« ZurückWeiter »
Thou know'st how soon we felt this influence In riper years, again together thrown, bland,
Our studies, as our sports before, were one. And sought the brook and coppice, hand in hand, Together we explored the stoic page And shaped rude bows, and uncouth whistles blew, Of the Ligurian, stern though beardless sage . And paper kites (a last, great effort) flew;
Or traced th’ Aquinian through the Latine road, And, when the day was done, retired to rest, | And trembled at the lashes he bestow'd. Sleep on our eyes, and sunshine in our breast. Together, too, when Greece unlock'd her stores,
We roved, in thought, o'er Troy's devoted shores, For not the liveried tribes which wait
Or follow'd, while he sought his native soil, Around the mansions of the great,
“ That old man eloquent,” from toil to toil ; Can keep, my friend, aloof,
Lingering, with good Alcinöus, o'er the tale, Fear, that attacks the mind by fils,
Till the east redden'd, and the stars grew pale. And care that, like a raven, flits
So pass'd our life, till fate, severely kind,
Tore us apart, and land and sea disjoin'd, * well is he!” to whom kind heaven
For many a year: Now met, to part no more, A decent competence has given !
Th' ascendant power, confess'd so strong of yore, Rich is the blessing sent; He grasps not anxiously at more,
Stronger by absence, every thought controls,
And knits, in perfect unity, our souls.
O, IRELAND! if the verse, which thus essays “O well is he!” for life is lost
To trace our lives “e'en from our boyish days," Amid a world of passions toss'd;
Delight thy ear, the world besides may rail-
I care not-at th' uninteresting tale;
I only seek, in language void of art, His eager views beyond the reach or his contracted span ?
To ope my breast, and pour out all my heart;
And, boastful of thy various worth, to tell
How long we loved, and, thou canst add, HOW WELL!
Thou too, My HOPPNER !* if my wish avail'd, Was never one in this wild chase,
Shouldst praise the strain that but for thee had fail'd; Who changed his nature with his place, And left himself behind.
* Since this edition was prepared for the press, the Lo! wing'd with all the lightning's speed,
country has been deprived of this distinguished and enCare climbs the bark, care mounts the steed, lightened artist, whose hard destiny it was to struggle An inmate of the breast :
with many difficulties through the intermediate stages of Nor Barca's heat, nor Zembla's cold,
an arduous profession, and to be snatched from the world Can drive from that pernicious hold
at the moment when his "greatness was a ripening," The too tenacious guest.
and the full reward of his labours and his genius securely He whom no anxious thoughts annoys,
within his grasp. His art, by his untimely fate, has susGrateful, the present hour enjoys,
tained a loss which will not easily be repaired; for he Nor seeks the next to know;
was, in all respects, a very eminent man, and, while he To lighten every ill he strives,
I lived, most vigorously supported by his precept, as well Norere misfortune's hand arrives,
as by the example of his own productions, those genuine Anticipates the blow.
principles of taste and nature which the genius of Rey Something must ever be amiss :
nolds first implanted among us. But though Mr. Hopp
ner well knew how to appreciate that extraordinary perMan has his joys; bui-perfect blissA phantom of the brain !
son, and entertained the highest veneration for his pro. We cannot all have all we want
fessional powers, he was very far from his copyist; And Chance, unask'd, to this may grant
occasionally, indeed, he imitated his manner, and formed What that has begg'd in vain.
his pictures on similar principles; but what he thus Wolfe rush'd on death in manhood's bloom,
borrowed he made his own with such playful ingenuity,
and adorned and concealed his plagiarism with so many Paulet crepe slowly to the tomb;
winning and original graces, that his pardon was sealed Here breath, there fame was given:
ere his sentence could be pronounced. The prevailing And that wise power, who weighs our lives,
fashion of the times, together with his own narrow cir. By contras and by pros contrives
cumstances in early life, necessarily airected his atten. To keep the balance even.
