THE late William Beckford of Fonthill Giffard, Wilts, and afterwards of Bath, was born at the former place, September 29th, 1759. His mother was the second wife of the member in parliament for the city for fourteen years preceding, and twice Lord Mayor. She was daughter and coheir of the Hon. George Hamilton, M.P. for Wells. Young Beckford was christened early, the year following his birth, as appears by the following letter from his father to Mr. Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham.

"Fonthill, January 7th, 1760.

"Your very obliging and much-esteemed favour was duly received. I consider it the [72] greatest honor to have such a Sponsor to my child. He was made a Christian last night, and Lord Effingham was your proxy. No endeavours of mine shall be wanting (if it please God to spare his life), to instil into his mind principles of religion, honor, and love of Country. It is true those are old-fashioned principles; but they are such as you approve and practise.

"Nothing could give me more Pleasure than to take your opinion on my present works, and to regulate my future operations by your advice and Judgment. But I cannot flatter myself so much as to think it possible to enjoy that comfort, until you have first procured for your country a safe, honorable, and lasting peace.

“I am, my dear Sir,
"Your ever faithful and affectionate,
Humble servant

At the earliest possible time that impressions of any value in education can be made upon the youthful mind, a preparatory tutor was provided for Young Beckford, under whom he remained [73] until he had seen eleven summers; at which time, in 1771, Dr. W. Cleaver, afterwards Bishop of St. Asaph, recommended his own cousin, the Rev. Mr. Lettice, to take upon himself the task of his education. The application to Dr. Cleaver to recommend a tutor was made to him by no less a personage than the celebrated Lord Littleton, of Hagley. The instruction of a youth considered heir to one of the first fortunes in the kingdom, which had yet nine or ten years to increase, his father being recently dead, was an undertaking of some consideration. The appointment was three hundred a year; and Lord Littleton represented the pupil as possessing parts much above mediocrity, and indeed of more than ordinary promise, with a disposition peculiarly amiable. Dr. Lettice had previously been employed in educating Miss Gunning, the daughter of one of the English diplomatists resident at the court of Denmark, in which duty he had acquitted himself greatly to the satisfaction of the lady's father. Dr. Lettice was a man of considerable learning and experience, between thirty and forty years old, and the recommendation given of him to Lord Lit- [74] tleton obtained him the appointment in the year 1771. His lordship introduced the new tutor to Mrs. Beckford himself, at her house in Wimpole Street, where for the first time the tutor met young Beckford. Lord Littleton came to meet him at dinner. Dr. Lettice described his reception as polite and flattering, but was particularly struck with the elegance as well as vivacity of Lord Littleton's conversation, whom he described in terms much more striking than appear in any of the biographies of that accomplished and learned nobleman.

At this time young Beckford was for the most part a listener. He seldom ventured to speak, while his countenance and behaviour appeared highly prepossessing. The family was about preparing to leave town for Fonthill, its general residence during the summer season.

At Fonthill as in town, Mrs. Beckford having taken the advice of Lord Littleton as to the arrangements seems to have acted with great kindness and consideration in all that related to the accommodation of the tutor, with a view both to his own convenience, and that of his pupil, that their studies might not be inter- [75] rupted. It is probable that Mrs. Beckford had not forgotten the care and kindness her husband always exhibited to those who were the instructors of youth. She devoted a handsome breakfast-room, and bed chamber, communicating with the library, and a footman, to the tutor's exclusive use, the same that had been once occupied by the elder Beckford. The pupil was lodged near his mother's chamber, but the room devoted to purposes of study was on the ground floor, spacious and airy. The family consisted of Mrs. Beckford, her son, and Miss March, the daughter of Mr. Beckford's first wife, a young lady of considerable personal accomplishments.

The course pursued in following out the studies of the youth may be considered as worthy of attention, and is given from its having had the approval, if it were not actually dictated by Lords Littleton and Chatham, whose friendship for the elder Beckford, while those distinguished men survived, was continued towards his relict and family. The connection of the elder Beckford with the city, it has been stated, was wholly political; his connection with the city having been taken up in order to enable him [76] more effectually to support the Earl of Chatham and his friends in their stronghold. Hence after the death of Beckford, that the intimacy and advice of those two great men should have been continued to his family was honourable to both.

The system referred to in the education of young Beckford, was carried out with a ride for half an hour on horseback at seven in the morning. It generally took place in the park, or in the extensive woods and plantations surrounding old Fonthill. On the return of the pupil and his instructor to the house, study commenced with the Latin and Greek grammar. This was followed by the perusal of a chapter in the Bible, on which the tutor read notes, and made remarks. Breakfast then intervened, and shortly afterwards began the routine of classical, French, and English reading, according to a plan which had been proposed by the tutor himself to the nobleman before mentioned and sanctioned by them. Geography and arithmetic were also introduced in turn. Those studies continued until one o'clock, when horses were brought and the teacher with his pupil rode for an hour and a half over the Wiltshire Downs, or visited some [77] of the neighbouring villages, which are scattered on that extensive waste. On returning they dressed for dinner, which at that time took place at three P.M. There were always visitors in the house, as well as company from the vicinity, at dinner. The pupil then returned with his tutor to his studies for an hour and a half more, afterwards amusing himself with light reading. He then left his tutor in the library, or in the plantations until tea time, continuing with the company until supper was served, at nine o'clock. Conversation, oftentimes music, vocal and instrumental, occupied the evening until eleven, when all retired to rest.

In regard to the character in the world of fashion of the company which visited Fonthill at the time of Mr. Beckford's pupillage, by which it may be naturally supposed the pupil would be in some degree influenced, it may be as well to state that Mrs. Beckford, the mother, and second wife of the elder Beckford, was of the Abercorn branch of the Hamilton family, older, it was said, than the ducal branch, she being the daughter and coheir of the Hon. George Hamilton. The conjectures and discus- [78] sions upon this idle relationship, as to which was the earliest branch, and the usual claims to being among the descendants or serfs of William the Bastard, set young Beckford poring over books of heraldry, of which he grew mischievously fond at that early age. His sire's political fame did not satisfy him. He set about tracing his ancestral honors on one side or the other up to John of Gaunt. In this waste of his leisure he was still further led, full of imagination as he was by nature, from the purchase his father made of the venerable ancient castle of Eton-Bray, in Bedfordshire, once the residence of John of Gaunt. This partiality for heraldic study, useless as it was, seemed to obtain a great accendancy in his mind, and his tutor found it necessary to check rather than applaud such a propensity. A sort of pride of family seemed to be springing up in his youthful mind, which it became most politic to repress without appearing to do so; his tutor therefore made light of the grounds on which he pretended to trace his ancestry up to such a source. It was clear that the pupil possessed a very excursive fancy, while his friends looked to his becoming an [79] eminent public man, who would have to deal with useful facts, and not lose himself in fiction.

