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he made one secretly for himself, and giving a signal from his window, lowered it by a strmg to two or three knowing boys, who found a purchaser at a reduced price, and spent the money with the young artist. A common tap-room was an indifferent school of manners, whatever it might be for painting, and there this gifted lad was now often to be found late in the evening, carousing with hostlers and potboys, handing round the quart pot, and singing his song or cracking his joke.
His father, having found out the contrivance by which he raised money for this kind of revelry, adopted, in his own imagination, a wiser course. He resolved to make his studies as pleasant to him as he could; and as George was daily increasing in fame and his works in price, this could be done without any loss. He indulged his son, now some sixteen years old, with wine, pampered his appetite with richer food, and moreover allowed him a little pocket-money to spend among his companions, and purchase acquaintance with what the vulgar call life. He dressed him, too, in a style of ultra-dandyism, and exhibited him at his easel to his customers, attired in a green coat with very long skirts, and immense yellow buttons, buckskin breeches, and top-boots with spurs. He permitted him too to sing wild songs, swear grossly, and talk about any thing he liked with such freedom as makes anxious parents tremble. With all these indulgences the boy was not happy; he aspired but the more eagerly after full liberty and the unrestrained enjoyment of the profits of his pencil.
During this feverish period he was introduced to Reynolds, obtained permission to copy some of his works, and began to be very generally noticed as an artist of no common promise. His father was his constant companion when he went out a-copying: more, it is said, though it can scarcely be believed, with the intention of seizing upon his productions. than with the desire of preserving him from loose associates, or the charms of the tap-room. He went to copy the painting of Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy in the gallery of Mr. Angerstein, at Blackheath; and the proprietor, a man of taste, and a lover of art, desired to view the work in its progress. The elder Morland declared that his son George had refused to begin his copy till it was promised that no one should overlook him, and that he should act in the house as he thought proper. This coarse arrogance was submitted to—young Morland refused all invitations to mix with the family of Angerstein—he descended to the servants' hall—emptied his flagon—cracked his wild jest, and was exceedingly happy.
How he escaped from the thraldom of his father has been related by Hassell and by Smith; and aa they contradict each other, I shall rehearse both accounts. The former, who knew Morland well, says, that "he was determined to make his escape from the rigid confinement which paternal authority had imposed upon him; and, wild as a young quadruped that had broke loose from his den, at length, though late, effectually accomplished his purpose." "Young George was of so unsettled a disposition," says Smith, "that his father, being fully aware of his extraordinary talents, was determined to force him to get his own living, and gave him a guinea, with something like the following observation: 'I am determined to encourage your idleness no longer j there—take that guinea, and apply to your art and support yourself.' This Morland told me, and added, that from that moment he commenced and continued wholly on his own account." It would appear by Smith's relation, that our youth, instead of supporting his father, had all along been depending on his help; this, however, contradicts not only Hassell, but Fuseli also, who, in his edition of Pilkington's Dictionary, accuses the elder Morland of meanly and avariciously pocketing the whole profits of his son's productions.
In the seventeenth year of his age he left his father's house, with his easel, his palette, his pencils —and dressed in his favourite green coat and topboots. "He was in the very extreme of foppish puppyism,'.' says Hassell, "his head, when ornamented according to his own taste, resembled a snow-ball, after the model of Tippy Bob, of dramatic memory, to which was attached a short thick tail, not unlike a painter's brush." Thus accomplished and accoutred, with little money in his pocket, and a large conceit of himself, he made an excursion to Margate, with the twofold purpose of enjoying life and painting portraits. His skill of hand was great—his facility, it is said, wondrous; while his oddity of dress, his extreme youth, and the story of his early studies attracted curiosity and attention—and sitters came—the wealthy and the beautiful. But the painter loved low company—all that was polished or genteel was the object of his implacable dislike. He had nut patience to finish any portrait that he commenced, nor the prudence to conceal his scorn of his betters. The man who could leave wealthy sitters to join in the amusement of a pig, an ass, or a smock race, was not likely to have such patrons long; and Morland returned to London with a dozen of unfinished portraits, on which he had received little or no money.
A well-known nobleman had heard of Morland's talents, and now commissioned him to paint a few pictures, for which he provided the subjects. This is a sort of drudgery which genius, if it consults its dignity, will seldom submit to; but when the subjects are "not particularly distinguished for their purity"—these are the words of Hassell—the commissions ought to be rejected with indignant loathing. To those commissions the biographer now cited hesitates not to impute that "particular distaste which he ever after evinced for the society of virtuous women;" and discovers in them " a reason why so striking a resemblance to the frail sisterhood is found in the female subjects which occur in some of his productions." Let his lordship answer for real and not imaginary sins. Morland had moved too long in gross company to leave the honour of polluting his mind to any one of the peerage. He had become ere this the boon companion of hostlers, potboys, horse-jockeys, money-lenders, pawnbrokers, punks, and pugilists. With these comrades he roamed the streets and made excursions by land and water; the ribald jest, the practical joke, and scenes coarse and sensual, formed long ere now the staple of his life.
Amid all this wildness and dissipation, his name was still rising. He valued his pencil as the means of acquiring not distinction, but the gold wherewith to charm away creditors and liquidate tavern bills. The pictures which he dashed off according to the craving of the hour, are numerous and excellent. They are all fac-similes of low nature—graphic copies of common life—their truth is their beauty, and if they have any thing poetical about them, it lies in the singular ease and ruminating repose which is the reigning character of many. Pigs and asses were his chief favourites; and if he had stolen them, or dealt in them, as one of his rustic admirers declared, he could not have painted them better. The sheep on the hill, the cattle in the shade, and the peasant superintending the economy of the barnyard, the piggery, or the cow-house, shared also largely in his regard. He was likewise skilful in landscape—not in that combination of what is lovely or grand, over which a poetical mind sheds a splendour that anticipates paradise; but in close, dogged fidelity, which claims the merit of looking like some known spot where pigs prowl, cattle graze, or asses browse. At this period he lodged in a neat house at Kensall Green, on the road to Harrow, and was frequently in the company of Ward, the painter, whose example of moral steadiness was exhibited to him in vain.
While he resided at Kensall Green, he fell in love with Miss Ward—a young lady of beauty and modesty—and soon afterward married her; she was the sister of his friend the painter; and to make the family union stronger, Ward sued for the hand of Maria Morland, and in about a month after his sister's marriage obtained it. In the joy of this double union, the brother artists took joint possession of a tolerable house in High Street, Mary-le-bone. Morland suspended for a time his habit of insobriety, discarded the social comrades of his laxer hours, and imagined himself reformed. But discord broke out between the sisters concerning the proper division of rule and authority in the house; and Morland, whose partner's claim perhaps was the weaker, took refuge in lodgings in Great Portland Street. His passion for late hours and low company, restrained through courtship and the honey-moon, now broke out with the violence of a stream which had been dammed in rather than dried up. It was in vain that his wife entreated and remonstrated— his old propensities prevailed; and the postboy, the pawnbroker, and the pugilist were summoned again to his side, no more to be separated.
Before the rupture of his brotherhood, Ward made some engravings from the pictures of Morland, which obtained the notice of Raphael Smith, an engraver of talent and enterprise, who knew the town, and felt the value, and foresaw the popularity of those productions. Under his directions Morland painted many pictures from familiar scenes of life; Smith engraved them with considerable skill, the prints had a sale rapid beyond example, and nothing stood between the painter and fortune but his own indiscretion. "Those works," says Hassell, "showed