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pressive and skilful, but not incapable of improvement; and his buildings are precisely those which characterize the land of his nativity.
As a painter of animals, Morland need not blush on being compared with his brother artists; for though Stubbs and Gilpin have more learning and dignity, they have not more ease, nor perhaps more expression. His sheep, his horses, his pigs, espe cially, have great merit; and yet, says his biographer, he never painted a lamb, nor could he summon up sufficient courage to study a bull from the living animal. Mr. H. indeed informs us, that he once found a bull's head banging over a chair in his painting-room, but this had been dead too long to be formidable, except from circumstances in which the heat of the weather had an ample share. p. 93.
But Morland's chief excellence, in our opinion, lay in the management of his light: this is usually natural, unconstrained, unaffected, and had his dissipation allowed him to have finished his effects more scientifically, he would have been in this respect inferior to no artist, whether British or continental. "
Only the piquant accidents of nature had power to rouse the energies of Morland's talent. The dull round of ordinary objects, he treated, if not with correspondent.dulness, yet with little sensibility; but, a storm of wind, a flash of lightning, a wreck, a smuggling adventure, these he painted ex animo; whatever had interested his mind he rendered interesting on the canvas, and transferred the sensations which he himself had experienced to the eye and the heart of the scientific spectator. Such was the professional soul of this artist! such were the triumphs of his cil, in his best time; for, alas! it is our painful duty to relate, that the consequence of his dissipation was " so heavy a stroke of the palsy, that sometimes while in the act of painting, he would fall back into his chair; and at other periods he would sleep for -hours together. His left hand also was so much inflamed, as to disable him from holding the implements of his profession."
Nor was this his only suffering; he had long experienced a well-founded presentiment that he should be subjected to durance vile, and he had the curiosity to visit the inside of the King's Bench Prison, incognito, in order to estimate the delights of his future residence, before he was invited to partake of them.
"The last insolvent act restored him to society; he still, however, continued at his former residence in St. George's Fields, chiefly assoiating with the lowest myrmidons of legal drudgery, until a family disagreement caused him to separate from his wife, when he took up his residence with a sheriff's officer in Roll's-buildings, for whom he afterwards painted several pictures, and in whose official capacity he once degraded himself so far as to become coadjutor.
"At length he was taken in execution by a Marshalsea-court writ, to
the house of Mr. Attwell, Air-street, where having swallowed a large quantity of spirits, this unfortunately produced a fever, and speedily ter minated his existence, we are sorry to add, in the very extreme of wretchedness, penury, and distress.
Thus departed George Morland !—that remarkable and excellent master of his art, whose professional life, contemplated from the brilliant side, will doubtless prove to his brethren of the pallet, that however inspired by genius, without sedulous application, perfection must not be expected and may the rising generation be instructed from his fate, that genius itself, however original, or all the high qualities found in a consummate artist, will never shield the possessor from misery, unless accompanied by that prudence, temperance, and integrity, which can alone insure respect, esteem, and admiration!' pp. 46, 47.
The friendship of Mr. Hassell, and his respect for the memory of the departed, would not permit him to extend his admonitory remarks, but he might very justly have added, that the unhappy subject before us strikingly demonstrates the fatal effects, both to art and artists, of that dissolute course of life which too often flashes with a delusive glare in the eyes of the inexperienced. This omission we shall endeavour in some degree to supply; not without hopes of pointing out more distinctly the origin of those errors, the distressful termination of which Mr. Hassell has so feelingly recorded.
"Folly," says the royal sage," is bound up in the heart of a child,"yet we deny rot that many youthful indiscretions may be shaken off in riper years; nor can we approve of " almost entirely restricting a youth from all intercourse with society, except that which was acquired by stealth, with a few boys in the neighbourhood: his principal, or only amusement, being a walk on a Sunday with the old gentleman, his father, to view the new buildings in the vicinity of Tottenham-court-road." Could the "old gentleman" have found nothing better in that vicinity? and if his son's disposition was so eccentric as he knew it to be, did he not, in omitting the habit of religious observances, omit the most likely means of restraining it?