The family at Fonthill was then visited among its relations by the Hon. G. Hamilton, of Paine's Hill, near Cobham, in Surrey, younger brother of Lord Abercorn, whose genius for planting and gardening was at that time pretty generally known. The family of the Earl of Effingham, the earl having married Mr. Beckford's sister, who had become countess-dowager, her second son the existing earl, and her four daughters; also Field-marshal Howard, K.B., the second husband of the Countess. Her third daughter was married to Lord Dorchester, her second to Colonel Carleton, and Elizabeth, the eldest, to Dr. Courtenay, afterwards Bishop of Exeter.

Lord Dorchester, and his nephew, Colonel Carleton, distinguished themselves in that Canadian war in America, which preceded the war of American independence. Among the occasional visitors were, the Earl of Chatham and his family, Lord Camden and his accomplished daughter, Lords Littleton, Bathurst, and Thur- [80] low, names distinguished in history. The latter at that time was Attorney-General. Of visitors from the neighbourhood of Fonthill, were the old Duke and Duchess of Queensbury; the Bishop of Salisbury; the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke; Mr. Harris of Salisbury, the author; and Messrs. Wyndham, Seymour, and Hoare, the latter one of young Beckford's guardians, and, indeed, most of the respectable individuals in the neighbourhood, for Mr. Beckford had been right hospitable.

Brought up amid such society, young Beckford might naturally be expected to catch the better tone and manners of society, obtain elevated ideas, and make some figure in consequence in the great world, as well as in the world of fashion.*

When about twelve years of age his friends indulged in high expectations of him after he should attain manhood, looking for the consum- [81] mation of their wishes regarding him to that which nature designed he should become; a common and partial mistake. Even at that early age his personal figure was advantageous, while his genius and talents were of the most promising character. His vivacity of imagination and natural flow of eloquence were remarkable - his comprehension was lucid, and uncommonly quick. His facility in acquirement as well as his memory were good, and his progress in learning considerably beyond the average; while, amidst all, his application was commendable. His principal fault was, that he grew to be too desultory, notwithstanding he made great way. His temper, though lively, was prone to irritability, yet he was respectful to his instructors, with whom Lord Chatham did not disdain to correspond upon the subject, and to tender advice which was scrupulously followed. A serious regard for religion and pure moral principle, as the solid foundation of all acquirements, was carefully inculcated.

Upon some discontent expressed by Mrs. Beckford respecting the guardians appointed under the will of his father, young Beckford [82] was made a ward in Chancery, upon the maternal solicitation; Lord Bathurst being then Chancellor, and taking great interest in his ward.

The tutor, too, seems to have had a worthy sense of the responsibility he incurred, and to have bestowed great pains upon his pupil's education, as was proved in the variety, depth, and extent of his acquirements, to which the world subsequently bore witness. He had to contend against the fondness of maternal attachment, and the conviction that in his pupil's mind there lurked a species of pride, which belonged rather to one conscious of good fortune, than based upon the conviction of having earned it. He was somewhat of a spoiled child, too, as he often declared in after-life he had been.

At twelve years of age he had read a little of Virgil, and began to learn Greek. Under his new tutor he had soon read the whole of the Æneid, of which his excellent memory retained a goodly portion. Horace, Tully's Offices and Orations, Sallust, and the principal Latin writers, were soon mastered; at the same time proceeding with English composition. On Sundays he wrote passages from the Bible, princi- [83] pally the historical parts, in his own way, which became exercises, as well as refreshers of his memory afterwards. Civil history became in turn part of his reading, and it was uniformly continued, that of England preceding, and being made a subject of reference. Then followed Rollin's ancient, and Millott's modern history, both in French, accompanied with references, geographical and chronological, impressed on the mind through the Memoria Technica. In the Greek, after the Testament, came the Iliad and Odyssey; Xenophon, portions of Plutarch and Thucydides - but the two last were in the French, not the original. The Eton Grammar was used for the Latin and Greek, and Louth's for the English. Declamation was not omitted, and when in English, repeated before company. The speeches of our most distinguished parliamentary speakers were selected for the purpose, with the idea of laying the foundation of that public distinction towards which the hopes of his friends inclined, with a view to his making a figure in future life. At this time it seemed as if his genius inclined him to the fulfilment of their expectations, for he showed marks of [84] shining more as an orator, than a man of business. For success in the latter pursuit, his lively and even fiery imagination, of which his friends were needlessly afraid, seemed to point out that success must be inevitable. Despite the tendency of his nature, after three or four years of his pupillage, he had patience sufficient to wade through Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. With what a different feeling he perused Robertson's Charles V., and Mary, Queen of Scots, he related himself. He revelled in history, and at one time took up natural history with an eagerness which showed how much that study too suited his inclination.

On one occasion, so anxious was Lord Chatham regarding the progress of his friend's son, that he sent an invitation to both tutor and pupil to make himself and Lady Chatham a visit. They accordingly set out for Burton Pynsent in Somersetshire, and were received with great kindness both by Lord and Lady Chatham, and the rest of the family, consisting of three sons and two daughters. Here they remained an entire month. The offspring of the Earl of Chatham were all educated at home, [85] under the vigilant and unrelaxing superintendence and active personal assistance of Lord and Lady Chatham. Lord Pitt, the elder son, was designed for the army. William, the second son, was then about fifteen years old and there was a younger son, educating for the navy. The daughters, one of them Lady Hester, were at that time learning Greek and Latin, under the instruction of Mr. Wilson, of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. William and Hester were foremost in classical acquirements. The latter had so great a desire of learning Greek and reading Homer with her brother, that she stipulated to apply herself seriously to the study of the higher arithmetic, if she might be permitted at the same time to learn the Greek tongue.

The conversation at Burton Pynsent at this period was always directed to literary subjects, in the style of which Lord Chatham himself set the example. Lady Chatham often bore a part, evidently keeping in view the object of instruction when their children were present. Nothing could be more simple than their mode of life, as well as of the method of instruction pursued. Not the least trace of pride or [86] pedantry appeared in action or in conversation. The anxiety of Lord Chatham to render the education of his children as complete as possible was strikingly evident.

