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President of the Royal Academy, in room of Mr West, who had died during his absence. We are not inclined to rate very highly the occasional addresses or lectures which he delivered in the character of President; they indicate rather plain and practical good sense, than any originality of view or expression; in this respect contrasting poorly with those either of Reynolds, Opie, Barry, or Fuseli. Fuseli was in fact at that time in the possession of the professorial chair; and Sir Thomas probably thought that mere annual addresses were not the proper vehicle for conveying any systematic views of the art.
Though we have said we have no intention of describing the individual productions of his pencil, the circumstances attending the execution of his beautiful picture of the children of Mr Calmady are so interesting, that we are sure we shall confer a favour on our readers by the following extract.-Mr Lewis, the engraver, had suggested to Mrs Calmady that the children would form a beautiful group, and that he was certain that if Sir Thomas saw them, he would be glad to paint them on any terms.
In July 1823, Sir Thomas saw the children. The terms, upon his card on his mantel-piece, descended from six hundred guineas to one hundred and fifty, which was the price of the smallest head size. Having two in one frame, increased the price by two-thirds, and thus the regular charge for the portraits would have been two hundred and fifty guineas.
Sir Thomas, captivated by the loveliness of the children, and sympathizing with the feelings of the mother, asked only two hundred guineas. I suppose," says Mrs Calmady, "I must still have looked despairingly, for he immediately added, without my saying a word, Well, we must say one hundred and fifty pounds, for merely the two little heads in a circle, and some sky-and finish it at once.'
Sir Thomas commenced his task the next morning at half-past nine; and never did artist proceed with more increasing zeal and pleasure.
Upon the mother's expressing her delight at the chalk drawing, as soon as the two heads were sketched in, he replied, "that he would devote that day to doing a little more to it, and would beg her acceptance of it, as he would begin another."
The public, in one sense, must be glad at this liberality; for a more free, masterly, and exquisitely beautiful sketch, was scarcely ever made. It may be doubted, however, whether, upon the whole, this circumstance is to be rejoiced in, for the sketch gave promise of even a more beautiful piece than that which he afterwards completed. Both of the faces were full, and that of the child now in profile was even more beautiful than the side face; and both were rich and lovely, and more soft and delicate in the sketch than in the finished picture.
During the progress of the painting, Sir Thomas continually kept saying, that "it would be the best piece of the kind he had ever paint
ed;" and not only would he detain the children many hours, with their father or mother, keeping them in good humour by reading stories to them, or otherwise amusing them, but on several occasions he detained them to dinner, that he might get another sitting that day. Mrs Calmady on one occasion, on her return to his house, after driving home for an hour to attend to her infant, found Sir Thomas, with the child on his knee, feeding it with mashed potatoes and mutton chops, whilst he was coaxing and caressing the other, who was fed by the servant. As frequently as he kept the children for the day, he would always feed them himself, and play with them with the simplicity of genuine fondness and delight; and when food and sport had recruited them, they were again placed in the chair, and the business of the portrait proceeded.
At one sitting, he was interrupted by the arrival of a packet from the King of Denmark, which he opened and read to Mr and Mrs Calmady. It contained his election, in French, to the rank of Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Denmark, and the King's letter was signed, "votre affectioné, Christian Frederick." Reading the flattering compliments paid to him by the King, Sir Thomas smiled and said, "The fact is, they have heard I am painting this picture.'
The children caught his amiable humour, and played with him as with la bonne nourice; and at one long sitting, the little cherub, with her fat rosy cheeks, relieved her own ennui, and supplied him with a fund of laughter, by her nursery tales of "Dame Wiggins," and "Field Mice, and Raspberry Cream."
Sir Joshua's delight at the gambols of children was equally in accordance with his amiable manners and kind heart; and to this we owe his exquisite paintings of infants and children, some of which may survive his best historical or fancy pictures.
At one sitting, after Sir Thomas Lawrence had had the shoe of little Emily Calmady often taken off, and had attempted to catch her playful attitudes and expressions, he could not help exclaiming, "How disheartening it is, when we have nature before us, to see how far-with our best efforts and all our study-how very far short we fall of her!"'-(II. pp. 336-40.)
When the painting was finished, Sir Thomas said, 'This is my best picture. I have no hesitation in saying so-my best picture of the kind quite-one of the few I should wish hereafter to be known by.'
Thus, admired and esteemed by his friends, and at the head of art in his own country, increasing, if that were possible, in popularity, apparently in possession of good health, and flattering himself, as he told a friend about this time, that from the regularity of his living he might attain old age, the news of his death, in January 1830, produced a most unexpected and deep sensation in the public mind. His favourite sister had been ill for some time; and he had been anxiously endeavouring to
make arrangements to leave town to visit her.
'I am grieved
to the soul,' he writes, December 17, 1829, that urgent 'circumstances keep me at this time from the comfort of seeing 'you; but in the next month I will certainly break away from all engagements to be with you.' About a week afterwards he writes, I have sacredly pledged myself to be with you, and to that all circumstances shall bend.' He wrote again -and for the last time-January 6th, 1830, I meant, my dearest Ann, to be with you by dinner time to-morrow; I have made exertions to do so, but it may not, cannot be ! 'you must be content to see me to a late simple dinner on Friday.' But the late simple dinner' on Friday, among those he loved so deeply, with whom he longed so eagerly to be, he was not destined to enjoy. Pressing business detained him in town that day; on Saturday he was seized with a violent attack in the stomach, with great pain and difficulty of breathing, and on the following Thursday he was no more.
