Letter from JAMES BARRY to THE DILETTANTI SOCIETY, written July 25, 1797, at Castle-Street, Oxford-Market

Source: LETTER TO THE DILETTANTI SOCIETY, RESPECTING The Obtention of certain Matters essentially necessary for the Improvement of Public Taste, and for accomplishing the original Views of the Royal Academy Of Great Britain. Printed for J. Walker. London. 1798.

This digital edition of Barry's Letter to the Dilettanti Society is based on the text of the first edition published in 1798. No manuscript survives. The better known second edition, along with its appendices, was published in 1799. Barry left the text for that edition largely unchanged, but where there are differences of substance between the first and second editions, they are mentioned in the footnotes. The text printed in Fryer, Works of Barry, ii. 475-600 is unreliable: it contains a number of changes to the wording and the punctuation of both previous texts, as well some omissions.

There can be little doubt that the first edition, with its repeated attacks on those who directed the Royal Academy, contributed significantly to Barry's expulsion from the Royal Academy in 1799 on the grounds that he had brought the institution into disrepute.

In the later stages of his correspondence, Barry frequently refers to this Letter to the Dilettanti Society; it stands as a kind of credo of his principles and beliefs, not only about art, but about the place of art in society, and brings to a head Barry's frustration at what he regarded as the mismanagement of the Royal Academy. As he says,'You will partly see, by what follows, how long I have laboured under the weight of this business, how far it has been carried, and through what an ordeal I have passed: my patience is now quite exhausted'.

He explained the objectives of the Letter in a lecture to his students while the book was still in the press: 'It is a Letter to the Dilettanti Society, respecting the obtention of certain matters essentially necessary for the improvement of public taste, and for accomplishing the original views of the Royal Academy of Great Britain; leaving to the wisdom and discretion of the Dilettanti Society, the proper mode of forwarding it to the King. And as I had no personal end of interest, and nothing in view but your necessary service and advancement, the reputation of the Academy, and the ultimate glory of the King and Country, I have allowed myself all the latitude of that manly and free discussion the nature of the case so pressingly required'.

The Letter reads like an 'apologia', written with a rough honesty careless of reputation or self-image. It illustrates time and again his total dedication, bordering on fanaticism, as to what he thought best for British art, as well as his disgust with those in the Academy whom he accuses of betraying their responsibilities to the nation. His commitment to the good of his students in the Academy and hence the future of British art (see note 287) strikes a moral tone reminiscent of Johnson,and looks forward to the criticism of Arnold and Eliot with its concern for tradition, for culture as the pursuit of perfection, of 'excellence', and for honest critical analysis.

The Letter enlarges our appreciation of Barry's wide ranging knowledge, evident in his letters, especially in the fields of history and religion. For example, the long note he gives on ancient civilisations (note 244) demonstrates not just his grasp of historical detail but his lively curiosity in the implications of what he knows. Likewise this Letter gives insights on many issues and people mentioned in his correspondence - the ills of patronage for instance, 'so big with delusion', extensive comments on the critic Vasari, on the painter he much admired, Giles Hussey, notably Hussey's influence on Barry's ideas for the Adelphi paintings; here we find reflections on his paintings at the Adelphi and how he wanted to improve them, his thoughts on being an Irishman in London, his convictions about liberty, his deeply held Christian faith, his admiration for Mary Wolstonecraft,'that excellent woman', his fascination with the mythological figure Minerva; all these and more add to our understanding of issues alluded to or raised in the correspondence.

Barry's prose here, as in some of the letters, is sometimes tortuous and long-winded: it moves in long and complex sentences where the point seems to be expanded and qualified as he thinks his way through a particular idea. Barry was well aware of the problems his style presented; he apologises towards the end of this Letter, 'for any slovenly neglect, laziness, or inability in the style, and in the arrangement, where things have been flung out in the hurry with which they occurred'. In he midst of this flurry he is also thinking of examples and precedents from his reading, a vast pool of which seem to rest just below the surface of what he is writing.

The Letter follows no explicit plan, yet roughly five movements are discernible, and they tend to overlap:

  • Barry opens with a defence of Sir Joshua Reynolds' ability as a colourist, in the line of Titian, which leads him to deplore the absence of master paintings and sculptures in the Academy which his students could measure Reynolds against. The need for a National Gallery to house such exemplars flows from that and he appeals to the Dilettanti Society to put the matter to the King.
  • In the short second movement, he takes the Royal Academy to task for its failures to honourably fulfil its responsibilities to the public, the 'abuse' and 'mischief' of its conduct. These have been particularly evident in its handling of public monuments to Lord Rodney, Lord Cornwallis and William Jones.
  • The third movement is a loose rambling but passionate discussion on kinds of patronage, and the ways they affect artists and their work. He calls for 'the diffusion of wealth for the public good'. Examples follow citing institutions in France and Italy, then individual cases - Leonardo Da Vinci, Giles Hussey, and Barry's own experience with the Society of Arts who supported his massive project at the Adelphi, The Progress of Human Culture. Contrary to patronage driven by vanity or ambition, the patronage shown him by the Society of Arts was creative and beneficial to society: 'The general tenour of the Society's conduct, in the carrying on of that work, has been great, exemplary, and really worthy the best age of civilised society'.
  • The fourth movement starts with reflections about his paintings at the Adelphi. He argues for the greatness of painting as a profession, its superiority to poetry, and the liberty and wisdom it brings to society. The Letter keeps returning to this theme of liberty. He focuses at the end on liberty for women in British society. The mythological figure of Minerva is central to this argument, 'she was sovereignly skilful in the art of painting in tapestry, and could employ that universal language of forms, both actual and possible'. She is a reminder that what is still wanting in British society is the proper education of women that they might fulfil their intellectual and artistic capabilities.
  • The Letter ends with thoughts again of Reynolds, a tribute to him - 'His mind was full of the idea of advancement, and pursuit of the extraordinary and grand of the Art' - and Barry's desire to raise funds to erect a monument to his memory.

As noted in the 'Introduction' to the Correspondence, a letter such as this, published for all to read, does not have a place in a corpus of private correspondence. However, it does have an intensely personal ring to it, and touches on many issues that were central to Barry's feelings and thoughts about the Academy and art during the final turbulent decade of his life. It therefore complements his correspondence as perhaps no other of his published books does.

Errors of spelling, along with eccentricities of punctuation in the printed first edition, have not been silently corrected.

Full display

Respecting the Obtention of certain Matters essentially necessary for the Improvement of public Taste, and for accomplishing the original Views of the ROYAL ACADEMY OF GREAT BRITAIN.


THOSE who go no farther than mere Dilettantiship,1 may well laugh at all the fuss about this new nostrum, this Venetian secret of Painting.2 Such a concurrence of ridiculous circumstances, so many, such gross absurdities, and such busy industrious folly, in contriving for the publicity and exposure of a quacking, disgraceful imposture, is, I believe, unparallelled in the history of the art. I should laugh too, were I not withheld by considerations for the reputation of the country, of the English School of Art, for the character of the Royal Academy, and for the fate of its poor pupils, now sent adrift to search out for themselves that true Venetian Art of Painting, which must not be taught them, as the President3 and so many of the Academicians are each of them bound (most sovereignly ridiculous) under a forfeiture of £200 to keep it secret.4 Mr. Malone too, the editor of this posthumous and complete edition of Sir Joshua Reynolds's writings:5 by what ridiculous or unlucky fatality has this publication been reserved for the very week of the opening of the Exhibition,6 in order to serve as an opportune and most eclatic7 advertisement to usher this contemptible imposture to the public notice? It is to be regretted, that the procrastination which so long withheld these papers of Sir Joshua from the public, had not been discretely extended a little further to the opening of the Exhibition, as what Mr. Malone then witnessed, even on the first day's exposure of this nostrum at the Exhibition dinner, would have saved him the - I will not give it a name, but it would have saved him from being so far over-reached as to insert the supposititious history of this contemptible quackery into his Life of Sir Joshua, with the additional egregious nonsense of a lamentation for its unfortunately having escaped his numerous researches.8 Mr. Malone ought to have been aware, that colouring was the forte of his friend; that the Infant Hercules, the Tragic Muse, the Dido, the Iphigenia,9 and many others of his pictures, afford convincing and glorious testimony that Sir Joshua well knew how to employ as much of the Venetian manner of colouring as suited his own views of the art, founded as they wisely were upon the public expectations, now near the close of the eighteenth century, which would naturally expect and demand that excellent mode of practice in colouring should now be united with the other admirable qualities and perfections of art, in which the painters of the old Venetian school were but little and poorly practised.

It would have been of much more utility to art, and to the credit, future peace, and efficiency of the Academy, had Mr. Malone inserted the notes Sir Joshua made of those disputes which occasioned his resignation of the Presidency,10 and which, after his return to it, still continued, so as to incline him to resign a second time, complaining that he felt himself restrained by a low politic combination in the Academy, which would not suffer the institution to be made of that importance and advantage to the public, which was so easy to effect with a little elevation of mind. If he had made this second resignation, as he was so inclined, and thought himself obliged to do, the whole matter of difference had been published by himself; and as he neither wanted the penetration to investigate, nor the temper to manage it, probably it would not have been the least useful of his literary productions, and would now contribute not a little to weed out that accursed evil which had given him so much trouble, and which remains still in the Academy in greater vigour than before. I feel the more concern in this matter, as it was at my entreaty this second resignation did not take place, on the night of the Council for settling the invitations to the last Exhibition-dinner before his death:11 it is wonderful that Mr. Malone, notwithstanding his knowledge of these differences, and the difficulty that he, and the other executors of Sir Joshua,12 had to prevail with this Cabal even to suffer his coffin to be laid out in the Academy on the day of his funeral:*13 it is, one cannot help observing, most strange and unnaccountable, that after all this Mr. Malone should not only have made so little mention of these differences, but that he should suffer himself to be so far misled by the cunning and plausibilities of some of the members of this very Cabal, as thus to bemire his Life of Sir Joshua, by making it serve as the advertisement to trumpet the importance of this pretended discovery, in the search of which his friend had been, as he says, all his life, labouring without effect. But it is of no avail, mere loss of time, and unwisely, unprofitably cultivating vexation, thus to trouble ourselves about what is done and passed. Better to look forward, and endeavour to obtain some preventive, that any such similar disgraceful illusion should not any more be obtruded upon the pupils of the Academy and the public; and then, after all, it will have happened well, if our recent shame, and the disgrace which must follow this pretended Venetian business in the eyes of strangers, should at last rouse and stimulate us to take some little pains in obtaining a remedy so desirable and so necessary.

No intelligent artist who has seen and studied Titian's most Giorgionesque picture of St.Mark,14in the sacristy of the church of the Salute at Venice, his Christ crowned with Thorns,15 in the sacristy at Milan (but now at Paris), and many other of his genuine, untouched, unadulterated works, can for a moment doubt or hesitate to subscribe to all that has been said respecting his suogo,16 sapidity, his flow of well-nourished, rich, harmonious colour: the landscape back-ground also of his St. Peter Martyr,17 and many of his other pictures, are fully adequate to our highest expectations from his reputation of the greatest of all landscape-painters; and it is impossible there should be any difference of opinion or hesitation about these matters at Venice. But here in London, one feels so much embarrassed to point out any thing illustrative and worthy the reputation of this great colourist, either in the way of figures or landscape, that for the most part and generally those Titianesque qualities are better sought for in the long and uninterrupted chain of the great successors of the Venetians, in Rubens, Joardans, Rembrandt, and Vandyk;18 it is often found, and in a high degree, in Reynolds and Greuze,19 and always in the finished pictures of Wilson,20 whose landscapes afford the happiest illustration of whatever there is of fascinating, rich, precious, and harmonious, in the Venetian colouring, both as to hue and arrangement. Claude,21 who was near a century later than Titian, as far as he goes, and he goes all the length in colouring, leaving his timidity and neatness out of the question, his hues and arrangement are perfectly Venetian; and leaving out also the superior dignity and vigour that always accompany whatever Wilson has done, yet, in the mere value and arrangement of tints, his works have incontrovertibly more of Claude, than, I was going to say, any thing we have to shew of Claude himself.

After a lapse of now near three hundred years, there will be no end to litigation and criticism respecting the originality of pictures. Let us but reflect upon the acknowledged inequalities and different degrees of felicity and success that unavoidably must ever be found in the works of all artists, even the greatest, and the different degrees of merit in the multitude of succeeding artists who imitated and copied them; reflect also on the calamitous intervention of the race of picture-cleaners,22 on what they necessarily take away in cleaning and lifting off the coats of varnish, that may have been occasionally and indiscretely put on in such a long tract of time, according to the whims of the several possessors; and also, what these cleaners afterwards add in the way of refreshing, restoring, and re-painting; and that, by an unavoidable unlucky fatality, it has happened that the pictures of those very artists who more peculiarly devoted themselves to the colouring part, have (as greater objects of temptation for meddlers, though more liable to be injured) more than any others fallen under the contamination of those miscreant picture-cleaners, or rather defacers, who, like a pestilential blast, sweep away every vestige of the pristine health and vigour of well-nourished tints,leaving nothing to remain but a hoary meagreness and decrepitude: all these considerations, taken together, must surely make it more eligible (in speaking of old pictures) to confine our affirmation rather to what is worthy of an ancient painter, than to what is really the work of his hand. As to that business of picture-cleaning, although it may a little interrupt the matter in hand, yet, as it may be of use to push our remarks on this picture-defacing a little farther, I, shall, as every opportunity should be laid hold of that may help to interrupt the growth and continuance of such an evil, here insert the following passage from my Lecture on Colouring, read in the Academy.23

But the picture of the Cornaro family, at Northumberland-house, has unfortunately some years since been so re-painted, that Titian and his admirers must disown it;24 and something similar is reported of Vandyk's famous picture of the Pembroke family, at Wilton.25 Surely there are some right, well-grounded claims on a celebrated work, as well as those of the proprietor: the mere purchase or possession does not give a title to the liberty of destroying it; and although the public and the lovers of art cannot interfere to prevent the possessor of an esteemed ancient work from foolishly employing picture-cleaners to deface, under the pretext of cleaning and repairing it, yet the execration of all intelligent people must inevitably follow such a procedure, in proportion to the estimation of the work thus lost to the public stock. The picture, when brought home from these cleaning defacers, appearing new, fresh, and altogether different from the state in which it was carried out; the foolish proprietor is taught to believe wonders had been done, and pays accordingly. I shall never forget the shocking spectacle of a picture of Claude Lorraine, which I saw at the house of one of those operators (Spiridone Roma,26 dead some years since), where the fine patena,27 all the thin oleaginous passages, delicate tints and touches, which constituted the beauty, grace, and finish of the work, were not only partially carried off by the valuable secret of a fluid made use of in what he called cleaning, but where even the very imprimatura,28 or ground, was in many places apparent, and consequently discharged from the colours which formed Claude's picture. What he was to do afterwards with this chaos in repairing and restoring, could be only in proportion to his own wretched skill as a landscape-painter. Titian, Rubens, Vandyk, or any other great colourist, may with advantage retouch and complete any work of their scholars, or other inferior artist, by scumbling over,29 tinting, and uniting the whole; but it would be ridiculous to expect any good from the converse of this: and yet what is the business of these picture-repairers, but this converse, more and more, nay infinitely degraded? as these unfortunate, though impudent people, for the most part, can do nothing of their own, and must subsist by effrontery, >nostrums, and deception. But as something may be usefully done in the desirable endeavour to preserve celebrated works of the old painters, I shall take this occasion to mention an excellent practice in use at Rome, which affords all that can be desired on this head, as it religiously and wisely respects and leaves untouched whatever there is remaining, and only attempts so to repair the parts which have perished, as to prevent their offensive or disagreeable appearance.

When I was at the Palace Borghesi, copying Titian,30 there were two Romans, old men and brothers, who were employed by the Prince31 in repairing his pictures. I had a fair opportunity of inspecting the process of these worthy old men, as they made no mystery of it, but carried on their work in the same rooms where I was employed with the other students, Italians, French, and Germans.32 Their first attention was to examine and repair the attachment of the picture to the canvass on which it was painted, and to line it, if necessary; they next so bedded the picture as to prevent its cracking when they wiped and cleaned away the dirt collected on its surface. Their next business was the chief operation, which consisted of balls of different colours, ground up to the consistence of glazier's putty, portions of which, with knives exactly resembling those used by glaziers, they mixed properly, so as to correspond with the colours of the parts in contact with the scaled or broken places which they thus filled up, afterwards carrying this blunted knife over the edges, and wiping away any thing that might have soiled the sound and perfect places of the picture. Thus all was preserved that could be preserved, and the repairs, whether well or ill conducted, were at worst of little importance, as they did not interfere with those perfect and sound parts. It is unnecessary to say more on a matter so obvious, than that I am happy to rely on the zeal and public spirit of many of my hearers for the spreading of this salutary practice, and interfering wherever they may have any influence to prevent the further destruction of ancient pictures.— We shall now return to our subject, &c.

I have long seen, and from my situation as Lecturer on Painting in the Academy, have often pressed it on the attention of my hearers, that without some proper public collection of ancient art, to refer to occasionally, both our pupils and the public would be in the same bewildered situation, so emphatically alluded to in the New Testament, of the people without guides, exposed to every imposture of " Lo! here is Christ. Lo! there is Christ."33 — This is Titian's manner.—No, that was his manner.—Old Giacomo Bassano,34 did he do his works after this or after the other way?—How far is scumbling necessary in the production of the true Venetian tones? — Upon what basis, and how much and what should be done before, after it, or with it? There is no need to mention that discernment and taste must govern in the application and conduct; but with respect to the mechanic desideratum, these questions go all the length; and to obtain satisfactory oracular answers, we had best recur to the familiar inspection of the original pictures of these ancient masters;35 and as nothing else can satisfactorily determine researches of this kind, and prevent or detect mistakes or imposition so well as this frequent familiar inspection, I could much wish that what I have so often had occasion in the Academy to urge on this subject, was known to his Majesty; for this end I brought it forward, as it is so much and so easily in his power to gratify the wishes of the public, and complete the views of his own Institution, by graciously conferring on them this remaining favour. His royal countenance, and a very small matter, would be sufficient to begin with. But as I am not likely ever to have the honour of a hearing from his Majesty, and if I had, would unfortunately for the art and for the country have probably but little weight, I must content myself, and think it a sufficient discharge of conscience and duty, to lay the whole matter before you and your friends, who happily can have all the opportunity, weight, and consideration, that is wanting to me. You may then either lay this letter before his Majesty, as a testimony of the best discharge of humble duty within the knowledge of his Professor, or you may put the matter in any other form more agreeable and proper, without any regard to me or to what I have written. You will partly see, by what follows, how long I have laboured under the weight of this business, how far it has been carried, and through what an ordeal I have passed: my patience is now quite exhausted, and almost like the traveller mentioned somewhere in Horace, who, when with all his pains and care, he could not prevent his ass from continually going to the edge of the precipice, was at last so transported with rage and indignation, as to stretch out his hands and push him down.36 Before any such matter as this happens with me, I shall feel happy and delivered from a world of anxiety in placing this business under the care and direction of the Gentlemen of your Society; you can easily manage it, and will henceforward be answerable to the art and to the public for its safety and success; carry this point, and all will be done that I wish done, as, I thank God, there is nothing to ask for myself. But as gentlemen like those of the Dilettanti Society, possessed of all the advantages of education and foreign travel, can want no information from me respecting the importance, nature, and extent, of that collection of exemplars and materials of information and study, so absolutely and indispensably necessary for advancing and perfecting the arts of Painting and Sculpture in a National Academy; the few Extracts which follow, and were copied from certain parts of my annual Lectures in the Academy, are therefore inserted here merely to shew my own sense of the miserable state of our collection, and of what the Academy stands so much in need of for the completion of its views.

In the Discourse on Design, read in 1785, speaking of the casts from the antiques, I found myself compelled to observe upon our "want of public repositories of art, Royal or other collections, which might be resorted to occasionally without expence, difficulty, or loss of time. Most of our noble collections are widely separated from each other, and buried in the country, where neither the artists nor the public can derive advantage from any thing they may happen to contain; without going into details of what might, and perhaps would be done, if the public spirit was fairly called forth by some eminent example. But there is even something in the power of the Academy itself; for, by a proper application of its own funds, a respectable beginning might be made under its own roof, which in a short time would answer the most extensive purposes of utility to the arts, and entertainment to the public. At present the materials for observation in the Academy, are much too scanty to afford, even to the Professor, any opportunity of bringing forward with advantage those enlarged views of the art that are most becoming and worthy the attention of students in the eighteenth century; we have no where any pictures of the old schools, to which the students might be referred for visible examples of what they ought to study to acquire or endeavour to avoid."

In the Discourse on Chiaro-Scuro, the necessary investigation of the subject in hand led me to observe, "That I could wish, not only for the sake of the pupils and the public, but also on my own account, that our collection of plaster casts in the Academy was more ample. In the number of excellent things that must be attended to during one's residence abroad, the impressions of many of them will unavoidably not be so fresh on the memory after some years, as to enable a man to speak of them with confidence, more particularly on such an occasion as the present; but, from what I recollect of the happy effects produced by the skilful arrangement of alto and basso-relievo, and the perspective of the aerial as well as lineal degraduations of the objects in >Algardi's famous work at St. Peter's,37 in that of Puget at Paris,38 and some others, this mode of process is capable of producing the sublimest and most extensive effects in sculpture. What should hinder that it might not even be associated with groupes39 and figures in the round? For my own part, I cannot help being strongly of opinion, that such a subject as the Niobe40 would come upon the eye of the spectator with a much more collected force, if treated by a great artist in this way, than in the scattered manner in which this composition appeared in the Villa Medici,41&" And, after some pages of discussion, and a considerable enumeration of facts, respecting the kinds of sculptured relievo, ancient and modern, I am obliged to conclude the subject in the following manner. "Any attempt to reconcile these passages from the ancient writers, with those incontrovertible facts respecting the state of the art, which are so glaringly testified in the remains of ancient basso-relievo and paintings, is better declined, at least for the present, as our Academy is too ill supplied with materials for observation: the miserable beggarly state of its library and collection of antique vestiges, I have so often had occasion to lament, that it is almost shameful to mention it to you any more. Good God! that such a thing should be in the centre of the British Empire; that so many difficulties should lie in the way of acquiring a sufficient collection even of plaster casts, and a place to put them in, and in such a town as London, which in all other respects is so transcendantly remarkable for its numerous public hospitals and modes of generous provision for almost every want of humanity, both of body and mind! But in the arts there seems a peculiar curse — what occasions it? and does it only arise from that insidious base policy which is employed to prevent those who really know, and could serve the public, from having any weight? and is it from this, that glorious opportunities of public service are thus daily permitted to slide away without benefit?"