Upon one occasion the young people wrote a little dramatic entertainment, which was performed during Mr. Beckford's visit. A number of the residents in the neighbourhood attended, and it went off well. Lord Chatham was fond of out-door amusements, and undertook the management of a little grazing farm, while Lady Chatham occupied herself with a dairy. His lordship too was much occupied at this time with the improvement of the house, garden, and grounds. The estate left the Earl by Sir William Pynsent, out of respect to his public character, was well situated, but not much adorned. Lord Chatham was tall, thin, and stooped a little, owing to the gout to which he was subject. His eyes were uncommonly keen and piercing, his features commanding, and impressed with a peculiar dignity by nature, for his carriage, and, indeed, his entire person, bore marks of that unaffected manner and genuine simplicity which are stamped upon true great- [87] ness of soul. Such were Mr. Beckford's impressions regarding him. He was by nature active, but painfully hampered by the gout, from which he was only free at short intervals; he was therefore often wheeled about in a small carriage while superintending his improvements out of doors. In the house he constantly used crutches; and even under this disadvantage, whether bending forwards in moving, whether sitting or standing, he never lost the air of a superior man. In his retirement at Burton, he recalled the portraiture of a Roman Consul or dictator who had retired from public affairs and the command of armies, to his Sabine farm.

Often, when dinner was over, and the ladies had retired, he would converse with great freedom on a variety of topics while taking his wine. He directed his discourse one day upon his young visitor, and the feeling he bore towards his father, for whom he expressed great regard, calling him the late Lord Mayor, as he had died in his second mayoralty. He represented him as an individual of great importance in politics, because of his uncommon popularity in the City of London, and the figure he made [88] in the House of Commons; but added, that from the warmth of his character, "he was apt to overshoot himself in council." He then spoke of his son, of the liveliness of character he had noticed in him, his great fluency and command of language, hinting, in the kindest manner, how much his imagination, with the strong attachment he displayed for Oriental reading, alluding particularly to his fondness for Arabic tales, of which he had been informed, might lead him astray from pursuits more worthy of his talents, and from the chaster models in writing and thinking, the legacies of Greece and Rome.

One day it was proposed that young Beckford should repeat a speech of considerable length before the earl, which he had translated from Thucydides, some time before, and rehearsed at Fonthill. He exhibited no want of confidence, had it perfectly by heart, and was by no means wanting in a proper emphasis and action. The whole of Lord Chatham's family were present, and the young speaker was heard with the greatest attention. When he had concluded, Lord Chatham rose from his seat, flung aside his crutch, and embracing the youth, [89] evidently much delighted, exclaimed, turning to his son William, "May you, my son, some day, make as brilliant a speaker."

Young Beckford fixed his credit for ever with the great minister, who was at the same moment assidiously instructing his son William in the art of speaking, in which his own abilities had been so pre-eminent.

Young William Pitt at that time did not possess half the genius and imaginative power of young Beckford, but was well instructed, more correct in what he acquired, and more discerning. He was observant, pleasing, and polished in his manners; neat of expression, and somewhat vivacious, but not equal to Beckford in spirit, and much inferior in energy of character.

Upon leaving Burton Pynsent to return home under such encouraging auspices, Lord Chatham took great pains to dissuade him from reading works of Oriental fiction, and the "Arabian Nights" in particular. He obtained the youth's promise to refrain, at least for some time, and it was contrived at Fonthill to remove them out of his sight when his back was turned. This was evidently a thing he regretted, and he ex- [90] hibited marks of ill-humor on the occasion. In the mean time, his regular studies proceeded as before, and evidently improved as they went on; but neither this nor the removal out of his sight of works of Eastern fiction, prevented details of Oriental customs in travels and voyages from engaging his attention. His conversation continually adverted to such topics, and worse than all, in the way of mischievous result, was an apparent satisfaction which he exhibited whenever the slavish prostration of subjects of every rank in the East came upon the carpet, with the host of flatterers which surrounded them. This obliquitous tendency of mind nursed a natural pride, of which he had too large a share. This pride was by far the worst feature in his character, because it chimed in very ill with that sincere love of political freedom which had distinguished his father through life, while his friends had a strong desire to see the son eminent on the same political side as that upon which his father had taken his stand.

When in London, which was during the winter, and not as now the summer season, young [91] Beckford was not excused from any of his studies; but his sphere of action was much enlarged, and he paid numerous visits, at which his tutor was expected to accompany him, except when he visited a couple of his mother's aunts who lived in strict retirement; Lady Mary Cooley and the Dowager Lady Abercorn. Left alone with these ladies, and uncontrolled by his tutor, he gave way to everything his natural vivacity prompted, and his conversation delighted his relations. His farther improvement in the French language was aided, in town, by a native tutor, who spent two or three evenings in the week with him. To this were added the accomplishments of dancing and fencing, as well as attending the riding school; in all these and similar cases he was attended by a chosen person, to prevent the chance of improper acquaintance being formed. On all upon which he set his mind he succeeded marvellously. In music and design he shewed both invention and enthusiasm, not confining himself to the cold task of scientific execution, but entering into the very marrow of the study for which he had a predilection. He was sometimes too eager to advance beyond [92] these steps, which few but those of his own temperament feel inclined to travel.

Invited while yet a youth, in his sixteenth year, to visit the old Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, he made a commendable display there of his oratorical powers, and obtained the warmest praise, even to admiration, extravagantly expressed. The composition he recited was his own, and was so well declaimed that his praises flew back to Fonthill before him; and he was on his arrival requested to repeat the exhibition. His youthful attainments and vivacity in conversation indeed sometimes too volatile, made him forget to pay strict attention to certain points of etiquette in behaviour, which he well knew the Duchess expected. She was then at the age of fourscore, with a superior understanding and perfect knowledge of the bienseances of rank. Having frequently failed at breakfast-time, from the want of doing something which he thought rather rigorous on the part of the Duchess, she desired him to ring the bell, and when the servant entered the room, bade him bring to her the great family Bible. This she opened at the Book of Wisdom, and a pas- [93] sage applicable to the occasion, desiring young Beckford to read it aloud. When he had done, her Grace said, "There it was, young man, that I learned my manners: I hope you will remember what you have read!"

He received the reproof with great propriety and respect, exactly as it became him to do, and gave those who witnessed it much pleasure. It was true, however, that his satirical humour had been too frequently and too indiscriminately applied, and had now and then broken out, on observing some eccentricities which the Duchess occasionally exhibited, that had been too tempting for him to pass by. The effect of her Grace's reproof from Solomon had the benefit of arresting such sarcastic outbursts, and the youth committed no other transgression of a similar character.