"The dress and appearance of our juvenile hero, when he became his own master, were characterized by the most whimsical display of eccentric, and even ridiculous habits,finical, fantastical, and grotesque, 1ather than natural, proper, or fashionable, and in the very extreme of foppish puppyism. His head, when ornamented agreeable to his own taste, might properly be said to resemble a snow-ball, (after the very fine and striking model of the accomplished TIPPY BOB, of glorious dramatic memory,) to which was attached, as an appendage, a short, thick tail, not unlike a painter's brush." p. 9.
Afterwards his dress and equipage changed to the extreme of neatness; and scarcely a week elapsed but he sported a new pair of gloves and leather breeches. p. 27.
"At the time Morland resided at Paddington, he may be said to have been at the very summit of his merit, and also of his extravagancies. He kept at this time no less than eight saddle-horses at livery, at the sign of the White Lion, opposite to his house, and was absurd enough to wish to be considered as a horse-dealer, but unfortunately he did not know quid humeri ferrent, quid non,-wherein his real strength lay.-Frequently, horses for which to-day he would give a purse of thirty or forty guineas, he would sell on the day following for half that sum, or perhaps for less; but as the honest fraternity of horse-dealers knew their man, and would take his note at two months, he could the more easily indulge this propensity, and appear for a short time in cash, until pay-day came, when lo a picture was produced as a douceur for a renewal of the notes. Such was the practice until he had accumulated debts to an enormous amount, and brought himself to the brink of that fatal precipice from which he fell
Never to hope again.'
"This was one source of calamity which neither his industry, for which he was remarkable, nor his talents, which were rare and transcendent, were by any means adequate to counterpoise. His wine-merchant, too, who was a gentleman in the discounting line, would sometimes obtain a picture worth fifty pounds for the renewal of a bill. Can it then be wondered at, when thus beset by picture-dealers, horse-dealers, winemerchants, attorneys, and a whole string of et ceteras, that he should at length have sunk under such accumulated burthens of misery and mischief? This was in reality the fact; he heaped folly upon folly with such dire rapidity, that a fortune of ten thousand pounds per annum would have proved insufficient for the support of his waste and prodigality." pp.
"A whimsical story has been circulated respecting his readiness at finding out resources, and which wears every apparent mark of authenticity.
Upon his departing from Deal, where he had been making sketches of the coast, he returned to town on foot, accompanied by his brother-inlaw, Mr. Williams, the engraver. The extravagant humours of the preceding evening, distressing to relate, had rendered the exchequer pennyless. Morland felt a craving appetite for some refreshment, but the great difficulty was how to procure it. Observing a low-built house by the road-side, over which was placed an animal intended for a bull, Morland, who was seldom at a loss for entering a public-house, soon introduced himself, and under pretence of enquiring his way, expressed his surprize to the landlord, that he did not renew his sign, which time, it seems, had nearly defaced. Boniface alledged his inability to get it repaired on account of the charge, at the same time observing, that it was good enough for his humble dwelling; but, upon Morland's offering to paint him a new one for five shillings, he immediately acquiesced, and commissioned him to make a trial of his skill. Here, however, a new difficulty occurred: Morland was without utensils, which could not be procured at a smaller distance than Canterbury, to which place (not without some difficulty) the landlord was persuaded to send. In the mean time the travellers had bespoke a dinner, and had exhausted several
pitchers of good ale, with at least a quantum sufficit of spirits, all which could only be paid for by painting the sign.
"The reckoning, however, before the bull was finished, instead of five shillings, the sum contracted for, had increased to ten, and the chagrined landlord reluctantly suffered the travellers to depart upon Mor Jand's explaining who he was, and promising to call and pay the landlord at a future day." pp. 44, 45.
This kind of conduct naturally produced embarrassments, and from 1793 they followed in a continued series, till, notwithstanding his sudden and frequent excursions into the country, hewas, according to his expectation, secured within the rules of the King's Bench.