tion, almost exclusively, to the study of portrait-painting : To thee she gave two piercing eyes,
in a different situation, the natural bent of his genius, no A boly—just of Tydeus' size,
less than his inclinations, would probably have led him A judgment sound and clear;
to landscape, and the rural and familiar walks of life ; A mind with various science fraught,
for when he exercised his talents upon subjects of this A liberal soul, a threadbare coat,
nature, he did it with so much ease and pleasure to himAnd forty pounds a year.
self, and was always go eminently successful, that it To me, one eye not over good,
furnishes matter for regret, that the severe and harassing Two sides that, to their cost, have stood
duties of his principal occupation did not allow him more A ten years' hectic cough;
| frequent opportunities of indulging his fancy in the pur Aches, stitches, all the numerous ills
suit of objects so congenial with his feelings and disposiWhich swell the devilish doctor's bills,
tion. Of his exquisite taste in landscape, the backgrounds And sweep poor mortals off:
which he occasionally introduced in his portraits will A coat more bare than thine, a soul
alone afford sufficient evidence, without considering the That spurns the crowd's malign control,
beautiful sketches in chalk, with which he was accus A fix'd contempt of wrong;
tomed to amuse his leisure hours. These are executed Spirits above affliction's power,
with a vigour and felicity peculiar to himself, and discover And skill to charm the lonely hour
a knowledge and comprehension of landscape which With no inglorious song.
would do honour to a Gainsborough. Indeed, in several
Thou know'st, when indolence possess'd me all, ME, all too weak to gain the distant land,
The waves had whelm'd, but that an outstretch'd Burst from the siren's fascinating power,
hand And gave the muse thou lovest one studious hour. Kindly upheld, when now with fear unnerved,
Proud of thy friendship, while the voice of fame And still protects the life it then preserved. Pursues thy merits with a loud acclaim,
THEE, powers untried, perhaps unfelt before, I share the triumph ; not unpleased to see
Enabled, though with pain, to reach the shore, Our kindred destinies :-for thou, like me, While West stood by, the doubtful strife to view, Wast thrown too soon on the world's dangerous Nor lent a friendly arm to help thee through.
Nor ceased the struggle there ; hate, ill-suppress'd, To sink or swim, as chance might best decide. — Her vantage took of thy ingenuous breast,
respects, there appear to have been many points of simi- and distinct, yet so artfully and judiciously broken, that larity between these extraordinary men, not only in it requires an experienced eye to detect the delicate pro. particular parts of their art, but also in their conversa-cess by which the effect is accomplished. In the flesh of tion, disposition, and character.
his best female portraits, in particular, there is a union In portrait, however, Mr. Hoppner was decidedly su- of airiness with substance, of lustre with refined softness,
far outstripped Gainsborough in this del wh partment of art, that it would be the highest injustice to original hand, which, in the formation of its " last, best attempt a comparison of their powers. The distinguish work," rendered all chance of rivalship hopeless. ing characteristic of Mr. Hoppner's style is an easy and The absorbing quality of his principal pursuit seldom unaffected elegance, which reigns throughout all his allowed Mr. Hoppner to turn his attention practically to works: his naturally refined taste appeared to have given the more elevated departments of art, yet he had a sinhim almost intuitively an aversion from every thing cere respect for the noble productions of the Italian which bordered on affectation and vulgarity; and enabled
schools, and the writer of these pages still remembers him to stamp an air of gentility and fashion on the most with pleasure the enthusiastic delight which he evinced inveterate awkwardness and deformity. Few men ever | upon first entering the Louvre, and viewing the wonders sacrificed to the graces more liberally or with greater of that magnificent collection.-Taste in the arts and elesuccess : at his transforming touch, harshness and aspe- gances of life he possessed in a very uncommon degree. rity dimpled into smiles, age lost its furrows and its It formed the distinguishing feature of his character, and pallid hues, and swelled on the sight in all the splendour shone alike conspicuously, whether his talents were of youthful exuberance. This power of improving what exercised upon music or painting, in writing or converwas placed before him, without annihilating resemblance, sation. His colloquial powers, indeed, have not often obtained him a decided preference to all the artists of been excelled; for, in his happiest moments, there was his day among the fairer part of fashionable society, with a novelty of thought, a playful brilliancy, and a boundless whom, it is probable, even Sir Joshua himself was never fertility of invention, which affixed to all he uttered the so great a favourite. Reynolds was too apt to be guilty stamp of originality and genius, and delighted every of the sin of painting all he saw, and now and then would hearer.-Sometimes, indeed, he indulged in a severity of maliciously exaggerate any little defect, if he could there
