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race ; they formed their own conclusions, and in an inroad on the painter's establishment ferreted out about £400, and carried the money clear off. The public were astonished to hear of the extent of his loss; and their astonishment increased when Barry, in a formal placard, exculpated common thieves, and attributed his loss to the thirty-nine members of the Royal Academy. The nephews of Timothy Hollis, John Hollis, and Hollis Edwards, sent him at this juncture a present of £50: it is pleasant to see benevolence descend like an inheritance.
Barry was in his fifty-first year when Sir Joshua Reynolds, full of years and fame, was removed from the world. For a long course of years they had lived in hostility; but in the contest the former alone had been the sufferer. Admiration of the antique, and of Michael Angelo, had brought Barry to a steak broiled with his own hands, and a pot of porter drawn by a suspicious publican. The theory which led him to this was not more his own than the President's; but this only made matters worse: he looked upon Reynolds as a voluntary traitor to the great cause—as a renegade to the principles which he advocated and taught; and he openly upbraided him with a mean love of gain in following the lucrative trade of portraiture. The friends of Reynolds replied, that this was the only line of art in which a painter could live like a gentleman, and that his performances were more than mere likenesses—that they partook very largely of the great historic style, and exhibited, in short, an English application of the principles of Michael Angelo. Barry, for a long time, closed his eyes on this ingenious theory, and continued his reproaches; but it is pleasing to be told, as we are by Dr. Fryer, that "for several years before Sir Joshua's death this hostility had ceased; that they had at length the good sense and candour to acknowledge each other's deserts, and were not a little chagrined that any misunderstanding' should ever have clouded their free intercourse."
On the death of Reynolds, Barry came to the Academy and pronounced a glowing eulogium upon him as a man and an artist. This change astonished many, hut it was consistent with his character: he was of an open and generous nature, easily kindled into anger, not difficult to appease, and liable, like most violent men, to those sudden revulsions of feeling which surprise friends and perplex biographers. His eloquence was rewarded: the niece of Sir Joshua, the Marchioness of Thomond, made him a present of her uncle's painting-chair—it was borne home in triumph to Castle Street, and a letter of thanks addressed to the lady, in which he compared the gift with the celebrated chair of Pindar, which was shown so many years in the porch of Olympia. With better feeling he reflected that it had been instrumental in "perpetuating the negligent honest exteriors of the authors of the Rambler and the Traveller;" and that it had been pressed "by Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse;" and concluded by declaring, that in him it should find a reverential conservator while God permitted it to remain under his care.*
Barry, having obtained what (with his notions and habits) amounted to independence, employed his time much to his own liking: he had long indulged the wish to paint the Progress of Theology—and lus famous picture of Pandora was the commencement of the series. He begun these designs soon after the completion of the Adelphi pictures—they were often set aside, and again resumed—disappointment by degrees laid a chilling hand upon him —and he was visited too by those misgivings of
* On the death of Barry, this celebrated chair found its way, after a variety of fortune, into the hands of an auctioneer, whose hammer at length consigned it to a safe and suitable sanctuary—the studio oX Sii rhumas Lawrence
spirit to which the sons of genius are peculiarly heirs. The Progress of the Mosaic Doctrines, however, was sketched; and something like the first conceptions for the pieces designed to imbody the coming of our Saviour could be traced at his death among the chaos of his papers. Of a great work thus imperfectly shadowed out, who can give any account? Rude sketches may indicate the main purpose and aim, but these are liable to such changes in the execution, that a finished work rarely corresponds with the original design.
At intervals, whUe this undertaking was his regular task, he sought refreshment in the pleasures of controversy, and wrote and published his celebrated Letter to the Dilettanti Society. In this work— which is neither commendable in aim nor temperate in language—he imbodied almost all his disputes with mankind collectively and individually. After describing the leading principles of national art— the objects which the Royal Academy had been instituted to accomplish, and the purposes to which their money, as well as their energies, ought to be directed—Barry plunged into the actual conduct of the Academy's affairs—denounced private combinations and jealousies—asserted that the funds were dissipated by secret intrigues—and, as a finishing touch to this picture of weakness and corruption, proposed, seriously to all appearance, that whenever the judgment of the body was appealed to, the honest vote of each member should be secured by oath!
On the appearance of this bitter diatribe in 1797, the whole Academy, with the exception of Joseph Nollekens, declared war against the Professor of Painting. That Barry should have lost his temper can surprise no one; but that a public body, composed of the assembled talent in art of a great nation, should have lost temper too, must reiuain a matter of surprise to all: yet so it happened. The whole Academy was in commotion—Farington read aloud the Letter to the Dilettanti Society—information of peisonal irregularities was given by Messrs. Dance and Daniell—and Wilton, a sculptor, and at that period Keeper, imbo'died the charges in compliance with the direction of the committee. They accused James Barry of making digressions in his lectures, in which he abused members of the Academy—the dead as well as the living; of teaching the students habits of insubordination, and countenancing them in licentious and disorderly behaviour; of charging the Academy with voting in pensions among themselves sixteen thousand pounds, which should have been laid out for the benefit of the students; and, finally, of having spoken unhandsomely of the President, Benjamin West.
With the haste of artger, the Academy proceeded to act upon these charges. The accused was allowed no copy of the indictment—was permitted to say nothing in explanation or defence—was formally degraded from his station of Professor—and expelled the Academy, nay, that nothing might be wanting to prove to the world the severities which public bodies can with impunity commit,—the sanction of the King had been obtained to all these proceedings—before it was communicated to Barry that his name was for ever removed from the roll of academicians. These measures, which will always be pronounced by far too precipitate, sounded, at the time, about as strangely in ears unaccustomed to the bickerings and animosities which prevail in most corporate bodies, as poor Barry's own wild extravagance, when he classed the academicians with thieves and house-breakers—and imagined his person and property the object of professional conspiracies.
His friends flattered themselves that he was now done with debates—and would at length find leisure to finish those great works in which he had made gome progress. In order that he might be secured against want, and to repair the loss of the thirty pounds a year of which his brethren had so ungracefully, if not unjustly, deprived him, they proposed to gather such a sum by subscription as would purchase a decent annuity. It was at this time of distress that the late Earl of Buchan, among others, stood forward in Barry's behalf. This nobleman desired to be thought public director in all matters of poetry and painting in Scotland. He spent his long life in speaking kind words, writing encouraging letters, and dispensing patronising looks to all who had visited the Vatican, or were found loitering about the nether regions of Parnassus. On this occasion he stirred himself more than was his wont, and astonished many by publicly subscribing ten pounds; he also interceded with the Society of Arts, and applied to many who thought favourably of Barry's talents. I wish he had done no more. He praised the set of proof engravings which Barry sent in a present to Dryburgh—fell in love with others which were in London—longed to possess an "easel picture" as a memorial of friendship—condescended to name the picture he particularly affected, The Interview of Milton with Elwood the Quaker—and, finally, requested in addition a proof engraving from the Birth of Pandora. The painter pleased with ali this condescension, sent a sketch of his Milton to the noble speculator in subscriptions; and the "easel picture" would have followed—but that hand was soon to be laid upon Barry which has recently fallen on his disinterested patron.