The Duchess of Queensberry was an excellent woman, and had in her youth been deemed a striking beauty. She was tall, with a noble figure, and her face in advanced years was still handsome, scarcely exhibiting a wrinkle; a remarkable circumstance in a woman of her age. She was exceedingly charitable by nature [94] and visited herself all the poor people of Amesbury. A man there, used to make warm snug chairs of straw, worked beehive fashion. She suggested to him some considerable improvements as to form, deepening the sides, and canopying them above. She then furnished the poor people's cottages with one or two each, in case of sickness, and kept one constantly in her own drawing room, in which, when seated, she looked like an old Sybil, or Prophetess. The Duke was about her own age, and was a very good-humoured, amiable old man. While young Beckford was staying at Amesbury, the Duchess gave a ball for his entertainment. The greater part of the company came from Salisbury and other places at a distance, and their hospitable hostess gave them beds for the night, and literally filled her hospitable mansion. The consequence was, that no resting place could be found for the musicians, who were obliged to trudge home at night. The circumstance was told the next day to the Duchess, who observed, in her own whimsical manner, "Though I could not accommodate them in the house, they could not go home and say I had not found a 'down' [95] bed for them, if they chose to use it." Their way home lay across the Wiltshire downs.

Thus under private tutorship the subject of this memoir remained for about five years, his time divided between the town and country. He was now seventeen years old, and it had become time to consider what further steps should be taken to complete the education of one so favoured by the accident of fortune, both in regard to capacity and the means of enjoyment. Mrs. Beckford had imbibed a prejudice against the two great English universities, and on consulting her friends, it was finally resolved that young Beckford should finish his education at Geneva. Colonel Hamilton, to whom, by his mother's side, he was related, and who had served as a military man in the East Indies, had already taken up his residence at Geneva, with an elderly maiden sister, who superintended his household, for he was unmarried. He was a good-humoured and worthy man, who chancing to pay a visit to Mrs. Beckford, in London, in 1777, consented to receive her son into his house, while he remained in Geneva; his tutor was to reside close by. At Midsummer in the [96] above year young Beckford set out accordingly for Switzerland, where he arrived in the pleasantest season of the year.

At Geneva the young Englishman entered upon a course of instruction in civil law, and attended the lectures of that accomplished civilian, M. Naville, of Geneva. There too, he continued to receive lessons in fencing and riding. It has not been mentioned, because the date cannot be ascertained with precision, that before young Beckford left Fonthill for Geneva, in his seventeenth year, he had written his history of extraordinary painters. In a published conversation with Mr. Redding at Bath, he stated that he was no farther advanced in years when he composed that singular little volume. His first literary work, therefore, must have been completed before he set out for Geneva. The explanation he gave of the origin of this composition was, that he felt prompted to write something of the kind, by remarking the ridiculous memoirs and criticisms on certain Dutch painters of whom he had read in "Vies des Peintres Flamands." In the second place to play off a trick upon his parent's housekeeper [97] at Fonthill. This domestic used to get her fee by showing his father's house, and giving accounts of the different painters that executed the pictures. To his great amusement he had heard her bestow most extraordinary names upon the artists who painted them, until he wondered how such nonsense could enter her brain. Fond of satire, he thought the double exposure of the Flemish biographico-pictorial authorship, and the housekeeper's conceit and ignorance, excellent subjects for mystification – the temptation was irresistible - to ridicule such an absurdity, and to gratify his humour against the critics on Dutch art at the same time. Thus blending them together, he determined the housekeeper should have in future a printed guide to help her in her descriptions, and give them an air of greater fidelity. At that early age he had an inclination for a little mischief whenever an absurdity came in his way that deserved the lash; and this tendency grew with his years. His plan succeeded. It suited his humour to listen to descriptions more strange and graphic than ever, when the housekeeper went her rounds with strangers. Before [98] a picture of Rubens she would dilate on the skill of Og of Basan, or Watersouchy of Amsterdam, having the most ludicrous effect upon the rustic sight-seers of the vicinity, who, knowing no more of art than herself, seemed to listen to her descriptions with avidity. The most wonderful part in the execution of the work was, the knowledge of art, and of the descriptions of the Dutch biographers which it displayed, and which seemed to require more extended reading, and a longer study of art, than a youth of seventeen could, by any means, be supposed to possess, unless his education had been almost wholly directed to the subject. This, the author himself seems to have explained by saying, that very great pains had been taken with his education; that he was living in the midst of the better works of art, of which his father had made a noble collection, and that he had been always attracted towards similar subjects by his tutor. This accounted for the hits made in the memoirs against mannerism and false taste, both in painting and biography. He was thus sarcastic, harmlessly malicious, deeply observant, and sound in judgment to a degree rarely before witnessed in one so young.

[99] This work affects to give an account of certain eminent or rather "extraordinary" artists, to adopt the author's words, Aldrovandus Magnus, with his disciples Andrew Guelph and Og of Basan, Sucrewasser of Vienna, Blunderbussiana of Dalmatia, and Watersouchy of Holland. It is necessary the reader should become acquainted with the works thus deservedly exposed to satire, to comprehend their full force. By perusing the Lives of the Flemish Painters this will be effected. The sage discourse of Hemmelinck to persuade that great artist, Aldrovandus Magnus, out of his love for Ann Spindlemans, is excellent. "He accompanied his disciple (the artist in love), tried by sage discourse to set his conduct in its proper light, and told him, with his accustomed gravity, that what was right could not be wrong, and vice versâ. He added, that youth was the season of folly, and that passion was like an unbridled horse, a torrent without a dyke, or a candle with a thief in it, and ended by comparing Ann Spindlemans herself to a vinegar bottle, who would deluge the salad of matrimony with much more vinegar than oil." After two long hours in this highly figurative style, observing [100] his disciple's eyes nearly closed, he gave another fillip to his imagination and attempted to excite his attention by more splendid ideas. He represented to him what golden advantages would spring from his residence at Prague, what honours, what emoluments; and next he brought to view Duke Podebrac, with great solemnity appointing him his painter, and holding forth chains and medals decorated with costly gems, as the reward of his labours. These representations in a little time effaced Ann Spindlemans from his memory. Painters at all times are fond of toadying people of title. He goes at once to the Duke, meets an honourable reception; begins his "Moses in the Burning Bush" in such a masterly manner, that the young princess Ferdinanda Joanna Maria cries, "Mamma, la! I won't touch that bramble bush, for fear I should burn my fingers." This circumstance obtained great applause for her serene highness and her judgment in art; the Court was in raptures and the painter obtained an unparalleled reputation in the sphere of what philosophers would call "Dutch greatness." Thus Aldrovandus Magnus rose to fame and fortune. [101] Disciples, numberless, followed him, but two in an especial manner became renowned in the annals of painting, through his instructions. These two were Andrew Guelph and Og of Basan, ever after styled the "Disciples of Aldrovandus Magnus." The latter died for grief in consequence of the destruction of all the canvass in the district by fire, he having bought the whole of it for labours contemplated to be immortal. He died like Alexander, for want of superficies over which to extend his renown; Professor Clod Lumpewitz nightly insisting that the Macedonian artist was scandalized by those who accused him of dying of the bottle.

