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In person our Scots Hogarth had nothing attractive. His figure was a bad resemblance of his humorous precursor of the English metropolis. He was under the middle size; of a slender, feeble make, with a long, sharp, lean, white, coarse face, much pitted by the small pox, and fair hair. His large, prominent eyes of a light colour, looked weak, near sighted, and not very animated. His nose was long, and high; his mouth wide; and both ill shaped. His whole exterior, to strangers, appeared unengaging, trifling, and mean. His deportment was timid, and obsequious.
The prejudices, naturally excited by these external disadvantages, at introduction, however, were soon dispelled on acquaintance; and, as he became easy and pleased, gradually yielded to agreeable sensations; till they, insensibly, vanished; and were not only overlooked, but, from the effect of contrast, even heightened the attractions by which they were, so unexpectedly, followed. When in company he esteemed, that suited his taste, as restraint wore off, his eye, imperceptibly, became active, bright, and penetrating; his manner and address, quick, lively, and interesting, always kind, polite, and respectful; his conversation, open, gay, humorous, without satire, and communicative, playfully replete with benevolence, observation, and anecdote. On the anti
quities, and literary history of his country, he had employed much of his attention, and delighted to discourse. The following additional character of him has been given, which he well deserved. "His private life was marked by the strictest honour, and integrity. His manners were gentle, unassuming, and obliging. He will be long remembered, and his loss regretted, by every one who enjoyed the happiness of his friendship." Biogr. Scot.
As a painter, at least in his own country, heneither excelled in drawing, composition, colouring, nor effect. Like Hogarth, too, beauty, grace, and grandeur, either of individual outline and form, or of style, constitute no part of his merit. He was no Correggio, Raphael, or Michael Angelo. He painted portraits, as well as Hogarth, below the size of life; but they are recommended by nothing, save a strong homely resemblance. They are void of all the charms of elegance; and of the claro-obscuro. As an artist, and a man of genius, his characteristic talent lay in expression; in the imitation of nature with truth and humour ; especially in the ludicrous representation of laughable incidents in low life, where her more animated, and more varied, effects, operate most powerfully and freely, unfettered, and undisguised, by the drill of ceremonious uniformity; and where blunders and absurdities, are most numerous, and striking. His
vigilant eye lay always on the watch, for every eccentric figure, every motley group, or ridiculous incident, out of which his pencil, or his needle, could draw innocent entertainment and mirth.
As already noticed, all the dramatis personæ of his scenes, and the scenes themselves, for The Gentle Shepherd, are portraits, selected from particular nature. His character, as a painter, was marked precisely by the same features with that of Allan Ramsay, as a poet. He has done ample justice to his meaning, and humour; because his opportunities of observation, from his acquaintance with his originals, were the same, and their minds being congenial, the effects these produced were alike on both. Allan's pictures, are but Ramsay's scenes realized, and presented to the eye. Both, equally, possessed similar powers of perceiving, and perpetuating, whatever is ridiculous, or uncouth, in shape, dress, attitude, expression, or association; of imitating, arresting, and preserving, for the entertainment, and information of posterity, by the only possible means of doing so, those genuine characteristic differences in figure, cast of features, manner, and modes of life, appropriate to every age, and district, so varied, discriminative, and striking, yet so difficult to catch precisely with the pencil, and so elusive of every effort at description with the pen; of exhibiting pure, unaffected
nature, peculiar, as well as general, with truth; and of drawing the emotions and passions, under their real, and particular effects, and appearances at the scenes of action: But the meaning of the poet, unavoidably, remained imperfect, and obscure, without the explanations of the painter.
In New-Hall House there is an excellent portrait of our Scots Hogarth, painting from a statue, after a picture done in the year 1774, by Dominico Corvi at Rome; and also most correct likenesses in basso relievo of Mr and Mrs Allan, received from his widow, which were taken for, and under the direction of, the painter himself, by the celebrated Tassie, forming one elegant, spirited, and beautiful piece of sculpture within the same oblate oval frame.
POEMS connected with, and referred to, in the ILUSTRATIONS; from the Works of Dr ALEXANDER PENNECUIK of New Hall, published in the year 1715.
To my FRIEND; inviting him to the Country.
SIR; fly the smoke, and clamour of the town: Breathe country air; and see the crops cut down: Revel o'er Nature's sweets; dine on good beef; And praise the granter of the plenteous sheaf.
Free from all care we'll range thro' various fields, Studying those plants which mother Nature yields, In Lyne's meandering brook we'll sometimes fish; The trout's a brave, but no expensive dish. When limbs are wearied, and our sport is done, We'll trudge to Cantswalls, by the setting sun; And there, some hours, we'll quaff a cup of ale, And smoke our pipe, backed by a wanton tale. We'll read no Courant which the news home brings; For what have we to do with wars, or kings? We'll ne'er disturb our heads with state affairs; But talk of plough, and sheep, and country fairs. Churchmen's contentions we abhor to hear : They're not for conscience, but for worldly gear. We'll fear our God; wish well to king and nation; Worship, on Sabbath, with the congregation; Thus live in peace; and die in reputation.
The Author's ANSWER, to his brother JAMES PENNECUIK's many letters dissuading him from staying longer in the Country; and inviting him to come and settle his residence, and follow his employment, in Edinburgh.
His brother was a practising member of the Faculty of Advocates.
say I have both genius and time,
To make friends merry with my country rhyme ;