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that he had a wonderful facility in seizing those propitious coincidences—those light, ornamental, and minute proprieties and graces, which contribute such an ample store to the genuine stock of original composition of consummate art. The harmonious combination of his back grounds, his drapery, ever natural and decorous, without confusion or perplexity; his children, also, his sheep, his horses, his pigs, and all the appendages of the rural landscape, including every other department of picturesque scenery, are still classed among the finest of modern productions, are still objects of imitation to young students, and are still considered and exhibited by the best judges and patrons of the fine arts, as most remarkably neat, correct, and elegant views of nature."
In those days, before folly had entirely fixed him for her own, Morland loved to visit the Isle of Wight, and some of his best pictures are copied from scenes upon the coast. A rocky shore—an agitated surffishermen repairing their nets and careening their boats, or disposing of their fish, generally formed part of his pictures. He was ever ready too to join them in their labour, and more so in the mirth and carousal which followed. A friend once found him at Freshwater-gate, in a low public-house called The Cabin. Sailors, rustics, and fishermen were seated round him in a kind of ring, the rooftree rung with laughter and song; and Morland, with manifest reluctance, left their company for the conversation of his friend. "George," said his monitor, "you must have reasons for keeping such company." "Reasons, and good ones," said the artist, laughing, " see, where could I find such a picture of life as that, unless among the originals of The Cabin?" He held up his sketch-book and showed a correct delineation of the very scene in which he had so lately been the presiding spirit. One of his best pictures contains this fac-simile of the tap-room with its guests and furniture
The early management of his father had made the whole swarm of picture-dealers, cleaners, and copiers acquainted with Morland's value, and, what was far more unfortunate, had let them into the secret of his personal tastes. They knew his love of low company, his delight in the bottle, and his desire to enjoy the passing moment, whatever expense it might incur; and some of them were ever at his elbow to lay down the gold for present pleasures, upon the understanding that the pencil should clear off the debt. His absurd aversion to decent company naturally aided the views of those sordid miscreants; they applauded his vulgar prejudice as true independence, and pushed about the jest, apparently at the expense of " the fine people," but really and truly at the cost of the unhappy Morland, who sat in idea sole monarch of the realm of free and unshackled art. These wretches affected a vice to which they were strangers; they put on the aspect of prodigality, and with the determination in their hearts of exacting a bitter per-centage for this condescension, accompanied him on his country excursions, made up his drinking parties, and attended at his painting-room with a purse in one hand and a bottle in the other. "It frequently happened," observes one of his biographers, " when a picture had been bespoke by one of his friends, who advanced some of the money to induce him to work, if the purchaser did not stand by to see it finished, and carry it away with him, some other person, who was lurking within sight for that purpose, and knew the state of Morland's pocket, by the temptation of a few guineas laid upon the table, carried off the pic ture. Thus all were served in their turn; and though each exulted in the success of the trick when he was so lucky as to get a picture in this easy way, they all joined in exclaiming against Morland's want of honesty in not keeping his promises to them."
Those honest sufferers were not without their remedy. The picture which they purchased for five guineas sold readily for twenty; one guinea's worth of liquor was often repaid by a sketch which brought ten; and if that was insufficient, they employed some dexterous and unprincipled limner to make fac-similes of the most popular of Morland's works, which they found people rich enough and ignorant enough to buy as originals. "I once saw," says Hassell, "twelve copies from a small picture of Morland's at one time in a dealer's shop, with the original in the centre; the proprietor of which, with great gravity and unblushing assurance, inquired if I could distinguish the difference." With reptiles such as these, genius ought never to come into communion; it must be confessed, however, that Morland was not incommoded in his intercourse with them by any over-righteous notions as to money matters. In the course of the years 1790, 1791, and 1792, when his cleverest pictures were painted, the admiring dealers swarmed round him with offers of pecuniary assistance to any amount. George put his hands into their pockets without the least ceremony. He was a joyful borrower, and took whatever was offered without scruple or hesitation. He made no nice distinctions; for he accepted from all, and he held out to all the pleasing prospect of sevenfold remuneration from the pencil.
The evil consequences of all this required no prophetic spirit to foretel. It was in vain that his wife, a woman of sense and beauty, endeavoured to reclaim him; equally vain was the interposition of his friends; who were only laughed at when they assured him that a life of unmeasured conviviality, and haoits of incalculable profusion, must injure his skill of hand and his capacity of intellect, and immure him, sooner or later, in a prison. His fine constitution triumphed for a time over the ordinary results of debauchery, and his knowledge of the town and active adroitness in avoiding tipstaffs kept him long from acquaintance with the jail. It is proVol. II.—B
bable, indeed, that those to whom he was indebted were more willing to alarm him than actually take his liberty from him; they knew that confinement could not hasten the payment, that the estate out of which their money was to come was of the mind; and, what was equally serious, it could be turned over to a new swarm of dealers in pictures, who would inherit all their profits.
Having received an invitation from Claude Lor raine Smith, a gentleman of Leicestershire, he suddenly vanished from the constant watchfulness of these creditors, carrying with him a trusty friend and five-bottle debauchee, whose neglect of the toilet had obtained him the name of Dirty Brookes. His entertainer, an artist himself and an encourager of art, was also wealthy and hospitable, and Morland was received with great kindness; even Dirty Brookes was an object of attention and solicitude. It is true, that the artist, in the midst of Mr. Smith's company, was sometimes heard to sigh for the rougher freedom of the ale-house, and lamented to his bosom friend that so much good wine should be drunk without loud mirth and merry song, and in accordance with an etiquette distressing to the convivial notions of hostlers and pugilists. He found some consolation, perhaps, in accompanying Mr Smith to the fox-chase, or at least in the conviviality which at evening rewarded the devotees of that rough pastime; and it is reported that both he and Dirty Brookes regained the reputation which they lost by day in the chase, through their prowess over the bottle by night. He found time, however, to make some sketches of Leicestershire scenery, which he afterward wrought into pictures.
His sudden disappearance from London excited general alarm in the whole righteous race of picture-dealers; no one knew what had become of him, and a waggish companion insinuated that he was gone to France. Some of those men had advanced money on bespoke pictures; others had paid money upon works begun, and the interest of the whole was concerned: it would be only misleading the reader to say that Morland felt at all anxious respecting them. To him the completion of such commissions was a matter of total indifference; he knew that these patrons had doomed him to constant slavery, that they merely looked upon him as an engine which augmented their incomes, and of which they had only to keep the wheels oiled. When he reappeared, the gloom passed from their looks, and they hastened to share in the spoils arising from his paintings of the scenery of Leicestershire.
Yet wild and imprudent as he was, and sunk in almost constant debauchery, his skill seemed only to augment, and his rapidity of execution to increase. Indolence cannot be ranked among his sins. Pleasure he found could not be purchased without money; his companions were not the folioweis of an empty purse, and even Dirty Brookes himself, who fell a sacrifice in sharing Morland's excesses, was more moderate in his mirth when he was in danger of settling the reckoning from his own pocket. To get money, it was necessary to work; and certainly during his brief career he wrought diligently. Four thousand pictures, and most of them of great merit, which he left to continue his name, tell us that, with the sharp sword of necessity at his back, he laboured as diligently and successfully as if he had lived in wealth and in honour.
During this period Morland lived at Paddington, where he was visited by the popular pugilists of the day, by the most eminent horse-dealers, and by his never-failing companions the picture-merchants. He was a lover of guinea-pigs, dogs, rabbits, and squirrels; he extended his affection also to asses. At one time he was the owner of eight saddle-horses, which were kept at the White Lion; and that the place might be worthy of an artist's stud, he painted