In February, 1791, the following passage was inserted in the Discourse on Colouring. "Would to Heaven an opportunity was offered of planting your easels before some of his (Vandyk's) pictures on these walls! and yet even this would be too limited; and nothing could have precipitated me on such a wish but my extreme desire, that before you are let loose upon the world, it might be in the power of the Academy to afford you some, though ever so little, timely assistance in this remaining most important part of the art: for really to make a just statement of our wants, when we consider the various dispositions that look for their education in an Academy, more nutriment will necessarily be required than any individual model or mode of practice can afford, however excellent it may be. In the Pope's Academy at Rome, in that of Bologna,42 at Venice, and indeed in all places on the Continent, where the education of young painters is attended to, it is hardly necessary to employ any further solicitude than merely providing for the students an opportunity of studying the living model and the antiques, as the churches and other great collections of pictures are ever open to them for the acquisition of the colouring, composition, and all the other great essentials of painting: but even with all this, there is provided at the Campidoglio,43 under the same roof with the Papal Academy, a most noble collection of pictures of the old masters, which, whilst it affords a perpetual source of intellectual entertainment to the public, is a real school of instruction, where the young painter is enabled to complete and give a finish to his studies, before he expects to be called upon for the exercise of his abilities in the service of his country. When an institution of education is thus honestly provided for, conscience is easy; every thing human is done, the rest must be left to Divine Providence. It would be wasting words to a melancholy purpose, to draw any parallel between all these happy advantages of the foreign schools of painting, and the miserable assistance our Academy has to offer its pupils. We have nothing of painting to refer them to without doors; and it has been wisely observed by our illustrious President, that it is not the wish of the Academy that the students should endeavour to copy or to form themselves upon the pictures within.44 We wish them to dig in the same mines where we have laboured, to purify the metal for themselves, and fashion and work it up for public use, according to the strength and peculiar direction of their several geniuses, and thus endeavour to be, not the imitators, but the generous rivals of their predecessors. But let us not despond, the thing is right, and absolutely necessary: God will prosper it, and enable the Academy to extricate itself from the ostentatious mean appearance of undertaking more than it performs. His Majesty, our most gracious Patron, loves the arts; the same beneficent hand that raised our Academy to a school of Drawing, will not fail to enable it to become really, and not in appearance, a school of Painting also. The Parliament, the national trustee, is wise, liberal, and perfectly knows what is for the honour and glory of the country. Painters, completed in their education, will, it is therefore to be hoped, issue from this source, to all the parts of the British Empire; and the collection of old legitimate exemplars, which only can enable the Academy to perform all this, will not, cannot, be any longer wanting to us. To talk of wanting room for such a collection,45 is childish and farcical; how easy is it to point out space for it! But there is no need to waste words: let me have the honour of directing your attention to a recent event, which now affords an occasion of beginning such a collection with every possible advantage. A considerable number of such specimens of painting as come immediately within the views of public entertainment, as well as academical exercise, may now be purchased; they have been brought together in a course of many years, with great assiduity, and were the constant objects of study, affection, and rivalship of a great*46 man, whom we all know and revere; and whose various exertions in the art will long remain the pride and glory of his country. I will say no more; but if these materials of study should be scattered, what a pity! When can we hope that such an assemblage of so many necessary requisites of skill, means, and inclination, should thus fortunately meet together in any man, to make such a collection again?"

In December, 1792, at a meeting of the academicians, called to consider of a situation for placing the cast of the Hercules Farnese, our meeting was in the ground floor, under the coach-way into the square, where the statue was loosely put together, and set up in the place where Sir William Chambers wished it to remain.47 The president, Mr. West, and some of the academicians, seemed to differ from this opinion, and would have the figure brought up stairs; but as this seeming was no more than a political manoeuvre which, after some discussion of difficulties, would be ultimately resolved into Sir William's opinion, and as I well knew that Sir Joshua Reynolds's wishes, in the charge he had entrusted to me, had no other object than to obtain the greatest possible augmentation of our collection of casts, it appeared to me most adviseable to depart from the letter of his injunction, in order to follow the spirit of it; and having therefore prepared the following paper, I read it to the Academy as we stood before the statue. "When Sir Joshua Reynolds was confined to his room, a little before his death,48 he did, in the presence of several friends, recommend to me to endeavour at persuading the Academy to have the statue of Hercules brought up stairs into the plaster room.49 I promised him, that whatever I could do should be done; but, upon more mature thinking since, I am persuaded that, as his sole object was to obtain such an extension of our collection as would be more adequate to the occasions of the Academy, and to this end, wished the figure to be brought up stairs, though there should be no more room to receive any thing else after it; yet as the following little plan removes Sir Joshua's difficulty, by rendering the lower apartments more habitable and convenient, so as to bring the statue equally into the course of academical studies, and co-operate more effectually with his and all our wishes, by allowing the most ample increase of our collection, I shall, Mr. President and Gentlemen, beg leave to submit it to your consideration.

"As the academical repository of Grecian examples of art contribute equally to direct the studies of our young artists, and to invigorate and perfect the taste of the public, I move, that if any part of our collection is to be placed in the ground apartments, that, preparatory to all other consequent consideration, a committee of the Academy be appointed, in order to consider what will be the best mode of obtaining a proper, convenient, and handsome access, to this part of our collection in these ground apartments. And as no proper access can be had to these apartments but from the square, I submit it to their consideration, whether, at the same time, it would not be exceedingly practicable, by a further extension of that ground floor, from the King's statue50 into the square, to obtain a room, even equal to the dimensions, as to length and breadth, of our present exhibition room, and without the least inconvenience or annoyance of any kind to the other offices in the square, since it need not rise to any great height, and would leave an open coach-way on the three sides, double the width of the Strand at Catherine street, and four times the width at Exeter Change. Our exhibition room is twenty-two of my paces long; the square is, from the basement of the King's statue to the foot pavement on the south side, 80 paces long, and 63 from each foot pavement, east and west. The Strand is 19 paces broad from the edges of the foot—way, at Catherine street, and nine paces broad at Exeter Change.

"By this means the Academy would be enabled to convert some of its upper rooms into a more becoming extension of its library: the paternal care of His Majesty, and a liberal public, would soon make this library adequate to the occasions of such an institution, instead of the contracted miserable state in which it is at present. Had we but space for a few sound examples of the pictures of the old masters, a little time would soon put it in the power of our students to finish their education, instead of running loose upon the public to subsist, as too many have, by mere drawing and other contracted methods of art, which must infallibly result from studies interrupted, not pursued to the end. With sufficient space, and a proper acknowledgment for favours received, the Academy would not long want a collection of prints equal to that royal collection of prints in the Rue de Richelieu at Paris.51 The late Mr. John Barnard52 would, according to very creditable information, have been much gratified in leaving his noble collection in this way. An enquiring mind would soon be enabled to take such a view of these arts, as the admirable author of the advancement of learning53 recommends in those other arts which had been the object of his attention; and on a view of the whole, it would appear what had been well laboured, what had not, what was to be followed up, and what to be avoided. It will, surely, be found, upon mature consideration, that the highest service this Academy can render the public, is to be the happy means of effecting a compleat54 repository of all the materials necessary for such advanced and enlarged art, as is worthy the glory of the nation, and the high spirit and extended information of the age we live in. A few artists, so equipped, will do the country much and real honour; the bulk of those we shall breed without it, will really be much injured, and with respect to the views of the age, abortive and stunted, obliged to traffic with quackery and small ware, illiberal, mischievous to each other, and a discredit to the institution.

Nota bene. There need nothing to appear in the square, but a range of battlements, or continued pedestal, eight or ten feet high, which would afford a most admirable occasion, and in the most eligible situation, of effecting that long wished for repository of those honourable testimonies of public gratitude which, from the experience of the best ages, have been found the truest incentive to heroic actions. On this battlement, or range of pedestals, statues of those heroes who deserved well of their country might be erected, at convenient distances from each other, with a dado55 of a small projection under the statue for a proper inscription; and the spaces between these dado's or dies being a little more in length than height, may be ornamented with apposite historic basso relievo's, which would open a glorious field of sculpture, for the public entertainment and instruction, unequalled in Europe. The whole square of public offices would, with an admirable felicity, like another forum of Trajan,56 seem to have been built to give it ornament, with this remarkable difference in its favour, that these subjects of British bas-relief, being all near the eye, could be considered with convenience, pleasure, and utility; all of which is lost to the spectator, from the elevated situation of the bas-reliefs, on the beautiful column of Trajan, to the deep, never ceasing regret of all lovers of virtù.57

"The entrance to these ground apartments might be handsomely contrived to descend in the two angles behind the King's statue, and so ornamented as to group and mass sublimely with the statue, and still further associated with a noble obelisk, or other proper ornament between, that might, gracefully and without annoyance, afford the necessary communication between the fires below and the external air. It but rarely happens that so many fortunate circumstances can meet together, with a felicity so united as almost to appear like magic.

"Thus this mere extension of your ground apartments, at present useless, furnishing the necessary receptacle for the fine monuments of ancient art, whilst, at the same time, it additionally affords the most eligible situation in the centre of two great cities, and (which is the characteristic of true taste) with the least conceivable effort and expence, for another repository of monuments still more deeply interesting to the art and to the nation; plaster casts of demi-gods and ancient heroes within; and without, what the British empire shall gloriously produce of the same character, in the more durable materials of bronze or marble. Gentlemen, you see evidently the means are in your power; use them, and deserve well of your country."

Having thus acquitted myself of the promise made to Sir Joshua, of the duty I owed the Academy, and habituated to the kind of materials I had to work on, it gave me neither surprise nor concern to find the matter got rid of by Mr. Wyatt's observing, that this paper contained something which ought not to be lost, that it might hereafter be of use, whenever the ground should be purchased between the Academy and Exeter Change. Such a thing might happen, and then we should want for nothing. As Mr. Wyatt was lately made the Queen's architect, and was supposed to know what would be agreeable, the matter ended without further discussion; and, leaving poor Hercules to screen himself as well as he could from cold and damps, we went up stairs.58

On the l0th of October, 1796, I received the following letter from the Academy:


"You are desired to meet the President, and the rest of the academicians, at the Royal Academy, on Monday the 7th of November, at seven o'clock in the evening, to elect one associate. Inclosed is a list of the candidates.59

At this meeting of the 7th of November, the Secretary, as usual, read the minutes of the former meeting, which consisted of the matter respecting the giving of pensions to such academicians or their widows, as came within a certain specified description; and, without any pause between, proceeded to read the business for the election of one associate, and to distribute the lists for that end. After the election, when I saw the academicians going to disperse, I desired to be informed, why the business that lay over from the former meeting had not been finished to-night? The President said it was finished; that it was read, and he had signed it. I observed it had not been put to the vote: the President, Messrs. Tyler, Farrington, Yenn, Bacon,60 and some others, said it ought not; that the time for voting was on the former night, and that such was the rule of the Academy. I told them I was sure that the practice and rule of the Academy was quite otherways, and that, relying on this usuage of the Academy, I had prepared some objections to the passing of this pension business as a law, and which I intended stating to the Academy at the proper time, which time was when the President should, as usual, after the reading of the minutes, get up and say, " Those gentlemen who are of opinion, that they ought to confirm the minutes of the last meeting, hold up their hands;—the contrary, theirs." That this had not been done; that it was what I waited for; that it was not only the usual practice of the Academy, but of all assemblies and societies of men; that this, and no other, could be the reason for having two meetings, the better to consider and digest all business. They, however, insisted that the matter was finished, and that I could not be permitted to make any objections. Upon my requesting that they would at least hear what I had to object, whether they proceeded to any further consideration of the matter or not, after much entreaty, and shameful contest, I was at last indulged in reading what follows:

"In the letter of summons for convening the last general meeting a month since, the business specified in that letter, was only what number of associates would be elected at the next meeting; consequently, the vacancies being only three, the more important consideration, who amongst the candidates should be elected to fill any number of those vacancies within the three, being reserved for the second meeting, was, perhaps, the reason why so many of the academicians did not come to the first; and that it was owing to a mere accident that I was not in the number of those who, swayed by that reason, did not attend. Those academicians then who were absent at this first meeting, as well as many of those who were present, must be exceedingly shocked to find that the principal object prepared for the consideration and discussion of that meeting, was of quite another nature than had been specified in the summons, and was indeed of the last, deepest importance to the reputation and existence of the Academy. In order, therefore, to prevent the Academy being surprised into any error, and that so disorderly and shocking a business shall not happen again, I move, that though it be the business of the Council to arrange and prepare matter for the consideration of the Academy, and that the Council ought to have every invitation and encouragement to produce such a matter, of whatever kind, at any general meeting, and even whether specified in the summons or not, yet that it be enacted, as an invariable law, that the Academy shall never proceed to give any vote at the general meeting on any business proposed by the Council, which has not been specified in the letter of summons for that meeting.

"I also move, in order that a proper record of the transactions of the Academy may remain on its books, that the business proposed in the letter of summons for the general meeting, be copied into our books, at the head of the minutes of the transactions of such meeting.

"I further move, that the Academy recommend to the Council to reconsider the whole business respecting the security and disposal of the property of the Academy, and that some proper means be adopted to obtain for the Academy, such a chartered and legally corporate existence, as will connect it with the nation, and as the most dignified, simple, and best adapted method of precluding litigations or other embarrassments in the management of weighty property, in which great artists are so likely to be less experienced than more inferior people. The Academy ought not to hesitate on this occasion, when the great and respectable law authority (Serjeant ADAIR), whose opinion we have sought, has, with a delicacy worthy himself, insinuated this advice, in generous and liberal addition to his answer to the question on which he was consulted.61

"Whether the Academy shall, or shall not, endeavour to obtain this most satisfactory and best possible method of securing its property by a charter; I move, that some part of this property, which may exceed the necessary uses of the Academy and its commendable ordinary charities,62 be nobly and wisely employed in obtaining an extension of their space, for the exhibition of great works in sculpture, the want of which has been so long and vexatiously experienced and complained of. The introduction of works of this kind, would be the best corrective for that tawdry, frippery relish, which the repeated exhibitions of the more trifling, inconsequential departments of painting, is apt to generate. Let me add here (enclosed within a parenthesis), that the Academy has but very imperfectly discharged its duty to the public, respecting those monuments of sculpture, the superintendance of which has been entrusted to them; and I must request your indulgence for my intreating and moving that this matter may be shortly enquired into, as prior to these deeds of trust confided to the Academy. I had the misfortune of recommending, in a printed work, page 93, disseminated on a very public occasion thirteen years since,63 that this confidence should be placed in the Academy. I therefore move, that a committee be appointed to enquire into the conduct which ought necessarily to be adopted by the Academy in all future references of public trust, whether of sculpture or painting, or even of architectural designs, in which the judgment of the Academy, properly and conscientiously called forth, might be of considerable advantage to the public.

"I also move, that some part of our property be laid out in the purchase of some one or more exemplars of ancient art, and a room or rooms to put them in. This beginning (which would come so gracefully and with such peculiar propriety from the Academy) would, with a generous public that only wants such an occasion of directing its energy, soon fructify and extend to a National Gallery,(*)64 which, whilst it would compleat the views of the Academy with respect to the education of its pupils, would also no less beneficially extend to the improvement and entertainment of the nation at large. There are many old famous pictures in this kingdom: whether any of these should be bestowed on this public gallery, or only lent to it for any given number of years, to be replaced by others, the end would be equally answered; and, by proper inscriptions on the frames, the public would know its benefactors, who would be paid in a glorious celebrity, proportioned to the utility and satisfaction they diffused.

"A proper attention to the obtaining these desiderata, would not only appear more becoming the reputation of the age and nation, and more consistent with the noble disinterested conduct hitherto adopted by the Academy, but would eventually and finally be more profitable and advantageous to the interests of superior artists, and the widows and relatives they may happen to leave behind them, than what has been proposed by dissipating this property of the Academy, in pensions annexed to the mere frequency of exhibition, without any regard to the degree of importance or contemptibility of the matter exhibited. Such a procedure would inevitably reverse all right, and produce mischief and dishonour instead of benefit. The nobler occasions of exertion do not so frequently occur as those that are paltry and worthless, not to say mischievous; and the answer of Aesop's Lioness in the fable, would admirably apply in this case. You produce a great many at a litter, and often; but what are they? Foxes. I indeed have but one at a time, but you should remember this one is a Lion.65 It is full time, Gentlemen, that we should recollect, in this Academy, that our art has the glory of being a moral art, with extensive means, peculiarly universal, and applicable to all ages and nations, to the improvement and deepest interests of society; and although, from the unfortunate combinations that sometimes occur, we have had more frequent occasion to decorate the exhibition walls with pictures of live or dead partridges, mackerel on deal boards, or such like human or other trifling matters, every whit as unmeaning and inapplicable to any great or ethical purpose, yet surely, surely, if the Academy cannot every year gratify the public with a Gymnatium at Athens, or the Stadium at Olympia,66 it will ill become them to encourage, by their countenance and their pensions, so horrid and scandalous a reverse and degradation. These opinions, which I hope will meet the wishes of a majority of the Academicians, I am happy to deliver on such an occasion as the present, where they are so fairly, so necessarily called for; and that, whatever determination the Academy may choose to adopt in this business, these sentiments, either in the way of advice or protest, must now, in the order of things, remain upon their books, for the inspection of those who may come after us, and who, it is to be hoped, will have other and higher views of the concerns of art, than those arising from the undue, political artifices of combination and cabal." (Signed) JAMES BARRY.

Having finished the reading of the above motions, I added, verbally, that my end was now answered; for, that as things were ordered in the Academy, I was satisfied with the mere proposing what was for the honour of the Academy, and of the nation, without much solicitude or anxiety at its not being adopted; and that I had recommended this rule to our late President, Sir Joshua Reynolds, observing to him that, instead of uneasiness, he ought rather to enjoy the double satisfaction of proposing, on his own part, becoming honourable matter, which his opponents would have the infamy of rejecting, and that at least it was always in his power to prevent the matter's being suppressed or lost. At two or three different times since, I asked Mr. West whether these resolutions of the Academy, respecting this pension business, had been carried to the Palace for his Majesty's acquiescence and signature:67 he repeatedly told me they had not as yet; and as some time has elapsed, and that we have had no report of his Majesty having signed them, it is to be hoped the majority have altered their opinion, and will at least have the grace to let it drop, and spare and pay such respect to the King's signature, as not to solicit for it on such an unworthy occasion.

As I could not prevail with the majority at this meeting to appoint any committee for enquiring into the proper mode we ought to adopt, in discharging these public trusts confided to the Academy, and as it seemed as if they wished to smuggle the whole business, and would not even suffer these motions to remain on their books, and as so much time has since elapsed, I feel myself bound, by a duty superior to all other considerations, to embrace the opportunity that now offers, and to put the public in possession of such a simple, but entire statement of the facts relating to these public trusts, as will, I think, be fully sufficient for the perfect comprehension of the whole business, and almost render any comments unnecessary.

On February 27, 1784, two Letters were read in the Academy, from the House of Assembly in Jamaica, to Stephen Fuller, Esq.68 The following are copies.


"Inclosed is a resolution of the House of Assembly on the 20th day of February last, and also a copy of an order upon the Receivers General, relative to that resolution; you will perceive it is the wish of the House to express the sense this Island entertains of the services of Lord Rodney,69 and that a statue is thought to be the most honourable compliment which can be paid. The House will object to no expence that may be necessary to procure one of the most finished kind. The money (1000l.)70 ordered to be remitted by the Receiver General, is intended as an advance to accelerate the work; and when it is completed, whatever sum shall be found to be deficient, the House will provide for it on the first intimation.

"The pedestal on which the statue is to be placed, must be richly ornamented; and representations of the achievements of the hero, whose fame is intended to be transmitted to our posterity, ought to be sculptured on three of the squares or dies of the pedestal in basso-relievo, particularly the memorable action which insured the safety of Jamaica; and on the fourth, a short inscription, correspondent with the resolutions of the House. The plan of the whole work should be well considered and digested, and premia71 offered for the best designs, to be approved of by the Artists of the Royal Academy; and, when the designs shall have been adopted, the most eminent statuary must be employed to carry them into execution. The statue and its pedestal are to be enclosed by a handsome balustrade; and, we think, a flight of stone steps up to the foot of the pedestal, would be necessary to give it a proper elevation. We commit this business to your care and attention, hoping that this tribute of our gratitude and applause will do credit to the artist, and honour to the Island.

"We are, Sir,

"Your humble Servants,"

House of Assembly, Feb20, 1783. (Signed by Thirty-two Names.)

"Resolved, that it be recommended to the House, to direct the Committee of Correspondence to write to Stephen Fuller, Esq. agent for this island, desiring him to apply to the most eminent artists in England, to prepare an elegant marble statue of Lord Rodney, with a handsome pedestal to the same, to be erected in the Parade of Spanish Town, in commemoration of the glorious victory obtained by that gallant commander, and the brave officers and seamen serving under him, over the French Fleet, on the I2th day of April, 1782. By the House,
SAMUEL HOWELL, CL Assembly.72"

On reading these letters in the Royal Academy, it was resolved, that Messrs. Bacon, Carlini, Nollekens, Tyler, and Wilton, be desired to prepare models for the statue by the 5th of April next, and send them to the Academy.73
J. REYNOLDS, President.
F. M. NEWTON, Secretary.

On the 5th of April there were but two of those gentlemen who sent models, viz. Messrs. Bacon and Tyler, and the work was adjudged to Mr. Bacon.74 Many members of the Academy were dissatisfied with this mode of procedure; Sir Joshua in particular complained that it wanted a certain éclat, and in some measure defeated the very liberal wishes of the gentlemen who entrusted this commission to the Academy; that if hereafter we should receive any other similar commission, it would be better to invite a general competition by public advertisement, and make an academical public exposure of the work.

After Sir Joshua's death, the following Letter from Fort St. George, addressed to the President and Council, was read in the Academy.


"We have the honour to enclose you a copy of the Resolutions of the Inhabitants of Madras, by which it was voted, that a statue of the Right Honourable Earl Cornwallis should be erected in Fort St. George, at the public expence.75

"In order to give the more expansion to this testimony of respect and esteem for Earl Cornwallis, the inhabitants of Madras resolved on making application to the Royal Academy of Great Britain, composed of members whose professional talents are justly appreciated by all Europe. In conformity with their resolutions, we have the honour to address you, requesting you will be pleased to nominate an artist to execute a pedestrian statue of the Earl.

"Did we apprehend there could be any difference of opinion respecting the Noble Personage who is the subject of this address, an apology might be considered as due to you in the name of our constituents and ourselves; but we trust our expectations are not ill-founded, when we profess to flatter ourselves with your most cheerful compliance with this request.

"Sir John Call76 will have the honour of transmitting to you this letter; and we have requested the favour of him to communicate to the artist you may recommend, such information as is necessary for the execution of the statue.

"We have the honour to be, &c"
Fort St. George, 0ct. 6, 1792. (Signed by Seven Gentlemen of the Committee.)

All the sculptors of the Academy refused making any models of competition for this statue, except Mr. Banks, who, after a given time sent two models for the Academy to choose, one in parliamentary robes, the other not: which of those models was fixed upon, has escaped my recollection;77 but I well remember, that amongst the reasons given by the other sculptors, why they would not concur, there was much mention of combination and cabal; that the most insignificant members of the Academy had made such an extensive and politic confederacy as to dispose of every thing that went by vote: who should be in the Council; who should be in the superintendance of the living Academy as Visitors;78 who should be made an Associate or an Academician: in short, all was at their disposal, and nothing was given but with a view to the increase of their power. Mr. Nollekens, amongst other reasons for his declining it, gave me this, that he was sure that such a certain person (whom he named) would have twenty votes from this cabal: the answer I gave him was, that he, and several other men of ability in the Academy, might thank themselves for it; that the poisoned cup was at last come to their own lips; and that if, at our meeting for the election of a President to succeed Sir Joshua, they had the grace and discretion to adopt the motion I then brought forward, of binding ourselves and all future Academicians, by an oath, to vote conscientiously in all cases of election and adjudication, the offices and transactions of the Academy would then have had some chance of being carried on with whatever strength, propriety, and dignity, was within our reach, and the shameful matter now complained of, as well as other recent matters of equal disgrace and vexation, could not have occurred.79 It is evident enough, that if influence, envy, and combination, could be chained down, and kept from acting in the business, even the meanest artist in the Academy had too much skill not to know who was best fitted by education and talents to fill the several offices of the Academy with the most becoming lustre and utility; or who amongst us was most likely to execute any public trust, with the greatest probability of adding to the reputation and celebrity of the country, and of the Institution. It is impossible for any artist to mistake or lose his way in such matters. Let us then not blame Providence and our understandings for that which (in our hearts we know) is reprobated by both, and which, in fairness, is only imputable to our sordid, rascally election, that would selfishly, brutally, and malignantly, endeavour to obscure, vilify, and destroy whatever excellence it cannot pretend to; and whatever it is obliged to relinquish to its rivals, its next wish generally is to connect it with maiming circumstances, and to see it in hands not calculated to get much honour by it. Hence it is, that all wise legislators have ever insisted upon the security of an oath, in order to bind down selfishness, to stake its superior eternal interests and hopes, after this short, transitory life, as the pledge and hostage for the just, true, and faithful discharge of the testimony and judgment that may be required from him: and let Sir William Chambers chicane as much as he pleases, about the more convenient principle of honour, as he calls it, yet, surely, it is absurd to suppose, that a regulation which is found necessary in all well-ordered governments, should not be attended with some utility in the Royal Academy. But, to quit reasoning and come to facts: Mr. Wilton also, on my twitting him on his not concurring, laughingly asked me, Whether, as matters were disposed of in the Academy, I would concur, were I in his situation? My answer was, Certainly not: and you might have seen, that for some time past I have not only declined giving any vote, but that, in the most public manner, I threw my list in the fire, in stead of marking and putting it into the box. However, thus matters went respecting this trust confided to the Academy; and I suppose that some person (most likely an interested sculptor) must have informed the East India Company, how their liberal intentions respecting this statue of Earl Cornwallis were so unfortunately, but palpably defeated in the Royal Academy. Nothing but this can account for their adopting a different mode of conduct on the subsequent occasion, of their erecting a statue to the memory of Sir William Jones;80 for it appears in that transaction, that they no longer paid any regard to the judgment of the Academy, but made choice of a sculptor themselves; and the Academy would have had no knowledge of the matter, had it not been for the mere accident of our having a Committee of the Academy in some measure connected with the erecting of monuments in St. Paul's Church; and as the monument was to be placed there, we accordingly received the following letter from the Dean and Chapter of that Cathedral:

"The Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's having, in consequence of an application from the Honourable the Directors of the East India Company, consented to admit into their Cathedral, a monument to the memory of the late Sir William Jones, and having agreed that it shall be placed in the north-west angle, exactly opposite to Mr. Howard's,81 in the south-east angle, and the Chapter having approved of the design presented by Mr. Bacon, as far as regards emblem, sentiment, and types; they request the Committee of the Royal Academy to inspect the drawing,82 and to favour the Dean and Chapter with their opinion as to its suitableness to the situation, in point of magnitude and conformity in its general composition to those in correspondent situations, so that it may eventually become an ornament to the building."
Chapter-House, December 3, 1796.
To the Committee of the Royal Academy, Somerset-House.

