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ments in Mrs. Radcliffe's Romance of the Forest, I am sure, quite as much as I should do now. Yet the same experiment has been often tried since, and has uniformly failed *.
It was soon after this that Coleridge returned from Italy, and he got one day into a long tirade to explain what a ridiculous farce the whole was, and how all the people abroad were shocked at the gullibility of the English nation, who on this and every other occasion were open to the artifices of all sorts of quacks, wondering how any persons with the smallest pretensions to common sense could for a moment suppose that a boy could act the characters of men without any of their knowledge, their experience, or their passions. We made some faint resistance, but in vain. The discourse then took a turn, and Coleridge began a laboured eulogy on some promising youth, the son of an English artist, whom he had met in Italy, and who had wandered all over the Campagna with him, whose talents, he assured us, were the admiration of all Rome, and whose early designs had almost all the grace and purity of Raphael's. At last, some one interrupted the endless theme by saying a little impatiently, “ Why just now you would not let us believe our own eyes and ears about young Betty, because you have a theory against premature talents, and now you start a boy phenomenon, that nobody knows any thing about but yourself—a young artist that, you tell us, is to rival Raphael !” The truth is, we like to have something to admire ourselves, as well as to make other people gape and stare at; but then it must be a discovery of our own, an idol of our own making and setting up :-if others stumble on the discovery before us, or join in crying it up to the skies, we then set to work to prove that this is a vulgar delusion, and show our sagacity and freedom from prejudice by pulling it in pieces with all the coolness imaginable. Whether we blow the bubble or crush it in our hands, vanity and the desire of empty distinction are equally at the bottom of our sanguine credulity or fastidious scepticism. There are some who always fall in with the fashionable prejudice as others affect singularity of opinion on all such points, according as they think they have more or less wit to judge for themselves.
* I (not very long ago) had the pleasure of spending an evening with Mr. Betty, when we had some “ good talk" about the good old times of acting. I wanted to insinuate that I had been a sneaking admirer, but could not bring it in. As, however, we were putting on our great coats down stairs, I ventured to break the ice by saying, “ There is one actor of that period of whom we have not made honourable mention, I mean Master Betty.” “Oh!” he said, “I have forgot all that." I replied, that he might, but that I could not forget the pleasure I had had in seeing him. On which he turned off, and shaking his sides heartily, and with no measured demand upon his lungs, called out, “Oh, memory! memory!" in a way that showed he felt the full force of the allusion. I found afterwards that the subject did not offend, and we were to have drunk some Burton-ale together the following evening, but were prevented. I hope he will consider that the engagement still stands good.
If a little varnishing and daubing, a little puffing and quacking, and giving yourself a good name, and getting a friend to speak a word for you, is excusable in any profession, it is, I think, in that of painting. Painting is an occult science, and requires a little ostentation and mock-gravity in the professor. A man may here rival Katterfelto, “ with his hair on end at his own wonders, wondering for his bread;" for, if he does not, he may in the end go without it. He may ride on a high trotting horse, in green spectacles, and attract notice to his person any how he can, if he only works hard at his profession. If “it only is when he is out he is acting,” let him make the fools stare, but give others something worth looking at. Good Mr. Carver and Gilder, good Mr. Printer's Devil, good Mr. Bill-sticker, “ do me your offices" unmolested! Painting is a plain ground, and requires a great many heraldic quarterings and facings to set it off. Lay on, and do not spare. No man's merit can be fairly judged of, if he is not known; and how can he be known, if he keeps entirely in the back ground*? A great name in art goes but a little way, is chilled as it creeps along the surface of the world, without something to revive and make it blaze out with fresh splendor. Fame is here almost obscurity. It is long before your name affixed to a sterling design will be spelt out by an undiscerning, regardless public. Have it proclaimed, therefore, as a necessary precaution, by sound of trumpet at the corners of the street, let it be stuck as a label in your mouth, carry it on a placard at your back. Otherwise, the world will never trouble themselves about you, or will very soon forget you. A celebrated artist of the present day, whose name is engraved at the bottom of some of the most touching specimens of English art, once had a frame-maker call on him, who, on entering his room, exclaimed with some surprise, “ What, are you a painter, sir ?" The other made answer, a little startled in his turn, “Why, didn't you know that? Did you never see my name at the bottom of prints?” He could not recollect that he had. “And yet you sell picture-frames and prints ?” “Yes.” “What painters' names then did he recollect: Did he know West's ?” “Oh! yes.” “ And Opie's ?” “ Yes.” “ And Fuseli's ?” “Oh! yes.” “ But you never heard of me?” “I cannot say that I ever did !" It was plain, from this conversation, that Mr. N— had not kept company enough with picture-dealers and newspaper critics. On another occasion, a country-gentleman, who was sitting to him for his portrait, asked him if he had any pictures in the Exhibition at Somerset-house, and on his replying in the affirmative, desired to know what they were. He mentioned among others, “ The Marriage of Two Children;" on which the gentleman expressed great surprise, and said that was the very picture his wife was always teasing him to go and have another look at, though he had never noticed the painter's name. When the public are so eager to be amused, and care so little who it is that amuses them, it is not amiss to remind them of it now and then; or even to have a starling taught to repeat the name, to which
* Sir Joshua, who was not a vain man, purchased a tawdry sheriff's carriage, soon after he took his house in Leicesterfields, and desired his sister to ride about in it, in order that people might ask, “Whose it was?" and the answer would be, “ It belongs to the great painter!”