To the few observations we have made on Sir Thomas's professional character, let us add a word or two on his nature as a man. Kindness, modesty, charity, regard for the feelings of others, seem to have been born with him. No man bore his faculties more meekly, or stood less upon his unrivalled reputation. Of his brother artists he invariably spoke with the truest feeling of their respective excellencies, and the liveliest desire to do justice to them. To rising merit he was a constant and unassuming patron; and, conscious as he must have been of his own anxiety to promote the welfare of his brother artists, he might well feel grieved to discover how vain had been all his efforts to escape the attacks of envy. Of his quiet and extensive charities the present work enumerates many instances. The chief defects in his character were a want of order and method in money matters, which involved him in frequent embarrassments, and exposed him, though unjustly, to the accusation of having injured himself by gaming. This he indignantly denies, in a letter addressed to one of his old and constant friends, Miss Lee: I have neither been extravagant nor pro'fligate in the use of money; neither gaming, horses, curricle, 'expensive entertainments, nor secret sources of ruin, from vulgar licentiousness, have swept it from me. I am in every thing, but the effects of utter carelessness about money, the same 'being I was at Bath. The same delight in pure and simple 'pleasures, the same disdain of low enjoyments, the same relish 'for whatever is grand, however above me, the same admiration of what is beautiful in character, the same enthusiasm for what is exquisite in the productions, or generous in the passions
of the mind. I have met with duplicity, which I never practised, (for this is far removed from inconstancy of pur'pose,) and it has not changed my confidence in human nature, or my firm belief, that the good of it infinitely overbalances the 'bad. In moments of irritation, I may have held other language; but it has been the errata of the heart, and this is the perfect book, which I could offer, were my being now to ' end.'
Considering the exceedingly defective nature of his education, (for he was removed from school when only eight years old,) the accomplishments and attainments of Sir Thomas, in general literature, were remarkable. With English literature, and particularly poetry, he was perfectly acquainted. His recitation is described as exquisitely beautiful; and though the critical observations, which are occasionally interspersed through his correspondence, do not possess any high character of originality, their truth and delicacy will be generally admitted. In conversation, he was graceful, full of matter,-blending with all he said or did the gentlest and easiest gaiety. With at least as much justice might it be said of him, as of Reynolds, that he was formed to improve us in every way;
His pencil our faces, his manners our heart;'
and we trust that the principle of generous emulation-that feeling of rivalry without envy, which it was his anxious study to infuse into the practice of British art, and without which Academies are injurious rather than useful to the progress of painting-will long survive the amiable and accomplished artist, by whom, more than by any of his predecessors, it was advocated and practically exemplified.
ART. IX.-The Legality of the present Academical System of the University of Oxford, asserted against the new Calumnies of the Edinburgh Review. By A MEMBER OF CONVOCATION. 8vo. Oxford: 1831.
IN a recent Number we took occasion to signalize one of the most remarkable abuses upon record. We allude to our article on the English Universities. Even in this country, hitherto the paradise of jobs, the lawless usurpation of which these venerable establishments have been the victims, from the magnitude of the evil, and the whole character of the circumstances under which it was consummated, stands pre-eminent and alone. With more immediate reference to Oxford, it is
distinguished, at once, for the extent to which the most important interests of the public have been sacrificed to private advantage, for the unhallowed disregard, in its accomplishment, of every moral and religious bond,-for the sacred character of the agents through whom the unholy treason was perpetrated,—for the systematic perjury it has naturalized in this great seminary for religious education,-for the apathy with which the injustice has been tolerated by the State, the impiety by the Church,* -nay, even for the unacquaintance, so universally manifested, with so flagrant a corruption. The history of the University of Oxford demonstrates by a memorable example-that bodies of men will unscrupulously carry through, what individuals would blush even to attempt; and that the clerical profession, the obligation of a trust, the sanctity of oaths, afford no security for the integrity of functionaries, able with impunity to violate their public duty, and with a private interest in its violation.
In being the first to denounce the illegality of the state of this great national school, and, in particular, to expose the heads of the Collegial interest as those by whom, and for whose ends, this calamitous revolution was effected, we were profoundly conscious of the gravity of the charge, and of the responsibility we incurred in making it. Nothing, indeed, could have enga ged us in the cause, but the firmest conviction of the punctual accuracy of our statement,-with the strong, but disinterested, wish to co-operate in restoring this noble University to its natural pre-eminence, by relieving it from the vampire oppression under which it has pined so long in almost lifeless exhaustion.
But though without anxiety about attack, we should certainly have been surprised had there been no attempt at refutation. It is the remark of Hobbes, that if this proposition-the two 'angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles-had been 'opposed to the advantage of those in authority, it would long ago have been controverted or suppressed.' The opinions of men in general are only the lackeys of their interest; and with so many so deeply interested in its support, the present profit
*The Archbishop of Canterbury possesses, jure metropolitico, to say nothing of the inferior diocesans, the right of ordinary visitation of the two Universities, in all matters of heresy, schism, and, in general, of religious concernment. English Bishops have been always antireformers; and in the present instance they may have closed their eyes on its perjury, by finding that the illegal system, in bestowing on the College Fellows the monopoly of education, bestowed it exclusively on the Church. Before this usurpation the clergy only had their share of the University.