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MEMOIR OF SIR JOHN FLEMING LEICESTER, BART.
By WILLIAM CABEY, Esq. H. M. R.L.I.
(Continued from page 3.) The gratitude with which society Sir John Fleming Leicester is honours those who have been instru. descended, by the paternal and mamental in advancing the publicinte ternal line, from ancient and honorrests or the character of their coun- able families in England and Iretry, and which has been, in all ages, land; one of his ancestors, Sir spontaneously offered as a debt of Nicholas Leycester, knight, was justice to the individual, is also pro- possessed of the estates of Nether ductive of benefit to the community: Tabley, in Cheshire, in the reign of The honour and applause deservedly Edward the first, and was appointed bestowed upon one inspires mauy to the important office of Lord with a generous emulation to follow Keeper of Chester by that monarch. his commendable example, and to Sir Peter Leycester, baronet, a desobtain similar distinction by simi- cendant of Sir Nicholas, and great lar merit. The importance of this great grandfather of the present truth is obvious. Although the baronet, in 1642, married Elizabeth Baronet, who is the subject of the a daughter of Gilbert Lord Gerard, present memoir, has long been dis- of Gerard's Bromley, by Eleanor tinguished for his taste and munifi- : sole beiress of Thomas Dutton, of cence; and though the periodical pub-Dutton in Staffordshire. He was lications, in every part of the British also related, by marriage, to the empire, have, for many years, borne family of Lord Byron, in Nottingample testimony to his public-spirited hamshire; andin Sir
PeterLeycester's efforts to promote the encouragement celebrated work on the Antiquities of British genius ; the subject is of England and Ireland, with partistill as eagerly coveted by artists and cular remarks concerning Cheshire, amateurs as if it had been yet un... published in 1673, he has given a touched by any writer. This lively very lively description of Lady curiosity is a Jaudable tribute to Eleanor Byron, one of Sir John's worth; but, in all such cases, it im- ancestors. A fine portrait of that poses an extreme difficulty on the lady, painted by Sir Peter Lely, is latest writer. If memoirs of a cele- now among the beauties in the royal brated character were called for by palace at Hampton Court, and a public desire, a thousand times, he duplicate of that picture, by the who last takes up the pen, is bound same master, is in the family colto adhere to the truth, and can do lection at Tabley House. little more than repeat the same Sir John's father, Sir Peter Byrne, facts, with the laborious task of baronet, was a native of the Sister endeavouring to clothe them in some Kingdom, of the very ancient and little variety of language, wherever honourable family of the Byrnes, the circumstances admit of a change. a distinguished branch of which, But literary men know that this the Byrnes of Cabinteely, is at preresource is not in
instance sent possessed of large estates near practicable. There are few greater Dupleary in the county of Dublin. difficulties in writing, than that of Sir Peter Byrne, on his marriage being obliged to be like and unlike with the sole heiress of the Leicester the same narrative; that is, to corres- estates at Tabley, adopted the name pond with it in substance without of Leicester, by an act of Parliament. any verbal similarity, Although à That baronet had a love for the Fine painter may labour to give an air of Arts, and patronised Wilson and novelty to a portrait, he cannot Barret. There are two landscapes, alter the complexion or the outline of one a View of Tabley by the former, the features ; and, if his performance and one of Beeston" Castle, by the be like the living original, it must latter, both painted under Sir Peter's bear a direct resemblance to every hospitable roof, and now in the galtrue portrait of the same individual. lery; he also erected that splendid
monument of his taste and liberality, antiquarian researches, was there the present Tabley House, within also, indulging in all the classical view of the venerable family man- delights of that capital. A simision, and about two miles from larity in their taste produced an Kpåtsford.