As concealment is rather pernicious, than of any use, particularly in those who were entrusted to act for public bodies, I shall not scruple to say, that the Committee (of which I was one) found themselves much embarrassed, as every thing essential had been already determined by the East India Company and the Dean and Chapter; and there was nothing reserved for the consideration of the Academy, or its Committee, that could not have been as well determined by the verger or beadle, as it required no professional skill to say whether the standing figure of Sir William Jones was in conformity with the standing figures of Dr. Johnson83 and Mr. Howard. We were only to judge of magnitude and conformity; and, I do not know, but I believe we were not at liberty to say, that the sooner this conformity was broken by the election of some other artist, and a very different arrangement, the better and more creditable it would be both for the church, and for the nation.84 However, that we might not appear to have been entirely useless, a resolution was drawn up, in which we recommended to the Dean and Chapter, not to suffer any more iron railing in the church, and to take away that which had been placed before the statues already erected.

Although, in the writing of this letter, it was my intention to withold myself from making any reflections, and, as much as may be, simply to state facts, yet there is something so deeply interesting to the reputation, the public honour, of the Royal Academy in this last matter, respecting the statue of Sir William Jones, that shame and indignation will not permit us to hurry over it. Every man who wished the perfection of national art, and rejoiced at whatever tended to discountenance and to discontinue that mean jobbing which had so long disgraced the art and the country, must have had great satisfaction in the very noble instance above-mentioned, respecting the conduct of the inhabitants of Jamaica, in the affair of Lord Rodney's statue, as well as in the other instance, in the year 1792, when so distinguished a body as the Honourable the East India Company came forward, in the handsomest, most patriotic manner, and confided the public trust, respecting the statue of Earl Cornwallis, to the skill and patriotism of the Royal Academy. So far all was well, honourable, desirable. But behold, four years after, in 1796, the same Honourable the East India Company felt itself under the disagreeable necessity of adopting a contrary mode of conduct, and, notwithstanding its former polite recognition, in 1792, of the importance of the judgment of the Academy, are forced upon the harsh expedient of withdrawing this confidence from the Academy, and determining for themselves this other matter respecting the statue of Sir William Jones. One cannot without regret think of the suffering delicacy of such a Society in its progress to this pass. However, if this disgrace arose, as no doubt it did, from the East India Company's dissatisfaction at seeing no concurrence and competition for the commission entrusted to the Academy, but on the contrary, that, without any becoming graceful circumstance that might reflect splendor, either on the Company, the Academy, or the work, it was, with the most disgusting, obscure privacy, given away to the artist who executed it, merely because he was the only academician who did offer;85 all the rest absolutely refusing, and many of them even more than hinting at their terror of cabal and combination, &c. it must then be honestly acknowledged, that the East India Company acted rightly in withdrawing its confidence: and it is certain that no such matters of public trust ought in future be deputed to the Academy, as it would only embarrass them, and be a further notification of their disgraceful situation, without rendering any service to the public.*86 If we were to take for granted what is so generally said by so many of the academicians and associates, by the very exhibitors and pupils, nay, which must have made its way to the notice even of the East India Company, as would, I dare say, be soon found by any person who would be at the trouble of enquiring into the reasons for their change of conduct in the business of the statue of Sir William Jones; taking it then for granted, that there does exist an undue, low, politic combination in the Academy, which, by disposing of the majority of its votes, thus intimidates men of ability from venturing upon that concurrence which may be called for by the nation, or by any honourable distinguished member of it, yet it is very possible, that such combination might never have intended to carry matters to such a length; I think they would not; it would certainly be bad policy, very inconsistent with the rules of that necessary cunning which must give support and continuance to clandestine associations, to meddle in matters of such great magnitude, as, by the éclat of their disgrace and mischief, they might rouse too much of the public attention, and stimulate towards obtaining the necessary redress, as has generally been in most cases of abuse, which providentially receive their death-wound and destruction from the very ambition and impudent wantonness of their excesses. It is much safer, and more practicable, to content themselves with the more moderate ambition of strengthening their power and interest, by governing in the election of associates and academicians, by putting their partisans and abettors, whether qualified for it or not, into the superintendance of the living Academy; four-and-twenty guineas for two months visitorship will compensate for the ennui of lounging so many hours (48) in a situation which can be of no use to the students, or almost to themselves, the money excepted. It is also not a little gratifying to have it in their power to keep whoever they choose out of those rotatory offices of the visitorship and council,87 however they may be qualified for rendering dignified and effectual service to the institution. So far they are right; there is no other way of giving stability and continuance to this odious combination. Whilst their ambition is confined to these matters, all is safe; their opponents will not dare to complain, from the mere shame of appearing to have any contest about such matters, and with a bundle of obscurity and worthlessness, which, though of very little importance out of the Academy, is notwithstanding but too well known and felt in it, from the circumstance of its confederacy and association. Thus they might have gone on for ever, without detection; and it is only such a circumstance as this, of the disgust of the East India Company, that happily could administer occasion of sufficient publicity for pulling them into the light. The Honourable the East India Company has rendered an essential service to national art, by being the happy means of discovering to the public such an odious abuse, so mischievous and obstructive to national efforts, so unbecoming a Royal Institution of Arts, and even of arts hitherto so peculiarly distinguished by the epithet liberal. 'Tis an old remark, that the remedy is easy when the disease is discovered; and as both the disease and its cure are altogether unconnected with the affairs of state, with the interests and views either of Whigs or Tories, of Aristocrats or Democrats, and can relate to nothing but the glory of the Arts and of the Country, by whomsoever its affairs may be administered, they would all have an equal interest in stifling this most odious of all Jacobinical confederacies,88 where the mere scum and offal direct and govern. This being the case, there is then no danger of incurring blame from any man whom one would wish to respect. I shall therefore cheerfully proceed to state my own original idea of this remedy, which thirteen years since I foresaw would be necessary, when, in page 94 of my account of the pictures in the Great Room of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c. at the Adelphi, after a good deal of previous matter pressing the necessity for it, I earnestly recommended to all societies, corporations, & c. "That the judgment of the Royal Academy should be recurred to on all public occasions, and that the academicians should, in all cases of election and adjudication, be bound by an oath."89 It now remains, that, either from his Majesty's recommendation, or from whatever other quarter, the Academy be induced to rouse itself, and see the necessity of adopting this measure of an oath, since it is so very apparent that the satisfactory proper discharge of any public trust is not practicable in that body without it; and then many academicians, respectable for their integrity, delicacy, and abilities, who at present shrink into corners, will be happy to come forward, and assist in putting the Royal Academy into the situation of reinstating itself in the good opinion of the Honourable the East India Company, or any other National or Corporate Society that may have the patriotic wish to be directed, on any future occasions, by its professional judgment and skill; so much I thought it necessary to state respecting these public trusts, which, I hope, will shortly be brought into such an order, as will enable the Academy to discharge its part with such satisfaction, brilliancy and glory, to all the parties concerned, as might very well, and should always, accompany transactions of so generous and exemplary a nature.

I shall now insert the conclusion of my Lecture on Colouring, as it was read in the Academy in February last; and you will, I hope, excuse whatever tautologies may occur, as the nature and circumstances of the case made it not only impossible, but even ineligible, to avoid them.

"Nothing can be more conducive to the true dignity or worthlessness of a people, to their real happiness, or real misery, than the way in which they are employed in dispersing that wealth, or overplus, which exceeds what is necessary for the conservation of their existence; as it is from this root, or great source, that public happiness or misery flows over the land, with an energy and expansion proportioned to the quantum of nutriment supplied. It has accordingly been the leading and principal object, in all wise and orderly civil establishments, to take care that such an important and ever-operating agent, as the diffusion of wealth, should have the most useful, salutary tendency, or direction. And, as the greatest evils arise from the abuses of the best things, so it has ever happened, that the sinister, selfish, wicked direction, and application of this public overplus, by the governing power, whether in spreading external violence and devaluation, or interior corruptions, have ever been the ultimatum of the public calamity and misery.90 This matter may not require much attention in countries that afford little more than the means of a bare subsistence, but it becomes of infinite importance in such nations as are exposed to a vast influx of wealth, which experience has shewn can never lie dormant; and if it be not employed in arts that afford occupation, and useful intellectual entertainment to the people at large, will infallibly operate destructively, and produce such a corruption of public principle, as must finally end in a worse than savage ferocity, and the consequent utter subversion of all civil establishments.

"Impressed with this view of things, one cannot, without great satisfaction, observe how much has been wisely done in bringing forward ingenious arts for the entertainment and occupation of the public mind; and this in many of the trifling towns, and beggarly convents on the continent, even circumstanced as those places and the times were, with such poor materials of education, and such small means. What then must we think of this great metropolis of the British Empire, surrounded, and having within its reach, all the cultivation and improved advantages of the eighteenth century! How melancholy to reflect, that from all the immense wealth which, for a long time past, has been accumulated by the industry, ingenuity, and extensive commerce of the country, that, in the squandering or circulation of so many millions, so little has been done towards the intellectual entertainment of the public or of posterity! With respect to the arts, our poor neglected public are left to form their hearts and their understandings upon those lessons, not of morality and philanthropy, but of envy, malignity, and horrible disorder, which every where stare them in the face, in the profligate caricatura furniture of print-shop windows,91 from Hyde-Park Corner to Whitechapel. Better, better far, there had been no art, than thus to pervert and employ it to purposes so base, and so subversive of every thing interesting to society. The poor emigrants and foreigners who crowd our streets, good God! what opinion must they form of such a scene, whenever they are permitted to reflect, in some corner removed from the stun92 of carriages full of pageantry, mummery, and dissipation, which infest almost all places! These strangers have here no galleries like the Luxemburgh, filled with intellectual entertainment, to receive them gratis twice a week;93 no library of prints, like that in the Rue de Richelieu,94 where they might contemplate whatever the industry and genius, the youth, progress and perfection, of modern Europe, have been enabled to add, to every vestige of perfection remaining of all the preceding ages and countries.

"I had great hopes, about ten years since, that something of this kind would have been done by the Academy itself. About that time there was a great talk in the Academy of purchasing the estate belonging to the chartered Society of Artists, consisting of the great rooms and the space adjoining, on the opposite side of the street, now called the Lyceum;95 and Sir Joshua Reynolds (of glorious memory), our then President, generously offered to lend the whole, or such part of his excellent collection of pictures of the old masters, as we should think necessary for the study of our young artists, to complete, as much as may be, the education held out in the Academy, by properly enabling the students to become painters as well as draughtsmen, and thus happily avoiding the abortive way of finishing their studies in the Academy, which at present must unfortunately be the case of too many of them: surely, surely, without some timely assistance of this kind, all our students must be more or less injured, and many of them ruined for ever. Even in the Papal Academy at Rome,96 although the students have, for the colouring and mechanical conduct of their work, the churches to recur to, ever open and filled, as all the world know, with most excellent exemplars, yet, in addition to this assistance, there is, even under the very roof of their Academy, provided for their use and benefit, the admirable collection of pictures in the Campidoglio.97 But, not to stray from the concerns of our own Academy, this excellent intention of obtaining a collection had been then carried into effect, had not Sir Joshua been too timid, or too fond of quiet (which amounts to the same), and unhappily suffered himself and his excellent scheme to be over-ruled by Sir William Chambers.98

"Were we to lay aside all conscientious discharge of this trust the Academy has undertaken, respecting the education of its pupils and the public, were we even to take no other than a sordid view of this matter, and consider it in a mere pecuniary light, the Academy might, if it chose, be a gainer in the traffic that such a procedure would occasion; they might, in addition to Sir Joshua's collection of ancient pictures, and, in lieu of them, in case they should be withdrawn, so contrive the matter as to make it eligible for Noblemen, or other possessors of pictures of the old schools, to lend them for a given time to the Academy, and by this means afford a standing Exhibition, perhaps not less profitable than the Panorama,99 but certainly much more beneficial in the propagation of good taste and intellectual satisfaction. Thus, with their annually increasing funds, properly disposed of, the Academy might soon see itself in possession of such a library of all matters relating to art, and of such a collection of plaster-casts, in the round and in bas-relief, as would complete all their views of utility respecting the education of their pupils, and the entertainment and information of a public that, experience has long shewn, is too high-spirited too100 fail them, or even to be outdone by them on so generous an occasion. The want of such a collection occasionally to recur to, must be mortifyingly felt by every artist who has any thing to do with great undertakings, however formed and finished his education may be: like the necessary facts which form the tissue of history, the want or deficiency in any of them would be a blemish in the most excellent work, and the more to be regretted as the historian is the more admired for his felicity and skill in conducting all the other parts. The practicability of this scheme is so evident, that it is even matter of wonder that some of our picture and other dealers in virtù, have not extended their plans by employing a few thousands in this way: however,- such a scheme of accelerated, multiplied advantage, is certainly an enterprise better calculated for a Society that is eternal, than for a short-lived individual, subject to so many contingent interruptions and disadvantages; as in a Convent of Friars, or a Royal or National Academy, there would be always existing a sufficient number of men in health and vigour to employ their care and attention upon this common interest. The endeavour of obtaining for the Academy and for the Nation this great Desideratum of a Public Collection, has for so many years been uppermost in my mind, that it may possibly run away with me, and carry me further than propriety and the occasions require.101 Relying on your indulgently accepting this excuse, I shall conclude my observations on the theory and practice of Colouring, with, &c."

This national collection of all the materials of art, is absolutely necessary for the formation of the pupils and of the public (who ought to grow up with them), whatever style of art may be likely to obtain a settled credit, so as to be considered as constituting the national taste, whether we may content ourselves with adopting the manly plan of art pursued by the Carraches, and their school at Bologna,102 in uniting the perfections of all the other schools, of which there remains a masterly, elegant record, in a beautiful little poem of Agostino,*103 or whether (which I rather hope) we look further into that most essential article, the style of design, and endeavour to form it altogether in conformity with the taste of the Greeks, in which Annibal made such an illustrious beginning on his coming to Rome, as may be seen in many parts of the Farnese Gallery.104 Whichever of these plans of art the nation might fix in, the materials necessary towards succeeding can only be found in the collection which it has been the main object of this letter to obtain: there, and there only, shall we be enabled to find that which can qualify us to succeed, when used with genius, and superinduced upon our own (never to be lost sight of) studies after nature. The further prosecution of this plan of Annibal in uniting this Grecian style of design to the other necessary essentials of a picture, was certainly the great desideratum of art; and though it has never since been absolutely out of view, and sometimes incidentally occurred in conversation and written speculations, yet it was but little employed in practice, either by the Italians or French, as I have had ample occasion to take the liberty of remarking in my inquiry into the real and imaginary obstructions to the acquisition of the arts in England, the greatest part of which was written whilst I was abroad upon the spot, and which I published in 1775, very shortly after my return.105 My idea of writing on that subject arose from the ill-founded, scurrilous aspersions of the climate, genius and capacity of the people of our islands, which made part of a history of the art, written by the Abbe Wincleman, and (whilst I was at Rome) was much read and talked of, to the great annoyance of our little colony, at the English Coffee-house.106 I soon found, on enquiring into the subject, that Wincleman was, in this abuse, only a gleaner after two illustrious Frenchmen,107 who began the attack some years before, and maintained it in a manner very ill according, and altogether unworthy, the liberal abilities and fine genius which were so apparent in all the other parts of what they had written. The detection of the sophism, or the mistake upon which their discourteous, uncivil body of reasoning was founded, lay so peculiarly in the way of an artist of information, that I saw myself in possession of an advantaged ground, which would fortunately bring even me to a level with those great characters; and accordingly, in that enquiry above mentioned, I have added to the arguments of Abbé Wincleman, those of the President Montesquieu, and of the Abbé du Boss and have offered the best deletion and refutation of them in my power;108 and which I had then good reason to hope, and have long since had the satisfaction to find, was sufficient and ample apology for the climate of our islands, for the characteristic qualities of the genius of our people, and for the removal of that ungracious, mischievous stigma, which they endeavoured to fix upon the efforts of our native artists, already so much and vexatiously oppressed by a variety of other causes.109 The nature of the subject I had undertaken, obliged me in the course of that enquiry frequently to remark, that the arts in Italy and France had gradually declined into imitations of the lower species of excellence, which, even when obtained, could not bring much credit, although it must be confessed that great genius and ability had unfortunately been wasted in the pursuit: and be it said without offence, that the followers of Cortona, Conca, Ricci, Jordano, Le Moine, Boucher, Pierre, and even Carlo Vanloo, could not be expected to arrive at any great things.110 However, if good is transitory, and passes away from us, so does evil: and it is with a heartfelt pleasure I find myself now enabled to interrupt this censure, as, according to all the late accounts of the state of arts in France, a higher and a much better order of things has been recently substituted in the place of their former corruptions;111 and the sublime, venerable, majestic, genuine simplicity of the Grecian taste, utterly estranged from all mean affectation, from the précieuse or the grimace and blustering, and incorporated with all that might be derived from the illustrious moderns towards forming a complete and perfect totality, is now renovated, or indeed rather created, and for the first time brought into existence in that country: since it is certain that, on the one hand, Annibal Caracci, and Domenichino, had but made a beginning, and did not go far enough in the gusto of Grecian design; and on the other hand, that (every thing fairly considered and acknowledged), from all that remains of the ancient painting, it is highly probable that even the works of their best painters were very defective in some essential parts of the art, where many of the illustrious moderns have left us nothing to wish for. With hands lift up to Heaven, and a heart full of exultation, I then hail the generous exertion of David and his noble fellow-labourers in that glorious undertaking, wishing it a long and a prosperous carriere.112 How happy am I to think, that they have a public who will meet their work with correspondent feelings, who will give it the same generous, becoming, patriotic reception, which has ever so peculiarly and so exemplarily characterised that gallant nation! As this new style of painting, founded upon the Grecian character of design, is of such recent introduction in France, is so utterly the reverse of every pursuit of art that was in use with them in my time,113 it would be a great satisfaction (to me at least an exceeding great one) to know by what artist this revolution in the style of design was first introduced; in what picture it was first shewn; when, where, and whether the first suggestion of the idea of this revolution in the taste of art, had no other circumstance connected with it, than the general spirit of reform, and the desire of preparing and adapting art to the purity and feelings of those descendants of Brutus, Dion, and Cato, who would be likely to come forward in the cause of the public and of virtue.114 The British artists on this side of the Channel are naturally anxious observers of what is doing by their brethren on the other side. We have long been endeavouring to have the glory of rivalling and winning from them the palm of victory; and in many instances we have greatly profited by that endeavour. They would themselves have great satisfaction in what we could shew them of our Reynolds, Wilson, Barrett,115 and some others, who in their several departments will perhaps with difficulty be outdone. We feel disposed to dispute and contend with our brethren in France, just as they do with each other, by every generous effort to excel, and distinguish ourselves for rendering superior services to the art, and to the public, without in the least detracting from that candour, esteem, and fraternal respect and affection which ought, and I hope will, ever result from the congeniality of our feelings and pursuit. The grand style of art now pursuing in France does high honour to their choice who adopted it; and as my attention has been so long turned that way, as to give me a clear view of its value, I sincerely hope they will now, in the close of the eighteenth century, and with the glorious collection of pictures which gives such brilliancy to the Louvre, be able wisely to keep the right channel between the Scylla and Charybdis on either side.116 The Statuino manner,117 the dry, miserable, bald poverty, resulting from such an over-scrupulous attention, as even to imitate the very imperfections which attach from the nature of the materials, or of the want of science in many of the Greek basso-relievos, may possibly be as wide of the true mark, as if no attention had been paid to those antiques; although, to the unskilful, who are not of the art, such work might, from its conformity with certain inevitable defects in all imitations with such a material as marble, and with the imperfect state of the science in the ancient bass-reliefs, appear more Grecian than the truer and better style, which, with a wise and just licence, and adoption of completer science, might be formed out of the same admirable materials. Poussin118 has made an excellent use of the antiques; but it might still be carried further, and of a higher zest, particularly in large works. The superior energy and animation of Rafaelle119 may be as compatible with the most refined Greek forms as with any other. The style and perfections of the Laocoon120 might be blended with the fine picturesque ingredients of the manner of Rubens, Vandyk, Paul Veronese, or Rembrandt,121 not only without injury, but with much, nay infinite advantage; the form of the Laocoon would then be at home, accompanied with what naturally belongs to it. This would be art indeed; and from my soul I wish the French artists success in the pursuit, and that their men of genius may never know the vexation of having their hands brutally tied up from it by influence, combination, cabal, or curse of any kind. Nothing can exceed the mortification of being only enabled to speak or to scribble about that which one feels an eagerness and a capacity for executing in another and a much more effectual way.

This sublime union of all the great qualities of art was the last undertaking necessary towards its completion. Contracted to a point at the outset, a mere embryo and gross imperfect resemblance of the general form of objects, it required a long tract of time, and ingenious, various and great labour in developing, discriminating, and working up the component parts of this mass. Looking back, for a moment, upon this early progressional state of things, one cannot help remarking, and it is for the interest of mankind to remark such a fact, that the whole entire growth of art is peculiarly and exclusively to be ascribed to the laborious, generous, successful culture of the citizens of the little Republic of Florence.122 Malvasia,123 and the other writers of the different schools of art in Italy, may contend for the mere barren fact of having painters at the same time, and equally unformed with Cimabue, Giotto, or such like;124 but they cannot pretend that the people under any other government in Italy had been able to raise the arts out of this state of general barbarism, until they were taught it by imitating and forming themselves upon the successful labours of that carriere which commenced at Florence with Bruneleschi, Massaccio, Ghiberti and Donato,125 and finished almost a century after with Lippi, Da Vinci, Fra. Bartolomeo, and Michael Angelo.126 But little could have been expected at Rome in that time, as the Popes newly returned from their exile at Avignon had ample employment in establishing their government;127 a circumstance the most fortunate for art, as by that means space was left in that capital of the world, for the reception of that art which the Republic of Florence had fostered and reared up to maturity, and which, from this very circumstance had, by so filling their churches and palaces with the productions of the several necessary stages of this progress, left them little or no space remaining for the enjoyment of any specimens of what they had thus brought to its mature perfection. Happily, Divine Providence seems to have kept Rome in reverse, as a magnificent theatre for the exhibition of this grand spectacle of intellectual entertainment, from whence it should soon be communicated to the rest of Europe.

