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than in the loftiest epic. We are satiated with the clangor of the trumpet, and long for the breathing of the lute; and were the whole earth planted with roses of Sharon and lilies of the valley, such is the desire of human nature for variety, that we would grow weary of walking amid perfume, and sigh foi the thistle and the daisy, the harebell and the heather. The monotony which the artist recommends, though a monotony of excellence, would tire us at last. We would long for humbler things—for scenes in which all could sympathize—for fireside looks and familiar faces.
Having disposed of all inferior painters, cunning connoisseurs, and tricky antiquarians, he turned t<r the religion of the land, with some bitterness. "Where religion," says he, " is affirmative and extended, it gives a loose and an enthusiasm to man's fancy, which throws a spirit into the air and manners, and stamps a diversity, life-quickness, sensibility, and expressive significance, over every thing they do. In another place, religion is more negative and contented: being formed in direct opposition to the first, its measures are regulated accordingly: much pains are taken to root out and remove every thing that gives wing to the imagination, and so to regulate the outward man by a to'pid inanimate composure, gravity, and indifference, that it may attend to nothing but the mere acts of necessity, every thing else being reputed idle and vain. Men so formed had as few words as buttons; the tongue spoke almost without moving the lips; and the circumstances of a murder were related with as little emotion as an ordinary mercantile transaction. Some kinds of religion appear to be the graves of art, of genius, of sensibility, and of all the finer and more spiritual parts of the human faculties: othei religions have been the nurse and the mother of them; they have embraced all the arts: poetry, painting, music' trchitectnve- and every effort of ingenuity were employed in giving a force and a furtherance to their views."
Barry looked upon the Pope as a President, and upon the Romish church as the Queen of Academies. To an ardent proselyte of the Catholic system, painting appeared a lawful auxiliary; and as an artist he was willing to believe it a most efficient one: but he spoke like a painter, though he spoke with much knowledge, for he had considered every subject which art either aids or adorns.
Dissertations on the fine arts were uncommon; popular affection had not been so fully awakened as to enable the multitude to understand and feel the importance of this memorable work. It had the . repulsive aspect of a controversial treatise; and was coldly received by all, save a coterie of artists and antiquarians, who were stung by its satiric energy. I am afraid I must impute to this production, in some degree at least, the ultimate estrangement of his best and greatest friend. It was no longer "my dear Barry" and your "faithful friend, Edmund Burke:" correspondence was carried on through the frosty medium of the third person, and there was now no overflowing warmth either of affection or advice. A sort of diplomatic civility took the place of kindness; and Barry had to learn the melancholy task of addressing an old and tried friend in the language of mere acquaintance. To continue on intimate terms with one so fierce of nature, it was necessary to become his partisan: he expected those who loved him should share his griefs, and resent whatever he thought worthy of resentment. To become Barry's friend, was like being a second in a duel of old, when both principals and seconds drew their swords and fought the quarrel out. Into disputes with a rich and influential body of men, Burke was likely to be slow in precipitating himself: he felt that his friend Reynolds was a sufferer from the pen and tongue of Barry, and he was glad to retire to such a distance as gave liiu the power to remain neuter in these unhappy contests. Intercourse, both personally and by letter, continued between them: it never more resumed the affectionate cordiality of earlier years.
