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I ne'er, if I live to the age of Old Parr,
Can fail to remember how stared brother Bill,
They never could trace
Sir Christopher Catalogue saw in my face,
And deluge a fourth with Five Hundred a-year ! The will, though law-beaten, stood firm as a rock,
The probate was properly lodged at the Bank; Transferr'd to my name stood the spleen-moving stock, And 1, in the West, bearded people of rank.
No longer a clerk,
Or lounged in Pall Mall till an hour after dark.
Possess'd of a gig and Five Hundred a-year. Ere long, I began to be bored by a guest,
A strange sort of harpy, who poison'd my feast :
Bar, door-chain, or key,
As brisk as a bailiff in bolted Ennui.
I'm partial to folks of Five Hundred a-year. Meanwhile my three brothers, by prudence and care,
Got onward in life, while I stuck by the wall;
Tom made his impressions
And got half the business at Clerkenwell Sessions. They march'd in the ran, while I lagg'd in the rear,
Condemn'd to Ennui and Five Hundred a-year. Too little encouraged to feel self-assured,
Too dull for retorts, and too timid for taunts;
If e'er 1 entangle
Up steps some Duenna, love's serpent to strangle ; “ Come hither! dont talk to that fellow, my dear,
His income is only Five Hundred a-year.” Without tact or talents to get into ton,
No calling to stick to, no trade to pursue :
Could I row a life-boat,
Or serve in a silversmith's shop, and devote
WHY DO WE LOVE?
That limps along in life's decline,
As full of idle thoughts as minem
His own unequallid pure romance ;
First thrills at lovely woman's glance :
And think its scenes of love evince
Than any tale before, or since.
At midnight penn'd in classic shades ;
-Of maids more fair than living maids. Of whispers in a willing ear,
Of kisses on a blushing cheek ;
For modern lips to give, or speak.)
Of passion slighted or betray'd;
And buds that blossom'd but to fade.
-Elastic form, and noble brow;
And left them what we see them now !
So very light and frail a thing ?
For ever on Time's restless wing?
And all the lips that talk of bliss,
Hereafter-only come to this?
If we at length must lose them thus ?
Ere long must fade away from us?
From all the world, and still recur
Feel far from joy, when far from her-
From youth to age, in bliss or pain,
-Why do we love-if love le vain ?
TÁBLE TALK.NO. VIII.
On the Old Age of Artists. Mr. Nollekens died the other day at the age of eighty, and left 240,000 pounds behind him, and the name of one of our best English sculptors. There was a great scramble among the legatees, a codicil to a will with large bequests unsigned, and that last triumph of the dead or dying over those who survive-hopes raised and defeated without a possibility of retaliation, or the smallest use in complaint. The king was at first said to be left residuary legatee. This would have been a fine instance of romantic and gratuitous homage to Majesty, in a man who all his life-time could never be made to comprehend the abstract idea of the distinction of ranks or even
persons. He would go up to the Duke of York, or Prince of Wales (in spite of warning), take them familiarly by the button like common acquaintance, ask them how their father did ; and express pleasure at hearing he was well, saying, “ when he was gone, we should never get such another." He once, when the old king was sitting to him for his bust, fairly stuck a pair of compasses into his nose to measure the distance from the upper lip to the forehead, as if he had been measuring a block of marble. His late Majesty laughed heartily at this, and was amused to find that there was a person in the world, ignorant of that vast interval which separated him from every other man, Nollekens, with all his loyalty, merely liked the man, and cared nothing about the king (which was one of those mired modes, as Mr. Locke calls them, of which he had no more idea than if he had been one of the cream-coloured horses) -handled him like so much common clay, and had no other notion of the matter, but that it was his business to make the best bust of him he possibly could, and to set about it in the regular way. There was something in this plainness and simplicity that savoured perhaps of the hardness and dryness of his art, and of his own peculiar severity of
He conceived that one man's head differed from another's only as it was a better or worse subject for modelling, that a bad bust was not made into a good one by being stuck upon a pedestal, or by any painting or varnishing, and that by whatever name he was called,
a man's a man for a' that." A sculptor's ideas must, I should guess, be somewhat rigid and inflexible, like the materials in which he works. Besides, Nollekens's style was comparatively hard and edgy. He had as much truth and character, but none of the polished graces or transparent softness of Chantry. He had more of the rough, plain, downright honesty of his art. It seemed to be his character. Mr. Northcote was once complimenting him on his acknowledged superiority
Ay, you made the best busts of any body!" "I don't know about that,” said the other, his eyes (though their orbs were quenched) sıniling with a gleam of smothered delight—“I only know I always tried to make them as like as I could !"
