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who gave the design of Helmsley ; each of whom seemed to think that Vanbrugh had delivered the art from shackles, and that they might build whatever seemed good in their own eyes.
(From Anecdotes of Painting.)
HAVING despatched the herd of our painters in oil, I reserve to a class by himself that great and original genius, Hogarth ; considering him rather as a writer of comedy with a pencil, than as a painter. If catching the manners and follies of an age living as they rise, if general satire on vices and ridicules, familiarised by strokes of nature, and heightened by wit, and the whole animated by proper and just expressions of the passions, be comedy, Hogarth composed comedies as much as Molière : in his “Marriage à la Mode” there is even an intrigue carried on throughout the piece. He is more true to character than Congreve ; each personage is distinct from the rest, acts in his sphere, and cannot be confounded with any other of the dramatis persona. The alderman's footboy, in the last print of the set I have mentioned, is an ignorant rustic ; and if wit is struck out from the characters in which it is not expected, it is from their acting comformably to their situation and from the mode of their passions, not from their having the wit of fine gentlemen. Thus there is wit in the figure of the alderman, who, when his daughter is expiring in the agonies of poison, wears a face of solicitude, but it is to save her gold ring, which he is drawing gently from her finger. The thought is parallel to Molière's, where the miser puts out one of the candles as he is talking. Molière, inimitable as he has proved, brought a rude theatre to perfection. Hogarth had no model to follow and improve upon. He created his art, and used colours instead of language. His place is between the Italians whom we may consider as epic poets and tragedians, and the Flemish painters, who are as writers of farce and editors of burlesque nature. They are the Tom Browns of the mob. Hogarth resembles Butler, but his subjects are more universal, and amidst all his pleasantry, he observes the true end of comedy, reformation ; there is always a moral in his pictures. Sometimes he rose to tragedy, not in the catastrophe of kings and heroes, but in marking how vice conducts insensibly and incidentally to misery and shame. He warns against encouraging cruelty and idleness in young minds, and discerns how the different vices of the great and the vulgar lead by various paths to the same unhappiness. The fine lady in “Marriage à la Mode,” and Tom Nero in the “ Four Stages of Cruelty,” terminate their story in blood --she occasions the murder of her husband, he assassinates his mistress. How delicate and superior too is his satire, when he intimates in the College of Physicians and Surgeons that preside at a dissection, how the legal habitude of viewing shocking scenes hardens the human mind, and renders it unfeeling. The president maintains the dignity of insensibility over an executed corpse, and considers it but the object of a lecture. In the print of the sleeping judges, this habitual indifference only excites our laughter.
(From the Same.)
CHARACTER OF PITT
PITT had roused us from this ignoble lethargy: he had asserted that our resources were still prodigious-he found them so in the intrepidity of our troops and navies—but he went further, and perhaps too far. He staked our revenues with as little management as he played with the lives of the subjects; and as if we could never have another war to wage, or as if he meant, which was impracticable, that his administration should decide which alone should exist as a nation, Britain or France, he lavished the last treasures of this country with a prodigality beyond example and beyond excuse ; yet even that profusion was not so blameable as his negligence. Ignorant of the whole circle of finance, and consequently averse from corresponding with financiers, a plain set of men who are never to be paid with words instead of figures, he kept aloof from all details, drew magnificent plans and left others to find the magnificent means. Disdaining, too, to descend into the operations of an office which he did not fill, he affected to throw on the treasury the execution of measures which he dictated, but for which he thus held himself not responsible. The conduct was artful, new, and grand ; and to him proved most advantageous. Secluded from all eyes, his orders were received as oracles ; and their success, of conse
quence, was imputed to his inspiration. Misfortunes and miscarriages fell to the account of the more human agents ; corruption and waste were charged on the subordinate priests. They indeed were charmed with this dispensation.
As Mr. Pitt neither granted suits nor received them, Newcastle revelled in a boundless power of appointing agents, commissaries, victuallers, and the whole train of leeches, and even paid his court to Pitt by heaping extravagance on extravagance; for the more money was thrown away, the greater idea Pitt conceived of his system's grandeur. But none flattered this ostentatious prodigality like the Germans. From the King of Prussia and Prince Ferdinand to the lowest victualler in the camp, all made advantage of English easiness and dissipation. As the minister was proud of such pensioners they were not coy in begging his alms. Fox, too, was not wanting to himself during this harvest, to which his office of paymaster opened so commodious an inlet. Depressed, annihilated as a statesman, he sat silent, indemnifying himself by every opportunity of gain which his rival's want of economy threw in his way. The larger and more numerous are subsidies, the more troops are in commission, the more are on service abroad, the ampler means has the paymaster of enriching himself. An unfortunate campaign, or an unpopular peace might shake the minister's establishment; but till this vision of expensive glory should be dissipated, Fox was determined to take no part. But thence, from that inattention on one hand, and rapacity on the other, started up those prodigious private fortunes which we have seen suddenly come forth—and thence we remained with a debt of an hundred and forty millions !