Would to Heaven that some great and good man, possessed of the eloquence of a Burke, a Rousseau, a Bossuet, or a Fenelon,128 should in this momentous crisis of Revolutions129 (when the happiness or misery of ages is pending upon the issue), come nobly forward, at any risk, as the blessed advocate for that constitution of things which is likely to be most productive of that happiness which results from intellectual, virtuous culture, and from those ingenious arts which constitute the very pabulum and nutriment of this virtue and culture of the intellect! The vindictive, tempestuous passions of our nature will be always sure to make ample provision for occasions of strife, for military establishments,and consequently for those modes of government which are best adapted to such views: although this is, perhaps, inevitable for the most part; yet one might hope there would be always found magnanimity enough in human nature to permit, as the Greeks had so gloriously, and for such a long time, permitted, a sacred territory apart governed by its own pacific laws, which were respected by all contending parties. There is nothing in all the Grecian story which can exhibit that very belligerent people in a more graceful, amiable, and becoming point of view, than their admirable, salutary, exemplary conduct in this particular: and yet, what could any man say of the sacred territory of Elis,130 that might not be affirmed (with many additional arguments of inexpressible advantage) of the Papal government at Rome? How easy would it be, without rashly destroying it, to weed out discreetly and prudently any of those defects and abuses which might attach from length of time, and from the very excusable infirmity ever inseparable from human nature in all conceivable situations and concerns! How easy, without loss of its dignity, to accommodate it to any existing circumstance! But there will be no need to wish for the eloquence of a great man, on an occasion so deeply interesting to humanity: the French are a wise and a great people, who have been long distinguished by their predilection for those arts which humanize, and are not likely to forego any occasions of practising their usual magnanimity. The Papal government cannot want persuasive advocates amongst a people so happily enlightened: and as for any republics that might grow up in Italy, they will be so well acquainted with the value of the Papal government, as to make every effort for preserving it in a flourishing state. The infinite importance of such a government as the Papal to the arts which humanize society, has been long an object of my deepest meditation; and I have before had occasion, in my printed letter to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, from the 24th to the 32d page, to touch a little upon the great and essential advantages derived to Europe from its connexion with the Papal government;131 and as it is impossible to reflect upon the growth and advancement of those arts which tend to meliorate and humanize society, without recurring to the same venerable source, I have, in the introductory Lecture to my Course in the Academy, been also led to take notice of a few particulars132 which, as they will come in very well here, I shall transcribe, without caring much whether it be digressing or not.

It is curious to reflect, that the exertions of art seem to arise from the disappointment of the human mind, sated, disgusted, and tired with the monotony of the real persons and things which this world affords, so full of imperfection, and accompanied with so much misery, strife, and injustice. In proportion to the serenity and goodness of the mind, it naturally turns away from such a state of things, in search of some other, more grateful and consoling; and it has a natural horror of those atheistical cavils which would malignantly deprive it of all other resource, by mercilessly chaining it down to the scene before it. Hence it arises that the minds of men, in all ages and places, where they were at leisure, and happily relieved from the oppressions of war, tyrannies, and all their horrid train of consequent miseries, have naturally dilated and found consolation in the objects of religion, which they would anticipate and realize by their endeavours to cut or carve them in blocks of wood or stone, which, whether detached from their parent rocks, and set up in high and honoured places of frequent resort, or, as was probably the more ancient way, cut into and making part of immense excavations, as is seen in the mountains of India.133 Whether the subject matter of religion be well or ill reasoned upon in these detailed efforts; whether it be taken from the various incarnations of the Indian Vistnou,134 from the more elegant ideas and forms of the Greek Mythology, or from the more consoling, just, and happily adapted matter resulting from the more equitable rational hopes and fears inculcated by the Christian religion; yet the whole taken together forms an astonishing chain of the most indubitable proof of the extreme thirst of the mind for a more satisfactory state of things, and of its natural recurrence to the arts of design, as the first, the universal and most natural written language, which, in furnishing the means of expressing this universal testimony, affords a happy and the only opportunity of tracing human nature through an immense tract of ages; through India, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. And although whatever was not connected with the religion of those people, was not thought of as worthy the commemorating, yet many other matters and usages are luckily preserved by their incidental connexion with this superior matter, which otherwise would now be utterly lost to us: and, every thing fairly and fully considered, what should we have known of the ancient nations, their arts and knowledges, were it not for the stimulous135 which religion afforded to the human exertions? What other motives ever did or could supply its place?

The deplorable calamities of wars, rapine, and every misery which for many centuries deluged Italy, during the ambitious contests of rival Emperors, elected by the different legions and bands of soldiery; the incursions of the northern barbarians, who destroyed those Emperors, and divided the spoil of the country; and the struggles of these with the succeeding inundations of other northern hordes, equally savage;136 their long contests in the aggregate masses, and afterwards in the no less mischievous fragments into which they were frittered, left the mind no leisure, but wholly occupied it in contriving for the necessary security of mere bodily existence. However, though late, this fermentation did at last, more or less, subside into settled governments; and the embers of the arts of design, and indeed of all other arts and knowledges, which had been providentially kept alive by the (poor and ever to be esteemed) monks of the Greek and Latin churches, were again kindled into a flame, by a people who at last felt themselves at ease, and in a condition to cultivate intellectual enjoyments:137 and therefore, in the 13th century, John Cimabue, the disciple of a Greek Mosaic painter at Florence,138 was the glorious instrument of the resurrection of the arts of design in Italy, which a happy combination of moral causes had greatly contributed to advance and to perfect. The Christian religion, which happily was then universally established, opened a new and a large field for the exercise of the arts, in order to provide pictures and statues for their churches, as necessary helps and furtherances to piety; serving at once as books, intelligible to the unlettered, and for memorials to assist the recollection and give a fervour to the hearts of those who were better informed. And whenever the works of art have not answered these purposes, it is an abuse to which every, even the best things, are liable, as the fault lies not in the art, but in the artist, or in the employer, who suffers, or rather more frequently conditions for, and encourages the abuse.

From what has been observed respecting the Egyptians, it is very apparent that nothing can be a greater bar and impediment to the advancement and dignified exertion of art, than a contracted, mean, grovelling disposition in the artist, whether it arises from the political debasement of the rank he fills in society, or from his own sordid, contemptible election;139 as under either of these states men are deprived of the necessary advantages of education, and cannot give the reins to that noble heroic spirit which is the true foundation of original expansive ability and personal worth. But, under the Christian dispensation, the successors of Cimabue were fortunately annoyed by no influences obstructive to their advancement. Christianity had so elucidated that question concerning the natural rights and legal equality of mankind, as to make the sullen spirit of despotism or absolute tyranny utterly inconsistent with all its governments, of whatever form; and even the philosophy of Socrates140 (so creative of exalted worth and ability among the Grecians) was not more generous, or farther removed from narrow unproductive selfishness, than the rigid self-denial, philanthropy, beneficence, and unceasing intellectual culture, which Christianity so pressingly recommends. Christianity is indeed the perfection of the Socratic doctrines, with elucidations and motives for the performance of them of which Socrates had no knowledge. These are the great and only sources of all admirable, sublime exertions; and therefore, if the Italians have not carried some parts of the art to as high a pitch of perfection as the Grecians, other causes, sufficiently obvious, will fully account for it, without our foolishly supposing that religion prevented it; and, notwithstanding what Shaftesbury, Webb,141 or other late writers, have unwisely, peevishly, insinuated to the contrary, yet assuredly Christianity is far from being hostile to genius; and there have been too many noble monuments of Christian art executed within the three last centuries, for us to entertain the least doubt of the compatibility of our religion with the highest flights of imagination. If we be but sufficiently grounded in other matters, in science and general education, the materials of Christianity are capable of any thing. Phidias, Parhasius, and Apelles,142 knew nothing which in our situation they might not employ with success.

Notwithstanding the inevitable jarring143 from the varieties of men's dispositions, interests, and circumstances, yet it is a well known and a true maxim, That in all Republics or constitutions of society, according to whatever way the citizens are reared up, so they shall be found to be.144—But, without entering upon abstract reasonings, on all the possible advantages that science and art might fairly derive from the doctrines of Christianity, from the suppression of barren selfishness, and fraternal equality, and the intellectual culture which, upon a just statement, will be found to form the tissue and the very essence of Christianity, we may even content ourselves with the mere matter of fact, as exhibited in the Papal Government at Rome; and there it has been abundantly apparent, that the time, the attention, and the wealth employed for the public in the culture of those arts and intellectual accomplishments which elevate human nature to its real dignity, above mere sensual and brutal existence, forms an aera in the history of mankind, not less new than admirable and amiable, more especially if we compare this pacific scene of intellectual exertion with the horrors and carnage of preceding military Governments of brutal force, under the pompous titles of Roman Commonwealth or Roman Empire, which for so many ages had deluged or disgraced the world. The name of Civil Society was, is, and ever will be, ill bestowed upon such hordes and combinations of robbers or assassins.

Neither our time nor the subject we have in hand will allow us to go far in our remarks on this Pontifical Republic at Rome, this universal treasury and theatre for the culture and support of the education of Europe, where, throwing aside all privilege, rank, and claims of family and promogeniture, every thing was devoted to the general promotion of intellect. All its honours and rewards, its mitres, purple hats, and tiara, accessible to all, to every condition, where superior worth and ability could be found, diffused such a spirit throughout Europe, as was best calculated to wrestle with the brutal ferocity of the dark Gothic ages, and, sooner or later, could not fail of being attended with the most extensive salutary effects. Their ascendancy and power derived from intellect: whatever could be gained in this way, was from the state of celibacy to which they had reduced themselves, necessarily dispensed in the way best calculated to furnish the means and increase to this ascendancy, and consequently in a manner most profitable to the world. It is to no purpose to cavil at those abuses which, from the frailty of man, will sometimes accompany the uses of the best things. We all know that the worst conceivable things are the abuses of the best; and we may therefore fairly and justly give them full credit for the early nurture, cultivation, and, I had almost said, mature and vigorous perfection of whatever we have most reason to value ourselves for, either as compared to the animals beneath us, or to the rest of our own species, scattered over the other parts of the globe. With respect to those arts which principally form the object of attention in this Academy, however pleasing it may be to reflect on the different monuments of their culture, in the churches and convents of the several countries of Europe; yet it was at Rome where all this intellectual influence concentrated; it was there that the mind was astonished, delighted, and enabled to contemplate with rapture, the sublimities to which art had arrived: and it will not be from our purpose to close these observations with remarking, that, even in the hereditary aristocracy at Venice,145 where the profession of arts and letters were foolishly considered as beneath the nobles, the commonalty intimidated at an awful distance, and consequently destitute of the necessary ambition of excelling, and there being no third estate,146 its effects in the arts may be seen accordingly; for whilst the human mind made the noblest excursions in the Vatican and Capella Sistina, under the auspices of the Roman Pontiffs, the genius of the Venetians was cultivating the mechanical branches of art, the colouring and chiaro-scuro, which Giorgione had imported from L. da Vinci, the Florentine.147

Art has never flourished as a useless foppery and appendage to luxury; quite the reverse: worthlessness, imbecility, and destruction, have always been the consequence of its passing into that state; and the vulgar error of supposing otherways, can only have arisen from inattention, want of feeling, and the absurdity, not to say mean adulation, of magnifying its accidental casual connexion with patronage, into something staminal148 and essential to its growth and perfection. No, no, base time-servers! it may answer your sinister views to say so, but nothing can be more irreconcileable with fact. Art appeared in Greece and Italy with so much splendor, only because the public of Greece and Italy had the feeling, wisdom, and love of virtue, to discover the peculiar extension and facility of its application to purposes the most interesting and valuable. It was then as a matter of public utility and interest, that the churches and convents of Italy, which may be considered as powerful citizens of a great republic, completely independent, and so uninfluenced by each other, as to admit of the most liberal, generous rivalship, and, by their collision, happily afforded for advancing and perfecting art, a mass of continued employment, the most steady, uninterrupted, extensive, and stimulating, the world had ever known. In fashionable language, this mass of employment, this commerce of mutual considerations and advantages has been called patronage; a term the most impertinent and ill-applied, as is abundantly evident in the history of art, where unhappily we too often find its vigour and growth, stunted and liable to blight when the great and their patronage came unluckily to interfere and tamper with it.

As I have in another place*149 had occasion to touch a little upon an instance or two of domestic misfortune in the way of patronage, I shall go on to something of more importance, though less likely to give offence, as the parties are all long since removed from this scene of strife, and sometimes of oppression: and although I cannot spare the time for the polishing and labour necessary to fit these observations for the public view, yet they must not be thrown away; and as they regard very illustrious personages, and very important events, I must at least find the time to fling them out as they occur to me, and rely for my excuse upon the candour and indulgence of the Dilettanti Society, and of the public. The life of Lionardo da Vinci furnishes abundant illustration of all which we have been observing, and to a degree so mischievous and destructive, that there are no words of weight and magnitude sufficient to satisfy me in speaking of it. This (I was going to say more than man) Vinci appears to have been about three years older than the celebrated Magnifico Lorenzo de Medicis,150 and lived, or rather lounged away at Florence and under his eye, the forty-four years of the life of this Magnifico, possibly without notice, but certainly without any opportunity afforded him for the exercise of his talents; and when in 1494, two years after the death of Magnifico, Lionardo, for the first time, quitted Florence, upon the invitation of Duke Sforza,151 at Milan, it appears, according to the account in Vasari; that he, to give it in his own words, "Fu condotto à Milano con gran riputatione Lionardo al Duca, il quale molto si dilettava del suono della lira, perchè sonasse, e Lionardo porto quello stromento, ch' egli haveva di sua mano fabricato d'argento gran parte, in forma d'un teschio di cavallo, cosa bizzarra, e nuova, accioche, l'armonia fosse con maggior tuba, e piu sonora di voce, laonde superò tutti i musici, che quivi crano concorsi à sonare. Oltra ciò fu il migliore dicitore di rime all' improviso del tempo suo. Sentendo il Duca i ragionamenti tanto mirabili di Lionardo, talmente s'innamorò delle sue virtu, ch' era cosa incredibile."152 Here it appears, that even Lionardo, with all his abilities, as the creator or discoverer of all those several perfections that have ennobled modern art, and that, even though disjoined and broken by his successors, have given the glorious characteristic to their several schools. Raffaelle at Rome, with one part, M. Angelo with another, and Giorgione, Titian, Fra. Bartolomeo, and Correggio, with the remaining fragments. Yet, with all this, his own peculiarly so, and united and incorporated into the same mass, under his sagacious hands, it notwithstanding appears, that the principal inducement for inviting him to Milan was of quite another kind, viz. to play on his curious silver lyre, to declaim and sing extempore verses; and out of the mere accident of this concurrence of qualities in the same person, arose the subordinate secondary consideration of giving him some employment as a painter. After Sforza's death, and the breaking up of the academy at Milan, in the management of which, as well as in the aqueduct business,153 Lionardo must have wasted much time; we find him again at Florence, when that town had, by driving out the Medici, recovered its liberty, and then, for the first time, Lionardo was employed (by the Chief Magistrate and Senate) in the public work of the famous Battle for the Standard,154 the cartoon of which he executed in the Town-Hall, in concurrence with the other celebrated work of M. Angelo; and afterwards, upon the return of the Medici to Florence, we find Lionardo quitted that place, and went to Rome, offering his services to Leo X.155 the younger son of the Magnifico, his old, useless, unfeeling, looker-on; and we find him so mortifyingly received at Rome, that he shortly after quitted, not only Rome, but Italy, and threw himself into the arms of strangers, where he laid down a life of anxiety and vexations, resulting from the consciousness of talents that had been almost employed, never in the extent to which they were adequate; and, to crown all, with the addition of knowing that his rivals, or more properly, his imitators and followers, had the good fortune of enjoying an ample field for exercising those shreds of ability they had borrowed from him. The prospect sickens me; I cannot go on. Were we to enquire, why so shocking a waste, and of such capabilities, should have been permitted in the wise designs of all-governing Providence, I know of no other answer likely to occur, but that this matter was thus harshly, forcibly, and glaringly held out as a beacon or great light, compassionately discovering the delusions of patronage and its sinister politics, the better to excite the horror and execration of all succeeding generations. Let me, however, make my acknowledgments here, which I do with every recognition and congratulation, to Mr. Roscoe, for the great pleasure I have received in reading his very admirable, manly work of the life of this (I must, after all, call him our) Magnifico: as it is well shewn, and in a manner that does honour both to the head and heart of Mr. Roscoe,156 that the great Lorenzo possessed so much, and such great excellence, that I cannot possibly refuse to honour his name with respect and veneration. Indeed, every man's experience has but too often shewn, with how much unhappy facility great men, deeply engaged in the furthering of one pursuit, are liable to overlook excellence, however transcendant, when it lies out of the vortex of their own enquiries. Besides, as the Magnifico could have been of no other use to the artist than to furnish a field for the exercise of talents, in which he could have no part but as a patron, he might be easily inclined to turn his attention another way, in which himself could be more an actor: and it is not an uncommon thing, at this day, to see great men engaged in similar pursuits, of antiquities, books, and medals (though in an inferior degree to Lorenzo), who find (unhappily for their country) for art and more satisfaction157 in fostering and endeavouring to instruct, and to rear up, young artists, than in contriving to find employment for those whose talents are formed, and with an industry that had been better spared, thus perversely multiply, and successively perpetuate, that which is never to be used, and indeed never has been used but by men of a very different and a much nobler character, who can bear to see grand exertions without sickening at the prospect. Was there no great man at Florence who could endure the splendor and transcendency of Vinci's abilities; or did the Magnifico prevent it? How many medalists, little gem-cutters, and such like, had the ear of the Magnifico? and could he have been so absurd as to estimate Vinci only from their reports of him? Impossible! he must have known better! there must have been something rotten and bad at heart in the Magnifico, and indeed in all that species of character: they only want a cloak to conceal their envy, and they can easily find it at all times. However, out of compliment to Mr. Roscoe, I will suppose otherwise, and that it is from the mere pre-occupation of little inferior artists, that these patrons, these Magnifico's, are generally so ill-directed in all times, and has more than any thing else contributed to obstruct and to prevent the public from deriving that satisfaction and benefit which would result from the unrestrained, glorious exertions of great artists. They are much mistaken who would suppose that art can derive any advantage from the circumstance of seeing artists much in the familiarity, or at the tables of the great. Not to speak of the pimps and buffoons upon whom these favors are usually lavished in corrupt times: yet, at the best, the great seldom think of arts, but merely, pour délasser, as an amusing relaxation from serious pursuits, and generally find it much pleasanter, more grateful to self-importance, to have those about them to whom they can communicate ideas and teach, rather than run the danger of being themselves taught, how the arts might be employed to some grand purpose in the service of the community. Such a man as Vinci could not answer half so well to laugh at, or to play the under part of adulation, in receiving the luminous hints which flash from the heads of these Mecenati,158 as a more inferior trifling artist: and I believe in general it will be found true, that great artists, and their cognate ideas and intentions of great public service, have but seldom received benefit or assistance from any individual of very shining talents. I say individual; for it may be different when that individual acts in community, as in a Society like that for the Encouragement of Arts, that of the Dilettanti and such like, or when such individual acts subordinately as a trustee, which was the case of Mecaenas and Colbert.159 It is only the men of plain, useful, good sense, with hearts strongly biassed to integrity and the public service, like Mr. Tooke, of the Temple, that will ever think of the liberality of raising a fence for the security of a man of genius and abilities, persecuted and driven from one profession to another, like Mr. John Horne;160 and, as the world is at no time without good men, it is much to be regretted that such a character as Vinci had not found out, or was not found, by some good citizen, like Mr. Tooke. The glory that would have infallibly followed his name, annexed to that of Vinci, would have been well and honestly purchased by that essential service to the art, and to the public, which such timely assistance would have enabled Vinci to perform.

I have been sometimes almost of opinion, that the overmuch attention to intaglio's, cameo's, bronzes, manuscripts, and other antiquities, is likely to be often attended with mischievous consequences, more especially in princes and great men: their minds will be contracted and narrowed by such studies, which cannot fail to make them like little artists, so filled with the vanity, self-importance,and rarity of their own acquisitions, as that they seldom or never are of any use in furthering great men, or great, original, national works: indeed their hostility is more to be feared, than their support is to be expected. These studies are of admirable use to an artist who can make them subservient to his grand views with respect to modern original compositions in painting and sculpture. And, so far as the expending large sums in collecting and making museums, filled with those antiques for the study of the public, both artists and cognoscenti, the Medici family, and other great collectors, have been useful to art and great artists. But I believe it will be found, on mature candid examination, that the utility of those great collectors goes no farther. These reflections can by no means apply to the collections of such gentlemen as Mr. Townley, or the late Dr. Hunter,161 the overplus of whose limited fortunes could not be more wisely, desirably, or usefully employed, than when solely and exclusively thus applied in the service of the public, more especially when we recollect their manly, patriotic disposition; and a few others of similar character that might be mentioned, equally zealous and ardent for the success of all enterprises that might add to the reputation of national art. I shall never forget the satisfaction I received when in company with Messrs. Townley, Knight, Windham, Wilbraham, and I believe Mr. Peechy: 162the late Mr. Wedgwood163, on shewing us his copy of the famous antique large cameo vase, together with the original, informed us, that when the Duke of Portland favoured him with the loan of this so very deservedly celebrated antique, his Grace added, that nothing could give him more pleasure than to see some native who was able to do a similar work of more excellence. Such truly noble patriotic characters as these will always stand as exceptions to our observation above stated, and do not interfere with its application as generally true: we may then go on with stating, that the great personages who are likely to employ great artists in works of much consequence, are men of a very different character from those of the Medici; such as Pope Julius the Second, Agostino Ghigi, the merchant, Cardinal Farnese,164 and, above all, those who administer for the churches and convents. The famous works of the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel, by Rafaelle and M. Angelo, were both begun by Julius the Second, of the family of Rovere, to whom we ought to give the whole credit of the patronage (if it is to be so called); and,shocking to think, but it also appears, that even M. Angelo, though reared up by Lorenzo de Medici, with his children Peter, John, and Julian, lounged away (as Condivi complains) many years without work; and the employment which Leo the Tenth gave him, or rather forced upon him, was puzzled, insidious, and eventually proved of the most excruciating and vexatious kind;165 and the tears with which poor Michael set out for Florence, where the commission lay, were ominous, and almost instinctive presages of the destruction of so much of his time in contriving roads for the quarries of Seravezza, and in all the other miserable, contemptible attentions in which he was employed during the life of Leo the Tenth, and thus withheld and prevented from finishing his grand work of the monument for Julius the Second, where all his abilities as a sculptor would have concentrated. Let any man only put together in his imagination the celebrated Moses at St. Pietro in Vincoli, and the thirty-nine other statues with the bass-relievos, and he may well conclude with Vasari, that it would have been "ottimo testimonio della virtù di Michelagnolo, che di bellezza, e di superbia, e di grande ornamento, e ricchezza di statue passava ogni antica, et Imperiale sepoltura."166 During the papacy of Adriano, the successor of Leo the Tenth, all patronage of the arts was withdrawn, and M. Angelo happily left to carry on his Caput Opera, this monument for Julius;167 but unfortunately Adrian's reign was short, and, on the coming in of Clement VII. another of this blessed family of the Medici, M. Angelo was again torn from his monument, never to go to it any more, and obliged to employ himself upon matters of (comparatively speaking) infinitely less importance in the Capella Laurentiana. We may add to this, by way of finishing, that the only employment of Rafaelle, that originated in Leo the Tenth, seems to have been the Cartoons, or designs for the tapestries, which, at the expence of 50,000 scudi d'oro, were executed in Flanders, and brought from thence to Rome, according to Panvinio168, by Leo, for ornamenting the pontifical apartments, whilst the admirable original Cartoons, from whence this trash of the tapestries were copied, were left at the manufactory in Flanders, neglected as things of little value, to be (fortunately for us) purchased by the Parliament of Great Britain for 7 or 10,000l. (I forget which) almost a century afterwards.169

But to come home; we have, however, some great characters, with minds of an admirable expansion and catholicity, so as to embrace the whole concerns of art, ancient as well as modern,domestic as well as foreign; who, superior to all sinister motives, can, whilst they find delight in sowing for the next generation, enjoy, and find a superior satisfaction, in endeavouring to persuade, and to enable the public to reap and apply to immediate use, whatever harvest of cotemporary abilities the good providence of God had placed within their reach. Such a man was Mr. Edmund Burke:170 his means, indeed, would not allow him to enter far upon those expensive exertions which might attract much public notice; but, as far as ardent patriotic inclination and information, the most extensive and happily selected,could be united in the same person, they were united in him; he was the completest specimen of that kind I have ever met with: this was well known to his friends, Athenia Stewart, to Sir Joshua, to myself, and others, and might have been well expected from the author of those admirable tracts with which he began his career of life. And however others might think, they will, I hope, allow me to regret that he had ever been diverted from this track to the pursuit of politics, in a scene where matters had been so embroiled by inveterate usages, of long standing, that it was impossible for him or any one else to do much good. Of this truth he has himself, after some years experience, and when it was too late to retreat, left an admirable record in his "Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents," printed by Dodsley, in 1770. This book he gave me himself; and, by the unusually formal, significant manner in which he gave it, I have often thought since, that he wished, and meant me to read and consider, with due attention, the opinion (which to the great shame of the time) he had formed of his own hopes and prospects, and how little reason I should have to expect him to be my stickler in any difference that might arise (and which he saw rising) between me and Sir Joshua, to whom, as he often told me (and as has since appeared to the public by Sir Joshua's will), he was under very considerable pecuniary obligations, and even at the time that he was himself obliging me in a similar way. Had I then rightly considered the matter, or had he ventured to be a little more explicit, my precipitate estrangement could not have taken place. But his acquaintance with Sir Joshua Reynolds was of longer standing than his acquaintance with me; I was a continued trouble and expence to him, and I could no longer bear the thought of continuing to render his house unpleasant by my frequent bickerings with Sir Joshua, who, to say the truth, acted somewhat weakly with respect to me; and, on the other side, I was myself much to blame with respect to him: my notions of candour and liberality between artists who were friends, were too juvenile, and romantically strained too high for human frailty in the general occurrences of life. Disappointed in not finding more in poor Sir Joshua, I was not then in a humour to make a just estimate of the many excellent qualities I might have really found in him. But there is nothing rightly appreciated without that comparison with other things of the same nature, which time and long experience only can enable us to make. I have, however, some consolation in reflecting that, for the last two years of his life, we were both so sensible of our mutual mistakes as to admit the renewal of a friendly intercourse, which will ever be grateful to my recollection. Perhaps, nay, indeed, I now believe, that every thing has been providentially ordered for the best. My exertions have necessarily been more vigorous and more variegated, in the insulated state which this difference with Sir Joshua occasioned, than they would have been in any other. This is the desideratum of existence; and happily, although I quitted, and somewhat harshly, the nest Mr. Burke's kindness and friendship afforded me, yet it was not before I was in a condition to fly and provide for myself. But Mr. Burke, my first friend, is now gone! the peace of God be for ever with him! and, notwithstanding the whirlwind of politics in which (to the great injury of art) the public attention has been so long, and is still so deeply engaged, there is still, thank God, yet remaining, and I hope with unabated ardour, a Society of Dilettanti, a Society for the Encouragement of Arts, and some others, interested in whatever is for the reputation and real honour of the nation; and it may be looked for, from the high information of the age, that a little time, experience, and true patriotism, will add to their number.

