled with his confusion and surprise at being hailed President, as above described, I cannot determine. The gentleman who relates it is cautious and candid, and would not hazard such an assertion lightly. Of Sir Joshua's capacity to fill the station of President, and to render it respectable by his courtesy and embellish it by his talents, no one ever entertained a doubt ; but it was unworthy of him to stipulate for it.
He voluntarily imposed on himself the task of composing and delivering discourses for the instruction of students in the principles and practice of their art. Of these he wrote fifteen: all distinguished for clearness of conception, and for variety of knowledge. They were delivered during a long succession of years, and in a manner cold and sometimes embarrassed, and even unintelligible. His deafness, and his abhorrence of oratorical pomp of utterance, may have contributed to this defect. A nobleman who was present at the delivery of the first of the series, said, “ Sir Joshua, you read your discourse in a tone so low that I scarce heard a word you said.” “ That was to my advantage,” replied the President, with a smile.
He distinguished himself in the first exhibition of the Academy by paintings of the Dutchess of Manchester and her son, as Diana disarming Cupid; Lady Blake, as Juno receiving the cestus from Venus; and Miss Morris, as Hope nursing Love. The grace of design and beauty of colouring in these pictures, could not conceal the classical affecta. tion of their titles, and the poverty of invention in applying such old and exhausted compliments. Poor Miss Morris was no dandler of babes, but a delicate and sensitive spinster, unfit for the gross wear and tear of the stage--who fainted in the representation of Juliet, and died soon after. Of Lady Blake's title to represent Juno, I have nothing to say--a modern lord would make an indifferent Jupiter; and what claim a Dutchess of Manchester, with her last-born in her lap, could have to the distinction of Diana, it is difficult to guess.
Sir Joshua guided his pen with better taste than his pencil, in the first year of his presidency. He, at the request of Burke, addressed a letter of advice to Barry, which made a strong impression on the mind of that singular man. “Whoever,” says Sir Joshua, “ is resolved to excel in painting, or indeed in any other art, must bring all his mind to bear upon that one object from the moment that he rises till he goes to bed: the effect of every object that meets a painter's eye, may give him a lesson, provided his mind is calm, unembarrassed with other objects, and open to instruction. This general attention, with other studies connected with the art, which must employ the artist in his closet, will be found sufficient to fill up life, if it were much longer than it is. Were I in your place, I would consider myself as playing a great game, and never suffer the little malice and envy of my rivals to draw off my attention from the main object, which if you pursue with a steady eye, it will not be in the power of all the Cicerones in the world to hurt you. While they are endeavouring to prevent the gentlemen from employing the young artists, instead of injuring them, they are in my opinion doing them the greatest service.
“ Whoever has great views, I would recommend to hin, while at Rome, rather to live on bread and water than lose advantages which he can never hope to enjoy a second time, and which he will find only in the Vatican; where, I will engage, no cavalier sends his students to copy for him. The Capella Sistina is the production of the greatest genius that was ever employed in the arts ; it is
worth considering by what principles that stupendous greatness of style is produced, and endeavouring to produce something of your own on those principles, will be a more advantageous method of study than copying the St. Cecilia in the Borghese, or the Herodias of Guido, which may be copied to eternity without contributing a jot towards making a man a more able painter. If you neglect visiting the Vatican often, and particularly the Capella Sistina, you will neglect receiving that peculiar advantage which Rome can give above all other cities in the world. In other places you will find casts from the antique, and capital pictures of the great painters ; but it is there only that you can form an idea of the dignity of the art, as it is there only that you can see the works of Michael Angelo and Raphael.” Barry, who at that time was awed by the fame of Reynolds, received this letter with thankfulness, and acknowledged it with civility; but his precipitancy of nature hindered him from profiting much by it.
When Goldsmith published his Deserted Village, he inscribed it to Sir Joshua in a very kind and touching manner. “ The only dedication I ever made,” says the author of the Vicar of Wakefield, “ was to my brother, because I loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Permit me to inscribe this poem to you.” The poet was a frequent guest with Johnson at the table of the painter, which was adorned and enlivened by the presence and the talents of Miss Reynolds-herself a painter and poetess, and eminent for her good sense and ready wit. This lady was a great favourite of Johnson, who was fond of her company, and acknowledged oftener than once the influence of her conversation.
I have already said that Reynolds was an admirer of Pope. A fan, which the poet presented to Martha Blount, and on which he had painted, with his own hand, the story of Cephalus and Procris, with the motto “ Aura Veni,” was to be sold by auction, and Sir Joshua sent a person to bid for it as far as thiry guineas. The messenger imagined that he said thirty shillings, and allowed the relic to go for two pounds; a profit, however, was allowed to the purchaser, and it was put into the hand of the painter. “See,” said lie to his pupils, who gathered round him,“ see the painting of Pope-this must always be the case when the work is taken up from idleness, and is laid aside when it ceases to amuse; it is like the work of one who paints only for amusement. Those who are resolved to excel must go to their work, willing or unwilling, morning, noon, and night; they will find it to be no play, but very hard. labour.” This fan was afterward stolen out of his study; as a relic of that importance cannot be openly displayed to the world by the person who abstracts it, it is not easy to imagine what manner of enthusiast the thief could be.
At a festive meeting where Johnson, Reynolds, Burke, Garrick, Douglas, and Goldsmith were con. spicuous, the idea of composing a set of extempore epitaphs on one another was started. Two very indifferent lines of ordinary waggery by Garrick offended Goldsmith so much that he avenged himself by composing the celebrated poem of Retaliation, in which he exhibits the characters of his companions with great liveliness and talent. The character of Sir Joshua Reynolds is drawn with discrimination and delicacy; it resembles, indeed, his own portraits, for the features are a little softened, and the expression a little elevated; it is, nevertheless, as near the truth as the affection of the poet would permit him to come. The lines have a melancholy interest, from being the last which the authoi wrote.
“ Here Reynolds is laid, and, to tell you my mind,