sarcasm, which, to such as are unaccustomed to make by increase the strength of the character which he was allowances for the quick perceptions and irritable feeldepicting. Mr. Hoppner pursued a different plan: he ings of genius, appeared to partake somewhat too much painted his beauties not always exactly as they appeared, of bitterness and asperity; possibly, when engaged in but as they wished to appear; and to those whose charms | mixed society, this notion might not be altogether void were “falling into the sear, the yellow leaf," his pictures of foundation, but they who were accustomed to enjoy were the most agreeable, and consequently the truest of his company under different circumstances, amid the all mirrors. The same qualities which rendered him so tranquil scenes of rural retirement, when his mind was highly successful in his portraits of women, did not, per- free from the little cares and fretting incidents of the haps, afford him equal advantages in those of the other world, and his character and feelings were allowed their sex, in which strength and character ought to take the full scope, will ever remember, with a sensation of minlead of almost every other consideration; his portraits gled sorrow and delight, the fancy, the enthusiasm, and of men were generally, if the expression be allowable, the sentimental tenderness, which, on such occasions, too civilized and genteel to be very striking and forcible; | breathed throughout his discourse. His education had
onstant wish to represent the gentleman, he been neglected : such, however, was the energy and actisometimes failed to delineate the man. To this observa-vity of his mind, that this original defect was visible only tion, however, it must be acknowledged, that many of to the few who were in habits of the closest intimacy his best works form very splendid exceptions; and those with him. He read much, and with discrimination and who have viewed and attentively examined his admirable judgment: the best English authors were familiar to him: portraits of the Archbishop of York, Lord Spencer, Dr. and there was scarcely a topic of conversation into which Pitcairn, Mr. Pitt, &c., may rather feel inclined to regret he could not enter with advantage, or a subject, however that the prevailing fashion of the day should, in this
should, in this remote from his ordinary pursuits, which his taste could instance, have produced a misapplication of his powers, not embellish, and his knowledge illustrate. than to lament their natural deficiency.
He died on the 23d of January, 1810, of a lingering and In his portraits of children he was peculiarly fortunate: doubtful disease, at the age of fifty-one years. In the he entered completely into the infantine character, and early progress of his complaint, he did not appear to arranged his compositions of this species with that unaf. entertain the slightest idea of its fatal termination; but fected ease and playful grace which so pleasinely mark a few months previously to his death, it is the early periods of human life. One great charm of his the following affecting incident, that he was fully sensipictures arises from the air of negligence and facility ble of his approaching dissolution. Toward the close which pervades them; their production appears to have of autumn, as he was walking on the sunny side of St. cost no effort, and the careless boldness of his handling, James's-square, which, from its warm and sheltered situaequally removed from insipidity and handicraft, stamps tion, he was in the habit of frequenting, he was met by a the hand of a master upon the most trifling of his per- | near relation of the writer, who, after accompanying him formances. His colouring is natural, chaste, and power for a short distance, prepared to quit him. “No; don't ful, and his tones, for the most part, mellow and deep; go yet," said he,“ my good fellow; stay and take another the texture of his flesh is uniformly excellent, and his turn or two with me.- I like to walk in the decline of the penciling rich and full: his carnations transparent, fresh, I last summer's sun which I shall ever live to enjoy."