But to come back to Lionardo, and to the family of the Medici.—Had such a man as the Magnifico fortunately bestowed no attention on art, and employed, or, to use the vulgar phrase, encouraged no artist whatever, he could have been then chargeable with only an act of omission; but he never could have countenanced, encouraged, employed, or recommended, any painter, during his whole life, without hostility and injury, not only to the feelings and reputation of Lionardo da Vinci, but also to the art, to his country, and to succeeding generations. Such great men as the Magnifico, with all conceivable influence in their hands, cannot build or raise up any thing, without endeavouring to destroy and level with the dust whatever stands in the way of their intentions: the one presupposes the other. I have been sometimes tempted to think, that this neglect of Vinci by the Magnifico, and his son Leo the Tenth, arose from something too mysterious and enveloped with secrecy and darkness, to have made its way to our knowledge. Can it be that the Magnifico envied him, as Cardinal Richlieu is said to have envied and endeavoured to injure Corneille?171 but then he must have been politician enough to have provoked Vinci to some act which would continue the quarrel in his family to his son Leo. Or shall we suppose that there was something so nobly becoming a free citizen in Vinci's character, which could not be relished by this family of the Medici, who were subverting the liberties of their country? Something like this supposition will form a good clue to the rightly understanding certain particulars in the life of M. Angelo also, who, though greatly assisted in his education by this Magnifico, was found assisting his fellow citizens in 1526, by employing his skill in fortifying the town against that army with which this Medici family reinstated themselves after their expulsion. How hypocritical, how deep are the disguised politics of ambition, whatever be its object! how ingeniously perplexing is the gordian knot, in which it entangles all the events of history where those great personages take any concern. Good men, like Whitaker of Manchester, may come forward to tear off the mask which had for so long a time successfully concealed the fiend-like character of Elizabeth;172 but such matters as amount to no more than the merely obstructing the progress and advancement of ingenious arts, and only tyrannizing over the feelings of a Vinci or a Michael Angelo, and preventing the exertion of their talents, had been too often overlooked, or regarded as trifles by the ordinary class of historians, who have generally considered the world as made for Caesar, and have but very rarely looked any further than the mere gross matters of force or artifice, the field or the cabinet, by which his power has been maintained or taken from him by some other character more or less formed of the same materials. A good writer might, notwithstanding, gather laurels in this field, as these matters are very differently estimated, not only in the judgment of an Eachus or Rhadamanthus,173 but also by the good men of all places and times: and the cause of such men as Fenelon, Milton, Newton, Vinci, or Bonarotti, is more or less the cause of every man who endeavours at being useful in his generation, and will sooner or later be recognised accordingly.174 However, whether any man may or not think it worth his pains to detect these impositions in the history of the arts, I cannot, without disgust, see how Vasari trifles with his readers, in mentioning so frequently the versatility of Leonardo's disposition, his dissatisfaction with his works, his so frequently leaving things unfinished, and so forth.175 One is shocked to find those flimsy remarks occurring so often in writings upon art and artists. Any man might know, from his own woeful experience, that this is often occasioned by the necessity of finding occupation. Then it is that an active genius, debarred from pursuing the darling object of his wishes, is obliged to look out in search of something else; and his energy, though always great, has a desultory, fickle appearance, and seems to want the stability necessary for the completion of a single pursuit; this, perhaps, occasioned Vasari's mistake, if he was mistaken, and if his observation did not proceed from the little policy of making his court to the great, or at least avoiding to state any thing that might give them offence; a practice frequent enough with the makers of books, and is even sometimes attempted to be justified under the soft, ill-applied appellation of the honest, little arts of life; as if omission in certain matters did not constitute worthlessness as well as commission. However, poor Vasari is in general free enough from this meanness, as appears in many ticklish places of his excellent history; and he was, perhaps, only withheld from doing ample justice, in consequence of his partialities for M. Angelo.

No man can rejoice and be more thankful to Providence than I am, for the happy opportunities of exertion that were bestowed on M. Angelo and Rafaelle; at the same time one cannot, without great regret, think how the world should have been robbed of the exertions of the original proprietor and fabricator of those admirable principles upon which M. Angelo and Rafaelle practised. When we reflect that, from the casual, fortuitous separation and combination of circumstances, many artists, and much time must be lost, before the unique, identical combination of ingredients shall be brought together by accident, which form the character of such a man as Vinci, how profligate then, and horridly foolish, when you have such a man, to make no other use of his time and talents than to employ him in rearing up others, of whom the success must be always uncertain. If Milton had been always teaching, he probably never would have made such a man as himself, and the Paradise Lost, with a long et cetera, would never have existed. Great men ought to be employed to the utmost stretch of their abilities; they ought to have repeated opportunities of improving upon themselves; this would be the grand desideratum; their works would be the best teachers. I have no doubt but that if Annibal Carrache had patiently borne the brutal treatment, which unhappily and foolishly he permitted to break his heart;176 had he wisely passed it by as the fault of others, in which he could have no participation; and had he, after three or four years exercise of the public judgment, and of his own reflection upon what he had done, both as to matter and manner, at the Farnese Gallery, collected his spirits and good humour, and employed himself upon some other great work, even for nothing, if he could not get at it otherways, there can be no doubt, at least I have no doubt, but that he would have risen infinitely above his former work. This would be teaching indeed, and would be of more importance towards advancing and exalting art, than all the scattered, heedless, ill-directed, and perhaps peevish and insidious patronage of all the Princes in Europe, thrown away as it so frequently is, upon hopeless, barren, worthless matter. It is impossible for an artist to reflect upon this transaction respecting the disappointment and chagrin which occasioned the death of Annibal Carrache, without indignation and horror. For, although it must be allowed, that the subjects painted in the Farnese Gallery are of a most unhappy choice, neither connected with ethicks, public utility, or with any thing exemplary or proper for the decoration of the great gallery or chamber of audience of such a personage as Cardinal Farnese, yet these were the subjects in general use at the time, and might then pass in the palace of a great Roman Prince of the Farnese family;177 and Odoardo Farnese probably forgot the ecclesiastical part of his character, when he approved, and no doubt encouraged, the carrying these designs into execution at the outset, and required nothing farther but to see them terminated in perfection; and this Annibal performed with such ability and splendor of talents, as to carry after them the admiration of the world ever since. As to the objection, however just it was, it looks like an after-thought, which had escaped both the artist and his noble employer, and probably was overlooked, until the work came before the tribunal of the public. It would be too much to suppose, that Cardinal Farnese should have been for so many years altogether ignorant of the designs and subjects that Annibal was painting for him in his great gallery, or hall of audience; and yet nothing but this could (I will not say excuse) even afford the least palliation for the inhuman brutality of his conduct to such an artist.

But let me have done with these reflexions; I have no time to put them in any order. I wish they had been made by somebody else, who could command more leisure, so as that I might have been left to pursue my own work; it is a great shame, that in the course of 300 years some of them (at least) had not been made before. If an artist can bring himself to take away any considerable portion of his time and application from his own proper concerns, in order to collect any matter of writing that he may think of public utility, no more ought to be expected from him; it would be unreasonable in others to demand, and silly in him to enterprise, any thing further. Other men, who have nothing else to do, may easily, and with great propriety ought to bestow all necessary time and attention in trimming, shortening, and polishing what they write; and, though they need not scrupulously adhere to the letter of Pope's advice, by keeping it nine years,178 yet there is nothing to hinder their keeping it long enough for revision, and all the necessary purposes of corrections and polish; but this matter is very different with an artist; let him only take care to be understood, and that is enough. However, this business of patronage is so big with delusion, and delusion of the most mischievous and treacherous kind, that I do most ardently wish that some man of sufficient leisure, and such independence of circumstances and disposition as an advocate for truth ought to have, would, for the public benefit, handle this subject in its full extent, of times, places, persons, and circumstances; it would afford room for a fine display of taste and knowledge, exceedingly variegated; and, with, respect to the more essential matters of disposition and character, Tacitus himself could not wish for a subject more replete with occasions for useful observations.179 He would meet with matter of the most invidious, malignant kind, and yet so artfully concealed, confounded, and so politically enveloped, with the very reverse and most amiable appearances, as would require the utmost effort of his discriminating skill and penetration, before he could strip and drag it into the light in all its native deformity. And what such a man as Tacitus would relish much more, he might, in a Francis the First, and Lewis the Fourteenth, find something for the exercise of his panegyric,180 which no man knew better how to employ and work up with a grace; and Venustas,181 so finished, and admirably adapted to engage and interest humanity, could not fail of leaving the mind of his reader with a grateful relish not easily to be obliterated. Such a masterly hand might present his readers with a most delightful picture in this part of the character of Alexander regarding patronage:182 the unboundedly generous, magnanimous, unenvious nature of the man who could find delight to be the witness and commemorator of the utmost display of all the unrestrained abilities of the heroes, of every species, who formed the circle about him, and were probably more attracted to him by the very circumstance of this opportunity and safety of unrestrained display, than by any other hopes or rewards whatever. This would surely form (properly handled) one of the most striking passages in the history of human exertions; and yet it ought to be acknowledged, in just vindication of human nature, that in certain stages of education (which are not uncommon), these great characters may be always found ready to come forward, when our Alexanders will have the candour and fair dealing to bear with the display; and, instead of spreading terror by their meddling, will have the magnanimity to permit a smile or a reproof, even from mere colour-grinders, when they may be so imprudent and forgetful of themselves as to venture upon the decision of matters beyond their knowledge. Such a beautiful, and, I am sorry to add, uncommon feature in the character of Alexander, would engage his generous encomiast to combat with Voltaire,183 or with any other, and oblige him to do right and justice to his hero in the other parts of his character. He would insist upon the past, and the expected injuries of the Grecian people from the great King of the Asiatics, and he would send Nemesis herself as the conductor of Alexander across the Hellespont;184 and whenever youth, success, and1 human frailty, might sully any part of his journey with acts of passionate indiscretion, they would be obliterated by the graceful unction of the self-condemnation which followed, and by those admirable, equitable laws, and truly civilised Grecian usages, which his conquest enabled him to bestow upon the conquered, in lieu of that destructive barbarism, so hostile to every generous exertion which had long degraded the extensive and populous countries of Asia. In so much magnanimity, virtuous fortitude, and superiority to envy, vanity, and all those hateful base qualities, so obstructive to grand enterprises of every kind, how easily, and how satisfactorily we may recognise the Scholar of Aristotle. Had the exertions of Alexander's magnanimous disposition been displayed, even in a manufactory of artificial stone, or in a great scene of art, like that at the Vatican, the hardihood of his own example, and the attractions of his equitable, candid qualities, would soon encircle him with a band of heroes in the several departments of art, whose abilities would astonish Europe. Something like this appeared under the amiable and admirable Carraches at St. Michael, in Bosco, at Bologna.185

The deep researches and discoveries so infinitely important, for which art is indebted to Lionardo da Vinci, have been long a subject of my attention; and, during the thirteen years of my Professorship in the Academy, I have annually, in one mode or other, endeavoured to call the attention of the students to this great character, from whom so much had been, and was still to be learned. It was absolutely from his loins, that all th« Schools of Art in Europe have been impregnated with almost all the perfections that ennoble modern art. M. Angelo might, no doubt, have seen many drawings of Vinci, even of more importance to a young artist forming himself, than the small pen and ink drawing, which, with some others also engraved by Mr. Bartolozzi, were published by Mr. Chamberlin last year, from his Majesty's collection.186 Yet, supposing M. Angelo only to have seen that, or something like it, with G. Fran. Rustici,187 or any other friend of Vinci's, such a mind as Angelo's must there see at once almost all that he appears to have been in search of during his whole life, the naked body, employed in all the various actions and ways of pushing and pulling, variegated with such exquisite grace and delicacy, and with a purity and truth almost unequalled. In a word, he might see there all that could be desired from the most natural, faithful, and just use of the study of anatomy, in delineating the human body with fidelity and felicity, in all possible actions, which was Angelo's chief desideratum, and is now his greatest glory. What studies Vinci might have made from the antique statues or fragments, it is now difficult to say. His master Verrocchio must have had something in this way, as well as Ghiberti, Squarcione, and others.188 Moulding and making plaster casts, then much in use, must have so disseminated these matters, that no man, eager after perfection, could fail in obtaining them, and also the marble and bronze originals, collected by Cosmo and Lorenzo de Medici, though probably these last were bustos or other antiques more immediately connected with literary history; therefore, something in the way of ancient perfection, Vinci might, and probably did, see and study. A small matter would be sufficient for such a mind as his, who, of all the moderns, seems to have least stood in need of any such assistance; as he had himself started, and in the most admirable and complete manner, the very identical track of study pursued by the ancient Greeks; and I have little doubt, but that if he had been rightly employed, he was (with respect to every thing regarding the human form) able to dispute the palm with the stoutest of those Greeks, at the very time that he was obliged to trifle away his attention upon the Academy at Milan, or upon the still more damnable business of contriving the aqueduct for the river Adda. But to confine ourselves to what he actually did perform: Correggio seems to have formed himself upon Vinci more than on all the world besides. The truly divine sweetness and allegria, so spiritual and sentimentally exquisite, of some of Vinci's heads, is found every where in the works of Correggio: here he borrowed much, and ably, with the same relievo and fine broad piazzata manner.189 When I think of the copy of his S. Anna, Madonna, &c. in S. Celso, and of our unfinished Cartoon of the same design, in the Academy, and of some other similar vestiges of Vinci's abilities in this way, I cannot help regarding him, not only as divine (to use the warm Italian phrase), but also as unique.190 I have endeavoured at it; and yet I do not, nor cannot recollect even one single example amongst all the ancient statues, not to mention of the same excellence, but even of the same angelic exquisitely sentimental species. It seems something suggested by ideas arising from Christianity, which had never been called into existence before. I could much wish that some able man was to make a print of this Cartoon of S. Anna, &c. even in its unfinished, wretched state: the Academy could not do better, than to tempt to that end by some premium, in order to compensate for any possible neglect or inattention in the public to a work in such a state. I do not know whether there be any print of that at S. Celso: but if there be one, or any drawing of it, in the possession of any person who may chance to read this letter, I would be much obliged to him for a sight of it. I have, in another place, had occasion to touch a little upon the exaltation and melioration which Rafaelle endeavoured after, from what he saw in Vinci, and also upon what Giorgione, Titian, Fr. Bartolomeo, and Fra. Bastiano, borrowed from the same source, in the way of relievo and colouring. As to some coldblooded, shallow remarks, which Scannelli, and other flimsy observers after him, have made from the ruined appearance of Vinci's famous Cenacolo in the Refectory at Milan, these remarks should have been confined to the single instance from whence they arose, to the mere circumstance of the oil-colours (with which, unfortunately, the picture was painted on the wall of that convent), having (as Scannelli himself observes) been contaminated, and in great measure destroyed by the salts exuded from the mortar underneath. Scannelli, who was one of those eager prejudiced partisans, which have been the scandal of the several schools of Italy, had done better to have reserved his loquacity for some more pertinent occasion, as no one could then have any doubt, but that for a work of painting on mortar, oil-colours will not answer so well as fresco, and that Correggio was very right in preferring fresco to oil, in the painting his admirable dome at Parma:191 but to transfer the fault from the material to the work, and to apply it generally to other works where the material is not the same, must appear scandalously false and impertinent, particularly to any one who had seen Vinci's picture (half-figures) of Christ speaking to those around him, about his resurrection on the third day, in the possession of Don Paolo Borghesi.192 Or, not to go from the famous Cenacolo itself, any man that had seen the glorious studies in chalks and other crayons of the same size, for the heads and other essential parts of this very picture, must have been shocked at the injustice, rascality, and want of feeling of such observations. But as I mean to take a final leave of Lionardo, after the publication of this letter, it may not be amiss to terminate my little remarks on this illustrious character, by inserting here the following passage, transcribed from my Third Lecture, first read in the Academy, April 4, 1785. "In the stronger expressions also, Lionardo seems to have gone greater lengths than any cotemporary or succeeding artist, in marking the emotions of the soul in the action and countenance; his enthusiasm, though great, is always equalled by the coolness and solidity of his judgment. Truth and energy go hand in hand, in whatever I have seen, that was really his: there could not be a more happy example of this union, than his famous picture of the Last Supper at Milan. There is a print of this picture done from a drawing of Rubens;the deformities, slovenly and precipitate incorrectness of Ruben's style of drawing, is visible throughout; it gives but a lame idea of Vinci's work. The small copy at S. Germain Auxerrois is much better,193 though greatly wanting in the spirit and decision of the original: all that happy finesse in the diversity of character, expressive agitation, and tender sentiment, appear to have been but little felt, and are ill rendered by the cold, timid hand of the copyist. It may be that I saw this copy to too great a disadvantage (from the want of light and proximity), to do it justice; but the original, the glorious work of Lionardo, is now no more. I saw the last of it at Milan; for in passing through that city, on my return home (in company with my long-esteemed, amiable, and ingenious friend and brother Academician, Mr. Rigaud), I saw a scaffold erected in the Refectory, and one half of the picture painted over by one Pietro Mazzi.194 No one was at work, it being Sunday; but there were two men on the scaffold, one of whom was speaking to the other with much earnestness, about that part of the picture which had been repainted: I felt much agitated; and having no idea of his being an artist (much less the very identical artist who was employed to destroy so beautiful and venerable a ruin), I objected with warmth to the shocking and ignorant manner in which this was carried on, pointing out at the same time, the immense difference between that part that was untouched, and what had been repainted. He answered, that the new work was but a dead colour, and that the painter meant to go over it all again. Oh! malòre, said I, worse and worse! If this painter has thus lost his way, when he was immediately going over the lines and features of Lionardo's figures, what will become of him, when they are all thus blotted out, and that, without any guide in repassing over the work, he shall be utterly abandoned to his own ignorance! On my remonstrating afterwards with some of the Friars, and intreating them to take down the scaffold, and save the half of the picture which was yet remaining, they told me the Convent had no authority in this matter, and that it was done by order of the Count de Firmian, the Imperial Secretary of State. Thus perished one of the most justly celebrated monuments of modern art, particularly for that part of design which regards the skilful delineation of the various sentiments of the soul, in all the diversities of character, expression of countenance, and of action.*195

Last March I read what follows, inserted in this place, of that Lecture:—"Wright, in his account of the curiosities of Milan, mentions a room of the Marquis Casenedi, entirely furnished with drawings of Rafaelle, Carrachi, Del Sarto, and others;196 but, to use his own words, "Those which are most admirable in this collection, are the Cartoons of Lionardo da Vinci, done in chalks, but raised a little higher with other crayons; they are so excellent, that Raphael, as they affirm, there copied them all. He has certainly taken the countenance of one of them in his Transfiguration Piece; it is the figure below the mount, which holds the possessed boy; [img] at least the one put me very much in mind of the other. Eleven of them are designs of all the heads, and some of the hands, which Leonardo put into his celebrated piece of the Last Supper, painted by him in fresco, in the Refectory of the Gratie,197 which is now in a manner spoiled. Two of those Cartoons contain two heads a piece; so that in the eleven Cartoons are drawings of thirteen heads.

"These Cartoons of Lionardo were some years since purchased of this family of this Marquis Casenedi, by Robert Udny, Esq. a gentleman well known for his public spirit, and love of virtù.198 On my enquiring after these Cartoons of Mr. Udny, the account he gave me was, that they were well preserved, even in excellent condition; they were framed, and covered with the old blistered glass of the time, easily cognisable from its irregular undulating surface: that, as his wish was to enrich his country with these studies of Vinci, he did not include them in the collection he sold to the Empress of Russia, but sent them to the palace at Buckingham-House, where Mr. Dalton had engaged to shew them to his Majesty,199 and where they might have been purchased for any sum, even for £.100, as Mr. Udny wanted nothing so much as that they should remain here. But after about five weeks remaining at the Palace, and neither seeing or hearing any thing from Mr. Dalton in all this time, Mr. Udny was surprised one morning, on coming down to breakfast, to find these invaluable Cartoons returned to him, with no other message, than that they would not do. It is more than probable that Dalton, in this procedure, acted only on the defensive, as all such contracted, miserable reptiles generally do, by recurring to his cunning and left-handed policy, in contriving some mean dirty deception to discredit this work of Lionardo, and consequently to prevent the owner of it from being personally known to his Majesty, and thereby having an opportunity of interfering with the opinions of Mr. Dalton on any future occasions. When inferior, worthless men, are about great Princes, thus will the latter be ever deceived, and even turned aside from doing the good they intended, and, unfortunately for the country. But very naturally, Mr. Udny, piqued and full of honest indignation, wrote to Russia, presented those Cartoons to the Empress, and received a very honourable acknowledgment and present in return. On my suggesting to him the idea of getting them back; that possibly their importance might not be known, in such a country as Russia, more especially as they were divested of all glitter in their homely modest garb, of old glass and frame; that the Academy would be glad to have them; and even I, though persecuted, plundered and traversed for so many years by a scoundrel combination and cabal, eagerly employed to marr both my reputation and interest, and with such an unexampled brutality—yet still, matters were not so bad, but that I could, and would raise more than £.100, in order to be the happy means of depositing them in some public place, for the use and entertainment of this great city;200 Mr. Udny shook his head and told me, he had a memorial of one of them remaining, a copy, in the same size and material, made by the ingenious Mr. John Mortimer201, which he immediately produced, and generously obliged me to accept of, as an anodyne for my uneasiness at so great a national loss: a loss that I felt in its full force, from my recollection of being present, in passing through Milan, at the destruction of the picture in the Refettorio at the Gratie, which Lionardo painted (not in fresco, as Wright says, but in oil) from these Cartoons, which were now, not only the originals, but unique.