A gradual change had taken place both in the person and the temper of Barry. He neglected his dress, lived sullenly and alone, and held intercourse with few of those men who influence the fame and fortune of artists. He seemed ever in a revery, out of which he was unwilling to be roused. The history of his life is the tale of splendid works contemplated and seldom begun—of theories of art, exhibiting the confidence of genius and learning— and of a constant warfare, waged against a coterie of connoisseurs, artists, and antiquarians, whoruled the realm of taste. The high distinction which he claimed, as follower of the grand style, rendered it necessary, he imagined, that he should vindicate his title. To think and to act were matters of the same moment with one so enthusiastic. He determined to offer his pencil to the Society of Arts; and applied for permission to adorn their great room with a series of historical paintings, all from his own hand, and wholly at his own expense. WheD he made this magnificent offer, he had but sixteen shillings in his pocket, and was aware that, if it were accepted, he must have to steal time from sleep to supply him with the means of life. He was willing to lie hard, live mean, and dress coarsely, with the hope of being heard of hereafter: he was truly one of those ardent spirits who hunger and thirst after distinction, and whom the narrow and the sordid reproach, as idle dreamers and fantastic enthusiasts. "I thought myself bound," he says, "in duty to the country, to art, and to my own character, to try whether my abilities would enable me to exhibit the proof as well as the argument." The Society gave prompt rjermission: he stipulated for
nothing but the free exercise of his own judgment, free admission at all times to his undertaking, and that the necessary models should be provided for him without expense.
He had now "ample room and verge enough" to exhaust his powers of imagination, and exhibit all his knowledge and skill. The subject which he selected for illustration was Human Improvement —presenting a succession of varied pictures ot society. He divided the whole into six compartments. "We begin," said the artist, describing his own conceptions, "with man in a savage state, full of inconvenience, imperfection, and misery, and we follow him through several gradations of culture and happiness, which, after our probationaiy state here, are finally attended with beatitude or misery. The first is the story of Orpheus; the second, a Harvest-home or Thanksgiving to Ceres and Bacchus; the third, the Victors at Olympia; the fourth, Navigation, or the Triumph of the Thames; the fifth, the Distribution of Premiums in the Society of Arts; and the sixth, Elysium, or the State of final Retribution. Three of these subjects are poetical; the others historical." He commenced these works in 1777, and finished them in 1783. A short description may not be unacceptable.
The first picture represents Orpheus as the founder of Grecian civilization, uniting in one character the legislator, divine, philosopher, poet, and musician. He stands in a wild and savage country, surrounded by people as uncultivated as their soil, to whom, as messenger of the gods, he is pouring out his song of instruction, accompanied by the music of the lyre. The hearers of this celestial delegate are armed with clubs, and clad in the skins of wild beasts; they have courage and strength, by which they subdue lions and tigers; but they want wisdom for their own protection and for that of their offspring. In illustration of this, a matron is seen, at a little distance from the door of her hut, milking a goat, while her children are about to become the prey of a lion; two horses are run down by a tiger and a damsel, carrying a dead fawn, leans on the shoulder of her male companion. "I wished to glance," said the painter, "at a matter often observed by travellers, which is, that the value and estimation of women increase according to the growth and cultivation of society, and that among savage nations they are in a condition little better than the beasts of burden." In the distance, Ceres descends on the world; and by the side of Orpheus lie paper, an egg, a bound lamb, and materials for sacrifice.
The second piece exhibits a dance of youths and maidens round the terminal figure of Pan. On one side appears the father of the harvest feast, with a white staff or rustic sceptre in his hand, accompanied by his wife; on the other is a group of' peasants, carousing amid rakes and ploughs, and fruits and flowers; while behind the whole, two oxen are seen drawing a load of corn to the threshing-floor. Ceres, Bacchus and Pan overlook from the clouds this scene of innocent festivity. A farm-house, with all its in-door and out-door economy is there. Love, too, and marriage mingle in the scene: children abound; rustic games are not forgotten; and aged men repose on the ground, applauding sports in which they can no longer participate.
The third picture, the crowning of the victors in the Olympian games, shows the judges seated on a throne, bearing the likenesses of Solon, Lycurgus and other legislators, and trophies of Salamis, Marathon, and Thermopylae. Before them pass the victors crowned; people are crowding to look on them. The heroes, poets, sages, and philosophers of Greece are present. Pindar leads the chorus: Hiero, of Syracuse, follows in his chariot: Diagorus, the Rhodian, is borne round the stadium on tha