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they owe such misprized obligations, in their drowsy ears. On any other principle, I cannot conceive how painters (not without genius or industry) can fling themselves at the head of the public in the manner they do, having lives written of themselves, busts made of themselves, prints stuck in the shop-windows of themselves, and their names placed in “the first row of the rubric,” with those of Rubens, Raphael, and Mi. chael Angelo, swearing by themselves or their proxies that these glorified spirits would do well to leave the abodes of the blest in order to stand in mute wonder and with uplifted hands before some production of theirs, which is yet hardly dry! Oh! whatever you do, leave that string untouched. It will jar the rash and unhallowed hand that meddles with it. Profane not the mighty dead by mixing them up with the uncanonized living. Leave yourself a reversion in immortality, beyond the noisy clamour of the day. Do not quite lose your respect for public opinion by making it in all cases a palpable cheat, the echo of your own lungs that are hoarse with calling on the world to admire. Do not think to bully posterity, or to cozen your contemporaries. Be not always anticipating the effect of your picture on the town-think more about deserving success than commanding
it. In issuing so many promissory notes upon the bank of fame, do not forget you have to pay in sterling gold. Believe that there is some. thing in the pursuit of high art, beyond the manufacture of a paragraph or the collection of receipts at the door of an exhibition. Venerate art as art. Study the works of others, and in. quire into those of nature. Gaze at beauty. Become great by great efforts, and not by pompous pretensions. Do not think the world was blind to merit before your time, nor make the reputation of great geniuses the stalking horse to your vanity. You have done enough to insure yourself attention : you have now only to do something to deserve it, and to make good all that you have aspired to do!
There is a silent and systematic assumption of superiority which is as barefaced and unprincipled an imposture as the most impudent puffing. You may, by a tacit or avowed censure on all other arts, on all works of art, on all other pretensions, tastes, talents, but your own, produce a complete ostracism in the world of intellect, and leave yourself and your own performances alone standing, a mighty monument in an universal waste and wreck of genius. By cutting away the rude block and removing the rubbish from around it, the idol may be effectually exposed to view, placed on its pedestal of pride, without any other assistance. This method is more inexcusable than the other. For there is no egotism or vanity so hateful as that which strikes at our satisfaction in every thing else, and derives its nourishment from preying, like the vampyre, on the carcase of others' reputation. I would rather, in a word, that a man should talk for ever of himself with vapid senseless assurance, than preserve a malignant, heartless silence, when the merit of a rival is mentioned. I have seen instances of both, and can judge pretty well between them.
There is no great harm in putting forward one's own pretensions (of whatever kind) if this does not bear a sour, malignant aspect towards others. Every one sets himself off to the best advantage he can, and tries to steal a march upon public opinion. In this sense, too, “all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Life itself is a piece of harm. less quackery. A great house over your head is of no use but to announce the great man within. Dress, equipage, title, livery-servants, are only so many quack advertisements and assumptions of the question of merit. The star that glitters at the breast would be worth nothing but as a badge of personal distinction ;
and the crown itself is but a symbol of the virtues, which the possessor inherits from a long line of illustrious ancestors! How much honour and honesty have been forfeited to be graced with a title or a ribbon; how much genius and worth have sunk to the grave, without an escutcheon and without an epitaph!
As men of rank and fortune keep lacqueys to reinforce their claims to self-respect, so men of genius sometimes surround themselves with a coterie of admirers to increase their reputation with the public. These proneurs, or satellites, repeat all their good things, laugh loud at all their jokes, and remember all their oracular decrees. They are their shadows and echoes.
They talk of them in all companies, and bring back word of all that has been said about them.
They hawk the good qualities of their patrons, as shopmen and barkers tease you to buy goods. I have no notion of this vanity at second-hand; nor can I see how this servile testimony from inferiors (“some followers of mine own”) can be a proof of merit. It may soothe the ear ; but that it should impose on the understanding, I own surprises me: yet there are persons who cannot exist without a cortege of this kind about them, in which they smiling read the opinion of the world, in the midst of all sorts of rancorous abuse and hostility, as
Otho called for his mirror in the Illyrian field. One good thing is, that this evil, in some degree, cures itself; and when a man has been nearly ruined by a herd of these sycophants, he finds them leaving him, likethriftless dependents, for some more eligible situation, carrying away with them allthetattle they can pick up, and some left-off suit of finery. The same proneness to adulation which made them lick the dust before one idol, makes them bow as low to the rising Sun; they are as lavish of detraction as they were prurient with praise; and the protege and admirer of the editor of the figures in Blackwood's train. The man is a lacquey, and it is of little consequence whose livery he wears!
I would advise those who volunteer the office of puffing, to go the whole length of it. No half-measures will do. Lay it on thick and three-fold, or not at all. If you are once harnessed into that vehicle, it will be in vain for you to think of stopping. You must drive to the devil at once. The mighty Tamburlane, to whose car you are yoked, cries out,
“ Holloa, you pamper'd jades of Asia,
He has you on the hip, for you have pledged your taste and judgment to his genius. Never