Where saving wisdom yet had placed no screen, I mark'd with secret joy the opening bloom
Swells with its recent transports, recent fears, While baffled malice hastes thy powers to own, And tenderest titles strike yet charm thy ears, And wonders at the worth so long unknown! | Say, wilt thou from thy feelings pause a while,
I too, whose voice no claims but truth's e'er moved, To view my humble labours with a smile ? Who long have seen thy merits, long have loved, Thou wilt: for still 'tis thy delight to praise, Yet loved in silence, lest the rout should say, And still thy fond applause has crown'd my lays. Too partial friendship tuned th' applausive lay, Here then I rest; soothed with the hope to prove Now, now that all conspire thy name to raise, | The approbation of “ the few I love," May join the shout of unsuspected praise.
Join'd (for ambitious thoughts will sometimes Go then, since the long struggle now is o'er,
rise) And envy can obstruct thy fame no more,
To the kind sufferance of the good and wise. With ardent hand thy magic toil pursue,
Thus happy,-I can leave, with tranquil breast, And pour fresh wonders on the raptured view. Fashion's loud praise to Laura and the rest, One sun is set, one GLORIOUS SUN, whose rays Who rhyme and rattle, innocent of thought, Long gladden'd Britain with no common blaze : Nor know that nothing can proceed from naught. O mayst Thou soon (for clouds begin to rise) Thus happy,–I can view, unrusled, Miles Assert his station in the eastern skies.
Twist into splay-foot doggrel all St. Giles, Glow with his fires, and give the world to see Edwin spin paragraphs with Vaughan's whole Another REYNOLDS risen, MY FRIEND, IN THEE!
skill But whither roves the muse? I but design'd Este, rapt in nonsense, gnaw his gray goose To note the few whose praise delights my mind;
quill, But friendship's power has drawn the verse astray, Merry in dithyrambics rave his wrongs, Wide from its aim, a long but flowery way. And Weston, foaming from Pope's odious songs, Yet one remains, ONE NAME for ever dear, “ Much injured Weston,” vent in odes his grief, With whom, conversing many a happy year, | And fly to Urban for a short relief.
ROBERT BURNS, the son of William Burnes, or Mr.Murdoch having been compelled to leave Ayt, Burness, was born on the 25th of January, 1759, in in consequence of some inadvertent expressions a clay-built cottage, about two miles to the south directed against Dr. Dalrymple, the elder Burns of the town of Ayr, in Scotland. His father, who himself undertook, for a time, the tuition of his was a gardener and small farmer, appears to have family. When Robert, however, was about fourteen been a man highly and deservedly respected, and years of age, his father sent him and Gilbert,“ week Burns' description of him as “ the saint, the father, / about, during the summer quarter,” to a parish and the husband," of the Cotter's Saturday Night, school, by which means they alternately improved attests the affectionate reverence with which he themselves in writing, and assisted their parents regarded him. At the age of six years, Robert was in the labours of a small farm. According to our sent to a small school at Alloway Miln, then super-poet's own account, he, as he says, first committed intended by a teacher namned Campbell; but who, the sin of rhyme a little before he had attained his retiring shortly after, was succeeded by a Mr. John sixteenth year. The inspirer of his muse was love, Murdoch. Under the tuition of this gentleman, the the object of which he describes as a“ bonnie, sweet, subject of our memoir made rapid progress in read- sonsie lass," whose charms he was anxious to celeing, spelling, and writing ; and though, to use his brate in verse. “I was not so presumptuous,” he own words,“ it cost the schoolmaster some thrash says, “ as to imagine that I could make verses like ings,” he soon became an excellent English scholar. printed ones, composed by men who had Greek and A love of reading and a thirst for general knowledge Latin ; but my girl sung a song which was said to were observable at an early age ; and before he had be composed by a small country laird's son, on one attained his seventeenth year, he had read Salmon's of his father's maids, with whom he was in love; and Guthrie's Geographical Grammars, the Lives of and I saw no reason why I might not rhyme as well Hannibal and Wallace, The Spectator, Pope's Works, as he : for, excepting that he could shear sheep, and some of Shakspeare's Plays, Tull and Dickson oncast peats, his father living in the moorlands, he had Agriculture, Tooke's Pantheon, Locke's Essay on no more scholar-craft than myself. Thus with me the Understanding, Stackhouse's History of the Bible, began love and poetry.” The British Gardener's Directory, Boyle's Lectures, The production alluded to is the little ballad Allan Ramsay's Works, Taylor's Scripture Doctrine commencingof Original Sin, Hervey's Meditations, and a Collec