acquaintance between the two BaroSir John was born at this heredi- nets. Their pursuits led them into tary seat, and lie derives his second the same paths of pleasure and study, christian name from the ancient and they visited, together, the emifamily of the Flemings, at Rydell, nent painters, sculptors, and mustin Westmorland, to whom he is re- cal performers ; drew in company lated by the maternal line. During from the same picturesque ruins and his preparatory course of school landscapes in that vicinity, and exeducation he discovered talents for amined all that was worthy of addrawing, and his father procured miration in the eternal city, with him, in succession, the instructions the benefit of mutual observation of an artist named Marras, of Tho- and comparison. After leaving mas Vivares, the admirable land- Rome they travelled some time toscape engraver, and, finally, of Paul gether, and thus cemented a friend. Sandby, then considered the first ship which has subsisted, with anlandscape painter in water colours impaired kindness, to the present in this country. But the young hour. amateur quitted the manner of these It was then much more customary masters to study nature, and formed than it is now for Englishmen of a light, pleasing style of draw. rank to visit the Continent with a ing views with the pen and ink, belief, that the climate of England brushed over with a broad tint of disqualified their countrymen from Indian ink and bistre.' In due sea- the attainment of excellence in paintson he was sent to the University, ing and sculpture. This senseless and obtained his degree of Master prejudice was rendered more inveteof Arts, in Trinity College, Cam- rate by travel among foreigners, bride.
who were bred up in a low opinion · Sir John had the misfortune, of English genius. On their return when very young, to lose his father; home, the Anglo-Italians deemed it but when of age, he made the tour necessary to prove their cultivated of France, Flanders, Switzerland, taste and foreign acquirements by Italy, and Spain with all the ad- expressing an open content for vantages of rank and fortune, to British artists, and their works. introduce him in the courtly circles, Not only men of weak understandand cultivate his prevailiug passion ing were conspicuous for this unfor masic and painting. He pos- worthy conduct, but gentlemen, in sessed from natúre a good ear, and every other view of superior abilities, by attending the Opera in Italy, he suffered their minds to be infected acquired a pure taste for the delica- with this degrading anti-national cies of composition ; that true sen- spirit: as if the sending a goose sibility, which never fails to discri- from England to Naples, for a few minate between the genuine expres- weeks, could change its species, and sion of passion and sentiment and return it a nightingale to London ! the heartless bravura of execution, they imagined that a sea voyage of and empty flourish of sound without a few hours, and a post-haste jourfeeling. He freely mingled in the ney of purblind curiosity through fashionable gaieties of high life, but Italy, could convert an ignorant the chef d'oeuvres of the pericil and man, who had never before given chisel, and the beauties of architec. up a hour to the study, into a conture, drew his diligent attention, and noisseur and an arbiter in the arts. lie remained sufficiently long in the With this comfortable opinion that chief cities, through which he tra- taste and science were to be acquired velled, to obtain a competen't know by a-stretch of the legs and hands, ledge of their manners and customs. many of these enlightened men
When Sir John was at Rome, Sir squandered large sums on the Con. Richard Colt Hoare, now so well tinent in the purchase of real or known for his liberal opinions, his modern antiques, pretended masterphilanthropy, taste, learning, and pieces, coins, medals, gems, pietures,
and mutilated statues. · Sir John conversation,his acquirements and Leicester presented a noble contrast knowledge of the gay world on the to these gentlemen. Although his Continent, rendered him a favourite. relish for the fine works of the old The Prince had given employment schools had detained him much to the pencil of Sir Joshua Rey; longer abroad than he had intended, nolds, Gainsborough, Romney, and he returned to England with the other eminent artists, and he occaunpretending merit of having re. sionally indulged in the purchase of served his fortune for the encou. select pictures by the old masters, ragement of English artists. He the additions to which have, in the more than once re-visited the Con
course of years, formed the rich tinent, renewed his acquaintance treasury of paintings now in Carlwith the most celebrated cabinets ton Palace. “The Baronet also be and galleries of paintings, and en- came a member of the Harmonic joyed their beauties with an addi. Society with the Prince, and he was tional zest; but he invariably' re- a frequent visitor at Kempshot. He turned to England with the same shared in the field sports of his true English spirit,--the same high Royal Highness, and that illustriopinion of his country, and the ous Personage was present when same generous hope of seeing its Sir John proved the superior accu. genius for the Fine Arts duly de- racy of his eye and precision of his veloped and exalted.