"Gentlemen, here is a marginal note upon this passage, which it may not be amiss to read to you. If ever these matters come to be published, the reader ought to be informed, by way of apology, that when the above conversation with Mr. Udny (respecting such an important concern of art) was related in the Academy, I thought it would be criminal not to give it historically, faithfully, scrupulously. That I was very little in the habit of mentioning my own mere concerns, either in the Academy, or any where else; and that, perhaps, the reason why my own unpleasant situation was so present to me at the time I had this conversation with Mr. Udny, was, that my house had, but a few weeks before, been broke open and robbed of a considerable sum, which I had provided to purchase the lease of a house, where I wished quietly and retired to carry on another work for the public, about which I had been for some time engaged. 202What aggravated the matter still more was, that I had good reason to be assured, that this robbery was not committed by mere thieves, who wanted what was stolen, but by some limbs of a motley, shameless combination, some of whom passed for my friends, well knew what I was about, and wanted to interrupt and prevent it, by stripping me of the necessary means of carrying it on. In the higher concerns of life such mean proceedings are common enough, particularly in this country; and such great men as Messrs. Burke, Fox, Sheridan, or Pitt, may laugh at the malignity or impudent rascality that pursues and would impede them, surrounded and kept in countenance as they are, by large parties of powerful confederates, united with them in the same interest.203 But politics in private life, employed to destroy the credit and interest of a man, labouring to serve the public in the arts, where he must necessarily be insulated, and without confederates—Good God! how horrible! And how much are you, David, to be envied, blest as you are, amongst a public but little acquainted with this bear-garden business, and which, even in its worst times, was habitually exercised in honestly and urbanely meeting the efforts of art with an indulgence, estimation, and reception, so adequate and so generous! But let us turn from these reflexions to Lionardo da Vinci, the copy mentioned above, of the two heads from Lionardo, by Mr. Mortimer; here it is, ably performed, and will, I dare say, give you a very good idea of the rest.

As204 to Lionardo's ability in drawing the naked, we may safely conclude, from what appears in the Battle for the Standard, that nothing but the scarcity of his works could have prevented his obtaining the highest degree of reputation in this part of his art also. His Treatise on Painting discovers the utmost sagacity, depth and familiarity of knowledge, respecting the human figure in all its diversity of characters, actions, and motions.205 His occasional observations upon the anatomy of the human body, the articulations of the bones, the figure and offices of the muscles, the equiponderation of its parts, with and without adventitious weights, and its curious and necessary mechanism to obtain the power of vigorous exertion,—these masterly observations have long since made all intelligent people regret, that the treatise he had expressly written on the subject of anatomy, and to which he so often refers, should unfortunately have been so long buried in the library at Buckingham-House, where it can be of no use or entertainment to the artists of ours, other academies, or to the world in general. What may not be expected from such an author, on such a subject! Besides, it may illustrate the history of anatomy, as this book is perhaps the earliest treatise on the subject of Osteology and Myology; it must have been near fifty years prior to the publication of Vesalius: and the short work of Mondinius, written about the year 1478, treats of very little besides the viscera.206 I spoke several times to our late Professor of Anatomy, Dr. William Hunter, requesting him to endeavour at obtaining the publication of this work, which does so much honour to our art; and I now address myself to my brethren of the Academy, submitting it to their consideration, whether it would not highly become this Institution, to petition his Majesty to grant us the honour of printing this work, under the inspection, and at the expence of the Academy. If it should be imperfect in any part, this can be no reason for withholding it; it would be gratefully accepted by the public in any state: it cannot recover any thing where it is, and it may lose. The importance of this digression (if it be one) will plead its excuse.

"After so many years repeated efforts to obtain, for the public, the printing of this work, and regret at not succeeding, you may judge, young Gentlemen, what my satisfaction must have been, about a month since, on receiving from Mr. Chamberlain (the keeper of the King's drawings and medals) the first number of this invaluable work of Lionardo, which, to judge from this specimen now published, is likely to come forward in a manner the most complete and adequate.207 The engraved part is a fac simile, where the writing is reversed in the manner Lionardo has left it. On the other side, the writing is printed so as to read in the usual way; to which is also added, an English translation. There is nothing further to wish on this head, but that his Majesty may soon enjoy the satisfaction of receiving, for this benefit conferred on the art, the hearty thanks of Europe, I ought to say of all civilised society; since, fortunately, the lovers of art, and readers of such works who will have to thank his Majesty for this favour, are now not confined to Europe. Bartolozzi, whose great professional abilities have contributed so essentially to the advancement of regular, sound art in this country, has a glorious opportunity afforded him of preserving the fidelity, vigour, spirit, and beauty of these designs, of the father of his own school, and, every thing considered, of all the other schools. The extreme purity of design in the figures at work in the third plate of this first number, cannot be seen and considered without extacy. It is to be hoped there are many designs of this kind; and you have all of you an interest in wishing most ardently that no other business might interfere to prevent this valued, respectable Member of our Academy from devoting himself entirely to this more than master-work, for which he is peculiarly fitted; and, as he has already run through a long and glorious career, how desirable it would be to endeavour as much as possible at precluding accident, and to employ himself first upon those designs, which, like that just mentioned, require all his depth and skill in drawing, leaving those others, which are more laboured, for the last, or to be done by others if time should fail him.

So much I thought myself bound to say of Leonardo da Vinci: and if any man was to affirm, that the exaltation of the Medici family was the real blight which interrupted the further growth of Art at Florence, I should not feel disposed to contradict him. A man who had honestly devoted his genius, industry, his whole life, to qualify himself for serving his country in any art of public estimation, has surely just, honourable, incontrovertible claims, upon the attention of that public; and when Vinci, as became a true citizen, had placed his reliance on the good faith of the public, and of his country, he had every good and lawful reason to expect that no man or men, pretending to any integrity of character, would presume to trample upon his honest claims, by employing either the force or fraud of authority or influence in supplanting and preventing the exercise of his abilities, by preferring to the occasions of public service men of inferior talents. This family of the Medici had much and serious matter to answer for. Such a man as Vinci, reduced to the necessity of first smuggling his unsought-for works out of his country through the hands of merchants, and even after his return from Milan being again reduced to smuggling and concealment, and without advantage either to his interest or reputation, finding nothing else to do with his time than secretly to employ it in assisting to perfectionate the work of his friend Gio.Fran. Rustichi, and perhaps to have been the innocent occasion of extending the persecution which had so long followed himself to the very work for S. Giovanni which he had assisted his friend Rustichi to perform, and for which (notwithstanding its acknowledged excellence) Rustichi was so ill paid as to occasion the ruin of his affairs.208 Disingenuous, dishonest, hellish influence! how baneful, how mortal, and how disgusting, is its interference in such matters! No man in his senses can think of drawing any arguments in favour of infidelity or irreligion, from the artificial, base, hypocritical conduct of such Popes, Cardinals, and Magnifico's. Wretched men! although they might have thus lived politicians, yet they might possibly have repented, and died Christians. But even this may be well doubted, as we hear of no restitution made either to Vinci or Angelo, nor any acknowledgment for the restitution which could not be made, in the irreparable injury done to the art, to the country, and to posterity, who were all thus equally defrauded in their just and honest claims.

I shall now take up our little statement of more recent facts; and mention, that shortly after my return from my studies on the Continent, I found that Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was then much employed in painting portraits, had thoughts about raising his prices, in order to lessen his business, and thereby obtain more time for the prosecution of historical works, which shortly after took place, to his great honour. His bias for chiaro scuro and colouring, in which he was so excellent, inclined him, generally speaking, to rest contented with the mode of design pursued in the Bolognese plan (as stated in the before-mentioned little poetical gem of Agostino Carrache), and resolving to employ his whole force in adding to this respectable plan a degree of energy, grace, and beauty of chiaro scuro and colouring, which had never been united to it before. Hogarth was dead; and Hayman, who never aimed higher than to be the follower of Peter Cortona, retired. Wright (of Derby) and Mortimer were for the most part employed in restraining and confining their abilities to the effects of fire-light, and to imitations of Salvator Rosa; which was much to be regretted, as they were both very capable of matters much more important.209 I could with pleasure dwell longer upon many admirable qualities in the deservedly-esteemed works of those very ingenious Artists, and shall take some more proper occasion to gratify myself in that respect; and as to those Artists who are happily still the ornaments of their several departments, posterity will have too much interest in the reputation of their labours not to do them ample justice. Things being in this state, and a Royal Academy recently founded, I had great hopes of being able, in some way or other, either by conversation, writing, or painting, or all together, to impress on the minds of our young Artists, whom we should educate, such an idea of the urgent necessity for perfection, as would induce them to the warm pursuit of that plan of study, of uniting the Grecian with the Italian art, which had been the unremitting sole object of my own attention; as would no doubt be tiresomely apparent to any one who was at the pains of looking over that inquiry above mentioned, and that other work at the Adelphi, which followed as a remaining part of the same undertaking;210 and however lightly either he or I might estimate the little that has been done, yet I have been obliged to pass through a very hard, long, and illiberal gauntlet, to perform even that little.

It would be arrogating too much to suppose I had, of myself, fallen upon this scheme of study, or that I was any other than a follower in the track Mr. Hussey had chalked out; and which his impatience or his misfortune, his own want of fortitude, or the impudent, shameless perseverance of his opponents, prevented him from carrying into execution, and I fear brought about a tendency to mental derangement which left the matter hopeless.211 To be the happy instrument of introducing to his country the true sublime style of historical art, founded upon the Grecian purity of design, and blended with whatever was great and estimable in the celebrated leaders of the Italian schools, and their followers, who imitated and improved upon them, required an unusual felicity and extensive concurrence of circumstances, which were liable to interruption and impediment from many and very different quarters. Like neighbour Goodfellow, Pliable, and the other occasional companions of Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress, many artists, however right at the outset, would be liable to stick by the way in the particular sciences, which, though of indispensible use considered as necessary means, are notwithstanding most baneful and destructive when pursued too far, without reference to the proposed end;212 and this unhappily has been but too often exemplified in almost every human pursuit of any complexity. There are many reasons which induce me to think that this important plan of art, adopted by Mr. Hussey, was a subject of pretty deep and general attention at Bologna, particularly amongst the young artists, when Hussey was studying there under Ercole Lelli;213 and it is not improbable, but that Lelli himself was the author of it: his drawing is so remarkable for purity and science, and his small anatomical figure, considered independently of the anatomical skill, is of so admirable a style as to form and character, and the excellent, most pertinent traditionary remarks upon the defects of some of the finest antique statues, which I occasionally heard from some of Lelli's scholars who were still alive in my time, put the matter, with me at least, out of all doubt, they are all symmetrical parts the same total. It is then to be regretted that Lelli had not himself followed up this pursuit, and left to others the laborious mere anatomical business of the several wax preparations built upon the skeletons, running into all the infinitessimal details of the gravid uterus, the organs of hearing, vision, and other minute particulars of endless mere observation, upon which so much of his time and attention was thrown away; for such time and attention are always thrown away when thus employed upon what may be as well done by inferior characters. But men must live by their labour; and perhaps Benedict XIV. who employed Lelli's talents in this way, would not be inclined to give encouragement and employment to his talents in another way, which very probably was infinitely above the comprehension even of this excellent Pope. And as men of genius are sure to carry their energy into whatever they undertake, the reputation which follows their efforts, even in those pursuits where we regret their having been engaged, is apt to mislead, and give a kind of countenance to the notion of shallow people, of I know not what inconstancy and unsettled pursuit of new enterprises, which they absurdly would have us to believe is the reason why men of great genius have very often left their undertakings unaccomplished; and thus that virtue, which is able to content, accommodate, and make the best use of what hard necessity forces upon it, is by men of shallow observation (and perhaps a little envy and malignity) mistaken for a fickle, desultory weakness, which would really imply the very reverse of genius and vigour of mind. Lelli then, Hussey's predecessor, was thus lost, by wasting his time and attention upon the pursuits of anatomy; and Stewart, Hussey's successor or follower, shared a similar ill fate in another necessary means, and finished an Antiquarian and Architect; whilst Hussey himself with sublimer and more advanced talents than either, eager to crown his art with the highest conceivable perfection, appears unfortunately to have lost himself by wandering too far in theological speculations.214 But supposing even that Lelli had not wasted his life in multiplying anatomical preparations, but that he, or any of his scholars, had endeavoured to blend and incorporate the anatomical with all the other necessary studies which formed the constituent parts of this admirable plan; yet, at Bologna, how were they to find employment for it? Woeful experience would soon shew them, that the time for exertion was long since passed, and that all the churches and palaces at Bologna being filled with pictures of celebrity upon the old and less perfect plan, this mere circumstance of pre-occupation would necessarily prevent their being employed to do much, or to have any followers; and the scheme would inevitably become abortive or insignificant from want of general or sufficient culture. Hussey's hopes were likely to be better founded in a new country like England, where happily this pre-occupation was prevented by our former religious bigotry, which kept out art of all kinds, except mere servile face-painting, and a little landscape.215 Here then, in England, if Hussey had succeeded, and contrived to throw himself out in some noble example of this sublimated style, it would soon excite imitation, and a desire to eclipse it. Even those who would be most likely to under-rate it openly, would secretly profit and form themselves by it; any little storm from combination and cabal would soon blow over; and if it did not, the continuation of his exertions would be his best defence. Cool impartiality, if not gratitude, would soon grow up, and his successors would be enabled to expand and to follow the clue he had given, as they could want for nothing in the way of materials, but what an academical or national collection of pictures and plaster casts would happily supply. No doubt, these pictures of the old masters, separated, and in private hands, besides the mischief of pre-occupation, are in other respects also likely to perplex and retard the progress of good taste. From an infirmity very natural, and too frequently met with, the proprietors of those old works become, after a little time, so many zealots and blind contracted partizans, not less hostile to the reputation of living artists, than to the growth of the art; and they are often equally deceived by the excessive praise and admiration which may be lavished on their old pictures; as, in some cases, nothing more is meant than the old game, well known in the world, of paying court to them, through this medium, for some other end: but, even when the praise is honest, it often happens that this praise and admiration, however warmly expressed, is confined to some part of the mechanical conduct, the mere mode of penciling or handling this or that particular, folds, leafage, gradations of tint, or some such matter, which an artist might wish to incorporate with his own manner. I remember meeting Mr. Wilson one day, looking over a collection of pictures at Prestage's auction-room:216 on his pointing out, with much enthusiasm, some excellence in the middle distance of a picture, to which he wished to direct my attention, "Yes, yes, very true, I heartily agree with you," said I; "surely there is no man now living who is able to paint a landscape of so much excellence!" Though this was said almost laughingly, yet I saw his countenance lower, like a tempest gathering on his own Snowdon;217 and seizing him by the elbow, "My dear Wilson," said I, "don't be angry, I only wanted to show you the use, or rather the abuse, to which your remark might be converted, after you had left the room, by such men as Blackwood, or the Doctors Chauncy or Bragge, had any thing in their possession been the subject of your remark.218 I very well know that your approbation went no further than your remark, and that, as a whole, and painted by any one at present, it could not be suffered, much less put in competition with any work of yours, or of a man much your inferior. To say the truth, I cannot see (interest and vanity apart) what satisfaction men who are not of the art can derive from the inspection of such performances of contemptible, uninteresting totality, inapplicable to any purpose of general concern. You and I might find great pleasure in looking at what you have so judiciously pointed out, but what the devil are they to look for?" But all this evil of old pictures is not only removed, but the highest public utility is derived, by arranging them together in a national or academical gallery, where freedom of remark can be safely indulged. The work of each old master then becomes the corrective of the other; and the voice of truth, and the road to advancement, happily results from their general testimony.

In a conversation I once had with the late Duke of Northumberland (who was Hussey's friend and patron), his Grace told me, as a matter which he could not account for, that he had once proposed to Mr. Hussey an employment which he thought would be perfectly agreeable, which was, to make drawings, large as the originals, of all the celebrated antique statues, that he would build a gallery to place them in, and that Hussey refused.219 I could not help observing to the Duke, that I was not surprised at Mr. Hussey's declining such a proposal; that it was to be expected from a man who had been forming himself (together with other studies) upon those antiques, in order to acquire abilities for the production of other and original works, in which opportunities might occur of disputing for the palm of excellence with those very antiques themselves;—that perhaps what Hussey had in his mind, still remained to be done;—that the work for the Adelphi, which introduced me to the honour of his Grace's notice, was, circumstanced as I found myself, the best attempt in my power to supply a part of this grand desideratum, which no doubt was Mr. Hussey's object; - and that another part of it would (with God's assistance) be attempted in another work of the story of Pandora, which I had long in contemplation, and for which I had made many studies.220 The Duke seemed to feel what I said respecting this excellent man, and, in a manner that did his Grace great honour, expressed much regret that he had not thought of some other way of employing his abilities, and that Hussey himself was much to blame in not pointing out some undertaking which might meet both their wishes.

A good deal of time has elapsed since that work of mine at the Adelphi has been out of my hands, surely more than enough to allow for the subsiding of any of those little temporary heats which must ever unavoidably happen between different parties, in transactions of such long duration, and where my own infirmity of temper, whatever it might amount to, would be so likely to interfere. The general tenour of the Society's conduct, in the carrying on of that work, has been great, exemplary, and really worthy the best age of civilised society. The more I reflect on the whole of that transaction, the more I feel my heart disposed to overflow with every acknowledgment and gratitude to God, as the prime cause, and to the Society as the happy instrument and means by which the occasion was provided of enabling me to make one effectual attempt in the art. Such a Society only, where nothing was personal, and whose views were widely extended through so many branches of knowledge, and almost to every thing that could meliorate and tend to give perfection to civilization, could have allowed of the exertion which it was my wish to make; and although I made it a condition with them, on undertaking the work, that the subjects, and the matter of which they were composed, should be entirely of my own choice and fabrication, without interference from any quarter; yet the cheerful politeness and punctuality with which they performed this condition, so delicate, and so alluring to interference, and the heads and members of the Society so numerous, and many of them of such consequence, both as to knowledge and rank, I can never think of it without heart-felt satisfaction, and the greatest respect and thankfulness to them. I then, alone, am accountable for the subject matter depicted on their walls: and as almost 300 years had intervened since the painting of Rafaelle's Camera della Senatura in the Vatican,221 and that every branch of knowledge had been greatly advanced and perfected during that interval, the education of the 18th century furnishing numberless advantages in the science of civil polity, of ethics, physics, and other knowledges of the moat important, deepest interest, there remained nothing to wish for, but to devote myself zealously to the work; and though my means of support were indeed small, yet my hopes were great, founded upon assiduity, and fortitude enough to sacrifice all personal vanity, comforts, and even conveniencies, that might interrupt and stand in the way of what I had undertaken.

Some of those who, by the courtesy of language, are commonly called friends, were ready enough to advise me to make an effort on this occasion, to launch out a little in figure and appearance, to hire a smart servant to open my door, with a long et cetera, like other artists, whom they were pleased to consider as infinitely my inferiors, and who notwithstanding found their account in doing all this, and even much more; that it was a matter of decent conformity, which every man owed to the society he lived in; that to adopt a contrary conduct, and to live like a hermit in his cell, would appear odd and strange; that it would be liable to a thousand scoundrel interpretations, of wrongheadedness, misanthropy, meanness, avarice, what not; and that I must well know, that some of my competitors would be ready enough to make this rascally use of it, more especially in such a town as London, where there were many people so giddily and dissipatedly occupied, as to make them the facile, certain dupes of any misinformation, even less supported by appearances; and that very unpleasant, and even vexatious consequences might follow, that would give me cause to repent. "What you say is all true," said I, "and you must very well know how grating such sacrifices must be to my feelings, as no man is more calculated, both by nature and the habits of education, to relish and to lap myself in the elysium of social enjoyments, than I am, nor can more heartily detest any unsocial principles that tend to disqualify and estrange us from it; this all my friends must well know to be remarkably the case with me. But, alas! you see I have no choice left, but either to relinquish the thought of doing the work, or to carry it on in the manner I have been stating to you, by making the best, most decent, but most manly use of the means within my power, by considering this work as claiming my first concern, and every thing respecting myself in subordination to it; and that although my present expenditure, already too contracted in your opinion, could not be increased even ten pounds a year, without throwing me into debt and dependance, breaking my spirits, and perhaps leaving me in a jail, yet, as my hopes are not grounded upon the being able to increase my expenditure, and as the undertaking is of that noble, generous kind as is truly worthy any personal sacrifice I can make, you must permit me to assure you, that notwithstanding all that you or any one else can say to the contrary, yet I shall not hesitate to go on, and meet all, and even more than you have stated, with whatever patience and resignation I can; and though I cannot add to my expenditure and appearance, yet perhaps, if it be necessary, I can still retrench, and do without many things; that with God's assistance the attempt should be made directly; and that, after all, there was no great hardship in being my own servant, even if I was obliged to go out of lodgings and to take a house; that a hole might be cut in the door, to receive messages when I should be from home; and that this expedient could not be very discreditable, as it was probably of pretty general use formerly, in times of less parade, and is still kept up by the students in the inns of court." Dialogues to this effect I have had many; and this is inserted here for the perusal of any one who might have been so foolish as to suffer himself to be deceived by the impertinence of any mean, artful fellow, with whom I never had any personal acquaintance, and who might wish to ingratiate and recommend himself to the good favour of my opponents. But even this would not have been a sufficient inducement for my inserting it, but that I am persuaded it will have its use with young artists, as there can be but very few of them who will ever find themselves in a situation less eligible for great undertakings, particularly those who may happen to be born on this or the other side of the Tweed;222 as it is a native of Ireland only that is likely to experience the superior excruciating curse of struggling alone, his best friends perhaps so warmly engaged in the interests of some of his rivals, as to leave him unaided by any cheering partialities, and without other reliance than what may be expected from magnanimity and generous candour. An Irish artist may think himself well off, if his countrymen are not against him, in order to curry favour for themselves; and that he be not sacrificed to their timidity, servility, or convenience, whenever he should attempt high matters, where the success would justify pretension to take any lead or superiority. A candidate for a watchman's place, or to carry milk or a sedan chair, may stand a common chance; but that it is very different in higher matters, is too well known to need my offering instances of great lustre, which must occur to every man's recollection. I know very well, that many will doubt the prudence of stating such harsh facts, however true; but then they must allow me to say, that any artist who will have the patience to acquire the glory of going through such an ordeal will not want the courage, and may well be allowed the little indulgence of looking back with triumph and gratulation for having passed it. However grating this state of things may be to our feelings, yet, as it is more a matter of regret and pity than of blame, it can be patiently endured by a man of some philosophy; as he must well know, that the Irish, like other men, are formed by circumstances; that they are of an excellent nature, as might naturally be expected from their almost peculiarly mild and genial climate, and have truly nothing reprehensible that is not fairly chargeable upon their political, debased, wretched situation. Since it is by every party acknowledged, one may observe, without palliation, or fear of giving offence, that our government is, from the accumulation and inveteracy of certain abuses of ancient usages, necessarily carried on by influence and corruption, and until some salutary reform be adopted cannot be carried on otherwise; and that the silent baneful operations of this great evil of corruption, the prolific parent of so many others, have been in some degree resisted and counteracted by that extensive pursuit of improvement in all the various branches and articles of manufactures and commerce, which has given occasion for so much rectitude, amenity and polish of the right kind, and have imprinted on the minds of the good people of England a deep sense of the value of excellence.223 How wisely and how much is comprised in that beautiful allegory of the ancients, in making Ceres the cause and parent of legislation!224 How admirably and gracefully does it extend to every species of honest, commendable industry, to manufactures, to arts, and to commerce! Nothing can exceed the ingenuity, onction, and wonderful identity (or, if that term is inaccurate, connection) of all the parts of this allegorical idea; it supposes (and most truly) that we even cannot, for any time, or in any tolerable degree, enjoy those gifts of God, without disposing ourselves to merit and preserve them by just and equal laws; and even, to consider it on the other side, that whenever we have the justice and magnanimity to submit ourselves to the guidance of those laws, we shall not be long before those fruits and blessings of industry are showered down upon us; and further, that, under certain degrees of brutal violence, injustice, pressures and partialities, either these blessings will never be given to us, or they will fly from us, and be withdrawn, whenever we have rendered ourselves thus unworthy of the divine favour. This allegory of Ceres will explain, pertinently enough, any difference that may be found in our two islands: for, on the supposition that the spirit of influence and corruption is equally extended in Ireland as it is here, and that the pursuit of improvement in manufactures and commerce is less, this will easily and very naturally account for any difference of manners in the people of the two countries. Children of the same parent happy clime, there can be no difference between them but what is created by the difference of circumstances. I will not attempt to say what would be the event, or how long these contrary principles of improvement and corruption would be likely to continue in collision, if left to themselves to fight it out here; but it may be affirmed, with great certainty, that the present altered state of Europe, the existing circumstances here, and all around us, will now soon put an end to this scuffle one way or other: either a salutary reform must take place, to the annihilation of influence and corruption; or manufactures, and the commerce with those manufacturers, must sink from our prospect. The eagle penetration of Mr. Burke had long foreseen this; and, in his Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (before-mentioned), where he strenuously endeavours to recommend the best mode of public administration the circumstances of the time would then allow of, he concludes with the following remarkable words: "This, with allowances for human frailty, may, probably, be the general character of a ministry, which thinks itself accountable to the House of Commons, when the House of Commons thinks itself accountable to its constituents. If other ideas should prevail, things must remain in their present confusion, until they are hurried into all the rage of civil violence, or until they sink into the dead repose of despotism." 225But as things mend, when they can be no worse, direful necessity, though always an undesirable, is yet sometimes a most salutary and admirable teacher; and the time is, perhaps, fast approaching, when the liberal principles and good sense of the men of England and Ireland will find their true interest in spurning all undue influence and corruption, and in regarding nothing but the indulgence of those generous feelings which are the natural offspring of strict and common justice, of equal privileges and equal laws: and whenever, by the mercy of God, that time shall arrive, it will be then, and not before, that an ingenious artist may expect to find himself the native of a country that will not be afraid to take an honest interest in the integrity and glory of his labours.

