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Cyprus black as e'er was crow;
Shakespeare. THE FAMILY PICTURE.
MY Y wife and daughters, happening to return a visit at neighbour Flam
borough's, found that family had lately got their pictures drawn by a limner, who travelled the country, and took likenesses for fifteen shillings a-head. As this family and ours had long a sort of rivalry in point of taste, our spirit took the alarm at this stolen march upon us, and, notwithstanding all I could say, and I said much, it was resolved that we should have our pictures done too. Having, therefore, engaged the limner, (for what could I do?) our next deliberation was to show the superiority of our taste in the attitudes. As for our neighbour's family, there were seven of them, and they were drawn with seven oranges—a thing quite out
-a of taste, no variety in life, no composition in the world. We desired to have something in a brighter style, and, after many debates, at length came to a unanimous resolution of being drawn together, in one large historical family-piece. This would be cheaper, since one frame would serve for all ; and it would be infinitely more genteel, for all families of any taste were now drawn in the same manner. As we did not immediately recollect a historical subject to hit us, we were contented each with being drawn as independent historical figures. My wife desired to be represented as Venus; and the painter was requested not to be too frugal of his diamonds in her stomacher and hair. Her two little ones were to be as Cupids by her side ; while I, in my gown and bands, was to present her with my books on the Whistonian Controversy. Olivia would be drawn as an Amazon, sitting upon a bank of flowers, dressed in a green joseph, richly laced with gold, and a whip in her hand. Sophia was to be a shepherdess, with as many sheep as the painter could put in for nothing; and Moses was to be dressed out with a hat and white feather.
Our taste so much pleased the squire, that he insisted on being put in as one of the family, in the character of Alexander the Great at Olivia's feet. This was considered by us all as an indication of his desire to be introduced into the family, nor could we refuse his request. The painter was therefore set to work, and, as he wrought with assiduity and expedition, in less than four days the whole was completed. The piece was large, and it must be owned he did not spare his colours; for which my
gave him great encomiums. We were all perfectly satisfied with his performance; but an unfortunate circumstance, which had not occurred till the picture was finished, now struck us with dismay. It was so very large that we had no place in the house to fix it! How we all came to disregard so material a point is inconceivable; but certain it is we had all been greatly remiss. This picture, therefore, instead of gratifying our
, vanity, as we hoped, leaned in a most mortifying manner against the kitchen wall, where the canvas was stretched and painted, much too large to be got through any of the doors, and the jest of all our neighbours. One compared it to Robinson Crusoe's long-boat, too large to be removed ; another thought it more resembled a reel in a bottle ; some wondered how it could be got out, but still more were amazed how it ever got in.