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faculties of his creatures to their duties, has also appointed physical bounds to their mental powers, and that (putting education, and household cares, and personal admiration out of the consideration altogether) nature does not more effectually prohibit a woman from fighting like Achilles, than from composing an Iliad—from carrying the gates of Gaza, than from writing a Samson Agonistes. But if they are debarred from the highest flights, they are also preserved from the heavier falls of masculine genius; irregularity of mind and eccentricity of conduct, though not unobserved in female authors, seem to be neither so frequent nor so extravagant as in the other sex; and we think it has been generally observed, that those ladies who have approached most nearly to the abilities of really great men have also been remarked for having more of masculine, and therefore of irregular and eccentric character than the more amiable and fortunate, but less intellectually distinguished portion of the sex. We are far from dreaming that the cleverest women are those who come before the public as authors, but the flagrant omission of Mr. Maddeu's tables has turned our attention to the longevity of many of the female authors of the last century. The following is a list of some of the most celebrated:—
Name. Age. N'me. Age.
Lady Russell 87 Mrs. Chapone 75
Mrs. Rowe 63 Mrs. Lennox 84
Lady M. W. Montague . . 73 Mrs. Trimmer 69
Mrs. Centlivre .... 44 Mrs. Hamilton 65
Lady Hervey 70 Mrs. Radcliffe 60
Lady Suffolk 79 Mrs. Barbauld 83
Mrs. Sheridan 47 Mrs. Delany 93
Mrs. Cowley 66 Mrs. Inchbald 68
Mrs. Macaulay 53 Mrs. Piozzi 80
Mrs. Montagu 81 Mrs. Hannah More ... 88
Some of these ladies, it is true, became authors involuntarily by the publication of their private letters, but, on the whole, we believe it will be found that eminent literary ladies are longlived; perhaps from a reason similar to that which we assigned for the apparent longevity of a certain class of male authors,—namely, that the works on which their fame rests are generally the production of matured age; in the case of letters, they are the result of the whole life. It is also remarkable, that, except Lady Mary and Mrs. Centlivre, the ladies in the preceding list were all of immaculate private character—examples to their sex in their conduct, as in their writings. Truth, however, obliges us to add, that in general their personal charms were not equal to their mental accomplishments—our two exceptions as to conduct, Lady Mary and Mrs. Centlivre, were handsome. So had been Mrs. Piozzi, whose character partook a little of the ' infirmities of genius;' and so also was Mrs. Inchbald, who—though making so perilous an outset as running away in her teens—becoming a strolling player —marrying, for protection rather than liking, a man much her senior—and being, by her profession and the manners of the time, exposed to the solicitations and temptations which her engaging talents and extraordinary beauty drew round—yet lived and died a remarkable, and—we might almost, in such circumstances, say —singular, example of the most undeviating rectitude, and even regularity of conduct!
We now close this article, feeling that, in endeavouring to follow so vague and uncertain a guide, we have been obliged to treat the subject in a desultory and superficial manner; but we wish that we may have said enough to call the attention of some more acute and better regulated mind to a topic which is certainly one of great curiosity and interest, and which might perhaps be of some more solid utility. We do not conceal from ourselves that it is a very difficult one. If—as is certainly the case in some splendidly unhappy instances, and probably in many others not so immediately conspicuous—the taint of hereditary scrofula has been accompanied by a peculiar felicity of wit, force of imagination, and eccentricity of conduct, it would require a most accurate and, in some respects, painful investigation into the life, not only of the prominent figure, but of his connexions; and a most sagacious and discriminating examination of the whole course of the person's life ; which, from the delicacy of the higher orders and the obscurity of the lower, it might be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to trace satisfactorily. We will give an instance, which we believe may be now noticed without offence to any living person. Foote's talents are generally admitted, though we think not fully appreciated—for we believe him to be, after Moliere (and not longo intervallo), the greatest master of comic humour that ever lived*—and he acted incomparably what he wrote inimitably. But it is also unfortunately well known of him, that he was in youth afflicted with some symptoms of scrofula—was eccentric in his personal habits—very irregular in his conduct—and that the last years of his life were clouded with imputations against his moral character, of the deepest die: and so, for many years, the
• It was rumoured a few years ago that Mr. Theodora Hook had undertaken an edition of Foot*; but we have not heard anything of the design lately. We sincerely hope, however, that it has not been finally laid aside. Such a work is greatly wanted —the materials are abundant, and accessible now, but could hardly be collected with success after the lapse of the present generation; and our generation affords no one who possesses so large a portion of Foote's spirit as the author of' Sayings aud Doings,' * Maxwell,' and last, perhaps beat of all, the 'Parson's Daughter.'
matter matter rested. At last, it was related in Boswell's Tour to the Hebrides (1786), that Cooke, the translator of Hesiod, was so strange a person as to have introduced Foote to a club in the following singular manner :—' This is the nephew of the gentleman who was lately hung in chains for murdering his brother.' But this loo passed off without inquiry or observation: at last, Mr. Croker, in editing Boswell, and explaining, as he has so often done, obscure passages, observed (1830) upon this,— 'Mr. Foote's mother was the sister of Sir J. Dineley Gooddere,* baronet, and of Captain Gooddere, who commanded his Majesty's ship Ruby; on board which, when lying in King's Road, Bristol, in January, 1741, the latter caused his brother to be forcibly carried, and there barbarously murdered. Captain Gooddere was, with two accomplices, executed for this offence in the April following. The circumstances of the case, and some other facts connected with this family, led to an opinion that Captain Gooddere was insane; and some unhappy circumstances in Foote's own life render it probable that he had not wholly escaped the hereditary irregularity of mind.' —Croker's Boswell, vol. ii., p. 273, and note.