Of the foregoing disciples of the mighty artist, Aldrovandus Magnus, Og born in an obscure village in the wilds of Pomerania, the son of a farmer, one Geoffrey Simons, or Sikimonds, was early noticed by Prince Henry Suckingbottle, and Velde-Marshal Swappingback. Some supposed that his earthly fathers were dubious, and might have been illustrious, as those two grandees took much notice of his mother, and stood his godfathers by proxy, 1519, February 3rd, when he was christened Og of Basan. Guelph and [102] Og were boyish friends, grew up together, and displayed a similar genius. To quote the author:

"Their employments frequently called them into the fields, and it was in mutually delighting to observe nature, that they first imbibed the idea of imitating her productions. Seldom did the sun set before they had engraven upon the rocks the resemblances of some of the shrubs that grew from the fissures, or the likeness of several of the goats that came to drink at a spring beneath. The desire of excelling each other produced many surprising efforts of genius, and it happened that after they had amused themselves about five years in covering the neighbouring rocks with their sculptures, that Og's mother unfortunately lost a sheep on which she had placed her affections. Searching for her lost favourite, she climbed the rocks to which her son and his friend were accustomed to resort. The first object that struck her eyes, was the portrait of the animal for which she was looking, sketched out upon stone. When she returned home she could not help relating what she had seen to a Jew who frequented her house, and who had been educated a painter."

[103] On the foregoing incident depended the fortunes of these illustrious artists; the Jew undertook to cultivate their talents, and succeeded, no doubt turning them to his own account on the sly. They travelled to Prague in the depth of winter, the Jew having died at a critical moment for aiding their future prospects, and having sold their master's pictures as well as their own for a large sum. How they travelled over the Tyrol with mules, sketching all the way, Og's genius delighted with the glories and grandeur he witnessed on the mountains, and Guelph in the moonlight of the vales by which he pinched his guitar. One of his pictures in the Dusseldorf collection was a moonlight scene, with peasants in fine attitudes, a beautiful haze, aërial perspective, and masterly tints. Many connoisseurs gave the preference to that over any other kind they had ever seen. Andrew Guelph was a great botanist, and while too many later painters only do one thing indifferently, Guelph had numerous irons in the fire, thus exhibiting the extensive grasp of his genius. Og ascended the mountains to contemplate their sublimity, suffered his beard to grow, a mark in those days of the unsophisticated [104] artist, not as now, displaying his genius by baring his throat and neck with a thrown-back collar. He exhibited his drawings to his friends, discoursed of forests, of tints, of harmonies in colour, and how the mountains had taught him to compose lines, which if not poetry, were verses. The two friends then passed into Italy, made a noise among the conoscenti at Venice, where they found the great painters Soorcrout and Sucrewasser of Vienna. These last, by a meanness too remarkable in some clever artists, depreciated the studies of Guelph and Og, censured the varnish peculiar to Aldrovandus, condemned oils in general, and recommended white of eggs. They called the great Aldrovandus a plagiarist, who copied nature in place of the antique: told them they were nothing because they had not yet been at Rome, and seen Raphael; and worse than all, they had actually been born in Flanders! Og, full of temper and ardent of imagination, insisted that an assembly of the conoscenti should be convoked, a day appointed, and a cassino chosen for the rendezvous of the assembly. Andrew Guelph prepared his moonlight for the occasion, and Og of Basan a [105] wilderness, in which he introduced the Temptation of our Saviour. His rivals brought pieces which they esteemed capital. Signor Andrea Boccadolce, president of the society, having taken the chair, and the pictures being placed in a row before him, silence was proclaimed, and Og of Basan commanded to advance and vindicate the use his master, Aldrovaudus Magnus, had made of nut oil, preferable to white of egg, defended by Sucrewasser and Soorcrout.

Og of Basan obeyed, and with a modest assurance stepped into the middle of the assembly, hemmed three times, cast a terrible eye upon his antagonists, bowed to the president, and began in the following terms: -

"Had I even a third part of my toaster's merit, I should not without fear hazard my opinion before so respectable an assembly, distinguished by their profession, and still more by that rare knowledge and that taste in art which they have displayed on so many preceding occasions. Imagine not, illustrious Signors! I am ignorant of my rivals' merit. Their performances have doubtless met with no more than deserved applause; and had the hens of [106] your sacred republic ceased depositing their eggs, you could then have unanimously allowed the beauty evident in every stroke - for they might have been visible - but I confess the splendour of their incomparable varnish has bereft me of eyes to examine what I doubt not merits the most exact attention."

Here Soorcrout bit his lip, and Sucrewasser scratched his elbow; Signor Boccadolce whistled gently, and the conoscenti looked at one another as if they had never thought of this before. Og proceeded: -

"Aldrovandus, whom the Duke of Bohemia regretted to his last moments; Aldrovandus, the Pupil of Hemmelinck; Aldrovandus, who obtained the title of Magnus, anointed his pictures with nut oil. Show me a more illustrious example, and I will follow it. Ah! if we could recal this great man from the tomb in which I saw him interred, how ably would he defend the cause of nut oil. Had my feeble voice but half the unction of his tongue, I should confound you partizans of white of egg; I should drive you to despair. You would hide yourselves from this assembly. You would make an omelet [107] of your eggs, and bury them in your own entrails."

This was greatly applauded by the conoscenti, and Signor Boccadolce pronounced that no varnish but nut oil could smooth a wilderness, or give so amiable a polish to the devil's horns.

