« FöregåendeFortsätt »
(now Baron) Smith, written soon afterwards, pretty plainly evinces
“Upon this principle, as far as my little sphere extends, I shall act, because I think the time requires it. The great disorder of this country (Ireland) seems to me to consist in the complication of its politics; and I observe a very dangerous fluctuation and unsteadiness in the opinions and conduct of most of its public men.
In these circumstances it seems to me to be every man's duty to give a determination to his own principles and conduct, which if every man does, some order will soon rise out of the present chaos. For one I mean to do so; which induces me the rather to desire your favourable interpretation, if I cannot obtain your active co-operation.”
In the spring of the year (23rd February) died Sir Joshua Reynolds, one of the most valued friends of the subject of this memoir, bequeathing him, in return for the trouble of executorship, the sum of 2,000l. and also cancelling a bond for the same amount. This proof of regard was a legacy paid to 35 years of close and uninterrupted intimacy, in which most of their friendships, many of their sentiments and feelings were the same. A rumour has pretty generally prevailed that the President was indebted to the pen of Mr. Burke for the substance of his celebrated Lectures on Painting; but of this there is no proof, not even that he corrected them, though this common act of friendship is not improbable. There is, however, little doubt of the artist having profited much by the society, and by those unpremeditated, yet often brilliant effusions of an original and vigorous mind, frequently thrown out by the orator upon art as well as upon general subjects, traces of which have been found in the lectures by some of those staunch literary pointers whom nothing in the shape of coincidence escapes, though after all, they do not detract, in any material degree, from the painter's merit. “ What the illustrious Scipio was to Lelius,” says Mr. Malone, “the all-knowing and all-accomplished Burke was to Reynolds.” A passage in one of Barry's letters informs us of the uses to which an able artist in the higher walk of his profession could put the overflowings of such an intellect, scattered around as they were with a profusion which rendered the recollection of his own offspring scarcely probable: but it is only a superior mind perhaps that can make such use of another superior mind.- Writing from Rome he says—“ It is impossible to describe to you what an advantage I had in the acquaintance of Mr. Burke; it was a preparative, and facilitated my relish for the beautiful things of the arts here: and I will affirm, from experience, that one gentleman of a literary turn and delicate feelings for the ideal, poetical, and expressive parts of the art, is likely to be of the greatest service to a young artist.” Mr. Burke first suggested to Sir Joshua the wellknown picture of Ugolino; while in return he entertained so favourable an opinion of the painter's judgment and discrimination as a philosopher as to submit to him in manuscript the Reflections on the Revolution in France, to which he gave the highest praise. Mr. Burke directed the imposing ceremonial of his friend's funeral; but
when at the conclusion of the day he attempted to return thanks in the council-room in the name of the family, to the Members of the Royal Academy for the attention shown to the remains of their late President, his feelings found vent only in tears, for, unable to utter a word, he was obliged to give up the attempt after several fruitless efforts.*
A character of the deceased, drawn up for the newspapers a few hours after his death, was immediately attributed to Mr. Burke, and has been universally admired for that felicity of thought and elegance of diction rarely equalled by our finest writers, on their finest subjects, and which, on a topic where he felt any interest, seems ever to have guided his pen.-“ It is,” says the learned Seward, “ the eulogium of Parrhasius pronounced by Pericles—it is the eulogium of the greatest painter by the most consummate orator of his time.”
Even a virulent enemy terms it “as fine a portrait as Reynolds ever painted.”
“ His illness was long, but borne with a mild and cheerful fortitude, without the least mixture of
any thing irritable or querulous, agreeably to the placid and even tenor of his whole life. He had, from the beginning of his malady, a distinct view of his dis
* He became guardian to Miss Palmer, Sir Joshua's niece and heiress, who afterwards was Marchioness of Thomond. When the marriage articles were brought to be signed, Mr. Burke addressed her in an elegant and impressive speech applicable to her intended change of condition, which, however, agitated her so much as to render her utterly incapable of holding the pen. Every effort was made to calm her in order to procure the signature, but in vain ; all his soothing powers were exerted endearingly and perseveringly without effect; and the party separated for the time unable to accomplish the purpose of their meeting.
solution; 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 to his family had indeed well deserved.
“ Sir Joshua Reynolds was, 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 beyond them; for he communicated to that department 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 professed 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 of the amenity of landscape. In painting portraits he appears 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 have been 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 penetratingphilosopher.
“ In full happiness of foreign and domestic fame, admired by the expert in art and by the learned 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 visible to the most scrutinizing eye in any part of his conduct or discourse.
“ His talents of every kind-powerful from nature, and not meanly cultivated by letters--his social virtues in all the relations and in all the habi. tudes of life, rendered him the centre of a very great and unparalleled variety of agreeable societies, which will be dissipated by his death. He had too much merit not to provoke 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.
66 Hail! and farewell !” The legacy bequeathed by Sir Joshua was not a solitary instance of the regard entertained for Mr. Burke by his friends. Dr. Brocklesby accidentally hearing he was pressed by some temporary difficulty, delicately observed that as a slight token of remembrance he had put down his name in his will for 10001. but on considering there would be more pleasure in becoming his own executor, he had resolved to anticipate time and to pay the money immediately; and it was paid accordingly.
The question of the Slave Trade being discussed in April, Mr. Burke forwarded to Mr. Dundas a “Sketch of a Negro Code,” which he had drawn up in 1780, when, as he observes, the abolition, however much to be desired, seeming altogether chimerical on account of the strong party opposed to it, he aimed at carrying into effect the next best remedies