hand in a trial of skill with the After some years spent in acquir, best two shots of the day, Colonel ing a knowledge of the great world Richardson of the Guards, and the abroad, Sir John devoted himself to Duke of Richmond. public affairs at home, at an event- While the fashionable Gazettes ful era of English history. The recorded the high style of Sir John's Baronet and Lord Clifton were re- town and country establishments, turned to serve in Parliament, as the Ministerialand Opposition Jour representatives for Heytesbury, in nals bore testimony to his amenity Wiltshire, and he entered upon his in St. Stephen's Chapel, and to the legislative duties untrammeled by public spirit, with which he endeathe support of any party, without youred, by his recommendation and any engagement to the Minister, or patronage, to bring native genius to the Opposition. As the friend into notice. At this period, after of the Prince of Wales, he uniform- having held the command as Lientely supported his Royal Highness nant Colonel of the Cheshire Militia during the three successive sessions for thirteen years, he was honoured that he sat in the house. The pri- by a fresh mark of Royal favour, in vate circle of that illustrious Per- being appointed Colonel of a Regisonage was then in the highest ment of Provisional Cavalry, raised splendour ; and the most celebrated for home defence against the medivotaries of fashion and pleasure, tated hostility of the French Repubwho formed the pride and admira- lic. His seasonable attention to the tion of the British Court, mingled comfortable accommodation of the with the most illustrious statesmen, Corps, and his firmness in keeping senators, and other eminent public up the military discipline, won him characters in the select parties of the attachment of the privates. His the heir apparent. An invitation to brother Officers returned his frapkthe Palace of Enchantment, as it ness and suavity with unceasing was termed, was deemed a most en- tokens of esteem and regard. His viable distinction, and the spark. loyal tender of his services to the ling refinements of wit and classical King, when the enemy again 'made fancy gave additional poignancy to preparations to invade our shores, those memorable festivities. The were most graciously accepted; and rank and elegant manners of Sir .he set an example of patriotism to John introduced him to the Prince, others by raising that well-known and the coincidence of his judgment Regiment, which his Royal Highwith that of his Royal Highness, ness the Prince of Wales granted being founded in sincerity, was him his permission to term the Earl more highly valued. His taste in of Chester's Yeomanry, and, aftermusic and painting, his talents for wards, the Prince Regent's Regi
ment. Sir John was neither sparing There are several landscapes of his of expense nor exertion on this painting, in oil colours, hung up in meritorious occasion; and, with the the collection at Tabley House, zealons co-operation of his Officers, which shew excellent indications in he brought the Corps to vie in mili- outline and colouring; but, being tary discipline with the oldest of the rapidly hurried over, they do not regulars. The tumultuous assem- contain more than can be tastefully blages in Lancashire called forth a displayed by the first impatient display of its prompt and efficacious dash-in of a masterly pencil. Even interference. Under the command in these desultory Aashes of fancy of General Sir John Byng, this the amateur is struck by the freshfine body was the principal means ness of tint, the picturesque arof suppressing the insurrectional rangement of lines, and the union movements of the Blanketeers, which of the whole. They exhibit '80 spread so wide an alarm through much fine thought and genuine the country. They surprised all feeling that many have regretted the ringleaders, and escorted them, the life of an amateur so qualified without bloodshed, to the Castle of had not been devoted to painting. Chester. This important service No' eye can more quickly discover was duly appreciated. The Prince what is wrong in a picture, or Regent was pleased to convey, in sooner point out a remedy. Of
a thanks, and the thanks of the cient. Hilton was commissioned by Government, to the Colonel, Sir Sir John to paint the picture of the. John Fleming Leicester, and to the Mermaid, and, when that artist Officers and Regiment, for their sent it home, the writer of this aotive and efficacious aid in the dis
memoir happened to be in Hillpersion of the rioters, and for the street. Sir John pointed out to speedy restoration of order. The him an extravagance in the disposiOfficers and Privates entertained a tion of the hair, and a want of rehigh sense of Sir John's long con pose in the light and shadow, which tinued efforts for the honor and injured the effect of the figures. discipline of the Corps, and for the This writer was sensible of those preservation of local tranquillity. defects--but in a few hours afterThey presented to him, as their wards he was suprised to see them Colonel, a superb vase of massy amended, and, on examination, he silver, executed after the antique, found that Sir John had corrected with an inscription 'expressive of with water-colours, what was offentheir affectionate esteem for his de- sive to the eye of taste. When votion to their welfare and the pub- Hilton saw the change, he, himself, lic 'service. A private plate, etched at once, with his usual modesty and from this vase, by Mr. George candour, approved of the alteraCuit, an excellent artist then re- tions; took home the picture, and sident in Chester, conveys a spirited adopted the improvements in oiltranscript of its form and orna- colours, which his munificent and ments.
