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assumed the languid air of a sentimental Corydon— exhibited artificial raptures, and revived in imagination the fading fires of his youth. Yet Mrs. Fuseli appears to have had little serious cause for jealousy in this mutual attachment.
"Between the celebrated painter and herself," says the able writer who afterward married Mary Wolstonecraft, "there existed sentiments of ge nuine affection and friendship. She saw Mr. Fusel frequently; he amused, delighted, and instmcted her. As a painter, she could not but wish to see his works, and consequently to frequent his house; she visited him; her visits were returned. Notwithstanding the inequality of their years, Ma>y was not of a temper to live upon terms of so much intimacy with a man of merit and genius without loving him. The delight she enjoyed in his society she transferred by association to his person. She had now lived for upwards of thirty years in a state of cehbacy and seclusion, and as her sensibilities were exquisitely acute, she felt this sort of banishment from social charities more painfully than persons in general are like to feel it. The sentiments which Mr. Fuseli excited in her mind taught her the secret to which she was in a manner a stranger. Let it not, however, be imagined, that this was any other than the dictate of a refined sentiment, and the simple deduction of morality and reason. It happened in the present case that Mr. Fuseli was already married; and in visiting at his house his wife became the acquaintance of Mary. Mary did not disguise from herself how desirable it would have been that the man in whom she discovered qualities calling forth all the strength of her attachment, should have been equally free with herself. But she cheerfully submitted to the empire of circumstances."
The coquetting of a married man of fifty with a tender female philosopher of thirty-one can never be an agreeable subject of contemplation; but it is
probable that Fuseli felt no disposition to abandon his wife and his duty, however culpable he may have been m permitting the commencement of a flirtation, which the authoress of "the Rights of Woman" wished to find this termination. Mrs. Fuseli, meanwhile, regarded the philandering of these originals with no easy mind. One day, when she seemed to be in a towering passion, "Sophia, my love," said her sarcastic husband, "why do n't you swear?— you do n't know how much it would ease your mind."
To ease her own mind, Mary Wolstonecraft went to France in the year 1792. "One of her principal inducements to this step," says her husband and biographer, "related, I believe, to Mr. Fuseli. Shehad at first considered it as reasonable and judicious to cultivate what I may be permitted to call a Platonic affection for him, but she did not in the sequel find all the satisfaction in this plan which she had originally expected from it. It was in vain that she enjoyed much pleasure in his society and that she enjoyed it frequently. Her ardent imagination was continually conjuring up pictures of the happiness she would have found if fortune had favoured their more intimate union. She felt herself formed for domestic affection, and all those tender charities which men of sensibility have always treated as the dearest bond of human society. General conversation and society could not satisfy her; she felt herself alone, as it were, in the great mass of her species, and she repined when she reflected that the best years of her life were spent in this comfortless solitude. These ideas made the cordial intercourse of Mr. Fuseli, which had at first been one of her' greatest pleasures, a source of perpetual torment to her. She conceived it necessary to snap the chain of this association in her mind, and for this purpose determined to seek a new climate and mingle in different scenes." It would have been as well if Philo
sophy had kept her favourite daughter at home: but I shall lift the veil no farther—those who wish to follow out the story of this strange person may consult the pages of the gentleman who could not only admire, but marry her, and when she was no more, employ the pen which wrote Caleb Williams in a detailed narrative of her crazy and vicious career.
Fuseli sought refuge from the active affection of Miss Wolstonecraft, in the absorbing studies of a new and gigantic undertaking—this was the Milton Gallery of Paintings commenced in 1790, completed in 1800, and containing in all forty-seven pictures from the works of the illustrious poet. To this high task the artist brought many high qualities; but when the doors of the Milton Gallery were opened to the world, it was seen that the genius of Fuseli was of a different order from that of Milton. To the severe serene majesty of the poet the intractable fancy of the painter had refused to bow; the awful grandeur of the realm of Perdition, and the sublime despair of its untameable Tenant, were too much for him—though he probably thought them too little. He could add fury to Moloch and malignancy to Beelzebub; but he fell below the character of terrible daring, enduring fortitude, and angelic splendour, which mark the arch-apostate of Milton. The most visible want is in that grave and majestic solemnity with which the poet has invested all that he has touched; and the chief excellences to be set against this prevailing defect are, a certain aerial buoyancy, and a supernatural glow of colour, which in some of these pieces fill the imagination of the observer, and redeem in so far the reputation of Fuseli.
Of the paintings which compose this gallery, The Lazar House is most admired by men of vertu: The rising of Satan at the touch of Ithnriel's Spear is the favourite with the multitude. Tn the fixst he showed fine taste and poetic tact, by omitting' all which could excite disgust, and by giving a mental rather than a bodily image of the poet's meaning. In the latter, he shows us our first parents asleep in the lustre of innocence, and the discovered fiend starting up in his own likeness at the touch of the celestial spear. In the Lazar House he has handled a difficult subject with wonderful skill—in the other he has successfully shown the power which he possessed above all men of giving aerial motion to his supernatural creations. In the whole compass of art there is not a lovelier or more terrific scene than this—the naked and reposing loveliness of the new created pair, and the startled and lowering looksof the audacious fiend as he rises "like a pyramid of fire," are blended into one strange but perfect harmony.
"The Night-Hag" is another noble effort of imagination—it imbodies these fine lines:
"Nor uglier follow the Night-Hag, when, called
In this picture Fuseli may almost be said to have equalled his author; yet it remained long on his hands. In 1808, when Mr. Knowles bought it, Fuseli looked earnestly at him, and said, "Young man, the picture you have purchased is one of my very best—yet no one has asked its price till now—it requires a poetic mind to feel and love such a work."
In a pecuniary point of view these pieces were unproductive; but the praise which the attempt and much of the execution obtained gratified the painter, nor was he unwilling to believe, that, like the poem which they embellished, they would have but an age of oblivion and many centuries of light. They were all visible, he said, to his fancy before he painted them. He pondered over the poet till he was fully possessed with the character of the scene) the figures which belonged to it appeared, as it were, in a vision; but he nevertheless complained of the splendour in which his fancy invested them, and declared that he could not paint up to his imagination. In comparing those splendid fictions with living nature, he was struck, he often said, with the lamentable deficiencies of the latter; yet conscious that by nature he must be tried and judged, he was heard to exclaim, in a fit of peevishness, " Damn Nature! she always puts me out." He had sometimes the curiosity to walk into the Milton Gallery after it was opened to the public, and as it was never very crowded, he could look at his works without much fear of interruption. One day a visiter accosted him, mistaking him for the keeper. "Those paintings, sir, are from Paradise Lost, I hear, and Paradise Lost was written by Milton—I have never read the poem, but I shall read it now." "I would not advise you, sir," said the sarcastic artist, "you will find it an exceedingly tough job." In the original sketch of the guardian angels forsaking our first parents after the fall, they were represented rising on wings. He looked earnestly at his sketch, and exclaimed—for he generally thought aloud—" They shall rise without wings." He tried and succeeded.
During his labours in the Milton Gallery, he obtained the friendship of the poet Cowper. Homer we have already said, was one of the gods whom Fuseli worshipped, while on our English poets, with the exception of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakspeare, and Milton, he looked with indifference or contempt. But when the author of the Task laid his hand on Homer, he rose suddenly in the estimation of Fuseli. To offer incense to his chief idol was a proof at once of belief and taste, and the learned artist volunteered to correct some passages where the translator, as he imagined, had erred in the sense, and to lend him light in other parts which the commentators had left obscure. That he was equal to all this