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-a sleeping girl. So splendid were the colours in which this sleeping beauty was imbodied, that they threw into shade all other works which were near it in the exhibition.
When Boydell, a name which all lovers of art have learned to reverence, projected an edition of Shaks. peare, embellished with engravings from the ablest painters, he found Reynolds unexpectedly cold and backward. A sensible friend undertook the task of persuasion, and in the midst of his arguments slippeda, five hundred pound note into the artist's hand. This mode of reasoning was persuasive; three pictures were promised, imagined, sketched, and painted.
The first was Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, a singular and a happy production, the very image of that tricksy sprite, with a hand ready for pleasant mischief, and an eye shining with uncommitted roguery. This poetic picture is in a poet's keeping-that of Mr. Rogers. The second was Macbeth, with the witches and the caldron. The figure of the usurper is deficient in heroic dignity ; but there is a supernatural splendour thrown over the hags which cannot be contemplated without awe. The vivid excellence of Shakspeare, however, prevails against the painter; the conception is below the execution. The third and last was the death of Cardinal Beaufort, a work which has received the highest praise and the deepest censure. I cannot help regarding the conception as a failure. To augment the horrors of a guilty conscience, the artist has introduced a fiend, who posts himself at the dying man's head, and excites our disgust, and carries away our feelings from the departing sinner. Those who seek a justification of this in the poet will seek in vain ; the lines quoted in its defence contain only a figure of speech; one of those bold figures in which the great dramatist loved to deal.
Oh, beat away the busy meddling fiend
Those who are unconvinced by these words may look for the fiend of the artist in the dramatis personæ of the poet. Opie praises this hideous and shapeless supernumerary as “one of the most signal examples of invention in the artist." The artist received a thousand guineas for Macbeth, and five hundred for Cardinal Beaufort. He took commissions of this kind with reluctance ; his imagination was not a teeming one ; he had numerous trials to make; success was never certain ; and when he had finished his work, he found that the dead were but indifferent patrons; he complained, in short, says Northcote, that those subjects“ cost him too dear.”
Of his portrait of Elliot, Lord Heathfield, Barry says, “ His object appears to have been to obtain the vigour and solidity of Titian, and the bustle and spi. rit of Vandyke, without the excesses of either.” It is a noble and heroic head. There is a calm, martial determination, which corresponds with the rough aspect. He grasps the key of Gibraltar in his hand, and seems to say, amid the volleying smoke and fire, “ This rock shall melt and run into the Mediterranean before I yield thee."
Reynolds once observed that it was impossible for two painters in the same line of art to live in friendship. This was probably uttered in a moment of peevishness, when he had been thwarted by some brother of the calling, and was not intended for a deliberate opinion. It is, nevertheless, nearer the truth than the disciples of art are willing to admit. What is the secret history of the Royal Academy but a record of battles and bickerings, of petty disputes and trifling animosities? Hogarth lived before it was founded an object of mingled envy and terror. Gainsborough disliked Reynolds, Reynolds had no good-will to Gaiusborough; Wilson also shared in this unamia.
ble feeling, and Barry was unwilling to forgive any one who painted better than himself. These are masters and princes of the calling: their open feuds and private warrings would fill a volume; the animosities of the lesser spirits are unworthy of notice.
Sir Joshua sat to Gainsborough for his portrait; before it was finished, he was taken ill and went to Bath; of his recovery and return he gave intimation, but no notice was taken of it, and the picture was never finished. Some unnatural fit of good. will had brought them together:-on reflection they separated, and continued to speak of one another after their own natures; Gainsborough with open scorn, Reynolds with courteous, cautious insinuation. It is true, however, that they at length forgave each other--that Gainsborough on his death-bed made atonement for his opposition and relinquished all dislike-and that of Gainsborough, after he was fairly in his grave, Reynolds spoke with truth and justice. • The President was persuaded about this time by Boswell to attend the execution of a robber at New
gate. The unfortunate sufferer had been a servant fire in the family of Thrale, had often stood behind Sir
Joshua's back, and, on seeing him in the crowd,
bowed to him with mournful civility. A hero dying or in battle, or a saint in his bed, may be worthy of online contemplation; but what a Reynolds could have here looked for, except disgust and sickness of heart, in horny witnessing the mortal agony of a vulgar malefactor, ih I am at a loss to conceive. He was sharply admothing nished at the time in some of the journals.
Sir Joshua had now reached his sixty-sixth year; to the boldness and happy freedom of his productions fine was undiminished: and the celerity of his execution role and the glowing richness of his colouring, were
rather on the increase than the wane. His life had ii been uniformly virtuous and temperate; and his mijn looks, notwithstanding the paralytic stroke he had
lately received, promised health and long life. He was happy in his fame and fortune, and in the society of numerous and eminent friends; and he saw himself in his old age without a rival. His great prudence and fortunate control of temper had prevented him from giving serious offence to any individual; and the money he had amassed, and the style in which he lived, unencumbered with a family, created a respect for him among those who were incapable of understanding his merits. But the hour of sorrow was at hand. One day, in the month of July, 1789, while finishing the portrait of the Marchioness of Hertford, he felt a sudden decay of sight in his left eye He laid down the pencil; sat a little while in mute consideration, and never lifted it more.
His sight gradually darkened, and within ten weeks of the first attack his left eye was wholly blind. He appeared cheerful, and endeavoured to persuade himself that he was resigned and happy. But he had been accustomed to the society of the titled and the beautiful-and from this he was now cut off; he knew the world well, and perceived that, as the pencil, which brought the children of vanity about him as with a charm, could no longer be used, the giddy tide of approbation would soon roll another way. His mental sufferings were visible to some of his friends, though he sought to conceal them with all his might. One read to him to charm away the time-another conversed with him-and the social circle, among whom he had so long presided, still assembled round the well-spread table. Ozias Humphreys came every morning and read a news. po.per to him ; his niece, afterward Marchioness of Thomond, arrived from the country and endeavoured to sooth and amuse him; and he tried to divert himself by changing the position of his pictures, and by exhibiting them all in succession in his drawing. I room, so that he at once pleased his friends and gra. tified himself.
But a man cannot always live in society, nor can society always spare time to amuse him; there are many hours of existence which he must gladden, as he can, for himself. Cowper took to the taming of hares; and Sir Joshua made a companion of a little bird, which was so tame and docile as to perch on his hand, and with this innocent favourite he was often found by his friends pacing around his room, and speaking to it as if it were a thing of sense and information. A summer morning and an open window were temptations which it could not resist; it flew away; and Reynolds roamed for hours about the square where he resided in hopes of reclaiming it.
His rest was invaded by other disturbers than blindness: the evil spirit of politics appeared in the Literary Club, and made discord among the brethren; and, what was worse, a fierce feud broke out be. tween Sir Joshua and the Royal Academy. Reynolds wished, through the persuasion of the Earl of Aylesford, to obtain the chair of perspective for Bonomi, an Italian architect; but as he did not belong to the Academy, it was necessary that he should be elected an associate, and then a member, before he could be proposed as professor. At the election for associate the numbers were equal for Bonomi and Gilpin ; the President gave his casting vote for the former, and thus put him one step in the way towards the professor's chair. A member soon after died, and the architect was put in nomination along with Fuseli. Reynolds exerted all his influence to secure the election of the first as royal academician; he met with unexpected opposition. His zeal in behalf of Bonomi had been too apparent; he had pushed him by his influence faster forward than some thought his talents entitled him to, and had transgressed a formal rule .by producing some drawings made by the Italian Fuseli was elected by a majority of two to one, and Sir Joshua quitted the chair deeply offended. Nor was this all; he