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style of design is more grand, more consistent, and more poetical than any other person's among us." His admiration, however, was not always so well placed; he praised the Achilles and Patroclus of Hamilton, for which he was rebuked by some of thp elder brethren of the brush. He gave them a tasting of his spirit in two or three sarcastic sentences, in which he vindicated his right to freedom of opinion. They shrugged their shoulders, looked to one another, were irritated, and were silenced.
Barry pursued his studies in London for a year. The presence and the society of Burke awed down the natural sharpness of his temper, and in his company he began to practise the courtesies of polished life, and appeared in a dress becoming the station to which he aspired. He had already determined to be an historical painter. The true nature of that style could never, in the opinion of Reynolds, be ascertained, without a visit to the Sistine Chapel; but such a pilgrimage could not be accomplished by one so poor as Barry, and he was in despair—when Burke generously interposed, fitted him out for his journey, and settled an annual pension upon him during the period of probationary study.
On his way through France, he admired and copied the Alexander drinking the Potion, by La Sueur, and visited the Academy of St. Luke, on which he remarks to Burke, "I don't like an academy; it is a thing, which, wherever it is founded, will, I think, bring the arts into contempt, and, consequently, to destruction. We have two of them here; there are such mobs of blackguards go every night to acquire a trade there, as is enough to shock any one who has the least regard for the art. People send their children to make them painters and statuaries, without learning or genius, or indeed any thing else, 'only because it is less expensive than making them peruquiers or shoemakers." With better sense, he continues, "drawing and modelling in the academy, with the assistance of a master, is not likely to mislead any one, and must be useful to men of real genius." He was so much charmed with the people and the scenery of Bur gundy,that he stopped at an inn and wrote to Burke "We may talk as much as we please about cultivation and plenty; but I must honestly confess, 1 never before saw any thing but the faint glimmerings of it, compared with this land, where nature seems ambitious of doing every thing for herself. The people, who are extremely numerous, are, for the most part, amply employed in the gathering and storing of fruits. Methinks, without any great poetic license, it is somewhat probable, when Bacchus made his rounds of the earth, that his head-quarters must have been in one of the valleys of Burgundy, where, on every Side, mountain peeps over mountain, and appears clothed in the varied hues of the vine, interspersed with sheep and corn. This, and the crowds of busy contented people, who cover the whole face of the country, make a strong but melancholy contrast to a miserable isle which 1 cannot help thinking of sometimes—you will not be at a los^s to know that I mean Ireland."
At Rome Barry found letters awaiting him, containing the agreeable assurance that his Alexandei and the Potion, which he had presented to Burke, was pronounced by Reynolds correct in drawing, and in expression just and noble. In the lustre of colouring Barry never excelled, and the President was silent concerning that matter; he counselled, however, the constant study of Michael Angelo; to the Sistine Chapel the young painter hastened accordingly; and the following are some of his observations. "The deep knowledge of the ancients in anatomy is, I think, as observable in the Apollo and the Antinous, as it is in the Laocoon and the Torso, whose flesh is of a more rigid texture; and the dis appearing of the muscles as the figure approaches the delicate, is the consequence of as certain observations and principles as their introduction would be in a figure of a different character. The knowledge, freedom and greatness of style in drawing, are, I think, the only part of the character of Michael Angelo which has been well understood. It has been, and is every day observed, that notwithstanding the number of figures in the Last Judgment, there is but one character of body placed in a vast diversity of attitudes, the model of which is said to have been his porter. It is not so literally the case, though I believe he might have intended it, in conformity to a prevailing opinion that at the resurrection all bodies will be of the same age and character. I do not think the expressions of countenance, either in him or in Raphael, indicate in a very elear and particular manner, the intentions and state of mind of the persons to whom this countenance is given."
His letters, his conversation, his skill in drawing, his enthusiasm and poetic imagination, had raised high expectations in the minds of English friends. They thought with satisfaction of the lich opportunities now before him, and of the use such a man must make of them—but unfortunately controversy was his chief delight; and of thi" he soon found enough to satisfy a whole academy. It happened that Rome, at this period, was visited by one of those gentlemen who, with a little income, a little learning, a little knowledge of art and a full capacity for speech, wander from gallery to gallery, delivering opinions upon works of genius with a confidence which passes with the world for the offspring of refined taste and profound knowledge. Against thTs person the Irish impetuosity of Barry precipitated him at once. "As he is a man of great civility," thus he writes to Burke, "I never would have thought of contradicting him, had I not seen clearly into the drift and tendency of his frequent hints of the incapacity of the people at home, and that a nod from him would set his dependents to tear up and trample on every thing we hold sacred. Reynolds could not draw—his colouring was white, was blue, was red, was every thing that would damn him; he stole what he had, and mangled what he stole. Gainsborough's landscapes were mere nosegays; and West, who was so much the fashion, afforded a convincing proof that drawing was not sought after, and that a true idea of art was Wanting."
To confute such a sweeping censurer as this, Barry could bring knowledge and sense; but he was deficient in that courtesy and graciousness of manner which takes the sting out of contradiction. He was vehement, and he was incensed: nor did he seek to conceal his indignation; the consequences are clearly described by his own pen:—"I had no sooner attempted to excuse our artists from these aspersions—but I was immediately pointed out as a person who, not coinciding with the designs of the dealers, might be dangerous in the company 01 English cavaliers, where it was necessary every now and then to run out into the praises of an indifferent antique head, with a modern body and legs cobbled to it, or of an old picture, which they christen in the name of this or that master, and which has no other merit but that—as nothing is visible, nothing can be objected to it. As the English have much money to lay out in virtu, and as they have perhaps a greater passion for the ancients than they have, generally speaking, judgment to distinguish among them, those in whose hands they fall here, and to whom their commissions are sent, take care to provide heads with bodies and legs, and vice versd. Fragments of all the gods are jumbled together, legs and heads of fairies and graces, till a monster is produced. Though for the most part intrigue and mercenary ways are prevalent here, truth is never without a witness."
All this was honest, intrepid, and imprudent. His fame was yet to make, and his character was much in those men's power, and he was made to feel it. Sly old antiquarians cunningly inveigled him into conversation, and exhibited him to the English travellers, as, heated with controversy, he threw his sarcasms, rignt and left, among all who sold and all who purchased busts without heads, and daubings of the dark masters. This consumed his time, took his attention from study, and invaded that tranquillity of mind which is so necessary for all noble pursuits. In the midst of these distractions, a long and friendly letter from Sir Joshua Reynolds sought to reclaim him from disputation, and bind him heartily to Michael Angelo and Raphael. "If you should not relish their works at first," said the President, " which may probably be the case, as they have none of those qualities which are eaptivating at first sight, never cease looking till you find something like inspiration come over you, till you think every other painter insipid in comparison, and to be admired only for petty excellencies."
Barry failed to discover in the compositions of these illustrious masters the entire proportion, and grace, and simplicity of the Grecian sculpture. He was too ardent in his nature to keep this belief to himself; he preached this unheard-of heresy in Rome, with the fervour of a devotee; and thus unbosomed himself to Burke. "I see," he said," in no part of Raphael's works any figure that I may call truly and correctly beautiful, like the Antinous, or the Venus of Medici; or any that is truly good, like the bust of Alexander; or sublime, like the Apollo. As to the Torso, the Laocoon, and such like characters, he appears not at all qualified to succeed in them. As to his cartoons and his pictures in the Vatican, they may be more expressive