"Sunk in this barathrum, or cavern of misery, he had the fullest latitude for indulging the influence of rude will;-surrounded by the very lowest of the low, by dissipation and indolence;" p. 41. "yet even here he could earn four guineas per day and his drink; which last was no inconsiderable article for George, who used to tipple and paint alternately." p. 42.
Morland was in his temper, peevish, fretful, and vindictive; vices not unaccompanied by pride, which in many instances suffered unexpected and provoking mortification: and though it was notorious that he was in confinement, yet would he, by the permission of a day rule, ride from house to house in the country round London, where he would strenuously," but not always effectually, contradict the reports of his imprisonment." p. 43.
He was so void of courage, that as we have already observed, he never ventured to face a bull; and Mr. Hassell refutes a story which had been told of him, respecting his painting the portrait of his dead child; by affirming, first, that he never had a child; and, secondly, that nobody, acquainted with his timidity, could suppose, that he would enter a room where he knew there was a corpse.
Some persons are apt to quote a proverb, from which they would infer the possibility of a dissipated individual being 'no man's enemy but his own:' that such a character can exist we do not believe; but, if it ever did exist, the hero of this performance was not that character. We find, by Mr. Hassell's account, that Mr. Irvine, an early acquaintance of Morland, in a very short space of time finished his career in this world; and was, to use the expression of Morland himself, the first man he ever killed by liquor. Another is mentioned in the note to
*Upon his arrival in town Morland related this adventure at the Holein-the-Wall, in Fleet-street, and the singularity of the story induced a gentleman who had conceived the highest opinion of the artist's composi tions, to set off privately towards Canterbury, in quest of the Bull, which be purchased of the landlord for ten guineas.
p. 17. who fell a sacrifice in following the excesses of his companion' (Morland); and to these trophies of his dishonour we might add many more.
Such were the friendships and the enjoyments of Morland, and his brutal associates; we earnestly wish no parallel debasement could be found in more exalted situations, and that the walks of fashion, and the seats of learning, presented no names which excite equal pity and contempt; yet the man who should renounce these degrading excesses for the happiness and hopes of Christianity, is to be stigmatized as a madman, a dupe, or a fanatic, and insulted with all the opprobrious epithets that ignorance and vice ever pelted at wisdom and virtue!
Thus it appears, from the memoirs under perusal, that the personal character of this eminent painter was a compound of deceit, foppery, meanness, prodigality, fretfulness, malice, cowardice, intoxication, and even of assassination; not assassination by the dagger, or the stiletto, but by floods of deleterious liquor, undermining the constitution of his friends. On such a man had the bounty of heaven bestowed taste, with all its sensibilities; genius, with all its vivacity; industry, with every opportunity of assuring its utmost rewards, combined with much of that celebrity which gratifies the very soul of an artist, and while he labours to weariness, renders him insensible of toil.
If to these excellent qualities, he had united those still more excellent, self-knowledge and self-controul, modesty, chastity, humanity, benevolence, and, to say all in one word, piety, to how much greater advantage might his character have appeared, 1. t only as a man, but as an artist! His pecuniary difficulties, and mental disorder, could not but affect his productions. His mind enfeebled by intemperance, his hand urged by immediate necessities, he was incapable of conceiving with that felicity, and finishing with that diligence, which might justly be expected from his superior abilities.
The irregularities of the artist not only injure his own professional talents, but degrade his art in public estimation, and bring even genius itself into contempt. Those who are more accustomed to judge than to feel, will despise the vivacity which seems inevitably linked with vice and misfortune; and when it induces criminal habits, it justly merits the severity of sarcasm, which often assailed and exasperated Morland.
Good manners can tolerate no insult, whatever be the sta-" tion of the offender; nor are the public morals to be transgressed with impunity, whether or not the transgressor be amenable to the laws of his country. There will never be wanting, in regulated and polished society, those judicious observers, whose censures are of all things to be dreaded and avoided; and as the arts can flourish only by the patronage of the judicious, and VOL. II.