I saw this eminent and singular person one morning in Mr. Northcote's painting-room. He had then been for some time blind, and had been obliged to lay aside the exercise of his profession; but he still took a pleasure in designing groups, and in giving directions to others for executing them. He and Northcote made a remarkable pair. He
sat down on a low stool (from being rather fatigued), rested with both hands on a stick, as if he clung to the solid and tangible, had an habitual twitch in his limbs and motions, as if catching himself in the act of going too far in chiselling a lipor a dimple in a chin ; was bolt-upright, with features hard and square, but finely cut, a hooked nose, thin lips, an indented forehead; and the defect in his sight completed his resemblance to one of his own masterly busts. He seemed, by time and labour, to have wrought himself to stone." Northcote stood by his side—all air and spirit, stooping down to speak to him. The painter was in a loose morning-gown, with his back to the light; his face was like a pale fine piece of colouring; and his eye came out and glanced through the twilight of the past, like an old eagle looking from its eyrie in the clouds. In a moment they had lighted from the top of Mount Cenis in the Vatican
“ As when a vulture on Imaus bred
Flies tow'rds the springs
Of Ganges and Hydaspes, Indian streams," these two fine old men lighted with winged thoughts on the banks of the Tiber, and there bathed and drank of the spirit of their youth. They talked of Titian and Bernini; and Northcote mentioned, that when Roubilliac came back from Rome, after seeing the works of the latter, and went to look at his own in Westminster Abbey, he said — “ By G-d, they looked like tobacco-pipes."
They then recalled a number of anecdotes of Day (a fellow-student of theirs), of Barry and Fuseli. Sir Joshua, and Burke, and Johnson were talked of. The names of these great sons of memory were in the room, and they almost seemed to answer to them—Genius and Fame flung a spell into the air,
“ And by the force of blear illusion,
Had drawn me on to my confusion,” had I not been long ere this siren-proof! It is delightful, though painful, to hear two veterans in art thus talking over the adventures and studies of their youth, when one feels that they are not quite mortal, that they have one imperishable part about them, and that they are conscious, as they approach the farthest verge of humanity in friendly intercourse and tranquil decay, that they have done something that will live after them. The consolations of religion apart, this is perhaps the only salve that takes out the sting of that sore evil, Death ; and by lessening the impatience and alarm at his approach, often tempts him to prolong the term of his delay.
It has been remarked that artists, or at least academicians, live long. It is but a short while ago that Northcote, Nollekens, West, Flaxman, Cosway, and Fuseli were all living at the same time, in good health and spirits, without any diminution of faculties, all of them having long passed their grand climacteric, and attained to the highest reputation in their several departments. From these striking examples, the diploma of a Royal Academician seems to be a grant of a longer lease of life, among its other advantages. In fact, it is tantamount to the conferring a certain reputation in his profession and a competence on any man: and thus supplies the wants of the body and sets his inind at ease. Artists in general, (poor devils !) I am afraid, are not a long-lived race.
They break up commonly about forty, their spirits giving way with the disappointment of their hopes of excellence, or the want
of encouragement for that which they have attained, their plans disconcerted, and their affairs irretrievable ; and in this state of mortification and embarrassment (more or less prolonged and aggravated) they are either starved or else drink themselves to death. But your Academician is quite a different sort of person. He“ bears a charmed life, that must not yield" to duns, or critics, or patrons. He is free of Parnassus, and claims all the immunities of fame in his life-time. He has but to paint (as the sun has but to shine), to baffle envious maligners. He has but to send his pictures to the Exhibition at Somerset-House, in order to have them hung up: he has but to dine once a year with the Academy, the Nobility, the Cabinet-Minister, and the Members of the Royal Family, in order not to want a dinner all the rest of the year. Shall hunger come near the man that has feasted with princes ?—shall a bailiff tap the shoulder on which a Marquis has familiarly leaned, that has been dubbed with knighthood ? No, even the fell Serjeant Death stands as it were aloof, and he enjoys a kind of premature immortality in recorded honours and endless labours. Oh! what golden hours are his ! In the short days of winter he husbands time; the long evenings of summer still find him employed! He paints on, and takes no thought for to-morrow. All is right in that respect. His bills are regularly paid, his drafts are duly honoured. He has exercise for his body, employment for his mind in his profession, and without ever stirring out of his painting-room. He studies as much of other things as he pleases. He goes into the best company, or talks with his sitters--attends at the Academy Meetings, and enters into their intrigues and cabals, or stays at home, and enjoys the otium cum dignitate. If he is fond of reputation, Fame watches him at work, and weaves a woof, like Iris, over his head-if he is fond of money, Plutus digs a mine under his feet. Whatever he touches becomes gold. He is paid half-price before he begins ; and commissions pour in upon commissions. His portraits are like, and his historical pieces fine : for to question the talents or success of a Royal Academician is to betray your own want of taste. Or if his pictures are not quite approved, he is an agreeable man, and converses well. Or he is a person of elegant accomplishments, dresses well, and is an ornament to a private circle. A man is not an Academician for nothing. “ His life spins round on its soft axle;" and in a round of satisfied desires and pleasing avocations, without any of the wear and tear of thought or business, there seems no reason why it should not run smoothly on to its last sand !
Of all the Academicians, the painters, or persons I have ever known, Mr. Northcote is the most to my taste. It
be said of him truly, Age cannot wither, nor custom stale
His infinite variety." Indeed, it is not possible he should become tedious, since, even if he repeats the same thing, it appears quite new from his manner, that breathes new life into it, and from his eye, that is as fresh as the morning. How you hate any one who tells the same story or anticipates a remark of his-it seems so coarse and vulgar, so dry and inanimate! There is something like injustice in this preference—but no! it is a tri