But to resume our narration; with the space in the great room at the Adelphi, and the generous, liberal views of the Society, who were to hold their sessions in it, ample opportunity offered for a work, which, though in a series, should be one and entire, comprehending a beginning, a middle, and an end, illustrative in all its various parts of this moral maxim, viz. the absolute necessity of cultivating both our mental and bodily faculties, and substituting the superior love and pursuit of truth and justice, necessarily required as the foundation of civilised society, in lieu of that brutal violence, fraud, and the consequent miseries of the savage state. In such a work, I foresaw something might be attempted on Hussey's plan; and what I valued much more was, that the subjects which occurred to me, would associate that plan with matter of such interest, as might consecrate the work to the melioration, liberties, and reform of mankind. Resolving then, in the very outset, to throw aside and spurn all beggarly adulation which had contaminated and disgraced so many illustrious works, and conscientiously, and without fear, to follow truth and justice, and melioration, wherever they should lead, it does not surprise me, and I feel no sorrow or repentance to find my work and myself involved in the same fate with my country in its struggles for that political happiness which results from the genuine freedom of equal laws, uncontaminated with either personal, party, or local privileges. And although I felt myself in the very focus of that influence, which is so unwisely, and so much against its true interest, operating ruin and destruction in Ireland, yet I have no small satisfaction in reflecting, that the business transacted in the group of legislators in the Elysium, [img] all the length of the remedy for the disorders of Ireland, the application of which remedy has been so long desired, prayed for, and hoped for. Were our legislators to consult their justice, their humanity, and the general interests of the empire, by adopting this remedy in time, were they once more to send over Lord Fitzwilliam, and sincerely and honestly permit him to finish what he had so gloriously begun, there can be no doubt of its salutary effects in removing every evil.226 However, whether they may choose to adopt it or not, there it is, forming the business of my principal group of the Legislators in Elysium; and as a man can speak with confidence of the devices of his own heart, most assuredly introduced with the best, most honest intentions, and with the highest reference to the good order, melioration, and happiness of society.

As the concerns of art, and the attempt to apply it more immediately (to use Bacon's phrase) to our business and bosoms,227 are strictly in unison with the views of the Dilettanti Society, there needs no apology for this mention of my own work, as it unavoidably followed from stating that reform in the plan of study of the Carracci, which Annibal begun on his coming to Rome, which Mr. Hussey was disappointed in his endeavours to introduce into England, and which, for want of a better, came into my hands. I shall therefore, go on with the matter I was upon, by observing, that as the picture of Elysium, and its companion, the Victors at Olympia, were each forty-two feet in length, and the prints I had made of them were only three feet long, in order to be comprehended in a single sheet of paper, the details of the work, reduced to so small a compass, were unavoidably liable to be overlooked; and having another reason, besides this*,228 for making a separate print of this group of the Legislators in Elysium, where, from the enlarged size of the figures, the details would become more apparent, I have been since induced to add three prints of other groups in the same enlarged size; one, the group of Diagoras and his Sons, from the picture of the Victors at Olympia. [img]229 These Diagorides afford a subject of such peculiar felicity for a group in sculpture, that I have often complimented myself by supposing that there must have been (notwithstanding the silence of Pausanias) something like this of mine, set up in the Altis at Olympia;230 the characters of the men in their different stages of life — father, sons, and grandsons, such a race of heroes, where the naked occurred with such peculiar propriety, and so gloriously connected with ethics, with all the duties of the good citizen, that I can recollect nothing remaining of the ancients, where the subject matter is more exemplary, more impregnated with that onction, spirit, and venustas, which are the inseparable characteristics of Grecian genius. The other two are, one the colloquial, adjoining group to that of the Legislators in the Elysium, consisting of that sextumvirate; to which Swift says, all ages of the world have not been able to add a seventh, where Socrates is proving something to Epaminondas, Cato the elder, the younger Brutus, and Sir Thomas More. [img]231 As the effigies of Brutus, and those other generous advocates for civil liberty, have lately been much sought after, and even in the midst of this mighty struggle which is still agitating Europe, I am happy to reflect, that in the print of this group of the heroes of civil liberty, what is passing on in the back-ground, where angels are presenting and interceding for the imperfect Legislators, Bruhma, Confucius, and Mango Capac, tends to shew where all the various talents which insure beatitude centre, 232and that virtue and all those generous qualities that reflect such lustre and true glory on the character of the good citizen, are but emanations from the higher principle of religion, and piety to God (the sovereign good, the essence of perfection, whose law is rectitude), where all the virtues root. Alas! how much mistaken are those writers who would expect this branch of civil liberty to flourish, separated and cut off from the nutriment it derives from this root! Trying occasions, terrors, allurements, and the selfishness inseparable from our nature, fairly considered, what motives to action, or forbearance, can stimulate the man whose views terminate with his existence here?

It is impossible to conceive any thing more completely above, and disconnected with all human modes of government, than the Christian religion. Genuine Christianity is nothing more nor less than the most complete conceivable morality, offered and recommended by the most persuasive of all conceivable motives; and if Christianity can be supposed to predispose men to a predilection for any particular mode of government, it must be that of the greatest conceivable freedom, like that of the Quakers; and the difference between the Quakers, and the other religious orders of St. Benedict, St. Francis, &c. is less than is vulgarly imagined; a very slight alteration, in one or two particulars, and they are the same.233 D'Alembert, Diderot, and other great men, may have (and with a good conscience too) done every thing in their power to discredit and to destroy the wretched appearance, under the name of religion, which, like a stalking-horse fabricated and held up for political state purposes, by the Jesuit Tellier, the Cardinals Bissi, and Du Bois, and their odious corrupt confederates, during the years of the dotage of Lewis XIV. and the worthless, dissipated Regent, his immediate successor.234 Christianity could have no concern here; and it is a shame for any man not to know and acknowledge, that all the Parliaments of France, all the men of conscience, true honour and probity, the Daguesseau, Fleury's, Noailles, and the long and glorious et caetera, who were overwhelmed by this state religious mockery, had, notwithstanding, previously manifested their execration of the deception, and left such a stigma of infamy upon it, that it was, almost immediately after, hunted down with ease by the philosophers, to whom this patriotic talk devolved.235 This surely, and no other, can be the reason for the little temporary credit given to atheistical opinions, as a battery for immediate use, the better to enable them to demolish this state engine of mock religion, no less injurious to the genuine, generous character of Christianity, than to the virtuous freedom, peace, and happiness of civil society. But as that work is now done, there is no longer any occasion for that atheistical battery; for, it is to be hoped, no man can be weak enough to believe, or to endeavour to make others believe, that the chilling torpors of Atheism, like the horrid, inert, deadly silence of the polar regions, can be of any use, or ever coalesce with the generous ardors of a state of liberty, and civil freedom, founded as it always must be, upon all the fraternal charities, the active, energetic, internal virtues of a good heart, which can only be truly known to God, and to a man himself. Well might the amiable and admirable Fenelon say, that it is impossible to point out a man's true and personal character from his wit, profession, art, or education and learning; whereas we give an infallible definition of him, by mentioning his virtue and inward uprightness, when we have solid proofs of them.236 And it might be affirmed, with the most secure confidence, that any philosophers or citizens, of the most free and well-ordered government in the world, could no where find a suite of principles so aptly and cogently calculated to preserve and to perpetuate those blessings of freedom and good order (as far as human matters can be preserved and perpetuated) than those charities which are enumerated in the I3th Chapter of St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians;237 even the whole of the illustrious comments on this truly citizen-like passage, by the ever-venerable Archbishop just mentioned, would, treasured up in the memory of a good citizen, be his surest guide through all the social becoming duties which constitute the felicity of every station. Away, then with Atheism! the men of France have wisely and becomingly thrown it aside; and let us hear no more of it in England: the philosophers but made an occasional use of it, and never intended that any well-ordered society should really be the dupe of such a pestilential opinion. By way of border and ornament to Epaminondas's Shield, which, near the feet of M. Brutus closes the circle of this colloquial group, it would come well (particularly as there is no portrait remaining of him) to write the following truly heroic advice, which this Theban General gave his countrymen, to dissuade them from enslaving the Orchiomenians: "A nation (says he) aspiring to command the Greeks, ought to preserve, by its humanity, what it acquired by its valour."238 Plato and Aristotle, just behind this group of the sextumvirate, are going towards the group of the most perfect legislators in the other print, at whom Plato is pointing. [img] The other print is the group adjoining, where angels are unveiling and explaining a solar system to Newton, Galileo,Copernicus and Bacon, whose admiration at what is communicated, intimates how much is reserved for a hereafter, which even the wisest could not otherways have known.239 In the advanced ground is Thales, Des Cartes, and Archimedes, and below them, the Friar, Roger Bacon, and his sagacious and excellent friend, Bishop Grouthead, with his letter to Pope Innocent IV. in his hand.240 Some friends have wished me to make separate prints, on the same enlarged plan of other groups, in this and the other pictures, which are not without pertinence; but I am satisfied with what is already done, and will leave the rest to any one who may think it worth his pains. I had hopes these prints would have been done sooner, so as to have enabled me to have given up a couple of months, in the summer, to the retouching of that work at the Adelphi: there are some parts of it which want vigour, and may be very much meliorated; and I should be very much obliged to any gentleman of the Dilettanti Society, or to any other, who would be so good as to take the pains of communicating to me any remarks to that end, as, with God's blessing, I mean to leave that work as perfect as I can. If ever I could have doubted of the wisdom and eligibility of honestly applying and devoting art to utility and social improvement, such doubt would have been long since satisfied, when I see, and have seen, so many great events daily occurring, which afford an illustrious comment on the truth and efficacy of the principles pursued in that work. With the subject matter of it I am perfectly satisfied, and see nothing to alter, to add, or to take away; but I am eager and anxious to add more energy to its effect, and to the execution of several parts, and for many reasons I feel happy and fortunate that this had not been done before. I mean then, with God's permission, very shortly to request this indulgence from the Society.241 What I wish to do will not take up much time, or give any interruption to the course of their business in the room; and I am their debtor for as much colour as will, I believe, do the business; it was left, after what I had done, when I was last at work in the room, and I did not think it worth the troubling them by sending for it.

Upon a recollection of the ground I have gone over in this Letter, there is no doubt but that many apologies ought to be made, not only for any slovenly neglect, laziness, or inability in the style, and in the arrangement, where things have been flung out in the hurry with which they occurred, but, for what is much more to be regretted is, the necessity under which I felt myself, of handling freely many matters which unfortunately lay too directly in my way, to pass them by without notice. I must, however, rely upon the generous feelings and candour of my readers, as (if I know myself) I certainly have nothing to apologize for as to any want of rectitude in my intentions. Superior, I hope, to every base motive of malignity or resentment, I have been directed by nothing but a most ardent desire of rendering every service in my power to a profession which has been the constant and unremitting object of my affections, and the source of whatever happiness I have enjoyed. To the glorious memory of my illustrious predecessors, who had prepared so much for my happiness, I felt myself bound by the strongest ties, so that it became a duty incumbent upon me to defend them from any injustice, to the utmost of my power, and to transmit what had devolved from them to me, as little impaired, and with as many advantages as I could obtain for those who were to come after me. Nothing can stand higher in the estimation of any man than my profession does in mine. No doubt, many things may be, and are over-rated every day; but if there be any matter about which men are employed, which is really above our estimation, it is certainly the Art of Painting, fairly and justly considered. The rank ignorance, foolish (yet rash) iconoclastic spirit of some of our would-be reformers, make it necessary to touch a little upon this matter.

Painting has been, by ingenious writers (who perhaps meant to pay it a compliment), defined to be a silent poem, and Poetry a speaking picture.242 As precepts, nothing can be more admirably said; but, as definitions, nothing can be more false and inadequate, though very artfully stated, and well calculated to coincide with the predilections and prepossessions of men much engaged in literary pursuits: and others, who are but little concerned with literary matters, are too easily caught by the apparent civility of those definitions, to suspect that the poet Simonides, from whom (if my recollection is right) they came, did, instead of concessions to a rival Art, actually purloin from that rival Art an excellence and honour for the decoration of his own, to which, in truth and justice, it had no pretensions of claim. It is now some years that I have been aware of the injustice of these definitions, by which this master Art, this Art par excellence, has been so unfairly, unfeelingly, and artfully, placed below the superior station it ought to fill; and I have, in one of my lectures in the Academy, had occasion to enter upon this dispute respecting the comparison of Painting with Poetry, and have not scrupled to give the preference and superiority to my own Art; and, in addition to what is there urged, I shall here observe, that Monsieur Bailii was, no doubt, exceedingly right,243 and that some almost unknown people, now buried in the remoteness of antiquity, must, however, have been in possession of a body of very extensive and complete knowledge, of which the Chaldeans, Egyptians, Gentoos, and other ancient nations, possessed only the fragments, which Homer, Thales, Pythagoras, Plato and others, brought into Greece.*244 According to the mythology of the Greeks, the Muses preside over the several departments of poetry, and the other knowledges, as we may find detailed in every writer treating of these matters, from Hesiod and Homer, down to the present times.245 But to Minerva, which is the abstract idea, or personification, and the very identity of the wisdom of Jove, what is the art over which she was supposed to preside? This question is answered by the universal testimony of all; and we find, that the employment for which Minerva is peculiarly distinguished from all the celestial personages, [img]246 is her skill in the labours of the loom, or in other words, that will convey the idea of the ancients more properly, that she was sovereignly skilful in the art of painting in tapestry, and could employ that universal language of forms, both actual and possible, to all the grand ethical purposes of information, persuasion and instruction. But the Art of Painting is debased by the complaisance of calling it a language. It is a mode of communication as much superior to language, as the image of any thing in a looking-glass is more satisfactory and superior to any mere account of the same thing in words.247 It is difficult, and would lead us into the depths of philosophy, to say, what is the difference between any actual thing and its image in a glass; and yet so much only, and no more, can be the difference between that actual thing and its representation in painting. In the former case, the difference, perhaps, consists in the mere actuality, and yet, even that may be doubted, as they are both equally actual to the sense of seeing in a third spectator; but the object painted is equally permanent with what we may call the actual or real one. The truth is, that they are all pictures alike, painted equally on the retina or optical sensorium.—But to come back to Minerva: her art can even do still more; it can, by new moulding, and different arrangement of the actual, the created objects, call to our view as in a speculum, that still higher order of a new creation, where those objects, sublimated and purged from all dross and alloy, appear before us in gala, in all conceivable and possible splendor. This was an Art indeed, and the ancients were well justified in placing it above the reach of Calliope and her sister Muses;248 and, by a happy effort of that admirable, wonderful penetration, which, when rightly understood, is found to be the usual characteristic of all their knowledge, they therefore, necessarily, wisely and justly, reserved this Master Art, this Art par excellence to employ the more adequate exertions and skill of the mistress of all, of Minerva, or Wisdom herself. Can any man then hesitate to acknowledge, but that the Ancients, by appropriating this art to Minerva, intended to shew the superiority of that pursuit which employs and exhibits things instead of words, or the mere names of those things? a task which implies so small a portion of knowledge and skill as does not deserve to be named, much less compared with the other. Painting then is the real art of wisdom, and Poetry is only an account or relation of it, more or less animated as the poetry is more or less excellent. Although this tapestry-work, which (as to the instruments and materials employed in it) was a more laborious and less perfect mode of imitation, does actually and necessarily pre-suppose antecedent exemplars, executed with instruments and materials more manageable, facile, and better adapted to follow with rapidity, the divine flatus of the imagination, yet, as I have had occasion to observe in my Lecture in the Academy, from Homer's silence, as to this antecedent art, of which the tapestry-weaving so frequently mentioned, is only, and can be nothing else, but a mere fragment and vestige, we again find ourselves, in this instance, as in so many others, obliged to have recourse to some more ancient people, where all these knowledges existed together, in a more complete and united state. It is not, I hope, necessary to observe, that by the skilful labours of the loom the ancients always understood the art of making pictures in tapestry, and that the perfection of those pictures, the happiness of their imitation, and the admirable ethical application, are the fine qualities always alluded to (see the story of Penelope, Arachne, &c.), and not any delicacy or perfection in the texture, fluff, or materials employed, as every one in the least conversant with ancient reading must well know all this.249 Thus it appears, that the conclusion I have above insisted on, viz. the superiority of Painting over Poetry, and which I have been insensibly led to, by the mature consideration of so many facts, was a conclusion long since made, and thus beautifully illustrated with all the venustas and unction of the ancients themselves, in their very mythology, although it has escaped (for any thing I know to the contrary) the observation and researches of all the commentators, and of those writers whose opinions I had undertaken to refute. It is then evident, that, not the merely copying of actual, casual, ordinary nature, but the new moulding and imitation of it, as it might possibly be combined, according to the more perfect and wiser views of completeness, utility, and ethical adaption, was the true reason why the ancients placed this art in the hands of Minerva herself. Since this alone appears to be the difference between her work and that of Arachne, and therefore our conclusion of the superiority of Painting over Poetry, is, by the highest authority, established, not only with all desirable amplitude and cogency, but also with an additional, most pertinent illustration and confirmation of the truth of that principle of wise selection in all the constituent parts of printing, and that ethical adaptation of it, as a totality which form the very substratum and science of my Lectures to the Students of the Academy. Nothing can be more noble, or more just, than these principles; and it is only to be regretted that they have not a better advocate, more adequate to the dignity of the undertaking, and happily supplied with the necessary materials for observation, which, I had almost said, had been designedly withheld from me, as much as influence and combination could withhold them: however, the intention and the attempt must satisfy me; if happily I can leave something to this end, though but in outline, nearly sketched out, it may be hereafter filled up, and gracefully finished by some person more fortunately circumstanced.

A further elucidation of this allegory of Minerva appears from her breast-plate, or defence of the vital parts, which is a large serpent's skin, hanging from her right shoulder across her breast, and passing over the heart to her left side, where it turns round under her arm, as a broad-sword-belt or bandri.r250, in the ancient mode, when the weapon hung high. The edges of this skin appear bordered with smaller living, and, as it were, embryo serpents, twirling about different ways; but upon a more attentive inspection they are found to be only the several necks and heads of the great serpent, whose skin is thus wrapped round Minerva; and there is generally on the top of her helmet an entire serpent, as it were, couchant, and just launching, according to the direction of Minerva's head, as appears in the fine antique colossal head at the Marquis of Lansdown's, and many others.251 Now, as Minerva is the personification of mind, or rather of the sovereign mind, and is flung full formed from the head of Jove himself, if we suppose these serpents to represent thoughts or acts of the mind, the mythical sense becomes apparent in a most beautiful and forcible manner, even to the very circumstance of the heart and head, where thoughts are first conceived, and sent up to be maturated for use. This solution, so happily correspondent in all its parts, like most other cases of the discovery of any particular leading fact in aggregate masses of knowledge, affords day-light and satisfaction in unfolding some perplexing difficulties, widely extended through those vestiges of art which remain of the most ancient nations, and the oblations to the serpent, so frequently found amongst the Egyptian antiquities: the small serpent on the heads of Isis and Osiris, and between the horses of Apis, the Serapis, or the large serpent with a human head, become so many manifestations of their being Theists, worshippers of the sovereign mind or intellect;252 and poor Cadmus, and his wife Harmonia or Hermione, whose transformation into serpents was a melancholy punishment, for which, as a school-boy (when reading Ovid), I could see no justice or reason.253 But if we consider him and his old and amiable companion as dissolving (according to this explication) into pure intellect, it will then become an apotheosis, or at least a handsome compliment, and a reward more reconcileable with the idea of even school-boy justice, and well merited by the introducer of literary or alphabetical knowledge into Greece; and Medea's chariot, drawn by dragons or winged serpents, also becomes a chariot carried forward by the winged intellect of this illustrious sorceress:254 also the traditionary mythical relation of the origin of the Scythians, respecting the woman or sorceress, with her lower limbs terminating in two serpents, whom (according to Herodotus) Hercules met at Hylaea is evidently made up of the same leaven.255

The serpent with five heads, which so frequently occurs in the Hindoo antiquities, and of which Mr. Townley has a most complete specimen in bronze, and employed with the most decisive signification, where the figure of Bruhma is represented as lying at rest in eternity, within the circular, or rather elliptical space formed by the coils of this serpent, whose five heads rise and hang over in a state of watchfulness.256 This apparent inaction or eternal rest of the Supreme Power, whilst the all-sovereign wisdom or intellect is in a state of waking and watchfulness, is happily expressed with the utmost depth and perspicuity. How completely does it exclude every thing illicit, heterodox, and tending to any of the dangerous modifications of Spinosism, old or new!257 Whether the universe be considered as the garment, or elegant Virgilian tenement of this anima mundi, sleeping as it were in the very energy and perfection of its action, and, to use a very familiar image, like the well-whipped sleeping top of a school-boy, which, from the rapidity of its motion, appears perfectly at rest; or whether we suppose it to denote resting in that portion of eternity before the energy of creation; yet that eternal object of love and veneration, the Almighty intellect, the adorable I am, which was, is, and will be,258 is thus ingeniously and happily represented in this specimen of Hindoo art, as even awake, watchful, conscious, and distinct from all modifications of matter. As to the picturesque licence (vulgarly called poetical) of giving five heads to this serpent (which generally is of the hooded, or covra capella kind) whilst in this state of watchful superintendence, like the dragon at Colchos, or in the Hesperian garden;259—whether by this licence it was (still farther) intended to denote the five organs of sensation, by which the mind, or internal inhabitant, receives every species of the various information respecting all the surrounding exterior objects, it is remarkable, that as we have but those five organs, the number of heads, always the same, should so exactly correspond. But, whatever might have been intended by taking this liberty with the serpent, of putting five heads on the same body, although it may be as little warranted by the natural history of this animal, as the licence taken with human nature, of giving a hundred hands to Briareus;260 yet there are many reasons why this liberty is not so shocking in the former as in the latter case. Laying aside the mystical, and considering the mischievous and dreadful power of the serpent, probability is not offended by the seven-headed Hydra of Lerna,261 or the five-headed Corra Capella of the Hindoos. Perhaps this, or something similar, might be the best representation of the Hindostan idea of the divine power in its destroying agency, like that terrible image with so many teeth in the Bagvat Geta, swallowing whole armies and nations.262 But good taste must be for ever offended with any such licentious indulgence, in any representations where human nature is concerned.—But to come back to Minerva: if, together with the remarkable inscription on her temple, at Saïs in Egypt, "I am whatever was, is, and will be, and my vail no mortal hath raised,"263 we add the observation, which occurs in the same tract of Isis and Osiris, where Plutarch, speaking of the animals which were supposed to denote and accompany the ideas of the several celestial personages, the dove Venus, the serpent Minerva, &c.;264 and also the information to be gathered from the Greek statues and bass-reliefs; Minerva then, in all the different ways in which she is employed, whether as feeding the serpent in the elegant little bass-relief on the triangular altar or pedestal of the famous Barberini Candelabrum (now in the Papal Museum), [img] or in those of Hygeia, or in the Minerva at the Justiniani, & c. with the large serpent at her feet, and raising its head at her side (similar, perhaps, to that of Phidias at Athens, of which there is a slight account in Pausanias);265 but she is always so enveloped with this breast-plate, or broad belt of the living skin of this many-headed serpent, as to denote the same identity with the serpent itself, according to the more elegant, gustoso, Grecian mode of rendering the same old idea of the Gentoos and Egyptians;—it does appear then, that the circle formed by the serpent with his tail in his mouth, which was supposed to denote eternity, has still much more in it, and was actually intended to typify the eternity of the supreme mind or intellect; and the serpent enveloping the globe, or the mundane egg, its involutions round the Hindostan lingham, or playing round the Greek seven-stringed lyre of Apollo.266 How important are these lessons, and how admirably and gracefully conveyed!