tasteful patron had practically deIf his hereditary fortune had not monstrated. robbed the Arts of his versatile The specimens of his mechanical talents, Sir John might have ac- ingenuity are sufficiently curious to quired celebrity as a musical com- occupy a conspicuous place in a poser, or as a Wilson, or Gainsbo. Museum. In a private apartment rough, in landscape painting. If at Tabley House, fitted up for his
. he had been necessitated to turn his operations in this way, there are a mind to handicraft invention, he variety of tools improved or inventmight have obtained reputation and ed by himself, and a number of his fortune as an Arkwright in mecha. performances in carving and turnics. His musical parties, and box nery, well worthy of inspection. But at the King's Opera House, form no his application as an amateur-paintsmall part of his enjoyments. His er, or self-taught artizan, is liable to voice is deficient in compass, but frequent interruption. Besides his his taste is pure, and his science military command as Colonel of equal to that of an able professor. the Royal Cheshire Yeomanry, Sir
John has the honor to fill the office Lawrence to paint a whole-length of Deputy Lieutenant of the County portrait of Lady Leicester ; and that of Clieshire, and has, also, gene- artist's charming likeness of her rally
some plans going forward for ladyship, in the character of Hope the improvement of his estates. attended by angelic genii in the Within his domain he is alse occy- clouds, has been so generally ad. pied. The ten or twelve pleasure mired in the Hill-street .gallery, vessels on the noble lake in his that the visitors to that temple of park were built according to his taste and public spirit are well acown direction; 'and his skill in the quainted with the beautiful features management of his little fleet, in and lovely sylph-like figure of the his aquatie parties with the neigh- original. bouring gentry, renders these ex, It required no ordinary exertion cursions more delightful. He added of fortitude in any individual, how, considerably to the extent of this ever high his rank or extensive bis lake, and built the insulated tower influence, to attempt and persevere in it; some years ago. In 1819, or in the noble design which Sir John 1820, an accidental fire consumed bad formed in Italy, of endeavoursome apartments in Tabley House, ing to remove the senseless preju. but it was luckily extinguished be- dices against the genius and works fore it could reach the pictures. of the British artists. At a period, The loss amounted to some thousand when a French nobleman or cours pounds, and Sir John was his own tier, at Paris, would have considered architect on that occasion. In place his robe of honour tarnished and of those parts of the house, which his name disgraced, unless, among had been burned, he built apart. his other claims to distinction, he ments in a light and elegant style ranked high in the esteem of his from designs drawn by his own countrymen, as a patron of the pencil,
French painters and sculptors, an A London Journal (the Examiner), Englishman of the same rank, in of the Ilth of November, 1810, con London, would have considered his tains tlie following record of an im- character as a connoisseur irretrievportant change in Sir John's life, ably forfeited, by having a landwhich was attended with great eclat scape or an historical picture by in the empire of fashion. Married, an English painter hung up in his yesterday, in the Palace of Hampton apartments. With a very few exCourt, by special license that dis- ceptions, this humiliating and fooltinguished patron of British genius, ish prejudice, which I have noticed Sir John Leicester, Bartı' to Geor. in my remarks on Sir John's travels, giana Maria, youngest daughter of continued to prevail among the Lieutenant Colonel Cottin, and god- higher classes. la vain had the daughter of his Royal Highness King, in 1768, established the Roythe Prince of Wales; a young lady, al Academy, and in vain had Boywhose loveliness and singular ac, dell, Macklin, and other commercomplishments, at the age of six- ciał speculators, roused by the disteen, are the themes of universal play of rising genius in the exhipanegyric."-Sir Peter Leycester's bitions of the academicians, fardescription of Lady Eleanor Byron, nished employment to the British one of Sir John's ancestors, whose pencil, and proved that with due portrait, as already mentioned, is encouragement sit was capable of among the beauties at Hampton refating those unfounded aspersions, Court, was applied to the bride and becoming a means of national “ This Eleanor is a person of such glory. The great body of the Bricomely presence, handsomeness, tish nobility and gentry held aloof sweet disposition, honour, and from the struggles of British art, general repute in the world, that until the Royal patronage; the efforts we have not her, equal."
"4Public of commercial men, 37 annual exbi: praise is too frequently exaggerated bitions, tand the noble example of: or lavished without justice; but in Sir Joha Leicester, had decreased the the instance, under present notice, oldinveteracy against native genius, the commendation fel short of the and brought the English pencil into truth, Sir John, soon after his a rising degree of public favour. happy union, employed Sir Thomas
(To be continued.)