Andrew Guelph then uncovered his moon-light. The spectators were astonished, and no other varnish but nut oil was approved. Applauses were universal. Soorcrout and Sucrewasser stole away from Venice. The Pococurante family commanded a whole gallery of the works of the two artists. Og preceded Guelph to Rome, leaving his friend to finish the Pococurante gallery, and rejoin him. How he vent to Tivoli, fell in love and jilted the lady, who threw herself into the river beneath the Sybil's Temple; how graciously he was received by Cardinal Grossocavallo, who placed him in his palace and presented him to the pope, who commanded the altar pieces from him on subjects of great renown; one, the pious St. Denis bearing his own decapitated head, intended as a present for the King of France; the other, the Holy St. Anthony preaching to the fishes, designed as a [108] present to Frederick the Simple, King of Naples, in both which works Og appeared to excel himself. In the present to the French king, the astonishment of the head at finding itself off its own shoulders, was admirably expressed, and the whole fully as natural as that of any other man whoever bore such a burthen. In the other picture the countenances of the fishes expressed profound piety and veneration: some thought the countenances of the fish were so pious that they bore a resemblance to those of the conclave; but that was deemed untrue, because the painter had no pique against them. After this he began to reflect and moralize on the mortality of earthly things, disserted upon the doctrine of a plurality of worlds; and became overpowered with melancholy on seeing a broken column. Conscience now troubled him. He remembered the girl that died for his love. The following will afford a specimen of the writer in a more serious mood at the age of seventeen.

"The recollection of Tivoli now stole insensibly into his mind. He grew troubled, and reproached himself a thousand times with having deserted one who had sacrificed all for him. [109] Though he was ignorant of her sad fate, the delicacy of her sensations recurred to his memory with innumerable circumstances, which revived all his former tenderness, and many dreadful suspicions haunted his fancy. If he slept his dreams represented her in the well-known woods, wailing as in anguish, or on the distant shore of rapid torrents beckoning him to console her in vain, for the instant he attempted to advance, tempests arose, and whirlwinds of fire snatched her screaming from his sight. Often he imagined himself reclining by her side in meads of flowers, under a sky of the purest azure, and suddenly she would become ghastly pale, and frowning on him, drive him to a flood that rolled its black waves over terrifying precipices, and dashing into its current, drag him after her, and then he would wake in horror, crying 'I drown! I drown!' Indeed he seems to have been selected as an example of divine vengeance. Alone in this great capital, without a friend to administer consolation, or sustain his sinking spirits, he returned to Tivoli, fully resolved to make every reparation to her who had placed such unmerited confidence in his perjured breast. But ye [110] who have any sensibility, figure to yourselves the poignancy of his grief when the first object he beheld was a young man, the brother of her he had loved, and who had taken the monastic habit, shuddering at his sight, and exclaiming, 'Avaunt, wretch! My sister plunged into that torrent for thee - for thee she is lost for ever - and scarce three days did my mother survive her. Thou too shouldst join them, or I would die a thousand deaths, did not my order forbid me to vindicate my wrongs. 'Tis to my future hopes thou owest thy safety; but be gone, lest I break my vow, and sacrifice thee to my revenge.'"

Cowardice generally accompanies guilt; Og, terrified at the resolute aspect of the young man, and appalled by the lively sense of his wrongs, retired without making any reply, and remounting his horse, which he had led when he ascended the steeps of Tivoli, galloped away with astonishing swiftness, without determining where he should direct his route. In every passing wind he fancied he heard voices upbraiding him with his crimes; and cries denouncing them seemed to issue from every thicket he left be- [111] hind. "At length, harassed by continual fears, he stopped, towards the close of the evening, near the sepulchre of Cecilia Metella, and throwing himself from his wearied horse, which he left carelessly to drink at a fountain, sought the interior of the structure. Here, beneath a solitary pine, he folded his arms, and remained till night in silence, the image of despair. The screeches of noxious birds, which frequented the edifice, roused him from his trance. He started up, and quitted the ruin with terror, as if he had been personally guilty of murder, and without looking for his horse, turned his steps towards a garden he just distinguished in the twilight. As he had taken no sustenance the whole day, some branches loaded with fruit, that hung over the wall, offered themselves opportunely to allay his hunger. Whilst he was gathering them the moon arose, and discovered faintly the desolate scene around. There a pillar yet erect, with an humble shed beneath, whose roof leaned over its base. Here a tract of uncultivated ground strewed with fragments of superb edifices, long since laid low. There the remains of fountains and aqueducts, whose [112] hollow arches still echoed the murmurs of rivulets which forced their feeble course with difficulty through heaps of mouldering marble, and roots of fantastic laurels. Rome lay extended beyond, diversified by its domes and spires, and marked by a dim haze proceeding from the light of its palaces. The wanderer listened to the confused sounds of music, of revelry, and triumph, which arose from the numerous habitations but it was with disgust. He loathed every thing that was allied to joy, and abhorred all that bespoke festivity. He remained uneasy till the uproar ceased, and, when the surrounding regions were hushed in the most profound tranquillity, began his complaints. He was on the very point of depriving himself of existence, and walked to and fro, agitated by all the violent emotions of despair. Half the night was spent in vain lamentations, and the gray twilight was just beginning to be visible when, wearied with inquietude, he sunk down upon the ground, and fell into a slumber in which the scene hovered before his fancy. A fictitious city was stretched out before him, enlightened by a fictitious moon. The shade of her he had loved skimmed along [113] a colonnade, which cast its shadows on the plain, and then stood leaning on the lonely pillar, uttered a feeble groan, and glided by his side. Her wet garments, clinging round her delicate shape, her swollen eyes and drooping hands announced a melancholy fate. She seemed to say, ‘Why do my affections still linger on thee beyond the tomb! Why doth my pale bosom still cherish its wonted fires! How comes it that I do not appear riding on a sulphureous cloud, shaking a torch in my hand, and screaming out perjury! No, my gentle nature forbids me to injure thee. But mark! Quit yonder fatal city; seek the islands of the south, and mayst thou expiate thy crime!' The form then shed some visionary tears, and seemed to mingle with the mists of the morning. Og, awakened by the sun-beams, recollected his dream, and without even taking leave of the Cardinal Grossocavallo, in whose care he had deposited a coffer containing the reward of his pencil, heedlessly took the road to Naples, resolving to pass into Sicily, and end his days in that island."