This ancient association of ideas, which connect wisdom with the serpent, made its way down to the very promulgation of Christianity, where it is recommended to connect the wisdom of the serpent, with the innocence of the dove; and the serpent, in the beautiful allegorical or mystical representation respecting the state of innocence, is denominated the subtilest beast of the field.267 Were we to examine this matter in another way; the old serpent, the great dragon with hideous Cerberean heads, who, after having spread its pestilential infections far and wide, is chained down by the angel in the Revelations,268 how happily does it pourtray the self-importance, pride, and malignant though impotent enterprises of the creature, rebelling against his Almighty Creator, and impiously abusing his allotted portion of intellect in the reprobate atheistical barkings, and perverse, hellish yells of those doctrines of materialism, which, with such a mischievous, hateful industry, is, in the true spirit of Anti-Christ, attempted to be obtruded on the world, under the specious, much-abused name of philosophy!269 However, God forbid that our horror and hatred of the doctrine should be extended to the men who possess it! their state of mind, whether arising from restiveness, vanity, or mistaken calculation, is comfortless and gloomy enough, without any further addition from the want of kindness and charity in their fellow men: their opinions ought to be left to God and themselves, which I hope, in future, will ever be the case; and that they will themselves endeavour generously to make the basis of citizenship as broad as may be, and give every encouragement and example to this pacific disposition, by adopting such a temper, and even toleration, in the management of their disputes, as will comport better with the necessary, social charities. Their information does by no means entitle them to assume so many magisterial airs of supercilious contempt for their believing opponents: it would better become them to be more sparing of uncivil, offensive epithets; superstition, bigotry, or ignorance, need not be flung so liberally and indiscriminately on all religious belief whatever, so as to include a Socrates, a Plato, a Bacon, a Fenelon, Milton, or Locke, Boerhaave, Grotius, and many such.270 Alas! it is very certain that the most hopeless and unmanageable of atheistical disputants would be the man of least information respecting all that beauty, order, and wise, admirable adaptation, which constitute the phenomena of the natural and moral world; and it is to be lamented, that but few men are likely to feel themselves disposed to afford the necessary time or patience for communicating the previous information, upon which the subsequent conviction of such a would-be philosopher, must be founded. Humility is a Christian virtue, of no small utility in the numerous classes where enquiry cannot be conveniently pursued.

If any one should start a query, why the ancients, who reasoned so deeply, should, in their personifications of the sovereign wisdom, have chosen Minerva a female; why the Muses, who preside over the several subordinate modes of intelligence, & c. are all females; and why the conversation of the serpent was held with Eve, in order that her influence might be employed in persuading Adam; such queries could have been well and pertinently answered, by the eloquent, generous, amiable sensibility of the celebrated and long-to-be-lamented Mary Wolstonecraft, and would interweave very gratefully with another edition of her Rights of Women.271 Her honest heart, so estranged from all selfishness, and which could take so deep and generous an interest in whatever had relation to truth and justice, however remote as to time and place, would find some matter for consolation, in discovering that the ancient nations of the world entertained a very different opinion of female capabilities, from those modern Mahometan, tyrannical, and absurd degrading notions of female nature, at which her indignation was so justly raised. Civil society has many obligations to that excellent woman, and would do well to discharge some of them, by kind attentions to the two female children she has left behind her, if ever they should need them, which I am happy to say is not the case at present, nor likely to be so, whilst God Almighty spares the life and health of the ingenious Mr. Godwin, the father of one, and the kind, generous protector of the other.272

These observations respecting the patronage and presidency of Minerva in our art, have suggested themselves to me in the painting of a work which is now under my hands, and, though very large, makes but part of another work of considerable extension (I pray God I may be suffered to carry it on, and finish it in peace; horrid to think! but let me go on):273 it is the story of Pandora, or the Heathen Eve, brought into the Assembly of the Gods, preparatory to the sending her down to Epimetheus, her destined husband; [img] where, whilst Pandora is dressing by the attendant Graces, Minerva is discoursing to her on the domestic duties of a wife, with a shuttle in her right hand, and in her left a tapestry robe woven with it, in which is represented, by a few intimations in the enlightened parts of the folds, the story of Jove fulminating the Titans, or the punishment of that pride and arrogance which was likely soon to become apparent in the descendants of our poor Pandora. The moment I came to ask myself, what it was that Minerva was teaching to Pandora, it opened upon me all at once, that she was teaching her to paint; teaching her an art which was so capable of being made subservient to all the social duties, and where it was impossible to excel in it, without the acquisition of such information, respecting all the concerns and dearest interests of humanity, as could not fail, when joined with the superior sentiment and graces of feminine softness, to become the solace and anodyne against the numberless and unavoidable miseries of life; and as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, citizens, and above all, as friends, these endearing accomplishments, which would thus attach, could not fail of rendering them the graceful ornament of all stations. Hurried as I am, to close this letter, I must, however, here allow myself just to observe, that this matter respecting the utility, propriety, and peculiar adaptation of Minerva's interference in female education, coming as it does, with all the recommendations of respectability from such remote antiquity, and through that classical, graceful channel, where civilisation must recognise so many obligations, such a matter as this is most assuredly highly worthy the serious consideration of the females of our islands. Pandora herself, let us suppose what we may, could not possibly have higher pretensions to all the beauties and graces of form, colour, and natural disposition, than many which, according to the confession of all Europe, it is the pride and glory of our mild and genial climate to produce: a race of women better calculated to display the salutary effects of such an education, certainly never existed. It is painful to me to be obliged to censure, and yet it has been my fortune to be much concerned in matters where the performance of this harsh task became a duty, from which I ought not to shrink. I must then, with all becoming submission to my destiny, proceed to state, though as briefly as may be, that our females (of such independent easy means as might place them above drudging for the necessaries of subsistence) would do well, or at least those who are interested in their real advantage, to substitute this art of Minerva, which is connected with so many benefits to themselves, and to every thing connected with them, in lieu of that art of Music, upon which so much female time and attention is wasted, and where, after the greatest, or at least the most important part of life (because it is that part which is devoted to the acquisition of what is to be used and practised upon ever after), where this most important time and attention is employed in the pursuit of the infinitessimal divisions and arrangements of flats and sharps, and a long et catera, altogether unconnected with the acquisition of even one single idea towards the expansion or improvement of either the head or the heart, and which, even after so much labour and application, is likely to leave them nothing better than a mere toy of amusement for tickling the ear, instead of being what they might be, the well-instructed companion and confidential associate, so peculiarly calculated for the communication of many interesting concerns, where a man is likely to want a true friend, if he does not find it in a female, for men have naturally too much rivalship, to expect any utility or assistance from them: on certain trying occasions of daily occurrence, men never can have the same interests. Nothing could be more wisely and admirably adapted to this most interesting end than female nature, when its education co-operates with that desire and endeavour implanted by its Creator, of recommending itself by the dear heart-felt offices of satisfaction and utility; or, as the old phrase nobly and pithily words it, of being indeed a helpmate both in body and mind.274 Even the very faults of women arise from this generous source of sociability, from the efforts to excel each other in pleasing and creating a superior interest in the other sex, which appears to be their wish, as well as their destination, at all events; and the means they are obliged to employ to this end, are generally well adapted, and in unison with the dispositions on which they were intended to operate. Indeed their endeavour is generally and generously to outdo and go even further than the male, in the object of his own wishes, whatever it may be. Hence it is, that the wife of a cheating shopkeeper or dealer, is generally a greater, a more complete cheat than her husband: the women attaching to a camp, a banditti, or a horde of Indians, are (merely to recommend themselves) generally more refined in cruelty than the men: and as a few exceptions cannot prevent the admission of general truths, so we might well expect to find the wife of a Phocion, Brutus, Barneveldt, Grotius, and Roland, so much of a texture with their excellent husbands.275 And I will, from the memoirs relating to the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal de Noailles, one of the last glorious assertors of the few Gallican liberties then surviving, add the following passage (well worthy remarking) respecting that admirable, excellent man, Daguesseau, the Procureur General of France, who, when he was obliged to go into the King's presence at Versailles, August 11, 1714, with the alternative before him, either to sacrifice his conscience and duty, by an acquiescence with the Royal despotic Declaration, or incurring the King's displeasure by refusing it: "Avant que de partir, il dit adieu à la Procureuse Générale, & lui fit sentir qu'il ne savoit pas s'il n'iroit point coucher à la Bastille; mais sans être étonnée de ce discours, & sans s'attendrir sur le sort d'un époux qui lui est si cher, elle lui répondit avec courage: Allez, Monsieur, & agissez comme si vous n'aviez ni femme ni enfans; j'aime infiniment mieux vous voir conduire avec honneur à la Bastille que de vous voir revenir ici déshonoré."276 I have much pleasure in believing that I know some women who could equal all the dignity of Madame Daguesseau's admirable conduct, had their husbands (if in similar circumstances) the magnanimity to furnish the occasion. With such a coadjutor at a man's elbow, how patiently, serenely, and, I had almost said, good-humouredly, might he not pass through any storms! how little could the envy or malignity of any combinations affect him!

It is much to be wished that the illustrious example of female education at Windsor, which has been attended with such grateful fruits in the many interesting and universally acknowledged accomplishments of our amiable Princesses, was more imitated than it has been by all parents, after her most gracious Majesty the Queen had held out to them a Specimen so exemplary and successful.277 I am happy to have long since taken such notice of this wise, graceful specimen of female education, as to have interwoven it with my work on the necessity of human culture, at the Adelphi, as appears from my sketch for the space in the centres, over the fire-places, which accompanied the prints of that work published in May, 1791:278 and I could not refuse myself the pleasure of recognizing that incident of justice to her Majesty's most sagacious conduct upon an occasion where the very important business of female education again occurred to my observation. I am glad to have arrived at the end of my Letter;279 it has gotten immoderately long, and has tired even myself: but still, as the respectable name of Sir Joshua Reynolds has so frequently occurred in it, a name interesting to the Art and to the Nation, and in which you had more than a participation of the common property; as he was a Member of your Society, it will very well coincide with the publicity of our views, to mention his name again, and to transcribe here a few observations upon the character of his works, which I took occasion to mention in the Academy (just after his death), under a hope of inducing that body to set on foot a subscription for erecting a monument to his memory.280 It came in at the conclusion of my Lecture on Colouring, and was as follows:

"A just attention to the admirable principles of chiaro-scuro and colouring, discoverable in the fine works of Titian, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vandyck, must more than any thing, lead us to reflect upon the great loss this Academy has sustained by the death of its late illustrious President. In this very important part of the Art, Sir Joshua Reynolds was singularly excellent; and we might call to our recollection many of his works which have been exhibited on these walls, that may be ranked with the finest examples for colouring and chiaro-scuro. For a great part of his life, he was continually employed in the painting of portraits, undoubtedly because there was no demand in the country for any thing else, as the public taste had been formed to this by the long line of the Hudsons, Highmores, Jervoices, and Knellers, who had preceded him,281 and whose works sufficiently testify, from what a wretched state Sir Joshua raised this branch of the Art, and how vigorous, graceful, and interesting it became, by the masterly way in which he treated it. In many of Titian's portraits, the head and hands are mere staring, lightish spots, unconnected with either the drapery or back-ground, which are sometimes too dark, and mere obscure nothings: and in Lely, and even in Vandyck, we sometimes meet with the other extreme, of too little solidity, too much flicker and washiness. Sir Joshua's object appears to have been, to obtain the vigour and solidity of the one, and the bustle and spirit of the other, without the excesses of either and in by far the greatest part of his portraits he has admirably succeeded. His portrait of Mrs. Siddons, [img] is, both for the ideal and executive, the finest picture of the kind, perhaps, in the world;282 indeed, it is something more than portrait, and may serve to give an excellent idea of what an enthusiastic mind is apt to conceive of those pictures of confined history, for which Apelles was so celebrated by the ancient writers. But this picture of Mrs. Siddons, or the Tragic Muse, was painted not long since, when much of his attention had been turned to history; and it is highly probable that the picture of Lord Heathfield,283 the glorious defender of Gibraltar, would have been of equal importance, had it been a whole-length: [img] but even as it is, only a bust, yet there is great animation and a spirit, happily adapted to the indications of the tremendous scene around him, and to the admirable circumstance of the key of the fortress, firmly grasped in his hands, than which imagination cannot conceive any thing more ingenious, and heroically characteristic.

It is, perhaps, owing to the Academy, and to his situation in it, to the discourses which he biennially made to the pupils upon the great principles of Historical Art, and the generous ardour of his own mind, to realize what he advised - to these alone (and not to any patronage or prospect of greater emolument)284 we are indebted for a few expansive efforts of colouring and chiaro-scuro, that would do honour to the first names in the records of Art. Nothing can exceed the brilliancy of light, the force and vigorous effect of his picture of the Infant Hercules strangling the serpents:285 it possesses all that we look for, and are accustomed to admire in Rembrandt, united to beautiful forms, and an elevation of mind, to which Rembrandt had no pretensions. The prophetical agitation of Tiresias and Juno, enveloped with clouds, hanging over the scene, like a black pestilence, can never be too much admired, and are indeed truly sublime. It is very much to be regretted, that this picture is in the hands of strangers, at a great distance from the lesser works of Sir Joshua, as it would communicate great value and éclat to them. What a becoming, graceful ornament it would be, in one of the halls of the City of London! But from an unhappy combination of evils, generally attendant upon human affairs (particularly on those which, from their superior importance, are likely to excite much attention), there is, and almost always has been, occasion to lament, that nearly nine out of ten of those great opportunities of the exertions of Art have been little better than thrown away. When a great corporation, or any other great employer, are willing to bestow attention upon Art, and expend largely for the gratification of the public taste in this way, there is then done all that can fairly be expected from them; but whether this shall be well or ill directed, is very fortuitous, and, as Fenelon, and all men of observation tell us, will depend greatly upon such tricks, artifices and scrambling, as must bring it more within the reach of meanness and cunning, from whom little can be expected, than of that elevation of soul, and important ability, that alone could do adequate honour to the undertaking. The great employer is the greatest (I had almost said the only) loser, when he does not fortunately light upon an artist at par with the undertaking: the labours of ignorance can be the vehicle of nothing creditable with posterity: the good favour of the employers, or the greatness of the undertaking, cannot give such an artist the necessary requisites. Although then there is no reasonable ground for blame or censure, yet there is much for regret and concern, as these combinations of artifice on the one side, and mistake on the other, are so often inseparable concomitants in the concerns of Art. A very striking instance of this unlucky combination, happened not long since in a sister kingdom, where it appears that the Viceroy, and all the chief personages of the country, were so far infatuated, as to throw away their countenance and attention upon a large historical picture, painted by an engraver, which was to be a glorious record and commemoration of a great kingdom, of a new Order of Knighthood, and of St. Patrick, the patron of both.286 How such an artist could, in an enlightened age, and in the face of a Royal Academy, muster up the effrontery for such an undertaking, and expect, and really find so much support in it, is a matter of real astonishment.

Nothing could be more fatal, than that the Students of the Academy should ever be deluded into the notion, that there are any short cuts to be found, by which the ends of Art may be obtained, without all that long and previous education and labour that have been heretofore judged so necessary. The rejection of all the drawings for the Academy figure at the last contention for the medal,*287, which never happened before, would incline one to think, that some of the students are in too great a hurry, and wish to appear at the end as cheaply as possible. Although this be too much the character of the age we live in, yet it ought to be hoped that the students, young men, with time before them, would heartily despise it, and learn to think more generously; they, I persuade myself, were led into that precipitation, by a late regulation, regarding the duration of study, but which has been since done away: to this we shall ascribe it, and not to any want of modesty in the students. They will let no examples of any seeming temporary success prevail with them, to have any reliance on whatever may be obtained by the disingenuous arts of cabal and intrigue; they will remember, that

"Painful and slow, to noble Arts we rise,
And long, long labours, wait the glorious prize.

Let it be the happiness of the students, that this is the fact, that the acquisition of Art requires much time and great labour; this it is that will secure to themselves, all that is valuable in their art, free from the invasions of vain people of rank and fortune, who, though they may be inclined to dabble, and may sometimes obtain medals, and little distinctions from other societies, yet will never bestow the necessary labour in the previous studies, which only can enable them ultimately to produce what is worthy of Art. Devote yourselves then generously to an honourable procedure, with a hearty contempt for all low cunning and short cuts; detest all clubs, and occasions of cabal; their prime object is to level every thing, and to give strength to the malignity of ignorance and incapacity, by extensive associations. Go home from the Academy, light your lamps, and exercise yourselves in the creative part of your Art, with Homer, with Livy, and all the great characters, ancient and modern, for your companions and counsellors.

These general reflections, which led us from Sir Joshua, have brought us to him again; the lustre of his character cannot but be profitable to you, in whatever way it be considered. His efforts of the historical kind were all made within the compass of a few years before his death. No student in the Academy could have been more eager for improvement, than he was for the last twelve years; and the accumulated vigour and value which characterize what he has done within that period, to the very last, could never have been foreseen or expected from what he had done, even at the outset of the Academy and for some years after. It is to be regretted so much of this earnestness should have been suffered to evaporate, without securing something more for the public. His mind was full of the idea of advancement, and pursuit of the extraordinary and grand of the Art; he even, in his last discourse, seems to speak slightingly of his own pursuits in the Art, and said, that, were he to begin the world again, he would leave all, and imitate the manner of Michael Angelo.288 But nothing could be more unjust than to take this passage too literally: it is the natural language of a mind full of generous heat, making but little account of what it had attained to, and rapidly in progress to something further. But surely, without either alteration or further advancement, had it been Sir Joshua's fortune to have lived a little longer, and, whether commissioned or not, had he contrived to have left in this great city, some work, of the same majesty of effect, vigour, harmony, and beauty of colour, the same classical, happy propriety of character and intellectual arrangement, as is conspicuous in his infant Hercules, the business of his reputation had been completed, and his country would have the satisfaction of shewing a work that, upon a fair balance of excellence and deficiency on both sides, would not shrink from a comparison with the most esteemed works: and you, Young Gentlemen, would be thereby possessed of a great advantage in assisting your studies, particularly in the chiaro-scuro and colouring, in which he was so singularly excellent, and which are so essentially necessary to the perfection of your Art.

We shall long have occasion to remember the literary (I might say classical) talents, which form another part of the character of this great man, gracefully, highly ornamental, and most becoming his situation in this Academy. From the congeniality of mind, which associated him in friendly habits with all the great literary characters of his time, they followed him into this institution; and we have the honour of shewing their names, set like brilliants of the first water, in the ornamental appendages of professors of ancient literature, and other such similar accomplishments associated with the Academy.289 As to those admirable discourses which he biennially read here, you will, I am sure, have reason to participate with me in the satisfaction of knowing, that, together with the edition of them which is now printing, there will be published, "Observations on the Pictures in Flanders," which Sir Joshua had made during a summer's excursion to that country.290 How fitted to each other, such a man, and such a work! Although the time at present will not allow us any further recognition of the many singular merits of this great man, which do so much honour to our institution, and to the nation; yet, as above all things, we are most interested in the becoming, generous feelings of the heart, it is impossible to withhold myself here from anticipating the exultation with which I shall see the young artists and students coming forward in a body, and with honest ardour petitioning, that a contribution from them be accepted of as a part of a fund for defraying the expence of a monument for this father and ornament of the Academy. The value of such a contribution would be derived from the endearing exemplary circumstance of its coming from them, and not from the sum: it would be beginning life well, and be a kind of pledge and surety for the exercise of the same feelings through their remaining career; half a crown from each would be better than ten pounds. Such honest, generous intercourse between master and scholar, the dead and the living, cannot be exercised without satisfaction and improvement to their own hearts. I speak as if there was a monument to be erected to the memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds: but, to my astonishment, I have heard of no such matter as yet.-The Academy will surely soon wake and rouse itself; it can never suffer that the engravers alone should do themselves and their profession honour by erecting a monument to the memory of Woollet (but it ought to be strange).291 If so much is done in the commemoration of small and subordinate excellence, what ought not the Academy to do, in a matter where themselves, the honour of the Art, and of the Country, are so deeply interested! Originating in the Academy, all the Artists and Dilettanti of the Nation would come forward, and this Royal Institution (which, I trust, will live for ever), founded in the Metropolis of the British Empire, would set out in a noble becoming manner. God forbid that it should ever appear to our successors, in the next generation, that we too have been so devoted to the hellish292 arts of mean, selfish policy, as to neglect the incumbent duty of transmitting to them an honest, exemplary testimony of our recognition of so much excellence.

Read in the Academy, February 18, 1793.

The essential service rendered to the Art, and to the Public, by the Dilettanti Society, in affording the means of completing that valuable work of Steward's Antiquities of Athens, and also the other excellent work of the Ionian Antiquities, by Messrs. Revet and Chandler,293 have induced me to hope, that similar good consequences will follow from their patriotic interposition in this other matter, of even still higher importance, respecting a public collection of the exemplars of Art.

With all due consideration, therefore, I have the honour to subscribe myself,
Your sincere, and most obedient servant,

Castle-Street, Oxford-Market,
July 25, 1797.

P. S. As it may happen, at some time or other, that your Society, or some Member of it, may think of collecting for the Public, original writings or letters of great artists, in the manner of that valuable work published at Rome, in 5 vols. quarto, by Monseigneur Bottari;294 I had thought of inserting here, for the benefit of such a collection, a few letters written by a great man, who would have been much greater, had he lived in a country more advanced, and better fitted to his very extraordinary attainments. These letters were written by Mr. Hussey, famous even from his disappointment, by which the Art and national law have lost so much. But as their insertion would have occasioned too great a delay in the printing, the idea was given up, though with much regret, as I hoped they would be the occasion of bringing to light some other writings, letters, or interesting anecdotes, of this truly great, though unfortunate man, which would, give me some reason to claim merit with the Public on that account.