Here then is a clue by which the infirmities and errors of one man of genius might perhaps be traced to hereditary disease. If Mr. Madden had known it, he would no doubt have treated all the circumstances as symptoms of dyspepsia; but a more sagacious thinker would see that this, and many other—not, perhaps, similar but—analogous cases, with which almost every man's experience and recollection can furnish him, would open a vast and curious, and not perhaps unimportant, field of medical and moral inquiry.
We conclude with repeating—in order to guard ourselves against misunderstanding or misrepresentation—that although we must admit that many men of genius have afforded cause to suspect that great wit is—as a great wit said—nearly allied to madness, and that we have often seen it connected with other bodily infirmities, and particularly scrofula, we do not venture to suggest that this is always or even generally the case; on the contrary, we repeat, that some of the greatest geniuses that ever adorned the world, also improved it by the purest examples of moral and mental rectitude—mens sana in cor pore sanol—and it must never be forgotten that if the errors of genius appear more prominent than those of other men, it is because every error of genius is noted and recorded, while those of inferior minds, which probably exist in a still greater proportion, are lost in their obscurity. Of any of the ten thousand horses that are ridden
* So Mr. Croker spells the name. We find it spelled Goodere and Goodyere in the Baronetcies.
by by the visiters to Epsom Downs on the day of the Derby, who but the individual owner observes the defects either of shape or temper? but if one of (he racers knocks up, or bolts, or sulks, it is known to all the world, lowers immediately his own reputation, and perhaps infects that of his progeny.
Art. III.—Lives of (he most eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Aichifecls. By Allau Cunningham. In 6 vols. 12mo. London. 1830—1333.
have had occasion to allude to this interesting work more than once during its progress. It is now brought to a close, and furnishes, when added to Lord Orford's Anecdotes, a complete and compendious history of English art, from its commencement down to the times in which we live. The author has of course availed himself of the elder and more detailed lives of the principal masters whom he celebrates; but he brings from sources of his own much valuable information. In the occasional remarks into which he is naturally led, there is in general a spirit of good sense, candour, and good-nature, which we do not admire the less, because from his other writings we were prepared to expect it; and his criticisms on art derive additional consequence from his early and long connexion with one of the most popular and original of our living sculptors.
It is not in every critical digression, however, that we can recognise the opinion of Mr. Cunningham himself. The work is, after all, in great part, a compilation. As each artist becomes iu his turn the subject of a memoir, each successively emerges into a relative importance, which is often far more than commensurate with that of his performances. The original biography on the desk of our author, sometimes the work of the artist himself, sometimes tinged with all the partiality of friendship, in other cases, perhaps, with the bitterness of rivalry, still retains these colours in the abridgment; and occasionally the amiable writer sympathizes with the complaints of neglected mediocrity, in a manner not entirely consistent with the more rational admissions expressed iu his comments on the lives of those whose merit has chanced to be universally acknowledged. The analogy between poetry and painting, so often pointed out, is not more visible in any particular than in the irritable vanity of their professors; and the fends of Grub Street itself were for a long time not more implacable than those of our minor academicians. Their biographer, naturally willing to escape the consequences of personal enmity, often leans to the good-natured side, and gives us rather the panegyric of former friendship, than
the the deliberate judgment of an impartial world; while we think he is sometimes but too willing to gratify the 'genus irritabile, whose quarrels and failures he describes, by a tone of asperity against ignorant lords, ladies, and patrons, not altogether just, but peculiarly gratifying to wounded self-complacency, and which the persons thus attacked are not at all likely to retaliate. As a whole, however, the book is an instructive, as well as a highly amusing one; and will, we doubt not, maintain its place in our libraries.
In Italy, the art of painting was indigenous, and may be traced through the various and natural periods of its growth and decline. In England, we had always imported both the art and its professors; and the Reformation had in fact begun, when we first became aware of the witcheries so powerfully subsidiary to popery. The patronage of the church was no longer attainable. That of the court and nobility was often interrupted, and their attention checked by the want of intercourse with the great centre of successful art, which ministered to her abominations. Rome was almost inaccessible to a Protestant of rank, who was desirous of a reputation for orthodoxy, at the orthodox courts of Edward VI. and Elizabeth. Holbein had partially unveiled the charms of the art; the result had been an increasing avidity for portraits, always the style of painting where the art is valued rather for the sake of the subject than for itself. The skill of the artist immortalized the heads of Henry's court and family, with the applause of the monarch himself, who so graciously detached them in succession from the shoulders of their full-length proprietors. With worse representation and better fortune, those of their posterity were consigned to fame by his successors; and as the patronage of the infant art was long confined to the powerful and the opulent, the series of English portiaits is doubly interesting, for it includes, with little exception, the leading characters of our national history. Such was the fate of art till the taste and well-directed liberality of the unhappy Charles I. diffused a more general knowledge of painting, by an extensive collection of good Italian works, and judicious patronage of Rubens and Vandyke. Rubens, during his short residence, left us some valuable historical and allegorical pictures, and Vandyke ennobled the art of portraiture with a truth and spirit of conception that exalt it almost to the rank of history. We scarcely lament, and are not at all surprised, that, in his hands, this branch of art continued to increase in private favour and public estimation. Many of his pieces, merely contemplated as works of art, afford specimens of drawing, colouring, and composition, well worthy the attention of the professional student; while in the dark and lofty dignity of Strafford,