Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

and even tenor of his whole life. He had, from the beginning of his malady, a distinct view of his dissolution; and he contemplated it with that entire composure, which nothing but the innocence, integrity, and usefulness of his life, and an unaffected submission to the will of Providence, could bestow. In this situation he had every consolation from family tenderness, which his own kindness had, indeed, well deserved.

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS was, indeed, on very many accounts, one of the most memorable men of his time. He was the first Englishman who added the praise of the elegant arts to the other glories of his country. In taste, in grace, in facility, in happy invention, and in the richness and harmony of colouring, he was equal to the great masters of the renowned ages. In portrait he went far beyond them; for he communicated to that description of the art, in which English artists are the most engaged, a variety, a fancy, and a dignity, derived from the higher branches, which even those, who pra


fessed them in a superior manner, did not always preserve, when they delineated individual nature. His portraits remind the spectator of the invention of History, and the amenity of Landscape. In painting portraits, he appeared not to be raised upon that

platform, but to descend to it from a higher sphere. His paintings illustrate his lessons, and his lessons seem to be derived from his paintings.

He possessed the theory as perfectly as the practice of his art. To be such a painter, he was a profound and penetrating philosopher.

In full assurance of foreign and domestic fame, admired by the expert in art and the leared in science, courted by the great, caressed by sovereign powers, and celebrated by distinguished poets, his native humility, modesty, and candour never forsook him, even on surprise or provocation; nor was the least degree of arrogance or assumption

[ocr errors]

visible to the most scrutinizing eye, part of his conduct or discourse.

in any

His talents of every kind, powerful from nature, and not meanly cultivated by letters, his social virtues in all the relations and all the habitudes of life, rendered him the centre of a very great and unparalleled variety of societies, which will be dissipated by his death. He had too much merit not to excite some jealousy, too much innocence to provoke any enmity. The loss of no man of his time can be felt with more sincere, general, and unmixed sorrow." Perhaps the history of eloquence does not afford a more masterly instance of panegyric than this which I have just quoted; at once general and appropriate, compressed and complete ; exhibiting, in a few words, the constituents, operations, and effects of its subject's characteristic excellence.


Not long before Burke was deprived of his friend Sir Joshua Reynolds, another gentleman, who had once been very intimate with

him, endeavoured to renew their intercourse. Mr. Gerrard Hamilton had always retained a very warm regard for Mr. Burke. He fully admitted his reasons for discontinuing their political connection, and uniformly praised the letter that Burke wrote on the occasion, as one of the finest compositions he had ever perused. He venerated the disinterestedness that had resigned the pension. His admiration of the talents of his late friend rose higher and higher as they more fully unfolded themselves, and many of his exhibitions he contemplated with astonishment. When the abilities of Fox, more exclusively parliamentary, raised him to be the leader of Opposition, Hamilton said, In Parliament only would Mr. Fox be the first man; in Parliament only would Mr. Burke NOT be the first man. The discriminating mind of Hamilton distinguished between that combination of cognitive and active powers that fits the possessor for leading men, and those intellectual powers and attainments which fit the possessor for delighting, informing, and instructing between a Themistocles and a So


[ocr errors]

crates, a Demosthenes and a Homer, a Cecil and a Bacon. Hamilton did not enter much into any of the political parties during the American war, nor afterwards. He was, indeed, supposed to have been the author of some, at least of one of the letters of Junius, from the well known circumstance of his having, one morning, very accurately discussed to a nobleman the merits of a letter that he conceived to be that day in the Public Advertiser, which he had not then seen; and that it was found afterwards that the insertion of the letter had been that day neglected, but the next morning appeared in it, and was exactly what he had described. His knowledge of it antecedent to publication proves that he either wrote it himself, or had been informed of it by the author. This inference, however, applies to that letter only; and if he embraced any party, he did not publicly embrace it with ardour. As an impartial observer, he perceived the tendency of measures more accurately than those who were actively engaged. When Mr. Fox brought forward his East-India bill, Hamil

« ZurückWeiter »