No sooner said than done. At Rome he [114] entered a church, where he beheld his picture of Anthony preaching to the fishes, a picture receiving universal praise. One praised the saint's position, another the amiable physiognomy of a huge thunny, foremost of the piscatory auditory; and a third, a wag, wished it could be transferred to his own table. The officiating priest was in rapture when he found the painter of that blessed picture, and all were loud in his praises. Count Zigaggi, the minister, welcomed him in the king's name to Naples, assuring him of royal protection. In the meanwhile his friend Guelph went through various but less imaginative adventures, the satire being well kept up, and the "keeping," admirable. Guelph and Og both painted pictures for Count Zigaggi. His majesty presented him a diamond ring, and he had for a disciple a youth called Benboaro Benbacaio, who had studied under Julio Romano. At length he set off for Sicily, to abandon the deceitful world. Here he travelled among the fine scenery, and, while Guelph married a rich Sicilian girl, Og wandered about the island, and at length disappeared. Guelph survived only three years. The former artist was suspected [115] of having flung himself into the burning crater of Ætna, owing to his love-melancholy. Guelph's family, or descendants of it, are still traceable in Sicily. He left a son, a clever artist. The father is called by amateurs, to designate his works, "Old Andrew Guelph."

In treating of Sucrewasser of Vienna, before spoken about as having been beaten by Og and Guelph at Venice, the author informs us that his character and life differed wholly from those before described. The Sucrewassers were grocers at Vienna for many generations. The son had none of the fervor of genius - none of the graces of the imagination. He was a most frugal, consistent, regular character, who desired to make money by art, as modern painters do, and as he could do in his father's shop. Indeed at six years he put on the family apron, and at twelve was promoted to the desk, from which he was bound an apprentice to a herald painter, and learned at last the art of giving a due appearance of strength to a lion's paw, and a due court flourish to a dragon's tail. He was placed under a certain Italian artist, Signor Insignificanti, who, being rich, had a reputation [116] as an artist. Here he remained three years, just at the expiration of which term he and his Master painted a favourite lap-dog belonging to the Princess Dolgarouki. He quarrelled with his master as to how the pug was to be placed, whether on a blue or red velvet cushion. He then went to Venice, painted the four Seasons, and three Graces, and sometimes a few blind Cupids, with a lean Fury to set them off. He lived in peace, until he became acquainted with Soorcrout, and got into the quarrel about the white of egg and oil. Soorcrout went off to England from Venice, while Sucrewasser remained in the environs of Venice till the storm blew over. He painted a Salome, imitated from Titian, and sold it in England, it is presumed, as a genuine piece.

Blunderbussiana was an artist who followed a band of robbers, and studied from nature - a sort of Salvator Rosa. He was a great dissector: to acquire a mastership of the muscles, having plenty of subjects for practice from among the characters handled and rendered manageable in the act of pillage by knife or stiletto - he used to slice off the muscles [117] from legs and arms as he walked in the fields, in order to perfect his anatomical studies.

But perhaps the most characteristic and best sketched after his school, is Watersouchy, of Amsterdam, born in the Kalverstraat, opposite the hotel of Etanshasts, next door to the Blue Lion. His family had been candle-makers in Amsterdam for a long period, and had risen by slow gradations from making farthing starvelings to aristocratic wax dealing. Ten whole eights were consumed at his birth, an expense his frugal Dutch friends had never before incurred at feast or funeral. His genius was kindled by some designs for making Brussels point: he imitated them, and his mother had them glazed. Artists in the pictorial way, these biographers tell us, uniformly exhibit such precocious marks of genius. A noble artist, named Van Cuyck de Mierhop, most illustrious in regard to his ancestry, having a marvellous genius for painting eatables, old women, and such like furniture of still life, was pleased with young Watersouchy. He himself visited the boy's father from pure love of art. He often met well-furrowed old women there, saw the plumpest [118] soles on the table, as well as legs of beef for study, and all manner of joints, in delineating which his taste for nature in any shape led him to excel. The subjects of his pencil harmonizing with his palate, be became doubly inspired. It was under such a faithful copier of the social natural, that the youth of this promising artist was passed. When he could almost rival his master, the last in the most disinterested manner recommended he should be placed under the patronage of Gerard Dow, so renowned for the exquisite finish of his pictures. Old Watersouchy asked his wife's opinion on the matter, and whether painting was a genteel profession for their son - whether it was respectable? Mierhop, who was by, and heard the conversation, smiled with disdain. The lady replied it was one of the liberal arts, and Watersouchy became the pupil of Dow. Never were colours so nicely ground and kept as those of Dow. The shape of his phials for oils and varnishes was stamped with the elegant taste of Holland, as to form. Dow made him open his cabinet and studio with excessive caution when he entered either of them, and he was to sit [119] motionless for some time before beginning to work, lest any particle of dust should fall upon his canvass. The pupil refined upon his master's precautions in everything; a mark of his superior genius. He learned Latin, and was taught the violin by a barber who sat as a model to Dow.

The author then goes on to describe the improvement of the artist in the peculiar excellencies of the Dutch school.

"To describe exactly," he wrote, "the masterly group of the gossips, the demureness of the maiden aunts, the puling infant in the arms of its nurse, the plaits of its swaddling clothes, the gloss of its ribbons, the fringe of the tablecloth, and the effect of light and shade on a salver adorned with custard cups and jelly glasses, would require at least fifty pages. In this space, perhaps, these details might be included; but to convey a due idea of that preciseness, that air of decorum, which was spread over the whole picture, surpasses the power of words."

Again, "He rose to the highest place in the esteem of that incomparable artist (Dow), who, [120] after eight years had elapsed, suffered him to groupe without assistance. An arm chair of the richest velvet and a Turkey carpet were the first compositions of which he claimed the exclusive honour. The exquisite drawing of these pieces was not less observable than the softness of their tints, and the absolute nature of their colouring. Every man wished to sit down on the one, and every dog to repose in the other."

How he lost his father and shared the funeral feast, and set off afterwards with strong recommendations to Antwerp, "for the advance of his reputation." How he was introduced there to M. Baise-la-main, the great banker, to whom everybody pointed, a "gentleman in a modest peruque, blue coat with gold frogs, and black velvet breeches." How well the artist was received, caressed, flattered, is all detailed. "M. Baise-la-main leading the obsequious Watersouchy through several large halls and long passages, till they entered a rich apartment, where a circle of company, very splendidly attired, rose up to receive them. Half an hour was spent in presenting the artist to every individual. At length a pause in the ceremony [121] ensued, and then the congratulations with which he had been first received, were begun anew with redoubled ardour. Watersouchy, finding himself surrounded by so many solemn ruffs, and consequential farthingales, was penetrated with the sublimity of etiquette, and thought himself in the very Athens of politeness. This service of rites and ceremonies, with which strangers in those times were ushered into Antwerp, being hardly ended, the company began at length to relax into some degree of familiarity."