O! once I loved a bonnie lass, tion of Songs. These works formed the whole of which Burns himself characterized as “ a very puehis collection, as mentioned by himself in a letter rile and silly performance;” yet, adds Mr. Lockhart, to Dr. Moore ; but his brother Gilbert adds to this it contains, here and there, lines of which he need list Derham's Physico and Astro-Theology, and a hardly have been ashamed at any period of his life. few other works. Of this varied assortment, “ the “ In my seventeenth year,” says Burns," to give Collection of Songs,” says the poet himself, “ was my manners a brush, I went to a country dancing. my rade-mecum. I pored over them, driving my school. My father had an unaccountable antipathy cart, or walking to labour, song by song, verse by against these meetings, and my going was, what to verse; carefully noticing the true tender and sub- this moment I repent, in opposition to his wishes." lime, from affectation or fustian; and I am con- Then, referring to his views in life, he continuesvinced I owe to this practice much of my critic-" The great misfortune of my life was to want an craft, such as it is."
aim. I had felt early some stirrings of ambition, With Mr. Murdoch, Burns remained for about but they were the blind gropings of Homer's Cytwo years, during the last few weeks of which the clops round the walls of his cave. The only two preceptor himself took lessons in the French lan- openings by which I could enter the temple of forquage, and communicated the instructions he re- tune, were the gate of niggardly economy, or the seived to his pupil, who, in a short time, obtained path of little chicaning bargain-making. The first e susficient knowledge of French to enable him to is so contracted an aperture, I never could squeeze read and understand any prose author in that lan- myself into it: the last I always hated—there was quage. The facility with which he acquired the contamination in the very entrance. Thus abanFrench induced him to commence the rudiments of doned to no view or aim in life, with a strong appeLatin, but whether from want of diligence or of tite for sociability, as well from native hilarity as time, or that he found the task more irksome than from a pride of observation and remark; a constihe anticipated, he soon abandoned his design of ac- tutional melancholy, or hypocondriacism, that made quiring a knowledge of the language of the Romans. I me fly from solitude ; add to these incentives to social life, my reputation for bookish knowledge, a had thus been prevented from legitimatizing accordcertain wild logical talent, and a strength of thought ing to the Scottish law. something like the rudiments of good sense; and it In a state of mind bordering closely on insanity, will not seem surprising that I was generally a Burns now resolved to fly the country ; and, after welcome guest where I visited, or any great wonder some trouble, he agreed with Dr. Douglas, who had that always, where two or three met together, there an estate in Jamaica, to go thither as overseer. was I among them.” In this state of mind he | Before sailing, however, he was advised, by his entered recklessly upon a dissipated career, giving friends, to publish his poems by subscription, in loose to his passions, and indulging his taste for order to provide him with necessaries for the voyage, literature with as much irregularity and skill as he and he consented to this expedient, as an experiapplied himself to the plough, the scythe, and the ment which could not injure, and might essentially reaping-hook. To use his own expression, “ Vive benefit him. Subscribers' names were obtained for lamour, et vive la bagatelle,” were his sole prin- about three hundred and fifty copies, and six hunciples of action. In his nineteenth year, he passed dred were printed. The collection was very favoursome time at a school, where he learnt mensuration, ably received by the public, and the author realized, surveying, &c., and also improved himself in other all expenses deducted, a profit of about twenty respects, particularly in composition; which he pounds. “ This sum," says he," came very seasonattributes chiefly to a perusalofa collection of letters, ably; as I was thinking of indenting myself, for by the wits of Queen Anne's reign.