The admirers of Mr. Pitt extol the reverberation he gave to our councils, the despondence he banished, the spirit he infused, the conquests he made, the security he affixed to our trade and plantations, the humiliation of France, the glory of Britain, carried under his administration to a pitch at which it never had arrived —and all this is exactly true. When they add, that all this could not be purchased too dearly, and that there was no option between this conduct and tame submission to the yoke of France
-even this is just in a degree; but a material objection still remains, not depreciating a grain from this bill of merits, which must be gratefully acknowledged by whoever calls himself an Englishman-yet very derogatory from Mr. Pitt's character, as virtually trusted with the revenues, the property of his country.
A few plain words will explain my meaning, and comprehend the force of the question. All this was done—but might have been done for many millions less — the next war will state this objection more fully.
Posterity, this is an impartial picture. I am neii her dazzled by the blaze of the times in which I have lived, nor if there are spots in the sun, do I deny that I have seen them. It is a man I am describing, and one whose greatness will bear to have his blemishes fairly delivered to you-not from a love of censure in me, but of truth; and because it is history I am writing, not romance. I pursue my subject.
(From Memoirs of the Reign of King George II.)
ALPINE SCENERY: THE GRANDE CHARTREUSE
From a Hamlet among the Mountains of Savoy,
28th Sept. 1739, N.S. TO RICHARD WEST, ESQ.
Precipices, mountains, torrents, wolves, rumblings, Salvator Rosa—the pomp of our park and the meekness of our palace ! Here we are, the lonely lords of glorious, desolate prospects. I have kept a sort of resolution which I made, of not writing to you as long as I staid in France: I am now a quarter of an hour out of it, and write to you. Mind, 'tis three months since we heard from you. I begin this letter among the clouds; where I shall finish my neighbour Heaven probably knows : 'tis an odd wish in a mortal letter, to hope not to finish it on this side the atmosphere. You will have a billet tumble to you from the stars when you least think of it; and that I should write it too ! Lord, how potent that sounds ! But I am to undergo many transmigrations before I come to “yours ever.” Yesterday I was a shepherd of Dauphiné : to-day an Alpine savage ; tomorrow a Carthusian monk; and Friday a Swiss Calvinist. I have one quality which I find remains with me in all worlds and in all æthers; I brought it with me from your world, and am admired for it in this---'tis my esteem for you: this is a common thought among you, and you will laugh at it, but it is new here, as new to remember one's friends in the world one has left, as for you to remember those you have lost.
Aix in Savoy, 30th Sept. We are this minute come in here, and here's an awkward Abbé this minute come in to us. I asked him if he would sit down. Oui, oui, oui. He has ordered us a radish soup for supper, and has brought a chess-board to play with Mr. Conway. I have left 'em in the act, and am set down to write to you. Did you ever see anything like the prospect we saw yesterday ? I never did. We rode three leagues to see the Grande Chartreuse ; expected bad roads and the finest convent in the kingdom. We were disappointed pro and con. The building is large and plain, and has nothing remarkable but its primitive simplicity ; they entertained us in the neatest manner, with eggs, pickled salmon, dried fish, conserves, cheese, butter, grapes, and figs, and pressed us mightily to lie there. We tumbled into the hands of a laybrother, who unluckily having charge of the meal and bran showed us little besides. They desired us to set down our names in the list of strangers, where, among others, we found two mottoes of our countrymen, for whose stupidity and brutality we blushed. The first was of Sir J-- D--, who had wrote down the first stanza of Justum et tenacem altering the last line to Mente quatit Carthusiana. The second was of one D-M, Cælum ipsum petimus stultitiâ ; et hic ventri indico bellum. The Goth ! --But the road, West, the road! winding round a prodigious mountain, and surrounded with others, all shagged with hanging woods, obscured with pines, or lost in clouds! Below, a torrent breaking through cliffs, and tumbling through fragments of rocks ! Sheets of cascades forcing their silver speed down channelled precipices, and hasting into the roughened river at the bottom ! Now and then an old foot-bridge, with a broken rail, a leaning cross, a cottage, or the ruin of an hermitage ! This sounds too bombast and too romantic to one that has not seen it, too cold for one that has. If I could send you my letter post between two lovely tempests that echoed each other's wrath, you might have some idea of this noble roaring scene, as you were reading it. Almost on the summit, upon a fine verdure, but without any prospect, stands the Chartreuse. We staid there two hours, rode back through this charming picture, wished for a painter, wished to be poets! Need I tell you we wished for you ? Good night!