The painter next visited the great banker's cabinet. He had been introduced to Mieris and Sibylla Marian, noted artists of the day, who carried minuteness and delicacy of touch to the highest point of perfection. These artists engrossed a superlatively fine gilded corner of the banker's apartment, having a chimney-piece encrusted with fine China porcelain. The board that closed up the chimney in fine weather, was a capital Pietâ by Julio Romano, which struck Watersouchy as a complete eyesore in art - such limbs! Being conscious they were out of his reach, he condemned them as out of nature. [122] His admiration was an apothecary's shop by Mieris, and a Cupid holding a garland of flowers, by Marian. This lady was in high esteem with him, from her nicety of touch. She was full of propriety, on which account she married Jean Gruff, of Nuremberg, that she might study the nude in a modest way. He condemned Polemberg for his woody landscapes, the appearance of much happiness, the antique temples, the rills, and bathing nymphs he executed, though he liked the minuteness while he condemned the choice of his subject. M. Baise-la-main, while he loved Polemberg, thought his buildings and scenes confused and unintelligible, and not at all equal to those comfortable habitations which Mieris painted with such minute accuracy. Mieris, then present, bowed, and Watersouchy, encouraged, censured a scene where Polemberg had introduced a group of ruins - why not have substituted the great church at Antwerp in perfection, in place of those Roman lumps of confusion and decay? Instead of garden flowers of all colours, his foregrounds were covered with all manner of woods, and as much time was spent upon finishing a dock-leaf as if it had been a [123] most estimable carnation. Then naked figures, a Cupid or two, might not be amiss, but an artist lost all his opportunities by omitting full dress, the glory of the pencil, for earrings and bracelets displayed the perfection of an artist's touch. All the science was united in a carpet, grouping, colouring, shading, effect, everything. Polemberg was ruined by going to Italy, and quitting Elsheimer for the caprices of Raphael.

Supper was served in a large hall, where hung the decollation of Holophernes by Mabuse, and a brawn's head by Mierhop. One guest was the Burgomaster Van Gulph, with a glowing nose and fair skin, from whose band of the finest lace the artist could scarcely take off his eyes. These compliments passed without end, and Watersouchy set to work in Antwerp. First, he arranged his palette, pencils, and tools with all the precision of Gerard Dow. He was six weeks grinding his colours, composing his own peculiar varnish, and preparing his canvass. In a fortnight more he had decided upon a subject, an interior perspective of M. Baise-la-main's counting-house, at the moment when heaps of gold glittered on the counter, and citizens were [124] depositing their plate and jewels. The sunshine displayed every legend on the coin, and in three months the picture was some way advanced. The great artist meanwhile employed his leisure in practising jigs and minuets on the violin, and wrote the first chapter of Genesis on a watch-paper, adorned with a miniature of Adam and Eve, so exquisitely small, and yet so well finished that every ligament in their fig-leaves was visible. The ladies were delighted with the artist. M. Baise-la-main settled a pension upon him, merely to have the refusal of his labours. His works were published at such an extravagant price, and so eagerly sought by the ever-discerning public, that he refused to sketch a slipper or design an ear-ring under two hundred florin. He became artistically vain and confident. In a picture of the Burgomaster Van Gulph he exhausted minuteness. He baffled Mieris, numbering even the hairs in his sister's eyelashes; and the carbuncle at the end of his nose, which had baffled Mieris, he rendered in full splendour. He resided with its owner while thus employed, and the admiration he received made Watersouchy mentally exclaim – “You are [125] worthy to possess me!" He painted his new patron's wife, not in still life, but busy watering a capsicum. Her ruffle, though admirable, was nothing to her hands and arms. Gerard Dow had bestowed five days' work on those parts of the lady's person. Watersouchy spent a month in giving the fingers only the touches of perfection. Each finger had its ring so tinted, as at first sight almost to deceive a clever jeweller.

This was the artist's last great work. His health failed, but he bore up, and became cheerful at times in the company of a few old ladies. He took cordials, became fond of news about tulips, and painted little pieces for his early comforters, such as a dormouse, or a cheese with mites. His old patrons saw his genius was extinguishing, and his difficulty of breathing increasing.

Mr. Beckford concluded the life of Watersouchy, and his own volume, in the following words: –

“’I have been troubled with an asthma for some time,' said the artist (Watersouchy), in a faint voice.

“’So I perceive,' said M. Baise-la-main. "More of this interesting conversation has not [126] been communicated to me, and I find an interval of three months in his memoirs, marked by no other occurrence than his painting a flea. After this last effort of his genius, his sight grew dim, his oppression increased, he almost shrunk away to nothing, and in a few weeks dropped into his grave."

The knowledge displayed of the Dutch school of art, and the progress of an artist of that nation from the parental dwelling to the height of his fame, might have been acquired from the "Vies des Peintres Flamands;'' but the satire, the application of the lessons, the predispositions of artists, and modes of thinking common to some, and the keen, sly blows at amateurs, those bursts of irrational admiration and that dying off which the crowd exhibits at any nine days' wonder, it does not comprehend - these are from the author alone, and amidst grotesque writing show deep reflection. At seventeen, such a result is still less common than a theoretical insight into art. He looks into human motive, begetting a contempt carried perhaps too far for things that must be taken as we find them, or not at all. But they look us full in the face [127] with their truth, and present us, above all, with the delicate cutting moral at the close of the life of the painter, broken down with asthma; the "so I see," contrasted with the pompous entertainment given him by the Antwerp banker. Here is displayed a history of artistic patronage, and that in a very few words, altogether realizing the common lesson of Solomon upon human vanity, continually repeated by the writer in conversation in his lifetime, while apparently contradicting it by action in the eyes of the world. This, though a little, is a most extraordinary work to those who, with educated minds and some reading in art, are enabled to see the author's aim, and be amused, not with the depth of his matter, but the keenness and truthfulness of his satire.

The date of the composition of this volume has been already noted in relation to Mr. Beckford's life. He was at Geneva in his seventeenth year - it should have been, it is most probable, his eighteenth.* Thither we must return.


[p. 80] * "Little did I expect," said an individual who waited on the Lord Mayor Beckford about the Bedford petition - "Little did I think,'' writing in 1816, that the child I once saw at Eton Bray rolling on the carpet, about a year old, would become the noted Mr. Beckford of Fonthill."
[p. 127] * In conversation with Mr. Redding at Bath, Mr. Beckford stated his seventeenth year. He returned from Geneva, after a residence with his tutor there of about a year and a half, in November, 1778.

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