want of money to procure my passage. As soon as In his twenty-third year, partly, as he says, I was master of nine guineas, the price that was through whim, and partly that he wished to set to waft me to the torrid zone, I took a steerage pasabout doing something in life, he entered the service sage in the first ship that was to sail from the Clyde; of a flax-dresser, at Irvine, for the purpose of learn- for ing his trade ; but an accidental fire, which burnt
* * Hungry ruin had me in the wind.' down the shop, put an end to his speculations. After his father's death, which occurred in February, 1784, “I had been some days skulking from covert to he took the farm of Mossgiel, in conjunction with covert, under all the terrors of a jail; as some illhis brother Gilbert. “I entered on it,” says Burns, advised people had uncoupled the merciless pack of *with a firm resolution, Come, go to, I will be the law at my heels. I had taken the last farewell wise." I read farring books; I calculated crops ; of my few friends ; my chest was on the road to I attended markets; and, in short, in spite of the Greenock ; I had composed the last song I should devil, the world, and the flesh,' I believe I should ever measure in Caledonia—The Gloomy Night is have been a wise man ; but, the first year, from Gathering Fast; when a letter from Dr. Blacklock unfortunately buying bad seed, -the second, from to a friend of mine overthrew all my schemes, by a late harvest, we lost half our crops. This overset opening new prospects to my poetic ambition.” all my wisdom, and I returned · like the dog to his This was a recommendation to him to proceed to Fomit, and the sow that was washed to her wal- | Edinburgh, to superintend the publication of a selowing in the mire.'” In other words, he resigned cond edition of his poems; and he accordingly turned the share of the farm to his brüther, and returned his course to the Scutch metropolis, which he reached to habits of intemperance and irregularity. It was in September, 1786. He has already been noticed during his occupation of the farm of Mossgiel, that with much kindness by the Earl of Glencairn, the Burns those became acquainted with Jane Armour, celebrated Professor Stewart and his lady, Dr. Hugh his fu uie wise. This lady was the daughter of a re- Blair, and other; and his personal appearance and spectable mason, in the village of Vouchlie, where demean ur exceeding the expectation that had been she was at the time the reizning teast. The con- formed of them, he soon become an object of genesequence of this acquaintance, which quickly ri- ral curiosity and interest, and was an acceptable pened into mutual love, was soon such that the guest in the gayest and highest circles. He also connexion could no longer be concealed; and, though received, from the literati of the day, every tribute the details of this story are, perhaps, as yet but of praise whirh the mat sanguine author could impe rectly known, it seems, at least, certain, that de re Burns was anxious to shield the partner of his im- Edinburgh, says Dr. C'urnie, contained, at this prudence to the utmost in his power. It was, there- period, many men of considerable talents, who were fore, agreed between them, that he should give her not the most conspicuous for temperance and regua written acknowledgment of marriage, and then larity; Burns entered into several parties of this immediately sail for Jamaica, and push his fortune description with the usual vehemence of his chathere, and that she should remain with her father racter. His generous affection, and brilliant imauntui her plighted husband had the means of support- gination, fitted him to be the idol of such associaing a family. This arrangement, however, did not tions; and, by indulging himself in these festive satisfy the lady's father; who, having but a very recreations, he gradually lost a great portion of indifferent opinion of Burns's general character, was his relish for the purer pleasures to be found in the not to be appeased, and prevailed on his daughter circles of taste, elegance, and literature. He saw to destroy the document, which was the only evi- his danger, and, at times, formed resolutions to guard dence of her marriage. Under these circumstances, against it; but he had embarked on the tide of disJane Armour became the mother of twins, and the sipation, and was borne along its stream. poet was summoned by the parish officers to find After having sojourned for nearly a year in the security for the maintenance of children which he Scottish metropolis, and acquired a sum of money