« السابقةمتابعة »
The letter from Urania breathes the full spirit of that amiable ambition, which at present seems generally to inspire our heroines of the stage to accept of none but shining characters, and never to present themselves to the public but as illuftrious models of purity and grace. If virtue be thus captívating by resemblance only, how beautiful muft it be in the reality! I cannot however help pitying the unknown poet, whose. hopes were datht with the following rebuke.
Sir, I have run my eye over your tragedy, and am beyond measure surprized you could think of allotting a part to me, which is so totally unamiable. Sir, I neither can, nor will, appear in any public character, which is at variance with my private one; and, though I have no objection to your fcene of self-murder, and flatter myself I could do it justice, yet my mind revolts from spilling any blood but my own.
I confefs there are many fine paffages and fome very striking situations, that would fall to my lot in your drama, but permit me to tell you, Sir, that until you can clear up the legitimacy of the child, you have been pleased therein to
lay lay at my door, and will find a father for it, whom I may not blush to own for a husband, you must never hope for the assistance of your humble servant.
The other letter is addressed to the fame un. fortunate poet from an artist, who seems to have ftudied nature in her deformities only.
Dear Dismal, I wait with impatience to hear of the success of your tragedy, and in the mean time have worked off a frontispiece for it, that you, who have a passion for the terrific, will be perfectly charmed with.
I am scandalized when I hear people say that the fine arts are protected in this country; nothing can be further from the truth, as I am one amongst many to witness. Painting I presume will not be disputed to be one of the fine arts, and I may say without vanity I have fome pretensions to rank with the best of my brethren in that profession.
My first studies were carried on in the capital of a certain county, where I was born; and being determined to chuse a striking subject for
my debut in the branch of portrait-painting, I perswaded my grandmother to fit to me, and I am bold to say there was great merit in my pic'ture, considering it as a maiden production ; particularly in the execution of a hair-mole upon her chin, and a wart under her eye, which I touched to such a nicety, as to make every body start, who cast their eyes upon the canvass.
There was a little dwarfish lad in the parish, who besides the deformity of his person, had a remarkable hare-lip, which exposed to view a broken row of discoloured teeth, and was indeed a very brilliant subject for a painter of effect: I gave a full-length of him, that was executed fo to the life, as to turn the stomach of every body, who looked upon it.
At this time there came into our town a travelling show-man, who amongst other curiosities. of the savage kind brought with him a man-ape, or Ourong-outong ; and this person, having feen and admired my portrait of the little humpbacked dwarf, 'employed me to take the figure of his celebrated savage for the purpose of difplaying it on the outside of his booth. Such an occasion of introducing my art into notice spurred' my genius to extraordinary exertions, and though I muft premise that the savage was
not the best fitter in the world, yet I Aatter myself I acquitted myself to the satisfaction of his keeper and did justice to the ferocity of my subject : I caught him in one of his most strik ing attitudes, standing erect with a huge 'club in his paw: I put every muscle into play, and threw such a terrific dignity into his features, as would not have disgraced the character of a Nero or Caligula. I was happy to observe the general notice, which was taken of my performance by all the country folks, who resorted to the show, and I believe my employer had no caufe to repent of having set me upon the work.
The figure of this animal with the club in his paw suggested a hint to a publican in the place of treating his ale-house with a new fign, and as he had been in the service of a noble family, who from antient time have borne the Bear and ragged staff for their crest, he gave me a commission to provide him with a sign to that effect : Though I spared no pains to get a real bear to fit : to me for his portrait, my endeavours proved abortive, and I was forced to refort to such common prints of that animal as I could obtain, and trusted to my imagination for supplying what else might be wanted for the piece: As I
worked upon this capital design in the room, where my grandmother's portrait was before my eyes, it occurred to me to introduce the fame hair-mole into the whiskers of Bruin, which I had so successfully copied from her chin, and certainly the thought was a happy one, for it had a picturesque effect; but in doing this I was naturally enough, though undesignedly, betrayed into giving such a general resemblance to the good dame in the rest of Bruin's features, that when it came to be exhibited on the sign-post all the people cried out upon the likeness, and a malicious rumour ran through the town, that I had painted my grandmother instead of the bear; which loft me the favour of that indulgent relation, though Heaven knows I was as innocent of the intention as the child unborn..
The disgust my grandmother conceived against her likeness with the ragged staff, gave me incredible uneasiness, and as she was a good customer to the landlord and much respected in the place, he was induced to return the bear upon my hands. I am now thinking to what use I can turn him, and as it occurs to me, that by throwing a little more authority into his, features, and gilding his chain, he might very poffibly hit the likeness of some lord mayor of